Archive | March, 2009

SAF is a culinary haven

30 Mar
fine slices of beetroot stuffed with ricotta nut cheese

Delicious slivers of raw beetroot and ricotta nut cheese ravioli

According to the critics, SAF is THE raw food restaurant to go to in London. Well – to be fair – there are only three but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sensational and doesn’t give every mainstream restaurant in town a run for its money. It’s not raw food as you know it and if I can’t ‘turn’ you raw, their macadamia feta cheese will.

As soon as I walked in from hectic, rainy Old St and sat down, I noticed three distinct things:

1.  SAF, so named after the Turkish word for pure and authentic, is a totally chilled out sanctuary of culinary calm. I usually only breathe properly in a yoga class but here I breathed in and breathed out…sipped my biodynamic, organic vegan red wine and breathed in again;

2.  The menu is actually only 50% raw but what is raw is made up of 100% delectable and ingenious combinations of fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables; and

3.  For a Monday night, it was packed, and this, our smiley, knowledgeable waitress told me, was a slow night.

Kindly joining me on my raw adventure was my friend Vivian, who also generously agreed to share absolutely everything, hence the broad spectrum of dishes we powered through. We had raw beetroot ravioli, a pesto au poivre (raw nut cheese), raw vegetable maki, raw pad thai and a raw root vegetable tart, all followed by a raw chocolate granache tart with pear sorbet, spiced rum and pear compote. Yum, yum, yum. Every dish was delicious and filling, made even more rewarding because all those natural nutrients would be heading straight for my blood stream and I wouldn’t be stressing out my poor digestive system to get to them. I won’t spoil your own experience and critique every dish to death but here are the highlights:

For starters, the beetroot ravioli looked and tasted amazing. Extremely fine slices of raw beetroot were stuffed with a cashew nut ricotta and surrounded by carrot, pumpkin seed oil and the most incredible balsamic fig I have ever smacked my chops around.

The pesto au poivre course was a cheese feast deluxe. This was a tough one as I was (am) a cheese obsessive freak and had very high hopes. I purposely avoid making nut cheese as it goes against my fundamental philosophy that delicious raw food meals shouldn’t rely on crazy equipment, weird ingredients and lengthy time frames. However, I couldn’t wait to try it here. According to our waitress, the cheese with sage pesto and peppercorn crust, was made from fermented cashew nuts by one (or all) of the twelve chefs on staff. That’s amazing! Twelve raw food chefs!!

The raw pad thai was spicey but not too spicey, on courgette noodles that were more noodley than noodles and a chipotle almond sauce that was nothing like almonds or chipotle and everything like a traditional pad thai. Only raw.

With surgical precision only acquired by someone with lots of competitive, food loving siblings, Vivian divided the Granache tart in perfect halves. I tried to trick the waitress into telling us the ingredients but only gleaned cacao and coconut oil, which I had guessed anyway. Needless to say it was luscious, even if I was ‘forced’ to share it.

Whether y0u are herbivore or carnivore, I strongly recommend you go and try out the menu for yourself.  The menu apparently changes frequently so I will certainly go back very soon. I don’t want to miss out on the cucumber black peppercorn sorbet and I am determined to figure out the rest of the ingredients in my own full slice of granache!

Advertisements

Raw Winter Rainbow Salad

24 Mar

rich in colour, potassium, silicon, calcium, magnesium, silicon, vitamin A

rich in colour, potassium, calcium, magnesium, silicon, vitamin A, and sulphur

Eating organic, local and seasonal fruit and veggies is not a trifecta win set aside for the fortunate few on the countryside acres, those with super-sized roof tops or allotment lottery winners.

While supermarkets stock their daikon from Thailand and avocados from Cuba, right now, at my local markets in Portobello, with Winter dragging on, I’m still able to pick up some yummy seasonal, organic, English-grown root vegetables.  There’s a lot you can do with roots in terms of cooking but what about raw?  Well – I like to turn mine into a delicious rainbow winter salad.

 

 
The Ingredients
1 x beetroot
2 x carrot
½ a celeriac
2 x courgettes
Roughly chopped parsley

The dressing
Extra virgin olive oil
dash of lemon juice
splash of apple cider vinegar
 

How to make it
You can either shave the veggies or julienne them. Mix it all up, add the dressing and serve on a big white plate. It looks gorgeous.

 

How does Wikipedia define a raw foodist?

