Adventures In Raw: How Anyone Can Eat More Raw

As I’ve been mentioning in my posts all week, I’ve been wanting to talk about how easy eating raw is and how anyone can do it. Now, eating high raw or 100% raw is quite an undertaking and involves a lot of planning and dietary changes for the average person, but you don’t have to eat fully raw to reap the benefits of raw food!

  • Add in more fresh fruits and veggies

I know some people can’t handle certain veggies raw, and that’s okay. But many veggies are more nutritious when eaten in their raw state, and personally, I think most taste better raw. I’m obsessed with raw cauliflower and I prefer eating my greens and carrots fresh. Even things like sweet potatoes can be eaten raw (if dehydrated) and you’ll definitely be getting more nutrients out of them when they’re fresh. As for fruits, it’s even easier to go raw! And while you’re at it, why not try some new fruits and veggies when you’re making a grocery list? You’ll never know what you may love if you don’t try it.

This should be the basis of everyone's diet--fresh produce!

This should be the basis of everyone’s diet–fresh produce!

  • Sprout and soak your grains and legumes

Beans and grains can be hard for some people to digest, and for good reason. They contain lectins and other anti-nutrients which can cause lots of problems in your body. No wonder the paleo people are so against grains and legumes! But you don’t need to give them up…just follow in the footsteps of traditional cultures who always soak and sprout their grains and beans. Soaking and fermenting not only eliminate the issues with these foods, but they also unlock the nutritional properties of them, so you get more bang for your buck. Take some time to prepare these foods properly, and your body will thank you…and so will your wallet, because buying dried beans and grains is cheaper than buying them canned or pre-packaged.

If you eat wheat, and love bread, make the switch to sprouted grain products like Ezekiel. Their breads are different than most, since they’re made from whole sprouted grains instead of nutrient-poor flour. I don’t eat this anymore since it’s not raw, but it’s a good transitional product!

I miss these sprouted sunflower seeds...so good!

I miss these sprouted sunflower seeds…so good!

  • Buy from the bulk section.

I love getting my dried fruit and nuts from the bulk section at Whole Foods because then I can buy only what I need. Whole Foods in particular has a great selection of raw nuts, sun-dried fruits and even things like raw granola so it’s perfect for the raw foodie. Some of my favorites from this section include Medjool dates, hemp hearts, Living Intentions sprouted sunflower seeds and greens, raw mixed nuts, rawpumpkin seeds and Turkish figs.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you’re striving to be high raw, like I am, it can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be ‘perfect’. The thing is, it’s okay to eat cooked foods if that’s what your body (or mind) wants. If you stick to plant-based meals, there’s no reason to feel guilty. Just remind yourself that you chose this lifestyle for a reason, because it’s so nourishing and healthful, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat ‘perfectly’ all the time. In fact, I’m going out to eat with my parents tonight for Valentine’s Day (hot date, right 😉 ), and while I would rather stay in and make one of my delicious raw meals, I’m going to enjoy a cooked meal tonight and then get back on track with my regular lifestyle!

I might be eating a cheeseless vegan pizza like this and even though I'd rather eat a raw dinner, I'll still enjoy myself.

I might be eating an artisan, organic cheeseless vegan pizza like this and even though I’d rather eat a raw dinner, I’ll still enjoy myself.

What’s something you prefer to eat raw instead of cooked?

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WIAW: Eat Yo Veggies

“Sooooo…what exactly do raw vegans eat?” While I personally haven’t been posed that question just yet, I know it’s a commonly asked question just from my experience as a vegan and from browsing raw vegan forums. But really, anybody who eats different from the ‘norm’ is probably asked this question and you know it can get annoying.

It probably comes as no surprise, but I’m eating a LOT of veggies as a raw vegan. And I mean a lot. Most days I eat veggies at lunch, snack and dinner and on Tuesday, I happened to cram veggie servings into each meal. Currently, I’m feeling great eating this way and I’m excited to continue my adventures into the raw foods world, but more on that in Friday’s post. For now, let me share some of what I’ve been eating lately!

Carrot cake-inspired protein chia pudding. No better way to start the day than with a serving of veggies!

Carrot cake-inspired protein chia pudding. No better way to start the day than with a serving of veggies!

This is one of my favorite breakfasts at the moment. Sadly, my vanilla Sunwarrior is almost out and I have to wait til I can afford it again to reorder more from Amazon. It pairs so well with carrots (I used one full-size carrot here)+raisins and coconut manna. Speaking of which, Nutiva’s  raw coconut manna is amazing and cheaper than Artisana’s coconut butter!

Cilantro lime cauliflower rice in the making. Better than Chipotle's.

Cilantro lime cauliflower rice in the making. Better than Chipotle’s.

I’ve never been a huge fan of rice, brown or white. It’s just a filling carb and I haven’t eaten it in a couple years (other than in sushi occasionally) because it does nothing for me. Cauliflower rice, on the other hand, is incredible. I prefer the texture to rice and when seasoned with fresh-squeezed lime juice and cilantro, plus a little nooch and onion powder, you won’t miss regular rice at all.

