Advanced Food Prep
As you transition into gourmet raw food, you'll probably want to learn more sophisticated food prep techniques. If you enjoy preparing the advanced recipes, you'll want to upgrade to powerful, heavy-duty kitchen equipment. These appliances will save you time and enable you to be more creative.
There are a number of ways to keep the cost down. Many people buy inexpensive equipment online or at yard sales — for example, dehydrators and Vita-Mix blenders in good condition turn up periodically on sites such as Craigslist and eBay.
Tools of the Trade
Kitchen appliances used by fresh chefs and raw foods enthusiasts include:
Electric juicer for fruits and vegetables
Soy milk and nut milk maker
Spice mill or coffee grinder
Sauerkraut slow cooker
Prepare Comfort Foods
Raw gourmet techniques can be used to create meals with the tastes, textures, and aromas that you're used to. These foods satisfy your emotional need for the comforting foods your parents made. For example, when you want a pick-me-up, you could have raw chocolate chip cookies with home-made almond milk. On a cold winter day, you might prepare a comforting bowl of warm soup. Warm foods (heated to about 115°F) are definitely part of the raw food repertoire.
Make Tasty Snacks
If you want to recreate classic comfort foods, the right tool for the job is a dehydrator. All you need is one of these compact appliances and a little advanced planning. Normally, when most folks get hungry they just reach for a bag of chips or crackers or some other type of convenience food. But with raw foods, you have to plan ahead.
Slow-baked crackers made in a dehydrator are the best there is, but they take about 11 hours to prepare. Food prep can become an issue when you're hungry and you want something to eat right away! The solution is to prepare healthy snack foods in advance (like crackers, chips, and trail mix), so you always have something ready to eat when you get hungry. That will prevent you from caving in and resorting to junk food.
Bake Your Own Bread
The dehydrator is a useful tool for preparing foods that satisfy the emotional aspects of cuisine, such as baked goods (breads), snack food (chips to serve with guacamole or salsa), warm foods (soups and chilis), and sweets (cookies and snack bars). The foods you create with this slow-cook method are mainly complex carbohydrates, full of good carbs that won't cause weight gain.
The dehydrator can be used to warm foods within a moderate temperature range (up to a maximum of 116°F) that retain nutrients and enzymes. You can use the dehydrator to prepare a variety of foods including:
Dried fruit and trail mix
Seasoned or spicy nuts
Crackers, chips, and energy bars
Cookies and pie crust
Tortillas and chapattis
Essene sprouted-grain breads
Broth, soups, stews, and chili
Grow Organic Sprouts
Sprouts are considered a true superfood — they may be the single most nutritious food on the planet and one of the least expensive. They typically have about ten to thirty times more nutrients than the best organic vegetables. Most sprouts are also 35 to 50 percent protein.
This amazing food plays a key role in the living foods diet because it's actually alive. Living foods are more nutritious and have more usable proteins, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. The seed contains all the nutrients needed to grow into a full plant.
You can grow them all year round inside in your own kitchen, and you'll save money at the grocery store because you will actually be growing some of your own organic produce. You can sprout almost any type of seed, grain, bean, or legume. Some popular sprouts include alfalfa, broccoli, clover, fenugreek, lentil, mung bean, mustard, quinoa, and sunflower. Sunflower sprouts are one of the few plant sources of vitamin D for vegans and vegetarians.
Grind Your Own Flour
You can make nut meal and seed flour fresh for all your recipes using a small electric coffee grinder or a spice mill. Having the ability to prepare nuts as you need them maximizes flavor and freshness, and minimizes the loss of nutrients. This fresh flour can be used in many creative ways to add protein, nutrients, and flavor to your food, including:
Toppings — Finely ground seeds can be sprinkled on salads or entrées, or added to smoothies. Seeds such as flax, sesame, sunflower, and hemp do very nicely.
Spreads — A delicious spread can be created by simply mixing nut flour with olive oil. This type of spread has the texture of a nut butter and is delicious on crackers or bread.
Dips — The key to a flavorful dip is starting with the right basic ingredient and seasonings, then pair it with great snack food. For example, to create a good pesto sauce, grind up green pumpkin seeds and mix them with a little olive oil, crushed garlic, and basil. This dip goes well with sliced zucchini, carrots, raw crackers, and chips.
Pie crust and torte — Nut flours can also be used in delicious creations such as a torte, which is a type of layer cake traditionally made in Europe with pecan, almond, walnut, or hazelnut flour (often layered with cream). Interesting variations include chocolate-macadamia torte, coconut-almond torte, and Oregon pistachio torte.
Make Nut Milks, Creams, and Cheeses
Rich, creamy foods can be made with healthy, high-fat vegetables, nuts, and seeds. You can create foods that are incredibly creamy and similar to butter or cream. Start with an avocado, young coconut, or some macadamia nuts, pine nuts, or cashews. Grind the food in a mini food processor, and then gradually add liquid (such as water, coconut water, or juice) to make it creamier, until it reaches the consistency you want.
Popular nut milks are made with almonds or sunflower seeds. First, grind the nuts in a mini food processor. Then add liquid to the mix and process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a nut milk bag and strain out the pulp. You can condense this into one step by using a powerful high-speed blender or a soy milk machine.