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?!


Raw Food Recipes by Marcy Denise: Abracabrassica

The brassica family is a powerful one, magical even! Its members are some of the most potent protectors from common degenerative diseases. In addition to cabbage and kale, also included are brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi, among others—each versatile and delicious. There are countless ways to enjoy cabbage and kale, and I often indulge in both of them. Abracabrassica is an interesting twist on a basic green mix. It can certainly be enjoyed as is, although tasty as well when eaten alongside a creamy avocado for added dimension. And if it is allowed to marinate for a longer period of time, to soften more and intensify in flavor, it can be creatively included as an ingredient inside of a wrap or as a sandwich topping.

Green cabbage and kale are great sources of vitamins K and C, kale in particular also being a good source of iron. Both cabbage and kale are exceptional for detoxifying the liver. Cilantro is excellent for aiding the body in removing heavy metals. It wonderfully pairs with the lime and ginger, and lends a lovely high flavor note to the mix. If you adore cilantro as I do, use the whole leaves instead of coarsely chopped leaves for more taste explosion in each bite. Goji berries are exceptionally high in vitamin C and contain important trace minerals including selenium, iron, copper and zinc. Their flavor is a cross between dried cranberries and raisins, their somewhat mild sweetness a nice complement to the tartness of the Granny Smith apple, and their flavor a nice combination with the orange blossom essence in the vinaigrette. The unaltered zing of the Granny Smith apple adds brightness and plays well with the marinated components. The vinaigrette is punchy though lightweight with a subtle underlying sweetness, and very versatile beyond this recipe. It can be further altered with fresh herbs and various spices, wherever your imagination leads you. Enjoy!

‘Abracabrassica’

A beautifully simple, flavorful and naturally detoxifying mix.

Salad Ingredients:

1 cup green cabbage leaves, stemmed, cut into a thin chiffonade and firmly packed
1/3 cup Lacinato kale, stemmed and deveined, cut into a thin chiffonade and firmly packed
1/2 cup Granny Smith apple, julienned on a mandoline (skin left on)
1/4 cup cilantro, stemmed, coarsely chopped and firmly packed
1 tablespoon dried goji berries

Place into a medium bowl and toss together the cabbage, kale and goji berries with two tablespoons of ‘Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette’ (recipe below). Allow them to marinate for 15 minutes, periodically tossing again to ensure that they remain completely coated with the vinaigrette. As they marinate, the cabbage and kale will soften and the goji berries will plump up slightly. Once the cabbage, kale and goji berries have been marinated, then add the apple and cilantro, gently toss and serve.

Abracabrassica is best enjoyed immediately.

‘Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette’

3 tablespoons cold-pressed sesame oil
4 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon raw orange blossom honey
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
1/16 teaspoon pink crystal salt (fine grind)

Place into a small bowl and whisk together all of the ingredients until emulsified.

Store any leftover vinaigrette in an airtight container inside of the refrigerator and use within 3 to 5 days.


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 roughly amount to one comfortable serving, or two small servings. Double or triple the recipe as needed.

Abracabrassica is meant to be enjoyed while fresh tasting and still moderately crisp, hence the short marination of 15 minutes. However, as mentioned above, it can also be eaten after longer marination. Keep in mind the longer the components marinate, the more intensified their flavors. Intended use and personal preference will help to determine the best process.

In the above ingredients, I noted 1 cup green cabbage leaves, stemmed, cut into a thin chiffonade and firmly packed and 1/3 cup Lacinato kale, stemmed and deveined, cut into a thin chiffonade and firmly packed. The thinner the slices the easier on the palate, especially for those who are not yet won over by the often seemingly potent flavors of green leafy vegetables. I also prefer to remove the veins and hard stems to keep the overall texture light and increase the likelihood of a pleasant and welcoming mouthfeel. Plus, I just love the technique and presentation, and use it often. If you create thicker slices and/or leave intact the veins and stems, the overall flavor and texture will be in some measure different, though not horribly. The mix may also require longer marination due to the increased thickness.

In the above ingredients, I noted 1/2 cup Granny Smith apple, julienned on a mandoline (skin left on). If you do not have a mandoline, you can create thin matchstick-like slices by hand using a sharp knife. First create apple slices 1/8-inch thick. Then layer together the apple slices and slice them into 1/8-inch thick sticks. A hand-held julienne peeler can also be utilized.


Raw Food Recipes by Marcy Denise: Turmeric Teaser

Turmeric aids in detoxifying the liver, boosts overall immunity, is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and may also help stave off cancer. Belonging to the ginger family, its beautiful earthy and slightly citrusy, peppery flavor pairs well with countless types of recipes. I love adding fresh turmeric to various homemade juice concoctions. Plus, its golden hue is just gorgeous!

‘Turmeric Teaser’

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A wonderfully immune-boosting, detoxifying blend.

