Posts tagged avocado
My Rawgust Experience... and Raw Avo & Tomato 'Toast'

'Rawgust' is over and we are rolling swiftly into September!

I thought I'd take a moment on this sunny Sunday morning to reflect on a few thoughts of my 'raw food' experience. As I mentioned in my previous post I didn't maintain a 100% raw diet, it was more like 85% as my view was to see it as an exploration and open my mind to new recipes and ideas, rather than a restriction which I may have felt had I been super strict.

>>> NOTE: see my previous post for tips and meal inspiration

This decision to go 'high raw' rather than fully raw was partly based on the fact I had a few family commitments and events I knew I would be attending which would have made life difficult. I decided that a 'high raw diet' would allow me to appreciate most of the benefits and enable me to broaden my raw food repertoire without it feeling pressured or frustrated.

Overall I really enjoyed the month, initially I did miss big hot bowls of porridge (yes, I still eat porridge in the summertime!) and I really missed beans and lentils- such a staple in my everyday diet.

That being said, I really threw myself into creating some amazing salads and lots of raw dressings and dips to go with them. For me, a good dressing can turn any salad from average to amazing :-) 

This is definitely something I'll be continuing, as I'd like to aim for at least 50% raw ongoing- basically, i'll be incorporating a smoothie and a big salad every day- pretty easy, right!

I'll post a recipe round up of loads of sauces, dressing and dips from my vegan community in a separate post- hopefully, there'll be lots to inspire you too!

My boyfriend, who took the challenge along with me- who also reminded me that it was his idea in the first place (credit where it's due!!) has, for the time being, decided to maintain a 75-80% raw diet, so we'll still be eating a lot of raw meals together. 

My downfall (if anything) was eating too many Bliss Balls, ha ha. I often get carried away anyway when I make them, but during Rawgust I fell into the trap of having even more excuse to indulge.

Bliss balls... soooo tempting!!

Bliss balls... soooo tempting!!

Many people I know who eat raw, typically follow a high-fruit diet. This is something I have never felt really suits me. When I've experimented with an 801010 (80% carbs, 10% fat 10% protein) style diet in the past I ended up feeling incredibly bloated with the ratio of fruit. I feel I need to incorporate more fats. Maybe that was why one of my favourite meals last month was avocado and tomato on dehydrated flax crackers.

That said, my digestion was, for the most part, really great this last month, even though I have had some tough personal challenges to content with (stress usually impacts my bowels- sorry TMI!) My tummy felt flat and I have lost a little weight. Maybe that's down to the lack of legumes and/or grains... who knows? It will be interesting to see what happens as I add them back.

I'm also not convinced that a fully raw diet is particularly suited to our UK climate during the colder winter months. I know the idea of a nourishing warm meal really soothes me and the abundance root vegetables help ground me. I wouldn't want to forgo soups and stews indefinitely regardless of any nutritional science. 

I know there are ways to create 'warmth' in the body whilst consuming raw foods by using ginger and other warming spices to 'fire up' the body, but nothing compares to a big bowl of soup in my opinion! :-) 

I also query the environmental angle. I like the idea of aiming to eat more seasonally and locally, (although i'll make it clear I'm not perfect at this by any means), so feasting on tropical fruits shipped from far overseas during our cold winter months, doesn't quite sit right with me. I want to enjoy our abundance of winter vegetable roots and brassicas from the ground during this time.

One final point of interest... I was scanning through all my old health and wellness magazines, as part of my declutter ahead of moving house in a couple of weeks and I found various articles on Ayurveda. I am definitely a Vata Dosha and interestingly one of the things it advised 'Vata's' against was to consume raw foods... how interesting!

I have not looked deeply into the reasoning behind this (but now I am curious to know more), but it did remind me that there is never a 'one size fits all approach' when it comes to food, and that we all need to be intuitive eaters when it comes to what we feel our bodies need.  

As an example, I would never directly advise others to eat animal products BUT I do appreciate that we each need to find out own way and tune into what really works for us away from societies expectation and the pressure from the media and those around us.

Most of all, I believe we need to become more curious, more self-aware, more confident and relaxed around food.

Short terms 'Detoxes' and Challenges' (such as Rawgust) create the perfect opportunity for shaking things up, trying new things, re-setting our bodies systems, checking in with any symptoms that might be showing up and reflecting on what we really need deep down.

To break the pattern of the autopilot mode that so many of us function on day to day when it comes to food and lifestyle.

So on that note, I am going to leave you with the recipe for my favourite avocado and tomato salad on raw flax crackers.... ridiculously simple, and definitely one I'll keep on weekly repeat.

raw avo tomato toast 1a.jpg

I'd love to continue this conversation...

Have you tried a raw diet? Maybe you loosely follow a raw-till-4 approach? Or something else... I'd love to hear your own thoughts, experiences and results. 


Recipe: Raw Avo & Tomato 'Toast'

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado

  • A large handful of cherry tomatoes

  • Dehydrated flax crackers (quantity to suit appetite!)

