Mill Valley’s Diana Stobo makes it easy to love your birthday suit
Photo by Gregg Marks
We’ve all heard it: the best diet is, raw, raw, raw! A raw diet will reportedly make us healthier and (equally important) more beautiful. Sounds good, until lunchtime when that burger beckons. Mill Valley’s Diana Stobo, however, has created an easy way to integrate this uncooked cuisine into our lives.
It wasn’t until Stobo, who had a background in food science and catering, tipped the scales at 250 pounds as a mother of twin toddlers that she chose to look at food differently. After nearly 15 years of studying the nutritional value of various foods, she discovered what she describes as the “magical world of raw/live food” and hasn’t looked back. Stobo offers demos and cooking classes (see the schedule on her website, dianastobo.com) and has written a recipe book called Get Naked Fast! A Guide to Stripping Away the Foods That Weigh You Down (Bree Noa Publishing, 2010).
What convinced you to begin helping people make dietary changes? My struggles with food and health led me to be a teacher for those who weren’t as in touch with their physical bodies. My girlfriends always refer to me as a “transformational coach,” because anybody I befriend seems to make drastic changes that lead them toward better health, greater beauty and an overall happier life.
Do you have an office? No. I present at various events and venues—the Tyler Florence Shop, Bay Club Marin, Whole Foods Markets, Good Earth Natural Foods and Lululemon, to name a few. But my office is my kitchen, where I play and discover easy ways to make healthy foods that meet the standards of a discerning palate. For me, to sauté, steam, braise or barbecue, all (done) with the love of butters, creams, and oils, is (still) easy and (the results) delicious. But to (come up with) a healthier version of the most delicious thing you have ever had takes a bit more creativity. I am constantly striving for that. I am constantly in the process of developing recipes for my upcoming books. So many ideas, so little time!
Get Naked Fast—great title. What was the inspiration? Naked is a term I use instead of raw, because raw can be scary and limiting. Say the word vegan and watch people cringe. Talk “naked” and eyes widen with curiosity. I created “naked nourishment”—delicious foods that have none of the ingredients that can cause you bodily harm.
This book started as a 14-page pamphlet to give out at my presentations for those who wanted to get started right away. That is why there is a grocery list and pantry makeover in the book. Another of my books, still in progress, is My Body Naked, based on my experiences in life, my transformation and the psychology behind food and love, (which) added to the double meaning of “naked.” I found myself in my writing referring to the ideal of feeling comfortable with “my body naked.” This notion rung in my ears over and over again; isn’t that what everybody wants to feel?
Are you working on yet another book? My next book is going to (involve) pairing with the makers of Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss nondairy ice cream (made with coconut milk and agave) to create delicious “healthy” milk shakes that can be eaten like a meal. This is great for people who would rather have dessert above all foods. It will be called “Naked Bliss, Naughty and Nutritious, Just How We Like It!”—or something like that.
Should we really opt for the raw almond instead of the roasted one? Why? Absolutely. Always eat your nuts raw! Imagine a raw nut planted in the ground: with moisture, it begins to sprout and grow and turn into a beautiful blossoming tree. Now imagine a roasted nut planted in the ground. Water it all you want, there is no life; it is but a buried corpse. If we truly are what we eat, then placing live food into our bodies will regenerate and enliven us.
What are some easy “raw” options people can incorporate into their lives? It’s funny you ask that, because “raw” is uncooked and unprocessed food, (and) what could be easier than grabbing fresh fruit or greens? The most important thing I can tell anyone, at any time, is “have a green juice.” We are so conditioned to think our food should be complicated, so we have turned to complicated foods made quick and easy, called “fast food,” and there is absolutely no nutritional value in that.
At stores like Whole Foods, the label on the sushi says “raw,” but the rice is cooked. Is rice okay in a raw food diet? On a “naked” diet it is. On a raw/vegan diet, it is not. But let’s look at that lovely and delicious sushi roll for a moment. Nori is a highly nutritious sea vegetable, but most nori is toasted, so it no longer carries the same nutrients as sun-dried nori (available in markets). The white rice is high in gluten and is basically a mini carb-bomb that could create a glue-like reaction in your digestion. And do we really know the origins of the “raw” fish, where it came from? Raw fish is known for its high parasite level. I‘m not saying don’t eat it; I’m just saying be aware of what you’re eating. Only then will we be able to create balance in our lives.
You say a raw food diet is alkalizing. Why is this good? Alkalizing our body is good because disease cannot grow in an alkaline environment. Our bodies are naturally striving for health every day, and if we aid it by placing highly alkalizing foods in our system to counterbalance the highly acidic lifestyles we have created, we are again creating balance. Alkalizing the body promotes healing, reducing pain, disease and discomfort. Raw/live foods enable pure health and beauty on a cellular level, naturally reducing excess weight and turning back the hands of time. A pH-balanced body is a happy one!
What percentage of your diet is raw? I have played with so many degrees of living raw and find that I am most content at the 80 percent stage. It is very easy to live 100 percent raw in the summer, but during the colder months, soups and warm grains make me happy.
What would you suggest for someone who can’t give up the pasta and steak—would a 50-50 diet still help? Or does the pasta and steak negate any good done with a raw diet? I love this question, because it is real. Yes, absolutely, if you love your pasta and steak, eat it, love it and it will love you right back. Any form of live food you place in your body will do your body good. Try eating “raw” until dinner time. Eventually, you will find that the pasta and steak, while still tasting good, doesn’t feel so good. Your body will let you know what it wants.
Raw Marinated Mushroom Steaks with Rosemary Mashed Cauliflower
This is a true raw meal, and the mashed cauliflower is going to blow your mind with its rich and creamy taste. Don’t be alarmed if you can’t eat it all—on a raw diet, your body needs less food.
Raw Marinated Mushroom Steaks
4 portobello mushrooms,
washed, stem and gills removed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon ume (plum) vinegar
1 teaspoon nama shoyu
(raw, unpasteurized soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon garlic, freshly grated
Directions: Fold ingredients together in a bowl or resealable plastic bag. Let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes, tossing and basting every few minutes. Reserve extra marinade for serving.
1 head cauliflower, chopped or broken
1/2 cup macadamia nut butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 sprigs rosemary for garnish (optional)
Directions: Lightly steam cauliflower, or blanch in hot water for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and place in food processor fitted with an S-blade. Process the cauliflower until it is grainy or reaches the texture of rice. Add macadamia butter, olive oil, herbs and spices, and process until mixture is light and fluffy, scraping sides frequently. This could take up to 5 minutes for the desired consistency.
To Serve: Mound Rosemary Mashed Cauliflower onto serving plate, lay portobello steak over top and drizzle with reserved marinade. Garnish each serving with a fresh sprig of rosemary. If you would prefer a cooked version of this recipe, gently grill the mushroom steaks.
Makes 4 servings. Prep time: 30 minutes.