I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

In Diane's Sunny Kitchen - Part III

Alrighty, back with the last of our kitchen adventures at Diane's in beautiful Santa Barbara. In case you've missed them, I've posted Part I and Part II here and here.

Christmas Feast For One
When the idea to go down to Southern California started to materialize early this fall, Diane had already made arrangements to go on a trip for a month. She graciously offered, though, that I stay at her place while she'd be away. It worked out wonderfully; I looked after her green companions and picked up her mail while having the apartment all to myself. A friend of hers had lent me an old bike that I rigged up with a back rack, so I was able to cycle to the downtown Farmer's Markets to pick up fresh fruits and veggies.

This also meant that I spent the Holidays alone, which was fine by me as Don and I haven't been celebrating them for over 10 years anyway. I always look at this period more as an awesome opportunity to whip up something special in the kitchen. This year we were blessed with a brilliant offering from The Raw Coach Karen Knowler. Along with several of the people that have trained with her over the years she put together a very special 12 Days of Raw Christmas Gorgeous Gifts Giveaway. It was so much fun to receive a free ebook every day! Needless to say that I utilized these in order to come up with this year's Christmas menu.

I started off with a mulled Clementine and Persimmon Drink that was quite good. For some reason I can't for the life of me find the recipe again, though. Sorry!

For the main course I enjoyed Zucchini Pasta in a simple Alfredo Sauce along with Russell James' Crumbled Portabello Meatloaf. (Yep, the now famous Raw Chef is a friend and former student of Karen's.) As always, Russell's incredible talent in creating recipes came through: the Meatloaf was super flavorful and moist. And what a cool idea to coat the loaf with crumbs made from a mixture of flax, almond pulp and spices!

Crumbled Portabello Meatloaf
From Russell James' Deliciously Decadent Christmas Menu Recipes

For the “roasted” mushrooms and peppers
4 cups portabello mushrooms
2 1⁄2 cups sweet red pepper or red bell pepper
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1⁄2 cup olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt

1.    Slice the mushrooms into approx 1cm slices and the peppers approx 1⁄2 cm.

2.    Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt in a bowl. Add the sliced mushrooms and peppers to the bowl, and cover thoroughly in mixture.

3.    Place mushrooms and peppers on a Paraflexx dehydrator sheet, dehydrate for 6 - 8 hours, or overnight.

For the nut loaf 
1 cup walnuts, soaked overnight
1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
1 medium onion
1⁄4 cup tamari
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄4 cup fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons fresh sage
2 Tablespoons dried mixed herbs

1.    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until thoroughly mixed.

2.    Add the dehydrated mushrooms and peppers and process again leaving the mushrooms and peppers chunky.

3.    Remove from processor and form into a loaf approx 2cm tall and 4cm wide.

For the crumbs
1⁄4 cup flax
1⁄4 cup almond pulp
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons dried mixed herbs
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric

1.    Grind all ingredients in a food processor.

2.    Cover the outside of the meatloaf with the crumb mixture and place in the dehydrator overnight, for approx 8 - 12 hours.

For dessert, instead of the usual Blonde Fruitcake which I adore and have been making nearly every year, I was curious to try Nina Dench's raw version of Christmas Pudding. I ended up tweaking the recipe slightly in order to bring out the flavors a little more. I still wasn't completely wowed by the end result, but then again the Fruitcake is so darn yummy, it's not an easy one to beat. ;-)


Christmas Pudding
From Nina Dench and Karen Knowler's Winter In the Raw Ebook

1 cup oat groats/oats 
2 cups ground almonds 
1⁄2 cup flaked almonds 
1 cup chopped raisins 
8 chopped medjool dates 
1 Tablespoon mixed spice 
1 Tablespoon almond extract 
1 lemon – grated rind and juice

1. Blend oats to fine powder in food processor and place in large bowl.

2. Chop raisins in food processor and add to bowl. 

3. Chop dates in food processor and add to bowl. 

4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together by hand.

