I discovered the world of eating raw on my first health and fitness holiday at a holistic detox treat in Thailand. Being sceptical, I never realised how good you could feel and how satisfied you could feel by eating such clean, fresh and varied raw food meals – The colours and flavour combinations blew me away!
I felt energised, light and my mood felt so lifted. Obviously there were other factors involved in me achieving this healthy feeling (exercise, sunshine and meditation) but the food was definitely a major influence.
After attending a few raw cooking classes and realising just how quick and easy it could be to prepare my own healthy snacks and meals, experimenting in the kitchen became my new hobby! I went out, purchased a food processor, a blender and even a dehydrator (more on this gadget later!) and I’d happily set aside a few hours at the weekend to practice and play around with recipes. I’d look for inspiration on the internet and sometimes put my own twist on it. If it turned out okay I’d enjoy testing out my new creations on friends and colleagues. (At the time I was a Primary school teacher in a large International school and my raw energy balls went down a treat in the staffroom) and the more people showed an interest in what I made, the more I realised that switching to a more raw lifestyle was suited to the masses!
It was just a new philosophy and approach which was needed from me to continue to develop and reach a wider population.
So what is this raw food philosophy all about?
Many of us haven’t tried it. A raw food diet is one that is plant-based and means eating food in it’s most natural state – no cooking and no processing involved.
In the raw food world, food is not heated above 46 degrees C (the belief being that heating food to above this temperature will destroy many of the beneficial enzymes and much of the nutritional value will be lost).
Eating more raw foods allows you to obtain a high level of nutrients in an easy-to-digest way and one that our bodies are naturally suited for.
The benefits of eating raw
Raw foodism is not new – it has been around since the 1800’s and research has shown good evidence that a raw food diet can help in:
– Giving you more energy
– Clearing up your skin
– Lowering inflammation
– Improving heart health and digestion
– Enhancing your liver function
– Helping you maintain a healthy body weight
– Preventing cancer or treating constipation
– Preventing nutrient deficiencies
– Lowering any carcinogens in your diet
What’s more, when you start following a high raw diet you are automatically cutting out several problem food groups – processed sugars, wheat and dairy – that are often linked to disease and food intolerances.
Do you need to be 100% raw to reap the benefits?
No way! Simply by increasing the amount of raw food in your daily diet is a brilliant start. You could begin simply by adding an abundance of raw, instead of cooked, vegetables to your normal meal and slowly increase the amount of raw ingredients into your meal prep. You can add snacks such as fresh fruit, nuts and seeds and smoothies into your diet too.
Raw food diets can include far more than just fresh produce. In addition to raw fruits and vegetables, you might consume sea vegetables, fermented foods, sprouted grains, nuts, seeds and superfood powders too.
One of the easiest ways to add a little raw goodness to your diet would be to swap your usual shop-bought, sugar-loaded snack bar for some super-easy-to- make and simply delicious ‘superfood energy balls’. These make great afternoon pick-me-ups, a pre or post workout snack or simply a healthy little accompaniment to your morning brew.
Here’s my guide to making the perfect batch of energy balls….
The options are endless when it comes to ingredients for these healthy power snacks. You can vary what you use depending on whether you want to create a pre or post workout or sugar-free or nut-free snack.
The general rule to make a batch of balls is to choose a nut and dried fruit base, add in a scoop of your chosen protein powder or carb for a snack, and then load up with additional superfoods of your choice.
Nuts & seeds you can use are almonds, walnuts, cashews, brazils, pecans, sunflower & pumpkin seeds
Dried fruits can be dates, figs or goji berries soaked and drained
Optional carb or protein additions can be gluten-free oats, milled flaxseed or plant-based protein powder
Coconut oil is used to help bind the ingredients and add some good, satiating fats
Superfood powders I recommend are raw cacao, spirulina and maca
Additional flavours and textures can be dried or fresh coconut, ginger, cinnamon, chilli, chilli seeds, bee pollen and culinary essences (like vanilla, mint and orange are great).
Ingredient quantities to make a batch of 15-20 balls:
1 and a half cups of nuts or seeds
1 scoop of protein or carb powder
2 or 3 cups of pitted fruit
2 tablespoons of superfood powders (use less if spirulina!)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Additional ingredients of your choice
If you prefer a sugar-free ball replace the fruit with a nut butter.
In a food processor, blend all your ingredients together until you have a firm but sticky mixture suitable to roll into balls.
Freeze for 1 hour and then refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
These energy balls use a variety of whole, non-processed foods and will provide a healthy dose of fibre, good fats, vitamins and minerals. They will provide a slow-release of energy rather than spike your blood sugars levels like a shop-brought chocolate or snack bar would.
About the author: Louella is from the UK but now lives in Thailand and runs the cooking school and the natural body care workshops at Phuket Cleanse.
You can find more of her recipes here Little Miss Raw on FaceBook or Littlemiss_raw on Instagram
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