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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Before and After - 30 Day Raw Food Challenge

I took some before photos at the beginning of the challenge, and I’m so glad I did. Sometimes I look at myself and think that the changes I’ve made aren’t really showing on the outside yet, but this proves they are.

At the end of eating a Raw Food Diet for 30 days I lost 8.5kg (18.7lbs). I think the most noticeable difference is in my stomach. I’m not close to my goal weight yet, but I am well on my way. I’m going to photograph myself every month and compare it to the one before, I will also be posting my results here on my blog.

I decided to wear the same outfit for my before and after pics so it is easy to see what a difference it has made. This top looks completely different on me. I haven’t gone down a dress size yet but I am fitting my clothes much better. The clothes I currently wear were getting really snug and I was nearly up to the next size. Now they are comfy and roomy, its such a nice feeling.

Needless to say that I will be continuing to eat Raw, I can’t imagine going back to the way I used to, and that probably sounds strange after just one month. Its not just the way I look, its about the way I feel. I have noticed that my stress levels have reduced, my energy levels have gone up, I’m less emotional and have more mental clarity.

I don’t find this way of eating difficult at all, to me it feels natural and right. If I’m busy then its easy to quickly grab a piece of fruit and whip up a smoothie. It doesn’t have to be hard, some nights I feel like putting more effort in and I’ll grab one of my recipe books for inspiration, other nights I might just make a salad. I find that I am actually saving time because I don’t have to wait for things to cook and the food I prepare usually lasts a couple of days.

I’ve definately developed a new found love for this lifestyle, maybe one that borderlines obsession, but its a healthy one so I think thats ok. My tastebuds have completely changed and the foods I once found appetising really repulse me, especially meat.

I used to be a 3 coffee’s a day, meat eating girl. Now I’m drinking herbal tea, filtered water and loving my fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and sprouts. I feel completely satisfied and my appetite has reduced dramatically. I used to feel hungry all the time and I now know that this was because my body was deprived of real nutrients. I thought I was craving sweets or fatty foods, but when I ate them I still felt hungry. Now I know why.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Raw Pecan Mini Tarts with Chocolate Ganache

I made this as a large tart today but ended up with too much mixture, so I decided to make a few mini tarts as well. They turned out beautifully and are just the right portion size for one person. Delish!

Ingredients for Crust
2 cups pecans
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup cocao nibs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cocao powder
1/2 teaspoon himalayan sea salt

Ingredients for Filling
2 cups pre-soaked cashews
1 cup cocao powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon hinalayan sea salt

Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor and blend until evenly moist. Line mini tart pans with cling wrap and spread the crust with your fingers.

Combine all filling ingredients in the (cleaned) food processor, blending until very smooth. Pour filling into the crust and freeze or refrigerate until firm (1 hour). Garnish each tart with a pecan.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chocolate Mousse Parfait

This dessert is so rich and chocolatey... and guilt free. Its made from avocados, but you can't taste them. The avocado gives it a beautiful smooth creamy texture.

Chocolate Mousse
2 large avocados
4 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocao powder
1 tbsp lucuma (optional)
1 tbsp maca powder (optional)
cinnamon (to taste)
pinch of himalayan sea salt

Combine ingredients in blender and process until you get a thick velvety consistency.

Cashew Cream
1 cup cashews (soaked overnight)
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla essence

Blend cashews with 1/2 cup water to make a paste. Add remaining water to the consistency of cream. You can make this cream using other nuts, macadamia's would be nice. Cashews work well because they don't need to be peeled.

Layer with chocolate mousse, cashew cream and fresh berries. You can decorate with flaked coconut and a sprig of mint. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before serving.

Carob Walnut Cookies

One of my favourite raw food books is Ani's Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo. Its an awesome read, she explains what a raw food diet is and some of the benefits. She also goes through ingredients and explains what healthy fats are and why our body needs them. She introduces you to super foods like Maca Powder, and Mesquite Powder, things I hadn't heard of before exploring raw food recipes. There is also a section on Equipment and tools.

