Saturday, April 17, 2010

Raw Wonderfulness

Go on outside, honey, and pick yourself some sour cream!

Another thing that's been making me smile lately is fast and fabulous and delicious-tasting raw food recipes! I know that some raw food recipes can be really involved, but I like to leave those to the raw foodies. I prefer simple, since I don't do a total raw diet; I don't have a dehydrator and some of the other things that the dedicated raw foodists like to use. But here's the thing. I hope no one will let themselves miss out on fabulous food - vegan or raw or otherwise - just because they don't ascribe to the whole diet or philosophy.



One thing I love about the raw dishes that I've had recently is that they are packed, packed, packed with flavor. That is something that I insist on in my own vegan cooking. NO BLAND FOOD. Time and experience in my own kitchen has made me comfortable enough to experiment and add more flavor as necessary. I often double or triple the garlic called for in some recipes. Nutritional yeast, my own dry soup base that I mix up, onions, tamari, ginger, and lots of herbs are regulars in all my cooking. The raw recipes I've had lately are no different and the ones I'm going to share with you have made their way into regular cirulation. Especially the "Sunflower Seed Sour Cream."



About two months ago, I went out to dinner to a local Mexican restaurant in Sarasota called Mi Pueblo. They had recently begun advertising that they had an organic, raw, vegan menu. Let me tell you, that any time I find a restaurant that serves more than salads and veggie burgers as vegetarian options I have to check it out - especially when it's not just one or two veg dishes on the menu, but an entire menu from which to actually choose!! Dreamy.



(There is, by the way, another Sarasota restaurant that I can highly recommend to my vegan friends. This one is Thai and is called Taste of Asia. It's downtown on Main Street and they too have an entire vegan menu. Wonderful selections and really delicious food!!)



So I ordered the raw tacos at Mi Pueblo and they were fantastic! I immediately fell in love with their sunflower seed sour cream and knew I had to find something like it to use at home. I also loved their taco "meat" which was made from pine nuts. I actually had a recipe at home that was similar, made from walnuts that a neighbor shared with me. She'd given me a sample that I loved, but I just hadn't made it myself yet.



The beautiful thing about the raw food is that not only are the recipes a snap to make, but after the meal, I felt just right. I was totally satisfied (the carrot-pineapple-ginger juice was a knock-out too! A perfect, sunny, orange addition to my meal) hunger-wise and yet felt light - not heavy or over-stuffed at all - even after I cleaned my plate! :)



BTW, this may be a mental thing, but whenever I drink fresh juice, have a great, green smoothie, or eat raw, delightful food, I just fairly feel that I am vibrating with good energy. It literally feels like the sunny vitamins go straight to the bloodstream and my body just says, "Mmmmmm!"



So, here are some of the delicious things I've been enjoying lately:



Sunflower Seed Sour Cream



1 cup water

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

4 T lemon juice

3/4 t onion powder

1 heaping t minced garlic

3/4 t salt



Blend in blender until smooth and creamy.



That's it!! So delicious. It's a great alternative to the often over-used soy products that act as dairy alternatives. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to have them, but I love a variety of options. This lasts a while in your fridge. I've used it so far on bean burritos, raw tacos, spooned over potatoes, and thinned and poured over salad greens. Wonderful!



Walnut Taco Meat



2 c soaked walnuts, strained

1 T cumin

1 T coriander

1 - 2 T shoyu or tamari (though I don't know if tamari is strictly raw)

1/4 c cilantro

1/2 c fresh cut corn (optional)



Pulse all in a food processor.



Brilliant! This is SO good. My dh doesn't care for cilantro, though, so next time I will make it without for him. I've been eating this on top of salads too.



This next one is from the January 2010 issue in Vegetarian Times Magazine.



Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars



1 1/2 c pitted dates

1/3 c raw, unsweetened cocoa powder (I just used the cocoa powder I had; likely not raw)

1/3 c whole chia seeds

1/2 t vanilla extract, optional

1/4 t almond extract, optional

1 c raw slivered almonds or raw shelled pistachios

Oat flour for dusting (optional)



Place dates in a food processor; puree until thick paste forms. Add cocoa powder, chia seeds, and vanilla and almond extracts, if using. Pulse until all ingredients are combined. Add almonds; pulse until nuts are finely chopped and well distributed through date mixture.



Spread large sheet of wax paper on work surface, and dust with oat flour, if using. Transfer date mixture to wax paper and use paper to press mixture into 1/2 inch-thick rectangle. Wrap tightly, and chill overnight.



Unwrap block, and cut into 8 bars. Dust edges and sides with oat flour, if using, to prevent sticking. Rewrap each bar in wax paper.



Here's how I made them: I used regular cocoa powder, because that's what I had. Also, I couldn't find raw almond slivers, only blanched ones, so they had to do. I used both the almond extract and vanilla, but will likely use only the vanilla next time as the almond flavoring was a bit overpowering for my older dd, though younger loves them! I didn't use oat flour and only had parchment paper - not wax. I didn't have any trouble with sticking. I did have to add a bit of water to my recipe. I had 1/2 fresh dates and 1/2 were older and drier, so I think that was why. But they turned out great and I like to have them for snacks and eat one about a half hour before a run.



I'll share more fun, raw finds as they come along and I give them a try. There are loads of sources for raw recipes on the web. I just like to pick and choose when I have the time. Try some of these or share some of your easy favorites in the comments!
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