Top 10 EASY PEEZY Ways to Eat More Raw Foods!

No matter whether you're an omnivore, vegan, raw foodist, or junk food junky, we can all agree that more raw foods are a good thing. Raw foods are rich in antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, and fiber. Plus, none of their life-giving benefits have been denatured so you'll really get a lot of vitality out of them to keep you running strong!

Personally, I land in the category of health-food minded vegan who loves raw foods, but isn't a strict raw foodist by any means. However, with every new product that comes out on the market these days (think coconut butter, raw agave nectar, raw cacao), I find it easier and more exciting all the time to incorporate more living foods into my diet! Plus, it doesn't have to be hard at all. Or boring!

Here are my top ten EASY (and, uh, yummy!) ways to eat more raw foods every day, in every way...

1. Start your day with a smoothie and a smile. For a raw food smoothie, use fresh juice and fresh or frozen fruits. You can also throw in some superfood additions like hemp, flax, or spirulena for an extra woo-hoo!
2. Make a delicious salad every day. Find or make a fresh dressing you love and add lots of yummy things to your salads (like avocado, shredded beets and carrots, sprouts, and grape tomatoes).
3. Sprout it up, people! Sprouting is an incredibly cheap, nutritious way to incorporate living foods into your diet. Plus, anytime you sprout a food, you exponentially increase its available nutrients.
4. Have a yummy meal in a glass. Raw foods shakes are delicious, filling, and uber-nourishing. Try adding frozen banana for sweetness - or if you prefer things a little sweeter a few soaked dates are great as they add sweetness in a whole-foods, nutrient-dense way. I also like to add vanilla and almond milk for a delicious, creamy vanilla shake.
5. Experiment with raw desserts! Oh yum, are they good! I've been doing a lot of this for my next book (which is a yummy weight loss program) and boy have I been enjoying the recipe testing part of it! "Rawberry Star Bars" are my daughter's new raison d'etre. But until my book comes out, suffice it to say that you can have some fun making up treats using fresh fruits, raw coconut butter, soaked cashews, agave nectar, etc. and you'll never miss a thing.
6. Wrap up some deliciousness in a romaine or chard leaf! Here's a recipe for Funky Chunky Guacamole Wraps from the raw foods chapter of my book, Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. YUM.
7. If you really want cooked foods, that's fine. However, if something is just as delicious raw, then why not eat it that way? For example, I've recently discovered how delish it is to prepare kale in the raw. Simply cutting it finely and "massaging" it with its sauce really tenderizes it. It's so yummy and fresh-tasting!
8. Snack on fresh vegetables throughout the day - carrots, cherry tomatoes, pea pods, and celery are all familiar, crunchy health foods that do our bodies a big favor with their fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If you're on the go, you can make up "veggie snack packs" to grab each morning before you head out of the house.
9. Experiment with one new raw foods recipe each week. There are lots of great recipes available for everything from sushi to pies to wraps. Gone are the days when raw foods were only about health. Nowadays, they're also about the yum!
10. Consider investing in a food dehydrator. I personally finally bought one last year and now I can't believe I waited so long! I had wanted one ever since the Ronco infomercial days of the 80s! But now I have me one fine little mama - the biggest baddest Excalibur. And boy do I love it! I can make all kinds of raw/living foods -  flax crackers, veggie-based tortillas, fruit leathers (for my daughter's lunches), zucchini chips, and so much more.

Thanks so much for stopping by and I'd love to hear what YOUR favorite way to eat raw foods is!!

Eating more raw foods is a great way to stay healthy and PREVENT illnesses. I'm loving the Kathleen Show's Prevention Not Prescriptions Tuesdays. Be sure to check out the other fabulous bloggers here!

Raw Foods and the Funky Chunky Guacamole Wrap

Raw foods - what an exciting and steadily growing phenomenon!

These days, people often ask me if they should be eating a raw foods diet. Many people swear by its healthy effects and the ability of raw foods to nurture and heal the body. Personally, I agree with this completely. I do try to consume lots of fresh, uncooked whole foods. However, I also feel that it's one of those things that works best for me in balance. In my experience, I feel just as good eating a vegan diet based on whole foods (and including lots of fresh, raw vegetables) as I do when I'm eating all raw foods. Still, I always encourage my clients (and anyone else who asks!) to listen to their body. Be your own nutritionist and seek out the foods that feel nourishing and revitalizing to you. And if you do, you'll most likely find yourself wanting to explore more of the exciting, delicious world of raw, living foods!

