Before I get to the recipes themselves, I want to outline the Raw 50 staples, and the steps you can take so you’re ready to make raw meals. There is information on outfitting your raw kitchen and a raw staples shopping list. Certain raw skills are necessary, like sprouting and germinating seeds, and I go into them here. I also go through and describe commonly used raw ingredients like raw dairy products, water, kefir, salt, natural sweeteners, miso, flax seeds, fruits, oils, and raw preserves so you’re all set up and good to go. I also give my personal answer to the question Vegan or not?
Outfitting the Raw Kitchen
I remember my mother’s kitchen. There were pots and pans to cook in, lidded glass casserole dishes to use in the oven, and lots of Tupperware for leftovers. On the countertop was a toaster, right beside the blender.
Well, at least I still use a blender.
Over time, our kitchens become the place where all sorts of gizmos and gadgets accumulate. If you've been cooking for even a few years, look around your kitchen and you’re sure to find appliances and utensils you rarely use, tucked away in a cabinet or taking up space on a countertop. Now is your chance to replace them with something new, something you’ll actually use.
Doing away with cooking means doing away with many things: toasters, microwaves, even pots and pans. I use my stove to heat water for tea. I don’t really need my oven at all. You may have a well-outfitted kitchen for cooking, but there are a few things you probably don’t have that you’ll want to invest in if you’re going to be preparing your own raw food.
Here are the key pieces of equipment you’ll need:
There are blenders, and then there are blenders. I remember the flimsy one my mother used, and I have destroyed many of my own over the years. But since blending is a cornerstone of raw-food preparation, you can’t make a better investment than purchasing a nearly indestructible, top-notch blender. I have two favorites: the Vita-Mix or Jack LaLanne blender.
When I wrote Eating in the Raw
, I didn’t even own a juicer. My favorite drinks were the smoothies I made in my Vita-Mix and those I bought from the juice bars throughout New York City. At the time, I thought it was just easier to let someone else blend fruits and vegetables into sumptuous, savory, nutritious drinks. When I bought my juice at the juice bar, though, I had no choice but to drink it right away; juices start to oxidize as soon as they’re exposed to air. In as little as twenty minutes they can lose most of their nutrition. It’s a case of diminishing returns: the longer you wait to drink them, the less nutritious juices become. Having my own juicer would assure me of fresh, more nutritious juice right when I want it. But the juicers I had heard about and seen in use cost a small fortune!
Then I learned about Jack LaLanne Power Juicers. Now I’m hooked. This juicer does everything the $500 and $600 juicers do for less than $100, so this is an investment definitely worth making.
The dehydrator is to a raw foodist what the oven is to Betty Crocker. Yes, you can get by without one, but so many of the really incredible things you may want to make—from fresh fruit preserves to breads—call for a dehydrator. If you don’t want to shell out for the versatile top-of-the-line Excalibur, buy a cheaper one with a reliable thermostat to start. You’ll find reasonably priced dehydrators, as well as the Excalibur, on CarolAlt.com. Do look for some extra Teflex sheets too (in addition to the one that comes with your dehydrator). Teflex is a nonstick material used like wax paper, which keeps your dehydrating foods from dripping through the dehydrator shelves. A necessity when making preserves or cookies!
No, this isn’t so you can have fresh-ground coffee as you ponder The Raw 50
. A blender as powerful as the Vita-Mix is too big for many small chopping or grinding jobs. Whether you’re grinding nuts or a dry, raw cheese, the best and cheapest tool I know is an inexpensive electric coffee grinder.
Not everything raw has to be cold, but when you do warm food, you don’t want it to get too hot. This handy device will help you keep things warm but less than 115 degrees F so that the enzymes won’t be compromised.
I said it once and I’ll say it again: if there has ever been an appliance that is worth every cent, this is it! Spiral slicers (also called “spiralizers”) are sold for as little as $20. Why is this such a handy tool? It takes vegetables and cuts them into a spiral shape that is perfect for special treats like raw pasta!
You can easily get by without one, but a mandoline slicer makes cutting vegetables into very thin slices easier and a lot faster than doing it by hand. They are available at a wide variety of price points; see CarolAlt.com for several good options.
