Thursday, April 30th, 2009
This week I made my first batch of sauerkraut using my new fancy shmancy pot designed for fermenting veggies. I’m super excited but also a little whiny because I have to wait 4 weeks to see if it even worked out! It’s sitting on my counter now and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Before I made my sauerkraut, I read the book, Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home, from cover to cover. It was a great, quick, and easy read that I really enjoyed.
Fermented (raw, organic, and unpasteurized) veggies including things like sauerkraut and kim-chi are amazing for your health. These foods are extremely popular and have been staples in people’s diets all over the world. I can’t help but wonder why it’s not a staple in ours? Well, I’m changing that! On an almost daily basis, I’ve been chowing down on 1/4-1/2 cup fermented veggies. I love it!
Since I don’t have my own homemade sauerkraut (yet!), I’ve been buying it (expensively) at Whole Foods. My favorite company is Gold Mine Natural Foods (but not all Whole Foods carry this brand) so I also buy Rejuvenative’s sauerkraut and kim-chi. Hopefully in no time at all, I’ll have saved enough money from making my own sauerkraut to pay for the pot.
The benefits are numerous. It’s reputed for helping fight disease! YAY! It’s awesome for your digestion. WHOO-HOO! It helps load you up with friendly bacteria, and it’s filled with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes! SCORE FOR FERMENTATION!
But, don’t take it from me. Fermented veggies have been used for natural healing for years (and I mean LOTS of years). More specifically, the Chinese have been fermenting cabbage for thousands of years! In fact, according to the book, Making Sauerkraut, the earliest recording of fermented cabbage occurred in 200 BC. Isn’t that cool?
I want to mention here that it’s important to eat only Raw, Organic, Unpasteurized sauerkraut. If it’s been pasteurized, then the nutritious and beneficial friendly bacteria are wiped out (sadly).
In the past, I’ve made kraut with only a glass mason jar, but the trouble is that it didn’t always come out right. That’s why I decided to get the Harsch Gairtopf Fermenting Crock Pot. I’m all into making things as easy on me as possible! Apparently, this thing is fool-proof (sign me up!). It received great reviews on Amazon (all the sizes). I bought the 7.5L size a couple of weeks ago and made my first batch of organic sauerkraut the other day. Now, I wish I had bought another one so that I can start a batch of something else… maybe some Kim-Chi. But, I’ll wait and see how I do with the first batch. I’m eager to make something with fun flavors, spices, and herbs. Oh! I’m so excited.
To begin, I went to the farmer’s market on Saturday and bought 10 pounds of organic, locally grown cabbage from my favorite farmer, Doug (if you’re in the Phoenix area… have you signed up for the CSA yet? I think it starts this week!). I read that it is very important to use organic cabbage for fermenting (I always buy organic everything anyway). The sauerkraut ferments better with organic cabbage.
I came home and cleaned my crock, let it air dry, and then went to work on preparing the sauerkraut for fermenting.
I peeled off the outer leaves of the cabbage and set them aside (I used a few of them at the end for covering the top of the shredded cabbage). Then, I started shredding away. Each cabbage was about 2 pounds which was perfect, because it’s recommended that you use about 1 tablespoon sea salt (I always use Himalayan crystal salt) for each 2 pounds of cabbage. Going forward, I’ll decide whether to use the same amount of salt (or less) but for my first batch, I went along with the directions.
I used my food processor, fitted with the shredding plate/blade, and shredded 1 (2 pound) head of cabbage. I put it in a big bowl and added a tablespoon of my salt. I used a potato masher and starting pushing on the cabbage in order to break it down some and release water (my arms had a little workout from this). Once it got a little juicy, I transferred it to the crock. I then did the same thing for the remaining 4 heads of cabbage. This whole process took me about an hour. Once it was all put in my Harsch fermenting crock, I placed the outer leaves I previously saved, on top of the shredded cabbage.
Then, I placed the “weights” that came with the Harsch crock on top of the cabbage. I put on the lid and poured a little water in the moat (this gives it a water seal). Now… it’s sitting on my counter. The only concern I have is that I hope the temperature of my home is okay. It’s hot and dry in Arizona, so I’m keeping my eye on it, which is kind of useless since I’m instructed not to open it until I’m ready to harvest it. I don’t want to crank the air conditioning up in order to make sauerkraut since that would use a lot of energy. So, I have a little fan on it to help keep it cool. Ideally, I’d have a thermometer next to it to read the temperature, but I can’t find it :(
I have to wait a minimum of 3 weeks to harvest my sauerkraut. I think I’ll wait at least 4 weeks since it gives it extra fermentation time. At the time of harvesting my precious, (hopefully) delicious sauerkraut, I’ll transfer it to glass mason jars, use my FoodSaver (with mason jar attachment) to suck out all of the air for even better storage, and keep it in my refrigerator.
