Saturday, February 26, 2011

dreamy greeny smoothie

Because I've been amping up my workouts these days, attempting to increase my running capabilities, I've been devising many interesting and delicious smoothie recipes to give me some much needed extra energy. I prefer to workout first thing in the morning, so smoothies are the perfect pre-workout breakfast because they are quickly digested.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for a green smoothie. I could extol on the powerful health benefits of the green smoothie forever. I've mentioned before how the green smoothie served as my introduction to the powerful healing benefits of raw foods; green smoothies help to alkalize our bodies due to their leafy green content, and are a great breakfast option because the combination of fruit and greens (usually a 60-40 ratio) stabilize our energy levels.

This recipe uses maca (great for our adrenals), bananas (carbs), and mango (my favorite fruit in a smoothie, alongside bananas). I usually put a sprinkling of cacao nibs on my smoothie for a little extra caffeine kick; I notice this helps improve my energy levels.

Dreamy Greeny Smoothie
Serves 1

1 mango
1 banana
3 large handfuls of spinach
4 ice cubes
1/4 cup water
1 tsp maca
1 tbsp hemp protein powder
1 tsp Earthrise greens (spirulina/chlorella blend)
1/4 tsp mesquite

Blend ingredients together in a personal blender, and top with a dash of cinnamon, bee pollen, cacao nibs, goji berries. Dig in and taste the beauty of the green smoothie!

I just had a green smoothie very similar to this recipe this morning, with the addition of 1/2 cup almond milk and 2 tbsp chia pudding [soaked chia seeds in water overnight] before heading to the gym for my intense Saturday morning workouts (a step class, small run session, and BodyFlow class). Wish me luck!

(as for my fitness 'progress' this week, so far I've run 5 k three times = 15 k, in addition to long walks, BodyFlow classes, yoga. In the words of someone wise, "I'm getting there!").

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

'conscious eating niagara' meetup group at pan café

I am very excited to announce a new meetup group called Conscious Eating Niagara, a space and place dedicated to promoting conscious eating in the Niagara region.

This group is indebted to the organizational prowess of Lee-Anne and Kent Ozust, the fabulous folks behind Truly Organic Foods, a fantastic raw food supplier in the Niagara region and my favorite local resource for raw products. (As an aside, I recommend checking out their informative monthly e-zine newsletter, Superfood Me; in February's edition, you can find a link to my favorite green smoothie recipe).

This new meetup group is open to people who are interested in all kinds of cuisine and approaches to diet. There will be a main focus on raw vegan living foods, and vegan dishes for the potlucks; the idea behind this is to focus on foods in their natural form, to celebrate food this way and to share recipes and inspire people to eat more plant based foods. In addition, the group will have guest lectures, presenters, and discussions about ideas and issues related to conscious eating, and the opportunity to share our personal experiences with foods, and discuss the importance of an organic, sustainable lifestyle.

I am excited to be involved with this group as a guest and "assistant organizer and living foods chef" and will be assisting anyone who has recipe questions or would like some ideas. I will also be offering some "rawmazing" recipe and cooking demonstrations based around living raw foods and plant-based cuisine. I can't wait to share some delicious recipes with the group!

The monthly potlucks will take place at Pan, a wonderful organic whole foods restaurant and café in downtown St. Catharines. They have agreed to let us use their beautiful space for one Sunday a month from 4:00 - 6:30 pm, and we will be confirming the specific dates for the potlucks shortly.

For more information on this meetup group, please check out For those of you not in the area, not to fret, as I will be sharing the potlucks with you here at 'barefoot and frolicking.' Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

do you want to know a secret

"Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?" I digress, but I do want to share a secret with you this sunny Sunday morning! I have in my hands the most delicious recipe for an amazing pre or post-workout shake. I've been trying to amp up my workouts lately, and I find this smoothie works great for a quick burst of long lasting energy:

Secret Workout Smoothie 
(Serves 2 which means Serves 1 for me!)

The maca  helps to temper and balance out your adrenals, the bananas are an excellent source of quickly digestible carbohydrates (40-60 minutes), the lucuma powder gives the shake a nice caramel flavor, and the almond milk makes it super creamy and smooth.  Plus, the cinnamon aids in digestion and gives it a nice little send off. What could be better?

