May 23, 2013

Black Bean Salad with Southwestern Ranch Style Dressing

Everyday over the breakfast table, my son asks me what I am going to have for lunch. Usually when I say it is some kind of salad he just says 'cool' :) But this one a got a ''wooooww' and he also requested if I can make it for dinner instead of lunch, so that he can have it too. I had to agree and he says that it is his favorite salad now :)

Southwestern Ranch Style Dressing:

  • Raw cashew nuts - 2 Tbs - soaked for couple of hours
  • Raw Almonds - 2 Tbs- soaked for couple of hours
  • Mexican red chilly -1
  • Lemon juice - 1/4 cup
  • Garlic - 1 clove
  • Raisins - 1 heaping Tbs.
  • Dried oregano - 1 tsp.
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Black mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp.
  • Filtered water - 1/2 - 1 cup (adjust based on the required consistency)
  • Yellow pepper - 1/2 cup chopped 
  • Celery - 1/4 cup chopped - optional

  • Add everything except the chopped veggies and oregano to a blender jar. Puree till nice and creamy. 
  • Add chopped veggies and pulse on low speed till chunky. At the end add oregano and run for a few seconds on low speed. 
  • Transfer to glass container and let it stand for 15 - 30 minutes before you serve.
  • This is about 4 servings.

Black Bean salad:

  • Black bean - 1 cup - soaked for 12 hours, cooked and cooled
  • Purple cabbage - 1/2 cup
  • Onion - 1 chopped and tossed with lemon juice
  • Red Pepper - 1 - chopped
  • Yellow pepper - 1 chopped
  • Spinach - 1 cup chopped
  • Cilantro -  1/2 cup chopped
  • Avocado - 1 chopped
  • Pumpkin seeds - a handful

  • Toss everything together. Serve with dressing on the side.

May 21, 2013

Black Rice Mini-Cake-Bites (Vegan Gluten Free)

You can say this recipe was made by accident. I was actually planning to make black rice orange cookies, but when I came back from my weekend shopping, I realized that I did not buy oranges. I had my black rice already soaking for a few hours. So I had to find something else to add the flavor to the cookies instead of orange. I wanted to give cinnamon and cocoa a try with black rice and they did compliment each other quite well. Also, instead of powdering and mixing the cookie dough, I decided to grind everything. Once I was done with the grinding and mixing, I wanted to give it a nice and cute shape. So instead of making drop cookies, I poured the batter into mini cupcake tins and baked them a little longer. Result was a cute looking, sweet cake bites :-)

  1. Black rice - 1/2 cup - Soaked for 4-6 hours
  2. Organic coconut palm sugar - 1/4 cup
  3. Organic raw Honey - 2 Tbs (optional - or add 1-2 dates instead) 
  4. Filtered water - 1/2 cup
  5. Sea salt - 1/4 tsp
  6. Organic virgin Coconut oil - 1/4 cup
  7. Organic dried shredded coconut - Coconut - 1/4 cup
  8. Cinnamon - 1 tsp.
  9. Organic cocoa powder - 1 Tbs.
  10. Baking soda - 1/2 tsp.

  • Grind ingredients 1-5 into a fine batter. 
  • Towards end of grinding, add the remaining ingredients - coconut oil, shredded coconut, baking soda and cinnamon to the batter and mix well. 
  • Keep aside for 10-15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 370 degrees. Grease mini cupcake tins with coconut oil. 
  • Fill a tablespoon each of the batter into mini cupcake tins. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or till nice and firm. Let them cool completely over wire racks. Enjoy them while they last !!

May 15, 2013

Baked Spinach Falafel & Cashew-Cucumber Sauce

If you decide that you want to start eating heart healthy, plant-based food, but would still want to eat to your heart's content, then Mediterranean cuisine would be an ideal choice :-) Mediterranean cuisine uses a lot of plant based ingredients: veggies, herbs, nuts and legumes. It is flavorful with the use of garlic, ginger, onion, extra virgin olive oil, etc. Another plus I have found is that it is very flexible and  one can create one's own version of Mediterranean salads, sauces and other dishes. 

Now for the falafel recipe; this is a very quick and simple recipe from me as usual, with very minimal ingredients and instructions. The cashew-cucumber sauce is a plant based version of the Tzatziki sauce. Of course like any other plant-based, home-made, or made-from-scratch recipe, you require some planning (to soak the chickpeas for falafel and cashews for the sauce). 

On the topic of planning, my cooking has always been based on some amount of planning. To others it might seem like I cook really fast, but I achieve that with some mental planning of tasks and also some preparation of ingredients like soaking, sprouting etc. Now that I am reading more about cooking/eating healthy, I am realizing that there is a lot of value in soaking and sprouting grains, nuts and legumes. In simple terms soaking makes the dry grains/nuts/legumes lively or active again. Sprouting is even better, in fact that is the best way because it is proven to increase enzyme activity and increase nutrient levels. 

