In a sea of processed convenience food, we often overlook the fastest food of all, raw. Needing nothing but a quick chop or rinse, raw fruits and vegetables are full of flavor and good-for-you nutrients; they may just be the perfect food. It’s no wonder that this trend is sweeping across the country like wildfire. Between curing disease, aiding environmental recovery, and the infinite delicious ways to enjoy, raw foods are quickly becoming the cuisine of choice.
The idea is simple: eat raw fruits and vegetables. This doesn’t mean don’t eat animal products, cooked fruits and vegetables and other cooked foods likes grains and beans, which are all healthy in moderation. But raw fruits and veggies are the only foods that you can eat as much as you want and still be healthy, so never worry about eating too much.
Using raw foods to diet or to cleanse is very effective and highly recommended, but not the focus here. It’s not about being extreme, otherwise it’s just a passing fad and not part of regular life. Many people already eat raw foods on a daily basis in the form of salads and snacks, which is great. The next step is to start substituting raw foods where they are usually cooked.
It can take a little getting used to, but once you try out different dishes and ways to enjoy raw foods, you will see how easy it is and how great the rewards are. Try replacing your sautéed veggies in stir-fry with raw ones, or replacing your spaghetti with thin strips of zucchini. You will be amazed at how satisfying and filling dishes based on raw foods can be. Continue to use beans, cooked grains, and animal products, like meat and cheese, in your dishes as accents. A little goat cheese on your salad, or some crumbled bacon on your zucchini pasta can really liven it up. Once you start experimenting, the ideas will flow into a whole new world of culinary opportunity.
It’s a good idea to shop at markets that feature local and organic produce when possible. These foods are the freshest and have the most nutritional value and taste the best. Between infinite veggie-friendly dips, salads, shakes, raw snacks, and a foray or two into substituting raw for cooked, it’s easy to incorporate 4-6 servings of raw foods per day. The best part is that once you start eating more raw food, you won’t be able to stop! You will crave raw food flavors and the feeling it gives you.
When we think about the food we eat, it’s often in terms of what we’ll have to do to counteract or minimize its effects… how many minutes on the treadmill will this cookie cost me? If I eat tuna tonight, I can’t have sushi until next week. I want the pizza, but I’ve got to grab some antacids first…
Between calories, toxins, and bodily rebellions, eating has become yet another source of health-risk stress. This is not natural, food is meant to nourish the body and replenish it with vital energy. We should feel good after eating, simple as that. By incorporating raw foods into a regular diet, you will not only feel good after eating, you will also look great, have more energy, enhance your senses and intellectual functions, and enjoy a whole host of health benefits.
Many of the vitamins, nutrients and enzymes in fruits and vegetables die after being heated beyond 105 degrees Farenheit. While cooked veggies still offer fiber and other nourishing properties, the health benefit is only a fraction of what you get when you consume them raw. These properties help our cells function and reproduce faster, enabling us to fight disease and infection and stay as healthy as possible. Cosmetically, that means clear and radiant skin, strong shiny hair and nails, and an overall vibrancy that everyone can notice. It also means an increase in vital energy, including libido and ability to stay focused. Many people notice clear-headedness when they eat a lot of raw fruits and veggies. The senses also experience a boost, food tastes better, aromas are detected with more sensitivity and things feel better to the touch. It’s also an easy way to instantly lose weight and decrease allergies. Recent studies have shown that a more extreme raw diet can reverse and even completely cure conditions like type one and two Diabetes! These days there are pills for everything from acne and allergies to diabetes and obesity, but these conditions can improve 100% naturally just by eating raw fruits and vegetables.
It can be hard to know where to start when trying to eat more raw, the good thing is that many of the foods we know and love for their delicious flavor are also super healthy. Whether you enjoy these foods in dishes like salads, shakes, or on their own, they are tasty ways to feel and look great.
Blue, red, black or yellow, berries are loaded with antioxidants and enzymes to support your immune system and delight your palate. Summer is the best time to enjoy fresh berries, you can even pick your own at many farms…one for the basket…one in the mouth.
