Ani Phyo isn’t evangelical about raw food; she just wants to create healthy, inspiring meals with ultrafresh ingredients, like zucchini “pasta” with tangy no-cook marinara.
Like leather jackets and bangs, the raw-food diet has reinvented itself every decade since the 1960s. Ani Phyo, who was raised on a mostly “living” diet by her health-conscious parents, is one of the leaders of raw food’s latest cycle, thanks to the clever, uncomplicated recipes she develops for restaurants, athletes and corporations like Adidas. The 39-year-old’s dishes appeal both to raw foodists (who believe heating ingredients above 104°F kills essential enzymes) and omnivores who want to eat more healthfully. “It’s easy to become obsessive about eating raw,” says the author of the recently published Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen. “I don’t want that. I just try to make raw food more accessible to everyone.” Her spaghetti-like zucchini ribbons, dressed with tangy heirloom-tomato marinara, is a vibrant, summery spin on the traditional pasta and red sauce, and her garlicky corn soup thickened with pureed cashews is as flavorful as its cooked counterpart—and much faster to prepare. Phyo’s desserts, like soft cardamom-date bars topped with a crunchy almond crumble, are also universally appealing. “A person doesn’t have to be 100 percent raw to benefit,” she says.