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!

Friday, March 2, 2012

In Diane's Sunny Kitchen - Part II

This post is so ridiculously overdue! I meant to put it out while still in Santa Barbara, but with all the gorgeous sunshine happening I somehow always seemed to find something more appealing to do than sit in front of the computer. I'm sure you'll understand. ;-)

After spending a good chunk of the winter in SoCal I'm now back in the Great White North. It's actually not that bad, really, but nevertheless a major adjustment. It's quite a shocker to go from spending several hours out of doors every (mostly sunny) day to being confined to four walls, except for our daily walk. I'm slowly getting used to my new routine of piling on the layers of clothes and knitting or reading cozy by the wood stove.

As you can see, I'm not the only one who likes to hang out where it's warm. Are you sure you can't she get any closer, Puss? lol

We'd never been separated for such a long stretch of time before and I was very much looking forward to being reunited with my family. (I was about to say with Don and the furries but with Kyky being gone, I guess this familiar phrase is now a thing of the past.) ;-(

It's been so wonderful to be with Donnie again - oh how much more I appreciate the truly special human being that he is! And of course I could hardly wait to see my dear little Miss DaPuss; closely connected as we are I missed her more than I ever imagined. After my long 12 hour journey and flying on 3 different airplanes as soon as I walked through the door I crashed on the bed. Pu came running over and the two of us spent several minutes snuggling. It was such a sweet moment! She was purring away and even drooling - as she sometimes does when she's especially excited.

Don has taken very good care of her while I was gone, perhaps a little too much, in fact, as she's put back on the weight she'd lost since her change of diet last summer and then some! I'm trying to remedy that now that I've returned to my duties of being her primary caretaker.

Over the last three months Pu and Don have deeply bonded. She loves hanging on his lap and sleeping cuddled against him. I felt somewhat left out at first but she's gradually warming up to me again.

Predictably, with Kylo passing only a few days before my return, his absence is being heavily felt, particularly on our walks. I can appreciate however the perfection surrounding his departure; as painful as it was for us, we don't think it could have happened any smoother. Thanks to a strange set of circumstances his burial was delayed until after my arrival, and for that I am grateful. It feels so right that he is now resting next to his sweet heart Angel, on the land that he so loved. We are highly aware of how much more difficult this whole process would have been if we'd been on the road.

I had a huge amount of stuff in my luggage, just barely meeting the accepted allowance. Mostly specialty products I bought at the Raw Food World's warehouse in Ojai and lots of yarn, as I recently picked up my knitting needles again after 5 long years. (Yay!) I also had several special treats that I wanted to share with Donnie: passion fruits and cherimoyas I found at Santa Barbara's stellar Farmer's Market. Thankfully these gems made it safely through the trip and the border crossing. Yippee!

Enjoying cherimoyas (also known as custard apples): a delightful fruit grown around Santa Barbara.

So now let's get back to the topic of Diane's kitchen, shall we?

Let's Talk About Food
I've already shared some of the raw yummies that we've whipped up in Diane's kitchen in this post. As I mentioned to you then, we got into the routine of her preparing the morning fresh juice while I concocted the smoothie. I don't consider beverages my forte, but it wasn't hard to be creative with the abundance of fruits that we were blessed with.

Persimmon Gogi Goodness
1 orange
1 Hachiya persimmon (the acorn shaped type)
1 frozen banana
2 tbs cashews
1 tbs lucuma
1 tbs gogi berries
1 cup water (or until desired consistency is reached)
1/2 cup ice

Blend all ingredients in a high power blender until smooth.

During one of my by-weekly visits to the local market I spotted strange dark wrinkly spheres at a stand. I learned that they were passion fruits. I vaguely remembered seeing it listed on the ingredients of a favorite childhood tropical juice blend but had never tried it on its own. Passion fruit is absolutely heavenly; it has the most exotic aroma and flavor ever and I fell completely in love with it! Soooooooo good! Inside the hard shell is hidden a juicy yellowish content with small black seeds. These seeds make it difficult to eat the fruit directly, but it is lovely in juices and smoothies. The flavor is also quite intense so a little goes a long way.

Since I learned that passion fruit season can be sporadic - you could never tell if the farmer would pick any that given week - I learned to stock up on those babies whenever I saw them. I scooped out the precious content of 3 or 4 passion fruits, depending on their size, and froze it in silicon cups for future use.

Here's a delicious blend that I came up with that instantly became a staple. I find that it perfectly highlights the wonderful tropical flavor of passion fruit. I could drink gallons of the stuff!

Passion Fruit Delight

2 servings

Flesh of 3-4 passion fruits
2 oranges, peeled and seeded
1 cup mango, fresh or frozen
1 banana
2 tsps lemon or lime juice
2 cups water

Blend all ingredients in a high power blender until smooth.

This next one is slightly more complex, with the addition of coconut and pineapple.

Tropical Bliss

2-3 servings

1/2 cup young coconut flesh
1 cup young coconut water
1 cup filtered water
Flesh of 3-4 passion fruits 
2 cups pineapple
1 cup mango
2 oranges, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup ice

Blend all ingredients in a high power blender until smooth.

For dinner, along with our customary raw soup, for the most part we stuck to simple entrees, such as Tostadas or Spring Rolls, or a ginormous One-Meal Miso Soup. Some other dishes we enjoyed include...

