Feeling 22

Wow, where does the time go? I hate saying it because it’s such a cliche, but I can’t believe it’s August. Mostly because that means my birthday has come and gone…and I guess it’s time to talk about it!

The last four days of my birthday week were the best four days I’ve had in awhile. My family drove 10+ hours each way from Colorado to spend 5 days with me and I had so much fun. I honestly would not have wanted to spend my birthday any other way. And yes, I am feeling 22 😉

I don’t want to bore you with long descriptions of what went down (and believe me, I could go on and on) but I’ll just share some highlights of each day through pictures.

Thursday

My last day of work before an extended  (4 day) weekend. I spent the afternoon running errands, treating myself to an amazing green smoothie and getting my place ready for the fam. Once they got here, we went out to eat at Freebirds, a Chipotle-like place.

This stuff is worth the $7 price tag -- local and DELICIOUS.

This stuff is worth the $7 price tag — local and DELICIOUS.

 

Friday

Running some errands in the morning, pool time and then getting ready for the main event: Center of the Universe. I was SO excited for this alt rock music festival. It was freakin’ hot but Fitz and the Tantrums were incredible, 21 Pilots was also pretty cool (AWOLNATION was there too but we left during their set) and the falafel I got for dinner was amazing.

Getting ready for Fitz with my sissy.

Getting ready for Fitz with my sissy.

High-tech wristbands.

High-tech wristbands.

Watching local act Fiawna Forte from afar.

Watching local act Fiawna Forte from afar.

"Street" falafel, cucumber salad, spicy mango sauce, hummus and cabbage slaw for dinner in the hot hot sun.

“Street” falafel, cucumber salad, spicy mango sauce, hummus and cabbage slaw for dinner in the hot hot sun.

Right next to the famous Cain's ballroom.

Right next to the famous Cain’s ballroom.

The main attraction: Fitz and the Tantrums! So amazing live :)

The main attraction: Fitz and the Tantrums! So amazing live 🙂

 

Saturday

Pool time was a big theme for the day, as well as buying some fun apartment decorations for me. We did some tourist-y sightseeing around town at some landmarks. Dinner was at a taco place downtown — I got some tasty fried avocado tacos with black beans and these delicious roasted sweet potatoes. And then some Netflix and games at my apartment with the fam.

Pretty flowers on a tree.

Pretty flowers on a tree.

Largest praying hands in the world on the campus of ORU.

Largest praying hands in the world on the campus of ORU.

The Golden Driller.

The Golden Driller.

The real Center of the Universe, for which the music festival was named. It's a spot in the middle of a bridge where your voice echoes in a really cool way.

The real Center of the Universe, for which the music festival was named. It’s a spot in the middle of a bridge where your voice echoes in a really cool way.

Sunday

The big day! I really wanted to go for a hike, so we hit Turkey Mountain in the morning for a quick hike with some great views of the city. More pool time since it was so hot and then getting ready for dinner at Laffa, a cool Mediterranean place downtown. I finally got the sweet potato fries I’ve been craving for months! And for the birthday dessert, we stopped at Whole Foods (of course) and then celebrated back home with a few presents (think owl-themed stuff mostly) and games…and more pool time.  

Awww, love this sign.

Awww, love this sign.

Love this view.

Love this view.

My "I need to go hiking more" face.

My “I need to go hiking more” face.

Getting ready for the big birthday dinner.

Getting ready for the big birthday dinner.

Sister selfie.

Sister selfie.

This was called "Forbidden Fruit" and it was incredible. It tasted like fruit punch but it wasn't artificial at all and had some kind of hibiscus-infused vodka in it.

This was called “Forbidden Fruit” and it was incredible. It tasted like fruit punch but it wasn’t artificial at all and had some kind of hibiscus-infused vodka in it.

My dinner spread. Laffa flatbread (which I LOVED, even though it wasn't GF), harissa carrots, cabbage slaw, red pepper hummus and TONS of unpictured sweet potato fries stolen from my dad.

My dinner spread. Laffa flatbread (which I LOVED, even though it wasn’t GF), harissa carrots, cabbage slaw, red pepper hummus and TONS of unpictured sweet potato fries stolen from my dad.

Feeling 22!

Feeling 22!

These candles were too cute to throw away!

