11th July is celebrated every day as the International Raw Food Day. It is a day dedicated to spreading awareness about the benefits of raw food consumption. It also helps highlight its long term advantages for our health. The 21st century has seen a rapid increase in the trend of fast food and other processed foods that have led to the increase in obesity levels and other non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, etc. In the wake of such trends catching up, health experts point at the emergent need to go back to the basics, to turn to nature and turn to into a raw food enthusiast.
So what exactly is raw foodism and where can we trace back its origins? The history of raw food consumption - as a dietary and health movement- can be traced back to 1830 when an American Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham propagated the benefits of raw food diet to combat the cholera epidemic that the country was grappling with. Apparently, the Swiss would take away the credit for being amongst the first to develop raw food as a dietary health treatment. In the late 19th century, a Swiss doctor, Maximilian Bircher Benner stumbled upon the benefits of raw food diet. It was when he was suffering from jaundice that he ate a lot of raw apples and after his recovery he conducted experiments to study the effects of raw foods on human health and the immune system.
Shifting gears to the contemporary scenario now, raw food diets have been rapidly gaining popularity all across the world. From raw food movements like raw foodism and raw veganism to special raw juice camps held in places like Portugal. Raw food, simply speaking, is food that has not been cooked, processed or exposed to any kind of chemicals or food engineering. It is consumed in its rawest and freshest form, technically, it is food that is not cooked or heated above 118 degrees. The thrust of the raw food diet is the consumption of unprocessed, whole plant-based, ideally organic foods. Nutritionists suggest that a minimum of three-quarters of a person's diet should consist of uncooked food. The higher the proportion of raw foods in our diet, the healthier we will be.
Why is raw food beneficial for one's health? Experts and researchers in the field of health and nutrition have long stood by the benefits of raw food consumption. It is believed that just a little raw food in your diet can do wonders to your health. Raw food consumption can be an ideal way to get your daily quota of five portions of fruit and vegetables. It can help you get rid of stress, energizing your mind and body. Raw foods are full of essential nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, which are usually lost when processed or cooked. Not only this, raw foods are tad low on calories, they can help you maintain healthy skin, lustrous hair, better eyesight and can also help you boost your immunity and shed weight.(More: Busted! Common myths about raw food consumption.)
As they say, every good thing has a flip side to it, so does the raw food diet. Experts advise to exercise a little caution while consuming raw foods. Make sure that the foods and fruits are fresh. Wash them properly and if needed boil them. Do not use foods that have been stored for a long period of time. Take notice of the slightest of change in the natural colour or smell of the food. Ensure proper storage. Maintaining hygiene is of the utmost importance.
In India raw food consumption has not yet picked up as a trend. There are many factors that we can point to, the most important ones are poor hygiene and our extreme weather conditions. I personally remember the instance when I had consumed sliced raw cucumber from a local shop and ended up throwing up for a couple of days. Eating raw foods from the local shops can prove to be quite a daunting experience, as you never really know what kind of water is being used, how clean the cutlery is and above all, how hygiene friendly they themselves have been while handing over that plate of fruit salad to you. It is best to buy food items and make your own salads, smoothies and chaats at home, make sure that they are cleaned and washed properly.
Having said that, whether you plan to include a little raw food in your daily intake or want to be that dauntless enthusiast to plunge headlong into a full fledged raw food diet, we can ensure that you'll never run short of recipe ideas. One of the best things about raw food is that you can cut them, mix them together with a bit of spices and herbs and add a little glamour to the otherwise bland affair. Read ahead to explore your options, from garden fresh salads to refreshing smoothies, here is our bumper list of recipes that will make you fall in love with raw food. Forget your cola and junk and get down to some serious raw food cooking!
Beet Feta and Orange Salad
Recipe by Vicky Ratnani
Experience the freshness and rich colours adorning your plate. Beetroot, oranges and lettuce come together, bathed in yogurt dressing and topped with nuts, herbs and feta.
5 Best smoothies
Blend together some of your favourite fruits along with some milk or yogurt. Sip on the goodness or raw food and energize yourself.
Mediterranean Watermelon Salad
Recipe by Vicky Ratnani
Here is a raw food treat that is wholesome and satisfying. Some of the best hydrating raw foods come together and create a colourful melange with an addition of subtle herbs and dressing.
Mixed Vegetable SaladRecipe by Niru Gupta
Here is the world's healthiest deal for you. A medley of greens and colourful veggies tossed in tangy vinegar and pepper. Add a bit of yogurt for that creamy texture and a dash of honey for the perfectly balanced flavour.
Raw Papaya Salad
Recipe by Roopa Gulati
Grated raw papaya, tossed in chilli sauce, red chillies, peanuts and lime juice and crowned with fresh coriander
Green Salad With Feta
Recipe by Ritu Dalmia
Bright and fresh salad with crunchy nuts, salad greens, tomatoes, onions, lime juice and a drizzle of light dressing.
Recipe by Vicky Ratnani
Indulge in a wholesome and nourishing goodness of this super salad. Throw in all your favourite fruits and bean sprouts. From kiwis, olives, cherry tomatoes to chowli, methi and other bean sprouts. Theses are mixed together with an addition of pepper, feta cheese and olive oil dressing.
Recipe by Niru Gupta
Sip on the nectar of on of your favourite fruit. Delighting, fresh, hydrating and energizing.
Recipe by Aditya Bal
It can't get healthier than this! Bring on a healthy treat packed with daliya, mint, parsley and olives bathed in olive oil and pepper.
Apple and Celery Salad
Recipe by Aditya Bal
Fresh apples and garden fresh celery brought together with simple olive oil, honey and lime juice dressing.