Raw Food Adventures, Restaurant Review

In the Raw… good eats in Highland Park, IL

Recently while in Chicago I went up to Highland Park with my friend Cindy to visit a new raw restaurant set up by Matthew Kenney. “In the Raw” is the manifestation of Beth Taussig’s desire to bring raw foods to her local community. She spent some time chatting with us about her journey into raw foods and the experience of opening a restaurant. I remember my raw food restaurant opening experience when I helped to open Shakti Life Kitchen in Atlantic Beach, FL back in… actually I can’t quite remember… October of 2008 maybe. A lot has happened since then… European tour, Canadian adventures, visit to Kauai and much more.

Now I’m up in Michigan running a retreat center (Camp Rawnora), growing a garden and living a blessed life. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to. Drop me a line with the details and enjoy pictures from my gardens and my restaurant review of In the Raw.

blog, Recipe

Best raw stuffing? Best raw gravy? You tell me.

raw pumpkin pie

Hi all,

Here’s a quick post featuring 2 recipes I recently put together for a Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck at Camp Rawnora. We had a wonderful turnout with raw dishes that were delish and beautiful. Some of the simplest dishes are the best like a corn chip and guacamole combo that one guest brought. Being the host I had to step up my game and turn out some dishes that were beyond delicious… I prepared a variation of Cafe Gratitude’s Pumpkin Pie recipe from their amazing recipe book I Am Grateful, also found in their dessert recipe book Sweet Gratitude. These books are the foundation for most of the raw food chef’s that are emerging each day. Master the recipes in these 2 books and you don’t need a chef training course… though it’s nice to get some instruction from a seasoned chef.

raw stuffing

Stuffing (aka: dressing) and Gravy were my 2 other menu items. Both of which I had a vague idea of how I’d reverse engineer them. For the stuffing I was looking for some way to keep it light and avoid making a nut gut bomb. A combo of almonds, walnuts and marinated portabello mushrooms was my solution. The way I did this recipe may be prohibitive for those wanting to do something quick and easy because I had stockpiled dried marinated portabella mushrooms which most people don’t have on hand. Here’s the trick… get dried mushrooms for the recipe and just add the ingredients that are in the marinade to the recipe like so…

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If anyone has taken a class or worked with me in the kitchen you know how I love to “sweat” veggies and use the juice that is removed in other recipes like soups and sauces. With the dressing/stuffing we’re sweating the veggies and using the juice in the gravy recipe. This keeps our stuffing from being soggy and this also adds flavor to our gravy.

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raw_mushroom_gravy
raw gravy on cauliflower parsnip taters

With the recipes out of the way, now it’s time for shameless self-promotion… If you liked these recipes you’re going to love the 13 recipes featured in the Raw 2012 Calendar from Camp Rawnora. Full color pictures and some amazing raw recipes to get you through the year… $10 to start with discounts for multiple orders.

Raw 2012 Calendar

Start off 2012 with a health retreat in Jamaica. Join me (Chef Adam Graham) and Chef John Rasmussen in Jamaica for a 8 day 7 night retreat (January 7-14th).

Jamaica Raw Retreat
Sun and raw food fun!
blog, Raw Food Adventures, Recipe

Journey to the North

With summer bearing down with full force in Florida I’ve taken a trip up north to Chicago and Watervliet, Michigan for some rest and relaxation with family, friends and raw food festival goers. I was born in Chicago and much of my family still lives there. I’ve lived in Jacksonville, Florida since I was 10, but have made pilgrimages up north on a yearly basis. I even lived in Chicago for 3 years after college and remain in touch with my old roomies and friends from back in the pre-raw days. It seems like only yesterday that I was BBQ’ing meat, pan frying sausage and meatballs and microwaving hell-if-I-know all the while thinking it was nourishing food. Over 10 years later I’m a little wiser and a lot healthier than I was when I was in my mid-twenties.

