“I love to synthesize the best tips, techniques and recipe concepts from both the ancient natural and modern scientific worlds for practical, everyday use.” –Jeannette Bessinger
Ms. Jeannette Bessinger, mother of Jesse Bessinger ’12, “discovered the power of clean food – food that is intact, fresh, seasonal and grown in natural ways” when she needed to take better care of her health. “Eating clean” made a huge difference in making her strong and fit, with more energy than ever. As a result, she has written or co-written 8 cookbooks on different aspects of healthy eating and travels all over to teach classes on nutrition, cooking, food preparation, recipes and the latest trends in the industry. For the Culinary Club, Ms. Bessinger focused on turning vegetables into dishes without cooking them, surprising the students with delicious preparations of raw zucchini, tomato sauce, and soup. If you would like to see all that The Clean Food Coach has to offer, click on the link below:
The Clean Coach who came to speak to us not too long ago opened me up to a previously invisible culinary world. Raw vegetables aren’t known for tasting like pasta, but apparently anything is possible if you’re creative enough. The raw dishes that we were introduced to tasted great, and afterwards were guilt-free. They produced a clean feeling through the whole body, and I’m sure that if I ate like that more often I would feel energized and healthy throughout the entire day. Using plenty of raw vegetables in every meal is a challenge, but definitely well worth it.
Normally exotic means foreign, or oriental. But the exotic-ness of Ms.Bessinger’s curry salad surpasses the power of its oriental ingredients. It enlightens your taste buds until you finally admit that “wow, we can actually mix curry powder and soy sauce together”. The thick, milky texture of almond butter counteracts cilantros’ spiciness: I grew up under the influence of cilantro, but I don’t remember it tasting so tamed and sweet. In a word, the sensation of the salad is similar to the excitement a chemist feels when he or she discovers a new element. — Yanqi Zhang
I had been refusing to eat carrots since kindergarten, when a bowl of thick and red soup took away my appetite. I said no to any form of carrots, even though my mom kept telling me that they contain vitamins and they are the best things in the whole universe.
But to my surprise, I found everything Mrs. Bessinger made delicious. Different kinds of raw vegetables gave the coconut soup a fresh and sweet taste, making me forget that a large proportion of this soup was CARROT. It did not taste like raw-cooked at all.
The other recipe that made me excited was the Zoodles. My grandparents and I went to a restaurant during the Christmas break and found their Zoodles amazingly healthy and tasty. But the chef would not tell us how to make it. The sauce was meaty and good-looking. I could not tell much difference between this vegetable sauce and real marinara sauce. The Clean Food Coach’s zoodles were exactly what I always wanted to cook. Because I think that it is a much healthier substitution of pasta, which contains too many calories. I will definitely try to cook it for my grandparents. (This one contains more carrots!!)
The vegetables in all the dishes tasted much better than eating them separately, Mrs. Bessinger made 1+1 > 2. I was happy to find out that raw vegetable dishes can be so amazing. And the best impact of this lecture on me was that I might start to eat carrots again.–Christine Gu ’16
The Veg Edge: Raw Recipes
Quick Curried Raw Noodles
- 3 tablespoons raw almond butter
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium, gluten-free tamari
- 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) high quality curry powder
- 3 medium organic summer squash (use a mix of zucchini and yellow squash for color–ultra-fresh is best)
- 1⁄4 cup unsweetened shaved coconut
- 1/3 cup raisins (or 2 tablespoons dried currants)
- 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantroCombine the almond butter, tamari and curry powder in a large bowl and whisk until well mixed. Set aside.
Trim the ends off of the squash. Using a mandoline or a sharp vegetable peeler, slice the squash lengthwise into long, thin strips. It’s easiest to work inward from 4 sides making a square. Peel and use the entire squash from skin through to seeds. If using a peeler, slice directly into the bowl, or transfer slices into the bowl from the mandoline. Gently toss the squash with the dressing until well coated.Add the coconut, raisins and cilantro and fold in until evenly distributed. Serve at room temperature or chill in the fridge for up to 48 hours.Yield: 4 servings
- Basic Nut Milk – soup base
- 1 cup soaked nuts (almonds soaked 4-8 hours, cashews soaked 2-4 hours, or Brazil nuts, no soaking required – just rinse)
- 3 cups pure water
- 1 tablespoon raw, extra-virgin coconut oil, optional
- 1-2 pitted dates or few drops liquid stevia, optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- 1 teaspoon sunflower lecithin, optional
- Pinch salt, optionalSoak nuts as directed, then drain and rinse well.
Combine soaked nuts and water in a high speed blender and blend for about 1 minute or until very smooth.
Use as is, or strain through a nut milk bag and return milk to the blender. Keep nut pulp for another use or discard.
Add oil, sweetener, vanilla, lecithin and salt, if using, to the milk and blend briefly to incorporate.
Milk will keep for 2-3 days covered in the fridge.
Caribbean Coconut Soup
- 11⁄2 cups coconut milk (use 1 cup shredded coconut to 2 cups water for lighter than canned with better coconut flavor)1/3 cup carrot juice (or 1 cup shredded carrots)
- Juice of 1 large lime
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon each chopped green onion, cilantro and parsley
- 1-2 medium heirloom tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- Few fresh sprouts, optional, for garnishCombine the coconut milk, carrot juice, lime juice, avocado, salt and cayenne in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Add the herbs and blend in briefly.
Add the tomatoes and blend briefly, leaving some chunkiness.Serve garnished with sprouts, if desired. Yield: about 1 quartFred’s Raw Marinara “Spaghetti”
- 1-4 large raw zucchinis + olive oil, salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped and seeded heirloom tomatoes (about 2 medium)
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomato strips in oil, drained (or dried, soaked, drained)
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1⁄2 large pepper)
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion or 1 large shallot
- 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1⁄2 -3/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch red pepper flakes or cayenne, optional
- 1 T olive oilSpiralize or grate the zucchini. Drizzle a very small amount of olive oil over “zoodles”, season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside in a colander to drain.
Combine all ingredients from tomatoes through olive oil in the Vitamix and blend until smooth.Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Spoon sauce over prepared zoodle spaghetti to serve.Yield: about 11⁄2 cups