Work and walnuts.

18 Jan

Dearest readers and perusers alike!

I have countless ideas to blog about and recipes to share, but have yet to find the time to sit down and dedicate myself to writing. I hope you’ll keep checking back and know that I will post something soon – I’m just busy volunteering and working a full time job… of finding a full time job. I know there’s a lot of us out there in the same boat. Hang in there; something good is coming our way.

With that, I’m off, but here’s a little snack that I enjoy and that will hopefully keep you tied over:

If you eat bananas and you eat walnuts, try eating them together (at the same time). Absolutely delicious as a snack on the go; alternatively,get fancy and slice the banana, throw in a handful of walnuts and sprinkle with raw carob powder! Yum. This is a great “brain” snack – full of potassium and essential fatty acids to keep you at your peak performance!

Celery Root (and a soup!)

7 Dec
Celery Root

Celery Root

Celery root. Also known as celeriac. It’s knobby and unattractive (to some), but don’t let that fool you. It’s full of flavour and an impressive nutrient profile (fibre and vitamin C and K especially).

Yes, it does have a nice celery flavour, but without all the pesticides you’ll find on celery stalks (green celery is listed as one of the worst on the EWG guide, as seen in an earlier post). Celeriac also lends a nice creaminess to whatever your cooking, which is why I’m going to share a soup recipe with you. The other great thing about celeriac is that you’ll find it throughout the fall and winter! Low carbon footprint food choice, yipee!

Although it looks like it would be hard to chop (like a turnip is), it’s actually quite easy to cut through. Peeling on the other hand, that’s a different story. There are all kinds of tiny crevices that hold soil and stringy parts of the root, but once you peel around those you’ll get a nice smooth root veggie.

A peeled and chopped celery root

Easy fall harvest soup: Celery Root and Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients
1 large butternut squash (about 5 cups roasted)
1 small celery root
1 small parsnip (< 5 inches)
5.5-6 cups water
1 clove garlic, roasted
1 tablespoon cumin
2-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on how lemony you like it!)

Step one: wash outside of squash, cut in half, remove seeds, and place in oven at 350 F. Add a clove of garlic for 15-20 minutes then remove and let cool before peeling (keep an eye on the garlic as you don’t want it to burn). Put the squash on before you do anything else as it can take up to 1 hour to tenderize (to become easily pierced with a fork).

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Step two: saute the celery root with cumin (in a dry pot, as to toast the cumin. Add water a little at a time to prevent burning).

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Step three: add 5 1/2 to 6 cups water, chopped parsnip, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes (or until celery root is easily pierced with a fork).

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Step four: while waiting for water to boil and veggies to tenderize, your squash should hopefully be ready for you to peel and chop. If roasted enough, the skin should peel off pretty easily.

Steps five and six: Roughly chop the squash and add to the soup pot. You should get about 5 cups of squash – maybe a little more. Add the roasted garlic and then let it all simmer for 5-10 minutes to get the flavours melded (cook the squash a little longer if you feel it needs to soften up a bit more)before moving on to step six . Step six is when you turn off the pot, add the 2-5 tablespoons lemon juice (add to your liking)) and fresh ground pepper. Then, begin to transfer the soup, ladle by ladle into your blender. CAREFUL not to overfill your blender and then have hot soup splash up on you. You’ll also want a little hole in the blender (remove the cap – see photo below) to allow steam to escape.

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Add the squash to the soup, along with lemon juice and pepper.

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keep the top hole open and place a dishcloth over top as you’re blending to allow steam to escape.

Once you blend the soup, a few cups at a time (depending on blender size) you’ll end up with a nice, creamy orange/yellowy soup. You may need to add additional cumin, salt, pepper, or lemon juice (taste test to find out!).

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Enjoy this quick and easy soup! Here are some additional things you could do to round out the meal:

-blend cooked white beans (navy, great northern, lima, etc) into the soup for some added protein and creaminess
-add sweet potato and/or carrots at the same time as the parsnip
-blend fresh parsley in for some added flavour
-serve with an organic corn tortilla, toasted in your oven or in a pan

Beyond Sushi: Exploring (other) Sea Veggies

8 Nov Westies out harvesting some seaweed on Vancouver Island.

I heart seaweed.

Kombu, nori, alaria, dulse, agar-agar… I love these and more. I was thinking the other day, while enjoying some lentil soup with pieces of seaweed in it, that perhaps not everyone knows about the joys of seaweed. I’m here to describe some of them and inspire you to add them to your next soup, salad, or snack!

Seaweed is more than just those shiny sheets that sit around your sushi. There are several types of seaweeds, all filled with their own nutrient profiles, including iodine.

Most people know about the importance of iodine. Remember those photos from your high school biology books of a man with a  huge lump in his throat? He developed a goiter because of iodine deficiency. Iodized salt was created in the early 20th century, which saw a dramatic drop in cases of goiter. An unsightly lump on your neck are only the physical signs; iodine deficiency can manifest into hypothyroidism  severe mental fatigue, and other health problems (see here). To sum up, iodine is an important mineral!

Since the sea salt health craze of the past 10+ years, coupled with nutrient poor soil, some health professionals worry that people aren’t getting enough iodine as they should be in their daily diets. There is no idoine in sea salt (unless it’s been added, and I’ve been hard pressed to find one such brand). Here’s where seaweed comes in: most types are naturally full of iodine!  So, how can you start taking advantage of this nutrient dense sea vegetable? Read on! (recipes ideas are purple and underlined)

Dulse

  •  dulse flakes and granules can be sprinkled over your foods as a salt replacement. This is a great option for folks, especially older ones, who have heart and blood pressure issues and need to reduce their sodium intake, but still want that salty taste. You only need a few sprinkles — 1 tsp (21 g) will get you 220% of your daily intake for iodine!
  • You can find dulse in its whole form too. It is much “lighter” feeling than other seaweeds and thus easy to tear by hand. Some like to eat it raw as a snack, but I love it in soups, especially veggie soup or lentil soup seasoned with thyme, oregano, marjoram, parsley, and a hint of lemon juice.

