Note: The following is an article I wrote for the fabulous One Green Planet site. Also, the image above was compiled by them from images I submitted.
Flexibility and The Power of the Raw Food Spectrum
Amazing benefits await when you start eating a raw vegan diet. Common experiences include effortless weight loss, increased energy, softer skin, clear and bright eyes, silky hair, better sleep, mental clarity, major health improvements, and peaceful frame of mind. Sounds great, huh!? However, one common question I’m asked is, “I see a lot of different raw food diets out there, which one is right?” As with many things in life, there are different schools of thought regarding which is the best plan when following a diet of raw vegan food.
The raw food diet has a nice wide spectrum as to the different styles of raw food options that are available. After years of fielding questions on my blog, it’s clear that the wide range of options can seem confusing or overwhelming at first. But fear not! Once you realize that the options are nothing more than a continuum ranging from “a little bit” to “all” raw, most of the various ways to “do” raw fall neatly into place. The spectrum of options actually becomes a powerful tool that allows you to precisely tune your degree of raw based on where you are in your life, health situation, and day-to-day circumstances.
At the least-raw end of the spectrum are people who merely try to incorporate more salads and smoothies into their vegan diet (for our purposes, we’ll assume the beginner is already vegan). By simply eating 1-2 salads or smoothies a day, this will automatically start replacing non-raw foods, most notably, cooked and processed foods made from refined wheat/flour, corn, and sugar. Score an immediate win for increased nutrition as you replace nutrient-starved crap with healthy raw veggies!
A couple of weeks ago I received an email that moved me. A husband emailed me to see if I would mind sharing his wife’s story and blog on my blog. His wife is a cancer survivor and on a mission to live as long as she can and sharing her story with people along with way (it involves lots of veggies and healing!). He wanted to do everything he could to help her and realized that one way was to support her new endeavor. That’s where I come in. As some of you know, starting a blog can be overwhelming and the one thing we all love is having our blog get visitors, right? Well, her husband emailed me to see if I could share her work with my visitors; thereby, getting her visitors.
I was more than happy to help this fellow veggie out. I’m so happy to share the following with you. So, without further ado…. Kristen’s Raw readers, please meet Kristen of Healthy Cancer Chick.
I asked Kristen of Healthy Cancer Chick to share her story of cancer and healing with you. It’s inspirational. And, it reminds me of the part in my Raw Awakening book where I write about how people can think they’re eating healthy, when they really aren’t. I actually have a potty-mouth label for it – hehe. Those of you who have read it, you know the one. ;)
I recently bought this DVD (Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death) on Amazon by Dr. Michael Greger, and I’m so glad my family saw it. We’ve actually watched it a couple of times. It filled us with pride and excitement over our dietary choices – as if we didn’t have enough already.
We’re also sharing it with our omnivore family and friends because it really hits home to the importance of eating plant based foods. Plus, it’s funny, in parts. Dr. Greger has a great sense of humor.
I’m sure you have heard on more than one occasion about the importance of eating broccoli, right? And, does the thought excite you? Probably not… at least not if it’s raw. Am I right? You probably don’t find yourself getting all weak in the knees at the thought of chomping down on some raw organic broccoli. (Um… if you do… power to you!)
Now, there are some authorities that say it’s easier digested if it’s lightly cooked, but most others talk about the importance of having it raw to ensure you’re getting all of the cancer fighting properties. Not only that, but did you know that it should be thoroughly chopped, chewed, blended, or juiced, etc to release the cancer fighting properties to their fullest?
Blending broccoli? Meh. I’m not one to blend broccoli very often, so that’s not a good option for me.
Juicing broccoli? Oh yeah, baby. I add it to my green juices, but not in large quantities. I feel almost super human drinking green juice with broccoli. Silly? Nope. Throw on my Vibrams while I’m drinking it and I swear I could scale walls like Spider Man.
Eating it? That doesn’t happen much because like I said, I’m not a huge raving fan of the flavor. Well, guess what? That’s no longer a problem because I’ve figured out how to secretly add broccoli to foods and you won’t even notice it (your family won’t either!).
How??? You mince the broccoli with a knife! I know that might sound simple (and it is) but honestly, I never thought to do it. In all these years… it never dawned on my to chop my broccoli super duper small so as to hide it. And, it’s brilliant. By mincing it teeny tiny with my knifeI get little bits in bites that don’t overwhelm plus all the cancer fighting properties. It gets even easier though… I then started using my ceramic hand mandolin slicer (you could use a traditional mandolin or grater). Brilliant. It minces it super tiny.
Funny thing is that I started out small by just shredding a little. But, I quickly added more because, well, I couldn’t taste it. Like in the picture above, I grated a bunch of broccoli for Greg and I to eat in that salad (more specifically, it was 3 heads within one rubber banded bunch). I admit, though, there is another trick. Having good stuff to eat with the broccoli. So, here is what my staples are in my salads like this:
Tons of broccoli(!) and the sweet potato makes an appearance.
But, don’t stop there! Add more flair and deliciousness, by adding things like chopped basil (or dill), cooked (chopped) sweet potato, sun-dried tomatoes, and/or raw marinated/dehydrated mushrooms and onions. Basically, just toss into your bowl whatever you have on hand. Keep in mind that overcoming the broccoli-ness is not only greatly achieved by the tiny pieces you’ve minced but also by the texture and flavor contrasts you add like avocado, sweet potato, kraut (salty yum), and apple (lightly sweet). I’ve made this dish many ways and each time Greg is amazed at how much broccoli we’re consuming and how delicious it is.
