Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hosting a raw Country BBQ is as easy as pie

Ever think about hosting a raw vegan barbecue? Although most people wouldn't think of putting "raw vegan" and "barbecue" in the same sentence, Jackie and Gideon Graff of "The Sprout Cafe" make preparing food for the event easy as pie, like this slice I whipped up after viewing their DVD (Thank you Natural Zing for sending a copy my way; check out the yummy pie recipes Jeff and Helen posted back in November, if you missed it).

Apple Pie with Nut and Date Pie Crust is actually one of the recipes they demonstrate in "Uncooking with Jackie & Gideon: Country Barbecue." They show just how simple "unbaking" your own pie can be, even giving substitutions and tips for making it look more like the traditional version. It is the perfect ending to their hearty menu.

That's right; this is one hearty buffet, full of Barbecue Nibs with Barbecue Sauce (it's a little spooky how they doctor up the nibs up to give them the look of "ribs"), Brunswick Stew (which also contains their barbecue sauce; I love it when recipes build off of one another), Squash Casserole (they sprinkle a certain ingredient on top to give it a "cooked" appearance) and the most decadent raw corn bread I've ever seen (it contains heavy "cream," whipped up out of raw macadamia nuts).

The corn bread, like many of their dishes, is made by "rawifying" (a term I use for turning a traditional cooked dish into a raw version) the original recipe. This is my favorite approach to raw "uncooking," as it makes you feel like you're preparing what you already know and love; it keeps the memories alive.

For example, to round out the menu, Jackie and Gideon also serve up a Green Salad with Ranch Dressing (what's a country barbecue without Ranch dressing?), Spicy Marinated Herb and Greens (my favorite; I like the texture of the very thinly sliced and marinated collards, which almost look like noodles. I even used this technique to top the olive dish featured in my post about Natural Zing), Cole Slaw, Avotato Salad (this is some rich stuff) and Corn on the Cob.

The best part of the DVD is how real it is; it's like you are right there with their live audience, sipping on freshly made Lemonade out of mason jars and enjoying the Deviled Tomato appetizers. The couple doesn't edit out the accidental additions to the blender that need to be fished out or the moments they don't agree about what goes in where and when; these are the takes that brought a smile to my face. It was really fun to watch.

The only criticism I have, if you can call it that, is concerning their excessive use of macadamia nuts, which can be pricey. During the Q&A session at the end of the DVD, one of the audience members asked the same thing. Jackie and Gideon responded with a nut substitution, but also reminded everyone that this menu is for a big event to impress your guests with your raw food know how. Feel free to go all out on this one or just offer up the dishes you like best. This is a menu worth celebrating. Check it out :-)

Shannonmarie, a.k.a. "Rawdorable," also posts on her blog of the same name,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cacao Paste Price Reduced at Natural Zing

Raw Cacao Paste 16 oz (cocoa mass or liquor) has a new reduced price of $15.49 

Olive Natural Zing!

Leave it to me to come up with a title like that; if you say it really fast, it almost sounds like, "I love Natural Zing," doesn't it? I guess you could also focus on the "live" part (of O-"live"), as the company is a big part of the owners' lives.

When I first met them at the Washington D.C. Green Festival a couple years back, I was surprised to find out that this online store was run by such a sweet down-to-Earth couple (Jeff Rose, pictured above, and his wife, Helen, shown below). The reason the service always seemed to be personal was because of the real people behind the scenes.

Now whenever I place an order, I am even more impressed with how everything arrives in a timely fashion and with all the items I selected. Sometimes, if there is a special offer going on, I'm also happy to find that, too.

For instance, Natural Zing is currently tossing in a 15.7-ounce jar of these Peruvian Sundried Salt-Free Olives with any purchase of $60 or more. Just enter the promo code: "salt free olive" in the comment section at checkout (you can also tell them shannonmarie sent you).

Lucky for me, I've also got an extra jar to giveaway on my site. If you're interested, stop by this post (which looks a lot like the one you're reading now) to find out how to enter.

Also, don't forget about the Natural Zing's review contest. Check out Helen's previous post for more details (the winner gets a $50 Natural Zing Gift Certificate, so it is definitely worth entering; I would, too, if I was eligible).

So if you win/purchase the olives, what should you make with them?

