Don’t these oranges look delicious? (Image source: http://www.growcitrus.com)

Yes, it’s the old knock-knock joke that could go on and on until you decide to say ‘orange’! One of my favorites to tell, but not to listen to. ;)

It’s been a couple years since I bought oranges, much less ate them. When I started following the Blood Type Diet, there were some fruits that I was supposed to avoid: mango, cantaloupe, papaya, tomatoes, and oranges, for example. I did well on that diet, and some foods I could easily do without…like oranges.

But it wasn’t until last week when I made a batch of  raw Orange Cranberry Oatmeal scones* that I felt like I had to incorporate this fruit into my diet once again. It wasn’t the flavor of these scones that did it (which were awesome, btw) but the fragrant, vibrant, juicyness of the fruit when you slice it, and especially when you zest it. The navel oranges I got were the size of grapefruits, and were incredibly sweet and juicy. Each of these oranges would yield 8 ounces of fresh-squeezed juice, plus some nice bits of pulp that I like to chew on.

Long after eating the scones, the fresh orange taste was still stuck in my head and I needed more of an orange fix. I decided to modify my wheat-free carrot-apple-ginger cake into an orange date cake. This being the first orange cake I made, I think it was a success! After ten minutes in the oven, the kitchen already smelled phenomenal. The taste and aroma from the crazy amount of orange zest made this an incredibly fragrant cake (if our neighbors lived any closer, their noses would be pressing up against my windows!) It’s a moist cake, heavier than a regular wheat flour cake, and I felt that the coconut oil had a more neutral taste than vegetable oil. I used only 1 cup of sugar compared to 2 cups normally called for in a cake recipe, but you won’t miss it. The dates, orange juice and apples give it more than enough sweetness.

*from Judita Wignall’s Going Raw cookbook

This not-too sweet orange date cake is great for breakfast, at home or on the go.

Orange Date Cake
It’s important that you use fresh orange zest and fresh orange juice! 

7 medjool dates, pitted, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
6 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice, with pulp
zest from 2 extra-large navel oranges (about 1/4 cup)
2 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups shredded carrots
3/4 cup peeled, cored, finely chopped apple
1/4 cup orange zest (from 2 jumbo navel oranges)
4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
additional zest for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Soak the dates in orange juice for 15-2o minutes (you can also soak it overnight in the fridge)

In a large mixing bowl (I use my standing mixer bowl,) combine spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & brown sugar. Stir in shredded carrots and orange zest, breaking apart clumps with your fingers.

Make a well in the center of your flour mix. Add eggs and coconut oil, beating well then slowly incorporating flour. Stir in date and orange juice.

Use the following baking times, or bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean

bundt pan: 33-35 minutes
9″ cake pan: 33-35 minutes
paper-lined muffin tins: 18 minutes
mini bundt cake pan (cake pictured below): 25 minutes

Fresh oranges make all the difference.

“say it with flowers”

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers, and I only really got to see them in real life a couple of years ago when I picked up my beautiful wedding bouquet. Pink-hued roses, tulips and peonies made up this fragrant cluster which felt to me like five pounds worth of flowers! Since moving into our new home, we’ve been surprised with all kinds of flowers blooming around the property, including peonies.

Flowers aren’t the only things that have been thriving on our property (thank goodness!) My lettuce plants have successfully avoided the hungry rabbits and so far I harvested 5 heads. It was time to fill in the bald spots with some new plants, so I added some purple cabbage in between the kale (far left,) reddish-colored lettuce and a cucumber vine in the upper row, and planted a Roma tomato right next to the basket hanger (base of that skinny post in the bottom left corner):

Just the upper section with new plants was watered, we had lots of rain this week.

another 100 days and I’ll be eating home-grown purple cabbage!

Weeding and planting the new veggies made me kind of hungry, so I decided to make an Ultimate Salad for lunch! Although the only ingredient that came from my garden is the two types of lettuce, you gotta admit this salad definitely looks garden fresh! If all goes well, in a few months I should have another four ingredients from the garden: strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber and cabbage:

The ultimate salad with 14 fabulous ingredients: lettuce, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower, apples, grapes, strawberries, dates, tomatoes, avocado, sprouted  sunflower seeds and goat cheese.

