Ani's Raw Food Essentials

Recipes and Techniques for Mastering the Art of Live Food


By Ani Phyo

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 3, 2012. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Want to go raw, but not sure how to start? Ani's Raw Food Essentials offers easy transitional recipes–using the equipment you already have in your kitchen. Looking for innovative meals that are healthy and delicious? Ani offers everything from comfort classics like nachos and burgers to more gourmet dishes like risotto, angel hair pasta, and her you-won't-believe-they're-raw desserts. Ani's Raw Food Essentials once again proves that you don't have to sacrifice taste to reap the benefits of raw foods and a greener lifestyle.


Also by Ani Phyo:
Ani's Raw Food Desserts
Ani's Raw Food Kitchen
Return on Design

I dedicate this book to our children.
May we work together to uncover the truth
about food; to continue improving our
health through organic gardening and
whole food nutrition; to inspire our friends,
family, and communities to live a life they
love; and to heal our earth.

When I first strated on my path to live foods, I was amazed by the potential—there are so many, things you can do with raw fruits and vegetables. Even seemingly "hands-off" foods, such as pizza or pasta, could be made using fresh, uncooked ingredients. I'm not a formally trained chef; I came to raw foods from a simple and practical hands-on perspective. I wanted delicious, healthy foods that were fast and easy. My recipes are simple and can easily be made more complex by adding sauces and serving beautifully.
Over the past fifteen years, I've gone from making the simplest raw meals to starting my own raw foods company, SmartMonkey Foods. I've always focused on fast, fresh, unfussy—and ultimately, delicious—food. Along the way, I've developed some more complicated recipes but always keep an eye on what is quick to assemble and use seasonal ingredients whenever possible. I've designed these recipes with simplicity in mind, based on how I feed my busy self. Most recipes require only a few easy-to-find ingredients that are blended or processed quickly. Most of the recipes are ready to eat right away.
This book is for anyone who's new to raw foods—if you're curious and not sure where to start, I'll tell you what utensils you need and which ingredients to stock in your essential raw pantry. You'll also learn a lot of basic techniques—from how to split a fresh coconut to working with a dehydrator (and how to experiment if you don't own your own Excalibur Dehydrator just yet!). If you've been around the raw foods block a few times, you'll find some new tips to make your time in the kitchen less complicated and more enjoyable, as well as recipes you can use as templates to develop your own unique raw foods kitchen. It's easy—and the rewards are endless.


It seems every person I meet is eager to live healthier, greener, fitter, leaner, and happier. But many people have the misconception that to be healthy, they need to invest a lot of time and energy. I'm going to break it all down for you to help you get healthy the fast, easy, and delicious way. It's simple to do when we start by taking small steps, one at a time. Each little bit adds up over time to make a difference.
We all would benefit from eating more unprocessed whole foods—fresh, unheated fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are what the FDA calls "superfoods," which have been shown to increase our overall health. Superfoods help us ward off diseases and illness, give us more energy and stamina, keep us at our ideal body weight, and help us look and feel our best.


Raw food is more than just a diet. It's an entire philosophy and way of life. Eating more fresh organic ingredients affects the way we look, how we feel, and how we interact with other life and planet Earth.
Whole, fresh, unheated, unprocessed, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are rocket fuel for our body. This turbo-charged, nutrient-dense food fills us up with the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes our body needs to hum like a well-oiled machine.
Raw foods and sunshine give me energy, mental clarity, focus, and help me to be more productive.
A properly fueled brain can take charge and orchestrate the trillions of cells in our body to fight illness and disease. As our health and stamina increase, we may shed unwanted extra pounds, our complexion may clear up . . . all while we tread lightly on our planet. And, when we feel great, anything is possible!
My recipes are designed to help you enjoy more healthy, whole, fresh food, which is the key building block for living life well.


