Cherie Soria, www.RawFoodChef.com, well-known raw foods teacher, is the founder and director of Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and author of such publications as The Raw Revolution Diet, with Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. She will be presenting at the IVU World Vegetarian Congress, this October in Indonesia: www.wvc2010.org [unfortunately, due to family circumstances, Cherie has now had to withdraw from this year's IVU Congress, but we hope to see her at another event very soon]
In Raw Revolution, you recount your inspiring journey. Here, could you please share a brief version of what led you to vegetarianism and raw food?
I became a vegetarian 40 years ago, when I was in my early 20's. My family members were unhealthy, many with cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Everything I read indicated that diet played a role in health. I must admit that it was easy for me to stop eating meat because I witnessed the slaughter of my pet chicken when I was a young girl and had to be forced to eat meat as a child. My family convinced me that I would die without meat, so I continued eating it. Later, when I realized that was not the reality, I was happy to stop eating it. I ate a lacto-ovo diet for 12 years before I became a vegan and finally became a raw food enthusiast 16 years ago. I continue to eat a small amount of cooked foods, but the majority of my diet is raw.
What do you see as the intersection of raw and plant based foods, as some people eat raw meat, sashimi, raw eggs, etc.?
Most raw fooders are also vegan, although many do eat honey. Very few eat raw animal products, especially meat, since it is known to be unsafe. However, some do find that raw cheese, especially goat cheese and humanely raised chicken eggs suit them. At Living Light, we teach people how to make delicious raw vegan foods, but acknowledge that some people are not ready to eat 100% raw vegan 100% of the time, so we recommend for those who want to include animal products, that they buy organic, humanely raised products.
What led you to decide to attend the IVU World Vegetarian Congress this October in Jakarta?
I have been a presenter at various Vegetarian events for over 20 years and have long admired the work by IVU, but have been so busy with my teaching schedule here in the US that I have had little time to travel to other countries. However, we have so many students in Asia that we could not resist attending the conference in this location. I will be offering talks in Singapore and Bali, as well.
Different vegetarian health professionals seem to have different views of the benefits of raw food. What are some of these differences? Why do they exist?
Until recently, there had not been much scientific research about the effects of the raw food diet. The co-authors of my book, Raw Food Revolution Diet, are dieticians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, and when I first contacted them about doing a book with me on the benefits of the raw food diet, they were skeptical and did not know if they would find enough peer reviewed studies proving that the raw vegan diet could meet the needs of the human body.
After researching for 2 years, however, they became enthusiastic and now count themselves as raw food enthusiasts. There are many different kinds of raw food diets, just as there and different kinds of vegan diets. Some are more nutritionally balanced than others, of course. Most raw fooders believe in a diet high in organic greens and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables eaten as soon after harvesting as possible, so they are high in vitality. My book provides recipes and menus, as well as plenty of information about how to thrive on a raw vegan diet.
What would you tell a vegetarian who is thinking of introducing more raw food into their diet?
Here are some simple steps to add more raw foods to your diet:
Start the day with 16 oz of pure water. Then have juice, a smoothie, and/or fruit.
Begin typical lunches and dinners with a salad, maybe with avocado. Alternatively, have a raw soup as a starter.
If you snack, eat raw vegetable sticks, and/or green juices as between meal snacks instead of other snacks.
Drink pure water between meals.
If you just do these three steps, you will automatically be eating about 50% raw foods.
Then, begin reducing or eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet:
Start by reducing or eliminating junk food, packaged snacks, fried foods, alcohol, white sugar, and white flour.
Then reduce or eliminate animal products, especially red meat and pasteurized dairy products.
Then reduce or eliminate cooked starches, especially wheat.
What's a simple, quick raw food recipe, with easy to find ingredients, that people can try?
One of my favorites is a simple, blended soup. It's easy to make and is a powerhouse, nutritionally: It is in my book, Raw Food Revolution Diet:
Garden Blend Soup
Yield: 2 1/2 cups/625 mL (1-2 servings)
The vibrant green leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and offer more nutritional value per calorie than almost any other food. Vary the flavors of this soup to suit your taste; some people like it spicy and others like it sweet.
A hearty, full-recipe serving of this soup will give you 17 grams of protein--one-third of your day's supply--plus an abundance of vitamins A, B (except for B12), C, and E. It also supplies one-quarter of your calcium, iron, selenium, and zinc for the day, and all of your copper and manganese.
- 3/4 cup (185 mL) purified water
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) freshly squeezed orange juice, or 1/2 orange, coarsely chopped (see note)
- 3-4 cups (750 mL-1 L) chopped kale leaves, packed
- 1/2 apple, chopped, or 1/2 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh cilantro or basil leaves, or fresh dill weed, packed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 mL) light miso
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 clove garlic
- 1/4 red jalapeño chili, with seeds, or pinch of cayenne
- 1/2 green onion (optional)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) sunflower seeds, soaked for 1 hour, rinsed, and drained, or 1/2 ripe avocado, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) mung bean sprouts, Spicy Sprouted Lentils, or Savory Seasoned Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds
1. Combine the water, orange juice, kale, apple, cilantro, miso, lemon juice, garlic, chili, and optional green onion (in this order) in a blender and process until smooth.
2. Add the sunflower seeds and process until smooth.
3. Garnish each serving with some of the sprouts and serve immediately.
• You can use a variety of vegetables in garden soups, such as bell pepper, celery, cucumber, romaine lettuce, spinach, tomato, or zucchini.
• In cool months, use hot water for a warming soup.
Note: The orange juice or orange gives sweetness to the soup. For a less sweet soup, reduce or eliminate the orange juice or orange and replace it with 1/4 cup additional purified water or an additional 1/2 peeled cucumber, coarsely chopped.
Please share a joke with us.
It's called "fast" food because you're supposed to eat it really fast. Otherwise, you might actually taste it.