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The past three years, I’ve had the honor of making Thanksgiving dinner. Not surprisingly, I always strive to make a healthy meal that still reflects the style and aesthetic of traditional Thanksgiving cuisine. My meals are always vegetarian, but this meal was vegan (with the exception of one dessert that uses organic eggs), partially raw, and almost entirely grainless. My food always uses no refined or unnatural sweeteners or artificial ingredients. Everything is from scratch (with the exception of one dessert where I use a pre-made pie crust). I didn’t follow a recipe for everything, but I’ll give you a basic idea of how to re-create these dishes.

Dinner

Raw Vegan Stuffing

Process raw sunflower seeds and almonds (or any other raw nuts or seeds) in the food processor. Add chopped onion, grated carrot, chopped celery, chopped apple, chopped button mushrooms, and fresh sage, thyme, and basil. Add olive oil and sea salt to taste, combine well, and dehydrate in a food dehydrator (I use Excalibur) at 110 degrees for about six hours, stirring every few hours. Dehydrating isn’t completely necessary, but it gave this stuffing a very authentic texture.

Sautéed Collard Greens

Add chopped onion to a pan with olive oil. Once onions are slightly browned, add finely chopped collard greens and some water to the pan and cover it. Adding water allows the collard greens to steam. Since collard greens are so dense, they need more time to cook than most greens.

Roasted Vegetables

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Cut and peel butternut squash, turnip, red pepper, onion, asparagus, and brussell sprouts to uniform-sized pieces. Coat in olive oil, sea salt, and fresh or dried herbs of choice (rosemary, thyme, etc). Put most dense vegetables (squash, brussell sprouts) in the oven first, followed by onion, peppers, asparagus. Stir vegetables after about 10 minutes to insure browning; continue to cook to desired darkness.

Raw Mashed “Potatoes” (Parsnips)

Combine parsnips, pine nuts (or other nut), water, lemon juice, 1-2 cloves of garlic, sea salt, and a drizzle of olive oil in a high-powered blender (I use Vita-Mix) or food process. Process until smooth. Warm in the dehydrator if desired.

Raw Mushroom Gravy

Great on mashed parsnips, raw stuffing, or anything else. Combine shiitake mushrooms, raw almonds, garlic, water, olive oil, and fresh sage in a high-powered blender or food processor.

Raw Cauliflower “Rice”

This dish has a texture similar to couscous. Break apart a large head of cauliflower and place in large, heat-safe bowl. Pour boiling water to cover and let sit for about one minute. Drain, then add cauliflower, garlic, basil, sea salt, olive oil, and turmeric to a food processor and process until a rice-like consistency is reached.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Milk

Steam or boil sweet potatoes (I prefer garnet yams) until tender. Mash, add about a half can of coconut milk, and continue mashing over low heat. Season with cinnamon and sea salt.

Cranberry Sauce

I adapted this recipe from Clean Eating Magazine. Add 12 oz fresh cranberries, 1 chopped apple, 1/2 cup raw agave nectar (or raw honey), 1/2 cup water, 1 1/2 TBS minced fresh ginger, juice of 1/2 large lemon, and 1/8 tsp sea salt to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir often and allow to cool completely before serving. I found it wasn’t quite sweet enough for my liking, so I added a bit more agave and a few drops of liquid stevia.

Dessert

Raw Cacao (Chocolate) Mud Pie

This recipe is a bit elaborate, but this pie is exquisite. It tastes like flourless chocolate cake but is made from incredibly healthful ingredients.
For the crust:
– 2 cups raw nuts (walnuts and pecans)
– 1 cup dates
– 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
– 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
– 4 TBS agave nectar
Process dates and nuts in food processor; add other crust ingredients until well-blended. Press into a springform pan and chill in the refrigerator.
For the filling:
– 1 cup coconut oil
– 2 small/medium avocados
– 1 cup cacao powder
– 1/2 cup agave nectar
– a few drops liquid stevia
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
Blend all filling ingredients without overmixing. Add to crust, top with shredded coconut, and allow to chill in fridge for a few hours before serving.