Alaria (the North American wakame)

  • I love alaria in soup. I take a few of the 5 inch strips pictured below and cut them into thirds or quarters and throw into my pot of soup along with the veggies, bring to a boil, then simmer (1 strip per 2-3 cups water is a good guideline, but experiment, see if you like the flavour and texture before dumping the whole package in). They plump up beautifully in brothy soups adding a nice green colour and an amazing texture. Finding a piece of alaria in my bowl of soup stirs up the feeling of finding $5 in a coat pocket many months after wearing it. You might not experience the same reaction ; ), but you’ll never know unless you add some to your next pot of soup. 

Nori 

  • Everyone knows about nori, right? It’s what your sushi usually comes wrapped in. It is probably the most palatable of seaweeds because of its common use in society. It’s not just for sushi though! Cut up or crumble into salads, soups, and stirfrys; place strips on your sandwiches; munch on as a snack (I once witnessed a toddler doing exactly that… be still my whole foods heart!); or, my favourite, mash up avocado or nut butter and roll up the nori sheet around it. The opportunities are endless!

Kombu and Kelp (nature’s beano?)

  • Kombu is a member of the kelp family and you may recognize its name if you’ve ever read the ingredients on a tin of Eden Organics beans. They add kombu to their beans, and I think you should too. Why? Kombu has minerals in it that increase their  digestibility (nature’s beano if you will?).  Next time you’re cooking with dried beans, add a 3 inch piece of kombu seaweed to the pot. I remove it when the beans are just about done (i.e. have another 15 minutes to go). I usually discard the used kombu, but others suggest keeping it in there for flavouring.
  • You can also use flaked kelp in your salt shaker, like I suggested with dulse above.

Arame

  • One of the richest sources of iodine, I find it to be the stringiest and most mild tasting of all the sea veggies I’ve tasted. I really enjoy it in salads. Simply soak the arame in water until it becomes tender, drain, and add to your dish of choice (no need to cook). It’s great in a bowl of steamed veggies (broccoli and kale especially), grated carrot and this simple sauce:
    1.5-2 TB coconut aminos (or tamari sauce for the soy tolerant), 1 TB toasted sesame oil (plain sesame oil will not be the same. you’ve been warned) and 1/2 clove of garlic, grated. Whisk all that together and pour over your bowl! Mmmm.

Agar Agar

  • Is this a new one for you? I started using it last year. It is a great gelatin (i.e. ground up animal bone) replacement (and arguably a better one, not just for ethical reasons, but because it doesn’t melt and lends a firmer texture). I’ve made fruit moulds  “jell-os,” puddings, and cranberry sauces with it.  As Paul Prithford tells us, “agar-agar (aka agar and kanten in Japan) is a product of several types of seaweeds, collectively classified as ‘agarophytes’.” The agar-agar we buy is usually a combination of three or so of the agarophytes. The agarophtyes “grow at varying depths of 15-200 feet into fern-like fronds waving in browns, reds, and purples or into feather-like red blades up to three feet long. Hundreds of years ago, the Chinese and Japanese discovered how to freeze-dry and dehydrate the fronds until they became transparent and could be formed into kanten bars and readily used as gelatin.”
  • Agar comes in a powdered form, or in flakes, and is completely odourless and tasteless. I’ve only used the powdered form. The basic gelling guidelines: to set 1 cup of water or fruit juice, use 1 teaspoon agar powder. 1 tablespoon of agar flakes = 1 teaspoon. 
  • Note that agar will not set in wine vinegars, or foods with high amounts of oxalic acid (spinach, chocolate, rhubard). I’ve also read that certain fruits, such as pineapples and fresh figs (among others) contain certain enzymes that inhibit the gelling process, so keep that in mind. I’ve used agar with grape juice, apple juice, orange juice, water, cranberries, bananas, strawberries, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, agave syrup, and raisins and never had a problem!

  • Basic fruit juice mould (‘Jell-O’) instructions:
    take 1/2 cup of grapejuice (or juice of choice, this one is good because it is so sweet), put it in a saucepan, sprinkle in 1 tsp agar until it softens. Then turn the heat on, up to medium or high and whisk constantly while adding another 1/2 cup juice (for 1 cup in total).  Stir until the agar is all completely dissolved (no lumps!!!) and the juice is starting to bubble. Remove from heat, and let cool a little (continue to STIR every now and again so it doesn’t firm up on you) before pouring into a bowl or dish of choice and placing in fridge to set. You can experiment with making a fruit mould by laying out some sliced fruit of choice in a deep dish and pouring said mixture over top (after it has cooled a few minutes) then placing in fridge.The juice or mould will start to gel/harden right away, but keep it in the fridge until completely solid (especially if making a fruit mould because you’ll want to invert the dish so the mould will pop out!). The first time I experimented with agar I used too much and thus the fruit juice was super hard (but still delicious). I was afraid the little amount I was using wouldn’t set… don’t make the same mistake! 1 teaspoon powder is enough for 1 cup of heated liquid.

Westies out harvesting some seaweed on Vancouver Island.

As an aside, some seaweeds are beneficial in removing radioactive and toxic wastes from the body, while others are actually high in dangerous contaminants like inorganic arsenic and mercury (mostly due to human contamination of the oceans). To avoid worry, I suggest buying from a reputable source that tests for heavy metals, chemicals, and bacteria. I am partial to Maine Coast, but there are other brands out there. You can also buy local seaweed if you live on a coast, or harvest your own, but be sure to do your research on potential contaminants.

There are many sea veggies I didn’t touch on (e.g. irish moss, laver, sea lettuce), but don’t be afraid to explore them. Health food stores are a good source of exploration. Enjoy all seaweeds for their varying levels of iodine, but also for their vitamin A, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, taste, and versatility!

(Disclaimer: my posts are not medical advice. They are devised from my own research and sometimes from conversations with health professionals. Please seek out a health-care professional if you’re considering major changes in your diet/lifestyle, or if you are seeking a formal diagnosis of some sort.)

Making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out whose toxic or not!: Pesticides and your produce!

6 Nov

If I were to ask you, “Would you avoid exposure to harmful chemicals if given the choice?” what would you say? I’m willing to bet my organic apples that most of you would say “Yes.” Today’s post is going to help you make that choice.

But first, what are these chemicals that could be hiding behind those celery stalks and apples at your neighbourhood supermarket:

Pesticides – a blanket term for all those chemicals used to kill weeds, fungas, insects and others (fungicides, herbicides, etc).

Read here for 8 myths about pesticides.

