30 Apr 2013

salad, salad, salad: the main meal

Like the title says, salad should be the main meal on the dinner table! It is so important to get tons of greens in your diet, as well as veggies. Both are super low calorie, high fiber and packed with the best quality nutrition on the planet. What more do you need? Well... okay, you need raw brownies too. Note: If you don't like tofu plain and raw, then go ahead and marinate, bake, or prepare it however you like.

Mega dinner salad: serves one to four people

1 tablespoon each of mustard, tahini, miso, raisins
3 tablespoon sun dried tomatoes 
Water, as needed

3 heads of lettuce, washed and ripped into pieces
1/4 cup baby tomatoes, halved
5 olives, halved
1/4 package of tofu, cubed
3 mushrooms, sliced and marinated in tamari
1/2 avocado, chopped

Blend all the ingredients for the dressing until smooth, using as much water as needed. 
Toss the lettuce with dressing until evenly coated then top with the rest of the salad ingredients. Enjoy!

24 Apr 2013

fruit + coconut ice cream cake with brownie crust

I am really loving coconut milk and frozen fruit as combination ingredients lately. If you're getting tired of it - I am sorry. But no need to fret, because summer is quickly approaching and she promises a fresh, local, always-changing variety of new produce each week at the farmers market. I am excited to be inspired every Saturday by the organic options available to make new raw food creations for myself, my family, friends, and you, of course! But for now - I must stick with frozen fruit, and coconut milk is an excellent pairing.

Thus, an ice cream dome cake appears. 

This recipe is very similar to my last one (fruit popsicles with coconut milk) but I added bananas to the ice cream part because... well, bananas. I ended up having extra room on the bottom of the cake so I improvised and added a brownie crust. It was a good idea. FACT: brownies are always a good idea. I also discovered that if you ever have extra raw brownie mix and you mix it with banana slices, your world will be turned upside down and angels will sing. 

True story. 

As with all my ice cream cake recipes - be patient and let your cake slices thaw before eating, it is so much better. Not only will you skip the potential numerous brain freezes, but the cake will also become creamier and you'll be able to taste the flavours more. Just for your information, this will be my last recipe for a little while because I have my final exams coming up, and I also have a bit of a project I am working on which I may or may not eventually tell you about. Much love. 

Stay cool and fruity. 

fruit + coconut ice cream cake with brownie crust:

Ice cream:
400 ml fresh raw coconut milk (or 1 can of store-bought) 
1/4 cup raw cane sugar (or preferred sweetener, to taste)
1 banana

Brownie crust:
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup raw oats (or buckwheat groats for a gluten-free version)
2/3 cup dates
2 tablespoons cacao powder

Whatever fresh or frozen you have or like, about 2 cups

Prepare the cake vessel: find a bowl that can hold about 6 cups, or use a small dome cake pan and line it with plastic wrap, tin foil or whatever. I used a dome shaped colander and plastic wrap, it worked fine. Alternatively  you can just make this using a normal cake pan. Line the sides of the pan or bowl with your chosen fruit. 

To make the ice cream: blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into your pan or bowl and put in the freezer until solid, about 3 or 4 hours. 

To make the brownie crust: put the walnuts, oats and cacao in your food processor and pulse until they become a flour. Add the dates and process until it starts to stick together. Press onto the "top" of your ice cream cake (it will become the bottom when you flip it later). Put in the fridge for about an hour to let everything set. Then carefully flip your cake onto a plate and take off your lining - voila! Decorate as you wish, slice, and let thaw before eating. 

22 Apr 2013

fruit popsicles with coconut milk

Simplicity is vital for happiness, and deliciousness. That is why this delicious recipe is going to make you so happy. They are almost too easy to make and almost too good to eat. Of course, I made and ate them anyway. You should too. 

The ice cream is just coconut milk and raw cane sugar. You can use whatever sweetener you like; I am sure date paste, raw agave, maple syrup or bananas would all work. You can use the canned coconut milk found in stores or make your own, using this recipe I found. I was really excited to learn that you can make your own raw coconut milk at home (although when you actually think about it - it shouldn't be a surprise). I will be doing this next time. I am probably going to drink the entire concoction right away, self-restraint thrown out with the coconut husk shavings...

