This post is going to be a little different from what I normally blog about. No recipes today. Instead, I’m going to be telling you all about a wonderful event I had the pleasure of taking part in last Saturday – A Raw food Workshop!
The event was held at The Environment Center, in Swansea, which I’m sad to say I had never heard of before attending this class! I’m so happy that I did though, as I can definitely see myself visiting there more often. There is a strong focus on eco-friendly, fairtrade, compassionate living, and they sell a lot of great products in their shop which I will have to come back to look at.. But back to the workshop!
After starting the morning in a bit of a mad rush (and getting stuck in traffic on the way!), my partner and I finally arrived at the event 20 minutes late! Chris Jenkins (the wonderful raw-food chef teaching us that day), was warm and welcoming from the start. Luckily, we’d only missed the introductions, so we quickly introduced ourselves to our fellow classmates and sat back to enjoy the day!
Chris began by talking to us about what he’s all about, telling us of things he has learned, his journey into raw food, and recommending inspirational texts and books we should read. One which he kept coming back to is actually a text from scripture – Essene Gospel of Peace, which he gave out copies of at the end of the workshop. I haven’t had a chance to read mine yet, but once I do I shall let you know what it’s like!
One element of his talk which stuck with me, was his ideas about the importance of raw food. In his view, the term “raw food” seems not an adequate description for what it is. He prefers the term “Living food”. Food which still contains the essence of life, and living enzymes, going on to say that any food which isn’t raw and “living” – is dead. Which is quite an interesting thing to think about!
But enough about that, I’m sure you’re all far more interested in seeing what food was made!
Our lunch was included in the workshop, and for part of it Chris showed us how to make raw vegan pizza!
Since they take a long time to dehydrate, Chris had already prepared the raw pizza base the night before, letting it dehydrate overnight. Then on the day, he showed us how to make a raw marinara sauce, and prepared some pizza toppings to dehydrate ready for our pizza later that day.
He spread the marinara onto the bases, and popped them back into the dehydrator for another few hours. The delicious smell of this drove me crazy!
To tide us over until lunch, Chris made us a lovely smoothie – Pineapple, orange, ginger and dates, thinned out with a little water. It was a little bit mild as he had to make enough for all of us to taste, but the flavour was surprisingly nice. It’s not a combination I would have thought of before, but I will definitely be trying this myself.
Next, Chris announced he would be making raw spaghetti, and asked if anyone knew how he might be making it. Since I’d made it before, I knew it would be made with courgettes! (I even got a little pat on the head from my partner! The cheek 😛 hehe)
The spiraliser caused quite a stir, as though some people might have heard of them before, it’s not a very common appliance to see. Since getting one, I’ve been rather hooked myself! It’s definitely a kitchen tool I would recommend.
Members of the class were encouraged to have a go themselves. Since I’ve used one before, I thought it would only be fair to let the others try it instead. We had a brief break whilst Chris prepared a salad and mixed the remaining marinara sauce with the courgette noodles, and then lunch was served!
We were treated to a huge mixed salad of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and cucumber.
And this gorgeous “pasta” dish, made with the courgette noodles, leftover marinara, and some fresh peppers. The “pasta” and salad made a lovely light lunch, me and my partner shared a plate between us. He had my cucumber, and I had his avocado!
This was really lovely. So light and refreshing.
Chris also introduced us to “buckwheaties”. Soaked, and dehydrated buckwheat. These had a fantastic crunch to them, and made great croutons for the salad.
After our first course, Chris talked some more about his beliefs, and then showed us how to make his raw, seed based cheese.
This was a completely new process to me. Using only a few ingredients (and no nutritional yeast) Chris created a delicious seed-based cheese, with a gorgeous cheesy tang. This is another thing I will certainly be trying to recreate myself.
The pizza and toppings had been dehydrating away throughout the workshop, and after being topped with the extra veggies and nut-cheese, they were finally ready for us to taste!
How great do they look?
We were told that normally, Chris would then dehydrate the pizza a third time after topping it with the cheese, in order to make the cheese crisp up a little. But these tasted wonderful as they were. I ended up scraping off a little of the cheese. Tasty as it was, it was a little rich for me (my partner finished off what I couldn’t!). Everyone else however, loved it as it was, so I think it’s just because I don’t normally eat “rich” foods. With a slightly thinner coating, I found I could taste the sauce, vegetables, and base even better. The crunchy base, rich sauce and cheese, combined with earthy mushrooms and crisp peppers made for a well balanced combination. I would probably add some garlic and chilli to my own version, but this was very tasty too.
The pizza base was absolutely fantastic, I would have loved to get a recipe for this.
It managed to be soft and “pizza” like in the centre, whilst also having a lovely crispy crust. Just this alone would have made the drive there worthwhile.
It wound up being a fantastic day, and a wonderful experience. Since it was a beginners workshop, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The people who attended ranged from those who had already heard a lot about raw food, and had eaten that way, to those who weren’t even sure what veganism was, let alone raw food. But Chris made us all feel welcome, and I think everyone left feeling full of great food and inspiration.
I even got to have a photo with him at the end!
If anyone is interested, Chris Jenkins has a website, www.life-force-foods.com, where you can find out what other events are being held, and even order some of his raw creations. He also takes part in a retreat, which you can find details for here.
I really enjoyed taking part in this. Whether raw or not, it’s an experience I would highly recommend :).