And the Raw Results Are In!

Our raw challenge has come to an end and the results?  Well, to be honest, they’re mixed. Except for this chocolate mousse.  No question, this pudding was delicious!

In the beginning, going raw was exciting.  New and fresh, the kids and I had a great time perusing the aisles of our Whole Foods store, searching for the “never heard of” ingredients for the gourmet impersonations we were concocting, from our chocolate mousse and lemony cheesecake to our Italian pastas and Asian broccoli dishes.  Eating tons of fruit, we created some wonderful smoothies, too–one of the easiest way for my kids to go raw.

But by mid-week however, the excitement was wearing thin.  The kids were whining for cheeseburgers and my husband…  Well, let’s just say it’s never a good sign when you pick up the scent of meat on your husband’s collar during raw week.  (Oh, the horror!)  Makes me suspect he might have been having a cheeseburger “fling.”  Given the opportunity, the kids most definitely would have “flung” a few burgers into their mouths as well.  Unfortunately for them, they’re under my watch 24/7 whereas my husband is not and alas, I must confess, I think my husband cheated.  Only a little bit.  Only out of necessity, driving all day long, no fast food restaurants willing to ply him with raw delicacies and fresh bliss.  What about salads?

Seems they pose more hazard than sustenance, what with the risk of dressing on the chin, driplets staining his tie, smudged across the steering wheel…  Better he chance the sneak of an easy-to-eat burger than face his business customers with a slew of salad and sauce all over him!

Speaking of non-raw, I think my most coveted (craved) food this past week was bread .  Bread for my pasta, bread for our peppers, sandwiches, pancakes–bread is a major staple in our diet, albeit not a good one.  From gluten to migraines, extra carbs to extra pounds, bread doesn’t promote a healthy lifestyle.  But it tastes so good!  Cookies and cakes, crackers and crusts–I think I’ve found my problem!  I LOVE breadstuff.

What else have I learned?

When making ceviche, be sure to cut your fish into 1/2 inch pieces else your dinner may not be ready come dinner time.  And be adventurous!  Octopus makes for really interesting presentation.

My son can juice a mean dozen lemons in no time flat, all the while craving a plate full of eggs and bacon, Reuben to follow with a healthy cheeseburger for dinner. Kids.  But he loves yogurt and berries.  Eats them most every day.  He simply doesn’t want them for every meal.

Hmph.  Salads and soups will only take your husband so far as well.  At some point, apparently he needs something more “meaty” to fill his belly. Go figure.  And he’s the one who needs to eat healthy!  Me?  I’m fit as a feline and every so finicky–I mean, feisty.  Feisty is what I am.  After all, I am the gardenfrisk! 🙂

On an important note:  When using a blender, do NOT stick your spoon inside while it’s blending to “help things along.”  Yes, you’re sure you have it under control, you know the length of your spoon, you can gauge the distance quite well, thank you but don’t do it.  And don’t–especially don’t–decide to school your daughter in the finer points of blending safety, advising her against doing what you’re doing, because of what “could” happen.  Guess what.  It does.

All over the kitchen. Last thing I wanted to do at that moment was clean a gooey mess.  Not when I was so looking forward to this Lemony Cheesecake my daughter was preparing, nor when I wanted to retire to the sofa.  Nope.  But life throws curve balls at you that way (or sprays them across your countertops, your clothing, your floor).  Then of course, there’s the husband, standing there, staring at you with that barely suppressed grin of his that says, “that’s what you get for making me eat this stuff.” 

To his credit he laughed, made light of it with the kids–all at my expense, of course.  Lucky for him I’m a good-natured sort of gal or he’d have a heap of trouble on his hands!  The nerve of him.  And to think he implied he was counting the days until our raw challenge was over.  Like father like son…

Some of our successes?  (You mean, besides the 5 pounds I lost?) Our red sauce was excellent as was the Alfredo. 

The zucchini pasta needed to be spiraled for the illusion to be complete, though this passes for Pappardelle quite well, if you ask me.  Gazpacho made for a delightful summer soup.  Combined with a salad, it was definitely enough to satisfy my appetite. 

