Today the lovely and amazing (and a bit handsome) Russell James (aka The Raw Chef) delights us all with his interview on the 11 questions I ask raw foodies. I first met Russell (hailed as the UK’s leading raw chef by none other than The Times) at a Karen Knowler event back in 2009, where he was providing us all with rather yummy food. Check out his youtube videos too for some demos of great recipes which are also readily available on his own blog.
Russell no longer lives in the UK and can now be found working away at the 105degrees academy, helping to train others to be just as fantastic as he in raw food culinary creations.
Check out Russell’s website for more information on what he has to offer including recipes and his home study programme which I highly recommend for anyone wanting to master raw food creations! Enough of my nonsense, take it away Russell
1. How long have you been in to raw foods?
I found out about raw foods in 2004
2. How did you discover raw foods?
I had heard of it about a year earlier but had dismissed it as extreme because it was just a passing comment by someone, without any explanation.
When I was in Koh Samui in Thailand doing a fast I started to read a book about raw food and it seemed to all make sense, so i went back the UK and went to some classes, and generally got involved however I could.
3. What were some of the first benefits you noticed?
For me it was all about clearing up my skin. Before I found out about raw foods I used to be able to eat something and then see it have an effect on how bad my acne was a couple of days later. But what I found with raw food is that I could eat as much as I liked, even the desserts, and my skin would still be great.
4. Were there any drawbacks? If so, what and how did you handle?
Just the usual social stuff about people finding it weird. I handled it as best I could — I actually look back on that time as strengthening my resolve to live the lifestyle that I wanted to.
5. How did your family and friends react?
My family were great, actually. I have a small family — my mum and dad have been both supportive of my lifestyle choice and career. My friends used to make fun a little, but my real friends were also supportive. It’s been said a thousand times before but I think that people would make fun or try to bring people ‘back into the bucket’ as the crab analogy goes, are actually a little threatened by any changes, because of the implications on their own lives.
6. How did you handle reactions? any tips?
Just a smile and a good sense of humour.
I actually recently met a guy in the US who, in any social situation we’re in, will always ask me about what I eat and how I live my life with relation to food. Even with the best sense of humour in the world that can get very tiring and even frustrating.
It’s funny because I haven’t experienced that for a while and took me back to the early days. It really got to the point where I’d have to get the mutual friend that introduced us to point out that he only ever talks about the way I eat, and not in a way that feels like he’s asking because he’s interested in it. It’s more that he just can’t get his head around it. He almost certainly doesn’t realise how his questions come across. I think in the end if I get to that point with someone I’ll just not hang out with them anymore — there’s too many wonderful people in the world that have respect for other people’s point of view to spend too much time with people that don’t.
7. What advice would you give people who are interested in raw foods on how to get started?
Start slowly and introduce things into your diet as you feel comfortable. Juicing is the number one way to do that in my opinion, then starting building your kitchen skills to the point you know you can have 1 or 2 ‘all raw days’ during the week. once you start seeing results you’ll be spurred on by the little successes and there’ll be no turning back.
8. What is your number 1 raw tip?
From a practicality point of view I would say to make sure you have a good store cupboard of foods that you’ll need like some oils, a little nut butter, apple cider vinegar, herbs and spices, nuts and seeds. And then to shop a few times per week to make sure you have lots of fresh ingredients that excite you.
The last thing would be to make sure you can make at least one recipe from memory that excites you, and will always fill you up and satisfy you. For me it’s kale salad with a creamy chipotle sauce.
9. What is your favourite raw food and why?
Chipotle kale salad. So creamy – a little sweet – lots of greens in there – and a little spicy – killer combo!
10. If you could be any raw food what would you be and why?
A chipotle chili – a little fiery and full of flavour 🙂
11. How do you see the raw movement in five years time?
I see people individualising what raw food means to them, allowing space for other foods that excite them and they consider them to work with their body and their needs. I think we’ll see those versions of raw food become more commercially available and see more people eating that way in the mainstream.
I also think we’ll see more raw foods in the restaurants of traditional chefs – expect they won’t call it raw food – it’ll just be in response to guests wanting more healthy options.
Lovely! I think what Russell said people about allowing space for other foods that excite them and they consider to work with their body and their needs is so true and to a large extent already happening in the raw food movement. The great news is that not only are more and more people tuning in to what works and doesn’t work so well for them, but also the fact that they care enough to tune in at all, and can hear it! In the years up to when I discovered raw foods I know now that my body was giving me so many signals that I just wasn’t paying attention to!
What is your body telling you? 🙂
This blog was written by Raw Food Scotland's previous owner, Emma Calvert. You can reach her at her new website, https://missmanifestation.com/