Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update

Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update
Healthy Tips and Recipes for Institutions
Volume XII, Number 1                Spring 2006

Raw Foods

By Nancy Berkoff, EdD, RD, CCE

If you or your customers are interested in raw foods, you can research the subject in many cookbooks, websites, and restaurants around the country. One restaurant in San Francisco, for example, offers living, raw foods cuisine. You'll find cabbage leaves being used as "tortillas" for burritos, milled turnip (turnip put through a ricer or pushed through a sieve) served as "rice," shredded daikon radish used as "pasta," and dried, sprouted buckwheat used for a veggie pizza "crust." Depending on the day, you may find "raw-violi," (daikon radish rounds stuffed with blended nuts), mushroom stroganoff, stuffed portobello mushrooms with a ginger sauce, nut loaf, or "pasta" marinara. Desserts may include carrot cake or fruit-nut tortes. No cooking occurs in the restaurant, only dehydrating. The dehydrator may hold "breads" or "crusts" made from mashed garbanzo beans or sprouted buckwheat.

For online browsing, visit, which includes All Raw Times magazine excerpts and lists recipes and food suppliers. There are many raw foods cookbooks, including Raw: The Uncook Book, written by raw foods chef Juliano (Harper Collins, 1999), Raw, written by Charlie Trotter, et al (Ten Speed Press, 2003), and Vibrant Living, written by Natalie Cederquist and James Levin, MD (GLO Publishing, 1993). Raw foods cookbooks generally give guidelines for selecting ingredients, setting up your kitchen, and preparation techniques.

Kitchen Basics

Naturally, you can forget about microwaves, ovens, toasters, and ranges. Your kitchen does not require any hot-cooking equipment. If you have lots of time and are fairly good with a knife, you will require only a good set of knives, a cutting board, and a blender. To save time, a food processor, seed or nut mill (looks like a coffee or spice grinder), a juicer, and a food dehydrator can be added to your list of equipment. In addition, keep an eye out for cutting equipment (kitchen supply and Asian markets are good sources) - both manual and electric - that can cut fruit and vegetables into interesting shapes. For example, the Cookhelp is a hand-cranked slicing instrument with different blades that cut fruit and veggies into ribbons, shoestrings, and confetti.

Food dehydrators are used to remove the moisture from ingredients at very low temperatures. Of course, if you have the time and the climate, you can allow your foods to sundry. If not, ensure that your dehydrator does not go above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use your dehydrator to make raw breads, burgers, cookies, fruit leather, brownies, and crackers. Look for food dehydrators at kitchen supply, natural foods, and camping outfitter stores.

You'll want to line your dehydrator trays to prevent sticking. Plastic wrap is the least "green," but if you use it, be sure to cut a hole in the center for air circulation. Brown paper bags are the "greenest" material and work well with firmer products (like apples, herbs, carrots, or onions). Create your own waxed paper for use with wetter products by coating paper with vegetable oil. Cotton cheesecloth and unbleached canvas can be cut and hemmed into the shape of your dehydrator trays and can be washed and reused. Waxed paper and plastic wrap work best with wet mixtures, such as raw cakes or spreads.

Have lots of containers on hand (and labeling material) so you can chop, blend, or purée ingredients ahead of time and store until ready to use. As with all cuisines, remember good kitchen sanitation practices. Wash your hands and ingredients and sanitize equipment before, during, and after preparation and store items in sanitized, labeled containers. All perishable foods should be stored at 40 degrees or below.

Preparation Techniques

Raw foods preparation includes soaking, sprouting, dehydrating, and culturing foods, in addition to the simple combination of whole or chopped foods.

Soaking: Dried fruit (such as raisins, cranberries, apricots, peaches, figs, dates, plums, prunes, mango, papaya, and kiwi), nuts and seeds (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds), and grains and legumes (such as oats, barley, lentils, and peas) can all be soaked with good results. Use filtered water and plan on soaking fruit for 6-8 hours, oats for 15 minutes, lentils for 24 hours, and nuts for 24 hours. Always use clean covered containers to soak ingredients, and refrigerate prepared soaked ingredients for future use.

