Garden Zucchini with Raw Marinara

This last week has been a whirl-wind of activity. What I thought was going to be a vacation, turned out to be a full week of work – but it wasn’t the type of work I was expecting. I’d planned on giving myself an easy week where I could enjoy the summer heat, experience some new raw food and maybe, sip some great summer wine. But that was not fully in the cards.

I missed out on the wine, but didn’t miss out on the raw foods! Thinking back, I’m kind of glad I decided to go raw for a week during this hectic time. If I hadn’t, I would have eaten out every night and picked up the easiest, fastest food I could have gotten. As it turns out, the raw food that I got to enjoy really didn’t take all that long to prepare – both making and figuring out what to make. What topped the list was a Raw Marinara over zucchini that I’ve told a bunch of people about and they all want the recipe.

Well, here it is. I highly recommend it. It’s fast and stores well. I’m sure it could be great over something other than zucchini, but the garden’s productive this year and I’ve got lots of zucchini. So much that I’m giving it away like always. It makes me feel good to be able to share.

This dish turned out looking like this:

This was a full meal! The bowl in this picture is probably 2 quarts in size. It’s big enough for an epic salad. Both zucchini that you see in the picture below are in this bowl. If you make this much, you’ll probably find that you won’t be going back for seconds because you won’t be able to finish firsts! Not because it’s not full of flavor, but simply because you’re full. This stuff really hits-the-spot.

Before spelling it out, I’ve got to give credit to the source. I found this on Jenny Cornbleet’s Raw Food Made Easy site. I’m sure there’s a lot more there, but I just haven’t had the time to poke around and find out. If you find another keeper, please let me know.

Recipe as I made it:

  • 2 Large Yakama fresh meety tomatoes
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 carrot
  • Maybe 1 tbsp your best cold pressed olive oil
  • A dozen or so large fresh basil leaves
  • A swig garden fresh oregano (less than what I show)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Green part of one green onion
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of your favorite salt
  • & 1 large or 2 small zucchini

Start off by pealing and grating the zucchini. You don’t want any of the green (or as little of it as possible) in your meal. But the longer the slices, the more like spaghetti it will be. Grate and set aside on a few clean towels. Zucchini is really watery, so you’re going to let it drain just a little.

Now, back to the sauce, I used a blender. You could either use the same, or a food processor. I’m sure both would work just as well for this. If you use a food processor, cut up the carrot and garlic a bit more than what you’d do for a blender. You might even want to turn them first because they are so much harder than everything else. Once you’ve broken the carrot down just a little, add everything else – except the basil. In the blender, grind just enough to just get the mixture to turn. That might be ten seconds or so. Then, add the basil and incorporate. You should still see little green specs because you’ll only grid for another couple seconds.

It’s really that easy. If you blend too long, it will liquefy. If you leave it a little chunky, it will feel more like marinara.

Now, lay out your bed of zucchini in your favorite bowl (not a plate) and cover with a full serving of marinara. What I show in this picture should really feed two people (well, ok, add another zucchini). If you’re just making this for one, just save the extra for another meal. The marinara is just as good the second day!

Take note, the picture I show doesn’t show the cayenne pepper. The time I made it and took a picture, I was making it from memory and I left that little bit out. It was good, but the cayenne makes it great! Just a tip of a spoonful is all you need. Maybe as much volume as you’d use salt. A little goes a long way!

Can’t wait to make this again!

Make happy choices!

Raw Sunflower Red Hummus

This one tastes great and is just too easy to not share with the world. With just a little preparation, you can whip up some great tasting raw humus that will fill you up for lunch yet not make you feel like a nap is in order in just a few minutes. I like to call this my Sunflower Red Hummus.

The other day, I was pressed for time yet wanted this hummus. I’d already soaked the sunflower seeds and let them sprout overnight so they were ready. I looked at the clock and saw that I had fifteen minutes to prepare and cleanup before I had to run. Well, the total time was twenty minutes (including the quick cleanup) so I had to run really fast to make up that time!


  • 2 cups sprouted raw living sunflower seeds
  • 1 sweet red, yellow or orange bell pepper
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 carrot (or a few small garden carrots that you just dug and cleaned up!)
  • ½ a Myers lemon
  • ½ clove raw garlic
  • 2 tablespoons raw cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or a little less)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cyan pepper!

All the wet ingredients go in first. And, well, you probably already know this from the picture below, but you’re going to blend this in a high powered blender until it’s creamy and smooth. So, if you put the wet ingredients o the bottom, they bill break down quickly and create volume that will carry down the rest. You might need to help some of the seeds and be careful not to get the seasoning on your plunger (if you need to use one).

This is a pretty heavy mixture so you’ve got to have a heavy-duty blender in order to keep it from bogging down. But it will. It will also heat up pretty quickly so watch out for that. I usually start out just fast enough to get the fruit (veggies) to spin and then turn the blender up as high as it will go and still turn the contents of the blender. If you flip the machine all the way to high, it all just lifts up and, well, you’re no longer ‘blending’ at that point. 🙂

The little cup on the left is exactly 1 cup. I like to fill it ¾ the way and it’s just the right amount for lunch. The bigger container just happened to work with my time constraints for the other little containers needed washing!

