Raw Voilà Lifestyle: Pausing in Nature

Life is constant, and for many of us it is fairly demanding. In a world of productivity and deadlines, it certainly is all right to pause every now and again. Aside from prospective holidays and vacations, scheduling downtime is a must. Whether for only a few minutes, a few hours, or for an entire day, any space that can be created to unwind is important to overall well-being.

Grounding in nature is one of my favorite ways to reset and relax. Connecting with earth energy is healing and potent, not only for the body but also the intellect and spirit. We are meant to be out in nature, feeling the sun on our skin and taking in full, deep breaths. Walking barefoot in grass, dirt, sand or water, touching greenery, hugging a tree, smelling flowers, partaking in a woodland hike, or just simply lying on the ground and sky gazing are all great approaches to help recenter and recharge.

Occasionally trekking by oneself can also be therapeutic. We all need time with our own thoughts and to thoroughly tap into our inner self. I have a few special sites that I enjoy visiting alone, to clear my mind while enveloped in serenity and beauty, appreciating every meditative moment. Feeling my heart beating at each expansion of my lungs, letting go and becoming encompassed in presence does wonders for my psyche. I return to my regular settings invigorated and primed.

Whatever way in which you decide to take a pause, remember to nurture yourself.

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Raw Food Recipes by Marcy Denise: Liquid Green

Juice allows the digestive system to rest while supplying the body’s cells with easily assimilated nutrients vital to health as well as provides an internal cleansing boost. Of the many juices I create, my ultimate favorite blend is both potent and green, low in sugar and exceptionally nourishing. Green leafy vegetables furnish the body with the building blocks of protein by way of an abundance of amino acids and are a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals, not to mention chlorophyll. I love mixing deep, dark green leafy vegetables with tart and pungent elements, in countless combinations with ingredients tailored to whatever produce I have on hand and what seems most appealing. There are numerous ways to vary juice components, and I wholeheartedly recommend rotating what greens are used, depending upon the growing season. Diversification widens the scope of essential vitamins and minerals as well as keeps things interesting. Fresh herbs are always a medicinal plus!

A member of the brassica family, kale is high in vitamins K and C, is a good source of iron, and is exceptional for aiding detoxification of the liver. Lacinato (aka Tuscan or Cavolo Nero) is a deeply pigmented, rather tender variety of kale with a somewhat bitter, ever-so-slighty nutty, strong earthy taste that enlivens the palate and plays a starring role in this particular mix. Belonging to the ginger family, turmeric is earthy, slightly citrusy and peppery in flavor. It is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, also aids in detoxifying the liver, and increases overall immunity. I love adding fresh turmeric to various juice concoctions, and in general find it to be quite grounding. Pineapple is an excellent source of antioxidants and the widely therapeutic enzyme bromelain. Its sweetness perfectly balances the inherent sharp characteristics of the Lacinato kale and turmeric root, as well as nicely complements the tartness of the Granny Smith apple. Cilantro is fantastic for aiding the body in removing heavy metals and wonderfully pairs with lime. Liquid Green is deliciously bold and is a great introduction to the world of full-bodied green juices. Enjoy!

‘Liquid Green’

Robust. Alkalizing. Deeply Nourishing.

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2 cups Lacinato kale, stemmed (veins left intact), firmly packed
1-inch by 1-inch piece of fresh turmeric root (skin left on)
1 ripe medium Granny Smith apple, cored (skin left on)
half of 1 ripe medium pineapple, rind removed, core left intact
1/3 cup cilantro, stems left intact, firmly packed
half of 1 ripe small green lime, with peel

Process all of the ingredients through a juicer of your choice. Stir gently and serve!

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A few tips…

To help limit your exposure to harmful pesticide residues and waxed coatings often associated with conventional produce, try to purchase organically grown fruits and vegetables as often as possible.

The listed ingredients should roughly amount to 16 ounces of juice, depending on how much liquid your kale, turmeric root, apple, pineapple, cilantro and lime yield. It is best to serve fresh juices soon after they are made due to oxidation and degrading of nutrients. However, they can be tightly sealed and placed inside of the refrigerator for short-term storage (a day or two).