Although the Canadian government claims that pesticides are not harmful to our health, more and more scientific studies say otherwise. In May 2010, for example, a study released in the journal of Pediatrics, from researchers at the University of Montreal and Harvard University, found that pesticide exposure was linked to behavioural problems in children. Then there are the stories, many untold, of farm workers (most often migrant workers) and the ill-health they are facing from working with pesticides.

Pesticide use is a complex and detailed issue that requires more than a blog post to address its social, environmental, and economic impacts. I won’t endeavour to tackle these issues here; instead, I want to share with you the ways you can avoid pesticide use on a daily basis, and by doing this remind you of the other humans and animals who are being exposed to the chemicals going on your bananas and tomatoes.

So, how do we go about avoiding these chemicals without breaking the bank or spending too much time? Ideally, the government would be subsidizing organic farmers so that organic produce could become more accessible to people of all incomes, but because that isn’t happening right now, the easiest way is to take advantage of some fantastic online resources, particularly those from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Get their shopping guide by clicking the image below (no need to sign up, though you’ll get lots of useful updates if you do). EWG  has a list of the Dirty Dozen (produce found to have the highest and most potent pesticides; buy these organic) and the Clean Thirteen (produce that has consistently shown to have the lowest pesticide residue and thus are OK to buy non-organic, i.e. conventionally produced).

Source: EWG

Beyond this shopping guide (which you can carry around with you in your pocket), EWG has also created a “Good Food on a Tight Budget” shopping guide. It’s all about helping you choose foods with the lowest levels of chemicals and artificial ingredients and preparing healthy, wholesome meals.

The shopping guide is great, and so is choosing organic when possible,  but don’t think that simply buying organic produce precludes exposure to pesticides. Some organic produce has been show to include pesticide residue up to 30% before washing; this mostly comes from transboundary contamination (e.g. farmer Ted may not spray his veggies with pesticides, but farmer Jane does, and farmer Ted lives down-wind from her. See what I mean?). Regardless if your produce is organic or not, give it a good wash before consumption. Not to say that washing will remove all chemicals, but it’s not a bad idea. And remember to even wash the hard-skinned produce before cutting to prevent getting chemicals into the flesh with you cut through, such as with avocado, mango, squash, kiwi, etc.

Here are some tips on washing produce:

When I have the time (and the foresight) I soak my fruit and veggies in a mixture of  1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to 1 litre of water. Let the produce sit in there for as long as possible, then drain and rinse the produce really well.

Others like a mix of baking soda, lemon juice, and water.

Or, you can make a little bath with some non-toxic soap for them.  No need to buy special sprays or such; I just use my non-toxic dish soap (try a brand like Nature Clean or Dr. Bromner).

There are some basic (and easy) tips on how to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals in your daily life. Follow them when you can,  and always, always, give your fruits and veggies a scrubbing/washing/rinsing before consumption. And yes, buying organic can be expensive, so try to buy from your local farmers who may not be certified organic (because that in itself is expensive), but follow organic farming practices and are thus a bit cheaper (talk to your farmer and find out!). And remember, when you buy organic you aren’t just supporting your good health, you’re supporting the good health of the farmers and workers who planted the seeds, toiled in the fields, and eventually picked your produce and sent it on its way for you to consume. You’re also supporting the good health of our planet and the other animals who live here!

Further reading
http://earthjustice.org/our_work/campaigns/pesticides-in-the-air-kids-at-risk
http://www.bcliving.ca/health/pesticides-on-produce

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/wildlife/wl1017-1.htm#Effects

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/The+Nature+of+Things/ID/1380312270/

More on migrant workers (and the temporary foreign work program) specifically:
http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/food/tips.htm
http://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/immigration/article/1127746–foreign-workers-fill-agricultural-labour-shortage
http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_321_e_36436.html

http://www.cmaj.ca/content/183/9/1039

Not another ‘women eating salads’ blog.

31 Oct

‘Salad’ at Hibiscus in Toronto

Ever see the “women laughing alone with salad” tumblr (or this one)? It’s pretty genius. It satirizes the idea that women gain some immense level of satisfaction and pleasure from eating a bowl of lettuce and tomato (and maybe a sprinkle of shredded cheese).  The contents of these bowls is exactly where I find the problem — the salads look pretty darn boring and “light.” I love a good salad, but it has got to be more than lettuce and tomato – or if it is just that it better have a delicious and creamy dressing! These types of photos have led to salads getting a bad wrap; just like the phrase “vegan salad” gets — it’s not just composed of shredded iceberg lettuce, people!  I’m hear to tell you that salads don’t need to be boring, salads don’t need to leave you hungry, and salads don’t even need to have lettuce in them.  Picture this: roasted squash, kimchi, sprouts, cabbage, and lemon avocado; pumpkin seeds and green beans; quinoa and white bean dressing; and on and on!

This is what today’s post is all about: building a delicious, nutritious  and filling ‘salad.’ (You could also call them grain bowls, as sometimes that’s what your ‘salad’ may turn into). The lay out is going to be very simple: combine ingredients into bowl, make dressing of choice, mix, enjoy.

Step one: look in your fridge and cupboards  and start assembling ingredients!

Suggested cooked ingredients (some of my favs):

  • Roasted squash and/other roasted veggies
  • Steamed  or roasted sweet potato (this is usually always in my salad; I chop up a large one into cubes and steam until easily pierced with a fork)
  • Steamed kale (no more than 30 seconds! it’s done when bright green! remove from heat immediately, so you don’t loose precious nutrients)
  • Steamed broccoli (same as above – done when bright green!)
  • Steamed green beans
  • Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, adzuki beans (good for the kidneys!); black beans; etc)
  • Gluten free grains (quinoa; buckwheat; millet; rice)
  • ‘Pickled’ beets 

 Potential raw ingredients:

  • Lentil, pea, and mung bean sprouts!
  • Shredded beet and carrots
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Kale/arugula/spinach/sunflower greens
  • Shredded purple or green cabbage (my favourite!)
  • Chopped bell peppers (red peppers are very high in vitamin C, which will help with iron absorption from your legumes and seeds!)
  • Celery
  • Chopped fruit and/or berries (pear, apple, orange, blueberries…!)

Potential ‘sprinkle on top’ (or mix through) ingredients: 

  • The sweet:

Unsweetened/fruit juice sweetened dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, currents, chopped figs and apricots, mulberries…!)

