On a recent cruise through a local bookstore, I picked up a cookbook titled “A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw.” I figured that if I wanted to learn about a new subject, I might as well start with a title that resonated with my own personal level of knowledge.
Raw foods haven’t sounded so appealing to me. In my mind I have thought of soaked cashews pureed into pudding or some other less appealing manipulation of perfectly grill-able foodstuff. There is nothing culinary I won’t try, however, and I want to learn more about this subject. I like the idea of living food. As it is, we all eat living food every day by way of fresh fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens (except Neil, a beloved employee of mine who only seems to eat burgers and fries). But, eating a totally raw diet seems a little radical and limiting to me. Who can live without popcorn?
People eat raw food for different reasons – politics, health, and the opinion that living enzymes in non-heated food may aid in digestion. There are arguments for and arguments against consuming raw food as a complete diet and I am far too busy with our incredible Alaska summer to contemplate much about that. I just want to try a few recipes and weave some of the best of what the raw food movement has to offer into my cuisine.
The recipe I selected to start with is a type of cracker made with nuts, seeds and herbs.
I had to have a food processor to puree up the nuts and herbs and a dehydrator to “cook” the crackers. Those are heavy investment items but I had the food processor already and I have wanted to get another dehydrator for berry picking season anyway, so it was easier to justify the purchase.
Basically, the recipe involved soaking raw flaxseed (which I have a new affinity for) for several hours until the seeds exuded a kind of viscous coating that I suspect binds the crackers together. I also soaked sun-dried tomatoes in a little water that softened the tomatoes.
Next, I pureed a variety of nuts, herbs, dried fruit, and seeds into the blender. I added in the soaked tomatoes and its water and threw in some salt. After the blending process, I added in the soaked and mostly drained flaxseed, some sea lettuce we had harvested at last low tide and dried in the sun, and a little bit of soy sauce and chili powder.
I spread the mixture out onto a nonstick sheet that came with my dehydrator. My batch of cracker dough made enough for six sheets of crackers placed over three layers of trays in the dehydrator.
I dried the crackers at 115 degrees for about six hours. They were still sticky but I could handle them enough to flip them over. I left the dehydrator running overnight. In the morning, the first thing I did, like an excited kid, was to lift the lid of my dehydrator and peer at my sea crackers. I cut them into several different shapes – round and square. I think they are delicious.
Overall, despite needing some specialty equipment, making raw crackers with nuts, seeds, and herbs is pretty easy. I tried another variation with sesame seeds and sunflowers that I didn’t grind up and I love the extra crunch this adds.
The variations of this recipe seem endless: dried fruit, coconut, different types of nuts and seeds. I think it will be a great cracker addition to our repertoire, raw or not. The following recipe is loosely based upon a flaxseed cracker recipe included in “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw” by Mark Reinfeld, Bo Rinaldi, and Jennifer Murray.
- 2 cups flax seeds
- cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- teaspoon cayenne pepper
- cup mixed fresh herbs (I used parsley, thyme, oregano, and tarragon)
- 1 cup dried seaweed (I used sea lettuce)
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- Soak the flax seeds in water just to cover in a medium sized mixing bowl. Soak the seeds for about an hour or until the water is absorbed and the seeds are coated with a gelatinous coating.
- Place the sun-dried tomatoes, the water the tomatoes were soaked in, the sunflower seeds, the soy sauce, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cayenne, and the fresh herbs into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S blade. Pulse several times until the mixture is pureed.
- Remove the puree from the food processor bowl and place the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the flax seeds and the sesame seeds.
- Spread the mixture evenly onto a nonstick dehydrator tray. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for about six hours. Turn the crackers over and continue to dehydrate for another six hours (or overnight like I did). Remove the crackers from the tray and store at room temperature in an airtight container for about two weeks.