2 large frozen bananas
2 ice cubes
1/2 cup almond milk (homemade from scratchy scratch)
1 tbsp almond butter (optional)
2-3 dates
1 tbsp lucuma powder
1/2-1 tsp maca powder
dash of cinnamon

Blend ingredients in a personal blender and serve topped with a dash of cinnamon and some cacao nibs (I tend to put them on all of my smoothies, but you can omit them if you wish).

Something that I want to add to this smoothie the next time around are some tasty dried peaches I received as a gift from Tiffany at Eating Niagara, for contributing an entry to her 'Favorite Food/Farm memory of 2010' contest.
I met her last week at a Seedy Saturday event, and she bestowed upon me a packet of farm direct dehydrated peaches from a local orchard. Such a kind gesture and great way to preserve our lovely Niagara produce; thanks again Tiffany!

Seedy Saturday is an agritourism based community event that helps to usher in a spring optimism for planting seeds for an upcoming harvest. Here, people trade and/or purchase seeds, especially heirloom varieties or ones that have been in farm families for generations. I have many fond memories of my first Seedy Saturday experience from a few years ago; learning to sprout seeds, perusing the seed vendors for interesting flowers and plants.

This year, I purchased some seeds for lemon basil, lemon balm, nasturtiums, and a gooseberry bush (fingers crossed I can improve upon my green thumb capabilities this year). Here is a photo from our hike to the event on a beautiful winter's day last weekend. Such lovely sunshine:

While on the topic of the changing seasons, nature, and pending Spring, I thought it was only fitting to discuss the new Radiohead album released this past week (after the date of release was only announced five days prior - those crafty British blokes!). I've been listening to it nonstop for a few days (which is easy to do, since there only 8 tracks and it clocks in at approximately 35 minutes long).

Entitled The King of Limbs the album draws on some interesting pastoral, nature references and symbolism; the title itself comes from a species of tree located near their recording studio. See a new promotional photo of the band en nature below:

The first single, Lotus Flower (video below) is  interesting, and the song itself seems to draw some inspirations from their combination of rock-electronic approaches on Kid A (2000) and In Rainbows (2007).

When compared to their other albums and larger body of work, it seems the album falls short of people's expectations (the perils of projecting too much on an artist's work). What results is a slightly underwhelming, yet impressionistic album with pockets of brilliance intriguing in their pseudo-psychedelic simplicity. But enough of my ramblings; I'm sure some of you are fans of the group, so I just have to know... 

What are your thoughts on the new Radiohead album, and have you ever been to a Seedy Saturday event?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

say it with cacao and truffles

For me, making raw cacao chocolates is a beautiful, meditative experience. Experimenting with the possibilities of different flavors, shapes, sizes, and colors, I tend to draw on my artistic background when making these tender treats. More than anything, I enjoy sharing my little creations and introducing others to the wonder that is raw cacao.

In anticipation of Valentine's Day, I devised some raw cacao vegan truffles for my very first customers, the lovely Tayler and Mary. They gave me full artistic liberty (a budding raw cacao chocolate maker's dream, let me tell you), and I came up with a delectable assortment of artisan raw cacao goodness:

white lavender coconut cups

sweet valentine truffles

goji goodness truffles

cinnamon hawt hearts

These truffles are an excellent example of living, raw desserts, using the most decadently creamy and smooth cacao butter (thanks to Truly Organic Foods, a fantastic Canadian raw food distributor), cacao powder, and natural sweeteners. These chocolates also use some energizing herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, chili, lavender, lucuma and calendula; aphrodisiacs anyone?

Although raw cacao is incredibly decadent and delicious, I've come to realize it is quite a powerful 'superfood,' and an incredibly potent source of energy (caffeine). I made sure to warn the gals that a little bit of these chocolates goes a long way, and not to eat them too close to bedtime (cacao buzz). Moderation is key.

At any rate, I have to send a little love letter to raw cacao this Valentine's Day, because I never (and I mean never) used to eat chocolate before switching to a high raw vegan diet; I was always under the impression it was either unhealthy or full of dairy. Raw cacao has been so helpful in introducing me back to the realm of the sweet and sumptuous, and I must admit, it has been quite a liberating experience to regard sweet treats, desserts, and chocolate as part of a healthy plant-based diet.