Vacuum Storage System (VacSy)
Unless you eat everything you make right away, this is an appliance you will definitely want to invest in. I couldn’t live without my VacSy. Its glass containers are unique. They not only store food, but also, with the help of their small, handheld vacuum pump, allow you to suck the air out, creating an oxygen-free environment that preserves your leftovers. You can get it through CarolAlt.com.
Other Odds and Ends
Most of the other accessories you’ll need for your raw kitchen are likely already there. If you don’t have canning jars and cheesecloth (or a stocking!) for germinating and sprouting, you should probably get some.
Your Raw Staples Shopping List
When I was growing up, you were sure to find milk, eggs, bread, sugar, flour, butter, and OJ in our kitchen as well as Tab, my mother’s favorite soft drink, boxes of sugary breakfast cereal, and Oreo cookies. Today my shopping list looks very different, fortunately.
You have to cover the basics. And the sooner you get used to shopping for raw staples, the easier sticking to a raw diet becomes. Keep in mind that fresh, living foods naturally perish more quickly than cooked, processed ones, so shop for produce often and conservatively to avoid spoilage.
Most important, always remember to read labels. You want raw products, not their cooked counterparts. Labeling can be vague or even deceptive, and unless you see the word “raw” or an equivalent —“unpasteurized,” or “cold-pressed,” for example—chances are it is not raw. And always get organic if you can.
You should be able to get everything on the following pages at a natural foods supermarket such as Wild Oats or Whole Foods. For certain items you may need to visit a good health-food store or check out an online resource or my website. If you’re vegan, you will skip some items on the list—honey, for example.
Raw Dairy Products
Have you ever wondered if small dairy farmers go down to the local supermarket to buy pasteurized milk? Guess what? They don’t. They get theirs fresh from the source.
There was a time when pasteurizing dairy products, a process that involves heating them to between 175 and 212 degrees F, made sense. A hundred years ago we didn’t have reliable refrigeration or affordable vacuum sealing to keep things from spoiling in transit. Those days are long past, but old habits die hard. Go into any supermarket and just about everything in the dairy section will have the word “pasteurized” on it—as if it’s something to boast about. Not to me it isn’t!
Those who make real dairy products take pride in the fact that their milk and cheeses still contain all the wonderful nutrients that God intended. Their enzymes are intact. They are real dairy and they are raw.
I love unpasteurized milk, but I don’t stop there in my search for raw dairy foods. Supermarkets with large cheese selections often offer some raw cheeses. The person behind the counter should know which cheeses are made from raw milk. At Whole Foods, for example, there is usually someone who knows enough about cheeses to ask you if you want soft, medium, or hard cheese, and if you have a preference for cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk. Better yet, they will let you taste what they have.
If you like Manchego or Emmentaler cheese, for example, ask for “raw- milk” Manchego or Emmentaler.
Each state regulates the sale of raw dairy products differently. In some places you are not allowed to buy raw milk, yet across the state line it is readily available. In Pennsylvania, where raw dairy is legally available, you can find fresh raw milk and cream at many farm stands and health-food stores and raw-milk cheeses in supermarkets. But there is a restriction on unpasteurized butter, which must be sold “for animal consumption” only. Of course, the same sanitation standards are followed in making butter as in making cheese so, since I’m an animal, I don’t hesitate to buy and consume fresh traditional, Mennonite-made butter.
For raw foodists everywhere who want raw dairy products, the Internet is a Godsend. These days, you can get just about anything shipped overnight, and the high-quality standards that producers of organic, raw dairy products adhere to make these products quite safe. Still, if you can buy locally, do! If you can’t, check on the Internet for sources of raw dairy products.
Two more things: You assume the responsibility for the shipment of the raw dairy, and if it gets lost en route and goes bad, it is all yours! The shelf life of raw dairy is relatively short, and the shipper doesn’t assume the responsibility for freshness; you are really buying at your own risk. When you receive your raw dairy, always keep it refrigerated and tightly sealed for freshness. In fact, because it is exposure to air that causes dairy to spoil, I recommend always using a VacSy (see page nnn) to store milk, cream, and cheese in the refrigerator.
Kefir means “feel good” in Turkish. With a name like that, it’s hard to resist learning more about kefir.
