Bananas are the third largest crop in the world and with good reason. They’re an inexpensive and accessible food that’s highly transportable, making them the perfect snack on the go! This popular fruit is an amazing source of potassium, Vitamin B6 and the amino acid tryptophan, which acts as a mood elevator and sleep aid.
Bananas are also a good source of the soluble fiber fructooligosaccharides (FOS). This particular form of fiber is a prebiotic and is important for the proliferation of healthy gut bacteria. The FOS found in bananas make them especially important for those on a gluten-free diet, as wheat is actually the number one source of prebiotics in the average diet. When eating this fruit on a regular basis, try to wait until they’re showing brown spots as this means that the complex starches have turned into sugars. At this stage, bananas are much more digestible and sweet tasting.
Lemons are one of the richest sources of vitamins and minerals of any food that can be found consistently throughout the year. They’re also easy to find at a reasonable price in most places in the world. Fresh lemon juice is a great way to make plain water a little more interesting and may be the most inexpensive way to add alkaline minerals to your diet.
One of the tastiest ways to consume lemon juice is in the classic Master Cleanser lemonade. Simply mix purified water with freshly squeezed lemon juice, real maple syrup and cayenne pepper. This drink is great for assisting the body with its natural morning detox cycle, as it provides calories while helping rid the body of excess mucus and also stimulates circulation. If you are avoiding any type of added sugar you can substitute the maple syrup for a zero calorie sweetener such as green stevia leaf or stevia extract.
While kale is one of the most popular greens right now, it may not be the best choice for daily consumption due to its high levels of goitrogens which can effect thyroid function by interfering with the absorption of iodine. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it can also be quite difficult to digest raw for many people.
Celery rates much higher as a daily staple, particularly because it’s so high in both water content and minerals. Celery is a great natural source of the essential mineral sodium, making this veggie a great option for satisfying a salty food craving for anyone on a reduced sodium diet. Celery makes an easy and tasty snack on it’s own or dipped in your favorite nut butter.
4. Raw Tahini
The sesame seeds that make up tahini are another nutritional powerhouse. Sesame seeds contain some of the highest concentrations of calcium and zinc among all plant foods. They’re also high in certain amino acids that are less common on a plant-based diet such as arginine, lysine and methionine.
An incredibly easy and versatile recipe for raw tahini is to mix it with miso paste, a little water and either lecithin powder or granules. The full recipe for this sauce can be found in Uncooking with Jameth and Kim, a classic raw recipe book written by the formulators of Healthforce Nutritional products. This sauce is fantastic on mashed potatoes or gluten-free pasta whenever you’re craving more rich and savory foods.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes were the traditional dietary staple of the famously long lived Okinawan culture in Japan. These isolated populations were famous for having access to few imported foods, yet still boasting impressive health, vitality and longevity.
These delicious root vegetables can be a fantastic source of calories when high quality fruit and vegetables aren’t accessible. Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber, beta carotene, Vitamin C and protein. Potatoes also tend to digest more easily than grains for most people due to their relatively higher water content. This makes them a suitable cooked carbohydrate for those who either don’t wish to or simply can’t afford to eat an all raw food diet.
Sweet potatoes make an especially great staple because they can be prepared so many different ways. They taste wonderful in soup, baked as fries, steamed or boiled. For homemade low-fat potato chips, thinly slice and season 8-10 yams. Place them on a baking sheet in the oven on its lowest setting until they come out crispy or on your dehydrator trays for 12 hours.
6. Chia seeds
Consuming foods with a high omega-3 content is important for everyone, especially those eating high quantities of plant foods. Some may argue that animal sources are the only suitable way to include omega-3 in the diet. I believe in the power of the human body to convert these long chain fatty acids as needed, which is the way those living on low animal product diets have done in many cultures throughout history. Chia seeds contain many nutrients required for optimal health, including a naturally balanced ratio of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and all nine essential amino acids.
Chia seeds also make a gentle detoxifier as the smooth gel they create when mixed with water helps to soothe the digestive tract and keep you regular. Due to their high fiber content, adding them to smoothies and salads is a great way to stay full longer and help to stabilize blood sugar. Unlike fish or flax oils, chia can be stored in the fridge for long periods of time without going rancid due to their high antioxidant content.
Rice is among the most cost effective calorie sources on a plant based diet. Many centenarians have made rice a daily meal and numerous cultures around the world base their entire diet around this grain. In Thailand, the words “to eat” translate directly to “eat rice”. As you may know, brown rice contains more fiber, healthy fats and B vitamins than white rice. However, the protein in white rice is actually made more digestible because it’s separated from the bran during the polishing process.
I feel white rice can make an amazing staple due to its digestibility and high carbohydrate content. There may be foods that boast a more impressive nutritional profile, but few are easier to store, cook, and eat as rice grains. I often love the simplicity of having a big bowl of rice with a splash of tamari for dinner. And so does my wallet! Make sure you buy organic if you want to make sure it is non-GMO, as there are many GMO varieties out there that are not labeled.