Raw Apple Crisp

Chop gala apples and coat in a mixture of lemon juice, coconut oil, agave, maple flavoring, cinnamon, and almond milk or water. Let soften in dehydrator at 110 degrees for a few hours, or serve apples raw. The crisp topping is adapted from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo. In a food processor, lightly process 3/4 cup pecans, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup chopped dates, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 2 TBS coconut oil and process. Add topping to apples.

Flourless Gingerbread

Ingredients:
– 1 cup almond butter (roasted is fine)
– 4 organic eggs
– pinch salt
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 TBS maple flavor
– 2 TBS powdered ginger, 1 TBS cinnamon
– 1 TBS agave
– 1/4 tsp strong stevia powder
Combine all ingredients well. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper (very important!) and bake at 325F degrees for about 20 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:
– 1 pre-made spelt pie crust
– 1 cup canned pumpkin
– 1 large carrot
– 3/4 cup almond milk
– 2 TBS tapioca starch (or other thickener)
– 3 TBS coconut oil
– 1/4 tsp strong stevia powder or natural sweetener of choice
– pumpkin pie spice to taste, dash sea salt
Blend all filling ingredients in blender, pour into crust, bake at 375F degrees for about 30 minutes. Let cool completely before serving (even stick it in the fridge).

Desserts were served with cashew cream, combining 1 cup cashews, 1/2 cup almond milk, and a few drops liquid stevia in the blender.

And there you have my Thanksgiving dinner! I’m still enjoying the leftovers. I hope you all had a wonderful, happy holiday.

Eat well,
Emily

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Kale Chips (Video)

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Kale is one of my favorite vegetables. It is densely nutritious and surprisingly versatile. While I normally sauté kale, you can also bake it in the oven with a few simple ingredients to make a delicious snack food. These Kale Chips are considerably more nutritious than regular chips and still taste fantastic. Kale is also fairly inexpensive, and this recipe is quite easy.

While I don’t agree with every aspect of his philosophy, I am still a big fan of Mark Sisson’s blog, Mark’s Daily Apple. Mark held a contest in which readers were asked to make a video of a recipe that fits into the “Primal Blueprint” (his diet/exercise/lifestyle philosophy). I entered the contest with my recipe of Kale Chips and thought I would share the video with my readers.

Kale Chips
– 1 bunch kale
– 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
– sea salt
– chili powder

1. Rinse and dry kale thoroughly. Tear into chip-sized pieces and place in bowl, discarding stems.
2. Pour olive oil, sea salt, and chili powder (to taste) over the kale and massage with hands until fully coated.
3. Bake in a 275F degree* oven. After 10 minutes, shift kale slightly, and bake until crisp (about another five minutes).

*In the video, I say to use a 200F degree oven. However, I found out after filming this that my old (and squeaky!) oven was very inaccurate. An oven thermometer informed me that my oven was actually heating much higher than I was setting it. 275 degrees should work.

Let me know if you enjoy video recipe posts and you may see more in the future!

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Thanks for reading (and watching),
Emily

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge advocate for salad. I eat a large salad for two meals of the day on average. But no matter the combination of vegetables, greens, and patés, salad can get a little redundant. That’s where dressing comes in.

Nearly all dressings you buy in a bottle are full of chemicals, additives, thickeners, and sugar. A quick check of the ingredient list tells all. But an easy, healthy, and considerably more delicious option is to make your own dressing. Fresh squeezed lemon juice and a good quality olive oil make a nice dressing, but sometimes you want something with a little more pizazz.

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Personally, I’m partial to creamy dressings. I use nuts and seeds to achieve a rich, creamy dressing while adding healthy fat. I have never measured the ingredients while making a salad dressing, but I’ll give you a basic template to experiment with, as well as some of my dressing recipes.

