Can You Trick Your Family Into Eating More Raw Food?

fresh-vegetables-1187928Now, there’s a loaded question: CAN you trick your family into eating more raw food? Personally, I’m not into hiding spinach in the cupcakes. But I’m not above making sure that the raw vegan stuff I’m eating is as appealing to the rest of the family as possible.

Take, for instance, salad. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that about the most boring raw food one could conceive of? I beg to differ. A salad is something that can easily be added to the table as a side dish. But throw in unexpected goodies, and everyone will be digging in and asking for seconds.

For starters, don’t do the iceberg lettuce. Don’t. Do. It. There’s hardly any nutrition in the stuff, let alone taste. Instead, go for a nice mix of dark leafy greens, some of the healthiest, most nutrient dense food on the planet. They don’t have to be expensive. For instance, Costco carries large tubs of mixed salad greens at a great price, and if you’ve got a Trader Joe’s about, they have handy inexpensive bags of salad greens, as well.

Next, make sure there’s a protein in there. I’m not talking tired old chicken left over from Sunday’s dinner. I’m talking chickpeas, almonds, black beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, etc. Pick one or two (or three) and toss them in.

Add something sweet. My son isn’t usually hip on salad, but the ones I’ve been setting on the table lately have him coming back for more. Adding some chopped apple, a handful of fresh blueberries, or some raisins turns the salad into a treasure hunt for kids.

Throw in several different colors and textures so the salad is interesting. Try colored bell pepper slices, carrot shavings (or matchsticks), radish slices, red onion, corn, tomatoes, anything with vibrant color.

Finally, make sure that salad dressing is not only tasty but healthy. Sure, bottled dressings taste good, but read the ingredients first. Many of them contain high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and artificial flavorings. A quick mix of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, chopped garlic, a bit of honey, and some spices such as oregano and basil make for an amazing dressing that’s a fraction of the cost. You can make larger amounts up ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. Or use your favorite salsa and make it taco salad night!

I’ve found a new love of salad by making them interesting and big, BIG, gigantic enough that I can feel like I’m indulging by eating as much as I want. And it’s been interesting to watch the family load up more and more of their plate with dark leafy greens and healthy veggies. Did I trick them? Of course not. I’d never trick my family into eating more raw food – not me.

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Raw Food and the Reluctant Eater

By the time I’d finished writing the book “Smoothie Power! Recipes for Weight Loss, Vitality, and the Occasional Superpower” a few years ago, my eating habits had changed drastically. I had started the recipe book by stuffing myself with smoothies in an effort to create as many recipes as I could, as fast as I could. What resulted was a pretty major shift in my health, something that took me totally by surprise. By the time the book was published, i was eating an 80- 90% raw food diet. (That means raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts – not raw meat. That would be icky.) I loved it! The recipes I was discovering through going raw were amazing, I felt great, my asthma went away, and my eyesight even improved.

But I have a family. And my family wasn’t so hot on the idea of going raw. They did love a lot of the recipes (especially the desserts), but neither my husband or my son were willing to give up cooked foods, and quite frankly, I wasn’t always willing either. So that meant I either had to cook them food, then prepare my raw meals, or go back to cooking for all of us. Option #1 was getting way too time consuming, unless I wanted a big bowl of salad three times a day.

While I did keep adding a higher content of raw foods to our diet, I wasn’t able to keep eating the way I wanted to. That’s always bothered me. How can I get more raw food goodness into my family’s diet without making anyone feel they had to give up things they love? And how can I do it without knocking myself out?

I have no idea.

But I’m going to find out, and I’ll take you along with me. I’m going to get back to blogging more often. I’ll share some recipes as I learn, I’ll let you know about any good raw food/healthy eating cookbooks, and I’ll share my experiences with you – failures, successes, and all. And, yes, you’ll be seeing some herbalism posts coming back into the mix as well.

So hold onto your Vitamix. We’re about to fall into the rabbit hole. I hear there’s kale down there.

Peet’s Coffee Connoisseur Sampler Gift – The Perfect Addition to the Holidays!

Peets CoffeeToday is a big day of Christmas preparations for me, so I started the morning off with a nice boost: some Peet’s Coffee from my Connoisseur Sampler Gift set. Being a bit of a coffee snob, I love Peet’s and have talked about them before. But it’s been a long while since I’ve indulged. Peet’s sent me a beautiful Holiday gift set to review, and I have to say it felt like Christmas came early!