I just cannot resist coconut. 

I poured the sweet coconut milk into popsicle molds filled with frozen fruit and thyme (I have since learned that it was not thyme I picked, nor rosemary, but lavender. You can use whatever herb you like.) The combination is an explosion of wholesome goodness in your mouth, and I mean that in the best way imaginable. I'm learning that my favourite herbs like basil, rosemary and thyme, pair wonderfully with my other favourite foods like berries, citrus, and other fruit. I suppose I shouldn't be shocked; these raw plants are all best friends in nature so it makes sense that they taste magical together.

Today was a perfect day for photographing (and gobbling down) these popiscles. The sun is still shining and soon I plan to march into the garden and start planting for the summer! On the agenda: tomatoes, basil, kale, spinach, lettuce, beans, potatoes, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, cucumber, bell peppers, eggplant, and more. Elsewhere in the yard we have goji berries, figs, strawberries and blueberries all tentatively growing. There is nothing like a salad fresh picked by you from your own soil. You realize that food is not just something we put in our mouths - we are meant to have a relationship with it. You and your plants grow together and then become one when the time is right. 

Hurrah for symbiosis.

fruit popsicles with coconut milk: makes twelve

Ice cream:
400 ml fresh raw coconut milk (or 1 can of store-bought) 
1/4 cup raw cane sugar (or preferred sweetener, to taste)

Other ingredients (use however much you need):
Frozen fruit
Finely chopped thyme, rosemary, basil or other fave herb (optional) 

To prepare the popsicles: fill popsicle molds with small pieces of fruit and chopped herbs (don't forget the popsicle sticks!) leaving room for the ice cream to fill in. 

To make the ice cream: blend the coconut milk and sweetener until smooth. Then carefully and slowly pour into your popsicle molds until they are full. Set in the freezer overnight or until frozen solid - then take them out and lick them clean in the warm sunshine. 

20 Apr 2013

hemp recipe roundup for april 20th + a rant

In celebration of April 20th (a.k.a. 420) - the day once a year groups of people around the world come together to enjoy the natural delights of cannabis in all it's forms, legal or otherwise - I have decided to do a hemp recipe roundup, so throughout the post there are linked photos - click them for the recipes! I also have a bit of a rant about supporting the legalization of marijuana. I am NOT saying everyone should smoke weed, but I do believe we should have the RIGHT to, if we want. It is part of our duty as promoters of plants (and discouragers of government dishonesty and manipulative corporate profiting) to promote this wonderful green plant! Read on.

I don't want to lose my beloved readers over this controversial topic, but I also need to be honest. I really feel that supporting the cannabis plant - including marijuana - is an important part of my job as an individual who promotes an eco-friendly, cruelty-free and healthful, wholesome lifestyle and at the same time REFUSES to live a life reliant on major corporations, drug companies, agribusiness, chemicals and toxins.

Essentially - part of my being vegan is a devotion to HOLISTIC living. Supporting and encouraging the legalization of beneficial medicinal herbs that have been used for thousands of years by intelligent civilizations is directed connected to my chosen holistic lifestyle.

When you look at the controversy around marijuana - it is almost identical to the controversy around meat, dairy and other animal products. Let's take a look:

Initially, when the scientific data was not able to be conclusive, animal products were thought to be healthy and so the government promoted eating them. Companies and farmers selling animal products grew to giant corporations and now we fast forward several decades to today: the science IS conclusive and it tells us animals products are disastrous for our bodies, the planet and of course with factory farming - we see the brutal torture and murder of innocent creatures reach the billions each year. Yet because of long-held and deep-rooted traditions, beliefs and convictions, many still are clinging to what they learned when they were growing up - that meat and milk makes you strong! They may never learn of the dishonest reality behind these foods because the government and major animal product corporations are purposely hiding it from them, under packs of lies, crimes and distractions. Why? As always, because of profits. They are not evil people, just business people. There is too much for the government and these corporations to lose now. For more on this, read the China Study, Eating Animals, and Mad Cowboy, and watch Food Matters and Food Inc.

If animals products are good for us - why are the top two killers in America cancer and heart disease? Why will every one in three children be diagnosed with diabetes? Why does the factory farming industry produce more pollution that all transportation combined? Because it's a lie - processed, factory farmed animal products AREN'T good for us.

