Raw foods – what are they?
Raw food is not actually something new and unknown to us. We love to snack on fresh carrots, eat cherries, plums and apples straight from the branch, and pick berries off bushes and in the forest. Raw food is enjoyable and helps boost our health because it contains enzymes and heat sensitive vitamins that are lost during the baking or cooking process.
Internationally renowned nutritionists Joel Fuhrman, Gillian McKeith, and Colin Campbell advise people to eat mostly raw food. They see it as a possibility to prevent some of the diseases linked to modern lifestyles – diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, etc.
Even though most raw foodists are vegetarians, raw food also includes fresh unheated animal products. According to the principles of raw foodism, foods should be as unprocessed as possible. This also means that fruits and vegetables are not sprayed, waxed, steamed at high temperatures, or dried.
Raw foodism values eating fruits, vegetables and berries when they are in season, as they contain many substances that protect and restore the organism (polyphenols, flavonoids, etc.). Even more important is the consumption of fresh greens – different salads, herbs, and weeds. Dried fruits and berries can satisfy a craving for sweets and can also take the place of fresh fruits when they are not in season.
What to bear in mind in the case of raw food?
A healthy diet includes a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, glucose and fructose, fats and amino acids and helps the body absorb nutrients more effectively. Raw foodists who leave the animal component out of their diets completely and do not pay attention to balancing their diets may easily develop vitamin B12, protein, iron, or other nutrient deficiencies.
That is why it is important to make sure that when your diet excludes soy products, which are commonly used as a substitute for meat, your daily meals still include enough irreplaceable amino acids, such as lysine and methionine (note: beans cannot be consumed raw!) and your body still gets all other essential nutrients.
It is also important to know that Omega-6 fatty acids, which raw foodists usually obtain from nuts, seeds and corresponding spreads, should not take up too much space on the menu. The availability and balance of nutrients should be consciously monitored.
Strict raw food diets are not recommended for children and adolescents. Raw vegetables are also not suitable in the case of many digestive maladies. If you are not experiencing any digestive problems, we recommend increasing the consumption of raw foods up to 50% of all consumed food in the case of both adults and children.
Why are raw foods healthy?
Most foods are most beneficial when they are raw. When food is processed, especially when it is heated, fried or grilled, chemical reactions create so-called Maillard substances (e.g., browning in meat and the fragrance specific to that), which are the cause of many modern illnesses. That is why raw foodists avoid foods that have been heated over 42°C.
It is important to note that the Maillard reaction can also occur when food has been stored for a long period (for example, in the case of cheeses or raw ham). Processing food at temperatures below 42°C preserves many of the vitamins, sensitive fatty acids, and enzymes that help the body absorb vitamins.
Everyone knows that vegetables are good for us and give us plenty of vitamins and minerals. However, mainly eating heavily processed vegetables, whether they are boiled, fried or grilled, provides us with fewer beneficial substances. Food that has been processed as gently and as little as possible helps to ensure that our organism has all the necessary nutrients it needs to grow, renew itself, and function properly.
This means that if you want to obtain all the necessary vitamins and minerals from your food, you should consume as much raw and gently (at low temperatures and/or for a short time) processed food as possible.
The three main methods of processing raw food are drying, crushing (in a blender) and pressing.
Unique way to preserve the enzymes in food. All foods can be dried, from berries to meat. Ovens with fans can also be used for drying, but it is easier to dry food in a special food drier or dehydrator, where it is possible to dry larger quantities and do it more evenly. Here are some ideas and recipes to get you started on drying food.
Dried rainbow bread
– 4 cups of flax seeds
– 5 cups of water
– 3 different colored bell peppers
– A few tomatoes
– 1 stick of celery
– 1 cup of red cabbage
– Onion, garlic
– A handful of culinary herbs
– 1 tbsp of sea salt
Soak the flax seeds in water until all the water has been absorbed (about 1 hour). Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and herbs. Chop the rest of the vegetables. Mix everything together, spread the mixture on the drier plate, and dry at 40°C for 8-24 hours. For a simple bread, you can use just the flax seeds, water, cabbage, carrots, herbs, and salt.
Fruit leather is dried fruit puree. It can be made from all fruits (e.g., mangos, bananas, etc.). Peel the fruit and puree it until it is homogeneous. It can be flavoured with vanilla or cinnamon. Next, spread a thin layer of puree on a sheet of baking paper and let it dry at 40°C until it resembles stretchy peel. Children love it!
Dried fruit chips. Slice up different fruits – for example, apples, pears, bananas, and kiwis.
Sun-dried tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes and lay the slices on a drying rack. You can sprinkle the slices with sea salt. If there is enough sunlight, you can also dry the slices in the sun.
Biscuits are made from ordinary fruits, almonds or other nuts. For example, you can mix grated apples, ground almonds or other nuts, sweeten the mixture with raisins or honey, and flavour it with cinnamon. Let the biscuits dry for about 20 hours.
Crushing & blending
Smoothies are the perfect food for a modern person who cares about his or her health. Drinks mixed from fruits and vegetables, berries, green lettuces, and water are a quick and delicious way to supply yourself with vitamins and minerals in their natural form. The advantage of smoothies is that all the components are already crushed, so the body can get the most nutrients out of easily absorbed and digested food.
Weeds, culinary herbs, and the green leaves of vegetables can also be used as greens here. Vegetable leaves contain more proteins, vitamins, and minerals than the corresponding roots we normally use. Smoothies are usually made from greens (about 40%), fruits and berries (about 60%), and water.
You can add coconut oil, soaked almonds or other nuts, raisins or other dried fruits (dates, peaches, plums), as well as spices (vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom) for flavouring.
Green fruit smoothie
– A handful of greens
– 1 orange
– 1-2 handfuls of berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc)
To make a smoothie, first blend the greens and water in a blender until a smooth mass is formed. Then add peeled and chopped fruits and berries. Blend until smooth. If the resulting juice is too thick, add water and blend again.
When pressing juices, it is important to make sure that all vital nutrients are preserved and not destroyed by too much heat. When you press juice yourself, you know you get a high quality drink with no added sugar, fragrance enhancers, food dyes or preservatives. Do not throw out the dry mass created during pressing – you can use it for cakes, soups, and bread.
Bibliography: Semler, Edmund. (2006). PhD thesis ”Raw Food: the Historical, Therapeutic and Theoretical Aspects of an Alternative Diet”. Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany.