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The raw revolution

Natural Health
May-June 1998

Bursting with flavor and essential nutrients, our raw food recipes take you to the forefront of America's latest culinary movement.

KARYN CALABRESE IS PERFORMING no small culinary sleight of hand in her Chicago eatery, Karyn's Fresh Comer. 'We turn zucchini into spaghetti, make nuts into milk, and use sprouts and seeds to make pates," says Calabrese, a leader in the "raw foods" movement spreading across America like wildfire. Restaurants catering solely to raw "foodies" have opened in several major cities, and raw juice bars are beginning to rival coffeehouses in popularity.

Raw foods enthusiasts are onto something. After all, heat drastically reduces the amount of watersoluble nutrients, especially vitamin C, in fresh fruits and vegetables. And according to U.S. Department of Agriculture research, broccoli loses 21 percent of its vitamin C and 15 percent of its calcium when cooked. It's no wonder nutritionists recommend eating as many fresh fruits as possible and lightly steaming vegetables in the smallest amount of water. "From a nutrition standpoint, one raw carrot equals four cooked ones," says Lydia Kindheart, owner of Lovin' Life, a raw foods restaurant in Fairfax, California, just north of San Francisco.

Raw foods aficionados also say that eating raw foods allows the body to maintain higher levels of the enzymes needed for healing. They believe the body must produce more enzymes to digest cooked foods than raw foods, which come with their own enzymes. Because the body's enzymes are not engaged in breaking down foods, more are available to prevent sickness, fight disease, and perhaps slow down the aging process.

Even without scientific proof of this theory, many enthusiasts are convinced of the benefits of eating raw foods. Juliano (no last name), chef and owner of Raw Living Foods restaurant in San Francisco, has nothing but good things to say about raw foods after eating a pure raw foods diet for several years.

"Raw foods give you endless energy," Juliano says repeatedly during our conversation. "And you don't have to sleep for eight hours, as you must in order to digest cooked foods."

So is cooking about to become obsolete?

Not likely. Cooking makes some foods taste better--it enhances the sweetness of foods like carrots, for example. Most people would be hard pressed to give up hot meals because of their taste and, of course, the warmth they provide in winter months. Still, you don't have to be a pure raw foodist to take advantage of the benefits of raw foods. Simply including them in your diet more often can give pleasing variety to your menus and a nutritional boost to your meals.

To help you do this, I've developed eight recipes that emphasize raw foods (but still contain a few cooked foods such as bread and noodles). These recipes--such as a Cold Tomato Soup with Avocado, Lime, and Fresh Corn, And Rice Noodles with Cabbage, Carrots, Scallions, and Peanuts--give home cooks tasty ways to take advantage of the raw foods trend.

Note: Many raw food recipes require shredding or grating vegetables, so a food processor is extremely helpful. (You can get by with a knife and a hand-grater, but be prepared to spend more time chopping than you might like.) Basically, though, these recipes are extremely low-tech and will have you eating raw kale, acorn squash, and even turnips in no time.

COLD TOMATO SOUP WITH AVOCADO, LIME, AND FRESH CORN

Serves 4

One bowl of this Mexican-inspired chilled soup, which is made only with fresh fruits and vegetables, contains over 100 percent of your daily vitamin C.

1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro

leaves

1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and

coarsely chopped

1/2 cup lime juice

4 medium tomatoes (about 2 pounds),

cored and coarsely chopped

2 ripe avocados (about I pound), halved,

pitted, and flesh scooped out

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 fresh ears of corn, husked

1. Place cilantro and jalapeno in blender or workbowl of food processor. Process until finely chopped, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.

2. Add time juice, tomatoes, avocados, and salt, and process until smooth. Refrigerate soup until well chilled, about 1 hour. (Soup can be refrigerated for several hours.)

3. Stand ear of corn on end on cutting board and use sharp knife to slice down and remove kernels in a row. Rotate ear slightly and cut down again to remove more kernels. Continue to remove all kernels from cob. Repeat with second ear.

4. Adjust seasonings in chilled soup. Ladle into four bowls. Sprinkle corn kernels over soup and serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 267 calories, 5g protein, 17g fat, 32g carbohydrates, 11g fiber, 319mg sodium, 24% vitamin A, 108% vitamin C, 3% calcium

CHOPPED GREENS SALAD

Serves 4

Several times more nutritious than your average lettuce-based garden salad, this rich green kale and collards salad contains significant amounts of calcium and vitamins A and C. Karyn Calabrese, chef and owner of Karyn's Fresh Comer in Chicago, uses a food processor to cut these tougher greens into very thin strips that can be eaten raw.

4 cups tightly packed stemmed collard

greens, washed and thoroughly dried

4 cups tightly packed stemmed kale,

washed and thoroughly dried

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Fit food processor with slicing blade (it has a single opening). Turn on motor and push greens through feed tube in small batches. Turn shredded greens into large bowl and fluff with two forks.

