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!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Raspberry Chocolate Rhapsody Cake

This has been an exciting week. Amongst other things, I tried my hand at making raw cake for the first time, and I must say I'm very pleased with the result. My Raspberry Chocolate Rhapsody Cake is visually stunning, not to mention absolutely decadent!

And to top it all up, I just received Russell James' inspiring 'News From the Kitchen' eZine in my inbox today. Imagine my surprise when I saw that he, too, has been playing with chocolate and raspberries. It's a small raw world I tell ya!

Raspberry Chocolate Rhapsody Cake

Chocolate Brownie Layer:
2 cups walnuts
2 cups pecans
1 cup pitted dates
1/3 cup cacao powder
1/3 cup carob powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbs water

Place walnuts and pecans in a food processor and process until ground. Add dates, cacao, carob and vanilla extract. Process until well mixed. Add the water and process briefly.

White Chocolate-Raspberry Layer:
(Adapted from Vanessa Sherwood's wonderful White Chocolate-strawberry Cheesecake)

1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup cashews and/or macadamia nuts
3 Tbs melted coconut oil
1 Tbs melted cacao butter
2 Tbs honey or agave
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Blend in Vita-mix or high speed blender until smooth.

Coconut Vanilla Creme Topping:
1 cup young coconut meat
1/4 cup coconut or regular water
1/2 cup cashews, soaked
2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1 Tbs honey or agave
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Blend in Vita-mix or high speed blender until smooth. Put it fridge or freezer to thicken up.

In a spring form pan or large plastic margarine tub lined with saran wrap, layer 1/2 of the chocolate mixture, followed by 1/2 of the raspberry mixture.

Put in freezer to set. Then repeat.

Again, let set in the freezer.

When the last raspberry layer has firmed up, gently transfer the cake onto a serving plate.

Here's what the cake looked like when I removed it from the mold:

Then cover it with the Coconut Vanilla Cream topping:

If desired, decorate with chocolate sauce (just mix 1 part melted coconut oil with 1 part agave or maple syrup and 1 part cacao powder). I bet fresh raspberries would work really well too.

Now close your eyes and savor how scrumptious raw desserts can be!

Carmella's Notes:
~ The texture was awesome: firm, with a bit of a crunch due to the brownie layer. It complemented the creaminess of the raspberry layer really well. Oh, and moist too. As for the taste, well, it cannot be put into words! lol We love brownies, and we love love berry cheesecake, so the two combined... Ahhhhhhhhh!

~ I found it a tad too sweet for my taste, but I've already adjusted the measurements to reflect that. You have to keep in mind that once the 2 layers are combined, plus the icing, it all adds up. Feel free to modify to your own liking, of course.

Mmmmmm... Want a piece?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Once Upon A Tomato

Alright, alright. I know it's getting a little late to be telling tomato tales, but hey.

See, it all started at my local produce store the other day. They were selling 20 lb cases of organic canning tomatoes for $15.

Never mind the fact I was hitchhiking back; I just couldn't resist buying one! lol Me and my tomatoes got a ride home no problem, and Don and I have been seeing (and eating!) red ever since.

So yes, Fall may be officially among us, but that's not to say we can't celebrate Summer's bounties one last time...

Know Your Tomato
Would you be surprised if I told you that the tomato is the world's most popular fruit? Yep, way ahead of the banana, who takes second place. Here are a few more interesting tidbits about this big favorite.

  • Technically speaking, a tomato is a fruit, since it is the ripened ovary of a plant. However, in 1893, the US supreme court ruled that tomatoes were to be considered vegetables.

  • Tomatoes were apparently first cultivated around 700 AD by Aztecs and Incas. They were then introduced into Europe sometime in the 1500s by explorers returning from Mexico.

  • Being in the same family as the deadly nightshade plant, the early American colonists regarded the tomato as poisonous until the 1820s.
  • Beefsteak, plum, cherry, heirloom, Green Zebra, roma... There is said to exist some 10,000 varieties of tomatoes.
Oh, and here's a little 'rule of tom': (lol)
  • Don't store tomatoes in the refrigerator! Not only does it alter their delicate flavor, but the low temperatures also prevent enzymes from doing their job of protecting against free radicals inside the tomato. As a result, the radicals have a free ride, damaging the tomato by destroying its cell walls.
A Tomato A Day...
The good news is that tomatoes are as nutritious as they are delicious. They're rich in vitamins A and C, Calcium, Potassium and lycopene.

Lycopene - the stuff that makes tomatoes red - is one of the most potent nutritional antioxidants found to date, helping neutralize harmful free radicals, which are implicated in heart disease, macular degeneration and other age-related illnesses.

Research has shown that the consumption of tomatoes and tomato products also lowers the risks of several types of cancer, including those of the prostate, lung, stomach and breast.

Frankein-mato: Fact or Fiction?
Tomatoes that taste better, are more resistant to pests, contain a higher concentration of Vitamin A or lycopene, or that have a longer shelf life...

So tempting to 'play God' with genetic engineering in order to offer foods that are supposedly 'healthier' or 'better'. Sounds good, perhaps, but as they say "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

FlavrSavr tomatoes were the first commercially grown GMO to hit the US market, back in 1994. While genetically engineered regular tomatoes and one cherry tomato have been approved for sale, it has been reported that GE tomatoes are no longer on the market.*

The Cornell Cooperative Extension explains on its site that "several genetically engineered varieties of tomatoes have been developed in the US and approved for commercialization, and some of them were available in a limited number of markets for a few years in the mid '90s. For a variety of reasons these GE tomatoes are no longer marketed, and there are currently no GE tomatoes present in US markets, either as whole tomatoes or in processed tomato foods."

