“Two Moms in the Raw”- Style Granola Bar

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I’ve been eating these granola bars for several years, and have always loved them. Granola bars seemed to me a really good way to get going with raw foods — my feeling is if I can prep a bunch of grab and go style things, it won’t be that difficult to maintain.

So, the first thing I did was buy the Two Moms in the Raw Cookbook. Sadly, I quickly learned that they don’t give that recipe in their cookbook!!!!

Heartbroken, I began my search again.

It led me to this recipe on The Fitchen: http://thefitchen.com/2013/09/19/the-best-granola-bars-ever/.

Now, this was cool, but I was confused by the whole, use of an oven in a raw diet thing. Also, I’m itching to use my dehydrator. So I used their recipe with some slight tweaks.

Ingredients
  • 1 c. rolled oats (1/2 of the oats ground in food processor)
  • ¼ c. raw pepitas
  • ¼ c. raw cashew pieces
  • ¼ c. millet
  • 2 Tbsp. raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. oat groats
  • 5 dried Turkish apricots
  • 2 Tbsp. flax seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. Thompson seedless raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. dried currents
  • ⅓ c. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey
  • ½ Tbsp. coconut oil

 

Chickpea Sammy

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Daaamn, I even want to eat that having just ate one! So, after all my talk of raw, here is a recipe for something not raw. But! I disclaimer-ed with the whole, easing into it thing, and this does fit the vegetarian guidelines.

This is a riff on a New York Times recipe (you’ll notice I really like them…maybe I’ll start a project called, “Cooking the NY Times” or some such. Come to think of it, I live in a project called “Cooking the NY Times”. So, there’s that.)

Anyhoo, the NY Times calls this: Mediterranean Smashed Chickpeas. Here’s my take…keep in mind I really like spicy and alter yours as needed:

INGREDIENTS

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 habanero peppers (or other hot pepper) WITH seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas (I like mine dried — just make sure you have enough to yield 4 cups, about 2 cups dried did it for me).
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • hard boiled egg
  • avocado

PREPARATION

  1. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook gently until softened, and even a bit browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, peppers, cumin seeds and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine let sizzle for 1 minute or 2.
  2. Add chickpeas and let them heat through. With a potato masher or wooden spoon, crush about half the beans. Stir well, taste and adjust seasoning. Add 1/2 cup water (or bean cooking liquid if you have it) and let mixture simmer briskly for a minute or two. Stir in lemon juice. Serve warm in pita topped with slices of hard boiled egg and avocado and drizzled with Tahini sauce.

(To make tahini sauce, mix 1/4 cup tahini with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons olive oil.)

So, I didn’t have any pita, as you can see from the photo. I highly recommend it. As delicious as this was, it was definitely unwieldy, and I’m sure pita would fix that.  But, yum!!! My god I love food.

Going Raw

food.jpgJust ignore the cheese, bread and soba from this picture. Also it’s called GOING raw, not gone raw.

OK, so I know I said my first big project would be tackling the PokPok cookbook, but a series of things have happened that are pushing me towards trying a raw diet instead.

First, the weather. It suddenly bounced from the 50’s and rainy to a balmy 86, and I’m feeling a lighter diet than PokPok has to offer.

Second, and more important, really: I’ve finally acquired enough equipment to give it a whirl. (Mostly due to this year’s birthday gifts).

The latter is really what’s held me back in attempting this, so, that, in my opinion, is the first step in achieving a raw lifestyle: having the proper equipment. And it’s not cheap, and I’m not rich, so I wasn’t able to just jump right into it, and I gave up, for a while. It’s intimidating!!

But now I’m gonna try again, and will track my progress here.

Keep in mind, I collected these things over time, and mostly by telling everyone I know that I wanted this stuff for gifts.

Things you need to go raw:

  • A blender, high speed preferable, best bet is a Vitamix (but a regular blender will do).
  • A spiralizer — the cheapest and easiest, and also veggie noodles are awes0me.
  • A juicer: a just bought a super cheapie, since I already have the Vitamix and mostly can use that. But there are totally things a Vitamix can’t do right in terms of juicing, so I fessed up the $35 for this Black & Decker model: http://amzn.to/1WWxPS9. I’ll keep you posted on how much I like it, but so far it’s perfect for me! It’s quick and easy, and cleans up nicely. Of course, I’m only juicing for 2 so something small is fine, but I’ve been loving it.
  • A dehydrator; finally got one of these as a bday gift and I am so exciting!!!!! I will definitely be making jerky, too, but it is so perfect for raw eating, it’s definitely an essential if you’re planning on not eating any non-raw foods at all.

