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Hand Eczema Under Control

16 May

Hands

Got hand eczema? Me too.

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This is what my hands have looked like everyday since I was a child: extremely dry and rough. I tried many moisturizers, lotions and products without improvement. My Chinese grandmother always shook her head as I held her hand. She would tell me that my dry hands told a future of a very hard life.

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In my recent years, this is what my hands looked like on bad days (though not the worst). Open wounds would appear especially when I used products in someone else’s house or in public places. Even if I looked at the ingredients on packaging, it was difficult to determine how exactly my skin would react. Fissures, like the one on my left pinky (above), are terribly painful. Just one use of a commercial hand soap and my rough skin would flare up and fissures would appear within hours. Unfortunately, it could take weeks to reverse the reaction.

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My son took this photo of my hands today. I don’t remember my hands ever being this smooth and soft before. What have I done differently? In the past few months, I have discovered how to create my own soaps. More importantly, I learned to make the mildest and gentlest soaps. No more rough and dry skin for me. No more fissures. I wish my grandmother could feel my hands as they are today. She would tell me that my soft hands tell a future of an easy life.

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Vegan Son’s High Cholesterol After Switching to Omnivore Diet

30 May

The Art of Proper Eating

A few months ago after an allergy test cleared him for some animal proteins, my Vegan 7 year old son wanted to eat beef jerky, cheese and eggs, and drink goat’s milk. Although as a Vegan, I would naturally like my son to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet, I allowed him to decide for himself. Besides, he would still be eating a whole lot of vegetables and fruits in my kitchen.

My son relished the flavors of foods he had not tasted in years. He drank raw goat’s milk everyday, ate eggs once or twice a week, and ate a few strips of beef jerky on the weekend. Still pretty healthy. Not bad, right?

Fruits on the Counter

Well… recently his Pediatric Well Visit showed that his cholesterol was just too high. The blood tests were re-done after a few days on a Vegetarian diet and results were a bit better. The overall cholesterol decreased from 290’s to 250’s, but his LDL cholesterol levels were at 188mg/dL. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,  “A total cholesterol level greater than 200 mg/dL and LDL-C greater than 130 mg/dL represent values above the 95th percentile for children and are designated as high.” Drug therapy is recommended when LDL cholesterol levels are at 190 mg/dL or higher.

How could this be? My son’s slim, we eat more fruit and vegetables than most, and he is an athlete. Unless, of course, his cholesterol problem is hereditary.

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The doctor suggested our son return to a Vegan Diet for 6 months. We can then figure out his base cholesterol levels, and go from there.

Here’s hoping that Vegan Food does its magic. I don’t want my young son on medication!

Mama’s Now Cooking!

18 Feb

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Yup, this Mama is cooking again! After a few years on a highly Raw Vegan diet, our family’s wants and needs have now changed.  

No More Tree Nuts

Our son has become highly allergic to cashews and pistachios, and we want to make sure there is no cross-reactivity, cross-contamination, nor cross-contact reactions to any other tree nuts. This change rules out many Raw Vegan recipes. We also discovered that his allergies to dairy and eggs have cleared. The test also showed a mild allergy to soy. I see no good reason to make my son feel we are controlling and restricting his diet further. We are now allowing him to make more food choices for himself. He is still trying new things and figuring out what he likes and what his body prefers. So far, he is enjoying his rediscovery of raw goat’s milk and cooked eggs. He’s also since tried store-bought beef and bison jerky, which he says he absolutely loves.

Raw vs Cooked, Vegan vs Vegetarian Foods

As for my husband, he is pretty tired of raw Vegan food, although he still enjoys our faves. It’s nice when he does request for them. He prefers cooked Vegan and Vegetarian foods.

Where do I fit in?  I’m the Vegan Mama who buys and prepares/cooks the Vegan and Vegetarian food for a son who loves goat’s milk, a hubby who prefers soy milk, and for myself who can live on raw foods. Cooking for three people with different food preferences is not admittedly such an easy task when our homeschool days are full.

Keeping Mama in the Kitchen and she ain’t cookin’

I have decided to keep this blog, along with the research and the recipes on Raw Vegan foods, in hopes that the information can continue to help more people out there. My future posts, however, will reflect the new changes in our family’s dietary choices.

Hoping you stick around to watch us on our journey!

30 Lessons this Raw Vegan Mama Learned from Traveling and Dining Out with Omnivore Loved Ones

4 Mar

In the last 6 months alone, it seems like my family and I have traveled non-stop to be with friends and extended family.  These days, I feel like I am a bit of a pro when traveling with and dining out with loved ones who happen to be non-Raw Omnivores. 

