Years ago, veganism was synonymous with tofu, granola and hemp clothing. But as the number of vegans and vegetarians increased the market responded with the creation of incredibly inventive food products (Sheeze, soyatoo, cappacinno soymilk, kiebalsa seitan sausage) and hundreds of cookbooks. It seems the raw food movement is beginning to experience a similar evolution. I have noticed the arrival of ‘naked chocolate’, ‘jungle peanuts’ and ‘goji berries’ in my local health food store and the number of raw food recipe books seem to be increasing exponentially.
Recently the evening news has spouted reports of numerous scientific studies encouraging us all to increase the percentage of raw produce in our diets in order to improve our health and longevity. As a new year begins many of us take the time to reflect on our lifestyle habits and make plans (read: resolutions) for improvements in the coming months. Whether you are a dedicated rawfoodist or simply want to increase the amount of living food in your diet there are now a litany of books that can provide ideas for producing everything from simple everyday meals to amazingly complex and decadent gourmet treats.
One challenge I have noticed in attempting to follow the recipes described in most popular raw food books during the Canadian winter is the limited availability of the fresh produce many raw foodists in more tropical climes rely upon. But, don’t be discouraged there are some raw chefs whose recipes and ideas will allow you to follow this healthful path as you celebrate the arrival of 2008. Here are some of the best I have found through a great deal of kitchen experimentation.
One of my favourite recipe books is Ani’s raw food kitchen. Ani is the founder of “Smart Monkey Foods’, you have probably seen her raw food bars in health food stores throughout Toronto (and at the Toronto Vegetarian Foodfair of course). I have enjoyed integrating her recipes and ideas into my life in order to increase the percentage of living food in my diet. Her recipes are generally quite simple, relying on ingredients that are widely accessible (even in Toronto). I love starting my day with her ‘Almond Cinnamon Oatmeal” which requires soaked oat grouts, dates, cinnamon, water and almonds. That’s it, that’s all! It actually takes less time to prepare than those instant oatmeal packets and keeps me full and satisfied for hours. For entertaining, her ‘Marinated Portabello Steak and Brazil-Broccoli Mash with Mushroom Gravy’ has been a hit with many dinner guests.
If you have visited Toronto’s “Live organic café” restaurant or Guelph’s “Wild Organic Way” you are very aware of the emergence of establishments that cater to the assertion of the raw food movement. Raw food real world and I am Grateful are two recipe books produced by raw food restauranteurs. The recipes in these books are amazing and will certainly impress you and anyone you invite to share your creations. However, many of the recipes require special equipment (e.g. champion juicers or Excalibur dehydrators) and expensive ingredients. I have turned to these books for special occasions and have been thrilled with the results. The ‘pumpkin pie’ in “I am Grateful” and the macaroons in “raw food real world” blew me away and satisfied my desire for sinful indulgence within the healthy parameters of living foods.
If you already eat a lot of fresh produce and are looking for raw recipes that allow you to prepare sweet specialties to compliment your healthful lifestyle, I encourage you to try Living in the raw desserts. Rose Lee Calabro compliments her previous recipe books with this recent addition focused entirely on cakes, cookies, pies and more. If you have a copy of Vice Cream nearby, you can easily be inspired to whip up an inventive raw ice cream to take your desserts to the next level of hedonism. I recently tried the raw chai ice cream recipe-it was spicy, creamy and sweet. Yes, I eat ice cream even in February.
So whether you are trying to slim down, decrease your consumption of processed food, or ‘get the glow’ the recipes available will delight you palate and allow you to welcome 2008 with a new perspective on what it means to live‘raw’.