I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Get Your Chopsticks Out! Part I

Hellooo... Anybody there? Just checking, with the Memorial
Day long weekend and all. I've been promising this post for a while now so at least, y'all get to read it when you get back... ;-)

Mmmmmm... Asian cuisine. Just the thing for this change of season. It's light and quick to prepare, and with the gorgeous array of colors, a pleasure for the eyes as well. Effortless artwork!

We've really been enjoying our share of delicious Asian meals lately; ever since rediscovering sprouted mung beans and falling in love with them all over again. So much so that I've been coming up with a different variation of 'Chop Suey' nearly every week. I thought to myself: "This is getting ridiculous! I better start posting some of these recipes or I won't be able to keep up with the backlog!"

Eni Mini Myni Miso
Miso Soup; a masterpiece of tastefulness and simplicity. Well, the traditional one anyways. (Wait 'til you see our 'Anything Goes' version! It's got pretty much everything but the kitchen sink in it! lol) Here are several raw renditions of miso soup that may lack in authenticity, but certainly not in deliciousness. Hummmm, decisions, decisions. Which one are you gonna make first?

Simple Miso Soup
Garlic, minced
Ginger, grated
Seaweed: piece of kombu and small handful of wakame
A few shitake mushrooms, sliced
Baby bok choi, sliced
Green onion. sliced
Red pepper, cubed

Warm up the water, seaweed, garlic and ginger on the stove for a few minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Spread about 1 tbs of miso of your choice along the inside of a bowl. Add a little warm water and stir so as to dissolve the miso .

Add the veggies and pour more warm water on top. Enjoy!

Don and I recently had this excellent soup from Woody Harrelson's site. Intense with just a touch of sweetness.

Creamy Miso Soup
Posted by Woody Harrelson

A savory, sweet creamy miso soup to make all miso soup blush. This soup also makes a great dipping sauce for sushi rolls.

1 medium avocado
2 Roma tomatoes, or 1 nice tomato cut in half, seeds removed
2 cups coconut water or 1 cup fresh OJ + 1 cup water
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons white miso
2 tablespoons red miso (If only 1 type of miso is available: use all 4 tablespoons white miso total or only 3 tablespoons red miso total.)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup water, or as necessary to thin
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, outer skin removed, finely sliced
4 tsp hulled hemp seed or sesame seeds

Cut tomatoes in half and remove seeds. In a blender or food processor:

Blend avocado, tomato, coconut water or OJ + water, lemon juice, miso, garlic and ginger until smooth. Add 1/2 cup or more fresh water as necessary to thin the soup to desired consistency. I like it to be thick. Add chopped parsley and blend for several pulses until mixed in. Sprinkle with chopped green onion and hemp seeds or sesame. Serve room temperature or gently warmed.

Serves 2-4

Carmella's Note: We used half the amount of miso called for and added some seaweed in our bowls.

This lovely photo is of a miso soup posted on A Raw Yogi Journal. If you aren't already familiar with her gem of a blog, you might want to browse around a little. You'll find an abundance of simple recipes accompanied with stunning photography.

'Anything Goes' Miso Soup
This recipe isn't fully raw but I thought I'd include it anyways. It used to be one of our major staples while on a high raw diet. A wonderful 'meal-in-a-soup' that totally hits the spot on a cold winter day.

5 or 6 cups of water
Piece of kombu seaweed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 " piece of ginger root, finely grated

Veggies of choice: (We liked to put some of each. Like I said, a MEGA soup! lol)
1 - 2 cups broccoli stalk, chopped up and florets
1 - 2 cups cauliflower, chopped up
A couple of " of zucchini, chopped up
1 med. carrot, thinly sliced diagonally or grated
1 celery stalk, sliced diagonally
1 green onion, sliced diagonally
1 tomato, cubed
1/2 avocado, cubed
A little red or yellow pepper, cubed (opt)
2 tbs of miso (or more)
Handful fresh parsley and cilantro
A touch of lemon juice
2 sheets of nori

Start off by bringing the water to boil, along with the kombu, garlic and ginger. In the meantime, work on preparing the veggies.

Add broccoli and cauliflower to the boiling water and simmer just long enough to get the veggies tender.

Note: You might want to have everything ready before adding the veggies to the water, as you don't want these to overcook.

Then spread about 1 tbs of miso of your choice along the inside of a large bowl. Then add a little water and stir so as to dissolve the miso.

