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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


Who Is Karen Ranzi?

14 Feb

Me, Karen and Professor Debbie Billings of USC

My family and I were fortunate to be able to spend a whole day recently with Karen Ranzi author of Creating Healthy Children Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods.  Her book is full of researched evidence for topics that include breastfeeding, natural birth, circumcision, vaccinations, non-violent communication, raw foods for pregnancy, lactating mothers, children and the family, non-toxic households and other important issues that any parent (raw or otherwise) would love to read about.  In the time we shared with Karen, we discovered an easy going, funny, kind and a loving person.  There are three things about Karen that really impressed me however:

1. SHE SUPPORTS THE MARRIAGE: Karen Ranzi says “Prior to conception, the mother and the father need to be on the same page on how they want to bring up their children.  If there is conflict between mother and father, there will be conflict with the child.”

Karen encourages couples to work together as a team in creating a family.  Only then can there be a happy household and thus the creation of a healthy happy child.

2. SHE IS VERY FLEXIBLE and OPEN: When I said my boys wouldn’t want to go 100% raw, Karen said “That’s ok.  Don’t force it.  Work with what they want and change one thing at a time.  Controlling what they eat won’t work.  JUST DO YOUR BEST.  They are already eating so much better.”

Karen is a mother’s cheerleader.  She’s been there and done that.  She admits easily to her own mistakes  and encourages mothers to learn from her.  She says that the only thing she regrets were times when she wanted to control her own children: in their food or education.  She encourages flexibility instead.  Her advice to mothers is to: “Do your best,” “Change one thing at a time,” “Work with your family,” and “Controlling only severs relationships.”  Most of all, LOVE your children and your family.

3. KAREN LOVES CHILDREN AND CHILDREN LOVE KAREN: My son exclaimed, “I want Karen Ranzi to stay at our house for 100 days!”

Karen says, “If I can change just one thing for one person in their road to health, then it was worth it!”  Not only is she passionate about her message and generous with her knowledge , but she knows just how to instill a love for health in the young ones.  I saw this as she interacted playfully with my son.  After presenting him with and reading The Children’s Health Food Book together, my son and Karen were transformed into Superheroes with capes saving stuffed animals from the effects of bad food.  Needless to say, my 4 year old happily drank all his green smoothies and ate all his greens while she was here.  He was in Raw Food Heaven!

And finally, before we said goodbye, Karen looked into my eyes and said “You are doing a great job!” I smiled a really big smile because that was the highest compliment I could have received from her.

Quote of the Day

10 Feb

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

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

Obesity Understood

7 Sep
Last week Karen Ranzi shared her thoughts with us on Baby’s First Food.  This week she discusses obesity. 

Obesity Understood—Now and Forever Impossible on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables 

       Whereas diets don’t work in the long run, lifestyle improvement detailed throughout Creating Healthy Children offers lifelong health benefits. The life in our foods communicates with the life in us, but, unfortunately, this vital aspect is lost once foods are processed. White, refined foods are addictive—we always want more in an effort to find that spark of life that has been removed from these foods, ironically to give them shelf life.    

        Parents reading Creating Healthy Children are most likely not to have obese children because they are already aware of the health promoting aspects of fresh fruits and vegetables.  When food is whole, ripe, fresh and organic, it not only contains vitamins and minerals that satisfy us, in addition to the essential fiber that keeps us full, but it isn’t an incapacitating full feeling as  after the standard Thanksgiving dinner. Feeling full on fresh foods is being free of hunger and satisfied—energetic.  

        The fiber in all fresh vegan foods (animal foods have none) has powerful cleansing benefits.  When food is refined, processed, denatured in packages, it no longer has the above characteristics in tact, and the eater will not be satisfied in the long run, but remains hungry.  In an attempt to obtain the essential nutrients, there will always be a craving for more, but refined foods will always lack what the body needs, and overeating of nutritionally empty foods ensues.

       The results of  such “empty” eating habits are vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and obesity, which is not only unaesthetic but lays the groundwork for myriad diseases.  

       Whenever there is excess body fat, there is an accumulation of toxins in the fat cells that must be diluted in water.  The fat cells thus become bloated, heavy, and all bodily functions become more difficult, resulting in diseases based solely on eating disorders; in reality, the disorder is the empty food that has been destroyed by heat, chemicals, and other processing techniques before it could be eaten. Ironically, the obesity victim is really starving for nutrients found only in fresh vegan foods.

       Animal products contain cholesterol which clogs the blood vessels.  Fruits and vegetables are 100% cholesterol-free—our livers make all we need.  There is no dietary requirement for cholesterol.  Animal fat is solid at body temperature whereas fruit and vegetable fat is liquid.  Unfortunately, obese children are clogging their arteries, building the cause for future diseases that are unknown in countries where people are, fortunately, too poor to eat animals and their byproducts.  

       Even vegan children risk obesity when white foods are eaten: white flour, refined sugar, salt, white potatoes, starchy, sugary refined cereals, white rice, crackers, breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, etc.  Baking and frying are done at high temperatures.  Not only are the heated oils and shortening toxic to the point of becoming carcinogenic, the resultant acrylamide (a deadly golden brown plastic), albeit crunchy to taste, becomes another toxin that gets stored in the fat cells and has to be diluted with water held in solution—hence obesity.  When the precepts of Creating Healthy Children are lived, obesity will no longer be an epidemic but an impossibility.   