However, we get quite a different perspective from this source, who suggests that several commercial brands of pasta and pizza sauces contain transgenic tomatoes, including Del Monte, Hunts and Ragu.

In any case, the only way to make sure your tomatoes haven't been tampered with is to buy organics or grow your own.

* For a complete list of genetically engineered food currently allowed on the market, have a look here.

Just Eat A Love Apple
Let us forget about frankeinfoods for now, and get back to the lovely, juicy, just-as-Nature-intended tomato.

When the heart-shaped fruit reached European shores in the 16th century, it was pronounced an aphrodisiac. Thus tomato in Italian, poma amoris, translates as "love apple."

Since those days, 'The Lady in Red' has seduced Chefs from around the world, but they ain't seen nothing yet! The much sought after tomato is sexier and tastier than ever 'in the raw'.

How about a juice to begin our exploration of tomato-based delicacies?

I liked that this recipe called for a blender, thereby retaining the pulp. The result was definitely closer to a soup in texture, in my opinion, so you could also serve it in a bowl. Yummy anyhow!

Posted on the Pretty Smart Raw Food Ideas blog

3 ripe tomatoes
1/2 red pepper
1 stalk celery
1 apple
1 T nutritional yeast (optional)
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 T. garlic powder
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
pinch ground black pepper
3 drops Tabasco (optional)

Process all ingredients in a high speed blender.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I used the white part of 1 green onion and 1 garlic clove instead of the powders.
~ I also replaced the Worcestershire sauce with a squirt of Braggs and Tabasco with a dash of cayenne.

Remember Campbell's Cream of Tomato Soup? Sure was one of our staples when I grew up. This next recipe sort of reminds me of it, only way better, of course!

Cream of Tomato Soup
2 cups tomatoes
2 cups red peppers
1/2 cup almonds or cashews, soaked
1/4 avocado
Juice of 1/2 large lime
1 tsp miso
Salt to taste
Fresh or dried basil (optional)
Water until desired consistency is reached

Blend until smooth, then taste. If it seems too acidic, add a little sweetener.

If desired, gently warm up on the stove, stirring constantly.

How could I feature the tomato without mentioning what is probably THE most famous raw soup in the world?

New Gazpacho
By Frederic Patenaude

2-3 ripe medium tomatoes, or 1 and 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes (sweet is good!)
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes (soak 1-2 hours in advance)
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup cucumber
juice from 1 lime
1/2 clove garlic (optional)
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
¼ cup of chopped red onion

First blend the tomatoes and sundried tomatoes. Then add in the other ingredients in the order listed, except for the red onion, which you’ll use to garnish your soup. Try to blend the last ingredients (after you’ve blended the tomatoes and sundried tomatoes) just enough so it’s liquid, but still chunky.

I was never the ketchup type, you know, drenching everything I ate with a big blob of the stuff. In fact, looking back, I wasn't a great fan of tomato sauce either. That completely changed, though, when I discovered raw foods.

Of all the raw tomato sauces I've tried, this remains the one I keep coming back to, again and again.

Marinara Sauce
From Living on Live Food by Alissa Cohen

2 1/2 cups Tomatoes
12 Large Sundried Tomatoes, Soaked
3 Organic Dates, Pitted and Soaked
1/4 cup Olive Oil (I use less)
4 Cloves Garlic
2 tablespoons Parsley
1 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne

Place all of the Marinara ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sharing with you the lovely RawVee's Sundried Tomato Bread. Here's another one of her tasty creations and my current favorite bread.

Badabing Bruschetta Bread
Posted by RawVee on Raw Freedom Community

One SAD food I adore is bruschetta. So last night I made what I call Bruschetta Bread. I tend to not measure. But I'll put approximate measurements. Really, I go by taste. This "dough" was so good I was eating it as I was spreading it onto the Teflex.

3 cups sprouted buckwheat
1 cup almonds, soaked 24 hours
1 cup flax seed, soaked
1 whole tomato
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked
Big handful of raw cured black olives
4-5 garlic cloves to taste (I LOVE garlic, so you may want less)
Olive oil
Sea salt
Handful of fresh herbs (I used rosemary, oregano, spicy basis, thyme and marjoram)

Since I was dealing with a lot of "dough," I discovered after making a few batches that the easiest thing to do was to process the tomatoes, olives, garlic, olive oil and herbs together. Then blend in the buckwheat, flax and almonds. Otherwise things don't get mixed and chopped well enough.

I spread the mix onto Teflex sheets in a thin layer, and set them on 118 for the first 2 hours. (I've noticed that buckwheat can get kinda sour tasting if in the dehydrator too long at a low temp, so I turn it up at first). I then lowered it to 104 and went to bed. I woke up 7 hours later and realized I hadn't flipped the bread, but it was still perfect. And delicious. Makes great sandwich bread, dipping bread, etc.

Ever since I've discovered Cherie Soria's veggie wraps, I make a batch whenever I can lay my hands on cheap peppers or tomatoes. These are so delicious and light, and completely nut-free!

