I've reached the year mark of eating a high raw diet. I use the term high raw for the 1% of the time when I have decided to eat a bit of cooked vegan for when there has been a special occasion (a wedding, a co-worker bringing in a home-cooked vegan treat, or getting a Thai curry in cases of extreme fatigue). While I feel raw food is best for my physical health, I do take these periodic breaks for my emotional and mental health. I am happy with my diet in how it tastes and in terms of my improving health. Over the past year of eating this way I have made a lot of mistakes. I am still making mistakes today, but I make a point to learn from these.
Keep your vision clear. Do not be swayed by fads and trends. Do not succumb to what is convenient or readily available. Even though we have three meals a day and they all seem to be a blur, separate each of these and ask, "What is best for me?"
Here is a list I came up with of some mistakes I have learned from over the past year. I hope they are helpful to you during your journey towards self-improvement!
1. Wasting food. Juicing is great, but you know what doesn't feel great? Throwing tons of leftover vegetable pulp in the trash. Separate your fruits and vegetables when you juice, and save the pulps for future recipes. Apple and carrot pulp make great crackers. Green pulp makes a great pesto or soup base. Nut pulps make a great cheeses.
2. Trying to make raw food exactly like cooked food. Sure, with 48 hours of soaking time, 24 hours worth of dehydrating time, and countless ingredients you can make something that resembles a raw vegan bacon double cheeseburger, but you know what? That salad you made the other day with that simple yet amazing dressing actually tastes better. Go figure.
3. Not eating ripe fruits. The number one fruit which constantly goes eaten when unripe is bananas. Everyone seems to love their green bananas, maybe because they think those brown spots mean they are rotting. The truth is those brown spots mean they are READY. Not only are ripe bananas better for you, but they will make your smoothies creamier and your treats less starchy.
4. Buying oily dried fruits. This one really gets me mad. Here you are trying to get healthy, buying some dried fruit to blend into healthy raw treats, but you forgot to read the label. Why would you need to read the label? It is just dried fruit. But the average raisin is coated in canola oil, sun-dried tomatoes can have sulfites, and dried cherries can have added sugar. Aren't bad oils, sulfites, and sugar what you are trying to avoid with this whole process? No worries, this is an easy fix. Just read your labels, even when you assume it is just fruit.
5. Overdoing the nuts. Firstly, the majority of nuts are not raw. Cashews are hardly ever truly raw. All almonds from the United States have been pasteurized, due to regulations. The term "raw" is not held to the same standardization that the term "organic" is. So even if the nuts claim to be raw, chances are they are not. I am not trying to be a downer here, but these are the facts. If it is essential that you have 100% guaranteed raw nuts I would recommend purchasing them online for a specifically raw supplier. In any case your nut intake should be limited. If you are trying to recreate meats and baked goods all the time, you may be going heavy on the nuts. Try thinking of what else you may use instead, such as seeds, sprouted legumes, vegetables, or fruit. Mix it up.
6. Relying too much on prepackaged raw foods. It says it is raw on the box, therefore it must be good! Right? Prepackaged raw foods should be viewed as treats, not as something to really on constantly for sustenance. For one thing, packaged raw foods are expensive. You could easily go broke spending $15 on a raw truffle 3-pack. Secondly, most of those raw treats are heavy on nuts, oils, and sweeteners. While they are a more healthy alternative, they should still be viewed as treats.
7. Okra. I used to love deep-fried okra. I used to love gumbos. But okra contains mucilage which, in most simple terms, is slime. Cooking can reduce the slime, but there isn't much you can do with it raw. If you don't believe me just ask my husband about the Snot Soup Disaster of 2014. Yikes.
8. Not making your own milks. So you have given up dairy. Congrats! The stores are stocked with a million options for people who don't consume dairy. But most of those nut milks are packed with preservatives and additives. Making your own milk is easy! All you need is a nut milk bag, a blender, and a glass bottle. Keep the ratio 1 cup nuts to 4 cups of water. Blend, strain, and you are done! Not only is there no junk in there, but you haven't wasted all that lovely pulp! Feel free to get creative with your blends. My favorites are hemp, coconut (use the flakes), and almond.
9. Forgetting the magic of fruit. Nature was pretty kind to us. Fruit is just healthy fast food! Most fruit is pretty convenient to eat and the healthiest choice you can make! Don't over-think things, just grab an apple! Or 10!
10. Giving up. You tried going raw and something went wrong, so it obviously isn't the right diet for you. Or is something in your diet not right for you? Maybe going 100% raw isn't your style, but surely your health would benefit from incorporating more raw foods into your diet? Maybe your dehydrated pizza was gross, but that doesn't mean you should order that new Pizza Hut atrocity with the mini pigs-in-a-blanket crust. (Don't even get me started on the nasty...) Instead think about how you can conjure up the pizza flavors with a few key ingredients like tomatoes, oregano, and basil, and build a new recipe using that inspiration! Also, don't be afraid to eliminate ingredients that don't agree with you. As much as I enjoy the taste of garlic, my bowels don't seem to enjoy it. Making adjustments for what will benefit your body is the heart of the raw food movement. Take ownership of your own well-being. You deserve to be healthy!