Now let's compare this to marijuana, shall we? Initially, when marijuana entered American culture (largely by Mexican workers) the scientific data was not able to be conclusive so marijuana was perceived as a toxic drug. It is sad it became categorized as drug rather than a plant since it is firstly a plant, and the word drug negatively groups it in with cocaine, etc. The government thought it would have a negative effect on the country and so it basically used scare tactics to discourage the use of marijuana with no concrete evidence behind the claims they made.Fast forward a few decades to today: the science AND history is conclusive and it tells us that marijuana has been enjoyed for generations upon generations without a problem - in fact it can be beneficial to many. It takes away pain, produces a relaxing mood, brings about a euphoric feeling, all while treating a large number of serious diseases. Yet because of long-held and deep-rooted traditions, beliefs and convictions, many still are clinging to what they learned when they were growing up - that marijuana is a scary, evil substance that can ruin your life! They may never learn of the actual positive reality behind of plant because the government and many major corporations are purposely hiding it from them, under packs of lies, crimes and distractions. Why? As always, because of profits. There is too much for the government and these corporations to lose now. For more on this, read The Benefits of Marijuana, and watch Grass: The History of Marijuana, The Union, In Pot We Trust, and Run From The Cure: The Rick Simpson Story.

If marijuana is bad for us - then why has it never caused a single death while alcohol, cigarettes, processed food and prescription drugs combined kill millions every year LEGALLY? Why has marijuana been enjoyed for centuries by ancient cultures who praised it's medicinal and spiritual benefits? Why is it succesfully used a treatment for glaucoma, depression, cancer, anorexia, AIDs wasting, nausea and multiple sclerosis? Because it's a lie - cannabis does NOT have to be bad for us.

The stories are the same. Profits keeping the truth from the confused public so government and corporations can continue making money, at the expense of the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Let's stop listening to the lies and start thinking for ourselves. As people who are choosing this alternative, plant-based lifestyle - we need to promote the love and respect of plants! At the same time, we need to explain the ugly truth behind processed animal foods, factory farming, pharmaceutical drug companies, and this reductionist way of living that so many have grown accustomed to. It is time to find our roots in holistic methods and mindsets. A part of that duty is understanding the beauty of the plant marijuana, and letting go of it's stigma.

17 Apr 2013

just the bare fruit tarts

Get it? Just the bare fruit... just the bare truth... Haha? These are all fruit, all the time. the crust is nut-free, made from only dried dates, raisins and figs. The filling is banana cream and obviously the topping is simply sliced strawberries and kiwi. I added chia to the banana cream because chia is a rock star (or should I say... RAW star? Eh? Eh!? Alright fine, I won't). 

So if you are allergic to nuts or just don't like their fat content, this is the recipe for you! Plus it's super easy and since it includes fruit, it's also tons of colourful fun. I recommend getting organic strawberries - they are way tastier, and much better for the planet (and your own body). A documentary I watched recently reminded me of the importance of buying organic produce. It's called Queen of the Sun, and it discusses how honey bee populations are shrinking drastically largely due to the lack of organic plants they can use. Give it a watch! It's excellent and intriguing. 

Anyways. Fruit tarts. 

These are absolutely bursting with colour, flavour and life. I ate two of them all by myself while photographing  I've got a tough life, what can I say? Go ahead and use whatever fresh fruits you have, and top off with little goodies like cacao, goji berries, or coconut flakes. They are best enjoyed in the sunshine, with your friends family, and animal buddies.

Better yet - grow your OWN strawberries! I am hoping we get a better crop from our bushes this year, last summer we got a bunch of new strawberry bushes, so they take a while to get used to growing fruit. I am also looking forward to my goji berries to coming back! They are such a treat. Basically - fruit is the best thing ever, and I get to be surrounded by it when summer comes, thus I am extremely excited for summer. I am also extremely excited about all the GIFs I have been making.

berry fruit tarts with chia seeds: makes 3 tarts

1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried figs

1-2 bananas
2 tablespoon chia seeds (optional) 

3/4 cup chopped strawberries
3/4 cup chopped kiwi
Whatever else you want

To make the crust: put all the ingredients in your food processor and pulse until everything is in small pieces that stick together - don't process to much or it will get too sticky. Press into three lined tart tins. Put in the fridge. 

