Fresh food; better nutrition; improved health, more energy, and weight loss; easy kitchen clean-up; lower environmental impact—all are positive aspects of a raw food diet. But you may hesitate to try it because of the perceived disadvantages—unfamiliar techniques; special equipment; unusual ingredients; long preparation times and the need to plan ahead; and elaborate raw food recipes. Even worse is the fear of being limited to nothing but boring salads and cold meals.
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, beverages, desserts and more. Many are quick and easy to prepare, while others are showstoppers. Some need special equipment, but many others do not. His demonstrations 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.
In this video, Russell James creates a festive dessert that’s a cross between a pumpkin pie and a cheesecake. You will need a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, lined with parchment paper.
To make the crust, combine the following in a food processor: pecans (preferably soaked and dehydrated, as they are easier to digest), coconut sugar, coconut flour, oat flour, coconut oil, roughly chopped dried apricots, and roughly chopped sultanas or other raisins. Almond flour or additional coconut flour may be substituted for the oat flour. Process until sticky. Scatter the crust evenly in the pan and press until even, using your hands or the removable base from a second pan.
To make the filling, combine the following in a blender: chopped pumpkin, carrot juice, sweetener of choice (such as honey or coconut nectar), GMO-free soy lecithin or sunflower lecithin to aid emulsification, seeds from one vanilla pod, salt, lemon juice, spice (mixed spice, allspice, or pumpkin pie spice), coconut butter, and cashews. Coconut oil may be substituted for the coconut butter if necessary, but coconut butter will give a better result. Blend until smooth. The filling will be liquid at first, but it will set up because of the coconut butter. Pour the filling onto the base, tap the pan on the counter to release air bubbles, and put the cheesecake into the refrigerator to set. Decorate the finished cheesecake with allspice or nutmeg. Serve with raw vegan ice cream, using two spoons to shape the ice cream into quenelles.
Born in the south of England, Russell spent most of his teens and early to mid-20s working in fast food restaurants, as a manager in a supermarket and as a driving instructor.
It wasn’t until age 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.
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. He shows you that far from feeling restricted on a raw food diet, you have an abundance of options.
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