Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011

Plum Pie
serves 3 ~ $2.47 per serving

1/2 cup walnuts ($1.00)
1/2 cup raisins ($.85)
3 plums, sliced thinly ($3.00)
3 tablespoons coconut butter ($1.65) 
2 tablespoons coconut nectar ($.40)

banana ice cream ($.50)
blackberry puree

In a food processor fitted with an "S" blade, process the walnuts and raisins until the mixture begins sticking together. Press into a plate, pie plate, or tart pans and chill for several minutes.

In the food processor, again with the "S" blade, process one plum, the coconut butter, and the coconut nectar. When pureed, spread over the pie crust. Place the plum slices on top. 

This goes really well with a bit of banana ice cream and a bit of blackberry puree.


calories: 396
fat: 19 gr
carbs: 60 gr
protein: 6 gr


Salad with Blackberry Dressing
serves 2 ~ $1.50 per serving

1 head romaine, chopped ($1.29)
6 leaves kale, chopped ($.50)
2 carrots, shaved or sliced ($.20)
2 ribs celery, sliced ($.20)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons blackberry sauce (see dessert recipe below) ($.50)
2 tablespoons olive oil ($.20)
 teaspoon apple cider vinegar ($.10)

salt and pepper to taste

I love blackberries and this is my new favorite salad dressing. And yes, this is the second salad of the day. It's not true that a raw and vegan lifestyle means living on salads, but any healthy diet includes lots of them. It's a good thing they taste so great!

This is a simple salad, assembled with chopped romaine, sliced carrots (I used a vegetable peeler), and sliced celery and onions. The dressing really makes this wonderful, even though it's also incredibly simple. Just puree the blackberry sauce, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar until smooth. This is a small batch, but can be doubled, tripled or more and stored in the fridge for up to a week.


calories: 381
fat: 16 gr
carbs: 58 gr
protein: 9 gr
Corn Chips and Salsa
serves 2 ~ $2.15 per serving

2 cups corn kernels ($1.30)
1 red bell pepper ($.50)
1 medium onion
1 jalapeno ($.05)
2 tablespoons olive oil ($.20)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon olive oil for tray

Now I know I really should get a nine tray Excalibur dehydrator. I'd make tons of these chips with it.
To make, just put all ingredients in a food processor fitted with an "S" blade and process until almost smooth. Spread out about 1/8 inch thick on lined dehydrator trays that have been liberally coated with olive oil. Dry for about two hours, then flip and peel the liner off. Dry for another several hours or overnight until dry and crispy. Break into chip sized pieces.

2 ripe red tomatoes, diced ($1.00)
2 green tomatoes, diced (or tomatillos) ($1.00)
1 medium onion, minced
1 jalapeno, minced ($.05)
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, optional ($.10)
juice of one lime ($.50)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar ($.10)
 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Assemble all ingredients and stir to combine. Really, it's that easy. Serve with corn chips.


calories: 377
fat: 22 gr
carbs: 45 gr
protein: 9 gr
Caramel Apple Pie
serves 6 ~ $1.60 per serving
1 cup walnuts ($3.00)
1 cup raisins ($1.00)

5 apples ($3.00)
1/2 cup raisins ($.50)
4 tablespoons agave ($.40)
4 tablespoons lemon juice ($.40)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice ($.10)

4 tablespoons almond butter ($.80)
2 tablespoons agave ($.40)
2 tablespoons olive oil ($.20)
4 tablespoons water

This may possibly be the best apple pie I've ever had. 

Peel and slice the apples into pieces about 1/8 in thick. In a lidded container (I used a zip lock box), toss the apples and 1/2 cup raisins with the agave, lemon juice, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice until well coated. Spread out on a lined dehydrator sheet and dry for about 2 hours, stirring once or twice. This isn't meant to dry the apples, but to soften them and let the flavor intensify.

In a food processor fitted with the "S" blade, process the walnuts and 1 cup raisins until the mix starts to stick together. This takes a couple minutes. Press the mix into the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of an 8 inch spring form pan. Put in the freezer for a half hour to firm. 

In a bullet type blender, puree the almond butter, agave, olive oil, and water until very smooth.

