The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw: A Review

December 6, 2009 in cookbook, Food Porn, raw, recipe, review, vegetable

raw-shroom-raw

[This was cross posted at my raw food blog Raw+Simple]

I had an opportunity to dive into the book, written by by Mark Reinfeld, Bo Rinaldi, and Jennifer Murray, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw.

I had not previously read one of these Idiot’s Guides but I found that they use uncomplicated first person language that feels quite direct and the layout is actually a great one because there are useful summaries as you move through the content which leads to great knowledge pick-up and retention. There are little call out boxes with nice tips relevant to the recipe or topic on that page.

There is a VERY useful chart showing you times and temperatures for dehydrating a range of foods. As recommended by many raw food chefs, this book suggests starting the dehydrating run at 145 F and then turning it down to 105 F some 2 hours later. This might seem contrary to what you have heard, which is likely that you should NEVER raise the temperature on living foods above 115 F. What is happening in those first 2 hours at 145 F is that the rate of evaporation is higher because there is the most water at the beginning of the cycle. This evaporation COOLS the food so the food is not actually at 145 F, just the air blowing over it. This 2 step process is recommended to ensure that the food you have put so much work into does not begin to mold before it dries sufficiently.

There is so much fundamentally useful information in the first several parts that its hard to cover. I think there really is very little if anything they have failed to cover for the beginner and the experienced.

The chapters are well organized and include:

Chapters

  • Part 1: Raw Foods Illuminated
  • Raw Benefits
  • Myth Busters
  • Going Green with Raw Cuisine
  • Ancient Foods, Superfoods, and the Future of Food
  • The Perfect Pantry
  • Tools of the Trade
  • Part 2: Raw Techniques
  • Preparation Basics
  • Soaking and Sprouting
  • Advanced Techiques
  • Part 3: Recipes on the light side
  • Appetizers and Spreads
  • Salads and Dressings
  • Sublime Sauces and Toppings
  • Sumptuous Soups
  • Nut Milks and Cheeses
  • Bountiful Beverages
  • Part 4: Hearty Fare
  • Unbeatable Breakfasts
  • Filling Wraps and Sandwiches
  • Pizzas, Crackers, and Breads
  • Delicious Main Dishes
  • Puddings, Pies, and Parfaits
  • Cakes, Cookies, and Energy Bars
  • Part 5: Raw Transitions
  • A Day in the Life
  • Fasts and Cleanses
  • Four Week Raw Success Program
  • Glossary
  • Further Resources

As usual in these reviews, I choose a recipe and test it as well as photograph it.

I chose the following mushroom recipe and I can tell you, I was quite happy I did. This is an explosively flavorful dish with a lovely contrast between the intense meaty mushroom and the fresh tartly marinated asparagus. It was a huge thumbs up from everyone in my family from the 2.5 yo to the old adults.

I also found the marinade so beguiling that I used it on other vegetables, loved it all.

Portobello Mushroom Steaks with Balsamic Asparagus (Page 226)

Ingredients

  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 teaspoons nama shoyu (raw soy sauce)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
  • 1 bunch asparagus (or enough for 4 servings
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 medium yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • undisclosed amount of maple syrup (try 1/4 cup) – book left this out of the ingredients!

Directions

Must caps in quarters and place in a baking pan with gills facing down. Add the water and 1/4 cup nama shoyu and put into 145 F dehydrator for 30 minutes. Remove from dehydrator and pour off the marinade (save 1/2 cup).

In a separate bowl mix basil, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons nama shoyu, salt, black pepper. Push mushrooms into this marinade, coat evenly.

In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, stone ground mustard, maple syrup, 1 teaspoon nama shoyu.

Clean and trim asparagus, put into pan, add this balsamic marinade.

Put asparagus in pan into 145 F dehydrator for 1 hour, stir every 15 minutes.

After this hour, add remaining 1/2 cup balsamic marinade to bottom of mushroom pan and put it into the 145 F dehydrator with the asparagus for 45 to 60 minutes.

Remove from dehydrator and serve warm, if desired (its not bad at all cool). Recipe suggests sprinkling with the bell peppers but I didn’t for my photos.

