whole foods and beyond....nourishing the body, spirit and soul

Monday, February 28, 2011

book review: Raw Spirit

book_rawspirit.jpgmy husband really knows the way to my heart...he ordered me five books from amazon for valentine's day! and he knows me really well, because they are all books on nutrition and raw food:) out of all five books, i was happiest to see this one in the bunch: Raw Spirit by: Matt Monarch because i had been wanting to read it for more than a year now. it was very short and i was able to read it in just two days. i was really intrigued as to what this book would have to offer, because i knew it was less about the physical changes that matt went through when he became raw, and more about the spiritual changes he encountered. 

i'm glad i read this book, but i think i would choose wisely who i recommended it to. i really don't think it's a book for beginners into a healthy lifestyle. he has a way of saying that he want "raw overnight and that was it."...and it's just almost unbelievable. for others, the transformation to living a vibrant life can take years, and battling some serious addictions. for those people, i feel like they would feel condemned reading this book. anyone who can relate however, should read his  wife's book, Raw Emotions. she really does walk you through each step of the way to letting go of foods that you no longer need, while realizing that you're human and it's normal to have a few mistakes along the way.

raw spirit did bring up some interesting points though. for a person whose been in the health game for a while, this is a book that will help you really consider going the next step to completely allow your body to heal from the american lifestyle. it was interesting reading about his spirituality spiking when he went raw. i do believe that when we clean our bodies out, we'll inevitably be cleaner spiritually. however, i really like it that i can feel jesus even if i ate something that wasn't cleansing my body:)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

mexican cauliflower

i admit it...sometimes the moment i wake up in the morning, i get excited about all the delicious food i'm going to eat that day. like literally, right when my eyes open and i'm still laying in bed trying to figure out where i am, what day it is, who i am... but all of those thoughts are quieted as soon as i remember what food i have planned to prepare for the day. then excitement runs over me that i can barely contain! this especially happens on days that i make mexican cauliflower. this is one of those dishes that really helps to keep me on the vibrant health path. after marinating and then dehydrating for a few hours, the cauliflower takes on a nice "wilted" texture. the spicy cheddar cheeze that drapes over this dish really keeps me in check when i'm craving something smooth, creamy, melty, cheesey and just well, cheddary.


my husband and i got really into spicy foods this past year after our indian neighbor introduced us to their awesomeness. i think the heat goes really well with this dish, but if you can't handle it, just make it without the cayenne pepper. 

1 head cauliflower
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika

*chop the cauliflower into florets just bigger than bite size. toss all the ingredients in a large bowl, and use your hands to massage all the spices into the cauliflower. set aside and let it marinade for at least an hour.

*place cauliflower on dehydrator sheets and dehydrate on 110 degrees for about two hours.

spicy cheddar cheeze:
3/4 c cashews, soaked 4 hours
1 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp paprika

*drain and rinse the cashews, discarding the soaking water. add all ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. 

*after the cauliflower has been dehydrating for two hours, drizzle the cheeze over the florets and dehydrate for another hour.

mmmm yummmmy.

*garnish with chopped cilantro and have a mexican fiesta in your mouth:)

the next day i ate the left overs in a delicious taco! i just mashed an avocado with lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread that on romaine leaves. then i topped it with the mexican cauliflower...and the fiesta continued!

Monday, February 14, 2011

chocolate chip cannolis

sometimes i amaze myself.

this is one of those times.


this recipe has quite a few steps along with some soaking and dehydrating times. so make note that before you breathe this beauty to life, you'll have to daydream about it for a day or two.

cannoli shell:
1/2 c flax seed
1/2 c water
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/4 c honey
2 tbs coconut oil
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
dash sea salt

*stir together the flax seeds and the water. let them sit for four hours until it becomes gel like.

*in a separate bowl, mix together all the other ingredients. stir them thoroughly into the gelled flax mixture.

*spread the mixture onto a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate on 110 degrees for 12 hours.

