Monday, August 16, 2010

Raw Vegan it always "healthy"?

I love the creativity of raw food chefs.  They can take a typical Standard American Diet dish and totally raw it up.  Pictured above is a raw meal called "I am Fabulous" that I ordered from Cafe Gratitude on a recent vacation in Healdsburg, CA.  You might be able to guess from looking at it that it is a raw lasagna.  The "pasta sheets" are cucumbers sliced thin lengthwise.  The "cheese" is a ricotta made from cashews and walnuts and the inside layers are filled with mashed olives, basil and olive oil.  The dressing on the salad with beautiful sprouts is made from figs, walnuts and oil. 

As most of you know from my posts on this blog, I am an advocate of a high raw, low fat diet.  However, I am not a 100% raw foodist.  I believe that certain foods provide more nutrients and are better digested lightly steamed or cooked than raw.  Foods like broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, collards and kale. Collards and kale work well in green smoothies, but we do need to chew our food more often than drinking it from a blender.  I believe we have teeth for a reason!

While the lasagna was beautiful in presentation and appeared to be made of the freshest organic ingredients, I have a hard time calling it "healthy" when it was obviously very high in fat.  I do not know the exact fat grams but I would guess it was at least 30 grams.  That is a lot of fat for a person to digest in one meal.  I split this meal between my kids and I still had a hard time finishing it because I could feel the oil having an effect on my body.  

Oils are low nutrient, high calorie foods. They do not contain nutrients, fiber or phytochemicals that were in the original seed or fruit.  Oils contain minimal amounts of Vitamin E, making it of very little value in the diet.  One thing I do want to make sure everyone knows is to not cook with oils, or least try to avoid cooking foods at high temps with oil.  See my article on my website about oils for more details.

At home I eat a very low fat diet and use almost no oil.  My main sources of fat are avocado, nuts and seeds and I use those sparingly. There are traces of fat in grains, fruits and vegetables, so I don't obsess about whether I'm getting enough fat.  I can just tell by how I feel when I've had too much fat...tired and sluggish, with upset digestion.

I have been following Eat For Health for several years and have coached dozens of individuals on Eat for Health who have lost weight and regained health.  It is also much easier to follow and maintain than the popular raw food diets currently circulating.

If you are looking for a 100% raw food plan that is also low fat, I recommend the 80/10/10 Diet by Douglas Graham and Frederic Patenaude's The Raw Secrets.

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