I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ready For Some Pizzazz?

I know, I know! I said that my next post was gonna be about Fairygirl-Raw Goddess Heathy, but that was BEFORE I decided to make some new pizza crusts. I was so stoked with my latest uncooking spree I thought surely it was worth a slight delay in order for me to share the outcomes with you (before they cool off and all!)

Pizza Rap
SAD pizza... What can I say? I pretty much lived on the stuff when I was a student. What with the '99 cents a piece' joints at every corner and needing to eat something on the go, it seemed like the obvious thing to do at the time. (Ignorance is Bliss!) Rings a bell? Being sensitive to wheat and dairy, this was some of the worst foods I could possibly put into my body, and when you add meat and cooked oil on top of that...

As I progressed towards a healthier lifestyle, I found myself less and less drawn towards junk food. (A natural side effect of taking better care of myself. Hallelujah!) The last few years, whenever we'd feel the urge for pizza, we'd prepare our own, using thin spelt wraps or Ezekiel tortillas as crusts that we'd load up with pesto or tomato sauce and veggies. We'd then pop these in the oven for 10 mins or so, add a little organic cheddar or perhaps some goat cheese, and put it back in the turned off oven, just long enough to let the cheese melt a little. It's what we call 'Damage Control.'

Enters Raw Pizza
Like most people, we never dreamed of having raw pizza. Before discovering the dehydrator a few months ago, pizza was just one of those things we had to leave behind. Boy! Were we ever wrong! It was the first gourmet meal I made in the dehydrator and we were amazed at the result.

For me, raw pizza has it all! It can be whipped up in no time (provided you keep a stock of dehydrated crusts in your freezer), and you can let your imagination go totally wild. Best of all, you don't have to 'pay the price' for such a tasty treat!

As I'm writing this, someone started a thread about raw pizza on Raw Food Talk AND Diana Stoevelaar was informing me in an email of an upcoming uncooking class on 'Pizza in the Raw'. Do I smell Raw Pizza in the air? Woo-hoo! Let's Have a Pizza Party!

The Quest for the Perfect Pizza Crust
The first pizza crust I ever made was Alissa Cohen's 'Easy Crust 1'. While it was okay, I wasn't utterly thrilled. I later came upon the 'genius' idea of using her Calzone dough as crust. Yum! That sort of sealed it for me... at least, until a few days ago when I decided it was time to get out of my pizza rhut. (Get it?) Granted, dehydrated grated zucchini rounds or slices of eggplant make wonderful, light pizza crusts, but I wanted something a little more bread-like.

What better place to start my research than with Alissa's "Living on Live Food" (which I've nicknamed 'The Brick' and with good reasons! I mean, the thing is humongous and weights about a ton...) I was sure to find at least SOMETHING in there pointing in the general direction, and I was right!

But before I get into this, I thought maybe you and I should sit down and have a little chat!

Time for the 'T' Talk
The subject of dehydrating temperatures is a hot (pun intended!) and controversial topic among the Raw Food community (not to mention confusing too!) After all, it is the critical issue which distinguishes 'living' foods from 'enzyme-dead' foods. But where exactly do you draw the line?

It isn't my intention to get into a big intellectual debate about temp. I simply want to let you know where I'm coming from so we're all on the same page here. Alright?

It seems to be the common consensus among raw foodists that in order for enzymes to remain intact, food must not be exposed to temperatures over 118 degrees F over a long period of time.

What Gabriel Cousens and other raw chefs have determined after lots and lots of tests with all sorts of fancy thermometers is that, depending on the water content and thickness of the food, it can take up to 3 hours to reach the desired internal temperature.

Here's an extract from Excalibur's article "Concerned about Enzymes and the Excalibur Thermostat Control" outlining the three aspects that are most critical to understand when it comes to dehydration temperatures:

"FIRST, understanding the difference between air temperature and food temperature, and how the evaporation process keeps food temp cooler than air temperature.

SECOND, understanding how the thermostat works by causing the air temperature to fluctuate up and down.

THIRD, understanding at which point in the dehydration process that the enzymes are most susceptible to destruction by heat, which is while the food is in its wet state. After the food is dehydrated the enzymes can withstand much higher temperatures."

