I have come to the decision that the reason why I love to talk about Raw Foods is the same reason why I love to talk about my God. Because I have found this incredible good news that I want to share with every single person I come across! Yes, you can be healthy, you can enjoy your food without guilt or shame or disease. Yes, there is Someone who DOES love you unconditionally, who sacrificed everything for you, who can give you a life you can only dream of.
I find the more that I continue on the path before me I find this generous spirit welling up within me. Of course, I know it's not my spirit, but the Lord's Spirit working through me as I give Him room to work. This is so exciting! Not only am I more generous with my time and attention (first with my daughter, which is obvious, and then with everyone else), but I'm finding my tight-fisted approach toward life is also loosening. It seems to cover every ounce of my life. I don't mind lending money to those I'm not sure will repay me. I'm starting to enjoy giving things away instead of selling them for whatever I can get. I continue to invite more and more people into my home, when I don't consider myself a hostess and feel rather awkward, but am beginning to love it. I usually only make raw food for those I think would appreciate it, but lately I've been making gourmet dishes whenever I have the moment so I can share them with everyone.
There are a few dishes that have felt intimidating and I've been putting off for weeks, but I was able to work on them this weekend. I finally broke down and bought a really good vegetable peeler (it's electric!) so peeling vegetables didn't feel so daunting. The first dish I made was Raw Lasagna, which really is a lot of work, and I made WAY too much - three large casserole dishes worth. I gave one of them to a friend as a birthday present and felt REALLY good about that. She enjoyed it and shared it with everyone she knew. She liked to brag about how healthy, yet delicious it was. I shared another one with a friend I was hosting in my home for a couple days and she enjoyed it as well, even though I doubt she was all that interested. I have to say that it is incredible and I'm looking forward to offering some to my mother. In the past I would have hoarded it for myself (especially with the time and effort I put into it - over an hour), but lately I can't stop myself! (hover your mouse over each picture to read the captions. ;)
I also made my Eggplant Mini Pizzas yesterday, which I thought would dehydrate fairly quickly, but are taking longer than I had assumed. No pictures of that yet, I'll definitely take some and post them when they are nice and crisp and ready to eat. That was much easier than I had assumed, especially with my new veggie peeler. I'm posting that recipe when they are ready to eat and I can post pictures of them as well...so stay tuned the next few days. Tomorrow I will be working on my "Mexican Rice" recipe. I bought a few parsnips at the store - which when processed have a wonderful rice texture. I can't wait to start experimenting. I also have a lot of peaches left, so I'll be making some peach desserts for the week.
Have I mentioned what a strange irony it is these days, that I enjoy making food? I LOVE to be in the kitchen, making raw dishes. I spend hours making multiple dishes for the whole week, and am always itching to do more. When I ate Standard American Diet (here on out S.A.D.), I detested the kitchen. I felt so inadequate, so inept at cooking. Everything I ever made never measured up to what I had eaten before. Whether it had been prepared by a friend, relative, or had come out of a box, can, or freezer...it was infinitely better than anything I attempted. So I would very rarely make anything. I just bought everything pre-made. Now...simply because I HAVE to make everything from scratch and do not have the option to buy raw lasagna at the store, I have learned to hone my culinary skills. I have forced myself to experiment, to create, and to enjoy my creations. I also love that everything I make is a NEW creation. It doesn't have to taste like it's cooked equivalent, and no one I know has made anything like it before. Not to mention, when I succeed at making a truly delicious dish that is easy, quick, and inexpensive, I'm ecstatic! Who can I share my new creation with?!
I am ridiculously excited. I've been working with my best friend and we have come together with the first Raw Recipe Night that anyone and everyone is invited to. It's not held in my apartment, but in a guest house of a dear friend. I'm charging $15 a head to cover the costs of the ingredients and the space. It's in two short weeks. Want more information on the RRN? Have I mentioned that I'm excited?! My best friend and I have been talking about possibly having Raw Recipe Nights (RRN's from here on out) 2-3 times a month. Two Saturdays a month and maybe a weekday as well. Who says dreams can't come true?!
This first RRN will be on raw dips: a simple and easy way to add more raw food into your lifestyle. Not only are the dips raw, but you use raw veggies to dip into them - viola, an entirely raw meal that is delicious! I have dip meals at least 4-5 times a week. I'll be demonstrating 3, maybe four dips. One using nuts, one with seeds, one with beans, and one without. I don't know what I'll do next, but my brain is abuzz as to RRNs to come: Raw Pies, Raw cookies, Raw Crackers, Raw Gourmet, Raw Snacks, Raw Beverages, Raw Kids Meals, Raw Ice Cream, Raw Breads, Raw Entrees, Raw Appetizers, Raw Mylk, and SO MUCH MORE!
