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*Almost* Raw

Raw really isn't much of a happening thing in the Haines household over the winter. I have my recipes on hand, a new 'Spirooli' spiralizer which is fantastic and makes raw veg pasta a breeze, but the desire to eat raw cuisine just isn't there. We have done a few dishes but the comfort of warm soups in winter is too great to pass up.

We did, however, have Paul's siblings over for dinner last night and I'd been dying to try another raw dessert. They just seem too big for just us and too sweet, so I needed some willing friends to share with (or family in this case). The result: sweet, rich and very good. Even better the next day after being in the fridge (I think I preferred it cold to room temperature... go figure). I cannot recall where I got this recipe from so I apologise that I cannot publish the source. Anyway,  I am sure they wouldn't mind me sharing it (with a few minor adjustments).



2 C pecans
½ -1 cup of dates
Process the crust ingredients until they are crumbled and will hold together when squeezed.
Leave some texture in - it adds visual appeal and tastes nicer too.
Press into the bottom of a spring form cake pan


3 C raw cashews, soaked a few hours to soften (I used 2 cups cashews and 1 cup of macadamias as I was using up what I had in the cupboard)
½ C lemon juice (the recipe called for ¾ cup but I found it too much)
½  C Agave nectar
½ C melted cacao butter
¼ C coconut oil
1 vanilla bean
½ t sea salt
Remove seeds from the vanilla bean. Blend all ingredients together
until very smooth. Pour into spring form pan on top of crust - refrigerate.

Topping - the non-raw part (though you could make it raw by using a dehydrator, and replacing raw cocoa powder instead of the chocolate)

¼ C cacao butter
1 block of 70% dark chocolate - no milk solid - I used Lindt.
2 t agave nectar (or more to taste)
Melt cacao butter and chocolate in a bowl over boiling water. Mix in agave nectar. Drizzle over
cake. This will solidify in the fridge.

The recipe advised to slice when the chocolate had firmed but before it was rock hard from being in the fridge (to save it from cracking) I don't think it really matters - I would just take it out of the fridge early and let it come to room temperature if you want a perfect slice. I didn't mind the cold cracked chocolate at all though.

Best shared as one slice really IS enough. Decorated by my little MasterChef, Isla x


Souper recipes - vegan ones...

It's been a while - a long while. I have been bogged down by winter, by work, by colds and caring for Paul and Isla. I have been slack on the raw front and not feeling at all like eating raw food when comfort is needed in the form of soups and more soups... Admittedly I do have a recipe for THE most delicious chicken and vege soup that I made for me and Isla while we've been home with coughs and colds... but here I thought I'd share two of my favourite vegan soups that are our mainstay through these cold months.

No photos I'm afraid - I've not been particularly organised... but you will LOVE these soups.

Thai Pumpkin Soup:

2 bunches coriander, roots trimmed and a few leaves reserved for garnish
Zest & Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 tsp (or more...) of grated ginger
1 tbs (or more!) Thai red curry paste (check yours doesn't contain shrimp paste as many do I think)
1 kg pumpkin, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cups (500ml) veg stock
400ml can lite coconut milk
thinly sliced red onion and thinly sliced chilli to garnish (+ extra coriander leaves)

To make the coriander pesto:

Process coriander, lemon zest & juice, and garlic in food processor. Slowly add 3 tbs olive oil for desired consistency. Add warm water if necessary. (or just chuck it all if you are me...) Season if you want.

Really you MUST do the pesto - the soup itself is good, but average. But add the pesto and you'll be amazed.

To make the soup:

Heat remaining oil in large pan/pot over med heat. Add onion and stir for 1 min. Add ginger and red curry paste for another minute.
Add pumpkin and stock, bring to boil then simmer for 15 mins or until pumpkin is cooked.
Cool slightly and blend til smooth.
Return to pan, add coconut milk and season - warm though.

To serve, place soup in bowls with a dollop/swirl of pesto then garnish as desired.

Voila - delicious. And courtesey of Delicious Magazine...

