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, Recipe

Soursop, Pomelo, Star Apple, Oh My!

Yes I’m back on the mainland but the tropical mystique of Kauai is still in my heart. I sat in on a few minutes of Soul Surfer just to rekindle the spirit of the island. So I figure I’d share in greater detail some of the specs on my favorite island fruits. If you read my last post about the chico sapodilla you received a small taste of what is yet to come. I have to say I have quite a fascination with exotic fruit. Veggies are cool and all but there’s nothing better than seeing a tropical oddity hanging from a tree or on display at the farmer’s market and inquiring, “what the *@$!% is that?”

Black Sapote

For example the black sapote. On the outside it looks innocent enough but once you split it in half it looks like poop. Fortunately the smell and taste do not follow suit. The black sapote isn’t actually in the sapote family, it’s related to persimmons, another favorite fruit of mine. The inedible exterior of the black sapote/chocolate pudding fruit turns dark green when ripe and the inside turns dark brown and soft resembling the taste and texture of chocolate pudding. I heard a vendor remarking that the black sapote was considered to be the highest honor when given as a gift.

Of the 3 fruits mentioned in the title I’m guessing the soursop is the hardest for people to come by on the mainland but it is well worth the effort. Soursop is an evergreen in the Annonaceae family that includes cherimoya and sugar apple. The sugar apple is also called the sweetsop. The tell tale difference in appearance between the soursop and its cousins are the harmless spikes on the outside of the fruit along with its larger and oblong size.

Soursop

The trees are freeze sensitive and thrive in almost all semi-tropical and tropical climates around the world. The soursop is also known as graviola and has been the center of attention concerning cancer treatment. I had a chance to enjoy both the fruit and the leaves of the tree and would take them over chemotherapy any day of the week. Fortunately my diet and lifestyle choices will likely keep me from ever having to make that decision.

Most of the time in Hawaii I just ate soursop as is but I did work with another raw food chef and make a soursop pie. It was a very tasty treat yet it had too high a water content to be my first choice for making pies. I definitely could see soursop as a choice for making a dehydrated pie similar to an apple pie, ice cream or sorbet. More soursop experimentation is needed to formulate a solid recipe. Until then I’ll just continue eating them straight up.

If you’ve ever done a double take at the oversized grapefruits at the grocery store then you’ve probably seen a pomelo, pummelo or pommelo.

Famous Kitty

I first saw them in Taiwan where they hold a place of tradition during the autumn moon festival. Like I mentioned pomelos look like really big grapefruit. In actuality once peeled they’re usually only slightly bigger having a skin with a thick layer of pith (that white stuff that sticks to oranges and grapefruit). The pomelos I had in Taiwan had an elongated pear shape while the ones in the States are usually round. Have fun peeling them and if you get good at it you can keep the whole peel intact and make cool hat out of it. Believe it or not I met a woman in a video store in Maoli, Taiwan who claimed to be the owner of this legendary helmeted cat. She even had a variety of pictures to prove it. Not only can you make headgear for your pets with the peel, it also is used to make jams and teas.

While on Kauai I had my share of pomelos. I even took to appropriating them from a neighbors tree by using a 25 foot piece of bamboo. Talk about pinata training. In my opinion pomelos are better than grapefruit in 2 ways: first they have none of the bitter or sour flavor of grapefruit and second the way you eat them is more fun. The pulp of the pomelo is firmer than other citrus fruits allowing you to remove the outer skin from each wedge of the fruit and just eat the pulp. This can be quite an enjoyable tactile experience. Pomelos are a favorite food of mine for air travel (pomelo on a plane video) and going to the movies. They’re easier to get on a plane than into a movie theater though.

3 lb. Pomelo
Star Apples

The star apple or caimito is another fun tropical fruit in the Sapotaceae family. This is the same family that gave us the chico sapodilla. I was able to experience the star apple in 2 varieties, purple and green. The purple fruit had a white and purple interior with brown seeds surrounded in a juicy clear pulp. The green fruits were white inside with brown seeds as well. Both colors oozed a latex from the stems and had white latex concentrated near the skin especially when unripe. Personally I’m a fan of purple fruits. I feel most people don’t get enough purple in their diet and star apples are a great way to get that daily allowance of purple. It might sound silly but purple foods contain an important color pigment and antioxidant known as anthocyanin. Some other great sources for this purple pigment are purple corn, acai, black grapes, black raspberries and cherries.

It’s not often that I get to make a purple pie so I took this opportunity to create a star apple pie recipe that showcased its purple goodness. Here’s the basics for making your very own purple pie filling… if you can get your hands on some star apples.

Star Apple Pie Filling

4 star fruit – 1 1/2 Cups

1/2 C agave

1/2 C cashews

1 C coconut meat

Vanilla bean

pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients smooth.

Pour into crust and allow to set in the freezer until firm or frozen.

Purple Pie

Use your favorite pie crust recipe. I used an almond date crust for the pie that is pictured. Let me know if you make a purple pie and how it turns out. Until next time… Keep it Live! – Chia