And this Asian style broccoli was another unexpected winner.  My daughter is a broccoli fan and chose to make this dish one night for dinner and the sauce was really good.  Had a nice spice to it.  We skipped the parsnip “rice” and enjoyed it as a side.

All in all would we do it again?  For a whole week?

Maybe not every dish, every day, but we did learn how easy it is to incorporate raw dishes into our normal diet for a healthy living lifestyle.  And healthy we do want to be!

The Sweet Smell of Dirt

Is there anything sweeter than the smell of dirt? I don’t mean the dirt in my garden, or the dirt and dust of outdoor living. No, I’m talking about the sweet scent of dirt that clings to my son on a daily basis, the aroma that hovers about him, follows him as he runs through the house at top speed, leaps over sofas in a single bound, jumps, twists in mid-air as he pushes off from an armrest managing a karate chop and kick before landing on his feet.

My son is amazing.  He smells like dirt and a myriad of other things I (thankfully) cannot identify, nor do I want to know their origin.  He dots the house on a regular basis with his tale-tell markings, adding to my list of things to clean.  But it all becomes irrelevant when he careens through the room, throws himself onto the seat beside me and wraps his skinny little arms around my neck. The boy can hug like the coziest of bears!  He snuggles close, wedges his toes between my legs (to become at one with me, I think), flashes that brilliant toothless smile and says, “Hi, Mommy.”

Warm ripples of love shoot straight out from my heart.  Short and sweet, he gets right to the point.  I’d expect nothing less from my little man-in-training (his father’s not big on love talk, either). Full of life, packed with love, he wants nothing more than to be with his mother–at the moment.

The minute Dad walks in it will be game over for Mom.  Like boys and bikes, fishing and skateboards, I don’t stand a chance when it comes to him and his dad. 

But that’s okay.  I’m a realist. I accept the realities of male-bonding and sashay right around them.  After all, he’s helpful in the garden and helpful in the kitchen–after the friendly reminder to wash his hands.

Bright and energetic, boys are quick and sharp and they do love their mothers.  After all, it’s my name he calls out in the middle of the night.  It’s my side of the bed he seeks during the pre-dawn light.  It’s my cheerful face he searches for in pick up line after school. 

So each night, as he scrambles from my lap en route for his father, I let him go.  Good practice for later.  For one day he will love another woman, cherish and adore her (and call his mother once a week, if he knows what’s good for him!) and I will no longer be the center of his universe. 

But until then, I’ll happily remain the love of his life.  And the feeling is mutual, dirt devils and dust bunnies, my boy is decidedly adorable–stink and all!

Vacations and Gardens

They sometimes don’t mix.  Unless you plan accordingly, vacations can wreak havoc on a garden.  Shoot, even when you do plan accordingly they can shower your garden with weeds and bugs, slugs and grubs.  The mere thought of leaving my garden for a week at a time gives me the heebie-jeebies. But hey, I’ve got to live, don’t I? 

Yes.  More than live for my garden, I’ve got to traipse across the wilderness, scour new horizons in search of greener grass and bluer skies and drag my kids alongside me.  My heart soars at the sheer whisper of exotic destinations and far off places. 

Until they introduced those intrusive body scanners, anyway.  Ick.  Unfortunately, body scanners and groping TSA agents are not the only things capable of making one mutter, “ick.”  No.  Vacations away from your fabulous and fertile garden can make you turn away in horror, too.  Just look at what happened to Julie’s gorgeous greens. 

She wasn’t gone for long.  It all happened so fast… 

It’s enough to make a girl want to up and quit this whole garden experiment, toss the newfound joy aside like an uncomfortable pair of heels.  They’re scuffed.  It will take effort to refurbish them to their original shine.  Is it worth it?

Chin up, ladies–of course it’s worth it!  You’re a gardener now.  You must understand that Mother Nature likes to toy with a gal, test her fortitude and make sure she’s worth those glorious tomatoes she’s perfected over the centuries. After all, once she’s entrusted you with her precious commodities of fruits and vegetables, she’ll expect you to perform in turn. 

