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!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back In The Kitchen!

Hey guys, I'm back!

Would you believe that I spent an entire month barely setting foot in the kitchen!?! Whoa, this has got to be a record! Since recipes, notes and photos have started to pile up again in the last couple of weeks, I decided it was time to bring you up to date. But first, here's a quick wrap-up of what has been going on for me during that period...

As some of you may recall, I was scheduled to do a Vipassana meditation retreat at the center in Merritt, BC in early January. On the morning we were set to leave, virtually all the roads in the area were closed due to risks of avalanche, so I couldn't make it. Talk about bad timing, hey? As I really felt the need to take time off in order to recharge and center myself, with the assistance of my housemates I was able to conduct the retreat from home instead. This proved to be a much more difficult task, as it was impossible to completely disconnect from what was going on around the place, but on the other hand, it felt much more natural to me. I mean, the real challenge in my eyes is to be able to maintain the meditation practice in my daily environment, with all of the hustle and bustle. 10 days later, I was coming out of this experience feeling refreshed and somewhat ahead of the eight ball. (Thank goodness! I had become a bit of a bomb in the last months; always ready to explode at the slightest trigger!)

Still, I continued to feel totally uninspired in the food department. The agreement thus far had been that I was 'in charge' of the kitchen, a responsibility I had to pass along to the rest of the gang. Wow, I hadn't realized how much of my energy was going into food preparation and what revolves around it: planning the evening meals, keeping track of what needs using, shopping, then the actual prep. And let's not forget the picture taking, the writing down of new recipes and the blogging about it! You know, one thing that particularly hit me was how many of the recipes I've been making/creating are on the complex side; something that was brought to my attention when Kombucha Chic asked me to contribute a menu of 'simple' and delicious recipes for her 'One Week Raw' ebook project. There were so many of my creations that didn't meet that criteria it wasn't even funny! No wonder that as my energy was increasingly demanded in other areas of my life, I found myself drawing blanks when it came to being creative with food!

Somewhat connected to this, Don and I have reintroduced some cooked foods into our diets. We continue to enjoy our daily fruit or green smoothie, salad and raw soup, but we'll have a cooked entree every now and then. Nothing extravagant, mostly simple stuff such as quinoa, rice or potatoes and squash. We also have been having some not-so-optimal items like bread occasionally. (Not easy to resist Mosaica's home baked bread, I tell ya!) Oh, and I should mention pop corn. LOTS of popcorn! (What can I say? I'm on popcorn kick!) As far as I can see, this has been partly a response to my lack of inspiration in the kitchen and to the fact that we're now sharing our living space with people that still eat a fair amount of cooked. Back in the summer of 2006, after several years on a high raw diet, we didn't consciously decide to go fully raw - it's something that naturally happened due to the circumstances and where each of us were at in terms of what foods felt right to put in our bodies. Likewise, we didn't 'choose' to eat cooked again. We just went with the 'flow'.

Has this had a noticeable effect on my overall health? Heck yeah! I've put on a few pounds, don't feel as energized (often even lethargic!), my skin and hair aren't as smooth, my bowel movements aren't as regular and I've been having way more mucus. However, I've learned that the use of control in order to 'clean my diet' won't work; at best, it will only give me short term results. I've discovered along the way that changes to one's behavior can't be forced by the imposition of intellectual ideals; it must come from the inside out from a sort of 'seeing' what's best and as a side effect of the inner 'work'. Therefore, not much for me to do except hang in there and ride it out. I know this is just a phase and that it's more than likely that the interest in cooked foods will fall by the wayside again at some point, once the weather warms up.

Anyhoo, with all that being said, the tide has gradually started to change in terms of my involvement in food prep. It probably won't come to you as a big surprise that the recipe that lured me back to the kitchen counter was Heathy's fantastic Chocolate Orange Cake from her brand new Just Desserts ebook. (Mosaica had made a special request for her birthday!) We whipped up a double batch so that we could try my new 9" square spring form pan.

Pure decadence!

We're getting pretty good at this! (Was it the 5th or 6th times we were making it? lol) I've been gradually reducing the amount of dates in the cake, as we found it a little too sweet, but I think now we've come to the perfect amount for our taste buds.

We topped the cake with blood orange segments; something that actually gave us a cool idea...
(Keep scrolling down, you'll see what I mean!)

Then came Pontifex's birthday 2 weeks later. He wanted something pineapple-y and Heathy's delicious Tropical Cheesecake perfectly fit the bill.

Super light and oh-so-fruity!

Yummy stuff!

Then next thing you know, I was picking up my copy of Sweet Gratitude again, browsing for other projects! Heathy had been raving about their Almond Coconut Joy so I decided to give these a try. No wonder, they are a-ma-zing!!! I had a bit of trouble forming them (I couldn't for the life of me understand what their instructions were referring to! lol) so I ended up playing around with a couple of techniques. Finally a way to use up all that Artisana coconut butter I stocked up on a while back!

