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, July 31, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream

I know that this is technically the second 'Recipe of the Week' that I post but what can I say... New concoctions are starting to pile up again and I'm itching to share them! lol

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a coffee ice cream recipe I had jotted down at Gayle's in Portland. Sounded mighty good to me. Alrighty then, time to put our new ice cream maker to work! (How did I survive without one of those for so long!?!)

One common issue that I've noticed with ice creams is that the mixtures tend to be 'crystally' rather than creamy if there isn't a high enough fat content. I was concerned that this was going to be the case with this recipe and, well, one thing led to another and I ended up giving it a few extra tweaks.

The combination of coffee and chocolate couldn't help but bring to my mind the rich flavors of Tiramisu. I decided to serve it as a Tiramisu Sundae; layering the ice cream with Whipped Cream I had already made and topping it with cacao nibs and sifted cacao powder. Need I say more?

Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream

Makes 1 quart

1 1/2 cups cashews
1 cup young coconut meat
2 cups almond milk
1 cup water
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup + 1 tbs coffee substitute powder (such as Krakus or Inka)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
3 tbs cacao powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Chill mixture in fridge or freezer then process through ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Alternatively, freeze in ice cube trays until solid and then process through a champion juicer with a blank plate or high-speed blender.

Carmella's Notes:
~ If you wish you could use only maple syrup or agave.

~ For a Tiramisu Sundae: I placed some of the mixture straight out of the ice cream maker in a pretty glass bowl, followed by a Whipped Cream layer and more Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream. I placed the bowls in the freezer to set then finished off with Whipped Cream pipped on top, a few cacao nibs and sifted cacao powder.


Keeping with the theme of decadent frozen desserts, I'll leave you with a photo of the Banana Toffee Ice Cream I made from Matthew Kenney's upcoming Everyday Raw Desserts. This was sooooo good! I had a bit of a hard time with the toffee, as the texture remained soft even after sitting in the freezer for hours. This turned out to be a bonus; when I served the ice cream the toffee had somehow melted on the inside!

Absolutely scrumptious!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Raw Celebration: Triple Layer Chocolate Cake and More!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we celebrated two occasions earlier this month: I turned 39 years young and, I have been walking alongside Don for 10 years now. Wow, what an amazing journey Life is turning out to be!

Although I hadn't spent much time experimenting in the kitchen for months, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to do something about that. Since we were expecting the visit of our friends, Mosaica and Pontifex a few days after my birthday, I thought "What the heck! How about we have TWO celebratory feasts!" I wanted to whip up something a little special, and if you recall, I asked for your help in planning the menu, but only a couple of people responded. (Thanks Jozzy and Lisa!)

After much pondering, browsing online and flipping through my recipe books, I finally settled for the following yummies...

Raw Feast #1
On my birthday, we started the meal off with a recipe that another Lisa - one of our hosts in Washington - shared with me. I was glad to finally have an opportunity to try the smoked sea salt I had bought in the States. It gave the soup a delightful subtle flavor. I did cut down on the chili called for as we have a pretty low tolerance to heat. It was still a wee bit too spicy for us but still very delicious.

Ruby's Smokin' Hot Tomato Soup
By Penni Shelton of Real Food Tulsa

2 cups fresh tomatoes (I like cherry or grape baby ones)
2 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked (save the soak water)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 1-2 hours
1 cup soak water
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup shallot, chopped
1 TBSP red pepper chili flakes
1 TBSP agave nectar or raw honey
1 tsp smoked sea salt if you have it
pure water to thin as needed
fresh herbs for garnish

Blend all ingredients in your blender, combine until you reach a creamy consistency. If you want to reduce the heat, use less chili flakes.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I used 1 cup red bell pepper and only 1 cup dried tomatoes.

~ I used 1/2 avocado instead of olive oil.

~ I used less chili as we don't like too spicy.

For our 'plat de resistance', my friend Jozzie had suggested a  Beet Terrine that Tofu666 featured on his blog, but the instructions were very vague and I didn't feel up for filling in the blanks. Keeping with the idea of a layered dish, I chose the Basil & Spinach Flan from Matthew Kenney's Entertaining in the Raw (which I highly recommend, by the way.)

I'd only used Irish moss in a savory dish once before and was itching to give it another try. The texture was interesting although I was expecting something much lighter, as Irish moss gives to desserts such a light/melt-in-your-mouth quality. The flan was accompanied by a Brazil Nut Foam which didn't turn out quite as foamy as it should. I thought that the foam's hint of cardamom blended very nicely with the flan's milder flavors. I halved the recipe and somehow didn't have enough of the white cream to make several layers so I settled for one thick green stripe flanked by two thin white ones. I served the dish with a simple spinach salad with slices of cucumber and tomato and homegrown sprouts.
Sure made for a lovely presentation!

