POST #943
I think I bought The Locavore’s Handbook: the Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget,  by Leda Meredith, by accident – I was looking for books by Wildman Steve Brill, and books on foraging in New York City. Nevertheless, I am happy to have it – I inhaled it in one day!

Meredith is a New Yorker, and she mostly gives information as to how to organize one’s life to eat local as much as possible, in order to reduce one’s carbon footprint – that said, she does give hints as to where you might look if you are in another part of the country. (The basics will apply if you live in another country, as well, but you will just have to find your own way to the resources).

I’ll admit that, on differing levels, I knew most of this information (as I said, I bought this book by accident), but Meredith addresses a number of issues which are near and dear to my heart – I live in a tiny New York City apartment, and she suggests storage ideas that I might not have thought of.

Meredith is not a raw foodist, or even a vegetarian, but I think we are all grown up enough that we can read books and get what we need from them. She talks extensively about foraging, community gardening, CSAs, food coops, food preservation (another topic near and dear to my heart) and home organization issues. In my reading, I have gotten quite a few ideas about how I can reorganize my kitchen and apartment to include more storage space.

If you are interested in eating local or organic, and/or if you live in a tiny New York apartment,  and you want to organize a locavore/vegan/raw vegan kitchen, this is the book for you. It’s really good.



POST #942
I have the kombucha scoby and the water kefir grains in the refrigerator. The Russell James Chef Homestudy course I’m going through now has, just this week, given me a very good grounding in what I need to do for kombucha and kefir brewing. I just like to read up on as much background as I can.

kombucha scoby getkombuchaI’m finding out that I may have destroyed my kombucha scoby – who knew that you shouldn’t put it in the refrigerator. Well, it’s been in there almost a week, and I probably won’t try to do anything with it until at least tomorrow. (the scoby picture is from

Meanwhile, I have found two downloadable kombucha brewing guides on-line:

The Cultures for Health ebook  is very extensive – it covers in pretty much detail just about anything you want to know. This site also has quite a few informative videos on kombucha

Kombucha Kamp’s kombucha guide is concise and informative. I like it as a checklist for after I have read through the entire Cultures for Health book.

Yemoos Nourishing Cultures’ kombucha FAQ  has some useful information, as well.

More details at What is Kombucha

dried kombucha kombuchananaDrying kombucha – I kept trying to find out how to dehydrate kombucha, but never came up with anything much about using a dehydrator. Most of the info was about how to air dry it. I saw one mention of dehydrating at 105 degrees, but when I tried to follow that google link, I didn’t find anything further. It seems you are supposed to dry it to jerky consistency, but, on kombuchanana , which has some interesting ideas for what to do with dried scoby, I saw this picture where it looks pretty dry.

water kefir grains wikipediaKEFIR
Cultures for Health has videos on water kefir . Their ebook deals only with milk kefir, but it is free and has interesting information (the picture is from Wikipedia)

Yemoos Nourishing Cultures has an extensive online water kefir “book”  which covers just about anything you could want to know.

Wellness Mama’s recipe promises Kefir soda  .

Lea’s Cooking’s kefir article  gives her recipes , as well as recipes she has found in her web research


POST #927

Posted on May 25, 2013 by Barbara, The Raw Food Diva

Are you 100 percent raw?
Me saying Shhh are you 100 percent rawI get that question a lot, from both clients and fellow ‘raw foodists’. And my answer is…no. Does that surprise you? Disappoint you? What most raw foodists won’t tell you…but I will, of course, you know me!…is that they’renot eating 100 percent raw food 100% of the time. So they really have no business making you, I or anyone else feel somehow less than perfect for that bowl of rice or any other occasional dip in the ‘cooked food’ pool.If anyone makes you feel less than perfect just as you are, please ignore them. Or remind them that we all have our own paths to travel. And actually to my mind, there’s nothing wrong with having cooked food some of the time, if that means you are a happy person (see below). Nothing!

A gleeful admission…and a celebration

I am quite happy to crow from the rooftops that even though my personal preference isdefinitely raw food all the time (and that’s what I do at home most days), not only do I NOT eat raw 100 percent of the time every single day, but I feel quite happy about it. Why? Because…

Eating 50-80 percent raw works too!

