A new way to eat.

Photos and Text by Beau Gustafson

So are you feeling sluggish? Getting fat? Are you tired of fast food and eating out every meal? Have you tried every fad diet out there to the point  you are not sure what you should eat?   It may be time to get back to the basics of food.

I enlisted the help of Tina Kane, a raw foods aficionado here in Birmingham who coaches people on how to  incorporate more raw foods into their diets.  She has many clients who know they should be eating better but don’t know exactly how to begin.

So I asked Tina what’s up with raw foods and how I could get started.

“The thing is, food should not be all that complicated,” Tina says. “The closer it is to its origin, the better it is for you.”

The more raw food you incorporate into your diet, the more healthy,  vibrant and energetic you’ll become. The more healthful, nutrient-dense foods you add to your diet, the more your body becomes nourished and the less you crave processed, sugar-laden foods. Sounds simple, right? It is. And it really works.

At it’s simplest, start adding more raw veggies, nuts and fruits to your diet. Then start adding some raw food dishes. There are several good raw food cookbooks out there, but don’t let them scare you. You don’t have to grow all of your food. That’s why they have farmer’s markets, natural food stores and supermarkets.

Start simply with some salads and pack them full of stuff that you like, keeping one thought in mind—natural, raw and fresh ingredients. Then you can use some of those same ingredients to to start creating dishes that you wouldn’t believe are possible.

This is about taking control of your health, your food and ultimately your life.  Have fun with it.  Food is supposed to be a sensual experience, meaning that you should use all of your senses when eating.  Some call this “mindful eating.” Let’s start with how it smells.  When was the last time you actually smelled your food?!  How does it look?  Now, when you take a bite, how does it feel?  What is the temperature?  The texture?  Okay, one last thing.  It’s really important to chew your food.

Here are some ideas

Let’s start with breakfast.

This could be solely fruit, a smoothie, sprouted quinoa or sprouted oats, granola with almond milk, an avocado drizzled with honey, or a salad.  Add flax seed nuts, coconut flakes and honey to your fruit, and you’ve got a delicious and filling meal.  Oh, and eat as many bananas, strawberries, mangos, whatever, that you want. BE FULL.

On to lunch. Of course, a salad is always an option, but let’s add to our idea of a salad.  Include nuts, seeds, dried fruits (dried without sulphur), avocado (good fats) and make your own dressings.  Here’s an easy and healthy ranch recipe (to follow)…  nuts, especially walnuts, have an amazing diversity.Here are a few other recipes

Dinner and lunch are interchangeable, so what floats your boat?  What lights you up?  Pick an ingredient and run with it.  You’ll be surprised by all the ways it can be prepared.

One last thing: there is an energy in real food, whole food, that isn’t present in processed food.  Something to remember is that we are a part of nature, and we thrive on plants, seeds, nuts, whole grains.

Begin to pay attention to your body after you eat a meal.  What is it telling you?  Was that burger really what it needed?  Maybe if we begin to pay attention to our bodies and what they are telling us every day, there won’t be so much of a need for all of the antacids.  Just a thought.

Having tasted some of these recipes I was amazed how good the brownies, the  Raviolis and the Pave tasted. I hope you enjoy.


Raw Brownies

Raw Brownies

2 c. raw walnuts

1 c. unsulphured dates

1/3 c. cocoa powder

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until slightly chunky, approximately 30-45 sec.  Mold into balls or press into a dish.  Place in freezer for 30 mins.

Raw Taco Meat

Raw Taco Meat

2 cups of raw walnuts

1 1/2 teaspoons Cumin powder

3/4 teaspoon Coriander

2 tablespoons Bragg’s

pinch of cayenne

Blend the ingredients in a blender or food processor until the consistency of ground meat.the put in a Taco shell of lettuce and garnish with Avocado onion and bell peppers

Raw Sour Creme( not pictured)

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup raw cashews

1/4 tsp salt

juice of 1 small lemon

1/4 cup cold water

Cover cashews with water & soak for an hour or more.  Drain water and place nuts in food processor or blender.  Add water, salt, vinegar & lemon juice.  Blend for 3-4 mins or until completely smooth & creamy in consistency.

Raw Cheesecake

Raw Cheesecake

  • Crust

1 cup pecans
1 cup almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped

  • Filling

3 cups raw cashew pieces, soaked overnight (or at least 3 hours)

1/2 cup agave syrup

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (alcohol free is preferred for raw desserts)

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

  • Berry Coulis

2 cups chopped berries

3 tablespoons agave syrup

Lightly grease a 9 inch spring form pan with coconut oil and set aside.

To prepare the crust, pulse nuts and salt in a food processor fit with a metal blade. When nuts are fine crumbs, add the dates and pulse until the dough holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Firmly press crust into the bottom of prepared cake pan. Set aside.

To prepare the filling, pulse cashews in food processor until crumbly. Add agave, water, lime juice and vanilla and puree until very smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure you get everything. With the processor running, add the melted coconut oil in a steady stream.