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar or salt)

1/2 head raw cauliflower, rinsed

handful fresh cilantro leaves

lime juice, to taste

1 tsp nutritional yeast

pinch onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until cauliflower is about the consistency of rice. Serves 1-2.

Superfood salad for lunch featuring cilantro lime cauliflower rice. Base of spinach+arugula, with cauliflower rice, hemp hearts, spicy sprouted sunflower seeds, Farmhouse Culture raw jalapeno kraut and a little raw taco filling.

Superfood salad for lunch featuring cilantro lime cauliflower rice. Base of spinach+arugula, with cauliflower rice, hemp hearts, spicy sprouted sunflower seeds, Farmhouse Culture raw jalapeno kraut and a little raw taco filling.

This salad was completely random, and as per usual, was amazing. Funny how the most random combos turn out the best. I’m sad that I’m out of my favorite sauerkraut (Farmhouse Culture brand, smoked jalapeno flavor) but that just means a trip to Whole Foods is in order, amiright? Sauerkraut is my weird obsession–I can’t get enough of the sour, spicy tang and the fact that it’s a natural probiotic is even better. This stuff is expensive, but it lasts me about a month, so it’s worth it.

No veggies in this, but still good!

No veggies in this, but still good!

I made the superfood cups from the Sweetly Raw blog, only these were basically just triple coconut cups. EV coconut oil, coconut manna, a little lucuma powder and flaked coconut on top. Perfect for people who are as obsessed with coconut as I am. Can’t believe it used to be one of my major fear foods…plant-based saturated fats no longer scare me!

Crazy for Coconut Cups (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

2 1/2 tbsp melted coconut oil (use extra virgin for best taste)

1 tbsp melted coconut manna

1/2 tsp lucuma powder (optional)

1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

In a small bowl, mix melted coconut oil, manna and lucuma powder until smooth. Pour into cupcake liners and top with coconut flakes. Makes 3 small cups.

Taco Tuesday! Lettuce wrap tacos for lunch with homemade guac, more kraut, hemp seeds and raw taco filling.

Taco Tuesday Monday! Lettuce wrap tacos for lunch with homemade guac, more kraut, hemp seeds and raw taco filling.

I finally got some good avocados at Whole Foods this weekend! I’d given up on making guac at home because the avocados I was getting were mealy and too brown, even when they weren’t quite ripe. Maybe they’re coming back into season now or I picked well, because at least one of the avocados I got turned out perfectly creamy and ripe. Mexican food to me is alllllll about the guac, and going raw hasn’t changed that for me. I definitely prefer the fresh crunch of romaine hearts to traditional taco shells and I love loading them up with my favorite raw healthy fats, like hemp and sunflower seeds and guacamole, of course.

Lots of good stuff on my snackplates.

Lots of good stuff on my snackplates.

More snackplate action.

More snackplate action.

I never skimp on the veggies when it comes to snack time! This is when I like to get creative with my veggies, like romaine+dates or dried figs or dehydrated sweet potato ‘chips’. Plain raw veggies get the job done too. And I’ve been loving blackberries lately since I got some on sale for $2 this weekend at WF. Is that a steal, or what? I never used to like blackberries, but blame it on my changing palate since going raw–I love them now!

The raw sweet potato fries, courtesy of Rawmazing.

The raw sweet potato fries, courtesy of Rawmazing.

I made some incredible sweet potato ‘fries’ in the dehydrator yesterday, so I will be making this raw poutine once I get some mushrooms for the gravy. I know poutine is big in Canada, and I’ve actually never tried it (nor want to) but this raw version looks incredible! I’m becoming more and more creative while eating raw and I love it. It’s the perfect way to get me out of my food ruts, and I’m learning to love all kinds of different veggies. Of course, I still have my favorites (ahem romaine, spinach, carrots, cauliflower and sweet potatoes) but I’m up for trying new things all the time and adding new favorites to my rotation.

Other than that, my dinners have mostly been raw macro bowls on top of greens or kelp/carrot/zucchini noodles with some kind of sauce. I like how easy it is to make dinner now, but that I can go more creative if I want to.

From way back in December, but just pretend this was recently.

From way back in December, but just pretend this was recently.

Dessert has often been protein banana softserve, usually with spinach blended in for an extra serving of greens. I’m not a crazy 30 bananas a day raw vegan, but I usually eat 1 or 2 bananas a day at the moment, always in softserve form. Something about an unfrozen banana freaks me out now, I just prefer the taste and texture of frozen!

So that’s what this raw vegan’s been eating lately! I’ll be back with a post on Friday with some of my current raw food staples and how anyone can incorporate more raw foods into their diet…even omnivores!

What are some of your favorite veggies?

