Monday, November 18, 2013

Yum Yum Raw Chili!

I love creating my own and finding new raw vegan recipes - especially delicious ones.  There are many books obviously, but there is also a huge variety of raw food blogs with a ton of recipes to make yourself or become inspired by.  One of my all time favorites is Amie-Sue of Nouveau Raw.  Her blog itself is easy to navigate, has eye-popping pictures and the best part... her recipes, which I have made many of and some inspired me to create my own. 

So lets move on to the chili.  I've made this recipe twice so far and wow!  This is the BEST raw vegan chili I've ever had!  The first time I made it I followed it to the letter.  The last time I changed just a few things.  Oh and her chili recipe is called Raw Hearty Smoked Chili - so all credit goes to Amie-Sue, I'm just sharing with you some photo steps and my few little changes at the end.  I've linked her recipe in several areas for you to obtain it on your own. 

The entire recipe was very simple.  Of course there's prep work as in any other recipe, but it is a smooth process.  This is basically the mixture for the sauce that you make first.  Let me say that you'll need a large food processor.  Mine is an 11 cup and as you will see it will be full to the top, especially after adding the water.  I may be looking into a 14 cup processor one of these days.

The metal bowl on the left contains all the spices.  The rest of the ingredients will be going into the food processor with the sauce.  It smells so good!

Oh darn!  I forgot this beautiful yellow bell pepper.  No worries, I caught it in time.  Chopped it up and into the processor it went.

See?  All the way to the top and I even patted it down a little.  I pulsed a few times and then...

Yummy chili!  You can make this chili as thick or thin as you like.  We like a thick hearty chili so Amie-Sue's recipe was right on the mark.  This can be eaten right away, but I made it in the morning to let all the flavors mingle.  About an hour before dinner time I resisted eating the whole darn thing myself, grabbed a ladle, filled a couple bowls and popped them into dehydrator to knock the chill out of the chili.  (okay I admit it, I took a few bites first)

While Amie-Sue's recipe is indeed truly delicious as is, I made a few changes and additions to the second batch as noted below.  Please go to her blog for the entire Raw Hearty Smoked Chili.

Sauce -
I replaced lemon juice with raw apple cider vinegar (lemon sometimes upset my tummy)

Spices -
For the chili powder I used Ancho Chili Pepper Powder
For the cumin I used Smoked Cumin
I omitted the celery salt

Veggies -
I used the raw walnuts
I used baby portabello mushrooms
I increased the onions to about 3/4 cup (we LOVE onions!)
I added around 1/4 cup or so of diced Anaheim Chili pepper that I dehydrated for a few hours first.  That kicked up the heat a little bit, but not horribly so as that is not too hot of a pepper.

Oh and the leftovers... yum yum yum!  We had the last of the chili the second night and just like traditional chili, it was better the second time around!  I do believe Mark licked his bowl clean... and mine.

Now hop on over to Nouveau Raw and check out all her amazing recipes.  You might want to grab a drool towel first.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Our 19th Wedding Anniversary - a tribute to our love

On 11/12/13 we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary.  We started out as friends when we worked at the same law office and after 20 years together, we are still best friends.  Not to mention soulmates, life partners, connected at that hip... Mark is the love of my life and I can't imagine being without him.

So to celebrate this year, instead of gifts, I made this little video slide and included *our* song "Your Love Amazes Me" by John Berry.  We have many songs, but this was our first and is just as meaningful today.  Oh and just to mention that we got to meet John Berry in person (you'll see the photo in the video) and told him our little love story.  That was a moment we'll never forget.

I could have added a zillion more pictures, but then I would have had to add more songs - not to mention go through tons of shoe boxes, coffee cans... So I'll stop here and let the video do the rest of the talking. 


Monday, November 11, 2013

Raw Vegan Lasagna

Raw Vegan Lasagna

Before I go on about my Raw Vegan Lasagna recipe, I just want to mention that I have included several pictures to show part of the process and how the ingredients look after preparing them.  I just don't want you to feel overwhelmed by all the photos.

Every time I make my lasagna I change it up here and there and never measure anything or write it down.  However, after some requests I decided that this time I would.  So, I'll skip the part in telling you how flavorful, delicious, tasty and nutritious it is and get straight to my recipe.  Well I tried anyway ;)

One little note and I'll zip it.  Under each photo I'll explain a little about it, but the entire recipe will be at the end.

This is a little backwards, but this is almost the end result after preparing all the fresh ingredients (except for the zucchinis) in order to make the lasagna.

I like to wilt the fresh baby spinach a little in a tasty mixture, but not to the point that it looks entirely cooked.  It will take on a more cooked texture and appearance after the lasagna has chilled for a couple hours.  I start with the spinach to give it time to wilt and set it aside.

