Saturday, August 15, 2009

Busy in the kitchen with Ani's Raw Food Dessets Book!

Oh boy was yesterday a busy day in the kitchen for me! I hadn't expected to make so many delicious treats! I have tons of pictures to share but unfortunately, not many recipes as most came from Ani Phyo's newest book, "Ani's Raw Food Desserts." And while I'm sure it's not exactly illegal to post recipes from the book, I DO want to support this book as much as possible. So I will share my pictures in hoping that it will inspire you to get off your lazy ass and go buy this AWESOME book! After making these recipes, it is safe to say that this is my favorite raw foods book so far! (Can you tell I love sweets?) It's easy enough to live off of fresh fruit and creative salads without the use of a recipe book, but when you get that sweet tooth craving, it's good to have some amazing, simple, and totally out-of-this-world-I-can't-believe-this-is-raw-it's-so-good recipes. At first glance, these recipes looked too simple to be good; I thought they would be bland or mediocre. But no, these are so scrumptious, reminding me that sometimes simpler is better!

(As a side note, a few months ago I purchased "Just Desserts" Ebook by Heathy Pace and "The Best of Raw Freedom Community" and "The Best of The Sunny Raw Kitchen" both by Carmella. While I have yet to make anything from these books quite yet, the recipes look INCREDIBLE and from what yummy-ness I have experienced on the Raw Community Forum and on both these ladies' blogs, these books MUST be amazing, and might just take the lead. I'll have to get off MY lazy ass some day and make something from them!)
Let's get started.

First off, I made Lemon Cookies. I'm not sure where I first discovered this recipe, but here's a link to where I think it


These were tart and sweet! It could have used a little less lemon juice, but I think that's because I have very tart lemons. My work sells a big bag of at least 6 NON organic lemons for just over $1 so I used one of those. I find that organic lemons have a sweeter flavor for the most part. I did, however, use an organic lemon for the lemon zest and some of the juice needed in the recipe.

NEXT I discovered what quickly became an all-time favorite...Carmella's Kelp Noodles in Peanut Sauce! WOW! I didn't expect this to turn out so AMAZINGLY delicious! I just couldn't imagine how those ingredients were going to taste enough like a peanut sauce but holy crap, they did! The almond butter, tahini, lime, and coconut butter made the perfect combination to create a tasty Thai Peanut sauce! I let the noodles marinate in the sauce in the dehydrator for 30 minutes and then sat down to a delectable meal of soft noodles in a creamy sauce. The next day, I ate my leftovers. The noodles and veggies were much softer from marinating over night, but I still wanted the semi-warm taste from the dehydrator, so again I popped it in for 30 min. Even BETTER the next day! You gotta try this recipe, especially if you are curious about kelp noodles!


NEXT, after bumming around on the RFC, I came across a recipe for Ani Phyo's "Black Sesame Sunflower Bread" and was reading about the positive responses, and decided I should make it. I had made it before a few years ago, but it was right before I got really sick, which turned me off to EVERYTHING I was eating at the time. I couldn't even remember if I liked this bread. So I figured it was time to try it again. And another winner! You can dehydrate it in as little as 5 hours, which will give you a moist, soft bread, or you can leave it in longer for longer storage. I did a little of both. I'm not a fan of totally dry raw breads, so mine are all still relatively pliable.

I made mine with regular sesame seeds, as I couldn't find black ones. Black seeds look a lot prettier, I think, but I'm sure it tastes just as good! Also, I cut most of the pieces even smaller than the recipe calls for, as sometimes my appetite isn't big enough for a whole piece. Here is a slice with avocado, tomato, and sprouts:


NEXT I made "Breakfast Toast" out of Ani's Raw Food Desserts. I'm eating a piece as we speak! I kept mine on the slightly softer side. I like it topped with almond butter and bananas and then popped into the dehydrator to warm it up.


NEXT I made Ani Phyo's "Key Lime Kream Bars", "Carob Walnut Cookies", "Ice Kream Sandwiches" (made with key lime bars and the cookies), "Liquid Chocolate", "Bonbons" (made with key lime bars and liquid chocolate), and "Chocolate-Covered Bananas" (made with liquid chocolate.)

