My kitchen counter abundant with fresh ingredients.
Today marks not only my first blog posting at Metro News Canada, but also Day 11 of my ‘100 Day Raw Food Challenge’. When I first made my decision this past May, the prospect of a summer diet consisting of fresh, healthy uncooked food seemed appealing, exciting and downright daunting. Although I completed a professional culinary program last year, would I actually be able to apply some of what I’d learned about ‘cooking’ to creating raw dishes? Well, so far so good. I’ve clearly not starved yet. The food that I’ve been consuming during these last 10 days has been a pleasure to prepare and to eat. Well, for the most part, anyway. Monday’s effort at ‘Cream of Cauliflower Soup’ was just plain wrong. So was putting raw eggplant into veggie meatballs. Both experiments were bitter like aspirin. Lessons learned. Going into this challenge, I really had no idea if my new food options would be enough to sustain either my physical body or my demanding palette. Nor was I sure that it could fit into my current lifestyle. Granted, the first week was a flurry of kitchen activity and the learning curve enormous. I am no longer ‘cooking’ at all. Like learning anything new and wishing to excel at it, starting out demands a great deal of focus, determination and commitment. I am already starting to feel a rhythm with it all…..sprouting, soaking, marinating and dehydrating all require planning ahead and keeping an eye on both the clock and the calendar. Making hummus is no longer a ten minute operation. The garbanzo beans must be sprouted first, and this is a 4 day process. Flax seed crackers require a minimum of 4 hours in the dehydrator. Oatmeal for breakfast means soaking steel cut outs 8 hours before I rise and shine. Whirling up a litre of nut milk also means begin soaking the almonds 8 hours ahead of time.
And thank God for counter space! I am blessed with a sizable horizontal surface to really spread out on and to craft my concoctions. I suspect that, unless one is uber organized, trying to operate within the confines of a small apartment kitchen would quickly become cramped and cluttered. I am also so very fortunate to have a backyard space that has been transformed into a sizeable kitchen garden, just this past Spring. It was a heap of work to get up and growing, but now only requires a daily watering and the occasional tugging of pesky weeds. It’s time to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of my labour, to pick produce fresh and incorporate it into the raw meals that I am enjoying…. kale, spinach, assorted lettuces, arugula, radishes, Swiss chard and parsley so far. Still to come are beans, peas, zucchini, fennel, onions, leeks, tomatoes, eggplant, beets, and nasturtiums.
It took me a few tries to get this one right, but I think I finally perfected it. As far as I’m concerned, it would be completely uncivilized to participate in a raw food challenge without planning and preparing some strategically placed culinary treats. An after lunch sweet really hits the spot these days, even more so than when eating my regular diet. Having these ‘Rum’ Ball’s’ on hand really rounds out a meal, while also pleasing the palate. Though there is actually no rum in this recipe, I call them ‘Rum Balls’ anyway, as they do have a slight ‘rummish’ flavour to them, though I have absolutely no idea why.
3/4 c almonds, soaked for 8 hours, then rinsed and drained
3 medjool dates
1/4 c cacao powder
½ t vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 ½ T coconut oil, warmed so that it is liquid
¼ c ground coconut
1 t fresh orange zest- optional
Grind nuts in food pro. Add remaining ingredients except for the coconut and whirl until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Form mixture into 1” balls. Roll in ground coconut. Store in the fridge in a tightly sealed container.