Healthy Eating in the Raw

I admit it. I’m a certified, card-carrying carnivore. If it ever had a bone in it, or came from something with a bone in it, it’s welcome on my table.  As someone whose culinary training is French, there isn’t a pound of butter nor a quart of heavy cream that I don’t regard as a close personal friend.  Put me behind a stove with any combination of the above ingredients and I’m a happy man.

That same training also gave me an understanding of, and appreciation for, the vegetarian lifestyle. In fact, I’ve always been proud of my success at introducing clients to the benefits and joys of eating vegetarian meals.  Still, the idea of becoming a vegetarian, never mind a vegan, was a bit too out there for me.

Which brings me to Chef Sara Siso, whose passion is organic raw vegan food.  Passion is the key word here as she lives and breathes the raw vegan lifestyle…free of dairy, wheat, gluten, flour, cholesterol, meat, refined sugar. And cooking. In fact, about the only heat to come in contact with anything she prepares would come from her food processor or blender.  From a small storefront operation in Cave Creek, AZ, through farmer’s markets in the greater Phoenix area, and through open classes and private instructions, Chef Sara brings her passion and love for this lifestyle to the public.  Her Pecan Pie rivals the best I’ve had anywhere, from any chef.

I’ve had a thing of late for hummus. This is her version of this centuries-old Middle Eastern dish.

Chef Sara’s Nut Hummus
2C almonds, soaked in water for 8 hours
1/4C raw tahini
1/2Tsp fresh ground black pepper
6 cloves chopped garlic
2Tbls ground cumin
1/2C olive oil
1C lemon juice
1/2Tsp Himalayan pink salt or Celtic salt
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

Drain and rinse the almonds. Add to food processor and blend to a fine paste. Add the rest of  the ingredients and continue to blend until smooth and creamy. If you like it a bit less acidic, replace half the lemon juice with distilled water. And, of course, all of the ingredients listed are organic.

Millions of pages have been written about the health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet. Chef Sara’s approach takes it one step further. In her own words “I believe the food we choose to consume plays a vital role in healing the body, mind and soul. So let the food be your medicine and the medicine be your food”.

Have I given up meat and dairy? Not yet, but I do have a juicer on my counter now and I use it every day.

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. All Rights Reserved (c) 2009


6 thoughts on “Healthy Eating in the Raw

  1. Hummus sounds yummy. I’ll have to give it a try this weekend. Though I’m not ready to give up meat and dairy either.

    And dare I say you have a juicer on your counter because you have trees of oranges, lemons and a grapefruit within steps of that counter? I’d have a juicer, too, if my oranges smelled so heavenly and were as delicious as the ones I just had from your trees. A few slices of almost heaven.

    But the oranges that I find in my grocer’s produce have no smell and a mere suggestion of taste. Quinn says it’s because the fruit doesn’t get to ripen on the trees. So does this mean I have to move south?

    Hmmm–thinking on that one…

  2. What is tahini?

    This recipe sounds great. I’ll give it a try. I’ll second Barb’s comments on the oranges. They are scrumptuous. It is possible that I should be using past tense for the verb. I’ll have to check when I get home.

  3. –Do try the hummus. Last night, I attended a vegan food demonstration Sara gave at a local Whole Foods. She used the hummus as one of the key ingredients in the best veggie wrap imaginable. As for my juicer, it’s an appliance I’ve had from some time and only recently dusted off and returned to the kitchen..the combination of holiday weight gain and inexpensive fruit, plus exposure to Sara’s passion for this made it the logical choice.

    The oranges and lemons are now ready to pick. This afternoon, I got a large glass jar with a screw top lid to make a batch of preserved lemons, something I’ve never done.

    And moving west…look outside your window, estimate how many days it will be before the snow melts, and tell me you’re not thinking about moving to the desert…c’mon, tell me.


  4. Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds and olive oi. Very common in Middle Eastern diets and available wherever you can find…ah…agave syrup!

  5. “I’m not thinking about moving to the desert.”

    Wait, ETM (Estimated Time of Melting) April 1st. 68 days.

    OK, that was a lie!

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