Sunday, January 30, 2011

reflections and raw vibes

Things have been so bright and bubbly lately - lots of exciting raw food endeavors going on out in the blogosphere. The Hot Raw Chef contest is full underway, and I have to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who has expressed interest in my video entry and has voted for my delicious recipe.

Also, I recently had my recipe for CherryBomb Vanilla Tarts 'published' in a local Community Learning Newsletter, which you can check out here as an online version (although they made an error with my location information for some reason - ahh well). Super excited to be included as one of the two vegan recipes in the newsletter (can't wait to make the Quinoa Cranberry Walnut Salad recipe).

This afternoon, while checking in on my favorite blogs, I stumbled upon Erin's latest entry for her amazing restaurant, Tea Tree Cafe and Eatery, located in Toronto (check out this great review). Erin was so inspired by my Sweetheart Vanilla Macaroons, that she whipped up her own yummy vegan version for the cafe. You can check out her blog post here, and her heart-shaped macaroon 'cookies' below. Don't they look awesome?

Reading Erin's post was a real highlight to my day, because it reflects my intent behind making and sharing raw food recipes: to inspire others through healthy living and eating. I am so happy to be able to reach people 'out there' in this wide world and inspire others with some of my humble recipes and creation.

So, I wanted to say a big thank you to all of you, and wish you a great day. So far, I've had a fantastic run this morning, followed by a fun BodyFlow class, and I can't wait to embrace the rest of what this day has to offer. The only thing that has got me slightly 'down' is that I roasted some chestnuts for my lunchtime salad, only to find some of them are moldy on the inside, and I had to throw them away - I guess I'll just have to take the good with the bad!

Best wishes to you and yours on this 
sunny January day.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vote for Me - Sweet Valentine: Hot Raw Chef Contest

Voting has begun in the Sweet Valentine: Hot Raw Chef Video Recipe Contest. I would be honored to have your vote for my recipe,

Sweetheart Vanilla Macaroons
dipped in Dark Chocolate:

This contest is an amazing opportunity for me to further my chef skills at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in California ("the #1 raw (un) cooking school"). Among the prizes are $5,000 tuition to be used towards classes at the Institute. I would absolutely love the opportunity to attend such a prestigious school, and further pursue my interest in raw, vegan, living cuisine.

Simply put, the more votes I can aquire for my recipe/video, the better my chances of placing in the top three. Click on this link to check out my video (lucky #13). To vote, all you need to do is scroll down the bottom of the page, fill in your name, email address, and postal code, and then select my name from the list of contestants.

As a thanks for your vote, you will receive a free eBook of ALL the recipes that the chefs have prepared in their videos for the contest in an email towards the end of the voting period. Voting begins January 28 and closes February 9th. Only one vote is allowed per person.

It was an interesting experience filming my entry for the contest, because I was both the presenter and camerawomen - a real test to my multitasking skills. I'll admit, I feel I don't come across as well as I should have (as I did in my cooking show segments for Brock TV, here and here), because I was too concerned with operating the camera, editing, and making the overall video (I filmed each segment individually). Although, I did try to have fun with the video and recipe, which is the main thing, right? Overall, a definite learning experience that I can build on!

I'm happy that this recipe really does speak for itself - so amazingly delicious, and will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth. A perfect raw vegan way to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this message and view my recipe. I hope you vote for me as the next Hot Raw Chef, and I appreciate all of your support and help to make this dream of mine become a reality.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sweet Valentine Video Contest

This past weekend, I entered a Valentine's Day themed recipe for the 2011 Living Light Culinary Institute's Sweet Valentine - Hot Raw Chef Video contest. For my demonstration, I decided to make an incredibly delicious, inventive and creative recipe:

Sweetheart Vanilla Macaroons 
dipped in Dark Chocolate

I had so much fun making these little treasures, especially knowing they are a healthy and nutritious dessert option. Strawberries. Chocolate. Macaroons. Vanilla = a perfect Valentine's Day!

This recipe is super simple to make, using a few whole, living food ingredients combined with a little bit of time and love. Please take a moment to watch the video below, and welcome to my kitchen:

Voting for the next Hot Raw Chef begins on January 28th, this Friday, and I would be honored if you would vote for my cooking demonstration and this fantastic recipe

As a thanks for your vote, you will receive a free eBook of ALL the recipes that the chefs have prepared in their videos for the contest. In order to receive your free recipe book, you must submit your email address on the voter registration form. This form must be submitted before your vote can be counted. Click “submit” and you’ll see the voting form to cast your ballot for the next Hot Raw Chef! One vote per person. Voting ends February 9, 2011.

Some of the prizes in the contest include tuition towards culinary classes at the Living Light Institute, "the birthplace of gourmet raw vegan cuisine", located in California. What an amazing experience that would be!