WIAW: Raw Til 6

One of my resolutions for this year, and also one of my goals last summer was to eat more raw. I love so many raw foods, and I prefer most of my produce raw too, but there are some cooked things I still love and don’t really want to give them up just yet. Maybe someday I’ll be fully raw but for now, I’m trying the popular Raw Til 4 plan, where you basically eat all raw until dinner time. Since I eat my afternoon snack around 4, I’m changing the name to Raw Til 6 to fit my schedule better 😉

Basically how I’m going about it is eating all raw until dinner, and then for dinner/dessert I’ll eat something cooked or something that’s not necessarily raw if I’m feeling like it. See, I love my roasted sweet potatoes/peanut flour/grain free pizza and since I usually eat these for dinner, it makes sense to keep them in my food rotation. My other meals will stay pretty similar to how they are now —> breakfast will be Sunwarrior/Garden of Life raw protein or chia seed pudding or a green smoothie or raw flax cakes, lunch will be a salad or lettuce wraps or a protein smoothie made with raw protein powder, and my snacks will be banana softserve or snackplates with plenty of fresh produce or homemade raw desserts. What I won’t be doing is restricting my fats or carbs. I personally don’t believe that 80/10/10 is the most balanced way to eat (I love my fruit but I can’t survive on just carbs) and I don’t want to go raw gourmet either because I don’t want to rely so heavily on nuts and avocados for every meal. Instead, I’ll be sticking pretty close to my normal macros (45% carbs, 25% protein, 30% fat) and just incorporating more raw foods. I’m also planning on making plenty of raw dinners as well because I’ve been bookmarking a TON of amazing-looking raw entrees and I’m really excited to try them out. I’m also going to start sprouting legumes and making my own almond milk and I can’t wait to try all these new things!

Enough of the wordiness, let’s get to the food. I’ve also got 2 recipes for you today, and another one linked up from my other blog, so I’m going pretty recipe-crazy over here!

Homemade [cheaters] almond milk.

Homemade [cheaters] almond milk.

I’ve been meaning to start doing this for a loooooong time, since there have been a lot of posts and articles out there lately discussing the potential harmful effects of carrageenan and other things added to packaged almond milk. It’s easier than you’d think to whip up your own almond milk at home, especially when you take the cheater’s route like I did. I had some fresh ground raw almond butter on hand and within a few seconds of blending with water, I had homemade almond milk, raw and completely free of unnecessary ingredients!

3 Ingredient 3 Second Almond Milk (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 1 tbsp raw almond butter
  • 4 cups water (can use filtered, or just plain tap water)
  • pinch stevia extract (optional)

In a large food processor or blender (I used my Ninja processor), add all the ingredients and blend or pulse for a few seconds or until it turns white-ish and creamy. Makes 4 1-cup servings. 

Superbowl snacks, gone raw.

Superbowl snacks, gone raw.

By now, we all know the outcome of the Superbowl. Even though I’m a fan of the Denver Broncos, being raised in Colorado, I’m not a diehard fan by any means and I honestly didn’t even watch the game so I’m not really upset by their loss. Besides, the Superbowl is just an excuse for snacks, am I right? This year, I made my raw jalapeno poppers (if you haven’t made them and love spicy things, I suggest you do!) and I had one alongside some raw cauliflower, local salsa, spicy guac made fresh at my Whole Foods, spicy sprouted sunflower seeds and a dried fig. This was the perfect snack plate for a spicy food lover like me and I didn’t even care who won the game!

A typical raw breakfast.

A typical raw breakfast.

My breakfasts have been pretty simple lately, though I’m planning on trying some new things soon. I’ve mostly been making raw protein puddings–Sunwarrior or Garden of Life raw protein powder mixed with water/homemade almond milk and sometimes raw coconut flour to thicken, and topped with pomegranate and raw nuts or seeds. It covers all the macros, tastes great and is beyond easy to whip up in just a minute.

Protein chia pudding topped with pom seeds and raw mixed nuts.

Protein chia pudding topped with pom seeds and raw mixed nuts.

Protein-packed chia puddings have been happening for breakfasts and snacks, too. I forgot how much I adore the thick and creamy texture that chia seeds make when they gel up. Honestly, I could eat these all day but it really is all about the toppings and mix ins. The one above was Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+homemade almond milk+1/2 tbsp chia seeds and topped in the morning with pom seeds and raw mixed nuts.

Sunwarrior vanilla+frozen cherries+homemade almond milk+baby kale+coconut flour smoothie, with a side of raisins and raw mixed nuts.

Sunwarrior vanilla+frozen cherries+homemade almond milk+baby kale+coconut flour smoothie, with a side of raisins and raw mixed nuts.

Lunches have been a little bit less predictable. On Monday I had a green protein smoothie with some raw trail mix (just raisins & raw nuts) on the side. Really quick and easy to make and pretty filling, too. I love how eating raw makes food prep so much easier. Sure, I’ve been using my dehydrator and food processor a lot but it’s so hands-off and meals come together so quickly.

