I went raw years ago, and I did it with a great deal of enthusiasm and optimism. How hard could it be, eating food without cooking it? It seemed easy: make a bunch of salads, eat lots of apples and oranges, sprout a few nuts and beans. I thought it would be a piece of cake. But after three weeks, all I wanted was a piece of cake. And bread, and hot, hot soups. Slowly but surely, I returned to my old ways, and to my beloved stove.
I didn't know then what I know now: that there are simple ways to get around food cravings and other common obstacles to the raw-foods diet. Most people can safely -- and happily -- increase their consumption of raw foods. The problem is getting past some tricky food obstacles, like the salad rut (really, there's only so much you can do with a bowl of raw greens). The solution: get creative. Arm yourself with some good raw-foods cookbooks (I like Brigitte Mars' "Rawsome"!). Then seek out workshops and raw foods classes, and learn to replicate your favorite meals. Start with these:
Raw Hummus with Basil and Black Olives
(Serves 2 to 4)
1 cup soaked and sprouted garbanzo beans *
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup raw tahini
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 1/2 small lemon
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1. Combine beans, garlic, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth. Add olives and basil, and pulse to mix well.
2. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper, if desired. Serve with carrot and jicama sticks, strips of red bell pepper, and raw flax crackers for dipping.
*To sprout garbanzo beans, place in a large glass jar, cover with filtered water, and soak for 24 hours. Drain, rinse and return to jar. Place the jar on its side and let stand overnight. Rinse beans once more and refrigerate.
* * * * *
Raw Blueberries-and-Cream Pie
(Serves 10 to 12)
10 large, pitted dates (soak in water if very firm or dry)
1/2 cup almonds, soaked overnight and drained
3/4 cup walnuts, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup raisins (soak if dry; drain)
2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
4 cups blueberries
2 to 4 tablespoons raw, unfiltered honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Shredded coconut, whole mint leaves or edible flowers for garnish
1. Combine 3 dates and 1/2 cup warm water to cover in a small bowl and let stand for 30 minutes. Lightly coat a 9-inch glass pie dish with coconut oil.
2. While dates are soaking, combine remaining 7 dates, almonds, walnuts and raisins in a food processor. Process on high until nuts and fruit are chopped and mixture starts to form a sticky ball; scrape sides of food processor as needed. Press mixture into prepared pie dish to form a crust, crimping edges decoratively. Refrigerate while you're making the rest of the recipe.
3. Drain soaking dates and reserve soaking water. Combine dates in a food processor with cashews, 3 cups of the blueberries, 2 tablespoons of the honey and vanilla, and process until smooth and creamy; add reserved date soaking water as needed. Taste and add remaining honey if needed. Add remaining 1 cup berries and pulse until berries are chopped small but still visible. Spoon filling into crust, smooth top, and freeze for 1 hour.
4. Remove pie from freezer and garnish with whole berries, coconut, mint leaves and edible flowers as desired. Slice into thin wedges and serve.