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raw challenge - day 67 - almond milk

raw almond milk

Raw Almond Milk

This week I promise to keep it simple. Way back in early June, nut milk was one of the very first items I mastered and incorporated into my raw repertoire. Not only is it quick, easy and inexpensive to prepare, it’s actually downright delicious. I now prefer it to cow’s, soy or rice milk.

In recent years, many consumers have been turning away from cow’s milk. With lactose intolerance a reality for 75% of the world's population, alternatives are becoming more and more popular. Since the 1990's, the dairy industry has been promoting the consumption of its products as an essential, calcium rich way to ward off the evils of osteoporosis. Yet today North America has one of the highest consumptions of dairy products, and also the highest incidence of osteoporosis. The pasteurizing process (where milk heated to 162* F for about 15 seconds to kill off harmful bacteria and enzymes) also removes up to 66% of the milk’s vitamins (A, C, D, E, B6 AND B12). Personally, I think that unpasteurized milk is a very exciting option, as its maximum nutritional value remains intact. Just one little problemo- it is illegal to sell raw milk in Canada. The only way around this regulation is to purchase shares in a real live cow, from a dairy farmer who is committed to offering such a unique product. It is possible to access, though certainly not easy.

As for soy milk, that’s a whole other can of worms. Soy beans have been fermented and extremely processed by the time they have been transformed into actual milk. Soy also contains a chemical that mimics estrogen, which is concerning to some. Rice milk seems less controversial, as it requires less processing. With soy, rice and nut milks, there is a possibility that they may contain sweeteners and even polyunsaturated vegetable oil. As always, it’s easy to avoid unwanted ingredients by checking your labels.

And last but not least, my new favourite….. the almighty (raw) almond milk. Almonds are rich in magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, and calcium. Making your own nut milk means you control what goes in it. It provides an opportunity not only to be in control of what you put in your body, but also to be creative with ingredients. And did I mention that it’s delicious?

Raw Almond Milk
(Makes 1.25 litres)

1 c. raw almonds, soaked for 8 hours
4 dates, soaked in warm water for 2 hours
5 c. water (divided into 2 equal parts)
2 T extra virgin coconut oil
1 t vanilla
Good pinch of sea salt

In blender add half the water plus all other remaining ingredients. Blend on high for 2 minutes. Strain all but 1 cup of this mixture through a cheesecloth bag, squeezing it by hand to quicken the flow of liquid into a juice jug (as if you were milking a cow!). Return blender to its base, with the 1 cup of milk mixture still in the bottom. Add the remaining water and blend for another 30 seconds on high. Add liquid to the mesh bag and squeeze into the juice jug. Add a tight fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

*Tip- Dehydrate left over nut mixture to make ‘nut flour’ (for about 3 hours). Whirl to a flour in a food processor. Use in flax crackers, etc.


raw challenge - day 60 - corn chowder with fresh salsa

Raw Summer Corn Chowder with Fresh Salsa

Corn Chowder with Fresh Salsa

As I write this post, the wind blowing from the office fan is barely helping to cool my scantily clad, sweaty epidermis. Not that I’m complaining. Canadian summers are far too short. This week’s heat wave is a call to work less, swim outdoors, eat light and generally slow down the pace. These days, meals should be quick, fresh and simple. I’ve already made this soup twice in the last week and just packed the last of batch number two into a thermos. Though using frozen corn to make this soup provides delicious results, I can only imagine how much yummier it could be now that corn season is upon us..... so I'm off to the beach now, for a swim in the ocean and a bowl of summer soup.

Corn Chowder
(Serves 2)

1 c corn kernels (fresh or thawed)
1/3 c raw walnuts, finely ground
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
¼ t salt
Fresh pepper, to taste
1 T fresh lime juice
1 c water
Good pinch of chili flakes

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well, for about 60 seconds. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt, pepper, chili flakes and lime juice). Ladle soup into 2 bowls and garnish with salsa. Then drizzle with 1/2 t of olive oil on each soup.