I wish I could tell you we did wonderfully: I ate 100% Raw Vegan Foods and my family kept up their 50% Raw Vegan diet. But we did not.

What we did a lot of instead was, what I call, nutritional compromising. Why?  Well, believe it or not, for harmony’s sake.  We love our friends and family dearly and being together with them means a lot to us.  We didn’t want to alienate anyone… or ourselves.

I cannot say I was very much OK with all the nutritional compromising in the past few months… but I met Perry the other day who made me feel a whole lot better.  He sold me a bottle of E3Live.  I asked him if he was Raw Vegan.  He said he used to be.  “Why?” I asked.  He said, his mother had cancer when he was growing up and foods were designated as BAD or GOOD, ALLOWED or NOT ALLOWED.  So Young Perry rebelled. He would go behind his mother’s back, steal her money and buy the foods that were verboten at their house.  Needless to say, he thought it was a good idea that I allow my son some slack. 

Here is what I learned while traveling with Omnivore loved ones:

Our Travel Food Bag

I always have fruit (bananas, oranges, apples) and salad for everyone. I also always have some cooked Vegan foods for the boys. Hopefully we can recycle the plastic containers.

1. I always pack my family’s meals for road trips and national/international flights. Unfortunately, the food lasts only about 8 hours and after that we have to make do with what we are given or find at the other end of our trip.

Vegan Meals up in the friendly skies: include preservatives, coloring and a bunch of other stuff we wouldn't normally eat. But - this is the best option we have when we run out of food.

2. On planes, we request either the Raw (not always available and this tends to be fruit or cut carrot and celery sticks) or Vegan (although some are cooked with many processed Vegan ingredients) options for flights.

3. Clearly, our family’s highly raw/unprocessed Vegan diet tends to go down the drain pretty much from the get-go.

I love this old photo of my son snuggling with his step-grandmother. In the first 5 minutes after they met, it was clear they had already bonded so wonderfully.

4. We want to spend time and create strong bonds with our extended family and friends while traveling/visiting with them.

5. But, this means mealtimes more often than not emphasize non-raw and non-vegan foods.

6. We tend to eat out at mainstream restaurants a whole lot while traveling with others.

7. We have lengthy and careful discussions with servers about our family’s food preferences and allergies before ordering. It seems to us that waiters, on the whole, are not trained well on matters relating to Veganism or food allergies.  Neither are they made aware of the repercussions of food allergies. Sometimes, the problem may be that they don’t properly convey diner’s requests to chefs in their kitchens.  So, we like to take our time in our communication with them.

8. Raw Vegans are not the best for diners with nut and maple/agave allergies.  After talking very carefully to servers about our son’s allergies, my son has had very bad vomiting spells after eating/drinking something at Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco and Quintessence in NYC.  Needless to say, we are not going back to these 2 places to eat.  I can, however, recommend The Farm in the Philippines, Good Life Café in South Carolina and Pure Food and Wine in NYC.

9. We tend to eat what our host provides.  “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do!” Right?  As guests, we are really at the mercy of our host, especially when they want to treat us all the time and/or we are in a foreign country.

10. I have discovered that food allergies are difficult for others to understand.

11. The concept of Raw Vegan foods are even harder for many to grasp.  I have had, many a time, cheese and bread on my “all Raw Vegan” salad or been offered regular hummus with cooked chickpeas.

12. Requests for Gluten- and Vegan-free food is akin to speaking a foreign language.

My son kept asking for the white bread served at most mainstream restaurants. Having said 'no' so many times (due to allergies), I finally ordered some wonderful Rice Bruschetta at a Vegan restaurant we visited towards the end of one of our trips. My son was extremely happy. So was I for having found a half-raw, half-cooked meal for him too!

13. My son will want to eat what others are eating: i.e. the cooked or processed refined foods.

14. A loved one recently baked 6 loaves of maple syrup white wheat bread while we visited her for 2 weeks – even after I asked her to please stop at the first loaf.  The breads just kept appearing though, which my son gladly ate and I tried to stop.  She was thrilled of course to watch my son devour her bread. On the other hand, I was focused on his rashes (c/o maple sugar).

15. This Mama will compromise only to a certain extent.

Using a handheld immersion blender in a plastic tub while traveling to make a lamb's lettuce smoothie for my family

16. If a kitchen and/or appliances are available, I supplement our family’s meals with fresh fruit for breakfast and fresh juices or green smoothies before a meal (that is if we have access to appliances and/or a kitchen).

Someone shared this on Facebook and made me LOL!

17. If a kitchen is available and if possible, we eat ‘in’ as much as we can and I end up a Mama in the Kitchen with no holiday.  But, I can’t complain!  We minimize allergies this way.