Kefir is a cousin to yogurt. It is an ancient, cultured, enzyme-rich food that helps to balance your inner ecosystem, build immunity, and restore health.
If that sounds more like a medicine than a food, let me assure you it’s as tasty as natural liquid yogurt. While offering your body the friendly probiotic bacteria you get from yogurt, it also provides several additional strains of the yeast your body needs. Yes, your body needs yeast to control and eliminate the destructive, pathogenic yeasts that are trying to make their home inside the mucus lining of your intestines. If you eat kefir regularly, the bacteria and yeasts combine symbiotically to replenish flora and boost your immune system.
Kefir can be made vegan style from young coconut, soy, or rice milk. Most people, however, use cow, sheep, or goat’s milk. Because of the fermentation process, those who are lactose-intolerant usually have no problem with kefir, even if it is made from dairy. But check with your doctor if this is a concern.
It’s possible to find ready-to-serve kefir in health-food stores, but homemade is really the best. It’s simple to make. All you need is a live culture-starter kit or a chunk of kefir culture, called a “bud,” which is really just a spoonful of already made kefir. (I got mine from a friend at a local Indian restaurant.) A bud remains living but dormant when frozen, so you can keep some in the freezer.
Stir at least 1 tablespoon of culture into 1 gallon of raw milk; then wrap the bowl in a towel and place it near a heat source that is no hotter then 110 degrees F. Wait 8 to 12 hours for fermentation to take place. Using a larger kefir bud speeds up the process, while a smaller bud takes longer.
There is no one way to make kefir, so long as the culture is kept alive. During the fermentation process, kefir will separate into soft clumps (curds) and thinner liquid (whey). If you want smooth, drinkable kefir, stop the process and consume it before it gets this far along, but if you want kefir “cheese,” just give it some extra time.
Once you start making kefir, it will become a regular part of your diet. I love to make kefir because I am absolutely sure of the quality, and I can have it whenever I want it!
In the wintertime, I wrap kefir in towels and place it on or near the oil furnace in my house to keep it warm (but not cooked!) and to allow the kefir bacteria and cultures to multiply. In the summer, I leave it in the sun for the whole day. Either way, I keep an eye on it. When it gets to my favorite consistency, I put it in the refrigerator to stop the multiplying process. I mix kefir with granola, agave, or fruits, just as I would yogurt, but in my book, kefir is healthier!
In 1926, Julius Freed decided to start a business in Southern California. The concept was simple: sell fresh orange juice from a spot by the road with lots of traffic passing by. Freed enlisted the backing of a friend who agreed that fresh California orange juice by the glass would sell, but who also knew Freed needed a marketing hook. If there was something special, something different, about Julius’s orange juice, it might bring people who couldn’t get it elsewhere to his stand. Julius added some powdered sugar and a secret ingredient, and the first Orange Julius franchise was born.
What was the secret ingredient? A raw egg.
In recent years, to address concerns about salmonella, the Orange Julius folks changed the formula, eliminating the raw egg. But fact has been overtaken by fear when it comes to salmonella. In 2002 the US Department of Agriculture officially acknowledged that only 1 in 30,000 chicken eggs contain salmonella, and these figures are usually for commercially mass-produced eggs, not the safer, healthier ones from free-range, organically fed chickens.
Eggs are an amazingly compact, inexpensive source of high-quality protein. They are also a significant source of vitamin A, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, choline, iron, calcium, phosphorous, and potassium. I understand that for raw vegans the issues surrounding eating eggs are serious ones, and many people feel very strongly that it is wrong to eat any animal products. But strictly on a nutritional basis, it’s hard to find a better food than raw fertilized organic eggs. You want fertilized eggs because after fertilization, the enzymes in the egg are released, helping to digest the concentrated yolk and releasing the nutrients (which would nourish the chick if the egg had developed into one). That is why fertilized eggs are easy to digest and nutritious. Several recipes in The Raw 50 include them; decide for yourself if you wish to indulge!
Sugar, and other sweeteners
I grew up eating lots of sugar. Back then, “pure cane sugar” was advertised as a healthy product, but many of us knew that the sugar in the sugar bowl made you fat, rotted your teeth, and made kids jumpy. There simply had to be substitute without those unwanted side effects.