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
Announcement time! My latest book is now available, Kristen Suzanne’s Ultimate Raw Vegan Chocolate Recipes. (The ebook is not available yet; it should be this week.) If you’d like to view some pictures of featured recipes in the book, go here. As with all of my books, the pictures are not in the book. To keep the cost of the books as low as possible, I have pictures posted on my website.
This book is the ultimate introduction to chocolate in its most pure, natural form by using raw, dark chocolate (also called “raw cacao nibs”), raw chocolate powder, raw cacao butter, and raw cacao liquor. These are my favorite chocolate-based recipes — both sweet and savory.
This Raw food vegan recipe book is filled with delicious recipes, including:
30 Chocolate Desserts
11 Chocolate Beverages
11 Chocolate Snacks, Soup, Salad Dressing, Crackers & Breakfast
A “Raw Basics” introduction to Raw food (with 6 basic “must have” recipes) for people who are new to the subject.
Want to try a recipe from the book? Here you go!
Chocolate Chia Crackers
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield 1 tray (quantity depends on size you cut)
1 cup chia seeds
2 cups water
Juice of 1 orange
1 apple, cored & chopped
1/4 cup raw chocolate powder
2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
6 dates, pitted
dash Himalayan crystal salt
Soak your chia seeds for 30 minutes in a large bowl with 1 1/2 cups of the water. Blend the remaining ingredients (including the remaining 1/2 cup of water) together. Add the blended mixture to the bowl with soaked chia seeds and stir to mix. Break up any chia seed clumps with your rubber spatula or spoon. Let the mixture sit (as is) for 15-30 minutes.
Spread the mixture on a dehydrator tray lined with a non-stick Paraflexx sheet and score to desired size. (For a thinner cracker, divide between two trays.) Dehydrate at 135 degrees for 60 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 105 degrees and dehydrate another 6-8 hours. Flip crackers onto another tray without a Paraflexx sheet and peel off the Paraflexx sheet being used. Dehydrate another 6-10 hours, or until you reach your desired dryness.
Today was a HRAV (High Raw, All Vegan) day and here is what I had… (all organic)
I love how easy bananas are for a light and quick morning breakfast. I know it’s not going to “stick” with me all morning, but it gets me going and is light on my digestion.
2 mugs ginger tea
I met mom at Starbucks to play cards and brought my own organic ginger tea (and my own mug from home, it’s a Starbucks mug).
1/2 cup Holiday Chia Pudding
This stuff is so dang good!!! I LOVE the texture with the coconut in it. And the flavor – dynamite!
Veggie Bowl with Buckwheat Noodles
This is my High Raw dish. It consisted of buckwheat noodles that I lightly sauteed with a tablespoon of sesame oil for only a few minutes to warm them up. Then, I put them in a bowl and added a bunch of fresh raw produce – red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, carrot, handful of chopped cabbage (all the produce was from Doug, my favorite local organic farmer… I’m so excited because his CSA starts next week!!!)
1/4 cup sauerkraut (raw, unpasteurized)
3 cups Fresh Plant Blood
Pineapple, strawberries, and 1 tablespoon wheat grass powder
This is not Raw, but it is “living” and it’s wonderful for my digestion. I love miso soup. The only brand I’ll use is South River Miso. It’s top of the line!
1/2 avocado with a pinch of Himalayan crystal salt
I love avocado and they contain lots of fiber as well as B-vitamins
This was made with my favorite protein powders (Hemp & Rice). I blended it with water, strawberries, banana, and raspberries
More Holiday Chia Pudding
If I get hungry later, I’ll probably have a Vega bar or some more veggies.
Congratulations Vegyogini!!! You win!!! Your name was chosen as the winner of my 10th Awesome Giveaway. The prize is your choice of any 1 of my 11 available books (view choices here) – YAY!!!!!! Simply email me the address you want your prize sent to.
Here is what Vegyogini had to say when asked, “Where is your favorite place to vacation AND why?”
I live in L.A. and I love taking a week or two of vacation to just stay in town, relax, and explore L.A. It’s so fun to learn more about your own hometown. :)
My next Awesome Giveaway is in May, so check back for details!
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
It’s that time again – YEEHAW! Giveaway Time! This month I’m giving the winner one of my Raw recipe/lifestyle books or ebooks (view choices here). This contest is open to anyone around the world. If you live outside of the continental United States, I will email you the ebook of your choice.
