By Jo Cooper
Certainly one of the greatest culinary challenges I’ve ever faced occurred last month, when my dear friend Food As Medicine Executive Chef and author (soon to publish her 4th cookbook) Rebecca Katz — aka, one of the most famous and sublime healthy chefs in the US — came to lunch at my house.
What to cook?
When I entertain friends and family, and I REALLY want things to go well, I use Rebecca’s recipes. Now what?
Fortunately, the answer was right in front of me. I had just attended a 4-day Raw Food Retreat created by Food As Medicine alum Melissa Windsor in the beautiful Shenandoah mountains near Harper’s Ferry, and had continued eating raw since. Why? Because I felt better, because it’s summer and gorgeous fresh produce abounds, and because my blood pressure improved dramatically (that’s a subject for another post). So, I emailed Rebecca and said, “I’m going to prepare a raw lunch for you, if you won’t faint?” She responded, “Fix whatever you’d like for me!”
Raw Menu for a Healthy Culinary Queen
Collard Wraps, with cashew pate, avocado slices, julienned cucumber, carrot, zucchini & red pepper, and home-grown alfalfa sprouts
(lessons from the Raw Food Retreat)
Zucchini Pasta with Cashew Alfredo Sauce
(So fun! You need an inexpensive “spiralizer” to make pasta in
less time than it takes to boil water)
Peach Kale Salad with Pecans
Sprouted Wild Rice and Beet Salad
from My New Roots
Organic Green Grapes
Brad’s Raw Kale Chips
(one has to have a little crispy crunch
Oranges & Cinnamon
(Peeled, sliced oranges — the slices look like orange flowers — lightly sprinkled with cinnamon. The easiest, most delicious dessert you can imagine).
I didn’t plate the food in an elegant design — I know Rebecca too well. I served it family style on my kitchen table, and she served herself, one thing at a time. She ate one bite at a time, chewing, considering each morsel, occasionally looking up at me, her eyes growing wider with each glance, until she finally said, “WOW. What IS this?” Which means she likes it and wants to know ALL about it. Everything. Where everything was grown, what’s up with the hint of freshly-grated nutmeg, and so forth.
I was reminded of one of the best dinners of my life, when Rebecca and I snuck off one evening during Food As Medicine 2009 in San Francisco, her home turf, and ate at the Millenium Restaurant. We joyously sampled and savored small dish after small dish, grinning as the tastes exploded or quietly entertained, curiously putting our minds to the ingredients, the techniques… every bite divine. Over top of this, we chatted and had fun, caught up and relaxed… and at nearly the end, realized we had been there for 4 hours!!!!! Our marvelous waitress, who had colluded with us throughout this adventure, cruised by asking if we’d care for dessert? We both shook our heads at her, and she said, I know exactly what you need. She brought two giant bowl/cups of chamomile tea with local honey and ginger that was the most sublime possible ending to our culinary expedition.
But I diverge.
Rebecca’s raw food meal had been a success! What greater joy exists, I ask you, than feeding someone you love something that nourishes and pleases them?
ps– Curious about raw? I have lots of saved recipes to inspire on my Raw board on Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/jomcooper/raw/ – including the Kale Peach and Sprouted Wild Rice salads mentioned above.