I'll post another reminder about voting this Friday, but I doubt you'll be able to get these amazing Sweetheart Vanilla Macaroons out of your mind. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

cheesy spicy kale chips

Cheesy. Spicy. Kale. Chips. That's right, raw vegan chips in the form of kale, a nutritional powerhouse. These 'chips' are chocked full of vitamin A, K, and are a great way to incorporate more greens into your diet. I've extolled in the health benefits of leafy greens before (see: alkalizing, purifying, beautifying et al.), and kale is no exception.

I generally prefer this leafy green in the form of 'chippies' rather than in my daily morning green smoothies; not only are kale chips a delicious snack, but they will more often than not spark an interesting discussion if you eat them in the company of others: "what exactly are those?!" Well, let me tell you...

These Cheesy Spicy Kale Chips are flavored using nutritional yeast (which gives them their 'cheezy flavor'), cashews, lemon juice, and some spicy cayenne pepper (my version features pepper 'made' by my dad; dehydrated peppers, ground into a powder, originally grown in his garden - the most potent cayenne pepper I have ever tried). The sauce also doubles as a fabulous salad dressing. For this recipe, you will need just a little bit of time and a dehydrator:

1 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours
1/2 cup water
1-2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 red bell pepper, de-seeded.
juice of 1 lemon (or half lemon, half lime)
1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on your preference, and the potency of the pepper)
2 bunches of kale

Remove kale leaves from stems, and rinse with water. Pat dry, and place aside. 

For the sauce, blend ingredients together in a blender until smooth and creamy. Combine the sauce with kale in a large bowl, massaging the mixture into the leaves. You may need to do this in two batches, depending on the size of the bowl and the amount of sauce you wish to marinate the chips in (note: I usually have about 1/4 - 1/2 of this mixture left over, as I don't like to marinate the leaves too much). Place marinated chips on dehydrator screens and dehydrate for 4-6 hours until chips are dry and crispy.Will keep for a few days in the fridge (if they last that long!).

What is your favorite kale chip flavor?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

winter time

Winter here is really a sight to behold. This area offers a multitude of independent shops, and fun events - even during the winter months. This weekend many local businesses and wineries took part in the "Not Just Icewine" festival. The weather was more than fitting, as the temperature plunged downwards of -10 degrees on both days of the festival. Brrr!

I had a chance to partake in the festivities, many of which included samplings of wine (not just icewine, remember) from the region, as well as delicious food from local restaurants and cafes, some of which included the following: About Thyme Bistro, The Good Earth Food and Wine Co., Toute Sweet Ice Cream and Chocolate. Here are some photos from the weekend:

Chestnuts - I'm back on the high raw perspective lately, but just couldn't say no to some roasted chestnuts. I've really become quite fond of these over the past little while, and have started to roast my own in the oven. Again, I think there is room for roasted foods like chestnuts in a predominantly raw vegan diet - they are incredibly high in vitamin C, offer a high starch punch, and are a much lower fat nut option than their contemporaries.

When I prepare chestnuts, I like to make a small incision (sounds like a surgery procedure) on the side of the chestnuts (like an x) with a small knife, place them in a glass baking dish, roast them for about 15-20 minutes in the oven, peel them, and then toss them in a mixed green salad. For more on chestnuts, check out this great article.

One of my favorite local wineries took part in the festival: Megalomaniac Winery - John Howard Cellars of Distinction. They have a fantastic icewine, "Coldhearted Reisling," (liquid candy, I tell you) and I love the sassy branding of their label. For the festival, they offered tastings of their "Bravado" Cabernet Sauvignon, the "Coldhearted Riesling" icewine, and "Narcissist" Riesling, with their more than fitting backwards, or reflection font on the label (remember the Ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, consumed with his own reflection?).

Apart from sampling some of their delicious wines at their table in one of the heated tents, you were also given a free voucher for barrel and complimentary at their winery. The winery itself, which I've had the pleasure of visiting a few times, is magnificent, and the wine tastings take place in the actual cellar where the wine is fermented and processed. Here is a photo of their table:

Overall, a nice little festival in between small snowstorms -
the snowflakes sparkle like little jewels in this picture:

All in all, a beautiful little weekend.

Hope you are enjoying the snowfall in 
your little corner of the earth!

Monday, January 10, 2011

winter comfort

Time and time again, I've been asked what foods would be my 'temptress' away from eating only raw or vegan foods. After much deliberation, I think one of the top candidates would be cooked soup. I truly feel there is room for warm, cooked soups in a predominantly raw vegan diet - for me, the healing properties of such recipes (when using proper, whole food ingredients) outweighs any deliberation on the issue.

A balance of raw with a hint of cooked bodes well in the winter months. Unfortunately, I have yet to make or sample a raw soup that I find on par with the cooked version (any favorite raw soup recipes out there - please let me know!).

