Eating Raw When You Have Visitors

Want to go raw?
Eating raw when you are hosting visitors can present multiple dilemmas. Should you include your guests in your raw food diet? After all, if you were vegetarian you would be unlikely to serve visitors meat. If not, how can you maintain your own raw food health whilst preparing cooked food to provide to others?

In practice the best way is probably a compromise. Take the chance to introduce your visitors to some elements of your raw food diet, and don’t feel guilty if you share an enjoyable cooked meal with your guests. After all, there are no rules, just whatever makes you feel good. At the same time you can be mindful that your raw food diet doesn’t slip away from you by implementing some of the following strategies.

Stick to your routine
Don’t break the fundamentals of your raw food health routine. Continue to provide yourself your usual raw smoothies, snacks and salads. That way, any tempting cooked foods you indulge in will be smaller serves. You are still able to participate in meals to be sociable but won’t throw out the balance of your raw diet too far.

Provide substitutes for coffee and alcohol
Sticking to your routine tends to become harder over longer periods of time. Whilst welcoming and enjoyable, entertaining guests for long periods can be tiring, and it’s when you’re tired that it’s most easy to slip back into non-raw eating habits. I usually fall into the vicious circle of alcohol and caffeine – I drink with company and then need the coffee next morning to get me through the morning.

Try to prepare non-alcoholic juices or smoothies as an alternative to wine and beer. You might be surprised how many of your guests opt to share a delicious watermelon, cranberry juice and mint combination served in a wine glass. Raw cacao can be a useful substitute for coffee, blended into a creamy smoothie with avocado, banana, goji berries and agave nectar. An apple first thing in the morning when you are breaking your fast can give you a rush similar to coffee, and it will taper off gradually rather than crash.

Note that on a raw food diet my alcohol cravings are pretty much nil, even in a party environment. This has been a big change for me, but I’m enjoying my ability to have a good time without it and still feel great the next morning.

Share the inspiration
Often visitors will be inspired by the changes you're making in your life and the visible results of a raw food diet. It’s surprising how many people have a treasured health goal that they aspire to but are not yet actively working towards. When they see the positive results of your raw food choices people feel encouraged to begin taking small steps in the direction of their own better health.

This has happened several times at my place, particularly at breakfast time. Serve an enticing platter of chopped fruits and offer to share your jug of green smoothie. The taste of green smoothies is surprisingly delicious considering how some combinations can look, and visitors are pleasantly surprised when they take up the offer to give it a try. Most adventurous souls report feeling more energetic almost immediately after drinking up their green smoothies. Maybe it’s just the psychology of knowing you’re giving your body pure goodness, the best fuel possible. But what the heck, give me a placebo that works anytime...

Add raw goodness to every meal
There are a huge variety of raw beverages, salads and desserts that can be added easily to a regular cooked meal. So far I still prepare cooked food for my visitors, but raw dishes accompanying cooked foods outnumber them 4 to 1. Having a couple of juicy salads on the table also gives you the advantage of being able to fill your plate with raw food and still feel like you’re at the same party as everyone else.

Get your visitors to pick their own raw ingredients
If your time is leisurely, stroll through the veggie patch and harvest what you’ll eat with your visitors, then prepare smoothies and salads together to share.

Get prepared
Down the track I’d like to introduce visitors to a raw food diet more fully, if only for their own experimentation. After all, I’m the main chef, and when in Rome... So far though I haven’t figured out how to provide a continuous stream of raw gourmet meals to a larger group of people, it takes a lot of preparation that I haven’t got my head around yet. However, I have already learnt that it helps to prepare the following in advance for yourself and any interested visitors – you do want to have time to just hang out with your guests, not be stuck bench chopping and blending.

• Have smoothie ingredients washed or chopped ready to go and stored in containers in the fridge. You can even store the ingredients you are going to combine together (not the bananas though!)

• Prepare a few of your favourite salad dressings beforehand and store them in glass jars in the fridge. Just give them a shake when you’re ready to use them. A combination of lemon juice, olive oil, agave nectar, Himalayan crystal salt and cayenne pepper has converted even my reluctant father into a salad eater.

• Dehydrate pizza bases and crackers ahead of time.

• Blend up a “cheese” of nuts, garlic and lemon juice that will make a delicious addition crumbled over salads and store it in the fridge.

• Marinate zucchini or eggplant slices for raw lasagne.

• Prepare a batch of tomato sauce for using in raw pizza or pasta recipes.

• Sprout in advance.

Last tip... if you know your visitors well, ask them not to bring the usual wine and chocolates but to bring you some exotic fruit instead!

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