Before I get to the recipes themselves, I want to outline the Raw 50 staples, and the steps you can take so you’re ready to make raw meals. There is information on outfitting your raw kitchen and a raw staples shopping list. Certain raw skills are necessary, like sprouting and germinating seeds, and I go into them here. I also go through and describe commonly used raw ingredients like raw dairy products, water, kefir, salt, natural sweeteners, miso, flax seeds, fruits, oils, and raw preserves so you’re all set up and good to go. I also give my personal answer to the question Vegan or not?
Outfitting the Raw Kitchen
I remember my mother’s kitchen. There were pots and pans to cook in, lidded glass casserole dishes to use in the oven, and lots of Tupperware for leftovers. On the countertop was a toaster, right beside the blender.
Well, at least I still use a blender.
Over time, our kitchens become the place where all sorts of gizmos and gadgets accumulate. If you've been cooking for even a few years, look around your kitchen and you’re sure to find appliances and utensils you rarely use, tucked away in a cabinet or taking up space on a countertop. Now is your chance to replace them with something new, something you’ll actually use.
Doing away with cooking means doing away with many things: toasters, microwaves, even pots and pans. I use my stove to heat water for tea. I don’t really need my oven at all. You may have a well-outfitted kitchen for cooking, but there are a few things you probably don’t have that you’ll want to invest in if you’re going to be preparing your own raw food.
Here are the key pieces of equipment you’ll need:
There are blenders, and then there are blenders. I remember the flimsy one my mother used, and I have destroyed many of my own over the years. But since blending is a cornerstone of raw-food preparation, you can’t make a better investment than purchasing a nearly indestructible, top-notch blender. I have two favorites: the Vita-Mix or Jack LaLanne blender.
When I wrote Eating in the Raw
, I didn’t even own a juicer. My favorite drinks were the smoothies I made in my Vita-Mix and those I bought from the juice bars throughout New York City. At the time, I thought it was just easier to let someone else blend fruits and vegetables into sumptuous, savory, nutritious drinks. When I bought my juice at the juice bar, though, I had no choice but to drink it right away; juices start to oxidize as soon as they’re exposed to air. In as little as twenty minutes they can lose most of their nutrition. It’s a case of diminishing returns: the longer you wait to drink them, the less nutritious juices become. Having my own juicer would assure me of fresh, more nutritious juice right when I want it. But the juicers I had heard about and seen in use cost a small fortune!
Then I learned about Jack LaLanne Power Juicers. Now I’m hooked. This juicer does everything the $500 and $600 juicers do for less than $100, so this is an investment definitely worth making.
The dehydrator is to a raw foodist what the oven is to Betty Crocker. Yes, you can get by without one, but so many of the really incredible things you may want to make—from fresh fruit preserves to breads—call for a dehydrator. If you don’t want to shell out for the versatile top-of-the-line Excalibur, buy a cheaper one with a reliable thermostat to start. You’ll find reasonably priced dehydrators, as well as the Excalibur, on CarolAlt.com. Do look for some extra Teflex sheets too (in addition to the one that comes with your dehydrator). Teflex is a nonstick material used like wax paper, which keeps your dehydrating foods from dripping through the dehydrator shelves. A necessity when making preserves or cookies!
No, this isn’t so you can have fresh-ground coffee as you ponder The Raw 50
. A blender as powerful as the Vita-Mix is too big for many small chopping or grinding jobs. Whether you’re grinding nuts or a dry, raw cheese, the best and cheapest tool I know is an inexpensive electric coffee grinder.
Not everything raw has to be cold, but when you do warm food, you don’t want it to get too hot. This handy device will help you keep things warm but less than 115 degrees F so that the enzymes won’t be compromised.
I said it once and I’ll say it again: if there has ever been an appliance that is worth every cent, this is it! Spiral slicers (also called “spiralizers”) are sold for as little as $20. Why is this such a handy tool? It takes vegetables and cuts them into a spiral shape that is perfect for special treats like raw pasta!
