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    Vilcabamba Raw Food Conference 2011's TOP TEN & Sushi Recipe

    Vilcabamba, better known as The Valley of Longevity, is located at the bottom of Ecuador, South America. It is simply the most magical place with spectacular views, mountains that speak right to you, home to my parents and where the annual Raw Food Conference takes place every May.

    The organisers are Matt Monarch and Angela Stokes Monarch of The Raw Food World, who also happen to live in Vilcabamba. This year I was blessed to be part of this powerful gathering and even though I enjoyed each and every moment, I [somehow] managed to sum up my experiences into TOP TEN. Here it goes... (in no particular order)...

    1) Family and sushi. I'd be lying if I told you that visiting mum and dad was not my Top Best. It's been 18 months since I last saw them! And then there is mum's insane sushi! I can think of many raw foods that I crave, but only a select few I am sure I can live off. THIS is something I can live off easily. Lucky for you my super amazing mum is sharing her recipe right here as a special guest. Find it at the end...

    2) Yoga with a view. Every morning for two weeks straight we were treated to a breathing moving heaven of  a yoga. Irlianna Samsara shared her knowledge, tips and techniques that were totally exciting, rejuvenating and always spontaneous. I love my yoga, but I get too easily bored after 3 classes normally when I get the hang of it and can predict what's to come next, ending up just counting down time instead. Terrible I know, but this time I've not only lasted two weeks with Irlianna, I cycled full speed every morning with dad to get to her!

    3) Visit to Montesuenos. Montesuenos is a centre for peace, sustainability, the arts and new science. Actually, that is not even my description, I copied it right off the flyer, because I have NO WORDS! Everywhere you look (even the laundry floor) contains the most intricate design and creativity, every wall hangs the most unbelievable painting, every room is entirely unique and each step outdoors brings another 'wow'. And all this developed from the genius minds of Meredith Miller (renowned visionary artist and interior designer) and Brian O'Leary (author of many books on the Project Camelot and ex-Apollo Astronaut, who was hand-picked to lead the first manned mission to Mars). If you do plan a visit, this is the retreat to stay at, as all rooms are for rent!

    4) Getting a puppy. I am sooo happy that mum and dad happened to find their new baby while I was visiting. I got to spend the best time with her, as she is at her cutest, funniest and most irresistible stage. Cuter still is her name- curly Kiwi. :)

    5) Potluck at the Monarch's. So many parties, dinners and gatherings to choose from for my top ten, I had a difficult time deciding. Accept Matt and Angela's potluck was a no-brainer, a definite highlight. In fact so good, I will have a separate post just for it coming up next..

    6) Wild edible herbs walk. Man, this walk was right up my alley, I was deing to find out what sort of local herbs and greens I could pick for juicing and to my surprise- pretty much ALL we passed were medicinal on some level. And I am telling you- there were alot! My fave was the Prickly Pear Cactus aka Nopal Opuntia, which lowers blood pressure, regulates blood sugars, supports immune system, has masses of Vitamin C and 17 amino acids. You just peel it and chop into your salad. It has the texture of a smooth cucumber and OMG so tasty.

    7) Chocolate Club Dance Parties from Amsterdam. DJ Crystal DNA is Bastiaan Swager who is also the co-owner of a European based Raw Food business Mastercare. I was over the moon to meet my 'neighbour' all the way in Ecuador and the outdoor parties he put on were just awesome! It was especially hilarious when a whole crowd of locals gathered to watch the drug and alcohol free raw food 'zoo animals' get wild. Love!!

    8) Raw Thai Dinner Experience. If you've seen my post on Eating New York, you'll know how much raw goodness I try everywhere and I would easily say this dinner was one of the best. Kirsten Gum, the leading chef of this incredible experience and founder of Raw Trips came for a few short days, just to tease us it seems, but she sure made it memorable. Specialty fruit and chia smoothie, spicy spinach soup, thai nori rolls and dip, pad thai kelp noodles and mango icecream with coconut bites. I went to Raw Food Heaven.