And perform you will.  As Julie has proved with these lovely near ripe tomatoes.

Just look at these budding beauties.  Kinda makes it all worthwhile, doesn’t it?

P.S.  Remember:  Mother Nature does this all day long, all by herself.  You’re included in the growing process at her whim.  If she wants your garden to grow, it will.  If not, oh well.  One only has to consider my compost pile tomatoes to be sure this woman knows how to garden. (Yep.  This plant is growing completely unaided in my compost pile.)

Then look at my corn.  Granted this shot includes only a few stalks flattened by wind–but trust me–there were more.  My husband claims I need to plant more rows, shorter rows, insisting a denser planting formation will protect the interior stalks leaving only the outer corn susceptible to annihilation.  (Apparently men from Ohio know a little something about growing corn.)  Fine. I’ll take it under my cap and consider it.

 

Next season.  For now, I suggest you take this as a warning–in case you had any doubts about the ferocity of Mother Nature’s temper.  Not sure what I did to deserve this, but don’t think I didn’t fight back and right those stalks at once!

I can be impossible, too. 🙂

One Week, All Raw — Ready, Set, Go!

Today we begin our week-long raw challenge.  Woohoo!  For our first day, we’re keeping it simple, gradual; fruit for breakfast, salad/greens for lunch, ceviche for dinner.  A gentle entre into our new venture is needed, because after a vacation eating everything and anything (like Pringles, beef jerky, cheeseburgers… you get the picture) we don’t want to shock the system. 

The kids are somewhat leery of our new adventure while my husband is plain skeptical–though he promised to order salads while out and about during his work day.  On the bright side, we have a wonderful harvest with which we can work wonders:  corn, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, okra,  peppers. 

Could we ask for a better menu? Gazpacho, marinated Italian peppers, zucchini pasta…  Bet you wish you were dining at our house this week, don’t you?

I can feel it already;  our skin is going to glow, our energy is going to burst, our minds will clear, our moods will soar…  Raw living will definitely provide a wholesome cleansing and a healthy turn, putting our bodies on the road to well-being.  How about you.  “Ready for a good cleansing?”

Abundant Harvest

Oh the joy!  You have gobs of cobs and tubs of spuds–another banner year in the garden.  Pull out the picnic basket and call on the neighbors, it’s time to celebrate!

But wait–

Uh, oh.  It’s all coming back to you.  Last year was a banner year, too.  And after you filled your bellies and those of your neighbors, packed your freezer and stacked your cellar, you STILL had food to spare.  Oh, despair!  What shall we do?

Fun and games, sing-song tone aside, food that goes to waste is something of a despair–but one that can be avoided.  But how?  You’ve given your excess produce to everyone you know.  There’s no place else to turn, no hands left open to give.

While that may be the case, you do have another place to turn.  With the help of an organization called Ample Harvest.org, you can now locate a fresh food pantry near you and donate your excess harvest to them.  Better yet, don’t wait until you have excess–donate some of what you have in your basket today!

With a network of pantries that spans clear across the United States, chances are good you’ll find one in your neighborhood.  And if you can’t, then by golly you need to start one.  It makes sense to do what we can, lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need.  And we gardeners know that fresh is always better–beats canned every day of the week.

So how about checking in with Ample Harvest and see how you can make a difference?  Talk about reaping what you sow–I have to believe there will be some good karma following you home after your fresh food pantry delivery.

Spring Garden Harvest Equals Big Fun

The garden gals are harvesting up a storm–spaghetti squash, zucchini–you name it, they’re harvesting it!  (Well, so long as it made it into the planter box… )

Just look at the size of those beasts!  And let me tell you, with the success these ladies are having, I think it’s safe to say BOTH will continue in their garden adventure.  As will their family.  While he may not know it (yet), I think Ashley’s husband is going to build her a second planter box.  🙂   How great is that?

