What is the secret ingredient to my delicious vegan food?

I was catering at a raw food retreat in the South of France this week and one of the guys there asked me, “I tried doing your recipes back home, but it just never seems to taste as good as you make them, what is your secret?”

I’m not writing this to brag about my cooking skills (I know I’m awesome without needing to brag haha!) but this is not the first time that someone has told me this. Even people who have been coming to my workshops for several years, who have my recipes and the same ingredients…yet they still order 100 mango wraps to be shipped abroad every few months just because they turn out “different”.

pouring salt into a raw vegan salad, seasoning, flavour

So I wanted to share my secrets with you today, in hopes to inspire you to perhaps take a new look at food preparation as a whole.

And so, the answer is… Xualean green salt from the depths of the Thalusian rainforest, that get harvested by the local people, but it’s near impossible to get there as the area is closed off from the world by deep water for 11 months of the year. I’m totally messing with you! How many of you actually Googled that? I’m in a silly mood…

Back to the actual secret(s):

Ingredients that give the most flavour, need to be organic/good quality

cutting fresh vegetables, vegan chef-min

I’m all for organic food, but there are times when you can’t access healthy shops for whatever reason. In those cases, have a look at your recipe, decide what will give the dish its main flavour, and try to at least buy those ingredients organic.

I once ran out of organic cashew nuts and had to quickly buy normal ones from a supermarket. It changed the whole flavour of the dish and I didn’t like it at all. I sometimes even go as far as travelling with my own ingredients if I know the country where I’ll be catering has poor options in terms of good quality food.

Here are some examples of what really makes a difference for me: cashews (the aftertaste is so different with each kind), spices, tomatoes (for making gazpacho or tomato sauces), sundried tomatoes (do you only have them in jars, dehydrated naturally or very salty?), cacao butter (I could never compromise on cacao butter, the flavour of my raw chocolate varies significantly depending on its ingredients) and cacao powder, just to name a few.

Protect the food

woman upset and tired cooking

For me, this is rule number 1 – never cook in a bad mood. Ok, so I put a “normal” tip first, but here’s where the real secrets begin. Too much woo-woo? I’ll let you decide for yourself…

Many of us know that water has the ability to change it’s structure depending on our emotions, words and actions. I won’t go deeply into Masaru Emoto’s research, but it’s really worth looking into when you have a moment.

Have a look at this experiment for example, or even try it yourself at home. Take 3 jars, fill them with rice and water and put them into different rooms. Every day, tell jar 1 “I love you”, out loud or in your mind, tell jar 2 “I hate you” and ignore jar 3. See what happens after a month.

Talk to your food and send it love

Ok, here she goes with the crazy stuff. Hey, you’re the one who wanted to know how I cook!

When I make food, I literally talk to it, either out loud or in my head. I send it love from my heart and I ask for it to be healthy, nutritious and delicious for everyone who eats it.

As I stir my raw chocolate I say “I love you” to it, so it gets soaked up with loving vibrations with every movement of the spatula. I also imagine a pink light flowing from my heart into the bowl.

When I have assistants or friends who help me make food, especially chocolate, I always tell them to talk to it and send it love. Funnily enough, even the most skeptical people actually do it! Then they get surprised at the amazing results.

I also give a lot more meditations as well as tons of recipes in my book here.

Play the right music to your food

pineapple listening to music

Going back to Masaru Emoto’s research (why haven’t you looked him up yet?), music has a great impact on our bodies, on our food, on our water and everything around us that is alive.

I often like to play nice music when I’m cooking. When I’m just making food food (I’m getting very technical here, hope you can follow along ) I usually put on something cheerful and fun and lighthearted (read: Disney!). When I’m making raw vegan chocolate, however, I typically put on mantras or mindful music of various sorts. Sometimes I even take out my singing bowls, but not very often as I’m usually busy with the chocolate bowls.

I believe that not only does it help to infuse the food with the right vibrations, but it also calms down the cook, and makes them less tense and less worried about the day’s events, which, in turn, makes the food taste good.

Avoid that time of the month

woman upset on the floor of a messy kitchen

I once heard a story that in the olden days women were not allowed to cook during their period. I don’t know how true that is or what country that was from, but it makes sense to me.

Now, of course this won’t be true for every woman out there, we’re all different, but for me I know my body too well to ignore it – I simply cannot cook on my period. Even my boyfriend noticed the correlation and laughs at me because the last 2 times I tried to cook at his house it happened at that time, and I made everything crazy salty and barely edible. I think my tastebuds change, similar to when I have the flu (I literally can’t taste ANYTHING when I have the flu).

Don’t follow the recipe

How to be a raw foodie book by Anya Andreeva, pad thai recipe
Click on the image to get my book with 121 raw vegan recipes!

This is one of the first things that I tell people during my raw food workshops and what I also wrote in my recipe book – never follow the recipe to the dot. Just let your intuition guide you and taste things as you go along.

Your ingredients will inevitably be somewhat different from time to time, so the recipe may need changing in order to accommodate for those changes. Also, you may feel inspired to create a new flavour, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

If you’re new to cooking – taste your food and go easy on the spices

peanut satay sauce raw vegan mango wraps

I teach people all over the world, many of whom are completely new to the kitchen, and I genuinely find it surprising how many people won’t try their food before placing it on the table.

A great example was the first curry that my boyfriend ever made me at my house. Being used to his spices, he put an entire teaspoon of chilli powder into the pan, along with about 4 tablespoons of hot curry powder and he didn’t even think to taste test it before serving. Now, I can handle spicy food, I can handle it VERY well… but damn, a spoonful of that set my face on fire!

So please guys, start off with a little bit of spices first and build up from there, and try your food as you go along.

Get playful in the kitchen

messy couple kissing in the kitchen having fun

Don’t take life or cooking too serious. Experiment and play with your food. If it turns out disgusting, laugh at it and move on. Don’t try to make it perfect and just enjoy the process of cooking.

Cook with your friend or your partner, get playful in the kitchen, make it an enjoyable experience, because food turns out best when you’re in a good mood.

So to summarise, the 2 most important ingredients in my food are love and joy! Our grandmas were right…

 Get Anya’s raw food book here.

 Interested in learning about raw food? Book a private workshop in London or worldwide via Skype.

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