Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Raw Vegan Rock and Roll: Jónsi and Alex's Recipe Book

A raw vegan diet is not the first thing you associate with a rock and roll lifestyle, but that’s the food eaten by Jónsi Thor Birgisson and Alex Somers.

Jónsi is the frontman with Icelandic band Sígur Rós. He has also released a solo album and records with his partner Alex. I have included a link to my Jónsi and Alex-related playlist on Spotify at the end of this post.

Jónsi and Alex have produced a booklet - Good Heart Recipe Book - with 15 of their favourite recipes and made it available for fans to download and printout for free from their website:

I was interested in exploring raw vegan food, so I have been preparing some of their recipes to get a feel for this style of food preparation.

Gôđan daginn Super Smoothie
I saw the word smoothie and immediately reached for the milk in the fridge. It was then that I realised these recipes were going to require a slightly different way of thinking on my part. In addition to the lack of dairy, another distinctive feature of this recipe is the mix of green leaves with fruit. It calls for a banana, an apple, handfuls of green leaves (e.g., spinach, parsley, kale), frozen berries and cold water. They have this for breakfast and vary it every morning with different fruit and greens.

I made mine with banana, apple, spinach and frozen blackcurrants (grown in the garden last year). I had some in the morning, but preferred it in the afternoon after it had been in the fridge for a few hours.

Being serious vegan smoothie-makers, Jónsi and Alex suggest imaginative optional extras, which include goji berries, spirulina, blue green algae, hemp seed oil, maca powder, crystal manna, and young coconut. Maca is the dried root of a plant grown in Peru and crystal manna is a preparation of freshwater algae (I looked them up so you don’t have to!). Their smoothie shares a name with a track on the most recent Sígur Rós studio album.

It’s already clear that a good blender/juicer is an essential piece of kit for this type of diet. With no cooking involved, the blender is the tool doing most of the work for you.

The second and third recipes in the booklet are for Thai Coconut Curry and Noodle Rainbow Miso Soup. Both look tasty and colourful. The noodles in question are not real noodles, but noodle-thin slices of cucumber, bell pepper and other vegetables. Pasta is off the menu as it needs cooking.

A Classic Green Soup is based on juiced carrots, while a Sweet Garlic Dressing blends together dates, garlic, parsley, cider vinegar and seasoning.

Raw vegan is colourful food. There is no cooking to leach out or degrade the colour pigments in the food. The dishes are a picture (and are artfully pictured in the booklet; Alex does the art work for Sígur Rós and related projects).

Pistachio Pate
I like pistachio nuts, so no surprise I liked this one. The recipe calls for 125g Pistachio nuts, a clove of garlic, the juice of 1/3 lemon, a handful of parsley, some olive oil, salt, and water to thin. Everything is blended together until creamy.

I used a 200g bag of roasted Pistachios in their shells (when shelled this leaves 105g of nuts). I didn’t skimp on the lemon or parsley. It made for a good lunch, with crispy (unbuttered) toast, tomatoes and grapes.

Creamy Spinach Dip involves blending together tahini paste, dates, garlic, lime juice, spinach and other ingredients. Green Pine Pesto is a traditional mix of basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil.

Avō Mango Mash
This seems a very simple recipe: just cube a mango and an avocado and mix them together (with a bit of salt and pepper). However, to get it right you seem to need fruit of equal size and equivalent ripeness. My avocado was smaller and riper than my mango (it would be best if both were very ripe). Nice idea this, the mango supplies the sweetness and the dominant taste, while the avocado supplies the creaminess and enhanced mouthfeel. I saved some of this for later, returning the avocado stone and adding lemon juice to the bowl to keep the avocado colourful. Good, but I think I prefer my avocado and mango served separately.

Macadamia Monster Mash
Like the Pistachio Pate, but with Macadamia nuts, which I have not bought for years. I must buy them more often.

Sundried Good Heart Sauce mixes fresh and sundried tomatoes with dates and herbs.

Indian Sagg-Acado
The recipe calls for a blenderful of spinach, avocado, tomato, cardamom seed, garlic, ginger, and tandoori masala and garam masala powder; with diced apple, tomato and red onion ontop. Using the spices to hand, I substituted cumin, coriander and medium curry powder. This was the most popular recipe I have done to date from the booklet. It’s a bit like an Indian guacamole.

The dessert section contains recipes for The Best Chocolate Milk (without milk), Strawberry Milkshake (ditto), Strawberry Pie, Arkansas Apple Pie and Chocolate Walnut Fudge. Nothing is baked, of course, while the fat used is almond butter and coconut oil. Agave and agave nectar also feature.  The apple pie, with its crust made of coconut, pecans, dates, cinnamon, almond butter and salt, looks particularly appealing. I have bookmarked it for later.

I have been having fun with these recipes, but I also have a hungry family to feed. They are demanding their roast beef (well, pasta actually); the eldest described raw vegan as “a diet made up of dips” as she reached for the bacon and eggs. Therefore, I think I have gone as far as I can with this at the moment, but may return with another post at a later date. The authors “encourage improvisation and experimentation” and I have a feeling there is a Welsh twist to be put on some of these dishes!

In the meantime, here is a link to my Jónsi and Alex/ Jónsi/ Sígur Rós playlist on Spotify, comprising two hours from the dreamier and more ambient side of their music:

1 comment:

  1. In an interview published on 7 May 2012 Jonsi said he had given up his strict raw vegan diet because he got bored of blending vegetables in hotel rooms during tours, and not being able to go out to eat!'We%20always%20knew%20we'd%20get%20back%20together&apos