This also gets me off my tush and back to school to get some nutritional degree so I am accredited. I already have a B.A., but something tells me that English Literature may not be useful in my new field. Although, it seems to be helping here! I'm bouncing between the idea of a simple certification, or perhaps pursuing my masters. I'll talk it over with my mother when she is here for a visit, she's been pushing me to go for further education as my little one is getting easier and easier to care for.
Tonight I had a wonderfully satisfying dinner (which if you are my friend on FB, you heard about). I left for the farmers market and completely forgot to bring dinner for myself. This is very rare, for as you know I take food EVERYWHERE I go. Well, I wasn't completely stranded, there are half a dozen Larabars in my car, but I try not to eat them - they are for emergencies, after all. So I thought, I'll just nibble as I go along. It started with a peach...YUM...and then a few little apricots that remind me of cherries they are so tiny and wonderfully scrumptious. Then those tomatoes began to look incredible, and I hadn't eaten a "white carrot" before - I had to try that one out. There was some sliced watermelon, so I helped myself to a few slices, along with a few slices of an apple that someone was offering. Then I went back to the beginning and had more of everything. By the time I was on my way home around 9:30 (my best friend organizes the farmer's market, so we visited afterward), I had eaten four peaches, six apricots, four tomatoes, three carrots, four slices of watermelon, a few bites of chard and lettuce and an apple. Holy Moly! No wonder I wasn't hungry! Wonderfully satisfying...not overly stuffed. AND, I have so much energy that I'm obviously blogging at ten at night. I could go for a night hike I have so much energy! I love organic produce!! And so cheap...I love Horny Toad Farms.
Also, expect many more recipes and pictures in the next week. I have some eggplant in my fridge I'll use to make mini pizzas, some parsnip that I'll use to make Mexican rice, some monster zucchinis that I'll use for raw lasagna...oh and much much more. Which should I make first?
Living raw means that I bring food EVERYWHERE. I do not have the convenience of stopping at a fast food place, a store, or a restaurant (unless I'd like salad) to eat, so I always make sure I have something on hand. Yesterday was two apples, one pear, a bag of trail mix, and my little girl and I made more Nori Rolls (little ones for her). I went to the mall yesterday to let my daughter enjoy their play area, which is quite fantastic. I try not to eat in the play area, for I don't know if any children have food allergies and don't want to make any kind of mess. So we went directly above the play area where they have some couches and tables. It's just around the corner from the food court, but I see no reason to submit myself to the smells or sights of food that kept me ill for 26 years. Now mind you, if we were with a group of people, my daughter eats whatever she likes. But if she is with me, she eats what I keep in my home and what I provide, which is usually raw. She was excited about her mini Nori Rolls and dessert of apple and pear slices, so I made a little picnic on one of the tables and we sat and munched while she bounced around and watched the kids playing below us (there is a cutout so you can watch - a little creepy at times, I must admit).
An elderly man slowed down while passing our little table. A middle aged woman stopped and asked where I had bought my food at the food court. Several others slowed down and a couple stopped to hear my answer. When I told them that I made it myself, they were shocked and disappointed that they couldn't have the same option. I made maybe twenty rolls, about six for my little girl and the rest were mine. When we were both down to a couple, another crowd gathered and asked the same question. "No, the food court doesn't serve these, I choose to eat healthier and make my own snacks." A lot of nodding, some sad looking faces, and my four year old beaming as she pops one in her mouth (perhaps a little gloating?!)
If I had been a little more prepared, business cards would have materialized out of thin air and I could have given them fliers regarding my upcoming classes. Perhaps that will happen soon? My first thought was simply, "They were attracted to something that would bring them health...I KNOW I am on the right path." So I prayed for everyone of them. That they would continue to recognize health and seek it out, to start asking questions, and to remain unsatisfied with the food court options. And of course...praying that I can share not only my health, but my faith.
I was in the kitchen tonight taking inventory so I can go grocery shopping tomorrow. Five of my avocados were waaaaay overripe. :/ Oh no! Had I forgotten about them?! Well, looks like it's guacamole time! So into the food processor they went. I made a delicious and EASY guacamole salad tonight. I made my guac and laid it on top of a bed of greens and sliced up some cherry tomatoes for color (and to cut the spice in half...my guac can be sinus draining!), and sliced some sweet corn of the cob for a wonderful little contrast. Beautiful and yummy!!! Finished that baby off in minutes.