This member of the citrus family aids digestion and helps detoxify the body. They are super filling and thanks to Florida, we can get them ripe and juicy pretty much year-round.
Dark green leafy vegetables contain tons of vitamins and nutrients essential to a healthy body and mind. This hearty cousin of spinach is great as the base of salads or with dips and sauces.
An apple a day… sure is tasty! Crisp and sweet, apples make a perfect snack anytime of day, slather on some peanut or almond butter and you’ve got yourself a rawlicious treat.
Yes, it’s true, raw cacao is one of the healthiest things to eat, ever. The flavor of un-roasted chocolate is intense and wonderful, just a small amount of it releases pleasurable sensations throughout the body. Most health-food stores now carry ready-made raw chocolate treats, and you can also find products, including raw cocoa powder, online.
Dinner For Two
A dinner that features raw ingredients from beginning to end is the ultimate romantic dinner. This meal will leave everyone feeling satisfied and full without being weighed down. All of the nutrients in the raw foods will supply plenty of energy for the rest of the evening, whatever it may bring!
Appetizer: Market Salad
A great formula to follow when making salads is three to four fresh greens, one fresh or dried fruit, one type of nut or seed, and one sprinkling of cheese or meat. Use the best looking ingredients you can find and your favorite types. Iceberg and romaine lettuces are excellent in salads but don’t have as much nutritional value as other greens, so be sure to mix it up and use a combination. This salad uses dark leafy greens, sprouts, and herbs as a base for extra layers of flavor.
1 handful curly parsley
3 leaves kale
1 cup sweet pea shoots
1 bunch Spring ramps (green onion or chives are fine)
3 tablespoons raisins
3 tablespoons walnuts
crumbled parmesan cheese
Chop all of the greens roughly into bite-sized pieces and combine in a bowl with the raisins and walnuts. Toss with your favorite dressing and divide evenly onto two plates, topping each with a few crumbles of parmesan cheese.
Main Dish: Raw Kung-Pao
This dish is unbelievably tasty and filling, and since the veggies are raw, it takes no time at all to throw together. You can use any variety of veggies for this dish and mix it up often to keep it exciting. If you’re really in a hurry, you can always buy pre-made rice and sauce, though homemade is always tastier and better for you.
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon plum sauce
Sriracha chili sauce
3 cups cooked basmati rice
1 cup broccoli, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
3 large stalks bok choy, chopped
½ cup chopped daikon
2 leaves napa cabbage, chopped
½ cup cocktail peanuts
In a medium saucepan over medium heat add oil and garlic, sauté until lightly browned. Turn the heat up to high and add the wine and rice vinegar and reduce by half. Add the soy sauce, pepper, plum sauce and bring to the boil for 2 minutes. Add the Sriracha to taste and boil for one more minute. Stir before use.
Divide the rice evenly between two plates and top with the assorted chopped veggies. Sprinkle on the peanuts and pour over the sauce to desired sauciness.
Dessert: Chocolate Shake
Skepticism is natural when it comes to this recipe, but try it anyway. There’s nothing to lose and a silky, creamy, delicious dessert that’s actually good for you to gain. Better than a milk shake and 100% dairy and sugar free, this is a top-notch recipe to have in your arsenal for years to come.
1 cup cashews, soaked in water 1-6 hours
3-5 tablespoons water from cashews
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 bananas, frozen (if they are not frozen, add 3 ice cubes)
Agave nectar or other sweetener like honey or maple syrup
Blend the cashews, water and vanilla until smooth. Add in the banana and ice if necessary and blend to combine. Add in cocoa powder a few tablespoons at a time until desired chocolate flavor is reached, then add in agave to sweeten to taste. Divide evenly between two mugs and enjoy!
The Big Picture
Raw foods are quick, healthy and delicious. By incorporating at least four servings per day you will keep your body frisky and your mind sharp. It will also contribute to a healthier planet and global food supply system. A diet based around fresh foods is less expensive than a diet based on animal products and processed carbohydrates. Wow your friends, lovers and family with delicious dishes that feature raw food and spread the good word.