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My Blog Has Moved!

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My Blog Has Moved!

I’m not done blogging, but am doing so now from my new website, ArianeCooks.com.  You’ll find all the blogs I’ve already posted here, plus new video blogs I’ve begun making recently.  Also, there is lots of background on me as well as info about the chef services I offer.

I’ve already added two how-to video blogs: one on how to make homemade beet dye that will turn food INCREDIBLE colors naturally, and one on how you can superfood up smoothies in a tasty way.  Thanks for having followed BaringFruit, and I look forward to hearing from you at the ArianeCooks blog!

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Killer Shrooms, Man

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Since I mostly post sweet recipes, I wanted to share a very simple and versatile side dish I made this week: raw marinated mushrooms.  I’m a big fan of dishes that improve, rather than get yucky, as the week goes on, and these ‘shrooms do exactly that.  They continue to intensify in flavor, and get a bit softer but never get past a standard “cooked” texture. They’re quick and easy to make; the bulk of the work lies in chopping them, which if you wanted you could actually avoid.  Keeping them whole would yield less flavor throughout, but a firmer texture.  I happen to like the texture of cooked mushrooms, and really enjoyed how indistinguishable these were from their cooked counterparts.  This was definitely a just-throw-stuff-in-a-bowl-to-taste recipe more so than a specific-amounts one, and I honestly doubt you could make them in a way that tastes bad! They are so yummy, there isn’t even any need to add salt.

Easy Raw Marinated Mushrooms:
2 lbs button and/or cremini mushrooms, chopped into 1/4s or 1/8s depending on size
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
2 tbls dried dill
3 parts balsamic vinegar to each 1 part cold-pressed olive oil (use cider vinegar for a 100% raw dish)
lots of fresh cracked black pepper

Chop mushrooms and place in a big bowl. Add garlic and herbs, then pour vinegar about 1/4 cup at a time until you reach a point of saturation. Once the mushrooms won’t absorb any more vinegar, pour on a fraction as much olive oil. Doing it this way helps ensure the mushrooms absorbed vinegar, not oil, so all you need of oil is what you’ll be tasting, rather than them absorbing a bunch of extra oil.

These can be eaten as is, as a topping for a protein or grain, or added to a salad to act as both dressing and condiment. I made a snack of them on bell peppers with an oatmeal-based cheddar spread, which was a delicious mostly-raw lunch.

Health Note: I’m on week four of Dr. Terry Wahls’ “Minding Your Mitochondria” diet, and though it is far different than my standard way of eating, I’m noticing numerous physical benefits of it.  Part of the diet is to eat three cups daily of sulphur rich veggies.  Most vegetables that fall into that category are cruciferous, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.  While those are very good for you, they’re hard on your thyroid (and mine is already ruined), and you should eat them cooked.  This dish is a perfect way to get in your daily allotment of sulphur rich veggies while upping your raw foods intake.  Mushrooms are also full of C and B Vitamins, making them an excellent immune booster.

Round Two: A Variation of Last Week’s Raw Vegan Cherry Berry Chocolate Cream Pie

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This week I want to recreate the cherry-berry pie I made last week, but thought it would benefit from a fruity pudding layer in addition to the chocolate one.  I dried and reconstituted the fruit in a similar fashion (and used an extra cup of cherries so the pie was more full), but instead of just the chocolate avocado mousse, I made a raspberry mousse, then added cocoa powder and chocolate protein powder to about 1/3 of it.  This made a berry-chocolate pudding- if you wanted distinctly different flavors in the layers, you could make both this berry recipe and last week’s chocolate one. The raspberry mousse itself tastes “like a Sweet Tart” according to Ace- the camu camu powder lends a tangy, flavorful note.

This time, I skipped the coconut nectar in the fruit layer; the idea of it had been for glossiness, and you just don’t see enough of the fruit for that to matter. I also changed the crust slightly- the other one was very thin, and I wasn’t terribly keen on the figs.  For flavor and color I added cocoa powder to the crust, as well as a small amount of reserved dried cherries and strawberries.  I like the look and taste of this one better than the last.

For decor, I used fresh blueberries and cacao nibs, and also swirled some of the chocolate mousse into the raspberry layer on top.

Raw Vegan Cherry Berry Chocolate Cream Pie, the Sequel:

Crust:
1 cup raw pecans
2/3 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup almond meal
4 dates
6 each partially dried (not reconstituted) cherries and strawberry chunks
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 tbls coconut sugar
pinch Himalayan salt

Soak dates in warm water for ten minutes. Pulse pecans and walnuts in food processor, then add remaining ingredients and process until a sticky crumb is formed. Press into a pie tin and set aside.
Any other raw pie crust recipe could be subbed for this one, or any other nuts/fruit you prefer.

Cherry Berry Filling:
2 cups strawberries, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
5 cups cherries, pitted

Place cherries and strawberries onto a dehydrator tray (fruit should fill one tray) and dry at 108 degrees for about eight hours. Refrigerate until ready to use. To prep for pie, reconstitute by covering them in warm water for about ten minutes. Drain and squeeze gently, then mix in coconut nectar.

Raspberry Mousse:

2 large or 3 small avocados
1 small banana
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup buckwheat honey, coconut nectar or agave OR 2/3 cup water and 2 droppers liquid stevia
3 tbls beet juice for color
3 tbls lucuma powder
1 tsp camu camu powder

Blend until creamy. Remove 2/3 of mix and set aside.

Cacao Mousse:
1/3 raspberry mousse recipe
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
2 scoops chocolate protein powder

Blend until creamy, and thin with water if needed.

Assembly:

Place a thin layer of raspberry mousse on top of the crust, followed by a thin layer of chocolate mousse. Throughly strain the cherries and strawberries, and add them. Top with all but about 3 tbls of chocolate mousse (or all of it if you don’t want to use it for decorating), then with remaining raspberry mousse. Decorate as desired.

A Short-List-of-Ingredients Recipe: Yes, It’s Possible For Me!

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I tend to get complaints that I put a whole lot of different ingredients into the foods I make. The main reason I don’t consider this a problem, or much work, is of course bc I am the one who already has all these ingredients in my kitchen, on hand. Also, my way of cooking is to rapidly throw stuff together and hope it magically works (usually it does), and some people need more structure and time than that. For those people, I imagine my recipes look like a lot of effort, regardless of how many times I advise, “Just throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl! It’ll be great!”

This week my VitaMix broke, and as I await replacement parts in the mail, life is weird, bc it’s something I use more days than not. My mom sent me a blender that goes with the mixer I have, and it arrived yesterday. Excited to make a smoothie this morning, I tried to fit the blender onto the base only to discover that they are not a match. This blender top may go with SOME mixer out there, but it isn’t mine.  I was already geared up for a smoothie and am out of sprouted buckwheat, my other go-to breakfast (a new batch is in the dehydrator right now). I glanced from the freezer to my mini-Cuisinart, and decided to have some quick morning fun. The end result- and by END, I mean about 60 seconds later!- was delectable.

Easy Breakfast Porridge That Takes Longer to Detail Than It Does to Make:
2/3 cup frozen berries, blended on high for 30 seconds in mini food processor
1 scoop protein powder
2 tbls hemp seeds
3 tbls milk of your choice
1 tbls almond butter
dash of stevia if desired
Stir all ingredients together and enjoy! Crunchy, sweet, filling, and gorgeous.

Note: you can buy berries in season, toss them on a baking sheet, and freeze them individually.  They last very well that way.  When buying berries, ALWAYS choose organic!  They have more pesticides per acre than any other food.

Raw Vegan Cookie Dough Balls! (gluten, grain, soy & sugar free, anti-candida, low-carb)

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Recently I came across a recipe for sugar-free raw cookie dough balls.  I’m still following a candida-friendly diet, so I was excited to find a dessert recipe that I didn’t need to modify much, and that actually sounded tasty.  The recipe was only enough to make a single serving, so I modified it for quantity as well as to my personal tastes.  I was amazed by how similar to cookie dough these little balls taste! (Note that there are numerous almond-based ingredients; almonds are the only nut considered “safe” to eat raw on a candida diet. I ate no nuts or seeds for the first phase of the diet, but have re-incorporated almonds and hemp back in.)

Cookie Dough Balls Recipe:

Heat stovetop on low until melted and smooth:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut, hemp, or almond milk
1 tbls coconut nectar
2/3 dropper each toffee and hazelnut stevia
1 tsp vanilla

Add:
3/4 cup almond meal
2 scoops protein powder (optional)
1 tbls coconut flour
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/2 tsp salt

The recipe I modified said to roll these into balls right away, but I found the batter much too sticky for that. I refrigerated it for about half an hour, then easily formed the balls. Total yield was 15 balls.

Chocolate Cookie Substitution: replace coconut flour with 2 tbls cacao powder.

Clearly, this recipe is FAR from low-fat, but when you are creating a dessert that is raw, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free, low in carbs, and grain-free, the ingredients need to be made of SOMETHING besides, you know, cucumbers. Plus, I figured people were getting tired of hearing “sprouted buckwheat” in all my recipes. Coconut oil is great for overall health, and almond butter/meal is full of protein. And while the author of the original post said that 4-5 balls was a serving, I found them to be so rich that two was more than sufficient.

Easy, From-Scratch Vegan Chili

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Beans from the bulk section of a grocery store are a staple for me, both for sprouting (plain sprouted garbanzos are on of my favorite snacks) and for making the occasional pressure cooker stew.  I have a strict no-cans policy for food; cooking your own beans is cheaper, chemical-free, and provided you take a moment in the morning to soak them in water, not nearly as time consuming as people fear.

Chili is one of my favorite things to make in the pressure cooker.  It’s under an hour start-to-finish, easy to customize for veggies and non-veggies alike, and super tasty.  My parents gave me a huge bag of Frontier chili powder blend last time we visited, and my father said it made some of the best chili he’s had.  I’ve used it in small doses in dishes lately, but nothing where it really got to shine; now that I’ve made chili out of it, I have to agree that it is pretty much the tastiest chili powder blend I’ve ever used.  It has a deep, dark, rich flavor, thanks to the addition of both allspice and cloves, with a mild heat.  Its ingredients can be viewed here.

Beyond the chili powder, my ingredient list for this is pretty standard.  I think what makes it so flavorful without any meat or fake meat is the method of cooking all aromatics first and the additions of cider vinegar and chipotle.

Super Tasty Vegan Chili:

1 1/2 cups each kidney and pinto beans OR
1 cup each kidney, pinto, and black beans
1 7 oz glass jar tomato paste like bionaturae organic (please don’t use cans! Canned tomatoes are the worst canned food of all, because the acid in tomatoes leeches all the chemicals from the can into the food.)
1 32 oz glass jar pureed tomatoes, also bionaturae organic or other organic, jarred brand (if it is spring or summer, you can puree enough tomatoes to make 32 oz.)
32 oz water or vegetable broth
1 medium onion, 1/4 separated
6 large cloves garlic, 2 cloves separated
3 jalapenos, 1 separated
1/3 cup chili blend
2 tbls oregano
2 tbls cumin
1 tbls garlic salt, or to taste
1 tsp chipotle powder
2 tbls apple cider vinegar
2 tbls grapeseed or other neutral oil

1. Soak beans in the morning in plenty of water. Drain, rinse.
2. Chop jalapenos, onion, and garlic into desired sizes; I do a moderately fine dice, and like to use both green and red chiles:

3. Saute chiles, onion, and garlic in grapeseed oil until lightly colored.
4. Add all spices, saute until fragrant.
5. Deglaze pot with cider vinegar.
6. Add tomato paste, cook until it darkens.
7. Add beans, water or broth, and pureed tomatoes.
8. Put top on pressure cooker and let cook for 35-45 minutes once pressurized. Alternately, cook in regular pot on medium-high for 50-70 minutes, until beans are tender.

Vegetable Blend:
You can use this as a side dish, add to chili afterwards to ensure that your veggies don’t get overcooked, or add it straight in to the pot. If adding directly into chili, add during last 10 minutes in pressure cooker, or last 20 minutes in a regular pot.

1 head broccoli
1 bunch arugula
1 bunch collard greens
reserved portions of garlic, jalapeno, onion
2 tbls chili powder
1 tbls grapeseed oil
1 tsp garlic salt
This is what I had on hand this week- you can change it up to any veggies of your choosing! I’ve made it with spinach, bell peppers, cauliflower, etc.

1. Chop veggies into large bite size pieces.
2. Cook jalapeno, garlic, onion, till fragrant.
3. Add chili powder, saute briefly.
4. Add veggies, and stir frequently until tender-crisp, about ten minutes.

If you choose to instead cook the veggies into the chili, don’t reserve the garlic/onion/jalapenos, and add veggies raw.

Top with any chili toppings you prefer; I used almond cheddar cheese for mine.

It is thoroughly worth an hour of your time to have food you can enjoy for days and feel guilt-free about, knowing that you made it without convenience foods and chemicals.  The difference in taste alone makes it worth it!

ExpoWest: What I Loved, Laughed at, and Longed For

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The Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA is the West Coast’s largest health foods trade show.  It’s been referred to as “CandyLand for adults,” and after attending, I agree heartily with that descriptor.  We went Friday and we were planning on going back today, but unfortunately little Bill is not having a good weekend so we decided to stay home.

On Friday we visited only a fraction of the booths (it’s way too much to take in in one day), meaning my review here is missing the great bulk and majority of exhibitors, and merely highlights some of what stood out to me, both good and bad.  I could have spent the entire day just in the basement, where they keep new products, as those were some of the most interesting ones.  We are all familiar with Amy’s Organics (they had an entire cafe set up) and Zico coconut water, so it was much more interesting to me to see smaller and newer companies.  It was also fascinating to learn how little or how much the demo reps for the brands knew about the people they were hired to present!  Some were incredibly well-versed in their brands, while others didn’t have even a minimal clue about what they were trying to sell and couldn’t answer even the simplest questions.

My favorite new finds:

Comvita was sampling their manuka honey and olive leaf extract.  They sell manuka honeys with 20+ umf levels, which are the highest you can generally find.  Umf stands for unique manuka factor, and represents the level of antibiotic properties in the honey.  Manuka honey is used by the Maori tribe of New Zealand, and has been used historically for its antibiotic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial qualities.  It was even approved recently for use in hospitals to treat antbiotic-resistant MRSA, a terrible form of staph.

Comvita’s olive leaf extract liquid is unique in that it is made of fresh olive leaves, not dried like the capsules I take to keep Lyme in remission.  It was peppermint flavored and while not tasty, was palatable.  I plan on ordering it because it is more bioavailable than capsules, as well as more potent.

Inner-eco sells coconut kefir, which in the past I have found too awful tasting to ever get used to.  I made it myself for a spell, but could never get past its vinegary smell and flavor.  Through the addition of stevia and natural flavors, Inner-eco has rendered the very healthy probiotic beverage delightful.  While I am not a fan of natural flavors in general, if they make coconut kefir tasty, I’m completely on board.

One brand I’d been looking forward to trying at the Expo was Swerve Sweeteners, which is a form of erythritol that they claim tastes as sweet as sugar; erythritol usually never gets beyond 70% sweetness.  Alas, I never noticed their booth, but I did find Eco-BeeCo, a blend of erythritol, stevia, maltodextrin and honey with a pronounced honey flavor.  I’m not very well read on maltodextrin, so I don’t have an opinion on it, but it’s good to know that there are options for cup-for-cup baking, especially with honey flavor.  However, I couldn’t find any info about where they source the honey from on their site, so I am unlikely to buy this and am more just throwing it out there for people looking for other sugar free options besides the commercially popular TruVia.

Brands that I got fun samples from and enjoyed speaking with:

Redmond RealSalt, unlike Himalayan salt, is an American product.  It comes from what was an ancient sea in Central Utah, and was discovered by Native Americans in 1959.  It contains over 60 trace minerals, and I’ve been using it quite happily for about two years.  When I say “Himalayan salt” in recipes, I mean RealSalt, I’ve just never bothered discussing it before.  The adorable little shakers they gave away of it should be able to sway anyone!  It’s cheaper than Himalayan salt, supports the American economy, and is equally healthful.  And pink.  Because, really, pink is important.

SunWarrior raw vegan protein powder is something I’d wanted to try for awhile, so the ability to both sample a pre-made shake as well as take a packet for later was fun.  I enjoyed their shake a lot, and not just because it had banana in it and I’m completely sugar-starved on a candida cleanse.  Yesterday morning I used the packet at home in a shake along with sugar-free So Delicious coconut milk, baby spinach, and ice.  It is the first raw vegan protein I’ve found that isn’t chalky at all, and I definitely plan on ordering it from iHerb once I’m running low on my current powder.  Pictured on top is an “ancient grains” granola that I unfortunately threw out the packaging for before photographing.  And, of course, that’s Chessie giving it her seal (or, well, mouth) of approval.

