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Eat Clean Tuesdays: The Power of RAW Vegetables

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arugulasaladWhen it comes to veggies, the question I’m asked most (beside, do I have to?) is should they be eaten raw rather than cooked? The simple answer in most cases is yes…most of the time.  I like to see vegetables eaten raw more than 50% of the time, and when cooked, I recommend following the specific guidelines below to preserve as many nutrients as possible.

However, cooking isn’t all bad.  In fact, it can make some nutrients more available for absorption, can reduce gastric distress in those who have a difficult time digesting them, and can add variety to your menu.  I know I look forward to weekly stir-fries with flavorful cooked vegetables.

As most of you know, I recommend a lot of vegetables.  Eating 1/2-plate of vibrantly colored vegetables, with healthy fats and protein on the side is the foundational principle of eating “light at night” for a lean weight.  I also often recommend vegetables in place of grains and pastas (zucchini and spaghetti squash pasta, cauliflower rice, etc.). This is in addition to other servings of vegetables throughout the day.

This week, you’ll find a wonderful Arugula Power Salad recipe, and my tips for tapping into RAW power:

Apex Healthy Fuel Recipe: Delicious Arugula Power Salad

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups young arugula leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta cheese
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large avocado – peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 3-4 ounces cooked meat (grass-fed/organic if possible), 3-4 ounces cooked salmon or 1 can light tuna, 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1/2 cup beans, OR 2 ounces firm tofu
Instructions:
  1. Combine all ingredients from arugula through cheese in a large plastic bowl with a lid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and shake to mix.
  2. Divide salad onto plates, and top with meat/protein and slices of avocado.

Comments:
As I stated above, I don’t require raw vegetables 100% of the time.  However, as long as you tolerate them without significant digestion issues, I do recommend raw more often than not.  Here are 5 Ways to increase raw vegetables in your diet:

  1. Add them into smoothies. Add raw kale, spinach, beets, eggplant, and more into any smoothie.  For a mild taste, start with just 1 cup spinach.
  2. Always include a simple raw veggie at lunch.  A carrot is the easiest option.  Don’t peel.  Just wash, pack, and eat.  Other options include delicious mini sweet bell pepper or cut up bell pepper strips, snap peas, and more.
  3. Make sauces that include raw vegetables at home rather than buying commercial varieties.  For example, try this delicious and easy salsa and pesto.  We’re talking raw garlic, onions, spinach, tomatoes, and more!
  4. Try juicing! If you’ve got a juicer, make good use of it by juicing vegetables.  This is different from adding whole vegetables to smoothies, because some of the vegetable will be lost, but you do increase the bioavailability (absorbability) of some nutrients WITHOUT cooking them.
  5. Make “Light at Night” a habit for dinner.  This means 1/2 a dinner plate of vegetables (raw salads at least 50% of the time) with protein on the side and healthy fats for flavor (olive oil, avocados, seeds, etc.).

When you do want cooked vegetables, follow these 6 Rules for cooking vegetables from one of my favorite sites, www.whfoods.com.  In fact, you can find more on this subject and a chart for preserving nutrient power of specific vegetables here.

“Is it true that vegetables are particularly sensitive to cooking methods?”

Yes! The nutritional and healing properties of vegetables are in special need of your help when it comes to proper cooking technique! Here are our six cardinal rules for preserving the power of vegetables:

  1. Don’t pre-soak vegetables to make them tender. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water can be lost by pre-soaking.
  2. Cook vegetables in as little water as possible. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
  3. Leave vegetables in contact with water for as little time as possible. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
  4. Balance heat and water contact. If you use high heat, keep water contact at a minimum, either by steaming, or baking in a dry oven. If you use low heat, you can allow more water contact. For example, simmering is okay because you bring the water to a boil and then turn down the temperature. But never boil on high heat with direct water contact for more than a few minutes. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
  5. Use the Color Power test: when vegetables become more vivid in their colors, with brighter greens and yellows and reds, the power of the vegetables is being enhanced. When the colors begin to pale or become lost, the power is also being lost.
  6. Think tender, not soft. Tender is what your digestive system needs with several types of vegetables, especially those with tough stems and stalks. But soft almost always means less healing power.

When it comes to raw vs. cooked vegetables, I’m a both/and kind of gal.  Eat vegetables for the plethora of nutrients that have been shown to improve and protect health from the cellular level on up in study after study.  Eat more raw than cooked.  Eat them throughout the day, daily.  Eat a variety of colors.  Make them a staples of your diet.  Eat to be nourished and healthy, tapping into the RAW power of vegetables.  Stay well and keep overcoming!

Eat Clean. Train Mean. Get Lean. ~Fresh Fit Life~

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image c/o: the-whole-picture.com

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