I love grocery shopping. I don't think it was always that way. I remember looking down each aisle, feeling a little overwhelmed with all the choices, especially unhealthy ones that I wanted to buy but knew were bad for me. I used to allow myself one night of the cheapest frozen pizza I could find. When it came to making something from scratch, it was almost always easier and cheaper to simply buy something pre-made...not to mention better tasting. So I lived out of boxes, cans, and the freezer.
What a difference to today! I LOVE grocery shopping now...finding out what's on sale, my brain already coming up with fun ideas to make with the produce that is on sale this week. And...most grocery stores only have one aisle I can go down...much simpler and stress-free. I don't cut coupons or worry...I very rarely go over my budget. And now that I've found price matching, why I have plenty to spare and buy specialty items (or just more organic produce!).
The fun thing about having one isle to shop down is that you get to see EVERYTHING in that isle very well. You learn quickly what greens your store has, if they have any organic produce and where they have tucked it away at. Most grocery stores have SUPER inflated prices for produce, and that is a topic for another day..don't get me started, but that's why I love price matching. You get the conventional produce that you really shouldn't get all year round but are essentials (i.e. bananas, pineapples, apples, etc) at very low prices. Like four pounds of bananas for a dollar. Woah. That's a lot of bananas....which I'll take, thank you very much. Anyway...back to the topic...which was?! Oh yes, discovering things in your grocery store.
I tend to frequent Asian markets for things like Young Thai Coconuts, Unroasted Seaweed, and other such lovelies. Well, this past visit had me peeking at every nook and cranny, even if I can't read most of the labels, the foods look so inviting. I found two fruits that I had never tried but had heard of: Lichees and Rambutans. They look crazy, which I love. The Rambutans are the spikey, hairy things that taste a little like grapes...very fun. The Lichees I bought were...not so good. But that's okay, you win some, you lose some. Other fun Asian fruits: Jackfruit, Durian, Cherimoyas...go take a look and take a risk! ;)
One of the perks of living in Phoenix is that the citrus here are literally falling off the trees into your lap. So, come October, November, December, I'll be loading up on Organic Oranges, Grapefruits, Lemons, Limes, and other wonderful things like Kumquats, Loquats, Anna Apples, Tangelos...it's wonderful. I'm actually planning on creating a little business of Gleaners...where we go around and help the elderly by harvesting their fruit for them (so it doesn't just fall off or rot ON the tree and create a nasty mess)...oh, and keeping the fruit for myself...and maybe even selling it! Man, do I get off topic...so the exciting thing is that people have fruit trees in their front yards, back yards, and most don't even notice it! I've seen persimmon trees, pomegranate trees, and peach trees that people aren't even aware they could harvest and eat the fruit because it's not usually sold in stores. Crazy! Well, this is fig season, which I adore. Have you ever had a fresh fig? A dried fig? Neither?! You are missing out!!! These are nature's candies...besides dates, that is. Oh, how I adore figs. I would write a poem or a haiku if I were into that (which sadly, I'm not...but feel free to do so if you are), but i can make a scrumptious creation and share it with you!!!
The woman who harvested her fig tree picked a LOT and gave them to me for FREE (score!), but asked me to make her some raw treat with them. So I came up with these cute little tarts: Fig/Blueberry/Cinnamon filling on an Almond/Date/Cinnamon Crust. Oh, so delicious. (I had the leftovers last night for dinner...just pudding. Yum!)
Lovely Raw Creations
I've been thoroughly enjoying myself in the kitchen lately. I've made some interesting sauces that lead to fun dishes: My friend was craving a Thai Peanut sauce, so we used cashews and made an interesting combination, which led to Thai Cabbage Wraps, and a Thai Cabbage Salad:
Next it was way too many onions in the CSA basket: voila...Onion bread!!! This would be an onion bread sandwich with avocado, ranch dressing, tomato, arugula, and more mung bean sprouts. YUM!
Ahhh, pizza. I thought I would miss you the most. Surprisingly...not so much. But now and then, I like a raw equivalent. I used to try to make large pizzas, but they get so messy and it's hard to get everything onto your fork, and blah blah blah...so now I make little pizza bites. Crust made into crackers, a cheese spread made with sunflower seeds and cashews, and an incredible marinara sauce that I got to use fresh basil in....absolutely heavenly. I used to enjoy Hawaiian Pizza...so now I throw on a pineapple slice for flavor and nutrition...and it tastes eerily similar to its cooked counterpart. :)
A couple weeks ago I was hosting a barbecue at my apartment complex's swimming pool after we baptized a few people. I knew they were bringing hamburgers and such (because they asked me to come up with the onions, tomatoes, and lettuce...lol), and started to get cravings that morning. So, I whipped up some raw burgers, raw buns and let them dehydrate while we had church in my living room. By the time of the bbq...my burgers were ready. I used the same toppings, along with my own raw mayonnaise, and voila! Craving defeated! :)
Last night I decided to make some Strawberry Banana Granola, some cheesy crackers, and I had a bunch of food in the fridge I needed to use up. So...let's combine it all into a dip...and then, hey, let's stuff these mushrooms! Yum!!! Okay, I might have left the mushrooms in the dehydrator a tad too long. Oops! I love my leftover-creations...sometimes they are the best. These stuffed mushrooms are incredible!!!