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In this episode of The Raw Food Podcast, Laura-Jane the Rawtarian dishes all the dirt on making raw food recipes in a food processor! What's a food processor, how is it different from a blender, do you need both, and some examples of recipes you can make in a food processor.
I recommend a food processor to buy online here. However, you do NOT need a specialty food processor. So you will get the best bang for your buck by wandering in to your local big-box store and just buying any old food processor off the shelf for around $50-$60 dollars. Just make sure it has at least 6 cup capacity, if not bigger.
Hello, and welcome to episode number four of The Raw Food Podcast. I’m your host Laura-Jane the Rawtarian, and in this episode we will be talking about food processing. What is it, how is it different from blending your whole food meals, what kind of recipes can you make in a food processor, and lastly I’m going to end with a really quick, handy tip for how to keep your food processor cleaner when making recipes. Stay tuned, and I’ll be back with you shortly.
Thank you so much for joining me. I’m really excited about this; it’s episode 4 of The Raw Food Podcast, and today we’re talking about food processing, which is a huge part of my life as a raw foodist or raw vegan. I tend to make a lot of different dishes in my food processor - that can range from nut pates to sweet desserts, and it’s a really huge part of my world as a raw vegan.
What is a food processor?
So what I’m going to talk about today first is, just what is a food processor? Before I went raw, I came from a wonderful happy household, my parents were fabulous, but they weren’t really much for being chefs in the kitchen. And so when I was growing up, we didn’t even have a food processor so it was all new to me. What it basically is it’s kind of a plastic dish with a large blade; they call it an “S blade”, and it sits in the bottom of the bowl and spins around. There’s a lid on top, which basically keeps everything inside. It’s pretty simple, and there’re actually not very expensive. You’ve probably heard me say this before in terms of eating whole foods that it’s really important to get a super-expensive fabulous crazy $500 blender but you don’t need as similarly good food processor. My food processor that I use everyday cost me, I think around, $50 and I’ve had it for almost 3 years, and it works fine. And you definitely do want to get one that can handle at least 6 cups of food. Sometimes you see those really tiny food processors and they can be handy, but that can’t be your main food processor because it’s just too darn small. So that gives you an overview of what a food processor is.
Difference between blenders and food processors
Another really common question I get asked when people are equipping their raw food kitchen is the difference between blenders and food processors, and they’re kind of already feeling overwhelmed with this whole new lifestyle and they’re asking me, do they really need to have a blender and a food processor? If you think about it, they’re both plastic containers and they both have a big blade in the bottom, and come on, do you really need both?
And unfortunately, even though I’m a total realist, and I love to keep things cheap and quick and dirty, you do need both of those items. The huge and substantial difference is really simple..
A blender is used for wet, liquid stuff. You know, things like smoothies, and sauces, and pudding, and icing , and all that stuff that really needs to be smooth, soups things like that; it’s all really liquidy stuff and that’s what a blender is used for.
On the other hand, a food processor also just have a big blade, but it is used for drier things like, not for soups or that type of thing; it’s used for drier recipes like brownies, or cracker batter, or nut pates, or pie crusts, things that aren’t soupy or liquidy; they’re still moist but little bit chunkier and you really can’t substitute one for the other. It just doesn’t work.
If you’re still just starting out you need a super expensive blender and I really do stand behind that. Even though I’m the cheapest person on the planet, I do have an expensive blender. But I also realized that we have to be real here, and if right now say you’re a college student or really on a tight budget, and you don’t have either of those things, I would say just go to Target or your local big box store and get a cheap food processor, $50. That will last you, it might die because it‘s probably kind of crappy but that will last you for a while.
And then start out with a cheap blender. I mean the cheap blender suck, and they don’t do a good job, and you should upgrade eventually. The reason why I want you to upgrade is that with a blender, if it’s a cheap blender it’s not going to get the same results as an expensive blender. A cheap blender is not going to liquefy things to the same degree, so that’s the reason why I care. Whereas for a food processor, it gets the job done whether you get a $50 one or a $200 one, I find that the difference is really not that big of a deal. But with a blender, if you’re talking about green smoothies and things that really are kind of gross if they‘re not pureed and blended really really well. So that’s the big difference between food processors and blenders.
They’re both really important and of course, the success of your recipe is going to depend on the quality of your appliances and just the fact that you’re making your recipe in the right appliance.
I definitely get a lot of people asking me, “You know, I don’t have a food processor. Can I make this brownie recipe in my blender?” And the answer is no. If you try to make something that’s kind of dry and chunky in a blender, it’s not going to work. Just think about it. The blender is so high and skinny, and it needs to have a liquid cycling all the way up and down, whereas you have chunky stuff like nuts and things like that without liquid, they don’t cycle in a blender. They’re just going to fly around like crazy. So again, that’s the difference between the food processor and the blender.
Making sweets in a food processor
And now, what kinds of recipes can we make in a food processor? If you have not “uncooked” with your food processor before, there’s two, maybe three main types of foods that are made in a food processor. The beauty of the food processor is that it will kind of make things seem cooked, and here‘s a bit of good example. You’ve heard me go on and on in episode 1 of The Raw Food Podcast about brownies, and how you can make them in a food processor, so I won’t go into detail today. If you are interested in that, you can go back and download episode 1 of The Raw Food Podcast. But, essentially, one of the main things you can make is brownies, or other types of desserts. What I’m trying to say here is that it allows you to “mimic” cooking. If you put some nuts and coconut and dates, and cocoa powder into the food processor and process them up, it’s going to leave you with a nice cookie dough consistency that you can press down into a glass brownie dish, and it seems like it’s been cooked if you were to refrigerate that because of the texture. It allows you to cut things up and blend them in a really really nice way that’s hard to replicate in any other situation.
So you’ve got your sweets that you frequently will make in a food processor, and I mentioned the brownies about 10 times. I also make a lot of pie crusts. I’ll make truffles, other little energy balls; a lot of different things which are made in the food processor, so that’s one type of thing.
Making savory recipes in a food processor
Another type of thing I make a lot in my food processor is the more savory stuff like, one thing I eat a lot of are called nut pates, and frequently we will have a base of certain nut like cashews or sesame seeds, things like that. And you'll combine those nuts with a bit of liquid, frequently some lemon juice, maybe a bit of olive oil, some water, things like that. Then also, spices and vegetables. So, you'll kind of get a hummus-like consistency depending on your recipe, and this is all done with just a food processor, so you don’t need to cook it or do anything else with it.
You usually put the hardest thing in the food processor first; usually that will be the nuts. So maybe, you put your one cup of cashews for example in there, and you’d usually blend up the hard things like the nuts first on their own and you kind of get that done.You would process it into a flour, so you’re going to put your cashews in there, and just start processing it not for very long, 20 seconds maybe, pulsing and processing. You can watch it, because it’s usually transparent so you’re going to see it turning basically into a flour-like consistency, so little mealy, tiny balls similar to flour. And then you’re going to start adding your vegetables and process those up; then, your spices in and your liquid as well .
I have on my raw recipe website at therawtarian.com quite a few nut pate recipes just looking at them right now. What I used to eat a lot, but I haven’t eaten it lately actually, I call it the “Raw Vegan Chicken Salad Recipe”; of course there’s no chicken in it, but the consistency reminds me of chicken salad sandwiches that I used to really like before I went raw. So to give you a sense of that recipe, for example you’ve got 2 cups of nuts, a combination of pecans and cashews, and also some sunflower seeds in there too. So I put those into the food processor. Then I have some cucumber and some red onion, and some celery, and a bit of apple. And then I’ve got a teaspoon of dill, some lemon juice, and some sea-salt. That’s basically all I’m putting in there, so in case you didn’t catch all that, basically it’s just nuts, vegetables, some dill, and some lemon juice. And for that, we’re looking for kind of a chunky chicken salad type consistency for that recipe, I think my directions just says just throw everything in the food processor. And look at that, in the instructions I just wrote “Do not use your blender for this!”
Then, you’re just going to process really briefly into a kind of a chunky-chicken-salad-like texture. So that one’s actually super easy, because we want it kind of chunky still. But that’s a good example of a nut pate. I first said we frequently make desserts, like bars and things like that in the food processor.
