Last weekend we went on a “Raw Food Cookery Course” in London. To be honest, I had little idea of what this involved but went with an open mind. The weekend objective was to make a Pizza with just raw food and no cooking.
This seemed to be a contradiction in terms.
To cut a long story short: we went, we made the Pizza and it was bloody delicious.
In order to make sense of what happened, here are some of my reflections mixed in with a bit of research for anyone who gives a shit….
What is a raw food diet?
Raw food is a diet of mainly unheated food or food cooked to a temperature of less than 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius) some chefs suggest a benchmark of less than 40 degrees Celsius.
Below this temperature, nutrients are not destroyed. Above this temperature nutrients and enzymes are destroyed
Raw food is alive, full enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
Besides being mostly uncooked food it is also unprocessed and should be organic..
The diet should be made up mostly of fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouts and vegetables. To be healthy you don’t have to be 100% raw but if you want to try fully raw (even for 30 days), the best results are seen in those who follow this low fat approach.
What is raw vegan food?
It is raw food that excludes not only meat and fish, but also dairy products, eggs and often honey, as well as other animal-derived substances. A raw vegan diet includes raw vegetables and fruits, nuts and nut pastes, grains and legume sprouts, seeds, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs, and fresh juices.
What is raw vegetarian food?
It is a raw plant-based diet with or without the inclusion of dairy products or eggs and with the exclusion of meat (red meat, poultry, seafood or animal by-products).
What are the benefits of raw food?
Eating raw foods increases your energy.
There are a few reasons for this; one is that your body doesn`t have to spend as much energy digesting your food. Raw food also contains enzymes (the first thing lost when food is heated above 40 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), which are proteins that help digestion, immune function, brain activity and energy production. Once the natural enzymes in food are destroyed, your body must then draw upon its reserves of enzymes for digestion, which takes energy and is why you feel sluggish after a meal.
Our bodies are about 90% water when we are born and reduce to about 60% water when we die. So the process of aging is closely related to dehydrating. Cooking foods dehydrates them, while raw foods maintain a high water content. Cooking food also destroys 50-80% of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Therefore, many people feel years younger when they eat raw.
Most of us are acidic from eating a diet of processed food, wheat, sugar, meat and fish. Raw foods are alkaline and help us to balance our bodies Ph.
Additional benefits of eating raw are:
- Easier digestion
- A sharper brain, less “brain fog”
- Better complexion
- A stronger immune system
- Increased energy and better sleep
- Feel Good factor
- Weight loss
The most important thing to remember in this change of lifestyle is not to just focus on raw food but also on exercise. 75% of all the good you do changing your diet and including raw will be lost if you don’t exercise.
“Raw food might reduce the risk of cancer” is also often cited by holistic advocates
PROS OF 100% RAW FOOD LIFESTYLE:
- By not eating cooked foods you’ve already eliminated 99% of common culprits that damage health, such as:
- Fried foods,
- Excess animal protein,
- Grains, wheat and gluten,
- S.G. and
- Preservatives, E. numbers and additives.
Therefore, most of the benefits of a raw food diet come from the avoidance of these products and not from the fact that the food eaten is raw.
However, there are a few benefits that are specific to the ‘rawness’ of the diet.
- Increased Energy: The main pro of the 100% low fat raw approach is a greater sense of vitality. Most people report increased energy and a better mood. You’ll also find that you need less sleep (1-2 hours) but waken up feeling fresh and ready for the day without needing that cup of coffee. This makes sense because raw foods require less energy to digest than cooked foods
- Easier to stay consistent: Eating 100% raw makes it easier to avoid going off the wagon completely! If you allow yourself some cooked vegetables, you might quickly escalate to more ‘fatty’ cooked foods and pretty soon you’re no longer eating raw.
- Better for those with an active lifestyle: This diet is considered best if you lead an active lifestyle. The stable blood sugar and high energy provided by fruit alone is great for endurance sports such as running or cycling. It is also very easy, practical and quick to “cook” a raw meal.
- Better for weight management: It’s easier to reach your ideal weight on 100% raw than on a mostly raw diet.
CONS OF 100% RAW FOOD LIFESTYLE:
- Vitamin B12 deficiency.B12 is found naturally only in animal products. It is critical to nerve and red blood cell development. Deficiencies can lead to anaemia and other issues.
- Vitamin D deficiency:people who do not eat meat or dairy products should be aware of their vitamin D intake — especially for people who live in northern Europe.
- Calcium loss:raw diets can be high in sulphur-containing amino acids – nuts and grains, for example — which can affect bone calcium.
- The Aspect of Social Isolation: On a 100% raw diet, you can’t fully participate in normal social society. Eating out with friends becomes problematic. However, this is not insurmountable.
- Increased Cost of Food:Depending on where you live, a raw foods diet costs more than any other diet especially if you’re buying plenty of fruit & super-foods (e.g. Maca powder, nori, spirulina, etc).
- Body Sensitivity:The purer your diet, the more sensitive your body becomes. Going between 100% raw and eating some cooked food even creates a lot of problems, which is why many advocate a partially raw lifestyle.
