18 June 2012

Open your mind to the raw possibilities with 'Eat Raw, Eat Well'

Eating more raw food just makes sense. Raw foods contain more nutrients than cooked, and a raw food diet eliminates the artificial ingredients, dyes, and additives found in processed foods. Raw dishes tend to be lower in calories and higher in fiber than cooked or processed foods. But there are only so many salads and crudités a person can eat. What else is there to a raw diet?

As it turns out, quite a lot. When I first leafed through Eat Raw, Eat Well: 400 Raw, Vegan, & Gluten-Free Recipes, I was surprised at the diversity of foods that can be made raw - as the saying goes, “everything from soup to nuts.” (Of course, in this case, the “nuts” are inside a delicious cashew cheesecake!)

I was also surprised at the number of ‘raw foods’ that I was already eating, without really thinking about it. Smoothies, chia puddings, nut cheeses, and marinated or pickled vegetables - things that are common to many vegans’ diets. The realization made incorporating more raw foods considerably less intimidating.

Raw food ‘cooking’ does have a learning curve. Instead of the oven and stovetop, you’ll generally be using a blender, food processor, or dehydrator. (I haven’t tried a dehydrator yet, but it’s on my to-do list.) Eating raw full-time would definitely take some preparation, too. But I suppose, just like being vegan, eventually it becomes second-nature, something you don’t even need to think about.

I’m not sure whether I’ll eventually go all raw, all the time. But the easy, tempting recipes and helpful advice in Eat Raw, Eat Well opened my mind to the raw possibilities.

For a little taste of what you'll see in Eat Raw, Eat Well, here is an excerpt from the book compliments of Robert Rose and Douglas McNish.

Cashew Cheesecake (page 360)
This rich cake is particularly delicious served with fresh berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I like to save this for special occasions. You will need a high-powered blender to achieve the smoothest consistency possible.
Makes 16 servings
• High-powered blender
• 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan
4 cups raw cashews, soaked (see Tips) 1 L
1 cup filtered water 250 mL
1 cup raw agave nectar 250 mL
1 cup melted coconut oil (see Tips) 250 mL
1 tbsp raw vanilla extract 15 mL
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 10 mL
2 cups whole raw pecans 500 mL
1⁄4 cup chopped pitted soft dates 60 mL
1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt 2 mL

1. Filling: In a high-powered blender, combine soaked cashews, water, agave nectar, coconut oil, vanilla and lemon juice. Blend at high speed until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
2. Crust: In a food processor, pulse pecans, dates and salt until smooth (no large pieces should remain). Press into bottom of pan, ensuring that there are no gaps.
3. Assembly: Pour filling over crust and freeze for at least 2 hours or until firm in the center. This dessert can be made ahead and kept in the freezer for up to 1 month.
4. When you are ready to serve, remove from freezer and set aside to thaw for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pan sides and slice. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

To soak the cashews for this recipe, cover with 8 cups (2 L) water. Set aside for 1 hour. Drain, discarding soaking water, and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear.
To check if the cake is frozen all the way through, insert a tester such as a wooden skewer or toothpick. If it comes out clean, then the cake is ready to be thawed.
For decades, coconut products (coconut oil, milk and flesh) have been painted with the anti–saturated fat brush, based on the assumption that saturated fat increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. However, recent studies have found otherwise, so long as the coconut products are unprocessed. In fact, an impressive benefit of coconut products is their ability to boost HDL (“good cholesterol”), which helps to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Coconut is high in a type of saturated fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are unique in the sense that they are burned for energy and are less likely to be stored as body fat.

Excerpted from Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Kasey Minnis | Facebook | @veggiemightee | Blog
Fort Lauderdale, FL That rare and elusive species known as the native Floridian, Kasey is passionate about protecting other endangered creatures. She lives by the principle “compassion and crochet for all,” and enjoys teaching others – including her husband of 20 years and two beautiful children – the benefits of cruelty-free eating by feeding them tasty vegan treats from her kitchen. Contact Kasey at kasey@thisdishisveg.com.

Disclosure: A complimentary copy of this publication was provided to TDIV for review. TDIV provides fair and unbiased reviews of all publications or products submitted for assessment.

Photo credits: Robert Rose Inc.