Raw food revolution

Judith Wills / 09 February 2016

Our diet expert drops a few pounds testing recipes for a raw food recipe book.



So my fairly quiet January turned into a manically busy February with no let-up in sight until towards the end of March, which in one way is how I like it. 

Years ago Husband used to say to me, discussing my private pension arrangements, “You won’t still want to be working when you’re 65, will you?”  And I would say ‘no’.  But now here I am, not far off 67 and working, not quite full-time if you average out my hours over a year, but not part-time either.  

As any other freelance self-employed person will know – working life is either nothing coming in at all, or working 18-hour days for weeks on end to get a commission done in time.  Rarely any balanced middle ground. 

I mention this because keeping very busy really is the most excellent way of cutting back on your food and drink intake.  The days whizz by in a flurry of panic and concentration and running, even round the house, rather than idling along.  Food is the last thing on your mind and for me, trying to lose the last few of the surplus 12 pounds that gave me rather a shock this side of Christmas, that can only be good.

Related: Brain tricks for weight loss

The slight downside is that the majority of my work this month is devising and testing recipes for a book!!  But at least the recipes aren’t bakes, or anything like.  They are, er, raw.  Yes you read that correctly, raw. 

I’m busy concocting raw breakfasts, raw lunches, raw suppers, raw snacks, raw flipping everything.  There are a few sweet recipes (using raw honey, raw agave nectar and the like) but mostly, they are the kind of thing young avant garde fans of clean eating will have been chomping on for the past year or two, waiting for me to catch up.

To me, raw really is quite a new area.  I’ve handled dairy-free recipes, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, low sugar and so on with aplomb, but everything raw (even down to not being able to use most dried spices or even normal yogurt) is something else.

And actually, I’m quite enjoying it.  I’m tasting things I would probably not have considered trying if it weren’t for work.  And I’m finding that I actually like a pretty high proportion of what I’m producing.  

I didn’t think I’d see the day when I’d start the morning with a breakfast of kale, carrot and Medjool date salad with a dressing of oil and cider vinegar and actually enjoy every mouthful of it – but I did today. 

Related: The best healthy breakfasts

I’ve also loved a lunch of raw butternut and courgette ‘fries’ served with a creamy homemade cashew nut dip.  And there’s plenty more.

So I’ve learnt a good lesson here.  In future I’ll be trying to keep more of an open mind to new things be they food, exercise or wellbeing related.  No, you still won’t get me liking a kale smoothie (at least not for the time being) but it’s all a start, and what with all the raw vegetables and lack of cheese, bread (though I am about to test a raw loaf!), roast dinners with Yorkshire pudding, and so on and so on, and with the rushing around and getting up early to get everything done – I do believe I’ve lost a couple more pounds!  Result!

Judith Wills' kale and date raw salad

Kale salad recipe

Here’s the recipe for the kale salad.  I can’t give you exact amounts for everything, otherwise my publishers may get slightly annoyed, but you can get the gist.

To serve 2, de-stalk a couple of mugfuls of fresh young kale leaves and chop as necessary.  Put into your serving bowl with some very finely sliced carrot, some red skinned apple slices and a few chopped Medjool dates.

Make a dressing with cold pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil, a little apple cider vinegar, a dash of mustard (I used stoneground as most commercial mustard isn’t raw!), a little proper maple syrup (I used raw, ditto), and sea salt and black pepper to taste.  Toss the salad with the dressing.

Sprinkle over plenty of chopped walnuts and some seeds of your choice, e.g. sunflower, pumpkin, sesame. 

You can eat it straight away but I actually had mine in the fridge overnight as I had made it in the evening.  I think it was even better for the kale having soaked in the dressing.

Really, really nice!  I may never eat cornflakes again.

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