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An Omni Hubby Goes RAW Vegan for One Week

17 Jun

My Vegan Homeschool buddy, Bonnie, finally succeeded in getting her Omnivore Hubby, Crosby, to go on a Raw Vegan Diet for a week. Together, they lost almost 10 pounds. Bonnie discovered more energy and Crosby discovered he could actually enjoy Raw Vegan foods.

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Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

Q: Why did you and hubby decide to go raw? How did you convince your hubby to do it with you?  

B – I am Vegan. I want to drop a few pounds and thought I would with a raw diet. I also think it is the most healthy way to eat.

C- Just to see if it would make me feel better. I have ulcerative colitis and wondered if a raw diet would improve my condition.

 

Q: For how long did you eat just raw foods?

B- 100% for 7 days. Now probably 90%

C- 100% for 6 days. Now 10%

 

Q: How did you feel?  

B – I feel better after having lost a few pounds. I always have more energy when I am on a raw diet. I don’t get that afternoon slump and sleep better at night.

C – I was tired the first 4 days, then I felt the way I normally feel.

 

Q: What was the best day?

B – I didn’t really have a best day.

C – The best day was when I no longer felt hungry. Probably day 3.

 

Q: What was the worst day?

B – I didn’t have a worst day.

C – Day 2. I was hungry and tired.

 

Q: What did you crave that was raw during the whole process?

B – I really enjoyed bananas and dates.

C – Avocados and nuts.

 

Q: What did you crave that was not raw during the whole process?

B – I didn’t have any cravings.

C – Meat.

 

Q: What was the best meal? Worst?

B – Collard rolls with sunflower seed pate were great. A beet salad that I made with cumin was not so good.

C – Avocado, tomato and basil plate with Italian dressing. I liked them all.

 

Q: Any side effects of this raw week?

B – I lost 4 lbs and had more energy.

C – I lost 5 lbs.

 

Q: Would you do it again?

B – I would like to eat that way all the time. Its is just hard to find time to prepare both kinds of food (cooked and raw) every day.

C – Probably not 100% raw, but maybe more raw dishes during the week.

 

Q: What was the first thing you ate after the whole week?

B – Some stir fried vegies and rice.

C – A Chick-Fil-A sandwich. A real hot-dog the next day.

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Q: What was the hardest part of the process?

B – Making a lot of different dished to keep Crosby from getting tired of the food.

C – I did not feel satiated. I never felt satisfied even if I wasn’t hungry.

 

Q: What was the most surprising part of the process?

B – I was surprised that I had so much energy and that I was not hungry.

C – I wasn’t hungry.

 

Q: How are you changed?

B – I think it will be easier to add more raw meals into our weeknow that Crosby has tried to eat this way.

C – I am more open to eating raw.

 

Q: What was the nastiest thing someone had said about your week?

B – Not really nasty, but it annoys me when people try to tell me I’m not getting enough protein.

C – No one was nasty, but I did get some razzing about not eating meat.

 

Q: How has this experience changed your relationship with food, your family, or everyday diet?

B – It made me realize that I enjoy eating simple salads and fruit more than more complicated dishes.

C – There are some really tasty raw dishes that are fun to eat. My brother encouraged me to change my diet if I thought there were benefits to my health. I appreciated his concern for my health.

 

Both Bonnie and Crosby’s efforts are inspiring: Bonnie, for preparing amazing Raw Vegan dishes for a whole week, and Crosby, who was open to eating RAW for a week. Kudos to both of them!

 

School Lunches versus Packing a Lunch: How to Keep Both Healthy

23 May Proper Nutrition is integral to our health.

We homeschool, but we are out and about a lot.  Here’s an example of our packed lunch.

How do we keep our children’s lunches healthy?  According to the World Health Organization“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”   So, we can rephrase our question as: how can we ensure our children’s lunches contribute to their physical, mental and social well-being and, by consuming them, they will not be afflicted by disease or sickness?

I recently watched a short documentary called Lunch, a film based on interviews about ‘Green School’ lunch programs, instilling healthy habits in kids and organic gardening in a school setting.  It seems to me that most people talk about kid’s lunches from a single viewpoint: the food. They say: let’s improve food quality, organic is better, no more GMOs, add more fruits and vegetables, no more fried foods, add healthier options, grow a school garden, add nutrition to the curriculum…  While I think these are all wonderful and much needed, the most important thing we can do is to empower children themselves to make the right food choices.  

At the end of the day, the children are the only ones who can control what they eat, therefore it is not enough to simply create a healthy nutrition environment for them. Children need to be taught that any kind of food can keep us alive, but it is the nutritious food that helps maintain our body, mind and social capacities well. We need to teach children about a whole lifestyle that emphasizes not only nutritional choices, but also how the choices they make affect their own physical, mental and social well-being.   When children are educated, when they understand, when they are given proper role models and when they are given tools to help them choose health, then the responsibility for parents and guardians to create a healthy nutrition environment for them becomes easier – simply because children will WANT it for themselves.  

Proper Nutrition is integral to maintaining our physical, mental and social health and well-being.

We can teach children the value of eating to live, not living to eat. We can teach them the value of maintaining physical, mental and social well-being (these are a few examples):

    • show them what happens to their bodies when they consume junk versus nutritious foods, for example:
      • what happens to teeth when they eat processed sugar (place a tooth in Coca Cola and see what happens)
      • what happens to bones when people eat too much animal protein and cow’s milk (show rates of osteoporosis in different communities)
      • teach them to look at their own poop and explain what healthy poop should look like
      • teach them how different foods create different energy levels (discuss athletes and their diet)
      • watch Wall-E and discuss why the humans are obese (foods they eat, exercise)
      • show videos like Supersize Me and Forks over Knives to older children
    • show them what happens to their minds depending on the food consumed, for example:
      • discuss how mental performance suffers/improves due to diet (i.e. Food For the Brain study)
      • show them that learning challenges and problem behaviors may decrease/increase according to diet
      • discuss how exercising the brain is just as important as sports is for the body
      • discuss how quality foods help the nerves in the brain function properly (memory, problem solving, etc)
    • show them that their nutritional choices have social implications, for example
      • discuss what “social well-being” means vis-à-vis proper nutrition within the community, the nation and the world (according to the United States Institute of Peace: “Social well-being is an end state in which basic human needs are met and people are able to coexist peacefully in communities with opportunities for advancement. This end state is characterized by equal access to and delivery of basic needs services (water, food, shelter, and health services), the provision of primary and secondary education, the return or resettlement of those displaced by violent conflict, and the restoration of social fabric and community life.)
      • discuss composting, recycling, reusing and reducing in the community and at home
      • discuss pollution and toxicity
      • discuss what stress does to us
      • discuss how the quality of food we eat affects our emotions and therefore our social well-being.
As we teach them to grow their own food and to prepare their own meals from scratch… we can sit back and see what happens.

Other ideas here too: Top 10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Part of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop! Click on the image for more links to Gifted/2E Health and Wellness Issues!

A Raw Mama’s Reality Check: We Need Supplements?

13 Dec

Our allergic reaction or sensitivities to supplements: my rough hands and my son's rashes. How do we supplement our diet properly if we react to the exact nutrients that we need?

Every year, around my birthday, I take my family to our naturopath to have an annual check up. What did we find this year? Not exactly the news I wanted to share with you.  I wish I could say that our families have all the nutrients they need in a Raw Vegan Diet, but this simply is not true.  I’m sharing what my family found out about our food deficiencies with you, because I think it is important for Vegan Mamas to know that we need to supplement our family’s diets.

The Good:

We are all healthier than last year. This was great news considering my kitchen turned fully Vegan this year and my husband and son now only eat Vegan at home ( and at least 50% of their diet still remains raw).

The Bad:

We all have difficulty in handling sugar.  And, we still need more B vitamins, iron, zinc, iodine and protein in our diet.

A Raw Mama’s Reality Check

1. Just because it’s raw doesn’t mean we can over-indulge. Too much of a good thing…

This means decreasing our fruit (in breakfast puddings, smoothies) and raw sweetener intake (honey, maple syrup, dates in our fave raw oatmeal).

A surprising and wonderful discovery: My son sipped his cup of Pooh Bear Smoothie clean without even noticing that the 2 additional dates were missing!

2. B Vitamins is a must!

Nutritional Yeast is back on our table.  We prefer the fortified Red Star brand.  I don’t know why but we react to Bragg’s.  I also have Hawaiian Spirulina sometimes with breakfast.  I’m on a mission to look for a supplement too that agrees with us – especially after reading that nutritional yeast should NOT be our only source of Vegan B12!

3. Trying to find Supplements

Our iron, zinc and iodine levels are low and have hardly improved since last year (and we were consciously eating foods high in these)… so we really need to supplement this time.  My big problem is finding the supplements that actually agree with us! We’ve been trying a few supplements and I have been suffering with rough hands and my son with eczema on his.

4. Protein

As for protein, I decided it would be best for me to add cooked legumes to my diet and cook more for my family.  Maybe this will help with our iron levels too!

Mama’s Supplement Information and Support from Gabriel Cousens

Mama’s Brainstorming

Oooh, I just looked at all the Vitamin Code products from Vitacost.  They’re very expensive and I don’t know if my family might be sensitive or react to them. But, they’re RAW.  I guess it’s the best bet we have in supplementing right now.

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 3

30 Oct

When we go out to eat and/or travel and/or eat at other people’s houses, my boys eat what they want.  But they are still happy to maintain a Vegan kitchen here at home.  Here is our Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu Week 3.  Enjoy!

