Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oreo Milkshake

Just in case my oreo pie recipe didn't clue you in, I'll let you in on a dirty little secret. I love oreos. In my pre-raw days, I used to indulge in a box of these seemingly innocent little biscuits more often than I'd like to admit. I say seemingly innocent because in advertisements, they are always being eaten by sweet little children, joyfully dunking their sandwich cookies in tall glasses of creamy milk.

Now I know that the biscuits are made of white flour and a dozen other nasty ingredients that I'm not keen to ingest, and I don't even want to contemplate how they make that cream. But the flavor and texture combination is just so good! Hence, my desire to recreate the oreo experience in a healthy, natural form. Or shall I say forms. Because an oreo pie is great for a special occasion, but it's not something I'm going to whip up for my inner child for an after school (or work) snack.

And so, the oreo milkshake was born. It can be made in under 15 minutes - perfect for an indulgent afternoon snack. The hardest part is opening the young coconut, but once you've done it a few times it will only take you a few minutes. If you want to try this recipe and it's your first coconut, I suggest reading up on how to open a young coconut.

Furthermore, this delicious milkshake is full of nutritional goodness and will leave you positively bursting with energy. Coconut water is among the most hydrating substances on earth, so it will really give your body a boost that you will feel instantly. Raw cacao is full of antioxidants, magnesium, and natural mood elevators (think dopamine, seratonin, anandamine, phenylethylamine, and MAO inhibitors). Yes, there's a reason human beings love eating chocolate: it makes us feel bliss and well-being. I eat it at least once a day, but in its natural, more potent and less adulterated form. The milkshake also contains vanilla bean, which is also associated with feelings of well-being, gogi berries which are high in antioxidants, agave nectar which contains many trace minerals and is a low-GI sweetener, and coconut oil, a great healing oil that is good for the skin and associated with weight loss. Talk about a super snack!

Oreo cookies and a glass of milk have nothing on this milkshake.

Oreo Milkshake
(serves 2)
1 young coconut
1/2 vanilla bean
2 Tbsp raw cacao powder
2 Tbsp gogi berries
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 Tbsp agave nectar, or to taste

Open the coconut and pour the liquid into a powerful blender. Scrape the soft coconut flesh out with a spoon and add to the blender. Add the 1/2 vanilla bean, cacao powder, gogi berries, coconut oil and agave nectar. Blend on high until all the ingredients are fully combined.

Garnish with dried shredded coconut and cacao nibs, if desired. Drink, enjoy, and feel the energy!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Caulibroc: Nature's Love Child

Boys and girls, it's time for a little lesson about the birds and the bees. When a nice broccoli falls in love with a beautiful young cauliflower, they express their love in a special way, and we get...


Thanks to a brave Adelaide grower who took a chance (or an illicit love affair in the vegetable patch), my local organic was stocked up with these gorgeous babies. With big purple blooms atop pale green stalks, I think they look like a raw foodie's bridal bouquet - although this would be pretty hefty to carry down the aisle.

With a normal cauliflower, I'd give it a simple treatment: chopped up into small bits, drizzled with olive or flaxseed oil, and sprinkled with salt. I like to think of this crunchy concoction as my raw substitute for popcorn. But with the caulibroc, I wanted to make something a little bit special - to dress it up with colors and flavors. Aloo gobi, the spicy Indian curry featuring cauliflower and potatoes, came to mind, so I looked to the subcontinent for inspiration. To my humble yet exotic caulibroc I added some green peas for a color contrast, mushrooms for texture, and lots of spice to please the palate.

Here's my raw curry fix, a recipe almost as spicy as the vegetable romance that inspired it.

Caulibroc Curry
1 head caulibroc, cut into florets
½ cup fresh shelled peas
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 bunch fresh coriander/cilantro, leaves and stems separated
¼ cup cold pressed oil (olive, flaxseed, safflower, etc.)
Himalayan salt
1 fresh chili
½ cup sundried tomatoes, soaked, liquid reserved
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
½ small onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp curry powder
½ tsp honey/agave

Combine caulibroc florets, shelled peas, and sliced mushrooms in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Let the vegetables soften while preparing the sauce.

In a powerful blender, combine the remaining oil, coriander stems, chili, sundried tomatoes, ginger, onion, cumin, tumeric, curry powder and honey or agave. Add half of the tomato soaking liquid and blend, adding more liquid as necessary to create a sauce of medium thickness.

Toss the curry sauce with the vegetables. Spread the vegetables over lined dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 115 F/45 C for 2-3 hours to warm and soften the curry. Remove from dehydrator, top with chopped coriander leaves.

Shown here with tamarillo chutney, made from tamarillos that I sneakily picked from the Botanic Gardens. But that's a story for another day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What is Raw Gastronomy?

Let's play a little game. What did you have for breakfast this morning? I'll go first. I had my favorite (at the moment) green smoothie: 2 bananas, a large handful of mint, 3 big spinach leaves, a teaspoon of maca, a teaspoon of chia seeds, and water, blended. Then I went to work, where I served lots of people their breakfasts. Some of them had scrambled eggs with asparagus and pancetta. Others had sourdough toast with raspberry jam and cream. Some just had coffee.

Why did you choose to eat what you did? I chose my breakfast because I think it tastes good, it gives me lots of energy, and I know, intellectually, that it's full of nutrition. Similarly, each customer in the restaurant read through the menu and made their breakfast choice based upon a set of ideas in their head - though their choices were shaped somewhat by what the chef decided to include on the menu (no green smoothies, unfortunately).