Secondly, I was just talking about nut pates, I’ll just list you some of the titles. These are all free by the way, if you go to The Rawtarian and just click on my big recipe index button. So, I mentioned the chicken salad recipe, I have a veggie cream cheese recipe which is quite good (it’s quite salty and it’s good). I have a couple of different raw tuna salad type recipes that use nuts and some dulse (which is a kind of a seaweed) to give it that fishy kind of tuna flavor, and I have a few other nut pates recipes on there that I like a lot too, especially an egg salad recipe (oh, no, I think I made that one in a blender!). Anyways, I have over a 100 raw recipes now on that index, and they are all available for free so you could go The Rawtarian and check those out.
Making cracker batter in a food processor (to be dehydrated)
One of the other thing (so this is going to be like the third type of thing I usually will use my food processor for), and this does talk about dehydrating but that’s not for for everybody especially if you’re new, but one thing I do do is make my own crackers. It’s basically the same as the nut pate concept, except that the cracker will usually be more wet than a nut pate, because of course you’re going to dehydrate it and allow some of that moisture to evaporate. So I got a lot of great cracker recipes too. And onion bread; super popular. And a pizza crust recipe; yes this one I’ve had flagged to talk about on this podcast.
So again, this is really a lot like the nut pate like I said, it just usually has more liquid in it. Also, if you’re making a cracker, you will always need some type of binding agent; that’s just a fancy word for saying some ingredient that’s going to keep everything sticking together.
If you’re making a cracker, obviously you need it to stay together; you don’t want it to just crumble and fall apart. And usually in raw food recipes, the binding agent is generally flax seeds. So you’ll frequently find that in raw recipes and you won’t want to omit that, because you really do need a binding agent.
Now flax does have quite a strong flavor, so usually I’ll use as little flax as possible just because it really will change the flavor of the recipe; it’s not bad or good, it’s just that I find I like all my recipes to taste different. I don’t want to always have my crackers tasting like with an overall flavor of flax.
I do have this pizza crust recipe, which is 2 cups of almonds, and then you just put those in the food processor. This recipe does actually call for quite a bit of flax. So, 1 cup of flax, a cup of water, some olive oil, some spices, and some salt. And so really, that’s basically like a nut pate. The only difference is this recipe has 1 cup of water, so that is going to make it pretty liquidy, so it’s not going to work for a nut pate. But it certainly would work as a dough, and then you can dehydrate it.
Cracker recipes and making cracker batter is usually done in a food processor.
Food processor or blender
There’s a few things that can go either way, but it’s depending on the consistency right? So if you have something that’s going to be really liquidy, like cracker batter that’s going to be super liquidy, you sometimes can make that in a blender. But it’s really going to depend, and I’d say if you are not sure, probably you should default to a food processor when it comes to cracker recipes.
Overall, I think it’s really important to have a food processor, and in fact, sometimes when I’m talking to friends, and people that I know in the real world, who maybe never heard of raw food, actually I don’t really start them and get them excited about blending. I’d usually will say “Do you have a food processor at home?”
Actually I’m quite surprised most people that I talk to, even just normal non-raw people will say that they do have one. So then I’ll say ”Oh, well I’ve got a great brownie recipe that I always talk about.” But I’d always introduce them to using their food processor to make a few things.
And that seems to be kind of accessible to people, and they don’t find it too odd. Whereas sometimes I would talk about making say raw alfredo sauce in a blender, and it seems to be people have a harder time absorbing the concept of making sauces in a blender. But making meals in food processors seems to be a little more accessible or seem more normal to people, so I usually start out talking about that.
Now I haven’t actually given any courses in my local area, partially because I do live in a small community and just haven’t really looked into doing that at all. But I often think that probably, if I was to teach raw food locally, that I would probably do most of that, in terms of processing recipes as opposed to blending. I‘d probably do a combination. but I think I would definitely start with that.
