One of the main reasons that people are put off raw eating is the thought of a life of having to eat fridge cold food — sure, some crispy, chilled carrots can be refreshing during a long, hot summer, but when it’s cold out it just doesn’t have appeal.
All the most comforting winter foods are the warm ones — think piping hot tomato soup, chilies, and trays of roast veg.
Cooking your veg is far more of a habit rather than a strict necessity — you likely think that a roasting hot soup is good for you, and will help your body temperature stay up. But — as we know, cooking your veggies can be detrimental to your nutrition.
Prolonged exposure to high heat or hot water can leach vitamins (such as water-soluble vitamins C, B vitamins, or folate), and reduce fiber content.
So what is the best way to stay warm in the cold (and take care of your nutrient levels) – raw food warming of course!
What Is Raw Food Warming?
Okay, the clue is in the name here – raw food warming is where you gently warm your raw veggies up so that they’re at a comforting temperature, whilst you still keep them technically raw.
The raw approach suggests that you can heat your food up to 42 degrees Celsius (or 107 degrees Fahrenheit), so that your food can feel warm, without damaging any of the vital nutritional components. So, even if you do decide to go raw, you won’t just be eating fridge-temperature food.
There are a few methods that you can use to warm your raw dishes, but keep your food thermometer to hand so that you can make sure that you’re not heating anything too high, and reducing the nutritional value of your meal.
A Few Raw Food Warming Methods
There is probably an infinite number of raw food warming methods, just like there are infinite ways to cook your food (think clay bakes, microwave, sous vide, ban Marie). We are going to take you through a few of the most commonly used methods.
1. Let your food come to room temperature on its own, outside of the fridge. Probably the most low effort option when it comes to warming your food – just leave your food to naturally warm up on a countertop, either before or after you prepare the dish.
Our important tip though – cover your food with a cloche, plate, or just a piece of kitchen paper, so that you ensure there is no bacterial contamination, and so that no pesky flies land on your tasty veggies.
This method can be great for a whole range of dishes – from solid veggies to dips, to sauces and soups. Just make sure that none of your food will turn brown when exposed to the air – i.e. bananas and avocados.
If you do want to let something warm up in the air that might turn brown, you can add a source of vitamin C to avoid oxidization. This can be any kind of citrus fruit, or citrus juice – like lemon, lime, or oranges.
2. Warm your food in warm water. If you’re in a bit more of a rush, and can’t just leave your food to slowly warm, then you can use other ‘defrosting’ methods. We particularly like using a bowl of warm temperature water (just make sure it’s below 42 degrees Celsius so that you don’t accidentally boil your food).
You can also incrementally warm your food by changing the water every few minutes, making it warmer each time. We think that this method is great for solid food, like sticks of veggies, or florets of broccoli, as things need to be solid and not water-soluble, otherwise you’ll just end up with a thin raw veg broth (which likely won’t be very filling).
3. Mix hot water in with your cold food. A little different from the last option, with this method we suggest that you warm your food by mixing hot water in with your prepared food. For example, if you have made raw hummus, then you can warm it up, so that it is a little more like the baked hummus often found on meze platters.
We think that this method is the best way to warm up things like dips and salsas, as water needs to be fully incorporated into the dish, without making it too watery.
4. Use friction to moderately heat your food up. Okay, so using your blender to heat your food might sound a little bit weird, but if you cast your mind back all the way to the physics lessons that you had in school, you will remember that friction does produce heat as a byproduct.
You can test this out right now by rubbing your hands together fast – you should feel a little of heat coming off your skin, the same thing will happen if you ‘over blend’ your food.
Extra blending time can warm up your raw juices and soups a little so that they feel more like the traditional soups you are used to – just with even more nutritional value. This method is great for liquids – as it involves a blender, and is really great with soups and sauces.
A Few More Tips For Staying Warm On A Raw Food Diet
Anecdotally, many people who begin to eat raw repost that they start to feel a little bit cooler. Though this can feel like a blessing in some climates and seasons, but when there is a chill in the air and snow on the ground, feeling perpetually cold can feel a bit like a curse.
Here are a few tips, both food-related and not food-related, that you can use to feel warmer during winter.
1. You don’t have to go the whole hog right away. Sometimes, different types of diets are touted as all or nothing – and unless you adhere to it with all your meals and snacks. Obviously, this isn’t quite the case.
If you’re raw-curious, then you can incorporate raw meals and snacks into your mixed diet, or even mix raw food into your normal meals (e.g., you could sprinkle raw greeted carrot over your cooked pasta sauces, or make fully raw condiments for your food).
2. Increase the number of fats and carbs in your diet. This is especially important in chilly weather. We need more energy-dense food to maintain our body temperature. Fruit, both fresh and dried, provide indispensable carbohydrates, and healthy fats, like those found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconut will help keep you warmer.
3. Apple cider vinegar is your best friend. Put apple cider vinegar everywhere you can – as according to Raw Vibrant Living it will help ‘stoke your internal flames’ so that you feel warmer.
4. Go for a run. There’s nothing better for warming you up than getting your blood pumping, and if you’re feeling a little bit on the cool side, then you can do any kind of exercise. From vacuuming your living room to completing an Iron Man challenge, it will all help you feel more comfortable.
5. Heat up your crockery. Chilly plates are old news, as they can massively cool down your food, and might make you feel colder.
There are a few different ways that you can heat your food and drink vessels up; you can use designated warming drawers, or you can put your oven on a low setting (just make sure that all your crockery is oven safe – plastic and some glass can crack or melt), or even put them in a big bowl filled with hot water.
This will provide gentle warming for your plates, bowls, and mugs (just like how comforting and toasty a mug full of coffee is).
Before you go raw, hot food can feel like an integral part of your diet, especially when the weather is cooler, or if you live in a chillier climate. But, there are ways to overcome this, through gently and moderately heating your food up.
Different methods of raw food warming need to be used for certain dishes, but nearly every single raw food dish can be safely warmed, whilst still remaining ‘raw’ food. There are certain dishes that are more typical to be warmed, though – just soup on cold days or a warm dip on a windy night.
Overall, we just think that you should listen to your body. If you’re feeling cold, and nothing else seems to help, then increase the fats, oils, and carbs in your diet, or do cook yourself a warm dish.
Remember – raw eating isn’t all or nothing, and eating something cooked won’t set you back. The key with raw eating is balance, and intuition about your body’s needs.
The key takeaway point we want you to remember from this article are:
- Raw food doesn’t have to make you feel chilly – there is a myriad of methods to increase the temperature of your dish, without sacrificing its integrity as raw food.
- Raw eating isn’t an absolute – and if your body, lifestyle, and living conditions are more suited to a mixed diet that is absolutely fine.
- Listen to your body – it will tell you what it needs.