To make the filling: mush the banana with fork and then add the chia seeds. 

Assembly: take the crusts gently out of the tins. Spread the banana chia mix into the crusts and then top off with the fruit. Gobble. 

15 Apr 2013

basil + peanut butter cookies with coconut + chili ice cream

This recipe and post is a big thanks to you. Thanks for what? Voting me FIRST PLACE in The Vegan Woman's 2013 Vegan Food Blog Guide. I had no idea I was even a contender so I was absolutely shocked, honoured and flattered when I saw my placement. I love you all so much, not only for supporting me, encouraging me, and constantly sending me your love from around the globe - but also because you are such beautiful, caring, positive people. You make the world a better place, and I am forever grateful to share this green planet with you.

The reason I continue creating, photographing and sharing the recipes I do, is because you are here to see them! You are my inspiration and every day I work hard to think of recipes that will help make you happier, and make your lives a bit sweeter (literally and naturally). I cannot believe I am where I am today - being acknowledged as the #1 vegan food blog of 2013, having emails and and wonderful comments flooding my inbox, blog and Facebook page daily, and seriously thinking of making this my professional job - but I am so thankful I am. Without you, I wouldn't be here. So thank you... thank you.

I give all my love to you.

Now that the mushy love stuff is over (boo), I will give you the food porn (yay)! I was actually inspired by photos and flavours in this recipe from Desserts for Breakfast (notice the gorgeous photography all over the website) but I didn't have any fresh rosemary. I did, however, have fresh Thai basil! So I thought "Hey, basil and peanut butter would taste great together, right?" Yes. Then my mom gave me the idea to make the whole thing Thai-themed by adding chili to the coconut ice cream. HECK YA. Now we're cooking (or rather, un-cooking).

I know the flavours are little funky slash exotic but TRUST ME - the result is amazeballs. The ice cream is made from coconut milk (not technically raw) and raw cane sugar, but if you want to use banana ice cream or my other raw ice cream recipe - go right ahead. Just make sure to add some chili powder! In the cookies, the peanut butter flavour comes through right away and then you are hit with the flavour of basil - it works.

It works deliciously.

basil peanut butter cookies with coconut chili ice cream: serves five lucky people

3/4 cup buckwheat groats (or oats)
1 cup dates
1 cup fresh basil leaves
4 tablespoons peanut butter (or your preferred nut butter)

Ice cream:
1 can full fat organic coconut milk
1/4 cup raw cane sugar (or your preferred sweetener) 
1-2 teaspoons chili powder, to taste!

To make the cookies: pulse the buckwheat groats in your food processor until they become a rough flour. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until you can press the mixture in your hand and it sticks together. Press into 10 cookies and dehydrate for a few hours if desired. Or put them in the fridge.

To make the ice cream: blend all ingredients until smooth. It will taste SO GOOD. If you have an ice cream maker, use it. If not, Put the ice cream mixture in a container and put it in the freezer, stirring it every 30 minutes until it's all solid.

Assembly: you know what to do. Cookie. Ice cream scoop. Cookie. Bite. Smile.

14 Apr 2013

potato salad with cilantro, dill, tomatoes + raw mayo

Mmm... I love potatoes. They are easy to grow, hearty and delicious to eat, and super versatile in the kitchen. You can do SO MANY different things with good ole taters. Today, I keep it simple with a whole food potato salad, complete with fresh herbs, tomatoes and a raw mayonnaise dressing; it's a bit different from my usual raw dessert recipes but hey - variety is the spice of life.

This recipe is great for a summer dinner, or really any occasion. My unexpected inspiration was found on this page, where a there's a list of the top chef restaurants in Vegas. One of them was Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. WELL. I went ahead and veganized one of his recipes. The result was mega delish. If you have time to get some chives and red onion, I'd recommend adding them. Enjoy! 

high raw potato salad: serves three or four

1 pound new potatoes 
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup cherry tomatoes, each cut in half

Raw vegan mayo:
1/2 cup cashews
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves
Juice from 2 lemons
Water, as needed

Prepare the salad: put the potatoes in a pot with water to boil. Once the water is boiling, turn down the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Cut each in half and throw in a bowl with the other salad ingredients. Set aside.

