Wednesday, September 27, 2006
What someone new to the world of raw food may be wondering - what is the difference? Which one should I use? Is one sweeter than the other? Do I use them in the same amounts? Is one more healthy than the other?
This is my experience using these two sweeteners in raw food preparation:
Before I start with the comparisons, I would like to note that the optimal way to use these is in a raw, organic state. Cooked sugars react differently in a body just as all cooked foods do.
Buying raw agave nectar and raw or uncooked honey is your best bet. Honey may need to state "unheated" or "heated at low temperatures" as often the honey needs to be warmed for processing, but not cooked. Buying them organic whenever possible will insure that there are no pesticides or chemicals in your product.
Agave nectar is a very fluid, very sweet, clean tasting sweetener. It tastes just like cotton candy to me. It will not overpower a recipe, or give it a heavy rich flavor. It's purpose is solely to sweeten, just as you'd use sugar. However, agave nectar is extremely sweet so you may find that you do not need to use quite as much as you would honey or regular white sugar. You may only need to use three-fourths the amount of agave nectar than you would honey.
What I particularly like about agave nectar is that it can be stirred into cold liquid without it hardening, it dissolves almost immediately. It also is not sticky like honey is. According to the Madhava company, agave nectar has a lower glycemic index, so it can be used by those with sugar related problems more than other sweeteners, like honey or sugar.
More information on Agave Nectar: http://www.madhavahoney.com/agave.htm
Honey is an age-old sweetener, used for thousands of years. Honey has a rich full bodied flavor. Since it will harden when cold, it is great to use in frozen recipes or puddings which require a thick, dense result. It is wonderful in certain ethnic recipes when used with heavier spices and seasonings.
I often use honey when making hot tea as I find it more soothing than agave nectar. I have used it many times to sooth a sore throat.
I like to buy my honey locally. There are a couple of sources near me that I find have excellent quality. This is a brand I often use, which is heated at low temps: http://www.madhavahoney.com/ambrosia.htm
I also use "Really Raw Honey" from un-local sources which is a thick creamed-like honey in a wide mouthed jar which is scooped out. I have often used this medicinally.
Here is more information on honey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey
As far as if one is healthier than the other - I tend to think that honey is a whole, natural food while agave nectar is more of an extracted product. The agave nectar I use states "100% pure agave" and "not heated above 115". I have read on many medicinal benefits of honey, but not of agave nectar.
I personally do not regularly eat honey or agave nectar straight to promote health other than using honey for a sore throat on a few occassions. So I find that one is not "healthier" than the other - rather they are both useful as sweeteners.
Monday, September 25, 2006
My husband informed me that the State of Colorado can now sell local spinach.
Now that it is available, I'm not prepared to purchase it as I have so many other greens! That is the good that has come out of this whole fiasco - I bought tons of parsley, green leaf lettuce, bok choy, kale, collards, etc.
I think I was over-dependant on spinach. I would buy it in little organic bags, and it was so easy to throw into a smoothie, and so mild tasting I hardly knew it was in there.
It is tragic that so many people got sick and even died from this. Fortunately I was only inconvenienced by it, but from the inconvience I upped my green variety in my diet.
For the last few years I have learned to discover the good outcome in something that seems so terrible at first.
We wouldn't be on this beautiful piece of land in the foothills if we hadn't lost our home.
We wouldn't be living in this gorgeous city if my husband had not have been laid off 3 years ago.
If I didn't have high cholesterol, I never would have done so much research on health and healing.
If things weren't so tight financially for us, my recipes would still be sitting in a notebook gathering dust on a shelf.
If I didn't do mindless and selfish things, by golly, I'd still be doing them and never learn from my mistakes!
Sometimes it takes something stressful, painful, scary and freaky to happen in our lives in order to have something wonderful and beautiful happen. I believe it's all in the Lord's plan, and His timing in our lives.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
It probably took me 5 minutes to throw together.
It is important to have things ready, like greens washed, onions already cut and bagged, etc. the avocado of course needs to be cut fresh, but most of the fixings can be pre-cut and stored ahead of time.
