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HELP! There's a VEGAN Coming For Dinner!


Raw Food Rant One

Posted 4/8/2014

For the last five months, almost every meal I’ve prepared (including breakfasts) has been influenced by Japanese cooking. Heavy on the soy sauce, mirin, tofu, and rice; very light on the fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m finally into the “pulling it all together into book format” stage and desperate to munch down on some quick and easy veggie-based dishes. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of a raw food diet for a while, and this seemed like a good time to investigate it. I’ve previously been put off by the image I have of a kitchen full of dehydrators and power-tool-like equipment, so I was delighted when I found a book in Chapters which said on the back cover “No complicated equipment or techniques are required – just five ingredients and minimal know-how.” Woo hoo!!!!! This sounds like a good introductory book for raw food wannabes. I opened the book and read the introduction. It addressed the very questions I had been asking: “Doesn’t raw food take a long time to prepare, and isn’t it complicated to make, requiring a lot of special kitchen equipment?” to which the author replies “The answer to both is a resounding no. Raw food can be as simple to make as Lime Tomato and Avocado Chili.....and all can be prepared in 15 minutes or less.” Wow! I was impressed by these claims but still a little doubtful, so I read on. “In this book you won’t find recipes that require hours of soaking, sprouting or dehydrating.” (Fab!) “Anyone.....can make these recipes using standard kitchen equipment.” That was it. Sold. I bonded with the book, and held my head high as I walked down the aisle to publicly declare my intentions, witnessed by a cashier, to cherish this book ‘til death do us part.

Spoiler alert: For me, the most important parts of a relationship are trust, honesty, and integrity. The book seduced me with its come-hither looks and words of comfort and hope, then broke my heart in the harsh reality of day. I’m pausing here to sob on my keyboard, happy only that my tears are, to the best of my knowledge, raw.

raw1The day-after-the-night-before, I got up early and curled up on the sofa with the regulated quota of cats and a steaming hot cup of tea (I never thought to ask... Is drinking hot tea allowed on a raw food diet?) to become better acquainted with my new love. I recalled the promises made to me in the store: 5 ingredients, 15 minutes or less, standard kitchen equipment. I re-read the pages which had seduced me, then moved on to the explanation of “Five-Ingredient Recipes.” Why does that need an explanation? Surely the title says it all... but wait! Somebody is fiddling the numbers! “These recipes do not count salt or water as one of the ingredients.” Hmm. OK. I can live with that. I always have them handy anyway. “These recipes may rely on recipes from the “In The Pantry” chapter to create more complex dishes, in which case the recipe is tallied as a single ingredient.” Now maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like cheating. I turned to the “In The Pantry” chapter and took a look. Quick Thai Cream Sauce needs almond butter, water, lime juice, coconut oil, agave nectar and wheat-free tamari. That’s 6 ingredients. Oh, wait, water isn’t an ingredient, so that leaves 5. I can use it to make, for example, Carrot Pad Thai (an additional 5 ingredients, one of which is salt, so let’s call it 4), topped with lime (another ingredient) and Teriyaki Almonds (5 ingredients, none of which are salt or water.) That means, depending on how fancy I get, Carrot Pad Thai actually has between 11 and 14 ingredients, not 5. Now don’t get me wrong - I have, on occasion, played with numbers to get the results I wanted, but this concept of claiming that 6 - 1 + 5 - 1 + 5 = 5 is new to me. I felt my brow start to furrow, which is not a good thing at my age – the forehead wrinkles tend to stay for hours if I frown for too long. Maybe this was just an oddity in the book. I flipped through and found another recipe: Squash Burrito. 6 ingredients, minus the salt, leaving 5. One ingredient is sunflower seed hummus, which has 6 (make that 5) ingredients. Total: between 9 and 11, depending on how you do the math. Not all the recipes require the use of Pantry items, but there’s enough to make me worried.

Another cause for concern is the repeated appearance of words like “blender,” “food processor,” “mandolin,” “spiralizer” (WTF?) and “juicer.” I flipped through the book. With the exception of 4 (that’s FOUR) recipes, every single one of them needs one or more of these pieces of equipment. Red flags started waving in my imagination. It would appear that the author’s idea of “standard kitchen equipment” differs somewhat from mine. I have a wooden spoon, a grater, an old potato peeler (oops, no I don’t – it went to Toronto with one of my kids), two really good Japanese knives and a cheap 10-year-old blender. And, of course, a rice cooker, but I don’t think that’s going to be much help! I threw the cats off my lap and went equipment-hunting in my cupboards, thinking that somewhere I might have an old hand-blender with a mini food-processor attachment. After a bit of investigative work I found it. The processor bowl has a few hairline cracks in the bottom, and it’s about the size of a grapefruit, but it will have to do.

Later that day, the cats and I returned to the sofa with another cup of tea, armed with a notebook and pen. The mission: to find recipes I could tackle with my limited equipment and create a 1-week menu plan / shopping list. I vowed not to let the words “process at high speed” and “blend on high power” deter me from trying the recipes, and I would have to find some way to use my knives and potato peeler instead of a mandolin or spiralizer. One way or another, I was going to make this work. “Good luck with that,” said the cats as they shed hair all over the sofa, me, and the book.Sparta

Let the battle commence.

Karen :)

Footnote: I’ve set myself a few ground rules:
If I’m hungry, I’m going to eat. I’m not doing this to lose weight.
If I don’t have an ingredient, I’ll use a substitute.
I won’t set myself up to fail – if I can see that my blender isn’t up to the task I won’t use that particular recipe.
I’m not giving up my hot cups of tea. I’m doing this to try to introduce more raw food into my diet, not to make myself suffer!