Black Bean Soup

I miss beans; they’re not on the Fat Flush Plan so it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten any. I made *Black Bean Soup for dinner last night and I didn’t plan on eating any but it smelled too yummy for me to resist. It just seemed silly not to eat something that I know is healthy. While I’m still trying to lose weight I have been following the plan more strictly, but my long term goals are to be really healthy, as healthy as I can be. I think that this diet plan is the basis for a very healthy way to eat. By eliminating sugar, dairy, most wheat and anything artificial, I believe that’s the healthiest I can be. I know that sometimes I will eat some of those items but it won’t be a part of my regular daily choices.

Again here is a summary of the things to avoid on the 2 week Fat Flush Plan (the lifelong plan does have a few additions)

No herbs or spices except for those fat flushing herbs and spices outlined in The Fat Flush Plan
No margarine
No alcohol
No sugar
No oils or fats except flaxseed oil
No grains, bread, cereal or starchy vegetables such as beans, potatoes, corn, parsnips, carrots, peas, pumpkin, or acorn or butternut squash
No dairy products

As I was scanning through the blogs that I follow I came across an article about spices and how they can make foods even healthier and counteract some of the negative impacts that foods may cause. The interesting thing was that the spices they recommend using are the same spices that are recommended on the Fat Flush Plan. Read more at Nutrition Talk, and here’s a link to the blog I wrote about the seasoning recommended on the diet.

And here’s my random thought for the day, should kids be given more freedom to play out in their communities without adults hovering over them constantly? Read some other ideas about this at Free Range Kids and in an article titled, “How children lost the right to roam in for generations.”

Here’s what I ate yesterday:

Hot lemon toddy (hot water with ½ lemon juiced and a dash of ginger & cinnamon)

Breakfast (9:40): Fruit smoothie (1 cup frozen strawberries/ blueberries, 8oz cran/water, 1 scoop whey protein powder vanilla, 1 Tbls ground flax, 1 Tbls chia seeds, frozen chunk of kale, 1 Tbls cacao) CLA & GLA supplement

Lunch (12:30): Big salad topped with my fresh salsa, cucumbers and a dressing (made with flax oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard & dill) plus a side of smoked salmon & a hardboiled egg, CLA supplement

Walked with friends for about 45 min

Snack (4:30): small cup of Black Bean Soup and a couple homemade candied walnuts (sweetened with just a tiny bit of maple syrup) CLA & GLA supplement

Walked for about an hour during Thomas’ soccer practice

Dinner (8:00): Black Bean Soup and pineapple, CLA & GLA supplement

*I’m drinking 64oz of cran/ water throughout the day until the pitcher is empty in the evening.

This morning’s weigh in: I lost 1.5 pounds, total weight loss 11 pounds

*Recipe for Black Bean Soup (I loosely followed the recipe in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon)

2 chopped & sautéed onions (in olive oil)

About 5-6 cups of cooked black beans (I had cooked them 10 min. in the pressure cooker instead of soaking)

About 2 cups homemade leftover beef stock

4 cloves of garlic

1 teas cumin

1 teas dried oregano

1 quart of our canned tomatoes (from last year’s garden)

1 pkg of our dried tomatoes (from last year’s garden)

1 pkg of our frozen sweet peppers (from last year’s garden)

I also added some of the fat flushing herbs: cinnamon and turmeric

Plus sea salt when the beans were all done cooking

I just dumped everything in the crock pot and let it cook for several hours on low

***oops it just occurred to me last night that I left off the final step for this soup; I scooped out about 1/3 of the soup and blended it in the blender, then poured it back in to make the soup nice and thick.

