Welcome to Raw Fusion Foods
Learning everything there is to know about raw foods can be a daunting task, particularly for the uninitiated. Looking for information on what “Raw Food” is, what makes it special, and why people should try it?
Raw 101 Needs
What is Raw?
Congratulations. Odds are that if you’re reading this it’s because you’ve made a decision to live a healthier life, probably through some combination of exercise and eating right. You don’t need to be sick or looking to lose weight to get into raw foods. Even if you’re young and healthy, incorporating more raw foods into your life can improve your overall health, make you look younger, make your skin look healthier and give you an energy boost that will greatly improve your quality of life.
There are no foods more healthy and wholesome than uncooked, unprocessed raw fruits and vegetables. Raw presents these foods in the best way to enjoy their true flavors, and also in the form easiest for your body to digest. (That’s why you’ll often hear us referring to cooking foods at low temperatures in a dehydrator, so as not to destroy nutritional content and beneficial enzymes people need to digest their foods properly.) You will not find an oven or microwave in our kitchen, and as a result you will find all our ingredients at their nutritional best.
Raw food is a concept. Raw food is almost a “foreign” food to most Americans. While raw sushi and seaweed have long been common fare in Japan, and the raw movement has gained many followers in places as far away as Australia and British Columbia, when it comes to the United States few diners have had a chance to experience raw cuisine outside of cultural capitols like L.A. and New York.
Humans are the only species to cook their food. Animals eat a much more natural diet full of fresh, raw foods. When was the last time you saw a wild animal (farm animals shot up with hormones don’t count) that looked fat? The truth is that man started cooking and drying foods to preserve them and extend their shelf life. With modern transportation and refrigeration techniques, however, we no longer have to settle for the unhealthy and over-processed. We can now eat the way we were made to eat, naturally. Ultimately, raw is what we were always meant to be. The real question is, why isn’t everyone eating more raw?
Equipping Your Kitchen
When you begin your journey to a healthier raw food lifestyle, your kitchen too will evolve away from its traditional setup dominated by the oven and microwave. Besides all the various knives, choppers, peelers and graters you may acquire to process all those healthy fruits and veggies – we particularly recommend getting a good mandoline (think professional slicing results) and food spiralizer (think veggie pastas) – you’ll soon realize that 4 tools reign predominant: food processor, blender, dehydrator and juicer. (Well, of course your refrigerator will still be there too, keeping everything safe, fresh and crisp.)
Food Processor – The versatility of the food processor makes it a good starting point for equipping your raw kitchen. Think of a good food processor as chopping by hand, but 10 times faster. They also mix, grind, grate and blend – they are rather like having your own prep cook at your side. Some raw chefs use the food processor for blending duties perhaps better suited to a more powerful (but more expensive) blender, and so recommend it as a first purchase for your raw kitchen if you are on a budget.
Blender – Ah, the powerful, seemingly indestructible center of your raw kitchen. Blenders are used to make almost everything you’ll eat in a raw diet, notably smoothies, soups, dressings, and even to juice with (without losing the fiber). You might be surprised to learn that, just by blending our natural creamy soups, the blender will warm them up a few degrees. If you like smoothies (and who doesn’t?) a good high-power blender will become your daily go-to appliance.
Dehydrator – Think of your dehydrator as a low heat oven, sort of the opposite of nuking your food in a microwave. As a raw chef you will be using a dehydrator to make all sorts of foods, slowly and safely heating them without leeching out nutrients or damaging beneficial enzymes. The dehydrator also sees duty as a general food warmer – but never above 105°.
If you are new to eating raw, you’ll likely be using your dehydrator to make lots of bread, chip and cracker substitutes, familiar staples you can serve with many dishes that will help ease you into a healthier diet. If you are on the road a lot, or a camper that likes to travel light, a dehydrator can create storable, lightweight and easy-to-pack servings of healthy meals that can later be re-hydrated and eaten on site. Some gardeners like using their dehydrators to create their own herbs.
[Note: You may very well already own a blender or food processor, but dehydrators owners are a relatively small niche among chefs. If you don’t yet own a dehydrator and come across a recipe in this book that calls for one, don’t despair. You can simulate a dehydrator - provided that your kitchen is well ventilated! - by turning your oven to its lowest possible temperature setting and leaving the door partially open. Keep in mind that even at its lowest setting your oven may be dehydrating your food roughly twice as fast as a dehydrator would, so adjust cooking times accordingly. You will not get the same results as using a dehydrator - and your meal will not technically still be raw – but this may be the best available alternative.]
Juicer – This is more of a judgment call, depending on your own personal eating habits. Some people live to juice – or is that juice to live? – and will use their juicers daily for fruit and veggie drinks. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll be missing out on lots of healthy fiber by bypassing the blender. If you do juice often, remember to save your leftover pulps to use for other raw recipes.
There’s a world of fun and helpful information out there on the internet for raw foodists. Here is our compendium of recommended raw food links, featuring some of the best sites and provocative reads about all things raw. From big media coverage and celebrities, to finding your own local raw food community, we’ve got you covered.
Mainstream Media and Raw Foods – What the outsiders, the news sources and news makers have to say about the raw food movement.
Finding Your Raw Community Through Social Media Sites – The internet is a great place to start looking if you want to connect with your own raw food neighborhood.
Finding Nutritional Data for Raw Foods – Produce doesn’t come with nutrition labels, so here’s where to find what’s in that fruit or veggie you’re eating.
Raw for the Family
Kids and Raw Foods
In a fast food nation it’s always important to get your kids to eat healthy.
Kids Are What They Eat: Childhood Obesity Prevention
Raw Recipes for the Family
Now that you are eating healthier, you might want to share the wealth with the important people in your life – or die trying! Here are some ideas on getting both kids and adults to try a little raw in their diet, along with our biggest raw crowd-pleasers.
Raw Halloween Tricks and Treats: Jicama Tombstones
Raw Halloween Tricks and Treats: Fruit Eyes, Ears & Mouths
Raw Halloween Tricks and Treats: Chocolate Chia Spiderweb Pudding
What would you find in a well-stocked raw pantry? Here are our tips for buying fruits, vegetables, organics and seasonal foods, whether you are shopping at your local grocery, farmers market or online.
Numbers Game: Deciphering Produce Stickers
Are Organic Foods Worth It? Considering the Stanford Organic Study
Whole Foods Commits to GMO Labeling
Health, Nutrition & Fitness
Autism and Raw Foods: My Family’s Story
Eating Raw Beans: Soak and Sprout Your Way to a Protein-Rich Raw Diet
Raw Foods, Vegetarianism & Cancer
Nowadays you can’t turn on your favorite cooking show or look online for healthy eating tips without hearing about the latest “superfoods” and their amazing claims. Here’s what we’ve found.
What are they and what do they do?
Ask a Chef
Have a question for our chefs? Cooking – and life – goes best with a sense of wonder.
Looking for a substitute ingredient, help with raw recipes, or just want to know more about the benefits of eating raw? Send us a question and we'll send it to our chefs for an answer.