Mar 18, 2010

update on "the optimal raw chocolate product"

my favorite chocolate product is indeed raw! -> see blog entry "the optimal chocolate product", march 12th.

i contacted the company that makes it (www.govindanatur.de) and it's completely raw!!

they also have various other raw products and sweet treats. somehow it's not popular in germany (yet?) to label a product as "raw". (sometimes you just have to contact companies and ask for it!)

Mar 17, 2010

to chew or not to chew... about chewing gum


yes, i still chew chewing gum. and with that i don't mean chewing away most of the day, i mean chewing 2 gums (tops) a day.
i always used to rip the gum stripes from major factories in half. i think they are simply too big for one serving.

now i found a great ORGANIC-not raw but all natural- chewingum!

it's called peppersmith and it comes from the uk. the only ingredients are:

peppermint

chicle (the sap from the sapodilla tree)

xylitol (i always thought it's an artificial sweetener. it's not, it's a wood sugar from the birch tree, much like maple syrup)

gum arabic (so it sticks together)
vegetable glycerol (to prevent drying out)
calcium carbonate (= chalk. for the right texture)
rapeseed lecithin (for an even mix)
carnauba wax (as a coating)

hopefully peppersmith will be available in germany soon. the guys from peppersmith are super friendly and they didn't charge me any shipping costs to germany!

http://www.peppersmith.co.uk/

i love their whole product presentation. from the design of their website, the whole "mustache" theme, that everything is explained so well on their site, from the taste and consistency of the actual product to the sweet little ideas (e.g. they provide little strips of recycled paper to wrap your used gum in to avoid waste). all that make this product so convincing.

if you are looking for an alternative to regular gum (that is loaded with either sugar or sweetener, softeners, aroma, artificial flavor enhancers and a top of additives) : this is it!!!

the taste is slightly pepperminty, not in-your-face-screaming-mint, but very nice and natural. it could stay a bit longer for my taste.

then again, i never chew any gum for very long, i use chewing gum to refresh my breath, not to exercise my jaw muscles.

raw baklava!

i present: raw baklava!
my own recipe!

i made non-raw baklava before, so i altered, substituted or left out some ingredients and came up with a raw variant that doesn't require a dehydrator and takes about 10 minutes to make. (the zucchinis should be sliced and dried in advance though!)

i served it with an orange-lime sirup (optional) and dried (reconstituted through soaking over night) white and black mulberries.

it was a total hit! my friends A and E liked it very much. L was disappointed that there were no leftovers for her, so i made it again the very next day.

mel's raw baklava (makes 4 smaller or 2-3 big servings)
1 zucchini
1 cup pistachio
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup paranuts (~8-9 nuts)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground up cloves
a pinch of salt
a pinch of vanilla (from a fresh bean or dried ground up bean)

-> slice up the zucchini and let it dry.
blend all ingredients into a fine mash (in a foodprocessor or a blender) and then add water (1 or 2 tablespoons) until its a creamy paste.
pile it up like a lasagne: zucchini-paste-zucchini-paste-zucchini. put it in the fridge and let it sit for a while.

sirup (optional)
juice of 1 1/2 - 2 oranges
juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon lucuma
small splash agave
-> just mix ev well.

Mar 14, 2010

ode to avocado

i LOVE avocado. if i had to pick one food i was allowed to eat for the rest of my life and nothing else, it would be avocado.

above you can see a chart of (some!) of the varieties of avocado growing on the hawaiian islands. these are not even all...

these avocados are common here: pinkerton - fuerte - hass
tastewise they are not too different. the pinkerton is a bit "fresher" than the hass. and the fuerte is a bit richer and creamier.
the hass avocado is very popular here and elsewhere in the world, since it has both a good creamy/firmness and meat-quantity/pit-size ratio.
during the last 1 1/2 years i ate at least 1 avocados a day. sometimes 2. on some days even 3. i know that there are lots of critics (also in the raw community) saying that avocado is too high in fat to eat it in large quantities.
(and technically i agree)
but don't confuse the fat an avocado has with the kind of fat a cheesesandwich has... avocados are rich in essential fatty acids, potassium, b vitamins, vitamin e & k.


another interesting fun fact about the avocado suggests that the avocado originally had some kind of symbiosis (or "ecological relationship") with a large, now extinct mammal.

so the ultimate goal of any plant is to disperse its seed and multiply. the avocado may have been swallowed in whole(!) by large animals. the pit is mildly toxic, so it would not have be digested, but excreted in the animal's dung, ready to sprout. no native animal living on planet earth now is large enough to disperse avocado seeds in this fashion...

very interesting. i had never thought about that! i just assumed that the avocado fruit falls off the tree and the skin eventually rots away. and that the fatty flesh was designed to keep the pit moist and well nourished.

pumpkinseed oil vs. avocado oil


these two oils changed my attitude towards oil.
i was never much of an oil user, esp not olive oil (just don't like it).

i discovered pumpkinseed oil a couple of month ago and now i rarely have a salad without it. (that and my excessive use of agave instead of artificial sweetener plus the fact that i'm eating way too many nuts explain my slight weight gain)

avocado oil is a close second. it's rich and flavorful and it really spices up a salad. this oil is from australia and around here it's pretty uncommon. one bottle (250 ml/8,45 fl.oz) has the oil of 20 avocados in it!

the pumpkinseed oil is not raw, but it's an exeption i am willing to make.
it is cold pressed, but prior to pressing the pumpkin seeds are mildly roasted at 50 degrees celsius (that's 122 degrees fahrenheit)
it's a specialty of south eastern austria (styria, "steiermark" in german) and is extracted from a special kind of pumpkinseed that has been cultivated in that area since the 1700.

it has a bright green color (looks like aceto balsamico on your veggies) and is extremely color intensive on the skin (that's why it's not used in the cosmetic industry) and on clothes... i have several pair of jeans with green spots now. i wear an apron now whenever i eat anything with the oil :)
the taste is just unbelievably good. like pumpkinseeds, but much more rich and intense. yummy!

mel vs. loquat

the loquat (also called medlar, 'mispel' in german) flavor can vary from sour to sweet (when very ripe). these ones were not very sweet, but a little sour and super refreshing. *i like*

what else did i eat?
very long sprouts... (called "pea-aspargus", it's a sprout from a regular green pea)

... very shroomy mushrooms: king oyster mushrooms (kräuterseitlinge). to be very honest: i don't taste any difference between these and porcini mushrooms.
plus i drank a lot of kefir yesterday. too much. now i am paying the price. i am all bloated. really really badly. not very socially compatible... i couldn't go to my regular sunday courses at the gym today :(

Mar 12, 2010

the optimal chocolate product!

this is a really great chocolate product!
even if the name "schoko light" is a little weird. i think they choose that name bc there is no cacaobutter in there.

it's made out of dates (50%), raisins, cacaopowder and vanillapowder. everything is completely organic and it contains no sugar, honey or aroma.

it's not raw since the cacaopowder is not raw (ev else is though), but this is an exeption i make as a treat.
-> UPDATE: IT IS A RAW PRODUCT!
RAW!!!!
i contacted the company (one my favorite things to do is write emails to companies about their products) and it's completely raw. even the cacao powder. everything. RAW!
FANTASTIC!

Mar 11, 2010

more raw chocolate!

for the price of a small car i got these raw chocolates from the uk.

i must say... shazzie seems like an outstanding individual (judging from interviews and articles), but her chocolates... (she's the maker of shazzie's chocolate, the three bars on the right) are not for me.

they are just not sweet enough. and also really not creamy enough. maybe it should be called something other than chocolate. this is not what i expect from a chocolate.


i liked these two from the raw chocolate company better than shazzie's. note that these are NOT 100gr bars, but only teeny tiny weensy 44gr bars. quite a disappointment when i opened the package.

on a scale from 1-10 they get a 5.
the raspberry truffles from booja booja get an 8. (that's high praise from me)

L said she liked my own raw chocolate better. secretly i agreed.

about coffee detox

it's been about six weeks that i'm off coffee. so far i'm doing well.

i went off and i stayed off. even when the smell of freshly brewed coffee nearly lured me into cafes and coffee houses, or used to tempt me at home when L made her morning soy latte. it's getting easier every day. i don't even think about it anymore.

the initial detox was hard, i experienced headaches and afternoon fatigue (or rather "crashes"). it really paid off to stay with it. i feel very much better now. in the morning i'm energetic from the moment i open my eyes, i don't need anything to "get me going".

