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01/19/2011

Guest post: Raw adventures in kelp noodle desserts  »

On Saturday, as I was chilling on my eco-friendly bed meditating for peace and waiting for my girlfriend to wake up so that I could tell her about my plans to become a six-figure woman, I had a radical insight about a sea vegetable—a divinely inspired culinary insight. I leaped out of bed, trying not to wake up the hotness still dozing beside me, and knew what I had to do. There was a seaweed that had been inappropriately neglected in the raw dessert world, and it just so happened to be sitting in my fridge! Ladies and bois and grrls and men and trannies, I now introduce you to: RAW KELP NOODLES IN DESSERTS!

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before: raw kelp noodles have practically no flavor after you soak them, have a super-awesome texture and there’s like three calories for a big bowl. They soak up sauces (check out the wonderful Heather Pace‘s delish-looking recipes for savory raw vegan kelp noodles) and keep their form in both hot and cold dishes. Imagine eating raw cacao-coated kelp noodles, oozing with flavor but still light and low on the glycemic index. Yes!

Here’s my first attempt at using raw kelp in desserts. Spirulina genius/partner extraordinaire Courtney Pool enjoyed them, too. I hope others start experimenting with the concept of kelp in dessert!


Raw Cacao Kelp Noodles

Ingredients
Kelp noodles
raw cacao paste (I recommend sourcing from Vivapura)
coconut flakes (optional—also good to get from Vivapura),
water
sea salt
stevia.

Instructions
Soak kelp noodles for a while; 20 minutes is good, or you can do longer if you’d like them to be a bit plumper. Melt the cacao paste (with a dehydrator, or on the stove with low heat, or in the sun…), then add a bit of cold water and immediately stir frantically until it becomes a mousse. Check out Vegansaurus’ chocolate chantilly recipe for directions on achieving this texture. Add in stevia to taste and a dash of sea salt. Then, toss in the kelp noodles and coat evenly. Chill in the fridge. Add a sprinkle of coconut as garnish, or perhaps some other topping you’d like. Enjoy!

This is Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown’s latest post, a slightly different version of which originally appeared here. Read more by Sarah on Vegansaurus, and visit her personal blog, Spiritual Hipsteria. Thanks, Sarah!

12/31/2010

HOLY CATS, look at this chocolate cake from Christine of The Raw Project! She’s got a million more photos of it, too, all of which look tremendous. And it’s another grandma-pleaser!

HOLY CATS, look at this chocolate cake from Christine of The Raw Project! She’s got a million more photos of it, too, all of which look tremendous. And it’s another grandma-pleaser!

12/24/2010

Product review: Lydia’s Kale Krunchies!  »

Remember that lecture your mom gave you when you were a kid about how it’s better to pour your servings out into a bowl or individually-portioned baggie before chowing down? Your Mom never tried Lydia’s Kale Krunchies.

A food that we don’t bother pouring into a bowl speaks more to its unspeakable goodness rather than, say, our innate inability to wait until we can get to a proper serving vessel. It’s undeniable that kale chips are a messy endeavor; whether baked or dehydrated, the toppings inevitably cascade off the chunks of shriveled greens onto your face, clothing, and sustainably designed floor, and to avoid spillage should probably be served in a sensible bowl.

Lydia’s kale chips defy sensibility—there’s no logical reason why her curly greens doused in a nuts-and-spices purée should taste so out-of-this-world good, but sweet lord they do. While I have enjoyed various versions of kale chips served by friends, ex-lovers, LA’s Flore Vegan, and the cafe at my raw vegan workplace, the Tree of Life in Patagonia, Ariz., and I can honestly say Lydia’s kale chips are hands-down the best chips around.

My favorite blend is Herbs de Provence— the delicate, herb-infused flavor reminds me of  summering in the south of France with my family. That’s right, I’m high class! Now excuse me while I spend 20 minutes scrubbing these kale crumbs from underneath my fingernails. Here’s to low-calorie, ethical, messy cuisine!

This is Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown’s latest post, originally published here. Read more by Sarah on Vegansaurus, and visit her personal blog, Spiritual Hipsteria. Thanks, Sarah!

