Think Fresh: Raw

Arugula Pesto

The raw food movement is a big deal. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. I’m also sure you’ve thought the exact same thing as me: that’s for crazy vegan hippies who like to eat dirt. But you know, there are some incredible benefits of incorporating more raw food into your diet and it really is not all that difficult! You don’t have to be a raw-foodist to eat a little(or a lot) more raw food and reap the benefits.

Benefits(in a nutshell)(literally) – Healthy fresh food, raw nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, sprouted grains, have enzymes that are alive. Putting living food into your body allows your body to reap the benefits of these enzymes dramatically increasing the nutritional intake. Once food is heated to a certain point, the enzyme dies. So eating steamed broccoli is still healthy for you because there are still vitamins and minerals, but the enzyme is no longer living.

Obviously the easiest way to eat more raw food, is to eat more fruits and vegetables in general, and cook less of them. You don’t need to overcook or even cook most vegetables to enjoy them. Here are some ways you can eat more raw without going all hardcore:

Make some healthy dip and eat crudites(raw veggies)

When making stir frys or one dish meals, saute the veggies you don’t like raw(mushrooms and onions maybe), but top with other veggies you don’t mind raw, finely chopped(celery, carrots, spinach etc).

Commit to one raw meal a day. We usually do this at lunch, and honestly it seems to come with having kids. Lunch at our house is things like, sliced fruit, nuts(not roasted or they’re not raw), veggies, crackers(which you can buy or make raw), and cheese(which we always buy raw). So I don’t have to think too hard about getting raw lunches in.

PESTO! I know you’ve all heard me rant about my love for pesto. If you want some other great pesto ideas, check out THIS post. But for dinner tonight I tried something new and it was really delicious and super easy! Give it a try!

Arugula Pesto

In a food processor, place 4 cups of arugula, 1/2 cup crumbled feta, 1 garlic clove, juice of half a lemon, 3 tbs olive oil, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup walnut pieces. Pulse to combine and until finely chopped. I then placed it over rice pasta, stirred to combine and it was a completely raw pasta sauce, that was warm because of the pasta, but not cooked enough to kill the enzymes. So healthy and so delicious!

The bottom line is this: like all things health related, it can seem completely overwhelming to live a healthy life and follow all the rules we hear about. Realistically our lives are an accumulation of all the little decisions and choices we make. So you don’t have to do radical things to greatly improve your health. Start with something little. Make little decisions that will benefit you as often as you can. Have an extra glass of water. Eat your carrots raw. Eat one donut instead of two. One day you will see that all your healthy choices have added up to a healthy life. Yay You!

Think Fresh: Pesto

I love, love love loooooove pesto. Maybe because I LOVE basil. It’s just one of those goes-with-everything kind of things. A traditional pesto is: basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt, processed together. It is yummy on flatbreads, instead of tomato sauce on pizza, with pasta, coated on fish or chicken, in savory scones, spread on sandwiches etc. Really you can use it as a flavorful and healthy sauce for anything. BUT I have ventured way outside of the traditional recipe this summer and tried so many delicious variations. Here is the formula you need for great and easy pesto: a vegetable + a nut or seed + some olive oil + some seasonings(garlic sea salt etc) = delicious pesto.  I love this because I try hard to eat all the produce in the fridge before it goes bad and sometimes there are just bits and pieces left. Usually they make a great pesto!

Personal favorites include these combinations: green bean pesto with sunflower seeds, carrot ginger pesto with pecans(serve with goat cheese SO good!), pea pesto with hazelnuts, and broccoli pesto.

Heidi from 101 Cookbooks, posted this recipe a while back. It turns out AMAZINGLY. I have used it in a hundred combinations and definitely recommend you give it a try. As an entree with quinoa, it is so healthy and delicious. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/double-broccoli-quinoa-recipe.html

Just last week Deb from Smitten Kitchen posted this fabulous recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/09/linguine-with-tomato-almond-pesto/

Tomato almond pesto sounds just about too good to be true.

So there you go. Make some pesto. Add to anything. Enjoy!

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