Healthy Veggie Burgers.

Finding a healthy “veggie” burger is a lot harder than it sounds. Sure, you can find one on just about every menu. But when is a veggie burger not really a veggie burger? When the ingredients look something like this:

water, soy protein concentrate, wheat gluten, contains less than 2% of methylcellulose, salt, caramel color, dried onions, yeast extract, sesame oil, hydrolyzed wheat protein, natural and artificial flavor (non-meat), disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate

These are the ingredients in one of the better burgers out there. For most the list of ingredients gets longer and a lot harder to pronounce. When it comes to food I have to agree with Michael Pollan, if I can’t pronounce it, I certainly don’t want to eat it. For most of these burgers soy in some form is a key ingredient. Many non-organic soy products contain traces of the neurotoxin hexane. Soy processors use hexane to divide the beans into fat and protein. The beans are cracked, heated, and rolled into flakes, which are then soaked in a hexane bath to extract the oil. All of these products are made from gmo soy. Which raises an entirely new set of concerns. I looked at the countless options of “meat-free” products in the grocery store and couldn’t find one brand that was both organic and used non GMO soy. Ditto for the health food store.

So what is a girl to do when trying to find a worthy healthy companion for the carrot dog? You guessed it: make your own.

The following recipe is a slightly modified version of the slider burger recipe from Raw Soul. The great thing about this burger is that it can be eaten raw or cooked. Either way, absolutely delicious.

Burgers
3 cups soaked walnuts (soaked overnight)
½ cup sprouted green lentils
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (soaked 2 hours)
½ minced onion
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 large minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup flax meal
Water as needed

In food processor, pulse all ingredients, except parsley and flax meal until smooth, adding water if needed. Move to bowl. Add parsley and flax meal. Mix well and form into burgers.
Dehydrate for about 6 hours on a teflex sheet. Turn over and dehydrate for about 2 more hours. Don’t over dehydrate, they should still “give a little” and be moist on the inside.
If you want to cook these, the best way is to pan sear them on each side and then cook over medium low heat for about 5 minutes each side.
They keep in the fridge for about a week.

To Sprout Lentils:
Soak lentils in a bowl of water overnight, rinse
Drain into a colander with a fine mesh screen
Place Colander over a small bowl and cover with a dish towel. In a day or so they will have sprouted little tails like the photo above.

Carrot Dogs on the Grill

It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy……… It wouldn’t be summer without hot dogs and hamburgers right? No, not your traditional variety

something a littler fresher, a little healthier, and so much more delicious: Carrot Dogs. I must confess,these are not my invention. I tasted my first dog almost 5 years ago in the Brooklyn backyard of my dear friends Kristina and John. These were John’s specialty and I have to say they have haunted me ever since. So hot dog like (but in a good way) and so easy. John generously shared his recipe which I think originated at a place called Mr M’s pub in Omaha Nebraska. It isn’t a crunchy veggie place just a regular pub that happens to have carrot dogs on the menu.

Seeing these on a traditional menu is one of those things that makes my heart sing. I have tweaked the marinade a bit, so that it has just the right amount of salty and spicy. One of my favorite ways to have these is with homemade sauerkraut and mustard. Yum. They can be grilled or not it is up to you but it IS summer after all, so fire up the barbie while you can and enjoy this happier healthier dog.

Carrot Dogs
6 medium sized carrots, with the ends cut off
Marinade:
Whisk together
1 cup Nama Shoyu (available at most health food stores) you can sub low sodium soy sauce if Nama Shoyu is not available
1 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove of minced fresh garlic
Directions:
Steam the carrots until they are tender; you should be able to pierce them with a fork.
They should be cooked through but still be a little “al dente”
When tender, drain the carrots and place in an ice bath. Drain again.
Transfer the carrots to a glass storage container. Pour the marinade over the carrots and refrigerate. 4-6 hours or overnight is best.
Remove from marinade and serve, or place on grill for about one minute.

