Going raw

fresh fruits• One question we often get asked is why cooked foods sometimes have a higher level of nutritional content. One of the main reasons for this is that the water content decreases, creating a food that is more concentrated and calorically dense. Consider a large bunch of dark, leafy greens; when raw, they take up a lot of space, but when cooked, that large bunch of greens cooks down to a very small amount of greens. So no, cooked foods are not more nutritionally dense; they just have a lower water content, which reduces the size and volume of the food but keeps the calorie count the same. This means in the raw food lifestyle, you get to eat much more and feel like you are eating much larger volumes of fresh, raw foods.

But what can we do when we can’t or don’t want to eat large volumes of fresh, raw whole foods? Fortunately, we have a number of great alternatives in raw food for those looking for more concentrated nutrition but with all of the nutrition, enzymes, antioxidants and phytonutrients abundant in raw food. Juicing is a fabulous option to get very concentrated nutrition and large amounts of fresh, raw produce daily while being very easy to digest. We also really love dehydrating occasionally for more of a cooked style and concentrated small amounts of food. Just be sure to drink lots of extra water to compensate for the very low moisture content of dehydrated food. The third option we have in raw food is to massage our greens. Massaged greens are greens that have been massaged to break down some of the difficult to digest fibres. Massaging greens also gives them a cooked consistency and volume, giving you the best of both worlds.

Zen Elixer
1 tbs. spirulina1 cup water, almond milk or fresh fruit juice

½ vanilla bean or squeeze of lime juice

1 cup of fresh or frozen berries

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until silky smooth. Enjoy immediately! One of our favourite combos: almond milk, fresh sun ripened blackberries and vanilla bean.

Ultimate digestibility

Juiced and blended food is so much easier to digest, absorb and assimilate, especially for most of us who have compromised digestion. After a lifetime of eating the Standard American Diet, most people are not digesting their food well – particularly not the cellulose in plants – let alone absorbing the nutrients in their food. By blending and juicing, you are taking a lot of the stress off the digestive tract. Juicing or blending in a high speed blender works to break down – and remove, in the case of juicing – the tough fibres as well as break open tough cell walls, releasing all of the nutrients, phytonutrients and antioxidants inside. Because it is already broken down, the body doesn’t have to work hard to get the nutrients and readily absorbs them into the blood stream.

Concentrated greens and nutrition

Most people would have a tough time in a single sitting eating all of the fresh greens, vegetables and fruits that go into a single glass of fresh, green juice. But by extracting only the juice, it becomes feasible to consume large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables far beyond what we would be able to physically eat. This provides our bodies with an extremely concentrated source of all of the beautiful goodness of plants: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Because the blending or juicing has improved the digestibility so dramatically, these nutrients are easily absorbed into the body for tissue repair and growth.

How will I get enough protein? 

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about vegetarian, vegan and raw vegan lifestyles. Meat, dairy, eggs and processed soy are not the only sources of protein; all whole foods contain protein. Furthermore, when you cook any food, the protein decreases by half. Did you know that one bunch of raw spinach contains 10g of protein – 20-25% of the daily requirement for the average adult female? A fresh, raw, green juice could easily contain two bunches of spinach and 20g of protein in a much healthier, nutrient dense and alkalizing state.

Will I have enough energy? I don’t want to feel tired all the time. 

One of the main benefits of a raw food diet is faster, more efficient digestion. This means that instead of the body allocating 10-20% of its energy towards digesting heavy, cooked meals and processed protein shakes, that energy can fuel workouts and day-to-day activities instead. As with every other eating style, one does have to ensure they eat enough and that they are eating a well balanced diet. Most people notice an incredible surge of sustainable daily energy eating a low-fat, raw, vegan diet that powers their cardio, strength and yoga training.

RAW Foundation Culinary Arts and Nutrition Institute is home of the Raw Food Education Experts! Raw Foundation teaches foodies, health enthusiasts and healthcare practitioners around the world how to get even healthier in just five minutes a day, create delicious food-that just happens to be healthy, transform lives and share their passion with others, growing profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get their FREE RECIPE e-zine, Get Healthy in 5 Minutes a Day, at www.rawfoundation.ca

photo © Ana Blazic Pavlovic

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