Sunday, July 29, 2012

Butternut Squash in the Lasagna and Zucchini in the Ice Cream?

Seriously? Yes, seriously! 

This was quite delicious. I love all the colors and it stacks so nicely. Somewhere in one of my raw food books is a butternut lasagna recipe. I remember seeing it, and it was the reason I bought the butternut squash, but I couldn't find it. So when all else fails, improvise, right?

First I sliced the squash on a mandolin, and let it softened in a dish with some olive oil and salt, for probably a couple of hours. Then I rinsed the noodles, and layered them on paper towels.

Using Cashew Butter I made a Ricotta Cheese for the lasagna. I needed my soaked cashews for the ice cream that I had planned for dessert, so the cashew butter came in handy, and worked out quite well. Here are the ingredients I put together to make the cheese.

Our temperatures outside were somewhere between 107 and 110 degrees today. It was a good day to do inside projects and play in the kitchen. The birds love to come to our fountain and birdbath. I try to keep water in all our bird baths, and I suppose even though the water must get horribly warm, it still helps the birds cool down. I love to watch them. I got very side tracked many times while working in the kitchen just watching the birds! 

Ok, back to the lasagna! Next I played with the spinach. I wanted to soften it rather than have it so crisp. I added some olive oil, lemon juice and Italian seasons and tossed it with my hands until it got wilted. As I played with it, it released the freshest spinach smell!

Next up, tomotoes and marinara sauce. Well, that was really easy because I had those in the refrigerator! A nice heirloom tomato and marinara that I made recently. Slice the tomato and bring the marinara to room temperature, and it will be time to assemble the lasagna!
I put the marinara sauce in a bowl and then put it into a larger bowl with hot water in it. It works really well to take the chill off the sauce without cooking it! OK, so let's put this baby together!

First layer, butternut squash noodles.
Spread them with the ricotta cheese,
and add some spinach. 
 Add another layer of noodles, some marinara and sliced tomato.
Only one more layer left. Add another layer of noodles, spread it with more ricotta cheese, spinach, and stand up a beautiful slice of a heirloom tomato on the top, and it begs to be eaten!
So pretty. And so good. And so gone! We ate it all! But we weren't done eating yet! On a hot day like today, you have to have ice cream! I got the recipe for this ice cream, "Creme de Brrr - Vanille," at Kat Conrad's Raw Food 101 class at Whole Foods this past Friday. It is a quick fix with very little preparation, and makes a fantastic soft serve. I cut the recipe in half, and we ate it all!

Here are the ingredients:
I have to plug my Blendtec that I used to make this recipe. The twister jar is awesome. No need for a tamper, or having to stop blending to scrape the sides. It just does it all! I love it.
It is ready! That zucchini is nowhere in sight! It just blows my mind that zucchini can actually be in ice cream!
I sprinkled cacao nibs on my husband's bowl of ice cream, but he ate it so fast I didn't get to take a picture!
So now when you don't know what to do with that butternut squash, or zucchini, that is just hanging around, try lasagna or ice cream!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There was a picnic at the kitchen!

From the red and white check table cloths, to the apple cobbler with ice cream, this was a great picnic!

My chef friend, Denise, owner of the Raw Intentions Kitchen, is just so creative when it comes to food. And the last Dinner and Movie Night she did at the kitchen was no exception! It was over 100 degrees outside, so a picnic inside was in order.

The menu for the night looked incredible and as each course came out of the kitchen we were not disappointed.

First out of the kitchen came the Deviled Eggs and the Crimini Mushrooms. The deviled eggs were made from lemon cucumbers cut in half and stuffed with Denise's phenomenal Eggless Egg Salad. I LOVED these! And my husband was hooked on the Crimini Mushrooms that were stuffed with an avocado mixture. 
You have to admit it, they really look like deviled eggs, right? And they were delicious!!

A Summer Salad arrived next. This was a perfect mix of greens - spring mix, spinach, and watercress, garnished with tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, sprouts and almonds, topped with a wonderful herb dressing.
Next we were served what I think was the most amazing course of the meal: a "basket of goodness" as Denise named it! It came in a red plastic basket that was the perfect presentation for this course. I had to share a basket with my husband and I could have easily coveted the entire basket, along with a few others on the table, all for myself! It even came with honey mustard, ketchup and mayo on the side! I dipped in all of them. 

OK, so check this out...
... starting at the bottom: onion rings, kale chips, sweet potato chips and hiding under the tongs and paper is fried okra. All of these were brilliantly prepared in a dehydrator. I don't even like okra but I sure liked this okra. 

Ah, here's a picture that shows the fried okra...
Seriously, does that not look like fried okra!!! The only thing this course did not need was the tongs, because our fingers worked great!!