These candles were too cute to throw away!

Monday

I was dreading this day because it was the last full day my family was here. But it was a blast! We went to the zoo and literally spent 4 or 5 hours wandering around checking out all the animals and exhibits. It was basically the biggest zoo I’ve ever been to! I got to see tons of my favorite animal — flamingos! And then it was off to a sushi place for dinner (I found a new go-to). 

Really colorful fish.

Really colorful fish.

Polka dotted lizard.

Polka dotted lizard.

My favorite <3

My favorite ❤

This giraffe totally devoured those trees.

This giraffe totally devoured those trees.

My kind of place.

My kind of place.

What’s your favorite zoo animal? What do you like doing for your birthday? 

What I’m Making this Thanksgiving (Vegan and GF)

Thanksgiving is a weird holiday for vegans, vegetarians and a lot of other people with food restrictions. The day is alllllll about the food (and family, and being thankful of course) so it can make things awkward if you can’t or don’t want to partake in the usual T-day fare.

This year will be my third as a vegan (well, 2 years ago I wasn’t quite vegan but my Thanksgiving was) and I’ve come a long way since then in terms of meal planning and finding healthier options. I am not a fan of the fake turkey and other meat options, so I’ll be making plenty of vegan and gluten free side dishes for me and my family to enjoy this year. All the recipes I’m planning on making are very friendly to almost any diet–vegan, gluten free and even paleo people can get in on these recipes and enjoy the holiday without having to compromise their health or moral standards. Note: I plan on making some changes to each of these recipes but feel free to check out the original!

Pumpkin & Pistachio Sweet Potato Fritters via Happy.Healthy.Life. (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

Photo from Whole Foods.

Photo by Whole Foods Market.

Sweet potatoes are possibly my favorite food ever, and paired with pistachios/pumpkin seeds and sauteed in coconut oil is even better. The simple ingredient list is a winner, and I plan on pairing these with some kind of PB and maple sauce.

Maple and Date Brussels Salad via Hummusapien (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

Photo courtesy of A Little Saffron.

Photo courtesy of A Little Saffron.

Another Thanksgiving-perfect side dish. What’s not to love about Brussels sprouts shredded to make a salad, then tossed with some dates and maple syrup?

Garlicky Parsnip Mash (vegan, gluten free, grain free, sugar free) via Affairs of Living

 

Photo by Whole Foods Market.

Photo by Whole Foods Market.

I’ve never been a fan of greasy, glue-y mashed potatoes but if you want the tradition factor without all the unhealthy ingredients, look no further than these white potato imposters! Rich in fiber, potassium and vitamin C, parsnips perfectly imitate fluffy potatoes when blended with a few, whole foods ingredients. If you want a cheesy flavor, toss in some nutritional yeast.

Chia Caramel Pecan Pie via This Rawsome Vegan Life (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free)

Photo courtesy of This Rawsome Vegan Life.

Photo courtesy of This Rawsome Vegan Life.

I love all the recipes I’ve tried from this blog, like I’m literally obsessed. I’ve been wanting to make a raw pecan pie for awhile and Emily from This Rawsome Vegan Life has the perfect, totally decadent, Thanksgiving-dessert worthy option for one. Featuring dates, nuts and chia seeds, this pie is the perfect mix of indulgent and healthy.

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

Forever 21

Finally 21. I usually don’t feel different on my birthday, but this year I did. I feel more mature, more independent. Not just because I can legally drink but also because I’m just a few months away from graduating college. It almost feels like yesterday that I started college as a scared little freshman, and now I’m about to embark on my adult life. Weird.

21 was a birthday I’ve only really looked forward to in the past year or so. Before that, I vowed I would never drink–because the few sips I sampled of my parents’ drinks tasted gross to me. That’s not to say that now I’m 21 I’m going to become a crazy partier. I have no desire to get drunk or drink cheap alcohol. I would much rather sip a glass of white wine while watching a movie at home, or enjoy a fun cocktail at a fancy restaurant.

I did drink on my 21st, but my birthday was more than just about the alcohol. This birthday marked the last time (most likely) I’ll be living at home to celebrate. It’s bittersweet looking back on the past 21 birthdays (obviously the first few I don’t remember)–going to waterparks on my birthday, spending it by the pool in the mountains, watching the Summer Olympics, always going out to eat with my family/friends. I’m going to miss this part of my life.

