This year will mark my 23rd "veganniversary", and also my 7th full calendar year of maintaining an entirely raw diet.

Over the course of time since having begun my transition into veganism in 1990, I have periodically chosen to alter my lifestyle in various ways for different reasons (which is essentially how I evolved to eliminate gluten, refined sugar, cooked, and acid forming foods from my diet). I am not actually a devotee of the lfrv ideology (especially not since having been injured rather severely), though for quite a long period of time I was largely adherent to an Ahimsa (entirely vegan, no roots, bulbs, mechanically harvested grains, and very few seeds/nuts or stalks), and grew around 90% of my own food whilst sourcing the remaining 10% or so directly from organic/veganic growers.
Essentially, I was mainly fruitarian for reasons relating to concern for other species, spiritual growth, and environmental concerns (as opposed to personal health or fitness goals). As a student of theology and Interfaith cleric I participate in numerous spiritual observances, which also affects my dietary intake rather dramatically at times.

Over time I have also learned how profoundly certain foods and dietary alterations can affect the body/mind/spirit and also one's ability to shift/transform/adapt to any/all new situations and circumstances. Long periods of fasting are generally quite common for me, and I would normally have transitioned into a full-on water fast for the entire 40 days had I simply less work to do in my garden and continuing to heal/rehabilitate my physical body during this time.

My decision to eliminate tree nuts at this time is partially due to my inclination toward returning to a largely Ahimsa lifestyle, though I have really only pledged to abstain from eating nuts (& roots/bulbs) for 40 days of Lenten fasting.
As I'm still healing/rehabilitating from an injury, working on a culinary book, instructing and distributing food on behalf of Lorax Community, a 40 day water fast was deemed unwise at this time by my nutritionists. As such, I've simply chosen a single group element of my daily food intake from which I could probably use a "time out" & spend time focusing on working with other things.
My decision is also somewhat related to a mild allergic reaction I have occasionally encountered when eating various tree nuts, which caused my gums to become very sensitive and painful (sometimes to the point where I felt as if my teeth would fall out). Although I have not experienced this to any severe degree since having become more educated about the cause of this reaction (too much L-Arginine) and subsequently given up cooked food, I actually did find myself dealing with it on a milder level two weeks or so ago. I immediately began supplementing my diet to fix the issue, but a total fast from tree nuts for awhile (followed by gradual reimplementation of the more alkaline varieties) back into the diet is really the best way to go.

Never fear, as certain nuts are likely to reappear in my life/repertoire just after Pesach.
 In fact, there's an enormous 3lbs of amazing macadamia goodness from Calimac Nut Company just waiting to be transformed into some new "cheese" recipes around that time... ;-)

So that's my rather lengthy personal reasoning for abstinence from tree nuts. I realise that my explanation is likely very different from any other one has received (or will likely receive in future), but I wanted to explain properly and sincerely hope that others may be able to find something useful within my epic explanation.

Hot Chocolate Pudding

Happy Lunar New Year!

Since I rarely eat sweets (or post recipes for such), I thought I might mix things up a bit with a special treat for my readers. In this entry I will be combining a rare raw dessert recipe with reviews and links for some great products which are available now and should absolutely not be missed. All of the items mentioned and linked from this article are things used in the recipes, right down to the letter. Since I have worked hard to find the best organic produce available anywhere at the absolute best prices, I decided to share those links (which may also be found on the right-hand side of this blog under "suppliers") as well. Here we go!

After ages of considering doing so (and subsequently putting it off), I finally got around to trying Sunwarrior's raw vegan vanilla protein powder just about a week ago. My review can be summed up in one simple word:

I immediately noticed the fine consistency and intoxicating vanilla-esque aroma upon first encounter with this product. Wow. Seriously? Most protein powders carry a hint of aroma of the flavour they claim to deliver, but generally miss the mark when it comes to really through when it comes to fulfilling that promise. I have tried so many vegan (and raw vegan, in recent years) protein powders within my lifetime, and have not once come across one with flavour intensity such as I have discovered in Sunwarrior. In fact, considering how unpalatable, bland, and middle of the road I have found so many products in the past, I still cannot believe how much I liked it.

This stuff is seriously good! Normally, I really can't stand the consistency protein powders, as they generally taste quite powder-ish even after having been blended with fruit, plant milks, water, whatever. This incredibly flavourful, high quality beverage mix is exceptionally palatable and also works incredibly well for blending into non-beverage recipes - which is an endeavour I would never have previously attempted due to the powdery taste and mouth feel of nearly every other similar product I've found on the market to date.

The first thing I felt compelled to do with this stuff was to make was a "Creamsicle" blended drink with some oranges in the Vitamix. Basically, I blended a scoop of the Sunwarrior vanilla with two (local, organic) blood oranges (including a small amount of peel from one of them), a fresh date, pinch of Himalayan pink salt, and half a tray of ice. Perfect! Next, I felt like trying something a bit more creative and tried blending it with heavier fruits and another "powdery" product I also happen to like a lot: Gnosis Chocolate Elixir's "Mayan Heat" hot chocolate blend.
Please allow me to prelude any further details on formulation with a bit of background info on Gnosis Chocolate: This is absolutely the best raw chocolate company I have ever come across, and the amazing thing about my saying this is that I'm usually a fairly strict "standalone, fruit only" kinda raw vegan gal who generally has a strong aversion to prepared sweets.
Really? A girl who hates chocolate?
I know it sounds crazy, but we do exist.
I absolutely adore this company, not only because the owner/CEO is a sweetheart and an NYC neighbour with whom I instantly became friends upon having met (and exchanged treats to share); but because her raw cacao products are simply second to none as far as quality, flavour, and ethical sourcing are concerned.

