Ever wonder the common reasons people lose weight rapidly when turning to the raw food diet or, wondered what you might serve at a dinner party for family and friends that would please everyone’s palate? Maybe you’ve heard differing opinions on the best ways to use flax seeds in your crackers. In this article expect to understand the answers to these questions along with some great, healthy and easy recipes to flatter your taste buds!
Every time I eat 100% raw or close to it, I lose too much weight. What am I doing wrong?
Because I don’t know if you are a man or a woman, your age, your health circumstances, your height/weight, this question has to be treated in a general way. In my 1:1 health coaching sessions, I of course get a complete picture of the person, including a food diary which is always very informative. So, in general (this is not always true) it’s calories in and calories out. In a weeks time, for every 3500 calories you eat over and above what you need, or what you ‘normally’ eat-you can potentially gain one pound…unless you exercise or metabolize off those ‘extra’ 3500 calories.
Conversely, if you are eating 3500 calories less each week than previously, with all else being equal (amount of exercise for example) you will lose one pound. I find that most people with your complaint it most often comes down to simply not enough calories being consumed, especially in the beginning of their raw food journey. Simply put, if you are too thin you aren’t getting enough calories. If two salads a day don’t provide enough calories for you, then condense your food into a soup or a smoothie, adding in tahini or other high calorie good quality foods. You can make avocado or tahini based soups, or drink almond milk. There are many ways to meet your calorie needs consistently with an all raw diet.
Here’s my Vanilla Bliss recipe, especially great for any athletes or people trying to keep or maintain your healthy weight. You can find it along with other wonderful recipes at http://www.rawgourmet.com.
Frozen Vanilla Bliss
You can use fresh or frozen bananas for this yummy and healthy smoothie. When you use frozen bananas, this smoothie tastes like soft-serve ice cream, only better. Use more tahini if you are a body builder (way better source of protein than those expensive, all-chemical powders) or if you need to gain weight. Tahini is a great source of good fat, protein and calories. Each tablespoon of tahini has approximately 100 calories. Vary the taste by adding additional fruits, carob, cocoa to your liking.
3/4 cup cup water
2 Tablespoons or more raw tahini
1-2 fresh or frozen bananas
dash of vanilla (optional but really adds to the flavor)
Blend all until thick and smooth. Wait one minute or so for the banana flavor to overtake the tahini flavor then drink immediately. Serves 1.
Before I move on to a fun cracker recipe, there’s one more important item I want to mention. You need variety in your diet. Making the same thing every day out of habit or convenience is a very unhealthy habit. Think of the rainbow when you make your foods, be sure that on a daily basis you are eating from many of the colors of the rainbow: purple, red, orange, green and yellow. Each food contains its own gift for you, packaged by the Creator in just the right way to be sure you are taking in all the necessary nutrients. It’s hard to go wrong if you choose from a very wide assortment of foods.
Nowadays it seems to me that everyone is trying to become a mini nutritionist picking apart each bite they eat. Questions swirl around in their head like: am I getting enough beta-carotene, zinc and fat to allow my body to create Vitamin A? Why not just remember to eat high beta carotene foods fairly often like most of the orange colored foods: sweet potato, mango, papaya -with variety comes a natural choosing of the correct nutrients.
Also I am not a believer that each meal has to be created perfectly to supply the right nutrients for the foods to work right. I think the body was created intelligently enough to be able to utilize nutrients from several meals. The only time I feel one needs to look very closely at the micro-nutrients they are consuming is if they are not feeling well. It’s when you eat the same food day after day every day that you will get into nutritional trouble.
I have read that in order to gain any nutritional value or to digest flax seeds they should be ground. Does the soaking and dehydrating perhaps add to the nutritional value?
The answer to this concern is that, yes, whole flax seeds do pass through the body whole. Some people use whole flax seeds and water as part of a cleanse to clean out the digestive tract. When consumed like this the essential fatty acids do not become available to the body. When you grind flax seeds you need to eat them immediately as once ground and exposed to the air the oil in the flax will quickly degrade and turn rancid. My opinion regarding flax seed crackers is that if you grind the seeds, then expose them for many hours in the dehydrator they will be rancid before the crackers are dry. In the recipe for the crunchy flax seed crackers where the seeds are left whole, I am going to assume that they will be very thoroughly chewed! Your teeth are nature’s blender and food processor.
Following is a recipe that will help to round out your meals and snacks. If you own a dehydrator or have enough warm sun, here is a tasty flax seed cracker recipe. I like these crackers because they travel well and also because of the great crunch they provide. Flax seeds provide wonderful fiber and important Omega 3 oils.