People talk a lot about the benefits of a purely raw diet, but I haven’t heard many people talk about the advantages of ‘almost’. Somehow ‘almost’ is never seen as quite good enough, whereas in my book, it’s pretty darn good. In fact it can be brilliant.

I was 50 when the above photo of me was taken, and that was on 8 years of probably 60-80 percent raw. I increased the amount of raw food as I went along and discovered that the best way for me to progress was to look at the whole thing as a journey, NOT a destination. I started feeling amazing with incredible benefits of energy, skin, stamina, less need for sleep, no aches and pains…and none of that depended on me eating 100 percent raw. That’s why I help people add more raw to their diet but not necessarily all raw (unless that’s what they want), because even an increase can make a big difference.

I now go for long periods of 100 percent and then other periods of maybe 80, even though my personal preference is all raw.

What are the benefits of not eating 100 percent raw?

I personally choose to be flexible, and in fact I advocate this for most people who are living with non-raw family members or friends. Here’s why:

  • I can be relaxed. I don’t have to avoid events, people or places because of the way I would prefer to eat. Yes I do ring in advance and ask for a raw food dish if that’s practical, but sometimes it just isn’t. A few weeks ago I was at an event for entrepreneurs in Berlin and some of us decided to go out for dinner together. I had two choices: either make some compromises at a Thai restaurant while having fun with great people, or find a raw food place and eat alone. You can guess what I chose, right? I had a fabulous time and made some brilliant connections with wonderful people. I just made sure to choose food that I was happy to eat and then went back to all raw the next day.
  • I can be non judgmental, both of myself and of others. You won’t catch me glaring at someone who is ‘paleo’, Weight Watchers or even Atkins…though the last one does make me cringe inside, knowing what I know about the effects of so much meat on the body. However guess what? Even if you were to eat huge steaks dripping in grease (ha ha I couldn’t resist!), I could still be friends with you and we could laugh, party and enjoy each other’s company. I wouldn’t comment on your food choices, but I’d probably pop a big salad, wraps and guacamole on the table in addition to your steak if you came to my house. Then if you asked me what the yummy salad was, I’d tell you the ingredients. If you wanted to know more, I’d share, and if not then I’d keep quiet. Then we’d watch a movie or whatever and enjoy the rest of the evening!
  • I can be experimental. I can taste a super cool Korean dish recommended by a friend, or try out that beautiful looking Indian pudding, and say to myself, “Hmmm, how can I make this raw?” And then of course if I really like it, I can go home and create my own raw version. Then I can blog about it and share it with you!
  • I can be just plain chilled out. I can live in the moment. Now I’ll admit that when you’re experienced enough in raw food preparation (or if you’re happy with very simple foods), it isn’t a big deal to eat 100 percent raw at home, and that is definitely my personal preference. That’s why I have so many fast recipes – I want to eat raw but I don’t want to live in the kitchen! Plus I have teenage children who don’t eat raw all the time, and life is too short to be stressed out and beat myself up because I’m not conforming to someone else’s standard. I have no desire to alienate friends and/or family because they don’t see things as I do. By not forcing my children to eat raw all the time, they are curious, they don’t rebel against it…and they are secretly proud of me (yes kids if you’re reading this, I found you out!)

The stigma and the ‘shame’ of not eating 100 percent raw

A lot of people have this belief that if you aren’t 100 percent ‘raw’, you are somehow flawed, weak, lazy, uneducated, or just plain wrong. In fact the very word choice is interesting…we say ‘I’m raw’ rather than ‘I eat raw food’ as if it were part of our identity. Which it is, of course…but we can be whatever we want to be. We can be raw food lovers, enthusiasts, fans, fanatics…though I tend to steer away from that last one. I don’t think the world needs any more of those!

So what should my aim be?

That’s a fair question. I think you can aim to continue to be a learning, growing human being. Like me. Like many others. So please do NOT beat yourself up if you set yourself a goal of all raw all the time and yet you find yourself going for that bowl of rice with your veggies. I knew a girl who was disappointed in herself because her diet was all raw…apart from the occasional bowl of miso soup!