It just makes it a lot easier to put a nice salad together.
The only "unraw" thing here is the dressing - in a hurry I used Annie's Goddess dressing - now I normally don't do this.
Often people ask "what can I use for salad dressing?". It is so very easy to get in that mindset of having to eat bottled dressing, for whatever reason. What most people don't realize is that the best dressings out there are usually the simplest to make.
Some folks need to slowly get away from the idea that their greens and veggies need to be drowned with a fatty, rich blanket of sauce.
Dressing is really easy to make - The very easiest one was squeezing the juice of an orange over my salad - look out for the seeds - that's it!
Other ways to make dressing is a simple oil and vinegar dressing - just a slight drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of vinegar.
If you don't want to use oil and vinegar here is a really great one - avocado and orange juice.
Dr. Doug Graham has often discussed using a natural fat and a natural acid, meaning instead of using oil which is a concentrated fat, you would use avocado, or nuts, or olive as the fat.
And then instead of the vinegar you use an acid straight from the tree, such as lemon, orange, lime, tomato, etc.
So here are some great combinations:
+ Avocado -and- lemon or lime or orange juice or tomato, etc.
+ Soaked cashews -and- lemon or lime or orange juice or tomato, etc.
+ Almond or tahini butter -and- lemon or lime or orange juice or tomato, etc.
+ Olives -and- lemon or lime or orange juice or tomato, etc.
Now you may be thinking - that sounds booooring. Well, no it isn't at all. Because every combination is very different from the other. If you use a different combination each time the varieties will seem endless!
And if you are just starting out on raw foods, and not ready for the straight-forward flavor of simple combinations, then go ahead and add a little of this and that to it to give it more zip:
~ Fresh garlic or garlic powder
~ Fresh onion or onion powder
~ Poppy Seeds
~ Sea Salt & Pepper
~ Honey or Agave nectar
~ Soaked sun dried tomatoes
Anything that looks good.
Now the very best thing I've found to mix up a small amount of dressing is a Magic Bullet. There are many other personal size blenders around, but I like this one the best as it comes with a number of containers, solid lids and lids with holes, and two different blades. I don't use the blender or juicer but who knows, maybe one day I might.
Another tip I have for salads is to get the leaves washed right away, and keep them in plastic bags so it is easy to put them together. This is a huge time saver. I cannot fathom how much lettuce I've let go bad because I was too lazy to fuss around with washing. So then I would buy the pre-packaged, pre-washed lettuces, and now they are all supposedly not recommended for eating (talking about the big E-coli scare in the news) - besides the loose heads of lettuce just taste fresher than the packaged kind.
When I make salads, I try not to over-do the additions to it. I try to keep my extra additions down to 2-3 so it doesn't get too boring. By additions I mean:
- Bell peppers (I don't use the green kind, which are just under-ripe peppers)
- Tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried)
- Shredded Carrots
- Shredded beets
- Jicama (kids love this)
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
This past weekend we had our promotion to brown belt and I broke the boards effortlessly - back fist and jumping front kick.
However, I discovered a big welty bruise on my knuckle. Well this time I decided to take a snap shot of it - it doesn't look as swelled up or purple in the picture, but it was pretty swollen. And, my hand came out kind of old looking!
Looks like I have elephant skin!
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Checking in here again. I've been doing a ton of photo shoots of my recipes that I'm working on right now.
This Simple Carob Sauce is so easy, just 1/2 cup liquid sweetener (honey or agave nectar) and 1/4 cup of carob, or cocoa.
Yesterday I had a shoot for the commercial for my site. Things are starting to come together quickly. It is still "under construction" but here's the address: www.rawstepbystep.com
We had a busy weekend! Went to see the balloon lighting on Sunday night at Memorial Park. Hundreds of Hot Air Balloons went early Monday morning, which Darryl too Ariel to go see. Jules and I could see them out our window, they looked like little marbles in the sky. http://www.balloonclassic.com/