The Importance of Enzymes

enzymesThe food we choose to EAT is one of the most important decisions that we can make when it comes to maintaining our health.  The more fresh fruits and vegetables that we can incorporate into our diet the healthier we will be.  In fruits and vegetables there is a life giving element that exists: enzymes.

There are 2 groups of enzymes: exogenous; those found in raw food and endogenous; those produced within our bodies.

Enzymes are one of the most essential elements in our body.   Life itself depends on them.  We need enzymes for every bodily function.  Every breath you take, every move you make, every thought you think and every action you take requires enzymes. Enzymes are an absolute necessity to life.  They are your body’s workers. They assist in keeping our body in top form by lowering cholesterol, cleaning the colon, breaking down fats, strengthening the immune system, detoxifying the body, cleaning our lungs, and building muscle.

When we feed our bodies with enzyme-deficient food, our body systems start to slow down and deteriorate.  Cooking food destroys 100 percent of the enzymes in that food. When you eat cooked or processed foods your body must produce ALL the enzymes required to digest that food.  When we are born we are given a limited amount of enzymes.  This is like an enzyme bank account.  If you don’t make regular deposits into your account by eating foods rich in natural enzymes, you start to deplete your account and use up your enzyme supply.

After a prolonged period of depleting the enzymes in our body it starts to work overtime to produce more enzymes, causing extra stress which affects our immune system. This lowers our ability to protect from and fight diseases. Our digestive system eventually slows down causing food to be undigested. This undigested food stays in our system creating a toxic environment that saps your energy, clouds your thinking and is a breeding ground for illness.

The good news is that with the simple addition of fresh fruits and vegetables to our diet we can prevent the depletion of these enzymes.  All fresh and raw foods have naturally-occurring enzymes. Start by adding a fresh fruit or vegetable juice into your daily routine.  Carry bananas, apples, or avocados with you for a snack.  Start dinner with a salad instead of bread.

Start slowly, changing old habits with new fruit and vegetable inspired choices, and welcome the feeling of newfound energy with the addition of these life giving enzymes.

Chia Seeds: An Ancient Super Food.

chiaChia seed is an ancient superfood.   It is a member of the mint family: Salvia Hispanica. The little seeds were once a staple of the Incan, Mayan and Aztec cultures, along with the Native Americans of the southwest.  Chia is actually the Mayan word for strength. The seeds were used by these ancient cultures as energy food, especially for their running messengers.  In the southwest United States chia seeds became known as “Indian running food.”

Chia seeds are an excellent source of dense nutrition with their healthy omega oils, easily digestible protein, and antioxidants. In fact, chia is so high in essential fatty acids that it contains eight times more omega-3s than salmon.  They are also full of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Research has linked this valuable food as being beneficial for many health issues, including diabetes, hypoglycemia, celiac disease, and lowering cholesterol.

  • Chia Seeds are a complete protein with all 9 amino-acids.
  • Chia is the richest non-marine whole food source of Omega-3 and dietary fiber currently known to man.
  • They have six times more calcium than milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that helps transfer calcium into your bones.
  • They contain greater amounts of high-quality protein than found in soy.
  • Chia seeds work like an incredible digestive broom, sweeping through your intestinal tract, helping to remove toxins and eliminating old accumulated waste in the intestines.
  • They have 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas
  • They have 3 times more antioxidant activity than blueberries.
  • They have 3 times more iron than spinach, which is needed to carry oxygen from the lungs into the muscles and organs
  • Chia´s high fiber content and its ability to reduce blood sugar levels after meals inhibits the appetite making it a perfect food for effective weight loss.
  • They improve endurance by keeping the body hydrated and the electrolytes balanced, making them a perfect food for athletes.

In fact, Chia seeds are a perfect food for everyone.  But how do you begin to incorporate these magical little seeds into our diet?  The easiest way would be to start sprinkling them on your next salad.  They have no flavor on their own and take on the flavor of whatever they are added to.  Another great way to enjoy chia seeds is in your next morning smoothie.  Get in the habit of having some prepared chia gel in the fridge.  Prepared chia gel lasts about 1 week in the fridge.  Add 2 or 3 tablespoons into the blender with your favorite recipe.