2 T diced yellow pepper OR tomato
1 T diced red onion
1 T thinly sliced green onion or chives
2 T fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Rind and juice of ¼ lime
Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and toss together.


raw challenge - day 53 - mushroom burgers and catsup

Raw Burgers and Catsup

I’m now over half way through the challenge. With 47 days left to go, how do I feel? Really not that different. The 5 pounds I lost during the first 2 weeks have stayed off. I look the same. I feel the same. (o.k.- I guess that I've never been more, er- regular) I think the same. No earth shattering changes to report and staying on track really hasn’t been that difficult . I think that most of us lean towards consuming more raw foods during the summer months, anyway. The weather is warmer. There is lots of fresh, local produce to eat. But there are still a few unexpected things that I miss. Mostly simple things like rice, hard boiled eggs and catsup….

Someone once told me that food such as omelettes, hash browns, burgers and fries are really just a vehicle for catsup. And I couldn’t agree more. Back in my previous, non-raw life I’d been known to put great care into making a gourmet style sandwich or a fancy-pants frittata, only to douse it with a generous pour of sweet, saucy, tomato-ey catsup. As my inner white trash lives and breathes, I remain an enthusiastic fan of this deliciously diverse condiment.

Just one problem- it’s cooked. Or perhaps it is not a problem at all, but merely a challenge. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you my proudest raw creation to date, raw ketchup. I am also sharing the accompanying recipes for raw mushroom burger patties and flax seed ‘buns’, but really….. aren’t they just the vehicle?

Mushroom Patties

1 ½ T extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ t apple cider vinegar
2 c chopped crimini mushrooms
½ c almonds, soaked 8 hours, rinsed and drained
½ c pumpkin seeds, soaked 8 hours, rinsed and drained
2 green onions, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
½ t ground fennel seeds
½ c parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 t salt
pepper to taste

In large bowl, whisk together olive oil and vinegar. Toss in mushrooms and allow to marinate 15-20 minutes. Process almonds and seeds into small pieces in food processor. Transfer to large bowl. Process mushroom mixture with green onions, fennel, garlic and parsley until chunky. Transfer to same bowl. Add s & p and stir ingredients until well combined. Shape mixture into patties (about 1/4" thick). Dehydrate on parchment paper or Teflex screens @ 118* for 8-12 hours, until crust forms on outside, flipping over at around the 5 hour mark and removing the parchment or Teflex.

Flax Seed Crackers

1 c. flax seed (soaked in 2 c of water for 2 hours)
½ c sunflower seeds
1/2 c ground flax
3/4 t salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 T poppy seeds
2 T nutritional yeast
2 T sesame seeds
1 T apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients together in a food processor. Roll dough out between 2 layers of parchment paper or teflex sheets, peeling away the top layer when the dough is fully rolled out. Dehydrate at 114 degrees for 3 hours. Turn crackers over onto regular mesh screen, peeling away the 1 layer of parchment or teflex. Continue to dehydrate another 3 hours. Remove crackers from dehydrator and cut into ‘cracker sized shapes. Allow to dry on a cooling rack for 1 hour. Store in a tightly sealed container (at room temperature) for up to 1 week.


1 c diced fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 T apple cider vinegar
½ t salt
½ c sun dried tomatoes that have been soaked for 2 hours in warm water
2 pinches allspice
2 pinches ground cloves

Squeeze excess liquid from the sun dried tomatoes and roughly chop. Add to food processor with remaining ingredients. Whirl to combine well. Stop and scrape ingredients down from the inner sides of the processor. Whirl some more, until mixture is smooth. At this point, you can serve the catsup as is (a little rustic in texture) or pass the mixture through a wider mesh sieve. This will make a smooth, glossy catsup that looks like the real thing.


raw challenge - day 46 - sushi + pink pickled ginger

Raw Sushi with Pink Pickled Ginger

If you ever need something rolled at a party, don’t look at me. And despite several determined attempts, I also remain a dismal sushi roller. But I shall continue to practice and, hopefully, sushi rolling mastery is soon to come. While my current maki creations are loosely rolled and full of air pockets, they are delicious none the less.

