So now we are all to get very excited about eating raw vegetables – they are the latest Big Thing. Raw vegetables contain full spectrum goodness, which, inevitably, cooking partly destroys. However, there is the problem that raw vegetables take quite some digesting to unlock to nutrients, so chomping on a raw carrot is a good thing to do, but to really access that goodness, a bit of fiddling about with the carrot helps.
There are two principal ways of eating raw veggies – the first is to pickle it Asian style and the second is to chop up the vegetable and add a sauce, which makes the vegetable extremely tasty. The Asian pickling involves chopping up chosen vegetable and covering it with things like rice vinegar, soy sauce (gluten free, of course), mirin and maybe a little sugar. A brief salting first helps keep the vegetable crisp and delicious. These pickles need eating up within a few days, but are seriously good for you for the following three reasons: vinegars generally lower the GI of the food, so make it less fattening; the addition of the rice vinegar etc help pre-digest the food, so enabling good access to the nutrients in the vegetables; the third reason lies in the vegetables being raw. Which is where we are going now.
There are three principal benefits to eating raw vegetables: no nutrients are destroyed in the cooking process; their bulk fills up the tummy and encourages us to eat less; being raw, they lower the GI of food, even without the addition of vinegar. However, without the aid of vinegar, they do take some digesting and so it is very important to chew them well to crush the vegetable walls. To aid this, we need to slice/shave/dice or otherwise interact with the vegetables before eating them – and then if we add a sauce, we will find ourselves stuffing down the raw courgettes like no tomorrow.
The latest must have kitchen gadget is a vegetable spiraliser. You push the vegetable onto the holder and gently turn the little handle and your courgette is transformed into long ‘noodles’.
How exciting is that! To make it into something that we’d really eat, we could try adding a nut butter ( if we go into a good health food shop – so not Holland and Barret, then – we will find various nut butters: cashew, almond, Rainforest (principally macadamias), hazelnut and so on), Tamari Soy sauce (gluten free soy sauce), some curry powder, maybe a few raisins and fresh herbs, coriander being the most obvious, but could be parsley or kaffir lime leaves. I spiralised a beetroot, added peanut butter and Tamari Soy Sauce – and promptly stuffed down the whole lot, it was so tasty. Which made my guts grumble when I went to bed that night – oops. Next morning was extremely exciting. So do try to exercise some restraint…..
Of course shaving or other choppings work. But the other great thing about spiralising the veg means we can make vegetable noodles/spaghetti which we can lightly boil and eat with a suitable sauce – like bolognese or marinara or green curry and so on. The spirals are amazingly long, so either chop them up or wear an apron when eating them.
The main raw veg points: chew them well; pickle them; chop them up in some way and add a tasty, simple sauce. As always, eat organic if possible. Yum.