Who needs the heat when raw food has so much sizzle? The Raw Truth (Celestial Arts, 2011), by raw foods pioneer Jeremy A. Safron, is a cookbook that offers a wealth of raw foods expertise with an array of delicious, flavor-packed recipes, raw food techniques and transitioning tips that include everything one needs to know in order to take advantage of this healthy lifestyle. The following excerpt has been taken from the chapters “Raw Facts” and “Raw Techniques.”
Raw Food Recipes
Benefits of Eating Raw Food
A wide range of benefits comes from eating an ideal diet. One of the best advantages of eating raw food is the abundant energy it provides. Energy that is spent digesting cooked food can be made free for us to use for other things when we eat raw. People eating raw foods find that they need to sleep less to feel rested and often attest to achieving life goals that seemed unachievable when on a cooked food diet. Many athletes have found that light raw meals give them a more sustainable form of energy and allow them to surpass their previous records. Students also find that raw food gives them a more balanced blood sugar level and helps them think more clearly and stay more focused. Indigenous people throughout the world demonstrate the great life extension benefits that raw food has to offer. Many of these cultures eat a primarily raw diet and live much longer lives. People eating raw food also find it enhances their beauty. Most of all, people who eat well feel good. Feeling good is the essence of life. We enjoy our lives more when we feel good. The Hawaiians say that the most valuable thing a person can have is a positive attitude. By eating well and feeling good, we can be more positive and create a better life for ourselves and those we love.
Change is the only constant. In our eternal growth, we often seek out new ways of thinking, living, and even eating. The transitory period between one way and another can be smooth and easy or quite rough and challenging. The following are a few tips on transitioning to raw food, although many can be applied to almost any aspect of your life.
• Take your time and be patient. Accentuate the positive. Be focused on the good things you ate and did today. Eat the raw and natural foods you enjoy.
• Start the day raw and see how far you go. Drink a smoothie for breakfast, eat salad for lunch, and start your dinner with a raw soup or salad.
• Have a raw food dinner party or potluck at your home. It’s a great way to try new dishes, turn people on, and support your new lifestyle.
• Eat one new raw food each day. Find out what foods you like and don’t. Discover the variety of delicious flavors nature has to offer. If you know your foods, you can create any dish.
• Go on local plant walks and familiarize yourself with herbs, fruits, flowers, and greens that grow wild near your home.
• Dine out at raw cafes and then go home and re-create your favorite dishes. It is also fun to make old cooked favorites as raw dishes.
• Always make the best choice. Eat the thing with the most life force and the foods you know will help you.
• Know yourself and educate yourself. Knowledge is power.
Raw Food Techniques
The basic skills discussed here are the foundation of raw food preparation. Although some of these techniques will take some time to master, a general understanding of them will allow you to create divine delights.
Soaking Dates, Dried Fruits, and Nuts
Dried foods can be rehydrated to make them easier to use in recipes. To be used as sweeteners, dates often require soaking for an hour or so, then blending until smooth. It is important to remove the seeds from the dates before using them.
Nuts and seeds from many fruits can be soaked to make them blend up more smoothly. Seeds and nuts contain enzyme inhibitors that limit their digestibility. When we soak seeds and nuts for 15 minutes, we release up to 50 percent of the enzyme inhibitors. By soaking them for the correct amount of time, we can release all of the enzyme inhibitors, making the seeds and nuts easier to assimilate. Sprouting a seed or nut will give it more of a watery and sweet taste, so sometimes soaked nuts are better in a recipe than fully sprouted ones. Do not use soaking water from seeds, since it contains all of the enzyme inhibitors we are removing. (The soaking water from fruits such as dates or sun-dried tomatoes, however, is excellent to use.)
Garnishing is the art of beautifying foods. There are almost limitless colors and shapes to work with, so use your creativity. There are many different tools, too. A vegetable peeler can be used to peel the skin of a tomato to produce a thin strip that can be rolled up to look like a rose. A sharp spoon can be used to sculpt root vegetables into many shapes. There are also standard garnishing tools such as the radish roser, which produces a rose shape out of a radish, and the tomato scooper, which perfectly removes the seeds from a tomato. The Japanese have discovered some of the most beautiful ways to garnish foods, and there are a variety of books on the subject. Garnishing foods enhances the presentation and adds to our enjoyment of food. Remember, eating is an experience, and each part of it—from the atmosphere to the taste, color, and garnish—plays a large part in the pleasure it provides.
