Yesterday, I found myself contemplating a pile of dinner veggies on the kitchen counter. The goal was to get the veggies into my family in a way that they might enjoy.
Lately when people ask me to explain raw food, I tend to say something like: Imagine a big bowl or basket of all the healthy veggies, greens, herbs, fruits, seeds and nuts that you know are good for you. Nothing processed or packaged is in that bowl. And then imagine eating it - the whole great big bowl of it. Now, imagine different ways of prepping it, everything from fancy and gourmet to quick and simple. Imagine sometimes using small amounts of selected enhancements, like spices, healthier sweeteners, fermented flavorings, minimally processed olive or coconut oils and other additives to help pop the flavors and make it taste a bit more like cooked food. But the mainstay of your diet is fresh, raw, unprocessed plant foods.
For me, that's basically raw food in a nutshell. And that's how I found myself staring at a pile of veggies on the counter, trying to figure out what to do with them.
I've been loading TONS of raw food recipes into my Pepperplate account, and going to Chef Areeya's wonderful raw food prep classes every month. I've started to internalize a few things, because I just put this raw chowder together without a recipe. Was it inspired by Chef Areeya's "Orleans-style Dirty (cauliflower) Rice," and her "New England style Chowder?" Probably. My family loved it. My husband suggested that it's a keeper, so I wrote it down.
This recipe is very quick. If you have a food processor, the veggies can be prepped in minutes, not counting dehydrator time. The cream base is quick, too. It's one of those rare instances when it took us longer to eat it than it took me to make it.
As always, if you don't like the additives used for flavor, (like the miso or Braggs,) you can probably get by without it or find a substitution that works better for you.
This recipe can be made without any of the recommended equipment such as the dehydrator. Your veggies just won't be wilted. Alternately, if you place the veggies in a glass casserole dish with a clear glass lid, and place it in direct sunlight for several hours, that will do the trick. The cream base can be made with a regular blender. It just might not be as creamy. It's also possible to prep all the veggies by hand with a box grater and a good knife, rather than using the food processor.
Raw Veggie Chowder
6 - 8 generous servings
1/2 head red cabbage
1 red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 head cauliflower
3 Roma tomatoes
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tbsp Bragg's liquid Aminos
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp miso paste
juice of 1/2 lime
1 cup hemp hearts
1/3 cup Brazil nuts
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups water, almost boiling
Equipment: Food processor, dehydrator, Vitamix, knife, cutting board, shallow casserole or baking dish, soup pot or tureen
Shred the carrots and cabbage. Use the S blend on the food processor to mince the cauliflower with the garlic until it reaches a rice-like texture. Mince the red pepper. Mix the veggies together and massage with a drizzle of olive oil and Braggs Liquid Aminos and 1 teaspoon of miso paste until wilted. It should be moist but not dripping wet. If the mixture seems too dry, the recommended amount of Bragg and olive oil can be increased slightly. Chop the tomatoes and fold in. Add thyme and marjoram to taste and stir.
Place veggies in a shallow casserole dish and spread out in an even layer. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for several hours, until just before serving. You can do this in in the morning and have dinner waiting when you get home in the evening.
Blend the hemp hearts and Brazil nuts with about a cup of water until smooth and creamy. Blend in the nutritional yeast and smoked paprika with another cup of water and another squirt of Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Taste and adjust.
Bring the remaining water almost to a boil. Remove the vegetables from the casserole dish and place in a large pot, serving bowl or soup tureen. Stir in the cream sauce, then add some almost-boiling water, stirring, until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust flavors. Garnish with fresh black pepper. The soup will be warmed-through, but not cooked.
Note: Many other veggies can be used for this. Zucchini, carrot and parsnip can be made into pasta. Corn can be added, and squash. For newcomers to raw food, the texture of the cauliflower might be accepted more easily if it is blended into the nut mixture.
Our morning routine is fairly simple. I prep some type of fruit, maybe pineapple, grapes, or apples and oranges, toss it in the Vita Mix, throw in some freshly washed greens, add a few cups of frozen berries and some bananas, and blend until creamy. No recipe is needed. But there's been a pumpkin taking up residence on the kitchen counter, and I've been trying to decide what to do with it.
