What does raw food actually mean?

Dehydrating foods, temperatures, what happens you cook food

It’s no secret that here at Elspeth’s Kitchen, we’re huge raw dessert fans. From decadent raw chocolate and hazelnut tortes, to no-cheese strawberry cheesecakes, we’re big advocates for guilt free indulgence! We often get questions on what raw food actually means, so we thought we’d dive a little deeper into the process of making our no-bake treats and some of the techniques behind our goodies.

In order for a food to be considered raw, it has to been cooked below 48C though this temperature is often disputed and some people will say it is more around the 42C mark. Whilst at first this may seem a little limiting, there are actually so many ways to get round this rule. Dehydrating plays a huge role in many raw recipes, giving plants a whole new texture, flavour and taste. For example, you can make a crispy batch of cheesy kale chips in a dehydrator or even a crunchy jar of rawnola.

The process of dehydration occurs through keeping certain ingredients with a low temperature for a certain amount of hours depending on desired outcome. For example, soft dried fruit may only take a few hours; whilst a harder, chewier texture may need an overnight rest. Dehydration is great for giving certain ingredients a richer, deeper flavour whilst keeping the fibre content in tact.

There are countless benefits and reasoning behind why we might want to consider adding more raw foods into our diets. Firstly, plants contain a significant amount of enzymes when they are raw, helping to aid digestion and metabolism. When we consume raw food we are getting the benefits of these enzymes, which is typically lost when cooked, allowing us to conserve energy as the digestive system has to do a lot less work to process that specific food.

Amylase which is found in carrot juice actually breaks down carbohydrates, and bromelain in pineapple and papain in papaya both help with protein digestion. These digestive superpowers found in plants disappear when cooked, making raw foods, ingredients and recipes all the more special.

Another key raw ingredient that we love here at Elspeth’s Kitchen is cacao powder – Chocolate in it’s raw, unrefined form is packed full of antioxidants, iron, magnesium and calcium. When cacao is roasted to make standard chocolate, it looses a lot of these amazing antioxidants, as well as some of the enzymes and other important nutrients. That’s why we’re all for raw cacao! It also has mood boosting effects, meaning you just can’t be sad when devouring a slice of raw chocolate no-cheese cheesecake!