The Key Lime Kream Bars were sweet and tart and extremely versatile. They could easily be made into a cheesecake, by pouring the recipe over your favorite crust in a spring form pan. I poured my mixture in a spring form pan, imagining that would be the easiest to work with. I really just wanted to make the Ice Kream Sandwiches. While the mixture was in the freezer, I made the Carob Walnut Cookies. I flattened out the mixture with my hands, and then used a circular shape to cut out the cookies. Since I don't have cookie cutters, I took apart this metal frosting applier thingy...what's that thing called that you use to make piping with frosting on cakes? Whatever it is, I used that. It just shows that sometimes you gotta be really creative! Anyhow, once the Key Lime Kream was frozen, I used the same circle to cut out pieces of that. Since the shape was so small (maybe only 1 1/2 inches wide) the height of the Kream looked a little tall between the cookies, so I cut east piece in half, which gave me two circles of Kream! Once all the cookie sandwiches were assembled, I had a lot of Kream left. I cut the rest into bars, save for the oddly shapes scraps that came from around my circle cut-outs.


What should I do with all these scraps, I wondered? Make Bonbons, of course! I quickly whipped up some Liquid Chocolate which is just coconut oil and cacao powder, with mesquite powder and agave nectar being optional additions. Since I didn't think I needed much, I made only half the recipe and used a mixture of raw carob and non-raw cocoa powder. Here's my adaptation:

Liquid Chocolate
Adapted from Ani Phyo's Raw Food Desserts

1/2 cup liquid coconut oil (measure, and then place in bowl in dehydrator until liquid)
1/8 cup raw carob (I put both "chocolates" half-and-half together in a 1/4 cup measure)
1/8 cup cocoa powder (or cacao, or all carob, or whatever you want!
1/2 tbsp agave nectar

Sift your carob/cocoa mixture into the liquid coconut oil (I DID NOT sift when I made this, and it was VERY chunky. Lesson: SIFT!) and add the agave. Wisk together. Now you can cover up anything from Kream bars to fruit and beyond!

Once my liquid chocolate was made, I took the Kream scraps, let them soften on the counter for a couple minutes, pressed them into a rounded tablespoon (would have worked best with a small ice cream scoop) and then put them on a plate to freeze. Once re-frozen, I tossed them in the liquid chocolate, and then put them in the freezer again. After minute or two, I followed that with another coat of liquid chocolate since it was looking a little thin (the warmer the chocolate, the thinner the layer will be.)

I figured while I was making Bonbons, I might as well make Chocolate-Covered Bananas as well! I cut three bananas into thirds, skewered them (cut the long skewers in half), froze them for a few hours, and then dipped them in the liquid chocolate. Well, my method was more of spooning the chocolate over the bananas to get them evenly coated. I topped them with goji berries, and popped them back in the freezer. The liquid chocolate hardens within seconds, and is perfectly ready for eating after a minute or two in the freezer, so you can have your dessert in a flash!


Like I said, I didn't sift my cocoa, so the chocolate looks a little chunky. But it tastes amazing!

Wow, this feels like a VERY long post. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's your internal weight?

Yep, I've been staying away from that scale and it feels good. I can tell I'm losing weight, and I feel amazing. Part of me wants to jump on that scale and see just how much weight I've lost and how much more I have to lose until I am at my perfect weight, but all this will do is: a.) boost my ego to an unnecessary degree or b.) crush my self esteem and attract self loathing. And both will encourage a weight obsession that is not healthy to my mind, body, or spirit. So what I'm working on, in the spirit of getting in touch with my "inner body" is asking myself, "What is my INTERNAL weight?" Not how much do my insides weigh, but how do I feel inside? Beyond my mind, beyond my does my higher self feel about my body? And my current answer is: cleansing. Yep, that is my internal weight. It may not be a number, but that doesn't make it any less valid. I can feel my body is detoxing and releasing fat. I'm not at my perfect weight quite yet (I'll know when I'm at my perfect weight because I'll feel light and strong and clean, and I'll feel like I have created a perfect vehicle for my spirit) but I'm definitely getting there. I like my body NOW, and that is what matters!

