While many of us only recently heard about “raw foodism,” chef, author, and well-being expert Ani Phyo actually grew up eating raw. She’s since built a lifestyle around healthier eating…that isn’t quite like what her parents taught. We asked for her fresh outlook on raw food:
Q. What was your parents’ diet like?
A. My dad would eat a whole raw bell pepper because it was healthy. You know, just blend whatever vegetables are good for you from your organic garden, and it didn’t matter about flavor or color or anything. You just blended whatever was ripe and just drank it down and held your breath. My dad ate this extreme way because of a health issue. He ate raw food to extend his life. It’s what I call “Raw Food 1.0.” Back then, there weren’t any raw food restaurants, and no one considered the combination of foods or plating. It was done completely for health reasons or for moral ones.
Q. What’s different about your raw food style?
A. What I call “Gourmet Raw 2.0″ is more like a food movement. Just because something is raw, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily healthy. Some raw food restaurants use too many nuts and don’t worry about food combining. And people that are only eating functional raw foods are actually being so strict that they may be creating more stress—like it’s another form of anorexia. I’m all about longevity, detoxing, community, giving back to others, vitality, fitness. It’s more than just eating a bowl of raw vegetables because it’s good for you.
Q. A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of prepping raw food. Is it very involved?
A. I [teach] Ani’s Raw Food Certification Course – Level One . . .I’m just using a food processor and a blender and that’s it. Super fast and super easy recipes and the complexity is in the plating. You can make a dressing and water it down to make a soup, or make a smoothie and using less water, you can make a creme. A handful of ingredients can be handled and blended in different ways to create complexity on the plate. (Scroll down for recipes!)
Q. Where do you go to eat?
A. I love Whole Foods‘ salad bar. They have good quinoa salads with different vegetables and they have undressed greens and organic wild mixes, spring mix and spinach and stuff like that. Today, I’ll grab a kombucha, probiotics (Bio-K) and an organic green salad topped with roasted beets—not everything they have in the salad bar is raw, obviously.
I love Juliano’s Planet Raw in Santa Monica, especially their Medicinal Salad. LifeFood Organic in Hollywood I love, too. They have a great burger made out of mushroom. I also love this place called Moon Juice in Venice where they have fresh vegetable juices.
Q. Do you have any yummy recipes you can share with us?
A. Yes! This is a raw BLT sandwich made from sunflower bread, aioli mayonnaise and coconut bacon. (Recipe courtesy of Ani Phyo and Da Capo Press, from Ani’s Raw Food Essentials.)
Makes 9 servings
“This hearty yet soft bread is made with sunflower seeds, flax meal, and celery.”
1 1⁄2 c. chopped celery
3 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
1 1⁄2 c. flax meal
1 to 1 1⁄4 c. water, as needed
Place the celery in a food processor and process into small pieces. Add the sunflower seeds and process into small pieces. Add the flax meal and water, and mix well, using only enough water to make a spreadable batter.
Spread the batter evenly on one 14-inch-square lined Excalibur Dehydrator tray. Dehydrate for 4 hours at 104°F degrees. Flip and peel off the ParaFlexx, then place back on the liner and score into nine slices with a butter knife. Be careful not to cut through the mesh. Dehydrate for another 2 to 4 hours, or to desired consistency.
Makes 1 cup
“This creamy, rich, smooth mayonnaise with a garlic kick can be used in sandwiches, burgers, and wraps—you won’t even miss the version full of animal products!”
1 c. macadamia, cashew, and/or pine nuts
3⁄4 c. filtered water, or as needed
1 tsp. minced garlic, or to taste
1⁄2 tsp. sea salt
Blend all ingredients into a smooth mayonnaise, adding more water as needed to produce your desired consistency.
Store for 4 to 5 days in a tightly lidded glass jar in the fridge.
Makes 4 servings
“Thai baby coconut is a favorite raw food for its electrolyte-rich living water. Plus, the inside of each coconut is lined with the coconut meat used to make this recipe. The thickness of each coconut’s meat varies from thinner, more translucent in color, and gelatinous in consistency to harder, whiter, and thicker—sometimes up to ¼-inch thick. The thicker meats make for better bacon, only because it shrinks a lot during dehydration. Adding a few drops of liquid smoke will give your bacon a barbecue flavor.”
2 c. coconut meat (from 3 to 4 Thai baby coconuts)
3 Tbsp. Nama Shoyu or Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 Tbsp. olive oil
a few drops of liquid smoke flavoring (optional)
When scraping the meat out of your coconuts, try to keep pieces as large as possible. Clean the meat by running your fingers over its surface, picking off any pieces of hard husk. Rinse with filtered water as a last step, and drain well.
Place the coconut meat in a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss to mix well. Lay the meat in a single layer on two 14-inch square Excalibur Dehydrator trays.
Dehydrate for 6 to 8 hours at 104°F. The length of time will depend on how thick your coconut meat is. Check it and dry it to your liking. Don’t overdehydrate, because the more you dry it, the more it will shrink, and you’ll be left with only a small amount of bacon.
Options: Replace the smoke flavor with herbs and spices to make different flavors. Try chipotle powder, garlic, dill, or oregano.
Check out Ani’s Raw Food Certification Courses or join Ani online on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.