December 17, 2009

How to get More Raw Food Into Your Diet

During the summer it is easy to eat raw foods.  Here in the Pacific Northwest we are blessed with the bounty of backyard gardens, farmer's markets and CSA's.  Nothing gives me more pleasure than to taste raw food just picked from a garden: a ripe tomato still warm from the sun, a handful of arugula, crunching on a green bean.

This time of year when it's cold and wet I want warming food.  Soups, casseroles and roasted vegetables hold more appeal than a cool salad.  Yet the benefits of raw food are so great that they must be included in the diet year-round.

Raw or "live" foods such as vegetables and fruit contain enzymes which enhance digestion.  When a raw food is cooked, the enzymes are destroyed.  When you eat a meal that does not contain enzymes the pancreas secretes enzymes to aid in digestion.  As we get older the pancreas produces fewer and fewer enzymes which is one of the reasons that older folks have a hard time with digestion.  When you eat a meal that contains enzymes the pancreas does not have to work as hard and you retain more of your pancreatic enzymes.

As well, live foods contain vitamins and minerals of which some or all are destroyed by cooking.  Live foods are very energizing and can often contribute to increased energy for people who feel tired or fatigue.

It may be easier than you think to add more raw foods to your diet this winter.  Here is a list of foods that are easy to incorporate into your diet that will contribute enzymes and nutrients to your meals.

9 Easy Ways to Add Raw Foods to Your Winter Repertoire:

1) Bags of baby carrots and snap peas.  If you don't have time to make a salad grab a handful.

2) Pre-washed and cut vegetables.  Many grocery stores such as Trader Joe's have a fabulous selection of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, red pepper, etc.  Some stores will even sell a packaged "slaw" of raw broccoli or cabbage.  Add salad dressing and you have instant-salad!

3) Dried fruit such as raisins and apricots.  As long as it is not heated above 120 F it is considered live.  Most dried fruits are deydrated, dried or sun-dried rather than heated.

4) Nuts.  They are best digested when soaked overnight and dried in an oven with a temperature under 120 F. or when dried in a food dehydrator.  Many people tolerate raw nuts just fine but not everyone.

5) Sauerkraut.  This fermented, live food is an excellent addition to your plate when eating soups and stews.  The brand "Bubbies" is sold in many health food and grocery store with a gourmet section.  They also make pickles.  Less expensive than many of the gourmet, "live" sauerkrauts out there.

6) Avocado.  A meal in a skin.

7) Nut and seed butters such as almond, cashew and sunflower.  Many are "raw."

8) Fruit.  Nature's candy.

9) Pesto and sundried tomatoes are raw.  If you add them to warmed or cooked foods rather than cook with them you will benefit from the raw properties.

My goal for 2010 is to incorporate more raw foods into my family's diet.  I found a great blog today The Best of Raw Foods, that will help me do that.  This blog is loaded with tips and instructions on how to eat raw from getting started to travel, recipes and shopping lists.  Join me in my raw food revolution!

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