Category: Raw Food

Raspberry Ripple Buckwheat Porridge

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Raspberry Ripple Raw Buckwheat Porridge

Does anyone out there latch onto a food and become totally obsessed with it? Do you find it making its way into almost everything you make? Lately, I’ve been riding the buckwheat wagon hard. And although I am not so much into food trends, I predict that buckwheat is going to be the new hotness. You heard it here first.

Okay, maybe it’s just me. This little seed (yes, it’s a seed!) has tumbled its way into my little heart and made a triangular burrow so deep that I can’t imagine what my life was like before it. Those beautiful, variegated, pale green-and-sand coloured pyramids, so humble yet majestic. The way it crisps up in the oven, like teeny, crunchy fireworks. The soft, creamy texture it has after cooking, and how it absorbs so many flavours, leaning either savory or sweet. The rich and nutty flour that turns into noodles, bread, muffins, pancakes, scones and waffles so deliciously.

And while I thought I had buckwheat all worked out, he pulled out his wildcard and now I’m scarfing raw buckwheat porridge like it’s my job. Looking for a power-packed breakfast this summer? High protein, high fiber, gluten-free, versatile, portable, and insanely delicious. It’s also super easy to make, and perfect for those mornings when you need to get outside in the sun as quickly as possible. Obsessed!

How is the porridge raw you ask? The trick to making this treat, is soaking overnight. It’s an easy way to enjoy completely uncooked grains, in their full nutritional force.

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The Right Way to Soak
Although soaking grains in pure, un-chlorinated water is good, if you really want to go the extra mile, the key is dropping some acid! And what I mean by that is, adding something acidic to the soaking water, fresh lemon juice and apple cider vinegar being my top picks. For every cup of grain, use 1 tablespoon of acidic medium (don’t worry –the sourness will not be noticeable in the end product, cooked or raw). It also helps if the water is relatively warm, recently boiled but cooled off to some extent.

Suggested soaking time is 7-8 hours, such as an overnight. Leave whatever you are soaking at room temperature. I just keep mine on the counter, covered with a clean tea towel. In the morning, drain the grains in a sieve and rinse well. FYI – buckwheat has a very unique property of making goo. Don’t be alarmed if your groats are on the snotty side the morning after – this is totally normal and it is easily rinsed off.

What these elements add up to, is making the grains far more digestible. Warm, acidic water helps to remove phytic acid, which would otherwise interfere with mineral absorption, and neutralize enzyme inhibitors. Soaking also allows the enzymes, lactobacilli (friendly folk bacteria) and other helpful organisms to break down some of the harder-to-digest starches. Overall, it’s a really good idea, even if you are in excellent health with stellar digestion. It’s these little steps that quickly add up to major life change – I can certainly attest to that.

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This porridge was actually inspired by my mother, eternal lover of raspberry ripple ice cream. As a kid, I could never understand how you could waste an entire trip to the ice cream shop on fruit. I mean, really. But I get it now, and raspberry swirling through a blushing pink, creamy, vanilla porridge seems almost too good to be true for breakfast.

If you have never eaten soaked, blended buckwheat before, be prepared for a pleasant surprise. Its mildly nutty, and slightly sweet flavour make it a perfect breakfast food during the warmer months. Plus, it is the easiest thing to whip up, taking less than five minutes from start to finish. The texture is up to you: if you like a chunky porridge, blend it just a little, or if you like it smooth, let your machine run for 30 seconds or so until it is beautifully silky. Even though you can use milk in this recipe, you will certainly achieve a creamy consistency with water alone. That is the magic of buckwheat!

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The raspberry is the shining star of this breakfast, giving the porridge a beautiful colour and juicy tartness. If raspberries aren’t in season where you are, use whatever berries or fruit you have. I added a little lemon juice for brightness and cardamom for a richer spiced flavour. This is optional, but really delicious. The frozen banana ups the creaminess, sweetness, and makes the porridge cold, which I really dig, but you could replace it with dates, honey or maple syrup too. The bee pollen is not essential to the recipe, but a wonderful way to boost the nutritional content of this dish even more. If it’s your first time using bee pollen, start small and work your way up. The amount given here is for those just starting out.

