How To Eat More Fresh, Real Food

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Articles, Nutrition

Last week, I spent the Friday, Saturday and Sunday at a health retreat – eating fresh, raw, vegan food only.

This was a slight change-up for me. Granted, I usually do eat a ton of vegetables and healths fats like avocados and olives, but I also enjoy grass-fed beef, wild fish, or free range chicken almost every day. And about the closest I got to meat during last week's foray into raw food was faux-meat “walnut balls” on my zucchini-noodle “spaghetti”.

If you're unfamiliar with raw eating, or you want to see the type of foods it includes, here are some samples of the meals I ate, which were prepared by Chef Margarate Gomes of

For some of the more complex foods, I've also included recipes.

Breakfast: Pancakes & Juice

Carrot Ginger Juice (made with a juicer)

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Pancakes With Agave Syrup

Lunch: Apple Fennel Salad With Poppy Seed Dressing


Salt and pepper to taste
1 Gala apples, cut into quarters and thinly sliced
2 medium-size fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 celery rib
1 cup minced parsley
Cut apple, fennel, and celery into thin slices, using a mandoline or sharp knife.
Toss apple, fennel, celery, and parsley with desired amount of dressing. Sprinkle with walnuts and salt
and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with any remaining dressing.
Optional: Dry roast 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts and add as garnish.


2 1⁄2 cups orange juice 11⁄4 cups flax oil 1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard 3 Tbsp 1 tsp poppy seeds 2 tsp salt

Pour the olive and canola oil into a measuring cup and set aside. Add the sugar, mustard, red onion and salt to the jar of a blender. Pour in the vinegar and blend on high until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved. With the motor still running, remove the lid from the blender and pour in the combined oils in a steady stream until emulsified. Pour the dressing into a jar, add the poppy seeds and shake or stir the dressing to combine. Seal the jar tightly and refrigerate until use. Keeps for 5 days in refrigerator.

Dinner: Noodles Marinara with Nut Balls & Caesar Salad


4 zucchini, spiralized and placed in a serving bowl.

11⁄2 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 4 hours 4 tomatoes, cut into large chunks, seeded 1⁄2 red bell pepper, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced

1⁄2 tsp sea salt 1/3 cup olive oil 2 pitted dates 1 tsp lemon juice 1⁄2 cup fresh basil leaves 1⁄4 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp Italian seasoning

Using a food processor, process all the ingredients for the Marinara sauce until you reach the consistency you desire. Some people like it more chunky while others prefer it smooth. Toss the sauce with the noodles and serve with the nut balls.

NUT BALLS (40 small walnut balls)

7 cup soaked raw walnuts 3 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 7 Tbsp lemon juice 7 tsp extra virgin olive oil 7 tsp tamari 1 3⁄4 tsp garlic powder 2 tsp salt 7 Tbsp minced free parsley 7 Tbsp minced onion Place all ingredients except for parsley and onion in a food processor and process into a paste. Transfer to a bowl. Add parsley and onion and mix well. Form into balls and dip in Marinara sauce.


1⁄2 cup purified water 1⁄2 cup olive oil 1⁄4 cup flax oil 2 ribs celery, strung and chopped 3 Tbsp lemon juice 3 Tbsp Tamari 2 Tbsp unpasteurized light miso 3 dates, pitted and chopped or 1/8 cup agave nectar 1 Tbsp kelp powder or dulse flakes 2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine ingredients in a blender, puree until creamy. Add more water if necessary to reach desired consistency.


1⁄2 package Artisan mix 2 cups spinach leaves 1 package grape tomatoes 1 recipe garlic herb croutons

Place salad ingredients into a large bowl. Drizzle with Caesar dressing, and garnish with garlic herb croutons. Serve immediately.



Crust: 1 cup pecans 1 1⁄2 cups walnuts 1⁄4 cup raisins

Filling: 1⁄2 cup agave nectar 3 cups cashews, soaked 2 hours 1⁄2 cup coconut oil 1⁄2 cup coconut butter 1⁄2 cup lemon juice 1⁄4 cup soy lecithin powder 2 Tbsp vanilla extract 1 pint strawberries

How did this type of eating work out for me?

I felt great with just a few days of raw, vegan eating. But I must admit that I have tried this diet for 6 months before, and during that time, I had a very difficult time maintaining muscle mass and re-building my body after hard workouts – especially weight training.

