Considering Raw Food Education? Try These Recipe Books First!

In my experience as a student of Matthew Kenney Academy and a “kitchen angel” at Living Light Institute, I found there are many reasons people pursue a raw culinary education:

  • 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.

This post is also available in: Japanese

6 thoughts on “Considering Raw Food Education? Try These Recipe Books First!

  1. Dawn

    Thank you for your article – can you express your
    Opinion on which school you recommend & why? I am planning on starting at Living Light in Feb however I was just told about Matthews school in Santa Monica. I would love to hear what you have to say regarding the 2 schools.
    Thank you ~

    Dawn

  2. william Post author

    Thank you for your question. As people often ask me, I am considering a separate post on the topic:)
    I think it really depends on your background and objectives. Do you want to teach others about a raw lifestyle, “cook” professionally (i.e. restaurant, juice bar, or yoga retreats?), or just for yourself and family? Are you doing it for health reasons or to create amazingly delicious, beautiful dishes?

  3. Dawn

    I have only experimented in my own kitchen, I definitely have a passion for the raw lifestyle & want to cook professionally – on a small, community scale. My intentions are to open a small cafe after working at a restaurant to gain experience. Yes for health reasons right – but I want people to fall in love, to experience, to know the possibilities in raw & vegan food, to show them it doesn’t need to be only for the granolas :). It seems as though these 2 schools are in principal the same but in reality could not be more different. I am from as small town in Hawaii, kinda granola so LL is appealing to me however it seems that perhaps MK school is more innovative, unique, fresher. What I don’t think I want is an intense, type A learning environment ~ ssooo what do you think?

  4. william Post author

    Hearing your goals, I think LL is the right choice, as it is somewhat closer to ideals of Living Foods (grow and use lots of sprouts) and has comprehensive offerings on nutrition, ethnic/spa cuisine, recipe development, over-the-top pastries, etc, and is geared more toward educators, too.

  5. Dawn

    Thank you for your opinion – is it that MK is more what??? for the higher end eater maybe, more pressure? I appreciate your time – I just want to make the best decision for me & you have been to both – amazing job I might add – so I would be interested in the difference btw the 2 :)

  6. william Post author

    Yes–MK is more gourmet–toward high-end restaurant–from day one. It depends a lot on the instructors, and I haven’t been to Santa Monica, either. I do like the way Living Light is ecologically minded, i.e. uses all parts of food (i.e. juices and/or composts everything). I’m happy to help if you have any other questions.

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