Category Archives: Salads

Summer Succotash Salad & Peas Vs. Lima Beans

Summer Succotash Salad

As my caloric needs have gone up with more intense workouts, I’ve been experimenting with different food sources that can offer greater nutritional density per serving size. I’ve also been experimenting with eliminating protein powder from my daily regimen, in favor of a purely whole food approach.

PeasI noticed that pea protein seemed to be pretty popular as a supplement, so I set out to investigate the humble pea. I wanted to see what all the commotion was about, and also compare it to some other similar vegetables, to see if there was room for improvement.

My focus was on a few key areas:

  • Can I get a greater caloric value in the same volume of food? On a whole food plant based diet with a daily intake of 3,000+ calories, this becomes very important because plant food is very bulky, and sometimes the sheer volume of food that I have to eat can become uncomfortable if I am not making the right choices. 
  • Can I increase my fiber intake? I am a big fan of fiber. The more, the better. Various types of fibers and starches feed our microbiome. The more we eat, the healthier our gut flora is. Jeff Leach, Founder of the Human Food Project talks in depth about the eating habits of the Hadza, one of the few hunter-gather tribes left on the planet; their daily fiber intake is 75-100g, which is 7 times what the average American eats. I aim for 100g a day. 
  • Can I improve the omega fatty acid ratio? A healthy dietary omega fatty acid ratio is very important not only for overall good health, but for dropping fat and building muscle because a healthy ratio increases insulin sensitivity, reduces inflammation, and supports a healthy metabolism by protecting the liver.
  • Can I improve my intake of nutrients that are harder to come by on a plant-based diet, such as iron and selenium?

After a little searching, I found a viable candidate: the mighty lima bean! I put them side-by-side in this cute little infographic to illustrate the factors in my decision to eat more lima beans!

Peas Vs Lima Beans

Naturally, after I came upon this, I had to put some lima bean recipes together. Since it is summer time, I decided on a light succotash recipe with fresh herbs from my garden and bell peppers, which are in peak season right now. 

Please enjoy. πŸ™‚

Summer Succotash Salad
Serves 4
This summer succotash salad is simple and quick to make, and full of plant-based protein. It is rich with texture and flavor, yet light without overpowering. It is a delightful dish to serve as a side at a summer picnic or gathering.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups lima beans, thawed from frozen
  2. 2 cups organic corn, thawed from frozen (best option to find organic non-gmo)
  3. 1 red or orange bell pepper, small dice
  4. 4 scallions, chopped
  5. 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (I used purple since that's what I'm growing)
  6. 2 TB spearmint, finely chopped
  7. 3 TB fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  9. couple pinches sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and allow to marinade in the refrigerator overnight for the best flavor.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

German Potato Salad – Vegan and Oil Free

German Potato Salad - Oil Free and Vegan

I realize that I haven’t updated this blog with new recipes in a while. There is a very good reason for that. I’ve been making some big changes. After spending my entire adult life sitting in a cubicle, being sedentary with the exception of a few times I tried to start an exercise habit, I started to get some weird aches and pains, and decided it might be a good idea to force myself to stick with it this time. I committed to a gym membership, which would be difficult to walk away from because one of my friends worked there!

I’ve been weight lifting and practicing some Yoga for the last six months. During that time, I’ve also been tinkering with my diet a bit more in order to maximize my lean gains and fat losses. These photos are from about six months into my journey, but as of now, I am up about 12 lbs of lean mass and down about 6 lbs of fat. Most of these changes have been since the beginning of May, once I really figured out what I was doing with my diet and my workout plans (thanks to a little help from my super awesome trainer). 

6 Months whole food plant based diet and weight training

Practicing Yoga Crow Pose

So, now that I’ve got my approach figured out, I’ve been actively working to put meal plans together and to compile a book about building muscle and cutting fat on a whole food plant based diet. My diet was pretty utilitarian for a while, but I’ve made it a point to carve out some time to put some basic recipes together again. They are healthful, flavorful, and fit 100% within the whole food plant based approach as outlined by T. Colin Campbell in his latest book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.

