We often hear that nutritious foods shouldn’t be made of ingredients but are the ingredients! In other words, the less modified and transformed is the food you eat, the most nutrients and health benefits it will deliver to you. With that in mind, eating raw food brings you to the next level of healthiness. So what is raw food exactly? In few words, it refers to uncooked and unprocessed natural food such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, eaten raw or slightly cooked at a low temperature. I initially thought that eating raw food wouldn’t be so exciting, maybe even boring, but after few attempts, I have to say that I got hooked and the effects are immediate. Eating the right combination of food in their most natural form not only is easy (less work in the kitchen, that is a very important point for me!) but also, I noticed that I always feel good, with high energy after a raw meal, and feeling light but satisfied. Does it sound tempting?
A little while back, I met with Maricel Lukkanit, founder of “Vegan Crush”, Personal Chef and Edutainer, and a great reference and source of inspiration when it comes to eating raw. She answered my questions and maybe some questions you have too, regarding raw food. And as the best way to experience raw food is by preparing some yourself and taste it, I can only recommend to attend one of her workshops, held at Rasayana Retreat.
How would you best describe “raw food”? what is it, what is it not? why is it healthy?
Maricel: ” A raw foods diet is made up of fresh, whole, unrefined, living, plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. People who adopt to this diet are often referred to as “raw fooders” or “raw vegans.” Raw food is considered raw if it has never been heated over 40–48°C (just above the normal temperature of the human body). It is also not refined, pasteurized, treated with pesticides or otherwise processed in any way. Instead, the diet allows several alternative preparation methods, such as juicing, blending, dehydrating, soaking and sprouting.”
Maricel preparing some raw & vegan cheese. Perfect for a wine & cheese night!
What is the general misconception, from your experience, of what raw food is?
Maricel: “The most common question is, how can one get enough protein with a raw food diet?
In fact there is enough protein in fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. By using a variety of raw food the body receives the amino acids that it needs while also getting many other minerals, plenty of chlorophyll and lots of fiber. Sadly we have completely forgotten how to listen to our body which tells us exactly what and how much to eat and when to stop. Actually, most people suffer from an overdose of protein each day. The acidity caused by excess protein consumption must be counterbalanced by the body. It is done by taking the precious alkaline mineral, calcium, from the bloodstream and bones, setting the stage for osteoporosis and tooth decay. It is no coincidence that fruits and vegetables contain just the right amounts of protein to build and maintain the human body. But with everything in life I suggest to try it out if that is something that resonates with you: and experience it for yourself. And it is ok if you think it doesn’t work. Follow what you think is right for yourself. Change always is a process that needs time, commitment and patience.”
Do we – in our typical modern lifestyle – include enough raw food in our diets?
Maricel: “I think there is always room for improvement. Our taste buds have experienced the excitement of salt, sugar and spices, we may miss those tastes initially when they are no longer part of the daily diet. However, most people find that the trade off for good health and longevity is worth it. Once the taste buds are no longer exposed each day, they once again develop an appreciation for the taste of sweet, fresh fruits and vegetables. If you are committed to improve your health I always suggest to try out incorporating more raw food to your diet, see how it makes you feel and go from there.”
And in Thailand specifically, compared to the other countries you are familiar with?
Maricel: “Thailand is pretty high on the scale as daily local cuisine feature fruits in spicy salads such as som tam (green papaya salad) and yam som-o (pomelo salad). Raw leafy vegetables and herbs are usually eaten in a meal or as a side dish. With some dishes it is served in addition to the sour chili sauce. Cucumber is sometimes eaten to cool the mouth with particularly spicy dishes. Fresh fruit forms a large part of the Thai diet, and are customarily served after a meal as dessert.
Compared to Germany where a lot of bread is consumed and processed products, raw food is not a part of daily cuisine. Besides of fermented items like sauerkraut and pickles it is rather a conscious choice to eat raw. Also I think the weather plays a huge role as one tend to rather eat something hot in cold days than a plate full of raw items. These are the reasons why I believe Thailand has more raw food integrated on a daily basis. But in general I think if you are committed to something it doesn’t really matter where you are, it is the mindset that matters.
You are yourself following a vegan and mostly raw diet. Is that then something you would recommend to people around you? Do you consider it healthy to follow a raw food diet only?