Personally, here’s how I’m gonna play it: as anyone who’s researched raw foods knows, it takes several days to cook things! So, I’m planning on integrating the raw foods into my regular diet (erring on the vegetarian side of things) slowly, and then hopefully as it goes on to just entirely edge out cooked foods. The stove was way to hot to deal last night anyway, so the time is right.

Recipes and much more coming soon!! Wish me luck.

Stir Fried Sirloin and Fiddlehead Ferns

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Stir Fry is absolutely one of my very favorite things to cook, as you’ll eventually see on this blog. All you need is a wok, which is a genius cooking tool anyway, everything cooks evenly and simply and in record time, and a few basic pantry staples, and you can stir fry anything.

I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but one of the few ways I enjoy it is in a stir fry. I was feeling in the mood for some meat so I got a sirloin and since it’s SPRINGTIME and (my favorite) fiddlehead ferns were available, I decided to go for that. I matched it with some nutty brown rice. And, it was terrific, as usual.

The trick to any stir fry is to have all your ingredients chopped and ready, cause it goes super fast once you’re cooking. Really, that’s the only trick, it’s otherwise pretty easy.

So, here’s how it went down for the sirloin/fiddlehead stir fry:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sirloin steak, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 5 tablespoons tamari or dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, more for drizzling
  • 1 pound fiddlehead ferns, washed and trimmed
  • 3 scallions
  • 2 ½ tablespoons Mirin
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 hot pepper, minced, with or without seeds depending on how spicy you like things.(I used habanero and kept the seeds, but anything available works. If you like it less spicy, remove seeds)
  • Rice, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)

Prep:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix steak, 2 tablespoons tamari, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Thinly slice and separate scallions (white and light green together, and dark green for garnish).
  3. In a small bowl, mix Mirin, 1/2 cup water, remaining 3 tablespoons tamari and cornstarch.
  4. Heat a wok over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. When pan is hot, stir-fry steak until browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer beef and any liquid to a plate.
  5. Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and when hot, add garlic and white and light green scallion parts until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add fiddleheads and sauce. Let cook for 2 minutes. Transfer beef and juices to skillet and stir-fry 2 minutes. Serve over rice, garnished with sesame seeds and dark parts of scallions.

Enjoy! I will post more stir fry recipes here in the future, there are a few different basic simple sauces that are go to for me, sweet vs. brown sauce (featured here), etc.

 

Cold Sesame Zucchini Noodles

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So, I got a spiralizer, can you tell?!? Also, you should totally get a spiralizer.

I’ve been making this dish like, every other day. It’s super yummy, perfect for the warmer weather, and fairly filling. I LOVE cold sesame noodles and these are a really nice alternative for a more everyday not as fat me.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar
3 tbsp. peanut butter
2 tsp. sesame oil
Half a packet no-calorie sweetener (or 1 tsp. sugar)
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 thumb sized chunk of minced ginger
2 large zucchini
2 tbsp. chopped scallions
1 tsp. sesame seeds
Crushed red pepper for serving

Directions: 


1) In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter, sesame oil, sweetener, garlic, and ginger.

2) Spiralize your zucchini. If you don’t have a spiralizer, they are really cheap. But you could always just carefully take a knife and slice it circularly around the zucchini. I’m gonna recommend the spiralizer, though, it’s so quick and easy!!!

3) Place zucchini noodles in a medium bowl. Add sauce, and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, or overnight.

4) Give mixture a stir, and top with scallions and sesame seeds.

Adapted from the recipe on Hungry Girl, get it here.

 

 

Sautéed Blowfish Tails

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So. This isn’t even really a recipe. But it totally warrants its own post, cause these things aren’t that common and they are so, so delicious.

