Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mario, Mario, Mario!






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"Mario, Mario, Mario" is a famous entrance line sung by Floria Tosca from the opera Tosca, by Puccini. I cannot get it out of my head! I wonder why? Perhaps because this morning I had an in-home raw food prep 'class' with Mario Mokbel, 'the MARIO' at Arnolds Way, and his beautiful wife and 2 children in Quakertown, PA.

Mario is a customer who lights up Arnolds Way the minute he enters the store and we see his shining face and feel his exuberant energy. Mario positively radiates with good health, personality and vibrance. He is a handsome, charming, swarthy, fit, lithe, mediterranean man, an earthy mix of Lebanese and Greek, who looks ageless. Is he 20? 30? 40? I can't even tell!

Mario's skin is the color of mocha and is the clearest skin ever. Mario probably has great genes, but one cannot look as healthy as he does unless they take care of themselves. His fit and trim physique and radiant glow say 'i care for myself.'

In fact, Mario juices wheatgrass daily and drinks green smoothies like they are going out of style. This is a man who does what makes him FEEL GOOD...and HEALTHY RAW FOOD makes him feel good. When we see Mario at work, he makes US feel good!

Mario likes his smoothies the greener, the better. Mario is the kind of guy that gets EXCITED talking about dinosour kale and swiss chard amd wheatgrass! In fact, Mario loves raw food so much, he would like to open up a raw food restaurant. Of course i volunteered my services as RAW CHEFFESS!!!

And I know EXACTLY who would be my CHEIF NUMBER ONE ASSISTANT....MARIO! He was the BEST sous chef today, EVER! Always anticipating my needs, cleaning up after me, too! Not to mention, he also did such a fabulous job shopping for his ingredients and had everything ready for me, organized, out on the counter....what a guy, wow!! He shops, he cleans, he cooks, he's gorgeous. What more could a girl ask for???

Mario's wife, Roula, a BEAUTIFUL stunner from Lebanon, is one lucky lady! But, heck, Mario's lucky, too! Roula looks like a Miss Universe Pageant contestant, keeps the chic and colorfully decorated house spotless, and took diligent notes of our recipes, oohing and ahhhing when she tasted the dishes. It was such a pleasure demonstrating 'un-cooking' for Mario and his wife. They both have gifted taste buds and were so helpful in guiding me to make dishes to please them. "More garlic! Less lemon!" It was such a PLEASURE!!! They know what they like!!! That makes it SO easy!

Mario's little sons, Elie, 8 and Alexi, 5 1/2 are soo cute! The eldest of the two, Elie, really loved the smoothies we made. "Mmmmmm!" he exclaimed after tasting the orange julius shake and the parsley shake!!! We made the parsley one extra sweet for kids tastes. Little Alexi wasn't as adventurous, but we'll hold out hope for him yet!

This morning, we prepared together ALOT of food! First we made lots of yummy shakes:

  • Orange Julius shake: a blend of orange and banana and vanilla with a secret creamy, creamy ingredient: hemp seed!
  • Orange Kale shake: a yummy blend of dinosaur kale, whole oranges and banana
  • Vanilla Swiss Chard shake: chard, hemp, banana, and peaches
  • Parsley passion shake: orange juice, strawberries, banana and mang

The smoothies were all a big hit! The sweetest of them all was the parsley passion, which is a good one for kids. I think my favorite was the one with oranges and kale. Mario's favorite was the creamy vanilla swiss chard shake. God, they are ALL good.

What's so great about green smoothies is that you can rarely go wrong. Stick some banana, some greens, some yellow or white fruit (mango, pineapple, apple, pear, peach, etc..) in with it, maybe some date or agave for sweetness, icewater and ice or use frozen fruit, blend up, and oila. It's an easy formula to follow: Greens, banana, yellow or white fruit, dates/agave, water.

Victoria Boutenko says it's good to constantly switch your greens around. One day kale. The next spinach. The next dandelion greens. Etc...