Maricel: “The question is not, if one should rather have a raw vegan diet, the question is how much do you really want to experience the peak of your health? Everyone knows how it feels to be unhealthy. Being healthy is our birthright and the raw vegan diet will likely allow one to succeed.
Generally what happens if we cook food is that the natural enzymes in the food will diminish and the nutrient content will be reduced. Imagine a cooked carrot and a raw carrot. What happens if you stick both into the ground? The cooked carrot will spoil and eventually perish whereas the raw carrot will start creating new life. The same life force happens within your body when you eat raw food.
I always strive to improve and be the healthiest version of myself. If you are healthy and vibrant and full of energy you can give so much. That’s why I follow a diet that contains 70-80% raw food. Everyone can start somewhere and it doesn’t matter where you are at right now, as long as you make a step closer to your goal.”
To me, raw dessert are the best! they are so easy to make, taste great and there is no nasty ingredient at all 🙂
Do you find it difficult to eat raw food in Bangkok? Can you share with us your good addresses?
Maricel: “Bangkok is one of the cities where it is quite convenient to find delicious raw food. In fact it is the perfect city to explore new tropical fruits that one never had before. Fruits and vegetables are available in abundance. You have plenty of choices, festivals and events like bangkok farmers market where you can source organic and local raw products. There are several food markets too that are open every day like Or Tor Kor Market that offers tropical fruits such as Jackfruit, Pomelo, Mangosteen, Mangoes, Longkong, Sweetsop and sooo much more for everyone to explore and indulge. If you want to enjoy raw gourmet cuisine like pasta, cake, ice cream and soups than Rasayana Retreat Center is a must visit! On a regular basis I am offering Raw Food Workshops at Rasayana Retreat Center too, so come over and get inspired!”
For those who don’t know you yet, tell us more about yourself. What is the main reason that got you started on “Vegan Crush”?
Maricel: “My life completely changed in 2009 when I decided to quit my job, sell everything I owned to travel the world for 5 years without staying at a place longer than 4 months. I followed my heart and it has turned my life upside down. That was the time where I changed my diet.
I had more time and freedom and that allowed me to become aware about so many things in life and my diet. I got inspired to dig deeper and study about why people choose to be on a plant-based diet. I found out if you invest in yourself and take the time to know more about where your food comes from and what impact it has for yourself and for each other, you have the freedom to make a choice. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will change, but it means that you know what you’re doing and that makes all the difference. If you don’t know, you just keep doing what you used to do without realizing that there is another path that may serve you better. I chose to be vegan from today to tomorrow.”
A delicious raw curry that Maricel prepared
Through your workshops, you are teaching how to cook raw food and how to make it tasty and enjoyable. What would be your top advice to the readers who would like to get themselves started on eating more raw food?
Maricel: “If you are reading this you already made a biiig step, because education and information is the key to so many questions that we have. Through my workshops I teach how to create scrumptious raw breakfasts, mains, snacks and desserts that aren’t complicated. Eating raw is in fact very easy and sooo quick! If you are well prepared you can have a week full of scrumptious dishes that will help you to thrive and shine! But you don’t have to do this alone. There are so many other people in the same situation, doesn’t matter in which situation you find yourself in. It is very important first of all to invest in yourself in every aspect of life, because everything starts with you. If you have love for yourself, you can love others. If you are healthy you can teach others to be healthy. And imagine what else.
Most of my clients and guests are not vegan or vegetarian. The best way to understand something new is to integrate all the senses. That is what Vegan Crush Cuisine is all about. We offer 4 different services.
1/ Weekly Meal Preparation (personal Chef service) for people with a busy schedule
2/ Cooking Classes for those who looove cooking!
3/ Raw Food Workshops for foodies who want to get inspired
4/ Gourmet Dinner Events for adventurous taste buds!
Are there any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Maricel: “Yes! One project that I am happy to share about is a soon upcoming cookbook. I hope that it’ll be helpful, especially for those with a busy schedule. I am very excited about it and can’t wait to make it available for all of you!“
One last advice from Maricel Lukkanit for now:
Join groups, workshops or meetups that support your interest and goals. Surround yourself with people that lifts you up and make you feel good and motivated. You have so much potential and everyone can improve in every aspect of life. Be committed and make a plan. You will see it will be all worth it. You can do it, act upon it and get started!
Us at the latest workshop held at Rasayana Retreat.
Vegan Crush vegan meal preparation