What I ate this week in my raw quest

Well I’ll start right off admitting I did not stay 100% raw this week. I’ve found that staying raw all through the day is no problem but when dinner rolls around it is very hard for me to resist some of the foods I cook for the rest of the family. I’ve also done fine when I’ve been eating at my parents or in laws houses I can just bring along something to eat and its not a problem but when I’ve gone out to restaurants again it’s hard to stick with just a salad. I don’t want this to be like a diet where I feel guilty for “cheating” so I let myself enjoy those meals that aren’t raw knowing that the majority of my food is raw and that is so much healthier than how I’ve been eating in the past. So besides my son who likes to point out that I’ll be going to hell anytime I eat something that’s not raw I feel ok. I think that since I’ve been a non-practicing Catholic for many years and the 100% raw goal for lent was more symbolic than a declaration of my return to Catholicism my soul is safe.

On to the recipes, I’ve found that I really prefer simpler foods, like this raw slaw, which I love:

Raw coleslaw

½ head cabbage, finely sliced (with food processor)
3 carrot, peeled and finely shredded (with food processor)
½ yellow pepper, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
1-2 cup bean sprouts (I used home-sprouted Mung beans)

Dressing (blended in food processor)

4 garlic cloves, minced
7 T extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil
3 T liquid aminos
2 T raw apple cider vinegar
1 T raw agave nectar
Grated fresh ginger

In a large bowl, toss the vegetables.

Blend the garlic, olive oil, liquid aminos, vinegar, agave nectar and ginger then pour over the veggies. Toss well and serve. (Let sit for at least an hour before serving.)

The original recipe can be found at the urban vegan

This next recipe turned out pretty good, it does taste kinda like an Alfredo sauce but I’ve decided that I’m not really crazy about sauces over squash noodles. I even bought the fancy spiralizing cutter but I’m just not that impressed with it. It seems to turn the squash into mush more than noodles. I need to try it with some other types of squash maybe. The original recipe came from Alive in 5, Raw Gourmet Meals in 5 minutes by Angela Elliott (of course I made some changes.)

Alfredo Sauce
1 cup nut pulp (I keep trying to find ways to use this up, I can’t wait to get a dehydrator)
1 tea salt
2 cloves garlic
¼ tea ground nutmeg
¼ tea ground basil or oregano
2 Tbls nutritional yeast

Blend in vita mix, adding enough water to blend smoothly (approx 1 cup) can use warm water and let blend for a minute or two to heat sauce up but not too hot.

Sprinkle with parsley and salt & pepper to taste
Serve over zucchini or squash noodles or eat with veggies.

I also tried Zucchini Linguine with Basil Pesto, it was just OK. I have a ton of pesto starter in the freezer from last year’s garden (we chopped up basil and mixed it with olive oil and garlic then froze it in ½ cup lumps.) Unfortunately, I’ve found that I’m really not crazy for pesto so this wasn’t my favorite dish.

And lastly for dessert I plan on making these Butter Ball Cookies today. I made them with some major alterations and they were just ok so I thought I would try the original recipe and see if they turned out better.

(Since I often am the only one in my house that will eat my experiments I have learned to make the recipes much smaller just in case they turn out to be duds and also so I don’t eat too much if they’re really good)

My version:
1 cup nuts (1/2 walnut, ½ almonds)
2 Tbls flax meal
1 Tbls dried coconut
2 Tbls cacao powder
5 figs (pitted)

Blend everything in food processor then add:
½ cup oats (pulsed in at the end)
2 Tbls water (to help it stick together)
Rolled into balls with coconut

My favorite snack:

an apple or banana dipped in raw organic almond butter with cacao nibs and goji berries. Yumm! I had been eating this with just apples but the other day I tried it with a banana and it was so yummy. For some reason I had never eaten bananas and nut butters together before, man I’ve been missing out! The only downside to this snack is how expensive raw organic almond butter is, $20 for 16oz, ouch! If anyone has any suggestions on a less expensive place to buy it I’d appreciate it.


