Keeping Warm on a Raw Food Diet


If I were given the choice between a cold raw meal and a warm hearty one on a chilly winter’s day, I think I know which one I would choose.  BUT who said being a raw foodie means you can’t enjoy a warm meal on top of the many salads, smoothies and cold meals which are a part of our diet? There is a bit of free reign as raw food only needs to be consumed 70% of the time if you want to consider yourself a raw foodie (1).

A raw food diet allows food to be warmed up to 37֯ C so that it is still classified as ‘living’ (2). Other solutions to keeping you from needing to rug up when you eat could include warming up your plate before use, or eating food at room temp if previously refrigerated.

Eating a split meal (half raw half cooked meal) is a great way to manage cravings for a hearty fry up.  You could try a soup coupled with a raw salad, or a vegetarian stir fry on raw cauliflower rice with a cold pressed green juice.

Different foods have warming or cooling effects when added to foods. According to Barry Swanson, a professor and food scientist at Washington State University, cold foods are expected to cool down the body which they often do (3).

However, there are other foods such as curries which cool down the body when you would expect them to warm it up (4). It has also been found that foods containing high quantities of fats, protein and carbs heat the body through the digestive process as they take longer to be processed by the body, requiring more energy (5).

The temperature of a food such as ice cream may cause a cooling sensation at first but as your body begins to digest it, it releases heat due to the increased energy the body needs to digest it and to change the temperature to match the human body, for optimal digestion.

As a rule of thumb, the higher the water content in foods, the cooler they keep your body as they do not require as much time to be digested (e.g. vegetables and fruit). That’s why the selection of juicy fruits are so much vaster in the summer time – our bodies are craving them!

There are a number of foods, herbs and spices that can be added to your meals as a raw foodie to keep you warm during the winter but can also have an external cooling effect if they cause one to sweat (6). These include cinnamon, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, coriander, curry powders/pastes, coriander, cumin, paprika, mustard, turmeric, cloves, all spice, fennel, hot peppers, fatty seeds and nuts, radish, oats, carob, dehydrated foods, carrots, squash, coconut, dates, parsnip, sprouted legumes, onions and chili (7,8).

A diet low in magnesium has also been said to cause feelings of coldness which can be contributed to by increased exercise and stress, causing increased loss of magnesium (9).

Warming smoothie recipe

Smoothies are a great way to get a whole heap of goodness into you in a quick, tasty and nutritious way. But in the winter, many people lose their enthusiasm for green drinks because they’re just too cold.

If you find yourself in this boat, give this Anti Inflammatory Smoothie a try. It’s packed with ingredients that not only give the illusion of warmth (hello pepper) but also that help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

1 1/2 cups water  |  20g cube of fresh turmeric (or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder)  |  20g fresh ginger  |  1/2 lemon, squeezed  |  1 banana  |  2 tsp cinnamon powder  |  Pinch of cayenne pepper

1). Place all ingredients into a blender and blend for several minutes, until smooth. Serves 2.

Although winter does not provide us with the widest variety of in season and locally produced fruit and vegetables, there are still a few that can be found to help fend off the flu and add flavor to your raw dishes in the colder seasons (10).

These include the following:

Oranges: Loaded with vitamin C to keep the flu away and flavonoids known for reducing the risk of cancer.

Leafy greens: Packed with vitamin A, C, K, E as well as iron, manganese, potassium, phytochemicals and antioxidants. They’re known to aid with digestion and lower cholesterol and they are also low in calories.

Beetroot: Rich in vitamins A, B, C, as well as antioxidants, potassium and folate.

Cabbage: Not only is it cheap, it is also packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.

Celeriac: High in fiber, low in calories and rich in vitamin C and phosphorus for strong teeth and bones.

There are numerous ways to keep warm whilst still maintaining your raw food diets. Having the knowledge of which foods have cooling and warming effects and which fruit and vegetables are in season is handy when preparing your meals as well as keeping you on track with your diets during the indulgent cooler seasons.

~ Article written by:

 Ashleigh Vaughan (Nutrition Student) & Tamara Brown (The Raw Food Girl)