Also, I've been doing a lot more yoga at home lately. My minimum is usually about 10 minutes of sun salutes in the morning, but lately I've added a couple more poses and probably spend about 20 minutes every morning before I go to work. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it's invigorating, and all the time I can spend on it without waking up earlier than 5 am! The other day I spent the longest time EVER on yoga poses at home: almost 1.5 hrs! I just did the poses out of "Happy Yoga" by Steve Ross (which I am still reading) and had myself an amazing evening. I lit candles, played calming music, and stretched my body. "Happy Yoga" is such a winner for so many reasons. It really sparked my commitment to return to a high raw diet, as well as opening me up to further lessons about the spiritual aspect of yoga AND the physical poses! I just LOVE the powerful sun salute I learned from the book! It's much more refreshing and more of a work out than the one I had been used to before, but I usually can only do about 3 repetitions.

In other news, I have stocked up on many raw essentials to get me going again: tahini, coconut butter, braggs (instead of nama's much cheaper and I was curious to try it), raw almond butter, agave nectar, and lots of nuts and seeds. This week I've made Ani's Tahini Lemon Dressing, More Almond Frangipane Kream from Ani's Raw Food Desserts book, lots of salads, tried Dulse in my salad for the first time, tried Braggs liquid aminos for the first time (in the tahini dressing), tried some yummy store-bought raw crackers to use with the rest of my pesto from last week, and tried a raw soup today that I totally LOVED!

I've never really been a big fan of raw soups; I was turned off of them early on because I tried a couple recipes that really weren't appetizing. Since then I've liked a couple raw soups, mostly from Natalia Rose's books, but nothing too incredible. Nevertheless, something inside told me to give raw soups another chance. So I went to the RFC to see what recipes were out there that others could recommend. I was surprised by the answer: Cream of Zucchini Soup. It doesn't sound very good, but there was so much positive response about he recipe. And even more surprising was the fact that the recipe came from a book I have had for years, "Raw Food Made Easy or 1 or 2 People" by Jennifer Cornbleet! I have flipped through this book and made a few recipes, but always half-heartedly flipped over the soup section. This soup never caught my eye. But I was determined to try it. Needless to say, it is absolutely delicious! I had it lightly heated over the stove. I set the stove to medium, letting it warm while stirring constantly. I have a helpful gadget that I rarely ever use, but came in handy in this: a thermometer with an alarm that goes off when the food has reached a pre-set temp. It let me warm my soup without cooking it past 110 degrees! The soup tasted great right out of the blender, but after tasting it lightly warmed, I realized that that's the key to my enjoyment of raw soups! There's something about my taste buds that just get a little bored or wierded out about eating a cold, thick (or thin), savory liquid for too long. It makes me feel like I'm eating a dip. It might taste good, but dips are meant to be eaten lightly, not an entire bowl plain. But now I realize I just need to warm the soup, so it really reminds me of...SOUP! (I'm not sure if anyone else has this preference, so just ignore this if you are fine with cold soup)

Anyhow, this soup will become a daily staple in my kitchen from now on :)

Cream of Zucchini Soup from Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People by Jennifer Cornbleet

Serves 2 (but I ate the entire recipe in one sitting, so you might wanna make extras!)

½ cup water
1 zucchini, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon mellow white miso (I used 1/2 tsp Braggs)
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, chill, or warm lightly on the stove.


I ate the ENTIRE recipe served alongside a salad and raw crackers topped with (non-raw) hummus. Geez, I need to get some smaller bowls so I don't eat this whole recipe each time I make it!

And to conclude today's blog, I would like to share the things I am making this week: Black Sesame Sunflower Bread from "Ani's Raw Food Kitchen"...I made these once before a couple years ago, but it was right before I got a massive kidney infection (which turned me off to what I had been recently eating; this bread being one of them) so I can't remember what it tasted like. I'm sure I loved it. But I'm gonna try it again! Next, I will make Breakfast Toast, Key Lime Kream Bars, and Carob Walnut Cookies (and combining the lime bars with the cookies to form ice cream sandwiches) all from "Ani's Raw Food Desserts" (that Ani Phyo sure is a raw-foods-hero!), Lemon Cookies, and Carmella's Kelp Noodles in Peanut Sauce! I am very excited to make all of these recipes!