Want the chance to win? It’s simple to participate! All you have to do is answer the following question in this post’s comment section. The contest will end Saturday night, April 25th @ 11:59pm. I’ll enter everyone’s name who answered the question into a drawing and announce the winner on my blog Sunday, April 26th.
Question: Where is your favorite place to vacation AND why?
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
Hi everyone!!! I hope you’re having a terrific day! Here is my food for the day. As usual, everything is organic. If I get hungry beyond what I’ve written, then, I’ll probably add an apple and/or protein shake.
~ One of the easiest breakfasts… ever!
Miso Soup with Chickpea miso by South River Miso
~ I love this stuff. It makes a delicious and warming breakfast.
1 quart Plant Blood
~ Refreshing and green… cucumber, zucchini, celery, lemon, ginger (It’s so bright and gorgeous! I feel full of life with every sip!)
~ Found the most amazing fresh, huge, soft, chewy prunes at Whole Foods (they’re not usually this great when I buy them from there, but this batch… OHH LA LA!)
Raw, unpasteurized Sauerkraut
~ I’m on a sauerkraut kick lately. It’s so nourishing on the body and I love the zest of it. I’ve been doing some extra reading on the food and I’m committed to trying to get a little of this in my diet on a daily basis if possible. I ordered on of those fancy german crocks and will be making it myself soon. Right now I’m eating the kraut from Rejuvenative (and it’s good), but I prefer the kraut from Gold Mine.
1 large avocado, diced
~ Yum… full of vitamins and healthy fats. Love avocado!
Giant kale salad with flax crackers
~ with red bell pepper, carrots, raisins, and hemp seeds
Holiday Chia Pudding
~ I’m hooked on this stuff
On another note, I can’t wait for American Idol tonight!!! And, on yet another note… I’m having another awesome giveaway this week, so be sure and check back!!!
One of the ways I make my Raw vegan lifestyle easy is by utilizing my freezer. By doing this, I’m able to make foods in advance and nothing goes to waste. The following are things I think about when freezing Raw food.
1) What packaging (or container) will I freeze my Raw food in?
There are two types of packaging/containers I use for freezing: glass or plastic bags. When I freeze soups, nut/seed butters, hummus, dips, nut/seed milks, or dressings, I use glass mason jars. And, to make the freezing process even better, I use my FoodSaver to suck out all of the air (they have an attachment for glass mason jars available for purchase). I even do this sometimes for food I keep in the refrigerator, even though it means using the FoodSaver every time I open the jar to eat some. It really helps to keep the foods extra fresh and delicious!
When I freeze dehydrated goodies such as pizza crusts, crackers, quiche crusts, nuts/seeds, dried fruit, or when I freeze desserts or pate, I tend to use the FoodSaver bags (yes, they’re plastic, but using the plastic can be helpful at times and necessary for things like quiche crusts, pizza crusts, desserts, and frozen bananas). Here, I use my FoodSaver to suck out as much air as possible, and, depending on the food, I’ll sometimes suck out all of the air and sometimes I suck out most of the air (being careful not to crush the food). That being said, I have used glass mason jars to store crackers and dehydrated nuts/seeds/etc (and then proceeded to use the food saver and glass jar attachment before freezing). The hard part about this is that the jars take up a lot of room in the freezer. As such, I now have a second large freezer (pictured above) and it was worth every penny because I store so much in there. I’m able to buy in bulk, save money, and freeze it all to preserve freshness.
Bottom line – I love my FoodSaver for freezing raw foods! In fact, my mom froze individual slices of my raw vegan cheesecake OVER A YEAR AGO using her FoodSaver, using the FoodSaver bags and sucking out as much air as possible without smishing the dessert (like my use of a technical word “smish?” – ha ha). Anyway… it tasted as delicious and fresh as the day I made it. Talk about some longevity! Heck… get a FoodSaver and make your holiday desserts now! Be prepared and save yourself time during the busy holiday season. :)
Now, all that talk about the lovely FoodSaver doesn’t mean that I don’t successfully freeze without a FoodSaver. I do! When I know I’m going to consume something within a month’s time or so, for example with raw desserts like cookies, chocolates, cheesecakes, etc… then I just slice it into individual servings (or create the individual cookies or chocolates) and freeze them in glass jars or glass square storage containers (my mom scored some of these at Costco for me recently – they have plastic lids, but that’s okay for me because the food isn’t touching the lid). It’s true that sometimes I end up using plastic containers, ICK!, but I try to stay away from it as much as possible. I’m still building up my supply of glass storage containers. It’s taken time to build an awesome Raw food kitchen, but it’s been worth every bit of the investment. It’s my family’s health after all.
