Get Healthy and Lose Weight Without Watching Calories
The secret to her method is tasty, exciting raw ethnic food. In this interview she talked to us about her new book The World Goes Raw Cookbook, An International Collection of Raw Vegetarian Recipes, sharing her thoughts about making raw more exciting with easy and delicious international raw food recipes. Although a proponent of the raw lifestyle, Mann’s unlikely beginnings were in French culinary training. Now she spends her time showing people how to eat healthy, easy-to-prepare raw food that’s every bit as satisfying as those often heavy comfort foods from around the world.
BOYT: You are a classically trained French chef. When and why did you decide to be a raw chef instead of following your training?
Lisa Mann: As I was completing my training and consuming a large quantity of rich cooked foods, I noticed that my health began to decline. I felt tired and sluggish and suffered from a variety of health problems. As a result of this I began to explore, applying the skills and knowledge I had acquired during culinary school to healthy raw foods—and I got great results. I found that by making many recipes with raw foods the pure flavor of the food could shine, and my health could shine too.
BOYT: When non-raw people think about eating raw they often think eating lots of salad, raw carrots and other foods that in great quantity could become pretty boring. But, in The World Goes Raw Cookbook, you mention being able to prepare and enjoy gourmet ethnic food favorites. Do you find that this is a revelation for a lot of folks?
Lisa Mann: Yes, absolutely! For many it is the first time that they have considered how to prepare fruits and vegetables in a way that is enticing to the palette and exciting to eat , much the way that traditional ethnic (and often heavy, caloric) foods are prepared. I have created the recipes to be simple and take minutes to prepare. Sometimes this is the same amount of work to prepare a salad, but the food can be so much more fun. As a result, people feel like they can sustain eating this way without getting bored, and they feel satisfied.
BOYT: What inspired you to create a gourmet raw foods cookbook? Have you found that people are looking for more elegant options for raw meals?
Lisa Mann: Absolutely. What inspired me is the fact that many raw food books cater to people who are already well versed in eating this way. For example, they contain recipes with ingredients that are either hard to locate or are labor intensive. While I do have some meals in the book that are for special occasions and may take a bit more planning (like an ethnic Italian feast, or a Middle Eastern dinner party), many of the foods can be prepared in minutes with ingredients from the local grocery store. My goal and my inspiration was to provide a resource for everyday people to try raw foods and bring this exciting way of eating to kitchens in a variety of households.
BOYT: At the minimum, what appliances should a person have on hand in the kitchen if they want to go raw?
Lisa Mann: Again, keeping it simple, with my book you can go raw with just a knife and a cutting board. Best if you own a blender as well. Other appliances that are helpful are a food processor, a juicer, and a dehydrator.
BOYT: How about spices—what are the basics that make up a well-stocked raw food kitchen for someone who wants to eat ethnic dishes?
Lisa Mann: Fresh herbs spices will always offer the most flavor and nutritional value. So there is no need to stock these ahead of time! The recipes in The World Goes Raw utilize fresh ingredients such as oregano, basil, thyme, ginger, and vanilla bean, to name a few.
BOYT: What do you recommend for those who think that going raw means no more warm meals? Is it possible to eat raw foods that have been heated up?
Lisa Mann: Yes. The winter months are often difficult for people who are used to eating warm cooked meals. Again, the idea is to make this way of eating accessible to everyone. So I recommend lightly warming some foods like raw soups on the stove top. This can warm the food while keeping the vital enzymes in tact. Also, heating the bowls and plates and serving the food at room temperature works, too.
BOYT: Do you recommend going totally raw, or is it okay to eat cooked foods too?
Lisa Mann: This type of eating is meant to be a joy and improve health, so I believe that the answer to this question is different for everybody. It depends on the individual’s current state of health and their goals. For many, jumping into the raw lifestyle completely and abruptly would be too much of a shock, perhaps physically and psychologically. For others, who are already eating a healthy diet and ready for the change, this would be appropriate. The more raw foods, greens, vegetables, fruits, sprouted grains, nuts and seeds in a person’s diet, the better. But by no means does it need to be an all or nothing approach!
BOYT: Your book covers Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Asian, Caribbean and South American raw cuisine. Do you have a regional favorite? We’d love it if you would share a favorite recipe with our readers.
Lisa Mann: Yes, Italy is my favorite region. Actually I have spent quite a bit of time exploring Italian cuisine, as I currently live there for much of the year! I love to recreate regional favorites with fresh ingredients.
Try this favorite salad. It is not only exquisite to taste; it is gorgeous to look at. This is a perfect starter course for a special meal.
Fennel and Orange Salad in Endive Crostinis, Topped with Walnuts and Honey
Yield: 6-8 servings
1 fennel bulb, cut in half and cubed
1/2 red pepper, cubed
4 radishes, cubed
2 Clementine oranges, pith removed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 avocado, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 head of Belgian endive
1/2 cup Best Basic Italian Dressing (see below)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1) Toss the walnuts with honey and lemon juice. Set aside.
2) In a large bowl, mix the fennel, red pepper, radishes, oranges, avocado and parsley.
3) Combine the Best Basic Italian Dressing with the fennel salad.
4) Arrange 6-8 large outer leaves of endive onto a serving platter.
5) Scoop fennel mixture into endive leaf “bowls” and top with a tablespoon of sweetened walnut topping.
Best Basic Italian Dressing
This dressing is so simple and pure, you might never want to go back to the bottled variety!
Yield: 1 cup
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 shallots, minced fine
1 and 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely diced oregano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil to taste
1) Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
2) While whisking the dressing with one hand, slowly pour in the olive oil with the other hand until the dressing is completely mixed.
About Lisa Mann
Lisa Mann is a raw food chef and educator in recipe development. She teaches raw food preparation courses, as well as courses in yoga, exercise, and well-being. A classically trained chef, Lisa has extensively traveled and researched throughout Italy, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America. She is also the creator of Everyday Raw Gourmet, an organization geared toward bringing the benefits of raw food to people throughout classes and retreats.
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