As I said, my 21st was a lot more than being able to drink in a restaurant–which I definitely did, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I started the day as usual–waking up, checking my phone, enjoying some sweet potato-Sunwarrior-banana softserve with homemade magic shell (hey, had to make it special for my birthday!) and getting ready. I did wake up still sick, with a still-sore throat and irritated eyes, but I’m sick of letting little things ruin my day, so I’m really glad I didn’t let lingering sick feelings make my birthday less than special. And what made it that much more special was the decorations I found once I got downstairs. My parents have always been great about making our birthdays feel fun, no matter what we end up doing, and I’m really grateful for that!

bday decos

Starbucks and shopping were on the agenda…with none other than my sister! Even though we’re really different, we have a lot of things in common–namely our love for the ‘bucks, shopping for clothes (especially at Forever 21), Whole Foods salad bar and alt rock music. All of which we enjoyed together on my birthday 😀 I’m seriously gonna miss that girl when I graduate and I still can’t believe she’s just a year away from college herself! Anyways, we had the best time drinking iced coffees, yelling at stupid drivers, finding the perfect things to buym laughing at the dumbest things and marveling at the giant Whole Foods we ate lunch at.

Breakfast at home. Lunch at Whole Foods. Birthday dessert made by me.

Breakfast at home. Lunch at Whole Foods. Birthday dessert made by me.

The rest of the afternoon was spent making my own birthday dessert. I’d never done that before, but I really wanted to make something that my family and I could all enjoy together. I went with this raw coffee cheesecake and it.was.delicious. My dad even said it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever made, and he’s a total dessert freak! It’s definitely a great dessert to make for raw vegans and non-raw vegans alike, especially if you love coffee. Aaaaaaaand…I got to enjoy a piece for two nights afterwards, so a total winner!

Dinner was what I was looking forward to all day though (other than shopping obviously!) I’d been wanting to go to a tapas place in town since I’d heard they had lot of vegan options, and the fact that they’re 100% gluten free was icing on the cake. I wasn’t sure if my family’d like it, especially my sister who’s pretty picky and likes typical teen food, but they loved it just as much as I did!

Tapas are basically small dishes generally in a Mediterranean or Spanish style that are meant to be shared with others. I’d never had tapas before but since I love eating little bits of a lot of different things (and Mediterranean food!) I knew I’d like it. My family got some dishes with meat or cheese, but I was still able to try a lot of the things we got, like warm olives (love olives!), fresh garlic bread (the best garlic bread I’ve ever had, and GF too!), patatas bravas, artichoke and onion salad and a gazpacho ‘shooter’. Everything was so fresh and tasty–definitely my kinda place. And their sangria was amazing as well. We got two carafes–one was the sangria del dia, which was pineapple orange with white wine and my personal favorite, and the other was a traditional blood orange sangria with white wine. I got carded (of course) but I loved the experience of being able to enjoy a quality drink in a nice atmosphere. And sangria is now my favorite drink!

Gazpacho and sangria del dia.

Gazpacho and sangria del dia.

But the best surprise of the night was when our waiter found out it was my birthday and he let me pick out a dessert for free. I had already made a dessert for us at home, but the chocolate tasting plate sounded too good to pass up, so I ended up sharing that with everyone. It was basically 8 small squares of dark chocolate ranging from 65-85% cacao and it was paired with some blueberries and Marcona almonds. It was some good chocolate, and it went really well with the berries and almonds. So glad I went for the dessert instead of opting out just because I had dessert already planned!

My two loves are evident in my presents: clothes and food.

My two loves are evident in my presents: clothes and food.

Back at home, I opened presents and then we had my birthday cake cheesecake. A few of my presents were total surprises, like the denim shirtdress and Zoku pop maker, but everything I got was something I’ve been wanting for awhile. You know you’re a foodie when you get excited for a popsicle maker and vegetable peelers 😉 And the raw ‘cookbook’ has some really delicious looking recipes so hopefully I can share some with you guys soon! The purse and clothes will also get a lot  of use–this girl can never have too many purses or outfits!

My birthday was one of the best birthdays I’ve had, and it wasn’t just because I got presents I loved or because I could finally order a drink in a restaurant. It was more about the memories I made with my family and the happiness I got from being able to enjoy one last birthday with them.

