Raw Lemon Bars

The following text and images are courtesy of Oatmeal with a Fork. See the full article here. Enjoy! 

Thick Raw Lemon Bars

Lemon bars have always been a favorite dessert of mine.

bar111

My mom got me hooked on them as a little girl, and I pine for them whenever I cruise by a bakery display…out of necessity is born a recipe!

bar22

This raw version is made up of a chewy, sweet, and slightly tangy bottom layer topped with a rich and creamy layer of lemon-y goodness…the sweetness offsets the lemon enough to keep you from puckering, while still maintaining the citrus flavor that makes these bars so fresh and clean.

Thick Raw Lemon Bars
Prep time- 10 mins
Total time- 10 mins
Author: Lauren Goslin
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • Bottom Layer:
  • ¾ c. walnuts
  • ¼ c. unsweetened coconut
  • 5 soft dates (I used Medjool)
  • ¼ t. salt
  • 2-3 t. lemon zest
  • Top Layer:
  • 6 T. coconut oil, softened
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. lemon zest
  • 3-5 drops stevia, to taste
  • pinch of turmeric, to enhance yellow ‘lemon’ color, optional
Instructions
  1. Process together the ingredients for the bottom layer.
  2. Make sure it is well combined, and press it into a small glass dish (I used a 7 x 5 inch Pyrex dish).
  3. Place the coconut oil into a small bowl.
  4. Beat the oil with a hand mixer until creamy (about 1-2 minutes).
  5. Add in the lemon juice, zest, maple syrup, stevia, and turmeric (if using) and mix until combined and a bit fluffy.
  6. Spread the top layer onto the bottom layer.
  7. Place into the fridge or freezer until set (15-30 minutes)**.
  8. Cut and enjoy!
Notes
**If you store your bars in the fridge or freezer for a long period of time, you will need to set them out a bit in advance before consuming them, as they will need time to soften a bit.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 9 Calories: 179 Fat: 16 g Saturated fat: 8.9 g Unsaturated fat: 7.1 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 8.3 g Sugar: 3 g Sodium: 68 mg Fiber: 1.3 g Protein: 2.7 g Cholesterol: 0 mg

2013_04_06

Thick, luscious bars….

bar33

…and the obligatory bite shot…

bar44

I can see myself nibbling on one of these while sipping a cup of tea in the late afternoon…bliss.

bar99

Food Journal Day 5

Long day of work. Sorry, no photographs today.

Breakfast: I grabbed a banana and brought it to work. Ate it around 10:30AM after drinking a ton of water and a green tea.

Lunch: Spinach salad with craisins, sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, beets, asparagus and balsamic. Cup of cabbage, tomato and white bean soup.

Dinner: A handful of fresh blueberries and a square of organic dark chocolate.

After my light dinner, I headed over to the gym for a run and some weight training. I’ll be more specific with my workout tomorrow evening. As for right now, I still have a few things to finish for work tomorrow morning. Life as a public accountant can be rough.

Food Journal Accountability

My food/diet posts have been sporadic and incomplete. To rectify the situation and make it more clear for both myself and readers as to what I’m eating, how I am preparing it and my results both in weight and overall well-being, this Sunday I will begin a detailed food journal with weekly weigh-ins and a complete list of all things going into my body.

Posts will be at least every other day, if not every day and will include photographs of my meals, ingredients, exercise, and how I feel physically that day. Weigh-ins will be done every Sunday. I plan to begin this Sunday, December 10th and conclude on New Year’s Eve. Afterwards I will revert back to my randomness, but hopefully the next 3 weeks will provide me with a good framework of what foods work for me and make me feel best. It will also show you how simple it is to follow a healthy vegan, primarily raw diet, which I will be sticking to 100% during and after this period.

Looking forward to Sunday!

Today’s Eats

After Hawaii, I have been progressively shifting back towards the vegan, high raw diet. It has been a slow transition mainly as I have been too busy to go grocery shopping and heavily relying on the food my mother brings home and cooks for dinner, normally healthy, but far from vegan.

