Some foods taste wonderful when they’re cooked, but unfortunately, they lose much of their healthy nutrients in the process. While other foods contain indigestible substances when they’re raw, and as they’re cooked, they get rid of these toxins.
You might be wondering now, which foods to cook? and which ones to incorporate in salads? To answer all that and more, here’s the ultimate guide to foods you can eat raw.
Can You Eat Raw Plantains?
The Caribbean plantains look a lot like bananas, and some people even get them mixed up. However, we know from the thick skins, bright green colour, and a larger size that they are plantains.
There’s another major difference between plantains and bananas which is the taste. While bananas are sweet and rather soft, plantains are more like raw potatoes. Some say that they are even more bitter than potatoes.
That’s because of their higher starch and lower sugar content. Even when they become ripe, plantains don’t go through the familiar phases of bananas. They just get dark spots on the green skins. It’s thus unusual to eat plantains raw.
This flavour profile changes drastically when plantains are cooked. The best taste often comes with deep frying, but they also turn out well grilled, roasted, or boiled. In addition, they fit nicely with other foods and as part of salsas and condiments.
Can You Eat Raw Tofu?
Tofu is often used with other foods, or on its own, but cooked and seasoned heavily. So if you’re wondering if tofu could be eaten raw? The answer is that it’s technically not raw to start with!
Tofu is made from soybeans, which are soaked, boiled, then processed into soy milk. The milk is then mixed with thickeners that transform it into tofu. However, if we consider uncooked tofu as raw food, then we might explore the possibilities a bit further.
It’s not uncommon to use tofu crumbles in salads or to use tofu cubes as side dishes. It’s also a versatile ingredient in smoothies, salsas, and as a base for ice cream.
The probability that tofu could cause food born illnesses isn’t too high. Yet, a bit of caution should be practiced. Especially for groups that haven’t developed their immune systems fully, like infants. Pregnant women and senior citizens should also be careful with eating raw tofu.
Eating Raw Steak?
There are several dishes that incorporate raw seasoned meat like steak Tartare, Italian Carpaccio, and Pittsburgh rare. They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and so you wouldn’t come across such dishes too often. It’s even more uncommon to see raw steak.
That’s because raw meat carries a high probability of food contamination with some serious pathogens. Bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and Shigella love breeding in raw meat. In addition to Escherichia coli, which we commonly know as E. coli.
All these agents that cause illness, and at times food poisoning, can be eliminated simply by cooking meat.
There are several claims that eating the meat raw has a higher nutritious value, but this wasn’t backed up by scientific research. Other anecdotal recommendations suggest that eating any food in its primitive form is generally beneficial. This too doesn’t come with any credible evidence.
Eating Raw Oats?
Oats are a highly popular breakfast staple that could be served cooked or raw.
Actually, preparing oats for consumption includes slight heat and moisture treatment. However, it doesn’t change the oats too much to the point that they wouldn’t be considered raw.
It’s preferable to eat raw oats after soaking them for a little while in milk, juice, or water. This makes the oats more digestible and decreases their phytic acid content. We aren’t too keen on phytic acid as it could block the absorption of healthy minerals, like iron and zinc.
Oats are considered among the healthy foods that could contribute to weight loss in a good way. In addition to lowering bad cholesterol, improving blood sugar, and adding fibre for proper gut functionality.
Among the popular ways you could incorporate raw oats into your diet is adding them to smoothies, yogurt, or making overnight-oats.
Can You Eat Halloumi Raw?
We’re all used to the nuanced flavours of grilled or fried halloumi cheese. But it’s quite as savory in its raw form. The elegant halloumi cheese comes all the way from Cyprus, and as such, lends itself easily to the Mediterranean dishes.
It’s sensational in a summer salad, with orange slices, apples, fennel, and peppers. And it’s the perfect addition that balances all flavours when paired with strawberry and baby spinach. That’s not all that raw halloumi is good for, grate it finely, and it can be a marvellous topping for pasta.
To maintain its safety, halloumi should be purchased in small amounts and served fresh. It needs to be stored in the fridge, which keeps it good for about a week.
Can You Eat Raw Pumpkin?
Pumpkin is often baked, sauteed, or stewed. That’s why many people aren’t sure whether they could eat pumpkin raw.
Actually, you can eat pumpkin raw, and it’s quite tasty and crunchy. You could also boost that fruity taste by adding a pinch of cinnamon. And if it’s a festive occasion, why not splurge on a dash of brown sugar too.
Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, the way most orange-coloured fruits and vegetables are. It’s low in calories, with only 30 calories in a cup, and minimal amounts of fat. Too much Vitamin A isn’t recommended though, so keep track of your daily consumption, especially if you take it in supplement form as well.
You could incorporate raw pumpkin in a healthy snack, by topping it up with a generous splash of chia seeds. And while you’re at it, throw into the mix the pumpkin seeds as well. This makes for a wellness boost that’ll show on your hair, skin, and general glow.
Can You Eat Brussels Sprouts Raw?
Brussels sprouts aren’t as widely popular as potatoes or tomatoes. Until recently, they were actually considered an ingredient for elegant dishes only. That’s probably why their best usage and cooking methods aren’t exactly general knowledge.
Most people know brussels sprouts in their cooked form. Grilled, sauteed, or roasted. And that’s for a good reason, they taste better in these forms. There’s also the factor of being easier to digest when cooked.
When it comes to eating brussels sprouts raw, there are two schools of thought. Some researchers found that sprouts, and cruciferous vegetables in general, contain anti-nutrients in their raw form. These chemicals limit the absorption of minerals and vitamins. However, when the vegetables are cooked, these chemicals become ineffective.
Other food experts downplay that effect and don’t mind at all presenting brussels sprouts raw in salads. They do recommend washing them thoroughly, shredding the sprouts, and peeling off the wilted layers. In addition to dousing the salad with spices and flavours. Raw brussels sprouts aren’t too tasty after all.
Can You Eat Eggplant Raw?
There are so many savoury dishes you can cook with eggplant. And it’s abundant in almost every cuisine worldwide. It’s never presented as a salad though, have you ever wondered why? Raw eggplants are very different in chemical composition from cooked eggplants. The uncooked form of this vegetable actually contains a potentially poisonous substance!
Eggplants, or aubergines, contain a chemical called solanine. When this substance is ingested in small amounts, it might cause only mild indigestion. However, a critical quantity could be life-threatening.
The good news is that cooking neutralises solanine, and renders it ineffective. Besides the toxicity factor, eggplants also have a bitter taste when raw. This is overcome by marinating sliced eggplants in a generous sprinkle of salt.
Can You Eat Cabbage Raw?
Cabbage has been around for thousands of years. It’s available in many varieties with vastly different shapes, colours, and flavours. It’s no wonder then that this ancient vegetable is known worldwide, and can be consumed in a multitude of ways.
The highly nutritious cabbage is often used in soups, but it can also be roasted, baked, steamed, or sauteed. Some cuisines present it stuffed with rice and other herbs, which takes it to a whole other level of deliciousness. But can it be eaten raw?
Yes, it can, and it is. It’s quite normal to see a chopped cabbage used in salads and side dishes. Or even as garnitures for a luxurious entree or piece de resistance. Let’s not get too fancy and forget the main and highly popular usage of raw cabbage, which is the coleslaw salad.
Can You Eat Quinoa Raw?
Quinoa is another ancient food that’s been revered by the old civilisations of South America. It was known for its healthful benefits and satisfying taste. In recent times, it was rediscovered and introduced to the four corners of the world.
Quinoa is rich in proteins, fibres, minerals, and vitamins. It’s also gluten-free, so it’s easily digestible by people who aren’t too happy around wheat. It’s a versatile food that can also be used with a host of other ingredients, to complement its taste and texture. But can you eat quinoa raw? Well, not entirely!
Quinoa seeds have to go through a soaking process and sprouting process before they’re used in their raw form. That’s because quinoa seeds have a bitter coating substance called saponin. And a good soak dissolves it. Here’s how it’s done:
- Choose untreated quinoa seeds
- Wash and remove the debris or bad seeds
- Soak in warm water for at least eight hours
- Rinse the quinoa seeds and place them in glass containers
- Top up the containers with water, and leave for three days
- Change the water frequently to avoid moulding
- When the quinoa starts sprouting, strain and rinse it
- Put it in a fridge to keep it from moulding
- If mould shows on the sprouts at any stage, throw the seeds
To get the maximum benefit from quinoa, it’s advisable to check with your doctor or nutritionist before consuming it raw.
Can You Eat Bean Sprouts Raw?
Bean sprouts are commonly incorporated into many stir-fries, soups, and salads. So they can be eaten raw. They’re commonly soaked and sprouted in a manner similar to what we did with quinoa seeds above.
