A new nouvelle cuisine is afoot: It's made up of uncooked (or "living" ) fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds -- and it has taken the heat right out of the kitchen. Discussions about this diet, however, have become quite heated, as nutritionists disagree about its long-term benefits. Believers say that cooking food destroys important vitamins and enzymes; naysayers argue this is not true of all foods and that a diet made up of exclusively raw produce is unbalanced.
Nutritionists do agree that living foods are low in sodium, saturated fat, and refined sugars, all of which are believed to increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. Fortunately, eating isn't an all-or-nothing game: Incorporating a few raw-food dishes into your regular diet provides needed fiber from fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins from nuts and seeds.
The recipes on these pages introduce simple concepts that can be easily applied to any menu: Avocado adds creaminess to pureed soups; soaking nuts overnight in water guarantees a pudding-like texture once they are ground. So even if a raw-food diet isn't your lifestyle choice, it may be a good choice for tonight's dinner.