Today was a fantastic day.

For breakfast I made banana chia pudding and had half a grapefruit.

Banana Chia Pudding

– One ripe banana

– About 1/4 cup chia seeds (I eyeball it)

– About half a cup of coconut milk / nut milk

– Teaspoon of vanilla extract

– Dash of cinnamon

– Honey (optional)

I put all the ingredients in a bowl, mash it all together with a fork and allow to sit on the counter or in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. This allows the chia to absorb the liquid and swell. You may need more milk. I sprinkled with a few goji berries Yum!

For lunch I made a curry salad lettuce wraps.

Curry Salad

– Half an apple

– 1 stalk of celery

–  1 mini cucumber

– 1/4 sweet onion

– 1/4 cup raisins

– Tablespoon of raw pepitas

– Salt, pepper and curry powder to taste

Dice all the ingredients very small. It makes the meal much more enjoyable. I made little lettuce wraps with the salad and romaine leaves. Very tasty and very filling. I also added a tiny bit of tahini to the salad to make it stick together a bit. No more than a teaspoon. I enjoyed this with a large mug of hot yerba mate.

For Dinner, I ran out of fun ideas and didn’t have a lot of time or food, so I ended up making a bit more salad with lettuce wraps, same spices and everything. It was just so good the first time around I needed to do a repeat. I had the other half of the grapefruit for dessert. Then, naughty me, toasted a piece of rye bread with Earth Balance fake butter. It is hydrogenated oil free, but still not the best choice. Overall, a great day. Goodnight!

Searching for Balance

Despite the challenges I have faced and the failures I have been through while trying to create a vegan and primarily raw lifestyle, I still plan on persevering and trying to get into a system that works for me.

The move to go immediate 100% overnight does not seem to work for me as I see all the things I am excluding from my life rather than the extra things I am including, such as the kiwis and green juices and the dates. It is difficult to change a thought process, but thinking about this as a good thing, not just for my health, but for my soul and overall sense of well-being, rather than as a constrictive diet seems to be helping.

My greatest challenges are dealing with the amount of junk food constantly in my house. My brother likes to snack and on the worst things. I need to focus on spending as little time in the kitchen as possible and only preparing my meals and snacks rather than assisting my mother cook and making sandwiches for my brother. At some point, I know I will be able to trust myself doing these things, but right now, at the very beginning, it is a temptation I cannot quell. This as well as the pressure of my immediate family to continue to eat meat and dairy as it is “healthy.” My parents grew up on the meat, potatoes and vegetable diet and have continued in this manner making slight substitutes to keep things low-calorie and low-fat. While my mothers cooking is considered healthy, it is not in line with my goals.

After falling into my boyfriends temptations and pretty much eating whatever I wanted in Hawaii, though fairly healthy, I allowed myself a few days to get over my jet lag and stock up on groceries in preparations for yet another attempt. I have formally cut out all animal products. Sticking to a vegan routine for a few weeks before trying to go raw will hopefully make the transition easier.

Today I made a strawberry banana smoothie with coconut milk for breakfast. This was after I had a large mug of yerba mate and 24oz of water (David Wolfe, raw food extraordinaire, frequently mentions the importance of consuming a lot of water in the mornings before eating any food).  For lunch I made avocado lettuce wraps (avocado, raisins, salt, pepper and lemon juice wrapped in romaine). I have yet to eat dinner, but I have some yummy lentil soup in the fridge and I may make some salad to go with it.

This is a good start.

Hawaiian Adventures Days 1-2

Thursday, October 27th

Touchdown.

A ten hour flight passed with no internet, migraines, and the company of a DC native living locally in Oahu for the past 13 years. I arrived at the airport early with the best intentions of completing vast amounts of homework and essays while on the aircraft. However, unbeknownst to me, Continental does not have WiFi, one of the few airlines that doesn’t. Instead I spent the time trying to sleep, watching Captain America (provided entertainment) and an episode of the Big Bang Theory. This was working out wonderfully until a mild headache set in.