Set goals that are achievable for you and that make you excited. For example, learn to make one new dish a week. Or invent a new juice every Sunday. Or learn to use a dehydrator. Whatever is appropriate for you and makes you feel like you are learning, growing and having fun.

At least that’s how I see it!

What about you? Have you ever been made to feel like you’re less than perfect because of how you eat? Do you have a completely different viewpoint from me? Let me know in the comments below, it’s all good!

Barbara Fernandez of RawFiesta publishes “Viva La Fiesta!” – a free eZine for raw food lovers worldwide. For FREE tips, tools and recipes visit

My Healthy Homesteader Training Experience

POST #918
It’s time I mention that I am involved in an on-line Tera Warner course called Healthy Homesteader.   Many of the things covered in this training are things I already know about (dehydrating, storage, sprouting, soaking nuts and seeds) or don’t intend to do (select meat, cook). Still, it is good to have to take the time to think about who I am and what I want to do in my kitchen (I have to keep a journal), and correspond with Kinderly, my course mentor (not sure what she calls herself exactly, but mentor seems to do the trick) about my homework (Yes, I have to do homework, too). Kinderly is a hoot!  No matter what I say, she comes right back at me with a serious dose of positivity and encouragement (I think she must be cracking up with every homework assignment I send to her- that, or else, she pities me mightily for trying to “homestead” in a New York City apartment with only 2 windows that get sunlight)

So far, we’ve covered cookware; knives and knife techniques; food storage; food combining; herbs and spices; soaking grains, nuts, and seeds; and setting up a drying station.

The part where I have gotten stuck is on the latest two lessons, which are about foraging.  Here in New York City, there are only the city parks for foraging, and I have been deathly afraid of those parks for the past 25 years (I’ve only ever gone to Central Park 4 times, and I have only been to Riverside Park once in all that time.)  I know that people go into our many parks all the time, but, for certain reasons, I am terrified of them.  So, with this lesson, I realized that I have to take some sort of action, regardless of the anxiety.  I’ve exchanged emails with Wildman Steve Brill , who runs foraging tours of the city parks, and am poised to possibly sign up for his next foraging tour into Central Park.  Oh, I am excited.  Mr. Brill is well-known in New York City (he must be, if even I have heard of him), and he was very welcoming and generous when I contacted him, so I feel as comfortable as I am going to about this upcoming new experience.

Then, on the Facebook communication page for my training, I found mention of this Foraging Prayer (from Holly Drake at :

My Foraging Prayer

Lord, open my eyes to behold wonderful things from Your world this day.  Psalms 119:18

Unlock just one more of Your secrets in hidden places for me.  Isaiah 45:3

Show me something that I can safely eat and prepared for my well-being and for those I love. Psalms 145:15-16

Teach me to be a wise woman who is in tune with your creation cycles, and the movement of Your Spirit.  Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11

Fill me with awe of Your magnificence, Your creativity, and Your goodness, vrom the shy violets on the forest floor to the stars that You breathed into existence and call by name.  Isaiah 40:25-28

May I never worship the creation but rather the Creator and Sustainer of all.  Romans: 1:20-24

Enlighten my mind with timeless truths that Your creation patiently proclaims to any who will be still long enough to listen.  Colossians 1:17

Bring my senses back from slumber to be fully awakened to each smell, texture, taste, nuance of shape and color, and even the faintest stirrings of life.  Psalms 46:10

Restore to me my heritage from generations of my forebears, who walked Your earth knowledgeable of Your bounty, and who reveled intimeately in Your presence.  Psalms 145:5

May every forage into the ‘green’ draw my heart closer to Yours.  Psalms 105:3

STAND FOR OUR LAND! New York City Community Garden Coalition Forum 2013: Free

POST #917

NYCCGC Forum 2013:


Join New York City Community Garden Coalition,
Fellow Community Gardeners, Parks Advocates, Friends and Allies for…

NYCCGC Forum 2013 :
Saturday, April 27th
9:30am – 4:00pm The Cooper Union 7 East 7th Street
Register for the forum today! As always, the NYCCGC annual forum is completely free of cost.

