Category Archives: Beverages & Cocktails

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Week 4

raw vegan chocolate walnut cake

Week 4 of Advanced Raw Cuisine was particularly exciting. We finished a few more pastry projects, made a few savory dishes, and got to work toward our final project, which for this class had some practical business applications. 

First, one of the final two pastry projects… raw vegan cupcakes! I always wondered if this was possible, and it sure is! They even had a nice little “bounce” from the Irish moss. We had creative freedom to make a flavor of our choosing, and since it was fall when I took the class, I made pumpkin spice with a vanilla frosting and some chocolate shavings.

Yes, I’m one of those people. Pumpkin spice all of the things! =D

raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes

We also started to learn about costing out ingredients so that we could calculate prices for dishes the way restaurants do. This was a very useful lesson for those with entrepreneurial aspirations. We made this dish of cacao corn chips and guacamole, calculated the cost of all of the ingredients, then the cost of the whole dish, and finally, added on a markup to ensure we were paid for our time and resources used. This was a really beneficial exercise. The guacamole was tasty too. It’s one of my favorite foods. 🙂

raw vegan cacao corn chips and guacamole w/sunflower mole raw vegan cacao corn chips and guacamole w/sunflower mole

One of the other “big” projects this week was to put a lot of the lessons we learned together in a final pastry dish. We were given two to choose from, or the option to make both. I selected the chocolate walnut cake project. It was delicious. I had more than enough to take into work and share with my coworkers. They all enjoyed the special delivery and this dish got rave reviews!

Below are some photos of the prep work and the final plated dish. The dish is comprised of the chocolate cakes, the sous vide pears, a walnut caramel sauce, a fennel oil, candied fennel seeds, sassafras ice cream, and some fennel fronds and lavender as garnish. It was really delicious.

IMG_2233sous vide pearsIMG_2230 IMG_2165sassafras ice creamraw vegan chocolate walnut cake raw vegan chocolate walnut cake

Following all that dessert, I’m so glad there was another savory dish. This one was especially good because it had a bit of spice in it! It didn’t hurt that cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables too. I know, it’s a bit weird. So many people don’t like it, but to me, it has a subtle sweetness that makes it exquisite. 

This dish is a cauliflower and walnut harissa. I love that we branched out and used walnuts for more recipes this week. So many of the other recipes were based on almonds and cashews, which are certainly versatile nuts for their flavor and texture, but it was nice to have some more variety. There is a walnut cream sauce in the base, some harissa sauce, some marinaded and dehydrated spiced walnuts, and some cauliflower and romanesco. This dish would have been even more beautiful if I had access to some junky purple cauliflower, but my grocery store didn’t have any. I love the way we were instructed to plate this dish in a ring mold with the stems up. They are so organic looking. 

raw vegan cauliflower walnut harissa raw vegan cauliflower walnut harissa

The last real food recipe that we made before presenting out final projects was a lovely light carrot soup. This was somewhat like a gazpacho. There was a nice variety of carrot, radish, and apple chunks for texture and flavor. It was all topped with a bit of the soup, which had been foamed in the blender. The rest of the soup was poured in to make for a nice presentation. The soup was a great blend of sweet and savory with a smooth mouthfeel. It was a great lunch!

raw vegan carrot soup raw vegan carrot soup raw vegan carrot soup raw vegan carrot soup raw vegan carrot soup

For my final project, I decided to make a probiotic granola bar. I polled my social media friends to ask them what kind of product they might be interested in. The overwhelming response was for something quick and healthy that was also filling. I also asked about probiotics and what the perception of taste and texture was regarding fermented foods. People either love sauerkraut or they hate it. Personally, I love sauerkraut. I make it by the gallon, but I digress. I made these bars so that I could sneak some good bugs in without people having to fear the funky taste of fermented vegetables. 

raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars

To celebrate the completion of the class, we were presented with some raw cocktail recipes. Whoo hoo! The base of both of these was also good as non-alcoholic drinks on their own. The green one is a nut milk with match powder – basically a vegan green tea latte. It is mixed with a cloudy sake to make it an adult beverage. The purple drink is a lavender and blueberry lemonade. It is also mixed with unfiltered nigori sake. Both were totally delicious. It was a nice way to celebrate. Cheers!

