Jennifer Cornbleet is a nationally recognized raw food chef and instructor. She is a best-selling author and sought-after speaker dedicated to making the world of raw fod an easy and accessible addition to 21st Century kitchens. Jennifer’s enthusiasm for the culinary arts began at an early age and her preference for the flavors of pure, unadulterated ingredients quickly expressed itself. Jennifer attended the University of Chicago, and received her B.A. in Music History, and M.A.T. in teaching English. She taught high school English for three years before beginning her career in the culinary arts. Jennifer’s first book, Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People, focuses on providing maximum flavor with minimum effort, and features recipes specifically designed to yield just one or two servings. Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People is filled with tips, strategies and simple techniques that make it a pleasure to prepare beautiful, flavorful dishes. It has already sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. Jennifer’s second book, Raw for Dessert, offers ideas for dozens of delicious favorites – including cookies, cakes, pies, candies and candies. The recipes are made without dairy, sugar, flour, gluten, or processed ingredients of any kind. Jennifer is a long-time faculty member at the respected Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in California. She also serves as the Education Coordinator and Assistant Executive Manager with the Conscious Health Institute. Jennifer admits that her passion for eating surpasses her passion for cooking. As a result she is constantly developing new techniques and recipes that will minimize her time in the kitchen at maximize her time at the table. She travels whenever she has the chance in order to recharge her batteries and sample the sights, sounds, and tastes of other cultures and cuisines. She recently moved from Chicago to Oakland, California.
Caryn: Hello, Welcome to It’s All About Food, I’m your host Caryn Hartglass. Thanks for joining me. It’s been an interesting holiday period I missed being here talking to you for a couple of weeks. And it’s good to be back, back talking to you about my favorite subjects food and we have some good yummy food topics to talk about today. I’m really looking forward to that. I know we talked about this before the holidays and now I am going to talk about it after but the holidays are an interesting time its lovely, they are festive and very food focused and a lot of people tend to put on some unwelcome pounds during that time so now is the time to try and get the pounds off and I am always out there ready to encourage people to eat more plant based foods they are satisfying and delicious and they help you maintain your weight or loss those unnecessary pounds in a really easy way. And unfortunately perhaps you have noticed there are some companies and food establishments that know you are trying to lose weight during this period so they send out all kinds of enticing coupons like McDonald’s for example to get you out to eat those nasty high calorie saturated fat laden foods for a very low price and it is very tempting and very difficult to stay on the path to eat healthy but we’re here to help and one of the things that is really difficult are those very tempting gooey sweet desserts and I’ve got something great for you today we are going to be talking with Jennifer Cornbleet she has a great new book out Raw for Dessert you’re going to love what we are talking about today. She is a nationally raw food chef and instructor, a bestselling author and a speaker dedicated to making the world of raw food an easy and accessible addition to the 21st century kitchens. And she has another book Raw Food Made Easy for One or Two People which focuses on providing maximum flavor with minimal effort and now this new book Raw for Dessert which offers ideas for dozens of the delicious favorites including cookies, cakes, pies, candies, and recipes are made without dairy without sugar without flour without gluten, or any processed ingredient of any kind, sounds too good to be true. Jennifer Welcome!
Jennifer Cornbleet: Hi, Thanks for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Hi. Thanks for joining me today. And I don’t think I ever met you but I have been to your website and I feel like I know you and I certainly like what you are doing, and your food looks really good. So you have this new book out Raw for Dessert.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And as I was saying a lot of people struggle with weight especially when it comes to snacks and desserts and things. And you put out this book with great tasting and great looking desserts with foods that are good for you.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yes, Well I have always had a sweet tooth and so I have always struggled with eating too many conventional desserts and not wanting to eat a lot of the ingredients in the conventional desserts like you mentioned the saturated fats, butter, cream, eggs, and sugar and all of that. So, I wanted to come up with a book of recipes that taste just as good as the traditional counter parts without a lot of the ingredients that people are trying to avoid.
Caryn Hartglass: And you have done it.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yes. (laugh)
Caryn Hartglass: And so the trick is of course we want to get this information out to people and help them make these great, great recipes in their home because they are beautiful and there satisfying and fine and good for you. I was just on your website LearnRawFoods.com and you have some great videos and one of them is making a chocolate mousse. Can you talk about the ingredients in that because I think they would be surprising to people?
