The chronicles of adding raw food to my diet

On this blog, I'll post about the transition to a more raw food based diet. Check back often for posts on raw foods that I'm eating!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

So, what is raw food anyways?

I was mystified by the term "raw food" when I first started learning about the concept. But really, it's not hard to grasp. Have you eaten an apple off the tree? Then you've eaten raw food.
What about a salad with crisp greens and lots of fresh veggies? Then you've eaten raw food.

Where I think the mystique comes in is regarding "cooking".
Raw foods are typically are heated to only the range of ~104-118. The theory is that any heat above 118 will destroy the vital enzymes in raw, "living" foods. When living foods are taken into the body, the enzymes they contain can first digest the nutrients and break them down so that they can then be absorbed by the body. When the enzymes are destroyed, and food is eaten, the body tries to break the foods down and has a hard time doing so. This causes less nutrients to be absorbed, and it causes foods to stay in the body longer than they should be.
Raw living foods are also full of fiber, and you know what that means!!! To put it nicely, easy elimination by the body.... as I indicated above, cooked foods are harder to digest and tend to hang out in the body as waste products, bogging the body down.

Another highlight of raw, living foods is that they get the pH of the body to alkaline, or base. This is desirable because a healthy body is about 70% alkaline and 30% acidic. Cooked foods, that have had their enzymes destroyed by heat will create a more acidic body and that leads to a variety of health problems. For that reason, many people who have chronic health issues, if they want to take a more holistic approach to getting better, will turn to raw foods to heal.

So, raw foods are foods that have not been heated about 118. But there's more to it.
Many foods are raw, but are in a dormant state. What does that mean you might ask?
Well, take a raw bean, nut or seed. They all contain the nutrients and enzymes necessary to promote life, right? Plant them and you (might) get a plant.
Well, when you buy them, they first need to be stimulated or woken up so to speak, to get those enzymes going. The way this happens is by soaking them in water, causing them to sprout.
That sprout contains quality protein, high levels of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes, in a highly digestible form.
Soaking the seeds, nuts and beans also removes undesirable acids that protect them in their dormant state called phytic acid and oxalyic acid. Again, this then makes digestion of these seeds, nuts and beans much more digestible by the body.
Sprouting is one of the easiest ways to add raw foods to your body.
Here's a pic of some chick peas that I have sprouting:
Basic sprouting technique:
Even before I became interested in raw foods, I did my own sprouting. Basically what you do is first, take your beans or seeds and soak them overnight in a Ball Jar as I have done in my picture.
Cover the top with cheese cloth and then cover the jar w/a towel so that sunlight does not get in.
The next morning, drain the jar, leaving the cheese cloth over the top. Rinse a couple of times with new, cool water and drain completely. Cover again with the towel. Rinse again in the evening and cover w/towel. Repeat these steps until you have the desired size sprout. Obviously, different beans and seeds, and nuts as well will have different sprouting lengths.
To harvest, simply remove cheese cloth, dump sprouts into a bowl and cover w/cool water. Swish them around, and then lift them out of the water. Place them onto a baking sheet covered with paper towels to dry out, and leave them out on the counter to get a bit of green going (stimulate that chlorophyll!!).
That's it. The sprouts are then ready to use.
What would I do with them, you might wonder?
Well, I like to eat sprouts on top of sprouted grain bread w/a schmear of Tofutti Cream Cheese. I will eat them w/hummus on crackers. I will add them to salads. Etc...possibilities are endless.
Some of these chickpeas are going to be mixed with raw sesame tahini, garlic, lemon juice and sea salt to be turned into hummus.
My next step is to start to use sprouts in foods that I will then dehydrate in a dehydrator. Dehydrators will "cook" the food by removing the water, but leaving the nutrients behind. I have purchased an Excalibur Dehydrator that can be set ~104-118 degrees for a set period of time.
Looking forward to blogging on that once I use it!!!
Rawk out all!!!

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