Category Archives: foodies

An August Fig Salad

I admit it: This is tImagehe first summer, and first time I have had fresh figs!  Dried figs and I are very well acquainted, but fresh figs I had never had the pleasure until now!  I’m going to make an assumption that I am not alone on this one!  I have the fortune of not only having fresh, sun ripened, organic figs, but courtesy of a dear friend, I get to pick them off the tree myself! Right here in Baltimore!

Figs are one of those fruits that surprise you every time you bite into one.  The textures–smooth, yet crunchy; the tastes–sweet, yet bright.  And the colors–purples, reds, yellows.  Each one is a gift!

It’s like I’m instantly being transported to the garden of cleopatra or something–fresh figs, raw, unpasteurized goat cheese, crunchy walnuts.  Absolutely delicious, and takes my raw experience to a whole new level of simple enjoyment!

Cleopatrs’s Salad

  • A bed of arugula, dressed in lemon and good balsamic vinegar
  • 6 fresh figs
  • A handful of salted walnuts
  • Raw, Unpasteurized goats milk cheese
  • A drizzle of honey
  • A spring or two of mint

YUM! ENJOY!!

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Cooked and Delicious–The Raw Escape

And am I still full 5 hours later? Absolutely.  I don’t know, maybe I was inspired by yesterday’s vegetarian feast I prepared and resisted eating even a bite.  Maybe it was the hot/cold weird weather today.  I choose to think I was just in the mood for something…else.  ImageAnd by something else, I mean the best salad an omnivore/pesquetarian could eat!

I guess it was maybe 60% raw; it still had my standby’s: sauerkraut, pickles, heirloom tomatoes, avocado, massaged kale.  But THEN!  I added about a 1/4 c. of cooked quinoa from yesterday, along with (wait for it….!) a can of good smoked trout.  Now, truth be told I did give pause before adding the trout.  I thought to myself, probably the quinoa is good enough, and I should take it easy.  In light of that, I even went to add in some mushrooms.  Even opened the package.  But then I thought, I do HAVE the can of trout, really good trout, here already.  I don’t really want it to go bad, and I will want to go back to raw after this meal…so while i’m at it with the quinoa…and that was all the justification I needed!  In it went.  Along with some plump golden raisins and figs.

It was strange! The whole thing was very strange.  Strangely delicious, that is.  I mean, biting into quinoa without the just sprouted crunch.  And fish?! Forget about it! I haven’t had a piece of fish in months!  And this, from the fish-a-day queen of past.  I enjoyed every single bite of that salad and I’m glad I did it.  BUT.  I.  Am.  Still.  Full!  I don’t feel light on my feet at all, and come to think of it, right after I finished the salad, I could EASILY have taken a nap.  Or really just gone to bed.  Cooked food coma.  I fought that off, but wow!  What a difference cooked food makes.

So in the end, was it worth it?  I’m just not sure.  The jury is out.  I mean it was delicious.  But I feel awful now!  I know (I hope) I will feel better in the morning, but sheesh!  Really?!  I contemplated keeping my cooked excursion a secret.  Afterall, with all my raw fuss and muss as of late, it is a bit odd that I would randomly eat fish and grains!  But I did it tonight, and though no time soon, I’ll do it again, and again.  It’s the beauty of balance.  And I feel good about listening to what my body was craving, and then healthily and quickly responding to it!  Who knows, if I would have let the feeling go on this post could have been about mashed potatoes and fried chicken! HA! Ew 🙂  Anyway, that’s my story of a deliciously fishy salad (that I wish I would have had olives and capers to add to!)..

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Cooked Food, Oh How I’ve Missed You So…

And even though not a morsel of you did I eat, I had a lot of fun creating you!  I digress.  I’m  horrible riddler!  What I’m getting at is that for the first time in about two months, I actually turned on the stove with the purpose of cooking food!  I used my beloved crepe pan, the one that I spent about five years perfectly seasoning; I used my lovely royal blue Le Crueset grill pan, and even just using my old Sitram saucepan was its own cheap little thrill.  So why?  And why on earth didn’t I eat what came out of them!