Salsa Wraps
By Cherie Soria of Living Light Culinary Institute
Posted on rawhikes.com

Makes 12 wraps

5 cups tomatoes, seeds removed
3 cups seeded and chopped red bell peppers
2 cups chopped yellow zucchini
2 red jalapeño peppers, seeded
1 tablespoon red onion
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon solar-dried sea salt
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and mashed
3 tablespoons psyllium powder
¼ cup chopped cilantro, packed, optional

1. In a high-powered blender, purée the tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, jalapeño peppers, and red onion until smooth. Add the onion powder, garlic, and salt, and purée again. While blender is still turning, add the avocado, and then the psyllium powder, and blend well for a few seconds.

2. If desired, pulse in the cilantro until it is broken into pieces. Do not fully process; the cilantro should be in small pieces.

3. Using 1/2 cup of the mixture for each wrap, use a flat rubber spatula to quickly form four flat disks on a dehydrator tray lined with a nonstick sheet. Each disk should be about 7 inches in diameter, and they should not quite touch each other. Spread the wraps into round disks quickly, or the mixture will thicken and become difficult to spread.

4. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for about 4 hours, or until you can easily remove them from the nonstick sheets.

5. Turn the wraps over onto mesh dehydrator screens. Place an additional mesh screen on top of each tray of wraps. This makes them flatter and easier to store. Continue dehydrating another 3 to 4 hours, until dry but still flexible.

6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for up to two months.

Carmella's Note: I've made a variation of these a number of times. They are terrific! Have a look here.

Last week, I thought I'd try something a little different: Pizza Crackers. I used Sundried Tomato Bread and Bruschetta Bread slices as crusts, then topped them with cashew cream cheese, pesto, the Sun-Dried Tomato Spread featured in The Daily Raw, fresh tomato or red pepper, and slivers of sundried black olives. Serve immediately or pop in the D for 1 hour. Delish!

I can always count on my friend, Joz, to send new recipe ideas my way. It took me a while to give tomato raviolis a try, but I'm so glad I did! This is yet another gem of a recipe; super easy to make, elegant and delicious.

Tomato Rawvioli

For this recipe, you'll need:
Tomatoes of choice, sliced about 1/4" thick
Creamy Spinach Spread*

Creamy Spinach Spread
1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
½ cup pure water
1 garlic clove, minced (or to taste)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
3 cups of spinach (we like it with lots of spinach but you could use less if you want)

Blend the first set of ingredients in your food processor or high-speed blender. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Then, in a (clean) food processor, pulse chop the spinach until finely minced. (You don't want a green mush though!)

Gently fold the spinach into the cream cheese by hand.

*Alternatively, you could use Anna/MaRaw of The Raw Table's excellent Herbed Cheese Filling.

Put a heaping teaspoon of spinach cheese filling between 2 tomato slices.

Dehydrate overnight at about 110 degrees.

Carmella's Note: I had a batch of tomato slices dehydrating already, so I just took a few out, loaded them up with cheese, then popped then back in the D for a few hours. Worked perfectly!

Dried Red Tomatoes
Finding a half-decent tomato in the middle of winter can be quite a challenge. I know Don and I will be saying goodbye to nice, fresh tomato slices on our sandwiches and burgers soon. Thankfully, we'll be able to continue enjoying marinaras and other treats calling for dried tomatoes.

For some reason, I thought that dehydrating tomatoes was involved and time consuming. Some folks at RFC assured me it wasn't the case at all, and you know what? They were right! There's nothing to it!

Home Dried Tomatoes
Depending on the size of your toms, you may want to cut them in halves or quarters, or make 1/4" thick slices.

Spread these directly on the mesh of your dehydrator.

If you like, you can brush your tomato slices with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt.

Set the D to 105 or 110 degrees, then let it do its thing.

Carmella's Notes:
~ After several hours, I made a cut down the middle of the tomato slices to expose the juicy flesh and allow it to dehydrate quicker. I also noticed that the edge parts had sort of shriveled on themselves, trapping the liquid inside. I did an X incision on those, so that the slices could lie flat on the screen.
~ During the dehydration process, I moved the tomato slices around as necessary; putting the wetter ones closer to the fan in back. This isn't necessary, but will help shorten dehydrating time.

When the tomatoes are thoroughly dried (which may take anywhere from overnight to 20 some hours, again depending on their sizes), store them in glass jars or ziplock baggies at room temperature or in the fridge. Alternatively, you can leave the tomatoes a little soft and store them in the freezer.

Joz's Tip: When a recipe calls for dried tomatoes, use half store-bought and half home-dried.

And lastly, there is no shortage of awesome recipes calling for tomatoes on this blog: Pad Thai Sauce, Sauerkraut Salad, Kale Patties, Luscious Lasagna, Mediterranean Almond Bread and the truly Amazing Tomato-Mango Dressing.

Ahhhhhh! Now I feel ready to move on to Fall, with its cooler days and colorful display of changing colors, with its pumpkins, squashes, apples and pears. And yet more fun discoveries awaiting me in my sunny raw kitchen...

Photo Credits
Tomatoes by SeenyaRita
° t o m a t o ° by ° d i + m a r s °

A2Z of Health, Beauty and Fitness
California Tomato Growers Association
GMO Compass
Mothers for Natural Law
Tomato Facts And Trivia by Pat Jacobs
Wikipedia on Tomato and Lycopene

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Ranch Dressing or Dip

Here's one delectable and totally addictive recipe! I've even served it to non-rawfoodies and they agreed it was THE best dressing they had ever tasted!

I also love how versatile it is. Drizzle it on salads or zucchini pasta, use it as a spread on your favorite bread or simply as a dip. Delish, any way you have it!

Ranch Dressing/Dip
Posted by Snowdrop on Raw Freedom Community

For those missing that hidden valley feeling.