While the final outcome will somewhat vary each time a juice is made, produce size (as well as quality) does play an important part. In the list of ingredients, I noted 2 cups Lacinato kale, stemmed (veins left intact), firmly packed. ‘Stemmed’ refers to removing the tough stem found at the base of each Lacinato kale leaf. The veins found within the middle of each leaf can be left intact as they are more tender and easy to collapse for measuring purposes. Firmly packing the kale leaves helps to ensure an accurate measurement, and in turn results in a balanced end product. 1 ripe medium Granny Smith apple, cored (skin left on): A medium Granny Smith apple would equate to at least 2 and 1/2 inches in width and 2 inches in height. Half of 1 ripe medium pineapple, rind removed, core left intact: A medium pineapple would equate to at least 4 inches in width and 5 inches in height (excluding the green top). Half of 1 ripe small green lime, with peel: A small green lime would equate to at least 1 and 1/2 inches in width and 1 and 1/2 inches in height.

Granny Smith apples morph from green to yellow as they ripen. The best tasting Granny Smith apples I have encountered have green skin that is yellow-tinged as well as a hint rosy. Their flavor profile is also slightly sweet and less acidic versus that of a completely green-skinned Granny Smith apple, which tends to be much more tart and strongly acidic. The riper the Granny Smith apple, the sweeter it will be.

The leaves of a ripe pineapple will be easy to remove by either simply pulling them free or slightly twisting and pulling them free. The rind will become more golden and the fruit will give off a rounded sweet fragrance.

As green limes ripen, they will become lighter in color, a softer shade of green to yellowish. Their flavor profile will also be less acidic.

Save the leftover pulp for adding to soups or as an ingredient in making breads, crackers or pâtés. No need to throw that extra goodness away! The leftover pulp can last a day or two if stored in a tightly sealed container and kept inside of the refrigerator. If you are not able to use the leftover pulp in that amount of time, storing it inside of the freezer may be a better option.


Raw Food Recipes by Marcy Denise: Crème de Champagne

Champagne in the morning is a beautiful thing, especially when it is exceptionally high in vitamin C and a great source of vitamin A and folate—champagne as in Champagne mango, also known as Ataulfo. The succulent, melt-in-your-mouth flesh is virtually non-stringy, intensely orange and sticky sweet. The best specimens have slightly-wrinkled, deep golden skin and are soft to a gentle squeeze. Champagne mangoes are one of my favorite varieties of mango that I excitedly indulge in every year. And while I do include them in various concoctions, from decadent sauces to spicy salsa to velvety smoothies and more, I love having them in their most natural form. Crème de Champagne is a nice compromise in retaining more of the fruit’s natural flavor profile and at the same time increasing its nutrient content by adding a lovely dose of Omega 3 by way of hemp seed oil and extra trace minerals via pink crystal salt. Additionally, the nuttiness and slight sweetness of hemp seed oil pairs beautifully with this type of mango, deepening the overall flavor. The oil also enhances the creaminess. The pink crystal salt boosts the natural sweetness of the mango while the mint lends a playful brightness across the tongue and nicely complements every component. And although it is a simple mix, the end result is gorgeous with a silky mouthfeel and delicious, rich taste.

‘Crème de Champagne’

Silky. Sweet. Delectable.

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3 large ripe Champagne mangoes, peeled and seeded
2 teaspoons raw, cold-pressed hemp seed oil
small pinch of pink crystal salt (fine grind)

garnish: 2 small fresh mint leaves

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Using a high-speed blender, purée the mango, hemp seed oil, and salt just until the mixture becomes creamy, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides and help the mixture turn over. Be mindful not to liquify the mango, the intent is viscous rather than runny. Process the mixture through a very fine mesh sieve, such as a chinois, to ensure the silky texture is completely stringless. Serve Crème de Champagne in a small bowl garnished with fresh mint leaves. Perfect for one comfortable serving or two very small servings. Enjoy!


