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"Better Than" Pad Thai

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


What do you do when pasta is on the menu at home?
With a large batch of my favorite peanut sauce already made I had to figure out what to put it on! It didn’t take long to get some zucchini out and go on a raw pasta adventure. I had been wanting to try zucchini pasta but haven't figured out what kind to make first….until now. It was the first time but definitely not the last, in fact, I admit that I’ve made this dish several times in the past two weeks already! Yes, it’s that good.

Raw Zucchini Pasta
Zucchini makes perfect pasta because it doesn’t have an overpowering flavor and it has quite the right texture to replace the strings of dough we’re all used to. If you have a spiralizer or some kind of a magic machine to make pasta, lucky you, your task just got somewhat easier. If you’re like me and even your mandolin is in storage somewhere and all you have to work with is a knife then do this: cut grooves all the way lengthwise the peeled zucchinis but be careful to not cut through the other side. With a peeler go down the grooves you’ve made and shave your squashes into pasta. It takes some work but I must say I didn’t expect to like the outcome as much as I do now and it’s so worth it. Pile some on plates and put your pasta servings in the dehydrator for a warmer dish at about 130 °F (54 °C) while you make the sauce.


Peanut Sauce*
(Serves 2-3)
1 ½ cup peanuts (or a shallow cup of peanut butter)**
optional: 3-4 tbs soy sauce/nama shoyu 
~½ cup water added a spoonful at a time (you may add less or more depending on how watery you prefer the sauce)
2 cloves garlic
handful of cilantro
optional: 2 tbsp of your favorite sweetener
optional: 1 jalapeno (makes it spicy)

* If you happen to end up with leftovers this makes a great dip to go with apples or veggies.
** For this recipe I used lightly toasted Valencia peanuts, which are not raw. I’ve talked about raw Jungle peanuts vs. roasted peanuts here and in this case I think these are a better choice. Decide for yourself. If you want to go for both the flavor and the improved digestibility then I recommend using lightly toasted Valencias. If you insist on 100% raw go for the Jungle ones and maybe adjust your seasoning.

If you’re using peanuts, grind them in a food processor until they’re starting to clump together and little by little add some water. Add the soy sauce/nama shoyu, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro and sweetener of your choice. Mix evenly and taste. Adjust the seasoning and add more water if it doesn’t have the consistency of a sauce to pour on pasta. If you’re starting with peanut butter you don’t even need to use a food processor just mix it with water and the rest of the ingredients but use already pressed garlic and chop the cilantro finely.

Get your pasta out of the dehydrator and mix each serving with some peanut sauce and place back into the dehydrator to warm up for a little while longer. Slice some bell pepper and some green onions, and chop some more peanuts to top each plate before serving. Add some chili flakes for an extra spicy finish dig in!
Put zucchinis on your shopping list because from now on you’ll want to have “pasta” on hands at all times.


Banana Buckwheat Pancakes

Monday, October 17, 2011


Two ingredients is all it takes to have what you thought you couldn’t have if you eat raw! The processed white flour and sugar, the milk, and who knows what else (I’ve never made any common pancakes) have all been replaced by some really popular fruit and less known seeds ground into flour. I’ve talked about the health benefits of buckwheat before but bananas are a different story so here we go…

Bananas’ Health Benefits
Famous for being really rich in potassium, these monkeys’ favorites are also very high in vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) which helps efficient metabolism and prevent heart disease, is important for brain function, and is a “mood lifter”. Wait, does that mean pancakes would help if I’m depressed??? Yep, these kind sure would! That’s not all though, since the most popular fruit in North America is very high in vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, and fiber too. Strong bones, healthy nerves and heart, along with good digestion, are all some of the good side effects of consuming bananas. They’re definitely not an eco-friendly choice if you live in the U.S. because all of them are imported but let’s focus on the positives…it’s still an unprocessed food that comes individually wrapped by nature and ready to hop into your lunch box (or your pancake batter).

Raw Banana Buckwheat Pancakes
(Makes 2 of the traditional size or 6 mini pancakes)
3 very ripe bananas*
½ cup buckwheat flour
pinch of salt
dash of cinnamon
maple syrup

*A ripe banana is, at a minimum, completely yellow but even better if it has some brown speckles already. There should be no sign of green areas for sure.

In a food processor, make a batter by mixing sliced bananas, flour, and salt (and if you choose to, cinnamon and some sweetener). Pour the batter onto a teflex sheet just pouring enough at a time for the size of pancakes you prefer. Dehydrate for a couple of hours at 130 °F (54 °C) then lower the temperature to 115 °F (46 °C) and continue dehydrating for a few more hours. It will take at least three but it depends on how “dry” you would like them. Check periodically and flip them over whenever they peel off the teflex sheet somewhat easily. Be careful doing this, if you’re doing it too early. I didn’t dehydrate mine for too long because I was too impatient : ) so they were barely dry on top when I flipped them. It’s doable but requires care. Or just wait long enough! Good luck with that, when your house smells like a giant cookie or something of that sort…
Once they’re ready, serve them with maple syrup (not raw) or fresh fruit, jam, melted coconut butter, etc. The possibilities are endless. Ready for a raw Sunday brunch? What to serve is taken care of so make a list of friends to invite!


