Archive | cooking RSS feed for this section

Review: Thug Kitchen Eat Like You Give a F*ck The Official Cookbook

5 Aug

“I give this book FIVE STARS!” exclaims my fourth grader.

Just GREAT.


The conservative parent in me wanted to take this THUG KITCHEN: eat like you give a f*ck The Official Cookbook full of curse words away from my son, but the Vegan in me was proud that this was the first ever cookbook he just wanted to read from cover to cover on his own volition. I am not sure if I felt like it was a bad (I shouldn’t have left that book lying around) or proud (vegan ed!) parent moment. Probably both.

As I walked by once or twice, ok maybe five times, my son would point out the paraphernalia in the photos and exclaim, “Mama! I want to shop there! I want that bag!” Or we would laugh as he read a passage or two. At some point, I just joined him as he showed me his favourite parts of the book.

The THUG KITCHEN Cookbook is indeed f*cking hilarious. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest getting your hands on one just for entertainment purposes. Or check out their website for Vegan inspiration.

How about their recipes? I love reading them. They are funny. I also love how the given ingredients are flexible with a lot of notes too on how to substitute if you are out of them.


I’ve tried one so far and it was a hit at our house: Roasted Chickpea and Broccoli Burritos. Easy and satisfyingly delicious. 


The Burrito recipe simply required roasting this beautiful mix of onions, garlic, red peppers, broccoli, and chickpeas with spices, then wrapping them in tortillas with your choice of additions. We added avocado, salsa and rice. My husband finished off three big ones, my son finished off one, and I enjoyed every single bite of mine plus licked the leftovers off my fingers.

My son asked me, “So Mama, can we try one of their desserts next?”

Absolutely! 

Advertisements

The Beans That Blew My Cares Away

27 Mar

My family’s consumption of raw vegan foods has decreased tremendously. We had raw fruit pudding for breakfast today though and the boys licked the Vitamix clean. Hubby enjoyed his raw Chia Lime drink too. I also made an Asian salad, which unfortunately is still sitting in the fridge deteriorating as I write. My family started consuming soy products too, including non-organic processed fake meat once a week. Woo-hoo Bill Gates for supporting fake meat!  For you ‘unprocessed’ die-hards out there, it sounds bad. I know! I’m one of you and just writing it makes me cringe.

Yes, I feel like a Raw Vegan Mama failure sometimes, especially after reading an article that more and more families in England are now going raw and seem successful at it… and even Gwyneth Paltrow‘s kids are dairy, sugar, gluten and soy free (she has a second cookbook to prove it)!  Ok, where can I buy kids like Apple and Moses who don’t complain about being hungry without their fave foods?

In an effort to discover healthier and bulkier cooked vegan foods, I found this Bean Confit recipe on-line the other day and adapted it for my slow-cooker. (Look, if it ain’t raw, I gotta have someone else in charge of cookin’ it if it takes hours.  Is there a devoted Homeschool Mama out there with enough time to spend hours in the kitchen cookin’? Besides The Pioneer Woman…)

IMG_1712001

Anyway, the cranberry beans mixed with the rosemary, oregano and garlic made my house smell damn good.  I ate a few bowls of the bean confit for dinner and the crazy amount of extra virgin olive oil gave it a richness and creaminess that comforted me. I dreamed about these barlotti beans that night and the next day while I drove my son to his violin lesson. I think I’ll make another batch tomorrow, with lots of raw veggies for me on the side. It’s  that satisfying especially on a cold Spring day.

Recipe:

27 oz dried cranberry beans (barlotti, as they are known in Italian)

Soak overnight with enough water to cover it by a few inches. Drain and rinse the next day. Place in a slow cooker, add fresh water to cover well and cook on high for 5-6 hours till slightly tender. Drain some of the water, so that the beans peak out of the water. Add the beans back into the slow cooker, top with:

a few sprigs of rosemary

a few sprigs of oregano

a few cloves of garlic

a couple teaspoons of sea salt, try 4 teaspoons (I had no problem adding the salt at this stage)

enough extra virgin olive oil to just cover all the beans.

