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.
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.