Archive | creating healthy children RSS feed for this section

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.

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!

Washington D.C. VegFest

22 Sep

According to VegNews, Washington, DC has the biggest Veggie eating population at 8.3 percent, the biggest percentage of any city in the United States. And this Saturday, the nation’s capital will be offering a FREE outdoor festival with the very best of everything VEGGIE in D.C.!

When: this Saturday, 24th September 2011, 11am to 6pm

Where: George Washington University at the Univ. Yard, 2000 blk of H St., NW, DC

Price: FREE

Organized by: Compassion Over Killing and the Vegetarian Society of D.C.

Scheduled Talks include: The Latest in Clinical Nutrition, The Meat Crisis and Gas Prices and The Meat of the Matter: how our diet impacts the planet (details here)

Exhibitors: food and commercial vendors, as well as non-profit organizations (details here)

For more information: http://dcvegfest.com/

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.

A 4 Year Old Omnivore Loves Raw Vegan Foods

17 Aug

Lia requested Raw Pink Smoothie for her Fourth Birthday

My 4 year old niece Lia is allowed to eat everything (except dairy to which she is allergic), but what does she request for her birthday party?  RAW VEGAN FOOD!

Really? I was stunned because my own son requests baked cupcakes!

Lia is the same little girl who, when her preschool teacher rewarded her with candy, told her Mama they tasted ‘yucky’ and asked if her teacher could reward her with Raw Green Smoothies instead.  She also chows down Raw Kale Salad like a veteran Raw Foodie!

Yummy Kale Salad for Dinner!

Chomping away!

I don’t know what or how my Omnivore cousin teaches her daughter about nutrition, but Lia really loves Raw Vegan Foods.  So, I interviewed her amazing Mama for some tips.

An Omnivore Family

What does your family typically eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner? What does Lia typically eat?

Breakfast is Raw Green Smoothie and cooked eggs.  Lunch is apples, hummus and raw carrots/cauliflower, crackers (the organic version of triscuits) and peanut butter and jelly. She takes this lunch to school in her lunch box, but usually only eats the apples and crackers.  Dinner is usually another Raw Green Smoothie, spinach noodles with a little tomato sauce, Salad (sometimes with greens, sometimes just tomatoes), hummus with raw veggies, sometimes edamame, and some kind of Fruit. Noodles are her favorite but the other night we made a stir fry of beef, mushrooms and broccoli and brown rice. I also try to give her some kind of seafood once a week (she loves shrimp and salmon). We eat mostly Vegetarian, but we may eat meat 2 to 3 times per week.

An Omnivore Family Highlights Raw Vegan Food

Your family eats everything, yet your 4 year old daughter requested her birthday party foods be RAW.  How does that happen?

I think it has a lot to do with the running dialogue Lia and I have on what kinds of food we eat and how Raw Foods are so good for us. Lia loves the flavor and texture of many Raw Veggies and Greens much more so than cooked ones.

It also doesn’t hurt that she knows whenever she eats Raw, her Aunt Carissa and family are so proud!  She also loves the Raw Foods that Carissa makes for her and so requested a special Raw Green Smoothie for her birthday party.

An Omnivore Little Girl Loves Raw

What are Lia’s favorite Raw Vegan Foods?

She loves Raw Green Smoothies, Carrots (with homemade hummus) and her new fave is Raw Cauliflower (she saw it in the grocery store the other day and just had to have it!).

How much Raw does she eat?

We certainly do not eat as much Raw as I would like, but right now I think she’s at about 10-15% Raw. At lunch and dinner she asks for Raw – more so than at breakfast.

Encouraging Raw Vegan Foods @ Home

Do you/does Lia make ‘Raw Foods’ part of her play?

Yes absolutely, when Lia is playing kitchen with me, her Dad or her imaginary friends she always makes them a Raw Smoothie and she usually tells her Dad “you can only have Raw Foods!” Since he is the least likely member in our family to eat Raw or drink a Smoothie, I think she is trying to help him be healthier.

What other things do you do that encourages her to eat more Raw Foods?

