tips and tricks
Restaurateurs embrace new approaches to dining.
WRITTEN BY AIMEE EIGUREN
PHOTOS BY CHRIS HOLLOMAN
When you think of eating raw foods, what comes to mind? Uncooked carrots and beets, or salads, perhaps? You’ve probably never imagined eating a raw brownie or cheesecake.
If you’re feeling uncertain about eating raw or are wondering what the “rules” of raw food are, you’re in for an awakening. The movement around raw foods has expanded significantly — beyond just health food stores and extending to home cooks, who now have abundant opportunities to eat raw in Reno-Tahoe.
So what are the rules for eating raw, anyway? Think uncooked, unprocessed, mostly organic foods. Your staples: raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. Your food can be cold or even a little bit warm, as long as it doesn’t go above 105 degrees. Food below that temperature still is considered to be sprouted and alive and therefore contains powerful enzymes said not only to aid in proper digestion but also to help fight disease, given that the food retains its natural, full-nutrient state.
Raw around the lake
Raw food chef Sandi Cole, owner of Simple Bliss Vegan Café, and chef Aaron Abrams, owner of Free Bird Café, both located in South Lake Tahoe, are making a tasty and healthy difference in their customers’ lives by feeding them whole, raw foods, both sweet and savory.
Cole creates raw pastries from scratch, and customers can’t seem to get enough of her brownies and cheesecakes.
“Many of my customers have become so intrigued with eating raw and feel better for it, especially when learning that raw desserts contain live ingredients and none of the processed sugars or fats,” Cole says.
“There’s a raw food revolution taking place,” Abrams says.
He wants to be a part of it, which is why he’s been juicing and chopping raw, organic produce on a daily basis for more than five years, constantly tweaking and growing his menu.
He intends to offer customers “the most nutrient-packed foods known to man.”
These raw foodies tell us that adapting to this diet is an adjustment that’s best eased into slowly. It’s fairly labor intensive given the food prep involved for each meal; it requires planning; and a lot of ingredient chopping, blending, and even dehydrating.
Regardless of the effort, they say they enjoy huge benefits by adding more raw foods to their daily diets. The regimen allows them to increase their intake of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies and to get creative with flavors in the kitchen.
“A great way for home cooks to ease into eating raw is by committing to one raw meal per day for a few weeks,” Cole says. “The energy raw food delivers to a body far outweighs the prep time in the kitchen.”
Aimee Eiguren is a gluten-free food writer and founder of A.R.E. Public Relations (gluten-free PR and marketing at Arepublicrelations.com). She’s also a celiac disease advocate and advisory board member of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. A former Reno resident, Eiguren now resides in the Bay Area.
Raw Lemon Ginger Cheezecake
(courtesy of Sandi Cole, owner of Simple Bliss Vegan Café in South Lake Tahoe. Serves 12)
3 cups raw sunflower seeds (soaked for two hours minimum or overnight, in the fridge)
Juice of 4 large lemons, with pulp
1 cup date paste (recipe below)
2 tablespoons raw coconut butter (Cole recommends Artisana brand)
⅔ cup raw coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons fresh ginger juice
Soak sunflower seeds at least two hours or overnight. Rinse seeds and put aside.
Soak 2 cups dates at least two hours or overnight in fridge. Cole recommends using 16-ounce Mason jar, filled with dates and covered with water. Once dates have soaked, place contents of jar into high-powered blender and blend until smooth.
2 cups raw walnuts
1 cup pitted dates
Use food processor to make crust. Process walnuts and dates together for about 30 seconds; stop, stir, and pulse again until mixture resembles graham cracker crumbs. Press into pan of your choice (e.g., springform, pie pan, full-sized or mini muffin pans, or silicon molds). If using anything besides pie pan, press crust on bottom only; the cheesecake will be prettier this way when released from mold. Once crust is made and pressed into place, put in freezer until ready to fill.
To make filling
Use high-powered blender, such as Vitamix. Place all filling ingredients, including soaked and rinsed seeds, into blender; blend for one minute, then check consistency. Keep mixing in blender, about three minutes or until smooth — there should be no lumps. Once your filling is ready, fill crust(s) and return to freezer for at least an hour. Enjoy!
Raw Cacao Bliss Smoothie
(courtesy of Aaron Abrams, owner of Free Bird Café in South Lake Tahoe. Serves 1)
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
¼ cup raw almond butter or raw almonds
1 banana, frozen
¼ teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan salt
2 dates, pitted
1 tablespoon raw coconut oil
1¼ cups filtered water
Blend ingredients together in high-powered blender. Adjust to taste or preferred texture by adding more raw dates, salt, or cacao, as needed. (Optional: Add raw maca root powder, raw mesquite powder, or raw goji berries). These organic ingredients are easily found in any natural foods market.
Raw food in the Reno-Tahoe area
Free Bird Café
2753 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe
Simple Bliss Vegan Café
Located in the Swiss Village
2540 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe
3123 Harrison Ave., South Lake Tahoe
Located in The Studio
1085 S. Virginia St., Reno
All offerings are raw, including desserts
Uncommon Kitchen, inside New Moon Natural Foods
11357 Donner Pass Road, Ste. C, Truckee
530-583-FOOD (3663), http://www.Uncommonkitchen.org
One Green Planet http://www.Onegreenplanet.org
This Rawsome Vegan Life http://www.Thisrawsomeveganlife.com
Fully Raw Kristina http://www.Fullyraw.com
Recommended equipment for eating raw at home
• Vitamix high-performing blender. Our experts repeatedly shared that this piece of equipment is essential for hastening prep time and achieving the overall benefits of raw food creation. http://www.Vitamix.com
• Food dehydrator
• Food processor
• Quality knife set. This is necessary due to the time involved in preparing fruits and vegetables.