1-inch by 2-inch piece of fresh turmeric root (skin left on)
3 medium ripe Red Delicious apples, cored and quartered (skin left on)
1/2 of 1 medium Garden cucumber, cut into spears (skin left on)

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


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 24 ounces of juice, depending on how much liquid your turmeric root piece, apples and cucumber 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 3 medium Red Delicious apples, cored and quartered (skin left on). A medium Red Delicious apple would equate to an apple at least 2 and 1/2 inches in width and 2 and 1/2 inches in height. 1/2 of 1 medium Garden cucubmer, cut into spears (skin left on): A medium Garden cucumber would equate to a cucumber at least 2 inches in width and 5 inches in length.

Save the leftover pulp for adding to soups or as an ingredient in making breads or crackers. 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: Cucumber Cooler

Cucumbers are excellent for body hydration and overall skin health, and are also wonderful for flushing toxins from the body. Pineapples are high in bromelain which greatly helps with digestion. Cilantro is excellent for aiding the body in removing heavy metals. I love adding ginger root to many of my juices, not only for its anti-inflammatory properties but also because it’s greatly immune boosting. Lemon peel purifies the blood vessels, detoxifies the skin, helps lower cholesterol, and has components that fight cancer. A powerful combination!

‘Cucumber Cooler’

Revitalizing blend rich in antioxidants, perfect for a hot Summer day.

half of 1 large Garden cucumber, cut into spears (skin left on)
half of 1 medium to large pineapple, rind removed, core left intact
half of 1 small lemon (peel left on)
1/3 cup cilantro, stems left intact, tightly packed
1 large Golden Delicious apple, cored and quartered (skin left on)
1-inch piece of fresh ginger root (skin left on)

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


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 cucumber, pineapple, lemon, cilantro, apple and ginger root piece 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 half of 1 large Garden cucumber, cut into spears (skin left on). A large Garden cucumber would equate to a cucumber at least 2 inches in width and 8 inches in length. Half of 1 medium to large pineapple, rind removed, core left intact: Pineapple types vary as does their size. An average-sized pineapple would equate to at least 5 inches in width and 7 inches in height (excluding the green top). Half of 1 small lemon (peel left on): A small lemon would equate to at least 2 inches in width and 2 inches in height. 1 large Golden Delicious apple, cored and quartered (skin left on): A large Golden Delicious apple would equate to an apple at least 3 inches in width and 3 inches in height.

Save the leftover pulp for adding to soups or as an ingredient in making breads or crackers. 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: Almond Milk

Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium and phosphorus as well as heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Though referred to as a nut, they are botanically characterized as a fruit, and are a cousin of the apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach and plum. Almond is just one of several types of plant-based milk that I enjoy. I have an affinity for Brazil Nut Milk, though I also like pumpkin seed and hemp seed. There is also hazelnut, cashew, pecan and sunflower seed among others, not to mention the various blends that can be created—all of which are wonderful additions to smoothies, soups, puddings, dressings, sauces and so much more.

‘Almond Milk’

Creamy, simple and versatile.

3 cups pure water
1 cup raw almonds, soaked and sprouted (preferably one full day)
1/2 of one very large date, pitted
1/16 teaspoon pink crystal salt (fine grind)

Using a high-speed blender, first blend together the almonds and water until creamy. With either a tightly woven cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve, separate the almond pulp from the liquid and pour the milk back into the blender. Add the pitted date and salt and process until the date has been completely broken down. Separate the date fiber from the liquid and pour the almond milk into your choice of airtight container. The finished milk should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 3 to 5 days.


A few tips…

Double or triple the recipe as needed.

The almonds were measured after soaking.

In general, soaking nuts allows for greater availability of nutrients and less impact on digestion. Since almonds are fairly hard and have a pretty tough skin, I prefer to soak them for one full day (24 hours).

After one day of soaking, the almonds should sprout. If so, there will be a tiny white nub on the tip of each almond. While the ‘nub’ will not grow into a visible long tail, it does grow inward and qualifies as a ‘sprouted almond’.

Depending on the type of blender you have, the exact length of time needed to process the almonds will vary. When you first begin the blending process, the almonds will cause loud rattling, and as they become pulverized the rattling will lessen. It may take a bit of trial and error to gauge how smooth the pulp should be. If the almonds process for too long, the pulp will be superfine and require more time and effort to strain. However, if the almonds do not process long enough, the milk could end up watery instead of creamy. After you have made Almond Milk a few times, you will get the hang of it.

This milk is meant to be mildly sweet. In the list of ingredients, I noted 1/2 of one very large date, pitted. 1/2 of one very large date is equal to about 1/2 of one tablespoon. I chose to freely list the date to make it easier, but you can go with the 1/2 tablespoon measurement if you prefer.

