Menuism Dining Blog
Dining education for foodies

Raw "lasagna" from Luna's Living Kitchen. Photo by sonya nuri

Raw “lasagna” from Luna’s Living Kitchen. Photo by sonya nuri

Have you made a resolution to eat better? If you’re filling your plate with healthy fruits and vegetables, that’s cool. But if you’re one of the many people embracing the raw food trend, that’s even cooler! Raw foods have exploded in popularity, in part because of the health benefits: Raw foods are full of enzymes and nutrients that boost your immune system and help prevent — and sometimes even reverse — cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and many other health problems. But going raw is also popular because creative chefs are thinking outside the salad spinner and whipping up delectable fresh fare.

Carissa Leventis-Cox, the blogger behind Mama in the Kitchen … and She Ain’t Cookin’, prepares a cornucopia of raw and cooked fare for her family that includes mainstays like raw pizza made with sprouted buckwheat crust, cashew “cheese,” and marinated cherry tomatoes. Leventis-Cox says that before they changed their diet, she, her husband, and son suffered from frequent colds and coughs. Now they eat about 50 percent raw vegan foods and rarely get sick.

Ani Phyo, a raw vegan chef and award-winning author, has noticed similar benefits. “Eating raw vegan foods helps increase my mental clarity, focus, and productivity,” she says. “I have boundless energy, don’t need as much sleep, haven’t had a flu or cold in about 20 years, and look and feel better than ever!”

Mimi Kirk, who won PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50 contest in 2010, attributes her youthful good looks (she’s 73 but looks about three decades younger) to her raw vegan diet. She recently put together a cookbook, Live Raw, that features some of her favorite recipes, including butternut squash soup, sweet red pepper coconut wraps, and stuffed zucchini squash blossoms.

Mixed Catering Platter from Leaf Organics. Photo by Rod Rotondi

Mixed Catering Platter from Leaf Organics. Photo by Rod Rotondi

Seventy-year-old Annette Larkins is another age-defying raw foodie. She has eaten raw vegan foods, which she calls her “fountain of youth,” for nearly 30 years. She has the skin of a model and the figure of a showgirl. Mrs. Larkins not only looks half her age, she feels it. She bounces out of bed at 5:30 a.m. every morning and lays claim to a never-ending abundance of energy.

Leventis-Cox encourages people who are interested in trying a raw lifestyle to take it one step at a time. The first thing to do, she says, is to get rid of everything processed in your kitchen and in your family’s diet. This includes canned and packaged food, frozen dinners, junk food, and sodas. Then, she suggests, add fresh, raw foods — fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds — to your diet a little at a time.

Says Phyo, “You don’t need to be extreme to see and feel the benefits of a whole food diet. Just add a shake or smoothie, large green salad, and/or raw vegan dessert to any meal. These nutrient-rich foods will fill you up and help you feel more satisfied, and you won’t have as much room in your belly to eat as much of the other foods on your plate. You’ll immediately notice that you feel lighter, tighter, and that your mind feels clearer.”

More and more restaurateurs are responding to the call of the raw, too. Below is just a sampling of restaurants and cafés around the country that specialize in uncooked cuisine:

Luna’s Living Kitchen
Charlotte, North Carolina

Pure Food and Wine
New York, New York

Quintessence
New York, New York

The Raw Café
Detroit, Michigan

Beets Café
Austin, Texas

Fruitive
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Matthew Kenney
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Santa Monica, California
Chicago, Illinois
Miami, Florida

Merge
Buffalo, New York

Leaf Organics
Los Angeles, California

Café Gratitude
Venice, California
Santa Cruz, California
Berkeley, California
Los Angeles, California

ChocolaTree
Sedona, Arizona

Raw Can Roll
Wayne, Pennsylvania

Oasis
Malvern, Pennsylvania

Thrive
Seattle, Washington

Omar’s Rawtopia
Salt Lake City, Utah

Rawbert’s Organic Garden
Beverly, Massachusetts

Café 118°
Orlando, Florida

Rawk Star Café
Palm Harbor, Florida

Leafy Greens Café
St. Petersburg, Florida

Posted by on February 19th, 2013

Filed In: Raw Food

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Michelle Kretzer learned about factory farming while pursuing a degree in Journalism at the University of Kentucky. She immediately stopped eating meat and dedicated herself to the cause of animal rights. When she is not writing for PETA, Michelle enjoys doting on her German shepherd mix, Hannah, traveling, collecting Beatles memorabilia, and finding great cruelty-free shoes and bags.

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