What a great life :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

More fun with Kelp Noodles, Yoga, Books, and Raw Desserts!

The journey to health can be arduous. You find passion in eating healthy for a while, and then one day you have a temper or don't feel too well and you just want to give in and eat comforting crap. This happens to me often, and it can take a lot sometimes to snap me out of it, and remind me of what I deep down know is best for me. Deep down I do KNOW (as we all KNOW truth if we listen to the 'self' that lies beyond our thoughts and body) what is best for me: which kinds and how much exercise I like and need, which foods are best for my body and health, how much I need to eat. But if you unknowingly fall out of your cloud of bliss, you can land on a roller coaster ride of confusion and less than healthy choices. I would love to find freedom from this roller coaster once and for all some day. What does accomplishing this take?

While I'm not exactly sure what the answer is, I do feel I am capable of getting there. The best key that I have found is of a spiritual nature. When my mind, body, and spirit are balanced and all equally nourished, I make better choices, I AM balanced. It is when my mind is at ease and quiet that I can feel the freedom. It is when I feel there is peace in my life. It is when I am doing yoga. It is when I am eating light and healthy. It is when I eat more raw foods. It is when I let go of the nagging questions and worries in my mind ABOUT health, wellness and diet. And one thing leads to another. I make a valiant effort to eat well one day. I feel great. I feel inspired to get a new book to encourage the healthy lifestyle I want. I get excited and eat well again the next day. I learn new yoga poses. I learn new spiritual insights through reading my new books. I feel even greater.

This has been my week. While I've had ups and downs, I've come out on top. For example, I had a cold for a couple days (either from detox symptoms from my improved diet, or from the chemical cleaner I smelled someone using at work, which burned my nose a bit) and I started feeling crabby. I wanted to complain and go home from work and have people feel sorry for me. But I made it through my work day (thanks to having a job that I love) and then the next. After a while, I got over that subtle feeling of subconsciously wanting to feel bad so I can feel sorry for myself and have others do the same. I remained grateful for my body's amazing ability to detox and heal itself, and for the fact that besides being congested and foggy and tired, I felt great! And at some point through my third day, after doing some new yoga poses, I felt my energy return. I was happy, positive, and balanced.

And today I feel absolutely awesome in every way. I love the food I'm eating. I love moderation. I love exercising and stretching. This is a feeling that I want to last. Part of me is afraid it will slip away like a dream if I have one hectic day. But the best thing to do, I think, is not to grasp or want. Just be. Falling down will just help me grow in the process of getting back up again, so there's no need to be afraid or obsessing.

Speaking of obsessing, I haven't weighed myself in quite some time. Actually, I take that back; I stepped on the scale a couple weeks ago to some grave disappointment, and quickly decided I was right to refrain and returned to my not-weighing-myself. And now, as I FEEL thin and light, and imagine I have lost some weight, the urge to weigh has returned. I thought about weighing myself again once I'm certain I've reclaimed my perfect weight. But then I thought, what will this do? If I find that I have in fact reached my perfect weight, it will fulfill my ego, and in turn create obsession over every single fluctuation on the scare thereafter. And if I find that I didn't reach my perfect weight, I would feel horribly negative and depressed and even more obsessed with weight. The idea I'm playing with is throwing my scale away (if my boyfriend doesn't mind) forever, and using my 'internal scale' instead. While it's good to make sure you are at a healthy weight, it is NOT good to obsess over every single pound gained or lost if you ARE at a healthy weight! I'm understanding that the answers are within. I know by the way I feel if I am at my perfect weight. And that's where I need to focus.

Moving on, I would like to share my discoveries of the week that got me to where I am today.