So for this Valentine's Day, I encourage you to 'say it' with cacao and truffles - a perfect treat to share with your sweetie on this special day.

Happy Valentine's Day 
to you and yours!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

last chance to vote and another valentine recipe

Time is of the essence in the Sweet Valentine - Hot Raw Chef contest. There is only 1 day left to cast your votes for the next Hot Raw Chef.

I'm hoping you will vote for me, Marlie, and my delicious raw vegan Valentine's Day dessert, Sweetheart Vanilla Macaroons dipped in Dark Chocolate. Please check out my video demonstration (lucky #13) and vote here. Voting in this fabulous, fun contest ends this Wednesday, February 9.

With Valentine's Day desserts on the mind lately, I had an absolute craving to make something sweet and sumptuous in keeping with the special day a little while ago. I became entranced with Camille's Raw Vegan Date Squares (featured on her fantastic blog, Raw Candy) and made a modified version of her recipe. The base of raw oat groats and almonds coupled with the date paste is similar, but I made further modifications (reducing the size of the recipe, et al.).

I enjoy using raw oat groats in recipes such as this; using the whole grain, rather than their flaked counterparts. Processing the groats into either a fine powder or crumble, and combining them with a little 'sweet something' helps to take the edge off the 'healthy' connotations and taste of this tender grain. In my books, oats can be as equally divine as cacao for dessert.

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, this recipe is a perfect way to have a delicious date...with date squares!

Deliciously Divine Date Squares
(raw vegan)

1 cup almonds
1 cup raw oat groats, ground into a powder using a coffee grinder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of sea salt

Date Filling
1 cup dates, soaked in water for half an hour
1/4-1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Grind raw oat groats into a fine powder using a coffee grinder, and set aside. Process almonds until crumbly and combine with oat groats and the rest of the crust/crumble ingredients. Process until mixture presses together.

For the date filling, combine soaked dates with vanilla extract and 1/4 water in a small, personal blender. Blend until mixture is smooth and creamy.

To assemble the date bars, line a 9 x 9 baking dish with a square sheet of parchment paper. Press 1/2 of the crust/crumble mixture into the bottom of the pan using a spatula. Lay date filling over the crust/crumble mixture. Top with remaining crust/crumble mixture, but do not press the top layer into the date filling (it should be lightly placed on top, to be like a crumble topping).

Chill in the fridge for a few hours, or the freezer for one hour and serve.

Trust me, these won't kick around long (so delish), so make sure to share them with your special sweetie!

Friday, February 4, 2011

a fleeting winter wonderland and day in the kitchen

This past week, we were hit with a massive snowstorm that dropped close to 40 cm of snow in under two days. The fleeting winter wonderland that occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday, has unfortunately already started to melt away:

With the normal everyday at a standstill, I took it upon myself to whip up a few delicious recipes and dishes in the kitchen. I find more and more that preparing food and (un)cooking is becoming my preferred way to de-stress and is a great way to counter the sometimes extreme busyness of my teaching job. Plus, I love how the weather and these beautiful snowy days influence the recipes and dishes I prepare.

Soup is everywhere in the blogsophere these days, from Nelly's amazing Borscht recipe, to Joanna's sampling of some fantastic soup recipes (check out her review of my Carrot soup recipe here as part of her Warming Food Wednesdays).

As many soup recipe ideas begin, I had some produce and ingredients in my fridge that were just waiting to be assembled. After rediscovering a lovely little bag of beets in my fridge, I knew a Borscht soup was in order (I just had a craving).

This Borscht combines the antioxidant power of beets (or beetroot, the British way to describe them) and tomatoes with the detoxifying ways of cabbage and garlic. This recipe is fairly straightforward, and you can even substitute canned, diced tomatoes for the fresh if you only have them on hand.

"Bring on the Borscht" Soup

2 1/2 cups chopped beets (one small bag of beets)
2 cups chopped white onion
2 cups chopped carrot
2 cups chopped white cabbage
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (or 1 24 ounce can diced tomatoes)
5 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Boil the beet (whole) for approximately 20 minutes until soft and set aside. In a large stock pot, heat the oil and add in onions, garlic, cayenne pepper. Heat until onions are golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). Add in the vegetable broth, cabbage, carrots, beets (chopped after being pre-boiled). Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add in tomatoes and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Optional: puree the borscht using a hand blender. 

