On the Rawtarian Facebook page, Shalini S. recently asked a great question:
I would love to hear what a typical raw food day is like for you. How much time do you devote to preparing raw foods?"
This is a great question because preparing foods can seem like an overwhelming mystery when first going raw. Especially when you read recipes that contain those disappointing tidbits like, "Sprout for three days" or "Dehydrate for 24-48 hours."
I've gone through different phases throughout my raw journey over the past 5 years. I am now in Phase 3. All times include clean up.
Phase 1: Basic with a side of Nut Pate (0-6 months raw)
I recommend that everyone start out simply using a blender and a food processor. Don't tackle dehydrating right away, but know that it is there for when you get bored of the simple route.
- Huge green smoothie for breakfast (10 minutes)
- Other smoothie for snacks or desserts (10 minutes)
- Big salads with nuts and a dressing (10 minutes for salad + make a dressing once or twice a week - takes 10 minutes)
- Vegetable plates (lots of cut up veggies, like carrots, mushroom, brocolli etc) with salad dressing and some nuts and olives on the side (10 minutes)
- Lots of fruit as snacks (exciting fruit, like grapes, pineapple, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, etc.) (5 minutes)
- Simple nut pates made in food processor (like raw tuna salad or raw vegetable cream cheese) (15 minutes to make nut pate - I never really soak the nuts beforehand unless integral to recipe - too busy/lazy) (10 minutes to actually prepare meal around the pate)
- Nice salad dressings and dips to make things interesting (like raw ranch dressing) (15 minutes)
- Basic truffles when I wanted something special (15 minutes, including clean-up)
I didn't have a high-speed blender during this time. I did not have a dehydrator either.
I used a food processor and low-speed blender for most of this stuff. It didn't take too much time, actually. I shopped once a week. I cut up and washed a lot of veggies. I made nut pates every couple of days and had them for dinner. Nut pates always lasted me for a couple of days so I didn't have to make one every day.
I worked full-time during this time. I bought a lot of giant, nice freshly-made salads from the grocery store -- pretty cheap too. I would stop at the grocery store in the morning before work and that would be my lunch followed by some fruit as part of my lunch. When I got home I'd just take the nut pate out of the fridge and prepare something with the nut pate for dinner.
Phase 2: Trying more complicated things (6 months - 2 years)
After I had demonstrated to myself that I could go raw for six months, I invested in a dehydrator and VitaMix blender. I started to spend more time making interesting raw goodies at this time, because I had become bored with cold nut pates after about 6 months.
- Huge green smoothie for breakfast (10 minutes including clean-up)
- Fruit as snack (1 minute)
- Crackers and other dehydrated yummies for lunch (3 hours on weekends + dehydrator time)
- Some sauces and nut pates to adorn the dehydrated items (15 minutes each, usually made on weekend as well)
- Dinner: dehydrated delicacies, like raw meatloaf, raw veggie burgers, I always had crackers on hand with lots of veggies too (Already dehydrated things and made most sauces on weekend - so just 15 minutes to pull together)
- Fancier desserts, like raw cheesecake (made on weekend - 1 hour + setting time)
Phase 2 is a very important phase to go through! You will end up dedicating more time than normal re: making dehydrated items and other items that have to sit and harden or sprout etc., but for me it was very important to be able to have SAD tasting food that really got me excited so I was happy to dedicate more time to food prep because I felt the payoff was worth it.
Dehydrating became my hobby for a bit there, I would love to take a few hours on the weekend to prepare some food and place it in my dehydrator for the following week. It was my hobby and I enjoyed it. I never dehydrated on the weekdays -- I just dehydrated on the weekends when I had time.
I made lots of kale chips! (20 minutes + dehydrator time)
Phase 3: Simplification (2 years +)
- Huge green smoothie for breakfast (10 minutes)
- Fresh fruit as morning snack, perhaps some nuts too (1 minute)
- Lunch - big salad with sprinkling of nuts, sprouted grains, etc. Nice dressing or avocado - Fruit as a dessert after lunch (10 minutes)
- Snack - more fruit - 2 oranges maybe (1)
- Dinner - Lots of vegetables, usually incorporates a nut pate or sauce of some kind - Might be big salad or raw BLT sandwiches or raw egg salad sandwiches on romaine lettuce or kelp noodles and alfredo sauce with simple side salad (sliced spinach with cucumber, very very easy to put together) or mac and cheese (15 minutes to pull meal together - if I need to make raw sauce etc from scratch takes another 15 minutes)
- Dessert - A slice of simple raw dessert, like raw brownies, raw chocolate fudge or a fruit bowl etc. (15 minutes max)
I am currently in Phase 3 and am very happy with how I'm eating now (which is quite simply compared to how I used to eat in Phase 2). I haven't been dehydrating much at all over the past couple of months because I got burnt out of dehydrating when I was working on Raw Dehydrating 101 because I was literally dehydrating every day for weeks and weeks testing recipes! It was crazy.
Also, now I know that I CAN make delicious chips if I want them bad enough. But usually I am just too lazy to do so :)
Mostly I am getting more and more into greens, but it has taken me a long time to get here. Right now I just have to have a lot of greens everyday - like tons of spinach and green bell pepper and cucumber and stuff like that.
But I feel that the only reason why I am able to be happy to eat simply is that I know that I can make uber junky delicious raw food if I want to spend the time to do so. So I don't feel cut off from those foods. They feel accessible to me if I want to make them which is all the difference. If I felt that I could never eat raw cheesecake or raw chips I think I would cry. But I know that I can make those any time I want so I feel satisfied staying raw. Plus, I certainly don't crave them as much as I used to.
That being said though, it's very important for everyone to transition through all three phases in the right order.
Start simple, don't dehydrate too soon or you'll get overwhelmed. Get some basic skills under your belt. (Phase 1)
Once you get really bored (say, after 6 months) then you can start to try those more complicated recipes, like pizza and raw cheesecake and stuff like that. (Phase 2)
Then if you feel that you don't need those more complex foods you can ease back into a modified basic eating routine. (Phase 3)
PS: Did you notice that big green smoothies for breaky every morning stayed the same throughout all three phases? I just love my green smoothies. I can't recommend them enough. Get a good blender (VitaMix/Blendtec) and you will love them too.