Soak time: 1-2 hrs
Preparation time: 5 Minutes
Number of Servings: 24 (or 3 cups)

1 1/2 cups nuts (cashew or mac or combo) soak them for a creamier dressing (1-2 hrs is fine, then drain)
3/4 - 1 cup filtered water for blending
3 tablespoons lemon juice (translates into approx 1/2 lemon)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons agave (or 3 soaked dates)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon garlic pwd
3 teaspoons onion pwd
1 teaspoon dill
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon basil

And to add after it's done:
1/4 cup finely minced parsley
another 1/2 t dill, minced

Vitamix blend all ingredients till creamy and smooth except the last 2, then once blended, stir in the last 2 ingredients.

Thickens in fridge.

Thin to desired consistency if using as a dressing- or toss into wet lettuce leaves as is.

Carmella's Notes:
~ This yields quite a bit of dressing, so you might want to consider halving the recipe.
~ Last time I made this, I completely forgot to put the dates in and it was still outstanding.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Piece O' Pie, Piece Of Art

Food lovers will agree that long before you put something in your mouth, you get to 'taste' it with your eyes first. If you don't like what you see, there is a pretty good chance you won't be overly impressed by the flavor either.

Well, the raw enthusiasts who attended Ottawa's Simply Raw Festival last weekend sure had an eyeful, as they got to admire and yes, even sample, the 30 entries to the second annual Raw Pie Contest.

If you're still not sure about food prep being an art, this should definitely do the trick! Don't think I've ever seen such an array of scrumptious creations gathered in one place before!

Here you go... But let me give you a piece (yet another! lol) of advice: careful not to short-circuit that keyboard of yours!

Even my gifted and beautiful friend, Fairygirl/Heathy, put her talent to the test with her Strawberry Mm-Rawgarita Pie!

Mmmmmmmm indeed!

Although she wasn't planning on participating at first (the contest was booked up!), Heathy was given a last minute opportunity to whip up something of her own. Here's what she came up with:

Strawberry Mm-Rawgarita Pie
Date/nut crust
Green lime cream
Layer of strawberries
Thick strawberry lime topping
Pipped into ridges for the swirls is a strawberry sauce
Shredded coconut as the "salt" around the rim
Lime slices

"Next year, the festival will be 2 days," says Fairygirl/Heathy, "and I can't wait! I have a year to come up with a winning pie!!!"

Oh-oh, better watch out! I have no doubt that the one I've nicknamed 'The Ultimate Dessert Queen' (read this post and you'll see what I mean!) will be back with a yummilicious revenge of unprecedented proportions!

If you'd like to visit the webpages for other Simply Raw Festivals, including top pie entries and recipes, you can do so here:

Photo Credits
All photos from Simply Raw Festival's site except for Photos # 1 and 7 by Heathy

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Raw Gourmet Review: Pumpkin And Squash Couscous with Habanero Harissa

In spite of what it may look like, we don't eat fancy gourmet meals every single day. In fact, our usual fare consists of juice, green smoothie and a rather simple dinner. Normally on the menu is soup, salad and a no-brainer entree, such as crackers and spread, or what I call 'raw fast food' - wraps, pizza, pasta or burgers.

But once in a while, I get in the mood to prepare something special and more involved. You know, treat ourselves to a raw feast. In this new 'Raw Gourmet Review' series, you are invited to join us in our latest epicurean adventures.

Let's inaugurate in style with a meal inspired by North African cuisine: Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis' Pumpkin and Squash Couscous with Habanero Harissa, Currants and Almond Oil. (Recipe available in their book Raw Food Real World.)

This elaborate entree was so eloquently praised on Raw Freedom Community, I just couldn't resist tackling it, regardless of it being somewhat intimidating. (These two sure have a knack for long complicated titles!)

The entire meal consisted of 4 recipes: Pumpkin and Squash Mixture, Habanero Harissa, Lemon Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and Couscous.

In order to lighten up the work load, I decided to prepare the different components over 2 days. This turned out to be a great idea! Kinda hard to relax and have fun in the kitchen while working within a time line.

While I had most ingredients on hand, I was forced to do a fair bit of improvisation along the way. Subbing is always a bit of a gamble, but I have to admit it's one aspect of raw food prep I particularly enjoy.

First on my list was the harissa, made with tomatoes, bell peppers, habanero peppers, shallot, agave syrup and oil. I was advised by Being in her post that this was one very HOT sauce. I don't know if it's due to our changing taste buds or what, but Don and I can hardly tolerate much heat in our food anymore. I shriek sometimes at the amount of hot peppers that some recipes call for, and this one was definitely no exception! I opted for the milder jalapeno instead, and cut dramatically down on the quantity. (There was simply no way I was gonna use 4 cups of hot peppers! lol) I also used red onion instead of shallot.

It may sound like there isn't much to this particular recipe, but the result was fantastic! The key was undoubtedly the dehydration step prior to blending the harissa. I was grateful I went easier on the hot stuff, as it turned out perfect for our taste.

The following day, I worked on the rest of the meal.

The pumpkin seeds were very similar to the seasoned seeds I regularly prepare - soaked, then dehydrated with generous sprinkles of salt and lemon powder (although I used lemon zest instead).

Next was the Pumpkin and Squash Mixture. I replaced the pumpkin and goldbar squash called for with pattypan and zucchini. I also used the white part of a few green onions rather than shallot. I mixed these with the exotic blend of spices, then popped the seasoned veggies in the D.

