Thursday, October 9, 2008

Raw Vs. Cooked - Chili Night

Every year as our weather in Tulsa begins to gently shift towards autumn, my family starts thinking about warm foods like chili. When I first went raw over 3 years ago, the desire for warm food in the fall was the very thing that seemed to challenge my diet. I have been experimenting with different raw chili recipes for a couple of years now and what I've been able to come up with will rival any cooked recipe and it's WAY healthier. Yesterday I decided it was time to do a chili smack down....preparing both a traditional cooked chili and my raw chili recipe.....just so that my family could experience the difference. I used a variety of ingredients, as you can see from the photograph, and the blending of these flavors created a rich, meaty version of a classic chili recipe. Raw chili and cooked chili have one thing in common, they're both even better the next day once the flavors have had time to combine and enrich. I also like topping my raw chili with fresh acutriments like these:
Although I live with serious foodies who don't share my same passion of the raw food diet, they're always up for trying any of my culinary creations. A chili smack down was tons of fun and the results were totally satisfying. I encourage you to try this rich, savory, vegan chili recipe:

Penni's Rawkin' Raw Chili
1 cup soaked almonds (walnuts would also work well)
1 cup carrots
1 med portabello mushroom (or 6 shiitake)
1/2 cup finely minced red bell pepper
1/3 cup finely minced red onion
1-2 finely minced jalapeno, without the seeds
1 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked (reserve 1 cup soak water)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup soaked golden raisins
2 T fresh leeks (yellow or white onion would work)
3 T chili powder
2 cloves garlic
1 T olive oil
2 t Alder Smoked Sea Salt (Celtic is also fine)
2 t apple cider vinegar
2 t dried oregano
1 tsp. cumin
Optional toppings:
black olives
fresh cilantro
red onion
Put nuts and carrots into a food processor and run until well blended. This will be your "meat base," so don't over process. Once ground, place into a large bowl and set aside.

Either on a cutting board or in your food processor, chop the mushroom, red bell pepper, red onion, and jalapeno. Add this to the bowl.

In a high powered blender, such as a Vita Mix, add all of the remaining ingredients and blend until you have everything well combined and liquefied. Stir this mixture into the bowl with the existing ingredients to complete the chili.

I recommend placing this into a dehydrator set at 145 degrees for about one hour. Stirring the chili every 15 minutes will help to warm it evenly. Although your dehydrator will feel hot, the temperature of the food will not exceed 110 degrees in this amount of time.

Serve the chili warm and top with the fresh ingredients of your choice. Enjoy!

(Note: Last night's recipe also included 1/2 cup minced celery, but my dad and I agreed that it made it too crunchy. Although my dad was really impressed with the flavor, he says chili shouldn't be crunchy, so I've omitted the celery from my original recipe for that reason.)

Warning....this video is totally irreverent and it's what you get when you allow your 11 year old to watch Talladega Nights one too many times.....
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