Breaking down how to go 'raw'

Breaking down how to go 'raw'

A column by Emmanuelle Sawko and Alexandra de Moutaudoin

What is the best diet on earth and how to make it work? What works and what does not? How can one rock 'n’ roll through life, look fit, vibrant and healthy… Comptoir 102 reveals the latest food trend, and breaks it down for you

Going 'Raw' seems to be the latest fad in the endless list of seasonal diets or "how to fit my body into a bikini 3 month before beach test" articles. At Comptoir 102, we see diet as a way of life – and believe that your body deserves to be beach-proof all year round. Because we believe a healthy diet is a way of life and not a quick fix.

Raw-foodism has always been around, constantly being rediscovered since fire started to spark in ancient grottos. In the late 1800s, Maximilian Bircher-Benner discovered he could cure his own jaundice by eating raw apples (and possibly cutting back on the heavy meat diet). This then kick started a series of experiments testing the effects of raw food on human health, and the diet has continued to evolve.

The 70s brought it back on the scene in a big way, making sprouts sounding cool – and it stayed an underground trend for tree-huggers ever since.

We remember in the early 00s getting a daily green fix at stands in Spitalfields or Borough Markets in London. I would be waiting about 45 minutes for cucumbers and celery stalks to be juiced slow motion by hipsters with nice tats but little energy. The raw vegan crowd then was friendly and über-cool, teaching yoga – even before the mass teacher training started – but had terribly bad teeth (blame it on fruit acids) and a skinny-fat body that wouldn't take them anywhere fast.

Ten years later, however, 'Raw' has become what seems to be the ultimate diet whether you want to cure any kind of disease (including cancer, Parkinson's and diabetes), get slim or skip bi-annual Botox shots.

Diets such as the Paleo, 'Caveman', 'Raw Vegan' and, 'Detox' are all based on 70 to 100% raw food – which is all the craze again.


The Raw Food Technique

The aim: Cure diseases, lose weight, save on plastic surgery bill.

The claim: Raw food is packed with all the natural enzymes and nutrients that help the body reach the best health-and normally you lose a lot of weight.

The theory: Raw food hasn't been cooked, processed, microwaved or – hopefully – rradiated. The diet includes fresh fruits, berries, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and herbs in their whole, natural state. Sometimes animal products are included. Proponents say cooking gets rid of most of the vitamins in food and nearly all of the immune-boosting plant nutrients. RRE (Radical Raw Enthusiasts) say that cooking is evil, cooked food is dead and making your body rot before turning you into zombies. In extreme cases they may be right.


What can you eat?

Anything raw. Raw advocates believe the human body has not evolved since prehistoric era and fire and cooking are basically a gross historical mistake. Therefore, we should stick to a pre-fire diet.

Paleo followers will include meat and fish as it is quite well documented that the Paleolithic crowd was enjoying carpaccios and sashimis with their greens but skip grains, pulses or dairy.

Vegans will not consume any animal products but frequently include sprouted grains and legumes in their salad bowls.

All raw food eaters normally consume lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, seeds, weed (mostly seaweed), nuts and most fats (cold pressed oils, coconut butter).


How does the Raw Food Diet work?

In the raw diet, food is never heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. If you thought you could save some cooking time, think again. To avoid the monotony of salads, raw-foodists dry, soak, dehydrate and make most preparation from scratch. This lifestyle requires dedication and time to spend in the kitchen; many raw recipes are actually more complicated than their cooked counterpart.

Some ingredients can also be tricky to find in their raw state too sometimes, and one must be careful when choosing nuts and seeds, honey, oils and even some cereals.


What we think about it...

We think that going raw is fantastic because it sounds like it's what nature intended. We would live naked, have walks in the meadows, foraging and picking up our meals, feed on wild berries, munch on yummy roots and quench on dew.

And then world got real. Isabel Marant outfits, good bread and dinners with friends.

A 100% raw food can also get monotonous, time-consuming and ending up with fat counting for as much as 80% of the total calorie intake (coconut, avocado, oils, nuts and seeds being the main staples of raw cuisine) So yes, raw food contains indeed many nutrients and vitamins that cooking destroys.

Moreover, when you eat food in its raw state, the body recognises it as "safe" and gets ready to digest, producing special enzymes. When you start your meal with cooked food, your body reacts against it and produces hyper leukocytosis (basically meaning that it reacts against it).

However, if you start with raw, you can then have food that has been cooked lightly or steamed afterwards with the white blood cell count staying within normal range.


How to include raw in your lifestyle...

Always start your meals with raw food. Let it be fruit for breakfast, a salad as a starter for lunch or even just a piece of cucumber while you're cooking dinner. This will tell your body to, "relax, this is just food", so it knows not to overreact and send the white blood cells count up.

It's also good to increase your amount of raw food and have 100% raw meals once in a while.

Try a raw breakfast for example (like the Budwig we serve at Comptoir 102), or our raw pizza, and get into the habit of having a bit more raw everyday. Another great way to load up on vitamins and minerals is to juice your greens and drink your salad. Green juices can be great addition to your diet.


Comptoir 102 ' raw' recipe of the month

Crème Budwig: Using only a blender.

1. Mix of 3 teaspoons of: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

2. Once blended, add an organic banana, an organic apple and 1 teaspoon of linseed oil. Blend again, adding a few drops of lemon.

3. Once you have a creamy texture, top your Crème Budwig with the fresh fruits you like. 

Et voilà.  

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