Half-way through dehydration, while scanning over the recipe, I realized I had completely forgotten to put almond milk in the mixture. I didn't even have to break stride; I simply added a few Tbs of cashew cream I had in the fridge (mixed with a little water), to the dish. It worked seamlessly. Once again, I was reminded of how much more fun it is to go with what's happening, rather than trying to get things 'just so'.

Close to serving time, I began to work on the couscous. This is where I had to considerably improvise, not having 3 out of 5 ingredients! lol I have to admit I am particularly pleased with how well I fared. Jicama being difficult to find around here, I replaced it with pattypan squash and a few pieces of pear (for sweetness). Lastly, I subbed raisins for the currants, and olive oil for almond oil. Pine nuts gave the couscous the perfect consistency and a subtle flavor. (I sure was glad I had some of those! lol)

The assembled Pumpkin and Squash Couscous with Habanero Harissa was unlike anything we've ever tasted before. Some meals are memorable and really stand out - this is definitely one of them! Exquisitely delicate and exotic; each component (down to the pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top) contributing to a sublime balance.

And I assure you, definitely worth the effort!

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Berry Licious Smoothie

Nectarine and berry season isn't quite over yet, so there's still time to enjoy this delicious treat. Nectar of the Gods and Goddesses! (No pun intended, of course! )

Posted by Fairygirl on Raw Freedom Community

Threw this together the other morning:

frozen mango
frozen strawberries
goji berries

Frosty and sweet!

I drizzled strawberry lime sauce (left over from my raw dinner) inside the glass. Mmm!

Carmella's Note: I used a mixture of frozen mango and papaya, and added a banana to sweeten it a little. Oh, and the juice of one lime to make up for the strawberry lime sauce. Sooooooo yummy!

Photo by Fairygirl/Heathy

Friday, September 14, 2007

Flying Bananas

Sure looks like there's bananas 'in the air' right now. (Keep your heads down, everyone!) We've been going bananas over nanas at Raw Freedom Community forum lately. The perfect excuse to pay tribute to this common, versatile and often overlooked fruit.

Banana: A Superfood?
According to a professor of psychology at CCNY, the expression "going bananas" comes from the effects of bananas on the brain. For instance, did you know that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout? They also help with a number of ailments including depression, PMS, anemia, blood pressure, constipation, heartburn, ulcers and stress. Find out more about this superfood by reading this article.

"Mom, Gimme Some Nanas!"
One of my oldest childhood memories is of my mom handing me a banana to munch on whenever we'd go grocery shopping.

The good news is that bananas are super cheap. You can even ask your local supermarket for their 'tired' bananas. Chances are, they'll be more than happy to sell them to you for a steal.

Too many nanners on your hands? No worries; they freeze really well for later use. You can pop them in the freezer in their 'jackets' (just
thaw them slightly before peeling them) or peeled and stored in an air tight container.

How Many Ways?
There are so many uses for bananas, it would be impossible to name them all!
  • Bananas are wonderful in smoothies, fresh or frozen
  • They make delicious ice cream
  • For a great snack, dehydrate them whole or in slices, or blended (fruit leather)
  • Mash them up with a little cinnamon and nutmeg, and perhaps a few raisins and crushed nuts for an easy and energizing breakfast
Bananas are also an awesome natural sweetener for desserts. You can use them in puddings, cakes, cookies, pies (they make a fantastic pie crust!), sweet breads and crackers.

But here are a few recipe ideas to get you going...

Liquid Banana
There is no shortage of banana based smoothie recipes floating around the net. Have a look at this blogpost for starters.

How about a banana shake then? But wait, I gotta explain how to make nut milk first. You can also check this post for a simple almond milk version.

Basic Method for Making Nut Milk
(Sorry, I've misplaced the author of these instructions.)

- Soak 1 cup of either almonds, cashews, sunflower or sesame seeds overnight.
- In the morning, dispose of water and rinse well.
- Add 3 to 4 times the quantity of water.
- Add either 2-4 tbs of honey or 3-6 dates
- Add a few tbs of ground flax seeds to thicken the milk (optional)
- Add 1-2 tsp vanilla (optional)
- Blend at high speed for a few minutes.
- Pour milk through mesh bag or strainer. Squeeze until all the liquid is released.
- Store the milk in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (depending on the freshness of your nuts!)

Once the milk is done, you may also:

- Add 2-4 tbs of carob powder.
- Blend with 1 frozen banana.
- Blend with other frozen fruits.
- Combine everything previously mentioned.

Feel like a taste of the tropics? Relax in your favorite chair (preferably outside), close your eyes, and sip on this. Oh, and don't forget the straw!

Pina Colada
Posted by Derek on Raw Freedom Community
My wife, Sara, fed this to me tonight. It goes well with our hammock.

1 ripe pear
1 banana
2-3 slices fresh pineapple
1-2 T shredded coconut
1 tsp coconut oil
add a bit of water and a handful of ice.

Blend until smooth.

Carmella's Note: We subbed an apple for the pear when making this and it was delish!

PS. Drop by Sara's blog for more gorgeous photos and raw recipes!

I SCREAM For Ice Cream
If you've been craving ice cream, rejoice! You can make wonderful ice cream by passing frozen bananas through a juicer with a blank plate or by blending them up in a food processor or Vitamix.

Basic Banana Ice Cream
2 frozen bananas
A few soaked  dates
3 tbs shredded coconut
Juice half lemon

Optional - Throw in:
A few cashewsmacs or
1 Tbs oil or
1 med. avocado

Blend in Vitamix or small food processor till creamy

For variety, you can add nuts/seeds (1/8 cup) and flavorings like vanilla/chocolate (raw superfood he he) Yum! Yum!

And here's something different, if you like that pumpkin pie-holiday touch.

Banana Raisin Coconut Spice Cream
4 cups Bananas, frozen, sliced
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 Cup Coconut, shredded, frozen, unsweetened
1 tsp. Cinnamon, ground
1 tsp. Allspice, ground
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg, ground
1/4 tsp. Cloves, ground

Place the all ingredients in your Vita-Mix. Cover and run at the highest speed until the bananas and other ingredients become creamy smooth (about one minute). Scoop the ice cream into individual serving bowls. Enjoy!

I have yet to try this next one, but based on Ocean's other recipes (not to mention the brownie part!), it sounds very promising.

Brownie Banana Ice Cream Cake
Posted by Ocean on Raw Freedom Community

I was missing the SAD Baskin and Robin Ice Cream Cake, so I made this recipe up to satisfy my craving.

1 Cup walnuts (not soaked)
½ Cup dates (soaked)

Process in FP until clumping together, transfer to plate and form a crust. (set aside)

Banana ice cream:
2-4 Bananas

Process in FP until looks like ice cream. Layer this on the crust and put in the freezer until firm.

½ Cup coconut oil
½ Cup dates (soaked)
¼ Cup carob powder
¼ Cup Honey or Agave

Process in FP until it looks like the SAD frosting. Layer on top of ice cream and put back in the freezer.

Nanner Leather

Fruit leather makes an excellent (and healthy!) snack for children and adults alike. There's nothing easier. Plus, it's very forgiving; you just can't go wrong! You can make it using pretty much any fruit and any combination and amounts.
To make banana leather, simply blend several bananas in a food processor until smooth. Then spread the mixture thinly and evenly on teflex sheets. Dehydrate at 105 or 110 until no longer sticky to the touch. You should be able to peel the leather easily from the teflex. Cut to desired size with scissors or pizza cutter.
You can then enjoy the leather as is, or use it as 'crepe shells' like in the following recipe.

Strawberry Crépes
By Alissa Cohen
Posted on GreenChefs

My absolute favorite, hands down. You won't believe how delicious they are, how easy they are to prepare, and how beautiful they look served on a white plate surrounded by whole strawberries.
Crépe Shells
5 to 6 Ripe Bananas

1 Cup macadamia nuts
1 Cup Cashews
1 Large Lemon Juiced
4 teaspoons Honey
2 teaspoons Tamari
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons Water

Strawberry Sauce
1 1/2 Cups Strawberries
1 to 2 Tablespoons Honey

To make the Crépe Shells, place the bananas in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Second, remove the bananas from the processor and spread about 1/8 inch thick onto a Teflex sheet on top of a dehydrator screen. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for 14 hours or so. (Begin checking the bananas a few hours before to make sure they are formed, pliable, and solid in texture, but not getting crispy).

Remove from the dehydrator and slice into strips about 4"x 2".

To make the Filling, place the filling ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

The Strawberry Sauce, is made by combining the strawberries and honey in the food processor and blending until smooth.
Now to Assemble the Crépes. Pour the strawberry sauce onto a plate in a thin layer so as to cover the bottom of the plate. Place scoops of filling onto the banana fruit leather strips you have made and roll them up. Place on the plate with enough room in between so each crépe is not touching. Last, pour the strawberry sauce over the rolled up crepes.
Note: It's important to let the crepes sit for at least a couple of hours with the strawberry sauce on top. The sauce will soften the fruit leather and make it "crépe like" instead of hard and chewy. These are also great the next day.
Carmella's Note: My banana leather never takes that long to dry. Probably because I tend to set the D at 110 degrees.

OK, I have a confession to make. One of the reasons bananas are flying about is that our little freezer got unplugged by mistake a few days ago. Thankfully, we realized it in time and didn't have to toss anything out. On the other hand, we found ourselves with a whole bunch of nanners that needed to be used up.
Once again, our forum proved to be such a great resource for advice. I was more than happy to learn that thawed bananas can also be used in recipes. (Phfew!) I made banana leather, as well as the following pancakes and cookies. It worked like a dream!

These are to LIVE for! Sooooo delicious!

Banana Nut Pancakes
By Anna/Maraw of The Raw Table.com
Posted by Ama on Raw Freedom Community

Makes roughly 12-15 pancakes

1 C Brazil Nuts
1 C pecans
4 large bananas
1/2 C almond milk
1 date, pitted and soaked
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2 C Cashews
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 C almond milk
3 orange segments
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of sea salt
1 mint leaf (optional)

Preparation for Pancakes
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth. Pour onto teflex sheets into circle shapes and spread to about 1/4-3/8". Allow to dehydrate for about 9 hours @115 degrees. Flip onto mesh screen and dehydrate another 2-3 hours. Serve with cream or agave nectar.

Preparation for Cream
Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and process until smooth and creamy. Pour over pancakes and enjoy!

I finally got around to trying this next recipe I got from one of Karen Knowler's newsletters ages ago. Why Oh Why did I wait so long!?! It can't get any easier than this and they are yummilicious!

Banana and Coconut Cookies
By Karen Knowler

Makes 10 cookies, approx. 7 cm diameter, 1 cm deep.

