The California Sandwich

the california sandwich (1)

Besides the perfect weather, striking landscapes, and culture of positivity and innovation, one of the best things about being a Californian is the food. Whenever I travel to another state I am reminded of how spoiled I am to live in this land of  plenty, and how much I depend on it. My husband and I are leaving on a 3 week road trip in a few days to travel the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We are going to drive up the coast of California, through Oregon to Portland, maybe even up into Washington, then through Idaho to Wyoming, visiting Yellowstone National Park, then Utah and down to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, and back through Nevada and home again. Then we will catch a flight to Kauai for another week. One whole month on the road with as many national parks and waterfalls as we can find! We will camp and back pack through the mainland, then do Airbnb rentals in Hawaii. It is going to be an amazing month! I can’t wait to see the beauty our country has to offer.
Having said that, I know that life on the road means lots of camping food like trail mix and canned beans. We are trying to do the whole trip on the cheap. So with a few days left before we depart, I wanted to treat myself to the bounty that Los Angeles and California has to offer, which is when I came up with the California Sandwich.

 

California cuisine is diverse and covers everything from barbecue to fine french fusion, but there are some common themes that have emerged over the last 20 years or so. Being one of the main sources of produce for the whole country, California cuisine is foremost fresh and vegetable-centric. The emphasis on local, seasonal fruits and vegetables harmonizes perfectly with our liberal-leaning, health-conscious demand for organic and sustainable food. We love to take casual foods like burgers, pizza, and sandwiches and turn them into gourmet delicacies that surprise and excite the senses. We love to ‘fancify’ the little details of a dish to make them cool and new. We also love to nail the presentation, we’re vain like that. And, our on-the-go culture is the perfect place for hand-held food to be eaten on the road, on a hike, and generally outside under the sun. This sandwich is my personal interpretation of all those things.
Starting with locally baked La Brea Bakery ciabatta and topped with seasonal California grown veggies, I notched it up with unusually gourmet details like the garlic-basil mayo, added local touches like a splash of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and of course the star of the show is the California Hass avocado. I just so happened to have some California State Golden Poppy toothpicks to top it off and I highly recommend eating this creation poolside and under the sun! I hope you’ll try it and get a taste of the golden state for yourself! Peace out dudes.

 

The California Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced into 2 loafs, each with a top and bottom

2 tbs vegan mayo (I like Hampton Creek’s ‘Just Mayo’, a San Francisco based innovator!)

2 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press

2 big basil leaves, minced (I used some from my own garden)

1 tbs olive oil

2 shallots, finely sliced

a splash of white wine

a dash of salt

2 big leaves of romaine, finely shredded

1 hass avocado, very thinly sliced

1 big tomato, very thinly sliced

a drizzle of balsamic reduction (I got this already made in a squeeze bottle at the grocery store but you can easily make it yourself by heating up some balsamic vinegar over low heat on the stove until it becomes thick and sticky.)

More salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Start by toasting the bread or even better, throw it on a hot outdoor grill for a few minutes until it’s toasty. Set aside.

Combine the mayo, garlic and basil in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over low heat and add the shallots. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the splash of white wine to deglaze the pan and add the salt. Cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring to prevent burning. You want to cook them until nice and golden.

I split all the ingredients in half to make two sandwiches. (I ate both, that’s right!) When ready to assemble, start with the bottom half of the bread and slather with the mayo mixture. Sprinkle on the caramelized onions. Then, add the romaine lettuce. Top the lettuce with the avocado slices, then the tomato slices. Finally, finish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and some final salt and pepper before topping with the other half of bread. You’ll notice we are alternating ‘sticky’ and ‘wet’ layers, so it all holds together better. To see a cool timelapse video of the sandwich assembly, check out my instagram post

And there it is! A taste of the golden state before your very eyes. I hope you like it as much as I do!

For similar recipes, check out my beloved bruschetta or BLT!

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Creamy Carrot Soup

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Upon telling my husband that I was going to make carrot soup, he said, “Oh, I just love carrot soup!” I thought that was a rather odd thing to love so enthusiastically but anytime I can get that guy to eat vegetables, I’m not going to question it. After having made this though, I can see what he was getting at!