    9) The hike to Sacred Suenos. This is a challenging hike up 2118m in altitude, where a very inspirational character Yves began to work the ever barren land 7 years ago and built structures with his bare hands and only from what nature provided (including human poop!). I could listen to him all day- the lessons he went through, the permiculture techniques he mastered are jaw dropping, and the view- oh this is a totally different story. Simply said- I've never seen anything like it. Check out Yves' site and volunteer programs, I am sure this would be an unforgettable experience for anyone.

    10) Last but no way least- the presentations. This year's Raw Food Conference brought the most diverse group of bright individuals, who presented on various topics from inspirational stories to educational nutrition advice to practical hands on learning and tasting. I was beyond grateful to listen to and get to know personally David Rainoshek, Tresa Yung, Dave the Raw Food Trucker, Matt Monarch, Angela Stokes Monarch and so many others. Is it a crime to say I enjoyed my own presentation too? :) Well I enjoyed giving the talk anyway- ALOT. It was on one of my favourite topics 'Sprouting' and I'll be posting a video with a summary and recipe shortly xx

    Nooow then, onto that amazing Sushi recipe that I promised you at the beginning...


    For the wraps
    Nori sheets
    1,5 cups sunflower seeds, soaked overnight, drained and processed in food processer to a paste
    Carrots, thinly diced
    Avocado, sliced
    Apple, chopped into strips
    Sprouts (we used Snow pea shoots)

    For the pickled ginger
    4cm ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
    1 tsp raw honey
    juice of 1 lemon

    For the Soy Sauce
    1/3 Cup Braggs Aminos (or Tamari)
    1/2 tsp wasabi paste
    2 Tbsp hot water

    - Mix all the Pickled Ginger ingredients and leave to infuse 8-24 hours. Serve with sushi in the marinade or pour it aside if too much liquid
    - Mix wasabi paste in hot water to dilute and mix in well with Braggs for a dipping sauce
    - Place nori sheets shiny side down on a chopping board and spoon the sunflower seed paste in a long thin layer strip in the middle of each sheet
    - Load either the mentioned ingredients or any of your favourites
    -Wet 1 cm of the shiny side of each sheet with water and carefully roll up
    - Cut into quarters and serve immediately with ginger and soy sauce on the side


    Raw Vegan Spaghetti 'Meat' Balls to impress a visitor

    I am yet to figure out why it is that if Raw Food is so much better and healthier and tastier, than its’ cooked opposite, we still try to make it look the same as cooked in appearance? Why do we still call it ‘cheese’, when it’s clearly not made from dairy? Why do we call it ‘pasta’, when it’s not made of anything remotely similar? Why ‘bread’, when baking is not in the Raw Food vocabulary?

    I ask myself these questions often and yet when my [non Raw] friend and fellow blogger Roz comes to stay with us in London, I can’t help but organise a [Raw] meal that I am sure she will identify with. There it is! I have just answered my own question!!

    So if we have really become so adverse to change even in this fast evolving world of technology and need something familiar to identify with, I am certain that my Spaghetti ‘Meat’ Balls will give you all the comforting homely feeling you are after...


    For the Essentials
    -Food Processer
    -Blender (optional, I prefer the bolognaise sauce to be slightly chunky, so only used the Processer)
    -Spiralizer (grater will do the job too)

    For the 'Meat' Balls 
    6 Portabella Mushrooms (peeled, chopped)
    1 Cup Walnuts (soaked 1 hour)
    2+ Tbsp Hulled Flaxseeds
    1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
    2 Tbsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
    2 Tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce
    2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
    1 Tbsp Mixed Italian Spices (I used a combination of Parsley, Rosemary, Coriander, Basil and Oregano)
    1/2 tsp Cracked Pepper

    -Pour the Apple Cider Vinegar and Tamari over the chopped mushrooms, add garlic and basil leaves, stir through and leave to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours. (note if you only have little time, slice the mushrooms really thinly)

    -Rince out the water from soaked walnuts, place them with the mushrooms into a food processer with an S Blade, pulse so they are chopped fine and mixed in, but still slightly chunky

    -Depending on how long you marinated the mushrooms for, you will end up with a different amount of marinade liquid. If there is only a small amount, only add 2 Tbsp of Hulled Flaxseeds, but if your mushrooms are drowning in water, only then add 4 Tbsp of flax.

