These foods are mainstays in my kitchen. They are nutrient dense, versatile, delicious, easily available and encourage lots of raw snacks and meals that only require minutes of preparation.
These raw staples don't need to be paired with all raw foods. For example, the nori sheet (my favorite) can be wrapped around a baked sweet potato or steamed quinoa with some cultured veggies and arugula. Before you can say "delicious," you've just had raw seaweed, cultured veggies, and greens. You've accomplished what we've set out to do, to eat more raw foods at home. That's my big tip: stock up on easy versatile items and apply liberally to other raw foods or to your organic, whole, cooked favorites. I have always found the more raw foods you start to incorporate the more raw food you will crave and the more you will become accustomed to buying them and whipping them up habitually.
1. Cultured vegetables
Cultured (or fermented) vegetables are one of the best foods for you. You are likely familiar with kimchi and sauerkraut, but any vegetable can be fermented by soaking it in a brine. Cultured vegetables are a supreme source of enzymes and probiotics that build immunity, improve digestion and nutrient absorption, create glowing skin and improve mood. I eat them at least once a day straight out of the jar, on a raw cracker, in a salad, in a wrap, atop a soup or in a bowl.
This sea vegetable has many more minerals and nutrients than land plants. It is one of the easiest assimilated sources of minerals and is an awesome plant source of iron, calcium and iodine. Nori is a detoxifier, alkalizer, lymphatic cleanser and liver and thyroid supporter. Think of raw nori wraps as your new toast, wrap, or taco — they will house any savory desires in a lightly salty and crisp way. My favorite of course is to just fill it with more raw food, like avocado, shaved veggies and herbs, miso paste, spiced nut blends, and greens.
Raw cacao is rich in minerals, making happy chemicals for your brain, and antioxidants. It is extremely energizing, joy-promoting and stress-relieving. The most fun I have with raw food is making chocolate. It can be made in minutes, and I add medicinal herbs, superfoods, flowers, and fruit. I also love a nut milk chocolate malt shake in the morning. I typically make my chocolate with an organic stevia and coconut oil base so that I get all the minerals, antioxidants, good fat, energy and hormone support of cacao without the glycemic hit and extra calories.
Avocados are an incredible source of good fats — we need to let our 90's fat-free consciousness go! These fats feed the brain and nervous system, and they aid in hormone production. Avocados are perhaps the easiest, most versatile, and biggest crowd pleaser of all raw foods. The obvious way to eat them is with raw veggies and greens in a nori wrap or on raw crackers, but some of my favorite avocado moments are actually in deserts. I keep peeled avocado halves in my freezer and add them to my blender instead of banana to thicken smoothies. I also love making chocolate pudding with and raw key lime pie filling with an avocado base.
Loaded with minerals and good fats, these nuts are particularly great for the brain, skin, bones and mental health. The cashew is perfect for dressing up raw veggies with abating creamy decadence. I always activate my cashews before use, which means I soak them overnight. This makes them easier to digest and washes away the acid that can leave you feeling bloated. If I am going to roll right into a recipe like milk, cheese, dressing or ice cream I rinse them off and send them to the blender. If I'm going to put them to future use and want to have activated dried cashew on hand for impromptu cooking or snacking, I dehydrate them and put them in the pantry. You can replace anything that contains dairy with a blended cashew. In fact, cashew milk is creamy enough that you don't need to strain through a bag before enjoying!
7. Green leaves
This is what it's all about: how many green leaves and herbs you can get in a day! The key to success here is keeping green leaves washed and on hand in abundance. My fridge is full of herbs like basil, parsley and cilantro to toss raw into anything I make, from soup to fruit salads. I always have arugula on hand to toss with cultured veggies, olive oil, arugula, seaweed and hemp seeds. Arugula is my catch-all; Italians have pasta, I have arugula, and we use them in the same ways.