I decided to drink some water and try and sleep it off. Soon it turned into an intense headache. I popped a few aspirin provided by the flight attendant and reverted back to my earlier attempt of sleeping. This failed and I soon found myself with a full on migraine, nausea included. I spent the rest of the flight throwing up in the airplane bathroom and trying to manage a splitting headache.

I did steal a few good words with my neighbor on the local hot spots and various things to do while on Oahu. He was super friendly and helpful. I tend to get lucky on airplanes with the people I sit next to.

After grabbing my bag from the baggage claim, I took a shuttle to the Hale Koa on Waikiki Beach. This is an all military, veteran or military family hotel right on the beach. It’s gorgeous. Waiting for me was my handsome boyfriend with a huge bouquet of tropical flowers (birds of paradise, red and white ginger).

After a long embrace, me attempting to hold back tears of joy, we made it upstairs to the room for a romantic evening of red wine and beautiful ocean views.

Friday, October 28th

The day began slowly (island speed) as neither of us wished to get out of bed or pull away from each other’s embrace. Eventually we unwound our limbs and made it down to the hotel’s breakfast cafe for a special treat: The Pineapple Boat and a glass of guava juice.

While I dined in fruity decadence, my boyfriend feasted on a pound of bacon, macadamia coconut waffles and hash browns. I believe he included one or two pieces of melon in his meal for my sake. He found it amusing to tempt the “then vegan” with crispy strips of bacon. I did not succumb, yet (will explain later).

Breakfast was followed with a relaxing stroll around the hotel grounds and to the beach. Planning ahead, he surprised me with a couples massage that afternoon. To pass the time in between we shared drinks at the Barefoot Bar on the beach. I had a sweet concoction of almond liquor, coconut rum, banana, something pink, and some other rum. A Pink Dimple.

We made our way along the grounds to a beautiful set up of outdoor tents enclosed in a private area by thick tropical greenery. The hour long rub down was incredibly relaxing and rejuvenating after a long flight and jet lag. So much in fact that my boyfriend was being massaged by a cute little blonde and I did not mind in the slightest. It was divine.

An hour later, practically asleep, the masseuse roused me and my man and we slowly made our way back to the room. That evening we walked along the Ala Moana Blvd, stopping to glimpse the fish in the channel and headed to the outdoor mall. Our first stop: The Pineapple Room.

This restaurant popped up in my search for good Hawaiian food and it is a bit expensive and definitely meant for tourists, but the food was good and the atmosphere relaxing. We were both still in a daze from the massage but shared a lovely meal at the bar with a very friendly bartender. I enjoyed a fresh garden salad and he, ahi with an Asian slaw. I snuck a few bites of the slaw and it was very good.

Now it was time for some shopping. Coming from Kabul, Kyle had little to no clothing with him. Only a pair of jeans and a few shirts all of which had been crumpled in the bottom of his bag for the past 6 months. We headed to Macy’s where I left him be for a bit to pick out some things and  wandered off to Sephora to grab some essentials. I tried out Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Shampoo and Conditioner which I just loved! Did wonders for my hair. Also grabbed some Burt’s Bees sun screen and lotion at the CVS before meeting up with him at Macy’s.

The next two hours were tension filled. I do not know exactly what happened but somehow we became annoyed at each other. I initially was a little upset that he asked me to leave so he could look around. I had been under the impression that he wanted my help. Then when I had returned he asked me for my opinion then got annoyed when it was not what he wanted to hear. Mainly had to do with jean fit. I liked them a bit more tailored, he did not like the ones I liked. I do not remember all the details in full, but at multiple occasions he told me to go back to the hotel and he would see me later. I was uncomfortable walking back alone at night in a neighborhood I was not familiar with and I did not even fully know the way.

