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Monday, June 18, 2012

Adventures in Eating Gluten-Free and Raw

Most of you know that I already eat primarily gluten-free and high-raw, but I do this by default. I prefer the simplicity and freshness of raw food and tend to feel a bit bloated and over-full when I eat products that are gluten-based (that is to say, I'm fine with soy sauce and beer and the like - just not bread, crackers, or pasta, etc.).
But I was curious to try a product explicitly marketed as "gluten-free" to see how it worked as a substitute. I picked up some brown rice tortillas from Trader Joe's (a dangerous place to go if you've recently been grocery-shopping deprived) and made a wrap for lunch today:


The package does note that the tortillas are fragile and best warmed, so I threw it in the oven at 170* for about three minutes until it was a little more flexible than straight out of the bag. Topped with hummus, onion, tofu, tomatoes, greens mix, avocado, and a little chipotle salsa. (The camera lost the photo! Sorry!) I was immediately reminded why I prefer raw wraps - using collards or chard as the base - over even tortillas containing wheat. The wrap hardened back up quickly and fell apart in a different place each time I tried to take a bite. The wrap itself was also pretty tasteless and just seemed unnecessary. Utensil-free food can be easy and fun but this wasn't really worth it. I needed to get a fork to eat the stuff that fell out onto the plate, anyway. So, fail. Sorry. For those of you who eat GF tortillas more often, is there a specific way you warm it to make it more flexible? Maybe a microwave would work better but I don't use those... Or is there a different brand you prefer?
As for the raw adventure, inspired by Sarah and her dehydrator experiments of late, I FINALLY (I've had this thing for a year or more and it hasn't been used) pulled my dehydrator off the top of the cabinets and tried to make a version of these chocolate GoRaw cookies that I've been snacking on recently.
The ingredients are pretty simple; soaked raw sesame seeds, shredded coconut, dates, and cacao. I was out of dates so I used raw agave in my batch - also my sesame seeds are almost certainly roasted so the cookies weren't really raw. But I mixed the ingredients together (plus a bit of ground flaxmeal to hold it together) and dehydrated them at 105* for almost 8 hours! And they STILL weren't at desired crunchitude. I mean, they still tasted good but I felt like they probably would have dried out just the same if I had left them out in the air for that amount of time. And I didn't know how to form them, so they're basically crumbles and not cookies. They were tasty, nonetheless.
I had them atop a blueberry/banana/spinach/spirulina/goji berry smoothie this morning:


and later, as a snack, with some fresh cherries. This would have been good with some rice milk too.


So, I'll keep working with the dehydrator, probably using a couple actual recipes at first. At least I am less intimidated by the thing now. But in both instances today, I feel like I really just have a particular way I like to eat - rawish with minimal prep (which raw dehydrator cooking is usually anything but) and minimally processed (which GF food CAN BE but often isn't - xanthan gum, among other chemical additives to make for a long ingredient list).
Anyway, stay tuned for perhaps some fun experiments but probably a lot of the same old.

36 comments:

  1. I thought of you recently when I ate at a vegan raw food stand at a farmer's market in San Francisco. It was so terrible, not only could I not eat it, but I was tempted to go back and beg the owners not to make and sell that food anymore because it gave vegan raw food a bad name. I was going to suggest to them that they look at your blog and learn from you! (I didn't go back though...)

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  2. Good to know that the wrap wasn't worth it. Trader Joe's products are so hit or miss.

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  3. It sounds like your dehydrator experience worked out even though they didn't quite do what you wanted. It can take some practice using it, although I've only made pup treats in mine.... maybe I should try my hand at human food in it.

    If it weren't for Mike loving to cook, I'd probably eat a lot like you. Simple, easy prep & very low processed.

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  4. Bummer the wraps didn't work out for you! I use Trader Joe's gf wraps on occasion when I feel the need for something breadish but mostly I just use them to make home made tortilla chips. But those are supposed to be crispy ;) They are a little brittle when I use them for quesadillas but it doesn't bother me if it splits when I fold it over. I just got some Food For Life gf tortillas but haven't used them yet, I'll let you know how they are!

    The dehydrator experiment looks great! Both ways you ate it looks yummy too, I'm really loving it on the cherries. I saw chocolate cherry ice cream recently and though that sounded so good and this looks like it would be a way healthier way to get that flavor combo! I bet it would be great with plant milk!

    I'm with you, I like to eat low maintenance food but I've been having fun playing with my dehydrator ;) My latest experiment is pretty low maintenance, you just have to let it sit for a while. Stay tuned for that!

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  5. What is that dehydrated brown plank that your Smoothie is sitting on?!

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  6. the TJ's corn tortillas are amazing at least! those look like the food for life wraps that aren't really very good, too gummy i think.

    i would dehydrate at 145 degrees for 1 hour (the food temp won't get that high), then at 115 degrees for 12-24 (or even up to 48) hours. 8 hours sounds long but in the world of dehydrating it's not. plus depends on how humid it is out.

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  7. Yes, those wraps are useless. The work well when making enchiladas, but for burritos... might as well just make a burrito bowl because the filling just gets everywhere anyway.

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  8. VB, ha! I am flattered. It really is a shame, sometimes, the misrepresentation of food that turns people off to veganism and raw food.

    Jesse, so true! In this particular tortilla case, I think you get what you pay for - 3 bux for 6 wraps... But yeah, other TJ stuff is great. Bizarre.

    molly, oh, yeah I'll definitely be playing around with the dehydrator - the crumbles weren't bad at all.

