It was just a few years ago that raw food as a dietary lifestyle made the news because of a beautiful young woman who was married to a handsome gazillionaire. She was passionate about the health benefits of eating raw food and wanted to spread the gospel, so her husband got her a restaurant space and she opened the first raw vegan restaurant in the country. It got a lot of national publicity, but it was mostly ridicule. The marriage didn’t last very long, but the raw food concept was lodged in American minds and now it’s gone viral.
I just read an absorbing new book called “Raw Awakening: Your Ultimate Guide to the Raw Food Diet” by Kristen Suzanne, a raw vegan chef, teacher and former professional bodybuilder who lives in Arizona. She has published a dozen recipe books (I can’t really call them “cook” books), but this new one focuses on the science and health benefits of a raw diet along with easy to understand information on the what, why and how of including more raw foods in your meals without feeling deprived. Note that she lives on an all raw diet, but makes it obvious that you don’t have to embrace a 100% raw vegan diet to realize the benefits of including more raw foods in your daily meals. The book is a very personal reflection on everything from how your friends will respond to you changing your diet so radically and why uncooked food is more nutritious than cooked food, to what equipment you need in your kitchen and an array of specific explanations and directions for preparing raw dishes. For instance, some recipes call for nuts and seeds to be soaked, or soaked and then dehydrated, before you use them to release enzymes that make them more digestible. “Raw fooders,” as Kristin calls them, never use sugar, and she recommends using raw pitted dates and raw agave nectar instead, preferring dates because they’re more nutritious but acknowledging agave’s liquidity. She includes more than 50 tempting recipes to inspire you.
One of the hurdles from omnivore to raw fooder is conquering cravings. Let’s face it, most people have certain foods they love and consume regularly, so you may crave those at first. She offers reasonable substitutes. Hooked on cheese? Eat raw nut/seed cheese instead. Caffeine or alcohol? Try what she calls “plant blood” -- fresh fruit or vegetable juices. Hungry for chips & dip? Try raw hummus, ranch dip, and dehydrated zucchini chips.
It’s really not so radical when you look at a raw vegan diet through Kristin’s eyes and, considering that we’re in the middle of a seemingly endless heat wave and the markets are filled with fresh, raw ingredients, this is a great time to try it yourself. The book is jam-packed with information and inspiration, and is a pretty quick read.