Get creative!  Think chia jams and jellies, chia pops and puddings.  And then get consistent. Get in the habit of incorporating this super food into your diet, and embrace the strength of the ancient seed.

Basic Chia Gel

2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 cup of water

Add water to chia seeds and mix well.  Let stand for 15 minutes then stir again,  then let stand for 15 minutes more.

That’s it.  You now have chia gel.  Enjoy!

A Holiday Gift Guide for the Yogi to Live By.

Part 3: Gifts to give for  Eating.

carols

Books:

rawfood
1.  Raw Food/Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow
by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis

sweetGratitude
2.  Sweet Gratitude: A New World of Raw Desserts
byMatthew Rogers and Tiziana Alipo Tamborra

cookEverything
3.  How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food
by Mark Bittman

Other Fun Gifts:

giftBasket
1.   Bring a basket of fresh vegetables and herbs to your next Christmas soiree.   Bartlett’s Farm has a wonderful selection of delicious organic greens and herbs.  Add in a few pomegranates and you have a living gift that any chef would love!

vitamix
2. This is the big splurge of all 3 lists, but it is an appliance that you will use everyday.  It is great for smoothies and soups, sauces and ice creams.   It guarantees that you will start eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and what could be a better gift than that?
Available at:  http://www.vitamix.com/index.asp or amazon.com

hamiltonBeach
3.  Hamilton Beach 67650 Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor. This is another appliance that I use everyday.  Starting the day with a fresh juice is a habit I strongly encourage.  This juicer is durable and afordable.
Available at: amazon.com

candlelitdinner
4.  The best gifts are those that are gifts of our time and attention.  Surprise the honey on your list with a romantic candlelight dinner  prepared by you.  Hire a babysitter and clear the calendar. Even if you are not a great cook, give it a whirl,  The love in the preparation will be readily apparent.

After all, that is what this Christmas celebration is all about, giving of ourselves and sharing our love.

Happy Thanksgiving! A Raw Pumpkin Pie Recipe.

pie1

Pumpkin Pie

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving, a holiday that revolves around EATing?  A day where we get to gather around the table and take a moment to reflect on all that there is to be thankful for.  There are no presents to buy, not much to do (except maybe watch a football game) so we really get the opportunity to enjoy each others company and just be.  My mother started a wonderful tradition many years ago.  Before we dig in to the feast, we go around the dinner table and talk about what we are thankful for.  When we first started doing this my sisters and I were much younger and we and would roll our eyes a little bit and play along to appease her.  Now it has become a most meaningful moment in the day.  It is so easy to focus on what is wrong in our lives or in the world.  By taking a moment to pause and share what there is to be grateful for, we embrace the true meaning of the holiday.

pie2

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pie and what better way to celebrate than with the quintessential Thanksgiving treat; pumpkin pie?  Try this raw version and you will be amazed at how delicious it is.

Pumpkin Pie

2 cups of soaked and dehydrated pecans
1 cup of pitted medjool dates
½ cup of raw coconut oil
½ teaspoon of cinnamon

Filling

2 cups of cashews soaked overnight
1 cup of sugar pumpkin juice
(To make the pumpkin juice: run ½ of a small seeded sugar pumpkin through a juicer)
½ cup raw agave syrup
½ cup melted raw coconut oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of cloves

Blend pecans in a food processor until ground into a fine flour like consistency. Add the dates and cinnamon and blend until it forms a sticky dough.  Press the dough into a 9 inch pie plate.  I like to flute the sides with a fork for a traditional old fashioned look. Place the crust in the freezer to set for about an hour.

pie3

Place all of the filling ingredients in a Vita Mix or other high speed blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into the crust and return to the freezer at least 2 hours or overnight.

