A few weeks ago, the Healthy Eating team at Whole Foods Tenleytown reached out to ask whether I’d like to help lead an intro to raw foods class. I was delighted to say yes! I’ve been really impressed with the healthy eating initiatives the folks at WF Tenley are leading, and of course, it’s always a big treat for me to share raw food with people who are curious.
The healthy eating specialist who reached out to me was Kathleen Wood, whom I had actually met last year at my friend Anne’s bridal shower! Kathleen is super passionate about sharing healthy food and sound nutrition advice, and she does a wonderful job of organizing the classes and healthy eating initiatives at Tenley. Kathleen and I met up at one of my favorite coffee shops to brainstorm about which dishes would be accessible/easy to prepare for the event. We settled on the following:
- Green soup (blended salad)
- Collard wraps with Italian “pizza cheese” (a CR classic, which I’ve also modified for Food52)
- Banana soft serve
I liked these picks because they’re all pretty easy to make, easy to sample, and because I think they show off a lot of the freshness and taste of raw food. They’re also easy to customize. To me, most of the raw food recipes I like most are more “templates” or “ideas” than recipes. When I was describing the collard wraps, for example, I made clear that you can vary the veggie fillings, or the type of nut cheese you use, or you can use hummus or black bean dip instead. It’s really easy to make a lot of raw food basics your own.
I arrived at the class a few minutes early on Wednesday to prep–with my Our Hen House tote in tow, as always!
It’s always a little nerve wracking to introduce yourself, but I had a very warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic group of attendees. The wonderful gastroenterologist I work with here in D.C., Dr. Robynne Chutkan, also attended, which made my day!
We began with green soup! I mentioned that, while green smoothies are the currency of the raw foods movement, I’m a big fan of the humble blended salad. It’s nice to have a savory blended drink option, and they are a nice vehicle for seasonal herbs.
Here we are, blending away! Kathleen is a VitaMix master.
You can check out this post for all of my favorite green soup/blended salad recipes. This one was a riff on my zucchini dill soup, but I used cucumber and cilantro instead. It was a little tart (I’m always too heavy-handed with the lemon–it’s the Greek in me!) but very tasty.
Next, Kathleen demo-ed the collard wraps. If you haven’t tried them yourself yet, you should–I’ve got a tutorial that walks you through the steps. It was fun to show folks how easy it is to turn an imposing collard leaf into a delicious vehicle for fresh fillings. (Not sure why I’m staring with super creepy intensity at Kathleen’s chin in this photo…)
And then it came time for the star of any raw foods class I’ve lead: banana soft serve. It’s always such a treat to watch people be amazed by this dessert for the very first time.
I prefer to prepare my soft serve in the food processor, rather than the VitaMix, because I think it turns out richer. But the VitaMix made our demo easier, and it worked very well! Kathleen threw in a tiny bit of cashew milk to get things blending.
Needless to say, the samples were a hit 🙂
I had so much fun leading this class. No matter how many years I’ve been loving raw food prep, it’s still nice to be reminded of why and how they’re so creative and special. We got a ton of good audience questions, too, ranging from “do I need to take any supplements?” to “is spirulina worth it?” (My answers: whole foods are the better sources of vitamins and minerals than are supplements, but you do need to take B-12 as a vegan, and if your health care provider believes any other supplements would benefit your body, then it’s worth a conversation; and no, your money is probably better spent on organic produce than on spirulina, though there’s not much harm in trying it.)
It’s a joy to share vegan and raw food with others, and I hope I can lead another class sometime soon. What do you guys think of the dishes I chose? What would you consider your top “intro to raw food” recipes? I’d love to hear!
I wish you lovely weekends,