1 cup white almond butter
1⁄2 cup coconut butter/oil
6 medjool dates 
1⁄4 cup maple syrup

1.    Blend in food processor.

2.    Add to bowl of almond mixture. 

3.    Mix by hand until mixture is well combined. 

4.    Place in mini pudding bowl. 

5.    Turn upside down and pat out onto dehydrator tray. 

6.    Dehydrate for 5 hours.

Serving Suggestion: Top with Orange & Apricot Sauce, a sprinkling of goji berries and a mint sprig.

Carmella's Note: I added the following ingredients: zest of 1/2 orange, pinch salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and the juice of 1 Meyer lemon.

Making some kind of fermented veggies seems to have become a bit of a tradition whenever I visit Diane. Last year we made really yummy Kimchi, so this time around we decided to tackle sauerkraut. She has a Pickle, Sauerkraut and Kimchi Maker sold by The Raw Diet Health Shop, so we were all set. I devoted an entire post on how to make sauerkraut here, so I won't go over the details again.

While Diane has a soft spot for kraut made with green cabbage, like the one she enjoyed in her childhood, I was able to convince her that we throw in a couple of red cabbages as well.

It's always so much fun to watch the color change from a dark purple...

... to the most gorgeous bright fuchsia.

To my delight, Diane loved the sauerkraut and confirmed that it tasted as good as the one she remembers. Yay!

One of our favorite ways to enjoy our delicious homemade sauerkraut has been in this wonderful salad created by Kate Wood.

Dehydrated Goodies
After our major dehydration extravaganza earlier on in my stay, we did crank up the D again but this time nothing serious. We were getting low on crackers - always so perfect for a snack or a quick meal - so Diane got creative and came up with a new combination. They turned out great with both a nice flavor and lots of crunch. Definitely a keeper!

Diane's Crunchy Zucchini Crackers

2 cups sprouted buckwheat, processed in food processor while keeping some texture
1 1/2 cups sprouted sunflower seeds, made into a coarse flour in the food processor
1 1/2 cups ground flax seeds
3/4 cup sprouted oat groats, made into a coarse flour in the food processor
3 small zucchinis, grated (or 2 cups grated)
1/2 cup carrot pulp
2 large garlic cloves
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 tbs tamari
1 tbs lemon juice
 2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tbs smoked paprika
1/2 tsp Penzey's Spices Adobo seasoning (or a mixture of onion and garlic pwds, black pepper, oregano, cumin and cayenne)
1/2 tsp smoked salt

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand.

Spread batter evenly about 1/4" thin on teflex sheets.

Dehydrate at 110 degrees until completely dry, turning over onto the mesh after 3 or 4 hours.

While I'm totally content with sipping on fresh juice and fruit smoothie until dinnertime, Diane usually prefers to have something a little more substantial. For that purpose she likes to keep some dehydrated granola on hand which she enjoys for breakfast with home made almond milk.

Here is a Superfood Granola that she created while I was there. She usually likes to spontaneously throw things together until it tastes right, but this time I helped her keep track of what she did. I know, I know, writing things down sounds annoying and getting in the way of the creative process, but you're always so glad you did when your concoction turns out especially well!
Superfood Granola

Yields a glass gallon jar

5 cups coarsely ground soaked oat groats
3 cups coarsely ground sprouted buckwheat
3 cups sprouted sunflower seeds
2 1/2 cups coarsely ground soaked pecans
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup hemp oil
1 cup raisins 
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 cup dates
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup gogi berries, soaked
1/2 cup mulberries
1/4 cup lucuma
1/4 cup maca
1 tbs cinnamon (less if your cinnamon is strong)
2 tsps salt

Place first set of ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Process second set of ingredients in the food processor.

Add this mixture to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix very well.

Spread on teflex sheets and dehydrate at 110 until completely dry, turning onto the mesh when the top feels dry to the touch.

Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

In case you've missed it, in early January The Raw Chef Russell James made available online a short free Raw Food Mini-Course to give us a taste of what's awaiting us in his new Homestudy Course. My admiration for Russell's culinary talent is no secret - the guy is incredibly gifted IMO! - but this time he really outdid himself. In one of the videos he shows how to make raw Garlic Bread like the one served at the famous Au Lac restaurant in L.A. I'm sure that anyone who has tried the bread there has been baffled at how Chef Ito manages to achieve such a spongy and so cooked like texture. I, for one, tried to figure out the ingredients but couldn't quite put my finger on it. Well, amazingly Russell was able to crack Au Lac's Garlic Bread Secret Code and not only that, but he generously shared the result of his finding with us all! 

I excitedly put his recipe to the test within a few days and, by golly, he really did it! In fact, to me his rendition feels even more balanced in terms of flavors than Au Lac's. A true culinary tour de force! Hats off to you Russell!


Garlic Bread
Posted as part of a Free Raw Food Mini-Course here


2 cups almond pulp
1 cup young coconut meat 
1 cup psyllium husks
1⁄2 cup flax meal 
3 teaspoons lemon juice 
2 cloves crushed garlic 
2 teaspoons garlic powder 
3 soft dates 
1 teaspoon salt

Blend the coconut meat, garlic and dates in a high-speed blender until smooth.

Grind that mixture with all remaining ingredients in a food processor until thoroughly combined.

Form into 2 loaves 3cm high and 5cm (1 ̋ by 2 ̋) wide.

Dehydrate on a mesh sheet for 14 hours at 115°F.

Remove from the dehydrator and cut into slices.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I strongly recommend watching Russell's Garlic Bread video to get a sense of what kind of texture you're looking for when preparing the bread dough.

~ When I first made this I didn't have quite enough psyllium husks so I replaced the missing amount (1/4 cup) with ground flax. I also was a bit short on young coconut meat so I threw in a 2" piece of peeled zucchini. The bread turned out beautifully regardless! In fact, Diane says she liked it a little better than with the full amount of psyllium which does tend to give a very slight slimy texture.

~ As you can see from the photos, this first batch came out a lighter color than Russell's - still unsure why that is. 

~ The second time we made a triple batch of Garlic Bread so that I could take some home with me for Don to enjoy. The food processor couldn't handle it all so we ended up mixing part of the batter by hand. This time the bread turned out darker along the crust and in some parts, like Russell's in the video. After giving this much thought, I've concluded that the common denominator was that we both mixed the batter by hand, hence it had more contact with air and oxidation. If it happens to you too, not to worry, it's purely an esthetic thing and does not affect the flavor at all.

We served the Garlic Bread as suggested by Russell with a Pesto Macadamia Cheese. Absolutely to live for!!!

Basic Macadamia Cheese

2 cups macadamias, soaked for a minimum of 4 hours
1 cup water
1 teaspoon probiotics

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.

Place the mixture in a strainer that has been lined with cheesecloth, and place a weight on top. The weight should not be so heavy that it pushes the cheese through the cloth, but heavy enough to gently start to press the liquid out.

Leave to culture at room temperature for at least 24 but no longer than 48 hours.

Once culturing is complete, stir or process in the following ingredients:

3⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Transfer the cheese to a ring mould.

At this point you can remove the ring mould and place the cheese in the refrigerator, or remove the ring mould and place the cheese in a dehydrator at 105°F for 24 hours to get a rind.

On the Sweet Side
I've already shared some of the desserts Diane and I whipped up in this post, but here's a few more...

There was a small pumpkin in Diane's CSA basket one week, so I scouted the net for ideas as to what to make with it. I'm not a big fan of raw squash, as to me it's too much trouble to work with and it's just one of those veggies that tastes soooo much better cooked. So when I saw that Heathy of Sweetly Raw had created an essentially raw Cheesecake using cooked pumpkin, it got my attention. We thought it was very good and the swirls made it so pretty. We served it drizzled with Heathy's excellent Chocolate Sauce from her Just Desserts ebook. Yummo!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Swirl
From Heathy's Sweetly Raw blog

Chocolate Crust

This crust recipe did more than I needed for the cake. I pressed a little into mini silicone cups to make mini cheesecakes and then cut some into squares and dipped in chocolate.

1 1/4 cups almonds
1/2 cup pitted, packed dates, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
4 tablespoons cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons water
Pinch of salt

In a food processor grind the almonds to flour.