Again, this recipe was amazing and I would recommend it completely, lots of amazing flavor.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw: A Review

Product Details

Raw Food: Date Coconut cookies – 100% raw & nut free

February 21, 2009 in cookies, raw

Raw Food: Date Coconut Sunflower and Pumpkin seed cookies

I have been experimenting with the dehydrator and blending, mostly modestly sweet to savory things. Today’s raw food recipe is more about the sweet. These date heavy cookies should not be eaten every day unless you are trying to gain weight.

I suggest only making as much as you will eat over a few days so that you are not storing them for a long time. They retain quite a lot of moisture even after drying overnight. I prefer them this way so that they are not crumbly.

I put them in the fridge to be extra sure.

I really enjoyed these cookies, they pack in a lot of flavor and of course they are 100% nut free!

Raw Food: Date Coconut Sunflower and Pumpkin seed cookies

Nika’s date coconut cookies – 100% raw & nut free

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c raw pumpkin seeds (split)
  • 5 depitted dates (dried, organic)
  • 1/2 c organic coconut, medium shred
  • 2 T raw unheated honey
  • 1/4 c coconut juice (as needed to moisten)
  • 1/8 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of sea salt

Raw Food: coconut date cookies

Directions:
Add all ingredients to processor and blend until seeds have broken down and a dough is formed. Without enough of the coconut juice, the mix will just go around and around in the processor bowl. Adding just enough juice allows a dough to begin to form.

Do not make it soupy though!

Use a small cookie dough scooper and portion out onto paraflexx sheets. Press the cookies a bit flat, making sure all cookies are essentially the same size/thickness.

Raw Food: coconut date cookies

(paraflexx sheet)

Raw Food: coconut date cookies

Raw Food: coconut date cookies

Raw Food: coconut date cookies

Dehydrate at 135F for 2 hours and then turn down to 115F and allow to go overnight.

Raw Food: coconut date cookies

Remove after cooled and keep in cool dry place in a ziptop bag.

Raw Food: Date Coconut Sunflower and Pumpkin seed cookies

If you try this, let me know how it goes for you!

Raw Food: raw cheese at breakfast

February 18, 2009 in breakfast, cheese, raw

Raw Food: raw cheese and other goodies (100% nut free!)

I have been working with our new dehydrator to create several types of crackers and fruit leathers. The goal is to understand what the drying process does to various foods and to test some of the recipes one finds on the web.

Everything I will ever make will be 100% nut free. We have a zero tolerance policy on nuts of any kind.

Note that coconuts are not tree nuts and do not present tree nut allergens so I like to use coconut flesh, milk, butter, water, and juice!

Raw food: KD posing

I definitely enjoy making all manner of smoothies and munching on salads but its also good to have some texture for the need to nibble on dense food stuffs. I want to forestall cravings for Lays potato chips!

To wit, today’s post is on what I ate for breakfast this morning. After whipping up some cheese grits and homegrown chicken eggs for the family, I pulled together this plate of crunchy goodness.

Raw Food: raw cheese and other goodies (100% nut free!)

I have a few slices of raw cow’s milk aged (5 years) cheddar cheese (Black Diamond) – notice I am not vegan, beta flax crackers (recipe here), sprouted wheat berry crackers, carrot ginger crisps, mango leather, and banana leather.

Recipes!

Sprouted wheat berry crackers (adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup organic wheat berries
  • pure water, as needed
  • 3 tablespoons organic shoyu
  • raw organic sunflower seeds, enough to sprinkle over top of crackers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, cold pressed, first press
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:
Sprout wheat berries (will take several days, I do it until primary shoot begins to emerge). Put sprouted grain in food processor, add the shoyu, lemon juice, and olive oil, process until the grains have been macerated. You might need to add a bit of water to get the mixture to macerate and form a dough.

Spread the dough onto paraflexx sheets in the shape of crackers (so that you will not have a hard time cracking them into shapes later).

Sprinkle with the raw sunflower seeds and press them into the surface of the crackers slightly.

Start dehydrating at 135F for an hour or so then turn down to 115F to dry over night. In the morning, flip the crackers and if they are still dark (not dried) underneath, put them back into the dehydrator until dry. Do not over dry. Store in a zip lock baggie.

Notes: When I make this next time I will add more shoyu and also sprinkle a bit of salt ontop as it goes into the dehydrator. Over time I will likely need this salt less but for now it seems this recipe needs that, for my taste.

