Two years, ninety pounds lighter and feeling great, Raw Chef and Wellness Coach Dwight Saunders is now offering his knowledge of a lifestyle change that for him, and many others, has led to better health.
Sometimes called the “raw food diet” the change to eating completely raw, unprocessed food is not so much a diet, as a lifestyle.
The fundamental principle of “rawism” is that plant food in its most natural state–uncooked and unprocessed–is the most wholesome for the body. A raw food diet is rich in nutrients, full of fiber and low in fat and sugars. It does not include meat. Heating food is acceptable as long as the temperature remains below 118ºF. Above that and the natural enzymes in food are destroyed.
Saunders and partner Helder Ambrosio, who live in Morrisburg, now operate their business Aura Escapes in three locations in the Iroquois Shopping plaza. They have their Aura hair salon, their Auro Arts Studio where they hold Fabric Sculpture Workshops and their Culinary Arts location where Dwight offers Raw Foods Workshops along with exciting themed Culinary Workshops.
“When I say raw food, that doesn’t always mean cold,” explained Dwight as he prepared for a February 23 Workshop attended by Tina Connolly of the Shanley area, Paul Donovan of Brockville and Bonnie McNairn from the Morrisburg Leader.
He kicked off the day-long workshop by going over safe food handling practices and then a brief talk on “high speed blenders which replace the stove and the food dehydrator which replaces the oven.”
“A lot of people think it is more time consuming to make raw food. There is a lot of prep work, but more people like me don’t have the time, so we rely more on fresh ingredients.”
Saunders also stressed that “there are no peanuts used on the premises, there is no gluten in any of our classes and there is no dairy in our classes.”
From there the class watched as he prepared non-dairy milk (from dried almonds that had soaked overnight) and water.
The non-dairy milk then became the base of a Basic Fruit Smoothie to which was added frozen fruit (berries and pineapple) and ice.
Next began the preparation for lunch done by the students who followed the recipes provided by Dwight. Lunch included Dwight’s Carrot Ginger Soup, Kale Salad, and Chipotle and Tahini Broccoli salad with Cauliflower rice.
The soup became slightly heated from the blender and was served warm. Both the salad and rice were quite tasty. The rice, as implied, was made from fresh cauliflower, pine and macadamia nuts, miso, and cold-pressed sesame oil. All went into the food processor and processed until fluffy and rice-like.
In addition, the students dined on Kale Salad with ingredients that included avocado, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, garlic, lemon juice, chopped dates, Himalayan crystal salt, black pepper, nutmeg, raisins and hemp seeds.
Dessert was Chocolate Mousse made from ripe avocado, dates, cocoa and water and spooned into a raw food pie crust made from almonds, raw honey, dates, salt and vanilla.
After lunch the group set to work on preparing the evening meal which was taken home. That included the preparation of a marinara sauce, noodles made from zucchini and fresh and light carrot cake topped with cashew cheese frosting.
“Cooked food we eat with our pallet; raw food we eat with our brain,” says Dwight. “When we eat cooked food, our liver and brain are still looking for something more.”
“Until I ate raw, I didn’t know what is was to be full. I could always eat more. Now I don’t.”
Dwight explained, the raw diet provides an alkaline diet that is disease preventative, while a cooked diet is an acid diet “which provides a place for disease to grow. That’s why we are clogged.”
He says that there are various reasons that people will consider a “raw diet”. Some are looking to lose weight, others to detox and still others just to become healthier. People with certain allergies and health issues are also looking to raw food diets. It is important to note that peanuts are not used; however, many other nuts are staples.
“If you can get to 80 percent raw, then you are on your way to success…and there is still room for some meat.”
“There is nothing better than having your own garden and eating from it. When you grow your food at home, you know what you put in it.”
Two years ago, Dwight says he had some serious health issues. “I do have good health now, as before I didn’t. I was vegan for most of my life, but as a vegan I could still have french fries.”
In the past year, Dwight has spent a lot of time translating his grandmother’s recipes to “raw food recipes”, a lot by trial and errors. “I needed to figure out what would give me the same consistency. What I could use say in the place of an egg. “I’ve done the work, and I keep coming up with new ideas. Sometimes it’s an accident,” he says recalling times when he has thrown in a wrong ingredient and come up with a really good taste.
Dwight says that when he went to raw, “it was like night and day. In just weeks and I saw the difference. I had been on diets, but this is not a diet. It’s making a simple life change. You aren’t depriving yourself of anything. More and more people are realizing that what we are eating is making us be in pain.”
Dwight does encourage anyone who is considering a raw food diet to attend his workshops. Literature also advises that people ease into the diet gradually.
Dwight is currently offering Raw Foods Workshops once per month with the next coming up on April 27.
Exciting themed Culinary Workshops include a Lebanese theme on April 28. Themes range from Thai, to Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, etc.
The facility can handle up to 12 people, but Dwight prefers groups of six to 10.
The workshop fees are $95 per person and include the workshop and meals. Pre-registration is a must by calling 613-543-4444.
Dwight will also do evening dinners for groups. “People will ask for this or that often for a girls’ night out, but now couples dinner parties are becoming more popular.”
Also coming up on the Aura menu are monthly organized dinners to allow people to come in and “get a taste of what we are all about.”
In total there are 12-15 different kinds of classes that Dwight will be entertaining, everything from seasonal pickle and jam making, to producing non-dairy cheese. Week-long youth camps are also in the works for this summer. For more information please visit www.auraculinaryarts.yolasite.com