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