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I think it’s worth the time

Russell James

As my frozen mango goes through the checkout. . .*beep*

The cashier turns to me and says, “Frozen mango?  You can’t just eat that when you’re going out.”

I look at him.

He follows up with, “Nah, that takes too long, man.”

I smile, not really knowing where to go with this.

I decide to just look at my long line of vegetables, fruit, nuts.  And tea bags.

“What do you do with it?  How long does it take to defrost?”

For a second, I consider telling him what it’s actually for; to flavour my kombucha.  But I decide that’s not a conversation I want to have.

Besides, if he can’t get his head around defrosted mango, I fear what might happen if I try and describe the kombucha making process to him.

Even as I type this, my spell check can’t deal with the word ‘kombucha’. . .

*Ctrl-click . . .’Add to dictionary’.  Done.

Unfortunately, dealing with Mr Frozen Mango isn’t quite as easy.

I decide to answer his question with minimum chance of further questioning, so I say, “It takes a couple of hours to defrost, but you can leave it in the fridge overnight to defrost too, so it’s ready to go in the morning.”

Blank stare.

Mind blown.

I could have told him you can add it to kombucha frozen and it will defrost in the jar.  But I don’t think that would have helped.

We finish our transaction and I go on my way with a new perspective.  And it’s this. . .

Everyone’s got their own idea of what they’re prepared to do to make a meal.  Everyone has got different boundaries of time they’re willing to spend.

I’ve just never heard anyone say they’re not willing to defrost mango.

In fact, what he said about ‘eating it as you go out of the door’ was the most illuminating for me.

Meal time has been reduced to what can be eaten whilst walking out the door.

I’m a little different.

I believe, at the very least, it’s worth defrosting mango.

I believe it’s worth doing a whole lot more though.

I believed, and still do, that it was worth travelling for 13 hours from London to Koh Samui, Thailand to spend the last of my money (and a bit more) on a 7 day fast to clear up my skin in 2004.

I believe it’s worth making our health and wellness out number 1 priority.  For me, there’s nothing more important.

I believe it’s worth trying new things and doing whatever it takes to prepare the healthiest and most vibrant, fresh and healing food for our families.

Defrosting mango, soaking nuts, growing sprouts and dehydrating the occasional pizza base.  I’ll do it all, and I’ll do it with a smile on my face and a full heart.

I believe it so much that I’ve dedicated my life to sharing the things I’ve learned, to create lives full of health, passion and purpose, through food.

If you’re reading this and you get even a fraction of the health and healing that’s available to you, from what I share, then it will have been worth the time for both of us.

I believe our destiny is largely shaped by what we eat, and I have this dream that keeps asking, “what if the whole world got high on raw food?”

Let’s make some time for that.






What Equipment do I Need for a Raw Food Diet?

By far the most common questions that I get are to do with raw food kitchen equipment.

So I decided to do it once for all. . .

I’m creating my definitive list of favourite stuff for the kitchen.  I’ll keep this updated too, so you’ll know that it’s my latest recommendations.

BTW, if you’re a manufacturer and want to send me a bit of kit to take a look at for this list, drop us an email.  A note on that though, I want to keep this list authentic, so I’ll only post stuff that I use and think is awesome.

I’ve also created a PDF for you with everything from this post on.  All you have to do is share this post far and wide on the social interwebs and the download is yours to keep.  See the bit at the bottom of this post for that.

Please also note that you absolutely do not need to buy everything here to start or maintain a raw food diet.  The biggest help in making your raw food recipes will be the first 2 items on the list: a really good knife and chopping board.

I’ve put anything and everything here that I’ve collected in the past 10 years of being into raw food, so take your time when putting your own raw food kitchen together.

Here goes. . .

Knife & Cutting Board

Raw Food Knife & Board

This is by far the most important thing to invest in first off.

A great knife and chopping board will make you feel like you’re creating art in the kitchen.  And that’s a good thing because that’s exactly what you’re doing.

I don’t even mean takes ages over presentation either.  I’m talking about everything you do in the kitchen being your art.  Creating health is an art.  Creating time for yourself to do this is an art.

It makes a difference when you think about it like this.

Knives are definitely a personal choice.  It comes down to how it feels when you use it.  Different people like different weights.

And some chefs will collect them just because that’s what they like to do.  But that doesn’t mean you have to have a huge set of multiple knives.  Even chefs that have a huge amount of knives end up using one (their favourite) most of the time.  And after all, we’re just chopping vegetables here, not meat.

