Around March 2021 I was thinking about spring, renewal and cleansing. I’d also recently finished teaching a programme which included cellular energy. For some reason this all got me thinking about what it would be like to try a raw food diet.
It wasn’t logical. For one thing, it was freezing but it’s something that appealed to me. So, I set to.
Going raw means no cooking, well at least not above 40 degrees Celsius. That appealed to me. I also liked the idea of trying new foods and different ingredients. It wasn’t long until I got really excited and became determined to try this raw food diet. That’s the thing about me, when I get something in to my head, I generally follow through.
I decided to try it for a month and commit to doing it for 3 days a week as I knew that I could manage that. I also knew that I’d document it. But I realised that as excited and determined as I was, it would be more enjoyable and a lot more fun to get others involved. So, I put it out to my community and ran the ‘Raw April’ challenge for the whole month on my Facebook page.
Going raw was incredible, a bit of a wild ride actually. It challenged me both in my thinking and cooking. But ultimately it was really refreshing and a lot of fun.
So, what about you, have you ever considered going raw? If you have, here are a few things that I learned on my journey which may help you too.
What am I doing? I realised that I was actually a little nervous about trying a raw food diet. My last experience of going (semi) raw was over 25 years ago when I was training for long distance runs. I dropped meat, became vegetarian and partially raw before it was even a thing. But totally raw is very different.
Planning is key. One of the other things that really helped me was creating the support worksheets for the community who were doing the raw journey with me. This really helped me to start planning.
Another thing that helped, was going through my recipe folder. It’s a really old dog-eared folder that I keep recipes that I’ve printed and cut out from magazines, cookbooks and online sources.
3 raw meals a day, really! I tend to have a smoothie for breakfast most days so that’s not an issue. But April 2021 was really cold and got me worried. How was I going to survive on salads for lunch and dinner, especially as I couldn’t add potatoes?!
Choose your favourites. This was the winning key. I found a few recipes which I absolutely adored and these got me off to a good start.
Recipe: 3 type tomatoes (plum, cherry and sun-dried) and a fresh basil and olive oil dressing. It was incredibly simple and took 2 minutes to make.
I realised that one of the things that I was most concerned about was that I’d be hungry. The other concern was that this would be unbelievably hard. But it was actually okay.
I’m not hungry! One thing that’s surprised me was that I didn’t feel like eating as much as I had before. I actually really liked this feeling and it made me more prone to reach for fluids.
Obviously, there are numerous vitamins and minerals in vegetables and fruits and there’s a lot of carbohydrate in vegetables too, but this reiterated it to me. I also took in more fat with the nuts and seeds and oils which helped.
Recipe: I discovered Courgette Chinese salad. I used the spiritualiser and it took 2 minutes to blitz 1 ½ courgettes.
I added some grated carrot, spring onions and that was it dry ingredient wise.
Then I added the best sauce. Tahini (1 tbsp) peanut butter (1 tbsp) miso paste (1/2 packet) fresh ginger (thumbnail) and almond milk.
It was sublime. I kept tasting it and saying, ‘oh my gosh this is soo good’. It was creamy and salty in a beautiful refreshing way and it really added to the salad.
Oh this feels good. I’ve always been someone who ate loads of veggies but my body started to feel as if it was craving raw. Again, I wondered if this was purely my imagination but I don’t think so. It felt like a physical yearning which I was happy to fulfil.
I haven’t got digestive issues, but this definitely gave me a mini cleanse. I’m so glad that I committed to do it for a whole month. I really enjoyed it but did wonder how long I could realistically do it for.
There can be a tendency to have the same few meals making it a little repetitive. You do have to think more in some ways and be more creative, which can be a good thing. I wondered how much of this I’d be incorporating in the future.
Recipe: I’ve got in to making a simple mango salad (that you can dress up or down). In addition to the mango I include avocado, watercress salad and peanuts.
I started with some sesame seed oil and 1-2 tsp’s soy or a 1tsp miso (you can also combine these with 1 tsp tahini). It’s quite strong so ½ tsp would do.
1 tbsp peanut butter and juice of ½ lime.
You can also add shredded cucumber.
I loved the freshness. It made me feel really clean on the inside and my skin felt smooth.
I’ve made it! I did alter things slightly. I started to find it challenging to always have a whole day of raw especially as it wasn’t getting any warmer. So, I mixed and matched. I added another day and had 2 raw meals (breakfast and lunch or breakfast and dinner). That helped a lot.
I wondered if after only 4 weeks that this was all in my head, but I did feel physically better. I felt cleaner and more energetic and although my BMI is good, I felt lighter. I’m was still reaching for more fluids and it felt as if this was having a cumulative impact on my health.
I hate wasting food and this helped me to utilise all of my ingredients to the full. It’s so easy to make use of the extra herbs, simply by putting them in the freezer.
Recipe: This is something that I made, kind-of based on a Waldorf salad. It was gorgeous and provided that blend of sweet and savoury with lots of crunch.
Sliced red cabbage
You can add celery, but I didn’t
This was loosely based on a Caesar dressing recipe from: https://simple-veganista.com/vegan-caesar-dressing/
Cashew nuts 100g
Mustard (I used multigrain instead of Dijon) 1tsp
Lemon ¼ juice
Garlic 2 cloves (I like it quite strong – 1 clove would do)
But here’s the thing. Would I do it again? ABSOlutely! Having a raw food diet is worth it. I’ll be running the Raw April Challenge again next year and this has introduced me to some great recipes that are easy to make and easy to integrate. I’ve also loved incorporating different ingredients that I don’t use enough like Mooli (durkan), kol rahbi, walnuts and hazelnuts, fresh coriander, parsley and basil, shredded cabbage and beansprouts (I usually cook these).
If you’d like to get involved in future motivational, feel-good challenges do look at my Facebook page. I run them 4 times a year; Raw April, The Water Challenge, Self-Care fortnight and Nutrition for the New Year. In addition to my Healthy Eating at Christmas tips. You can also get details of my Mindful Eating and Food and Mood courses here.