Then along came saccharine, an artificial, sugar-free, calorie-free sweetener, as well as aspartame, Nutrasweet, and other artificial products designed to satisfy the human sweet tooth. Research has shown, however, that some of these substances are not only unnatural but also positively dangerous. So how can we please our sweet tooth in a more natural way?
When I started eating raw more than a decade ago, it was hard to find raw sweeteners. Of course, raw cane sugar was available in health-food stores. But “raw” cane sugar is neither truly raw nor nutritious. Fortunately, today there are several excellent raw sweeteners to choose from on the market.
Keep in mind that even organically grown, plant-based sweeteners are not really all that nutritious for your body. But if you wish to indulge occasionally, and who doesn’t, it’s worth choosing wisely.
Prized since antiquity and praised in the Bible, honey is nature’s original sweetener. Most people aren’t aware of how many varieties there are. If all you have known is the garden-variety, supermarket honey, you’re in for a surprise. The range of flavors, colors, and textures of raw honey are amazing. Some honey is liquid and some is semisolid. If a recipe doesn’t specify which type to use, the liquid type is always used. Whichever you choose, make sure the packaging says “raw.” My favorite is orange blossom honey, followed by clover honey.
If you are keeping to a vegan diet, you may not want to use honey, but honey has health benefits that many raw foodists want, especially the antiallergy properties that help those with hay fever, for example.
In the last few years raw, organic agave nectar has become the plant-based sweetener of choice for most raw foodists. Extracted from a Mexican cactus plant, agave is a high-nutrient liquid that, like honey, comes in dark and light varieties. Because it is a syrup, it is often used like liquid honey. I love raw agave nectar and can hardly remember what life was like before I started using it. It’s a staple in my kitchen.
Until agave nectar became readily available, most raw foodists used stevia for sweetening, and some still do. I just never developed a taste for it. One or two of The Raw 50 recipes call for stevia, also known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf.
It comes in both liquid and powdered forms. Because the powder is 250 to 300 times sweeter by volume than table sugar, it reminds a lot of people of artificial sweeteners, and some describe it as having a bitter aftertaste. I think the flavor is less like sugar and more like Sweet’N Low.
Stevia is popular in Japan, and has been widely used as a sweetener there for more than thirty years, with no known or reported harmful effects on humans. But animal tests done with stevia have suggested there may be negative health effects. Proponents of stevia say the problems are not with the whole herb itself, but with stevia extracts
and isolated compounds such as stevioside. That’s why, most raw foodists who use stevia argue, you should use only the truly natural varieties, which are green or brown, and avoid the white, which may be processed.
In 1991 the FDA said, “Toxicological information on stevia is inadequate to demonstrate its safety.” They allow stevia to be labeled and sold as a dietary supplement, but not as a food additive. Still, there are lingering, unanswered questions about stevia.
Dates are delicious, and you’ll find them in many recipes in this book. Date sugar is tasty as well, if you can find it, but almost all the date sugar you see is not raw. Like the cane sugar product Sugar in the Raw, which is less processed than white sugars but not raw at all, most date sugars are processed at high temperatures. If you can
find a truly raw, granular date sugar, try it. If you can’t find it, make it; that is the beauty of the dehydrator. You can substitute date sugar for regular sugar on a 1-to-1 ratio.
Until very recently, the Andean root plant yacon was virtually unknown in the US and Canada. Now it seems to hold the promise as the “healthy raw sweetener of the future.” Yacon’s flavor is often compared to that of a melon or sweet apple. It is usually sold raw as a liquid, much like agave nectar, but its simple sugar (fructose, or sucrose
and glucose) content is extremely low and supposedly indigestible, and therefore ideal for anyone who is diabetic or watching calories. It helps regulate intestinal flora and prevent constipation, improves calcium absorption, helps to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and seems to boost the immune system. I substitute yacon in some of the
recipes if I am “uncooking” for a friend who doesn’t eat sugar.
Yacon won’t make you fat, rot your teeth, or make the kids jumpy. Imagine a sweetener
that is good for you! We sure have come a long way from “pure cane sugar.”
Salt, salt, and more salt
Salt is salt, right? Wrong.
