Food is your big ticket to good health! If you eat garbage, your body will show it. If you feed your body whole, healthy and fresh foods, your body, skin and soul will return the favour and make you glow with health and endless energy!
What is "Raw" Food
Search the internet and you can find lots of definitions of the term. In truth many of us eat our food raw without making a conscious effort to do so, for example, you wouldn't normally cook your salad or strawberries before eating them.
I would sum it up as follows:
"Raw food is, technically speaking, food that has not been heated above 48 C (117 F)."
This usually means uncooked foods, or more specifically, foods in their natural state – nothing added, nothing taken away. When you don't apply heat above this temperature, the food or ingredient retains more of it's good stuff, like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc.
You can find out more about raw food from a man often referred to as a raw food 'Guru', and the Nutribullet creator, David "Avocado" Wolf.
What is "Clean eating"?
There is no real "bible", or hard and fast rules on the subject, so if you were to research it yourself (which I encourage you to do), you'll find lots of different interpretations of it and of how people practice it.
Clean eating is pretty simple, for me anyway! Rather than it being about eating more or less of specific things (for instance, fewer calories or more protein), the idea is more about being mindful of your food's journey from its origins to your plate. Put simply it's about eating whole foods, or "real" foods — those that are unprocessed or minimally processed, refined, and meddled with, making them as close to their natural form as possible.
Interestingly, cooking is still a form of processing. While it's true that some nutrients are lost during cooking, like vitamin C, in some foods other nutrients are increased when foods are cooked, like lycopene found it tomatoes. So the good balance is to eat a wide variety of foods, in both their raw and cooked forms.
Over the last 10 years ago I've gradually given up most processed foods, all dairy, all refined sugar and started on my healthy eating journey. I very rarely eat meat or chicken, and still eat some fish and shellfish. I still can't believe how much better i feel and look, inside and out by eating more plant-based and whole foods! This decision was also the inspiration behind me setting up Abundance Foods - read more about my story here. The way I interpret it and live by it can be summed up as:
"clean eating is being conscious of where the food you put into your body comes from, and the impact it will have on you, physically and spiritually".
What is a "Paleo" diet
Some people include foods like meat and dairy in their clean eating lifestyle. This is often referred to as a paleo or caveman diet. Made popular by Professor Loren Cordain, in his book The Paleo Diet, he argues that certain foods entered our diets only about 10,000 years ago with the agricultural revolution, when we began cultivating grains in larger amounts, and that isn’t long enough for our digestive system to adapt to eating them. Instead, he believes we should stick to what the cavemen or women ate – meat, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts, and avoid grains, along with anything that prehistoric man and woman wouldn’t have recognised, such as dairy, pulses, sugar and, of course, processed food.
Also, the way these foods would be consumed would usually mean rejecting modern day food production methods in the handling of their food, opting instead for organic, grass-fed meats and free-range eggs etc.
I've chosen not to include meat and dairy as part of my clean eating lifestyle. Alongside that, I've also cut out:
Most processed foods (by this I mean foods with extra salt, sugar, bad fats, chemicals, preservatives and additives that read like a chemistry lesson)
Salt (opting instead for organic Pink Himalayan)
Saturated fats (opting instead for raw organic coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil)
Processed Sugar (opting for plant-based sugars such as raw coconut nectar and agave syrup)
Gluten and Wheat
I share my tips and strategies on how you can eat more healthily, and still enjoy your food over on my blog.
Why do I soak nuts?
Tree nuts and seeds are a source of highly concentrated [good] fat and protein, making them a terrific nutrient-dense food! Just like any other raw foods, nuts and seeds contain enzymes, and our bodies love the benefit of these enzymes, and that’s one reason why I choose to use ingredients without subjecting them to intense heat.
However, until the germination conditions for nuts and seeds are met, like moist soil or a soaking process, the enzymes in most nuts and seeds stay dormant, held hostage by something called enzyme inhibitors. These can cause potential problems in humans, interfering with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
When you soak nuts, the enzymes within them break free from those inhibitors, and start breaking down nutrients making them easier for digestion and lessening the burden on our digestive organs. Soaking the nuts also re-hydrates them and plumps them up for blending into a smooth, cheesecake-like consistency.