  • The savory/salty:

Toasted nori sheets (tear or cut up); dulse or other seaweed flakes (a nutrient dense salt replacement); kimchi; sauerkraut; green onions

  • The creamy:

Hemp seeds/hearts! (I almost always add hemp to my meals as they are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and are super nutritious!); other seeds and nuts: pumpkin; sunflower; sesame; walnuts; cashews…!

 KALE CHIPS. You heard me. Pour a generous amount of kale chips (especially the crumbly pieces at the end) onto your salad and your taste buds will thank you. I often skip the dressing when I add this brand of kale chips because it makes everything so creamy. You can also make your own kale chips very easily – in your oven or a dehydrator.

Dressings (recipes follow below):

  • Avocado dressing
  • Mustard dressing (really good with green beans)
  • White bean sauce
  • Basic fruit dressing
  • Basic dressing ratios

Avocado dressing:
1 medium ripe avocado
juice of 1/2 lemon (or 2 tablespoon… or to taste)
~1/2 cup water (start with 1/4, adjusting to the creaminess of your liking)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or use coconut aminos or braggs (if you tolerant soy))
*Blend everything in your blender or processor until smooth! Should make about 1 1/2 cups.
(note: I also like to add nutritional yeast to this recipe sometimes!)

Store unused portions in fridge for no more than 3 days (dip veggies in it if you don’t use it all as a dressing!).

Mustard dressing:
1/4 cup prepared or dijon mustard
2-4 Tablespoons water (adjust as you go to reach consistency of your choice)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (you could sub in white white if you don’t have any, but unfiltered AVC is really good for you!)
1 Tablespoon good quality olive oil
*blend all those ingredients together in blender (or shake up really well in a sealed mason jar), then add in:
1/2 medium clove of grated garlic
1 small shallot, chopped finely
*blend/shake again and I then suggest you pour immediately over freshly steamed/boiled green beans, so that the dressing ‘sticks’ well. Sprinkle some fortified nutritional yeast on top for extra flavour and nutrition.

This will make enough for 1-3 salads, depending on salad size.

White bean sauce (suggested white beans: navy or cannelini (work best); never tried with great northern)
note: this is best over a salad that doesn’t have lettuce in it because the sauce is a bit heavy and will weigh things down. Make the sauce and then see what you think! It’s good over pasta, kelp noodles, and roasted veggies. Suggestions: put warm rice/grain in a dish, put roasted veggies in dish, add bean sauce and then add shredded carrot and broccoli! YUM!

1 cup white beans
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (“nooch” for short)
1 small clove grated garlic OR 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 to 1/3 cup water (DRIZZLE in as the blender is going)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley (reduce to 2 TB if you’re not parsley’s #1 fan)

*Blend/process everything except the parsley until smooth, adding water as you go until it reaches your desired consistency. Pulse in the parsley at the end to mix.
Tip: try heating up over the stove, whisking constantly until it thickens.

Basic fruit dressing

1 cup chopped fruit of your choice (think oranges, strawberries, mangoes, peeled apples; not banana)
1/4 cup quality olive oil, hemp oil, or flax oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

*Blend everything together! You may need a couple tablespoons of water to help get things moving.  You might also want to add a date or some maple syrup if you need it to be *more* sweet than it already is with the fruit. Again, let your tastebuds guide you.

Basic dressing ratios 

Mix 1 part oil to 1 part vinegar or citrus juice

 

Tips:

  • If you go to a weekly farmer’s market, it’ll be easy to get salad inspiration! You can have your cooked and raw ingredients mostly  seasonal and then hit up the bulk/health store or supermarket for the other stuff!
  • Use your tastebuds to try out the “salads” and dressing as you blend, tweaking measurements, and even ingredients, to your liking
  • I like to use full fats (nuts, avocado) in my meals more often than plain oils because they have more nutrients, so don’t be afraid make a dressing out of blended nuts. Soak cashews or almonds for 4+ hours and then blend them up with some salt, lemon juice, and chives. Or, use nut butters as your base!
  • Have a salad bar potluck where everyone brings one or two ingredients (as the host you can provide any warm items like rice/quinoa/roasted veggies). Please ensure that everyone is smiling while holding the salads (in case there are photos taken).
  • Be creative!

 

What do you put in your salad?

4 (simple!) things you never thought to do!

29 Oct

Ever see a friend do something in the kitchen, or make a treat that makes you go, “Wow, I would never have thought to do that.”? If not, I think at least 1 of these 4 things will make you go, “Ooo! I want to try that.”

Here they are:

1) Use a mason jar with your blender base. No more washing the big ol’ blender jar when you only wanted to make a small salad dressing,  sauce, grind some seeds/nuts, etc. My housemate told me about this trick. My first thought: this is how the person behind the Magic Bullet made millions! It’s the exact same concept (except I will not be making millions by telling you this… but will hopefully bring you joy).

Step 1 (not shown):  put the ingredients of your choice in appropriate size blender (just ensure the blade part that comes off fits securely over mason jar opening  (see step 4 to get the gist of what I’m saying). Mason jars come in regular and wide-mouth, I suspect regular will fit most of your blenders.

Step 2: screw on the part that you would normally screw onto your glass/plastic blender jar (make sure it’s on tight so there’s no spilling)

Step 3: place onto blender base and start blending/pureeing/grinding/etc. I had a bit of trepidation and didn’t want to press “on,” but I got over that. If you are nervous, simply make your first mason-jar-blend something small, so if, for some strange reason, there is spillage, it’s not massive. :)

Step 4: Check on your blend and enjoy.

Best part? Storing the stuff you blended *in* the jar… screw on the mason jar lid and away you go! 
 
2) Put steamed beets into the brine of your finished sauerkraut. I love beets, I love unpasteurized sauerkraut. I thought after steaming some beets , “I’m gonna throw these chunks into the salty water left in my ‘kraut  jar now that the cabbage is all gone  and see what happens.” Result? Pickled beets in a pinch! (The lazy man/woman pickles, if you wish)
 
This is so easy and satisfying:
Step 1: chop and steam some beets (or boil ‘em… I always steam my veggies). Let them cool (or not if you’re super eager, but I suggest letting them cool if you’re using unpasteurized ‘kraut brine as heat kills the important probiotic cultures!)Step 2: throw beets into jar (careful not to splash! beets stain!)Step 3: let them marinate in the fridge for 30+ minutes and then enjoy for days and days on their own, or in salads. Praise beets!
 
