Most of us believe eating warm food will instantly warm up our mood, a default response engraved from childhood and the memories of your mum’s home-cooked delights on dark, cold evenings.

But raw food expert Shazzie believes that if you really want to get through winter – and beyond – with a smile, you need to ditch cooked meals altogether.

The idea’s as basic as it sounds – you only consume food that’s raw. Its principles started millennia ago, before cookers were invented, but the raw food diet has been gaining momentum in the modern world, partly thanks to the endorsement of celebrity followers like Demi Moore and advocates like mother-of-one Shazzie.

“No animals cook their food,” she explains simply. “And they don’t get the illnesses we do. We are an overweight starving culture, because nutrient-deficient foods dominate our lives.

“When food is raw, the nutrients are intact and the body gets what it needs without having to over-stuff itself.”

Shazzie discovered the benefits of raw food back in 2000 after suffering increased weight, unhealthy skin, depression and lack of energy.

“I started researching food and realised I was deficient in a lot of stuff. I realised I was causing my body stress by feeding it food it just couldn’t process.”

After doing some research, she shifted to eating only raw food, and says “all her symptoms disappeared”. She lost weight, her skin cleared up, her head felt less muddled and she “felt enthusiastic about life, for the first time ever”.

Having lifted her own “cooking fog”, she became determined to help others, writing a blog and numerous books about her diet and personal transformation. She’s travelled the world meeting other raw food gurus and, in 2012, began presenting her current TV show, Raw Kitchen.

Despite her obvious love of the diet – which she says is the reason she now never goes to the doctors, feels ‘superhuman’ and looks at least a decade younger than her 44 years – Shazzie does admit it’s not always easily accepted by new recruits. “Some people make it difficult, because there are many sub-groups of raw foodism,” she says.

Back on the offensive, Shazzie quickly extols another virtue of eating raw; you don’t have to calorie count: “A calorie isn’t always a calorie in the body. The body needs an abundance of foods it can recognise and assimilate. Raw food is just the right fuel for our bodies.”

It’s also a diet that doesn’t need to completely take over your life and if you want to give it a go, Shazzie says eating at least 50 per cent raw is enough to still reap the benefits.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the food I eat is raw, but adding any raw food will have a massive impact,” she says. “You’ll get more energy, need less sleep, become clearer in your vision – it can literally alter your life.” Tempted? Here are two of Shazzie’s recipes to try out.

Dorset Society:

CUCUMBER SOUP (Serves 2)

  • 400ml water, not quite boiled from a kettle
  • 70g shelled hemp seeds
  • ½ cucumber
  • ½ avocado
  • ½ red pepper
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ small red onion
  • 10ml Udo’s Choice oil
  • Optional garnish: 10ml hemp seed oil 5g Seagreens or powdered broccoli sprouts

Stone and skin the avocado.

Put all the ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.

Serve in two lovely big bowls, drizzle with extra oil, and sprinkle a few more Seagreens on top before tucking right in.

 

Dorset Society:

CHILLI CON CACOA (Serves 4)

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes
  • 1 cup of basil, loosely packed
  • 10 rosemary leaves
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 1tsp (heaped) of cayenne powder
  • 4 Peruvian dried olives, soaked for 30 minutes
  • 2tbsp of organic, unsweetened chocolate powder
  • ½ red pepper
  • ½ cup of dried mixed mushrooms
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 4 courgettes

Finely chop the garlic and rosemary. Dice the tomatoes and peppers. Slice the olives, and discard the stones. Add all the ingredients except the oil and courgettes to the food processor. Crush mushrooms in your hands before adding them. Process until the mixture is even and still chunky. Leave for 10 minutes for the mushrooms to expand and soak up some of the juice. Stir in the olive oil.

Peel the courgettes and grate them. Pat with kitchen paper if they aren’t dry. Divide into four, and place on a plate, using a round mould. Dent the top slightly so the chilli can fit into it. Top the courgettes with equal amounts of chilli and serve.