Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pumpkin soup

For Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I re-post today this entry, which I originally wrote in October 2009, it's still as good as then, I tweaked the recipe to accommodate vegetarians as well. 

Everywhere in my blog neighborhoods appear dishes and recipes. See here and here... The season invites for home cooked meals, friends around the table and the splendors of autumn to be enjoyed. Last Saturday's market stroll yielded many fruits and vegetables, among them a sumptuous heirloom pumpkin, which begged to be made into a lovely soup for Sunday nights family dinner, book club guests snack later and follow up lunch on Monday.

My youngest stood by when I carved the top off and deep into the orange flesh to reveal a wonderful terrine for the soup later on.
It smelled delicious and we first roasted the pumpkin seeds as a snack.

Recipe for heirloom pumpkin soup:

1 medium size pumpkin
2 apples
1 medium size onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
5 carrots
1 quart of vegetable or chicken broth
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/4 stick butter or 3 tbs olive oil, thyme, parsley, ginger, chopped raw spouted almonds, pepper and sea salt.
1/2 cup half and half

To sprout almonds: soak raw almonds for about three hours, rinse, drain and put in a glass jar to sprout for a few hours, small tips will appear on the small end of almonds, use as usual or dry in dehydrator until dry. If you want them raw, do not roast them.

Carve the pumpkin carefully, let there be enough flesh be around to keep the pumpkin as a serving bowl.
Set aside.
Cut flesh in to smaller pieces, take out some of the stringy pumpkin fibers, sort out seeds for roasting.
Spread seeds - washed and dried - on to a baking sheet, bake @ 350 degree for about 15 min, until crispy.
Cut apples, onion, garlic and carrots in smaller pieces and roast in butter or oil for a couple of minutes. Do not burn the garlic and onions. Empty chicken or vegetable broth in large stockpot, add pumpkin pieces and all the gently roasted vegetables and bring to a boil, add thyme, gently cook for about 30 minutes, until all is soft.
In Blender blend small batches of soup and return to pot. Add fresh ginger, pepper and salt and keep warm. Reduce to a comfortable thickness. Take off the heat.
Add half and half. (Or leave that out) Serve with chopped almonds and a good measure of parsley!
For added drama serve in your pumpkin!

Bon appetite!

It lasted until today, when the last soup was finally eaten for another lunch!
All what's left now is a pumpkin waiting to get a happy face!


All images by V.Zlotkowski

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mother Earth drink

I call this one Mother Earth for its lovely mild and earthy taste. I freshly squeezed two apples, two handful of mixed greens (left over from my salad greens) one medium beet, 1/2 lbs of carrots and one tsp Udi's oil.

It's yummy and so good for you! 

I took this picture, when I was already more then half way done....it's of course much larger a drink to begin with...


Image by V.Zlotkowski

Friday, November 16, 2012

Julius Kefir...

This is another really lovely drink. Kefir based and deliciously refreshing.
Take 2 cups (lactose free) kefir, 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice, add two frozen bananas and 1tsp vanilla powder extract, mix in blender and serve immediately.
These recipe comes from Diane Stobo's wonderful book 

The easiest way to freeze bananas: 

First peel ripe bananas, cut into 1 inch pieces and lay open on top of a paper towel or thin plastic sheet in freezer. After they are frozen transfer into freezer bag, remove air and store in freezer until use.
They come in handy in every smoothie, which needs a little added frozen coolness. Better then ice cubes.


Image by V.Zlotkowski

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Refreshing breakfast drink

Often I substitute typical morning fare with a smoothie. It's fast and loaded with healthy goodness, which keeps me going for a good while. This one is vegan and utmost delicious. You can of course substitute fruits or add sweetener, but I feel this is not even necessary. 

The recipe is enough for two portions.

Take 2 1/2 cups of almond milk (Fresh or store bought)
pour in blender and add the following

2 tsp raw cacao powder
2 tsp lucuma powder
2 bananas 
1/2 cup frozen aronia berries 
(They add antioxidants and vitamin C and the gorgeous color!) 

Blend on high for 1 minute, enjoy!

