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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A few favorite things: Live Jolly and Russell James!

I think it’s safe to say at this point that I have been obsessed with raw foods lately. While I have learned a lot from starting our raw cleanse and have been maintaining a mostly raw diet, I am still very far from being a raw chef. Mainly because raw food prep generally requires some equipment in lieu of a stove, including a high-speed blender, a good food processor and a dehydrator, of which I only have one. But, my goal is to own the other two and make good use of them, which means I need and want to continue to learn as much as I can about making raw foods.

That being said, this past week has been full of opportunities to do that. Starting with last week when I had the opportunity to meet up with Chris Jolly, raw chef and owner of Live Jolly foods and I have to give him a shout out. Chris is a New Jersey native who works out of Avon and Red Bank to prepare raw entrees and desserts that can be found at health food stores throughout the area. If you have ever been to Dean’s in Ocean and Shrewsbury or Nature’s Corner in Spring Lake, you may have seen or even tried his raw pizza, pad thai or ‘cheese’cakes, to name a few. Chris’s foods are so good and so popular that he will soon be selling in Whole Foods and is working on a bunch of new products, including kale chips, flax crackers and granola which will be available in stores soon. Which will make it much more convenient for those of us who don’t have a dehydrator at home, all while supporting a local and health-inspired business!

I hope to learn more from Chris in the next few months and can’t wait to try his new items! That being said, Live Jolly needs our help to ensure that his new products hit the shelves. They started a crowd funding project to help fund the new products and make sure that we all get to sample them. You can learn more about the project here: http://www.indiegogo.com/Granola-its-not-just-for-hippies-anymore. Unlike many crowd funding projects, this is not a donation or handout. Instead by contributing what you like, you get some of the new products in return. So it’s basically like ordering the product on line and getting a chance to taste them before anyone else, without ever having to leave your home! Live Jolly has a month left to reach their goal, so lets help them out and eat some yummy raw foods!

Next up was a trip into Manhattan with my friend Nancy to a place called Organic Avenue, a small boutique specializing in raw foods where I had the most amazing ‘Mint Chip’ smoothie. This place was a great resource for raw food products from nut cheese bags, raw chocolates, a variety of snacks and some of the harder to find products like alkalizing water drops and liquid chlorophyll. Yeah, I have no idea what I’d do with the latter, either. Anyway, the reason we ventured all the way to Organic Avenue was not to spend too much money on a some raw chocolate, snacks and a smoothie (which I did), but rather to see The Raw Chef, Russell James demo some of his recipes. If you are at all interested in raw foods, I suggest you google him. He is a wealth of knowledge and has tons of amazing recipes and how-to videos, and he has a way of making things a lot less intimidating. In a mere two hours he whipped up some falafel, flax crackers, nut ‘cheese’ and hummus... all of which were delicious!

Lastly, on the raw journey: In order to put some of this new knowledge to the test, Terra and I decided to tackle one of Russell’s recipes - an insanely rich chocolate torte with strawberry sauce and cashew/ginger cream, for Nancy for her birthday. We may not have done it as easily, or as pretty, as Russell, but I think we did a pretty darn good job, and Nancy loved it! However, as you will see from the recipe below, I will admit that it did take some time to prepare and while we had a blast doing it, it did make me thankful that we have some amazing local raw chefs, like Chris Jolly, to do the work for us!

If you are so bold to try a hand at it yourself, the following is Russell's recipe for the Chocolate Torte (most of the ingredients will be found in any good health food/natural food store. This is a very intense and rich dark chocolate torte... but free of dairy, flour and refined sugar!).

Russell James' Chocolate Torte:

The Crust:

1 1/2 cups raw pecans
3/4 raisins roughly chopped
2 Tbsn softened raw coconut oil*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt

Process pecans, raisins, cinnamon and salt in a food processor. Add coconut oil and vanilla and process again until pastey. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9" springform pan or pie plate. (You can sprinkle the bottom of the pie plate with a little bit of dried coconut to prevent the crust from sticking). Place in the fridge.

The Filling:
2 cups raw cashews
1 cup water
2 cups raw cacao powder
1 1/2 cups cacao butter*
2 Tbsn vanilla extract
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 Tbsn lemon juice

Blend cashews, water, vanilla, agave and lemon juice in a high speed blender until smooth. Add cacao butter and powder and blend again. You may need to add more water to get the desired consistency (similar to a thick pudding). Pour mixture into pie crust and smooth evenly. Return to fridge to set for 2-3 hours.

The Ginger Cream:
1 cup raw cashews
2 Tbsn coconut oil
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
1 Tbsn fresh grated ginger
pinch of ground clove
2 tspn vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy. You want a creamy sauce-like consistency. If it is too thick to "drizzle", you may need to add some water and blend again until you reach the desired consistency.

Strawberry Sauce:
1 cup fresh chopped strawberries
3 Tbsn agave nectar
2 Tbsn lemon juice
1/2 tspn cinnamon
1/4 tspn nutmeg

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender.

Drizzle both the ginger cream and strawberry sauce over the torte when ready to serve!
*Note: Both the cacao butter and coconut oil should be softened by placing in a bowl over hot water. It is easiest to do this with the cacao if it is finely grated first. You do not want to heat these too high though so be careful about heating them on the stove.

If you decide to attempt this or any of Russell's recipes, or get to taste some of Live Jolly's new products, you will have to let us know what you think!

Keep it fresh and local!


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