blog, Raw Food Adventures, Restaurant Review

2012 Here We Come

durian_smoothie_better_life_LA

The beginning of 2012 is only days away. Are you ready? Do you have your RAW 2012 Calendar? It’s loaded with 13 raw recipes from me.

It’s likely that 2012 will be the most over-hyped year I will see in my lifetime, second only to the uneventful year 2000 and all the Y2K foolishness. Anyone living above ground and keeping up with headlines is well aware that things are heating up on all fronts… economic, political, social, agricultural, spiritual… if you can name it, it’s likely that it’s changing dramatically for better or for worse. We all must do our best to see the big picture regarding the changes that are occurring. In isolation, the news headlines can be a bit scary and I believe that’s the whole point, to scare the public. We need to look beyond the manufactured headlines and try to see the whole picture. I see antiquated, exploitative, unsustainable, unbalanced, unhealthy, unfair and unethical systems being dismantled. The news media isn’t going to point this out because they’re an important part of this dysfunctional system that is on the way out. So it is our responsibility as conscious and accountable individuals to read between the lines and move in the direction of positive change. If you’re reading this then what I’m saying most likely resonates with you, and life is all about resonance and the vibration of things.

One of the best ways I’ve found to raise my vibration is by my food choices. We eat food for energy and energy is vibration so the foods with the highest vibration are the best sources of energy. These foods are fresh, naturally grown, whole foods which include fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts, seeds and sea veggies. Fermented foods like miso, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi are also high in vibration.

Things to avoid are low vibration foods or foods with dissonant vibrations. These foods stress the body and create imbalances that eventually lead to disease. To be avoided are flesh foods (meat, fish, eggs), dairy, fried foods, processed foods, white sugar, white flour, corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, synthetic drugs, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, soft drinks and anything made with genetically modified ingredients. I like to say, “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.” Stress is a dissonant frequency that should be avoided as well. This is often easier said than done being that almost anything can be a potential stressor. Just remember to breath and be grateful. We are truly blessed. Thoughts and intention have been shown to have an effect on the vibration of things. With this in mind think positively and bless your food and drink with intention when ever possible.

Speaking of being blessed, I recently toured Los Angeles, California and visited an array of raw food restaurants. Here’s a rundown of some of the spots I visited:

Cru_raw_vegan_LA_cafeCru

1521 Griffith Park Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 / tel: (323) 667-1551

Silverlake is a hip section of LA which is home to Cru, a raw vegan cafe featuring some fine raw cuisine.The decor inside Cru is minimal and sparse but the food is full of flavor and color. I dined that evening with my friend Robyn who was nursing a broken jaw. She ordered a fresh green juice while I enjoyed a young Thai coconut and ordered the evening special – Jicama Raviolis. The presentation was divine, price was right and the portion ample. Oh yeah and it delicious as well.

Cru_slivelake_LA_raw_ravioli

I followed up the entree with a slice of blueberry/strawberry pie which was great… not a religious experience like pie at Cafe Gratitude, but good. In keeping with the minimal decor, the slice was decorated with a strawberry fraiche.  I’m not one to pass on dessert and I didn’t pass on this one, plate was licked clean.

berry_pie_raw_cru_LA
Nice Slice

Better Life Cuisine

717 Broadway Ave. Santa Monica, Ca 90401 / Tel: 310-458-7620

raw_burrito_better_life_cuisine
Gigantoid Burrito

Better Life Cuisine is home of the “big a$$ burrito”. Enter with an appetite and leave satisfied and with a “to go” container. I enjoyed not only the fried bean burrito but also a durian smoothie, cinnamon bun and kale chips. Everything was fresh, tasty and well priced. The only challenge was finding the place. We had blindly followed the directions from the GPS which had us driving in circles in Venice. Fortunately we didn’t give up on our quest. Check out my video review below and remember to Keep It Live!

blog, Raw Food Adventures, Recipe

VegFest in Florida 2011 and Brownie Recipe

VegFest Lineup
Uncooking Demo

The second annual Northeast Florida VegFest on Saturday November 5th brought me back to Jacksonville, Florida for a short little visit. While in town I had a chance to visit some friends, harvest reishi mushrooms, go surfing and make some brownies during my food demo at VegFest.