What made your last birthday special? What’s your ultimate birthday dessert? 

Adventures in Raw: Products I Love

As I’ve been transitioning into and experimenting with a raw foods based diet, I’ve been discovering new products I never knew existed even when I became vegan almost 2 years ago. I’m even finding new-to-me fruits and veggies at the store and it’s making me realize that veganism and even raw foodism isn’t limiting at all–there are millions of possibilities when it comes to food, without relying on animal products.

I’m definitely not a LFRV, so I still include some raw fat and protein sources and I want to share some of those here, as well as produce and seasonings I’ve found to be helpful in transitioning to raw.

Fats

  • Avocados: I can’t believe I used to only eat these in guacamole! Fresh-made guac is still a favorite of mine (my recipe: 1 avocado, juice of half a lime, sprinkle of sea salt, half of a chopped jalapeno, optional cilantro) but I also love taking half of an avocado and drizzling it with raw honey, cinnamon and sea salt. I also want to try out Veggie Nook’s raw coconut-crusted avocado ‘fries’! Avocado is a concentrated source of unsaturated fats, and when added to a salad, can boost the absorption of lycopene and beta-carotene. Even though LFRVs eat overt fats (like avocadoes) rarely, I try to eat a fat or fat-based raw dressing with my salads to boost the vitamin absorption.
  • Cashews: Cashews, though labeled raw, are never truly raw because raw cashews can be poisonous, but I always buy my cashews with the raw label because they are less processed and closer to being raw. Cashews are lower in fat than most nuts, but still provide plenty of monounsaturated fats, and add a creamy texture to raw desserts and dressings. I soak them before using them, and then blend them to make raw cheesecakes or raw dressings and sauces.
Raw key lime cheesecake with a soaked cashews base.

Raw key lime cheesecake with a soaked cashews base.

  • Almonds: Almonds are also a good source of heart-healthy fats, but they also provide trace minerals such as manganese and copper, which are beneficial to a raw diet. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein. I use them in making raw brownies, raw granola and raw almond butter.
  • Coconut: Possibly my favorite raw source of fat, other than cashews. I used to be scared of coconut’s high concentration of saturated fats, but the fat in coconuts is a lot different than animal fats. It’s also much healthier than vegetable-based oils like canola and soy and is very versatile. I use coconut oil in some raw desserts and it makes a quick dressing, coconut butter is great with dates and other fruit, coconut flour is high in fiber and makes a good thickener in smoothies and coconut flakes are amazing for raw coconut bacon!
  • Flax crackers: These are a really great alternative to wheat-based crackers and since they come in a variety of flavors (plus you can make them at home with a dehydrator or oven turned low), they can be paired with almost any dip or sauce. I love the Food on Purpose brand sold at Whole Foods (they’re made in NM, so they may only be sold in nearby states) and the Flackers brand which are on Amazon. They’ve got way more fiber and protein than traditional crackers and are a good source of omega-3s.

Produce

  • Greens: Leafy greens should be an essential part of anyone’s diet, but especially a raw foodie’s. It’s great to get a variety of greens to load up on certain vitamins and minerals, but if you prefer some over others, that’s okay! I personally love spinach, romaine lettuce, kale and bok choy. They make great bases for salads and also work well in green smoothies blended with fruit.
  • Bananas: The staple of many raw foodies, these are often eaten in abundance on a raw food diet, but don’t have to be. They provide a lot of potassium and a feeling of fullness, which helps on a lower fat raw diet where you don’t have many fats to fill you up. I prefer freezing my bananas and then blending them into banana ‘ice cream’.
cacao banana softserve with raw mocha brownie bites and coconut flakes

Cacao banana ‘ice cream’ (made with frozen banana, cacao powder, lucuma powder, 1/2 packet raw vanilla protein powder) topped with homemade mocha raw brownie bites and coconut flakes.

  • Berries: These are the superfoods of the fruit world, and for good reason! Blueberries are especially full of antioxidants and having anti-aging benefits, raspberries are very high in fiber, strawberries provide 150% DV for vitamin C and blackberries are high in folic acid and manganese. Other berries, like acai and goji, are also nutritional powerhouses and generally come in powdered or dried form, but all berries are amazing little fruits!
  • Zucchini: Zucchini has a lot of uses in the raw food world, from ‘noodles’ to hummus. I’ve even made a raw cheesecake with zucchini in it (recipe below–and trust me, you couldn’t taste it). Its neutral flavor lends itself to working well in many dishes, and it pairs well with bolder flavors.
  • Kelp: Kelp and other sea veggies are usually a hidden treasure of Asian cuisine that many raw foodists rely on to get enough trace minerals. Kelp in particular is a great source of iodine, and since many health-conscious people choose sea salts over table salt, they may be missing out on iodine without sea veggies in their diet. Kelp flakes are a great way to season without using salt, and kelp noodles are a rice-noodle like substitute that I personally love!
Raw kelp noodle pad Thai at Tasty Harmony.

Raw kelp noodle pad Thai at Tasty Harmony.

Protein

  • Sunwarrior (warrior blend) protein powder: Raw vegan protein powder isn’t just a dream–it’s a reality with Sunwarrior’s warrior blend. Their protein blend is made up of raw pea, hemp and cranberry proteins (so it’s grain free too!) and is sweetened only with stevia, making it a lot healthier than a lot of other protein powders out there. I love that one scoop is just 80 calories but provides 15 grams of protein, which really boosts my protein intake on raw days. It’s a bit high in sodium but that comes from some sea salt and the raw proteins. I prefer the chocolate flavor and love it in smoothies, chia puddings and blended with frozen bananas for a higher protein raw ice cream.
  • Sprouted beans and lentils: On a truly raw, 80-10-10 style vegan diet, protein is only consumed through fruits and greens, but a lot of raw vegans and other vegans like to sprout legumes to make them easier to digest. I have yet to sprout my own beans, but I really want to make some sprouted lentil burgers soon!
  • Sprouted quinoa/buckwheat/wild rice: These pseudograins are way more nutrient packed than wheat, and provide more protein than many other gluten free grains. They’re all technically seeds, making them okay for a grain free diet and when sprouted, are even easier to digest. I like sprouted quinoa for salads, and I usually soak raw buckwheat groats before I make them into granola in the dehydrator.

And now onto the raw cheesecake recipe! I don’t have a picture for it right now, but mine looks a lot like this picture I found on Tastespace. I’ve already made a raw key lime pie cheesecake and I wanted to do a take on a classic chocolate cheesecake, but with a nutrient boost from the zucchini. It adds no flavor but a great creamy texture and secret nutrition!

Raw chocolate cheesecake from Tastespace.

Raw chocolate cheesecake ,photo from Tastespace. (my own recipe)

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake (vegan, gluten free, raw, grain free)

1 cup almonds (can sub walnuts)

drizzle coconut oil

2 tbsp +4 tbsp raw cacao or carob powder

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours

3 tbsp maple syrup (can sub coconut nectar for truly raw version)

1/2 small zucchini, chopped

sea salt, to taste

In a food processor or high powered blender, process almonds until crumbly. Add in coconut oil, 2 tbsp cacao powder and raisins until mixture forms a sticky ball. You may need to add a bit (up to 2 tbsp) water or additional raisins. Place this crust mixture into a lined 8″ cake pan and set in freezer for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blend cashews, maple syrup, zucchini, 4 tbsp cacao powder and sea salt in food processor. Blend or process until as smooth as possible.  Add additional sweetener or cacao as desired. Pour cheesecake mixture onto crust and return to freezer for a few hours or overnight. Remove from freezer for a few minutes before serving and top with fresh berries. Makes 8 small slices. 

What are your favorite sources of raw fats, produce and protein? 

ABCs of Raw

Checking in from my vacation with a raw foods survey!

A…preferred way to eat Avocados:  Definitely homemade guac, made with fresh jalapeno, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and sea salt.

B…daily Banana intake:  I’m definitely no 30 bananas a day person. I maybe eat one in a day, but not every day, and usually in frozen or banana softserve form.

C…Cacao or carob:  Cacao! I’ve actually never had carob, and while I know cacao can be controversial in the raw foodist world for its caffeine content, I love the taste and health benefits of cacao too much to care.

D…Durian?:  Never tried it, and I’ve heard it’s quite awful from a guy my dad said tried it.

