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Man I love stir fries.  They are a fast and easy way to get a whole lot of veggies in a single meal and makes for delicious left overs.

But now being a mostly raw girl, I don’t usually go for stir fries, they always felt a bit too greasy and cooked brown rice is sometimes too heavy for me.

When I found kelp noodles at my local health food store I knew I needed to try making a raw stir fry…a non fry?  Kelp noodles are pretty great, they have this really interestingly chewy, crunchy texture and are gluten-free and grain-free.

Veggie Stir Non-Fry with Kelp Noodles

Ingredients

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 carrots, silvered
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup snap peas
2 tbsp sesame oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 package of kelp noodles

Directions

1. Slice shiitake mushrooms and onions.  Place in bowl with Bragg Liquid Aminos and let marinate for 15 mins.
2. Drain and rinse kelp noodles and set aside.
3. Cut up carrots, bell pepper and snap peas.  
4. Combine shiitake mushrooms and onion mix, mixed veggies, sesame oil, crushed red pepper flakes and kelp noodles into a bowl.
5. Mix and serve.

Generally the first question I’m asked when I tell people I am vegan is “where do you get your protein?”

I suppose this is a valid question but protein is available in foods other then meat such as leafy greens, quinoa, hemp seeds, almonds, legumes, sprouts and of course plant-based protein powders!

I was really excited to receive Sunwarrior Chocolate and Vanilla Protein Powder to sample.

Sunwarrior is a fermented brown rice protein powder.  Raw brown rice is germinated to increase its bioactivity and break down the carbohydrates leaving it at 83% protein.  It is cultured with probiotics so it is easy on the digestive system and therefore easily digestible.  Sunwarrior is also processed below 90F to ensure all enzymes are intact.

It contains all 9 essential amino acids and other non-essential amino acids and has the highest Net Protein Utilization score (the amount of amino acids converted to proteins to the amount of amino acids supplied) of any vegetable based protein and the highest ratio of amino acids converted to proteins (amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules.)

Sunwarrior is said to be allergen-free, as well as gluten-free and straight up vegan! While Sunwarrior is not Certified Organic, they use non-GMO foods and are in the process of obtaining organic certification.

What I love most about Sunwarrior is the taste.  Seriously this stuff tastes so smooth without leaving a chalky or unpleasant aftertaste that so many veg proteins have.  I know that it is of the highest quality and one bag lasts me awhile.

Price – approximately $60-65 a bag (lasts about 30-45 days if consuming 1 scoop per day)

Availability – in select health food stores and from RawNutrition.ca

My favourite ways to enjoy Sunwarrior is in a smoothie or protein pudding.

References

When the kind folks at Vega sent me a copy of Thrive Foods, the newest book by Brendan Brazier, I was beyond thrilled.  I mean, me and Brendan?  We could be BFF’s we have that much in common – we’re both vegan, we’re both Canadian, we’re both sporty and we both love making energy bars out of dates.

And more then anything we love our food whole and pure!

Having read and loved Brazier’s two other books, The Thrive Diet and Thrive Fitness I had high expectations of Thrive Foods.  Part informative book and part recipe book, it did not disappoint.

The opening chapters of the book discuss the basics of nutrition.  Information that everyone should, but does not necessarily know.  Filled with important facts and scientific back-up, Thrive Foods is informative without being preachy and is written in a way that everyone can understand.

There are a few sections dedicated to the environmental impact of our foods.  This sort of thing fascinates me, for example according to Thrive Foods, “if everyone in the US stopped eating beef for one year, that would be like not driving a distance equivalent to 9,007,489 to the moon.”  Um, way to blow my mind!

And the best part…200 plant-based, whole food recipes by Brazier and some of the best vegan restaurants and chefs in the world such as Tal Ronnen, Thrive Juice Bar and Candle 79!  I was beyond thrilled to see recipes from some of my favourite restaurants in Toronto, such as Live Organic Food Bar and Fresh.

One of the tastiest recipes I tested was the Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Tomato Sauce.  The pasta sauce was fantastic and any opportunity I can get to use my spiralizer I will take.

Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Tomato Sauce
recipe from Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp sea salt
20 sundried tomatoes, soak in warm water until soft (about 30 min)
1/2 cup tomato soak water
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 medium clove garlic
2 heaping tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp hemp oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or chopped Brazil nuts
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

1. Trim the ends of the zucchini.  Using a hand-held vegetables peeler (or spiralizer), carefully strip the zucchini, layer by layer into noodle-like pieces and gather into a colander (for best results, discard the watery center section that holds the seeds)
2. Toss squash strips with 1 tsp of sea salt and place the colander over a large bowl to catch excess moisture.  Let rest of 30 minutes.
3. After 30 minutes, wash the squash thoroughly with warm water to remove any excess salt, and let drain for 5 more minutes.
4. In a food processor, blend together the sundried tomatoes, 1/2 cup soak water, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, raisins, hemp oil and 1/2 tsp of sea salt into a chunky paste.
5. Add the nuts and pulse a few times to chop the nuts finely (but do not blend)
6. Toss the sauce with the zucchini strips and sauté over medium-low heat to 1-2 minutes to warm through. 

Variation – Skip the sauté step and serve room temperature as a delicious raw dish.

A fantastic meal from a fantastic book!  The addition of the raisins to the pasta sauce was my favourite part.  It gave the thick sauce just a hint of sweetness. 

You can order your copy here, I definitely recommend having this book in your collection!

To find out more about Brendan Brazier and Team Vega, check out their website and say in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

*Note to Canadian readers – Thrive Foods is the same book as Whole Foods To Thrive

In business, the term “diversify” is often thrown around.  I understand it to be defined as varying a company’s products or when investing, to reduce risk by having a variety of assets.

If we take this idea of diversifying and apply it to our health, it makes total sense to me.  If we look at our bodies as companies and the food we put in them as our assets, we get either profit or loss depending on the choices we make.  When we add variety to our diet and lifestyle whether it be through new foods we consume or a new activity, we are essentially diversifying and thus reducing our risk of disease and increasing our livelihood.

Obviously there’s a reason I went into health and not finance…

While on a recent grocery shopping trip, I picked up a couple of guavas.  Having never tried guava before and feeling that I needed to diversify my life a lil’ I bought them.  Once I got home, I was totally stumped with what to do with these guavas, I did what I always do – stick ‘em in my Blendtec.  What came out was a gorgeous ice cream like treat.

Mango-Guava Soft Serve

Ingredients

1 cup mango, frozen
1 guava, small or medium, seeds removed
2 Medjool dates

Directions

1. Remove peel and seeds from guava
2. Combine all ingredients into high-powered blender, such as a Blendtec or into a food processor and blend until smooth
3. Pour mixture into bowl and freeze for 1 hour.  Once frozen, scoop out and top with fruit. 

Guava has a large amount of pectin, which are complex carbohydrates found in the cell walls of plants.  It helps to bind the gauva and mango together to form a creamy texture.  Guava is also a rich source of Vitamin C and fibre.

Carrot cake is one of my most favourite desserts.  A tall, moist cake with lots of vegan cream cheese icing is like a dream. 

But I swear up and down that just dreaming about carrot cake makes my butt get bigger.  Trying to rationalize that because carrot cake is made with carrots it can count as healthy.  Right?

Nope, sorry.  Ain’t happening.

That’s why these carrot cake balls are just so freakin’ good.  All the deliciousness of a rich carrot cake without all the added and unnecessary crap.

Win!

Raw Carrot Cake Balls

Ingredients

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pecans
6 Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut, shredded and unsweetened
1 tsp coconut oil
2 large carrots, chopped or shredded
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tbsp flax seed, ground

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.  Mixture can still be chunky.  Careful not to over-process nuts as these releases too much of the oil.

2. Shape into balls and roll in coconut or cinnamon.

3. Refrigerate for 1 hour and enjoy.

Note – If you want variety, try adding pineapple (fresh or dried) and grated ginger for some kick.  If your mixture is too moist, add additional ground flax seed.

Last night was a hot one here in Toronto.  The kind of night that had I not been a healthy-living vegan, I may have stopped and got a chocolate soft serve cone from one of the numerous ice cream trucks parked in my neighbourhood.

Ever wonder what’s actually used to make soft serve?  The National Post wrote a story on this a few years back.  Ingredients include – corn syrup, whey, calcium sulfate and more sugar then should ever be consumed by the human body.

I whipped up this delicious treat using some frozen Ontario-grown sour cherries I found at Whole Foods.  Try it and I swear you’ll like it better then that crap that’s served out of a truck.

You can even eat it for breakfast.  Not that I’m doing that…right now…

Chocolate-Cherry Soft Serve

Ingredients

1 banana, frozen or unfrozen your choice
1/2 cup frozen sour cherries
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1 medjool date

Directions

1. Add all ingredients to high-powered blender or food processor
2. Blend until smooth and transfer to bowl or layer in parfait glass
3. Top with raw cacao nibs and whole cherries

When I became vegan 3 years ago I didn’t know a single soul who also shared my values and beliefs so you can imagine my excitement about spending yesterday afternoon in Trinity Bellwoods surrounded by amazing, like-minded, beautiful vegan friends: Lisa, Steph, Camille, Marlie, Cassandra, Lisa and Ashley

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I look back to 3 years ago and think just how far I’ve come and how many amazing people I have met along the way.  I feel truly blessed to know each of these women and admire their talent and passion.

Each lady brought a dish and we had an amazing potluck picnic in the park.  On the menu was Quinoa Kale salad, Thai Mango salad (recipe below), Hummus and carrots, Watermelon, Dehydrated Grape Leaves, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, Strawberry Thumbprint cookies, Peanut Butter Thumbprint cookies, Coconut Cacao Date balls and Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes.  So very delicious!

Here’s my recipe for Thai Mango salad, try adding quinoa for a lil’ something extra!

Thai Mango Salad

Ingredients

2 mangoes, julienned
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
handful of parsley, chopped
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
cashews or peanuts, crushed to garnish

Directions

1. Prepare and combine mangoes, red pepper, green pepper, green onions, red onion and parsley.
2. Mix lime juice, salt and pepper in separate bowl and pour over veggie mixture.
3. Chill for 1 hour and let marinade.  Garnish with nuts and serve.

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A few weekends ago I attended an amazing event called Reboot Toronto.  Reboot was hosted by Yafa from House of Verona, a beautiful health retreat in Collingwood Ontario.

I started by meeting up for lunch with Ashley.  We have been “blog friends” for quite some time but when we found out we were both attending Reboot we decided to meet up before and have lunch at Butler’s Pantry

The second I sat down Ashley’s bubbly and happy energy hit me like a wave and we immediately hit it off.  Not surprising as we have so much in common.

We headed over the centre and got settled.  The energy was so happy and calm.

Yafa started us off with her story of bipolar depression and how changing her diet to raw and vegan immediately helped her symptoms.  She is such a sweet, compassionate person and I really appreciated that she was so open with her story as depression is a hard thing to talk about, especially in front of an audience.  Yafa also mentioned that the best way to enhance endorphins is through laughter, sex and exercising.  Do what you will with that information!

Next up we participated in a really wonderful yoga class taught by Linda of Iam Yoga.  Followed by a talk from Ben Stone, a very interesting and intelligent Hippocrates Health Educator.  Did you know that 2 oz of wheatgrass = 3 lbs average vegetables nutrient value, pretty awesome right?

And of course, Meghan Telpner who shared her 10 Things She Learned Healing An Incurable Disease

Meghan is incredibly down to earth, funny and passionate.  There were so many points she mentioned that I really liked including “We are better to spend our time happily creating, than creating to be happy.”

