If you read last week’s blog post, or you’ve been following along on my Instagram, you’ll know that for the last 5 days I’ve been following a raw vegan diet. This has meant eating only uncooked vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and pre-soaked pulses and legumes. I also made my own almond mylk, peanut butter, energy balls and raw cheesecake to see me through the week! The recipe for the cheesecake is at the end of this post.
I started the week by planning my meals and hitting the supermarket. The total shop came to just under £40, which is quite a bit more than my usual weekly expenditure (about £25) and I’m putting this down mainly to the amount of nuts and dates a bought (for raw cheesecake, mylk and general snacking). But, I do have quite a lot of food left over so I’m thinking I might have gone overboard a little bit!
My days generally started with smoothies for breakfast. I absolutely loved these; I chucked in just about every fruit and vegetable I could and would feel so full after slurping it all up. I also felt pretty smug that I’d managed to fit in all 5 of my 5 a day before 8am.
On the first day, my issues started around about lunch time. My first packed lunch was cauliflower rice (raw blended cauliflower), cherry tomatoes, cucumber, kale and pine nuts as well as an apple and a Nakd bar. But it didn’t fill me up and after trying to fight away hunger all afternoon with bananas, dehydrated vegetable crisps and dates, I was starving by the time I went to the gym at 5pm. And I’m not going to lie, I had an awful gym session. I was lacking in energy, motivation and confidence and after an hour of dragging myself through the workout, I cycled the 40-minute journey home. Normally when I get home from the gym I have a slice of toast with PB and jam, or a small bowl of muesli, but as none of this fitted in with my raw diet, I had some more dates and fixed myself some kale, avocado and red cabbage sushi for dinner. Writing this now, I can absolutely see that this was not enough food. I tried to compensate by gobbling down a slice of raw cheesecake for dessert but I woke up the next morning absolutely wiped out.
I woke up at 6.30am as normal and struggles out of bed to make breakfast. I managed to make and eat my second smoothie of the week but couldn’t get any further with my day before having to go back to bed. I felt horrible. I felt absolutely exhausted and I was convinced that I must have been coming down with a virus or something (typical over-dramatic me!). Anyway, I slept for the rest of the morning, made myself a spiralised veg salad for lunch and spent the afternoon on the sofa reading and trying to get some work done.
At this point, I decided that regardless of whether or not it was the raw diet that was making me feel like this, my body needed fuel. I decided to have a cooked meal for dinner and made a big ol’ bowl of lentil Bolognese (my all-time favourite comfort food). I felt absolutely gutted for having to break my resolve only two days in but I knew I needed to listen to my body. I woke up the next morning feeling an awful lot better and decided to continue to try eating raw but to make sure I was eating a hell of a lot more, and not beat myself up about eating something ‘off-diet’ if I needed it.
And the rest of the week went really well! I made sure to absolutely pack my lunches with veg, and soaked huge amounts of lentils and kidney beans to have with them. I also allowed myself a slice of toast after exercising to give my body the carbohydrates it needed to refuel.
Carbohydrates are hard to find on a raw diet, and I think that was the main issue for me. I not only love bread, oats, cereal, pasta, rice etc. etc. but I know that my body needs them to exercise and for me to physically get enough calories in my body to account for my active lifestyle.
But, there were a lot of awesome things that I loved about this raw week; so I thought I’d summarise the pros and cons of my raw week here:
– Encouraged me eat a wider variety of fruit and veg
– Found a load of new recipes
– Encouraged to make own nut mylk and butter
– Encouraged me to make my own raw cheesecake
– Support from raw/vegan/healthy online community
– Not enough carbs!!
– Felt slightly restricted
– Difficult to eat out
– Hard to maintain, especially when exercising
– Buying lots of nuts and dates to snack on was expensive
So, to summarise, I am so glad that I gave this raw week a go – it really opened my eyes to what my body needs and encouraged me to make a lot more of my own things from scratch (especially nut mylk, which I’m going to keep going for sure!). I now also have a greater appreciation for the need to eat larger, carby meals, especially after exercising. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with a fully raw diet, but I am definitely going to try and incorporate more raw vegetables into my diet, especially for breakfast.
My main advice, if you’re thinking of giving raw eating a go, is to ease yourself in – try not to go from eating 3 cooked meals a day straight into eating only raw food because, if your body reacts anything like mine did, it might not thank you! That said, this diet works really well for a lot of people; I think the most important thing is working out what works best for you.
RAW VEGAN RASPERRY CHEESECAKE
– 1 cup (about 12) pitted medjool dates
– 1 cup mixed nuts
– 1tbsp coconut oil
– Pinch salt
– 1 ½ cups cashew nuts
– ½ cup mixed nuts
– 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
– 1/3 cup carob syrup
– Juice ½ lime
– ¼ cup water
– ½ cup homemade nut mylk
– 200g fresh or frozen raspberries
– 1 tbsp carob syrup
– 1 tbsp water
1) Add dates to food processer and blend to a paste.
2) Remove date paste from blender and blend nuts into a flour.
3) Add dates back into the blender along with the coconut oil and salt and blend until the mixture forms a crumble. To test if the mixture is sticky enough, squeeze a small amount between your fingers – it should stick together well. If the mixture is not sticky enough, add another tablespoon of carob syrup.
4) Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
5) Press the crumble mixture into the bottom of the loaf tin and refrigerate while you carry out the next steps.
6) Add all filling ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth – this will take about 5 minutes. Add more water if mixture seems slightly thick.
7) Mash raspberries in a small bowl and mix in carob syrup and water.
8) Remove the loaf tin from the fridge and pour the cheesecake mixture over the base.
9) Spoon the raspberry mixture onto the top of the mixture and use a fork to marble into cream filling.
10) Place cheesecake in the freezer and leave to set for at least 4 hours
11) Once the cheesecake is set, remove it from the tin and cut horizontally into slices. You could cut each slice in half again to make little cheesecake squares.
12) Store in the freezer. Remove about 5 minutes before eating.