Almost Raw Vegan Food Groups ~ An Almost Raw Vegan (ARV) diet follows the same principles as a raw vegan approach to eating, the only difference is an Almost Raw Vegan will also enjoy some cooked foods 🙂
One of the main philosophies here at Almost Raw Vegan is we are “Almost”, it’s not about being 100%, it’s not about adhering strictly to any one approach. Instead it’s about listening to your body and doing what feels right for you. We are all different, and it’s important to tap into what works best for your body and being flexible and adaptable while still enjoying a healthy plant-based diet & lifestyle.
Almost Raw Vegan (ARV) Food Pyramid
The Almost Raw Vegan approach includes a strong foundation of dark leafy greens with lots of fresh vegetables, some fruits, topped with protein rich sprouts and legumes, a few nuts & seeds including flaxseed & hempseed, followed by herbs, microgreens, sea vegetables, wheatgrass and finally a dabble of healthy oils and nutritional yeast.
Almost Raw Vegan’ers thrive on a foundation of lots of RAW leafy greans, fruits & vegetables plus SOME cooked foods – I recommend a ratio of approximately 80% raw and 20% cooked. Check out my article on Why Eat “Almost Raw” for insight on why including high proportion of raw greens, veggies & fruits is important for your health & wellness. You may also enjoy my article about Buying Fruits & Vegetables. which includes a handy-dandy organic produce reference Dirty Dozen ~ Clean 15. A super helpful guide you on when to buy organic fruits & vegetables.
Greens are essential to an Almost Raw Vegan diet. 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 VERY Good!! 😉
You can pretty much eat any vegetable raw (or I can :-)) – some of our regulars include cucumber, celery, beets, zuchini, broccoli, cauliflower, avocados and tomatoes (hmm, although technically both fruits), bell peppers, asparagus, brussel sprouts, green beans and carrots.
Loaded with vitamins and good carbohydrates to fuel your body, there are tons of fruits to choose from. We prefer the low glycemic fruits like apples, pears, berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc.) and citrus (lemons, limes and oranges). I also love bananas, mangos and dried friuts, including apricots, cranberries – but we tend to use these higher sugar fruits much less frequently – for 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 means that sulphites have been added to preserve the colour!
Sprouts & Legumes
Sprouts are seeds/legumes that have started to grow, they are “living” and during this early stage of growth when they “sprout”, they have TONS more nutrients then they do in their dormant state – enjoying sprouts every day is super way to boost your daily nutrients.
You can sprout seeds and legumes yourself, it’s VERY cheap and VERY easy to make at home. Check out my article How to Make Sprouts in 4 Easy Steps.
Some of my favourite sprouts include alfalfa, sunflower, broccoli, lentil and chickpea. To make sprouts you must always start with raw uncooked seeds and legumes.
For cooked legumes that I use in my stir-frys, chili & caseroles, I like chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans the most – 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 plus the cans are EBP free. If you buy canned, always rinse very well before using canned the legumes.
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. Both nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and essential minerals. Some of my favourites nuts include cashews, almonds, pine nuts and macadamia nuts. My favourite seeds are pumpkin, sunflower, sesame seeds, hemp, flax and chia seeds. For all nuts and seeds it’s best to buy “raw” as they are easier to digest. Oh, and I absolutely love raw almond butter. If you are buying nut butters make sure the only ingredient it nuts, and it’s best if nuts are “raw” vs. roasted. You can also make nut butters very easily in your Blendtec Twister Jar or Cuisinart. To further aid digestion make sure you soak the nuts & seeds before eating.
Why Soak Nuts & Seeds?
Nuts & seeds have enzyme inhibitors, so before you eat or start to sprout them you need to first remove the enzyme inhibitor. 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 (for example) a 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 nuts/seeds before you eat them (and rinse well), removes the enzyme inhibitor which decreasing the acidity, the bitterness and makes it much easier to digest. Once soaked this also starts the growth process and soaking is also the first step to making sprouts.
The grains I use most are quinoa, buckwheat (both gluten free), wild & brown rice and oats. We do have pasta occasionally, but lately we have been really limiting (if not eliminating) any wheat based grains (and we feel like a million bucks when we eliminate wheat AND we always seem to drop a few pounds in the process – so our bodies really do feel better without).
I love fresh herbs and find they always add amazing flavour to our meals. I especially love basil, cilantro, parsley and chives. Cilantro & parsley are also super cleansing and I use them regularly in my green smoothies.
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 my Raw Vegan Sushi Rolls and kelp noodles.
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.
There are so many natural sweeteners that are wonderful – my favourites are medjool dates. I also occasionally use maple syrup and agave nectar. Banana’s are also perfect sweetner in smoothies & ice creams!
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 [try this Herbed Cashew Cheese Spread Mmmm, it’s sooo good!]
- 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).
Stock Your Pantry
There are a few other key ingredients that I use regularly ~ 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), wheatgrass (I buy it frozen and use 1 or 2 cubes in smoothies), cacao (many of my sweets include cacao, as well as one of the smoothies). We also use only a very small amount of soy, our only soy sources are miso and Bragg’s Liquid Soy – in my mind soy is processed, plus most if it is genetically modified, as well our bodies are not built to consume high amounts of soy (i.e. many use it as a meat/protein substitute), I believe it’s best to only consume soy as a condiment.
You can get the complete list of these and other foods that I have stocked in my Almost Raw Vegan pantry, check out my Stock Your Pantry Guide. It’s a handy reference to guide you as you decide what to stock in your kitchen cupboards.