Fresh, seasonal food; better nutrition with more vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytochemicals, and fiber; improved health, more energy, and weight loss; easy kitchen clean-up; lower environmental impact due to less packaging and food additives—all these are positive aspects of a raw food diet. But you may be hesitating to try it because of the perceived disadvantages—unfamiliar techniques; special equipment such as dehydrators, high-speed blenders and spiralizers; unusual ingredients; long preparation times and the need to plan ahead to allow for soaking, sprouting and dehydrating; and lengthy and elaborate raw food recipes. Even worse is the fear of being limited to nothing but endless boring salads and one cold meal after another, especially in the winter when you really want warming foods.
Fear no more. Raw food can be quick, fun, and easy, and you don’t need to be 100% raw to benefit from a raw food diet.
If you’re interested in following a raw food diet or if you already do and want to increase your skills and repertoire of raw food recipes, Russell James, aka The Raw Chef, can help. He offers a wide range of raw food recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers, snacks, beverages (including smoothies and juices), desserts and more. Many of these are quick and easy to prepare, while others are showstoppers for when you need an impressive dish for a dinner party or holiday meal. Some need special equipment such as a dehydrator, but many others do not. His demonstrations and explanations of such specialized equipment can help you decide if and what to purchase. Through videos and step-by-step instructions lightened with humor, Russell also teaches the techniques you need, from basics such as knife skills to garnishing your dishes so that they are as beautiful as they are delicious.
For example, in this video, Russell James shows you how to use a mezzaluna to create a quick and easy salad filled with a variety of cuts and colors. Pile the ingredients on a large cutting board, first roughly chopping the vegetables into large pieces: Chinese leaf (napa) cabbage leaves, bean sprouts, carrots, red pepper, cucumber, a few cashews, mint, fresh coriander (cilantro), mangetout (snow peas), red cabbage leaves, and broccoli florets. Chop the salad with a mezzaluna, moving from side to side. Put the salad in a bowl and toss with a dressing made with dates, orange juice, garlic, ginger, olive oil, chili powder, harissa, salt, and (optionally) sesame seed oil. This salad was inspired by those served at the Chop’t restaurant and is typical of the raw food recipes found in Russell’s Weekday Raw online course.
Born in the south of England, Russell spent most of his teens and early to mid-20s working in various jobs, such as in fast food restaurants, as a manager in a supermarket and as a driving instructor.
It wasn’t until the age of 28 in 2004 when he was in Koh Samui, Thailand, doing a fast to clear up the skin problem that had developed during his time at the fast food restaurant that he discovered raw food.
He quickly got excited about the vibrancy and creativity of raw foods and the health benefits they bring. Spurred on by the fact that he’d never heard of raw food and with a desire to bring it into mainstream awareness in a way that is fun and modern, he set about following his passion, at first as a hobby.
When he posted pictures of his food on his blog, people started to notice and comment on how great his food looked. Russell discovered techniques and a natural ability to create beautiful raw recipes from widely available ingredients and started teaching people in his local area. News spread and Russell soon found himself teaching people from all over the UK and even people from other countries in Europe and the US, who would travel to come and be taught by him.
It quickly became clear to Russell that his passion was to bring raw foods to anyone who was excited about it and needed the technical knowledge to make it work.
Russell’s passion is to show you that far from feeling restricted on a raw food diet, you have an abundance of options, whether that being eating raw sandwiches all week or putting on a show-stopping dinner party for friends.
The Times has hailed Russell as the United Kingdom’s leading raw chef, and others have acknowledged his passion and skills:
“Russell James is a true professional; talented and creative, and a pleasure to work with. I particularly admire his dedication to raw food cuisine, and his unwavering interest in its forward movement.”—Matthew Kenney
“I was very impressed with Russell James’ raw and living foods cuisine. He’s a pleasure to work with and a rising culinary star.”—David Wolfe
Russell James has now taught thousands of people about the abundance of options in a raw food diet through his blog, videos, online courses, and eBooks. For more raw food recipes, including a free eBook with his top ten recipes, visit http://www.therawchef.com