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Learning About Raw Foods – Part 2

Posted Aug 08 2011 8:01am

Last month, I was on a mission to learn more about the raw food diet. I wrote a post about the things I learned from The Complete Book of Raw Food , including the believed health benefits, tools, and cooking methods used by raw foodies. I wasn’t finished there though. I wanted to read a few other books and blogs in order to round out my knowledge, and because I’m a big food nerd I find it really interesting.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that there’s a whole lot more to raw food than just salads. There are pates, (nut) burgers, raw crackers, “noodles”, and so much more. Over the course of my little investigation, I experimented with some raw recipes and enjoyed some lovely delicious raw fare at Rawlicious . I learned that there are several staple foods in a raw food kitchen, and although I’d heard the names of many, I didn’t know exactly what they were. In case you’re curious about these things too, here’s my mini guide of ingredients you can expect to find in raw recipes:

Seasonings:

  • Miso: A fermented soy product that contains active enzymes if unpasteurized. I used this for the first time last week to make the Vitality Soup from The Complete Book of Raw Food, and have seen it in a ton of other recipes while browsing through the book.
  • Nama Shoyu: This is an unpasteurized and unheated (therefore raw) sauce that looks and tastes like soy sauce. It contains living enzymes and beneficial digestive bacteria.
  • Bragg Liquid Aminos: This is a gluten-free liquid similar to nama shoyu, only cheaper. It is unheated and unfermented, and contains 16 essential and non-essential amino acids.

(Source)

Vegetables:

  • Sea vegetables: Dulse, arame, kombu, kelp, nori and other seaweeds fall under this category. They contain tons of minerals that are found in the ocean (which are coincidentally also the same ones found in our blood). Raw uncooked sea vegetables offer the broadest range of minerals of any food, containing virtually all minerals found in the ocean, which are the same ones found in human blood. They can be purchased in several forms including flakes and dried strips.

Grains and Legumes:

  • Buckwheat, kamut, quinoa, oat groats (these are whole oats that have had the outer husk removed. To make oatmeal, the oat groats are steamed, then rolled.)
  • Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans – sprouted to retain nutrients

(Source)

Nuts and Seeds:

  • Cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds – these are some of the most popular ones that I came across, and they’re used in everything from main course dishes like nut loaf and burgers to desserts such as tarts and cookies. Many nuts are soaked beforehand to soften them up (useful if you don’t have a super powerful blender), like this Raw Vegan Caesar Dressing from Choosing Raw.
  • Sunflower seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, unhulled sesame seeds – Sunflower seeds can be sprouted and used in sprout salads, and many seeds are used like nuts in dessert crusts and cookies. Since chia seeds tend to thicken up the consistency of whatever they’re mixed with, they’re good for raw puddings and smoothies.

Raw sweeteners:

  • Dried fruit – Dates and raisins are two common ones, as well as dried figs, mangos, and apricots.
  • Raw honey – True raw, organic honey has only 60 calories per tablespoon and also has anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties. Regular, processed honey isn’t as nutritious because the processing removes a large amount of its phytonutrients.
  • Sucanat – This is unrefined whole cane sugar. It is often used to replace refined sugar in recipes because it has a similar consistency, and also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B, and potassium. You don’t get these things in refined white sugar!
  • Stevia – Probably one of the most popular natural sweeteners, this comes from the Stevia plant and is calorie free. Be careful though, because its sweetness is 300x that of regular sugar. Some people notice a bit of a metallic aftertaste as well, so use Stevia sparingly!
  • Agave – This is a sweetener that comes from Blue Agave plants in Mexico. (There are other agave plant types, but apparently the best kind is from the Blue one.) Agave nectar’s consistency is similar to honey, and its taste is somewhat comparable. Those that are lighter in colour are also lighter in taste, whereas the darker types are a bit stronger.

(Source)

When I was browsing through books, blogs, and other raw foodist websites, I noticed that there was one recipe featured over and over again. I think I found about 8 different versions of gazpacho soup, ranging from those made with mangos to more traditional varieties full of veggies in tomato-based puree. There were bits and pieces of each recipe that I liked, so I combined a bunch of ideas together to come up with my own. May I present you with another version of….

Raw Gazpacho Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

In a large blender, combine everything except for the bell pepper, celery, onion, zucchini and parsley. Puree until a smooth mixture forms.

Chop all vegetables into small pieces and place them in a large bowl. Pour the tomato puree in and mix well. (I’ll be the first to admit that this does not look very appetizing, but I promise it is good!)

Let the soup sit for a while to allow the flavours blend. Season with a little more sea salt and pepper to taste, then ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.

Serves 4.

Nutrition per serving: 204 calories, 15g fat (2g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 54mg sodium, 18g carbs, 4g fiber, 11g sugar, 3g protein.

If the green soup I made a few weeks ago was a bit too much for you to imagine eating, I’d strongly recommend trying this one instead. Even though it doesn’t taste like anything special immediately after pouring the puree into the choppped veggies, a few hours in the fridge is all it really needs for the magic to happen. I ate mine at room temperature, and (keep in mind that I am not normally a cold soups kind of girl) it was really tasty!

If you’re curious about raw food diets and want to learn more, here are a few great blogs that can help you out:

  • Choosing Raw (thanks to everyone who suggested this one to me!)
  • Gone Raw – lots of great recipes from raw foodies
  • Rawmazing – Info about going raw, recipes, and great photos

Questions for today:

  • Are there any special diets or eating styles that you’re eager to learn more about? 
  • Cold soups: Like or dislike? In the summer, I think I could really get into them, but in the winter, I know I’d be craving hot ones!

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