  • Fresh basil

  • Salt and pepper

  • Sprinkle of nutritional yeast (optional)

  • Salad leaves (optional)

Flax Cracker Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight

  • 1 cup walnuts, soaked overnight

  • 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped

  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped

  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (including the oil)

  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt

  • 1-2 tsp mixed dried herbs (or other herbs/spices to suit)

  • a few tbs water to create the right consistency (add gradually)

Method for the flax crackers:

Blitz all ingredients together in a food processor, until thick and sticky, adding a little water add needed (I used approx 1/3 of a cup)

Spread the mix to a 0.5 cm thickness over teflex dehydrator sheets. 

Dehydrate at 45C for approx 10 hours, turn over and place onto mesh sheets and return to the dehydrator for another 4 hours. 

Cut into any desired slices. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. 

Method for the avo 'toast':

There is no real method.... just assemble everything on top of the crackers!

You can slice your flax bread/crackers into larger 'bread style' squares but because I make mine in a large batch I had pre-cut them into small squares for versatility. Either is fine.

NOTE: I originally made a version of this style of raw bread/cracker HERE. At that time I also tried a second batch and spread it out on a lined baking sheet at 'baked' it for approximately two hours on my lowest oven temperature (approx. 80ºC). I covered it loosely with foil after 1 hour to ensure the most even cook. It worked well so it's an option to try if you don't have access to a dehydrator.

raw avo tomato toast 2a.jpg
raw avo tomato toast 4a.jpg
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Chocolate Avocado Pudding (with medicinal mushrooms!)

I have been adding medicinal mushroom powder to everything recently- well mainly anything chocolatey as the colour and flavours are perfect masked!

I bought a selection of organic medicinal mushroom powders from here and mixed them together into one blend tub which I keep in the fridge. I like to have a teaspoon a day in a chocolatey dessert or as hot drink with some cocoa and/or vanilla bean.

medicinal mushroom powder ready to mix into chocolatey porridge

medicinal mushroom powder ready to mix into chocolatey porridge

There are many reported benefits of medicinal mushrooms... I was first intrigued by the articles I read up on how mushrooms could help with focus (something I really struggle with as my creative brain fires off on all tangents!) I had also been aware of them at many health food shows but hadn't really explored them at that point. 

There are estimated to be over 5 million different species of mushrooms, yet only 270 are currently classified as ‘medicinal’ with their potent anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and immune-enhancing qualities. Some of the most popular are reishi, chaga and cordyceps- which are the three types I have.

This pudding recipe is a spin on a classic avocado chocolate pudding, and in putting this post together I realised I didn't actually have any other form of avocado pudding on this blog - every vegan food blogger has an avocado pudding!! ;-) (Now I do too!)

This recipe serves one (or two smaller servings), but I have also tried it with great success by multiplying and making a huge batch of pudding mix then freezing in muffin cups- perfect pudding portions at the ready!

You could mix other mild favoured superfood powders in if your preferred- such as maca or baobab or leave them out all together.

Bonus- this recipe only takes two minutes to blend up!

Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Pudding With Medicinal Mushrooms

Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Pudding with medicinal mushrooms

Serves 1-2

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe avocado

  • 1/2 cup medjool dates (approx 3-4)

  • 3 tbs raw cacao (or cocoa powder)

  • 1 heaped tsp cashew or macadamia butter*

  • 1/2 cup water*

  • 1/2 - 1 tsp medicinal mushroom powder (optional)

  • Tiny pinch of sea salt

  • Approx. 1 tsp maple syrup - only if needed

* You could also substitute the nut butter and water with 1/2 cup coconut milk.

Method:

Blitz all together in a small food processor/blender until super smooth. Taste and add a tiny drop of maple syrup if extra sweetness is desired. Spoon into a serving bowl and allow to chill a little to set if desired. 

I served mine with crushed frozen raspberry pieces and desiccated coconut. You could also add an extra layer of fruit at the bottom of the serving bowl.

Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Pudding With Medicinal Mushrooms

 

 

 

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Baked Falafel Pie... an easy meal to feed a crowd!

Wow... you're getting two recipes within a week.... it's like the days when I first started my blog when I often used to get three recipes up here per week! That's when I had a full time job as an architect too.... crazy days, how did I find time to do it all!

Recipe: Baked Falafel Pie

These days I develop so many recipes for destinations beyond this blog itself... such as for Real Food Source, my own ebooks and other publications that sometimes this space loses the battle of priorities. I am looking to charge all that again- with one new recipe per week from the New Year onwards- an early resolution of sorts?

Anyway, back to this recipe!

This came about a couple of week ago as I was developing new recipes for my Lanzarote retreat.... I wanted something that was delicious, filling and easy to cook for 8-10 people (though the recipe below is halved to feed about four). This is a total winner and a lovely spin on the more traditional falafel balls.

