Tag: raw veggies

Raw Veggies Vs. Cooked: Does It Matter For Gut Health?

what do I eat today liquids

We know that eating more veggies can boost the number of friendly bacteria in your gut. But what’s a mystery to most people is if how we prepare our veggies affects gut health in any way. “V” reveals if there’s a winner between raw veggies or cooked plant-based foods. 

If you’re a nutrition research geek like me, you’ve probably come across lots of studies on intermittent fasting, vegetarian diets, keto diets and other types of eating protocols. But if there’s one type of food study that’s as rare as finding a perfectly round pearl in an oyster, it’s this subject…

Is there a difference between eating raw plants versus cooked veggies? As I’m writing this, it’s August, or as I like to call this time of year, Rawgust! Because it’s so hot out, it’s the best time of year to consume a raw, plant-based diet. All I know is that when it’s 100 degrees outside, the last thing I want to do is slave over a hot stove, cooking up a huge slab of meat. Nope, this time of year, it’s all smoothies, mocktails and salads (and maybe a gazpacho or two).

So I like to go with my gut and listen to what my body is craving—as long as the craving is for something healthy. But beyond my intuition, is there any research to back up my craving for raw food? Will going raw any time of year support the trillions of friendly bacteria in my gut microbiome?

Well, it got me wondering? So I did my best nutritional Sherlock Holmes investigating. Unfortunately, the trail went cold. But I persisted and eventually found what is believed to be the first study to bring up this nutritional debate.


Raw Vs Cooked Veggies For Gut Health

Before we get into the research, chew on this…

Horses don’t eat cooked food. Neither do chimps or gorillas. Yet they’re strong as bulls. In fact, humans are the only animals that cook their food. Many paleontologists believe our human ancestors developed bigger brains precisely when eating cooked food became the norm. In the hundreds of thousands of years since, our gut microbiomes have been influenced largely from cooking bones and meat.

It’s no wonder that there has hardly been any research looking into the effects of raw plants on the gut microbiome.

But finally, in 2019, researchers from Harvard University put that question to the test … at least in mice, not humans. And the results were not what I expected.

What the researchers discovered was that the mice who ate raw sweet potatoes essentially committed murder on several of their gut species.

But if there’s one thing that drives me a little nuts is when I hear people say that raw food is hard for the body to digest. That might be true if you’re trying to eat a raw, high-starch veggie like a potato or sweet potato. I’m definitely not suggesting eating raw potatoes.

Why the researchers didn’t give the mice lots of other raw veggies, like say, lettuce, I can’t explain. I also have no clue why more research hasn’t been done on the effects of raw veggies on the gut microbiome versus cooked veggies.

veronica and kale

Eating Raw in Rawgust: Benefits

Now let me ask you something. If you’ve been partying in June and July like it’s 1999 and your digestion, energy and skin need a reboot, what do you think is better for you: cooked meat or salad?

Of course a diet high in raw veggies is much easier on your system than cooked meat. Now I admit, there are a few veggies that you may have a harder time digesting raw rather than cooked. This is especially true of the nightshade veggies:

  • Peppers (it doesn’t matter what kind or what color)
  • Tomatoes
  • Egglplant
  • Potatoes (which we covered)

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of raw broccoli either. But when it comes to green, leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, collard greens, lettuce, parsley, chard and dandelion, the research doesn’t lie. There are so many health benefits of the 7 leafy greens that are featured in Organic Green Drink that I could write a book about it.

In fact, I sort of did: a cookbook, Making Cleansing Easier, which features an intro that talks about several of these health benefits.

The bottom line is that if you want a health makeover, let the sizzling summer months be the perfect time to boost your intake of raw veggies. Your gut microbiome will thank you for it.

It’s RAWGUST! Summer is the Best Time for Raw Food

raw food for summer

Thinking about doing a cleanse? Going raw vegan in summer is easy and can help detoxify your body before, during and after the cleanse.

There’s a misconception about me….

Some people describe me as a vegan chef.

Maybe it’s because another Chef Veronica out there. But she’s a low fat vegan chef. Personally, as a certified nutritional therapist, I don’t think low fat diets are very healthy.

Or, maybe because my first job, at age 15, was working at a vegetarian restaurant.

But I’m not vegan nor 100% vegetarian. 

However, I do love and advocate the vegan diet.

Going raw and vegan in summer (or anytime of year, really) is like pouring fuel cleaner into your car.