    -Also add all the spices and pulse a couple of times to let everything mix in, then let the mixture sit for half an hour for the flax to soak up the liquid.

    - Roll into any size 'Meat' Balls you like, but note that the larger it is, the longer it will take to dehydrate.
    -Place on Mesh tray of your dehydrator and dehydrate at 110degrees F for 4-6 hours

    For the Bolognaise Sauce
    3 Medium Tomatoes (chopped)
    1 Red/Orange Bell Pepper (chopped)
    1 Lemon (juiced)
    1 Cup Fresh Chopped Basil
    10 Sundried Tomato Halves (soaked min 1 hour)
    7 Dates (soaked min 1 hour)
    2 Cloves Garlic (minces)
    1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    1 Tbsp Mixed Italian Spices

    -Pop all the ingredients (accept Olive Oil and Lemon Juice) into a Food Processer and process to a sauce.

    -Add The Olive Oil and Lemon Juice and process some more. (Transfer to a blender only if you desire a smoother sauce consistency)

    For the Pasta
    2 Large Zucchinis/Courgettes

    -I used a Spiralizer, but you can also either slice the zucchini as thinly as possible lengthwise and then slice again into thinner strips lengthwise to resemble noodles or you can use a grater

    [Roz with her first Zucchini noodle! My joy is what I can only imagine is like a mother's, hearing her child speak their first word!]

    -To assemble, you can either place the noodles first, followed by sauce, then nut balls, like in the below picture, or start with the sauce, like in the top picture

    -Garnish with fresh Basil leaves

    [A work of Art, thanks to Roz's camera, which is also now on my wish list]

    [We munched and gossiped like teenage girls]

    Stuffed Collards with Raw Mayo and Salsa

    I can’t remember if I always have been or if it is something I’ve learned to enjoy, but either way I am very much a morning person and just love getting up early(ish) and being really productive(ish).

    This Saturday was no different, accept maybe for the fact that I pretty much flew out of bed even before the alarm. My very first Royal Ascot Racecourse experience and I wasn’t about to jeopardise the luxury of time to enjoy the most fabulous dress up procedure.

    I had to stop myself from skipping on the way to the station, as I walked there linking arms with the most handsome man. Even those not attending seemed to know the races were on, wishing us to have a lovely day. I felt like a million dollars.

    That price tag feeling managed to decrease by a few thousand when we arrived in Ascot and saw some truly spectacular outfits, hats and fascinators and I instantaneously began to plan for next year’s event!

    But for now we enjoyed an amazing day with a beautiful picnic to which one of my contributions was “Stuffed Collards and Raw Mayo”. The below picture is actually from previous night’s dinner, which I made for Elliot. Since there was so much left over, the collards seemed like a perfect picnic idea and they went, well, like hot cakes...

    A really delicious and simple recipe for any occasion. All you will need is a food processer and a blender..

    For the Stuffing
    1 head chopped cauliflower
    1 Cup Sunflower seeds
    1/2 Cup Quinoa (sprouted 12-24 hours)
    1/2 cup pine nuts
    1/4 Cup Raisins (soaked 1 hour)
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp cinnamon

    -To sprout Quinoa, simply wash it and soak in water for 12-24 hours. Then drain water
    -Process all ingredients in a food processor fitted with an S blade, till it’s finely diced and resembles rice

    For the Wraps
    8 Collard leaves (aka british greens in the supermarket)

    -To assemble the wraps, cut each collard leaf in half and remove the thickest part of the stem. Place 2-3 tbsp rice mixture about one inch from the bottom of the leaf
    -Roll the wrap up (similar to sushi or burritos) and place it on a serving platter with the seam side down (I just had these rolled up in a tupperware container, ready to grab and dip into the Mayo, but for dinner I sliced each roll on an angle, as pictured above)

