Should I Add Some Cooked Foods To My Raw Food Diet? And What About Protein?
Posted on January 28 2013 | (4) Comments
Category:Fan Questions, Answered!
Fan Question: I get that some foods are better for us cooked; perhaps you could elaborate on how to avoid some of the "pitfalls" of a completely-raw food diet so that we who wish to eat healthy and raw (with some cooked as appropriate) can do so without so many nutritional concerns? I find I have to eat lentils, beans, and greek yogurt to fully get sufficient protein...plus I recognize the need for a complete multivitamin eating this way.
So many great questions! In this post, I'll address adding some cooked food to a high-raw diet and also where you get your protein on a high-raw diet.
First, I don't eat 100% raw
Some people do follow a 100% raw diet and seem healthy doing so. I personally will eat all raw for a time periodically (3 days to 3 weeks). And my breakfast is almost always raw (green smoothies or juices and fresh fruit), and my lunch is often all-raw (salad-based with avocado or a nut pate). But I find that adding some healthful cooked foods to my diet, especially at dinner, makes me feel more balanced and satisfied. The key for me is making sure that the cooked foods I do eat are heatlhy. I do try to avoid wheat, sugar, dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol, since those foods don't make me feel my best. I also try to remember to take a multivitamin just for insurance, but sometimes I forget!
The Healthiest Cooked Foods
Here are the cooked foods I add to my diet regularly:
- steamed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and asparagus (occasionally steamed kale, spinach, and collards, though I prefer to eat these raw)
- steamed or baked sweet potatoes, winter squash, and beets
- quinoa and brown rice
- lentils and beans such as black beans, garbanzo beans, and aduki beans
- cooked veggie soups
- steamed and sauteed tempeh (in coconut oil)
- occasionally sauteed veggie dishes and veggie stews--for these I always use coconut oil if I need oil. Sometimes these include tempeh, which I love, or tofu.
How do I eat them? At lunch, if I'm craving cooked foods, I'll just toss the steamed veggies or brown rice/quinoa/lentils/beans directly into my salad. Or if I want concentrated protein, I'll add some sauteed tempeh cubes to my salad. (Tempeh is made from femented whole soy beans and is delicious). Or I'll have a cooked soup or a baked sweet potato along with my raw salad (though I do enjoy raw soups, too).
At dinner, I might repeat the lunch formula or make a hearty veggie saute or stew as a main dish, or some beans n' rice. But I always have a small plate of crudites (cut up raw veggies) before dinner so that the meal is at least 25% raw.
Because so many people don't eat 100% raw, I've included 2 full sessions on healthy cooked foods in my online course, Ready For Raw.
And What About Protein?
First of all, you can get a great deal of protein from dark leafy greens such as kale--they are about 50% protein! One large glass of my Super Green Juice has about 12 grams! Here are some other good sources of protein on a raw food diet: almonds, hemp seeds (and/or hemp protein powder), and chlorella/spirulina (algae). I drink a tablespoon of chlorella mixed in water each day, and that's 5 grams of protein. You can get adequate protein on a raw diet if you regularly include these foods.
That being said, I do believe that people can have different metabolisms--some people seem to need more protein and fat, while others need more carbs (I'm a carb person, my fiance is a protein/fat person). If you're not strictly raw (I'm not), healthy cooked protein sources include quinoa, beans, lentils, and tempeh. And wild fish if you're not vegetarian.
One other caveat about eating all raw: some people need to watch out for too much sweet fruit (dates, mangoes, grapes, pineapple, etc.) A little green apple, berries, and banana can be OK, but make sure you get enough greens! And enough healthy fats through avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds. If you can't handle much fruit, in order to get enough calories on high-raw you may need some healthy cooked foods such as quinoa and beans, and if you're not vegetarian, fish.
I'm not a nutritionist, I'm a chef, so the above is just what I've learned from other teachers and from my experience. Let me know what you think!