To make sushi completely raw, cooked rice is not an option. But fear not. Substituting the traditional grain with Turnip 'Rice' (a mixture of minced turnip and rice vinegar) makes for a fresh and crunchy alternative (I ‘glued’ the turnip to the nori sheets with a thin layer of Ani Phyo's Garden Pate, but any spread will do). As for other fillings, raw vegan fillings include ingredients such as cucumber strips, avocado slices, sliced marinated mushrooms, bell pepper strips and arugula leaves. If you are open to including raw fish in your diet, try sushi grade raw fish and seafood, such as tuna, salmon and prawns. Before purchasing raw fish, talk to your local fishmonger and figure out which of their products are both safe and appropriate for raw consumption.

It is said that we eat with our eyes first. Sushi is not only a great opportunity to experiment with wonderful ingredients, but also with visual presentation. Think of how it is usually served in a restaurant- dishware, garnish and décor all contribute to each dining experience. Even using a plain wooden cutting board as a serving platter can be a very attractive way to present your creations. Arranged with Pink Pickled Ginger, (coloured naturally with fresh beet juice), Nama Shoyu (soy sauce) and wasabi paste (or fresh grated wasabi root- if you can find it) home made sushi need not look ‘home made’ at all.

Turnip ‘Rice’

1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 2” cubes
1 T water
2 t rice wine vinegar
2 pinches of sea salt

Whirl turnip cubes in food processor until they form a rice like consistency. Place turnips into a bowl and mix in remaining ingredients.

Garden Pate (Ani Phyo)

1/2 c almonds, dry
1 ½ t grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ - ½ t salt
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large slices
1 celery stalk, chopped into large slices
¼ c red onion, roughly chopped
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 t fresh lemon juice
¼ c raisins (not soaked)

Whirl almonds in food pro, until fine crumbs. It is important to do this first. Remove and set aside. Add all remaining ingredients to food pro and whirl well to combine. Great in wraps, on crackers….or in sushi.

Pink Pickled Ginger

Fresh ginger root, peeled and very thinly sliced (about ½ c)
2 T rice vinegar
Pinch of salt
3 T water
1 1/2T agave syrup
1 t fresh beet juice

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except for the ginger. Stir in the ginger. Place in a tightly lidded container in the fridge. Allow to chill and marinade for at least 4 hours.

For Assembly:

Nori sheets
Garden pate
Fillings of your choice

If you’ve never made sushi before, I’d suggest checking out a how to’ video on You Tube for help with technique (this one has rough camera work, but it’s helpful. Don't bother wetting your hands, as you are not using real rice). Lay each nori sheet on a bamboo sushi rolling mat (buy at any kitchen supply store). Spread a thin layer of pate on the bottom half of the sheet. Cover with a thin layer on the Turnip ‘Rice’ (about 3/8” thick). Add ingredients to your liking, but don’t add too much, or the roll will be difficult to form. When forming your sushi rolls, roll them away from you. If you are having trouble sealing them, dip your fingers in a cup of water and run them along the top edge.


more raw 'ice cream' - with cherries from the backyard!

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream with Hazelnuts and CherriesBackyard Cherry Tree

The cherry tree in our backyard is producing a massive amount of cherries this year- far more than usual. Even the birds can't be bothered to stay on top of the tree's fruit output. What do do? Put some in ice cream, of course. This recipe comes from last post's 'chocolate and banana + hazelnut'. Simply add 1 cup of pitted cherries at the same time as the nuts. I served this one right away like a soft ice cream, rather than returning it to the freezer to firm up. Trust me, it's a winner.


raw challenge - day 39 - chocolate banana 'ice cream'

I Scream. You Scream. We all scream for ice cream!