Fill your bowl with the fresh and lightly cooked veggies and top off with broth.

Break up pieces of nori, sprinkle with herbs and add a touch of lemon juice, if desired.

Serves 2

Swimming Noodles
There's a Thai Soup joint I used to go to where customers tackling their fare with a spoon in one hand and chopsticks in the other was a common sight. You might need to do the same with the next two soups. Makes it the more unusual and fun!

Asian Noodle Soup - Variation I

3 cups almond milk
1/2 avocado
Garlic and ginger, chopped up
1 - 2 tablespoons of miso (depending on how salty you like it)

1 small carrot
1 small parsnip
1/2 small zucchini

1/4 cup yellow or red pepper, chopped
Green onion, chopped
Wakame or broken up nori (opt)

First, let's play a little and work on the noodles. Put the veggies through your spiralizing gadget of choice. (My personal favorite is Benriner Chef's Help.) Then put the spiralized veggies in slightly warm water while you work on the broth.

Next, blend broth ingredients in blender until smooth. Warm up gently on the stove, stirring constantly.

Put the noodles into serving bowls and pour broth over them.

Sprinkle toppings and serve.

Makes 2 servings

Asian Noodle Soup - Variation II

2 cups nut milk
1/4 cup red bell pepper
1 cup tomato
1/2 avocado
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
3 tablespoons cilantro
1 tablespoon of miso

Meat of 1 young Coconut

For serving:
1 green onion, finely chopped
Big handful of spinach, finely slivered
A little red pepper, chopped

We'll begin with the noodles. First thing is to crack that babe open. If you're not sure how, check this site for a demo complete with photos and even a video too! Then, with a big spoon, gently scrape the flesh out of one young coconut. The idea is to make strips as long as possible. Then with a sharp knife, cut into thin noodles. It's a little work but oh so yummy! Put these in warm water while working on the broth.

Blend broth ingredients until smooth. Gently warm up on the stove, stirring constantly.

Place noodles in bowls and top with broth.

Serve with slivered spinach, chopped green onions and red pepper. (Whatever happened to those red pepper cubes in the above photo? Ah well.... Must have sunk to the bottom! lol)

Serves 2

Carmella's Note:
If you haven't got some nut milk readily made, just use a couple of handfuls of nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamias, walnuts...), ground up and some water.

Both these soups could be enjoyed with noodles of your choice or none at all.

Let's end this Asian Soup Fest on a truly exotic note. (Can you tell I've got it for soups?) When we first tried this, we were astounded by the unique blend of spices. Epicurean delight indeed. Just a word of advice though, you might want to take it a little easy on the Chinese Spice! ;-)

Oriental Popeye Soup
(Sorry, I've misplaced the author of this recipe!)

7 cups of water
1 med. yellow onion (Cut long and thin)
2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms (More if you prefer)
1 bunch of Spinach (Chopped)
1/3 cup of Macadamia (Ground)
1 tbsp coconut oil (I use Natural Zing's Coconut oil yum!)
2 tbsp of Chinese Spice or more if you like (Star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seed and white pepper)
1 tbsp rubbed sage or more
1/2 tsp Garlic chips (If you like fresh go for it)
1 tbsp Fine Herbs (Parsley, Green onion, Chervil, Tarragon) or more
1.5 tbsp chili powder
2-3 tbsp of Tamari sauce
Sea salt to taste

Warm water to 116-118. Place all the ingredients in pan except Spinach.

Keep heat at 118 or below and stir well, then when the aromatic alchemy happens or 15 to 20 mins later which ever comes first, then put in the Spinach. Let it find its place among its brothers and sis's sit a bit and let it soften and then taste this raw Epicurean delight!

Sides Asian-Style
Guess Popeye's sea journeys have taken him all over the globe, eh? But let's move away from the soup department and have a look at a few side dishes.

Here is a lovely salad I've shared in a previous post, but that well deserves the extra attention:

Thai Salad
From "Eating without Heating" by the Boutenko kids

4 cucumbers
Juice of 1 1/2 lemon
1 bunch dill
1 bunch cilantro
1 medium onion diced
3 tsp hot curry powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 tbs honey
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup soaked sunflower seeds

Peel and slice the cucumbers into thin circles and transfer to a bowl. Next finely chop the cilantro and dill and mix with the cucumbers. Add the onion, lemon juice, and the olive oil. Finish by adding the rest of the ingredients and mixing well.

