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Ask a Foodie: What’s the Difference between Apple Juice and Cider?


Is it juice or is it cider?

Q. I was in the juice aisle the other day and I noticed a lot of bottles, some marked apple juice and others market apple cider. I read a few labels, but I couldn’t figure out what the difference was between the two of them. Do you know?

— Pam

A. There is no difference between the products you are talking about. In the eyes of the labeling gods at the U.S. government, the words can be used interchangeably.

But there is a difference between apple cider and apple juice in the bigger picture.

Cider traditionally has referred to fruit juice that is natural, unprocessed and raw, which is why it can ferment into a liquor or what is known as “hard cider.” You sometimes find fresh cider in the refrigerator section. If it looks darker and murkier than you’re used to, it’s because cider is not filtered and it’s likely that it has not been pasteurized. If it is not pasteurized, it should say so on the label, again another government requirement.

According to a website from the state of Massachusetts, “Cider needs constant refrigeration because it is perishable. It will stay sweet and unfermented for up to two weeks. Cider can also be frozen, but be sure to pour off an inch or two from the container for expansion during freezing.”

Apple juice has been pasteurized and most likely filtered, the government site says.

If you have a question for Ask a Foodie, email walker@savorsa.com or griffin@savorsa.com.

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Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl


Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl

Nomi Shannon, aka the Raw Gourmet, created this easy yet bold salad using ingredients you’re like to have around your kitchen. Don’t have something? Try a variation. As Shannon says, “This is just wicked simple — and there’s pretty much endless variations of the chop bowl.”

You could add celery or any color bell pepper for crunch. Use peaches or nectarines instead of mango. Spritz some lime juice on instead of the vinegar. Add serrano pepper for heat.

Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl

1 medium ripe tomato, chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 medium Ataulfo mango, chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 medium avocado, chopped into ½-inch cubes
6-10 fresh mint leaves, torn up
Pinch of sea salt
¼- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, optional

Gently stir together tomato, mango, avocado, mint, salt, cinnamon and vinegar, if using. Allow flavors to mingle for 15-30 minutes.

Makes 4 side dish servings or 1 main course serving.

From Nomi Shannon, the Raw Gourmet

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Chefs’ Corner: Raw Walnut Brownies


Walnuts

For many of us, cracking and shelling nuts is a holiday tradition that takes us back to our childhood. Here’s a treat that uses the flavor of fresh, raw walnuts in a brownie that’s anything but traditional.

Local raw food expert Christa M. Emrick shares her recipe for Raw Walnut Brownies, which go together quickly in a food processor and are rich enough to make anyone forget baked brownies. The sweetness here comes from the dates.

Try to find dried cherries without sugar added; they are often available in the bulk departments of grocers like Whole Foods and Sun Harvest.

For more on Emrick’s raw food classes and recipes, click here.

Raw Walnut Brownies

1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, unsoaked
Dash of salt
7 – 10 pitted medjool dates, unsoaked
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons water
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries or raisins

Place the walnuts in a food processor fitted with the S-blade and process until coarsely chopped.

Remove 1/4 cup of the walnuts and set aside.

Add the salt to the walnuts in the food processor and process until finely ground.

Add the dates and process until the mixture begins to stick together.

Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and process until evenly distributed.

Add the water, dried fruit, and reserved walnuts, and process briefly, just to mix.

Pack the mixture firmly into a square container.

Cut into small pieces. Be aware: The brownies are very rich in flavor.

Note: Stored in a sealed container, brownies will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator or one month in the freezer.

Makes 8 brownies or 4 servings.

From Christa Emrick

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Raw Christmas Cookies Class Filling Up


Remember the smell of cinnamon, vanilla and spices filling the air as Christmas cookies baked in your house when you were a child? You can still get that magic even if you are a raw foodie.

Local chef Christa Emrick is leading a class in raw cookie making at her home on the Northeast Side at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2.

On the menu are cookies made with a dehydrator and others using a food processor.

“Learn how to prepare cookies from truffles to bars (using) nuts, seeds, avocados, squash,” she says. “Be surprised. I’m positive that you’ll love the different flavors. … Since we have lots to prepare in the relatively short time period, there’ll be no Intro to Raw Foods Q&A; we’ll go right into starting the chopping, blending, folding, molding of refined sugar-free, dairy-free and soy-free desserts.”

