Lilly Higgins is adventuring into the world of eating raw. Here’s her top tips for those looking to try this new way of eating. Not convinced? Check out her amazing raw dairy-free cheesecake recipe here
On the benefits of eating raw…
“There are many benefits to eating raw food, mostly that the food is not heated above 46C so the nutrients aren’t damaged and they remain intact. Which means they do your body more good, lots of fresh living vitamins and minerals direct from source. Then there are some foods like tomatoes and mushrooms that actually have more bioavailable nutrition when cooked. So a healthy mix of raw and cooked is what I’ve chosen to eat. The raw ‘baking’ fascinates me as I love traditional baking. All of these amazingly luxurious chocolate cheesecakes, spicy carrot cakes and so on are all dairy, wheat and refined sugar free! I find it amazing that they still taste good! They’re the perfect choice for anyone with intolerances.”
Lilly’s raw journey…
“I started to eat raw initially because we were growing such beautiful vegetables in our allotment and I was buying gorgeous organic food so naturally wanted to do as little as possible to it! Perfect carrots only needed a scrub, huge cucumber were perfect for juicing or salads. When I was pregnant with my first little boy I became really aware that I wasn’t just nourishing myself when I ate, I was also responsible for how this little baby turned out. I read up on how what I ate would effect his taste in food so I ate as well as I could. It just involved lots of wholefoods, vegetables and grains and I discovered the whole world of raw. I could never be a strict raw vegan. We do eat a mostly vegetarian diet but my job involves cooking lots of different types of food so my children have exposure to everything. Each day involves lots of raw alongside lots of cooked. I think it’s a healthy balance.”
The essential equipment…
“Some good sharp knives, a peeler and a nice chopping board are your essentials. These are all needed for regular food preparation too so no major change there. I do find a julienne peeler really handy for making courgette spaghetti and adding interesting texture to salads but a spiraliser would do an even better job. I suggest starting with a julienne peeler as they’re not a huge financial investment at less than 10 euro. A spiraliser is still on my wishlist though.
I have a lovely spouter from Biosnacky, you can get them in most health shops. They sprout beans or seeds which are perfect for adding to salads or wraps.
A good food processor is a must if you want to start making your own raw cakes or bars. It’s also great for whipping up raw hummus, dips and nut or seed butters.
Not all raw food is easily digestible so it’s good to let a machine do some of that work for you! Blitzing kale into a smoothie or juicing it will mean instant good greens with none of the bulk. Juicers are fantastic for extracting the most from fruit and vegetables. I love juicing cucumber, melon, apple and ginger to make a refreshing morning drink. The possibilities are endless, the only drawback is that most juicers take quite a while to clean out afterwards. I don’t juice too often but every now and again I have a little detox and drink juice till dinnertime.
Invest in a dehydrator if you’re serious about going raw. It will enable you to make crackers, breads, cookies and more. You can dry fruits and vegetables to create interesting textures and intensify flavours. The best tip I’ve heard is to get one with as many trays as you can afford. You don’t want a two tray dehydrator on for 12 hours when you could have a 8 tray one doing four times as much in the same time! The 9 tray Excalibur is on my wishlist and Christmas is coming soon so fingers crossed!”
Is it easy to organise the weekly meal plan on a raw diet?
“As with all cooking but especially when eating raw you must source good quality ingredients to start with. It may sound pretentious to say local, organic etc. but if you’re consuming something raw, all the more reason for it to be chemical free. I know money is an issue but I do think we need to prioritise what we put into our bodies. We are what we eat so really we’re just investing in ourselves.
So buy plenty of fresh vegetables, and some lovely fruit for snacks and breakfast.
Plan hearty salads with lots of leaves, sprouted beans, crunchy red cabbage, creamy avocado etc. For me a good selection of textures is key. Make a huge batch of hummus or some nice dip to serve with your salads. A few interesting dressings bursting with herbs or nut pates to dip carrot sticks in.
You will end up going shopping more than once a week but it’ll be worth it. Gorgeous fresh vegetables make the nicest meals.
Chia pudding with fresh fruit is the perfect breakfast, packed full of protein and really delicious too. You can make a batch to last you up to three days and then just grab it each morning.”
Lilly Higgins sells her raw cakes called ‘Lilly’s Cakes’ at Cork’s English Market. For more info and to find out more about Lilly’s journey, check out her website here.