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Show me your porridge on Instagram: #buckwheatporridge

Raw Bounty Bars

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Oh how times change.
If you were to hand me a Bounty Bar 20 years ago, I would have looked at you like you had gone coconuts (ahem, sorry). I thought Bounty Bars were totally sick-a-tating because coconut was a vegetable in my mind, and therefore decidedly not edible even when smothered in chocolate.

I don’t know when I came to my senses, discovered that coconut was in fact a not vegetable, and also totally delicious. These days, I’ll go so far to say that I don’t know what my life would be like without dear coconut around, as I likely employ one or more of its products on a daily basis. You can imagine then, that being in Bali was quite a gas for me, as it’s dripping with coconuts, quite literally. I loved being able to get fresh coconut water every morning; mammoth orbs heavy with well over a liter of liquid gold, for under a dollar. Freshly shredded coconut at the market, coconut palm sugar by the bagful, young coconut flesh blended in smoothies… it was the business!

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting Big Tree Farms -  a place where they make incredible coconut  products among other things, such as raw cacao and sea salt. As I’ve been using their delicious coconut palm sugar for a while now, it was pretty amazing to see where the magic happens and meet the sweet people behind the sweetness. I was also introduced to a new product: coconut nectar! A gorgeous, full-flavoured syrup that looks a lot like honey, but with a citric, smoky flavour that surprised and delighted me.

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Coconut Nectar of the Gods
Coconut nectar, and the coconut palm sugar that is made from it, have been produced and enjoyed for over 6,000 years. In fact, the first documented sweeteners ever used are that from coconut palms (Coco Nucifera).

Coconut nectar is made by harvesting the sap from the coconut palm blossom, which is collected twice daily by the farmers at Big Tree. They climb up each trunk in the morning, remove the vessel full of sap, slice the very tip off of each flower bundle and place an empty vessel underneath it to collect sap until the evening when they will repeat the process. The sap is then boiled down to remove all the water it naturally contains, leaving a thick, caramel-like syrup, which can then be cooled and bottled.  To make coconut sugar, that same syrup is cooled and then rubbed, creating granules of the delectable coconut sugar that I love so much. You can watch a very cool video about the whole tree to table process, here.

Coconut nectar is high in minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. It is happily low glycemic, ranking 35 on the GI scale, compared to agave at 42, honey at 55, cane sugar at 68. This is due to coconut sugar’s composition of long-chain saccharides, which are absorbed by the body at a slower rate than something like refined white sugar. Coconut sugar also contains amino acids, which are thought to slow down the rate at which the sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, acting as a “buffer” of sorts. You can read more about Big Tree Farms Coconut Nectar and Palm Sugar nutrition here.

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After visiting Big Tree, I was feeling creative and hungry for chocolate. I decided to get my Willy Wonka on and recreate a favourite treat to pay homage to my coconut adventures, and also because, let’s face it, Bounty Bars are delicious. This is my (nearly) raw version of the classic candy, a very easy and scrumptious translation using simple ingredients. They are totally rich and coconut-y, just like the “real” thing, but way better because they taste real – not like science. The chocolate is smooth, rich and decadent, and the filling is extra coconut-y due to the virgin coconut oil I use. If you have a good-quality virgin coconut oil, I suggest employing it here, as you want to emphasize the coconut flavour. This is one of the few times I use virgin coconut oil, as I usually don’t want everything tasting of the tropics, but in this case I definitely do. If you don’t have any, regular coconut oil is fine.

And if you don’t have any coconut nectar not to worry – substitute it with honey or maple syrup and the results should be almost the same. These should be stored in the freezer, especially in the height of summer when the chocolate can melt in the heat. Plus, biting into one of these is quite refreshing when the 4 o’clock summer sun hits and you need something sweet to rouse you from your nap.

These are also really fun to make – who doesn’t love a good candy project? Get your kids involved, get your friends into it, and create some candy bars that you actually won’t want to share with anyone who has helped you. You’ve been warned.