Yasai Itame (a spicy Japanese influenced soup similar to that served at Wagamamas)


2 cups coconut milk (I think I use less)
2-3 cups vegan chicken stock (depends on how many you are cooking for) - mthe stock I use is Massel brand ie. vegan but chicken flavoured or you could use vege stock
1 piece of ginger grated finely (I used about 3 cm)
1 stalk of lemongrass: peel of the top layer (can probably used from a jar also...)
Coriander chopped (lots - I used a whole bunch - about 1/3 at the beginning and the rest upon serving)
Finely diced red chillis OR a combo dried chilli flakes and some hot chilli sauce - heat to taste

Asian Noodles (soba/whatever) I am using a whole wheat soft noodles, brand is Changs
Tofu - I prefer semi-fried. Cut into long slabs (about 1cm deep) and dry fried, then cut into cubes before adding to soup at the end
Veg - (see method for what's good)
1 tbs Fish sauce
(erm, okay, not so vegan so leave out if you're vegan...)
1 Lime

Lightly fry tofu until cooked the set aside, use a non stick pan and you shouldn't need oil

Prepare your noodles according to packet instructions (I used Changs Wok-Ready wholemeal noodles - ie. you can just throw them in without pre-cooking)

Cut and prepare the veg of: (any veg okay) - do try:

bok choi,

red and/or spring onions - finely sliced,
red capsicum finely sliced,
bean shoots
zucchini (peeled and cut into noodles);
Carrot (peeled and noodled or finely julienned);
snow peas chopped;
broccoli (cut into small florets)

You can stir fry in vegetable oil until a bit soft and set aside OR do as I did and throw them in the boiling soup toward the end then serve. This way you get semi raw veg but it's so fresh and healthy. The heat from the soup cooks them enough (although you might want to throw the broccoli in your soup a minute earlier). That way you also cut out the oil.

Prepare the soup 
Firstly Combine coconut milk, stock and ginger in a pan with the lemon grass and  abot 1/3 coriander. Bring to boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then stir in 1tbsp fish sauce, lime juice, chilli or chilli sauce/flakes (as much as you want depending on your desired heat)
When it's boiled, remove the lemongrass and turn down to a simmer

Continue to simmer and either assemble pre-cooked veg in a bowl with the noodles on the bottom & ladle over the boiling soup and slice the tofu and place ontop with some fresh coriander

OR throw it all into the soup and serve after a few seconds of heating through the raw veg.

Add extra chilli or coriander as desired.

This soup is so easy and so tasty. We are a little addicted and seem to be having it once a week. I did serve it to a friend for her birthday dinner as well using fresh king prawns which was a treat... but then again we were in Byron Bay so the prawns were amazing.

Keep warm!


Raw for Life

The last month or so has flown. We have been struck by wedding fever with three wedding in just six weeks - two of those in NZ and the other finds me in the proud role of matron of honour.

It's been lovely to holiday on Paul's parents farm, then return home to catch our breaths, before heading away again (back to NZ for wedding #2). This is what life is all about. Family and friends, celebrations and love. To top it all off, Paul had some very positive news. After a gruelling start to his new treatment (the clincial drug trial) he managed to get the side effects mostly under control with anti-biotics (he still gets very fatigued, a skin reaction, ulcerated mouth and cannot go in the sun). After 6 tough weeks, we got our first scan results back... I am excited to report that all tumours have reduced significantly in size. I have gone from fear of my husband dying within the next year, to immense hope that he might be with me for years to come. There's no words to say really, I can't even verbalise how that makes us feel.

And so on to food, which of course is the purpose of my blog (oh yeah?)...

I was a little concerned that when we went to NZ for two weeks to stay with Paul's parents we'd really go downhill. But I needn't have worried. My in-laws have taken to a vegan diet themselves over the past few months (as a result of a stroke that Paul's dad suffered in relation to his diabetes). Like us, they have their occasional feed of seafood or meat, but very rarely. My mother-in-law's pantry was a sight to behold. Gone were the SAD foods (standard Australian diet) and in were the wholegrains, the wholemeals, the lentils, the buckwheat, the soba noodles, the brown rice, the veg and the soy products. It made life very easy for us indeed. Of course, we indulged in a little meat for special occasions (ie. cousin Kate's wedding) but overall, it was just like home. I enjoyed preparing some raw meals for them too - Pad Thai of course (our favourite), plus a few others (handy to have my blog so I could look up the recipes)! What's more, Paul gained 1.5kg along the way which is great.

