>Madness!

>A big thanks to Ryan Burk for sharing this article on laws being proposed in both Florida and Iowa regarding documentation of farming practices. Please read and hopefully you too will agree how ridiculous this is! It is amazing how far conventional farmers go to have their practices and conditions covered up… more appalling is that it is BACKED UP by our government! If there wasn’t anything wrong with what they were doing, there’d be no need for such desperate means of protection like this. Please remind me why I live in a country with a government that supports animal abuse, factory farms, and the destruction of the environment? I question this every single day. It’s absurd. There is hope… I feel it…. somewhere out there. I’m grateful I will be studying food policy in my graduate program- I strive to be part of the solution in moving this country and world in a positive direction. And be able to deny deny deny laws like this that are proposed in the future. When I have a farm I hope people take pictures & record the sounds- that is how much LOVE I’ll be giving my animals and plants.

>Zucchini Hummus & Cheesy Spinach Dip

>Last night my good girlfriends got together for what was initially called “wine & cheese” night. Well, there definitely was no cheese. Lots of wine, but no cheese. Somehow it turned into a “raw dip and gluten free crackers/chips and fruit for dessert” wine night. It was all so good! Since Kristin and I both don’t eat cheese, we thought it’d be wise to bring a dish that we could eat and share with the ladies… so I made zucchini hummus and a raw version of a cheesy spinach dip. SO good & loved by all!

Zucchini Hummus: *Adapted from Russell James

2 cups peeled zucchini, chopped
4 Tbs. olive oil
1 and 1/2 lemon, juice of
3/4 cup ground sesame seeds
3/4 tsp. sea salt
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. paprika
1 t ground cumin
Cayenne to taste

Blend all of the ingredients in food processor.

Cheesy Spinach Dip: *Adapted from Sunny Raw Kitchen

1 1/2 cups of cashews (soaked at least for one hour)
1/2 water
1 TBS lemon juice
salt to taste

Blend well in food processor & remove.

Chop up about 3 cups of spinach in food processor & fold into cheese. Add pepper, tamari, and minced garlic to taste. I didn’t add nutritional yeast for additional cheese flavor, however next time it will certainly be added.

>Family Farmed Expo & Local Food

>This weekend my mom & I attended the Family Farmed Expo at UIC in Chicago. It’s always nice to attend an event that showcases things I love: food, farms, and friendly faces. I enjoyed speaking with local farmers & sampling lots of sprouts! I left two hours later a happy owner of some tasty goods: raw honey, sprouts, kombucha, and homemade tofu. We also sampled some AWESOME nut butters. For real the most delicious take on walnut, cashew, pecan, and almond butter I have ever had. Naturally sweetened with a touch of raw honey, coconut oil for creaminess, and a touch of sea salt. wow wow wow. I am already soaking some almonds to make my own…

I was REALLY excited to find the kombucha… I left Hawaii without shipping my mother culture home so I could continue my brewing I started there. For those unfamiliar with kombucha… it is a fermented tea loaded with probiotics. It is really simple and delicious (some may disagree so I’d say it’s an acquired love). A local kombucha company hooked me up with one of their brews that I can actually produce my own mother from-never knew you could do this! Normally you wouldn’t be able to do this with the more commercial brands since they strain the drink so much. The mother culture, formerly called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast), runs the fermentaiton show-without it you’d be drinking regular tea. So I now have a jar with my brew in the cupboard waiting to grow a new SCOBY- I can’t wait to show my Dad in two weeks. I’m certain it will rank on the gross scale at a solid 9 or 10.

Besides the tasty treats I found… the expo reminded me to share resources to shop local, how to find local CSAs and farmers markets. I have always found Local Harvest to be an excellent resource for all these. You can search restaurants, coops, CSAs, farmers markets, etc. for the entire country. Not only is this helpful for finding all the great places local to your home but a great way to know places to eat & find fresh food when you are traveling!

Happy local eating!

>JUICE!

>Back home & reunited with my juicer! yipppee! I love green “lemonade” juices for breakfast. An example of what a typical juice is for me includes the following:

Few handfuls of spinach
2 stalks of celery
1-2 handfuls of other green(s): kale, chard, mustard greens, collards, lettuces, – basically any green that is in season and I have on hand
3-4 carrots
1-2 apples (Fuji are the best!)
1/2 lemon- 1 whole lemon depending on how many ounces I am preparing
1 small piece ginger

Yield: roughly 32 ounces

Other fruit/veggies that are excellent to juice:
Beets & their greens
Pineapple
Oranges
Grapefruit
Cucumber

This juice included apple, ginger, celery, spinach, chard, lemon, and beet.
Before:

After:

>Calculate Your Nitrogen Footprint

>Most of us are familiar with the “carbon footprint” concept, but now there is a nitrogen calculator that was released just last month. Take a moment to read this short & to the point article about nitrogen and its contribution to climate change. If you’d rather have it read to you, click on the four minute audio presentation of the article.

Compared to the average U.S. citizen that has a food consumption N rating of 66 lbs, I’m happy to know my score was only 26 lbs. Biggest contributor to that is exactly what is now well known: one of the greatest ways to minimize your impact through diet is to reduce your intake of animal product. I’m not here to preach vegan or vegetarianism. Realistically I don’t believe the answer is a world of vegans… my belief is simple. Keep it local, support sustainable, and all things in moderation. Less IS more.

Nitrogen Calculator

>Raw Pie Crusts

>There are endless variations for raw pie crusts depending on which nut(s), spices, oils, and extracts you prefer. Here are two I love.

