Raw Vegan Thai Zucchini Salad

by Bella

When I eat delicious,  fresh,  raw,  nutrient rich vegan food I feel good in mind and body.  It’s light,  energizing, cruelty-free and too good to keep to myself.

Easy to make and delicious with only 324 calories and packed full of nutrition, this is a must have recipe.

raw thai salad

Salad ingredients

Salad dressing

Dressing ingredients

SALAD:   

2 cups raw organic zucchini cut into thin strips
1 small raw carrot peeled and cut into thin strips
2 tbsps diced red bell pepper
1 small tomato diced                                                                                               

DRESSING:

1tsp lemon juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp​ fresh crushed garlic
1/2 tsp​ ​crushed​red pepper2 tbsps liquid aminos
1 1/2 tsp​ ​apple cedar vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1tsp lemon juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp​ fresh crushed garlic
1/2 tsp​ ​crushed​red pepper

GARNISH:

1 tbsp raw cashews (I used peanuts which aren’t raw)
1 tsp cilantro


Place all the salad ingredients  in big bowl.  Mix all the dressing ingredients and pour over salad.  Toss.  Garnish with raw cashews and cilantro. 

Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fermenting fears

by Bella

Just the smell of sauerkraut used to make me queezy. In fact, the first time I smelled it, I actually lost my lunch. It has made me feel sick ever since.  That is,  until  now. 

Growing up, the only sauerkraut I’d ever encountered came from a can. I thought that something magical must happen in the factory to make fermented foods safe that couldn’t be achieved at home. Therefore,  I had yet to see smell or taste homemade sauerkraut. 

smelly-old-work-socks

Canned sauerkraut smells like rotten socks. Its consistency  is squishy and the color of a corpse.  It’s no wonder I found it so repulsive. Still I thought  sauerkraut and so many other preserved foods were both difficult and dangerous to make yourself.  Even as an adult,  it wasn’t something I had expected  I’d ever do.  Besides,  why would I try to make something that I’d always found revolting.  I feared fermentation, but I feared sauerkraut even more. 

Purely out of curiosity,  I recently read the book Fermenting Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey.  The book sings the praises of not only the taste,  but also the health benefits of fermented foods while making it so simple, and less frightening than I ever expected. In fact,  the authors provide a mantra that is the key to successful fermentation and demonstrates how easy it is,  “Submerge in brine add find all will be fine.” It truly is that simple.

wp-1451847597552.jpg

I quickly got over feeling inferior to factories in my ability to preserve food. More importantly,  I wondered if homemade sauerkraut  might be better than canned.

So I gave fermentation a go. I started with basic things first making leek and garlic pastes. Both tasted phenomenal, so I decided to get more adventurous.

wp-1453152581825.jpgLeek paste left. Garlic paste right.

The true test was make my own sauerkraut. If I could make it and the smell didn’t make me gag, that in itself would be impressive.  If I could make sauerkraut that I could eat, I would finally be over my fermentation fears and undoubtedly a convert for life.

It took all of about 10 minutes to prepare and one week to ferment. And then came the moment of truth. The taste test.

It smelled fine.  No rotten socks.  The consistency  was crunchy.  The taste was sour and salty. Not only could I tolerate it,  I loved it and promptly devoured it.   I ate it in salads,  as a side dish with eggs, and on a wrap filled with veggies,  sprouts and cheese.  Though I had planned to take a pic of the final product,  it didn’t happen.  Sorry.  That’s just how good it was.

So I can now say I am officially over my fermentation fear. More surprisingly,  I got over my fear of sauerkraut.

 

 

Raw organic curried nut pate

by Bella

I love easy and delicious healthy recipes. I whipped this up by just tossing things together and turning on the food processor. Super easy.

Tomorrow we’re going on a hike and then having a picnic. The weather’s been pretty hot here, so I needed something easy that doesn’t have to be kept cold while we hike.

I decided last night that I wanted nut pate to have with some gluten free crackers and carrot sticks, so I soaked some raw almonds overnight. It wasn’t until the nuts were rinsed and in the mini Cuisinart today, that the inspiration for the flavor came to me.

You can really do anything you want as far as flavor combos with a raw nut pate; so I just looked at what I had in my kitchen and grabbed the first thing that jumped out at me, curry powder.  I then I built upon the south Asian flavor with complimentary ingredients. I ended up with a slightly sweet coconut curry combo that  is hard to resist.

imageMaybe I should have waited until tomorrow to make it, because I have to resist it until the picnic. That’s the hardest thing about making stuff in advance. When it’s good, the wait is excruciating.

