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Preparing for Preparing

It seems most people have time issue when it comes to preparing raw food and quite often people asked questions about how to make the whole “raw food thing” easy. “I just don’t have time” or “Doesn’t it take a lot of time”, does these sound familiar? Well it can be if you’re not prepared to prepare your food. Setting yourself up to put meals together quickly is one of the keys to dramatically decreasing the time spent in the kitchen. My tricks and little tid-bits came about when I was first starting out, mind you at that time there where no raw food restaurants and no where to order foods and snacks online. These products at that time just simply didn’t exist. Being the determined pioneering person I am I quickly developed a few practices that really helped ease the pain of preparing food on my own. Though I cannot take all the credit myself as my partner at the time was more devoted to raw and maybe even more creative than I was. After all like attracts like right.
The speed bumps in preparing raw food began to show themselves once we started preparing foods that could accommodate meals for more than one day. As we developed dishes we like and hone the processes to fulfill those recipes we began to find routines that reoccurred. Some were quite fast, painless and did not cramp our lifestyles, so-to-speak, where some were not so user-friendly. I know from experience that is an issue even if you’re cooking. It is really about taking control of what you eat rather than using pre-packaged “ready-to-eat” products.

One of the first situations was the shopping so that we would have a full pantry and full refrigerator. The key to preparing quickly is to have what you need in house and on hand ready to go. If you had to wash, rinse, drain, dry, clean, de-stem all before every meal you most likely wouldn't do it.

Speed-bump number one. I needed to open the fridge, grab some stuff, toss in the blender and make a soup. I might also toss some veggies and mushrooms with a dressing and let it marinate while I drink my juice and have a quick after-work shower before I sat down to dinner.

So how did we do it?

What was our trick?

One day a week, usually Sunday for us, we did our shopping. Once we got home we filled the sink with filtered water and squeezed one lemon into it, a splash of raw apple cider vinegar can also do the trick. This helps cut whatever might be sprayed on the outside of the veggies. Than we tossed all our veggies in, zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon radish, spinach, kale, chard, broccoli… and let it soak. While that was soaking we would work on putting away the dry and pantry items i.e. dried fruits, spices, chia seeds, carob powder… After the veggies had soaked for 10 to 20 minutes we would separate and spread everything out on a towel on the table and let it dry. You can also pat down the top of the veggies with another towel to speed things up a bit. Realistically so far we are talking about 30 minutes of work at this point. Not such a big deal, right? Now, your food prep time is cut in half.
Storage was the next issue. How to store this food so it was ready to eat and still fresh in the days to come?


This we achieved using good quality zip-lock bags. The zucchini, bell pepper, onions, cucumber… could just go into the fridge without a problem but the greens need to be kept fresh and crispy. Be sure they are now completely dry, put them in a zip-lock bag and zip it all the way till there was about 1/4inch left open. Hold the opening up to your mouth and suck all the air out until the greens are literally compressed in the bag, then close it up while you’re still sucking out the air. If you have one of those vacuum packing kitchen storage machines then kudos to you.
 

Ether way this works like a charm, I opened bags of spinach on the following Friday cleaned washed and ready to go and were still as fresh and crisp as can be. You can even bag smaller portions so soups and juices can be made from one bag at a time.

The other big speed-bump in raw food preparation was the soaking and sprouting of nuts, seed and grains. At that time there were only a few book published on raw foods like Nomi Shannon’s, Raw Gourmet, David and Annie Jubbs “Life Food Recipe Book”, and “Living in the Raw” by Rose Lee Calabro. These books all describe and demonstrate complex soaking and sprouting charts and techniques. Not necessary at all! Mother Nature does not have any charts. She just brings the spring rainfall and things sprout. This is what I discovered and my method is easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. Put your seed or grains in water overnight. Fill well over the top so as they swell they will remain submersed.
2. Strain in strainer or colander. Place colander on top of a bowl so the excess water can drain.
3. Rinse mornings and evening placing the colander back on top of the bowl to allow draining.

That’s it. Once you see the tips start to poke out and a little sprout begins you can place them in the refrigerator and they are ready whenever you are. As for nuts, there are only three that need to be soaked. Pecans, Walnuts and Almonds (if you can get them raw), the brown skins on these nuts contain an Enzyme Inhibitor that needs to be washed off. Soak over-night, drain and dry, then store in the fridge till you need them.

Till next week
Raw Chef Dan

 

 



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