 
3) Eat the skin on your baked squash! I love squash. Do you love squash? Do you want to love squash even more? Next time you bake one eat the skin! YUM. (this does not apply to butternut…not because it’ll hurt you, but because I don’t find it as satisfying (but satisfaction is subjective, so let me know what you think of butternut skin!).  So far I have enjoyed kombocha, buttercup, acorn, and Japanese squash.  My all time fav. is the kombocha (pictured below post bake).
 
Never baked a squash before? Cut it in half, remove the seeds (toast them if it’s from an acorn squash!), then place in your oven cut side up and bake at 360 for 40 minutes to an hours. You can also cut in half, bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven (let it cool so you can handle it), cut into chunks, sprinkle with salt and sage, and bake in a casserole dish for the remainder of the time/until they reach the texture you like. If you have some full-flavoured coconut oil throw that on them too (for a subtle hint of coconut!). 
 
Or eat like a pie! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. Make ice cream out of bananas. This is a classic recipe that has been circulating around the internet for ages, but I want to ensure you didn’t miss it! This is super simple:
 
Step 1: take some brown speckled (but not overly speckled) bananas, peel them (important! peeling a frozen banana is not fun!), break into halves or chunks, put them in a container or reused plastic baggy and freeze.
Step 2: once they are frozen, take out a few pieces (to equal 1-1.5 bananas) and place them into your food processor. It’ll sound like your bananas are preparing for take-off, but don’t worry, just let the processor do its thing. It can take upwards of 5 or more minutes at which point the bananas will be getting creamy (like ice cream!). 

it’ll look crumbly and like it’s going nowhere, but just you wait…

 
Note that you may have to stop the processor a couple of times to scrape down the sides/ensure all the banana is getting broken up. Once you reach a uniform creamy consistency scoop out into a bowl and enjoy. You can sprinkle with cacao nibs, fresh berries, cinnamon, cookie crumbs, carob powder,  or just enjoy like it is! I have a tendency to add frozen berries to the bananas as they are processing — be creative!
 
 (Don’t have a food processor? Never fear, using a blender is possible (I’ve done it), but you will need to add a little liquid to get it going — I suggest coconut milk or just plain old water. If you have a “puree” or “cream” option on your blender, use those. Play around. Use just 2 teaspoons of liquid to start  And banana ice cream is such a popular thing that if you Google it you’ll get lots of photos and more step by step instructions. 
 
I have a few more simple kitchen ideas up my sleeve, but I’m interested to hear yours. What’s something you do in the kitchen that has surprised others, or made their lives easier? Peeling ginger with the back of a spoon? Making a dessert out of black beans or avocado? Let me know! 
 
(And apologies for the half italics, have regular font. Having some technical issues…ahem.)

Genetically What?

24 Oct Source: Nature's Path Organics

(GE = genetically engineered; GMO = genetically modified organism; GE/GMO used interchangeably)

The words “genetically modified” and “genetically engineered organisms” may be ringing in your ears these days. It has been high on the internet/news radar the past couple of months, arguably related to the results of a study carried out by the research team of Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini. His team looked at the impacts of Monsanto GM maize [corn] on rats; the results were released this past September in the journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology. If you have not heard about this study, you can access the full article here:  it details cancerous tumours, growths, and deaths in the female and male rats used in the study.  Dr.Oz also recently dedicated an episode to discussing GE foods.

Don’t be fooled into thinking GMOs are something new, however – GE products have been on the market since the 1990s. Starting with the Flavr Savr tomato . Now GE foods proliferate: rice, corn, soybeans, canola, and cotton to name the most extensively modified.

Source: Nature’s Path Organics

Although the health effects from consuming GE produce/products is of concern to many,  there are also environmental concerns (which in turn have health impacts). The Non GMO Project notes that ” over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered  for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled.” (See this Reuters article for more on the pesticide tolerant nature of GM crops and the fact that tolerance has become so pervasive that farmers are needing to use more pesticides (and thus spend more $).)

Unless you’re going to stick to your morning corn flakes that don’t get soggy when wet (an alleged benefit of GMOs), how can you easily avoid GMO products? There is no mandatory labelling of GMOs in Canada, or the US, so this is where it gets a bit tricky. The best way I avoid them is by:

  • purchasing products from local farmers who I can talk to about their seeds and “pest” management strategies
  • buying certified organic products(organic certification standards in Canada require that a product be GMO free in order to be qualified as organic)
  • buying organic all the time may not be accessible for all, so look for products verified as non GMO by the Non GMO Project (many of these are found at your local grocery store, such as Manitoba Harvest hemp products; Eden Organics; Enjoy Life; Vega; Ridgeview farms; Lundberg rice; etc)

Want to do more than just avoid GMOs? Wondering why Canada and the US have not followed through with legislation relating to labelling (while 50 other countries worldwide have taken a position on GMOs and instituted labelling requirements and/or restrictions)?

  • well, if you happen to be in California (and I am super jealous if you do considering sea otters live off the coast of CA, and I love sea otters), VOTE YES to proposition 37 on your November 6 ballot (if prop 37 is passed, products containing GMOs would have to be labelled as such)
  • In Canada? There have been attempts  to pass legislation calling for mandatory labelling of GMOs and/or further research into GMOs, but with no success (most recently, private members bill c-474). See here for a 2010 article detailing the importance of the bill in light of Canadian farmers non GM flax crops becoming contaminated with GMOs). The bill was defeated in 2011. To let politicians know you’re still concerned, write/e-mail/call your member of parliament (or country equivalent). Express your concerns over GMOs: health, increased pesticide use, impacts on other animals, your right to know what you are consuming, etc.
  •  Get involved with groups who are working to stop the proliferation of GMOs, who are calling for more independent studies on the human health and environmental impacts, and on the consumers rights to know and to choose. This could be at school, on campus, or in your community. Don’t see any specific campaigns or initiatives around GMOs? Start one!
    Here’s a good cross-Canada link  ,compiled by Toronto Green Community, to get you started on food related groups working in your area (don’t click on the provinces/territories, instead, simply scroll down)

And hey, don’t let this information get you down! Sifting through news reports can make anyone feel helpless, and you might even consider running to your root cellar, but know that you are not alone in these feelings and there are countless people and organizations out there trying to make this world a better place to live and thrive in for humans and all other animals. While we are waiting, and working toward that, go enjoy a meal with a close friend or two. Take a minute to acknowledge all the farmers and people involved in getting that food to your table. Be thankful you are now a little more informed about GMOs and thus a little more empowered.

