Looking to make a healthy change? Adding more produce to your diet is a good first step. This could be a time-consuming endeavor—washing, chopping, shredding, dicing, mincing, steaming, boiling, sauteing, roasting, and pureeing produce can quickly amount to hours in the kitchen. But here’s a tip that’s surprisingly both time-saving and health-enhancing: one of the biggest benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables is that you can (and should!) enjoy many of them in their simplest form: raw.
Keep reading to learn about some of the most nutritionally-sound ways to eat raw foods:
Leafy Greens in Salads & Smoothies
If you want to improve your health, adding piles of raw, leafy greens to any meal is a great place to start. Leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, arugula, bok choy, and mustard greens pair nicely with all sorts of cuisines and can even help improve memory, decrease inflammation, and keep bones strong, especially when eaten raw. After a quick rinse and chop, toss them in a salad. Got kids or picky eaters in your family? Blend them into a delicious smoothie or juice. Worried raw greens will spoil before you use them? Throw them in the freezer. The texture change won’t be great for salads, but it’s perfect for smoothies. Either via salad, smoothie, or juice, all the highly nutritious benefits of raw leafy greens will get in your belly. No pots and pans required!
Nuts and Seeds as a Healthy Fat Source
Nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, and pistachios are well known as fabulous sources of healthy fats, which can lower bad cholesterol, improve brain function, and keep your circulatory system strong. And let’s not forget about small but mighty seeds. Flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds are high in protein, fiber, and important minerals like zinc and magnesium. Sprinkle nuts and seeds on a salad (that is of course filled with other delicious raw produce), eat them by the handful, or even add them to a smoothie. There’s a pattern here: when in doubt about how to add more raw foods to your diet, throw it in a smoothie.
Note: although nuts and seeds do not lose much nutritional value when roasted, they may oxidize, which makes them more susceptible to spoilage. So keep it simple: store and eat nuts and seeds in their raw form.
Citrus Fruits to Maximize Vitamin C Intake
Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit are well known for containing lots of vitamin C, an antioxidant that aids in the absorption of iron and helps fight everything from the common cold to more serious issues. However, heating citrus fruits can break down some of the illness-fighting properties of vitamin C. You’ll still get plenty of nutritional value from cooked citrus fruits, but eating them raw is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most out of vitamin C.
Fermented Foods for Gut Health
Abundant in probiotics, raw fermented foods are incredibly beneficial to gut health, which plays an important role in overall well-being. While fermented foods aren’t quite as simple to prepare as other raw food options, they are very much worth the wait and skill it takes to prepare them. Or, if a DIY science experiment is not for you, make sure purchased foods that claim to be fermented actually are—they’ll include descriptors like cultures, probiotic, live, and fermented; look for them in the refrigerated section. The options are endless (every regional cuisine seems to have its own raw fermented food): kefir, yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, and pickles of all kinds—experiment to see what you like and incorporate some into your diet! But like citrus, avoid cooking fermented foods and eat them raw, as the heat from cooking kills a lot of the beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Some of Thistle’s Favorites
At Thistle, we aim to pack our food with optimal nutrition. That’s why we offer a variety of raw foods in our rotating menu. Some of our favorites include:
- Juices: we’re well known for our juices for a reason! Each cold-pressed juice includes an array of fruits and veggies, and that’s it. Nothing to hide behind, no secret ingredients to muck up the nutritional benefit of these delightful beverages. Consider these two options: Hunter is full of raw, dark leafy greens; Spark is full of immune-boosting citrus.
- Salads: the quintessential raw food, we love to offer new and delicious salad creations every menu cycle. Our nutritionists and chefs make sure that each salad is carefully crafted to contain the right balance of raw leafy greens, nuts, and seeds to power your week.
- Smoothies and Bowls: we include smoothies in our weekly menus because they’re easy to eat and packed full of nutritious raw fruits and veggies. And they look pretty. It’s not just taste that plays a big role in meal satisfaction, presentation matters, too! To enjoy the beauty of raw foods, try out our selection of smoothies and smoothie bowls.
If you’re ready to add more raw foods to your diet, Thistle can help. Sign up for one of our subscriptions today to make it easier than ever to get the nutrients you need to thrive.