Raw Food and Spices

Excerpt from ‘7 Secrets to Living Raw Foods‘ [available from me (832-397-6296), rawveganbooks.com, or amazon.com]

“I can only speak for myself, and speaking for myself, I demand two criteria of my food.  First, I desire vibrant food that looks gorgeous on the plate, proving irresistible and tempting the palate.  Second, I expect food to smell great and taste wonderful.  Why settle for less, when you can get all of this?  And, the fast that it’s so nutritious and healthy just makes it all the much more attractive!

Spice can be one of the most fun parts of experiencing raw foods.  It helps elevate food from the mundane to the sublime.  In the culinary arts, flavorings are a good part of what makes up ‘gastronomy’.  According to Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary, gastronomy is the art or science of good eating.

Spices keep it fun and interesting.  Here is an opportunity to experiment and find new things that you like.  One fun thing you can do is play with food like we did at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute (added to original – where I studied gourmet raw food preparation, and became certified as an Associate Raw Chef and Instructor).  For one of our sessions, we were provided with toothpicks, and small cups of various items that fit into the six flavor groups: Sweet, Salty, Tart, Pungent, Bitter, and Fat.  We then created mixtures of these (for flavor balancing, you’ll want to include at least one item from each group) to see what we liked.  For example, one that I put together and liked was Agave, Dark miso, Pineapple, Onion powder, Kale, and Tahini; another was apple, Celery, Tamarind, Green Onion and Mustard (both pungents), Basil, and Coconut Oil.

And remember, your flavoring preferences might be different from someone else’s.  Also, please be aware that the young and the old are more sensitive to spice than many others.  When you have guests, keep this in mind when you prepare your foods.

Spices and herbs have played a key role in the historical development of civilization.  Spices today are widely available and are used mostly as flavorings.  However, up until the 1900s, they were highly prized products, used for medicine, perfume, incense, and flavoring.  Our love affair with spices continues.  Today we have the spices of the world at our fingertips and we use them to create the dishes of many cultures.  We also continue to be interested in their medicinal value.

The great and wonderful thing about spices for the raw food lifestyle is that you can take the same base recipe and create a very different taste experience with it, just by changing the spices.  A good example is a nut or seed pate that can be flavored to taste like an Italian dish, or a Japanese dish, or a dish from India, depending on the spices you use.  Chef Chad Sarno put together a great resource for working with spices and creating different ethnic based flavor combinations.

FYI – another good resource for using herbs with raw foods, is Brigitte Mars.  She’s a Master Herbalist and Raw Food Chef out of Colorado; she wrote Rawsome!, which is one of my favorite raw food books for newbies, as well as experienced raw food enthusiasts.  She uses her knowledge of herbs in her recipes, while also keeping them simple, which makes her book delightful.  She also includes an encyclopedia of herbs, vegetables and fruits at the front of the book, which is a great resource!  For more information on raw foods, please see my other posts here at http://www.askchefallie.com, and or post a question yourself.  I will be happy to help you in any manner that I can as you explore raw foods and journey forward to have the best, most VIBRANT life you can!