The word “salt” is a catchall term for the chemical compound sodium chloride. But not all salts are the same.
With all the bad press that excess salt has received, it’s easy to forget that we need salt. The body uses sodium for all sorts of things, from maintaining the electrolyte balance inside and outside cells to regulating sleep, from aiding digestion to fortifying the immune system. Salt is essential to good health.
The common white table salt that most of us grew up with certainly adds flavor to food and, apart from some specific additives (often iodine), it’s usually chemically fairly pure. To whiten and purify salt, however, it’s processed at very high temperatures. That’s right, table salt is cooked, whether you cook it again or not.
Since I started eating raw, I have mostly used evaporated Celtic sea salt, which is unprocessed and natural. It is not an unnaturally bright white color and it’s not pure sodium chloride either—which is a good thing. Gathered from pristine waters, Celtic sea salt includes naturally occurring essential minerals that are hard for your body to
get elsewhere. Celtic sea salt is only about 84 percent sodium chloride—salty enough to awaken your taste buds, but structurally complex enough to provide your body the trace elements it needs as well.
There are other natural salts, each with its own merits, but recently, I switched to what is to me the ultimate salt, Himalayan salt. If Celtic sea salt is good for you, Himalayan salt is the best on earth and the best for you.
Himalayan salt comes from the remote Himalayan Mountains, which cover parts of six countries in Asia. It is pristinely free of environmental pollutants and contains more than eighty minerals and trace elements. It’s the purest and yet the nutritionally most complex salt on earth. Once hard to get, it is now readily available. You may not
find it on the shelf of your local supermarket, but you can get it in many health-food stores and, of course, at Carolalt.com. However, before adding any salt to your diet, always consult your doctor.
What to do about water?
There is no life without water. Our bodies are made up mostly of water. So who would have thought that something so simple, so common, would be a complicated subject? Sadly, getting pure, healthy water into our bodies is not an easy task. In the early 1990s, the media started to draw a lot of attention to the fact that most common tap water was not only full of chemical additives but sometimes full of nasty bacteria too. Sales of bottled water took off. Madison Avenue got involved in making the water you drink a personal fashion statement. Now bottled waters are as
numerous on supermarket shelves as soft drinks.
Simply putting water in a bottle, though, doesn’t make it healthy. Water “bottled at the source” doesn’t mean it’s pure; it simply means it didn’t travel anywhere to get into the bottle. A recent study showed that the quality of bottled waters varies widely. There is little correlation between where the water comes from and how pure it is, and there is no correlation whatsoever between the cost of water and its purity.
Most bottled waters come in plastic bottles that leach toxins. So no matter how clean the water may have been at its source, by the time it gets from the plastic bottle into your body I feel it’s too polluted.
Distilled water is good but, again, not in the plastic bottles you find at the supermarket. Most water is best when it has been filtered and purified by reverse osmosis, then stored in clean glass bottles until you use it. You can purify tap water yourself right at home, but the system you’ll need in order to do it can be expensive, and if you don’t maintain it properly, the water it produces may be as bad as, or worse than the bottled water in the store. So it’s just another thing you have to pay attention to, something else to maintain, another responsibility in an already full life.
Do your best when it comes to buying (read labels) or making your own water by filtering or distilling it. Do what you can afford, because water is important. Sadly, what should be the simplest of concerns is actually a very complicated one.
P.S. I turned my water woes over to my friend Jim Artress of Custom Air and Water, who made me a system I could afford. Now that I don’t haul in bottled water, I save so much money that the system has paid for itself.
Raw foods not only provide the enzymes and essential nutrients your body needs but are also the best way to get fiber in your diet. But who cares about fiber? And what is fiber anyway?
Fiber is the indigestible part of the plant foods we eat that doesn’t get used by the body for energy. Instead, nature has enabled your body to use it as a way to get rid of built-up gunk in your digestive system.
