Week 1 Matthew Kenney Online Raw Food Academy- Thoughts, Photos and a Mango Smoothie Recipe

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Raw food cuisine is the most beautiful culinary expression of food in its purest and truest form.  As art, creativity... and mainly for health. 

To me, there's nothing more challenging, more enriching and more fun, yes, I said fun, than going to school... especially if it involves food. And especially later in life, as I've gotten so much more out of my classes now. Yes, it is never to late to find and live in your true passions... and calling.

Surfing the cookbooks on Amazon about a month ago (what else is new!), I came across one of Matthew Kenney's raw food books. I was immediately drawn in. I couldn't believe how colorful and beautiful his food is... it especially spoke to the designer in me. And after doing more research and watching his TEDx Talk, I knew I wanted to learn more. And I knew I had to learn from the best.

So, I found Chef Kenney's website and was thrilled to learn he has an online program. Now don't get me wrong, I would have loved to take the program in person (Santa Monica!)... but this online thing made it so much more cost-effective, convenient, and allowed me to start right away.

And I did. I began the program the very next week, and I've been loving every minute since.

Kale Chips

The thing I love most about this program, is that you are provided with detailed shopping lists, lessons that include videos and printable materials. Plus constant input from your instructors (even Chef Kenney), and your fellow classmates. And my classmates are from all over the world. How exciting to see the interpretations of the dishes from people with such diverse backgrounds.

And then there are the recipes. And I'm not talking your run-of-the-mill raw food recipes, but recipes so beautiful and delicious, that even the pickiest gourmet meat-eater, would be pleased... and satisfied with them.

So, our first recipe was this Beet Ravioli. And, yes, I am a serious raw beet lover now (I'd only had them roasted before... and didn't know what I was missing).

Beet Ravioli

 Followed by this Heirloom Tomato Lasagna, that made me never want to make cooked tomato sauce again.  No really... when it's made raw there's a sweetness and freshness that just can't be beat. And seriously... just look at those colors.

Heirloom Tomato Lasagna

I was shocked that I was able to make such incredible dishes using only raw ingredients... even learning how to make nut cheeses for the fillings. And glad I bought what I now think of as one of the crucial pieces of equipment in my kitchen... my mandoline.

We also learned some of the techniques that I'd been too nervous to try in the past, like pickling, and kimchi, which I'd never tasted. And would end up in one of my favorite dishes in week 2.

 Pickled Ginger and Dill Pickles

And who knew that you could easily make almond milk from raw almonds, and then dehydrate the solids from it all to make a flour. I see raw pastries coming in our future.

Almond Milk

And we learned the proper way to hold a knife, care for a knife, and the different cuts.  And yes, we practiced... every, single, day.

Mid-week, I'm finally getting my dice and brunoise in squares rather than rectangles!

And there were some sweet treats, too.  We made several smoothies (including the first picture up top, which is a Pumpkin Spice Smoothie.  And even got to create our own, learning Chef Kenney's method of making a proper smoothie for optimal nutrition.  Here's my creation... and man, was it fresh, fruity and delicious.

Banana Mango Smoothie

1 c. fresh orange juice
1/2 c. frozen mango
1/2 banana
1 tsp. maca powder
Pinch salt
1/4 c. ice
1 tsp. honey
Sprinkle with bee pollen

Blend all ingredients except the bee pollen. Pour into glass and sprinkle the bee pollen on top. Serve.

*Note- bee pollen can be found in the refrigerated section of your local health food store. I got mine at Earth Fare. Make sure and get local (to you) bee pollen for the best benefit.

Week 1 Summary:

This week was better than I ever imagined. I used ingredients that were new to me.  And learned techniques using raw foods that I didn't even think possible. The thing I liked the most was that this was very challenging, yet you never felt lost in the program. Also, it offered some flexibility with timing, a great option for those that work, etc.

Finally, what the designer in me appreciated the most, was that Chef Kenney and his team focused on the presentation of the dishes, being as important as the dishes themselves.  Helping us learn beautiful plating skills, and even helping with food photography.

So what's next? Next week we'll be learning how to open coconuts (yikes!), more delicious raw food dishes (especially salads) and we'll even have a fun Iron Chef-like produce challenge. So check back for updates and photos for the next 3 weeks of my 4-week raw food culinary journey.

Zucchini Tartare

*This blog post was not compensated, nor solicited and I paid for the program myself. All opinions and photographs are my own. (Which should be a given, but as a blogger, we are required to state this.)


  1. Looks like you are an A+ student, Diana! I didn't realize you were taking the course online. FYI I live in Santa Monica and we have a separate office apt...You are more than welcome to stay there next time Chef Kenny gives his class live =)

    1. Thank you Kim! Wow, that would be so amazing! In the future, I might end up taking an advanced class there in Santa Monica :-) It would be so much fun to see you, too!!!

  2. I want try this course online way :) thanks for this post!

    1. I think you will love it, Viktoria! I'm on my last week, and I'm already getting sad that it's coming to an end!


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