Raw Food 101

What is raw?

Raw food has not been heated above 118-122 degrees Fahrenheit.  This rule allows for much creativity on the part of the raw food chef.  Beyond the innumerable concoctions of smoothies, juices and salads that can be created with raw fruits and vegetables, many raw foodists sprout beans and grains to make them edible, soak nuts and seeds to create nut milks, cheeses and sauces, use dehydrators to heat foods at very low temperatures, and often incorporate superfoods in their recipes.  “Raw” is also almost exclusively vegan, as no animal products are consumed, although utilizing items like raw honey are left to the discretion of the chef. 

Adding in more raw foods to your life can be beneficial to your health. If you are what you eat, then eating live foods will bring you back to life. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, “Live food turns on anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-aging genes.”

Raw food contains enzymes that are destroyed in the cooking process. These enzymes help to break down food and enhance the digestive process. Raw foods are also higher in vitamins and minerals that are eliminated by heat. The famous raw diet proponent Dr. Ann Wigmore estimated over 80% of nutrition is destroyed during cooking.

Raw foods are any foods that have not been heated above 118º Fahrenheit. This includes all:

Leaves (leafy vegetables, herbs)
Legumes (peas, peanuts, beans)
Edible flowers
Green sprouts
Roots, shoots
Water vegetation (sea vegetables, sea salt, and algaes)

Since all raw foods are real foods, adding them in to your diet is a double win. When you are eating raw foods, you are crowding out chemicals, additives, preservatives, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, etc. Without heat, raw food chefs are forced to be a little creative, and so beyond the innumerable concoctions of smoothies, salads, and juices that can be created with raw fruits and vegetables, we see sprouted grains and beans, nut milks and cheeses, and spiralized vegetable pastas. Raw foodists also use dehydrators to cook foods at very low temperatures, as vital enzymes are destroyed at 118º F.

You don’t have to get fancy to add in raw foods – in fact, you are probably already incorporating more raw food just from being on this program. If you have added in a smoothie, juice, salad, or raw veggie snack like last week’s Healthiest Pesto Ever, then you are on your way. If you want to kick it up a notch, try my Mock Tuna Salad, Cashew Ice Cream, or Almond Cheese Salad recipes on this website.