So, here's a recipe from the raw foods chapter of my book, Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. It's a super-simple and delicious way to enjoy living food cuisine. Plus, it’s satisfying, nourishing, and leaves you feeling light and healthy. Since it requires no special equipment and only takes a few minutes to prepare, it's also a great way to try out a raw foods recipe with very little "committment." Enjoy!

Funky Chunky Guacamole Wrap

2 ripe avocados
½ cup chopped tomatoes (flavorful tomatoes such as cherry or grape are ideal)
⅓ cup finely minced white, yellow, or red onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 tablespoons minced jalapeno (see page 39 for tips)
2 tablespoons each: fresh lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon sea salt

Fillings (use any combination of the following):
Alfalfa sprouts, grated carrots, chopped tomato, minced cilantro, thinly sliced red onion, grated cabbage, and/or sunflower seeds.

Lettuce Wrap Things Up:
6 large lettuce leaves (romaine or red leaf)

Tang It All:
6 fresh lime wedges

1. Begin by making the guacamole. Place the flesh of one avocado in a medium bowl. Mash it well with a fork. Chop the flesh of the other avocado into small or medium sized chunks. Add it to the bowl and gently mix it into the mashed avocado. This will lend you a creamy base, but with lots of funky, chunky avocado pieces remaining. Stir in the additional guacamole items and stir well to combine. Set aside.
2. Prepare the fillings you wish to use and set them aside.
3. Wash and dry your lettuce leaves and remove the tough portion of their stem bases.
4. Spread the guacamole evenly over the middle portion of a lettuce leaf and top it with your desired fillings. If you live life on the tangy side, squeeze a little lime juice over the top.
5. Roll the bottom of the leaf up and over the fillings and then fold the sides in. Roll up like a burrito. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat…and serve.

Serves 4; GF/SF/Blue (according to the guidelines in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth)
30 minutes or under!

10 Ways to Eat More Veggies (and Love it!):

People always say to me: "I should eat more vegetables, Tess!" I invariably smile at them and say "Shouldn't we all!" But it's so true...eating lots of fresh, organic vegetables makes a world of difference in our health. Good ol' veggies give our skin a glow, keep our digestive system on track, and keep our weight in the happy place. It's also striking to me how much of a difference the consumption of more fresh vegetables would make in the health of our society. Many of the diseases people suffer from are due to diet - a diet that usually includes far too few whole foods and vegetables. So, my advice? Make eating vegetables a joy! If you begin eating your vegetables daily, I promise you'll notice a big difference in how you look and feel. And I also promise that you'll love it!

So here are a few tips on getting more veggies into your daily diet. Ideally, 6 cups of fresh vegetables daily is my recommendation, although even half of that is great!

10 Ways to Eat More Veggies (and Love it!):

1. Make a list of your favorite vegetables. Start there, rather than with ones you "should" like.
2. Try tossing your favorite vegetables with a little olive oil (and garlic) and baking at 400F, until browned and well roasted. Almost any veggies are surprisingly delish this way, even broccoli!
3. Discover as many recipes as you can that use vegetables as the main ingredient. Again, go for ones that sound delicious to you. You'll be more likely to stick with a healthy lifestyle if you're actually enjoying it! There are several delicious vegetable recipes on this blog, in my book, and on VegWeb.
4. Make "snack bags" for when you're on the go. For example, if I know I'll be gone for several hours, I'll often pack some organic celery, pea pods, and carrot sticks (ready to go) so that I can keep up with my veggie intake while I'm away from home.
5. Soup out! Many soups make a great medium for vegetables. Tomato Soup, vegetable barley, and Green Chili-Garlic-Potato are just a few that are veggie-packed delights.
6. Discover your happy salad! Everyone has one. What kind(s) of dressing do you love? What toppings make you smile? As long as you're using mainly whole foods ingredients, you can build a delicious salad that will love you back. For example, one of my happy salads consists of: romaine lettuce, sliced onions, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, diced cucumber, lemon-marinated tofu, and a garlic-olive oil-lemon vinaigrette. Oooh, my mouth just started watering...
7. Try mixing fruits with vegetables for added interest. For example, some sliced pear in your arugula salad adds a delicious, nutritious element.
8. If you need a place to begin, you can also juice your vegetables to help increase your daily intake. Juicers are available for under $50 and can help you stay vitalized with veggie power! Personally, I don't feel the need to juice daily, though - I juice when I feel my immune system needs a kick, or once in a while when my body asks for it (yes, it talks to me...just like yours talks to you!).
9. Make an Asian stirfry for dinner - with a simple sauce made from tamari, garlic, toasted sesame oil, and fresh ginger, your veggies will taste divine. Just make sure to keep their nutrition intact by only cooking them until they're crisp-tender.
10. Wrap them up! Whether in rice paper (for fresh spring rolls), phyllo (for baked pockets), or whole grain tortillas (for veggie wraps), the right combination of seasonings and sauces will make you want to eat veggies til the cows come home! (And they will come home, once they find out you're eating all those veggies.)

