For many families with kids back in school, which often includes extra-curricular activities and hours of homework, weeknights can be a whirlwind. And yet, health-conscious parents—especially those who emphasize raw foods—still want to ensure a fresh, wholesome dinner for all. Fortunately, with some advance preparation and a few clever strategies, that can be easier than you think.
Stock up on key staples
To make beautiful raw meals easily, you must stock a varied array of fresh produce, along with other nutritious, useful staples such as:
- Fresh greens for salads, wraps, spring rolls, etc.
- Avocados for salads, spreads and to stuff as an entrée
- Raw, sprouted nut and seed crusts, which make a crisp, yummy base for pizza, bruschetta, canapés, as a side-kick for dips, or spread with raw nut butter.
- Zucchini, yams and parsnips for zoodles
- Cauliflower and/or parsnips for “rice”
- Kale for hearty salads and kale chips
- Beets to shred and add to soups, salads, wraps and spring rolls
- Cabbage for slaws (or fill leaves with hummus or tapenade)
- Hemp seeds to toss over any entrée for tasty, nutty, complete protein
- Raw cashews for vegan cheese, dressings, etc.
- Almonds, walnuts and pecans for dairy-free milk, and to enrich countless dishes
- Raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on everything
- Raw nut and seed butters, served with sliced veggies and fruit for dipping
- Crispy, protein-rich raw crackers to round out soup and salad meals
Skip the store! Click below to snag some of the staples mentioned above:
Prep in advance
Healthy raw cuisine does involve preparation, but it’s worth it when you can quickly assemble delicious, satisfying entrées for hungry loved ones as a result. Many staples, made ahead, are quite versatile too, and can factor into multiple meals. A case in point is zoodles.
These “noodles,” made from raw zucchini or other veggies, can be tossed with raw marinara, creamy curry, tapenade or other rich, plant-based sauces and crowned with hemp seeds for a lovely, nourishing dish.
You can also prep hearty walnut “meat” balls, which can be made in advance. For another great staple to accompany Asian-themed dishes or to fill out soup or salad, make cauliflower and/or parsnip “rice” in your food processor. Season to taste with pink Himalayan salt, herbs and a drizzle of hemp seed or flax oil.
Embrace the entrée salad
With the colorful staples listed above, plus other produce you love, salad production is easy. It can also vary every night based on what’s in season and what appeals to you and your family. The trick to making salad the meal is making sure it is deliciously filling and satisfying. To that end, you may find this formula useful:
- Layer a big bowl with organic greens such as spinach, romaine or butter lettuce, baby kale or a combination
- Add other veggies, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, red bell pepper, jicama, sprouts, etc. as well as fruit like grapes, orange segments, raisins or diced apple
- Include some healthy fat, such as avocado or olives
- Toss with a yummy raw dressing, like this protein-rich green tahini dressing
- Top with a handful of hemp, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts or pecans, or other favorites. This final touch really rounds out the salad for a satiating meal. Rotate your nuts and seeds for a varied array of flavors, nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals
Stuff & savor
Another great entrée idea is stuffed veggies, or as the French say, farcis niçois. While this presentation may look quite elegant, it’s easy to assemble and vastly satisfying—especially with a creamy, protein-rich filling.
Ideal veggies to stuff include avocados, large heirloom tomatoes and red bell peppers. For filling, you might try cauliflower rice mixed with your favorite creamy raw dressing and topped with hemp seeds, or zoodles swathed in raw pesto and pine nuts.
For a Mexican twist, stuff an avocado with chopped tomatoes, red bell pepper, cilantro, sprouts, sweet red onion, fresh lime juice and a big handful of pumpkin seeds for a crunchy, nutrient- and protein-rich healthy fat.
With these ideas—as well as how you might expand on them as you explore more raw food recipes—you can easily manage vibrant, satisfying nourishing raw food meals, even on the busiest of nights.