Raw food cuisine is simple and nutritious, a diet made up of plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. By nature, eating raw foods is more of a lifestyle than a diet, but people shouldn’t feel restricted to apples and carrot sticks. Armed with some basic ingredients and a little help to get you started, you can make delicious soups, appetizers, entrées and desserts. For those who find that they or their children cannot tolerate dairy or gluten, raw food cuisine provides excellent alternatives. From vegetarians to vegans, to those just seeking ways to add more fresh fruits and veggies to their daily meals, raw is the way to go.
Eat Your Enzymes
Families are moving away from the Standard American Diet, or SAD diet, full of over-processed foods packed with refined flour, white sugar,preservatives and chemicals. The benefits of eatingraw plant-based foods in their unprocessed and unrefined state are many. Raw foods preserve essential vitamins, enzymes, micronutrients and phytonutrients the body needs for optimal health. Enzyme nutrition is a vital part of digestion and helps Mom and Dad feel young, both inside and out. Almost all processes in the human body require enzymes in order to function, and it’s important to remember: Cooked food has no enzymes. Preserving all this goodness in food helps prevent disease and increases overall well-being.
Hot and Cold
Many people hold onto the belief that food should be eaten hot, but for optimal digestion food should actually be served at room temperature. This is because our bodies expend much-needed energy to warm (or cool) food. A common misconception is that raw food cuisine is cold. Generally speaking, food cooked between 40˚C and 48˚C still contains very high levels of nutrients and enzymes. I use a form of cooking I like to call "gentle cooking," where food is heated under controlled temperatures using a food dehydrator. This preserves vital nutrients, especially those precious enzymes so easily lost when cooking at high temperatures. Not all dishes require a food dehydrator – a conventional oven on the lowest temperature setting will also do the trick.
To Your Health
Eating raw food does not have to be an all or nothing endeavor. If one is eating a SAD diet, taking gradual steps towards incorporating more fresh fruits and veggies is the best way to go. Fresh fruits, high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants, cleanse and detoxify the system. Green leafy vegetables offer a ton of nutrients and should be a big part of everyone’s diet. Remember, when making the transition to a more raw lifestyle, start with the fruits and veggies you really enjoy eating. If you don’t like asparagus, don’t start with it because discipline only lasts so long. Raw, whole foods are also nutrient-dense so they not only help the body work more efficiently to release toxins and fat, they halt junk food cravings because your body is more nourished.
Adults and children should not neglect the healthy fats found in raw nuts, seeds, avocados and oils. When buying oils, make sure the label reads "cold-pressed" – this means the oil has been handled in such a way that it has retained all of its flavor and nutritional value. Cold-pressed olive oil and flaxseed oil are great in any raw food dish, and can also be used in standard cooking.
All dried and raw-friendly ingredients used in these recipes can be found at the World Health Store (WHS).
Choc Banana Shake
1 cup pumpkin seeds
3 cups water
3 bananas, fresh or frozen
¼ cup raw honey
¼ cup cacao powder
1 tbsp soy lecithin powder
1 cup ice cubes (optional)
To make pumpkin seed milk: Soak the seeds in water for four to six hours, then drain and rinse theseeds, discarding the water. In a blender, combine the soaked pumpkin seeds with three cups of clean water. Blend until smooth. Pour the seed mixture into a bowl lined with a mesh bag, also known as a nut bag or cheesecloth, and gently squeeze out the pumpkin seed milk. This will make about three cups of milk.
To make the smoothie, simply blend the bananas, honey, cacao powder, soy lecithin powder and ice cubes together with the pumpkin seed milk.
Note: The nut pulp leftover in the mesh bag can be stored in the freezer for up to two months. It is a nutritious supplement to smoothies and can be used in other raw food recipes or can replace white flour in traditional baked recipes.
Marinated Mushroom and Sprout Sushi
10 nori sheets
5 cups alfalfa sprouts
1 cup carrots, sliced julienne
1 cup cucumber, sliced julienne
1 cup red pepper, sliced julienne
3 avocados, sliced
8 cups of mushrooms, thinly sliced
¼ cup white sesame seeds (soaked for two hours, drained and rinsed)
½ cup Braggs Liquid Aminos (a soy sauce replacement, available at WHS)
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp salt
Mix the mushrooms with the sesame seeds, Braggs Liquid Aminos, sesame oil and salt. Let the mushrooms marinate for at least 20 minutes. Removethe mushrooms and gently squeeze them to remove excess moisture. Drain the marinade into a bowl and set aside as a dipping sauce for the sushi.
For the sushi rolls, place a nori sheet, shiny side down on a bamboo sushi mat. On the edge closest to you layer the sprouts, carrots, cucumber, peppers, avocado and mushrooms horizontally. Roll tightly and seal the remaining edge of the nori sheet with a dab of warm water. Using a serrated knife, cut the roll in half and cut each roll in half until you’ve made 8 pieces. Repeat for each nori sheet.
American Jennifer McClelland grew up on a farm in Idaho, so a love of high-quality healthy produce is in her blood. She conducts private training in raw food cuisine and holds monthly classes at the WHS. For details, visit www.jennifermcclelland.com.
World Health Store
Raw food classes (RMB 150) are held at the World Health Store every month. Call for more information and early bird discounts.
Mon-Fri 10.30am-8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7.30pm. Rm 2152, 1st Floor, Section A, North Tower, Soho Shangdu, 8 Dongdaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (5900 2209) www.worldhealthstore.com.cn
See Directory for other locations.