AFter you get the hang of it, you can experiment with additions. Add a red fruit (strawberry, blueberry, etc..). Add cacao. Add vanilla. Add hemp. Honestly, i don't think you can go wrong.
We also made several savory dishes:

  • Mumbai Gaspacho: a twist on traditional gaspacho with 'indian' flavors like turmeric, coriander, cilantro, lime juice and ginger root.
  • Garbanzo bean/Macademia Hummus Collard wraps: a delicious un-cooked bean and nut spread flavored with garlic, cumin and lemon spread over collard greens, topped with fresh parsley, green onions and tomato and rolled into a 'wrap'. To LIVE for!
  • Garlic/Onion Dip Collard Wraps: an almond/cashew pate' seasoned with green onion and garlic topped with carrot and tomato wrapped in collards. YUM!
  • Green Livin' Bread: assorted greens, flax and buckwheat dehydrated into crackers
  • Cashew Coconut Cookies: these were awesome....even before we put them in the dehydrator
  • Asian Creamy Vinaigrette: a creamy salad dressing flavored with raw soy, ginger and garlic
  • Key Lime Pudding with Vanilla sauce: avocado lime pudding topped with creamy macademia vanilla sauce. Wow! Sweet macademia nut cream seasoned with vanilla tastes like melted Breyer's icecream!!!

We REALLY accomplished a LOT in a little over two hours!

A BIG Thank you to Mario and his wonderful family for making the session so much fun! I hope they learned a lot and feel inspired that they can recreate these dishes and OTHERS on their own. Once you understand some basic principles, raw food prep becomes SO easy!

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Yesterday, my family and i celebrated my father's birthday at a lovely restaurant called, "Tuscana". Happy Birthday, Daddy!

When i ordered my salad, "Fresh vegetables, only, nothing cooked, no cheese, no croutons, no dressing, lemon and olive oil on the side," the waiter said, "Oh, I think i know what you're doing! I'll talk to you about later!" Indeed we did talk. He is very aware of the rawfood lifestyle and is health conscious himself, and buys only ORGANIC produce, dairy and meats for his family and for his 6 year old child. Isn't it amazing how this thing is catching on???

I even got to show the waiter my 'story' and pics in Lisa Montgomery's book, "Raw Inspiration." I had a copy to gift to my father for his birthday. Now that his daughter is world know, i have to show everyone my chapter and recipes in the book!

Bernie was a very proud Daddy to see his daughter starring in a published book. He read through much of my story there at the dinner table as we waited for our food, and said he was near tears. He'd never realized things had gotten so bad for me with food.

I know I complain about being 'out of control' often with food, but, my dears, what i consider NOW out of control and what USED to be out of like apples...and oranges.

I wouldn't recommend this restaurant, 'Tuscana', however. It is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous there, but as they really didn't have many fresh vegetables to offer, it's not really raw-friendly. My salad arrived with preseasoned oily tomatoes, a ton of onion and 1/2 head of iceburg lettuce. When i asked for cucumber or something fresh, fresh mango or pear, he noted that the cucumber they use is already prepared into a salsa of sorts, as are all of the other vegetables listed on the salads. No fresh mango, but mango salsa. What i was given was all they had 'fresh.'

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Today i've done relatively well with my food, and am feeling more confident and positive.

I had some of the green smoothie Mario and I made for breakfast, some tastes of the wraps we made and then later, at Arnolds Way, i had a chocolate hemp whip and a raw pizza. Not exactly 80-10-10 'diet' food, but i made a good choice in that I decided pizza, which contains 2 slices of raw bread, a better choice than buying an entire container of raw bread and taking it home.

A more controlled way of enjoying it. Which i did. And then i said, 'goodbye' and didn't have to worry about thinking about raw bread later.

Now i'm at my mom's and we went shopping to Giant for lots of produce. They have lovely organic selections there. That is so nice. I don't always buy strictly organic, but when i have the choice, like to buy organic. It just TASTES better.

My mother and i just got back from a 45 mins walk out in the humid peasoup heat of Philadelphia today. We had a lovely walk, but it was stinkin' hot, so now i'm drinking agua. Mas agua por favor! So glad to have chosen to get a walk in. I was feeling good today and more motivated. Thank god.

How are you all? Miss hearing from you.

Love to you all, Michelle joy xoxoxoxo

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