Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Turkey Meatballs and The Raw Food Diet

The title of the post is indeed a complete contradiction, but once you read my thoughts about the "Raw Food Diet" you will sort of see why. I hope everyone had a great Hump Day. This week does seem to be going pretty darn fast, is it just me?! I'm excited to share with you the following recipe, which was inspired by a recipe I found on the blog; Gluten Free Gidget.

Quick, Cheap, and Healthy Recipe #13
Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients
(makes 8 small meatballs)

1/2 pound lean turkey
3 ounces fresh spinach
1 egg
2 T cornmeal
1 T low sodium chicken brother
1.5 t basil
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cayenne pepper

Instructions
After gathering all the ingredients, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or spread with a light layer of oil.

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and mix together with clean hands, until well blended.


Create 8 small balls (about 1.5 inches in diameter) with the mixture. Place on baking sheet. Pop into oven for about 20 minutes. Cut one open to make sure there is no pink inside! Let them cool for about 5 minutes, then enjoy over some spaghetti, or even plain.


Nutrition Facts

Each meatball contains about 50 calories, but the following nutrition facts are for a meal consisting of 1 cup whole wheat pasta, 2 meatballs, and 1/2 cup of pasta sauce.




Nick and My Rate: 9 out of 10

My only complaint was that they were sort of dry, but the sauce really helped. Strangely, Nick didn't find them dry at all! This recipe was a keeper. The sauce in the above picture is a modified pesto sauce, which I will be posting about soon.


The Raw Food Diet; From An RD's Perspective

Here is the definition of "The Raw Diet" from Wikepedia:

Raw foodism (or rawism) is a lifestyle promoting the consumption of un-cooked, un-processed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet. Raw foodists typically believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits. Raw foodism or a raw diet is usually equated with raw veganism in which only raw plant foods are eaten, but other raw foodists emphasize raw meat and other raw animal products. Depending on the type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selection of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds (including sprouted whole grains such as gaba rice), eggs, fish (such as sashimi), meat (such as carpaccio), and non-pasteurized/non-homogenized dairy products (such as raw milk, raw milk cheese, and raw milk yogurt). Raw foodists can be divided between those that advocate raw vegetarianism or raw veganism, and those that advocate a raw omnivorous diet.



Pros
(Reasons why the Raw Food Diet may be beneficial, in my opinion)

- Some studies have shown that cooked meats, cooked at high temperatures, could produce carcinogens.

- Some studies have shown that cooking with added sugars, or cooking foods that have sugar, could produce agents that are correlated with inflammation in the body.

- Some studies show a decrease in the amount of protein digestibility when proteins are cooked to high heat.

- Some nutrients are destroyed by cooking, or lost in the water in which they are cooked.

- You'll most likely be getting plenty of fruits and vegetables if you follow this diet!

Cons
( Reasons why I don't necessarily like the Raw Food Diet, for myself, that is.)

- While some studies have shown that cooking meats to high temperatures could produce carcinogens, it's still not clear how much you would have to consume in order for any problems to occur. There are also several ways to reduce the possibly production of these carcinogens.

- Eating raw meat or raw produce is a serious risk factor for food borne illness

- If you eat sugar in moderation, bullet number three above should NOT be a problem.

- A decrease in protein digestibility is not something most Americans should worry about, as we are getting too much protein in our diets anyway, in my opinion.

- While some nutrients are lost from cooking, and leached into water, other nutrients (lycopene for example) are better absorbed when cooked. Not only that, but it's pretty clear that minimal nutrients are lost when foods are cooked for short periods of time only (microwaves are best) and when minimal water is used (steam your foods to prevent nutrient loss in water).

- It just seems so inconvenient! It would be hard for anyone to eat out and go to parties or social events if following a raw food diet plan. Some RDs also suggest that Raw Food Diets may be potentially low in B12 (only found in animal products),vitamin D, and calories (but this really depends on how well the person understands nutrition, some may not be deficient in these).

- For someone with GI issues, raw food can sometimes be their worst enemy! By cooking vegetables they can be digested much easier.