Here are the raw “cookbooks” I’ve been reading this week

Alive in 5, Raw Gourmet Meals in 5 minutes by Angela Elliott

Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney (I love this book because almost every recipe has great pictures to go with. You can find it pretty cheap at half.com)

Raw Food Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis (this book is awesome and on my list to buy)

The Raw Food Gourmet by Gabrielle Chavez

Living in the Raw Desserts by Rose Lee Calabro

Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich (I’m dying to make Kimchee)

I miss my lattes

I grew up in Seattle the home of Starbucks and now I live in Grandview where there are at least 8 coffee shops within a mile of my house and we can smell Stauf’s roasting their coffee beans on a warm day. For the past several years I had been going to Caribou Coffee approximately 2-5 times a weeks for a white chocolate- mint latte or one of the several other varieties that sounded good on that visit. My mom, aunt and I would meet every Sunday morning for coffee and time to visit. If I had to go do something I didn’t particularly want to I would reward myself by getting a coffee. On the days I went to work I would get a coffee. Dan and I often walked to Caribou for morning coffees and some time alone. While I was studying for my State Boards I would go to Caribou every morning for a few hours to study and visit with my friend Paulita who was also at Caribou writing her novel. We may have spent more time visiting than working but I passed my boards and she finished her novel so we must have got some work done along the way.

I always had lots of reasons why I deserved to stop and buy a $4.00 coffee drink. On the days when I didn’t go to Caribou I would make my own latte’s at home but they were never as good. Then I broke my espresso machine so that cut out the home lattes. About that same time I decided it was ridiculous to spend that much money on coffee drinks so I limited myself to 1 latte a week. When the New Year rolled around and I made my resolution to only eat raw foods until noon that eliminated any morning latte’s, then I decided to give up sugar and that wiped out the rest. So I have not had a latte since at least Feb. 7 when I gave up sugar but I don’t think I’ve had any since the beginning of the year. I’ve even walked with Dan to Caribou so he could get a coffee and I still resisted. I really miss my latte’s but I have found a replacement that I will have occasionally and while it doesn’t have the smell of coffee that I really love it does taste pretty darn good.

RAW hot cocoa:

Fill a coffee mug half way with hot water

Fill the rest of the way with raw almond milk

Put in a scoop of raw cacao (you can also add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, that surprisingly goes really well with the cacao, but don’t add too much)

Sweeten with a little raw agave nectar

This is really good and not as syrupy sweet as traditional hot chocolate.

While I was perusing the many raw cook books I’ve been getting from the library I saw a recipe for a Chai Latte and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. So I went to Whole Foods and bought some Tazo Organic Chai –spiced black tea- This is not the same as the premixed Chai latte that are already sweetened and processed, these are just tea bags.

Chai Latte

Brew a cup of the tea but again only fill your mug ½ way with hot water

After the tea was done steeping I filled the mug the rest of the way with raw almond milk

Sweeten with raw agave nectar

I nailed it, this tasted exactly like a Chai Latte from a coffee shop. It was then after my first sip that I remembered I really don’t like Chai. I like the idea of Chai, I like the smell of Chai I even like the first taste of Chai but after the first drink I really don’t like Chai. Bummer! At least I still have my hot cocoa.

This weeks RAW recipes

Well there have been some hits and misses this week. First off for the hits:

Raw Cacao Cookies

½ cup each walnuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts

¼ cup agave nectar

1 Tbls coconut butter

½ tsp vanilla

¼ cup cacao powder

¼ cup raw oats (optional, pulsed in at the end)

2 Tbls cacao nibs (pulsed in at the end)

Split the nuts in half and process them first. Half of them ground chunky (then set aside) and the other half ground fine. Pulse in the chunky nuts at the end along with the cacao nibs and oats. After mixing everything in a food processor, scoop into mounds (or roll into balls if you added oats) and freeze. This will make them stiffer and easier to eat, otherwise they are pretty gooey.

These are so good! They definitely take care of my sweet tooth when I want something decadent!



I’ve been trying to sprout different seeds and nuts. The mustard seed didn’t really work, the sunflower seeds worked fine but I can’t decide if the slightly pink coloring is mold or if they’re supposed to look like that. But the Mung beans worked great. I started with 1 cup of dry beans and they expanded and outgrew the mason jar.

