A raw food diet refers to the practice of eating foods that are unprocessed and unheated, or heated to a low temperature of less than 115F. The theory behind it is that cooking at a high temperature can degrade or destroy beneficial nutrients and enzymes. Moreover, proponents believe that cooking and processing foods can introduce toxicity. Naturally, planted-based foods are common to this diet.
The raw food diet is the new "old" idea. Human had long been eating raw foods before fire was invented. Eating raw foods was being "reexamined" in Europe around the 1900s. The concept soon caught on in the US. The Hippocrates Health Institute which promotes the use of living foods was founded in the 1960s. The movement was further popularized by Leslie Kenton in the early 1980s. Her widely-read book advocates a diet that consists predominantly of raw food to prevent degenerative diseases, slow the effects of aging, and provide enhanced energy.
Opponents suggest that there are drawbacks to eating uncooked food. An obvious concern is the chance of getting food-borne diseases which often can be prevented with heating. They also point out that certainly nutrients are either more beneficial when cooked, or only released when the food is cooked. Furthermore, they raised the concerns that a restricted diet may lead to the lack of protein and other essential minerals and vitamins.
Regardless of the camp you are in, the Raw Raspberry Tart that follows is a must try.
RAW DESSERTS DON’T HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED
You don’t have to be a raw foodist to experience great tasting, nutrient-rich desserts. Raw desserts don’t have to be complicated either! They often utilize whole food based ingredients, (unlike processed foods stripped of nutritional value) requiring a little processing and time to set up.
Common raw dessert ingredients include, nuts, coconut oil, fruits and dates. Coconut oil, the most exotic of these listed ingredients, is a super healthy fat. It has been known to lower cholesterol, promote a healthy heart and prep the body for successful resistance to both viral and bacterial infections.
Below is an easy raw raspberry tart dessert recipe we make at Chaco Canyon Cafe in Seattle from time to time. Raw coconut oil is readily available at most natural food stores (Nutiva is a popular brand) and frozen raspberries are great to use because they are available all year round. At the Café, we use Deglet dates, but other types of dates work just as well.
RAW RASPBERRY TART RECIPE
(Makes 10 servings)
8 oz Hazelnuts (about 2 cups) Pinch salt 2 oz pitted dates (about ¼ c packed) 1-2 T water
12 oz pitted dates 1 lb 4 oz raspberries, frozen pinch salt ¾ c coconut oil
Thaw raspberries in the refrigerator overnight if using frozen raspberries.
In food processor, pulse together hazelnuts with salt so the largest pieces are ¼” around. Add dates and continue to process until the hazelnuts are ⅛” around. Add water and process until the dough just holds together.
Remove nut mixture to a bowl and knead briefly until the dough is shiny (about 15-30 seconds). Press into a ¼” thick crust on the bottom and sides of a 9” tart pan (removable bottom pan preferred).
In food processor (make sure to wipe out the food processor bowl so that the filling does not have nut bits in it!), mix together raspberries, dates and salt until the dates are fully pureed and the date-raspberry mixture is smooth except for the raspberry seeds. Add in the coconut oil and process until the coconut oil is fully incorporated.
Chill overnight until completely solid. Slice into 10 pieces.
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe is Washington's First Certified Organic Vegetarian Cafe & Restaurant. Located in the U-District and West Seattle.