Here’s another idea… Broccoli Guacamole! Mash up some avocado with miso and lime juice. Add cilantro and onion perhaps. Then…. grate in some broccoli. That’s on tonight’s menu!
I love a good warm comfy bowl of oatmeal. Sure, there are many times I’ve had my oats raw, but I also love them cooked. They are great as a transition to raw food because as you’ll see in the recipe below… the oats are the only cooked part. The rest of the dish is filled with nutrient dense raw foods.
The other day I decided to cook up a large batch so we could have some for eating (Kamea is a fan) and some for freezing to eat later. As a busy mom, I’m all about making food ahead of time and freezing it when possible (whether raw or cooked). For that, I use my FoodSaver. I’ve had it for years and can’t imagine my kitchen without it – a total kitchen BFF. (For more info on freezing raw food see my post here.)
Cinnamon Apricot Oatmeal
So! The other day Kamea was happily playing in her kinder perch. If you’re wondering what a kinder perch is, oh lovely, let me tell you! It’s another amazing investment if you have kids. I saw this nifty item before I was pregnant and knew I would have to have one after Kamea was born. It’s for use once your baby can stand and can be used for years(!). In fact, if we have two kids, they can both stand in it to help me in the kitchen at the same time (it has a pretty good weight limit). The main purpose is to make a safe area where your baby/toddler/small child can stand at counter height with you in the kitchen (um… it’s also great for forts.) We bought ours here.Does our kitchen have room for it? Not exactly. Do I care? No. :)
I’ve really gotten into the video mood, can you tell? Are you enjoying them? Are they useful? I hope so!
In this video I decide to totally wing it and make a dressing I’ve never made, while doing it on camera. My plan was to post the video no matter what because I figured 1) we’d all learn something anyway (I learn a lot from failed recipes) and 2) it’d be kind of funny if the dressing sucked seeing as I was doing it on camera. I still don’t have the ingredients written down so I can’t add them here to the post yet, but I remember… water, oranges, grape tomatoes, garlic, salt, raw almond butter, basil??? I think those are the ingredients. When I find time, I’ll come back and add the ingredient list.
Spoiler alert...Turns out, it was so good! Easy to throw together as you’ll see… and mega fresh. I loved it on fresh lettuce and I also gobbled it up on cauliflower. If a dressing makes you enjoy raw cauliflower, then you know it’s darn good.
Enjoy the show! (By the way, as you know by now I’m still in a video making mode – I suspect I will be for a long time – so check out my popular Cinnamon Brownies post I wrote a while back because I put up a video showing you how easy they are to make here!)
I have a ladder I imagine myself on when it comes to healthy living. The ultimate tippy top includes growing my own food. Well, I’m almost there. (What are the other steps under it? Well, going vegan to going raw/high raw, all organic, juicing a lot, getting a Norwalk, and growing my own food tops it out.)
But, I’m a total newbie and completely intimidated. That is until I read about Square Food Gardening. OK, still a tad intimidated but I’m taking it step by step and crossing my fingers.
I made this dressing for our easter dinner last week. It was great and everyone loved it, so I wanted to share it with you. It gives you a fun warming sensation from the horseradish in it, and it’s a pretty yellow color from the mustard. And… as usual, it’s so easy to make! I still consider this recipe raw even though the mustard and horseradish probably aren’t technically raw, but you could make it truly raw by making raw mustard and using fresh horseradish (not always easy to find). And, if you don’t want to use raw agave nectar, you could try blending 1 to 2 pitted dates.
Horseradish Mustard Dressing
Yield about 1 1/4 cups
1/2 cup raw cashews
water for soaking
1/2 cup water for blending
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon raw agave nectar
2 tablespoons mustard
2 teaspoons prepared, ground horseradish
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Horseradish Mustard Dressing
Put the cashews in a small bowl and add enough water to cover the cashews by about an inch. Soak the cashews for 30 to 60 minutes. Strain the cashews and put them in a blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
We enjoyed this dressing on salads with romaine lettuce (perfect for holding up to the heat from the horseradish), cucumbers, zucchini, purple cabbage, celery, and carrots. My mom loved it so much, she asked me to make another batch for her before we left.
I wrote about why protein powders have a place in my raw diet here. But, in the post I wrote that I generally don’t use the protein powders in shakes or smoothies blended with other ingredients (unless it’s hemp protein powder, I prefer that in a shake or smoothie). Traditionally when I consume Sun Warrior’s chocolate protein powder, I do so with water (and sometimes an extract or seasoning as mentioned in the post).
Today, however, I’m sharing a recipe with you where I blend Sun Warrior chocolate protein in a shake with cinnamon and banana. It’s fun and delish! I’ve been making it all week, and last night I made it as dessert for mom, Greg, and myself. I facebooked it last week and a couple of people tried it and reported the same results: YUM!
Here it is if you can’t see it from the writing in the picture.
Hi! I'm a chef, author, homeschooling mom, and I love to eat and cook super healthy food. I'm a former vegan, now real-food omnivore, who enjoys coffee(!), dark chocolate, rebounding, and researching the latest tips for optimal living.