Friday, January 18, 2008

Ani's Raw Food Kitchen

I've been wanting to try integrating more raw food into my diet, but it's a bit frustrating. It seems that to do raw food properly, you need to spend hundreds of dollars on dehydrators and high-speed blenders and juicers. I think that can really put people off. I now have two raw food cookbooks and both of them need a VitaMix or Blendtec for almost every single recipe in the book. That is disheartening. I think I am going to start saving up to buy one, but I can't really justify spending a few hundred dollars on an appliance just because I think that maybe I'll like eating raw. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I will like it. I tried to eat mostly raw during the last cleanse that I did and I felt fantastic.


The first book I bought was Ani's Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo. I already posted the Coconut Breakfast Cakes, which I really loved. I was trying to make things that didn't need crazy ingredients of expensive appliances. This book is interesting. I really wanted to make some of the recipes, and some just didn't sound so good. I was a bit put off by the massive amounts of pictures of the author throughout the book. There weren't many pictures of the actual food and I definitely think they could have replaced the vanity pictures with actual food pictures. The thing is - the pictures aren't even good ones. They're badly photographed and Ani Phyo looks like she's posing very precisely for every single one of them. It just sort of left a bad taste in my mouth. (no pun intended) I was also a bit annoyed that she feels the need to call things "mylk", "cheeze" and "kream". She explains at one point that this is to make sure that people know that there's not actual dairy in anything, but it just looks like chatspeak to me and that's something I really have a low tolerance for.

I think there is a major problem with some of the recipes, too. Quite a few of them call for almonds or cashews or some other nut. In the beginning of the book, there's a very quick reference that all of the nuts need to be soaked overnight and she's assuming you're going to do that before you make any of the recipes. The problem is that this information is hidden within a bunch of other stuff in the very wordy first section of the book. I don't necessarily think that everyone who buys a cookbook reads all of that. The recipes could have seriously benefited from the addition of the simple directions to soak the nuts as not to confuse people. She also doesn't really make a point that the blender you use should be a high-speed blender and not a regular household type. Yes, I know better, but what about the tons of other people that are going to buy this as their first time delving into the world of raw food who may not know?

The second thing I made from this book is something that I made in the early fall and just forgot to post. This almond yogurt really doesn't work with just a regular blender, which is all that I had. I mean, yeah, you can try it and it'll be okay, but it won't be smooth in any way. I had some cherries that I had frozen from the summer, so I added a generous handful of those to add a bit of flavor. Also, this recipe was in the "Soups and Sauces" section of the book, which I find weird.


Raw Cherry-Almond Yogurt Originally published in Ani's Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo

1 cup almonds
1 cup water, as needed
juice of 1/2 lemon, about 1 Tablespoon
1/2 cup fresh cherries (this is my addition, not in the original recipe)

Blend almonds and lemon juice on high to mix well in blender. Gradually add only as much water as needed to create a yogurt consistency. Add cherries and blend again until there aren't any large cherry chunks.

To serve, use immediately or ferment.

To ferment, pour yogurt into a glass bowl or jar and cover with hemp or cheesecloth to allow the transfer of air. Set your jar in a warm place and allow it to heat up to about 90° to 100° F. You can test the temperatureby sticking your finger in. It should be slightly warm to the touch. Let it sit for about 8 to 10 hours, then taste for tartness. You may need to leave it a couple more hours and taste again; repeat until it begins to taste tart.

You can also take the easy way by adding 1/2 teaspoon of probiotic powder into the blender with the yogurt. The heat from the blending helps the probiotic turn the cream into instant yogurt.

This will keep for three to four days in the fridge, and will continue to get more and more tart over time. You can use a couple tablespoons of overly tart yogurt in your next batch to help start the fermentation process.

Makes 4 servings.

Raw Cherry-Almond Yogurt with Buckwheat Crispies, Coconut and Strawberries

I also tried to make the Buckwheat Crispies, but you really need a dehydrator. Turning the oven on the lowest setting for hours just doesn't work. Mine came out really chewy and definitely not crispy and dried like I think they're supposed to be. This was my attempt to see if I could make some of the raw stuff without buying the expensive appliances. The answer is not really.


  1. I've been trying to eat more raw lately, and this is one of the books I stumbled upon on Amazon, however I chose not to buy it. The recipes don't sound interesting to me. I'm still searching for a good raw book that doesn't require dehydration or a Vitamix or anything fancy. I just want simple recipes.

    That yogurt looks delicious though!! =)

  2. I love the idea of raw foods, but I definitely couldn't commit to it as a lifestyle... I would miss baking far too much! I'm thinking about maybe trying a 60-70% raw diet in the summer though, when the need for hot foods isn't so great!

  3. I'm in the same boat as you; I'd love to make raw food, but don't have a VitaMix or dehydrator! I've found a few recipes online that don't require them, but overall it just seems to difficult to make raw at home.