Bottom Line: I'm going to continue cooking my meat and steaming my veggies. If you want to start eating raw, more power to you! It isn't going to mean you are healthier, necessarily, but if you do it right it may have some health benefits. It will likely take a lot of practice to really get used to this type of diet, and to learn how to obtain all the proper nutrients while living this lifestyle. As always, I like to suggest the use of a standard diet, full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products (or dairy alternatives), with sweets and processed foods in moderation. Even this way of eating is difficult for many, so why make life harder for both you, and the company that surrounds you, by avoiding any cooked foods? A better approach may be the macrobioic diet, which Diana of Soap and Chocolate blogged about in October. Check it out here. This diet does include cooked foods, but also focuses on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and seriously limits the intake of processed foods.

Another blogger, Sagan of "Living Healthy in the Real World" recently did a one month "Raw Food Diet" challenge! Check out her recaps here and here, they are very informative and provide some fantastic information about the life of a raw foodist.

Question: What are your thoughts on the raw food diet?

Coming Up
Depending on my productivity level tomorrow, I may or may not be posting about food labels, and the regulation (or lack of) of supplements and food labels. If not tomorrow, I'll be doing this post on Friday. As for now, I'm off to watch LOST with Nick! He has officially sucked me in, ugh.

Have a great night, and thanks for reading!


43 comments :

  1. I have mixed feelings about the Raw Food Diet. I guess what I really mean is that I have something against anything thats too strict. I wouldn't mind eating a meal or two during the day that's "raw" but day in day out would be hard.

    Thanks for your view :)

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  2. love turkey meatballs yummy, and love your write up on raw food diets

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  3. Eating raw meat sounds like there would be far more potential for risks than cooking the meat. LOL!

    I like the idea of hiding spinach in meatballs. I'm sure they would be delicious with a tomato based sauce too-and maybe I could hide the spinach from my family better that way too!

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  4. Thanks for your review of the Raw Diet. I personally don't think a 100% raw diet is very feasible or even healthy since some veggies' nutrients are better absorbed after being cooked like you said and the fact that the diet is so restrictive. That said, I think a partially raw diet or one that's more lenient (like the Raw Crunch Diet I recently learned about) could be good, and there are some great raw recipes and products out there :-).

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  5. I like the idea of raw food diets because they entail eating food in its natural state. However, from just experimenting with this for as little as a week, I know it's quite difficult! I don't think I'd ever go completely raw, but I am definitely conscious of eating as much raw food and food in its natural state as possible. I know one thing, the raw diet is bound to build self discipline!

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  6. I feel like this is one diet that's hard to exactly say isn't beneficial. The biggest down sight to my read is that it's so darn hard to follow 100% of the time and really live life! But I'm all for incorporation more raw into my day-to-day

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  7. I personally tried a semi raw food diet for just two weeks and suffered more belly problem than ever! I felt bloated all the time and had to eat a lot more than usual to keep me full. It was a bad experience for me. Great to read a RD's objective opinion about it. :)

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  8. Interesting about the Raw Food diet.. I personally think anything that is 100% of one thing isn't always the best idea, I believe in balance : )

    In response to your comment on my blog, I don't know why I'm not showing up on your blogroll.. no one has ever said they had an issue. I don't think I know enough about blogs to give you any advice on how to fix it, sorry : ( Hope you figure it out!

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  9. I was wondering what you think of woman who are not pregnant and not planning on becoming pregnant, taking prenatal vitamins or a prenatal vitamin.

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  10. wow i love this recipe :) deej and van will totally be hot to trot on this! i'll say it's from my own personal dietician.

    when i become famous in life i'll take you on the road with me as my dietician.

    i'll keep beano in my dressing room don't worry

    btw. beano is the new best thing in my life

    as are you

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  11. Im ALL for eating foods in their natural state but raw is not for me.. too time consuming. I also dont have a lot of the "stuff" you need to make good raw food (dehydrator, good blender etc).
    I try to eat raw veggies/fruit everyday (which is certainly an easy task) but I will never try to be 100%. Thanks for your insight!

    Enjoy LOST :) :)

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  12. Hey, thanks for the shout-out!