BLA lettuce wraps and pineapple. Romaine hearts+homemade coconut 'bacon' and Whole Foods fresh guacamole.

BLA lettuce wraps and pineapple. Romaine hearts+homemade coconut ‘bacon’ and Whole Foods fresh guacamole.

Tuesday’s lunch was a little more creative. I made a batch of raw coconut ‘bacon’ in the morning and since I’m basically addicted to it, I decided to incorporate it into my lunch in a creative way. Enter the BLA wraps. The BLA is a spin on the classic BLT, only without the tomato…and avocado in its place. This raw version was incredibly good and I miiiiight have it for lunch again today.

Homemade raw banana protein bars.

Homemade raw banana protein bars.

Going mostly raw has made me more creative in the kitchen! I love that I have so much time to experiment with recipes right now (truth time–I’m still itching to get my first post-grad job!) and I’ve been making a lot of things that I probably wouldn’t normally if I was still eating mostly cooked foods. Like these raw protein bars. I’ve stopped buying Larabars for the time being to save some money and also so I can try making my own raw bars. These are NOT the same consistency as Larabars but I still love ’em…and who says being raw means no protein? I’ve actually been keeping my protein levels up (about 25-30% of my daily macros) during this raw challenge with raw protein powders/nuts/seeds and I’m planning on sprouting lentils soon so stay tuned for that!

Raw Banana Bread Protein Bars (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 2 ripe bananas (best when spotty)
  • 2 scoops Garden of Life RAW protein powder (or any raw plant-based protein powder)
  • 3 tbsp raw coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

In a food processor or high-powered blender, pulse bananas until smooth and liquefied. Add in remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Divide into 6 large balls and flatten into bar shapes. Makes 6 bars, ~100 calories and 8 grams protein per bar.

Zucchini pasta and raw pumpkin seed pesto for dinner.

Zucchini pasta and raw pumpkin seed pesto for dinner.

So far, my dinners have been raw because that’s what I’ve been craving, even though it’s been snowing here and below freezing! I’ve been making raw pastas with zucchini, carrots and kelp noodles and tossing them in a nut or seed based sauce, pairing it with fruit and calling it dinner. Raw dinners are the simplest things ever, but I’m learning to appreciate simplicity!

Do you prefer homemade or store-bought when it comes to bars? Do you like your produce cooked or raw? 

Friday Five: Foodie Edition

Thanks for all the helpful words on my last post! It’s hard to deal with well-meaning but unhelpful advice from family and friends, but it’s a good reminder that we have to take those words with a grain of salt and do what’s best for our health.

I wanted to bring back the Friday Five posts again and this week, I’m focusing on some fun food things for all my fellow foodies out there!

1. I found some new Larabar flavors…at Target!

You all know my love for Target and Larabars…so put the two together and it’s a perfect match! I actually generally don’t buy my Larabars from Target since they don’t usually have a huge selection like Whole Foods and Sprouts do. But since they have a lot of New Years resolution health stuff right now, they had some Uber bars on sale for $1 each, including 2 new-to-me flavors! You definitely can’t beat that–and they sound downright delicious too.

Ummmm, yum!

Ummmm, yum!

2. I’m obsessed with making grain-free flatbreads. 

First, it was this flatbread made into grain free stuffing. Then it was my staple socca. Now it’s this focaccia, which happens to be egg-free also! If you think grain free baking is hard, try it without eggs. It’s really fun to experiment with grain-free flours and when something turns out delicious, it’s even better.

3. I’m really craving the produce of spring and summer. 

Winter is hard enough as it is, with plenty of cold days, snow and the general feeling of blah-ness once the holidays are over. At least I didn’t get hit with the crazy cold weather here in Colorado (we’ve been in the 40s and 50s, which I can’t complain too much about) and we get over 300 days of sunshine each year, so my mood stays the same. The one thing I crave (other than warmer weather) is spring and summer produce. I miss all the berries, the watermelon, the peaches and cherries, the asparagus and the artichokes. Winter produce just isn’t cutting it–I’m already sick of squashes and citrus. At least I still have my beloved pomegranate…only 68 days until spring arrives!

I miss having fresh berries for my breakfast!

I miss having fresh berries for my breakfast!

4. I haven’t had peanut flour in over 6 months…and I kinda want it again.

Remember when I was addicted to ordering food from iHerb? Yeah, me neither since the last time I ordered from them was last May! I don’t know what happened, but I guess I got more budget-conscious and my monthly orders stopped happening. I used to eat peanut flour AT LEAST once per day, and I haven’t had it since June. I just miiiiight end up ordering some more with some of my graduation money, but then again, it might all go towards clothes #sorrynotsorry

5. I’m debating going back on the raw foods train.

I actually did this for quite a while last summer and then I stopped once school started back up and fall came and there was less good produce around. I’m not planning on going 100% raw anytime soon, but I’d like to reincorporate more raw foods into my diet. I’m a big fan of eating whole, minimally-processed foods and this just takes it an extra step. This might be more realistic once spring happens, because there will be more produce, and I love loading up my plate with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, but in the meantime, I’m going to be buying more raw things, like nuts/seeds and making my own almond milk and stuff like that. I have a lot more time on my hands now that I’m just looking for a job, so I have tons of time to experiment in the kitchen!