Since being home we've continued with a few raw meals each week - this week Pad Thai (yes, again... it really is amazing) and a buckwheat kernal salad - cooked buckwheat to which I added lots of raw veg and herbs and a dressing. Tomorrow will be the Mex salad with fresh corn, coriander, avocado, baby spinach, tomato and whatever else I find to throw in. I just love it.

Raw is now part of our life. I think it may lapse a little over winter (we are lucky to be enjoying gorgeous weather here in Melbourne for late March) but I know it is something that we will always enjoy - and why not? It tastes so great and you just know it's so good for you.

Isla pictured above at Cousin Kate's wedding, then with Curly Brown, her friend on her grandparent's farm in NZ.


Due to the craziness that has been these last 2-3 weeks, the raw diet had gone fallen off the radar. I have been bogged down with work and deadlines, caring for Paul and trying to devote time and attention to Isla. Meals were more of the comfort food nature including a roast chicken -- we do it perhaps once a year and it was lovely -- but otherwise we've pretty much stuck to our old vegan diet.

But I had been craving raw and after a very light vegie stir-fry on Tuesday night I knew raw was going to have to get back on the menu. My choice? Pad Thai. This would have to be one of my favourite raw dishes - and it didn't disappoint again. In fact, Paul and I both thought it was better this time than last as I let the flavours sit a while.

Really though, my excuse for blogging isn't to tell you about food. It's to share Isla's latest painting session. She churned them out yesterday with great thought and even some research (she loves the Australian Art Guide). I think she's fabulous for a three year old!

Ahhh, if only her mother could churn out paintings with as much confidence as Isla... I do feel the urge and ideas brewing though... watch this space.

Research - The Australian Art Guide              The promise of fun and messiness!

The Vase, Isla 2010                       Forest with a river, Isla 2010         Apple tree in the Sun, Isla 2010


The Raw has ended...

Technically today should be Day 30 but I only made it to day 26. I am not being hard on myself, really I'm not, but I am a tad disappointed I didn't quite make it. Of course, my excuse is very valid - an extremely sick and distressed husband, a three year old child, lots of deadlines to enable me a break in March, a dad having a stroke and all your other every day life things.

I haven't given up on raw. No way. For now though, I am trying to make life a little easier for us all - preparing one easy, nutritious meal that we all are happy to eat. Vegan hot dogs were on the menu tonight... yes, bad I know but I was still frantically working at 5:30 with few options in the fridge!

Thank you everyone for your caring and very encouraging comments, your support and suggestions over the last 30 days or so. If I discover a fabulous new raw recipe in the future I will blog it here and share. When life becomes a bit less crazy and Paul's health stablises, hopefully we can achieve a healthy balance between raw and cooked vegan meals.

I hope I have inspired some people to try some raw recipes and discover how wonderful raw food is - not only for your health, but for your tastebuds. I have enjoyed discovering it myself and my own health feels so much better for it.


Raw days 25 &26

Brief entry tonight - Season 6 of Entourage awaits me, as does Paul and the couch. Mindless viewing - which is what we need right now. It's not a happy home. This drug trial is nothing short of dreadful. Actually the word 'dreadful' doesn't even remotely touch on how bad it is for Paul.

Needless to say providing gourmet style raw meals is not on the agenda. Paul is having lots of smoothies with raw cacao powder, purple corn powder (both extremely high in anti-oxidents, raw and organic), banana, rice milk and once a day we add a scoop of ice cream for coldness. Some pea protein powder is also included. Of course, I am feeding him too, but not always raw.

Actually, we are all eating different things this weekend - mainly because it's just stressful and we're barely getting by. But noone is starving. Last night was still kinda raw for me, a rocket salad with pine nuts, olive oil and balsamic (and just a little parmesan...) A little wholemeal pasta with cheesy nut cream and some broccoli. I didn't take pictures. It didn't even cross my mind.

We all had sushi and seaweed salad today (mine and Isla's for lunch, Paul's for his dinner). Isla had a toasted cheese sandwich for dinner, but don't tell anyone...

I left the toaster out for about 3 hours, the temptation was so great. I LOVE toasted cheese sandwiches. But at the last minute, as I was getting the cheese out of the fridge, I spotted the hummous and the vegie drawer... and what do you know? My dinner was just perfect.



While my family enjoyed the comfort of eating tuna mornay with steamed vegetables this evening, I enjoyed a raw dinner. I told you I was stubborn.