    VaVa, the chips sound pretty interesting. I'll probably try em that way too, thanks! Cherries and chocolate is the perfect combination, really. It was so good!

    Shen, oh, that's just a plank I have hanging around. Ya never know when you'll need a...plank.

    Bitt, I don't know if I've seen corn tortillas, but I'll check! Thanks for the tips on dehydrating. I didn't want to turn it too high because the cookies I based them on said "not heated above 105*" but since I changed the other ingredients, it probably doesn't matter much. Plus, good point - it's been really humid here recently.

    S&S, agreed. Bowls are bomb :)

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  9. what delicious experiments! the best brown rice tortilla brand that i've found is from Food for Life. They are amazing...I haven't tried TJ's though...I'm glad you've dusted off your dehydrator! so fun! thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks GF I will check em out!

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    2. I agree. The Food For Life ones are very good. I had one tonight, as a matter of fact! I hadn't had a wrap in quite some time so I greatly enjoyed it. It's totally worth a try.

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  10. I use the TJ's GF wraps for quesadillas filled with hummus, nut cheese, etc, and use a dry hot skillet for cooking. Otherwise they are pretty crumbly and gummy, a weird combo, but true. Like Bitt said, the TJ corn tortillas are pretty good. I use them for tacos & quesadillas. They're too small for wraps.

    I love dehydrated raw snacks but rarely have the patience to make them. I usually have to dehydrate my stuff for 24 hours and sometimes more to get them as crispy as I desire. You kind of have to just turn on the D and forget about it. Not easy when you have something really awesome smelling in it.

    I'm trying to cut back on the processed stuff. I don't eat any gluten any more because it just isn't worth the suffering, but still have a daiya habit and use some soy creamer in my coffee with an ingredient list that makes me shake my head every time I look at it. Baby steps.

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    1. Yeah, these might have been better filled with stuffs! I guess I just depended on them too much on their own. I DEF do not have the patience to smell something and not snack on it!

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  11. I'm one of those people who's stomach is a tank, so gluten has never given me problems. Good luck with your dehydrator adventures - I'm glad I got to use them in school with guidance because I also found them super intimidating. Also - fresh cherries are one of my favorite things about this time of year. :)

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    1. Yah, mine sort of is too - we're really lucky on that count! my gluten problem is more psychological than physical.

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  12. I went to Trader Joes for the first time last year (I live in England) and was blown away by the vegan selection.

    A shame the tortillas weren't so great, but if it's an excuse to eat more chard instead, at least there's an upside!

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    1. Was the TJ in England? Or did you visit the states? And yes! All on the chard ship!

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  13. I definitely can't roll my gluten free tortillas as a wrap! I like to use them as a base for tostadas (and crisp them in the oven). I use Food for Life brand, as we don't have a TJ's just yet, and I like them for the most part!

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  14. Just a plank? Oh dern, I was hoping you were trying to dehydrate everything in your apartment. Turning G into g and what not.

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    1. Ha! It was mostly to stabilize the smoothie on the sofa.

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  15. Good for you for getting the dehydrator going — I'm very bad at that, though I'm always impressed by the results. I tend to cook in the moment.

    Thanks for the heads up about the TJs tortillas. I agree with Bitt about the corn ones, though.

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    1. Andrea, I feel similarly. I guess that's the point of processing food though - stuff to have on hand when you don't feel like cooking, or an easy in-between cooking snack.

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  16. Too bad about the tortillas. I've enjoyed seeing your collard green wraps. They look so pretty and perfect for wrapping, but I've never had raw collards. I'm definitely open to trying more raw food, but I generally prefer my food cooked. I hope you're having a good week and staying cool.

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    1. I'm bringing back the collards! They are actually pretty mild tasting raw. A bit tough but I like them. You too! Stay cool!

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  17. looks great. I also try and focus on raw and GF. I've become really lazy about my dehydrator lately.

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    1. How did a bunch of GF, raw vegans like us become friends with Abby Bean???

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  18. Stinks about the wrap falling apart. At least the cookies turned out yummy!

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  19. Bummer on the Trader Joes tortillas, sounds like green wraps are the way to go. Love the raw cookie crumbles! :-)

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    1. Thanks, they were a fun first attempt!

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  20. Yeah...I think the veggie/collard "tortillas" are the way to go. I only buy Food for Life corn tortillas to make corn chips with, and sometimes I get their sprouted grain tortillas...they work if you just fold them over, but trying to make wraps ends up the same way; they break and the stuff falls out.

    Anyway, good work with the dehydrator. I really love raw recipes; I'm always impressed by how creative they are.

    I'm thinking of you today actually...staying in with a bottle of beer or two while it pours rain outside. Thanks for your lovely note that you sent with the zines! I truly enjoy them. I haven't read the two I ordered most recently yet...I'm saving them for a sunny, lazy day, where I can sit out in the garden and give them a read.

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    1. Wow, lots of votes for FFL! I'll have to find some. Yeah, it drives me INSANE when fillings fall out of the tortillas, ha.
      I was just wondering if you'd gotten the zines! Something was weird with the post office that day. So glad you like them. I sure could go for a beer in this rain too...

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  21. Got an award for you here

    http://alessandra-veganblog.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/i-would-like-to-thank-rika-of-vegan.html

    ciao
    Alessandra
    http://alessandra-veganblog.blogspot.co.nz/

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