No, no, don’t worry I’m not becoming raw! But I recently did 5 days of mostly raw and really learned a lot about raw food diets. Usually when I do a raw-ish few days it ends up very fruitarian-
Breakfast- bananas, apples, nut butter
Lunch- carrot/apple/ginger juice
Snacks- other fruits, kiwi are my favorite when I can find California-grown
Dinner- a gigantic salad with green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, avocado, carrots, walnuts, nutritional yeast and flax oil.
For a few days this is great, but I get bored pretty easily. Maybe it’s the equivalent of the pasta/marinara sauce vegan diet?
This time I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience with preparing raw foods and really challenge myself. It’s also healthy to get out of your own eating pattern to look at the habits you have developed. To anyone who says going vegan is easy, I challenge you to do 5 days raw! There was more than one occasion where I was standing in the local co-op, starving because I hadn’t prepared well, and the smell of vegan mac and cheese was killing me! After an internal debate about why in the world I was keeping myself from such deliciousness, which probably looked hilarious to on-lookers, I went with a seaweed salad and a raw garlic spread on collard greens. This is the dilemma that faces anyone making lifestyle changes and if you are someone who encourages behavior change you have to check yourself occasionally to remember what it’s like.
Also, during this time I finally sat down and read Becoming Raw, the terrific book written by super-star vegan Registered Dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. I picked it up from Book Publishing Co., who are also friends of mine, back at a nutrition conference in the fall.
I’ve been getting asked about raw food diets a lot lately and I’ve never been content with what I’ve read and the knowledge I have ascertained until I read this book. The authors painstakingly reference any research they could find related to raw food diets and discuss it using their expertise as Registered Dietitians and long-time vegans. I think true objectivity is impossible, despite what anyone says, but Davis and Melina are as close as possible. They include a history of raw-food theory written by Rynn Berry and explain contemporary versions of the diet; which is very helpful for anyone working with raw food clients.
My own professional opinion on raw foodism has always been pretty simple. It is an adequate diet where one can get all the nutrients they need (If B-12 is supplemented) and all of those fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds provide phytochemicals and anti-oxidants in huge quantity, which is health-promoting and chronic disease fighting. But I don’t think there’s enough research to say that it is any better than a whole-foods based cooked vegan diet. I just don’t think foods like lentils and quinoa need to be eliminated. There are plenty of philosophical and environmental reasons to eat raw and I agree with them, which is why I include a plethora of raw food in my diet, but I’m just not convinced that being fully raw is different enough to justify limiting so many vegan options. Though I’ll continue to read the research and advise all of my clients to eat more raw food and to read Becoming Raw.
The authors were kind enough to let me post two recipes from their book. I made this Brilliant Broccoli salad on my first day raw and loved it so much I made it again the next day! The sum is greater than the parts where the tanginess of the lemon and cranberries are a perfect compliment to the strong taste of tahini- and broccoli florets are the perfect vehicle.
1 bunch broccoli
2 carrots, grated
1/2 small red onion, finely diced (I used about 1/4)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 sunflower seeds
3/4 cup Lemon-Tahini Dressing (recipe below)
Wash broccoli, remove stems. Peel and grate the stems and chop the broccoli tops into very small florets. Combine stems, florets, grated carrots, diced onion into bowl. Add dressing and stir well to coat the vegetables. Season with salt to taste. Add cranberries and sunflower seeds and toss briefly. Serve immediately!
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup flaxseed oil (I used a little less)
3 T nama shoyu or tamari
2 T nutritional yeast
2 T maple syrup or other sweetener
2 garlic cloves
Ground black pepper
Combine in blender and and process on high speed for a few seconds until well blended. Makes about two salads worth.
This recipe for raw walnut tacos is not from Becoming Raw, but it was another meal I really enjoyed. I first experienced it when Brian Davidson and his wife Jenny made it for me back when he was fully raw. There are a number of raw walnut taco recipes on the internet and they all are basically a variation of the one below. Now you aren’t going to fool a carne-asada loving omnivore, but the similarity to tacos is striking. I love these!
Raw Walnut Tacos
1 1/2 C walnuts (some suggest soaking them in water briefly beforehand)
1.5 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
2 t nama shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
cayenne to taste
Ground walnuts in a blender or food processor until you have very small pieces. Place walnuts in a bowl and mix in remaining ingredients. Serve with tomatoes and avocados in lettuce or kale leaves.
What are your favorite raw vegan recipes? Please share them with me! And I really do recommend that all vegans do a raw food challenge and learn more about preparing and eating raw foods. Have a great weekend!