These were done with the help of a measuring tablespoon.

On the right, you can see a slightly bigger one which I just shaped with my hands.

While I was in the book's chocolate section, the Hazelnut Amaretto Cups seriously caught my eyes. I bought mini silicon cups at the local kitchen store that worked beautifully for that purpose. There was extra filling left, so Mosaica had the brilliant idea to make a gigantic one just for us (since we 'worked so hard').

Man oh man, are these ever good!

Mosaica thought it looked like
a pig's nose, and well, she has a point! Oink! Oink! ;-)

After my previous not-so-successful experiments with Irish moss, I was eager to give it another try. I was hesitating between a few different pies. As it received rave reviews on RFC's Sweet Gratitude thread, I decided to tackle their Pecan Pie. This time around, I soaked the moss only 2 1/2 hours at room temp to be on the safe side, as my problem before was caused by oversoaking. All and all, the prep went pretty smooth. I did cut down a little on the agave, replacing the amount with extra water. Since the recipe calls for agave, dates AND yacon syrup, I figured I had some leeway. The finished pie's texture and flavor reminded me a lot of a traditional dessert my mom used to make known as 'Tarte au Sucre' or Sugar Pie. Yep, as you've guessed, it was still REALLY sweet! Actually, so much so that I had a hard time finishing my piece. Otherwise, the flavor was great.

Definitely worth toying with to adjust to my taste buds.

I remembered that my mom served her Sugar Pie with some cream to balance out the sweetness, so I whipped up a batch of the Cream, also featured in the Sweet Gratitude book. It did help! Mmmmm

And lastly, we made the Chocolate Orange Cake (again!), but this time with blood oranges. We were curious to see how it would turn out, given the fact that these have such a lovely deep red-purplish color. Other members of RFC decided to join us in the course of a Project R.A.W. and try to see what it is about this cake that keeps us making it over and over. Actually, Don is getting tired of it, but that's O.K.! It just means more for me and Mosaica! hehe

To our surprise, the orange filling wasn't a gorgeous reddish color but sort of grey. Eeek! Go figure! Thankfully, we resorted to a little trick I've seen in a number of recipes. Mosaica added about a teaspoon of beet juice to the mixture and voila!

At first glance, I know you'd think it's some kind of berry layer, but nope. Ah well, at least we tried! *shrug* It still tasted deliciously orangey!

Pontifex thought that this was our best one yet and I'd have to agree!

There! I guess we've come full circle, so I'll stop here. And in case you're wondering whether we've been eating nothing but dessert around here, the answer is "Gosh, no!" I have also been whipping up other things such as smoothies, dressings, soups and entrees. I even got to experiment a bit with new ingredients (to me anyways!), such as chia seeds and kelp noodles which I'll tell you all about in upcoming posts.

So bye for now! I promise you'll hear from me again real soon!


  1. I love the look of the square springform pan! thanks for sharing as always!

  2. Great that you are back! Those chocolates look soooo yummy!

  3. Goodness me!
    I thought I'd died and gone to dessert heaven!
    It all looks so YUM!

  4. I'm so glad you are back Carmella! I'm also glad you had a chance for reflection and relaxation (even though we missed you:-). Best wishes!

  5. Glad to see you back in the kitchen, Carmella! Your food looks delicious as always!


  6. Carmella,

    Nice to see you back. I was on holidays in Maui over Christmas and was having a hard time finding raw food and it was expensive. So I started having cooked rice, chick peas and potatoes in order to survive. Later on I found a great raw place at Manna Foods in Paia that was wonderful.

    Since that trip I've stayed on cooked foods but now once every few days when I feel the need.

    Just got new dessert book form our local library to try out. Do you recommend their first book as well. Thinking of ordering both on Amazon but wasn't sure how many recipes were in the main book Cafe Gratitude. Are they both worth purchasing?

  7. I am so enjoying your blogs! Have tried a couple of your things (MMMM)and even bought Fairygirl's
    "Just Desserts" because of your recommendation.

  8. Thanks everyone for the warm welcome back! ;-)

    All the dessert recipes from the first CG book are included in the second one (as far as I can see.) The only difference is that the 1st also contains some savory recipes. I must confess I haven't made very many of them though as I always end up gravitating to the dessert section.

    Perhaps you could order it via your library too so you can take a peek?

  9. This Tropical cheesecake looks so beautiful with the colors, I'm sure it'll be a big hit with the kids! Nice colors! Although I'm to a big fan of tropical cheesecake, this sure looks yummy! I'm normally the one that will say no to cheesecake. thank you for shearing your post.