Spring has sprung! Amsterdam feels like it's slowly coming out of winter - most afternoons, it feels like Tshirt weather (never mind that it goes back down to freezing winter at night). Feels like a good time to start this year's Spring cleanse, and what better way to kickstart this than by timing this with my next Naturopathy school assignment. As mentioned a few posts ago, one of my next school assignments is to pick a dietary model and go on it for a week. Working in a group, we're meant to also look into the history and concept of that particular model, find research papers on its effectiveness and efficacy or any other therapeutic benefits. I decided to go with raw, since it's something I've dabbled with on and off, but I've never done 100% raw, and for a full 7 days.
The whole point of this exercise is really to go through a change in my regular eating pattern, to look up alternative and new (to me) methods of food prep, and basically to put myself in the shoes of any future client who will need to make changes to his/ her diet and lifestyle. The plus side to going raw is since it's quite a cleansing and alkalising diet, I'm turning this assignment into my annual detox cleanse.
Q: What is "raw food"?
A: Any plant that hasn't been heated up beyond 40 degrees Celsius, so that none of its living enzymes are cooked. This includes all fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds. It also includes grains (which are basically seeds of grasses), although since these are harder to digest when not cooked, sometimes they are eaten after soaking or sprouting (eg. sprouted buckwheat or sprouted quinoa).
This also includes fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, and fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir. As long as they haven't been pasteurised (treated with high heat to kill off bacteria), these are raw, "living" foods.
There are some schools of thought that include raw animal products in this too, but I don't subscribe to that way of thinking. I've been reading a lot of Dr. Gabriel Cousens' work he does with his Tree of Life Center and Dr. Robert Young's theories on the pH balance, and I'll explain more in the "why" below. I guess it all depends on what your intention is for going raw.
Also - sorry. Coffee is not raw (dudes. It's roasted!) OMG. I'm going on a coffee detox too. Daaaaaamn.
Q: Why "raw food"?
- Cooking kills most of the enzymes in fresh fruit and vegetables. These enzymes help in our digestive and absorptive processes. Many act as co-factors to lots of metabolic processes that go on in the body. Increasing the intake of living enzymes helps our bodies with these processes. You may have heard of the term "living foods" - and this is exactly why.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables tend to metabolize into compounds that are more alkaline in the body (especially in comparison to meat/ dairy, cooked food, or processed food high in refined sugars). Because the average person today is faced with more stress, increased environmental toxic loads from urban living, and poor eating habits (high salt, sugar, bad saturated fat) - these all contribute to an internal body pH balance that's already starting out as highly acidic. The danger with this is a more acidic "internal terrain" makes the body more susceptible to diseases. This is why going raw helps to neutralise the acidic effect.
There are lots more reasons and resources you can turn to to find out more if you're interested, but this in a super simple nutshell are the 2 main reasons why I'm viewing this raw week as a cleanse more than anything.
I picked tomorrow, April 1st to start off my Raw Week. And no, it's not an April Fool's joke. :p
I don't want to only survive on salads, as I believe raw food can be so much more - with a dehydrator and with fermented foods, lots more textures and flavours can be explored. I've already started prepping from last week: You might have seen on Instagram that I made some home-made kimchi, attempted some almond cheese (which turned out to be a big FAIL as I dehydrated it for too long and it became a giant savoury biscuit. Haha), and right now I've got some kombucha brewing up (this one may take a while and not be done this week).
Fermentation is completely new territory for me, and I'm enjoying it so far! So I guess part of this experiment - getting me to try new things is already working! That last pic above is my SCOBY mother floating in the kombucha tea. It's now sunk to the bottom of the jar and a daughter is growing on the surface. I've become quite attached to my SCOBY, like a pet, and have nicknamed it Scobydoobydoo. LOL.
I'll be posting my daily updates on here as I go along, as well as the meals and snacks I've had each day. So keep checking back, or "Like" my Facebook page to get my updates.
Leading up to my week of raw, I've already started transitioning by going about 50% raw on Sunday. And today, I've gone all raw except for a salad at lunch with cooked greens. This diet feels like a lot of planning involved - from the snacks I'll need, to the soaking of all manner of nuts and seeds ahead of time.
I'll list out all the meals and snacks I've had tomorrow, and let me know if you've got any questions/ comments/ suggestions for me. Thanks!