Thursday, March 10, 2011

Divine Vegan Lasagna

I admit that when I decided to give up dairy I figured that meant a fond farewell to lasagna. I'm no Garfield the cat, but I had just discovered a delicious vegetarian lasagna recipe and I was sad to think I'd never get to use it again. As I began exploring raw and vegan recipes, however, I realized that a vegan lasagna was not only possible, but that it had the potential to be seriously yummy. I combined three online recipes (two of which you can find here and here) to come up with this (click for full view or to print):

You'll notice that the above recipe refers to the below recipe (which is the same amazing cheese sauce I put on my macaroni and cheese):

Now, this is not one of those 30 minute recipes, so be forewarned. I recommend making the pignoli ricotta and cutting up the vegetables in advance, and doubling the recipe so you can have one to bake and one to freeze for another night.

Here are the ingredients for the pignoli ricotta just before blending.

I don't think the velvety vegan cheese would do so well if prepared in advance, so get your potatoes and carrots simmering before you start the noodles.

I used a combination of organic and whole grain lasagna noodles.

I find that shredding the carrots makes for a nicer texture in the lasagna.

The same goes for the broccoli--use little or none of the stalks and chop the florets finely.

The first layer: ricotta/veggie mix.

Drizzle the velvety vegan cheese over the pasta sauce.

For the final layer, I spread the cheese sauce after drizzling and sprinkled some basil and oregano on top.

Fresh out of the oven!

Matt made a fruit salad to compliment the lasagna: apple, nectarine, mango, strawberries, banana, and grapes.

I wish you could SMELL it, because it smells divine. Matt and I loved it, and I made good use of the leftovers for work the following week. But what did the kids think, you might wonder?

That's all, folks!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I can't believe it's VEGAN Macaroni & "Cheese"!

So, what do you do when you are trying to transition your children to a mostly Vegan diet and they are obsessed with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese? This is what you do, my friends. You make THIS:

How is this amazingly cheesy VEGAN dish possible, you ask? I found the recipe here, and made a few small modifications as follows:

Vegan Macaroni & “Cheese”

Serves 6
What You Need:
pinch of sea salt
8 ounces whole grain macaroni or pasta of any shape

“Cheese” Sauce:
1 shallot or 1/4 onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/4 red bell pepper, cut in large chunks
1 cup red or gold potatoes (1 to 1.5 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into large chunks
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 clove garlic
1 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup raw cashews (or tahini)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
⅓ cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

What You Do:
Add shallots/onion, peppers, potatoes, carrots, garlic and water to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
While the vegetables are simmering, bring the water and salt to a boil in a large pot. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta (do not rinse) and set aside with the lid on to keep pasta warm.
Process the cashews, salt, garlic, coconut oil, mustard, lemon juice and black pepper in a blender or food processor. Drain water from softened vegetables and add to blender along with ½ cup almond milk; process until perfectly smooth (use Soup button if you have a Blendtec).
In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Serve immediately.
Witness the velvety texture of the "cheese" sauce--reminds me of Velveeta Shells and Cheese. The coconut oil gives it a creamy texture and a rich aroma. Does it taste exactly like the boxed variety? No. It tastes BETTER. At least, to me. It was the first cooked meal I've eaten in nearly three weeks, and it was really rather delicious. But I was not making it to convince MYSELF. What did the boys think? Well, my pickiest eater (and greatest Mac'N'Cheese lover) gave it his stamp of approval.

Owen had a second helping, Bentley had thirds, and you can't argue with an empty plate.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Food Matters

Okay, so if you are wracking your brain, trying to figure out WHY ON EARTH we would change our eating habits so drastically (and you don't have time to read The China Study just now)--watch this documentary! It's on Netflix, if you have that.

It's called Food Matters, and you can view the trailer here on the official website.

Please comment and let me know what you think!

Shopping to Stock a Raw Pantry

So, if you want to convert your family to a mostly raw vegan diet, what do you throw out? And what do you keep? And what do you BUY? Well, we hardly have all the answers to this. But we made a start. First, I chucked out all of the meat and most of the dairy (my kids are dairy addicts, so we're going slow on that one for now) and got rid of most of our processed and refined foods (including vegetable oil). Then we went shopping. All of the following came from Good Earth Natural Foods and Costco. We still need to make a trip to Sunflower Market to see what they have to offer.

Owen and Charlie pose with the lot!

Yes, my friends, there IS raw salad dressing.

