Home Made Almond Butter!

Homemade almond butter!

My first batch of home made almond butter in my tiny food processor!

I recently moved for grad school and have been on an adventure to find the best places to purchase health food items that previously I depended on Trader Joe’s for.  I found health food stores or ways to buy most everything I eat for reasonable prices in this city except raw almond butter. Even with coupons, I can’t find raw almond butter for less than $12 a jar. So I decided to make my own!

It’s super simple: process almonds until it turns into almond butter. I’ve made my own almond milk and almond meal this way before, but this is my first time making almond butter- and I have to say, it’s given me a new appreciation for the delicious staple. It took me nearly 20 minutes of processing until, as the article says, the almonds suddenly “magically, release more of its oils and become smooth and creamy”

Here is the recipe I used from Cooking With Laura.

Detox for a Raw Year

For my birthday a couple days ago, I decided the best gift I could give myself for my health would be to finally go raw, and try it for a year. The kicker finally came last month when I read a section in a book at the chiropractor’s office about natural remedies for extreme pms. Unfortunately mine is so bad it’s debilitating one day out of every month, so I am desperate to do anything I can minus taking drugs to cure it. Basically it said cut out caffeine, sugar, meat and foods high in fat. Well guess what! A raw food diet covers all of that!

I have already been on this journey since early this spring but I’ll go off it for mostly social reasons or cravings. The same thing happened again the day of my birthday and a couple days after when we went out for dessert to celebrate and my dear friends brought me a cake to house church. How would they know? I didn’t tell them. Next year I will plan ahead and bake my own raw or close-to-raw birthday cake. I’m learning that if I am going to succeed in this, I need to plan ahead, and when appropriate, bring my own “goodies” to our get-togethers.

Instead of beating myself up for my birthday cake and brownie gorge last night, instead of swearing I’ll never eat sugar again, because, let’s be realistic – it probably will happen again  – I’m not going to plan for failure, but I am going to have a detox plan.  So here’s the green smoothie I made this morning and will be making tomorrow morning.

 

Detox Green Smoothie

adapted from Young and Raw

  • 1/2 Head Celery
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Cup Cilantro & Parsley or Kale
  • 1 Lemon or lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Ginger
  • 1/3 Pineapple
  • 1 Kiwi

Blend and enjoy!

Going Fruity

Image

This morning I had the Big Green Fruity Smoothie to get back to being, well, fruity:

  • banana or two
  • fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 to 1 whole avocado
  • 1/2 cup mango juice or mango chunks
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cashew milk (or other nut milk or raw kefir)
  • squeeze of lemon
  • fresh ginger
  • scoop of crushed ice
  • dehydrated or shredded non-sweetened coconut

Blend everything up real well in a high-speed blender. Pour into two tall glasses. Top it with coconut if you so desire and eat it with a spoon!


So…this past week I gave into cravings and ate chocolate and loads of fatty nuts at any chance I got. Why? Part of the reason was I was coming off my period, and I think my body wanted to refuel with iron and B12 vitamins…maybe? So I headed straight for my previous cravings – chocolate, nuts, and dried fruits. Well, these food weighed me down and I didn’t feel as light as I did the previous week when I ate more fresh raw fruits and veggies. Also, I think eating too many fats (nuts and nut butters) triggered my cravings for other fatty foods like chocolate and brownies that I typically reach for when I’m on my period. The weird thing is, before and during my period, I had no cravings and fewer cramps or bloating – and I’d only been eating primarily raw foods for a little over a week. I was already experiencing the benefits!

Just a side note – I haven’t experienced any negative side effects yet, but also I haven’t been doing it long enough yet. Many people experience some negative side effects when they first go raw because their body is detoxing. I’ll keep you updated! So far the only change is going to the bathroom more frequently…and not number 1.

Another part of the reason I caved (am trying to banish the “f” word!) was social setting – I ate three brownies at a friend’s birthday party last night. Now, I had planned to. I wanted to have one – and it tasted good (it settled in the bottom of my stomach like a rock though =p) but not great; it didn’t make me feel good like clean, raw foods do. I am beginning to recognize how eating certain food make my body feel, almost immediately – kind of like learning to exercise spiritual spiritual discernment, ha! It was old habits and cravings and that darned crack substance called sugar that told me to have another, and another, just to check and see if it tasted any better – which it didn’t. So lesson learned from this scenario is 1) don’t beat myself up for backsliding; it’s not a contest (this goes for everything in life!!) 2) have a game plan for social settings – bring something to share or stick with tea, or  3) if I till really want to eat those brownies, by all means eat one, ONE. It doesn’t taste better after two.