Spoon the apple mixture from the dehydrator into the chilled pie crust and pour the caramel evenly on top. Chill for another half hour, if desired. For extra creamy goodness, serve with a scoop of vanilla banana ice cream.

calories: 462
fat: 24 gr
carbs: 64 gr
protein: 6 gr
Total cost for the day: $7.72
total calories: 1616
total fat: 81 gr
total carb: 227 gr
total protein: 30 gr
Happy Easter

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 17, 2011

Apple Avocado Soup
serves 2 ~ $1.44 per serving

1 avocado, chopped ($.88)
2 medium apples, peeled and chopped ($1.29)
1 tablespoon chopped onion
handful arugula leaves ($.50) 
2 tablespoons olive oil ($.20)
2 cups water, for blending
minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes

It's snowing. Really. Snow. Just when I think winter is finally over, it comes back to life. It's like a horror movie where the bad guy just refuses to die. Needless to say, I felt like having comfort food and so made lots of soup. By the time I was done, I had a whole day's worth of soup! And here they are.
Set aside a few arugula leaves for garnish. In a blender, combine the avocado, apples, chopped onion, arugula leaves, olive oil, and water, and puree until very smooth. Salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with a few chopped arugula leaves, some finely minced onion, and red pepper flakes.

Sweet 'n Creamy Tomato Soup
serve 2 ~ $2.89 per serving

4 tomatoes, chopped ($4.00)
3 carrots, peeled and chopped ($.30)
1 avocado, chopped ($.88)
1 tablespoon chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive oil ($.20)
2 tablespoons agave ($.40)
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes

I still had frozen tomatoes from last year, so that's what I used for this soup. The agave adds some really nice sweetness.

In a blender, puree the tomatoes, carrots, avocado, onion, olive oil, and agave, until very smooth. Salt and pepper to taste, and add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a drizzle of agave if desired.

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup
serves 2 ~ $1.40 per serving

1 beet ($1.29)
4 carrots ($.40)
6 radishes ($.30)
1 large onion ($.10)
1 tablespoon olive oil ($.10)
2 tablespoons agave ($.40)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar ($.20)
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Let me be honest. You have to really like beets to like this soup. Also, the beets don't get smooth like most other blended veggies. They do stay a bit grainy. An alternative would be to juice the beet and use beet juice instead of the whole beet.
Peel and thinly slice the beet, carrots, radishes, and onion. In a small cup, whisk together the olive oil, agave, and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the sliced root veggies, and toss to coat. Spread out on a lined dehydrator sheet and dehydrate for about 2 hours at 115 degrees.

Set aside a few of the beets carrots, and onions. In a blender, puree the remaining dehydrated vegetables with water until as smooth as possible.

Salt and pepper to taste, and top with the reserved dehydrated vegetables.

Fruit Soup
serves 1 ~ $2.70 per serving

1 cup strawberries ($1.20)
1 cup mango chunks ($1.20)
1 banana ($.20)
water for blending
banana slices ($.10)

OK, fruit soup is, technically speaking, a smoothie. But, in a bowl with some banana slices, and it becomes a refreshing soup.

Puree the strawberries with one cup water. Puree separately the mango chunks and banana and one cup water. 

In a bowl, pour the strawberry puree in, then pour in the mango and banana puree. The mango puree will sink to the bottom and be a nice surprise. Add a few banana slices to the top.
Total cost for the day: $8.43

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 10, 2011


Pond Smoothie
serves 1 ~ $.85 per serving

1 banana ($.25)
1 teaspoon spirulina powder ($.10)
1 tablespoon almond butter ($.30)
1 tablespoon chia seeds ($.20)
1 1/2 cups water

It was gorgeous today. Almost 80 degrees. I feel like maybe summer will really get here (eventually). It was even sunny enough to get a sunburn. The local frogs were also appreciating the day, croaking away. Maybe that was why my morning smoothie reminded me of, well, pond scum. (In keeping with that theme, for my menu card I used the image above, which is an 1834 illustration for the fable, "Le Soleil et Les Grenouilles," which means, "The Sun and the Frogs.")

Spirulina is also known as cyanobacteria. Cyano means blue. Their blue green pigment is even older, from an evolutionary standpoint, than the green chlorophyll. It contains "complete" proteins, and is a good source of iron and the amino acid lysine, which can enhance iron absorption. 

The color is greenish turquoise and some chia seeds will add omega-3s ... and the look of frog eggs.

To make this smoothie, add all ingredients to a blender and puree until very smooth.

calories: 338
fat: 17 gr
carbs: 42 gr
protein: 10 gr


Fruit Stew
serves 2 ~ $2.48 per serving

1 mango, cubed ($1.49)
1 papaya, cubed ($.99)
1 cucumber, chopped ($.69)
2 tablespoons olive oil ($.20)
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped ($.05)
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped ($.89)
1 jalapeno, minced ($.20)
2 tablespoons lime juice ($.45)
black pepper
red pepper flakes

Even though this is made of fruit, it has a hearty feel and is surprisingly filling.

