It’s summer! Time to shed your heavy clothing and the heavy feeling associated with eating cooked foods. Consuming heated foods during the colder months is perfect for warming you up and keeping you full and satisfied through the long cold winter. But in the summer, it’s just the opposite. When heat and humidity start to bog you down, you automatically want to reach for cooler, lighter foods to stay hydrated and refreshed.
What are raw foods?
Raw foods are primarily uncooked and unprocessed. Food is considered raw if it’s never been heated over 118 degrees F.
Here are five reasons to say “YES!” to raw foods this summer.
1. More seasonal fun
Summer is the perfect time to go raw because there’s an abundance of seasonal, fresh produce available that will make mealtime more exciting
First, research which fruits and vegetables are in season in your area. Then visit local farmer’s markets to load up on fresh goodies! Ask vendors for tips on how to pick out the ripest, juiciest fruits and vegetables with peak flavor.
2. More variety
Eat a rainbow of produce for the complete nutritional balance of micronutrients your body needs. A great way to add more color to your meals is to focus on fruits and veggies as the dish’s centerpiece. Remember to always go organic when possible. Avoid adding processed foods and reduce the amount of cooked ingredients added so you can experience and enjoy the natural, raw state of the foods on your plate.
Once you’ve selected your fruits and veggies, garnish with plant proteins such as healthy seeds, nuts and sprouted legumes.
Play with healthy fats for additional flavor and added nutrition. Watch the balance of omega 3s and omega 6s. Flax, chia and hemp seeds are excellent sources of omega 3s, as are leafy green veggies.
3. More opportunity
Going raw can inspire you to become super creative in the kitchen. While you can easily and effortlessly snack on fruits and veggies in their purest form, you can also add them to salads, gazpachos, soups, zoodles, pasta dishes and guilt-free desserts.
Finally – an opportunity to dust off your neglected small kitchen appliances (i.e. blender, food processor, spiralizer, dehydrator).
The good news is that just about every cooked recipe has a raw food variation. Search Vitacost for delicious, fresh and easy-to-make high-raw vegan recipes.
4. More hydrating
Drinking water is wonderful, but “eating your water” through fresh water-dense fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, celery and watermelon throughout the day can actually help you stay hydrated longer as well as provide a steady stream of needed nutrients to the body. When you cook foods, most of their water concentration is lost. Eating foods in their raw form helps your skin and organs stay hydrated.
5. More health and vitality
Incorporating raw foods into your diet will also help you look and feel your best. Many people are still trying to shed their winter weight. Eating mindfully will allow you to find a better balance on the scale.
Raw foods aren’t as heavy as their cooked counterparts – so you can eat more and become satisfied without feeling weighed down.
You’ll naturally eat more vegetables and fruits, your proteins are lean and plant-based, your fats come from whole foods or less processed sources and your starches aren’t as hefty. Other side effects include clearer skin, more energy and increased vitality.
6. More enzymes, nutrition and fiber
Eating most foods in their raw form allows you to take the fullest advantage of the vitamins and minerals inside. Cooking food adds heat that destabilizes enzymes helpful to digestion and destroys some valuable nutrients.
Raw foods also contain the most fiber so your digestive system will be happy and foods will move easily through your system detoxifying you and leaving your body feeling in tip-top shape.