Raw foodists believe that eating raw and living foods (there is a difference-more on that later) is the healthiest way to fuel the body. Why? Because raw foods naturally contain all the enzymes needed to break them down, or digest them. So our body does not have to dedicate the finite number of enzymes in our body to the mundane task of digesting food. How do they propose you keep your foods enzymes intact? By not heating food over 120? and by sprouting or soaking anything that needs it’s enzymes “woken up” (as in a seed or a nut). That last bit about waking up a food is the live vs raw distinction. More clearly stated by example, you can have a raw almond, but until that nut is soaked it’s enzymes have not been activated or enlivened so it would be raw but not live.
Why all the fuss about enzymes? Imagine enzymes as your own miniature plastic surgeons cruising around your body rejuvenating everything from the skin around your eyes to the tiniest capillaries in your circulatory system. They have plenty to do to keep you looking and feeling your best. Would you ask your plastic surgeon to trade the scalpal for a toilette brush and pay his exorbitant hourly rate to have him clean your bathroom? Probably not the highest and best use of their skills and certainly not a wise expenditure of cash. Why not get a maid to clean at minimum wage and keep Doc focused on the crows feet, tight tummy, and perky butt? This is an over simplification but you get the picture. The body does not have to redirect its enzymes from their natural functions to digesting foods that came in with their enzymes destroyed by cooking or processing.
Now that you’ve got the basic concept, you should know that this is one perspective. There are also those who believe that some foods need to be cooked in order to activate their enzymes. Chinese medicine, for example would advice those diagnosed with “damp heat” to eat very little raw, steaming their veggies and fruits instead. We are not here to debate the pros and cons of every culinary platform, nor advocate the exclusive choice of one way of eating. That would be like deciding to eat only Thai food for the rest of our lives. What about Indian food, Italian, Japanese, and the list goes on. What I do want to share with you, in hopes that you will experiment yourself, is the basic concept of raw foods because the fact is that it offers DELICIOUS ways to get more healthy foods into your diet. Try it on with my book RAW FOR A WEEK to see how your body responds to raw cuisine. Incorporate what works for you and leave room on your plate for other culinary experiences.
The first raw foods book I treated myself to was RAW by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klien. The photos are intoxicating. I felt healthier just looking at them, but attempting the recipes was a humbling defeat. Many were so complicated, calling for a batch of another recipe that recipe called for a half batch of some other recipe, that required a quarter batch of some thing else. Nearly all the recipes call for sprouting, soaking, and/or dehydrating for hours, sometimes days on end. I was intimidated away from raw foods. Until I stumbled upon a class with Chad Sarno, raw foods chef, restaurateur, and the author of Vital Creations. His book may appear laughable at best when compared to the Trotter/Klien masterpiece. It’s a simple spiral bound notebook really. But he makes it very simple to master the basics of raw cooking, includes lots of dishes that can be whipped up with no pre-soaking or dehydrating and encourages you to get creative. Voila, a do-able entry into my raw foods experience.
Fast forward to the end of my first two week RAW cleanses…and I easily saw how this could be habit forming. A little time consuming? Yes. Advance planning needed? Oh yeah. But the food is so fan-flippin’-tastic that I can’t even pretend it’s not worth it. Charlie Trotter & Roxanne Klien may always be out of my league, but I know my way around the Vita-Mix and the Excaliber. By the way don’t even try to go full fledged raw without these two items. The Vita-mix is a blender that I personally believe to be hand made by the Gods. The Excaliber, or King Arthur as I call mine, is the only dehydrator to consider. At the end of the cleanse I felt fabulous; up at 6 with no complaints (not like me at ALL), energetic, clear headed, and well, let’s just say I renewed the sex drive I had in high school and that was a long time ago. Add to all that a healthy skin glow that won’t have your skin peeling for days like some harsh chemical mask and you’ve got a culinary adventure worth pursuing.
RAW FOODS KITCHEN ARSENAL: the gear you’ll need to get started
STOCKING YOUR RAW PANTRY: staples you’ll need to dress up your fresh produce
READING IN THE RAW: recipes and the raw philosophy
USEFUL RAW SITES: