Sunday, January 22, 2012

[Article Blog] Raw Vegan Versions Of Comfort Foods: Why They'll Never Stick?

I just read Ela's entry Parsnip Rice BUT Why Raw Versions Will Never Catch On, which was an entry of interest to me because I've been having the very same thought.

Cooked Comfort Foods

My comfort foods used to be lima beans with butter, mashed potatoes, french fries, baked sweet potatoes with apples and sausage, peanut-butter with jelly on hot toast, buttered egg-noodles, white rice with chicken wings, sweat-and-sour chicken, salt & vinegar chips... And well, everything I ate. My entire diet was made up of "comfort foods" because I was depressed and I wasn't interested in food that wasn't soft or creamy or crunchy or salty or sweet. If it didn't meet an emotional desire than I didn't feel like eating it.

My Relationship With Food

My relationship with food is completely transformed now. With a lot of help from experienced raw vegans and lots of good books and articles, I now only eat for "emotional needs" one to five times a week, instead one to five times a day. And now my "emotional choices" are healthier than ever. I'm no longer blending up a new version of almonds-dates-oil every day. In fact, I'm no longer eating nuts or oil except at potlucks, and I'm rarely eating dates at home. This is huge for me.

Raw Comfort Foods

But how do I feel about those raw comfort foods?

I adore raw vegan pizza more than I ever liked "regular" pizza.

Also, I find that raw vegan desserts are easier to make than traditional baked desserts. And sometimes I like them better than the recipe they imitate. I never liked cooked pumpkin pie, but I love raw pumpkin pie.

I don't like traditional hummus, and I don't like raw hummus creations. I don't like most cooked soups and I don't like most raw vegan soups either.

I was never a fan of cooked brownies, but I absolutely love raw brownies.

I wasn't a big fan of chocolate bars, but I revel in my own home-made raw cacao creations. I also love raw carob even though I never liked any cooked-carob dish I ever tried in my life.

How To Name A Raw Recipe

I really dislike when people write "mylk" instead of "milk" just like I dislike "womyn" instead of "women" -- it just seems silly to me. However, if I say "Raw Vegan Cacao Milk Shake" to someone who eats a cooked omnivorous diet, they're going to scratch their head and say, "What does that mean?"

If I say, "Chocolate Milk Shake" that will give the wrong impression as well. If I say, "Cacao Shake" that may work, or they might say, "What is cacao?" The list goes on and on, but no matter how I name something it is never quite correct.

I want to "make up" a name for something... But if I make up a word, nobody will know what I'm talking about.

We call it a "raw vegan" diet because it is raw and it is vegan. Those words describe what we mean.

We call a raw vegan pizza a "Raw Vegan Pizza" because that describes the general appearance, flavor and ingredients involved... Except that everyone always asks me, "What is the crust made out of?" Which can be buckwheat, nuts, seeds, or even sprouted grains.

I find that most people are open to trying new dishes, but I have had complaints that "this shouldn't be called ______ because it isn't ________." But then, What would I call it instead?

Ela writes, "The same held when I brought a raw lasagna to a gathering one time. Everyone adored it, and everyone referred to it as a salad."

A raw vegan lasagna is a very specific type of "salad" ...and... "salad" is just too broad. I mean, you might as well call my raw vegan carrot-muffins a salad because they are made of carrots, raisins, dried apricots and seeds... Which does sound like a salad, until I put some banana-carob frosting on them!

"Cooked" folks & "Raw" folks

It will, of course, depend on the audience. Some people will adore a raw vegan version of something familiar who are "cooked" and some people who are "raw" will feel that the version is "just not the same" or "not worth it."

I think part of the wild success of kale chips is that they are their own thing -- a raw thing -- a veggi thing -- and a different thing. They aren't really a replacement for potato chips, they are something entirely different and new.

"Cooked" people love kale chips just like "raw" people do. And they can be made hundreds of different ways!

But honestly, I find kale chips to be a lot of bother. It's just easier to throw greens in my blender and drink them and get on with life.

I make 'fancy' things for fun, not for every-day consumption. And most 'raw versions' are fancy. They take lots and lots of time and effort in comparison to a simple salad, smoothie or juice. And I think that may be the real reason they won't catch on.

Fermenting nut cheese, creating a cashew cream, marinating vegetables, dehydrating mushroom slices, carefully slicing squash... All that stuff is very time consuming and completely not required for a very healthy raw diet. It's just something to do for fun.

I do make simple truffles often. However, that is because they're super easy and they impress "cooked" folks and "raw" folks alike. Especially when they are ginger-based or chocolate-based.

Final Thoughts

Raw food versions of comfort foods are great for people transitioning to the raw diet. However, only a small selection of these "raw food comfort foods" are really ideal for a wide audience of omnivores and long-term raw foodies alike.

I think that most raw vegan truffles will be loved by all, and that most raw vegan pizzas will be loved by all, but much of the stuff in between is just to allow someone to get past that tough spot in transition...  And for special raw vegan occasions.

~ Raederle

Earlier today: Why Raw Vegans Get Sick From Foods They Used To Eat: The Answer At Last!

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