Jennifer Cornbleet: Sure, the chocolate mousse recipes is actually from my first book Raw Food Made Easy for One or Two People and the secret ingredient is avocado. And it might seem really strange to use avocado in a dessert but If you think about it butter, cream and eggs don’t really have much flavor they just take on other flavors and make things rich and creamy. And that is exactly what the avocado does in the chocolate mousse, you don’t even know it is there it tastes just like it has butter and cream it just is a rich creamy chocolate mousse.
Caryn Hartglass: And I know most people don’t about what is in their food and that is part of the challenge. We should know what is in our food and we should know where that food comes from and so people just put things in their mouths and go oh that is good or not good whatever and then you might offer up this mousse and people would say wow that is good and never realize what is in it.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Absolutely, that happens all the time. I will have people taste the dessert they will say wow that tastes so good and then later they might ask what is in it and they can’t believe it.
Caryn Hartglass: So, I like… I encourage people to read labels find out what is in your food but then also you can experiment with these things and I really welcome you to try some of these recipes because they are really good and just like you said if you think about it from this kind of takes away the sexiness of the food but if you think of the chemistry view what actually is butter and cream it’s fat and if you substitute another fat, a healthier fat you could trick yourself and it not even a trick (laugh).
Jennifer Cornbleet: Absolutely, in Raw for Dessert, I don’t get rid of the fat and sugar because that is what makes it taste good but we can change the kind of fat and sugar so instead of those saturated fats and transfats your going to have monounsaturated fats from omega 3’s and walnuts and instead of white sugar you are going to have fresh fruit or dried fruit or natural sugars.
Caryn Hartglass: I was just reading an article in the New Yorker about some very famous dessert chefs I forget the name forgive me for not remembering I read so fast, I get so much reading in. They were talking about when they train their chefs they do a lot of it, blindfolded so that the chefs develop a feeling and the smell of the foods because there is so much of those things that is important in what we eat that most of us don’t think about again, and I wonder if those folks would be able to identify the differences certainly if you ate an avocado plain you could tell it but if you gave them a chocolate mousse made with avocado versus cream.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yeah, I don’t think so.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t think so either. That might be a fun thing to organized sometime, (laugh) can you guess what is in here and then the other part of the mousse is that you use with a nut crust.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yeah, the video on the site is a chocolate mousse tart so you have the chocolate mousse filling which you can have by itself and then the crust what’s great about a raw pie crust in addition to it being healthier there is no rolling out the dough or baking much much simpler it is just about putting the ingredients in the food processer and pulsing for a couple of seconds and you got your crumbs and just press them into the pan very easy no baking or anything. So for the crust ingredients there is no white floor or butter which is what you usually have in a pie crust instead you are using walnuts, dates and a little bit of dried coconut and when you combine those ingredients in the right portion and process them together you can’t tell the walnuts, dates or dried coconut they combine their flavors to have the taste and texture that is very similar to a traditional pastry crust.
Caryn Hartglass: Its really amazing, I have been making something similar with fruits, blueberry based tart in a dried fruit nut crust and I really love it especially good in the summer because it is light and fresh. But, I have not made the chocolate mousse and I cannot wait to do it, because it looks so good. The other thing is more and more people now are having allergies to wheat and gluten and when people discover this it’s really scary, frustrating, disappointing because most of the foods we eat today have wheat in them.
Jennifer Cornbleet: That’s another advantage of the raw dessert it’s already gluten free so you don’t have to wonder if it gluten free, is it dairy free all of these things people are trying to avoid for these reasons or other reasons, it is already not in the dessert so that is really great.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so it is easy and it doesn’t have some ingredients in it that may cause some difficulty and good for you so I…
Jennifer Cornbleet: And delicious.
Caryn Hartglass: And delicious, (laugh) I follow a vegan diet and for two years I was completely raw. I am not now but one thing I learned from that experience is I used to have headaches that would come and last for about 48 hours and couldn’t quite attribute what they were from. Then just recently I started to experience these same kinds of headaches again so I realized I was eating more wheat then I was used to. So I haven’t been eating the wheat and I haven’t had the issues. So I really think I have an issue with wheat. And that’s where these desserts are so wonderful because I always love making desserts. When I have people over for dinner I always tend to go overboard with the desserts and have 2-3 available so it is great when you can make them with healthy foods and not feel bad about it.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. So then the other video you have up there that I love, love, love is you make all my favorite foods. (laugh) The other one you make is the Kale salad. I am fanatic about dark lefty green vegetables how important they are. And your video is great because when you want to eat kale raw it is a little difficult because it is tough and you gave some great tips in that video.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yeah, a lot of times people think they can’t eat dark lefty greens that are tougher like kale or collards or whatever unless they cook them. But, these greens are so delicious and there is no need to cook them to make them palatable or delicious and one thing you can do it blend them into smoothies or drinks. But, what you can also do is eat them in a salad if you cut the kale really fine into ribbons, take off the stem because that is a little tougher. Then cut it really fine into ribbons that help break down the fiber and then the secret instead of just gently tossing the kale with the salad dressing like you would a green leafy salad don’t wilt you want the kale to wilt just like if you streamed or stir fried it, you want to break down the fiber. So you get in there and massage the Kale just for a couple of minutes massaging the dressing and it wilts it just like you streamed or stir fried it and so you preserve all the color, and nutrition without streaming.
