Welcome to The Best Vegan Thing I Ever Ate! This monthly feature on GirlieGirl Army is inspired by a show on the Food Network where famous chefs are interviewed about their favorite foods, including where to get it and in some cases, how to make it. In this feature, Kathryn Hostettler interviews awesome and influential vegans each month about their absolute favorite vegan dishes.
I am always struck by how beautiful raw foodists are clear skin, bright eyes, shiny hair, and of course, enviable figures. Take one look at Ani Phyo and you’ll know exactly what I mean. I have been trying to up my percentages of raw food lately so I could drop some weight from a month of binging on massive bowls of pasta and some seriously decadent desserts. I revisited some of my favorite raw food chefs for inspiration and was reintroduced to Ani’s books, Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen and Ani’s Raw Food Desserts. Lucky for us, she has also just released another book this year, Ani’s Raw Food Essentials: Recipes and Techniques for Mastering the Art of Live Food. With my dehydrator pulled out of storage and food processor ready for duty, I have been making nut mylks, raw nut pates, raw hummus like crazy. I forgot how much I love eating this way! Recently, I decided to reach out to Ani to talk about raw food and the Best RAW Vegan Thing she’s ever eaten.
Eco-Lifestylist and Raw Food Author, Ani Phyo
KH: Tell me about your journey to raw food. When and how did you determine this was the best way for you to eat?
AP: I was raised on a raw food diet by a raw food father, so it’s been a part of my entire life. Back then, raw foods were about function, what I label as “Raw Food 1.0″. It was about vegetable juices and mono dieting. Today, “Raw Food 2.0″ is all about beautifully plated foods with complex, delicious flavors and textures.
KH: What physical, mental and spiritual benefits have you experienced from eating a raw food diet?
AP: Physically, I have experienced decreased inflammation, and a leaner, tighter body that’s stronger. When I went back to raw as an adult, I immediately experienced a weight loss of about 15 lbs! My skin is clearer, my hair is shiny and my nails are strong. I have boundless energy! I need much less sleep. I even find that I sometimes have too much energy and I have to remind myself to sleep more. I have increased mental clarity, focus, and increased productivity. Spiritually, I am vibrating at a new frequency that attracts positive opportunities and people into my life.
KH: How would you recommend others go about adopting a raw food lifestyle?
AP: I would start with dessert! Enjoy raw desserts at every mean or as a meal on its own. Then add raw shakes and smoothies made with homemade nut mylks using raw almonds and hazelnuts for example. Adding a green salad to every meal is also a great start! Check out my website for more ideas, including recipes and videos like the one below where I show you how to make a delicious hemp and coconut super food shake.
KH: There are some great raw food restaurants all over the world. What are some of your favorite raw food restaurants?
AP: I live in the Los Angeles area and I absolutely love Au Lac in Fountain Valley (Orange County), California, and Life Food Organic in Hollywood, CA.
KH: What is the Best RAW Vegan Thing you have ever eaten?
AP: Dessert of course! It would have to be my Raspberry Ganache Fudge Cake. This would be the perfect raw dessert to add to any meal!
Ani has generously given GirlieGirl Army readers the recipes for not one but TWO of her amazing dishes, including the Raspberry Ganache Fudge Cake. These recipes are not only delicious and healthy, but totally easy! Enjoy!
Ani’s Raspberry Ganache Fudge Cake
From the book Ani’s Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2009.
MAKES ABOUT 6 SERVINGS
Ani says: Say hello to home-style frosting fresh and not from a plastic tub. Goodness without guilt. I use carob in my cake to cut down on the caffeine, and because I love carob for its malty rich flavor. This cake is to live for; it’s one of my favorites.
3 cups dry walnuts
2/3 cup unsweetened cacao powder or
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup pitted Medjool dates
1/3 cup semi-soft pitted Medjool dates
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup ripe avocado flesh (from about 1
1/3 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup raspberries
To make the cake, combine the walnuts, cacao powder, and salt in the food processor and pulse until coarsely mixed. Avoid overprocessing. Add the dates and pulse until mixed well. Shape into 2 stackable cakes of desired shape and set aside.
To make the frosting, combine the dates and agave syrup in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the avocado and process until smooth. Add the cacao powder and process until smooth.
To serve, frost the top of one of the cakes with half the frosting and top with the raspberries. Stack the second cake on top and frost the top and side. Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator for a couple hours to firm up.
The cake on its own will keep in the fridge for many weeks. The frosting will keep separately in the fridge for 1 week. The assembled cake with raspberries will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
BONUS RECIPE! to help you get your raw going!
Mediterranean Wrap with Bean-Free Red Pepper Hummus
From the book Ani’s Raw Food Essentials by Ani Phyo. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2010.
Image via Tyler Golden
MAKES 4 WRAPS
Ani says: This recipe uses collard leaves for wrapping up vegetables, such as spinach, zucchini,
black olives, and avocado, with a delicious Red Pepper Hummus.
2 large collard leaves
2 cups spinach, washed well
1/2 recipe Red Pepper Hummus
1 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup zucchini, cut into long, thin spears
¼ cup pitted, chopped black olives
Cut the leaves away from the thick center stem of each collard leaf to make a total of four flat pieces.
Top each collard section with spinach leaves. Then, spoon Red Pepper Hummus across the bottom edge of the shorter width of each leaf. Top with avocado, zucchini, and black olives. Roll up into a wrap and serve.
Will keep for up to a day at room temperature, or store for a day or two in the fridge.
Bean-Free Red Pepper Hummus
MAKES 2 CUPS
This hummus is made using raw tahini, as in traditional recipes, but instead of chickpeas,
I use red bell pepper and a pinch of cumin for a richer flavor. Sesame powder helps absorb some of the excess liquid from the juicy bell pepper.
1/2 cup sesame seeds, ground into a powder
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups seeded and diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup raw tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
In a food processor, process the sesame seeds, garlic, and salt into small pieces.
Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Will keep for 2 days in the fridge.
Learn more about Ani, buy her books, and search her recipes at aniphyo.com
The author and her raw food crush, Juliano.
Kathryn Hostettler is a full time social work graduate student, pet nanny, animal advocate, and wannabe raw foodist. She volunteers for Rogers’ Rescues, a virtual dog rescue group located in NJ and PA.
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