It’s worth noting that sprouting seeds or legumes often holds the possibility of food contamination. In the case of sprouted foods, mould is an ever-present risk. That’s why high-risk groups with lower immunity or higher sensitivity should be careful with consuming such foods. This category includes children, pregnant women, and elderly people.
On the other hand, clean bean sprouts that are free from bacteria or other contaminants, contain huge amounts of nutrients. Often exceeding the un-sprouted form. They can be incorporated in sandwiches, wraps, or salads.
Can You Eat Squash Raw?
There are about 25 different varieties of squash, that can be broadly classified into summer squash and winter squash.
Among these are pumpkins, zucchinis, gourds, and marrows. We are well acquainted with the pumpkins that we bake and the ones that we carve for Halloween, but are there squashes we can eat raw?
Winter squashes are often hard, fibrous, and not too tasty. Some of them are outright inedible, and often used for decorative purposes. The edible ones wouldn’t be that palatable without cooking.
Summer squash is a very different story. It has a mild taste and often soft texture. Zucchini and its close cousin yellow squash are easily incorporated into salads and entrees. Especially, when they are peeled into thin slices or intriguing spirals.
Can You Eat Chickpeas Raw?
You might be thinking about canned chickpeas, and how plump and mushy they are. Well, that’s because they’re already cooked. Raw chickpeas are dry and hard, and it’s not really something you could enjoy munching on. Especially, when you compare it to the savoury cooked alternatives.
There’s a raw form of chickpeas you can try though, which is soaked and sprouted chickpeas. It’s done in a manner similar to sprouted quinoa seeds mentioned above. They also hold the same food contamination risks, so caution should be practiced to maximise safe usage.
Sprouted chickpeas are quite nutritious, and add plenty of flavour to salads. They can also be mixed up with tahini and garlic to make hummus, or simply served as a healthy snack.
Can Beetroot Be Eaten Raw?
Did you know that the plump roots of beetroots aren’t the only edible parts of that vegetable? The leaves are also delicious and nutritious, and can easily be treated the way you would baby spinach. Does that mean you can eat beetroots raw?
Absolutely. It’s actually better to eat beetroots raw, as their abundant antioxidants decrease with the application of heat. We only resort to cooking beetroot to balance its taste and soften its texture a bit. However, you can use it raw in palatable ways.
Beetroot is a wonderful addition to healthy smoothies, as it adds a dash of colour, and doesn’t overpower the taste of the beverage. It can also be shredded or sliced thinly for use within salads or entrees.
What Are The Best Vegetables to Eat Raw?
To eat a vegetable raw, it has to be healthy in that form. So, first of all, make sure that it doesn’t contain any chemicals that could be hard to digest or carry any toxins.
Raw vegetables should also have a nice taste and an appealing texture. Thus, incorporating them in salads, or serving them as a snack would be easy. Otherwise, you’d find yourself rushing to the stove for a better culinary experience.
Here are some of the best vegetables to eat raw:
- Bell peppers
How to Prepare Raw Vegetables
Here are a few pro tips to get the most benefit from these veggies:
- Always get the best produce for your salads or raw dishes.
- The seasonal picks are always better than all-year-round produce.
- Buy small amounts only, vegetables spoil quickly.
- Use herbs and spices profusely to add layers of flavour.
- Experiment with international cuisines.
- Proper presentation of vegetables is key to their appeal, use the kitchen tools.
- Cut, shred, shape, and juxtapose the colours of nature.
- Spend some time on making the dish pretty.
- Always serve and eat the raw vegetables fresh, frozen varieties aren’t too good.
- Make a daily habit of eating some of your vegetables raw.
The Bottom Line
In ancient times, everything was eaten raw. Then came the age when fire was discovered, and humanity started enjoying all kinds of culinary pleasures. Yet, some foods were still eaten raw!
There’s a whole bunch of nutrients and healthy substances that degrade with cooking.
Antioxidants and vitamin C top the list of these essential chemicals that shy away from the heat. It’s thus imperative to include some raw food in our daily meals.
Caution should be practiced, of course, while selecting which foods you should eat raw, and which ones should be cooked. Some foods contain unhealthy chemicals when raw, and some just don’t taste too well, and need the grill to jazz up a bit.
That was our ultimate guide to foods you can eat raw. We hope it gives you plenty of inspiration for creating delicious and nutritious foods every day.
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