1. We talk a lot about what kinds of food we eat and why they may be healthy (or not as healthy as others).

2. Lia always comes to the grocery store with me and helps me pick out our fruits and veggies.

3. Of course having family that is so close to us be Raw, Lia just naturally gravitates to what they eat and loves showing off to them when she does eat Raw Greens.  It has really been seeing the example of your family eating Raw that moved us to include Raw in our diet. I am so much more aware of what we are putting into our bodies now and even if it isn’t Raw, I have worked hard to cut out processed food and eat as much local and organic as possible. Lia has a natural curiosity when it comes to foods, so we just explore together, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t (I have heard many times “I like Carissa’s -enter food name here- better than yours Mommy”) but at least we try! She does not feel deprived or upset when kids around her are eating corn dogs etc. She says “That’s yuck” and we find her something else to eat. But I really have to attribute her attitude towards eating healthy (whether its totally Raw or not) to the example that your family has set for her.  Seeing the people you love most living a healthy lifestyle makes it so much easier to do it yourself!

Thank you Cris for taking time for the interview! 

WOW.  I didn’t know our family impacted my cousin’s family’s nutrition so strongly!  

It’s amazing what constant dialogue, exposure to what is healthy and leading by example and support can do for the young ones!  Little Lia is an example! Adding Raw Vegan Foods to our children’s diet is possible.  It’s not just for the Vegans or Vegetarians.  Lia shows how Omnivore Families can join in the Raw Vegan Health Craze too!

Mama’s Emotional Health Affects The Whole Family

12 Aug

“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

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???

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.

Very Cherry Smoothie

9 Jul

Very Cherry Smoothie

A lot of parents always ask: “What is the easiest and quickest way to get my kids to eat vegetables?”

As many will exclaim, I do too: “GREEN SMOOTHIES!”

The Winnie-The-Pooh Bear Smoothie was our gold standard, but then I discovered I could add 50% more greens in what I like to call our  “More Greens Please” Strawberry Smoothie.  And it works even better with fresh summer cherries!

Cherries seem to be the ‘in’ fruit these days. They are a wonderful fruit for cleansing the blood, detoxifying acids in the body and strengthening our heart and plasma.  Just 1 cup of cherries contains 2% Vitamin A, 2 % calcium, 3% iron, 12% dietary fiber and 16% vitamin C. They also contain beta carotene, potassium, magnesium and melatonin.  Dr. Oz has been promoting the amazing antioxidant filled tart cherry juice that helps ease arthritis and gout and reduces the risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.  Whole Foods Market is now promoting their Summer Cherry Fest with a Kid-Friendly Cherry Recipe Contest.  So I thought I’d send in my Raw Recipe that really gets kids to drink a bunch of greens too!

But, first thing’s first: here is the quickest and simplest way to pit cherries… with a paperclip!

Yummy for the Tummy ingredients!

Puree in a high speed blender:

2 pitted dates

3 bananas (I sometimes freeze my bananas for a cooler drink in the Summer)

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

16 oz of pitted cherries

6 cups kale, stemmed

Enjoy!

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!

Q and A with Vegan Mama, Chef, Restauranteur and Author of Vegan Family Meals: Ann Gentry

6 Jul

As part of Ann Gentry‘s Blog Tour for her new book Vegan Family Meals, we have featured her delicious recipes (Garlic-Sesame Kale Chips and her My Niçoise Salad) with a raw twist here on Mama in the Kitchen.  In her professional life, she has been in the forefront of the Vegan and Green Food Movements: Ms. Gentry owns two Vegan restaurants, Real Food Daily in Santa Monica and Hollywood serving 100% Vegan foods, she hosts a cooking show, Naturally Delicious, she is the author of The Real Food Daily Cookbook and the executive chef to Vegetarian Times magazine. But what I really wanted to get to know was Ann Gentry, the Mama in her own Kitchen… so here is my interview with her, which I want to share with you.

Q&A with Ann Gentry

Carissa: As a Raw Vegan Mama today, I am only too aware of our culture that encourages an unhealthy lifestyle and the Standard American Diet.  How have you been able to bring your children up in a counter culture, being a Vegan chef, restauranteur, author and mother?  How have you created a family culture that allowed your children and husband to embrace the Vegan diet and lifestyle?

Ann: At my house, my kids are vegan.  At birthday parties, or other social occasions at their friend’s houses, they eat vegetarian.  We allow them to eat these “non-vegan” foods from time to time, NOT to supplement their vegan diet as there are no supplements to an already ideal diet, but rather allow them joy, comfort and participation in their childhood social settings. My kids get plenty of protein from beans, legumes, nuts and seeds and soy foods. I love it that they prefer non-dairy Cheeses to cow’s cheese any day.

Carissa: Have your children chosen to be Vegan themselves? 

Ann: I tell them they are in this family for a reason and eating a plant-based diet is one of them! My 12-year-old daughter early on understood the implications of an animal based diet and was perplexed as to how people could live in this world, eating animals while having others as pets.

Carissa: What are (or have been) your family’s top favourite Vegan meals?

Ann: Nachos – corn chip with black beans and my cashew cheese.  Recipe in Vegan Family Meals on page 57.  Tacos and enchiladas made with beans. Mac ‘n’ Cheez – I worked so hard to perfect this recipe for Vegan Family Meals.  The joke around my house is everyone is burnt out eating it.  Recipe on page 152 called Baked penne and cauliflower w/ Cheesy Sauce.   Right now, both kids are eating the Acai Bowl with My Super Hippie Granola everyday.  The granola is also a dish that both kids love to help make.  See first recipes in the book.

Carissa: At your restaurants, what are the favorite dishes that non-Vegan patrons order?

Ann: Most people eating at Real Food Daily are not vegans or vegetarians, instead they are health minded eaters who are looking for clean delicious tasting food served to them in a clean and stylish ambiance with friendly educated service. Everyone has the same favorites, to name a few: the daily specials and soups, all the hot entrees are popular, The Club Sandwich, our burger w/ the Works.

Carissa: I am all for ‘un-processing‘ my family’s food and making everything from scratch, so many Vegan ready-made products are not something I would readily buy.  My boys still crave their meat and don’t like beans at all, what dishes would you recommend a Vegan Mama prepare to help her family transition to a more Vegan diet?

Ann: In the world of plant proteins besides beans, there are the soy products such as seitan also called wheat-meat, tempeh and tofu.  These foods can be made into tasty dishes using condiments that bring texture and flavor to them.  I too stay away from the overly processed faux meats.  I find my kids will eat soy-based dishes such as Frittata on page 17.  The texture is creamy and pleasurable.  Also, nuts and seeds are great sources for protein.

One simple thing that has worked for me is always having one consistent dish on the table.  This is one way I’ve introduced new foods or dishes.  Right now, I always place a bowl of steamed brown rice on the table. This is the fall back to peaky eaters. If they don’t like what I’ve prepared, then they can eat the rice.  This is not a punishment, I just tell my kids our home is not a restaurant, if they don’t like the foods I prepared then their other choice is the rice.   So, you might try new foods you want to introduce using this method.  It has worked for me as my kids love brown rice.  In fact, it is now time to change the consistent dish on my dinner table to something new.

Carissa: I am a Raw Vegan Mama and wonder do you have any favourite Raw Vegan Foods?

Ann: I appreciate living foods and on occasion really enjoy them as a meal. My all time favorite is Lydia’s Luna Nori Crackers.  Not only are they raw and vegan but they are gluten free too.  I love these, so satisfying, great with any spread or dip.

Carissa: Thank you Ms. Gentry!  I very much appreciate your time and your generosity in sharing your wonderful Vegan tips with all of us!

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!

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!

I Like Vegetables Video for your Kids!

9 Jun

Always on a lookout for more marketing strategies on getting kids to eat healthier, I was thrilled when a friend sent this to me.  I can add this to my #7  tip out of my top 10 tips to get my son to eat more fruits and veggies.

A… a… a.. I LIKE MY VEGETABLES!

Thank you Kathy!

Raw Syrup for Chest Colds

6 Jun

A Spoonful of Honey Makes The Medicine Go Down!

