I chose Sunday as my official “Raw Foods” shopping and preparation day. After scouring my two new raw cookbooks, RAW FOOD REAL WORLD by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis and RAW by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein, for recipes, I made my list and prepared for what lie ahead.
Other than the 8+ pounds of nuts I purchased for the occasion, my shopping list wasn’t that unordinary. A few items that I normally wouldn’t have tried and now love include agave nectar (a sort of caramely-tasting natural sweetener from the agave cactus plant), that I’ve used in everything from granola to tomato sauce, coconut butter/oil (smells like fresh coconuts and adds a nice creaminess and richness to desserts…since I won’t be using dairy), and dates (I’ve grown to love them in my favorite snack, LaraBars, but didn’t realize what a great sweetness, texture, and flavor they could add to smoothies, granola, desserts…).
Once I got home I had my work cut out for me, as I wanted to make sure that I would have something, besides salad, to eat on Monday. I love to cook and concoct, so I knew that having meals that at least seemed cooked would play an integral part in feeling satisfied. I immediately got to work soaking my nuts and grains; a necessary step to ease the digestion process involved with raw nuts and also for sprouting the grains. I have a large kitchen, but it almost reached maximum capacity during this ordeal. I took out most of the glass bowls and/or vessels that I had easy access to and soaked away. Just so that you have an idea…my counter was filled with soaking bowls of almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, rye berries, and buckwheat groats (those will be working their magic for a total of five days).
Another item that I didn’t mention in my new favorites category, but absolutely love…young coconuts (found at Asia World Market in Plano, TX)! I love to cook and have watched my fair share of cooking shows, but had never heard of them and no idea how I was going to get inside. I don’t have a cleaver, as suggested by the authors of RFRW, so I used a big, sturdy, and inexpensive I might add, Martha Stewart chefs knife…it worked, but got a little messy (I might recommend having a few towels on hand). The little coconuts are surrounded by this white fibrous casing, which you have to get through before you even get to the hard coconut shell; once inside, the meat is creamy in some, a little firmer in others, but smooth and sweet just the same and each small coconut produced about 12-16 ounces of water per.
All in all I felt pretty prepared, but ideally would have had a few more clear glass bowls, more than two mesh strainers, the use of a “nut bag”, instead of cheese cloth, for straining my nut milk, and a cleaver for my coconuts (a good investment if it makes the job easier, because they are really that good!). I used my Cuisinart food processor a lot and am really glad that I had it. And, although both books recommend the $400 Vita-Mix blender, my $19.95 10-speed Hamilton Beach seemed to serve me just fine.