Craving some more nourishment for the soul on a cold winter's day, I thoroughly enjoyed this delicious Quinoa salad that combines the refreshing flavors of lemon and basil. Serve warm or cold, this is a great dish that harks back to the warm days of summer.

Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Basil Chiffonade 
and Lemon Vinaigrette

1/2 - 2/3 cup quinoa
1 - 1 1/2 cup water
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (about 5-6 large leaves)
dash of sea salt
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
black pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa using the stove or a rice cooker. Let cool at room temperature for at least ten minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, spices, zest and juice of 1 lemon. Combine the avocado and basil with the quinoa, and mix with the dressing. Chill in the fridge or serve immediately. 

As if that weren't enough, I just had to take a crack at Gena's incredibly delicious Sweet Potato Hummus, a recipe that has caused quite a stir in the blogging community (I'm sure I'm not the only one who has made this in the past week since she unveiled the recipe over at ChoosingRaw). For my version, I made a few slight modifications:

Sweet Potato Hummus

2 small sweet potatoes, cooked at approx. 350 degrees for 50 minutes
1 can chickpeas (reserve draining liquid)
1/4 cup tahini
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of paprika

Combine sweet potatoes (cut into chunks after cooked and cooled) in a food processor with chickpeas, tahini, sesame oil, and spices. Add in the reserved liquid from the can of chickpeas, and process until the hummus is 'fluffy' and creamy consistency. Sprinkle with paprika and a dash of sesame oil and serve.

A winter wonderland = delicious 
and nourishing recipes for the soul. 

I can certainly dig that. 

  Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

getting to the root and finding some balance

Winter is the perfect time and season to embrace root vegetables; I seem to crave them consistently on these cold winter nights. The other day, I stumbled upon some purple sweet potatoes, but I'm not sure if what I purchased is actually purple sweet potatoes (apparently, they should be purple on the inside). Nevertheless, this 'purple on the outside' sweet potato is most delicious and quite similar to our orange friend in taste and size.

The other night, I whipped up some Savory Purple Sweet Potato Fries as part of an impromptu dinner. This is the only photo that remains, because they were so delicious and didn't stick around long enough for their obligatory photo op!

Savory Purple Sweet Potato Fries

2 large purple sweet potatoes, washed
1 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander 
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of sea salt

Cut the ends off of each sweet potato, and slice into segments. Continue cutting into desired fry shapes. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and combine with the fry shapes in a large mixing bowl, making sure to coat each fry with the spice-oil mixture. Transfer to a large baking pan, and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 50-60 minutes, checking in every 15 minutes or so. Serves 2-4 (depending how many fries one can resist or is willing to share!).

As a compliment to the sweet potato fries, I made a Watercress and Radicchio Side Salad with a Sweet Vinaigrette. This recipe is raw but beegan, meaning that the dressing uses some raw buckwheat honey, but you could try substituting another sweetener for a vegan option if you prefer. The combination of sweet and sour with the Dijon mustard makes for a delightful dressing and helps to counter the more bitter taste of the watercress and radicchio. 

Watercress and Radicchio Side Salad 
with Sweet Vinaigrette 

*beegan (this recipe uses raw honey)

1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp red wine tarragon vinegar
1 tbsp raw dark buckwheat honey
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp light olive oil

1 bunch watercress, rinsed and stems removed
1 head of radicchio, rinsed and torn into small pieces

In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together. Rinse and prepare watercress and radicchio. Mix dressing and salad ingredients together in a small bowl and toss until salad is well-coated with the dressing. Let salad immerse in the dressing for 30-60 minutes (this helps to take away the more bitter taste of the watercress and radicchio). Serves 2. Salad is best if served immediately.

These recipes created a very balanced meal that could work for either lunch or dinner. Complimenting one another in taste, texture, and approaches (cooked and raw), these two side recipes illuminated the adage that two sides make one whole (what a lovely metaphor!).

What are some of your favorite side recipes?