During the holiday season I was gifted with a hot chocolate service set which perplexed me a bit at first, but essentially provided me with motivation to try the Gnosis Elixir line for the first time. I'm grateful for the inspiration, because this stuff is great!

Gnosis Chocolate Elixir (powdered raw cacao) is a delicious raw vegan indulgence which has been providing me with smooth and creamy results whenever blended with coconut milk. As such, I had a sneaking suspicion that despite the mixing of two powdered products together, there would be little to no chalky mouth feel to endure.

So the experiment went that I combined some Sunwarrior protein and a bit of Gnosis Chocolate Elixir in the Kitchen Aid food processor with some incredibly fresh, organic, farm-direct fruit and a bit of salt, gave them a spin on the blades, and...

A perfect blend of sweet and creamy deliciousness, prepared and ready to eat in minutes. 
I was so thrilled with the results of this delicious experiment, I felt compelled to post the above "food porn" along with a mini review on my Instagram account: 

"#RawVegan best of East meets West as NYC's @GnosisChocolate Elixir embraces @Sunwarrior's vanilla protein in heated passion with some of the most luscious fruits on Earth. Fuerte avocado and cherimoyas are two of the most succulent treats EVER, and I was blessed to have received an amazing delivery of both from the most incredible organic ranch in Fallbrook, CA.
Blended with a couple of killer fresh dates from the magical land of music known as Coachella (also in CA), along with a bit of cayenne, pinch of salt, and two of the most beloved vegan, raw food products from industry pioneers made this one of the most delicious and incredibly satisfying treats I can recall to date."

For my Lunar New Year celebration gathering, I decided to re-create the same treat with a slight variation: blood oranges and a little bit of the peel to create a spicy "orange chocolate" treat. I also used Gnosis Chocolate's Immunity Elixir (instead of the Mayan Heat - as I felt the slightly more exotic flavours would blend incredibly well with orange), all of which were blended together and served in little "bowls" made from peels of scooped blood oranges:

On Lunar New Year, oranges represent wealth, good fortune, and gold. I made these to bring delicious blessings to friends and family as part of our celebratory gathering. These were a hit, and I was proud to present this highly auspicious treat to my guests on this very special day.

As promised, here is my original recipe for "Hot Chocolate Pudding", featuring Sunwarrior's vanilla protein and Gnosis Chocolate Elixirs (please click to enlarge image/read recipe):

Happy Lunar New Year, and enjoy in good health! Ⓥ♡★

New Beginnings

Dear friends and fellow epicures,

Please forgive my extended absences, as I have been in transition.

It has indeed been quite some time since my last post, and after having been in the midst of what may best be labelled as a somewhat turbulent multi-point moving adventure, I have finally landed in peaceful situation (& point of constructive creativity).

It all began with a lengthy (and remarkably bizarre) journey over thousands of miles by way of surface travel, which was at times so darkly surreal that I prefer to avoid ever having to relive the experience again by word or any other form of detached reenactment. The initial conclusion of the arduous journey provided some brief reprieve from chaos, and allowed me a few days to appreciate what remained of the Winter Solstice holidays leading into Gregorian New Year. For this I was (and am still) abundantly grateful, despite the glaring inevitability of having to face returning to various aspects of everyday work/life after having taken more than a year's hiatus - whilst still in the process of healing amidst rather discordant circumstances & surroundings. The latter part of the previous statement refers to yet another series of events best left unsaid, yet an excellent experience in practical learning and faithful determination (despite the startling number of somewhat unsettling discoveries)...

Lesson learned? The Universe often works in mysterious ways, but nearly always presents valuable lessons along the way which should eventually put us back on track. For each obstacle one must manage to find the courage and will to overcome, there generally awaits some marvellous blessing in disguise. All of that having been said, I am now incredibly pleased to be able to greet my beloved readers once again from a place of grace and superlative gratitude. =)

Working to keep up with online endeavours as much as I am able, though doing so without Internet connection this has been a bit of a challenge. Not quite sure when (or if) I shall submit to the first world convenience of having such a connection installed in my new home, as I have been so functional in other ways without the distraction (and truly enjoying the solitude for which I had been praying for so long before having made this last relocation).

As such, I am presently in the process of settling in, organising, and redefining goals within my own comfort zone and personal sense of peace. Work has been resumed on the new website (thanks to my wonderful site admin), as well as composition of the eagerly awaited book-in-progress. Since I have also made a return to focus on my life's work of Community and spiritual service, my primary aspiration at present is to carefully address each aspect and encounter of everyday life with loving intention and peaceful perseverance.

For those of you who follow this blog, there are several other posts queued up to follow in the coming days. Presently in the final stages of organising those yet to be published, whilst my most excellent site admin has been putting together key points of functionality and the beginnings of finishing touches for the new site. 2013 is building up wonderfully, and Lunar New Year seems a great mark for one of the most positive and powerful transformations into peaceful renewal. I am grateful for so many kind wishes, notes of interest, and continued patience from so many as I slowly (but steadily) make my way back into the world.

And so... I shall now continue moving forward with the work at hand. Please continue to keep watch for future reviews, recipes, other updates and announcements... and of course the new site which I hope to be able to unveil in the twinkling of an eye!

Until then, happy Lunar New Year and may peace be with you all. Ⓥ♡★