Elwin Robinson followed Meghan where he spoke on the importance of energy and how to increase our energy through simple steps such as proper breathing and clean water.

And last but not least the awesome and inspiring Philip McCluskey, a raw vegan who famously lost 215 lbs through raw food.

Overall the event was pretty amazing.  I love being in a room full of other people who share many of my interests, it’s rare that it happens!  It was an emotionally exhausting day but I left with a new friend and feeling inspired and rebooted.

How do you “reboot?”

A large part of a raw vegan diet is consuming sprouts namely because they are delicious, living foods packed full of nutrients.

Typically I buy sprout mixes from my local health food store but after learning that my classmate sprouted her own mung beans, I knew I had to give it a go.  As it turns out, sprouting is super easy and very economical!

Some benefits of sprouts:

Contain active enzymes that help digestion and assimilation
Increases protein content by 15-30%
Starches change to simple sugars
B Vitamins are enhanced

I’ve seen many a fancy sprouter container but you don’t need to buy those.  All you need are beans for sprouting, a glass mason jar and cheesecloth.

Once you have gathered everything, take 1/2 cup of beans and pour into the glass jar.  Fill jar with filtered water, cover it will with a small square of cheesecloth (folded over so there are 4 layers), put the ring on and soak overnight.

Next, drain and rinse your sprouts.  Flip jar back over to let water drain.  Rinse and drain 2-3 x a day for 3-5 days depending on the sprout.  When rinsing, make sure water runs clear.

After 3-5 days you will have sprouts!

Sprouts can be enjoyed with salads, on sandwiches or on their own.  The Hippocrates Health Institute, a leader in Holistic Healing advocates a diet rich in sprouts, about 20% of your daily intake.

Note – seeds of the Nightshade family (ie tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants) should not be sprouted as they are poisonous.  Please use caution when sprouting.

Have you ever tried sprouting?

Happy hump day friends! 

I’ve been high raw for about 2 weeks now and at least 80% of my meals are raw and the rest cooked. I am loving it and feel like personally this is a huge step in the right direction to bringing me to my optimal potential! 

One area of raw eating I was struggling with was breakfast.  I like to eat my breakfast out of a bowl and with a spoon.  I am over overnight oats and hot cereal wasn’t satisfying me anymore.  And then I discovered buckwheat.  And now…

O.M.G.

Raw buckwheat breakfast is my new favourite thing in life.

Here’s the down low on buckwheat…

Buckwheat is a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel and is gluten-free, so it’s a great option if you have a wheat or gluten sensitivity.  It contains a high amount of flavonoids; these are phytonutrients that protect against disease by acting as antioxidants.  Buckwheat is a source of Magnesium – a mineral which helps relax blood vessels and has a calming effect on the body.  In 1 cup of buckwheat there is approximately 4.5g of fibre.  If you were to add an apple to this you would get almost 10 grams of fibre!  The minimum requirement for women ages 19-50 is 25g of fibre per day.  Fibre helps keep you feeling full and helps bulk up your stools to improve bowel tone and elimination.  There is raw hulled buckwheat and the toasted form known as kasha.*

Raw Buckwheat Breakfast

Ingredients

1/3 cup raw, hulled buckwheat
1 tbsp maple syrup (or your preferred sweetener)
1 tsp cinnamon
water or almond milk if needed

Directions

Step 1 – Soak buckwheat in 2 cups of water overnight, or for 8 hours

Step 2 – Drain buckwheat and put in food processor, add maple syrup and cinnamon to food processor

Step 3 – Process until relatively smooth.  If it’s too thick, add a bit of water or almond milk to thin out

Step 4 – Transfer into bowl and top with your favourite superfoods.  Mine include ground flax, chia seeds, hemp seeds and raw cacao

Enjoy!

Have you ever tried buckwheat?

*Source – WHFoods.org

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