I recently attended a two-day Gourmet Raw Food workshop given by Robyn Unrau, of RAW Fernie. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but during the course we enjoyed incredibly delicious raw meals (three each day), and by the end of the course I had learned how to create these meals at home, and felt inspired to live a healthier lifestyle.
The first day began with Robyn, the other students and me sitting down to a delicious raw breakfast – milk and cereal, accompanied by fresh bread and raspberry jam. Now, this might sound a lot like what you have for breakfast every day, and that’s pretty much the reason that Robyn chose that meal – to demonstrate that eating raw doesn’t have to be about lettuce and carrot-sticks, or deprivation, and that it can easily fit into your everyday life.
As the days progressed, we were introduced to various ingredients, tools and techniques common to raw food preparation – nuts and seeds, blenders and food processors, and soaking and dehydrating. Robyn encouraged us to ask questions, and she readily provided valuable explanations about how something should be done, why it should be done that way, and the health benefits of doing so.
What sorts of things did we learn to make? Nut milks, breads and crackers, pesto, falafel, roasted vegetables, pizza, brownies, and apple pie. All of it intensely flavorful and remarkably satisfying! I’ve since prepared a number of the dishes at home. After Easter dinner, I served raw brownies to my extended family and everybody loved them. In addition to the health benefits of being raw, this is also a fantastic dessert to serve to anyone on a gluten-free diet.
Robyn’s Raw Brownies [recipe from the Living Light Institute] require few special ingredients, and can be made in a matter of minutes if you’ve got a food processor :
2 cups soaked and dehydrated pecans (soak 6-8 hours and dehydrate 6-8 hours)
6 dates, pitted and sliced
1/3 cup carob or cacao powder 1 tsp cherry (or vanilla) extract
¼ cup chopped walnuts (soaked and dehydrated as for pecans) (optional)
¼ cup chopped dried cherries
Finely grind pecans in food processor; add dates and process til finely chopped; add cacoa and cherry or vanilla extract, and process til mixed in. Place in bowl, add chopped walnuts and cherries, mix. Place in a 7×7″ pan, and press down firmly. Add frosting (optional, but recommended), and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Can be stored in fridge for 1 week, or freezer for up to 3 months.
CACAO CREAM TOPPING
1 avocado, peeled and seeded
6 tbsp cacao powder or carob powder
¼ cup agave (can be bought at most health-food stores)
2 tbsp cane sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water (optional – add if required)
Combine in food processor, process til smooth.
At the end of the workshop, Robyn generously agreed to answer a few questions for my readers.
What led you to become a raw foodist?
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in the Winter of 2004. She had a mastectomy immediately, and surgery to remove what cancer they could find. Watching my mother go through traditional cancer treatments (i.e. Western medicine) opened up my eyes, for maybe the first time in my life. I started to “see” the world – what we were doing to it – the drugs, chemicals, vast parking lots, highrise buildings – our lost connection with nature and our hearts….. I left my job as a corporate accountant and started juicing for my mom instead! The life in the juices – it amazed me. Sitting in the sunshine on my moms deck – instead of the 30th floor of an office tower – I felt like a rebel. Soon I wasn’t eating meat, then I wasn’t eating fish, then I wasn’t eating eggs – it was just one thing after another! It was like this uncontrollable evolution – and soon even cooked vegetables just held no satisfaction for me. After my mom passed away, I left for California to attend the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, and that was it – I was a lost soul from the traditional way of eating. Raw food has this “force” inside of it – this “green light” as my singer/songwriter friend Brian MacLeod calls it. I long for this food that is natural, organic and unprocessed – straight from the ground, or straight from the tree. My mom may have died from cancer even if she hadn’t chosen traditional medicine – but watching the pain of radiation and chemotherapy helped me realize there must be another way. If you or a loved one has cancer, I encourage you to watch the movie “Healing Cancer” – an EarthNow movie. It will shake you and your beliefs to the very core.
What challenges came up during the transition to raw?
