NÄRA No 7, 2016
Food from the plant kingdom is sweet music for the body
We can all influence our health and well-being by eating wisely. And still enjoy! Brightly colored foods. Foods with lots of flavor. Food that is easy to prepare. Åsa Johansson teaches you the way to a healthier, happier and more energy filled life. She herself is a living proof that a raw food diet makes us younger and more energetic.
TEXT: ÅSA JOHANSSON PHOTO: ÅSA HOLSTEIN, SHUTTERSTOCK
What is raw food?
Raw food are only products from the plant kingdom, nothing from animals. Fruits that are fresh or dried, vegetables, leafy greens, root vegetables, nuts, seeds, sea weed, mushrooms, berries, herbs, spices. It is food prepared at a temperature below 42 degrees. So not boiled, fried, baked, grilled, roasted or pasteurized.
The word raw food
Sometimes it is called living food to show that the food is still alive. And it is in fact, as in sprouts and shoots. And also in berries and fruits where you can plant the seeds and get a new plant. But you can get some other associations too! As in larvae, worms, oysters and snails. Same with raw food – steak tartare, raw egg yolks, raw food for animals and live bait for fishing. So I prefer the words raw food, even though it is in English, it solely refers to this diet and that is good.
Raw food contains the nutrients we all need, including chlorophyll – which is sunlight in another form. The raw foods contain live enzymes used for digestion and absorption of nutrients. Here also life force/energy is found. This powerful abstract force we should have in mind when choosing our foods. With raw food, we can not only renew our energy, but also prevent and reverse disease.
The magic with raw food!
The magic is not in the food. It’s just the regular carrots, dill, apples, nuts and blueberries we eat. Instead the magic lies in what our bodies can do when they get optimum nutrition. That’s what’s magical!
When we eat mostly raw food, maybe 75% of our diet, the following can occur:
- A beneficial cleansing.
- Rebuilding and even rejuvenation.
- Many people have gotten rid of their ailments, allergies and healed diseases, even serious and chronic ones.
- You might experience a smooth gastrointestinal system with regularity.
- Improved skin, hair and nails.
- Better sleep.
- A lighter body.
- Increased energy.
The list goes on. And this is what’s magic with raw food. These are the things I am passionate about and what makes me want as many people as possible to experience the advantage with eating raw food. Or at least learn about it, to be able to use the knowledge when it is convenient or when needed.
Rich in taste
Raw food is not just about nutrition, not at all. But sometimes there can of course be a lot of talk about this, just for the great positive impact these foods may have on us.
But the colorful raw food is both very clean and rich in taste as well. And just because the ingredients are unheated, the original minerals are left untouched, they are unspoiled and in them there is a lot of flavor.
You know how greenhouse tomatoes can be quite bland in the winter, and how intensely wonderful a little freshly picked vine-ripened tomato tastes when you put it in your mouth.
The important colors
Oh, all the wonderful colors! We eat with the eyes too.
Light particles bouncing against the inviting colorful fruit platter hit and activate the optic nerves. The signals travel through the optic nerves further to the visual cortex and the brain then puts together a picture. The information goes to the saliva flow center and now the mouth begins to water. Also, the stomach is happy and emits a little stomach acid.
So the colorful dishes are important for us to be interested in eating them. The beautiful colors are also color pigments, which are visible to the naked eye. They are so called antioxidants, which protect us against the free radicals we hear so much about. So it’s important to choose multicolored food. Not only for “protection”, but to further receive greater enjoyment from the food with many delicious flavors.
There are especially many magnificent nutrients in the so-called superfoods. A superfood, is a fruit, root, seaweed, nut or mushroom that has not just one or two unique features, but maybe even up to a dozen different ones. If we look at gojiberries/wolfberries they contain complete protein, immune-stimulating polysaccharides, liver-cleansing betaine, antioxidants, over 20 trace elements and are anti-aging!
We can look upon superfood as both food and medicine, they have elements of both. These are powerful, super concentrated and nutritious foods, which increase vitality and energy. They improve general health, boost the immune system, cleanse and make us alkaline with less acid in the body.
- Aloe vera.
- Bee pollen.
- Chia seeds.
- Wilde harvested greens, like nettles.
- Medicinal mushrooms, like chaga.
I would also like to add cultured vegetables as superfood. Wonderfully beneficial and healthy.
And freshly harvested green leaves from the garden, are both so nutritional and flavorful. Even your ground-elder and dandelion leaves!
The question of how much protein we actually need is constantly debated and the values seem to change frequently. But the building blocks of proteins are chains of amino acids, and amino acids are plentiful in plant-based foods. Vegetables contain every essential amino acid, and also in more quantity than we need. Even the iceberg lettuce has complete protein.
It’s actually hard to put together a low-protein diet for study purposes. Problems however, can often occur with a protein-rich diet. Nature has designed plant food to be complete.
Quality sources of plant-based protein/amino acids: sea weed, chlorella, goji berries, green leaves, hemp seeds, maca, green sprouts, spirulina, nuts and seeds.
“If the people who lived before the modern dietary age, would have had to worry about achieving the correct combination of protein in their diet, our species would not have survived during those millions of years.” John A. McDougall, M.D.
