March 19, 2010 at 8:19 am
I hate to cook, so does raw food hold the answers? Find out after the jump.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review.
When I ate at a raw food restaurant for the first time two weeks ago, my dining mates started to look at me funny. “Are you ok, Jennette?” I told them I was fine, but the quietly panicked looks in their eyes suggested I might be wrong about that. I went to the restroom and when I looked in the mirror, I saw a splotchy, red-faced woman. Holy crap! No wonder they were freaking out! Someone dug an antihistamine out of her purse and I was fine, but it probably wasn’t the best introduction to the raw food lifestyle.
Regardless of that experience, I decided to take the opportunity to review Raw Food: A Complete Guide to Every Meal of the Day, a book that was recently released in America after its original release in Sweden. After taking a glimpse at the pages and pages of full-color photos, I think I’d still buy the book even if it were still in Swedish.
I want to eat the pages. See this little girl below? I imagine her saying, “Oh, would you like some apple pie? DENIED! You cannot have it because I ate it many months ago and there is only this photo left to torment you!”
The whole book is like this, beautifully laid out with full-color photos making the recipes look worth all the chopping, sprouting and food processing their preparation entails. Raw food refers to any dish that was made without heating the ingredients to above 104 degrees. Proponents of the raw food lifestyle report that it makes them feel much healthier and more energized.
The book encourages you to eat raw your own way, breaking the raw lifestyle into three phases so you can ease yourself into it slowly and to your level of comfort. This is good, because I can’t see myself buying algae at the supermarket. To keep the book accessible to newbies, they purposely did not include any recipes that require a dehydrator. They do list lots of gadgets you can use if you are so inclined, which tempted my gadget-loving soul. They come up with creative uses for some tools, like using a cheese grater to slice radishes or cucumbers, and using a coffee grinder to grind spices.
The disadvantages of raw cooking appear to me to be the amount of prep time required to create many of the dishes. If you adopt a raw food lifestyle, a lot of planning seems to be necessary so you have the right fresh ingredients on hand to work with. The authors also mention that you can grow your own sprouts and soak nuts in advance, though if I tried that I’m afraid the cats might enjoy it more than me. The authors also warn that some people develop headaches and fatigue when switching to the raw lifestyle, though the effects are usually temporary and lead to increased energy later.
After reading about the raw food lifestyle, I felt like I’d traveled through an exotic foreign land. I doubt I have the patience to adopt the diet myself, but I will probably try out some of their recipes when I am willing to work on my knife skills. I don’t like to cook, and technically this isn’t cooking! The book also answered one of my great unanswered questions: What are those weird seeds available at the exit of my local Indian restaurant? The answer: Fennel seeds!
Author Erica Palmcrantz was kind enough to take the time to answer a few more of my questions about the raw food lifestyle. Our interview appears below. You can buy Raw Food: A Complete Guide to Every Meal of the Day on Amazon.com.
I’m not a big fan of chopping fruits and vegetables. Are there any kitchen gadgets you can recommend that help quicken food preparation?
A mixer and a food processor are very usable and make the raw food preparation very fun. If you have this there will be very little chopping.
How can I work on my knife skills to become a faster chopper?
I think if you put more attention in your chopping and think how wonderful it is to prepare the amazing food, then you will be less bored when you chop.
While I love to eat, I don’t love preparing food. Is it possible to prep a lot of raw ingredients at once over the weekend to be used during the week?
Food prepared à la minute is always the best but it is better to prepare in advanced than not doing it at all! Snacks, nutmilk and dressings you can always store in the fridge for a couple of days.
Is there a way to preserve chopped vegetables in the fridge so they don’t lose nutrients and flavor?
Put the vegetables in a sealed container or a plastic bag if you pre chop them.
Does the raw food lifestyle simply require that you spend time each day on food preparation?
When you get more use to making raw food you will see that your daily preparation of food is like a meditation and you want to spend time on food preparation because it gives you so much energy back.
In the book, you specify that raw food is any food that hasn’t been heated about 104 degrees. What happens to food at 104 degrees that makes it lose nutritional value?
You have something called living enzymes that over 104 degrees will looe is “aliveness” and 60-80% of all the nutrients will be lost in the heating process.
Similarly, how does freezing food affect its nutritional value?
Freezing is a good option, even thought it will lose some of its nutrients and this is also for the living enzymes. It is very much depending of the freezing process, if you pick your berries yourself and hurry to freeze them or if you buy freeze dried fruit and veggies.
In the book you recommend that you start the day with a glass of water with lemon in it. Is there a particular reason for that, or is it just a way to ensure you remain hydrated during the day?
After sleep it is important to give your body water to keep you hydrated and the lemon will do your body more alkaline and give your immune system a boost. – you recharge your body for a amazing day. Also by drinking water you will prepare your stomach and inner organs, by telling “food is coming soon”!
Your book shares many success stories about people who eat raw food and feel much better for it. Are there any people with medical issues that should be warned that they may not be able to adapt to a 100% raw diet? If someone has a bad reaction to going 100% raw, are they usually able to do at least 90% or 80% raw?
I talk about going raw your way. You shouldn’t do things that a doctor not recommend or do something that doesn’t feel good in your body. Always listen to yourself and your reactions. By sustaining a 80 % raw food diet you can see a big difference in your energy and vitality.
Is it harder to eat a variety of raw food in the winter when there aren’t as many fruits and vegetables in season?
Yes, to get sun-ripened fruit and vegetables that are grown locally are hard to find, you can either increase your food with the food that actually are organic and locally grown such as, root fruits, kale and cabbage. Normally you also eat more nuts, seeds and dried fruits during winter time. You can always sprout and this will give you a lot of energy. Even superfoods that are high in nutrients can be consumed under the cold periods.
Thanks again for you time, and thanks for the beautiful book!
Thank you – may your journey in life be happy and joyful! Go raw – your way.
Earlier: Of chard and cappuccino
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