There are two kinds of fiber, insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber passes through our intestines largely intact. It prevents and relieves constipation, moves bulk through the intestines, dislodges built-up toxic waste in the colon, and can help reduce hemorrhoids. It also helps to control and balance the pH in your intestinal tract, changing it from acidic (not good) to more alkaline. This is believed to help prevent colon cancer by keeping microbes from producing cancerous substances.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It prevents cholesterol from recirculating and being reabsorbed into your bloodstream and instead carries the cholesterol out of your body through the stool. It speeds up the passage of toxins out of your system through the bowel, which reduces the ability of these toxins to recirculate back to the liver. Even earlier in the process, fiber prolongs the emptying of your stomach so that any sugar you eat is released gradually and absorbed more slowly. As a result, fiber can reduce diabetes and total cholesterol, especially the bad LDL cholesterol. It also helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, diverticular diseases, and possibly certain
cancers, including colon cancer.
In simple language: the stuff you eat eventually ends up in your bloodstream and your intestines. You can have murky blood and a stopped-up colon, or you can have a clear, fresh bloodstream and a clean, healthy colon. Without much fiber you get the former; with it you get the latter.
Experts say not to worry about the ratio of soluble to insoluble fiber in your diet. In fact, those who eat a largely raw diet full of vegetables and fruits get plenty of both kinds of fiber. Excellent sources of fiber include nuts and seeds of all sorts, apples, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, carrots, cherries, coconut, dates, figs, grapefruit,
kiwi, oranges, pears, raspberries, spinach, strawberries, and raisins and other dried fruits. Virtually any vegetable, fruit, nut, or seed you eat, especially if it’s raw, will contribute to your fiber intake. When juicing, save the pulp—it is fiber; mix it in with other foods, so you don’t waste the pulp from your fresh-squeezed orange juice. Oats of any kind, and especially raw oats, are not only an excellent bottlebrush for your colon but also the ultimate, proven cholesterol buster.
Most Americans who eat processed and cooked foods and few raw fruits and vegetables get less than half the fiber their bodies need, and some get even less than that. By eating raw you can be certain that you’re getting what you need.
I had never heard of flax seeds before I started eating raw, and they may not be a fixture in your diet either—not yet. But as even a cursory look at The Raw 50 will show, they play a big part in the raw-food diet, and for good reason.
They are nutritious, tasty, and can be used in a variety of ways. Flax seeds
Are an excellent source of high-quality protein
Are rich in soluble fiber, clean the colon, and act as a very gentle, natural laxative
Contain vitamins B1, B2, C, E, and carotene. The seeds also contain iron, zinc,
and trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium
Contain up to 100 times more of the phytonutrient lignin than buckwheat, rye,
millet, oats, and soybeans. It appears that lignins flush excess estrogen out of
the body, thereby reducing the likelihood of developing estrogen-linked cancers,
such as breast cancer. Flax seeds also seem to reduce the incidence of
colon cancer. Besides their tumor-inhibiting properties, lignins also have antibacterial,
antifungal, and antiviral properties.
While most raw foodists, including me, eat the seeds whole after soaking them,
grinding them releases the fullness of their hidden nutritional treasures. Flax seed oil
contains essential omega-3 fatty acids (EFAs), which the body needs, especially if
you’re not getting them from fish. EFAs speed up the metabolism, and that means
you burn more calories. And everyone knows what that means: you lose weight!
Store flax-seed oil in dark containers to keep it from going rancid too quickly.
Flax seeds come in two colors, light yellow and dark reddish brown. The lighter
colored ones tend to be more delicate in flavor, while the darker varieties are nuttier
and stronger, but nutritionally they are similar.
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38 THE RAW 50
THE TRUTH ABOUT COCONUT OIL
Pity the poor coconut. About forty years ago coconut oil got a bad reputation after
some research claimed to link it to heart disease and high cholesterol levels. It turns
out to be a classic case of either mistaken identity or guilt by association.
Here are the facts I have found: What is not mentioned about this research is that
the study used hydrogenated coconut oil, not raw coconut oil! The process of hydrogenization
creates toxic trans-fatty acids, or TFAs (also known as “trans fats”). These
TFAs enter cell membranes in our bodies and block the use of essential fatty acids
(EFAs) our bodies need (that’s why they’re called “essential”). The result is high cholesterol
and heart disease.
