What exactly is a raw food diet?
Want to introduce more plant-based & raw foods into your diet? Great! But what exactly is a raw food diet? Contrary to what many people think, a plant-based raw food diet isn’t a fad diet or something you do purely to lose weight. This way of eating can be highly nutritious and it focuses largely on eating fresh seasonal whole-foods that are as close to nature as possible.
A raw food diet focuses on enjoying uncooked foods because the process of cooking can destroy many of the nutrients and natural enzymes in food that are essential for vibrant health.
What is a raw food diet?
by Juliette Young
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I’m passionate about raw food because eating this way not only gives me crazy energy all day long, it’s been immensely helpful to my health. It also ensures that I always have fresh seasonal produce on my plate - all colours of the rainbow - all year long. And I love this! We so often get stuck buying the same thing each week in our shopping just to make the same 10 dishes on a loop. Well no more.
You don't need to go 100% raw to enjoy raw food
Most raw foodies are in fact not 100% raw and their diet may vary from between 50%, 75% to 90%. All that really matters is finding out what works best for you. We are all individuals and how we eat reflects this.
Many people will opt to remain vegetarian or vegan and some people prefer to include unpasteurised dairy, eggs, raw fish such as sashimi and ceviche or a small amount of meat which increases their nutrient intake.
For me, a balanced diet includes some cooked foods too. Whatever resists persists. So if I start denying myself those comforting foods like carbs such as brown rice, cooked beans, lentils, sweet potato and warming winter soups etc. its not gonna be enjoyable (especially in Winter) plus it’ll be SO hard to stick to, I know that it won’t last. The UK is not known for its sunshine and can be pretty cloudy rainy and cold much of the time.
What do you eat on a raw food diet?
Well, a diet that’s rich in plant-based raw food includes a lot of the following:
e.g. Apple, Apricot, Avocado, Banana, Blackberry, Blueberry, Coconut, Cherry, Cranberry, Dates, Elderberries, Figs, Grapes, Kiwi, Lemon, Lime, Lychee, Mango, Melon, Nectarine, Orange, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Plum, Pomegranate, Quince, Raspberry, Redcurrant, Satsuma, Strawberry, Tangerine, Watermelon
e.g. Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrot, Celery, Celeriac, Chicory, Chilli, Corn (Sweetcorn), Courgette, Cucumber, Endive, Fennel, Garden Peas, Green Bean, French Bean, Lettuce, Leek, Marrow, Mushroom, Olives, Onion, Parsnip, Peppers (Bell), Pumpkin, Radish, Rhubarb, Runner Bean, Snow Pea, Sweet Potato, Squash, Turnip
e.g. Arugula (Rocket), Bok Choy, Cavolo Nero, Beet Greens, Chard, Choi Sum, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Spring Greens, Watercress
Raw nuts and seeds
e.g. Almonds, Brazil, Cashew, Coconut, Hazelnut, Macadamia Peanut, Pine nut Pistachio, Walnut, Aniseed, Caraway Celery, Chia, Dill, Fennel, Flax, Hemp Hearts, Macadamia, Pecan, Poppy, Pumpkin, Sesame Sunflower, Buckwheat Groats
Nut / Seed butters
e.g. Almond Butter, Brazil Nut Butter, Cashew Butter, Coconut Butter, Hazelnut Butter, Macadamia Butter, Pecan Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter, Walnut Butter
e.g. Almond, Cashew, Coconut, Hazelnut, Hemp Seed, Macadamia, Oat, Quinoa, Rice, Sesame Seed, Pumpkin Seed, Sunflower Seed, Tigernut
e.g. Apple slices, Apricots, Banana chips, Barberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Cranberries, Currants, Dates, Elderberries, Figs, Goji Berries, Mandarin, Peaches, Pineapple, Prunes, Raisins, Sun Dried Tomatoes
Seaweed & algae
e.g. Arame, Dulse. Kelp, Kombu, Nori, Wakame
Naturally unpasteurised fermented foods
e.g. Kimchi, Miso, Sauerkraut
e.g. Amaranth, Basil, Broccoli, Buckwheat, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Chia Seed, Celery, Coriander, Garlic Chive, Kale, Mustard, Parsley, Pea Shoots, Rocket, Radish, Sunflower, Watercress
Sprouted/soaked grains, beans, pea and lentils
e.g. Black Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Adzuki Beans, Mung Beans, Navy beans, Peas, White Beans, Amaranth, Kamut, Millet, Oat Groats, Quinoa, Wild Rice, Black Rice, Radish Seeds, Alfalfa, Chia Seeds, Flax, Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower
Unrefined natural sugars
e.g. Coconut Sugar, Maple Syrup, Carob, Date Sugar, Lucuma Powder
Cold pressed oil
e.g. Avocado, Coconut, Flax, Olive, Sesame
If you’re excited to start soaking and sprouting (it’s really fun! - uh, well is it just me?) then be sure to do your research and educate yourself about the safety of doing this and the best way to do it. Here’s an excellent article from one of my all time favourite resources, the Cultures For Health website, that will see you in the right direction: https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/sprouting/raw-sprout-safety-tips/ I just LOVE these guys!
How to avoid overwhelm changing your diet
An easy way to approach eating a diet that focuses on raw foods and a great way to avoid overwhelm, is to break it all down into seasons.
For each season I create a list of foods that I love and know I’ll want to be eating. For example I know I’ll be buying asparagus in May, strawberries in June and squash in October etc.
If you’re pop into your local supermarket they often provide pamphlets with the current seasons produce.
I look for foods that are more locally produced to be the main foods I use in my weekly shopping. This helps my concern with climate change and food miles. Don’t get me wrong now, we’re so blessed in the UK with the availability of foods from around the world and I hate to miss out. Don’t you?
I do currently buy foods from outside of the UK but, I try to focus on locally produced first. The thought of not enjoying a bright red juicy ripe watermelon, mango or pineapple just doesn’t bear thinking about for me right now. Not to mention nuts and seeds.
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?
Chopping board, for helping to keep surfaces clean and tidy
Blender - wonderful for making smoothies and breaking down nuts and seeds to make sauces, dips and soups
Grater for grating veggies when making salads or coleslaw for example
Mixer with an S blade for all kinds of chopping and slicing and mixing
Mandolin - 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
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
Spiralizer for making raw spaghetti and noodles
Trays or jars for sprouting and soaking
Dehydrator - 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.
Create a plant-based diet that works for you and that’s full of foods you LOVE
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.
By creating a diet that is rich in raw foods that you love (including chocolate, yes!) with an abundance of delicious, fresh natural whole foods you’re more likely to stick to it.
What are the benefits of a raw food diet?
Many people enjoying a raw food based diet report experiencing much higher energy levels, better digestion, clearer thinking and clearer skin, reduced bloating and improved immunity while helping to prevent many of our modern day health issues that are often contributed to by poor diet and lifestyle.
In my next post we’re gonna look at 10 ways to get started with raw food and there’s my freebie “Raw Food Shopping List” for you to take away!
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.
If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Facebook. Thank you!
I’m off to make some tea!
mum, dog owner, lover of raw food