See Raw Food as an Adventure
Guest post by Russell James, The Raw Chef
In the words of Norman Cook, “We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby”.
When I got into raw food over 10 years ago, the mantra was, “cooked food is poison”.
Only 100% raw would do.
If you’re just catching up with the burgeoning raw food scene, the idea behind it is that we only heat foods up to 115 degrees F (46 degrees C) to maintain the most fragile enzymes. This also preserves the proteins, vitamins and minerals without denaturing them.
So you can imagine that there’s quite a steep learning curve when attempting to cut out all cooked food from your life, unless you live in a cave in Hawaii.
But still, it was put forward that 100% raw from the start is the only way.
And if you were a raw food teacher admitting that you also eat cooked food, it was akin to having a shady past that you had to confess to the masses.
But because we all felt part of something exciting – something everyone should know about, there was always talk of raw food going mainstream.
We couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t eating this way. It seemed like the answer to everything.
Now in 2015, it’s so great that you can get raw options in many big city veggie restaurants. Kale chips are making their way in to health food shops, and raw chocolate is even starting to see it’s way on to the high street, as are more and more successful raw food restaurants.
For this to happen, the ‘rules’ needed to be relaxed.
It needed to be OK to want to eat raw food and not be a ‘raw foodist’.
Just in the same way non-veggies enjoy a vegetarian meal.
I have been 100% raw for periods of time in my life, and I probably will be again.
I’d even go so far to say that when you do eat 100% raw, you feel a like a superhero. If anyone were in a place where they want to do that, I’d definitely support it.
But pragmatism is King.
Most people I meet on my travels just don’t find 100% of anything – in terms of eating – particularly enjoyable, or feasible.
Too much restriction is a serious fun-sucker.
So over the years, my own eating habits have changed to include as much raw food as I can in my diet.
Although, I have to say, my situation is a lot different to yours, as I’m around raw food a lot, with my classes, recipe developing for online courses and living in central London, where I can very easily get raw food.
So where does that leave us?
I believe it’s all about bringing more options in your life. It’s about moving towards something that’s really good for you, rather than away from anything you might be trying to ‘give up’.
See raw food as an adventure.
It’s highly likely that you’ll discover a ton of foods – and a level of vibrancy and health – that you never knew existed.
You’ll also discover new ways to prepare everyday ingredients that will excite you.
Although there are books out there about going on a ‘raw food diet’ as a short-term thing, the real benefit comes when you make raw food accessible every day, as a lifestyle choice.
It might start with some spirulina in your smoothie and progress to several raw meals per week.
Or, as I talk about in my Weekday Raw course, it might mean you want to eat all raw during the week, up to dinner.
I’d say eating 50% to 80% raw is a really great place to be.
Because let’s remember, raw foods are whole, plant-based foods. So all we’re really talking about here is eating more fruits, vegetables, nut and seeds in their most natural state.
My advice for getting started
Everyone is starting from a different place.
If you’re already a foodie, you’ll have a nice kitchen no doubt. So I probably don’t need to tell you to get a really nice knife and chopping board. But that’s definitely something everyone should have.
Whatever your resources, both financially and time, make your kitchen a nice place to be.
Make it a social place again if you can, too.
Too often in life we’re looking for shortcuts and ‘hacks’. The problem is that when you shortcut the important stuff, you get shortcut results.
And I believe how you feed yourself and your family is worth as much time as anything you have on your todo list.
So start with breakfast.
Juices, even if it’s just a celery and cucumber juice to properly hydrate you in the morning, is a wonderful start.
Then you can get into the fancy stuff like raw granola and chia seed pudding.
When I first started out, a green smoothie of mango and spinach kept me going for a couple of hours.
Bring in these changes gradually, and start to build up your repertoire of recipes, finding and saving favourites in a binder or a folder on your computer.
I’ve always said that if you can find 5 recipes that you really love, know how to make and can shop for without needing a recipe, you’ll be in really good shape.
I pretty much lived of kale salad for much of those early days, it was definitely one of my 5.
Raw food is a really wonderful world to explore and dive into, to whatever level you want.
If you become an enthusiast, you might want to start investing in things like a dehydrator (think of this as your raw food oven that only goes up to 115 degrees F), which will open up even more possibilities for you.
I’m excited for you. If you’re just starting out, this will become so much more than being about the food. It always does.
Everyone who get into this sees wonderful changes in their life, in areas they hoped they would, but also areas they didn’t even think about.
Raw food changed my life 10 years ago. I wonder where you’ll be in just a couple of years when you start bringing your food to life.
Listen to Russell on the Cut the Crap and Keep it Real Podcast
Russell James also known as The Raw Chef has taught thousands of people world-wide about raw foods, through his blog, live classes and his homestudy DVD courses.
Russell’s mission is to show you that far from feeling restricted on a raw food diet, you have an abundance of options. Whether that’s being able to eat raw sandwiches all week or to put on a show-stopping dinner party for friends.