healthy vegan sake cocktails healthy vegan sake cocktails healthy vegan sake cocktails healthy vegan sake cocktails

 

 

I’m done!!! =D =D =D Be on the lookout for more delicious recipes and more class adventures coming your way!

advanced raw cuisine certificate of completion

Breakfast Wheatgrass Juice Shots

Ah, wheatgrass juice, my old friend… we meet again. =D 

My husband and I love to watch food documentaries and tv shows about food and culture. Our areas of interest within the topic of “food” vary pretty dramatically though. One theme we both really enjoy though is travel and sampling of local foods from different regions. I think we’ve both got a bit of wanderlust, or maybe just some nomadic tendencies. 

We recently watched a show covering the immense variety of different food offerings available in Los Angeles. The host tried high end dining, fast food, and even made a stop in to see “Mr. Wisdom” out there. He’s a Hare Krishna practitioner who offers vegan food, wheatgrass shots from grasses that he grows himself, and rejuvelac. My husband knows of my fondness for wheatgrass juice and my dislike of rejuvelac, so I think this part piqued his curiosity. 

I do occasionally grow wheatgrass, but not too frequently. It’s hard to keep the cats from eating all of it, and we have three of them now! Whenever we make a pilgrimage out to our semi-local Whole Foods, I usually like to pick up some of the locally grown wheatgrass so I can juice it at home. I hadn’t intended to pick any up this time, but he actually said he might like to give it a try! So, of course, I enthusiastically picked up the big bag. =P

This morning, before work, I juiced a shot for myself and a half shot for him since he’s never tried it before. The Hippocrates Institute recommends 2 ounces of wheatgrass juice twice a day for health and healing. Because it stimulates the liver to rapidly cleanse and detox the body, it is best to start with small amounts and work up to the recommended amount.

I remember the first time I tried it, I somewhat arrogantly thought that because I ate a healthy and healing diet already that I could jump right in with a larger amount. I had a shot and a half and I felt like I was going to throw up within an hour of drinking it. It’s really potent! I have no problem with this amount now. 🙂

The Hippocrates Institute recommends drinking it undiluted on an empty stomach, but I just can’t handle the flavor straight, so I drink it with fresh organic apple and/or cucumber juice. My husband saw the shots out while I was still juicing the apples this morning and asked, “So, this is what I’m supposed to drink?” I told him he could wait for the apple juice, but he just picked it up and shot it, seemingly unbothered. I suppose I should have expected that from a guy who drinks strong black coffee without batting an eyelash. Meanwhile, my “supertaster” taste buds make me want to gag if I try to drink it straight. 

Health Benefits of Wheatgrass Juice

Why is this such a healthy habit to get into? According to the Hippocrates Institute, wheatgrass contains:

  • twice as much vitamin A as carrots
  • more vitamin C than citrus
  • the full spectrum of B vitamins
  • calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus in balanced ratios
  • all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein
  • 20% of calories from protein
  • enzymes that protect us from carcinogens and help the body to remove toxic metals

Here are some other health benefits (source: http://www.organicauthority.com/health/15-uses-for-wheatgrass-juice.html):

  • stimulates circulation
  • improves digestion
  • treats arthritis by means of the chlorophyll reducing inflammation
  • increases oxygen supply to bodily tissues, which facilitates cellular regeneration
  • helps the liver to detoxify the body more efficiently
  • stabilizes blood sugar
  • improves complexion through cellular regeneration – in addition to drinking it, you can put it directly on your skin to heal sunburns faster, treat discoloration, and heal wounds faster
  • helps to prevent cancer by cleansing and oxygenating the blood
  • improves immune function

Additional Wheatgrass Resources

Bottoms up! =D

Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary: Day 1

raw vegan milk chocolate custart

Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine was such a great educational experience for me that I decided to take the second level course, Advanced Raw Cuisine, as well. I’ll be working through it over the months of September and October. 