Once the pie is set, you can store it in the fridge until dinner.

Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Raw Cacao and How To Make Raw Chocolate Candy.

cacao

Raw Cacao

It is that time of year when all thoughts turn to chocolate.  Halloween and chocolate candy, they just go together.  Even with all of our trick or treating many of us have  have never eaten “real chocolate”.  Most commercially produced chocolate bars, (think Hershey’s) only contain about 10% actual chocolate, the rest is sugar and fillers.

This year why not EAT some delicious real chocolate candy made with simple raw ingredients?  Making raw chocolate is probably one of the easiest things you can do. As a bonus it just happens to be good for you.   In fact, Raw Cacao is considered a super food. It contains theobromine which invigorates our entire system, phenylethalamine which increases our sense of happiness and well being, trytophan which elevates and stabilizes our mood, anandamide, the “bliss” chemical which relaxes the body and the mind. It is higher in anti-oxidants than green tea and wine. It also contains protein, good fats, calcium, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, folic acid, and the vitamins A, E, K.  It is rich in iron.  Super food indeed!

The most important part of this indulgent experience is to make sure that you use truly raw cacao. The health benefits are only derived from cacao in it’s raw state.  One of my favorites is Pacari from Ecuador.  It is organic, heirloom (never heated above 118 degrees), and single origin (not blended with cacao from other countries or regions).  These are 3 important things to look for when you are purchasing raw cacao.

The next part is to have fun choosing a mold.  There are thousands to choose from, ranging from bugs and spiders to hearts and flowers.  They are very inexpensive and can be used over and over again.

Basic Raw Chocolate

  • 1 cup of raw cacao butter
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons of raw agave nectar

Melt the cacao butter over low heat.  Either in a dehydrator, in a double boiler with hot water, or in a sauce pan over the lowest heat.  If using the stove top method, you can keep an eye on the temperature with a candy thermometer making sure not to bring the cacao over 118 degrees.  Once it has liquefied, whisk in the cacao powder and agave until smooth.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and then fill the molds.  Set in the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes until set and then pop out of the molds.  Because are no chemicals or stabilizers in this yummy chocolate keep them in the fridge until serving time.

From there get creative!  You can add chopped nuts, coconut, or dried fruit.  Add pure mint extract for a chocolate mint.  Play with flavors and textures to recreate your favorite candy bar.  Indulge in a little raw chocolate and Have a Happy Halloween!

Pacari Cacao can be found at:

http://www.therawfoodworld.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=100148_100215_100335

Chocolate molds can be found at:

http://www.amazon.com/ keyword: chocolate molds

Pick Your Own Tomatoes at Bartlett’s Farm with Raw Bloody Mary and Sun-dried Tomato Recipes.

tomatoes1

On Saturday, Bartlett’s Farm held pick your own tomatoes day. It was a little slice of heaven walking through the fields, canvas bags in tow, and filling them to the brim with all the delicious varieties.   At only one dollar per pound, it was the deal of the season.  Walking up and down the rows, I was mesmerized by the colors, the ripeness, the abundance.  Our fellow pickers were smiling and happy, sharing ideas and recipes.  It was a true example of the joy that can be found in the simple moments of the everyday.

Now what to do with 17 pounds of tomatoes?  First, share a few with friends, then get to work preserving the last taste of summer.

Tomatoes are full of wonderful vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, K, niacin, and folate.  Potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, and chromium. Various studies have shown that the lycopene in tomatoes can help reduce chances of prostate cancer, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer. Lycopene is considered a “miracle” anti-oxidant that may help to stop the growth of cancer cells.

tomatoes2

Dehydrating tomatoes is a great way to preserve them without a lot of messy work. Once they are dried, you can reconstitute them by soaking them in some hot water.  The flavor is rich and concentrated as a tomato paste would be. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can dry them in the oven at the lowest setting.

