Raw foods – you hear about them all the time if you visit certain cities and hang out in certain circles, but what are they? Are they healthy? Are they tasty? Is it difficult to be on a raw food diet? There are many questions to be answered, but to sum it up, raw foods are foods that haven’t been cooked above approximately 42 degrees Celsius, so as to keep the enzymes alive and they can be tasty, healthy and, of course, nakedly sexy!
Do raw foods have to be disgusting?
A few years back I took two of my friends to a raw food place in Los Angeles. I ordered a chocolate cake and they ordered a spirulina cake. It was green and tasted like…spirulina.
If you have ever tasted spirulina (algae) you know that it isn’t exactly cake material. You might use it as an undertone, but not as a main flavor. Not if you haven’t combined it very, very wisely with something else to balance it out. This place hadn’t. It tasted like spirulina, plain and simple. It took me weeks to convince my friends that raw foods can taste good.
In the raw foods movement, especially when it was just starting to catch on a few years back, a lot of people focused on healthy ingredients, rather than tasty ingredients. So-called super foods (foods that are more nutrient dense or have more antioxidants than regular foods, or simply help the body in some extraordinary way) were included in everything. Hence, the spirulina cake was born.
A few years ago there were also a lot of places that opened up that weren’t run by trained chefs – raw foods were a new field and few culinary raw food schools existed. Those that did mainly focused on raw foods for raw foodists, meaning that the foods they taught people to make appealed to someone with a raw palate.
Just like those who were brought up eating only Chinese food might find Swedish food strange, so can many people who eat only cooked foods find raw foods odd.
Many times when people make the change from eating a highly processed diet, like fast foods and unnatural sweeteners and flavoring, to a healthy whole foods diet with only natural flavors, they find that it tastes very unusual, but after eating it for a while they find that the processed foods taste strange. As humans we adjust to what we are exposed to.
With the years, as raw foods became more mainstream, many more people have gotten involved in the movement, and culinary institutes, like Matthew Kenney’s, have become more and more popular.
Traditional chefs have started developing recipes that are more suitable for the average gourmet foodie. Whilst there are still many places that make good raw food for someone who eats a mainly raw foods diet, there are also plenty of places that make it in a way that can appeal to the masses.
Raw food copy cats
I recently ate a “Whoopie Pie” at Erewhon in Los Angeles and although I enjoyed it, it tasted noth-ing like a cooked Whoopie Pie. It was definitively a Whoopie Pie for someone with a raw palate and, more to the point; it wasn’t really a Whoopie Pie. It was a double nut cookie with nut cream.
The ice cream sundae at Pure (and the take-away version at One Lucky Duck) in New York, on the other hand, tastes like an ice cream sundae (and I pay incredulous amounts of money every time I’m in town as I love that particular ice cream sundae).
Different places simply have different ideas about how to go about raw foods – some imitate cooked foods and some of those dishes taste like the cooked version, some don’t, others focus on creating unique dishes that don’t necessarily have to have a cooked equivalent.
Raw foodists vs. the rest of the world
When raw foods first started catching on, it was often (not always!) a very exclusive movement – you were either in or you were out. If you ate more than 80% raw foods you could consider yourself a raw foodist, but many times cooked foods and heaven help us all, animal products, were frowned upon.
Part of this was because some raw foodists were convinced that raw foods were the healthiest diet on the planet, others were convinced eating animals, or animal products, was wrong. Today there are still many who believe this to be the case, but they accept that other people may have a different view.
Vegans have started acknowledging that the more vegan food people eat, the better. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will stop eating animal products altogether though. Likewise, raw foodists seem more inclined to believe that the more raw foods people eat, the better for their health, even if they don’t choose to be 100% raw.
The change in perspective
Many raw foodists who were vegan have acknowledged that switching to a vegetarian raw diet has been better for them, or even essential for their children.
Another thing is that if you are 100% raw all the time and eat cooked foods, you can actually get sick, so people are a bit more lenient with eating it ever so often, so as not to get poisoned if they, at some point, taste something cooked. For many, it’s also easier to stay on a mainly raw diet if they can have some cooked foods, as it’s easier to feel deprived and fall off the bandwagon altogether if you don’t allow yourself any indulgence at all.
It has also become widely known that being 100% raw is difficult for your social life as you can eat and drink very few of the things offered in restaurants and at friends’. However, if you live in Los Angeles and certain other places it is easier as more people follow a raw food diet. Many raw foodists feel fine with the 80-20 rule though and happily eat whole foods on various occasions.
