Sunday, June 10, 2012

Raw Foodism for the Lazy

In an attempt to boost my overall health, I've been emphasizing more raw food. A fully raw food diet only works for me for a few days as sort of a cleanse, but my goal has been to consistently eat 75-80 percent raw foods. Often when I mention this to people they think that this is an an incredibly exotic way of eating, but it actually is terrific for someone who is lazy. There are certainly plenty of cookbooks, websites, and in NYC, specialty restaurants which have made an art out of raw food, creating crackers out of ground up dehydrated nuts, carving zucchini into fettucine, et al. However, what I've mostly been eating as a partial raw-foodist is fruit, salad, and trail mix. Not exactly exotic! I've been attempting three tactics:

1. Add raw food to a cooked-food meal. For example, rather than have a full bowl of cereal for breakfast (cold cereal is a cooked food as it has been cooked prior to being put in the cereal box), I'll top a small amount of cereal with a banana, 5 strawberries, raisins (dried fruits count as raw), and raw sunflower seeds. Still getting the cereal experience, but overall much more nutritious.

2. Replacing cooked snacks with raw snacks. This one is particularly useful. While I am not usually snacking on Snicker's bars, my snacks tend to be heavy on the bread/crackers end, which isn't terrible but is only providing a limited number of nutrients. Seriously, how great for you are Wheat Thins? Not that great. Instead of my usual midday bagel, I've been reaching for raw almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, dried fruits, and fresh fruits. Since all of those foods have a fairly high calorie content (which is GOOD-- you want to eat calories so you don't keel over) they keep me going through the day.

3. Replacing some cooked meals with raw meals. I've discovered that eating 100 percent raw usually doesn't fill me up, but at least one meal a day I will eat almost entirely raw food. For example: a typical dinner for me was rice and beans cooked with a couple vegetables. Instead, I've been making a big salad with 5-6 veggies (lettuce, tomato, carrots, fresh dill are my favorite staples, then whatever else looks good at the market) with some raw seeds, some cooked beans for protein, a big dollop of homemade guacamole, and some lemon juice and olive oil dressing. Every time I make it I think I won't be full, but invariably I am actually satisfied for hours and crackling with nutritional goodness.

There are many more creative ways to accomplish a raw diet, including dehydrating, juicing, and sprouting, but for my current time/energy level this simple approach is working well.

There are many advantages to consuming the extra enzymes and vitamins in raw foods, but to me the biggest plus with eating this way is that it keeps me away from junk food and constantly consuming fruits and veggies, which let's face it, we all know are the best foods for us. My skin and energy level are definitely much improved from going this route.

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