That’s uncooked food to you and me…
A sunny Saturday at the end of September I found myself wandering the streets of South Kensington, cup of steaming black coffee in hand searching for the Gourmet Raw Food School. I was there to spend the day learning about the benefits of eating raw food, along with some raw recipes, some raw tasters and more importantly some inspiration for my blog. The fact that I had a steaming coffee in my hand worried me slightly – would this be frowned upon?
I’ve had an interest in raw food for some time. I have never wanted to move to a raw lifestyle since I am doing well on the paleo ideals that I have been following for the last two years. However, since studying a short course in nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine and learning (amongst other things) the importance of retaining the diverse nutrients in the food we eat, I was keen to learn a little more about raw food in general, as well as getting some more tips for desserts!
The course was run by Holly Paige and Andrew Davis (who runs the food snack company www.gourmetraw.com). They put everyone at ease on arrival, and began the day serving us up a tangy and nutritionally dense super green juice – containing celery, kale, onion, lemon, ginger, apple and hemp seeds. If only I had the time and equipment to enable me to start everyday with such a boost of vits and minerals! Whilst we drank our juices Holly and Andrew explained their journeys to a raw lifestyle, the benefits of a raw lifestyle and a half way house of incorporating more raw food into our daily lives. I was delighted to discover that currently Holly was happy drinking coffee as part of her diet and as a result I felt less guilty about the piping hot black Americano coffee I had drunk on the way…
The rest of the day was a feast of information, recipes and food. I found the raw food that we tried so amazingly rich in flavour, and dense in texture, that volume-wise you really needed to eat a lot less!
We started with a chocolate pudding you can eat for breakfast (hemp milk, orange zest, dried figs, apricots, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, bananas, coconut butter, salt, maca, cacao powder, vanilla powder, topped with strawberries), followed by kale chips prepared in dehydrator (I’ve been cooking kale chips for a while now, in the oven), raw buckwheat bread (the dehydrator again) and Thai Soup (yes a soup!). The soup consisted of vegetables, cashews for creamy texture, and a little warm, not boiling water. The soup was made in a whizzy Vitamix blender, a machine so powerful it obliterates anything in its path into a fine creamy smoothy liquid. Warm soup without boiling the life out of vegetables? – I’ve got to get me one of those machines! Unfortunately a Vitamix blender is hideously expensive, but then you’re saving on costs of an oven and gas hobs right?
It was then time for lunch. I was already a little full from the morning samples, but still enjoyed tucking into raw pizza, fresh green salad dressed in a wonderful tahini-orange dressing, and a dollop of raw sauerkraut. Orange and tahini together – what an excellent idea. As a crazed tahini fan I will most definitely be trying this out.
Whilst we munched on a raw chocolate cake and some raw chocolates for pud (naturally, the bit I had been waiting for), we learned further about the art of culturing vegetables, and also kefir. Both of which are full of pre/pro-biotic goodness and coincidentally things I have been reading about recently (I recently featured a Kefir Ice-Cream recipe). Holly even rather generously gave me some kefir starter to take-away and experiment with.
To finish Holly made us a wonderful tea elixir – tea blended with creamed coconut and potent exotic superfoods such as maca and shilajit. It was as cosy and comforting as a luscious hot chocolate – with none of the guilt. If I could have one of these every afternoon I would be a very happy girl.
We were also given a rough guide to sprouting seeds, general tips on succeeding with a raw lifestyle and kitting out a raw kitchen (yep I now officially have a dehydrator, Vitamix and juicer on my ever increasing kitchen wish list).
I really enjoyed the day, not simply because we were served such delicious food, but also because I love to learn and also had my eyes opened to another type of healthy lifestyle, which clearly Holly and Andrew are thriving on.
I’d love to say that there were a diverse mix of people there, but it was a bit female heavy (all 10 of us…)! Are there no men out there want to learn about raw food?? However, we were diverse in other ways – through a mix of nationalities and our reasons for attending. These ranged from; vague curiosity (me), those who’d been raw for some time and wanted some mutual support, and those who were on the cusp of incorporating raw foods into their everyday life. Though the one encouraging similarity we all had was a passion for a healthy lifestyle and it was fantastic to chat with the others and find out their journeys to today.
The venue wasn’t ideal for the course – we were stuck in the middle of a cafe (albeit a beautiful one in) in a health centre Lomax PT in South Kensington (I’d love to run somewhere like this one day), and I found the stream of gym go-ers and customers a little distracting (including one minor celebrity which for my embarrassment levels will remain nameless). I would however definitely recommend this course in terms of content. Holly and Andrew above all have a passion and generosity for what they share which is superbly backed up with nutritional knowledge, and stunningly tasty recipes.
So am I going to covert to be a raw foodie? Well no – because I don’t think it’s the right path for me, but I am definitely going to incorporate more raw foods into my diet from now on. Not just the raw chocolate I might add…
For all RAW recipes featured on Cucina Ceri click HERE
This article was featured in the Autumn 2012 edition of Funky Raw: A great read for Raw enthusiasts.