Julie may be expanding as well.  I mean, she’s totally involved the kids in her new venture–of course they’ll insist she continue!  It’s too much fun not to, especially when it becomes a focal point of interest for their friends. Boy oh boy, do moms know how to produce or what–these kids are loving life!

Granted there still exist a few minor hurdles.  Ashley has ants in her conch peas while Julie has a few lingering yellowed leaves, but I ask you:  In the greater scheme of life, does it really matter?

I’ve long since given up on perfection in my garden.  We still have weeds here and there, despite the fact you won’t usually see them in our photos.  Sort of like a messy house.  When company comes over, you straighten up real quick. 

Oh, you don’t bother with all that pretense?  Well then, think of those flawless models on the covers of stylish magazines (they don’t normally look like that in real life, you know).  It’s a photo shoot:  perfection in pictures.

For me and my kids, gardening is centered on getting back to basics, enjoying the fruits of our labor, reaping joy from our success and spending good old-fashioned quality time together.

What can I say?  It works. (Just don’t ask my son about weeding.  He’s a bit melodramatic.)

That’s a Heckuva Garden Hat!

Wherever did you find it?

Now that’s a smart gal asking after a great hat.  While sometimes overlooked, hats are an essential part of the gardener’s wardrobe.  Not only do they keep the sun off your delicate skin (which gets more delicate as you grow older so where your hat–while you’re young ladies!), they keep critters out of your hair, off your shoulders…

You get the picture.  Gardening entails wildlife–the kind you don’t want crawling through your gorgeous lockes. 

I know it’s not a pretty picture I’m painting, but I’d rather you be prepared (else you run from your new gardening adventure before reaping your reward at harvest time!).  And with so many beautiful garden hats to choose from, why wouldn’t you wear one?  Other than the fact it flattens a girl’s “do.”  But where do you have to be?  You’re gardening, not gallavanting!

When buying a garden hat, I have one word of advice:  chin strap.

I’ve gone through a lot of garden hats in the course of my adventure and have found the hats with chin straps are my keepers.  Just think about it:  there you are, tucked between your rows, minding your business when all of a sudden a gust of wind sneaks up on you and blows your lovely hat clear from your head.  After you shriek and curse that blasted Mother Nature for her mischeif, you rise to gather your hat, only to find it…dirty.

Yep.  So make sure whichever hat you choose includes a strap.  Especially if it’s pretty.  My first choice is straw.  I like the look and find it holds up well. Also, most wide brimmed hats seemed to be woven in nature and wide-brimmed is good–keeps the sun off your skin and out of your eyes!  But wait, you’re wearing your protective eyegear, aren’t you?  This one shown is available through Mast General Store, an outfit out of North Carolina.

For a smaller “headprint” and lightweight option, how about the hat you wear out on the boat, when you’re fishing? 

What? You don’t fish?”  Oh mercy are you missing out on some big fun!  But not to worry–your garden will provide you with all the fun you need.  Outside of fishing, that is.  This booney-style hat will work both out on the boat and in the garden (note chin strap) and is washable.  Straw is not.  Brushable, but not washable.

And with a name like Sun Goddess, how could you go wrong?

Yeehaw–there’s always a cowgirl hat!  Chin strap, straw made, this one’s for you.  From high atop your tractor to crouched between your rows of corn, you’ll feel right at home in this one and ready for a quick change for a night on the town.

I do love a good country line dance, now and again. Mostly to watch since my coordination (and memory) lacks to keep up! 

Oh well, there’s always the garden…always something exciting going on in there.

Which brings me to a good point.  Hats are practical but should also be fun.  They’re a reflection of you.  Like your gloves, your glasses, your shoes, your shorts–hats are an expression of your personality.  Make it bold but make it useful!

And don’t forget the chin strap.

p.s.  There’s one more option.  If you’re willing to forgo the chin strap (simply not a breeze in sight in your neck of the woods), check this cute paisley hat from Women’s Work.  It will match your cute paisley gloves.  And who doesn’t like to coordinate accessories?

The Anti-Inflammatory Garden

No, I’m not talking about placing special seats between your raised beds to ease the strain on your achy joints.  Though that would be a nice invention, wouldn’t it?  And while they’re at it, perhaps one of our smart scientist-types could devise some miracle gadget to relieve the stress from my neck and shoulders–especially when I’m staking those gorgeous tomato plants of mine.  Jimney Cricket, my massage therapist is tired of seeing me!

Actually, I’m talking vegetables.  And illness.  More specifically, the relationship between the two.  Over the years, our friendly researchers have been hard at work studying the connection between food and body (not my silly gadgets) and have discovered some interesting correlations.  Seems a diet loaded with inflammatory foods (refined sugar, dairy, meat, refined grains, alcohol, caffeine) coincides with a diet higher in acid-forming foods (refined sugar, dairy, meat, refined grains, alcohol, caffeine).  Notice any similarities? 

Technically, it’s not acid foods that are the problem, but how certain foods affect the pH in your body, ie. do they become acid-forming once ingested.  For example, lemon is an obvious acid, yet once consumed, its effect becomes more alkaline due to your body’s digestive breakdown process. Grapefruits, limes, nectarines, pineapple…they too have an “alkalizing” effect. 

Where should your pH be?  The average is 7.4 making the human body more alkaline by nature.  Imagine if your diet consisted of mainly acid-forming foods.  It’s doesn’t take a calculus whiz (lucky for me) to realize you’re decreasing your body’s natural pH and thus, introducing unhealthy conditions.  How?  Basically, by eating acid-forming foods you’re forcing your body to “work” to neutralize the acidity level and reestablish a healthier more natural pH level; its preferred and optimum performance level.

While no major studies have proven this cause and effect relationship, some test-tube lab results have demonstrated that certain cancer cells grow faster in a more acidic solution.  It’s no coincidence that many a cancer patient has been advised to make sweeping changes to their diet–eliminating processed foods, meats and dairy in favor of fresh leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts.  Is it because their physician believes in the alkaline diet?

Or is it simply common sense food choices they’re after.  Remember, there are ninety-year-olds running around out there who partake in all the no-no foods and have no issues.  Probably because they’re running. (Or gardening!)  But it doesn’t negate the alkaline  premise.   Just because it hasn’t been proven, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

But while the debate continues, it’s up to us to decide.  We decide what goes in (food) and what goes out (activity). If you ask me, moderation is always a good starting point.  And consider the source.  Do you think the pretty pink bon-bon shaped like a heart is best, or the lovely pink beet shaped almost the same is better?   (Hmmm…wish the questions on my final exams in college were this easy.)  Seems to me, the closer my food resembles its natural state the better!

Which is why my family is taking the challenge.  And challenge is no understatement.  While my kids’ friends think I’m some kind of health nut who only eats sticks and leaves, I’m not.  I love sweets–how do you think I knew about pink bon-bons?–adore cheese, crave a juicy cheeseburger now and again and enjoy both wine and coffee.  How should you divide your time between the two? 

For our raw diet challenge, I plan to make a concerted effort to stay on the alkaline/anti-inflammatory side, though most medical authorities recommend a diet of 75-80% alkaline-forming foods.  Whew.  Maybe my organic yogurt is okay…

“Whew” is right. Eating an all raw diet will definitely be a challenge for me.  Sure I’m leaving the door open for my daily dose of dairy in the form of yogurt, but think of what I’m giving up! Focus on what I’m adding

I DO prefer to look for the positive.  Keeps my “happy-attitude-cap” in place.  For those interested in joining the fun and delving into the alkaline-weighted menu–

CAUTION:  depending on which resource you consult, opinion will vary on which foods are the powerhouse alkalizers and which are the worst acid-offenders.  The following list is only meant as a guide and NOT an absolute authority on the subject.  In fact, my personal search found several discrepancies.  Take blueberries–good or bad?  Acid or alkaline?

Do your own research, but know the reviews are mixed at best. 

Alkaline-forming

Vegetables:  spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, lentils, cabbage, garlic, avocado, shiitake mushrooms

Fruits:  raisins, lemon, watermelon, nectarine, bananas, pineapple, tangerines, blackberries

Nuts/seeds:  hazelnuts, pumpkin, flax, sunflower

Spices:  turmeric, ginger, chili pepper, cinnamon

Acid-forming

Vegetables:  corn, olives

Fruits:  cranberries, blueberries 🙁

Nuts:  peanuts, walnuts, cashews

On second thought, perhaps I’ll go 50-50 and split the difference.  One blueberry for me, a cranberry for you.  Trade you a peanut for a dozen sunflower seeds?

Nothing like Harvest to pull you from the Doldrums

Rain, rain, rain–a beautiful thing right about now in Central Florida, but absolutely no good for photography.  Not mine, anyway. Can you imagine what my husband would say if I went out into the rain with the lovely digital camera he bought me for my birthday?

Yes, well, it’s not anything to be repeated here, I assure you.  I mean, we’re all sunshine and candy in these parts and have no interest in “What the heck were you thinking?” or “You did what?”

No siree-bob we have NO interest in that kind of heresy at BloominThyme.  What we do have an interest in is harvest, big time.

Would you look at that zucchini? For starters, it’s enormous, chock full with a heck-of-a-lot-of-fun factor.  Did you hear?  We have zucchini! Ring the cow bell and call the neighbors, it’s harvest time!

Rainy days are no match for harvest days.  When you pull that incredible bounty from your garden–trust me–you’re in for a thrill. 

Thrill of your lifetime!

Okay, that could be an exaggeration.  (I’ve had some fun in my lifetime and it wasn’t harvesting…).  But it’s certainly the thrill of your springtime.  Harvest makes all the effort worthwhile.  All the bug squashing, leaf clipping, weed pulling, garlic spritzing, fungus snipping, cricket chasing, fly swatting, watering and feeding effort is made right–come harvest time.

In fact, we were lucky to get this picture of Julie’s zucchini.  She’s a grade-A chef and this baby was on the stove in no time.  Why Ashley was so excited by her harvest she near ran the boys down on her way to the kitchen to whip her zucchini into an absolute delicacy!  Her cucumbers are next, followed by her squash, conch peas…

These women are on a roll, riding high on a thrill!  Which reminds me.  “Have you started your garden, yet?”

Raw Diet–the Possibilites are Endless!

Time to free that body of yours from processed junk and rid your diet of enzyme destruction — yes, the raw challenge is here!  (Well, the menu suggestions are going up.) Challenge begins in 2 weeks.  Are you ready?

How about, “Why bother?”

Theory holds that heating foods to temperatures over 115 – 118 degrees Fahrenheit destroys enzymes necessary for a multitude of chemical processes that keep your body healthy. In fact, humans are the only animals that eat cooked foods.  Duh.  Who let Captain Obvious into the conversation? 

Theory goes further to distinguish between alkalizing foods (leafy green vegetables and fruits) and acidic foods (animal proteins, dairy, processed food and white flour and sugar).  Raw food purists believe that a raw diet keeps the body more alkaline, which allows blood to absorb more oxygen.  We’ll delve deeper into the differences between alkaline and acid foods on Friday’s post, but for now, we’re simply talking raw–for which there is a another difference–vegan (no meat or dairy) and simply raw (uncooked).

Me?  I’m no vegan.  I adore sushi and feel nothing goes better with yogurt than blueberries, so this menu of mine will include fish and dairy options.  Can anyone say ceviche?  One of my favorite words.  Besides, according to the dictionary, raw is defined as uncooked, not refined or processed.  I’d say we’re good to go!

Okay, now that you’re excited and your appetite’s tuned in, what else are we going to eat, besides glorious bowlfulls of sashimi and ceviche?  