The medication Paul is on is having an awful effect on him - his mouth is ulcerated, his skin from his scalp to torso is covered uncomfortable, aching acne type rash, he gets a temperature each day and is having trouble sleeping. It's as bad, if not worse than chemo and he is miserable. It's upsetting to see and I feel helpless. So while he's feeling like this, I just want him to eat - anything. Raw is just too crunchy and hard to chew to right now, and let's face it, it's just not providing the comfort needed.

For me, it was a few spoonfuls of mornay (to satisfy my craving when the smell hit me from the oven) after my raw dinner.

Dinner was simple and again delicious.


Veg in Creamy Lemon Tahini

A bowl full of diced veg - any variety. I used:
broccoli and cauliflower (broken into small florets)
red capsicum
diced zuchini and carrot
freshly shelled peas

Add half a packet of Chang's Fried Noodles (yes, those nasty ones that I used yesterday in my salad...)

1 tbs of  Cheesy Nut cream (leftover from last night's pasta)
2 tsp tahini
juice of 1/2 a lemon (or to taste)
1-2 tbs of water (to make a thin, runny consistency)

The aim is to lightly coat all the veg and noodles in the sauce - the flavours are full and stong and therefore the sauce doesn't need to be thick. The tahini and lemon flavours reign here - the cheesy nut cream provides the lovely creamy texture.

I loved this simple dish. It was packed with flavour and dead easy to make (especially when you have leftovers in the fridge)!

My little lady started 3-year-old kindergarten today. Oh she's growing up too fast. She is every bit as lovely on the inside as she looks on the outside. I promise you.


Raw, but no peace - Day 23

It's Day 23 and I'm having a tough time of keeping up with things. Paul's treatment is making him very unwell, I have lots of work on at the moment and a little girl who just wants someone to play with. And there's no other guilt like that, I can tell you. I could do with more sleep and less worry. I am not sure I can keep up the pace of raw. There's still 7 days to go and I am running out of steam. Fast. But it's not me to fail. And it's not me to give up. But this time I just might need to take some time off so I don't burn myself out and not be able to take care of my family - because burning out  would kind of defeat the purpose of my quest wouldn't it?

That said, I did manage to do two raw meals today, with relative ease. Perhaps I just need to get out of the mindset that it's a challenge and just treat it as everyday food. Which, to an extent I will once the challenge is over. Right now I am wanting to make something different every day, when in reality, I would just fall back on a few easy favourites to get me through busy days. Which is kind of what I did today...


Apple, Celery and Noodle salad

Chop 1 apple
1-2 sticks celery
Handful of beansprouts
1/4 lettuce (or any green)
Crushed macadamia nuts

The bad part:
1/2 a packet of Chang's Fried Noodles (oh, I know it's not good, but it adds crunch and is so good in this salad!)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil

Stir unti honey is dispersed and pour over salad. Delicious. Probably my favourite salad.


Zucchini Spaghetti with Meat-free-balls

This meal involved 4 parts but really, once you have the food processor out it is very easy. I did it all in less than 45 minutes, which included cooking Isla's component.

1. Zucchini spaghetti
Peel long ribbons and slice into long strips - a staple and a favourite

2. Tomato/capsicum sauce
1 red capsicum
1 tomato
About 10 semi-sundried tomatoes
Handful of fresh basil and parsley
1 tbs pine nuts
Approx 6 dates (essential to sweeten it, otherwise the tomatoes can be a little acidic)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (which isn't raw, but we're not using much)

Whizz up and set aside

3. Cheesy Nut Cream
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup cashew nuts
2 tbs pine nuts
2 tsp nutritional yeast
Juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
water - adjust to get a thick, creamy consistency

Whizz up and set aside

4. Meatballs
Last night I made "savoury balls" and they were meant to be refrigerated for 24 hours (which I didn't do)... but the leftovers were put in the fridge and came into good use tonight. For those who didn't read yesterday, here it is again:

For the balls...
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1-2 tbs minced onion
1 tsp tamari or soy
1 cup of grated pumpkin or carrot (I used pumpkin with about a 1/3 carrot)
1 big handful of fresh herbs - parsley and coriander
1 tbs lemon juice

Optional: a handful of chickpeas (they were there, so I threw them in) as well as some alfalfa sprouts

Process the seeds first, then add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well mixed. There was enough for 2 nights here, easily.