Eating lots of vegetables is a great way to prevent illnesses and keep your immune system at its peak! The Kathleen Show has a program called Preventions Not Prescriptions every Tuesday that I really recommend checking out. Lots of great bloggers with wonderful ideas on wellness and health are always involved.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and please let me know your favorite way to incorporate vegetables into your life!

Sesame Tofu with Fresh Basil and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Ever wonder what to do with tofu? You're not alone. This is currently a crisis in America, and I'm here to help. I will not rest until every food eating citizen learns to love at least one tofu dish. Why do I care so much? Because this poor innocent food has been wrongly accused of being tasteless for far too long. And the reason it's often tasteless is poor preparation. No you can NOT just throw some plain tofu in some veggies and serve it on a plate. No, no, no. Tofu must be prepared with flavor-rich counterparts - otherwise it is indeed bland. Think of tofu as a neutral, passive food, just waiting for someone to tell it what to do. However, once it has direction, it goes along willingly, ready for any task.

Incidentally, tofu is high in nutrients like calcium and iron. Just be sure to buy organic tofu, as you can count on it being full of GMOs if it isn't. I've also heard tell of a new tofu on the market made from sprouted soybeans! This excites me. However, I haven't seen it in stores yet. But if you do, and you try it, please let me know what you think!

This little recipe is from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth and is a favorite amongst kids and adults both. Enjoy!

Sesame Tofu with Fresh Basil and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Here is a dish that is very easy to make, yet completely delicious and impressive! If you use both black and brown sesame seeds, it will look beautiful as well. You can serve this plain or alongside some rice or Asian noodles. This is also a hit with kids. The last time I served this to a group of children, I was asked: “How do you spell good dinner?”

1 lb. tofu, extra-firm (not silken)
½ cup “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce” (found in the Asian section of most supermarkets)

Flavor that Tofu:
1 teaspoon dried garlic granules
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons tamari, shoyu, or soy sauce
2 tablespoons liquid vegetarian broth

Crispy Coating:
¾ cup sesame seeds (preferably a mixture of black and brown sesame seeds)
1 tablespoon dry cornmeal
2 tablespoons rice flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

Pan-Frying: 3-4 tablespoons oil (sunflower, non-virgin olive, or coconut)

Garnish: 4 teaspoons fresh basil, minced or cut into thin ribbons

1. Cut the tofu into eight slabs. Press the tofu between paper towels to remove excess moisture for at least 30 minutes.
2. Flavor that tofu! Remove the tofu from the paper towels and cut it into triangles that are about two inches in size. Place the pieces in a single layer on a plate. Combine the garlic, ginger, and tamari. Pour this mixture over the tofu, turning the pieces to coat all sides with the marinade. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, pour the broth over the tofu to moisten it. This will help bind the coating to the tofu.
3. Place the seeds, cornmeal, and flour in a large plastic bag and shake well to combine.
4. In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
5. Place several of the tofu triangles in the bag and gently shake to thoroughly coat the tofu with the breading. When the oil in the pan becomes hot, add the tofu in a single layer.
6. When the tofu pieces are golden brown and crisp on the bottom, turn them over. When both sides are golden and crisped, remove and allow them to drain on paper towels.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all of the tofu has been used up.
8. Distribute the tofu onto four plates. Shake or stir the chili sauce and drizzle it evenly over the tofu. Top each portion with one teaspoon of the fresh basil and serve immediately. One final note: Once you begin eating this dish, you may inadvertently begin cursing loudly to yourself due to the excessive yumminess present on your plate. Don’t be alarmed—this is a standard reaction and will subside when you’re done.

