Over the past many months I’ve received a variety of samples from some wonderful companies. The brilliant thing about these items is that they can be used to make a fast raw vegan snack or they are already a ready-to-eat raw vegan snack. Gotta love those! Sure, for some of these, I could make my own homemade versions, and I often do, but it’s nice to have these available online (and in some health food stores) for those times that I run out, I’m traveling, or I just plain want to be lazy and pay someone else to do it.
I’ve said many times… one of the keys to staying raw vegan with ease is having things that you can turn to quickly for snacking and eating. The following items are great for that! Some are perfect for snacks, travel, keeping in your desk drawer at work, making simple recipes, or having on hand when you’re stuck in line at the DMV. ;)
What I find especially exciting is that for the past year or so I’ve noticed there are many companies who are making amazing raw vegan products. It seems like every time I go to Whole Foods, there is something new. Gone are the days of limited choice. Today, we not only have a plethora of options, but these companies are making some butt-kicking products!
Artisana Nut Butters and Spreads
I love having nut butters in my refrigerator, so when Artisana sent me some of their products to sample, I was elated. For starters, I love enjoying nut butters right off the spoon – thick, rich, and satisfying. Artisana’s products fit that bill perfectly. They’re creamy and fresh – taste just like nuts (or seeds) should taste as if I were eating a handful of them. Sometimes a spoonful of nut butter is just what I need to hold me over until dinner (or until my next snack – lol).
But, that’s not all. I use these nut butters to make 1-minute raw vegan nut milks (blend a tablespoon of nut butter with a cup of water). I also use them to add a creamy element to dressings (especially the cashew butter – you’re going to love one of the new recipes I came up with using their Raw Cashew Butter). The beauty of raw nut butters is you don’t need to soak nuts for certain recipes like raw vegan milks, dressings, certain desserts, etc. You just scoop it out of the jar and add to your recipe. Easy peasy! For example, I used their raw tahini in this video and I used their Cacao Bliss in the smoothie written about here. I also used their almond butter, tahini, cashew butter, and coconut oil for some raw chocolate truffle recipes.
This is a new company for me. Kaia Foods sent me a number of their products to sample and I’m so happy they did. The first thing I tore into was the bag of sprouted sunflower seeds (garlic and salt). Yummm…. I could smell the garlic upon opening the bag. Later that day, I made a batch of cooked organic quinoa and tossed some of these on top. I was really impressed with how much flavor they added to the dish. As I write this, we have them in a little cup on our counter alongside dishes of goji berries and raisins for awesome power snacking!
They also sent other flavors: Sweet Curry was AWESOME! If you’re a curry fan, these will not disappoint. Cocoa Mole was EXCELLENT (with a little cayenne kick that comes into play)! Teriyaki was SUPERB and I enjoyed these while I watched American Idol last week! The flavors of their seeds are exactly as described by their titles. You know what you’re getting when you bite into it. Kaia Foods makes the best flavored sprouted seeds. I like that I can eat them by themselves for a truly satisfying snack or I can add them to plain jane recipes, which will totally kick them up many notches in excitement. I’m officially a loyal fan! Great job, Kaia Foods!
Next, I tried their Spiced Apple Fruit Leather - wow – that was a super treat. Each bite the flavor was like, POW POW! The texture is as you’d expect with a fruit leather… chewy, a bit tough, and takes a bit of time to get through the whole thing. I LOVED it, and I plan on stocking up on these. I also loved the Vanilla Pear.
They have a variety of raw granolas from which to choose as well. Right now, I’m munching on a bowl of the Cocoa Bliss and it’s really good (I made 1-Minute Almond Milk by blending 1 tablespoon of Artisana’s raw organic almond butter with 1 cup of water). I especially enjoy the texture of the Cocoa Bliss – not too heavy and not too light. (I think the granola from Two Mom’s in the Raw is a bit too heavy and sticky for my preference, while the granola that I usually eat from Go Raw is very light. Kaia Foods’ Cocoa Bliss granola is somewhere in between, and I like it). It’s not overly sweet either, but the cocoa comes through nicely. I want a second bowl. Only a 1/2 cup for a serving? Really? Well, I think I need two servings then… one for me and one for Monkey. ;) That rationale works for me.
I’m partial to raw granola because it can be a quick snack on the run by itself, or a fast meal at home with a raw nut milk. I also tried the Dates & Spice granola which had a good flavor, but the texture of this one was a little too much for me. My bag had a lot of big junks of dehydrated dates with some buckwheat, and the dates were too hard, chewy, and big to eat (for me). Next, I tried the Raisin Cinnamon… ahh… a nice texture. It had a subtle flavor, but still good. If I were shopping for these, I’d probably end up buying the Cocoa Bliss on a regular basis, although the Raisin Cinnamon would probably end up in my cart from time to time as well.
Tuesday’s food. I’ve included some details of a recipe for something cooked (gasp!) – lol. I wanted to share it because it’s so darn good. It’s a huge crowd pleaser for everyone, every time I make it. So, if you’re looking for a quick, easy recipe to share with meat eaters… this is a totally satisfying and fun vegan option.
On to my day of food!