Voted Baltimore’s best sandwich, and a long standing favorite for its innovative menu chock full of smoked goods and awesome salads, Neopol Savory Smokery, has asked me to work with them in integrating some healthy, alternative clean food options.  A great honor, and so much fun!  So tonight was the sampling night, where I used all my tools of past.  The ingredients I decided to work with are your clean food staples for the most part, but in true Neopol form, creative in execution: Quinoa, Kale, Mung Beans and Brown Rice.  Happily, creativity has actually become a requisite in this area.  Deliciously, many restaurants these days are seeing the benefit of having quinoa on their menu’s, not to mention the now nearly ubiquitous raw kale salad, which of course delights me most!

So little by little, we’re raising the bar on restaurant expectations.  Owners are getting it now!  We want whole grains.  We want clean food, and especially with our meats and organic produce.  Speaking of produce, we want that too!  And lots of it.  And not smothered in cream and bacon.  We like colors, and we expect to see  beautiful presentations.  But with all opportunity, of course there is a challenge, that I am now learning about first hand: With great food, comes great cost.  Organic is more than conventional.  Free range is more than caged.  Whole is more than refined.  So we’re figuring it out.  And maybe that it’s certainly an issue many places are facing, there’s still another burgeoning opportunity: Did I hear someone say co-op??

Anyway, of all the things I made, delicious indeed, there was one that I, little ole raw me, loved best:

Jinji’s Zucchini Hummus

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 c tahini
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T parsley
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • 1 t cumin

Blend it up! Enjoy.

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The Art of the Food Boycott

Caution. Full disclosure, foodie guidance strongly advised. Wait. First, would a foodist be one who is a lover of food or adverse to food? Unrelated, but depending on the answer, will become relevant later.
Ok, so here’s what. I have recently, inside of the past 2 years, undergone a food makeover. True to science, my taste buds really did change! Part of my repertoire now, which never were before are tomatoes (woohoo! Heirlooms are back in season! Just had an amazing ‘green zebra’ salad tonight), olives, mushrooms (now nearly synonymous with meat, and how I ever lived without them I’ll never know), all kinds of fish (sardines, especially), an really anything else that ever had a bad wrap–sauerkraut, beets, pickles, etc. I think the only thing left that I haven’t gotten used to yet is okra. I just can’t seem to get those little hairy suckers down. Ew.
Anyway, just like I may have jumped the gun a little too quickly on some delicious foods, I MAY have jumped the gun on some restaurants too. Keyword here: MAY. I love a good boycott and I love a good fight. Reasons for these have included, poor service, unsanitary conditions, repeated bad food (nothing worse than an unfulfilling meal, i.e wasted calories), or bad energy (yes, I require smiling faces of the people who interact wit my food! Energy transfer is real, people!).
Enter Liquid Earth. It’s on Aliceanna Street in downtown Baltimore. It’s one of maybe 3 all vegan spots in the city, with a great raw menu to boot! Delicious. Caring. Worth the money and the drive. I say all this with my tail between my legs of course! Liquid Earth was on my boycott list for just long enough for me to question..”why am I not eating there, again?” I never did think of the answer until a friend reminded me, “it was too hippie”. POOR. Shame! And I’m sorry.
But just like my food tastes matured, so have my expectations of a restaurant! I didn’t value the earthy, grounded, whole ingredients, slow food nature of a place back then, like I do now! I mean for instance, look at the creativity of this menu!

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Bee pollen! Who uses bee pollen! Amazing. Anyway, I am reviewing my boycott list, and checking it twice. I need some quality control here!
In the meantime, I have some lost time to make up for with my new friends at Liquid Earth.