Serves 4; GF/Purple (according to the guidelines in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth)

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

For those of you who aren't familiar with my two-week wellness plan (from RHIW), I've had a testing group trying it out for the past week and a half. They are, to put it mildly, kicking major butt! This is crazy exciting for me too, since their success stories will add color and inspiration to my new book, "The Two-Week Wellness Solution" (due out this spring). The recipes from the new book are all formulated for weight loss (including mainly "green" recipes with a few "blue" ones thrown in), and are all very quick and simple. So, here's a taste of the new recipes from the upcoming book. Hope you enjoy!

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

French fries specially formulated for weight loss? Oh yeah. These so-called fries deliver the flavor while boosting your weight loss with high-fiber, lowfat yumminess. Incidentally, coconut oil is the best oil for weight loss as it's high in medium-chain fatty acids (the kind that aren't stored as fat). Plus, the cayenne will boost your metabolism as well. Enjoy the guilt-free goodness!

One small (5 oz.) orange-fleshed sweet potato
1 teaspoon each: fresh lime juice and melted coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon organic sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
A few dashes cayenne powder (up to 1/8 teaspoon if you really love heat!)

1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Wash the yam well and cut into 1/4-inch thick slabs. Next, cut each slab into sticks. What you're going for here are relatively thin french fry shapes. You should end up with 1-1/2 cups of yam sticks.
2. In a small bowl, toss the yam with all of the remaining ingredients. I use a rubber spatula to make sure everything gets thoroughly mixed together.
3. To bake, you'll want to either have a very good nonstick pan or a silpat liner, as the lowfat nature of these fries makes them prone to sticking to the pan. Spread them out on your pan in a single layer, making sure they aren't overlapping. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and turn over. Bake another 15 minutes and check for doneness. They are done when they're tender and lightly browned. If necessary, they can be baked longer. Remove and serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving/GF/SF/Green (according to the guidelines in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth)

Guilt-Free Burger & Fries

Today, I spent many hours browsing through several health food stores compiling a list of acceptable foods for my two-week health plan. It was fun! I sipped on a gingerberry kombucha (after one of the laid back employees gave me a thumbs up) and scribbled away in my lil' scrappy notebook.

I was honestly very surprised at how many healthful packaged foods I'd never given the time of day to before! There are lots of whole-foods, vegan, nutrient-dense goodies on the market now...which makes life a lot easier on busy days! One such product I discovered was the "Sunshine Burger." Now, I've actually never tried them, but they looked delish & were the only pre-made burger to be found anywhere that completely passed my strict guidelines (vegan, whole foods, organic, and free from isolated soy products). The recipe for fries I'm going to share is a favorite from my book, "Radiant Health, Inner Wealth." They're baked instead of fried, so you can indulge without sacrificing your health! Plus, they're absolutely scrumptious!

So, here's my idea of a simple, delicious burger and fries meal...which you can enjoy completely free of guilt! Your body, the earth, and the animals will all approve of this satisfying meal. Enjoy!

One Sunshine Burger (southwest, barbecue, garden herb, or breakfast)
Whole grain bun & fixin's (ketchup, mustard, Veganaise, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, whatnot)

Oven “Fries”
Believe it or not, these actually taste better than typical French fries! Obviously, they’re a nice change of pace because they are so much lower in fat. However, the unique blend of seasonings make these genuinely scrum-dilly. These are especially popular with children (of all ages).

2 medium potatoes, washed well (skins on)
1 tablespoon oil (olive, coconut, or sunflower)
1 teaspoon organic sugar or sucanat
4 medium cloves fresh garlic, pressed (or ¾ teaspoon dried granulated garlic)
½ teaspoon each: seasoned salt, lemon-pepper, dried onion granules, and paprika
¼ teaspoon sea salt (or less if you prefer)

1. Cut the potatoes into ½-inch thick slices. Next, cut each slice into sticks that resemble the shape of French fries. Keep them as uniformly sized as possible so that they cook evenly.
2. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Place the potatoes along with all of the other ingredients in a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, toss everything together very well so that the potatoes are evenly coated with the seasonings and oil.
3. Place the potatoes on a nonstick (or lightly oiled) cookie sheet, scraping all of the seasonings onto them with the spatula. Spread the potatoes out over the pan so that none are overlapping. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Turn them over with a heat proof spatula, then bake for another 10-15 minutes or so (or until they are delectably browned on both sides). Serve immediately with any dip that makes you flip.

Serves 1-2; 30 minutes or under! GF/SF/Blue (according to the guidelines in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth)

PHOTO by Michelle McCluggage