E…Essential start to the day:  Water, multivitamin (I get the Alive! brand, which has a pretty clean ingredient list and a decent amount of calcium, plus greens) and breakfast. Lately I’ve been eating raw flax pancakes for b-fast (recipe coming soon!) and loving how easy it is to whip together.

raw flax pancakes

F…favorite Fruit:  Gosh, so hard. Right now, I’m loving cold watermelon, and champagne mangoes. Berries are finally tasting amazing again too!

G…Guru you like:  I don’t really know any raw food gurus, but I love Brendan Brazier and his Thrive Forward program. My one wish for Vega products is that they could have a raw protein powder product!

H…Healthy meal: Kelp noodles massaged in raw cashew cilantro dressing, topped with fresh greens, homemade guac and hemp seeds…aka super green kelp bowl!

Mmmm, green!

Mmmm, green!

I…Ice cream base:  Banana, but I really want to try Organic Nectars’ raw cashew gelato!

J…Juice or smoothies: Smoothies for sure, especially green monster ones made with chocolate Sunwarrior and frozen banana.

K…favorite way to eat Kale:  Dehydrated kale chips, homemade or store-bought.

L…# of Lemons in your house now:  1 I think…

M…Muscle testing–hoax or real?:  Never heard of it, but it seems like an interesting (if not totally accurate) way of determining imbalances in the body and food sensitivities.

N…Nut butter–favorite kind:  Cashew or almond, preferably raw.

O…Organic or conventional:  I try to buy organic when I can, especially the dirty dozen, but I usually pass if it’s too expensive and is in the clean fifteen.

P…Pickled veggies–ever made them?:  No, but I want to! The WF salad bar has these awesome clean bread and butter pickles and I want to recreate those.

Q…Questions you get asked about your diet:  Mostly, “What is that?” when someone sees what I’m eating. Plants, people. It’s not that foreign.

R…Recipe you love:  Raw maple cinnamon French toast, where I got the inspiration for my raw French toast!

raw french toast+ raw coconut bacon+raw honey, Sunwarrior chocolate coconut mousse+raspbs

S…Skin brushing?:  Nope, but I’ve heard it has benefits for poor circulation, so I want to try it on my feet.

T…Type of water you drink:  Nothing fancy, from the tap usually. We have really good water in Colorado, so I’m not too concerned that it isn’t filtered or whatever.

U…Unbelievable thing that’s related to eating raw:  I love feeling so light and energized after eating a raw meal!

V…Vegetable you love:  Spinach is my number one love at the moment. I also love carrots (the ‘real’ ones are so much better than baby carrots) and raw purple cauliflower.

W…Why did you start eating raw?:  I wanted to try something new, and I’ve always loved fresh produce.

X…X-rated fruit or vegetable:  Haha, this is super funny and awkward. People always think bananas are sexual, but carrots can be kinda…awkward.

Uh...yeah...

Uh…yeah…

Y…Yummy food you make:  Um, everything? But really, probably most of my raw dessert recipes, especially the classic raw brownie.

Z…favorite use of Zucchinis:  Zucchini noodles…I need a spiralizer, NOW!

Answer any of the above!

WIAW: Going Raw-ish

One of my goals for the summer is to eat more raw. Now, I’m not saying I’m following the 80-10-10 lifestyle, or anything like that, but I’ve been genuinely curious about the raw food diet for quite awhile, and now that I have many of the ‘tools of the trade’ (a good food processor, a dehydrator) and it’s summer, I’ve been trying to eat at least one raw or high raw (80-99% raw) meal per day and on Monday, I ate pretty much entirely raw, aside from one square of Alter Eco chocolate, a peanut butter Larabar (peanuts aren’t raw) and some peanut flour in my kelp noodle salad, and I felt really energized throughout the day, despite the heat and being at my internship for the afternoon. I’m definitely not planning on eating raw all day every day, but it’s nice to get a break from cooking, especially when it’s hot out. It literally took me just a few minutes to put my meals together and plate them!

With that said, here’s some raw meals and snacks I’ve been enjoying lately. These weren’t all from one day, but I’ve been eating at least one raw meal a day for probably the past week and loving it!

Image

Breakfast: raw ‘French toast’ topped with raw coconut ‘bacon’ and raw honey. Side of chocolate Sunwarrior+coconut cream ‘mousse’ topped with fresh raspberries.