Dessert was the easiest part to decide on, although there's a little story to it...

With our months on the road I've fallen behind on what all's been going on on the raw scene. Since our return some of my energy has been freed so that I can at last do some catching up and scout for new recipes and ideas. (I am soooooooo ready to revamp our staples; it feels like we've been eating the same dishes for like a year!)

I wasn't so out of the loop though that I didn't know that Matthew Kenney was releasing a new book, Everyday Raw Desserts. I finally got a chance to hop over to Amazon to check it out and was stoked to discover that I could take a peek inside the book. The table of contents alone got me drooling! Everyday Raw Desserts has chapters on cookies and candy, brownies, bars and fudge, puddings, flans and custards, pies and tarts, cakes and cheesecakes, comfort food, ice cream and frozen treats, chocolate and finally raw dessert staples. Wow, this promises to join Sweet Gratitude and Heathy's Just Desserts on my shelf of 'raw dessert essentials'!

Not sure how I did it but the first time I browsed through the book on Amazon I managed to see a bunch of recipes such as Cinnamon Cake, Marzipan, Vanilla Almond Panna Cotta, Double Chocolate Pudding, Baklava and Cinnamon Cake. *wiping the drool off the keyboard* I somehow had the wits to leave the tab open and was able to glance through them at will, which was a great thing as when I tried going back later all I could access were excepts from the first chapter on cookies. *scratching her head*

One of the recipes that caught my attention was a Pear Frangipane; a French classic. I love love the rich flavor of almond extract so decided to make it for my first birthday feast. I didn't have any ripe pears on hand but that didn't deter me; I used blueberries instead. Traditional frangipane is a fragrant, moist filling flavored with nuts (usually almonds, but also sometimes hazelnuts or pistachios) and used in pies, tarts and cakes. It's usually egg-based, which puts it in the custard family, although its texture can vary greatly, ranging from a light pastry cream to a firm batter.

The raw rendition in Matthew's book is a combination of almond pulp (left over from making milk) and Irish moss paste. Let's pause here for a moment... Irish moss paste or gel consists of a mixture of Irish moss and water. However if you've come upon these in recipes before then you know that every chef has its own version of it, using a different ratio. There were no specifications in the Frangipane recipe as to how to make the paste. I'd stumbled upon another recipe to be featured in Matthew's upcoming book, the Triple Layer Chocolate cake on his site, which called for Irish moss paste but same deal, no specific directions. Hum, what to do? I decided to drop Matthew a line and inquire about the matter.  Within hours I received a reply from Meredith who works with him and happens to be the actual recipe creator. She was so kind, walking me through the process and answering my questions.

You guys will have to patiently wait for Everyday Raw Desserts to be released (hopefully next month!) before you can try this recipe at home, but I'm sharing the few mods I made anyways.

For the crust, I used a mixture of cashew and coconut flours instead of just cashew, and then completely forgot to add the coconut oil. I don't think it was a big deal; it still held nicely.

For the filling, I doubled the amount of almond extract, used vanilla powder instead of scraped beans (so much easier to work with!), and agave only as I had no honey. I also cut down on the amount, using about 1/4 cup less sweetener.

Oh, and I would recommend sifting the agave powder before adding it to the other ingredients as I had trouble getting rid of the lumps.

Meredith sure was inspired for this one as the texture was awesome!

For the Fruit Topping, I used about 1 1/4 cups blueberries instead of the pear. I also skipped the dehydrator step, just tossing the berries in a little agave, lemon juice, liquid vanilla and salt. I then had fun creating a blueberry lattice.

Lastly, instead of adding an agave glaze, I drizzled the left over liquid mixture on top. Afterward I wished I had thickened it up with some of the Irish moss paste; I remember using a similar technique in one of Sweet Gratitude's recipes.


The glaze ended up being absorbed into the frangipane filling so it didn't look as pretty but boy, was it ever tasty!

Heavenly! And so different in texture than anything I've tried before!

Ahhhhhhh! What a feast we had ourselves! But the best part was that we were up for another one a few days later with our friends! Yay!

In the meantime we ran out of dessert (now can't have that happen can I?) so I whipped up Cafe Gratitude's Strawberry Brilliance Pie which I served as parfaits. Not only was it a great way to use some of the extra Irish moss but it sorta fell in line with my birthday tradition (my mom would always make me strawberry shortcake). This is really to live for! In fact, a friend even told me that it was THE best dessert she EVER had! How about that!?!

Raw Feast #2
The next feast began with a variation on one of my all time favorite soups by Jennifer Cornbleet, again on Jozzie's suggestion. I came upon a cooked zucchini soup that sounded interesting which was a breeze to turn it into raw. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. (I certainly did!)