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon onion, diced
¼ red bell pepper, diced
1/2 ear corn, sliced off cob
1 tomato, diced
Mash by hand or process avocado, jalapeno, garlic and spices. Stir in diced veggies and sprinkle lemon juice on top to keep it green and fresh.
I don't know when I started doing Raw Recipe Nights, but my guess is over a year ago. I'm pretty sure it simply started because a girl I had met at a raw potluck (and raw potlucks will be a whole separate blog post) had been curious about a dish I had made, so I invited her over to learn how to make it. I've taught quite a few young ladies who were new to raw how to make simple dishes. That's my motto: fast, easy, delicious. I also answer questions they might have regarding simple nutrition, grocery shopping, food choices, etc. It's always been very informal and usually one-on-one, which has always been very effective.
Last night I hosted a Raw Recipe Night and invited thirteen of my Facebook girl friends that I've made over the past year. Since I was hosting in my apartment, only ladies were invited (since safety and privacy are very important to me). Five women trickled in, three had previous experience with the raw lifestyle, one has just committed to a lifestyle with more and more raw foods, and one was curious and enthusiastic to simply learn more.
I called the evening "Raw N' Roll", for I was teaching how I make Nori Rolls, which are a sushi equivalent, and Cinnamon Rolls with Icing. We began with the Nori Rolls, as it can be prepared nut-free and one of my guests couldn't do nuts. I put all the ladies to work cutting (julienne-ing) vegetables while I made the "rice" mixture and the Asian pate. Everyone got a turn rolling the delicacies and all of the rolls were eaten. We discussed where I shop for my food, how I get Nori seaweed inexpensively, what Jicama is and how to prepare it, nutrients in fresh vs. cooked vegetables, and much more.
After we had eaten our fill, we moved onto the Cinnamon Rolls, which was much less preparation. The ladies visited and got to know one another while I made almond flour and milled flaxseeds. Since it was a large group, I got to make a monster cinnamon roll and we had traditionally sized rolls to eat when they were almost chilled (we just couldn't wait any longer!). Usually I make mini rolls for myself, and these large leftovers are quite the treat. Yum!
It was a great time and I have emailed each of the ladies with the recipes we used, so they can attempt it on their own after having participated with me. It was so much fun, and wonderfully successful that I believe this is definitely what I want to do. My long term goal is to become a certified nutritionist with intentions on becoming a health counselor. I would come to your home and teach you how to make foods for yourself, where to grocery shop and how to choose what you want, plan out meals and teach you all the research I have done for myself. It would be a one-on-one thing, and I plan on hosting classes for groups on the side. One of my friends who came, who organizes an incredible farmer's market with a wonderful farmer who picks directly for me (Yay! Horny Toad Farms!), is so eager for my classes that she is volunteering to get it off the ground for me. Instead of trying to stuff a bunch of people into my apartment, I'll be using a larger space and providing a much more structured class. I'm so excited, and it looks like next month will be my first official class!! Each class will center around recipes and specific foods, while the education and information will be discussed as we un-cook. I'm thinking the first class will be dips, since they are easy and delicious and a fun addition to any lifestyle, raw or not.
Almost everyone left just before ten that evening, which is about the time I assumed it would end. One of my friends ended up staying and we chatted until I almost literally kicked her out at 11:30! That's late for the girl who needed to be up by six am for church the next day. We talked about our raw lifestyles (of course) since we are both fully raw, but we also talked about our faith. I try to share with everyone that there is only one reason I am able to completely change my lifestyle successfully and that is by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. It is His strength that carries me through the cravings I get when I'm around people who are enjoying their cooked foods. It is His patience that allows me to finish my green smoothie before I dig into that scrumptious cinnamon roll. It is His peace filling my every moment that keeps my food from becoming my obsession. It is His love that flows through me to share what I've learned with those who are open minded to an alternate path. It is His light shining within me that inspires everyone around me to ask questions and learn more about the Raw Lifestyle. I could go on and on, that's what happens when I'm passionate about a subject...you can't shut me up! :)
Well, even if I haven't worked a stitch on the website as a whole, I can still blog about what is going on! Saturday was my birthday, and my second birthday raw. My first birthday was a bit sad, as my friends were moving to Alabama and I didn't know another soul who was raw. The reason for that is another story all together. But my friends that were leaving within the next month were still thoughtful and considerate and made me this lovely little raw birthday cake out of Larabars. Now Larabars are "technically" raw, but they are mass produced by the General Mills company, bought from a small independent raw founder. So, I consider these my junk food. Very easy to grab one and go...but definitely not a part of my regular diet.
