Raw Food on the Go – Quick & Easy Tips to Stay Raw when Eating Out, Travelling or Caught Without your Packed Lunch
I often hear from busy mums that one of the biggest obstacles for transitioning to a raw food diet is getting caught out without an easy raw option. We don’t live in a world that’s set up for raw foodists and I absolutely hear your pain. Sometimes when kids and life are taking up every last little ounce of your time and energy, surrendering to a take-away meal can be so tempting.
If grabbing a sandwich or a ready-made meal is going to save your sanity, don’t feel bad about it! Do what you need to do to keep yourself and your babies functioning and nourished. But when the fast-food temptation becomes a habit, and the habit becomes your default approach, that’s when you feel yourself falling off the wagon. That’s when you notice that somehow you are no longer raw, or even semi-raw…before you know it, you’re taking the easy option every single time and you’re no longer on the path you want to be travelling.
I’ve been there too! These days I have a good arsenal of raw quick-fixes that have saved me from either starvation or eating something I would really rather not be eating.
Here are my top tips for eating raw on the go, whether you’re eating out with friends, holidaying away from your kitchen and comfort zone, or simply hungry while you’re out and about with no healthy snacks in your handbag.
Eating Out Raw
Depending on whether you live in a city or rural area, there may be some amazing restaurants and cafes that are either totally raw, or cater to raw diets. In metropolitan areas these places are becoming more and more common. The awesome thing for us is that raw food is, ironically, SO HOT RIGHT NOW that even established eateries are adding raw options to their menus.
One of the best things you can do to keep yourself on the raw path is to do your research. Find out where all the raw and raw-friendly options are in your area, and make a beeline for them whenever you have the occasion to treat yourself to a restaurant meal. Encourage non-raw family and friends to try new places with you. If you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by options, make a list and hit those places one by one until you’ve found your favourites. Keep your list in your phone so that you can access it easily whenever you have a spontaneous craving for a delicious raw splurge.
When you live in country areas, finding raw-friendly dining options is a bit more of a challenge. That means that if you head out for a restaurant meal you’ll most likely be attempting to get a feed from a menu that mainly features burgers, pasta and basically a million things you don’t want to eat. What can you do?
Here’s where you can get a little creative. You’ll need to pre-plan a bit for this. I’ve found that many commercial kitchens are actually really happy to create something special for you when their menu doesn’t have any option for you, as long as you give them a bit of notice. A little phone chat a week in advance could be the difference between you eating lettuce at your cousin’s birthday dinner, or having a nice big bowl of raw sustenance at the ready.
You probably won’t be getting a gourmet raw meal made from dehydrated sprouted legumes and lovingly blended pre-soaked nuts, but here are some simple suggestions that flexible kitchens may be willing to make for you:
- Raw vegetable crudites with lemon juice and raw herbs
- The “big salad” – leafy greens, cucumber, tomato and sprouts with olives, mushrooms and sesame seeds
- Mexican salsa – a giant bowl of chopped cucumber, tomato, celery, capsicum and coriander with simple guacamole (avocado, lime juice, coriander, fresh chilli and garlic).
If you’re a bit squeamish about seeming high-maintenance at a restaurant, skip the pre-ordering tactic and just turn up with a plan. Research the restaurant’s menu beforehand and pinpoint the salad options. Order the salad and just request that they leave out any meat, cheese or cooked items, and get them to replace with finely sliced raw veggies. Tell them to just pack them on. And thank them for being accommodating.
You won’t be eating something that blows your mind, but that’s not the aim here. The aim is for you to join in with social eating with people who are important to you, without having to feel like there is nothing for you to eat. Save the gourmet raw for at home in your own kitchen where you can put some thought and love into nourishing yourself, but when you’re out in the world, do what you can to adapt.
A family holiday can be the undoing of many good intentions. You’ve booked a nice holiday house that promises to have a well-equipped kitchen, and it’s near to local shops so you figure it will be pretty easy to stock up on your go-to raw ingredients.
But when you arrive, you find a kitchen that is indeed well-equipped…for families who love meat, barbecues and cook-ups. There’s barely a big salad bowl, let alone a blender or carrot peeler. And the “local shop” is a corner store that mostly features canned and frozen goods – or there’s a perfectly decent shop just five minutes away but it’s closed on Sundays!
This is where it can be oh so helpful to create a holiday kit. Yes, again with the pre-planning, but nobody said raw food was easy! There are challenges and hurdles around every corner. The trick is to anticipate them and have a solution already worked out.
Here’s what I love to pack for my holiday kit:
- Blender (a personal blender like the Tribest is ideal for travel)
- Coffee grinder or flaxseed mill (or if your blender is small enough, it may be able to do the trick)
- Julienne peeler (SO useful for easy raw noodles)
- Giant salad/mixing bowl
- A decent kitchen knife or two
- Several screw-top jars – at least one per family member.
With this basic kit, I can turn even the most limited kitchen into a raw feast factory. With the above equipment I can make green smoothies, simple salads and raw pastas that make excellent travelling meals. Just pop your lunches into screw-top jars and keep them in a cooler bag in the car. That way, you have your daytrip meals sorted and ready, and you can make them fresh each morning before you head out exploring.
Then I like to pack a box of both fresh and pantry staples. If you’re familiar with the area and you know there’s a store within easy reach where you can stock up, you might not need to take a carton of groceries. Personally I like to know what our first day’s breakfast, lunch and dinner will be so that we can spend some time settling in when we arrive at our destination, so a big box of goodies is ideal to see us through. I take:
- A big selection of our favourite easy-prep raw veggies
- Plenty of fresh fruit
- Lots of fresh herbs
- A big bag of mixed raw nuts
- A big bag of mixed raw seeds
- Some lemons and limes
- A selection of spices
- Some aromats like ginger and garlic
- Organic stevia
- A jar of coconut oil
- Some quality probiotics.
As long as I have these fallback items, I know that I can put together some easy raw meals that travel well so that we can enjoy some family time away from home. Your kit may differ – the trick is to take equipment and ingredients that you can adapt for a few different purposes.
Caught Without Your Packed Lunch
Sometimes you find yourself out and about with no emergency snack to turn to. Maybe you left your lunch at home or perhaps you had no time to make it in the first place. You can feel your tummy rumbling and you start to panic because it will be hours before you get home and you just don’t know what to eat.
It’s easy enough to head to the supermarket or greengrocer and purchase a pre-made salad, a few pieces of fruit or a bag of nuts. But what about when you want a MEAL, dammit! You want something you can take back to your desk at work, or to the park before your workout, or you just want something with a bit of flavour to get you through your afternoon of window shopping.
Here are some of my favourite supermarket aisle raw meals that you can stealthily assemble with minimal effort:
- Get yourself a premade raw coleslaw, a packet of nori (seaweed) sheets*, an avocado, some fresh coriander and a packet of raw sesame seeds. Arrange the slaw in a line across a sheet of nori, top with sliced avocado, sprinkle with coriander leaves and sesame seeds and roll up. You’ll need a knife for the avocado so this works best when you have access to a small kitchen such as your workplace or gym. (*Nori sheets are not technically raw so if you are 100% raw, use a large green leaf like silverbeet or iceberg lettuce instead.)
- Grab a long cucumber, a jar of raw nut butter and a bag of pepitas. Cut the cucumber into 1cm round slices. Top with nut butter (break and dunk if you have no knife handy) and sprinkle with pepitas. These are quite yummy and after a few you’ll feel surprisingly full.
- Buy a couple of bananas, a green apple, some raw almonds and either some shredded coconut or a jar of coconut oil. Chop the fruit and nuts and mix together in a bowl and top with shredded coconut or a big blob of coconut oil. The coconut is fatty and satisfying. This is also a great one when you are craving something sweet. For an added treat, throw in some chopped medjool dates.
- Mix some chia seeds with pure pineapple juice and full-fat coconut milk (about half-half). Leave the mixture to soak for 10-15 minutes or until the chia seeds have soaked up the liquid and become plump and soft (not crunchy). You’ll need a bowl for this so it’s not so great for a quick feed on the run but it’s great for an afternoon pick-me-up on a workday. It’s like a whole food pina colada pudding!
With a bit of perseverance, planning and creativity, eating raw on the go is not only manageable, it can be quite fun. It’s all about mindset. Expect challenges when embarking on a raw lifestyle, and know that you have the determination and intelligence to make it work.
Do you have any tips to share about eating raw on the go? I’d love to hear your innovative ideas!