Join us for New York City Community Garden Coalition’s FREE annual forum. This year’s forum will serve as a platform for mayoral candidates to go on record with their policies on community gardens, parks, and urban agriculture. We will also use this day to organize and inspire the grassroots movement to protect and amplify our community gardens and open public spaces so New Yorkers can grow healthy food, learn from one another, celebrate our diversity, and nurture our planet and our communities.

Register for Free Tickets here!

Candidates confirmed as participating in the Forum are Bill de Blasio,Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, Tony Gronowicz, and Erick Salgado.

Picture the Homeless
Tenants and Neighbors
South Bronx Unite
La Guardia Corner Gardens & Lawyer
La Plaza Cultural & LUNGS

Special Guests:
PETE SEEGER! international icon and legendary folk singer, songwriter, environmentalist and tireless social justice advocate will be a guest of honor at the NYCCGC Mayoral Forum.

Morley – Socially conscious singer songwriter whose blissful music message is consistent and clear; love, justice and inspiration. She uses music as a tool for conflict resolution and dialogue facilitation when working with youth from international conflict zones. Her powerful music has brought her before many world leaders and policy makers.

Stephan Said: Singer-songwriter, rapper and global activist for social change

Fulaflute: Haunting sounds of west-African flute duo, by Sylvain Leroux & Bailo Bah

Pierce Turner: poetic Celtic soul

Also acknowledging all the NYC Greening groups supporting this event:
Green Guerillas
Just Food
NYRP (New York Restoration Project)
BQLT (Brooklyn Queens Land Trust)
East New York Farms
Farming Concrete
NY4P (New Yorkers for Park)
596 Acres
Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Greenbridge
More Gardens
New York Botanic Garden – Bronx Green Up
Tenants & Neighbors
Green New Yorkers
LES Ecology Center

Join us to create fertile grounds for growing healthy food, learning from one another, celebrating our diversity, and nurturing our planet and our communities.

More Info:

Facebook Event:

IT’S ALL ABOUT EASY – What kitchen appliances do you really want?

POST #916
One of my students, who has been reading my blog and wants to provide healthier food for her family, commented that her cooking/food-prep style is all about EASY.  I can totally get into that.

My first questions to her were about her kitchen equipment.  She has knives. Okay, well, I started out with one knife (which I still have) and a cutting board.  That’s easy, but not so easy, if you start to get into preparing anything more adventurous than a salad.

I suggested that she start out with a good quality food processor, because that is what she will probably end up using the most (I know that’s the thing that gets the biggest workout in my kitchen!).  For a few years, after I decided that I needed a food processor, I worked with cheap ones, because that is all I could afford.  One after another broke.  When I was on the third one and I saw that it was headed for the graveyard, I started saving so that I could buy a Cuisinart food processor when it went on sale at Macy’s (I’d seen them go on sale for @half-price every couple of months, so I decided to get one the next time that happened. I have never regretted the $80 spent – my Cuisinart has now lasted longer than all three fo the food processors I had before, put together!

With a food processor, you can grind nuts and seeds, chop or puree vegetables and/or fruit, make pates, and shred vegetables or slice them (I still like to slice with a knife, though).  You can make apple sauce or grind beets or other hard vegetables (turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.)  in to a nice applesauce consistency.   You can make soups (and then heat them in your dehydrator if you like — Nomi Shannon, in her book Raw Food: THE ANSWERS, suggests pouring boiling water over chopped vegetables  –she feels that the vegetables will not be cooked by the contact of with boiling water – you’re on your own here – if you think that will work for you, go for it)

In addition to my food processor, I also have a Magic Bullet blender thing, a Champion Juicer, and an Excalibur dehydrator.  I have a VitaMix, but I broke it, and I am making do with the Magic Bullet right now, until I can afford to repair it  (It broke just past the 10 year warranty, of course).

If you are just setting up, just starting out, I’d say, after the food processor, the next thing to get would be a Magic Bullet – it does simple blending (smoothies, purees, etc) and, also, does the job of a herb/nut grinder quite well.

