Archive | May, 2009

Raw Food at The Hay Festival?

28 May
the epicentre of the second hand book world

the epicentre of the second hand book world

I’ve just spent the long weekend at The Hay Festival a ten day international book fest set in Hay-on-Wye in the Welsh Brecons. With some thirty major bookshops it has been famous as the world’s largest secondhand and antiquarian book centre since 1961. While there are some perfectly reasonable pubs and cafes around town, (I ate the best beef wellington of my life at the Old Black Lion), none of them serve raw food other than the lettuce leaves in the prawn cocktail I saw on a fellow diner’s table.

While the town is about nothing but books, the festival is really a series of lectures and discussion by and with recently published authors from a range of backgrounds covering a range of subjects. This year, amongst other published celebrities, economic and political commentators and literary greats I managed to see foody legends Jay Rayner and Heston Blumenthal but just missed out on Monty Don speaking about his new book Fork to Fork.  

But what do people eat at a literary festival?

fresh strawberries from a farm around the corner

fresh strawberries from a farm around the corner

Other than the delicious, organic and locally grown punnets of raspberries, blueberries, cherries and strawberries, I noticed that my bookish fellows queued around the block for sheep’s milk icecream, venison burgers, crisps, cider, pimms, ploughman’s cheese boards, and the fudge. I have to say it did look tasty and I was impressed that it was at least all local produce, but it was absolutely and utterly – not raw. 

So it seems the tastebuds of Hay Festival bookworms do not veer towards to raw food. 

The suprising news, even to me, is that I resisted all of it except for the Burnt Sugar fudge, which after a bag full, gave me such a sugar high that I didn’t get to sleep until 2am.  Thankfully, the next day I managed to find a fresh salad stall and stocked up on an onion and carrot salad, lettuce leaves and seasoned cucumber. Combined with my bag of apples, the berries as above, and my nakd bars, I was happy.

The festival was interesting, frustrating, thought-provoking, exciting, comforting and inspiring.  My brain feels stretched beyond recognition and besides my fudge feast and a brief encounter with a dried up piece of cod, I was for once, an under-control raw foodist…

Advertisements

Correction: Nakd bars aren’t completely naked

26 May

My friend and raw food guru, Rob from Funky Raw, has very kindly informed me that Nakd bars are not raw.  Firstly – I feel duped but secondly – I am so sorry to lead you astray. 

However it does highlight the point that perhaps there are some people jumping on the raw bandwagon without the pure raw credientials.  It is important that raw food is not only ‘not cooked’ but that ALL the ingredients are also absolutely raw.  Being ‘raw’ means that all those lovely nutrients are intact.  If something is cooked- we’re missing out. I can’t judge too harshly as I am a total hypocrite, but at least I’m honest about that…

I double checked the wording on the Nakd website and this is what they write:
‘nākd bars are a 100% natural wholefood bar – a delicious blend of unsweetened fruit, rolled oats, nuts and spices. Unlike most bars, nākd bars contain no artificial ingredients of any kind, no-added sugar and are made raw, never cooked. In fact, if they were any more natural, you’d have to peel ‘em.’

Reading that you could conclude that they are completely raw as I did.  Mmmm.  It also doesn’t change the fact they are delicious and are relatively very, very healthy. So – I recommend giving them a try but not if you are trying to be 100% raw.

You can read Rob’s full article and blog here.

It’s better to eat Nakd

25 May
My first Nakd all raw fruit bar

My first Nakd all raw fruit bar

Raw food is taking off beyond my kitchen and the proof is in the ever increasing range of raw products in my local Planet Organic. Last week I discovered Nakd bars, a raw fruit and nut bar company made right here in the UK, in Wales.

As you will have noticed, I love to travel but struggle to stay raw when I do it, so a raw food snack bar is absolutely brilliant for me. Especially if it also tastes great. These yummy nakd bars are packed with dates, oats, apples, peanuts, apple juice, walnuts and almonds and have no added artificial ingredients whatsoever. They also come in four flavours; Apple Pie, Cocoa Loco, Banana Bread, and Berry Cheeky. And there’s no wheat, sugar, soya, chemical syrups, or salt in any of them.

Nakd tells us there are these benefits to eating nakd:

1. Rich in phytonutrients from raw plant foods to promote  a healthy immune system and body function;
2. Natural source of essential vitamins and minerals like B-vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron to help provide energy, support a strong immune system, strengthen bones, and combat stress and ageing;
3. High fibre to help balance blood sugar levels, control  appetite and aid digestion; and
4. Plant-source protein to help maintain muscle, support metabolism, balance blood sugar, and control appetite.