In a food processor fitted with an "S blade, puree about a third of each of the mango, papaya, and cucumber and the olive oil and salt until very smooth. This is the stew base. In a large bowl, add the remaining chopped mango, papaya, and cucumber, along with the onion, red bell pepper, and jalapeno. Stir to mix. Add the lime juice and stir again. Serve with a bit of black pepper and a few crushed red pepper flakes.

Most of the heat of a jalapeno is found in the seeds. I like this kind of spicy so I include most of the seeds from the jalapeno. If you prefer a bit more mild taste, just leave out most or all of the seeds.

calories: 289
fat: 14 gr
carbs: 43 gr
protein: 3 gr


"Hey, That's Not Raw!"
serves 3 ~ $3.89 per serving

1 box firm tofu ($3.99)
3 tablespoons olive oil ($.30)
3 tablespoons agave ($.30)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar ($.30)
1 zucchini, sliced ($.69)
1 head bok choy, chopped ($1.89)
1 medium onion, chopped ($.10)
1 carrot, grated or ribboned ($.10)
4 radishes, sliced ($.40)

Nope, it's not raw, not at all. But I wanted to show you this nifty little gadget I just tried out. It's a tofu press, from TofoXPress

(I know the use of soy foods is somewhat controversial, and is also a common allergen, but it seems there is good reason to believe it's a healthy addition to any vegan diet for those without allergies to it.) 

TofuXPress's tofu press is really easy to use. Just put the block of tofu in and press and lock the spring loaded lid. In just a few hours, or overnight, much of the water is squeezed out of the tofu, making it a much denser product. It will be as much as 1/3 its original thickness when finished.

Once the tofu is pressed, slice it about an eighth of an inch thick. Whisk together the olive oil, agave, and balsamic vinegar (yes, I do eat this on just about everything!) and pour over the tofu slices to coat well. Then fry gently in a pan or skillet until just crispy. Remove to a plate. Then add a bit more oil to the pan, if needed, and a half cup water, adding more if necessary. Saute the remaining vegetables until just tender. Serve with the tofu.

Edited to add: This is an excellent article on soy, by Jack Norris, RD.

calories: 514
fat: 30 gr
carbs: 33 gr
protein: 27 gr


Soft Serve Chocolate Ice Cream
makes one large serving ~ $.95 per serving

2 bananas, frozen ($.20)
1 cup nut milk ($.40)
2 tbsp powdered rawcocao (or cocoa powder) ($.20)
1/2 tsp vanilla ($.15)
1/2 tsp salt

Break frozen bananas into pieces. Puree until smooth in blender with the nut milk, cacao powder, vanilla and salt. This will have the consistency of a very thick chocolate shake or pretty loose soft serve ice cream. Pop into the freezer for an hour or so to firm up, if desired.

calories: 320
fat: 10 gr
carbs: 54 gr
protein: 4 gr


Total cost for the day: $8.17
total calories: 1416
total fat: 71 gr
total carb: 172 gr
total protein: 34 gr

In the Garden

Starting seeds indoors is easy. But I find taking care of seedlings indoors and giving them optimal conditions can be a bit more challenging. One of the most pressing concerns is how to ensure seedlings are getting enough light. I have grow lights, but I use them mainly for things that I've planted very early, or are more sensitive to cold, like peppers and moonflowers. Nearly everything else will do fine outside on a sunny deck or porch, as long as it's above freezing and they're brought in at night. I germinate my seeds indoors where it's warm, and put them outside as soon as the first seedling pokes through. Getting them out right away also eliminates the need for hardening off.

The larger tomato plants, which I started from seed at the end of February, were transplanted into buckets. These are my best hope for tomatoes in June!

My plant photos turned out less than stellar, so I'll leave you with an image from the book "Sunflower Houses," by Sharon Lovejoy. It's definitely on my reading list.

Monday, April 4, 2011

April 3, 2011

If You Like Pina Coladas Smoothie
serves 2 ~ $2.87 per serving

2 bananas ($.30)
1/2 cup pineapple ($.95)
1 young coconut, meat and water ($3.99)
1/2 cup coconut flakes ($.50)
10 ice cubes

I'm doing a couple recipes today from Bette Shaw. I've known Bette for a while online from Raw Fu and Raw Food Rehab. She recently released a superfoods app for iPhone, which has become one of the top five (sometimes the top one) health and fitness apps at iTunes. Her app features all sorts of different superfoods with related information and recipes. Good job, Bette!

