People who eat a strictly raw food diet can only be described by one word: HARDCORE!!! It is not easy, or at least not convenient, to eat strictly raw food. And while it has received lots of media attention over the last few years, most people find the notion of a raw food diet highly intimidating. A few months ago I decided to give it a try, at least for a short little stint. My parents had experimented with the raw food diet for a month or so but they are definitely more hardcore, so I gave it a whirl for a week. While it was tricky and took some definite forethought, I definitely felt amazing that week and learned a lot of helpful things.
Why Raw? Food that is uncooked and fresh is FULL of enzymes. Enzymes are the catalyst for the chemical reactions that happen in our body: reactions that make our body work, help us digest food and use the energy. When food is cooked, these enzymes die. Thankfully the food still retains vitamins and minerals, however our ability to absorb and use the vitamins and minerals can be drastically decreased from eating cooked food. Amazingly, our bodies have enzyme reserves that we can draw from when we eat cooked food. But, these reserves are not bottomless and unless we replace the reserves with enzymes from raw food, we end up depleted which leads to all sorts of health and digestive problems. Many of the diseases associated with following a Standard American Diet (SAD) of highly cooked, processed and chemical laden food, are caused by an enzyme deficit.
The Good News: Eating raw food does NOT have to be an all or nothing experience. There are many ways of increasing the amount of raw food you eat without subscribing to a strict raw food diet. Here are a number of ways that I have been able to increase the amount of raw food we eat. Maybe some of these ideas will work for you!
1. Raw Lunches: Most of our cooked food is consumed for breakfast and supper. So I try pretty hard to serve raw food for lunches: fruit, vegetables, cheese made from raw milk, raw nuts and seeds. These have become normal lunches for us and as a side bonus, they are easy to prepare and I don’t have to use any energy to prepare this meal.
2. Salad Salad Salad: Several times a week, our dinner entree is a salad, or at least based around a salad. Pretty much any combination of vegetables, nuts and fruit will do. With a dash of olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar and voila! Successful salad!
3. If you are making a cooked entree, try to stir in some raw vegetables after it’s cooked. For example, if I’m making a stir fry, I will saute half the vegetables, the ones that are tricky for my kids to eat raw, or ones that need to be cooked for a certain taste(like onions), and then once it’s cooked, I will stir in shredded raw carrots and zucchinis.
4. Salsa! Salsas are so versatile and can be used to top grilled meat or any other cooked dish! With so many fun combinations of vegetables or fruits, you could have a different salsa every meal! My current summer favorite is the following: finely chopped peaches, strawberries, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and sea salt. Super yummy and unexpected on grilled chicken or paired with flatbreads as an appy.
The more you can fill your reserves with healthy enzymes in the summer when fresh food is so easy to get, the better you’ll be served all year when fresh veggies are hard to find or have travelled a long way to your dinner table! Don’t forget that a healthy life is the sum of tiny decisions every day to be healthy and eat healthy.
Raw Food Life Force Energy by Natalia Rose was a really interesting and inspiring read in case you are looking for resources about this topic.