The best way to show you how to stay raw in winter is to share my raw story with you. As you will see, eating raw in winter and starting out on the raw food diet share many similarities. Becoming completely raw is a journey. There is a length of time involved in becoming entirely raw. It is a time of adjustment and new discoveries. It does not happen overnight. It is also important to understand that many of our cravings and desires are psychological, including the desire for hot food on cold days, but these are things you will discover for yourself over time. There is no rush. Until the time comes when you no longer fancy a cooked meal, by all means include small amounts of cooked food into your diet, particularly duringthe colder months.
I started my raw adventure in 1994. It was such an exciting time for me. I had been sick and tired for years and knew raw was the right way for me, but I was not sure how I was going to cope with such a radical change. Something was telling me to get a blender. I felt, deep down, that this would help me immensely. I would then be able to glug down masses of fruit and vegetables, as meal replacements, and I would be assured of getting fresh, vitamin and enzyme rich food into my system. I knew very little about blenders, never having owned one, but I knew I wanted a really good one. It was at this time that I stumbled upon the Vitamix, and my adventure into the raw food world began.
I mention the Vitamix specifically, as I believe it is a crucial tool if you wish to embark on the raw food journey.
At that stage I was unaware of any ‘raw food’ movement and the net was still in its infancy. I just knew, from reading books such as ‘Fit for Life’ by Harvey Diamond, and others, that raw food played a crucial role in maintaining a healthy body. It was not about being 100 per cent raw or any per cent raw, it was about getting more fresh raw food into my system, and eliminating the bad stuff such as animal flesh, simple carbohydrates like bread, sugar and pasta, and all the bad hydrogenated oils. The initial difficulty when first going raw was getting used to surviving on very light foods, foods that didn’t bulk me up. Foods such as breads, butter and cheese, baked potatoes, rice, lentils and, even worse, comfort foods like pasta, fish and chips and cottage pie! Also the lack of variety – I know there is an enormous variety of different fruits and vegetables, but when I first went raw, I lumped these into two categories: either raw fruit or raw vegetables, and I missed all the steamy, creamy, ‘yummy’ stuff. Another enormous stumbling block was winter. All my life I had associated winter with steaming plates of meaty stews, roast dinners, thick vegetable soups, and curries, hot chocolate and cooked breakfasts – and now, as a dedicated vegetarian and an aspiring raw fooder, I was faced with cold crunchy this and cold crunchy that, or … a smoothie. What made it even more difficult were the bleating children, who were forced onto the raw food band wagon. I was too busy, too selfish and too sure I was on right the path to consider making different meals for different tastes. Basically it was my way or the highway! Interestingly, the children were fairly happy with going mainly raw, but they definitely wanted cooked treats and these were presented to them as side dishes. Main meal would be a big salad with a side dish of roast potatoes, stuffed butternuts, steamed vegetables, fried haloumi, or even cheese toasties, when time was short. As time progressed it became easier for us all to eat mostly raw and less cooked food, and I also had time to discover more healthy vegetarian and vegan recipes. By that time I had added a dehydrator to my stable of appliances and this helped enormously to add new varieties of healthy snacks and different textures to the table. I started making dried fruits, flax seed crackers, flax crisps, raw biscuits and various concoctions with oats, yogurt and raisins.
Now, back to the main topic – ‘ eating raw in winter’ – let me say that it all depends on how long you have been eating raw. If you are new to the raw game, my best advice to you is to cut yourself some slack and cheat, just a bit. The way I see it, you are on a health journey, full of ups and downs and winding roads, so take it slow and steady. This is not a competition about the percentage of raw food you consume, it is about readjusting your taste-buds and redefining what your body requires. Initially you will feel the cold more than others and require warmer clothes, and a small amount of some of the traditional heavy foods you’ve grown so used to. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Just do the best you can. If you are used to a heavy breakfast, compromise and make yourself a sugarless muesli breakfast, but instead of conventional milk, use almond milk and add bananas and other fruits to the mix. If, at dinner, you really must have a few chips, go for it, but make sure they are oven baked and as a side dish, with a salad as the main meal. If you used to be a burger fiend, buy veggie burgers, or make your own, and use whole-wheat buns. Pile the burger full of fresh vegetables. Make sure you have a hearty salad on the side! Or try the amazing Korean Pancakes I discovered on Dr. Ben Kim’s website (http://drbenkim.com). They are simply divine as a side dish for breakfast, lunch or supper!