Saturday started out with a visit to WJXT News 4 Jax studios for a quick interview on the morning show. The morning anchor and weather lady Rebecca Barry confessed to me she was a burger and pizza kinda girl. I told her I ate that stuff too back in the day but you can’t get away with that forever… especially if you are on TV… well maybe if they don’t show you below the neck. I was impressed by how she would jog in high heels between the morning show couch and the weather set and then back all while on the air and even talking. That must be how she works off the burgers. I gave her a copy of the book and left a bag of granola with the other morning host (not sure of his name). The next morning show guest was a group of Zumba ladies. They asked me if I’d like to join them during their segment for some Zumba dancing… hey, why not? What’s a “Zumba” anyway?

WJXT4 morning show
WJXT4 Morning Show

While we were waiting between segments I watched the male morning anchor chowing down on the granola. I assumed he was enjoying it but before I could ask him he blurted out, “this stuff tastes like dirt.” That had me confused because he just kept eating it… he must like eating dirt. The old saying about “throwing pearls to swine” comes to mind. His comment didn’t bother me much because he seemed more like the the Froot Loop fan than the raw granola type.

The morning show finished up before 9am so I headed over to VegFest to catch everyone setting up. I said my “hellos” and slipped around the corner to a breakfast spot where I could warm up with some tea and eat a pomelo I had bought the day before.

pomelo breakfast
Breakfast of Champions

Pomelos are a favorite fruit of mine. For those of you not familiar with pomelos they’re the oversized grapefruit looking things you’ll find seasonally at the grocery store. Pomelos differ from grapefruits in a couple of ways:

  • Their skin is very thick and can be easily removed in one piece
  • They don’t come apart in clean slices like grapefruit and oranges. It’s best to peel the fruit, split it in half by pulling it apart from the middle and then peel each individual slice to free it of the thick skin that surrounds it
  • They taste sweeter than grapefruit
  • They don’t make as much of a juicy mess although once you’ve finished eating one there will be a pile of peels and pith

With breakfast and the surreal land of the mainstream media behind me I walked over to VegFest for my demo. Fortunately this year they had a sound system for the food demo. The year before we had to battle the amplified main stage for the attention of our audience. This year we had a microphone on a stand. Not ideal for a food demo but better than nothing. I actually liked the hand held microphone because it made me feel like I was doing stand-up comedy. My friend Natacha volunteered to assist me in my brownie making which allowed me to narrate the process. I was pleased to see a standing room only crowd gather for the no-bake brownie demo. I did a variation of the brownie recipe on page 176 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox. There’s also another variation of the brownie called the “Bomb Dot Com Brownie“. Here’s the recipe I shared on Saturday at the VegFest:

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:8]

VegFest Demo
Brownies anyone?
blog, Raw Food Adventures

The Atlanta Raw Scene

Loaded with Loquats

I’m off again on another adventure. This time I loaded up the car and headed north, final destination Watervliet, Michigan. Before I got on the road I needed to gather provisions for my travels. As food prices continue to rise I continue to take advantage of the natural abundance that gets ignored and overlooked. Eventually people will wake up to the abundance in their yards but until then it’s just more for me.

Mid April is harvest time for delicious and abundant wild fruits in Florida: mulberries and loquats. If you know what to look for, mulberry trees become a popular part of the landscape. They grow all across the world in both temperate and subtropical climates. I recall feasting on backyard mulberries when I was 8 years old in Chicago and now I do the same thing in Florida. The red/black mulberry is easy to spot by looking for the dark fruits littering and staining the ground. They also fill the bellies of birds that feed upon the berries. When the birds are dropping purple windshield bombs you know it’s mulberry season. Black mulberries are another quality “purple food” that is loaded with the antioxidant anthocyanin . Mulberry trees are in the Moraceae family which also include fig and breadfruit trees. One of the cool things about harvesting mulberries is that all that is needed to collect the fruit is a gentle nudge from your fingertip. When the berries are ripe a gentle breeze or the shaking of the branch will drop them from the tree. Armed with a container in one hand and an extended finger, I nudge the darkest berries. The ones that are ripe just fall into the container and if they hold on to the tree they aren’t ready to harvest. Using this method has allowed me to harvest a couple pounds of berries in a half hour. Be aware, tiny little insects called thrips are often on many of the berries. They’re hardly noticeable unless you really look. If you have an aversion to eating bugs, be sure to submerge the berries for a half hour and then rinse and drain them before eating. Enjoy them on their own or in a fruit salad. Freeze extras to add to smoothies or to make sorbet/ice cream. Use fresh mulberries to give a basic salad dressing a purple twist like we did with this kale salad.