Once prepared, it easily lasts for a few days in the fridge. You’ll see the top darken (oxidize), but the rest should stay just made fresh.

This one is so easy that it’s hard to get wrong. My only real advice is to go light on the garlic. The picture shows a whole clove. I cut it in half before adding it. Too much raw garlic tends to overpower the other subtle flavors that really make this hummus shine.

It’s been a long winter and just a couple days ago I started to notice the spring air. It blew in and within about 24 hours all the plants that had been waiting to bloom sprung into early spring pinks, yellows and greens. We’re well past the equinox, so it feels a month late. Whether it’s early or late, it’s still warmly welcomed!

Raw Chocolate Mousse

Since today is another snow day, I figured I would share one of my all time favorite recipes. I found this in the book Raw Food Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis. If you haven’t seen this book, here’s what it looks like so you can pick it up the next time you’re raw book shopping:

If you remember, a long time ago, I posted a picture of the Raw Food Real World Lasagne. It was amazing. If you want to take a trip back on memory lane, see my old father’s day dinner post!

But today is all about the chocolate mousse. If for no other reason, you’ll want to pick up the book just for this recipe!

Maybe it was the sex appeal that Sarma brings to the facing page that makes this just a pit more savory. I guess I also have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for fuzzy pink sweaters. But the pig tails?  Ah, no thanks.  J 

The hardest part about making this recipe is finding the Young Thai Coconuts. I’ve always got my eyes out for a sale, but that doesn’t seem to happen enough. This time, I found a few that looked good and healthy (See How to pick out a good coconut). The big surprise I had came when I opened them and found that there was lots of great coconut meat that I could make mousse with!  Thus, check out the picture in the measuring cup. I opened them earlier in the day, poured a little coconut water over them and wrapped them up so that it would be no problem when it came time to put it all together.

Notice the test-tube in the crease of the book. One change that I make in their recipe is that I use the scraping of one vanilla bean rather than the liquid vanilla extract. Yes, it’s more expensive, but you don’t get any chemical taste in the final spoon full.

And I love the fact that you just throw everything in the blender and whip it up!

The only thing you really have to look out for is getting coconut shell in the blender. Thus, when you remove the meat from the shell, look it over closely. I’ve missed some shell before and it totally ruins the emotional effect that this dessert lets you experience. You really don’t want to break up the bliss.

I’ve learned that a little goes a long way with this recipe.

I now pick out reasonably small containers to let it both set up in and serve in. These little ramekins work great.

I can’t wait for the next sale on Young Thai Coconuts just so I can make this dessert again!


Raw Chocolate Dipped Truffles

Today, winter officially arrived with a morning rain and afternoon snowstorm. It was just above freezing, so what fell came down in large flakes and quickly covered everything. Fortunately the cloud only took an hour to pass by so the snowpack came in around a half inch. It’s beautiful to look at, but you don’t want to venture out.

Thus, it’s a great day to make truffles! … and eat them too!

A few days ago I went hunting for a really easy raw truffle recipe that would only take a half hour or so from start to finish. I looked around a bit, but didn’t find anything that caught my eye until I visited Lisa’s Raw on $10 a Day (or less!) blog. If you haven’t noticed, that blog has been linked in here for nearly a year! I love her commitment to the blog and how well she puts together the artwork. It’s just fun to read and beautiful to look at.

Yet, anyway, if you scroll back a bit in her blog, you’ll find that on the 2nd, the menu included a dessert – Double Chocolate Truffles! When I saw what she posted, I immediately new that I’d found the truffles I’d been looking for.

Today, everything came together in such a fine way that I got to make this recipe my own. And yes, they are as good as they look – but I couldn’t settle for just eight, so I kind of doubled the recipe. I wanted to give away a few and cut down on the chocolate just a little (I’m virtually out now, … need to visit Raw Vegan Source again). Too much raw chocolate will keep you up all night. So I almost doubled everything that Lisa shared with the world (except the cacao). Here is my version!

Recipe – Raw Chocolate Dipped Truffles:

Truffle balls:

  • 1 cup soaked (dried) raw almonds
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup (8) medjool dates (pitted)
  • 3 tablespoons cacao powder
  • Scrapings of the inside of one vanilla bean
  • Pinch salt

Chocolate Dip:

  • 4 Tablespoons melted raw coconut oil
  • 4 Tablespoons raw agave
  • 4 Tablespoons Raw cacao powder

Soak a bit more than a cup of almonds for 4-6 hours before starting. Rinse and dry completely so as to not add any water to the mixture (cacao and water don’t mix).

To make the balls, add the almonds, raisins, salt and scrapings from the inside of the vanilla bean into the food processor and grind up. After you’ve worked it a bit, add the dates. You’ll need to play with it a bit in order to really get it broken down nicely. Once it’s nice and smooth, roll into small truffles and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. You just want to get them cold, not frozen. Meanwhile, it gives you time to cleanup and put together the dip.

