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Mama’s Now Cooking!

18 Feb

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

No More Tree Nuts

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

Raw vs Cooked, Vegan vs Vegetarian Foods

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

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

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

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

Hoping you stick around to watch us on our journey!

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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!

Marketing Fruits and Veggies to Kids

12 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of animal milk should my family be drinking?

27 Apr
After our transition into more raw breakfast foods, I discovered my son and my husband’s love for raw homemade yoghurt.  Today, our NAET doctor brought up Mercola‘s new article on raw milk.  I immediately looked for my newsletter in my inbox as soon as we were home.  
So what is the reportedly best animal milk to drink?  The quick answer: raw, unpasteurized, un-homogenized, organic milk from goat or sheep or from Jersey, Guernsey, Asian and/or African cows.  These animals do not have a mutated amino acid which causes not only more productive phlegm in the body but also potentially: Type 1 diabetes, Neurological impairment, impaired immune function, Autoimmune disease and Heart disease.

Other articles on raw milk:
Mercola – interview with Mark McAfee founder of Organic Pastures

Transitioning into Raw Breakfast

26 Apr
I read somewhere that some families transition into raw by eating raw meals for breakfast and lunch and then eat comfort foods for dinner.  It has not worked that way for us.  I always offered something raw in each meal, but we never shared a raw meal together.  I have been preparing raw juices and raw green smoothies (the latter at least once a day) for my family for almost a year now.  Yet, it is only this week that as a whole family we have shared a purely raw meal for breakfast – and everyday this week!  What made this week a success?  I made a concerted effort to really think WHAT my husband and son would love to eat for breakfast.  Favourite non-raw items would be pancakes, waffles, Wheetabix boxed cereal (yuck), oatmeal, juices and fruits. How could I convert that these to raw?

Here is the breakfast plan that I pulled off last week with success.  “Success” means that my son and husband actually enjoyed it with no complaints AND for a whole week.

What was on the menu?  Green smoothies daily with one or two of the following raw foods: applesauce, banana with chocolate fudge, breakfast pudding, oatmeal or “muesli” and homemade raw yoghurt with fruit.  Never mind the rules about food combining and drinking greens before the meal or having fruits first… I’ll ‘teach’ them that later on, but for now I am pleased that they are satisfied with their raw breakfasts.

Our substitution for Wheetabix: pudding with ground flax seeds
Breakfast Papaya Pudding with Flax Seeds
Puree in a blender together:
2 small papayas
3 medium bananas
2 tbspn raw tahini
Top with:
golden flax seeds, ground in a coffee grinder (amount varies according to who is eating it and you can substitute this with other seeds or nuts)
berries 

Breakfast Mango Pudding with Flax Seeds
Puree in a blender together:
2 mangoes
1 banana
1 tspn raw tahini

Top with:
golden flax seeds, ground in a coffee grinder (amount varies according to who is eating it and you can substitute this with other seeds or nuts)

berries

Our raw oatmeal or “muesli”

Raw Oatmeal or “Muesli”
Soak overnight, rinse and drain well:
2 cups raw oat groats (if you can’t find whole oat groats, you can use steel cut or rolled oats but these are not raw)
Blend in food processor with:
3 apples, cored, no need to peel
1 cup dates, seeded (you can soak these overnight if you wish)
1 tbspn lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raw nuts, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained (optional)
Top with honey and raw yoghurt if desired.

Raw Homemade Yoghurt topped with Raw Local Honey
I have been debating in my mind about raw dairy for the last few years.  In Ayurveda, dairy is best consumed if raw.  Some naturepaths, on the other hand, believe dairy in any form is not good for the body.  In my view, whatever is processed and whatever causes harm to an animal is bad.  Both cause toxins in our body because adulterated milk changes its natural state, making it more difficult for us to assimilate and digest AND inhumane treatment of animals for our benefit brings negative energy into the food we eat, which causes toxins in our body.  I don’t agree with consuming too much soy, so soy yoghurt and milk are out of the question.  (Click here for The Dark Side of Soy and Is Soy Healthy?)  I have bought packaged  organic rice milk – but really, it is ‘dead’ food, unless I make my own.  I could make fresh almond milk and try to make some kind of nut yoghurt but would my family eat it?  They haven’t enjoyed almond milk but admittedly, I’ll have to try  harder at it. So, that brings me down to raw dairy.   What is raw milk?  It comes from cow, goat or sheep and is unadulterated pure milk.  Rawmilk.com and Rawmilk.org are full of information. And after 2 weeks of trying raw dairy out, my son and husband are sold on it. 

Raw Yoghurt
Mix together:
1 quart raw milk (we use goat’s or cow’s, but prefer goat’s)
culture (1/2 cup of fresh live yoghurt or 1 packet of culture)
You can use your dehydrator and leave the mixture there for 48 hours until thick.  Or you can use a yoghurt machine (but this will heat your yoghurt over 115F and kill enzymes). Or find another warm place in your house – we used to use our oven with the light on.

Resources:
Dairy Connection – I have heard they sell the best pure cultures.
More on different methods of making yoghurt.

How about failures last week?

Raw Coconut Banana ‘Pancakes’ My boys are not into eating fruit leather, which these tasted like.  BUT with banana filling, they are delicious… at least I thought so.
Puree together:
2 bananas
2 fresh coconuts, juice and meat
Place on Tex-flex sheets in dehydrators for about 6 hours until dry but still pliable.  Fill with bananas and chocolate fudge.