1 - Microgreens
Microgreens are tiny plant seedlings - mini versions of their fully formed plant such as radish, broccoli, spinach, beetroot, rocket, kale, chard, cabbage, salad greens and edible flowers. They really can add a good punch of flavour to salads and meals
They’re also packed full of goodness and are understood to contain more nutrients while tiny than when they’re fully grown. While you may have seen how expensive microgreens can be in the supermarkets they’re pretty inexpensive to grow at home. You can grow them in a small amount of compost in a relatively small space and they take only days to grow before you can harvest them.
2 - Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are incredibly versatile and can be used in pretty much any dish. From pesto to vegan sauces, dips, granola, soups, salads, desserts and homemade cereal bars. They also provide wonderful texture and crunch.
If you want to try alternatives to dairy you can also make your own nut milks such as almond milk, tigernut milk, or hemp milk for example, at home with a blender & even try making your own nut butters.
The USDA and WHO recommend nuts and seeds as part of a healthy balanced diet but, what nutrients do they offer? According to the British Nutrition Foundation, they’re a great source of micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron, B vitamins and vitamin E. Nuts and seeds are high in fibre, fats and are a great source of protein.
It's quite common for raw foodies to soak nuts and seeds before eating to break down their outer coating. This is to make them easier for our bodies to digest by breaking down enzyme inhibitors, phytic acid and tannins and allowing a greater intake of nutrients.
3 - Seaweed
Sea Veggies are actually algae and are often overlooked in healthy diets. They've become more popular in the West in recent years and now can be found in many health stores and some supermarkets. Most seaweeds we can buy only need to be soaked rather than cooked (not the flakes) which makes them really easy to add to salads, soups and other dishes.
Sea vegetables come in three colours - green, red and brown, the most popular ones are arame, dulse, kelp, kombu, nori and wakame. They’re full of nutrients including sodium and iodine, phytochemicals, trace elements and chlorophyll.
4 - Use Herbs & Spices
Herbs and spices have the amazing ability to completely transform the flavour of our meals and many have also been used traditionally the world over to aid our health in one way or another. They’re especially useful in dips, dressings, sauces, salads and soups.
Easily available in our supermarkets and garden centres, herbs and spices are also really fun to grow either on your windowsill or in your garden. Which do you use regularly? Can you try new ones & then see which foods they go well with? Why not be adventurous & try fresh alternatives occasionally instead of just using the packets of dried you already have at home.
5 - Have fun sprouting
Remember growing cress at infant school when you were little to see how plants grow? Well, it's pretty much along the same lines.
You can sprout seeds, grains, beans and pulses easily and inexpensively without much space indoors.
You need to make sure the seeds are soaked and rinsed each day according to their packet growing instructions in order for them to sprout. No dirt required.
Sprouting is another really fun and easy way to grow foods at home in a relatively quick time frame, days rather than weeks or months (compared to growing cabbages in the garden for example).
Not only that but you benefit MASSIVELY from their nutrients and can put them into heaps of dishes. They’re great for energy too.
Once they’ve germinated and their little sprout begins to shoot, their nutrients increase hugely & they’re also then chock-full of enzymes. This whole process makes them easier to digest once the hulls break down and fall away. Easy ones to start with are sunflower, cress & alfalfa.
6 - Fermented Foods and drinks
These have become more popular in recent years. Raw unpasteurized ferments have been used traditionally for centuries all over the world as a way of preserving foods. Ferments also come with health benefits which as a nation we are still learning about, the most commonly reported health claims in the media are that probiotics strains (live microorganisms) may improve our tummy health.
Microorganisms are found on the leaves of foods like cabbage which is used in making sauerkraut and kimchi. The lactobacillus converts sugars into lactic acid which limits the growth of harmful bacteria and preserves the food.
Pasteurizing these foods kills the living microorganisms in them and it's the pasteurized ones we tend to see available in the supermarkets.
I love them because they’re really fun, versatile and affordable to make. Easy ferments to begin making at home are sauerkraut and ginger ale. Of course, you can make quick pickles at home using vinegar but the raw unpasteurized kind that bubble and fizz add a particular tang to dishes that just can’t be compared to any other food (in my opinion).
As with any change in your diet please do your research. You should always speak to your doctor or qualified healthcare professional before making changes and to discuss if including these plant-based and raw foods would be suitable for you.
For a list of plant-based alternative to foods including pasta, soft drinks, cheese and cream check out my free cheat sheet “Ultimate Plant-Based Food Swaps”.
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Ta ta for now and take care,