By: Callie McBride
I admit that I often resort to salad bars and carry-out instead of carefully prepared meals at home. While I am still making healthy choices (my grab-n-go visits are to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s) I felt lazy when I heard that a friend of mine is currently completing a 30-day raw food challenge-in her tiny college apartment?!
You might be wondering, “Well is she just buying pre-made juices and raw food bars?” Nope. Her roommates have been constantly coming home to the sound of her very own juicer, food processor, and dehydrator viciously at work, helping her create original recipes and unique flavor combinations from her huge array of fresh produce.
Feeling different about your healthy choices now? Yep, me too.
The reason I am boasting of my friend’s brave and time-consuming decision to go raw for a month is not to make the rest of feel like underachievers; it’s to highlight the incredible effects of raw-foodism that Madison has been feeling and from which we could all benefit, as well. In case you are living under a rock, here’s a quick lesson in raw food: most simply defined, it includes any foods that have not been heated above 115-118 degrees fahrenheit.
The reason that so many people today have adopted this type of eating method, whether completely or at least partly in their diet, is that many of these foods are incredibly easy to digest and contain more nutrients in them than if they were heated. What’s more, raw foodists have reported multiple physical benefits similar to those of vegans: glowing skin, strong hair and nails, clear complexions, regular bowel movements, and a general feeling of increased energy and vitality. In my own personal experience, I definitely noticed a difference when I traded my usual morning banana oatmeal for celebrity raw chef Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie; I adored the taste and felt full and energized all morning and well into the afternoon.
Raw food does not have to be as intimidating as it sounds. I was treated to a wonderful raw salad for dinner over the weekend, which Madison prepared in about fifteen minutes. Think salad beast, just raw! So easy. She threw together kale, mixed greens, avocado, sunflower seeds, corn, sauerkraut, basil, purple carrots, zucchini, beets, radishes, and a dressing made with liquid aminos and red wine vinegar.
Over the meal, we discussed what other creations have come out of her challenge (she was on day six). She makes a fresh juice every morning with carrot, ginger, beets, kale, and raw vegan protein powder. She pairs half an avocado with sea salt and raw dehydrated crackers as a snack, and feasts on huge salads for lunch dinner. With more time on her hands, she plans on preparing raw pea soups and “peanut butter and jelly balls,” made with homemade sunflower seed butter and raw strawberry jam.
Now, we’ve all heard the criticism surrounding veganism. Its not surprising that raw-foodism accumulates just as much skepticism. One issue that people of all types of “alternative eating habits” come across is the conflicting claims that always arise. For example, Gena Hamshaw states in her lovely blog Choosing Raw that one particular study has found that cooking tomatoes enhances its cancer-fighting lycopene. On the other hand, cooking certain foods has been found to eliminate its healthy enzymes. So who is right, the raw foodist or the person who prefers her veggies roasted?
Neither. Or, both. However you choose to look at it! Raw food and cooked food both have their ups and downs, so I have decided to make an effort to add variety into my diet by incorporating more raw foods. I don’t want to commit myself to something so defining and specific as only eating raw food, for fear that the highly restrictive nature affects me in a negative way. I simply want to discover amazing raw recipes, hopefully in the form of giant and guiltless desserts. Also, you won’t be finding me shelling out for a juicer just yet. Instead, I’ll be cheating my way to raw-food-goodness by making a weekly stop into Juice Generation.
For a better look into raw food recipes and resources, these are my favorite places to look:
I hope this sparks some interest within you to consider going raw at your next meal; its a fun and challenging way to add even more health into your life!