I found that they take a little getting used to on their own, but they make for a perfect blank canvas for getting your creative juices flowing. They can be sweet, as I snacked on some wrapped in dates. Or, they can be a savory, like in THIS RECIPE:

Thanks to Jeff, I have this one to share. He is a little like me, tossing a few ingredients here and there, but in the end, the results are quite tasty. Just blend together 1/2 cup of the olives (make sure you remove the pits) with 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (the ones on the site are quite delicious, containing just the perfect amount of sea salt), 1/4 cup olive oil, some garlic and herbs (I just used a bit of herbs de Provence, because that's what I was in the mood for).

Originally meant to be served like a dip, I turned it into a meal by reducing the olive oil to just a drizzle and tossing the sun-dried olive/tomato mixture with some zucchetti (zucchini cut into noodles with my spiral slicer I purchased from Natural Zing). I freshened it up a tad with a squeeze of lemon juice (it always brings new life to these things), added thinly sliced massaged baby spinach (I'll explain the thinly sliced/massaged part when I post about this DVD), sprinkled it with hemp seeds and garnished it with a slice of lemon and more olives.

Make sure to check out all that Natural Zing has to offer, so you'll be ready to enter the giveaway. And, don't forget to read the following Q&A with Helen Rose:

Q: Tell us a little about your story. How and why did the two of you adopt a raw vegan diet? What made you decide to turn this lifestyle into a business?

A: "Jeff and I are one of those few couples who have been lucky enough to travel the adventurous road to vegan raw food together as a couple, primarily beginning with Jeff’s interest in food and health.

"Married 16 years ago, we started our lives together on the corporate fast track living unhealthy lives, yet trying to find health. We each had our own health issues: anxiety, depression, addiction, heart issues, pre-cancerous tumors and we were both 30 to 40 pounds higher than our ideal weight.

"In searching for ways to improve our health and the quality of our lives, we started with vegetarianism, then veganism, and finally raw veganism in 2002. Becoming a raw vegan became not only a way to eat but a life-style -- a new way of thinking, prioritizing and a new openness to the possibilities of the blessings of life. At the time there was little support and few resources for a raw foodist, so in 2003 we started Natural Zing to try to fill that void.

"Natural Zing has grown because the community has wanted it to grow. If the community needs us, we’ll be here serving their needs as best we can. We still own, manage and operate Natural Zing with the same passion and sense of adventure that started us down this path so many years ago.

"Since then, we have not only grown our business successfully, but, we have also grown our family and are raising our young family in the raw food life-style."

For more on each of our stories see links below:
Jeff’s story:

Helen’s story:

Q: I don’t think most people realize how such a big player in the raw food world is actually a small family-run business. How do you handle all those orders and daily operations? How important is it to you to maintain that personal touch?

A: "We work long hours. We ship orders fast and take care of customers. That is what we do and we love it. Thankfully, we also have developed a great staff that cares about our customers, too. Some of our staff have been long time customers, and others are new to raw food and are very excited.

"Maria Dormer was a long time customer and has been with us since 2005. We have these young sports-oriented guys in the warehouse who take pride in their work and make it a challenge to see how many orders they can get out the door – with care.

"Jeff is a hands-on manager. I honestly don’t know how he manages all that he does. He wears so many hats … managing employees and meticulously managing inventory levels. He personally takes the pictures of the products and is usually the one to write or approve each product description. He researches new products, as well as handling an array of topics and business issues that come up every day. And he will still answer incoming calls.

"I am a full-time mother and a part-time Natural Zing worker. I work two days a week taking customer orders, as well as handling project management, marketing, human resources and accounting supervision.

"On very busy days, we both drop everything to help pick and pack orders. It is important to us to ship orders out to our customers quickly … and our customers appreciate it. We love taking customers calls and staying in touch with the customers. We also use Twitter and other ways to try to stay connected to our customers. We are busy and we love it … good thing we eat raw food to help us stay energized."

Q: How has the business grown/changed over the years? What are some of the new products?

A: "When we started we had to provide a lot of education to our customers; now we have people who are not in the raw food movement saying, “hey Dr. Oz was talking about that on Oprah.” We have grown much larger than our egos need. We are here to serve the community and grow as the community needs us to grow.

"Our product philosophy is to build a customer base for every product, so we can have regular fresh shipments coming in. We store product refrigerated. We want the food as fresh as possible. That makes a big difference to the customer.

"We also look for high integrity products. We will continue to add new products as we go along. Because of our philosophy, we may not be the fastest at getting new products, but we feel like our customers appreciate the care that we take with all the products we offer.

"A good example is Lydia’s Organics. We’ve had Lydia’s Organics whole product line since day one, and they are still great products that people need to try."

So check out our other new items:
Unsalted Peruvian Olives
Power Wrap Marsala
Pecan Love Cups
Ormus Supergreens
Acai Powder
ChocAlive Truffles
Cinnamon Powder, 5% oil
DVD: Healing Herbs & Wildfoods by Bridget Mars

Things soon to be arriving or just in:
Pistachio Butter
Macadamia Brazil Nut Butter
Maqui Berry Powder
Books and more books …

Q:I love the fact that you are raising your children with some of the yummiest food available, such as fresh fruits and veggies from your garden and items from your online store. What do they enjoy best?

A: "From the fresh variety they love berries … strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries …. They also love celery, chard, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, apples, oranges, figs. Our 3-year-old son has a salad with us every evening, and our 1 ½-year-old daughter has everything except the green leafy stuff (she needs her 2 year molars to help break them down.)

"From the dried and packaged varieties, they love goji berries, mulberries, dried mango, Gopal’s Power Wraps, Organic Food Bars (green), flax crackers, Lydia’s crackers, Lydia’s spirulina bar, kale chips, dulse, all kinds of nuts, and OLIVES! They are pretty easy to feed. In the summer, they’ll just start picking food out of the garden and eat it. We’ve eaten lunch that way more than once."

Q: What does the future hold for Natural Zing?

A: "We’ve been investing in new technology to make our operations more efficient and less costly, which will position us for easier expansion of operations, inventory, etc. Some of these new technologies will result in new features and services for our customers.

"Natural Zing is often looking into areas of need or voids to fill; we will continue to bring you some new exciting products.

"Many have called Natural Zing the best kept secret in the raw food community. This is probably true. We don’t market much; we are happy to grow steadily. However, we do offer services that we expect will continue to grow, such as our wholesale business, selling to natural food stores, cafĂ©’s, and food manufacturers. We also offer fulfillment services to raw food manufactures, raw food websites, authors, talk show celebrities, etc. We expect that as we make more businesses in the community aware of these services that this will continue to grow."

Shannonmarie, a.k.a. "Rawdorable," also posts on her blog of the same name,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Free Olives from Natural Zing

Offer 1 Item Free With A Purchase Of $60 Or More:*

Peruvian Sundried Salt Free Olives in Jar 15.7 oz: (Promo Code: saltfree olive)
These fantastic olives are unique in the world marketplace! They contain no salt, no oil, no herbs, and have not been cured. They are 100% untouched, natural, sun-dried, ripe certified organic olives from Peru. Each olive is nearly the size of a prune with thick, juicy, tasty, savory olive flesh. This is a premium sundried organic olive grown on the coastal desert plains of southern Peru. Ecologically cultivated, hand-picked & packed with extraordinary care, giving you a healthier choice that tastes the way nature intended. These delicious naturally sun-cured, sun-dried raw organic olives will complement your culinary creations. Organic olives have great nutritional properties and contain minerals such as calcium.

Peruvian Sundried Aji Olives, 8 oz: (Promo Code: free60ajiolive)
These jumbo ripe raw organic Botija olives (sometimes called "botilla" olives) from Peru have been dried at low temperatures (below 110 degrees farenheit) and spiced with a mild to medium pepper to satisfy your craving for heat. All the natural oil of the olive is intact, very juicy. These delicious moist olives are a great snack food and a staff favorite!

* one promotion code per order, retail orders only, international orders - shipping price will increase with free item.

No nuts in this lunch

In my last post, I talked about gluten, providing you with a fun raw cupcake recipe, which was naturally gluten-free. However, it was loaded with nuts, another increasingly common allergy.

When I was a little kid, the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich (as well as this old school lunchbox I wouldn't dare send my child's lunch in today) was all the rage. It was a staple in most lunches.

Unfortunately, with nut allergies on the rise, this once lunch of champions (although still good on raw bread with a nut/seed butter and chia-thickened berry jelly) has been banned at many schools. At my son's school, there is a peanut-free zone; all food brought in to share with the class must not contain nuts nor be made in a facility that manufacturers its products on equipment shared with nuts.

It's good to know that NaturalZing is a peanut-free packager. It also carries a nice selection of nut-free products and substitutes for those traditionally nut-based concoctions. For example, you can still pack that pb&j or "ants on a log" (you know that peanut butter celery with raisin "ants") substituting hemp spread, pumpkin seed butter (these two have a gruesome green color kids love, and you don't need food coloring to achieve it), tahini, or for the more adventurous eater, black sesame tahini.

