Catchy title, isn’t it?  I’m going to lure the readers in with this one for sure! 🙂  But be forewarned, it’s long!

Actually this post is a couple of weeks late… I wrote it once about a week ago — but somehow I deleted it before I published it (not completely sure what happened — but it was a bummer!)  I didn’t really want to write it all over again, so I’ve been putting it off until now.  I’ve also been trying to figure out the best way to share since I don’t want to come across like a snob.  Obviously we all have our opinions about health and lifestyle and I am certainly not critical about anyone else’s decisions.  Living and eating healthily is something that has become increasingly more important to me over the last year especially and I want to figure out how to share about my experiences and perspective without turning anyone off.  I hope I can accomplish that… In this particular case, I felt like I should follow up on our raw week since I blogged about it a few weeks ago (*And also because a couple of readers were worried that my blogging silence lately has been the result of a vegetable-induced coma — HA! I got a good laugh out of that one!) 

We decided to go raw primarily because of my sister’s influence.  She has been raw for almost a year and has seen some drastic improvements in her health as a result.  I have always agreed that raw, living foods are incredibly good for a person (does anyone really want to argue that fruits and vegetables aren’t nutritious?) but I didn’t necessarily think that a person could thrive on salads alone.  However, as I came to find out, there are SO many raw food options! It isn’t just about leafy greens (although they are HUGELY important!…)  Raw nuts and seeds add protein, and can be dehydrated into crackers (at low temperatures, thereby preserving optimal nutrients) or ground into nut butters, or soaked and blended into delicious smoothies or nut milks… Raw honey, agave or dates are used as sweeteners… Countless varieties of exotic fruits are available for tropical flavors.  Raw chocolate and raw vanilla flavors are available from raw cocoa powder and whole dried vanilla beans… and the list goes on and on.  And since we’re not vegans, we also have the option of raw milk and raw cheese — full of living enzymes that are destroyed during the pasteurizing process.  It’s just a completely different way of experiencing food.  Raw flavors are incredibly intense.  And so satisfying.  They are literally alive with nutrients and enzymes and actually contribute to the digestive process, aiding the body in assimilating nutrients easily.  They are full of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals designed to be absorbed easily by our bodies.  Here is a good article on the benefits of enzymes in living foods.  And here is a GREAT article on the benefits of raw food, tempered with the perspective that cooked foods have their value as well. 

It actually ended up being a lot easier than anticipated.  I think the idea of eliminating food is usually harder than actually doing it — we found that it was surprisingly feasible and as I said before, very satisfying as well (Hmmm… I think Peter would agree that it was satisfying! 🙂 ) We both had a lot more energy during the week and just felt great over all.  We definitely noticed that our senses of taste were heightened — we really enjoyed the flavors in the meals I prepared.  It was harder to prepare meals in the sense that I often added waaayyy too much of a fresh herb or flavor — I wasn’t accustomed to the intensity of raw flavors.  A little raw garlic goes a loooonnnnggg way!! (Hee hee)  But it was easier in the sense that there was little mess and it was super fast and easy to make a meal.  I certainly liked that part!  (The kids did not go all raw with us.  I don’t agree that it is the best diet for growing bodies — but they did eat a lot more raw food right alongside us and they loved it.  They are adventurous souls.)

It was in many ways almost addicting to feel such lightness and energy.  It was confirmation of our desire to eat as simply and healthily as possible.  We are definitely going to continue with the green smoothies every day and are going to try to stay about 60% raw over all. 

Another positive thing that came from the week is that we finally stopped drinking coffee (switched to green smoothies first thing in the morning.)  We’ve always loved our coffee around here, but we’ve known for a while that we needed to let it go… at least for the most part.  Going raw was a good kick-in-the-pants motivator.  And, you know, I haven’t really missed it like I thought I would.  I credit the green smoothies for that.  Actually, I think that the green smoothies every day are making more of a notable difference in our energy levels and health than almost anything else.  I need to devote a whole post just to green smoothies because I am such a believer!

I do have to say that I still have mixed thoughts about going 100% raw long-term.  I think that everyone could benefit from eating more raw food… and I think that going completely raw for a season is beneficial — especially for cleansing purposes.  But I think that it is also important to have a healthy balance and personally, I believe that there are great nutritional benefits to healthy cooked foods.  So while I see the benefits of a raw lifestyle, and can understand why people go raw all the way, at this point I’m not advocating it completely.  There is just too much good in nourishing, nutritious cooked foods to throw them out completely.  Balance is the key to everything in life…  

Whew! That got long!!  If you’re still reading after all that, you MUST be interested!  (Either that, or you just love me, and I’ll take that too!  🙂 ) Here are a couple of the best resources that I’ve found for raw recipes:

 Gone Raw is a community forum/recipe exchange with a HUGE selection of tried and true raw recipes —  everything from chilled soups and asian wraps to chocolate mousse (which I haven’t tried yet, but am planning to!!)

 Raw Gourmet isn’t as extensive as Gone Raw, but has some yummy-looking recipes. 

 And here is a link to the “community” health/nutrition blog that my friend, Missy, started recently.  I am really excited about the resource it is for sharing ideas and recipes and inspiration.  You can check it out here.  (And don’t worry, it’s not a bunch of health nuts and radicals… just a few ordinary people striving to live healthier…)

Just for fun, here are a few of the raw recipes I tried that got the thumbs up.  There were several that DID NOT go over so well.  In fact, after one such bomb, Peter said to me, “You know, I wouldn’t MIND eating salads all week…”  🙂 How’s that for encouraging?!?   Actually, he’s been such a trooper. I know he agrees that it’s healthy to eat more raw food, but he definitely wouldn’t be doing this on his own!  He is a meat and potatoes kind of guy.  I told him that I don’t want to put any pressure on him, so we’ve struck a bargain. He can cook whatever he wants to eat on his own…. and he is actually enjoying the green smoothies and many of the raw meals I’ve made. I really appreciate his flexibility.

California rolls (raw nori and sans rice):

Spicy Thai lettuce wraps w/ a peanut/cabbage base (these were SO yummy!)

A version of lasagna (with sun-dried tomatoes, herbs and zucchini “noodles”)  Peter didn’t like this one so much, but it’s because he was comparing it to regular lasagna…