(And everyone loves free stuff right? Well go enjoy the last few days of NON GMO month by entering to win in their daily giveaways! http://www.nongmomonth.org)

Beyond Sushi: Exploring (other) Sea Veggies

3 Dec

Beyond Sushi: Exploring (other) Sea Veggies.

Whole foods on the road!

16 Nov

This summer I made my way from Ontario to British Columbia in a van. I did a lot of planning, packing, and research around snacks and meals before hitting the road (and during thanks to this FREE Happy Cow phone app). Along the way, I was also able to catch a couple of meals at actual restaurants! This is always a treat for a travelling whole foods vegan who isn’t about to stop at a fast food restaurant for supper.

Leading up to the trip I made, dehydrated, and purchased lots of food to keep me happy (not hangry) in between the restaurant and grocery store interludes. As such, this post is two fold: 1) it will provide insights on planning healthy snacks and meals while road-tripping and camping; and 2) review the restaurants, health stores and supermarkets that stuck  out in my mind after the road trip and camping was said and done.

Preparation:

Hitting the road doesn’t mean you have to leave behind how you eat when you’re at home. If you have an oven or a dehydrator, a cooler to take with you, and knowledge of what the US will NOT allow you to take into their country (I still mourn my 3 organic avocados lost at the border…) you’re set!

If you have an oven or dehydrator you can make granola (or gRAWnola) to take on the road and to have while camping. It will keep for a couple of weeks (longer if dehydrated and stored with a moisture packet – silica gel).

Here’s a list of what I took with me. Maybe you will find some inspiration in it? 

  • Sprouted buckwheat gRAWnola. I made three types in my Excalibur dehydrator: brazil nut maple syrup; carob kale walnut banana (that’s right, I said KALE. a sneaky way to get your greens in!); and apple cinnamon date. 
  • I made hummus as I normally would and then DEHYDRATED it. I wish I had of taken a photo for you to see. Next time.

Simple steps to dehydrated hummus:
>
make hummus normally (chickpeas, garlic, oil, salt, lemon juice, etc)

> spread onto your dehydrator sheet (I line mine with unbleached parchment paper instead of non-stick plastic sheets)
> dry at 125 F for 6-8 hours (or however long it takes for it to get all cracked and dry)
> let it cool then run it through your clean processor or coffee grinder until it’s a powder.
> Store the powdered hummus in plastic baggies (to save packing space) or in reusable containers that you can add water to when you need to REHYDRATE come eating time. Storing in baggies is a great (albeit not the most enviro friendly) option if you’re hiking or climbing for the day as it doesn’t take up much room.
>Rehydration is really easy. Simply add water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, and mix until it reaches your desired consistency. If stored in a baggy you can just add water to it and mix by squashing the baggy with your hands (just ensure there are no holes!).

*Suggestion: try to partition out serving sizes of your hummus onto the dehydrator sheets before it dries so then you have individual serving sizes ready to go. Otherwise, you may rehydrate too much and have nowhere to store it while on the road or in the woods (i.e. a fridge!) 

  • Dehydrated cooked beans.

    dehydrated black-eyed peas

    This is a great alternative to canned beans, which take up space! To dehydrate beans: cook as you normally would, rinse, cool, and then spread out on your dehydrator sheets. Can take up to 12 hours, if not more, to ensure all the moisture is out of the beans. I dehydrated black-eyed peas (aka cow beans/peas) and black navy beans. I didn’t want to try anything larger (such as kidney or chickpea) because I was afraid they wouldn’t dry properly and would go bad. 

  • Dehydrated fruit and vegetables. I dehydrated green beans and bought dried fruit as I decided this route was more cost and time effective.  You could also slice carrots, sweet potato, and other roots veggies into thin chips and dehydrate (viola, veggie chips!)
  •  Nut butters. Artisana snack size nut butters all the way. You can buy a variety and not worry about glass breaking or them going bad. I bought a bunch of walnut-cashew, plain cashew, coconut butter, and cacao bliss (a dreamy blend of cacao [raw chocolate], coconut butter, and agave syrup). Sometimes I ate these butters straight out the package, but while bouldering in Squamish I would sit down on a rock and have a little snack of rice cakes, nut butter, and bananaNote: these little guys are hard to find in Canada right now.  
  • Organic rice cakes. I stuck to the multi grain ones (rice, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa).
  • Hemp seeds and chia seeds. Hemp seeds are handy as you can sprinkle them on anything from grains to veggies to sauces. You can also sprinkle chia seeds, but I prefer making a chia pudding. Add 1/2 cup water to 2 tablespoons chia , stir, let sit, stir again, and viola (in about 10 minutes you have a pudding!). You can add sweetener if you like. 
  • Buckwheat. Every night I would soak buckwheat, and drain it in the morning to have with my hemp seeds and chia seeds for breakfast. You can do this in a hotel room in a plastic container or in your tent (actually, do NOT do this in your tent. You don’t want bears comin’ ’round after smellin’ food!) 
  • Dried lentils and other grains (rice, quinoa, millet). A propane stove is a great thing to have while road tripping and camping. You can pull over in a parking lot and cook up a warm meal – lentils, grain, veggies, and some seasoning. Bam!
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables! Bananas, oranges, pears and apples will keep outside of a cooler. I washed strawberries and blueberries before hitting the road and stored them in the cooler. Carrots are also a good choice. Note that not all fruit and veg is allowed when you cross the border. See customs website for more information, so that you don’t end up crying at the border when they throw out your produce right in front of you. :( 
  • Kale chips.  A delicious excuse to get my greens in. You can make these in your oven or dehydrator, or buy them at a health store depending on where you live.
  • Bars. Vega endurance bars and a few Lara Bars were the two things I brought that were the most processed (not to say that rice crackers aren’t processed). I like the acai berry flavour endurance bar: it has 8 grams of complete protein, 15% of your daily iron intake, but doesn’t leave your stomach feeling heavy.  
  • I brought a pencil-case of seasonings and other little things: dulse flakes; nutritional yeast; various spices; psyllium husks…
  • Vitamins/minerals. Although I don’t take supplements everyday I wanted to ensure I had stuff with me on the road for days where I maybe didn’t meet my nutritional needs. (I ended up bringing a pile back with me, but that’s OK!)

