Even though I am not totally “raw” vegan, I do follow many of the principles and eat the same food groups as raw vegans – the only difference is I cook some of the foods :-)
Included below is a summary of the main food groups I incorporate into my diet. OH and you’ll also want to read more about Why Eating More Raw Foods is beneficial and learn more about Buying Fruits & Vegetables!
There is a great visual of Raw Food Group Pyramid shown here and is available at Vegan-Raw-Diet.com. They also have a Vegan Food Pyramid, but their Vegan Food Pyramid doesn’talign with how I eat, my Almost Raw Vegan Food Groups are very much aligned with what you see here.
Leafy Greens: Greens are essential to my diet and they are chocked full of nutrients, a great source of protein, include tons of essential minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium. Some of my favourites include kale, spinach, Swiss chard, romaine and bok choy. And remember the leafy greens are all about chlorophyll. And the consumption of chlorophyll can increase energy levels, aid in digestion, support immune function & help in fighting major lifestyle diseases. In other words: Chlorophyll VERY Good!!
Vegetables: You can pretty much eat any vegetable raw (or I can ) – some of our regulars include cucumber, celery, beets, zuchini, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes (hmm, technically a fruit), bell peppers, asparagus, brussel sprouts and carrots.
Fruits: Loaded with vitamins and good carbohydrates to fuel your body, there are tons of fruits to choose from. We love apples, oranges, lemons, all berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc.), bananas, mangos, also dried fruits including apricots, cranberries – although with dried fruits make sure you choose those “dark” in colour – if the dried fruit is a bright colour (i.e. bright orange dried apricots) this usually means that sulphites have been added!!
Sprouts & Legumes: Spouts are a powerhouse of nutrients and super easy to make at home. You can spout seeds and legumes. Some of my favourite spouts include alfalfa, sunflower, broccoli, quinoa, lentil and chickpea. For legumes we also like chickpeas, black beans – I normally buy canned, my favourite brand is Eden Organics as they have no added salt but use sea vegetables such as kombu seaweed instead of salt. I still rinse very well before using canned beans.
Grains: The grains I use most are quinoa, buckwheat (both gluten free), wild & brown rice and oats.
Nuts & Seeds: Nuts & seeds tend to be higher in fats so it’s important to limit the amounts you consume – the way I think of it is your body can only process so much fat – so proceed with care. Some of my favourites nuts include cashews, almonds, pine nuts and macadamia nuts. I absolutely love raw almond butter. Seeds are a great source of protein and essential minerals and also a great addition to your diet. I love pumpkin, sunflower, sesame seeds, hemp, flax and chia seeds. It’s best to by “raw” nuts & seeds are best (vs. roasted) as they are more easily digested, and to further aid digestion it’s best to soak nuts & seeds before eating. Why Soaking? Nuts & seeds have enzyme inhibitors – think of it this way, when a nut/seed falls from the plant it is designed to lay dormant, it’s the enzyme inhibitor that keeps the nut/seed dormant – but when I bird picks up the seed and/or moisture touches the seed/nut, the enzyme inhibitors are released so that the nut/seed is able to grow. Soaking removes the enzyme inhibitor which decreasing the acidity, the bitterness and makes it easier to digest.
Herbs: I love fresh herbs and find they always add amazing flavour to our meals. I especially love basil, cilantro, parsley and chives.
Sea Vegetables (Seaweed): Sea vegetables are full of nutrients, and have tons of minerals. Seaweed is rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and iodine. As well they contain vitamins A and C. Seaweed flakes are also a great substitute for salt. Dulse is the one I use most in salads and smoothies, but I also use raw nori for sushi rolls and kelp noodles.
Fats: Fats have been given a bad rap!! As with anything, moderation is the key and your body can only absorb and process so much fat. Some great sources include avocado, coconut, and some cold-pressed extra virgin oils like flaxseed, hemp seed, olive oils. I so also love sesame oil.
Sweeteners: There are so many natural sweeteners that are wonderful – my favourites are medjool dates, maple syrup and agave nectar.
Fermented Foods: Fermented foods help provide a healthy environment in the intestine by introducing healthy bacteria into the colon which contribute to better digestion, better absorption of nutrients and strengthen our immune system. The process of fermentation, breaks down complex proteins, fats and starches into their simpler components which makes the foods easier to digest and assimilate. Fermenting essentially takes soaking one step further to provide even more benefits. Fermented foods are in essence probiotics and are alkaline and very cleansing for the body. Some sources of fermented foods include:
- nut cheese
- nut yogurt
- raw sauerkraut
- nutritional yeast
- unpasteurized non-GMO miso paste (genetically modified organisms – most non-organic soy is genetically modified; also unpasteurized as the pasteurizing process destroys enzymes and reduces nutritional content).
Other Foods: A few other foods that I include in my diet include Nutritional Yeast – nutritional yeast is not the same as yeasts used in breads. It is an inactive yeast and it’s a great source for vitamin B12 and has a bit of a cheesy flavour and is a great substitute in recipes where you might use parmesan cheese. Other foods include, maca powder, blue-green algae (e3Live), bee pollen (great protein source and wonderful in smoothies), cacao (many of my sweets include cacao, as well as one of the smoothies). We also limit our soy consumption, our only soy sources are miso and Bragg’s Liquid Soy – in my mind soy is processed as well our bodies are not built to consume high amounts but instead it should be consumed as a condiment.