I received an email from a reader recently, asking for my suggestions on a raw food “trial” diet, since her and a few friends thought that they would like to give the lifestyle a whirl.
Here’s my suggestion: don’t do it!
The reason: it’s cold outside!
Raw food diets are a fabulous idea when the weather is hot, sunny, and what you’re eating is local. Coming into December? Not so much.
You see, the foods we choose to eat, send messages to our bodies internally, about the season and the weather, which in turn allows our bodies to be prepared physically for what we are facing externally. Why do we instinctively turn to soups and stews in winter? Because hot, slow-cooked foods prepare our systems for the cold, and keep us healthy and strong. And just as the foods that are in season in the autumn and winter will warm your body, so will the cooking methods that cold-season foods require. Consider the vegetables that are in season now: sweet potatoes, turnip, squash, onions, beets, and carrots – foods that necessitate long cooking times. Compared that to the warm-season foods, such as leafy greens, tomatoes, peas, asparagus, etc. we can see how these foods require very little, if any cooking at all. A lot of the foods harvested in the spring and summer are even best eaten raw, and the body responds well to that type of diet at that particular time of year.
This demonstrates how eating with the seasons not only benefits the environment, but also our bodies. Cooked food in the winter is easier to digest, and helps the body build up and maintain heat. This lessens the work our bodies must do to keep warm and alleviates stress – and we could all benefit from that!
If you want to get the most warming effects from you food, slow down the cooking process. For example, braising, simmering on the stove top, crock pot cooking, and roasting, are suitable methods that impart a great deal of heat into the food, which you receive back through eating and digesting. The longer and slower foods cook, the more warming effect they will have on your body.
Roasting is a wonderful way to bring out the intense flavours in vegetables that typically get lost in the steaming or boiling process. And as a bonus, the vitamins and minerals will remain intact, as they are typically lost in the cooking water we pour down the drain! The roasting process slightly caramelizes the vegetables bringing out their natural sweetness, without a lot of added fat or calories.
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic
3 small beets
4 small sweet potatoes
½ head cauliflower (only if it’s local!)
good sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Mince the garlic and add to olive oil. Let sit.
3. Cut the vegetables into similar size pieces (this will ensure that they cook at the same rate). Place on large baking sheet.
4. Pour oil and garlic mixture over vegetables and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with salt.
5. Roast vegetables in the oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, removing pan from oven every so often to toss. Cook until the vegetables are soft and caramelized.
6. Garnish generously with sea salt and your favorite herb.
Serve the roasted vegetables alone as a side dish, or on top a bed of quinoa or rice with a protein source for a complete meal. You can even cool them down slightly and use them in a salad of rice or cous cous with dried herbs and lemon dressing. No matter how you choose to eat them, you will be doing your body a huge favour by feeding it with heat! It’s one delicious way to keep the cold out this winter, and stay away from those bananas!