Mung Bean Sprout Salad

Salad:

2 cup Mung bean sprouts
1 cup chopped sweet peppers (red and yellow)

1 cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup Fresh cilantro

Dressing:
2 Tbls Liquid Aminos
1 Tbls Olive Oil

1 Tbls hot sauce
1 Lime

Preparation:

Toss sprouts, peppers, carrot and cilantro in a bowl.

In a small dish whisk soy sauce, olive oil, hot sauce and juice of one lime.

Pour dressing over salad, place in fridge for and hour before eating to soak in flavors

This looked so pretty, it definitely could be taken to a potluck and appreciated by everyone. It is addictive, it is so fresh and crunchy, I could eat bowl after bowl. Dan really liked it also.

Raw Ranch Dip

This was a miss that tuned into a hit:

This recipe comes from The Complete Book of Raw Food by way of pepper paints:

1 1/2 cups raw cashews (I used macadamia nuts because that what I had)

Juice from 1 lemon or 2 1/2 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon onion flakes

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon basil

Blend the cashews, lemon juice, sea salt, onion and garlic powder with 1/2 cup water (more if you want it like a dressing) until smooth and creamy. Pour into a bowl.

Add the dill, Italian seasoning and basil leaf by hand. Store in fridge up to 2 weeks.

I tried to use only nut pulp (left over from making almond milk) but it was way too grainy. I hated to throw it all out so instead I took ½ cup of the nut pulp mixture that I made and added it to the recipe in place of ½ cup of raw cashews. Also I tried to use my food processor the first time and it just didn’t mix it as smooth and my blender. So the second batch was blended in the vita mix. It was so much better, Dan and I both loved it!

Simple Curry

This recipe was from: gone raw, sharing raw, vegan recipes and advice

Sauce

1 medium ripe tomato
2 T. raisins
1 T. sesame seeds
1/3 c. cilantro (I use stems)
juice from 1/2 a lime
1/2 t. tumeric
1/2 t. cumin
curry to taste
1/2 inch slice of ginger
1 clove garlic
2 green onions, sliced

Salt

Preparation:

Soak the seeds and raisins if you have time.

Throw it all in the blender with enough water to make it move. I added water before I started blending which was a mistake as it turned to runny, so I added a handful of almonds to thicken it up. Next time I’ll start blending first & only add water as needed.

Serve over chopped vegetables of choice (I julienned (very thin) a butternut squash with my mandolin (it was like angel hair pasta) and some cherry tomatoes. It would be good over shredded cauliflower also.


Toppings of choice (sunflower seeds, raisins, cilantro etc.) I used some of the Mung Bean Sprout Salad as a topping.

Yum, this was very good and spicy! Don’t use too much garlic, raw garlic is way stronger than cooked garlic!


And last and most definitely least was my battle with the coconut (I had some awesome pictures of Dan breaking it open but when I was downloading them off my memory card they were all mysteriously erased. )

I bought one of the brown coconuts that you see at the grocery store (mine was from Giant Eagle) I have since learned that there are actually 3 different types of coconuts and what I bought was the least desirable and most likely to be rancid. Dan split it apart & drained the liquid into a cup and got all the pulp out for me. I tried a bite and thought it was pretty gross but hoped that it would be better in a recipe (I don’t know why I thought that, boy was I wrong.) I made a chocolate mousse with about ½ of the pulp and the liquid. I blended it all together in the vita mix and it looked really good. I tried a bite and it was disgusting, very grainy and just gross. So I put it in the freezer hoping that once it was cold it would be better. Then I put away the rest of the coconut for later. The next day I thought I would make a coconut milk, so I blended the rest of the coconut with water until it turned white and creamy, then I strained it through my yogurt bag to remove any left over pulp. It looked really good and smelled fine, I put it in the fridge to chill. Later that day I was starving and thought a smoothie with fresh pineapple, coconut milk and some other goodies sounded great. I blended it all together took a drink and had this gross burning acid like taste in the back of my throat, kinda like when you throw up a little in your throat. So I dumped the smoothie and tasted a little of the coconut milk to see if it was the culprit. It was, so I dumped the milk and the frozen chocolate mousse. I’m assuming this was just a bad coconut; I’ll try one more time with one from Whole Foods. I noticed theirs are refrigerated and don’t have the brown skin, so I think they are younger coconuts.