Add the raisins, dates, salt and cacao. Grind until broken down.

Add the vanilla and water. Grind and then press some mixture together to make sure it sticks. Add a little more water if needed.

Press into the bottom of an 8" spring form pan.

This filling is so delicious that you could eat it as a pudding with the addition of extra liquid or less coconut oil.

1 1/4 cup packed pumpkin puree
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
7-10 drops stevia
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (1/8 teaspoon dry)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Blend all but the oil in a blender until completely smooth.

Add the oil and blend again to incorporate.

Pour the mixture over the crust.

Chill for at least 8 hours in the fridge to set.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I can't stomach the taste of stevia at all so I replaced it with coconut nectar.

~ For the swirl I used the Chocolate Sauce from Heathy's Just Desserts ebook.

Since there was some extra pumpkin puree left over from the Cheesecake, I came up with the following pudding.

Pumpkin Persimmon Pudding

3/4 cup Irish moss gel*
3/4 cup cooked pumpkin puree
1/2 cup persimmon, packed
1/4 cup + 2 tbs almond milk
1/4 cup coconut nectar
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs pure vanilla extract or liquid vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg

* To make Irish Moss Gel thoroughly blend 1/4 cup soaked Irish moss with 1 cup water in a high power blender.

Blend until completely smooth.

Pour into nice serving glasses or bowls and chill.

There were a few frozen cherries begging to be used in the freezer and I found just the perfect thing for them: my Cherry and Sweet Cream Cheeze Tartlets. I've created a number of decadent desserts in the course of my raw journey but, to me, this one is special. Diane was literally moaning when she took her first bite. "Oh God, this is so good I could die right now," she exclaimed. lol

Raw Chocolate Demystified
I've been determined to master the difficult art of making raw chocolate. Although I've played with it for years I feel it's always been a touch and go endeavor with mixed results. Shortly after arriving at Diane's I bought the Handbook of Chocolate Alchemy ebook, which I thought sounded very promising in assisting me with my technique.

While the book was overall pretty good it failed to cover some issues I was particularly interested in, such as why chocolate making sometimes fails so miserably. I also don't really feel comfortable about the process Will, the author, recommends. He suggests using a double boiler over the stove to melt the cacao butter and coconut oil. I've used this method before so it didn't come as a surprise. However he also suggests to leave the bowl over the heat while assembling the entire chocolate mixture. After watching one of the videos in Russell James' Raw Dessert Course I have my doubts that his technique keeps the chocolate raw.

As you can see, Diane did take the mixture off the stove at some point as it reached 118 degrees according to her thermometer.

We basically followed The Philosopher’s Stone recipe to which we added a little extra raw honey. We then divided the batch in two. We placed dried mulberries at the bottom of mini silicon cups for some of it.

And added orange zest and gogi berries for the rest. Ooopsie, got a case of the fallen spoon. What a shame; someone's gonna have to lick it clean! ;-)

The Philosopher’s Stone
Posted on Raw Chocolate recipes. net here
  • 1 cup virgin coconut oil
  • ½ cup cacao butter
  • 2 tbsp organic, hard and dark honey
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maca and carob powders
  • 2 tbsp mesquite powder
  • 2 tbsp pau d’Arco
  • ½ cup lucuma powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • ¼ tsp soy lecithin
  • a pinch of quality salt
First melt the oils in a bowl on the stove.

Add the honey and stir until dissolved. 

Then add the rest of the ingredients in that order.

Carmella's Notes:
~ We added an extra 2 tbs honey and omitted the pau d'Arco.

~ We divided the mixture in two batches and added 1/3 cup gogi berries and 1 tbs orange zest to half of it.

Will uses superfood powders in many of his recipes which I like a lot. While the choccie tastes really good, we found it rather grainy and lacking the lovely sheen that professional chocolate usually has.

But thankfully for me it seems that Raw Chocolate was in the air. I learned that it was the theme of Matthew Kenney and Meredith Baird's brand new book, which was due to come out in early February. I wasn't sure if it would arrive in time before I head back home but I decided to take a chance anyway and ordered it. To my delight it did! Yippee! Raw Chocolate is absolutely gorgeous and the recipes cover everything from truffles, to fudge, buttercups, smoothies and bonbons. Soooooo many recipes that caught my eye!

While I was busy packing for my eminent departure, Diane had a chocolate play day. She tackled the Marzipan Cups. The basic Chocolate Recipe is awesome and seems to be the fool proof recipe I'd been searching for. Hurray! The use of the dehydrator to liquify the oils was like a revelation; it couldn't be simpler and ensures that the chocolate stays raw.

Diane spooning off the chocolate mixture into the bottom of molds for the initial coating. She then placed them in the fridge for a few minutes to help the chocolate solidify before pouring out the excess.

Once that was done she made little balls with the Marzipan mixture - absolutely awesome by the way! - which she placed in each mold before filling the rest of it with more choccie.



And decadently yummy!

Not surprisingly I felt compelled to ignore my luggage for a while and undertook a chocolate project of my own: Meyer Lemon Gogi Truffles. They also turned out wonderfully.

That's it, folks, that's all she wrote for now!

I hope this inspires you to spend some time in your own kitchie this weekend!


  1. I can't help but notice Russell's bread recipe here is different from the one in his ebook. Have you made both? If so, which do you prefer? Thanks!

  2. Hi Bitt! *waving*

    Do you mean the one in his Cheese ebook? I tried it last summer and wasn't very impressed. I thought it came out really dry and the texture wasn't spongy. This one is a completely different recipe and is the closest to Au Lac's that I've ever seen. When I look at a slice in my hand and squeeze it I can hardly believe it's not cooked! ;-) Simply wonderful!

  3. Hi Carmella,

    You are so creative & talented, come uncook for me ;)

    I want to try all these recipes! Would you happen to know of a good replacement for Buckwheat?

    Although I'm thinking adding more nuts or seeds for the granola and it still should be ok?

    Nicole <3

  4. Hi Nicole,

    Sorry for not responding sooner but I didn't see your comment until a couple of days ago. ;-(

    Yes, you can totally be creative with granola! Just sub buckwheat with whatever soaked nuts or seeds you have on hand.

  5. HI, This is stressing me out. Do you eat beautiful things like this on a daily basis? I have a family of six, I am also VERY behind on alot things because of health issues and kids, and I feel like I am on the upswing, but the one thing that consumes me is food whether it is raw or eating whole foods. The time and the clean up is overwhelming, and I can't get to the other crap...So besides for knowing if you eat creations like this on a daily basis, how much time is consumed planning, preparing and cleaning up?

    1. Hehe, no need to be stressed out Joelle! No, no, I don't eat fancy and elaborate dishes every day; only on special occasions or when I feel like a treat. ;-)

      Most of the time we'll eat simply. We always start the day off with a fresh juice, then have a green smoothie for lunch. Dinner always begins with a warm raw soup then we have a salad and raw crackers and some kind of spread or nut cheeze or marinated veggies on zucchini noodles or cooked quinoa, or perhaps a large miso soup. I have tons of yummy yet simple recipes in my recipe books and on this blog (check out the Recipe Index - the link is in the right sidebar!)

      I don't agree with the idea that raw food prep requires a lot more planning than cooked foods. You just need to think a day ahead whether you need to soak seeds or nuts for a spread kinda thing, really. The most planning and food prep is for dehydrating goodies. I like to have what I call a 'D Day' during which I fill up the entire dehydrator with crackers, nut burgers, pizza crusts or other such staples. I then freeze whatever I won't use during the week. That way all I have to do about a couple of hours before dinner is get these out of the freezer and pop them in the D to warm up.

      As for food prep and clean up, I am blessed to have Don to help me in the kitchen. Makes such a huge difference! I'd say that, on average, dinner takes us less than 1/2 hr to prep between the two of us. It's especially fast if you already have a dressing or spread made. The blender quickly becomes a rawbie's best friend too as it's so easy to chop everything and throw it in there.

      Hope this helps alleviate your concerns!