Baked Spinach Falafel:
  • Chickpeas - 1 cup - soaked overnight (Even better if you can sprout the chickpeas *) 
  • Spinach - 1 cup
  • Green chilly - 2-3
  • Garlic -2 cloves
  • Fresh Ginger - 1 inch
  • Sea Salt - as per taste
  • Chia seeds -2 Tbs 
  • Cook soaked and drained chickpeas with enough water to cover. I just cook till chickpeas are half done because I don't want to overcook while making the falafel. Let them cool down.
  • Grind half cooked chickpeas along with above ingredients to a coarse mixture without adding water. (I used my blender, stopping and scrapping sides every few seconds, but you could very well use a food processor)
  • Grind chia seeds and mix with 4 Tbs water and set aside for 5 mins. This is the binder for your falafel. (use your coffee grinder or spice grinder to grind chia seeds - you could also use flax seeds instead of chia seeds)
  • Mix the ground chickpea mixture and chia seed paste well.
  • Divide into lemon sized balls and lay on a baking sheet and give them a press to make them evenly thick patties.
  • Bake in 350 deg for 10 minutes, flip and bake for 10 more minutes.

Cashew-cucumber sauce:

  • Raw cashews - 1/2 cup - soaked for couple of hours
  • English cucumber - 1/3
  • Sea salt -  as per taste
  • Dried parsley- 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon juice 1-2 Tbs
  • Add everything to a blender and puree till nice and creamy. 

* Sprouting Chickpeas:
  • Soak chickpeas for 8-10 hours.
  • Drain and keep them in a jar covered with a clean cloth away from direct sunlight.
  • Rinse and drain after 5-6 hours and continue to keep covered.
  • Repeat rinsing/draining once every 5-6 hours for 2-3 days.
  • 2nd day you should start seeing some sprouting, this time can vary based on room temperature, quality of chickpeas etc.

May 12, 2013

Raw Pad Thai Salad

Yes, I am back with another raw entrée :) In fact, this week we increased our raw food intake significantly and it felt very good (for the body and the mind). To the uninitiated, raw food might mean just cutting fruits and vegetables and eating it, and this might not sound appetizing. Raw does not mean that there is no cooking involved, in fact, it involves the most innovative cooking and the results are there to see and enjoy.

Among our favorite raw entrées are different variations of raw pasta. The taste of the pasta dish comes from the sauce and the spices, and not from the pasta itself. It becomes better if the sauce is made fresh, instead of the stale and salty store-bought sauces. Our raw pasta is made from vegetables, using a variety of yams and squashes. Take a piece of sweet potato or Japanese yam, and compare that with a piece of any pasta; one to one the veggie tastes better than the pasta as it is juicy and flavorful. So now when you have the same sauce added to a tasty veggie and a bland pasta, the one with the fresh veggie pasta becomes even more flavorful, while the one that has the regular pasta becomes better, and just that :).

One can get really innovative with the sauces, and the Pad-Thai sauce with coconut milk is one of our favorites. Here is the recipe..

Raw Noodles:

  • Organic yams - 2 (Japanese or garnet)
  • Lemon juice -2-3 Tbs.
  • EV Olive oil - 1-2 Tbs
  • Peel and julienne yams using a sharp knife or spiral slicer.
  • Toss with olive oil and lemon juice and keep aside for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • If you are not comfortable eating the yam raw, steam them after slicing them.
Raw Pad Thai Sauce:
  • Raw pumpkin seeds - 2 Tbs.
  • Organic raw sunflower seeds - 2 Tbs.
  • Organic raw peanuts - 1/4 cup
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Fresh ginger root - 1 inch piece
  • Red chilly - 1-2
  • Tamarind - 1 tsp (adjust according to kind of tamarind)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Sea  salt -   1/2 tsp
  • Organic coconut palm sugar - 1/2 tsp.
  • Home made coconut milk - 3/4 cup *
  • Add everything except peanuts to blender jar and purée till you get a fine sauce. 
  • Adjust taste, and add a little filtered water if you want to adjust consistency. 
  • Add peanuts and continue on law speed till peanuts are just crushed.

Raw Pad Thai Salad:
  • Raw noodles (see above)
  • Raw pad Thai sauce (see above)
  • Purple Bok choy - 1 head **
  • Organic red/yellow peppers -2
  • Red onion - 1/2
  • Mung bean sprouts - 1 1/2 cups 
  • Extra raw peanuts and raw sesame seeds to top.
  • Julienne peppers and red onions.
  • Take out few outer leafs from the Bok choy and keep aside. Thinly slice the rest of the Bok choy.
  • Toss the noodles and suce together. Mix the sliced veggies. Serve topped with peanuts and sesame on the Bok choy leaves that you kept aside.
  • We even had some pad Thai rolled up in Bok choy leaves.

To make homemade coconut milk:
  • Dry or fresh coconut meat 1/2 cup
  • Filtered water - 3/4 cup.
  • Puree well in a high speed blender and pass thru a cheesecloth or any clean kitchen towel and squeeze well.
**Purple Boy Choy:
  •  I am trying Purple Boy choy for the first time from Spot Hill Farm near my son's school. You could substitute any leaf of choice.

