Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wakame salad

In my last post I wrote about my diet dilemma. It seemed like I was gaining weight on a raw food diet (probably due to a combination of high sugar from fruit and high fat from nuts). Following this I've brought some healthy wholegrains back into my diet: quinoa, millet (my fave), amaranth and oats. The improvement is incredible,  I feel so much more energetic and I quickly got back to my ideal weight! What Okriina from Keitti√∂kameleontti (an inspiring blog filled with excellent raw recipes in finnish) said when she commented on my last post really hit home. I believe I was not absorbing protein well from raw nuts. 

Anyway, I digress. Just wanted to post a recipe that gives you guys some idea of what I eat these days. This is a simple raw asian-inspired wakame salad, boosted with toasted sesame seeds (you could use soaked and dehydrated too, if you are on a raw food diet). As lunch, it would work wonderfully on its own. For dinner, I served it along with vinegared millet.


1 small zucchini and/or cucumber
4 medium carrots
1 small apple
1C or more of green peas, preferably snap peas
5 stalks of wakame seaweed
couple tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1,5 tbsp brown rice vinegar
Sweetener of choice, I used a bit of xylitol here
4 tbsp cold pressed sesame oil
Mineral-rich salt (Himalayan, gray sea salt)

Soak wakame for 5 minutes in cold water. Julienne the zucchini, carrots and apple. Chop up the wakame. Mix together the veg. Blend the dressing ingredients, taste and adjust it according to your liking. I use toasted sesame seeds here for flavor, I just love them combined with the sesame oil in the dressing. This would be even better with snap peas, but as you can see from the pic this time I only had regular ones.

3/4 C millet + 3C water (or thereabouts)
2 tbsp brown rice vinegar + salt + a little bit of sweetener of choice
2 strips of Kombu seaweed

Cook the millet in water with salt and kombu. Remove from heat, chop up the kombu and mix it in along with vinegar, salt and something sweet to round off the taste.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crossroads - What to do?

As you have probably noticed, I have not posted anything for a while now. This is because I've been busy, for one. The main reason however is I don't really know what to do about my diet - and hence what to do with this blog? I decided I'd write my thoughts down in hopes that you might be able to help.

In May my husband and I started really craving raw foods and the thought of slaving over the stove just didn't sound appealing. So we ate what we felt like eating, I would say 90% or more of our daily food was raw. This felt good at the time. Soon after, I noticed I was having a hard time maintaining my body weight (116lbs seems ideal for me). I also felt like was not getting enough protein and contrary to what people usually associate with raw diets, I also felt less energetic. End of July we started craving cooked food, like sushi (I replace white rice with millet, in the pic). So we went with that. I lost a couple lbs and got back to my ideal weight quickly after and also noticed a huge increase in my energy levels. It's not like we missed bread or any kind of junk (I'm still allergic to gluten and dairy), just some lightly steamed vegetables and cooked grains now and then. I also replaced my raw pizza crusts with a crust made of water and millet+quinoa flour. I think the reason that I gained weight on high raw was the large quantity of nuts we were consuming. Now that we've replaced most of the nuts with healthy grains, we both feel a lot better. And look better!

I would still like to eat as much raw as possible. I'm finding it hard to replace nuts in raw recipes - it would be a lot easier if I could eat gluten and just replace with spelt or wheat berries. We do still use a lot of sprouted buckwheat. I've tried using sprouted oats, but my body won't tolerate that too much/too often. Lightly toasted or cooked g-free oats I can handle, it's the raw variety that is pretty hard to digest. Lately I've also found that consuming a lot of legumes isn't too good for me either. So my question is, if I can't eat raw nuts or raw/cooked legumes, how do I get enough protein? I do eat raw chia, hemp and sesame seeds. But it doesn't seem feasible to get 50-60g protein (1g/weight kg) from those alone.

Is it so bad to eat cooked millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and oats? At this point I think not, because I feel significantly better eating the grains.  But what do you think? Are there others out there who can't handle a lot of nuts? Any gluten-free ideas how to replace them in raw recipes? Or any gluten-free, nut free recipe ideas altogether? Savory dishes are what I'm struggling with.

This blog never really was a raw food blog. It will still continue as it was when I started it, as a documentary of my "adventures" into the realms of healthy eating. I'm just still looking to find the kind of diet that works best for me. Hope you'll continue to follow me on my journey. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tropical mango strawberry cheesecake

Here's the recipe for the tropical cheesecake I mentioned in my previous post! Sorry about the photo, it really doesn't do this recipe justice. The mango layer actually has a gorgeous, deep yellow color. I just whipped this cake up 2 hours before the guests arrived and once it was all set and glazed, the guests were already there and I didn't feel right abandoning them just to get a perfect pic :)

The crust:
2 C almonds
1C sun-dried bananas
pinch of salt

Grind the nuts and dates in a food processor fitted with an S-blade. You may add water if the mixture doesn't stick together. Press onto a large tart pan or smaller individual tart molds.