Let's just take a quick look at the first one for now, Food Temperature vs. Air Temperature:
The temperature reading on the (Excalibur) dial refers to FOOD temperature.

In general, food temperature is about 20 degrees cooler that air temperature. Therefore if you set your Excalibur at 105ºF you are setting it to hold the food temperature at around 105ºF, the air temperature may get as high as 125ºF depending upon the moisture content of the food. The reason the food temperature is cooler is because of evaporation. As the moisture on the surface of the food evaporates, it cools the food keeping it about 20ºF cooler than the air temperature. We have discovered this through hours of testing by measuring the air temperature and food temperature simultaneously during the dehydration process using a Doric Trendicator with type j thermal couples.
I'll let you find out for yourself all the juicy details explaining points 2 and 3 on the Excalibur website.

Recent research by the Excalibur Company suggests that "enzymes can actually withstand food temperatures into the 140's." This explains why you sometimes come across recipes suggesting to start dehydrating at much higher temps for a few hours before turning the dial back down. The reasoning behind this is two-fold: not only will this help avoid fermentation, it will also reduce the amount of time your food is in the dehydrator. As Cousens puts it in his book "Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine": "The longer that a food is in the dehydrator, the more potential exists for the enzymes to be destroyed, even at lower temperatures."

However, it is understood that this technique can be safely used ONLY with the Excalibur dehydrators. Why? Because the Excalibur models have what is known as the 'Parallexx Drying System' which has been specifically designed to optimize dehydration and reduce the risk of mold and bacterial growth. In the afore-mentioned article about enzymes and temperature, Excalibur explains how they are able to achieve this and gives other neat info such as how 105 degrees has come to be the most cited temp for dehydration. You can check out the article here.

The bottom line is: you have to experiment and see for yourself what dehydration temperatures work best and feel right for you. Personally, I like to start off at 115-125 degrees, again, depending on thickness and water content, and then turn the dial down to 105-110 for the remainder of the time. If you would like to know exactly what is the internal temperature of the food or when the desired temp is reached, I recommend you use a Pyrex digital thermometer with remote probe and alarm.

For more info about dehydration temperatures, I recommend you do a search on the ever resource-full Raw Food Talk archives. You can also check out the following threads:

Phfew! Enough said about all that! (And to think I intended for this to be a little 'By The Way' sideline...) In fact, I'm glad this is out of the way, we can now get back to the fun part! he he

Okay. I've kept the suspense long enough. Time to reveal my findings about pizza crusts...

Pizza Bread (or The Ultimate Pizza Wrap!)
I'd have to agree with Alissa here; she's got a winner! Her pizza bread (LOLF p. 352 ) is totally awesome, easy to prepare and absolutely delish! In fact, I couldn't stop eating the batter as I was forming it into crusts.

I also had some extra sprouted barley so it got me a-thinking... Another quick look at Alissa's book and I came up with a variation of her 'Easiest Crust 2'. Here's what I did:

Barley Pizza Crust
2 Cups Sprouted Barley
1 1/4 Cup ground Flax Seeds
1/2 Cup Leek (Onion would work too)
2 Celery Stalks
1 Carrot
1 Large Tomato
2 Large Cloves of Garlic
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Water

I mixed the ingredients in the food processor and spread the batter in small circles on teflex sheets. (If you prefer, you could make a couple of large pizza crusts instead.) I dehydrated at 115 for a couple of hours, turned the crusts onto the mesh, then dehydrated at 105 for another 6 hours or so. Yummo!

Carmella's Notes:
Alissa suggests that you soak the barley (unhulled as pearled barley won't sprout!) for 6 hours, then let it sprout for a day or so, rinsing often, until the tail is just starting to peek out. For more info on how to sprout barley, go to this site.

For a delicious variation, you can also substitute barley for sprouted buckwheat.

Jazz Up your Pizz
Now that we've got our crusts all ready, then we can really let it rip! There's just so many delicious possible combinations! Here's some topping ideas for starters:
  • pesto
  • tomato sauce
  • nut or seed cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, nacho, you name it!)
  • sundried tomatoes
  • sundried olives
  • mushrooms (plain or marinated)
  • fresh tomato slices
  • your favorite veggies (spinach, red or yellow peppers, broccoli florets, zucchini), plain or marinated
  • onion (rings or pieces)
  • crushed garlic
  • crumbled nut balls or burgers
  • chopped pineapple
  • avocado slices
  • fresh herbs
You can then pop your pizz-art in the dehydrator for a few hours...or not! It's entirely up to you! The result will almost certainly be fantastic either way!

Here's our latest creation: Cashew and Macs Mozzarella Cheese, Tomato Sauce, Sundried Olives and Red Peppers on Pizza Bread. After dehydrating for a couple of hours and just before serving, we added chunks of avocado and pineapple. Yummy!

Oh, and you might also want to check out this thread on RFT. Awesome, awesome photos and one of the best pizza crusts I've ever tried too!

Welcome. To. The. Calzone Zone
Alright! Alright! That one is pretty kitsch but I just couldn't help myself!

So you may think we're getting off topic here, but we're really not. After all, a calzone is little more than an inverted pizza... I've been reading about how awesome Alissa Cohen's recipe is on Raw Food Talk for months now. I've used the dough countless times as pizza crusts and even made the calzone as a pizza, but never had the guts to attempt the 'real thing'. Well, until yesterday that is...

In spite of what it looks like, it's a quite simple recipe, the only tricky part is the assembly. I made sure to do my homework and read what the others had to say on the Forum, and all in all, it went pretty smooth. One of the things I did was cut the recipe in half, as it is notorious for making 2 huge calzones (read tons of eating material!) It also seems to have a short shelf life. (I recently found out that it does freeze well, however, so next time, I'll make sure to do the whole recipe!)

I shaped the crust into 2 half circles and let these dehydrate for a couple of hours at 115.

I then peeled the teflex sheets off the dough and put it back for another hour and a half at 105. Now, when I checked again, the crusts were a little too dry. (Remember that once you spread the various fillings, you'll need to pinch the bottom and top parts together.) So I sprayed some water on the edges of the crusts and let it seep through for a few minutes. NOW you're talking! The dough wasn't exactly what you'd call pliable but at least it wouldn't break while I did the deed.

After that, it went like a dream... I brushed the top with a little olive oil and voila! I left the whole thing in the D overnight, again, starting off at a slightly higher temp for the first couple of hours and turning it down to 105.
Here is our baby freshly out of the incubator...

From Alissa Cohen’s "Living on Live Food"

Of all my recipes in the book, I admit to being proudest of this one. Not only does this look like the real Italian thing ... it tastes like it, too! After making this for friends, I was dubbed "The Raw Queen".

This is a combination of three recipes: Burger Buns (doubled and altered a bit), Spinach Dip, and Mozzarella Cheese.

4 Cups Sprouted Buckwheat
1 1/2 Cups Soaked Flax Seeds
3/4 Cup Olive Oil (I used more like 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 Cups Carrots
2 Cloves Garlic
1 teaspoons Curry
1 teaspoons Rosemary
1 teaspoons Thyme
2 teaspoons Sea Salt

Mozzarella Cheese
1 Cup Macadamia Nuts
1 Cup Cashews
2 Tbs Tamari
1 1/2 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Water

Spinach Dip
4 Cups Spinach
1 Large Avocado or 1 1/2 small Avocados
1/2 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoons Herbamare Seasoning Salt
(I added a little water as the dip was too thick to my liking...)

Marinated Veggies
1 Cup Broccoli, diced
1 Cup Mushrooms, diced
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Dash Sea Salt

For the Dough:
Grind the carrots in food processor. Add in rest of ingredients and blend well until reach dough-like consistency.

On teflex sheet, form half the dough into a half circle about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. Repeat on second teflex sheet with remainder of the dough.

Dehydrate at 105 for 3 to 4 hours; then turn over and dehydrate for another 1 to 2 hours. (You don't want it too dry though!)

For the Cheese:
In a food processor, blend all of the mozzarella cheese ingredients together until its completely smooth.

For the Spinach Dip:
In a food processor again, blend all of the ingredients for the spinach dip together until smooth.

Marinated Veggies:
Marinate the broccoli and mushrooms in the olive oli and sea salt for about 20 minutes or until the dough is done in a few hours.

Now let's assemble the Calzone:

1. Remove one sheet of crust (the dehydrated dough) from the dehydrator and spread the entire mixture of Mozzarella Cheese on top of the crust.

2. Place the spinach dip on top of the mozzarella cheese that is now on top of the crust. (These layers will be thick!)

3. Drain the marinated veggies and place these on top of the spinach dip.

4. Remove the other "half" of the crust from the dehydrator. With a very large spatula and with your hands flip the crust onto the top of the "loaded" crust.

5. You will have to push this down a bit and may have fillings seeping out. That is okay.

6. With your fingers, go around the sides of the calzone and pinch together the crust. You may have to wipe away any filling that is leaking out as you pinch. Just be sure to close the sides well.

7. Dehydrate your assembled calzone at 105 degrees for 14 to 18 hours.

This will stay in the refrigerator for a day or two but is really great warm, straight out of the dehydrator.

Notes: If you see the crust breaking of splitting, try to repair that before it goes back into the dehydrator by using your fingers and a bit of water to smooth it out. You will have to remove a few sheets to fit the assembled calzone into the dehydrator. You can re-warm your calzone by putting it back into the dehydrator for an hour or two before serving.

Carmella's note: For a quicker, less involved version, you can make the calzone recipe into sandwiches or pizza.


Mmmmmmmmmm! What took us so long? It was sooooooo good it goes beyond words! Well worth the effort!

Now the question is: Are YOU ready for some Pizzazz?

Sunny Raw Tip
Whenever possible, I like to 'cut down' the size of whatever it is that I'm dehydrating. For instance, instead of making loaves of bread, I'll layer the batter, say 1/4" thick, and then score into 'slices'. Along the same line of reasoning, I'll form patties or burgers rather than nutloaves, or cookies instead of cakes. For me, it just makes a lot of sense. By doing so, I dramatically reduce the dehydration time as well as the risks of fermentation. Plus, they can be frozen in individual portions.

PS I'm highly aware that you all at Raw Food Talk have been anxiously waiting for that feature post, but not to worry, it really IS on its way! (Yah, Yah...Promises, Promises!)


  1. Wow! Thankyou so much for sharing all of that with us :) I eagerly await each 'issue' of The Sunny Raw Kitchen! I was wondering what can be subbed for buckwheat? I've never heard of that before and wouldn't know where to begin to find it either!

  2. One of the many things I love about raw foods is the color. You just don't see that in cooked food. Thanks for sharing! :-) I love your blog.

  3. Hey gals,

    So glad you're enjoying my blog!

    Hummm, about the buckwheat, not sure what you could sub it with as it has a really unique consistency. It's available in most HFS in the grains section. Just ask...

  4. Carmella ~please will you make me a calzone and mail it to me? i am tired of uncooking atm.... i would also like an order of the indian meal you made and some pizza please. That ought to last a while....

  5. oh my goodness--looks so good! i just bought a dehydrator and can't wait to try this!

  6. Wow, this looks really good. I wonder if I can use the oven, in place of the dehydrator, but set it at the lowest temperature.


  7. Brandon,
    An oven isn't ideal but it could do. Just turn it on until the light goes on and leave the door open to avoid it "overheating".


  8. Brandon,
    An oven isn't ideal but it could do. Just turn it on until the light goes on and leave the door open to avoid it "overheating".


  9. This all looks terrific! Wondering what you suggest to replace flax seeds? My husband has been advised by his Naturpathic Doctor not to eat them in order to maintain better prostate health. Sorry if that was TMI! Thanks!

  10. I'm sure you could use chia seeds instead. Plus, they are such a powerhouse of nutrition!


  11. What's wrong with fermentation? Fermented foods are great for you!

  12. I know that this is an old post but I just found your blog and came across it! The calzone - this crusts looks amazing. I was thinking about using just the crust as the crusts for some mini pizzas? How long do you think dehydrator time would it take for the crust to be done perfectly for pizzas? Thanks!!

    - Bethany

  13. Hi Bethany,

    Absolutely, this would make great pizza crusts!

    As far as dehydration time, it depends on a number of factors, such as how thick are your crusts, what temperature you use, the weather and your type of dehydrator.

    I personally like to start the dehydration at 120 for 2 hours or so, until they are ready to be flipped onto the mesh. I then turn the dial down to 110 and leave them until completely dry to the touch yet a little soft on the inside (you don't want them crispy like crackers.)

    Hope this helps!