Luella Semmes on “Eating in the Raw” posted in Canvas Long Island

Eating a simple raw carrot or celery stick may not be a flavorful experience for most. Dipping it in a mixture of hummus or avocado is an improvement, though the average person may find it difficult to maintain this habit for all three meals of the day. This is the notion most people have about the raw food diet: a tasteless meal without the warmth and smooth textures that most cooked foods provide. If you take a closer look, it’s not just a diet of eating salads and unsavory vegetables. Yes, it requires a challenge on one’s palate, but considering the possible health benefits of eating raw foods can lead to a positive and powerful lifestyle change.

Raw Life Benefits
So what does it mean to eat raw? What are the benefits? Changing ones diet and eating habits is a gradual journey. Our palates have been programmed since childhood to feel the texture and temperature of cooked foods plus our bodies have a digestion process to get used to. The main appeal of eating raw foods is the health benefits. Raw foodists publicize that the diet improves chronic conditions, efficiency of digestion, internal body cleansing, and maximum nourishment by maintaining live enzymes in fruits and vegetables. The byproducts of the diet include increased alertness and feeling of rejuvenation, therapy of mind, body, and spirit, and promoting a cleaner planet by saving energy.

The raw diet is about intense nutrition of uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. If the food is cooked or when the food temperature reaches beyond 118 degrees (depending on the source, some state 104 degrees), enzymes die and vitamins can be depleted. Digestion relies on these lost enzymes and as a result the body expends unnecessary energy to digest the food. Because of the added energy use, people feel more lethargic and sleepy, which has been known to occur after eating a big meal. Raw foodists claim otherwise.

The Raw Pantry
Since foods are eaten raw it’s important to include organic ingredients. If some ingredients are not available in the supermarket they are most likely found in a health food store.

Nuts/Seeds
cashews (raw)
flaxseed
pecans
pine nuts
pumpkin seeds
walnuts
sunflower seeds

Spices/Flavoring 
black pepper, freshly milled
cayenne
cinnamon, freshly ground
cumin
curry powder
nutmeg
nama shoyu
miso
oregano
sea salt
ginger, freshly grated

Herbs
fresh basil
fresh cilantro

Oils/Vinegars
apple cider vinegar
olive oil

Other Ingredients 
Almond butter
carob powder (raw)
tahini
coconut, shredded
dates
garlic
raw honey (rich in enzymes)
maple sugar
maple syrup
prunes
raisins
water, distilled

The Raw Tools
Aside from a good chef’s knife the following are some common appliances that replace the use of a stove.

  • blenders and mixers to whip up soups, sauces, and dressing
  • coffee grinders to powder spices
  • dehydrators and dehydrator sheets used to dry vegetables and fruits. Used for preparing breads, jams, and jellies.
  • food processors to pulverize large batches of ingredients such as converting nuts into flour or vegetables into chopped-sized pieces
  • juicers for fruit smoothes and ice cream
  • molds and pans to create beautiful presentations of various shapes
  • mandoline slicer to create strands of pasta from vegetables
  • water distiller for high quality water

Raw Food Resources
Raw food is an artistic cuisine that rediscovers the intensity of natural flavors with the main focus on maximizing nutrition. It has slowly entered the culinary mainstream with the opening of restaurants, availability of cookbooks, and skilled chefs. Like any other diet, this is not for everyone. Many were initially introduced to “un-cooking” because of weight issues, chronic ailments, and other health issues. The following are some online resources with a chockfull of recipes and blogs. You’ll also find cookbooks in your local library, online bookstores, health food stores and supermarkets such as Whole Foods or Wild By Nature.

Recommended websites:
http://www.goneraw.com/
http://www.rawfusionstore.us/

Recommended books:
RAW: The Uncook Book: New Vegetarian for Life (Regan, 1999) by Juliano Brotman and Erika Lenkert
The Complete Book of Raw Food, Second Edition: Healthy, Delicious Vegetarian Cuisine Made with Living Foods * Includes More Than 400 Recipes from the World’s Top Raw Food Chefs (Hatherleigh, 2008) by Victoria Boutenko, Juliano Brotman, Nomi Shannon, Matt Amsden, and Julie Rodwell

Luella Semmes

Your Kitchen Companion, LLC

email   kitchencompanion@gmail.com  | 631-830-7998

website  www.kitchencompanion.org

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