Makes 5-8 servings

Here's for you, mushroom lovers... We haven't had a chance to prepare this one just yet, but it sure sounds delish! Yet one more recipe to add to my ever-expanding 'to make' list!

Shitake Ginger Salad
Posted by livingfoodsmama on Raw Food Talk

About 1/4 lb. of Shitakes
1/4 lb. Criminis
1 medium red onion
1 Medium Cucumber diced small
2 inches cut up ginger
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lb. grated daikon
1 grated carrot
1/4 head chopped salad
1/2 C black sesame seeds

about 1/4 - 1/2 C Braggs
2 t of raw honey
1/4 C - 1/2 C olive oil
crushed red pepper
garlic powder
ginger powder

Mix and eat. Served 2 as a main course. Yum Yum

Looking to dress up your green salad while complementing your Asian meal? Anna of The Raw Table.com has a fabulous 'Orange Sesame Salad Dressing' on her site that will do that beautifully.

Don and I tried Bok Choi on a couple of occasions last summer. We weren't exactly sold on the taste though, finding it a little too strong to our liking. But that was before we discovered Baby Bok Choi and this lovely vinaigrette.

Marinated Bok Choy

From The Complete Book of Raw Food
Originally posted by Vanessa on Raw Food Talk

Bok Choi (I used Baby Bok Choi as it is milder in taste.)

1 lime juiced
1 lemon juiced
4-5 dates (medjool), pitted
1 T. ginger
3 T. nama shoyu
1/2 c. olive oil

Blend until completely smooth in a Vita Mix. Toss the bok choy with the marinade and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it gets creamy.

Ferment From The Orient
While I've been making sauerkraut this past winter, I have yet to try my hand at 'Kim Chi'; a Korean version of fermented veggies. Still, I thought I could at least point you in the right general direction in case you're tempted to experiment with a homemade version. You might want to have a look here, where Morningstar of RFT has shared several recipes from her days in Korea.

This next recipe was provided by Mike of The Raw Diet.com, where we got our Sauerkraut, Pickle and Kimchi Maker, and which I absolutely adore.

Hot and Spicy Kim Chee
From “Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine” by Gabriel Cousens

4 Cups green cabbage, shredded (save 3-4 outer leaves)
2 Cups Napa cabbage, shredded
2 Cups carrots, grated
1 Cup Daikon radishes, grated

Mix vegetables in a large bowl.

4 jalapeno chilies
2 Tablespoons ginger, grated
1 Tablespoon Miso, any type (I prefer the brand South River Miso) or use a teaspoon of probiotics, or use a previous batch of sauerkraut as a starter.

Blend Chilies, ginger, and miso with 2 Cups water and stir into mixed vegetables.

Spoon mixture into crock or gallon glass container. Pound mixture to release juices and remove all the air.

Top off (to cover cabbage) with a little water if mixture is dry. Cover with outer cabbage leaves to create a tight seal with edge of container. Set a plate on top of cabbage leaves and weight down with suitable-sized rocks (or other object). (The small lid in the Kraut jar takes the place of the heavy weight).

Leave Kim Chee in warm (60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit) place for 5 days. Do not uncover during this period.

After 5 days, remove covering, scraping away top layer of vegetables (do not be concerned if you see mold; remove top layer and the rest is still good).

Kim Chee will become acidic as it ferments, but it takes on a sweeter smell and flavor when it is ready to eat.

Well, I guess I'll stop here for now and catch a little breather.

I'll be back shortly with delicious and colorful Asian entrees 'in the Raw', so don't put away your chopsticks just yet....

Photo Credits:
Chopsticks by sparktography

Friday, May 18, 2007

It's Party Time!!!

Since announcing Sunday's big event yesterday, a mega virtual birthday/fund-raiser/house warming party, Don and I have been brainstorming like crazy, coming up with lots of ways to make the official launch of Raw Freedom Community fun and exciting for you all!

