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Avocado Love

I grew up surrounded by avocado trees.  There were seventy-five of them on our heavenly acre of orchard in Santa Barbara, California.  I’m told avocados were my first solid food – and believe me, it was love at first bite!  These friendly fat fruits are a mainstay of my diet and belong on the top shelf of any raw pantry.  In Dan’s and my new book, Raw Food for Dummies, I cover all sorts of information about avocados as well as some fabulous recipes, two of which are reproduced here.  Avocados have so many health benefits; the fact that they’re so delicious is almost a side note to why we should eat them.  But – like so much else on our beautiful planet – they make healthy living delicious!

The typical avocado is about 250 calories, 75% of which are fat calories.  But wait – almost all of an avocado’s fat is monounsaturated – the kind we need to process the other less desirable kinds.  In fact, avocados are proven to decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (helpful cholesterol).  Did you know avocados have more potassium than bananas do? And extracts of avocado are being researched as aiding in the reversal of hypertension and diabetes mellitus.  And a new study out of Japan suggests that avocados may have an antibacterial component.  Avocados are truly amazing.  Here is one of my favorite avocado recipes (also featured on page 128 of Raw Food for Dummies, along with easy to follow instructions on how to pit and peel them):Vitality Soup

Vitality Soup

Yield: 2 servings

1 cup orange juice

2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or other dark leafy greens

1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped

1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, basil, or dill weed

1 tablespoon light miso

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic, crushed (1 clove)

1⁄2 green onion, chopped

1⁄2 avocado, peeled and pitted

Filtered water as needed for desired consistency

1 Combine the orange juice, kale, cucumber, herbs, miso, lemon juice, garlic, and green onion. Blend the mixture until smooth.

2 Add the avocado and blend again — no more than 1 minute — until smooth.

The avocado originates in Mexico, the earliest reference to which dates around 10,000 BC.  The avocado tree also has a long history of cultivation in both Central and South America, with an avocado shaped urn found near the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan dating from 900 AD.  The domesticated avocado tree we know today is descended from these ancient roots and provides us with this irresistible treat.  Beside being a creamy, delicious alternative to dairy foods like sour cream and butter, not to mention making a wonderful base for chocolaty raw treats, the avocado is perhaps best know for its place in south of the border style cuisine.  One of my favorite avocado recipes of this sort is Avocado-Pineapple Salsa found in Raw Food for Dummies on page 198:

Avocado-Pineapple Salsa-7450Avocado-Pineapple Salsa

Yield: 3 servings

 1⁄2 cup diced pineapple

2 Roma tomatoes, finely diced

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes

1⁄2 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced cucumber

1⁄4 cup packed chopped cilantro

1 green onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1⁄2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1 1⁄2 teaspoons lime juice

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix.

Avocados are so special to me.  My history with them is so close to my heart when I remember mycherie and fred childhood and my father’s avocado trees.  And I love all the ways I can incorporate them – my first food – into so many delicious raw dishes.  Avocados are so satisfying and such a sensual food.  They are truly one of the best, most comforting and healthy things we get to keep with us as we embark on our raw journey.  Enjoy!

Touring in the Raw

collageI’m so excited about the way this year is shaping up for Dan and me.  Our new book Raw Food for Dummies has been so well received by the raw community, not to mention a curious public.  I’m so proud of this accomplishment!  So now, of course, I want to share it with everyone – and that means a tour!  Dan and I will be doing lots of traveling this year – putting into practice Chapter 19 in the book: “Eating Raw on the Go”.

Many people who are new to raw feel intimidated by eating out.  But that’s not necessary.  Part of RawRocksthe fun of travel is experiencing different places and people – things you’re sure to miss if you insist upon eating self prepared raw meals in your hotel room.  These days, it’s easy to find vegetarian, if not vegan, options when eating out.  And you can make it even easier with the help of online resources like Yelp or Happy Cow.  If you still can’t seem to find anything specific, remember – just about every restaurant has a salad on the menu and often has yummy raw appetizers like guacamole, which could be ordered with veggie sticks rather than chips.  Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.  Chefs are used to tailoring their menu items to allow for food allergies, etc.  Cutting up a few vegetables shouldn’t be an issue.