Dehydrated Tomatoes

  • Slice tomatoes about ¼ of an inch thick
  • Lightly sprinkle with sea salt
  • Place on dehydrator trays so that they do not touch.
  • Set dehydrator to 135 – 140 degrees (the temperature of the tomatoes will remain below 118 degrees)
  • Dehydrate for approximately 12 hours.
  • You can store them in a cool dark place in an air tight container for 6-9 months, or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one year.
    • 2 large tomatoes
    • ½ cucumber
    • 1 celery stalk
    • 1/3 bunch of parsley
    • ½ lemon peeled
    • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated horseradish
    • Pinch of sea salt
    • Water as needed
  • Oven option:

    Place tomato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Set oven to 200 degrees, Allow the tomatoes to dry in the oven about 8 hours or until they become shriveled, checking frequently during the last couple of hours to ensure that they don’t scorch.  Cracking the oven door open can help prevent the heat from getting to high.

    The easiest fresh tomato juice can be made in a Vita Mix or other high speed blender.  No scoring, no peeling, no boiling, no waste just fresh delicious juice!

    Joann’s Veggie Mary

    (You can substitute ½ of a fresh jalapeño or a pinch of cayenne powder for heat)
    Puree all ingredients in blender.  Serve with cucumber stalk.

    

Juicing for Your Health.

Beet_juice-01

In this case it is actually, DRINK.  Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are one of the best things that you can put into your body.  Fresh juices are a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, live enzymes and phytochemicals.  By juicing rather than eating you are giving your body all the life giving benefits of the plant without having to work so hard at digesting.  Therefore, the results of juicing are felt almost immediately.   It’s a great way to get an early morning burst of energy and a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.  You might not be able to eat 6 carrots, an apple, a beet and some ginger for breakfast, but you can easily juice them.  Already, you have knocked off the equivalent of 4 servings of fruits and vegetables in one easy to drink delicious glass.  So why not just grab one of those new “all natural” juices in the easy travel plastic containers off the shelf?  The major reason is that these juices are all pasteurized.  While pasteurization may kill unwanted potential bacteria, it also kills everything else along with it.  You are left with none of the vitamins minerals and enzymes that naturally occur in fruits and vegetables; you are left with sugar water.  Do yourself and your body a favor invest in a juicer.  Start incorporating just one juice a day.  You will look better, feel better, and have more energy almost immediately.  Happy juicing!

Red Sky at Night

  • 6 carrots
  • 1 apple
  • ½ beet
  • 1 inch knob of ginger

Juice together and drink immediately.  If ginger is not your thing you can omit it.  Yum!

Ted’s Green Juice

  • 3 large leaves of Swiss chard or Spinach or Kale
  • 1 cucumber
  • ¼ lemon
  • A handful of parsley
  • 1 apple (quartered, seeds removed)

Juice together, and then drink immediately.

Check out:

Amazon.com for a great selection of juicers at prices for every budget.

Delicious Young Thai Coconuts.

coconut

The young thai coconut is one of my favorite things to eat.   In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as kalpa vriksha, meaning “tree which gives all that is necessary for living”   Both the liquid and the meat inside are very different from a traditional brown skinned mature coconut.  The liquid is almost clear with a faint scent of almonds and the meat can vary from thin and soft  to a thicker meatier texture. Coconut meat is an excellent source of medium chain fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Fresh coconut water contains lauric acid, b vitamins, potassium, and electrolytes. Eating a coconut can prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol.  It can instantly rejuvenate you when you are feeling dehydrated.

Where to find them?  That can be the tricky part.  If you live in a city you are in luck as they are readily available in any Asian market. Whole Foods and Fresh Direct are now carrying Young Thai Coconuts every day in the produce section.  Most major grocery stores can order them for you if you ask.  You can also order on line, but the shipping cost due to the weight of the coconuts makes ordering this way extremely expensive.

Do something wonderful for your health, drink fresh, delicious coconut water.  Use the meat in smoothies instead of dairy or soy for a rich creamy consistency.  Seek them out, it is worth the effort.  Happy coconut hunting!