Sunday, June 19, 2011

Raw Day Nineteen

Do dehydrators need to rest?  I sure hope not--mine's been going since Friday afternoon, and won't get a break until tomorrow evening.  I would hope that they're built for this kind of use...right?

What can I say--I like to play with new toys!  Things will probably calm down...eventually...maybe.

I just finished making crackers sans-recipe.  They taste good, but they're really fragile.  I think I need more "binding agent".  Whatever that is with raw crackers!  Not just water, I think it needs something with more staying-power.  I added coconut oil, but I didn't want to add too much, and have it taste all oily.  Over the past year, since greatly increasing the quality of the food I eat (nutritionally, etc) I've become more sensitive to things like oils, to the point where I sometimes can't eat chocolate, (especially if it's cheaper like what's found in most chocolate bars) because I can taste the oil--and you know it's not nice olive oil either.  I'll have to discover what to do...and perhaps actually follow a few recipes. :)

(I'm watching Spain On the Road Again as I create this blog entry.  My goodness that show makes me hungry...especially for fish!!  Mmmm...paella...)

At the farmer's market on Saturday I bought blueberries and pineapple, thinking they might be nice to dry and eat as a snack, or over cereal.  Arthur is working on them at the moment, though I doubt they'll be done much before tomorrow afternoon, since there is so much juice in both.  I've never had dried blueberries before, and I'm very intrigued.  I've had died pineapple lots of times, but I suspect it was with added sugar.  I'm looking forward to what dried pineapple really tastes like.  And they're both dried the "raw foodist" way so they'll retain the vast majority of their nutrients and enzymes.

I'm also making raw granola.  Yes, from a recipe.  It looked amazing spread out on the teflex sheet, and smelled even better. 

I find the problem with commercially-produced granola is that the people who make it seem to have lost sight of why most people want to eat granola--because it's healthy.  But they end up adding so much nonsense to it, that it loses all resemblance to the original items.  Commercial granola often is upwards of 300 calories (and Lord knows how much fat and sugar!) or 1/2 a cup!  What the heck have they done to it??  And as importantly WHY???  It's disgusting and so unnecessary.  Which is why I'm all geeked-out over the idea of raw granola actually being good for me. 

Here's the recipe, from The Complete Book of Raw Food:

2 cups raw almonds, soaked 12 to 48 hours and drained
1 cup raw pumpkins seeds, soaked 8 hours and drained
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked 4 to 6 hours and drained
2 apples, chopped with seeds and stem removed
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Process the almonds in a food processor fitted with the "S" blade into small chunks and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Process the pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds until roughly ground and combine with the almonds.

Process the apples and add them to the nuts and seeds.  Add the cinnamon and sea salt and mix well.

Spread the mixture onto a lined dehydrator tray and dehydrate for 20 to 24 hours at 105F or to a desired crunchiness.  Be sure to dehydrate until all the water is removed from the granola.  Add 1/2 cup raisins to the granola after dehydrating (if using).  Store in a glass air-tight jar.  This granola will last up to 3 months, so make lots! 

I'll take a pic tomorrow evening if it's done, so you can see how it turned out.

I did a half-recipe amount, because I want to try it out, before going to the expense of making a quadruple recipe!  I have a feeling it's going to be marvy though, just based on the aroma when I was mixing it.  If it turns out well, I'll make a super-batch for sure.  The half-recipe filled one tray, allowing for it to be spread out in lumps here and there, rather than in one big thick sheet.  I'm assuming that's how it's supposed to be spread out...I would think that one thick sheet would be VERY hard to dry, but I may be wrong, especially since a lot of the mixture is apple, which will dry down to a much smaller size.  Doesn't really matter much with this batch anyway.  Next batch I'll experiment--maybe do a double batch, and see if I can get it all on 2 teflex sheets (that's how many I have at the moment).  You really can't go too wrong with dehydrating, particularly the things that need to be completely dried, like this granola does.  It's dry when it's dry, and it's not like it's going to burn!

For those who are reading this, wondering how raw foodists could possibly do it all, with the soaking/drying times, let me explain:

Lots of raw dishes don't require any pre-soaking or dehydrating, and those that do, it's important to remember that all it is, is planning.  The 20 or so hours of dehydrating requires no work on my part at all.  The prep was putting the nuts and seeds in the fridge to soak...almonds last night, pumpkin and sunflower seeds this morning.  Then the recipe itself took just a few minutes.  So all it is, is planning.

I already learned to do that, when learning to eat cleanly.  Eating good, nutritious food means cooking most of the time, not opening up a box and slipping it into the oven.  Sometimes that's fine, as a treat, but for all the time, real food is the way to go. 

