Raw Tomato Bread

by Gena on April 14, 2011

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Breaking news: I broke out my dehydrator today! Oh yes I did. With a bag of sundried tomatoes in my pantry, and a container of organic plum tomatoes in my fridge, I took to making my own version of raw tomato bread, and the results were fabulous.

Before I get to all of that, though, I wanted to call some attention to a recent article in Vegan Mainstream’s excellent and provocative “Vegan Uncensored” series. The article, entitled “The Problem with Veganism for Weight Loss,” addresses some of the difficulties that can arise from treating veganism as a weight loss plan, and it’s written by my very thoughtful, intelligent, and tough-minded friend, Sarah E. Brown. (To offer a full disclosure, Sarah mentions Choosing Raw in the article, but I didn’t know she intended to!)

When I recently wrote on the ethics of veganism for my friend JL, I touched on the fact that people explore veganism for all sorts of reasons. “A lot of you are reading because you’ve gotten interested in veganism for its health benefits,” I said. “That’s great. All paths into the vegan lifestyle lead to good things: if you’re exclusively interested in health—in optimizing your own life—you’ll still save countless other lives, too. Not to mention the life of our planet. Going vegan is a win-win decision.”

I stand by that sentiment: plant based diets save lives, no matter what the impetus. But if there’s any motive for eating vegan that concerns me, it’s the pursuit of weight loss. First of all, it’s important for new vegans to remember that, while it’s likely that eating a plant-based diet will result in weight loss (when weight loss is needed), it’s not a guarantee. Veganism, like any way of eating, varies with the habits of the person eating. Any vegan can eat vegan cookies, pies, cakes, and ice cream to an excess and gain weight (just as an omnivore would by eating those foods to excess). And there are more subtle reasons why a new vegan may retain or even gain a few pounds—too many refined carbs, too many fats or desserts, too much sugar. In any of these cases, veganism isn’t to blame: rather, the new vegan simply needs to refine how they approach the diet.

I worry that, when people try and fail to lose weight with veganism, they may think that something is “wrong” with them, or blame veganism for the failure. Sarah, however, brings up an even more urgent concern, which is that treating veganism like a diet is highly problematic from an animal rights perspective. I’m sympathetic to those who opt to eat vegan for health reasons, since the health advantages are clear, but approaching veganism like a “diet plan” seems—at least to me–to unfairly limit what veganism is capable of offering. Not all vegans are animal rights sympathizers, but most vegans see veganism as a lifestyle, rather than a diet. And as someone who originally explored veganism for health reasons only, I can attest that, when the light of compassion is flipped on, the world is illuminated in new and wonderful ways.

If veganism is to be treated like a diet, what happens after the weight is lost? Most people, as Sarah points out, see diets as a set of food “rules,” and are happy to bend the rules when the diet’s over. So after a weight loss goal is reached, does the person eating vegan go back to dairy, fish, or meat?

Of course veganism can yield weight loss. But at its core, veganism is a lifestyle that’s animated by a sense of respect for life. It seems like a shame to frame veganism solely as a “diet,” because most diets are temporary. If people can improve their lives and sense of self confidence through vegan weight loss, great: I’m thrilled to see anyone’s life enriched through plant-based eating! But it’s not so great if animals suffer once again when a personal goal is reached. (Of course, we can be grateful that animals were saved, even for a month or a two.) If you’re interested, check Sarah’s article out. I’d love to know what my readers—vegan and non—think.

And now, food!!

It’s always a big day here at CR when I decided to dust off my dehydrator. But when my semester started, I vowed to start using the darn thing more often, and I am dutifully making good on that vow. What better way than with raw bread, which is delicious, versatile, and a wonderful option for GF or grain adverse diners. Or for people like me, who get really bored of the same Ezekiel bread week in and week out.

I really enjoy raw bread—I went through a big raw bread bonanza last summer, as you may recall:

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…but it’s very rare that I make it myself, either because I’m lazy, or because I’m afraid of messing it up (and since we’re all about honest food failures lately, let me tell you: I have had some tremendous flops with raw bread!). That’s why I’m so happy that I put my tomatoes to use this week, and made this bread, which is as easy as it is tasty.

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Raw Tomato Bread (raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)

Makes 8 large pieces

5 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
3/4 cup flax meal
1 tbsp tamari or nama shoyu (substitute sea salt to taste if you’re allergic to soy)
1 tsp oregano (dried)
2 tsps basil (dried
1 clove garlic
Black pepper to taste
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1) Blend all ingredients but sunflower seeds together in a high speed blender till thick. Add sunflower seeds and blend till mixture is thick and uniform, but the seeds lend a tiny bit of texture.

