The Raw Food Fight

July 5, 2018 6:14 am Published by 3 Comments

Raw food? The best thing since sprouted dehydrated bread? Or a pile of gently steaming nonsense? At Naturally Good Food, we’re wading into the fray. Tuck your napkins under your chin – it might get messy!

What’s raw food?

Raw food is generally defined as the following:

  • food that hasn’t been heated above 48C (117F)
  • unrefined food
  • food that has not been canned
  • food that has undergone no chemical processing

‘Eating raw’ has been a popular health trend for a number of years now, with several celebrity adherents and a large number of online and offline guides. Our former general manager, Maria, has a particular interest in raw food; for some years she followed a raw food diet, for health reasons. We’ve included her recipes and helpful tips at the end of this blog.

What’s a raw food diet?

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the world who doesn’t eat any raw food. A bite of an apple is a bite of raw food – a crunch of a carrot fits the bill, too. But that doesn’t mean you’re eating a ‘raw food’ diet. To be a true ‘raw foodie’, you need to cut out all food that doesn’t fit the definition above.

In the blue corner: the Raw Foodies

 

Raw food makes you slim, healthy, happy and full of energy, say the Raw Foodies. It does this by allowing you to harness the full vitamin and nutrient content of the food you eat. According to adherents of this diet, once food is heated above 48C, its natural enzymes start to be destroyed. As the temperature rises, further nutrients are lost.

The example often given is with tomatoes: when cooked for two minutes at 57C, they lose about 10% of their vitamin C content.

Raw foodies make their case with reference to enzymes. Our bodies can produce their own enzymes, but also need enzymes obtained from food. If these food enzymes are depleted, our bodies have to produce more of their own, thus exhausting our energy reserves. Eating raw food allows us to take in the full complement of vitamins and minerals, while boosting our energy levels. You should see a difference to your hair, skin and nails, and enjoy improved digestion, thanks to a diet rich in fibre.

In the red corner: the Hot Heads

 

Wielding their frying-pans menacingly, the opponents to the raw food diet set out their objections.

Raw food, in excess, is bad for you. Processing it uses up too much of our bodies’ energy and leaves us depleted of minerals. It has no benefits in terms of preventing life-threatening illnesses and leaves us at the mercy of dangerous bacteria.

These cooked-food hot-heads then fire tomatoes right back at the raw foodies. They argue that certain nutrients are, in fact, enhanced by the cooking process: when tomatoes are cooked, it’s easier for our bodies to absorb their beta-carotene, lycopene and other antioxidants. This is because heat breaks down the cell walls of the fruit, making it easier for us to access their nutrients.

Cooking, say the heat-enthusiasts, pre-digests our food. It may destroy enzymes, but our own stomach acid would have done this in any case. With cooked food, our bodies need to work less intensively, thus conserving energy and allowing us to reap the full benefits of the food in our mouths.

Who’s the winner?

We’re adept fence-sitters at Naturally Good Food – or possibly just natural diplomats. We tend to subscribe to the maxim ‘everything in moderation’. However, our research suggests the following points.

If you’re not currently eating a lot of raw food, then you’d do well to incorporate more of it into your diet. Nothing beats a crisp, crunchy carrot – or a bite of an apple fresh from the tree. The majority of us in the UK don’t eat anything like enough fresh fruit and vegetables: keeping a raw selection to choose from each day is one of the most appealing ways of getting them into our diets. Raw fruit and vegetables have distinct, strong tastes and pleasing textures. You can, indeed, taste the goodness within them.

Cutting out processed rubbish is undoubtedly good for us. Wholefoods – food that’s been messed about with as little as possible – has been shown to be the richest in a whole range of nutrients. It’s great for our digestion, for our bowels and for our health in general.

If you’re mostly (or solely) eating raw, make sure you’re getting enough protein, vitamin B12 and iron in your diet. Generally found in grains, fish, meat and eggs, you’ll need to pay particular attention to these nutritional elements and ways to obtain them.

Don’t embark on this diet without taking medical advice, particularly if you’re pregnant, very old or very young, or suffering from any other health condition.

If this diet works for you, then it works for you. If you’re bursting with energy, then you’re doing something right! If, on the other hand, you find yourself fading away when faced with a raw cauliflower pizza – and beginning to hallucinate about beef stew and apricot crumble with custard – then we’d suggest you listen to your body and follow its lead.