Soak 5 or 6 cups of organic brown or golden flax seeds in 5 or 6 cups of water for about 4-5 hours. This will turn into a solid mass. Puree any or all of the following in a blender:
6 or 7 tomatoes
one or two onions
2-6 tablespoons lemon juice
soaked sun dried tomatoes
spices and herbs that you like
Fill the blender to the top-about 7-8 cups. Mix the blended mixture into the flax seed mixture. Do not blend, you want to leave the flax seeds whole. Add caraway seeds or fennel seeds or dried onion bits if you like. Pour onto the liners in your dehydrator trays, and spread with an offset spatula until even, this will be about ¼ inch thick. Dehydrate, turning over when dry on top, and remove the liners when you can. Score the crackers (cut almost all the way through) when almost dehydrated on both sides or allow to completely dehydrate, then break into bite size crackers. Store in a tightly closed jar or cookie tin. Makes about 100 crackers.
Each time you make them, experiment with the flavors until you find your personal favorite. Be generous with your seasoning as the flax seeds make everything very bland. Besides having on hand for munching and to add some texture and fun to your meals, you can break up one or two and toss in your salad as croutons, or you can top a cracker with slices of cucumber, tomato or onion bits for a tasty meal or snack.
Note: start your dehydrator at 140, then turn it down to 115 once you feel the crackers are getting warm. The food never reaches the temperature the thermostat is set at, it is dangerous to dehydrate food at too low a temperature, like 90, it takes too long- allowing mold to form in the food.
I’d like to have my non-raw friends and family over for dinner but haven’t a clue what to make!
It is a terrific notion to wish to WOW your raw and non-raw friends alike with a fabulous all-out gourmet meal, what you select to prepare could either win over the skeptics among us or turn them off. I would like to caution you that while dazzling people with an array of tastes, sights and smells they have never encountered before in their lifetime; it won’t do at all for them to develop a huge belly ache as a result of eating your lovingly prepared extravagance.
One tried and true way to get around overabundance while still entertaining on a grand scale is to sneakily use the same foods cloaked differently for each course. For example, a first course of a simple salad of greens with a light dressing, perhaps a ‘surprise’ ingredient to amp up the visual such as sprinkling pomegranate seeds or edible flowers. Even a few randomly placed tiny perfect cubes of red pepper will do the trick.
Next, a salad size plate with an attractive stack of zucchini pasta that has been tossed in pesto sauce and topped with marinara sauce. Finally, a perfectly cut square of raw lasagna. Two hours later, serve dessert. While this is a great deal of food, here is what you are actually eating: salad greens, zucchini, tomatoes, some nuts (as the ‘cheese’ or white sauce in the lasagna) along with a few pine nuts, olive oil, basil, garlic, and a few other spices.
There is a tendency, especially among those who are used to entertaining with cooked foods to ‘go wild’ with lots of different type of nuts and seeds in the same meal, or several difficult to digest combinations within the same meal. Protein and carbohydrate together are difficult enough to digest, let alone several different combinations within the same meal. What good does it do to make a person’s taste buds sing, if it is followed by malaise a short while later?
Often the effects of a poorly designed meal on a guest who is used to a lot of cooked food are too subtle for them to identify. So the cause of their tiredness or discomfort is attributed to the fact that it was raw food itself that affected them, not realizing it was because they ate ¾ of a pound of nuts along with ½ a cup of oil and assorted other fancies. It is better to create variety with vegetables than with nuts and seeds. Let one type of nut or seed prevail as the ‘star’ of your meal. Both your budget and your digestive tract will appreciate the forethought. On page 206 of my book (The Raw Gourmet) there are five special occasion menu suggestions. They will give you an idea of different ways to plan a festive menu without bogging your guests down.
Here is an example of one of the meals mentioned on this page:
Nori Roll Delight
Summer tomato-Basil Soup
Wild Greens Salad with Tamari Dressing
Sunny Roll-Ups (Exotic Sunflower Pate and assorted condiments nestled in a Nori Roll)
When someone stops by to visit me, I invariably will create a soup right in front of them, pull out some crackers and that is the meal. The speed with which the meal is made, and the tastiness has won over many a cooked food addict. The moral of this story is: sometimes less is more. If your purpose is to make converts, the simplest approach often works best.
About Nomi Shannon
Raw for over 25 years and still going strong at age 70, Nomi Shannon is an award winning author and world renowned coach. Her best- selling book, The Raw Gourmet, has sold over 250,000 copies, making it one of the best-selling raw food books of all time. Nomi is known for teaching people proven steps to keeping — or regaining — vibrant health. Find out more about Nomi’s raw food programs at rawgourmet.com and check out her latest book “You’re Raw; They’re Cooked” – How to Keep Your Sanity in the Kitchen When Your Diets Have Nothing in Common.