Also, a question that often comes up: “Where do you get your calcium when you don’t eat dairy products? For calcium is needed for strong bones, right? ”
To build bone and avoid osteoporosis, not only calcium is needed, but a whole lot of other minerals, such as manganese and magnesium, and in combination with vitamin D, among others. Protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products are not only low in magnesium and manganese, they also help to erode the bones of calcium taken from there to neutralize the acidity when the intake of them is too great. In order to both obtain and maintain strong bones, my advice is: avoid animal food, salt and caffeine. But be active and move about a lot, preferably outdoors in the sun/daylight, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Sesame seeds and tahini (sesame paste/butter).
Leafy greens – the darker the better such as nettle, parsley and dandelion.
Also rosehip, broccoli, figs, oats and sea weed are excellent sources.
There is something called the acid-alkaline balance. And it is the body’s pH-level we are considering. You can measure it in the urine and in the saliva among others. It is when we become more acid in our bodies that problems can occur. We get acidity from fast food, animal products, coffee, alcohol, wheat, soft drinks, toxins, etc., but also stress has a negative impact and make us “acid”. Choose alkaline foods to balance this.
Best sources of alkaline food:
- Sprouts and shoots.
- Green leaves.
- Red pepper.
Fibers are good, we already know this. And luckily plant foods are high in fiber. Even fibers that we can not digest, but these are so good for our intestines to work with. Fibers which provide resistance, so they can do their work with digestion and removing waste products.
There are dietary fibers that we can not digest, but which the good intestinal bacteria love. It is their “candy”. With this food, they can flourish and spread in the intestines and then there will be less room for the pathogenic bacteria – and that’s good!
The important green leaves
Of course, it is essential with diversity and variation when it comes to eating raw food produce and enjoying the season’s crops. But there are still those ingredients that are more valuable than others, especially when you come from a traditional diet.
And it is all the leafy greens!
They are so important to us with all their chlorophyll, minerals, amino acids (protein). Furthermore they make our bodies alkaline and provide a balance in relations to fruits (carbohydrate), and nuts and seeds (fats and protein).
And as I said, we usually get too little of them. As you can see, I constantly come back to “the green leaves.”
- Drink a big glass of green juice, a large green smoothie or eat a giant green salad every day.
- Green leaves that make you happy are: Curly lettuce, sprouts, kale, maché, chard, romaine, red lettuce, arugula/rocket, sunflower sprouts, spinach, lacinato/dinosaur kale, pea sprouts.
- Herbs such as basil, lemon balm, dill, cilantro, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme.
- All wild, edible green leaves like, plantain, ground elder, dandelion, nettle leaves.
Like an orchestra
But what is important is not only the amazing individual substances that raw food contains, but it is the synergy effect we get when we eat a variety of foods from the plant kingdom. It’s like an orchestra, where the importance is not in a single instrument playing, instead it is all of them together that makes beautiful music.
So it is with our food too. The individual nutrients are so much more powerful when they act together and support each other. They make wonderful “music”, wonderfully functioning organs in our bodies.
It is easy to feel good!
I hope that you have been inspired to eat more veggies! To look at raw food as a valuable and wonderfully tasting tool to have more energy and to feel good.
Do take the opportunity to enjoy and try different vegetables, leaves, fruits, nuts, berries and make beautiful colorful dishes from the summer’s and autumn’s wonderful bounty!
- Raw food is easy to make.
- Easy to clean up.
- No cooking smells in the kitchen.
- No need to watch the food so it does not burn or cooks too long.
- No need to stress having all dishes ready and warm at the same time. Everything can instead be served at room temperature.
- Raw food is kind to animals and nature.
- And so beautiful and delicious!
Eat right – feel full on raw food!
Many people wonder if raw food can fill them up. Yes it can! But there are some conditions:
- When you start with a lot of raw food in the diet, perhaps 75% or more, it takes a little time to “fill up the nutrient depots”. With raw food, you not only eat highly nutritious, but it is completely organic and easy to absorb as well. It takes a while to get used to that when you have eaten enough of a meal, there is no feeling of weight as if you had a piece of meat in the stomach. The meat takes time and energy to digest and you feel a heaviness in your gut. Not so with raw food – it melts faster, easier, and gives no loss of energy that way. This is lovely once you get used to it.
- When you start with a high raw food diet, eat a lot of food and often. You can not survive on just three meals on the first and second week on raw. Bring snacks, such as banana and dried fruit, nuts and seeds, cucumber and carrot sticks, apples or smoothies. Then you’ll have more energy and can manage between meals. A raw food desserts to offer your colleagues on a coffee break is always appreciated!
- Choose foods that satiates and adds fullness/weight. Make breakfast porridge on buckwheat or whole oat groats as base. They keep you full for a long time. Add vegetables with lots of fiber as parsnips, carrots, zucchini to your lunch salad. Eat crackers made from seeds such as flax seed, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. They are crunchy, keep you full and are a great accessory or snack. Top with avocado slices or tahini/sesame paste – yummy!
- Familiarize yourself with food that provides lots of nutrients and select it often. It could be all the nice green leaves, sprouts and shoots, try seaweed and sprinkle over your salad and soup, familiarize yourself with a superfood and use it regularly. Learn to make cultured foods. Make vegetable juices – this is concentrated nutrition.
“The food we eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”
Ann Wigmore, raw food founder
Delicious recipes in the next issue!
We hope that many people have been inspired by Åsa Johansson’s lovely raw food school. In the next issue of Nära magazine she offers her best recipes!
Chat about raw food 29/9
Åsa Johansson has written several books on raw food, runs the site onthelime.com and offers courses on raw food. On September 29 at 4-5 PM, you can chat with her! Get help from Åsa to find your best way to better health! Go to: www.tidningennara.se/chatt.