I’m just going to blurt it out.
You are in for a treat and so are our friends and visitors and clients because… drum roll… I am enrolled on a course! It is going to be busy because actually I am enrolled on two! As anyone who knows me could have told you actually, why do one thing when you can do more?
In my last post I said I am not a chef and it is true, but now I AM GOING TO BE ONE!
A real raw food certified chef from ‘the’ top school. So I may not post much for the next 4-8 weeks, or it could go the other way and you could be treated to my high achievements – and the lower points.
That reminds me of being asked to make chocolate fudge cakes for The Damn Yankee, where I was trainee manager once upon a time. They thought I could do it without problem especially as it was using a mix. Well, you did add a lot of things so I don’t think its giving away any trade secrets and I didn’t sign anything.
Anyway, I added the things, whisked and mixed, became VERY confused over the instructions which were talking about different altitudes needing different oven temperatures but I did it. I made them. I was so pleased and happy because they worked and didn’t look too bad at all. And relieved to have finished because it took three times longer than they said it would.
I was pretty splattered but that was to be expected wasn’t it? I still wear food a lot, you will rarely see me in white where food or drinks are available.
Off I went home to get changed for my evening shift feeling satisfied and excited to hear what they would say when I arrived and they (bosses, colleagues etc) saw the wonderful gooey chocolatey cakes in the upstairs kitchen. I think it was only used for making those cakes each week as it was in the newly refurbished and empty flat above the restaurant.
When I came back all smiles and awaiting praise I couldn’t understand the stoney glare that greeted me – “Desri, lets go upstairs shall we….” I knew it wasn’t good, maybe they weren’t as springy as I had thought.
Sean opened the kitchen door and said “Just look at it!”. I looked at the stark white kitchen, bare other than the mixer and the cakes, then I looked again. Oh deary me , there was chocolate splattered on the walls, on the Mixer, on the floor and even hahaha, now I can laugh, on the ceiling!!!
I hated cooking, I was rubbish at school and as you know I still rarely bake a real cake and hardly ever a decent one.
They never asked me to do it again. Yey!
FOOTNOTE – Do not use that as a reference for your own experience! A very similar thing happened when I had to clean out the ice cream machine, but it didn’t have the same result, I was made to clean it every time until I could do it with less mess.
Runs in the family – Joel wearing Ice cream and Aimee wearing chocolate, thing is, they were only little 😉Learn More
My lovely daughter asked for some tips for easy, tasty, fast and cheap packed lunches.
Tired of the, and by the, sandwiches, wraps, even more supposedly healthy options available within easy reach of where she works in Paris she needed to get back on top of this.
Everyone needs to enjoy a meal and function on all cylinders afterwards at lunch time no matter what we do. Lighter, brighter, cleaner food helps lift our mood rather than lower it (foods can do both), give us energy, keep us fresh and physically and mental bright and vibrant.
Even the best of us need motivation sometimes, she is a very healthy eater, amazing cook, experimental and enjoys the best of France too (think of those divine cheese stands at the market, the freshest fish, I won’t go on) so she came a-calling on Momma. Who, by the way, also goes to her and literally hundreds of recipe books both cooked and raw for inspiration.
First, of course I mentioned green smoothies, my go to lunch at least 4 out of 7 days a week but she wanted something ‘to eat!’ so I suggest making some wraps of sliced or even pulsed which is faster (unless you have a mandolin – which I have but dare not use, it looks lethal!) vegetables. Carrots, mushrooms, spring or red onion, radishes, avocado, whatever you have and like, even some cauliflower or broccoli.
Mix it all up with a few herbs if you have them, maybe a good sprinkle of ready to eat sea salad, a drop of olive oil or sesame oil would give a more oriental flavour and some balsamic or a drop of tamari or soy sauce some good combinations to mix in small quantities OR to put in a mini sealed pot to dip into:
- olive oil – balsamic – basil – salt n pepper
- sesame oil – soy sauce/tamari/ liquid amos (I use the coconut version with no soy) – splash of maple – pepper
- Teriyaki sauce (I use the coconut version, because it has no soy)
- a blended avocado, drop of cider vinegar, pinch salt, italian herbs or chopped chives
- juice of one orange, splash of soy sauce/tamari/ liquid amos (I use the coconut version with no soy), dash of olive oil, sprinkle of sea salad. I think this is one of my favourite dressings for salad too, I put lots on and happily drink what is left out of my bowl, if we don’t have visitors of course.
