This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's The Healthiest Year of Your Life, which can be found at (http://thehealthiestyearofyourlife.com) . In this excerpt, Nomi Shannon shares on salads, dressings, spices and desserts in a raw lifestyle.
The Healthiest Year of Your Life with Nomi Shannon, Raw Gourmet author and raw food educator.
Kevin: Let's talk about salad again. Like you said, it's sometimes tough or you get bored with salad. What are some of the things you can do to spice up some greens in a salad?
Nomi: I really think the secret of the salad is the dressing. I remember when I worked at Hippocrates, Annamarie Clements was speaking and she told us about a young girl who was very ill and was really having a hard time. They don't just eat salads; they have a ton of sprouts in them.
She said to Annamarie, "if only her favorite dressing could be in it she'd be able to eat it better". They went out and bought it for her. It wasn't even that healthy a thing. It helped to get it down. So it's terribly important that it tastes well.
So here's a quick one that you can just make in a bowl. I call it Orange Tahini dressing. Use half a cup of fresh orange juice. Look, people are going to go out and buy Minute Maid or whatever that stuff is called, and use it. I wouldn't but you do the best you can for yourself at each moment. If that's the best you can do, in other words if you can't make yourself squeeze an orange, which is a little hard for me to grab my brain around, I know that, especially when you're starting out, you might recommend fresh orange juice and a couple of tablespoons of raw tahini. Tahini is made out of sesame seeds. It's just like peanut butter only it's made with sesame seeds. It'll be hard to find in a grocery store or health food store raw and if your health food store has it and it says it's made out of toasted seeds then go up and say, "could you please get this for me in raw, because the same companies that make it toasted also make it raw". Half a cup of OJ, two tablespoons of raw tahini, grate a little piece of fresh ginger root. You can buy an inch long piece of ginger root at the grocery store. You don't have to buy the whole chunk. Just break it off, stick it in a baggy and they'll charge you whatever it is, 29 cents or whatever. Quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of curry powder, a pinch of sea salt.
Just put it in a bowl, whisk it with your fork and toss that over your salad and it's very, very yummy dressing. Then I'll tell you what I use whenever I have a salad. It's not all raw, but I'm not all raw. I used to be all raw. 100%.
I use a little bit of balsamic vinegar, which isn't on everybody's good food list. A tiny, tiny amount of toasted sesame oil which is definitely not on the good food list but it gives it a wonderful taste, I like an Asian flavor personally. Then I use a small amount of either flax or hemp oil which I keep in my freezer to keep fresh, a dash of Chinese rice cooking wine, which is called mirin. I always use seaweed, if you don't use big fresh chunks you can get shakers of different seaweeds or kelp at most health food stores, and something sweet. I'm talking teeny amounts, like agave or maple syrup. Maple syrup is not raw. I don't know if agave is. People say that it is but I find it hard to believe. Then something salty, like a tiny bit of sea salt or nama shoyu which is a soy sauce that's supposed to be raw. So it has something sweet, something salty and something tangy. That works for me in a salad. Is it a perfect recipe? Absolutely not, but it gets me eating big volumes of salad.
Kevin: It's almost like you've kind of got to go with what works for you in order to make it palatable. What are some of the flavors that you can add to make different, like, international meals? I think one of the other challenges, say you do prepare something from the Salidako and now you've got this great zucchini pasta and you're like 'man, I just don't want to have Italian any more?'
Nomi: Exactly. You want to get over the Italian. Well, I'm going to my pantry right now because it's a really good question and there's all kinds of things now on the market that make it easy. For example, if you want something to taste Chinese, I love that flavor. There's a spice put out by several companies, called Chinese Five spice. Just smelling it, you know. It includes star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and pepper. Let's see. The other one is anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and ginger. So they're a little different. Just that alone will make almost anything taste Asian. Then as I mentioned, sesame oil which is definitely to be used in minute quantities because there's nothing good about cooked oil. It's bad for you. So that's your Asian.
