Cauliflower Tabbouleh


Media claim that there are many people out there that have gluten intolerance: from as serious as celiac disease to something mild and often undiagnosed as gluten sensitivity. While the jury is still out on whether most people have allergic reaction to gluten in grains, I still want to enjoy one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes: tabbouleh.

Cauliflower is a great substitute for wheat bulgur in it. White bits of chopped cauliflower almost look like bulgur. When it comes to nutritional value, it is nutritionally dense: fiber, folate, vitamin C, carotenoids.  People consuming diets rich in carotenoids from natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are healthier and have lower mortality from a number of chronic illnesses. Also, cauliflower belongs to cruciferous vegetables family, and those vegetables are claimed to have anticancer properties.

I highly suggest giving it a try! Salad explodes in your mouth with different textures and flavors: crunchiness of cauliflower, sweetness of cherry tomatoes, freshness of parsley, and sourness of lemon juice. You can also try cauliflower of other than white color (purple, yellow) to make it more fun.


Cauliflower, 1 medium sized head

Parsley, 2 bunches

Cherry tomatoes, 1 cup

Lemon juice from 3 lemons

Olive oil

Garlic, 2 cloves

Sea salt and black pepper

Divide cauliflower in florets and use your food processor to break them into smaller bits so they resemble wheat grain. Chop parsley finely (or use food processor). Quarter cherry tomatoes. Mince garlic. Put all ingredients together; add lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste.


Be gluten allergy free!




Chia is a seed native to Mexico and Guatemala. There is historical evidence that it has been cultivated way back by Aztecs, and it was as important as corn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvia_hispanica).

Chia learned its reputation due to the fact that it is nutrition dense food and as such it belongs to the family of super foods. According to askmen.com chia has 2 times more protein than any other seed or grain, 5 times the calcium of milk, potassium, antioxidants, iron and significant amounts of omega-3 and omega-6.

I have been eating chia pudding for breakfast for years now. It is an easy and light breakfast: perfect start of a day. I will share here a simple and nutritious recipe of my usual breakfast of chia, almond milk, almond butter (or any other nut or see butter), goji berries, fresh fruit of your choice and some spices, cinnamon for instance.  You can use frozen berries as well: just mix them with chia and almond milk 10-15 min beforehand to let them thaw. After adding milk to the chia, stir the seed few times, it will soak the milk in and expand in volume. If you want to get fancy you can make your own almond milk (ask me how).  Depending on how thick you want your porridge be, adjust the amount of milk.

Chia seeds, half a cup

Almond milk, a cup

Almond butter, 2 Tbs

Frozen berries, 1 Tbs

Goji berries, 1 Tbs

Banana, peeled and chopped

Ground cinnamon










I moved to San Francisco almost a year ago. I feel lucky to live in California where fresh, local, organic and seasonal produce is in abundance.

One of the habits I developed since I moved here is to visit regularly farmers market in the vicinity. There is a couple: one is in Ferry Building and the other one is at Fort Mason. I grew to like the one at Fort Mason more: it feels more authentic, prices are better and it is more spacious.

According to Wikipedia the first farmers market in California was held in Los Angeles in 1934. Nowadays, farmers market at Third and Fairfax is a landmark, tourist attraction, and it is open 7 days a week.  It offers fresh produce and variety of local ethnic foods.

“California remains the US leader in farmers markets with its 729 locations”, writes Huff Post San Francisco. There are almost 3, 000 organic farms in California while there are 900 in New York state according to USDA Organic Agriculture 2012 report. Obviously, we are spoiled here.

I love the routine of going to farmers markets every Sunday, seeing beautiful fresh produce, getting a little taste of fruits, olives, honey offered by farmers, getting to talk to growers and discovering their stories. There is nothing better than to sink your teeth into succulent, freshly picked peach, apricot or prune.  I hope my photography gives you an idea of the experience!








Chocolate Truffles Three Ways


3/4 cup almond butter

1/2 cup agave

1/3 cup cacao powder

1/3 cup cacao butter, melted


Sea salt, pinch



Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Place in a pan in the refrigerator to firm up.

Roll into individual balls and chill.

After rolling into balls, coat with pistachio nuts pieces, cacao nibs and coconut flakes. Chill.