Raw Food Recipes: from Maria

 Fighting wears you out. Whatever side of the argument you’re on, these delicious recipes should replenish your energy levels!

 Marinated Mushrooms

Half a punnet of organic chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1 capful of apple cider vinegar

Juice of 1 large lemon

A glug of olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

Pink Himalayan salt (optional)

Pour the olive oil into a bowl with the vinegar, lemon, garlic and salt (if using). Mix together. Add the mushrooms and toss until coated.

Pour the whole mixture into a large flat dish and leave covered to marinade for a few hours. Turn the mushrooms occasionally, so that both sides absorb the liquid.

When they are ready, they will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and will taste like they’ve been cooked! Amazing with a salad or just as a snack.

 

Decadent Raw Chocolate Mousse

2 ripe bananas

2 dessertspoons raw cacao powder

1 avocado

1-2 dates (optional)

If you use very ripe bananas for this then you may not need the dates.

Add everything to the blender and blend with a little water until you have a mousse-like consistency.

Pour into a tall glass and enjoy!

 

Chocolate Mylkshake

1/3 cup of raw cashew nuts

2 dessertspoons raw cacao powder

1-2 Medjool dates

Water

Blend the cashews with a cup of water for 30 seconds.

You can strain it at this point – or just add the other ingredients and blend.

Drink – and delight in the fact that this is good for you!

 

Almond Mylk

Soak a handful of raw almonds for 8 hours in just enough water to cover them

Add 1-2 dates if you like (it depends if you are used to having sweetener or sugar in your tea and coffee, or not. I don’t bother adding the dates: I like it as it is).

Rinse the almonds and pop them in a blender with between ½ to 1 pint of water (depending on how creamy you want the mylk to be – the more water, the less creamy).

Blend for 20 seconds.

Strain through muslin. Either drink it like milk or use it in tea and coffee.

 

Raw Food Tips: from Maria

  1. Get yourself a decent chopping board and a sharp knife. There’ll be lots of chopping!
  2. Invest in a food processor. The grating attachment will add different textures and variety to your meals. The ‘S’ blade is useful for blending things that don’t require as much water as a blender.
  3. Stock up on raw fruits a few days before you’ll be eating them, as fruits tend to be picked under-ripe.
  4. Make sure you eat only ripe, good-tasting produce. You won’t enjoy the experience if your food doesn’t taste really great.
  5. Eat larger quantities of raw foods compared with cooked foods. Raw foods are less calorie-dense, so you will need to eat more to get enough calories.
  6. Keep it simple: don’t over-complicate your meals. Use a maximum of five ingredients or fewer, as a guideline.
  7. Chew every mouthful thoroughly – digestion begins in the mouth. Never gulp down raw fruit and vegetable juices or smoothies, as they will elevate your blood sugar too quickly.
  8. When you eat more raw foods, you may start to feel the cold more. This is normal, as your body is detoxing. Just make sure you always have more clothes with you than you think you’ll need. In time, a raw food diet should make you more tolerant to temperature extremes.
  9. Build up to a raw food programme at a pace that you’re happy with. If you launch into it too quickly, you may experience mild to severe detoxification symptoms and suffer from cooked food withdrawal issues.
  10. Don’t restrict your calories in order to lose weight. Weight loss will happen naturally – and fast – in any case. If you don’t consume enough calories, you’re likely to end up falling off the wagon and binge-eating cooked carbohydrates such as bread, pasta or pizza. Success with raw foods means eating more than you think you need to eat!
  11. Find other people in your local area by advertising and hosting a ‘raw food potluck’ at your home. Tell everyone who wants to come to bring a dish – and then see who and what turns up!
  12. Kids love to create. Raw foods are attractive to the eye, as well as being extremely tasty and nutritious. Have fun making smoothies with your kids: invent special names for them! Or just arrange pieces of fruit on a plate in a picture or a funny face, to make it fun and appealing.
  13. Get yourself a ‘raw food buddy’: someone with whom you can share your experiences and provide mutual support.
  14. Read books and articles about raw foods. Reading about your new-found good habit helps to reinforce it.
  15. Find some inspiring raw food recipes and give them a go!

The final word: from Maria

Raw food is nature’s very own ‘fast’ food. You can’t get any faster than peeling a banana and eating it!

Naturally Good Reads v2

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This post was written by Yzanne

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