Friday, March 1, 2013

Hot & Healthy Raw Food Demonstration

Raw food in the middle of winter??!!  Who would do something crazy like that??  Me, that's who!  And when it's done right, you won't miss the stove at all.  Plus, you can always cuddle up in front of a fire in the fireplace after dining on these delicious treats.

This past Friday I had the privilege of sharing some gourmet raw vegan recipes with a group of 18 gathered in the back room of Divine Treasures, a vegan chocolatier in Manchester, CT.  Owner, Diane Wagemann, generously offered to be the host for this event, and I think it was the perfect location.

We started the evening in the Mediterranean with a raw falafel done two ways:  fresh from the food processor as a pate, and dehydrated into the traditional looking yet healthier version of falafel balls.  The base of the falafel is pumpkin seeds, which are high in zinc and perfect for anyone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this time of year.

Both were enjoyed, but everyone agreed that the flavors intensified and the firm, slightly crisp, yet chewy texture of the dehydrated version were an unexpected delight.  It's nice getting that same falafel satisfaction without the harmful trans fats from deep frying!

These were served with a raw hummus pureed in my Vita-Mix to smooth perfection with cashews, zucchini, tahini and various seasonings.  Although regular hummus made with chickpeas is pretty healthy, everyone agreed that the raw interpretation was silky smooth and surprisingly decadent.  Cashews will do that!

Next we journeyed to Mexico for Raw Tacos with Walnut "Meat," Jicama "Rice," and Chipotle Cashew Aioli.  All of the nuts and seeds had been soaking the night before, so everything was drained and rinsed for the presentation.

I began with the walnut meat filling which is pulsed together in the food processor with sun-dried tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and seasonings.  You'd never imagine this much flavor can be contained in raw ingredients, but it's worth experimenting.

Next we moved on to the Jicama Rice, which is made by pulsing together chopped jicama and pine nuts in the food processor until it's the consistency of grains of rice.  Jicama is a root vegetable native to Mexico.  It's slightly sweet and not too starchy with the texture of a water chestnut.  The brownish skin is very fibrous and often coated with wax to help it keep longer.

The skin must be washed, peeled, and removed before eating.  Once it is cut away, the jicama can be diced into chunks, then put into the food processor where it is pulsed together with the soaked pine nuts.

After it is pulsed for a few seconds, this mixture needs to be placed in a nut bag so that the extra liquid can drain out.  I did a little squeezing to hurry the process along and what I was left with was a big bowl of whitish water that reminded me of rice milk.  Out of curiosity, I decided to taste it.  And I made a surprising discovery: WOW!  Jicama water is the sweetest, most refreshing drink EVER!!  Or, at least, after doing a 2-hour demo it was the perfect elixer.  I'm definitely going to experiment with this more often. Somebody should look into bottling it. :-)

We finished the demo with the Chipotle Aioli made with soaked cashews, dried chipotle, lemon, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt.  I topped it all off with a garnish of fresh red pepper diced finely for a little pop of color.  Beautiful and delicious!



Anonymous said...

Will you be having another raw food demonstration soon? I may be interested in attending. I've read that eating raw food is so much more beneficial than cooked and would love to learn more recipes.

Mary Lawrence said...

Thank you for your comment! I'm hoping to have another raw food class some time in the early spring/summer. Hopefully I'll see you there!