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Show me your bars on Instagram: #rawbountybars 

Tropical Groove Smoothies

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I just got back from the island of Gili Air, a pinprick of land off the west coast of Lombok. Being so isolated and teeny, you can imagine the food in this particular place wasn’t so high-vibe. Not a raw food, vegan buffet in sight! Gasp! Somehow, I survived, har har, but what truly got me through were the smoothies. Every single restaurant and cafe, no matter how small and unassuming, had a long list of tropical blends to enjoy. I had it made in the shade, just sippin’ on my whizzed up fruits and ice. So simple, refreshing – it reminded me that easy edibles are sometimes the best.

When I got back to civilization here in Bali, I had a serious date with my blender. Nothing fancy, just local, seasonal, simple mixes to beat the heat. I came up with these two beauties, inspired by the foods and flora around me.

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The first smoothie is a Mango Coconut Jamu. Jamu is a traditional Indonesian turmeric tonic that has been made for centuries. With endless variations, some recipes including botanical ingredients such as flowers, fruits, seeds, bark, leaves, and roots, it’s fun to be creative with exotic blends, with a touch sweetener such as honey or palm sugar to mellow out the bitter edge. My version takes advantage of the newly-in-season mango (!!!) and fresh, young coconuts which are literally falling off the trees all around me. If you don’t have access to coconuts, just use canned coconut milk instead for a decadent, tropical treat. And as for the turmeric, use as much as you can handle. The recipe calls for only half a teaspoon of fresh turmeric, but I probably put in twice that amount in my own because I’m wild about that little tuber. Dried and powdered turmeric is fine to use too, just try to find organically grown if possible.

The second smoothie I made just had to be green, because this island is so inspiringly lush and leafy! I have been digging the traditional avocado-based drinks that are actually referred to as “juice” here, even though the avocado has been blended. They are thick, creamy, cold, and not overly sweet. My juice is spiked with a hearty dose of digestive ginger and tangy lime. If you want to get things even greener, toss in a handful of tender greens, such as kale or romaine and get glowing!

Either of these shakes would make a fabulous breakfast, as they are literally a meal-in-a-glass. They also satisfy as an afternoon snack, maybe split between two people.

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How to Drink Smoothies
Is there a big question mark sitting above your head right now? How hard is it to drink a smoothie?! Even though we may think just guzzling down a big glass of food is simple enough, there are in fact some ways we can optimize the digestion of these veritable meals-in-a-glass.

Smoothies are a wonderful way to enjoy a whole host of foods easily, as the masticating has been done for us. But, it is still essential to chew your smoothies! Why? Because digestion begins in the mouth and bathing our liquefied food in saliva is very important for the enzymatic action to take place. Especially for the first few sips, chew the smoothie or swirl it around in your mouth as you would any other food. This also sends a signal to your stomach that something good is on the way down and to prepare for the work ahead. It feels a little funny at first, but your tummy will thank you for giving it some time to put things in order before your smoothie arrives.

It’s also a good idea to avoid consuming really cold smoothies, as freezing drinks actually shut down our digestive system. A cold beverage will sit in your stomach until it reaches core temperature before moving onto into the small intestine, so the colder something is to begin with, the longer it will take to digest.

Once blended, smoothies look quite small, but remember that they are still a lot of food! If you were to sit down and eat an entire coconut, mango, and half a banana, it would take you quite a while. Smoothies are caloric and condensed, so keep that in mind when blending up your meal – a lot turns into a little.

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Living a in a tropical climate and being surrounded by all this incredible fruit has inspired me to do a mini-cleanse of sorts. I’ll be eating raw for the next three days, and even though I am practically doing that anyway, this is a conscious, and very intentional move away from anything resembling the ubiquitous white rice and occasional fried tempeh I’ve been enjoying (soooo good…). I just feel like a little freshening up and finding my balance once again. If you’d like to join me on my veggie and fruit feast, eat raw for the next three days and see how you feel! I’ll be enjoying these smoothies, simple fruit and vegetable salads as well as some of the other recipes from the site (here is a link). With the warmer temperatures and sun shining, it is a perfect time to step away from the stove.

I’ll be Instagramming my food during the raw refresher, so follow along my adventures here.

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Show me your smoothies on Instagram: #tropicalgroovesmoothies