- Detrimental Dental Health:Many raw advocates experience dental problems, especially enamel erosion, caused by the frequency of exposure to fruits. So if you eat this way, a rigorous dental hygiene program is needed.
- Cravings:The raw curse, which often leads raw foodists to binge out on high fat dried fruits and nuts such as dates and macadamia.
Many advocate 100% raw as the only way to go but many also believe that this is too difficult for most people. Nowadays, we constantly come into contact with cooked foods and to refuse them continually can be challenging. It’s important to have a healthy mind as well as a healthy body and some cooked whole foods can provide additional nutrients.
If you maintain just 50% raw, you will experience a huge increase in your well-being.
To qualify as mostly raw, the diet should be 70-80% raw.
The best applications of this lifestyle are:
- Eating raw all week but allowing 1 day/week or a few times/month eating something cooked.
- Eating raw every other day.
- Eating a small cooked meal every evening but eating some raw ingredients along with it too (e.g. salad and steamed vegetables).
PROS OF MOSTLY RAW:
- More Flexibility.
- Less Sensitivity: Being less sensitive to foods means you’re less likely to get sick.
- More Variety: Research shows that having a combination of both raw and cooked vegetables is best for overall nutritional balance.
- Less Fruit Sugar: Having less reliance on fruit sugar at every meal may be a benefit to some people battling with blood sugar issues such as candida or dental problems.
- Easier in winter: Long cold winters make it difficult to stick to fully raw all year round.
- Longevity and Health: For longevity, there is no evidence that eating a 100% raw diet is better than eating a mostly raw diet
CONS OF MOSTLY RAW:
- The slippery slope: It may be hard to limit yourself to cooked foods
- Slightly less vitality: Digesting cooked foods (in comparison to 100% raw) will make you feel more tired
What you need in the kitchen!
Having the right tools in the kitchen not only makes raw food creation much simpler but also speeds up preparation time. Some kitchen equipment can be quite expensive. However, you can keep your budget low with cheaper alternatives to help start a raw food diet.
Blender: A good quality blender really helps in a raw food kitchen. If you were going to invest in one piece of equipment, let it be the blender!
If you can’t afford a deluxe models – an off the shelf regular blender can last for ages and still create raw smoothies, soups and sauces.
If you are on a budget, then look for a cheaper model with a variable speed dial rather than just an on/off switch and a high/low switch.
Food Processor: The food processor is used for chopping up dry or whole ingredients without adding more liquid whereas the blender is used to whip up ingredients with water/nut milks to create a smoother texture. A food processor will save hours of chopping time. It processes, chops and grinds nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits. It usually comes with attachments for shredding and slicing.
Juicer: Many raw food people start the day with a smoothie (using a blender) or a fresh juice. If you prefer the latter then you need a good juicer. There are several types of juicers available, which vary in their abilities, quality and price. These include:
- Centrifugal juicers – cheapest but the juice is not completely extracted so there is more waste and they have a shorter lifespan.
- Hydraulic Press Juicers – the most expensive type of juicer but does allow the maximum amount of juice to be separated from the fibre pulp
- Masticating Juicers are priced somewhere in the middle of the above two juicers. They might be heavy but they do everything from quality juicing to processing nut and seed spreads to making ice-cream! A masticating juicer is especially good at juicing green leafy vegetables. While a centrifugal juicer can juice green leafy vegetables, the centrifugal juicer is nowhere near as efficient as a masticating juicer in this regard.
Spiriliser: By far the most fun inexpensive piece of equipment to have in the kitchen is a spiraliser for making salads that not only taste good but look good too! This kitchen tool enables you to make ‘spaghetti’ shaped noodles with a variety of different hard vegetables like aubergine, beetroot, carrots, cucumber, green pepper, etc
Dehydrator: If you want to get into being really raw, the ultimate luxury kitchen tool is the dehydrator. It is the raw food oven, which allows food only to be dried at low temperatures to preserve enzymes.
Recommendations while on a raw food diet:
- Give yourself a fair trial. Start with a goal of 30, 60 or 90 days and learn from experience. See how that feels and carry on from there.
- Keep a good oral hygiene and healthy teeth.
- A great and quick snack to prepare are nuts. Soak nuts in water overnight to bring them back to life to aid digestion.
- Take Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 supplements or if you have enough time get ten to fifteen minutes of sunlight on the arms and face 2 to 3 times per week is usually sufficient time to manufacture enough vitamin D to meet one’s needs.Good Luck with that one !!!
- Raw vegans should make sure they get a minimum of 525 mg of calcium per day. It would be best to get 700 mg per day for adults, and at least 1,000 mg for people age 13 to 18 when bones are developing.
- Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise and have a positive attitude.
- Focus on light eating. Focus on fresh, water-rich, fibre-rich fruits, vegetables and low fat. The less energy your body has to use for digestion the more you’re going to have available for cleansing, healing, repairing and vitality.
- Natural juices are great because you get all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes without making your digestive system work.
Give it go.
You never know.
End of Message.