Last winter I went 100% raw for two months. People said I was crazy – although I prefer zany and eccentric – they were right.
The cooler months are, for many people, a time your body needs warmth and your digestive system needs a helping hand with lightly cooked foods.
While may raw foodies are happy to continue eating 80-100% raw in winter, many recommend a more balanced 50/50 ratio. That is, a diet of 50% raw food, and 50% cooked food.
So I have dusted off my slow cooker, and I am investigating ways to keep the raw ethos, while eating some cooked foods.
So what is the raw ethos? Well, truth be told, I don’t know what THE raw ethos is, but MY raw ethos is pretty simple.
- Eat things that grow in the ground or on trees – plant-based, whole foods
- Eat things in their most natural, unprocessed form
- Cooking – if at all – should be done slowly and gently and without oil
- Eat mostly veggies, nuts, seeds, but small amounts of cooked legumes and rice provide extra sustenance – ideally an 80/20 ratio of veggies to these other foods in every meal
- Plenty of raw cultured foods like kimchi and sauerkraut
- Using plant-based products without artificial chemicals for cosmetics, toiletries, and cleaners.
- Organically and locally grown wherever possible.
One of my favourite winter raw ideas is to add a big, steaming spoonful of vegetable stew or brown rice risotto to a pile of raw veggies. The hot food lightly warms the raw food and you still get the crunch and flavour – and goodness – of the raw veggies.
It is possible to be 100% raw in Winter, like these folk in Alaska – brrrr! However an entirely raw diet is not suitable for everyone. If, like me, you have a weak digestive system, too much raw food can be an added burden. So a combination of raw and lightly cooked food is best.
Michelle Firrisi from Raw Vegan Power Suggests the following tips for raw winter eating:
- Add a little cooked food to a raw meal.
- Choose seasonal fruits & vegetables – eating seasonally is what our bodies are designed for, so don’t eat imported mangoes, enjoy the winter cabbage and fruits likes apples.
- Spice up the heat – Warming spices like ginger, cayenne, cumin and curry, and if that’s too strong a flavour for you, cinnamon, cloves and allspice, really heat you up from the inside, they are also fabulous for digestion. You can also add them to juices and smoothies.
- Greens, Greens, Greens – greens are grounding, so be sure to incorporate lots into your winter diet.
- Rich smoothie and raw snacks – for those times when you need something sweet, I keep dates and nuts and bananas on hand. I swear after you have been off processed sweets for a while, dates taste like pure caramel!
- Warm up your plate – Even a soak in hot water will take the chill off your plate and assure your food is not stone cold.
Ali Washington from Young and Raw says eating raw food does not have to be all or nothing, including a larger percentage of raw food into your diet, whatever that percentage may be, has great health benefits. She also reminded me that in Ayurvedic or Chinese Medicine, warm food is part of the healthy diet, particularly if you have a body like mine that runs cold in winter.
Use you intuition says Sabine from Some Like It Raw. If you are hankering for something warm, don’t force yourself to eat a bowl of raw veggies. A large part of being healthy – in my humble opinion, all of it – is learning to listen to what your body wants. Your body knows what it needs, so if you crave brown rice – eat it – don’t let eating raw become a fascist regime!
Polly from PollyNoble.com has these rather helpful suggestions:
- Eat your raw food first as your body takes the most amount of nutrition from the food you eat first, so it’s always a good idea to have a mouthful or two of raw food before eating some cooked food.
- Keep having a green smoothie or green juice every day.
- Make your soups in a blender, keeping all the enzymes and nutrients intact, and then warm gently on the stove until warm to the touch. (Raw food is based on not heating over 115 degrees F (46 degrees C) as that’s when food starts to lose it’s nutritional benefits.
Esme Stevens from The Best of Raw Food got her tips from raw foodies in Alaska – brrrr!
- Raw doesn’t mean your food has to be cold. Make sure your raw food is room temperature, or heat it gently to 42 degrees.
- Put warm sauces/salad dressings over your raw veggies
- Drink warm beverages
Adria LeCorte from Healthy Vegas Vegan says consider seasonal eating. Her diet is based on Macrobiotics and the principles of yin (cooling) and yang (warming) foods. In winter, the diet centres on root vegetables and grounding, warming food. Sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, as well as steamed veggies and greens. She says as these foods are grounding in winter, it’s no coincidence that they also happen to be in season. Nature has her intuition too!
Here’s a hearty vegetable soup I make in the slow cooker, and then eat on a bed of shredded raw kale with some kimchi on top. Yum!
Chunky Winter Vegetable Soup
3 spanish onions
3 cloves garlic
1/2 butternut pumpkin
1 large sweet potato
4 yellow squash
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 sprigs rosemary/thyme/bay leaves
Salt/pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable stock (see home-made recipe here)
Chop veggies into large chunks, add with stock to slow cooker and leave it to cook, as slowly as possible, until veggies are soft, usually a couple of hours.
If you – or you kids – like smooth soup, just blend it before serving. I like mine chunky!
So I hope that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Enjoy!
Title image here
Soup image here