Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

March 28, 2010

week 6- Surprises!

This week Jenny did all the work, and I got to just come over and taste everything and take pictures. Jenny made some amazing dishes. She picked two foods that are complete fakes- or perhaps I should say 'art imitating life'. Bacon and potato salad- so fun! So impossible to make raw! Or so one would think. Here's the 'bacon' (actually marinated eggplant) before it got dehydrated:

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and here it is after drying.

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It tasted a little bacon-ish, sort of a meat-ish jerky. No one is fooled, but I think it's quite ingenious that it has bacon-like 'marbling'. How did they figure out that eggplant would do that? Matthew Kenney and his friends are some serious food artists/scientists. And Jenny is a seriously good cook.

And here's the potato salad. It's not potato at all, but jicama, with an amazing dressing. Where do they come up with this stuff?

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I'm not naturally all that brave about trying foods that I'm not sure I'm going to like, so making and tasting all these foods that are new to me has really challenged me to be more adventurous. I'm really proud of myself for that. I was nervous about trying the jicama, but it was very mild and good, like potato salad, and the dressing was sufficiently creamy. Jicama is sweeter than potato and as crunchy as an apple, though, so I might try making it with smaller jicama pieces and let it sit awhile maybe and see if it softened a little. I think if it was just being itself instead of trying to be potato salad, I would like it more- or maybe just call it a cross between Waldorf salad and potato salad.

Potato Salad
(From Matthew Kenney's Everyday Raw)

2 c diced jicama
1/4 c diced yellow pepper
1/4 c diced celery
1 T minced fresh rosemary
2 T minced green olives
1/4 avocado, mashed
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh parsely sprigs, for garnish

Mix it all up, excpet for parsely, of course, which you artfully place on top at the end. First, mix it up with the dressing below, though.

Potato Salad Dressing

2 T tahini
1/4 t ground cumin
1 1/2 T lemon juice
2 T water
2 t fresh parsely
1/4 t nama shoyu
1/4 t agave
Pinch sea salt
Pinch chili powder

Blend it all up in the blender till it's smooth. It will be thick. It will be delicious.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2010

week 5 - pizza and strawberry banana smoothies

This week I wanted to go all out and make the most interesting looking thing in the book to see if I could do it. I wanted to take a big learning leap. So I decided to make raw pizza. The instructions take up a whole page because there are many parts to a pizza, raw or cooked. I'll just give you the gist of it all here.


From back to front, first there's the crust, very much like the cumin flatbread from earlier in the adventure, but with oregano instead of cumin. Then there's the ricotta cheese that's made of macadamia nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, etc. The pizza sauce is made dark and cooked-like by the addition of sun-dried tomoatoes. Then there's spinach tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, and tomato slices, tossed with the same ingredients as the spinach, but then dehydrated for a couple hours. Each part of the pizza was pretty easy to make, nor did it take very long; it just took some coordination to time everything to finish at the same time, what with soaking and dehydration taking hours and days to complete.

Here it is, all assembled:


I learned a whole lot from making this. Each part taught me something. Making the crust taught me that a thicker flatbread is going to take a lot longer to dehydrate, and that it tastes much better crispy than soggy, so best to leave it in until it's done and not get impatient like I did. The macadamia 'ricotta' taught me that cheese is a very salty sort of thing- I would probably put less salt in next time. Also, I think I'm a little sensitive to macadamias; even soaked they made my throat swell up a little. There are other raw cheese recipes made with different nuts for me to try soometime though. The tomato sauce taught me that if I don't like the main ingredient in a dish, I'm probably not going to like how the whole thing tastes. In this case- I'm not fond of sun-dried tomatoes (they're too sweet, like a tomato-y raisin) so I didn't like the sauce very much. The tossed spinach taught me that that is an excellent way to prepare spinach for any reason, and ditto with the tomatoes. I want to toss and dehydrate all my tomatoes, every day. Thank you. I couldn't stop eating them! I just kept eating them off the top of the pizza over and over. Yum! They balanced the saltier, more intense flavors of the sauce, cheese, and crust very well. To balance it just right for my salt-sensitive palate, though, I would have had to eat a whole bowl of the tomatoes, with just a taste of the other pizza parts scattered on top. Hmm...pizza salad...not a bad idea.

I figured out that while the fast is on, I don't want anything salty or dry. My body is begging for juicy foods with all the water left in them. So perhaps pizza was not the smartest thing to pick, but it sure was a lot of fun to make!