* 4 bananas
* 200g (or meat from 1) fresh coconut, sliced or grated (use  dry Coconut if you can’t get fresh coconut)
* 125g (or 1 cup) almonds
* 125g (or 1 cup) raisins OR finely chopped dates (less if you prefer not too sweet)

1) Process almonds into a fine powder, either in a good food processor, nut mill or dry jug of a Vita-Mix blender.

2) Pour into a food processor and add the bananas, coconut and raisins/dates to create a smooth mixture.

3) Make circles of the mixture on a dehydrator sheet to your preferred size.

4) Dehydrate until dry and chewy (about 18 hours).

* Try different nuts, such as macadamias for a creamier, richer taste – but allow longer to dehydrate as they are much more oily.

Here's a slightly modified version of a recipe I had in my raw files. Super easy and really, really good.

Banana Mac Nut Cookies
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup bananas
Squirt vanilla extract
Pinch nutmeg

In food processor, blend raisins and walnuts until smooth. Add in macadamia nuts and bananas.

Dehydrate for 8 to 10 hours.

Carmella's Note: I bet both of these cookie recipes would have been awesome with a little cacao powder, or perhaps cacao nibs in there. Dang! Why didn't I t'ink o' t'at, eh!?!

And finally, I've already posted some great ways to use 'nanas': Celestial Pecan Pie, ChocoNut Bliss Crepes, Chocolate Cream Stack, Lemon Chewies and even a savory recipe too. You just gotta give this Curry Sauce a try. I promise it will blow your taste buds away!

I guess that's it for now, but hey, watch out for those flying bananas! lol

Photo Credits:

Strawberry Crepes by Damzlfly

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Sundried Tomato Bread

I cranked up my D for the first time in a while last nite, and had a little uncooking blitz. (Don and I have just started reintroducing 'hard' foods into our diets after last week's colon cleanse.) As we got our hands on some jicama - a rare treat around here - I made a batch of Garlicky toasts as well as a couple of different kinds of breads/crackers.

I can't begin to tell you how wonderful the house smelled this morning! The bread and cracker recipes I was trying for the first time and they are both fantastic! One was the Spinach and Herb Crackers from TheRawTable.com (all I can say is 'Wow!' - seriously, you just gotta make those!), the other was the following Sundried Tomato Bread. Soooooo good!

RawVee's Sundried Tomato Bread
Posted by Anabbytree on Raw Freedom Community

2 cups of sprouted buckwheat
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked
2 garlic cloves
Approximately 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Approximately 1-2 tsp sea salt
Handful of fresh herbs (I used thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano)
1 large tomato
3 Tbsp flax seeds

Blend all ingredients together in food processor (I started with the seeds, buckwheat and sundried tomatoes and then added the rest after first blending those). When it looks like a “batter,” spread evenly on a Teflex-lined dehydrator (about 1/4- 1/2” thick). Dehydrate for about 3 hours at 110 degrees. Flip over and dehydrate for another 8 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!

I like it thick and somewhat underdone, this makes a good sandwich bread, but if you do leave it underdone you have to eat it up quickly (no problemo here) or put it in the fridge so it doesn't get sour.

Anabbytree's Notes: I usually spread mine pretty thin, they often end up like crackers! lol I like to put a huge slice of tomato on mine and then let the tomato sit for about 10 minutes. The tomato juices soften the bread right up, and it's to LIVE for... one of my favorite things to eat, I think!

Carmella's Notes:
~ I filled up just a little over one Excalibur tray with this recipe, spreading the batter about 1/4" thick.

~ I would suggest doubling this recipe, especially if you go with the thicker variation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Simply Raw Soups

Our raw kitchen is somewhat a little quieter than usual these days, as Don and I have been lightly fasting. Nothing drastic or anything. We just felt like giving our digestive systems a bit of a break while doing the Oxy-Powder Colon Cleanse.

With juices, smoothies and soups on the menu (you know, baby food stuff! lol), the Vita-Mix, on the other hand, has been busy as ever! Perfect time to post about one of my favorite topics: raw soups. But hang on a minute; I know what you might be thinking! But there is so much more to raw soups than gazpacho, and they certainly don't need to be eaten cold!

Simplicity In A Bowl
Don and I started making raw soups when we first got onto raw, back in 2001, and we've been enjoying them daily ever since. They are a wonderful way to include more raw foods into your diet, as they can be prepared in no time. Plus, all you need is a half-decent blender and you're set to go! (Although a Vita-Mix takes things to another level! lol)

There was a time when we’d throw everything but the kitchen sink in our daily concoctions... all at once! What we’ve learned, however, is that simple is actually best. Select 2 or 3 veggies, add some water, seasonings and herbs of your choice. And don’t forget to put a little avocado or some other kind of raw fat in there, such as oil, nuts, nut milk or butter. It's the secret to making creamy soups.

Soupes Du Jour
I have been sharing several favorites over the months (see the Recipe Index), but here's a few more soups that have become staples for us.

Amongst many things, Don is the 'Soupman' around here. He's got a knack for coming up with great combinations. The following Spicy Cucumber Dill Soup is one of his latest creations. Sooooo good!

Spicy Cucumber Dill Soup
1/2 large avocado
3 cups cucumber
3 celery stalks
1 cup fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried)
1 green onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 orange, juiced
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs miso
1 tsp curry powder
Dash cayenne
2 cups water (or to taste)

Blend until smooth. If desired, warm up gently on the stove.

Sunny Raw Tip:
As much as Don and I love raw soups, we don't really like them cold, especially in the wintertime. What we usually do is warm them gently on the stove, stirring constantly so as not to overheat (and therefore kill) the enzymes. An alternative would be to pop your soup in the D, although the stove method is what works best for us.

