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Delicious Living Blog

Packaged, processed, and...raw?

If you're defining raw food as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that have not been heated above 104 degrees, then processed and packaged food can be raw. It may not be as fresh as what you're picking up at the produce stand, but it's a growing trend that's no longer restricted to cacao and fruit juices. You'll now find "raw" energy bars and even supplements. Though you may equate the term with something that has popped off a tree or vine directly onto your plate, it's not always possible to get all the nutrients or sustenance you need, in the time frame you need it, in the exact shape that nature provided it (yes it's July now but it won't be for long). Here are some companies that are redefining raw products, maintaining maximum levels of enzymes and nutrients in packaged foods and vitamins.

Earth Source Organics raw chocolate. I'll ease you in with something you've probably heard of and can surely get on board with: raw chocolate. As we know, cacao is a great source of free-radical fighting antioxidants. But when beans are roasted, some of the chocolate's nutritional elements are lost. These bars have the added bonus of combining the raw chocolate with other delicious, antioxidant-rich fruits like acai and goji. Plus, they're vegan, kosher, and gluten free.

Garden of Life raw vitamins. I was able to speak with Dawn Jarvis, director of product education for Garden of Life about what a "raw vitamin" really is. The whole purpose of these vitamins is to encapsulate exactly what nature has to offer without altering the nutrients or decreasing enzymes. The concept started, kind of accidentally, with a guy named Albert Szent-Gyorgyi’s isolation of vitamin C in the 1930s. While complete isolation didn't end up providing the most beneficial form of the nutrient, scientists later discovered that around the midpoint of isolation, the vitamins worked with cofactors like flavonoids and bioflavonoids to most effectively restore nutrients to patients experiencing some types of deficiencies. Trying to mimic nature to grow the same food-like vitamins, Andrew Szalay, a student of Szent-Gyorgyi’s developed the process behind today’s “raw supplements.” Garden of Life offers a complete line of supplements that use this process, feeding various minerals to yeast and lactobilius to create probiotic and enzyme-rich formulas. To keep the nutrients in their original form, no heat or pressure is used. The result? A raw vitamin.

Pure raw bars. This is perhaps the biggest shock. What comes to mind when I think of any bar is processed: heated, cooked, blended, folded, melted, pressed, processed. Not...raw. But here it is, raw! And good too! These bars, which come in chocolate brownie, cherry cashew, wild blueberry, apple cinnamon, cranberry orange (hands down my favorite), and chocolate chip trail mix are USDA ceritifed organic, vegan, gluten-free, and 100 percent raw. The fruits and nuts are cold-processed and the bars contain 4 to 5 grams of organic fiber and 6 to 7 grams of organic protein.

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