Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Middle Eastern Salad- Eating on the Road

We were watching of all things a show about fast food in foreign countries a while back. (Yea… I know) and were surprised to hear that in the Middle East this was something that big chains like McDonald's and even Subway, needed to add to their menus to catch on locally. (Sad that they are there at all but that's another topic.) This salad is a staple in some countries and especially for breakfast, an idea I rather liked. It caught my interest and I did some researching, even before the show was over.

It goes by different names: Israeli Salad, Arabic Salad, Palestinian Salad and probably others I am not aware of but rather than get into this hot bed of debate I decided to call it just Middle Eastern Salad.

It has some very simple fresh ingredients like tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, and herbs like parsley and mint and of course there are many variations as well. I decide to whip this up to take on our trip and it filled in quite well for many snacks and meals.

Although you can eat this as is as a salad, I also made up a no bean Raw Red Pepper Hummus (I have posted something similar here) to have on hand and the two worked out nicely to fill pita bread for a heartier meal as well as to use for chips and veggies. For all raw, you can use endive lettuce as scoops, something we often do.

We cleared out our mini bar fridge and stocked it with things like fresh fruit, smoothies, the hummus and salad, along with veggies and of course water. This really helped us to keep a lid on eating out too much while away from home. The hummus lasted about 5 days and the salad about 3-4. The chips, not that long at all.

In Room Dining- (sorry the lighting wasn't the best.)

Middle Eastern Salad

3 large cucumbers peeled and seeded and then diced
4 medium tomatoes, seed and diced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 small red onion, diced or about 5 green onions chopped
1 medium lemon zested and juiced
salt and pepper to taste 

(I omitted the salt so just know that you might want to add this when serving and not before. It will make the cucumbers sweat and it will become watery as it sits.)

Mix all the above in a bowl and let sit at least 15 minutes or store in a sealed container and chill. 
It makes about 2 quarts and will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

As a side note, I have discovered a great substitute for store bought chips- Pita bread. 
Most often you can find pita bread that is free from preservatives and sometimes salt and oil as well. Gluten free would be a bonus but I have yet to discover that. I find that I don't react too much to pita.

I just cut them up into triangles and pop into the oven at about 325 degrees for 7-8 minutes until desired crispness. The hummus I made had quite a bit of garlic so I left these plain but for garlic flavored you can spritz with water and dust lightly with garlic powder. As an alternative you can spray with olive oil and do the same but I'm watching the use of oil and don't miss it at all.

On a Personal Note:

We had a great trip and although we tried to stay with our eating routine, we did stray while eating in restaurants and with friends and family. We both have decided that a cleanse or detox is definitely in order to feel our best again. 

So we are back to high raw food, salads, juices and smoothies for a while.

I can't wait to get back in the kitchen.

Until next time….

Friday, July 12, 2013

Raw on the Run- Lara Bites

I have to apologize. We are away from home at the moment and due to an overcrowded hotel internet service, I have not been able to post as I had planned. I have been trying at different times during our stay to edit photos or even upload them from my camera but my connection keeps getting lost. In a last ditch effort, finally I was able to connect tonight and nearly 12 am! I guess everyone is going to sleep as I should be. I was afraid it could have been my computer so it is a relief but since this is a working trip, this is not very feasible for posting, so this may be my only post until I return home. So sorry.

Before leaving home, I made an effort to stock us with some food for the trip. We were able to keep most of it in the hotel mini bar fridge and it has saved us from dining at unpredictable restaurants for the most part of our meals.

One of our favorites is this recipe, which I have to confess was one of my very first attempts at making raw food several years ago. It's a staple in the raw food community, known widely as Ani Phyo's Donut Holes. Since it really does not compare to sugary donut holes other than by looks, I prefer to call them "energy bites" as that seems more fitting.

Dates, dried pineapple, coconut, and almonds are about what you will find in a Lara bar, and since a bite size is enough to satisfy, "Lara Bites" it is!

This is very simple to make and with few ingredients, it makes a nice alternative to buying Lara bars.

Lara Bites aka Ani's Donut Holes

Donut Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups almonds
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 2 cups dried pineapple, chopped
  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup shredded coconut
Donut Directions
  1. In food processor, place almonds, salt, and vanilla.
  2. Process into a fine powder first.
  3. Slowly add chopped pineapple and dates, mix well.
  4. Place in a large bowl. Mix in 1/3 cup shredded coconut.
  • To serve, use an ice cream scooper or spoon to form donut holes.
  • Roll holes in ¼ cup shredded coconut. 
  • Will keep for over a week in the fridge.
From the book Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo
Rather than me showing photos of how to make these, (which I can't seem to upload anyway) I decided who better to show the process than Ani herself. So here is a video of Ani the amazing, making her delicious raw donut holes.

These little balls will keep nicely in your refrigerator for about a week. If you don't think you'll eat them that fast, I would suggest freezing them, which is what I do and they will keep for considerably longer.

I hope you consider trying these.  I will resume my blog posting when I return. I do have some lovely dishes that I created for the trip as well, mostly raw as that just worked the best for traveling. Hope you are all enjoying your summer.

Until next time, and when I return to better internet service...
Take care.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Frosted Raspberry Black Bean Brownies

No doubt this title sounds a little strange. I know it did to me when I first read about these. Black beans and brownies are never three words I would have put together without wincing. Probably what you are doing now.

But surprise! It works!

Over on Dr. Fuhrman's member site this is one recipe that everyone seems to love so I thought, hey! I love brownies so I'm game.