Assemble as per the picture (or mix up into a big mess) and enjoy.I added some kalamata olives too for extra tastiness. Yum.

I think the cheesy nut cream is very rich - perhaps I served a little too much for myself. Maybe a smaller portion would be enough. Or alternatively, you could use the almond ricotta here instead (see Day 10's lasagne recipe).

For Isla, I cooked some organic wholemeal pasta and simmered her tomato sauce, added a little of the creamy sauce at the end with some olives and broccoli. Her "meatballs" were lightly simmered too. She didn't like the texture of the meatballs, but I broke them up and mixed them into the meal and she ate them up without realising. I don't think she loves her "rawish" meals yet. But like anything, it will take some getting used to and eventually it will be normal for her. Still, she eats it up and I am satisfied knowing exactly what is in the food I am giving her. At least I don't feel guilty about her diet...


Raw Day 22

Another seaweed salad and sushi lunch today - so, so good. I do have to guard my sushi carefully when Isla is around, she has a tendancy to eat hers then take mine too! She loves it, salmon being her favourite. I don't like giving her too much though, mercury levels etc ... but as a treat I don't think it's a problem.

So again, I just report on dinner.


Savoury Balls & Italian Salad
(a better name for savoury balls is in order I think....)

For the balls...
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1-2 tbs minced onion
1 tsp tamari or soy
1 cup of grated pumpkin or carrot (I used pumpkin with about a 1/3 carrot)
1 big handful of fresh herbs - parsley and coriander
1 tbs lemon juice

Optional: a handful of chickpeas (they were there, so I threw them in) as well as some alfalfa sprouts

Process the seeds first, then add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well mixed. The recipe says to make this 24 hours in advance and keep in the fridge overnight - but reading that at 5:30pm is a litte too late... it wasn't really a problem. Mine had about 20 mins fridge time and the rest I will keep for Isla tomorrow - I'll make her a burger and simmer it lightly.

Roll into balls.


No need to explain anything here - the usual, simple Italian salad of greens, tomato, cucumber, olives, red capsicum, red onion -- dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I also threw in generous amount of macadamia nuts which I roughly crushed first.

The verdict: The balls seem like they'd be kinda weird - which is why I made them. I put a small teaspoon of sweet chilli sauce on them as it seemed so odd to be eating a raw burger. But I needn't have worried too much. I really enjoyed the taste and the texture and mixed with a leafy salad they are delicious. I'd do this meal again. I am sure you could do it with a variety of veg as well - zucchini would work well and cauliflower would be great too.

Overall, pleasantly surprised.


Raw Day 21

Leftovers for lunch today -- it's great having ready made salad in the fridge and keeps me away from the temptation of endless slices of toast with honey, especially when I am working at my computer all day.

I felt like a bit of a cheat with tonight's meal -- besides it being so easy,  I did use three non-raw elements: chickpeas for some extra protein, beetroot (because Isla will eat anything if there's beetroot in it) and the wraps, simply to hold it all together. Isla ate the same as us this evening, minus the jalepenos. She didn't even suspect it was full of raw goodies.


Wrap bread or tortillas
(Struggling to buy a decent wrap or tortilla, without preservatives, that won't fall apart. If anyone has any recommendations, please share!)

In a large bowl mix the following:
Chopped avocado
Chopped tomato (omitting the fleshy, seedy bit)
Corn from one cob
Finely chopped red or yelllow capsicum (or both)
Fresh coriander - as much as you like
Something green and leafy, finely chopped (we used some silverbeet, but spinach or lettuce would be good too)
About 1/2 a grated carrot
1/3 can of organic chickpeas
Jalepeno peppers


Juice from 1 lime
Season with some Herbamare (a herbal seasoning salt, prepared from 12 fresh organically grown herbs and vegetables)

Simply wrap up with some beetroot (grated raw beetroot would have been a better option than tinned...)

If you're having trouble with the thought of going raw, do try something like this -- it's a great way to get started by combining some non-raw elements into the meal. Perfect for lunch or dinner, these flavours are always yummy.

Next time I'd probably use kidney beans instead of chickpeas (I didn't have any) and if you wanted to, some soy sour cream would be delicious too.