There are so many reasons that people go vegan, and tons of benefits people experience from being vegan. From animal lovers, to environmentalists, to those seeking the health benefits, everyone’s story behind their vegan lifestyle and journey is unique. Whether you’re simply looking to cut out animal products and replace them with one of the many substitute items like faux cheeses and fake meats, or you’ve gone to a fully raw vegan diet, it’s never been easier to find resources to live the lifestyle you want.
We had the amazing opportunity to learn and discover the world of raw vegan through a private cooking class with Chef Joanne Gerrard Young, founder of The Healing Cuisine (Christmas present from Sigourney’s Hubby, thanks Tom!). Raw vegan is essentially what is sounds like. Plant-based eating at its core. It’s the belief in eating whole foods, directly from the earth, in their natural state – without cooking them at high temperatures.Though it can definitely be a shock to hear at first, we’re going to walk you through what we learned about eating raw and the benefits it has. Now, we’re not writing this post to recommend you change up your life and go raw vegan tomorrow. But just like we learned something new from this experience, we hope you do too!
So let’s start with the big elephant in the room – why raw?
When it comes to the building blocks your body needs to function, it really boils down to three things:
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients which allow our bodies to survive. They are responsible for converting our food into energy, repairing damaged cells, strengthening our immune system, and regulating our metabolism just to name a few. So where do you get all your vitamins and minerals? Through the food you eat every day!
Enzymes are a key player that allow your body to take the nutrients from your food and delivering them where they need to go in your body. We aren’t nutritionists we won’t get into the technical details, but at a high level – enzymes promote digestion and help nutrients pass from your gut into your bloodstream.allowing the nutrients from food to pass through to the gut and into the bloodstream.
What does cooking your food do?
When our foods are cooked at high temperatures – baking, frying, grilling, or microwaving – it depletes the amount of nutrients that are left in our food. When your bright green raw broccoli is cooked down and turns into a dark green, slightly brown colour, you’ve essentially removed many of the key vitamins and minerals.
Now, although you may be removing nutrients, that doesn’t mean you should stop cooking your broccoli and only eat it raw. Consuming high amounts of raw vegetables can be hard on your digestion if it isn’t part of your diet already. We are strong believers of “everything in moderation”. Always do your research and speak with professionals when making dietary changes and decisions.
About The Healing Cuisine
Working with Joanne from The Healing Cuisine was such a great experience from beginning to end. Together you build a menu plan consisting of four separate dishes, each as delicious as the next.
For our class we chose:
- Swiss Chard wraps
- Raw Lasagna
- Chocolate Bars
Just thinking about all the delicious food is making us hungry all over again! Below are some pictures that we took throughout our class. Apologies in advance for the pictures, we were so focused on listening to all of Joanne’s nutrition knowledge and chowing on delicious food that we snapped these really quickly in between bites.
Swiss Chard Wraps
The first thing we made were Swiss Chard Wraps stuffed with tons of veggies! The sauce was made of coconut milk, and was flavoured with toasted coriander, lime, and lots of spices. We added Napa Cabbage to the rolls, which we hadn’t worked with much before, but now its our new favourite!
Next, we made RAWvioli. It’s made of thinly sliced beets and filled with a cashew cream sauce and a pumpkin seed pesto. Joanne recommended pumpkin seeds because Sigourney is allergic to pine nuts and it was delicious! We also stuffed in some spinach leaves for extra colour and nutrients. Of course, presentation is just as important as taste so we stopped by St Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto and got red beets, candy cane beets and golden beets!
Raw Lasagna was third and couldn’t be more simple to make. We blended together tomatoes, garlic, red onion and a couple other spices to whip up the most delicious tomato sauce. Layering the zucchini with tomato sauce, cashew alfredo sauce, pumpkin seed pesto and topping it all off with a balsamic drizzle, oh my goodness was this good!
Last but certainly not least we finished off our cooking day with Chocolate Bars! Joanne calls these her Guilt Free Chocolate Bars and while they certainly are guilt free, you wouldn’t know tasting them.We poured date caramel sauce on top of a coconut and oat flour crust, and then dipped them into a chocolate ganache. YUM!! The best part about these delicious bars is you can keep them in the freezer and grab them as you desire. The only problem – they didn’t last long in out freezer!
What about the taste?
We know you wondering about the taste – was it really that good or are we just being polite?
In one hundred percent honesty the taste was phenomenal! Fresh vegetables with tons of delicious herbs and spices, you really can’t go wrong. A lot of people have asked if we missed having a hot lasagna, and to be honest we didn’t. The flavours are bursting throughout every bite, there are so many different textures and the food is very filling.
For taste we would give the food 10 out of 10!
Overall verdict on Raw Vegan
We love experimenting with new recipes and learning about other ways of eating. Learning about eaw vegan and how to make staple meals like lasagna and ravioli raw was so much fun. We absolutely loved the food and will definitely incorporate some of these delicious recipes into our meal planning. You can never go wrong with tons of fresh and colourful fruits and veggies.
As mentioned earlier we aren’t recommending that everyone go raw vegan tomorrow, and though we do plan on incorporating it when we can, we won’t be cutting out cooked food any time soon. We wanted to share some of what we learned with you. Experimenting with new ways of cooking is always fun and something we always recommend. It helps to keep things fun and exciting in the kitchen!
Have you had any raw vegan meals? We’d love to hear what you think!