Chef and writer Anita McKenzie gives us the lowdown on the raw food diet.
Do you dare to go raw? Hollywood star Woody Harrelson and ageless rock god Lenny Kravitz do. And they’re not alone. The raw food diet is gaining a lot more attention from celebrities and everyday folk alike. The diet consists of uncooked, unprocessed, mostly organic food . Staples are raw fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. Diet is important for all of us - especially the vulnerable and their carers. So is the raw food diet right for you and your loved one?
There are very few large scale studies to go by and traditional medical opinion tends to be divided. But Anita McKenzie -aka Sistah in the Raw- has few doubts. She’s a raw food chef, coach and influencer.
“When you cook food ,you lose a lot of the natural nutrients that are in it” she says. “Raw food is a lifelong path towards getting the right amounts and combinations of micronutrients which can support your immune system and the prevention of chronic disease“. So what does a raw food diet look like on a daily basis? “It means eating lots of raw vegetables in particular and fruit as well as some sprouting grains, “ she explains.” It’s a nutrient dense diet, which nourishes you on a cellular level - particularly the cells of your organs.”
DON'T "FOOD SHAME"
But how do you persuade people raised on a traditional diet- especially our elderly loved ones - to ditch all that delicious bacon, chicken and pork?
“People don’t like to be judged [for] what they’re eating,” she explains.” It’s about telling them about the benefits of a healthy diet.” Going “ cold turkey” is not advisable, Anita insists. Gradually phasing in raw food is likely to be much more successful.
“Replacing processed foods is one way to start “ she says.” Another thing you could do is add more raw vegetables every day. Make sure any raw food meal you’re proposing is hearty, filling and delicious. ”
She also advises using raw ingredients that are already firm favourites.
“Choose a favourite plant-based ingredient and make it sexy by adding one new ingredient that you have not tried before...for instance seaweed, or make a dish with an ingredient you are familiar with, like a marinated mango.”
But there’s no point trying to guilt yourself or your loved one into going raw.
“ It needs not to be punishing for people . It should be pleasurable otherwise it’s not sustainable. It’s really important not to take choices away from[our elders] because it’s really disempowering. “
But can a raw food diet satisfy all our nutritional requirements - especially in vulnerable people?
Anita says it is possible - but you MUST get expert advice first because it can be so easy to fall short of what the body needs. You’ve also got to be careful to monitor food intake.
“You must eat a varied diet across the range making sure you get all the nutrients you need from a wide range of sources - whether it’s leafy greens, a mango, seaweed , sprouting sunflower seeds. Healthy ageing and healthy eating are completely linked. Age is no barrier to healthy eating.”
If you’re tempted to explore further, go to sistahintheraw.com
In the meantime, here’s a recipe Anita thinks might pique your interest!
Spicy Mango Salad
2 large mangoes firm & ripe, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 kohlrabi (or 2 cucumbers) peeled and chopped into cubes
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 large handfuls spinach, roughly torn
1⁄2 cup coriander, chopped
1⁄2 cup sunflower (or sesame) seeds, optional
1⁄2 teaspoon chili flakes (or 1-1⁄2 fresh red chili)
1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
Thin strips carrot to garnish (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons cold pressed olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
Pinch of (healthy) salt
Peel and cut the mangoes into cubes. Peel and cut kohlrabi or cucumbers
into cubes or slices. Then thinly slice the onion. Place in a medium sized
bowl. Add chopped mangoes, kohlrabi or cucumbers, cranberries and
onion, chili, olive oil, salt, lime and orange juice. Mix well. Serve on a bed
of torn spinach, then garnish with cilantro and sunflower or sesame seeds.
Serve immediately or chill first.
Health Care Disclaimer: The information contained here does not replace personal medical advice from health specialists. If you have health concerns, please consult your chosen healthcare professional.