What are whole, raw & living plant-based foods?
Welcome to lesson 1
Hi there, I'm Juliette and I'm super excited that you've decided to upgrade your diet!
In this lesson you'll learn what a whole food plant-based diet is and about raw and living foods. You'll also discover some of the benefits of eating this way to get your enthusiasm up and help you getting started.
What are Whole Foods?
Choosing to eat more whole plant-based foods can be the best decision you make for your health. But what are they? Well, we think of whole foods as those in their most natural state & unprocessed.
Whole food plant-based diets include:
- fruits and vegetables,
- sea veggies,
- mushrooms and edible flowers,
- nuts and seeds,
- whole grains, beans and legumes.
They also minimise meat and animal products like eggs and dairy.
Processing foods can often mean that they've been altered in a way that strips them of many essential nutrients. Refining and processing may also include adding preservatives, additives, fats, salt, sugars and sweeteners to preserve the food or to alter its taste or appearance.
What are Raw foods?
Raw foods are whole foods that remain uncooked and are considered full of their natural nutrients. They also contain natural enzymes known to aid digestion. Here I focus on plant based raw foods to keep things simple.
Raw foods also include fermented food and drinks like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha and tempeh.
Plants are highly nutrient dense. When uncooked or heated below 115 degrees they stay packed with the energy of their own life-force
What are Living foods?
Living foods are sprouted beans, grains, nuts & seeds which are still growing a sprout when you eat them and also include indoor greens such as sunflower, pea and wheatgrass.
Just like raw foods they also bring with them their whole food, life source energy and a myriad of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, oxygen, enzymes, fibre, phytonutrients, amino and water.
It’s widely believed that fresh raw foods and living foods are more bioavailable (the nutrients are more available for use by your body) to you than cooked but, actually there are a few foods whose nutrients become more available after cooking such as tomatoes, spinach and carrots. Cooking some foods also makes them more palatable so a balanced diet would seemingly include both raw and cooked foods.
Starting your new foodie journey
Starting your new foodie journey, you'll be tasting new combinations of deliciousness, creating new habits and learning to trust more the way eating makes you feel. Instead of feeling heavy after your meals you'll feel energised and satisfied. There's no calorie counting, this isn't about restrictions it's about adding in more of what's good that your body needs to feel nourished. The more you can do this the more you'll want to do it.
There's now mountains of evidence to suggest that choosing a more plant-based whole food diet can help prevent and even reverse some chronic diseases. Not only that, you'll love the way eating like this makes you feel! Many people experience more energy and vitality, feel less bloated, have better mental clarity, clearer skin and better overall health. Once you've started to notice the difference in the way you feel I think that there's no way you'll want to go back to the way you were eating before.
I love the way eating raw food makes me feel and it requires little preparation which also saves time during the day. Once you start really opening up to which foods you can eat raw, your plate can really be alive with colour. I love the saying to "eat the rainbow" and it definitely applies here!
What Raw Food can you eat?
Fruits, vegetables, salads, sea vegetables, herbs, spices, edible flowers, micro greens, sprouted grains, nuts & seeds, beans, legumes, pulses and of course dried fruits...really a whole range of foods jam packed with micronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) and macronutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals, antioxidants).
What's more mouthwatering than a piece of fresh juicy watermelon or mango? Or a sweet crunchy apple and deep blue/black autumn blackberries.
Fruit contains a whole spectrum of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients essential for good health, not to mention being rich in soluble fibre which slows down the release of its naturally occurring fruit sugars and contributes to a healthy digestion.
Brilliant convenience food, most fruit takes minimal preparation – a quick wash and peel or slice then your done. Use it as snacks between meals or even AS meals if you wish. We both enjoy between 3 and 5 portions of fruit each day. How about you?
Fruit is the perfect solution to a sweet tooth. Thankfully we’re blessed with an extraordinary range of scrumptious fruit from around the world made easily available to us. What’s not to love?
