Now that I’ve got your attention. . . we all know I’m not talking about a desire to peel off layers of clothing in the sweltering summer heat, right? But summer encourages a different kind of “in the raw,” one that involves the foods we eat.
This time of year, local markets offer up an abundance of brightly colored raw fruits and vegetables, many of which aren’t available at any other time. More importantly, raw foods provide a great boost to your health and should frequently be your first choice during warmer weather (or any time)!
Why Eat More Raw?
- Raw foods help you digest meals more effectively. According to raw (also called “living”) foods advocates, raw food is easier on the digestive system than its cooked counterpart. That’s because in order to break down the carbs, proteins and fats in our meals, our bodies excrete enzymes at different points along the digestive tract, from saliva in our mouths to pancreatic enzymes. A typical person eating cooked foods produces up to 7 liters (!) of digestive enzymes in a day. Raw foods, however, already contain many of those same enzymes (which can be destroyed by cooking). According to some sources, bodies of those on a raw foods diet produce up to 75% fewer enzymes than those eating cooked foods–thereby saving energy for other tasks, such as strengthening the immune system, repairing cells, or just running more efficiently.
- Raw foods are incredibly convenient. In the same amount of time it takes to chop up veggies for a soup, you’ve already got a whole raw meal prepared! In a pinch, just grab a whole apple, carrot, celery stick, cabbage leaf, banana, pear, etc.—and bite. Instant food!
- Because you don’t expose them to heat (through cooking), raw foods retain more vitamins (which are often lost with heating).
- With few exceptions (such as avocados), raw fruits and vegetables, on their own, are virtually fat–free.
- They’ll save you from heating up the house in summer.
Ready for Raw?
To incorporate more raw foods into your diet, try these ideas:
- Salad, salad, salad! Even unconventional mixtures of raw veggies and fruit can still be called a “salad,” so why not experiment?
- Top off a cooked meal with something raw. Instead of cheese, why not top that pasta with finely shredded beets, corn kernels, or finely shredded napa cabbage? Add a handful to your nachos right after you pop them out of the oven, or top a steaming bowl of soup.
- Soups. Many delicious summer soups won’t heat up the stove—and require only a blender or good chopping knife! Try gazpacho or classic Chilled Almond Soup; or get a little daring and opt for Chilled Coconut Red Pepper Soup. And don’t forget that there are fruit-based soups, too!
- Smoothies. A classic breakfast treat can be made even more healthy by adding some leafy greens. If you haven’t tried green smoothies, summer is a perfect time. And it’s so easy to hide raw veggies inside.