I think I’ve been overdoing it on the avocado’s recently. Not in any sort of “ooo, I’m gonna get fat from eating avocados every day” way, more of a “I’m sick to death of eating avocados everyday” way. So last night for tea, I fancied something other than my usual ‘avocado and sun-dried tomato salad’ or ‘avocado smoothie’ or ‘creamy avocado sauces’. I wanted MUSHROOMS. Not the kind your thinking of, no – I fancied something reminiscent of a wild mushroom risotto but without the rice, cream, butter or heat. Which pretty much left me with, err…raw mushrooms. So how was I to get that rich mushroomy hit without cooking up a feast? Easy! Raw mushroom pates and dips are really rich in flavour and incredibly simple to make. When blended with olive oil, soaked seeds or nuts, olives, fresh herbs and a touch of miso or tamari – the mushrooms flavour really intensifies. Yeah I know, that may sound hard to believe but what I made last night fulfilled my ‘shroom cravings and actually tasted even better the next day. Especially when scooped out the bowl with some avocado slices…
MUSHROOM AND OLIVE PATE
1 pack of chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 cup sunflower seeds or walnuts, soaked
1/3 cup olive oil
Half a jar of pitted black olives
1 tbsp brown miso or tamari
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
Generous amount of black pepper
Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
In a food processor or blender, mix everything except the flat leaf parsley. Add a little bit of water if necessary to blend. Miso and tamari are pretty salty, but add a touch of sea salt if needed. Stir in the flat leaf parsley, and add some extra chopped black olives if you have any left over.
Ideally this would be spread on a dehydrated flax cracker, but as I’m on the road at the moment and without most of my equipment, I had to think outside the big black box. Instead of crackers, I used squares of very thinly sliced butternut squash. I spread a layer of pate, added some extra chopped olives, scattered some parsley and drizzled some olive oil. This pate also doubles up well as a dip!
I’d like to introduce you to two very good friends of mine, Jack and Sally. They are awesome. Jack is a comic legend, and Sally is one of the most uniquely wise and interesting people I know. The reason I am telling you about them is because as of monday, they will be eating nothing but raw foods for two whole weeks! After expressing a desire to have a bit of a detox, they said they were up for “giving this raw food thing a try”. This is all very new to them, but they are both willing to give it a go and see where it leads them. Neither of them are aiming to be totally raw, they are just wanting to expand their knowledge on healthy eating and boost their intake of nutrient dense foods.
It can seem very hard to get started when you’re wanting to eat healthier. But when you are wanting to give raw foods a go that can be almost terrifying! So as of Monday 20th February, I will be their personalraw food chef for the two whole weeks. During those two weeks I will be preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for them – and all of it will be raw. On top of that we will be having juices, shakes, smoothies and a constant supply of raw chocolate! Can’t be bad, eh? They will be learning how to make most of the meals, so that when I leave they feel fully equipped to start leading a healthier life style on their own. Jack is a very good cook (his nut roast with whole almonds and raisins is amazing!) so he is very keen to be hands on in the kitchen. You never know, we might have a new raw food chef in the making here! In fact, at the end of the two weeks Jack and Sally will test their new found knowledge of raw living cuisine and create a three course meal for the last supper! Watch the blog for the photo’s – I already can’t wait!
I have so much admiration for anyone who decides to take control of their health, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to help two people dear to me do just that. So I invite you to follow Jack, Sally and myself as we embark on this raw food extravaganza together. And you never know, they may hate every single minute of it and go running to the nearest pizza hut as soon as it’s finished. But I have a sneaky suspicion it will be a different story… Watch this space!
If like me you’re spending Valentines alone this year (sniff sniff) then don’t sit there listening to Celine Dion* stuffing chocolates down your gob – sit there listening to Celine Dion and stuff this down your gob instead! Get comfort from your comfort food knowing that this Decadent Chocolate Mousse is actually good for you. Yes, that’s right – it really is possible to indulge on something that tastes so delicious and it actually give you health benefits. Even if you don’t give a monkey’s about the health benefits, you’ll still be amazed at how good this tastes. It’s so ridiculously chocolatey that you might just give up cooked food all together when you realise there are raw deserts out there as good as this.
