Category Archives: menus

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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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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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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Crisis Averted: Food & Friends

Healthy eating, and raw food in particular can be isolating! Anyone who is on the path to improved health knows that it can be a lonely one.  What do you say when colleagues and friends want to go out to dinner at the grease pit around the corner that you USED to go to all the time?  What do you do when family, the people who have been cooking for you for years, maybe even your whole life wants to make you your favorite: Macaroni and cheese…and not the “cheeze” kind.  Or when your friend saves you a slice of their double chocolate chocolate birthday cake…and it’s not cacao! My point is, there are situations that come up in everyday life when you’re trying to upgrade your eating habits that can be difficult, create social awkwardness, or the worst–hurt other people’s feelings! It’s enough to throw you into crisis mode.

So what to do.  Well, unfortunately I haven’t found an answer to that one yet.  Oh! I thought of another one, that might be the most difficult of all–when your significant other isn’t ready to make the changes you are, or may not be interested at all.  So now, not only are you that person at work, who all the sudden doesn’t want to go to happy hour, and eats along at the lunch table, but you’re also eating alone at the dinner table too.  Anyway, there may not be an easy antidote to the stresses that come along with changes.  But there IS hope.

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This is no ordinary salad!  Let’s remember the essence of why you are eating the way you are.  To be healthy.  Vibrant.  Energetic.  Youthful.  While I can’t promise there won’t be naysayers along the way, I can promise you that for every naysayer, there will be someone you get to inspire.  Someone who loves what you are doing, and not only wants to support you, but accepts the challenge of joining you.

And, interestingly, these people might come from unexpected places! Thinking back to Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and the truck driver.  Who would have ever thought from the looks of him that he would become a friend, enthusiast and promoter of the live foods movement.

Back to the salad.  I love to make food, and always have.  But I have missed so dearly going to someone’s house and having food prepared for me!  Delicious things, that I don’t have to question the ingredients of, and I just bathe my soul and my senses in.  I have always believed that sharing food that you make with your own hands and energy is of the greatest expressions of love and kindness.  ImageSo while the salad was AHHHH MAZING, the raw zucchini lasagna that followed was out. of. sight.  Knowing from first hand experience the effort and time (ohhh the TIME.  Not to mention the dishes) that goes into making raw casserole type dishes, that this one was waiting for me, done, beautiful and delicious was a game changer and beyond any expectations I had.  In fact, it made up for every person who excluded me from a social invite, for each time I couldn’t go to someone’s house, and for all the times I compromised to eat my mother’s this and that.

A special meal indeed!  I’m only sorry there aren’t any pictures of the raw macadamia brownies that followed!  But cacao has a very short half life around me 🙂

Thanks friend 🙂

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Unsung Foods of Adolescence

And I’m not sure who to credit with this one! And though I have a long life yet to live, I will be forever resentful of my cherry-less, coconut-less, olive-less youth. Well I blame myself for the olives. My parents, they tried! But I would hear nor taste nothing of an olive. But let’s explore the cherries and coconuts, and see if we can’t unearth the root of their unsung delicious lyrics.

Cherries: plump, red, sweet, tart, and a delicious sign of summer. Minus the pit (but most good fruit has seeds and/or pits…read: summer peaches), cherries seem to have all the qualities any child or teen would adore. For me, I think my mistaken impression of them started at Friendly’s (are those still around??). Yep, the maraschino cherry. Not red, but a neon red. Not the diverse tastes of sweetness, tartness and sour, but just sugar. And not even sugar, because after all who doesn’t like sugar, but that syrupy aftertaste sugar. I don’t know, maybe I just never had a good quality maraschino cherry, if such a thing even exists! All I know is that the one I had was traumatic, and robbed me of a youth filled with delicious cherries! But, I’m making up for all that now. Tis the season!

How about coconuts? Until recently, you couldn’t dare me to eat coconut. So where did this scarring begin? I suspect somewhere in the aisles of a corner store hidden in the good old Almond Joy. Or was it an Almond Joy-esque bon bon? Anyway, that hyper sweetened coconut paste.. Or coconut “flavored” paste, gave rise to a couple decades worth of coconut avoidance. Now, eating raw and learning more about superfoods and the natural delicious taste of coconuts (even in all their omega 6ness…more on that later!), they are among my favorites! And I can’t bear the thought of a chocolate or muesli without them!

So as we scuttle through the food labyrinth that we exist in, before writing off foods we may have learned to dislike growing up–especially raw, unrefined and unprocessed ones–let’s give them another go. In our own ways, without the commercialization and without that lovely SAD influence.

Ode to Cherries and Coconut Smoothie
2 cups cherries, pitted
1 cup water
1/4 c hemp seeds
2 T unsweetened coconut shreds
2 T cacao nibs
1 T raw honey
Salt

Blend away! Enjoy! Yummmm!

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Juicing Joys!

Is a juicer, a juicer, a juicer? That’s not an error or mistype–I mean is there significant difference between the 40.00 juicers and the 950.00 juicers? Well I can go less extreme than that. How about the 40.00 ones and the 200.00 ones?
So as I have been raw-ifying my kitchen–removing the microwave, putting the dehydrator front and center, getting a good food processor (thanks Somer!!)–my final wish list item was a juicer. A solid juicer. Not the best, but a good one–not the worst either! In searching, there were all kinds of words I learned to pay attention to: centrifugal, masticating, dry/wet pulp. Then, is it a horizontal set up or vertical. Hard to clean or easy? And, as if another standard was necessary–how many pieces does it come apart in. Dizzying!
In the end, I went with the Omega 4006 model. Masticating. Horizontal. Dry pulp. 5 pieces.
To test my investment, I put it up against a 40.00 black and decker juicer–in fact they each had similar reviews! People are happy with their Omega’s and their Black and Decker’s! But I answer my own question of value in getting the more expensive machine in saying this: the B&D did have chunks of forgotten beets in the waste cabinet with the rest of the “wet” pulp, it was so loud I couldn’t even hear my Omega and there was about as much foam as there was juice!
So I guess it does make a difference! Another kitchen appliance where you truly get what you pay for.

Jinji’s Favorite Rainbow Juice
2 stalks of celery
Handfuls of parsley and cilantro
1 green apple
2 red beets
3 carrots
About 1/4 pineapple

Enjoy!

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