I went to a raw food workshop here in Ubud with Jonny Fresh from Raw Food Bali.
At the beginning of the class Jon, a cruisey Canadian, explained that he was once your typical beer drinking, pizza eating uni student until he went travelling and happened to meet a raw foodist. After being introduced to the world of raw Jon embarked on an 8 day juice fast, then went 100% raw for 3 months (these days he sits around 85-95% raw food diet). Jon then completed a raw food training course with Elaina Love and now lives in Bali running raw food workshops and managing his website Raw Food Bali.
First up in our ‘cooking’ class was a raw pumpkin pie smoothie. I’d never tried pumpkin in a smoothie before, but it is a recipe I will definitely be trying again at home. You skin and peel the pumpkin and leave it to soak overnight, which means it is nice and soft when you blend it. Throw in some dates, nuts, spices and nut milk and whizz it all up – yummo!
Next we made a nut loaf by blending up almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds with onion, carrot, dates, thyme, rosemary, chilli, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. We squashed this mixture into a small loaf tin and put it in the freezer to harden. Then the loaf was popped out of its tin and cut into slices that were put in the dehydrator. The end result reminded me of Christmas turkey stuffing, seriously tasty.
When it came time to make raw chocolate the whole class got excited. Jon explained that we were going to make chocolate using locally sourced cacao butter, which he heated in a double boiler, adding cacao powder and honey. Then we all got to ‘design’ our own chocolates using our choice of ingredients – including goji berries, cacao nibs, coconut butter and a selection of natural essences. I decided to make lavender chocolates, (not that great actually, but it was fun to try something different!). Jon made himself some durian chocolates using his very precious stash of frozen durian pulp. I had heard about this strange smelly fruit, and figured I should be brave when Jon offered me a teaspoon to try.
For those who have never heard of durian before, let me enlighten you. The durian is a large spikey fruit with a reputation for being very unsociable, this is because it emits a strong aroma which many find revolting. According to Wikipedia “the persistence of its odour has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia”. So, I put the teaspoon of durian pulp in my mouth and waited, I detected a faint, distant, sweet fruitiness, but this was quickly overwhelmed with an astringent, hot, bitter taste that seemed to intensify even after I had swallowed. Nope, not a fan – Jon your durian stash is safe with me – fun to have tried it though, thanks!
Other dishes we turned our hand to included creamy mango kale salad, raw apple crumble and tamarind chutney. I’d never tried tamarind before either, so I cracked open a pod and was pleasantly surprised at its tangy sweet, plum-like taste. Finally we all made nori rolls but instead of using rice we used a jicama root (pronounced hik-ka-ma), blitzed in the food processor then squeezed of all its moisture. The end product was so similar to rice it was amazing! (Read more about jicama here).
The best part of the class was of course the taste testing, we munched our way through the menu with great enthusiasm (except for one girl who was on day 12 of a juice fast!). During the class Jon kept toping up our glasses with his amazing vanilla coconut water – instead of throwing away his used vanilla pods he adds them to bottles of coconut water, what a great idea! The class was meant to run for 3 hours, but by the time I left it was closer to 5 hours. I had thoroughly enjoyed myself – and Jon’s zeal for life and his passion for raw left me inspired.
New foods discovered: durian, Irish moss (seaweed, used for thickening), pili nuts (oily and rich like macadamias, also known as Java almonds), tamarind and jicama.
Favourite raw food dish: apple crumble, a sticky, gooey bowl of goodness!
Recommendation: If you’re like me and think that cooking and eating is a great way to spend an afternoon then head along to one of Jon’s classes (except you aren’t really cooking of course!).
Check out Jon’s website for all things ‘raw’ in Bali http://rawfoodbali.com/