As you know I’m an omnivorous eater, meaning that I’ll eat pretty much anything (at least once). I eat meat, I eat gluten, I eat all kinds of veggies cooked and raw, I don’t really have any food allergies or sensitivities and that meshes nicely with my work as a chef and blogger. My tastes are broad and I’m driven by an intense curiosity — I like eating new things, learning new dishes, trying new flavors. I try not to limit myself, but simultaneously I don’t want to be gluttonous to the point where my health is compromised by my chosen profession or my habits. So I try to strike a balance in life. If I eat a giant bloody ribeye one day I might eat only a salad the next. If I eat a pile of cheese nachos another day I’ll tilt the scale back with something simple and amazingly healthy like this completely raw and vegan sandwich the following day.
The “bread” is both gluten-free and raw. By raw I mean it’s unbaked; the dough is made of almond meal pressed together with some other super-healthy stuff, which is then put into a food dehydrator and dried at a low temperature until it stiffens to the point that it retains its shape and can be used like sandwich bread. The end result is dense, a bit crumbly, and very tasty! And it’s incredibly healthy for you, as it contains no refined flours or sugars.
Now I’m not really a supporter of the “raw” food movement, which posits that food should never be heated over a temperature that you might experience in natural sunlight — approximately 105 -110° F. In theory it means that no nutrients are lost due to invasive heat applications (i.e. cooking). In practice, it means you never eat a hot bowl of soup again. I believe that the human animal is highly adaptable and that we’ve evolved and developed ways of maximizing our nutritional intake congruent to the development of cooking. And I think it’s kind of silly to just dry things out and pretend it’s not a form of cooking. Now, I’m sure I just pissed off some vegans and raw-foodists, but I’ll bet they’re already avoiding my blog, as it’s called OMNIVOROUS!
I say all this because even if I don’t buy into the idea of raw food as a diet for healthy living, it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate some aspects of it. I made this bread for work and it came out very nice, very wholesome, very toothsome, and quite filling. I’ll make it again, even if it’ll never replace a fantastic baguette as a perfect sandwich vehicle. My friend Megan is a certified raw food chef, who provides me occasionally with healthy vegan and diet-friendly recipes for my work. This almond bread is adapted from a recipe of hers.
You will need:
- A food dehydrator
- parchment paper
- a food processor
- a wooden rolling pin
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 6 cups almond meal
- 2 cups flax meal
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (or kosher salt)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 1/2 cups raw sunflower seeds (sprouted seeds, if you’re feeling ambitious
- olive oil pan spray
Now do this:
Cut the carrots into 1-inch pieces and put into a food processor. Chop the carrots down as finely as you can, into a paste. You’ll need to go in stages and occasionally scrape down the sides of the processor bowl to get it uniform.
Put the carrot paste in a large mixing bowl and add almond meal, flax seed meal, olive oil, salt, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds. Using your hands, mix well to combine. Add water to make the mixture sticky enough so that it forms into a loose dough.
Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and spray with a light coating of olive oil pan spray. Put about a third of the dough on the paper and spread it out until it’s about a half-inch thick. Spray the top of the dough with more pan spray and cover with a second sheet of parchment. Using a rolling pin gently flatten the dough until it’s about 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch in thickness. Remove top sheet of parchment and with a sharp knife cut pressed dough into squares about 4-inches on a side. Be sure to cut all the way through the paper.
You’ll want to dehydrate the bread squares on the bottom sheet of parchment, as the parchment will help the bread maintain its shape while drying. Lay these paper-lined squares onto the racks of your dehydrator and set the thermostat to 105º F. Dehydrate for four hours and refrigerate bread squares until ready for use.
Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Make the sandwich!
To assemble this sandwich take two pieces of the bread and gently cut each into two symmetrical rectangles. Peel off the parchment paper backing.
I spread the bread with Vegenaise on all interior surfaces and added very thinly shaved cucumber, a little butter lettuce, some slices of very ripe tomato, some wonderful avocado, and tiny clutch of micro cilantro (regular cilantro is fine).
The sandwich was delicious! And it felt like a great antidote the fried chicken I ate for dinner the night before.