A raw food diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and greens is an effective way to achieve and maintain great health. Focusing on raw foods offers the opportunity to enjoy a myriad of tasty colorful meals — not to mention fresh fruits and veggies are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and even water that will keep you feeling your best!
Thankfully there are tons of dehydrated recipes like carrot flax crackers or habanera kale chips, and fresh salad ideas like simple vegan BLTs or snap peas with herbed vinaigrette that make it easy to maintain a diet made up of uncooked foods.
But there are a few nutrients, such as vitamin B12, that can be tough to find in a raw food diet. The key to filling those nutritional holes is simply to include the right ingredients in into your meals. Here’s what you don’t want to overlook:
While calcium, iron, and chromium can be found in most fruits and vegetables, it is typically available in small amounts, which means you have to eat a lot of them each day to meet your minimum nutritional needs. But sea vegetation has an abundance of all 56 minerals that our bodies need for optimal health, making it easier to meet and even exceed your nutritional needs when you include them in your diet.
Adding just a little seaweed to your diet on a regular basis will help keep your nutrition intake up without the need for supplements. Not sure where to start? Try some of these easy-to-make options:
- Colorful Nori Wraps With Spicy Dipping Sauce
- Spring Rolls With Wakame and Avocado
- Chili Thai Kelp Noodles With Fresh Bright Veggies
You’ll find that when used correctly, sea vegetables don’t leave behind a strong seafood flavor. In fact, in small amounts, sea vegetables offer nothing more than a pleasant salty flavor.
Vitamin B12 is an essential part of the diet for all humans, but it’s pretty scarce in a plant based diet. You’ll find B12 in the soil that grows fruits and vegetables you like to eat, but who enjoys eating soil? Luckily, there is a better solution — nutritional yeast. Most brands of this special yeast are grown specifically to produce B vitamins, which include B12. This yeast is considered “primary-grown” and is cultivated for nutritional components, rather than being the by-product of another process. This type of yeast is typically grown on a mixture of cane and beet sugar, then fermented, harvested, washed, pasteurized, and dried at high temperatures.
Just one tablespoon of nutritional yeast provides all of the vitamin B12 an adult needs for the day. It has a bit of a cheesy flavor, so it’s easy to incorporate into salad dressings or pates. It can also be sprinkled over dishes like zucchini pasta or mixed into salads to make them creamy. It’s important to pay attention to the nutritional information on nutritional yeast before you purchase it, because not all varieties contain the vitamin B12 you need. Both Red Star and Braggs carry the right kind.
Selenium is another one of the those nutrients that can be hard to pin down in a plant based diet, but luckily, brazil nuts are up for the rescue! Just a couple of Brazil nuts are all it takes to get the daily recommended value. Selenium helps to block free radicals from forming in the body, and is also thought to reduce the risk of cancer. Brazil nuts are awesome in trail mix, and they can be blended into smoothies and soups to make them creamy. Of course, they’re so tasty on their own you can just pop them into your mouth as is!
You don’t have to include all of these ingredients in your diet at each meal, or even every day. But making sure that they’re available in the kitchen and making a point to include them regularly can go a long way in helping you maintain good health.
Image source: Vegan Feast Catering/Wikimedia