You may think you know raw food: delicious salads, puréed nut sauces, skinny vegetable noodles. Those are a great start, but a recent trip to Thailand (and my own Korean-American heritage) inspired me to think beyond typical raw-food approaches. To my delight, I found that Asian ingredients are perfect, natural partners to already healthy raw foods. Items like goji berries, used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries; electrolyte-filled coconut water; and seasonings such as kaffir lime, cilantro, and cardamom add vibrant, unexpected colors and flavors to raw dishes, along with their own health-boosting antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Zucchini Spring Rolls with Lime-Cashew Dipping Sauce
Serves 6 / Vegan / My version of Thai peanut sauce highlights lime leaves and raw cashew or almond butter. view recipe
Mango, Goji, and Lime Smoothie
Serves 4 / Vegan / Gluten-free / Tart-sweet goji berries are rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, and iron, and have been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years (folklore maintains that gojis even improve attractiveness). view recipe
Goji Cacao Energy Bars
Serves 8–10 / Vegan / Gluten-free / Cacao nibs are small pieces of cacao beans; most are heated but I prefer using them undamaged by heat (look for those labeled raw). view recipe
Raw Carrot and Celery Salad
Serves 6 / Vegan / Gluten-free / Carrot pulp creates the texture and color of flaked salmon salad. If you don’t have a juicer, visit your local juice bar and ask for carrot pulp. view recipe
Tom Yum–Inspired Soup
Serves 6 / Vegan / Coconut meat, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass give this soup authentic Thai character. view recipe
Cardamom Fruit Tartlets
Makes about 28 / Vegan / Gluten-free / This delicious crust is made with nutrient-rich, heart-healthy almonds and sticky dates. view recipe
Korean-Style Kelp Noodles with Vegetables
Serves 4 / Vegan / Gluten-free / My newest favorite raw food is kelp noodles, made from a sea vegetable and full of minerals and iodine, with only about 10 calories per serving. View recipe.
How to use fresh coconut
Look for fresh, whole Thai baby coconuts at Asian markets and natural foods stores. The outer shell is shaved off to expose the creamy white pith; the whole thing has a pointy top and is usually wrapped in plastic. Use a knife or cleaver to chop open a small hole. Pour the coconut water into a measuring cup and set it aside. (One coconut yields 1 to 1 1/2 cups water.) After draining, create a larger hole or cleave the coconut in half; then use a strong spoon to scrape out the coconut meat. Run your fingers over the meat to remove any hard wood pieces.
Ani Phyo is the author of several uncookbooks, including Ani’s Raw Food Essentials (Da Capo Lifelong, 2010) and Ani’s Raw Food Asia (Da Capo Lifelong, 2011), and is the online host of Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen Show. She lives in Los Angeles.