Over the next couple weeks we’ll be exploring how to add more plant-based raw foods into your diet. Summer is the perfect time to experiment with raw foods because there are so many fruits and veggies in season. Plus, light and refreshing raw recipes really hit the spot on hot, sunny days.
I’ve done a lot of experimenting with raw plant-based foods over the last decade. Why? Because they provide disease-fighting antioxidants, gut-friendly fiber, inflammation-fighting polyphenols, and a host of nourishing vitamins and minerals, and I wanted to get in on that good shizzle! But despite these benefits, I’ve noticed that this type of cuisine comes with a lot of baggage. Either it’s too complicated, too expensive or too rigid.
I love raw foods. They make me feel fantastic. But that doesn’t mean I’m 100% raw or that you need to be in order to feel the benefits of this way of eating. For me, learning to prepare and enjoy delicious raw foods is just about adding more healthy nourishment into my diet. And with a little know-how, it’s easy to avoid common pitfalls associated with any approach to healthy eating.
Today, I want to share some fabulous tips that I pulled together with my dear friend, Gena Hamshaw. Gena just released her new book, Choosing Raw, which is a gorgeous cookbook filled with delicious (and easy) high-raw recipes and knowledge.
You can also join me and Gena for my very first Crazy Sexy Cookbook Club here! We’ve put together a full day meal plan with recipes and shopping list, plus you have a chance to win her awesome new cookbook (entry details below). Now, let’s get ready and brush up on some helpful smarts that’ll prepare us for some fun in the kitchen.
10 Tips for Eating More Raw Plant-Based Foods
1. Add First, Subtract Later
As you begin any dietary transition, it’s tempting to fixate on what you’re eliminating. Instead, think about how this shift will expand your options. Eating more plant-based foods may encourage you to experiment with global cuisines, along with new herbs and spices. Integrating more raw foods into your diet will introduce you to innovative new preparation methods. Don’t think about what you’ll need to give up right now. Think about what you’re gaining.
2. Make Small, Sustainable Changes
It’s tempting to approach dietary change—whether that’s going vegan, going raw, or simply improving the quality of what you eat—as a seismic shift. But small, gradual changes are usually more sustainable than rapid and dramatic ones.
Don’t be afraid to take baby steps. Maybe this means adding a green smoothie or juice to your morning routine; maybe it means swapping out your regular lunch for a big, raw salad. Such changes can lead to profound health improvement over time.
3. Keep It Simple
Raw foods don’t have to be hard, but they can be. (There’s nothing easy about dehydrating a raw quiche, or making an authentic raw tamale!) As you get started, stick to the basics: soups, salads, slaws. These foods will help you to get acquainted with raw recipe creation without making you feel stressed out. Over time, you can certainly expand your repertoire and experiment with some fancier techniques. But master the basics first.
4. Keep It Fresh
On that same note, a lot of folks ask me whether or not it’s necessary to invest in a food dehydrator. My answer? No! Dehydrators are great for raw snacks (like kale chips, fruit leathers, and flax crackers). But these goodies will take up far less space in your diet, than salads, soups, smoothies, vegetable “pastas,” and other easy, accessible recipes that can be made with no more than a good set of paring knives and a rudimentary blender.
5. Prep Your Fruits and Veggies
Over the weekend (or on whatever day of the week you have a little spare time), take thirty or forty minutes to prepare your fruits and veggies. Wash produce. Grate veggies (like carrots) for salad. Peel, chop, and freeze bananas. Wash and dry your greens. This may feel like a chore, but being prepared will open the door to healthier choices through the week!
6. Plan Ahead
Speaking of prepping things in advance, a little planning goes along way. We all live in the real world, and it may not be possible for you to map out an entire week of meal plans or recipes each and every Sunday. But try to have a rough idea of two or three recipes that you intend to make over the course of the week, as well as a few staples (salad dressings, hummus, cooked grains and legumes). Purchase groceries accordingly and use leftovers wisely.
7. Shop In Bulk
Raw food diets are rich in nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, all of which can add up in cost considerably. In order to offset the expense, start to shop the bulk bins at your local health food store. The costs are lower, and there are often deals or specials. You can also find inexpensive dry legumes and grains, which are also an essential part of a well-rounded, plant-based diet.
8. Snack Smart
Raw food snacks are some of the easiest around. Simply pack up some raw almonds and raisins or goji berries. If you’d prefer, just keep a piece of fruit in your desk or in your bag at all times. It’s easy to snack well with raw foods.
9. Get Inspired
It’s hard to find food that’s more visually appealing, innovative, or colorful than raw food. If you’re just starting out, or if you’re in a rut and looking to be reinvigorated, simply browse through some raw food blogs or cookbooks. The images you see will surely put the wind in your culinary sails again.
10. Find Community
Having support makes a big difference as you undertake lifestyle change. Join a vegan meet-up or find a potluck near you. Check out Happy Cow to find vegan-friendly restaurants in your area. Use the Internet to your advantage: there are so many vegan and raw food blogs nowadays. Many of the folks reading these blogs are just getting started too, and you may be able to encourage one another.