Tongue Thai-d.

I have a thing for Pad Thai. I'm not talking about a little crush, either. I'm talking about love, here. Infatuation, even. The noodles, with the scallions, crushed peanuts and the slightly spicy sauce--oh boy. If you're into having different textures and flavors on your plate, then you understand me when I talk Thai.

Now that I'm transitioning into raw foods, it's been fun and eye-opening to test new recipes and ways to bring some of my favorite dishes to the raw side. Creating raw chocolate chip cookies? I'm not quite there yet. But Pad Thai? Yes, that we can do, and we can do it in about 20 minutes. Nice!

The beautiful aspect about this raw dish is that the noodles are made out of carrot ribbons. They're so pretty and sweet, and have a little al dente crunch to them. Perfection, especially on a hot summer day.

Having gone to the French Culinary Institute, where sauces reign supreme, the idea of an uncooked sauce (that was delicious) used to be foreign to me. After a little trial and error, this is an exceptional Asian-inspired sauce that works great for this dish, and can be thinned out with a little water to dress salads or thickened up with more almond butter to use as a veggie dip.  God bless versatile recipes.

Most of the time, you probably use mint with desserts, ice creams, or berries, but this herb is actually a staple in Asian cuisine. Often times it's paired with dishes that are rich in spices to balance the heat and flavors.

Okay, let's get our 'cook' on!

Carrot Pad Thai
Serves 2

For the noodles:
4 medium-sized carrots
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 scallion, sliced
small bunch of mint, rolled and sliced into thin ribbons

For the Thai almond sauce:
1/2 cup raw almond butter
1 small clove of garlic
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 red chile, sliced (remove seeds if you want to avoid a spicy sauce)
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper

For the noodles:
Peel carrots and then use your vegetable peeler to peel away long thin ribbons of carrot. Mix noodles with the cashews, raisins and scallions.

For the sauce:
Combine all ingredients, except water, in a blender and blend until they are homogenized and the sauce is smooth. Add water depending on how thin or thick you prefer to have your sauce. I usually blend a couple of teaspoons at a time until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Season as desired.

Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle the mint on top of the dish, along with some extra raw cashew pieces for a nice crunch, and enjoy this healthy, easy meal!


The Skinny on "Raw"

Have you ever heard of the term "raw foods"? Was the first thing that came to mind steak tartar? I used to be completely in the dark about raw foodism, what it was and what it meant. It sounded like a fanatical club, where only the most granola of hippies belonged.

After reading up on the topic and meeting some wonderful raw people (who happened to be the most  healthy, vibrant-looking beauties I've ever seen), I decided that maybe there was something to this school of thought.

Here are the basic ideas:

1. Every single whole food contains its own specific enzymes that help us digest and absorb the nutrients in that fruit, vegetable, nut, etc. (How amazing is that?) By cooking the food, those very helpful, hardworking enzymes are broken down, which forces our body to work overtime to produce the enzymes we need. By not getting these directly from the source (aka: raw food), we can develop digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies and sad immune systems.

2. This means that raw food is considered any food (fruit, vegetable, nut or seed) that is not cooked beyond 118 degrees. This maintains the integrity of vitamins and minerals and keeps the food alkaline.

3. Remember learning about pH balances in science class, rolling your eyes and thinking, "When will I use this in real life?" NOW. Our bodies have a pH balance that can run anywhere from very acidic to highly alkaline. A cooked meal, whether it's fried chicken or rice and beans, registers in our body as acidic. Any raw food, even something that seems acidic (like grapefruit or lemon), registers in our  body as alkaline. Disease thrives in an acidic environment and an alkaline body, filled with nutrients and oxygen, makes it almost impossible for disease to set up camp.

It's estimated that over 60% of illnesses today are caused by the Standard American Diet (SAD).
Think about all of the plastic-packaged, sugary, processed foods with strange ingredients that dominate our markets. Think about cows on antibiotics and chickens that are disease-laden.

It suddenly doesn't seem too fanatical to eat fruits and vegetables, does it? 
Check out this article on David Murdock, the 88-year-old CEO of Dole Foods who lives almost entirely on raw foods. He's planning his 125th birthday.

This documentary is another convincing argument for this way of life. A handful of diabetes patients move to a ranch, become raw foodists and stop taking insulin. Amazing!

What do YOU think?


Holy Superfoods, Batman.

 Every superhero has his or her arsenal of tricks and secrets.

A trusty sidekick. A somewhat stylish ensemble, typically made of spandex. An alter ego. A special superpower.

This dessert has all that and more (minus the spandex). Before I dive into the wonderful world of chocolate and yummy superfoods, I have to warn you that the following photos and recipe may disturb you. Yes, we're turning the concept of dessert on its head a bit, but we've also built a certain level of trust here at Pip Cooks, right?

I will not mislead your fork or your taste buds. Pinky promise.

Okay, let's do this. Tonight, we're talking about chocolate mousse. Now I have your attention. I mean, who has the willpower to reject this dreamy dessert? It's rich, creamy, super chocolatey--everything an indulgent sweet should be. The plot twist is that we're making it with (drum roll, please):


I know, you might be cringing inside, trying to wrap your brain around eating a mashup of chocolate and guacamole, but again, a little trust in this superhero dessert and you'll be blissfully surprised. So why avo? For starters, it's a heck of a lot better for you than eggs, cream and sugar, which traditional mousse uses. Secondly, they are a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamins B, E and K and are high in healthy fats. No brainer.

