Upping your intake of raw food is a fantastic way to inject your body with a potent hit of living nutrients – essential for optimum bodily functioning and energy. While we always look forward to our daily plate of raw salad greens and veg, we know that keeping our healthy eating regimes varied is key to avoiding the perils of lunchtime boredom. Below we have listed our five favourite foods to eat raw and the preparation methods that take them to the next level.
One of our all-time favourite vegetables to eat raw, mushrooms contain a number of essential nutrients including protein, B vitamins and vitamin D2 (and if the right combination of mushrooms D3) also, carbohydrates, enzymes and dietary fibre that supports the growth of probiotic organisms in the gut, crucial for digestive health. Whilst raw mushrooms alone may not seem so appealing due to their neutral taste and unusual texture, a few simple steps can transform a rather bland stand-alone vegetable into a deliciously flavourful addition to salads, antipasti and vegetable noodles (more on this below). Simply toss in sea salt and place in a colander for 30 minutes to allow for the evaporation of water before dusting off the salt and dousing in your unrefined cold-pressed oil of choice (we love olive, flax and macadamia). Mushrooms will absorb any flavour you give them so sprinkle over your favourite fresh herbs, spices - we love a little Bragg's Liquid Aminos and place in your refrigerator overnight to allow for the mushrooms to fully absorb the marinade and add to dishes as you wish.
Kale is an amazing skin-food ingredient to incorporate into your diet as it contains some of the highest plant sources of iron, is high in vitamins A, C and K and is full of powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. A great way to enjoy this powerhouse of vital nutrients raw is to give it a good massage before consumption. Massaging raw kale works to break down the cellulose, a fibre that is sometimes poorly digested. Whilst there has been some controversy over the effect of eating kale in its raw form due to the effects it may pose on thyroid function*, the amount of raw kale one would need to consume to experience an impairment far exceeds what the average person would realistically consume. For our favourite variation, remove kale leaves from the stalk, chop and add to a large bowl, top with your favourite unrefined cold-pressed oil and massage until the kale begins to soften and shrink. We love topping ours with nori flakes, tomatoes and dried activated pumpkin seeds for some added crunch.
Spiralising & Grating: Courgette and Cauliflower
These two Content favourites are atop our list of versatile vegetables to always have on hand. In addition to its amazing versatility, courgette is comprised of 95% water, making it a highly beneficial skin-food to regularly incorporate into our diets to hydrate the skin from the inside out. It is also packed with Vitamin C, A, folate, magnesium, protein, fibre and potassium. We enjoy ours prepared in a spiraliser which transforms courgette into ‘spaghetti’ like strands or what has become known as courgetti. We love Hemsley + Hemsley’s take on courgetti that you can find in their book here.
Another firm favourite on our raw food agenda is the humble cauliflower. High in vitamin C, K, B6, protein, magnesium, potassium, manganese and many other essential vitamins and nutrients, cauliflower has been shown to increase brain health and provide us with a potent hit of antioxidants. If that’s not enough to get you incorporating cauliflower into your skin-food quota, according to the Worlds Healthiest Foods**, researchers have determined certain compounds within cauliflower that have been shown to protect the lining of the stomach and protect bacterial overgrowth! Blend in a food processor or grate finely for a grain-free version of rice and add to homemade sushi or salads.
Sprouting: Raw Nuts and Seeds
Whilst raw nuts and seeds make a great addition to your daily diet, they can sometimes cause digestive distress to individuals who may not possess the digestive ability to break down the protective coating that all nuts, seeds, grains and legumes contain known as phytic acid. The best way to counteract this natural defence mechanism is to sprout raw nuts and seeds before consumption. This process pre-digests the starches within the nuts and seeds, breaking down the phytic acid content, encouraging the production of beneficial enzymes and increasing the bioavailability of proteins contained within - essential if you choose to follow a predominantly plant-based diet. Soak nuts and seeds overnight in tepid water with a dash of salt. After a minimum of 7 hours, remove from water and store in a glass container in the fridge. When time gets the best of us, we always have a jar of sprouted almond butter on hand to add to smoothies, veggie dishes and raw desserts.