A Little Something For Everyone
Here are some of the things you might want to do while visiting our new forum:

- Find out what RFC is about by looking at the FAQs (under 'Quick Start Guide')

- Learn more about all the different Forum Projects

- Suggest what boards/sub-forums you would like to see on RFC (under 'Suggestion Box')

- Meet our members and/or tell us a little about yourself (under 'Introduce Yourself')

- Read Don's recent post 'Financial Freedom (Even For Dummies!)' (under the main 'Forum Announcements' section), in which he describes the latest developments in the Financial Freedom Club (FFC), and briefly highlights the various features it has to offer

- Get a guaranteed income by paying $5.00 and becoming a member of FFC (under 'Introduction To FFC and Membership Information')

- Talk about what it's like 'Living in the Raw' (under The Sunny Raw Community Kitchen)

- Look through our ever-growing virtual recipe book, or post your favorites raw recipes

- Drool over mouth-watering recipe photos in the 'Photo Only Thread', or post some of your own raw creations! (under 'Raw Food Prep')

- Browse through our 'Library'

- Read or share 'Inspiring Quotes'

- Just 'Hang Out' in the 'Members Area' and talk about whatever...

- Set up your homepage, start a blog, or build your network via our awesome new Zoints Local feature.

- Find out how you can easily become eligible for our RFC Charter Members Freedom Fund

So hopefully none of our visitors will have trouble finding something that interests them!

Recipes Wanted
No party worth its name would be complete without good food (and LOTS of it too! lol) Why not bring along one of your raw creations, and submit it to the 'Recipe of the Month' contest? (More info in 'The Recipes' section). If everyone who attends the RFC Launch Party Week contributes just a single recipe, imagine the wonderful virtual potluck we could have! ;-)

Fun! Fun! Fun!
There will also be a number of fun activities held throughout the week, including a treasure hunt and raffles with a bunch of prizes. Make sure to check the 'Forum Announcements' section to find out all the juicy details.

Oh, and don't forget to tell your friends about our party! As the saying goes... "The more the merrier!"

Our new forum's address is:

Looking forward to seeing you all! ;-)

PS As if all that wasn't enough reason to stop by, I've heard through the grapevine that Raw Goddess Heathy/Fairygirl will be popping in, all the way from Australia. It will be a good chance for us to find out what she's been up to lately!

PPS At least we don't have to worry about our party getting rained out! lol

Photo Credits:

Partied Their Heads Off by eyeFlashes

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Kitchen Inspection Before The Big Party

Well, I gotta tell you, our forum, Raw Freedom Community, feels a lot better now that it isn't so empty! ;-) It's been a really incredible last few days! Don and I are totally charged up and energized as the community is slowly coming to life.

While everyone was settling in their new web-based home, the Sunny Raw Kitchen passed inspection with flying colors as Billy Mac of Critique My Blog had a little look around this week. Here's what he had to say...

"What do you think when I describe the following grocery list:

35 lbs apples
25 lbs oranges
15 lbs bananas
8 lbs lemons and limes
5 lbs of fruits (depending on what's available)
20 lbs carrots
4 lbs celery
2 or 3 lbs lettuce
3 lbs greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, etc.)
3 lbs tomatoes
3 lbs avocados
2 lbs beets

Do you think that it is the shopping list for your local restaurant? What would you say if I told you it was this blogger's weekly consumption. That's right...Raw food is the way they go. I think these lifestyles are incredible and so interesting to read about. If you want to get a truly inside look into the world of eating raw food as a lifestyle then I urge you to stop by this extremely well presented blog. Also...look for the raw food forum coming soon where you can interact and join a virtual community. Keep up the fantastic work and good luck with the forum...I'm sure it will be a success!"

Thanks Billy! You're a sweet man! Feels so good to have your work appreciated.

And The Winners Are...
On a different note, many took on the challenge I put out in my latest blogpost, and made their way to Raw Freedom Community's new site. Some actually had quite the journey, still they persevered...

As you may recall, the first 30 people to discover our web-based home and join RFC in response to our little treasure hunt, qualified to receive a free copy of my upcoming ebook, 'The Best Of The Sunny Raw Kitchen'. Find out who the lucky winners are here.

Preparing For The Party
We've been working hard at getting RFC all spruced up before officially opening our doors this weekend. It's Don's birthday (59 years young) on Sunday, so we thought we'd throw a huge virtual b-day/house warming party!

Hope you'll all come hang out and join us for the fun at Raw Freedom Community Forum's new site:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Our Big News (Or Shower In The Kitchen)

Springtime; a season of cleansing and awakenings; changes and new beginnings. Right?