Meat, especially non-organic meat, gunks up your transmission; it’s much harder on your digestive system. Consequently, when you eat lots of meat, it can slow down your liver’s natural detoxification abilities.

So you can use my recipes for giving your system a cleanse while feeling like your indulging.

Especially now because as I write this, it’s the heart of summer: the best time to do a cleanse.

One of the keys to successfully doing a cleanse—anytime of the year—is to not feel like you’re missing out.

raw veggies

Going Raw Vegan in Summer

And when you learn to make raw vegan recipes that taste just as good as their non-vegan cooked alternatives, you definitely won’t feel like you’re punishing yourself doing a cleanse.

Eating raw makes you feel lighter. Which helps if you’ve fallen off the wagon as of late, like I did during my three-week trip to Europe eating decadent meals.

Here’s another plus of going raw in summer: cutting down on electric bills. The last thing you want to do when it’s really hot outside is turning on the oven to 425 degrees to bake, say, a salmon fillet.

Sure, you might have air conditioning. But where I live, in San Diego, many people don’t have it. Especially those people who live near the coast. Even if you do have A/C, though, you’ll save money by not using your oven.

What is Raw Food?

Technically, raw food is prepared at a temperature that won’t destroy naturally-occurring compounds and enzymes. There’s some debate as to what that magic number is.

But most raw foodists consider 104 degrees (fahrenheit) to be the maximum cooking temperature.

Therefore, if you like broccoli but not when it’s completely raw, you can lightly cook it.

You can also buy a food dehydrator to make raw food snacks such as dried fruit. However, here’s where the raw food temperature debate comes into play.

Dehydrated raw food still qualifies as raw by some people even though the dehydration temperature is usually between 105 and 115.

And don’t get me started about raw almonds. That’s for a whole other blog topic.

(Raw almonds really aren’t raw; they are pasteurized.)

Don’t get caught up in the technicality of what is and isn’t raw food.

If it’s something that comes directly from the ground or a tree, and is, at worst, very minimally processed, then I consider it a raw food.

In other words, if it’s a fruit or vegetable or nut or seed, it’s raw. Or, if it’s a byproduct of any of these, cooked at an ultra low temperature, it’s also raw to me.

raw vegan greens

Going Raw Vegan in Summer: Isn’t Going Raw Enough?

Most raw food is very easy for your belly to digest, with maybe the exception of nightshade veggies like peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.

That’s why introducing plenty of raw vegan foods into your diet when you are cleansing is smart.

But isn’t going raw enough? Why also vegan? Can’t I eat raw cheese during a cleanse?

Great questions! Glad you asked 🙂

Yes, raw dairy is an option. But like raw almonds, raw dairy really isn’t raw, according to raw foodie purists.

The more important point is that dairy, even if it’s raw is not ideal for cleansing. In fact, I suggest you completely avoid dairy for at least 3-7 days before you start a cleanse.

Dairy gums up the works. If your liver is sluggish, eating cheese certainly isn’t going to help it release toxins faster.

Going Raw Vegan in Summer: Here’s What I’m Eating Now

Hardly anybody wants to eat hot soup in summer. Or drink scalding bone broth.

But a light yet satisfying cold soup is just what Mother Nature calls for this time of year.

That’s why I love gazpacho in summer.

And here’s one of my favorites: Raw Cucumber Cilantro Avocado Gazpacho. I know, sounds like a mouthful, right? Well, it’s got a huge taste.

For a main course, how about some pasta. Pasta … That’s not raw, is it? And it’s not vegan if it’s got ricotta in it.

But my Raw Pesto Lasagna with Macadamia Ricotta contains zoodles, not noodles. Check out the recipe to see how I make a raw vegan ricotta!

Finally, it’s time for dessert. I’m a sucker for cheesecake. But obviously, regular cheesecake is a no-no when you’re cleansing.

To get my healthy dessert on, I’m making this Raw Caramel Cheesecake.

Yes, it’s possible to enjoy a decadent-tasting dessert while doing your own cleanse?

Now, I feel I have to clarify something important here. If you’re doing one of my 3, 5 or 7 day cleanses, you’re sticking to Organic Green Drinks, Vegan Protein Shakes and Detox Soups.

But before and after the official cleanse is over, treat yourself with one of these delicious raw vegan desserts.

Follow these recipes to a T, or, pardon the corny pun, to a V, and you’ll have no problem going raw vegan in summer!

Chef V, Coco and kale

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