As curiosity peaked around raw foods and the dogma disappeared, more and more raw restaurants or restaurants offering raw items on the menu open up, so a lot of people try them out and start incorporating raw foods into their diet.
Diet debates about raw foods
Many people eat raw foods because they believe it’s the healthiest diet. Others argue that eating a little bit of cooked foods with the raw foods is better, as it seems some people actually get sick or lethargic from eating only raw foods. This could be because they don’t know how to balance their diet properly or because their body can’t handle it. No one really knows.
What remains true for most though is that in the beginning, switching to eating a mainly raw foods diet seems to leave people feeling more energized and happier (after about two to four weeks of feeling weird when the body is adjusting and, presumably, detoxing).
The problem is likely to occur if a person keeps eating only raw foods and doesn’t get the balance right, leading the body to become depleted of certain nutrients. The downturn can also be because if you eat raw foods only, you become extremely sensitive to chemicals. Your body is clean so it finds it harder to deal with toxins.
Just like an alcoholic can drink a lot more than the average person, so can a person eating small amounts of toxins withstand them better. A raw foodie can literally get high on eating cacao if he or she doesn’t eat it every day, as the body is so sensitive to stimulants.
Another thing you should know is that if you eat only raw foods, chances are you will experience something akin to euphoria. Many raw foodists report this feeling, which, they say, feels spiritual. This is also the reason some stay on a 100% raw diet.
Often, in the midst of this debate of “raw or not” a few other debates erupt. One is the previously mentioned vegan-vegetarian-pescatarian-omnivore diet debate – which is the healthiest?
The other is the high protein and/or fat diet vs. the high carb diet. In there somewhere is also often mentioned the eating right for your blood type diet and the eating right for your metabolism diet (i.e. don’t mix fruit with other foods, nor carbs with protein as it’s easier for the body to break down various food groups on their own).
Dairy and gluten are also heavily debated in the midst of all this and the Paleo and GAPS diets often mentioned. Then to top it off, some people argue we have adapted through the years to certain foods and you should stick to what your personal ancestors ate.
An eskimo who is used to living off something like 80% whale meat may not fare well on a vegetarian diet. Like-wise, something like 70% of Scandinavians can break down cow’s milk properly, as opposed to about 30% of Americans (if I understood it right).
Diet and how it affects life expectancy
One day, out of curiosity, when I was being overwhelmed with conflicting ideas about what to eat and what not to eat, I started googling average life expectancy to see if it was lower or higher de-pending on a high meat vs. a big carb (especially grains) intake. I was also curious to see if gluten played any role in it.
Of course, you also have to take into account exposure to chemicals and radiation, as well as civil unrest. Then there is the question of exercise and general fitness, sleep patterns, exposure to enough sunlight, alcohol consumption, smoking, sanitation, access to proper medical help, stress, DNA and a few other things; none of which I have a clue about.
What’s more, we can assume that the people who are 90 today were raised on a mainly organic diet free of processed foods, meaning what people eat today might lead to a very different life expectancy in a few years’ time. Even with these unknown variables I found it interesting to see if there could be some correla-tion between life expectancy and diet in any way.
So let’s have a look at the list of top fifteen countries for longevity:
- Monaco (Hello, French pastries!)
- Japan (sushi)
- San Marino
- Hong Kong
- Switzerland (chocolate)
- Australia (barbecues)
- Italy (pasta)
- Sweden (bread, cheese and coffee)
- France (more pastries)
Looking at the food patterns in these countries, well, none are strictly vegetarian and some have a diet high in dairy, grains and gluten. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t live even longer if they became raw foodists, vegans, or cut all grains from their diet.
I don’t know, but what I do find fascinating are the so-called Blue Zones (see Wikipedia Article) on the planet where people live the longest. These zones are Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California), Nicoya Pennisula (Costa Rica) and Icaria (Greece). Looking at common factors, the following have been found:
- Family – put ahead of other concerns
- Less smoking
- Semi-vegetarianism – except for the Sardinian diet, the majority of food consumed is derived from plants
- Constant moderate physical activity – an inseparable part of life
- Social engagement – people of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities
- Legumes – commonly consumed
- Geographical Area
We can also conclude that they probably don’t sit around eating pastries all day long and that their diet is made up of unprocessed foods, i.e. whole foods rather than chemically prone fast foods.