Just a month ago, I remember thinking to myself: "Well, nothing big for us this year!" Energy had been gushing through so strongly all winter, it was hard to conceive how our lives could possibly get 'amped up' even more. Wouldn't you know it, a few days later, Don was presenting me with an idea that was to rawk our world to its core. Another lesson in never underestimating Life and its unfathomable grand schemes!

With my scarce appearances on Raw Food Talk, and my mysterious references to a new big project, some of you might be wondering what I've been up to lately. What better time than Mother's Day to throw a shower party, and announce the birth of our brand spanking new baby?

Taking It To The Next Level
I was telling you recently about how The Sunny Raw Kitchen has been an incredible adventure, going beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Even though blogging is a fantastic medium to share, I've also become increasingly aware of its limitations. I mean, a blog is, after all, mostly a one person show.

While there's nothing wrong with that, I find that I learn so much from an environment where there can be lively discussions and exchanges of ideas. This is why I've been hanging around Alissa Cohen's Raw Food Talk a great deal in the last 7 months. A forum is such a fantastic, effervescent interface to connect with other people who share similar passions and interests.

The possibility of starting my own raw food forum had crossed my mind, but I had envisioned that being somewhat further down the road. When Don told me, a few weeks ago, how he saw that a forum was the next logical step on our path, I was shocked. Yet, it was immediately apparent that he was right, and we were on our way...

Not long ago, we came upon a fantastic book called "Simpleology", in which the author speaks about the necessity of focusing one's energies on a single goal at a time. When you divide your attention amongst a number of interests, you are compromising the chance of success in all of them. This confirmed what had become more and more evident to us; we needed to stop fragmenting ourselves all over the net (which is so easy to do!) and to bring our different passions under a single roof.

After a little over 3 weeks of intensive work (talk about a short gestation time! lol), Don and I are almost ready to open the virtual doors to;

Raw Freedom Community Forum.

Our Vision
We've been holding the vision of building a community for years, although we never imagined that it would be a web-based one! This project is an extension of our desire to join with and assist others, in our common journey towards a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.

It is our intention for Raw Freedom Community (RFC) to be:

A warm, supportive and nurturing environment where we can let our guard down and help one another, without the ever looming threat of rules and politics...

A space where everyone is treated equally, and where generated profits are distributed evenly amongst all members...

A place where we can explore the inherent power of real cooperation...

A virtual space where we can meet other like-minded individuals, and exchange about everything that matters to us; be it raw and living foods, how to achieve financial freedom, health or personal growth.

Making It Happen Together!

Although, we are holding the vision in order for Raw Freedom Community to emerge, we certainly don't intend for it to be solely our creation. We want this forum to be a group venture, and as such, all members will be invited to contribute in making it their web-based home.

The entire forum will be run on a voluntary basis. (That's right! We're not getting paid either!) There will be all kinds of opportunities for members to get involved in a direct way: forum construction, moderation, web design, newsletter publication, marketing and spreading the good word, etc..

Sharing The Goodies
A small portion (10%) of all profits generated by RFC, eg: advertisement, product sales (ebooks and various promotional items) and the like, will be going into the 'Community Pot' to cover forum's expenses and further development of the community's resources. The rest (90%) will be used to promote the raw lifestyle.

Nearly Ready

Everything has been going incredibly smoothly; to us a good sign that we're on the right track. We're now almost ready to launch the Beta version of RFC Forum. A few minor things need some work, so we won't be releasing the link just yet, but for those of you who just can not wait any longer, and who enjoy a treasure hunt, we thought it might be fun to have a little contest.

RFC: The Newly Expanded 'Sunny Raw Kitchen'

We look forward to meeting you there!

In the meantime, better get your chopsticks ready for Part I of my post on Asian Cuisine 'in the Raw'.

PS: Drop by OurSpace on MySpace to learn more about Raw Freedom Community.

PPS: Pfhew! Sure feels like I've just given birth! lol

Photo Credits:
Mr. Sun & Mini Sun by Warm 'n Fuzzy
Piggy Bank by elizabeth star
gazania mania by mimbrava

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Rich On Raw

It's finally happening! Nature is once again putting on a vibrant cloak of colors. (What with all the rain we've been getting lately!) To think that some of you are already enjoying the harvest of your gardens... Ah well, maybe in my next life I'll be born somewhere where it's lovely and warm more than 3 months out of the year. lol

While I'm busy playing in my raw sandbox, Don likes to scout the net for ways to put a little extra green on the table (well, ya know, the other kind of green). We may be poor in the financial sense of the word, but otherwise we feel like we've won the lottery! I thought some of you might be interested in finding out how we manage to make ends meet while being on a fully raw, mostly organic, diet.