First is my book shopping trip. I went to borders and bought two books, 'Ani's Raw Food Desserts' by Ani Phyo and 'Happy Yoga' by Steve Ross. Firstly, I'll talk about 'Happy Yoga'. This book caught my eye kind of by accident. I had already picked up 'Ani's Raw Food Desserts' and was on my way to the check stand when I glanced at the Yoga section, just for fun, when this book caught my eye. The author shares the name with someone I know, so I laughed, imagining him writing a yoga book, and then decided to flip through it to see what it was all about. First off, I loved the cover. The overall vibe of the book had me smiling. Then I saw the section about diet, and was happy to see that he recommended a raw vegan diet. I flipped through some more and read the synopsis and was flowing with gratitude when I realized I had found a book I needed. I'm still reading it, and every page is worth being savored. It's about 90% the spiritual philosophy behind yoga, and 10% physical yoga. I love this book. I love his story, his advice, and his humor. I was immediately drawn in from the first chapter, reading about how he had been a rock musician, and had to balance his personal lifestyle with the fast paced 'rock star' lifestyle, which I can relate to as a musician myself. This entire book is a great and inspiring read, and is responsible for enhancing my current joy of life right now!

Now onto 'Ani's Raw Food Desserts.' Having made only two of the recipes so far, I don't have much to say about it, but I have been dying to get this book for a long time. Flipping through this little book, I can tell the recipes are easy and low maintenance. I can see many recipes that fit into my budget, schedule, and desire for simplicity. I can't wait to make more recipes from this book! About the recipes I HAVE made: yesterday I made the Almond Frangipane Kream. It's a light, simple, creamy topping or pudding. At first, as I was blending my ingredients, I thought I needed to add more almonds, as the mixture looked runny. But I held out, wondering if maybe it just needed to be blended longer than instructed (instructions say 30 seconds.) I was glad I waited and kept on blending because the result after a minute or two, was a smooth, thick cream. Silly non-VitaMix! It just needed to be blended longer! The second recipe I made was Sliced Apples with Rosemary. I was a little uncertain about this one, thinking Ew, Rosemary and...Apples? But I tried it anyhow, as it was one of the only other desserts that I actually had all the ingredients for (apples, lemon juice, and rosemary!) and I'm so glad I did. It was such a surprising yet delicious combination of tastes; sweet, sour, tangy, aromatic! YUM!


On the topic of food, let me share what I've been eating this week: In the morning I've been drinking a variation of the Master Cleanse lemon water; juice of one lemon, 1/8 tsp cayenne, and honey or agave nectar with either cold or warm water. I follow this with ginger tea sipped throughout the morning when I'm at work (my work is COLD!). For lunch (around 11am if I'm working) I eat two pieces of fruit. Most of the week I had a peach and a banana. Today I had a plum and the Sliced Apples with Rosemary. Earlier in the week I had salad for dinner followed by pasta, mostly vegan mac n cheese. While I knew this wasn't the cleanest dish, I decided to eat up the vegan cheese I had bought on a whim (in one of my agitated-need-comfort-food-moods) and then move on. A couple days I had salad followed by kelp noodles in Ani Phyo's Raw Marinara. Last night I had a euphoric day of eating: Salad (need I say I eat salad with dinner a lot?) followed by kelp noodles with Pesto from 'Raw Food Made Easy' by Jennifer Cornbleet. So Yummy!...


And now, for dessert: This was basically a variation of Berries and Peaches with Almond Frangipane Kream from 'Ani's Raw Food Desserts'. But I made it into....

Peach and Blueberry Crumble
(topped with Almond Frangipane Kream)

Fruit Filling (single serving):
1 peach, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup blueberries
drizzle of agave nectar

Toss the peaches and blueberries in the agave and set aside

Crumble Topping (multiple servings):
1 cup Pecans* (see note below)
4 dates
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch sea salt

Process in food processor until light and crumbly. Sprinkle a few Tbsp of the crumble on top of the fruit (or press into the bottom of a bowl or pie tin to make it into a crust). Refrigerate leftovers. Top with a few dollops of Almond Frangipane Kream, if desired (get the book!)

(*Note: I didn't actually measure out my pecans, so feel free to add more until you get a good texture.)


I will be eating this all again tonight! It was so good!
And that's all for now!