Another thing to bear in mind is that they are likely to make time for nice meals, many of which are social. That’s a far cry from grabbing a sandwich on the go. So maybe we can assume they enjoy their food more? That could be a contribution to health. Especially if you believe your thoughts are connected to your wellbeing.
If you want to learn more about the Blue Zones, check out Dan Buettner’s work on the Blue Zones on his Wikipedia page and the Wikipedia page for an AARP/Blue Zones project in Albert Lea.
My personal view on the matter
I think that whole foods, especially the ones that come from organic farms, are healthier than processed foods and that incorporating a lot of vegetables and a fair amount of raw foods is healthy. Then add a bit of protein, whether it’s dairy, eggs, nuts, legumes, fish, or meat.
Some fats are needed too, like cold pressed oils, coconut oil (apparently great to prevent Alzheimer’s according to some recent research), fish oils, butter and cream, some fruit and berries. If you want, you can have some carbs in the form of starchy veg or whole grains of your choosing. And, last, but not least, ENJOY your food.
Incorporating raw foods as well as cooked veggies into your diet can be fun and tasty, if done right. You don’t have to switch your entire diet up either – rather just add dishes you find you enjoy and then, if you feel so inclined, you can increase the amount.
I always say that if you love french fries, well then, you don’t have to give them up, but rather than eating them once a day, eat them once a month. Make processed foods a treat, rather than a diet.
A note of warning
Although raw foods are considered healthy, overdosing on fruits, seeds, nuts, raw sweeteners, or fats, might not be. Especially if you are still eating cooked foods as well, as the body processes cal-ories differently when the food is cooked, so chances are you are getting enough calories, whereas raw foodists fight to get enough calories and therefore need to eat more fats, nuts or fruits.
It’s also essential, as always, to have a balanced diet. You need protein, fats and carbs (when people talk about no carb diets, they still eat plenty of vegetables containing carbs, they just avoid the vegetables and grains that contain a lot of it, like carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn and grains in general, apart from quinoa, which isn’t a grain although used as such).
You might also need supplements – many people eat vitamins, omegas and probiotics, whether they eat mainly raw foods or not.
A lot of people develop dental problems if they sip a lot of juices, enjoy too much lemon water, eat a lot of fruit and berries, or drink a lot of smoothies. When indulging in those things, eat or drink fairly quickly and rinse your mouth and gently brush your teeth afterwards (brushing hard will ruin your teeth as well).
The simple ways to incorporate raw foods
- Have a green juice or smoothie in the morning (and then a breakfast snack a few hours later)
- Switch regular cheese for raw cheese, preferably grass-fed (unless you are pregnant)
- Use raw honey or raw agave syrup in your coffee, tea or chocolate instead of regular sugar (or stevia if you have problems with blood sugar, although the taste is peculiar)
- Have a small salad as a starter before every meal
- Swap whatever you are having for lunch for a big salad
- If you eat meats, start eating meats that are rare such as sashimi, gravad lax, or capriccio, as well as seared meats such as tuna, beef and duck
- Switch to a raw protein powder and raw protein bars
- Eat one fruit a day as a snack
- Buy raw chocolate
- Learn to make a few raw desserts and exchange regular treats for raw ice cream, raw chocolate mousse, raw chocolate truffles (blend raw cacao with virgin coconut oil and raw agave or honey) or raw cheesecake
- Instead of peanut butter, use raw nut butters (blend them yourself with a high powered blender, or buy them from natural food stores)
- Have raw instead of cooked snacks, such as crudités and a dip, raw nuts, or raw salad wraps
- Switch your regular bread to sprouted bread (although not raw, at least it was sprouted first).
- If you use a lot of milk, try substituting it sometimes for nut milks, like almond or coconut milk, as well as goat’s milk.
- Fry with coconut oil rather than butter.
- Eat mainly whole grains (i.e. whole grain rather than white breads, rice or white pasta, etc.).
- Try substituting the flours you use when baking for almond and coconut flour in some dishes (check out Paleo blogs for many wheat free recipes) or use gluten free oat flour, as well as buckwheat and quinoa flour.
- Avoid all unnatural preservatives and colorants .
- Use different sweeteners such as raw agave syrup, maple syrup, raw honey, stevia, coconut sugar and, in small amounts, raw cane sugar rather than refined white sugar. If you are worried about blood sugar try stevia and xylithol, but I should warn you that xylitol can cause diarrhea and although naturally occurring in wood, corn and many other plants, when you eat it as a sugar, you get a lot more than you would in its natural form.
