“My book is inspired by Mother Nature and four seasons. For me art is and always will be my first inspiration. I love to look at beautiful colors in fruits, flowers, as well as get inspired by shapes of vegetables, sunsets, clouds, animals, and all the beauty around us,” said Aleksandra Winters.
Raw Food Art: Four Seasons of Plant-Powered Goodness is a must have book that you will want to add to your collection. The book is a work of art in itself, from the beautiful photos taken by Winters’ husband, to the delicious recipes that are simple to make, yet add a little bit of spice with unique ingredients. Raw Food Art is a true reflection of its authors bright, warm personality.
Global Looking Glass recently had the pleasure ask Aleksandra Winters a few questions about her book.
What inspired your book?
Since a young child I had a great connection with nature because my grandparents in Poland were farmers and I used to spend a lot of time at the farm, playing with animals, harvesting fruits and veggies. Observing the seasons changing and being connected to nature. Since a young child I understood were the food came from and that made me stop eating meat.
How has your travels influenced the writing of your book?
I love traveling and anytime I have a chance to go on vacation I take it. I love to incorporate different spices, unusual flavors and ingredients into my food. My food is very eclectic but delicious, healthy and fun. In my cookbook Raw Food Art I have recipes inspired by my Polish heritage, trips to Morocco, Thailand, Japan, Jamaica, Jordan and other places.
What are some misconceptions about a vegan raw food diet?
1) Many people think that when we are eating vegan-plant based we don’t get enough protein. Actually all plants have proteins and the biggest animals on the planets like elephants, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, horses, gorillas, camels, bisons eat vegetarian/vegan diet. They all have huge muscles and thrive eating plants.
2) People think that eating raw diet is hard. I am actually eating mostly raw. About 80% -90% raw depending on the season. Sometimes I eat cooked beans, quinoa, sweet potatoes, vegetable soups etc… But mostly I eat raw organic fresh foods.Raw food diet will keep you young, feeling energized, your skin, hair and teeth will look great, and you may even loose few pounds.
3) And some people think that raw diet it’s like eating boring rabbit food. There are so many amazing recipes for raw vegan lifestyle. Possibilities are endless. Just explore ethnic grocery store for new spices, fruits, vegetables, flavors and you will see how rich the raw vegan/plant based lifestyle is. You can make smoothies, juices, salads, raw soups and desserts and dishes in the dehydrator like raw pizza, crackers, lasagna, cookies etc… There is so much to explore.
How has vegan food inspired you in your daily life?
I am very mindful with every dollar I spend. I try to choose local, organic food diet to help local farmers. I try eating seasonal, pure fresh, homegrown foods like fruits and vegetables. I like to know where my food comes from, meaning fair trade, certified organic, etc. I like to support artists, organic farmers, community. I care about the environment, animals. I donate money to animal charities, local animal shelters. I believe that what we put out comes back to us multiplied. I try to inspire my friends and family as well as my social media followers to adopt plant based lifestyle.
What does being vegan mean to you?
I stopped eating meat many years ago. First I was pasceterian, then vegetarian, then vegan and raw. I respect all living beings and through my art, blog Olenko’s Kitchen, cookbooks -next one coming later this year I try to inspire other to eat more fruits and vegetables. At the same time I want to came from a loving place and inspiring others not judging them and making them feel bad because they eat meat. Most of us were not born vegans or vegetarians and it’s all a procession change our eating habits. Everyone is on his/her own path. My food is very colorful, happy and inviting and that appears to many people. If I was going to show pictures of dead animals people wouldn’t even want to look at this. My idea of change, compassion and love is to be mindful of everyone’s feelings and respect others opinions and cultural backgrounds. It is my dream to have an animal sanctuary and farm to educate others about compassionate vegan life style. I spread love and compassion. I educate others about crucify free make up and skin care, natural cleaning products, gardening, how to shop and cook healthy vegan food.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Since I was a young child I loved art and nature. I started cooking when I was 5 years old. I have so many passions and interests. Sometimes I have to many ideas and not enough hours in a day. I have so many upcoming projects. Finding the time to accomplish everything is a challenge between teaching art, running my company Olenko’s Kitchen, writing books and traveling. I have big plans. I want to create art, teach, inspire others, help animals and the environment.
How did you go about selecting the recipes featured in your book?
The book took us two years to complete. It was a collaboration between myself the artist-intuitive chef, and my husband Bill Winters who is a cinematographer and photographer. We were taking pictures outside in the nature, with the four seasons. It was an organic process. I was really inspired by the seasons and beautiful nature around us. All the pictures were taken in NY, CT, NJ. Many times we went on daily trips to the beach, parks, and we picked beautiful locations to take photos. And let me tell you taking photos of food in the nature is fun but a challenge sometimes too. Like taking photos of raw desserts in a freezing, windy snowstorm, or trying to take pictures of the raw chocolate or ice cream on a hot summer day. Lots of stories.
Do you have a favorite ingredient that you like to use in cooking or beauty care?
I love to use all natural pigments from dry fruits, veggies or seaweed in my food. I love to use fresh herbs, edible flowers from my garden, local tasty fruits and veggies and essential Oils. The food must look good but tastes good too. Lol
Many times when I create raw food I make a mask for my hair or face like from avocado and aloe, favorite moisturizer coconut oil mixed with few drops of lavender and frankincense essential oils.
What is your vegan food guilty pleasure?
Raw chocolate or anything made with raw cacao powder, avocado chocolate mousse or anything with coconut flavor.
Serves about 10
3 cups carrots, chopped
1 cup walnuts
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
2 tablespoons raw buckwheat groats
1/3 cup dried, unsulphured mulberries
2 cups cashews (soaked in filtered water for 30–45 minutes)
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup raw coconut water
or filtered water
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (or more if you prefer a sweeter dessert)
When I think of spring, I think of bunnies and carrots. This recipe is all about celebrating love, light, springtime, and new beginnings.
Instructions: Soak 2 cups cashews for frosting before beginning the cake base. Set aside. Then, in a food processor, mix carrots, walnuts, dates, and cinnamon until well combined. Sprinkle buckwheat groats and mulberries into the bottom of a cake dish, and then layer about two-thirds of the carrot cake base on top and spread evenly. Set the rest of the mixture aside for the top and prepare frosting.
Drain cashews (after they have soaked), and then mix all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. Pour half of the mixture on top of the carrot cake base and press with a fork or spoon until smooth. Next, add another layer of carrot cake base, and then finish up with the top layer of cashew frosting. For a sweeter cake, sprinkle more dried mulberries between the layers. Allow cake to set in the freezer for about 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, sprinkle some shredded coconut on top, decorate with spring flowers, and enjoy.
Image Courtesy: Bill Winters