i did some research and put together a little list of the benefits of life without coffee (and all caffeinated drinks like coke etc)

the top 20 benefits of giving up coffee/caffeinated drinks

1. better smelling breath
2. better hydration = better skin
3. less stomach acid, less stomach irritation = 72% less ulster risk
4. less risk of parkinson’s disease
5. less risk of heart attack & heart rhythm problems
6. better teeth hygiene, density and color
7. less sugar cravings (coffee increases the blood sugar level!)
8. better stress management, less irritability (coffee creates stress in the body)
9. no more heavy fatigue during the afternoon (...after detox)
10. less thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) bc less calcium is being flushed out
11. less flushing out of: vitamin A, B and C
12. better absorption of minerals like iron, zinc and calcium
13. better cholesterol levels
14. less stress on adrenal glands = slower aging process!
15. coffee slows the passage of waste through the small intestine & speeds it up in the large intestine = after detox: say goodbye to constipation!
16. less pre-menstrual breast pain
17. less risk of urinary incontinence
18. coffee contains many carcinogens = less cancer risk
19. less high blood pressure
20. better brain chemistry! (caffeine blocks adenosine absorbtion, adenosine is a neurotransmitter that makes you naturally drowsy. so caffeine is momentarily increasing concentration and reaction speed, but the long term effects can be really tricky. once the temporary stimulation stops, the brain cells start needing caffeine for stimulation and a sudden neural sluggishness installs...)

coming off coffee can be really hard. top detox symptoms include:

1. irritability
2. fatigue
3. headaches
4. cravings
5. foggy headedness
6. overall groggyness
7. general unhappyness

and the first 2-5 days are the worst...


if you had suggested giving up coffee to me half a year ago i would have responded with a rude hand gesture and a dramatic "WHAT?? NO WAY!!" and then shrugged it off.
coffee was very important to me. i used to be a real coffee snob, sometimes i travelled with my own stove-top-espresso-maker... i used to love everything about coffee, the smell, the taste and how it made me feel. i never liked the sweat side effects...

i really don't want to preach! i'm also not saying that i'll never drink coffee again! i'm just saying people (myself included!!) should consume more consciously.
never consider what you might "lose", consider the benefits and what you "gain"

truffles


can you believe i never ate truffles before? i saw these at the supermarket and i had to have them. of course they're not premium truffles, but bottom scale price ones.

truth be told: i'm not a fan... they taste like earthy and musky (like woodearth really) to me. ok, these truffles were "the cheapest of the cheapest", yet i think i get the general idea.

with many hyped gourmet foods i simply can't understand what all the fuss is about. e.g. i never liked caviar, i don't enjoy alcohol in general (be it expensive wine or wine out of a drink carton, tastes all the same to me...), i don't like olive oil (esp the more expensive ones taste moldy to me) and the kopi luwak coffee i once bought couldn't really elate me either. yeah, i'm quite the phillistine ;)

this fancy package with truffle oil and 4 small black truffles was available for 5,99 € (~ $8,19)

a bargain for truffles L told me. she had truffles many times before and said that a premium qualitly truffle the size of a small fist is sometimes sold for ~$1000!
black perigord truffles take six years to grow and cost $50/ounce (around $800/lb), but truffles sometimes run up to $2,200 depending on type and demand!
wikipedia says:
"the record price paid for a single white truffle was set in December 2007: US$330,000 (£165,000) for a specimen weighing 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb)"
yeah, done that now. no truffles for me no more.

kefir news

i had some fun with the "milk" kefir this week. i tried different batches with soymilk before, now i discovered that it works almost as well with almond milk.

i thought the waterkefir would be really popular with L and me, but i like the almondmilk kefir better. it varies in texture, so you can have a milky drink or a yoghurt, depending on how long it sits.

i think the culture already grew and multiplied. it changed color, as expected. when the kefir doesn't nourish on lactose anymore it changes it's appearance.


almond milk kefir after ~24h. i never let it sit super long, then it turns too sour.



the first few were too liquid. now i add a little demerara raw sugar and a splash of lemon, lime or grapefruit.
that gets the kefir going :)

what's new? baby kiwis!

baby kiwis can be eaten with the skin. i like the taste very much, but kiwi in general leaves a fuzzy feeling in my mouth.


more tomatoes. more kimchi, more kelp with tahini.