- Add some steamed veggies as a side to every meal, you can season them with herbal salt, oil and garlic if you like
An easy raw breakfast
Do you like smoothies? In that case you are in for a treat. An easy way to incorporate raw fruit, veggies and berries into your diet is a smoothie. Here’s how to make a great smoothie:
- Pick you base – bananas, frozen mangoes or the meat of young coconuts make for a nice, creamy base.
- Add some berries – add berries of your choosing to create a nice flavor and to add antioxidants.
- Add a handful of greens – curly kale and spinach add very little taste, but a lot of nutrients. Only add a little bit of kale because too much raw kale is not good for you as it affects your thyroid gland. If you have thyroid problems or want to add a bit more, steam it first. You can’t leave a smoothie with greens in it for very long as it will “coagulate” – i.e. it changes in consistency, making it more jelly like.
- Add a protein powder – if you’d like, add a protein powder for extra energy. I love Sun Warriors raw protein blend. Make sure you pick one without sugar! Sometimes I add finely ground almond flour as well, or instead of protein powder.
- Add milk or yoghurt, sour milk or kefir – if you like getting some friendly bacteria, this is the time. Add some yoghurt, kefir or sour milk of your choice (if it’s soy make sure it’s organic). If you choose milk you can make your own nut milk by soaking nuts over night (almonds and cashews are popular) and then blending them in a high speed blender and using a cheese cloth to get rid of any pieces. You can also buy non-raw and raw nut milks in the shops (watch out for added sugar). Raw dairy milk is available, but make sure you know the source is safe and don’t drink it if you are pregnant.
- Blend it! Many raw foodies use a Vitamix or Blendtec. You can read more about those and the cheapest options here. The reason they use high powered blenders is because you can make your own nut flours, nut milks, soups and various treats, such as raw cheesecake easier. Unlike a normal smoothie maker they can grind dry foods and unlike a regular blender they can powderize things.
If you want a smoothie that’s a bit of a treat and you have a Vitamix or something similar, blend together the white meat of a young coconut with some of the coconut water, add berries and a bit of raw honey, agave, or maple syrup. Or mix the coconut meat and some of the water with pineapple and a banana to make a virgin Pina colada.
I find that a smoothie, even with protein powder in it, only lasts so long. Within two hours I’m, in-variably, hungry.
At this point, if you want to keep it raw, have some raw granola (available at Whole Foods amongst lose weight foods) with nut milk or yoghurt, or a sandwich made with sprouted bread – I like the type that’s still very gooey in the middle, but there are regular versions as well that are dry (available at Whole Foods and health food stores) – and either raw nut butter, raw cheese (unless you are pregnant) or avocado mixed with lemon and herbal salt.
You could, alternatively, have some chia seed pudding or a raw sandwich wrap (using salad as the “bread”).
Some of my favorite raw drinks to incorporate
I like drinking copious amounts of herbal tea at any given point of the day (which aren’t raw, but are still good for you), and sometimes, before drinking or eating anything I have some warm lemon water to cleanse the body, but I can’t deny, I also love chocolate and coffee.
You can make a coffee or chocolate smoothie using young coconut flesh, nut milk (frozen into ice cubes if you want it really cool), your choice of sweetener (raw honey, raw agave syrup, coconut sugar, or xylithol) and either some raw cacao or cold brewed coffee (or both for a mocha!). If you have a high speed blender you can add some soaked nuts to get more fat and protein as well, and if it’s a less powerful blender, some nut butter or almond flour.
If you want to keep it simple, use cold brewed coffee or raw cacao and mix it with your choice of raw nut milk. If you like cream on top, you can put a can of coconut milk or cream in the fridge overnight and whip what becomes the solid part that forms on top. Note that it melts very easily. If you want to make it strictly raw, there are recipes online for raw cream made with soaked cashews and young coconut meat.
Some health freaks have taken to putting a teaspoon of grass fed cows butter and/or virgin coconut oil in their coffee or chocolate if they heat it. When I do that, I find that the energy I get lasts for a long time. You can also add antioxidants and flavor by sprinkling it with cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg. Cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar, which is great, but even a teaspoon a day can be poisonous for the body, so don’t use it all the time!
Many raw foodies also have a green juice during the day – an easy one would be carrot, celery, apple and ginger with a bit of spinach and a tiny amount of kale or cabbage of some sort.
Easy raw snacks
Snacking is easy with raw foods!
First of all, there’s the simple answer to snacking: some raw nuts and seeds are super simple to carry around and snack on. If you want something a bit more filling, instead of having a regular wrap, have a salad or kale wrap! Simply exchange the bread for a leaf of salad or kale.
I love putting thin sticks/slices of cucumber and carrot with a stick of raw cheese, rolling it all up and eating it. You could put some gravad lax (marinated, raw, salmon), cucumber and green melon in there instead. Or if you eat meat, why not put in some raw corn, tomato, cooked chicken and mayo? Your imagina-tion is really the limit here.
If you are a fan of tzatziki and other yoghurt dips, hummus, baba ganoush and dips in general, you can cut up some carrots, cucumber, pepper and cauliflower and dip them in your choice of dip.
Raw protein bars are readily available, just watch out because some contain so much dried fruit it’s a sugar bomb!
If you make a batch of chia seed pudding with almond milk, coconut cream, mango, cacao or berries and maybe some nuts for decoration, it’s easy to pack small portions to bring with you. (See recipes further down. You can also buy it at Whole Foods and other stores to go.)
Of course, you can also snack on fruit; just remember to be careful with your teeth and blood sugar. Fruit is healthy, so having it once a day in a smoothie and once as a snack is fine, but making it the staple of your diet is probably not. Some suggest you process sugar differently if you eat ONLY raw foods, but most don’t do that, and I don’t know if there is any science at all to back this up.
List of great sources for recipes
The following blogs have great recipes and great photos:
- The Alkaline Sisters
- The First Mess
- This Rawsome Vegan Life
- Gourmande in the Kitchen
- Naturally Ella
- Earth Sprout
- Raw Food Recipes (go to the Chef’s section and you will find a whole load of links to websites!)
Recipes I have singled out just for you
Later in the text, I have included a few breakfasts, lunches, desserts and snacks that are easy to make and come from bloggers who have a knack for creating tempting photos. And no, there are no spirulina cakes, guaranteed.
1. Berry acai breakfast bowl by Gourmande in the Kitchen
For the bowl:
- 1 large medjool date, pitted and soaked in warm water until soft
- ½ cup/120ml coconut milk (either light or regular )
- 1 Tablespoon/12g chia seeds
- 1 or 2 brazil nuts
- 1 small raw beet, peeled and finely chopped (or grated if you don’t have a high speed blender)
- ½ cup/75g frozen mixed berries (I like a blend of raspberries and blueberries)
- 1 3.5oz/100g package of %100 frozen acai , run under warm water to thaw slightly
For the toppings:
- 1 Tablespoon/5g unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 Tablespoon/10g hemps seeds
- Sliced fresh fruit and berries
- Start by soaking the medjool date while you prepare, peel and chop or grate the beet.
- Place the coconut milk, chia seeds, brazil nuts and drained soaked date in the blender and blend on high until smooth.
- Add the chopped or grated beet, frozen mixed berries and slightly thawed acai packet. Blend on high, scraping down sides as necessary until thick and smooth.
- Serve immediately in shallow bowls with toppings or as a smoothie in a tall glass. Alternatively, you can prepare the bowl ahead and keep it covered without the topping in the fridge overnight.
Gluten-free, grain-free, vegetarian, vegan, raw, paleo
2. Raw raspberry and vanilla chia seed Pudding by The First Mess
I love eating this for breakfast with lots of fresh fruit. Stir a handful of oats in there and you’ve got yourself a fairly hearty morning meal. Also, this pudding evokes that slippery tapioca-like quality that is either love or hate. Just keep that in mind :)
Serves: 5-6 cups (a whole lot)
- 1 cup raw almonds, soaked at least 5 hours
- 4 cups filtered water
- 2 cups fresh raspberries (or thawed, frozen ones)
- ½ cup raw agave nectar/maple syrup/raw honey/etc.
- 2 tbsp soft extra virgin coconut oil
- 1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup chia seeds (white or black)
- Combine the soaked almonds, 4 cups of water, raspberries, agave nectar, coconut oil, vanilla ex-tract and salt in a blender pitcher. Blend mixture on medium-high speed for 1 minute, until liquefied.
- Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve (or nut milk bag if you have one) into a medium-large bowl. At this point you will have sweet, rich, raspberry flavored almond milk, essentially.
