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    Healthy Hamper Christmas Competition !

    Please note this competition is now closed. Thank you so much for all who entered, I loved reading your answers to 'What food gives you the longest lasting energy' very much and super excited to be trying many of the suggestions/recipes you put down too, there are some really good ones!

    We have a WINNER!

    There were 76 comments with 3 double ups, so 73 individual entries in total. Drum roll please...


    The 30th individual entry is Elizabeth Lakey from London! Elizabeth didn't leave a surname, but from her below comment, I just happen to know she attended my workshop :)

    "Elizabeth said...
    My morning oatmeal porridge with lots of good stuff in it... but after taking the beginner's raw food class yesterday I must say that a nice green smoothie or that wonderful chocolately almond milk smoothie will give you not only lasting energy but a healthy smile as well ;) "

    Congratulations Elizabeth!


    ....................................................original post................................................... 

    I am SO excited today!! I haven’t been able to stop bouncing all daaaaay!

    I must tell you there are MANY advantages to food blogging-
    1. You get to share your ideas, experiments, thoughts and news with all those who actually care
    2. You get to meet some amazing people from all over the world with common interests
    3. You get to taste the food, a variety of it and ALL of the time
    4. You can be as creative as you never knew was possible
    5... But then there is that moment you realise that you truly have every right to LOVE what you are doing and that's when the companies you absolutely adore and obsess over send you a parcel just for... adoring and obsessing over them!

    And because I also happen to adore my readers, I am giving YOU the opportunity to win my entire Hamper of Gifts! Whether it be all for yourself or a loved one, I will send it to you no matter where you are in the world (yes the competition is open to ALL) for you to receive it right before Christmas!! How much more good news can one paragraph contain?


    JUST LOOK AT WHAT COULD BE YOURS...


    WHAT’S INCLUDED:

    Raw Chocolate Making Master Kit from CHOC CHICK
    Pure Essential Oils Collection from ESSENTIAL OILS DIRECT
    Naked Chocolate Book by David Wolfe and Shazzie

                                                          ***  That's £80.00 / US $130.00 value ***


    Raw Chocolate Making Master Kit worth £30 (US $50)


    The CHOC Chick Master Kit is for serious CHOCoholics and those who just want to indulge in creative possibilities. This Kit has 1kg worth of raw chocolate making goodness with enough ingredients for over 80 individual chocolates or over 100 truffles. The booklet is packed with recipes for raw chocolates, truffles, cakes, ice creams, smoothies, mousse and even chocolate cocktails (CHOCtails!)

    CHOC Chick Master Kit contains:
    250g Ethically sourced Organic Raw Cacao Butter
    250g Organic Raw Cacao Powder
    300ml Sweet Freedom – low GL natural sweetener from fruit
    CHOC Chick Recipe Book
    4 Gift bags and stickers 
      

    Essential Oils Collection worth £35 (US $55)


    Pure essential oils, extracted from plants, possess distinctive therapeutic properties which can be used to improve health, prevent disease, treat stress related problems and a variety of chronic conditions. These natural plant oils are applied in a variety of ways including massage, baths and inhalations. [I add most, especially Peppermint and Mandarin even to my raw chocolates, smoothies and ice creams!]

    Included is a lovely wooden box which holds 24 x 10 ml bottles of Essential oils. The box contains 10 x 10ml Pure and Natural Essential Oils: Lavender, Ginger, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Vanilla Extract, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Mandarin, Ginger, Cinnamon Leaf


    Naked Chocolate Book worth £15 (US $25)


    David Wolfe and Shazzie introduce the phenomenal, enlightening power of cacao beans engulfed in the magic of chocolate! Naked Chocolate contains the most fascinating information about pure natural Chocolate, as well as 60 original and mouth watering recipes!


     BE IN TO WIN IT ALL...


    Just TWO terms of entry:
    1. You must be a follower (or become a new follower). Hit that ‘follow’ button on the right
    2. In the comments section answer this question: ‘What food gives you longest lasting energy?’


    That is it! Simple. Competition is open to all, I will post to anywhere in the world. Closing date for entries is midnight Sunday 5th December 2010. The winner will be chosen at random. There are no other conditions. Good Luck and all the below could be yours by Christmas! YEY

    PLEASE SEE BEGINNING OF THIS POST FOR THE WINNER

    First Ever Raw Food Turkish Delight


    If I had to choose a word to describe Turkey, just one single word, if it was even possible, if I had no other option and my life depended on it, it would be nothing other than ‘quintessence’.