    For Raw Mayonnaise
    1/2 cup cashew nuts (soaked in water for 1 hour)
    1/2 cup water
    3 Tbsp Olive oil
    3 Tbsp lemon juice
    1 tsp Dijon mustard
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp paprika

    -Put all the ingredients except the oil in a blender. Blend on the lowest speed. This may take a few minutes, as the nuts break down and become creamy
    -Gradually - one drop at a time - add the oil until the mixture starts to thicken. Continue blending until thickened and smooth

    For the Salsa
    (I didn't include this with the picnic, as salsa can get a little messy, but it is a beautiful dinner addition)
    1 Cup Cheery Tomatoes
    1 Avocado
    1/4 red onion
    1/2 Red pepper, deseeded and minced
    1/2 Cup chopped fresh coriander
    1 lime, juiced
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp ground pepper
    1/8 tsp cayenne

    -Chop all veges into small pieces
    -Mix all ingredients in a bowl

    Two Raw Pizzas (or salads for those without dehydrators)

    Wednesday 28th April 2010- A date to remember! My born and bred heavy meat eating boyfriend had his first ever - not just vegetarian, not even vegan, but a Raw Vegan Day of his life!

    He made it quite clear early on in the relationship that he is not prepared to live a day without meat, so as disappointing as the statement was to me (being totally happy to live off my favourite tomato + cucumber + avocado salad), I found myself cooking meat especially for him every night of the week.

    Ofcause there hasn’t been a time he didn’t look forward to trying all the new raw recipes I’ve been coming up with and he already religiously drinks his green smoothies each day and has his salads with dinner, but I am sure he is not the only one out there that struggles to overcome the mentality of dead animal consumption.

    So for some time now, I’ve been thinking up a pitch, considering every aspect of an upcoming debate and a strong negotiation point to propose a ‘one day a week’ Raw Regime for Elliot. Going in for the win, I even got stage fright speaking and I can’t even remember at what point he agreed, but I’m sure I still carried on talking, unable to believe my own ears that it took no convincing, no debating and no persuading what so ever. I guess there was a bit of influencing, but that has been 2,5 years in the making.

    With the toughest challenge now over, the next challenge was not necessary to make something tasty (I knew I was capable), but something of a ‘Real Man’ type that does not scream out ‘Happy Hippy’ on his plate. And so the answer was simple:

    Having a great recipe for the pizza base and sauce already (see previous post), the 2 pizzas I decided to create were:
    1. Mushroom and Basil Pesto
    2. Broccoli and Tangy Tahini

    I found its best for the toppings of both of these pizzas to be left marinating overnight, so prepare the night before you are planning on eating them, or early in the morning so the marination is complete by the time you get home from work:

    1.Prep the night before
    2.Food processor for basil pesto
    3.Blender for Cashew Cream- optional
    4.Dehydrator- if not available, then the below recipes are just as amazing as salads


    1 broccoli head chopped small without stems
    3 x Tbsp Lemon juice
    3 x Tbsp Olive Oil
    2 x Tbsp Tamari soy sauce

    1. Mix all ingredients in large bowl and massage with your hands until the broccoli becomes softer, then cover and leave to stand out of the fridge overnight.

    2. The juices may have settled on the bottom of bowl by the morning, so mix all ingredients again and leave to marinate until lunch/dinner out of the fridge.

    3. Arrange the broccoli onto the pizza base (from previous post) and dehydrate for 2 hours at 41 degrees C. You may find it useful to pour the Tangy Tahini sauce and cut into pizza slices half way through the dehydration process, so that you can serve straight out of the dehydrator while pizza is still warm.

    Tangy Tahini sauce:
    1/4 x Cup Tahini
    3 x Tbsp lemon juice
    1 x Tbsp Agave Nectar
    3 x Tbsp Raw Apple Cider vinegar
    2 x Tbsp tamari
    1 x garlic clove or ½ tsp garlic powder
    1/2 x tsp mild chilli powder
    1/2 x tsp ginger root powder

    1. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl
    2. Pour over dehydrated broccoli pizza. I used an icing syringe for even spread and ease.


