Raw -- it does my body good :)

I DID IT!!! One week of raw!!!

Well, I say I did it because I'm nearly there! Today's my last day and I'm off to a great start: A delicious bowl of oat groats muesli with cherries, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, sun-dried mulberries, and a sprinkling of chia seeds. Yum yum!!

And pictured at left is part of last night's dinner: Raw flax-sunflower seed bread generously filled with chatni geshneez (spicy homemade cilantro chutney), artisanal butter lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, lime-spiked sweet onion slices, avocado slices, and a dash of Himalayan salt. Although J conked out on Raw Day 1, he did volunteer to become my personal cup-bearer.

The muesli got the taste-test. "Mmm, make me some for breakfast tomorrow, would you? And let's mix in blueberries and strawberries."

The salads got the taste-test. "Wow, these sprouted beans and dried tomatoes really make this thing, don't they? Hey, pass me some more basil."

The raw goodies, like the carrot cake with cashew cream frosting and the date balls, all got the taste test. "These are raw?? What's this frosting stuff? I could eat this by itself."

And my dinner sandwich last night got a huge chunk taken out of it -- "Well, for testing purposes only," of course -- immediately after I snapped the photo. Sorry it's so bright, but it got pretty mangled with the taste-test.

Everything was tested and pronounced "fit" for me to eat. The dehydrated bananas, raw crackers, all of it.

Seriously, it was not as hard as I thought it would be. Having a dehydrator really helped, though, because I could make bread for a sandwich or snacking. I love salads and fresh fruits and veggies, but sometimes it's nice to really be able to sink your teeth into something.

I didn't get around to making "cheeses" or really fancy dishes and desserts, but I will definitely be trying some of them. And I won't be doing raw for weeks at a time -- I just love hot foods, even in summer -- but it will be a big part of my life. Especially the bread. Being gluten-free, it's hard to find really great bread that travels well. Last year's climbing trip to Colorado, I took brown rice flour tortillas along and rolled them around all sorts of filling combinations: cheese slices, tomatoes, cucumbers, hummus, herbs, you name it. But before I could get two or three bites down, the tortilla was dried, cracking, and peeling -- like bad paint. All I did was complain that I'm about to call it quits with road trips because I can't ever find good road trip food. I didn't like myself on this trip -- all because of the bread ;)

Along comes this raw bread (I used Ani Phyo's black sesame sunflower bread) which is fantastically supple. I know it will be what I'll be taking with me on ALL future camping and road trips. It's delicious, adapts well to flavor variations, and holds up to all kinds of fillings. Thank you, Ani, for saving me!! Can't wait to get on the road now :)

Besides all the great tastes, I've felt really good and "light," with an amazing amount of energy. You know, whenever you tell your physician, or anybody else for that matter, that you're vegetarian, or that you're doing a raw diet, the first thing they challenge is that you won't get enough protein. Oddly enough, these are usually also the same people who drink diet sodas and eat fat-free, low-carb, preservative-rich and chemically-fortified food. There are so many sources of protein, other than animal, that if you're halfway educated about food and do minimal research, you'll get plenty of protein....complete proteins, and vitamins, and enzymes, and fiber, and the list of pronounceable ingredients goes on.

For the first time since my last surgery (nearly four weeks ago), we took the dogs out for a walk. J was desperate for a breakfast burrito with sauteed onions, jalapenos, bell peppers, tomatoes, and veggie brekkie sausage. Of course, we had no bells, so at 9pm, we geared up Leia and Nomi and headed out to the supermarket. After meandering through the neighborhood, we ran across the main road, and just kept running. I was running. I, the non-runner, was running and it actually felt like I could've run a long time. I wasn't panting; I wasn't saying, "Stop! Stop! That's all I can do." Well, to be honest, I was saying, "Stop! Stop! That's all I can do" -- because I'm not supposed to be bouncing "the girls" around yet.

My point, though, is that I had a lot more energy than I expected. No headaches. No body aches. Sure, the prep time is consuming, but so is prep time for any "regular" fresh food. The cost is probably the same; haven't calculated.

The cost to my body? Priceless!

Raw -- it does my body good :)

Ok, gotta go. I'm off to make a batch of Sun-dried Tomato Cheeze for my dinner salad & sandwich tonight.

Oh, last but not least, I must apologize for not having a give-away this month. Just way too much going on, including work, work, and more work, and therapy for my injured rotator cuff, and my niece is graduating next week from University of Texas (hook 'em horns!!), and my firefighter son bought a new house and "mom, please" got volunteered to wait as all the appliances were delivered one by one, and....oh, what they hey!!! Next month's giveaway is:

THE MILLENNIUM COOKBOOK: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine by Eric Tucker & John Westerdahl, with dessert recipes by Sascha Weiss. The back cover reads, in part:

"This is vegan eating at its lush, sensual best, a gourmet feast for the eyes and senses. The recipes draw on a world of culinary influences, bringing together glorious flavors from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and beyond, in intriguing appetizers, wholesome soups and salads, creative pizzas and pastas, satisfying entrees, and truly decadent desserts."

You WILL want this book!!

Cococcinos...and Peace

Tomorrow starts "raw food week" chez moi. Yesterday afternoon my sis, mom, and I prepped ourselves some goodies to snack on as we blaze our way through our 7 days of edible freshness.

Mama peeled and "thirded" (run your finger down the center of a peeled banana and watch it separate into 3 beautiful strips) a huge bunch of bananas. Onto the trays and into the dehydrator they went.

Nini Belle had read about pesto-stuffed mushrooms, so she busied herself processing the filling of walnuts, basil, garlic, and seasalt for stuffing the caps. Wow, they smelled sooo delicious!! They were also loaded into the dehydrator.

I'd seen the recipe for mulberry jam cookies at Raw Epicurean and decided they would be a perfect snack, or even breakfast. I love toot (as they're called in Iran) and always have a bag of dried ones tu yakhchalam (in my fridge). They're sweet, chewy, and have a taste that's reminiscent of late summer. Lacking the fresh mulberries the recipe called for, I soaked dried ones overnight. I also added a bit of lemon zest and a touch of cardamom to the mixture. We formed them into little "thumbprints" (coconut oil on the palms helped shape them) -- albeit a bit more "rustically" than the directions called for (yep, those are mine above). I noticed one of the comments on these cookies on Raw Epicurean mentioned that they barely made it to the drying stage -- yeah, the "batter" tastes delicious in its rawest form. But I exercised some self-discipline and we got them shaped, filled, and loaded into the machine.

The last dehydrator entry was Ani Phyo's Black Sesame Sunflower Bread. We added a bit of chili to the mix, as we all love things a bit (actually, a lot) spicy. Engines were started and all systems go.

We also made little carrot cake cookies (carrot pulp from juicing, walnuts, coconut, agave, cardamom, cinnamon, lemon) topped with creamy cashew icing. They're so cute and, darn it, so edible :) They were packed up into airtight containers and went into the fridge to await our snack attack.

After all that work, we poured ourelves some Shiraz, sat out on the back patio, and just chilled for a bit. Literally chilled -- the weather had turned downright cold yesterday evening. I grabbed a jacket for each of us and we discussed the curry plant, how great the San Augustine was doing, the roses, the myrrh plant. "Omi hat a Myrtekraenzchen auf g'habt wia's g'heirat hat," ("Omi wore a crown of myrrh at her wedding") my mom said. I love to hear and speak Bavarian -- a dying language that not too many people, especially outside of Southern Germany, speak anymore.

We chilled a little longer then decided to come back inside, make some tomato and avocado salads, and watch a movie. Foreign, naturellement. The French film De Battre Mon Couer s'est Arrete, "The Beat That My Heart Skipped." Certainly not what I expected from the description. Naturellement. But just "chilling" with Mama and Nini Belle was the good part :)

Armed with an arsenal of snacking yumminess, I've now just sat down for an afternoon snack: a most lovely & delicious cococcino (I decided to make myself a capuccino with steamed coconut milk -- a very winning combination that I'll definitely be making again after raw week) and a mulberry jam cookie. The cup says it all.....


In the Raw :)

It has been way too long. And, I know, the cookbook giveaway is way overdue. And before I delay announcing the winner by going into a long sob story......it's Ms Latida!! So, ML, please send me an email -- and maybe we can finally meet!!!!

So, on to my sob story, chapter 1....well, I'm not really going to torture you with that, but suffice it to say that it's been a rough few weeks. Had my reconstruction surgery a few weeks back with the most incredible plastic surgeon, Dr. William Carpenter (and his fantastic staff) at Baylor. The man's a creative genius when it comes to breasts! How else do you explain why my "girls" look like they belong on a 20 year old :) They look great and feel great; I look great and feel great! Wish I could post a picture!! But the best part is, I feel like the Big C is finally and forever behind me -- and what an incredible feeling that is. Three surgeries in 4 months is tough, and the older I get the tougher it is to bounce back. I've been in an anesthesia fog since December....

Chapter 2 of the sob story is that my big sis has had a recurrence of the Big C!! This time I'll be taking care of her (hopefully as passionately and compassionately as she did me) as she deals with this thing. This had better be it, though, because neither one of us likes this game very much!!!

One of the positives along this road has been to read about and connect with other women, and men, going through various stages of various cancers. It's empowering to be encouraged by others who have "made it" or who are fighting hard to get through something so ravaging. Even reading about how some are struggling to be positive or not cry all day long or deal with whatever painful or humbling therapies they're undergoing...it feels good to belong to this group because it truly grounds you. We can't always be in the house of mirth; sometimes it's good to take a tour of the house of pain and sorrow. It certainly equalizes people and things.

One of the websites I've found most useful during the past months is Kris Carr's My Crazy Sexy Life. It's full of invaluable information in the form of personal pages, rocking blogs, inspirational and encouraging tips, even recipes that promote healthier eating, and some pretty groovy music and artwork. It's just a great resource for anyone who has cancer or knows someone who does. One of my good friends bemoans the fact that she didn't find her "therapist" (read My Crazy Sexy Life) last year when she was diagnosed and undergoing treatment, because it would've made the battle a lot easier. I'm telling you, it's that good!!! Check it out -- you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be glad you did!

Another positive is that I've become even more aware of what I eat. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not sure that I could ever give up chocolate or cakes and cookies (all gluten-free, of course). But I'm really investigating and reading a lot about raw food diets and their effects on a body dealing with cancer. So, drumroll.....I'm going to give it a try next week! Can I, the starch and carb lover make it?? Please check back and see; or, better yet, shoot me a "you can do it" email.

I've got J, my sister, and my mom all on board -- happiness loves company, right?? And with the weather turning warmer (was it really 92 today?!), it actually sounds downright appealing.

There's a whole list of stuff I'm shopping for tomorrow, all raw natch: cashews, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini, buckwheat, and, as the King of Siam said, "etcetera etcetera etcetera." Of course, there'll be the usual salads and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. The juista will be manning the Green Star for our daily libation. Ooh, I'm excited!! I already made some super delicious raw date cookies (check out this irresistible recipe by Emilie) that I guarantee will not see the light of Monday ;)

Another of the "raw" websites I found has the most delicious-looking food: Choosing Raw. And Gena is giving away a "spiralizer" that makes these fantabulous "noodles" out of veggies and fruits. Check out her website and sign up for her giveaway, and don't leave without promising yourself to make one of her wonderful dishes. You'll know what I mean when you catch yourself drooling over her blog :) I'm making her zucchini noodles with pesto tonight -- can't wait!!

So, if you're feeling funky, try going raw with me for a week. I'm offering a 100% guarantee you'll feel better!! If you're not 100% satisfied, let me know and I'll send you a chocolate goody in the mail :)

And I haven't forgotten my "goal" to give away a cookbook a month. I may slack off a bit, but I'm going to try and get another one together for an end of May giveaway. Not yet sure which it'll be, but it won't disappoint. Keep posted :)

Last, but not least, Sonoma and Leia grace this post as they swim through the yard at the lakehouse. You heard right, they swam in the yard at the lakehouse! We had so much rain there last weekend that the water came over the seawall and eventually was a good 2 feet deep at the edge of the yard. The girls loved it!!

Peace out!!