My husband likes to have some meat with his meals, so I made him a protein-packed tuna fish-stuffed tomato with a cucumber rosette:

A simple and beautiful gluten-free alternative to a plain ol’ tuna fish sandwich

Earlier this week I received more goodies from my family. My mom made a beautiful drawstring bag from some very special fabric (I will post more on this on Monday!) and my Uncle Paul got me this incredible gourmet bag of peaberry Kona coffee (update 6/17: I initially thought my dad got the coffee, but after reading the post he told me it was Uncle Paul who picked this up for me. Thank you Uncle Paul!) I’ve had 100% Kona coffee before, and not all coffees are the same (Sugai coffee farms also has good quality coffee beans) but this is the first time I’ve ever tried any kind of peaberry coffee:

Hualalai (pronounced “who-ah-lah-lie”) and Mauna Loa are the two volcanoes where Kona farmers grow their world-famous coffee

Peaberry describes the shape of an unfertilized seed in the coffee fruit. Instead of the seed forming two halves that make a whole (think of peanuts, cashews and pistachios that can be split equally down the middle) the fruit has one “pea shaped” seed.

Since the seed shapes are so different, coffee growers sort the peaberries out so as not to have uneven roasting in their batches. Because of this extra labor as well as the belief that a peaberry yields a more evenly roasted bean (thus a more delicious flavor,) peaberry coffee is more costly and often more valued than the other 95 percent of the harvest.

I brewed a cup of Kona peaberry and thought it was a very good coffee. It was flavorful, mild and smooth, and I didn’t need to add any sweetener! It’s such a nice gift from my parents uncle I’ll have to save the rest for Sunday brunches! Have a nice weekend, everybody, and eat (and drink) well!

I started my first WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday, sponsored by Jenn at Peas and Crayons) last week mentioning I wanted to avoid wheat for a week. I find it better if I do, and if I eat more raw foods in place of cooked foods, I feel an increase in energy, my alertness and overall well-being. I still enjoy having foods that are cooked and sometimes have turkey sandwiches for lunch or eggs for breakfast, but I feel a lot better if I start the day off with something raw (and delicious!)

I get a lot of helpful tips and raw meal ideas from Gabby at The Veggie Nook. She posted this awesome Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Green Smoothie recipe, and talk about delicious! All that creamy, cozy goodness with no added sugar and high in vitamins. I made a few modifications to suit my own tastes, and think it’ll be a new breakfast favorite:

Gabby@VeggieNook’s “Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Smoothie,” arguably the best green oatmeal ever!

This breakfast smoothie was so nice I ate it twice…but the second time around I made sure I had a big glass of water, it’s too thick to have on its own. I could only eat half of it so left the rest in the fridge for later.

A late lunch was a not-so-raw (but still nutritious) veggie-chicken soup with swiss chard, beans, pearl barley, red lentils, carrots, leek, and seasoned with a bit of Spike and a Ras en Hanout seasoning from a delicious Moroccan Chicken Tagine recipe at REMCooks (thanks, Richard!):

Veggie soup is one of my favorites to make, you can throw all kinds of good stuff in it!

Since lunch was late, dinner was even later. I made one of my and my husband’s favorites, Chicken Tikka. To be honest, the only other time I’ve tried Chicken Tikka was at Himalayan Kitchen in Kaimuki on Oahu. They have tasty food, and I do love their fish curry, but this homemade version is better by a long shot:

(L-R): Chicken Tikka, Biriyani. Missing: lentils. :(

The recipe below is modified slightly from the cookbook, Eat, Taste, Heal and serves 2. I must have read this book at least five or six times, cover to cover. Not only does it have delicious, easy-to-follow recipes and amazing photography, but a wonderful introduction to Ayurveda that gives you a good basis for understanding the importance of food as medicine, eating with the seasons, and learning more about overall well-being. (I am still learning about Ayurvedic cooking, so will probably read this book another five or six times!)