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My Old Friend Curly Kale

So the long and short of it is this. One day I spontaneously decided that curly kale had no place in my kitchen. Makes no sense? Really it was the precariousness of the curl. I felt it was dictating the texture of anything I prepared it with. Still makes no sense? Well, I felt like everywhere I turned, on every grand and feeble attempt alike of a raw kale salad creation, there was the curly kale. No? How about that there’s no easy way to chiffonade curly kale, so you always wind up with pieces too big to wilt properly. Still not? Yeah, well to me either! And if it was not for the beautiful purple curly kale at my health food store today, I might still be going on with the ludicrousy above.
Honestly, how dare I, a raw foodie foodist ban any veggie from my own kitchen–least of all the staple of all raw food cuisine. But, just as honestly, I have been a mono-dinosaur kale-gamist for the last…six months? Ridiculous. Especially seeing this magnificence that I created tonight!

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So in light of my unfounded prejudice, I decided to give curly kale a triumphant return with some of its old friends:

Ultimate Kale Salad
2 stalks of curly kale, purple if you can find it!
1/4 c sauerkraut (I like “bubbies”)
1 large pickle, diced
1/2 avocado, chopped
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 small beet, diced
1 portobello mushroom, sliced
Handful golden raisins
Sprinkle of pumpkin seeds
Sprinkle of almonds, slivered
S/P + hot sauce
Braggs liquid aminos
Braggs apple cider vinegar
Lemon

1. Tear the kale into small pieces, and aggressively massage with sea salt and lemon juice.
2. Combine mushroom slices with a teaspoon each braggs aminos and vinegar, lemon juice.
3. Combine everything together, add hot sauce to taste, ENJOY.

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Raw in the Right Direction

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Take a good look at this salad. It’s sitting in the lap of a person who probably never made a salad as head chef before. He may have done some washing or chopping here or there, but this is the first time he planned, shopped for, organized and executed a multi-ingredient salad. What’s in it? You may ask. To be honest, I’m not quite sure–but I know it’s delicious.
One of those times (I imagine) where your child makes something, anything, and it’s the best thing ever. My point is, going Raw makes a person do things. Rather, inspiresa person to do things. In this case, inspiration to look in the fridge, pull some things out (that may previously have had no business in raw form in their cooked life), and make it happen! I’m nostalgically reminded of the first time I ate raw corn right off the cob! Or when I made zucchini fettuccine with some sort of tahini sauce. Or, and I still shudder to think it, but the blitzkrieg i had the first time I opened a coconut. Ha! Anyway, like the salad above, it wasn’t the prettiest thing in the room, but in all honesty, is there anything sweeter than satisfaction of making it happen?
All this is about my Dad, of course! So proud of him for going into unchartered waters in the first place, then navigating himself to the point of sitting down with a multi-colored, multi-textured, thought out salad. And after his 30+ day juice feast, he deserved it!

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Raw Comfort Food

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Sometimes a little raw comfort food is all you need after a too long day! See the beauty about raw food is the creativity in it all. Especially when it comes to desserts, it’s super hard to make a mistake! I mean, it’s all fair game, and is somehow always completely delicious: cacao (always cacao!), coconut shreds, dried fruit, raw honey, frozen bananas, nut butter…I could go on and on! Really, whatever you’ve got that looks particularly happy–throw it in! And to boot, since you’re never putting sugar into the mix, you can feel good about getting a health boost at the same time.

Enjoy!

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Perfect Summer Raw Dinner

ImageMost wonderful, most refreshing, most healthy, most RAW soup ever!  I decided tonight once and for all that for a sweet, firm, cold chunk of watermelon, I will kill or die.  I mean honestly, is there anything better?! On a 100 degree Baltimore summer day, I challenge anyone to convince me of a better oasis.

Jinji’s Watermelon Gazpacho

  • 3 cups of watermelon, pureed
  • 2 cups of watermelon, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 small jalepeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • A huge handful of cilantro, chopped

So you might ask, what could possibly follow such a lovely first course?  I’m on this Ayurvedic path of blending flavors; being sure to include elements of spiciness, pungency, sweetness, astringency, bitterness and sourness.  So the heat and sweetness were taken care of in the luscious watermelon soup above.  I decided for dinner, I would go raw falafel with a macadamia feta, fermented greens (cheers to BOA!), pickled green beans, tomatoes, cashews and figs.  The falafel is most exciting!  I made it with pistachios, carrots, onions, mushrooms and spices, then rolled it in hemp seeds and dehydrated them for a while.  YUM.  YUM.  YUM.  And the macadamia feta?  Forget about it.  Freaking good.  Image

Macadamia Feta “Cheese”

  • 1 cup macadamia nuts (soaked overnight)
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • A little parsley
  • Sea Salt
  • Turmeric

Ahhhhh, summertime 🙂

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A New Raw World! Fermentation.