Image by V.Zlotkowski

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Raw diet

My diet has been far from raw over the last weeks, due to the fact that I am in greater need for warm, cooked food in the approaching winter season and additionally to the circumstances of hurricane Sandy which left us, like so many others, stranded without electricity.
And smoothies and juices simply cannot be done without it.
Of course there is still the option to eat fresh raw fruits and veggies, which we did, but one can only do this for so long in a cold house, which forces you eventually out into restaurants and any kind of food place to satisfy your hunger. Which gave me again another look into the mostly unhealthy and /or one sided approach to cooking and eating in restaurants in general. 
Of course we were grateful for the multigrain sandwiches and soups, salads and fish dishes, but overall the choices for truly healthy eating are still rather slim. So we were absolutely delighted, when we came across the Hudson Grille in White Plains, which offers, apart from their delicious burgers and other regular fare, an extended gluten free and vegetarian section on the menu. I can report it can be done satisfactory.
Let's hope these offers become even more mainstream and restaurants will pick up this trend, as more and more customers are willing or in need for alternative food offerings.
They even had soy milk for my coffee, still often unavailable at many restaurants and even coffee shops and other breakfast venues.
Here is to healthy eating....


Image via website, as indicated.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Time for orange

Orange is fun! I love the saturated color and it's wonderful for the body... in a raw juice for example.
This one is the last sip I rescued for a photo shoot, before being devoured by my family.
It is so delicious and all the beta carotene will maintain a healthy eyesight. You'll need to add an oil - I choose Udi's DHA 3*6*9 Oil Blend - to make the vitamin A available to the body. The fat breaks it down to be as efficiently as possible absorbed into the bloodstream.

But it is simply divine and refreshing!

1 lbs organic carrots
4 organic oranges
6 organic apples

Juice, add oil, drink immediately!

4 teaspoons Udi's Oil Blend

Image by V.Zlotkowski

Friday, October 12, 2012

A quick soup, mostly raw....

Sometimes I create short cuts to get a quick soup, which fills you up and is super healthy too.
It took two minutes to make and it's really nourishing.
Why it's not raw? The soup base is a store bought juice, which is pasteurized, therefore not raw! Of course that can be done fully raw too...

My base is Knudsen's Veggie juice (low salt)  1cup
and then I added 1/2 fresh red bell pepper, 
                           1/2 fresh cucumber (about 5")
                           1 handful of fresh basil leaves
                           1 fresh avocado
                           1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

Pulse a few times in your blender or food processor until desired texture, and serve into bowl.
Cut up remaining 1/2 bell pepper, garnish with basil leave and sprinkle some raw seeds on it. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are just the ticket!

The variations are endless, substitute or add things like fresh kale, carrots, celery, spinach, tomatoes, herbs...or sprinkle dried kale leaves over it.

Bon appetite!

All images by V.Zlotkowski

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Autumn foods, food for thought

Ah, autumn: Time for soups with fresh and lightly steamed vegetables and a little chicken broth can be a wonderful lunch or light dinner. Whenever the weather turns cold and rainy I long for the nourishment of soups. They can be hearty or light, but the warmth is always welcome.
Since I began eating a more raw based diet, I have long thought how to incorporate soups into it and I have found that small amounts of meat fit better in it then any other substitutes. (I rather avoid wheat and white rice)
I use occasionally gluten free pasta, if I want a little bite, but usually a light broth with veggies will be enough to satisfy my appetite.  Through a lovely friend, who, like me, is interested in raw and other healthy food alternatives, I discovered a wonderful book by Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions. She incorporates many ideas of a natural, back to basics approach to cooking, yet filled with the wisdom of the often forgotten useful methods of making food at home.  I do not agree with all her reasoning about food (f.e. her dislike of soy on the grounds of being unhealthy and her promotion of full fat dairy) and some of the recipes are more difficult to make then others, but I pick, what I feel is right for me and my family. There is a lot of good found between these pages.

These methods are crucial for the success of the recipes, often making the foods easier to digest and I am grateful to have gotten the book. It closes the gap for me between raw diet and more traditional, yet better ways of eating. I incorporate certain food restrictions and I have found it easy to do so. 

Here I used a homemade vegetable broth, added carrots, onions, garlic and baby bok choy, herbs and spices.
The baby bok choy was neither steamed nor cooked. I let it sit for a few minutes before serving in the hot broth and it was light, tasty and crunchy to eat. The result was a nourishing and delicious soup, eaten up in no time. Instead of a slice of traditional bread we eat a slice of toasted spelt bread or (sprouted) manna bread.

I have forever avoided eating beans, they never seemed to agree with my tummy, I always felt bloated and flatulent and therefore these foods never saw the tabletop in our house.
I cautiously followed Fallon's recipe, with a few of my own tweaks, and low and behold I have had little to no discomfort. The secret to an easy digestible bean dish lies in the rule of soaking the raw beans for a long time (most beans need 12 -24 hours), then rinsing and slow cooking. 
I created a vegetarian baked bean dish in my slow cooker and the time it took from planing to eating was worth the while.
It was eaten so quickly, that I forgot to make time to take a picture, but the one provided will serve as a substitute, it looks very much like this below. As soon as I'll cook another batch, I will show you. It has become a huge hit in my family and requests have been made to repeat it!

Here is the recipe:

2-3 cups of small white beans, soaked for 24 hours in warm water. Discard any broken or strange looking beans. They will extend to 4-5 cups of beans. Take a larger bowl to soak. You can start with warm water and leave it on the counter. Cover with at least three times the water then beans.

When done, rinse the beans and put in boiling water, skim the foam. This will take a few minutes. Pour beans into a colander and discard the water.
Then peel 2 medium onions and saute with a little butter or ghee (clarified butter) to a golden brown. Do not burn!
I add at this point a small tablespoon of caraway seeds and let them sit with the sauteed onions. 
Transfer the onions and caraway seeds into the slow cooker.
Add the beans.

In a separate small (2cup) measuring cup slowly whisk together:

1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons vinegar (I use Bragg's Apple cider vinegar)
3 tablespoons naturally fermented soy sauce
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 small organic can tomato paste (the tiny ones)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon (Sea) salt
1 pinch of  red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika powder

Pour mixture over beans and onions in your slow cooker and add 2 &1/2 cups of vegetable broth (I use Better Then Bouillon Vegetable Base)
Sometimes I add 1/2 cup of carrots, cut in bit size pieces.

Set the slow cooker on high for 7 hours.
Occasionally check and stir the mix and add extra broth if necessary to prevent burning.
I try to time my soaking in such a way that it will be done in the late morning, then I have enough time for the slow cooker to be done way before dinner time. I usually take it out, and put it in covered containers to go into the fridge. This will yield at least 8 portions.
Serve with anything you like to accompany your beans. It is also delicious by itself.

Bon Appetite!

Top two images by V. Zlotkowski, bottom three through google images

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Casual Vacancy

The day the latest book by J.K.Rowling,  The Casual Vacancy, came out I begun reading it. It had gotten critical reviews, but this did not stop me in the least from being more then curious.  It always encourages me....
I was pulled in from the first pages, with a strange power, which had nothing to do with the framework of the story but with the language at first. 
The setting is a small English town, picturesque at the first glimpse. The death of a citizen and councilman evokes the feverish actions to secure the vacant seat in a power struggle, which leaves many townspeople in its wake. There is a war raging, not only around the council vacancy, but also between families, between teenagers without much outlook and across the society at large. We look into a mirror and the reflected image is powerful if not downright ugly.
With the clinical precision of a successful surgeon, Rowling dissects, she cuts open festering wounds, drains the pus, to make a healing process possible. These are wounds many would rather leave alone. I applaud her for this and admire her form.
Her language is harsh, bordering on the vulgar, but that only adds in my opinion to the truthfulness of the novel. This is not  the J.K.Rowling world of Harry Potter. It seems to be the opposite end of her story world spectrum. Where the Potter series shows us a magical world, a world where young people, filled with powers and determination reach their worthy goals, here we find a realistically drawn, egotistical society, adults with faults and ugliness to reach their questionable destinations and teenagers lost, without much hope of a future worth living for. There is bullying, there is calculated 'love' and abuse of power. There is violence and many lies. Only in the end she brings, although not a happy ending, a possible way out. A redemption. 
Until the end I was not really interested in the squabbles of the townspeople, but in Rowling's masterful art of writing. The story get stronger and more interesting towards the middle and end, but her way with words kept me going from the start. I did not regret the time.
I was moved in the end and the book and it's message has not let me out of it's grip since I finished the last pages. I keep thinking about it.
True, the book is filled with strong language, but nevertheless a rich one and I could sometimes see the old, familiar Rowling spinning her tale and there were moments, when I instantaneously made a Potter parody out of some lines. There is her dark humor, Rowling writes with kindness about her fellow citizens. The book struck me with it's honesty, a clear vision of the state of our society and the setting, which, of course, can be anywhere, my own small American town included. It fits in, right here, right now, and if some descriptions seem overdrawn it's for the better.
I would strongly recommend this book, also for teens. It would be appropriate school reading from 10th grade on. It should encourage many discussions and food for thought. Perhaps more then this. A change.
Go, read it!

