Why go raw? The most widely cited reason is that cooking may deactivate many of the important enzymes and nutrients in foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and herbs. These are vital for improving metabolic function, breaking down and digesting certain nutrients, and fighting off disease. As well, there are the side benefits of saving the fuel and the extra cost of the salts, oils and sweeteners often required in cooking.
However, a completely raw diet may not be for everyone, as it can sometimes be difficult to digest (as writer and natural foods expert Nancy Lee Bentley writes: “The higher proportion of nutrients in raw food is useless if the food can’t be digested, absorbed and assimilated.”)
So if you’re looking for a few ways to eat more raw foods and take advantage of the health benefits of a raw diet, but you’re not sure you can handle a full-on switch, here are some easy tips:
1. Juice up: Juicing is a tasty way to load up on fruits and vegetables, especially as you’ll be breaking down some of the hard-to-digest fibres. Try different combinations to find your favourite flavours – a zesty apple, carrot and ginger juice can be a great start to your morning, or maybe, as Dr. Oz suggests, a banana spinach smoothie that’s high in potassium, folate, vitamins K and A, and magnesium.
2. Get a little nutty: Nut and seed butters are a terrific substitute for other processed spreads, provide a good source of protein and fats and are really easy to make. Simply grind up your choice of nut or seed (make sure to look for the unroasted kind) into a fine powder in a coffee grinder, then transfer to a food processor. Add a tablespoon of oil until it’s a little runnier than you’d like, add some salt or honey to taste, then refrigerate in a jar.
3. Become a souper-man or -woman: If you’re looking for a delicious way to fill up on raw vegetables, look out for recipes for gazpachos and other cold soups. Blend together ingredients like sundried tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and garlic until smooth and top up with coarsely chopped tomatoes, onions, avocado or corn kernels.
4. Salad days: Of course, salads are the easiest way to eat your fruits and veggies raw. To spice up your greens, try adding in fresh herbs like parsley and oregano, chopped raw nuts, chunky bits of avocado, raw sunflower or sesame seeds, or drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.
Do you have any good raw food recipes? Share some of your favourites in the comments section!