I don’t know about you, but I am seeing evidence of the raw food movement everywhere I look. Advocates of the raw food diet argue that cooking food not only destroys its nutritional value and enzymes, but chemically alters food from the substances needed for optimum health to acid-forming toxins, free-radicals and poisons.
So, what is raw food? In a nutshell, raw food is food that has not been cooked or exposed to temperatures over about 50 C. It is claimed that at that temperature, the natural enzymes in food are completely destroyed. According to raw foodists, enzymes are the life force of a food, helping us to digest and absorb nutrients. If we over-consume cooked food, our bodies are forced to work harder by producing more enzymes. Over time, a lack of enzymes from food is thought to lead to digestive problems, nutrient deficiency, accelerated aging and weight gain.
It has been proven that in some cases, cooking food can diminish its nutritional value. An example of this is the cancer-fighting compounds in broccoli, known as sulforaphanes, which are greatly reduced when broccoli is cooked. Certain vitamins, such as vitamin C and folate are also destroyed by heat. Cooking can also promote the formation of potentially harmful compounds in food during high heat cooking.
The benefits of eating raw are said to be plentiful: more energy, weight loss, mental clarity, clearer skin and a lasting state of wellness. So how can you reap these benefits?
Most people who follow a raw food diet are vegan. Some consume raw animal products such as raw milk (currently illegal in Australia and many parts of the US), cheese made from raw milk, sashimi, chevich or carpaccio. Some people eat only raw foods, while others include cooked food for variety and convenience. Of course, all vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and oils are included in the diet also. The trick is simply in the preparation.
While I could definitely never subscribe to eating 100% raw, I have recently been consuming a greater variety of foods in their raw state. Having gut issues, I find this greatly aids my digestion and it reduces my constant bloating. A favourite meal of mine lately has been a raw sandwich that I have been enjoying at a new raw restaurant in Nolita called Rawlicious. Sick of paying $12 each day for it, I decided to adopt my own version and I’ve posted the recipe below. It is delicious!
- Dehydrated bread or flax crackers (can be made from a variety of ingredients including flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, oil, seaweed etc – buy them at your local health food shop)
- Guacamole (store bought or home-made. If using store bought, look out for added sugars)
- Tomato slices
- Cucumber slices
- Alfalfa sprouts
Spread guacamole on dehydrated bread/flax crackers and top with other ingredients. Press bread together like a sandwich and eat!