Most of my youth was spent in the Catskill Mountains, living on a large plot of land where my family grew our own organic produce. We didn't have candy, sugar, soda, or processed foods in my house growing up. I ate a lot of Korean food, which, like most Asian food, is traditionally wheat and gluten free. Like most traditional foods, Korean food is whole and unprocessed. And a majority of Korean food is vegan, raw, and fermented.
My father was a raw fooder, and mono dieted frequently. He'd eat a whole bell pepper like an apple, and I had thought this was because he was from the "Old Country." That era of raw foods is what I now label "Raw Food 1.0." Raw food was eaten functionally back then, because it was good for you, not necessarily for taste.
My parents, having come from what was considered a third-world country in those days, were frugal. Having grown up poor, Koreans were good at conserving and using less . . . which are essential for treading lightly on our planet and living eco-green.
Although I grew up in a raw foods family, my eating habits changed when I got to college: the dining halls were full of new types of food, such as fried cheese, pasta, cake, and cookies. I loved trying all these new tastes. Unfortunately, I was eating mostly white flour, sugar, and dairy, and this newfound "diet" took its toll. I gained the Freshman 15 in just a few months' time and my cholesterol was almost at 300, which is too high for anyone. My mom put me back on a vegan, whole food diet—and immediately, my cholesterol dropped. I began exercising again. That was the turning point on my path back to an active, healthy lifestyle.
After college, I discovered vegan raw foods in San Francisco. A friend took me to a raw restaurant that had delicious food served like I'd never experienced before. It was what I call "Raw Food 2.0" and was beautiful, delicious, and healthy.
I had so much energy after my first Raw Food 2.0 meal, I couldn't sleep. I felt fine the next day and carried on with work as if I'd rested. Soon, I began to eat more of this raw gourmet food for energy, stamina, mental clarity, and focus. I could work more efficiently, be more productive, feel great, and sleep less without getting sick. I began making and incorporating more gourmet raw foods into my diet, and the people around me were interested in learning more. When I moved to Los Angeles for work a few years later, a few other raw chefs and I offered weekly dinners around town; their popularity grew quickly. This was when I realized I wanted to focus only on raw foods to help people and our planet.
It Just Takes Practice
A KEY TO living well is consistency and daily practice, not extremes. Extremes cause stress mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Consistency, on the other hand, practiced repeatedly over time, becomes a good habit.
A mentor once recommended having a daily practice. That practice may take the form of reading the latest industry news for fifteen minutes daily, or walking for thirty minutes every day.
Let's say walking for thirty minutes burns 150 calories. That's 1,050 calories a week. If it takes burning 3,500 calories to lose one pound, then in just over three weeks, you'll have lost one pound. It adds up over time.
Having a consistent practice will build self-esteem, and when you're fueling your body with ultimate superfoods, you'll feel great. You'll shine from the inside out with health.
My daily practice is to slow down and relax more.


I developed a line of prepared packaged foods under the name SmartMonkey Foods, eventually also launching a line of fruit and nut bars. To focus on my raw foods business, I moved to Portland, Oregon, for four years.
Portland was cold and damp probably ten months out of the year, with gorgeous summers, wild blackberries, and no humidity. Eating all uncooked, cold, damp foods in that cold, damp climate took its toll on me over time without my even realizing it.
I didn't listen to my friends who told me to consider the climate in relation to my diet—that I couldn't eat the same way in the cold months in Portland as I did in warm Los Angeles. I was into being fully raw, and it worked for me for a while. What I learned wasn't that it's impossible to be 100 percent raw in a cold climate; rather, that it's important to find what works for each of us. We all come from different ethnic backgrounds, have a unique genetic makeup, and have grown up and live in various climates.
When people ask me how important it is to be 100 percent raw, I remind them to have an attitude of gratitude instead. We are lucky to have the option to decline food because it's not raw, organic, or vegan, for example, while people in other parts of our world are starving. If someone makes a meal filled with good intentions that happens to not be all organic or raw, it may just be healthier to choose to accept it graciously, rather than being extreme. Extremes cause stress.
There are many days when I enjoy all raw foods, especially if I'm really busy or it's super hot outside. But, on cold, overcast, damp days, I may crave a hot soup, and so I'll have one.
I've actually found as I've let go of my reins of extremeness, people are more open and willing to try my style of eating and living. The pressure to be 100 percent perfect is gone. Instead, having gratitude for the foods I have to eat helps me make the right choices.
We are indeed privileged to have the choice to decline food that is not organic, vegan, or fresh. We are blessed. Let's remember to give thanks for this. On your own path, you may want to go 100 percent raw, or you may find it's best for you to try adding raw dishes to your diet daily or weekly. What's important to remember is that you don't need to be rigid and you don't have to go to extremes. The recipes in this book were created with those thoughts in mind.


Eating raw foods increases our health, no doubt. But to increase longevity even further, it's important to consider our overall well-being. To increase my overall health and longevity, I make sure to live eco green and toxin free, I enjoy an active lifestyle, I choose natural beauty and eco fashion, I work on being happy, and I eat my delicious, whole, fresh, raw foods.


