Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The dehydrator arrives - and I'm not sure I'm ready for it

After the series of mishaps concerning the dehydrator Rob ordered over two months ago, it finally arrived while we were at the Raw Union fest in Southern Oregon. I am happy to finally have it, but uncertain of what to do with it. After the abundance of creativity at the Raw Union, I think I am gourmeted-out.

I completely enjoyed the ability to purchase raw tostadas, tacos, pizza, ice cream (my Achilles heel) and brownies. It felt over-the-top amazing to be in a place where everything was raw
and there was nothing I felt I couldn't have. There were somethings, however, I felt I shouldn't have.

I was very surprised by the presence of Agave at the festival - almost everything contained Agave! Not just the brownies, ice cream, and wedding cakes, but the smoothies and the taco spreads as well. I had thought that the majority of the raw community felt uncertain about agave, as I do. I find the taste entirely unappealing, a kind of crawly metallic tang on the back right of my tongue that gives me an immediately unsettled feeling. So imagine my displeasure when nearly everything that a girl with a serious sweet-teeth would like (ice cream, cookies, doughnuts!) contained agave.

I had the pleasure of meeting John, the man behind www.living-foods.com. He agrees that agave has far too much prevalence in raw foods. This is what he says about agave on his website :

"While this "concentrated sweetner" is very popular in raw cuisine, I believe it has no place in a truly "raw" diet. This is primarily due to the fact that it is a concentrated sweetner. The "nectar" is collected or "cooked" out of the agave plant, then must be "cooked" or dehydrated down, much like "boiling down" maply syrup. There is even some rumors about "corn syrup" and other sweeteners being added to "raw" agave nectar to give it the sweet taste. In any case, it is a processed, product, and not a raw, whole food in my opinion."

I was also very suprised at the prevalence of "superfoods" such as raw cocoa, various powders, oils, supplements and other things that I consider very highly processed and therefore not exactly the optimal thing to eat. I was under the impression that the entire point of the raw lifestyle was the avoidance of highly processed foods that are not as they would be found in nature. On what basis can we promote and defend the raw food diet if it is primarily composed of isolated and concentrated compounds that have been broken down and manipulated by human technology? On the one hand, I understand this superfood craze as it involves so many miraculous plants and promises concerning nutrition and health. But on the other hand, I have read many arguments for eating our food whole and in its naturally balanced state. It is true that scientists still do not have a good understanding ofhow the ratio of different nutrients in our food aid in absorption of different minerals and vitamins. A good example of this is that the presence of vitamin C aids the absoprtion of iron.

I will be thinking more about what degree of processing I would like to include in my diet and I hope others will too. I will see how I like using the dehydrator. After the abundance of dehydrated and gourmet foods at the wedding, I am feeling an even greater attraction to a diet more akin to fruitarianism or the 80/10/10 diet. For our first go-round, Rob made us some buckwheat sandwiches. Here's what we made for din-din tonight.

Mashed Mexican Potato
I copied this recipe into my notebook from somewhere online, I really can't recall where now. But it is quite reminiscent of mashed potatoes, only a little sweeter. It will definitly come in handy during the cold comfort-craving months in winter.

  • 4 cups Jicama, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups soaked cashews
  • 1 tsp diced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp salt (the recipe called for 1 tsp, but I feel that is far too much salt for anyone's health)
  • black pepper to taste

Blend it all up in whatever you have with a motor. The texture is pleasing, slightly crunchy and fluffy. I also added chopped up spinach for a little color.

Rob loved eating his first sandwich since going raw, but said my jicama mash was the best thing on the menu :)

So there's your food for thought from me, the cabbage patch kid.

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