Now when you think of a picnic or cookout, hamburgers come to mind. Well, us raw food vegans do not eat meat, or cheese, or even bread, so you would not think that a burger would be part of this meal. But out of the kitchen came the burgers.  I just don't know how she pulls this off! 
This is Denise, explaining to us how the burger, cheese and bun was made along with the ingredients. (She really was not asleep when this picture was taken - but it was the only shot I got so I am using it!!!!) Again, she used the dehydrator to prepare the burger, cheese and bread and it was loaded with all kinds of ingredients. So here is the close up shot. Look at that slice of "cheese!"
I put the ketchup on one side of my bun and the honey mustard on the other side, with all the fixings added. It even dripped like a juicy burger. It was very dense, and very filling, and my plate was totally clean when I finished!!!
Looks good even with a bite out of it! If you look hard you can even see the first drip!

Now it was movie time. The featured presentation was Supercharge Me. This is a documentary about Jenna Norwood's 30 day raw food journey. She is a former public relations consultant turned independent filmmaker, heath educator and raw food chef. The discussion following the movie was very interesting. And those attending the "picnic" shared some of their own stories about their experience of raw food that were very inspiring. 
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, including a picnic. And this was the perfect ending to a perfect evening. Apple Cobbler with Cinnamon Dulce Ice Cream.
The ice cream was my favorite part of this dessert. And no, there was no dairy in this ice cream.

As usual, I am amazed not only at the benefits of eating a high raw diet, but also at there results of what can be created from combining simple living foods. 

If you are in the Tulsa area, consider attending the next Dinner and Movie night at the Raw Intentions Kitchen. It is on Saturday, August 18th. You will need to make a reservation, and it fills up fast, so watch the website to sign up. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I love my life!

Happy "New Life" Birthday Number Two to Me!

Can you remember times in your life that changed you forever? Maybe marriage, a birth of a child, a death, an event, a person who touched your life, or maybe a decision you made? There are so many life events. One such for me was a life-giving event. It happened two years ago. July 19, 2010. Exactly one month after my 60th birthday. It was a decision I made to simply choose to eat whole living foods. Nothing earth shattering. I gave up processed food, refined sugars, and meat. What followed has been a journey I never would have even been able to dream up! My live has been changed in so many positive ways.

So why did I do it? At that point in my life it was more like why not! I was pretty miserable. Fibromyalgia had been part of my life for several years, my weight was up, my cholesterol was up, my prescription costs were up, and stress was up. I was always tired, always aching, and afraid that it was all downhill from where I was. I thought that the way I felt was just part of getting old. Adapt and deal with it. So when changing what I was eating to fix lots of these problems was proposed by my Doctor, why not! What did I have to lose?

I decided to give it six weeks. It turned into a new start, the beginning of a new me and a new life-style. My six weeks has turned into two years. And I am never going back! I had immediate results, and like a new baby that develops in nine months, I did too. And it is still happening.

My eating habits have evolved over the two years. Processed foods, meat, and refined sugars were the first to go, then cheese and dairy, and then all of a sudden coffee and caffeine were no longer a choice, and now new foods that I had never even heard of two years ago fill my plate. Oh the glories of eating! The produce department has become my pharmacy! I love standing in the doorway of my refrigerator! Most of my food isn't even cooked anymore! It is incredible what can be created with raw food!

I feel the best I have felt in years. I have more energy today than I did ten years ago. I certainly do not feel "old." I do not get sick. I am happy. I handle life with a different perspective and clarity. I have a better attitude of gratitude. I have been blessed by new friends and people who have had an amazing positive impact on my life in the last two years. And I am proud that my example has helped others change their own lives as well.

I have certainly had lots of people in my life who don't really understand why and how I can choose this lifestyle. And that is OK. And then I have had those in my life who have truly supported my choices, given me encouragement, and totally understand it. My husband has supported me, and the choices I have made, from the beginning. His pride at times was almost embarrassing (but don't stop honey!!!). He is like having a personal cheer leader. But the best part is we now share this lifestyle, and he too has been changed. And I truly love that. We are healthy and happy together!

I do believe we are what we eat. I believe God made our bodies to work in perfect harmony with the living foods He has provided us. I believe no one is responsible for my health, except me. I believe my choices have made all the difference in my life. I am adding years to my life and life to my years. I believe knowledge is power, and I continue to seek and find all that I can that pertains to nutrition and health. I am saddened by the manipulation and greed of our government and other individuals when it comes to the food and dairy industries, pharmaceutical companies, and the well being of our people,  but hopeful that each of us can make a small difference that collectively will result in great changes.

So happy "new life" birthday to me!
It feels so good to be the new me!  
Today begins year number three!
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