Make the mayo: blend all the ingredients until smooth, adding water or other liquid as needed and adjusting to your taste. Toss the mayo with the salad until evenly coated and sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. 

13 Apr 2013

guest post: wholesome vs. processed foods by valerie johnston

wholesome versus processed foods

People today are extremely concerned with making sure they are always doing everything they can to keep their bodies healthy and clear of any unnecessary toxins or byproducts. This is especially true when it comes to eating well. If you are one of these individuals and you want to make sure you are eating the best foods for your body, you should know the difference between foods that have been processed and foods that are organic, as well as the benefits and downfalls of each.

dangers of chemicals

You can usually tell when a food item has been highly processed. If an item comes in a can, chances are it is not natural. If it does not say “organic” it has likely been through several treatment processes before hitting the shelves in the store. If you are very careful about what you buy, it can be pretty easy to avoid these foods. However, if you are not observant you may be buying all kinds of processed foods without even recognizing it. The dangers of these foods are something that a lot of people are absolutely unaware of.

Processed foods normally undergo a long system of treatments in a factory. These processes often entail a lot of different chemicals and even some toxic ingredients that are sprayed onto the foods. This really applies to vegetables specifically. Sometimes, these vegetables are sprayed with certain chemicals while they are still in the fields and then again when they are harvested and shipped off to the store. These chemicals have been linked to all sorts of things, including types of cancer, infections, and even other diseases or sicknesses. If you are not careful to look at the ingredients and whether the foods you are buying have been processed, you could be putting yourself and your family in a lot of danger.

benefits of organic foods

Organic {whole} foods, on the other hand, do not pose any danger to your health. In fact, these kinds of foods are often much better for you than anything else you could eat. They do not contain unnatural chemicals and have most of the time not been handled extensively. There is usually no middleman or any kind of process that could compromise the healthiness of these foods. They are simply good and good for you.

One main reason you might be afraid to try to go organic is that it sounds like it could be very expensive. Many people are under the misconception that all-natural foods have to cost a lot of money or are ridiculously unaffordable. This is actually not true. While there are some things that may average a little higher on the price range than processed foods, organic options can be found all over the place for some pretty reasonable prices. If you know where to look, you can find all the same foods you love in their organic versions, and for a similar price to the processed versions.

Eating healthy and staying well is definitely possible, but you need the right tools to succeed. You have to know what kinds of food to buy and why you should buy them. Organic options are always the best way to go when you have the chance. If you are not sure how to get started on buying wholesome options, do some research and find the nearest health foods store. You won’t regret it.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

12 Apr 2013

lemon bars with coconut

A reader recommended I try making raw lemon bars, so here you are! They are nut free, and can be gluten free if you use buckwheat groats instead of oats. I paired them with coconut because the two go so well together and also, I was able to use finely ground dried coconut to sprinkle on the bars, instead of powdered white sugar like in the conventional recipe! Hurray for natural sweeteners. 

I think they turned out pretty well, but I will be making these again soon so I can improve. One thing I would change is using the whole lemon - it made it too bitter. So I suggest you just use just the juice from 3 lemons. I have already corrected this in the recipe so don't worry your pretty little head. Or your pretty normal-sized head. I dunno. Whatever kind of head you have - don't worry it. Just enjoy. 

lemon bars with coconut: makes about 12 bars

3/4 cup oats (or buckwheat groats if you want it gluten-free)
3/4 cup dates
3/4 cup coconut shreds

Lemon layer:
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1 cup dates, but this will change the colour)
Juice from 3 lemons
1/2 cup coconut shreds
1 or 2 bananas

To make the base: pulse the oats or buckwheat groats and coconut shreds in your food processor until they become a rough flour. Add the dates and process until it all sticks together. Press into the bottom of a square baking pan and put in the fridge.

To make the lemon layer: blend all the ingredients until smooth. See if you like the taste and adjust accordingly. Spread evenly on to the base layer and set in the fridge overnight. The next day, cut into squares and sprinkle with finely ground coconut flakes for a powdered sugar effect. Nom!