*when you remove it from the dehydrator sheet, it should be pliable like a fruit roll up. cut it into 4x4 inch squares.

cream cheese filling:
part 1
1 c dates, soaked
2 tbs honey
2 tbs coconut oil
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt

*soak the dates until soft. drain the water and add all ingredients to the blender. blend until smooth and creamy. set in the fridge.

part 2
1 c cashews, soaked
juice of half lemon
1 tsp sea salt

*soak the cashews for six hours. drain water, and add all ingredients to the blender. blend until smooth and creamy.

*in a bowl stir together part 1 and part 2. set in the fridge.

chocolate chips:
1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c honey
1/4 c cocoa powder

*gently melt coconut oil over low heat. when liquid, turn off heat and thoroughly mix in cocoa and honey.

*pour into a ziplock bag to use as a piping bag. cut the tiniest hole imaginable at one bottom corner of the bag. barely squeezing (it will sort of pour out on it's own) pipe little dots on a plate to make chocolate chips.

with my extra chocolate i decided to make some hearts.

and to add just a little more spice to our valentine's day, i poured some of the chocolate into molds with a little sprinkling of cayenne pepper. woo!

*now take all your plates of chocolate chips and designs and place them in the freezer to firm up. they should be set within ten minutes. any molds you may have made should be stored in the freezer after you pop them out of the molds.

*using a butter knife, pop the chocolate chips off the plate. stir them into the cream cheese filling.

now it's time to assemble!
*lay out your 4x4 inch squares of flax seed shells on a flat surface. place the cream cheese filling in a ziplock bag. cut a medium size whole in one of the bottom corners. carefully pipe three lines of the filling down one side of the shell.

now doesn't that look luscious? 

*ok now just simply roll the cannoli from one end to the other. then place it seem side down on a plate so it will stay closed.

*since it's not even humanly possible to wait any longer to eat this gift from heaven, place the plate in the freezer for a half hour. if you somehow have enough patience, you can let it set up in the fridge for 2 hours.

*use any extra cream cheese filling to pipe on the serving plate and decorate with extra chocolates from your molds.

 i can't even find the words to describe to you how incredible this treat was. i'll im gonna say, is that it changed my life.


Friday, February 11, 2011

chocolate mousse

growing up in a greek family we were always traveling somewhere to see family...and on our way we always stopped to see more family. i think i was in about second grade on this particular vacation in new york when we went to an upscale restaurant with my cousins for dinner. never being shy about ordering dessert, i decided to give this strange sounding thing, "chocolate mousse" a try. it came to me in a martini glass with dark chocolate shavings on the top. and thus, my love affair with sweet creamy desserts began. accustomed to eating desserts like my grandma's homemade pies or harvey wallbanger cakes (look it up kids!), i had never had anything like this before! the decadence! the smoothness! the chocolateyness! over the years, this bond with sweet creamy desserts would grow even deeper as i watched my dad and his greek mustache devour endless lines of gallatoboureko (a sweet creamy greek pastry) and any other sweet creams he could get his hands on. so imagine my delight the first time i tasted a nourishing raw chocolate mousse....


i originally found this recipe at heather pace's incredible raw blog, sweetly raw. i took her recipe and changed around a few things to suite me and this is what i got. behold...the answer to your problems. ok probably not, but this will help you think about better things for a while;)

1 avocado
3/4 c macadamia nuts, soaked for four hours
1/2 c water
1/2 c honey
1/3 c plus 4 tbs cocoa
1/4 c plus 1 tbs coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

* drain and rinse the macadamia nuts. place all ingredients in the blender except for the coconut oil and blend until smooth.

*add the oil and blend again.

*pour into individual serving dishes and chill for at least an hour (this made four servings)

top your desserts with valentiney things like strawberries or chopped nuts for crunchiness. 
walnuts were heavenly;)

the texture is just how i remembered it that fateful day in second grade...creamy, smooth, slightly firm and for lack of better words, moussey.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

simple cucumber salad

one of the easiest ways to stay on track while eating high raw, is to make vegetables the star of the show. the standard american diet usually puts a larger than life cut of meat center stage, and a few wimpy vegetables off to the side. when you can make quick simple salads like this one that are bursting with flavor, it will be easy for vegetables to win the award they deserve on your dinner plate:)


 this salad is light and crisp while bursting with intense flavor. in the middle of winter it will remind you that summer does still exist.....