Caryn Hartglass: This is really an amazing tip and it is something I have to say I have never done but I am going to start doing. Usually what I do it I put something acidic like a vinegar or a citrus juice and just leave it on the chopped kale for awhile and wait for it to get softer but the massaging sounds really great and I would think it might be a good way to get kids interested in eating these foods to when they can get their hands in to it and mash it around a bit.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Definitely. You still put a little lemon and a pinch of salt on it and a little olive oil on it, but with the massaging you don’t even have to wait for it to marinate it is just a one minute thing so you don’t have to stream or fry your vegetables you can just massage them and they are really, really delicious.
Caryn Hartglass: Brilliant, so how did you get on this path of healthy foods particularly raw foods.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Well, I always loved food and always really enjoyed delicious food, learned to cook at an early age, became a vegetarian at an early age and so I had an interest in different foods, different plant based foods were always interesting to me then later on when I was in college I met a yoga instructor who introduced me to raw foods and he suggested to me to include more raw foods into my diet just include more salads, juices, smoothies especially get more fruits and vegetables raw into my diet decided to give it a try not really knowing what to expect. Kind of intrigued by it and after a month of doing that. And also, I want to mention I am not strict I don’t eat 100% raw diet I like to be flexible. I don’t think it is necessary to eat an all raw diet to experience the health benefits. So I just try to include more raw into my diet and expand the ways I haven’t included especially the plant based food into my diet. And so when I did that for a month really increased the amount of raw plant foods into my diet I noticed my energy my health really improve, I lost some weight digestive problem went away, my skin cleared up, I was sleeping better had more energy so I could see the connection between how I eat and how I feel. Like very directly there. So after that experience I just decided I wanted to include more raw foods into my diet and I also found it really creative because I do like to cook and so the opportunity to develop all these new recipes that are kind of different and unique was just really a creative process for me too.
Caryn Hartglass: People certainly don’t eat enough raw foods in the diet and there is a lot of reasons behind it, but I think one of the reasons is we live in this consumer based society now and people are always looking for ways to make money and one way to do that is to package a food and sell it and got on this intense way of eating lots of package and convenient foods and there is even especially where I am in NY a lot of the health foods stores now sell a lot of packaged quote raw food treats and I am kind of suspect of them because they are not as fresh as they can be and they are dehydrated and they might be better then cooked or highly processed packaged foods. But there is nothing like getting fresh produce, as fresh as you can which is another issue and making it right way. And eating it and as you show and in your book it is really not hard, it’s not time consuming. I love how you show in your video where you are making zucchini pasta takes less time to make strands of zucchini then it does to boil the pasta in the water.
Jennifer Cornbleet: I really focus on easy things because I know people are busy even if you enjoy gourmet cooking everyone gets busy from time to time and most people need it to be quick and easy yet tasty. Really my focus to make it quick, easy, simple as possible none of my recipes are dehydrated, you don’t need fancy equipment or exotic ingredients I want people to know it can be easier time wise to eat a healthful diet and quicker then things eating out all the time, it’s pretty simple.
Caryn Hartglass: Now what about in the winter, I’m in New York for example it’s pretty cold here… is it okay or is it satisfying to eat raw food when things are not really hot.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yeah. What about winter, like I mention I don’t eat a 100% raw diet so I just want to make that clear if you were only eating raw foods it could be done people do it but that might be more of a challenge for your average person. And I don’t do that. But, in terms of including more raw foods in your diet in the winter, I don’t find I have a problem with a like a smoothie or a shake in the morning its very light, very tasty you put some dark greens in it and you use fruits that are in season like a little bit of apple or something when you could use frozen berries. You’re not going to use peaches in the summer or fresh ingredients you are not going to get in season just put some more greens in there and more seasonal fruit and then in terms of your salads you might use some darker greens like kale instead of lettuce. But people are used to enjoying salads year around and you can certainly warm up your foods a little bit it certainly doesn’t have to be ice cold it can be room temperature but things like sauces like tomato sauce for the zucchini pasta that can be warm. Or a soup. You can just heat it gently on the stove, so it is a little above body temperature, you are still preserving the nutrition so you can that warming feeling to the food.