A few tips…

To help limit your exposure to harmful pesticide residues often associated with conventional produce, try to purchase organically grown fruits as often as possible.

The listed ingredients should roughly amount to 3 ounces of Crème de Champagne, depending on how much flesh your mangoes yield. Double or triple the recipe as needed.

In the list of ingredients, I noted 3 large ripe Champagne mangoes, peeled and seeded. A large Champagne mango would equate to at least 4 inches in length and 2 and 1/2 inches in width.

In general, Champagne mangoes with deep golden skin tend to be much sweeter than those that are lighter yellow, and are definitely more sweet than those with green-tinged and fully green skin. The paler and more green the Champagne mango, the less ripe and the more tart it tends to be. And the deeper the golden hue, the riper and sweeter it tends to be. Don’t be afraid of slightly wrinkled skin, it’s just fine with this variety of mango, and in fact can be a good indicator of ripeness. A really ripe Champagne mango may be speckled throughout with small dark spots, and can also be more than slightly wrinkly—both of which can still be okay. Although, on occasion, a really ripe Champagne mango can slightly lean toward bitterness as well as have some brown patches throughout the flesh. However, a few of the tastiest and memorable ones I have had happened to be pretty ripe, so be open to discovering those as well. Definitely avoid Champagne mangoes with medium and large black spots as they will have become overripe, watery, and unpalatable.

All of that said, for this particular recipe, I only use ripe Champagne mangoes with deep golden skin (as pictured above) versus any that are really ripe and covered with dark spots. I also prefer to not add any type of sweetener to this recipe, as wonderfully ripe Champagne mangoes are naturally sweet enough.

Crème de Champagne can easily be utilized beyond this recipe. It can also serve as a base for a pie filling, truffle filling, used as an ice cream topping, to create sorbet, used as a layer in a parfait, a salad dressing component, used to create a fruit soup, and just about anything you may imagine.


A Beautiful Mess: Cozy Comfort

The sky still bright and the sun vibrant, though now less warm as the air becomes crisp with the familiar chill of Fall. The leaves turn beautiful shades of gold and red, gently released from branches and piling underfoot. A shift from cooling comforts to all things snuggly, and appreciating the change of seasons. Homemade bread continues to be a cozy staple that I enjoy even when it’s balmy out, although I feel it pairs best with the dropping temperature.

Pictured here is another rustic favorite, inspired by earthiness and nurturing—hearty and rich-tasting without the weightiness of its traditional counterpart, which this bread is always delightfully compared to. Warm smiles across lips, eyes twinkling, happy sounds upon first bites, all aid in sustaining passion for what I do. To positively impact even one person’s life by way of creating something healthful and delicious makes all the difference, and keeps me forging ahead.

Much is transpiring behind the scenes at Raw Voilà, and excitement increases for when details can be shared.

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Raw Voilà Lifestyle: Superfoods

What many of us deem to be superfoods are simply foods that are exceptionally rich in particular nutrients, often times at a much higher rate than what is regarded as the norm. These days, superfoods tend to be characterized as specialty items. Although, wild blueberries, broccoli sprouts, kale, and many other commonly found foods are also quite nutrient dense and high in antioxidants, and can easily be considered a ‘superfood’. That said, following are a few of my favorite intensely nutrient items that I incorporate on most days, depending on what I feel my body is needing, including helpful information for each.

Pictured below are hemp seeds, maca powder, goji berries, and chia seeds.

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Hemp seeds have a pleasant nutty flavor and supply Omega 3 as well as Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids, all ten essential amino acids, and a healthy dose of protein. They can be added to smoothies, soups, salads, whole food meal bars, breakfast porridge and desserts. I often enjoy chopped mixed fruit sprinkled with hemp seeds. They are also really delicious as an added topping for pasta.

Maca powder is produced from a root vegetable native to Peru and is a member of the radish family. It has a slightly sweet, malty flavor that pairs exceptionally well with chocolate—among other things! Maca is an adaptogen, a hormone balancer, and an excellent source of minerals, B vitamins and protein. I love adding maca to various blended concoctions and savory dishes. I even include it as an ingredient for creating various types of condiments.