We really hit the ground running in this class. We jumped right into recipes and some more in-depth culinary techniques. What I really like about this course so far is that the school has gone to great lengths and experimentation to really deliver us some solid and well-tested raw recipes, built on a foundational structure that is similar to a cooked food culinary course. 

Our first lesson was “mother sauces”. Obviously, raw vegan mother sauces are not the same as cooked mother sauces, but the conceptual ideas are there. We were presented with a well-thought out list of 5 raw vegan mother sauces, and during the first week of the course, we are focusing on one of them each day.

The first of the mother sauces that we learned about was the cream sauce. It is built on a foundation of soaked nuts to provide a rich and creamy texture. With these mother sauces, we can add ingredients to modify textures and flavors, which make secondary sauces. Our first recipe assignment was to create a Meyer lemon cream sauce, which will be used in a root vegetable gnocchi recipe on Day 2. I think it looks nice and creamy, don’t you? 🙂

lemon cream sauce

Our second lesson was about nut milks. We covered basic almond milk as a flavor and texture exercise on Day 3 of Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine. It helped us to learn some great lessons about flavor balancing. In this exercise, we were to select 3 different nuts and seeds, and not only compare and contrast the different flavors and textures, but to also consider what kinds of recipes they might be used for, assess how much pulp they created, whether the pulp was usable in recipes, and if so, what kind. It was a really great taste and thought exercise.

I used brazil nut, pumpkin seed, and hemp seed for my 3 selections. The brazil nut was my favorite! Almond milk is so yesterday.

nut milk tasting

 The next recipe was a delicious milk chocolate custard, with the milk being any one of the fresh milks we just created! It’s like someone out there knew how to put me in an even better mood on my first day back to school. =P Seriously, culinary school AND chocolate. I think I’ve reached nirvana.

I chose to use my brazil nut milk, of course. It was amazing. This also has some avocado and spices in it for a little something extra. I’ll definitely be making use of this technique again. 

This recipe is in Matthew Kenney’s book, Raw Chocolate, on page 72. It is listed as “Milk Chocolate Pudding”.

raw vegan milk chocolate custart raw vegan milk chocolate custart

Someone out there must be a mind reader because fermentation is right up there with chocolate on the list of food things I love. We learned how to make salt preserved lemons, which are traditionally used in North African recipes. These have to cure for 3-4 weeks and then we will be using them in a recipe during the final week of classes. I’m really excited about these because it’s something new that I’ve never tried, and I love food from Mediterranean/Middle Eastern regions.

The only part of this recipe that I didn’t like was a little detail of the preparation. We were required to cut an X into each lemon almost down to the bottom and then stuff them with salt. I then realized the eerie resemblance they had to those creepy face hugger eggs in the Alien movies. Thankfully, I’ve had no nightmares about lemons yet. 🙂

salt preserved lemons salt preserved lemons

But, wait… there’s more! I can hardly believe it myself. I feel like there is so much more packed into each day of this course, but at the same time, I am able to work much faster, thanks to the skills I learned in Level 1. While I was sneaking giant spoonfuls of chocolate custard and trying not to think about face huggers, I worked on the next project, which was to start on an olive flat bread recipe that we will be using in a mezze platter on Day 3. If the batter was any indication, this will be divine. Besides having just the right amount of olive flavor, there is a hint of orange zest that balances out the salt nicely.

raw vegan olive flat bread raw vegan olive flat bread

 The final required recipe was to start marinading a batch of eggplant crisps. The sauce was sweet, salty, spicy, and smokey all at the same time. I’ve actually made this recipe before, and I really love it. They’re great to put in a sandwich, break up into a salad, or just to snack on. They don’t even taste like eggplant by the time they’re done, which is great because let’s face it… eggplant on its own is bitter and weird. This recipe makes it all better. 