Caryn Hartglass: Very good, it said somewhere in your bio that you like to travel and taste other foods from other cultures and cuisines. I am not sure where you have been. Can you talk about some of the places you have been and what you have eaten while there?
Jennifer Cornbleet: Sure.
Caryn Hartglass: Any interesting raw foods?
Jennifer Cornbleet: The first couple of places I travel to early on is I went to Costa Rica as an exchange student I was in high school and I learned how to make and this isn’t raw but I learned how to make really good beans and rice (laugh) vegetarian dish so that was great. Then I went to India after college and learned to make different Indian curries and other vegetarian dishes so I kind of had interest in spicing and different vegetarian cooking techniques. In terms of raw, I didn’t learn any raw recipes when I was traveling but what I would do is get ideas for recipes. So for example, I went to Paris about three years ago and that is where I got most of my ideas for my Raw for Dessert book just by looking around in bakery windows and a trying a few things. I would think how could I make this with unprocessed natural ingredients but still really imitated the taste of traditional desserts. So by trying different things that aren’t raw and aren’t always the healthiest things but just trying a little bit of it I can kind of get some ideas to make a healthier version of those favorites.
Caryn Hartglass: Paris is definitely a good place to get ideas from. I lived in France for 4 years, the south of France and I didn’t eat a lot of the food because it certainly wasn’t vegan but I just loved the presentation and you could go to the simplest of restaurants, the simplest of bistros and everything was beautiful and once you have that point of view I think it is easy to take it to whatever you are putting on plate and make it look lovely.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: So in your dessert book there is like a theme here where your ingredients are basically centered around raw nuts and seeds, some fruits, some of them fresh, some of them dried, coconut, then of course some sugar and salt, coconut oil, and cocoa powder and I don’t know those seem to be the foundation of most desserts and it is just amazing the things you can make with those things as we talked about the raw nuts and seeds can be of the crust. Raw nuts and seeds can also be used to make creamy bases like sauces and creams and frosting it’s just amazing just a handful of ingredients can make so many different things.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Well, you know a lot of it is changing the texture or the seasoning so whether you use a blender, or a food processer or you cut up the fruits or how you plate it. Like you might arrange a custardy filling around a crust into a tart or a pie but you might also arrange those same ingredient into a parfait for a summer fruit trifle. So a lot of it is how we arrange food is not just the ingredient but the texture and the plating and visually how it is put together so there is another way to get a lot of variety from a few ingredients.
Caryn Hartglass: This is small book but it is loaded but there is a lot of good information on every page and one thing in particularly like in the beginning of the book is you have some very clear instructions on how to use different tools in the kitchen and I read a lot of cookbooks and I really give you an A+ for this one. (laugh)
Jennifer Cornbleet: Well, Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: I would imagine it was little tedious to put it together but it is very clear and so if anyone wants to improve their skills you just have to read some of these instructions they are very simple and easy to follow. And if you know a few different ways to cut, and slice and dice and mince, it makes a big difference in the preparation the look and even the texture of the food that you are making.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Definitely, as a teacher because I also teach raw food classes in addition to writing these books. I am really interested in helping people learn things in a really simple way kind of demystify the art of cooking that people are really not familiar with and can be very mysterious and very mystifying and really break it down into clear steps, technique and tips people can really understand and learn.
Caryn Hartglass: Great. We are going to take a little break, and Jennifer if you could stay with us I want to talk a lot more about this delicious food.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Sure.
Caryn Hartglass: We will be right back.
Transcribed by Donielle Zufelt, 2/21/2014
Caryn Hartglass: Hello! This is Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. And today we are talking about delicious, raw, yummy desserts and other great fresh, raw foods that are healthy and delicious. I’m here with Jennifer Cornbleet who has a great new – I don’t want to call it a cookbook because it’s all about not cooking – but a food preparation book, Raw For Dessert. What do you call it Jennifer?