Creamy Zucchini & Basil Bisque

Serves 4

4 cups chopped zucchini (or 4 small to med. ones)
1/3 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup cashews
1 small avocado
2 garlic cloves
1 green onion
1 tbs nutritional yeast
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt (or 1 tsp miso)
Water until desired consistency is reached

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

If you wish a warm soup, use hot water or heat it up gently on the stove on medium heat while stirring constantly.

The main course was BBQ Skewers from Sarma's Living Raw Food. The recipe calls for Lapsang Souchong tea to give a slight smokey flavor to the veggies. This technique was also used for the delicious Portobello steaks we enjoyed at Matthew Kenney's restaurant in Florida. On Jozzie's recommendation I used half of the amount of tea called for which also helped reduce the level of caffeine - a bonus for me.

The veggies were first marinated for a few hours, placed onto skewers (I just left them 'loose') and dehydrated on teflex sheets for 3 hours. I was amazed at how 'cooked' they looked!

In her book Sarma serves the BBQ Skewers with a coleslaw. I didn't read the recipe properly and just went ahead and made the Dill Mayonnaise, thinking it was to accompany the veggies. When I realized that it was intended for the coleslaw I set it aside. I used it later for tomato and sprout sammies and it absolutely rocks! Really very good!

And last but not least, we enjoyed the Triple Layer Chocolate Cake, also from Matthew Kenney's upcoming Everyday Raw Desserts

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake
Posted by Matthew Kenney on his site
From his upcoming Everyday Raw Desserts

Makes one 9 inch cake

Wet Ingredients
    •    3 C Date Paste
    •    ½ C Almond Milk
    •    ½ C Maple Syrup or Agave
    •    5 tbsp Vanilla
    •    ½ C Coconut Oil, melted

Dry Ingredients
    •    4 C Almond flour
    •    4 C Hazelnut flour
    •    1 C Coconut Powder (finely ground dried coconut)
    •    1 C Cacao Powder
    •    1 tsp Salt
    •    ¼ C Irish Moss Paste* can be used with wet ingredients or ¼ C flax meal with the dry. This is optional and creates a fluffier mixture.

* To Make Irish Moss Paste

Yields 2 Cups

Approximately 2 Cups prepared (soaked) Irish Moss
½ Cup Water (use less if possible)
3-4 Tbsp agave
1 tsp lemon juice

To prepare Irish moss. Thoroughly rinse the seaweed to remove any sand or particles.  Soak rinsed moss in cool water for 3-4 hours. You do not want to soak it too long because it will decrease its gelling potential.

In the vita-mix blend the moss adding the water a little at a time, the moss varies in water content so you may need less or more depending. You want the paste to smooth and thick, not watery. Once the desired consistency is achieved add a few Tbsp agave and about a tsp lemon juice. This makes the perfect Irish moss paste for use in desserts. It will store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I roughly chopped the Irish moss to make it easier to break down.

~ I halved the recipe at first but it wouldn't blend properly so I added an extra 1/2 cup of moss thinking there wasn't enough liquid in the blender. It still wouldn't blend. I kept adding water so that I could get the moss to 'explode' (as someone once described it) into a gelatinous mixture. In the end, it worked out to be 1 1/4 cup water to 1 1/2 cup moss (before chopping). When I told Meredith about my difficulties she said that it depends on the moss, as the gelatinous content can vary. Ahhhhhh, I'd never thought of that before but it makes sense!

~ I omitted the agave and lemon juice as I wanted a more neutral paste. I figured all I'd have to do is add a bit of these to the desserts instead.

Wet Ingredients
In a vita mix thoroughly blend all the wet ingredients except for the coconut oil until smooth. Then add the coconut oil and continue to blend until well combined.

To Make Cake Batter
In a mixer or food processor mix the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the wet ingredients. It is better to use a standing mixture as this will keep the mixture lighter and more fluffy, but if you do not have a standing mixer it can be done in the food processor if you lightly pulse the wet ingredients in. You do not want a dense heavily blended mixture.

Fudge Frosting
    •    2 C soaked Cashews
    •    2 C Almond Milk
    •    ½ C Maple Syrup
    •    4 tbsp Vanilla Extract
    •    1 C Cacao Powder
    •    ¼ tsp Salt
    •    ¾ C Coconut Butter (I'm thinking she meant oil), melted
    •    Cacao Shell*

In a vita mix thoroughly blend all the wet ingredients except for the coconut oil until smooth. Then add the coconut oil and continue to blend until well combined and creamy. Place in the refrigerator for 30 min to an hour until slightly firm, but still able to be easily spread.