2. Whisk lemon juice and salt together in small bowl. Whisk in oil until dressing is smooth. Drizzle dressing over greens and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 106 calories, 3g protein, 7g fat, 10g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 170mg sodium, 72% vitamin A, 153% vitamin C, 10% calcium

PAN BAGNAT

Serves 4

This vegetable sandwich from the south of France makes a complete light meal. Chewy, crisp rolls are a must. Rather than sauteing or broiling the zucchini and eggplant, which would rob them of their nutrients, salting the vegetables removes some of their moisture and improves the flavor, while leaving the nutrients intact.

1 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and

cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips

1 medium eggplant, ends trimmed and

cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips

Salt and ground black pepper

4 large crusty rolls

1 large garlic clove, halved

1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded,

and cut into thin strips

2 small tomatoes, cored and sliced very

thin

12 black olives, pitted and chopped

1 tablespoon drained capers

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Lay zucchini and eggplant slices in large colander. Sprinkle liberally with salt and set aside for 1 hour. Rinse salt off vegetables and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

2. Cut rolls in half. Remove some of soft center from each half. Rub cut garlic clove over insides of rolls. Layer zucchini and eggplant slices into bottom half of rolls, cutting pieces to fit. Layer pepper and tomato slices into rolls and then sprinkle with olives and capers.

3. Whisk lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste in small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until dressing is emulsified. Whisk in parsley and adjust seasonings. Drizzle dressing over vegetables. Place top of rolls over vegetables to form sandwiches.

4. Wrap sandwiches tightly in plastic and set aside for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Unwrap and serve.

PER SERVING: 289 calories, 7g protein, 12g fat, 41g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 728mg sodium, 7% vitamin A, 173% vitamin C, 7% calcium

SPICY HIJIKI SALAD WITH RED PEPPER, CARROTS, AND SCALLIONS

Serves 4

Hijiki, like many dried sea vegetables, is packed with minerals such as calcium and iron. The flavor is strong and briny and marries well with pungent seasonings like hot red pepper flakes, sesame oil, and tamari.

1 1/3 cups loosely packed dried hijiki

(about 1 3/4 ounces)

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded,

and minced fine (about 1 cup)

2 medium carrots, peeled and minced

fine (about 1 cup)

3 medium scallions, white and light

green parts, minced (about 1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons tamari

2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to

taste

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1. Place hijiki in large bowl. Add enough warm water to cover hijiki by several inches and let stand 20 minutes. Drain, cover hijiki again with ample warm water, and let stand until softened but still a bit chewy, about 25 minutes.

2. Drain hijiki and blot dry with paper towels. Place hijiki in large bowl with bell pepper, carrots, and scallions.

3. Whisk tamari, sesame oil, and hot red pepper flakes together in small bowl. Pour dressing over hijiki and vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least I hour and up to 4 hours. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 82 calories, 3g protein, 5g fat, 9g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 523mg sodium, 123% vitamin A, 96% vitamin C, 8% calcium

RICE NOODLES WITH CABBAGE, CARROTS, SCALLIONS, AND PEANUTS

Serves 4

Look for thin rice noodles, also called rice sticks, in Asian markets, gourmet stores, and well-stacked natural food stores. Napa is a frilly, pale green Chinese cabbage that's rich in calcium, iron, and potassium, as well as antioxidant vitamins A and C. To shred Napa or any other Chinese cabbage, lay each leaf on cutting board, trim away the thick white part of the leaf, then slice the leaf crosswise into very thin strips.

8 ounces thin rice noodles (rice sticks)

6 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage

2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded

4 medium scallions, white and green

parts, sliced thin

3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves

1 small jalapeno or other fresh chile,

stemmed, seeded, and minced

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons chopped unsalted

peanuts

1. Place noodles in large bowl and cover with hot tap water. Soak until al dente, about 20 minutes. Drain noodles thoroughly in colander, swishing noodles 'With hands to break them apart. Blot up excess moisture with paper towels.

2. While noodles are soaking, combine cabbage, carrots, scallions, mint, and chile in large bowl. Drizzle lime juice, soy sauce, and peanut oil over vegetables and toss to combine. Add drained noodles and toss, using two forks to pull apart noodles, until thoroughly coated with sauce and vegetables.

3. Divide rice noodles and vegetables among individual bowls and garnish each serving with chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 325 calories, 5g protein, 8g fat, 61g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 786mg sodium, 1301% vitamin A, 117% vitamin C, 13% calcium

JAPANESE SHREDDED VEGETABLE SALAD WITH SIX TASTES

Serves 4

The shredding disk on the food processor can turn even the hardest vegetable into long, thin strands that are tender enough to eat raw. For a particularly attractive Japanese-style presentation, arrange five of the vegetables in small piles around the rim of each plate and one vegetable in the center.