Basically, gastronomy is a discipline concerned with what you ate for breakfast. It also covers why you made that choice, the setting in which you consumed it, who you ate with, what you talked about, what sorts of dishes and utensils you used, who cooked it, who grew and processed the ingredients, the cookbook your recipe came from, the development of the dish, what nutrients your meal contained, and just about every other aspect of food and dining that you can think of. Etymologically, the word means "rules relating to the stomach, to eating and drinking," but the term as we use it today refers to something much more specific. Perhaps Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the father of French gastronomy and original food writer, defined it best: "the reasoned understanding of everything that concerns us insofar as we sustain ourselves." Gastronomy is not the study of cookery, cuisine, or nutrition; it is the discourse on these topics.

So what does gastronomy have to do with raw foodism? The raw foods concept is one based upon a basic nutritional precept: the retention of life-giving enzymes. In their natural state, fresh foods contain enzymes that assist in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Once heated above 116 F (45 C), the enzymes start to break down, hindering the body's ability to absorb the food's nutrients. Not only is the body forced to produce its own enzymes to digest the food, which is a strain on the system, but it also treats the cooked foods as toxins, releasing white blood cells to attack the invaders. In a nutshell, eating raw foods gives the body more nutrients in a much more efficient manner, leaving lots of energy for other tasks aside from digesting. The result: eating raw makes a person feel more energetic, alive, and happy, as well as promoting general health and even reversing chronic illnesses.

Being a raw foodist can be the simplest thing in the world. What's more simple than reaching for a bowl of fruit when you're hungry, or cracking some raw nuts, or making a big salad? In fact, most of my day-to-day meals are simply salads, smoothies, or fruit. But if you've read the rest of my blog, you've noticed that I include many ingredients beyond fresh fruits and vegetables. That's where gastronomy comes into play.

Long before I discovered raw, I loved to create in the kitchen. I love the interplay of flavor, texture, color. I love the sensuality of eating. I love the energy of putting a meal together and the joy in sharing my creations with others. For me, becoming a raw foodist does not mean the end of this passion; rather, I have redefined it. In raw food preparation, we do the same things as cooked-food cooks, we just use a different set of ingredients, techniques and equipment. Ultimately, a raw chef has the same imperative as a cooked chef: to create flavorful dishes with respect to the integrity of the ingredients.

From the perspective of gastronomy, I hold raw food preparation to be a cuisine of its own. Any cuisine has rules attached to it: rules of what is considered food and non-food, rules as to how particular ingredients are treated, rules as to how foods are combined, rules as to techniques and equipment used. A cuisine necessarily requires a group of people with a common understanding of these rules. Raw cuisine takes as the boundaries of food anything either in a natural state, or that has been processed without heating to a temperature leading the denaturing of enzymes. There are also a whole new set of ingredients found in raw cuisine, many of which provide flavors and nutrition not found in simple fruits and vegetables. Some of these are the superfoods, which will have to be a post of its own in the future! As for preparation, nothing is off limits as long as it keeps the enzymes in tact. Common preparations can be as simple as chopping and mixing, and as complex as dehydrating, blending, processing and freezing. The stove and oven are no longer necessary, with new equipment such as a dehydrator, spiralizer and blender taking their places. Unlike many traditional cuisines, the boundaries of the community of raw food cooks is not geographical but ideological, largely thanks to the ease of communication today using digital media.

Raw gastronomy, then, is simply the act of writing about raw foods from all angles. To me, this can't just be approached from a scientific/nutritional angle, or an intellectual angle, or a hedonistic angle, or an emotional angle. My love of food is many faceted. Therefore my writing about raw food should express all of the ways in which food nourishes me. Raw gastronomy is what my mind chews on long after my breakfast is over.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Red Cabbage Salad with Sweet Sesame Dressing

I have the winter blues. I miss hot sunshine on my shoulders, heating my body and warming my moods. I miss late lazy afternoons lingering into evenings. Most of all, I miss the sunny fruits of summer - mangoes, peaches, cherries, and my favorites, figs.

The good news is, Adelaide is still a very fertile place in winter. I may not be able to get my juicy summer yummies for a while, but I can get some other delicious fruits and vegetables. I have been going hard on the vanilla persimmons lately - sometimes I'll eat five or six of them for my lunch! My local organic has some great varieties of apples and pears that can't be found on any conventional market shelves. But best of all are the hearty greens and cabbages.

I bought my first head of red cabbage the other day, and I am in love. Crispy, juicy, sweet and spicy - an explosion of flavor and texture in my mouth. And the color - wow! Something so beautifully purple just has to be full of antioxidants and other goodies. I decided to dress this up simply, mixing in some other crunchy, colorful veggies and topping it with a sweet, tangy Asian dressing. The result was a crowd-pleaser among both the raw and non-raw folks at my house.

This salad will help keep the winter blues at bay.

Red Cabbage Salad with Sweet Sesame Dressing

1/2 head red cabbage
1 large or 2 small red capsicum/bell pepper
1/2 carrot
2 heads of bok choy
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 bunch coriander/cilantro
2 Tbsp tamari
2 Tbsp black sesame seeds
a few drops of sesame oil

Finely chop the cabbage and bok choy. Cut the capsicum into thin slices and julienne the carrot. Mix the vegetables in a large bowl and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, mix the honey, apple cider vinegar, coriander and tamari. Pour into a bowl and mix in the black sesame seeds and sesame oil. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Serves 4 as a main dish, more as a side.
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin