Starting on a raw food diet can seem daunting at first, especially if you don’t do your homework and simply believe all the hype you hear. A few of the biggest hurdles I hear people have difficulty overcoming are the following:
- I don’t have enough TIME
- I am scared I won’t get all the nutrients I need from a raw food diet
- I can’t afford it!
In my raw food culinary workshops, I work hard to teach people that all three of those myths are just that – untruths. Much of the recipes I create and share with my students require minimal time, no special equipment, and few fancy ingredients. Many are as simple as a great combination of nutrient dense plant food items tossed into a food processor, and that’s it! Easy on the clock, super fuel for the body, and light on the pocketbook.
For many of us, that last point really is key. The issue of money in/money out can be a deciding factor for many when it comes to making choices at the grocery store and in the kitchen. But going raw (even for one of two meals a day) does not have to break the bank! Here, a few tips I share with many raw food newbies I meet:
1. If you are going to invest in one appliance, make it a food processor. With this one simple appliance you can create dips, sauces, nut butters, desserts, and more. If you are looking to get serious about raw living, the second item I would recommend is a sturdy blender. There are plenty on the market for under $50, and if you want to go really high-end, I can not gush enough about the Blendtec brand, my personal fave in the kitchen!
2. Batch cook! Each week, plan to prepare a couple of dips and maybe a theme for your raw meals. You can prep a big bowl of sprouted chickpea hummus for example, sprouting at home, for pennies! Add in a bit of fresh garlic, lemon, and a touch of tahini and you have a great source of protein that works well as a dip, sandwich spread, or salad dressing. Same idea goes for buying fruits and vegetables in bulk when they are on special/in season. Lots of zucchini on hand? Make some into noodles, puree some into soup, and slice some into dippers for your crudités plate! Loads of peppers? Slice, dice, freeze, and even add some into your morning smoothies. One of my go-to batch recipes is my savoury no-meat-meat dish. High in filling protein and satisfying flavors, this is a show stopper at all my classes, and it works well atop raw zucchini pasta, as a taco filler, or crumbled over salads. Check out the recipe below and make it this week!
3. Make your own nut milk. Yeah, you heard me. Buying cartons of almond or coconut milks are a great transitional choice, but most are not raw (pasteurization is cooking!) and many also contain icky additives like carrageenan that we just don’t need to be consuming. You can quickly and easily whirl up a batch of almond milk at home for the price of a cup of nuts and some fresh H2O. Add in some raw cacao and sweetener of choice, and you’ve got chocolate milk!
4. Substitute where you can. I like to think of my raw food recipes merely as guides. Often times, you can easily sub one ingredient for another, with minimal effect on taste, allowing you to use what you may have on hand instead of buying new. This also allows for savvy shopping; a recipe that calls for macadamia nuts of pignolis is going to hit you hard at the bank, but swapping in almonds or sunflower seeds where possible can save you a ton of dough.
5. Lastly, don’t try to do it all! I know many people that in their excitement to get healthy, have dropped a ton of money on every tool, super food, recipe book and appliance with the best of intentions, only to feel overwhelmed and give up before they start. Plan to incorporate one or two new living food techniques per week, or maybe aim to eat raw for breakfast and lunch in the beginning.
Savory RAW No-Meat Meatballs
- 1 C raw sunflower seeds
- ½ C + 1 T raw almond butter
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and chopped
- 3 T fresh basil, shredded
- 1 T nutritional yeast
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 t dried thyme
- 1 t dried oregano
- 1 t olive oil
- Pinch cumin
- sea salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until the mixture reaches a texture similar to ground meat.
- Scoop the mixture out by into heaping teaspoons and form each meatball. Try not to over-roll them; we are going for “rustic” Italian here!
- This mix can be served as balls over raw zucchini pasta as seen here, but it can also be a great vegetarian stand-in for any recipe you’d use ground meat. Try it as a taco or sandwich filling, a base for a raw chilli, or as a crunchy topping for salad or soup! This protein-packed flavor blend pairs well with marinara sauce, cashew sour cream or pesto!
Photo credit: Meghan Pearson, MAP Wellness