Raw coconuts and raw coconut oil, however, contain no TFAs, none at all. In
other words, real coconut oil was never the guilty culprit. It’s the evil, twisted, chemically
altered cousin, hydrogenized coconut oil, that ruined coconut oil’s reputation for
generations to come.
The truth is that the benefits of coconut oil (also known as coconut butter) are
hard to exaggerate. It is cholesterol free. It contains the only fat that goes into the
liver to use as energy rather than into the bloodstream. Coconut oil accelerates the
metabolism, and may help people with ulcers, Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue, and
irritable bowel syndrome. It may accelerate the healing of wounds and helps to clear
up acne. And coconut oil contains caprylic acid and two other fatty acids that may
fight candida yeast infections.
And here’s a simple beauty tip: I alternate coconut oil with body lotions on my
skin. If the skin is the largest organ in the body and absorbs into the body things you
put on it, then I would rather absorb pure healthy coconut oil and chemical-free body
lotions, both of which I feel will put up a protective barrier, preventing my skin from
absorbing the pollution that lands on it from the air.
By the way, the dark brown, hard-shelled coconut you see in the store with the
dry coconut meat inside is just a Thai coconut that has had the husk removed, thus
allowing the shell to dry out and crack. These cracks let in air, which then causes the
coconut meat to go rancid from oxidation and become hard from drying out. That is
why you want Thai coconuts (also called “young coconuts”) that are still wrapped in
their white, barklike cocoon! This husk protects the shell and in turn the coconut milk
and meat inside, keeping them fresh until the coconut is opened. (See page 97 on
how to open coconuts.)
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THE RAW 50 STAPLES 39
HOW TO MAKE RAW FRUIT PRESERVES
There’s no need to cook fruit to make jam or jelly. Raw-fruit preserves are tastier than
their cooked cousins and easier to make. Here’s how:
Peel, seed, and slice your choice of fruit and put in the blender. Blend until it is
liquefied (about 3 minutes, the smoother the better). Pour the liquid onto dehydrator
trays lined with Teflex sheets and place in the dehydrator. Do not let the mixture rise
above the edge of the shelf. Dry the fruit purée until it becomes leathery. This takes
an average of 24 hours for drier fruits and 48 hours for juicier fruits.
Once the fruit has reached the desired texture, soak the fruit leather in purified
water for 1 hour. Drain and put the rehydrated fruit in
the bowl of a food processor. Blend the fruit into spreadable
preserves, slowly adding a very small amount of
water through the feed tube as needed.
Spread the preserve on your favorite raw, dehydrated
cracker or unbaked bread.
ONION AND GARLIC
Both onion and garlic are essential items in the raw pantry and both have many beneficial
properties. Onions have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and work
to combat cholesterol and cancer. They are sometimes used to treat blisters and
boils, and some products used in the treatment of scars contain onion extract.
Garlic was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during both World Wars; it
has antibacterial properties and is used in treatments for intestinal parasites. Garlic
helps with fungal infections, digestive disorders, cardiovascular problems, cholesterol,
and candidiasis (vaginal yeast infections are one indication of a candidiasis
infection; moodiness and bloating are some others).
My father used garlic to reduce his high blood pressure and hypertension.
Dr. Robert Marshall of Premier Research Labs in Austin Texas makes a wild garlic
The flavor of both onion and garlic are stronger when raw, so use accordingly.
Preserves can also be transformed
into fruit syrup in the food processor.
Gradually increase the amount of
water added and whir in the blender
until the consistency is that of syrup.
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40 THE RAW 50
BRAGG LIQUID AMINO ACIDS
This flavor-enhancing condiment is a great replacement for soy or tamari sauces because,
unlike them, it is unheated and unfermented. It is also gluten free, unlike soy
sauce, which usually lists wheat as the second ingredient (salt is the first!). Bragg is
full of amino acids, which are the building blocks of tissues and organs and very necessary
to the raw foodist.
VEGAN OR NOT?
Many people in the raw food community are vegans, though not all.
What is a vegan exactly? Put simply, a vegan is someone who does not eat any
animal products, including dairy and honey. Vegans are distinguished from vegetarians,
who do not eat animal flesh, but may eat dairy and eggs.
