A plant-based diet can mean one of several things. For some it includes cooked food. For others it means eating foods as minimally processed as possible. This generally means raw, or living foods. Cooking food is processing food. Cooking changes your food and the way your body reacts to it. Many people choose raw or living foods to heal their body, to lose weight, to increase energy and to feel more in tune with the divine.
While there are more pre-packaged raw food items available all the time, eating raw means making your own freshly prepared meals for the most part. This is ideal because it is less expensive and your food is fresher and tailored to your taste preferences.
If you are new to making raw foods the prep can seem daunting. I remember when I was very new to the concept, I opened a raw food recipe book one afternoon to plan my dinner. So many of the recipes required dehydrating something for 10 hours. Ten hours! I wanted dinner now! I closed that book and put raw food aside for a while. It was too overwhelming and foreign. Over time that changed as I learned new techniques, got used to the idea of dehydrating and learned how to plan ahead.
When I'm teaching folks about making raw food, I focus first on teaching the basic recipes and skills that are the foundation of making a wide variety of dishes. In this way you are able to quickly begin to create your own recipes based on your own personal tastes and on what ingredients you have on hand.
The basic things you need to know how to make are:
- Vinaigrette dressing–You can use it as a marinade, dress a wide variety of vegetables, change out the ingredients to create flavors from around the world. You will never want to eat bottled dressing again.
- Kale salad–A staple for today's health conscious folks. Combine it with what you learn about vinaigrette dressings to create your own personal twist.
- Marinated vegetables–Use what you learned about making vinaigrette dressing to marinate broccoli or your favorite veggies. Soooo many things you can do here by changing the veggies or changing the marinade. Even add them to cooked pasta for a partially raw dish.
- Nut or seed pate–This makes a filling for your wraps and rolls, a dip, a spread, or great lunch box food.
- A chia seed or other porridge–This filling breakfast will start your day off right.
- Fruit smoothie–The perfect breakfast for those on the go. Want some extra veggies? Make it a green smoothie.
- Marinara sauce–Not only tops your veggie noodles but works as a pizza sauce, a salad dressing, a catsup, or add it to your pate.
- Nut or seed cheese–Spread it, fill it, crumble it, spice it up, keep it on hand for a last-minute creation.
- Basic raw dessert–Like chocolate? Try brownies. Apple pie? No problem. Raw desserts are quick to make.
- An understanding of spice blends from around the world–Combine this with any of the above to make meals that will knock your socks off.
Fortunately these things are all very simple to make. With these items in your recipe box you are ready to experiment and explore the wide world of raw food. Once you are familiar with the ingredients, most of which you probably already have or at least know about, you can begin to expand on the basic recipes and start to incorporate dehydrated breads, crackers and veggies.
The recipes I create take the basics and combine them, expand on them, and layer them in delightful ways. They begin with the understanding of the importance of balancing the 5 flavors of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy. You will find a wide variety of them here in the Recipe Box.
I created my recipe book, Food For The Soul From Ama's Kitchen: Soulful Vegan and Raw Vegan Recipes to help guide you as you become a raw food gourmet. I share the recipes that I use on a regular basis to feed my family.
I'd like to hear from you. Do you have questions about eating or making raw foods? Post them below and I'll answer them for you.