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Gluten Free in the Raw

Learn ways to include more fresh, live foods in your diet for cool convenience.

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What’s an easy way to minimize food preparation time and make sure you’re avoiding gluten? Eat more naturally gluten-free raw foods, something that is especially appropriate to do during the summer.

Having more raw foods in your diet means eating more unprocessed, preferably organic, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds that are either uncooked or cooked at less than 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Raw foods are nutritious and usually easier and less time-consuming to fix than cooked foods.

If the whole idea of raw foods is intimidating to you, don’t let it be. You can dabble in it. Start out by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking more pure water. Then try working just a few raw-food products into your everyday gluten-free diet during the summer months, when it’s too hot to cook. It’s the perfect time to experiment and to see how you feel eating them. Try these tips:

Make the most of your raw foods with fresh vegetables and fruits. Fresh produce is packed with the most nutrients and has the highest water content. Salads are a natural choice of easy meals to fix with raw vegetables, and you don’t have to make everything in the salad raw in order to reap benefits, some of which can include improved elimination, increased energy, and better-looking skin. Another raw vegetable choice is homemade coleslaw made with organic olive oil and fresh lime or lemon juice instead of processed mayonnaise.

Try kale chips. An innovative, convenient way to get more raw veggies in your diet is to snack on Kaia Foods Kale Chips. The ingredients in the chips include dehydrated organic kale and sprouted sunflower and sesame seeds. The chips are packed with vitamin A and come in four different flavors.

Dig into raw crackers, sticks, and “bread.” Foods Alive, Go Raw, and the Raw Makery offer a variety of raw-food cracker, chip, and bread substitutes made with organic sprouted flax seeds along with other ingredients. You can try Foods Alive Mexican Harvest Organic Flax Crackers as an all-raw snack with homemade guacamole; use Go Raw Banana “Bread” as a breakfast food alternative; and use Raw Makery Garlic Stix as a crunchy side or crouton-replacement topper on salads or Raw Makery Rawtillas as a tortilla substitute.

Snack on sprouted seeds or nut blends. Sprouted seeds or nuts are more digestible than raw seeds or nuts for many people. Look for products such as Go Raw Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds and Sprouted Sunflower Seeds, and Living Intentions Gone Nuts! seasoned sprouted nut blends.

Treat yourself to raw nut butter. Available from companies such as Artisana, raw nut butter tastes like the fresh cracked nut, and comes in everything from almond butter to coconut butter to walnut butter. Each variety is an indulgence on its own, but also can be mixed with organic fresh fruit or raw organic honey to create simple raw desserts.

Raw Veggie Vegan Diva

Debbie Merrill has always believed that if a creative work of art or health is in you, it has to come out. Merrill, a professional ice skater and certified skating instructor in Santa Monica, Calif., exudes the essence of inspiring creativity and health. What drives her today is a passion for teaching others about a raw foods vegan diet-a practice she has been following for more than 15 years. “When I started, as a sugarholic vegetarian, I was maybe 2 percent raw,” she says, explaining that she slowly built on that number. “Today, I am a 100 percent raw vegan, and I have never felt more alive, energized, clear headed, and comfortable in my body,” she says, adding that she lost her cravings for sugars, carbs, and bad fats becoming a raw vegan. Here are some ways to transition to a raw diet, excerpted from Merrill’s new book, The Raw Truth to the Fountain of Youth. -NB

  1. Start by eating everything organic. Choose fresh, local, and seasonal produce whenever possible.
  2. Add one raw dish to each meal. This can be as simple as eating a salad with your burger.
  3. Start making your main courses raw, and relegating cooked foods to side dishes.
  4. If you haven’t already started letting go of meat, you can do it all at once, or a little at a time.
  5. Let go of processed foods, including refined sugar, prepackaged meals, instant foods, and cooked foods.
  6. Continue adding raw meals to your monthly, weekly, and daily routine.

Visit to order the book. Mention Better Nutrition magazine and receive an autographed copy.

Expert Tip

“Healthy immune function starts in the gut,” says Jordan S. Rubin, ND, founder of Garden of Life. “I recommend whole-food supplements with gut- and immune-friendly probiotics, raw food vitamins and minerals, and immune-supporting herbs.” For a raw option, try Garden of Life Raw Meal, with raw nutrients, live probiotics, and protein.

Arizona Coleslaw
Serves 3

Here’s a mostly raw dish that’s easy to make on a hot summer day.*

3 cups shredded organic green cabbage

1 cup shredded organic red cabbage

½ cup chopped fresh organic cilantro

3 Tbs. organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. fresh lime juice

1 small avocado, chopped

Celtic sea salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of ground coriander (optional)

Toss all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.


*Recipe adapted from a recipe in Going Against the Grain.