I have just returned from a great week working in Morocco where I met a fantastic chef who specializes in raw food called Hayley North. I am a bit of a relaxed nutritionist and not very interested in hard core food movements that restrict or only allow certain foods with a religious fervour. And raw foodies always seem a bit like that. Moreover I don’t believe that an entirely raw diet is particularly good for you from a nutrient absorption point of view, as well as being quite hard to digest for many people. Nevertheless I have always been interested in raw food cooking and would love to do a course.
And it was hard not to absolutely love Hayley’s raw food creations, created with such passion – soups, dips, energy snacks, juices, different porridges and even breads made from the pulp left from juices and the most beautiful, aesthetically pleasing salads just kept on emerging from the kitchen. Food can be warm too and the most popular blender, the VitaMix actually heats foods too using the energy from the blades and the motor to a temperature low enough to maintain the enzymes and nutrients in the food. Be warned, it is very expensive: I fell for the demo when I was buying hoover bags in John Lewis and I’m still paying it off! But it is fantastic and I use it all the time.
Sprouting plays a big role in raw food preparation. When a seed is sprouting it is extremely nutrient dense and of course it is actually the only food you will actually eat ‘alive’. You can buy sprouters but actually Hayley showed us a cheap easy way to do it. You can buy organic seeds here.
Rinse your seeds and soak in a bowl of water overnight in a dark cupboard In the morning drain and rinse again, put them in fresh water and back in the cupboard. Try to do this twice a day and they will be ready, sprouting shoots in 2-3 days. Rinse through and lay them on a drying up cloth to dry, then store them in a lidded box in the fridge. They will last a couple of days.
Sprouted sunflower seeds are lovely, and sprouted broccoli seeds are a fantastic source of compounds called glucosolinates which are believed to be protective against breast cancer.
Spinach can be massaged! This is particularly good for older tougher spinach. You cut it up into strips, bung it in a bowl, drizzle in some good olive oil and get massaging, squeezing the spinach gently between your fingers, for a good five minutes. It’s actually very therapeutic. You then add a squeeze of lemon juice and leave it to rest for about half an hour before eating. Its a raw food alternative to cooking and it tastes delicious. I mixed it with avocado and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.