This post is based on a question I recently received from a reader. What an excellent topic to mine for the greater good of all people embarking on a new path to a healthier lifestyle.
Q: I’ve recently begun diving into a toxin free lifestyle and find myself at a loss for simple, quick dinner-for-two recipes. I’d like to include as much raw food as possible. Any ideas, tips, or recipes are greatly appreciated!
A: Great to hear that you’re traversing the path to better health! I know it may seem vast in the beginning, but I promise it will be fun and easy once you find a groove that works for you. I’d advise you to start with these simple steps:
Sample a variety of grains.
Once you find a few that you like, make batches that will last you 4-6 days. Unlike rice, grains like buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth and millet remain moist and taste great when reheated. You can heat them up by steaming, or sauté in butter or coconut oil.
Alternate between greens
I love purslane, raw bok choy and chard! If you can only shop about once per week, buy 2-3 bunches/ heads of greens and store them sealed in a plastic bag in your crisper until you wash them. Once you wash a bunch, keep them in your fridge in the salad spinner. They’ll stay fresh for several days. Chop your greens using a Chiffonade technique (roll the leaves and slice). Yields much better flavor, texture and aesthetic appeal!
Buy a mandolin!
No I’m not suggesting you take up music. A mandolin is an essential tool for any kitchen. This will slice your prep time in half. Pun intended! While effortlessly producing fabulously thin slices of cucumber, kohlrabi, radish, zucchini, sun chokes, parsnips or any other veggie. Thin slices can be key to palatability.
Mix things up!
Sample different root veggies and greens. You can eat most anything raw and you’ll be surprised at how delicious varying combinations of veggies can be. The above list are a few of my favorites.
Always have raw nuts and seeds in your pantry.
Best if you can soak and dehydrate them. Toss on your veggie mix.
Make dressings and dips
By blending some combination of fresh cilantro, parsley, sage, oregano and basil with a couple garlic cloves, some filtered water, Himalayan or Celtic sea salt, pepper, 1/2 lemon and or a dash of raw apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Add avocado (leave the pit in the jar) or mustard for creaminess, and carrots or raw honey for sweetness. These will store in the fridge for about two weeks (vinegar and lemon act as a preservative). I’ll be posting detailed recipes soon! Along with lacto-fermented variations.
Blend up a storm and preserve the enzymes in your raw veggie soups, dressings, nut butters, nut milks and most anything raw and delectable!
Include pickled veggies as often as possible!
We’re talking lacto-fermented, not pasteurized in a vinegar base. This is most important whether eating raw is your goal or not. Pickled veggies are far more digestible and yield more bio-availble vitamins and minerals than raw veggies. Not to mention enzymes and friendly bacteria that will help to repopulate your gut! If you eat enough lacto-fermented veggies, they will work to eat up sugars in your food and will keep you alkaline, trim and healthy.
Don’t be afraid to eat cooked veggies.
Some veggies are simply better that way and the cooler seasons call for warming foods. Just as the leaves fall of trees, for body’s constitution shifts with each season. Listen to your instincts! And know that you are in good hands, when you accompany your cooked meals with enzyme rich condiments like raw butter or anything lacto-fermented.
If you eat animal products
Eat animal foods coming from fully pastured animals bought directly from a local farmer or through a farm-to-table food buying club. These can be found through resources listed on the Real Milk or Eat Wild websites. Many cities are beginning to see the rise in butchers that obey traditional practices and source their meats from pastured farms. See The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, The Fatted Calf in San Francisco, or The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley. If you don’t live near any such butcher, order your meat from Grassland Beef. And make it rare!
Lastly, have a gander at The Whole Truth by Andrea Beaman – great simple recipes and everything you need to know about eating seasonally, and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for everything related to traditional and healthful food preparation – soaking grains, sprouting, lacto-fermentation and bone broths to name just a few.
And check back with CLG as my Cookbook fills up for more simple, healthful recipe ideas.