Raw food chef spreads vegan gospel in new cookbook


Every week, Flanders Today surveys the world of local cuisine to fill you in on the best recipes, culinary events and special eateries. This week: raw food

Julie Natuurlijk

If you’re into raw food, you probably know Julie Van den Kerchove from her popular food blog Julieslifestyle.com. Her love story with raw food goes back a long time.

The young chef from Zomergem, East Flanders, became a vegetarian as a teen and eventually enrolled in a training course to become a raw food chef at the Living Light Culinary Institute in California. It wasn’t because she was eager to join in on the raw food trend, but because she was convinced a plant-based diet could cure her constant fatigue.

The raw and vegan lifestyle did end up making Van den Kerchove (pictured) feel better and more comfortable in her own skin. That’s why, together with her partner Simon, she started a blog to share recipe ideas. And now, she has published her first cookbook Julie Natuurlijk (Julie Naturally), where she gets creative with fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and herbs.

The rule around raw food is that it shouldn’t be heated above 50 degrees celsius to ensure that all the vitamins, mineral and natural flavours are preserved. But Van den Kerchove decided to include a number of recipes for bread, pancakes and sweet potatoes as well, to ease us all into the idea.

World Vegan Day

A sample of the recipes in the book: banana bread with hazelnut chocolate spread, watermelon lemonade, oriental carrot and curry salad, sweet potato falafel wraps, walnut balls in tomato sauce and vegan cheesecake.

Know that the switch from an average diet to a vegan one can sometimes be challenging. Your body and digestive system will need some time to adapt to the new regime. Rookie raw foodies tend to undereat and, as a result, lose a lot of weight in the first weeks.

Both in the book and on her blog, Van den Kerchove shares her experiences and offers tips to ease the transition. And if you’re waiting for the right moment to give vegan food a go, circle 1 November in your agenda, which is World Vegan Day Belgium, organised by BE Vegan.

And if all this isn’t enough to convince you to say your farewell to meat and dairy products, Van den Kerchove has got a few more tricks up her sleeve. She and Simon are starting workshops on preparing vegan meals. They’ve also launched their own line of vegan foods, which includes products like granola, biscuits and crackers. You can buy the products online or at selected stores.

Julie Natuurlijk is published in Dutch (for the English version, see Van den Kerchove’s blog)