I practice and teach yoga, which is not as weird as it sounds…unless you are as I was before I took a yoga class. Back then I had the idea that yoga was people in a room kind of stretching but mostly burning incense, chanting and smoking the devil’s lettuce. While there might actually be some yoga classes out there where this occurs, for the most part yoga is a brutal, kick-ass workout that puts even the most ‘manly of men’ on the floor begging for a break. It’s particularly true of the yoga I practice and teach, Bikram Yoga, which is yoga practiced in a room heated to a minimum 105 degrees.
The point of this is that practicing and teaching yoga over the last eight years has led me to explore some healthy lifestyle choices I previously would have ignored or dismissed, given I was raised in a family with many doctors. I’ve done quite a shift from West to East in terms of medicine and health. I’ve tried chiropracty (awesome) and acupuncture (effective but for me it was a little intense.) I’ve also explored a variety of approaches to food from various cleanses (I love The Master Cleanse, I also enjoy juice cleanses) to Vegan and Raw foods. I once even ‘went raw’ for about 3 months, which means all I ate was raw food. I really enjoyed it, though to eat raw full time is a much bigger time commitment than one might think. I initially thought it would be easy: no cooking! But to eat quality raw food full time takes quite a bit of planning and preparation. You certainly feel healthy, alive and full of energy eating only raw, though.
I don’t eat raw full time now… clearly. But I still love raw food. For those who are thinking a raw diet sounds weird, here are some examples of raw food: Guacamole. Pico De Gallo. Most green salads. Tapenade. Many cheeses. Sushi. Crudite. Fruit salad. Many smoothies. Pesto (sans the cheese, or with raw cheese). Gazpacho. Bruschetta (no bread, I just eat it with a spoon, terrific.) These are just a few of the regular foods most of us eat that are raw. And wonderful. Guacamole!!!!! oh my. Don’t discount raw.
Today, then, I want to give you two of my favorite raw recipes. Both are easy. The second one takes a little prep but once you’ve done the prep, it is very easy the rest of the week…or as long as the ingredients last, which may not be very long! Both also are insanely good. So good, in fact, that friends and I have termed them ‘crack’ because they are so addicting. While I mostly eat either of these in the morning for breakfast, when I am not, you know, scarfing down eggs, they both can be eaten anytime of the day. As a meal. As a snack. As a pre-egg appetizer! And both work wonderfully as healthy dessert. Give them a try and let me know what you think. And let us know if you have raw foods you enjoy eating already.
RAW FRUIT AND NUT PARFAIT
2 handfuls raw cashews
ice cold water
Raw Agave or Raw Honey
Add cashews to a blender. Cover about 1/2 inch with ice cold water. (The cashew cream you are about to make tastes better to me cold than room temperature.) Add a drizzle of agave or honey, a drizzle of vanilla, then blend a minute or two. Check the consistency. It should be creamy. It should also taste incredibly good… adjust sweetness to your desire.
In a glass or bowl, layer raw nuts and berries, with drizzles of the cashew cream. I sometimes add a sprinkle of granola, which may or may not be raw. It’s a good addition but not necessary at all.
If you want to see the process in a short video, this is where I found the original recipe:
RAW CHOCOLATE BANANA SHAKE
(Hat tip to Dennis and Tee! My fellow yogis and crack addicts.)
This takes a little prep at first, but once you have all the ingredients, it is very easy to make. For a vegan/raw drink, this shake is as good as any high sugar, dairy shake. You can also halve the recipe for a single serving. The recipe is for two.
3 cups frozen diced bananas (see note at bottom)
2 cups almond milk (see below)
1/4 cup Raw Agave or Raw Honey
1 t vanilla extract
2 heaping teaspoons raw or organic cocoa powder or carob powder (this is my favorite brand)
In a blender, puree it all together until smooth or creamy. It’s wonderful!
1 cup raw almonds
4 cups filtered water
1/4 cup Raw Agave or Raw Honey
1 t almond extract
Soak the almonds for 4 hours or overnight in 4 cups filtered water. I just soak them in the blender. The next morning, blend the almonds and water together in a high-speed blender for two minutes. (I turn it on and off a couple of times both to protect the motor and let the bits of almond waft down to the bottom for the next blend.)
Strain through a nut milk bag or layers of cheesecloth. Discard or compost the pulp. Return the milk to the blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend. This almond milk will keep a few days in the fridge. It is great for other uses, not just the shake.
** In a rush, you can add the sweetener and extract in the original blend. You can also do the entire thing without soaking the almonds but I highly recommend at least a couple of hours soak. If you end up liking this, the nut milk bag is a great investment. It makes this very easy and it is also a lot of fun.
**As for the bananas, I buy a couple of bunches, peel them, cut them into about 4 pieces each and freeze them in individual servings to just remove and dump in the blender.