Or consider having a raw breakfast (a fruit or vegetable smoothie) and a few soaked nuts (I would like to add that it is important to soak all nuts in purified water overnight, and then either dehydrate them or dry them in muslin bags in a sunny, breezy corner), and for lunch, a room temperature salad with a warm dressing. For supper, indulge in soaked and steamed lentils, steamed yams, or a vegetable stew with brown rice with a small salad on the side. In this way your fresh food intake is still very high and will increase over time and through the seasons. Initially, I liked to follow the ‘Fit for Life’ diet by Harvey Diamond in which he recommends raw food up until 12 noon, and then for dinner I would indulge in something cooked.
You’ll note that your body will grow accustomed to lighter fare and is less inclined to crave the rich and heavier foods. I have been a raw fooder for nearly 15 years and have no inclination whatsoever to eat cooked food. I do occasionally, when there is nothing else, and there is no harm done, in fact it can be a nice change, but it is not something I long for. I realized that the body takes time to adjust, and that wanting hot food in the colder months is more psychological than anything else.
Here are 9 other tips for keeping raw in the winter:
- Avoid ice cold food. Take food out and let it warm to room temperature, or slightly warm it in the dehydrator.
- Warm plates before serving the food.
- If you have a dehydrator, use it to make slightly heavy, slightly warm, chewy or crispy snacks (the texture of raw vegetables and fruit can get quite mundane after a while)
- I know it has nothing to do with food, but increasing your exercise routine and including more cardio workouts definitely helps to warm you up.
- Drink warming drinks like herbal teas, raw hot chocolate and even warmed up fruit juices. Add warming spices like chili, cayenne, ginger and cinnamon.
- Pour warm dressings or sauces over your salads
- Sprout your own baby greens
- Eat more of the denser foods such as nuts, seeds, coconut flesh, olives and avocados (a note about nuts. It is always best to soak them overnight (to remove the growth inhibitors) and then either dehydrate them or put them in muslin bags in a hot sunny corner to dry out)
- Make warm raw soups in your Vitamix. If you don’t have a Vitamix, blend your favourite vegetables, pour into a pot and warm up to 43 degrees Celcius on the stove.
A FEW RECIPES
A GREAT SALAD
- Shredded rocket
- Mint leaves
- Basil leaves
- A sprinkling of sprouts
- A few slices of onion
- Crisp baby tomatoes, halved
- A few slices of red, yellow or green pepper
- A few slices of cucumber
- A few slices of carrot
- A sprinkling of raw corn
- A few cubes of avocado
- A sprinkling of lemon juice
- A sprinkling of salt
And there you have it!
WARM, CREAMY SALAD DRESSING
- 1 cup of raw sunflower seeds (soaked overnight)
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice of ½ of a lemon
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey (optional)
- Sea salt, to taste
Method: Blend till warm in a Vitamix, or heat till warm on stove once blended
- 2 cups mung beans
- 6 tablespoons basmati or brown rice
- Two baby marrows, one red pepper, 3 spring onions, one small white onion and a big handful of parsley salt
- Cover the mung beans and rice in a bowl of water for a few hours.
- Grate the baby marrows and sprinkle them with a level teaspoon of salt. Give it a good toss. Let it sit for an hour or so to draw.
- Finely chop your red bell pepper. Remove the white flesh and seeds.
- Chop up the parsley, and diagonally slice up the spring onions.
- Once the mung beans and rice have finished soaking, strain and transfer the beans and rice to a strong blender. This is where having a Vita-Mix Blender really comes in handy.
- Add 1 and 3/4 cups of fresh room temperature water to the beans and rice, along with a teaspoon of sea salt. Blend until you have a nice batter that looks something like a thick pancake batter:
- Now give the yellow onion a rough chop, add it to the batter, and give it another good blend until smooth.
- Now transfer batter to a large bowl, much larger than what will comfortably hold the batter, as you’ll be adding a small mountain of vegetables.
- Remember the marrow that you salted a while ago? Use a pair of clean hands to gently squeeze the moisture out of the marrow and transfer it to the batter. Squeeze really hard. Next add the finely chopped red bell pepper, the spring onions and the parsley: Gently fold everything together.
- You now have your Korean pancake batter ready to go. You can store this batter in an air-tight container for up to a few days.
- Once you’re ready to make your pancakes, heat a little olive or coconut oil over medium heat, and then add generous pancake-size dollops of the batter to the pan.
- 12. Once you see a bunch of bubbles rise to the surface of the pancakes, give them a flip and cook for another couple of minutes. You should use the underside of your spatula to press down on the cooking pancakes for at least a few seconds to make sure that the batter and vegetables cook right through. Serve piping hot with a fresh salad.
MY FAVOURITE TOMATO SAUCE
- 5 large tomatoes, washed and blended
- One – two cloves of garlic
- One – two chilli
- Juice of one lemon and olive oil for frying
- Salt to taste
Fry garlic and chilli in olive oil, add tomatoes, lemon juice and salt. Allow mix to simmer and reduce. Use hot or cold as a relish on burgers, or as a tomato base on a homemade pizza. I freeze mine in little bowls and use as and when required.
DELICIOUS VEGGIE BURGERS
- 3 cups brown bread crumbs (Plus an additional cup for rolling in)
- 3 cups ground cashew nuts
- 1/½ cups water mixed with 2 tsp bouillon or 1 heaped teaspoon sea salt
- 1 finely chopped carrot
- 1 finely chopped leek
- 2 stick celery
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- Olive oil
- Fry leeks, garlic, chopped carrot, celery in olive oil for a few minutes.
- Add water with bouillon (or salt)
- Add breadcrumbs and nuts one cup at a time, stirring continuously. If the mixture is too sloppy add some more ground nuts and breadcrumbs. Mix should be soft but stiff.
- Leave to cool for an hour or so.
- Shape into small balls, and roll in breadcrumbs and flatten. I make a batch of these and freeze them. Place leaves of wax paper between each layer of burger patty.
These are delicious served on their own as a side dish, or placed between a whole-wheat bun with loads of lettuce, tomato and onion slices.
BEST VEGETABLE SMOOTHIE EVER (SERVES 2 – 4)
- 3 large tomatoes
- 3 large cucumbers
- 1 stick celery
- 1 small carrot or half a large carrot
- 1 medium beetroot
- ½ a small onion
- A bunch of parsley
- A bunch of mint (stalks and all)
- Juice of two lemons
- 1 big teaspoon of sea salt
- A large tray of ice
Blend until smooth and cool but not ice cold. This is divine.
STUFFED BUTTERNUTS (SERVES 2)
- 1 butternut
- 1 red pepper
- 2-4 chillies
- 1 small onion
- 1 small tomato
- Feta cheese
- Salt and pepper
Halve the butternut and steam in a large pot with a steamer cradle or similar When soft remove from pot and allow to cool.
In the meantime chop up 1 small onion, 1 chilli, and 1 red pepper tomato into small bits. Fry the onion and chilli until soft, then add the rest of the ingredients. Fry for a minute or two (things should still be crispish). Set aside. Scoop out the flesh from the butternut making sure to leave the shells intact (leave a good layer of squash inside the shells so that they remain firm) and mash this with the fried vegetables and a bit of butter salt and pepper. Put the mashed pumpkin and vegetables back into the two shells and sprinkle with crumbled feta. Pop under the grill for a few minutes and serve with a green salad.
Eating Raw in Winter Ideas