ImageI have been treading very carefully in my approach to this parallel Raw universe.  Well, first I will start in explaining a new lesson in raw foods that I am just now seeing.  So, nearly a month ago to the date I started my dad on a 30 day juice feast.  He’s surprised himself most, and inspired everyone around him in the dedication, commitment and courage he’s shown in sticking with the plan and avoiding temptation into the cooked abyss.  Anyway, as he is now completing his journey, and beginning a new of a plant based, whole food diet, he’s already done a little shopping–happy to be able to go into the center aisles of the grocery again!

I won’t go into the brand of it, but one of his purchases, in all things earnest and true, was a raw energy bar.  In his excitement to (A) be able to eat solid food, and in his apparent thoughtfulness in adhering to the specific ease-out, raw regimen I provided him, he dug right in to his new bar!  It immediately made him feel sick, even in all its rawness.  This brings me to my point.  In every food lifestyle–vegan, vegetarian, raw, SAD–there is junk!  This particular bar was laden with agave, and two other sweeteners, not to mention protein additives.  Lesson:  Even though it’s raw, it doesn’t have to be healthy.  You always must read labels and investigate, no matter what your lifestyle choice.

Anyway, the parallel raw universe.  Yes.  And featured in the top half of my dinner plate above is a PERFECT specimen of live, raw fermentation.  WOW!  Move over cucumbers (pickles)–fermentation has a new name.  AnImaged ironically, that name is exactly anything you want it to be.  Given the right brine, and time to wait until the perfect taste is achieved, you can ferment anything!  This happens to be a mixture of greens.  SO.  Good.  Salty, crunchy, sour, sweet, pungent, astringent–very ayervedic–all in one bite.  I chose to top some dehydrated Manna bread with the mixture, and am sure it will be my staple for every meal of the day until I run out and try something else.  Lest I forget, let me give credit where credit is due!  BAO Raw Slaw.  A great example of packaged raw goods that is NOT junk and is completely delicious.  At first sniff and bite, I knew I needed to learn more about fermentation and in quick order.  Aside from the taste, the nutritional benefits of fermented live foods is unmatched!  Let’s all say “probiotics” together! Amazing!

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Perfect Mid-Afternoon Raw Snack

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I’m so into Raw snack breaks this week! I have found myself re-fashioning my meals and meal times based on my new schedule. And I think it’s important to share, because at some point, we all will find ourselves in a position where we have to be the catalyst for dietary changes in our own lives. I say catalyst, because if we don’t actively participate in these changes and make conscious decisions, the results can be extreme and negative.
For instance, say you take on a more demanding schedule that does not allow you to be at home for meals anymore. Common. So you start eating on the run, eating from grab & go’s and no longer taking accountability for what you are putting in your body. Results? Skin break outs, weight gain, depression, and more colds.
The fact of the matter is, especially (and in a very short list of company) in America, it’s socially unacceptable to sit down, take sufficient breaks in the day, or even give yourself time to consider good food choices. Luckily there does seem to be a growing popularity and even competition among workplaces to offer work-life balance programs giving employees freedom and time to have a higher quality life, and therefore nutrition.
It’s hard, but the only true answer to clean eating inside a hectic life is discipline and prioritization. Pack your lunch. Be prepared with snacks. And make a habit of eating around the same time each day–you will be surprised at how quickly your colleagues catch on…and even become inspired!
I digress. As for me! I’m spoiled now. I have the fortune of flexibility even inside of my hectic new world. So today my snack of a couple walnut stuffed figs (YUM!!) came beautifully after a delicious, energizing juice:

Mid-Afternoon Energy Juice
1 red beet
1 fuji apple
2 celery stalks
3 carrots
1 handful of parsley
Juice of a grapefruit

Yum!

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