1 medium parsnip (about 8 ounces),

ends trimmed and peeled

2 medium carrots (about 5 ounces),

ends trimmed and peeled

12 medium radishes (about 6 ounces),

ends trimmed and scrubbed

3 medium purple-tinged turnips (about

9 ounces), ends trimmed and scrubbed

1/3 medium acorn squash (about 8

ounces), seeds and strings discarded;

tough outer skin peeled '

2 medium beets (about 8 ounces),

ends trimmed and scrubbed

1. Fit food processor with shredding disk Turn on motor and push parsnip through feed tube. Place shredded parsnip in small bowl. Clean out food processor. Repeat process, shredding each vegetable separately and saving beets until last.

2. Take a small portion of each shredded vegetable and arrange it over a large dinner plate. Serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 82 calories, 2g protein, 1g fat, 19g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 68mg sodium, 79% vitamin A, 38% vitamin C, 5% calcium

SUMMER MINESTRONE

Serves 6

With almost two days' worth of vitamin C, the fresh flavors of this chilled, spicy soup are perfect for a hot day.

6 large ripe tomatoes (about 3

pounds), cored and diced small

1 jalapeno or other fresh chile,

stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded,

and cut into 1/4-inch dice

6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and

crushed

6 scallions, green and white parts, sliced

thin

1 cucumber, peeled, quartered, seeded,

and cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine tomatoes, chile, yellow pepper, garlic, scallions, cucumber, water, and vinegar in large bowl. Refrigerate soup until well chilled, about 1 hour. (Soup can be refrigerated for several hours.)

2. Remove and discard garlic cloves. Stir in salt and adjust seasonings.

3. Ladle soup into six serving bowls. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over each bowl and serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 117 calories, 3g protein, 5g fat, 5g fiber, 17g carbohydrates, 215mg sodium, 18% vitamin A, 180% vitamin C, 4% calcium

PINZIMONIO

Serves 4

Italians serve a platter of spring and summer vegetables, known as pinzimonio, as an antipasto and dip them in the finest olive oil. This combination of carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, yellow pepper, and fennel is my personal favorite (and it supplies loads of antioxidant vitamins), but you can vary the selection based on what looks good at the market, including celery, radishes, tender green beans, or cauliflower.

6 medium carrots, peeled, quartered

lengthwise, and cut into 3-inch

lengths

24 cherry tomatoes, stemmed

1 medium cucumber, peeled, quartered

lengthwise, seeded, and cut into

3-inch lengths

1 large yellow bell pepper, stemmed,

seeded, and cut into thick wedges

1 medium fennel bulb, stalks and fronds

discarded; bulb cut into thin strips

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper

1. Arrange vegetables on large platter. Pour a little oil into six ramekins or bowls. Give each person a small plate for bowl of oil and vegetables. Place salt and pepper on table for seasoning.

PER SERVING: 113 calories, 4g protein, 1g fat, 26g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 65mg sodium, 318% vitamin A, 227% vitamin C, 6% calcium

RELATED ARTICLE: ARE SPROUTS THE ULTIMATE RAW FOOD?

"UNLIKE REGULAR VEGETABLES, which start the dying process the moment they're severed from the earth, sprouts are living right up to the moment you put them on your plate," says Steve Meyerowitz, motivational health speaker and author of five books, including Sprouts: The Miracle Food! (Sproutman Publications, 1997). For decades, raw sprouts have been considered the quintessential health food. And with good reason.

The vitamin content of a seed multiplies many times in its first few days of sprouting and can reach 20 times that of the mature plant. Sprouts from the brassica family, such as broccoli and radish, supply heart-healthy flavonoids, as well as cell-protecting antioxidants. New research indicates that three-day-old broccoli sprouts are 20 to 50 times more concentrated with sulforaphane, a compound that improves a cell's ability to detoxify carcinogens, than mature broccoli. Other popular sprouts, such as alfalfa and Chinese mung bean, are rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, folacin, iron, and magnesium. And sprouts contain almost no fat or calories.

But before you start eating loads of sprouts, consider the recent reports that have linked alfalfa sprouts to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. The sprouting process--keeping the seeds warm and moist for 5 to 7 days--creates a fertile breeding ground for those bacteria.

Other experts recommend against eating large amounts of sprouts not because of agricultural contamination, but because of their natural toxicity. Alfalfa sprouts, for instance, contain L-canavanine, which is large doses has produced lupus-like symptoms in laboratory animals. This and other toxins are nature's way of protecting its seeds, intended for reproduction, not consumption.

So if you want to take advantage of the health benefits sprouts offer, be sure to wash all sprouts in a solution of warm water and antibacterial, vegetable-based liquid soap. And keep your sprout consumption within reason.

Jack Bishop is the food editor of Natural Health and the author of several cookbooks, including The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook (Chapters/Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

COPYRIGHT 1998 East West Partners

 

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