2) What are the best Raw vegan foods to freeze?
A good rule of thumb is knowing that the higher the fat content it has usually means a better freezing experience. Therefore, if I’m freezing a fat free soup or dressing, then it might get some crystals on it over time, and it might not taste as good as it would fresh… but it’ll still be pretty good. In my opinion, I’d rather use a dressing on my salad that was frozen then thawed (but was still Raw vegan and pure), than to use a bottled dressing that underwent pasteurization and has shelf-life extending ingredients in it that I probably can’t pronounce anyway.
3) What about the vitality of my Raw food after it’s frozen?
It’s probably true that I lose some of the vitality of the food when freezing, but probably not nearly as much as when cooking. Freezing raw foods is a great option because if there is some nutrient loss (anywhere from 5-30% I’ve heard), I’m still getting tons of nutrition. And, add that to the fact that my life is easier, I’m less stressed and more organized, I save money, and I’m eating less cooked food because I have a freezer stocked full of delicious Raw foods… it’s a win-win all around.
In fact, the “fresh” produce I buy that sits in my refrigerator… well, that is also losing nutrition over time. It’s for this reason that some people believe that buying a bag of frozen organic berries (or other fruit) has more nutrition than fresh fruit from the produce department. The philosophy is that the (frozen) fruit was picked at its ripest and then frozen immediately to prevent nutrient loss that can occur from shipping to sitting in a large produce cooler at the store to sitting on the shelf waiting for you to buy it to transferring it home and then sitting in your refrigerator there, too. Note: Frozen veggies from the store are another story, because they have almost always been blanched before freezing, still studies show that not all of the nutrients are lost.
So… what do I do?
I cover all of my bases. I buy fresh and frozen organic fruits and I buy fresh vegetables. I get most of my fresh produce from the farmer’s market because locally grown is very important. And, while I eat most of my foods fresh, I like to keep a steady supply of Raw vegan foods frozen to make my life easier.
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Kristen Suzanne in hair
I’ve been trying out a new hair care system for about the past month, and I’m loving it. My hair is about 90% grown out now (with my natural color of chocolate brown), and I adore it. It’s soft, silky, and oh-so-healthy! For those of you interested in the story of my transformation from blond locks to brunette tresses, read here.
Prior to finding this other company for hair care, I was using Terressentials mud to wash my hair (since about August 2008). That was an interesting and neat experience. But… a couple of months ago, from time to time, I was getting flakes. Eek! I tried using an apple cider vinegar/water rinse and I tried using coconut oil, but without success. Also, (after washing) some days my hair was soft and clean feeling, other days it wasn’t. (Don’t get me wrong, I still love many of their products, but I think my time with their hair care products was coming to an end).
I decided to look for another line that was as natural as I could get. I even thought I was willing to compromise a tiny bit with the ingredients (and not be such a purist), so I looked at Aubrey Organics, Suki, and some others. But, every time I read the labels, I couldn’t help but feel a little disheartened when comparing them to the purity of Terressentials’ mud. I work so hard to keep my body clean internally and externally that I just couldn’t compromise in the end.
Morrocco Method comes to the rescue!
I did some more searching online and came upon Morrocco Method products. I was immediately intrigued because the website boasts about its products being Raw, Vegan, and Eco-friendly. My pulse quickened and my eyes devoured the entire website.
However, before committing, I decided to google some reviews about it. For the most part, people’s reviews show they love the line, including a very good review from Organic Lifestyle Magazine who highly recommends the products (read review here). I agree with the issue OLM had with the company’s accompanying literature in the package (it’s a little on the pathetic side, yet it is informative). OLM also had an issue with how the staff treated them, but I must say that when I called them with some questions, they were extremely friendly and very professional. And, I scored some free samples in my package, including a face scrub (love it!) and I’ve since gone back to order a bottle of it.
There were a couple of reviews online that weren’t great about the shampoos, but for those people, it seems that their main complaint was either the lack of lather or the price or the smell. The different products smell very earthy and I actually really like it. As for the lack of lather… well, you’re looking at a gal who shampooed with mud for months (zero lather), so I’m used to using all natural products like this. (BTW, Morrocco Method actually does give a little lather.)
So… what happened to the scalp problems I had? They went away immediately. Ever since I started using Morrocco Method, my hair has been so freakin’ soft, shiny, and silky. It’s extra gorgeous! My husband is amazed and loves touching my hair (he’s always commenting on how soft it is). And, just this weekend, my mom commented on how pretty my hair was. For those of you who don’t know the story… this is huge! She was bummed that I was no longer going to color my hair blond. And, it’s been a tiny bit of tension between us since I started growing it out. But, oh my goodness, this weekend she mentioned on more than one occasion that she was amazed at how shiny, soft, and pretty it was. She admitted that she actually likes it.