18. You cannot simply trust labels.  My son has even reacted to packaged Raw Vegan foods we have purchased while traveling to which, according to ingredients on labels, he isn’t allergic.

19. On every trip these past few months, my son has had some type of allergy, despite our efforts.  He has been very mucus-y on the plane home twice.

20. Raw Vegan food options are not always available when eating with family and friends…or they are harder to come by when traveling or sanitation is an issue in certain countries. When eating at mainstream restaurants or at people’s homes sometimes simply boiled, steamed or stir fried veggies are the best and only options.  In many health food stores in big cities, Raw Vegan Foods usually means a lot of packaged dehydrated foods… exactly the foods we try to avoid.

21. Raw Vegan food does not win over many people.  Some of my loved ones returned home to eat SPAM with white rice after a beautiful lunch at The Farm, Philippines.

22.  I, on the other hand, will have some type of food sensitivity after eating at a Raw Vegan restaurant: headaches, swelling or bloating from an excess of agave syrup, soy products, or nuts.

Juice Bars are worth it! Here in SAF London

23. To minimize allergies or sensitivities, we order simply at Raw Food Restaurants: an abundance of green juices (not smoothies) or simple Salads, and avoid other foods altogether (unless the server/chef can be 100% clear on the ingredients used).

The food was so delicious, I made sure I bought their cookbook as soon as we got home!

Food For Thought in Covent Garden will win over Omnivores anytime for taste and bang for buck! Just be prepared for small spaces and a communal-type feel.

24. Cooked Vegan foods, on the other hand, have been the best way for us to introduce family and friends to the Vegan diet. My mother gave us a cooked Vegan party when we visited her.  My friends thought they would have to lug their families to McDonald’s afterwards – but they admitted to loving the food by my Vegan Chef cousin!  They all had second helpings of the healthy mains and the desserts!  And no trip to McDonald’s afterwards!

I got an "That doesn't look very good at all!" comment for my salad here.

25. Prepare yourself for negative comments from loved ones about your food. Yes, even those who say they understand and would love to be Raw Vegan. I have had an ugly grimace directed at my food with a “I would NOT like to eat that!”, “is that all?”, “how do you get your protein?”, “yuck! how do you eat that!” And all in front of my son too, who takes it all in.

26. People somehow forget about your family’s diet and lifestyle choice, no matter how close they are to you.  I have had a platter of Steak placed under our noses blatantly at dinner with a smile and a “here, you will love this”; baked pastry treats full of syrup, butter and refined flour placed in front of my son while he, as most kids will, drools; salmon offered to us which they know was my son’s favourite fish before our kitchen turned Vegan.

27. The good outweigh the bad.  What is important is that we are surrounded by people we love and who love us back.

28. By the end of the trip, I am always itching to return to my own kitchen, I can’t wait to shop at my own local health food store and I can’t wait to eat healthier food.

29. After returning home, it is always just a little harder to get my son to eat as healthily as he used to.  And I am OK with this too because after traveling for the past 6 months, I know in a day or two, he’ll be asking for his fave smoothie and his fave kale salad!

30. And at the end of the day, I love what traveling does for our family.

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.

On Being A Mama and The Power of Veggie Soup

11 Dec

As you have probably noticed, I’ve been on a writing break for over a month.  I have no better and simpler excuse than this: I have been focusing on being a Mama.  My son has needed me more these days and I have needed to be with him.

Homeschooling

We started Kindergarten homeschooling in the Fall.  I didn’t know homeschooling would be as much fun as it is and I didn’t know it would be so intense.  My son is truly engaged and I am relieved that my research on curriculum is paying off!  Every morning goes by so fast these days and the time shared with my son are too precious for me to miss or rush through.

Thought I’d share these drawings with you.

An Activity of What makes you: HAPPY (being with Mama and Daddy), SAD (being alone), SCARED (meeting a monster), SURPRISED (meeting a monster that sings "You ain't nothing but a hound dog!)"

My son intended to write "Paddington Bear, 1 Main Street"... but this is what he wrote instead.

Although my husband and I discuss the education aspect of homeschooling a lot, the food in schools is what really frightens me.  The conventional foods, the processed foods, the allergens abound, the unhealthy culture at school cafeterias.

Allergies

My family went on a few weeks holiday in the Fall to visit family.  That’s when I realized that this Mama In The Kitchen cannot really be on holiday.  My son has had an allergy for the past 2 months because I was not able to prepare his food diligently for 3 weeks.  I have been on a mission to clear his body of this powerful allergy.  We are drinking lots of raw green smoothies, eating raw salads and cooked veggie soups.

