Rawgust Week 1: Five Raw Faves

Aug.08.11 § 1 Comment

Homemade roasted chicken and stock, ratatouille served on fried bread… and now I’m blogging about raw foods? I’m eclectic. And I’m participating in a raw food challenge this month. It’s called Rawgust and it is sponsored by the Raw Food Institute. Every day in August, er, I mean Rawgust, RFI sends participants recipes and tips on how to eat raw. I have been dabbling in raw foods for a couple months so I decided to go all in, as much as I can. The timing couldn’t be better. It’s a perfect way to end the summer. It’s too hot to cook and farmers markets are overflowing with fresh vegetables that are ready for eating with minimal processing.

I’ve chosen five essential ingredients in raw “cooking.” I’d like to note that there are a lot of different levels of eating raw and everyone does it a different way. Some people don’t use nutritional yeast, miso or nama shoyu (cultured soy sauce). I do. Some people start with a juice fast, and I’m not. I’d love to, but I’m just still not ready to buy a juicer. And if a raw ingredient I need isn’t available at a store near me, then I’m not going to order it. Not yet at least. I’m using Rawgust to incorporate more fresh food into my diet with what is easily accessible to me. So, when people say eating healthier food is too hard, I can say no it’s not. And I have proof. If someone as busy as me can make and eat mostly raw vegetables, so can you.

Start by building your foundation. These are ingredients I already use and have found vital to putting together raw recipes. I bought all of these ingredients either at Trader Joes or Whole Foods.

1. Raw Nuts

My favorite are cashews. You’ll see recipes call for anything from raw walnuts to raw pine nuts. I feel pretty comfortable subsituting cashews in most cases just because they’re my favorite nut. As you’ve noticed, I’ve used them in the past to make traditional basil pesto and a dandelion pesto. They’re used similarly in raw cooking, the base for sauces and the protein in many dishes. Make sure you soak raw nuts.

2. Raw Tahini

Tahini is nothing more than sesame seed paste. It’s a great base for sauces or salad dressings. One of my favorite salad dressings is a simple lemon tahini. Or you can make something more complex, like a Hoisin style sauce with agave and chili peppers. The tahini is going to come in handy.

3. Lemons

Lemon juice is your essential raw acid. Its the tart addition that brings the flavor of a salad dressing full circle or the background flavor to a complex tasting nut paste. And you want the juice straight from a lemon, never ever from a bottle. I always have a bowl full of lemons just because I love lemon water. They’re good for that, too.

4. Sundried Tomatoes

If you read any raw marinara recipe, you’ll see them in there. Raw foods love sundrieds. And so do I.  Grind them up with some fresh tomatoes and your marinara sauce is ready. Or add lemon juice and some basil and you’ve got a tomato basil salad dressing.

5. Avocados

Apparently avocados are just as easily a dessert as they are a meal. Avocado pudding anyone? I’ve been using them just as a snack, but they’re going to come in handy as a salad dressing when I make massaged kale salad.

Extras – Nutritional yeast

So, nutritional yeast isn’t raw. But it is vegan and a great source of B vitamins. Nutritional yeast is a go-to vegan replacement for cheese. But I like to think of it as a separate entity, one whose nutty flavor pairs so fabulously with tamari (nutritional yeast + tamari = crack. seriously) and is popcorn’s best friend. Or oatmeal’s best friend, if you like a savory oatmeal as opposed to sweet. I also consider it an essential ingredient in miso soup and a helpful flavoring agent in raw nut pastes. I might not even use it in my raw recipes. Maybe I just wanted to plug nutritional yeast because I love it so much. Maybe you’re wondering what the hell it is. Check out the kind I buy here.

And here are some of the raw blogs and sites that I like to read.

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