My main pieces of advice if planning a road or camping trip (and hoping to do so with plant-based, minimally processed foods) is to give yourself 2 weeks before to buy snacks, prepare food, and organize your meal plans. Researching places you’ll be driving through is also integral to a healthy ride as it will allow you to top-up your supplies, or enjoy a sit-down meal.

With that advice in mind, here’s a drive-by of a few places I stopped at:

You’ll see a lot of fields when driving across Canada/the US

Communitea Cafe in Canmore, Alberta

“Mega Bowl”

I had high hopes for this place, as I had been drooling over their vegan/gluten free options before hitting the road. The menu is impressive looking, and the cafe itself has a nice atmosphere and intention (lots of natural light, comfy chairs, local/organic when possible), but the salad and service did not deliver. The menu says quinoa is in the salad, but to me it looked like quinoa was accidentally spilled on my bowl. A case of cross contamination, not intentional positioning. I.e. there was less than a tablespoon in my bowl! I opted for their tahini garlic dressing and it tasted like maple syrup.  Keeping my quinoa disappointment aside, I went up to the counter to ask if I had been given the right dressing. I had been. My eating partner had their “Upbeet veggie burger” on spinach and wasn’t blown away by any stretch of the imagination.

Before writing them off, I think all eating establishments should be given two tries (unless the first was so terrible that you can’t stomach the thought of going back). Thus, if passing through Canmore again, I will check out Communitea one more time and I hope to be pleasantly surprised.  :)

 The town of Squamish, British Columbia

Cleveland Avenue; Squamish, BC

Squamish is a health-conscious human’s paradise. It has well-stocked supermarkets and health stores, yoga studios, a cute cafe (Zephyr’s), and an endless amount of outdoor activities at your fingertips. 

In a strip mall (Hunter Place) you will find Starbucks (free wifi), Health Food Haven, and Nester’s Market (not to mention a hardware shop , outfitters store, and other amenities expected in a strip mall). I was floored to walk into Nester’s Market (a supermarket chain) and find it to be well-stocked  with organic bean, lentil, and broccoli sprouts, fresh organic fruit and veg, miniature (one serving) tins of organic coconut milk, millet cakes, hemp seeds, quinoa, organic flax, Vega protein, you name it. There was also a little bulk section that carried organic and non organic nuts, seeds, dried fruits, grains, and trail mixes. (Note that there is a Save-on-Foods further down the road on Pemberton Avenue that sells some of the same items, such as bean sprouts, for cheaper). 

I bought a brazil nut energy bar from Health Food Haven out of desperation before catching the greyhound to Vancouver. I say desperation because it was 3.49 if I recall correctly. That being said, the store had a nice vibe to it and the staff were very friendly. Along with speciality health food items and supplements they also served fresh-made smoothies – though many contained bee products.

 

By far my favourite snack spots in Squamish were Zephry’s Cafe and In the Raw Organics: Speciality Bulk Foods and Goods.

Zephry’s serves animal products, but also serves vegan, gluten-free, and RAW options! Think hearty grain bowls, raw lasagna, and nut burgers! Due to a couple of food allergies I stuck with their grain bowls. The first time I ate there I ordered their organic quinoa veggie bowl and had hummus added to it as the protein options were animal based or tofu (soy allergy!). They had no problem with my request, actually, they welcomed it (they even had a note on their chalk board encouraging folks with allergies to talk to them about how they can help – make the food safe that is ;)).  The bowl was super filling. I ate it for supper after hiking the Chief.  The next time I ate there I opted for brown rice instead of quinoa, but wasn’t nearly as satisfied (filling wise, so stick with quinoa if you’re really hungry; flavours were still great). I kept hummus as my protein, and broke out some of my own nutritional yeast to sprinkle on top. I also had their “greenhouse” smoothie (spinach, parsley, ginger, pineapple, orange juice) and had them add a clove of garlic (wanted to keep my immune system in top shape!). They kept asking, “are you sure you want us to do this?” Ha. It was delicious – even with the chunk of garlic! (Sorry there are no food photos… I was too excited to pause and take them ; ))

.

Inside Zephry’s Cafe

Conveniently located by Zephrys is In the Raw Organics. A speciality bulk and health food store. I was overjoyed to find Vancouver island hazelnuts and cherries, quinoa pasta, an assortment of nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, and teas! The hazelnuts and cherries were a nice addition to my morning buckwheat that was getting boring after a week of chia and hemp seeds. Be sure to stop in here if you find yourself in Squamish!

As you might have guessed, I found Squamish to be incredibly vegan and whole-foods friendly. Turns out, there was no dire need for me to bring all my hemp seeds, buckwheat, and gRAWnola to Squamish (’cause I could find it all there!), but all that food prep came in handy along the way, and saved me a bunch of money (planning ahead tends to do that!).  

Before hitting the road. 

I hope you’ll keep this post in mind next time you hit the road and are looking for snack ideas (whether travelling in a car, by bus, or train!).  

Until next time! (Which could be longer than usual as I’ve got a busy two weeks coming up! Keep checking back!)

View from the first peak of the Chief

(You’re probably wondering where the US reviews are? Sorry to say that I wasn’t able to hit up many along the way save gas stops that carried your typical soft drinks, chips, and roasted nuts. There were some spots I would have liked to explore had there been time, such as those found in Duluth, Minnesota, but sadly we only stayed there long enough to sleep, shower, and hit the road again.)

 

Pizza! (raw pizza!)

4 Nov Raw pizza at Rawlicious

Pizza at Rawlicious (sadly on hiatus until 2013). Simply divine!

Who says a pizza needs to contain gluten, animal by-products, or even tomato sauce? There’s probably some historical basis (or some such thing) that I will unabashedly ignore to make way for this blog’s not-so-secret pizza agenda.

This post is all about pizzas, but not your traditional kind. No, I’m talking raw pizza.
What constitutes a raw pizza?