Without further ado, here’s the “recipe.”

It’s really just a list of ingredients. The quantities of each are up to you. Flavor to suit your taste and make as much as you need. I like it mildly sweet with a more intense spiciness and a savory bent.

Directions:
Process the drained and rinsed soaked nuts with the seeds (peppercorn and sunflower) first to break them up and to get them to rough texture. Then add everything else and process until well mixed and it starts to clump together.

I think letting it sit in the fridge overnight, if you can wait,  will make the flavors more intense.

Ingredients:
Soaked raw almonds
Nutritional yeast
Curry powder
Cumin
Sunflower seeds
Garlic
Spring onion
Salt
Raisins
Carrot
Shredded coconut
Crushed chili flakes                                                                                                                                                             Peppercorns

Our goals – 1 year later

by Bella

Where are we at one year after posting our goals? Adapting and changing. This is a family made up of individuals who are growing and changing all the time. In that process, we often have to change our path, though our end goal remains the same.

One constant is our desire to achieve voluntary simplicity. We just keep revising our ideas on what that is and how to get there.  As we learn more, and environmental factors impact us, we make the necessary adjustments.

The goals we set a year ago were our ultimate dreams. It’s great to have dreams and to strive to achieve them. The real world may have other plans for us. Keeping that in mind, here are those same nine goals and where we are today, one year later.

  1. to be free of boxes of stuff. If it’s not something we use on a daily basis and truly need or love, it’s got to go. Jack has done a fantastic job of selling our excess stuff. We don’t really have a lot left as he has made a huge dent.
  2. to eat only simple foods that are nutritious, organic, vegetarian/vegan whole foods that are easy to prepare. We strive everyday to find the best quality, healthy, but simple foods to eat and have become inventive with our recipes. Jack and Bo decided late last year to reintroduce some meats into their diets, but I have remained vegetarian and have avoided most animal products. We eat mostly whole natural foods, cooking vegetarian recipes, to which Jack and Bo often add a bit of meat. We did have to start a “meat box” in the fridge to keep it separate from the produce.
  3. to live in an environment where we can bike, walk or use public transport and be car free. We do live in an environment where this is technically possible provided we stay in our isolated small town for everything and forever. Because that’s not an appealing concept to us, we keep and use a vehicle. I do walk to work 95% of the time, John works from home and Bo studies from home, so our vehicle use is minimal.
  4. to be able to fit all of our possessions into one small bag each and only one small container of kitchen supplies. Not even close. We still have a long way to go on this. After a long talk with Bo when she expressed a strong desire to stay put until she finishes her high school education, we decided to keep a few comforts to make our place feel like a home. See numbers 5 through seven for more info.
  5. to travel, to live, to love life without the constraints of maintaining a home, having excess physical possessions or working at jobs we that don’t feed our spirits. Without the stuff, we don’t need the home, without the home, we don’t need the jobs. This is where the dream and reality conflict comes into play. Our daughter Bo doesn’t want to do this until she finishes school, and then she wants to go it alone like her older sister who lives in Australia. We raised very independent kids. When she told us this, we stalled our travel plans because we always put our kids and their happiness first. Since that time, financial reality has sunk in. We have the money to travel and explore, but not the location independent income source to be able to maintain that lifestyle for long. We are working on a revised goal that will temper the dream with the reality. It is a work in progress. We live in a month-to-month rental that is fairly stable and inexpensive. Because of this, if our situation were to change, we have the freedom to get back on track with our travel dreams.
  6. to generate an income from things that we enjoy. I like my job, but, as I said, it’s not location independent. In fact it’s very much tied to one building. Jack, though he works from home, and, as of yet,doesn’t earn enough to support all three of us. He likes what he does, and is looking for new ways to grow his business.
  7. to have the time and money to travel and explore our passions. See number 5 about financial reality.
  8. to post on this blog weekly to track our progress and hopefully help others. I now want to revise this to say, to post on this blog when I find inspiration and want to share it with the world. I have so many ideas that I want to share, and I want to do it with passion, so I plan to write when I’m excited or fired up about something. I also have so many things that I want to do. Blogging is just one of those things. IF I focus too much on blogging, I’ll burn-out; so I’ll try to maintain a balance. I hope to get Jack involved. He’s full of ideas that I’d know people would enjoy reading about.
  9. to start a YouTube channel about our adventures by the end of this year. I’m proud to say that I did start a YouTube channel where I posted a video and had fun doing it. The video wasn’t about adventure, but it was about something I’m passionate about, genetics and genealogy. I will most likely post more on a variety of topics in future.