The class is filling up fast, but a few slots are available. The cost of the class is $75 a person before Nov. 22.

For more information and an address, call 210-826-3244 or click here.

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Republic of Tea Introduces Raw Green Bush Line


The Republic of Tea has introduced a line of Raw Green Bush Teas made with rooibos from South Africa.

According to the label, “Rooibos (ROY-boss) is the wonder herb that only grows in South Africa. It has been enjoyed since the turn of the century, when local Bushmen discovered that fermenting and sun-drying the needle-like leaves of this wild mountain plant produced a tasty and fortifying red tea. Today, modern production processes provide the option of lightly steaming the just harvested plant before 115 degrees to half the oxidation process. The unoxidized green version of red tea is the raw base of this green bush tea.”

Rooibos has been praised in recent years for its high levels of antioxidants as well as its wealth of minerals and vitamin C. It’s also caffeine free.

Now, with the raw version, you can boil your own water to make a hot cup or, if you are a raw foodist, you can make a pitcher of sun tea and not have to cook anything over the 118-degree point at which the natural enzymes are destroyed.

The Republic of Tea’s lineup contains numerous flavors, including the original as well as Black Currant Cardamom,  Plantain Coconut, Mango Chili, and Orange Red Carrot. The refreshing Black Currant Cardamom gets its boldness from both the fruit and the natural rooibos tea with subtle support from the cardamom to balance the two more dominant flavors.

The suggested retail price is $10 for a canister with 36 tea bags and is available wherever Republic of Tea products are sold, such as Central Market, 4821 Broadway.

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Cotton’s Watermelon Gazpacho


Blend your watermelon when making this gazpacho.

This summertime soup from chef Jeffrey Paige of Cotton, a restaurant in Manchester, N.H., goes together quickly and is cooling enough to take the edge off the heat.

Cotton’s Watermelon Gazpacho

5 pounds red seedless watermelon
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
2 cups diced, peeled and seeded cucumber
1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Kosher salt, to taste

Remove the rind from the watermelon and cut into 1-inch chunks. Purée in a food processor until fairly smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the onion, pepper, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, parsley, vinegar and sugar. Stir to blend well. Season to taste with kosher salt. Refrigerate 4 hours before serving. Serve within 2 days of making.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Cotton: The Cookbook” by Jeffrey Paige

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Griffin to Go: Making a Recipe Your Own


Watermelon Gazpacho

During most every cooking class I’ve ever taken, the teacher has at some point stressed the fact that recipes are not written in stone. They are guidelines for you to follow or change according to your tastes.

Don’t want to use chicken stock in an otherwise vegetable soup? Fine; use a vegetable stock you like instead.

Allergic to peanuts? Substitute something you can eat, such as almonds or cashews.

Just think about the substitution before you start and modify any other changes to suit the overall flavor of the dish.

I thought about this the other day when I went to make a recipe out of a new cookbook that friends had given me. It is titled “Cotton: The Cookbook” (Blue Tree, $14.95), and it features recipes from a restaurant in Manchester, N.H., that the couple had visited on their honeymoon.

They sang the praises of chef Jeffrey Paige’s crab cakes and the wild mushroom-port wine sauce they had sampled one evening. Both are in the cookbook and both will be tried when the weather gets a little cooler.

As for me, I jumped immediately to the recipe for Watermelon Gazpacho, a raw dish that seemed particularly easy to put together on a summer evening. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I figured I’d dive right in. Anything with watermelon is always welcome on my table.

But I noticed almost immediately a few ingredients that just weren’t to my taste. One was sugar, which, to me, isn’ t needed if you have juicy, sweet watermelon. So, I eliminated it. Another was a substitution. Paige calls for red wine vinegar. I prefer the San Antonio method of using lime juice as an acid whenever possible. (I also left out the red bell pepper simply because I didn’t have any growing in the backyard or stashed in the fridge.)

So, here are are two variations on the same cold soup, an easy dish that’s sure to please, no matter which version you make:

Cotton’s Watermelon Gazpacho

John’s Watermelon Gazpacho

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John’s Watermelon Gazpacho


Watermelon Gazpacho

A friend who tasted this soup said it was as if someone had accidentally dropped pico de gallo in a sandia agua fresca. He meant that as a compliment. I agree.