In years past, when we made Jack O'lanterns at Halloween, after cutting the top off the pumpkin, the next step was to scoop out the seeds and strings, otherwise known as "pumpkin guts," and toss all that into the trash. Now of course we know better. Pumpkin seeds are very nutritious, rich in protein, healthy fat, vitamins and minerals.
The only thing important to know about this recipe is that when you are grinding up things like pumpkin seeds or dates, use just enough water to get the blender going and barely cover what you are blending. Start on "slow" and gradually increase the speed. This helps ensure that the ingredients are broken down as finely as possible. After it's finely ground, increase the liquid.
The flavor of this smoothie came out rather interesting. It was like a cross between apple and pumpkin pie with a bit of tangy orange. To pump up the pumpkin flavor, toss in a few chunks of raw pumpkin when puréeing the apple.
Pumpkin Guts Smoothie
4 Generous Servings
Seeds and strings from a fresh pumpkin
About 4 cups pure water
3 Macintosh apples
3 navel oranges
9 pitted dates or to taste
1 /12 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
Equipment: High speed blender, knife, nut milk bag
Pre-prep: If you want you can soak the dates 20 minutes to overnight in just enough water to cover. This is a good idea if your dates aren't very soft.
Scoop out the "pumpkin guts" and toss them in a Vitamix. I found that a coconut demeater also makes an excellent pumpkin scooper because it cuts the strings from the pumpkin flesh, and the curved blade fits the inside of a pumpkin. Add just enough water to the blender to cover the pumpkin seeds. Blend on low speed, gradually increasing speed as the seeds grind, until it's on full speed and the mixture is finely ground. Add another 2 cups or so of water as the machine runs, until you have a milk-like texture. Pour the "pumpkin milk" through a fine mesh milk bag, to eliminate the grit from the ground pumpkin shells. This step is optional but in my opinion makes a nicer smoothie.
Place the dates in the bottom of the blender and pour a bit of the milk over it, again just to cover. If you soaked the dates, use the soaking water. Blend until fine. Add the pumpkin pie spice.
Peel the oranges, break them into segments and add them to the blender. Chop the apples and add them to the blender. Start the blender on low to break down the apples and the orange, then purée.
Now add the rest of the pumpkin milk to the top of the blender. If there is room, you can add water or ice, depending on how thick you want the smoothie and how many people you are serving.
For tonight's dinner, we used the other half of the purple cabbage. Again, I had some veggies and needed to figure out what to do with them. This time, I decided to make a sort of a broth with noodles. To make this soup, some of the veggies are divided. Half are processed and used for mouth feel, and half are juiced to help make the broth. According to my husband, this one is another keeper.
Sweet Asian- Inspired Noodle Soup
1- 12 oz bag frozen white organic shoepeg corn, thawed
8 carrots, reserved
1/2 head of purple cabbage, reserved
1 large bunch celery, reserved
5 smallish or 3 medium zucchini, spiralized into noodles or cut into thin fettucine strips
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp honey, agave nectar, or sweetener of choice
optional: minced ginger, dried pepper flakes
Equipment: Food processor, Spiralizer or other spiral tool, juicer, dehydrator
Drain the corn and discard any liquid. Place the corn in a shallow casserole dish. Grate half the carrots and purple cabbage, and set the other half of the carrots and purple cabbage aside. Add the grated carrots and purple cabbage to the corn. Thinly slice half the celery, and set the other half aside. Add the sliced celery to the rest of the veggies in the casserole dish, drizzle with the olive oil and massage, mixing together and softening. Stir in the spiralized zucchini. At this point you may wish to stir in a bit of minced ginger and some dried red pepper flakes.
Juice the garlic with the reserved carrots, cabbage and celery. You may decide at this point to juice additional veggies for more broth. It might be nice to juice a small piece of ginger to add to it.
Add the tamari and sweetener of your choice to the juice and pour it over the veggies in the casserole dish.
Place the casserole dish in the dehydrator on low until warmed through and flavors are intensified, or about 6-8 hours. Just before serving, add some almost-boiling water until you like the ratio of veggies to broth, and stir. Taste and adjust.