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices

Raw Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit Pudding (my favourite one is the Green Sundae!), Apple Almond Yoghurt

Raw Dishes: Asian Marinated Veggies, Carrot Salad, Kale Salad, your choice of other  Salads, half raw and half cooked Curry below under Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes, Spinach Dip (add a handful or two of baby spinach leaves to Guacamole), Flax Crackers

Cooked Vegan Dishes: Lentil Burgers, Tofu Eggs, Banana Bread from How it all Vegan!, Mushroom, Kale and Potatoes from Forks Over Knives, Puy Lentils with Beets without the Feta, Hash Browns from Meatless Meals for Working People, Veggie Stew with Dumplings from Vegan Diner

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

Buckwheat Noodles: cook 1 # buckwheat noodles and serve with sauce (mix together 1 1/2 cup veggie broth, 5 tbspn Nama Shoyu (or soy sauce), 4 tbspn Sucanat (or your choice of sweetener), 1 tbspn mirin) and top with scallion and ginger.

Mushroom Chips: slice 2 # mushrooms, toss with olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic and 2 tsp sea salt, roast at 400-450F for about 15 – 20 minutes or until crispy.

Potato Cauliflower Curry: this is mostly RAW!  Simply top raw cauliflower bites and boiled (in salted water) chopped potatoes with my Curry in a Hurry sauce.  You can add mung sprouts if you wish.

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 2

17 Oct

“Meat and milk really matter. 

Reduced consumption could

decrease the future emissions of nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture

to levels below those of 1995.” 

~ Alexander Popp of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research ~

 

Hubby and Son are still on the Vegan Wagon!  Here is our Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu Week 2.  You will notice that breakfast in our house is typically the same as last week’s menu.  My boys love certain Raw Vegan Meals for Breakfast and although I have tried to experiment and veer away from Raw Oatmeal, Fruit Pudding and Granola, these are their faves.  Please try out others to see what your family might like too.

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices, limeade

Raw Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit Pudding (my favourite one is the Green Sundae!), Granola

Raw Dishes: Collard Green Noodle Salad, Marinated Mushrooms, Curried Vegetables, Kale Salad, B12 Salad, your choice of other  Salads

Cooked Vegan Dishes: Chinese Stir-Fry from The Happy Herbivore, Paella from Whole Foods Recipes (use whole tomatoes instead if you prefer and by the way, I love their APP. Their Vegan Soups are so much better than Epicurious Vegan Soups!), Maple Baked Beans (I use maple syrup instead of molasses – although molasses is a good source of iron if you want to use that instead – and I’m trying to wean my boys from canned tomato sauce by substituting with raw applesauce),  Shepherd’s Pie and Refried Beans from How it all Vegan!, Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan Diner (these are the best we’ve tasted and one of the healthiest! I substitute my home milled spelt flour for all purpose flour, Sucanat from brown sugar, coconut oil for canola, water for milk, whole flax meal for golden… still YUM!), 5 minute Vegan Pancakes from the wonderful web (just substitute Sucanat for sugar, coconut oil for vegetable and raw almond milk for soymilk), homemade Wheat Tortillas recipe from Anson Mills (although I use my own home milled flour).

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

Tempeh Joes: Our most fast food and processed dish ever… I’m scared to write this on here… but I wanted to let you know that I’m not the perfect Mama in the Kitchen sometimes too… and to let you know that sometimes the boys just want certain foods now and this is better than going to some fast food joint to get their ‘fix’.  No other substitute for the meat in this works for them… and no other ‘sauce’ is faster than organic ketchup.  Steam 2 packages of Wild Rice Tempeh (if anyone has a better non-soy substitute, please let me know!) for 10-15 minutes.  Grate to resemble meat.  Saute 1 diced onion in olive oil, add grated tempeh, stir-fry for a few minutes and then add ketchup to coat.  Add Nama Shoyu or Bragg’s Amino if desired.  Serve with loads of raw veggies on the side (corn, avocado and tomatoes work well!).

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 1

10 Oct

  “Tell me and I’ll forget;

show me and I may remember;

involve me and I’ll understand.”

~ Chinese proverb ~

After watching Forks Over Knives together, discovering that our healthy non-smoker loved one had Cancer in the lungs and attending an equally entertaining and persuasive Vegan-centric Nutrition lecture by Dr. Greger (his videos are fantastic!) together at the D.C. VegFest, my husband for the past month has requested that we eat only Vegan meals. This is a HUGE step for him, as he is an Omnivore.  While my boys continue to eat 50% Raw Vegan foods, now for the past month their cooked foods have been ALL Vegan as well.

A few nights ago, it seemed to me that my husband was losing his zeal for all the Vegan food he has been consuming and I asked him, “Are you missing meat?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Do you want me to cook some meat for you?” I offered.

“No. Can you bake some Chocolate Chips Cookies though?”

It is clear to me that my husband is going through some type of withdrawal at this point on his Vegan journey.  So for the past month, this Raw Vegan Mama has been cooking up a Vegan storm… selfishly because I don’t want my Omnivore Hubby to lose sight of the Vegan light!  I guess the events of the past month have affected him more than he lets on… as Robert Kegan states so well:

 

“What the eye sees better the heart feels more deeply.

We not only increase the likelihood of our being moved;

we also run the risk that being moved entails.

Seeing increases our vulnerability to being recruited to the welfare of another.”

~ Robert Kegan, The Evolving Self ~

I like to think my efforts in the kitchen are working because my husband even agreed to embark on a 1 month trial Vegan menu for our family this month (yes, yet another month of Vegan food for Omnivore Hubby and Son!).

For many out there who have wanted Sample Menus and for Elizabeth who just commented on Peace @ the Healthy Table: What Does It Take?, here’s the first week’s menu for you:

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu Week 1

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices, flavored water

Raw Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit Pudding (my favourite one is the Green Sundae!), Granola

Raw Dishes: Kale Salad, your choice of  Salads, Guacamole and other sides for Burger

Cooked Vegan Dishes: Shepherd’s Pie and Mulligatawny Soup is from  How it all Vegan!, Potpie from Meatless Meals for Working People, Black Beans and Rice from Forks Over Knives (NOTE: I use coconut oil for vegetable oil, my own milled flour and other unprocessed ingredients to substitute for some ingredients in these books)

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

Portabello Burger: simply marinate mushrooms in a Balsamic Vinaigrette with basil for 10 minutes and roast/grill on both sides for 5 minutes

Vegan Alfredo: heat 4 tbspns coconut oil on medium heat, add 3 – 4 tbspns spelt or whole wheat flour, stir for a minutes, add ‘milk’ (blend 2 cups water, 3 tbspns raw almond butter, 4 tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp sea salt and 2 pinches nutmeg together) and cook until thickens.  Add to pasta.  Top with Nutritional Yeast, if desired.

Waffles: Mix in a bowl 4 cups spelt/wheat flour, 2 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp baking soda. Mix in another bowl or blender 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup flax meal, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup raw almond butter, 1/2 cup melted coconut oil and 3 1/2 cups water.  Mix dry into wet ingredients and cook with waffle maker.

Apple Crumble (adapted from my mother-in-law’s friends recipe): Place 10 apples, peeled and sliced, in a slightly greased dish.  Top with juice of 1 orange and cinnamon.  In another bowl, mix together 150 grams coconut oil, 1 cup Sucanat, 1 cup of your choice of flour (1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup wheat germ or 1 cup spelt).  Place this mixture on top of apples and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fries: Slice them, coat with some olive oil, salt and/or Sucanat and cinnamon and bake them!

Hospital Feeds Cancer Patient Animal Based Meals and Processed Foods

19 Sep Free Drink at the Hospital

Free Drinks for family or friends at the Hospital in the Surgical Waiting Room

What’s Wrong with Animal Based Foods and Processed Foods?

If you’ve watched the recent documentary Forks Over Knives, which is now available in DVD or on Amazon Instant Video or on Netflix, the message from highly respected and reputed doctors (Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Pam Popper, Dr. Dough Lisle, Dr. Terry Mason, Dr. Neal Barnard and Drs. Matthew Lederman and Alona Pulde) is clear and simple:

  • the quantity of animal based foods and processed foods consumption is directly correlated to degenerative diseases, especially heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and even erectile disfunction.
  • animal protein has shown that its addition into the diet alone can turn on and off cancer.
  • a whole foods plant based diet has the power to cure many diseases.
  • a whole foods plant based diet has the power to prevent many diseases.

Hospital Serves Cancer Patient Animal Based Meals and Processed Foods

Would you give an alcoholic a bottle of wine?  Would you temp someone who just quit smoking with a cigarette?  Then why do hospitals serve Cancer patients, and other patients who are struggling with health and possibly life itself, processed foods and animal products – the very foods that cause disease in the first place?

Last week, someone very close to my heart had a lung operation to remove cancer cells.  While I was undoubtedly saddened by the news, I was appalled at what kind of food was served to her at the hospital.  And this was in a very well known and respected hospital!

Her very first and subsequent drink offers at the hospital:

  • ginger ale with high fructose corn syrup with loads of ice
  • cranberry juice from a plastic tub (the kind that makes the juice taste like plastic)
  • apple juice concentrate from Argentina and China.

She also noted that she had quite a difficult time getting the nurses to give her just plain water without ice.

Her very first meal was breakfast:

  • oatmeal (the healthiest choice on the tray)
  • French toast
  • 2 pieces of greasy bacon (after surgery? really?) and 
  • canned fruit.

Lunch:

  • turkey and gravy
  • mashed potatoes (with butter?),
  • green beans and grapes (at least!).

Dinner:

  • beef stew and
  • broccoli (another at least!).

Snacks: Family and friends were offered ice cream, which was full of  artificial ingredients except for the first ingredient, milk.

The total ignorance in choices offered by the hospital’s food service is appalling but not really surprising.  I remind myself, this is probably how many people eat.  This is considered normal food.  But it is wrong on so many levels.

What To Do To Change What Hospitals Feed Patients?

While many of us are unable to make drastic changes to hospital food services, we can make our choices known!

For family and friends of patients, bring better options for your loved ones:

  • filtered water
  • raw healthy juices
  • fruits and
  • easily digested vegetables (i.e. pureed soups).