24 Mar

I always go to Wikipedia for a matter of fact opinion/view of the world.  And so I thought it would be interesting to read a matter of fact description of a raw foodist.  According to them (whoever ‘they’ are), raw foodism (or rawism) is a lifestyle promoting the consumption of un-cooked, un-processed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet. If 75-100% of a person’s total food consumption is raw food, he/she is considered a raw foodist or living foodist.

 

Raw foodists typically believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits. Raw foodism or a raw food diet is usually equated with raw veganism in which only raw plant foods are eaten, but other raw foodists emphasize raw meat and other raw animal products. Depending on the type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selectıon of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds (including sprouted whole grains such as gaba rice), eggs, fish (such as sashimi), meat (such as carpaccio), and non-pasteurized/non-homogenized dairy products (such as raw milk, raw cheese and raw yogurt). Raw foodists can be divided between those that advocate raw vegetarianism or raw veganism, those that advocate a raw omnivorous diet, and those that advocate a diet of only raw animal foods (carnivorous).

 

Even though I am a giant hypocrite and eat meat every now and then, I do advocate raw vegetarianism and in my ‘good’ moments, I think I really am a raw foodist. To see the rest of this matter of fact Wikipedia entry about being a raw foodist, click here.

Raw Porridge is the Ultimate Comfort Food

19 Mar

I used to love porridge the way my Mum makes it; boiled for a long time in warm, sugary, full cream milk and honey, with a blob of salty melting butter and dash of cinnamon on the top. As incredible as it is – it is a total no go in terms of maintaining a daily raw diet, or even a basic, fat managed diet for that matter, but that only spurred me on to find a raw version that comes close in flavour.

raw porridge is better than cooked porridge!!!

raw porridge is better than cooked porridge!!!

The first place to start when making the perfect raw porridge is to get the base flavour right. The base, of course, is the oats. I took my inspiration from the traditional Dr. Bircher-Benner’s muesli recipes and soaked my oats overnight in a variety of nutritious (non dairy) liquids. These included coconut juice, lemon juice and water, water, apple juice, apple and ginger juice, carrot juice and rice milk. 

In order of increasing sweetness, I recommend rice milk, coconut water or apple juice.

 
The ingredients (for two)
2 cups of raw gluten free (if possible) oats
1 handful raisins
1 tablespoon linseeds

Soak those ingredients in 1 cup of freshly juiced apple juice (I love Braeburns) overnight then add the following for your perfect comfort breakfast:

1 grated apple
4 x almonds (crushed)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon

How to make it
Mix up and eat up. The raisins are sweet and plump, the linseeds also juice it up while the nuts add texture.

Tip 1

Of course you can add your favourite seeds, nuts, dried fruits (soak them overnight too), fresh fruits and dessicated coconut. Mashed banana is also sensational and maple syrup with pecans or grated 100% cocao make for a decadent flavour.

Tip 2
And – if you like a semolina texture – blend it. It’s really yummy, but personally, I prefer it chunky.

Tip 3
If linseeds aren’t enough and you really need some extra roughage – add pysllium (stir it in the morning and eat it quickly).

This porridge is not the same buttery, hot, comfort porridge as Mum’s – it’s better.  Sorry Mum! It’s just as delicious and a million times more nutritious. Raw comfort food at its best.

Where is the Raw Food in Tignes?

17 Mar

Raw food is everywhere in the Savoyarde region of the French Alps, but your willpower will have to work its pants off to ignore the gooey, cheesey, dreamy, creamy, heaven-sent dauphinoises, fondues, raclettes and tartiflettes. 

You don't need this cheesey and potato dream! It's bad for you!

Dauphinoise tastes delicious but you're asking your body to digest cement.

Not to mention the tarte tatins the size of tractor tyres and the mountains of fresh pain au chocolats, eclairs and mille feuilles at the many patisseries dotted around town.  Anyway – enough drooling – it’s not impossible to go raw on the slopes. 

Self catering helps because you will at least have control of the menu.  There are several supermarkets, so prices for fresh fruit and vegetables are competitive, not exorbitant and the selection is broad.  However if you fancy popping out for some restaurant food, I found a fantastic Mexican spot in Val Claret in Tignes. 

 Daffy’s is probably more widely known for its margherita happy hour and free wi fi, but I think it also deserves a mention for its fantastic range of salads that can be easily tailored sans fromage and crème. I enjoyed the obviously named ‘Mexican salad’; a huge corn tortilla loaded with leafy lettuce, tomato and avocado, covered in a light olive oil and French herb dressing.

Is water raw?

