Raw Food For Dummies
Eating a raw food diet means consuming fresh, nutrient-rich plant foods that have not been heat processed. When foods are cooked, much of their important disease-preventing nutrients are lost. Conversely, a raw diet provides you with a greater degree of health and vitality, slows aging, and promotes healing. By making the majority of your diet healthy raw foods and avoiding unhealthy alternatives, you can improve your health and reduce your risks of suffering from a degenerative disease. Getting started with this nutritious lifestyle is easy.
Raw Food Staples to Keep on Hand
With a bit of planning and preparation, you can enjoy the health benefits and culinary rewards of raw food any time. To make mealtime a snap, here's a list of raw foods to keep stocked:
Versatile fruits such as blueberries, oranges, bananas, and avocados
Fresh, in-season vegetables
Leafy greens, including kale, spinach, cabbage, and romaine lettuce
Soaked raw nuts and seeds
Sprouted or steamed gluten-free grains such as quinoa, millet, and buckwheat
Sprouted or cooked legumes, including lentils, peas, chickpeas, and beans
Probiotic-rich foods such as raw sauerkraut, miso, and raw yogurt
Getting Proper Nutrition on a Raw Food Diet
When you start transitioning to a raw food diet, knowing what to eat can be tough. Be adventurous and try new things, but also be sure to follow these eating tips to ensure you get proper nutrition:
Eat a wide variety of fresh, ripe, raw, organic fruits and vegetables.
Consume all the colors of the rainbow to get a full spectrum of nutrients.
Make nutrient powerhouse green foods the largest portion of your diet.
Consume a variety of raw nuts and seeds in moderation.
Include foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Minimize fried foods, saturated fats, and oils.
Soak and sprout nuts, seeds, and legumes before eating them.
Choose organic whenever possible to minimize chemical residues.
Minimize or eliminate meat and dairy products from your diet.
Reduce sweets and concentrated sweeteners, like white sugar, corn syrup, evaporated cane sugar, and sugary drinks such as soda, candy, and desserts made with sugar.
Use only a moderate amount of salt.
Choose gluten-free grains such as quinoa, millet, amaranth, and buckwheat.
Supplement with vitamin B12.
Supplement with vitamin D if you aren't getting enough sunshine.
Surprising Natural Foods to Avoid on a Raw Food Diet
When you hear the words raw food diet, you probably correctly assume that it doesn't include fried, roasted, baked, or grilled foods. You may also realize that most raw foodists avoid highly processed, sugary, salty, and oily foods. But that's not the whole story.
Here are a few more foods that may appear healthy at first glance but don't measure up to raw standards:
Roasted nuts and seeds: Select raw varieties of seeds and nuts to avoid free-radical damage to your cells. Soak these foods before eating them to enjoy maximum nutrition.
Soy foods: Common allergens often hidden in prepared foods like veggie burgers and soy meat analogs (fake meat) can be replaced in burgers and meat substitutes using soaked nuts, mushrooms, and root vegetables.
Wheat (except wheat grass), breads, pastries, pastas, and "wheat meats" (seitan): Use sprouted grains, soaked nuts, and vegetables such as zucchini to make breads, crackers, and even pasta.
Vinegar: Use citrus juice and other acid fruits in dressings, marinades, and sauces in place of vinegar, which can cause digestive problems.
Honey: Using agave nectar, date paste, or coconut syrup is a better option for small children and others with immune system challenges.
Refined sugar: Use dates or other dried fruit, agave nectar, coconut sugar, or stevia instead to keep your blood sugar at healthier levels.
Iodized salt: Use Himalayan crystal salt and avoid chemical additives.
Keeping to Raw Foods when Traveling and Socializing
Maintaining a raw lifestyle away from home may seem daunting at first. By planning ahead and packing some of your own ingredients to enhance the raw offerings available at your destination, you can ensure that you have a healthy and satisfying meal just about anywhere. Pack these items when you're eating raw on the road, at a friend's, or at other away-from-home places:
Raw seeds and nuts
Raw bread, flax crackers, or croutons
Favorite herbs and spices
Vegetarian-formula nutritional yeast
Himalayan crystal salt
Sweetener such as agave nectar or coconut sugar
Flavored organic extra-virgin oil or favorite dressing in a small jar
How to Introduce Raw Food to Friends and Family
You may find that your friends and family are a little reluctant to try raw foods. By considering these do's and don'ts, you can reduce their anxiety about how your new lifestyle may impact them:
Don't be preachy or pushy! An aggressive attitude doesn't win friends or influence people. Instead, offer your family and guests delicious raw foods that you know they'll love and let them open the door and ask questions if they're interested in knowing the why and what of raw food.
Prepare recipes that include familiar and favorite foods. Rather than forcing your food choices on others, make foods for others that you know they like. (Who doesn't love fresh salsa and guacamole or fresh veggies and dip?) If the raw options are delicious and you can avoid judging others on what they're eating, you may find that your family and friends are willing to try the new foods you prepare.
Introduce delicious green smoothies and juices. Nutrient-packed smoothies and juices are delicious raw options for newbies. It's tough to argue the convenience of getting vital vitamins and minerals from these quick and easy treats — no matter how much raw a person chooses to consume each day. Even kids often enjoy making and consuming raw smoothies and juices.
Make an irresistible raw dessert or treat every week. Choose a raw version of a traditional sweet treat that your family enjoys and invite the kids to help make it. Raw desserts are remarkably delicious because they're prepared with fresh whole ingredients.
Get your family involved in the kitchen. Encourage others to help you prepare raw meals. People of almost all ages and cooking abilities can peel vegetables, decorate the table, and help choose menu items, and your family is more likely to enjoy eating a raw meal if they've helped make it.