What is a Raw food diet all about?
Today I want to tell you about the raw food diet. The healthy face to veganism, raw food living is all about having a plant based diet of nuts, vegetables and fruits without heating above 42C. The focus is on preserving the nutrients of the food as heat can kill a huge amount of vitamins and minerals in food. Since it is a healthy subset of veganism, the diet involves no dairy or meat & fish as well as no refined sugar or honey. This diet goes beyond raw salads for meals and incorporates a range of exciting food ideas and recipes such as raw spaghetti and meatballs made with nuts and vegetables to breads ‘cooked’ in a dehydrator and to desserts and confectionary made using dried fruits and the freezer. The reason I enjoy creating raw food is because it introduces innovative ways to eating healthy. From using chia seeds to making a healthy jam, coconut oil to making cakes and confectionary, superfoods and fruit to making smoothies and juices and fermented foods to promote gut health. There is a strong move away from processed foods to organic, natural ingredients which are health boosting.
Raw food can be quite tedious, especially if you need to use a dehydrator which is the ‘oven’ of sorts for those on a raw food diet. It dehydrates food at a low temperature preserving the food’s nutrients and increasing it’s shelf life. I like to incorporate raw food living partially in my diet. Due to the high percentage of nuts and coconut used in making raw food, smaller portions of food tend to satisfy you as it gets quite nutrient and good fat dense. I mainly choose raw food when making my breakfast or smoothies or juices. I additionally add raw salads, crackers and snacks into my diet which is quite delicious and filling. My favourite however is raw confectionary and desserts. This means tempering raw chocolate, making bliss balls and creating cheesecakes! I started my journey of raw food ‘cooking’ with two important books. One by Tanya Maher for her meals, drinks and snacks and the other by Audrey Snowe for her desserts. Do give these books a read if you are interested in learning more about the raw food diet.
How do you make a Raw Cheesecake?
A raw cheesecake is one of the most fun, healthy cake concepts that I have come across. A cheesecake is traditionally made with cream cheese, eggs and sugar and baked or made with cream instead of eggs and without baking. However this dessert is packed with sugar and saturated fat and one slice can end up piling a lot of unhealthy calories into your diet. The raw cheesecake is your healthy friend! Firstly-spoiler alert, there is no cheese! Yes, A raw cheesecake is a dairy free, sugar free and gluten free cake. Soaked cashew nuts or any nuts are used as a substitute for cheese. Sometimes even avocado can be used. Then either coconut milk or cacao butter is used as the good fat to add texture and body to the cake. Maple syrup is used as the sweetener. The base is made up of nuts and dates. Finally superfoods, cacao, fruits, vegetables or nut butter are added for flavour, colour and added nutrition. The entire cake is then set in your freezer!
With these ingredients as your basic tools the options are endless! Each slice is quite nutrient dense and a small slice can make you happy! The most important equipment you need for these raw desserts are a high powered blender, a food processor and freezer! The traditional raw cheesecake flavours are usually chocolate, peanut, lime and blueberry. I however have experimented with a host of flavours from fruits and vegetables. Finally leading me to this amazing tropical coconut raw cheesecake!
Tropical Coconut Raw Cheesecake
I came up with the concept for this amazing tropical coconut raw cheesecake when I was sent across some delicious cold press raw coconut oil from Indigo Herbs. This company sells a range of healthy food ingredients from super foods to nuts and coconut products. They wanted me to create something with their coconut oil. Since this was an organic, cold press coconut oil, I wanted to make something with low heat in order to preserve as much of its nutrients. Hence I decided it had to be something raw. Next on tasting its rich, coconut flavour I really wanted to do something with a tropical fruit take. This led me to think of pineapple and passion fruit and finally to creating this healthy cheesecake!
This dairy free cheesecake recipe is packed with healthy alternative ingredients. Starting from the base, I added turmeric and pepper to the date and nut mixture not only to add colour but also to add a dash of the healing spice into this healthy dessert. I made a base of cashew nuts and coconut cream. I used coconut cream to increase the coconut flavour and richness. I then added the superfood baobab into this mix. The baobab adds the tangy flavour to cut through the richness of the cashew and coconut cream as well as is a good source of Vitamin C and fibre. I find it such a creative and fun way to introduce superfoods and health ingredients into your meal.
The final layer on top is a simple pineapple and passionfruit chia jam. Naturally sweet and tangy and filled with the aroma of ripe passionfruit, I found this bursting with flavour and taking back to a tropical sunny beach! I wanted to incorporate the fruit throughout the cake and hence added a layer of sliced pineapple to the base and swirled in passion fruit through the cheesecake layer!
Give this gorgeous no bake healthy cheesecake recipe a try! It is very simple to make as long as you have a basic blender and freezer. It feels like there are a lot of steps but each step is quite simple. There is no exact science with the proportion so you cannot go too wrong with the flavour. The best part is that once you cut these beautiful raw cheesecake into slices, the remaining extra slices can be kept in a freezer safe bag for months and can be pulled out either to surprise a visiting guest or to satiate a sudden dessert craving! Can a dessert get better than this?
Let me know what you think about this recipe in the comments below. As always use #meghnas when you recreate this recipe on Instagram so that I can be a part of your healthy food adventures!