If you are new to raw food, you will likely embark on your journey with salads and fruit smoothies. Be sure to keep going and don’t stop at salads!
There are plentiful choices as you venture into the vibrant world of living foods. There are so many raw food recipes available now in books and online that you can easily learn to make raw Italian, Mexican, Asian, gourmet, and all phases of cuisine in between.
Imagine eating pasta made from zucchini, pie crust made from dates and walnuts topped with pureed tropical fruit, ice cream made from coconut, mylk made from almonds and vanilla, yogurt made from cashews, vegetable chips made from kale, pizza from nuts and vegetables, and desserts made with raw chocolate. These are packed with nutrition and good for your health.
You will notice feeling better after just a few days of eating all raw. As you switch to a raw food diet you will notice changes in your tastes and cravings for food. You can expect increased energy, improved mental clarity, better bowel habits, and balanced appetite from eating living foods. Your commitment, patience, and a willingness to experiment in your kitchen will help you learn the art of raw food preparation. You will find creating raw food meals to be joyful and rewarding.
Instead of eating an entire box of cookies to satisfy a sweet craving you will likely be content with just a few raw cookies, especially if you make them yourself with nutrient dense ingredients. In my work people tell me what they eat on an average week. Through these conversations I have come to understand that most people eat to feel full, not for the health benefits they gain from their food. It is more important to eat enough proper nutrients to heal, rebuild, and restore your body than to overeat satisfying a craving. When oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and herbs are eaten in their raw, uncooked state they provide concentrated vitamins and minerals that are easy for the body to absorb. This is how raw foods build a strong and healthy body.
Converting your kitchen to a raw food haven will require a little equipment in addition to common items such as cutting boards, a variety of good knives, and mixing bowls. You will eventually need a food processor, commercial blender, and dehydrator. As you get into eating this way you will find these tools are necessary to have a well rounded diet. Raw food preparation requires planning and commitment. If you create your grocery list and meal plans ahead of time it will be much easier for you to stay on course.
Instead of baking, grilling, sautéing, or cooking, raw food is eaten fresh, marinated, juiced, blended, fermented, sprouted, or dehydrated. Temperatures during food preparation stay below 115 degrees. Keeping food below this temperature allows the nutrients and living, vital enzymes in the food to stay intact. Although traditional cooking methods certainly bring out the flavors of foods and spices, the temperature is usually 200 to 500 degrees which destroys many vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Enzymes help us digest our food and are essential for many metabolic processes in the body. Keeping food alive and enzyme rich is the key to raw food preparation. Here is a brief description of common methods of raw food preparation:
Fresh: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and herbs just as they came off the plant or tree.
Marinated: Foods like cabbage change texture and taste when marinated in salt or vinegar.
Juiced: This requires a piece of equipment called a juicer. Juicing makes the nutrients in vegetables and fruit easy to absorb and easy to digest. The liquid juice can be consumed fresh or used as a base for dressings or soups. In an established raw kitchen almost every part of the fruit, vegetable, or nut can be used. Savory crackers and breads can be made with the extracted fiber from juiced vegetables.
Blended: You can use the blender you have in your kitchen for a while but will eventually need to get a commercial blender which can liquefy even tough chunky items like dates and shredded coconut. Soups, pates, hummus, puddings, and nut milks can be made in the blender. Blending breaks down the fiber structure of the food, creates a creamy texture, and makes it easily digestible.
Fermented: Sauerkraut, kim chi, rejuvelac, yogurt, and kombucha. These require no special equipment but good instructions and being fearless are helpful. Ferments can take up to two weeks to complete. They are well worth the wait as they provide nutrients unique to their processing and do wonders for the health of the digestive system.
Sprouted: Sprouted nuts, beans, seeds, and grains are the best sources of protein for a raw foodist. Sprouting unlocks the nutrition potential and increases the vitamin content. Sprouts are living foods with active enzymes that aid digestion. No equipment is necessary for basic sprouting; good instructions are helpful.
Dehydrated: Food is dried in a dehydrator and kept below 115 degrees. A dehydrator consistently blows dry, warm air over the food to remove the moisture; this is our substitute for baking. Dehydration is used to make breads, cookies, crackers, veggie chips, and fruit roll ups. It is also used to preserve tomatoes, apples, and other fruits and vegetables for snacks and use at a later time.
Eating a completely raw food diet can create the opportunity for overcoming food addictions, promoting weight loss, controlling appetite and portion size. Many people have reversed chronic health conditions such as insulin dependent diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, constipation, acne, insomnia, and eliminated prescription drugs after changing to a raw food diet. If you are interested in eating the most health promoting, nutrient dense, life giving foods, a balanced raw food diet will be a great asset to your health.
If you’d like more health tips, check out Samadhi’s book, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Healthy You.
Transform Your Relationship with Food; Welcome to the Raw Food Lifestyle
Written by Samadhi Artemisa, Acupuncture Physician
Published in Natural Awakenings Magazine
September 2010 Edition
Photos used in this blog post ©2013 Samadhi Artemisa, AP, owner of Injoyhealthcare. All rights reserved.
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