Image through amazon.com

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What I am reading now

To find my way back into my grove I tend to look for books which give me deep comfort and satisfaction, immersing myself in a different world, yet somehow familiar and challenging at the same time. I found such book in Juliet Barker's biography of the 

I recommend it highly. An eye opener about the times, lives and the rectifying of many unsustainable myths about this literary family.

Image by V..Zlotkowski

Friday, September 14, 2012

LIon strong

Wanna be lion strong? Try this one, between an early breakfast and lunch. You will run on it for at least two/three hours. Immediate energy guaranteed!
All the goodness of a fresh squeezed veggie/fruit juice is in here:

For two:
(Make it organic!)

5 oranges
1/2 lemon
1 medium beet
2 cups of baby carrots
2 cups of spinach

After squeezing, stir in each glass 1 teaspoon of Udi's oil! Enjoy!

Image by V.Zlotkowski

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A raw Saturday breakfast

This morning rose not too hot, just right, to enjoy breakfast on our deck. The WSJ and the New York Times enhanced our breakfast at the table. We freshly squeezed oranges, papaya and frozen bananas for a refreshing fruit drink, had a delicious raw cereal with hemp, flax, chia seeds, some goji berries, walnuts and pecans and cacao mixed with cold almond milk.
A few fresh dates rounded up a healthy start of the day.

All images by V.Zlotkowski

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Have you been watching 'Birdsong' on PBS?
I am a newly minted fan, since on the same day the book, which I had ordered a few days earlier, had arrived. Now I read parallel and a little ahead, since the second (and last) part will be shown Sunday, 04/29!

Watch Birdsong Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

In the ruinous trenches of northern France, Lieutenant Stephen Wraysford (Eddie Redmayne, My Week with Marilyn, Richard II) barely seems to register the death and destruction all around him. His eyes are fixed instead on his drawings and his deck of cards, and his mind is focused on the memory of his one love, Isabelle Azaire (Clémence Poesy, 127 Hours,Harry Potter). For Stephen, events unfolding on the Allied front in 1916 are eclipsed by his memories of the summer of 1910, when he met Isabelle in Amiens. When Isabelle leaves her oppressive husband René (Laurent Lafitte), the two lovers share a blissful existence that seems to make up for a lifetime of loneliness and isolation for Stephen. But their idyll is cut short when Isabelle leaves without explanation. Stephen battles the Germans on the front six years later, as he also battles his own internal grief and confusion over his loss. Adapted by Abi Morgan (Iron Lady, The Hour) from the Sebastian Faulks novel,Birdsong tells the story of Stephen's awakening to love and his determination to reclaim it.

Trailer via PBS website

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday smoothie

Today we all slept in a little and then prepared the most delicious Sunday smoothies!

We created different kinds: The children had their own ideas as what should go in there!

 Smoothie for two (kids):

  2 ripe organic bananas
10 organic strawberries
  4 pitted and halved dates
  1 tsp hulled hemp seeds
  1 cup ice cubes

Put in blender and mix until smooth!

Mine was a little different, I love berries, so I added a few different ingredients:

For one:

 1 ripe organic banana
    small hand full of red grapes
    half a cup of mixed frozen berries
1  pitted date
1  tsp hemp seeds
5  almonds (previously soaked)
1  small tsp raw honey
3  ice cubes

Blend it all until smooth!

Bon appetit!

Image by V.Zlotkowski

Friday, April 20, 2012

Raw soup

Today I tried a first raw soup for lunch in this new blender of mine....
I was a little reluctant at first, but then it got me thinking that I would eat all these vegetables raw anyway, so why not mix them up?
So I did! 

First I gathered my ingredients: 

2 celery stalks 
1/2 green zucchini
4 small tomatoes
4 baby carrots 
1/2 red bell pepper 
1 small avocado 
juice of 1/2 lemon 
1/2 tsp Bragg's Liquid Amino
Sprinkle of Himalayan kosher salt

I washed all vegetables and cut them in smaller pieces.
Then dropped the vegetables apart from the avocado into the blender and blended all together. Then I added the avocado, 1/2 at the time and the lemon juice and Bragg's.