For patients: ask the hospital staff if they have Vegan options.

A Link Between Allergies and Other Health Disorders (including Cancer)

6 Sep

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month so the disease is much on my mind.  In my recent research, I was amazed to discover that Mast Cells in Allergic Reactions are linked to Cancer and their manipulation is now being looked into as a possible treatment for Cancer.

My then 1 year old son’s eczema on a MILD day.

To Feed or Not To Feed My Son with Allergens?

While I believe feeding allergens to my son is toxic for his body, many people believe just the opposite.  The most common response I have received is: “You need to expose him to what he is allergic to so that his body gets used to it.  He needs to build up a defense to bad food!” 

Really?  And subject my son to terrible eczema day and night?  I don’t think so! If my son’s body exhibits a negative exterior response due to an allergen, can you just imagine the interior damage to his body?

Mast Cells Link Allergies to Health Disorders

Recently, I skimmed through Robyn O’Brien’s book The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Is Sick and What We Can Do About It.  In a section entitled “The Cancer Connection,”  she explains how allergies are linked to other health disorders, including cancer, through the presence of mast cells.

When a protein is identified as a “toxic invader,” the allergic body produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which attach themselves to mast cells and produce cytokines and histamines against these “toxic invaders.”  At the same time, these mast cells cause allergic symptoms like runny or stuffy nose, breathing difficulties and inflammation in the body.  O’Brien states “Many doctors also believe [this] inflammation contributes to other disorders, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.”

The Resources

As I dig a little deeper, I find even more reasons (and scientific proof!) NOT to feed my son foods to which he is allergic!

1. The Critical Role of Mast Cells in Allergy and Inflammation which shows that the presence of mast cells due to allergic and anaphylactic reactions cause a variety of inflammatory diseases affecting the heart, joints, lungs and skin including:

  • Asthma Bronchonstriction – pulmonary inflammation
  • Atopic dermatitis – Skin vasodilation, T-cell recruitment, inflammation, itching
  • Coronary artery disease – Coronary inflammation, myocardial ischemia
  • Chronic prostatitis – Prostate inflammation
  • Chronic rhinitis – Nasal inflammation
  • Fibromyalgia – Muscle inflammation, pain
  • Interstitial cystitis – Bladder mucosal damage, inflammation, pain
  • Migraine Meningeal – vasodilation, inflammation, pain
  • Multiple sclerosis – Increased blood–brain barrier permeability, brain inflammation, Demyelination
  • Neurofibromatosis – Skin nerve growth, fibrosis
  • Osteoarthritis – Articular erosion, inflammation, pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – Joint inflammation, cartilage erosion

2. A few studies or reviews that link the presence of Mast Cells with

3. The Multifaceted Role of Mast Cells in Cancer which discusses and cites medical studies on how certain cancers proliferate due to the presence of mast cells. There is a theory that cancer is actually “a chronic allergic reaction mediated by mast cells.”  Tumor development or disease progression were linked to an increase in mast cell numbers in these cancers:

  • Rectal cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of mouth and lip
  • NSCLC adenocarcinomas (studies are contradictory)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Follicular lymphoma (but not with diffuse B-cell lymphoma)
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Gastric Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer

Unfortunately, simple is not always easy.  There are also studies that show that the presence of mast cells improves the survival of patients with breast, prostate and ovarian cancer – but these studies are in the minority.

Mama’s Emotional Health Affects The Whole Family

12 Aug Mama & Child: My artist friend painted this for us when our son was born.

“If you really want to be outrageous, be ethical.

If you want to go against the grain, be kindhearted.

If you want to live on your own terms, breaking out from expectations and external demands, practice love.

To be free, to be different, to be bold, be compassionate.”

~ Sharon Salzberg ~

I believe that our emotional health impacts our overall health, our family’s health and the health of humanity.

Mama & Child: My artist friend painted this for us when our son was born.

THE POWER OF MOTHER ON HER FAMILY

I remember a few months ago, a Facebook question was posed:

“What does the word “mother” mean to you? How about “power”? How does it feel to put those two words into the same sentence? What IS the true power of mothers?”

This question just spoke to me and I immediately responded:

“I feel as a mother, I have the power to influence my family’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health for the better… and for the worse… So I would like to make sure I use my power intelligently, proactively and deliberately.”

As I typed my comment on my computer, I thought:

- physical health (check)

- mental health (when my son’s not driving me crazy, check)

- spiritual health (check, but if tied to emotional health, maybe not), and

- emotional health (hmmm…. definitely cannot check, big fat red X).

WHEN MAMA’S NOT HAPPY, NOBODY’S HAPPY

What? Here I am, the advocate in my family for a healthier lifestyle. Sure I was emphasizing healthy foods, but I was totally disregarding emotional health. I knew that emotional stress could wreak havoc on one’s physical health, but in all honesty, I didn’t want to face the fact that I was causing ill health in my family.

Admittedly, I was influencing my family’s emotional health for the worse. You see, for the past 7 years, I have hated my mother-in-law. When we were in the same room, the tension was almost unbearable, for me, my mother-in-law, my husband, my parents. And, I’m sure my young son felt it too.

It wasn’t always like this though. Before getting married, my mother-in-law was a friend, a good friend. And the words ‘good’ and ‘friend’ can’t even begin to describe the bond we had had from the very beginning. Let’s just say, if I didn’t have a mother, she would have been the woman I would have loved to be mine. But after I married her only son, things changed. I don’t know how it all got out of hand, but it did and it was ugly.

EFFECTS OF EMOTIONAL STRESS ON THE BODY

At the height of my rage, the emotional stress was so intense my heart would pound and race, my teeth would chatter uncontrollably, my whole body would shake and, in the summer, I would feel so cold. Not a picture of health, is it?!? I don’t know about you, but food doesn’t affect my body as traumatically as anger or hatred does.

According to the American Institution of Stress, emotional stress affects our immune system, gastrointestinal tract, skin and other organs, “hormones, brain neurotransmitters, additional small chemical messengers elsewhere, prostaglandins, as well as crucial enzyme systems, and metabolic activities that are still unknown.”

Yes, I was poisoning my own body. And at the same time, I was bringing my family’s emotional health down with me.

FEAR IS POISON

I had thought that taking the time and the energy to forgive my mother-in-law, freely accept her for all she is and just letting go of the hurts between us would be extremely difficult for me. I thought taking the time to intelligently, proactively or deliberately try to heal our relationship would completely drain me. I thought it would expose my ego’s vulnerabilities to her, which I was too eager to protect. So I just completely ignored her instead, which just added to her pain… and mine.

THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM IS ME

I was watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with my son a few weeks ago and loved the song Truly Scrumptious. We would youtube it and watch it a few times a day. I don’t know why the song grabbed my attention so intensely, but it did. And the more I watched it, the more I envisioned my mother-in-law’s face on Truly’s. It was a bizarre experience, but all of a sudden, it moved me to see my mother-in-law in a whole different light. I saw a woman’s utmost joy expressed in the company of the children, the love she gave to them freely, her total present state of mind while she was with them and her sensitive bond with the children. Suddenly, I saw all the positives in my mother-in-law, where I once saw only negatives.

In my epiphany, I realized that the burden of the past 7 years continued to weigh down on me, because of no one else but me. It was I who needed to change my attitude, my behavior and my subjective point of view. As Thich Naht Hanh says,

“When some persons cause me to suffer… I should ask if I myself, in fact, may be one of the causes and conditions which makes them what they are.”

HEALING

For the past 3 weeks, my mother-in-law and I have had the most open, the most energizing, the most rewarding and the most loving experience we have ever shared together. What seemed like an irreparable relationship has been healed. Now, when I communicate with her, my heart jumps for joy, my whole body is energized and I feel warm all over. I can talk to my husband and my son about her with love and joy. Gone is the tension, the heaviness, the fear, the anger, the hatred, the suffering, the poison.

I feel emotionally healthier, physically lighter and spiritually lifted. I know my family has felt the change too. I am blessed with a mother-in-law who kept her door and heart open, ready and waiting for my return. Her kindness, forgiveness and love for me has taught me in turn how to love and how to live. Through my mother-in-law, I am beginning to really understand what it means to be a Mother and how to use the power we have as mothers to influence our family for the better.

Peace @ the Healthy Table: What Does It Take?

28 Jul

What happens when a Veggie marries an Omni? Peace or Burn-Out?

What Happens When A Veggie Marries An Omni?

I recently have met quite a few Vegan and Vegetarian women married to men who love their meat and processed foods.  The women joke that their hubbies eat these ‘on the side’.

Then Kids Come Along… and the dynamics drastically change…

Joy recently wrote to me: “how much I relate to so much of what you say. I am a raw foodie at heart stuck with a husband who loves soda, processed foods, pizza, candy, etc. He thinks he knows about healthy eating and argues with me on a regular basis regarding what we feed our kids 2 and 4. They are great eaters but definitely influenced by him and after almost five years, I’ve found myself exhausted and close to burn out.”

Exhausted and Burned Out Trying To Get The Family To Eat Healthy?

Yes, I’ve been there too!

I love nurturing the people I love through CLEAN, unprocessed food.  But, frankly, I sometimes want to quit and give up on days when my efforts are not appreciated or fail on the home front.  Sometimes I imagine just giving my family the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) Foods they would love to get their hands on. Wouldn’t I be more popular around here at meal times!?  Wouldn’t I have so much more time on my hands!?

But then I am reminded of why I do what I do in the first place and I look at how far we’ve come in the past 5 years.

Take Just One Step At A Time, Slowly Does It

Just 3 years ago, my husband and son were sick with a cough or cold every month.  This year alone, my husband has been sick only once.  My son twice (after choosing to eat overly processed foods).

3 years ago, my husband would have thought nothing about sharing a Krispy Kreme doughnut, corn syrup filled soda or dairy ice cream with our son with allergiesA few weeks ago, my husband and son sat down with me to write up and agree on a month’s worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack menus for them that are 50% raw vegan and 50% home cooked foods, which are mainly Vegan or Vegetarian!

5 years ago, I used to buy 7 gallons of bottled juices, the biggest package of hubby’s fave breakfast cereal, a few packages of junk food and about 14 pounds of animal products each week… for my husband alone! And not to even mention all the other refined foods: white flour, white sugar and some candy!  Today, I am buying my husband and son a cart full of fresh produce, whole grains to mill or sprout at home and about 3 pounds of animal products for them to share each week.  That is basically it.

Even When You Don’t Think You Are Making Progress… You Are!

Finding and creating balance is difficult when a health-conscious family wants to interact and be a part of the community obsessed with fast foods, meats and processed junk.

After a 4th of July celebration this year, I realized that in in promoting fruits, greens, unrefined and un-processed foods at home, I had inadvertently created a little processed food junkie who, when away from home, craves his white sugar/corn syrup rush and his fat high.  Admittedly, children will ‘test’ and want what they cannot always have. But there needs to be a balance so that depravity does not lead to such intense craving. So, at the request of my son, I baked Zucchini Bread almost every week since that party with the least refined Vegan ingredients.  My son exclaims almost every time he eats it, “Mama, I love this more than the cupcake at the party!”  Sure it isn’t raw, but the bread is full of zucchini – and that in itself has created my son’s new love for squash!

A few months ago, my son also announced: “No more Salads for me!  No more leafy greens!  Just smoothies!”  Instead of making it a big deal, I just served up green smoothies breakfast, lunch and dinner.  One day for lunch, I decided to make a big bowl of his old fave Kale Salad for dinner.  I was surprised when my son finished a big bowl quickly and quietly and said aloud, not to anyone in particular: “This was yummy!  This is the best salad!” Although technically, my son is still in his “no salad” stage, when I don’t make it a big deal, he will finish his fave bowl of greens.

As for my husband, he really loves his meat. I don’t want to deprive him. Nor do I want the topic of meals and food to be a thorn between us, when it should be something to enjoy together.  Considering he used to eat some animal product at every meal, a few times a week is such a positive change.  Processed foods, on the other hand, are foods I don’t wish to have at home.  If he chooses to eat some, he can do so elsewhere or I can try to create a better substitute.

What Does It Take To Make Peace @ My Table?

Perseverance.  Balance.  Determination.  Education.  Motivation.  Empowerment.  Compromise.  And, knowing that true permanent change comes slowly, one step at a time.

Are you a Veggie Lover married to an Omnivore Junkie?  What do you do to make peace at your table?

Similar Posts/Resources

Do We Have To Love What We Eat?

Free APP Gets Kids Excited About Eating Fruits and Veggies

How To Transition The Family Into More Raw Vegan Foods

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health

Top 10 Tips To Get Your Kids To Eat More Fruits And Veggies

FREE APP Gets Kids Excited About Eating Fruits and Veggies

26 Jul Munch 5 Home Page

Munch 5 Home Page

Got a tech-loving kid?  Want him or her to get excited about eating fruits and veggies? 

Munch-5-A-Day does just that.  And it is deliciously FREE!

I discovered it last week and it has been very popular at our house because it engages kids with its game-like feel.  Thought all you Mamas out there would love it too.

What I Love

  • you can set your own goals, so it doesn’t have to be just 5-a-day.  Right now, ours is set for 8 a day which is the average fruit and veggie consumption for my preschooler.  The highest goal is 12 a day.
  • it engages and empowers my son to eat his fruits and veggies, without me having to nag him.  Very IMPORTANT!

 

Munch 5 Badges

What My Son Loves

  • the sounds it makes when he taps the fruit and vegetable icons to record his daily consumption
  • the badges that he ‘wins’ – or rather, the app keeps him looking forward for the badges after recording his daily consumption because a badge isn’t given everyday.
  • the self-motivation of trying to reach his goal. My son keeps wanting to tap the fruit or vegetable icon, but I keep reminding him he has to eat it first in order to record his progress.  An empowering tool!
  • looking at his own fruit and veggie progress report.  By turning your device horizontally, you can view your progress for the past 7 or 30 days.  Last night, when he saw his progress report for the first time, he smiled saying “I ate all that?”

 

Munch 5 Progress

 

An Added Bonus

  • you can ‘share’ your successes with friends over Twitter and Facebook

Why Not Meatless Weekdays Instead?

23 Jul

The Environmental Working Group recently released their “Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health” report.  It is clear that the food choices we Americans make are negatively impacting our health, animal welfare and our planet’s environment and climate.

1. Americans eat more meat per capita than Europeans or people in developing countries.

2009 Per Capita Meat* Production Copyright @ Environmental Working Group, http://www.ewg.org

2. Production of meat and dairy for consumption in America use the most pesticides, chemical fertilizers, fuel, feed and water that cause the most greenhouse gases, toxins, manure and other pollutants that are currently in our air and water.  Lamb, Beef and Cheese are the chief culprits. Tomatoes and Lentils produce the least emissions.

Full Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Common Proteins and Vegetables Copyright @ Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org

3. The EWG states that we can make simple choices that affect our environment and climate big time:

“If you eat one less burger a week, it’s like taking your car off the road for 320 miles or line-drying your clothes half the time.

If your four-person family skips meat and cheese one day a week, it’s like taking your car off the road for five weeks – or reducing everyone’s daily showers by 3 minutes.

If your four-person family skips steak once a week, it’s like taking your car off the road for nearly three months. 1

If everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it would be like not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.”

So, my question is:

why not make it Meatless Weekdays instead of just Meatless Mondays???

Top 7 Fave Healthy Eating Habits on Vacation

8 Jul

I loved being a panelist on Healthy Child Healthy World’s  “On The Road Again: Eating Healthy on Vacation” Twitter Party. And, I was humbled to be part of a group of  amazing women who advocate for healthier nutrition for children:

As soon as the party ended, I immediately wanted to tell my husband about what we discussed at the party and I want to share them here with you!  Here are my 7 fave tips that help create healthier eating habits while on the road:

1. Invest in a cooler.

2. Plan ahead and make your own food to last the whole road trip.  Store it in the cooler.

3. Book accommodations with a kitchen, so you can make your own meals.

4. Bypass any fast food chain and any other restaurant with a drive-through.  Go to a Farmer’s Market instead or a grocery store with an organic produce section.

5. At a restaurant,

a) choose Vegan or Vegetarian Foods (unless you trust that their meat is organic, if you eat meat).

b) choose foods that are not fried, battered, have artificial ingredients or that contain possible allergens.

c) share a portion of your adult meal with your kids… try not to order from the kid’s menu.

6. Forget renting a car.  Walk everywhere.

7. Enjoy your family time!  Relax with your family, talk with them and have fun together!

On The Road Again: Eating Healthy on Vacation (Twitter Party)

7 Jul

Summer is officially here and the kids are out of school…it’s the perfect time for a family getaway! Are you planning a trip this summer? Will you fly, drive or sail? Whether you’re traveling by planes, trains or automobiles, making healthy choices when you’re away from home can be a challenge.

Join us Thursday July 7th at 6pmPST/9pmEST to tweet about healthy eating tips while on vacation. We’ll talk about your traveling experiences, best foods to eat on the go and more!

I am the only Raw Vegan (maybe even Vegan) Mama on the panel.  Come join in the conversation!

Sign up HERE!

Are Your Kids Allergic To Food —Or What’s In It?

28 Jun

By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Executive Director/CEO
Healthy Child Healthy World www.healthychild.org

This week, it’s all about food. A study released by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine found that childhood food allergies are twice as common as experts previously thought, with one in 13 kids affected, WebMD reported.

The survey of 38,000 was the largest ever to track childhood food allergies in the United States, and found that eight percent of kids under 18 are allergic to at least one food, with peanuts, milk and shellfish as the top three offenders. Previous studies, including a government survey published in 2009, had estimated four percent. Many food allergies are mild, but this new study found that 40% of children had experienced severe, potentially life-threatening reactions.

Why are these childhood staples now considered poisonous to so many? Some are pointing fingers at new introductions of genetically modified organisms. Find out why our kids may not be allergic to food—they may be allergic to what’s in our food—at HealthyChild.org.

When A Green Salad Just Won’t Do! Top 6 Ways To Get Kids To Love Plant-Based Food Again!

21 Jun

Look familiar? This is the "I don't think I can eat this!" look.

My fabulous niece Lia loves raw Kale Salad and Green Smoothies, but a piece of plain lettuce may be asking her for too much!  How many kids have you seen do this exact same thing? Many! And there are even more who won’t even touch any kind of vegetable.

A few months ago, when Karen Ranzi came to speak at our local university, she was so excited to see my 4 year old son eat a Banana Lettuce Wrap (below) and exclaimed “Wow! We need to take a picture of that!”  Unfortunately, as he grows up and gets more exposed to the Standard American Diet, his preference for unhealthy ‘normal American’ foods has escalated.  Recently, he has exclaimed: “No more Green Salads for me!  Only Green Smoothies!”

Banana Date Lettuce Wrap: a very simple meal

What’s a Mama to do? 

I knew this wouldn’t be easy.  So I have armed myself with new ways to get my little one to love eating unprocessed plant-based whole foods again. Here’s what I make sure we have:

1. A variety of fresh fruit in the house, for breakfast, snacks and/or pre-dinner munchies.

2. Lots of GREEN Smoothies in the house.

3. My niece Lia just discovered GREEN Smoothie Popsicles and loves them.  We have loved them in the summer time too!  Simply place leftover Green Smoothie into your popsicle molds and voila! another treat with nutritional benefits! By the way, we love our BPA free popsicle molds!

My son loves his popsicle from a Blueberry Green Smoothie!

3. Get the JUICER out for GREEN Juices.  If they won’t eat the salad, they can definitely drink them (as long as they are yummy!).  For most kids, this means a mixture of fruit and vegetable juices.  Although it is hard work, it is worth any Mama’s time: fresh green juices go directly into our cells and work their wonders.

4. Mix raw and cooked together for Half & Half! Yes, definitely the easier way to get the family to eat more fresh raw veggies.

Asparagus and Tomato Salad: cooked asparagus and raw tomatoes with Balsamic Vinaigrette (this is great with Broccoli and Tomatoes too!)

Zucchini Pasta topped with Cooked Lentils... you can always try!

Vegetable Sushi: my family loves Avocado, we use raw untoasted Nori... and yes that's white rice, they prefer it that way... maybe because they feel it's more authentic?

5. Prepare more COOKED PLANT-BASED options at each meal so that the family doesn’t crave other SAD (Standard American Diet) Foods.  This is important and something I often forget because I am so involved in making something Raw Vegan at each meal.  As I add more home-cooked vegan options at every meal, my family craves less for the unhealthier cooked fare.  Some of their Vegan faves: Japanese Vegetable Pancakes, Buckwheat Soba Noodles, Vegetable Sushi, Steamed Sweet Potato, Steamed Artichokes, Baked Potato Chips, Peanut (or Raw Almond) Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Pasta Alfredo, Pasta with a very simple Tomato Sauce, Chinese Dumplings, Sloppy Joes, Fajitas, Zucchini Bread… They don’t seem to like beans all that much.

6. Remind them that there are Raw Vegan Cookies and other Sweets too.  While I prefer fresh foods, I do make some treats for my family occasionally as well.

Other Resources:

How To Transition The Family Into More Raw Vegan Foods

Top 10 Tips To Get Your Kids To Eat Fruits and Veggies

Top 12 Kid-Friendly Year-Round Raw Superfoods

Top 10 Questions on the Raw Vegan Diet

17 Jun

From a Restaurant Menu

UN-PROCESSED foods is what is important to me and my family. In getting rid of all the processed foods in our pantry, it made sense to increase foods that were at the other end of the spectrum: raw, fresh, organic, in-season fruits and vegetables.  For the past 2 years, my husband and son opted to eat at least 50% Raw Vegan Foods, with the other 50% cooked whole foods made from scratch.  I am on my 3rd year as a Raw Vegan (about 100%) and although I feel great, I am now contemplating adding more cooked whole Vegan foods into my diet.  Like I state below a few times, in my opinion, it would be a better choice to eat a plain steamed sweet potato than a big piece of raw cheese cake loaded with cashews and sweetener.  Also, some foods just taste better when they are slightly cooked (artichokes for example).  And some foods are not toxic when cooked (raw green beans were horrible for me for example).  However, on the whole, it is important for people to consider adding more RAW fruits and vegetables into their family’s diets because of the added nutritional and health benefits To help you understand what we have learned about adding more Raw Vegan Foods into our diets, here are the top 10 questions we get asked regularly.

1. Will my skin glow on a Raw Vegan Diet?

YES.  No doubt about it!

Although I have always looked young, I don’t think I’ve aged much either.  And since switching to a Raw Vegan Diet, I’ve had my share of compliments on my glowing facial skin.  Not only that, but my overall skin is clearer.   I grew up with constant whiteheads all over my arms and blackheads all over my legs. My dermatologists would charge me for different creams, shampoos and other quick-fixes which never worked.  Just 1 month after I turned Raw Vegan, all of these skin inflammations were gone and I had not one white or black head on my body.  I have since discovered that it is after I eat some foods sautéed in oil that I usually break out with a bump or two.

My son, who has had terrible eczema, now is at least 50% Raw also has beautiful flawless skin.  Hubby’s skin looks the same.

2.  Will I have a lot of energy on the Raw Vegan Diet?

YES.  On a balanced Raw Vegan Diet, I have more energy ‘to go the extra mile’ in situations where I did not before.  My husband has noted that I do much more and complain much less, especially when I need to clean up…  ;)

3. Will I sleep less on the Raw Vegan Diet?

DEPENDS.  A lot of Raw Foodies really believe that they don’t need much sleep.  I used to get by with 5 hours of sleep a night on my first year of raw.  Now, on my third, I prefer about 7 hours.  If I don’t get enough sleep, I am more inclined to get sick.  So, I think this depends on the person.  Also, having a lot of energy while awake doesn’t equate to needing less sleep.

4.  Can I eat whatever I want on a Raw Vegan Diet?

NO.  I met a Raw Vegan once and she said on a Raw Vegan diet there isn’t a pyramid or plate chart to follow, “just eat whatever you feel like.”  Well… some famous Raw Vegans have become sick from an unbalanced diet of too many sweets and heavy foods (such as fruit, sweeteners, nuts), and too little greens (where the bulk of raw vegan nutrition is). Many long-time Raw Vegans have added raw dairy, raw egg and raw fish back into their diets because they felt something was missing.  Like any diet, a Raw Vegan must pay attention to daily balanced nutrition.  In my opinion, it would be a better choice to eat a plain steamed sweet potato than a big piece of raw cheese cake loaded with cashews and sweetener, for example.

What I have discovered on a Raw Vegan Diet is that I can easily pinpoint what my body needs by being sensitive to little changes.  I have found that I need to supplement with iodine, zinc and B12, for example.

(Resource: Raw Vegan Ingredients and Foods Raw Vegans Avoid)

5. Can I gain weight on a Raw Vegan Diet?

YES. You actually can gain weight and some people have!  If you eat a lot of nuts, avocados and oils, you can gain weight on a Raw Vegan Diet.  That said, it is easy to maintain your weight on a Raw Vegan Diet if you have a tendency to gain weight.  But you can also lose a lot of weight and have difficulty putting on some.

One thing that I have discovered is that I crave a lot of GREENS.  When I do crave other foods, I don’t eat a whole lot of it to feel satisfied.  When I get hungry, I don’t get “I-need-to-eat-now!!!” mad like I used to.

6. Will I get sick on a Raw Vegan Diet?

People have cured themselves off many diseases on the Raw Vegan Diet, which is testament to its efficacy. But, YES.  It’s not that we never get sick by adding more raw produce into our diets, but we get sick much less.

On 100% Cooked Foods, my husband and son were sick at least once a month.  I was sick less, but perhaps more than a few times a year.  After adding more Raw Vegan foods into our diet, we are all sick much less and our immune systems are much stronger.  By combining more Raw foods with exercise, sleep, time outdoors for sun and fresh air and more time to relax, we are creating a much healthier lifestyle for our family.

Note: The one thing that Raw Vegans must watch out for is food poisoning.  We have to be vigilant in washing our produce before we feed our family.  Animal foods are not the only foods that carry E. coli these days!  Also look at question #4.

7. 100% Raw Vegan is the only way to go!

NO.  Some people add only 25% Raw – and still feel the added benefits.  Many prefer to eat 50% Raw, but the term Raw Vegan describes people who are at least 75% Raw.  Although your family may prefer cooked foods, by adding live foods to your diet a little at a time, you and your family may be surprised how much Raw foods you are actually eating and enjoying in the process: a fresh fruit for breakfast, big salads for lunch and dinner, green smoothies and fresh juices at mealtimes or snack times, and raw desserts.

8. Is All Cooked Food poison?

NO.  Although a lot of Raw Vegans believe all cooked food is poison, I cannot make such a blanket statement.  What I like to say instead is that processed foods are poison!  What is most important is to UN-PROCESS the foods our families eat to improve their health.  We need to focus on foods prepared from raw, fresh, organic, local and seasonal whole foods – whether Raw or Lightly Cooked.  Like I said before, in my opinion, eating a plain steamed sweet potato is better than eating a big piece of raw cheesecake loaded with cashews and sweetener, for example.

9. Is it more expensive to add Raw Vegan foods to my family’s diet?

YES and NO.    It is true that buying organic produce is expensive, but I buy them on sale.  In our favourite health food store, produce is 30% off on certain days.  That’s when I buy!  A savings of 30% is tremendous.   And, if I cooked all the produce I already buy, I’d have to buy even more.  My family would want to eat double the amount of servings of  cooked foods as they would the same food served fresh, which is more filling.

Most restaurants serve salads these days! I ask them to make a big bowl of any fresh and raw veggies they have.

10. I won’t be able to eat out on a Raw Vegan Diet and I’ll have to learn to be satisfied with boring food!

NO.  Most restaurants have fruit and vegetables on the menu.  I order salads or slightly cooked vegetables for my family when we eat out.  There are also so many options available today for eating more Raw Vegan Fare.  In my own city, for example, we have our local Good Life Café.  In DC, we love going to Java Green where they serve Raw and Cooked Vegan fare.  In NYC, we have loved Pure Foods and Wine.  In London, we visit SAF Kensington on top of Whole Foods.  All their menus are interesting and their food delicious!  Just look at my Food Photos and you can see that Raw Vegan Food is far from boring.  There is an abundance of fruits, vegetables and dishes to eat and enjoy!

Robyn O’Brien’s Patriotism on a Plate

5 Jun

As I watch Robyn O’Brien, I am impressed by her work, how many people she’s reaching out to and how many diets she may be changing for the better.  Listen to her TED video full of real facts and figures about what’s happening to the American Plate.  These are all the reasons to Un-Process Our Children’s Food!

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food

26 May Organic Candy without High Fructose Corn Syrup... Is it better?

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food:

prepare everything from scratch and

eliminate processed foods as much as possible.

Organic Candy without High Fructose Corn Syrup... Is it better? (answer below)

Can a Vegetarian Diet be BAD?

