Sunday, June 7, 2009

Raw Truth: Raw Soul Part I

LisaD is truly a great friend. One of my culinary goals while visiting her in New York was to go to a Raw Food Restaurant. There's no way a raw food restaurant could survive in my area, so really my only chance to try this kind of food (prepared by professional chefs) would be in New York or California. We chose Raw Soul in Harlem because it looked more affordable than most raw restaurants in NYC and from its website, it seemed approachable and non-pretentious. Above you'll find the sign outside--you take a couple steps down from the street and there are a couple side-walk tables if you want to eat outside (or with your dog as one woman did) in good weather.

Here's the interior--the colors are vibrant, the tables simple, and there's some raw-food samples for sale (like raw nut butters) and a bulletin board that seems open for the community to advertise events or concerts. We went a bit early, but even so there was only one other table occupied while we were there. They also do home delivery meal plans for individuals interested in eating raw, but for one who may not have the time to prepare (the time consuming) raw meals regularly. If I were crazy rich, and totally in love with raw food, I would definitely consider the home meal delivery--I am neither, so...

Above, you'll see my raw lasagna. It was made with thinly sliced zucchini, tons of greens infused with herbs, a "ricotta cheese" made from soaked and pureed cashew nuts, and a sun-dried tomato sauce that was truly fabulous. I felt full pretty quickly because it was so dense, but I figured I should keep eating because I'd starve later that afternoon if I didn't try to finish it.

It was "a lot of mush." There were good flavors, the sauce was fab, the cheese was interesting, but fundamentally it was dense raw veggies layered into a lasagna like dish.

Here's LisaD's selection--she had the sample plate, which gave us a look at smaller versions of the raw burger, raw cajun wrap, and a raw pizza. I'll let her go into detail about her meal in her review in Part II, but I will say that I tried her pizza (on a sprouted grain and flax crust with more of the same sundried tomato sauce) and it was good. The "burger" tasted sweet, which seemed gross and I didn't try her wrap, but she was supposed to get the fake tuna, but it "wasn't ready yet" so they brought her some cajun hummus like stuff, which might have been nice as a sauce, but not as a big lump holding together the wrap.

Above, you'll see our leftovers. Now, here's the slightly embarrassing truth: we both had stomach "issues" later after this meal, yet we were also starving two hours after the meal. So, not much of a recommendation. I'm glad I got to try raw food and I definitely agree that one ought to eat more raw fruits and veggies, but I won't be a raw-foodist anytime soon. Most raw-foodists I've met tend to have a bit of the fanatic about them and they remind me of the anti-vaccine people who think that they are presenting their views from a scientific position, but are in truth, more woo-woo than reasonable or scientific. For example, the protein issue: one raw foodist I know told me that protein is not necessary as long as you get plently of raw enzymes and amnio acids in raw fruits/veggies and another rejected the notion that B12 is a concern. Okay, B12 is essential to life and if you aren't getting it in your food you have to get shots. I know one woman who routinely takes B12 shots because she's a post-gastric bypass patient and she's a vegetarian, her B12 was so low at one point she almost died. So, B12 is a problem and though protein is definitely over-valued in our society mostly as a result of Atkins and other low-carb diet philosophies, you do need protein to maintain your heart muscle and your other muscles throughout the body. I'm trying to eat more vegetarian/flexitarian and so when I have a vegetarian meal, I try to make sure that I have 12 grams of protein in that meal--because I've observed that as long as I eat 12 grams of protein and 4-5 grams of fiber, I stay full longer and feel an even blood sugar level after that meal.

Now saying all that, I recently bought Ani's Raw Food Kitchen a "uncookbook" that covers a wide range of raw-food recipes, "uncooking" techniques, and general information about the raw food movement. I'll review the book as a whole here and I'll try to "uncook" several recipes from the book in order to share. I think that eating raw food is good, but the 75-100% raw lifestyle seems to me to be rather neurotic and potentially triggering for those who may suffer from disordered eating.

Check out Lisa's post on this for her perspective! Also, dear reader, have any of you tried the raw food thing? What are your experiences? Share in comments.

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