In this article, Joel Odhner shares tips for raw food travelers and making it ahead and spicing it up at home. Joel Odhner is a restaurant owner, chef, and raw food chef with clients from Delaware to New York.
Kevin: I want to go stay along the lines of busy people, busy people on the go. What are some of the tips for someone who is traveling a lot, what are some of the things that they can prepare to bring with them? What are some of the things they can prepare, say they are in a hotel room and they have nothing, what can you whip up right there that’ll be healthy?
Joel: Again, if we are talking about someone who’s really like completely raw a great traveling food is a cucumber, actually, believe it or not. It fits nicely in a carryon bag or even in your suitcase, if you know you’re going to be somewhere that doesn’t do well you can do that and actually roll these things up in collard greens. Like if you pre-made a couple of those burgers, like I said, the collard green is sort of hearty enough that it will last, within a day or so. It gets a little soggy after that. Then the other thing I would suggest just go down to the local restaurant and just ask them for — if you look on the menu you can see they probably have salad, they probably have peppers, they probably have different fruits and stuff. Just ask for it and just ask for the dressing on the side.
Joel: And the other option is to like if you’re really on the go a lot and you want to pack lightly is get some green powder that you can mix with your water and just do like a water fast for the day. But filling it with some good greens, green powder and that will give you the nourishment you need and in some ways if you have a really busy schedule, you will actually get more energy because your body doesn’t have to worry about trying to digest.
Kevin: Now you’re traveling a lot. You’re in the car a lot. What do you bring with you? What’s the raw food prep chef bring with him?
Joel: Well, it’s funny you say that, you know. My kids tease me because in my car it has a revolving kitchen. I have everything. I have a juicer, a food processor, a blender and everything else. But I usually will load up with some juices. I tend to not eat while I’m driving. I’d rather not eat because sitting for a couple hours doesn’t sit real well. So I tend to just either drink water or generally, green juices, fresh green juices, if possible. One of my perks or luxuries of working for some of these people is I get to make — they also are getting, I’m making them juices. So I will often be able to make my own while I’m at work as I go onto the next client. To give you an idea, today I was at three clients, so I did three people in one day. And you know what? At the first I made a couple juices and carried it with me for the next couple. Now luckily, they were close by, but to give people an idea I made enough food for three families to eat for three to five days.
Kevin: Wow, that’s a lot of food.
Joel: So, you know, it’s a fair amount of food and yet it’s not. Once you start, another key is a lot of people tend to maybe not think about it. If you haven’t ever sort of used a commercial one, get a knife, like a chef’s knife, a good chef’s knife, not one of those straight little paring knives that you have to chop forever. That’s one of the things, why people have to take such a long time is they don’t have the correct knives. So get yourself a good eight inch chef’s knife. The other thing, in fact, on the DVD is, which it’s you the owner’s manual and there I show you how to use a knife. So if you’re people who are new to this or not quite sure, there’s a little section on that. Then the other thing is to get bowls that are actually big enough to mix things in. A lot of times people try to use a bowl that barely fits a head of kale in it and they wonder why they are struggling and it’s spilling everywhere. Get yourself tools that will make it easy on yourself to make the larger batches because now that you, I would suggest that if you are going to make, rather than make one kale salad for tonight, you’re going to make five for the next few days.
Joel: So give yourself the right tools.
Kevin: Well, I’ll tell you, sometimes I use the wrong tools.
Kevin: I’ve got a small bowl and I have this just like steak knife that we’ve had for years and I cut and it does take more time because every time everything spills over and I can’t cut enough. But I can imagine it would probably cut a good five minutes off of what I’m doing because I’m a mess.
Joel: Yeah, and if you really think about it, five minute times, three or four different things you’re making, that’s almost close to half an hour by the time you’re all said and done. And that can also make or break somebody’s time in the morning to make things. But I would suggest if people are going to make larger batches pick like Sunday and Wednesday or something like that, whatever is a good day or night for you to do that and just prep it that way. But it really is key. Having the right tools does make a big difference. It’s kind of like trying to fix a car with a pair of pliers. Well, no, it doesn’t really work. You need a couple different things.
Kevin: Do you suggest two nights a week to do some of the big prep stuff and then kind of filling it in?
Joel: Yeah, absolutely. If you took two days a week about three days apart you should only make good fifty percent of kind of what you are going to eat, if not more. What I call, sort of like the bases, you could make a couple soups, most soups are kind of quick and easy, but you could make some burger bases, you could make some hummus, you could make some pate, you could sort of like the longer standing kale salad and then have those as your sort of mainstays and then, so you chop up a quick fresh salad or whip up some romaine, whatever or you could dice up some fruit or whatever you want on the fly. But don’t have to make everything each and every day. I think that’s one of the reasons people get so frustrated with it. It really is. If you’re coming from the cooked world, it’s the same idea. Like I said, going back to my burger example you think about it in the world, if you say ground beef, you either make a burger, you can make a meatloaf, chili, whatever it is. It’s all the same base. You’re just adding different flavors to it because, well, I noticed in some of the other questions, as well, I get really bored. Add flavors. Eating raw isn’t about necessarily plain and simple. You can add some garlic, you can add some good sea salt, you can add some, fun herbs. And that definitely changes it up.
Kevin: What are some of your favorites?
Joel: I, personally, happen to be a garlic fan. I like chipotle peppers are really great. They’re a great accent to a lot of the dishes. Certainly, coming up soon, you’ve got the spring and summer coming along, so fresh basil, fresh cilantro and the fresh herbs are just, I mean it really does make or break it. In the wintertime, there’s little comfort, you are using the dried herbs. That’s fine but, using fresh basil, even often something simple like tomato, basil, onion, olives or something. Just toss that up and just throw it in and it’s great. Just use foods that you like. You don’t have to go crazy. If you don’t like something then don’t eat it. Don’t eat the same thing over and over again. That’s the thing I oftentimes hear. Well, what am I going to eat? Well, how many different kinds of fruits and vegetables are there? Many.
Kevin: Yeah. What’s a trick to finding really good, fresh produce? In your profession, I imagine it’s important to have fresh produce. What are some of the tips that you found that can help?
Joel: There’s a couple different options. Certainly, if you can tap into a Farmer’s Market, that’s great. A lot of times they’re coming up with the CSA of the community. Gardens that people are involved in that a good thing to do. And if there’s not that available, oftentimes a health food store may carry produce already. If you go to them, especially if you can get another family or two that is eating the same as you are, then go and order like a half a case of something at a time. You’ll get a better price and you’ll certainly get it fresh. And sometimes you ought to go to places where they may knock 10-percent on for a hassle fee or something like that, but by the time you are buying it by the case, it’s better than buying it by the individual bunch or each.
Joel: Obviously, as a raw foodie, you are going to eat a larger number of fruits and vegetables. So it sort of pays off to get a case or a half-case of things. If you can split it with another family or two, then it really does make it a lot more economical. And for some of the real frugal people, there are some people who will go to the health food store and they’ll ask them for the fruits and vegetables that they can’t quite keep on their shelves, but they are really still great. They might have a little bruise or something on it, but they don’t want to sell them in their store, so you can also get a really great price on those. There are a lot of people who will do that and you can get some great stuff.