This is the second part of our raw series dealing with how to make the intimidating task of preparing raw foods, easy and enjoyable. We have already covered the basics of a raw food diet including what it really is, the amazing benefits, tips to make the transition, and valuable resources. Now we are ready to take a step further and deal with the actual process.
The task of raw food prep may seem daunting at first, but once you have the basics under your belt, the rest comes naturally. First you make lots of salads, then smoothies, then you start to soak and sprout, and the next thing you know you are breaking out the big guns and buying dehydrators, juicers, and (the holy grail) a VitaMix. Although, none of those things are mandatory they are a whole lot of fun. The best part of raw food is that you get to be creative, enjoy yourself and experiment!
Staple foods: What you need in your pantry
There are some things that you should always have on hand, considering they are included in most recipes or can easily be thrown into any dish to add nutrition, texture and flavor.
- raw nuts -cashews, almonds, macadamias, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.
- raw seeds -sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flax, sesame, etc.
- agave -available in raw form. Best sweetener ever.
- dried dates -used in most desserts. They last forever if you store them in the fridge and they can easily be re-hydrated if fresh dates are needed.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Awesome on its own, and used in many recipes.
- Nama Shoyu – Unpasteurized soy sauce.
- Sea salt – an unrefined salt that is still full of its beneficial minerals.
- Lots o spices
- obviously, a plethora of fruits and veggies (the sky is the limit)
Types of Preparation
Sprouting – is a process of soaking, draining and rinsing seeds, grains or beans so that they germinate (sprout). This increases the digestive enzymes, nutrients and makes the seed infinitely better for you! Learn how to sprout here.
Soaking -Soaking nuts, seeds, grains and beans before eating release enzymes and nutrients, making them easier to digest and easier for your body to absorb all the nutritious goodness. Learn more about soaking here.
Dehydrating – Raw foods can be dehydrated up to 105 degrees. You can use dehydration for tons of things including making crackers, crusts, desserts, drying fruits and veggies,or warming up certain foods. There are endless ways to use a dehydrator.
Freezing – Many desserts should be kept in the freezer if you are not eating them immediately after prep. As with cooked food, you can store anything in the freezer for use at a later date. Learn more about freezing raw foods.
Making it Easy
Love salads -after produce shopping, chop and store fruits and veggies for quick use. Make lots of your favorite dressing and store them in the fridge or freezer. Be creative! One big salad a day is easy and so, so, so good for you.
Dehydrate once month -Designate one day to dry enough crackers, chips, crusts or cookies to last a month. Freeze and thaw as needed.
Sprouting like a champ -Sprouts go bad VERY quickly. Make one type of sprout every week. Once you have all of the sprouting accessories it only takes a few seconds a day to monitor and take care of them.
Shake it up– Shakes and juices are quick, easy and serve as a whole meal. Just throw all ingredients in a blender or juicer and viola! Clean up is as easy as a little rinse!
Always make extra – Anytime you make a salad dressing, sauce, dip, dessert, and so on -make lots. Then freeze it. You will notice quickly that many things you make are used differently in many recipes.
Plan ahead -Plan your menu a week in advance. That way you can be sure to have all of the items you may need. You can also plan a few dishes that have recurring ingredients so you only have to make something once.
Don’t go overboard– Some meals require you soak nuts for a few days before its made, or different elements of the recipe have to be dehydrated for hours. Only make one or two meals a week that require a lot of planning like this.
Keep the basics on hand– Most of the stuff in the above list should be readily available in your kitchen. If there are certain ingredients that regularly show up in your recipes, make sure you keep those on hand as well.
Whole produce -Apples, celery, carrots, oranges and tons of other produce taste great just the way they are, and they make the easiest most nutritious snack I can think of!
Try It! Some Delicious Recipes
- Zucchini Fettuccine with Sesame Mango Sauce
- Salsa Finta & Almond Polpetta
- Raw vegan peanut butter cups
- Raw Vegan Pan Bagnat
- Carrot Cake Smoothie
- Matar Paneer
- Apple Cranberry “Cheesecake”
- Red Pepper Poppers
- Tomato Flat Bread
*Photo of the Salsa Finta & Almond Polpetta courtesy of The Raw Chef Blog.