Healthy Crack

12 May

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.




2 handfuls raw cashews

ice cold water

Raw Agave or Raw Honey


Fresh berries

Raw nuts

Granola (optional)


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:

Parfait video


(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.

18 Responses to “Healthy Crack”

  1. SJ May 12, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    I’ve been practising yoga for about three and a half years. I find it the perfect way to empty my head of all the petty junk I don’t need while exercising my body (which to be brutally honest needs it!!). I really like the look of these recipes… I shall have to get the ingredients on Monday. Yummy!!

    • onfoodandfilm May 12, 2012 at 11:37 am #

      I didn’t know you practiced, very cool!

      • SJ May 12, 2012 at 11:43 am #

        Hatha Yoga… There is a Bikram Class near me (Guildford) and I plan to go there (it’s closer than my current class and easier to get to) when I come back from Kentucky. I am a lot more flexible now than I was when I started. Planning on coming to some of your classes when I get to LA!

        • onfoodandfilm May 12, 2012 at 11:49 am #

          Would be so incredible to have you in class! I teach a double tomorrow 🙂

          • SJ May 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

            Awesome… 😀

  2. Christian Kline (@ckline) May 12, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    Yes, those parfaits are good, Thanks for making one for me the other day.

    • onfoodandfilm May 12, 2012 at 11:38 am #

      Looks like I guilted you into reading this! Ha. Thanks for checking it out, breakfast was great. Again, soon.

  3. mycie May 12, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    How timely, I just got back from yoga and saw this post! I too love, love, love me some yoga. I started doing it to work out the kinks from sitting at a desk all day which it does beautifully. My practice is kinda low key as I take it at my gym, but even so, my body is just so much stronger than before. Sometimes when I see myself in the mirror in the middle of a pose, I think who is that woman?

    That parfait looks delicious. Cashew cream, yum!

    • onfoodandfilm May 14, 2012 at 5:08 am #

      Being forced to look in the mirror in yoga became pretty edifying for me as well. Very cool! And yes, the cashew crew is REALLY good 🙂

  4. georgeous May 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Thanks, I’ll be trying the raw fruit and nut parfait as pre-yoga breakfast this week! 🙂

    • onfoodandfilm May 14, 2012 at 5:06 am #

      Let me know what you think … And thanks for reading!

  5. Nan May 12, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Hey Tom, The banana shake sounds amazing. Instead of making the Almond Milk from scratch, can you buy it at Trader Joes or Whole Foods? Is there a big loss in the organic, raw content?

    • onfoodandfilm May 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

      Nan, yes I would say there is a big loss. 1st, those products are pasteurized so they lose nutrients. But they also have sugar added and usually not good sugar, such as the raw agave and honey. Even the best have additives.

  6. Joel Cheek May 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    That’s funny, Tom. I drink a ton of Almond Milk (store bought, unsweetened) but have been wondering how much trouble it would be to make my own. I’ll have to give it a try. I’ve been making some green juice lately with Chard and using a cheesecloth to ring it out. Works quite well. The cashew cream sounds incredible too. Thanks yet again for great recipes!

    • onfoodandfilm May 18, 2012 at 8:31 am #

      Let me know what you think! Would love any juice recipes you have to offer as well!

      • Vic January 15, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

        Hi Tom,

        Aside from creating nut milks, I’ve found that these “nut milk bags” can also be used to strain smoothies and turn them into juice (without the fiber). One of my favorite smoothie turned juice involves spinach, flax and bananas.


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