Hope you’re enjoying a great weekend.
One of my very favorite challenges as a counselor is helping my clients to find healthy alternatives to some of their less-than-healthy favorites. This is not only rewarding for obvious reasons (helping a client to make healthy upgrades in his or her life) but also because it’s incentive for me to challenge myself in the kitchen! More often than not, helping a client find a healthy “upgrade” means coming up with a fun recipe. And I love the challenge.
A few weeks ago, one of my lovely clients made a special request: a raw version of Annie’s Goddess Dressing (her store-bought favorite) to make her salads a little more enticing. I was excited about this request for several reasons. The first is obvious: I love giving anyone an incentive to eat more greens!! The second is personal: I love coming up with raw dressings, as I consider them a versatile staple of a raw diet. A great dressing, as we all know, can make or break a salad. And dressings can also serve as dips, sauces, zucchini pasta dressing, and more. Finally, I was excited to make my client happy: it was obviously by the way that she spoke about the popular Annie’s dressing that it’s a tremendous favorite of hers, and that she misses it.
To be clear, I have no issue with Annie’s dressings. As far as processed foods go, the Annie’s products tend to have a great deal of integrity. They and Harriet’s Organic dressings are the two that I recommend to clients when they need a great dressing in a pinch. This particular client, though, is very far along in her raw journey – she eats mostly raw and vegan, and she is beginning to love making raw foods from scratch. So she’s seeking out all raw and homemade alternatives to her old faves.
And this is where I come in. I decided I’d give my client a hybrid: a mix of the Goddess dressing (which, as you all probably know, has hints of sesame and garlic) and the Green Goddess dressing, which tastes mildly of dill. The result? Awesome. I confess, I was never such a fan of the original dressing, but I am a huge fan of this one!
Whenever I formulate dressings for clients, I begin by mixing all ingredients without garlic and onion, reserve a portion of the garlic-free dressing for myself, and add garlic at the end, to taste for my theoretical “audience.” So bear in mind that the garlic and onion in this recipe is totally optional, though it will certainly taste more like the Annie’s original if you add them both. Enjoy!
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp + 1 tsp nama shoyu
1 tsp mellow white miso
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp toasted sesame oil (not 100% raw, but…)
2 tbsp raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar, such as Bragg’s or Eden Organic
1 cup parsley, tightly packed
½ cup dill, tightly packed
½ cup water
1 clove garlic (optional)
1-2 green onions, chopped (optional)
Blend all ingredients on high in a food processor, magic bullet, or blender (if using a food processor, you might want to chop the garlic first).
Dress your salads, dress up raw romaine wraps, or even feel free to use this in lieu of mayonnaise on sandwiches for a fresh taste. Or, do what I did, and dress up some veggie crudités for a raw snack!
Speaking of snacks, I have another review of Pure Market Express meals for you! This snack (slightly more elaborate than my own humble one above) was the chili lime crackers and jalapeno cheese. The verdict? Delicious! Most raw crackers tend to have thick textures: flaxseed or nut based, they’re typically on the grainy side. These crackers, though, are delicate, thin, and crispy: they reminded my quite a bit of your typical blue corn chips (if you’re curious, I don’t have a raw recipe for those, but I do really like the Guiltless Gourmet brand and recommend it to clients). And the cheese was great, too. Tangy and flavorful, it’s heavy on the acid (which I like). A winner!
I really appreciated reading your polite criticism of raw delivery services. Don’t get me wrong, you did a great job of detailing all the great things about Pure Market Express, too! Yet it was your awareness and honesty about the possible downsides of such a service that I found really insightful.
For me, one of the things I like most about the raw food lifestyle is that it, by its very nature, gets one’s diet away from processed foods and towards whole foods. And as you point out, this change does not necessarily mean a commitment of several extra hours in the kitchen every day; it can be accomplished simply by making more conscious food choices and planning. But as I see more and more raw snacks and bars filling store aisles, and now raw food delivery services popping up, I am worried that the raw food lifestyle is, like so many other things, being co-opted by the food industry, for its own ends.