kale chipsOf course, most of the places Dan and I are going on our tour this year are pretty raw friendly.  For example, our first stop is the Raw Living Expo in Sedona, Arizona where I’ll be giving the keynote address.  Obviously we won’t have any trouble eating raw there.  But – no matter how wonderfully raw your destination might be, traveling is unpredictable.  To be prepared for delays and other unplanned events, Dan and I like to bring portable snacks along.  These raw treats will tide us over between destinations if need be.  One of our favorites is flavored kale chips.  These high energy snacks are so delicious and satisfying – they make the perfect snack on the go.  There are lots of prepackaged varieties commercially available today in lots of delicious flavors.  But – you can make your own.  I’ve included a great recipe for Nacho Cheese Kale Chips on page 272 of Raw Food for Dummies.  Enjoy – and happy raw travels!

Release by Cherie Soria

EatSmart (2)My husband Dan and I are so excited our new book Raw Food For Dummies, which was  released on December 12th . When Wiley Publishing first approached us about doing a book, I admit I was hesitant.  I wasn’t familiar with the “Dummies” books and didn’t like the connotation of the word, “dummies.” But once we started reading Dummies books, we realized why they are so popular! These books are not for Dummies! They are for smart, busy people who want to learn as much as they can in the shortest possible time. They are filled with facts that are readable and empowering. Once we decided to do the book, we had to dig deep to remember what it was like for us when we started on our individual raw food paths, so we could capture not only where we are now, but where we started from.

No matter where you are on your raw journey, there will be something in this book you can use.  It was good for Dan and I to get back to the basics and it’ll be good for you, too. As raw food enthusiasts, we need to support one another and sometimes, the most supportive things are the things we tend to take for granted once we’ve been raw for a while. That’s why, in addition to great recipes and food preparation tips, we included important information about what raw food is and what the benefits are; how cooking harms food; which foods are harmed most and which are harmed least. We shared things like how to set-up your raw food kitchen, how to shop, and how to plan menus. We even included how to connect with other raw food enthusiasts and of course, I shared my techniques for making raw food for cooked food lovers!

With a book of this magnitude and its potential to reach so many peopled new to raw foods, we haddan and cherie to make each word count. The tips, the recipes, the practical strategies are all based on our years of experience. None of these recipes are experiments concocted just for this book. Dan and I have been eating this way for decades and  have helped thousands of others “go raw” successfully and deliciously. We were new to raw once, too, and we know the pitfalls and challenges that can come up for the newly raw. We’re confident that this book will equip anyone to begin their raw journey well prepared. Our combined years of experience “walking the walk” make us excellent guides.

.As we look back on all the work we put into this book, we realize what an honor it was to work together to create this culmination of our knowledge and experience. And we couldn’t have done it without the dedicated support of our staff at Living Light. What a team! I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished together and can’t wait for all of you to see it. We think you’ll be as pleased with it as we are!

Creamy Red Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup with Coconut Yogurt

  

My father’s parents were both born in Mexico in the state of Guanajuato, where much of the best farmland in Mexico is located. It’s no wonder they chose Santa Barbara, California when they  immigrated to the U.S. The weather in Santa Barbara is ideal for gardening and growing fruit trees like citrus, avocados, figs, and even bananas. When I was a child we picked our own almonds, walnuts, and olives. I loved going out to the garden and gathering fresh tomatoes and sweet bell peppers and eating them on the spot. We grew the best hot chili peppers, sweet onions and fresh herbs, as well as other wonderful seasonal fruits and veggies. I’m so grateful that I came from a family that appreciated the gifts of the garden – we never wasted food and (as my staff and students will attest) I make the most of our beautiful organic produce and what can not be used to prepare food,  made into crackers or juice, is composted.

Having grown up with Mexican cuisine, I have an affinity for it, but based on years of creating foods with a high degree of general public appeal, I believe it is also one of the most favored cuisines in the world. Mexican cuisine blends spices and herbs beautifully using contrasting flavors and textures that are both stimulating and harmonious.

Here is a great example of a spicy Mexican style soup that reminds me of my childhood. I first prepared it for the 2011 Living LIght Hot Chefs Cool Kitchen Raw Chef Showcase and it was a HUGE hit! I served it slightly warm, but it can be enjoyed either warmed in a deydrator or chiled.  I sometimes garnish it with coconut yogurt, so I included that recipe for you, too.

