Posted by: RawGuru in root vegetable, raw winter on
Nov 20, 2010
I love the change of seasons. With each transition comes a whole new mecca of different fruits and vegetables that can easily become staples in your kitchen. Making our diets more seasonal and in tune with nature is very important from an ecological standpoint, as well as for our own health and well being. If we're eating a natural diet of whole raw foods, the body is quick to adapt to the seasons and will guide you to what is freshest and most nutrient dense. The cold weather creates the need for warming, grounding foods that help us stay balanced and nourished all winter long. Dark greens, sea vegetables, winter squashes, sprouted grains such as quinoa or millet, and soaked nuts and seeds become really important during the winter on a raw diet. There is also a slew of different root vegetables that are super delicious this time of year and they are at the peek of their season.
Many people have only really experience root vegetables in a cooked form such as in soups and stews, grilled, steamed, or baked. This is because they tend to be quite starchy and hard to digest unless appropriately prepared. Some work well spiralized as a base for a raw pasta dish (such as parsnips and yams) but others such as burdock root, celeriac, rutabaga and turnip need a bit of sprucing up to be the highlight of a meal. These vegetables are full of nutrients our bodies need during the winter such a folic acid, b vitamins and vitamin c. They are also full of fiber for a healthy digestive system. Also, they are an economical source of high quality carbohydrates.
Marinating vegetables during the winter is a wonderful way of breaking down tougher veggies, nearly giving them a “cooked” texture and infusing them with a wonderful flavor. My favorite marinades consist of a combination of high quality raw oil (Sesame, sunflower, hemp, olive, even coconut can all all work well) high quality unpasteurized vinegar such as Coconut Secrets coconut vinegar or Bragg's apple cider vinegar, fresh squeezed lemon juice, a dash of maple syrup or clear agave, fresh or dried herbs such as dill, chives, or thyme, garlic, and a little bit of salt. Simply whisk the ingredients of your sauce together, pour over prepared veggies making sure they are evenly coated, and allow to marinate for several hours, or place in the fridge overnight in a sealed container. Make sure you use enough marinade for the root veggies to soak in it evenly. For excess marinade leftover, save in a jar and use as a dressing for other salads. A food processor works great for quickly shredding root vegetables to make a marinated slaw, however you can also simply use a knife and slice your veggies thinly. One of my favorite combinations is a marinated root slaw made from parsnip, carrot and burdock. This combination is chock full of minerals and beta carotene. Burdock also has medicinal value and helps cleanse the skin and blood. If you're already a raw carrot and beet fan, you will more than likely love the subtle sweetness and earthy, hearty flavors of some of the other lesser known root vegetables.
Get saucy with your salads this year and break out those root vegetables. Salads don't have to be boring, and they certainly don't always have to be lettuce- based. Keep your eye out at the farmers markets too, as you'll surely find a wide variety of root veggies there with the most flavor and abundance of nutrients.
Miso is one of those foods that has been around for what seems like forever. Originally prepared and eaten in China and Japan as far back as the 4th Century BC, miso has quite the history. It is used widely in macrobiotic cooking and has many health and nutritional benefits. Unpasteurized miso is a living fermented food that contains healthy probiotics such as lactobacillus and enzymes for digestion. Because of the live active flora it is high in absorbable b-vitamins and helps support the immune system. Miso has an unmistakable flavor and is very salty. It can be used to enhance savory raw food dishes and a little goes a long way. Miso is often times made from a base of ground soybeans and rice and then cultured. Many other varieties can be found as well such as miso made from chickpeas, azuki beans, millet and barley. Soy and barley miso tend to be darker, richer and more salty, whereas chickpea miso is sweeter, much less salty and works great in salad dressings, dips, marinades, and raw vegan cheeses. Chickpea and brown rice miso are my favorite varieties for making miso soup, which can become a great staple in a balanced raw diet during the winter months. One of the most simple ways of preparing miso soup is to take a tablespoon of miso, a tablespoon of raw creamy sesame tahini, and blend this together with a cup or so of very warm water. You can then add to this crushed garlic and ginger, other herbs and spices of your liking, and veggies. Hardier greens like winter chard, kale and collards can be chopped finely and let stew in the warm broth to soften and make easier to chew and digest. Avocado makes a lovely addition to this soup as well, making it more filling and creamier. Try also adding soaked seeds like sunflower and pumpkin to add protein, healthy fats, and a satisfying crunchy texture.
This miso and tahini soup broth can act as a base for a variety of different soup creations and flavors. Add cayenne pepper for an even spicier kick and to create more heat within the body on a cold day. Add curry powder or tumeric for an East Indian flair. Instead of using plain water, try making a nut milk from truly raw cashews, blended with a chunk of lemongrass, and strained through a nut milk bag, then add your miso. This creates a delicious thai inspired miso soup broth that can be gently warmed on a stove top. You’ll be surprised how well many different culinary flavors blend with the flavor of miso. You’ll find that sea vegetables go extremely well with miso soup too. Nori, dulse, sea spaghetti and sea palm all taste delicious in miso broth and add a hefty dose of minerals. The warmth of the broth will also help soften the more tough sea veggies such as the sea palm, much like it does with hearty greens.
One of the best brands of miso out there for someone looking for the highest quality unpasteurized, organic miso is South River Miso. Look for it in your local health food store or co-op, or order online at southrivermiso.com. Try their Dandelion Leek and Garlic Red Pepper varieties which are unique and totally delicious.
Get cozy during the chilly season with raw, living miso soups that tantalize the taste buds and bring warmth and nourishment to the body.