Just about every time I’ve overheard or been involved in a conversation regarding comfort food or sudden cravings, one particular category of fare inevitably dominates the discussion: Chinese take-out. Now, I say “take-out” to describe and differentiate the battered, sugary, caloric wasteland of American Chinese food from the traditional ethnic foods of China; chow that’s often harder to find and not what most Americans mean when they say “Chinese food”. For some, take-out consoles the spirit during or after a crazy work day; for others it’s relentlessly hormonal. Still, most will not deny that the food itself is greasy, gross, grosser after the first ten bites, and most always leads to an immediate stomach issue: indigestion, heartburn, or dare I say it- the runs!
Having likely been one of these people at least at some point (as have I!), you probably already know what’s going on – why someone would eat, let alone crave, something that is not only bad for you, but admittedly gross in taste and sensation. In times of stress, physical or emotional, the brain craves food that will provide immediate fat. As we know, nothing does that better than sugar and carbs! So in a world where our lifestyles put us in a constant state of pressure and anxiety, this survival mechanism can quickly become a big problem (the U.S is the most obese country in the world! Look it up!).
Seeing as how our lifestyles and the particular cravings that come along with it aren’t going to change anytime soon, we need a solution in the form of substitution. That is exactly what my raw food philosophy is all about – trick the brain, delight the palate, and vitalize the body! The challenge of coming up with an adequate replacement for take-out, however, was a harrowing one. The dish had to meet three criteria: one, it had to be sweet enough to subdue the afore-mentioned survival mechanism; two, it had to have meaty chunks to satisfy the belly; and the third and most important criteria was that it had to be FAST! One of the driving factors in people resorting to take-out is that it is convenient – fast and everywhere. As you’re all aware, raw food is not known for this.
After weeks of experimenting with these three criteria, I finally came up with a truly quick and delicious recipe that I promise will, at least overtime, replace your favorite take-out dish. Behold: Sweet and Sour Take-Out! This dish is ready to eat in literally half the time it would take to order traditional take-out, taste surprisingly authentic, and doesn’t dirty more than a bowl, knife, and your favorite pair of chop-sticks. Better still, this dish can be altered a number of ways to fit your individual taste or seasonal availability. For example, I have a friend who can’t stand figs – she can very easily replace them with more papaya or even plums. If you find the dish too sweet, replace the honey with more maple syrup. Moreover, for those of you who aren’t strictly raw and want a meal that will stick with you during the rest of your work day, spoon this recipe over some brown rice. I challenge you to try this recipe next time you have one of those cravings – you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
1 c black or turkey figs, chopped
1 c papaya, chopped
one medium carrot, sliced on the diagonal
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
one recipe Sweet & Sour Sauce
1. Prepare Sweet & Sour Sauce according to recipe
2. Place carrots, fruit, and sauce into a large bowl, stir thoroughly, and sprinkle sesame seeds over top of dish to serve. Dish can be eaten immediately with or marinate a half hour for stronger flavor.
Sweet & Sour Sauce
Use maple sugar (evaporated maple syrup crystals) instead of maple syrup for thicker sauce. Great for dipping!
1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar (honey recommended for taste)
1 Tbsp maple sugar or maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
large pinch ground clove
1. Blend all ingredients well
2. Serve immediately or store in fridge for up to one week