Jennifer Cornbleet: Well, a lot of people call them recipe books but I still call them cookbooks because I don’t think cooking needs to mean only heating foods. I think it can also apply to other preparation techniques like blending or processing so I like to still use that word, just to expand the definition of it but you can certainly call it a “recipe” book.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I like that. I think cooking definitely would be our understanding of it has expanded to include food that doesn’t necessarily that has to be heated up. So you’ve trained and you’re a faculty member at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute? Can you tell me about what goes on there
Jennifer Cornbleet: Absolutely! The Living Light Culinary Arts Institute is in Fort Bragg, California, a small town in northern California. It’s a raw food chef school, so it focuses only on raw food preparation techniques and we train chefs and teachers, also. Sometimes people go there for personal reasons – they want to improve their skills and eat healthier and learn the skills as a home chef. We have a lot of students who also are professional chefs or want to be professional chefs and include raw food in what they’re doing so they come to train with us. I’m in charge of the teacher training program, so I help train people who would like to go out and teach classes in culinary arts and raw food culinary arts. It’s a great place. We have training all year round. Their website is rawfoodchef.com and it’s a wonderful school to go if you’re interested in learning healthy food. As far as I know, it’s one of the only full-time raw food chef schools out there.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, and have you seen a difference in the number of people that are interested in learning about raw foods and training as a chef? Are the numbers increasing? Is the interest growing?
Jennifer Cornbleet: Absolutely, the interest is going. What I have found too, is that the classes have always been filled because it’s a great school and there isn’t a lot of opportunity o learn that so we always have had full classes. But what I have noticed in recent years is that we have people coming from more walks of life and different countries, different part of the countries you might expect, different ages. The interest in healthy eating is really expanding across more groups of people now than it ever has.
Caryn Hartglass: And you said there were chefs that come that aren’t exclusively raw but they want to know how to prepare more raw foods in their menus?
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yeah, we’ll have people come who are already working in the food industry somehow and they just want to learn to include raw food dishes in their menus, we have people who want to open exclusively raw cafes – we’ve got all different kinds of students.
Caryn Hartglass: I find it really exciting that more mainstream chefs are interested in getting vegan and raw menu items included. I think it’s a very encouraging sign. Certainly I’d love the whole world to be this beautiful, pain-free, suffering-free, cruelty-free, non-exploitative place. But on the path to getting there, where it’s great to have lots of vegan and raw restaurants around, having mainstream restaurants include these foods on their menus is really terrific. One of the reasons why I think it’s happening is because they realize that in most groups today, somebody is vegetarian, somebody is vegan, somebody is raw, and people like to go out together. If a restaurant really wants to satisfy their clients they have to offer something for everyone.
Just like everything in this society, changes are made based on if you can make a profit from something. Restaurants are realizing there’s some business involved, offering these foods.What I’m leaving up to here, amongst other things, is when people feel powerless about their life, about the world, and some people that might bet thinking about moving to a healthier diet then thinking, “what’s the point? Nobody else is doing it.” The point is that change happens by individuals, and change happens by what we invest our dollars in. If you’re going out and buying healthier foods, more healthy foods are going to be offered. It’s that simple.
Are there any particular people that have inspired you in your food preparation?
Jennifer Cornbleet: I get inspiration from all different chefs and my students at the school. Sherry Cherie Soria is the director of the school, Living Light Institute, and the first time I trained there myself a little over 10 years ago I had no intention of doing this professionally, I just wanted to learn for myself. That was a really inspiring experience because I learned there why I enjoyed writing and I enjoyed teaching. I was a high school English teacher at the time, and when I took the training program, I realized not only could I learn to make these foods and gain the skills I needed to develop my own recipes, but I really could learn to teach this and I could apply my teaching skills to share this information with people. I was really inspired by her, by the teacher training program at the Living Light Institute, and that’s what really made me make this career change and kind of step out and kind of say, “I’m going to teach, and I’m still going to be a teacher, but I’m going to teach people how to make healthy foods.”
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you’re doing a great thing and teaching is challenging. What’s going on in the school systems, I’m not sure how we’re going to come out of it because some of isn’t working and some if it isn’t inspiring the kids. It’s so, so necessary so to be able to find something you like to teach and to find an audience that wants to hear what you have to say is a really great thing. Cherie Soria influenced me too because I was invited to speak at her Raw World conference in Costa Rica, around 2003, 2004…something like that and I was there for the week and ate the food and when I came home I said, “I can do this. I think I’ll be raw,” and I did that for two years. She’s definitely very inspirational for a lot of people.
What about organic food? Do you use a lot of organic foods, is that important to you?