I’ve been wanting to make over a traditional breakfast food in a raw way for awhile. I attempted pancakes, but they got too hard in the dehydrator overnight. I wanted to make waffles, but the recipe seemed complicated. When I found a recipe for raw French toast, I was intrigued. It seemed simple enough, and I had everything on hand. It didn’t turn out perfect, but it held together quite well after a few hours in the dehydrator and tasted delish topped with raw coconut ‘bacon’ and a drizzle of raw honey. A side of raw protein mousse made the breakfast complete, and a definite repeat meal.

Raw French Toast with Coconut ‘Bacon’ (vegan, gluten free, grain free, raw)

1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats

5 pitted dates

1/4 cup flaked coconut 

coconut aminos and liquid smoke, to taste (for non-raw version, can use tamari)

In a food processor or blender, grind groats into fine meal. Add in dates and process until mixture is sticky. Add in more dates or a little water as needed. Shape mixture into 4 small rectangles and place on a nonstick dehydrator sheet (or parchment paper). Dehydrate at 115 for 3-6 hours, or until mixture holds together. 

In a bowl, mix coconut flakes, coconut aminos and liquid smoke until combined. Spread coconut on nonstick dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 115 for 1-2 hours, or until crisp.

Serve raw French toast soaked in raw coconut or almond milk and top with coconut bacon and coconut nectar (or raw honey, for non-vegan version). 

Raw desserts > regular desserts.

Raw desserts > regular desserts.

I love Hail Merry’s line of raw nuts and raw Miracle Tarts, but my Whole Foods only ever carries the chocolate and Meyer lemon and I’ve been dying to try the other flavors. When my mom took me to Natural Grocers to check out their prices and selection, I was blown away by their raw food selection. Not only did they have amazing raw ‘caramel’ chocolate cheaper than Whole Foods (Righteously Raw brand, BTW!) but they also had a few more Miracle Tart flavors. I had to get the chocolate almond butter, of course, and it reminded me of a more decadent PB cup! I loved the raw almond butter filling and the chocolate mousse-like outside. I will be making a trip back to Natural Grocers for sure…and not just for their raw desserts!

Enjoying the sun before the storm.

Enjoying the sun before the storm.

I’ve been trying to get outside as much as possible, whether to lay out for half an hour or just enjoy a meal outside in the sunshine. We’ve been having some random weather (it was 90 degrees on Monday, then yesterday it got cloudy and rained, today it’s supposed to be like 60…what’s up, Colorado?) so I’ve been going outside when it’s been nice and hoping for even warmer weather.

Nori 'burrito' filled with spinach, sprouted tofu, raw kimchi and homemade raw cilantro cashew cream.

Nori ‘burrito’ filled with spinach, sprouted tofu, raw kimchi and homemade raw cilantro cashew cream.

This is another ‘high raw’ meal, because apparently sprouted tofu is generally made from cooked and sprouted soybeans, but I ate it raw (aka right out of the package, seasoned with coconut aminos) so it counts, right? I’ve been liking tofu a lot more lately but I’m wanting to go back to tempeh, since it’s a healthier form of soy and it’s higher in protein than tofu. I used to love tempeh, but after getting sick early last summer, I haven’t wanted to touch it since for some reason.

Blue skies.

Blue skies.

We got some sun yesterday morning before the clouds and thunder rolled in and rain dumped on us for a solid 15 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, it was much-needed and appreciated, but I would have liked a little more sunshine and a little less thunder and lightning. Oh well, thunderstorms are pretty much a part of life in the summers here.

Muscle progress?

Muscle progress?

I’ve been continuing with my lifting routine, doing arm and shoulder focused routines a few times a week at least and I’ve been seeing some more progress. My biceps are more defined and my triceps are a lot stronger and firmer now (they’re pretty hard even when I barely flex now) and I’m even getting some definition in my shoulders and back. I’m not lifting heavy by any means, but I’m still loving the progress I’m making. Eating clean and working out almost daily (with more regular rest days now) are really making me fitter! I would love to work out my legs too, but since I don’t have gym access, I can’t really use any machines and just have to focus on yoga and cardio to tone my legs.

