We all know nature makes raw food, but you can make gourmet raw foods that your family will love, that are highly nutritious and look and taste great. The foundation of making raw food is centered around the following four basics of raw food. You’ll need to have these 4 food items around to make raw food, sides, soups and desserts that not only look good, but also taste good.
All by itself, raw food is pretty nutritious and there are many recipes and recipe books out there as great resources. These next four ingredients help make them especially delicious. They are easy to acquire, relatively inexpensive and are naturally abundant in vitamins, minerals, and good fats. Learning how to use them together and in an appropriate ratio, to mimic cooked food flavors and textures is a big part of creating raw food. Here they are..
ACID First you want to make sure you have acid fruits around at all times. Whether you are making a marinade, dressing or simply making vegetable side dishes, the acid from lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit help add tartness and complement the natural flavors of leafy greens and root vegetables perfectly. Acid from the fruit is really essential when making vegetable marinades for raw vegetables. Adding some zest from the peel of acid fruits can also add flavor and dimension to your foods.
Another acid you can keep on hand is apple cider vinegar. ACV is naturally fermented and is well known for its high levels of acetic acid - which can increase the absorption of other important nutrients from the foods you eat. Also, apple cider vinegar can add tartness to raw foods, dressings and patés.
OILS/FATS Fats are essential because many vitamins consumed require fat in order to be dissolved and used by the body properly. The most common oil used in raw food preparation is an unfiltered oil. Generally most people use either organic, first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil that has some olive sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Some prefer using coconut oil because of the flavor and also because it is known to be a more healthy alternative to corn, safflower, canola or sesame oil. Monounsaturated fats are best when making raw foods.
You also want to have a healthy dose of Omega fatty acids, so keep foods like chia, flax and sunflower seeds around. Some solid foods that contain good sources of fat and also add flavors include avocado, olives, coconut and nuts in general.
SALT The body needs healthy sources of salt to perform essential bodily functions. Real salt, including pink mineral salt and sea salt, contain trace minerals that help support proper nerve function and thyroid function. Also, using salt with most vegetables helps release the water content from the cells of the vegetable. So next time you are making a raw side of greens, and you add salt, you will see after a few minutes how much water is released from the cellular wall of the vegetable.
Salt also acts as one of the primary seasonings in raw food. However, many vegetables contain natural sources of salt, so always add salt in stages and taste as you go along. You can always add salt, but it is difficult to remove.
Many people enjoy using liquid sources of salt that include Organic Shoyu or Bragg’s amino acids. Both are fermented soy products so just make sure if you choose to use these products that they are GMO free.
SPICES Lastly, spices can turn any raw food dish into a culinary explosion of flavor. Most spices can be found fresh, dried and ground. Having a variety of herbs, both fresh and dried, can really add dimension to your raw food dishes. Consider having an herb garden to keep a few commonly used fresh herbs at hand. The most common spices to have on hand when making raw food include, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, turmeric, coriander, dried basil, dried oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
For savory dishes, use a combination of garlic powder, coriander and cayenne pepper. For ethnic dishes, use a combination of coriander, cumin, turmeric and nutmeg. When making savory dishes use a hint of sweetness use basil or paprika, and cinnamon or cardamom for making dessert sweets. Many spices and herbs contain essential oils that can be beneficial to the body as well, and many have been used throughout the history of the world for medicinal and cultural purposes.
For example, mint has been used across the world as tea and a symbol of welcoming in many cultures, and nutritionally mint has been recognized to have antibacterial properties that freshen breath and ease stomach discomfort. Even the smell of mint essential oil has been shown to ease the mind.
Using all four ingredients, in some varying flavor ratio, will provide a foundation of endless creativity when making raw foods. Once you have this down, choosing fixins and superfoods to add will be second nature…unless you’re not sure which superfoods to add. So, we’ll get into that next.