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What’s it to be? Veal Wellington wrapped in golden puff pastry followed by a soaring lemon soufflé with a mountain of ice-cream – or a green shake of cucumber, lime, sprouts and spinach, then vegetable lasagne and a finale of cacao mudslide pie?

Indulgent versus healthy is a choice passengers are being offered these days as more cruise lines cater for lean-cuisine devotees and the health-conscious who don’t want to do a double take when they step on the scales after too many decadent cocktails and luscious desserts.

While many ships offer healthy eating options – both Celebrity Cruises and Costa Cruises have dedicated spa cuisine restaurants – SeaDream Yacht Club has led the way with its Dream Raw Cuisine, introduced in January 2012.

Once the domain of upmarket hippies and A-listers hoping to shed weight for a red-carpet celebrity bash, raw food now has a strong following worldwide. And you can enjoy a taste of the specialised cuisine aboard the two luxury boutique ships SeaDream I and SeaDream II.

Raw food, also known as the living foods movement, is defined as an epic form of vegetarianism – all ingredients are raw, organic and vegan. That means no fish, meat, eggs or dairy products and nothing heated above 48°C. It is believed that important enzymes are lost if food is heated above
this temperature.

SeaDream Yacht Club’s Norwegian owners, Linn and Atle Brynestad, discovered the health benefits of eating “raw” several years ago at the Hippocrates Health Institute at West Palm Beach, Florida. For the past 50 years the institute has been helping people to radically change their health by teaching them how to trade nutrient-deficient “dead” foods for a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and plant-based proteins.

The Brynestads were so impressed by the diet and life transformation program that they decided to introduce it as a dining option for passengers. Long known for its gourmet delights (with a string of prestigious culinary awards to prove it), SeaDream’s menus now feature delicious vegetarian and gluten-free selections as well as raw cuisine – the first offered at sea.

Atle says he’s pleased with the response to the Dream Raw Cuisine.

“Raw food isn’t for everyone but we like to offer it as an option because we have benefited so much from this style of food,” he says. “It’s very tasty as well as healthy, and you feel so good. We are providing an opportunity for passengers to try it even if it is only once on the cruise.”

By dining on raw cuisine, Atle says passengers don’t have to gain weight on a cruise – and they may even shed some kilos. Vegetables are the mainstay of most dishes and SeaDream’s corporate chef, Sudesh Kishore, has worked with the Hippocrates Health Institute’s executive chef, Renate Wallner, to create a special menu of delicious gourmet raw food dishes that taste as good as they look.

“Switching to a high percentage of raw, living plant-based foods enables people to reclaim feeling great and being well,” chef Renate says. It is a sentiment echoed by chef Sudesh, who describes raw cuisine as the “epitome of healthy food”.

“We offer appealing, tasty raw cuisine and some people even change their lifestyle after experiencing it on the SeaDream yachts,” Sudesh says. “If you come aboard to enjoy filet mignon and double chocolate mousse, by all means it is on the menu, but don’t assume raw food is boring or bland. Guests who try it are in for a tasty surprise.”

Sudesh says it is possible to offer raw cuisine on board because of the small size of the ships, which each cater for 112 passengers at most. The raw cuisine menu changes daily and offers various courses of “living food”. Those with a sweet tooth are also looked after.

“Yes, we offer desserts too,” Sudesh says, listing light yet indulgent selections such as cashew lemon cheesecake (see recipe on previous page) made with a filling of lemon juice, almond milk and coconut butter; German chocolate cake with blackberry coulis; and vanilla panna cotta with tarragon peach sauce.

Sudesh says many passengers are surprised by just how good everything tastes. And the best news is you can still have your cake and eat it too.

 

Cashew lemon cheesecake with chocolate brazil nut ice-cream

 

Crust

Ingredients

1 cup almonds

¼ tsp vanilla essence

1 pinch salt

1 tbsp chopped dates

 

Method

Process almonds, vanilla
and salt until crumbly. Add chopped dates little by little
until crust is sticking together and has consistency of soft dough. Grease a pie mould or ring with coconut butter and press crust onto the bottom. Keep in the fridge while making the filling.

Filling

Ingredients

1½ cups soaked cashew nuts

1 cup almond milk

¼ cup lemon juice

½ cup agave

¼ tsp vanilla essence

1 pinch salt

2 tbsp lecithin

½ cup raw coconut butter

Method

Blend all ingredients except lecithin and coconut butter until smooth. Add lecithin and coconut butter until incorporated. Pour into the moulded crust and put in fridge for about an hour or until firm to cut.

Ice-cream

Ingredients

1 cup brazil nuts, chopped

1 cup filtered water

½ cup pitted dates

1 tbsp lecithin

½ tsp vanilla essence

1 pinch salt

3 tbsp raw chocolate powder

Method

Place brazil nuts and water in blender. Blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Strain liquid through a fine strainer. Rinse the blender and put in
the strained liquid, dates, lecithin, vanilla, salt and chocolate powder. Blend well and put in freezer. Serve with the cheesecake.