Ah…  You’ve come to the right place.  The following is a sample menu offering suggestions for a full week’s worth of meals.  These are all gourmet delicacies in some form or fashion–or someone’s opinion, I should say–and have one thing in common:  they’re delicious!  Taste was an absolute pre-requisite for this undertaking set forth (in stone) by my husband.  And we do want to keep him happy, so after a thorough search of the internet, here’s the list:

Shall we start with dessert?  Always my first choice.  I don’t know about you, but calculating how much room you need to leave for dessert allows for efficient meal management at my house.

Nudie Foodie offers this decadent recipe for Chocolate Mousse and with your eyes closed, you’d never know the difference between this and traditionally made.  She makes a mean Coconut Cream Pie, too.  Uncooking 101 has a list of gorgeous dessert items, like this Swiss Apricot Tart and Caramel Fudge Brownies.  Prefer cookies?  How about taking a look at this Chocolate Chip recipe–it’s totally vegan.  Lemony Cheesecake anyone?  Simple fresh berries and whipped cream are always nice–just keep your cream organic and as natural as possible. 

For dinner, your options are equally tasty.  For easy solutions, salads are obviously your best bet.  No prep, no time, 100% healthy and raw.  But what if your family demands more?  (After you give them the “eye” and mini-lecture about all you do for them), offer some of these delicious alternatives:

Lasagna, Zucchini Alfredo, Eggplant Ravioli, Spinach Manicotti  — Of course I started with Italian because I’m a Venettacci.  While these are somewhat involved, an easier method for achieving the coveted Italian flavor would be to Julienne your zucchini/squash (aka “raw” pasta) and smother it with a combination of crushed tomato, minced garlic, chopped onion, basil and olive oil. 

Tired of same old-same old?  How about some garden variety pesto?  Traditional pesto is made by combining (grounding to smithereens) basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic cloves, Parmesan and olive oil, but Southern Living magazine offers some wonderful spins on this classic–excellent alternatives for your “pasta” dishes. 

Not a fan of pasta?  Check out these recipes for Meatloaf, Chili and BBQ over at Awesome to be Rawesome!  In addition to these “meat” plates, they have a ton more recipes to choose from.  I do like a smorgasboard of options, don’t you?

Cold soups and salsa are a delightful way to consume your food raw, from my simple cucumber soup to this fancy gazpacho, you’ll enjoy every spoonful.  In fact, I plan to use my Cuisinart every day of this challenge to create carrot soup flavored with turmeric & ginger (discovered my kids like this combination), homemade humus and a spicy red pepper drizzle for my ceviche, compete with fresh avocado sides.   Mmmm…  Add a little black bean & mango salsa and lo and behold–it’s Carribbean night!  Pineapple, papaya…both would make wonderful variations.

I’ll bet you can’t WAIT to begin.  Well  hold on to your hat straps because we haven’t even discussed breakfast–the most important meal of the day!  Which is a tough one for me.  Unfortunately, my children do not eat anything remotely resembling fresh, raw and healthy for breakfast.  While I won’t go into the (embarrassing) details, let’s just put it this way:  this will be a tough sell in my household. 

However, smoothies of all flavors make for the perfect solution.  Blending berries, bananas and yogurt together will provide a healthy start for my kids and I’ve since learned, a great way to hide spinach.  Oh, yes…  If you opt for the darker shade of blueberries, the little ones will scarcely notice the color difference when blended together.  For more morning options, you might be interested in perusing the menu over at The Best of Raw Food.   As for my breakfast, I’ll stick with berries and yogurt topped with a bit of raw granola.

So there you have it.  With a plethora of choice at your keyboard fingertips, there’s NO excuse not to give the raw diet a whirl.  While we’ve offered a few suggestions, the websites above contain so many more delicious and nutritious recipes, you’ll eat to your heart’s content.  You’ll feel magnificent, look magnificent and who knows?  You might even go raw for good. 

Challenge begins June 13th, so get those shopping lists together and scour your local health food stores.  As you may have noticed, some of the “secret” ingredients to divine raw dining may not be available at your regular supermarket. 

Remember:  we want to hear about your experiences as we go raw together–so please, stop back and DO share! 🙂