Anyway...back to the story. My friend's had invited me over for a goodbye/birthday party and I received some cute gifts, but my favorite was my "cake". They had taken two Larabars, sliced them thin and layered a cake for me. Very cute, not entirely raw but an A+ in the creative and thoughtful category. :)
This year I am a billion times more confidant creating some raw delicacy for myself. With my friend's help I made a wonderful birthday cake. :) It actually should be considered a pie, but it's my birthday! I took my usual to-die-for Lemon Meringue Pie and she cut up the fruit and I decorated it all pretty. I even added candles and was able to celebrate with a new "sister" and family. My daughter even had a piece and licked her plate clean...now that is what I call success! I had fun making it, and eating it. We all had a slice and I enjoyed the rest of the pie for my dinner. :) Yum!
My fridge/counters are stock FULL and I am still planning on going to ANOTHER farmer's market tomorrow evening! People always ask me how much I spend on groceries, thinking it is an astronomical amount considering the cost of produce (especially organic). I would say for me and my daughter (now mind you, I eat ALL the time because my metabolism is outrageously high), I spend around $250/month. I'm pretty sure that's cheaper than what I spent before. I went to Sprouts today (awesome grocery store, by the way) and picked up lots and lots of food...then I went to the farmer's market tonight and was able to get FREE green onion tops (he was going to throw them away! For shame!). I still have tons of food from earlier grocery trips. Now I go to the store at least twice a week (as I can't buy in bulk because it'll spoil, not to mention I have a small kitchen to work with), however my trips are quick and to the point...no impulse buys and I know exactly what I want. At Sprouts I buy mainly conventional produce with organic apples and pears (the most reasonably priced), and then at the farmer's markets it's all organic. So slowly I'm switching over...but It's slow going. The amount of food I eat...if I went completely organic, it would double my bill.
I had SO much food in my fridge I had to take some out. There are some onions, tomatoes, carrots, and zucchini on my counter awaiting some fun creation. A few days ago I made a pate (that I ate on sliced tomatoes, yum!), that I will eventually make into patties and dehydrate into little burgers. I could add some flax seeds to what I have on my counter, blend it all up and make crackers. Hmm...sounds like a good idea. :) See! You helped me decide what to do!
I also prepare food for Bible Study every Friday evening. Last week it was salsa and guacamole, with cut veggies, but I've done wonderful dishes like Stuffed Tomatoes and Pesto Cucumber Rolls smothered in Bruschetta. That $20 I spend on everyone is well worth it to see them eating wonderfully healthy food for the three to four hours we spend together. It's also my way of tithing...God has given me this knowledge, these gifts, and this money to serve Him. What better way than to feed his warriors as we prep ourselves for battle with His Word?! :)
A few months ago I had heard from at least a dozen people that they wished I had a pamphlet, a recipe book, or a website they could visit and read all the research I talk about. Well, I could direct them (and did) to several other websites, books, pamphlets...but could feel there was much more to this idea. So I started to pray about it. And once I did, the ideas started to flow. Now I know from past experience to be careful about "answered prayer", because there is a war happening and I am smack in the middle of it. To be sure that this wasn't the enemy's way of diverting my attention and devotion from either of the three most important ministries in my life (spending time in the Word, my daughter, and my band), I spent a lot of time praying, pondering, working on it, talking to others, searching the Word, and giving myself some time and space. Rushing into anything has always gotten me into trouble, and when something feels to good to be true, comes too easily to be coincidence, it's not. Either God is nudging me and releasing the talents He's already given me, or the enemy is quick to pick up on anything he might use to his advantage.
Well, it's been a few months of playing with this website and conversing with my Father. I am confidant that He smiles upon this project and as long as what I do points people to Him, then I have the green light. This website is half done by my estimates, and I will be spending a lot of time working on it in the next few weeks. Imagine a ten to fifteen page research paper...and that's the mission I've given myself. Easy as pie for an English major like me, but it's been a few years since any formal schooling. I'd love all the encouragement I can get!
The About Me Page is 95% finished, Green Smoothie Page is 50% finished, Recipes Page is up to date, I will continue to upload recipes often, but I haven't touched the Links page or the About Raw page. These pages are much more in depth, and will need time to finish and perfect. Thank you for your patience, it will not be long. :)
Please leave comments, please share your thoughts, and of course if there is anything you are curious about, please ask...I will try to address it somewhere on this site, if not personally email you directly. May God bless your search!