- A majority of students entering raw culinary programs have been eating a standard diet, and want to learn appetizing ways to prepare healthier foods for themselves and their family.
- Some others are vegans with a desire to learn professional techniques for a whole foods plant-based diet, aspiring to a career that makes the world a better place.
- A few are traditionally-trained and experienced chefs who want to expand their repertoire, and ride the growing trend of raw foods.
One common theme: committing to a full-time raw culinary class is a life-changing event, with most students considering leaving a traditional career path (how else are you able to take required 4-5 weeks off?) and learning about preparing raw food while immersing yourself in the diet (though some diverge to their usual diet while outside class).
The process of throwing away old eating habits and being away from normal surroundings is a bonding experience, and many students become the closest of friends before returning to their part of the country or around the globe, while others await signals for the next step in their journey.
What distinguishes raw food preparation is that the ingredients must be truly fresh–preferably naturally/organically grown and local–and prepared in small batches, so they are experienced at the peak of freshness. Fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, will frequently vary in taste and texture and require modification of seasoning and liquid content, etc.
Since raw food is not cooked down (a maximum temperature of 115 degrees may be used), the flavor, “mouth feel”, and appearance rely on appropriate cutting techniques. For example, spicy/pungent ingredients such as garlic or ginger need to be sliced paper-thin.
While I recommend professional culinary programs highly, if you are weighing the idea of a vegan diet or a raw vegan diet, you may prefer to start by trying recipes from books written by the respective chef / school owners:
Matthew Kenney’s latest is an ideal starting point.
Unlike Kenney’s earlier books–all recipes in Everyday Raw Express can be prepared in under 30 minutes. The book is divided into sections for elixirs (mixtures of fresh juices, herbs and seasonings such a ginger), smoothies, soups, starters, salads, wraps and rolls, pasta (most produced using a spiral slicer), entrees, condiments and dessert.
Everyday Raw Express contains a number of the recipes recently taught at his Academy, such as:
- Gaspacho, Basil Sorbet (p 36)
- Zucchini Sweet Corn Pesto, Mint (p100)
- Baby Zucchini and Avocado Tartar (p 52)
Still other recipes I am eager to try are:
- Cream of Miso, Shiitake, Sea Vegetables (p 40)
- Warm Kelp Soba, Sweet Dashi Broth (p 42)
- “Pho,” Spring Vegetables, Bean Sprouts (p 92)
- Lemon Bavarois, Raspberry Syrup (140)
Two additional books you may find useful are written by Cherie Soria, Director of Living Light. One is Angel Foods, which consists of both raw and cooked vegan recipes. Attesting to the growing popularity of raw vegan cuisine– Soria also recently completed a Raw Foods for Dummies book–to be released in December.
With these books, you can be certain that–just as you can make vegan versions of any traditional dish–you can also make raw versions of anything cooked! You’re also certain to discover totally new and unique recipes only possible with raw plant-based ingredients.
Besides their low cost, one good thing about learning with cookbooks is you’ll have more freedom to omit and substitute ingredients (such as agave syrup and oil) whereas in the classes you are expected to follow the recipes.
Almost everyone agrees that adding more nutritious raw foods make them feel better–I certainly do–so why not pick up one of these books and start experimenting today? If you have any questions, or experiences you’d to share, I greatly welcome your comments.
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