Chicken Tikka – serves 2
Allow a few hours to marinate; best if you can prep the night before. There will be more than enough marinade, and you could probably add another chicken breast or sop up all that extra sauce with some fresh baked naan. 

2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
3/4 cups Greek style nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons of Chef Johnny’s Korma Powder (recipe in cookbook) or Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine yogurt through mint leaves, mixing thoroughly. Add in cut up chicken breasts, stir to coat well. Marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken with yogurt sauce  in a 8″x8″ square pan and cover with foil. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until top starts to brown. Serve with rice or naan.

Have a super Wednesday, everybody, and eat well!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! This being my first What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) post sponsored by Peas and Crayons, I wanted to kick it off to a good start, especially because I’ve been going off my healthy eating path and WIAW is a good incentive to get back on track. I’ve been eating  less healthy greens and eating more snacky stuff this past week and I noticed a HUGE dip in my energy level in the afternoons. Normally I’d see my husband yawning in the afternoon, but this time it was ME who felt tired, lazy and just wanted to drink coffee to help get me through. Although I still made healthy dinners and lunches, I ate less of the good and more of the bad.

I notice how much better I feel when I eat primarily veggies, even better with raw veggies (the Blood Type Diet says a diet focusing on vegetables are beneficial for A-types like me.) I try to do at least 80 percent veggies/legumes/fruits when I prepare my meals, which isn’t that difficult, but I’d like to increase the raw veggie consumption, as well.

To start off, I had a Chocolate Avocado Smoothie  for breakfast. The fruits and veggies are raw, the “seasonings” are not, but it’s a heck of a lot better than a toaster pastry!

Don't let the chocolatey goodness fool you, this shake contains vegetables!

For lunch I ate a ground-up nut mixture that contained carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and seasoning. I’m avoiding wheat products this week, so I wrapped it in lettuce leaves and had it with Gouda cheese:

My afternoon snack were these incredibly indulgent and almost raw Fudgy Espresso Bites (see delicious recipe below):

Instant espresso enhances the dark chocolate flavor of these fudgy cocoa bites.

For dinner I made veggie chicken soup, which is great when you’re trying to clear the fridge to make room for more fresh veggies! I seasoned this batch with Spike:

Veggies, pearl barley and chunks of chicken make this a hearty and flavorful soup.

Dessert was an almost raw Key Lime Avocado Pie:

Tart, light and refreshing!

And now here’s the Fudgy Cocoa Bites recipe, inspired by The Rawtarian’s incredibly delicious Raw Chocolate Cake recipe:

Fudgy Cocoa Bites

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not sure if this qualifies as raw since the alcohol is distilled?)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup agave sweetener (for Ginger Cocoa Bites, please see instructions below and make syrup first.)

Instructions:

After soaking all the seeds and nuts, drain thoroughly. Add to food processor and process until finely ground. Add dates,  cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Process until mixed thoroughly and date pieces are chopped fine. Slowly drizzle in agave (or open the top and pour agave in, this way there’s less syrup stuck to the bottom) and process until mixture forms a ball.

Form dough into teaspoon-sized truffle bites, press into mini muffin tins or candy molds. Dust with extra cocoa powder if desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up then remove carefully. (I’m not sure what the longest is you should store them for, but I’ve had mine in the fridge for a couple weeks and have been nibbling on them daily.)

Ginger Cocoa Bites: (I got the ginger syrup recipe from The Veggie Nook’s Lime Cornmeal Pancake recipe, but instead of maple syrup I used agave…and added a LOT of ginger! This is so delicious I keep a stash of this handy. Thank you, Gabby!) Ginger syrup -  In a small pan on the stovetop, heat the 1/4 cup agave with 1 tablespoon thinly sliced and chopped ginger. Simmer on LOW HEAT for 3 minutes to reduce the spiciness of the fresh ginger. Turn off heat and cool the syrup while you combine the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle agave syrup and ginger pieces into mixture, process until mixture forms a ball and form into truffles or press into molds.

Espresso Cocoa Bites (my favorite!): add in 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso granules or 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules and 1/4 teaspoon stevia with cocoa powder. Form into desired shapes, sprinkle with just a pinch of espresso or finely ground coffee granules.

