Please excuse the terrible pun – it’s the end of a long day and my creative juices have been all but exhausted by a 2 hour session of story-boarding for my serious games class.
Anyways, I’ve mentioned that I’ve been reading Brednan Brazier’s Thrive Fitness to help me with my half-marathon training. In addition to being a kick-ass vegan triathlete – Brendan is also a huge advocate of raw foods as he believes it’s easier for the body to utilise nutrient-rich foods in their natural state.
You may have heard a little bit about raw foods as they seem to be all the rage these days – but a lot of people are still perplexed as to what is or isn’t raw.
What exactly does a raw food diet entail? There are a few discrepancies among experts on the cut-off temperature, but generally speaking raw foods are ones that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fareheit. To put it simply, the idea is that foods are the most healthful in their natural and unadulterated state.
If you remember anything from your high school biology class about enzymes, you’ll know that extreme conditions (such as high temperatures) can denature enzymes – and that’s exactly what cooking does to the naturally occurring enzymes in food. When consuming cooked foods in excess, our bodies must work harder and longer to produce the necessary enzymes needed for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. And it’s no secret that cooking food can diminish its nutritional value – certain vitamins and cancer-fighting compounds found in broccoli for example are completely destroyed by heat (I should point out that this is not true of all foods, and some vegetables like tomatoes are actually more healthful after cooking). There are also some dangers associated with high heat cooking which often leads to the formation of potentially harmful compounds.
A raw foods diet boasts a whole host of benefits including better digestion, improved energy levels and immunity, clarity of mind, clearer skin and even weight loss. Many people go on a raw foods diet in an attempt to alleviate chronic illnesses, allergies or digestive disorders and studies have actually shown that a food high in raw foods can be very healing. The internet is littered with testimonials; everyone from diabetics to cancer patients have found solace in a raw foods diet.
To be honest, when I first started reading up on the benefits of raw foods – I was skeptical. I thought “I’m already eating a mostly vegan diet that consists of a wide variety of whole foods – how could there possibly be a better alternative?”. But my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to try it out. I switched my muesli with soymilk for green smoothies with spirulina, I started sprouting mungbeans and made zucchini pasta.
Eventually I went on to take a 30-day challenge of being 100% raw – and I’m not going to lie, the results spoke for themselves.
First of all, it was upon my discovery of raw foods that I stopped calorie counting, a huge step for me. My energy levels were up, I had incredible skin, and a whole new appreciation for food. Something about going raw gave me this wonderful clarity – I’d never felt so in tune with my body before. Most of all – I loved knowing that everything I was consuming was nourishing me to the fullest. I experimented with everything from raw breads and dips, to nut cheeses and milks. I even bought a juicer and started making green juices every day – nothing makes my heart sing like freshly pressed juice, I don’t even bother buying the boxed kind anymore because it’s just a disappointment. I’ll never forget the first time I made a raw “cake” from one of Ani Phyo’s recipes – I was shocked at just how good something that was completely raw, vegan and sugar free could taste!
After my challenge month was over – I slowly started re-introducing cooked foods, mostly in the form of beans and legumes (as if I could go for that long without hummus!), but was and still am adamant about keeping a large portion of my diet raw. Ultimately I strive for a balance between both raw and cooked – but I noticed that lately, I hadn’t been incorporating as much raw food as I’d like. It is considerably harder to stay high raw now that I’m back in a cooler climate – and sometimes you just want a steaming hot bowl of quinoa.
That said, for the past week I’ve been showing a little raw food love, thus is born the theme of this week’s WIAW:
Marinated kale salads, with like everything:
This particular one had cranberries, red onions, cherry tomatoes, mixed seeds and a generous helping of nooch and avocado dressing. Delicious.
Choosing Raw’s creamy coconut rice with caramelized butternut squash – incredible.
I used the leftover parsnip rice to make this curried pineapple, coconut and coriander raw pilaf with raisins , equally delicious.
The green smoothie that started it all! This one had banana, strawberries, spinach kale and almond milk, topped with some shelled hemp.
A library lunchbox snack of mango chunks and fresh blueberries.
Since I am without my natural dehydrator (read: the Bahraini sun), I’ve been having sprouted buckwheat in my cereal in lieu of buckwheaties.
Topped with bananas, frozen blueberries and hemp seeds in some almond milk.
I’ve also been sprinkling it over salads:
This monster bowl consisted of greens, rucola, spinach, fruity falafel burger bites , avocado and roasted sweet potatoes.
Raw eats aside, I have been obsessed with vanilla soy yoghurt lately. It’s just SO good. I’ve probably been through a good 4 cartons in the past week.
Topped with fresh strawberries and the last of my Yogi Strawberry Granola Crisps
Topped with apple granola bites and cinnamon.
Topped with choco-cherry granola bites, vegan chocolate chips and chia seeds – by far the best combination.
Other notable snacks have included these fruit yoyo’s:
Like a healthy version of fruit roll-ups really, can’t go wrong there.
An Eat Natural bar:
I’m not usually a fan of these because they contain added syrups but if ever there was a combination to win me over it would be this one.
Rounded off nicely by a crisp royal gala apple – my favourite kind.
And finally this is neither a snack nor raw, but since it’s WIAW I just had to mention that I made Jenn’s cranberry curry quinoa with roast veggie s:
Holy crap was this delicious.
Seriously, if you’re a fan of quinoa you MUST try this recipe out. One for the books for sure.
Some food for thought:
What’s your view on raw foods?
For them, against them, think it’s a bunch of BS? Let me know!
If you are a fan – what’s your favourite raw recipe/food?
I love my green smoothies but am also quite partial to zucchini marinara and raw buckwheat granola.
Happy WIAW all!