- Place the chia seeds into another large bowl. Pour the raspberry almond milk on top slowly. Whisk vigorously to combine and prevent clumping of the chia seeds.
- Allow the mixture to sit for a good hour so that the chia seeds can do their thing and thicken up the mixture to a pudding consistency. I find that the taste and texture are really great after an overnight soak in the fridge. Whisk it up here and there to further prevent clumping of the seeds.
- Serve pudding with fresh raspberries, shredded coconut, chopped almonds, cacao nibs or anything else you like on top.
- Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge.
3. Drink your greens smoothie by Gourmande in the Kitchen
For the smoothie:
- 1 cup/150 g fresh or frozen pineapple
- 3 to 4 large kale leaves preferably Lacinato also known as dinosaur kale (spine and stems re-moved and torn into pieces)
- 3 large chard leaves (spine and stems removed and torn into pieces)
- 1 handful of flat parsley, stems removed
- The juice of ½ a lemon
- 1 cup/240ml coconut milk (you can use light or regular coconut milk)
- 1/2 cup/120g ice
Optional smoothie boosts:
- For Extra Fiber: 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
- For Extra Protein: 1 scoop of your favorite unflavored protein powder or
- 2 Tablespoons hemp seeds or
- 1 Tablespoon of collagen powder
- For Extra Energy: 1 teaspoon of matcha green tea
- Combine all ingredients, including whichever smoothie boosts you are using in a blender, and blend on high until creamy and smooth.
- Serve immediately.
Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo
4. Orange chia seed breakfast pudding by Rawmazing
- 1/4 cup almonds, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup water
- 3 dates, softened with pits removed
- 3 oranges
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- Granola for topping if desired (from Raw Transitions)
- Place almonds and water in high-speed blender. Process until well blended.
- Remove to nut milk bag and strain.
- Place almond milk back in blender with dates. Blend until very smooth.
- Remove the zest from one orange and add to the almond milk date mixture. Segment the insides of the orange and set aside.
- Juice the two remaining oranges. Add juice (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup) to the almond milk and zest. Stir.
- Add chia seeds, stir. Let set for 20 minutes.
- Stir in orange sections that you set aside.
5. Cinnamon and fruit chia pudding by Rawmazing
Makes 4 servings.
Ingredients for cashew cream
- 2 cups cashews, soaked overnight in the refrigerator
- 2 cups water, filtered
- Drain and rinse cashews.
- Combine with filtered water in blender (I used a high speed blender) and blend until smooth.
Ingredients for pudding
- 1 3/4 cups cashew cream
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 cup agave
- teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup strawberries, sliced
- 1 cup blueberries
- Mix cashew cream, chia seeds, agave, vanilla and cinnamon together. Set aside.
- Slice strawberries.
- When chia pudding has thickened up (about 5-10 minutes) stir in sliced strawberries and blueberries.
- Keep refrigerated.
6. Banana pineapple green drink by Rawmazing
- 1 cup frozen banana*
- 1 cup frozen pineapple*
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup water
- Blend in high-speed blender until smooth.
*You can use fresh bananas and pineapple but I would add some ice then.
Lunch and dinner recipes
1. Walnut orange thyme salad with balsamic glazed beets and spiced walnuts by Rawmazing
This salad comes together quite quickly. You just need to plan a little ahead for the walnuts and beets. I did them in the dehydrator but if you are really careful, you can do them in the oven. Just know they won’t be raw.
Ingredients for the spiced walnuts
- 1 cup walnuts*
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- coarse ground Himalayan salt and pepper (fresh ground, coarse)
* These walnuts are used dry. You can soak and dehydrate your nuts if you want to eliminate the enzyme inhibitors.
- Mix together honey, maple syrup, salt, pepper and orange zest.
- Toss with walnuts and dehydrate at 118 degrees for 4-6 hours or until dry.
Ingredients for the glazed beets
- 2 beets, diced
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
- Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
- Mix together vinegar, oil and maple syrup. Add beets and marinate for a few hours or overnight.
- Spread on dehydrator sheet; dehydrate at 118 for 2-3 hours. Do not over dehydrate.
Ingredients for the orange thyme walnut dressing
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon diced shallot
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- Blend together orange juice, lemon juice, shallot, walnuts and thyme.
- With blender running, slowly pour in olive oil until the dressing thickens.
Ingredients for the salad
- 1 orange
- 4-6 cups mixed greens
- orange thyme dressing
- glazed beets
- spiced walnuts
- Supreme orange (remove membranes) and cut each segment into quarters.
