There seem to be no less than nine hundred different diets out there, each with a different title. But I would like to offer up a bigger number: 7 billion. No two vegans are alike, I promise you this! Each person on this planet has a unique body with a very special set of physical and mental attributes. So why should they eat the same as anyone else?
Diets with a name are hopefully just there for guidance and not to follow word for word, meal for meal. The world would be so very boring if we were told exactly what to eat every day (babies don't really have a say in the matter, but they have their own likes and dislikes and will probably let you know in their own way!)
This blog is called The Particular Kitchen because the way I eat could be viewed as very particular or fussy. There are many reasons for this, the main one being that I have been restricted for many years due to food sensitivities. Then there is the vegetarian question: marrying someone who doesn't eat meat has certainly forced me to think about my own meat eating and inspired lots of research into the current horrors of factory farming. As a result, while I wouldn't solemnly vow that I'll never eat meat again, I've cut down significantly. The last time meat was in our kitchen was thanksgiving last year, roasting a turkey by myself, a fairly traumatic experience! The last time I ate meat was at our wedding. However, fish still remains firmly on our menu. But it's not that simple, because I'm careful to choose sustainable fish and avoid farmed and over-fished varieties at all costs. And finally, there's the healthy eating side of it all - I choose organic over non-organic when it comes to certain fruits and vegetables and most nuts and seeds, I cook with coconut oil instead of olive oil, I avoid refined sugar and choose honey or sweet freedom or coconut sugar instead, brown rice instead of white, you get the idea. This drives a lot of people nuts - it isn't easy and can make life difficult at restaurants or dinner parties. But this is the path I've chosen for myself, both in life and career, and I have to honor that.
Another style of eating which has become very popular (at least on the internet) over the last few years is raw vegan. This is controversial at times, since people who eat 100% raw are perhaps the most restricted: nothing heated over 118°f or 48°c. But the benefits of this diet are clear. Eating foods in their most raw and natural state retain the most nutrients and enzymes which our bodies need and gladly take in. The most common "gateway" into the raw food world is through desserts, and I'm no exception. You've probably noticed the increase in raw desserts lately. What started out as simply a world of sweets that fit both my food sensitivities and healthy eating criteria has now just become an exciting experimental obsession. I can't deny my sweet tooth, but I can trick it by not having damaging refined sugar. So I satisfy those cravings with healthy alternatives to the real thing. Phil doesn't seem to mind either. The raw chocolate mousse pie is a firm favorite. He's even gone so far as to come up with his own recipes, which I'll post here very soon. They are delicious and taste exactly like chocolate cookie dough.
But here is the main point in all of this: a new way of eating can be daunting and sometimes dangerous. In the case of going from omnivore to herbivore, not only is protein a potential issue, but so are B12, iron, zinc, and calcium. While we can definitely get all of these nutrients from other sources or supplements, it is not obvious unless you do the research or speak to someone about it beforehand.
Same with eating raw. There are lots of interesting and new ingredients in the raw food world that all come with their own potential pitfalls. I ate some chia pudding the other morning, a little too much, and felt nauseous for the rest of the day (due to its high fiber content and water absorption). If I had done a bit of research into it before diving right in with all of the recipes I had seen on blogs, I may have picked up on the warnings.
So if you're keen on trying something new, by all means try it, but first do a bit of googling, asking around, reading up, and make sure you know what you're getting yourself into!
And with that, I give you a new raw dessert recipe that comes from my new friend Gabriela aka the picky foodie. She is a wonderful woman with an adorable daughter and lovely husband. After attending her daughter's first birthday picnic party where she had made two delicious raw treats, we just had to try and recreate them in our own kitchen. The raw carrot cake is righteous while still tasting subtly sweet. Thank you for the inspiration, Gabriela!
Raw Carrot Cake
Recipe adapted from the picky foodie
For the cake:
- 4 cups carrots (about 1.5 lbs/1 kg)
- 1 cup pitted dates (about 16)
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup raisins
- 2 tsp vanilla powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
For the frosting:
- ¾ cup cashews, soaked for at least an hour
- ¾ cup macadamias, soaked for at least an hour
- 1.5 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 6 tbsp water
- Shred the carrots using a fine grater attachment in a food processor and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
- Combine the rest of the cake ingredients in the food processor with a blade attachment and process until well combined and sticky. Transfer to the bowl with the carrots and mix by hand. Knead until the mixture is well incorporated and sticks together.
- Move the cake mix to a tin, preferably with a removable base, and spread evenly. Press down well and refrigerate.
- Drain and rinse the soaked nuts. Process or blend with 3 tbsp of the water, and add more if necessary (it was for me).
- Melt the coconut oil in a bain-marie and add to the nuts along with the rest of the frosting ingredients. Add more coconut sugar or sweetener if you prefer.
- Remove the cake from the fridge and spread the frosting on top. Refrigerate for at least an hour and serve chilled.