Every recipe I have tried from this book has turned out perfect every time. Here's one I tried last week. It was so quick and simple to make. I hadn't tried using carob before but I loved it. I actually prefer it to chocolate.

1 cup raisins
3/4 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup raw carob powder
1 teaspoon mesquite powder (optional)
1/8 teaspoon himalayan sea salt

Combine all ingredients in the food processor, process until the dough begins to stick together. Press the dough onto baking paper and cover with another sheet. Flatten using a rolling pin to desired thickness. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Alternatively, you could make balls.

Place the cookies on a lined tray and place in the freezer to firm up for about 30 minutes. Transfer to the fridge for serving later. Will keep for many weeks in the fridge or freezer, thaw for 5 minutes before eating.

Mesquite Powder
From ground pods of the mesquite tree, mesquite powder contains amino acids, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. It also has fructose, which doesn't require insulin to diges, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels. It contributes great flavour and is a natural sweetner, especially when used with chocolate.

Cashew Cheese and Flax Crackers

I attempted Raw Cashew Cheese and Flax Crackers today for the first time and am so happy with the result. Since going raw, I've been craving something really crunchy and miss having savory things like bread and crackers. These crackers are so flavoursome and easy to make. I have a stack in my pantry now for whenever the need arises.

Cashew Cheese
2 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight)
1 cup water
1 clove garlic
6 sundried tomatoes
freshly chopped chives
cracked black pepper

Soak the nuts in water overnight. Drain and rinse, place in blender with 1 cup of water and blend well to break the nuts down into a fine cream. Pour into a sprout bag (I used my nut milk bag) and hand over a sink or bowl. Let ferment at room temperature for approximately 8-12 hours. Transfer cheese to a bowl and add finely chopped sundried tomatoes, cracked black pepper, chives and garlic. I put my garlic through a garlic press. Store in the fridge. Garnish with freshly chopped chives when serving.

Flax Crackers
2 cups of flax seeds (ground) I used my coffee grinder
1 red capsicum (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 fresh tomatoes (roughly chopped)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic (roughly chopped)
1/2 large onion (roughly chopped)

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Press mixture onto lined trays in the dehydrator making sure that mixture is only a few millimetres tall. Dehydrate overnight. Break into pieces in the morning.

You can score the mixture half way through so that you get nice neat rectangles if you like, but I don't mind them looking kind of rustic.

Store in an airtight container, somewhere close to hand for when the cravings strike. These are nice dipped in the cashew cheese or on their own. Enjoy!

Goji Berry Museli

I thought it was about time I shared some of my favourite recipes. I attended a raw food class with the lovely Remedy Bliss. Its a series of 4 classes where Remedy shares her recipes and demonstrates about 6 per class. At the end we get to feast and OMG... the food is awesome. It was after these classes that I felt like I had the confidence to go raw. Before then I only had a few recipes under my belt.

Here's one of her recipes that has now become on of my staples. Its great because you can eat it fresh or you can dehydrate it and store it in containers.

1 cup buckwheat (soaked for 4 hours)
1/4 cup goji berries (or any dried fruit)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (soaked overnight)
1 T raw cocao nibs
4 T raw unfiltered honeyu
1 T superfood of choice (I used Mesquite powder, it has a nice malty flavour)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 handful of almonds (soaked overnight)
and a pinch of himalayan sea salt

Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly. Can be eaten fresh or dehydrated for about 6 hours, it will form nice little museli clusters. Store in airtight containers. Store in the fridge if fresh.

Serve with almond milk and fresh fruit. I doubled this recipe so I had plenty in the cupboard to last.

Almond Milk

2 cups of almonds (soaked overnight)
3 cups of water

Place almonds and 2 cups of water in the blender, blend for about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of water and blend some more. Strain through nut milk bag or muslin cloth. Pour into a jug or container and store in the fridge. Will keep for approx 3 days.