When you hear the term “raw” food, what comes to mind? Sushi? Blood red meat? Uncooked chicken? Well, the world of raw foods is nothing of the sort. Sure, those items are “raw” but when we talk about raw food in the health food sense, it means foods in their “living” form. Similar to fermented foods, raw or live foods also contain enzymes which cooked foods lack. The enzymes in raw foods assist the body in the process of digestion.
The raw food diet dates all the way back to paleolithic ages when all cave men could eat were raw foods-vegetables, fruits and nuts. They really had no other choice. So, we almost have a natural instinct to eat this way. Sure, they hunted for animals to eat, but believe me, back then, those animals were truly wild…not fed diets full of pesticides or antibiotics.
Raw foods include all organic nuts, seeds, grains, sprouts, fruits and veggies and sea plants in their natural, uncooked form. You may be wondering if there is a difference between a raw foods diet and a vegan/vegetarian diet. They are both plant based diets, and as we know, there are many derivatives of the vegetarian diet (ovo, lacto, ovo-lacto, people who eat fish but call themselves vegetarians (I still don’t understand that one!) ), but the main difference is that a raw foods diet is truly based on ORGANIC, UNCOOKED, UNPROCESSED, and UNHEATED plant food choices.
Is this type of diet healthy?… you may wonder. Well, just like any type of eating lifestyle (I try not to use the word diet-people always get the wrong idea and “diet” sounds temporary-the way we eat is a CHOICE and a LIFESTYLE, so we will refer to it as such), it may not be for everyone. Some people thrive when they eat this way. It may disagree with others. Digesting raw foods may be difficult for some people and could make things quite uncomfortable. Most can benefit from experimenting with raw foods, though. Eating foods in their living form gives you energy! This lifestyle can also protect against certain chronic diseases, improve mental state, and help out the environment.
Prepping raw foods is a bit time consuming, but it is all the while worth it. You can make some beautiful dishes and I promise, making raw food dishes and serving them to friends and loved ones is a win-win situation. You have to put love into these dishes because they take so much time (some are more simple than others), so as cheesy as it sounds, that energy goes into the food…any food you make captures a certain essence and you eat and serve that essence. Raw foods encapsulate the beauty of nature and gets you to be creative. I always say that with raw foods, you are making something out of something else.
Please check out Roxanne Klein’s website. Roxanne is the author of the cookbook called simply, RAW.
This book features amazing recipes, with beautiful photos of her creations and yes, some are extremely time consuming, but well worth it. She also has a line of products called Roxanne’s Fine Cuisine, which you can find at Whole Foods market. She sells sprouted nuts and seeds such as almonds, which means she has soaked them, so they can start the sprout. Sprouting removes the enzyme inhibitors that help make the nutrients in these foods bioavailable to our bodies. They taste fantastic! You will never eat Blue Diamond almonds ever again! Roxanne also has created raw cheeses and spreads, which are typically made from nuts and seeds as well as a whole dessert line, which features the use of a lot of coconut (we heart coconut!!) Sounds strange, I know, but you owe it to yourself to try something raw if you never have.
My favorite raw recipe lately, which I make all the time is a raw, vegan chocolate mousse. OMG! You will be in heaven once you try it! The recipe comes from my school, Bauman College’s website by a woman named “Holly H” and a colleague made it in class. I have been obsessed with it ever since and I urge you to try it. It’s REALLY simple and it’s really hard not to eat the whole batch once you have made it if you love chocolate as much as I do!
VEGAN RAW CHOCOLATE MOUSSE-all ingredients can be found at Whole Foods market
2 ripe organic avocados
3/4 cup organic dates, pits removed
1/2 cup organic cocoa powder
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup REAL maple syrup (do NOT ruin this recipe with Aunt Jemimah, people!)
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional cocoa nibs ( I like Sunfoods…they have so many awesome products)
optional raspberries or other seasonal fruit (bananas also go great with this
Soak dates in enough water to cover for 10 minutes. Remove dates from water, reserving liquid for later use. Place dates and all remaining ingredients in a food processor and puree until a mousse consistency is achieved. Add reserved water in small amounts to thin, if necessary. Serve chilled or at room temp, adding fruit and/or cocoa nibs sprinkled on top. Serves 6 (or 1, if I make it 😉 )
Some raw suggestions…
Raw-The Uncook Book by Juliano Brotman
RAWvolution by Matt Amsden
The Complete Book of Raw Food: Healthy, Delicious, Vegetarian Cuisine Made with Living Foods by Lori Baird and Julie Rodwell
Sunfood Nutrition: http://www.sunfood.com/ (delicious RAW products)
Cafe Gratitude: http://www.cafegratitude.com/ ( yummy restaurant in the Bay area)
Real Food Daily: http://www.realfood.com/home.htm ( yummy restaurant in Santa Monica)
NatuRaw: http://www.naturaw.com/ (shop for RAW products)Navitas: http://www.navitasnaturals.com/ (RAW products…they also sell great cocoa nibs)
Raw foods are definitely foods that SERVE you, which is what you want. Food is a choice and you vote with your fork, so why not start including some raw choices in your diet? See if you notice a difference by doing so…you may smile more, have more energy, tell people you love them more, do cartwheels, or want to run a marathon…how bad would that be?