As you can see I’ve added some variety this week. Once you get the hang of cooking this way the meals are really quick and easy to prepare. It just takes a little getting used to.

getting the hang of RAW “cooking”

Something about this transformation to raw cooking has been really tricky for me. I’m a pretty good cook, and I’m great at following recipes. 🙂 But really getting all the concepts behind raw cooking and just having it flow naturally has had me stumped. But this morning I had one little break through, so I’m hopeful.

First off the easy part: Almond Milk
soak 2 cups of almonds overnight
In the morning drain off the water, blend the almonds with 4 cups of fresh water, and 2-4 pitted dates. Blend for 1-2 minutes, it will turn white and creamy just like regular milk. You can do this with a variety of different nuts. Cashews make an especially creamy milk. I haven’t ever strained the milk before but I thought I would try it this time. So I poured it into a cheese bag that came with my yogurt maker and squeezed through all the almond milk. I ended up with a nice jug of milk.

I love this recylced glass jug, it came with egg nog in it this past winter. The almond milk filled the jug perfectly.

I saved the nut pulp for a future recipe.

Then I followed pepper paints suggestion for Museli. I found some Organic Oats (Raw fresh rolled) online. Oats were another raw thing that had me stumped. As far as I can figure steel cut oats are the least processed of the traditional oats you can find in a store but then I found these on line, “they are cold rolled in small batches using special equipment to retain nutrients and flavor.”

In a large glass container I dumped in my oats, organic dried cranberries (not sweetened,) organic raisins, chopped raw walnuts, raw sunflower seeds, scoop flax meal, smaller scoop of cinnamon and mixed it all together.

A scoop of that with some bananas and fresh blueberries with almond milk was so yummy. This is better if you let it sit with the almond milk so the oats soften up. I actually made a bowl for breakfast then decided I wasn’t very hungry so I put in the fridge until lunch and it was even better. I REALLY don’t like soggy cereal, but this doesn’t get soggy. I did have to add a little more almond milk since the oats had soaked it all up but it was really good and not soggy at all.

This is where my breakthrough came in to play. I still had the nut pulp in the fridge and I really didn’t know what I would use it for. I figured I could always use it in the date/nut balls if nothing else came up. But I kept seeing posts for a “cheesy” nacho dip to eat with veggies (or dehydrated crackers but i don’t have a dehydrator… yet) that had me intrigued.

The recipe I followed was from Kristen’s Raw blog.
(I put my alteration in parenthesis)

CHEEZY HEMP NACHO SAUCE

By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com

Yield approximately 1 1/2 cups

1/3 cup water

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 red bell pepper, seeded, rough chopped (approximately 1 cup)

1 cup hemp seeds (I didn’t have hemp seeds so I used my nut pulp, yeah!)

2 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (I only used 1Tbls, I wasn’t sure if I would like the taste)

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons tamari, wheat-free (I was out of Tamari so I used Bragg Liquid Aminos)

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. This can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.


It looks good, it tastes good and I made a successful substitution in the recipe. Yeah! It is pretty spicy, so if you don’t like spicy food adjust the seasoning. I’m thinking this would be yummy with some cut up avocados and sweet peppers!

Raw Ice Cream, yum!


Raw Ice Cream, that’s dairy free and sugar free, yum!

Chocolate Ice Cream
2 cups raw cashews (whole or pieces, unsoaked)
2 cups of water
1/4 cup Maple syrup
3/4 cup raw agave nectar
Or you can use dates instead of the maple syrup and agave nectar)

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 scoops of raw cacao powder


Directions:

Put the cashews, water, maple syrup, agave nectar, and vanilla extract in your high-speed blender.

