I've recently begun to see increasingly more raw food restaurants popping up. I thought to myself, "Why would anyone be interested in raw food. I like a good hearty meal...not grass!" only to realize that I truly didn't even know what the whole raw food dietary craze is all about. Visions of boring salads and wheat grass infused juices crossed my mind. Salad....the bane of my vegetarian dining-out existence. Is that what raw food is? Nope - not by a mile
First, what exactly is raw foodism? There are two main rules to follow:
- Consume a diet consisting of raw and unprocessed foods, which can include nuts/seeds, fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, meat and unpasteurized/non-homogenized dairy products.
- Consume foods that are primarily uncooked. Foods that are "cooked" should not be heated above a temperature of 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. To give you an idea, this is a bit higher than our body temperature. Water at this temperature is warm but not so hot that you can't touch it without burning yourself.
There are options for people of all dietary preferences ranging from vegans to omnivores. For vegetarians and vegans, it takes out the whole processed piece out of the diet. For omnivores, sushi and certain raw meats are still an option.
Now the question comes of why would anyone want to follow this kind of diet? The thought process is that foods heated about 120 degrees Fahrenheit lose their nutritional value, leech them of key enzymes and amino acids that are essential for a healthy lifestyle, and subsequently release toxins into the food due to the breakdown of those key nutritional components. There are differing lines of thought between nutritionists and scientists that our stomach essentially breaks down and destroys any enzymes in its acidic environment. Others believe that those enzymes aid in proper digestion further down the pipeline.
In a conversation with my friend Rebecca, she brought up an interesting tidbit of information from an article that she recently read. In summation, the writer makes the point that the physiological makeup of man has changed little since the days of our caveman ancestors, yet our diets and what we ingest have changed massively due to the advances in technology and science. When looking back, our ancestors ate what they could either kill or harvest. This doesn't seem too far off from the essence of the raw food diet.
I confess to possessing no scientific knowledge of this diet whatsoever, nor do I have any personal experience with it...yet. However, based on websites like We Like It Raw and Raw Food Life, there are many that have experienced positive results such as having more energy, better overall health, stronger immune systems, better skin and hair, and healthy weight loss. I myself am a lacto vegetarian and find this to be a diet that would be incredibly difficult to follow, especially given that I travel so much for my work. I have noticed that I tend to have more energy when I eat foods that are more whole-some versus processed, unhealthy foods that leave me feeling sluggish and bloated. Now I won't deny - some of that that processed stuff sure tastes good. I do love me a good boat of gooey cheese fries. :-)
Whether it be just for the short term or the long haul, I have been considering venturing into foreign fields to check out this diet. I was able to get my hands on a book called Raw Food Detox by Ulrika Davidsson - an easy read, providing basic and simple information on the processes some of our foods go through prior to reaching our tables. (I was surprised to see coffee on the list and what processes it endures before getting to my coffee cup!!) All of the recipes are simple and seem easy to make using basic ingredients found at most grocery stores. This is a big deal for someone like me who doesn't have much time nor energy at the end of the day to spend toiling away in the kitchen. Some recipes that caught my eye are Endive Leaf with Goat Cheese Creme, Beet Quinoa with Pea Pesto, Avocado Tart, Sweet Potato Pie with Guacamole and Tomatoes, and so many more that sound perfect for cooling off from the hot summer. Not all of the recipes are fully raw so this book is the perfect way for people (like me) to dip their toe into the raw pool and see how far they wade in before potentially choosing fully diving in. Fortunately, a 100% raw food diet isn't required to reap the benefits. I think I'll start with a few meals from Ulrika's book and see how I fare. Who knows - I might just like going raw!