My mom and I got carrot soup at a restaurant the other day that tasted like baby food– yuck. It was gloppy and flavorless. I had to make a good carrot soup to remind myself that carrot soup is indeed delicious! You can spice it up in lots of different ways too. But it’s also nice as just a simple soup with some crusty bread on the side. We made it a meal with a big batch of bruschetta. Enjoy!

Creamy Carrot Soup

Makes 6 servings

1 tbs olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1.5 lbs fresh raw carrots, chopped into 1/2″ chunks

1″ piece fresh raw ginger, minced (or 1/4 tsp dried)

1″ piece fresh raw turmeric, minced (or 1/4 tsp dried)

7 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

a dash of paprika

a dash of curry powder

a dash of cayenne

1 tbs vegan butter (butter is optional, I put a lot more in husband’s and he loved it, but it’s still delicious without)

fresh minced chives for garnish

 

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large sauce pan. Add the carrots and onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the ginger and turmeric and cook another minute. Then add the garlic and cook another minute.

Add the stock and remaining spices and stir. Cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are very tender.

Going in batches if necessary, add the soup to a blender with the butter and blend until very smooth. You can add a little more broth if it’s too thick.

My blender keeps the soup hot as it blends but if you need to, add it back to the pan to reheat. Taste to adjust seasoning

Serve with chives sprinkled on top and maybe another dash of salt and pepper!

creamy carrot soup

 

 

Toasted Walnut Banana Bread

banana bread

So, you know how it goes: grocery shopping on a Sunday, all the best intentions in the world… meal planning… fresh fruits and vegetables….dreams of juicing. Then a week and a half goes by and you’ve had takeout three times and, well, some sorely neglected produce is languishing in your fridge and on your counter.  There isn’t much you can do about wilted lettuce and bendy carrots but bananas… bananas have been waiting for this moment all week. In fact,  sometimes I buy bananas knowing full well that what I really want in my heart is BAKED GOODS. Thus is the journey of this lovely fruit from the best of raw fruit intentions to the inevitable destination of cozy, indulgent afternoon cakes.

This banana bread is very moist, I suggest serving each slice individually toasted with a dab of butter and an accompanying maple latte as shown. Remember, the next time you are in the produce aisle, there ain’t nothing wrong with smoothie dreams and banana bread mornings!

Toasted Walnut Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used cashew)

1/2 tsp vinegar

1/2 cup vegan butter (I used a brand called ‘Melt’, it’s coconut oil based)

1 cup brown sugar

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, I just like the paste for the real flecks of vanilla)

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once heated, spread walnuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar, stir and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.

Combine the mashed banana, sugar mixture, and milk mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except walnuts and stir to combine. Don’t over-stir, just make sure the dry ingredients get wet.

Add the dry to the wet and stir to combine, then fold in the walnuts.

Line a 9″ loaf pan with either parchment paper or spray with an oil coating and a dusting of flour.

Pour batter into pan and bake for about 35-45 minutes. Test to see if a toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Let cool 5 minutes in the pan before turning it out. If using parchment as I did, you can lift it out, with that pretty and crusty top.

Don’t forget to toast each slice with some butter and enjoy with a cup off coffee or tea. I mixed 2 shots of espresso-sweetened with maple syrup- with half a cup of steamed cashew milk….heaven.

 

Mushroom Tacos with Blackened Corn, Avocado, and Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Mushroom Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I love this day because I love all things Mexican food, but especially TACOS. They are the perfect food. Hand-held little bundles of joy. Versatile, flavorful, a happy food. Tacos can mean something different to every person. Tacos are life!

Okay I’ll calm down now. So to me, the perfect taco has multiple levels of flavors and textures: savory, sweet, crunchy, soft, fresh, salty, tart, spicy, creamy, dreamy, surprising, nostalgic… damn I’m getting carried away again.

These tacos in particular are going for a uniquely fresh California cuisine flavor. The savory and spicy mushrooms pair well with the sweet pickled cabbage. I hope these brighten up your Cinco de Mayo, or maybe just your next Sunday dinner. Want to create a whole taco fiesta? Check out my other ‘Cinco’ celebration recipes: Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos, Jackfruit Tacos, Perfect GuacamoleMini Chimichangas, and Cowboy Caviar.