    I am not one to idealise anything, but I do know what an ideal vacation involves and Turkey had the exact essence of perfection. Whether it was something I needed at the time or truly is a heavenly oasis doesn’t really matter, what I know is that it made its way right to my heart, put a spell over me, got me dreaming about it at night and that I will be back!



    Ten days of bathing in joy, Elliot and I spent most of our time on the beaches of beautiful Antalya, took boat trips and tours to the ancient ruins of Olympos, calcium and mineral rich waters of Pumukkale (wow!!!), finishing off with vibrancy of Istanbul.



    Turkey has so much to offer, its soul so rich with history, topography plentiful of diversity, skies full of stories, sea water heavenly and the food- the food so... nourishing. That was certainly the last thing I expected, as hunting around for a healthy bite is usually the biggest and often the only challenge on a holiday. There was of cause the opposite option, but because there was even AN option at all was a miracle and not only that, there was more than just an option, much much more!


    Our hotel dinner alone had (and yes I counted) 14 different varieties of salads for dinner. Fourteen! Everywhere you turn, you can get a freshly squeezed orange juice or pomegranate juice and for breakfast (much to Elliot’s disapproval and my delight) we figured it must be their custom to serve a plate of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. I was in Raw Food heaven.


    Speaking of Raw Food and the country that influenced me in such a big way, I came home with more than just an inspiration to create the first ever ['first ever' because there is NOTHING on the Internet for me to copy :)] Raw Food Turkish Delight. I came back with a determination to give back at least a little for being given so much.


    It wasn’t exactly easy. A traditional Turkish Delight is mainly sugar and cornstarch after all. The cornstarch is what gives it that gooey gummy bear texture, so since that was not an option I had to settle for the fruits with pectin to create a jam like thickness and Agar Agar for a jelly (jello to my American friends) like consistency.

    The outcome- scrumptious! Not exactly like a traditional Turkish Delight I won’t lie, but in my opinion WAY better and I will choose it over the traditional any day even if I wasn’t health conscious...


    FIRST EVER RAW FOOD TURKISH DELIGHT


    A quick word on Agar Agar: a gelatinous substance produced from certain species of Japanese seaweeds. Like any mineral and vitamin rich seaweed, it provides important source of nutrients and is actually unaffected by enzymes. Hence boiling in hot water is completely harmless. Agar is also superior to the animal-derived gelatin in that it contains no calories! Read about the fascinating method of Agar production here.


    BLUEBERRY DELIGHT



    Ingredients

    1 Cup Blueberries
    3 Medjool Dates
    1 Tbsp Agave
    ½ Cup water
    1 Tbsp Agar Agar flakes
    ½ cup hazelnuts (or your favourite nuts)

    Optional: Lukuma powder for coating


    FRUITY DELIGHT




    Ingredients

    8 Medjool Dates
    ½ Cup Orange Juice
    1 Tbsp Agave
    ½ Cup water
    1 Tbsp Agar Agar flakes
    ½ cup hazelnuts (or your favourite nuts)

    Optional: Lukuma powder for coating



    -For Blueberry Delight: Blend blueberries, dates and agave until smooth
    -For Fruity Delight: Blend dates and orange juice to a creamy paste

    -Boil the water and let the flakes sit in it for 5 minutes

    -Bring the water to boil again and gently simmer until all the flakes dissolve completely

    -Add to the ingredients already in the blender and blend

    -Manually mix with hazelnuts and transfer into a small container (I had mine lined with plastic wrap so I can easily pull the contents out later)

    -Let it set overnight in the fridge, but if you prefer a ‘prettier’ outcome freeze for an hour and slice up into even squares and coat in Lukuma powder

    [to see what I mean about 'prettier' just look at photo with the Blueberry Delight that has only been in the fridge and compare to the evenly cubed Fruity Delight, that has been frozen]

    [Now do you see how much we loved Turkey?]

    The Calcium Question plus Almond Milk & Superfoods Smoothie


    It has been nearly one month since my last post. Shame on me! Shame especially because I have been planning to post this important information on Calcium in Dairy, Soy and Nut Milks ever since I spoke about it at this year’s Festival of Life event.

    [Festival of Life is the largest annual Raw Vegan event in Europe and this year there were 68 presentations and workshops from amazing inspiring speakers, 100 eco vegan stalls and an uplifting conscious dance party]


    I was overwhelmed at how many turned up to my lecture and when there were not enough chairs, were even willing to stand or sit on the floor for the entire duration. And no wonder- Calcium seems to be THEE topic at the moment with Dairy consumption going up, but osteoporosis not even budging to decrease for a moment. In fact its getting worse, much worse.