If your dates are not soft and pliable, you can soak them in a small amount pure water, just enough to cover the dates, for fifteen minutes or longer until they plump up enough for ease in blending. If you store your dates in the refrigerator, they will become stiff from the cold but will usually somewhat soften up after being left out at room temperature for a while. If they still seem hard, then definitely utilize the soak method.

To ensure a silky texture that I prefer when making nut (and seed) milk, I use a tightly woven cheesecloth to separate the almond milk from the nut pulp as well as the date fiber. However, a fine-mesh sieve is also a good option.

You may notice the separation of nut fat from the water. Not to worry, that is completely normal. Just give the almond milk a gentle shake before you use it.

While it would certainly be easier to blend all of the ingredients in one go instead of through a two-step process, I prefer the latter as a plain, unseasoned nut (or seed) milk pulp is much more versatile and consistent.

The leftover almond milk pulp can be either used immediately or reserved for later. If you are not able to utilize the almond milk pulp right away, you have a few choices as to how to store it for future use. It can be stored in an airtight container and kept inside of the refrigerator for one to two days, or it can be kept inside of the freezer and thawed when needed. For long-term storage, the leftover almond milk pulp can be dehydrated until completely dry, ground into a fine flour, stored in an airtight container and kept inside of the refrigerator.

Use the leftover almond milk pulp for making breads, crackers, cookies, burgers, wrap fillings, etc. Using the pulp instead of ground whole nuts lends a wonderfully light texture to your creations.


Raw Food Recipes by Marcy Denise: Fauxplait

‘Fauxplait’

I originally created this recipe in the Summer of 2007, and to this day I still enjoy its simplicity.

Four basic nutritious ingredients transformed into a succulent concoction that’s surprisingly reminiscent of yoghurt and full of essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants—a good-for-you indulgence!

1 and 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled, medium chopped and tightly packed
1 cup young coconut flesh, small dice and tightly packed (the thicker the flesh the better)
3 tablespoons raw Tupelo honey
1/8 teaspoon grey sea salt (fine grind)

Using a high-speed blender, blend together all of the ingredients until creamy, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides and help the mixture turn over. If you have a Vitamix or other type of powerful blender, the end result should be virtually seedless with a silky texture. Fauxplait can be served immediately or chilled for a couple of hours to fully set prior to serving. Fresh strawberries make the perfect garnish, though dried raw coconut flakes and fresh mint are also wonderful choices (as shown in the above photos).


A few tips…

The listed ingredients roughly amount to 16 ounces, enough for three comfortable servings or six small servings. Double or triple the recipe as needed.

Fauxplait isn’t overly sweet, however if your strawberries are quite tart, you may need to increase the amount of honey to help balance it out. And, of course, if your strawberries are pretty sweet, you can decrease the amount of honey. Keeping the mixture ‘just sweet’ was my original intention, but it’s really going to come down to your individual preference. Something helpful: Reserve the strawberry tops for adding to smoothies or salad mixes. Those precious greens also provide essential vitamins and minerals. Any unused strawberry tops can be stored in an airtight container inside of the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

Exceptionally high in vitamin C, strawberries are a great source of antioxidants as well as potent anti-inflammatory properties. To help limit your exposure to harmful pesticide residues often associated with conventional produce, try to purchase organically grown strawberries as often as possible.

If you find that the young coconut flesh is a bit too thick to easily process, add a small amount of young coconut water, a teaspoon at a time, to help loosen things up. Be mindful that the more liquid you add, the thinner your mixture may be in the end. Fauxplait is meant to be viscous rather than runny.

Young coconuts will vary from one to next in how much flesh is found inside. Some are quite young to where the flesh can be akin to jelly, some with flesh starting to solidify but still quite soft, and others more mature with flesh that is thick but pliable. Opening each one is a surprise. Since there is really no perfectly accurate way to definitely be sure exactly how much flesh is inside of each young coconut, it may be wise to purchase two to three at a time, just in case. Discovering there is not enough of an ingredient in the midst of recipe prep might not be so fun, though I will admit from past experience that it can result in an ‘exciting’ adventure!

Young coconuts can be found at International Markets as well as some health food stores. They may occasionally be found with their green shell still intact; however, they will most likely be sold with their outer shell removed and the white ‘husk’ found underneath visibly displayed. The white ‘husk’ should be smooth and not dimpled as if drying out and free of any strange pigments. Most young coconuts will have a mild and sweet flavor, though some can be rather bland, and some even a little bit salty. But they should not taste bitter.

Coconuts in general are rich in fiber, potassium and phosphorus as well as lauric acid which provides antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties. The healthy fats in coconuts promote digestive healing and wonderfully boost your metabolism. Coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes, perfect for rehydrating after vigorous exercise.


Raw Food Recipes by Marcy Denise: Superfood Chocolate-Banana Pudding

‘Superfood Chocolate-Banana Pudding’

A quick, easy, fun and nutritious way to indulge in raw chocolate while also obtaining extra vitamins and minerals.

Best enjoyed freshly prepared and served at room temperature.

A portion or two of this intensely-flavored pudding can readily quell even the strongest of chocolate cravings!

2 level teaspoons raw cacao powder
1 level teaspoon raw maca powder
1 level tablespoon raw lucuma powder
1 level tablespoon raw coconut butter
pinch of pink crystal salt
1/2 cup ripe banana, tightly packed
1 ounce pure water

There are a few ways to make this pudding, which are either by using a food processor or blender, a mortar and pestle, or a bowl. Utilizing a food processor or blender will result in a very smooth consistency (as shown above in the first picture). Creating the pudding with a mortar and pestle or a bowl will result in a tapioca-like texture. You can choose whichever method you prefer. If I am short on time or simply want the pudding to be satin-like, I will process all of the ingredients in a food processor until creamy, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides and help the mixture turn over. And if I instead feel like taking a somewhat rustic and alchemical route, then I will use a mortar and pestle. I present Superfood Chocolate-Banana Pudding either in dessert cups or very small bowls, garnished in the middle with thinly sliced banana.

Following are instructions for how I make this pudding with a mortar and pestle.

Place in a small- or medium-sized mortar the cacao, maca, lucuma, coconut butter and salt.

Using the pestle, combine everything until a thick paste is formed.

Next, incorporate the water, small increments at a time, and thoroughly mix until creamy.

Separately, in a small or medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork until a semi-smooth pulp is formed.

In most cases, puddings are quite silky, but part of the intent with this technique is to retain some texture for an interesting mouthfeel.

You can either transfer the chocolate mixture to the bowl of mashed banana, or add the banana pulp to the chocolate mixture in the mortar.

As you can tell by the following picture, I chose the latter option.

There’s just something magical about creating concoctions in a mortar!

Simply fold together the banana pulp and chocolate mixture until well blended.

Once blended, the pudding should have a tapioca-like texture (as shown below).

Following are instructions for how I make this pudding from start to finish in a bowl.

Place in a small or medium bowl the cacao, maca, lucuma, coconut butter and salt. Using the back of a spoon, combine everything until a thick paste is formed. Next, with a fork, mash the banana into the mixture until it becomes as smooth as possible. Last, incorporate the water, small increments at a time, and thoroughly mix until well blended. Again, the texture should be tapioca-like.

Blending the cacao, maca, lucuma, coconut butter, and salt first ensures that all of the core ingredients are properly combined. Mashing the banana into the paste nicely fluffs up the mixture and allows for a wonderful depth of flavor. For this particular method, it is easiest to incorporate the water as a final step.


A few tips…

The listed ingredients amount to roughly 6 ounces of Superfood Chocolate-Banana Pudding, enough for one medium serving or two very small servings.

In the list of ingredients, I noted 1 tablespoon raw coconut butter. The coconut butter used in this recipe consists of coconut flesh blended with coconut oil, not to be confused with solidified coconut oil as the term ‘coconut butter’ had suggested in past years. Coconut butter is rather concentrated but does not give an oily aftertaste. It is actually reminiscent of creamy white chocolate, perfect for desserts or for enjoying straight.

If your coconut butter is rather firm, the mixture may bead up a little. That is perfectly all right. The coconut butter should soften during the hand blending process. However, you can choose to first gently melt the coconut butter by immersing the sealed jar into a bowl of very warm water, periodically opening the jar to stir the contents.

Overripe bananas do not work well for this recipe as their concentrated flavor overwhelms the other ingredients. Bananas that have just become ripe and have small- and/or medium-sized brown spots throughout the surface of the peel are perfect (example shown below). Bananas with peels covered in large brown spots or that are completely brown are too ripe for this recipe.

In the list of ingredients, I noted 1 ounce pure water. 1 ounce is equal to 2 tablespoons. This pudding is meant to be viscous, but if you prefer yours to be thinner, feel free to add extra water a tablespoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached. Keep in mind that too much extra liquid could dilute the end result.


Tidbits…

Cacao powder is produced from raw cacao beans native to Central and South America. Almost all of the cacao powders currently found on the market are created by pressing raw cacao beans at low temperatures, separating the fat (cacao butter) from the bean. Cacao powders can also be created by simply grinding raw cacao beans into a fine powder; however, the flavor and texture will greatly vary from cacao powders created by removing the fat. Raw cacao is very high in magnesium and sulfur and is one of the most antioxidant-rich and nutrient-dense foods known.

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. Maca is an adaptogen, a hormone balancer, and an excellent source of minerals, B vitamins and protein.

Lucuma powder is produced from a South American fruit that is low-glycemic with a flavor reminiscent of a maple-flavored biscuit. Lucuma is a great source of carbohydrates as well as fiber and iron.