Raw Foodie

I recently spent 11 days in Tampa, and while laying out at the beautiful white sand beach Pass-A-Grille, the southernmost end of St. Pete Beach, I thought about the Los Angeles episode of Bizarre Foods that I had watched the night before. I was surprised to see one of my favorite raw foodies on one of the segments. It was none other than Ani Phyo, a celebrity health & wellness expert and eco-stylist. I instantly  became inspired and decided that starting I’d commit to the raw food lifestyle for one full month. I had dabbled far too long, and it was time to put myself to the test. Thank goodness I don’t live in New Orléans anymore because I do not believe I would have reached this point. The food there is entirely too good!

My usual lifestyle was still pretty healthy, even more-so over the past 3 years. If I had to label myself, up until a few days ago, I was an organic pescatarian (my only source of ‘meat’ was seafood). Maki is my absolute favorite food, but I’ll have to stick with sashimi. Anyway, I didn’t drink milk or eat eggs, and tried to stay away from refined sugars, but my weakness has always been bread, and I love cheese. A good cheese board changes lives!  I only drank water (and 100% fruit juices/smoothies occasionally), with an occasional bottle of wine. My vegetables were often cooked, and everything else was processed in some sort of way, even if it was minimally.

Raw means that the only heating allowed is with a dehydrator – this blows hot air through the food, never above (approx.) 115  degrees Fahrenheit. The idea is that heating food destroys its nutrients and natural enzymes. It all makes pure sense when you really think about it. I mean, if you placed a human being in the oven, what would happen? Exactly. So why cook your food?

I’m very excited about this transition, and it’s just in time for the start of spring/summer which are the ideal seasons for clean-eating. Over the past few days, I’ve done research just to make sure that I live out this lifestyle in the best way while in-taking all the proper nutrients. I looked up recipes that would be pleasing to my taste buds and I’ve even created a few of my own. This lifestyle fits me, and although I had high hopes of committing 100% to the raw foodies lifestyle, I was being unrealistic. With my busy travel schedule, quick, easy, and optimally healthy meals are perfect.

With the help of RawGuru.Com, I’ve learned some new details about the items that happened to already be on my essentials list. Check it out below (all things being organic, of course).

essentials1.) Berries.

I’m a fan of goji berries and cranberries, and although I’m not a huge fan of blueberries because they can sometimes be a bit tart, I find that when I mix them, they’re pretty good. There’s a high polyphenol content in berries, especially blueberries which makes them a good source of fiber and an excellent brain boosting food. They are also packed with vitamin C, B complex, vitamin E, vitamin A, copper, selenium, zinc and iron. These immune boosting nutrients help the body fight infections and prevent the formation of free radicals. Blueberries also help regulate blood sugar levels.

2.) Greenery.

I like kale and I love spinach. I eat spinach with almost everything. Leafy green vegetables are known far and wide for their dense nutrient content and subsequent health benefits. Vegetables such as cabbages, Brussels sprouts and broccoli contain anticancer compounds such as isothiocyanates and glucosinolates. A research newsletter published by the Oregon State University suggests that boiling cruciferous vegetables for 9-15 minutes can result in 20-60% decrease in their total glucosinolate content. A joint study conducted by University of California and Louisiana State University found that raw vegetables contain higher amounts of antioxidants like folic acid, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin as compared to cooked vegetables. Vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin C is also known to improve skin health by boosting production of collagen. Folic acid, however, helps in the formation of red blood-cells and ensures proper functioning of the brain and nervous system.

3.) Garlic.

I can eat garlic in any way, shape, or form but of course raw is the best. Garlic produces allicin, a DNA-protecting compound. Cooking can inactivate this enzyme. It is believed that consuming raw garlic helps reduce risk of colorectal, prostate, stomach and uterine cancers.

4.) Raw Cacao.

Raw chocolate has been my best weakness since 2010. My friend Yuta invited me to a dinner party in Venice Beach and the dessert menu was raw nuts and chocolate. I had tasted a small piece of heaven. Raw cacao has a lot of essential vitamins and minerals that pump up the feel good neurotransmitters in the body. They are also rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that help destroy free radicals in your cells and tissues, preventing diseases like arthritis and cancer. Make sure there’s no added sugar!

5.) Nuts & Seeds.

Raw is the new roasted! I have a high metabolism and I seem to feel hungry often. I’m always mixing up my raw nuts and seeds with dried fruit as my go-to snack throughout the day. I usually mix pumpkin and sunflower seeds with cashews, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts, with a splash of berries and cacao nibs. Raw and organic nuts have low sodium content, but packaged nuts often have added salt, which is a bummer for those suffering from high blood pressure. Oil roasted nuts also have higher calories as compared to raw nuts. Raw nuts on the other hand are a source of healthy fats that lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol and cut risk of blood clots, nervous weakness and cardiovascular diseases. Deep roasting nuts (over 170 degrees) raises levels of carcinogenic acrylamides and breaks down the disease-fighting fats into free radicals that increase plaque, thus resulting in heart diseases. I explain this to my patients day in and day out.

6.) Wheatgrass.

I have a wheatgrass shot in the morning and in the evening. I’ve been told that you should never have more than 8 oz. a day. Wheatgrass is a good source of potassium, a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. I’m planning to grow my own, but I have to get a juicer first. I usually buy my wheatgrass from Sevanada and have them juice if for me. I take it home in a small glass bowl with a lid and it usually lasts about 3 days. As you can probably already tell, I’m at Sevanada at least twice a week.

7.) Creativity.

You can’t buy that.

For those of you who have low energy, hectic schedules, or are always on the go, here are some prepackaged options to add to the raw-vegan shelves in your kitchen. AprilRaw5

1. ) Raw Seeds by Simple Truth Organic.

I usually like to buy my nuts and seeds from the bulk department but sometimes, pre-packaged is the only option.

2.) Raw Kale Krackers by New York Naturals.

This was my first time trying this brand of raw crackers. First of all, the packaging is so much better than the typical BPA-filled plastic that companies love to use. Secondly, these crackers are simply made with kale and other superfoods. Thirdly and most importantly, they taste so good solo! Depending on the flavor, I may pair my kale crackers with raw walnuts and a drizzle of raw agave, which leads us right into raw foodist essential number three…

3.) Organic Raw Agave by Modhava.

I like a little sweetness in most of my food and this is the most healthy, delectable alternative to processed sugar and artificial sweeteners. Organic Agave is plant-based, gluten-free, vegan, low-glycemic, and sweeter than sugar. Score!

4.) Hippie Hemp Truffles by Living Raw.

These 100% raw pieces of bliss are also vegan and gluten-free. They have a smooth texture on the inside and come in more than one flavor. Anything called Hippie Hemp is sure to taste good.  I also like the darkest cacao truffles.

5.) Raw Bar – Chocolate Suicide by Live Smart.

I’m also new to this energy bar. I like the softness with subtle crunches, and it doesn’t taste like I’m eating powered protein. It’s full of antioxidants, and it’s soy, lactose, trans. fat, yeast, and peanut free.

Life has many opportunities to begin anew, try something different, or set the reset button. In fact, every waking moment gives us an opportunity to flourish.  When it’s time to reset, you’ll know, and I will continue to share my new knowledge, triumphs, lessons-learned, recipes, and overall journey with old and my fellow new raw foodists. Thanks for reading! XO!

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