John’s Watermelon Gazpacho

5 pounds red seedless watermelon, divided use
1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion, such as a Texas 1015
2 cups diced, peeled and seeded cucumber
1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1-2 key limes, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste

Remove the rind from the watermelon and cut into 1-inch chunks. Purée two-thirds in a food processor until fairly smooth. Place the remaining watermelon in a large mixing bowl. Smash with a fork. Pour the puréed watermelon over the top. Stir in onion, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro and parsley. Add juice of 1 key lime and kosher salt. Taste; adjust seasonings, adding more lime juice and salt as needed. Refrigerate 4 hours before serving. Serve within 2 days of making.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From John Griffin, adapted from “Cotton: The Cookbook” by Jeffrey Paige

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Flu Fighters: Protect Your Body With Healthful Choices


FluFighters2

Broth is nourishing if you’re on a liquid diet.

Is your body well enough to resist the flu this season?

This is not a matter to be taken lightly or ignored, as theH1N1 flu, sometimes referred to as  swine flu, has been declared a national emergency.  In the United States, the flu has spread into 46 states.

To find out what’s best for your body at this time of year, we talked with several health care professionals in San Antonio to find out what they suggest as the best ways to remain healthy.

Dr. Richard Reyna, an internist, suggested two nutrients that can help fight flu and colds:  vitamin C and zinc.  Each of these can be obtained in supplement form or even lozenges. But, food might be the healthiest way to get your vitamins and minerals.

Zinc is in a host of foods, particularly high-protein foods such as meats. It’s also found in dairy, peanuts and wholegrain cereals. One of the highest non-meat sources of zinc, according to www.nutritional-supplements-health-guide.com, is a food we use a lot in San Antonio and one that is in season right now, pepitas, or pumpkin seeds. (For a recipe on toasting your own pumpkin seeds, click here.)

FluFighters4

Stay hydrated. For extra vitamin C, try rose hips tea.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest rest. Also, drinking clear fluids, such as water, broth and sports drinks help to keep the body hydrated.

Wash your hands frequently, especially if you’ve been in public areas, or are exhibiting symptoms of the flu, such as sneezing and coughing. Try to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for 15-20 seconds, at least. If you need to sneeze or cough, instead of covering your mouth with your hand, use a tissue, then discard it and wash your  hands. If no tissue is available, sneeze into your sleeve or hands, then wash hands immediately. If no water is available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used.

The CDC also suggests that sick people stay away from others as much as possible, as person-to-person contact is largely how the flu is spread. If you are a family caregiver, be sure and disinfect surfaces in the house and avoid sharing glasses or utensils.

There’s no one sure-fire way of fighting the flu, says Lori Karhu, a registered nurse and licensed massage therapist in San Antonio.

FluFighters3

Pine nuts, such as those used in a basil pesto, are good sources of zinc, as are pecans.

She suggests a multi-pronged approach, so that body, mind and soul are working together. Ignoring any of these could leave your body vulnerable to attack, she says.

For the mind, the best bet is to avoid stress or defuse whenever possible. Meditation is one way of doing this.

Karhu also recommends people devote a little time to learn the science of better breathing. Proper breathing will rid the body of toxins and carbon dioxide while filling both the brain and muscles with oxygen. This also helps remove stress, she says. (There are numerous websites that address the issue, such as SparkPeople.com.)

Improving circulation with exercise helps. “You just need to get up and move,” she says.

FluFighters5

Drink plenty of water.

Work on the body is a little more involved. Karhu likes to take an approach that starts with the outer and works inward. By that, she means working on the outside, with a warm bristle brush on the skin before showering. It removes more dead skin cells.

A tongue scraper and a neti pot also keep the respiratory tract and the cilia in the nose clean, so they can filter more effectively.

When it comes to diet, Karhu prefers the raw food lifestyle because of the way it cleanses the system. Fasting will also remove toxins from the body. (If you are unfamiliar with the raw food movement, she recommends www.oneluckyduck.com. Don’t fast without consulting your physician first.)

