I first fell for the raw brownie, then the raw bliss balls and pretty soon I was riding the raw dessert train all the way to cheesecake nirvana. You could say I’m a baker turned master of the food processor.
So what’s all the fuss about raw desserts? And is it really better for you? The raw food movement is gaining huge momentum in foodie circles, fuelled by green smoothies and the urge to get back to food in it’s natural form. I was introduced to eating raw by the ‘rockstar’ of raw food and lecturer at my school David Wolfe; and more recently at a workshop run by the lovely Maz from Sadhanna Kitchen. Both advocate the eating of food as close to it’s natural form as possible, and have made careers from sharing their love for all things uncooked.
Put simply, the main principals of raw food are:
- A diet made up entirely of raw, organic, uncooked, unprocessed food is essential for optimal health
- Heating food above 46 degrees destroys the digestive enzymes and reduces the nutritional value of food
Raw foodies are in most cases vegan, and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, grains, beans, nuts, dried fruit, and seaweed.
Now, as with any kind of new fad – I always believe a considered approach is key. I believe there’s ups and downs to every way of eating and new ‘diet’ – and as long as you’re doing your best to eat whole natural foods then you’re on the right track. Let’s just say I don’t see myself ditching my favourite pumpkin soups, hot cups of tea or comforting bowls of porridge any time soon! Plus for interest sake, in traditional Chinese medicine a diet made up of entirely raw food is not encouraged as it is believed to create an imbalance in the body and over-stresses the digestive system. Ahh yes welcome to the confusing world of nutrition!
One thing I do 100% believe in is the huge benefits that come with upping the amount of fresh unprocessed food we eat every day. Getting those nutrients in, without messing about with them in any way can only lead to good things for your insides. Me? I simply try for a bit of raw in every meal, be it a salad on the side of a main meal, a green smoothie in the morning, or a vegetable juice to really get things cranking. ‘Raw for 30 days’ is a fab documentary about raw food and it’s effect on Type 2 Diabetes if you’re interested in finding out more.
So by now you’re thinking – when is she going to the raw lemon slice? Okay hold onto your hats, because the very best part about the increased popularity of raw food – is most certainly raw desserts. Picture your favourite dessert, and then think of eating it minus the processed sugar, refined flour or butter. Then picture it still tasting amazing, and being full of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre. I don’t know about you but that calls for a happy dance.
Raw desserts use a smart combination of nuts, grains, seeds, nut milks, natural sweeteners and fruit to re-create traditional treats in a more natural and healthy way. For example cacao + dates = a rich chocolatey flavour. Processed cashews can be turned into a creamy base for sauces and desserts. Combine nuts and dates and hey presto, you’ve got a sweet tart or slice base. Cool right?
As I mentioned I’ve dabbled in the odd raw delight, from cheesecake, truffles, bliss balls to of course my favourite raw brownie. Today I decided to create a healthy (and raw!) version of a lemon slice. Traditionally made with granita biscuits, condensed milk, and sugar; my raw version utilises bananas, dates and oats instead. I’ve taken this slice to a few parties and afternoon teas and it’s always met with a lot of enthusiasm. Be prepared for questions such as: ‘so, this is healthy?’ Yep. ‘And no refined sugar?’ Nope. Really? Yep. :)
What you’ll need:
- 3/4 cup rolled oats (use gluten free oats or substitute buckwheat groats to make the recipe gluten free)
- 1 cup pitted Medjool dates
- 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 of a cup of raw cashews
- 1/2 a cup of shredded coconut
- 2 small, ripe bananas
- 1/4 of a cup of coconut oil, room tempurature
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup or sweetener of choice
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- Zest of 1 large lemon
How to go about it:
- For the base – process the oats, coconut and dates in a food processor until it forms a crumb that sticks together in your fingers. Press the mixture into your slice tray to form the thick base. Try to keep this layer even by pressing down firmly with the back of a spoon.
- Next, blend the icing together. Process the coconut and cashews together until forms a fine crumb. Then add the remaining ingredients into your processor and whiz until smooth. Adjust to meet you taste – more lemon, sweetener or perhaps a few more cashews if you want a thicker consistency. Go nuts!
- Spread evenly onto the base and sprinkle with coconut. Leave in the fridge overnight to set.