- blended plums (3 or 4), a sprinkle cider vinegar, chilli depending on taste and heat, tbsp olive oil, onion – match quantity to size of one plum, a small chunk of fresh ginger, a date or two and, depending on meetings, a clove of garlic.
You could make a raw wrapper, use a wholewheat pitta bread, corn tortilla or a great and light one is a rice wrapper that they sell for spring rolls.
As with all my recipes adjust to suit you. I am not a chef, I throw things together and make them work (and occasionally they don’t) and I have been doing this for many, many years so know what we like and work more on instinct – even when following a cooked recipe, it has to be said, much to Aimee’s dismay. And Robins on occasion, as you can see here .
Nom nom.Learn More
This is such a quick and satisfying meal, a bit like (a lot like actually) a creamy risotto.
I do adore risotto, full of butter and garlic, wine and parmesan. My favourite is with scallops and prawns. And that is a treat, occasionally.
This one is for any time, no guilt, delicious taste, lovely feel, satisfaction all round. And it is fast.
I made enough for two using 1/2 a medium sized cauliflower which I pulsed along with things I had in the fridge, these turned out to be (yes, that’s what it is like in our house 😉
hang on, the ‘I wasn’t expecting that’ song is on, about to have a weep, I need to turn it off….
…and I am back but I didn’t. There were not many tears but they were hot and heavy with sadness; sweet release of tears held in since the latest in a long line of parental rejection, even at my age it hurts and we learn – if we are lucky – to to put it in context rather than in a box waiting to burst open so that, for me these days, I only have a few hot fat tears rather than fountains from years gone by. We need to release!
Put a sad song on, let yourself go, weep it all away, it is not wallowing, it is cleansing -obviously it can be temporary if you don’t cleanse those emotions and back logs deeply but not everybody wants to or knows they can. But it is really, very beneficial. Just one song though otherwise it could turn into a wallow and who needs that? Not us. Then jump up, spin around, run up and down the stairs, think of something funny, change your posture, stand tall, smile, smile, smile and get on with your day.
Anyway, back we come – so I pulsed half a cauliflower with half a red pepper, a fat spring onion, a lone mushroom and a few sprigs of coriander.
I tipped it into a bowl and then (without washing the food processor bowl) I put in half an avocado, some cashew cream I had left over from something or other (yogurt would be good or the rest of the avocado), a drop (about 2 teaspoons) of cider vinegar and whizzed it up.
Then I stirred it into the grainy mix in the bowl and served!Learn More
I just neeeeeed something savoury. I am so distracted by it I couldn’t even decide on my title.
I don’t want juice or smoothies or chocolate or ice cream or anything other than something mouth-wateringly savoury!
So that is salty, deeply flavoured, oily, maybe a hint of sweet to push those flavours even deeper.
I’m thinking Indian takeaway, Cantonese sizzling beef with all those bits and sweet and sour prawns, BBQ spare ribs, full English breakfast…
So what do I do about that then? Not only do I not want to have those because I am being ‘good’ and even if I wasn’t I never feel good after eating any of those things so I rarely do. Also I am in the middle of very rural France and the nearest place to find anything near something on that list is not local (lucky for us and one of the reasons why it is the perfect place for a retreat, no temptation!).
After a fast fridge rummage here’s what I have done about it –
I sliced up a couple of mushrooms and tossed them around in a mixture of olive oil, coconut amos, smoked paprika and maple syrup with some finely chopped rosemary (not sure that will add anything or not, it was a token green leaf though).
I had one mushroom left, which isn’t much use alone, so sliced and tossed that with oil, balsamic vinegar and fleur de sel for a good old salt and vinegar crisp flavour with a grown up twist.
After a while of tossing and leaving and tossing again I put them all in the dehydrater (if you don’t have one it doesn’t matter, see below) which is where they are now. I did eat a few on the way and they are so what I needed. It is amazing what will cut through a craving.
The sucre/salé flavour (the first marinade) was so divine I made some more and am waiting for sliced aubergines to absorb some of it whilst I write. Lets face it, I am really writing to keep me occupied so I don’t keep pinching the warm mushrooms from the dehydrator!
I need to address something here. If you don’t have the ingredients or equipment that are used in a raw food recipe it is usually easy to adapt to what you do have. It is very different from making a cake which needs three eggs and you only have one, that wouldn’t work (I know, I’ve tried it).