15 Mar
There's 'raw' water and then there's 'raw' water

There's 'raw' water and then there's 'raw' water

Having yet another debate with my carnivorous friends about the point of a raw fruit and vegetable diet, I was asked what seemed to be a ridiculous question. Is water raw? My answer was immediately a resounding ‘yes’, however, rather annoyingly, my research could be interpreted to suggest otherwise.

 
Raw water is defined as the water that comes directly from a natural source such as a stream, river or well. This means it will certainly contain many impurities ranging from dissolved minerals and plain old dirt and leaves, to sewerage, bacteria and even dangerous chemicals such as leached insecticides and pesticides. Hence and thankfully so, raw water is treated to make it fit for our consumption. This treatment is extensive and consists of sedimentation, coagulation, filtration, disinfection, conditioning, softening, fluoridation, removal of tastes and odours, corrosion control, algae control, and aeration.

So – is water raw even though it has withstood every possible type of process?

Despite the small issue of the processes above, my answer stubbornly remains ‘yes’.  My conclusion is based on the fact that the fundamental molecular structure of the water is not altered even it has been ‘treated’. Whereas the result of processing or cooking, say a tomato or potato, alters the molecular state of the food irreversibly.

Our bodies will still benefit from consuming the hydrogen and oxygen that makes up that water, whether it has been boiled, frozen, softened or aerated. The answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes. For the purposes of enjoying a raw fruit and vegetable diet, in my opinion, water is ‘raw’.

From Nursing Times: Nutrition is essentially a very simple thing

9 Mar

Mark Radcliffe writes about kebabs, Viennese whirls and why nutrition is simply common sense. 

Now, I don’t have anything against nutritionists and I don’t mind omega-3 but, as healthcare professionals, shouldn’t we be cautious of intervening too much? Nutrition is fundamentally a simple thing, summed up wonderfully by the American writer and campaigner Michael Pollan: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ Like others, he is concerned about the industry we have constructed around the inventing, processing and marketing of foodstuffs.

 

All nurses know changing unhealthy habits is difficult, and that an ever-shifting evidence base makes for complex and contradictory messages. Food is better than foodstuffs. Plants are better than processed stuff. Meat and fish are probably fine if you don’t fill them with rubbish before you kill them. And eggs? Eggs are fine.

This is just common sense, isn’t it? And wasn’t that always the nurse’s best friend?

 

Read the full article here

Raw Food Long Long Road Trip Tips

3 Mar
dsc024512

A passenger view of French highways on Black Saturday

There are two totally different types of people on a long car trip and both require a very different menu of raw travelling delights. 

And from my recent experience, nothing fresh and raw whatsover is available from any of the highway pitstops dotted along the tarmac from London to the Alps.  So it is really, really, really worthwhile preparing ahead, particularly if you are dim enough to take that car trip through France on a February Black Saturday.


For drivers
You need lots of energy and obviously you need to be alert. 

 

1. Sugar up with lots of dried fruit, such as dates, apricots and prunes;
2. Also eat lots of fresh fruit, such as bananas and apples, cherries and grapes; and
3. Drink young coconut water and lots of H2O.  The extra water will force you to stop regularly so you can walk around, get your blood moving around your body and take in some fresh air. With the bonus electrolytes in the coconut water, your brain will also stay nice, fresh and hydrated to keep you thinking clearly.

 

For passengers
Unlike your driver, you need to stay as chilled out as possible.

 

1. Stay off sugars completely;
2. Swamp your system with magnesium and potassium to calm your nerves with vital salts. To do this, I suggest starting out with a tablespoon of Black Strap Molasses dissolved in a pint of warm water. A by-product of sugar cane production, and with more potassium than almost any other food, Black Strap Molasses is one of my absolute, all time favourite raw food superfoods. It is also a rich source of essential magnesium, iron and vitamin B;
3. Eat lots of avocado, carrots, nuts and celery to keep full. And make sure you share these with your focussed, hopefully wide-eyed driver.

Raw Food Dover Calais Ferry Trip

3 Mar
three out of your five a day

three out of five a day

I was pleasantly surprised that there was any raw food available in the ‘international food court’ on a P&O Ferry crossing the Channel at midnight. However the trio of a banana, a clementine/orange and an apple was the extent of it. And at £3.50 for the three, it’s no wonder that every average punter, was chowing down on a big greasy plate of hot chips for £1.50.

I differentiate the average punter because our P&O Ferry also offered the more discerning passenger the option to dine in an offshoot of Mayfair’s famous Langan’s Brasserie. Here I am certain there would be many more raw food options on request, from their talented chefs, at their lovely silvered and tableclothed tables, if it was open for the graveyard sitting.