Choosing raw foods is a great way to improve your health. Whether you've made a resolution to eat healthier lunches, find more wholesome baked goods, or if you want to experiment with green juices, raw foods should be a foundation of your new healthy habits. Almost everyone can benefit from getting more raw, green energy into their diet!
If you are not sure exactly what it is, a raw foods diet focuses on eating exclusively (or mostly) raw foods and foods in their most natural state: fresh vegetables and fruits, sea vegetables, sprouted grains, nuts and seeds, fresh juices and more. Most food is consumed totally raw but other times it is cooked using a dehydrator, blended using a processor or blender, or fermented to bring out new, natural flavors. Cooking is not part of a raw food lifestyle. Most raw foodists do not warm food beyond 104º or 118º, because they believe that heating food destroys vital enzymes found in foods. But don't think choosing a raw foods lifestyle dooms you to a lifetime of boring salads! You can enjoy a wide variety of foods like:
- Sprouts! Grains, beans, seeds and nuts become more nutritious and digestible and more interesting. You can make raw crackers, raw breads even raw wraps for your snacks.
- Fermented foods like miso, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut have been ‘cooked’ using natural enzymatic processes and add variety and depth of nutrition to your diet.
- Fresh smoothies and juices made from fresh, frozen and dried ingredients
- Gourmet raw foods like lasagna, raw chocolate hazelnut cakes and energy bars.
Whether you choose to eat raw foods exclusively or occasionally, raw foods can help our bodies dramatically by increasing our intake of fiber. Fiber is often overlooked in our diets, but increasing your fiber is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. A healthy digestive system with properly functioning bowels not only feel better, it is incredibly important for overall health. Fiber binds to toxins, cholesterol and hormones and literally flushes the bad stuff out of our bodies, acting like a little broom sweeping our body clean. When the bowels are not moving quickly, waste can stagnate inside our intestines. This can create discomfort, gas and bloating; long-term constipation can lead to damaged intestines and is frequently cited as a main cause of colon cancer. Research shows that a higher intake of fiber leads to lowered risk of many types of cancer3, heart disease, and diabetes. According to nutritionist Marion Nestle, most Americans get only HALF the amount of fiber that is needed daily (wondering how much do you need? Women need about 25 grams, for men about 38 grams daily).
And guess what? Fiber is found ONLY in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and more, and it benefits the body in multiple ways. Adding in raw foods to your diet will immediately increase your fiber intake, leading to better digestive energy and more frequent bowel movements.
So even though you can eat more than salad on a raw foods diet, here is one SUPER salad that will have you craving more greens everyday. It features a variety of leafy greens and a bunch of other veggies to add fiber, high-quality plant protein and lots of superfoods into your day. Each ingredient is functionally nutritious and delicious.
SUPERgreen Salad with Acai Dressing
1 (100 gram) packet unsweetened acai, a room temperature
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups thinly sliced kale
2 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
1 cup thinly sliced dandelion greens
1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
½ cup thinly sliced basil
½ cup shredded beets
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- To make the Acai Berry Dressing: Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- Place kale in to a large bowl. Drizzle a few Tablespoons onto kale and massage to coat. Add all other vegetables into bowl and drizzle with extra dressing as you like. Sprinkle on pumpkin seeds and sprouts and toss to combine. Enjoy the nutrition!