If you’d like to make this recipe for yourself, it is in the book, Everyday Raw, by Matthew Kenney. 

raw vegan eggplant bacon raw vegan eggplant bacon

 The final assignment was optional… an introduction to kombucha. Anyone who knows me personally has seen all of my crazy kombucha experiments elsewhere on social media. That’s something that can easily have its own blog entry or multiple blog entries devoted to it. So for now, here are a few snapshots of my process and some finished batches. 

making kombucha

making kombucha

making kombucha

Raw Food Level 1: Day 14

raw vegan portobello sliders

Day 14 of Raw Food Level 1 at Matthew Kenney Academy is completed! Today, we checked in on our wheatgrass, dehydrated our nut cheeses to put a rind on them (not pictured), put together some last minute toppings and sauces for our sliders before plating and eating them, made sprouted buckwheat granola, made Bahian soup, and started planning for our final projects! It was a super busy, and very delicious day. I think this might be my favorite day of eating so far!

Here is my still growing and freshly harvested wheatgrass! I can’t believe I grew it myself, and it was so easy to do! All I did was soak the wheat berries overnight and then start the sprouting process. As soon as they had little tails, I sandwiched them between a layer of potting mix (to let them breathe without getting overly saturated) with a little organic fertilizer and garden lime mixed in. You don’t even need any fancy equipment for this. I did it in cheap-o aluminum lasagna pans that I found at the grocery store for about $1 each. Poke some holes in the bottom for drainage and lightly water daily, and you’re good to go!

growing wheatgrass growing wheatgrasswheat grass

 

I ran my wheatgrass through the juicer and decided to have a little fun, so I made a “wheatgrass bomb” with a juice base of apple, pear, cucumber, and lime. It was amazing. Maybe it tasted better because I grew the wheatgrass myself and had a deep appreciation for the work that went into it, or maybe the flavor of my homegrown wheatgrass actually was better than the stuff I’d been buying at Whole Foods. Hmmm…

wheatgrass juice wheatgrass bomb wheatgrass bomb wheatgrass bomb wheatgrass bomb

After marinading some portobello mushroom medallions (thanks, ring mold!), some blending to make a few sauces (smokey tomato based “BBQ” and a creamy basil ranch), and a few toppings (salsa and shallot/spinach/thyme), we had free reign to mix and match whatever we wanted on our sliders. It was time to take out that “swiss cheese” that was completed a few days ago too.

I put a bed of red lettuce on all of my sliders to act as a moisture barrier. After that, this is what went on each of them (besides the marinaded portobello):

  • swiss cheese, bbq sauce, kimchi (homemade!), caramelized onions
  • yogurt, tomato, pickle (homemade!), shallot mix (this one was my favorite)
  • swiss cheese, ranch, salsa

I can’t believe I made every single thing on this plate from scratch. I feel so accomplished. My poor husband did not get to eat any of it. I devoured it at lunch time. 😉

raw vegan portobello sliders raw vegan portobello sliders raw vegan portobello sliders raw vegan portobello sliders

We also started a batch of sprouted buckwheat granola, which will be going into a yogurt parfait tomorrow. We were given a base recipe and technique and told that we could alter it however we liked. I love assignments where I can take a creative license. I made a tropical granola with pineapple, coconut, lime, and cinnamon. There are some apple bits in there too for a little extra sweetness.

raw vegan portobello sliders raw vegan portobello sliders raw vegan portobello sliders raw vegan portobello sliders

The last recipe of the day was a Brazilian-inspired “Bahian soup”. It’s a chunky soup that is traditionally made with seafood and the texture is a result of cooking the mixture down. In the raw food world, we mimic these textures and flavors with creative blending and ingredient mixing techniques. This soup was delicious. I love that it had a hit of spice up front, and then the flavors of tomato, coconut, and lime all came in to mingle playfully together afterward. the chunkiness of the tomato, the creamy texture of the soup itself, and the pieces of avocado all blended together to make a great texture as well.

My day ended with a delicious bowl of this soup and the beginning stages of planning my final project, which is to plan a full three course raw vegan meal! The meal I am working on takes its inspiration from Arabic, Greek, Indian, and Italian dishes. It should be a lot of fun!

raw vegan bahian soup raw vegan bahian soup raw vegan bahian soup raw vegan bahian soup

 

Fundamentals of Raw Food: Day 10

raw vegan seaweed salad

I just completed day 10 of my classes teaching the fundamentals of raw food!

Today was awesome for so many reasons. In addition to the tasty things I made and ate, I took my knife skills test and aced it, both the written portion and the actual cutting portion. It was a little tedious for me, but I really did learn a lot from making a daily practice of it. My cutting skills improved dramatically, and most importantly, my hands now automatically use the correct methods for holding my knife and cutting while protecting my fingers.

There is still room for improvement, but I’m very happy with my progress, thus far. I will miss making a daily juice from the vegetables I practiced chopping. 😉

knife skills test

My raw vegan banana bread also went into the dehydrator today! This is not a recipe that I have found in any of Matthew Kenney’s books, so I am not able to provide any sources for it. I was really pleased with the final product and would definitely make this again! I’ve been enjoying it as a wonderful healthy breakfast with a big cup of fresh juice in the mornings!

raw vegan banana bread raw vegan banana bread raw vegan banana bread

The second recipe I worked on for Day 10 was a seaweed salad. This recipe appeared to be an adaption of the “Seaweed Salad” that is on page 83 of Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney. I was very happy with the way the flavors blended together in the final product. I made extra so I could take some into work for lunch.

raw vegan seaweed salad raw vegan seaweed salad

I also checked on my wheatgrass growing project this morning. It looks very good! It is supposed to be 6-7″ tall before harvesting, so it’s not quite there yet, but it’s getting closer. Probably just a couple days left. I’m really excited to be able to grow my own so cheaply now! It’s super easy too. 

growing wheatgrass growing wheatgrass

The last project of the day was to create one of my own recipes, following a specific list of criteria designed to challenge us, and utilizing the lessons that we have learned in the class so far. I made a Bloody Mary Gazpacho! 

I was really happy with the way this turned out. It is by far one of the most flavorful and beautifully plated dishes I have come up with on my own so far. It makes me realize just how much I have learned in the last month, and I’m really only half way through the course! My husband even said the flavor was good, and he’s not a huge fan of raw food. That’s how good it was. 😉

raw vegan bloody mary gazpacho raw vegan bloody mary gazpacho raw vegan bloody mary gazpacho

Tropical Carrot Cake Smoothie

tropical carrot cake smoothie

My sister is here for a visit this weekend. I decided to put my new smoothie design skills to work for a mid morning snack, and this tropical carrot cake smoothie is what I came up with. We had a large variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from, and since we both love carrot cake, we decided to use that as the inspiration for this smoothie. Enjoy!

Tropical Carrot Cake Smoothie for 2
Serves 2
This summer time smoothie is a perfect mid-morning snack for the carrot cake lover. Now you can have your cake and drink it too. 😉
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup carrot juice (fresh juiced)
  2. 1 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed)
  3. 2 frozen bananas
  4. 1 cup frozen pineapple
  5. 1 TB local raw honey
  6. 1 TB vanilla extract (I use alcohol free in vegetable glycerin)
  7. 2 pinches of sea salt
  8. 2 pinches of cinnamon
  9. 2 pinches of nutmeg
  10. 2 pinches of ginger
Instructions
  1. Juice enough carrots to yield 1 cup of juice (this will vary based on the size of your carrots and the model of your juicer).
  2. Juice enough oranges to yield 1 cup of juice (1-2 large oranges)
  3. Add juice and all other ingredients to blender, and blend until smooth, well combined, and frosty. You may need to use a tamper.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine – Day 3

kimchi

Over the weekend, I finished day 3 of “Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine“, a course offered online through the Matthew Kenney Academy. It was a lot of fun to have an entire day to work on my course material. Normally, I go to work and then I come home with limited time to work on the homework and recipe projects in the evening. I do what I can and try not to stay up too late, but I really love playing in the kitchen, so it’s a challenge. 😉 On Saturday, however, I was able to finish up a full day’s worth of the curriculum material!

I started day 3 off with… you guessed it… more knife skills. If you’ve seen my first two posts about my experiences here, then you know this is how I start every day of the curriculum. My cuts seem to be improving a little bit, and the correct grip of the knife and hand placement is starting to become more familiar to me too. I find myself making it more of a habit now than having to think about where my hands go, which is a really good thing, for the sake of keeping all of my fingers un-injured. 

knife skills knife skills knife skills

 

After some reading material about soaking and sprouting, it was time to make almond milk using some almonds that we had been instructed to soak the night before. I am no stranger to making simple nut and seed milks. Hemp seed milk is my favorite to make.

What was new for me were some of the other ingredients that we added to the milk. There were some really valuable lessons learned here about flavor balancing with fats, sweeteners, and salts. We were instructed to taste the milk after the addition of each ingredient and notice how the flavor and texture changed. By the time I was done adding things to the blender, it was much more familiar in taste and flavor to the almond milk you might find at the grocery store, but without any of the typical additives of a store bought product.

Besides the plain almond milk, I made strawberry and cacao versions as well. That is why one has a pinkish color and another has a light brown color. The colors are subtle. No artificial anything here! I’ve been enjoying my fresh nut milks with gluten free oatmeal. 

The recipe for this almond milk is in Everyday Raw and Raw Food/Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow, both books by Matthew Kenney.

homemade raw vegan almond milk homemade raw vegan almond milk homemade raw vegan almond milk homemade raw vegan almond milk

One of the things I am really loving about this course is the way they talk about using up leftovers so as not to waste anything. For example, almond pulp that is strained out of the nut milk is added to the dehydrator and then blended into an almond flour.

The next assignment was to make a delicious smoothie with our fresh almond milk and to learn about “smoothie building”. To think, all this time, I was just tossing things into the blender and hoping for the best, and there is apparently a magic formula that I should have been using instead. The recipe provided was for a “blueberry bee” smoothie. I could not find the book that this recipe came from, but it was published over on the “Pure Wow” website last year if you want to go have a look. I highly recommend trying it!

blueberry bee smoothieblueberry bee smoothie

After flavor blending exercises and smoothie making, it was time to make some kale chips. We were taught the basics of making our own sauce/marinade for the kale, and then we got to play around with it to make our own flavors. They looked pretty good going in. As long as they dehydrate properly overnight and taste good when I take them out, I will be happy to share my recipe flavors tomorrow. I opted to make a “ranch dressing” flavor and a “spicy mango lime”. 

kale chips kale chips

 

But, wait… there’s more! THREE lessons in fermentation and pickling were to follow. Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I’m a bit of a fermenting fool. I always have sauerkraut in the fridge with another batch fermenting on the counter, ACV fermented garlic, a random vegetable lacto-ferment, kombucha and jun, occasional wild fermented wine, etc. Probiotic fermented foods have made a huge difference in my health. They have helped me to reverse most of my allergy problems, and kept me from getting sick in the last two years. Anyway, I was really excited to see this material not only included in the curriculum, but included as early as day 3! 

For as much fermenting as I do, one thing I have never made is kimchi. That is partially because I wanted to be sure I had an authentic recipe so I could do it justice. Well, ready or not, there is a jar of kimchi happening in my kitchen right now anyway! It smelled really great going into the jar! Never fear, I followed proper protocol and pushed it all down below the brine with a leftover cabbage leaf. The picture of the vegetables floating on the top sure is pretty though!

kimchi kimchi kimchi

I had half a head of Napa cabbage and most of a head of red (purple) cabbage left over after making this, so… SAUERKRAUT SPONTANEOUSLY HAPPENED IN MY KITCHEN! Shocking, I know. Ha!

purple sauerkraut 

We also made some basic quick pickles, to which I added garlic, dill, and peppercorns. I have been growing pickling cucumbers on my porch and I was really excited that I was able to use something I grew myself in a recipe for the course. I have already put my home grown basil to use in all of the recipes that call for it.

dill pickles dill pickles

 

Another new thing for me was pickled ginger! I have always wanted to try making this because whenever we eat sushi at restaurants, the pickled ginger looks as though it’s been artificially colored and tastes funny. It will be a lot of fun to use my pickled ginger for when we made sushi at home!

pickled ginger pickled ginger

 

Overall, it was a very fun and productive day. I am looking forward to what comes next and eating some of those pickled foods!

 

 

Matthew Kenney Academy – Day 1

cutting technique demonstration

It’s been a little while since my last post, but for very good reason. My husband and I took a nice and much-needed vacation for my 32nd birthday and our 5th anniversary (they are one day apart!), and then I gave myself the gift of more education for my birthday. I really loved my experience with the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program at Cornell, so I decided it would also be fun to take some culinary courses so that I could learn how to make better recipes for this blog! I am currently enrolled in “Level 1: Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine” through the Matthew Kenney Academy Online program

Although I cannot share the recipes we are using (due to copyright), I can share the photos of the work I have been doing (since I took them and all), and reference the books where the recipes are taken from. Another thing I will mention is that the course is 4 weeks long, but there is no way that I would be able to complete such an intensive program while working a full time job, so they have allowed me to work at a slower 8-week pace. The course is structured into work days during week days, so it is laid out nicely with a 20-day plot line. This means I can complete 1 day of course work every 2-3 days, so look for the blog entries to start churning out. 🙂

One of the things I am really grateful to be learning is basic culinary skills. I have cut myself more times than I care to admit and one of the first things we covered is knife safety, proper grip, and cutting techniques. I learned to make strips and cubes of all shapes and sizes, and how to filet a bell pepper, which I never even thought about, but they are so beautiful. Lastly, now I can make perfect orange segments with no membrane in the way. 😉

chef knife cutting techniques dicing, julienne, and brunoise chiffonade cutting technique filleting a bell pepper peeling an orange with a chef knife cutting technique demonstration

We also made some green juice (which ended up being dinner for me because I was running around town looking for my ingredients like a chicken with my head cut off). Man, I love cilantro. I’m sure my mother is gagging as she reads this. =P

green juice green juice ingredients

The last few assignments for Day 1 (besides all of the reading material about flavor blending, knife care, and other “chef stuff”) dealt with nuts. I’m no stranger to soaking my nuts before I use them to maximize their nutritional value. I am glad to see the program has emphasized the proper way to prepare them. We dehydrated some almonds for use in a later recipe, and prepared some cashew and macadamia ricotta cheeses. The cashew ricotta will go into a red beet ravioli and the macadamia ricotta will go into a lasagna recipe. Both of these recipes can be found in Matthew Kenney’s book, Raw Food/Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow

cashew ricotta and macadamia ricotta cashew ricotta and macadamia ricotta

 I’m closing out Day 1 with this blog entry and preparing for the fun recipes that I will get to make tomorrow, as well as the fun photographs! 🙂

Banana Orange Frozen Creamsicle Smoothie

Frozen banana orange creamsicle smoothie

This creamsicle smoothie is so ridiculously easy to make, and so good for you. With orange and banana as the ingredients, it is loaded with potassium! It’s also quite refreshing on a hot day. Sometimes, I like to toss a little ground flaxseed into the blender with it too, for an extra boost of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

Frozen Banana Orange Creamsicle Smoothie
Serves 2
This smoothie is ridiculously easy to make. It is simply frozen bananas and fresh sweet navel oranges. It is packed with potassium!
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 ripe frozen bananas
  2. 2 sweet navel oranges, peeled
Instructions
  1. Put orange sections and frozen bananas into the blender. Blend until thoroughly combined. You may need to use a tamper to help it mix. It will be a bit on the thick side. It comes out a little like a milkshake in consistency. 🙂
Notes
  1. You can optionally add some pineapple or coconut water to thin it out. Both will give it a fun tropical flavor.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Pineapple, Kale, and Basil Green Juice

Pineapple, kale, and basil juice

This is another delicious juice I made while I was spending a few days drinking green juices and smoothies. Pineapple is my long lost love. I found out I was allergic to it several years ago, and all of the fermented foods that I’ve been eating must have helped my gut to heal, because I can eat it again with no adverse effects! I’ve been going a little hog wild on it – about one pineapple a week. 😉

Kale is one of the greens in my regular rotation for juices and smoothies. I will confess that I really don’t care for it raw other than in the form of kale chips. I don’t find the texture of most varieties to be pleasant to chew on, so into the blender they go! I do enjoy the flavor.

Basil… well, I’ve got this “little” basil plant on my porch that gives me a big handful (or more) every week or so. I’ve pinched a few blossoms off of it by now, and I’ve taken cuttings and propagated some more little plants, so I’m not running out any time soon. There are a lot of recipes on this blog that will use basil because… it’s free when you grow it yourself! =D I really love it as an aromatic herb. It really adds a whole new dimension of flavor to juices and smoothies when a handful is tossed into the mix with everything else. 

pineapple, kale, and basil green juice

Here are the health benefits of this delicious and refreshing pineapple, kale, and basil green juice:

Pineapple

  • Pineapple is used to treat digestion problems and inflammation. It reduces swelling, bruising, and healing time for injuries. 
  • Just one cup of pineapple provides all of your vitamin C for the day.
  • Pineapple contains numerous B-vitamins, magnesium, manganese, potassium, anti-oxidants, and beta-carotene.
  • High consumption of fruit has been shown to reduce your risk of macular degeneration. Dr. Caldwell Esseletyn teaches that macular degeneration is sign of heart disease – as the retinal arteries are damaged, vision becomes impaired. Fruit is not the enemy – these are the carbs that your body needs to be healthy and function optimally!
  • Because of pineapple’s beta carotene content, consuming it reduces the risk of developing asthma.
  • Pineapple’s high potassium levels can assist in lowering your blood pressure, if it is high. 
  • The anti-oxidants in pineapple help to prevent cancer. The high amounts of fiber in pineapple help to prevent colon cancer. Again, eat your fruits and vegetables – animal products to not contain fiber! Pineapple’s beta-carotene content also helps to protect against prostate cancer. Men, have some more pineapple!
  • While we’re talking about fiber, the water and fiber content in pineapple helps with “regularity issues”. 😉
  • Foods that are high in antioxidants, like pineapple, can help with fertility issues, for both males and females. 
  • As with all produce, it’s good for your heart and cardiovascular system. If you don’t want to be a statistic (1:4 American deaths are from heart disease), eat more plants!

Kale

  • Kale is a good source of iron. Per calorie, it has more iron than beef. 
  • Kale also has more protein per calorie than beed. 
  • …And pretty much more of everything else than beef, except for fat and cholesterol. 
  • Kale is high in vitamin K and antioxidants, making it another potent fighter of cancer. 
  • Kale is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid. One cup of kale gives you 10% of the RDA for omega-3. This makes it a great anti-inflammatory food. Just don’t go eating a lot of omega-6 filled foods… like vegetable oils or corn fed animal meats. 
  • Kale is very high in fiber. It helps to lower your cholesterol and keep that colon clean (hooray for regularity)!
  • Kale is also high in beta-carotene, which makes it great for your eyes and skin.
  • Did you know leafy greens are also good sources of vitamin C? You don’t just get it from fruit!
  • Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, it has more calcium than milk. As an added bonus, you actually get to keep the calcium in your bones when you eat kale. When you eat dairy, it acidifies your body, causing calcium to be pulled out of your bones as an acid buffer, for a net loss in calcium. Repeat after me: “dairy is not a good source of calcium.”

Basil

  • Half a cup of basil gives you almost all of your RDA for Vitamin K!
  • Basil has anti-bacterial properties. If you’re sick, have some pesto (without the dairy, of course)!
  • Like pineapple and kale, basil is also a good source of beta-carotene. This recipe is a beta-carotene trifecta!
  • Basil is a good source of magnesium. It helps your muscles relax. It’s also good for cardiovascular health, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of irregular heart rhythms (don’t forget – the heart is a muscle).  

Sources:

Pineapple, Kale, and Basil Green Juice
Serves 2
This refreshing and healthy pineapple, kale, and basil green juice makes enough to serve two people, or one person doing a juice fast (which was my case when I made it).
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pineapple
  2. 1 large bunch of kale leaves
  3. 1 large handful of basil
Instructions
  1. Juice all ingredients, serve over ice, and enjoy! 🙂
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/