- Toss greens with dressing to desired coating.
- Top with walnuts and beets.
2. Carrot noodles with “peanut” sauce by Rawmazing
Ingredients for the sauce
- 1/2 cup raw almond butter (recipe here)
- 3/4 cup coconut meat from young Thai coconut
- 1/4 cup coconut water from young Thai coconut
- 1 tablespoon nama shoyu or gluten free tamari
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup*
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 lime, juice from
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- pinch Himalayan Salt
*Not raw but used in many raw food recipes.
- Place coconut meat and coconut water in high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Add almond butter, nama shoyu, maple syrup and ginger, sesame oil, and lime juice. Blend until smooth.
- Add garlic, chili flakes and Himalayan salt. Pulse briefly to blend.
- Pour over carrot noodle mixture and mix well.
Ingredients for the noodles
- 4 large carrots, finely sliced (I used my wonderful Mandoline to do this!)
- 1 cup snow pea pods, chopped
- 3 scallions, sliced
- Mix all ingredients together.
3. Raw kale, cabbage and carrot chopped salad with maple sesame vinaigrette by Gourmande in the Kitchen
Ingredients for the dressing
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or unsweetened rice wine vinegar if not grain free)
- 1 Tablespoons real maple syrup (preferably grade B)
- 1 Tablespoon gluten free soy sauce (or coconut aminos for a soy free alternative)
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
Ingredients for the salad
- 1 small bunch lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan kale)
- 1 small head (or half of a larger head) of Napa cabbage, shredded
- 1 baby bok choy, thinly sliced
- 4 carrots, shaved into long strips with a peeler
- 2 Tablespoons hemp seeds (or toasted sesame seeds)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
Make the dressing:
- In a small bowl, whisk 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil, the sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce and minced garlic.
Make the salad:
- Strip the stems from the kale leaves and roll the leaves in a chiffonade to slice into very thin strips.
- In a large bowl combine the kale and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Lightly massage the kale leaves with your hands until the leaves soften and begin to wilt (about 30 to 60 seconds).
- Place in large serving bowl and add the shredded cabbage, bok choy, carrots and dressing tossing well to coat. Let the salad stand for 10 minutes to marinate.
- Top with hemp seeds or toasted sesame seeds and season with freshly ground pepper to taste if desired, and serve.
Gluten free, grain free, vegetarian
4. Daikon rolls with cilantro pumpkin seed pesto (raw, vegan, paleo) by Gourmande in the Kitchen
Note: this is more of an appetizer, but it can form part of a tapas like meal
- 1/2 cup/56g raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sprouted
- ½ a large bunch or 1 small bunch of cilantro, stems removed
- 1 to 2 small green onions
- 2 Tablespoons/30ml extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 Tablespoon/ 15ml freshly squeezed lime juice (plus more lime to serve)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 daikon radishes, peeled and sliced lengthwise into long thin strips on a mandolin
- ½ an English cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into batons
- ½ an avocado, thinly sliced (optional)
- A handful of sprouts or microgreens (like radish or broccoli), rinsed and gently patted dried
- Pulse the pumpkin seeds, cilantro, green onions and ½ teaspoon salt in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
- With machine running, gradually add the olive oil and lime juice, scraping down the sides as necessary, blending until a coarse purée forms, and adding a teaspoon or two of water as necessary to create a spreadable paste.
- Season pesto to taste with additional salt and freshly ground pepper if desired.
- Spread a small amount of the pesto mixture along the inside of the daikon slice. Top the large edge closest to you with the cucumber batons, avocado slices and sprouts.
- Roll the daikon tightly away from you and place seam side down on a plate. Place a weighted plate on top to hold the rolls down while you finish the rest. (You can also use a toothpick to hold the rolls together.)
- Repeat with the rest of the slices and serve immediately sprinkled with an extra pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime if desired.
Gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, raw, paleo
5. Zucchini noodles with caper olive sauce and fresh tomatoes by Gourmande in the Kitchen
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 Tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed (plus more to top)
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
- 10-15 kalamata olives , pitted (plus more to top)
- 2 Tablespoons/30ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 8oz/ 227g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 small handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn or cut into ribbons
- 4 to 5 large zucchini, ends trimmed
- The juice of half a lemon
- Place the garlic, capers, salt, red pepper flakes and olives on a cutting board and run a chef’s knife through a few times, then mash with the flat side of the knife to make a chunky paste similar to tapenade.