The other food I tried was strawberry-banana smoothies. They were heavenly!! The ingredients are simple: frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, and almond milk. Done. I just made a batch of almond milk, added the fruit and blended it up. The kids loved it! I made some with just the bananas and almond milk and added a little cinnamon (good thinking Jenny!) and those were very popular with the kids too, especially Ava. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the smoothies. Fasting is not so good for the afternoon mental functioning.

Executive summary: tried a complex recipe- learned a lot but found the flavors fiddly and difficult to get right, tried a simple recipe- everybody was happy but I didn't learn anything new. A very satisfying week in all.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2010

raw food and fasting

One little chard plant that survived the winter. Picture taken by Maya.

One of the reasons I became interested in experimenting with raw food was to get me in shape to participate in the Baha'i Fast. I've had a hard time fasting since I started again after I was all done having babies and nursing. Last year, I got sick after the first few days, and I really wanted to be healthy enough and have the stamina to do it this year. The fast was such a special time for me pre-babies and it taught me all I know about obedience and submission to God. The fact that I still have a long way to grow in these virtues really motivates me to get my body ready for it, so I can keep working on those and whatever other virtues I feel I need to grow in this year.

Two aspects of the raw food movement have really helped me handle the fast better this year than last. The first one is mental. There's such a lot of knowledge out there, talked about ad nauseum by raw foodists, about how the body digests raw vs. cooked food and especially how to get the most nutrients out of foods and choosing the most nutrient-rich foods out there. Basically, it's about optimizing the eating experience for efficiency, while keeping and even enhancing taste. The effect this had on me was really liberating because I didn't feel like I had to worry so much about trying to get all the nutrients I need every day from the guidance of the USDA food pyramid. Trying to follow that guidance always left me feeling like nothing I did was good enough- I could never succeed in having a healthy, balanced diet- it was just too hard, partly because I'm allergic to half the foods on that thing. But I got the feeling from both how the food science was pursued and also the focus on simplicity in the raw food movement that if I ate certain simple raw foods, I could get all the nutrition I needed without having to even encounter my allergens, in practically any recipe. It gave me an attitude of suffiency instead of lack. My efforts are enough, I am enough, and if I eat fresh and simple and follow some basic science of nutrition, I will get enough good food to not have to worry about food all the time. I can move forward and focus my attention on the life I want to live! That attitude has been a God-send for me during this fast. I don't feel deprived by not eating food all day because I know that the food I eat before the sun rises will keep me going and healthy all day. Even if I feel hungry, I know, deeply, that I am nourished.

So the other aspect that's helped me through the fast is the raw food itself. Is it a placebo effect where I've decided that I'm getting enough of the right things to eat to keep my spirits up or is it really what I'm eating that's making the difference? I have no idea, but it sure is working. And the food that's helping the most is the smoothie I have for breakfast every day. First of all, it's just easier to digest liquids than solids because your body has to do less work. Because it's so easy on the system, I can drink a smoothie even if I'm really sleepy or even sleep deprived, as I often am during the fast. Second, I put enough protein in them that I feel like it's a substantial food, not just a fruit drink. I've posted my smoothie recipe already and there are infinite varieties out there, but I have learned a few things that are especially important to include for my particular body. I gotta have seeds for protein- I like sesame, hemp, flax, and pumpkin so far. There's gotta be coconut oil to make it smooth and rich. Just a tablespoon or so really makes it a meal, and that stuff is just so darn good for you! It's gotta have a couple servings of fruit, especially a banana, again for smoothness and also sweetness. And it's gotta have green superfood powder so I can get all those minerals and great proteins from algae and seaweed and grasses. Also, I really love goji berries, and always put just a few for their taste, although I've heard they are a nutritional powerhouse too. Those are the highlights. Read anything by David Wolfe if you want to know which foods do what for you and why. He's a fun teacher.

Just though I'd share my experience. I still eat plenty of cooked food for dinner, just so you know. I haven't eliminated many foods so far, just added on.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2010

week 4- almond milk and Thai salad

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Jenny enjoying her almond milk

Hello and welcome to week four of experimenting with raw food recipes. Above, you can see Jenny tasting the almond milk (yum) which was really easy to make (yeah!).