My apple pie flavoured bar was totally satisfying and a handy snack on the six hour drive to the Welsh Brecons on Bank holiday and a much need brain booster to absorb Pulitzer prize winning Doris Kearns Goodwin’s discussion on The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln at The Hay Festival when we finally arrived.

You can order them direct from here.

Best ever raw mango salsa for summer

15 May
raw mango salsa is a raw summer suprema

raw mango salsa is a raw summer suprema

Here’s the recipe for the raw mango salsa I made for friends in Ghent last weekend.  We served it to the meat loving Belgians with fresh fish we barbecued in the garden. It was our first and best Summer day so far…

The ingredients:
4 ripe mangoes
1 large bunch of coriander (cilentro)
Juice of 1 lime
fistful of mint leaves
2 red peppers
2 red onions
2 red chillis – no seeds

How to make it:
Roughly dice the mango, chop the coriander and mint, finely chop the peppers and onion and juice the lime over the mix. And that’s it. Let it sit for an hour in the fridge to get nice and juicy.

from the Guardian: Day of the lentil burhgers: Ghent goes veggie to lose weight and save planet

15 May

Prior to spending the weekend in the beautiful Flemish town of Ghent, my understanding of a Belgian menu extended the short distance from moules and frites to chocolate. And so I traipsed to Belgium fully armed with raw fruit balls, raw spinach pesto, a pineapple(??), and ingredients for a raw mango salsa. It was a complete waste of time and bag-carrying energy.   

Ghent may not have a raw-specialist restaurant but it does have three times as many vegetarian restaurants per capita than London and has just declared that every restaurant will go vegetarian every Thursday from now on. Now that’s groundbreaking for us vegetable lovers!

In the meat loving, chocolate and cheese eating moules and frites capital of the world, is the world's first no-meat-thursday town

In the meat loving, chocolate and cheese eating moules and frites capital of the world, is the world's first no-meat-on-thursdays town

The Guardian picked up the story.  Here’s an extract:
The city council says it is the first town in Europe and probably the western world to try to make the entire place vegetarian for a day every week. Tom Balthazar, the Labour party councillor pushing the scheme, said: “There’s nothing compulsory. We just want to be a city that promotes sustainable and healthy living.”

Every restaurant in the city is to guarantee a vegetarian dish on the menu, with some going fully vegetarian every Thursday. From September, the city’s schools are to make a meat-free meal the “default” option every Thursday, although parents can insist on meat for their children. At least one hospital wants to join in.

A small, dreamy city of spires, bicycles, and canals, prospering since the Middle Ages, Ghent may be on to something. It appears to be tapping into a zeitgeist awareness of the cost to human health and the environment of intensive meat and dairy farming. Other towns in and the Netherlands are making inquiries; there has even been one from Canada.

Read the full article here.

Raw Travel Snacks: Raw Fruit Balls

11 May

Travelling raw can be tough and knowing the limitations of Eurostar, I made a few snacks to fill the five of us on our way to Belgium.  Thankfully these raw fruit balls satisfied all of us on the 2 hr journey, including my potentially toughest critic, 1yr old, 2-toothed Hunter.  Phew.

Fruity raw fruit balls are an ideal raw travel snack

Fruity raw fruit balls are an ideal raw travel snack

The ingredients
1 big grated carrot
2 grated apples
8 dried apricots
8 pitted medjool dates
½ cup of raw oats
½ cup of raw cacao
1 tbspn honey
Dessicated coconut

How to make it
Place all ingredients into a blender and blend.
You’ll see it gets a bit sticky but keep going and add date syrup or a dash of coconut water if you feel it really needs it. 
If it’s too mushy, add more oats but only a few.
Mould the mixture into 10p sized balls and roll in dessicated coconut.

Raw Food on Eurostar

11 May

Compared to carbon-greedy airlines, Eurostar has always struck me as a relatively progressive and eco-friendly brand. So when my friends and I booked our trip to Belgium I was sure they would have healthy food for both someone like me who can easily dabble in cooked food if they have to and someone much nicer who eats raw food 100% of the time.

Fruit salad on the Eurostar

Fruit salad on the Eurostar

If you travel Business Premier or Leisure select you have lots of options however you will need to give notice: 12 hours for vegetarian meals, 24 hours for children’s meals and 36 hours notice for kosher, halal, vegan, diabetic, low fat, low salt and gluten free meals. When I rang the dedicated phone number (01777 77 78 78) and asked about raw food meals this is what happened:

RFH*: Hi, Do you have a raw fruit and vegetable option?
E*: Yes, we offer vegetarian.
RFH: Is that cooked?
E: Yes.
RFH: I’d prefer a meal of fruit and vegetables that is uncooked. Do you offer that?
E: Yes. You can have the vegetarian meal uncooked.
RFH: Will that be raw fruit and vegetables?
E: I’ll check.
Time passes
E: Hello. We cannot do a raw fruit and vegetables option, but you can bring your own.
RH: Thank you.