11/23/2010

Guest post: Why are there so many ex-raw vegans?  »

Friends, strangers, vegans at large, please welcome back our official raw food writer—and our favorite eater of raw food in general—Sarah E. Brown!

For more than six months, I’ve served as the Vegansaurus raw vegan correspondent, and I’ve been delighted to report about Bay Area raw food awesomeness in a light-hearted fashion.

But this is a serious post. A very, very serious one. It’s about the very real, growing epidemic of ex-raw vegans. First, I should say that this is not a post aimed at typical vegans who sometimes cook food and sometimes don’t. Please understand, I’m not out to lord raw veganism over anyone trying to live compassionately (and deliciously) as a plain old awesome vegan. This post is directed towards ex-raw vegans, many of whom (though certainly not all)  came into the vegan movement for health reasons, then left it for health reasons that are downright avoidable.

Many find they feel better for a while when they incorporate more raw, plant-source-only food in their diets, and eliminating the dense animal proteins, processed sugars and refined carbohydrates that are endemic to the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Yet it is commonly observed that many raw food vegans eventually start feeling “less-than-optimal,” and begin reintegrating animal products into their diets. So why do many mostly live, plant-source-only eaters switch to animal products? It could be that the typical, raw-cacao-filled, high-glycemic, raw vegan diet is the culprit of this lifestyle conversion. How could plants, especially plants in their raw state, be high-glycemic? Of course fruit sugar is better than processed sugar, but it still affects our bodies. In addition, many of our essential minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids (including the all-important mood and health-boosting Omega-3s) come from lower-glycemic, raw vegan foods. What does this mean? It means the “fun,” dried fruit-filled, agave-filled, high-sugary-fruit-filled raw diets, which initially draw people into the lifestyle and can help them initially get healthier—because they are still taking in less harmful stuff than on the SAD diet—cause them to burn out. Cacao can also fatigue the adrenals when it is not eaten in moderation.

The problem with formerly raw vegans who eat this way is that they often believe their imbalanced diets to be due to the fact that there are no animal products, when many health experts, including Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., have shown that this is not the case. Instead of eschewing their ethical diets in favor of animal products, raw vegans can feel better by changing the nature of their raw vegan diets. Perhaps that might mean incorporating some more grounding cooked vegan dishes like quinoa or lightly cooked soups and vegetables. It might also mean cutting down on high-glycemic, raw vegan foods and desserts in favor of a more balanced diet.

The secret to sticking with a vegan diet long-term is to focus on longevity. If being a vegan for the long haul means you’ll need to kick ass and take names at every vegan bake sale, then honey substitute, DO IT! But if you’re a raw vegan in it for health, that means eating more mineral and essential nutrient-dense, lower-glycemic, raw vegan foods and supplements. Dr. Cousens has recently published an article that explains how both meat eaters and vegans—raw and predominantly non-raw—need to supplement their diets with essential nutrients such as B-12 and essential fatty acids like DHAs. So we can all keep living this way, it’s good to pop a pill every once in a while and eat some greens. OK? That’s all I’m saying. Here’s to ex-raw vegans realizing you can be healthy and avoid killing and exploiting things, because that means less overall suffering.

This is the latest in Sarah E. Brown’s raw vegan series for Vegansaurus. Thanks, Sarah!

[top photo by joana hard; bottom photo by Urban Mixer]

08/13/2010

Product review: Ultimate Superfoods chlorella spirulina tablets!  »

Have you ever wanted to drop E but not really because you are on a more orthodox spiritual path and, like, this isn’t sophomore year of Vassar anymore? WELL, guess what? This is your jam. Spirulina-chlorella tablets are chewy, cheese-like, protein-filled algae pills that you crush up with your teeth—you know, like most pills. Similar to the drug that my neurologist papa says puts Swiss-cheese holes in your BRAIN, these tabbies make you feel like you are swimming in a pool of happy feelings without causing you to wake up in your roommate’s bunk bed wearing only her little sister’s boxers.

This is the latest post by Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown. It originally appeared here. Thanks, Sarah!

