Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Walk the Raw Line somewhere in the middle....

As someone who is constantly studying nutrition, health and wellness, I find it extremely interesting (and maybe a little frustrating) that there are so many different opinions on what is healthy for us. This post is inspired by a recent conversation I had with a friend about being or not being raw, and also a debate about agave nectar that was brought to my attention. It seems that everywhere you look, someone is saying something completely different about a food or health tidbit that you thought for sure was the truth. From "stop eating by 7" vs "it doesn't matter when you eat, just what you eat," to "cooking food destroys the vitamins and enzymes" vs "heat is needed to release certain vitamins and minerals," it goes on and on. (Btw: "it doesn't actually matter when you eat, just what you eat" is true, and both of the raw vs cooked food statements are true). So how do we ever find the actual truth? Good question! Lol. I'm not exactly sure. But what I do know is that usually when something is extremely on one side of the equation, it is most likely NOT the truth (unless it is something obvious), because the world isn't as black and white as maybe we would like it to be. To relate it to something, think of a relationship that you debated about staying in.... Some parts were probably amazing, while others maybe not so much; it wasn't all positive or all negative. It's the same thing with nutrition and health. 

I changed the title of my blog from Selki's Raw World of Health to Selki's (Mostly) Raw World of Health, because I didn't want to give the wrong impression. I am not 100% raw, nor do I strive to be. I do think that eating a lot of raw foods is beneficial to the body, ie greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, etc (all the things that are naturally raw), but this doesn't mean that cooked foods are not healthy as well. Grains and pseudo-grains like brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat (not actually a wheat), and amaranth are great sources of proteins, vitamins and minerals, and cooking foods with the proper oil and the proper amount of heat is also very healthful. I actually follow what I like to call a "whole foods diet." (no, I don't only eat food from the grocery store of that name!) I try to feed my body with real, whole foods that occur naturally and haven't been processed, because this is when my body feels the best. The reason I am so drawn to the raw way of eating is because you are pretty much guaranteed that no chemicals have been added to the food, and that no processing has occurred. (This isn't always a given with vegan foods, because just because it is is vegan doesn't mean it is healthy. Using an oil that can't withstand heating (more on oils in a future post!), evaporated cane juice or white flour can all make a seemingly healthy dish more on the unhealthy side). So this is why I like it raw. :) Simple, clean ingredients all added together to make a delicious, still clean dish. Same with raw desserts- almost every ingredient is a whole, unprocessed and naturally good for us food. No flours, gums, , chemicals, fake sugars, yeasts, evaporated anything.... It's just simple ingredients put together to make yummy, healthy treats for when you need something that is not a piece of kale. 

So don't think that I am on the "ONLY RAW" bandwagon, because I am not at all. I'm not even on the completely vegetarian bandwagon, believe it or not. I don't choose to eat meat or any animal products, but I do believe that some people benefit from the protein from meats (as long as they are grass fed, hormone free and organic, and from local farmers if possible). (I am however, very against the consumption of dairy, which is another post in itself). What is important is how you feel on a certain diet. My body feels the best on a mostly raw, sometimes cooked vegan diet. Many raw foodists fight against their cravings for cooked foods and try to adhere to strict guidelines, and I think that this is more unhealthy in the long run than eating some well prepared cooked food. Creating stress and trying to force yourself to do anything is not going to improve your health no matter how many veggies you eat. So I encourage you to listen to what your body is saying. I mean really listen! If you become tired or cranky after eating pasta and meatballs, maybe stop eating it and see how you feel. Or if you are fatigued because you are only eating raw, maybe add in some cooked grains and see how you react. 

To make my point about not being a raw food only groupie, I have included my recipe to my favorite Thai Coconut Stir Fry meal! Its soooo good, and the sauce is one of the only stir fry sauces that is soy free. Its delicious and I highly recommend trying it. Being the weirdo I am, I like it leftover, cold. (I was always like that as a kid too, which explains why I fully enjoy being mostly raw). 


1/2 cup low fat coconut milk
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch fresh ginger, shredded
1/2 tsp coriander powder
squeeze of lemon or lime

1 hot chili pepper, finely chopped, or cayenne pepper to taste
Salt to taste

What you do:

If you like rice or quinoa, make that first. I make it in a rice maker bc it's so easy.

Mix all ingredients (above) in a blender and let sit until the stir fry is almost done.

Stir Fry: Take your favorite veggies (I like broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, spinach or red leaf lettuce, carrots, mung beans...) and toss them into a wok with coconut oil (this is the best oil I know of to cook with), and then cook until they are a little crispier than you want them. Then add your sauce and stir for a few minutes until the veggies reach the consistency you like. That's it!

I also like to throw in some tempeh, which I cube and start cooking before putting in the veggies. The coconut oil gives it an amazing taste. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

We Can "Have our (raw) Cake and Eat it Too"

I spent the morning talking to my dearest friend Bobby about all of the logistics of my raw dessert/snack company undertaking: websites, business licenses, securing a commercial kitchen, food handling tests, even a seemingly little thing like where to order packaging from. Not to mention knowing how much to sell my products for to the stores, who will then jack it up so that they too make a profit. It's a little overwhelming. (just a tad) Luckily Bobby knows me better than anyone on this planet, and knows exactly what to say and how to say it to make me feel safe and like I can do it all easily. He is truly a blessing in my life. After talking to me logically about all of my next actions and breaking down even the seemingly difficult tasks into easy peasy steps (he didn't actually use that word, just so you know), I felt so much more capable bc I know he is here with me and supporting me. I am not alone with all of these daunting tasks looming over me. Which could lead me into a post about how leaning on others for support and help makes life so much grander, but that's not where I'm going with this. After we talked logistics, we started talking about my logo and what I wanted it to represent. Bobby reminded me to think about why I started making these healthy raw desserts in the first place, and I want to share this with all of you.

The story behind my creating all of these raw creations, especially the desserts, is bc I spent most of my life obsessed with my weight and trying to eat (or rather not eat) to stay skinny, so I never ever allowed myself to have sweets, (unless it was a holiday, in which case I would go crazy and spend the entire Christmas vacation feeling sick- a few New Years' ago, I ate so much cheese dip that I literally doubled over in pain and fell asleep at 10:30 bc I couldn't bear to be awake). Ha. Anyway, I would try all of these fat-free, sugar-free crap things that didn't taste good, left me feeling sick, and didn't satisfy me at all. Then, over a year ago, I discovered that if I ate REAL foods, that haven't been processed and that were good for my body, I could eat things that I never would have thought to eat before, such as chocolate (raw, made with healthy cacao) and even cupcakes (made out of nuts with a little natural sweetener). I allowed myself to eat oils (gasp!), fats from avocados and other natural sources, carbs (another gasp!), and "naughty" things like cacao and nuts. All of these foods, which make up most of my daily intake now, would have made me cringe a few years ago. But, as I changed my diet and realized how good I felt and looked, not only did I not gain any weight, but I actually lost some weight and settled at my normal weight for my frame. After years of suffering, punishing myself, having a terrible relationship with food and being down right miserable about "nourishing" my body, I was finally free from those chains. I now love what I eat, and I love how what I eat makes me feel. I finally get the joy of eating.

After I started making raw desserts for myself, (bc I could finally allow myself to have sweets!!!), I started making them for others. Which is where this whole thing began. My whole motivation is that these desserts aren't something one should feel guilty about eating- they are part of a healthy diet, and can be consumed not just as a "guilty pleasure" treat, but as something that is contributing to the person's overall well-being. This is really important to me. I want to break the whole "dessert is only for special occasions, and/or I should feel guilty when I eat it" mantra, because it's not true! We truly can "have our cake, and eat it too."

Left: Mango Coconut Rawpie

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pepp-raw-Mint Patty

Just a quick post to let you all know that I have perfected my "Pepp-raw-mint Patty!" It even makes the "swoosh" sound so famously attached to the York's SAD version (if you don't know what that means, it stands for Standard American Diet, which fittingly, happens to be a very sad thing indeed). But this minty, refreshing, melt-in-your-mouth piece of heaven is healthy!! Wahoo! Not only does it taste amazing, but it has health benefits: coconut oil (one of the ingredients I use to make the filling) is high in lauric acid. In the body, this is converted into monolaurin, which is claimed to fight viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as colds, the flu, herpes, and even HIV. Coconut oil supports the immune system, digestion, weight loss/control, skin and hair, the liver and kidneys, and even the teeth (coconut oil facilitates the absorption of calcium in the body). Add that to the superfood cacao in the raw chocolate outer shell, and we have a health masterpiece. Cacao has been found to be higher in antioxidants than both red wine and green tea (4x the amount in green tea), and because it raises seretonin, endorphins and phenylethylamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for the high we feel when in love), it promotes a positive outlook and acts as an anti depressant. (Speaking from personal experience, I definitely became happier once I started eating chocolate on a daily basis. Haha) Cacao is also one of the best sources of magnesium, which regulates brain chemistry, keeps the heart functioning properly, our bones strong, and aids in absorption of calcium and potassium.....So, are you ready to "get the (healthy) sensation?"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Variations on a Raw Theme

