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Now, what to do with those sprouts…?

June 19, 2009
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Mediterranean Wheatberry Salad

I hadn’t meant to go on such a raw food kick lately, but I planned my last cooking class a few months ago, thinking it would be warm by now. Raw foods are so excellent in the summer months when the temperatures are high and the vegetables are fresh from the farmers market.

But no. It’s been cold and rainy in Boston. At least the vegetables are fresh and delicious like they should be! And since we sprouted some wheat berries last time, now we’re gonna use ‘em.

Before I go into the recipe, let me first answer this burning question:
What’s the deal with raw foods?

This is basically what my friend Leigh asked at last week’s (Un)Cooking Club and I’m glad she did because sometimes I forget to explain WHY I eat the way I do. So here goes.

Raw food enthusiasts eat a plant-based diet never heated above the temperature at which the live enzymes die – around 118 degrees. I have experimented with raw foods and learned some cool preparation techniques, and I appreciate the value of eating living foods. On my 2 months of raw food last year I gained a ton of energy, cleaned out my digestive system big time, and felt amazing. But it wasn’t something I could keep up in social situations, nor was it something that felt appropriate for me as the weather cooled down in for a Boston winter. Anyway, it felt like an amazing detox.

Raw foods contain the necessary enzymes to break themselves down during digestion. Therefore, it’s a very efficient process and your body does not need to do as much work. That, combined with eating so much fiber and so many nutrients…well, heck. It feels pretty darn good. I lost about 9 lbs. in the first few weeks I ate raw. That was not good because I was getting married soon and wanted to fit into my dress! But I will say, I never felt hungry, I ate all I wanted and still lost that weight. Interesting.

So maybe it’s adding a salad to dinner, or learning to make buckwheat crispies for breakfast. However you do it, adding raw food into your diet could be a very good thing.

Last Sunday I held an (Un)Cooking Club where we made an appetizer, main dish and dessert all from raw, living foods. And they were delicious! And inexpensive. Sweet.

Uncooking Club

For the main dish recipe I’m sharing today, you need to have sprouted wheat berries for a few days prior. You could also use sprouted barley, kamut, spelt or whatever you like. And if you’re like “forget it, I’m not sprouting anything!” then you can use cooked whole wheat berries. This salad will come out great either way.

Mediterranean Wheatberry Salad
2 cups wheat berries, sprouted
1 tomato, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced
3 Tbl. fresh basil, sliced
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
5 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
juice of 1 lemon
4 Tbl. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix everything together in a big bowl. Serve cold or room temperature.

What are your thoughts on eating raw foods?

  • Hanlie

    That looks so tasty!

    I believe that the more raw foods we eat, the better for us, for the same reasons you have listed. I doubt I’ll ever be 100% raw, but I manage about 75%, which is doing me a world of good! Of course the cooked portion of my diet is also whole foods, not junk.

    And you’re right about the increased energy levels…

  • Karen

    Great minds think alike – I have been sprouting everything, including fenugreek, which requires a patient palate. Raw is terrific for energy – sometimes I need to take in more fat when I make fresh juice just for balance. And you are all about that;-)

  • earthmother

    Finally had an opportunity to come explore your site, Michelle. Beautiful! Wonderful information and I couldn’t agree with you more – you don’t need to eat a 100% raw foods diet to garner the many health benefits. But, I think equally as important as what we add in to our diets, is what we eliminate. And, processed and highly refined foods gotta go before we really start to see the weight loss and experience the increased energy and vitality.

    I’m a sprouting queen! Definitely going to try your Mediterranean Wheatberry Salad.

  • Erica

    Ow (minus the olives), this looks like a bowl of heaven to me! Any leftovers ;)

  • sangeeta khanna

    nice information and a nicer salad …..i like raw food and include it in my daily diet in the form of salads mostly….but i think the preserved food like canned olives , sundried tomatoes or pickles gherkins etc. don’t come in this category…what do you suggest??
    according to ayurveda any preserved food ( apart from drying)becomes ‘tamasic’..that is, inducing toxins in the body…..can we have a discussion on this?

  • Culinary Wannabe

    Thanks for explaining why it is that raw food are supposed to be more nutritious. I had always wondered about that. I could definitely see where this would be a great way to eat when the weather is warm – I just wish it would get warm!

  • Michelle

    @Hanlie – glad you’ve seen positive results. from the looks of your blog, you’re doing great!

    @Karen – fenugreek, huh? wild :-)

    @earthmother – thanks for visiting!

    @Erica – not an olive lover I take it?

    @Sangeeta – it is possible to find truly raw olives and similar but it’s not easy or cheap. for my purposes, as long as the main ingredients of the dish are raw, I’m ok using flavors that come from non-raw sources. i’m just not a purist I guess! However, fermented and pickled foods are considered quite healthy and good for digestion in some food theories. I’m not familiar with the idea of “tamastic” but I’d love to hear more about it!

    @CulinaryWannabe – Rain. Again today. I hear ya!

  • Maria

    I try to eat as much raw food as I can handle–I get cold very easily so I like my food warm :). However, i keep trying to incorporate more raw foods–haven’t seen too many benefits yet like increased energy levels, but I’m not gaining weight or seeing any more negative effects from it, so I guess that’s good. What kinds of raw foods did you incorporate last year that gave you so much energy? Most of the raw foods I eat currently are a salad for lunch, fruit for snacking, and green smoothies :).

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