I wonder what an uncooked vegetarian meal looked like in her mind – raw pasta and tomatoes?? No thanks. 

While no raw fruit and vegetable option is officially available on Eurostar, here is the link to the standard class menu, which offers the raw options ranging from a fruit salad, garden salad, various fruit pieces, to a dried fruit and nut mix.

Needless to say I took their advice and brought my own.

*’RFH’ is me, the raw food hypocrite, and ‘E’ is Eurostar call centre.

Enzymes are the Secret to Everlasting Gorgeousness

5 May

You won’t find the secret to looking and feeling young, gorgeous and happy, in a cult, ashram or monastry, by taking illegal (or legal) drugs, succombing to botox, ‘investing’ in Laboutin, Chanel or a Birkin, or by meditating in a Nepalese mountain cave for 12 years – you’ll find ‘it’ in the fruit and vege section of Sainsbury’s.  The secret is enzymes. If there is one single, fundamental reason to eat tonnes of raw fruit and vegetables 100% of the time – it is these little beauties. 

Live longer, happier and even more beautiful with raw food enzymes

Live longer, happier and look even more beautiful with raw food enzymes

Basically, enzymes are sensitive proteins that exist in every ‘living thing’ on Earth and these lovely life-enhancing molecules are very easily destroyed through the heat and the cooking process.  So, it’s a  no-brainer – forget plastic surgery and anti-depressants – just get on with it and eat raw.

I found this great and informative article about enzymes on Raw Epicurean. Here’s a brief extract:

‘Enzyme rich foods such as raw vegetables and fruits offer the easiest means of digestion; and consequently, the more easy to digest the foods, the less energy your digestive system uses and the longer it maintains the life of your digestion. Since most all of chronic conditions and illnesses common in today’s world, stem from digestive issues, the less digestion used, the better.’

You can keep reading a more indepth and more scientific analysis of why they’re so important in our diets on Raw Epicurean here.

Conscious Bars are a Raw Chocolate Treat Deluxe Supreme

1 May
Conscious chocolate bars wrapped in conscious recycled paper

Incredibly amazingly superlatively delicious Conscious Chocolate bars

Okay – I know I said I would stop writing about raw chocolate but I can’t help it. I’ve just had a bar of Conscious Chocolate called Love Potion Number 9. It’s amazing. It’s so amazing it’s beyond amazing and I’ll say that it could even be beyond ‘beyond amazing’. Actually, I’m holding back, it is so good it is nothing short of a culinary epiphany. Sorry –I know I might be going a little bit over the top about this chocolate bar (as I was over the others) but really and truely this is the best. I promise. And yes Vivian, you were right!

The raw ingredients in the few tiny crumbs of chocolate left on my lap are cacao butter, cacao powder, agave nectar, carob, coconut butter, spices, Himalayan salt, maca and essential oil of Otto rose. It’s also sugar free (even good for diabetics), pesticide free, gluten free, raw, vegan, handmade and wrapped in lovely recycled paper.

Based in Kent, Conscious Chocolate was founded in 2006 by vegan chef, Iyengar yoga teacher and chocolatier Emma Jackman for small scale distribution of their 40g chocolate bars only. Only a couple of years later Emma’s stunningly clever and delicious choccie bars are now, unsurprisingly, stocked in more than 50 outlets across the UK, including my local Planet Organic and Wholefoods. And best of all there are several delicious varieties:

Sunny Easter Feast
Yummy Mummy
Berry Christmas
Fruit Fantasy
Chocha Mocha Magic
Nicely Nutty
Best Ever Plain Chocolate
Best Ever Fiery Hazelnut
Best Ever Spiced Up
Fruity Goji and Coconut Delight
Love Potion No. 9
Love Your Heart Superfood
Best Ever Hint of Mint
Best Ever Citrus Zest
Best Ever Chilli Hot
Best Ever Essential Orange.

a truely life enhancing chunk of raw cacao

a truely life enhancing chunk of raw cacao

I don’t think I need to preach the benefits of raw cacao to you once again but in case you forgot or missed my post about it – it’s basically an aphrodisiac, serotonin booster, appetite suppressant, a cannibanoid without any side effects, and it’s rich in anti-oxidants, magnesium, zinc, calcium, phosphorus and sulphur (the beauty mineral).

I’m officially addicted and have the long list above to get through.

You can buy it right here.