I’m currently using this knife from Santa Fe Stone Works, but I’ve got my sights set on one of these from Aura Knifeworks.


TSM Dehydrator - Raw Food RecipesNot totally necessary, but boy does it bring an edge to your raw food preparation.  If you haven’t got one yet, you’ve probably seen lots of raw food recipes that need dehydrators and wondered whether to invest.  Or you’re pining after one until you can afford it.

I use 2 different brands of dehydrator.

Currently I use Excalibur Dehydrators in my workspace and a TSM dehydrator in my home kitchen.  To be honest I end up doing most of my raw food prep in my workspace, so the TSM doesn’t see much action at the moment.

I have a blog post talking about raw food dehydrators if you want to actually see what they are how they work.

I also have a post about using an oven instead of a dehydrator.

Here’s what I like and dislike about the ones I use right now. And remember, I’ll always keep this post updated so this will always be the ones I’m using at the moment.

Excalibur Dehydrator

This is the staple dehydrator of the raw food world.  I’ve had one since I started out and I still find them the easiest to work with.  Mine has had to have a couple of extra screws in it to hold the thing together, but that’s only because I’ve had them in and out of the back of cars over the years, catering, doing classes and whatnot.  If you’re not using yours professionally, you won’t have that issue.

That’s really the main drawback of this dehydrator; the plastic looks and feels cheap, and don’t get me started on the ‘door’, which is basically another piece of plastic that hangs off the front.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel though.  Excalibur now make stainless steel one.  They’ve yet to come to the UK, but are available in the US.  I’ll be buying one.

For now, I have the 9 tray, which I would advise because it’s so easy to fill up a 5 tray really quickly.  I advise that you use your dehydrator a couple of times a week to make lots of goodies to keep you going.

A timer is not essential either.  It’s a little more expensive to get one, but you only really need it if you’re going to be out when something you need to be partly dry finishes.  An example would be if you make wraps; they need to not be dehydrated to crackers, but stay pliable.

TSM Dehydrator

I love this dehydrator for it’s look and build quality.  The ‘door’ on this one is a little more substantial so doesn’t feel like just a pice of hanging plastic, helped by the fact it’s actually stainless steel too.  I do also find the fan a bit more efficient and quieter.  The trays though aren’t quite as nice to work with as the Excalibur ones.

Everything I said above about the size of the dehydrator applies here too.  As does the timer.  Actually, this dehydrator has an option to get a digital readout timer and temperature control, which is really cool if you’re into your gadgets.

Greenstar Juicer

Greenstar Elite - Raw Food RecipesI’ve had a few different juicers over the years and there always seems to be one that’s different and better.  As I write this, the new thing is to make a vertical juicer, but to be honest, I think we’re at a point where juicers are about as good as they’re going to get.  Unless James Dyson decides to enter the juicer market.

More recently I even got into using my Vitamix as a juicer.  Just blend the goodies and then strain them through a nut milk bag.  It’s quick and easy, so good if you’re in a hurry.

But for quality juice, I always seem to come back to this juicer.  It does have a few parts to clean, but it doesn’t’ ever take me over 10 minutes to clean.  It just seems like a mountain to climb when you look at it.

As they say, the best juicer is the one you’ll actually use.  Currently, this is the one I use.


Vitamix - Raw Food RecipesOK, here’s the big boy in the room.  I’m not even sure what that means, or if it sounds weird. . .

But the Vitamix is the hands-down most used piece of equipment after my knife and cutting board.

It’s absolutely worth the money and everyone I seem to speak to about it says they use theirs daily too.  It’s definitely not one of those pieces of equipment that gathers dust.

People often ask me the difference between a Vitamix (which is a blender) and a food processor, and if they need both.

The easiest way to think about it is that a Vitamix (blender) is good for blending liquids, or anything that needs to be smooth.  A food processor will grind things down and give you the option to have some chunkiness.

Now, there’s some overlap here.  For example, there’s lots of things you could do in either.  Tomato sauce would be one.  But if you wanted really smooth cashew cream, you’ll never get that in a food processor.

Which brings me neatly on to. . .

Cuisinart Food Processor

Cuisinart Food Processor - Raw Food RecipesMy food processor of choice is the Cuisinart MP14nu (I just typed that without looking it up, because I’ve been asked about the model number so often #geek).

They don’t actually make this model anymore, but the new range is just as good, you have a choice in that new range of bowl sizes, so I would go for the biggest you can afford.