Cook on low for 2-3 hours. Season to taste. Serve!

The bean confit brought me back down to earth from my Raw Vegan high horse. I got rid of all my hot air and what a relief. I can finally say it is OK to let go of the Raw Vegan Mama Power I had held on to for so long and let my family eat what they want to eat. I now understand that their happiness is truly more important to their well-being than having to eat ‘the right foods’ everyday at every meal.

I also learned:

  1. No more scare tactics. “That’s not healthy for you! Do you know what junk food will do to you? That’s disgusting!”
  2. Satisfy their cravings so they don’t feel so deprived. My son has been asking me for months what Jell-O tastes like. I finally made him some homemade ‘Jell-O’ today from fresh coconut milk and agar-agar. He loved it. He keeps giving me hugs for the foods I’m letting him eat.
  3. I’m a softy. I need to feel… ummm… loved and not resented at the dinner table. “That was yummy! You’re the best Mama in the Kitchen!” instead of “What? Eeewww! This again! This is horrible! Do I have to eat that? Your food isn’t as good as (name of fave restaurant here). I want to eat out…”

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.

Do We Have To Love What We Eat?

12 Jul
My son actually enjoying this salad!

In Ayurveda, they say that your mental state affects how your body digests food.  So, if a child doesn’t like veggies, forcing them to eat it will cause them to improperly break down their food and therefore cause toxins in the body.

But, my son has gladly eaten 2 big bags of Valentine’s candy and was ill for a month.  My son has also fought many times against our ‘veggies first’ rule, begrudgingly ate his very green salad and has become much healthier for it. Looking at the bigger picture, the chemicals contained in junk or fast foods cause consumers to have a high, cause them to crave these same foods and within weeks can wreak havoc on their healthy systems.  Cancer patients, though willing but who may not love the drastic change in diet, have cured themselves off cancer on Raw Vegan Foods.

Do we really have to love the food we eat? Compared to the quality of the food we eat, it can’t be as important, can it?

Should We Have Fun Now and Pay For It Later?

Some people may call me fanatical and extreme for being a Raw Vegan Mama.  For the past 2 1/2 years, I have been transitioning my hubby and son’s diet from a Cooked Meat-based one to a largely Plant-based diet that is high in Raw Vegan foods.  We hardly eat out.  I make most of our meals from scratch and have all the appliances I need to make it easy for me.  When my family does eat out, I secretly cringe when my hubby and son order Sweet Tea (corn syrup! yikes!), Shrimp Tempura (mercury! hydrogenated oil!), a Hamburger (not-organic meat! hormones! dioxins! cow poop!) or celebrate a friend’s birthday with a store-bought cupcake (GMOs, preservatives, artificial dyes, I give up!).

But here’s the thing: when my husband and I married, we vowed to work at being PHYSICALLY HEALTHY so that we could live a long life together.  I take this vow very seriously and now that we have a family,  I dream of a healthy and disease-free family too.  I honestly can’t sleep at night knowing I served my family foods that could potentially harm their future health.

Why Do I Believe In A Plant-Based Diet?

There are so many reasons (look under Research)!  Here are more reasons why:

  • Did you know that we can decrease our chances of cancer by 40%, heart disease by 50% and diabetes by 60% through a whole foods Vegetarian Diet? (from Kathy Freston’s Veganist)
  • A plant-based diet also reduces BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure and hypertension.
  • Did you know that Diabetes is on an upswing worldwide?  1/3 of the kids born after 2000 will get type 2 diabetes and it has been proven that it is preventable through diet and lifestyle.  Dr. Barnard has shown that beef and cheese are bigger insulin spikers than pasta and fish more than popcorn!  The Vegetarian Diet helps prevent diabetes!

My Solution

As a Mama in my kitchen, I have the power to influence what my family eats.  I am lucky that I am able to spend a big part of my day in the kitchen to create healthy, as un-processed as possible, tasty Plant-Based meals for my family.   Admittedly, I work hard at it because I want my family to enjoy and crave healthy food.

So, do we really have to love the food we eat?