At 3 am the other night, I quickly whipped this up for my son who was coughing up a storm.  After a taste, he exclaimed half-asleep: “This is better than our other cough medicine!”  Spicy, sour, sweet and RAW, this is a kid- AND adult-friendly syrup “for coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, mucus and lung congestion due to coldness.”  Needless to say, my son was able to sleep and so did the rest of the house!

Enchanted Garlic Syrup

Reprinted here with the kind permission of Lesley Tierra from her book, A Kid’s Herb Book.

Puree together in a blender:

dash of cayenne pepper (this is a must if you like feeling the medicine go down)

1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped

5 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (at 3am, I used raw apple cider vinegar)

1/2 cup raw local honey

1/2 cup water

Take 1 tsp every 2 hours.  The syrup will keep for 1 week if refrigerated.

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!

Half Raw and Half Cooked: Curried Apple and Quinoa Salad

3 Jun

Curried Apple and Quinoa Salad

Sometimes it’s easier to incorporate more RAW food into my family’s diet by mixing it with COOKED food. For families still in transition, adding RAW foods to COOKED not only increases the quantity of unprocessed foods into the family’s diet, but also simplifies the process of serving up unpretentious raw foods.

Here is a Curried Apple and Quinoa Salad recipe.  Instead of using processed mayonnaise, I use nutritious coconut to create the creamy sauce and to enhance the flavor of curry.  I did serve up a pure raw version (using sprouted raw quinoa) and this half-cooked version for lunch today.  Well, I guess you can guess which one my family preferred and ate.

The Cooked Half

Heat with a medium flame:

2 tbspns coconut oil

Lightly saute for 5 minutes or until tender:

1 sweet onion, chopped

Add and saute for a minute or 2:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp mild curry (more or less, depending on your family’s taste)

Add to the pot:

1 tsp sea salt, or to taste

2 cups quinoa

3 cups of water

Bring to a boil and lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Fluff and set aside.

 

The Raw Half

Prepare:

raisins

apples, diced

Coconut Curry Sauce

 

Half and Half

Per serving, mix together in a bowl:

sea salt, to taste

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup apple, diced

1 cup of cooked quinoa (as above)

enough Coconut Curry Sauce

Enjoy!

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food

26 May

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

Mama Won’t Mind If You Have Another Of That Chocolate Cake

30 Apr

Mama Won't Mind If You Have Another Of That Chocolate Cake

The Cake

Besides the coconut oil in the icing, this is a nut-free raw cake! Mainly oats and dates, this batter is versatile. You can make it into a brownie, cookie, cake, crumbs for fruit desserts, etc.

The day before you make the cake, prepare the oat flour: 1. Soak oat groats overnight. 2. Drain and rinse. 3. Dehydrate until thoroughly dry by placing on 2 mesh screens on trays so the groats don’t easily fall out. I place the dehydrator on full for 1 hour then decrease the temperature to 105F. This takes about half a day. 4. Process 2 cups of dehydrated oat groats in a high speed blender, such as aVitamix, to make flour. EASY ALTERNATIVE: grind rolled oat flakes into flour.

Batter: Place in a food processor and mix together:

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup raw cacao powder (you can substitute with raw carob powder)

1 1/2 cups dates, pitted

Add in and process together:

2 cups oat groats, processed into oat flour as above (ALTERNATIVE: you can use rolled oat flakes and grind into a powder)

Add slowly to the powdery mixture until you have a batter that sticks together:

6 tbspns raw local honey (you may need less)

use silicone molds for easy removal

Grease molds with extra virgin coconut oil (or olive oil). Place batter in molds to create small mini-cupcakes or layers of cake. Remove and set aside.

Mama Won't Mind If You Have Another Of Those Chocolate Cupcakes


Chocolate Icing

How healthy can this chocolate icing be??? Avocado (vitamin E!) and coconut oil (the benefits are amazing)? WOW. And this icing can be used to top anything! Fruits, cupcakes, cookie, as a dip, top raw ice cream (banana ice cream or almond ice cream)… yum!

In a food processor, mix together:

1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or raw carob powder)

1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil

1/2 cup raw local honey

1 medium avocado

Pipe on top of cupcakes or place in between layers of cake, then pipe top of cake.