Food processors are great for making your own nut butter (although you can actually do that in a Vitamix too) and for grinding batter for crackers and breads.

Water Distiller

Water Distiller - Raw Food RecipesI live and work in London and the water that comes out of the tap here has been sanitised, chemically cleaned, been through 100s of humans (that’s a strange thing to think about), has traveled and sat in miles of pipes and you only have to look at the inside of a kettle to know that’s not what you want your insides to look like.

There’s 2 issue with water.  First is the cleanliness and second is the aliveness.  For the first one, I use a distiller.  Many articles have been written about the distiller and how the water is dead water.  I’d agree with that, but I want to get the cleanest water I can, so I distill and then add some Himalayan salt to give it some structure again.

I use the Ecowater 800.

To make sure I’m drinking truly alive water, I also drink water from vegetables, aka juicing :)

For more on this, check out Kevin Gianni’s Water Secrets series.  It’s fascinating and will give you a new appreciation of the water you drink.


Mandoline - Raw Food RecipesI’ve used this style of mandoline (pictured) from the beginning, but when I lost the hand guard for my first one, I decided it was time to buy a really fancy stainless steel mandoline, 3 times the price of this.

And I didn’t like the new one.  It just didn’t cut as well as this one.   Any search online for a mandoline will bring up one of these in the first couple of results, but if you have trouble, search for the Joyce Chen mandoline.


Lurch Spiraliser - Raw Food RecipesTo be honest, I don’t really use this a lot.  I prefer my peeler to make pasta out of vegetables.  But I am including it on the list here, because it’s a popular piece of kit.

Of all the spiralisers out there, the Lurch Spirali is the best one.  Actually, now I’ve written this I want to go use it.  That’ll be my dinner tonight :)

Wine Straining Bag

My good friend Amy Levin (we made some raw chocolate videos together) put me on to these instead of a nut milk bag.

Nut milk nags for making nut milk are cool and all, but these wine straining bags are bigger and sturdier.

Is there anything I’ve missed?  Leave a comment if there’s a piece of equipment that you are thinking of buying and want my opinion on.




Yoga Nidra for Better Sleep (and Where to Get a Download)

When my girlfriend Natasha showed me Yoga Nidra I was surprised I’d never heard of it.

A technique that allows promises all the benefits of 4 hours sleep in 1 hour’s worth of practice? I’ll have some of that.

I’ve seen the benefits myself and, like a good boyfriend should, have recommended it to friends. One of my friends, Mitti, started playing the recorded version of it (like a guided meditation, but more focussed on body awareness) before she went to bed and reported back that she’d effectively cured herself of her years of insomnia.

Natasha and I now run The Lightworks Retreats, which is a one day urban retreat, which finishes up with a Yoga Nidra session, so everyone goes home totally blissed out.

We’d love you to join us for that, but if you want to experience this right away, Natasha has written a guest post to talk you through her Yoga Sleep Method, including where to get a free audio to use. . .

The Yoga Sleep Method

From Natasha:

Over the past few years, I have studied and practiced Swami Satyananda’s style of Yoga Nidra, which includes effective and proven techniques for physical, mental and emotional relaxation and exploration of the subconscious mind.

… and I am excited to introduce them to you in my Yoga Sleep Method.

The Yoga Sleep Method is an amalgamation of techniques, tools and cues I learned through my time in India and after. It combines the simple mind-exercises of Yoga Nidra with creative visualisations.

Yoga Nidra with a modern-day twist.

To read more about The Yoga Sleep Method (and get a free audio download) visit: www.theyogasleepmethod.com

The practice of Yoga Nidra is profound.

It restores health in such an easy and deep way.

And anyone can do it!


Here’s five amazing effects of Yoga Nidra…


One hour of Yoga Sleep is as effective as FOUR hours of normal sleep.


In the state of Yoga Sleep (waking sleep), the energy that we use up thinking, worrying, planning… is no longer “leaked”.

In this way, Yoga Nidra allows the body to focus on rejuvenating it’s overtaxed tissues, glands, organs and muscles.


Yoga Sleep (Yoga Nidra) creates inner harmony by stimulating the parts of the brain responsible for maintaining balance between your internal and external environments.

Yoga Nidra helps to maintain your homeostatic balance. It even evolves it! … by bringing your awareness to normally involuntary and unconscious functions in your body.


You are awake and also asleep in the practice of Yoga Sleep!

Your body feels like it falls asleep but the aim is to keep the mind aware and awake!

“Yoga Nidra has been termed as “sleepless sleep” because we learn to enter the state between sleep and wakefulness without loss of awareness”
~ Swami Satyananda

AND FIVE – the most interesting!

Your brain waves slow down from the Beta to Alpha to Theta wave states… and sometimes all the way down to Delta… at which point you may start snoring like me! Haha! And be aware of the sound at the same time! It’s so crazy when that happens!

Yoga Nidra aims to take your mind through each and every brainwave pattern that would occur in a healthy night’s sleep. 

Each brain wave state is as important as the next!

But often in this day and age we miss out the middle two Alpha and Theta and go from Beta straight to Delta.

However, the more you practice Yoga Sleep, the easier it will be for you to stay in Alpha and Theta wave states.  These are the juicy, wisdom-filled and nourishing mind states!
.  Now if you are like… “Huh? Brain waves?” Here’s a little recap…

The brainwave states:

  • Awake – Conscious Mind – Beta – Fast brain waves! Stressed, busy mind and an excited/exhausted feeling inside.
  • Relaxation – Superconscious Mind – Alpha – Slow brain waves.  Healing can begin.  Rejuvenating every cell from the effects of your busy day and any toxins. Your nervous system relaxes and you tap into the para-sympathetic nervous system to “Rest and Digest”.
  • Dreaming Sleep – Subconscious Mind – Theta – Super slow brain waves… lost of awareness of the physical body.  Cosmic consciousness can enter your awareness bringing with it wisdom, insight and the deep release of emotional tension.
  • Deep Sleep – Unconscious Mind – Delta – oops totally gone.  No one’s home anymore.


We will look to explore all the wondrous states of your mind at The Winter Warmers Lightworks Retreat on 28th November and at The British Yoga Festival on Friday 5th December in my “Delicious Flow and Yoga Sleep” workshop.

Don’t delay and miss out on the opportunity to get all sleepy in the best kind of way.

And maybe it’s your first time and you are keen to know how it feels on a mental and emotional level to relax yet stay totally conscious and aware whilst in deep relaxation… beginners are soooo welcome, don’t be shy.

Using an oven instead of a dehydrator

So you’ve seen lots of raw food recipes that need a dehydrator.  But you’re not quite ready to make the commitment and buy another piece of kitchen equipment that will take up precious kitchen countertop real estate.

And you want to know if you can use an oven until you make up your mind.

Quick answer. . .


But there’s a couple of things to look out for when using your oven as a dehydrator.  The main thing I’ve found is airflow; the oven you’re using really needs to have a good fan.

I made some kale chips in my oven to steer you in the right direction.  Let me know if you’ve had success with using your oven as a dehydrator in the comments below, I’d love to know what you made.

Like this video? You can subscribe to The Raw Chef TV on iTunes here.

Related: What is a raw food dehydrator?

Raw Chocolate – Blooper Reel

Never let it be said that we’re not serious about raw food here at The Raw Chef HQ, but sometimes this stuff (above) happens.

We had so much fun making this Raw Chocolate Course for you.  I think you can tell :)

How To Cut, Fan & Dice Avocado

Few things can make a salad or any of your raw food recipes look amazing with so little effort, than a perfectly fanned avocado — you just have to know how!

In this video, I’ll show you how to do exactly that, as well as the best way to remove avocado if you just want to dice it.

Improving your skills with things like this will definitely speed you up in the kitchen, so you have more time to do what’s important … enjoying eating. :)

Like this video? You can subscribe to The Raw Chef TV on iTunes here.

Think You Have No Willpower? How MSG Is Tricking You

Choose your ingredients carefully!
Known by fans as the fifth taste, by the packaged food industry as the holy grail of food flavouring and by an entire generation as the evil behind ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome,’ MSG is definitely a troublesome little blighter.

What are the real facts behind the most researched and widely debated food additive in the world?

Hearing about the worrying long-term effects linked to MSG as well as some pretty unpleasant short-term symptoms, including nausea, fatigue and headache, is enough to make you check and recheck the ingredients of every item in your shopping basket.




Update: Yoga guy, Daniel, accepted my Facebook friend request. :)

I went to Stonehenge for the winter solstice. The moment I had the idea to do it, I knew it was a good one.

As it turned out, I ended up going with four friends on what turned out to be such a fun road trip.


The Challenge Of Empowerment

I recently just went through several hours of dental procedures, having a root canal done and crown fitted.

I’ve just found out that root canals can be extremely detrimental to health and may actually change my DNA, causing heart disease.