Yes.  I want my family to love what I serve.  Isn’t it the only way to get them to come back for seconds?  And not only today, but tomorrow and the day after.

Why Is The Sugar Always Sweeter On The Other Side?

5 Jul

MAMA: "Yes, that's seaweed! And it is green!"

The Problem

I hardly hear of other health conscious Mamas discuss how their children behave in community settings that serve Standard American Diet (SAD) Foods.  Many claim their children only want the perfectly healthy foods they are used to and avoid any junk altogether.  Let me tell you – this simply cannot be true!

It’s human isn’t it: to want what you don’t have?  The grass is always greener on the other side. And for kids, at least mine, the sugar is always sweeter on the other side!

And this is something I struggle with.  Can I sleep at night knowing I have served my son foods with dioxins, GMO products, allergens and other toxins that negatively affect his future health?

What Happens

At our neighbor’s Fourth of July Celebration, my son made a B line for the store-bought lemonade and the processed cupcakes.  Forget about lunch, he just wanted the sweets!  After a full glass of high fructose corn syrup sweet lemonade, he kept asking for more.  And before lunch was even served, he kept eyeing the cupcakes and asked at least 5 times when he could have his cupcake (can I have it now?  can I have it now? now? now? NOW?).

My Realization

In my quest for my family’s health, the last thing I want to do is to create an environment in my home that pushes my son to choose unhealthy foods or lead him to gravitate towards an unhealthy lifestyle. Yet, as I watched my son demand for MORE and MORE, one word kept popping into my mind: DEPRIVED. In promoting fruits, greens, unrefined and un-processed foods at home, I have 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. 

It’s sad, isn’t it? And it makes me angry because it is so difficult and challenging for a Mama to educate the family about health and nutrition, when we are all living in a culture that supports disease.

The Solution

Yesterday, we sat down as a family to go over 1 month’s worth of menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, sweets and other miscellaneous fave foods – and we agreed on every item on each menu.  We agreed on the Raw Vegan Foods, the Cooked Vegetarian Foods and the handful Cooked Animal Products.  We also agreed that I will make the healthiest and freshest Vegan versions of some of the verboten Standard American Diet (SAD) foods my son so craves so that he doesn’t feel so deprived. 

In discussing these menus with them, I have made my husband and son more a part of the process of being a Mama in the Kitchen and I have allowed them to have more responsibility for their own nutrition.

I hope it works!

Vegan Family Meals Blog Tour: Kale Chips

23 Jun

Mama in the Kitchen is proud to be part of Ann Gentry‘s Blog Tour for her new book Vegan Family Meals.  Ann Gentry is the creator of Real Food Daily, organic gourmet Vegan restaurants in Santa Monica and West Hollywood that serve 100 percent Vegan foods grown exclusively with organic farming methods.  She has successfully promoted and raised the standard of Vegan Cuisine through her work as chef, author and mother.  This week, the Vegan Family Meals Blog Tour is on Kale Chips.  Although Ann Gentry’s Kale Chips are baked, her recipe can easily be adapted to a delicious raw dehydrated family snack.

Ann Gentry's Kale Chips

Anne Gentry’s Kale Chips

Serves 2 to 4

1 (8-ounce) bunch large curly kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
¹⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line 2 large, heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

Spin the kale pieces in a salad spinner, or pat them with paper towels, until they’re dry. It is important that the leaves are very dry, as oil doesn’t mix with water.

Cut away the center spine from each kale leaf and discard the spine. When removing the spine, go ahead and cut through to the top of the leaf so you have 2 pieces. Keep the leaves as halves, or cut each piece in half again. (I cut or tear these pieces so I get 4 pieces from each leaf, or I just leave them as whole as possible, since the kale shrinks to less than half its size while baking.)

Place the kale, oil, and salt in a large bowl and, using your hands, rub the oil to coat the kale pieces thoroughly. (Be prepared to get your hands oily and salty.)

Arrange the kale pieces in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets and then bake until they are crisp, about 25 minutes. Check the kale every 10 minutes or so and turn some pieces over if they look too toasty. The kale chips will stay crisp and fresh for up to 1 week, stored in a sealed container or bag.