1 cups dried mango, soaked
0,5C fresh or canned organic mango (I could only find organic mango canned..)
1,5C macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup cacao butter
raw, unfiltered honey to taste (exact amount depends on the sweetness of your fruit)

Puree everything smooth except the cocoa butter, grate it in and blend to combine. Spread on top of the crust. I made two batches to get a higher cake (as opposed to a filled pie).

Strawberry glaze:
1C frozen strawberries, thawed
5 tbsp chia

Blend until the chia is gelatinized. I did not measure these out at all, I just took a container of frozen strawberries, thawed them and blended in as much chia as it took to get it to form a gel. There was plenty of left over glaze. Once the chia has set, spread evenly on top of the mango layer. If you have fresh strawberries at hand don't bother with this, just garnish the cake with the chopped berries!

I think most of my guests were used to a white flour+ sugar cake with tons of whipped cream. They all said this certainly was new to them, but then asked for seconds and raved about how delicious it was. I was a bit worried about the perhaps unusual flavor combination (at least to most Finns), but since I am such a mango fan I decided to go ahead with it.. after all, this was my graduation cake! :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Raw spanish scrambled "eggs"

Hi everyone! We're back from a weekend out of town, celebrating my graduation (BSc), gathering spruce shoots and visiting with family and friends. I'll be back to post about the party, I made an amazing raw tropical mango strawberry cheesecake which was a hit! But for now I decided to post one of my husband's favorite raw breakfasts. 

This recipe is inspired by Ani Phyo's raw scramble. I made it once (added more spices and dash of olive oil), but my husband complained about tasting the almonds. He said it was very good, but the almond flavor bothered him in a savory dish! To please him, I replaced the almonds with brazil nuts. Cashews would be even milder and probably work as well, but I like brazil nuts because they are so packed with minerals such as selenium and zinc. Although not raw, I also added my husband's favorite spice: smoked paprika. I enjoy the spice as well, and as long as it is not unhealthy I tend to choose taste over "100% raw."

Anyway, onto the recipe:
Spanish scramble:
1C dry brazil nuts (soaked and dehydrated always best)
0,5C sunflower seeds (soaked and dehydrated always best)
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp or more of organic smoked paprika
0,5tsp italian seasoning (or herbs of choice)
1/4 tsp mineral rich salt or to taste
1/2 cup water
dash of your favorite cold-pressed olive oil (optional, but I think it improves flavor and texture)
black pepper

First blend the nuts and seeds and add water to reach a consistency similar to scrambled eggs. If you like, you may leave it a little chunky. Add turmeric to give it the right color and other seasonings to taste.

1/4C fresh cilantro
spring onion
Marinated and dehydrated mushrooms (1:1:1 ratio of balsamic vinegar+olive oil+honey, salt, pepper, yumyum!)
sweet pepper
raw olives (I just had organic ones)

Chop your add-ins of choice, mix in and enjoy! We like to let it sit a bit to warm it up (we keep our nuts in the fridge) and allow the flavors to mingle. 

The scramble is served on greens, either spinach or romaine leaves work wonderfully. Sometimes I also like to wrap the scramble in a salad leaf!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spicy summer curry

The sunshine is back and that calls for something light, colorful, refreshing and flavorful! This recipe definitely delivers that.
Raw parsnip rice:
3 parsnips
1/2C of dry coconut flakes (preferably sun-dried)
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp raw honey
1 tsp ume plum vinegar (or anything acidic)
Himalayan salt, freshly ground black pepper

Pulse the pine nuts and parsnips until they resemble white rice. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Mango curry sauce:
1 large mango
1/8 of a sweet onion or more to taste
Himalayan salt, pepper
Garam masala, ground coriander, cumin
Fresh coriander leaves

Puree mango and onion, add spices. Pour in a serving bowl, stir in roughly chopped fresh coriander. The onion can either be omitted entirely or replaced by spring onions. 

Pea shoots or just peas
Finely chopped raw broccoli
Carrot (we had yellow and red carrot)

Sweet peppers would have been delicious, but they are not in season yet. Likewise we had to substitute frozen peas for pea shoots, but looking forward to trying this with those later! Alfalfa or mung sprouts would be excellent, unfortunately I didn't have those at hand either. I did serve this curry with a side of curried nut balls, yum!