If you are making this pudding for a loved one, then be warned! You may get a bit over excited at the sheer chocolatey-ness of it all and end up with a situation like this on your hands…
When I tell people how avocados are one of the best ingredients for making tasty smoothies, most of them look horrified. All of a sudden they turn into Peter Kay – “Avocado smoothies??“. But when they actually try said avocado smoothie it’s a totally different story. They love it! The subtle flavours of avocado are taken over by whatever you are mixing it with, be it banana’s and honey, blueberries, or chocolate. But what remains is the avocados luxurious smooth and creamy texture. It really is a raw food chefs secret weapon. If you love yoghurt or milk in your smoothie but are wanting to cut out dairy, chuck an avocado in instead. Not only will the smoothie taste amazing, you will also be getting a shed load of vitamin E and anti-oxidents to boot. Win! If you do a lot of high intensity workouts, having a smoothie with an avocado is a great post workout drink. Adding hemp protein powder to your shakes and smoothies is also good if you exercise a lot. I will do a post soon with a recipe for a powerhouse protein packed shake! In the meantime, try this simple yet gorgeous Blueberry and Avocado Smoothie. It’s a perfect one to start your day with, but I had mine for my tea and was totally satisfied for the rest of the evening. Thick, creamy and your skin will love it. Bottoms up!
BLUEBERRY AND AVOCADO SMOOTHIE
Half a punnet of blueberries
1 medium avocado
500 ml almond milk
1 tbsp honey (optional)
Chuck everything in a blender and whizz it up. This tastes so good, it will be hard not to gulp it down in one go! I bet you anything you’ll look at the bottom of your glass and think “Oh, I wish I’d savoured that a bit more…”. 😉
Feast your eyes on this, baby. I cannot begin to describe to you how good it tasted. It’s a Mint Chocolate Cheesecake from Aloka in Brighton and it’s also 100% raw. I, on the other hand am not 100% raw. If every cafe and restaurant in the world served raw food as good as they do in Aloka, then maybe I would be. But the fact is, they don’t. And even if they did, I still wouldn’t label myself 100% raw because I personally find it too restricting.
People in the ‘raw food world’ may look down on me for this, but if I want to eat a cheese and onion pasty, I will. Of course, the chance of me actually wanting to stuff a highly processed piece of crap in my mouth is pretty slim. But never say never, right? The thing is, life is for living. If you start putting too many rules and regulations in your life, you end up becoming stressed and miserable. I’m not a doctor or anything, but I believe being stressed and miserable is just as bad for you as eating a chicken nugget. Even worse, perhaps.
I have so much admiration and respect for raw food pioneers such as Kate Magic and Shazzie. They have created a wonderful world for themselves and eat a 100% raw diet (or as close you are ever going to get to being 100%!). They are experiencing such incredible highs from living this way. If you’ve not come across these raw goddess’s, look them up. They have been raw for nearly two decades! Amazing. Maybe one day I too will want to be 100% raw like them. Apparently it took Kate nearly 10 years to finally give up chips, but don’t quote me on that!
In the end, it all comes down to balance. You simply cannot deny the amazing health benefits of eating loads of fresh raw foods. But you also cannot deny the fact that eating this way all of the time is pretty tough. Especially in the UK. So just do what you can. Without wanting to sound like a cliche, I would say that 80% of my diet is made up of raw foods. I save the 20% percent for the times when I fancy a bit of something else, or when there isn’t any decent raw food available.
I like to let my hair down once in a while just like the next person. Too much of anything isn’t always a good thing, and for me that includes trying to be 100% raw as well.
This pesto is one of my favourite things to make. It’s absolutely delicious and you don’t miss the parmesan cheese at all. It’s also cheap to make as it’s made with sunflower seeds, as opposed to extremely pricey pine nuts (£4.00 for 150g? I’ll make do without, thanks!). You’ll love this raw, vegan pesto recipe. Stir it into courgette pasta, use it as a layer in raw lasagne or spread simply on some flax seed crackers.
BASIL AND SUNFLOWER PESTO
4 cups basil
1 cup sunflower seeds (soaked for at least 4 hours)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.
Juice of half a lemon
Place everything in a food processor and mix well. This will store in a glass jar for a few weeks if you make sure to always cover it with a layer of olive oil. This prevents it from oxidisation (if you really want to know).
I stirred mine into some ribbons of courgette (use your potato peeler to make the ribbons!). I then added some sliced olives, chopped baby tomatoes, diced red onion and more fresh basil. Bon appetite!