Mushroom Tacos with Grilled Corn, Avocado, and Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Serves 4 (8 tacos)

1/4 head purple cabbage, thinly shredded

a 5:1 mixture of vinegar to agave, enough to submerge shredded cabbage

2 ears of corn

3 tbs olive oil

6 oz or about 15 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 large shallots

1/4 tsp each of cumin, chipotle powder, paprika, and black pepper

10 cloves garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

salt to taste

1 avocado, thinly sliced

8 small corn tortillas (the 4″ kind) you can double up if they feel delicate.

cilantro and lime wedges to garnish

 

First, combine the shredded cabbage and vinegar/agave mixture in a jar or bowl and set aside in the fridge, you will have extra left over for salads and sandwiches (so good.)

Then, tear the husks off the corn cobs and boil them in water for about 10 minutes. Once it is done and cooled, I like to hold it over my stovetop flame with tongs, to get some nice char on it. You can also do this with just raw corn instead of boiling it, it’ll be just a little less tender. You can also throw them on a hot barbecue grill until blackened. Lastly, slice it off the cob and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mushrooms and onion, cook stirring about 5 minutes. Next add the spices and cook another minute, then the balsamic, cooking another 2 minutes. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping as you stir with a spatula, then the salt. Taste to adjust seasoning. Turn off the flame.

Lay each tortilla over a burner on your stove set to low, just about 10 seconds per side to heat them up.

Add a scoop of the mushroom mixture, a slice of avocado, a scoop of blackened corn, and a few strips of pickled cabbage to each tortilla. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Red Lentil Stew

mexican red lentil stew

Hello food lovers! I am really proud to share this one with you guys. It’s pretty much the best stew I’ve ever made. It tastes like tortilla soup- hearty and filling, but without the empty calories from the tortillas. The texture of the lentils really mimics that of the tortillas, but let’s be real, I added some tortilla chips on top after taking this picture. 🙂

In addition to being totally delicious, this stew is also very filling, totally healthy, and costs about $1.50 per bowl. You get approximately 30 grams of protein per bowl, tons of fiber, and a big dose of folic acid and magnesium. The perfect blood sugar-stabilizing meal to keep you from late night snacking. You can omit the olive oil and cook the veggies in a little bit of the broth to make it fat free if desired. If you are on a budget or too busy to cook dinner every night, this is the perfect week night meal, and it tastes better every passing day.

Let me know what you think of it!

Mexican Red Lentil Stew

Makes about 6 big servings

2 cups dry red lentils, rinsed

4 cups of water

1 tbs olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 big carrot, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

8 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable broth

2 tbs tomato paste

1 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels

3 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish

sliced avocado for garnish

1 lime cut into wedges

sriracha for garnish (optional)

Combine the lentils and water in a pot, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and let them cook for 20 minutes. Once done, pour off any excess liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeño, carrots, and bell pepper and cook for 8 minutes or so, stirring often. If at any point the mixture gets too dry and sticks to the pan, add a splash of broth. Stir in the spices and cook an additional minute, then the garlic and stir for an additional minute.

Next, add the 3 cups of broth, cooked lentils, and tomato paste into the vegetable mixture and let it cook until the carrots are tender, stirring often for a few more minutes. Then add the cup of corn and stir it in until heated through. At this point I stuck an immersion blender into the pot and gave it a few pulses to thicken things up. If you don’t have an immersion blender, scoop out one cup of the mixture and put it in the blender for 5 sec, then add it back to the stew. This step can also be skipped altogether to save time and clean up.

Finally stir in the chopped cilantro and taste to adjust seasoning.

You could add all the lime juice into the pot of stew, but I think it was nicer to squeeze it over the top and get some layers of flavors to your bowl.

Serve each bowl with some sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and sriracha, if you can take the extra heat!

Enjoy!