Toxins in our living and working environments can be decreased by using toxin-free cleaners, choosing organic materials for furnishings whenever possible, and opening windows to air rooms. The EPA estimates indoor air can have two to five times more pollution than outside air.
Nontoxic Cleansers
TO AVOID nerve-damaging chemicals such as the butyl cellosolve and ammonia found in conventional cleaners, just make your own with ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
¼ cup vinegar
½ tablespoon eco liquid soap or detergent
2 cups water
Place all ingredients in a spray bottle, and use to clean glass.
½ cup vinegar
¼ cup baking soda
½ gallon water
Essential oils, for scent (optional)
Place all the ingredients in a bucket, mix, and use to clean most surfaces.
1 teaspoon tea tree oil
1 cup water
Mix the tea tree oil and water in a spray bottle. Shake to blend. Spritz on an item such as fabric and leave on; do not rinse. Line dry. I even use this to give my dog a quick bath when she gets into something dirty.
1 gallon water
½ cup salt
Heat the water and salt to almost boiling and pour it down your drain. If you have a major blockage, you'll need to snake your drain instead.
Or, try using baking soda and vinegar to unblock your drain.
½ cup baking soda
½ cup white vinegar
1 quart water
Pour the baking soda down the drain. Then pour the vinegar down the drain. It will fizz. Lastly, pour the water down the drain to flush.
I love my dress made from a Baltimore Orioles jersey.
In Korea, shoes are left at the door, which avoids tracking in residual pesticides. I use a HEPA filter vacuum to filter out dust, bacteria, pollen, and dog dander from my pooch, Kanga. My shower curtains are PVC-free to avoid toxins that can disrupt my hormones, and I have green plants that help clean and filter my indoor air. A NASA study found plants remove 96 percent of harmful carbon monoxide from a closed room.
Toxin-free living also means abandoning toxic thoughts. A positive outlook makes it easier to feel happier. Focus on what you want, and don't waste energy worrying about what you don't want.


Our body was designed to run away from predators in the wild, and to gather our food. Today, we work all day at our desk in an office and buy our food at the market. So, it's important to include cardio, stretching, and weight-bearing exercises, to build strong, lean muscles and a healthy body that's less prone to injury and pain.
I've got to sweat every day to detox and clean myself from the inside out—even if it means going to a sauna on days when I've got less energy. Meditation is exercise for my brain muscle, and I do my best to meditate, even if only for five minutes, every morning upon rising and every evening before bed.


Eating more whole, fresh, organic foods increases overall health from the inside out to give us a glow of health. In Los Angeles, we have clothing recycling stores, where you can trade about three stylish fashion items for credit toward another item in the store. I love shopping at these fashion recycleries and find one-of-a-kind gems that create my fashion statement. Plus, it's a cost-effective way to get new clothes. When buying new clothing, I do my best to choose organic fabrics that help me avoid chemicals on my skin.
Research has found toxic chemicals called parabens, used as preservatives in makeup, shampoos, deodorants, and nail polish, in cancer cells. Choosing poison-free beauty options will decrease your exposure to toxic chemicals that build up on your body over time. Our skin is our largest organ, and what we put on it is the same as if we are drinking or eating the substance. I make sure everything I put on my body is safe to eat, such as lemon juice to lighten, and coconut oil and jojoba oil to moisturize my hair and skin.
Take time out for our friends, family, and pooches.


When we feel happy, we are less stressed, and our overall sense of well-being is increased. I've found being happy takes practice, but the rewards are endless. Happy people win favors, receive kind gestures, laugh more, have fewer wrinkles, and even make others smile.
Even though I eat a nutrient-rich diet of fresh, organic, whole foods, I still have days when I need to work on feeling happy. It helps me to make a list of ten to twenty blessings I'm thankful for today. I may be grateful for something as basic as a new day, a good night's rest, a strong body, a beating heart, and my family and friends. I try not to think about what I don't have, once had, or wish I had, and focus on this moment and all that's good in my life.
To increase happiness, be kind, take a minute to help someone out, and give compliments freely. Give it a try, and you'll see how good it makes you feel. Spend more time with your family. Our family and friends are the most important thing in life. At the end of your life, you won't wish you'd worked harder, or made more money. You'll wish you'd spent more time with the people you love.
I haven't had a TV in years, and I avoid gossip. Living without these leaves me with more time to make nourishing food, meditate, contemplate, and feel gratitude and bliss. And, I make sure to give my dog, Kanga, as much love as possible.


What we choose to eat has the largest impact on our planet, and the right foods can help us feel and look our best. By enjoying more organic raw foods, we're contributing to a green planet by decreasing the production and use of toxic chemicals and their contamination of our natural environment. We ingest less poisonous chemicals, and place less stress on our immune system. We provide nutrient-rich food to fuel our optimal physical, mental, and emotional performance.
When I started eating more whole foods, I noticed an immediate decrease in kitchen garbage, as most of it comes from food packaging. The stuff we throw away is what we're paying for . . . the packaging, printing, manufacturing, warehousing, refrigeration, and distribution. After all this has been paid off, there's not much money left for the actual ingredients in the food. This is why most processed, packaged, and prepared foods are full of chemical flavors, colors, and empty calories created to make actual food ingredients go further. Another reason for enjoying more whole, fresh, raw foods straight from the source.