I have the entire shampoo system (4 bottles of different shampoo that I rotate) and one conditioner called Chi Conditioner. That system alone is awesome. I also bought the oil and have used that twice, and I have the hair gel (that’s been great, too!). I decided to give the two conditioning sprays a try so I recently bought the sample/travel conditioning kit. The first night I used one of the sprays (for volume) I washed my hair, sprayed the stuff in, and went to bed. I woke up and my hair had so much body it looked like Edward’s in Twilight – ha ha!
The system isn’t cheap, but it’s so healthy for my hair and body that I can’t imagine using anything else right now. Plus, I stretch it out. Since I don’t wash my hair daily (more like 2-3 times a week), I don’t use much of the product so it’ll last awhile. I, do, however recommend getting a couple of the Chi Conditioners because obviously you’ll run out of that quicker. If you want to try the system out first, you can buy the travel/sample shampoo kit and the travel/sample conditioning kit. I recommend signing up for their newsletter because they frequently offer specials and coupons.
UPDATE: They also have a new cream rinse called, Pearl Essence. I’ve only tried it a couple of times in a sample size, but I like this, too.
I hope if you try this system that it works as great for you as it has for me!
Sunday, April 12th, 2009
Kristen Suzanne in vegan
Sunday, we celebrate the holiday with family. Here is our 100% Raw vegan food intake plan:
1 quart fresh Plant Blood (kale, lemon, golden beets/greens, kiwi)
Chia Coconut Pudding (made with sweet cashew milk, cinnamon, almond extract)
1 cup raspberries
This week I’ll be blogging about the latest hair care products I’m using (that I L-O-V-E!) as well as details about freezing Raw food.
I recently saw someone writing into one of the Facebook groups questioning what is the right way with the Raw vegan diet. She was confused because she said there was conflicting information out there and just didn’t know what to believe or which way to go.
My response to this is:
YAY! Rejoice! Hallelujah! This is the beauty of the Raw vegan diet. There are so many options and one size does not have to fit all. It can change by the person. In my humble opinion, this is exciting because it means variety. I love the idea that during one season I can follow some low fat Raw vegan principles and in another season I can nourish my glorious body with avocados, nuts, seeds, and divine Raw vegan desserts. In my life, I have spent time as 100% Raw vegan, and other times (like now) where I’m HRAV (High Raw, All Vegan). I’ve had expanses of time where certain nuts didn’t sit well with me. And, I’ve had other times where I thrived with them in my diet. Sometimes my level of Raw changes as I travel and sometimes I vary it with the changing moon.
I love this flexibility! I love this versatility! I love the options. You can be a sproutarian! You can love the fruitarian way of life! You can hug a life with green smoothies and juices and all things liquid! You can dive into decadence and nourish your body with loads of essential fatty acids and healthy fats from whole nuts, avocado, coconut, etc. You can tango with a natural hygiene approach (much like fruitarian) and eschew things like oils, garlic, and fermented foods. And, of course, if you’re not currently following a Raw vegan diet, you can choose to follow one of the aforementioned plans for a week, here and there, just to add more nourishment to the lifestyle you live now.
Congratulate yourself for taking your health into your own hands and trying this wonderful diet and lifestyle, no matter which path you pursue on the journey with Raw food. Be confident you’re feeding your body wonderful nutrient dense Raw vegan foods whether it’s avocado, hemp seeds, pineapple, kale salad, Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce (chuckling here, those of you who regularly follow my blog know of my addiction to this last month), a plate of gourmet Raw food, or a serving of Holiday Chia Pudding (munch munch… eating this as I write this post). Be excited and happy to know that there are many choices for you. There is no need to stress about it or feel pressed to subscribe to one plan.
You can change it by the month, or the week, if your heart and body desires. It’s all up to you… and you alone. Try on one of the plans for size and see how it fits. Or, heck, don’t subscribe to any of them and just mix it up meal by meal. :)
The bottom line is that you LISTEN TO YOUR OWN BODY! Pay attention to the inner god or goddess inside of you. Follow your intuition. Be patient. Feel excited. Recognize that we are all different… different ages, from different toxic (or non toxic) backgrounds, live in different parts of the world, experience different environmental toxins, have different levels of stress, pursue different levels of physical exercise, etc. What we all have in common is that we can all use some organic, Raw vegan whole foods in our lives no matter where we are on the diet spectrum.