Carrot Ginger Crisps

Ingredients:

  • 15 large organic carrots
  • 1 tablespoon shaved ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • organic coconut water, as needed

Directions:
Peel and juice the carrots. Save the pulp, add to a blender jar. Add back in the carrot juice, lemon juice, and the ginger. Blend the mixture, adding the organic coconut water as needed to encourage a puree to form.

I almost killed my blender with my beta flax cracker recipe (began to smoke) and then this recipe was challenging for my run of the mill blender. Be careful with yours! Stop it often to mix the unblended stuff at the top down into the lower parts of the blender jar. You do not want this to be really juicy either.

Using an offset spatula (your very best of friends for a lot of these recipes), spread the puree/mix out onto the paraflexx sheets, might take 2 or more.

Dehydrate overnight at 115F. It goes fast so you might want to keep checking it, depending on your conditions.

Notes: the ginger is fantastic with this crisp! Its an intense experience and I am still thinking of how best to use it. Might be nice in salads, might make an interesting topping on another recipes.

Mango Leather

Ingredients:

Directions:
Peel mangos and remove flesh from pit, put into blender jar. Add lemon juice and then blend. Add coconut water as needed to help the puree loosen up just a bit without getting too juicy.

Using an offset spatula, spread the puree/mix out onto the paraflexx sheets.

Dehydrate 4 – 6 hours at 125F. Keep checking on it, depending on your conditions. Objective is a dried, slightly tacky sheet that is not so dry that it is brittle.

When done, remove from sheet, roll up in a parchment paper and store in a baggie in a cool dry location. I use a rolling pizza cutter to cut my leathers.

Banana Leather

Ingredients:

Directions:
Peel bananas and put into blender jar. Add lemon juice and then blend. Add coconut water as needed to help the puree loosen up just a bit without getting too juicy.

Using an offset spatula, spread the puree/mix out onto the paraflexx sheets.

Dehydrate 4 – 6 hours at 125F. Keep checking on it, depending on your conditions. Objective is a dried, slightly tacky sheet that is not so dry that it is brittle. This banana leather might dry sooner than this, keep an eye on it. Mine turned out a bit more like banana toffee which is not necessarily a bad thing!

When done, remove from sheet, roll up in a parchment paper and store in a baggie in a cool dry location. I use a rolling pizza cutter to cut my leathers.

Ok, there you go!

I know my limits in terms of diet and I know I need lots of texture.

These things should not be what you are eating 100% of the time. A raw food diet should consist of mostly simple fruits and vegetables, some seeds and grains, LOTS of water, and in our case, raw dairy.

Let me know if you try any of these recipes!

If you are interested in getting a dehydrator yourself I can tell you that I am just tickled pink with my Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator, the only one I have experience with.

Their page is at this link.

Raw Food: Beta Flax crackers

February 15, 2009 in raw, recipe

Raw Food: flax crackers and hummus

I am teaching myself how to make uncooked foods with a bit of texture that can be a boon to a raw food diet. The following recipe that I concocted myself uses a dehydrator but you could use a low temp oven instead (unless you live in the humid south like New Orleans where mold grows just about anywhere).

If you try these let me know how it goes for you!

I call them Beta Flax because they contain raw carrot – beta carotene!

Raw Beta flax crackers

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flax seeds
  • 2 C water
  • 1/2 C sunflower seeds, raw
  • 1/2 C pumpkin seeds, raw
  • 3 organic carrots, peeled
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1 T shoyu

Directions:

In a large bowl, add water to flax seeds and allow to hydrate for 1 – 2 hours.
In a food processor, grate carrots with grater attachment.
Replace grater attachment with the blade.
Add garlic, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, lemon juice, hydrated flax seeds.
Pulse the mixture and continue until flax seeds begin to break up and a dough begins to form, might take a few minutes (10?).
Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture onto paraflexx sheets and put into the dehydrator overnight.

The first 2 hours can be at 135F and then put to 115F for the overnight.

Occasionally take out trays and rotate them. Half way through process, flip the crackers so moist undersides can also dry.
Allow to cool and then store in a cool dark place in a ziptop bag.

Enjoy with all sorts of dips, as part of a savory mille-feuille, as a salad adornment, totally up to your imagination!

Raw Food: flax crackers and hummus

(Beta flax crackers served here with a fresh cilantro chickpea hummus)