L made the fantastic living lasagne again. this is my favorite raw gourmet dish. actually, it's one of my favorite dishes in general ;)

lion's mane mushroom (in german this mushroom is called "affenkopfpilz") "soup" (or rather "with soysauce and a bit of oil"). this is not my favorite mushroom...
i had some great porchini mushrooms (steinpilze) this week. and white mushroom (champignon) is an all time favorite.
they taste really well with pumpkinseed oil which i can safely say is my favorite oil. it spices up zucchini, tomato, carrot... everything really!

more zucchini noodles with tomato sauce (fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatos, bear's garlic (ramsons) which i prefer to garlic these days)


the tomato sauce can also be used as a salad dressing

black mulberries and senjed

this fruit is called senjed. the shop's clerk explained it's eaten during nowruz, the iranian new year.
i bought some, expecting something like a date. it's very different from a date though. very very very starchy. can't eat many of these. (they are not sugar coated btw, they are just extremely flakey...)



i was delighted to finally find dried black mulberries! 400gr for 3,60 € (~ $ 4,90)

Mar 7, 2010

sumptuous choc' b-day cake


it's was my very good friend A's birthday yesterday. what a perfect occasion to take my first raw chocolate cake!

looks good, doesn't it?
so, lets have it step by step:

i made a crust of nuts (hazelnuts & almonds) and dates and pushed it into a regular spring form. it was very sticky (dates!), so i put it into the freezer while i blended up the filling.
the sumptuous filling is loosely based on the raw chocolate pudding:
2 avocados (ripe! otherwise it makes ugly chunks)
3 small or 2 big mangos
8 dates
2 plums (ripe!)
3 table spoons of raw cacao powder
1 splash of agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon of "bindubin" which is a binder consisting of locust bean gum. i contacted the manufacter and the product is RAW! this i used to give the topping a little bit more of a firm structure. might as well be left out! (http://www.tartex.de/sortiment/kuechenhilfen/bindobin.html)

i used these small orange mangos. they have a bit of a coconutty aroma to them and a very fine texture.


the "dough", still in the food processor

everything filled into the form with some raw cacao nibs sprinkled over it. i put it into the freezer for about 1/2 h, that also helped make it firmer.


out of the form. (honestly, i thought it would fall apart right away. but it didn't!)

müsli evolution

most mornings i eat müsli for breakfast. i used to use whole soaked oats and lots of fresh or reconstituted fruit.
(how could i not know about soaking all those years? drop a dried apricot, some green raisins and goji berries in water for a couple of hours. they magically soak in the water and the result you can see in the pic above. looks almost like a fresh fruit again! amazing!)
i've noticed that the whole oats are hard to digest.


now i grate the whole oats up with my immersion blender (or any other blender or food processor) and it absolutely tastes and looks like oatmeal. and it's a lot easier to digest. i'm also adding vanilla beans to my müsli. yummy.

kefir growth explosion

the kefir is really thriving!
the third cycle of fermentation is completed and i've set up the next round this morning.

the waterkefirs really enjoys the new raw food diet!
growth rates have skyrocketed since i fed them raw cane sugar and raw cane sugar melasse.

i think that's already significantly more than what i've started with. (the little spots are pieces of a fig)
it's only been 4 days and considering that they needed to recover from their journey in the mail AND get used to a completely different diet (unrefined sugars, different dried fruit & probably also a very different set of water) i think they're doing pretty good.
oh yeah, how do they smell?
mhm... they don't smell super yummy, but they also don't smell bad. kefir is a bacteria and smells like ...fermentation and yeast. if you know kombucha you'll have an idea.
i would think that freshly set up young wine smells like that too. a little bit like fruit gone bad in a slightly alcoholic way with an aroma of a very light cheese?!