I don’t know if people that are new to raw vegan concept notice how many raw vegan dishes have been created to mimic the dishes from main stream cuisines; pasta, pizza, tacos, etc. I guess it is partially because  the familiarity of dishes that most of us grew up with makes the whole process of switching to new and unknown less dramatic, and partially because out of creativity. But I know for sure that most raw vegans go through the phase of faking the real thing.

Don’t get me wrong: I love zucchini pasta and cashew sour cream, and I am a big fan of creativity. Moreover, who said that when we say milk, we should think of milk that comes from animals? After all almond milk has been used by French cooks as far back as XV century.

With time though I came to realize that it will be even more creative if new dishes are developed without trying to make something taste exactly like it tastes in different cuisine–although mashed “potatoes” made from cauliflower/cashews or celery roots (there are many more other variations out there) might look like a “real thing”, they still don’t taste like mashed potatoes made from potatoes, and the main reason for it being, I assume,  that potatoes are starchy vegetables while cauliflower and celery roots aren’t.

Having said that, I am still, from time to time, inspired to create take-ons on classical dishes. What appeals most to me in the process is intensive creative thinking that is necessary in order to come up with dishes that, at least, look similar to well-known dishes, and at their best taste even better. Also, let’s be honest, it is still nice to receive bewildered looks of my non-vegan friends when they see my creations and realize that except for the name those dishes have nothing to do with the “original”.

So today, I want to share with you my take-on Shepherd’s Pie.

I have partially used the recipe from Rene Underkoffler “Living Cuisine”. I have used the “mashed potatoes” part from it, and some ingredients for “grounded beef” layer, but on whole it is a different recipe.

I won’t provide exact amounts for “grounded beef” because I rarely follow exact recipes myself. I think as long as one understands the essence, so to speak, of ingredients s/he is working with and the theory of combining 5 tastes (sweet, sour, salt, spicy, bitter) in order to create harmony to tickle taste buds, it is possible to deviate from any recipe and adjust it along the way (the exception will pastry art which requires precise ratios). Speaking metaphorically, I think it is better to learn how to make new tools than be giving them and depend on a “tool maker”. Nevertheless, if you need advice and tips, please feel free to contact me for further clarifications.

As for “mashed potatoes” layer I will use recipe provided by Rene using cauliflower. It is not strictly raw though since cauliflower is slightly steamed which helps to create the creaminess. Also I have learned that it is next to impossible to find raw cashews since most of them are being treated with high temperatures in order to shell them.

Feel free to use other raw vegan “mashed potatoes” recipes you can find online. For instance, Chef Tina Jo has an interesting recipe using celery root. I haven’t tried it yet since I didn’t incorporate Irish moss in the arsenal of ingredients I use yet, but it sounds fantastic to me.

I like cauliflower and cashew version very much, and all friends that tried it have been very pleased with the richness and creaminess of it.

With any further delay, here it goes. Beautiful, satisfying and dear-to-our-hearts Shepherd’s Pie.

Cauliflower Layer (“Living Cuisine” Rene Underkoffler”)

2 cups of slightly steamed cauliflower florets

1 cup of soaked cashews

1 cup of chopped peeled zucchini

2 Tbs of light miso paste

3 Tbs of olive oil

1 clove of minced garlic

1 Tbs of chopped rosemary

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients, except for herbs, in a powerful blender and blend until it is creamy. Add water if necessary to help the process, but don’t add too much since the mixture shouldn’t be runny in order to hold shape of a top “mashed potatoes” layer of the pie. Taste along the way and adjust amount of lemon juice and salt.

Mix in minced herbs.

“Ground Beef” Layer

Sunflower seeds, soaked for at least 2 hours

Sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for at least 1 hour


Cumin, freshly ground

Coriander, freshly ground

Cayenne pepper

Olive oil


Sea salt

Green Onions, chopped

Cilantro, chopped

Green peas (or corn), thawed if using frozen

Carrots, shredded

Red onion, minced

Parsley, chopped

Garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients except for green peas, carrots, red onion, parsley and garlic. Blend in a food processor, leaving it slightly chunky. Taste, adjust seasoning. Add the remaining ingredients and mix.

Spread on nonstick drying sheets, forming a rectangular loaf 4 cm thick. Dehydrate for 4 hours at 115 F or until the loaf is dry to the touch. Transfer the loaf from the nonstick drying sheet and place directly on the shelf. Dehydrate for another 4 hours or so to dry the bottom of the loaf as well.

You can skip dehydrating bottom “ground beef” layer if pressed for time. In this case use a casserole dish and spread the mixture in the bottom of it. I, personally, prefer dehydrate version since the flavors have time to marry while dehydrating and become more robust.

Spread the cauliflower layer on top. Smooth with a rubber spatula. Garnish by dusting paprika on top and freshly black pepper.

The Shepherd’s Pie can served warm if warmed in the dehydrator at 105 F for 1-2 hours before serving.

It keeps well in the fridge for at least 4 to 5 days. I had instances when I ate it 2 weeks later, and it was still delicious.



Pine nuts, 1 cup

Pumpkin nuts, 1 cup

Red bell pepper, seeded and diced, 1

Jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, 1

Portobello mushroom, diced, 2

Corn, thawed, 1 cup

Lime juice, from 2 limes

Garlic, minced, 2 cloves

Olive oil, extra-virgin, cold-pressed, ¼ cup

Scallions, chopped, 3

Coriander, chopped, 1 cup


Tomatoes, sliced, 2 medium sized

Mango, sliced, 1

Garlic, minced, 2 cloves

Himalayan salt, 1 tsp

Chili Flakes, 2 tsp

Pumpkin pie spice, 2 tsp

Cumin, freshly ground, 2 tsp

Put all ingredients except for the ingredients of the sauce in a bowl, stir together and let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature.

Put sauce ingredients in a food processor and pulse, leaving chunky texture. Transfer this mixture to another bowl and marinate for 1 hour.

Combing the two mixtures and let them marinate for another hour.

You can warm up your chili in a dehydrator at 105 F for one hour before serving.

It keeps well in the fridge for at least 4 days.

Serve with cashew sour cream and your favorite crackers.


Inspired by “Raw”, Roxanne Klein & Charlie Trotter

The amount of taco shells batter in the recipe below will make good 15 tacos. You can reduce the amount of ingredients. Or you can make taco shells in advance and store them in a cool place: their shelf-live is long.
And of course you will have small pieces left from cutting taco shells from your rectangular sheets of batter: those will serve as crackers or bread crumbs on your salads and soups beautifully.

To get crumbly texture for your “ground beef”, you can dehydrate the mixture for a couple of hours in dehydrator.

I am not giving the precise amounts of ingredients I have used to fill the tacos. I have made 6 tacos and used approximately one cup of “ground beef”, 1 green pepper, and 1 big tomato, 2 avocados, cup of thawed corn, juice of 1 lime and 3 Tsp of chopped coriander.

The layers in tacos recipe are mentioned in order. Basically you have the same filling but by alternating top layer between tomatoes, pepper and corn you have an interesting and visually stunning presentation.

Taco Shells

Golden flaxseeds, 3 cups
Sunflower seed, 1 cup
Filtered water, 3 cups
Onion, minced, 2 Tsp
Garlic, mince, 2 tsp
Cumin, freshly ground, 1 tsp
Nama Shoyu, 1/3 cup
Poppy seeds, 2 Tsp

“Ground Beef” Filling

You can find it here.

Taco No. 1

“Ground Beef “
Avocado, diced, and drizzled with lime juice to prevent browning
Coriander, chopped
Pepper, diced
Tomatoes, diced

Taco No. 2

“Ground Beef “
Avocado, diced, and drizzled with lime juice to prevent browning
Coriander, chopped
Pepper, diced
Tomatoes, diced

Taco No. 3

“Ground Beef “
Avocado, diced, and drizzled with lime juice to prevent browning
Coriander, chopped
Tomatoes, diced
Pepper, diced



Inspired by “Entertaining in the Raw” by Matthew Kenney


Portobello mushrooms, chopped, 4 cups

Black olives, chopped, ¼ cup

Olive oil, 3 Tsp

Sun-dried tomatoes, soaked (2 hours), drained and chopped, 2 Tsp

Raisins, soaked, ¼ cup

Green bell pepper, chopped, ¼ cup

Sea salt

Black pepper

Curried Parsnip “Rice”

Parsnip, chopped, 4 cups

Cashews, soaked, drained, 1 cup

Carrot juice, 6 Tsp

Raw agave, 1 Tsp

Lime juice, fresh, 1 Tsp

Turmeric, ½ tsp

Sea salt

Macadamia “Sour Cream”

Macadamia nuts, soaked (2 hours), drained, 1 cup

Water, ½ cup

Probiotics, 1 tsp OR

Olive oil, ¼ cup

Lemon juice, fresh, 5 tsp

Seasalt, ¾ tsp


Marinate mushrooms and green peppers in olive oil and salt for 1 hour. Dehydrate for 1 hour, until soften. Combine the remaining ingredients.

