Raw Nerves: Recipes for the Courage to Eat Raw Vegan


I am outraged over the unretouched pictures of Lena Dunham’s cover debut on Vogue that were exposed by Jezebel. OUTRAGED. Not because, as Jezebel intones, it misleads readers on what a woman like Lena Dunham really looks like, but because — and it’s not very feminist of me to say — I’m jealous. They airbrushed years off her face and rubbed out inches from her waist and she got to look fantastic for one and for all to see it forever. I can’t take years off my face, but the inches around my waist can be erased, albeit with some work. For that, I am employing the raw-vegan diet.

I should say that I’m not actually employing it; I’m experimenting with it. I’m not sure that I could fully commit to it, but I have a friend who does it and she’s piqued my curiosity; enough that I just bought $50 worth of raw nuts. My friend says it fills her with self-love and since she peppers all of her communication with smiley faces and hearts, I’m not going to question that. What I do question is how good it tastes and how satisfied I’ll be after a plate of raw vegetables without flesh or dairy.

So far I’ve tried three items.


The first was easy — kale pesto, which I got from rawguru.com, but tweaked it a bit.

Kale Pesto


  • ¾ cup raw pistachio nutmeats
  • 1 dash of red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bunch fresh kale, washed and stems removed
  • 1.5 oz fresh basil, stems removed
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Dump it all in a food processor and blend until it’s a paste. Delicious. Tastes just like pesto.

The second one I came up with all by myself (it’s also my favorite), but I’m sure someone somewhere has done it before. It’s very similar to the pesto, so maybe I should credit rawguru.com for this one, too.

Raw Cashew and Red Pepper DipImage

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and roughly cut into pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 dash red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Tip all the ingredients into the food processor and pulse until it’s as smooth as you would like it to be. It’s amazing. It’s slightly sweet from the pepper and creamy like a dip or aioli — not at all like peanut butter which is what I was kind of expecting.

The third item I tried was the most labor intensive and the one I was most dubious about:

Sprouted chickpea hummus.

The sprouted part is what makes it work. It takes about three days. I learned this from vegetariantimes.com.


Sprouted Chickpea HummusImage

Directions on sprouting:

Day 1

Before retiring for the evening, place ½ cup dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water and let sit on the counter overnight.


Day 2

In the morning, drain the beans and rinse them in a colander. Place them in a jar — if you have a sprouting lid, great, but I didn’t so I covered it with cheesecloth. Repeat the rinsing two or three times throughout the day and return them to the covered jar after each rinse.

Day 3

Rinse two or three times throughout the day, returning them to the covered jar after each rinse.

ImageYou’ll know when they’re ready when you see fairly long tails attached to the chickpeas which, I’ll admit, kind of freaked me out. Then you can transform them into hummus.

For the hummus:

  • 1 ½ cups sprouted chickpeas
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • several dashes red pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 3 TB tahini
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • 3 TB water

In a blender, combine the oil, lemon juice and water. Blend on the highest speed to create an emulsion (this is the key to great, creamy hummus — I learned it from the Splendid Table, a fantastic podcast about food that everyone who likes to cook should listen to). Add the remaining ingredients. Start on low speed to break up the chickpeas. Gradually increase the speed, occasionally turning it off to stir the mush. This takes a while if you want creamy hummus — but it will happen. And that’s it.

I can’t say I love Sprouted Chickpea Hummus. It’s not like regular hummus but it’s not unlike it. It’s pale in color, but the flavor is very strong and it definitely tastes raw. It evokes images of a hippie cafe where they only serve people who live off the grid and smoke a lot of weed but can’t quite commit to the commune lifestyle. It’s not for everyone. I’m sure that there are some omnivores out there that would really like it. I think it’s interesting, but I definitely had to have a banana chaser.

I mirrored my raw-food-eating-friend by spreading my oeuvre on various green leaves — collard, kale, and cabbage (which was actuallyImage purple) — and rolling them up. I’m still working on how to make the wraps pretty, but overall they’re very good and I’m very satisfied (though I did just eat a half a bag of chocolate chips accompanied by a half a pack of graham crackers).

Vogue won’t be coming around to take pictures of me after this diet — or ever — and I don’t know that it will magically take the extra layers away from my backside since I’m shut-in for the winter, but I’m pretty sure the effects will be quite different than if the leaves were replaced by slices of white bread and meats and cheeses in lieu of the spreads.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bea Staley says:

    you are on a raw diet in the middle of winter? surely there are kinder times of year to try a raw diet? the kale pesto sounds very very tempting.. and as for sprouting.. I have met people who are wild about it.

    I am thinking of taking about serious juicing.. but your raw dips sound much more filling and substantial than 4 gallons of carrot and kale juice!

    ps I have about 20 lbs of raw almonds.. any ideas?

    1. Oh! Raw almonds! I just bought a bunch. I’ll see what I can come up with. The cashew dips was really good. And raw is good if you’re sedentary between January and March 🙂

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