Also, if you are wanting to be healthy and clean you do not have to be raw! No, you don’t. You can be and you can eat a lot of raw foods and you can eat things cooked or prepared in the best way you have available to you. I do not eat an all raw diet all the time by any means. I do have blips into all raw (and have spent a lot of time being all raw for reasons I’ll one day share). Mainly we eat a lot of raw foods, high vegetarian, little dairy (love cheese, you should see the cheese stall at our local market, drool) unprocessed and using the best ingredients I can find and afford to use.
Here are some tips on adaptation using the recipes above as an example:
If you don’t have coconut amos, it is the first time I have actually – I only discovered them last time I was in the UK, you could use Brags liquid amos, or light soy sauce, or plain old soy sauce.
No Maple syrup? Use Agave or date syrup or blend up some dates or dried figs would work. Really not a good idea to use general sugar or golden syrup obviously (I think that’s obvious given what we are doing here, if not let me know below ;). I think at a push you could blend some sweet fruit, I’ll give it a go and report back on that one.
Smoked paprika is quite yummy for giving that deeply savoury almost barbequed flavour. If you don’t have it try a bit of chili, mustard would probably give a good result, something a bit punchy. Garlic would be great.
And of course, the dehydrator… so yesterday was very hot and I put some soaked almonds and some fresh lemon balm out to dry in the sun. My Man has been promising for years to make me a hanging cage with shelves that I can dehydrate things in outside but he keeps having to do stuff like re-point the back wall, mow the field, design a product, help a client etc and so it continues to be on the list. The point being that you could dehydrate outside if the weather was being helpful. You could also put the oven on low and leave the door open though somehow, when ever I hear that theory, I just shudder at how expensive it is to leave your oven on and the door open.
Anyway the other option, and probably what I would do in real life, is just put them in the oven on low with the door shut. They would be ‘a bit’ cooked, yes, but they will still be very good nutritionaly, healthwise and taste amazing! You could just heat them until they have softened and warmed. There would be a difference in that the juices would run a bit which isn’t a problem, it is just a difference.
So remember if you don’t have something in one of my recipes, adapt. Then it is not a problem it is merely a difference and we all like to be different don’t we?
I can’t think of anything else useful to say, I am just going to check out those mushrooms in the dehydrator…
And we all know that is true don’t we?
So, we are doing our ‘especially lean and clean’ week and it is going, as MM would say, very well indeed. We are juicing first thing. Well, after our lemon water. Green smoothies around lunch time followed by more juice (one I made earlier with the first and put in the fridge). It’s hot here so we are also hydrating with cucumber and water melon juice, also juiced at the same time because washing the juicer is not my favourite pass time, with half a lemon squeezed into it and cut half and half with water; so refreshing.
But, yes, after a few days that can get boring, too sweet, too wet, too…..good!
So how to balance it? Sometimes it needs more time and preparation. Sometimes you can just add in a less ‘clean’ ingredient, as long as the balance is tipped more in the clean direction.
Here are a couple of examples:
For a really fast fix, say you are craving and leaning towards a cheese sandwich, burger, pizza or all three, or just getting really grumpy. Whatever, you need it NOW!
Get a few courgettes (which you will always have on standby as they are so versetile – courgette post needed) and spiralise them or use a vegetable peeler to peel them into ribbons. Splosh on some fruity olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon, sprinkle of salt and pepper, a crushed clove of garlic and toss it all together. Put into individual bowls (easier with this one than a serving bowl otherwise one person will get all the topping and another almost none). Now for the really good and a bit naughty (if you are doing an especially lean n clean week) bit – top each serving with a generous grating of delicious parmesan cheese, torn basil leaves and a sprinkle of chilli flakes or ground black pepper. Et voila!
The night before last we had Mexican – Tortillas piled high! I was so excited about them and the football that I forgot to take a photo.
I made and dehydrated my tortillas, from vegetables and flax, but lets face it, bought corn tortillas softened or crisped up in the oven (no fat!) depending on how you like them would not be a bad choice.
I warmed halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced red peppers and spring onions all sprinkled with spicy, smoked paprika outside in the sun; I put them on a tray and covered them in cling film, it worked a treat.
We put that mix on the tortillas and topped with the following:
Guacamole – I simply pulsed (you could chop and mix by hand, of course) an avocado, spring onion and tomatoe with the juice of a lime, a sprinkle of sea salt and scattered it with chopped coriander leaves.