An overview. The box is stuffed with bananas from Costco. You may also notice a bag of Bosc pears, a pineapple, avocado, honeydew, cantaloupe, kiwis, blackberries, a massive bag of raw spinach, raw almonds, raw mixed nuts, and various pantry items including raw cacao powder.

This will be raw ice cream as soon as I get my turbo blender! You may recognize a young thai coconut and some caramel agave nectar (rice milk has been added to make it creamy). I am also excited to make a raw mint chocolate chip ice cream with mint leaves and cacao nibs. Yum!

As quoted here, Celtic Sea Salt is naturally moist salt harvested from the Atlantic seawater off the coast of Brittany, France. This type of salt are harvested using the Celtic method of wooden rakes allowing no metal to touch the salt. It is naturally air and sun-dried in clay ponds and gathered with wooden tools to preserve its living enzymes. Because it is unrefined, it contains all of the 84 beneficial live elements found in sea water, with no chemical and preservatives nor any other additives. We're gonna give it a go!

This right here is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich waiting to happen. The bread and jelly are not raw, but they are free of refined ingredients, sugar, and animal products.

Owen loves him some fresh berries!

A couple of extras to put in your green smoothie. The flax oil provides healthy fat to help metabolize your greens. The Liquid Light is something I won at a green smoothie demo--I think this bottle retails for around $40! But it adds amazing natural minerals.

I threw SO MUCH junk away when I cleaned out my freezer. The only really naughty thing left is the frozen quesadillas, but they were only overlooked because at the time I did the cleaning Matt hadn't decided to go raw yet. The frozen berries are for the smoothies, of course!

These are not raw, but as far as crackers go they are pretty good for you. Unprocessed and unrefined with a lot of grains and seeds. We bought this humongo bag at Costco.

Both of my younger boys are dairy addicts, so we are trying to wean them from cow's milk onto almond milk. Charlie models the regular variety here. It is made from raw almonds and water, and personally, I like it better than dairy milk.

Bentley is IN LOVE with this delicious dark chocolate almond milk! As soon as we get our turbo blender we'll be able to make this from scratch!

So, I have always insisted that I don't like avocados. I can't remember the last time I actually TRIED one, however. So here goes nothin'.

Tahini is a sesame seed paste used in many raw recipes, and Agave is a supersweet natural cactus nectar with a low glycemic index (it doesn't impact your blood sugar like refined sugar does). Many raw vegan dessert recipes include Agave.

So, there you have it. Our first major raw vegan shopping trip. We happened to be at Costco when a demonstration for the Blendtec turbo blender was going on, and it is AMAZING! We have ordered one through a friend that was able to get us a discount, and I can't wait to use it! The guy doing the demo made us a green smoothie, delicious amazing raw tortilla soup, and raw vegan ice cream with a handful of spinach in it (you couldn't taste the spinach, it was delish!).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Raw Ice Cream!

So, if you are thinking I am going to give up ice cream, you're wrong. I was extremely surprised, and even more pleased, to find that there is a wealth of raw ice cream recipes! Ice cream that is dairy free, sugar free, completely raw (no part of it cooked at any point), with no processed or refined ingredients--yet tastes delicious? How can this be, you ask? Check out some great recipes here:

100% Raw Vegan Ice Cream

Name That Blog

So, for those of you who are wondering about the name of the blog, here's the story. All of you know how much I love Watership Down, right? It occurred to me that the raw food diet is basically rabbit food! The rabbit language in Watership Down is called Lapine. So, in rabbit-speak, the word for food is "flay," the word that means to go up out of the burrow to graze is "silflay," and the word for king or prince is "Rah." Thus, the title of this blog is Lapine for "Emerge from under the ground and eat the King of all foods." It also doesn't hurt that the word "Rah" sounds exactly the same as the word "raw." So, the header shows Matt, myself, and our three little bunnies, enjoying silflay in the excellent green grasses of the Down. The background image (maximize your browser to see the whole thing) is a photograph of the real Watership Down in Hampshire, England.

Ground Breaking

Hello, dearest folks! I have created this blog to allow those of you who are interested to follow along with our exploration of the raw food diet. Now, before you get concerned, this isn't a "diet" in the commercial sense of the word. It's not temporary--it's a lifestyle change we are endeavoring to make. Please check out the links in the sidebar to learn more about plant-based diets and why they are so good for humans. If you are intrigued, confused--or even skeptical--please follow along so you can understand a little bit about what we are doing, and why. Much love to all of you!