Speaking of adventurous eaters, has your little one ever tried Nori? He or she may be curious when you explain how it comes from the sea (if not, dehydrated banana/spirulina wraps are sure to please). You can have your child help out with fun flavors for your "Nemo" nori wraps and rolls, or check out some of the Gopal Raw Power Wraps for convenient packing (the company also sells a few nut-free seed-based bars that are also good to go. Not all of them are nut-free, so read the ingredients prior to purchase).

Don't forget that cereal doesn't just have to be for breakfast. Lydia's Organics offers a variety of nut-free cereals (sprouted quinoa is also an excellent choice), which serve well in a small bowl mixed with fresh fruits or veggies (don't knock it 'til you try it) with a side of coconut milk (NatualZing's coconut flakes and coconut oil whip up nicely into a creamy white beverage).

If all else fails, what kid doesn't love to dip? Serve a savory one with veggies and a sweeter one for fruit. Need a recipe to get started. Here's one Helen posted on the Zing Babies blog. I hear Sundance can't get enough of it :-)

Helen's Not Just for Halloween Dip
2 cups pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
1/4 cup hemp seeds
juice from 2 lemons
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. sea salt or Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder

Soak the pumpkin seeds overnight for about 8 hours. Drain them and let them sit and germinate for about 2 hours. Put all ingredients into a blender and start blending. You may need to stop and use a spatula to help move the contents around to get it to blend better. When smooth as desired, spoon out into a serving bowl and serve with fresh veggies.

Shannonmarie, a.k.a. "Rawdorable," also posts on her blog of the same name,

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Natural Zing Product Review Contest

Write a review of one of our products and win a Natural Zing gift certificate!

Your experience and knowledge of our products could help someone to make a great buying decision. Please share your insight with us and friends of Natural Zing!
To help us get started, we would appreciate if our customers could provide us with a product review on our website or on their website/blog. The reviews will be placed in a prize drawing for a chance to win a $50 Natural Zing Gift Certificate.

Contest ends March 26th.

You can begin by logging onto your account on our website (, going to the product page, scrolling down and clicking the review button on the bottom of the page.

Any reviews that appear on your website/blog, please email Natural Zing a link to post by e-mailing:
Thank you!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Natural Zing Testimonials

I received my package of choc rocks today. Thank you so much! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it - doing business with REAL PEOPLE! It is such a pleasure to feel appreciated and valued as a customer! It so rarely happens. So, I’m really excited about trying the rocks - but even more - I’m excited about the “warm and fuzzies” that I just got from you guys! Thank you for your business ethics, fast service, and just all around “nice guyness” throughout the year!

Thank you so much for supplying us [the consumer] with quality, organic, raw foods at an affordable price! I placed by order August 28 and I received my order August 29. I’ve never received an order as quickly!

This was my first time ordering with you and I will be coming back again and again!

I just received my Natural Zing shopping bag! Thank you so much! I feel appreciated! I just never get that from other businesses - you ROCK!

I just received my order today and I couldn’t be more pleased. From the Order Process email I received the day I ordered, to the Order Update email I received the next...I was even more pleased when my order arrived safely due to the great and careful packaging, and the package I received is complete and exactly as I ordered. You have the best prices on the internet, great raw products, provide up to date order information, a tracking number and follow through to the end.

I just had to complement you on your service. I think my order arrived before I place it! I have never received anything so quickly and your products are great. I have been raw for only two months now, so I am slowly discovering my different options. Your olives taste wonderful, and I am glad to have them to add to my food choices. I will be a happy and contented repeat customer!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Just love your site and all the other products besides the foods! So glad I found it! So here’s to BETTER HEALTH, SPIRIT AND MIND!

I just had to write to tell you how awesome you are! you have the quickest shipping of anybody - 1 day for me on the Eastern Shore, you are the only company that “gives me a thank you for your order (raw bar) surprise” with my order and frankly you are just super nice to deal with! Keep up the great work!

This was my first time ordering from Natural Zing. Thank you for the amazing service! That was really fast shipping. That was the fastest I have ever seen. My order was totally correct without mistakes. Thanks again!

I am writing to tell you how pleased I am with my order. I just wanted to commend you on your impressive selection and fast packing and shipping. I look forward to ordering again from you very soon.