Eating Raw in Winter
If the thought of eating a raw diet when it’s cold makes you dive deeper under the duvet, you are not alone. It is far far easier to eat a raw meal in warm weather under bright blue skies and summery sun. However, if you love the way you feel when eating raw, it is not easy to switch to some/more cooked food without losing an element of vitality.
There are ways and means around this, and it is not cheating as there are no rules to live by except those you impose upon yourself! If you eat raw to feel at your optimum best physically and emotionally, will eating raw in cold temperatures achieve this? Only you can answer that.
It is also dependent upon various factors, such as if it is cold outside but lovely and snug in your home, then you don’t need the comfort feeling that you may crave if your home is draughty and under heated.
Something to consider is making a warm meal – cooked – and eating half raw with it, or more than half raw. For instance, a baked sweet potato and a large winter vegetable salad incorporating plenty of avocado. Or a soup which is made from 2/3rds cooked vegetables but the remaining third raw, which can be added just before blending.
There could in fact even be an advantage of starting in the colder months as to begin with, aside from familiar salads, smoothies and juices, you will likely be replicating cooked recipes as you transition over the weeks or months or years. Your head at least, will be advising you to eat denser meals, heavy in nuts and dehydrated breads, crackers and pastries. As time passes, you will happily phase these into being treats. Trust me, I have been there and come out the other side. The point of this is to love it, to enjoy the process as you learn new ways of food preparation and dining.
The Raw Kitchen
To create raw versions of cooked meals, many rawbies initially use a dehydrator – until recently these were a considerable expenditure. Even though some small ones can be bought for a quarter of the cost of the original models, unless you have an unlimited budget, there is no need to get one of these until you are certain this is for you. Instead, buy an oven thermometer, so you can use your fan oven set very low – around 45 degrees Celsius (113F). As it so turns out, due to my constant travelling between countries, I barely got the chance to use my dehydrator before it got lost in transit somewhere in Spain, so I have very little personal experience of using one, but I did make some nifty sweet potato chilli curls, which were as moreish as.
What you do need equipment wise first and foremost, is a good blender with a nut grinding attachment (or buy a grinder separately) and some nut milk bags. The rest can be built up over time. By a ‘good’ blender I mean one high powered enough to blend the ingredients to a lovely smooth thick consistency, not just whizz them for a ride around, leaving a watery residue with lumpy nuts or half chopped fruits. There are several versions on the market now, for about a third of the cost of the much hailed Vitamix. A spiraliser is also a great addition so you can make vegetable spaghetti. Anything else you probably already have. You will be using a grater and a vegetable peeler a lot. I’ve never had a food processor, but one will save you a lot of time and is far less messy than bashing nuts et al with a rolling pin.
You will need to plan and think ahead, so look up some recipes, pick one that takes your fancy, and read it all the way through first! I was always rubbish at doing this in my cooking life, but was able to modify with ease. However with raw, you may find that it mentions soaking nuts overnight, when you have merrily prepared half the recipe intending to feed the masses with it that evening. Dehydrating for a recipe can sometimes take 12 hours. Also some recipes have layers that need putting together and assembling over 2 days.
The most missed, or craved for foods initially, are cheese and bread. If you are vegan then you are already one up on this. Yet it is perfectly possible to make a good cheese from cashew nuts, or pine nuts, and adapting to a different type of bread is much easier now, as various professional raw chefs have been experimenting with this for the last decade, with scrummy success.
The main point of raw is to eat fresh and alive foods, and the quality of ingredients is important, as by way of example, you cannot disguise those slightly old rubbery mushrooms in a raw dish the same as in a cooked one, where the clever use of extra wine can hide a multitude of scrappy ingredients. So, as fresh from the garden as possible. You will get to feel the energy zinging off these leaves, roots and fruits – you become very attuned to what you eat when it is raw.
At the outset you will need to stock up on nuts and seeds – many of these will be soaked before you eat them. With regard to nut butters, do note that peanut butter must always, without exception, be organic, the non organic ones are high in fungi as well as pesticides. Check labels – if it does not include raw or cold pressed, it will likely have had heat used in the process somewhere.
Raw recipes will introduce you to some of the most excitingly energising raw superfoods and flavours in the world, such as:
(Superfoods are foods that heal, energise and bring your body back into a state of balance. The trick is to incorporate these in the right amounts for you, and keeping their nutritional value by not heating them).
Baking and Making
Check out raw chef Russell James, I absolutely love his recipes as they always taste good. Which is what counts. Just a taster, yes pun intended, to give you an idea of what is possible. Read/watch and salivate, then go shop and make. Cashew Sour Cream made from these five ingredients; 1 cup cashews, ½ cup water. ½ tsp salt, 2 tsps lemon juice, 1tsp apple cider vinegar.
If you love baking you won’t have to give this up for raw, although technically, baking is not what is going to happen! There are myriad cake and cookie type recipes, from simple to complex, to suit whatever constructive mood you are in. Try out Raw Chocolate Brownies. As you proceed you will discover substitutes for the usual norms, such as ground goji berries being an excellent sweetener.
Ready to eat raw snacks are easy to buy, Nakd have an exceedingly yummy range and Jason Vale’s juice bars are very tasty.
I wholeheartedly recommend Mimi Kirk’s book, ‘Live Raw’, available on Amazon. It has the best raw chilli recipe I’ve eaten to date. Also, David Wolfe’s book, ‘Eating for Beauty’ for its in depth explanations of why to eat certain foods and the effect they will have.
Alcohol and Raw
Mmm. Well, what to say? It’s not actually cooked is it? If you want a glass with a meal you will not be getting the best effects from raw, as it is also very much about what you don’t eat, as well as what you do.
However, that said, it is better to go raw and have a glass of wine than eat cooked and have a glass of wine. You will graduate from wanting this, as your body becomes cleaner and purer, you simply will not want certain things in your system. Again trust me on this, I’ve been there! There are various other things to factor in with the raw way, and rather too many to cover here, so do feel free to email me any questions you may have.
I love eating, but I want to feed my body the nutrients it needs to replenish and rejuvenate at a cellular level, so that I enjoy year round health. I also want to eat consciously and without causing harm to any sentient being. Embracing all raw unexpectedly boosted my vibration and thrust me into a higher spiritual knowing, which is continually evolving. It’s a high I don’t want to come down from.
Helen Kirby is a nutritional therapist and freelance natural health writer, interested in metaphysics, Taoism, babies, cats and chocolate, though not necessarily in that order. Having searched over 2 decades for the best ways to eat to live long and strong, Helen switched 12 years ago to a highly raw, plant-based diet which she loves. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org