For Christmas, my parents bought me a gift certificate to the Culinary Center of Kansas City since I love to keep up on culinary trends and techniques. I wanted to spend the money wisely so I waited until a class really caught my eye. That happened to be Monday night’s Raw Foods for Health class. I have never tried to “eat raw” so was eager to get some tips, recipes and meet members of the KC community who are interested in the movement.
What is the raw foods diet? The primary principles of raw foodism is that foods consumed remain uncooked and unprocessed. Food can be “heated” via the use of a dehydrator, but should not exceed 118 degrees. The perceived benefits include increased energy, clearer skin, weight loss and even prevention/reversal of chronic disease. According to our instructor, this eating style means that 75% of the diet typically comes from fruits or vegetables. Raw foodists follow the diet to a varying degree – some are vegans (no meat or dairy) and others are more flexible with their intake. For those of you who know me well, I love cheese way too much for this!
As a dietitian, I recommend that raw foodists (and vegans in general) are conscious of their vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acid intake, nutrients that are most prevalent in animal products.
The American Dietetic Association recommends:
- Twice the iron as nonvegetarians through sources such as tofu, legumes, almonds and cashews.
- At least eight servings a day of calcium-rich foods like bok choy, cabbage, soybeans and tempeh.
- Fortified breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, and fortified soy milk for B12 or taking supplements.
- Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods such as flaxseed, walnuts and vegetable oils such as canola and soybean. As with vitamin B12, supplements may be a good idea.
What recipes did we prepare? The hands-on portion of the class was fabulous. We prepared five delicious recipes and were treated to a complimentary glass of wine while we cooked. These included Apricot and Fennel Salad, Summer Squash Ribbons with Lemon and Parmesan, Lettuce Wraps, Pad Thai Salad and Raw Apple Crisp. Hands down my favorites were the Pad Thai Salad and Raw Apple Crisp. I will share the Apple Crisp recipe below, but please leave a comment if you are interested in any of the full recipes!
Raw Apple Crisp serves 8
Core and chop 3-4 honey crisp apples. Toss with 1/4 cup orange juice and divide into serving dishes. Place 3/4 cup nuts (your choice), 3/4 cup raisins, 3/4 tsp ginger and 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon into a food processor and pulse until medium chopped. Sprinkle over the apples. SO SIMPLE!
Will I join the raw foods movement? The answer is – not any time soon. I am a huge advocate for “clean eating” and plant-based diets (i.e. minimally processed whole foods with clean ingredient labels), but the raw foods diet seems like quite an undertaking and does have some nutritional limitations. For example, cooking some foods such as spinach and tomatoes makes their nutrients more easily absorbed by the body. I can definitely see myself incorporating a few of these recipes into my diet, though. And I applaud those in my group who are raw foodists for caring about their bodies and the environment. If everyone ate more consciously, the world would certainly be a better place.
Both our instructors were knowledgeable, warm and gracious. I encourage each of you to check out Prairie Garden Farm, owned and operated in the Kansas City area by Don & Loretta Craig. Loretta co-hosted our class and it was so inspiring to meet someone who lovingly grows/raises the food we eat locally. I hope to do a personal interview in a later post about their operation and farm values so be on the lookout.
What do you think about the raw foods diet?