By my definition, a  raw pizza will contain the following:

  • A sprouted, gluten-free grain and seed crust. All the blends I have tried or made myself contain sprouted buckwheat and flaxseed and sometimes sunflower seeds, sprouted quinoa, and/or walnuts.
  • A nut cheese spread
  • A nut parmesan with or without nutritional yeast
  • A marinara (tomato based) or pesto (nut based)
  • Veggies (just like a traditional pizza would hopefully have) and maybe fruit if you get a Hawaiian raw pizza! The difference in raw pizza veggies is that they are usually marinated (for added flavour) and then slightly dehydrated to give them  some tenderness. Dehydrating the veggies also crisps them up, lending them a somewhat  “cooked” appearance (see the red onions and tomato below)

Beyond making you salivate, I am going to share with you some basic raw pizza ingredients and recipes.

Here are some basic crust recipes (the first not as basic as the second and third):

  • 2 cups buckwheat groats (NOT kasha), soaked [and I would actually let them sprout* a little]
  • 3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked
  • 3⁄4 cup chopped carrot
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup cold-pressed (extra virgin) olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1⁄2 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup ground flax seeds
* to sprout buckwheat: take hulled, raw, buckwheat and soak for minimum 30 minutes. Then drain and rinse them several times until the water runs clear. Sit them somewhere where they can drain. Rinse 2-3 times a day for 1-2 days, or until you see a small tale sprouting out of the groats. Once you see the tail STOP, your buckwheat is ready — use right away or store in the fridge for a few days in a glass jar.  Tip: use a metal sieve/strainer to rinse and sprout the buckwheat or use your sprouting lids/ mesh cloth.

See the rest of the above pizza crust  instructions here!

Oregano Pizza Crust (does not call for any grain. Taken from Ani Phyo‘s Raw Food Essentials):

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups flax meal (use pre-ground flaxseed, or grind enough whole flaxseed yourself to equal 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Blend everything together in a blender then spread the “dough” into a square or circle on your dehydrator sheet. It should all fit on a 14 inch tray, but if you have a 4 layer dehydrator you won’t have trays that large, so spread it over two. Ani says to dehydrate for 6 hours and then flip and go 6 more hours, but know that you will need to adjust this drying time depending on where you live (because of humidity differences, etc).

See my tips below on how thick to spread raw pizza dough.

I’ve also made a pizza crust using a version from this recipe.

  • 1 cup buckwheat, sprouted
  • 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, soaked 6 hours, drained [make sure they are drained well and pat them dry]
  • 3 carrots, diced very fine
  • 1 teaspoon Italian spices

When I made this crust I did not dehydrate it as long as I should have (I was eager to try it! gimme a break!), so it had a wet flour taste.   If you simply dehydrate as directed, and continue to dehydrate longer if necessary, it will be fine.

TIP: When spreading the batter onto the dehydrator sheet (lined with parchment paper), ensure you do not spread it too thin. Otherwise, it will crack and fall apart. A good rule of thumb is 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. And remember, the edges will dehydrate faster, so you could make the middle a bit thinner to balance out the “cooking” time. Once the crust is dry enough to remove from the parchment paper, flip onto the mesh to finish drying.

Tomato/pesto base suggestions:

Here, simply use your favourite vegan pesto or tomato sauce. If you do not know of any, let me know and I will post some!

Basic cheese recipe:

I find cashews that have been soaked for 4 to 6 hours work best, but try other nuts/seeds for subtle changes in flavour (walnut!).

Cheese spread (also from Ani Phyo – see it here!)
1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups nuts or seeds
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water, as needed.

Put garlic in food processor and pulse into small piece. Add the nuts/seeds, pulse into small bits’ then add lemon juice and water and process to mix everything together until it reaches your desired consistency.  See “options” in the link for suggestions on different cheese flavours.

Basic parmesan recipes:

The easiest way: I simply take  3-4 simple ingredients and pulse them in a coffee grinder until combined. Equal parts hemp seeds, sunflower seeds (or walnuts), nutritional yeast and a PINCH (1/8 teaspoon) of salt. If you do not have nutritional yeast, just use extra salt (if you over salt, simply add more nuts/seeds).
To break it down, this is what it could look like:
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds,
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • Pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon)

*As a minor caveat, know that if you over- pulse they will develop a nut butter consistency (not that this is a bad thing, but it will change the “sprinkle-ability”).*

You can also soak walnuts over night, drain them, crumble into pieces and toss into a jar with some salt and shake it up! Then sprinkle over top of the pizza. (You can skip the soaking part if you wish).

Through my research for this blog post I came across someone who appears to love raw pizzas as much as I do. She has a list of raw vegan cheese recipes, marinaras, and a crust. She even has instructional videos! I have not had the chance to try any of her recipes, but I can tell you that the ingredients and measurements are very similar to recipes I have tried and seen in raw recipe books and so I am confident they will work out! Her site is called “Raw Food  Diet Inspiration” – check it. This is a video for her pizza crust.

“But I don’t have a dehydrator”

If you don’t have a dehydrator, don’t fret, you can use your oven (prop the door open with a wooden spoon and set at lowest temp). It’s really not an energy-efficient way, so if that concerns you, treat yourself to a raw pizza next time you’re at a raw restaurant.  You can also just bake the crust in the oven at 350 degrees F until it crisps up enough to put toppings on (roughly 30 -40 minutes). Just keep an eye on it, so that it doesn’t burn.

Or, simply let the idea of making one of the crusts I’ve suggested go. Instead,  take this post as an inspiration on how pizzas can be, not how they should be or must be. A common complaint lauded against raw foodism is that its adherents are up-tight and restrictive. Don’t become either of those things! Take the recipes and ingredients I’ve suggested and use them on your version of a pizza crust, on a cracker, or even on a rice cake if you get desperate.

Suggested toppings for your raw pizza (or for your pizza cracker, pizza cake, whatever! ;))

Thinly sliced bell peppers
Marinated mushrooms
Sliced cherry tomatoes
Thinly sliced zucchini
Sunflower greens
Sliced cabbage

Pineapple
Spinach
Olives
Kale (tenderize the kale first my marinating in your favourite dressing or use kale chips for added texture and flavour)

That’s my pizza post! Like I said, don’t shut the door to a “raw” pizza just because you don’t have a dehydrator (or maybe the patience to make a crust to begin with). Instead, work with what you’ve got (the nut cheese or parmesan is super easy to make! Start there!). If nothing else, I hope this post sticks with you, so that the next time you happen upon a restaurant serving up raw vegan pizza you try it out instead of turning the page! If you need suggestions, look for a future post all about my quest across Canada and the US for the perfect raw pizza.

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