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yeah, it is and I always tell people to do what you can because I don’t want people to feel like if they can’t afford or have access to organics then it’s not worth even trying. Do what you can. But I do try to get organics whenever I can at farmers markets or natural food stores, especially fresh produce ingredients like greens, berries and different kinds of fruits to avoid the pesticides also to support the small farmers. It’s got increased nutritional content, it’s better for the environment, it’s better politically to be supporting small farmers here, making good choices for your health. I do whatever I can to support it. I just tell people to do the best you can.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s the best advice, “do the best you can.” Once you start doing what you think the best you can is sometimes you can always do a little more, it always gets a little better. Now you’re in northern California where the produce is pretty amazing.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yes, and you know that wasn’t always the case. Until last year I lived in Chicago for twenty years. I’ve only been living here for a year, so it is wonderful to have access to all those great produce that it’s totally possible, well it was possible in Chicago, too, to use seasonal ingredients to do a lot, too. You don’t necessarily have to be in a place like California.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a really good point, and I know that a lot of people – you’ve probably heard this when you say talking about eating organics or eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables – people complain and say it’s expensive. But there are ways around it where it doesn’t have to be expensive and when you’re thinking about your food budget, some people forget where some of that money goes. A lot of it goes to “foods that aren’t really healthy,” and if you don’t eat them as much or don’t choose them as much, there’s a lot more money in your food budget for high quality food that keeps you feeling good, gives you lots of energy, prevent those diseases, give you a long life, etc. Do you have any favorite restaurants, especially in the Bay Area? There are a number of them.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yeah, well that’s been great, I’ve really been impressed here with the number of restaurants that have vegetarian options, that use only organic ingredients, where you can brown rice instead of white rice, all these different choices where in Chicago you’re a lot more limited, but that has been nice here. I live in Oakland and in the East Bay of San Francisco, there’s just a lot of ethnic restaurants. Asian restaurants, other kinds of restaurants, Indian, where it’s very easy to eat vegetarian, even gluten-free and organic, so that’s great.
Caryn Hartglass: Do you ever work with children?
Jennifer Cornbleet: You know, I haven’t. I think it’s a wonderful thing to do and very necessary. I’ve had some young people come to my classes sometimes, either working with parents or by themselves and that’s great to see, but I haven’t worked directly with children.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s probably one of the biggest challenges because you can control really young children, certainly and infants with breast milk and then at one or two or three years old, you have a lot of opportunities to control what the child eats. I know that when you feed a child healthy, nutritious food and don’t incorporate junk food into their diet at an early age, they usually don’t develop a taste for it. Then there’s kindergarten, and all those kids want to be like everybody else and have the same things and most kids don’t want to be different. There’s so many packaged convenient, unhealthy, fast options that parents choose for their children and I don’t want to pass judgment but I don’t know how many of these parents choose these things because they’re certainly not good for their children. But then the children aren’t being fed healthy foods, they’re curious, and the most popular of all is that white flour component. The white flour that’s in bagels, breads, pretzels and cookies…you haven’t worked with children, but do you…never mind, I guess adults are just older children.
Jennifer Cornbleet: I think education is so important. I did teach high school English so I was teaching teenagers at that point. I would bring my lunch to class and it was always something really healthy and vegetarian. Most of these kids lived on fast food, but they would look at my lunch with curiosity and be like, “what’s that?” so I think kids are naturally curious. I think you can use that to get kids engaged in something like cooking healthy foods.
Caryn Hartglass: And so you’re primarily training other people who want to become chefs. Do you do any other types of training?
Jennifer Cornbleet: Absolutely, yeah, at the Living Light Institute that’s what I focus on, teaching teachers. Other than that, what I focus on is teaching complete beginners so through my books I teach classes in the East Bay, I taught a lot of classes in Chicago, and now that I’ve moved to California I’m going to start teaching a lot of classes in the East Bay. Those are all available on my website. I’m looking forward to teaching classes to beginners as well as my work at the Living Light Institute.
Caryn Hartglass: So I’m curious, is there a stereotype of the people who come that want to know how to prepare raw foods or is it a very diverse community?