German Potato Salad - Oil Free and Vegan

I do include a lot of resistant starches and different types of fiber in my diet because they are prebiotics, meaning they are food for our gut flora. The whole-food plant based diet is naturally high in carbohydrates and low in fat, and as I am now consuming 3,000+ calories a day, I get plenty of fiber and fuel for my workouts. One of the recipes that I recently put together was this German potato salad with multi-colored potatoes. It was light and delicious, even without bacon or oil, which are included in most other variations. 

As an added bonus, the parsley came from my porch garden. πŸ™‚

German Potato Salad - Vegan and Oil Free
Serves 5
This easy German potato salad recipe adheres to the low fat whole food plant based diet guidelines. It is oil free, and full of color and flavor! It makes a very large batch, which would be perfect for a picnic or your next family gathering.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 35 small red/blue/yellow potatoes of 50-70g each
  2. 1 sweet onion, diced (I love onion, cut back on the onion if you don't)
  3. 5 stalk celery, diced
  4. 1 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  5. 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  6. 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  7. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  8. Sea salt to taste (optional, depending if your broth has added salt or not)
Instructions
  1. Bake the potatoes at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
  2. After potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into small wedges or cubes.
  3. Chop celery, onions, and parsley.
  4. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight to really let the flavors mingle together.
Notes
  1. I made this large batch of potato salad to serve as one of the 6 "meals" that I eat throughout the day. It made 5 portions that I would describe as "large snack sized". The recipe is easily sized up or down, depending on how much you'd like to make.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Mushroom Taco Lettuce Wraps (Raw Vegan)

mushroom taco lettuce cups

I’m still working on the recap of the second half of my advanced raw cuisine class, but until I have all of the blog posts up, I still have to feed myself and my husband, so that leaves a lot of room for experimentation. These mushroom taco lettuce wraps are what I put together for dinner tonight, and there was enough leftover to have for lunch tomorrow too. For tomorrow’s lunch, I’ll be chopping up some romaine and taking the leftovers as a taco salad. =D

mushroom taco lettuce cups

I took a vacation immediately following the completion of my culinary classes, and returned with a strong desire to go back to my low fat lifestyle after 4 months of culinary classes and a vacation that was vegan, but contained far too much fat. I went on a cruise and although the wait staff was very good at honoring my requests that everything be vegan and gluten free, much of it was cooked and laden with oils. I was too polite to send the food back since they had worked so hard to accommodate my food allergies. I tried to eat fresh fruits for breakfast and salads for lunch, but it wasn’t enough. On a plant-based diet, just putting oil and vinegar on a salad can result in at least 30% of the day’s calories coming from fat! That doesn’t even include fats from whole food sources. 

I am a firm believer in Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s research and approach on diet, whole foods, and macronutrients. In his latest book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, he discusses that the ideal macronutrient ratio is 80/10/10 (carbs/protein/fats). He is not the first expert to express this opinion either. Douglas Graham’s book, The 80/10/10 Diet, goes into a lot of detail about this topic as well (I recently finished this book and hope to get a review written in the coming weeks). 

I have experimented with this very low fat way of eating before, and not only did I have more energy, I also slept much better. I had been tracking my sleep for over a year on my FitBit, looking for ways to improve my sleep, and I noticed a drastic reduction in the number of sleep disturbances after eating this way for only a couple of days. The number of disturbances remained low until I started adding more fats back into my diet again. My skin complexion also seems to be much better with less fat in my diet. Ultimately, I just feel better and have more energy.

Anyway, for this reason, I’ve been striving to keep my diet very fresh and clean since I’ve been home. My fats have been very low, and since I aim for a weekly average of 10% fat, I added a small amount of avocado oil to the mushrooms in this dish to give them a bit more texture. Despite that, my omega fatty acids for the day were still balanced and I am still within range for my macronutrient ratios for the week! There is a total of 1 TB, but it is meant to be served as an appetizer for 4 people, and if you feel very strongly about omitting oils completely from your diet, you could leave it out (or you could add more for a richer mouthfeel). 