I'm going to be making more recipes from this book.

I’m going to be making more recipes from this book.

Anyone else missing the warm weather produce? What’s a food you haven’t eaten in awhile that you want to start eating again more often?

Adventures in Raw: 80-10-10 or Gourmet?

I want to preface this post by saying I don’t believe there’s one right way of eating for everyone. Not only is it a matter of personal preference, but it’s also a matter of what works for YOU and your body and lifestyle. I do think that the SAD (standard American diet) way of eating isn’t good for anyone, but within the spectrum of healthy eating, there are millions of variations and one way doesn’t work for everyone.

If you do any research into the world of raw foodism, you’ll most likely stumble upon two different ways of thinking and eating. The most-discussed one is the 80-10-10 diet, which is based primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables, with the addition of some overt fats (things like avocados, coconut and raw nuts) very occasionally. The name ’80-10-10′ refers to the macro breakdown: 80% carbs, 10% protein, 10% fat. 80-10-10ers believe that it isn’t fruit or the sugars in them that make us fat, but the combination of sugars (primarily processed ones) and fats. They consume mostly fruit in order to get enough calories (and they generally recommend at least 2500 calories per day) and eat greens and other veggies to get more vitamins and nutrients.

An 80-10-10 approved mono meal of peaches.

An 80-10-10 approved mono meal of peaches.

On the other end of the raw spectrum is gourmet raw foodists. They also shun processed foods but focus their diets on raw, plant-based sources of fat–coconut, nuts and seeds, avocados. They generally get upwards of 50% fat in their diet, with relatively low carbs and moderate protein from the more protein-rich fat sources. They still eat plenty of fresh produce, but veggies and especially fruit are rarely the base of their diet.

Even though I’m not strictly 100% raw right now, I’ve still been considering both of these forms of raw foodism. Where do I fall, and which one is better? For me, I believe a balance between the two is optimal. I think fresh produce should be the base of everyone’s diet, but I’m not about to eat 15+ bananas in a day and nothing else. I also think greens are very healthful, but there’s honestly no point in eating them if they aren’t consumed with a fat. The nutrients found in fresh veggies can’t make it to the bloodstream as easily if they aren’t eaten with a fat–numerous articles and studies are coming out saying that having some fat with your salad is actually a good thing, and better than having a salad with fat-free dressing, for many reasons. I’m not a fan of most salad dressings from the store, but I love topping my salads with raw seeds or guacamole or a homemade cashew-based dressing. Am I freaking out because I’m eating more than 10% fat? Heck no! I definitely don’t want to go back to my eating disordered days where I was scared of fat. I’ve come to love my healthy plant-based sources of fat and I don’t feel guilty for enjoying these whole foods. However, I don’t plan on going to the other extreme and consuming most of my calories from fat–there is a limit to how beneficial fats can be and I wouldn’t want to crowd out other nutritious foods just to eat more fats.

I prefer more balanced macros, as seen in this banana softserve creation--still raw, but with protein (Sunwarrior) and fat (pumpkin seeds).

I prefer more balanced macros, as seen in this banana softserve creation–still raw, but with protein (Sunwarrior) and fat (pumpkin seeds).

I’m also probably eating more than 10% protein, from the nuts and seeds and Sunwarrior powder and sprouted legumes I eat, and that’s okay too! I don’t buy into the hype that we need so much protein (because we actually don’t), and 10% seems to be the magic number or at least the minimum for even active people, but I do like to have a little more than that to fuel my lifting workouts. Protein is in so many things, even vegetables, that it isn’t hard to hit 10-15% or more eating just plant-based sources.

A lot of things, especially eating, always seem to be so black-and-white, like one way is wrong and the other’s right, but it doesn’t have to be that way! You can eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and still enjoy plant-based fats and protein on a raw diet–it doesn’t have to be high carb low fat or high fat low carb. Moderation is always best, and when it comes to diets that are already pretty dang healthy as it is, there’s no need to nitpick over the logistics. Just eat whole foods from the earth, raw if you roll that way and don’t stress if it isn’t ‘perfect’.

What’s your take on the ongoing diet battles? 

Adventures in Raw: Products I Love

As I’ve been transitioning into and experimenting with a raw foods based diet, I’ve been discovering new products I never knew existed even when I became vegan almost 2 years ago. I’m even finding new-to-me fruits and veggies at the store and it’s making me realize that veganism and even raw foodism isn’t limiting at all–there are millions of possibilities when it comes to food, without relying on animal products.