The Power of Cooked Veggie Soups

From a Mama’s point of view, there is no way I can compare the amount of cooked vegetables in soups my son will willingly eat versus raw ones without added oils or fruit sugars.  Cooked veggie soups win any day.  This is why I love making my son soups – but I make sure they are from foods that are as unprocessed as possible.  When my son doesn’t feel well, there is nothing more soothing to him than warm soup on a cold day (besides lots of freshly squeezed orange juice too).

Vegan Pottage with Whole Herbs

I vegan-ized a recipe from my son’s history book, which was taken from a 17th century English Housewife cookbook!

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour or more.

1/2 – 1 head of chopped cauliflower

1 chopped large sweet onion

1 1/2 c oat groats

2 big handfuls of chopped endive

2 big handfuls of chopped lettuce

2 big handful of chopped spinach

8 cups of water

Add apple cider vinegar (1 tbspn) and  sea salt (2 – 3 tsp), to taste.

I don’t know what’s more satisfying: a healthy history cooking project for homeschool or watching my son finish a wonderful amount of veggies for lunch.

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.

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.

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!

Raw Almond Butter and Banana Open Sandwiches

7 Apr

Raw Almond Butter Honey Spread and Banana over Raw Buckwheat Bread

Peanut Butter Sandwiches are still very popular with kids, despite peanut allergies for many.   I was craving a raw version, so here is a raw Almond Butter and Banana Sandwich that is just as delicious.  Almonds are one of the best tonic foods to increase immunity and rejuvenate the body after illness.

Assemble the open sandwich, start with:

raw flat buckwheat bread (recipe below)

top with the Almond Butter Spread, mix together equal amounts of:

raw almond butter

raw local honey

and top with:

slices of bananas

Enjoy!

Flat Buckwheat Bread

Buckwheat is gluten-free and contains all 8 essential amino acids.  It is light and yet makes a great alternative to wheat, oats, rye or barley.  Although this started as a granola recipe, I discovered it is better as a good basic sweet bread best with a topping.

Soak overnight:

1/2 cup flax seed with 1/2 cup water in one bowl

1 cup buckwheat with a lot of water, drain and rinse the next day

In a food processor, chop together:

1 cup almonds

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup dried fruit, your choice of dates, figs, raisins or other you have on hand

Add all ingredients above into the food processor with the addition of:

pinch sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tbspn cinnamon

1 tbspn raw local honey

additional water if needed

Pulse until well combined.  Spread batter onto 2 or 3 Teflex sheets around 1/2 inch thick on mesh screens and place in a dehydrator.  Dehydrate at 150F for the first 2 – 3 hours.  Take off Teflex sheets, turn the bread over onto mesh screens and continue to dehydrate for another few hours at 110F until bread is firm but still soft and very pliable.  Store in the refrigerator in airtight containers.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for ICE CREAM!

13 Jun

Use the Vanilla Ice Milk Recipe below as a base for other flavors such as chocolate and strawberries!


I know our whole family thinks I’m pretty alternative where food is concerned but I do think they understand my concerns and reasons.  But sometimes, it still is a little difficult without more support.  Just recently, after dinner, the extended family decided to go for ice cream.  The preschoolers were excited.  The crying and whining suddenly stopped when they heard ‘ice cream’ and they cheerily walked themselves to the ice cream parlor a block away.  

In the ice cream parlor, our Uncle chided me from across the shop: “You may make delicious vegetables, but they [the ice cream parlor] make better ice cream!  Nothing is more American than ice cream!”  I didn’t know how to respond.  I was thinking: WOW.  This is exactly why people have health problems.  We dare not give a child a pack of cigarettes to smoke – but we think that treating a child to an over-sized ice cream on a cone filled with toxins (high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial coloring, genetically modified ingredients, I could go on) is grand.  But what came sheepishly out of my mouth instead was: “Well, I guess I have to make an even better RAW ice cream.”


As the mother of my son, I knew my son could possibly have sensitivities to the ice cream.  As his mother, I knew I wouldn’t sleep well that night because my son would probably not be feeling well.  He would probably feel sick for a few days, if not more.  Do I want my son to have the ice cream everyone else in our party was having?  NO!  I did want to say NO.  But I didn’t.    Would our son want the ice cream?  Probably YES. Would he want it even if we told him he would probably feel sick for the next few days.  YES.  So, I let it be and our son eagerly ordered a vanilla ice cream on a cone and BOY! did he look like a poster boy for an ice cream commercial.  