    I have experimented a little with raw, though more on a meal-to-meal basis rather than adopting it full-on for any length of time. I really like it and feel that it suits my body pretty well. That said, after some experimentation, I now enjoy a combination of raw and cooked foods every day, and I feel great--my focus when cooking tends to be on cleanliness above all, raw or otherwise. I think the decision to incorporate more (or all) raw into one's diet is really individual and should be based on how it makes him or her feel.

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  13. The raw foods diet just seems so hardcore to me! And you're right-- it would be nearly impossible to eat out or go to parties! It seems like something that would be fun to experiment with a little bit, but going whole hog (or, whole "spiralized zucchini," I guess) seems completely out of the realm of possibility for me right now, and is not even something that really appeals to me anyway.

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  14. Hey Gina, really like the discussion about raw foods. I've been unsure about how to answer when people ask me about eating a raw foods diet, but you've given some great facts and ideas to think about!

    Can't wait to see the pesto recipe :)

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  15. Hi Gina, I'm glad you discuss things like the raw food diet. I personally think it's a bit of a fad. Brocolli is another vegetable like tomatoes which is better eaten cooked.
    Humans contain no enzyme to break down cellulose, which is why raw food is so hard to digest. Only heat can break down that structure.
    And as for the proteins becoming harder to digest after cooking, as you said it's only when it's high heat cooking. Slow cooked meats and slowly simmered meats are very easy to digest!
    Great post :)
    Natalia

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  16. oooh I have ground chicken- maybe I will do a variation!? They look fantastic!

    I have pretty much the same view on the raw food diet as you ( ? products of ADA brainwashing? jk)

    I think its funny that people don't realize our bodies release digestive enzymes to digest food- raw enzymes aren't exactly good- hello, our bodies were designed to have enzymes! I think it can be healthier because people make that change, they are taking control of their diet by changing it so it gives them that sense of control. It can be empowering, and that empowerment should lead to better choices all around! Fruits and Veggies are so important and if it meant a person accepting the raw food diet to get them to eat that way, I guess more power to them. I don't think its necessary by any means though!

    I'm on the blogs you love!!! THANK YOU!! That is super sweet! I'm adding you to my links as well!

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  17. I read a couple of books about raw food diets over the summer, and I incorporated many more raw foods into my meals. In fact, I had quite a few totally raw days, and I enjoyed it. However, I never planned on going totally raw as it would be too difficult at this point in my life. Also, a very high raw diet was much easier for me to manage during the summer when I was teaching less and life was a bit slower. There was definitely a lot of planning and prepping involved. Plus, I can't really imagine how I would realistically incorporate eating raw into any sort of social life and the occasional meal out.

    Focusing on raw, unprocessed foods was a great way for me to make plants truly the biggest part of my meals. I have always eaten a lot of veggies, but when I took a good look at what I was eating, I had to admit that I actually could have eaten more veggies. While eating raw foods has benefits, I also see the benefits of cooking some foods.

    For me, it's all about balance and eating a variety of foods. But today I enjoy eating a much higher percentage of raw, unprocessed foods than a year ago. And I love that! :)

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  18. The meatballs sound great :D

    Thanks for the raw food thoughts. I think increasing the amount of raw foods in your diet can be really beneficial, but I don't understand why a high raw diet is viewed as necessary to be honest. Seems like a lot of hype to me...if it works for people, great, but it definitely wouldn't work for me. I think that, like a lot of ways of eating, it's just too extreme and I would be worried about the long-term effects. Like switching back after yers- I know vegans can lose their ability to tolerate lactose so find it hard to go back to dairy consumption. I also think it would be far too time consuming... One life and it's too short to spend adhering to rigid rules that may or may not even be beneficial.