    I was glad to hear David Wolfe also speak in depth about this issue at his ‘Best Ever You’ Event when he was in London just last week. That's me with the Nutrition Superstar himself...



    THE CALCIUM QUESTION
    Truths, Myths and Facts about Dairy, Soy and Nut Milks

    WHAT DO I NEED FOR STRONG BONES?
    • Calcium as you’ve all heard, but that is part of the solution
    • Bones are made of 12+ minerals, not just one
    • Osteoporosis is defined as ‘loss of minerals from bones’, not ‘calcium deficiency’
    • The right calcium- supplements are NOT the answer. In fact if you heard David Wolfe speak of bad calcification, you already know that by taking calcium supplements and eating calcium ‘enriched’ foods, you’ll build up excess of it in your system coupled with mineral deficiencies and imbalances that will cause plaque in arteries, thyroid hormone resistance, kidney stones, gallstones, osteoarthritis, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and the list goes on.
    • Vitamin D- important to absorb the calcium, now all we need is the sun (pleeease London)
    • Exercise- the more the bone is stressed, the more calcium is absorbed from the bloodstream, the more rigid structures are formed in bone cells creating the bone matrix and the stronger the bone gets

    SO DAIRY MILK THEN?

    There are several clues as to why Dairy should be the LAST resort, but there is even MORE scientific proof
    Clue #1- We are the ONLY species that drink milk from another species. Have you thought of that before?
    Clue #2- We are also the ONLY species drinking milk past infancy. Lovely
    Clue #3- Dairy consumption is on the increase, but so is Osteoporosis
    Clue #4- Dairy is the largest industry in the world bringing some serious cash to the economy, would our governments then ever tell us the truth?

    It's true that cow’s milk is very rich in calcium and other nutrients- it is afterall designed to build a WHOLE COW. But we share no anatomical similarities with a calf and have no evolutionary relationship with it either.

    We also tend to drink Dairy pasteurised and/or homogenised! This process kills many vital nutrients, makes it difficult to absorb any minerals and allows for less hygienic environments to live stock.

    I’m not done :) Most calcium in dairy is wrapped in casein (used in industrial glue and pain thickeners). To split casein and get to the calcium we need rennet. This enzyme is produced in stomachs of young mammals, but as for humans- only for the very FIRST month of our lives!


    SO HOW ABOUT SOY?

    Oh dear. There are now so many problems arising from cow’s milk, that Soy is what's made itself known as a ‘healthy’ solution. Then isn't this interesting..

    Fact #1 HIGH LEVELS OF ANTI NUTRIENTS
    Phytic Acids in Soy block body of minerals, such as magnesium, iron, zinc and CALCIUM.
    There are many enzyme inhibitors slowing protein digestion, causing growth problems and digestive issues
    Cooking doesn’t help, as soy is very resistant to heat and only long fermentation will reduce the anti nutrients content (ie. Tamari, miso and netto are OK)

    Fact #2 PHYTO-ESTROGENS AND FLAVONES
    Flavones block the thyroid function
    Phyto-estrogens closely mimic estrogen in human body, affecting levels of testosterone and impairing reproductivity
    One glass of Soy milk has been shown to have the same amount of estrogen as EIGHT birth control pills

    Fact #3 NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION
    99% of soya bean are genetically modified and have the highest percentage of contamination by pesticide of all foods

    Fact #4 SOY IS EVERYWHERE
    Most products in supermarkets are made of soya and corn (they feed this to cows too!)
    Most fish get farmed and fed soya/inverted corn syrup
    Commercial chocolate has lecithin, which comes from soya beans


    THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!

    And it's brighter than ever! There are many many foods that have calcium in a more bio- available form than Milk AND will give us even more nutrients and minerals, that are needed for healthy bones...

    SEEDS- Sesame seeds have the highest calcium content in the seed world, as Calcium is found in tough, hard things, like shells. Also sunflower seeds

    NUTS- Many kinds, like Hazelnuts and walnuts, but mainly Almonds and Brazil Nuts

    GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES- especially Collard greens, Kale, Turnip greens, but not so much Spinach, as it is very high in oxalic acid that binds with the calcium and makes calcium less available

    SEA VEGETABLES- Nori, Kombu, Agar-Agar, especially Wakame

    VEGETABLES- especially fibrous vegetables, Cabbage being the richest source, and Broccoli

    FRUIT- Figs, Olives and Apricots


    And of cause I won’t just leave it at that without giving you a recipe too, so I thought I will make a video on how to make your own Nut Milk from Almonds, as I ran out of time during my Festival of Life lecture to demonstrate this...

