Yesterday I took one of Ree's classes at the Go Raw Cafe. It was such a treat! I had no idea what to expect. As always, Ree was charming and charismatic, which made the class even more fun.
We took our seats in the dining area. Ree was in the corner of the dining room, with her ingredients chopped and measured, and her equipment ready to go. The first course in our Mexicali Feast was "Happy To Be Hip Horchata". Made with cashews, fresh young coconut, cinnamon and ground vanilla beans, it had all the flavors one might expect from horchata yet felt substantial and healthy going down. It was like nectar, pleasantly sweet but without the blood sugar spike from processed sugar.
Next she showed us how to prep her Cooky Cucumber, Mango and Pineapple Pico de Gallo. As she made it, she talked about alternatives for those who want to make salsa but need to avoid tomatoes, (we don't, but it was interesting.)
The Bean-tastic Dip and Chips was tasty, but made completely raw without beans. With almonds, avocado and plenty of flavor, I wouldn't have believed it didn't contain pinto beans if I didn't see her make it myself.
Next was Empanada Goodness. One of the things that people think about going raw is that you might miss crispy baked and fried foods. This dish, made with raw tortillas prepared in a dehydrator, provided that satisfied feeling one gets from eating that type of food. In this case it was satisfying without the bloated feeling. The empanada dough was mostly made with almond flour, pureed veggies, flax and spices. The filling was more veggies, and she showed how massaging the veggies with olive oil makes them more digestible and gives them a "cooked" appearance, without heating them and destroying the valuable plant enzymes. As an alternative, she also gave us one with a lettuce wrap instead of the tortilla. I preferred the tortilla, but others said they liked the lettuce.
For dessert, we finished with lovely little Dulce de Leche Iced Pops. Again, it had the creaminess of a dairy ice cream, but completely raw and vegan, made with fresh coconut and cashews.
The class was fun and entertaining, the meal was filling. After Miss Ree demonstrated a course, a wait person would serve it to us from the kitchen. I showed up hungry, which was almost a mistake - I was dying for them to bring the first course!
At first as each course came out, the portions seemed small. But I realized that I've been conditioned to expect to eat big, hearty meals of largely empty calories, and as a result I am overweight. After the last course was served, Ree told us that in total, the meal contains all the protein a person needs in one meal, and I realized she was right. The meal, while a bit smaller than we are accustomed to eating in my family, was delectable and loaded with concentrated nutrition. I ate slowly, savoring each bite of pure nutrition and flavor. There were no fillers, nothing added that the body can't use, and by the end of the meal I felt satisfied without being stuffed. I was a little hungry again three hours later, but hungry feelings are not a big deal and are easily dealt with by eating a snack of crudites or fruit. Rather than hunger, the feeling to avoid at all costs is that feeling of being stuffed full rather than merely satisfied. Now for me, a meal is about the size of what was once a snack - except a little snack contains a lot of nutrition. Dinner last night was dehydrated eggplant dipped in spicy hummus. The hummus was not raw but it was so good!
The only thing I regret about taking this class is that I've missed all the previous ones. Ree has been presenting this monthly for more than a year. A nice woman at the class showed me her notes and recipes from all the previous classes. I'm looking forward to Ree's prep book which is coming out in the fall.
Today, I'm happily reading Rawsome! by Brigitte Mars. It's very informative and filled with ingredient and nutritional information, with plenty of recipes.
Yesterday's class was so inspiring that I attempted a raw vegan Mexican rice for tonight's dinner. It was made with cauliflower instead of rice, chopped extra fine in the food processor until it had a rice-like texture. To that we added chopped zucchini, onion and tomato, and finely minced Anaheim chili. Two avocados were pureed in the food processor with almond butter, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, cilantro, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, turmeric and salt. The whole thing was stirred together, and that was dinner. It was fresh, light, and lovely.