Start blending on low until everything mixes, then turn up to high for about one minute. Make sure your mixture is really smooth.

Once complete, taste test. Add more sweetener or vanilla extract to taste.

I put my blender into the fridge until I was ready to pour it into the ice cream maker.

Turn on ice cream maker, slowly pour your mixture into the ice cream maker while it is spinning. Now just let it work for about 20 or 30 minutes.

Scrape out the mixture with your spatula into a freezer container.

And Voila yummy ice cream!

Thomas didn’t care for this, he thought it tasted like coffee (there wasn’t any coffee, so maybe it’s the nut milk?) It was very creamy and rich. I think next time I will use 1/2 cashews and 1/2 almonds, (I’ll soak them both for a few hours also) plus I’ll use 2 1/2 -3 cups of water instead of just 2. Also it was a bit too sweet, I used dates and Agave nectar. Next time I’ll leave out the Agave. If I have maple syrup I may try that (and reduce the amount of dates) especially if I go with a vanilla ice cream, I think it would add a lot to the flavor.

This is also good if you leave out the cacao and use fruit. Just dump the fruit into the blender and either blend it smooth or leave it a little chunky.

A lazy day at home

Besides driving Beth to school I didn’t have to go anywhere today. So Thomas and I had a lazy day at home. It’s finally getting warm out so I had he doors open airing out the house and changed the sheets on the bed. It was even warm enough to dry them outside!
Next we were off to do some cooking, or non-cooking as the case may be. I had to make some more date balls. Since I gave up sugar 3 weeks ago these have been my treat when I’m craving something sweet. My current recipe is 1C soaked raw almonds (ground up in the food processor) then I add a scoop of hemp protein powder, scoop of flax meal, couple scoops of raw sunflower seeds, some goji berries, unsweetened dried cranberries, 2 scoops raw cacao powder, a sprinkle of cayenne powder and a sprinkle of sea salt, all blended together. Then I add about 5-8 pitted dates and blend some more. I like to add about 1/4 C of raw cacao nibs at this point and just pulse them in so they stay chunky. Then I add a couple Tbls of water so it all sticks together and pulse again.

Then just squish them into balls, roll in coconut and store in the refrigerator. Yum!

Then Thomas sliced a whole lot of potatoes for tonights dinner, Potatoes Au Graten. I have this very fancy mandoline that i never use because it’s just to bulky for me. I like using a knife. But Thomas enjoys slicing with it so off he went.

Since we had such great results with last weeks art project we decided to try another one this week. I love the book The Usborne complete book of art ideas. (Thanks for the suggestion Pepper Paints.) We painted castles today following the instructions in the book. We still need to finish some of the detail work with a black sharpie. These pictures were so easy (and not messy at all) You just pick 3 colors of acrylic paint, squeeze a line along the bottom alternating the colors. Then use differnt widths of card board to smear the paint up the paper. After it dries go over it with some black paint that you smear again with cardboard.


Since the weather was so nice Thomas & I walked to the library to return some books and try to find something that he is willing to read. Pretty much the only books I can get him to read are Captain Underpants, the Weird School series and the Ugly Guides. Great literature at it’s best!

Poor Dan is home sick for the 3rd day. Both yesterday and today he got dressed and tried to go to work only to turn around and go back to bed. He did go to the Dr. today and he has pneumonia, so he’s back to bed for a few more days. Which means he has to miss Daniel’s 18th B-day party at my mom’s tomorrow. And our OSU tours on Friday. We’re scheduled for the admitted student tour and the engineering overview and tour.

Finally we made sugar-free, dairy free, chocolate ice cream, to enjoy while we watched American Idol. It was very yummy, but I’ll play with the recipe a bit for next time. Thomas thought it tasted too much like coffee (there wasn’t any coffee in it) I think he was tasting the cashew milk, but Beth and I liked it. I love days like this. I can’t wait for summer when almost all our days are home days!