Mar 5, 2010

soymilk kefir

i couldn't wait any longer... although the soy still had a very milky consistency i took the kefir grains out.
it's a bit thicker than the soymilk originally was. i tried a little bit (for old times' sake ;) and it's very yeasty. in a good way though.
i put some rice syrup (tastes pretty similar to agave) in and fed it to L. she drank it and didn't complain.

i set up 2 new kefirs. i divided the cultures up: with 2/3 i made another soymilk setup.
internet researches told me the kefir bacteria culture originally norishes on protein and lactase. as lactase is only present in cow's (or any other mammals) milk it wont get that anymore, but it seems to do fine with the soy's protein, i think the culture grew a little bit already.

the other 1/3 i set up with almondmilk and some demerara (raw cane sugar) to substitute the milk sugar. i am really curious now!

waterkefir

the first go of waterkefir is ready! i like it sweeter and non alcoholic, technically the kefir can sit and ferment up to 4 days.

it's a nice and very refreshing drink. tastes a bit like fresh "federweisser" (freshly set up wine, more like a fresh must really), but it's not alcoholic tasting (i don't like alcohol).
L thinks it's too sour. the regular waterkefir is sweeter than the ginger root kefir. i like them both.
i think both cultures grew a little bit already!
so if someone is interested in getting a starterculture let me know!
my lunch: kelp salad with tahini and kimchi (this dish doesn't require any salt ;)

a while ago i purchased this frozen kelp at the korean supermarket.

it says kelp with salt, so i was prepared for well, salty kelp. it really did contain very much salt. all the white stuff in the pic is not freezer burn, it's SALT!

so i drained all the salt. it is natural sea salt and we can use it as a tablesalt.

is raw food more expensive?

last night i prepared this. it's a mixture of baby corn, avocado and some pecans and cashews with a few spices and water. mhm... i think raw corn is not my favorite dish :(


this one was very yummy: kimchi (homemade from L's friend K, grrreat), spinach and some tahini (sesame paste)


goji berries from the asian market. small bag (i think it was 100gr) around 2 euros


and the big bag (500 gr) for 6 euros. a total steal!


i got these fresh, unroasted pistachio at an iranian supermarket, 400gr for 7 euros. (this might not seem cheap at first. but really: it is! pistachios are expensive here and this bag will last us months and months)

i'm often asked if it's super expensive to eat raw. i think it's not really.

with some things you just need to know where to buy them. it does make sense to do some price comparisons and to watch out which fruit or vegetable is on sale. (e.g. the price of a mango can vary as much as 49 cents - 3,99 euros, depending on WHERE and when you buy it.)

if i bought goji berries at the health store i couldn't afford to eat them every day. (it's not that i think that they taste so superb, but they have so many benefits: they are a complete protein source, contain 19 different amino acids, all 8 essential amino acids, 22 trace minerals (zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium, phosphorus and others), antioxidants, vitamin b1, b2, b6 and e. i eat them together with barberries which contain vitmin c. saves me the vitamin pills i used to consume.

there are so many things that i quit in jan 2010, e.g. coffee, energy bars (i used to eat them as a breakfast on my way to the gym almost every day), diet sodas, all kinds of stuff with artificial sweeteners (such as marmalade and jams), tofu products & all sorts of fake meat, soy milk & soy joghurts, margarine, cereal, all kinds of "streich" (vegan bread spreads) and my beloved "leicht & cross" (a sort of crispbread)

now i don't have to buy all these things anymore and i save a ton of money that i can put into healthy raw food!

if you think raw food is more expensive, let's do this quick experiment:

consider how much money an average person spends on these kinds of foods:

bread,baked goods in general, pasta, rice, noodles (and other kinds of processed starches)
= e.g. a sandwich, a donut, a pizza...

meat, fish, milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs (and other kinds of animal products)
= e.g. a hamburger, a steak, a milk coffee, scrambled eggs, sushi...

well, you get the idea.

now think about sweets & salty snacks.

convenience products, finished products and "ready made" meals. and all the sauces, ketchup and mayonnaises to accompany these foods.

then think about fast food and take away food... eating out is expensive!

and beverages like sodas & diet sodas, wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages are not cheap either.
i'm not judging, absolutely not!! this is just a financial comparison!!

i think i am spending a bit more on groceries right now because i like to try new stuff and explore different fruits & veggies from around the world. but my diet now is already a lot more settled than it was in january.

apart from raw gourmet dishes that take a longer time to prepare i do also really enjoy simple meals. i often eat some cut up avocado and tomatoes. or an apple :)
i think in the long run it's not more or less expensive than any other diet. anybody (given financial means are at hand!) can choose to eat or to buy more or less expensive food.

i listened to a podcast with david wolfe recently. i like him, he's very charismatic and has a lot to say. asked about wheather his raw diet isn't very expensive he said something along the lines of "well, you can pay for your health now or you can pay later"