So there you have it. We’re real people, sharing our journey. Voluntary simplicity remains our main focus, and we continue striving toward achieving our dreams. As we succeed and inevitably, sometimes fail, we will continue sharing our story.

PB&J Gluten-Free Cookies

by Bella

recipe by Bo

Bo is an amazing baker. She started quite young and just has a knack for it.

This is one of her own recipes. Peanut butter and jam gluten free cookies.  They taste as good as they look. Slightly crispy on the outside but mouth-wateringly soft on the inside with a chewing and sweet jam center.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup peanut butter
Jam (I used raspberry)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups rice flour
1 cup gluten free flour blend
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Directions:
1. Preheat oven for 375 degrees and line baking tray(s) with parchment paper.
2. In a medium size bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
3. Mix in eggs one at a time and add peanut butter and vanilla.
4. Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda) in a separate bowl and gradually mix them into the wet ingredients.
5. Roll mixture into small balls and place them on tray(s).
6. Use your thumb to create an indentation in each ball of dough and place a small amount of jam inside (a tsp or less).
7. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.

The dirt on mushrooms.

by Bella (inspired by Jack)

We’re related to mushrooms. Jack broke the news to me just this morning. Will this show up in his genetic test? Well, considering that we share a common ancestor around 600 million years ago, probably not.

It’s true, according to a post on Mark’s Daily Apple.  Mushrooms are neither plant for animal Though more closely related to us than to a potato, they may not bare a resemblance with the exception of the Mario Bros. character, Toady, but apparently they have neurotransmitters just like us thinking mammals.

So the question is, “Are mushrooms still a vegan food?” Something to ponder.

If you’re curious and/or intrigued, like I was, check out the short, informative and to-the-point post here.

Even Toady was surprised to find out we’re related.

Raw Strawberry Buckwheat Porridge

by Bella

For me, it’s hard to beat almost any smoothie as my breakfast of choice, but Raw Buckwheat Porridge always comes out on top. Like a smoothie, it gives me a boost of energy. I always know the night before that I’m going to have buckwheat porridge for breakfast, because I have to soak the raw groats (Actually, Jack does it for me). When I wake up, and I know that I have that to look forward too, I jump out of bed and anxiously wait for Jack and Bo to get up too. The sound of the food processor will wake them, so I have to wait for what seems to be an excruciatingly long time for them to get up (it’s usually only about 1/2 hour to an hour – I’m hardly going to starve) before I can fire that puppy up and then tuck in to the creamy, fruity, refreshing deliciousness that is Raw Buckwheat Porridge. I’m salivating as I type this.

Do you see the spoon in the picture. I found it very difficult to wait. I had to get Bo to take these shots for me, and to stop me sneaking a bite and making a mess of the bowl.

I use the freshest, most vibrant, and sweet berries that I can find.

True raw foodests will have spotted the toasted coconut (not raw). The great thing about this recipe is that it can be done COMPLETELY raw, gluten-free and in a multitude of varieties, everyone of them yummiful. Yes! I just made that word up. When something tastes this good, there are no existing words to describe.  The recipe is for strawberry porridge, but you can substitute any berry you want. For that matter, you can change up or omit the pecans for your nuts of choice, and put in any variety of seeds, replace the banana and/or apple with juicy pears. It can also be topped off with granola or made creamier with a non-dairy yogurt in place of non-dairy milk. Experiment until you find your favorite.

Raw Strawberry Buckwheat Porridge

1/4 cup raw (gluten-free) buckwheat groats (soaked overnight)

3/4 cup fresh berries of your choice

1 medium size ripe banana

1/2 small apple

small handful of pecans

splash of vanilla

dash of pink Himalayan sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

small handful of shredded coconut

enough coconut milk to get a creamy consistency

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp ground flax

toasted coconut flakes, pecans and strawberries for garnish

Soak the buckwheat overnight. In the morning rinse thoroughly until no more frothy bubbles appear. Place groats in food processor and process until a paste starts to form (add a little coconut milk if needed so you don’t burn out the motor). Toss in the banana, apple and then strawberries and then add the vanilla, salt, cinnamon, pecans and shredded coconut with the rest of the coconut milk. Process until well combined, creamy and a little bit runny. Scoop out into your serving bowl, then ass the chia and flax, This is why you made it a bit runny, so that there’s enough liquid for the chia seeds and ground flax to soak up. Let it sit for as long as you can wait to thicken (for me that’s only about 10 minutes that feel like forever), then garnish with strawberries, pecans and coconut flakes.