We all know that eating more fresh, whole foods -- especially fruits and vegetables -- is good for our health, but the thought of going 100% raw is a notion that can easily bring fear (or at the least, disinterest) into the hearts and minds of the average working professional, busy mother, or fast-food junkie. However, if you are like many this month, you might be considering a shift to a healthier diet and lifestyle in light of the new year. Here are my best tips for making the transition to eating more raw foods painless and fun, no matter what your current diet or lifestyle!
1. Start with breakfast.
As the first meal of the day, your break-fast should be filling enough to power you through the morning routine, whether that's until lunch break at your high-powered 9-5 stint, or until nap time for the stay-at-home mom tribe. The easiest way to pack in the nutritional power of fresh, whole foods (even greens!) is with a smoothie. Made in minutes, you can take it out the door and on the road with little effort. I suggest trying a few recipes and printing out the ones that work well for you and your family, then posting them up by your blender for easy access in a rush. Protein from nuts, nut butter or milk, or easy add-in protein powders will keep you full for hours, and fruits and a bit of greens will give you nutrients you might be lacking. Consider adding in healthy fats such as coconut oil or even a dose of vegan or regular DHA oil and start your day off on the right footing!
2. Convert snacks to raw.
Ditch those mid-morning pastries from the office lounge or coffee shop and switch them out for raw snacks. Mixed nuts and seeds, fresh fruit or dried goji berries, pre-made snacks like Lara Bars (in moderation due to sugar content), or even just a handful of baby carrots does way more for your health than snacks made from bleached flour, refined sugar and vegetable oils. You can easily prep snacks on the weekend in small baggies or reusable containers and store them in the fridge or pantry for easy access during the week ahead.
3. Trade lattes for green juices or coconut water.
I'm not demanding you give up your 'cup of Joe' for good, but switching out one cup of afternoon coffee for a cold-pressed juice or hydrating coconut water just might give you more energy than you might think. Look for juices with veggies in addition to fruits (as pure fruit juices are typically high in sugar) at familiar cafes or grocery stores on your way to work to make pick-up convenient, or make a big batch of juice at home on the weekends, pour it into disposable or reusable containers, and place them in the freezer. Grab a juice to-go on your way out the door each morning, and it will be defrosted by afternoon, ready for you to enjoy.
4. Add-in to dinners.
I like to advocate increasing raw food intake by way of adding instead of subtracting. Continue with your normal dinner routine if you wish, but simply add a serving of raw veggies to your plate. This could be as easy as a heaping handful of grated raw carrots, some raw cauliflower or broccoli florets (perfect for dipping in hummus if you are having a Mediterranean meal), or fresh corn (yes - you can eat corn raw!).
5. Indulge in (raw) desserts.
When my husband and I first started getting into raw food, I became obsessed with raw desserts. Make the decision that if you are going to have dessert after dinner, it must be raw! The internet is full of raw food dessert recipes at your fingertips, and you can easily whip up a batch of raw fruit and nut bars or raw sorbet on the weekends and enjoy a small serving on hectic weeknights after dinner.
Whatever your healthy resolutions are for the new year, success in adding more nutrient-rich foods to your daily diet can be both easy, fun and delicious. As with most major life changes, planning is the key to success, and these tips should have you well on your way to becoming a raw food aficionado in no time!
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