The Sassy Sandpiper: Summer Raw Foodie
The Sassy Sandpiper indulges in the bounty of a summer garden.
By M.R. Wilson, Columnist, TB Reporter
I don’t cook much in the hot summer months. (In Florida, that’s roughly between May and November.) Who wants to “slave over a hot stove,” with steam searing your face, or suffer the heat of an oven? No, thank you, very much.
I prefer saving time and money in air conditioning costs by reaching for food au natural, freshly washed and uncooked. I’m blessed with an innate love of raw edibles. My Dad used to tease me unmercifully, crinkling his nose and calling my salad “rabbit food.”
There are folks who have never eaten a raw vegetable in their lives. (“That’ll make ya foul sick!”) Or even worse, they’ve only eaten them cooked to the death of all goodness and nutrition. For example, cooking spinach destroys its Vitamin C. There are, however, notable exceptions to my raw-preference bias, among them carrots and corn.
Never fear going hungry or not getting enough protein. Unroasted nuts will surprise you with their rich flavors, so sadly diminished by processing. You can buy them in bulk in many farmers markets, grocery stores or online. I love Brazil nuts (just four a week are helpful in holding your cholesterol levels in check), hazelnuts, macadamias, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas, so many others. Truly, I never met a nut I didn’t like.
I was first introduced to the idea of a raw food diet by former St. Petersburg Times staff writer Jeanne Malmgren. In 2000, she wrote about eating mounds of shredded raw potatoes. (Unfortunately, the article has been removed from the Internet.) I wanted to try it. Delicious with a little salt!
We humans still like crunch in our diets, and raw food has the added benefit of making our microbiome happy. I eat several spears of raw asparagus every day, usually as a prelude to breakfast. Don’t discard the stems of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, either. Our microscopic gut community thrives on them!
No clue where to start? The perimeter of your grocery store (the inner aisles are loaded up with the processed stuff mistakenly called “food”), farmers markets, and little roadside stands are your hunting grounds. There are countless inspiring cookbooks available; two I especially like are Susan Power’s Rawmazing and Mike Snyder’s Rawsomely Vegan! You’ll find information and inspiration on social media, too. I first encountered Johanna Sophia, CEO at Johanna’s Raw Foods, while watching The Search for Sustainability. I was so impressed, I looked her up. To my delight, she responded almost immediately. Johanna’s energy and enthusiasm are contagious. Don’t forget Florida’s own summer fruits and vegetables: avocados, bananas, basil, cantaloupe, callaloo, chiles, grapes, green beans, onions and more.
Raw food is fun because you can forget the silverware. We all secretly like to eat with our hands. It’s a primate thing. Go ahead. A juicy tomato eaten like an apple over the sink and sea-salted pistachios make for a whole new level of finger lickin’ good.
Main photo courtesy of M.R. Wilson.
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