    ALMOND MILK AND SUPERFOODS SMOOTHIE


    For the essentials
    Blender
    Cheese cloth/ Nut Bag/ Stockings
    Jug

    For the Milk
    Almonds (soaked overnight)
    Pure Water
    Optional: pitted dates, sea salt

    For the Superfoods Smoothie
    Nut Milk (from above)
    Peaches
    Strawberries
    Lukuma Powder
    Purple Corn Flour
    Maca Root Powder

    -Follow the 4:1 ratio and use 4 Cups water to 1 Cup Soaked Nuts. Decrease the water amount for a creamier milk
    -Put nuts and water in the blender
    -If using, add dates (about 2 per one cup of nuts) and pinch of sea salt
    -Blend until smooth and strain

    -Have straight from glass, on your cereal or any way you usually have your milk, but if you are making the Smoothie, return strained milk to the blender
    -Add superfoods, then peaches and strawberries
    Note: some people find Maca too overpowering, so use about half a teaspoon per cup of Smoothie


    REFERENCES
    'The Calcium Lie: What your doctor doesn't know might kill you' by Robert Thompson and Kathleen Barnes
    'The Whole Soy Story: The dark side of America' by Kaaila Daniel
    'The Hidden dangers of Soy' by Dianne Gregg
    'The Optimum Nutrition Bible: The book you have to read if you care about your health' by Patrick Holford

    Raw Vegan Creamy Cheese of Mont Saint Michel


    (A beautiful sunny day in Paris. Morning)
    (Elliot and Tanya are waiting to collect their hired car at Gare du Nord Station to drive to Mont Saint Michel)

    Avis Lady:  Your car is ready, please sign below
    Tanya:        Oh, it says here there is a mileage limit of 250km per day with up to €0,80 per km fee after that. We are driving all the way to Normandy. And tomorrow we are driving back again.
    Avis Lady: You will be fine, it is about 230km to Normandy from Paris
    (Elliot and Tanya eagerly prepare for the scenic drive)

    GPS:        There is 380km to your destination
    (Brain calculations, followed by cursing sounds)


    This was one of those rare times, that I wish I wasn’t so quick at maths. All those tunnels to get out of Paris didn’t really help much either, as the GPS would lose signal and get us making U-turns on more than one occasion... “€1.. €2 ..€3..” turned into a song. And then the chorus to this fun song came at every Toll stop (we sung the chorus often).


    Ah well, I’ve been dreaming of seeing the Mont St Michel castle ever since Elliot and I moved to the UK over a year ago. In our unsuccessful attempt to get there when in Paris last year for all kinds of reasons (no cars available, all train tickets sold, no accommodation vacancy), we decided to give it another go in a ‘much in advance pre-organised’ fashion. A year of wait and €400 drive later, just getting there made everything worth it.

    Mont St Michel was a rocky tidal island of French Magic. I couldn’t quite stop jumping from excitement, incase that’s not evident from photos.


    If you have been to France, I don’t have to remind you twice about how much cheese there is- every menu, fridge and supermarket shelf has the most unbelievable choice of cheeses...accept...Raw Vegan. The inspiration of Mont St Michel will now forever be imbedded into my new recipe...


    RAW VEGAN CREAMY CHEESE


    This recipe has the creaminess of Cream Cheese and the tanginess of Cottage Cheese and is so divine, it's hard to believe there are only 3 simple ingredients!

    Essentials
    Blender
    Colander
    Cheese Cloth/ Nut Milk Strainer/ Nylon Mesh
    Plate
    Bowl
    Something heavy to weigh down the bowl (I used dry peas, but dumbbells or jugs with water will also work well)

    Ingredients
    1/2 Cup Macadamia Nuts
    1/2 Cup Cashew Nuts
    1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Pure Water (or just enough to cover all the nuts when in blender)
    Optional: Herbs and Spices

    -Blend everything together (If you are not using a high speed blender, you may need to occasionally stop and scrape the mixture off the sides back onto the blade. Pulse from time to time, making sure there is always some mixture touching the blades). Make sure the nuts are well ground and the mixture is creamy

    -Place the colander on a plate (this will stop the whey, which will be strained out in the process, from making a mess on the table). Place cheese cloth inside the colander

    -Pour the mixture onto the cloth (on the right, you can see the consistency is blobby, not liquidy)

    -Place the bag inside another one, or if you only own one- try turn it over itself, just as long as no mixture can escape when placing a weight on top