From Farmers' Market to Salad Bowl

Saturday, October 8, 2011


One of my favorite things to do is to go to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market and visit my favorite growers to see what they have just harvested. There’s nothing like seasonal, fresh, organic food, grown by caring people. Of course, I would love to grow my own fruits and veggies, that would be ideal, but where I currently live I’m only able to “raise” strawberries, chili peppers, and some herbs. “City living”, as we call it, only allows for a “garden” that consists of five little planter boxes. So farmers' market it is…


I went, I grazed, I picked, I bought, I carried, and brought home some fruit and such delicious ingredients for a salad that it really didn’t even need any dressing. The French are right: it’s all in the ingredients! Some of the goodies I picked up are French plums, a variety of heirloom tomatoes and even wild arugula!
There’s no such thing as coming home from the market with the fresh, crisp greens and not making a salad. They are the only types of dishes where I don’t mind combining lots of ingredients. They’re still all vegetables. No matter what, a salad can’t be that hard on you!
So I layered romaine lettuce, wild arugula, cucumber, red onions, red radishes, bell pepper, pineapple heirloom tomatoes and made just the simplest dressing to go with it.


Basic Salad Dressing 
(for salads that are too good to be drenched in an overpowering “sauce”)
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
salt to taste

Sometimes we don’t have the best ingredients on hand or just want a more flavorful dressing or want to make something to impress… So here are some other combinations that I love to dress my salads with:

Garlic and Herbs Dressing
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp mustard
1-2 cloves garlic (pressed)
chopped fresh (or dry) herbs such as oregano, basil, or your favorite(s)
salt to taste

Honey-Mustard Dressing
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp mustard
1-2 cloves garlic (pressed)
½ tsp honey (NOT vegan, but you can substitute agave or maple syrup, which is not raw)
salt to taste

Whisk together all of the ingredients with a fork or shake it all up in a jar, pour over the salad, mix, and that's it! You've got a bowl full of antioxidants, anti-cancer qualities, fiber, copper, folate and the list goes on....it's a pile of vitamins and minerals "thrown" together in minutes!  It can't really get any healthier or more eco-friendly...

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Energy Bars

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


How many different kinds of energy bars have you tried? Are there any that you really like? Ok, maybe there are because there are some really tasty ones out there but… When you make your own they have exactly the ingredients you want, the flavors you like the most, the nutrition and energy you need at the moment, be that loads of protein or a carbohydrate-rich instant-fuel bar, cut into the perfect size and shape for you to grab and head out the door. Phew, I tried to say it all in one breath…and I managed! I chose peanuts as a main ingredient for these ones to provide lots of protein and long-lasting energy, the chocolate is “just” to top it all, literally. : )

Peanut Nutrition Facts
The nuts that make up one of the most cherished foods in America (yes, I’m talking about peanut butter) are, in fact, legumes so no wonder they have a similar nutritional profile to beans and lentils, with some extra benefits that is. Yes, peanuts are much higher in fat but it’s fat from a whole food and with lots of fiber, which, even if you’re watching your fat intake, shouldn’t scare you. Peanuts will provide you loads of protein and are, in general, very rich in most all minerals, especially manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, potassium, iron, selenium, and calcium. They stand out in the vitamin department with high amounts of niacin (B3), folate (B9), vitamin E, thiamin (B1), pantothenic acid, and the list goes on. As expected, they come with a myraid of health benefits. The oleic acid rich goobers are a heart-healthy nut with a notable antioxidant capacity, and anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer qualities. They will not only help in the prevention of gallstones but snacking on a handful a day will provide protection against age-related cognitive decline, like Alzheimer’s disease. Thanks to their phytosterol content, they will help lower your cholesterol levels and their high mineral content will contribute to maintaining strong bones. Some claim that Jungle peanuts have an even more impressive nutritional profile but there’s a lot of controversy around the subject. One thing’s for sure, they are readily available in their natural, raw form while Valencia peanuts are usually sold dry roasted at the stores. Roasting makes some of the nutrition more bioavailable and help eliminate the aflatoxin that’s found on a lot of them, which, again, some claim Jungle peanuts are naturally lacking in. One way to have the best of both worlds is to consume Jungle peanuts raw and eat the roasted version of the others. Decide for yourself. Grab the peanuts of your choice because the recipe is next...


Raw Jungle Peanut Butter-Chocolate Energy Bars
(Makes ~8 bars)
2 cups jungle peanuts (or any other peanuts)
3 tbsp sesame seeds
2-3 pinches of salt
3 tbsp golden flax seeds
3 tbsp hemp seeds
optional: 2 pinches of ground vanilla bean or vanilla powder
4-5 tbsp agave syrup or maple syrup (not raw!) or honey (not vegan!)

Grind the peanuts in a food processor until they start getting sticky on the way to becoming peanut butter. Add the sesame seeds and salt and process them just a bit longer. Put the mixture in a mixing bowl. Grind the flax seeds in a spice/coffee grinder and add to the bowl along with the hemp seeds and the vanilla. Mix well and add your choice of sweetener. Mix by hand and you will end up with a sticky mixture. Press the mixture into a flat-bottomed, plastic-wrap-lined dish and place it in the fridge while making the chocolate.


Chocolate Drizzle
½ tbsp coconut oil or cacao butter
1 tbsp cacao powder
1/2 tbsp agave syrup (or other sweetener)

Melt the coconut oil (or cacao butter) and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle the chocolate over the peanut layer or if you have enough, smear it over the whole surface area. Place it back in the fridge for half an hour. Cut into bars and serve or leave it in the fridge so whenever you need a snack it’s there. Store them in the fridge for softer bars and put them in the freezer if you prefer them more solid. You’ve got your own energy bars to take to work or school. Cut a piece and wrap it into wax paper or put it in a container and off you go.