My style of Raw Foods 2.0 includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Most are never heated or cooked, and if heated, the temperature never goes above 104°F. I believe anything hotter than 104°F begins to damage the nutrients and enzyme activity in our food. Research has shown nutrients are damaged and destroyed as food is heated and cooked. I've heard some people heat raw foods up to as high as 110° or 118°F, and you'll hear varying numbers. I believe anything hotter than 104°F damages enzymes and nutrients, because 104°F is hot when I touch it and feels as if it's damaging my skin.
Whole, unprocessed, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are mixed together in a blender or food processor, or simply tossed together in a bowl, to create delicious, nutrient-rich dishes that taste better than the cooked versions. Good for you and good for the planet, my recipes support eco-green living, health, and overall well-being.
I consider my food to be living foods, which is a bit different from the "classic" definition of raw foods. A dehydrated cracker can be raw but has less enzyme activity, so its shelf life is longer than, say, a living apple, which contains water and enzymes and will ripen more and more over time until it eventually composts back into the earth. I recommend enjoying dehydrated foods in moderation, and drinking plenty of water with it to keep hydrated. Remember, water is the basis of all things living.
I prefer soaking all my nuts and seeds, and even sprouting them, whenever possible. It can be challenging to soak and sprout when busy or traveling, though, so I do the best I can each day. Personally, I don't eat much dehydrated food. But these foods are definitely fun to eat and are a great way to transition away from wheat, breads, and crackers. Dehydrated treats are a good way to incorporate more raw foods into any diet.


To keep the level of toxins inside my body to a minimum, I enjoy organics whenever possible. Because I live in Los Angeles, where organics are widely available, it's easy for me to choose local, which ensures I eat produce when it's in season and at its peak in nutritional profile and flavor. I shop at farmers' markets as much as possible, which keeps money in my local community.
Genetically modified foods (GMOs) have been altered by science to be resistant to pests and to produce greater crop yields, artificially. GMO foods contain less nutrients, so you're actually getting less for your money. They are far from natural or healthy and it's wise to avoid them.
My garden produces vegetables faster than I can eat or give them away.
Here are some tips for reading the PLU codes on fruit and vegetable labels.
*a four-digit number means the item is conventionally grown.
*a five-digit number beginning with 9 means it's organic.
*a five-digit number beginning with 8 means it's been genetically modified.


Definitions of a "raw fooder" varies from someone who eats 50 percent raw 100 percent of the time, to eating 80 percent raw and 20 percent cooked in a day, to eating only 100 percent raw. I want to encourage you to find whatever works for you and fits your lifestyle. You'll be undoing any good effects of eating healthy if you're stressing out about what you can and cannot eat. How much raw food you eat may also change with the seasons, with what's happening in your life at the moment, and over time as your body changes. Keep in mind, health is a lifelong pursuit.


Eliminating food from my diet leaves me with a sense of deprivation. Instead, I prefer including more healthy, guilt-free, weight-loss-promoting, and eco-green ingredients into each meal. Over time, more of the good stuff we include leaves less and less space for the less-valuable, less-nutrient-dense, less-healthy foods, without having to try to eliminate them. What is bad for us gets elbowed out naturally.
As we increase the amount of nutrient-dense foods into any diet, the amount of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants we feed our body increases, and the healthier we become. The water and fiber from fresh, whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds shower and sweep our insides clean, detoxifying us in a healthy way from the inside out.
RESEARCHERS AT UNIVERSITY of California in San Diego have found eating red meat and dairy products increases inflammation in the body because our body doesn't recognize molecules from other animals, since they're not human, and treats animal molecules as invaders. This increases inflammation throughout the body. As we displace those ingredients with more whole, fresh, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, our body becomes less swollen. It looks tighter and leaner and helps us lose unwanted extra pounds.


Today's fashion is driven by the look of natural beauty and lighter cosmetics. The healthier our body becomes, the more we obtain clear skin, shiny hair, strong nails, bright eyes, and more energy.
Our skin is our largest organ, and its health reflects the purity of our body on the inside. Eating healthy raw foods will give you the shine of glowing skin and the radiance of overall vitality and natural beauty.




On Sale
Apr 3, 2012
Page Count
368 pages

Ani Phyo

About the Author

Ani Phyo is a renowned raw food chef and show host, health coach, nutritionist, and author of four cookbooks, including Ani’s Raw Food Essentials and Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen. She lives in Los Angeles.; @aniphyo

Learn more about this author