The other evening I had the pleasure of being invited along to a talk on raw food and always keen to try new things I couldn’t wait to discover more about this increasingly popular lifestyle choice.
The event was hosted by Elaine Vaughan, an experienced Healthful Eating Educator, Wellness Coach and Yoga Teacher, and we were joined by other wellbeing experts who were keen to extend their knowledge and to talk with like minded people. It promised to be an interesting and educational evening and, judging by the colourful array of food in the room, a tasty one too!
What I immediately like about Elaine is that she’s not a food Nazi. By that I mean that although she believes in eating healthily, she certainly isn’t someone who will tell you that you can’t eat something. She believes that what we eat must be a lifestyle choice of everything in moderation and it’s not so much denying yourself, but more about making the right choices.
We all know that the food we put into our bodies affects not just our physical state; appearance, energy levels etc., but also our psychological state; moods, emotions etc.
It’s a simple equation of:
Put the best fuel in = Get the best results out.
Yet, whilst many of us know this is true, we often don’t stick to it! Excuses might range from…
“I can’t afford to eat healthily”
“I haven’t got time to be making everything from scratch”
“I’m not eating rabbit food!”
They are all just excuses, barriers if you like, that we put in front of ourselves to cover up the fact that this eating lark can be incredibly difficult to master, particularly if you’ve formed a few bad habits.
Talking of habits, here’s a fact for you:
It takes 21 days to break a habit and a further 21 days to form a new one.
So, if you think back for example to when you last went on a diet, and remember how the first few days of not eating biscuits can seem fairly easy, but then by day 5 you’ve turned into an angry, biscuit craving monster, it’s clear how much habits have to answer for.
Trying to form new habits, such as healthy eating, whilst also trying to break bad ones is all too often the very reasons we fail. Habits should be tackled one at a time, allowing us to focus solely on achieving that one particular goal. Start positively by forming one new habit, for example eating 5 fruits or vegetables a day, and only when you have managed to do this for 21 days, thus forming a good habit, should you then think about breaking a bad one.
If you are someone who feels hungry all of the time and you blame this constant appetite for not being able to lose weight, then you need to start taking stock of what it actually is you are eating. Our bodies are very clever things; if they are not given what they need they send out messages asking for those things.
Now, here’s where most of us go wrong…we haven’t learnt how to translate what our body is trying to say to us.
Basically, the body craves what it is lacking, however many of us translate this as hunger and more often than not we try to satiate this hunger with the complete opposite of what the body needs. This will usually be in the form of quick energy releasing, sugary snacks that are as equally quick to send your energy levels crashing down.
Start by keeping a food diary that logs everything you eat and record the time at which you eat it as well as how you feel both before and after eating. Over the course of a week you will start to notice a pattern of when you are most hungry, how certain foods affect your moods and why it is you are reaching for particular foods at particular times, for example are you eating because you are bored/stressed/tired/rewarding yourself?
We should all try and eat a bit more mindfully and if this is something you think you need to work on it would be worth you having a read of our recent article ‘From Mindless to Mindful Eating in 4 Steps!‘ from mindfulness expert Natasha Brittan.
Ideally we should be aiming to eat at least 30 different fruits and vegetables within a week and if these are consumed raw even better, as this allows the optimum level of nutrients to be absorbed by the body. Every different coloured fruit and vegetable provides us with a different nutrient, so if you can look down at your plate and see a whole spectrum of colour then you know you’ve done well.
During Elaine’s talk, she invited us to try some of the delicious and nutritious raw food recipes that she had prepared for us – take a look at her amazing creations below:
With it’s vibrant, deep purple colour, Elaine’s version of pesto is certain to liven up the dinner table. It looks and smells amazing and as for the taste…wow! The sweetness of the beetroot combines beautifully with the other ingredients and it would work just as well as a pesto sauce stirred into courgetti or any other vegetable based spaghetti, as it would as a dip for crudités in the same way you would eat hummus. Although not 100% raw, I can imagine this tasting absolutely stunning spread over some bruschetta and topped with creamy goats cheese, which for me sounds like the perfect summer starter.
The nutritional benefits of drinking juice, in particular green juice, are phenomenal. Juices are a fantastic way of getting a vast quantity and variation of different vitamins into the body in a very quick, easy and achievable way. How you extract your juice is entirely up to you, but there are various different kitchen gadgets that can do the job for you. Masticating juicers, although more expensive, will get the most juice out of the fruit/vegetable and are a lot easier to clean. However, some of the newer devices such as the Nutribullet or the Vitamix are arguably more convenient, are certainly cheaper and allow you to retain fibre.
Elaine’s green juice contains fresh apple juice, mint, parsley, spinach, blue green algae and powdered wheatgrass. She mentioned that she had watered it down quite a lot as it isn’t necessarily to everyone’s taste and the powdered wheatgrass can often put people off. I personally found it really refreshing and OK yes there was a powdery aftertaste that I presume was down to the wheatgrass, but on the whole I enjoyed it and certainly enough to go back for seconds!
Blue green algae are 70% vegetable protein and have higher levels of beta-carotene than broccoli. Spirulina is a type of blue green algae and although it is quite expensive to buy, you only need a small amount to reap the health benefits of what is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Kale is also a fantastic ingredient to sneak into juice, as not everyone enjoys eating it raw. You must however remember to start with small quantities of kale and slowly build up because it can be quite hard on the digestive system and may cause bloating, wind or other pains, particularly if you suffer from IBS.
Top Juice Tip: Drink your juice through a straw as this prevents it coming into too much contact with your teeth – the acid from certain fruits can damage the protective enamel over time. And always wait for 20 minutes after drinking any type of juice before brushing your teeth to help prevent further damage to the enamel.
Just look at them; how amazing do they look?! And believe me when I say that they tasted just as good, if not better, than they look.
These raw, veggie nori rolls were an absolute revelation to me. Sushi is of course very healthy and mostly raw anyway, but Elaine’s version was 100% raw and as healthy as you could possibly get. Ingredients included: nori, alfalfa sprouts, cauliflower rice, avocado, walnuts and was served with a salty tamarind sauce.
Sprouting seeds, like alfalfa, are amazing as they are still essentially living. This means that they are able to provide us with optimum energy. Combine this with the healthy cholesterol lowering fats of avocado, the antioxidant properties of the walnuts and the high protein, iron and dietary fibre from the nori and you have a superfood party right there!
Elaine’s nori rolls not only look professional, but she also assures me that they are very easy to make. I think they would be great served at a dinner party or, if made slightly smaller, as canapés. In fact, I reckon even those hard to please guests who turn their noses up at anything remotely vegetable based would be hard pushed not to like these little beauties!
Raw Chocolate Treats
These might look like your everyday chocolate truffle but oh no, this is healthy chocolate. What’s not to like?! Using ingredients such as, raw chocolate, goji berries, raw butter, coconut, agave syrup and sesame seeds to name but a few, Elaine has created these chocolatey treats as a healthy alternative for anyone who has a bit of a sweet tooth. The coconut covered truffles are smooth, sweet and moreish, whereas the cocoa covered variety, which interestingly also contains a bit of coffee, has a deeper, more intense flavour and a texture very similar to that of biscuit dough. Both are amazing and I will definitely be trying to recreate these at home. And I can’t even begin to tell you how good Elaine’s Raw Rocky Road was!
I shall leave you with some wise words from Hippocrates and the promise that we will hear more from Elaine Vaughan very soon!