Curried “rice”

Pulse parsnip in a food processor until rice-like consistency is achieved. Blend remaining ingredients in Vita-Mix until very smooth. Mix with parsnip.

“Sour cream”

For fermented version of the sour cream blend nuts, water and probiotics until smooth. Poor in a bowl, cover with a plate, wrap in a towel and put in a warm place to ferment. You can use a dehydrator at the lowest temperature to do the job. Leave overnight. You should have slightly sour fermented smell from your nuts when uncovered.

For the quick version, blend all ingredients, except probiotics, in Vita-Mix until smooth. Skip fermentation process.


Fill a ring mold with ¼ cup of “rice” and press. Put ¼ cup of picadillo on top and gently press. Carefully remove the ring mold. Drizzle with “sour cream”.


Top Chef, season 5, episode 7.

Contestants were asked to cook their cuisine, their signature dishes to impress a food critic from UK. One of the contestants said she wanted to cook a vegetarian dish but had to change her mind since she was afraid judges would think she doesn’t know how to cook protein. Well, how about to know how to cook non-animal products? Isn’t this as important as being able to deliver medium rare steak?

Top Chef, season 5, episode 8.

Visiting small local farms, with a beautiful scenery.  “It is nice to see where our food comes from”. Well, the thing is it doesn’t come from small farms like that.

Top Chef, season 5, episode 10.

Contestants were asked to draw a food group they would have to work around. Fabio, one of the contestants, drew “vegetables”. He was disappointed: “There is no reason to eat vegetables when there is meat and fish around”. I wonder why would produces or the show won’t cut such an ignorant comment.

To Chef, season 4, episode 10.

Quick Fire Challenge was to make a salad.
First let’s define what a salad is. “A food made primarily of a mixture of raw or cold ingredients, typically vegetables, usually served with a dressing such as vinegar or mayonnaise”.
It was kind of sad to see that 2/3 of contestants couldn’t go without animal protein to make a salad, using sea food, egg, bacon or beef as the primary ingredient of their salads, adding vegetables (often cooked) and fruits to them. Why to call it a salad then? To me those dishes should be named “beef with diced pineapple” and “lobster with sliced bananas”.
They say a real chef knows how to cook an egg. I would add that a real chef would know how to make a beautiful salad using only plant based foods, and preferably raw.

Elimination Challenge was to make a healthy lunch in a box for police officers using lean protein, whole grain, vegetables and low carbohydrate ingredients.
Was refreshing to see a new breed of chefs (Andrew) who studied nutrition for 2 years and learned about benefits of raw plant based ingredients. He decided to make sushi rolls using parsnip and pine nuts as “rice”. Way to go, Andrew!!!
Well, unfortunately chefs didn’t appreciate his creative idea. You should have seen the look on Tom’s face (one of the judges) when picking apart the roll and not finding sticky rice inside. Padma commented: “He didn’t use whole grains”. Well, you know what Padma: while the judges are still out on the subject of benefits of consuming grains, whole or not, and the growing numbers of people with gluten intolerance, at the same time nobody denies health benefits of raw vegetables.

All in all, as much as I enjoy watching Top Chef show for its entertaining and somewhat educational value (when it comes to learning about new dishes, ingredients and cooking techniques), I find it very biased and one-sided.
Seeing there is a new show called “Top Chef Just Desserts”, I would say it is high time there is a show called “Top Chef Just Vegans”.


Portobello, Sweet Pepper and Tomatoes

Portobello mushroom, 1, big size

Red pepper, 2, medium size

Tomatoes, dehydrated, ½ cup

Creamy Herb and Zucchini Custard

Zucchini, peeled and chopped, 1 ½ cup

Cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours, drained, 1 cup

White onion, chopped, ¼ cup

Nutritional yeast, 3 Tsp

Psyllium husk, 3 Tsp

White miso, 2 Tsp

Lemon juice, 2 Tsp

Salt, 1 tsp

Water, ½ cup

Garlic, 1 clove

Thyme, fresh, 2 Tsp

Spring onions, chopped, ¼ cup

Basil, fresh, chiffonade, 2 Tsp

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