Apparently the poisonous blowfish you hear about are an entirely different species, and these are just a delicious rarity sometimes called “chicken of the sea” or “sea squab”. And rightly so, cause these babies are very chicken like, in both appearance and taste.

Alls I did was dip them quickly and lightly in flour and sauté them up in a little garlic butter.  4 minutes per side or so. The minced garlic sticks right to them, and they are delicious. If you see them, buy them. And then eat them. You will not be disappointed.

 

Blue Apron Experimentation

I’m sure you’ve all seen, and potentially tried, these pre-packaged meal delivery services that are all the rage now.

I’ve basically been against them from the beginning. My primary reasons for being anti-meal delivery service are: 1) price and 2) customization. Along with a handful of other reasons, but those are the main two.

That said, I DID buy a groupon for Hello Fresh a while back, and gave it a whirl. My thoughts on it at the time were that the quality of the food was good, but that the overall taste was not as good as what I could produce on my own, and that it was, bottom line, totally not worth it. The one misgiving I’ve had about that decision is that my honey made one of the meals, following their simple directions, and I did not have to cook it. And he was thrilled with it. But still, not enough to sway me over.

So, last week, my old next door neighbors who moved to Los Angeles ordered Blue Apron, and forgot they moved to Los Angeles. This resulted in them offering me their box of Blue Apron foods! Of course, I was happy to accept. So! Here is my Blue Apron test; after all, these meal delivery services are totally a project.

The meals:

1) Korean Bao Sliders with Gochujang Mayo and Sweet Potato Tempura

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This was delicious. It took a while, though, and was not overall a simple process. I cook a lot, and I definitely felt like, if I didn’t cook a lot, I’d be a little taken aback by the process. However, it was really, really, good. And it was immediately better than any of the Hello Fresh meals I had.

2) Seared Salmon and “Green” Potato Salad with Pickled Mustard Seeds

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Again, really good! And again, slightly more complicated than I would expect, particularly the pickling of the mustard seeds (which made the dish). The green potatoes were fantastic. There was nothing mind blowingly difficult about the preparation, but it definitely crossed my mind a few times that if I was a cooking newbie, I might be overwhelmed. Cause as far as I understand, those are primary  targets for these companies.

The final meal in my box was Za’atar Chicken & Pearl Couscous with Asparagus and Pink Lemon Compote. For this one, I was working all day while my partner was off, so I decided to let him do the cooking. “Just follow the steps, like you did with Hello Fresh”, I told him. I did quickly scan the recipe and ask if he knew what zest was; he did not. So I showed him how to zest the lemon and was off.

I got home to him in a panic. He was certain he had screwed up the couscous and was trying to get to the chicken but was still freaking out about the couscous so hadn’t moved on. I took over. The couscous was fine. The lemon compote, however, was a mess…he somehow had added the zest to that instead of reserving it for the couscous. (In Blue Apron’s defense, it does clearly state this in the instructions, but it does go to show how someone with no experience in the kitchen may panic and do crazy things, like throw lemon zest into a perfectly good compote.) In any case we mostly salvaged it, and were able to enjoy the full meal.

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Of the three, this was my least favorite…a little boring and kind of dry. Still, it was fairly good, and all three beat anything I had tried with Hello Fresh.

Overall, not a bad experience with Blue Apron! Pretty yummy, and their ingredients were fresh and good quality. Would I buy a box? Definitely not. It’s more expensive than buying your own ingredients, and really not any easier than just cooking it yourself. The only difference I could really see is that they send the proper portions to put in…but really, how hard is that to do on your own? All three dishes took longer in prep time than the recipes stated, but that’s normal everywhere. Also, when you choose your own ingredients you have the option to customize it to your personal likes. If it was simple enough for anyone to follow along and feel like a chef, also, great! But I don’t think it’s for those people. So, overall analysis, skip it and just pick yourself out some good recipes and some good quality food.

If you’re interested in making any of these three dishes (cough, Bao Sliders!), here are the recipes. I would feel guilty about posting their recipes, but they have them right on their website, you don’t need to be signed up to get them. So.

Korean Bao Sliders

Seared Salmon & “Green” Potato Salad

Za’atar Chicken with Pearled Couscous

Of course, you may want to make your buns from scratch…but that’s another post.