This week I thought I would share with you my participation in a cookery day held at the Nutrition Centre in Wokingham. It was run by Christine Bailey who is well known in the nutritional Therapy world. She has written many recipe books including one coming out in April focussing on cancer which I am looking forward to getting. I have been on quite a few of her courses now and always enjoy them and enjoy learning new things and picking other people's brains.
This particular day was on Raw cooking which was really interesting and quite a challenge as she used many unusual ingredients and a dehydrator to prepare some foods. The idea is that a dehydrator, which looks like a giant microwave, warms the food for many hours until they are void of all moisture which makes them crisp so they keep a long time in an airtight tin. I do not think I will be getting one but the foods were very tasty including Kale chips. Yes the green vegetable kale is mixed with a nut butter mixture or chocolate powder mix or soya sauce and spices and then dried to form a crisp texture. This can take up to 12 hours.
What is raw food?
Basically raw food is any food that it not heated above 47.7’C or 118’F. The principles behind this way of eating is that natural foods contain enzymes that are hugely beneficial to our health, known as ‘living foods,’ and by cooking food we destroy the enzymes which kills the life energy of the food. Enzymes are required for numerous chemical and metabolic processes including digestion, metabolism and detoxification. The Raw diet relies on lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouted seeds, beans and grains, sea vegetable, herbs and spices, dried fruit, oils, superfoods (see below), water, juices, smoothies and cold pressed oils. There are many devotees of the raw food movement particularly in America. Most people eat 80% raw and 20% cooked. I appreciate that this is not for everyone because some people’s digestive systems would not cope with all the fibre and of course if you are neutropenic it is important that food is well cooked or thoroughly washed to prevent infection. Personally I could not give up my bowl of homemade soup or warm casserole. However it does not stop us enjoying some of the foods and gaining the benefits even in a small way.
Why is the raw food diet so popular?
The reasons why this is so popular is because it is said to vastly increases energy, fight chronic disease, supports liver function, reduces fluid retention, boosts the immune system, helps to balance blood sugar and is rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients .
Quite impressive. However people who do follow it are advised to take a supplement of vitamin B12, omega 3 and vitamin D because the foods eaten seem to lack these particular nutrients. Which does make me question it a bit but I think that many of us can be deficient in these particular nutrients any way. We get most of our vitamin D from the sunshine!!!!!! And it is not present in many foods (egg yolk, fortified cereals, Wholegrain foods), Omega 3 is also only found in few foods (oily fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds (linseeds) and vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal foods and relies on good digestion and absorption to become available to us. So all of us have to be aware of this and perhaps take measures to ensure that they we getting sufficient amounts from their diet whatever form the diet may take.
A couple of the superfoods that she used are worth a mention.
Bee Pollen, This is produced by flowers collected by the honey bees. They are blended with the nectar to make small pellets. It is an alkaline food rich in protein, calcium, boron, copper, iodine, zinc and selenium and magnesium, incidentally most of these are the nutrients needed for good bone density, as well as Iodine and selenium which are needed to support the thyroid health particularly. One of the thyroid functions is to help control metabolism. Bee pollen is also rich in vitamins and phyronutrients so you can see why it has been called a superfood. It is said to boost the immune system and increase stamina and energy so very useful.
Chia seeds. These are easily available and I know that these have been mentioned to me by some of the visitors and Maggie’s that I have met. Interestingly Chia seeds are richer in omega 3 that flaxseeds so a very good addition to any diet and an easy way to boost your omega 3 levels. Remember omega 3 is an essential fat with many health benefits, particularly keeping levels of bad cholesterol in check, for supporting the health of the membranes which surround each cell and it has been shown to help reduce inflammation. Chia seeds can be bought ground and sprinkled on cereal, used in cakes, stirred into yogurt and eaten whole toasted. They are also rich in calcium and magnesium and known as an energy promoting endurance food.
I was given a whole heap of recipes and I have included a couple that I think would be very useful below. I like these because not only are they healthy but energy dense, easy to prepare and eat and the ingredients are easily available. They would be very useful for people with poor appetites or those who need to increase their calorie input because they need building up or of course eaten by anyone as a healthy dish.
Lime Mousse. It is really easy to make and keeps in the fridge for several days.
2 whole limes chopped up
Juice of 2 limes
2 ripe avocados pitted and peeled
125g of pitted dates (soft variety)
1 tbsp honey
Zest of 1 lime
unsweetened coconut flakes to serve (optional).
To make simply put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Spoon into a dish or individual dishes and chill.
Nut salad dressing. Again simple, nutritious and ingredients easy to get. Use it to dress green salad, raw kale/spinach type vegetables, coleslaw type salads etc. Even nice over a plate of steamed vegetables. Whoops not raw food but nice.
3 tbsp almond nut butter.
1 tbsp lemon juice.
1 tsp xylitol
2 tbsp tamari or soya sauce.
2 tbsp coconut butter melted.
1 tsp ground cumin spice
Pinch chilli powder or flakes.
Approx. 80mls water.
To make simply put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. It will make a thick dressing. You can add more water if necessary.
Blog originally written by Caroline Feb 2013