Next we wilt the mushrooms.  I slice the fresh mushrooms and place them in a bowl with my wilting mixture.  I like to wilt them to not only take on a cooked appearance, but for taste and texture as well.  I set this aside and proceed with the next step.  (I strain them after they get to the wilting point that I like)

Sometimes I have this "cheese" on hand as it is a great topping for salads, but to show the entire process of this recipe I made some fresh.

The yummy sauce!  I start with sundried tomatoes that I soak in warm water for about 20 minutes or so.  I actually start the recipe by soaking them and proceed from there, but I didn't take a picture of that part. 

Anyway, after making the sauce I put it in a fine mesh strainer while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.  The reason I do this is because I don't want my lasagna to be wet and soppy.

I slice the zucchinis very thin, except for about 5 slices as I make them a little thicker and use for the bottom layer.  If you don't have a mandolin, a sharp knife is perfectly fine. 

It amazes me how zucchini can take on a pasta texture in many raw recipes! So yummy!

Sometimes I add clean organic olives in my lasagna, but this time I used them as a garnish.

Now to layer the lasagna.  No, I didn't forget my lasagna dish.  Sometimes I like to make it on this platter as it is easier to cut and serve from.  The choice is yours.

I start with a little sauce on the bottom, then zucchini and more sauce.  You can layer how you wish, but I'll explain how I do it in the recipe at the end.

(waves magic wand) And in a blink of an eye we have raw vegan lasagna! 

Look at all those yummy layers!  This can be served immediately or put it in the fridge to chill so it can take on a more cooked texture and appearance as in the photo below.

This is what it looks like after chilled for a few hours.  Sometimes I pop it in the dehydrator to warm up a bit, but for the most part we love it right out of the fridge.

And now for my recipe.  Don't let all the steps scare you...once you get everything set out and start going it is a fairly smooth process.  Just allow yourself a little time, it is SO worth it!  Oh and I listed everything in order as I make it.  This can be altered in so many ways to fit your liking and/or diet.  Hope you enjoy it!

Raw Vegan Lasagna

Step 1 - Soaking Sundried Tomatoes
3/4 cup sundried tomatoes

Soak in warm water and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.  You will use these in the sauce that will be made in Step 6.

Step 2 - Wilting Mixture
1 TBS EVO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 1/2 TBS Braggs or other Amino Acids
1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
1 TBS Agave

Wisk all ingredients in a small dish. I use a glass measuring cup as it is easier to pour from.  This is used for both the spinach and mushrooms.  It may not seem like enough for both, but it is - plus the shrooms will produce liquid as they start to wilt.

Step 3 - Wilt Spinach
3 good handfuls of fresh baby spinach

Loosely tear spinach and place in large bowl.  Add less than half of the wilting mixture to the spinach then toss to coat.  Set aside.

Step 4 - Wilt Mushrooms
8 oz or more of Mushrooms of choice

Slice mushrooms and place in bowl.  Add remaining wilting mixture, toss to coat well then set aside.

Once they have wilted to desired liking, drain and set aside.

Step 5 - "Cheese"
1/2 cup cashews
3 TBS pine nuts
1 small garlic clove
1 TBS nutritional yeast (gives it the cheesy flavor, not to mention health benefits)
1/8 tsp sea salt

Add all ingredients to food processor and process until it resembles small crumbles.  Set aside.

Step 6 - Sauce
1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup soaked and drained sundried tomatoes from Step 1
1 medjool date (stone removed)
1/3 cup roughly chopped onion
1/2 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
4-5 fresh basil leaves
1 large garlic clove
1 TBS Italian Seasoning

Place all ingredients in order into food processor and pulse several times (may need to scrape down sides) until well blended, but do not over process.  You don't want this to be a wet smooth sauce or it will be too runny for the lasagna - it needs to be a little chunky.  Set aside.

Step 7 - Zucchini Noodles
2 large zucchinis

I use a mandolin, but if you do not have one then a sharp knife will be fine.  I start by making about 5 thick slices which will be used for the bottom layer.  Slice the remaining zucchinis very thin.  Set aside.

Step 8 - Layer the lasagna  
Now comes the fun part...wait, the above was fun too, right?  This part isn't rocket science, but I'll explain how I layered this one, but feel free to layer as you wish.

Take a little bit of sauce and splatter it around with your hand onto a large platter, just to have a thin layer.  Just note here that for the rest of the layering when it comes time for the sauce, I use my hands because it's much easier to place on top of the zucchini and spread around.  The sauce doesn't completely cover everything like in traditional lasagna, but enough to get a decent covering.  So the rest goes like this...

Place the thick slices of zucchini on the sauce plate and then...
optional olive garnish
top with lots more "cheese"

You can serve and enjoy immediately or place in the fridge to chill a few hours which will let the zucchini become more "noodle" like and all ingredients take on a more "cooked" texture and appearance.  You can also warm it in the dehydrator if you so choose. 

If I have forgotten anything or you have questions, please feel free to ask me.