It's suddenly sweatshirt weather in Miami, and even though the sun still warms my rosy vegan cheeks, I've been craving some traditional fall flavors to do the same for my belly. With Thanksgiving just three weeks away, it's also a great time to start scouting out some raw, plant-based holiday recipes that are ripe with the flavors of the season's freshest produce but that don't take tons of money and work to prepare. I wanted to find some semi-substantial vegan recipes that would thaw my bones (60 degrees is cold for us South Floridians!) and provide clean fuel for some long runs in the cool air. I sought to incorporate some Thanksgiving favorites like pumpkin and cranberries to bring my tastebuds home to the northeast.
The Raw Truth by Jeremy A. Safron is an excellent resource for raw recipes that skip the cooking and leave you with all the nutrients of unadulterated plant foods. In addition to hundreds of recipes for everyone from the raw rookie to the wheatgrass wizard, the book provides a guide to transitioning to the raw lifestyle, a breakdown of the four raw food groups (fresh, sprouted, cultured, and dehydrated), and insight about what makes certain foods "bio-active" and others "bio-degenerative." (I love that Safron places "foods made with anger" in the latter category.)
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, one of the world's leading authorities on plant-based nutrition and disease prevention, says a diet high in raw foods is "a key feature of an anti-cancer diet style and long life." Below, find three easy, fall-friendly "rawcipes" that I've hand-selected and adapted from Safron's book for your Thanksgiving and anytime eating pleasure.
Sweet Potato Soup
The organic garnet yams in South Florida markets are so delicious right now, you can slice them thin and eat them as raw chips. They'd make a great substitute for sweet potatoes in this rawcipe.
2 sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and shredded
1/8 cup sea salt
6 large carrots
2 pitted dates, soaked in water for an hour and drained
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup water
Bragg Liquid Aminos (a raw, gluten-free soy sauce alternative; available at health food stores)
Cover shredded sweet potatoes with water (not the water in the ingredients list), add salt, and soak for 2 hours. Drain. Juice the carrots to produce about 1 cup of fresh juice. Place sweet potatoes and carrot in blender and blend. Add dates, cardamom, and water and blend until creamy. Season with liquid aminos to taste.
Pumpkin Butter (requires overnight soaking)
Pumpkin is a health-infused superfood, but it can have a starchy bitter flavor when eaten raw, Safron advises. Soaking can remove the bitterness while keeping the living enzymes in tact. Use this healthy and festive butter as a spread for your favorite sprouted bread or top with dried fruit and nuts and serve as a dessert.
1 three-pound pumpkin (Safron recommends "sweet pumpkin" or "sugar pie pumpkin" varieties)
Juice of one lemon
1 cup pecans, soaked for four hours and drained
1 cup pitted dates, soaked in water for one hour and drained
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Peel and seed pumpkin (Safron recommends saving seeds for another rawcipe) and cut flesh into chunks (about four cups). Place pumpkin flesh in a large bowl, cover with water, add lemon juice, and soak overnight. Drain, then rinse and drain again. Safron says to run the pumpkin, pecans and dates in a homogenizing juicer, but I am pretty confident you could get away with using a good food processor or a Vitamix -- just blend until very, very smooth. Then mix in cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla and serve.
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Raw Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries are chock full of phytonutrients and have been shown to possess anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory benefits, all of which are best obtained from the berries in their whole food form. Most cranberry sauces are cooked and full of refined sugar. This "rawcipe" skips the enzyme-destroying heat and the toxic white sugar for a delicious, naturally sweet and nutritious fall treat.
3 cups fresh cranberries (or 1.5 cups dried and unsweetened cranberries, soaked in water until soft and then drained)
5 pitted dates, soaked for one hour and drained
1 cup raisins, soaked for one hour and drained
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Chill before serving.