 

 

Spicy Basil Mango Dressing

IMG_4271Happy Earth Day! This seemed like a good day to end my 6 month blog hiatus. I had been working very long hours on a TV show that took all of my time and creative energy, and now that the season has ended, I am finding so much joy in coming back to my happy place- the kitchen! Now I can resume experimenting with and sharing all the yummy food with you guys that I can. Today I even planted an herb garden in my kitchen window box, so I am ready to jump back in.

I’ve seen a lot of mango dressings floating around Instagram and could never really imagine if it would be good or not, I always thought it sounded too sweet or odd on a salad. Yet now I can say that this is my new all time favorite dressing. Better than my beloved pesto or curry sauce even. The flavor is HUGE, bringing your salad to life with sweet, spicy, garlicky goodness. Not only is it delicious but this dressing is like a magic health elixir- with all raw ingredients, turmeric, lemon, garlic, the digestive enzymes of the mango- it’s incredibly good for your body! I poured this mango dressing over a big rainbow salad of arugula, diced tomatoes, shredded carrot, diced yellow bell pepper, micro-greens, and avocado with crushed almonds. Amazing!

Spicy Basil Mango Dressing

Makes about 4 servings

1 whole peeled and seeded mango, cut into chunks

4 tbs tahini

juice from 1/2 lemon

1 tb minced jalapeno

6 big basil leaves

1 tb fresh raw ginger

1 tb fresh raw turmeric

1 tb fresh raw garlic (about 2 cloves)

3 tbs of balsamic vinegar

pinch of salt

Throw everything in a blender and process until smooth! You don’t really need to pre-chop anything, just peel and break off knobs of the turmeric and ginger and toss them right in. Keeps in the fridge for about 5 days.

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Carrot Cake with Macadamia Maple Frosting

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Hi friends! Today is my 2 year blogiversary! This has been a very fun year, I have almost 100 recipes now, I did about 20 less than last year, but got 50% more views– booyah! ‘Gianna’s Kitchen’ has almost 30,000 views now, so thank you, oh-generous-Pinterest-pinners and followers.

So, despite the great improvement, I have recently gone from posting about once a week, to almost nothing in two months. This is because I got a new job in the art department of a show called Fab Life. It’s a very Fun And Beautiful new daytime show where we do cooking segments, diy projects, fashion, business, and home improvement. It stars super models Chrissy Teigan and Tyra Banks and it is pretty darn cute! As any Pinterest fanatic like myself will tell you, getting paid to shop and make DIY projects all day is a dream come true. Check it out weekdays at 3pm PST to see just what it is that is keeping me from my precious kitchen.

While making and shopping for props is probably the most fun job I’ve ever had… Man! It is so exhausting. We work 12-17 hour days so when I get home I am physically and emotionally drained. I definitely miss coming up with fun recipes and eating wholesome home cooked meals everyday. Coming home and eating microwaved Gardein chicken nuggets at midnight because you are too tired to make a meal can really wear on one’s soul after a while, haha. The good news is, as demanding as this job is, it really makes me flex my creative muscles, so I’m coming up with lots of fun recipe ideas that I can’t wait to share… eventually!

Normally I don’t care too much for cake, but put some veggies in there and all of a sudden I’m interested, of course! Carrot cake is just so classic and weirdly amazing. It wouldn’t work with most veggies, but somehow, it’s just a perfect dessert– with secret healthy ingredients. This recipe is ultra moist and really brings back childhood memories when you get to play with the fondant like its play dough.

Thank you to all my friends, family, and complete strangers who read these recipes and give me so much love and support!

Carrot Cake with Macadamia Maple Frosting

makes 1 double layer 9″ cake

2 1/4 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup apple sauce

1 cup cashew or almond milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup melted expeller pressed coconut oil

2 tightly packed cups finely grated carrot

frosting:

1.5 cup macadamia nuts, must be raw and soaked in water for an hour or as long as overnight

1 cup cashew nuts, must be raw and soaked in water for an hour or as long as overnight

1/4 cup cashew or almond milk

1/4 cup maple syrup

3 tb coconut oil

2 tsp vanilla

juice of 2 lemons

1/2 tsp salt

store-bought or homemade fondant

orange and green food coloring

optional: crushed walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl (except the sugar), and the wet ingredients in another (add the sugar). After they are stirred and properly combined, put them together in the same bowl and stir until just combined. Fold in the shredded carrot.

grease 2x 9″ round cake pans and pour in the batter, then immediately put into the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.