Divide cake batter into thirds. Press one layer of batter in a 9 inch spring form pan and alternate with frosting. Refrigerate just before serving and glaze with Cacao shell.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I made only half the recipe as it seemed to be a huge cake.

~ I made the Cake Batter in my food processor.

~ For the Fudge Frosting, I totally read  'Cacao Butter' instead of 'Coconut Butter' since the Cake layer called for Coconut Oil. Anyhoo, I used Cacao Butter and it worked beautifully. ;-) Also, you know how whether the oil/butter is measured before or after melting makes quite a difference? Well in this case the amount before melting didn't feel right to me. I was concerned that the frosting wouldn't be firm enough so decided to go with 3/4 cup (well, actually half of that) of melted cacao butter. I also added 1 tbs lecithin, just to be safe.

And thus ended an array of exquisite gourmet treats. Guess I'll just have to pretend that every day is 'special' from now so that I can keep experimenting, eh? ;-) I'm lovin' all that novelty!

Wishing you all a very blessed and special day too!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Creamy Peppercorn Ranch Dressing

One area where I often draw blanks when it comes to recipe creation is dressings. And to make matters worse, I'm also rather picky in that department. For instance I don't care much for oily dressings, usually subbing part of the oil called for with avocado, nor do I like completely fat free ones. So you'll understand my excitement that in the last week or so I've discovered not one but two dressings that I adore! Woo hoo! No worries, I'll share both of them with you. ;-)

Let's start with a wonderfully creamy dressing that was submitted by Natalia of Glowing Temple, for Living Light's 2010 Hot Raw Chef contest. It totally rawks! Soooooo creamy and flavorful! For some reason it almost tastes like parmesan to me. Anyhoo, an absolute must try!

Creamy Peppercorn Ranch Dressing
By Natalia of Glowing Temple
Submitted to Living Light's 2010 Hot Raw Chef contest

Yields about 2 1/4 cups

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup (shelled hemp seeds (aka hemp heart)
5 cloves garlic
2 tsp black peppercorn
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup cold pressed olive oil

Blend all ingredients except olive oil in blender until smooth.

Add the olive oil through the top's small opening while the blender is running, starting at low speed and quickly going to high (the process should only take a few seconds.)

Carmella's Notes:
~ I used more like 3/4 cup water as I found it too thick for my taste.

~ As Natalia points out in her video, it sounds like a lot of garlic but the flavor isn't overwhelming at all.

Winner of Raw Health Expo Ticket Giveaway

I woke up this morning to yet another gorgeous sunny day! Yippee! Time to share the bliss and make someone else happy! ;-)

The winner to my Raw Health Expo Giveaway is... 

Shelley Marie!

Congratulations girl! You will be receiving by email a pair of tickets for the Expo that will be taking place next weekend in Sepastopol.

Please contact me at sunnyrawkitchen(at)gmail(dot)com as soon as possible so that I can finalize the details. I'll be needing your full name and email address as well as those of the person you'll be taking along.

I hope you have tons of fun and come back inspired!

Thanks to everyone who participated; I've been enjoying reading about your favorite concoctions.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Free Tickets to the Second Annual Raw Health Expo!

In the mood for some raw inspiration? The Second Annual Raw Health Expo is coming up at the end of the month in Sebastopol, CA.

The Raw Health Expo started with a bang last year in Santa Rosa and this year's event promises to be another huge success!

Here's some more info about the 2010 Raw Health Expo...

Second Annual Raw Health Expo
Saturday, July 31 and Sunday, August 1, 2010

In Sonoma County, California (about 1 hour north of San Francisco)

Discover The Secrets To Thriving On A Raw Food Diet
-- At This Mouth-Watering Raw Health Expo

· You'll meet top raw food chefs and educators - With over two dozen of today's most talented raw food teachers and chefs you are sure to learn important information and time saving tips you will not hear anywhere else.

· You'll learn how to prepare delicious raw food recipes - There will be sixteen raw food recipe demonstrations where you will learn how to create easy-to-prepare, delicious and healthy raw foods.

· You'll discover how to save money by growing your own food - With a half-dozen talks on growing food, from hydroponics, converting your front lawn to edible landscaping, and growing mineral rich produce, you will have the knowledge you need to start growing your own food.

· You'll get to meet and connect with others who enjoy raw foods - Feel the support and comradery of others that live your lifestyle.

· You'll go home with the knowledge and recipes you need to be successful in the long term -   From growing, preparing and the reasons for eating raw food, you will be better prepared after attending the Raw Health Expo.

For further information and to purchase tickets visit our web site:


This is the most affordable raw food event anywhere! 

At the door, the two day ticket price will be $79.99.

If you purchase your ticket before July 15, YOU WILL SAVE 50% off
If you purchase your ticket after July 15, YOU WILL SAVE 37.5% off

Special Bonus: Because you are reading my blog, use the discount code MYBLOG to save an additional 20% off.