I ‘got’ it. I was vegetarian in high school and college because I learned that a plant-based diet was better for my health and for the planet.  But on a vegetarian diet, I was sluggish and gained at least 20 pounds in my first semester of college.  Even my own mother didn’t recognize me at the airport when she came to pick me up for Christmas break.  I had to stand right in front of her, wave my hands before her eyes and say “Hi!”  It is definitely not a fond homecoming memory.

I confess I did go a little food crazy in college. Sugar-coated cereal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Countless dining hall visits for Ranch dressing, Honey Mustard dressing, Mayonnaise, American cheese melts, Pesto Pasta, cookies, ice cream with sprinkles galore at the dining hall. I also got a job at the Student Center Cafe, thinking I would learn how to cook for myself.  Well, I didn’t learn a thing.  The only thing I did learn was how to use the griddle and fryer, slap flat foods together to make sandwiches and slice tomatoes.  Everything else was pre-packaged and pre-made somewhere else. Looking back, I realize that most of the food I bought or ate or touched were highly processed foods – not whole foods.

A Processed Culture

I understand why we are attracted to ready-made convenience foods: they do not require much work or energy.  We want food NOW without having to work for it.  We want to be healthy but we don’t want to put the effort into actually preparing our meals directly from whole foods.  We want things EASY.

The thing is though, like most things, it requires work on our part to get something really worth anything.  Nutrition is no exception – plant-based or not.

The Difference

Consider this: When a fruit or vegetable is 5 days old, it will contain only 40% of it’s original nutrients.  How about processed foods with long shelf-lives?

Plant-based whole-foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  They are in their natural state and are not packaged, canned, bottled or boxed.  Most of the time, you can eat them fresh (washed or not) or they may require some time and attention (cleaning, prepping, dressing/marinating, cooking).

Processed foods, on the other hand, require little time and attention.  Most are ready to eat as is (junk food) or require some cooking (frozen dinners).  They are foods that have been so drastically altered from their natural state.  They are anything canned, boxed, bottled and packaged.  They are foods that are full of preservatives, artificial flavors and artificial coloring. They include anything refined (like white flours and sugars), any hydrogenated fats, any processed meats, anything with soy fillers, artificial food grade chemicals and additives.  

Plant-based processed foods are a whole niche market dedicated to serving ready made Veggie Meats and Veggie Dairy to vegans and vegetarians.  Unfortunately, these are highly processed foods too, containing especially high amounts of soy (most of which is genetically modified).

What’s The Big Deal?

Although we call them ‘food’, processed foods are not readily recognized by the bodyThey are seen as alien matter and our white blood cells will be on attack mode as soon as they enter our system.  Processed foods create toxins in our systems and cause degenerative diseases.  For our planet, processed foods require more energy and packing material.  Most of all, processed foods create more waste.

What’s more? 75% of all processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients – even foods labeled organic!  Of all seeds planted in the US, 93% of all soy, 86% of all corn and 93% of all canola seeds are genetically modified. According to Monica Eng of the Los Angeles Times, their bi-products “have become such common ingredients in processed foods that even one of the nation’s top organic food retailers says it hasn’t been able to avoid stocking some products that contain them.” People are generally unaware of foods containing GMOs: only 26% of Americans think they have eaten anything genetically modified and only 28% believed genetically modified ingredients were sold in stores.

The Ills of GMO

There has not been a long-term human study conducted to prove genetically modified organisms are safe.  A peer-reviewed paper GM Crops – Just The Science by The Non-GMO Project states that genetically modified ingredients:

  • “can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • can disrupt the ecosystem, damage vulnerable wild plant and animal populations and harm biodiversity
  • increase chemical inputs (pesticides, herbicides) over the long term
  • deliver yields that are no better, and often worse, than conventional crops
  • cause or exacerbate a range of social and economic problems
  • are laboratory-made and, once released, harmful GMOs cannot be recalled from the environment.”

Repercussions: Our Children’s Health

Studies have shown that processed foods are contributing to our children’s emotional and/or health disorders.  Recently, processed foods have been shown to adversely affect our children’s intelligence.  And yet, processed foods are still everywhere: in home kitchens, restaurants, cafeterias, and worse of all, they are used as gifts and rewards for children.

A few months ago, my friend Christina told me her children’s teacher at school was still giving Potato Chip parties every Friday for the best performing student of the week.  The kids also received daily Candy Rewards for good behavior.  My niece Lia is only in preschool and candy rewards are there too.  And it doesn’t end at school.  There are always boxed juices, frosted cupcakes and pinatas full of more candy at birthday parties. Doctors visits end with lollipops. People who want to do good, like Cookies for Cancer, raise money for cancer research by selling cookies with vegetable shortening, white sugar, sweetened condensed milk, packaged refrigerated cookie dough and Angel Coconut Flakes. Then there is Easter Bunnies, then Halloween Trick or Treating, then Holiday Sweets…  These are all occasions for highly processed foods with genetically modified soy, corn and canola products no doubt.

What adults are essentially saying to children is “You are so good!  Here’s some junk food that causes disease!” Why does our culture encourage this shameful and imbalanced exchange? Is it correct to reward our good children with processed foods containing empty calories and zero nutrients?  Is it right that we give them foods that negatively affect their future health?  Is it acceptable that by rewarding with these processed foods that children will be more resistant to eating whole foods?  Is it suitable that we are allowing children to crave junk foods by using them as rewards? According to Joanne Ikeda, a nutrition education specialist highly regarded for her work on childhood obesity, these are all the factors why foods (especially candy) must not be used as rewards for good behavior.

What’s A Mama To Do?

After a whole year of my son pestering me for the same lollipops he’s seen other kids eating (“Mama, REAL lollipops not my Banana Lollipops“), I finally ran out of distraction tactics or maybe he just wore me down.  So the other day, this Raw Vegan Mama succumbed to buying organic processed lollies for her son.  He’s only allowed 1 a week, which he rarely remembers and hubby and I conveniently forget to remind him.  The top 3 ingredients are: organic evaporated cane juice, organic tapioca syrup and organic rice syrup.  Not bad, no high-fructose corn syrup at least.  But all 3 ingredients are still processed foods. I sigh – almost defeated.  If you’ve read Is Sugar Toxic? you wouldn’t want your children to consume any kind of processed sugars either.

Resources on Plant-Based Whole Foods Diet

Blue Vinyl, The China Study, The Cove, Diet For A New AmericaFood Matters, Forks Over Knives, Mad Cowboy

Why I Am A Raw Vegan Mama

19 Apr

Our Fast Food (after non-invasive allergy treatments, bananas are now a fave at our house)

Have you watched Bedtime Stories? In the film, Adam Sandler’s character pokes fun at his sister who serves her kids only organic foods and bans junk from her house. Her kids have never tried or even heard of S’mores.

Yes, the movie is funny.

Sort of… until I realize I am a bit like the mother but maybe more extreme, because I am not only a Mama who believes in organic, in season/local, unprocessed foods, but I am also a Raw Vegan Many raw vegans eat at least 75% raw fruits, vegetables, sprouted nuts, seeds and grains. I’m at about 100%.  And because I prepare all our meals, my husband and son eat at least 50% raw vegan foods.

It hasn’t always been this way though.  In fact, when we were first married, my husband and I would buy Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, canned foods, packaged foods and questionable animal products on sale.  I cringe at that thought today. I guess people change when something drastic happens.  In our world, it took our son’s health issues to wake us up and change our lifestyle.

In Bedtime Stories, Sandler’s character entices his sister’s kids to the world of S’mores and junk food. It’s all done in good fun as he introduces the kids to nostalgic feelings associated with these forbidden foods.  The audience is moved to reminisce back to their own camping days, made to laugh and agree with the bonding experience between uncle, nephew and niece.  It’s a funny movie.

But it’s not so funny when the film ends.

It’s not funny when you find your baby’s bed sheets full of blood splotches almost daily because he scratched his eczema wounds open through the night.  We learned he was allergic to banana, peas, soy, dairy, eggs, corn and the list kept growing.

It’s not funny when your 2 year old is sedated in your arms and taken from you to have a CT scan done in another room to determine if there is a growth in his body.  He was only 2!

And what is happening to the health of our children today is not funny:

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, from the periods 1976-1980 to 2007-2008, childhood obesity increased: 2 times for 2 to 5 year olds, 3 times for 6 to 11 year olds and more than 3 ½ times for 12 to 19 year olds. 

From 1997 to 2007, there has been an 18% increase in food allergies in children under 18 years of age.  Food allergy related hospitalizations increased more than 3 ½ times during the same period.

According to the National Cancer Institute pediatric cancers have become more invasive, although mortality rates have declined by more than ½ (due to improvements in medical treatment).  Among children of all ages, the incidence of cancer only slightly increased, but the highest incidence of cancer occured during the first year of life and this has increased by 36% from the periods 1976-84 and 1986-94 according to Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results.

And, according to the Cancer Facts and Figures of 2010 by the American Cancer Society, 1 in 2 American men and 1 in 3 American women will develop cancer in their lifetime.

These are serious figures.

At the end of Bedtime Stories, I could not help but feel for the mother’s character who chooses a healthier lifestyle for her family against the culture in which we all live, learn, work and play.  But like her, I’m the Mama in my kitchen with the power to carefully choose what my family puts into their bodies.  I choose whole, organic, in season/local, unprocessed foods for my family. And I have the power to go one step further by adding more and more (and hopefully even more) raw vegan foods into my family’s diet as a disease preventative measure.

I never intended to be so different or so extreme in my food choices. I’m just a Mama who wants a healthy family.

More on this:

Top 5 Reasons to Feed our Children more Raw Vegan Foods

4 Top Reasons to Shop at your Local Health Food Store

8 Apr

I love going to my local community health food store, 14 Carrot Whole Foods for four wonderful reasons.