So because it can be difficult to get adequate amino acids and fatty acids, I'm certainly not a proponent of 100% raw, vegan eating (especially for athletes who want to maintain muscle) but I do think that knowing some raw food recipes can make for some very impressive and delicious cooking skills for you to have, and opens you up to a whole new world of making vegetables taste good.

For that reason, if you like recipes like this, and you want to try out a few easy “raw food recipes”, check out the “Lazy Raw Foodist's Guide”. I choose this book because it is an easy way to get started.

But that's not the only resource you can use for learning how to use fresh food!

Study after study, scientist after scientist, say that eating simple, fresh, wholesome food can dramatically improve your life. You've probably read magazine articles or articles on this blog about the dangers of processed foods, and even the way food is treated when shipped internationally.

I wanted to know more about resources for teaching you how to eat as fresh as possible, without necessarily “going vegan”, so I contacted my friend, Chef Todd Mohr – and he actually put together a FREE video cooking webcast entitled: “How To Cook Fresh In 5 Simple Steps”. He promises to answer all your questions about choosing, cooking, and storing farm fresh ingredients, and you can register right away by clicking here.

Chef Todd's free video webcasts can attract a lot of people, so you should claim your spot before this one fills up. I've seen his free webcasts before, and I always come away with information the instantly improves my outlook on food and cooking. He's got a unique approach to teaching that is fun and light, and he's a pretty funny guy too. So here you go (full disclosure: I am an affiliate for Chef Todd's Web Cooking Classes):

If you have questions or comments about how to eat more fresh, real food, just leave them below!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

22 thoughts on “How To Eat More Fresh, Real Food

  1. Dick says:

    Ben – REV Diet convert and feeling great! Food = fuel. My nutrition was pretty clean before, but the REV concept took things to a new level and the recipes are great. Question: what specific advice do you have for frequent travelers? I'm an active duty Marine on the road quite a bit these days. No problems shopping when I get where I'm going (although some foods & products may be hard to find). The long travel days, however, are challenging. 10 to 12 hour travel days on planes or in airports present significant challenges. Additionally, do you plan on releasing new recipies in the future? Enjoy you website. Thanks.

    1. Dick, have you considered joining the Inner Circle? I travel extensively, and I log my personal diet and exercise routine as I go. In addition, we release new recipes all the time there! That would be extremely helpful for you. That being said, while traveling, I tend to do quite a bit of seeds, nuts, LivingFuel SuperGreens, dark chocolate, gum and sparkling water.

  2. Lauren says:

    Hello Ben,
    Firstly I thank you for your informative, life-changing podcasts and articles. There is so much BS out there and it is marveous to have a resource I can depend on. I have recently finished my first 3 weeks of your Shape21 program and I have never felt more indestructable! I cannot wait to move onto the Intemediate stage and reap even greater benefits! Fantastic job, you have changed the way I view exercise, health and lifestyle in the greatest way possible.
    What I would like to know is the method for the scrumptious cheesecake recipe. Is it available in the "The Lazy Raw Foodlist" book you recommended?

    1. Contact Chef Margarate Gomes of and she can give you exact cheesecake recipe method…

  3. HarveyandVal says:

    Hi Ben,
    I (Val) was eating oats w/banana, pb, chia seeds, honey and coffee with almond breeze for breakfast. Quinoa and salad or brown rice and salad for lunch (with protein in the form of beans/tofu/kale. Smoothies and or whole wheat/fruit muffins, and stir-frys with veggies and tofu or beans, salad, quinoa/brown rice/or polenta. I ate a lot of chia puddings and low sugar granola bars for snacks as well as some almonds and dates.

    1. Biggest red flag on this diet would be the high amount of omega 6 fatty acids, wheat and potential for vegetable oils. I'd include more fats like coconut and avocado on a diet like this.

      1. Eric says:

        what foods are high in omega 6?

