Top | Views from the Carrot Condo
(post, Trista Cornelius)
I made my first 100% raw dinner this week using our first harvest of homegrown tomatoes. As some of you know, I first attempted a raw diet for a week in March and pretty much ruled it out of my life forever (read this and this). Since then, however, I kept coming across articles about the health benefits of enzymes in raw food, then a raw food restaurant opened near me, and next thing I know, I'm buying Ani Phyo's raw food book! Turns out, a raw meal is the perfect way to showcase homegrown tomatoes. Before whacking open my first coconut to make noodles from the soft, white flesh, I made the raw marinara sauce--tomatoes so fresh off the vine they still felt warm from the sun, garlic and oregano and basil from the garden, some salt, and sundried tomatoes all whooshed into a smooth sauce by Spike (my food processor). The marinara sat while I made the rest of dinner because Ani said the sundried tomatoes would soak up some of the juice and thicken the sauce. If you're wondering about the sundried tomatoes, "raw" means food that has not experienced anything hotter than 104 degrees (according to Ani) or 125 degrees (according to other books). My tomatoes experienced 107 degree heat the day before, but they were still on the vine and simply enduring the elements. I trust they still count as raw, as do the sundried tomatoes since the sun most definitely did not exceed 125 degrees! Supposedly, enzymes that ripen the produce and help us extract every nutrient from the produce die if heated above 125, hence the goal of a raw diet. After cleaning Spike, I made nacho cheese sauce to dribble over the marinara. After soaking two cups of raw macadamia nuts overnight, process these with lemon juice, Nama Shoyu (a raw soy sauce), turmeric, cayenne pepper, and water. Finally, the noodles--thinly sliced coconut flesh and yellow squash! Ani says to whack open a coconut with a meat cleaver, that you really have to whack it. Well, what veg household has a meat cleaver? Alas, I ended up putting dents in our two biggest knives. Nevertheless, I did it and feel quite powerful! First, I whacked a hole in the top, drained the juice into a bottle to save for after yoga the next morning (coconut juice is THE drink for after hard exercise--apparently it replenishes all the elements you sweat out). Then, I tried cracking it in half with the knife. The thick, fibrous exterior got in the way, so I had to cut out a trail so the knife could get to the dark brown coconut shell. This took many satisfying whacks, each one making me feel strong and independent, not even caring that coconut fiber flew all over the kitchen (I think some is still on top of the refrigerator). Finally, I put my thumbs into the open top and pried and pulled like a determined surgeon and CRACK--two perfectly neat halves of coconut. (Since I don't know how to upload more than one photo here, pictures of my coconut whacking will be at: http://allbutthekitchensink.blogspot.com/) A spoon helped scoop the soft flesh from the shell. Then, I sliced the coconut and squash as thin and noodle-like as I could. Finished! No boiling, baking, roasting, or broiling, no HEAT! I piled the noodles in the center of each plate, poured marinara down the middle, then drizzled the nacho cheeze over the top and made a small salad on the side--mostly for the green color. How did it taste? The marinara sauce is delicious! Better than any cooked pasta sauce I've had--rich, creamy, the fresh herbs giving it a nice complexity. The noodles, especially the coconut ones, felt like noodles--soft and wiggly--and they soaked up the marinara flavor. The nacho cheese, however, tasted like a whole lot of turmeric and cayenne--kind of powdery and woody. (My husband said it tasted like furniture finish...not that he's eaten furniture...) My raw meal did not feel as satisfying as what I've had at Blossoming Lotus (I ended up eating a bowl of bananas and blueberries before bed), but it felt fun to eat. The vibrant colors, nutrition, and adventure energized us. I'm not sure what we'll do with all the leftover nacho cheese--I don't want to waste all those macadamia nuts; but we plan to make traditional pasta tonight and drizzle the rest of the marinara over the top. Yum!