I hope you enjoy this recipe! It’s easy to make, very healthy and fresh, and the final outcome is visually appealing as well if you might have guests coming to visit. πŸ™‚

mushroom taco lettuce cups

Raw Vegan Mushroom Taco Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4
These raw vegan mushroom taco lettuce wraps are a satisfying and lean appetizer, full of flavor, and easy to make!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 head of Boston, Butter, or Bibb lettuce
  2. 8 oz white button mushrooms, diced
  3. 1 TB avocado oil (see notes on different oils)
  4. 2 TB of your favorite taco/fajita seasoning mix (refer to notes for one I like to use)
  5. 2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  6. 1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
  7. 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (or more if you love it as much as I do)
  8. 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  9. 1/4 sprouted mung beans, lentils, or a mix (optional, but makes it a bit more hearty and increases the protein)
  10. 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  11. pinch of salt (or two!)
  12. 1/2 tsp cumin
  13. 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Toss chopped mushrooms, avocado oil, and taco seasoning together until mushrooms are well coated. Put in a covered glass bowl (either with a lid or with plastic wrap - no towels - you don't want the moisture to escape) and put in a dehydrator at 145 for 1 hour. (See note about temperature.)
  2. Separate the lettuce leaves from the head, clean, dry, and set aside.
  3. The remaining ingredients are for the salsa. Mix them together in a bowl and set aside to marinade while the mushrooms are sweating.
  4. When the mushrooms are ready, place some lettuce leaves onto a plate, and spoon on the salsa and seasoned mushrooms. Top with a cilantro leaf to make it extra fancy.
Notes
  1. The taco seasoning I use is from a local shop called "Penzeys Spices". They make it for chicken, but I love it on mushrooms! https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/chicken-taco-seasoning/c-24/p-516/pd-s
  2. You can use a different oil than avocado if you like, but I like this one for it's truly neutral flavor. From a health perspective, I normally prefer flax oil as it's the only plant based oil with more omega 3 than 6.
  3. If you are opposed to eating oil and very strict about eating 100% whole plant foods, you could omit it. If you want a richer mouthfeel for the mushrooms to be more "meaty", you could alternatively add more.
  4. If you do not have a dehydrator, you can marinade the mushrooms overnight instead. A little extra salt will help them to release their juices.
  5. Using your dehydrator at 145 for the short period of time called for in the recipe will not result in the internal temperature of the food being heated that high. It will still be well within range to still be considered raw. When I removed the mushrooms, they were "lukewarm" to the touch. The goal is to just help them "sweat" a bit.
  6. This recipe is meant to be eaten as an appetizer for 4 (or 2 for 2 meals each). That works out to only 3/4 tsp oil per serving.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 11

raw vegan thai salad

I’m officially into my third week of Advanced Raw Cuisine via Matthew Kenney Culinary Online. Today marks the start of… wait for it… PASTRY WEEK! We’ll be making cookies, breads, and crackers, and finishing the week with some chocolate making and a cheese plate with the nut cheeses that have been patiently fermenting in the refrigerator. I really loved putting the cheese plate together in the first level fundamentals class. The recipes we worked on today were fabulous. I have no doubt the rest of the week will be a lot of fun. πŸ™‚

It’s time to get back to the cinnamon rolls… They were setting up in the freezer, and then I sliced them. I prefer my sweets in smaller portions, so I made these rolls smaller than usual. Not a whole lot of “swirl” going on, but I think they’re cute anyway. Cutting them down to this size also allowed me to use my sushi mat to roll them, which made the whole process really easy. After slicing, they went into the dehydrator for a few hours to warm up before plating and serving them later today.

raw vegan cinnamon rolls raw vegan cinnamon rolls

The next project was to learn a method for making raw bread loaves in the dehydrator! I had seen some of these before in old raw foods books, but they relied on sprouted glutenous grains, which I am unable to eat. This method does not! We used flours from some nuts and some sprouted gluten free grains for these. The seaweed, Irish moss, was used to hold the whole thing together and give it a bit of a bouncy texture. 

