Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eating in the Raw

Bon appetit! That's what Julia Child always said at the end of her show, the French Chef, after teaching her audience how to cook meats, casseroles and sauces heavy in cream and butter. But as delicious as her food was, healthy it was not (unless you include the healthy French lifestyle of lots of walking and activity) which is why there is a focus on healthier eating through raw foods. Our LIFE class was thrilled to learn all about it from Elizabeth Harris, who joined us from her newly opened restaurant, Art of Pure Food.

So what is raw/pure food? Well, raw food is any food that is uncooked (or cooked under 114°F) unprocessed and organic (all natural soil, fertilizers and pesticides). Eating food raw gives you the active enzymes and nutrients that cooking and processing usually destroys. Living food consists of plant seeds that have sprouted, so their enzymes are at their most vital and active. Raw and living foods have more antioxidants, less fat, less cholesterol, fewer calories and helps you build and maintain a healthy digestive tract.

Although this seems like a recent trend, this diet has been practiced and preached for over one thousand years, and started to take off in the west as early as 1900, although it didn't reach mainstream culture until the 1980s here in America, with the publication of Leslie Kenton's book "Raw Energy-Eat Your Way to Radiant Health". Today, most grocery stores have organic produce and vegetarian/vegan sections of their stores to cater to this diet. And of course, there are restaurants sprouting up that have only raw foods on the menu. While scientists and nutritionists still debate the pros and cons of a full vegan diet, there is no doubt that a diet high in vegetables, grains and fruits is best.

Now you may be thinking, carrots and celery for the rest of my life, how exciting. But that is where restaurants like Art of Pure Food step in. You can eat many of your favorite dishes (including desserts, yeah!) following the raw food diet. And to prove that, Elizabeth taught us how to make chocolate truffles, which were delicious and nutritious, two words that I thought don't normally go together.

Chocolate Truffles
Prep time: 15 minutes - Servings: 24 truffles

  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds soaked overnight & drained

  • 1/4 cup raw organic cacao powder

  • 5 pitted dates soaked for 30 minutes

  • 1/4 cup organic raisins soaked 30 minutes

  • 1/2 cup raw shredded organic coconut
    • Instructions:

      Soak the almonds for approximately 8 hours and drain. Soak raisins and dates for 30 minutes, drain water and set aside. Place drained almonds and cacao powder in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add drained pitted dates and raisins to processor with almonds and cacao, process until everything is combined and mixture starts to pull away from the sides into a paste. Remove mixture and roll into small balls the size of a nickle. Roll the balls in the shredded coconut. Other suggestions: roll into cocoa powder or finely chopped nuts instead. Keep refrigerated.

      If you'd like to visit Art of Pure Food, please see the link the below. They also teach classes in raw cooking, accept groups and feature art of local artists on their walls. Bon appetit!

      Art of Pure Foods
      14520 Memorial Drive, Suite 16
      Houston, TX 77079

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