The second superfood in this goji (goh-jee) berries. Gojis are tiny, sun dried nutritional powerhouses native to Asia. These berries are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and trace minerals. For more information on its health properties, click here. The list is too long! We're also using raw cacao powder, another superfood, for an intense chocolate hit with yet more antioxidants, magnesium, iron and much more. These can be found in the health section of your market or online.

Mmm, the pictures don't lie

Take out your food processor, go out on a limb and make an amazingly healthy and satisfying dessert. I felt better after eating it. Invincible...maybe even unstoppable. In fact, I'm going to break out my superhero spandex outfit and celebrate.

Chocolate Mousse with Goji Berries
Serves 2

1 large avocado, pitted
1/2 cup Medjool dates,pitted and soaked for one hour
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
small dash of sea salt
1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 cup goji berries (or more, if desired)

1. Combine the first five ingredients in your food processor and pulse until a thick mousse is formed.
2. Scrape down the sides and with the processor running, stream in the water, until it is fully emulsified.
3. Transfer the mousse into a serving bowl and fold in the berries, saving some on the side for garnish.
4. Serve in individual bowls or glasses and garnish with the berries and fresh mint.


Making Scents.

Scent is a powerful memory-maker. I, along with most people with a working nose, have very strong memories tied to certain fragrances. You're with me, right?

The smell of the warm, balmy air when you step off the plane in Florida. The scent of your boyfriend's cologne. The old-fashioned smell that lingers in Grandma's house. They all get registered in the filing cabinets of our brain, whether we realize it or not.

Food smells, in particular, can range from poignant to exciting to nostalgic. Onion and garlic sweating in a pot will always remind me of a family dinner, just as a coconut will call to mind a pool-side cocktail during vacation. Do you remember your first food memory?

Really think about this.

I'm not talking about the first 'Aha!" moment you had at a fancy-shmance restaurant or the first time you tried an exotic ingredient, but the first memory you have tied to any food, whatsoever. It's kind of crazy to reach back into those dusty files, isn't it? Mine is an absolute shame-fest, but I'll tell you anyway.

It was summer break and I think I was about six or seven years old. We had a small backyard and would set up a garden hose sprinkler to run through all day. Good times. My mom was a serial tanner back then (nothing's changed, except maybe now she's added a few SPFs to her tanning lotion), so we all had little chairs to lounge in. I remember going into the house for a snack, and when I opened the pantry I knew exactly what I wanted--no, needed. Rainbow Chips Ahoy.

You know what I'm talkin' about. And I didn't want one or two. I wanted five, FIVE!, cookies to take back to my chair. A little primary-colored stack that I would slowly nibble to make last as long as possible. I think that was the first time I fell in love. Oh, how the warning signs were there.

I said that to say this:
I recently finished and eye-opening book, Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer. In it, the author grapples with his decision to remove meat and dairy products from his and his child's diet. As he thinks and rethinks his choice, he's reminded of family barbeques and what rituals would be missed without the grilled burger or holiday roast. Then he realizes that it's not the burger itself that will be missed, but the tradition and memories that accompany it.

We all have memories we hold dear--some healthy and some otherwise--but, we also have a future that belongs to us for all of the new memories we create for ourselves and loved ones.

Cheers to that. You're remembered fondly, Mr. Nabisco, even if we have grown apart.


Cute dresses need kind cookies.

Hello, dear readers.

To those of you who don't check Pip Cooks too often, you probably haven't missed me. But to you loyal foodie friends who check daily, refresh your webpage, and notice that I've neglected my little corner of the internet, I apologize.

When a friend called me out on my sluggish writing habits, I realized that:

1.) More of you lovely friends read this than I gave you credit for, and
2.) I have a lot of updates that need sharing.

Here goes:

First up, my amazingly talented best friend recently opened her own accessories and fashion shop in Florida and I am SO excited for her! Her name is Neely Butler. She opened the boutique with her friend Tara. And therefore, Teely's was born. Why are we talking about fashion at Pip Cooks? Because it's summer and when you bring your crowd-pleasing cookies (see below) to your next barbeque, you'll need to be outfitted like the domestic goddess you are.

One of Teely's many fun pieces!
Neely, in action, photographing for her site.
I know you all have great taste. That's why you should check out the Teely's Boutique page on Facebook to see their great deals for yourself! Click here to learn more about the girls and their 'Item of the Day' which is always a steal. For real.

Okay, next up on the agenda is the Pip Cooks is going.....VEGAN! I'm sure you've noticed that many of my recipes skew towards the more healthy, socially conscious (ie: no animal products). Well, it's now official. You can still expect easy, delicious recipes here, only they won't involve any of the artery-clogging, belly-bulging ingredients that meat, milk and cheese bring to the table. I'm stepping off my soap box (for now), but if you want more information on veganism and why it's so crazy good for you, check out this documentary, Food Matters, here, for freeeee

Lastly, the real reason you're here. Food, namely cookies. I know I just wrote about biscotti, but it's the weekend and weekends should always involve a cookie or two. These are adapted from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. They're vegan, easy to make, and there are never any leftovers, so consider doubling the recipe.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(Adapted from Oatmeal, Walnut, Plum Cookies)
Makes 12

I changed this recipe so that it's more of a classic Oatmeal Raisin cookie. A dash of cinnamon, some raisins, and no nuts accomplishes this nicely. The base batter is super easy to change, so add whatever dried fruit or spices you fancy.

1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup maple sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins (add more or less, to your liking)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the first eight ingredients in large bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the agave nectar, oil, milk and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl and stir until evenly distributed. Fold in the raisins or whichever fruit you use.

Drop tablespoon-sized scoops of dough onto a prepared cookie sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely before serving and try to keep your hand out of the cookie jar.