Untame Your Life!

Monthly Archive

September 24th, 2007


It’s Wild, It’s Raw, It’s Living

September 15th, 2007

You’ve heard of raw food right? The rule of raw is that foods are eaten uncooked, with no heating above 115°-120°, therefore their enzymes are still living and the vital energy of your food remains intact. It is certainly true that our ancestors ate many foods in their raw form, and eating a living foods diet has been coined a ‘return to raw’. Wild foods can provide the raw foodist with a diversity of choices found out their own back door, versus shipping in exotic ingredients from thousands of miles away.

The wild California black walnuts (Juglans californica) are dropping like mad here in the Santa Monica Mountains. These delicious nuts are much stronger in flavor than the cultivated English walnuts that you find in the store. Walnuts in general have some major health-promoting qualities:

1. Walnuts contain a perfect 4 to 1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and the highest ALA content of any tree nut. Click here to see the reference. This equates to major coronary health benefits, with reduction of cholesterol, no weight gain associated with increased fat consumption of eating walnuts, etc. Click here to read the study.

2. A comparison study of total antioxidant content of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, found walnuts second only to dog rose in antioxidant content…of all plants analyzed. Click here to read the study.

Raw nuts have become a staple part of the raw food diet. Consuming copious amounts of raw nuts can lead to intestinal discomfort and a general imbalance in the diet. So don’t get too nutty! The video above highlights the identification and harvesting of California black walnut (Juglans californica). We are joined in the kitchen by Living Foods Chef Chris J Watts. Be sure to check out Chris’s website to learn more about raw foods, as well as view some of his raw food videos.

Wild Walnut Raw Living Taco Meat

1 c raw walnuts
1/4 c raw wild black walnuts
1/8 c onion, diced
1/4 c red pepper, diced
1/4 c green pepper, diced
3/4 Tbsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper to taste

Soak walnuts 3-5 hours, or longer. Drain walnuts and process in food processor with spices until mixture is in small chunks. Put into mixing bowl and add diced onion and bell peppers. Serve on a red cabbage or collard green leaf as taco shell. Load up with taco meat, raw salsa, guacamole, and condiments such as fresh corn kernels and shredded red cabbage. I cut Chris’s recipe in half to serve 4.


Wild Foods to Alleviate Poverty

September 13th, 2007

Do you think harvesting wild foods would take too much of your time? Think of it this way, if you don’t do it yourself then you pay someone else to do it for you…which means working more! Click here to view an interesting study with the Pwo Karen peoples living in the Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary of Western Thailand. This study, published in 2006, found that Pwo Karen folks spent 14.63 days a year gathering wild food plants (per household). If a Pwo Karen household decides to stop gathering those wild food plants, and switches to purchasing commercial food crops, they need to engage in paid work for 143 days/year to cover the cost. I don’t have to think about that one much. Send me to the forest!

One of the challenges facing the researchers in this study was separating out times people spent foraging for wild foods. I faced a similar challenge while documenting the time I spent harvesting and preparing foods during our 2005 Local Food Challenge. Among other things, I recorded distance traveled to get wild foods. This was really hard to separate from my daily life activities, as there were very few times when I drove to distant locales only to harvest wild foods. Food weaves itself into so many areas of our lives, and oftentimes it happened that I was visiting a friend with a patch of wild strawberries nearby…or going to a conference where I would see a large stand of wild leeks in the forest.

Nearly 1 in 8 Americans are living in poverty according to the US Census Bureau . We have poverty here, in much larger numbers than we care as a culture to admit. The USDA’s Economic Research Service says American’s spent between 30 to 44% of their income on food in 2003/4. So, cut back on your hours at work and start harvesting nature’s abundance! It’s a leap, but this is the 11th Hour.


Teriyaki Weed

September 9th, 2007

Out of all the sea vegetables I tried on the Oregon coast, I would have to say Dilsea californica was my favorite to eat raw. This seaweed has lovingly been called teriyaki weed by Dr. John Kallas of Wild Food Adventures. It literally tastes like you are eating a piece of teriyaki flavored beef jerky, without the stringy chewiness. Its substantial meaty flavor is only offset by the fact that there isn’t that much of it growing.

It can be difficult to tell sea vegetables apart, and there is one other red algae that looks similar to the teriyaki weed. It is called Iridia (Mazzaella splendins), but its blades tend to be wider and its telltale characteristic is that under the water it has an iridescent quality. The Iridia is good to eat, but I don’t think it was the season for it.

The above photo is of a brown algae named stir fry seaweed (Ahnfeltiopsis linearis) by Dr. John Kallas. One interesting thing I noticed when drying my wild-crafted sea vegetables is that the teriyaki weed had a green powder on its surface, while the stir fry seaweed had a white powder left on its surface. None of the others, such as wekame (Alaria marginata) and nori (Porphyra spp) had any dried powdery residue. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? If so, please leave a comment below.


Tangy Korean Nori

September 1st, 2007

Ever had sushi? If so, then you’ve probably had nori (Porphyra spp.). Also known as laver, this delicious high-protein sea vegetable has become coveted on the world food market. The photo above is of some Tangy Korean Nori, in memory of the nice Korean woman I met out on the rocks, who was also harvesting sea vegetables on the Oregon Coast. The recipe comes from a great little cookbook, just published, The New Seaweed Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Discovering the Deep Flavors of the Sea, by Crystal June Maderia. Maderia recently opened Kismet as well, a restaurant and catering business located in Montpelier, VT.

I believe this photo shows Porphyra perforata. It was found attached to rocks in the mid and lower intertidal zones. I used a scissors to cut about 2-3 inches above its holdfast, allowing it the opportunity to regenerate itself. Although it is preferable to harvest nori during spring and early summer, what I’ve gathered has been quite delicious. I’m guessing that specimens harvested earlier in the season contain higher levels of nutrients. Have fun harvesting, but please don’t take too much. There are plenty of other wonderful sea vegetables just waiting to gain in popularity as well.

Tangy Korean Nori
12 sheets nori
1 T ginger juice
1 clove garlic
3 T Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or 1 T umeboshi plum vinegar
2 T honey
½ t cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Juice ginger and garlic in vegetable juicer, then mix with other ingredients, minus cayenne, in a spray bottle. Spray each piece of nori then sprinkle on the cayenne. Toast two pieces at a time until crisp, remove from oven, and cool. When cool, crumple between your hands, then grind in mortar or spice grinder. Store in airtight container or shaker.

You will need to closely watch the nori as you toast them in the oven. Mine took about 3 minutes, but I had wild-crafted nori, not pressed sheets. I also used 3 T of tamari instead of Bragg’s and upped the amount of cayenne. See what combinations you like. It’s a really tasty condiment that goes nicely on rice, in soups, stir-fry’s, etc.