A lot of people ask how they can go raw if they have limited funds, or limited time, or both. I’m going to talk about kitchen equipment, how to buy food, and, briefly, the mechanics of choosing a raw food diet system to follow.
KITCHEN EQUIPMENT: The first thing I would suggest is that you consider your knife your best friend. Have a really sharp strong knife. As I have mentioned before, my first knife was a solid stainless steel Chinese cleaver. It was dirt cheap and it still works after all these years.
If you can swing it, get a blender – the best cheap one would be a Nutri-Bullet, but my mother, who gave me the NutriBullet swears by her Magic Bullet, which is even cheaper. With this you can make all those exciting smoothies and juices you have read about. You can also make sauces and grind soaked nuts.
You can make a lot of things with just these two things.
If you really want to get serious (on a budget), get yourself a food processor. With these three things, you can rule the world (or, at least, your world). You can make almost anything that you read about on-line or in books if you have these three things.
To round out your equipment, you would probably like to have
- a vegetable peeler to peel vegetables and slice vegetables very thinly
- a Mason jar or two or three, to grow sprouts and make fermented foods such as sauerkraut.(Growing your own sprouts is easy, and it is cheaper than buying them, not to mention that you can get more varieties than you will find in the store. When the quarantine started in March, while others hoarded toilet paper, I ran for the natural market to buy 2 pounds of lentils, because they are cheap and they make never fail sprouts that I find very delicious! — I figured I could survive a famine if I had a steady supply of sprouts! )
- A spiralizer? Maybe…This is really a splurge because, if you really want linguine-like slices of vegetables, you can slice them first with a vegetable peeler, then pile up the slices and go back and slice them very thinly with your very sharp knife. Of course, you do not need to have zucchini pasta at all – I only learned of it about 15 years or so ago, but I had survived for many years before I found out about zucchini noodles.
Do you need a dehydrator? The answer, in a word, is NO. All recipe books are exciting, and the dehydrator recipes so many books have sound enticing. A dehydrator is, however, a major investment (right up there with a high-end juicer), and a space consumer as well. Amazon has a vast assortment of styles and prices, so, if you have the space and the patience (dehydrating can take up to 10 hours), go for it. Caveat: for anything other than an Excalibur, be sure to check out the consumer reviews! Something to think about: can you be home to supervise for 8 hours? I live in a very small space, and I am not home for most of the day, so I do without dehydrating. (There are several cookbooks out there which do not have extensive lists of recipes which require dehydration. I’ll cover that in my next post, about books with simple and classic recipes, most of which have no dehydrated recipes whatsoever.)
Where to get food cheap(ish):farmers’ market, supermarket, backyard garden, vegetable and fruit stand (in Manhattan, NYC – I’m not sure about your neck of the woods) If you are trying to go organic: farmers’ market (look for the organic sign, or a sign that says they do not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers- the farmer’s market I went to today had a couple of stands that said “un-sprayed”- when I asked, they said “un-sprayed” meant “organic without the certification”), Trader Joe’s, Aldi (Your local supermarket may carry organic, but it may be quite a bit more expensive than regular vegetables)
GOING RAW: you can and have the right to choose your own path to going raw:
- Some choose to start eating raw, say, for breakfast and lunch, and enjoy a cooked dinner
- Others choose to go raw for several days a week, alternating with days of cooked meals
- Still other go the dramatic route of all raw right away (this is what I did, but I never thought about it, or even realized it was a thing – I was just a college student on a severe budget)
- Of course, everything in between.
Then there are the “systems”, which are different approaches with rules (80-10-10, or food combining, for example. Food combining, by the way, is probably the oldest raw system, and it still works very well for me. It is about eating things that digest well together together, pretty much.) It seems to me that most raw food recipe books give a long spiel about how to be raw in a healthy way, and some propound specific ways, or systems..To my mind, most which do expound on a system seem to be following the food combining idea as propounded by Ann Wigmore, an early proponent of the raw food lifestyle, T.C. Fry, and Harvey and Marilyn Diamond in Fit for Life, which also led to the 40/30/30 food combining concept propounded by Joyce and Gene Daoust, which is a simplified approach to food combining, and (although their focus is not raw, is pretty much what I have followed since I decided to take off 100 lbs. 20 years ago (yes, you can get fat on raw if you do not watch your food combining)