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All About Food: Raw food full of complex flavors

July 06, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
(Kevin Chang, HB…)

The other day we dined on delicious "fried" avocado mini-tostados, tasty olive pizettas and scrumptious garden tahini veggie wraps. We adored the chocolate ganache with sea salt and coconut butter. What was amazing was that every bit of this excellent meal was completely raw!

These and a vast array of other raw foods are served at 118° Degrees, Jenny Ross' attractive restaurant at the Camp in Costa Mesa. What exactly is raw food? This is a movement advocating food that is heated to a temperature no higher than 118 degrees Fahrenheit, thereby preserving its natural chemical structure. Dehydration and freezing are acceptable. Proponents believe a raw food diet pre-dates history and assume humans were largely vegetarian with a digestive system configured to digest this food, although some raw food enthusiasts also eat raw meat and this is called the primal diet. 118° Degrees is strictly vegan.

We interviewed Jenny five years ago when she had a small shop in Laguna Beach, and she has come a long way since then. In addition to her restaurant, she has written two cookbooks, has a product line sold at many Whole Foods Markets and, in several of the larger branches, has a separate raw bar with her own staff preparing a selection of menu items to order. 118° Degrees also caters office luncheons, tapas parties, holiday functions and corporate mixers.

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There are meal programs available for pick-up, including a seven-day detox as well as a one-week, 10-meal program. Being a pioneer in the raw food movement, Jenny is dedicated to teaching classes and coaching individuals. At the HomeSchool Campus of OC in Costa Mesa, she teaches a 16-week course for 9- to 13-year-olds about "living foods" so that kids can see where their food comes from besides the supermarket.

She uses Mike Saraylian's Harvest to Home self-maintaining planter boxes of vegetables, fruits and herbs so the children get to watch the progress of the plants from tiny buds to luscious produce. Jenny also uses Mike's boxes at the restaurant for fresh picked produce. These wonderful boxes are available for home delivery.

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