14 Carrot serves its Local Community

One of the best things they do, in my humble opinion, is their bi-weekly produce sale.  I hear mothers come in and talk to each other all the time.  “This place is even better than Walmart on Thursdays and Sundays from 1 – 5.  All produce is 30% off!  And it’s all organic or local!”  Indeed, a lot of its produce comes from farms nearby, like City Roots or are grown by people who work there, like Don’s tomatoes!  They also allow farms in the area to use their space as a drop-off for their CSA programs, making it so convenient for shoppers.

14 Carrot is Eco-Conscious

Jim helps me bag my groceries every week and often talks about recycling, reduce and reuse.  Ed, the owner, is very environment conscious and is passionate about decreasing his business’s carbon footprint.  They are a certified GREEN business.

14 Carrot focuses on Health

And for the nutrition-conscious like me, shopping at 14 Carrot is heaven. When Karen Ranzi, author of Creating Healthy Children Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods, visited and gave a talk at 14 Carrot, she remarked that we have more raw food items available to us in Lexington than in her own local health shop in New Jersey! Indeed, the people who work at 14 Carrot are very knowledgeable about what they do. Kathy, also a health food minister for Hallelujah Acres, is savvy about all things raw vegan and has helped turn me on, and so many other people in the community, to eating more raw foods.  I could also talk to Lou for hours learning about all things raw primal (raw milk, raw cheese, raw yoghurt, raw butter, raw meats) and local products as well (meats and dairy).  Furthermore, because of the staff and the quality of foods on display, my son is introduced to HEALTH foods at a young age. This nutrition education is priceless.

14 Carrot is a Neighbor

Most of all, I really love going to 14 Carrots because it feels like going to a neighbor’s house for a get-together every time I visit.  My son knows most of the people who work there by name. He plays rough with Mr. Don, sticks out his tongue at Mr. Tristan (ugh! but at least Tristan does it back), shows Ms. Lisa his Michael Jackson moves, has mini-conversations with Ms. La Toya, asks Mr. Lou for a smoothie and gives Ms. Song a kiss. I bump into friends all the time and I meet other like-minded shoppers who love healthy food.  A few weeks ago, I was surprised when Chris, a white guy who eats cooked food, taught me, an Asian Raw Foodie, how to make Kimchi, a traditional Korean fermented food.

Yes, 14 Carrots brings grocery shopping to another level!  We love going there and anyone who loves organic, local and health foods will too! 14 Carrot Whole Foods takes its mission as a local health food shop seriously and passionately. As a community, we cannot do without!

How Food can Protect our Families from Radiation Exposure

29 Mar

 

Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have worried about my friends who live in Japan.  Yet at the same time, in the midst of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, I am inspired and awed by the great peace, power of community and strength of the Japanese people.

Today, trace levels of radiation from the explosion at Fukushima are now in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Nevada and other Western states. Despite the low levels found, the risk of radiation exposure hits home. Although we are exposed to significant amounts of radiation already in our daily lives (cell phone towers, microwaves, X-rays, CT scans, yes even cigarette smoking), the low levels of radioactive material leaking out from a nuclear plant on the other side of the earth makes it seem more significant.

What radioactive material should we be looking out for?

The byproducts of the recent nuclear explosion are Iodine-131, strontium-90 and cesium-137. Iodine-131 travels best (therefore the first material to be found in the US), but after 80 days, only less than 0.1% will remain.  Cesium-137 can travel too, but once it falls on the ground, it will stay there for 300 years with only 0.1% remaining.

 

Why should we be concerned?

Because these radioactive materials can enter our bodies through ingesting, absorption through the skin or inhalation.  Moreover, they have been shown to cause different types of cancer.

 

What can Mamas do to protect their families?

Before going out to buy Potassium Iodide, Mamas can simply use Raw Food to:

1. protect our family’s bodies by filling up our cells with good minerals  and thereby keeping radioactive materials out, and

2. detoxify in order to get rid of any radioactive materials already present.


How can we use Raw Food to protect our families from radiation exposure?

From Gabriel Cousens’ A Comprehensive Holistic Approach to the Plague of Radiation and What To Do:

 

1. Serve up foods that protect the body from radiation exposure:

MINERAL PROTECTS FROM
 

Iodine (found in kelp and strawberries)

 

 

thyroid and gonads

 

iodine-131

 

Potassium (found in chard, crimini mushrooms and spinach)

 

 

muscles, kidneys, liver, and reproductive organs

 

cesium-137

 

Calcium (found in spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens and collard greens)

 

 

bones

 

strontium-90

Other excellent foods that protect against radiation are:

- garlic, onion, ginseng

- echinacea, rosemary

- green tea – 20 cups gives 97% more protection against radiation

- chlorophyll-rich foods: cabbage, leafy greens, spirulina (decreases side effects of radiation by 50%), wheatgrass, sprouts, blue green algae

- beets can lessen cesium-137 absorption by 97-100%

- bee pollen contains 15% lecithin which protects against all 3 radioactive materials: iodine-131, strontium-90 and cesium-137

 

2. Serve up foods that bind to radioactive material, turning them into harmless salts and then ridding the body of them:

CHELATES (foods that bind) DETOXIFIES BODY OF
 

Kelp family (kelp, arame, wakame, kombu, hijiki) contains sodium alginate

 

 

Strontium-90

 

Green algae (chlorella)

 

 

Cesium-137

Other excellent chelates:

apples, sunflowers seeds, miso, grains, beans, peas

 

3. Serve up alkalizing foods that are low in the food chain protect the body against radiation:

- raw vegan foods because they have lower concentrations of radioactive materials:

- avoid animal products because they contain up to 15 x (milk) and 30 x (beef) more radioactive materials

More Resources:

Nuclear Plants Near You (USA)

Radiation

What is raw vegan food?

What are Raw Vegan ingredients?

What do Raw Vegans avoid?

Top 12 Kid-Friendly Year-Round Raw Superfoods

7 Mar

After discussing the top 5 reasons to feed our children more raw vegan foods, I thought it would be good to list the most kid-friendly raw foods that are in-season all year round and/or available all year round.  It is best to find organic, local and in-season foods, but sometimes it is just not possible for many reasons (one being I have a monkey who loves bananas and we don’t grow bananas where we live).

So, here is a list of 12 superfoods that are full of, as my son says, “En-zines! En-zines!”

Hope your kids enjoy these living and enzyme rich foods!

FRESH FRUITS

1. bananas – all kids love bananas.  They are rich in enzymes, best eaten just ripe when there are brown spots on the skin.  Many kids are monkey bananas for them in

  • breakfast – cereals, granola, porridge, pudding
  • green smoothies – a must in any
  • ice cream – with the texture of real ice cream, you can add different ingredients to change its flavor
  • lollipops – name me a kid who doesn’t like them!

2. apples – sweet and crunchy!  Full of phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants, what’s there not to love in

  • breakfast – in our favorite Raw Muesli and a yummy accompaniment to Almond Yogurt.
  • easy snacks – simply slice one up and serve with or without a dip, or create Apple Sandwiches
  • raw Applesauce
  • immune booster ‘tea': mix together equal parts of apple cider vinegar and honey, add water to taste
  • veggie juices – to make it more palatable for kids. I know my son prefers apple green juices over carrot ones.

3. lemons – rich in raw vitamin C and bioflavanoids.  Enjoy in

  • salad dressings: 1 tbspn lemon juice, 2-4 tbspns extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp sea salt, spices and herbs
  • raw lemonade

4. avocado – rich in protein, enzymes, fiber, potassium, vitamin E and healthy fats.  Avocados add a richness and creaminess in

  • dips – Guacamole
  • soups
  • a simple side – sliced with a little sea salt and extra virgin olive oil
  • desserts – creamy chocolate Sundae

5. papaya – loaded with living enzymes, papaya contains papain, a digestive enzyme which helps break down protein and soothes the stomach.  Enjoy in

FRESH VEGGIES

6. romaine lettuce – rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, manganese, and chromium, it is also a very good source of dietary fiber.  It is the mildest of all leafy greens and the easiest for kids to learn to love.  Enjoy in

  • easy salads – Kid’s Only Salad and South Asian Salad
  • smoothies – in any smoothie, this is the easiest way to get kids to eat them
  • as wraps – simply place a banana in a leaf, topped with almond butter and honey or dates or nama shoyu, or other filling

SPROUTED GRAINS

7. sprouted oat groats: a good source of dietary fiber, significant amount of vitamin B1, potassium, iron, phosphorous, selenium, zinc, manganese and magnesium.  Enjoy in

RAW NUTS and SEEDS

8. almonds – higher in fiber than other nuts, contains healthy omega-9 oleic fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Enjoy in

  • Almond Butter – use it instead of peanut butter on bananas with honey, or in lettuce wraps
  • Almond Orange Salad Dressing
  • Raw Almond Milk – soak 1 cup of almonds overnight, rinse and drain the next day, process in a high speed blender with 4 cups of water and your choices of sweetener (honey, dates, to taste) and flavor (cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom)
  • Raw Almond Yogurt

9. coconut – besides being anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal (Coconut Research Center), coconuts are highly nutritious, rich in fiber (4x as much as oat bran and 2x as much as wheat bran or flaxseed meal), vitamins and minerals.  We have a tub of coconut oil in my son’s bathroom and he enjoys eating the butter as I lather moisturize his skin with it. Enjoy in

  • breakfast – granola
  • coconut oil – in desserts, pit a date and place a little coconut oil inside, close and enjoy
  • creamy milk – simply blend together fresh raw coconut water and meat from one coconut.
  • Pina Colada smoothie – blend together water and meat from 1 coconut, 1 banana, 1 cup pineapple, 1 tbspn honey.
  • soups – we love my Coconut Gazpacho, but you can make a simple Avocado Coconut Soup by blending 1 avocado and water and meat from 1 coconut and your choice of flavours (curry, vanilla, sea salt or honey)

10. sunflower seeds - excellent source of vitamin E, as well as vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B5 and folate.  We enjoy this is our son’s fave salad

11. flax seeds – great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, good source of dietary fiber, manganese, folate, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and lignan phytonutrients.  Enjoy as

SWEETENER

12. raw local honey – not only will this help with seasonal allergies, but this is an unprocessed sweetener that kids just love.  Since finding out more about the negatives of agave syrup, honey is now our favorite liquid sweetener.  Enjoy in

  • breakfast
  • chocolate syrup with raw cacao or carob powder
  • desserts
  • toppings or dips for cut fruit

Top 5 Reasons To Feed Our Children More Raw Vegan Foods

5 Mar

All Parents Want The Best For Their Children

 

TOP 5 REASONS TO FEED OUR CHILDREN MORE RAW VEGAN FOODS

1. Health is the most important factor in our children’s life.

2. Study shows food affects not only one’s health, but affects one’s children’s health, affects a family’s health for generations and food has the power to reverse degenerative disease.

