There’s no better time to indulge in healthy raw foods than summertime. Colorful raw salads, luscious raw wraps, tote-able trail mixes and sweet smoothies to sip. But don’t stress about doing 100% raw. Simply add raw ingredients and recipes to your non-raw diet! Mix and match – do whatever it takes. The goal: to add more healthy raw foods to your family’s meals. You’ll feel the difference over time. More energy, less cravings, less mood swings and the best part is you’ll actually begin to crave raw foods. Salad cravings galore.
And to help get you started, here are my 20 Ingredients for Delicious Raw (or Mostly Raw) Meals. These are a few specific foods that I always keep on hand for delicious, easy, raw (or almost raw) meals any day of the week. Try one new ingredient – or try them all – you probably already have quite a few!..
When summertime rolls around I find myself naturally indulging in plenty of raw meals – and these pantry items help me create them!
note: I’m not a raw expert – this is just what works for me when trying to eat more raw foods. If you have any in depth questions, I encourage you to visit and consult one of the fab raw bloggers I linked to at bottom.
My Mostly Raw Food Pantry Staples: 20 Ingredients – slideshow
This slideshow is not meant to be 100% raw – but really a list of foods that will help you incorporate more raw foods and whole foods in your diet.
Bananas 1 of 20
Always in my fruit bowl. Bananas are perfect for adding sweet creaminess to smoothies and even raw desserts.
Apple Cider Vinegar 2 of 20
I keep a selection of vinegars on hand. My faves: Apple Cider Vinegar and Seasoned Rice Vinegar. ACV even comes in"raw" form - try Bragg's raw ACV. TJ's brand (pictured) is not raw because it is pasteurized.
Hemp Seeds 3 of 20
Try hemp seeds for silky texture and tons of complete protein. I sprinkle them onto salads, into dressings, dips and more. You can also try hemp oil or hemp milk.
Grab-n-Go Veggies – Shredded Carrots 4 of 20
It's great to have a few bagged grab-n-go veggies like these shredded carrots in the fridge. Easy to add color, crunch and vitamin A to your salads and slaws. Others: broccoli florets, chopped mushrooms or shredded cabbage.
Fresh Herbs 5 of 20
Dill, cilantro, parsley, mint, thyme and more. Fresh herbs are a brilliant way to add healthy natural flavor to your raw meals. Rich in nutrients too.
Coarse Sea Salt 6 of 20
Having a variety of good sea salt is essential to raw cooking. It's good to have both fine and coarse grains. Choose something rich in minerals. Salts with added herbs or natural flavors like truffle, smoke or lemon are also great. Pink and grey salts are widely available too.
Grade B Maple Syrup 7 of 20
My preferred sweetener is grade B maple syrup.Others: agave syrup or grade A maple syrup - keep on hand for easy sweetening.
Liquid Smoke 8 of 20
This vegan liquid smoke adds smoky flavor in a snap.
Raw Seeds – Sunflower 9 of 20
I love sunflower seeds with their crunchy and nutty flavor. Others: sesame, sunflower, hemp, poppy and more.
Other than Olive Oil 10 of 20
We all love olive oil - but an easy way to add diversity to your recipes is to add a variety of oils: try hemp, safflower, grape seed, hazelnut, pistachio, almond, coconut or my favorite oil splurge: macadamia nut.
Citrus 11 of 20
Fresh lemon and lime juice is great for adding zippy, perky flavor to your recipes without adding sodium or fat. Fresh lemon juice is a staple for raw cooking.
Nutritional Yeast 12 of 20
Seeking some "cheezy" flavor? Try this awesome ingredient. Not only is it great for raw recipes - but you can also use it for vegan mac n cheez!
Tahini 13 of 20
Tahini is ground up sesame seeds - it is creamy bitter-sweet, and often gets blended into hummus. Great for creamy raw slaws, salads and dressing. I prefer 'roasted seed' tahini - but you can also find it raw.
Raw Nuts and Dried Fruit 14 of 20
Perfect for raw snacking - a variety of raw nuts like cashews, almonds, walnuts and more. Dried fruits like raisins and blueberries are also delicious. You can soak raw nuts for plenty of recipes. Sweet dates popular for raw desserts.
Beans 15 of 20
Canned beans are an easy go-to item for any raw (or not!) pantry. Try garbanzo, cannellini, pinto, navy and more.
Leafy Greens 16 of 20
Try spinach, mache, arugula, kale, romaine, watercress and more. Be sure to keep leafy greens on hand - they can act as the base for any great raw salad!
Avocado 17 of 20
Always in my fruit bowl: avocado. Creamy delicious and rich in healthy fats. Slice for salads and wraps - or blend into creamy avocado dressings and sauces.
Dried legumes 18 of 20
Dried peas, lentils and beans are a smart addition to any healthy pantry. Though dried legumes are not be raw when cooked - they are a good staple to have around because they pair quite well with raw salads!
Garlic 19 of 20
Garlic is great for adding robust flavor to dressings, purees and more. Healthy too!
Spices 20 of 20
Spices like cumin, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne, coriander, chipotle powder, cinnamon and curry are wonderful for adding intense flavor to your recipes.
Trying Raw. Maybe you are looking to add more whole foods like grains, nuts and seeds to your diet – or simply up your green veggie intake – or even lose a few pounds. Raw foods can help. They are rich in living enzymes – whole food in its purest state. When you cook food, you are changing the molecular structure. Sometime destroying nutrients. A raw food diet is extremely nutrient dense – rich in enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber – and yes even protein.
Protein? Legumes such as beans and lentils are an excellent source of protein and foods like soy beans and hemp seeds are complete sources of protein – that means that they contain all the essential amino acids. And pretty much all whole foods contain some protein. For example, one cup chopped broccoli contains 3 grams protein.
Raw Challenge. Eat one meal that is 100% raw and see how you feel. You’ll probably be filled with nutrient-dense energy and you may even want to start a one raw meal a day habit! Sometimes I’ll pair raw with ‘not raw – like a raw salad with a few slices of grain toast – or folded into a whole wheat wrap – or pair a morning muffin with a raw smoothie.
For most of us, summertime is a time to embrace health and wellness. Try raw this summer!
For some amazing raw recipes and some real raw advice – visit a few of my favorite raw websites:
* KristensRaw.com – or Kristen’s raw/green mommy blog
* Sarma’s Blog – Pure Food and Wine
Want to mix up your diet but don’t want to go raw? Try these 19 vegan recipes kids will like, too!
Hearty and healthy! 16 skinny fall meals
30 ways to stock your pantry for fresh, healthy meals anytime
Healthy takes on our favorites: Babble’s 50 best recipes for kids