Mulberry Dressing
Mulberry Bowl

Loquat is the second Spring time treat down in Florida and in other states and countries with a similar climate. Loquat trees are a very common decorative tree in Florida, funny thing is is that few people make an effort to eat them. They are also called Japanese or Chinese plum. There are a lot of wild growing foods that we overlook and waste in the States. Mulberries, figs and loquat top the list. That same loquat that goes unpicked and gets devoured by birds in Florida I’ve seen for sale in markets in Taiwan, France and Italy. It’s such a traditional food in Italy that my Italian grandmother used to climb up on the patio furniture (in her 80’s) to harvest “nespola” from my aunt’s pool side tree in San Diego. She didn’t know what they were called in English but she knew you could eat them. So now I carry on the tradition and feast upon the loquats whenever they’re in season. Loquat are in the Rosaceae family and are not related to kumquats which is a citrus fruit. The Rosaceae family includes roses, apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries and all of the stone fruits. The seeds of apples, stone fruits and even loquat contain trace amounts of cyanogenic glycosides which break down into cyanide when digested. Don’t worry though, you would need to eat a ridiculous amount of the bitter tasting seeds to cause any ill effects. Some argue that this cyanide compound has anti-cancer properties but that’s something you’ll have to research yourself.

Nespola/Loquat Shopping

With my van packed and provisions harvested I plotted a course for Michigan but first I had a stop in Atlanta, GA for a durian night meetup with Raw Food Atlanta. A few days prior I connected with the group through through meetup.com online but I had also met some of the members at Raw Spirit Fest in Maryland back in 2009. Kent put me up in his guest room and hosted a durian night with the meetup group. I was also able to reconnect with Dr. Sam (Samuel A. Mielcarski, DPT) who is a regular speaker and mentor in the raw food world. He gave me a copy of his wellness handbook Revolutionary Rehab Manual and I hooked him up with a copy of my book Zen and the Art of Gadgeting. I’m getting ahead of myself though, before arriving at durian night I first had to procure a durian. Kent gave me the low down on where to get the best deals on durians and all my other bulk produce needs: Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market in Decatur, GA. This place is The Promised Land for raw foodies and fresh food lovers alike. It’s a Home Depot sized produce market, unbelievable. Unfortunately they don’t allow pictures to be taken inside, but that didn’t stop me from snapping a few picts outside. The place was unbelievable and so were the prices. I was able to get: 1 jackfruit(6.7lb), 1 durian(5.4lb), 10lb organic oranges, 10 mangoes, 4 avocados, 2 lbs organic dates, 1 lb cashews, 2 lbs of pecans for $60. In hindsight I should have loaded my van to the gills but that’s all I got. At Kent’s house there were more durians waiting… at least 8 in total for a meetup with that many people. Needless to say we didn’t finish all the durian but we had a good time trying.

$60 well spent

The next morning I visited one of the local farmer’s markets with Kent and Dr. Sam. We visited fellow meetup member Brian selling coconut macaroons at the farmer’s market. He recently launched The Macaroon Company which provides delicious organic, gluten-free, dairy-free treats in a variety of flavors. He hooked me up with a bag of chocolate orange macaroons that made my big toe shoot out my boot… good stuff.

After the market I dropped by Dr. Sam’s home and backyard garden and fruit orchard. He gave me a tour, showing off all his fruit trees. He was especially proud of his almond trees that already had fruit on them. It was about noon when I got on the road, leaving the South. A check of the weather revealed that I made a wise decision to pack my cold weather gear. My final destination greeted me with 40 degree temperatures and wet conditions… looks like I get to do Spring all over again in Michigan. Check back for my next post on Wild Foraging. More tasty treats growing abundantly in the wild. Until next time… Keep it Live!

Durians
blog, How To, Recipe

Coconut Cracking

Young Thai Coconut

For those of you out there curious about opening young Thai coconuts, here’s a little how to video demonstrating the “finesse” technique. Other techniques include the “whacking”, “hacking”, “cracking” and “smacking”… none of which are featured during this video. The Live Food Experience does not take any responsibility for those who sustain injuries while attempting to open a coconut. If attempting to open a coconut for the first time be sure to use a quality sharp knife. Coconuts eat cheap knives for breakfast. Also be sure to have some one standing by un case of a coco-mishap.

If you have a Young Thai Coconut Experience you wish to share, be sure to post it in the comments below.

Be safe, and Keep It Live!