To serve, top parsnip rice with veggies and curry sauce. It will look something like this:

I had so much fun making this, since my daughter (18 months) got on her tippy toes to snatch my broccoli off the kitchen table. She got such a kick out of munching on it, so cute! As a mom, something inside me lights up every time she enjoys eating something raw and green. She even likes to snack on sunflower sprouts.

Enjoy the summer guys!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Raw onion bread

Raw onion bread:
2 medium sweet onions
1 medium carrot
1C sunflower seeds
1C brazil nuts
0,5C pumpkin seeds
0,5C flax meal
cold-pressed olive oil, water
salt, pepper, dried parsley

Grind nuts and seeds into a fine flour in a food processor. Chop onions and carrot into big chunks and process into tiny pieces, almost mushy. Mix the carrot and onion mixture to the nut flour in a bowl, add flax meal and enough water and olive oil to get a flax gel consistency (batter should only barely moist, so that you can mold it by hand).

Shape into round flatbreads or spread evenly onto a teflex sheet. The thinner you make it the less time it will take to dehydrate. I made them a little thicker because I wanted them soft in the center like bread instead of crackers. Dehydrate at 116F for about 5 hours on one side and then a couple on the other.

The sweet onions lend to an amazing flavor, which softens and intensifies in the dehydrator. Your kitchen will be filled with a delicious scent while dehydrating. I normally don't like raw onion, but using sweet onion really makes all the difference. 

We enjoyed these as raw sandwiches, but also just topped with hummus. This hummus is not raw, but really delicious if your body can tolerate legumes. I have a pressure cooker, and I love that I can boil garbanzos in 15-20 minutes. Not only because it's a time saver, but also because nutrients are better preserved.

Smoked paprika hummus:
1,5 C garbanzo beans
3-4 tbsp cold-pressed sesame oil
1-2 tsp raw honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
fresh spring onions and flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt, pepper, smoked paprika
cayenne pepper (optional)

Blend cooked garbanzo beans, lemon juice, oil and honey until smooth but chunky. Transfer to serving bowl. Add chopped spring onions and fresh flat-leaf parsley and seasonings. Sprinkle some more smoked paprika and parsley on top for garnish.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Could your sunscreen be CAUSING skin cancer instead of preventing it?

Two years ago I was nearly oblivious to the toxic ingredients in cosmetic products. Since then, my list of chemicals to avoid has just gotten longer and longer. Last summer I was perplexed about sunscreen, because I do think it is necessary. I bought an organic one, that didn't contain harmful inactive ingredients (parabens etc, PEGs etc). Now I discovered even that is not enough, because even natural organic sunscreens can contain harmful substances (the above pic is my new sunscreen, which I think is safe?). I was too busy staring at the inactive ingredients, naively believing that the active ingredients are surely OK!

Not exactly the truth. Even organic suncreens may contain one or a combination of these potentially very harmful ingredients:

Homosalate (weak hormone disruptor)
Octisalate (weak UVB)

There is also cause to question whether these substances even sufficiently protect against UVA/UVB rays.

Here are some interesting quotes from the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

"In summer 2008 just 29% of sunscreens on the market contained any of the 4 strong UVA filters FDA has approved for use in sunscreens (avobenzone, Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, and zinc), according to EWG’s analysis of product ingredient labels."

 " Only 8% of 1,771 products analyzed met EWG's criteria for safety and effectiveness, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards. Our assessment is based on a detailed review of hundreds of scientific studies, industry models of sunscreen efficacy, and toxicity and regulatory information housed in nearly 60 government, academic, and industry databases. "

"Many products lack UVA protection. Our analysis found that 4% of high SPF sunscreens (SPF of at least 30) protect only from sunburn (UVB radiation), and do not contain ingredient combinations known to protect from UVA, the sun rays linked to skin damage and aging, immune system problems, and potentially skin cancer. FDA does not require that sunscreens guard against UVA radiation." 

"Sunscreens break down in the sun. Paradoxically, many sunscreen ingredients break down in the sun, in a matter of minutes or hours, and then let UV radiation through to the skin. Our analyses show that 41% of products on the market contain ingredients that may be unstable alone or in combination, raising questions about whether these products last as long as the label says. FDA has not proposed requirements for sunscreen stability."

When you head out to buy your sunscreen, make sure the only active ingredients are zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide. Some time ago I posted about natural cosmetics, in particular about lip balms with SPF. Needless to say, now that I am aware of this I've tossed those.

Check out EWG's safety ratings for a majority of commercial sunscreens: