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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Health and Taste with Raw Fresno

Dec 28, 2018 11:00AM ● By Jordan Venema

Raw Beauty

January 2019
Story by Jordan Venema 
Photos Courtesy of  Naomi Hendrix

THIS PAST NOVEMBER, Raw Fresno celebrated the first anniversary of its brick and mortar located in the Galleria at the Civic Center, but owner, founder and chef Naomi Hendrix has been singing (and eating) the praises of raw food for more than a decade. 

Raw food includes seeds, fruits, vegetables and nuts which are only ever prepared under 120 degrees, and though known for its health benefits, Hendrix says her introduction to raw food first came through illness.

“My son died of seizures at 21 that were onset from an autoimmune disorder he had called celiac disease,” says Hendrix. “Because of his death, it made me very aware of my own body and symptoms, and I realized I also had this. And when my doctor diagnosed me with dysbiosis, a digestive disorder, she said I had to go sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, soy free and vinegar free.” 

In short, Hendrix cut out all processed foods, leaving little more than nuts, seeds, vegetables
and fruits.

“I ate a lot of pico de gallo and guacamole the first months,” she says with a laugh.

A friend gifted Hendrix with a recipe book from Café Gratitude in Berkeley, “and every ingredient in there I could eat, and I started making these recipes,” says Hendrix. “I was blown away by the flavor.” 

But more than the flavor, Hendrix soon discovered her symptoms had disappeared, and she decided then, “I had to educate other people in Fresno about this.” 

Hendrix returned to school and became a certified healing food specialist through a year-long online course offered by Immune Nutrition in New York. She also attended courses at Living Light Institute in Fort Bragg, which specializes in raw foods.  

Now, in addition to the brick and mortar, Raw Fresno serves the Fresno area with its food truck, and Hendrix also offers regular $20 instructional classes, the schedules of which can be found on Raw Fresno’s website. Raw Fresno also offers an annual and monthly lunch memberships, with different rates for various combos that include one or two entrees, an appetizer and dessert.

Bringing raw foods to Fresno meant Hendrix had to overcome some stereotypes people have about the preparation. People often perceive raw food as cold, simple or even unsatisfying. But Hendrix prepares intricate dishes, using a dehydrator and Vitamix to make gourmet dishes.  We’re talking pizza and kale salads, brownie scoops and salted caramel coconut balls, farmers market wraps, Caribbean tacos, marinated portabella mushrooms and a “verger” made with a portabella mushroom, walnut and pumpkin seed patty. 

These foods may be gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, vinegar free and soy free, but that doesn’t mean they’re free of taste. 

“The taste is outstanding,” says Hendrix. “People are just amazed. Omnivores, carnivores, anybody that loves food comes and tries it, and though they might be skeptical, they taste it and are blown away and keep coming back.”

The biggest response the food receives, says Hendrix, is that it’s filling.

“I had a husband say to his wife when they took my class, ‘Well, on our way home let’s stop by McDonald’s because I’m not going to be full,’” recalls Hendrix. But after the class, he told her he was more than satisfied. And the reason the food satisfies, says Hendrix, is simple. It’s good for you. 

Since raw food is prepared at a lower temperature, the enzymes in the food remain alive longer, keeping its nutritional value, which is why a raw food meal doesn’t leave that post-lunch haze and lethargy.

“The food wakes you up,” says Hendrix. “That’s why we say, let thy food be thy medicine.”

And Hendrix says raw foods really do have healing properties.

“I have cancer patients and diabetics that have changed their diet and gotten off all their medications, and people who had cancer that didn’t do chemo but completely reversed the cancer,” says Hendrix. 

“Customers have purchased our subscription lunch club and these last few months they’ve come in and said, ‘Wow, I’ve gone to my doctor and all my levels are down, I’ve lost 20 pounds, I feel the best I’ve ever felt,’” says Hendrix.

It tastes good, it feels good and perhaps the best part? It’s not that expensive, says Hendrix.

“You’re fed and your body is nourished, and since you’re eating higher quality foods you don’t eat as much so it’s not very expensive,” says Hendrix. “That’s why when people eat fast food or any food without nutritional value, an hour later they’re starving.” •

Raw Fresno • 2405 Capitol St., Suite 103, Fresno • Mon-Fri 7AM-7PM, Sat 8AM-4PM • Find them on Facebook and Instagram