Savory Breakfast - Hearty Buckwheat Biscuit and Dilly Orange Coleslaw
You’ve seen me write about “Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuits” lately and I’ve decided to change the name to “Hearty Buckwheat Biscuits” because although they can be crunchy, it really depends on the length of time in the dehydrator. This last batch I let dry a little less than normal and they had crunchy elements to them but also chewy-ish hearty elements, too. “Hearty” seems a perfect description. And, let me tell you… they’re soooo good. I love them! To tell you the truth, every time I opened the refrigerator and saw my glass container with them inside, I actually smiled because I couldn’t wait to eat one. It’s going to be featured in my upcoming book, and I was trying to wait to share the recipe with everyone, but it just seems kind of mean (lol) that I keep telling you about them without giving you the recipe (not to mention, I’ve received oodles of emails requesting it). Therefore! I’m going to share it in my next email newsletter (spring edition). Be sure to sign up at KristensRaw.com if you haven’t already.
I also had Dilly Orange Coleslaw. It’s a new recipe and oh-my-goodness-gracious, this recipe is sooo great, too! My husband told me about four times as he ate his first serving of it, “Kristen, this is really good. Like, I mean really good. You said we were having coleslaw and I was cool with that, but I didn’t expect this!” It’s filled with different textures, gorgeous colors, and it has a light creaminess to give it some oompf and is also mega juicy with every bite. Hhmmm… YUM!
~ Kaia Foods Cocoa Bliss granola with 1-Minute Almond Milk – To make the 1-Minute Almond Milk, I simply blended a tablespoon of Artisana’s raw almond butter with a cup of water. (It makes two servings when used for granola.) Voila!
~ 3 teaspoons of sprouted sunflower seeds from Kaia Foods
~ Hearty Buckwheat Biscuit topped with Rejuvenative’s Sea Vegetable Garden Kim-Chi
~ Large salad of romaine, cucumber, orange bell pepper, broccoli sprouts, and Kaia Sunflower Seeds topped with a dressing of Himalayan crystal salt, black pepper, 2 teaspoons raw olive oil, and Coconut Secret’s Raw coconut vinegar (I love this stuff! It really brightens up a salad)
~ Raw Chocolate (1 small piece)
~ Herbal tea
Dinner - Vegan Chicken Ratatouille
Okay, here is the cooked vegan recipe that pleases all crowds. For the most part I consider myself High Raw, although there are some days that I’m all raw. That being said, when I do eat some cooked foods, I sometimes make it a point to consume some of the foods deemed “healthy” when cooked, i.e. tomatoes, cruciferous, etc. There are people who say those foods are better eaten slightly cooked because the cooking releases some nutrients otherwise not as easily available. Therefore, although it destroys many other nutrients to cook the food, I know that I’m at least getting some nutrition from these choices of cooked foods. And, as always, I make every attempt to buy organic or non-gmo.
So, for those of you still reading…
I make a quick ratatouille sauce where I heat a pot to medium heat and drizzle a bit of olive oil in it. After about 30-60 seconds, I add 2 cloves of chopped organic garlic and saute for a minute. Then, I add 4-5 medium organic chopped tomatoes and get them cooking for about 5 minutes or so (I have not timed this all, so these are approximations). I add Himalayan crystal salt, black pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, onion powder, couple dashes of cinnamon, and a dash of vanilla extract. I don’t have exact measurements for the salt and pepper, just do it to taste. For the basil, oregano and onion powder, I don’t measure that either, but I put in a decent amount to get some aroma and flavor. My advice is to start small and build from there. Then, I add 1 chopped organic zucchini. Continue cooking a couple of minutes. If it starts to boil, I reduce the heat to a lower setting. Then, I add about 1/3-1/2 bunch of kale (mostly destemmed and then chopped). I cook this for a couple of minutes.
At about the point of making the sauce where I put in the zucchini, I get out a saute pan. I set it to medium heat. After about 30 seconds of heating up, I add a little olive oil, coconut oil, or canola oil for cooking the faux chicken breasts. I take a package of Gardein Chick’n Scallopini Breasts (available in the freezer aisle of Whole Foods Market) and I saute them for 2 minutes on one side (at this point is when I add the kale to the sauce pot mentioned above). I flip the breasts and continue cooking another 2 minutes (now the kale has had time to cook a bit).
I take an 8X8 glass baking dish and put the 4 faux chicken breasts in it. I pour the sauce on top. Then, I sprinkle Daiya cheese on top (the white version) and put it under the broiler to melt the cheese for a couple of minutes. All done! This makes 2-4 servings depending on whether you’re hungry for 1 or 2 faux chicken breasts. Sometimes we make it 4 servings and have it alongside a huge organic salad. Ummm…. how’s my cooked recipe writing – lol! Not used to doing that.
So… ingredient shopping list for Vegan Chicken Ratatouille:
2 cloves garlic
4-5 medium tomatoes
1/3-1/2 bunch kale
salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, onion powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract
Gardein Chick’n Scallopini
Daiya Cheese (I buy mine from Whole Foods Market)
Dessert - Cherry Chocolate Bomb Shake!
As many of you know, this recipe is the bomb and I can’t seem to get enough of it – so I have it a lot! (I’m OK with that though.) ;)