Variations: Wash, cut, coat, and bake the kale according to the directions above. Instead of seasoning the kale with just olive oil and salt, try any of these variations. Because some of these variations include maple syrup, which makes the kale brown faster, cooking times will range from 15 to 25 minutes, so check the kale often to determine doneness.

Vinegar and Sea Salt: Combine 1 tablespoon vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, or brown rice), 1 tablespoon olive oil or a neutral cooking oil, and ¹⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt.

Maple-Coconut: Combine 2 tablespoons finely shredded unsweetened dried coconut, 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or a neutral cooking oil, and ¹⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt.

Garlic-Sesame: Combine 2 tablespoons sesame seeds or hemp seeds, 1 tablespoon olive oil or a neutral cooking oil, 1 tablespoon tamari, and 1 clove garlic, minced.

Hot and Spicy: Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil or a neutral cooking oil, 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, ¹⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¹⁄8 teaspoon chili powder, and ¹⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt.

Kale Dust for Popcorn: Crush the baked kale chips with your fingers or with a mortar and pestle into a fine powder. Sprinkle the crushed kale over popcorn. It’s colorful and nutritious; my kids love this one.

Garlic-Sesame Kale Chips

Raw Kale Chips Version

Follow the recipe above and dehydrate instead of bake, but read my notes first. I use Lacinato Kale here instead of Curly Kale.  I tried the Vinegar and Sea Salt and the Garlic-Sesame recipes today.  We wished the Vinegar and Sea Salt was stronger in flavor, but we were happy with the Garlic-Sesame Kale Chips.

Notes:

1. For an easier and quicker method to remove the spine of kale leaves, I don’t use a knife – I just use my fingers.  I hold the end of the spine and slowly tear the leaves off as I move my fingers up the spine.

I use my fingers to separate leaves from spine

Easy does it! No need for knives!

2. I soak my Kale leaves in water and vinegar, then rinse in water to clean them and dry them in my salad spinner.  Click here for my Top 5 Ways To Clean Produce.

3. I prefer to keep my kale leaves whole.  I figure I can simply cut them into smaller pieces after they are dehydrated, if needed.

Massage Dressing into Kale

4. I massage my leaves by hand in my preferred dressing.

5. I place my dressed leaves on my dehydrator mesh screens – haphazardly.  I don’t even bother to lay them in one layer properly… it would take too much time.  Plus, they dehydrate well without the added effort.

6. Some people prefer to dehydrate their kale chips at 105F until dry.  I set my dehydrator at the maximum heat of 150F for 1 hour (the kale will not have an internal temperature of 150F, the internal temperature will be below 105F and this step quickens the dehydration proces), then decrease it to 105F thereafter.  My chips were ready in 4 hours.

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!

Asparagus with Balsamic Vinaigrette

6 Apr

Asparagus

 

One of the best things about spring… ASPARAGUS!  Asparagus is full of antioxidants and an excellent source of vitamin K, folate, vitamin C and A.  It also has significant amounts of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, phosphorus, potassium, fiber, manganese, copper and protein.

We love asparagus at our house. Recently, after not having asparagus for a while, I served some for dinner.  We have a rule that everyone has to have greens at each meal, which isn’t so popular with my son all the time.  But after a few bites of Asparagus with Balasamic Vinaigrette, he exclaimed: “Mama, I didn’t know asparagus was so yummy!  I love this!” He ate a whole bowlful.

But like artichokes, my family and I (yes, even a die-hard raw foodie like myself) prefer the taste of artichokes and asparagus when slightly cooked.

Here is a very simple way to serve steamed asparagus:

Lightly steam for 5 – 10 minutes:

2 pounds asparagus, bottom inch or so trimmed where tough and stringy, cut into 1 inch pieces or keep whole

Dress with balsamic vinaigrette:

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tsp sea salt, or to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbpns balsamic vinegar

4 tbspns extra virgin olive oil

Serve warm or cold the next day.  Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, if desired.

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.