Perhaps my love for cooked soup stems from the combination of soothing, comforting properties (there is nothing more satisfying than a warm soup during the cold Canadian winter) with the flavorful aromas of herbs, spices, and ingredients. Here is a recipe for a soup I made for a friend this week - a real pick-me-up comfort using carrots, miso, and topped with some almond cream.

Comforting Carrot Soup

7-8 large carrots, washed and peeled
1 small butternut squash
2 tbsp miso paste (dark)
4-5 cups of vegetable broth
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1-2 tbsp cumin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the small butternut squash in half, removing seeds. Using a 9 x 9 baking dish, cook the squash (with 2 inches of water in the dish) for 20-30 minutes. Remove the skin, and set aside.

In a large pot, simmer the olive or coconut oil, adding chopped onion, garlic, miso paste and cumin for one to two minutes, or until onions are golden brown. Add the vegetable broth, chopped carrots, squash, and celery. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat, cooking for 20 minutes or so. Puree the soup using a hand blender until processed and smooth. Serve in a lovely bowl with a dollop of almond cream.

Almond Cream

1 cup almonds, soaked beforehand for at least 8 hours
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup water
juice of 1 lemon

Blend ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge, or a few weeks in the freezer (defrost before serving).

give that dollop a swirl with a spoon and...


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

new years coconut and a smoothie shake

My new years morning began with a Happy Birthday to my sweetie (a January 1st baby) and the opening of a Thai baby coconut

Thai baby coconuts are an amazing source of living water, what Ani Phyo refers to as "a great source of electrolytes [...] during World War II, doctors discovered the water in young coconuts could be used as a substitute for blood plasma, because it's sterile, cool, easily absorbed by the body, and doesn't destroy red blood cells. Coconut water is amazing - yum!" (taken from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen). For more information about the powerful health benefits of coconut water, click here. To celebrate the morning in style, I had a flute of coconut water - cheers to you and yours:

I also like to use the coconut water in more familiar, everyday raw food recipes. Here is a simple shake that combines coconut water with cacao. Perfect as a pre- or post-workout boost, this is my favorite way to gain some extra energy before a step/yoga class or run, especially if it is first thing in the morning and you need something 'light'. Watch out for that cacao kick - you won't be disappointed:

Coconut and Cacao Smoothie
Serves 1-2

2-3 frozen bananas
1/2 - 1 cup cup coconut water (depending on the thickness desired)
1 tbsp raw cacao powder (could also substitute carob powder for a caffeine-free option)
1-2 ice cubes (optional)
1 tbsp cacao nibs

Blend ingredients together, and serve cold with cacao nibs as a topping.

For the upcoming year, I think I just have to make it my mission to sample more Thai baby coconuts; using the fleshy meat in recipes and hydrating myself with the "living water." In fact, I'd like to extend the coconut as my metaphor for the year; things really have seemed, for lack of a better word, "nuts" these days, but I need to remember that the refreshing elements of life are kept in perfect balance with the more difficult (take, for example the coconut water and its nourishing properties, and how they can counteract the hard exterior of the shell). The coconut is such a great symbol - a provider of life, in all of it's nourishing and refreshing possibilities.

Here is a photograph of the Twenty Valley on a snowy, late December afternoon. It is moments like these that I really cherish, and remind me of one of my favorite quotes; "there is always a little bit of heaven in a disaster area" (Hugh Romney).

Looking forward to a positive and healthy year ahead, full of  
creative potentials and wonderful possibilities.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

barefoot and frolicking: a year in review part II

Happy New Year everyone - I hope you have all had a great start to 2011! Continuing my year in review of 2010, here are some more highlights and personal gems from the past year:

5. From Regina to Tobermory, June-July. 

In June, I had the opportunity to present another paper at the IASPM-CA (International Association for the Study of Popular Music-Canada) annual conference, held this year in Regina SK. I had never been this far West before, and had a great time commingling with like-minded popular music scholars who I've had the privilege of getting to know at previous conferences. My paper discussed The Smashing Pumpkins and the music video for the song "Ava Adore", from the album Adore (1998).

The conference had the most amazing food options, and one night we were treated to an outdoor garden party, complete with beautiful lantern lights, live music, and some raw food options. There was a decadent assortment of vegetarian and vegan desserts - beautifully crafted with local ingredients:

In July, I took a wonderful trip with my partner to Tobermory, a town at the very tip of the Bruce Penninsula in Ontario. Tobermory is a beautiful, wonderful place full of hiking trails, lush waters, and clear skies. One evening, we took a boat ride and had the opportunity to see the sun setting and the moon rising concurrently over the Georgian Bay. Tobermory is such a great place to clear one's mind:

6. Raw Food Blogger Meet-Ups, July

In July, I had the honor and privilege of meeting with some of my raw food blogger contemporaries in Toronto for some good conversation and fabulous raw food. I met with Heather, Nelly, Kelli, Lisa, Kristin, and Camille at Rawlicious and we had a wonderful time, discussing all things raw, and sampling the restaurant's fine, fine menu.