  4. Good News!

    No, you don't need the high speed blender to enjoy raw food, or the dehydrator for that matter.

    The dehydrator adds variety, yes, but it's not something that is used for most of the food you'll prepare. Many things you'd make with a dehydrator, you can actually buy online or at stores like Whole Foods (ex: flax crackers).

    It's true, the high speed blender is nice and fast, but if you use a regular blender, you simply might have to do smaller batches of blending (this is typically only the case for making cheese and therefore grinding soaked nuts and seeds)...but for making smoothies, dessert puddings, soups...a high speed blender helps but not needed.

    You can use a food processor to make the cheese, too, if you're blender doesn't work well. OR, you can use the food processor to get it really going and then transfer it to the blender to finish the job. It'll just require a little extra washing on your part (washing two appliances instead of one, but hey, your health is worth it, eh?)

    Raw food is really quite simple. Apart from having nuts or seeds soak for some of the dishes (which you simply put out to soak the night before) you're basically throwing it all in a food processor or blender. Puree it and voila.

    Last but not least, a great way to start adding more Raw vegan to your diet is simply with Green Smoothies for breakfast and snacks. Super easy, any blender will do, truly delicious and so nutritious. Great way to get extra greens in your diet :)

    Check out my blog for some recipes that scattered throughout if you're interested. And, if you have questions, just pop me an email...I'm happy to help!

    Kristen's Raw

  5. I bought the book "Rawvolution" by Matt Amsden and I found it to be really good. Each recipe has symbols at the top letting you know which appliances you need, and many of them only require a blender or food processor. There's lots of soups that sound really appealing and some other things that I can't think of right now but also sounded very yummy.

  6. OMG, the vanity pictures!!! And the chatspeak!!! I totally know what you mean on this... I received this book as a gift for Christmas, and I was really excited because I, too, am aiming to include more raw foods in my diet. So far, I have only made a few smoothies (and even those were only loosely based on Ani's recipes), but I do think I'll try more. But I REALLY agree with you regarding the absence of food pictures (the BEST part of any cookbook, in my opinion) in favor of weird, posed vanity pictures. So obnoxious.

  7. I just had to tell you I totally agree with you about the Ani book! I saw it in the library and was like "Oooh! This looks good!" When I got home and started looking at it, I was completely turned off by all of the photos of her! I couldn't believe she thought it was okay to literally fill a book with photos of herself..a cookbook none the less! Blech!

  8. You know what you might look for? Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People. I got it from my library, and it's all recipes that you can make without a dehydrator. You do need a blender for some, but I think for most you don't necessarily need a high-powered fancy blender.

  9. I was a little turned off by all the oil you have to use in the soups! 1 cup of olive oil for a soup that feeds 4?! That seems like a ton.

  10. I have a great, quiet dehydrator that was only about $40. I'm vegan, but not raw, and didn't buy it to make raw recipes. I bought it to dry fruit (yummy fruit leather!), veggies, herbs, peppers, etc. All things that will save you money i the long run as a food-lover. So if you invest and decide you don't want to eat raw all the time, don't fear that it has become obsolete. :)

    I bought mine from

    Best wishes!

  11. Don't get too upset about the use of "mylk", "cheeze" and "kream". After all, it isn't actually "milk" "cheese" or "cream" and so should not use the same name. The authors that use these names are simply using words that let you know that they are similar to the "normally" named items but NOT the same so as not to confuse those among us who are, to be honest, mildly retarded. And there are many. If they used the normal spelling you would see "milk substitute" "cheese substitute" and cream substitute" every single time. That gets monotonous in a hurry.

  12. I just came across this post (thanks for posting, Almond Cherry raw yogurt sounds so good). I am in the process of taking my family from meat-and-potatoes to a vegan/raw diet. I had the same frustrations thinking I needed to have all this stuff to eat better. But I realized that there is no need to worry. Just trying to add as much raw into the diet is what's important. I did find that I would need a food processor so I found one on for $100.00 (including the shipping!!!) that was normally priced $400!!! It was an open box item (brand new, never used but box open) and it is white, which is apparently NOT a popular color. I am definitely not going to buy a dehydrator for a while. I figure if I keep the ingredients vegan and organic in my cooked foods and just try to incorporate as much raw food as I can you'll be fine. (although I did find a 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator on amazon for really cheap too - I was tempted...)

  13. Hi Amy! I'm not sure what country you're in but in Canada, you can get a dehydrator from London Drugs for about $100 which is a pretty good deal. It's a 4 tray model.

    Really, I think a food processor is helpful to have whether you're eating raw or not. There are so many more things you can cook with one. I can't imagine not being able to make hummus or pesto at home!

  14. When I didn't checked out the name of that recipe from this Raw food blog, I thought you used oats, but when I read the ingredients, it was almond. I love almonds but can I use oats instead?

  15. No, oats would make a sort of mush. You wouldn't get anything even sort of yogurty, unfortunately. You could always use oats instead of the buckwheat groats, though!