There's also, I have ground star anise powder which has a very licorice-y taste. Then Frontier Spice, which is a wonderful company. My favorite spice that they make is called Pizza Seasoning and I use this is my salads, too. I didn't even mention the seasonings I put in it. It makes almost anything taste Italian but it also complements most other dishes. It just has a nice variety of things in it. But Frontier also makes something called Bombay Veggy Blend. Just smelling it, you think you're at an Indian restaurant. It's fabulous.
Then other Indian spices would be cumin and I have something called Garam masala which has coriander, cumin, chilies, something I can't read, I think it says clove, bay leaf, cassia and ginger. So the health food stores probably are the best bet to get these. The spices you buy, like the big supermarket brands, they've all been irradiated, which is a whole other topic, but you want to avoid irradiated food.
Another good spice is curry powder, back to the Indian. I love cinnamon. Cinnamon isn't just for dessert. For people who like things spicy, a little cayenne pepper in just about anything. A very wonderful spice, it has very therapeutic aspects to it. I even have some real wasabi powder which I wouldn't be shy about. If you love the taste of wasabi, which is that hot horseradish green paste that they serve in Japanese restaurants.
Kevin: Feel it in the back of your forehead.
Nomi: If you have too much, right, but the thing is, for people who aren't used to using spices, these mixes, like the Bombay Blend or the Italian spices, are really a good bet.
Kind of like a no-fail approach...
People can be a little afraid of using spices.
Kevin: Now, you mentioned desserts a little bit. I think one of the coolest things about raw food is that you can have your dessert and sometimes it's not that bad for you.
Nomi: Usually if you're making a pie, the crust is made out of some kind of nut. And then the filling, just endless the variety of things you can make, some kind of fruit. Lots of times people will make something like this and eat it for breakfast. It isn't always necessarily the perfect food combining. My book, each recipe has a little symbol next to it if it's properly "food combined" and that's explained elsewhere in the book and there is not one recipe in the dessert section that has that symbol.
They're just isn't, but a lot of people could care less about proper food combining and that's fine. Whatever works. I don't always completely follow it, although I never have protein and carbs in the same meal. So there's almost endless things you can do with dessert.
One of my favorite quick things is, if you like whipped cream. This is so much better than whipped cream. Cashews, that have been soaked a little while, water and dates or maybe agave, if you prefer that. You just can whip that up. It's just so delicious and of course, you can use it on top of other things. The other day I just was craving something sweet and I was lucky enough to find some fresh figs, which to me, are like manna. I cut each fig in half, usually I just eat them plain they're just so good, but I wanted something a little sweeter than that and then I took a few dates and cut them
into quarters and just stuck a date in the middle of each fig and that was it. Just sort of leaning against the counter I made myself a little treat. It can literally be that simple.
Kevin: Say you want to make a raw pie, how much time does it take compared to making something that you stick in the oven?
Nomi: With raw food it's all prep. With cooked food it's prep plus waiting. Say you're making spaghetti sauce and it's cooking on the back of the stove and the steam is rising, that's how eventually you're getting the taste you want. With raw food if you're making spaghetti sauce you don't just use fresh tomatoes, you also use dried tomatoes to thicken it up. So the most work you're doing is making a crust so that was probably a food processor and then you're making a filling, so that's probably a blender, so it could take you 45 minutes to an hour to make a raw pie.
Kevin: It's pretty comparable I guess. This has been an incredible amount of information in a short amount of time. Why don't you tell everyone a little bit more about some of the information on your site and your book so they can be prepared?
Nomi: Well, thank you. I would love to. My site is called rawgourmet.com and my book is called The Raw Gourmet. It's a good book in terms of answering all the questions. If you literally take this book and read it like it's a novel from the beginning to the end including appendix, you will have
everything you need to know about having a raw food kitchen. It has 250 or so recipes in it, filled also with full color photographs. A lot of people really appreciate photographs of the food they're making.
Kevin: From the website it looks amazing.
So, Nomi, we've just run out of time here so I want to thank you so much for being on this call. This is a ton of information. I know that my wife, Ann Marie, is going to absolutely love this, because
she's always looking for new ways to bring raw into the kitchen. So thank you much for sharing this.