For the dip, add all three ingredients (oil, agave and cacao powder) and quickly mix. It doesn’t take much, but make sure you don’t have lumpy cacao. That makes mixing it up a little harder to do.

After the balls have cooled and your chocolate dip is ready, roll the bottom of the cold truffle through the melted chocolate and place it on parchment paper. The coconut oil should quickly firm up. It might take a couple more minutes in the freezer, but they’ll look like this:

And as you can see from the first picture (way above), I thoroughly enjoyed that treat! The ball is mildly sweet and a soft nutty chew. You have to hunt for the vanilla and the chocolate flavor is tame allowing you to actually discern the raisins. The Chocolate glaze is powerfully dark and rich. It makes you want to suck on it just a bit before chewing through the rest of it.

This is truly a winter time treat!

Oh, I never like throwing out anything – especially when it comes to raw chocolate!

I just happened to have a few soaked almonds left over that I rolled through the bowl that I used for dipping the truffles and I wound up with … turtles!

These were amazing too! These were the first things to disappear. There is something about sweet chocolate on almonds that I just can’t pass up. Now, if I’d just used cacao butter rather than coconut, these would have firmed up at room temperature. But no worries for they disappeared within about five minutes!

These truffles really did mix up fast with no fuss. I’d highly recommend them if you’ve got a craving!

Make and experience joy – these truffles just might help!

Cranberry Grape Cheesecake (by Sweetly Raw)

A couple weeks ago when browsing the web I came across a recipe posted on Heather Pace’s website Sweetly Raw that caught my eye. She called it Cranberry Grape Cheesecake. Her beautiful pictures and recipe can be found here.

Did you look at her pictures?  Can you imagine making a cheesecake out of cranberries? 

Well, even though the thought of eating a hand full of cranberries makes my mouth pucker, I still felt attracted to the idea of creating and consuming this pink confection. Thus, yesterday (& two days ago) I put some time in to see if I could duplicate what she created and, more importantly, see if it was something that could be served on thanksgiving. Well….

It turned out! I was pretty shocked for I’m not the best chef and I almost always stray from the main recipe. I’d say that I replicated that pink color to the T.

Would you like a slice?

There are two key differences that I’d like to share with you – if you haven’t already noticed.

First off, look at the crust. What Heather put together has stuck together. Most of my pie crusts ‘perform’ this way (lol – Ha! That might come across like a comment from an armchair quarterback for I would definitely not call myself a Raw Food Chef and I’m just in it for the eating!). I would imagine that when she blanched her almonds they might have picked up some of the water. Even when I go and put what I think is the driest crust together water seeps down making it doughy rather than flaky.

Well, … I improvised a little here. One thing was that I did not blanch my almonds. Another is that I used ½ cup ground flax seed rather than oat groats. I don’t know if that really makes a difference, but look at my flakey crust! Well, ok, crumbly crust. But it reminded me of the old gram cracker crust that you would see on a standard cheesecake.  

The second one is that she had a bag of fresh concord grapes that she was working with (See her post from a few days earlier). I had simple red ones that I could find at the grocery store. I would have loved to have some deep blue fresh off the vine berries, but, such is life. I got what I got and, well, I’m pretty darn happy with it!

So now that it’s been cut, I’ve only got ½ the pie left. That might say something about how it tastes. It is surprisingly good! The crust carries a candy bar crunch with just a hint of vanilla. The body is firm and neutral. It doesn’t contain too much cranberry or nuts. It provides the full texture of cheesecake – just like what you’d expect from the dairy versions. And then there’s the topping. It’s tangy and sweet at the same time. Together the three textures mix together perfectly.

A couple hours after I got to enjoy a slice a good friend and her son stopped by on their way home.  She loved every bit (which doesn’t really say much for she would go out of her way to not hurt my feelings). Yet her eight year old son just says it like it is. When I offered him a small slice I got the classic “I’m going to get a candy-bar tasting slice of cheesecake” facial expression. Well, he took the first bite and I could read that he was undecided. He took a few more and figured out that it wasn’t like candy. At the half way point he laid the slice over and ate all the crust. Then he took a couple more bites of the body and didn’t know what to do with the topping. Normally, if he doesn’t like something he’ll take one bite and find something else to do. Today, he got through more than ¾’s the slice and didn’t have a bad word to say about it. When I asked how the crust was he said that it was really good.

I take that experience as a definite acceptance of this desert. I really don’t like things too sweet and this one turned mildly sweet.

Overall, I think I’ve found a new way to enjoy cranberries! I would like to send a warm (pink) thank you to Heather for sharing her creation for the world and encourage you to give it a try.


PS. After looking the recipe over closer, I’ve noticed that I did change things up a bit more than I listed above.

Crust – I used Flax rather than oat groats. I used maple syrup (not agave). I also used ½ teaspoon vanilla powder (not liquid).

Filling – I did not use stevia or the orange essential oil.

Topping – I used orange zest and a little more than 3 tablespoons grape juice (note that this was just juiced grape juice!).