by Linas Kesminas

For a long time raw food was the main food that humans were consuming. It was simple food, not processed and turned into fancy meals. But as the time passed man got more sophisticated in his actions, was searching for new experiences, improvements. The food was not an exception. And now in our days hundreds of machines and tools are invented to create elaborate meals. Our kitchens are like small factories with quite a bit of consumption of energy (US 4,4% for cooking, 4,4% for refrigeration total for kitchen ~15%, NZ cooking 6%, refrigeration 10% of total Household Energy End-Use and around 2/3 of total energy usage for restaurants and cafes). As well consumption of highly processed foods is getting into habit and considering the amount of energy spent to produce food worth of 1000 kcal is somewhat troubling. The Western Society uses between 7-10,000 kcal and 11-14,000 kcal in USA about 22,000 kcal in Japan.

This enormous energy markup is used by the agricultural industry (fertilizers, pesticides, farm machinery), retail sector (transportation, refrigeration, processing, packaging, displaying and advertising) and in the kitchen (refrigerating and cooking the food).

With progress rushing forwards more and more we get detached from the way we used to eat and prepare foods that kept us satisfied and healthy.

Preparing raw meals, no high processing, no artificial substances or high temperatures are used. To keep enzymes and vitamins in tact the temperature used, if used at all, is about 45 Co. In this way no harmful substances are created as well that appear using high temperatures(acrilamytes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, etc.).

Using some creativity and sciense, electric powered appliances used in raw food kitchen such as dehydrators or blenders can be converted to solar or human powered machines.

Adding to this the knowledge of our precestors and the possibilities of using the ingredients from arround the world healthy, enviroment friendly, low energy consuming kitchen can be created where abundance of tasty and healthy meals can be prepared.

Soaking, Sprouting Dehydrating (sun drying) Fermenting Blending Juicing Freezing

Soaking and sprouting certain foods allows them to be broken down into their simplest forms. The metabolic activity of resting seeds increases as soon as they are hydrated during soaking. The reserve chemical constituents such as protein, starch and lipids, are broken down by enzymes into simple compounds that are used to make new compounds Soaking as well dissolves the enzyme inhibitors enabling optimal digestion and absorbtion. The content of nutrients dramatically increases during the soaking and sprouting processes. In some cases proteins, vitamins, enzymes and minerals can increase by 1200%. The increased contents of protein, fat, fiber and total ash are only apparent and attributable to the disappearance of starch. However, improvements in amino acid composition, B-group vitamins, sugars, protein and starch digestibilities, and decrease in phytates and protease inhibitors are the metabolic effects of the sprouting process. Sprouted or soaked seeds, nuts, grains have concentrated their vital energy for the future journey to grow into plants. At this time it is best to add these “little fellows” to your daily diet. Season your salad, make pates out of sprouted sunflower seeds, put soaked almonds in to your morning smoothie, etc. Main items used for soaking and sprouting : jars, bowls, trays, colanders, etc.

Example: Take hulled sunflower seeds. Put in the jar, pour some water and soak over night. Drain the seeds. Pour them into colander. Put colander over the bowl to let the excess water to drip. Leave it like that until evening. At evening rinse the seeds under the running tap. Drain and leave in the colander over night. Repeat rinsing at morning and evening. until the seeds starts to sprout. You can start using them for food and sprout them rinsing every morning and evening. You can sprout them for extra couple of days until small leaves appear. Store them in the fridge.

Dehydrating is a good way of preserving food. While dehydrating you reduce the water content thus preventing the produce from spoiling(good for storage), reducing weight (good for traveling) making more calorie dense (good for nutrition). During dehydration low temperatures are used so not as much nutrients are lost compared to cooking (ex. very small amount of Vitamin C is lost and most of Vitamin A (or Beta Carotene) is left). If dehydrate different blended food items various textures (pliable, crunchy, hard, etc.)can be created , different meals (granola bars, wraps, crackers, etc. )can be made that can increase the variety of meals used in a daily life. Main items and appliances used for making dehydrated foods: dehydrator, spatulas, bowls, knifes, blender, etc.

Example: In food processor or blender puree some vegetables or fruits (if you want a cracker to be sweet) add spices, add ground flax seeds. Mix well. Spread on stick sheet. Dehydrate in dehydrator for 6-12 hours. Flip. Peel off non-stick sheet and leave the crackers on the rack to dehydrate for an extra 6-12 hours depending thickness. After, keep dehydrated crackers in air tight container for weeks. –

Fermentation is a cheap and energy efficient mean of preserving perishable raw materials. Fermentation can salvage waste food which otherwise would not be usable as food by changing the consistency of the product and making it digestible. This increases the range of raw materials available as food. Fermentation processes can result in increased levels of vitamins in the final product. Fermented foods are often more easily digestible than unfermented foods. Substances in fermented foods have been found to have a protective effect against the development of cancer. The lowering of the pH inhibits the growth of food spoiling or poisoning bacteria and destroys certain pathogens. Also certain lactic acid bacteria (e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus) and moulds have been found to produce antibiotics and bacteriocins. Fermentation can improve the flavour and appearance of food. It is well worth adding fermented food items in to your diet to introduce new flavours or to extend the variety of meals.

Main items and dishes used for fermenting: pots, crocks, jars, cheese cloths, strainers.

Example: Soak almond nuts over night, take the skin off. Blend them until almost smooth. Add probiotics or rejuvelac. Blend again . Pour into strainer lined with cheese cloth. Ferment for 4-6 hours, depending on sourness you like. Different spices can be added. Can be kept in the fridge for several days. –

Blending, mashing makes it easier for a digestive system to extract many micro-nutrients that are abundant in plant foods. It is because the fiber is being broken down so there are less obsticles for body to absorb nutrients. Different drinks and meals can be created using blender, food processor or simply knifes. Main kitchen appliances and items used: blender, food processor, mortar and pestle, knifes.

Example: Soak cashews in the water for 4-6 hours. Drain. Pour into blender. Add some water (depending on the thickness you want to have), spices (ex. garlic, onion powder, nutritional yeast, black pepper, lemon juice, salt). Blend until smooth. It can be used as a dip, spread, etc.

Juicing. Is a good way of getting energy and nutrients. Nutrients from juiced vegetables are already found in our bloodstream in about 30 minutes after consumption. Many of the nutrients are trapped in the fiber and when you eat a raw carrot, you are only able to assimilate about 1% of the available beta carotene. When a carrot is juiced the fiber is removed and nearly 100% of the beta carotene can be assimilated. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices should be consumed right away. When they are stored, they can lose their nutritional value very quickly. Main kitchen appliances and tools used for juicing: juicer, strainer, jars, bowls. Example: take some vegetables and fruits. Put them through the juicer. Drink the juice right away the juicing is completed.

Freezing is convenient way to store produce for a longer periods. It prevents food from spoilage microbial decomposition, enzymatic or non-enzymatic chemical changes or other losses. In general the loss of nutrients when freezing them is smaller compared to cooking, canning. Also by chilling, freezing, cooling some ingredients such as coconut oil, irish moss, agar-agar you can prepare different meals not applying high heat and achieve similar effect of solidification, texture, etc. Main thickening agents: Irish moss, cacao butter, coconut oil, agar-agar. Example: Blend soaked cashews with water and berries (black currant) or juice until you get smooth texture. Add some coconut oil (liquid), blend a little bit more. Pour into small cups ant put into freezer for a while or refrigerator for a bit longer time until it firms up.