Since these breads will be going on our cheese plates at the end of the week, we were given free reign to add our own seasonings and make our own shapes. The rectangular loaf has some chopped olives in it. In the profile, you’ll see I shaped it like a cute miniature loaf of bread with the little “bubble” at the top. Those high school pottery classes are finally paying off! πŸ˜‰

The second rounder loaf has a big of molasses and chicory root tea added in to give it a darker color and depth of flavor, as well as some caraway seed. My intent for that one was to be like a faux-rye bread with a biscotti-like profile after it is sliced. I am so excited to see how these turn out!

raw vegan bread loaf raw vegan bread loaf raw vegan bread loaf raw vegan bread loaf

All this pastry work sure does make a girl hungry. Thank goodness there was a salad recipe planned for today. This is a “Thai salad”. We learned more about combining unique ingredients and textures, and also about styling salads. This is a great lesson for me because I absolutely love salad, and I’m always looking for ways to make them a bit prettier. There is a little bit of the spicy sesame dressing peeking out from under the greens, and some more mixed into the mix of colorful vegetables and coconut on the top.

This was an amazingly delicious salad. It’s still pretty warm here in central Florida, so it was nice to have something that was light and refreshing, but still had a lot of flavor. I would definitely make this one again!

raw vegan thai salad raw vegan thai salad raw vegan thai salad

After the salad, it was time for dessert. It’s pastry week, right? Bring on the pastries! =D

Remember that chocolate chili sauce I made on day 10? It’s going on the cinnamon rolls! This was one exotic dessert and I really loved it! The rolls are topped with some chocolate and chopped walnuts (the rolls also have walnuts in them). The drink you see paired with them is a chili-cacao herbal tea with a cashew foam to make something that is kind of a cross between a tea latte and a cappuccino. I topped it with a few slivers of thai chili pepper. Chocolate and chili are one of my favorite flavor combinations! 

This wraps up day 11. Looking forward to more pastry adventures on day 12!

raw vegan spicy chocolate butter raw vegan cinnamon rolls raw vegan cinnamon rolls

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 7

raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato

Day 7 of Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary completed!

I’ve had such a fun time working on everything today with many opportunities to exercise my creativity. I’ve learned so much while taking these courses, not only about flavors and techniques, but also about art. My plating skills have improved dramatically, and as an artist, these playful arrangements translate into more lessons for me than just those with culinary applications. They have made me a better photographer, causing me to reconsider placement of the people and objects in my portraits. 

The day was started by adding some sliced apples and pears into a water bath for a little more practice with the sous vide technique. Following that, we learned about and executed two “amuse bouche” dishes. According to Wikipedia, “amuse bouche” literally means, “mouth amuser”. It is a 1-2 bite sized course that is both intense and playful.

We were given the freedom to create two of our own amuse bouche plates. My selections were inspired by the produce and herbs that I’ve been growing in my garden this summer, and by Florida grown produce in general. I tried to include local components in each dish (some as local as my patio).

The first plate includes some of my favorite flavors. It is small sampling of red and yellow grape tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and scallions atop a parsley and dill hemp seed pesto, which acts as both a surprise element in the dish, and a punch of flavor. 

Recipe link: Parsley and Dill Hemp Seed Pesto

raw vegan amuse bouche raw vegan amuse bouche

I wanted my second amuse bouche to be plated differently from the first, and I wanted a way to transform a classic non-vegan hors d’oeuvre into a healthful raw vegan version. In this dish, I created my version of “prosciutto and melon” using hami melon (sometimes called “Honey Kiss melon”), marinaded red pepper, and Florida avocados with a basil and ginger cucumber sauce. I was very pleased with the result. 

Recipe link: Bell Pepper ‘Prosciutto’ and Melon

raw vegan melon and prosciutto raw vegan melon and prosciutto

While I was busy snacking on my amuse bouche creations, we learned how to use the dehydrator as a “hot box”, which is very handy for creating a “wilted greens” texture, but leaving them completely raw with all of their precious nutrients and enzymes in tact, as the temperature remains at or below 115. 