I've cheated here and not used young coconut in what I made and photographed (it was still awesome). I have yet to find a reliable and reasonably priced source for young coconuts and so rarely use them. But I wanted to show you all this recipe anyway. So, I've used the price Bette pays for coconuts in CT.

Put all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

calories: 297
fat: 11 gr
carbs: 50 gr
protein: 4 gr

Cucumber Club
serves 1 ~ $2.08 per serving

1 cucumber ($.59)
1 small onion
1 avocado ($1.49)

This is another recipe idea from Bette. It's so simple and made a great lunch that was both light and filling.

Peel the cucumber and cut in half. Using a spoon or scoop, scrape out the seed cavity and some of the flesh so that it's a hollowed boat. Keep what has been scraped out and chop finely. To that, add one chopped avocado and one finely minced onion. Mix together and use this to fill the cucumber.

calories: 299
fat: 22 gr
carbs: 27 gr
protein: 5 gr

Tomato Soup
serves 2 ~ $2.00 per serving

4 ripe tomatoes ($3.50)
2 cloves garlic, pressed ($.10)
1 medium onion ($.15)
1/4 cup olive oil ($.25)
1 teaspoon basil ($.10)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Penni Shelton is a wonderful raw food inspiration. She started and continues to run Raw Food Rehab, an online raw community. The original group, of which I was a part, served as research for her brand new book, Raw Food Cleanse. As part of her "Foodie Friday" video series, Penni makes delicious raw recipes, and this is one of them.

In a blender, puree the tomatoes, garlic, half the onion, basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes until very smooth. I used 1/4 cup oil, but 1/2 cup does make a creamier soup. Divide between bowls and garnish with chopped onion, a sprinkle of basil, and a bit more red pepper flakes.

calories: 327
fat: 54 gr
carbs: 21 gr
protein: 5 gr

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pudding
serves 2 ~ $1.75 per serving

2 ripe bananas ($.30)
1 ripe avocado ($1.49)
4 tablespoons agave ($.80)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder or carob powder ($.60)
1 tablespoon crushed cacao nibs (optional) ($.30)
pinch salt

Oh, what to do about the chocolate? Like a lot of folks lately, I've had a bit of trouble with chocolate. I was feeling really awful at times this past spring and summer. I had some pretty disturbing symptoms, including stomach upset, anxiety, insomnia, appetite loss, moodiness, etc. It wasn't pretty and was downright scary at times. After some experimenting, I finally connected it to the cacao for certain and have been off it entirely, with the symptoms disappearing entirely ... (until today).

What I learned about chocolate is interesting. Theobromine and phenethylalanine are the two main chemicals in cacao that make us feel good. Both chemicals are metabolized by liver enzymes (called Cytochrome450, or CYP450 enzymes). These enzymes metabolize many exotoxins and endotoxins, including many drugs. This doesn't necessarily make chocolate bad for everyone. The problem for some is that the effectiveness of the enzymes varies somewhat widely between individuals based on genetics. This explains many drug interactions and side effects ... and genetic testing for CYP450 enzymes is becoming more widely available to better predict both.

Some of us (like me) are slow metabolizers of theobromine and phenethylalanine, so repeated use of cacao can cause those chemicals to accumulate to much higher amounts than normal. The theobromine can cause anxiety and insomnia in the short term, and the phyethylalanine can cause changes in dopamine levels which  negatively effect mood in the longer term. Others are normal metabolizers, and some are fast. That's why most people are ok with cacao in reasonable amounts, some will never have a problem with it, and some will have immediate problems ... because we all vary in how we break down those chemicals. If you feel that cacao does or doesn't work well for you, you're probably right.

I decided to have just a little cacao today, though. Theobromine can be a pretty powerful cough suppressant, and I have a horrible cold and am coughing my brains out ... seriously, it was giving me a headache. So I decided to try a little and made this recipe. It did relieve my cough dramatically, but I got some of the stomach symptoms right away. So, chocolate's still mostly off limits for me, even medicinally. But it sure is good ...

In a food processor fitted with an "S" blade, puree all ingredients until very smooth. The nibs will still be a bit chunky, so omit those if you like an even smoother pudding. 

calories: 315
fat: 9 gr
carbs: 60 gr
protein: 4 gr

Total cost for the day: $8.70
total calories: 1,238
total fat: 96 gr
total carb: 158 gr
total protein: 18 gr


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