Pour the filling into the cake pan. It will look like a smoothie and you’ll think no way it will set, but it will! Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to set. Make sure it’s level so that your cake doesn’t come out wonky. Let set for at least 4 hours.

Prepare the sauce when you’re close to serving. Just mash the strawberries up with the agave until it’s all red and syrupy.

To serve, place some Strawberry Coulis on the plate and serve the cake over it. Dig in!

Vegetable Raviolis

Vegetable Raviolis

Turnip Ravioli with Cashew Cheese Filling, Pepper Puree and Marinara

1 large turnip, peeled

  • For the filling:

3 c raw cashews soaked for 2 hours or more

1/4 c lemon juice

1 tbsp grated lemon zest

1/4 c nutritional yeast

1 1/4 – 2 tsp salt

2 green onions, white and 1 in of green minced

3 tbsp minced tarragon

2 tbsp minced parsley

In a food processor, blend the nuts, lemon juice and zest, yeast and salt until smooth.  Transfer the filling to a medium bowl and fold in the onions, tarragon and parsley.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.  The filling should have the consistency of ricotta cheese.  Store it covered in the refrigerator if not using right away;  it tastes best if you bring it back to room temperature before assembling and serving.

  • For the pepper puree:

3 red bell peppers, cored and cleaned

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 green onion, white part only

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 c pine nuts (plus 2 tbsp if needed) soaked 30 minutes to 1 hour

1 small pinch turmeric

In a high speed blender, blend all the ingredients until smooth.  If the sauce is too liquid, add an additional 1 – 2 tbsp of soaked pine nuts.  Place in a covered container and refrigerate if not using right away.

  • For the marinara:

1 1/2 c sun dried tomatoes

6 roma tomatoes or 4 large tomatoes

1 clove garlic

2-4 green onions, chopped

1 c fresh basil leaves

1/2 c fresh italian parsley leaves

1 sprig oregano and rosemary

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup

1 tsp lemon juice

Celtic sea salt and ground black pepper

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in just enough filtered water to cover them until soft (5-15 minutes).  Set aside.  Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds.  Dice the tomatoes and set aside.  In a food processor, finely chop garlic, green onions and herbs.  Add drained sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, honey or maple syrup and lemon juice and chop in pulses.  Do not blend smooth;  leave a touch of texture.  In a bowl, fold together the sundried tomatoe mixture with diced tomatoes.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

  • For the assembly:

2 large turnips

2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 tbsp lemon juice

Celtic sea salt

Using a mandoline, slice the turnips very thin.  In a medium bowl, add the slices, olive oil, lemon juice and a generous pinch of sea salt.  Toss to coat.

Take a turnip slice and place a dollop of cashew cheese in the center.  Press the edges together.  You’ve just made a raw ravioli!  Place the raviolis in a bowl, spoon the pepper puree around them and top with marinara.  May be warmed slightly in the oven at the lowest temperature

Portobello Mushroom Pave’ with White Asparagus Vinaigrette

Portobello Mushroom Pave


6 large portobello mushrooms

2 1/2 c filtered water

1/2 c nama shoyu

1/4 c minced, peeled fresh ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced

1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 c minced shallot

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

White Asparagus Vinaigrette

2 stalks white asparagus, trimmed

1/1/2 tsp chopped fresh mint

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp raw tahini

1/2 c plus 1 1/2 tsp white sesame seeds

1 tbsp minced shallot

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp ground coriander (fresh if possible)

1/2 c plus 2 tbsp filtered water

Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper

To make the pave’: Remove the stems and gills from the mushrooms.  Discard the stems and place the gills in a bowl.  Add the water and let stand while you slice the mushrooms.  Cut the mushrooms on the extreme diagonal into paper thin slices.

Combine the shoyu, ginger, chile, cilantro, shallot and lemon juice in a bowl.  Strain the liquid from the mushroom trimmings, discarding the solids and add the liquid to the shoyu mixture.  Carefully dip each mushroom slice into the shoyu mixture and lay the slices in the bottom of a shallow container.  Pour the remaining shoyu mixture over them.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Line a 4 x 4 x 2 pan with plastic wrap, allowing an overhang on 2 opposite sides.  Remove the mushroom slices from the liquid and layer them in the prepared pan, overlapping the slices and continuing until you have used all hte slices.  Cover with the overhanging plastic wrap and press down gently with your hand.  Top with another pan that fits inside the rim, then place a weight on the second pan.  Refrigerate the pave for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.  Before serving, remove the weight and the second pan, then invert the pave onto a cutting board and peel away the plastic wrap.  Cut into 4 equal pieces, reserving any juices.

To make the vinaigrette: Slice the white asparagus into 1/3 in long pieces.  combine the asparagus pieces and mint in a bowl and toss to mix.  In a blender combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds, shallot, garlic, coriander and water and process until smooth.  Fold into the asparagus mixture and season with salt and pepper.

2 Responses to “Raw”

  1. Becky Guinn says:

    Spectacular information; looking forward to tying these ideas and recipes.

  2. shilpa says:

    awesome, blissful recipes…surely going to try them!
    Please do send me some more raw food receipes on my e-mail address.


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