If you're on a limited income, eating raw can certainly be challenging, but definitely doable. We're the living proof of that! Don and I are on a very tight budget (most of you would be shocked!), yet we eat like 'rawyalty'. lol (If you've browsed through my blog before, you know what I mean...) In our case, however, it's more than just about what we eat, it's a whole lifestyle.

The Simple Life
I recently again came across Henry David Thoreau's inspiring Walden; the book that probably had the single-most impact on me as I was entering adulthood. I was amazed how, after all these years, so many of the lessons that he presents are reflected in the way we now live.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that
I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living
is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartanlike as to put to rout all that was not life..."

"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!", Thoreau urges his readers. We live very simply indeed, in a secluded mountain spot, which necessarily calls for stripping down to the 'essentials'.

But not to worry! You don't need to leave the city and be in the woods to be able to afford the raw diet! lol Much more important is how you choose to spend your money.

Food Comes First
For Don and I, it's a matter of priorities. We put buying healthy, high quality foods on top of our list. We spend most of our disposable money on food; perhaps as much as 60% of our total income. (By the way, we don't own a vehicle, which certainly helps a lot, especially with the rocketing price of fuel.)

Efficiency Or The Art Of Making Best Use Of What You've Got
Efficiency can be described as the "ability to act effectively with a minimum of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort." In that sense, we've become 'masters of efficiency', as it is of primary concern to us to waste as little energy as possible (money being one aspect of it). Or to put it differently, we try to make best use of the energy that we're given. I guess we've become really, really good at it. Spending our money wisely is just one of the ways it manifests in our lives.

10 Ways To Be On The Raw Diet AND Be Gentle On Your Wallet

1- Get Rid Of Addictions
It's easy to forget how much energy/money can be wasted in drugs of all kinds, both legal and illegal: pills, coffee, tea, cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, and the like. (I won't even get into the illegal ones!) In many cases, these have become normalized; just an integral part of Life. Scary, isn't it?

Thankfully, Don and I have successfully managed to get the better hand over our nasty habits. If on any given day, we were to each buy a single pack of cigarettes and a cup of coffee, the means to our supply of fresh fruits, veggies and nuts would go down the drain.

2- Pick Your Stores
Where you choose to shop can make a world of difference. In the last few years, regular supermarkets have been widening their selection of fresh organic produce, so we no longer need to depend solely on health food stores. The bigger stores can definitely give you more bang for the buck.

In our case, there's a warehouse-type supermarket nearby where we can find lots of organics at a much better price than at the local HFS. As a bonus, this store has a discount rack, where slightly bruised or 'tired' produce is considerably marked down. (Sometimes we can't believe the 'scores' we get!)

3- Buy Lots And Cut Down The Middleman
Frederic Patenaude has two great articles (see links at the bottom of this post) about how to cut your food bill by at least 30 %. According to him, "the secret to spending less on food and, at the same time, have access to higher-quality food, is to buy in larger quantities and cut the middleman."

He recommends buying by the case and finding a distributor or a food co-op. In his articles, he describes in detail how to go about this. For our part, we buy cases of fruits (more on this later) from our local supermarket and fruit stand.

When I used to live in the city, I'd go directly to a distributor's warehouse, where you can basically get organic food "at the same price that your health food store gets it at, or less!" Alternatively, you can go to the Farmer's Market, where in season you can purchase fresh produce directly from the farmers. Buying some things on the net can also be advantageous.

Sort of along the same lines are produce box deliveries. In my city-slicking days, I'd pick up boxes of fresh organic veggies grown locally. However, I'm not sure these boxes would be a viable option for those on a fully raw diet, as you do consume a phenomenal quantity of produce. Frederic figures something like 10 to 15 pounds (peel and all) per person a day.

Let's have a look at what we roughly go through in a typical week:
  • 35 lbs apples
  • 25 lbs oranges
  • 15 lbs bananas
  • 8 lbs lemons and limes
  • 5 lbs of fruits (depending on what's available)
  • 20 lbs carrots
  • 4 lbs celery
  • 2 or 3 lbs lettuce
  • 3 lbs greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, etc.)
  • 3 lbs tomatoes
  • 3 lbs avocados
  • 2 lbs beets
Plus all the other odds and ends, such as peppers, cucumbers, zucchinis, cauliflower, broccoli, green onions, fresh herbs, sprouts, etc...

Now you see why we like to get a ride from our neighbors up the mountain! lol

4- Be Flexible Or Go With What's Happening

We've discovered that it always pays to be fluid. If something on our shopping list is overpriced, we'll go for something else instead. Likewise, we'll buy more of whatever is on sale.

5- Buy What's In Season
It's no big secret that it is a good strategy to buy produce while in season. You could pay an awful lot of money for a small container of blueberries in the middle of January! For our part, we like to buy fruits and berries (or pick our own!) during the summer and fall months and freeze them. That way we get to enjoy these delicacies all year 'round without making a big hole in our humble budget. I could also get into the virtue of buying locally, but I figure there's lots of information already available on the net.

Pound for pound, nuts are probably the most expensive part of our diet. We buy a large supply of fresh nuts, seeds and dried fruits from the new California crop (usually sometime in November). A few of the health food stores around here even give you the possibility to place an order through them. We then store these in sealed containers in the freezer (if we can) or in a cool spot.

We also like to purchase fresh nuts in shells when they're available during the Holiday season. These work out to be a great deal cheaper and so much tastier than the ready-cracked ones.

6- Pick Your Organics
Although we try to get as much organics as we can, we've also learned to be flexible in that regard, as organic fruits are often above what we can afford. Plus, we've found that you can still eat some conventional fruits and veggies while keeping your exposure to pesticides to a minimum. For instance, it's not as critical when it comes to fruits that have a thick peel, such as mangoes, avocados, pineapples, oranges, etc. If you'd like to find out more about this, check out Fred Patenaude's article about "The Top 12 Most Contaminated Fruits & Vegetables".

7- Don't Be Afraid To 'Sub'
One of the many beauties of raw is that there's lots of room for experimentation, so don't think twice about substituting! Whenever a recipe calls for pricey nuts like pine nuts or macadamias, we just replace or cut down the amount with other, cheaper nuts or seeds. It works out perfectly almost every time!

8- Grow Your Own
If you are fortunate enough to have a sunny spot in your backyard and the energy to take on such a project, you may want to grow your own veggies and herbs. Hard to beat strolling down the rows of your garden to pick your next meal! But for those of you who, like us, don't have that luxury, you can always keep a little kitchen harvest. (See my recent post about sprouting.)

9- Bring Your Own
Whenever we leave our little mountain fortress for an extended period of time, we take fresh smoothie and a snack with us. It's pretty rare that we walk out of a restaurant feeling completely satisfied. ($9 for a salad... Hummmmm, I think I'll pass.) Plus, it avoids you getting hit with a major munchy attack while there's nothing but cooked (junk) food around. Your body will thank you for it!

10- Relax!
As we've gradually been implementing the simple, practical tricks outlined above, we find ourselves living more within our means and, therefore, much less stressed out over the content of our wallet. I can't think of anything more nerve-racking than to be keeping a close tab on everything that goes in and out of our pockets. I clearly remember the day that I stopped doing that, after a lifetime of watching my mother try to religiously 'keep a budget'. What a relief that was!

Focusing on how much you spend rather than what you have can be pretty draining. Don and I hardly keep track of our expenses, yet we somehow always manage to have enough. We trust that if we take care of our end, we'll be provided with what we need (which isn't to say that we'll be going to Hawaii anytime soon! lol)

Oh, and just one last thing... Being on a mostly raw diet is not just a matter of what you eat and how much it costs. Even more important is perspective.

We feel that eating raw foods is a wise investment, regardless of its actual costs. As Victoria Boutenko points out, she'd rather spend money on feeding her family fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, than on medical bills. She's right on the money on this one (oops... here I go again!) Most people often don't look at things that way, as it's so easy to focus on the short term results. The benefits of eating Raw are too remarkable and multi-dimensional to be reduced solely in terms of monetary costs.

How much is health really worth?

Links to Fred Patenaude's articles:

Photo Credits:
haul from the farmer's market by Splat Worldwide
Silvi Marina Market, Italy by VROG in Bristol
Nuts in color by mfophotos
Trail Mix by nutsonline.com
Hippocrates symbol revisited from The Wholefood Farmacy

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