Friday, May 31, 2013

Eating Raw for Lunch and Dinner

Raw Vegan Lunch and Dinner Recipes and Ideas So I mentioned in a previous post how green smoothies extensively benefited me. Among other things, most importantly, they paved the way for my ~70% raw vegan lifestyle by essentially resetting my taste buds and getting a handle on the all too well-known cravings we often give in to! In fact, this has been my lifestyle consistently since the 20-day detox in July '12. So what have I been eating for all these months? Certainly not just salads ;). Read on... Be sure to checkout the pictures, too, of my food that I've been clicking over the last several months.

Raw food is much more diverse than salads! Even when we do eat salads, we tend to overload them with highly-processed, preservative-laden dressings to make them "tasty." This essentially negates the benefits of the nutrition-dense, fresh, low-calorie, easy-on-the-body salad. So how about fresh, raw, vegan dressings instead? At the start of every week, I make several servings of one to two salad dressings that I then use during the week.

Here are a few very simple salad dressing recipes. None of them takes more than 10 minutes. All of them taste delicious; uncannily similar to their cooked counterparts!

Lemon-Avocado Dressing: 1 avocado, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp water, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, dash cayenne pepper, black pepper, pinch salt. Whisk together. Keeps for a couple of days. Makes one to two servings.

Olive Oil Vinaigrette: Whisk together 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp apple-cider vinegar, dash salt and pepper. Voila!

Raw Vegan Ranch: Quarter cup cashews (soaked for a couple of hours, ideally), 2 tbsp water, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp dried dill, salt to taste, a couple of dates if you want slight sweetness. 2 servings. Yummy.

Raw soups are great accompaniments to salads, a hearty snack by themselves, and even a complete meal when made consistent and creamy (hail the avocado). No, one does not have to go cold turkey on a raw lifestyle. Let your Vitamix run for an extra 60 seconds on high and you have a lukewarm soup. Let it run for 2 minutes, and you have a steaming one. Over-blending should be avoided, though, to keep the nutrition and desired texture intact.

Raw soups can also be heated on a stove. Heat them until you can still dip your finger in the soup - that's about 105F. Stir intermittently to heat uniformly and avoid burning/thickening of the contents at the bottom. Another option is to use a food dehydrator, if you have one (and space for it on your kitchen counter). I have not used one myself but pouring the soup in a metal bowl and warming in the dehydrator for ~20 minutes works wonders.

A yet another great thing about soups is that the same ingredients can be used with different spices to vary the flavor and experience the world cuisine! Top your soup with one of the several superfoods and you have a home run meal. Here are a couple of my favorite soup recipes:

Red Bell Pepper Soup: 1 red bell pepper, 1 tbsp miso, 1-2 tbsp lemon juice to taste, half to 1 avocado, salt to taste, dash cayenne / black pepper, 1 clove garlic, chipotle or curry powder or turmeric powder to taste. Blend them all.

Carrot Ginger Soup: 2 cups of carrots blended in 4 cups of water, mixture strained to remove fiber (this step is optional - carrots never blend homogeneously, so straining the fiber away gives the soup a smoother texture). Add 1/2 avocado, 1 tbsp miso, 1-2" ginger depending on taste, 1 tsp curry powder or another spice for desired ethnic flavor and blend again.

Raw vegan carrot ginger soup topped with dried parsley and hemp seeds

Yes, there's more. Ever imagined a fully raw burrito? How about a lush green wrap? Green leafy vegetables with large leaves, such as red-leaf lettuce and collard, are perfect for making wraps! Layer the leaf with sunflower or another seed pate or even simply mashed avocado, top with shredded carrots, beets, red / green cabbage, sliced bell pepper, jalapeno, grated ginger, sprouts, etc., and roll 'em up. Stick a toothpick to hold it together and the funky look will have your friends salivate!

Red lettuce wraps with veggies and marinated mushrooms
When the leaf has a rough texture and is rather tough, like collard, steaming it for 30-60 seconds makes it pliable and gives it a real tortilla-like texture. Missing meat? Marinate portabella / crimini / shiitake mushroom in a blend of toasted sesame oil, agave / maple syrup, and soy sauce and they taste exactly like meat. Add ginger / garlic / grapefruit juice to the blend to further enhance the taste of the 'meat'. Stuff them in the wrap!

Collard leaf wraps with more pate, veggies, and avocado on the side.

What about pasta? Well, that's possible too. Zucchini, when run through a spiralizer, tossed in dash salt and let sit for a few minutes, looks and tastes exactly like pasta. Make a raw marinara / alfredo / pesto sauce and you have your pasta for dinner.

Zucchini pasta with raw marinara
Another (r)awesome option for pasta is kelp noodles. A sea vegetable rich in iodine and very low in calories, Kelp offers luscious tangles that would satisfy anyone's noodle cravings! Rinse them through cold water 2 to 3 times, let them sit in warm water for 30 to 60 minutes and they are ready to go.

Kelp noodles tossed in raw marinara, served with raw vegan alfredo sauce and shredded carrots on the side

If you have some more time, sushi is possible too. Checkout this one I made some time back =). Agreed, my knife skills suck! But still...

Raw vegan sushi =)

But wait, many food items are still missing from this list! There are raw options to even breads, empanadas, quiche, falafel, fritters, and many other foods. Really. A food dehydrator works by 'drying' foods over several hours using hot air. Dehydrating is fundamentally different from baking in that it is done at a much lower temperature and uses circulating hot air instead of typical convection. It's the lower temperature - only up to 105F - that still keeps the dehydrated food 'alive' or 'living'. See an old post on why we should eat raw for more details on the lower temperature part.

As the name suggests, dehydration reduces the amount of water in the food, thereby, impeding the growth of food spoiling bacteria. Many ancient Asian cultures still make pickles by drying fruits and veggies, marinated in salt and spices, under the Sun. Same goes for many a snack items popular today, like potato and other chips, onion rings, fruit lather, etc. Then the 'fast' and pre-packaged food industry took over and began using chemicals instead of the Sun to achieve the same results but making us addicted, obese, and sick in the process =(.

I don't have any personal pics of dehydrated foods to share - yet - thanks to my small, crammed kitchen. But here is a picture of raw onion rings in the making from a demo at my local raw food meetup group. This tray is ready to be inserted in a dehydrator for about 8-10 hours of dehydration.

Raw onions cut in rings, tossed in sauce, spread on dehydrator tray

So this is how we're well stocked up for eating raw for lunch and dinner. I hope this blog post inspires you to consider this lifestyle with greater credibility and confidence. Stay tuned for much more on this blog. Thank you for reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment