Several years ago, I was eating a vegetarian diet and practicing yoga daily. Reflecting back, I long for the way my body and spirit felt during this time. Many amazing things have been added to my life since then, but I have strayed away from the vegetarian diet and yoga, and my body is craving lightness, simplicity, and energy.
With “a little” discipline I plan to reintroduce yoga back into my routine, but the vegetarian diet is something that I want to consider further. There are many things about eating a cooked plant-based diet that makes sense and feels approachable, but what about the idea of eating a raw foods diet? I have read about the many health benefits of eating a vegan raw diet, but I have some hesitations. Much of what I know about food revolves around cooking or baking it. This year I am interested in making a lifestyle change that will create healthier and sustainable life habits by incorporating more raw foods.
I feel fortunate that I was able to find inspiration and clarity from several sources including Vegan Raw Foods Chef Jenny Mrkobrad of Purely Simple Raw, co-worker Josh Wright, and The Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual by Natasha Kyssa.
One of my biggest concerns about a raw diet is eating 100% raw. The most important thing to understand is that each of us makes the decisions and rules for our own lives, therefore we can implement parts of a diet we find valuable without going full force unless we want to. Chef Jenny Mrkobrad gave me the advice that resonated. She said “Just because something is cooked it is not bad for you!”
The concept behind eating raw foods is that you’re consuming food in its most natural form, providing you with all the minerals, vitamins and enzymes that will help your body digest it and assimilate all its nutrients, rather than stressing your body’s systems. Once food is heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit, it begins losing these available nutrients, making your body work harder to process the food. Chef Jenny does not want people to be afraid to eat some cooked foods if it is more comfortable and makes them feel good. The important thing to remember is to keep it natural, simple & unprocessed.
Even if I integrate a raw and vegan diet into my routine, I still feel concerned about feeling hungry and missing carbohydrates. Chef Jenny and Josh both were quick to say, “Keep eating!” Their advice was to carry raw snacks with me and make sure to eat a lot! Chef Jenny recommends fermented beverages like water kefir and kombucha, or cultured veggies to help curb the carb cravings. Some of Josh’s favorite snacks include dates, clementines and apples. In the winter months when the body craves warmth, it is good to experiment with cooked grains or pastas, adding in raw veggies & raw vegan based sauces, like a cashew cream sauce or thai coconut sauce. Healthy fats like high quality coconut oil or olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds will add richness to any dish, creating a satisfying meal.
Another good bit of advice I received was to be sure to utilize all the seasons and the flavors they have to offer. Citrus is bountiful this time of year, and we are fortunate to have so many options at our fingertips. Clementine, Satsuma, Grapefruit, Blood Orange, Cara Cara… here is a recipe for crispy citrus salad that’s full of high water veggies, just leave out the feta to keep it vegan raw, Celery Citrus Salad with Balsamic.
In case you are concerned about giving up the luxury of dessert, you can still have it! Chef Jenny shares her recipe for Raw Apple Pear Cobbler.
Raw Apple Pear Cobbler
Peel 3 apples, slice, set aside in a glass baking dish. Add 3 chopped pears to your dish and combine with the apples.
Blend together the following ingredients until smooth.
2 Small Apples
1/3 Cup Raisins, soaked in water 30 minutes
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon Ginger
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons + 1 Teaspoon Raw Honey
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
½ Teaspoon Salt
Pour the sauce over the apple pear mixture, stir well, and place mixture in the refrigerator. Let marinate for 2-3 hours.
1 ¼ Cups Raw Pecans
¼ Cup Raw Almonds
¾ Cup Medjool Dates, pitted
½ Teaspoon Salt
Process nuts, dates, and salt until crumbly, but not blended. Sprinkle crumble over the apples pear filling, and press down slightly. Do this until all the crumble is gone, and you’ve covered the entire dish.
Serve immediately, or dehydrate at 105 degrees F. for 3 hours and then serve. Cobbler will remain fresh for 3 days in the refrigerator.
Through reading and talking with others the best piece of advice I can offer anyone considering a raw vegan diet is to do some research. Make sure you fully understand what the diet is and how it affects your body. There is so much more information than I could even begin to provide you with in this article. You will want to be sure to have a support system. I felt more comfortable after talking with Josh and Chef Jenny. It is easier to visualize something into your life if you can talk with someone who lives that way. Do not feel like making a change is not worth doing if you do not go all the way. Anytime you incorporate more raw foods into your diet you are doing yourself a favor.
From my research here are a few of the practices in a raw vegan diet that I find to be approachable in my life, but you should also do some research to find what is right for you…
- Drink Green Smoothies. Check out purelysimpleraw.com for recipes, and don’t forget to share with a friend.
- Eat organic as often as possible.
- Variety is key: eating the rainbow (a variety of colors) is necessary to get a variety of nutrients.
- Eat fermented foods like unpasteurized sauerkraut frequently; it will help alkalize the body.
- Create a mini garden in your kitchen by sprouting, and growing micro greens. Sprouts are good if you seek protein, and what a great way to bring life in the winter months. For directions on this see The Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual (pages 41 and 45).
I will leave you with a final recipe for a juice smoothie that Josh shared with me. It is warming, comforting, and filling. The name alone made me smile.
5-7 Small Carrots-Juiced
2 Bananas-Ripe and frozen
1 Inch Fresh Ginger-Juiced
Dash of Cinnamon
Grated Fresh Nutmeg (Fresh nutmeg tends to be less bitter than already ground)
Blend together and Enjoy.
If you share your Magic Bunny, you’ll make someone very happy!
Be sure to check Whole Foods Market: Dublin and Purely Simple Raw for upcoming Raw Food classes with Chef Jenny Mrkobrad (Spring/Summer 2013) and join me for our Healthy Eating Resolutions beginning January 22, 2013. For details, look for the upcoming January calendar.
With “A Kitchen Inspired” we will share with you the current and up and coming ingredients, products and cooking methods that inspire our team members, chefs and the kitchen at Whole Foods Market Dublin. Let us know if you’re starting a raw foods diet for the new year at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com, NASDAQ: WFM), is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America’s first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health magazine. The company’s motto, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”™ captures its mission to ensure customer satisfaction and health, Team Member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement.