Eat this! (not every title can be a winner, but check out these Raw Burritos)

I love Sunday mornings.  Since college, I’ve appreciated having one part of my week being dedicated to being intentionally slow.  Sometimes I troll recipe blogs or watch silly YouTube videos with my partner (this has become a favorite).  Today, I’m spending it drinking my coffee at a leisurely pace (I’m on my second cup already) and writing about raw food burritos (and no, I don’t meant steak tartar and crunchy rice wrapped up in a tortilla).

I’ve been reading a lot recently about raw vegan diets and, a more recent phenomenon, the Paleo Diet, one that tries to recreate a diet that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed.  The Paleo Diet stresses consumption of “fresh meats…eggs…seafood, fresh fruits, [vegetables], nuts and seeds and healthful fats”, while avoiding, well, pretty much everything else, including dairy, salt, and often caffeine, alcohol, and marijuana*.  Raw food diets are a little more self explanatory: your diet consists of raw fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, some roots, and perhaps some fermented foods and salts.  All of your food is prepared fresh, and cooking is essentially limited to dehydration.

There are ups and downs to both diets, the most evident being the many (but not all) adherents to either diet are often self-righteous tightwads.  Seriously, spend a few hours with a groups of raw vegans and see if can resist grinding your teeth.  These diets are easier to follow in locations where access to fresh vegetation is more readily available; having spent five miserable winters in New England, it’s easy to see why adhering to raw veganism might be difficult.  The Paleo Diet sounds like a great idea at first glance, but depending on meat, and often red meat, as the bulk of your caloric intake can lead to high risk of heart disease, kidney problems, and certain cancers.  On the bright side, these diets do advocate for increased consciousness of what you are eating, when you are eating throughout the course of a day, and greater food preparation at home rather than depending on prepared and packaged food.  Furthermore, both the Paleo Diet and raw veganism advocate for an active lifestyle with plenty of exercise, meditation, yoga, and other activities.  At the heart of both diets is increasing your nutritional intake and trying to eat in harmony with your surrounding environment, and it is hard to be angry at that.

For me, these diets are exciting opportunities to try a new recipe, which brings me to the burritos.  I apologize for not having pictures to accompany this post, so bear with me.

Raw food or raw vegan burritos are essentially a handheld salad on the go.  They’re a fun addition to dinners and potlucks (or Superbowl parties, which I will be hopping tonight), and they are highly versatile; there is no right or wrong way to enjoy these.  There are really only two ingredients that I think are necessary for raw burritos.  The first are collard greens, which will serve as your tortilla.  Collards are related to kale and cabbage, and are extremely healthy; the leaves have high quantities of fiber and calcium (great for people who are avoiding dairy), and also pack Vitamins A, C, and K.  The second necessity is avocado.  I like adding avocado because it provides a healthy dose of monounsaturated fat (the kind that helps maintain low cholesterol levels), Vitamin E, and fiber, and it adds a creaminess that goes will with whatever else you are adding to your burrito.

Here’s the process:

Peel and mash your avocado. Using a sharp knife, shave the stalk of the collard green leaf off so that your leaf is flatter and more amenable to folding.  Lay your leaf out flat and spread some of the mashed avocado.  Add your other vegetables, not so much that your burrito will be overstuffed and burst, but enough to have a good blend of flavors.  Fold the bottom of your leaf (the broad top part without the stalk ending) up and over to create a pocket, and then fold the two sides of the collard leaf over the middle, one over the other.  If you want, feel free to attach a twist tie or rubber band to the middle to hold the burrito together.  That’s it!  The fillings are up to you, but here are some ideas:

  • Bean sprouts
  • Grated root vegetables (I like shredded carrot and turnip mixed with lemon juice)
  • Brussel sprout leaves
  • Nut butter spread
  • Bell peppers
  • Chopped tomatoes or red onion added to the avocado
  • If you’re not avoiding animal products, some shredded cheese or some filleted fish (this won’t make it a raw burrito, but what the heck, enjoy it)
  • Make an accompanying dipping sauce

For some further journalistic explorations raw and Paleo diets, check out these exciting pieces from NPR:

Have you experimented with a raw food or Paleo diet? What were your experiences?

*Note: “Roots, Leaves, and Everything Else” in no way advocates for the consumptions of cannabis except as prescribed by a physician.  For more information about marijuana legislation and activism, please check out NORML.  For a great movie about marijuana consumption, check out Half Baked.  Seriously, it’s worth watching.

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