Collard Means Rap

Little up date: Last week I had four first days at four separate jobs four days in a row. I have had some time to weigh my options and ultimately I think I am going with the line cook position Liba’s Vegetarian Falafal Food Truck, along with the farmers market and kitchens assistant job Coracao Raw Chocolate Confections. The pay to fun ratio is the highest with these two. I am quite happy to have found some chef work that did not compromise my goals of serving up healthy foods. It’s exciting.

Speaking of healthy foods, the other day I attended a raw cooking demo hosted by Chef Billy of Divine Raw Foods. Chef Billy (pictured below) is working closely with both Phatbeats and (People’s Grocery, two Oakland organizations hell bent on opening channels to healthy food up too every Oakland citizen above and below the poverty line.

Some of the thing they are doing, (and that I am attempting to become affiliated with):

– Pushing for an emphasis on nutritious foods with in children’s hospitals cafeterias. This is known as the Wellness Project. I am currently in talks to help with menu planning!
– Establishing urban farms to provide some of the above mentioned foods.
– Beginning Farmers markets as a means of creating community hubs for continuing food security. (These farmers markets accept food stamps! And provide free meals!!)
– Combating the obesity epidemic is an overarching by product of the above projects

Phatbeats and People’s Grocery are two large organizations with many projects; these are the ones which I am aspiring to assist.

Back to Chef Billy. The humble lesson was a 101 in the collard leaf burrito. A true raw vegan standard that has saved my savory palette more times than one. The key a collard wrap’s success, a solid nut pate. Enter the MAC.

The MAC Whip:
– 1 cup Raw Cashews (Raw Sunflower seeds work as well)
– 3 glove Garlic
– Juice of on Lemon
– 2 table spoons Miso Paste (fermented soybean paste readily available at any grocery these days)
– ¼ cup Water (cleaner sourced the better)
– ½ Red Onion
– (optional) ¼ Red Bell Pepper

The Wrap:

– Collard Green Leafs (about the size of a lunch plate is ideal)

Fixins’ and Stuffins’:
– Sprouts (I like sunflower sprouts)
– Red bell Pepper (diced)
– Carrots (match stick chopped)
– Shredded Lettuce or Purple Cabbage
– (optional) Avocado

– Knife
– Food Processor
– Rubber Spatula
– Reamer (to juice lemon, otherwise just squeeze it)

Chef Billy threw this taste sensation together on a wind swept lot in a rough part of north Oakland with an old hospital gurney as a counter. The audience was comprised of equal parts, hipsters, neighbours and homeless. So… don’t be intimidated. You can do a fine job on your roofed, warm, and wired kitchen granite, free from the critical gaze of the O town’s hungry. Here is the story on this collard cashew glory.

Toss your cashews into the processor and grind em’ down to a coarse powder. They should feel and look like a gritty sand, a little coarser than your typical coffee grounds. At this point throw in the garlic, lemon, Miso paste, and onion. Process again until you have a pate like constancy that is both moist and spreadable (similar to humus). This stuff is sooo dam good, so be careful with it, a little health fat is amazing; moderation. Spoon it into a bowl and set aside… then lick the processor and spoon clean.

To make you wrap first cut of the excess stem off an inch after the leaf begins. Smear 2-3 tablespoons of the pate on the collard along the side of the stem closest to you, then top with sprouts, avo, bell pepper, etc. I like to but the lettuce or cabbage last as it makes for easier wrapping. Wrap it sushi style, burrito style, or taco style if your lazy and the leaf is tiny, and mac that mac wrap with passion. Boom.

Disclaimer to skinny vegans and weight watchers: It is important to note that this recipe contains very little carbohydrates, while still being quite filling. This makes it ideal for weight loss. However, if you’re trying to gain some weight (like me) or are about to run a few miles, eat a couple bananas for dessert.

Billy’s demo was fun but the recipe (when aimed at Oakland’s lower income brackets) is wholesomely unrealistic. These ingredients are pricey, the prep is time consuming, and a food processor is necessary. BUT, from a different perspective these pitfalls are beside the point. It was positive to see a group of unlikely table mates enjoying one nutritious meal together. People meeting people, trade some food knowledge, aspiring to eat a little bit better tomorrow. If that week one attendee goes to the store and shuns ‘2 for 1’ special on onion chips in search of an onion, the day was a success. It’s about baby steps. It’s about planting seeds. It’s about building community ties.



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