The set comes in a beautiful box (I’m keeping it for the storage of some treasures) and includes four delicious bags of ground coffee. The first one I tried is their Holiday blend, and I have to say it would make the perfect choice for holiday get-togethers. It’s not too bold, so you won’t jack up Aunt Martha like you did last year, serving her the dark roast. I’d definitely call that one  a crowd pleaser. Major Dickason is a full bodied brew. It’s what I had this morning so I can attack the baking with vigor. Garuda, the nutty, earthy choice is also full bodied and definitely high on my list of favorites. But it’s the Uzuri Blend that stays, as always, on the top of my Peet’s coffee preferences. Uzuri is an East African blend from small farms, and it has the hint of dark berries that I love in coffee.

Here’s another thing I appreciate about Peet’s: They roast high quality fair trade beans, and because of this, there’s no need to hide their product with artificial flavoring. (I want coffee that tastes like berries or nuts or earth because of how it was grown, darn it! There’s my coffee snobbery again for you.) AND Peet’s has the very first LEED Gold certified roasting facility in the country! That’s where they roast 100% of their beans. But no worries, you don’t have to fly to Berkeley, California, to get your brew. You can find Peet’s all across the country, at your local grocery store or in Peet’s own stores.

So whether you’re looking for a last-minute gift idea that anyone would flip over, or you want to stock up on a fantastic selection of coffee for all those holiday meals, parties, and get-togethers, let me suggest Peet’s Coffee Connoisseur Sampler Gift – if it satisfies this bean snob, it’ll satisfy you, too.

Super Easy Emergency Pie Crust Recipe for Thanksgiving and Beyond

pumpkin pieIf you’re in charge of the pies this year and your crust just totally flopped, have no fear; I’ve got a super easy emergency pie crust recipe that will save your Thanksgiving, your Christmas, and your morale. Would Martha Stewart approve? No. But we’re not gonna tell her, are we?

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. white sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 Tbs. milk

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 Celsius).

2. IN YOUR PIE PAN, mix together the dry ingredients. Then, dump in the oil and milk. Mash it up with a fork until it starts looking like dough. (Don’t add more liquid. It’ll look like it doesn’t work at first, but have no fear – it will.)

3. Once it starts sticking together, you can finish kneading it with your hands until it’s a uniform doughy texture. Push the dough into the pie pan, smoothing it out to the edges. Poke the dough with a fork.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until it’s light brown.

5. When the crust has cooled, fill with your pumpkin pie mixture, fruit filling, etc. Use as directed in your pie recipe.

And that, my friends, is it! This recipe is the sole reason I even make pies. I don’t even bother messing up the usual dough, and while I must admit a properly executed pie crust is a beautiful thing, it is one beautiful thing I cannot create. Besides, my family hasn’t complained once. I don’t think they know how easy it is, so shhh! Our secret.

I hope this easy emergency pie crust recipe saves someone from a Thanksgiving or Christmas disaster; and Happy Holidays!

Pueblo & Company – Bead Loom Jewelry for the Mother Earth Inside You

Mexican Rainbow

Mexican Rainbow

My new Etsy bead loom and silver jewelry shop, Pueblo & Company, is growing fast. Last time I updated you, it was brand new and our items were only available on Square Market. But now we’re almost exclusively Etsy.

In case you haven’t visited the Etsy shop yet, it has about 100 hand beaded items. And very soon (maybe even later today), there will be hand crafted silver jewelry such as chains and bracelets.

The bead loom style, which I’ve been in love with since my grandpa gave me an old bead loom set he magically found in his garage one day, fits my “earthiness” side perfectly. And since I’m now in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I’m surrounded by inspiration for the designs.

Guatemalan Garden

Guatemalan Garden

All the jewelry on the site is designed and hand beaded by me. There’s just something about those tiny seed beads and the mostly Native American inspired patterns that merge seamlessly with my life as a writer and an herbalist. Combined with desert living, I’m pretty sure I’m in heaven.

If you get a chance, I’d love to have you visit Pueblo & Company; or check out my bead loom jewelry (and my awesome new city) on Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook…. oh my.