If the idea of eating simple, refreshing raw whole foods to feel healthier seems attractive to you, read on. Discover what a raw food diet is and foods you can eat right here. Plus check out the meal ideas and more.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash.
What is a raw food diet?
Eating raw foods can be highly nutritious. The focus on this way of eating is around enjoying more fresh seasonal wholefoods, as unprocessed and close to nature as possible.
Food can be warmed but is believed to begin losing many of its nutrients and enzymes after 118 degrees F.
I prefer to think of it as more of a lifestyle choice than a diet. Diets make me think about food restriction and trying to lose weight. Raw foods mean neither of these things to me.
Food is there to be enjoyed, and one of the things I love about when it's raw, is that I eat an abundance to get the nutrition my body needs to be at its best.
I’m passionate about raw foods because eating this way gives me crazy energy all day long.
I can prepare most of my meals this way in under 20 minutes, with no cooking and very little washing-up! Cool right?
Including plenty of raw ingredients in my diet ensures that I always have colourful and seasonal foods on my plate all year long. It’s ever-changing and never dull.
It’s been (and still is) hugely beneficial to my health in many other ways too. In fact it’s been positively life changing.
What do you eat?
After eating a standard western diet for so long, one of the most adorable aspects of raw food is the simpleness of it all. There's wholeness, a rainbow of colours and vibrance. Mostly, I focus on eating plant-based whole foods including:
- plenty of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens,
- nuts and seeds,
- some fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and more.
I’ve listed some examples below.
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 butter.
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, Kombucha, Kefir.
e.g. Amaranth, Basil, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Chia Seed, Celery, Coriander, Garlic Chive, Kale, Mustard, Parsley, Pea Shoots, Rocket, Radish, Sunflower, Watercress.
Sprouted / soaked seeds.
e.g. Chickpeas, Lentils, Mung Beans, Oats, Buckwheat, Quinoa, Radish Seeds, Alfalfa, Chia Seeds, Flax, Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower.
The FSA advises that people in vulnerable groups should always cook sprouts thoroughly until steaming hot all the way through before eating. This includes, pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system. This is because some sprouts may contain harmful bacteria.
Unrefined natural sugars.
e.g. Coconut sugar, Maple syrup, Carob, Date paste, Lucuma powder
e.g. Avocado, Coconut, Flax, Olive, Sesame.
Do you need to go fully raw?
Did you know that most raw foodies are, in fact, not 100% Raw? Their diet might go from 50% - 90%.
I’m in this group. I don’t want to be 100% raw.
Where I live is cold much of the time and my body naturally craves warmth. For me and many others, getting the right balance means enjoying cooked foods too, especially in colder months.
Many people get a dehydrator to do the warming for them. Using one will enable you to produce many more raw recipes.
A high speed blender can warm foods slightly too. They’re perfect for making homemade soups!
Many people opt to be vegetarian or vegan when they’re considering going raw.
Some people include raw dairy, raw eggs, fish (such as sashimi and ceviche) and a small amount of meat.
We’re each individual. How we eat will reflect this.
All that really matters is that you find out what works best for you.
Plant-based raw food meal ideas.
Here are some ideas to help get you started making delicious raw meals that are easy to prepare and full of nutrient rich ingredients.
- raspberry and apple buckwheat breakfast
- strawberry and coconut chia pudding
- homemade muesli with orange, pomegranate and pumpkin seeds.
- cauliflower fried rice
- asparagus pea shoot salad
- raw vegan waldorf salad
- courgetti spaghetti with vegetables
Snacks and dips.
3 Great ways start.
Start exploring simple new recipes, foods, new combinations.
A great way to avoid overwhelm, is to break it down into small doable steps.
1 - One meal at a time.
Start to focus on enjoying just one raw or mostly raw meal at a time (e.g. breakfast, lunch or dinner) and give yourself time to discover new recipes you love.
Breakfast (for most people) is the first meal of the day. This is great place to begin and set yourself up successfully for the rest of the day.
2 - Use the seasons.
For each season I like to create a list of raw foods that I love.
For example, I know I’ll be buying asparagus in May, strawberries in June and squash in October. What will you look forward to that’s in season this month?
Quite often your local supermarket will provide pamphlets with the current seasons produce.
Or check out your local greengrocers or market to see what’s around where you are.
I like to look for local produce first as the main foods on my shopping list. Seasonal local foods are usually more affordable and may travel less food miles too.
You can find out more about seasonal foods in the UK here: http://eattheseasons.co.uk
3 - Create a weekly meal plan.
Create yourself a weekly meal plan and start to include a few meal ideas or recipes with plenty of fresh raw fruits and vegetables. Meal planning is one of the most important strategies for starting and staying on a raw focussed lifestyle.
For more tips on how to start a raw food diet check out my post: 10 ways to start with raw foods.
What are the benefits of a raw food diet?
Many people enjoying a diet that's rich in raw foods report experiencing:
- higher energy levels
- better digestion
- clearer thinking
- clearer skin
- reduced bloating
- improved immunity
A whole foods plant-based lifestyle with plenty of freshly prepared raw ingredients could turn out to be one of the best things that you do for your health.
As with any change in your diet, you should always speak to your doctor or a qualified healthcare professional before making changes, and discuss if including more plant-based and raw foods will be suitable for you.
If you found this post useful, I’d be very grateful if you’d help by sharing it. Thank you!
I’m off to make some tea!