I ALWAYS FIND the idea of a solely raw food diet to be somewhat scary. I know there are people out there that swear by it, and fair play to them, but it always sounds to me like something that no sensible person would really want to contemplate.
Proponents of raw food diets maintain that cooking destroys enzymes in food – since it’s these enzymes that allow us to extract the nutrients from the food, eating cooked food is apparently harder on our bodies. Yes, I agree, that sounds counterintuitive.
Opponents of raw food diets say that cooking actually releases the nutrients in some foods with the heat making them more accessible to the human body. Tomatoes for example do not release lycopene, a substance that appears to prevent diseases including cancer, unless cooked. I think that any honest assessment of the issue would have to contend that from a scientific perspective at least, the jury is still out.
There’s an added psychological benefit to cooked food that is often omitted from the discussion (most latter-day discussions on food centre on a rather narrow comparison of nutrient and vitamin levels). There is, quite simply, something magically warming (in every way) about cooked food. On a cold winter’s evening, the idea of a cold, raw food salad makes you feel shivery while a bowl of homely, hot soup feels like a warm duvet.
I think a sensible approach is to eat as much fruit and vegetables as you possibly can, all the better if some of them are raw.
Besides, raw food doesn’t have to be scary. If I said to you that I am going to serve you up a plate of raw cabbage, raw carrot and raw beetroot you might get a little freaked. But by simply shredding all the ingredients and turning them in to a coleslaw, you suddenly have a delicious and nutritious, tri-colour, super-foods meal – particularly if you take out the not so healthy mayonnaise and replace it with a simple oil/vinegar dressing. Check out the recipe below – you won’t be disappointed.
Things to do this Week – How to Harvest Celery
If you sowed celery earlier in the year, they should be ready now and they will do fine in the ground until the first frost. The main thing to bear in mind in terms of tending celery is that they need a consistent supply of water to produce good yields and they don’t like weeds.
Harvest celery by cutting at ground level – make sure that you do so in such a way as to keep the stems together. Celery will keep for a number of weeks in the fridge and will in fact continue to blanch once picked. Wash in cold water and dry it carefully before putting it in the fridge. You can also harvest individual stems (rather than the whole plant) if you wish.
The great issue for celery lovers is how to preserve the crop – it doesn’t store well in the ground particularly after the first frosts and it doesn’t store well out of the ground either. Probably the best method of preserving celery is to freeze it – it freezes relatively well but will lose some of its crispness when thawed out, so its probably only usable in cooking (soups and stews etc) as opposed to fresh. Very handy to have little bags of chopped celery in the freezer so you can grab a handful when cooking up a stew or making a stock or gravy.
Recipe of the Week – Beet, Carrot and Cabbage Slaw
This will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
2 beets, peeled and shredded
2 small carrots, shredded
1/4 cabbage, thinly sliced
2 lemons, zest and juice
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
4 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the vegetables with lemon zest in a very large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add it to the vegetables and mix well.