Awhile ago, Cam told me about a cookbook he wanted to get. He'd read about Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen on Boing Boing. "Raw food?" I thought. No thanks.
Then, when I wanted to buy a book to learn more about eating vegetarian, since we've been eating more meatless dishes, to make sure we are still getting the nutrients we need, and asked for his input, he reminded me that he wanted this one.
I'd looked through numerous vegetarian books at a book store and had written down one that was my favorite.
I ordered the book I wanted and the one he liked best too. When mine came, it was a dud.
Turns out the New Vegetarian Cookbook I ordered was actually a collector's book from 1987 not the lovely New Vegetarian Cooking you see. They have the same author and the old edition may be full of wonderful recipes and useful information but it is unattractive. I'm not interested. (Carma & Brooke, I finally understand why food shots need to be updated.)
Maybe the book I really wanted is worth purchasing down the road. In the meantime, Cam's selection arrived. It came on one of those days when Sam was sick and I was feeling a bit bored and restless, wanting to work on important things, wondering what to make for dinner and needing inspiration. I found it in Ani's book.
Her first recipe doesn't come until page 46. Before that, she explains why she chooses to eat "fresh living cuisine." She touched on "mindfulness."
We are already trying to be more mindful about the choices we make, buying organic and local items when we can, choosing products with less packaging (reduce, reuse, recycle), avoiding high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil like the plague. (figs photo credit)
Even the eating less meat thing is partly an attempt to be more socially conscious. Once, I took a job where I felt proud that I would be helping family farmers. When I realized that 75 percent of America's Pork Producers were industrial operations, like Smithfield Corporation and I learned about the amount of waste they generate (not to mention their other business practices), I was less proud.
An article called, "Why going meatless saves the planet." says going vegetarian is the single most powerful action most people can make to save energy and reduce pollution.
It explains that the amount of water I would save by giving up showering for a year is less than the amount of water needed to raise a single pound of beef.
And if the land we use to raise beef, eggs, milk and chickens was used to raise foods like wheat, corn, rice or potatoes, we'd have 5-20 times more food to feed people. (wheat photo credit)
The Girl in the Cafe movie mentioned that cows in Europe get a subsidy from tax payers worth $2.20 a day
while half of the world's population, 3 billion people, scrape by on less than half of that amount.
To me, these are all compelling reasons to eat less meat. Besides, I never really liked the idea of eating animals anyway. (cow photo credit)
But, back to Ani. While she lives a Raw, Vegan lifestyle, she doesn't expect other people to practice those practices exclusively. Rather, she encourages us to include more fresh ingredients in our daily life.
This book reinforced many of the ideas I've been supporting lately and had interesting sounding recipes (with enticing photos). The recipes incorporate lots of nuts, fresh fruits and and vegetables, foods we all enjoy. (fruit photo credit)
I decided to give some of her recipes a try and started out by stocking up on ingredients to make her smoothies and mylks.
The recipes called for some staples (blue
berries, mangoes, bananas, pecans, cashews, almonds, walnuts) and adding some new ingredients to our kitchen. (vbean photo credit)
Dates are Ani's favorite sweetener. I bought some along with, 1/2 pound of whole vanilla beans, black sesame seeds, cashew butter, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sea salt, and coconut oil. (date photo credit)
Recently, I'd picked up some cacao nibs and powder in an attempt to have healthy chocolate around. By itself, it tastes awful and it didn't mix into drinks the way I'd hoped. Seeing it incorporated into Ani's recipes gave me hope that I would be able to use these ingredients and have chocolaty treats.
For the next week, I had a different smoothie every day. I tried and enjoyed some of her mylks.
Maybe it was just the excitement of trying something new but I felt exhilarated and energetic. I imagined I was losing some unwanted fat. This inspired me to start exercising more and I felt even better. (almond photo credit)
In my enthusiasm, I purchased ingredients to try some of her salads and soups.
The Confetti Salad, (our photo) topped with fresh cherries, looked wonderful. To make it, I bought kale for the first time and blended a cucumber and orange (along with other ingredients) to make the dressing.
