One barrier women often site for not eating healthfully is a fear of missing their favorite foods. And I too, wondered if this would be an issue for me when I embarked on my Raw Week diet but I was ready to say goodbye to burgers and pizza if that’s what it would take for the full experience. Turns out, you can have almost anything on a raw diet, and this holds true for just about all healthy eating plans. And I’m not just talking about “everything in moderation,” which of course is a wonderful mantra. I’m talking about healthy alternatives to the not-so-nutritional foods you crave. Here are some of my favorite food swaps I learned from raw food expert Stacy Stowers. I plan on using these nutritional upgrades even now that Raw Week is over.
Instead of rice, try cauliflower rice
This was an awesome discovery Stacy taught me on raw Chinese food night. Check out the image left, you would have no idea it’s raw right? Even if you’re not raw, it’s a great way to cut carbs and get a good dose of potassium and vitamin C. All you have to do is pop washed cauliflower florets into your food processor with the shredder attachment on and voila! At 35 calories a cup, it’s about as guilt-free as rice can be.
Instead of rice noodles or spaghetti, try veggie noodles
Perhaps my favorite swap, I will be using veggie noodles left and right whether it be for this raw pad Thai recipe or just to upgrade the nutritional value on my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. All you need is a julienne peeler and the vegetables of your choice. Yellow squash and zucchini are a nice blank canvas for whatever sauce you are using but slightly heartier green papaya mimics noodles even better. The white flesh looks like pasta and the texture really replicates the flexibility of cooked noodles.
Instead of a tortilla wrap, try lettuce wraps
This swap may not be for everyone, but for the most part, it works for me! To make wrapping easier, use the tops of Romaine lettuce leaves from the outside of the head. These are more flexible than the base or the firmer inner leaves. You can use lettuce wraps to make spring rolls, for a “wrap” sandwich, or tacos. I’d skip the enchiladas and fajitas. I just don’t love warm fillings in the lettuce wraps. No one likes floppy lettuce!
Instead of cream, try coconut milk
Good news for the lactose intolerant, coconut milk is a rich and satisfying swap whether you’re raw or not. Check out these coconut cream banana split parfaits. Stacy made this recipe for me on raw date night and they were as creamy as can be. Plus, coconut milk contains healthy fats that recent studies have actually been linked to weight loss.
Instead of a bagel try a flagel
This swap requires a little more work and a dehydrator but once you have a flagel (flat bagel) your life will be changed. You know how an 8 a.m. bagel leaves your tummy rumbling at 9 a.m.? When I had flagels for breakfast during Raw Week, I didn’t even think about snacking until 12 o’clock in the afternoon! Plus, the everything flagel doubled as the crust for this raw pizza. Standby, this versatile and satisfying recipe will be available in Stacy’s raw food recipe book and I will be the first to tell you when it hits stores. In the meantime, check out this pic of my cranberry orange flagel with raw cream cheese.
Instead of chips try kale chips
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before and I never got on board with it but some store bought varieties like Brad’s Raw Kale Chips are amazingly tasty. They are shockingly crispy and not at all flimsy like a lot of packaged kale chips. Or you can try making your own, using vegetables you prefer (if not a fan of kale). To make them raw use a dehydrator otherwise just pop them in the oven. The secret to raw veggie chips is nutritional yeast, which adds an amazing cheese flavor. Check out this short video tutorial of Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien making kale chips in her oven.
As an editor at SHAPE I have the chance to learn about the healthiest ways to cook, eat, and live from all sorts of experts but I’m also a single girl living in NYC with a busy schedule, active social life, and chocolate cravings. I’m here to share what works for me—and where I need a little help from you.