Raw foods (prepared at 120°F or below) are an incredible way to introduce enzymes into your diet. Preparing them with certain techniques can dramatically increase the bioavailability of necessary micronutrients.
Sanitation is critical for raw food preparation as there isn’t any cooking (high heat) involved to kill bacteria. Consider washing your foods with food grade hydrogen peroxide or vinegar with a mix of food grade essential oils.
Certain populations shouldn’t consume too many raw foods if they lack the necessary enzymes to break down these potent foods: specifically the elderly who lack “digestive fire” and those with low HCL (stomach acid) or issues with malabsorption and motility. Using bitters can help to stimulate the production of stomach acid and foods like aloe vera, pineapple, chia seeds, sauerkraut and Icelandic moss can help to support healthy digestion.
On the other hand, if you feel sluggish and hold too much heat in your body, introducing an abundance of cold, raw foods is ideal for obtaining balance. Certain ways of eating aren’t for everyone, and identifying your personal food code is the best way to cultivate long-lasting health.
Soaking nuts and seeds can eliminate most of the phytic acid that causes digestive stress. Phytic acid inhibits necessary enzymes like pepsin (to break down proteins in the stomach) and amylase (needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar).
I commonly soak nuts and seeds before blending them into milks. Recommended soaking times are dependent on nut and seed composition.
- Cashews: soak for 2 hours
- Almonds: soak overnight or for 8 hours
- Walnuts: soak for 4 hours
- Hemp seeds: Soaking is unnecessary. These seeds can be immediately blended with water in a high-powered blender to produce a frothy seed milk that doesn’t need to be strained.
- Pumpkin seeds: soak overnight or for 8 hours
- Sunflower seeds: soak overnight or for 8 hours
- Macadamia nuts: Soaking is unnecessary.
- Pecans: soak overnight or for 8 hours
- Sesame seeds: soak overnight or for 8 hours
For nut milk recipes, consult: https://alyssadougherty.com/nut-milk/
Sprouting increases the bioavailability of enzymes, vitamins and minerals locked inside, and makes them easier to digest. If properly prepared, one cup of sprouts can provide the same nutrient density (micronutrient/enzymatic) as 10 pounds of produce. They are economical as they increase in size by up to 600% and cost less than a dollar a day.
If you’re new to growing sprouts, consider using a SproutEase “Jar Seed Sprouter” that provides simple steps and necessary growing caps. Rinse your growing sprouts 1-2 times a day to ensure no bacterial overgrowth. Place the jar in the sunlight to turn them into microgreens.
Fat is an essential part of a raw foods diet, not only to add richness to these vibrant dishes, but also to balance the sour or acidic notes of certain fruits and vegetables.
From a nutritional standpoint, fat is a critical component of any diet to help the body assimilate vitamins A, D, E, and K (known as ‘fat soluble’ vitamins). Incorporate healthy fats such as olive, avocado, coconut and flax oil: they fuel your body and brain, and are found in the structure of every cell as the phospholipid bilayer.