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6 Reasons to Add Raw Food to Your Diet [2 Recipes]

Whether used as a short-term course for cleansing and weight management, or to strengthen a delicate digestive system, going raw has many benefits.

In this segment of Native Foodways: New Seasons, we look into some of the health benefits of going raw, and offer two recipes to help put more raw foods into our over-cooked kitchens.

Whether used as a short-term course for cleansing and weight management, or to strengthen a delicate digestive system in preparation or following chemotherapy, or as a lifestyle commitment, a raw-food-rich diet tethers us to the source of our sustenance.

Here are six reasons to go raw:

Not Processed

Raw foods are mineral- and nutrient-rich, water-dense, and high in fiber, as nothing has been processed out from cooking.

Detox

Raw foods help the body detox and replenish the natural intestinal flora, improving intestinal health and digestion.

Nutrients

Raw foods increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, lessening the need for pill-form supplements and vitamins.

Toxins

Raw foods encourage the expulsion of toxins from the body, promoting clear skin, and improving energy, cognitive function, and circulation.

Low Fat

Raw foods are generally lower in fat than cooked foods. This can be attributed both to the higher, naturally-occurring saturated fat content of most meats and animal products, and to the fats absorbed through less-than-healthy-diligent cooking methods, including breading and/or frying in oil or lard, and the high-fat add-ins we find so difficult to resist, such as butter, sour cream, and mayonnaise.

Better for the Environment

Raw foods are less taxing on the environment, and on the budget. Requiring less energy for processing and preparation, they are generally less expensive than processed—canned, dried, frozen, smoked—foods, and leave behind a considerably smaller carbon-footprint. And that’s always a tasty plus.

RoseMary Diaz

Male squash blossoms are used in one of the raw recipes presented here.

Herbed Nut-Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Blossoms

12 fresh male squash blossoms, stems trimmed to about 2-1/2 inches, rinsed, and air-dried. (Make sure to remove all the light-green-and-black bees from inside the blossoms!) Blossoms will keep in refrigerator for about 12 hours: line plastic, sealable container with several layers of damp paper towels; arrange blossoms on paper towels, alternating stem to tip to prevent petals from touching; place one more damp paper towel over blossoms. (A too-heavy layer of more than one towel will damage the fragile blossoms.) Tightly seal container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cheese Base

1 cup blanched almonds

1 cup raw macadamia nuts

1/4 teaspoon probiotic powder

Add-Ins

1/4 cup minced shallots

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons chopped chives

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2 tablespoons chopped dill

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

RoseMary Diaz

Ingredients for the herbed nut cheese recipe are seen here.

To make Cheese Base: Soak almonds and macadamia nuts in filtered water 6 to 8 hours. Drain.

Blend soaked nuts with 1 cup fresh filtered water and probiotic powder in high-speed blender until smooth and creamy, adding more water if necessary.

Line small colander with damp cheesecloth, allowing several inches of cloth to drape over sides. Set colander over dish to catch liquid, and pour creamy nut mixture into cheesecloth.

Fold excess cheesecloth over top of nut mixture, and place in warm (not hot) location to ferment. After 2 hours, place a can or cup filled with grains or seeds on top of cheese bundle to press excess liquid. Let ferment 8 to 12 hours more; check every 2 to 3 hours, and drain off excess liquid collecting in dish.

Transfer cheese base to bowl, and stir in add-ins. Cover, and store in refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 1 week.

To serve: Spoon or pipe 2-3 tablespoons of cheese mixture into each squash blossom, being very careful not to tear the delicate petals. Serve immediately. (If there is any remaining cheese, serve with crackers or crudités—carrots, radishes, sweet peas, baby squashes. Or, save for a later occasion; will keep in refrigerator up to one week.

Serves 6.

Purple Cabbage Shred with Garlic and Lime

2 cups purple cabbage, rinsed, and finely shredded

2 cups fresh spinach leaves (no stems), thoroughly rinsed, and thinly sliced

1/2 cup fresh carrot, shredded with a potato-peeler, and shreds cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup small grape tomatoes, rinsed, and set aside

1/2-1 clove fresh garlic, ends trimmed, and finely julienned

1/2 cup raw, unsalted sunflower or pumpkin seeds (or a combination of both), set aside

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons avocado, sunflower, nut, or olive oil

Juice of one fresh lime

1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

In a large bowl, add cabbage, spinach, carrot, and garlic. Toss, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.

To serve: Halve tomatoes lengthwise and add to salad mixture. Add seeds, vinegar, oil, and lime. Toss to thoroughly mix all ingredients. Spoon ½-cup salad into individual serving bowls. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper over each serving. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Note: “raw’’ in this article refers to berries, bulbs, flowers (blossoms), fruits, grains, herbs, legumes of certain varieties, nuts, seeds, spices, sprouts, tubers, and most vegetables. The reference does not include dairy, fowl, game, meat, poultry, or seafood.

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