I ended up wandering around Macy’s for most of this time, trying not to cry as I simply did not understand how he could be so annoyed at me after only 24 hours together. We had not seen each other in 6 months and we can’t even be together for 24 hours? I was getting very upset. When we reunited, I tried to be friendly, acted as if I was totally okay and did my best not to negatively critique anything. I thought I was doing a good job until we exited the mall and began the trek back to the hotel. He yelled at me and cursed quite a bit. All out of annoyance, but It cut me deeply. He even went so far as to say we should spend the next day apart. I simply shut down. Walked back in silence. I returned to the room, he went down to the post exchange to pick up some things.

Once in the room and alone, I poured myself a large glass of wine and sat out on the balcony. I played the evening over in my mind trying to figure out where all the tension came from. I just didn’t get it. I was not annoying, nor was I being negative. Just offering a simple opinion by saying which things I preferred.

It felt like an hour had gone by before he returned. At this point I was fairly drunk, on the balcony, and doing very well at holding back tears. He had enjoyed a beer to himself before returning upstairs. He began to talk to me. I don’t even remember what about but I broke down. I started to cry and not normal crying, but intense, wine assisted tears. He tried to explain that its because of the deployment and him not being used to normal things… I really did not care. I was just upset and I did not even want him to touch me when he tried to give me a hug. I couldn’t believe he didn’t even want to spend the next morning with me (I had been excited about going to the farmer’s market together).

Eventually I calmed down a bit and we managed to talk. It took me a bit to open up but I managed to explain why I was so upset- him being so annoyed after only 24 hours, me not understanding what I did wrong, and him not wanting to share the next day with me. We came to the conclusion that we just shouldn’t go shopping together and intended on doing tomorrows things as initially planned.

Overall, we both overreacted, but as the day drew to a close, things seemed like they would be okay.

Mono meals

I just got back from Hawaii (I’ll post a synopsis of my adventures soon) and I am feeling truly down in the dumps.

The trip was incredible, sheer perfect, sun shiny bliss. But the flight home brought me to a cold, dreary and lifeless place with responsibilities and work and away from the man I love who is currently on his way back to Kabul, 6728 miles away from me. As cliche as it is, I feel this longing, an ache, in my chest and body.

After arriving home yesterday I felt so awful I did not even think of food. However, today, while that feeling still exists, I have been trying to fill it with food. I started the day well with a big mug of tea and a healthy salad made from chopped beet, cucumber, carrot, spinach, raisin, sunflower seeds, with some lemon juice and salt as a dressing. This soon went downhill as I reached for the KFC my parents brought home. Very unusual for my household. This made me think of him even more as the first time I ever had KFC was with him. Lame I know, but I am pretty caught up.

It did not take me long to realize that this is emotional eating and I need to stop. I tried to distract myself by going for a walk with my dog, doing some yoga, working on a paper for Chemistry, and scanning through all the pictures from Hawaii (this last one did not help much).

A YouTube video by DaraDubinet came to mind. She is a great person to check out. Very sweet and positive individual with an amazing amount of knowledge about the subjects of raw food. She mentioned the concept of mono meals. Basically taking one core food and making that your meal. Her example was a cucumber- chop it up really small and serve it with some lemon juice, salt and fresh dill. Super simple, very tasty and nothing to intense that you feel overwhelmed in the process.

When I am preparing meals, the longer the meal takes the more I linger in the kitchen and nibble at various things that are not in line with my goals. Mono meals keep things simple and quick getting you in and out of the kitchen without allowing yourself the opportunity to pick and everything in sight.

I am planning a trip to Whole Foods tomorrow to pick up some simple things to start this week off. I will probably not be doing green juices this week as it is just too expensive to keep up after spending so much money in Hawaii, but I’ll start them up again soon.