- Transfer to a large bowl and add the olive oil, tomatoes, and basil. Set aside to marinate for at least 10-15 minutes.
- In the meantime prepare the zucchini noodles
- Using a spiralizer or julienne peeler, create long strips of zucchini noodles. Toss the noodles with the lemon juice and add to the tomato mixture.
- Toss gently and serve with additional capers, olives and basil on top if desired.
Gluten-free, grain-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, raw
6. Raw nori wraps with red cabbage, cucumber, carrots, zucchini and spicy dipping sauce by This Rawsome Vegan Life
Ingredients for the wraps
- 1/2 head red cabbage
- 1 carrot
- 1 small zucchini
- 1/2 cucumber
- 2 kale leaves
- 1 avocado
- 3-4 nori sheets and/or rice paper sheets
Ingredients for the sauce
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- Chili powder, to taste
- 1 tablespoon miso
- 2 dates
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 small garlic clove
- Water, as needed to make it creamy and smooth
- Make the sauce by blending all the ingredients together until smooth. Now make your wraps: shred the veggies thinly on a mandolin, but chop the cucumber by hand.
- Tear up the kale leaves and slice the avocado.
- Lay your desired fillings on one side of your nori sheet, and on the opposite side, spread a little sauce to seal the ends together when you roll it up.
- Roll everything up tight and set aside.
- If you’re using rice paper, dip the paper in hot water until it’s pliable, and then place everything you want in the middle. Wrap up like a burrito.
- Dip your wraps in your sauce and get this party started
1. Carrot cake with cashew cream cheese frosting, pistachios and walnuts by This Rawsome Vegan Life:
Ingredients for the cashew frosting
- 2 cups cashews, preferably soaked for a couple hours
- 1-2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- Water, as needed
Ingredients for the cake
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 1 1/2 cups oat flour or buckwheat flour
- 1 cup dates
- 1 cup dried pineapple (or more dates)
- 1/2 cup dried coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Blend all ingredients in your high speed blender until smooth, adding as little water as possible.
- Taste it – mmm.
- Put in a bowl and set aside.
- Cut the carrots into small chunks.
- Throw all the ingredients (including the carrots) in your food processor and pulse until it’s all in really small pieces and sticks together.
- Assembly: Press half the cake mix into the bottom of an adjustable spring-form pan, mine was about 6 inches.
- Spread on about 1/3 of the frosting.
- Put it in the freezer until the layer of frosting is hard.
- Press on the rest of the cake mix. I let it set in the fridge overnight then frosted the whole thing, but you can do it right away if you want.
- Take it out of the pan and use the remaining frosting, cover with whatever garnishes you like.
2. No-Bake chocolate fudge fridge cake (raw, vegan, paleo) by Gourmande in the Kitchen
- ¾ cup/180g coconut oil
- ½ cup coconut butter
- 1/2 cup /60g cacao powder for raw or natural un-dutched cocoa powder, if not, sifted
- ½ cup/120ml maple syrup
- Pinch of fine sea salt or Himalayan salt
- 1/3 cup/17g freeze dried raspberries or other freeze dried berries
- ¼ cup/28g soaked and dehydrated raw almonds for raw or roasted almonds, if not, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons/20g cacao nibs
- Extra cacao powder for raw or natural un-dutched cocoa powder if not for dusting tops
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, set aside.
- Set the coconut oil and coconut butter in a medium bowl placed into a larger one filled a quarter of the way up with hot water. Stir until both are fully liquid and melted.
- Whisk in the sifted cacao powder until smooth and well incorporated.
- Whisk in the maple syrup and a pinch of salt until fully combined.
- Mix in the freeze dried raspberries, chopped almonds and cacao nibs.
- Pour into parchment-lined loaf pan. Let set up in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Cut into desired sized pieces and dust with additional cacao powder before serving.
Gluten-free, grain-free, raw, vegan, paleo
I hope you found some clarity regarding what raw foods are and how to best incorporate them into your diet. It’s a healthy choice and it will hopefully leave you more invigorated and excited about life – diet does a lot for our state of mind.
More than anything, I hope this article has put you at ease about your choice of diet and cured any fear or superstition you might have harbored towards raw foods or the raw foods movement – it’s filed with brilliant people trying to make a difference. If you have any further questions, please just tweet me, or leave comments, and I will do my best to find the answers you are looking for!