High raw powerbowl for dessert. Chocolate Sunwarrior+peanut flour base (mixed with coconut milk) and topped with strawberries, crumbled Hail Merry chocolate almond butter tart and raw coconut butter.

High raw powerbowl for dessert. Chocolate Sunwarrior+peanut flour base (mixed with coconut milk) and topped with strawberries, cacao nibs, crumbled Hail Merry chocolate almond butter tart and raw coconut butter.

When I first bought Sunwarrior and coconut butter, I thought they’d be a huge waste of money. I wasn’t in love with either of them and I used them just to get rid of them. But lately I’ve been loving them like crazy and using them daily. The coconut butter (Artisana brand) is even better now that it’s summer and the heat of my house makes it a little melty. And the Sunwarrior makes the perfect protein-packed base for raw powerbowl desserts. I’ve been eating these powerbowls at least once a day and they’re still not getting old. And they’re a lot easier to make than most raw desserts!

Has it been sunny where you live? If you had to pick one meal to eat raw, what would it be?

Cuckoo for Cacao

Ever wondered what’s the difference between cacao and cocoa? Up until about a year ago, I had only heard of and used cocoa powder but as I’ve gotten more into experimenting with raw foods, I learned about cacao and it’s many health benefits.

First, both products come from the cacao bean, grown in South American, and where we get chocolate from. Cocoa is usually ground up, sometimes dutch-processed and can include a bit of cacao butter in it to enhance the flavor. Cacao, on the other hand, is completely raw, sugar free and full of antioxidants.

When I used to use cocoa powder, I’d always buy the Hershey’s Special Dark variety, since it was fuller in flavor than the regular version. But it was made from a mix of dutched and naturals cocoas, so it wasn’t quite as unprocessed as it could be, plus it wasn’t raw.

I discovered truly raw cacao powder after I had started making raw desserts. I’m obviously not 100% raw, so often my raw desserts aren’t completely raw, but I figured that switching to raw cacao would be beneficial. And I ended up liking the taste more. It was richer, more complex and actually sweeter, despite having no added sugar. It worked just as well in raw recipes, so I decided to switch to just using that, despite the slightly higher price tag (and I also was having a hard time finding the dark cocoa powder), because it has more iron and antioxidants than plain cocoa.

Cacao nibs are also a favorite of mine. I love the Navitas Naturals brand (I get the cacao sweet nibs which are lightly sweetened with organic cane juice) because they’re fairly inexpensive and are a healthier alternative to dark chocolate chips. I eat them straight-up, in nut butter stuffed dates and use them in raw recipes.

If you need a chocolate or granola fix, but are looking for something that fits into your clean eating or raw diet, I’ve got the perfect option for you…Crunchy Cacao Buckwheat Rawnola. It’s easy to make (you don’t even need a dehydrator if you don’t own one), has only 4 simple and healthy ingredients and is perfect for those chocolate and cereal cravings. Buckwheat is another superfood, and is actually not related to wheat at all. It’s gluten free, and not really a grain but a seed (like quinoa) so it has a higher protein and fiber content than many other grains. 1/4 cup of raw buckwheat groats has 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, which makes it a great option for vegetarians and vegans who want to bump up their protein content. The best part about this rawnola is that it’s oil-free and only has a bit of added sugar in the form of maple syrup, which is a lot better than most granola brands on the market. And you make it yourself, so you get to control what goes in it. So you can definitely change up the flavor profile, but having the raw cacao powder in there means more antioxidants and who doesn’t love chocolate?

cacao buckwheat rawnola

Crunchy Cacao Buckwheat Rawnola (vegan, gluten free, grain free, raw)

1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats, soaked overnight 

1-2 tbsp raw cacao powder

1-2 tsp maple syrup (for raw option, use raw honey or agave)

stevia, to taste

Drain water off groats and dry with a towel. Place soaked groats in a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. The groats should be wet enough to soak in the cacao powder. Spoon cacao groats onto dehydrator trays (alternatively, you can put them in the oven on the lowest heat setting with the door open for a few hours) and let dehydrate at 115 degrees overnight, or at least 6 hours. Enjoy the rawnola with almond milk, over fruit or just plain. Makes 2 servings. 

What is your favorite ‘superfood’? Have you ever made granola with something other than oats?

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #44 and Raw Food Thursdays.