I just soaked a cup of raw almonds overnight, then rinsed and drained them and threw them in the blender, along with:

4 c water
2 T coconut oil
1/4 c agave
1 t vanilla
a pinch sea salt

and mixed them up in the blender for a few minutes and strained it through a strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth. That's it! Simple and good. Matthew Kenney's recipe above also calls for 1 t lecithin, but I don't know how to get ahold of non-soy lecithin, and honestly, we didn't miss it.

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And the almond mash that's been strained out is quite good mixed with a little with a little honey and chocolate sauce, according to Billy.

The other lovely food that we made (well, Jenny made, I watched) was Thai salad with creamy thai dressing. It's an exotic and beautiful salad. Billy and Jenny really liked it. It wasn't quite to my taste, but I find my tongue a little sensitive during the fast. It was really fun to make, though. And the point of it is to be a salad that's a whole meal, which I heartily approve of. Usually I make mine mild and tame compared to this lovely thing. Here's Jenny showing us how to take the top off of a young coconut (also called a water coconut).

Here's the lovely Thai salad. I was really excited that we got to put the curried cashews on it that I had made a few weeks previous.

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2 handfuls mixed greens
1/2 c finely diced pineapple
1/2 c soaked, finely diced sun-dried tomatoes
1 avocado, sliced
sea salt
black pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 c thinly sliced young coconut meat
1/2 c chopped curried cashews
1/2 c creamy Thai dresing
cilantro leaves, for garnish

Layer greens, pineapple, tomatoes and avocado, add salt and pepper to taste. Add a layer of bell pepper, coconut, cashews, dressing and cilantro.

creamy Thai dressing
3/4 c sesame oil
1/2 c nama shoyu
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c lime juice
1 T maple syrup
4 Thai bird chiles or 3 t red chili flakes
1 t sea salt
1/4 c. chopped cashews

Blend it all in a blender till smooth. (All recipes are from Matthew Kenney's "Everyday Raw")

Jenny didn't care for the dressing. I think if we made it again it would have less sesame oil and I wouldn't put any shoyu-type thing in it, of course, since I'm allergic to soy. I imagine the lime and olive oil w/cashews and salt would make a good creamy dressing all on their own, in my bland little world.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2010

week 3 - flatbread!

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I'm trying to figure out how to make interesting dinners with raw foods. So I really wanted to try something breadlike to be a good building block and base for spreads or beans or whatever. I REALLY like cumin so I picked cumin flatbread from "Everyday Raw" and it was really easy. Yeah!

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Teresa like it too!

Here's how:

1 c flaxmeal
1 T dried basil
2 yeallow squash, roughly chopped
1 1/2 c walnuts, soaked 6-8 hours
4 t ground cumin
1/4 c olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 T nutritional yeast
2 T agave
1 1/2 t sea salt
Black pepper

Set flax meal aside and process the rest of ingredients in a food processor until it's smooth-ish (I used my blender cause I don't have every durn gadget...yet). Mix it up with the flax meal, spead out on Teflex sheets and dehydrate (if you don't have a dehydrator, you can spread on cookie sheets and put in an oven on the lowest setting with the oven door propped open- innefficient, but fine if you want to experiment). Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 6-8 hours. Cut up and transfer to dehydrator screens, dehydrate for 24 hours. I stored mine in the freezer and they stayed crisp and deeply flavorful.

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Here's the flatbread after I've cut it up and spread it out to finish dehydrating.

The great news (and no bad news follows) is that they are delicious! Like a cracker but SO full of onion-cumin flaor. Mmmmm....here's how I ate them last night...topped with black beans flavored with onions and cumin too and sweet little tomatoes. SO GOOD! Kale salad and homemade sprouts on the side were perfect complements. Eating this after a long day of fasting (it's the Baha'i fast now- where we don't eat or drink while the sun is up so our lives can come closer to being ruled by the spiritual intead of the physical) felt deeply nourishing.

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Posted by Bahiyyih at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2010

Georgia's in NYC

Have I already gone on about how cool it is that Georgia gets to go to New York City with her school to participate in Montessori Model United Nations? Well that was this week. She went off with her 'western business attire', her speech about climate change in Burkina Faso, the jitters, and lots of loving school mates, parents and teachers. Here are some of them at the airport, all excited and nervous:

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I miss her very much but she has been reported as having a very good time at the Statue of Liberty, etc. so I'm not too nervous anymore myself. I can't wait to hear how giving her speech in front of all those people and discussing environmental issues in 'committee' and going to see "Memphis" on broadway and and all the New York trip went!

Posted by Bahiyyih at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)