Goji berries have more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots, important trace minerals including selenium, iron, copper and zinc, and contain eighteen different amino acids. Their flavor is a cross between dried cranberries and raisins, and they are not overly sweet. While goji berries are wonderful to snack on straight, they are great for adding to smoothies, fashioned into a medicinal tea, and sprinkled into salads, fruit mixes, trail mixes, soups, cereals, etc. I often use goji berries in place of raisins with much success.

Chia seeds are rich in protein, calcium, iron and fiber as well as Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids. They are ever-so-slightly reminiscent of flax seeds though taste creamier and sweeter and also a tad nutty. They absorb at least nine times their volume in liquid and are wonderfully hydrating, and are especially great for helping to increase athletic endurance. Plus, they keep you sated and energized. I love using chia seeds to enrich and thicken smoothies. In addition, they are excellent for making various types of dressings, puddings, cereals, sprinkled on top of salads, as an ingredient in crackers or breads and more. I often chose heirloom white chia seeds for their milder flavor. However, if you are unable to obtain that variety of chia, you can opt for more readily available heirloom black chia seeds without worry.

Over the many years that I have incorporated superfoods into my eating regimen, I can comfortably say they have positively enhanced my overall well-being and will remain an integral part of my daily habits. The four superfoods mentioned above can easily be included and help boost immunity by providing extra amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and essential fatty acids.


A Beautiful Mess: Figgin’ Delicious

As culinary artists, we can at times easily become caught up in the adventurous momentum of creating recipes—deeply inspired by color, flavor and texture, among various other things. However, it is good when we are reminded to simply relish the beauty of nature and all that it has to offer us each season.

These fresh Black Mission figs are just one example.

What were first intended to be used as a main component in a sweet and savory mix quickly morphed into an incredible mouthgasmic experience, all from one sampling of a succulent piece of fruit. I will admit without hesitation that several of my intended ingredients this past Spring and now Summer have resulted in mono-meal feasts for the senses, and I have absolutely no regrets for indulging in those intensely delicious moments.


Raw Voilà Spotlight: The Power Of Greens

Green leafy vegetables are important in any diet, especially a raw food diet. They supply the body with the building blocks of protein via an abundance of amino acids, are a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals as well as much needed fiber, and also boost detoxification and alkalinity. There are as many types of leafy greens as there are ways to incorporate them. Your palate will be a major determining factor of what sorts of greens you will prefer. It is imperative to remember that over time your palate will shift as you eat more natural foods and less processed items. So if at first you do not find much enjoyment in a particular vegetable, you may relish it later on as your sense of taste changes and adapts.

A helpful tip: Increasing the amount of green leafy vegetables in your diet can greatly help stave off cravings as the body works to become cleaner.

Various nutrients provided by leafy greens are very beneficial during detoxification and also to one’s overall well-being.

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Typically, green leafy vegetables literally are green, though some can be found in varying shades of purple or red and are considered to be a leafy green. In general, the darker the hue the more intense the vitamin and mineral content, so indulge more often in whatever deeply-hued vegetables you prefer. As earlier mentioned, there are many types of leafy items to choose from, availability dependent upon the growing season. The following is a list of just some of them. Kale (Lacinato, Red Russian, purple, curly green), spinach, chard (red, green and rainbow), red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce (red and green), Boston lettuce (also known as Butter lettuce, red and green), celery greens, beet greens, radicchio, endive, frisée, escarole, dandelion greens, Mizuna greens, arugula, watercress, collard greens, bok choy (adult and baby bok choy, green and purple) and cabbage (red and green).

Green leafy vegetables can be easily incorporated into any diet simply by way of salads, soups, smoothies, juices, wraps, and even transformed into chips. In addition, green leafy herbs such as parsley, cilantro, mint and others are also wonderful to include as they have many healing properties and essential vitamins and minerals. Cilantro helps to remove heavy metals from the body while parsley is a powerful anti-carcinogen and great for cardiovascular health. And mint is excellent for the digestion.

Isn’t nature amazing?!