A note about Hawaii: I did not last vegan. In fast I only made it about 3 of the 14 days. My boyfriend is a very bad influence. I will be going back to the way I wish to eat as I happened to gain quite a bit of weight from my cheating and wish to lose all of it and then some.

Ooo, Tasty!

Caution: This is not a recipe nor do you I recommend you make it at home. It is merely a concoction of the random bits of produce I had in my fridge.

Just made a surprisingly delicious salad with the strangest ingredients.

Salad:

Romaine, carrot, celery, pepitas, strawberries, pomegranate seeds

Dressing:

Horseradish, tahini, little bit of left over pomegranate juice, splash of apple cider vinegar

Horseradish and fruit may sound strange, and it kind of is, but the sweet and spicy balanced out nicely. It turned out to be almost savory and quite filling.

The only thing it really needed was a bit of crouton, the raw version being some raw cracker (chia or flax). These can be made in a dehydrator (which I don’t have) or purchased. Definitely would have added some nice substance.

The morale of my interesting salad, experiments are fun. This is the first dressing I have ever made and it came out quite good. I don’t particularly care for tahini on its own, but when mixed up in a dressing it creates a nice flavor. It is also important to mix different colors and make your food pretty. A good looking meal always seems to taste better. The carrot added some bright orange and the strawberries and pomegranate, a succulent red. While my plating for the picture wasn’t ideal (I’ll work on my photography for the next creation), the salad still looks pleasant and the thickness of the dressing is very appealing.

Overall, a good meal considering it only took about 4 minutes to piece together. Yum!

Juicing Continued

I have officially given up calling what I’m doing a juice fast as it seems I’ve cheated almost every single day for the past week by either nibbling on a piece of bread or enjoying a salad or the delicious eggplant tomato tower I had for lunch today.

The consistency this week has been the amount of juice I’ve consumed. Roughly 40 oz per day, not as much as most people drink on a juice fast and maybe that’s why I feel the urge to eat. However, these 40 oz comprise at least 90% of my day. If I do munch, it has been mainly salads and fresh fruit. Excluding the piece of pie I had on day one and a few bites of bread here and there, I’ve stuck to a raw plant based diet this week.

I do feel wonderful. Loads of energy. Even when I’m standing still, I want to jump up and down and run around in circles. It is a great change from the sluggishness I would always feel after eating as well as the need for a nap everyday and to sit down and rest after meals. I used to get the worst cases of food coma.

Since this is no longer a legitimate juice fast, I’m going to stick to a plan that fits my body’s natural rhythm a bit more. Basically the juice for 2 meals then some fruit or a salad for the third meal. This way I’m not diving for the wrong things because I get desperate. I’m going to try and make the food part of my day around lunch time. It naturally wants to fall into the 4pm lull, but I’d rather my system be as clean as possibly as the evening winds down.

I’m going to stick with this until Thursday. Thursday afternoon I have a flight to Hawaii. Can’t wait!

How Not to Open a Coconut

I picked up a coconut a Whole Foods the other day, a really heavy juicy one, and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to open it.

After venturing onto Youtube, most people simply whacked it with a meat cleaver until it cracks. I don’t have a meat cleaver, so I decided to be creative.

I used a screw driver to pop two holes into the top of the coconut to drain the coconut water. It was delicious! Super fresh and tasty. Then I tried to use a regular knife to whack it. It didn’t really work and I was afraid of breaking the knife so I quickly forfeited that and searched for alternatives.

After trying various kitchen methods and failing miserably, I searched my garage for a power tool. Found none, but I did come across an old hand saw. Not the cleanest way to open a coconut, but after sawing for about twenty minutes I cut through about half of it.

Eventually, the sawing got a bit tedious and I just threw the coconut on my driveway and it smashed into a few big chunks.

Destroying various tropical fruits is definitely a pleasure of mine.

In the future, I think I’ll stink to the young Thai coconuts. Apparently they’re a bit easier to open. Regardless, it was a delicious treat and definitely worth the effort involved.