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I did some research this morning – it’s a worth investing a lot of time into researching eating a clean raw food diet if you are planning to go on one – and discovered that even the raisins that I reached for last night, thinking I was craving iron and B12, are not the best way to get those nutrients into my body. This is because dried and dehydrated foods don’t retain as many of the nutrients – kind of the purpose of going raw is to get the fullest nutritional benefit from the foods you eat! ha! so I already knew that eating too many fats (in forms of raw nuts, seeds, avocados, etc) is not good for you, but now I know why it’s best to get most of my calories from fresh fruits rather than dried ones too.

For those that are new to it, raw foodies get most of their daily calories from either fat or fruit. This is because it is difficult to get enough calories from vegetables alone. Getting the bulk of your daily calories from fruit is the best option because they supply needed carbohydrates, and eating too much fat, even if it’s just the “good fats” can still cause health problems. Fats are more difficult for your system to digest and while you need some to keep you feeling full and satisfied, too much fat will make you feel sluggish and weighed down. It does in my case anyway. With heart disease running on both sides of my family, I want to avoid that. I think the diabetes genes don’t stand a chance if I’m eating raw!

So my goal for this coming week is to 1) eat less fats 2) eat as much raw fruit as I want (and veggies too).

Rejuvelac

Oh the many wonderful discoveries of going raw! While making my first batch of Essene bread – I did a very small batch of sprouted wheat berries and soaked raisins and sunflower seeds – hoping it turns out, since my blender broke while trying to process it into a dough-like substance (I needed an excuse for a new blender), and used my oven on the lowest temperature setting to dehydrate it since I don’t own a dehydrator – and I was perusing raw food blogs for variations of Essene bread when I came upon this word, rejuvelac

I got super excited when I discovered that milky-white-yellowish liquid that is left after soaking sprouts for a couple days is actually a fermented tonic that is good for your digestive system. You basically soak your sprouted grains for another day and pour off the liquid using a cheese cloth to drain it. Refrigerate the liquid, and drink small portions as a digestive tonic.

sprouted wheat berries in jar

sprouted wheat berries in jar (Photo credit: NourishingCook)

I know I’m weird, but I am a huge fan of fermented foods! I used to make kambucha (need to buy another culture), and I have a kefir culture in my fridge currently (only I haven’t made any kefir in awhile because I need to decide if I’m going to spend money on raw milk or stick to organic). I think part of having an Italian heritage (on my mom’s side) has given me an appreciation for moldy cheeses, wines and vinegar. I love to think about all the health boosts people are missing out on by being afraid of food fermenting, ha!

The cool thing about not being afraid of fermenting foods is that you can get twice the benefit! Sprout grains for your sprouted bread, and make rejuvelac at the same time (continue to soak some of the grains after 2 days of sprouting Instead of rinsing the water off again) and you can even use the ‘spent’ grains to make bread again (although most sites suggest using them for compost at this point, in which case you’re still getting an added benefit rather than sending them to a landfill).  you can make rejuvelac out of any sprouted grain, but the common types are wheat berry, buckwheat (groats), or rye rejuvelac.

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Instead of pretending like I’m an expert, I’ll refer you to some sites that give detailed instructions for making rejuvelac:

Be Deliciously Healthy Rejuvelac

The Nourishing Cook What is Rejuvelac

Plant Foods How to Make Rejuvelac

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Happy rejuvelac-enating tasting!

P.S. My Essene bread turned out delicious and chewy. mmmm!

Easy Raw Carob Pudding

This pudding will surprise you how deliciously rich it is. I had Girl Scout cookies as one option for dessert tonight, and I opted for this! Works best with a high power blender or food processor. Made me want to invest in a good blender. Makes 2-3 servings. Double for more.

Three ingredients, three easy steps:

  • 1-2 ripe avocado
  • 5-7 pitted dates
  • 1-2 Tbs.carob powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup water

1. The night or morning before, soak the dates in enough water to cover them. This will soften them and make a sweet syrup.

2. Blend avocados, soaked dates and liquid together until smooth. Add more water as needed to get a thick, creamy consistency.

3. Add carob and blend again. Serve chilled.

Make a small batch first to play around with getting the right amount of avocado for creaminess and dates for sweetness.

Adapted from Living and Raw Foods.

Raw Food Challenges: Week 1

How-to-Eat-Raw-–-Raw-Diet-basket-of-raw-foods

Made it through 1 week eating raw, and it was pure joy! Didn’t feel deprived at all! I did go off and eat cooked food yesterday when we had a potluck, and some today when I was feeling a little PMS low and needed some chocolate. I don’t have a problem giving myself some leniency; in fact, this is necessary to combat my personality that says, “do it right or fail”. Eating raw for me is not about performance or doing it perfect 100% of the time; it’s about fueling and treating my body well so I feel better and function best.

In this last week, there are some things I noticed, however, that may make eating raw difficult to keep up in the future. I’ve detailed below, and I think that none are insurmountable or enough to keep me from eating raw about 75% even in difficult situations.

  • More expensive – I feel like I have been to the grocery store enough times this week for an entire month. (I’ll write another post soon about how to shop for raw food on a budget.) But while I was making lots of trips to get this or that, I was not necessarily spending more money; I was purchasing bulkier items and spreading it out over the week. Also, I like visiting health food stores, so I won’t complain about that. Which leads me to next one: 
  • Time-consuming: eating raw definitely takes more preparation, but if I plan ahead, I can make time in the evenings or on the weekends to make batches of food, and I enjoy it. The mornings are what I struggled with. The time it took to make a green smoothie or filter my kefir and put it into a smoothie took up the time I would normally go for a walk or run. I think these things will smooth out as I adjust my schedule, maybe prepare more at night for the next morning.
  • Too much fat: Yes, it’s good fat like seeds and nuts and avocados, but I’m still overloading my digestive system if 50% of my daily intake comes from fat calories. That happened tonight. I ate a whole bag of delicious trail mix. So, eating raw may make my old binges on baked sweets obsolete, but bingeing on trail mix is still a risk. I’ve bee keeping track of my intake on Livestrong’s My Plate app, and most of my days my fat intake fell between 30 and 40%, protein 10-20% and carbs 40-60%. According to Dr. Graham, a raw food diet is best at 10% fat, 10% protein, and 80% carbs (those cards from fruits, vegetables and raw/sprouted grains). After reading a bunch of resources, I’ve found that raw-fooditarians choose to either get most of their daily calories from fruits or fats. Seems like I’ve been going the fats route, but I want to transition to more fruits (and vegetables) and eat fats sparingly.
  • Eating out/eating with others – so far I haven’t eaten out yet; but I think that can easily be tackled by eating salad if there’s not many raw options on the menu. I might also take it as an opportunity to eat an occasional animal source, and enjoy some salmon or quiche or vegetarian cooked meal, so my body doesn’t stop making the enzymes to digest those foods.
  • Traveling – haven’t traveled yet except a road trip to Greenville, and then the daily living out of my car (would like to transition back to living off my bike instead as it gets warmer) – for those day trips, I just throw fruits and nuts and carrots in my bag. Also discovered the incredible chunks of energy (cacao with goji berries is by far my favorite! available at Earthfare and Rosewood Market), Two Moms in the Raw snacks (even Starbucks is carrying them now!) and THE best nut butter out there – Justin’s….gaga!! There’s something about Colorado, just saying… But back to traveling – if I go stay at someone’s house or go to a foreign country, I’ll probably eat what is available – I don’t want to be an unnecessary burden or miss out on trying new cuisines. I’ll just use my judgment and make frequent runs to the grocery store or farmer’s market for fresh produce.

So to make things more affordable, I will be experimenting with making my own raw food snacks. I’m excited to share recipes! Really glad this got me blogging again. I will write about dance events I have planned soon too. 🙂

Preparation: Sprouted Bread

I can’t wait to try making my own sprouted bread!

I set out some jars out to sprout wheat berries, quinoa, amaranth.  Going to get some buckwheat/groats to add to my line-up.  In a couple days I should be able to make some sprouted bread! All the sprouted bread I’ve tried like Ezekiel bread (not 100% raw because it’s baked) tasted so wholesome and yummy, especially with nut butters! If you like your food chewy an nutty, you’ll love sprouted bread too. I don’t own a dehydrator (yet), so I want to dehydrate it in the oven on the lowest possible setting and see if that works.

Here are two recipes I want to try:

Directions for sprouting grains:

Rinse 1 cup of each grain and place in a jar or bowl with (filtered) water, covered. Let sit over night and rinse in the morning. Drain water and place the jars upside down to avoid mold. you’ll begin to see little sprouts from. Rinse once to twice a day.The sprouts will nearly double in size, so use large enough jars. In 2-3 days you’ll have enough to make bread.

This method can also be used to make alfalfa and other bean sprouts, but use a filter/mesh screen over jar lid and drain thoroughly each day. Salad sprouts take about a week to grow long enough.