But why would anyone make brownies with black beans at all?

I hear ya. Well the benefits are many:

no processed sugar
no flour (aka gluten)
no dairy
no soy
no heavy amount of nuts like most raw desserts (although there is some nut butter)
plus lots of beneficial carbs and fiber from the black beans

Beans of all kinds are a dieters best friend as they fill you up, have great fiber and are a good source of calories when eating a high produce (and low calorie) diet.

I added raspberries because really what goes better with chocolate than raspberries?

I also decided to use a 12 individual cheesecake pan when I read that the serving size was 12. I cut the time down for mine because of the pan and frankly I could have cooked mine longer. They were not as fully cooked as they could have been. They came out more like a pudding cake, which was still quite good but for a crunchier outside, more time would have been better.

The frosting is optional and also vegan, sugar and nut free. Have you had "Chocomole" aka chocolate frosting made with avocados before? It's very good and even great as a pudding.

So let's get to it, shall we?

Raspberry Black Bean Brownies

Recipe adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's Black Bean Brownies from the website: DrFuhrman.com

Ingredients for Brownies:

2 cups of no or low salt black beans, drained and rinsed or home cooked
10 pitted medjool dates, soaked until soft
2 tablespoons raw almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
1 pint of raspberries, divided.


Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Combine black beans, dates, almond butter and vanilla in a food processor or high-speed blender. I used my Vitamix for this and while you can, you will get quite a workout with the plunger as this batter is really really quite thick. I had to add a couple of tablespoons of water to get it moving at all. Next time I will use a food processor.

Once well mixed, go ahead and add the cocoa powder and the ground chia seeds and blend again.

(Sorry, about the lighting here. I lost my sunlight unexpectedly- darn clouds!) 
Spread half the mixture into a lightly oiled pan (8x8) or muffin/ cheesecake pan. Mine was non-stick so I did not use any oil.

Mash up 3/4 cup of the raspberries in a cup and then spread over half the brownie batter. Then add the remaining batter over the raspberry layer to the.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours at 200 degrees.
Cool completely. Apply topping if desired. Cut into 12 pieces or remove from cups.
Can be stored in the refrigerator covered for up to a week. (I froze mine.)

Chocomole aka Chocolate Frosting (optional)


1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao
5 pitted medjool dates, soaked until soft.
splash of vanilla

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Frost brownies if using and top with remaining raspberries.


Well are you game? I hope you give these a try. And if you do, please come back and tell me your verdict.

I'll be sharing this over at Healthy Vegan Fridays and also on Gluten Free Wednesdays over at the Gluten Free Homemaker's site.

Oh and one more thing:

When you have that blender all chocolateied (is that a word?) up after making the frosting use that left over goodness to whip up a smoothie.

Chocolate Raspberry Banana Smoothie:

Blender coated with chocomole
1 cup of almond milk
handful of raspberries
2 dates
2 frozen bananas


Until next time…

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Monday, July 1, 2013

No Fuss-Thai Crunch Salad w/ a Spicy Asian Peanut Dressing

Need an easy salad to throw together with almost no prep? 
Something that can feed a crowd for a potluck or BBQ and be enjoyed by all? 
An easy meal to keep in the fridge ready for tossing with dressing for work or quick meals?

Well then this is your salad.

I call it my cheater salad because it's almost too easy. Aside from chopping green onions, which is completely optional, all you really need to make this salad is a big bowl and pair of scissors… for opening the bags. It's a staple in our rotation and delicious!

It utilizes pre prepped salad bags from your grocer and while I use a ready made dressing from Trader Joe's, I have also included an easy to make raw version as well for those not fortunate to have a TJ's nearby.

Thai Crunch Salad


A bag of butter lettuce, with radichio if possible
A bag of shredded green cabbage
A bag of broccoli slaw
A bag of shredded carrots
Shelled and cooked edamame
1/2 cup cashews, preferably unsalted and raw
1-2 green onions, white and greens chopped, optional if choosing no prep version
12 ounces of Asian Spicy Peanut Dressing (optional home made version below)


Empty contents of bags into a BIG bowl and toss with clean hands.

Add in the topping bits and toss gently again or leave on the side for self serving.

If serving right away, go ahead and add dressing and toss. If serving a crowd all at once you may need two bottles of dressing, depending on taste preference.

Note: This is about 1/4 of the salad here in this picture.

If storing for later meals you can easy put the un-tossed salad either in bags or jars to add dressing later.

This will make approximately 6 quarts of salad as written here. Add more lettuce to the base if you want to stretch it further.

Mock Peanut Dressing

1/2 cup raw Almond Butter
1/4 cup Water
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon juice
2 tsp Agave or Coconut Nectar or Maple Syrup
2 tsp Tamari
1/2 tsp crushed Garlic (1 clove)
1/4 tsp grated fresh Ginger
dash Cayenne Pepper
dash Sea Salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Store in sealed container in the fridge. Should keep 5 days. Makes 1 cup

Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 PeopleDressing Recipe found in Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 people, which by the way is a really great book!

I haven't ever made something from this book that we did not like.

So there you have it: My Cheater Thai Crunch Salad. I hope you give it a try and come back and let me know how you liked it here in the comments.

I'll be sharing this over at Gluten-Free Cats' Raw Thursday as well as Healthy Vegan Fridays.

NOTE: I have added Recipage to this blog so all recipes can be found indexed and ready for easy printing at the Recipe tab at the top of the page. Enjoy!

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