I was so enthralled with raw food that I didn’t have some of the challenges that others do transitioning over – like cravings, boredom, food addictions, etc. For me, it was mostly the isolation of being “different”. Friends stopped inviting me over, my family found me frustrating, others thought I was strange…. I encourage you to persevere! Raw food not only heals our bodies, it heals our whole being – and it heals the planet. No more plastic containers, empty bottles, extra packaging, etc. Raw food scraps are all compostable! I started following the “one garbage bag a week” idea – and have recently moved to one small bag every two weeks. What if we all lived this way? Imagine the change we could create….. What’s changed for you as a result of going raw? I don’t worry about what people think of me anymore. I am truly myself. I have enough energy for at least 3 people now! I don’t watch TV or read newspapers. I don’t need to be around others – but when I am, I have patience, compassion and enjoy my time with them – this is new for me. I love connection with nature and others – but it just isn’t “necessary” anymore. Life is simple – with simple pleasures. I believe meditation is responsible for a lot of these changes as well – but I know that without the raw food diet – I wouldn’t have had the courage to make all the other life changes that went along with it.
What does ‘a day in the life’ look like for you?
A day in my life….. Wow! Business day or Personal Day?:) Well, a business day might bore you – so I will go with personal! I wake up at 6:30 or so, and am ready to go by 7. I don’t wear makeup or do my hair anymore – I don’t use soap or cleansers – life is super simple! I travel with a hair brush:) I sit in meditation (Vipassana) from 7 – 8, and then am in the kitchen by 8:30. Wherever I go, I prepare raw food for my hosts…. So if I am away somewhere, I will prepare everyone a raw breakfast of sprouted buckwheat granola, raw bread and raw almond milk. Then I will head out to walk my dog Lucinda for an hour or two, and then get a bit of yoga in. Lunch preparation is next – probably some raw hemp crackers with a few pestos, and then a decadent dessert for my wonderful hosts! Afternoons are spent hiking somewhere with Lu, or connecting with some friends. Wherever I go, I try to support the local community – finding a concert to attend, a market, etc. Bedtime is by 10:30 latest – I love to wake up to no alarm, so it is important for me to get to bed on time.
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going raw?
I would say – be bold! be fierce! be brave! It will take all of that and more to stay the course. I wish I could say it will be really easy, but it probably won’t. Friends and family will try to pull you back – it will seem complicated and time consuming at times. Old addictions and cravings will come back to haunt you. You may think “one piece of pizza won’t kill me!” – and then you will be back to having pizza every day:) I went back and forth for my first few years, getting pulled back in by friends and family. The day I realized that I was the only one allowing myself to need their approval – need their support… then I could let it go. I swear the universe will test you – make sure that you are strong enough to follow this path! I know you are strong enough:) The earth needs people just like you to be the change. Join me:)
What’s coming up next at RAW Fernie?
We are having a 9-day Immersion Into RAW from May 17-25. This course will allow you to become completely immersed in the raw food lifestyle, so that you can return home and dive right in – making complete meals for your family and friends. There will be another 10 day Immersion in September – allowing you to gain your complete RAW Certification from RAW Fernie. I hope you join us!
Robyn Unrau is an Associate Chef and Certified Instructor of the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in Fort Bragg, CA, the world’s premier organic raw vegan chef training school. Robyn trains clients from all over the world on how to prepare raw food in its healthiest and simplest forms – i.e. green smoothies, raw juices, fresh fruits, mouth watering salads… In her trainings, she helps facilitate a new connection to the earth – like helping you find a long lost lover. She also assists in whole-body cleanses following the Gerson Cancer Therapy program. Her vision for the world is to use raw food to heal one person at a time – allowing for an inevitable massive universal shift in consciousness for everyone! (No small undertaking:) Robyn also travels around the world as a raw food chef for other retreat centres. Feel free to call her at 250 423-7633 with any questions or comments you may have.
RAW Fernie, an eco-lodge dedicated to providing its guests with an exceptional experience, is located on the edge of Fernie, British Columbia – a Rocky Mountain vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all sorts. We nurture healing, transformation, and tranquility. Our truest vision is to nurture your soul, heal your body, transform your life, and awaken your spirit……