        1. Foods High in Omega-6 Fat*

          Omega-6 fat
          Oils (per 1 Tablespoon)
          Safflower oil
          10.1 151%
          Grapeseed oil
          9.5 142%
          Vegetable oil
          7.9 118%
          Wheat germ oil
          7.5 112%
          Corn oil
          7.3 109%
          Walnut oil
          7.2 107%
          Cottonseed oil
          7.0 104%
          Soybean oil
          6.9 103%
          Sunflower oil
          5.4 81%
          Spreads (per 1 Tablespoon)

          Mayonnaise, regular soybean oil
          5.2 78%
          Margarine, tub regular
          3.8 57%
          Promise Buttery spread, 60% vegetable oil
          3.4 51%
          Processed Foods (per serving)

          Burger King Chicken Whopper (1)
          11.5 172%
          McDonald's Filet O Fish (1)
          6.3 94%
          Pizza Hut cheese pizza
          (2 sl medium pan-style)
          4.9 73%
          Granola bar (1 bar)
          2.9 43%
          Frankfurter, vegetarian (1)
          2.4 36%
          Frankfurter, pork (1)
          1.5 22%
          Veggie burger (1 patty)
          1.4 21%
          Smart Balance light Popcorn
          (1 serving is 4 cups)
          1.3 19%

  4. Igoriko says:

    Ben, do you think there is a way for fast-oxidizer to "survive" on raw vegan diet?
    Can nuts and seeds provide enough fuel for a strong digestive fire?

    1. Igoriko – survive yes. But thrive no. You'd need much more than seed and nuts, and may be able to feel a bit better by adding hemp, pea, rice protein, ample dark fruits/vegetables, etc.

  5. HarveyandVal says:

    What do you think of the Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn? It is primarily vegan and not raw but is plant-based. I trained for an amateur boxing fight using this diet for 6 wks and then at the end I did have to cut my carbs and sodium further, but for the most part, I wasn't hungry and I had tons of energy. I was able to run faster and train longer and I really believe it was from giving up animal proteins (in eggs and dairy since I was already veggie).

    1. What were you eating each day Harvey?

  6. Shaza says:

    Ben, firstly, your site and pods are wonderful, thank you for all the effort. I am a53 year old woman. I would only eat red meat about 8 times a year. I have never had a time when I did not exercise from 6 years old. A vegan diet has seen me through being a professional ballet dancer, to a runner to a power walker and cyclist! Muscle mass? Never a problem. I just had the grand half century physical with great results: bone density, fabulous! Heart, perfect! Colonoscopy, like a baby according to Specialist… I never get sick and have tons of energy! I think a plant based diet has been partially responsible for these results! So youngies, good luck as you travel towards middle age! I live by Michael Pollen's saying, Eat food, mostly plants, not too much! Thanks Ben for inspiration, shaz

  7. Mer,

    I never said I was a proponent of the cheesecake recipe. But you need to remember my levels of physical activity. In this case, I had finished a 13 mile run just 1 hour earlier. The only thing my body is going to do with fructose in that case is use it to restore energy, so not an issue.

    I didn't have an energy crash after breakfast BUT wasn't working out in the mid morning, and sitting around in meetings instead.

  8. mer says:

    I’m surprised you’re a proponent of the cheesecake recipe, that is a LOT OF NUTS in one sitting, also with all you’ve said about agave syrup, that’s a lot of it in a day. Did you feel like your metabolism was all over the place? Did you have an energy crash after breakfast? I do like raw vegan food prep challenges since veggies are used in more interesting ways.
    To answer an above comment, I think Brendan brazier (sp) stopped doing endurance sports. To answer another question above, it isn’t hard to find spiralizers on the web, bit good ones are pretty darn expensive. Though if you decide to do high raw permanently, that and a vitamix might be good investments.

  9. Cara Zaller says:

    Were you more hungry between meals without the meat? With all the nuts that you are eating, wouldn't you be concerned with your omega-3/omega-6 balance?

    1. Not concerned with just 3 days of it Cara. But normally, if this were to be a "lifestyle" diet, yes.

  10. Kelly says:

    I've been vegan for 4 years, not raw though. I haven't had any problem maintaining muscle mass. I even completed P90X without a problem. I think my workouts have improved since I've stopped polluting my body with animal products (my opinion of course). If you think muscle mass is a problem you should reach out to Robert Cheek who is a vegan body builder or Brendan Brazier who is a vegan athlete as well. I believe by eating a balanced diet of greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes you can get all the amino acids you need to build and maintain muscle.

    1. yes, I have a ton of trouble maintaining lean muscle mass on this type of diet too.

      1. @CastleGrok says:

        He said "haven't"

        I can gain or lose as much weight as I want on a vegan diet. All you have to do is open your mouth more, or less ;)

  11. Kate says:

    Where can I get a spiraliser to make the spaghetti?

    1. This is an inexpensive spiral slicer:

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