The video showing step by step how to make both my Red Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup and Jalapeño Onion Corn Bread, as well as all the other great videos from the Chef Showcase, are available at  http://hotchefscoolkitchen.com/

Creamy Red Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup

Creamy Red Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup with Coconut Yogurt

Yield: 8 cups (6-8 servings)

  •   1 cup cashews, soaked for 1-2 hours
  • 4 cups water (plus one additional cup, if needed)
  • 2 cups red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 smoked chipotle pepper, soaked for 1 hour
  • 1 tablespoon light miso
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Himalayan crystal saltRed Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup with Cashew Sour Cream and Corn Bread
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • Optional garnishes, as pictured:
  • ½ cup Coconut Yogurt (see recipe, below)
  • chives
  • bell pepper confetti
  • thin strips of young coconut

    Cherie's favorite high performance blender

  • chili oil

1. In a high performance blender, combine soaked cashews with 2 cups of the water and blend until creamy.

2. Add chopped bell peppers, soaked chipotle pepper, light miso, salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, regular and smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and white pepper and blend thoroughly.

3. Add the peeled, seeded tomatoes, and 2 more cups of the remaining water and blend again.

4. Add additional water, if needed, to achieve the desired consistency — it should be creamy, like sour cream, but not overly thick.

5. Adjust salt, if needed. Serve will a dollop of Coconut Yogurt (see recipe, below) and Jalapeño Onion Corn Bread (see myJalapeño Onion Corn Bread Blog, posted March 30).

Coconut Yogurt

  • 2 cups young (immature) coconut meat
  • 1 cup of water
  • ¼ teaspoon probiotic powder

1. Blend the coconut meat, water and probiotic in a high-powered blender, adding more water if necessary to achieve a smooth, creamy texture.

2. Select a pint-size (or larger) glass jar and place it in a warm (not hot) location to ferment for 8 to 12 hours. (Less fermentation time is required in warmer weather).

3. After the yogurt has fermented to suit your taste, it may be stored in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Note:  If yogurt is not tart enough, add 2-3 tablespoons or more of lemon juice per cup.

Jalapeño Onion Corn Bread

 The 2011 Living Light Hot Chefs Cool Kitchen Raw Chef Showcase was an amazing event with 12 of the world’s top raw food chefs strutting their stuff; sharing their latest-greatest recipes with attendees.  It was all captured on camera and the videos are still available online at RawFoodChef.com

One of the recipes I shared at the showcase that was extremely popular with participants was my Jalapeño Onion Corn Bread, which I served with Red Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup (recipe coming soon). This duo of comfort foods was such a hit that, after sampling it, the attendees flocked into the Living Light Cafe and the dynamic duo sold out in 15 minutes!  The secret to this recipe is the freeze dried corn, which is ground into flour using a spice grinder. This is one of my favorite new products  and once I discovered it, my mind immediately went to all the foods I could incorporated it into: tamales, corn fritters, corn cakes, and the list goes on! Another of my favorite new ingredients used in this recipe is Almond Flour by by Divine Organics. Use it in muffins, burgers, cakes, cookies and anywhere you want a flour substitute.

If you are interested in viewing the video showing step by step how to make both the Jalapeño Onion Corn Bread and my Red Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup, as well as all the other great videos from the Chef Showcase, go to http://hotchefscoolkitchen.com/.

Jalapeño Onion Corn BreadCorn Bread with Red Bell Pepper Chipotle Soup

Yields 16 pieces (Serves 8)

4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 cups freeze dried corn, ground using a spice grinder or blender

2 cups white almond flourJust Corn Divine Organics Almond Flour

½ cup coconut butter, warm to soften

½ cup warm water

1 tablespoon Himalayan crystal salt

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ cup onion, minced, rinsed, and towel blotted

1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced

1. Put fresh and ground freeze dried corn, almonds flour, soft coconut butter, warm water, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth.

2. Add the minced onions and jalapeño to the food processor and pulse briefly, just to mix. Do not puree.

3. Spread the batter onto a 16–x 16–inch dehydrator tray covered with a nonstick sheet. Spread the batter about ½-inch thick.  Using a dull knife or spatula, score the batter 4”x 4” to form 16 squares.

4. Dehydrate at 125 degrees for 1 hour. Flip the bread and remove nonstick sheet. Reduce the temperature to 105 degrees and dehydrate for another 4-6 hours or until bread is pliable but easy to handle without falling apart.  Serve warm with coconut butter or other spread of choice.

5. Allow to cool thoroughly before storing in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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