May 9, 2013

Raw Buckwheat Breakfast Pudding (GlutenFree)

When I write about buckwheat, I have to make clear the fact that buckwheat is not a type of wheat. It is not even a type of grain. It is a grain-like seed, and can be consumed by people with gluten intolerance. Buckwheat can be bought in many forms such as whole buckwheat, buckwheat groats, buckwheat flour, etc.

I usually buy whole buckwheat, which I sprout and use in salads, or buckwheat groats, which I grind and use in my raw energy bars. This time however, I planned to soak them overnight and make a breakfast pudding/porridge. I actually thought I was being innovative, but there is Google to put everything in perspective :-) Looks like buckwheat porridge and pudding are eaten in many parts of the world in different forms. I saw some recipes where people tried raw versions too. So I decided to go ahead with my plan.

I have to admit, if you are new to raw eating, this might be hard for you and you will find it chewy and grainy. Eventually, you will start enjoying these textures. A great advantage of eating raw food over cooked food is that you will feel hungry less often :-) We have been noticing this over the past couple of weeks in particular, as we have increased our raw food intake. I guess the reason might be that raw food digests slowly and releases more energy, in comparison to cooked food. I guess this is a choice that each person (in fact each family) should make based on the knowledge and awareness that they have.


  • Organic buckwheat groats- 1 cup
  • Organic goji berries - 1/4 cup
  • Organic raisins - 1/4 cup 
  • Organic chia seeds - 2 Tbs.
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1 cup *
  • Raw honey - 1-2 Tbs.
  • Banana/Strawberries - for topping

Buckwheat pudding:

  • Soak buckwheat overnight with about 11/2 cups of filtered water.
  • Method one: Add coconut milk, goji berries, raisins & chia seeds to drained buckwheat. Keep this aside for about 30 minutes to an hour. This is to soften the goji berries and raisins and also for chia seeds to soak up on the liquid to make it into a pudding consistency. Serve topped with honey and sliced bananas and strawberries.
  • Method two: Add coconut milk, goji berries, raisins & chia seeds to a high speed blender and give a quick blend. Add it to drained buckwheat and mix well. Serve topped with honey and sliced bananas and strawberries.

To make homemade coconut milk:
Dry or fresh coconut meat 1/2 cup
Filtered water - 3/4 cup.
Puree well in a high speed blender and pass thru a cheesecloth or any clean kitchen towel and squeeze well.

May 8, 2013

Creamy Cucumber-Basil Salad Dressing

This is our newest favorite salad dressing and we have already made it a few times in the past couple of weeks. Cucumber and basil works so well together, avocado makes it nice'n'creamy and we need the heat from the green chillies. It is raw, vegan, oil/sugar free and can be used as a salad dressing or as a sauce for raw noodles.

Mini cucumbers - 2 ( or 1/3rd  of an English cucumber)
Avocado - 1/2
Basil - 15-20 leaves
Green Chillies - 2-3
Lemon juice - from 1 lemon
Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
Filtered water - 1/4 cup (optional if you want a thinner dressing)

Slice cucumber roughly and add to blender jar, along with green chillies, lemon juice, salt and water (if using). Blend in high speed until everything is pureed well. Mix in the avocado meat  and continue blending on low speed just till it is mixed well and looks creamy (takes only a few seconds). Now add basil and continue for a few more seconds on low speed till basil is just chopped and mixed well into the dressing.

May 2, 2013

Raw Yam-Noodles with Tomato-Basil Pesto

We have been into raw eating for about a year now, I would say 50% of what we eat is raw, and rest semi cooked to cooked. I have been thinking about trying a complete raw entree for quite a while. Quite a lot of raw food bloggers talk about raw noodles/pasta with yam, zucchini, carrots, etc. I was a little skeptical about how well raw yam noodles would taste, but as always my husband encouraged me to give it a try. So here's my first ever completely raw entrée, it tasted awesome. So just ordered my spiral slicer today and am waiting for the delivery. Be assured that i will be trying other such raw entrées more often now :)

For Noodles:
  • Garnet Yam - 1
  • EV Olive oil - 1 Tbsn.
  • Lemon - 2 Tbsn.
Tomato Basil Pesto
  • Tomato -1
  • Basil - 1 /2 cup
  • Spinach - 1/2 cup
  • Almonds - Handful
  • EV Olive oil - 1 Tbsn.
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Green Chilly  - 2-3
  • To make noodles - peel and slice the yam really thin - I just used a really sharp knife with some patience, but a spiral slicer would work the best. Toss with olive oil and lemon juice and keep aside for an hour or so if you have time. (If you are not comfortable eating the yam raw, steam them after slicing them).
  • To make pesto - blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender till nice and creamy.
  • Toss the noodles with the pesto and enjoy !!

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