Now I think you’re right to point out that such raw delivery services provide good “gateway” raw meals for newcomers, as well as good last minute meals for raw foodists who suddenly find themselves without much time. And I think you’re right that the founders of Pure Market Express started their company with only the best and raw-positive intentions. And it’s true that delivery service raw food is much better than ordering pizza or going out to Applebee’s, in the same way that buying organic cereal is better than buying conventional, sugary cereals. But at the same time, I like to believe that both the organic and the raw food lifestyle are about more than just changing the direction of our consumerism; they are, rather, about making profound changes in the ways in which we consume.
I guess I’m writing just to hear your opinions on these issues. I know raw food means a lot of different things to different people, but what do you see as the core principles of the raw food lifestyle, and do you think they are compatible with the traditional workings of the food industry?
Thanks so much,
What a terrific comment, Willie. Thanks. And you can probably predict my response here. To me, the fundamental principles of a raw lifestyle are these: creating simple meals from plants, nuts and seeds, fruits, and grains. Eating food in plain combinations. Thinking about eating not as a primarily social rite, but as self-nourishment. And yes, Willie, I believe that it’s in keeping with the raw lifestyle to avoid consumerism and product sampling as much as possible.
This is a funny time for you to be raising this issue, because it’s only in the last month or two that I’ve remembered to request a few product samples from various raw companies for my blog. Naturally, I am (and will continue to be) grateful to those who’ve obliged me, not only for the food I’ll be eating, but for their work in giving consumers healthier versions of many packaged foods on the market. Even so, you’ll see that the products I review are as minimally processed as possible: nut butters, seaweeds, dried fruits. You won’t see a ton of raw analogs of conventional fast foods (crackers, cookies, and so on).
Certainly, I believe that raw versions of cooked favorites serve a function: these foods and meals can be the turning point for many people who discover the raw lifestyle. And as long as they show consumers that raw foods are delicious and satisfying, I’m glad that they’re in the world. But of course, I’m even gladder when my clients (or anyone who’s showing an interest in raw cuisine) begins to appreciate simple food; when he or she begins to savor a minimally dressed salad, or a simple soup, rather than craving raw versions of traditional “comfort food.”
I once had an amusing conversation with a friend. He’d asked me what my five favorite foods were, and I’d responded with my answer:
He noted that virtually everyone else he’d asked had responded with something akin to his own list:
In other words, they’d responded with dishes, rather than foods – end products, rather than building blocks.
This is, of course, an extreme example: I like to a particularly simple set of foods, while my friend likes exceptionally traditional kinds of comfort food. Most people, I’m guessing, would respond with a mix of simple, plant-based foods and more elaborate favorite dishes. But you guys get the idea: I think of food in terms of the raw materials, rather than the end products, while my friend thinks conversely.
It’s my most sincere hope that this blog helps you all to re-connect with the building blocks. And maybe along the way you’ll start to rethink the very notion of what a “meal” or a “dish” means.
Naturally, raw lasagna and cheesecake don’t help to battle our consumerist tendencies or help to redefine what “food” (meal vs. building block) is. But they help to build a very vital bridge between the paradigm in which most of us were raised, and the very simple lifestyle that eating raw can offer us. For that reason, they have my support and endorsement—especially since the recipes I tend to offer you guys are so simple! I give you raw dressing + sugar snap peas; Pure Market Express offers you cheese and crackers. Depending on your tastes and what you’re hoping to experience with raw foods, one of these two may appeal more than the other. But I’m grateful for both—to one for reminding me that a perfect snack can mean a bowl of simply dressed, seasonal veggies, and to the other for reminding me that even the simplest building blocks can yield foods that are innovative and comforting.
Thanks for contributing to a great conversation, Willie! Please check out the comments section of my last post to see some of the other remarkable comments that were offered.
I’m off to the Jersey Shore for what unfortunately looks like a rainy Sunday! Have a good one.