Tom's Steak HouseMy arrival in Chicago had me visiting my uncle out in River Forest. He’s not a raw fooder by any stretch but it’s never too late to start. I did Saturday night dinner with the boys, which had us visiting Tom’s Steak House in Melrose Park. There’s a good chance I may have been the first raw fooder at Tom’s Steak House. I made sure I packed a homemade salad dressing to top the double salad I was going to order. I was pleasantly surprised at the Romaine, tomato and onion salad that they set me up with. I also scored a side of Greek olives which weren’t from a can. I sipped bottled water while the gang enjoyed cocktails, followed by soup or salad and then their entree of meat and starch… the undoing of the Western World – Please refer to Food Combining Rules. I had my salad delivered with the entree and poured on my home mix of living red wine vinegar, olive oil, dulse, Italian herbs and Himalayan salt. Following dinner my uncle took me to see some music at another steak house; Gibson’s in Rosemont. I’ve been bar hopping before and now I’ve officially been steak house hopping. We listened to Lenny Capp perform on piano while my uncle sipped a cocktail and I had a NA brew. I was pleasantly surprised to meet another raw fooder upon visiting the washroom at Gibson’s. It turns out the bathroom attendant, Caleeb, had just gotten into raw foods and he was trying to convince his fellow co-worker to eat a macaroon he had gotten at Whole Foods. I was more than happy to try one, seeing that I was miles away from any raw food dessert and was craving something sweet. We chatted a bit and I gave them my card and invited them to keep in touch. Raw fooders are turning up in the strangest places… it’s so cool.

Next I visited friends in the city. My friend Angie hosted a BBQ at her house. Mike, Cyndi and their daughter Merrit were already in grilling mode when I arrived on Sunday. I whipped up a guacamole, cut up veggies and rolled some burritos with some sun-dried tomato chia wraps I had made for traveling. It was quite a simple and delicious feast for me; no lighter fluid, no charcoal, flames or prostate cancer to worry about. I ate my fill of burritos and saved my strength for karaoke night at the Beauty Bar that evening. It was a rocking good time. Angie did a Pat Benatar song while I sang “The Weight” by The Band.

sausage and burrito
which one belongs in your mouth?

Some juice was in order the next day to recover from our late night of singing and dancing. My friend Angie has dumped dairy, started juicing and has begun to see some positive changes. I took her juicer for a test drive the other morning and made a ginger cucumber apple juice that would straighten your toe nails. Now the city is behind me and I’m enjoying the lush green landscape of Ronora Lodge in Watervliet, Michigan. With over 100 acres of land, a lake, green house, garden, stables, cabins and more I’m in heaven… aside from the mosquitoes and biting flies. The green house is loaded with tomatoes and basil, while the garden is bursting with yellow squash, cucumbers, yellow watermelon, brocolli, kale and peppers. Oh, and I can’t forget the wild blackberries and grapes. At the moment I’m just writing, foraging, feasting and enjoying the magic here at Ronora. I enjoyed a big tomato and onion salad with pecan basil pesto the night I arrived. The next evening, the owner Deej let me know where the “all raw” kitchen was and I prepared a raw feast for her and her husband that consisted of a kale salad with garden tomatoes and yellow squash noodles with walnut basil pesto. Owner and operator Deej Leggit just recently healed herself of both Type 1 and 2 diabetes after doing the 21 day detox program at Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center. She and her husband Hunter have both experienced the healing benefits of a raw vegan diet. To my surprise Ronora Lodge has hosted David Wolfe, Matt Monarch and Angela Stokes, Paul Nisson and next week Victoria Boutenko will be here with other raw food folks for the Green Synergy Fest.

Here’s a Basil Pesto Recipe that’s tasty and easy:

  • 1 C walnuts – rinsed, soaked 1 hour and drained
  • 1/2 C fresh basil leaves – packed
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 T tamari
  • salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor with S-blade. Spread thick pesto inside bell pepper slices. Or mix into zucchini or squash noodles. Add more oil, vinegar and tamari to make into a sauce.

Enjoy the picts and I’ll keep posting. Keep it Live!

blackberry bowl
Nature's Abundance