If you are moving forward from there, I’d say it’s a toss-up between the Champion juicer and the dehydrator.

I got the Excalibur Dehydrator first,because I seriously wanted to make crackers,  but, then, I had a working VitaMix at the time, and, after a consult with author Rose Lee Calabro, whose book, Living in the Raw, was my first modern raw food recipe book, and continues to be my first go-to book, I decided that I could make do with the food  processor for a while longer, instead of going for the juicer right away (Calabro told me that I could get by with the food processor, but the resulting pates and nut butters would not be as fine as those I could get with the Champion juicer).  I researched dehydrators ad infinitum, and, although there were cheaper choices (and I didn’t have much money), I chose to save up for the Excalibur 5 Tray with Timer ,  because it is easier to add and remove things as they dry, and, also, it is easier to clean – always a big plus in my world!  With the Excalibur, you can pull out individual trays to check them for done-ness, so it is easy to dehydrate several different things at once (I got the 5-tray model with the timer – the only thing I would do differently would be to get the 9-tray model, because there are often times when I could use 9 trays, but, still, I do fine with 5 trays)

I finally got a 1976 vintage Champion Juicer on ebay for $80.  I love it. (I have a Green Star GSE-5000 twin-auger machine that I got  for $20 at Salvation Army, but I find that the Champion is a thousand times easier to clean, so..—you never see Champions in Salvation Army, and Champion is made in America)

So… my kitchen set-up right now is very simple:

Magic Bullet
Excalibur 5 Tray Dehydrator with Timer
Champion Juicer

I want to get a Nutri Bullet Hi-Speed Blender/Mixer System
next.  I’ve read the reviews (I always start with the 1-star reviews first and work my way back up, and it seems that this might do the job , if I follow the instructions, while I am waiting for money to fix my VitaMix—it will certainly fit better on my shelf)

REGROW YOUR KITCHEN SCRAPS – interesting, possibly useful, concept

POST #910
Now this is interesting, I think. I mean, if your onion stays there too long, it starts to sprout a green stem.  Why not use that in cooking – the onion is probably too far gone, but the green part is still part of the onion, and should be good, right?


There are some more concepts here – I don’t know anyone who has done any of these, but I would try it at least once.

I don’t know where this info came from – I picked it up off an FB page I visit. It certainly seems helpful, and I would be happy to credit the creator if I could.
UPDATE: FARMER’S PAL CREATED THE VEGETABLE COLLAGE PHOTO – they’ve just contacted me with that info.

GORILLA FOOD: great new recipe book – my new favorite!

POST #904
Was POST #901
I was very interested to receive this copy of Gorilla Food, by Aaron Ash, of the Vancouver restaurant by the same name.  Oh, this book is nice! Enticing new flavor ideas, fresh innovative recipes, pretty pictures – oh my! Get this book here

This is a recipe book – you asked for raw recipes and here they are. After a two page introduction, which tells the curious how the Gorilla Foods restaurant in Vancouver, BC, Canada came into being, and shows a picture pictures of a 1960s-throwback-looking space, it launches into a clarification of terms and descriptions of the appliances and tools needed to work the magic, as well as a shopping list, i.e., all of the ingredients which will be eventually called for in the recipes.

After that come the recipes. Now, if you like more or less “instant food” (not much more than a food processor involved), and don’t like to plan a day or two in advance, many of these recipes will not work for you as they are written (many require dehydration, or include dehydrated recipes detailed on other pages), but, often, the “raw” parts, i.e., the parts before you dehydrate, are good enough on their own – for example, although the Morning Curry Crepes call for the dehydrated Ginger Tomato Crepe,  recipe would be just as good sitting in a bowl for you to spoon up.  So it goes… I see this book as requiring a bit of creativity if you are to get the most from it – just about every page has something exciting, mouthwatering, or really curious.