What it also means, is that I'm a lot more conscious and aware of what I'm eating, and what is going into it.  And surprisingly, it's rather liberating!  Knowing that everything (well...almost everything!) that I eat should contain no "food guilt" at all, because it's good for me, is truly an amazing experience.  Fortunately I've never been a binge-eater (not with meals...but junk is another story), so I don't have to worry about eating too much healthy food.  I can just eat lovely, delicious, fabulous-for-my-body foods, enjoy them immensely...and that's it!

Raw Days Seventeen and Eighteen

My dehydrator came!  I've christened it "Arthur"--get it?  Arthur?  Excalibur??  Have I just stepped blithely off the edge of sanity?? lol

It came to work on Friday.  When a co-worker let me know that FedEx was there with a package for me, I quite literally clapped my hands in glee! 

As soon as I got home, I made a recipe for sweet flax crackers.  I figure crunchy crackers are a good way to start getting to know Arthur--it's not like I can readily screw them up.  If I leave them on for an extra hour, they're not going to burn or anything, they'll just get crunchier.  And since crunchy is what I'm going for, all's well.

They turned out quite well--just like they should have, in fact!  Not bad for my very first attempt at dehydrating!  I ended up leaving them in for a few more hours than the recipe called for, because I wanted them crunchier than they were at the "done" point.  It's been pretty humid here lately, and I'm sure that made a difference in how long it took as well.

I also made Kristin Suzanne's Hearty Garden Burgers.  I didn't have any zucchini, so I just left it out.  They turned out pretty well too, though I think I would need to not think of them as burgers, but rather a veggie pattie, so that I don't automatically make comparisons.  They don't call for a bit of dehydrating, but I did dehydrate them just slightly, because I thought I might use them as 1) a "burger" so I would need a bit more firmness, and 2) maybe in a pita or something, with veggies.  They were crunchy because of the veggies in them, which was a surprise at first--though I don't know why it would be...I've eaten veggies before! lol

Here's the recipe:


Yield 6 - 8 servings

1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup chia meal (or flax meal)
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 1 hour, drained and sliced
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt
2 - 3 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
1/4 yellow or red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or lime juice
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup dates, pitted, and chopped

 Process the pecans and sunflower seeds into a fine grind using a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade. Add the hemp seeds and pulse to thoroughly mix. Set aside in a large bowl.

 Add the chia (or flax) meal to the ground nut/seed mixture and stir to mix.

 Process the sun-dried tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and salt in the food processor. Add the carrots, celery, red bell pepper, zucchini, onion, lemon juice and water and process. Don’t process too much or it gets mushy. Transfer this vegetable mix to the bowl with the ground nut/seed mixture.
Add the dates. Toss briefly to incorporate.

Take 1/3 - 1/2 of the mixture and place back in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Transfer to a new bowl. Repeat that process until you’ve done that with all of the mixture.

Form 1/3-cup patties and enjoy on a crisp lettuce leaf as your bun. Or for a more gourmet bun, use two slices of Raw bread.

On another note, I think, though I'm not sure, that I may be detoxing a little.  I had assumed that it was allergies, but I haven't had them in a number of years, not really, and medication isn't doing anything.  I spoke with a friend who is on her own raw food journey--though much more raw than than I am, and much more permanently--and she suggested that I familiarize myself the symptoms of detox, because it's entirely possible that's what I'm feeling.  It would certainly explain why nothing I do seems to help!  If it is detox, then it's a good thing, because better out than in!! 

My challenge at the moment, as I think I mentioned in previous posts, is to finally break my compulsive need for junk.  I've been working on it, and decided a good first step would be that if I really really wanted it, then to have it, but NOT to buy (and thus consume) the mass amounts that I want at the time.  If I buy a small amount, and enjoy that, I'm much more likely to just consume that small amount.  Am I going to go out again and get more?  Unlikely.  So that's what I've been doing, and I found that I've had much less--even though I'm normally craving-crazy during this time of the month.  Interesting!  I also think that eating so many more nutrients has eliminated some of my cravings, because the monster-need hasn't been there at all.

I can't believe that I'm more than halfway though my "mostly raw for 30 days" experiment.  I already know one thing for sure--after I'm done with this month, I'll definitely be continuing with raw foods, as much as is reasonable.  During the summer it will be much easier, so I'll likely be more raw, but as the growing season closes the choices will be a lot less, and with the cold winters here, I'm going to want hot food.  And that's OK!  So long as the food I eat, whether hot or raw, is healthy, I'll be the better for it.