When soaking oats, figure 1/4 cup dried oats per portion and use equal amounts of oats and water. One cup of barley, covered with water will yield two portions. Dried fruit should be covered with water, figuring 1/8 of a cup (depending on the type of fruit and usage) per portion.

Sprouting: Some seeds do not sprout well, such as dried corn, oats, barley, cashews, pecan, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pumpkinseeds. All others will sprout within one to three days.

To sprout sesame seeds, use 1/2 cup for three servings. For sunflower seeds, use 3/4 cup for three servings. One cup of wheat berries will yield approximately 3 cups of sprouts, and 1 cup of millet will yield about 2 cups of sprouts.

All sprouting starts with soaking. Rinse items to be soaked or sprouted and allow to drain. Place in a container (glass is best) and cover with filtered water. Cover and allow to soak overnight or until soft. Drain; soaked ingredients are ready at this time. If sprouting, allow jars, tilted at an angle for drainage, to rest in a dark place until sprouts are seen (12 hours to 3 days). While waiting for sprouts, rinse and drain twice a day.

Culturing: (Also known as "fermenting"), is a technique used by raw foodists to allow the growth of friendly bacteria. Airborne yeasts and bacteria help to create fermented "breads" and "wines." Ingredients are soaked and sprouted and then allowed to ferment until the desired level of texture or taste is achieved. For example, raw sunflower seed and raw almonds are finely chopped, covered and blended with filtered water and miso, and allowed to soak and ferment for eight hours to form a nut and seed "cheese" with a liquid "whey" on the bottom.

Dehydration: Can be done in the sun or in a dehydrator. Dehydration is a form of preservation and a means to concentrate flavors and nutrients. Dehydration is a means to concentrate prepared ingredients, such as soaked almonds, chopped dates, ground walnuts and oats, into cookies, crusts, "burgers," and brownies.

Menu Ideas

Here are some suggestions for constructing a raw food menu:

Banana Smoothie (bananas, apple juice, strawberries, yeast) Green salad with avocado, carrots, sprouts, apples Orange and fennel salad with walnuts Shredded beets and cucumbers with onions Mango sections with pecans
Apple cinnamon sprouted wheat cereal Nori Rolls (with cucumbers, avocado, mushrooms) Fresh pineapple Spinach salad with almonds and oranges Sprouted lentil salad Sliced kiwis with fresh coconut
Applesauce and berries Stuffed tomato (with sprouted lentils) Fresh snow peas Black beans with bell peppers and onions Banana chips
Berry and "yogurt" parfait with chopped walnuts Cabbage "burritos" with chopped mushrooms and salsa Millet burgers with sliced tomatoes and onions Papaya and lime slices
Mashed mango with banana Borscht with diced carrot and onion Cauliflower and sprouted pea salad Melon balls with mint

Excerpts from the Spring 2006 Issue:
Raw Foods
Raw Foods in a Nutshell
Vegan Tidbits
Food Service Hotline
Vegetarian Quantity Recipes
- Cashew Smoothie
- Cashew Milk
- Raw Walnut Pate
- Zucchini "Pasta" With Herbed Tomato Sauce
- Butternut Squash Soup

Return to the main Food Service page (Vegetarian Journal's FoodService Update and Quantity Cooking Information with links to each issue).

For the complete issue, please subscribe to the magazine. To subscribe to Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update, click here and check "Add 1 year Foodservice Update for $10 more" on whatever subscription form you choose.

The Vegetarian Resource Group Logo © 1996- The Vegetarian Resource Group
PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203
(410) 366-8343   Email:

Last Updated April 27, 2006

The contents of this website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your own best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

Web site questions or comments? Please email