Vegetables & Herbs
Leafy greens, salads, starchy root veggies, cruciferous, they come in all manner of colours and textures, all shapes and sizes. These are full of a variety of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients including protein, fat, calcium, B12 & iron. Although, if you are not eating meat products it's typically recommended that you take a B12 supplement to help protect you against any deficiency.
By eating these foods in all colours of the rainbow you'll be consuming a whole spectrum of nutrients essential for good health!
Nuts & Seeds.
Packed full of protein, fibre and essential fats these are a powerhouse of nutrients and we only require them in small amounts.
They’re proving to have wonderful health benefits which we’re only just beginning to discover. Make sure to buy them raw, unsalted & unflavoured. By adding your own seasoning you can invent your own flavour combinations and avoid all the processed nasty stuff.
Use nuts and seeds to create fresh tasting sauces or add them into your homemade pesto or fresh tomato sauce. Sprinkle them on top of salads and veggies to add protein and texture as well as flavour. Try adding them to berries for breakfast and in your morning smoothies. Just bear in mind that they're high in calories and while the gourmet raw food you see looks yummy, really that's better as an occasional treat not your everyday fare.
I've seen these in our local supermarket in the summer months but better to grow them yourself if you can, even with just a little bit of space. These are a really great way to create more fun on your plate and our kids love them in summer.
Borage, calendula, chives, rose, courgette, chicory, there's a huge list. Google 'edible flowers' and see what comes up in your area. Surprisingly yes they contain nutrients.
Edible weeds include dandelion and nettles. Dandelions for example contain calcium, iron, vitamins A and C. Easy to put in smoothies too and they add a wonderful bitterness to a plate of salad leaves or use them to make tea.
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.
Full of nutrients including sodium and iodine, phytochemicals, trace elements and they also contain chlorophyll.
Sea vegetables come in three colours - green, red and brown, the most popular being Arame, Dulse, Hijiki, Kelp, Kombu, Nori and Wakame.
Sprouting and Microgreens
Remember growing cress in an egg box at school when you were little? Well its pretty much along the same lines. You need to make sure the seeds are soaked and rinsed according to their packets growing instructions in order for them to sprout. No dirt required. Sprouting is a really fun way to grow foods and make them useable 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.
I'm really not sure why as a whole people don't eat sprouted foods but I guess it's just the same as fermenting in that we're so used to buying from the supermarkets and their value's never been recognised so these foods are disappearing. Perhaps there's not much profit in them especially as they're so cheap to make at home. Shame though, we think they really bump up your options not to mention their awesome health benefits.
Some of the most popular beans/legumes for sprouting are adzuki beans, mung beans, chickpeas, red and green lentils and peas.
Microgreens are tiny plant seedlings harvested after a week to 20 days. Again these are jam packed full of nutrients and can really add an energy to your wellbeing. Grow amaranth, cress, radish, broccoli, pak choi/bok choy, spinach, kale, chard, cabbage, salad greens, edible flowers - there's really a great choice. They don't take up much space so what's not to like? Why not give it a go!
As you know nothing changes without you taking action. In lesson 2 I'll be helping you on your way with tips on how to form new habits that can work for you.
What's currently going on for you?
What will help you, is to make a note of what's currently going on for you during your week. Here's my weekly food diary for you to print and complete. Get really honest and write down everything such as afternoon biscuits, soda. Do you enjoy something sweet after dinner? We ALL have these so think about:
- What are your weaknesses?
- Are they sweet or savoury?
- What is it you enjoy about them?
- When are you most likely to be eating them?
- How do they make you feel?
Acknowledging these areas can help you to overcome them. If you want you can begin to swap them for healthier whole food alternatives like brownies made with beetroot or banana ice cream, raw bliss balls, even home made kale chips.
Lesson 2 will follow in 2 days time.
I'm off to make some tea. Ta-Ta for now!