03/17/2010

Have Cake, Will Travel, win a book!  »

Celine of Have Cake, Will Travel has a copy of Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets that she wants to give to you! All you have to do to enter it is leave a comment on her excellent, fact-filled post no later than noon on Friday, Mar. 19 (that’s Pacific time!); a winner will be selected at random. Good luck!

03/11/2010

Raw vegan food from Vivapura rocks!  »

Unless you’ve been living in a fantasyland that involves subsisting on only defrosted leftovers from SF Vegan Bakesales (hey, I don’t judge!), you probably know we vegans can benefit greatly from supplementing our deep-fried vegan Twinkie intake with some raw greens now and then.

Whether or not you fall into the camp that refrains from cooking their food, if you enjoy yummies that taste amazing and are still healthful for you, I highly recommend checking out the excitingly awesome products from the brand-new raw vegan superfoods company Vivapura, located super-close to the Tree of Life raw vegan retreat center in Patagonia, Ariz., which is a tiny town (pop. 1,000) 20 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border where approximately one in 10 residents is a raw food vegan.

Since I live just up the road from Vivapura (I’m currently living and working at working at the Tree of Life), I recently had a chance to drop by the Vivapura warehouse factory and sample a bunch of their stuff. According to Vivapura’s website, superfoods are “plant-based foods that boast extraordinary energizing and healing properties due to their abundance and density of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, and other vital nutrients.” From the stuff I tried, I have to say I can’t feel a noticeable change in my body, but either way, Vivapura’s stuff tastes amazing. Their superfood products range from raw regulars like cacao nibs, cocounut flakes, gogi berries etc. to more obscure items like wild-harvested spirulina crunchies (spirulina is a protein-packed algae that tastes way better than it should) and several proprietary blends of upscale, nutella-like coconut chocolate crème spread. All of their products are organically grown, ethically sourced and sold at really reasonable prices! (Note: Vivapura does sell a few bee-derived products, which I avoid of course, but everything else is animal-product-free.)

As of right now, Vivapura is only available to SF Bay Area folks through ordering directly from the company’s website or the Tree of Life Culture of Life Store. The good news is Director of Retail Sales Erika Rier assures me Vivapura has laid the groundwork to get their loveliness into Rainbow Grocery, and other local Bay Area independent organic stores really soon. If you want Vivapura products sooner rather than later (which, trust me, you do!) Rier says to request them from your independent local organic retailer.

This is the latest post by Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah! [image from Vivapura]

02/05/2010

I am Seva, hear me roar! Raw vegan adventures at the Tree of Life  »

Today I awoke to a gorgeous sunrise over the desert mountain range of Patagonia, Ariz. The wispy clouds swirling around the peaks in the distance reminded me of the geography of my previous hometown, San Francisco. Besides that, the red rock and cactus-infused landscape here at Tree of Life, which is nestled in the midst of highly spiritual nexus of several energy meridians, is a totally new environment for me. But with each day, this oasis feels more like home.
It is my fourth day here at Tree of Life, or as many folks here affectionately call it, “the Tree.” I was brought in to be the Tree’s newest Seva, which is “a deeply intense spiritual journey of commitment, intimacy and transformation.” Being a Seva provides an opportunity for those with spiritual perseverance (or, netzakh in Hebrew, a language spoken in the Essene Kabbalistic Jewish tradition that, along with the American Lakota tradition and the Nityananda Yoga traditions, underpins the spiritual foundation of the community here) to do an individualized work-trade that harmoniously links their particular gifts and the needs of Tree of Life community. 

Besides paying for my flight from SFO and transportation from the Tucson airport, situated an hour and a half from the Tree’s location in Patagonia, and a small fee to live in the staff dorms, every other aspect of living here is included in the work-trade arrangement. This includes yoga classes, meditation and chanting sessions, Inipi (sweat lodges), access to hot tubs, a sauna, personal growth workshops, music and dance programming, incredibly delicious, mostly local and all-organic vegan live food cuisine, and most importantly, the invaluable chance to immerse myself in a unique, spiritual, raw vegan community. All of this is in exchange for my commitment to help Tree of Life to innovate and expand its online media presence to spread the organization’s beautiful teachings of peace, spiritual living and live food veganism to heal the planet.