Macademia & Coconut Crust
1 c. macadamia nuts
1 1/2 c. cashews
1/2 c. shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash salt

Blend nuts in food processor into a coarse flour. Add in remaining ingredients. Press into a pie pan and freeze for at least 30 minutes before adding filling. This helps to keep the crust from sticking to the filling as you add it in.

*Great crust for key lime pie

Pecan & Coconut
1 c. shredded coconut
1 c. pecan
1 c. pitted dates (Medjool dates work best)
2 TBS almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Add pecans to food processor and blend for a few seconds until coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients one at a time until well blended. Form into pie pan and freeze.

*Delicious for apple pie

>Ch-ch-ch-chia!

>Chia seeds are one of my new favorite additions to my ever expanding food adventures. Who knew back during the Chia Pet craze that those seeds were actually quite nutritious and can be used in so many different ways- not just as novelty grasses. As for nutritional benefits, chia seeds are rich in omega-3’s, even more so than flax. I have even read that chia has more omega 3’s than salmon.They are also an excellent source of fiber and loaded with antioxidants & minerals. When mixed with water (or any preferred liquid) the seed will form a gel, similar to that of tapioca. Some suggestions for use include puddings, adding to yogurt, smoothies, jams, tea, or grinding up as a flour substitute. Chia will soak up to 9 times its weight in water and forms a gel within 30 minutes!

Whole Foods Market sells Chia with the bulk herbs and spices & is also sold packaged through the Navitas Naturals brand.

Here are some easy and quick recipes to get you started…
PINA COLADA:

1 cup of chia seed gel (Basic gel recipe below)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 banana

Blend on high until well mixed & ENJOY.

BASIC CHIA GEL:

3 1/2 TBS chia seed
2 cups water

Mix & let stand for 30 minutes.

I prefer to stay away from jams/jellies due to the high sugar content-even if organic and not laden with high fructose corn syrup. This is an awesome alternative!
FRESH FRUIT JAM:

1/2 cup chia seed gel
2/3 cup fresh fruit of choice

Place ingredients in blender and pulse until you get the consistency you prefer. If spreading on bread or toast, try a layer of coconut oil instead of butter (with jam on top) for some extra deliciousness.

>Mulberry & Orange Pudding

>Ingredients:
5 ripe avocado
1/2 c. mulberry (or any berry)
1/4-1/2 orange
1/2 c. raw honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients well until a pudding like consistency is formed. Lessen or increase amounts of ingredients if desired-it’s all up to your taste preferences. Use berries that are local and in season to add to the enjoyment!

Refrigerate for at least one hour if you prefer to thicken…. or eat right away.
Freeze to enjoy later in place of ice cream or add to any combination of a raw pie crust to enjoy as a pie…

>Raw Apple Pie

>Last night at our group dinner I made this pie that I use to make a lot back at home. It is so easy & always such a hit! In the crust we used fresh coconut meat instead of shredded which created an extra moist crust-a superb switch from the normal.

Crust:
1 cup coconut (shredded or fresh)
1 cup pecan
1 cup dates
1-2 TBS almond butter
1-2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in food processor until well combined and pecans are chopped small & fine. Form into a crust in a pie dish. Set in refrigerator or freezer while processing filling.

Filling:
Mix 2 1/2 (or 3) apples, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup of dates 1-2 TBS honey or agave in blender until smooth & has an applesauce consistency. Remove and put in pie dish. In food processor add 2 more apples and grind until chunky. Add smaller apple bits into pie and mix all filling until consistent.

>RAW Foods 101

>I guess it only makes sense that with my interest in nutrition, farming, and natural living, I have ventured into the wonderful world of raw foods. I have developed a serious love affair with healthy food; I am that person who gets more excited to see a beautiful bunch of kale or swiss chard than buying a new pair of shoes. Nature is truly miraculous and an incredible provider of nourishment, so to me it’s common sense to eat in a manner than connects me most intimately with nature: raw. While I am not 100% raw, nor ever plan to be, I feel healthiest and most energized when at least 85% of my daily intake is raw. With a little trial and error this past year, I now follow a few simple principles that are easy to maintain and allow for flexibility. By posting recipes and providing health benefits of various foods, I hope to spread the knowledge & enjoyment of healthy, raw foods. Maybe knock out a few preconceived notions. So for those who think this diet is limited to eating cold vegetables…. there is so much you have to learn! & eat!

The theory behind a raw foods diet is to consume food in its natural, least altered state to allow for optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients. This means foods uncooked, untreated, and unadulterated. To ensure the liveliness of nutrients and enzymes, foods are not heated above 118 degrees. One great component is that one can lead an omnivore lifestyle while staying raw. The omnivore route includes raw cheeses, milks, fish, eggs, yogurts, etc. I feel both are equally nutritious and you just have to choose what vibes best with your body & values. One day when I have my own goats I do want to be reaping the benefits of their raw milk and cheese. Until then, I’m sticking to vegan. Consuming fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, sprouted grains/beans, and oils are the core of the diet (raw animal product if desired).

An easy way to begin to incorporate raw foods into your diet is with a juicer. Once I changed my morning routine from a big breakfast to green juices & fruit I knew there was no turning back. What better way to start your day than by infusing your system with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes! So invigorating. Fresh juices, loaded with lots of greens, are an excellent cleanse for the entire body. Even if this is the only change you can imagine making in your diet, I highly recommend juicing or making green smoothies. It is an easy and surprisingly very delicious way to eat greens, one thing many people lack.

There are many recipes I’ll begin posting this week that are real simple to make & even easier to enjoy. Check back soon!