Baby's First Food

30 Aug

After reading Karen Ranzi’s bok Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods, I recommended the book to everyone interested.  I am delighted that she has allowed me to publish her article on Baby’s First Food – a topic many friends have asked me about.  Here it is!

The type of food given to baby is dependant on the age of weaning. All babies require mother’s milk for at least the first year of life to create the strong immunity and bonding necessary for baby’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development. The fat and protein in mother’s milk is sufficient for baby’s growth well into the second year. I encourage you to nurse as long as possible. Humans are the latest to mature of all mammals therefore our young require the longest nursing periods. I recommend a minimum of two years. If a mother is unable to nurse for at least the first year of baby’s life, then alternatives could be a wet nurse or milk bank. A last alternative could be raw (unpasteurized) goat milk. The combination of half raw goat milk and half celery/carrot juice has been done successfully for those who were unable to nurse and unable to obtain milk from a human mother. We must remember that human mother’s milk will always be best for the human baby.

Toward the end of the first year, and no sooner, if baby is equipped with teeth to chew, then bite-sized pieces of fresh, ripe, organic fruits can be given one at a time. Observe any reaction, as some babies are not ready to eat until well into their second year of life. I recommend that as soon as baby is accustomed to digesting a variety of fresh fruits given individually for chewing, that you begin to introduce green leafy vegetables in delicious green smoothies to provide additional minerals. It is best to start with the milder greens such as Romaine lettuce or spinach.

Remember that for each child the progression will be a little different depending on dentition and real desire and readiness to eat. Some children are simply curious about foods but not yet ready to eat. The mother must be observant of her baby to predict the right timing for introduction of foods. Into the second year, baby can have diluted nut and seed milks and avocado for their fat and protein contents, but solid soaked nuts and seeds should not be given until later to avoid the development of a nut allergy as nuts require a greater digestive capacity.

All of this is described in much detail in my book Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods which is available at, and many raw food websites.

Karen Ranzi, Author, Lecturer, Raw Food Consultant

Creating Healthy Children

30 Aug
I have loved carrying our son on my back everywhere we go.  Not only do we love the closeness of being together, but he can see what I’m seeing and we can talk about it.  It is much the same in our everyday life.  My husband and I love showing the beauty of our world to our son.  When he was born, we wanted a non-violent birth to welcome him home.  We chose to follow the principles of attachment parenting (Hold On To Your Kids and Why Attachment Parenting is Increasingly Important Today).  We make sure to limit the chemicals in our home (Building a Safe Home, I love Baking Soda, More Cleaning Tips) and we use natural products on our skin (Jojoba Oil).  We have made the decision to homeschool with a lot of time dedicated to nature study.  And because my passion is health and nutrition, we have been trying to transition our family into more raw vegan foods.  We want to create a HEALTHY CHILD: not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.
Admittedly, we have chosen to create a HEALTHY CHILD through alternative choices, unlike our own upbringing, unlike most friends’ and family’s choices for their children. This is why I love Karen Ranzi‘s book Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods.  It discusses everything I have tried to research on my own: home birth, circumcision, pregnancy, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, teaching your child how to eat, personal care products for children, exercise and outdoor time, nutrition, homeschooling, nonviolent communication, vaccination and, of course, the raw foods diet.  T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, praises her book.  As do Victoria Boutenko (author of Green Smoothie Revolution), David Klein (Vibrance Magazine), Susan Smith Jones (The Healing Power of Naturefoods), Matthew Grace (A Way Out), Paul Nison (The Raw Life), Rhio (Hooked on Raw), Tonya Zavasta (Your Right to Be Beautiful) and Elson M. Haas (Staying Healthy with Nutrition), among others.  In reading her book, I feel supported in what we have been practicing at home and I feel encouraged to know that it can all be done.
Karen Ranzi’s book can help many families create HEALTHY CHILDREN: not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.  Here are a few excerpts from the book, which is full of supporting research and recommendations:
“What a pregnant woman consumes while growing a baby can lay down the health and genetic code for that new human being, predisposing that person to ailments such as heart disease in later life.  The health of our children is of great concern today as we are exposed to an ever more toxic environment.
We don’t always have control over much that goes on in our physical world.  Water and air pollution affect us every day, and the daily stresses of life are detriments to our health.  The only things we have complete control over are what food we choose to put into our bodies, what we use on our skin, the amounts of sleep and exercise we get, and the love and emotional support we give ourselves and our children…  Over the years, I’ve learned focusing on food alone is not sufficient.  Time outdoors each day, a relaxed positive attitude, plenty of exercise and enough sleep should also be top priorities in a healthy lifestyle.
The real cause of infections is not germs.  Instead, it is because of an internally unclean body.
… to avoid health problems, the vegan diet should be low in fat… applied to fresh raw vegan foods, focusing on lower consumption of nuts, seeds and avocados.
Not only do meat-eaters fall ill, vegetarians, vegans and raw foodists can also get sick.  Many vegetarians and vegans consume too much starchy food; processed starches are particularly problematic.  The problems a raw foodist can develop are often due to poor food combining, improper acid/alkaline balance, lack of variety of foods and too much fat.”
P.S.  The other night, before bedtime, our son said with a big smile and a twinkle in his eye: “Mama, let’s look outside the window at how beautiful the world is!”  Be still my heart!  The world is beautiful and my son knows it.  I may not be able to carry my son on my back for longer, but I know there is a way to create a healthy child.  I already have one.