Meanwhile, combine the soaked nuts and remaining frosting ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender. FYI, the nuts must be raw, not roasted, or the frosting will taste very strange. Don’t make the mistake I did! If you can’t find raw macadamias, just go with all cashews.

Blend until it is completely smooth, this took me about 10 minutes. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Note: if you are a crunchy vegan hippie like me, then carry on. If you are more into ‘traditional food,’ or feeding this to someone who is (like my husband) you might want to go with store-bought vanilla frosting, and just add a bit of lemon juice. This frosting is yummy and delicious, but I could see someone who is expecting cream cheese getting their panties in a bunch.

When the cakes come out, allow them to cook to room temp. While you are waiting, grab some hunks of fondant and roll them into pointy cylinders. Use a knife and tap it all up and down the ‘carrot’ to make it look realistic. The leaves are harder, I pretty much just rolled really skinny cylinders and then used a knife to tease out little frilly leaves.

Using a paint brush, brush the fondant with food coloring.

Set one cake on a plate, smear on frosting, top with second cake, smear on more frosting, then add your carrots. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.

Voila! Easy but not so quick carrot cake. I’m going to eat mine for dinner right now, cuz that’s juat how I roll.

Charlie gets it.

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Golden Gazpacho

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Welp, I meant to do a daily post chronicling my raw cleanse but I got a new job with very long hours and got off track! Oh well, sometimes life gets in the way. I often surround myself with perfectionists but am not one myself. Very often I can’t hep but stop and think how grateful I am to NOT be one. What a waste of time and anguish! I like my imperfections and find that I tend to be a much happier person on average than my perfectionist friends, although that might be because I’m driving them crazy with my ways of doing things, haha.

So I did keep up my cleanse for a total of 3 days, not too shabby I guess. And as a general rule going forward, I like to subscribe to the ‘raw ’til 4pm’ concept. Not that I particularly follow the fruit centered, high carb, low fat principle, but I do like the simple concept of eating 2 raw meals a day.

We had a lovely taco party last night for my family, we made Cuban black beans, guacamole, and all the usual fixings, and I made this Golden Gazpacho as an appetizer. We also set up a huge screen and projector in our backyard and watched movies. We have spent the last month trying to beatify our backyard and turn it into an awesome wonderland. In addition to the 103″ ‘swim-up’ movie theatre,  we turned our once-grass dirt patch into a container vegetable garden, complete with string lights and a fire pit. We planted herbs, corn, watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin, butternut squash, tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, eggplant, onions and lettuces! We also installed a drip system so we use much less water than normal watering methods. I can’t wait till something produces a crop so I can make some fancy homegrown recipes to share with you.

I have never actually had gazpacho before, the idea of cold soup did not interest me, but as I was cooking in the hot kitchen yesterday it started to sound like a pretty good idea. The sweeter the corn you can find, the better.

Golden Gazpacho

Makes 8 servings

3 ears of corn + 1 for garnish

2 gigantic heirloom yellow tomatoes

1 cucumber, peeled

1 serrano pepper, deseeded

1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded

3 tbs coconut sugar or raw brown sugar

1 tbs salt or to taste

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 yellow onion

10 cloves of garlic

black pepper to taste

1/2 tsp paprika

1 avocado, diced for garnish

1 bunch chives, diced for garnish

 

Combine everything but the garnish items in a high speed blender and blend until smooth- this took mine 5-10 minutes, a pretty long time!

Taste and adjust seasoning as you see fit.

Store in a big bowl in the fridge for about an hour so it chills and the flavors mingle.

To serve, ladle into individual bowls and garnish with raw corn kernals, avocado slices, and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

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sorry it’s blurry, but here’s our new outdoor movie theater!

here is our veggie patch, all the boxes built by my hand husband! top left is the before picture, with my brother and husband dutifully getting the dirt patch and boxes ready. top right and bottom are after!

here is our veggie patch, all the boxes built by my handy husband! top left is the before picture, with my brother and husband dutifully getting the dirt patch and boxes ready. top right and bottom are after!