    7 x medium portabella mushrooms
    ½ x Red pepper
    7 x fresh basil leaves chopped
    2 x garlic cloves
    3 x Tbsp Olive Oil
    ½ x lemon juiced
    3 x Tbsp Raw Apple cider vinegar
    Pinch salt

    -Follow the same preparation process as Broccoli pizza

    [Mushrooms freshly chopped, ready for marination process]

    1 x Cup pine nuts
    2 x Cups fresh basil
    2 x garlic cloves
    1 x lemon juiced
    3 x Tbsp Olive Oil
    1 x tsp salt

    -Chop up basil in the food processor, then add nuts and then the rest of ingredients. The consistency will not be runny, so spoon small amounts over the pizza in blobs.

    CASHEW CREAM (Optional)
    ½ x Cup cashews
    ½ x Cup water

    1. Blend until smooth in a blender. If the ingredients do not cover the blades and you struggle to blend well, just double the ingredients and use left over Cashew Cream in another recipe later (will last in fridge for 7 days)
    2. Splatter over pizza

    It was so so good.

    The Ideal Raw Pizza Base and Sauce

    My parents were recently on the news in Canada talking about how Raw Food can be fun!! I was so busy nodding my head in approval and filling with pride, that it was my friend Anna who pointed out they've misspelt our surname :)

    Watching this video inspired me to create the best ever raw pizza! With many trials and errors however, I decided (and succeeded) to get my hands on the original pizza base and tomato sauce recipe by Raw Chef Pedja used in the actual video. And since it had my parents' seal of approval, I went ahead to create this in confidence.

    Essentials you'll need:
    1. Dehydrator
    2. Food prossesor
    3. Blender
    4. Spice/Coffee grinder (unless your flax seeds are ready milled)

    PIZZA GARDINIERA (makes 2 pizzas)
    By Raw Chef Pedja

    5 x medium carrots
    2 x Cups whole oats
    1.5 x Cups flax seeds
    2/3 x Cups water

    2 x Medium Tomatoes
    1 x Cup Sun-dried Tomatoes (soaked for 1 hr in warm water and keep that water incase you need to add for a runnier sauce)
    1/8 x Red Onion
    1 x Garlic Clove
    1 x Sprig of Fresh Oregano
    1/8 x Cup Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
    2 x Medjool Dates

    6 - 8 collard leaves (in London I found these in my local supermarket under the name of 'British Spring Greens', very original)
    Selection of seasonal local veggies and sprouts (In my next post I will create 2 variaties of pizzas- Mushroom and Pesto plus Broccoli and Tangy Tahini)

    "It is a good idea to prepare the 'dough' the night before so it dehydrates over night or set the dehydrator in the morning to be ready in time after work"

    1. Begin by making oat flour, running your oats through a food processor.

    2. Mince carrots finely in a food processor or grate by hand.

    3. In a spice/coffee grinder, pulverize your flax seeds (I bought mine ready milled) and combine all the ingredients together until your pizza dough is formed.

    4. Let it sit for at least 30mins-1hr before forming into pizza crusts.

    5. Once the dough has rested, proceed by shaping it onto teflex sheets of you dehydrator, into the classic round pizza crust look. This batch will give you approximately two 10" crusts, but feel free to divide the dough into as many crusts as you prefer.

    [Note how my crust goes pretty much to the edges of the dehydrator trays- this is exactly half of the dough and I wanted the base quite thin. If you prefer it chunkier, keep in mind the dehydrating process will be longer]

    6. Dehydrate at 41C for 1-2 hrs, peel off the teflex sheets and continue dehydrating for another 8-10 hours (overnight).

    To make the tomato sauce, simply combine all the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth!

    [You can see how the pizza base shrunk after dehydration. The vital part was to turn it over after 2 hours as per instructions, otherwise it could stick to the teflex sheet and crack during the process]

    Pizza assembly is simple and encourages customization! De-stem your collards and cover the entire base of your pizza crusts. Top the collards off with your tomato sauce and your personalized selection of local, seasonal veggies and sprouts. Cut into slices and enjoy!

    It really was good! But especially with the amazing toppings I made- coming up in the next post..