The raw food diet is one of the most popular diets today, and many people come to it for various reasons, aside from its highly-touted abilities to help you drop unwanted pounds. There are also many myths about raw foods that leave some people confused and wondering, “Is it really worth it?”

Eating more raw foods is one of the best ways to learn to eat more simply and eat as close to the earth as possible. Aside from the weight loss benefits it may or may not have, the diet is one of the simplest ways to approach food in my experience. Many people try a raw food diet because of this very reason and because it may help provide more nutrients than a heavily cooked diet or one rich in processed foods. This isn’t to say that a 100% raw lifestyle is necessary (or even healthy for everyone) but it certainly is a great way to get more plant-based whole foods. Many people live a high raw diet and also do just wonderfully.

Raw food can be a bit intimidating though – unless you know a few tricks.  If you’ve ever been interested in raw food but thought, ” I don’t have time for that” or “I don’t have enough money,” then check out these simple tips below on on how to live raw in a more simple way and why living a mostly raw, vegan diet really is worth it.

1. Learn to Make a Basic Green Smoothie

Raw foodies know that superfoods are awesome to include in smoothies, but I’ll admit they can be a bit pricey. And while high-tech blenders will rock any plant-based kitchen like no other blender, they’re not the cheapest investment to make initially. So keep things simple if you have to at first. A Magic Bullet, Nutribullet, or basic blender will suffice when it comes to making basic green smoothies. All you need is a few leafy greens, some healthful nuts and seeds like raw almonds or cashews, perhaps some raw vegan protein (that you can even make yourself), and some low-glycemic fruit like berries, apples, or even 1/2 a banana. Just blend with some water and there you go – you have a raw food breakfast, lunch, or even a snack!  Check out our smoothie collection for some simple more ‘RAWsome’ recipes!

2. Keep Snacks Simple

Raw food snacks are as simple as things like baby carrots, bananas, apples, oranges, some fresh berries, a handful of raw almonds, or even some dried raisins and cashews. Emphasize fruits and veggies over heavy fats like nuts and seeds for snacks, however. Nuts and seeds are healthy, but very easy to overeat if you’ve just got the munchies. Keep things simple instead of feeling the need to make your own raw food snacks with tons of ingredients. While those are healthy and tasty, they’re not necessary to eat healthfully on a raw food diet.

3. Soak Whole Grains

If you need more sustenance on a raw food diet other than fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, try incorporating some soaked grains into your meals. Just soak either raw oats, quinoa, amaranth, millet, or another grain of your choice overnight in some water or non-dairy milk and eat like a porridge the next morning. You can add fruit, flax seeds, chia seeds, or whatever other toppings you enjoy. Soaked, whole grains are one of the best foods to boost your mood on a plant-based diet. If you don’t tolerate them well, root veggies make an awesome, inexpensive replacement.

4. Learn to Make an Awesome Salad

We also suggest learning to make one killer salad – and not one of those puny chef salads or pre-made options at the store. We’re talking an awesomely hearty vegan salad you can make right at home in just minutes. Raw food salads should provide a bulk of nutrition since they serve as a meal and not an appetizer. We suggest some of the following ingredients, which are all inexpensive and will last a while in the fridge.

  • shredded organic kale (comes in easy large bags you can buy at the store)
  • heads of organic romaine lettuce (these will keep for a couple weeks if you wrap them in damp towels and keep in the crisper)
  • avocado slices (provides healthful fats and protein but be sure to eat them when they’re ripe so they’ll digest easier)
  • carrots (You can shred these in just seconds in a mini food processor to top your salads with.)
  • almond slices (provides a dense texture)
  • hemp seeds (provides protein and omega fats along with a satisfying texture)
  • chopped celery (You can also dice this to use in your salads.)
  • grape tomatoes (lasts much longer than whole tomatoes and have an awesomely sweet flavor)
  • an awesome vegan salad dressing (Learn to make one with just 5 ingredients here and check out these simple 5 vegan salad dressings to choose from.)

Salads are a great go-to for meal and if you’re not 100% raw, feel free to add some shelled edamame, some cooked quinoa or millet, or even some hummus and/or salsa. Artichokes hearts, lentils, and black beans also make excellent salad toppers, even though they may not be 100% raw. Check out these other 5 awesome ingredients that make one rockin’ RAWsome salad!

4. Green Juices

I know what you’re thinking – green juices are timely to consume, the clean up is a messy process, and juicing isn’t really worth it in the long run. Sound familiar? I used to think the same thing until I learned how beneficial juicing really is, how much better it made me feel, and how it helped with unhealthful cravings during the day. Here are some tips to make the juicing process less messy, expensive, and time-consuming:

  •  Buy a basic, high quality juicer instead of a high-tech fancy model. While those may be “better” according to experts, a basic model will do just fine and is much easier to clean. Besides, Joe Cross from Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and Reboot With Joe started his juicing movement with a basic model. What better proof could you want to see that you don’t need a high tech machine to get great results!?
  • Buy veggies that are long-lasting such as shredded kale (which lasts a bit longer than whole kale), carrots, ginger root, lemons, romaine lettuce, green apples, zucchini, and cucumbers. These are easy to use since most can go right into the juicer without a bit of cutting whatsoever. They also don’t spoil quickly and are lower-priced than fancy greens and other fruits.
  • Make a huge batch and put it in mason jars to drink throughout the day. Kris Carr is a huge proponent of doing this and I also love the idea as well. If you make a huge batch in the morning, you’ll have enough for three servings throughout the day and won’t need to clean up multiple times. You can drink your green juice as snacks and in between meals to flood your body with nutrients it craves.
  • Be sure to follow some other simple tips for affordable juicing so you can make the most out of all your juices.

5. Learn to Love Your Farmer’s Market

When shopping for raw ingredients, there’s no need to visit pricey stores if you don’t want to. Simply head to your farmer’s market or local produce stand where you’re sure to find plenty of raw food goodies. Even common supermarkets like Walmart now carry organic produce that I even buy myself. Learn to shop for raw, organic foods inexpensively and you’ll save a large amount of time and money doing just that.

If you want to learn about more about how to eat raw foods, check out our RAWsome vegan living section where we have tips, tricks, and tons of great recipe ideas to share and see all the benefits one of our own One Green Planet experts has experienced on a raw food, vegan diet.

Image source: Raw Vegan Goji Snack Chunks