Composting and Recycling
In today’s world, it is ideal to walk as lightly as possible upon the Earth. We have learned that the Earth’s resources are exhaustible and that pollution is damaging. By producing less waste, we help make the future brighter. Almost everything is recyclable; whether it is used again or broken down and made into something new, it still results in one less tree chopped down or one less chemical created. Composting is beautiful, as it both eliminates all organic waste in a conscious way and refertilizes the soil for future growth. Composting can be made easier by adding worms or bacterial starters to help it break down faster. A good book on composting is Let It Rot! by Stu Campbell.
Finding Raw Food in a Cooked City
In most urban environments, there are farmers’ markets where local growers go to sell their crops. Checking online at LocalHarvest often provides good leads. Also, search online under “Health Food,” “Restaurants, Vegetarian,” and even “Farms,” “Fruit Stands,” or “Farmers’ Markets.” Once you find the healthy stores, take a look at their bulletin boards and pick up any health or new age magazines they may have for free. These publications often have listings of everything from “fruit for sale” to “raw gatherings” and may also list restaurants. If all else fails, most supermarkets now have organic sections, so find the biggest one you can and make do with their commercially grown “organic” produce. Metropolitan areas usually have a number of health food stores that serve different neighborhoods, as well as organic or health-conscious restaurants that serve some raw foods. Check out the Yellow Pages under “Health Food” or buy a copy of The Tofu Tollbooth, compiled by Elizabeth Zipern and Dar Williams, which lists just about all the health-friendly places in the United States, state by state.
Foraging in the Woods
Many wonderful plants found in the woods can be consumed. Almost every grass is edible, and some are very nutritious. Birch bark is edible; dandelion greens and flowers are edible. Most large fruits are edible. Many salad greens are available wild. It is a good idea to check out an herb and wild food guide for pictures of what each herb or green looks like. It is also helpful to contact native or indigenous people for more information about the edible plants in your area. Research is invaluable, because you want to be prepared when a life-giving plant comes into season.
Foraging Around Town
Many people live in houses with fruiting trees planted in their yard. Amazingly, people often prefer to buy from a store rather than pick the fruit for themselves. If you see fruit falling on the ground in your neighborhood, consider knocking on the door or leaving a note asking whether it’s okay to pick some of it. Many people will let you have all their fruit or will split the harvest with you.
Raw Travel Tips
When adventuring to new places, it can be challenging to find raw organic food. Many places in the world have become inundated with modern packaged foods, or their local denizens dine primarily on fast food and junk. Most modern cities do have some form of raw and organic resources available, yet sometimes we find ourselves in a dead food zone where there isn’t any vital food available. In those situations, try to plan ahead or master the art of patience and fasting.
For airplane travel, it is best to bring your own food. This is the only way to ensure clean and fresh raw food. I’ve been told that a few airlines offer a raw option, and one airline offers only organic produce. These days it’s challenging to get airline security to let you through without irradiating your food. If you happen to have food in your pockets, you can get a few things onboard without being irradiated. Otherwise, every bag goes through the X-ray machine. The amount of radiation is supposedly less than that emitted by a cell phone, yet this may just be safety propaganda. Personally, I either fast or bring what I can. One of the best travel foods is kimchee. When they break out the cart of microwaved beef, open up your kimchee. It will mask the smell of the airplane food and help build up good flora that airline radiation destroys.
Trains and Buses
On train and bus rides, it is easy to bring your own food. Certain whole foods travel better than others—avoid ones that can get squished. Prepared foods are great for this kind of travel as well.
Long Car Travel
Car travel gives you the best options of all. You can bring prepared foods for parts of the road trip and collect many fruits along the way. Each new destination becomes a new source of food and fun. Sprouts can also be grown inside cars or buses by hanging sprout bags from the windows. Some people have even created solar dehydrators in the back window of their car.
Hotels are great for preparing food and growing sprouts. You can set up a mini-kitchen area with a cutting board and even set up a blender. The bathroom can be used as a sprouting area, and you can stock up the room with local produce.
As we think, so it is. Benjamin Franklin once said that he saw “more people get ill from what came out of their mouths than from what went in.” This is to say that we are what we think and say as much as, if not more than, we are what we eat. Some of the most unhealthy food a person can eat is made by angry chefs or people who are upset. Love and positive intent can influence our creations as much as negativity and anger. By keeping a positive attitude while preparing food, we can add to the joy and experience people get when they eat.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from The Raw Truth: Recipes and Resources for the Living Foods Lifestyle, published by Celestial Arts, 2011.