You can easily get by without one, but a mandoline slicer makes cutting vegetables into very thin slices easier and a lot faster than doing it by hand. They are available at a wide variety of price points; see CarolAlt.com for several good options.
Vacuum Storage System (VacSy)
Unless you eat everything you make right away, this is an appliance you will definitely want to invest in. I couldn’t live without my VacSy. Its glass containers are unique. They not only store food, but also, with the help of their small, handheld vacuum pump, allow you to suck the air out, creating an oxygen-free environment that preserves your leftovers. You can get it through CarolAlt.com.
Other Odds and Ends
Most of the other accessories you’ll need for your raw kitchen are likely already there. If you don’t have canning jars and cheesecloth (or a stocking!) for germinating and sprouting, you should probably get some.
Your Raw Staples Shopping List
When I was growing up, you were sure to find milk, eggs, bread, sugar, flour, butter, and OJ in our kitchen as well as Tab, my mother’s favorite soft drink, boxes of sugary breakfast cereal, and Oreo cookies. Today my shopping list looks very different, fortunately.
You have to cover the basics. And the sooner you get used to shopping for raw staples, the easier sticking to a raw diet becomes. Keep in mind that fresh, living foods naturally perish more quickly than cooked, processed ones, so shop for produce often and conservatively to avoid spoilage.
Most important, always remember to read labels. You want raw products, not their cooked counterparts. Labeling can be vague or even deceptive, and unless you see the word “raw” or an equivalent —“unpasteurized,” or “cold-pressed,” for example—chances are it is not raw. And always get organic if you can.
You should be able to get everything on the following pages at a natural foods supermarket such as Wild Oats or Whole Foods. For certain items you may need to visit a good health-food store or check out an online resource or my website. If you’re vegan, you will skip some items on the list—honey, for example.
Raw Dairy Products
Have you ever wondered if small dairy farmers go down to the local supermarket to buy pasteurized milk? Guess what? They don’t. They get theirs fresh from the source.
There was a time when pasteurizing dairy products, a process that involves heating them to between 175 and 212 degrees F, made sense. A hundred years ago we didn’t have reliable refrigeration or affordable vacuum sealing to keep things from spoiling in transit. Those days are long past, but old habits die hard. Go into any supermarket and just about everything in the dairy section will have the word “pasteurized” on it—as if it’s something to boast about. Not to me it isn’t!
Those who make real dairy products take pride in the fact that their milk and cheeses still contain all the wonderful nutrients that God intended. Their enzymes are intact. They are real dairy and they are raw.
I love unpasteurized milk, but I don’t stop there in my search for raw dairy foods. Supermarkets with large cheese selections often offer some raw cheeses. The person behind the counter should know which cheeses are made from raw milk. At Whole Foods, for example, there is usually someone who knows enough about cheeses to ask you if you want soft, medium, or hard cheese, and if you have a preference for cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk. Better yet, they will let you taste what they have.
If you like Manchego or Emmentaler cheese, for example, ask for “raw- milk” Manchego or Emmentaler.
Each state regulates the sale of raw dairy products differently. In some places you are not allowed to buy raw milk, yet across the state line it is readily available. In Pennsylvania, where raw dairy is legally available, you can find fresh raw milk and cream at many farm stands and health-food stores and raw-milk cheeses in supermarkets. But there is a restriction on unpasteurized butter, which must be sold “for animal consumption” only. Of course, the same sanitation standards are followed in making butter as in making cheese so, since I’m an animal, I don’t hesitate to buy and consume fresh traditional, Mennonite-made butter.
For raw foodists everywhere who want raw dairy products, the Internet is a Godsend. These days, you can get just about anything shipped overnight, and the high-quality standards that producers of organic, raw dairy products adhere to make these products quite safe. Still, if you can buy locally, do! If you can’t, check on the Internet for sources of raw dairy products.
Two more things: You assume the responsibility for the shipment of the raw dairy, and if it gets lost en route and goes bad, it is all yours! The shelf life of raw dairy is relatively short, and the shipper doesn’t assume the responsibility for freshness; you are really buying at your own risk. When ...