Free Tickets Giveaway
I was offered a free pair of two day tickets to the Raw Health Expo but won't be able to make it. (Boo hoo!) Soooooooooo... I'm offering these up as giveaway to you guys! ( Over a $150.00 retail value!)

 To enter the draw, simply post a comment sharing your current favorite raw food dish before Saturday.

The winner will be selected with a random number generator and announced on my blog next Sunday, August 25th.

Here's to your health!

Monday, July 19, 2010

SRK Tour Adventures: Washington Part II

Hello everyone! I hope you are enjoying the many blessings of this season, as we are!

It will be exactly 3 months tomorrow that we returned from the US. Wowsers! Has it really been that long? I've been losing track of time now that I don't have "to be anywhere" or "do anything". Such an awesome feeling!

One thing's for sure; I certainly didn't expect the recounting of our Sunny Raw Kitchen Tour adventures to take THAT long! I had an insight at some point that my blogging backlog was somehow connected at a deep level to the energetic backlog I accumulated over our months of travels. Dunno whether it truly is the case but I certainly find it an interesting 'coincidence' that I'm finally putting up the last post of this series just when I'm beginning to feel on top of things again.
 Without further ado let's pick up the story where we left off, shall we?

5 Days To Go
While trying to find a potential venue for a class in Seattle, I was put in touch with Janine, one of the co-founders of another raw cafe called Thrive. She was so welcoming and enthusiastic about our visit! Unfortunately Janine couldn't make it to our class at Chaco Canyon so we arranged to get together the next day for a few hours.

We met up in town and headed straight over to Richmond for a short visit to Raw Vegan Source, a local raw food store, where we were greeted by the owner Susan. She told us a little about her amazing story... In 2004 she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and refused to follow the traditional medical route. Instead after researching she decided to go all-raw, spending some time at the Optimum Health Institute in Southern California and Gabriel Cousens' Tree of Life center in Arizona. By June 2005, she was completely cancer-free!

Finding it difficult to obtain good quality raw products, she and her husband Tom created a raw foods buying co-op with four of their friends. A year later there was enough interest to open a physical store and they began selling online. Raw Vegan Source basically carries anything that the local health food stores don't have on their shelves. The place is a veritable raw foodist's dream: superfoods, agave, coconut oil, prepackaged goodies, supplements galore and even Irish moss! I felt like a kid in a candy store!

After stocking up on a few raw items, we then went for a lovely walk at Marymoor just outside Seattle. Nicknamed 'Doggy Disneyland', it offers 40 acres of off leash dog park. I swear I've never seen so many dogs gathered in one place, and the amazing thing is that they all got along! It has always been our feeling that leashes tend to distort/interfere with the natural energetics and Marymoor sure confirmed that.

Kyky going for a refreshing dip.

Janine making friends with a funny looking dog with an 'Afro' hairdo.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, it was already time to say 'goodbye'. As you can tell from this next picture, Janine and I bonded quickly. She is such a sweet soul! "I've only known you for 4 hours and I don't want you guys to leave!" she exclaimed! Awwww!

Come on now, everybody smiles! (You too Kylo!)
After being dropped back at our car, we still had a couple of hours before going out for dinner, so we went to a nearby park to chill out and soak up some of the sunshine.
Feasting at Thrive
As I mentioned earlier, Seattle has not one but two restaurants that serve raw foods. (Are they spoiled or what!?!) When I first hopped over to Thrive's website I was blown away by how much vibrancy and passion emanate from it. Allow me to share a few words about them...

"Our mission is to ongoingly cultivate an environment designed to nourish, inspire, and awaken all people to their fullest expression of magnificence. 

We say that a future of flourishing as a normal state of human affairs is a direct function of a community’s generous and unstoppable stand for one another’s vitality. And so, our utmost focus and commitment is the fulfillment of what it means for all people to truly THRIVE. We uphold and tend the paradigm that Earth is exceedingly generous, bold and bountiful; that its simple harvest, is the most potent and intelligent source of energy and medicine, and that it provides access to a shocking, enlivening, and previously unthinkable experience of health and vitality, unleashing an incredible Velocity, Joy and Buoyancy, Beauty and Shine. We open our doors as an invitation for all people to shift into this paradigm. It is a distinct honor and privilege to operate a business in service to what’s possible in Human Health."

So inspiring and eloquently put!

But Thrive is much more than a cafe, it also offers an array of raw food classes and various programs including one called 'Raw for a Week'; an ingenious way to help and support anyone interested in giving raw a try. How does that work? Your meals are provided by Chaco Canyon and Thrive for the entire week, you get a 1-hour orientation, receive a raw resources packet, and a dedicated staff member to assist you along the way. What a truly fabulous idea!