Jennifer Cornbleet: It’s really a pretty diverse community, I mean I would say I would focus more on audiences that are beginners and that want to add raw foods to their diet. There’s definitely goofy people out there that are very strict, 100% raw, you know that are really hung up on that. That’s not really the group of people I’m trying to reach, I don’t want to be some exclusive thing. I also don’t think that – getting off on a little tangent here, but I think it’s just important to say – that the health of food is only defined by is it raw or not because you can have something that’s not raw like steamed broccoli that’s very, very healthy or something that is raw, like my chocolate mousse, which you don’t want to eat all the time, it’s not as healthy and you don’t want to live off that. I think there’s a spectrum of what healthy foods are. I think it’s good to include more raw in the diet but I think the most important thing is including healthy, natural whole-based foods. I try to reach a more mainstream audience’s curious and wants to know some simple, easy tasty ways to improve their health rather than focusing on the needs to be some kind of all or nothing extreme thing.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s really a good point, you know I was talking briefly before about these raw snack foods that I’ve seen in the stores and some of them aren’t particularly healthy. There are things that are considered raw like a cold-pressed olive oil or the Nama Shoyu, which is a raw version of soy sauce. And yet, you don’t want to eat a lot of those foods. One is too salty and one really has too much refined fat even though it’s raw. Do you have any concerns or comments? We had that problem with almonds a few years back, and now I think it’s still impossible to get an officially raw almond in this country because we’ve heat-flashed them and it’s really an unfortunate thing. It’s a way our government deals with things without really solving a problem. I know I get raw almonds from Spain right now.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yeah, you can get them directly from the farmers markets, from Spain. I think this law’s in the process of maybe being reversed.
Caryn Hartglass: I heard that they were considering, they accepted it to be looked at it or something like that. It’s a crazy thing, there are so many things, again, people don’t know what’s going on with our food. That’s what I wanted to get at. We have something as simple as an almond. It grows on a tree, it comes in a shell, and why can’t we get it like that? Because something contaminated got into a supply of them, now the way the government manages it is that we’re going to heat-treat all of them. This happens with a lot of things, like grains for example. I remember when I was doing this all-raw thing and I really wanted to do the all raw. I thought it was challenging, I thought it was fun. I was buying oatmeal – I thought it was raw – and then I learned no, it’s heat treated because a lot of the grains will go rancid if they’re really raw and they have to be treated. There are just so many invincible steps with our foods that we’re so unaware of. That’s why it’s really best to try and support these local farmers, these community supported agriculture plots where you know where you’re getting the food and where it’s coming from and how simple and fresh it is and how little has been done to it before it gets to your plate. Now, probably in California there’s a lot of opportunities to get a lot of fresh foods. I love the San Francisco…the name of the building is escaping me right now…that huge place where the huge farmer’s market is…oh well, ok…there’s lots of opportunities for fresh foods there. And what else did I want to talk about? Do you have another book planned now that this one is out?
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yeah, first I’m working on a revised, expanded edition of my first book, Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People. The first edition came out five years ago and it’s still really popular but a lot has changed in the last five years and I want to update it. A couple chapters I’m going to be adding – in addition to just adding more recipes in every category – is that I’m going to be adding a green smoothie chapter. Green smoothies have gotten really popular. They’re basically a blended smoothie with some fruits but also some dark leafy greens and they’re a great way to get more greens in your diet without really tasting it. It tastes like a fruit smoothie and they’re easier to digest and they’re quick and easy. So I’m going to have a chapter with many green smoothie recipes that are really quick and simple breakfast recipes loaded with greens. I’m also going to have a chapter on travel, and how to stay healthy when you’re on the go, when you’re traveling and some really simple portable foods. And then there’ll just be more recipes in every category. That’s coming up next, that’ll be out in about a year.
Caryn Hartglass: That sounds great! I’m a huge fan of greens. I have a green juice every day. I looked on your website; you have a recipe for a green juice. I can’t say enough about the leafy green vegetables. I’m glad to hear that the green smoothie or the blended smoothie, whatever you might choose to call it, is becoming more popular. I know more and more health activists are recommending them. Again – so easy, so simple, so good. There are so many benefits. The dark leafy green vegetable, which is loaded with immune system-boosting nutrients, can be a little difficult to digest so one way is to lightly steam them. In some ways, some of the nutrients become more favorable. Another way is to juice them, but then you’re not getting the fiber and there are different reasons why you might want to have the fiber or not want to have the fiber. But when you blend them, you’re also breaking them down a little bit making them more digestible. That’s really a great way to get your greens, in a blended salad and I think it’s a good way for kids, too. Cram those greens into some sweet, pleasant-tasting smoothie. The thing is so the greens do make the smoothie and interesting color and probably the best thing you could do is to make it look chocolaty.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Yes, or it depends on what ingredients you use. You can make a blueberry smoothie with frozen blueberries and a banana and some orange and then add some kale or chard or spinach and it’ll be purple-y, you won’t really see it. You can use something purple in there or some chocolate in there; you’re not going to see the green.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, cause I don’t know why but people do I have an aversion to a lot of green-looking foods. That’s great, I’m glad to hear you’re doing that. Do you ever work with athletes?
