Saturday, September 6, 2008

Raw Fruit/Vegetable Salads

The latest "raw food craze" has sparked my interest in preparing more fresh fruits & vegetables for my family. Due to concerns with the overall safety of the current food supply and the need for proper nutrition in my food allergic family, I can't go totally raw - yet I can incorporate some of the basic ideas. Growing up on a fruit & vegetable farm in Michigan, it was as much of a delight to pick a fresh juicy green bean and eat it raw as it was to eat a plump strawberry warm from the summer sun.

Purchasing local produce is as close as I'll get to my childhood lifestyle, though affordability and convenience are now also concerns. Moving into the fall season, I thought I'd share a couple of great fruit/vegetable salad combinations, that are perfect to make in the evening and send for lunches/snacks the next day. Feel free to experiment/substitute any kind of vegetable or fruit your CSA sends (i.e. shredded beets/zucchini/jicama for the carrots, pears for the apples, etc.), or add unsweetened shredded coconut or other dried fruit.

Apple/Carrot/Pineapple Salad:
3 crunchy apples, peeled or unpeeled, chopped into chunks (whatever size you prefer)
about 1 can pineapple chunks (fresh or canned in their own juice, drained)
about 4 carrots shredded in a food processor or sliced into thin strips
1/4 c. dried currants or raisins (any dried fruit would work)
1/2 - 1 green pepper, thinly sliced and chopped
optional: chopped walnuts, pecans or any kind of nut

Just mix everything together, it will keep overnight and for at least a day in the fridge. You could choose to put some sort of dressing on it if you wanted (yogurt dressing - yogurt, lemon, and honey), mayo, or a vinaigrette. My kids liked this plain with a little honey drizzled on top (I shred the carrots in my Cuisinart, it makes them much easier to eat for the younger ones, and I used canned pineapple so some of the juice was enough "dressing"). I had to leave off the nuts for the kids (allergic), but they are easy to add last if the adults want some extra protein.

Option for busy people (pictured above): Shred 3 carrots, 1 apple, and 1 green pepper in your Cuisinart food processor. Dump in a can of pineapple juice. I made this for my kids to eat in the car or on-the-run.

Dairy/Egg-Free Fresh Coleslaw:
1/2 head cabbage, shredded (I use my Cuisinart food processor)
1-2 carrots, shredded
1-2 apples, peeled, cut into chunks
1/2 c. raisins, dried currants or cranberries/dried cherries

1 T. rice milk
3 T. white vinegar
2 T. orange juice
1 t. honey
1 T. lemon juice
6 T. olive oil

Just whisk the dressing together and mix in to the vegetables.

Fresh Beet/Carrot Slaw (from Martha Stewart's, "Great Food Fast"...a great cookbook arranged by season):
1 pound raw beets (shredded in food processor)
2 carrots (shredded)

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 T. olive oil
1 T. honey
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. cayenne

Just mix up the dressing and add to the vegetables. I adjust the spices in the dressing for my kids, but otherwise, this is a fun way to eat beets (though perhaps slightly messy).

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