By Hilary Foley
There has been an explosion of interest worldwide in raw foods and superfoods. People are becoming more aware of their environment, their health and what they are putting into their bodies. There is a movement towards not only natural, wild or organic wholefoods, but also living, raw foods and superfoods.
In this movement, people are pro-actively taking responsibility for their own health by ensuring that they get the best possible nutrition from all the foods that they eat. We strongly believe that the best way to do this is to eat natural, unprocessed food the way nature intended. The raw ingredient for chocolate, the cocoa or cacao bean, in its unaltered state is a superfood and contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any known food by far.
So what are raw foods and superfoods?
Superfoods are vital, nutritionally abundant foods that offer wonderful dietary and healing potential. Superfoods are typically rich in beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants. The antioxidant content of a particular food determines the ability of that food to inhibit the production of harmful free radicals which in turn cause cell damage and disease. Some superfoods will be better known than others in this part of the world. Examples include açai berries, goji berries, mulberries, alfalfa, barleygrass, chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, bee pollen, chia seeds, hemp seeds, maca, lucuma and cacao.
Raw foods, also called living foods, are unprocessed and uncooked foods that have never been heated to temperatures above 42°C and therefore contain more nutrients and active enzymes as they have not been destroyed by the cooking process. Raw foods can include juices, soups, smoothies, salads seaweeds and vegetable pastas. Raw foods may be sundried or gently dehydrated using a dehydrator to make delicious raw pizzas, crackers and desserts. The seemingly endless quantity of simple to prepare, healthy and delicious recipes out there on the internet and in books warrants further investigation.
The beginning of Ireland’s Raw Kitchen
I was first introduced to the world of raw foods about 5 years ago. I really resonated with the concept of a raw food lifestyle; however, the first book I got on the subject was not a great choice. I tried out the “diet” and got very disheartened when I put on over 20 lbs in weight. My body just wasn’t able to cope with all the heavy foods and the amounts of nuts and fats I had started to consume.
I was reintroduced to raw foods during a trip I took to Thailand on a fasting retreat one year later. This time, I learnt more about proper nutrition and food combining and listening to my body’s needs.
However, on my return to Ireland, I completely submerged myself into my work life and forgot all that I had learned about my body’s needs and new diet. I fell very ill later that year and I knew I had to change something in my life. At this stage, I sold my stressful business and set out to create a new balanced life for the future. I focused on eating as much raw food as possible to heal myself without being fanatical about it.
While Ronan and I will never aspire to being die hard 100% raw vegans, we will always make the most nutritious choices available to us in any given situation. We thoroughly enjoy discovering new foods/superfoods and ways to incorporate them into our daily diet. We are very mindful that life is about achieving balance, and balance includes how preoccupied you become about your diet.
The stress some people induce on themselves to maintain a 100% raw diet is unnecessary. Our aim at Ireland’s Raw Kitchen is to educate and create awareness of raw foods and superfoods. We want to make these foods easy and accessible to everyone. We believe absolutely in a holistic approach to life. We believe that just as important as a healthy diet are regular exercise, restful sleep and meditation, respect and compassion for all life on the planet and the pursuit of happiness. We consider each and every one of those elements an integral piece in the jigsaw that makes up the complete picture.