In the raw
Vail, CO, Colorado
EDWARDS ” For breakfast, Eric Prouty purees one avocado, one cucumber, a handful of spinach and lime juice in a food processor. He pours the smooth, electric green concoction into a bowl, sprinkles it with cinnamon and stevia, a sweet South American herb, and it’s so rich and thick, he eats it with a spoon.
Prouty, who lives in Eagle and teaches skiing in the winter and sells water treatment systems in the summer, is a raw foodie. He eats 75 percent raw food in the summer and about 50 percent in the winter, when fresh vegetables are harder to find in the mountains.
Raw food is food that has not been heated above 115 degrees (or 105 degrees, depending on your school of thought.) Raw foodists believe when food is heated, its enzymes, nutritional value and its life is destroyed. On the flip side, people like Prouty believe when food is raw, it’s alive and vibrating and transfers all that positive energy into the human body.
“It gives life to the body instead of sucking it out,” Prouty said. “I had stomach problems. Dead food aggravated it, and live food made it feel good.”
Prouty is not alone in his belief in the powers of uncooked food. There is a whole community of people in the Vail Valley who follow a raw food diet, and every couple of weeks in the summer, local raw foodies host a potluck to share recipes and build team spirit. Like Prouty, who suffered from a severe case of acid reflux, most turned to raw food in search of a cure. Others, thinking it’s healthier, just want to incorporate more raw food into their diets. The potluck, Prouty said, is a reminder for both schools that beyond the health benefits, “eating raw is fun.”
Eating would be pretty grim if it were just carrot sticks and salads. Raw foodies, to keep it interesting, are forced to operate a creative kitchen. And with the right tools, the possibilities are endless.
At a recent potluck, the table was filled with innovative raw treats: avocado halves stuffed with sunflower-seed chili topped with mole sauce, cashew nut sour cream and brazil nut parmesan; noncrab cakes assembled with porcini mushrooms, zucchini and red bell pepper; nut pates with fresh vegetables and “crackers” and coconut date cream pie ” just to name a few.
“Food has become such an art,” Caz Casber said, who was a guest at the potluck. “It’s great we don’t have to eat berries and roots.”
To create those raw, gourmet dishes, it takes a lot of time, labor and the right tools. A well-stocked raw-food kitchen must have a masticating juicer, high-powered blender, food processor and a dehydrator ” making your kitchen look as if you practice mad science. But those gadgets are essential to create the variety and texture needed to make a raw food diet interesting and tasty.
The masticating juicer is used to make raw tomato sauces, applesauce or nut butters to spread on fruit or vegetables. Masticating juicer chews the fruit and vegetables, leaving more fiber, enzymes and vitamins.
High-powered blenders can whip raw sweet potatoes into an airy mousse. A food processor, fitted with an S blade, is used to grind and chop food. Probably the most unfamiliar tool ” the dehydrator ” is used to make raw cookies and crackers, dried fruit leathers and crunchy nut clusters.
“A dehydrator takes the moisture out of food, but it’s still raw because it doesn’t heat above the 105 degrees,” said Karen Cucura, a raw food associate chef and instructor who lives in Edwards. “You can use it to warm soups or coconut pad Thai in the winter. It gives you variety and consistency, and it preserves food. But the enzymes remain in tact.”
Another essential step in raw “cooking” is soaking and sprouting nuts and seeds. Most recipes that call for nuts require them to be soaked for at least 12-48 hours to wake them up as nature would with a big rain storm.
“You soak them to release the enzyme inhibitor,” Prouty said. “Basically, soaking nuts stops them from interfering with our digestion.”
Raw foodies soak seeds to grow sprouts ” like the alfalfa variety you see at the supermarket or the mung bean sprouts in Asian dishes ” and then they eat them like a salad. Sprouts have concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and proteins.
Prouty uses the jar method to grow sprouts, and prefers to sprout lentils because they’re easy. It’s a simple procedure of cleaning and soaking the seeds, rinsing and draining the seeds and then harvesting and storing the sprouts. Beyond alfalfa and lentils, one can sprout arugula, broccoli, fennel, mustard and radish seeds.
To most, raw food preparation sounds like a lot of work: Blending, juicing, grinding, sprouting. It’s easier to throw a can of soup on the stove. But for those who have experienced the benefits of raw food, there is no other way of eating.
Emmy Rothchild of Denver, who was at the potluck, has eaten strictly raw for four years. She was facing many health challenges, ranging from candida to chronic fatigue, when she got really sick with a fever.
“My life came to a grinding halt,” she said.
A friend nursed her back to heath, nourishing her with raw food. Her body responded so incredibly, she said, she decided raw was the answer. Raw food changed her lifestyle. She rarely goes out to eat, carries a cooler of raw food in her car and brings her own meals to dinner parties, but to Rothchild, it’s no sacrifice.
“Here I am 55 years old, and I got my life back,” Rothchild said. “It’s an honor to honor my body. You can use food as your best medicine and heal yourself.”
Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 748-2938 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 cups almonds, soaked for 12 to 48 hours
1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 4 to 6 hours
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1⁄2 red onion, finely chopped
1⁄2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne or 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
Process the almonds, sunflower seeds and carrots through a food processor fitted with the S blade.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and add celery, bell pepper, red onion, parsley, lemon juice, salt and cayenne or curry powder. Mix well. Serve with vegetable slices or spread on raw crackers.
” Rose Lee Calabro, “The Complete Book of Raw Food.”