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Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus and a Mediterranean Avocado Wrap

raw hummus

Day 2 of my raw food cleanse and I slept like a baby. In fact, I slept in till noon (which felt fantastic, thank you!) so I skipped breakfast and went straight for lunch. First up I knew I had promised a fresh made hummus recipe yesterday, and then I thought a nice sandwich would be just the thing to go with it. How do you get a sandwich on a high raw diet? I found these amazing raw wraps at Whole Foods, made from flax, apple, and zucchini, they taste like sweet whole wheat tortillas. However if you can’t find something like this, big swiss chard leaves make the perfect wrap too.

The key to raw hummus is switching the chickpeas out for summer squash. This is great for those who don’t easily digest legumes and it also drastically reduces the calorie content. The best part is you really wouldn’t know it isn’t a chickpea-based hummus unless you were told. I love how it has a looser texture too due to the moisture in the squash, making it easier to use as a dip– no broken off chips!

The Mediterranean Avocado Wrap below looks…’too healthy to taste good’…I am aware. But, it really was a superb combo of flavors! The flatbread I used had a lot of sweetness to it, so if you are going with the chard leaves, I recommend adding a diced up date to balance the acidic and savory flavors.

Here is my detox meal plan for day 2:

Breakfast: skipped, but had some lemon water first thing

Lunch: A Mediterranean Avocado Wrap with extra sprouts

Snack: 2 cups red grapes

Dinner: A Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl without the quinoa, and add some pumpkin seeds

After dinner: 2 scoops of sun warrior protein with almond milk, (it’s like chocolate milk) 🙂

For a workout, I’ll just do some upper body weights because my legs are killing me from yesterday’s run. I like to do interval sprints when I run so it’s not just a long monotonous slog, and it leads to very sore muscles!

Ok, back to the food, here is the hummus recipe and sandwich/wrap recipe:

Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus

makes about 1.5 cups

2 summer squash (either yellow crookneck squash or zucchini)

4 cloves of garlic

6 tbs tahini

1/4 cup lemon juice

a big pinch each of coriander, cayenne, and cumin

salt to taste

a dash of Paprika, cold pressed olive oil, and 1 sprig of parsley for garnish

Peel the squash and chop into chunks, removing the stem. Combine everything in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Taste and see if you want to add more spices, I like a lot of cayenne and coriander, but just that initial sprinkle of cumin is enough for me.

Sprinkle the top with paprika, drizzle with the oil, and add some fresh chopped parsley on top.

Now for the wrap!

unwrapped

Mediterranean Avocado Wrap

Serves 1

1 WrawP flatbread or several chard leaves, rinsed

4 tbs Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus (as above)

1/2 avocado

1 handful of lettuce greens

3 slices of portobello mushroom, marinated for at least an hour or overnight in a small amount of balsamic and olive oil

5 green olives, pitted and slivered

5 cherry tomatoes, slivered

a small handful of sprouts, I used alfalfa

Sriracha for drizzling, if desired

Lay your flatbread or chard leaves out. If using chard, remove the tough ribs and lay the leaves slightly overlapping until you have roughly the area of a burrito tortilla.

Starting about an inch in from one side, spread the hummus over 3/4  of the surface.

Lay the rest of the ingredients out in little vertical rows, very close together. Then drizzle with sriracha.

Gently start rolling the bread/leaves in from one side to the other, tucking the ends in as you go like you would a burrito. The hummus acts like glue, so you might want to dap some on at the end to hold it together.

Gently cut it in half with a super sharp knife if desired.

mediterranean avocado wrap

 

 

hummus

Raw Lasagna

rawsagna

A couple times a year I get the urge to do some sort of bodily reset. Whether I’ve been slacking off on workouts or eating too much processed food, a good cleanse helps to get your habits and your palate back on track. Instead of doing something extreme like a 5 day juice cleanse, (which leaves you starving, cranky, and likely to stuff your face when it’s over) I like to do a week or two on a high raw diet. I eliminate everything packaged, cooked, processed, or loaded with sugar, grains, or fat. Instead, I eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and yes, some cold pressed juice too. I do have 1 or 2 liquid meals a day, to give my digestive system a break and I try to drink a ton of water as well (about 75 ounces.) But unlike a juice cleanse, this allows me to ‘detox’, while still having energy to work and exercise. It’s a great boost to the immune system with all those raw vitamins and enzymes. It also helps you really appreciate whole, fresh food again, especially if you’ve been eating a lot of junk!

So for example, here is what I had today:

Breakfast: A tall glass of lemon water, a big green juice with some watermelon slices and grapes on the side.

Lunch: This fantastic ‘Rawsagna’.

Snack: Some cut up vegetables and raw hummus (recipe coming soon!)

Dinner: A big protein shake.

Dessert: A whole fruit popsicle for dessert.

This was all in all about 1200 calories, so I don’t feel deprived or starving, and I know my body is thanking me! I had plenty of energy for a 3 mile run and some chores.

Even if you don’t want to do a ‘high raw’ cleanse for a week, it’s a really good idea to make at least one meal a day from raw foods. This is quite easy to do with a smoothie for breakfast or a big salad for lunch, and I find it especially easy to do in the summertime when turning on the oven sounds like the worst idea ever.

All this week I will be posting raw recipes in case you want to join me in this detox andventure. It seems like it would get really old after a while, but you’d be surprised just how much you can do with wholesome raw food! This Rawsagna has been on my list to make for a couple years now, and it is even better tasting than I thought it would be. I got two thumbs up from the non-raw/non-vegans who tried it too!

It’s easy and surprisingly quick to put together!

Raw Lasagna

Makes 2 large servings.

1 big zucchini, peeled

1 portobello mushroom cap, thinly sliced

2 tbs cold pressed olive oil

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 big beefsteak tomato, thinly sliced

1 bunch basil

for the sauce:

2 ounces of sun dried tomatoes, soaked in water for about 1 hour

1 big beefsteak tomato, diced (or about 6 plum tomatoes)

1 sprig each of thyme, oregano, and parsley

1/2 medjool date

1 green onion, white parts removed, greens roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic

salt and pepper

for the cashew ricotta:

1.5 cups cashews, soaked in water for about 1 hour

1 tb nutritional yeast

4-5 cloves of garlic

2 medjool dates

1 pinch of nutmeg

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

Start by cutting about an inch off of each end of the zucchini, (one end being the tough stem) this way you will get nice rectangular slices. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise. Try to slice as thinly as possible, you want to get at least nine slices out of one big zucchini. Lay the slices on a paper towel to drain as you go, they release a lot of moisture.

Marinate the sliced mushroom with the oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Set the bowl out in a sunny spot so that the mushrooms can ‘super charge’. (They will absorb a large amount of vitamin D this way, just like us. Cool huh?)

Next put all the ingredients for the tomato sauce into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Then do the same for the cashew ricotta mixture: blend until smooth and set aside.

Now comes time for the assembly: Start by laying three zucchini slices on a plate, overlapping just slightly. Take a couple spoonfuls of tomato sauce and spread it over the slices. Add a few slices of tomato and then some basil leaves. Then layer on some sliced mushroom and finish with some big dollops of cashew ricotta, smoothed out over the mushrooms. Add another layer of 3 zucchini slices, in the opposite direction as the first layer. Then repeat the same steps: tomato sauce, tomato slices, basil leaves, mushroom slices, cashew ricotta, and one last layer of zucchini slices. Top those with a little more tomato sauce and ricotta cheese and voila! Lunch is ready.

If you have any of the ricotta and tomato sauce left over, you can combine them to make a delicious pink cream sauce to use for something else. For example, you can spiralize another zucchini and have a delicious angel hair pasta with tomato cream sauce.

This Rawsagna is so filling, I couldn’t even finish a whole piece! I hope you’ll give it a try 🙂

Can’t fathom the idea of a raw lasagna? Try this traditional roasted vegetable lasagna recipe instead.

raw lasagna with mushrooms

raw lasagna