3. Meat-based Diets shorten lives and cause degenerative diseases.

4. Plant-based Diets prevent and cure diseases.

5. Our immune system is affected by cooked and processed foods.

These all point to the most natural foods most easily accepted by the body: RAW VEGAN FOODS.


RESOURCES

What is Raw Vegan Food?

Who are Raw Vegans?

Raw Vegan Ingredients

What Do Raw Vegans Avoid?

Quote of the Day

10 Feb

In talking to her children about foods that are better for the body, Karen Ranzi of www.superhealthychildren.com author of Creating Healthy Children through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods would ask:

“If you were hungry and you saw a cow in a field and an apple orchard, where would you run to get food first?”

Rejuvelac

9 Feb

 

Rejuvelac

 

Dr. Ann Wigmore, Living Foods Lifestyle founder, said: “Rejuvelac contains all the nutritional nourishment of wheat and is more easily digested. It contains the friendly bacteria that are necessary for a healthy colon and to remove toxins. It is also filled with B complex vitamins and vitamins C and E.”  Rejuvelac is full of enzymes that help in the digestion process, lactic acid that creates a healthy intestinal flora and  additional protein, dextrines, carbohydrates, phosphates and amylases.

Method

Although there is a lot of ‘wait’ time, the process of making rejuvelac is quite simple.  Follow Ann Wigmore’s recipe here.  I also found a less complicated and quicker version in Healing with Whole Foods.  Here is the easy way to do it:

1. soak 2 cups of soft wheat berries overnight (you can also use any cereal grain: barley, oats, rye, wheat, unhulled millet, buckwheat, whole-grain rice)

2. drain and rinse

3. place berries in a jar with 4 cups water

4. cover mouth of jar with cloth or sprout screen

5. allow fermentation for 2 days

6. strain and keep liquid.  Refrigerate.  This is rejuvelac.

7. add 4 cups of water in the jar with the berries.

8. allow fermentation for 1 day.

9. strain and keep liquid.  Refrigerate. This is also rejuvelac.

10.  Most people compost the wheat berries at this point or feed it to the birds.  But you can also use the sprouted grains in other recipes.

 

What to do with Rejuvelac?

- drink as a beverage: we add raw local honey to taste.  My 4 year old and my husband love it!

- you could make yoghurt, dressings, soups, sauces

- you could use it as a ‘starter’ (1 to 1) sourdough bread, if you bake bread

Rejuvelac can be kept refrigerated for several weeks.

How To Market Fruits and Veggies to Your Kids: Tip #10

27 Jan

Big bucks are being spent on marketing unhealthy foods directly to children.  What are parents to do?  Learn how and what is being done, find ways to counter the commercials that make kids want to eat unhealthy foods and in the process market fruits and veggies to kids.  We may not have more money than big food corporations, but we have the advantage of time with, love for and commitment to the health of our children.

 

Tip #10:

Discuss Marketing Tricks

The premise behind this tip is that children will begin to understand how big food companies are manipulating them into buying their products.


The best site I found to help parents empower and educate their children on marketing ploys is called Media Awareness Network based out of Canada.  Here are their links on:

- Dealing with Marketing: What Parents Can Do

- they suggest many activities to do with kids to educate them on how marketers target them

- they have handouts and tip sheets for parents, including: Talking To Your Kids About Advertising

- Curricula for Teachers on Media Education

- for example, grades K to 3 example lessons include lessons on teaching marketing techniques, Food Guides, advertising and packaging tricks

 

Another good site is the New American Dream, a US based website:

- they have a FREE brochure on Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture

- and More Tips for Raising Healthy Kids in a Commercial Culture

 

If you want a short, bullet-point type of article,  6 Tricks Used To Sell Junk Food quickly outlines the important marketing techniques to talk to your children about:

- misleading labels, suggestive science or advertising, enticing prices of food, economics behind marketing to children, manipulative visibility of products and how companies get parents to buy their products

 

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has other resources for parents as well

 

Center for Healthy Communities is a California based group:

- their newsletters delve into different health issues but their 2008 Winter Center Scene publication focused on ‘Confronting the crisis of childhood obesity: Advocates Combat Junk Food Marketing to Children’

 

Other links:

- for kids: PBS Kids’ Don’t Buy It Get Media Smart

- for teenage girls: About Face

- for the family: Adbusters.org’s Buy Nothing Day

How To Market Fruits and Veggies to Your Kids: Tip #6

20 Jan

Big bucks are being spent on marketing unhealthy foods directly to children.  What are parents to do?  Learn how and what is being done, find ways to counter the commercials that make kids want to eat unhealthy foods and in the process market fruits and veggies to kids.  We may not have more money than big food corporations, but we have the advantage of time with, love for and commitment to the health of our children.

Tip #6:

Grow Your Own

Organic Fruit & Vegetable Garden

 

Reliable Seed Companies: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

The premise behind this tip is that by planting their favorite fruits or vegetables, children will be motivated to learn

- how plants grow
– to appreciate organic farmers and their practices
– the value of produce
– how much better fresh fruits and vegetables taste right off child’s own plants
– to enjoy spending time together in nature.

We have had a few different varieties of tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers,  onions, basil, rosemary,  thyme, lavender, mint and sage the past few years, but then my green thumb relaxed too much and I found our garden full of grubs one day, all plants failed and my ONE  ripe beefsteak tomato taken by an animal last year.   My attempt at composting was also a disaster and I killed about 200 worms while trying to vermi-compost.

Sigh.

Not giving up too easily, we have  started our broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, snap beans and salad seeds indoors this week.  Wish us luck!

My back up plan if Tip #6 fails: visit a friend’s garden, as well as farms nearby and farmers markets.

Tip #7: Build Entertainment Value Through Raw Food

How To Market Fruits and Veggies to Your Kids: Tip #5

19 Jan

Big bucks are being spent on marketing unhealthy foods directly to children.  What are parents to do?  Learn how and what is being done, find ways to counter the commercials that make kids want to eat unhealthy foods and in the process market fruits and veggies to kids.  We may not have more money than big food corporations, but we have the advantage of time with, love for and commitment to the health of our children.

Tip #5:

Watch Helpful Shows

On Fruits and Veggies

The premise behind this tip is that children are greatly influenced by what they watch. Here are some favourites:

 

Edu-Tainment:

Grocery Store Wars – a long time fave showing the on-going fight between Organic and Conventional Produce, this short video is not only for Star Wars fans.

Kids Prepare and Eat Kale Salad – maybe inspire your kids to make their own and eat it too

Music TV:

For young kids:  ‘2 Fruits, 5 Veggies‘ song with dance movements kids can follow along

For older kids, a fun ‘rap’ song on Raw Foods by Sergei Buotenko of The Raw Family

Talks:

An 11 year old homeschooled boy tackles Organic Food and Farming on TED

Miscellaneous:

The Raw Family site has a lot of great videos too

The Raw Food Media has a few videos with raw food kids

Videos for older kids and adults:

The Cove on toxins in fish

Blue Vinyl on toxins in animal products

Food Matters and yes it does!

Food Inc on conventional and organic farming practices


Tip #6: Grow Your Own Organic Fruit & Vegetable Garden

Marketing Fruits and Veggies to Kids

12 Jan

Everyday, our children are bombarded with marketing directed at them through various media that costs companies over $15 billion annually according to New American Dream.  The effect is disastrous with research showing direct links to childhood obesity, harm to children’s emotional well-being, self-image and sexual behavior, and to their financial self-control.

As parents, we need help in bringing up healthy children. We need to be supported. We do not want our role to be diminished.  We do not want our voices taken away by companies that directly market unhealthy products to our children.  So what can we do?

Having recently conducted my own unintended marketing ploy and seeing it work, I am ready to examine what works for big food corporations and how parents can use these tools to market healthy foods to their children.  So, I took a look at what The Center of Science for Public Interest wrote up in the Guidelines for Responsible Food Marketing to Children.  These were the biggest influential factors in marketing to children:

- advertise during TV, videos, cartoon shows
– product and brand placements in movies, shows, games, websites, books
– giving out premiums and incentives for consuming certain foods
– promote foods using cartoon or fictional characters or celebrities and the same placed on children’s merchandise and games
– build entertainment value through food: food shapes like a character, or use of colors to surprise the eater…
– create education incentive programs using food
– place a banner or wall paper of product on computer
– eye level shelves of grocery stores
– showing emotional, social or health benefits of food (i.e. someone loves you more by buying a food/ someone is very popular for eating a food/ someone is more physically fit for eating a food)

After looking at this list, I have decided to start using the same tactics at home… but to market raw fruits and vegetables to my son.   Although I have successfully transitioned my family from 100% cooked to about 50% raw in a year (read How To Transition The Family Into More Raw Foods), I would like to do more.  I want to make a long-term impact on my son’s health through nutrition.  So, I’ve come up with my own Marketing Fruits and Veggies to Kids list.

Let’s start with Tip #1: Model Healthy Nutrition

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