Template for Salad Dressing
1/2 cup nuts or seeds. Try cashews, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, or a combination.
Tangy component. I prefer fresh squeezed lemon juice (one lemon’s worth) which is detoxifying and alkalizing to the body. You can also use 1 tablespoon raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, which has many known health properties as a detoxifier. Avoid other types of vinegar as they encourage “bad bacteria” growth in the intestines and don’t offer anything nutritionally.
Fresh herbs or spices. I will use almost a full bunch of cilantro or basil to make a dressing flavorful. Herbs and spices have great medicinal properties and can be used in abundance. Don’t be stingy; this is creating your dressing’s flavor identity! Basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, and thyme are all good options. If you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, try spices like cumin, curry powder, or powdered ginger.
A little kick. I will often add 1-3 cloves of fresh garlic. You can also use a bit of red onion. Remember that because these ingredients are raw, they will be quite pungent. A little goes a long way. If you like a spicy dressing, add cayenne pepper.
Sea salt. How salty you like your dressing is up to you, but certainly add some to enhance the flavor. You can also use raw soy sauce (Nama Shoyu) or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.
Water. I’ve never measured how much water I use, but I estimate around a half a cup. Add more as needed. How thick you want your dressing is up to you. Remember that once you refrigerate your dressing, it will thicken.

Combine all ingredients in a blender. I use my high powered Vita-Mix. If your blender is not very strong, consider grinding your nuts/seeds in a food processor first. Store in a glass jar or tightly-closed tupperware container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Here are a few of my dressings to get you started.

Creamy Cilantro Dill Dressing
(pictured above; quantities of ingredients can vary)
– 1/2 cup combination of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
– 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
– 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 bunch to 1 bunch fresh cilantro
– 2 tablespoons dried dill
– 1/8 cup chopped red onion
– sea salt

Tahini Dressing
(quantities can vary)
– 1/2 cup sesame seeds
– 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
– 2-3 cloves of garlic
– 1 tablespoon cumin
– juice of one lemon
– sea salt

Basil Pesto Dressing
(quantities can vary)
– 1/2 cup combination of cashews and almonds
– 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water
– 1/2 bunch to 1 bunch fresh basil
– 2 cloves of garlic
– juice of half a lemon (optional)
– drizzle olive oil
– sea salt

I hope this inspires you! Do you have any good ideas for salad dressings? Share them with me. I’m thinking of attempting an Asian-inspired dressing next, using fresh ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. If you need a little salad inspiration, be sure to check out my post, Salad Making 101 for a step-by-step guide. Keep your salads interesting!

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Eat well,
Emily

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Sometimes I resent that salads are looked at as a mere appetizer or the dinner choice of prissy weight watcher. Many tend to think of salads as bland and uninteresting. Not true! They can be unbelievably filling and satisfying while providing extraordinary nutrition. Awhile back I did a post on salads (see Salad-Making 101) that gave a basic foundation on how to make a great, healthy salad. I wanted to add to that, exploring some more options to make your salad exciting without the junk (croutons, ranch dressing, bacon bits).

IMG_1897This salad is made with a Curry Paté and topped with Creamy Tahini Dressing.

When it comes to vegetables, I usually use whatever I have on hand (see Salad-Making 101 for detailed tips). I like to vary my non-vegetable additions. One of my favorite things to make is a nut or seed paté. Patés are very popular for those following a raw food diet as they offer protein, healthy fat, and fiber from a raw source. I don’t follow a specific recipe to make patés. Instead I combine various nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices in the food processor and taste along the way. You only need about one cup of nuts/seeds to make a batch with upwards of four servings.

Template for Raw Patés
1 cup raw nuts or seeds. In this curry paté I used sunflower seeds, cashews, and sesame seeds. Try almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, or pumpkin seeds.
Herbs or spices. I had no fresh herbs on hand, so I used 1-2 tablespoons of curry powder and a teaspoon of cumin. Any fresh herb will work, too.
Fresh flavor. I used one clove of garlic (a little goes along way) for this batch. Also try a bit of raw red onion, bell peppers, or fresh squeezed lemon juice.
A little sea salt.
Drizzle water. I didn’t measure how much I used, but how creamy or chunky you want your paté is up to you.

In a food processor, grind all nuts and seeds to a relatively fine texture. Add remaining ingredients, saving water for last. Process until ingredients are fully chopped and mixed. Add more water if necessary.

Patés make salads more delicious and infinitely more satisfying. A batch using about a cup of nuts or seeds makes multiple servings. It should last about a week in the fridge, but is best consumed as soon as possible.

