When you hear the term “raw” food, what comes to mind? From now on, I hope you think about tantalizing entrees, rich and luscious desserts, and incredible smoothies that will make you wonder how fruits, veggies, and nuts could ever taste so good!
Most people associate “raw” with unbaked cookie dough, sushi, or heaven forbid, undercooked meat. I’d like to give you a new frame of reference for “raw” food, and take you on journey to optimal health that begins with your taste buds and ends with a sleek, new, energized you.
The main difference between raw food and traditional cooked food is that the ingredients in your meal are never heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
Raw food is prepared with fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and superfoods like the microalgae, Spirulina, or delectable cacao (chocolate.) What you’ll notice when exploring the world of raw foods is that all of the ingredients are plant-based. No animal flesh or byproducts involved.
Some of the most popular ingredients in raw foods come from the sea, as well as the land, and you’ll never believe what incredible dishes you can “cook” up.
Collard greens are put to work as wonderful wraps that hold lentils and green split peas, carrots, cashew sour crème, and sauerkraut. Delicious sandwiches are made with sprouted grain bread, and filled with curried almond pate, walnut spread and fresh cranberry relish. A new take on pasta includes kelp or zucchini noodles, kalamata olives, and an Alfredo sauce made with nuts, nutritional yeast, and basil. It’s almost a given that most smoothies are raw, but how does a vanilla shake sound with home made almond milk, fresh vanilla beans, and a raw vanilla ice cream made with coconut meat and cashews?
Coming to a Town Near You
The raw food movement that is sweeping across the nation, predominantly in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, is not new. Health nuts and granola crunchers have been eating raw for decades, but the majority of the population’s experience with raw fruits and vegetables has been limited to sides and garnishes of sliced carrot sticks with dip.
What if I told you that you could enjoy lasagna, pizza, burritos, nachos, and cheesecake without your food every hitting an oven, grill, or microwave? Chefs around the country are turning out gourmet meals with expertise rivaling some of the top restaurants in America. In fact, San Francisco’s Millennium, an upscale restaurant catering to high-end and high-expecting foodies, creates culinary masterpieces that you’d never expect were both vegan and raw.
Raw food has so much more going for it than a hearty helping of fruits and veggies.
Eating raw usually means that your food will be infused with a generous serving of fruits or vegetables, and everyone knows that’s a good thing. Especially if you’re trying to lose weight or heal from disease. The food we eat is not any good to us unless we can absorb its nutrients and utilize them for energy, and that is the benefit that raw enthusiasts are preaching.
Plant foods are special because they come with their own enzymes, which help us to break down and digest the food that we eat. When food is cooked and heated above 118 degrees, those vital enzymes are destroyed and we lost the ability to get much, if not all, of the nourishment from the food.
Raw flax crackers, kale chips, and crepes can all be easily made in a dehydrator, which dries the food at low temperatures, reducing moisture but retaining precious vitamins and minerals. If you’ve never tried a raw chia seed pudding with cinnamon, agave, and fresh berries on top, you’ll want to head on down to your local health food store and buy what you need to make one right away! And for those of you craving tacos and enchiladas, raw cafés have got you covered there too.
Really, the only things you’ll be missing from a menu full of raw goodies are a bunch of saturated fats, artificial colors and flavors, and pesticide-laden produce.
Anybody hungry for lunch?