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  19. I guess I really don't know enough about the raw diet movement to really have a strong opinion. But right now, it's not for me. I'm just starting to eat more fish and the thought of eating it raw freaks me out. ;-)

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  20. After the holiday season of visiting family and eating out ALL THE TIME, but husband and I came home and ate just raw foods for only a couple days basically because we were so tired of eating out (ha, I used to love this but now that I cook so much I get tired of going out quickly!). This is NOTHING I would even want to do for a long time but we did it as a way of simplifying what we ate and getting us back on track of eating healthy foods and it was nice for those couple days (basically I think it worked as a way or resisting leftover holiday goodies around the office that we might graze on otherwise). So it was good and we may do it for a couple days here or there but I nothing I would personally want to do long-term!

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  21. I think it's pretty clear that the raw food diet and me would not mix well- I can't even eat raw carrots without my stomach getting bloated. However, even without my tummy issues I don't think I would ever permanently do something so restrictive. I have been someone who has to worry that there will be something I can eat everywhere I go and I would never voluntarily do that to myself. Like you said, it's just really inconvenient!

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  22. Good stuff here. I would agree that going totally 100% raw is a *little* (ha!) extreme for most of us. I think that incorporating a variety of both cooked AND raw food is a good balance to get the most nutrients from the food we eat.

    Thanks for the link love :)

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  23. in theory the raw food diet sounds great, you can eat food naturally in its orginalstate BUT for me its very unrealistic, I love roasted veggies and things hot, not all raw all the time. I give MAJOR pats on the back for those following an all raw diet!

    those turkey meatballs look amazing!

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  24. I am like Naomi, I like my veggies roasted, sauteed, baked etc lol.

    Those meatballs look delish!

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  25. Your turkey meatballs look awesome! I love your idea of adding spinach and cornmeal! Yum!

    I'm so excited to read your thoughts on raw food diets, as it's a topic I have pondered and researched quite a bit... I actually went 100% raw for 2 months several years ago, but felt I wasn't able to get enough nutritional variety from the diet... I'm still intrigued by its possible benifits, though.

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  26. Those meatballs look good! I don't think I could ever go raw. It takes too much prep, my belly would be upset, and I love my warm cooked veggies!

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  27. Gina I've been so busy with school, but have been meaning to read your blog! Finally! Love the info on raw food diet. For me the biggest factor is the vegetables..I much prefer mine cooked! Thanks for sharing the meatball recipe, I like the idea of incorporating spinach! Looking forward to your food labels post, because I just did a 2 part blog series on Health claims from my Public Policy of Health Claims class! yay!

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  28. In regards to the raw food diet, I agree that it is super inconveinient. I think that is one of the main reasons it would be so hard to stick to.
    I love the addition of spinach in the meatballs. Looks great!

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  29. This is another informative post! I loved it.

    I think the raw food diet takes a lot of prep, research, and dedication to do it right. There are a lot of people who have had success with it and I think we can learn what works from them and incorporate it into our diets if we decide to.

    Just like any diet, there are some general facts and caveats and I loved learning what an RD thought of the raw diet! I'm certainly not raw- any limitations and I go nuts!

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  30. I don't think I could do a raw diet. I like cheese and roasted veggies too much to even try. I respect those that do and if I had a dinner party, I'd do my best to accomodate them. They'd have to show me how to use a dehysrator though! heehee! Have a great day!

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  31. Perfect timing with your post. Neither my husband or I plan on following a raw food diet, but we did eat at Pure Food & Wine last night. It was amazing, however my husband's stomach couldn't handle all the raw veggies.

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  32. I am pretty sure I would get sick from a raw food diet. While I see the benefits, I just don't know if my tummy could handle it!

    I often find ground turkey to be dry. A little olive oil helps sometimes. But those meatballs look GREAT!

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  33. I could not agree more -- pros and cons, but nonetheless, extreme and unrealistic for a "normal" life. Love your pros and cons -- right on!

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  34. I agree with you too.. nothing wrong with eating some raw fruits and vegetables, but for some foods, you need the cooking to break the nutrients down so you can absorb them.
    About cooking meat, what I found that dry cooking (such as grilling and broiling) increases prostate cancer, but moist cooking, such as boiling and roasting, does not.
    Good topic!

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  35. I completely agree as well! It can be a great approach to wholesome eating, but doing it all the time can be quite restrictive and less healthy in some regards :) mmm meatballs look yummy!

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