After successfully completing my 30-day plant-based experiment, the masochist inside me was whispering: “go Raw”. Sure, there’s nothing like a crunchy sugar snap, ripe avocado or a bowl full of arugula drizzled with olive oil balsamic. How hard could it be?
On the hard side, if you ask me.
I know I’d miss steamed Brussels sprouts, lightly blanched asparagus, roasted pumpkin — or in fact, any warm vegetable. So, imagine my delight when recent studies supported my gut instinct (or lack of guts, depending how you look at it): that there are health advantages to eating a combination of raw and cooked vegetables.
I was inspired to create a raw version of this after seeing something similar ‘cooked’ in a cafe one rainy afternoon. The mix of chocolate and orange is a classic and can really hit the spot when you’re looking to spoil yourself or your guests.
Trio Tomato with Burdock Salsa is a colorful, attractive, flavorful, filling and nutritious recipe which can be used as an entire, canepe or a mini meal. With different colors, complex flavors and attractive presentation, this is sure to tickle your taste buds.
This Cold Negi Soba Soup is a refreshingly delicious cold soup made with fresh raw vegetables and with a slight hint of ginger and garlic and all naturally nama shoyu. The shredded and julienned fresh, raw, crunchy, colorful vegetables are attractively presented on the Shiitake-kombu base.
Nori Rolls with Pecan Paté, Spicy Miso, and Fresh Veggies (raw)
If you make the pecan pate ahead of time, it’s easy to make these rolls when the urge arises. The pate will last a good week or so in the fridge. I wouldn’t recommend making the entire roll ahead of time, because the nori will get soggy. But if you’ve pre-made the pecan pate, all you have to do is cut up the veggies, smear the miso paste on the nori and roll.
Zucchini and Green Zebra Tomato Lasagna with basil-pistachio pesto, tomato sauce, and pignoli ricotta (raw)
We like the vibrant color and tart flavor of green zebra tomatoes, a heirloom variety, for this dish. Of course you can use any tomatoes, preferably heirloom. Use the best quality sun-dried tomatoes you can find (but not he kind packed in olive oil, as this is most often not cold-pressed). The brighter ones make for a redder sauce, which will add good, Italian-flag contrast to the dish.
The first real raw food dish that we ever prepared was a rougher version of this. It has since become the best-selling dish on our restaurant menu and is a perfect introduction for anyone trying raw foods for the first time. The flavors and textures are all familiar, and the vibrant nature of the dish always leaves a strong impression. Many variations on this are possible. Feel free to add marinated wild mushrooms or substitute summer squash for zucchini. As in so many other dishes, the quality, seasonality and freshness of the ingredients are the most important elements.”
I’ve eaten flax before and thought it tasted like the sawdust that covers the floor at the circus. But as it is a superfood, I’m determined to unearth all of its amazing health-giving properties and attempt to talk my palate into trying it again. Because, filled as it is with unique nutritious qualities, flaxseed certainly deserves its superstar status.
Flaxseeds are full of lignans — “up to 800 times the amount as in any tested plant food” — which is a promising cancer fighting agent (especially breast and colon cancer). Flax consumption can help reduce total cholesterol, including the bad kind and triglycerides. Which makes it good news for the heart as well. As flax is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, it can help diabetics reduce their blood sugar levels and ease the painful inflammation associated with arthritis.
In addition to athletes, this program is ideal for anyone who’s struggling to maintain muscle tissue. Those of you who’ve transitioned over to a raw or largely raw diet will benefit from performing these exercises. While I devised the program to help myself become a better endurance athlete, it’s what enabled me to maintain muscle mass throughout my shift to a mostly raw diet about four years ago. It works exceptionally well for creating mobility and fluidity of movement.
A few decades ago, endurance athletes were encouraged to avoid “gym training” for fear that they would develop heavy, bulky muscles. The reasoning was that extra mass without function would inhibit endurance performance. Which makes sense. However, the reason “gym training” was adamantly shunned by the endurance culture was primarily because it was lumped together with the body building culture. Of course, the main reason bodybuilders lift weights is to build bulk. They also weight train for symmetry and definition, but the vast majority of their time spent training is working to get bigger.
In the early eighties, some endurance athletes began supplementing their regular endurance training with weight training in the hopes of improving endurance. The results were mixed. While the athletes generally gained some strength, they also gained weight. Therefore, their strength-to-weight-ratio showed only very modest improvements and not enough to justify the energy expenditure in performing the extra workout. In other cases, strength-to weight-ratio dropped. Why? The problem was that these endurance athletes were doing body-building-style workouts that were designed to grow muscle size with little or no improvement in functional strength. Which resulted in a reduction in the endurance athlete’s most valued attribute: strength-to-weight ratio.
When it was realized that various training principals and techniques could be reworked to make bulk-less strength gains, gym workouts for endurance athletes were revisited.
Ani Phyo of SmartMonkey Foods has joined GreenChefs and is now a featured Chef. Ani will be doing shows and adding recipes and personal Vlogs about her daily life as a G Chef. Check out her delicious Portabella Mushroom Steak with Mushroom Gravy Recipe. The great thing about Ani’s recipes is that they are all so simple and easy with very basic ingredients that most people can find in their local stores. Ani also has a new recipe book coming out this spring called Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen, and you can buy her SmartMonkey Bars in select Whole Foods Stores and other health food stores or online.
Here are 3 Recipes from Ani that are quick and simple yet amazingly tasty:
Makes 4 servings
Tapenade is a rich olive spread popular in the Mediterranean. It’s quite easy to make at home. Measure out 1 cup of olives first. Then, pit them. Olives are easy to pit if you just push down onto a cutting board from above with your fingers. Plus the olive oil is great for your skin!
I’m happy to report that I’m getting close to reaching my goal of 30 days subsisting solely on plant-based foods. Truth be told, it was nearly over on day 16, when a platter of smoked salmon blinis almost got the better of me. It happened at a swanky work-related cocktail reception, where I foolishly turned up famished. I didn’t realize just how hungry I was until platter after platter of these exquisite morsels tempted my stomach and my resolve.
Blinis are pretty much the perfect food, as far as I’m concerned: light fluffy buckwheat pancakes topped with succulent smoked salmon, a dollop of creme fraiche and garnished with caviar. And these were as delicious as they looked. I know this because, like an ex-smoker trying to get a hit of secondhand smoke, I masochistically watched as my friend consumed several before demanding he that describe the experience to me in explicit detail.