Stay hydrated, she advises. “I don’t think a lot of us understand what that means,” she says. It’s not just drinking anything, such as sodas.

“Coconut water is an excellent hydrator,” Karhu says. Studies have shown that coconut water energizes you while giving your body potassium and cleansing the digestive tract. Runners have taken to drinking it to stay refreshed.

FluFighters1

Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap to help prevent the spread of germs.

Superfoods, such as mangosteen juice or açai juice, are loaded with vitamin C among other nutrients. They are also becoming more common; you can find açai pulp in the freezer section of most H-E-B stores. It’s a great addition to smoothies, Karhu says.

Get your flu shot, Karhu says. But if you do get sick, “stay at home, rest, drink lots of water— and chicken soup, if you’re not a vegetarian,” she says.

Don’t see your doctor. Call instead. “The CDC recommends you call your doctor and have him or her call you in a prescription,” Karhu says. That way, you are not sharing your flu germs with everyone else in the waiting room.

“Hibernate about seven days,” so you won’t share it with the rest of the people at work, either, and so your body has a chance to recover more fully, she says. The CDC, in fact, recommends that you stay home for 24 hours after your fever has gone.

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Raw Tomato Lasagna Makes for a Colorful Centerpiece


VegLasagnaZucchini and Tomato Lasagna

The authors of “Raw Food, Real World” like the vibrant color and tart flavor of green zebra tomatoes for this dish. “Of course, you can use any tomatoes, preferably heirloom,” write Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis. “Use the best quality sun-dried tomatoes you can find (but not the kind packed in olive oil). … The brighter ones make for a redder sauce, which will add good, Italian-flag contrast to the dish.”

Pignoli “ricotta”:
2 cups raw pignoli or pine nuts, soaked in water, preferably filtered, for 1 hour or more
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (see note)
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons water, preferably filtered

Tomato sauce:
2 cups sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), soaked in water, preferably filtered, for 2 hours or more
1 small to medium red tomato, diced
1/4 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon agave nectar
2 teaspoons sea salt
Pinch of hot pepper flakes

Basil-pistachio pesto:
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup raw pistachios
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Assembly:
3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
3 medium green zebra tomatoes (or other heirloom variety), cut in half and then sliced
Whole basil leaves, for garnish

For the pignoli “ricotta”: Place the nuts, lemon juice, yeast and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times, until thoroughly combined. Gradually add the water and process until the texture becomes fluffy like ricotta.

For the tomato sauce: Squeeze and drain as much of the water out of the soaked sun-dried tomatoes as you can. Add the drained tomatoes to a high-speed blender with the tomato, onion, lemon juice, oil, agave nectar, salt and hot pepper flakes. Blend until smooth. Add a tablespoon or two of water if the sauce is too thick.

For the basil-pistachio pesto: Place the basil, pistachios, oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until well combined but still slightly chunky.

There are two ways to assemble this dish:

Both start with cutting the zucchini crosswise in half, or into 3-inch lengths. Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices; in a medium bowl, toss the zucchini slices with the olive oil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.

For one preparation: Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with a layer of zucchini slices, each one slightly overlapping another. Spread about one-third of the tomato sauce over it and top with small dollops of “ricotta” and pesto, then one-third, using about one-third of each. Layer on fresh tomato slices. Add another layer of zucchini slices and repeat twice more with the tomato sauce, “ricotta,” pesto and tomato slices. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for a few hours. Garnish with basil leaves.

[amazon-product]0060793554[/amazon-product]For the second preparation: Place about 3 zucchini slices next to each other and slightly overlapping in the center of each serving plate, to make a square shape. Spread tomato sauce over the zucchini, top with small dollops of “ricotta” and pesto and a few tomato small tomato slices. Repeat twice more. Garnish with basil leaves.

Any leftover lasagna, whether made in a tray or individually will taste great if kept in the refrigerator for at least a day or more, but it won’t look as good (which doesn’t matter if you’re standing by yourself and eating it directly from the refrigerator, as we’ve been known to do at home).

Note: Nutritional yeast is sold in bulk bins at health food stores.

Makes 6 servings.

From “Raw Food, Real World” by Matthew Kenny and Sarma Melgnailis

This article is part of the series:  World Vegetarian Day Brings Some Meat-free Surprises

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