For some people, the term “raw food” brings visions of carrot sticks and bitter-tasting green concoctions.
Certified raw food chef instructor Beth Wilke was determined to strip away such misconceptions about cooking and consuming whole foods in her “Spring Into Raw Food Workshop.”
The event took place Sunday at Santosha Yoga in Chesterfield Township. Attendees were able to learn how consuming a greater quantity of whole fruits, vegetables and other natural foods can help fight disease, assist with weight loss, improve athletic performance and even prevent some common health problems. According to Wilke, following a fresh, whole plant food diet is also the most natural, simple way to detoxify your body.
“It’s a great way to spring-clean your internal body along with spring-cleaning your home,” Wilke said. “Eating raw is a great way to jump-start cleansing of the body and lighten it up for the seasons to come.”
According to Wilke, incorporating healthier foods that nourish and clean the body is key to feeling your best. She said that following a raw food diet does not require extra spending, time or effort. Rather, it takes having a different mindset. Her new cookbook Sensational Raw Foods in 10 Minutes or Less offers numerous quick and simple recipes to help jump-start a healthier lifestyle.
“This is not gourmet raw-cooking,” she said. “It’s about simplicity.”
Wilke suggests making your own almond milk from raw almonds and water. Unlike processed, pasteurized versions sold in most health food stores, Wilke said that homemade versions are more flavorful, nutritious, affordable and can be prepared in about three minutes.
“We’re already eating fruits and vegetables, but were not eating enough,” Wilke said. “Eating raw is just a way to incorporate more of them to meet dietary guidelines. For most people, it’s about finding more creative ways to bring in that required amount."
Not opposed to natural food markets like Whole Foods, Wilke recognizes the benefits of choosing organic products when possible. However, she advises people who prefer to shop at mainstream grocery stores to learn how to properly clean and prepare nonorganic foods instead of reaching for unhealthy, prepackaged options.
“I recommend organic for the purpose of ensuring people don’t take in unnecessary toxic chemicals, herbicides or additives," she said. "Is it my directive that’s the only thing people should buy? Absolutely not.”
One mistake many people make is assuming that one salad constitutes an adequate daily vegetable intake. Wilke said some of her first-time clients once followed unhealthy diets that included no fruits or vegetables at all. Adding even one more serving of whole foods each day can make a noticeable improvement in health, said Wilke, who follows a completely raw diet. She even makes her own crackers, ice cream, candy and milk at home from fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and other nutrient-rich ingredients.
Wilke said the reason most people opt for convenience foods is that they were never taught how to make natural choices.
She said, “My hope is to raise that percentage of people who see how simple and easy it is to bring raw foods into their diet. There is nothing radical about it. It’s just going back to the way our ancestors used to eat.”
Santosha Yoga owner Theresa May was excited about the workshop.
“When I was going through my yoga teacher training, I went through a 28-day cleanse where I only ate non-processed foods. I was amazed at the new energy and positive change in my body, so I can only imagine the health benefits of a complete raw food diet."
For more information on Wilke’s program, visit www.sensationalrawfooddiet.com.