It's not my brainchild- there are loads of similar creations across blog land- I got the idea from a general Pinterest search looking for meal image ideas rather than any one recipe in particular. I imagine you could tweak this to add in other herbs or spices to suit. You could also add a chunky salsa, guacamole or other topping instead of hummus if you preferred.

I realised this recipe would be also very similar to my classic nut roast (still a go-to favourite and great to have on standby in the freezer) and so I used that as the base and made a few ingredient tweaks.

Let me know what you think.... I'll let you know how it goes down with the guests on my retreat ;-)

Recipe: Baked Falafel Pie

Recipe: Baked Falafel Pie

Serves 3 portions with salad or 4-5 if serving as part of a larger dinner

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup chopped nuts of choice

  • 2 tbs olive oil

  • One onion diced

  • One large garlic clove minced

  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes (optional for extra depth of flavour)

  • 1 large carrot grated

  • 1 medium courgette grated

  • 1 cup chickpeas

  • 1 cup oats (or cooked rice or quinoa or dry wholemeal breadcrumbs- GF if needed)

  • 2 heaped tbs flax (or tapioca or potato flour)

  • ¼ cup fresh coriander

  • 1 tbs ground cumin

  • 2 tbs soy sauce (GF if needed)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Topping:

  • 1 tub hummus (or homemade if possible)

  • 2 sliced avocados

  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180C. coarsely grind the nuts and set aside. Finely chop and sauté vegetables in olive oil for 5 mins until soft. Mix all remaining ingredients in large bowl and add vegetables and nuts to it.

Mix and mash together well. Add more oats (or another dry ingredient) if mixture is too wet or a little water or stick if too dry.

Press mixture firmly into a greased and lined medium baking dish (it should be around a generous inch thick). Bake for approx. 45 mins until golden on top, the inside will still be moist. Add hummus and avocado slices to serve with salad or cooked greens.

Recipe: Baked Falafel Pie
Recipe: Baked Falafel Pie
Recipe: Baked Falafel Pie
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Quick hemp and avocado 'coodles'

Want a rich and filling lunchtime snack ready in five minutes? This is perfect for Spring, requires no cooking and is a great base for any toppings you might have to hand.

I had fun with my spiraliser... feel like its been a while! Now we are getting closer to the warmer weather I think it will be making a more regular appearance again.

I've played around with avocado-based sauces and dips on numerous occasions but here I blended it with shelled hemp seed and a generous squeeze of lime for a tasty twist and an extra protein boost. Olives and tomatoes seemed the obvious topping to me but you could use what ever you fancy. Why not try some roasted veggies for a 'hot and cold' flavour combo. You could also use ground almonds instead of hemp if you prefer- usually tasty!

This would also make a great picnic dish for a lunchtime snack at the office or a tapas dish to take to a party.

This recipe was one of my keto experiments. I'm still playing around with the keto style of eating but I am trying to reintroduce a few beans and pulses back into my diet- patly because I really missed them (more than sweet things!) but also because they are such a useful protein source. Some days I am likely to be out of keto because of this, I am simply finding a balance that works well for me.

Avocado is such a versatile ingredient for all types of diet, it's mild and creamy and full of healthy fats. What's your favourite way too use avocado?

p.s I don't think I'll ever get bored of taking photos of tomatoes... perfectly photogenic :-)

Recipe: Hemp and avocado 'coodles'

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 courgette
  • 1 small avocado
  • 3 tbs ground almonds/shelled hemp
  • 3 mint leaves- finely chopped (or other herb- such as parsley or basil)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2tsp oilve oil
  • Toppings: chopped olives and sliced cherry tomatoes plus a little salt and pepper

Method:

Spiralise the courgette and set aside. Blend the avocado with the almond/hemp seeds, lime juice, chopped mint leaves and olive oil and mix through the courgette noodles.

Serve into a bowl and top with cherry tomato halves and olives with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

 

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Matcha avocado crackers!

I have been testing out teapigs matcha tea for the last week or so.... I was selected to take part in their two week matcha challenge during May, with a review of the product at the end of my two weeks. 

This opportunity was perfect timing for me since I'd become really intrigued by matcha (after hearing a lot about it on Instagram and Kathy's blog). I don't consume coffee- never have liked the taste! But I still like foods that create an energy boost if ever I need one. Maca has been one of my favourite additions to smoothies and snacks for this reason and I add it to lots of things... maybe matcha will gain an equal ranking!

I'll talk more about how i've experimented with the matcha tea in my full review (you can also see more snippets on my Instagram) but for now a super simple recipe for you.

I made these avocado crackers as a pre-workout lunch/snack and then proceeded to smash my PB's on a number of exercises with my trainer... so was the matcha to credit for this? who know's!

Recipe: Matcha avocado crackers

  • 1 small avocado
  • 1/2 tsp serving of matcha powder
  • 1 tbs squeeze lemin juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crackers to spread the avocado mix on*

*For the crackers I used homemade dehydrated quinoa crackers but you could also use rice cakes or oat cakes.

Method:

Mash/mix everything together well and spread on top of the crackers. Eat immediately!

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