This past week, Tim and I did sort of a cleanse, wherein we ate mostly raw: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, raw dairy, dried fruit. We added homemade chicken soup, nettle and Tulsi teas and, at a maximum of once a day, roasted vegetables, but otherwise it was, for the first time in our lives, an experience in raw eating.
It was interesting.
First of all, it wasn’t hard, at least not in the way typical cleanses are. I wasn’t starving, I didn’t get major detox reactions, there was no need to summon all my willpower not to eat a cookie. A couple times, one of us would say to the other, doesn’t a taco sound good?, but, for the most part, we felt like there was so much we still could eat: a bowl of juicy grapefruit; fresh pomegranate arils sprinkled with flax seeds and coconut; caprese salad (tomatoes, raw mozzarella, fresh basil), morning smoothies, giant green salads (and you know how I like those), frozen fruit mixed with nuts in raw milk, homemade pecan nut butter on celery sticks—all along with our soup and roasted vegetables, so, as you can imagine, we were quite full and satisfied.
Also, it was really, well, cleansing, just as we hoped it would be. The week made us feel good—really good—from our skin to our digestion to our energy levels. After the holidays, I had been fighting a little bit of a sore throat/cold/infection, the first one since I changed my diet in 2009. This cleanse week killed it, knocked it right out of me.
But there’s one more thing, too, a thing that’s been especially fascinating and something I didn’t expect or plan for: this week has started to open my eyes to the world of raw eating. It’s something. You know, there are raw restaurants, raw blogs (like my new favorite g0lubka), raw cookbooks. And it’s not like you just eat an apple and a carrot and call it a day, either: there are crazy inventive raw recipes for things like raw donuts, raw cookies and chocolate avocado pudding, for example.
I mean, have you ever had a raw brownie?
This was an idea that had never before occurred, let alone appealed, to me.
And I know they say, when you take yourself away from something for a little while, say from sugar, for example, you change your tastes. So I know it’s possible that these brownies won’t seem sweet enough to the average palate or chocolatey enough compared to the typical brownie.
But to me, they were amazing, enough to make me wonder why I’ve trained my brain to think I need things sweeter than they have to be. I loved them. I made them twice. And both times, when I saw the simple combination of dates, walnuts and cocoa powder make a brownie and the ability of half an avocado with honey, cocoa powder, vanilla and cinnamon, along with just a pinch of salt, to create a velvety chocolate frosting, I marveled. It’s the same feeling I’ve had looking at a piece of segmented grapefruit or the inside of a pomegranate: what amazing foods we’ve been given. It’s good to celebrate them.
Raw Brownies + Chocolate Avocado Frosting
Lightly Adapted from Not Quite Nigella
Makes one loaf pan of brownies or, 10 little brownie bites
Just as a bit of bonus info, this recipe, being that it utilizes all whole foods, is filled with all kinds of nutritional benefits. Walnuts are high in Omega-3s, known to control inflammation. Dates are not only an excellent source of fiber but also B vitamins. There are rich antioxidants in cocoa powder and honey, and the avocado is one of those really amazing sources of good monounsaturated fat, shown to be easily burned by the body for energy.
3 to 5 tablespoons raw honey (you can adjust to taste)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
a hefty dash of cinnamon
a tiny pinch of salt
1. Make the brownie layer: Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, with extra paper hanging off the sides so you can lift it out when the brownies are done. Combine walnuts, dates and 1/3 cup of cocoa powder in a food processor and blend until the mixture looks like clumpy dirt or potting soil. Pat this mixture into a compact layer in the bottom of your lined loaf pan.
2. Make the frosting*: Combine avocado, honey, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Spread mixture over the brownie layer in the loaf pan, creating an even layer on top.
3. Freeze the loaf pan for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove parchment from loaf pan, lifting the brownies out in one big piece. Slice and serve. Note the brownies will be slightly crumbly, so they are best eaten with a spoon or fork.
*As an FYI, I didn’t wash out the food processor between the brownie and frosting layers. No need.