“Rawesome” Meetup at Leafy Greens Cafe.
“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.”
Alfred E. Newman.
Recently my friend and I decided to join a raw food meetup. We wanted to broaden our knowledge on healthy eating, meet like-minded people and share our experiences. Long before I developed interest in healthier nutrition, I thought of vegetarianism/veganism or raw foodism as of some extreme form of abstinence! As I started eating more fruits and vegetables, reading more on the topic, discovering new recipes, I got ashamed of my thinking. Really, ignorance is, in first turn, lack of knowledge. There is no final destination on this route. Now I look at it as a way of enjoying food, opening new tastes, and definitely not deprivation, or food abstinence. One myth about raw is that they eat their food cold. It can actually be cooked to a temperature less than 40°C (104°F) to 46°C (115°F). They just believe that foods cooked above these temperatures lose much of their nutritional value and sometimes can become harmful to the bodies.
So, we found a meetup group online http://www.meetup.com/LeafyGreens/, and looked forward to our first meeting at the end of January. The host of the event, Denise, is the owner of Leafy Greens Cafe in St Petersburg, FL, where the meetup took place. The meetup is held last Sunday of each month in a form of a potluck. Each member should bring a raw dish of his own. The entry fee is $1 per person. The value is priceless! Not only do you get a chance to meet health-conscious people, but also you get to taste different dishes from other raw foodists. You do not really have “to cook” your dish – as long as it is 100% vegan raw, you are fine! You may find an impressive recipe online and wow the group. Our visit was memorable as the food choice was ‘rawesome’, and although first-timers, we felt quite welcome! We met interesting people and sampled a variety of delicious raw dishes, from chilled soup to desserts. There were neither arguments about diets, nor criticism, but rather an exchange of opinions and experiences.
I was not going to take photos first as I wanted to enjoy the experience, the food and relax. Then I realized it would be selfish if I did not share this experience with my readership. So, please forgive me for the lack of photos of dishes. I make it up by providing some of the recipes presented at the meetup. They were kindly shared by the participants, and I express my gratitude for such sharing. All credits to the creators! Since no cooking is required, these recipes can be made by anyone and enjoyed by everyone! You will only need a blender/food processor for some recipes (which you probably already have).
Butternut Squash Chilled Soup.
Thanks to Shevy for providing this delicious recipe! It will come in handy on hot Florida days!
- 3 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped.
- 4 cups orange juice. Freshly squeezed is the best but the regular one comes out great, too.
- 1/2 cup dates OR honey. (The one we tried at the meetup was with dates – yummy!)
- 1 mango.
- 2 teaspoons curry.
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
- 1 plantain or banana, sliced.
- 1/2 cup chopped mint.
- 1 mango sliced into cubes.
- minced jalapeño.
Chill in the fridge before serving. Serve in cups/clear glasses or small bowls. Enjoy!
Next is a raw recipe from Joan. She has worked as a Registered Nurse for 26 years, and now is a Certified Health Coach. You may wish to check her websites for more useful health-related information and to get a free nutrition book: http://www.suncoastnaturalhealing.com/. Also: http://www.snhealing.com/.
Raw “Fried” Rice.
- 1 head cauliflower shredded to look like rice.
- 1 red pepper.
- 1 yellow pepper.
- 2 carrots.
- 1 cucumber.
- 1/2 red onion.
- 2 tomatoes.
- broccoli florets.
- bunch of cilantro.
- bunch of fresh mint.
- sesame oil, about 1 tablespoon.
- olive oil, about 1 teaspoon.
- sea salt and pepper to taste.
All ingredients are put into food processor and diced small. The oil is drizzled on top and mixed in.
Thank you, Joan, for sharing this refreshing dish and the recipe with us!
One of the wow dishes was undoubtedly avocado mousse. It was brought by Julianne, a Certified Holistic Health Coach and a Fitness Advisor. You may find more recipes and sign up for a 50-minute free consultation on her website http://greenersidewellness.com/.
Avocado Chocolate Mousse.
- 1/4 cup pitted Medjool dates (or any kind dates). You can also substitute raisins for dates.
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup.
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.
- 3/4 cup mashed avocados (about 1 1/2 avocados).
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or carob powder.
- 1/4 cup water.
Soak the dates in water for at least 15 minutes. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a food processor. Give it a good spin, then add the last two ingredients. You may need to add the cocoa in a little bit at a time. Enjoy!
Thank you, Julianne, for sharing this yummy mousse recipe. This is a great dish to impress your guests at the party!
There was one more delicious raw dessert that disappeared in seconds! It was brought in by my friend Sabina, and this was banana ‘Raffaello’, which I re-named into RAWffaello. I know that not all even managed to sample it! Now is the chance to do so, especially that it is very easy to make and very impressive to present.
- 2 bananas.
- 1 cup almonds.
- coconut flakes.
- vanilla extract.
Select ripe bananas for this recipe, but not overripe ones. Peel them and blend them in a processor into a puree. Use almonds without skin. To remove it, soak almonds with skin in cold water for an hour. Then peel the skin off, and blend almonds in the processor. Combine almond puree with banana puree, add vanilla and mix well. Make balls out of this mixture, and dip them in coconut flakes. You can also place a whole almond inside of these balls (before dipping in coconut flakes). Enjoy!
One more dish from Sabina.
Cabbage Apple Salad.
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups packed shredded red cabbage (or Napa cabbage)
- 2 cups thinly sliced Granny Smith apple
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, plumped in hot water
- 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
1. Whisk together first 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil, salt, and pepper; set aside.
2. Toss cabbage together in a large serving bowl. Toss apple slices with lemon juice to keep from browning.
3. Add apple, raisins, and half the sunflower (or pumpkin) seeds to cabbage. Toss with the dressing. Garnish servings with remaining seeds.
We also enjoyed sesame coleslaw from Julie and crunchy cucumber salad from Jerry. Thank you, guys, for sharing your raw recipes with us!
- 1/2 red cabbage.
- 2 carrots.
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil.
- 3 tablespoon honey.
- juice of 1/2 lemon.
- salt/pepper to taste.
Shred carrots and cabbage, using food processor. Mix carrots and cabbage together in a bowl. Add sesame oil, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix together until the slaw is coated. Enjoy!
Crunchy Cucumber Salad.
- 3 cucumbers, peeled, de-seeded and chopped.
- 2 tomatoes, chopped.
- orange segments, pulled apart and may be cut in half.
- 1/4 cup orange juice.
- dill weed, fresh, cut up into small pieces. Or dry flakes.
Add cucumber, tomato and orange segments in a bowl. Make dressing by blending orange juice and dill together. If you want thicker sauce, blend the whole orange instead of juicing it. Enjoy!
I brought a raw vegan version of one of my favorite salads. I often make it with sour-cream at home, but it tastes great just with regular olive oil, too.
Radish and cucumber salad.
- 2 avocados, scooped.
- 4 small to medium cucumbers (better European, seedless), peeled, chopped.
- 6-8 small to medium European radishes, chopped.
- scallions (green onion), chopped. Chives would do, too.
- pine nuts.
- fresh dill weed, chopped.
- lemon juice to taste.
- salt and pepper to taste.
(You can also add chopped raw cauliflower and cherry tomatoes.)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, sprinkle with oil, lemon juice, add salt and pepper to taste. Best enjoyed right after preparing.
One of the members present at the meetup was Michael, the creator of the amazing product, Chunks of Energy. It is actually a variety of energy powerful super foods, raw, organic, vegan, gluten-free, made of nuts, dried fruits and other high quality ingredients. It all started with spirulina powder and carob powder as powerful ingredients, that inspired the creator. Michael has been working for many years in natural foods businesses. As a result, he created a product, that is successfully selling in many health stores, like WholeFoods and Rollin’ Oats (in Tampa and St Petersburg, FL). Chunks of Energy can be found in bulk bins, which is very convenient when you are trying the product for the first time. You can also get them online from either of these websites:
https://chunksofenergy.com/ and www.nuts.com. It was my pleasure to meet Michael in person. He is very passionate about healthy food, and you can read more interesting facts about his diet and his life on his website https://chunksofenergy.com/. If you are looking to quickly boost your energy without harmful chemicals, or just need a healthy snack or dessert, you are destined to love his chunks of energy. They taste great and make a perfect alternative to cookies or energy bars.
I would like to thank all ‘rawmazing’ people, who contributed to this post! I had a lot of fun meeting motivated health-conscious people. Be healthy and happy! If you like what you have read, please share it!
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