Another blogger meet-up shortly thereafter saw me spending an evening with Ms. Nelly, Camille, and Lisa, sampling some of their sumptuous raw desserts and an amazing dinner meal they prepared. These ladies, and their blogs, rawk! It has been such a great experience getting to know people in the area who are interested in raw and vegan cuisine.

7.Teaching and Learning, ongoing

This year found me expanding my passion and interest in teaching and learning. I continued to teach many cooking demonstrations with the Real Canadian Superstore, whipping up easy and delicious raw and vegan recipes for fantastic audiences at different locations in Niagara and the GTA. Teaching these classes allows me to share my interest and passion for raw and vegan foods with others - I plan to continue teaching more classes in 2011:

This summer, I also entered a few of Heather Pace's raw dessert contests, submitting an entry for the Moonie Pie challenge and the Raw Summer Parfait contest. My 'Vanilla Chai Moonie' was even named a "moonie of mention" runner-up in the Moonie Pie challenge:

In August, I also had a chance to film a cooking show segment for Brock TV, you can check them out here: Moroccan Quinoa and Cherry Carrot salad, and Blackberry tarts. In November, I was asked by NAFA, the Niagara Action for Animal group, to give a guest lecture and cooking demonstration on raw veganism for their monthly potluck series. Check out the evening's events here. 
My teaching also expanded into other areas related to my academic education, and I taught two undergraduate courses this past term. What an incredible and valuable learning experience this way - I feel so fortunate to have been given this amazing opportunity, and look forward to teaching more classes in the future.

8. Exploring New Vistas, ongoing

To counter an incredibly busy few months, I found myself continuing with my yoga and exercise practice, but I also started to take more classes at the gym. These classes include Body Flow, Power Yoga, Zumba, and Step Fit. I found that by trying these new classes, I was presenting myself with a challenge, something new to encounter and experience. I'll admit, I was slightly nervous upon trying some of these classes for the first time (especially Zumba, I'm not much of a dancer!), but have been thrilled with the experience and learning new and fun ways to exercise. As a result, I've also found I've increased my muscle and toning (as well as a few pounds due to the muscle).

9. Barefoot and Frolicking: One Year, October.

In October, my humble corner of the web, Barefoot and Frolicking, celebrated 'her' one year anniversary. When I started this blog a year or so ago, I was really interested in connecting with other like-minded people in the areas of health, nutrition, and raw foods. I'd become so inspired by the many blogs I would read, as well as my raw food journey, that I wanted to carve out a space in which to share this information with others, as well as learn from their experiences. Mission accomplished!

10.  Goals for 2011

No "year in review" would be complete without some personal aspirations and goals for the upcoming year:

1. Continue exploring the potentials of raw food cuisine: I really feel that at this point in my life, my creative energies are geared towards raw foods. I just love sharing my knowledge and experience with this type of cuisine with others, and really enjoy making raw foods for others. I plan to continue this in 2011, and would even like to start a side venture with made to order raw food chocolates, desserts and catered appetizers. 

Also, I would like to gain some further culinary experience, in addition to my pre-existing culinary and chef experience. I really do see this in my future; 105 degrees anyone?! Definitely a possibility.

2. Travel: I have a few destinations in mind for this year, and hope to see them come to fruition. I will keep you posted!

3. Optimal Health and Well-Being: This is a must, and for me, not only includes diet and exercise, but state of mind. Keeping stress to an absolute minimum is very important to me in 2011. I also want to extend this to people around me, and be supportive during times of stress and change (this seems to be the theme of the past two years for me - change, change, change).

4. Share and Conserve: This applies to many things, from energy consumption to money, and sharing with others. I would like to be more frugal in 2011, only spending money on necessities (food) and travel (a necessity in my books!).

5. Blogging: I want to continue sharing my experiences with living, raw food, and vegan cuisine with you on my blog. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and I find that blogging offers such a great venue for sharing thoughts, opinions, and different forms of writing (academic, cultural, educational, creative). I hope to  be more active on my blog in the new year. I also want to be more open and honest with my blog posts, without reservation about how my ideas might be interpreted or received; this is something I admire in other bloggers, in how they share their lives so openly.

Speaking of blogs, Barefoot and Frolicking has been named one of the finalists in Beer and Butter Tarts: Canadian Food Blog Awards. I was absolutely elated when I heard the news, and am so pleased to be nominated amongst such inspiring food blogs; you can find "B&F" under the "Best Healthy Living Blog." A wonderful way to end 2010. Best wishes to you and yours for the upcoming year - life, love, and health.

What are your goals and aspirations for the new year?