I think overall, processing is something that can be really easy. It’s just a case of getting a hang of doing it. I know that sounds cliché, but it is true, and I think something you can do to help yourself out is just start with some recipes that are no-fail recipes, like usually that will be tried and true recipes, and that could be from my site or from a wide variety of sources. But usually that will be recipes with just a few ingredients and not too complicated. That’s a really great place to start, if you’re looking to incorporate more raw, healthful foods into your diet if you’re not doing that already quite a bit. It’s to explore the option of the food processor and you can pick one up, usually for $50, maybe even less than that depending on your area, and just give that a try.
For people who aren’t completely raw, it can be really handy to make some nut pates, and then you could still use them in your standard whatever you like to eat, like on bagel, or topped on top of salad; that’s a really great thing to do if you want to look for a substitute for, say putting chicken on a salad or something like that. You can make little balls of some type of nut pate, and serve that on top of the salad, and it’s really a nice substitute for tuna or chicken and that type of thing.
In the intro I did alude to the quick tip I wanted to talk about in terms of helping to keep your food processor clean. I don't remember who told me this, but I picked this tip up a couple of years ago, and it’s been super handy., and it involves the lovely useful saran wrap. At the beginning of this episode, I mentioned how a food processor generally has 3 parts: plastic bowl, removable S-blade, and a top.
Now the top of a food processor, it’s basically like the lid I should say, usually has all these crazy compartment and gadgets, and little nooks and crannies that sometimes allow you to use accessories. They might have slots for slicers and slots for you to drop food down into, but the top area is can tend to be really annoying to clean. So just a great tip; you’ve got your food in your food processor.
(Oh, I should mention! Whenever you’re loading your food processor, you always want to make sure that blade is in there first before you put any food in, because obviously it’s kind of hard to get the blade in if you’ve already filled it with food.)
But anyway, you’re going to have your blade in there. Then you’re going to put your ingredients in, like I said some recipes won’t want all the ingredients in right away, and that’s just to make processing easier. But yes, I’m getting to the tip here. So the tip is, you would rip of a sheet of saran wrap (plastic wrap) that’s going to be bigger than the whole size of the lid. and before you put the lid on, just flatten that saran wrap on top of it. And then, put the lid on snugly. And so, you’re going to have these saran wrap kind of just sticking of out the edges. What that’s going to do is it’s going to protect the lid from getting any splatter. So, that is a super handy tip, and sometimes it depends on the recipe. It might be more annoying than it’s worth if you have to keep taking the lid on and off, and doing things like that. It’s a great tip for all my recipes really, if you can at least think of it because it can be quite awkward cleaning that top, and anything to make our lives easier is a good thing.
So I did just want to talk a bit today about food processing, and I think I did that. I don’t have too much more to say on that subject. But it is a super thing to do. I love my food processed recipes; I couldn’t live without my Vitamix or my food processor. And yes, I’ll just keep it brief and say thank you so much for joining me on this step-forth episode of The Raw Food Podcast. I’ve been receiving a lot of great comments about the podcast; there’s a lot of people saying that they just found me through the podcast, which is pretty cool. I hadn’t had much experience at all with podcasting, and it’s really neat to know that there’s a lot of people out there listening to podcasts throughout the day, and maybe commuting or jogging and that kind of thing. It’s really neat, so “Hi!” to all the new listeners. I have also received feedback about my microphone and my audio levels, and I’m going to try to work on that too.
My philosophy and strategy with all of this raw food stuff is I’m always trying to make things a little bit better every time. I hope that my audio recordings will be improving over the next few months. And I guess I’ll have to say thank you again. I really appreciate all your feedback about the podcast and about my recipe,s and I look forward to seeing you at The Rawtarian.
You have been listening to the Raw Food Podcast, with your host The Rawtarian. Be sure to visit me at www.therawtarian.com where you can browse over 100 of my absolute favorite, simple satisfying raw vegan recipes that you’ll find pretty quick to make and with just a few ingredients and that taste spectacular. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for my newsletter, and once you’ve signed up for that you’ll get a PDF copy of 11 of my most favorite, most satisfying, most delicious recipes, including raw vegan alfredo sauce, raw brownies, and a whole host of other delicious recipes you can make at home that are raw and tastes amazing. Thank you so much for joining me, and I hope to hear from you very soon. And until next time, enjoy your raw adventure.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with like-minded, qualified health care professional(s). I wish you success on your raw journey!