From just a few short days here, I can already see how much this place changes lives. The day after I arrived, I attended a women-only Inipi, which involved howling and crying and singing and sending out prayers for women in our lives and all women everywhere in a steam-filled, womb-like cavern under the guidance of the fabulous, highly-respected live foodist, dance, spiritual and energy healer Parashakti. Afterward, as we 15 or so women toweled off while sipping organic green juice and grapefruit juice in a warm teepee, people shared the most beautiful words of gratitude for the experience. I felt myself getting wet around the eyes, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just leftover steam!

Thanks for reading! I’ll keep try to keep Vegansaurus updated with my raw vegan Tree of Life adventures, including copious pictures of the amazing things the live vegan café prepares.

This is the latest post by Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah!

01/13/2010

Un-Cookbook review: The Raw Healing Patch! Veganize your rawness!  »

In my last post on Vegansaurus, I offered a few strategies for making raw organic foods more accessible and affordable, especially for young people and lower-income folks living in the Bay Area. Wherever you fall on the raw-to-cooked spectrum, it’s indisputable that the raw food movement is helping to bring more folks into the vegan fold, which is something all vegans can be happy about. It seems to me that if we find creative ways to motivate raw foodists to go full-on vegan (e.g., rain down on them with mad knowledge, advice, free vegan food and love), we can help them discover that, through raw veganism, they can make a huge difference not only for their own health, but also for the health of the planet. A couple good places to start are local nonprofit People’s Grocery and Lauren Ornelas’ fabulous food justice/human rights/environmental advocacy group the Food Empowerment Project, which work to source ethical products and make organic produce accessible to everyone.

In the spirit of accessibility, I recently got my hands on a copy of The Healing Patch Cookbook produced by the down-to-earth, super-ecologically conscious, queer veg couple Julie Cara Hoffenberg and Sarah Woodward, who together make up the raw food team known as The Healing Patch. The cookbook, which they were kind enough to also make available in an eco-friendly e-book format, is utterly unpretentious, and a great way to usher rawies into the ethical vegan eating path. Hoffenberg and Woodward make clear throughout the witty cookbook that their way of eating and (un)cooking is just that—their way—and that they would never wish to impose them on anyone else; yet they are very clear that raw veganism has remarkably improved their lives. Healing Patch’s primary goal is to offer gentle coaxing to adopt a raw vegan lifestyle, basing their recipes and advice on what helped Woodward heal after her battle with ovarian cancer. Thankfully, they do this without laying on the sorts of guilt-trips or strict guidelines usually found in these .

Healing Patch’s recipes are really easy to make, require no esoteric ingredients, and have cute little factoids, including nutritional profiles. They also offer useful tips on economical home sprouting, gardening, selecting the best produce for each season, and how to substitute recipe ingredients for whatever is local and fresh whenever possible. They succeed at providing ample tricks for being a raw vegan while healing yourself and the planet at the lowest possible expense.

The one issue I take with this otherwise charming volume is that some of the recipes include dairy, ostensibly in order to help folks to “transition more gently” to raw veganism. This is disappointing, especially since the authors clearly believe in the tenets of raw veganism and oppose cruelty and oppression. It seems to me like the duo hasn’t quite made the connection that the dairy industry is horribly cruel and directly supports the meat industry. Maybe they should pick up feminist masterpiece The Sexual Politics of Meat by my personal hero Carol J. Adams—which, by the way, has just been released in a newly updated 20th anniversary edition!

Once Healing Patch gets educated in the ways of vegan feminism by Adams, I’m sure they’ll be willing to make all of their recipes totally vegan. Feel free to comment to them about this on their website—it will be good practice for the raw foodists you’ll be converting to raw veganism in the near future! Anyway, hopefully the next edition of The Healing Patch (which I do hope they eventually write!) will address this concern.

This is the second post written by Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah!

12/17/2009

The poor vegan’s guide to eating raw and organic on the cheap in the Bay Area  »

As an early 20-something living in the Mission, working for just above minimum wage at a peace nonprofit in East Bay, balancing my drive to be an ethical consumer while adhering to a hella tight budget can be a real challenge. To avoid breaking the bank, I often bypass expensive bars, shops, concerts, clothing stores in favor of free or inexpensive local shows, lectures, art openings, meditation classes and second-hand clothing and wares.  But as an ethical vegan who eats primarily raw, when it comes to feeding myself and those I care about, there are no exceptions: I refuse to purchase anything but organic, local when possible, fresh produce and raw vegan food.

