Weight loss, beautiful skin, clear thinking, increased resistance to disease, and greater energy are some of the benefits people following a raw food diet claim. No doubt eating raw will lead to less time spent in the kitchen---and there will be no greasy pans to scrub out. Starting a raw food diet may seem perplexing at first, as you contemplate what, exactly, is on the menu for the day. If you keep a few principles in mind, and a few staples in your pantry, you will soon be able to plan a raw food menu with ease.
There are three main groups of foods typically eaten in the raw food diet: vegetables, fruits and fats. Stock your fridge with all types of vegetables, especially leafy greens such as kale, spinach, broccoli and cabbage---these vegetables are bursting with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. All types of fruit are on the raw food menu, and they can be the basis of a quick meal, so stock up on your favorites. Fats are an important part of a raw food diet because they provide energy and essential fatty acids, and aid digestion. Raw food fats include olives, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconuts and cold-pressed oils.
It's great to start the day with something sweet, and many raw foodists prefer to eat nothing but fruit until noon in order to give their body time to clear out toxins. Smoothies are a popular choice for breakfast---blend your favorite fruits and add some coconut, raw nut butter and flax oil for extra energy. You can add a handful of spinach or kale to your smoothie as well, and it won't overpower the sweet taste of the fruit. Fruit salad is another breakfast option. Chop and mix pears, apples, grapes and raisins with a little coconut milk for a Waldorf style salad.
Lunch can be difficult on the raw food diet because many people are away from home and forced to either pack a lunch or eat out. If you pack a lunch, the easiest thing is to take a variety of raw foods that can be eaten on the go, like almonds, bananas, dried fruits, pumpkin seeds and vegetable sticks. Make a roll-up by rolling chopped vegetables in a collard, lettuce or cabbage leaf. Drizzle the roll-up with raw sesame oil. Another option is to purchase some of the available prepared raw foods on the market, such as Larabars, or raw organic crackers. If you go out to a restaurant, choose one that has a large salad bar, and help yourself to what it has to offer---bring your own dressing from home, though, because commercial salad dressing is not a healthy item.
The supper menu can be as elaborate or as simple as you would like. The evening meal is a good time to work on expanding your repertoire of raw food dishes. Try making vegetable soup with tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, zucchini and sesame butter, all coarsely chopped and blended. Try your favorite combinations of veggies and fresh herbs to create a palette of soups. A simple option for supper is to make a meal-sized salad, with a vinaigrette dressing made from olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar. If you miss spaghetti, make "noodles" with shredded zucchini, and blend up some raw marinara sauce with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, and oregano.
Expanding the Menu
While vegetables, fruits and healthy fats should make up the bulk of foods on the raw food menu, there are other foods that you might consider adding for variety. Some individuals incorporate raw dairy products in the form of milk, yogurt, kefir, and cheese into their diets. Raw milk may be hard to find, as it is illegal to sell it in many states. Raw fish in the form of sashimi, is perfectly acceptable on a raw food diet, so long as one is not a strict vegetarian. A few adventuresome individuals even add raw meat to their diet, arguing that the benefits outweigh the possible risks.