Welcome to my website. I’m not sure how you found it, but I’m glad you did. And I’ve got a free gift for you–which I’ll tell you about in just a second.

I’m Helen Castillo, and for the past few years, I’ve been helping people who are eager to improve their health and embrace a raw food approach to cooking and eating; and I do my best to help by teaching how to prepare delicious and nutritious raw vegan gourmet cuisine. But I just wanted to say, “Hi”, and tell you a bit about what you can find on this website.

You can explore the following pages by clicking either on the links below (or above in the navigation menu bar) for answers to questions you might have regarding what raw foods is all about.

Also, make sure you scroll further down to access the blog for tips, recipes, and insights into the raw foods lifestyle.

So, the free gift! If you look to the uppermost right-hand corner of this page, you’ll see that I’m offering a complimentary copy of The ESSENTIAL Raw Vegan Grocery List, which should get you started on the right path. All you have to do is click up there to access, type in your name and email in the pop-up form, and we’ll take it from there.

Thanks again for dropping by–and I hope one day we might even meet in person!

Best….

Helen is a valued member of these culinary organizations

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Categories : Articles, Food Facts
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Simple salads belong after the main course or as a side dish, while more complex salads come first as an appetizer or stand on their own as a main course.  The best time to dress green salads is always at the very last minute.

Salad Tongs1. Less is more.  It’s better to underdress than overdress salads. Overdressing weighs lettuces down, making them limp and translucent within seconds. Plus, you won’t taste the greens, only the dressing.

2.  Delicate and heartier greens should be dressed separately.  When dressing a salad that includes both dainty lettuces and heavier items such as artichoke hearts or pieces of fruit, dress and season the heavier items separately from the lettuces. Then arrange them among the dressed lettuce leaves. Otherwise, the heavy items fall to the bottom and the delicate greens get crushed.

3. Dress the bowl instead of the salad.  Place your salad ingredients in a large, wide mixing bowl. Spoon or squirt the dressing around the inside upper portion of the bowl. Then, using salad tongs, grab the dressing from the sides of the bowl a little at a time and fold it into the leaves. Using your hands again, transfer the salad to a large serving bowl or individual plates. If you pour the dressing directly on the leaves, there’s no turning back: You’ve got a soggy salad. By dressing the bowl, you can incorporate a little dressing at a time.

4. Gently toss the salad.  Use salad tongs to toss the salad and plate it.

5. Taste before serving.  You may need to adjust the seasonings after you have tossed the salad.

Source Material from Jill Santopietro of chow.com

Categories : Culinary Techniques
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While the ingredients in a vinaigrette are few and quite simple, the technique for combining them requires a bit of understanding.

1. Two pieces of equipment and five ingredients.  You will need a whisk and a bowl large enough to hold the whisk. Ingredients you should have on hand are oil, any acidic component (e.g., lemon juice or apple cider vinegar), mustard, salt, and pepper.

Vinaigrette2. Ratio of vinegar to oil.  It will change depending on the type of vinegar, oil, and greens used.  Some oils are fruity; some vinegars are less acidic than others; some greens need less acid, some more.  A standard ratio is 2-to-1 to a 3-to-1 ratio of oil to vinegar or somewhere in between.  To test, dip a lettuce leaf in your vinaigrette to taste and adjust the seasoning and consistency as needed.

3. Adding just a touch of mustard helps bind the oil and vinegar.  This is a classic French technique. Dijon or whole-grain mustard is recommended, although any style mustard will work.

4. If you’re using minced red or white onions, shallots, or garlic place it in the vinegar first.  Let onions, shallots, or garlic sit in the vinegar with salt for a few minutes to soften, temper the bite, and combine the flavors. Then whisk in the oil and black pepper.

5. The no-vinegar vinaigrette.  Toss very fresh and tender greens with just oil, salt, and pepper. That way their sweet, nuanced flavors can shine.

6. Make ahead and store it for later.  Mixing a dressing just before serving is ideal. But it’s so convenient to mix a large batch and store it in the refrigerator in a squirt bottle or a glass jar for everyday ease of use. Let it come to room temperature, shake, and serve.

Source Material from Jill Santopietro of chow.com

Categories : Culinary Techniques
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Every step in creating a salad, from selecting ingredients to serving it, allow for the preparer’s imagination.  Here are the basic components for a good salad:

Tossed Salad1. Delicate leafy greens. Delicate greens take best to lighter dressings, like a simple vinaigrette or just oil.

Example:  Arugula, mâche, mesclun, watercress, red leaf lettuces, fresh herbs (like chervil, chives, cilantro, marjoram, tarragon, parsley, dill), pea shoots, edible flowers.

2. Hearty leafy greens. Heartier greens can stand up to thicker dressings or a puréed avocado dressing.

Example:  Young kale, romaine, radicchio, Belgian endive, baby bok choy, curly endive, dandelion, spinach, escarole, Bibb lettuce, little gem lettuce, butter lettuce, young chard.

3. Sliced vegetables or fruits. Thinly slicing raw vegetables or fruits can make a delicious and substantial salad base.

Example:  Celery root, artichoke, beets, turnips, cabbage, fennel, radish, celery, cucumber, carrot, jicama, napa cabbage, mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, tomato, bell peppers, onion, scallions, shallots, burdock, jicama, apple, pear.

Categories : Culinary Techniques
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Moisture and grit are a salad’s “no-no”.  While moisture will dilute the dressing, making the salad tasteless and soggy, water will also repel the dressing from the leaves. So wash lettuce well ahead (several hours before serving is ideal) so it has enough time to fully dry.  Here’s how:

Washing Greens

  1. Fill a big bowl with cold water. Submerge the salad greens in the water and gently swish it around with your hands to release any dirt. Handle your greens gently to avoid wilting and bruising them.
  2. Lift the greens out of the water and transfer them to a colander or salad spinner.  If you’re using a colander, give it a few shakes and let the lettuce drain a bit. If you’re using a spinner, fill it only halfway. If you overfill it, the lettuce leaves will get crushed and won’t dry. Empty the water between spins.
  3. Place the greens in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Roll the towel up loosely and place it in a paper bag or a container with a lid.
  4. Place the lettuce in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator to keep it crisp and cool. Make sure the fridge temperature is not too cold, or the leaves will freeze and become limp and translucent.

Source Material from Jill Santopietro of chow.com

Categories : Culinary Techniques
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