As far as food preferences go, I simply don't have much of a sweet tooth. Desserts always seem interesting to look at, but I'm rarely tempted to actually eat them. Case in point- it is at day 39 that I am developing my first dessert recipe (with the exception of the 'Rum Balls' I created back on day 11). And they really shouldn't qualify as a dessert, but rather a 'healthy energy ball'.

So what ingredients does one have to work with when making a raw dessert? Nuts and seeds, dates and other dried fruit, avocados, cacao, vanilla, coconut milk and oil, fresh fruit..... to name a few. There really is quite a tasty assortment to work with. This 'ice cream' recipe uses only 5 ingredients and is dead simple to make. After peeling and freezing the bananas 8 hours ahead, the preparation time is less than 5 minutes. I've also started to experiment with other flavours such as 'Banana-Maple with Walnuts'. This 'ice cream' would also serve well in a milk shake, or as a filling in a raw nut crust that is then topped with fresh, seasonal fruit.

Banana + Chocolate 'Ice Cream' (with Hazelnuts)

4 bananas, peeled, wrapped in saran wrap, and frozen for at least 8 hours
¼ c raw cacao or cocoa powder
2 T raw honey
1 t good vanilla
1 pinch of salt
½ cup raw hazelnuts

Remove bananas from freezer and cut into ½” thick slices. Place in food pro and whirl well. Add cacao, honey, salt and vanilla and again whirl well, until thick and creamy. Add nuts and blend quickly, just until they are mixed through, but not ground too small (OR roughly chop them and reserve them until serving time, sprinkling them on top of each serving as a crunchy garnish). Pour mixture into a loaf pan and cover with saran wrap. Place in freezer. When serving, remove from freezer 5 minutes before. Scoop and serve, just as you would regular ice cream.

As an aside, I wanted to share this Design Sponge post about Lindsay Laricks of ‘Fresher Than Fresh’. She has created her own nifty little business making and selling gourmet snow cones. One of the things that makes her concept unique is that she crafts all of the organic syrups herself, often sourcing ingredients from her own back yard garden in Kansas City. And the coolest part of all? She sells them out of her adorable 1957 Shasta trailer, complete with a ‘stick man mascot’ that lights up at night. I see no reason why this icy summer treat could not be emulated in a raw version by pureeing fresh fruit with agave or maple syrup, citrus juices, vanilla, fresh herbs etc. and then passing the syrupy liquid through a sieve. Raw snow cones- why not?


more raw pizza

Raw Pizza

Here is another variation on raw pizza, made by using flax crackers as the crust. This option is adorned with thinly sliced radishes, avocados, arugula, 'Cheez Crumble' and fresh cracked pepper.


raw challenge - day 32 - raw pizza

Raw Flatbread Pizza

Raw Pizza with Mushrooms, Cheez Crumble, Tomatoes and Arugula (and Hummus)

Who among us does not love a good slice of pizza? If you are like me, you probably assumed that this hugely popular food item originated in Italy. Not so. The history of pizza is cloudy at best, with a variety of theories and speculation. But regardless of where it came from, it is a favoured menu item for so many walks of life, having enjoyed enormous popularity on our side of the pond since post World War 2 when American soldiers returned home from Italy, eager to replicate their memorable experiences of this tasty dish. Another huge contributor to the dish’s gaining popularity was the influx of Italian immigrants who had brought with them their rich and delicious food culture.

The ‘Margherita’ (a classic pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag) was created in June of 1889 by chef Raffaele Esposito to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita Savoy. But long before this Naples based creation was first introduced, Babylonians, Israelites, Egyptians and other ancient Middle Eastern people used to eat a flat, un-leaven bread, which was cooked in mud ovens and had an appearance somewhat similar to the pizzas we eat today.