Note: Depending on your dates and honey, your cake may be just right or a little on the sweet side. If it is a little too sweet, you can use fruit (mashed up banana as ‘cream’, strawberry slices, raspberry, or other seasonal fruits) as the filling in between layers to break up the sweetness. Enjoy!

Another Mother Acting Up In The Kitchen

25 Apr

So, I love being another mother acting up in the kitchen.

Here I am on the Mothers Acting Up Website.

Check it out!

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

A Raw Vegan Lunchbox

14 Apr

Raw Vegan Lunchbox

I was shocked to learn from Toni of GoFamouslyGreen.com that a Chicago Public School has now banned homemade lunches, and other Chicago Schools have done the same thing.

The first thoughts came into my mind were: How about vegans? vegetarians? whole foods? organic foods? local foods? BPA free containers?  How about a variety of RAW fruits and vegetables?

My friend Christina doesn’t trust the mandated health guidelines for nutritional meals in school because the breakfast cereal her child’s school offers within federal guidelines provide a whopping 25 grams of sugar.  “A KING SIZE SNICKER BAR HAS LESS SUGAR THAN THE FOOD THE SCHOOL PROVIDED TO MY CHILD AND HER CLASSMATE FOR BREAKFAST!”

Yikes! I’m sure the 25 grams of sugar was as refined as sugar could be too.

Toni took the words right out of my mouth when she said: “It’s sad that the things you and your family believe in have to be compromised by the very system in place to provide support.”

Well, I’m glad we don’t have that problem yet. Spring is here and we are enjoying lots of picnics outdoors.

So, what’s in a raw vegan lunchbox?

First of all, we love our lunchboxes made of stainless steel or BPA free materials and a thermos with a straw is especially handy to have for kids who are squirmy about green drinks.

Secondly, preparing a raw vegan lunch is so easy: no cooking required!  Most of the time, I am packing dinner leftovers for lunch – if I didn’t do it the night before already.  How easy can it get!

Each day is different, but here’s a sample of what my son enjoyed the other day (pictured above):

Tastes Just Like Honey “Pooh Bear” Smoothie – we just substitute in-season fruits, like mangoes, for the pear

Fruit: Apple, Banana, Berries

A Big Kale Salad

Raw Oatmeal Cookies

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?

What Happens When Raw Foodies Go To A Cooked Potluck?

26 Mar

Sometimes people FREAK OUT about what is on our plates.  A young cousin recently pointed to my son’s greens and said: “Yuck!  I don’t what to sit next to THAT!”

But most of the time, our family and friends are truly receptive and I’d like to say MAGIC HAPPENS. Many friends and family are now drinking green smoothies and even taking flax seed crackers and raw dip to work.  One of my favorite cousins, Cris, and her daughter love green smoothies and are eating our fave Kale Salad regularly!  My mother is partially raw too!

My dear friend Sherri, our host for today’s lunch, asked us to bring something raw because her husband wanted to taste it.  I love small potluck get-togethers! Not only does that mean that our host feels very comfortable with us, but also that they are open to us bringing some raw foods. My favorite raw items to bring to family potlucks are green smoothies, appetizers with crackers and avocado, something non-raw foodist can relate to like Zucchini Alfredo and practically any dessert. And wherever I am, I tend to bring along the topic of food, health and nutrition too!

Always a hit: Zucchini Alfredo (zucchini noodles with macadami nut 'alfredo' sauce)

 

Today, I wanted to experiment on a Banana Cream Pie.  I didn’t actually try it properly until we got to Sherri’s house, and when I did, I was aghast because it wasn’t as good as I would have liked it to be.  I feel  that if I’m going to introduce someone to Raw Food, it better be a FANTASTIC first introduction! This was, in my opinion, a flop!

 

Banana Cream Pie

 

So I was surprised when we returned home, I found an e-mail from Sherri:

When my daughter got hungry tonight, she asked if there was any more of your banana pie that she could have after dinner was over.  I explained that you took the leftovers home but that you felt you could improve on the pie.  She told me she “loved it!”

Music to my ears! Sherri’s little one LOVED the RAW BANANA CREAM PIE!!!  ONCE AGAIN MAGIC!

(FYI, I’m still reworking it though!  And will post the recipe as soon as I have it.)