By Diane Small
With the terrible weather most of us are experiencing right now, stews, soups and mounds of thick, buttery pureed potato is far more tempting than pressed celery and grated carrots, right?
But raw food diets, along with veganism, is a huge and growing food trend, as both health conscious consumers and eco-fashionistas look for a back-to-basics approach to eating. The rules are super simple: you can’t consume anything that’s been cooked at more than 40C, as it’s at this point that food loses much of its nutritional value. But believe it or not, there’s a lot of potential for delicious meals in this seemingly boring diet – and best of all, eating raw foods, even for just a few days – can help clear up dull, tired skin, end bloating, and of course, help you drop some weight.
Eating raw goes far beyond bland salads, dried fruit and nuts. There are plenty of options, even in fast food joints. For example, Britain’s fast food giant Pret A Manger has just launched some very tasty kale crisps–all raw dried, of course–and when Pret, a well loved and popular British brand, is onto something, you know it’s gone mainstream.
Dehydrated kale crisps are a far healthier option that potato crisps, and are far lower in fat and calories , but these contain a whopping 86 per cent of your daily requirements of iron. This is because the kale is dehydrated for 16 hours rather than fried or baked, so all of the nutrients are locked in.
Freshly pressed juices and smoothies have also hit mainstream restaurants, with even the posh Costes brands in Paris offering fresh pressed tomato and carrot juices on their menus, whilst back in Britain, Nakd bars are sold at sweet counters beside the chocolates. These are comprised of dates, fruit, nuts and apple juice, and are healthy sweet snack that offers some complex taste and texture combinations for those who crave a healthy but delicious treat.
Of course, the ultimate raw food comes from Japan in the form of sashimi. A favourite with top models for its low calorie content, nutritious density and of course, tastiness, having sashimi and other oily fish as part of their daily diet is one of the reasons the Japanese live longer than anyone on earth. Thank goodness there are loads of sushi bars in most major cities around the world!
5 Benefits of Eating Raw
Beyond tasting good, the benefits of raw food are many:
1. Nutrition isn’t ruined by the heating process, so you’re getting more vitamins, minerals and enzymes with every bite
2. Raw food means pure food–there are no preservatives or additives
3. Raw food means natural food–there are no thickeners, artificial sweeteners, colourants or other potentially harmful chemicals added
4. Raw food doesn’t include baked goods, breaded or fried foods–three of the most fattening types of food you could eat
5. Eating raw food promotes optimal good health and beauty. It brightens the hair, nails and skin, can reverse disease, skin problems, and even cancer cell growth, according to advocates of Gerson Therapy
More Options Than Ever
You may be thinking that a raw food diet is just what you need to kickstart a healthier lifestyle, but what can you eat beyond raw fruit and veg? Fortunately, there are plenty of options: all you need to do is visit one of the many raw food blogs, such as This Rawsome Vegan Life, or Rawmazing to discover recipes like raw pizza, hazelnut ‘eggnog’, raw pumpkin pie, carrot cake and cauliflower ‘rice’ with cracked pepper and ‘cheese’ sauce and so much more.
While some people, including Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson eat raw food as a way of life, much like swimming your local pond right now, it might be advisable to dip a toe in, rather than fully submerging yourself. Start out with one raw meal a few times a week, and when you feel more comfortable with eating this way, start exploring ways of incorporating raw eating into your daily life: look for raw restaurants, or places where you can get raw food (even a salad, in a pinch); experiment with recipes, and take snacks like nuts and kale crisps to work instead of indulging in biscuits and crisps. But don’t stay on the shore forever–you don’t know what you may be missing!
Raw Recipes for Every Meal
Who doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly? But toast is a no-no on vegan diets. So why not make this simple chia seed pudding that has all the flavour, but far more goodness?
Strawberry Kale Breakfast Bowl
It’s called a breakfast bowl, but you can eat this at all hours. It’s delicious, filling, and has lots of interesting textures. With the kale and berries, it’s also chock full of super food level nutrition. Win-win!
Raw Taco Wraps
How good do these look? The “taco meat” here is made from soaked walnuts, marinated mushrooms and cooked quinoa. It pretty much demonstrates how quick, easy and cheap (compared to cooking with meat) raw recipes are.
Raw Red Pepper Soup
It uses only three ingredients and it’s packed with Vitamin C, protein and fibre. Perfect served cold, but if you want a vegan soup for winter, you can heat this a wee bit too.
Spicy Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Rich and filling, this bowl of noodles is bursting with flavour! Can’t find kelp noodles? Any gluten free ones will do–hit your local Asian grocery store to find noodles made from everything from edamame to sweet potatoes.
Basil and Lemon Zoodles
You don’t need conventional pasta to have a filling meal! Spiralizing courgettes into ‘zoodles’ makes just as tasty a dish, and this one is bursting with flavour and can be raw or gently cooked, too.
Rainbow Spring Rolls
This is an Asian classic that’s filling, full of flavour, and versatile – just stick in your favourite veggies and herbs! And that ginger peanut sauce just makes everything even more delicious.
Ultimate Buddha Bowl
In case you’re not familiar with Buddha Bowls, they’re basically huge bowls of goodness that involve grains, sauces, a protein source and loads of veggies. This one gets the protein from quinoa, which doubles as the grain. A true meal in a bowl!
Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes
Eating raw doesn’t mean you need to deprive yourself of treats and desserts! These mini cheesecakes are arguably even better than the dairy versions.
Chocolate Pudding Bowls with Cherries
You’ll never guess what the healthy main ingredient is for this delish dessert! Let me just put it this way – it’s just as delicious as it looks, but far, far healthier than you’d imagine.
Click here to get the recipe.
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