I’m definitely not a LFRV, so I still include some raw fat and protein sources and I want to share some of those here, as well as produce and seasonings I’ve found to be helpful in transitioning to raw.

Fats

  • Avocados: I can’t believe I used to only eat these in guacamole! Fresh-made guac is still a favorite of mine (my recipe: 1 avocado, juice of half a lime, sprinkle of sea salt, half of a chopped jalapeno, optional cilantro) but I also love taking half of an avocado and drizzling it with raw honey, cinnamon and sea salt. I also want to try out Veggie Nook’s raw coconut-crusted avocado ‘fries’! Avocado is a concentrated source of unsaturated fats, and when added to a salad, can boost the absorption of lycopene and beta-carotene. Even though LFRVs eat overt fats (like avocadoes) rarely, I try to eat a fat or fat-based raw dressing with my salads to boost the vitamin absorption.
  • Cashews: Cashews, though labeled raw, are never truly raw because raw cashews can be poisonous, but I always buy my cashews with the raw label because they are less processed and closer to being raw. Cashews are lower in fat than most nuts, but still provide plenty of monounsaturated fats, and add a creamy texture to raw desserts and dressings. I soak them before using them, and then blend them to make raw cheesecakes or raw dressings and sauces.
Raw key lime cheesecake with a soaked cashews base.

Raw key lime cheesecake with a soaked cashews base.

  • Almonds: Almonds are also a good source of heart-healthy fats, but they also provide trace minerals such as manganese and copper, which are beneficial to a raw diet. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein. I use them in making raw brownies, raw granola and raw almond butter.
  • Coconut: Possibly my favorite raw source of fat, other than cashews. I used to be scared of coconut’s high concentration of saturated fats, but the fat in coconuts is a lot different than animal fats. It’s also much healthier than vegetable-based oils like canola and soy and is very versatile. I use coconut oil in some raw desserts and it makes a quick dressing, coconut butter is great with dates and other fruit, coconut flour is high in fiber and makes a good thickener in smoothies and coconut flakes are amazing for raw coconut bacon!
  • Flax crackers: These are a really great alternative to wheat-based crackers and since they come in a variety of flavors (plus you can make them at home with a dehydrator or oven turned low), they can be paired with almost any dip or sauce. I love the Food on Purpose brand sold at Whole Foods (they’re made in NM, so they may only be sold in nearby states) and the Flackers brand which are on Amazon. They’ve got way more fiber and protein than traditional crackers and are a good source of omega-3s.

Produce

  • Greens: Leafy greens should be an essential part of anyone’s diet, but especially a raw foodie’s. It’s great to get a variety of greens to load up on certain vitamins and minerals, but if you prefer some over others, that’s okay! I personally love spinach, romaine lettuce, kale and bok choy. They make great bases for salads and also work well in green smoothies blended with fruit.
  • Bananas: The staple of many raw foodies, these are often eaten in abundance on a raw food diet, but don’t have to be. They provide a lot of potassium and a feeling of fullness, which helps on a lower fat raw diet where you don’t have many fats to fill you up. I prefer freezing my bananas and then blending them into banana ‘ice cream’.
cacao banana softserve with raw mocha brownie bites and coconut flakes

Cacao banana ‘ice cream’ (made with frozen banana, cacao powder, lucuma powder, 1/2 packet raw vanilla protein powder) topped with homemade mocha raw brownie bites and coconut flakes.

  • Berries: These are the superfoods of the fruit world, and for good reason! Blueberries are especially full of antioxidants and having anti-aging benefits, raspberries are very high in fiber, strawberries provide 150% DV for vitamin C and blackberries are high in folic acid and manganese. Other berries, like acai and goji, are also nutritional powerhouses and generally come in powdered or dried form, but all berries are amazing little fruits!
  • Zucchini: Zucchini has a lot of uses in the raw food world, from ‘noodles’ to hummus. I’ve even made a raw cheesecake with zucchini in it (recipe below–and trust me, you couldn’t taste it). Its neutral flavor lends itself to working well in many dishes, and it pairs well with bolder flavors.
  • Kelp: Kelp and other sea veggies are usually a hidden treasure of Asian cuisine that many raw foodists rely on to get enough trace minerals. Kelp in particular is a great source of iodine, and since many health-conscious people choose sea salts over table salt, they may be missing out on iodine without sea veggies in their diet. Kelp flakes are a great way to season without using salt, and kelp noodles are a rice-noodle like substitute that I personally love!
Raw kelp noodle pad Thai at Tasty Harmony.

Raw kelp noodle pad Thai at Tasty Harmony.