That said, there are some truly innovative (as in: I haven’t seen this before) recipes for vegetable mixes, sauces, cheezes, condiments, crackers/breads/wraps/chips, and desserts. If you take the often unique vegetable mix ideas, and start adding different sauces, you get altogether different and exciting experiences. If you are willing to do the dehydrated breads/crackers/chips/wraps (which you can do in advance and freeze – you knew that, right?), you expand your options exponentially

When you get to the desserts in Gorilla Food, you will start to drool. Many of the desserts just involve combining the ingredients, and voila! Of course, the really fancy-looking ones in the pictures  the use of a dehydrator, but, often, the ingredients will taste good without the dehydrator, and just will be more like goo, or something you have to eat with a spoon.

There! I’ve just taken apart Gorilla Food and digested it into a recipe book for people who only have a knife, or, at best, a food processor. You can make almost all of these things (save the breads, the chips, the crackers) in a beginner raw food kitchen.

If you are a beginner, if you are an old hand, Gorilla Food will be worth your while.  So, do check out Gorilla Food. It is so very fanciful, and just this side of very basic raw food (which you don’t see much in recipe books anymore), with a kick!

You can get this book here

SUPERBOWL RECIPES: Quick hurry-up recipes for your Superbowl party

POST #891
How could I forget that we need recipes for Superbowl parties?  Oh, yeah! I’ll be working when it is on.  Never mind!  Here are some recipes  that will keep you raw and happy while you watch the Superbowl.  These are previously posted recipes – I’m just saving you all the clicking through.  This is to get you started.

1 C raw cashews, soaked 1 – 2 hrs., and drained
1/3 lg orange (or red) bell pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1 t onion powder
1/2 t sea salt
1 T chili seasoning, or to taste (optional)
Water to just cover cashews

  • Combine all ingredients in the VitaMix (or a high-speed blender) and process until smooth.
  • Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Use as a spread on sandwiches, crackers, or chips, as a dip for crudites, as a sauce for raw pates or burgers, or as a salad dressing.

2 C cashews
2 jalapenos (or to taste)
1/4 – 1/2 C water (or rejuvelac)
1 t sea salt

Put all ingredients in VitaMix and process to a smooth consistency.

Tonight, I added two large cloves of garlic to the blender mix before processing.

I have made this recipe before, as is, and totally enjoyed it added to sandwich combos. 

Two weeks ago, I made it with probiotics, and aged it for 24 hours (wow!)
I added 1 T of probiotic powder to the mix and hung it in cheesecloth over a bowl, to let it age for 24 hours.

You can use this as a dip or as a stuffing/topping for red or orange bell pepper slices.


1 large tomato, sliced thickly
1 C cashews, soaked and rinsed
2 C kale, chopped fine
2 – 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 C onion, chopped
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

  • In the food processor, process all ingredients, except tomato, to a fine consistency.
  • Sprinkle sea salt and black pepper over tomato slices.
  • Spread kale/cashew cheeze thickly onto tomato slices.

You could also use this as a dip for chips and crackers, or as a topping/stuffing for red bell pepper slices.

RAW CHILI  – I don’t know about you, but I have always liked chili at a Superbowl party
adapted from
4 C tomatoes
1 C red bell peppers, diced
1 C yellow peppers diced
1/2 C onion, diced
1/2 C celery, diced
1 T chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 T cumin (or to taste)
salt to taste
2 C water

Blend tomatoes and spices until smooth.
Thoroughly combine remaining ingredients with tomato mixture.

See! You can have some fun superbowl food and still be raw!


POST #890
Well, hey!  There’s a new raw restaurant in Manhattan!  How could I have missed it?  I finally came on-line when I saw raw prepared foods at Integral Yoga Foods the other day (although I cannot really afford such things, I do look for them in natural food stores, and, since Raw Soul closed down, there hadn’t been any fresh choices, but I have kept looking, and… there they were this time around!)

I went to Rockin Raw in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a Meetup group a couple of years ago, and I really liked It (I don’t remember everything I ate, but I love-love-loved the crab cakes!).  So, I was excited to see that they are doing well enough that they are marketing prepared foods to stores.  When I googled them, I came up with a Manhattan address!  Hooray!  Another raw restaurant in Manhattan.

If you haven’t already discovered this restaurant, which does a curious Peruvian/Southern fusion menu, beat feet now!

171 Sullivan St. New York, New York 10012 212 477 3777
Open Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm to 10pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 2pm to 10pm