We put about four times as many cherries on top of our salads as the recipe called for and loved them the first time. But I had enough ingredients for eight servings of salad. I forgot to put cherries on one time and wondered why I didn't like the salad as much.
Next, we tried the Japanese Miso Shitake Soup (our photo).
Raw soup? Hmm, interesting.
It was my first time buying miso. During preparation, I was a bit concerned that the recipe called for an entire cup of olive oil but decided to follow along.
The first few bites of the soup were good. We liked the marinated mushrooms. Cam finished his soup. After I'd eaten all of the spoonfuls with mushrooms, I couldn't make myself finish the last of the soup base in my bowl and started to have a bit of an upset stomach from all of the oil. Over the next few days, I added more mushrooms and was able to finish most of it.
When I tried her uncooked Sweet Corn Chowder (our photo), I used amount a third of olive oil he recipe called for and thought it was much better. (I use about half the amount of oil she calls for in her dressings.)
The fresh corn was tasty and the avocado on top was yummy but I put too much cilantro in mine and had trouble finishing my first bowl.
I was starting to feel a bit discouraged because while Cam was a good sport about trying these dishes, he wasn't enthusiastic about eating the leftovers.
Time to try desert.
At a rest-
aurant, when my folks were here, Cam had wanted to split some peach blueberry cobbler for dessert. I wanted coffee flavored ice cream with Kahlua instead. He didn't want to order two desserts so we ordered mine. I said I'd make cobbler for him another time. (our photo)
A raw cobbler wasn't really what he'd had in mind but he was willing to give it a try. I thought the pecans, date and vanilla bean crust sounded wonderful.
Unfortunately, the food processor we have is tiny. I tried to process the large amount of pecans and dates in the blender instead. In little batches it seemed to work but was quite tedious.
There was another glitch. When Sam and I picked out sea salt, we chose coarse salt. Apparently, the tiny bit of salt, needed to make the crust, didn't get processed adequately in the blender.
(salt photo credit)
Cam got big chunks of salt with several of his first bites of cobbler. He wasn't able to finish it. My first piece was fine. I thought he was being annoying.
But the next day, I tried a second serving and got a couple of chunks of salt myself. It was a bit nauseating. My third and fourth servings, were OK and over the next few days, I managed to eat most of the cobbler but Cam wouldn't touch it.
The Luscious Lemon Pudding may be the straw that broke the camel's back. I'd bought fine sea salt and thought I'd try a dessert again. (lemon photo credit)
But this time, when the blender was trying to process almonds and dates, it started smoking.
I insisted on eating the chunky, lemon and date flavored almond mush anyway. For the next few days, I gave the blender (and Cam) a rest. Cam was happy to have a break from nuts and dates.
Last week, I tried another one of Ani's salads. This one called for spinach, carrots, marinated onions and homemade mustard seed dressing. We both enjoyed it but haven't felt like using the remaining ingredients in a second batch.
The blender seems to be doing OK. My first glass of her Beautifying Pumpkin Milk was better than I expected but the rest of it has been around for days. (pumpkin seed photo credit)
I haven't given up on the concept of incorporating raw food into our diet. I bought a food processor and want to try her egg-free scrambles, coconut breakfast cakes, vegan taco meat, "cheezes" and save-the-tuna or save-the salmon dishes (made primarily from carrots). I just needed a break.
Her Walnut Cranberry Squash "Rice" is supposed to be big in Hollywood.
Her stuffed Anaheim Chilies with Mole Sauce, Mediter-
ranean Dolmas, Ginger Almond Nori Rolls and Coconut Snow Cake all look worth trying too.
So, thanks, Ani for the inspir-
And thanks to the rest of you for letting me share my initial enthu-
siasm as well as my moments of discouragement.
As Chumba Wumba's song Tub Thumping says, "I get knocked down but I get up again. You're never going to keep me down."
I hope you are enjoying whatever you've been eating lately.