(NaturalNews) This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's Renegade Roundtable, which can be found at http://www.RenegadeRoundtable.com. In this excerpt, Matt Amsdam shares on raw food presentations, ingredients, combinations and must haves.
Renegade Water Secrets with Matt Amsdam, the CEO of Rawvolution and owner of the Rawvolution café in Santa Monica. He's also the creator of "The Box," which ships raw foods directly to customers in the continental U.S. overnight.
Kevin: This is a good question. I've had the Big Matt at Rawvolution. Why do you replicate cooked food? What's the reason for that?
Matt: I think it's just that anything else would just sort of be arbitrary. There's certain things that have become popular in cooked food because they work. While they may not be made of the best ingredients, you can't deny that a sandwich is popular. There's something great about a sandwich, right? Let's face it. Those textures and flavors work together. That's a recipe that's stood the test of time. So I say why try to reinvent the wheel completely when you can take all the best parts of cooked food and say, "OK, sandwiches are good, let's just make a raw sandwich." Essentially it's the same thing - lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard and things like that. Switch out the patty and switch out the bread and just make all of the ingredients of a higher quality. No reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It's kind of a fun thing.
I worked at McDonald's at one time and so it's a little bit of fun. No one's going to think that they're eating a Big Mac when they're having a Big Matt, but it has some of the same elements. For some reason when you have pickles and onions and mustard together people like that. That's proven by the fact that billions and billions of people have eaten those combinations on McDonald's hamburgers. So it's like a shortcut. We already know what people like so let's give it to them in a healthier way.
It's also a trick for coming up with recipes. It's a little bit of a challenge. It would seem harder for me to put four or five ingredients together and then come up with some new name for it that I just made up. People have a framework for what you're trying to go for when you do the replication.
Kevin: Yeah, it's not, "What is that?"
Kevin: Probably recognition as well. Anyone in this movement wants to get other people involved. Do you think that's one of the main...? It's probably a main contributing factor to creating things like that.
Matt: Absolutely. If you offer somebody something and they say, "What is it?" If you tell them it's a sandwich or it's couscous or whatever, they have a framework for what that is. They're not immediately scared off. If you come up with some new name and you tell them that made up name that's not going to give them any information that they're looking for. So it's kind of meeting people on their level of building report and saying, "OK, well this is our version of a burger." So that they're not completely shocked by what they're getting and they have some framework for, "OK, this is some sort of sandwich. Now I'm not so afraid of it. Let me try it."
Kevin: It does taste like a Big Mac, by the way.
Matt: Oh, good, thank you.
Kevin: One question: Raw mustard, how do you make raw mustard?
Matt: We don't make it but there are companies that do and we get it from them. Stone-ground mustard made with sea salt and apple cider vinegar, horseradish and things like that. Most of the things we have to make. You were talking about raw restaurants before, it's really such a different animal. Any restaurant in the country they get their hamburger buns and their tomato sauce and all of these things pre-packaged and that's just something they order. Where everything in a raw restaurant, all the breads are homemade and everything right down to the tomato sauce. Mustard is that one exception. It's kind of nice to get a raw product that you didn't have to invent.
Kevin: Do they sell that retail? Is there a retail brand?
Matt: Yeah. Eden is one and True Natural Taste is another brand that I'm sure health food stores or whole food stores will have.
Kevin: I love mustard.
Matt: Yeah, mustard is a fantastic invention.
Kevin: Thank goodness. What about food combining? Do you adhere to any particular rules or do you say hey, just do what your body says?
Matt: Well I think for any raw food chef to be a hardcore food-combining advocate is tough because the whole idea is sort of going for taste. But you'll find the things that taste best...If you look at my book, I wouldn't say that everything is ultimate in food combining compatibility, but there's nothing that's a horrible combination. The biggest no-no's we usually keep away from like mixing melon with other things. It's sort of about towing the line between doing the best possible thing health-wise and what's going to keep you eating raw. The best combining of food is not to combine at all and eat everything individually, but most people wouldn't be able to stick with that for very long.
My recipes, I have a goal of trying to make it taste the best with the fewest ingredients. If you open my book there's never a list of ingredients as long as your arm. I'm kind of a minimalist, even as far as raw food preparation goes so I try to keep the ingredients to a minimum, like five or six things tops. Sometimes that's including salt and lemon and oil. So the combinations aren't so bad at all.
Kevin: Do you use a lot of Nama Shoyu?
Matt: We've actually been transitioning away from using so much. We've been creating our own replacement by using miso, blending miso paste with water. We found that in a lot of the recipes it's a reasonable, or often very good, substitute. It's a good quality product. It's made with care, certainly. It's a good product but it's probably not something you want to have tons of everyday. There's people that are sensitive to wheat and they don't like that about it.
Kevin: What other salt substitutes are there? Miso mixed with water. Is sea salt comparable? I don't see many people saying, "Just add sea salt instead of Nama Shoyu." What's the thought here?
Matt: The reason is not just taste or health benefits. Sea salt is fantastic and I think it's not only OK but it's actually health promoting when used the right way. I think sometimes the liquid aspect of Nama Shoyu creates nice textures. A good example is the taco meat in my book just simply wouldn't work if we switched the Nama Shoyu with sea salt. So sometimes it's using the fact that it's a liquid as an asset to creating a certain texture.
Kevin: Gotcha. That makes a lot of sense. That's the first time I've ever heard it that way. I've asked that question before and no one really knows.
Matt: I was actually talking about that earlier today. Every ingredient combination is a combination that has a consequence of taste and of texture. So while you can achieve the same taste with salt instead of Nama Shoyu, you can't always get the same texture. So both of those things have to be considered when you come up with a good recipe.
Kevin:. We have a question from your number one fan, who is Bunny, and the question is: Hey Matt, if you're stranded on an island with only two ingredients, what would they be and why?
Matt: Two ingredients, wow. At that point I don't think you could call them ingredients. They'd just be food.
Kevin: Yeah, they're food. [laughs]
Matt: You're not going to have many combinations. I think it would be silly not to say coconut, because there are a lot of people stranded on islands that live on coconuts. That would have to be one. If you look at all the indigenous island tribes you'd almost, exclusively coconuts in some cases are a percentage of their diet. I would say that would be a good one. Coconut is an amazing food and there's no other ingredient or other food in the raw food pantheon that results in so many other foods or products like coconut oil, coconut butter, shredded coconut, coconut slush that can be eaten fresh or dehydrated. It's so healthy. It's gotten a bad rap over the years from the canola farmers and people like that trying to vilify tropical oils, as they deem them. But coconut is great for the joints and the hair and digestion and brain and it's anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, anti-mold. It's really a fantastic food. So I would have to say coconut.
And then some kind of greens. You'll see if you look at actual islands they'll always have some type of coconut and some type of wild, edible green that's a protein source and source for most of their minerals.
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