Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Play in the Kitchen!

Did anyone ever tell you not to play with your food? If so, you may share a commonly held belief that preparing natural, healthy and raw food is a lot of work. But is it? I am here to suggest otherwise!

Eleven amazing people attended my talk last week on the New Raw Food Diet. More than half the group were already following raw or high raw diets and had wonderful insights and experiences to share, while the remaining attendees, introduced for the first time to the exciting world of living foods, were so open to learning. It was an honor to facilitate this meeting of our growing raw food community and I hope we will develop and expand our connections through future meetings and workshops.

One concern voiced by the practicing raw fooders was the time factor involved in raw food preparation. It is endemic in our culture to feel pressed for time - to be always on the go, rushing from place to place and "grabbing a bite to eat" in the midst of the chaos. Of course nothing could be simpler than grabbing an apple, banana or bag of baby carrots and eating out of hand, but making raw pasta, sauces or patés may be perceived as too time consuming - especially when the preponderance of convenience foods, fast food outlets and advertising for these products and venues repeatedly reinforces the idea that there's not enough time in the day to prepare meals. Even if we don't eat fast food and packaged meals, we are subjected to the messages they convey.

I agree it is a fact that preparing food takes time. This means that unless you are in the position to eat out, order in or hire someone else to prepare all your wholesome fresh meals, you will have to slow down a couple of times a day to make wholesome, fresh food for yourself. By doing this, you get to take care of YOU. Love yourself in these moments, and pour your love into your creation. Taking care of yourself is a beautiful thing!

And how do you find the time? Here are a few pointers. Number One is to change your thoughts around time. WANT to have the time, BELIEVE you have the time, and start to regard your time in the kitchen as PLAY, not work. If you are having FUN in the kitchen, you will WANT to spend time there making yummy food!

Beyond that, it helps to think ahead. Think about what you want to eat for the coming day or week and be organized by making shopping lists, purchasing ingredients in advance, soaking nuts for cheeses or seeds for sprouts in time to make the dishes you want, etc. Also, try to choose a day or an afternoon that you're not working to prepare a few more complex items for the week ahead (Sunday works for me).

Another way to help save time (and increase the fun factor) is GADGETS! These are not necessary, but they do broaden the scope of culinary possibility. Not all gadgets are pricey - for instance, salad spinners are very modestly priced and well worth the small investment for the time they save washing greens (I use mine every day), not to mention the secret glee of spinning and braking the machine! A simple spiral slicer costs under $30 and makes the best zucchini spaghetti in the world, with a chewy bite like pasta, but with no gummy gooey slimy thing going on, no wheat to clog you up, and talk about fast food! Just cut a zuke in half, put it in the machine, turn the crank and out come perfect strands, like magic. Top with your choice of: pesto, raw alfredo, oil and tamari, or even organic bottled marinara sauce (remember, it's not necessarily about 100% raw) and you're in business!

It's easy to make kitchen time play time when you have toys to play with! I am having the most fun ever exploring the world of raw food cuisine now that I have a juicer, spiralizer and - last but not least - dehydrator (this WAS a big investment), which I finally bought after months of saving up and thoughtful deliberation over what kind to get (I went with a white, 9-tray Excalibur with timer - yes!). I made my first two trays of Maiden Bread on Sunday, with vidalia onions, veggie pulp, flaxseed and sunflower seed meal, based on Matt Amsden's Rawvolution recipe. Amazing!

Of course, I needed to create a spread for this savory creation, so I also made (on Sunday - told you it works for me) the most amazing Pumpkin Seed-Macadamia-Pine Nut Cheese with Fresh Garlic Scapes* you could dream of. It's so dreamy, I should call it Dream Cheese. I can't get over how super quick and easy it is to make DELICIOUS, CREAMY cheese out of seeds and nuts - non-dairy cheese that tastes as good if not WAY better than goat cheese or boursin. All you need is a food processor, and enough forethought to start soaking your seeds a few hours in advance. Look how beautiful:

This recipe is based on Cheese with Spring Onions, posted by Zoe on (

Pumpkin Seed-Macadamia-Pine Nut Cheese Balls with Garlic Scapes

2 cups pumpkin seeds (soaked for 2-4 hours and drained)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
2 lemons' juice
1/3 cup olive oil
drizzle of black truffle oil (optional)
1/2 to 1 Tablespoon Himalayan pink salt
10 garlic scapes, chopped (plus additional minced scapes for rolling) (may substitute chives or green onions for scapes)

Directions: Put soaked seeds and nuts in food processor and pulse/process to fine meal texture. Add lemon juice and olive oil and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides with spatula as needed. Add truffle oil and 1/2 Tablespoon salt, and continue to process for a while (up to 10 minutes altogether). If it's not coming together, add a little water to obtain desired texture - it should be very thick yet creamy. Taste and adjust salt if you want. When cheese seems done, add in chopped garlic scapes and process briefly to break down and blend well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then remove, form balls and roll in minced garlic scapes (the balls, not you!). Or just store cheese in glass containers to use as spread. (I did both.) Keeps in fridge five days.

*Garlic scapes are the curly, upper sections of garlic plants. Scapes develop in mid to late June in my area, and sport a closed bud at their tip. If the scape is not removed, the bud will swell open into a round, edible flower and the garlic bulb will not develop. Scapes are trimmed away to help the plant send its energy down into the root instead of up into the flower, so that a nice, fat garlic bulb will grow for harvest later in the season. Garlic scapes are pungent, tender and tasty - a real Summer Solstice time, seasonal treat!


glutenfreeforgood said...


I love your blog and couldn't agree with you more about finding the time to prepare good food. Not to mention, play with your food! We do have the time, we just have to rearrange our priorities. :-)

Lovely photographs!


Catherine said...

Hi Di!
Thank you for a most inspiring blog. I love it and will be visiting often!
Viewing food prep as playtime is a great idea! It's like culinary alchemy - trasforming the idea that food prep is drudgery/time consuming/demanding into joyful creativity.

darein said...

I can vouch for the fun and excitement swirling around this energy rich activity.
It is as if our bodies and the plants anticipate the marriage and actually transduce vitality.
love, darien

Glen Colello said...

Great to chat with you today!
Looking forward to meeting you Friday night for the Father of Raw Foods talk at Catch A Healthy Habit Cafe in West Haven

Gadgets are great! Spiroli for pasta is perfect, Vita Mix is my
best friend & clever for coconuts
is a must!!!!!!!

In a gotta go lifestyle you gotta put the best gas in the tank or gotta go to the doctor!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful ... can't wait to make!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful ... can't wait to make!!

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

Thank you, unknown visitor :) Let us know how it turns out for you!