Previously, when I thought of raw food, my mind drew up a dull image of bland, sliced cucumbers and carrots and limp greens on a plate. But my recent culinary adventures in Bali proved me wrong.
I tried raw foods for the first time at Alchemy, a small yet delightful restaurant in Ubud.
The presentation of their food was quite stunning. On our table was a bowl of colorful salad with delicious, creamy dressing made of almond milk; a plate of sushi made from vegetables such as carrot, beetroot and cucumber; the Korean pickled cabbage kimchi; kale and almond crackers and many more.
They looked like any regular dishes served in a restaurant, but the differences in taste kicked in as soon as I bit into them. For me, they were quite different from the salads and sushi I was used to, but delicious nonetheless.
If we believe the recent trend of going raw, they are supposed to be healthier than regular foods as well.
Proponents of this raw lifestyle say that the diet is a more natural and sustainable way to care about one’s health. According to them, raw food can supply important nutrients that are usually lost during the cooking process. These nutrients are needed to maintain our health, metabolism and immune system. Some also claim that eating raw food can make the body feel lighter than before.
“When we're eating a regular diet, some of the food is cooked and some is raw, it's hard to digest because the system has to do two different things.
Raw food has a natural effect on the body for cleaning,” Sally Halstead, Resort Manager of Como Shambhala Estate in Ubud, said. Como Shambhala is one of the pioneers of the raw food lifestyle in Bali. It features raw foods in its detox programs, but it is also available in its restaurant Glow, which promotes a healthy lifestyle with its organic and fresh foods.
At Glow, I sampled raw lasagna made of layers of sliced zucchini and tomato with pesto sauce, basil and tomato paste and a side dish of green salad. The dish’s creaminess pleased my taste buds, but the pleasure extended to my belly, which experienced a cool sensation once it received the lasagna.
Raw food chefs only use 100% organic, living plant-based ingredients, thus they have to be creative in creating dishes that look and taste like those made by using animal products such as cream, milk, cheese, meat, fish or poultry.
Milk from nuts replaces the creamy taste of dairy products or mayonnaise, while the nuts, such as almond or cashew nuts, can be used as cookie bases or to replace the role of flour. Another popular raw ingredient is zucchini or cucumber that is often used to substitute pasta.
For desserts, the chocolate sweets are usually made from raw cacao powder. Nut-based cream is a common ingredient in raw cakes along with fruits such as grapes, kiwi or strawberry. Bali, and Ubud in particular, has recently been seeing the revival of the raw food movement.
Famous places such as Alchemy, Como Shambhala, Down to Earth and many more serve not only delicious raw foods, but also nutrient-rich healthy drinks, which can boost concentration and energy and are said to have detoxifying effects as well.
Raw food in Bali’s south is served in 3V Kerobokan, Bali Buddha or at Earth Café.