The majority of vegans (and vegetarians) eat cooked food, although some do
not. In fact, the most recognized names in the raw-food movement are vegan. Their
reasons for not eating animal products include concerns about how safe uncooked
meat may or may not be, respect for other sentient beings, a reluctance to contribute
to the violence and disorder of the world, and specific health concerns.
Not everyone comes to raw food the same way, for the same reasons, or with the
same values and goals. My experience has been that most people embrace a rawfood
diet because they have a specific end result in mind, such as overcoming an illness
or disease, or losing weight. Along the way, some of those people might adopt
a vegan philosophy as well, while others, like myself, do not. Similarly, most people
never become “totally raw.”
It doesn’t have to be a case of all or nothing when it comes to raw food. Eating
raw is not necessarily about having a radical, philosophical, or ethical conversion experience.
The journey may ultimately take some of them down that path, but it certainly
doesn’t have to.
I adopted a raw diet so I could prolong my career by eating natural foods that
would nourish me and make me healthy both inside and out, while allowing me to
enjoy a wide range of foods. My first book included recipes for raw-meat and rawfish
dishes. Dr. Nick Gonzalez, the Cornell-trained physician who wrote the foreword
to this book, is a leading researcher in raw-food and raw-enzyme therapies. He ex-
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THE RAW 50 STAPLES 41
plained that over time, different peoples adapted their diets to their local environments
and ecosystems; so not all of us evolved in precisely the same manner. Today
we tend to travel extensively and relocate all over the earth. This is a modern phenomenon,
too new to really affect our adaptation to new environments or to assess
the results it may or may not have on our health.
Although I and millions of other people from all over the globe make our home in
New York City, our genetic roots are planted deeply elsewhere. People change location,
but their roots will always remain their roots and may be planted somewhere
thousands of miles, and many climates and cultures, away. We end up biologically
adapting to different diets based on where we transplant ourselves. Yet for our bodies,
our optimal diet and nutrition will always be based in our roots, which often are
grounded in faraway places and environments we have lost track of and no longer
identify with. In other words, what feeds me best may not be what best feeds my
neighbor, like it or not. It seems that some of us evolved for optimal nourishment
through eating meat or fish or dairy, while others of us did not.
I believe your body knows what it needs and will tell you. Although you may want
to be vegan, you may find that your body is genetically adapted to animal products;
you may even need them. On the other hand, you may feel wonderfully satisfied
without animal products in your diet, and if that’s so, my hat’s off to you!
My advice is do the best you can, eat what you think you need and feel is right,
and be patient and tolerant of others. And most important, check with your doctors
when it comes to your diet.
SPROUTING AND GERMINATING
One reason raw foodists eat so many seeds, beans, and nuts is because they are not
only versatile, but also veritable treasure troves of nutrition. Valuable as they may be,
Mother Nature has seen to it that they are tightly locked. Fortunately for us, releasing
their enzyme inhibitors and freeing their nutrients is simply a matter of immersing
them in water, which can be done by germinating or sprouting. Seeds and beans can
be germinated, and given more time they can be sprouted. Nuts germinate, but
most will not sprout.
Most raw foodists take germinating for granted—it is something they do routinely,
and it is essentially a once-and-you’re-done deal: you soak, walk away, then come back
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42 THE RAW 50
and after rinsing, you can now use what you soaked and what has germinated in your
absence. Sprouting takes a little more time, but is still a fairly simple process.
Unless they state otherwise, the recipes in this book assume that you are germinating
all seeds, beans, and nuts.
Remember to use only dried, raw, and preferably organic seeds, beans, and nuts.
Roasted, canned, jarred, or otherwise processed products (which, by definition, are
cooked) will not germinate.
To begin the germination process, rinse the beans, nuts, or seeds; place them in a
glass bowl or jar with under an inch of purified water; and soak them at room temperature
for the amount of time indicated on the chart on the next page. Cover the
glass jar or bowl with cheesecloth or a stocking to keep the bugs out.
After they have soaked for the appropriate amount of time, rinse and drain the
germinated beans, nuts, or seeds with purified water a couple of times. They are now
ready to eat or use in any recipe. They can also be dehydrated after germination for
use in foods such as granola.
Excerpted from The Raw 50 by Carol Alt with David Roth. Copyright © 2007 by Carol Alt. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.