Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What is raw food?


I recently realized (merci Clémence!) that though I've now mentioned it a few times, I never actually specified what a raw food diet is, or more importantly, what the raw food diet means to me. In the simplest of terms choosing a diet in raw and living foods is choosing to primarily eat uncooked vegan foods combined in ways to be the healthiest, most digestible and tastiest meals!

When you aren’t simply eating fruits and veggies straight up or in the form of salads, ‘cooking’ raw foods involves nothing more than sprouting grains and seeds, soaking, dehydrating, refrigerating (to solidify snacks and desserts), etc. Like I discovered with veganism, there is nothing you can’t turn into a raw recipe! I’ve seen it all: raw pizzas, cookies, ice cream, pasta, and more.

Cooking-wise, raw foodism is in part based on the idea that heating food above 116 degrees F destroys essential enzymes and nutrients that assist in the digestion and absorption of food. In hippie terms (which I believe in), you are eliminating the ‘life force’ of food by cooking it.

What do I eat? To me, it’s not a matter of what I CAN eat but what I CHOOSE to eat. I don’t like saying any lifestyle I adopt is a restriction. Rather, it’s part of a journey that allows me to discover new foods and new ways of cooking, or in this case, un-cooking! And whose to say the raw vegan diet is boring? What are considered normal foods to a healthy vegan or a raw foodist have never even been heard of by your average person on a SAD (the Standard American Diet): have you ever heard of maca powder, spirulina, goji berries, white mulberries, hemp seeds, agave nectar, carob, or acai?

Things I eat include all kinds of fruit and veggies (both fresh and dried), sprouted grains (I only ever eat these for breakfast), a million types of seaweed (which I’ve always been addicted to), nuts, nut butters, seeds, legumes (they make me feel bloated so I don’t really eat these), waters, teas, etc. Because of my veganism for environmental and health reasons, I've chosen not to incorporate the raw unpasteurized cheeses and other dairy products some people include (though they do look pretty yummy!). With these foods I’ve still been able to spend tons of time in the kitchen, making appetizers, dips, cookies, pies, sushi, juices, smoothies, ice creams, salads and lots of other things people say you can’t make with raw food. When it comes to the kitchen, I don't believe in such a thing as 'I can't'! In fact, experimenting with raw food has only made me think about my food even more and has reinforced my non-recipe book-based creativity!

In only one month of being 80% raw, and about two weeks of being almost 100% raw, I’ve already noticed drastic improvements in my skin, my digestion, weight maintenance (and loss), and overall, I know I’m doing wonders to my health both right now and for the very long term! So next up, my first recorded raw ‘recipe’.

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