Salsa – I blended a couple of tomatoes, 4 sundried tomatoes (my own from last year whoop, whoop!), 2 dates, a glug of apple cider vinegar, a dried chilli and a clove of garlic.
Sour cream – for this you could use natural yogurt or kefir (strain through a coffee filter resting in a sieve to make it nice and creamy). This time I made a cashew sour cream with-cheesy-on-top flavour by blending a handful (I have small hands so its cheaper 😉 of soaked natural cashews with some of their soak water (judge how much you need as you make it), a squirt of lemon juice (adjust to taste at the end), a tablespoon of lecithin (not necessary if unavailable) and the same of nutritional yeast (which gave it the cheesy flavour. It would have worked without as plain sour cream) plus a sprinkle of sea salt and a good few grinds of mixed pepper.
Yumaloo! It took about three hours for the bits in the sun though they would have been fine fresh or even warmed through and softened in the oven.
And it was still lean and clean and full of natural goodness. Perfect for watching the footy match.
Apart from my team lost. Oh, Wales, we love you!
Its extra clean ‘n’ lean time again (why don’t we just keep it up continuously?!).
Anyway, I’m not beating myself up about that I am embracing what IS.
My first thought, as usual, “oh, I’m so excited!” closely followed by “Oh, I’m so deprived….”. Especially when in the book I am reading they are sitting down to gin and tonics before dinner, delicious morsels followed by sumptuous meals with sauces and fine wines and all the things I LOVE and we meet friends and they are all going out to the bar that night and having pizzas and a very merry time and we, My Man (MM) and me, have ‘that’ conversation –
Me “How come everyone else just eats normally and drinks when they want and has lots of coffee and cake and they all look healthy and happy and are having SO MUCH FUN?!”
MM “Yes, it does seem that way, maybe we should give up giving things up?”
Me “Well, no we are lucky we can do this and have all the equipment and knowledge and its delicious anyway and we feel so much better…. Don’t we?”
MM “Yes, we do. Lets just get on with it” (he knows me so well)
Me “But, but, but, but, but”.
As MM always says, with his Master NLP head on, I am a miss matcher. I want what I can not have or the opposite of what I can have. I buy fish for dinner and by dinner time I do not want fish under any circumstances (of course I eat the fish, and enjoy it when I have it, I’m not spoilt just contrary ;).
So I had a little think.
When I eat clean, delicious (I am quite good at it even if I do say so myself, and so I should be, people pay me!!) food I feel lighter in mood and body. Within a day I feel this way so nothing to do with losing weight. Neither of us are over weight but we do get kinda flabby when we eat the bad stuff too often, as happens sometimes (yes, I admit it, even people who help others eat well and feel better are human, who knew? You can see another post on this here).
Today is the start of day three. I am less puffy, 3kg lighter, brighter and feeling great. We do eat pretty healthily 90% of the time. We drink wine (me) and beer or wine (MM) too frequently but rarely to excess.
After one beer/glass of wine we relax and stop thinking about work – that was always how it was anyway when we were working 12 + hour days at high pressure. Now life is more relaxed. Yes, loads needs doing, we live in a very old house and there is always a wall that needs re-pointing, a field to mow, loads of cleaning to do, the website to update (new one coming soon!!!) and jewellery orders to fulfil and designs to work on.
But old habits die hard.
When we eat more lightly, drink juices and smoothies and no alcohol, the day is longer. We are not chasing the party feeling. We are calmer. We do more like going for a walk late evening, just sitting outside instead of in front of the TV, and so feel more satisfied.
So I flipped the thought that I am deprived and thought “I feel so good, imagine depriving myself of this light, calm, peaceful, productive-in-a-good-way feeling” – It worked. I know it sounds simple and I really, really had to feel it, it wasn’t just a throw away thought. And I have to keep reminding myself that I love feeling like this. I have a divine perfumed bath at the end of the day, my indulgent reward, with my book and stay there for hours tumbling into bed afterwards and feeling good about my day. What is not to like?
Flip that thought, it takes a bit of work but so does staying awake in front of the TV with a pizza and bottle of wine inside you or thinking over and over “I’m so tired/fat/spotty/grumpy/stressed/down/joyless/unhappy/angry/anxious/add your word here”.
If you need help don’t hesitate to ask – flip phrases free for you XX