Jennifer Cornbleet: I haven’t specifically, like I said, my goal is just to reach your average mainstream people but there are many, many athletes that are turning to vegan and raw nutrition now, more than ever. There are some world-famous ones, too and I’ve had a lot of students in the school who are athletes and they have salad. This is a great diet for them because digestion is so much easier so they’re not wasting a lot of energy digesting heavy foods and they have that energy available for when they’re working out.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, I’ve read a lot of the Brendan Brazier books, he’s put out his Thrive books and revised them and just makes them better and better. He’s a phenomenal athlete and eats a lot of raw food. I just mentioned it because I would think this smoothie would be something that would be really appealing to athletes not just because it’s quick and easy, but a lot of athletes tend to go with these protein powders and put them in a smoothie of some sort. Most of them are not really that healthy, these protein powders. It’s an idea that really isn’t right that we need to have tremendous levels of protein to be really muscular and healthy and strong. Another thing that people don’t realize about these magical dark leafy green vegetables is what are they? When we talk about macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fat, what are dark leafy green vegetables made of? People are really surprised to find out what they are, which is mostly protein. And then I’d like to tell those that want to be great athletes and build up their muscles, I remind them of those great, big muscly animals out there, gorillas, elephants, and rhinoceros and hippopotamus, what are they all eating? They don’t have blenders to make smoothies, but they’re eating greens. They’re eating a lot of greens and it’s a high-quality protein loaded with antioxidants and immune system-boosting nutrients. Blend that up with a little fruit and a little fat and it’s really phenomenal. I have my personal favorite, and that’s pina cola kale with coconut milk or coconut pineapple and kale.
Jennifer Cornbleet: It sounds great.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s so good, and the pineapple has such a strong flavor that it really overpowers the whole thing and you could cram a lot of kale in there. You’d never know it, it’s really good. Do you have a favorite smoothie?
Jennifer Cornbleet: There’s so many I like, if I want to be really quick and easy, I might just combine one fruit with one green. For example, pineapple kale or mango with collard greens or something like that, pear with parsley. If I want a little more of a complex flavor, if I want to do something that isn’t as sweet, I might put the same ingredients I put in a green juice in the blender: a little apple, kale, cucumber, celery, parsley, lemon and ginger. Blend that up and it’s kind of like a green juice but thicker and more blended. If I want something sweeter, I’ll make a creamy berry smoothie with frozen berries and a little bit of nut milk and maybe a little juice if I need to sweeten it a little bit, a banana and different kinds of greens: kale, chard, maybe a little bit of ground flaxseeds in there. It’s really limitless with what you can do with the green smoothies.
Caryn Hartglass: It is, and another thing that people aren’t aware of is that those green, leafy vegetables are fat soluble, the nutrients in them, so it’s ok to have a little fat in those smoothies because it helps digest some of those nutrients. Nature knew what it was doing and protein’s important, carbohydrate’s important, fat’s important. We just want to get them from whole, fresh plant-based sources and we need them all. Fat’s gotten a bad rap over the years, carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap over the years, protein seems to be like the king and I think it should be getting a bad rap because too much protein seems to be causing lots of issues. Whole-based plant fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains. Do you do any sprouting?
Jennifer Cornbleet: I don’t personally, just because of the time issue. I’m trying to keep things really easy. I think it’s a great thing to do. I just buy sprouts if I want to have alfalfa sprouts or sunflower sprouts in store or at the farmer’s market, but if you want to save money and have some fresh grains, particularly in the winter, I do have the technique on how to do it in my book Raw Food Made Easy. It’s a great way to have some fresh grains in the winter for very little money.
Caryn Hartglass: It is. I was going to mention beans, and I’m a big fan of beans but there’s ways to have beans if you want to have them raw. They’re so inexpensive and I find that the beans sprout a lot easier than the seeds do, for me.
Jennifer Cornbleet: Bean sprouts – all you need is just a little tail on them, it just takes a day or two, it’s not like an alfalfa sprout which can take several days. It’s very simple to sprout legumes.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, well I think we have had a very, very yummy hour. I’m looking forward to making a number of these different desserts in your book. They’re beautiful and nutritious and delicious. I recommend people checking out Raw For Dessert, going to your website which is learnrawfood.com, watch those videos and you also have a DVD with those videos in it. So it has a lot more in it, I imagine. Great, very useful, very terrific, delicious, healthy, good for the planet, good for you. Thanks Jennifer, thanks for all you do! Thanks for talking with us today. You’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. I’m Caryn Hartglass, thanks for listening!
Transcribed by Lynnette Huang, 2/16/2014