Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dessert In The Raw

I like to eat. As such I don't really have much experience with any of the fad diets that have come and gone over the past few years. The Zone, Atkins, South Beach, Gwyneth Paltrow's veggie, bean, and well-chewed rice macrobiotic diet (I'm serious, look it up)...all of these pretty much just serve the purpose of depriving me from my favorite foods, usually desserts. But lately several new cookbooks have attempted to incorporate desserts into the New Age Diet fold and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Specifically, I'm talking about the raw food diet. Arguably less of a diet than a lifestyle, "raw foodists" consume only uncooked, unprocessed, often all organic foods. While raw diet foods can be warmed to a temperature of less than 104 degrees, the idea is that all foods are served uncooked to preserve the highest possible level of naturally occurring nutrients and to keep digestive enzymes intact. Having read that last sentence, like me you're probably wondering how BAKED goods could possibly fall within the realm of options under a diet that does not allow food to be cooked. But two new books, Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet and Ani's Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo, tell us that incorporating simple, healthy, delicious and raw desserts into our diet is simple! Cookies, brownies, even cheesecakes!

Uh huh.

I'm still skeptical.

While I'm all for retaining nutrients and think it's unfortunate that so much nutritional value can be lost in the cooking and preservation process, I'm just not convinced that vitamins and minerals are usually what we're concerned with while we're downing that brownie sundae. Additionally, what you gain in nutrition you may lose in value. In order to warm your "baked" goods into anything resembling a cookie, brownie, etc. you'll need a food dehydrator. Cost? Anywhere from $50-$200 depending on the level you select. Also, in order to substitute for items like milk and eggs, most raw dessert recipes call for uncommon and expensive ingredients like agave nectar, carob powder, or cacao butter. However, some of the raw dessert blogs I've come across in my research look downright delicious so I'm trying to keep an open mind on this one, but I'll probably just stick to sorbet next time I'm looking for a raw dessert.

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