Our idea of what constitutes "food" in American culture has become so skewed that it is almost unrecognizable. Our supermarkets are packed with products whose ingredients include unpronounceable chemicals, dyes, bacteria, and growth hormones. They are irradiated without our consent and contain GMOs.It's time to bring back FOOD. Pure unadulterated organic RAW food.This blog is a documentation of my continuing journey on a plant-based lifestyle.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's recipe time!

Good day foodie peoples!

It's Thursday and I am feeling recipe-ish today. A couple of you asked if I would share more concrete recipes from my little Italian feast a couple posts ago and I figured today would be the perfect day to do just that!

These recipes are from a recent class I taught at the Environmental Nature Center. We did a "Ladies Night" where I made all the toppings and the ladies used Ezekial Spouted Grain Tortillas as pizza crusts. I will say, toasting them up in the dehydrator or oven for 5-10 minutes makes a more authentic 'pizza' crust, but we made due without!

Maiorelli’s Authentic Italian Marinara:

3-4 large Heirloom tomatoes
1-2 cloves of garlic
¼ cup Extra-Virgin, Organic, Cold-pressed Olive Oil
2-3 Tablespoons New Frontiers Pizza Seasoning
1 Tablespoon dried Oregano
1 cup (soaked, unless oil packed) Sun dried Tomatoes
Sea Salt to taste
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup fresh basil, chopped

In a food processor combine all the aforementioned ingredients with the exception of the fresh tomatoes, parsley, and basil. Blend until a thick paste forms. Add in your fresh heirloom tomatoes and puree. Taste to make sure it’s well seasoned.

Transfer your gravy (marinara) to a separate bowl. Add in fresh chopped herbs and mix.

Almond ‘Ricotta’ Rustica:

2 cups Organic, Un-Pasteurized, Raw Almonds (Soaked in filtered water over night)
2 cloves of garlic
¼ cup Extra-Virgin, Organic, Cold-Pressed Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning or New Frontiers Pizza Seasoning
1 T Garlic Powder
3 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea Salt to taste
Filtered water as needed

Fresh Parsley, chopped
Fresh Basil, chopped
New Frontiers Pizza Seasoning

In your food processor combine almonds, garlic, and olive oil. Pulse until almonds break down and become grain-like. Add in your remaining ingredients and process until fully combined. Taste for seasoning.

Ricotta should be light and fluffy. Mix in your fresh chopped herbs and drizzle with Olive Oil.

*Option: Blend in Culturelle Vegan Probiotic while processing. Place in a wide-mouth jar (mason jar) and cover with a napkin secured with a rubber band. Store in a dark place overnight. This will essential ferment/culture your Ricotta, giving it a more authentic flavor.

To make the lasagna you will need:
3-4 zucchini sliced using mandoline or veggie peeler
1-2 T EVOO
1 clove minced garlic
sea salt
In your baking dish lay sliced zucchini. Top with EVOO, minced garlic, and sea salt. Toss. Let sit for 1 hour so that the zucchini softens. 
After one hour remove your zucchini from the pan. Sauce your pan with gravy and then place one layer of zucchini - making sure to cover the whole pan. You don't want the bottom of the pan to be visable at all.  Do another layer of gravy, again covering the zucchini. Then do a layer of ricotta. I like to do dollups of ricotta- gently pressing them down to spread them out. I try not to mix the sauce and ricotta together, but if that happens, don't sweat it. It's still going to taste just as good. Continue layering, placing another layer of zucchini to cover the gravy/ricotta. And keep on going until you run out of zucchini. Do a final layer of sauce and top with dollups of ricotta and sliced heirloom tomatoes. Garnish with chopped basil, parsley, and drizzle of EVOO. I like to let mine sit overnight in the dehydrator set at 105-110 degrees. This is what really gives it that true lasagna mouth-feel and taste. Yum, yum, yum!  
Sometimes I like to make different variations of this adding in marinated spinach and arugula or 'sauteed' veggies on top of the ricotta or sauce. You can even use pesto instead of marinara or ricotta. Be creative!
Here is my easy-peasy Pesto recipe just in case you want to switch things up a bit!
Pesto alla Maiorelli:

2 cups walnuts (option to do a mix of walnuts and pine nuts)
2 cups basil
1 cup parsley
1 cup spinach
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 cup Extra Virgin, Organic, Cold-pressed Olive Oil

Combine above ingredients in the food processor adding Olive Oil slowly while the ingredients blend.

*For a thinner Pesto slowly add water.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monarch-Stokes Festivities!

Oh boy, I've been holding this little secret in for a while now...

I'm not fond of secret keeping especially ones like these! So, I have been unfathomably anxious to announce this mega OC event on my blog:

::drum roll please::

Matt Monarch & Angela Stokes-Monarch are coming to give a talk at the Environmental Nature Center in Orange County on August 25th!!!!

Matt contacted me a while back and asked if I would be interested in helping to organize the event and naturally I jumped at the chance. I've been a HUGE fan of both Matt and Angela for quite some time now. I literally check my inbox twenty times a day waiting for The Raw Food World TV Show to pop up!

This is going to be an awesome event and a fantastic chance to learn from two experienced, long-term raw foodists.

A little bit about Matt & Angela if you don't already know who they are:

Matt Monarch, Raw Food Educator and author of 'Raw Spirit' and 'Raw Success' has been eating 100% raw for nearly 13 years. Matt will address the question, "Is the Raw Food Diet for me?" He will discuss overcoming health challenges, why some diets work and some don’t, difficulties that may arise on your journey and the benefits of eating Raw Foods, juicing and colonics.

Angela Stokes-Monarch lost over 150 lbs and overcame morbid obesity with a raw food lifestyle. She will share her message of natural recovery. Angela will discuss healthy, rapid weight loss, how to break overeating patterns, balancing detox with slimming, taking care of the body naturally and addressing the underlying issues.

Just to entice you more, I'll be making some snacks to nibble on during the talk AND Matt and Angela will be selling a whole bunch of products from their online store, http://www.rawfoodworld.com/ -- one of the best places to find below and at cost deals on all your raw food essentials!

This is one of their last events for a LONG time so sign up ASAP! You will NOT want to miss this extraordinary information powerhouse! 

To register call 949-645-8489 or email Lori Walen at lori@enc.org
And for questions please email me at maioa827@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Unholy Creations of Italian Goodness...

Ah, if only there were such a thing as virtual 'smell-o-vision- because the aroma of sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and faux oven-baked lasagna has been a constant in the apartment. Seriously, it smelled like when my Mim used to make big pans of Baked Ziti. Mmm, cheeze, saucey, love!  It's like a big warm hug of deliciousness.

Lasagna alla Maiorelli:

Mmm, Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms:

Italian food in general is so simple to prepare which makes it that much more difficult to recreate well. The secret? Keep the sauce simple: tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, a little garlic, dried spices and finish off with a touch of good olive oil and chopped basil and parsley. Do not, under any circumstances, puree the rest of the ingredients with the fresh parsley and basil. It muddles the flavors and turns the sauce green. And the ricotta? Culture/ferment it. That's it. It's amazing, spectucular, and really freaking good.

Lasagna, post-dehydration:

It's entirely difficult to abstain from eating the whole thing. You start with small slivers and before you know it there is absolutely nothing left...Oh well, guess I just have to make more, darn!

I also made a whole stinking bunch of cookies while on hiatus. I'm obsessed with the Almond Amaretto Tecchino herbal coffee so that was my inspiration for these cutesy cookies of almond ameratto goodness. A little Almond extract and you've got yourself a sweet little treat; it's almost too easy!  

Almond Amaretto Cookie Dough Bites:

These were so soft, chewy, and almond-y. I think next time I might add some of the actual tecchino to the dough to make it taste more like the coffee. yum, yum, yum!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Better Planned Upheaval

Pardon moi, Raw Food Nerd has been on hiatus for the last two weeks. It's that time again, i.e. better planned upheaval -- except in Season 2 of Alysha: This Is Your Life I've actually got a well-mapped and finalized plan.

I'm moving back home, to New York City- right where I belong. I'll be resuming my old job (the one that so easily filled the emptiness in my heart and gave me purpose).

I feel like a ginormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders; like I can breathe again. Given the circumstances, I've been quite successful in California. However, since the moment my feet (or our tires, whatev) planted themselves in this Sunny State I've had an unquenchable feeling of regret. (I cried all the way from LA to The OC the day we arrived...and for several days after...)

We left everything, everything behind. And while at first it seemed exciting, spontaneous, new - once the realization that this was permanent and not a three week vacation set it, it became even more apparent that perhaps I had made quite the mistake.

And then I realized I'd be living in the OC and not LA and my heart sunk a whole lot more. This was not how I envisioned my new California lifestyle. Wilkes-Mesa anyone?

And I'd have to fly home for Christmas every year...

And I'd have to spend Thanksgiving in CA...

And Christmas would be the only time I would see my family because it is so expensive to fly...

And working for yourself is never consistent...

The list goes on...

California never felt like "home", but more like a self-actualization of who I really was. (Obviously, I'm not the bohemian nomadic type who can just pick up and move without a second thought.)

Unfortunately, there is one MASSIVE con to all of this: Kevin has to stay here for another eight months to finish his masters. The very thought is gut-wrenching and physically painful. We've been together going on seven years and in that time we've spent, at most, five days apart. Needless to say, other than planning and getting mine and Kev's shimmelz together (he's moving into on campus housing, etc.)  this is the reason for my hiatus.

It's been a rather emotional time as September is steadfastly approaching; everything is changing once again and neither of us in all our sentimentality take well to change (though you'd never know it). It's hard to picture my day to day life without Kev. It's hard to picture New York itsef without Kev...

We're bothing taking it pretty hard and I haven't felt much like doing anything but hiberating.

Yet, in my heart of hearts I know this is what I have to do...what I really want to do.

Hi, my name is Alysha and I'm in a Bi-Costal Long Distance Relationship. Oye vey!

Anyway, Raw Food Nerd is up and running again; we'll be back with regular scheduled blogging tomorrow--  pictures and all!