One of Our Favorite Raw Food Bloggers – Emily van Euw
Emily van Euw is the creator of the blog thisrawsomeveganlife.com. She came across my radar with her book, Rawsome Vegan Baking. Emily takes a very holistic approach to eating, cooking and her desserts. We chatted about her relationship with food and how she develops such delectable raw desserts.
Dédé Wilson: Emily, thank you for speaking with me. You live in one of my favorite places (Vancouver BC area)! There is so much natural beauty and such a great food scene up there. Tell us a bit about how you got into creating raw desserts.
Emily von Euw: I was into baking before I was vegan…my Mom would make cookies and I always wanted to help out. I have always had that passion for baking…then as a teenager I went vegan and got into raw food…it made sense at the time – it seemed to be the cleanest way to eat, which interested me. Now I incorporate cooked whole foods into my diet, but back then I had gotten into raw and that translated into my passion for baking.
Here was this totally new set of ingredients, but the ideas were the same as the baking I had always done – to make something pretty and sweet and make people smile…and I like to learn things on my own, so the experimenting was a challenge and a lot of fun. Like, what would work for crusts? Raw food isn’t baked and usually you rely on baking to add that crunchy texture, so what was I going to use? And then the filling…you can get creamy without all the dairy, that was a whole other challenge.
Talk to me about ingredients…were there any that you just instantly fell in love with using and conversely, any that drove you crazy and were hard to work with?
Oh, I think they were mostly awesome! I couldn’t believe how creamy you could get with cashews! And dried fruit is so sweet and by using different ones you can get different textures and flavors…sometimes it was unbelievable how great they all worked!
What are your favorite go-to recipes? The powerhouse recipes you make again and again?
Personally I don’t make recipes more than once for myself…I am always trying to improve…going onto the next thing and trying new stuff. But I am simple with simple tastes. I like the chocolate almond butter cups (called peanut butter cups on her blog, she offers two different recipes here and here). Sometimes I will add super-foods to them like maca or spirulina. They only take a few minutes to make and you can freeze them and then you have these amazing, nutritious sweets anytime you need energy, like before a workout…my carrot cake I’ve made a few times and the eggnog, too.
You mentioned that you are now incorporating cooked whole foods…what is that about?
I was 16 when I became vegan…but I keep learning everyday…my goal has always been to have the cleanest diet that also feels really good to me and my body. I was reading sources on raw food, but not many of them were excellently cited. I got caught up with it. It is a mindset. And I became too obsessed and that is unhealthy. I am in a healthy space again…the emphasis is on raw food, but I am comfortable eating cooked food. Steamed broccoli and rice aren’t bad for me!
Just the normal tips, I guess. I can have a bad habit where I assume people just know what I do…so here are some things to think about. In general if something isn’t the texture you want, you can play around and change it. If the crust is too crumbly, add more dates or coconut oil. If it is too sticky, add some hemp seeds or almond flour. For creamy textures, when it is blended in the blender, it should be the texture of thick yogurt. If it is too liquidy, add more coconut oil or cashews. If it is too thick, add water or lemon juice or maple syrup…
Oh that’s a perfect segue to talking about sweeteners…how do you decide what to use?
Ideally I use dried fruit because they add sweetness and volume and it’s a whole food. There are so many unique flavors…like using raisins in crust instead of dates. When I do use sweeteners it is usually maple or coconut nectar but I like using ones that are easy to find, so maple is the one I use the most… I use small amounts so it is minimal. Dates can work but if you want to keep texture and color then dates aren’t a good choice because they have so much texture and turn lighter things beigey.
Any new ingredients that you have been experimenting with?
Oh, good question! Um, I don’t know…I have kind of been playing with fruit juices in cheesecakes and other recipes. I call them cream cakes so no one gets confused. Like beet juice and orange juice to add colored swirls…beets are so vibrant, a pinkish purple color. That worked really well. In another recipe I used beet juice for macaroons with coconut and chocolate…and it adds tons of nutrients; they are super packed with tons of good stuff…you don’t need artificial coloring!
Emily, thank you so much for your insights and your recipes. We truly appreciate you taking the share your raw baking experience with us.