So how the heck do you make a raw pizza? With an open mind and a little creativity, there are countless versions to explore. You are limited only by your imagination. I’ve made quite a few versions in the last 4 weeks, finding them to be a great lunch time item. Teamed up with a green salad and a ‘Rum Ball’ for dessert- I’m sated and fueled up until dinner time. Dehydrated flax crackers are the foundation for this recipe. Don’t be daunted by the labour involved to make them. Once you have made up a batch, they will store well for up to one week. The ‘Sun Dried Tomato Hummus’ for this version requires 4 days of sprouting but, again, once a batch has been made, it’s a very diverse, high energy snack item that will last in the fridge for up to one week. The ‘Marinated Crimmini Mushrooms’ and ‘Cheez Crumble’ toppings are dead easy to make and any leftovers are really yummy thrown into a salad or made into another pizza the next day.

The point of using a dehydrator in raw food preparation is to remove the moisture from food items at a temperature below 115*, as a higher temperature will begin to kill the food’s natural enzymes. Though I was at first resistant to purchasing yet another bulky appliance, I must say that I am now glad to have it. In addition to crisping up my weekly crackers, it is also a great tool for making veggie meatballs, tortilla chips and other pizza toppings such as ‘caramelized’ peppers and onions. And I am well aware that I have yet to come anywhere near to utilizing this appliance's potential, not even having touched upon the world of desserts yet.....

Flax Seed Crackers

1 c. flax seed (soaked in 2 c of water for 2 hours)
½ c sunflower seeds
1/2 c ground flax
3/4 t salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 T poppy seeds
2 T nutritional yeast
2 T sesame seeds
1 T apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients together in a food processor. Roll dough out between 2 layers of parchment paper or teflex sheets, peeling away the top layer when the dough is fully rolled out. Dehydrate at 114 degrees for 3 hours. Turn crackers over onto regular mesh screen, peeling away the 1 layer of parchment or teflex. Continue to dehydrate another 3 hours. Remove crackers from dehydrator and cut into ‘cracker sized shapes. Allow to dry on a cooling rack for 1 hour. Store in a tightly sealed container (at room temperature) for up to 1 week.

Sprouted Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

1 cup sprouted garbanzo beans (soaked in cold water for 4 days, changing water 2 x day)
1/3 c tahini
1 garlic clove, minced
4 sun dried tomatoes, soaked for 4 hours
½ t salt
1 T Tamari
¼ t chipotle spice
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 c water, plus more if needed

Marinated Crimmini Mushrooms

1 T Tamari
1 T water
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 ½ cup crimmini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Add the mushrooms and lightly toss. Allow to stand for 2 hours. Remove mushrooms from marinade and serve as desired. For pizza, roughly chop.

Cheez Crumble

½ cup raw cashew nuts
4 t sea salt
3 T nutritional yeast

Whirl up all 3 ingredients in food processor. Store in the fridge, in a tightly sealed container. Will last for at least 1 week. The nutritional yeast actually makes it taste like parmesan cheese.


raw asian 'noodle' salad with peas, mushrooms and arugula

Raw Asian ‘Noodle’ Salad with Peas, Mushrooms & Arugula

I made this for lunch yesterday and.... yee-ow!... it was yum. Super fresh and super light.

Asian ‘Noodle’ Salad with Peas, Mushrooms & Arugula


1 T tamari
1 c fresh mushrooms, sliced1 1/2 T water
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t fresh lime juice
1 t vinegar (balsamic or apple cider)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t fresh grated ginger
1/8 t chili flakes

1 small-medium zucchini, cut into noodles on a spiral slicer
¾ c fresh arugula, roughly chopped
½ c frozen green peas, defrosted at room temperature for 2 hours
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T black sesame seeds

In medium sized bowl combine all marinade ingredients. Add sliced and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours. In a larger bowl add zucchini, arugula, green peas, olive oil, mushrooms and their marinade and toss all to combine. Serve on a large bowl or dinner plate. Garnish with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.