Round the Bend Farm hosts raw cooking class

By Douglas McCulloch | Jul 16, 2016
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Liz Wiley shows a participant how to use a spiralizer to prepare zucchini pasta.

Community members learned how to incorporate raw foods into their diets at a cooking class hosted by Round the Bend Farm on July 16.

Hosted by volunteer Liz Wiley, the class served as a broad introduction to the practice of “uncooking” raw food, which involves utilizing uncooked fruits, vegetables and other nutrients while avoiding the introduction of heat to any of the ingredients.

Wiley began the class by highlighting what she calls the “circular economy system”—an economic model of agriculture that emphasizes eating locally by buying fresh food from local farms. Buying fresh and local helps keep money in the local economy, provides fresher food with more nutrients, and tackles the environmental impact of transporting outside food into the community, she said.

She also explained several ways to get in the habit of buying locally farmed food. The most popular way is to visit local farmer’s markets and purchase food from local farms, but there are other ways as well, she said.

Many farms on the South Coast, including Round the Bend Farm, offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, which allows the food-buying public to pay an up-front payment to become a “shareholder” of the farm, and receive fresh food on a weekly basis from the farm.

Wiley also discussed the benefits of buying local food in bulk, and ways to avoid the pitfalls of the practice. Wiley said that the growing season is a perfect time to stock up on fresh food and save it for later through a variety of preservation techniques, including canning, pickling, fermenting and freezing. By preserving bulk-purchased fresh food, the food can be enjoyed year-round with most of its nutrients still intact, while also reducing food waste, she said.

For those who want to try raw food, but still prefer the look and taste of cooked foods, Wiley introduced a special tool in the raw food arsenal: the dehydrator, which can be used to dehydrate raw food.

“One of the main things dehydrating does is draws out the moisture, and makes food warm,” Wiley said.

With fresh ingredients in hand, it was time to dive into raw food cooking. Wiley invited participants to step up to the table and help prepare two dishes with produce sourced from the farm: a bowl of sauerkraut, and zucchini noodles topped with a nut cream sauce.

According to Wiley, the best advice she gives to those looking to start eating more raw foods, or to make any changes to their diet in general, is to start off slow instead of immediately making radical changes to food purchasing or diet habits. Taking small steps and only moving to the next step after establishing a solid routine can reduce the likelihood of backtracking.

Wiley also noted that it is easier to get fresh food on the South Coast due to the many locally owned farms in the region.

“Many people don’t realize how much food is being grown in this area,” Wiley said. “We’re really fortunate to be around so many farms.”

 

To make zucchini noodles at home, the following recipe can be used:

3-4 cucumbers or zucchinis - cut off ends

Use a spiralizer to turn into noodles.

Assemble nut cream sauce:

1 cup cashews - soak in water for two hours then drain and rinse.

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon white miso

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

 

Blend the cashews, water, lemon juice and miso until smooth. Add the chopped garlic, basil, salt and peppers on a low speed to incorporate. You want to still see a little of the basil. Add in tomatoes, scallions, pine nuts, whatever else you have on hand that sounds good to you! Top with fresh ground pepper.

 

Audience members help prepare a bowl of sauerkraut. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
Everyone pitched in to help prepare the zucchini noodles, including the youngest in the audience. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
Liz Wiley pours a nut cream sauce over the zucchini noodles. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
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