While I’ve never used Mountain Rose Herbs before, now that I’ve scored a slew of awesome bumper stickers from them, I’m inclined to give them a try.  Other ones I got where the typical “Support Organic Farmers,” “I ❤ Herbs!” and “The Best Things in Life Are Organic.” The reps were friendly, and I wish they’d had some actual product samples.

Companies that would’ve been better served having reps who knew their products:

The first question that I, and several other attendees at this booth at the same time asked, was, “How is this product different from almond milk?” The reps for Victoria’s Kitchen had no idea what almond milk was, or how it was made.  In fact, they didn’t even seem too sure what “almond water” was, either.  The employee kept stating, “It has no milk,” as if almond milk contained dairy.  This product is sugar water with almond flavoring.  Not a health food in the slightest, this beverage contains 30 grams of sugar in a 16 oz bottle and has no nutritive value of any type.

We stopped at the futurebiotics booth wondering if the white kindey bean extract they had on display was for kidneys.  (It isn’t, it’s a carb blocker.) We use this brand’s probiotic, and I recognized the packaging so I asked her a question about that product.  The rep had no idea they even sold a probiotic supplement.  Shouldn’t people at least be given a list of all the company’s supplements, even if only a few are on display?

These people were sampling their ActiveX protein bars they said were, “raw, vegan, and organic.” I looked at the ingredients after tasting a sample bc it seemed very not-raw, and the first ingredient was peanut butter.  I asked, “Do you use jungle peanuts, since there is no such thing as raw peanut butter?” Peanuts contain aflatoxin, a mold that can only be removed through roasting.  Jungle peanuts are the only type of peanut that don’t have that mold, and are therefore safe to eat raw, but you rarely find them in protein bars.  The rep asked what a jungle peanut was, and I explained.  He then said he didn’t know, but that I could ask the manufacturer.  Upon closer look, the second ingredient was brown rice syrup, which is also a cooked ingredient.  These bars may be organic, but they are certainly not raw in the slightest and should not be marketed as such.  To make me dislike them further, their website just crashed my browser and I nearly had a heart attack when I got logged out of wordpress and thought I lost everything I typed so far on this blog.  Aside: thanks, wordpress, for being so on top of auto-saving.  You rock.

Whether or not these reps knew their products, I can’t say, because they were too busy ignoring us to even say hello.  I tried interacting, but both women just stared at me blankly and didn’t speak.  Though I have bought their products plenty in the past, I am a bit less inclined to do so now.  They were speaking to one another when we walked up, but stopped as I stood there glancing at samples, so it wasn’t as if they were too engaged in their own conversation.  The lack of response to my mentioning that I bought their crackers, and asking if it was ok to take a sample, was the opposite of how a business should behave.  They did not say a single word in reply, though they looked right at me.  I am your customer.  Don’t you know that being too cool to do your job by interacting is going to make me choose a different brand of food next time I’m at the store?

The FrankenFood Award goes to:

I feel the same about this stuff as I do meat from a test tube: progresive idea, but creepy.  EarthSpring Foods has found a way to get the estrogen out of soy, which is great, but again, creepy.  They claim they also remove the phytates, or anti-nutrients, that regular soy is full of.  I don’t personally eat soy, except in small doses of its fermented forms, because of both the phytates and estrogens it is so full of.  So, if you are looking to feed the world soy, this may be a better alternative, and they have numerous forms of it including powder, paste, butter, milk and flour.  But if you are just looking to eat food- regular, real, unadulterated food- you are probably best served avoiding this (as well as most other soy products).

My crowning jewel of the day:

Dr. Andrew Weil was a staple in my 1980s holistic home; my parents had his books, watched him on PBS, etc.  He, along with Dr. Mercola, was one of the first medical doctors to publicize the need for integrative medicine.  I’ve eaten at his restaurant as well, so seeing him there was a total starstruck moment.  Ace insisted I get a photo with him, even though she and I both feel like hell lately and weren’t much in a picture mood.  I also saw Cat Cora, but she was on her way out and the last thing I wanted to do was be invasive and stop her for a photo.

Because my brand wasn’t exhibiting this year, I feel like my attendance was a valuable lesson in how to properly exhibit and interact with customers.  Next year I look forward to Rawk-n-Roll Cuisine hopefully being a vendor at ExpoWest, and plan on doing everything possible to emulate the brands I most enjoyed here.

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