Raw vegan kitchens sound a bit limiting to some. I must admit the thought, at one time, scared me as well, but as I’ve experimented more and more with raw recipes, the plain and simple of it is that there is a lot to be done without fire (or heating elements) and — as most OGP monsters know — without animal products.
Already high on my vegan diet rocking horse, I’ve recently started transitioning my meals to being fifty percent raw. The result has been staggeringly delicious: Herbs and spices are so much more vibrant when not cooked. I’ve also realized just how easy it is to do, and that — vegan world, forgive me for saying this — it’s not all about green salads. With the right tools, raw magic can happen.
What are these tools you ask? Let us begin:
The Food Processor
Some folks like blenders or juicers, but I’m the food processor type. The motors are more powerful, and there are more options to play with. Raw soups, salsas, ice cream, cheese, plant-based milk, nut butters, smoothies, and on the list goes–it can happen via a food processor. In my book, that makes this a valuable tool.
My personal favorite with the food processor is mango-banana ice cream: We (my wife, our volunteers, and I) process three cups of diced mangos with one banana, freeze it, and then take it out a little before eating and blend it again just before serving.
Raw food can be heated to temperatures lower than 118 degrees, which means dehydrating stuff is an option, which means funky fruit snacks are not far away, as are dried vegetables (“sun”-dried tomatoes as well), crispy nuts, and green powders. It allows raw food to stay good longer, which is very useful.
Dehydrated fruit, nothing fancy, is just the perfect snack food. We keep jars around the house for convenient, stay-on-the-couch munching. Even better, we use whatever fruit is in season, so the cost is virtually nothing.
Fermenting raw food is yet another way to preserve it for a while, and it also provides much needed probiotics to the raw vegan diet. Making pickles is also a tasty option, and something that doesn’t have to be too complicated if eaten within a couple of weeks instead of stored on the shelf.
Down and dirty, we take peppers straight from the garden, throw them in a jar with vinegar (go raw apple cider in this case), and start eating them after a couple of days. Works well with loads of veggies and adds some sweet tanginess to meals.
Plant Pots (or a Garden)
If you are raw and not growing at least some of your food, you need to start. The fresher, the more nutrients it’s going to have and the tastier it will be. More or less, all lettuce and herbs can be grown on the kitchen windowsill. But, there are more things you can grow at home.
We are permaculture farmers, so we have a beautiful herb spiral right outside our kitchen and I use it daily. Often, I chop up a good mix and use it raw for flavoring dishes. Common herbs—basil, oregano, mint and so on—are full of medicinal qualities.
Yes, it’s simple, but isn’t that one of the great benefits of being raw? You cut up food, if you even do that, and you eat it. Sure, it’s fun to experiment with recipes and spice up an otherwise perfectly delicious tomato or bowl of fruit or, God forbid, salad. But, a good knife or set of knives more or less sums up raw vegan necessity.
Something I’ve recently learned to eat raw is okra. Being from Louisiana, I grew up eating the stuff in gumbo (recently discovered vegan version) or fried, but I’d never tried it raw. Delicious! Cut it into really thin pieces and throw it into whatever for some crunch. Now, I grow it and eat the leaves of the plant, too.
So far, the merge over into raw traffic seems to be going fairly smoothly, and the truth of the matter is that most “healthy” eaters are already doing a lot of this anyway. Fruit and greens are nothing new. To up the ante a bit, it only takes minding what happens to your seeds and nuts, your herbs and garlic, your pesto sauces. Learn of a few new recipes, a few new tricks, and the fifty-fifty diet is within reasonable reach.
*Our decision to attempt a fifty-percent raw diet was based on advice from the documentary Food Matters. If you’ve not seen it, here’s the preview.
Image source: Foodista/Wikimedia