In part one of this series, I discuss the reasons why you might try a raw food diet. I’m not a dietician or medical professional, so please consult with your doctors before considerably changing your eating habits or starting any new diets.
There is a lot to be said for having a really good set of knives. A good-quality 3-4″ paring knife, a 8-10″ chef’s or Santoku knife, and a 10″ serrated knife are three must-haves to get started no matter what you’re cooking. When it comes to raw foods, though, there are a few other tools that can make meal prep an easier, more enjoyable process. You may even have a few of these gadgets in your home already.
Hand-held tools like a mandolin, a spiral slicer, and a julienne peeler are affordable investments if you’re starting to eat more veggies in your diet, raw or not. You can make zucchini “noodles” for a pasta dish, julienned carrots for lettuce wraps, and sliced vegetables for salads with a few quick swipes. To expedite the process more, invest in an automated spiral slicer or the food grater and spiral slicer attachments for a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer.
When in doubt, your regular ol’ vegetable peeler also works wonders for raw food prep. For a simple approach to zucchini, cucumber, carrot, or butternut squash “noodles”, start by just peeling the vegetable as you would normally. Don’t stop at removing the skin: keep going, peeling the entire vegetable, rotating the vegetable around until the vegetable is too small to safely peel or until you reach the core of seeds (in the case of the zucchini or a cucumber.)
A blender and a food processor are two other essentials for making creamy but cream-less purees, fresh gazpachos and salsas, green smoothies, and more. A typical kitchen will likely have one or both of these already. In that case, start there before making investments in anything more high-powered. A high-speed blender, like a Blendtec brand or Vitamix brand, will pulverize nuts to make raw cashew cheese. It’s not that a regular blender can’t do this—if you really try, you can—but having one certainly speeds up the process and makes for a much smoother puree. It’s certainly a nice-to-have in my view if you are just starting off on a raw food diet, uncertain yet if it’s even for you in the long run and if you’ll use the equipment on a regular basis.
Raw food chefs that have become apt at making foods like crackers good enough that you may think they’re baked do so with either a dehydrator or an oven. A dehydrator can vary in price and functionality, with good ones typically costing $200-300 and cheap ones for as low as $50-100. An oven may sound counter-intuitive, but if you can regulate the temperature low enough and monitor the food your cooking, it can work. An oven, in that case, essentially can be a big food dehydrator. You would just have to be careful that the food doesn’t exceed the temperature for raw foods: 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
What are your favorite kitchen tools? Share them below in the comments!