Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Raw! or Raw?: An Opinion in Progress

I think it's pretty clear that I have a love for sweets. Anyone who writes a blog about baking and who can finally take the leap to veganism because she's gained confidence that tasty desserts will follow is pretty much a dead giveaway. Unfortunately, this also means that I basically can't keep sweets in the house. If there's a cookie within arm's reach (or sadly, climb on a chair reach), that tasty morsel doesn't have a prayer for survival.

I just figured whatever latent sugar addiction I seem to have would doom me to a life of restriction and not keeping yummy treats in my house since I apparently have no self-control. And then, a magical thing happened - a friend suggested I try a raw diet. She said that it helps control appetite and that, even though everything is free of processed sugar, the desserts tend to be sweeter and hit the spot without the sugar addiction.

I was intrigued by this notion, but then she asked me - what do I think about the raw diet? The answer: I don't (or rather, at the time, I didn't). I didn't know anything about it so I felt I couldn't draw an opinion about it, but I wasn't compelled to get information about it, either. Before I launched into raw experimentation, I started to read up on the subject.

Now that I've read two books on raw foodism, my opinion is...well, it's still a work in progress. I think some of the principles of going raw, while others trigger the "common sense" button and reinforce that I'm not the type to go totally raw. For example, the authors have talked about how going raw is very filling because the food stuffs are all full of fiber, which is a great plus for weight loss. I definitely agree with that, and I have made a point of incorporating raw snacks into my day and having some raw sides with my cooked entree. Other stuff just seems off. For example, one author stated that when you go totally raw, you can just follow your body's cravings. That means some days she'll just eat oranges and avocados, and she'll feel ethereal all day. I can't help but wonder if she feels ethereal because she's starving.

Nonetheless, I decided to start experimenting with raw desserts. I decided that, since I don't exactly eat treats for nutritional value, I should try the raw versions of some sweets. Since I just wanted something that tastes good, I truly didn't care about the purported health advantages of eating raw.

Happily, I was thrilled to find out that raw desserts (or at least the ones I've tried so far) are delicious! They are mostly made out of nuts and fruit, so no sugar addiction, and the surplus of fiber in the final product sated my appetite very quickly. And of course, the most important thing - they fill the bill when I need a treat!

One item that has been particularly popular in my house and with guests is raw apple pie, I recipe I tried from Any Phyo's book The Raw Food Kitchen. I've made it a few times now, and it's always a winner. It is both sweet with crunchy apples at the same time, and the crust is to die for. Plus, instead of clearing out half a pie tin (like I am fully capable of doing), one slice is totally satisfying and my craving is curbed.

As I experiment more with the raw food diet, I will post my winners and failures. For now, enjoy this classic apple pie without turning on your oven!

The Best Raw Apple Pie (adapted from Ani Phyo)
Yields: One pie

Crust ingredients:
2 c. almonds
2-4 c. pitted dates
Scant salt

1 orange, peeled
1/2 c. pitted dates

3 large apples, thinly sliced (skins on or off is up to you)
1 c. raisins (or a handful, if you're lazy like me)
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1) To make the crust: pulse almonds in food processor until you have small, ground up almond bits. (Be sure to pulse - if you go too fast, you'll make almond butter.) Add salt, and gradually pulse in dates. Start with two cups, and keep adding dates until the crust starts to stick together. This could be a huge number of dates; don't sweat it. When the crust is done, pat down into a pie pan like a regular pie crust.
2) To make the syrup, liquefy orange in a blender. Blend in dates. Gradually add water until you have a syrupy consistency.
3) To make the filling, mix together the syrup with the apples, raisins, and cinnamon. Fill pie crust, and you're done!

Keeps beautifully in the fridge (yes, the apples stay crunchy and don't turn brown!); just cover with plastic.


  1. I can testify to how yummy this one is! Pretty sure that, in a pinch, I could be satisfied just with the simple-but-amazing almond/date crust :)

  2. Thanks so much, Katie! Although to my readers, take her compliment with a grain of salt - she is crazy enough to handle petting Molly, Sheila, and Lucy at once while they are trying to cover her with kisses. ;)

    Katie and I spent the 4th making dinner, although "dinner" actually meant "pizza and three desserts." Look for a post on our pizza making soon!