What about raw?

I used to be a raw foodie before I got pregnant with my third child, and I have been asked many times, “should I go raw?”  While the raw food diet is extremely healthful and invigorating (some people even claim that their diseases and illnesses vanish on the raw food diet), it’s not for everyone.  Here are some things to consider:
Forget eating out in restaurants.  You could certainly go to a salad bar type place, but you will never get your money’s worth.  We finally just gave up.
Be prepared to plan ahead for meals...several DAYS ahead.  I found I could no longer just pull out a recipe at 3 PM and expect dinner to be ready by 5.  Some recipes involve sprouting, soaking, dehydrating, etc.; all of which take up to several days.
Be prepared to snack often.  Although one tends to be less hungry on a raw food diet, you still will need to bring food with you just about everywhere you go.  Another reason for this is that there are very few items you can buy on the go -- produce needs to be washed, many canned nuts are roasted, etc.  I found I could buy bananas if I was out and about, maybe raisins, but that left a lot to be desired if I was really hungry.

Some things you’ll need to buy should you decide to go raw:

  1. A good dehydrator.  You could make due with a cheap one, but if you’re serious about this lifestyle change, I would recommend going with the top of the line, more versatile Excalibur dehydrator.  You can dehydrate pizza-size breads without the intrusive hole down the center, so typically present in the round dehydrators.
  2. A high-powered food processor.  I ordered a Jack LaLanne blender (like the Vita-Mix only cheaper) but they are now discontinued.  Many raw food sites speak highly of the Vita-Mix, but I’ve personally never tried one.  Read reviews carefully and make sure whatever you buy meets your needs and is something you will enjoy using.
  3. A spiral slicer.  I have a Joyce Chen spiral slicer that I really like.  This is for making raw “pasta” and for also making salads that much more interesting.
  4. A mandolin slicer.  You can slice eggplant for “lasagna” and other veggies for dehydrating.  I have an OXO (pictured at left) that I really love.  We use it to make homemade fries (not raw).
  5. A sprouter.  You can sprout things in shallow bowls, but it’s so much easier to use a sprouter (at left) -- you put sprouting seeds (you can buy all kinds at healthfood stores, usually in little baggies for under a dollar) in each of the trays, pour water on the top, let the water drip down to the bottom, then empty the bottom tray.  Follow instructions depending on the type of seed for how frequently to water.

There are many cookbooks out there for raw food, also.  Just search for "raw cookbook" on Amazon or Google, and you'll see quite a selection!

I love the website GoneRaw.com for recipes that have reviews and comments already listed.  The people who post on that site are very helpful and can answer most questions you may have.

When I was on the raw food diet, I felt amazing and light and really hardly hungry at all.  It’s a lot of work, and it can be a bit alienating when you realize you can’t easily go to church potlucks, birthday parties, family gatherings, etc. without either eating beforehand or bringing your own food.  And be prepared to hear, “what is THAT?” many times over!  I made raw pizza for my daughter to take to her church Vacation Bible School and we all got a lot of interesting stares.  She was a real sport about it and just stated, “we like to eat healthy.”  Good girl!

I would recommend starting slowly -- eating all your fruits and veggies raw for starters, then slowly weaning off cooked foods altogether.  Going “cold turkey” works for some, but I found I liked the challenge of “what can I replace this time?”  Also, withdrawal was much easier to endure when it wasn’t all at once.

My favorite raw recipe is for Raw Tacos -- I’ve seen it listed several places and we just kinda made it our own:

Grind up several cups of raw walnuts (depending on how many people you are feeding) in the food processor, add spices like fajita seasoning or garlic salt (depending on your tastes).  Wrap the mixture in large lettuce leaves and add tomatoes and raw black olives, cilantro and cashew sour cream sauce (ground cashews with lemon and garlic) and enjoy!
I have brought this to my church small group and it’s always been a hit, even with the kids!