The switch from omnivore to herbivore can be daunting, and aspiring vegans often struggle to give up delicious foods like cheese and cake. And when the diet consists mainly of raw food, it can be doubly dreadful. So it’s no surprise that Graci Kim was somewhat hesitant to sign up for a “raw food” workshop.
“The first image to pop up in my head was that of tasteless rabbit food,” said the online cooking show host from New Zealand.
After tucking into a “raw” raspberry chocolate cheesecake, however, Kim became an instant convert to raw “cooking.”
“The amount of love and dedication we put into normal cooking was equally put into preparing raw food. And this made me uber happy,” she said.
Kim is among a growing number of health-conscious consumers aware of the benefits of a “raw food” (plant-based) diet. And if Adela Stoulilova, a holistic nutritionist based in Shanghai who held a series of raw food workshops that Kim attended in Taipei last month, is to be believed, there is no need to give up that yummy tart or rich cheesecake — just find a way to make it raw.
For those who missed Stoulilova’s sold-out workshops in June and July, she’ll hold another series beginning on Aug. 20 (see below).
“Most people don’t believe they are eating raw desserts. It’s usually the texture that confuses them — its difficult for most people to imagine that you can make nuts into something super creamy and smooth,” Stoulilova, a native of the Czech Republic, told the Taipei Times.
The self-styled gourmet raw food caterer believes that foods lose important enzymes, vitamins and nutrients when heated above 40 degrees Celsius.
Andrew Ryan, the host of Feast Meets West on Radio Taiwan International, attended a workshop when Stoulilova was last in Taipei.
“I’ve been intrigued by the concept of raw food for a long time,” Ryan said. “The older I get, the more I crave vegetarian and even raw foods, so I really wanted to learn some new preparation techniques.”
Pumpkin seed milk, tacos with a dairy-free sour cream and fruit tarts were among the raw food dishes Ryan prepared at the workshop, which was held at Integrated Arts Education Association of Taipei (臺北市藝術統合教育研究會), a farm located 10 minutes from the Beitou MRT Station (北投捷運站).
“The desserts were pretty amazing because they simulated dairy without dairy and a crust with no baking,” Ryan said. “Just looking at the fruit tarts you [would] think that they must be unhealthy, but in actuality, they are much better for you than the traditional alternative.”
Another workshop found participants literally elbow deep in chocolate, as they made truffles filled with a chocolate ganache and chocolate bars — all raw, of course. The Watermoon Tea House (水月草堂) hosted the workshop, which included a sample of Pu’er, a raw tea grown in China that can sell for up to NT$20,000 per 300g bag.
Stoulilova was the sole chef of the third event, where she prepared a four-course gourmet dinner that was entirely vegan and raw. Guests were greeted with a Rejuvelac cooler, a digestive drink made from sprouted grains and beets, followed by an amuse bouche (“mouth amuser”), which featured a cheese made from fermented nuts, flaxseed crackers and avocado cucumber nori bites. An Arugula salad topped with pecans, pear and yet another cheese that resembled the taste and texture of blue cheese rounded out the starters.