On one evening's menu: Cheezy Spinach Almond Soup, Hemp Veggie Burgers on crackers, home made Sauerkraut, and salad with my House Dressing.

We went all out on a couple of occasions and assembled something more fancy. When I learned that Diane had never tried Alissa's Calzone and my Lasagna Magnifica how could I stand to not initiate her to these wonderful raw delights? Both dishes are quite labor intensive but soooooo worth the effort! I like to prepare the various components over two days so that it's not so intimidating.

First, let's tackle the Calzone. I've already shared the recipe some time ago in this post. I thought it might also be helpful to break down the steps in photos.

Instead of making one huge Calzone I like to make 2 smaller ones for easier handling. Plus, I find that it makes it easier to cut up and store. Calzone freezes beautifully so you don't have to worry about eating it all within a few days.

After partially dehydrating the crusts shaped into half moons, I spray the edges with water in order to make it easier to seal the Calzone.

The Mozzarella Cheese layer goes on first.

Then the Pesto...

... followed by the Marinated Veggies.

Time to close it up and carefully pinch the edges together. Don't worry if some of the filling starts oozing out; just wipe it off. If you see the crust breaking or splitting, you can repair it using your fingers and a little water.

Tuck these babies cozily into the dehydrator overnight.

I'm always amazed at how cooked the finished result looks!

We enjoyed some Calzone warm out of the D, topped with a fresh Tomato & Herbs Sauce.

Fresh Tomato & Herbs Sauce

2 cups tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
1 tbs olive oil
3 tbs fresh oregano
2 tbs fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt

Process all ingredients in a food processor until chunky.

Our other major project was the Lasagna Magnifica featured in my Delightfully Raw book. Once again, it seems complicated but it's just a matter of preparing all your various elements ahead of time and assembling them together.

The first step consists of placing a layer of thin slices of zucchini at the bottom of a glass rectangular dish. I find that slightly overlapping them helps the Lasagna hold its shape better.

Then I spread half of the Walnut Not Meat...

...followed by Cheesy Nut Cream.

Another Zucchini layer.

Time for some Basil Pesto,

and Tomato Sauce.

More zucchini slices.

Next comes another layer of Not Meat and Cheese Cream which are again topped with Zucchini Noodles.

A final layer of Pesto followed by Marinated Spinach.

Nearly there... One last layer of zucchini slices which is then covered with more Tomato Sauce.

I tip the dish gently in order to spoon out the excess liquid.

 I pop the whole thing in the D for a couple of hours and voila!

Absolutely decadent!

Phfew! I'll pause here for the time being and be back soon - I promise ;-) - with more of our kitchen adventures.

For now I thought I'd leave you with a photo of a vegetable we found at the Farmer's Market. It was probably one of the most beautiful veggie that we'd ever seen! It felt such a shame to destroy Nature's delicate fractal artistry by eating it!

 Can you guess what it is?


  1. Oh I know! It is a romanesco cabbage! So gorgeous! I will try your passion fruit smoothies recipes today, as we are in Costa Rica for the winter and enjoying many different types of passion fruits, as well as amazingly sweet papayas, pineapples, mangoes and a great variety of bananas. I love those calzone and I really have to give your lasagna a try! Glad you are back to blogging! I love to read your adventures... and recipes!

  2. This question may have been answered previously, but I wonder how you are able to take so much fruit across the border? A crossing guard confiscated an orange that I forgot I had.

    Thanks so much for sharing, so generous of you.

  3. Romanesco. Tastes like a mix of broccoli and califlower. And it looks so beautiful!

  4. Dear Carmella!

    The vegetable I can see a picture of in your post, is a romanesco. I normally use them as cauliflowers, but they are much more decadent and crispy than these.Yummi.

    Good too see you home. I enjoy every post, even if it is late. We all have different things to do, so it is important to just relax in the moment, and don't let time get to you.

    Thanks again and have a beautiful day!


  5. Roman cauliflower! It is so beautiful! Thank you for your beautiful post, again...


  6. Everything looks SO yummy! I am going to be trying these soon!
    Thank you!

  7. The lasagna looks delicious! It's on my list of new dishes to try, I can't wait! I'm dying to know what that strange produce is in the last picture. I've never seen anything like it.

  8. Thanks for dropping by Elyssa!

    To me this one one of the best lasagnas I've ever tasted! ;-) I strongly recommend giving it a try sometimes.

    Ooops, I completely forgot to reveal the name of the mystery veggie! It's a variety of cauliflower known as Romanesco. Its flavor is a little more delicate than regular cauli and its beauty makes it such a special treat to eat.

  9. Sorry guys for not responding sooner but I didn't see your comments until a couple of days ago. Somehow I was only notified of Elyssa's. *scratching her head* ;-(

    First of all, thanks to everyone who shed light on this beautiful and enigmatic veggie! I certainly hope I'll be able to enjoy it again someday.

    We're just careful to look online first to check what fresh produce is allowed in. I think that the general rule of thumb is that if a fruit/veggie is grown in the country that you're visiting then you're not allowed to bring it in to avoid contamination. This means, for instance, that we can hardly bring anything into the US but when coming back to Canada we can bring, say, tropical fruits.