We had spread the word that we'd be eating there that evening in case anyone wanted to join us. It was a small group but we had a lovely time and the food was deeeelicious!

Don and I started off with a glass of Rapture: an infusion of Açaí and blueberries with ginger, fresh vanilla bean, pineapple, and coconut water.

And then shared a few dishes...

Enlighten Salad: A dish of spinach, spiralized zucchini, mushrooms, walnuts, and their Mighty Thai Sauce

This was actually very much like a pasta dish, only with more greens. Mmmmmm

Nacho Plate: Flax crackers served with Nacho Cheese Dip, Guacamole, Salsa, and Onion Cashew Cream

I'm usually not a big fan of raw onion but that Onion Sour Cream was to live for! Sooooo good!

Chili Con Marvelous: A blend of fresh vegetables, nuts, and herbs, topped with Onion Cashew Cream and served on a bed of romaine

This dish was recommended by Janine and man, was it ever yummy! THE best raw chili I've ever tasted!

 Jennifer ordered the Bella Burger (another of Janine's favorites) and absolutely loved it! A patty made of mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and walnuts, topped with Thrive's special sweet sauce, served in a cabbage leaf and paired with tomato, lettuce and onion.

Another young woman who's name I forgot (ooops!) opted for this next one: Oh My Sombrero! Spicy taco Sunflower Seed Paté, Guacamole, Salsa, and Onion Cashew Cream served with lettuce taco salad style.

We decided to all share a couple of items from their large dessert display...

Banana Coconut Pie

Orange Eclipse

Both desserts were super yummy. Jennifer couldn't resist trying some of their raw ice creams and Michael discovered that by combining a mouthful of Orange Eclipse with the ice cream it tasted just like an Orangecicle. ;-)

Mother and daughter

 I had been communicating with a lady named Veronique over the months, and while she couldn't come to the class she was able to join us for the evening. Yay!

4 Days To Go
After a very busy 3 days in Seattle the time had come to get back on the road. We wished we could have stayed longer but the clock was ticking... *sigh*

On the way to our next (and last!) destination, we made a brief stop in order to connect with Tiffany who was at the Thursday class. Together we came up with an impromptu lunch with what she had on hand. The result was a yummilicious dish of Asian style veggies tossed in an oil, tamari, ginger and garlic marinade and served on zucchini and young coconut noodles. To live for!

Some delicious olive bread platter that Tiffany prepared.

For dessert, she whipped up a cherry pudding that also makes a wonderful ice cream. (Dang! I knew I should have jolted down the ingredients when she gave them to me!)
With our bellies full and glad to have had a chance to spend a bit more time with Tiffany, we continued and made our way to our last hosts. The Engle family live on a beautiful and quiet property in the Snoqualmie Valley. What a treat it was to be surrounded by Nature after spending a few days in the city. It occurred to me that we began and ended our US travels with two Lisas! ;-)

We were greeted by their beautiful Bella who is such an adorable doggie!

That evening we enjoyed a light meal of crackers and spread. For dessert, Lisa pulled out a Rich Lemon Gnash Pie from the freezer. This recipe was contributed by one of our members on Raw Freedom Community. It is also featured in my Best of RFC ebook but I never got around to making it. Deliciously lemonie!

Rich Lemon Gnash Pie
Posted by Flandria on Raw Freedom Community

 I went to a friends house to drop off my raw food samples. She gave me a bag full of lemons from her Meyers lemon tree. The lemons were so good, I can’t pass up making a lemon gnash pie – thick and rich lemon pie!

Pie Crust
1 cup macadamia, unsoaked
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, unsoaked
3 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla

Process macadamia, pumpkin seeds, lemon zest, agave nectar and vanilla. Press into a 4 1/2 in spring form pie pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.

1 cup cashew nuts, soaked
2 medium sized Meyers lemons
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup almond milk
2 tbsp coconut butter
2 tsp cashew butter

Blend cashews, lemon juice, agave nectar, vanilla, almond milk until smooth. Once smooth, add coconut butter and cashew butter. Blend until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little more almond milk until smooth creamy consistency.

Pour the filling into the pie crust and let it set in the FREEZER for about 1 hour. Slice and serve.

3 Days To Go - Class at Lisa's
The next morning we began prepping for that afternoon's class. This was another private affair attended mostly by friends and family. We decided to go with dishes on the gourmet side as Lisa wanted to show them the potential of how delicious raw foods can be. This was my last class of the Tour and I had an absolute blast!

On the menu was Corn Chowder, Tuna Salad, Zucchini Pasta with Basil Arugula Pesto, Fajitas and Sour Cream and my Dazzling Hazelnut Cream Pie. When I heard that there would be a couple of durian lovers in the attendance - a rare occurrence indeed - I decided to do something very bold: I whipped up a Durian Pudding!