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2) Turn mixture out onto a teflex dehydrator sheet and use a spatula or inverted knife to spread it out evenly on the sheet:

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3) Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 8 hours. Flip the bread, score it into 8 pieces on the wet side, and dehydrate for another 4-6 hours, till totally dry.

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Delicious!

I served mine with some of my hemp hummus, tomato, avocado, and cucumber. I also purposefully cut the bread into larger slices: typically I make my raw bread slices too tiny, which makes for sandwiches that fail to quell the Gena appetite Smile

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Not this guy. With kale salad, it was an awesome and filling, high-raw dinner.

If you don’t own a food dehydrator:

Don’t fret. I almost never use mine. I tend to find that baking at 175 with the oven door ajar is wasteful and takes too long, so I suggest baking raw breads at 300 or 325 degrees (depending on how hot your oven is) for about 25-30 minutes on each side. You will not destroy all of the health properties of the bread! Far better to enjoy than avoid for lack of a dehydrator.

Hope you’re inspired to give this bread—which is really a cross between flatbread and giant cracker—a try. For another option, you can use this as raw, vegan pizza crust by leaving your sandwich open-faced or cutting the dough into a large circle.

Back tomorrow with a special CR business profile and interview!

xo

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) April 14, 2011 at 9:58 pm

When I read the first sentence in this post I gasped; I read it as you broke your dehydrator! Glad I misread! The raw bread looks fabulous, though, I think I would want to make it thicker and less like a cracker. Not sure if that’s possible! I have a dehydrator but the high temp is something like 148 and it’s not adjustable. Hope to have the brand you use soon, it’s on my wish list! :)

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Sarah April 14, 2011 at 10:00 pm

That’s a great article. I actually complain more than I should about this claim that veganism will bring weight loss. My friends are probably sick of it by now. But I am a very health-focussed vegan who eats a very sensible diet and works out a lot. When I became vegan, it was for ethical reasons, but in the back of my mind I know I was looking for the benefits that people talked about…the glowing skin, the weight just falling off, the boundless energy. I got none of it. Perhaps it was because I was already eating a near-vegan diet and have always eaten tons and tons of veggies. I don’t know what it was. But I did indeed gain a little weight going vegan, and my skin went bad around the same time I went vegan (I am not certain veganism was to blame – I also switched birth control – but the skin problems have continued to plague me!). And my energy stayed exactly the same.

Whilst I recognise and appreciate the many health and wellbeing benefits of veganism for many people, I get a little miffed when people tried to entice people in the lifestyle that way. If I had gone vegan to lose weight and increase my energy, I would have dropped the lifestyle then and there because what happened to me was exactly the opposite. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed, but I was indeed determined. And now I seem to make it my life’s mission to assure people that if they go vegan and they don’t suddenly become glowing, energetic, svelte pictures of health; they aren’t doing anything wrong. I felt like I was doing something wrong because my experience was so contrary to the hype, and I don’t want other vegans to feel that way. Even if you aren’t filling the dairy void with vegan cookies, chips and junk food (which I wasn’t, I might add), you still might not lose weight and your skin still might not magically morph into porcelain. And that’s okay! There are so many other reasons to go vegan!

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Jennifer May 13, 2011 at 7:57 am

Hi Sarah:

I have been vegan for six months; I was an on and off vegetarian since I was in college; I am now 39.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this comment. I haven’t experienced any of the fabulous results discussed in some of the more popular books and blogs. Again, I am not overweight, but I was hoping to have shiny hair and beautiful skin and maybe drop a few pounds too. I feel exactly the same physically. However,I feel better about myself; I love that I don’t feel guilty about animals while I am eating, but in the back of my head, I always felt that I must be doing something wrong.

Thank you so much for reminding me of why I went vegan.

Sincerely,
Jen

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VeganAud April 24, 2013 at 10:32 am

Hi Sarah and Jennifer,
I am happy to find that I am not the only one who is a vegan and overweight. I am relearning to eat low fat raw vegan, and feeling so much better. It is truly not a “diet” but living lifestyles that we are embracing.
I am so happy to be affiliated with other people who ascribe to a Healthy living life style.
These website/blogs have been a tremendous help on this journey.
Keep up the good work as we continue to live healthy!!!!
Blessings!!!
VeganAUD

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Hannah April 14, 2011 at 10:02 pm

This sandwich is. so. adorable. What a yummy looking creation.

I bothers me that people assume vegans are vegans for weight loss. You’re right-most vegans follow veganism as a lifestyle, and many for animal rights issues, so it’s offensive when people only see it as a diet.

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Katie April 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm

yayayayay. this looks AWESOME, and perfect for spring. thanks!

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Michelle | Gold-hearted Girl April 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Wow, that looks delicious! I can’t wait to try this. And I feel like the overarching theme is: listen to your body. Nobody can tell you what’s right/wrong for it when making such a drastic diet change like that.

http://goldhearted.etsy.com

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 14, 2011 at 10:21 pm

This is a beautiful sentiment, Gena: “And as someone who originally explored veganism for health reasons only, I can attest that, when the light of compassion is flipped on, the world is illuminated in new and wonderful ways.”

I think that people should be less concerned with looking at veganism for weight loss and just focus on eating real food, mostly plants, get exercise, drink water, enjoy the sunshine and life, and things will work themselves out…trying to pin too much on veganism, i.e. to “make one healthy”, or as a weight loss plan, or to cure one of disease…which is possible of course…but all kinds of other reasons that people jump on the vegan bandwagon for…it’s not necessarily going to be a cure-all for everything, for everyone.

As you said, it’s a lifestyle. I could go on and on, but totally agree with your thoughts.

The bread. WOW! It almost looks like a cracker in terms of crispness level. I’d be curious if it’s more chewy or more crunchy.

I noticed you dehyd it for 8 hrs, then flip and dehyd for nearly another 6. Which is precisely the reason my dehyd collects dust. I just can’t be bothered.

I am like you, I use the oven, generally speaking. And yes, the low oven/door ajar takes almost as long as a dehyd. As long as one is using the oven, I am with you on the 300 F range. All good is not “lost” by heating food, great point to reiterate, too!

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FoodFeud April 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Thanks for that last tip about using raw recipes with normal ovens. I’m not about to buy a dehydrator but hate to miss out on recipes that call for them. I am also paranoid about the waste of leaving an oven door open. Although, dehydrating something for 12 hours sounds crazy to me! Does a dehydrator really not use much energy??

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VeganAud April 24, 2013 at 10:35 am

It does. One lady said that her light bill showed the difference the months that she used her dehydrator.

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Ela April 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm

That’s a very smart deconstruction of the problem with choosing to be vegan for weight-loss purposes, as being both detrimental to the animal rights perspective and promoting the attitude that it’s a temporary diet as opposed to a lifestyle change.

One other issue that I would add that can make vegans susceptible to _not_ losing weight is that it can be easy to eat too few calories and/or too much soy, and to depress their thyroids and end up with lowered metabolisms. I’ve know a few ex-raw vegans (so soy not a major culprit in their case) who quit being vegan citing unwanted weight gain, and I suspect metabolic problems. Some raw advocates even claim that a lowered body temperature is healthful, but in my experience, this isn’t true…

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Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing April 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Enjoyed reading your reflections, Gena. Also, this bread shall be making it’s way into my dehydrator, and my mouth, quite soon ;)

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Mama Pea April 15, 2011 at 12:29 am

Get them to come over for the “weight loss,” get them to stay with the yummy food, then show them the light… Works for me! :)

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Valerie @ City|Life|Eats April 15, 2011 at 12:42 am

Awesome looking bread.

As someone who lost quite a bit of weight when eating a vegan diet, and continued to do so when switching to a vegan-leaning diet, I was shocked by the number of people who asked if that as my “weight loss secret” – I think you know me well enough to know that I was setting those people straight pretty bluntly. While I do appreciate the fact that I don’t have to portion control quite as closely with many vegan meals (and that certainly helped me be able to lose weight while not letting ED patterns make their way back into my life) it troubles me that people go on vegan diets as a weight loss strategy.

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JL goes Vegan April 15, 2011 at 5:04 am

My name is JL and I am not a skinny vegan ;)

I began eating vegan for health reasons — to get HEALTHY. I actually put on a little weight. You know why? I fell in love with food. I threw myself into enjoying flavors and textures I had never encountered before. My cholesterol improved dramatically. Skin issues I had been dealing with began to ease up. I remain vegan because on the journey I became more informed and began to understand the deeper meaning behind my food choices.

Today I am a vegan who loves and wants to protect animals in a real way, is a bit rounder, is definitely healthier and is happier than ever.

Now, on to that tomato bread. I will most definitely try this recipe. I have never been able to get my “batter” that thin on the ParaFlexx sheets. Perhaps I need an inverted knife? I love how crisp and fresh it looks.

I tweeted last night buy just have to give you another shout-out. I got home from work and wanted to make a quick dressing in the blender for a raw, sprouted salad. I grabbed Crazy, Sexy Diet and just started scanning recipes for ingredients and method. I read one and thought “perfect”! I grabbed the ingredients and started following instructions then, at the end, I saw that the recipe was by YOU! I literally started laughing. Of course I picked my pal Gena’s recipe! It was DELICIOUS!

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Randi April 15, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Same as me! I gained weight as a vegan because I finally learned how to feed myself well and properly, and how to treat food as something beneficial for me instead of ‘bad’.
I tend to get a little confrontational with people who say they are vegan when eating mostly plants/mostly little as a short-term diet fix. I try not to be so judgmental, because anything you do to save animals is great, but it’s hard for me to keep the “you aren’t vegan, it’s not a weight-loss trendy diet” comments to myself. The whole lifestyle and belief system is too important to me to let it be cheapened by equating it with an Atkins or South Beach trend o’ the season.

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tweal April 15, 2011 at 6:06 am

This looks like a great recipe for raw bread. I have tried making one in the past, it was nice but I let it dehydrate too long and got a bit more crispy than I’d like. I just saw another blog feature raw spinach wraps, so I think I’ll have to make both now :)

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Elizabeth@The Sweet Life April 15, 2011 at 7:19 am

“Veganism is a lifestyle that’s animated by a sense of respect for life.” Wow–this really says it all, in a way I couldn’t articulate. Well said!

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Kristin (Cook, Bake, Nibble) April 15, 2011 at 7:22 am

I just got my dehydrator a few weeks ago and have been wanting to make raw bread. This one looks fab- I think it will be my first try! :)

xo

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Katie (quick cook rice) April 15, 2011 at 8:22 am

My brain is spinning with all of the vegan debates raging today and yesterday. And this one is another interesting issue. I’m always happy when people turn to veganism, whatever their motivation. I’ve definitely turned many friends into quasi-vegans because of the health benefits, but I have to say I feel really conflicted about it. They may be eating vegan by default, and feel pretty darn great, yet they’re not thinking about the real reason to eat vegan. The animals! And as you know, I struggle with this issue because I don’t want to want to alienate them, but I also want to make sure I’m clear on why it’s important to consider what we eat not solely for health benefits.

This will become more of a complex issue as Hollywood embraces the vegan diet without embracing vegan ethics. Have you see The Beauty Detox Solution? Raw food eating plan that basically says vegan is best but it’s OK if you don’t want to eat vegan all of the time. I get that’s partially marketing, but I’m not sure I’m OK with it.

On a different note, I’m also not OK with how your raw bread always looks flatter and happier than mine! How do you spread it so evenly on the Teflex sheet?

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Amyella April 15, 2011 at 8:24 am

I cannot wait to try this!! I plan to make it as a pizza crust and top with some baby spinach, caramelized onions and kalamata olives! I don’t have sunflower seeds in the house, am going to try subbing walnuts.

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Ricki April 15, 2011 at 11:54 am

As one who has always struggled with weight, let me confirm that veganism is not a guarantee of weight loss! Regardless of diet, I think a person’s weight often has more to do with emotional issues and personality than the overarching “diet”–as you mention, one can eat too many sweets as an omni, or a vegan, or whatever (even on the anti-candida diet, ahem).

But oh, that bread!!! I love that you provide an oven option, too–so many people overlook raw recipes because they can’t dehydrate them, but of course even baking them in an oven is still so much healthier than the standard replacement!

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LC @ Let Them Eat Lentils April 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Gena, do you have a comment on the recent controversy about VegNews using stock photos of meat and dairy, and editing out the “meaty” qualities?

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Gena April 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm

:) I’m smiling because you asked for a “comment” as though I were a very important person. Thanks for being curious about my opinion!

To be frank, LC, this has been a complex issue for me to sort through and process personally–let alone through a public statement. I am, as you know, a VN columnist, and I’m close to the staff. I have no problem with the use of stock images, per se, in magazines (in fact I think it’s naive to assume that low budget mags can always avoid using them wholesale, given how hard it is to set up photo shoots or hold columnists accountable for pictures). But the problem is that the stock images used weren’t vegan, and that’s a big problem.

I think we have to weigh mistakes and flaws within the whole context of a person or institution’s actions. VN is a huge source of positivity and good in the vegan community, a true force of vegan activism, and I can pardon a misstep, even if that misstep was serious. But I do think that the statement might have been more heartfelt and apologetic; I know this is why many others are upset.

Beyond that, I’m still processing my own thoughts about the situation. So I can’t tell you when I’ll have more to say, if at all, because I need to collect my feelings, and also be sure to behave professionally and respectfully as a VN contributor. Give me some time, then, and I’ll let you know :).

G

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Alison April 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Love this post! If using a oven, what do you put the spread on? Will it work with a cookie sheet with parchment or do you need a teflex sheet?

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Gena April 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Oh, I’d definitely do parchment on a baking sheet. Shoulda mentioned that!

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bitt April 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I need to get back into making raw breads too. I miss the humm of the dehydrator.

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Magda April 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm

@Alison – I have made something similar recently and parchment paper worked great.

Regarding veganism as a weight loss strategy… I think it’s not a good idea because, as you wrote it’s quite possible that a person will not lose any weight on a vegan diet. In fact, I myself have gained some weight since I went vegan and I’m not a chips, coke and ice cream vegan ;) I guess it’s because of nuts and seeds that I LOVE and could eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Probably a little too much of them… So if a person decides to go vegan to lose weight, they will probably perceive their diet as very restrictive and still it might not give the results they expect…

On the other hand, people who switched to veganism for health/fitness reasons often do some research and over time they become at least partly “ethical vegans” and stick to the plant based diet for good, which is great. And, even if they come back to omnivore diet, they still saved SOME animals that they didn’t eat while being vegan. Don’t we often hear (and say and write too ;)) that every vegan meal matters? So every week or month on vegan diet matters even more, even if the person is doing it only to lose weight or for whatever non-ethical reason.

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Whitney April 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Very thoughtful arguments, Gena, and I completely understand where you’re coming from. I disagree, though, that someone else’s vegan diet and subsequent reversion back to a “normal” diet can somehow inherently devalue your vegan lifestyle choice. I think you’re comparing apples to oranges. And isn’t the world a better place for that person having been vegan for even one meal? I personally think it is. The only person who can devalue your personal lifestyle choice is you!

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Gena April 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Awesome and intelligent comment, Whitney, thank you so much! It had such an impact that I edited the post to remove the word “devalue” — you’re quite right, that’s the wrong expression there. Thanks.

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Whitney April 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

Wow, thank you Gena! That means quite a lot to me. Your edit was beautifully done!

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melissa April 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm

wow that looks amazing! and also, i snicker when people go vegan for “weight loss” oftentimes, they seem to go for the frankenmeats or eat tons of carbs and little in the ways of fresh produce or beans. there are just as many versions of perceived healthiness in veganism as there are in any other diet. everyone needs to do their own research and find out what works best for their own bodies. we need to take care of them, we only get 1!

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Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher April 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Raw bread?! Interesting. Huh.

And I don’t think I agree with you about the vegan weight-loss thing. If someone needs to lose weight and goes vegan (temporarily) to eat healthy, eat a more structured diet, etc,–more power to them! Why on earth would we not love that they’re being proactive with their health? Not every vegan necessarily believe in the ethics of veganism. I was vegan for a short while, vegetarian for years, and it’s recently that I’ve made peace with recovering from my disordered eating that I would eat meat sometimes in giving my body what it craved.
Have a great weekend! –A

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Sarah E. Brown April 16, 2011 at 2:39 am

Gena, what a fabulous post! Thank you for sharing your insightful perspectives on the topic. Your bread looks awesome, too!

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Michelle April 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm

This bread is in my dehydrator now! It smells wonderful! I can’t wait to try it. Thanks Gena!

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Lidia January 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Hello! I love this recipe and I had to try it out for myself. I did my own version and credited you as the recipe source: http://wp.me/p1tEpk-Qu on my blog Aireater.com

Thank you for having such great recipes! I know I will be trying out more soon. :)
Lidia

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Miliany Bonet June 27, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Thank you, Gena for the inspiration to make raw bread!! I’ve been looking for raw bread recipes and I am going to try this one when I get my dehydrator! I will try this bread with your veggie burger recipe (I made them already and they were delicious!) THANK YOU!! U rock! ;)

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mandy October 11, 2013 at 12:46 am

I love your website and have tried a bunch of your recipes so thank you!

I do have one question though. How is bread cooked at heat in the 300s still raw? It may be gluten free and tasty and all kinds of good things but it’s not raw, to my mind. Am I missing something?

Thanks again, sincerely.

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Gena October 11, 2013 at 7:24 am

Hi Mandy,

That option is given for those who don’t have a dehydrator, and thus can’t make the recipe technically “raw.”

G

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Kristin October 16, 2013 at 7:56 am

I just made this bread (oven method) and it is delicious! Just wondering how you store it and how long it will keep? I’ve got mine in an airtight container on the countertop but worried it will get soggy. Thanks!

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Gena October 16, 2013 at 8:25 am

I’d store it in the fridge, and I think you’ll get two weeks out of it if you store it in an airtight container in the fridge. So glad you liked it!

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