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Article: Healthful, raw-food trend is picking up steam

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  • orionsdad
    04/25/2002 - Updated 08:05 PM ET Healthful, raw-food trend is picking up steam By Jerry Shriver, USA TODAY Before you get fired up about buying a fancy new
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1 10:06 AM
      04/25/2002 - Updated 08:05 PM ET

      Healthful, raw-food trend is picking up steam

      By Jerry Shriver, USA TODAY

      Before you get fired up about buying a fancy new stove for your
      kitchen, consider this growing cooking trend: uncooked foods. A once-
      radical form of vegetarianism called the "raw foods" or "living foods
      movement" is creeping into the mainstream via forums such as gourmet
      restaurants, upscale food festivals, airline menus and big-name
      cookbooks.

      Since the mid-1990s, the health-food world has embraced a style of
      preparation in which all ingredients are raw, organic and vegan (no
      fish, meat, eggs or dairy products), and nothing is heated above 118
      degrees.

      The rationales are that a diet of fruits, vegetables, legumes and
      nuts is inherently healthier, and that heat destroys key nutrients
      and enzymes. So instead of ovens and stoves, the essential kitchen
      tools are juicers, blenders, high-tech slicers and dehydrators.

      Until recently, the movement ("raw foods" and "living foods" are
      usually used interchangeably) gained most of its exposure through Web
      sites, natural-food stores, trade shows, a handful of modest cafes
      and endorsements from a few celebrities, including Woody Harrelson
      and Alicia Silverstone.

      Now, the larger culinary world is catching on:

      Veteran chef Roxanne Klein is winning critical acclaim for her new
      Roxanne's in Larkspur, Calif., the first raw-food restaurant to
      successfully adopt a fine-dining approach. It features artistic
      presentations, an elegant interior incorporating environmentally
      friendly materials, an impressive list of organic wines and an
      average check of $50 per person.

      Renowned Chicago chef Charlie Trotter, who occasionally incorporates
      raw-food dishes into his tasting menus, is working with Klein and
      superstar photographer Tim Turner on a raw-food book for Ten Speed
      Press, due out early next year.

      Trotter and Klein will give a presentation on raw foods in June at
      the Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen, Colo., the nation's
      largest annual food festival.

      Lufthansa has begun offering raw-food meals, upon request, on
      international flights.

      A just-released book from raw-food guru David Wolfe, Eating for
      Beauty (Maul Brothers Publishing, $24.95), promotes the raw-food diet
      as part of a wellness/beauty regimen.

      The most significant bellwether is the all-raw gourmet menu at
      Klein's 64-seat restaurant, the result of more than five years of
      research by the classically trained chef. A recent review in the San
      Francisco Chronicle awarded the restaurant 3 1/2 stars (out of four).
      Reservations are now a must on weekends.

      "It has been an amazing challenge to create an incredible dining
      experience of sensual flavors with this kind of cuisine," says Klein,
      who adds that she was introduced to raw foods by Harrelson. "You have
      to study how the dishes are presented, how to get the aromas and
      balanced flavors and textures to make it satisfying."

      Klein's "lasagna" typifies her approach: Paper-thin slices of
      zucchini, substituting for the pasta, are layered with mushrooms,
      garlic, herbs, marinated spinach, fresh corn kernels and cashew-based
      herbed cheese. The sauce is a marinara made from fresh and sun-dried
      tomatoes, herbs and more than 30 spices. It's served room temperature
      on a warmed plate that has been dotted with herb oils to enhance the
      aroma.

      "We get about five people a day at the door wanting to know more
      about this after they've dined here," Klein says.

      While Roxanne's appears to be the only raw-food restaurant to have
      adopted a consciously gourmet approach, nearly two dozen more modest
      eateries have opened across the country in the past few years.

      The new Ecopolitan in Minneapolis, for example, already is looking to
      expand to other Midwest markets, and 3-year-old Quintessence in New
      York has just opened a branch on the trendy Upper West Side.

      Wolfe estimates that at least 1 million people in the USA embrace
      some aspect of the raw-food diet, based upon traffic at various Web
      sites and the 100,000-plus copies of his book, The Sunfood Diet
      Success System, that have been sold since 1999.

      "And it's just opening up, just beginning," he says.

      Wolfe concedes that America is "the fattest nation in the world," but
      he is convinced that many more people are beginning "to flip around
      and are getting totally health-conscious and fit. It's in the
      American nature to go to extremes."

      And eating raw foods is an extreme but attractive path to fitness, he
      says. "After a meal, you come out more fulfilled, feeling lighter and
      clearer. It turns people on to another level of experience. It's for
      people who are on the cutting edge."
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