Protein

  • Sunwarrior (warrior blend) protein powder: Raw vegan protein powder isn’t just a dream–it’s a reality with Sunwarrior’s warrior blend. Their protein blend is made up of raw pea, hemp and cranberry proteins (so it’s grain free too!) and is sweetened only with stevia, making it a lot healthier than a lot of other protein powders out there. I love that one scoop is just 80 calories but provides 15 grams of protein, which really boosts my protein intake on raw days. It’s a bit high in sodium but that comes from some sea salt and the raw proteins. I prefer the chocolate flavor and love it in smoothies, chia puddings and blended with frozen bananas for a higher protein raw ice cream.
  • Sprouted beans and lentils: On a truly raw, 80-10-10 style vegan diet, protein is only consumed through fruits and greens, but a lot of raw vegans and other vegans like to sprout legumes to make them easier to digest. I have yet to sprout my own beans, but I really want to make some sprouted lentil burgers soon!
  • Sprouted quinoa/buckwheat/wild rice: These pseudograins are way more nutrient packed than wheat, and provide more protein than many other gluten free grains. They’re all technically seeds, making them okay for a grain free diet and when sprouted, are even easier to digest. I like sprouted quinoa for salads, and I usually soak raw buckwheat groats before I make them into granola in the dehydrator.

And now onto the raw cheesecake recipe! I don’t have a picture for it right now, but mine looks a lot like this picture I found on Tastespace. I’ve already made a raw key lime pie cheesecake and I wanted to do a take on a classic chocolate cheesecake, but with a nutrient boost from the zucchini. It adds no flavor but a great creamy texture and secret nutrition!

Raw chocolate cheesecake from Tastespace.

Raw chocolate cheesecake ,photo from Tastespace. (my own recipe)

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake (vegan, gluten free, raw, grain free)

1 cup almonds (can sub walnuts)

drizzle coconut oil

2 tbsp +4 tbsp raw cacao or carob powder

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours

3 tbsp maple syrup (can sub coconut nectar for truly raw version)

1/2 small zucchini, chopped

sea salt, to taste

In a food processor or high powered blender, process almonds until crumbly. Add in coconut oil, 2 tbsp cacao powder and raisins until mixture forms a sticky ball. You may need to add a bit (up to 2 tbsp) water or additional raisins. Place this crust mixture into a lined 8″ cake pan and set in freezer for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blend cashews, maple syrup, zucchini, 4 tbsp cacao powder and sea salt in food processor. Blend or process until as smooth as possible.  Add additional sweetener or cacao as desired. Pour cheesecake mixture onto crust and return to freezer for a few hours or overnight. Remove from freezer for a few minutes before serving and top with fresh berries. Makes 8 small slices. 

What are your favorite sources of raw fats, produce and protein? 

WIAW and New Series

It feels like forever since I’ve done a WIAW (okay, so it’s only been 2 weeks) so I’m back again with some random things I’ve been eating throughout the past few days. And…I’ve been wanting to start another post series like my grocery budgeting one and with my new found interest in raw foodism, I figured, why not do posts on my adventures in going raw?

I’ll start off with a few non-raw pics for WIAW, and then move into the first Adventures in Raw topic, which will be obsessiveness. I know a lot of non-raw-foodies think that a raw food diet, whether LFRV (aka the 80-10-10 fruitarian diet) or HFRV (including some higher fat raw foods) or somewhere in between, can become obsessive and restrictive, but so far, I’ve found that to be the opposite. More on that below!

WIAW

A non-raw breakfast for once: GF buckwheat+coconut flour based pancakes, topped with vanilla Sunwarrior 'frosting', Justin's vanilla almond butter, blueberries and coconut flakes.

A non-raw breakfast for once: GF buckwheat+coconut flour based pancakes, topped with vanilla Sunwarrior ‘frosting’, Justin’s vanilla almond butter, blueberries and coconut flakes.

Besides when I was on vacation, and even then I was still trying to eat somewhat raw when I could, I’ve been eating at least one raw meal a day, and it’s usually been breakfast. But one day I was craving a cooked breakfast so I opted for some quick GF pancakes made from a mix of coconut and buckwheat flours. They turned out fine, but I realized while eating them that I missed my raw breakfasts. Nothing like prepping raw flax pancakes or chia puddings the night before and just having to plate and top them in the morning!

Dinner from the grill: portobello mushroom (marinated in coconut aminos, liquid smoke and a little maple syrup) topped with fresh-made guac, side of grilled sweet potato fries.

Dinner from the grill: portobello mushroom (marinated in coconut aminos, liquid smoke and a little maple syrup) topped with fresh-made guac, side of grilled sweet potato fries.

If I haven’t been eating mostly raw at dinner, I’ve been wanting things grilled. Grilled veggies, grilled fruit, grilled tempeh. I finally decided to grill a portobello for the first time. It was good, but it could have been grilled a little longer–I like my foods dry! The sweet potato fries were pretty good though. I thought you had to always precook sweet potatoes before you grill, but I just sliced up this one, spiced it with Old Bay and almond oil, and tossed it in a grill basket. Some pieces were too firm, and some too burned, but they were tasty!

Work snacks: half a Vega One double chocolate bar (the cleanest and tastiest protein bar out there!), organic blueberries, leftover grilled sp fries, date.