This is one of the many reasons Abundance Foods Truffles, Treats and Desserts are so good for you; you're eating healthy food that also tastes amazing! Want to soak your own nuts? It's pretty easy:
Pour your nuts into a glass bowl. Note: Do not mix nuts while soaking, but you can mix them while drying
Add enough filtered water to cover the nuts
Stir in 1 tablespoon of sea or Pink Himalayan salt
Soak for no more than 4-6 hours for cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios and brazil nuts (otherwise they will get mouldy and/or slimy).
Drain and rinse really well
Dry in a warm oven on the lowest setting until dry or use a dehydrator.
Store them in a glass jar in a cool, dark place
Cacao v Chocolate
Cacao and cocoa powder may sound similar, but there are some key differences between them when it comes to taste, nutrition, and cost.
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, which means it is raw and and goes through much less processing than cocoa powder. Cacao is thought to be the highest source of antioxidants of all foods and the highest source of magnesium of all foods. It might seem like one of the newest "superfoods" at the minute, but It has been used throughout many cultures for centuries for health purposes.
The cacao fruit tree, also known as Theobroma Cacao, produces cacao pods which are cracked open to release cacao beans. From there, cacao beans can be processed a few different ways. Cacao butter, cacao paste cacao nibs are just some of foods created from cacao beans, and I love to use them in my products. Commonly, producers and users of cacao are well educated about it's health benefits, and will keep it's processing (especially heat processing) to a minimum, in order to retain as many of it's health properties as possible. They're also less likely to pump it full of other additional things that are not great for your health.
Cacao powder contains more fibre and calories than cocoa powder as more of the nutrients from the whole bean is still intact. However, it's also an excellent source of the "good fats", monounsaturated and cholesterol-free saturated fat. If that wasn't enough, it's also full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, natural carbohydrates, and protein, which makes it an excellent source of nutrients.
Cocoa on the other hand, is the heated form of cacao that you most likely eat in the form of chocolate powder and your favourite chocolate bar. Cocoa powder is produced similarly to cacao, except cocoa undergoes a higher temperature of heat during processing. While this processing destroys a lot of the goodness of the bean, cocoa does still retain some health benefits, and it is much cheaper. This is one of the reasons you can buy four chocolate bars for £1, but you will never be to do that with cacao-based products!
Sadly, as cocoa is so cheap, manufacturers and users will often use add dairy milk or cream, sugars, hydrogenated fats, palm oil, artificial preservatives, soy and all manner of unnecessary food stuffs to it to make your chocolate powder and bars.
I hope you can see why I will only ever use cacao in it's rawest form to make your truffles, treats and desserts!
Let's talk AMAZING vegan salted caramel sauce from @abundancefoodsleeds! It's amazing, it tastes better than 'regular' caramel, and it has a richer and deeper flavour made from coconut sugar. Preye, Manchester
Well, Well, Well Abundance Foods - you have done it again! The raw luscious lime cheesecake is absolutely divine! It's rich, smooth and just enough sweetness to balance the tartness of the lime. Gorgeous, thank you Tracey, Leeds
I started [eating your salted caramel] with a spoon out of the jar then I had the rest with cheese and crackers. It’s so delicious that you have to put a warning on the label! May cause you to hide and eat it all by yourself! Carmen, Nottingham
I was lucky enough to come across Marcia at a vegan & yoga event I was working at. Immediately she was so welcoming and helpful, I bought a number of her delicious homemade goodies as at the time I was following a strict dairy free diet but craved something sweet! Both myself and my husband enjoyed her desserts so much, that I ordered more. Marcia the very next day, delivered them to my house! Fantastic service and delicious and nutritious treats. I can't wait to sample the whole range on offer!! Ruth, Leeds
"Marcia's chocolate truffles are simply the best. Perfect taste and texture and beautifully presented. Showing that healthy treats can not only be greater but better than the rest." Dean, Leeds
"I'm so grateful that you went out of your way to make a cake and put icing on it for me. It is honestly the best vegan cake I have ever tasted." Lucy, Wakefield