I slice of fresh bell pepper as garnish and some sprinkles of raw kale chips cool ranch.

Tasted really good and feels (still, after a few hours) very nourishing!

Enough for two.

Image of soup by V.Zlotkowski

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Super Blender!

Yesterday I finally took the next step in order to create healthy and often raw food!
I bought a high performance blender! I got the Vitamix Pro Series, just amazing what that baby can do in seconds...

You can make smoothies, soups and dressings, batters, ice cream, frozen drinks, fondues...
The blender came with a CD and recipe book, most informative and I am sure I will make good use of it!
We tried it out last night and this morning and although my kids are not exactly adventurous eaters, they both devoured this morning's fresh pineapple/banana/apple smoothie, fortified with hemp seeds and flax meal with dried blueberries. A few spoons of oatmeal and they were ready to tackle the world!
Everything was whipped together within under two minutes and so thoroughly blended, there were no traces of the flax or hemp or anything but smooth drinking of natural goodness!
No sugar was added and the kids both liked that there was some tartness to it!
I added some of the leftover smoothie and walnuts to my overnight thickened oatmeal and it was the most satisfying breakfast for all!
Next thing I ordered online was a small sprouter to sprout
grains and beans for example. 


Also I see a dehydrator as an addition to the equipment family on the counter top in the near future...For additional options for a more raw diet.


Images my own and via website, as indicated.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New food ways

After many diets and different attempts to find a way to live with lactose intolerance and sugar cravings and fighting the typical middle age weight gain, I discovered a while ago raw food diet. It is a way of eating, without actually calling it a diet, because I do not want to change it ever!  A new way of life...
I do enjoy it and it is not a militant regiment. I am not planing on being 100% raw, believing it is not entirely necessary nor perhaps healthy for me.
But I feel great, finding slowly my right weight and believe it or not, my food cravings are a thing of the past!
I found so many helpful sites online and in books.

What I eat and drink:

All vegetables locally and seasonable available, mostly organic (Mostly raw, some steamed, some dehydrated)


Fish (some raw) and mostly white meat ( I do love a steak once in a while)

Soups and stews without refined sugars, dairy and flour.
Cooked and raw.


Brown rice

Seeds, nuts and legumes


Sea weed


Lactose free cream cheese, cheddar, Swiss cheese, kefir and Lactose free yogurts


Home made  slow cooked oat meal

My own creation....



Quinoa, chia, amaranth, oats, spelt bread 

Rice, soy and almond milk 


Super fruits: Acai and Goji 


Love this breakfast Chia Goodness

Sugar free or low sugar jams and preserves

All things pickled.


Almonds, fruis like pears or an apple, raw snacks like 
cacao goji superfood Navitas) or Chocolate Super cookies (go raw), I eat lentil and flax crackers, raw dips and sauces.


I have exchanged soy sauce with Bragg's Liquid Amino's
and use salt rather sparingly. But I do not skimp on spices.


Water, water, water

One cup of coffee a day and teas (back, green, herbal)
Seldom a glass of wine. No other alcohol.

What I not eat and drink - anymore:

Anything store bought pre-cooked or semi prepared, baked goods, like cake, rolls, regular bread, sweets. Canned goods or pre cooked meats and sausages. Only very very rarely do I make an exception.

Dairy, apart above mentioned items

Pasta (I eat brown rice based pasta on occasion)


Anything where I need a dictionary to understand the ingredients...

I try to keep my sugar intake low, apart from natural occurring sugars like in fruits, the amount of sugar in most yogurts for example is appalling.
Same for condiments, I avoid them or make them myself.
A use Dijon mustard once in a while and olive and flax oil.

Sodas and store bought juice 

Very rarely dark chocolate. 

It is amazing what one can eat and find once you put your mind to it!
Life is an adventure!

PS: Almost all links provided under the images are filled with wonderful information on living a healthy life! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 8th in pictures

Happy Birthday, darling! Our girl turns 15!
And happy Easter to all!

Happy Birthday, Lotte!

Easter/birthday surprises

The bunnies have arrived

My lovely girl and I...


Our dog - happy

Into the wild

Busy birds

So much energy

Happy Easter, sweetheart!

What a happy Easter/Birthday Sunday we all had! Sunshine in- and outdoors!
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