1/2 cucumber
1 small onion
2-3 tbs olive oil
2-3 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dried dill
1 tsp sea salt
dash black pepper

*cut the cucumber in half length wise. lay the two pieces flat side down and cut in half length wise again. now slice them 1/4 inch thick. toss cucumber in a bowl with all other ingredients and let them mix and mingle. eat right away or prepare a day in advance....the flavors really intensify if you let it party overnight!

Monday, February 7, 2011

orange cream cheesecake with chocolate sauce

with one week before valentine's day, time is running out to daydream about the delicious treats to celebrate with. of course there's nothing better than chocolate on valentine's day...add orange and creaminess to the equation and the results are stunning! let me introduce you to my new best friend:


ok, take a breather and wipe the drool off of your keyboard

a satisfying, nourishing dessert is a heavenly experience. my all time favorite dessert will always be cheesecake. but cheesecake is one of those friends that you trusted, only to find out it stabbed you in your back the first chance it got. whenever i opened my heart...or my mouth...to a friendship with cheesecake, it always invited bloated, sleepy, headache, mind fog, constipation, and mood swings to the party. these are things i would much rather live with out. from now on the party is lined with security from living raw enzymes, vitamins and minerals found in RAW cheesecake!

this recipe has a few layers, but don't be intimidated. just work on one layer at a time, and a decadent valentine's day will be here before you know it!

1 c almonds
1 c walnuts
2/3 c dates
1/4 c ground flax
2 tbs coconut oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
juice from half an orange

*place the almonds, walnuts and salt in the food processor and pulse until crumbly. add in the dates, flax seed and oil and pulse again. stream in the orange juice while the food processor is running until a dough forms.

*drizzle a tbs of coconut oil on the bottom and sides of a round 9 inch pan. press the crust flat on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. place in freezer.

3 c cashews, soaked at least 4 hours
3/4 c honey
1/3 c lemon juice
1/4 c coconut milk (if using from can instead of homemade you may have to add more honey)
5 tbs coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt

*discard the soaking water. juice the lemon. place all ingredients in the blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy. if the mixture isn't moving easily add more coconut milk.

*pour over chilled pie crust.

orange cream:
1 c orange juice
1/2 c dates
1 1/2 inches zucchini, peeled
2 tbs honey
2 tbs hemp seeds
1/4 tsp sea salt

*juice oranges. (it took two to get one cup.) place all ingredients in blender and blend until a thick and smooth pudding like texture is reached.

*pour cream over chilled cheesecake filling.

chocolate sauce:
1/4 c honey
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 tbs butter
2 tbs coconut oil
zest of 1 orange

*melt butter over low heat with 2 tbs of orange zest. (reserve rest for garnish.) turn off heat, and stir in other ingredients. 

*spread mixture over pie working quickly so the sauce stays spreadable.

top cheesecake off with segments of 1 orange and sprinkle with remaining orange zest. if your'e really trying to impress your valentine, drizzle some of the sauce on the bottom of the serving plate.

here's a good look at all the different layers

...and another

ok since this is my new best friend, i just couldn't pick one photo to showcase it's beauty!

this cheesecake is creamy and decadent with a taste of luxury! the orange cream combined with the chocolate sauce will have you rejoicing for healthy treats this valentine's day! and hey, if you don't have anyone to share it with this year.....don't feel bad about eating the whole thing yourself:)

now if you can't scramble up all the ingredients or time for this valentine's day, why not just share a simple green smoothie with your sweet heart?...and also you can let them know that you really care about their heart;)

...nothing says "be mine" like a tall glass of lime green mystery liquid...?

 for this smoothie that i enjoyed with my husband and baby i just threw 1 banana, two handfuls of baby spinach and a few chunks of pineapple in the blender. while it was blending i streamed in just enough water to get it to the right consistency....and voila! an instant green smoothie party with the ones you love!