It’s a no-brainer that a diet rich in raw foods is extremely healthful and sustainable for the planet. Cooking foods, especially greens and other nutrient-dense vegetables, kills their live enzymes and makes them less usable by the body. I personally believe that life is about balance, and I am certainly not out to keep anyone from downing ample quantities of Souley Vegan’s sinfully good baked Mac n’ Cheese. But it’s indisputable fact that we vegans need to care for our health. I would argue that the raw food movement has been really remarkable in that it brings a lot of folks to veganism that might not otherwise be motivated to care about food-justice issues. The vegan and raw food movements definitely intersect, but it would be naïve to say that someone who is raw is vegan. Many raw foodists eschew cooked foods but still eat raw dead animals and consume feminized animal protein (raw cheese, milk, etc.).

Unfortunately, raw organic vegan food in the Bay Area has gotten a bad rap for being pretentious (ahem, Landmark) and/or financially inaccessible. This keeps a lot of lower-income folks, especially minorities, out of the raw food movement. A recent raw food festival I went to at the Living Light Raw Culinary Institute in Fort Bragg, Calif., featured speakers, music, tons of raw food products and ultra-fancy, expensive appliances like Dehydrators, sprouters, spiralizers, and ultra-fancy juicers and blenders and, unsurprisingly, very few young people and people of color. This event only further confirmed my suspicion that the raw vegan divide seems to follow class and age lines, and that’s something that I think can easily change. It’s something I want to see change.

So how is it possible to be an organic raw vegan food while living on the cheap? My first piece of advice is to glean as much information as you can from the Internet about what raw foodism is all about and how to do it right (you probably won’t feel super hot if you eat only raw nuts and dried fruit). For some Bay Area-specific tips, check out my nifty guide below. If you’re lower-income and struggling to be a raw food vegan, please share your story with me. I would love to help us band together to figure out creative ways to make raw veganism easier and more fun!

1. Go to Farmers’ Markets as they are about to close. Many vendors offer surplus produce at free or heavily discounted prices.

2. Check grocery stores produce sections for bulk bags of slightly bruised or perfectly ripe organic produce. These are often marked down to almost nothing.

3. Find a Food Not Bombs in your area: The vegan organization provides free, mostly organic vegan meals, which often include raw food.

4. The Gratitude Bowl. Café Gratitude offers a sliding-scale raw vegan dish. It’s filled with kale and tahini and is very filling. If you can afford to subsidize someone else’s bowl, it’s a great way to support lower-income folks’ access to raw food veganism.

5. Visit Alive!* at the Tuesday and Thursday Ferry Building Farmer’s Markets. They offer many hearty items at a much smaller price than they do at their restaurant.

6. Host a raw vegan potluck with your friends. Everyone can chip in and defray the costs while creating a delicious spread. Try Gone Raw for recipe tips.

6. Buy Kaia Foods.* A raw vegan company located in Oakland, Calif., Kaia is committed to making truly affordable raw foods including granolas, sunflower seeds and fruit leathers that are delicious and totally healthy. Plus they donate 1% of their profits to combat world hunger.

7. Sprout your own sprouts! Bike over to Rainbow (or any other grocery store) and pick up some bulk dried chickpeas, mung beans, lentils (just not kidney or black beans, they are poisonous raw!), soak them overnight, then let them air-dry in a mason jar with a bit of cloth or mesh on top. Rinse them once or twice a day, letting them air dry until they have cute little tails. To avoid any bacteria that might grow in those wet, moist environments, after sprouts are full grown, soak them in a bowl of water with a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide (it’s totally safe!) for half an hour. Rinse, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for super-filling, super-cheap, protein-rich, crunchy treat for salads, wraps, etc.

*Full disclosure: my beautiful, also raw vegan girlfriend works at Kaia Foods and I myself worked for a total of one days at the Alive! Farmers’ Market stand.

This post was written by Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah!

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