What's the theme, you ask? Could it be..... cupcakes? Yup, sure is. Still on a cupcake kick! Luckily, my friends (who are my guinea pigs for my creations) don't seem to mind :) Which is good, because I have a lot more coming. (Hear that guys?)
I only make (or should I say let) them try the ones I think are really delicious. I've been having fun playing around with different ideas, and while some turn out great, others, not so much. Haha For example, I learned that mixing raw chocolate with fresh strawberry paste, which sounded like a great idea to me, is not so much in reality. Just take my word for it. :) Very strange tasting. But I learn a lot from my "mistakes" bc while attempting to make this strange strawberry chocolate, I mixed too much strawberry into not enough chocolate, and made a sort of strawberry chocolate crumble that is yummy! So I'm glad I "messed up" bc I found something very fun.
I was thinking about how this applies so often to life: We head in one direction that feels right to us, and then things get a little muddy and don't go the way we planned, and we think that we were headed in the wrong direction the whole time. Maybe we feel like we made a mistake. But I bet if we looked around and saw where that path had taken us, we would see that it took us to exactly where we need to be; it's just that this place is different from what we had pictured. There are no mistakes, only variations from our expectations. That is a very freeing way of looking at life, and a true one! Nothing is ever a mistake unless you make it one. I encourage you, (and myself!) to look at your so called mistakes as blessings and see the gift and light in them. I bet if we look with altitude, we will see that they weren't "mistakes" at all, rather simply a different path on the road.
Anyway, back to the food. :) I just want to share a few variations on the Chocolate Strawberry Bliss Cupcake before I move on to another flavor.... AND I promise I will post the recipe to the chocolate frosting soon, as I have been getting lots of requests. It is ridiculously easy and really seems like real cake frosting to me. I also want to see if you have any specific flavors you want to see, or anything in general that you want me to make. I would love to try and create based on your tastes, so let me know.

Above- Layered CSB cupcake, Right- CSB with strawberry filling, Below-2Good Chocolate Cupcake, and Far Below- Almond Surprise CSB cupcake

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Little Cuppycakes that Could

My idea of an exciting Saturday night is fooling around in the kitchen coming up with some new raw recipes (what? that's not yours?). And because I have such a sweet tooth and all I felt like eating tonight was sweets (oops), I created some lovely YUMMY new treats for you all. I must warn you that I am on a cupcake streak, so be prepared for some variations in the coming week. Raw cupcakes are pretty delicious, but they aren't light and fluffy like "real" cupcakes.... So I might have to keep experimenting, and maybe even bake (gasp!) some vegan cupcakes using coconut flour. We'll see. The frosting, however, is to die for, in my opinion, and I had to stop myself from eating it all. Here are two of my favorites from the evening:

Chocolate Strawberry Bliss (pictured above):

1/2 avocado (I know, just trust me!)
Coconut Oil (Maybe a large spoonful)
Dash of sea salt
Dash of vanilla
Agave to taste

Mix in food processor or blender, adding agave and taste testing until it is to your liking. Put in bowl and place in fridge while you make the cake part.

1 cup walnuts
6 dates (pitted)
1/8 cup cacao
1 tbsp coconut oil
Dash of vanilla
1/4 tsp sea salt

Mix walnuts and dates in your food processor, then add the remaining ingred
ients. Form into little cupcakes and press into mold. Then top with your frosting and keep in fridge! Viola! That's it.

Vanilla Banana Fun:

Same as above, but substitute 1/2 banana for the strawberries- if you aren't a banana fan, you can use the above frosting, or add coconut "meat" instead

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup coconut flakes
5 dates (pitted)
1 tbsp coconut oil
Dash of vanilla
1/4 tsp sea salt

Prepare as above. And try not to eat it all before putting it in the fridge... It's hard, I tell you! Or maybe I just have issues. :)

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do, and stay tuned for more cupcake madness.

Love Erinn

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Green Superfood Incredible Smoothie!

Hi everyone! I just enjoyed the leftovers from my morning green smoothie, and as I licked my lips and wished I wasn't too lazy to make another one, I figured it would be the perfect day to share the recipe with you. It's getting warmer out, and there is nothing better than a cool, refreshing, "so healthy your cells will sing" smoothie. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, protein and countless other good for you things. Not to mention flavor! My smoothies taste so good that my friends who have never even heard of half of the ingredients decide they like them after one sip. I promise. So with that promise, I give you the base of my Green Power Smoothie:

1/2 banana (or more)
1/2 avocado (or more) (This and the banana make it creamy)
1/2 cucumber (or more)
4 or 5 stalks of kale, take stem off
Big handful or two of any other kind of lettuce
Green powder (I put this in every other day) Green Vibrance is the brand I use- it's great, and not as expensive as some others
Blueberries or frozen mango or whatever fruit appeals to me at the moment I make it (throw in a handful or so)
Protein powder (I use rice protein, enzymatically separated, vanilla or plain flavor, or hemp protein)
Hemp seeds (If I feel that I need a bit more protein, I throw in a tbsp or 2)
1/2 tsp green stevia powder for sweetener (the green is less processed)
Almond milk
Dash of cinnamon
Water- fill the blender so the water comes to about 1/2 way up to the greens if you want it thicker, and more if you want it thinner

Sometimes I throw in a superfood or two such as maca (for calming), chlorella (for circulation), goji berries or spirulina (protein and immune defense) if I'm feeling it. I throw in other stuff too, like celery, or carrot juice, coconut water (instead of almond milk), cayenne pepper, pumpkin.... to mix it up, or if I know something will go bad if I don't use it soon! Mix it up and have fun- you really can't go wrong.

Hope you enjoy drinking to your health!