Living-food chef Pam Gharibians holds raw desserts workshop







What: Learn to make a variety of raw desserts with living-food chef Pam Nectar Gharibians

When: 6-8:30 p.m. March 27-28

Where: New Leaf Community Markets, 1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz

Cost: $48 per class, $80 both

Details: www.newleaf.com/events

Tasting raw fudge with bee pollen sprinkles and sea salt can be a wake-up call to your inner connoisseur. If you’re expecting the gooey, sugary monotone of cooked fudge, you may be surprised by the subtle complexity of mildly bitter cacao swimming against the naturally sweet currents of honey and dates.

You’ll probably need two pieces to sort out the tastes, but nobody’s going to judge you if it takes three or four.

“The cooking process can intensify flavor, but sometimes it can also meld flavors that you’re cooking with,” said living-food chef Pam Nectar Gharibians. “So when you are working with raw food, typically, there are fewer ingredients and they all shine individually.”

Raw Key Lime Pie

For the crust

Ingredients

2 cups of hazelnuts

1/2 cup dates

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup coconut

Pinch of sea salt

Directions

Pulse everything in a food processor until it has a crumbly texture, then press into a pie pan and refrigerate for at least two hours.

For the filling

Ingredients

3 medium avocados

6 limes

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup coconut oil

Pinch of sea salt.

Steps

Blend ingredients until smooth. Pour into chilled crust and refrigerate.

For the topping:

1 cup Irish moss

1 cup soaked cashews

1/4 cup honey

Directions

Blend until smooth and pour on top.

Raw Fudge

Ingredients

2 cups coconut oil (melted)

3 cups cacao powder

4 pitted dates

Pinch of sea salt

Bee pollen

Directions

Blend all ingredients, except the bee pollen, until smooth, then pour into a shallow dish. Sprinkle with bee pollen. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before serving.

You can taste the sweeter side of a raw food diet for yourself March 27 and 28 when Gharibians whips up some raw desserts at a two-part workshop at the Westside New Leaf Market. Participants will learn about the benefits of eating raw, as well as how to create a selection of raw desserts. Chocolate bee pollen fudge, coconut macaroons and key lime pie are all on the learning menu.

Gharibians is one of those taste-as-you go chefs, who’d rather talk about balancing flavors than measuring cups and tablespoons. One advantage of raw food recipes is that there’s no waiting around for the oven’s buzzer to see how your dish is going to taste, she said. You find out pretty quick if the flavors are out of balance by just tasting the work in progress.

Her most common cooking tools are a food processer and blender, as well as small gadgets, such as an offset spatula for spreading.

Trained in the benefits of “living food” as a buyer for Whole Foods and then as manager of a raw food café in Patagonia, Ariz., Gharibians figures she eats raw 80 percent of the time. A typical dinner at home might include a salad with chopped apples, celery, pecans and cranberries (herbed up with sage and rosemary), with a portion of chicken on the side. And when the dinner dishes are cleared, she may serve up a raw key lime pie, with a hazelnut crust filled with avocados, lime and honey.

“A raw key lime pie is a great gateway raw dessert. It is tart, sweet and bold in flavor,” she said. “Avocado and coconut oil both help it set up in the fridge. It’s much easier than baking, too.”

Food is considered “raw” if its temperature has not exceeded 108 degrees. Raw food advocates say the diet keeps the nutrients and enzymes that are good for the body “alive.”

“Raw food is more bio-available because the enzymes haven’t been compromised. The life force is still in the food,” Gharibians said. “If you imagine a raw, freshly cooked apple versus a cooked apple, it’s much more vibrant.”

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Coconut oil is one of the key ingredients in raw desserts, since its sticky, buttery texture holds the other foods together. Since coconut is pretty satiating, raw key lime pie or fudge can fill you up in a way that’s satisfying, rather than depleting, she said.

“I love dates, and I love honey, but I find they both can be a dominating flavor,” she said. “So if you mix the two you don’t taste either — you just get the sweet.”

She’s also known to use Stevia and Xylotol as a sweetener.

Recipes

Raw Key Lime Pie

For the crust

Ingredients

2 cups of hazelnuts

1/2 cup dates

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup coconut

Pinch of sea salt

Directions

Pulse everything in a food processor until it has a crumbly texture, then press into a pie pan and refrigerate for at least two hours.

For the filling

Ingredients

3 medium avocados

6 limes

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup coconut oil

Pinch of sea salt.

Steps

Blend ingredients until smooth. Pour into chilled crust and refrigerate.

For the topping:

1 cup Irish moss

1 cup soaked cashews

1/4 cup honey

Directions

Blend until smooth and pour on top.

Raw Fudge

Ingredients

2 cups coconut oil (melted)

3 cups cacao powder

4 pitted dates

Pinch of sea salt

Bee pollen

Directions

Blend all ingredients, except the bee pollen, until smooth, then pour into a shallow dish. Sprinkle with bee pollen. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before serving.

If You Go

What: Learn to make a variety of raw desserts with living-food chef Pam Nectar Gharibians

When: 6-8:30 p.m. March 27-28

Where: New Leaf Community Markets, 1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz

Cost: $48 per class, $80 both

Details: www.newleaf.com/events

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