Jennifer Cornbleet, author of Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People, has mastered the art of making delicious recipes out of a few simple ingredients.

Cream of Spinach Soup
Jennifer Cornbleet’s Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People

Serves 2

½ head spinach leaves, washed
½ cucumber, peeled
1 tomato, in wedges
¼ cup water
1 avocado
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons nama shoyu or soy sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.

I would have probably never tried this next one if it wasn't for a friend's recommendation. (Thanks Damzlfly!) So light, and the touch of mint, ginger and cardamom in the background is sublime!

Watermelon Soup
By Alissa Cohen
Posted on GreenChefs here

I've fasted on this soup during the summer and I could actually probably live on this ... it's that good.

5 Cups Watermelon
2 Cups Mango, peeled and diced
1/4 Cup Lime Juiced
3 Tablespoons Fresh Mint, chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, minced
1 Tablespoon Honey or Agave (for vegans)
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cardamom

First, in a food processor, (not a Vita-Mix), place 3 1/2 cups of watermelon and 1 cup of mango and blend until smooth.

Next, dice up the remaining 1 1/2 cups of watermelon and 1 cup of mango into tiny pieces and add them to the puree. In a small separate bowl, combine the lime juice, mint, ginger, honey and cardamom. Add this to the previous mixture and stir well.

Now chill everything in the fridge and serve in a few hours.

Carmella's Note: We enjoyed this one cold, and it was beyond delicious!

I'm allergic to corn, so I generally stay away from it. But being corn season and all, I decided to make a corn chowder at least once. Boy, was it ever a good one! The following recipe is by far the best raw rendition I've tried. It is as beautiful as it is delectable! Joz, you got a winner, girl!

Joz's Corn Chowder
Posted on Raw Freedom Community

2 ½ cups ALMOND MILK
2 cups fresh corn
1 clove garlic crushed
Handful sun dried tomatoes, soaked
dash sesame oil
dash soy sauce
½ teaspoon chili pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
*** can add 1/2 jalapeño diced if you want it spicier

Top with:
sliced sweet onion
mushrooms sliced
red pepper thinly sliced
yellow squash thinly sliced
zucchini thinly sliced
finely chopped parsley

Blend well the first set of ingredients.

Add the rest.


The following soup is a modified version of the recipe found in Carol Alt's new book "The Raw 50". Heathy/Fairygirl recently served it at one of her raw food dinner parties and it was a success.

Red Pepper Curry Soup
Adapted from Carol Alt's "The Raw 50"

Serves 3

1 ½ large red or yellow bell pepper
1 apple, peeled
1 small avocado or ½ large one
½ cup basil leaves
¼ cup walnuts
1 green onion
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
Salt, to taste
Dash cayenne
2 cups water, or until desired consistency is reached

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

We've been enjoying this other great soup by Jennifer Cornbleet for months and never grow tired of it. Just the thing for those left-over zucchini pieces from making pasta or lasagna!

Cream of Zucchini Soup
By Jennifer Cornbleet’s Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People

Serves 2

½ cup water
1 zucchini, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon mellow white miso
½ teaspoon crushed garlic (1 clove)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ avocado, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh minced dill, or 1 tsp dried

Place all of the ingredients except the olive oil, avocado and dill in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Add the olive oil and avocado and blend until smooth. Add the dill and blend briefly just to mix.

Serve immediately.

Here's one that reminds me a little of TheRawTable's wonderful Avocado Curry Soup that was featured in the first issue of Purely Delicious.

Warm Sunflower Sprout Soup
By Raw Guru Alex Malinsky

Serves 4

3 cups nut milk
½ cup red bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup tomato (chopped)
1 avocado
2 teaspoons garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon ginger (minced)
3 tbs. cilantro
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon hot pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup olive or avocado oil
1 cup water

Blend everything till smooth. Pour into a bowl and add sunflower sprouts. Adjust the heat by adding less or more hot pepper.

Carmella's Note: This soup is also really good without the sunflower sprouts.

You can make a lovely carrot soup by simply blending some carrot juice, an avocado and curry powder. Here's a yummy version that contains a few more ingredients.

Don's Carrot Soup
1 small avocado
1 small tomato
2 large celery
2 green onions
Handful parsley
1 tbs fresh grated ginger
1 tbs lemon juice
1 cup water (or more)
2 cups carrot juice

Blend all ingredients except carrot juice until smooth. Add carrot juice last by hand.

Let's finish off with a deliciously simple and fresh soup by the beautiful Cynthia Beavers of Pure Raw Cafe. A great way to use the abundance of cucumbers that we have these days!

Cucumber Avocado Dill Soup
Posted by Cynthia Beavers on Raw food Talk

cucumber peeled
½ avocado
lemon juice
coconut water
olive oil

Blend until smooth; if not thick enough, add more avocado.

Taste and adjust; once it tastes really good then add a big handful of fresh dill and blend.

Serve chilled - really satisfying and gives you a zen feeling!

* Another variation is to add mint instead of dill and fresh juiced apple juice...Then you have a lemon mint green energy soup!

Carmella’s Note: I've also made this with a little celery, parsley and green onion. Yum!

I could just go on and on, but I better stop here for now. I'll leave you with a few more fabulous simple raw soups that have been featured in previous posts, in case you've missed these gems.

But what about the gazpacho? Dang! Guess it will have to wait... ;-)

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