If you’re thinking about introducing more plant-based & raw foods into your diet then BRILLIANT!
A whole foods plant-based diet that includes plenty of freshly prepared raw ingredients could turn out to be one of the best things that you do for your health.
Contrary to what many people believe, a plant-based raw food diet isn’t a fad diet to lose weight. It can be highly nutritious as it focuses on eating fresh foods that are as close to nature as possible.
The point is to enjoy an abundance of delicious fresh whole foods to increase your intake of nutrients and enzymes.
Many people on a raw food diet report enjoying much higher energy levels, better digestion, clearer thinking and clearer skin, reduced bloating and improved immunity while trying to prevent many of our modern day health issues which are often contributed to by diet and lifestyle.
Most raw foodies are in fact not 100% raw and their diet may vary from between 50%,75% to 90%. It's finding what works for you that matters. Depending on how you adhere to it, you could also include a few cooked foods.
Many people will opt to remain vegetarian or vegan and some people prefer to include unpasteurized dairy, eggs, raw fish such as sashimi and ceviche or a small amount of meat which increases their nutrient intake.
A raw food diet avoids cooked foods as the process of cooking can destroy many of the nutrients and natural enzymes in food that are important for health.
However, this isn't true of all foods as tomatoes and carrots for example provide us with more nutrients (lycopene and beta-carotene)when cooked.
A plant-based raw food diet includes the following foods:
- Fresh fruit
- Leafy greens
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Raw nut butter
- Dried fruit
- Seaweed & algae
- Sprouted/soaked grains, beans, pea and lentils
- Unrefined natural sugars
- Cold pressed oil
How to prepare food on a raw food diet
Rather than cooking, foods are prepared instead by chopping, slicing, grating, blending, mixing, soaking, sprouting, marinating, spiralizing, juicing and dehydrating. Food can be warmed but is believed to begin losing its nutrients after 118 degrees F.
What kitchen equipment do you need for a raw food diet?
- A Chopping board, for helping to keep surfaces clean and tidy
- A Blender is wonderful for making smoothies and breaking down nuts and seeds to make sauces, dips and soups
- A Grater for grating veggies when making salads or coleslaw for example
- A Mixer with an S blade for all kinds of chopping and slicing and mixing
- A Mandolin is fantastic when you want to fine slice especially with harder veggies like parsnips, carrots, beetroot although you do need to be vigilant as they are incredibly sharp
- A Juicer for juicing vegetables and fruits. Fresh juices prepared in this way are a great way to absorb nutrients in your body quickly as the soluble fibre is removed in the juicing process. This is a great way to get benefits from the more bulky vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and other veg without eating the whole food. You can use the fibre in other meals or compost it.
- Sharp knives, including a serrated knife for citrus fruits, indispensable for chopping and slicing
- A Spiralizer for making raw spaghetti and noodles
- Trays or jars for sprouting and soaking
- A Dehydrator is optional. Some ovens will allow you to cook on a very low heat or use the defrost setting. Some ovens might have a dehydrator setting but you can use a standard oven on its lowest setting too, although this would mean that the food you prepare won’t remain raw.
How do you get enough nutrients?
Making sure your meals include a rainbow of colours and textures is a great way of getting a variety of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, plant chemicals and enzymes so do "eat the rainbow".
As fruits and vegetables are low in calories it’s important to ensure that you eat a healthy balanced diet and provide yourself with enough calories from your meals during the day to maintain your weight. Typically this is around 2000 calories for women and 2500 for men.
It’s understandable to be concerned when making changes to your diet that you ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs. As a rough guide, the following nutrients can be obtained with the foods mentioned below.
- Calcium, from dark green leafy veggies such as dandelion leaves, collard greens, pak choi
- Carbohydrates, from fruits and whole grains
- Fats, from cold-pressed oils such as extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. From avocados, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, hemp seeds, freshly ground flaxseeds and microalgae.
- Iron, from leafy greens, blackstrap molasses, cocoa
- Protein, nearly all plants, grains, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds contain proteins
- Vitamin D, converted from sunlight absorbed by the body, this is a nutrient that’s depleted in much of our population and so supplementing is a good option.
- Vitamin B12 can be found in fortified foods such as cereal, plant milk, marmite and nutritional yeast. It’s generally recommended that vegetarians and vegans take a B12 supplement to avoid any deficiency.
As with any change in your diet you should always speak to your doctor or qualified healthcare professional before making changes and to discuss if including more plant-based and raw foods would be suitable for you.
In the meantime, here’s a little something for you to print off and pin on your fridge at home. It’s my cheat sheet “Ultimate Plant-Based Food Swaps”. A list of healthy alternative suggestions to help you on your way to achieving more vibrant health.
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I’m off to make some tea.