Alright, let's do it! Time to try the pudding! ;-)
You should have seen the mixture of face expressions as they were tasting it! There was everything from taste bud bliss to surprise, to even complete disgust! hehe

Huh, not so sure about this!

After the class, we enjoyed the left overs for dinner. From left to right: Emma (Lisa's daughter), Lisa, her hubby Scott and Tiffany.

2 Days To Go - Playing With Moss
We decided to take a day off in order to rest and repack the van before hitting the road. That's not to say that we couldn't have a little fun in the kitchie though! Lisa and Tiffany had never worked with Irish moss so we agreed to tackle a dessert together.

Ever since my conversation with Gregory, the pastry chef at Cafe Gratitude, I've been using his technique with successful results. I know I've probably explained it before but please bear with me while I go over it again.

Something I'd like to stress before I get going... It is key that the water is cold to avoid the moss losing some of its precious gelling properties.

First I rinse the moss very well under running water then place it in a container of water and massage it briefly to help remove more grits and unwanted particles. I repeat this step 3 or 4 times until the water stays clear. I then fill the container with fresh water and leave it covered in the fridge. After 24 hours, the Irish moss is ready to be used. (Alternatively, in a pinch you could leave it at room temp for 3 1/2 hours or so.)

The moss will keep for about a week to 10 days in the fridge in the same soak water (that too apparently helps maintain the gelatin.)

 A few other tips that I've learned while handling Irish moss...

- It really helps to roughly chop the measured amount of moss before throwing it in the blender.

- Make sure to blend the moss with some kind of liquid first until it's completely dissolved before adding other ingredients. Note: Some recipes call for Irish moss paste or gel which is obtained by blending soaked moss with water. The ratio varies greatly depending on the chef. Russell James makes his Irish moss paste by blending 1 cup soaked moss to 2 cups water.

- You'll probably have to stop the blender a couple of times in order to scrape the bits of moss that have shot up to the sides and in the rubber top.

- It takes quite a bit of processing before the Irish moss 'explodes' into a gelatin; a process that is activated by the heat generated during blending.

- Once your filling mixture is ready I strongly recommend taking the extra time to do a consistency test. (Having to scrape your pie filling out of the crust because it didn't set properly is a real pain in the butt!) Simply put a small amount of filling in a glass or small bowl and let it sit in the fridge (or freezer) for half an hour or so. Then run a knife through it and see if it comes clean. If it's not firm enough, throw the tested portion back in the blender container along with the rest of the filling and add a couple of tablespoons of melted coconut oil. That should do the trick. If you're happy with the consistency, simply blend the tested portion back with the rest of the mixture briefly and proceed with the assembly.

- I once read somewhere that Irish moss based desserts shouldn't be frozen as it alters the consistency. Having said that, placing it in the freezer for half an hour or so for the purposes of testing or kick starting the firming process won't hurt.

But back to that day's Irish moss experiments...

We opted for Sweet Gratitude's Cappuccino Pie. In the past I've tried using coffee extract and decaf coffee in recipes but I still got the jitters (I'm super intolerant to caffeine!) As a last resort, I thought we could give coffee substitute a try (one of my favorite brands are Krakus and Teecino). It worked like a charm! The pie had a wonderful coffee flavor but sans the unwanted side effects. Hoorah!

As a bonus, of all the times I've whipped up Coconut Meringue before, this one it turned out best. Yay!

Lisa caught me in action... The woman behind the camera. ;-)

Satisfied with our kitchen endeavors, Lisa, Tiffany, Don and I then went for a lovely walk by the river.
Oh... and Kyky too! Of course! ;-)

Tiffany walked with us a little ways before returning to her place.
Departure Day
I had mixed feelings when I woke up the last morning. After spending nearly 6 months traveling across the US, the time had come to hop in the van and head back 'home' (if there's such a thing in our world anymore.) ;-) I knew that our lives would take yet another dramatic turn as we were getting ready to enter a much slower paced phase.

Just about ready to go now!

Our original plans were to visit a friend in Anacortes before taking the ferry to Victoria and hook up with Don's daughter, but it would have been a bit of a squeeze and didn't seem to flow. So instead we drove the eastern route through Steven's Pass. What a scenic drive that was; the perfect end to such a memorable journey!

Shortly after we left the landscape changed dramatically as we encountered snow in the Pass... a small taste of the winter we missed.

When we entered the Wenatchee area - known as the "Apple Capital of the World" - there were orchards everywhere we looked! Our timing couldn't have been better as they were all in full bloom. What a sight!

We later drove through the Okanogan, similar in so many ways to our Canadian Okanagan with its lakes...