The salad we made with this technique was a simple spinach salad tossed with some olive oil and lemon, and included a little bit of our macadamia nut goat cheese, some chopped golden raisins, and some pine nuts. Two thumbs up from the husband on this one! We ate it for dinner. πŸ™‚

raw vegan wilted spinach salad raw vegan wilted spinach salad raw vegan wilted spinach salad

After the salad, it was time for dessert. With all of the components for the apple pear crumble ready to go, all that was needed was to plate it. I had enough to make a few of them, so I plated it 2 different ways to see how it would look. Which one do you like best? πŸ™‚

This dish is comprised of the apples and pears that were in the sous vide earlier today. We were told to cut them with final plating in mind. I made very thin round slices on the mandolin, sans cores. In one plating, I rolled them up; in the other, I left them them flat. They are topped off with the oat crumble that we put in the dehydrator yesterday, along with the almond gelato that we also made yesterday. I got a little more practice making perfectly shaped quenelles. I think I’m getting the hang of it! The whole thing is topped off with a little bit of star anise syrup that we made today and a pinch of star anise for garnish. I love that stuff!

If you’d like to make this yourself at home, Matthew Kenney’s book, Everyday Raw Desserts, from pages 118-129, contains a variety of recipes for crumbles, cobblers, and ice creams that you can mix and match to make any number of similar desserts.

raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato

We ended the day by starting on an advanced pickling assignment. We are making quick pickles here, so the process includes some vinegar, as well as salt, which helps them to be ready quicker than a traditional salt brine only ferment. The class is only 4 weeks, so this method is understandable. We were allowed to experiment with flavors and ingredients that we thought might go well with our aged cheeses. I love pickling experiments, so I made two different jars – one with fruit and another with vegetables. 

My fruit pickles are: elderberry, lavender, apple, ginger, peeled muscadine grapes, and cinnamon. 

My vegetable pickles are: squash, carrot, shallot, turnip, radish, portobello, chili pepper, peppercorn, dill, and smoked sea salt. 

If after 4-5 days, they turn out well, I’ll share the exact recipes. πŸ™‚

pickled fruit pickled root vegetables

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 5

raw vegan corn and mint ravioli

I just completed day 5 of the Advanced Raw Cuisine course through Matthew Kenney Academy. What a wonderful experience my first week has been so far. We covered different types of sauces extensively every day, putting our lessons into practice with a variety of delicious recipe creations. For many of these recipes, we also learned new techniques for food preparation. 

Today, we learned about a 5th type of sauce used in raw cuisine, the “enhanced sauce”. This group of sauces is quite versatile. They are emulsified and using the basic method, they can be used to create either a light and silky smooth sauce, a butter, or an ice cream. For today’s lesson, we used this technique to create a tangy “tomato fondue”, which was used as a sauce in a raw ravioli dish that we plated later in the day.

raw vegan tomato fondueraw vegan tomato fondue raw vegan tomato fondue

While the sauce was warming and thickening in the dehydrator, we created a second enhanced sauce. We were given the option of creating either an olive oil ice cream or a basil butter. I chose the basil butter because I grow my own basil, and I love being able to make recipes with food that I’ve grown myself. This creation went straight from the blender into the freezer to use at a later time. 

basil

When the tomato fondue came out of the dehydrator, it was time to assemble and plate the rest of the ravioli components. We made the corn and mint pesto, which you can see hiding between the coconut wrapper squares  in some of the photos, and we also tossed a little baby arugula with a little olive oil, pine nuts, salt and pepper to help break up the color and spacing on the plate. I had the coconut wrapper squares that were prepared and cut up for the previous day’s lesson all ready to go! 

Bonus: The mint came from my garden. It’s really rewarding to be able to use my own herbs in these recipes!

This is the final result. The whole dish came together beautifully. I was able to put it together quickly and have it ready for lunch time. The tomato fondue was savory, tangy, and had a buttery, but light consistency. The corn and mint pesto was very slightly sweet and refreshing. The coconut wrappers were infused with a bit of carrot and also offered a subtle sweetness to contrast the tanginess in the sauce. They also contributed a more solid, but still soft texture. The arugula tossed with olive oil and lightly seasoned added just a hint of bitterness and saltiness, which nicely balanced the whole dish, both in flavor and in plating. I was thrilled with how well this turned out.

raw vegan corn and mint ravioli raw vegan corn and mint ravioli raw vegan corn and mint ravioli raw vegan corn and mint ravioli

The final project of the day was to get started on some macadamia nut “goat” cheese, which will be used in some recipes over the next few days (and probably plenty of snacking too). πŸ™‚

raw vegan macadamia nut goat cheese raw vegan macadamia nut goat cheese

 

Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine: Days 19-20

root vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rolls

GRADUATION!!! I finished Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine! My last two days were spent working out the final details of my recipes and practicing my plating. Please enjoy the recipes

fundamentals of raw cuisine completion certificate

For our final, we were to design a 3-course meal and then implement 2 of those courses with complete recipes and plating. It was a wonderful experience and I loved the process of working out prototypes and receiving feedback from the instructors. I chose to execute my starter and my dessert.

Here is the menu that I created for my final project. It was based on my favorite cuisine, which is Indian food. πŸ™‚

First: Cucumber Raita Rolls
Coconut Yogurt, Sweet Pepper Relish, Root Vegetable Salad, Cashew, Mint

Second: Mutter Masala Dosa
Curried Vegetables, Turmeric Mashed Jicama, Walnut

Third: Mango Malai
Cashew Milk, Cardamom, Black Cherry, Pecan

Cucumber Raita Rolls (click for link to recipe)

root vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rolls root vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rollsroot vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rollsroot vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rolls root vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rolls root vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rolls root vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rolls root vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rolls root vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rolls root vegetable salad with tzatziki cucumber rolls

Mango Malai (click for link to recipe)

mango lassi panna cotta with cherry pepper sauce mango lassi panna cotta with cherry pepper sauce mango lassi panna cotta with cherry pepper sauce mango lassi panna cotta with cherry pepper sauce mango lassi panna cotta with cherry pepper sauce mango lassi panna cotta with cherry pepper sauce

On our last day, we made a wonderful cleansing and refreshing “apple aide” drink with a bit of cayenne pepper. Cheers!

apple aid

Fundamentals of Raw Food: Day 16

raw vegan chia pudding

Week 4 of Fundamentals of Raw Food has officially started!!! Only 4 more days left and then I’m done with the course. I can hardly believe how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned. I’m really excited about the final project that I’m working on too!

The first thing we did was to create more nut milk for some additional recipes that we will be completing as part of the curriculum. I also created a cashew milk for the first time, as it is a component of the dessert recipe I am working on for my final project. 

The first project of the day was to create some tart crusts! These are so cute, aren’t they? They will eventually be filled with a lemon and chamomile tart filling. I can’t wait to taste it!

raw vegan tart crust raw vegan tart crust

After making the tart crusts, we made another breakfast (or anytime snack for that matter) dish. This is a banana chia pudding topped with a chai cream and some seasonal fresh fruit. The chai cream was amazing. It tasted just like a chai latte, and it gave me a great excuse to finally purchase some cardamom!

raw vegan chia puddingraw vegan chia pudding raw vegan chia pudding raw vegan chia pudding

We had another lesson in artfully plating and properly dressing salads today as well. If you toss the leaves in the bowl with the dressing and then arrange them on the plate, you get just the right amount in every bite. We have previously practiced with kale and a green of our choice in artfully plating salads. Today, we were given butter lettuce to practice with. It’s so light and fluffy. It almost looks like a flower when you make a little tower from it. Then, it’s easy to tuck little bits of vegetables into the folds. I feel like Christmas has come early with all the red and green bits tucked into my butter lettuce tree. =D

butter lettuce salad with honey mustard dressing butter lettuce salad with honey mustard dressing butter lettuce salad with honey mustard dressing

The class assignments are a bit lighter this week to allow us time for testing our final project recipes. We had to submit our first process/testing photos, so I can give you a little sneak peak of what I am working on. I started the prep work for my appetizer and my dessert. The appetizer will contain a yogurt cream sauce inside of a cucumber roll and my dessert is going to be a mash up of a mango lassi and a panna cotta. The photos below are my yogurt before starting incubation, a honey pecan wafer, and my panna cotta experiment in the molds, getting ready to go into the fridge to set up overnight.

raw vegan coconut yogurt raw vegan toule raw vegan toule raw vegan mango lassi panna cotta raw vegan mango lassi panna cotta

Raw Food Level 1: Day 13

raw vegan chocolate chip cookies

I just completed day 13 of the Raw Food Level 1 course at Matthew Kenney Academy. I’m having so much fun! I feel like the time that I spend on my class material is going by so much faster now that my daily knife skills exercises are completed and I am able to get right into the recipes each day. I am also probably moving a lot faster, thanks to those very same knife skills. 

Today, we explored raw versions of some more baked goods, and continued to prep the fermented nut cheeses that we started a couple days ago.

I created 2 cheeses, as required, and a bonus experiment. I chose to model my rosemary crusted cheese after a goat cheese, so I let it ferment a bit on the longer side of the suggested range, and I added a bit of lemon to really create a tangy flavor. The one next to it is a citrus and rose petal cheese that was inspired by a spice blend called, “Florida Sunshine“, which is made a local company, “The Spice & Tea Exchange”, in Winter Park, FL. I mixed some orange zest into the cheese, and then topped it off with some rose petals, sea salt, and black pepper. My “bonus” experiment is a nut cheese that I added a red wine stain and some black pepper to. I was hoping that the red wine flavor would infuse into the cheese, but it didn’t really sink in as I had hoped. It sure was pretty, though. 

raw vegan nut cheeses raw vegan nut cheeses

Following the cheese flavoring, we put those chocolate chips to good use and made raw vegan chocolate chop cookies! Oh my goodness, these were amazing. I haven’t had anything resembling a chocolate cookie in a long time. With all of my weird food allergies and other food problems, I just decided to give up on baking all together. It’s nice to know that I can still have a treat. I will definitely be trying some other cookie recipes in the future.

raw vegan chocolate chip cookies raw vegan chocolate chip cookies

After the cookies, it was time to make something healthy again. We had a lesson on vinaigrettes and learned about acid to oil ratios be making two different provided recipes, and then comparing/contrasting them. After that, we took what we learned and were given free reign to design our own vinaigrette dressing! I made an Asian inspired citrus and sesame vinaigrette and have included the recipe at the bottom of this post in case you would like to put it on your own delicious salad.

vinaigrette salad dressings

After creating an awesome vinaigrette, we were challenged to create a salad with whatever we had on hand that would compliment our newly created salad dressings. The salad exercise was also to practice artistically plating salad. It’s not just a “pile of stuff” on a plate or in a bowl.

My salad had a base of red leaf lettuce. I tucked portobello mushroom and bartlett pear into the folds and propped them up a bit with some sprouts to create a dimensional look.  I also added some julienne of carrot and sugar snap pea pods, as well as some peas that were removed from the pods, scallions cut on the bias, and finely diced celery. That little mound on the left is a bit of pickled ginger that I made myself! This salad was great, and having good knife skills made all the difference in being able to present it as a piece of art. 

Asian pear salad with citrus and sesame vinaigrette Asian pear salad with citrus and sesame vinaigrette

We also did some prep work for a dish of portobello sliders that we will be consuming in the near future. Below are some “caramelized onions” and the batter for the buns, both ready to go into the dehydrator. I just love the way the red onion sliced on the mandolin looks. It’s like little ribbons with a bit of color on the edge. My kitchen smelled very fragrant while these were dehydrating! The slider buns had a really great bread-like finished texture as well. I will definitely be making them again.

caramelized onions caramelized onions slider buns slider buns

Lastly, we did a little more prep work for that fancy cheese plate that is coming at the end of week 3. We made some simple chia crackers! They are so easy. Toss some chia seeds into your liquid of choice with your seasoning of choice and then after they gel and become thick, put them on a dehydrator sheet and make some crackers! The variations that I made were basic black pepper, which was the recipe the school provided us with; carrot juice and onion powder; and a mix of smoked paprika, smoked sea salt, cayenne pepper, and red chili flake. They all came turned out to be amazingly delicious!

raw vegan chia crackers raw vegan chia crackers raw vegan chia crackers

Citrus and Sesame Asian Vinaigrette
A light and flavorful citrus and sesame Asian inspired vinaigrette salad dressing. It pairs perfectly with carrot, scallion, pear, and sugar snap peas.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup sesame oil
  2. 1/2 cup OJ (fresh squeezed is best)
  3. 3/4 tsp tamari (or coconut aminos and miso)
  4. 1/4 clove of garlic
  5. 1/4" piece of ginger
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
Notes
  1. It should be enough to use on a few salads.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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