Work snacks: half a Vega One double chocolate bar (the cleanest and tastiest protein bar out there!), organic blueberries, leftover grilled sp fries, date.

On Mondays and Thursdays I work a 5 hour shift from 2 to 7 pm at my weather internship. That’s basically my ideal snack time, and I want to make sure I’m not too starving to make the half hour drive home from work unbearable (or make my wallet unhappy by stopping at Whole Foods every time) so I pack a lot of little snacks that I eat whenever I get the time. My favorite combo is half of a Vega or Larabar, with fresh veggies and fruit.

If only alcohol was raw, amiright?

If only alcohol was raw, amiright?

Now that I’m legal almost 21 (in just a month and 8 days!), and it’s summer, I’ve been in the mood to sometimes (read: once or twice a month) enjoy a little adult drink. And by little, I really mean little, because my body does NOT have a high tolerance for alcohol. I can’t even handle one drink without feeling a little weird. Guess that means I’ll be a cheap date in the future 😉 However, I was able to handle this watermelon frosty because it was just 1 shot of vodka and basically, it was like a watermelon in frozen form! My mom added some lime juice and a bit of honey with the watermelon, along with the vodka and a little water to the blender and it was the perfect summertime drink. It would be awesome too in nonalcoholic form, and made more raw-friendly with raw honey instead of regular.

Adventures in Raw

Now, onto what I was saying about raw foodism and obsessiveness. I know it can seem, and can actually become, overwhelming to eat all raw, all the time. Right now, I’m not at that point. I still eat cooked foods once or twice a day, and some things I eat aren’t strictly raw, but I keep it clean and healthy within the limits I’ve given. Going out to eat while raw can be hard, unless the restaurant you go to has some raw options, so that’s why I’m keeping my diet mostly raw at home, and just healthy and vegan if I’m out (unless there is a raw option, then I’ll probably go for it!)

Anyways, my point is that raw foodism doesn’t seem obsessive to me. In my experiments with it so far, it’s made me less obsessed over macros especially. When I was still tracking my calories, and even after I stopped, I was so focused on my macro balance. Earlier this year, I think I was striving for a 50-20-30 balance (carbs/protein/fat) and it wasn’t just a loose goal–I tried to get that everyday, and if I didn’t, I was disappointed and beat myself up. With eating raw, I just focus on nutrients and getting in enough calories because you have to eat a LOT more when you’re raw. It’s helped me challenge my old bad habit of wanting to restrict and seeing raw foodies’ Instagrams inspires me to eat a lot more than I’m used to. I just don’t worry about getting the perfect balance of macros anymore. I’m not sure I believe that the 80-10-10 balance is the way to go, because I feel great with more fats, but I think I’m probably hitting more of a 60-15-25 balance right now, and it’s great. I don’t stress about getting enough protein or too many carbs like I used to, but I also don’t worry about getting too much fat from healthy sources like raw nuts, seeds and coconut.

Raw banana 'ice cream' mixed with a little chocolate Sunwarrior and a Medjool date, topped with raw pumpkin seeds and a raw chocolate bar. This meal had protein, carbs and fat but I wasn't stressing if I got enough or too much of any macro.

Raw banana ‘ice cream’ mixed with a little chocolate Sunwarrior and a Medjool date, topped with raw pumpkin seeds and a raw chocolate bar. This meal had protein, carbs and fat but I wasn’t stressing if I got enough or too much of any macro.

Raw foodism has also made meal prep a breeze. Like I mentioned above with the pancakes, I’m getting used to making meals that take almost no prep time, or can be made ahead of time. Even complicated raw desserts or sauces just need a few minutes in the food processor and they’re ready to be served. And making things in the dehydrator is actually less time-consuming, because I’m not constantly checking on the food and I can just let it run overnight. And if I’m starving and want to eat NOW, I can just throw veggies, spices and a fat together in a bowl and call it a meal.

Green goddess bowl--an easy raw dinner. Base of kelp noodles mixed with coconut aminos and lime juice, topped with spinach, mashed avocado mixed with sea salt and lime juice and raw pumpkin seeds.

Green goddess bowl–an easy raw dinner. Base of kelp noodles mixed with coconut aminos and lime juice, topped with spinach, mashed avocado mixed with sea salt and lime juice and raw pumpkin seeds.

And with raw foods, I don’t have to worry so much about the ingredient list. Looking at ingredients became such a compulsive and unhealthy thing for me. Whenever I wanted to buy a new food, I always had to check out the ingredients list in the store or research it online before to see if the ingredients were acceptable. With raw foods, pretty much all the ingredients have to be clean and vegan anyway, so I’m not so stressed out about buying new products.

I'm even trying out new-to-me fruits, like this canary melon. Kinda tastes like a sweeter honeydew.

I’m even trying out new-to-me fruits, like this canary melon. Kinda tastes like a sweeter honeydew.

Do you prefer quick and easy meals, or ones that require a lot of prep work? What’s your favorite thing to grill?