... orchards and farmland,

... and even desert!

Call Us 'The Van Smugglers'!
We eventually found ourselves at the border crossing. Although we were all prepared (I had made a list of our purchases and Don had moved the van's temporary permit to the front window), I found myself a bit apprehensive as being under interrogation from government authorities is rarely a pleasant experience.

The guard asked us the usual questions: "Where were you?" and"How long have you been in the US?" When he asked what we purchased I glanced at my piece of paper and diligently gave him the amount and description. "Is that everything?" he asked. Don and I looked at each other and candidly replied: "Yes!" The strange thing is that it didn't occur to either of us to mention the van, as it was so obvious. We just assumed that we had to bring the papers inside and do the formalities there. Well, that wasn't a good idea! In their book we failed to declare the van at the booth so therefore we were attempting to smuggle it in. (Yeah right!) Turns out that we had also failed to notify the American customs 48 hours in advance that we intended to export a vehicle, which complicated the matter even more.*sigh*

At least there was one positive side to all the waiting around... The first customs officer we talked to had told us that we couldn't take in most of our produce which would have been a major bummer! I had a big lump in my throat as I was bringing the durian and young coconuts over to the customs' freezer, knowing they would most likely end up in a garbage can. When doing research online I'd read that tropical fruits were allowed, so while I was waiting I thought of double checking with the customs officer in charge of our case. I learned that we could indeed bring all of our exotic yummies into the country! Yippee!

Anyhoo after a couple of hours of paperwork, running back and forth between the Canadian and US customs, we were finally able to enter into British Columbia. Phfew! Let's just say I would have gladly done without this ordeal.

Once on the Canadian side the landscape was virtually the same. Here's some photos I took along the way...

We drove for quite some time along the shores of Okanagan Lake.

At last we arrived at our friends' house in Kelowna; all in one piece! Interestingly this was only a few miles from where we originally began our trip last June.

One mostly happy traveling family! I say this must make Kylo and Puss some of the most traveled furries in the world! ;-)

Reflecting on Our Sunny Raw Kitchen Tour
It's hard to believe that we have really managed to accomplish all that we have! In the course of our Sunny Raw Kitchen Tour we've driven nearly 10,000 miles (not including the other 2700 miles across Canada first) and through 18 different states. It's been such a truly incredible journey; at times challenging but filled with so much beauty and magic!

It goes without saying that this trip would have never been possible without the kindness of those of my readers who welcomed us so generously into their homes. Each new house we went to meant finding our bearings in their kitchen, but after a while we got pretty good at it. ;-) I found myself surprisingly at ease in my different surroundings once the initial "now where is everything?" phase had passed.

Lisa & her family in New York, Kelli & John near Philly, Marty & Davis in Pennsylvania, Jessica & Ian in DC, Danielle in Silver Spring, Kevin & Holly in North Carolina, Stephanie in Melbourne, FL, Jaimee & Travis in Tallahassee, Linda & Dan in Houston, Linda & Roger in Arizona, Diane in Santa Barbara, Trisha & her family and Joni in Sunnyvale, CA, Jozzie & Wayneski in Medford, OR, the Asche family near Portland, the Fasnachts in Olympia, WA, Jennifer & her family in Seattle and finally the Engles... We'd like to thank you all again for everything! We feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to be part of your lives for a short time and will continue to carry you in our hearts!

We are often asked which area of the country we liked best. Hum, that's not an easy one to answer as we found that each place is unique and has its own charm and beauty. We really enjoyed southern Texas and particularly resonated with Fort Davis - a small community tucked away in the mountains and reminiscent of the 'old west'. Our day spent in Sedona was another major highlight for us. I shall never forget the overwhelming sense of reverence that I experienced walking among its majestic red canyons.

This trip was such a radically different phase compared to the several years that we spent secluded in central BC. We got to do and see more things than we had in decades! lol To list just a few... We had a close encounter with alligators in Texas, saw the sun set over the Sonora desert in Arizona, drove into LA, picked avocados right off a tree and flew over Washington state in a private airplane. We also feasted at a number of raw restaurants, including Matthey Kenney's Café 118° in Orlando, and were given the grand tour of Cafe Gratitude's Central Kitchen - a very special moment for me. ;-)

I've done it; I finally managed to wrap up my tales of our US adventures! *wiping the sweat off her brow* Hopefully it will mark the end of the era of looooooong epic posts! I would love to write short entries like a normal blogger! lol

Ahhhhhh, feels so good to be up to date! Well, almost...

Coming up next, the details of our recent celebratory feasts and some more of Nature's wonders we've been blessed with lately!

P.S. Please pardon the formatting booboos; Google just changed their editing interface and it's a real pain in the butt. ;-(