Peanut Butter Cocoa Bites: add 2 tablespoons smooth or creamy “no-sugar” peanut butter before adding agave.

Gluten free, dairy free bite-sized pieces of rich chocolate flavor with an incredible fudgy texture.

Enjoy your Wednesday, and eat well!

Because of the sauce ingredients this dish is not 100% raw...but oh, so close!

Just when I thought spring has sprung, the weather started getting chilly again. It rained last night and drizzled a bit today, and the creek next to our house was flowing along nicely. The snow missed us, but it looks like it’ll be pretty cold and rainy for the rest of the week. I started making some cozy comfort foods over the weekend but now it’s time to search for more recipe ideas that’s not only filling and warming, but healthy, as well.

I’ve been wanting to try some zucchini “noodles” for some time. This is nothing more than very thin-sliced zucchini that is eaten raw and in place of regular noodles, but it’s higher in vitamins and minerals, easy to prepare and there’s no cooking involved! I wanted a creamy sauce to go with it, so I searched online for a dairy-free alfredo sauce, but when I was slicing the zucchini, for some reason I just thought, “I want satay sauce!”

I love peanut butter and peanut butter-based foods, sweet or savory, they’re all delicious to me. Satay is Thai-style grilled meat skewered and cooked over hot coals. It is accompanied with a peanut dipping sauce made with peanut butter and can include a combination of coconut milk, soy sauce, or fish sauce. This peanut sauce recipe is based off the one in The Best International Recipe Cooking Light cookbook. I still had it nearby when I made their moussaka the other night, so I flipped it open and found just what I needed.

Here are the ingredients for the sauce:

L-R: Coconut milk, raw sunflower seeds, lime, patis or nampla (fish sauce,) garlic, Sriracha, peanut butter, sugar.

This Native Forest brand of coconut milk is really good. Chaokoh used to be my regular brand, then I tried this  (on sale) and noticed how much fresher the cream tastes. The Asian markets will have the coconut milk, fish sauce and Sriracha, a popular Thai hot chili sauce that is thick like ketchup but hot like Tabasco (very different flavor, though.) If your market carries ethnic foods, you’ll probably find those ingredients there.

To make the zucchini noodles you can use a vegetable spiral slicer. If you’re like me and don’t have one, you can achieve similar results with a sharp vegetable peeler and a good knife. First, remove the skin from the zucchini. Use the vegetable peeler to peel of wide slices of zucchini, rotating after every two “peels.” The zucchini was slippery, so be careful and place it on the cutting board, holding it with one hand as you cut off slices with the other.

Slice them thin like noodles then place in a bowl. I was worried they'd get brown (like apples) but they stay nice and creamy white.

Rotate and slice until you reach the seeds. Stack two or three zucchini slices and carefully slice them into thinner noodle-like strands.

I wanted something satisfying but not heavy, and this really hit the spot! And it didn’t feel like I was eating a regular salad at all. The zucchini noodles were more filling than I expected, and the savory peanut sauce was rich and velvety. I served this at room temperature and it was just right for what I wanted: a healthy, creamy, satisfying dinner with a good dose of raw veggies. More importantly, my husband also enjoyed his super-size helping of fresh veggies! There’s enough sauce for four servings, so feel free to double the salad mix, or save the leftovers for the next day. Just be sure not to store the salad and satay sauce together, it will make the veggies soggy.

Zucchini Noodle Salad with Peanut Satay Sauce

Salad:

1 zucchini, cut with a vegetable spiral slicer or sliced into thin “noodles”
1 carrot, julienned (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup chopped celery

 Toss all ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

Peanut sauce:

3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked for 2 hours, drained
1/2 cup no-sugar/no salt peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
juice of 1/2 lime, about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon sugar (use 1/2 teaspoon if using peanut butter with sugar)

Blend all the ingredients  until smooth, sauce will be thick. Add more Sriracha and sugar to taste.

Scoop 1 cup of sauce into zucchini salad mixture, toss well to coat. Garnish with cilantro, serves two.

Drizzle Sriracha on the plate if you need some extra heat.

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