Homemade dressings are also a way to make your salad healthier and more interesting. Most store-bought dressings are full of sugar, preservatives, thickeners, and other unnecessary ingredients. An organic, cold-pressed oil and lemon juice make a divine dressing, but if you’re looking for something more exciting, consider making your own. I like to make a guilt-free creamy dressing like tahini. Tahini, which is ground sesame seeds, can be purchased roasted or raw. You can also blend sesame seeds with a small amount of water to make your own tahini dressing. Add lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and you’ve made a creamy dressing, effortlessly. If tahini is too bitter for you, consider using other nuts or seeds to make a creamy dressing. Also experiment with fresh herbs to flavor your dressing.

A paté or dressing can completely change the taste and character of your salad, and that’s not even factoring in all the vegetable combinations! Salad possibilities are endless. Just remember to avoid the processed junky salad add-ons and get creative!

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How do you like your salad?

-Emily

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Eggs and Omelets

While the majority of my meals are vegan and vegetable-based, I will admit to being an avid egg eater. Eggs, especially when organic and grass-fed, are a dense source of nutrition and protein. Generally we think of “whole foods” as vegetables and whole grains, but eggs are also unprocessed. Add onions, peppers, and a leafy green like spinach to your omelet to make it even more nutritious. The great thing about eggs and omelets is that they’re available at many restaurants that don’t have many healthy options. You can find yourself at a diner with a menu that seems to consist of burgers and fries, but often times you’ll be able to get an omelet. While these eggs are not usually organic, a veggie omelet is a much smarter choice than a burger or something deep fried. Just remember to skip on the greasy potatoes and white bread toast!

Making eggs or an omelet at home can be much healthier, and you can incorporate whichever vegetables you like. I also like to add an herb like thyme, and sometimes some goat cheese. If you don’t feel you have omelet-making technique, you can scramble your eggs with the vegetables to make a scrambled omelet.

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Veggie Omelet with Onions, Red Pepper, Kale, and Goat Cheese

I suggest cooking your eggs in olive oil. Lightly sauté the onions, pepper, kale, or other vegetables. Add three beaten organic eggs and scramble over low heat (for fluffy eggs). Add herbs, sea salt, and pepper to taste.

Instead of ketchup or hot sauce, I recommend salsa on your eggs. It’s a delicious addition and adds natural anti-inflammatory foods like onion and garlic. It also avoids the dreaded high fructose corn syrup that’s in so many commercial condiments.

Many people think egg whites are a healthier choice when eating eggs. Recent studies are showing that the cholesterol in egg yolks doesn’t seem to affect body cholesterol. Plus, the yolk has the most nutrition. It’s best to eat a food as nature provides it; when man steps in, things usually go wrong! Also avoid products like Egg Beaters, which are full of preservatives and additives to make it seem like “the real thing.”

How do you like your eggs?

-Emily

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Raw Green Vegetable Soup

The summer is the perfect time for light, cool, refreshing meals. A raw soup, which is completely uncooked, is extraordinarily nutritious and easy to make in your blender. It’s very important to include raw vegetables in your daily diet as they still have all of their natural enzymes and nutrients intact. Heating destroys some of these compounds. I also urge you to buy organic when you can. Your exposure to pesticides will be much greater if you’re eating a lot of non-organic produce.

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This is what I call a Creamy Asparagus Soup, but there’s much more than asparagus in here. I don’t follow a specific recipe to make a raw soup; instead I include a wealth of raw vegetables, fresh herbs, and taste it along the way. Here’s a basic outline of what to include.

Template for Raw Soups
Raw vegetables. I always include a leafy green like kale or swiss chard. After that, try zucchini, cucumber, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, or any other raw vegetable. This should be the base of your soup.
Flavor enhancer. Raw onions and raw garlic both add delicious flavor to soup, but remember that they are much stronger when raw than cooked. Both onions and garlic have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Fresh herbs. Fresh herbs have medicinal properties and will give your soup a distinct flavor. I like basil or cilantro; experiment with your favorite herbs. You’ll want to use a lot if you’re making a large batch of soup. When I fill my blender, I use an entire bunch of basil or cilantro (and sometimes I could use more!) I would stick to no more than two different herbs, or else your soup’s flavor may be too complex.
Lemon juice. Lemon juice is extremely alkalizing to the body and adds a subtle tang to your soup. Don’t buy bottled lemon juice; buy lemons and squeeze the juice yourself.
Cream. Okay, not cream exactly, but something that will make your soup creamy. Avocados are a great alkalizing nutrient source and will make your soup creamy. I also like to add raw cashews to make the soup creamier and slightly sweeter. Experiment with other raw nuts and seeds, too.
Sea Salt and Pepper. A little sea salt is definitely necessary to make your soup palatable. Regular iodized table salt is heavily processed, so opt for sea salt instead. Crushed black pepper adds a nice addition, as does cayenne pepper if you like your soup spicy.
Water. You need a little liquid to get your soup to the desired consistency. How thick you want your soup is totally up to you. I like a thick, creamy soup.

Some Tips:
1. I use my Vita-Mix, an extremely high-powered blender, to make my soups. The Vita-Mix has no trouble liquifying whole vegetables. If your blender is not so strong, make sure to chop your vegetables into smaller pieces and add enough water. You also may need to process your soup in small batches.
2. Don’t forget to test your soup after adding all the ingredients. See if it’s a good texture, creamy enough, flavorful enough, etc. When making a raw soup, you can keep adding more of a certain ingredient until you’re totally satisfied with the result.
3. The soup keeps well in the fridge for about a week. It may keep longer, but mine has always been finished by then! Just be aware that the soup will thicken slightly after sitting in the fridge.

Try the recipe out, and let me know some of your favorite combinations of ingredients!

-Emily

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I am not unlike most people: I love pizza. But because I stay away from refined grains (white bread, white flour), and processed dairy (most commercial cheeses), pizza is not a regular meal for me. I’ve been trying to perfect a healthy pizza crust recipe for some time, and find other ways to improve pizza’s nutritional value. The best thing about this recipe is that it’s simple, fast (no kneading necessary!) and doesn’t require any unfamiliar ingredients. You can modify any of these toppings to your liking; this pizza was made half with onion, pepper, and pesto, and the other half with onion, pepper, pesto, and broccoli.

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Whole Grain Yeast-Free Pizza
Crust Ingredients:
– 2 1/2 cups alternative flour (I used mostly whole wheat pastry flour and some oat flour)
– 1/2 tsp sea salt
– 1 TBS baking powder
– 3 TBS olive oil
– 2 tsp dried basil or oregano (more or less depending on how seasoned you want the crust)
– 1 1/4 cups water

1. Preheat the oven to 445 degrees.
2. Combine all dry ingredients. Add oil and mix. Add water and mix.
3. Mix dough thoroughly. Add more flour if dough is excessively sticky (it should be a little sticky). Transfer dough to an oiled baking sheet, and with floured hands, spread the dough on the sheet to desired thickness and size.
4. Bake for 8 minutes. While baking, prepare sauce.

Pizza Sauce
If there’s a brand of packaged pizza sauce that doesn’t have unnatural ingredients or a high sodium content, feel free to use it. I simply buy organic strained tomatoes and add a few cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of both dried oregano and dried basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and a dash of salt. The quantities of all of these ingredients can be adjusted to your preference. Simmer on the stove for a few minutes.

5. When crust is done, remove from oven and add the sauce.
6. Top with grated cheese. I use all natural goat cheddar cheese. I don’t recommend most cow cheeses and certainly not processed cheeses. Goat cheese has a deliciously rich flavor, but if you’re not a fan, you can omit the cheese and double up on toppings. You can also try dabs of soft goat cheese as opposed to grating hard goat cheese.
7. Add your toppings. This pizza has onion, bell peppers, broccoli, and pesto. Try any combination of vegetables. The vegetables are one of the main components that make this pizza so healthy.
8. Return to the oven and bake another 8-10 minutes.

Enjoy! Remember, if you like what you read, subscribe!

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Eat well,
Emily

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