    -Place whatever you decided to use as a weight on top and put the stack in a place away from draughts (mine is inside the dehydrator with trays out)

    -Walk away for 24 hours. (I must admit I can never just walk away and readjusted the weight from time to time to squeeze more Whey out and also tasted the cheese in the process, but 24 hours seems to be the perfect time)


    -Transfer to the fridge for half an hour to harden, shape into logs and then roll into any herbs or spices you like (I had one log in Cracked Black, Red Pepper and Paprika and the other log in a Mix of Dried Herns including Thyme, Marjoram, Parsley, Oregano, Sage and Basil)





    I hear it lasts in the fridge for over a week too, but I wouldn't know

    Raw Vegan Spaghetti 'Meat' Balls to impress a visitor


    I am yet to figure out why it is that if Raw Food is so much better and healthier and tastier, than its’ cooked opposite, we still try to make it look the same as cooked in appearance? Why do we still call it ‘cheese’, when it’s clearly not made from dairy? Why do we call it ‘pasta’, when it’s not made of anything remotely similar? Why ‘bread’, when baking is not in the Raw Food vocabulary?


    I ask myself these questions often and yet when my [non Raw] friend and fellow blogger Roz comes to stay with us in London, I can’t help but organise a [Raw] meal that I am sure she will identify with. There it is! I have just answered my own question!!

    So if we have really become so adverse to change even in this fast evolving world of technology and need something familiar to identify with, I am certain that my Spaghetti ‘Meat’ Balls will give you all the comforting homely feeling you are after...


    RAW VEGAN SPAGHETTI 'MEAT' BALLS

    For the Essentials
    -Food Processer
    -Dehydrator
    -Blender (optional, I prefer the bolognaise sauce to be slightly chunky, so only used the Processer)
    -Spiralizer (grater will do the job too)


    For the 'Meat' Balls 
    6 Portabella Mushrooms (peeled, chopped)
    1 Cup Walnuts (soaked 1 hour)
    2+ Tbsp Hulled Flaxseeds
    1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
    2 Tbsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
    2 Tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce
    2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
    1 Tbsp Mixed Italian Spices (I used a combination of Parsley, Rosemary, Coriander, Basil and Oregano)
    1/2 tsp Cracked Pepper

    -Pour the Apple Cider Vinegar and Tamari over the chopped mushrooms, add garlic and basil leaves, stir through and leave to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours. (note if you only have little time, slice the mushrooms really thinly)

    -Rince out the water from soaked walnuts, place them with the mushrooms into a food processer with an S Blade, pulse so they are chopped fine and mixed in, but still slightly chunky

    -Depending on how long you marinated the mushrooms for, you will end up with a different amount of marinade liquid. If there is only a small amount, only add 2 Tbsp of Hulled Flaxseeds, but if your mushrooms are drowning in water, only then add 4 Tbsp of flax.

    -Also add all the spices and pulse a couple of times to let everything mix in, then let the mixture sit for half an hour for the flax to soak up the liquid.

    - Roll into any size 'Meat' Balls you like, but note that the larger it is, the longer it will take to dehydrate.
    -Place on Mesh tray of your dehydrator and dehydrate at 110degrees F for 4-6 hours


    For the Bolognaise Sauce
    3 Medium Tomatoes (chopped)
    1 Red/Orange Bell Pepper (chopped)
    1 Lemon (juiced)
    1 Cup Fresh Chopped Basil
    10 Sundried Tomato Halves (soaked min 1 hour)
    7 Dates (soaked min 1 hour)
    2 Cloves Garlic (minces)
    1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    1 Tbsp Mixed Italian Spices

    -Pop all the ingredients (accept Olive Oil and Lemon Juice) into a Food Processer and process to a sauce.

    -Add The Olive Oil and Lemon Juice and process some more. (Transfer to a blender only if you desire a smoother sauce consistency)


    For the Pasta
    2 Large Zucchinis/Courgettes

    -I used a Spiralizer, but you can also either slice the zucchini as thinly as possible lengthwise and then slice again into thinner strips lengthwise to resemble noodles or you can use a grater


    [Roz with her first Zucchini noodle! My joy is what I can only imagine is like a mother's, hearing her child speak their first word!]



    -To assemble, you can either place the noodles first, followed by sauce, then nut balls, like in the below picture, or start with the sauce, like in the top picture

    -Garnish with fresh Basil leaves



    [A work of Art, thanks to Roz's camera, which is also now on my wish list]

    [We munched and gossiped like teenage girls]