Raw food wave is hitting the shores in Europe, and raw food chefs like Shazzie are in the headlines. I had a chance to talk to the Irish raw food chef Natasha, winner of the Innovation Award 2011 in Ireland for her Kale Crunchies, a healthy crisp alternative made from dried and locally grown kale.
Natasha’s history with raw foods goes a long way back as her parents grew her up as a vegetarian. Later Natasha founded her raw food company, Natasha’s Living Food, which has a range of products from crackers to nibbles and cakes to cosmetics.
Raw foods to mainstream
Natasha has two well-trained chefs working for her so she can concentrate her energy on inventing new products and growing the awareness of raw foods.
“At the moment I’m focused on growing. I want to introduce living foods to people who have no idea what they eat. I’m looking to export the products but first I need to upscale the production and the process”, Natasha explains.
She wants to integrate more raw foods into mainstream so that it wouldn’t be such a niche market even though many raw foods are becoming more acceptable.
“There are so many different diets even among raw foodies. I want to teach people to listen to their bodies. Diet might work but if your body doesn’t adapt to that, it doesn’t make sense. Less rigid and more intuitive diet would be a good trend.”
We eat too much
According to Natasha there are many benefits on eating raw, and especially living, foods:
“If you eat more life, you’ll get more life. And vice versa. Because you’re not changing the nature of a plant by cooking, the vitality of the living food is the force. Another thing is the flavor. Living foods include amazing flavors”, Natasha teaches.
Natasha is amazed at the vast quantities of food we consume:
“It’s because the food has no nutritional value, our bodies crave volume. You have to let go of feeling heavy and full.”
There are many things in Natasha’s diet that could be used by everyone. Eating raw food makes you understand the real nature of the ingredients.
“For example many people use butter for all things creamy. However, cashews are high in good fat, so I blend them to make “my butter”.”
Playing Led Zeppelin to plants
Natasha uses plenty of superfoods in her products. Her favorite is maca:
“Maca is a great adaptogen that works when your body needs it. Some people need more stamina, others need to balance hormones, and maca works for many conditions”, Natasha justifies.
According to her, the next big trend in the raw food industry is local, and we often forget what grows in our backyard.
“We should look what is growing just around the corner. Go for a walk and see what you’ll find to eat in nature. For instance nettles have greens that our bodies lack”, Natasha advises.
Natasha loves cooking and she has invented all the recipes by herself. I’ve heard that you have some special tricks as well?
“Hahhah. Yes, while making hummus I play classical music to chickpeas in the preparation of sprouting, and when I let them go I switch to Led Zeppelin.”
Natasha loves chocolate and her dream chocolate comes from the cooking book Sweet Gratitude by Matthew Rogers and Tiziana Alipo Tamborra:
“It’s coconut cream inside dark chocolate. Coconut is fluffy, like ice without being frozen. It literally melts on your tongue. Yum!”
Natasha had one of the best food experiences when she was visiting Pure Food and Wine restaurant in New York, which made her think why someone wouldn’t love raw food.
“Those cheese plates fermented with cashews. And the desserts! The texture and flavors were just excellent”, Natasha recommends.
Alice Waters, who began the raw food movement in the 70s bringing it to the restaurant world, is Natasha’s big idol. She also adores the founder of Body Shop, Anita Roddick, who made a crazy impact to cosmetics industry.
“I’m doing the same now, and I try to educate people the best I can as they have no clue what they put into their bodies.”
In future Natasha wants to go international by exporting kale crisps.
“Kale is so tasty and delicious that it will change people’s snacking habits. I want to pack the country with kale crisps”, Natasha plans.
Natasha encourages people to experiment with raw foods instead of being afraid.
“Just enjoy. You don’t have to go immediately 100% raw foods. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. A lot of people set expectations to fail. You can be as big or small as you like, just try.”