Our son digging into his Ice Cream Parlor Vanilla Ice Cream
Before we left the shop, our Uncle said, “I know these kids are going to have a good night’s sleep!”  That night, our son woke up 4 times with a cold and runny nose.  The day after, his eyes were watery and he felt sick for most of the day.
“Mama,” he said, “we won’t have that ice cream again.  It makes me feel bad.”
“Yes it does.  I’ll make you some raw ice cream. OK?”
“It won’t make me feel bad?”
“No sweetheart.”
A week later he was still gunky.  

Despite the cold, cough and fever, it was a good thing to let our son make his own choice – because he has learned something.  Instead of us, the parents, dictating constantly, our son was allowed more control over his choices.  This freedom to choose comes with more responsibility for the consequences that result.  And with this comes more knowledge and understanding about his own future choices.


Needless to say, I was motivated to create some yummy and nutritious raw ice cream as soon as we returned home from holiday.  Our son is allergic to cashews and most raw ice creams are cashew based. I first experimented with frozen bananas.  Our son likes them, but the ‘ice cream’ just tasted like banana to me and my husband.  So, I moved on to an almond cream base, sans dates because dates do have a certain taste.  I really just wanted a  solid Vanilla Ice Cream.  This recipe is ultra simple for any Mama without much time on her hands and it tastes wonderful.  It is a hit at our house.  My husband really likes it  and he’s hard to please.  When our son tasted this raw vanilla ice cream for the first time, he said: “Mama! This tastes better than the ice cream from the shop!  Thank you for making it for me…  I love you!”  

I don’t have to tell you that I think I have the best job in the world!!!

Raw Vanilla Ice Milk

Vanilla Ice Milk
The consistency of this ice cream is somewhere between a sorbet and ice cream, which is why I call it Ice Milk. The flavor is light and subtle.


Puree all together in a high speed blender:
2 cups raw organic almonds, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1 vanilla bean, ground in a coffee grinder
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups raw organic agave syrup (this product is new to me, produced at temperatures lower than 118F)
Place in a nut bag and squeeze out all the liquid.  Mix with other flavors if desired (1 pint of strawberries or tablespoons of carob to taste, etc).  Pour it in an ice cream maker.  Chill and churn for about 1 hour.

Cooking Made Us Human?

25 Sep
I recently read a book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham. It was an interesting read in that Wrangham vehemently opposes the raw living food diet. I was disappointed with the book however. I thought it would veer me to ‘the other side’ and I would toss my raw food diet up in the air – instead I found it lacked some ‘oomph’. I am not a doctor – but here are my common sense thoughts:

1. He agrees that people need to eat whole, unprocessed foods. What are the best whole unprocessed foods? RAW organic food!!!

2. He agrees that cooking itself has evolved into an unhealthy passion for many human beings causing obesity and other greater health issues – not to mention I think children and pets are also suffering the same ills. Why? Because they are consuming foods that are genetically modified, foods that the body cannot recognize like high fructose corn syrup, foods that are so far removed from their natural state through… COOKING! So how can humans begin to get healthy again? Add more raw foods into their diet! Look at #1!

3. He does not take into account that the environment we live in has also evolved – so we too must evolve! There are so many toxins today – pollution, pesticides in our food, allergies in children have risen, countless vaccinations are bodies have to adjust to, so many people are suffering from degenerative diseases such as cancer… How to we help are body detoxify? Raw living food! Look at #1!

4. If cooking includes pasteurization and canning – then we must all look into the Pottinger Cat Experiment. By the 4th generation, cats who consumed pasteurized and canned milk had difficulty reproducing and had many health issues (versus cats who ate raw meat or drank raw milk). Aren’t we now the 4th generation of human beings that have had the pleasure of cooking and consuming pasteurized food? And aren’t a lot of young human beings having fertility issues today – which in Ayurveda is a sign of an unhealthy person? How do we reverse this trend? Go back to #1!

I am not against cooking – I cook for my family. His scientific research is interesting – but it does not convince me that we are ‘humans’ because we cook, that we are better animals for eating cooked food. What I find upsetting about the book is that it criticises the raw food movement without giving it decent credit. It does not discuss the possibility of adding more raw into one’s diet. Sure there are people who are 100% raw – but there are also others who are 80% raw or 50% raw who are very healthy human beings. The book also does not discuss studies of people who have cured themselves of illness through the raw diet. The raw food diet can do a lot of good for people who are suffering from degenerative diseases, for people who need to detoxify, for people who suffer from multiple allergies, for people who want to boost their immune system… and the list can go on. Of course, these would not support Wrangham’s hypothesis – but perhaps it would have given us a better understanding of the way we eat. If cooking helped evolve us into ‘humans’ – then eating RAW (or adding more raw into our diets) will help us get our health back. And we need our health for without it, we would not be.