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Nori Wraps

29 Jul

A meal that takes less than 5 minutes!

Simply mix a huge bowl of salad. Use whatever ingredients you want! Easy minute salad is all I had time for last night.

Place some on a nori sheet.

Wrap.

Eat.

Happy Healthy  Tummy!

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An Omni Hubby Goes RAW Vegan for One Week

17 Jun

My Vegan Homeschool buddy, Bonnie, finally succeeded in getting her Omnivore Hubby, Crosby, to go on a Raw Vegan Diet for a week. Together, they lost almost 10 pounds. Bonnie discovered more energy and Crosby discovered he could actually enjoy Raw Vegan foods.

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Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

Q: Why did you and hubby decide to go raw? How did you convince your hubby to do it with you?  

B – I am Vegan. I want to drop a few pounds and thought I would with a raw diet. I also think it is the most healthy way to eat.

C- Just to see if it would make me feel better. I have ulcerative colitis and wondered if a raw diet would improve my condition.

 

Q: For how long did you eat just raw foods?

B- 100% for 7 days. Now probably 90%

C- 100% for 6 days. Now 10%

 

Q: How did you feel?  

B – I feel better after having lost a few pounds. I always have more energy when I am on a raw diet. I don’t get that afternoon slump and sleep better at night.

C – I was tired the first 4 days, then I felt the way I normally feel.

 

Q: What was the best day?

B – I didn’t really have a best day.

C – The best day was when I no longer felt hungry. Probably day 3.

 

Q: What was the worst day?

B – I didn’t have a worst day.

C – Day 2. I was hungry and tired.

 

Q: What did you crave that was raw during the whole process?

B – I really enjoyed bananas and dates.

C – Avocados and nuts.

 

Q: What did you crave that was not raw during the whole process?

B – I didn’t have any cravings.

C – Meat.

 

Q: What was the best meal? Worst?

B – Collard rolls with sunflower seed pate were great. A beet salad that I made with cumin was not so good.

C – Avocado, tomato and basil plate with Italian dressing. I liked them all.

 

Q: Any side effects of this raw week?

B – I lost 4 lbs and had more energy.

C – I lost 5 lbs.

 

Q: Would you do it again?

B – I would like to eat that way all the time. Its is just hard to find time to prepare both kinds of food (cooked and raw) every day.

C – Probably not 100% raw, but maybe more raw dishes during the week.

 

Q: What was the first thing you ate after the whole week?

B – Some stir fried vegies and rice.

C – A Chick-Fil-A sandwich. A real hot-dog the next day.

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Q: What was the hardest part of the process?

B – Making a lot of different dished to keep Crosby from getting tired of the food.

C – I did not feel satiated. I never felt satisfied even if I wasn’t hungry.

 

Q: What was the most surprising part of the process?

B – I was surprised that I had so much energy and that I was not hungry.

C – I wasn’t hungry.

 

Q: How are you changed?

B – I think it will be easier to add more raw meals into our weeknow that Crosby has tried to eat this way.

C – I am more open to eating raw.

 

Q: What was the nastiest thing someone had said about your week?

B – Not really nasty, but it annoys me when people try to tell me I’m not getting enough protein.

C – No one was nasty, but I did get some razzing about not eating meat.

 

Q: How has this experience changed your relationship with food, your family, or everyday diet?

B – It made me realize that I enjoy eating simple salads and fruit more than more complicated dishes.

C – There are some really tasty raw dishes that are fun to eat. My brother encouraged me to change my diet if I thought there were benefits to my health. I appreciated his concern for my health.

 

Both Bonnie and Crosby’s efforts are inspiring: Bonnie, for preparing amazing Raw Vegan dishes for a whole week, and Crosby, who was open to eating RAW for a week. Kudos to both of them!

 

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

4 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

Our Travel Food Bag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Someone shared this on Facebook and made me LOL!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Juice Bars are worth it! Here in SAF London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

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

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

Guess Who Wrote The Latest Raw Mom Club Menu Planner?

4 Dec
Yours truly.

Check it out on RawMom.com!!!

Raw Mom Cooked Dad Program (FREE!)

21 Sep
He likes beef.  You like broccoli sprouts.  He likes French fries.  You like Swiss chard.

Sounds familiar?  Polarity can be a beautiful thing, but when it comes to healthy nutrition and feeding our families, then well… improperly said, polarity can wind up being a royal PAIN!!!
There are a lot of women out there, and a few courageous men, trying to increase the percentage of carrot sticks and broccoli stalks in their family’s diet, but they are met with resistance, resentment and flat out protest!!

In the battle against an army of processed “cheese” slices, sandwich meats and soda pops, we need more than will power and nutritional pyramids to win!

We need wit, wisdom and gluten-free waffle mix!

I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s never been a better chance at bringing salad-eating mamas and their steak-eating men together to the table for some healthy discussions about food in the family!

Over 40 of the world leaders in health, nutrition and raw food have come together to find solutions to the “Raw Mom, Cooked Dad” dilemma, and you can listen to all of them for fr*ee if you sign up before October 10th, 2010.

Click Here for the Raw Mom, Cooked Dad Program!

I think after this event is over, there will be a lot more BarBQ’s grilling vegetables instead of beef patties out there.

P.S. Most people wait until their loved ones are sick or diagnosed with a terminal disease before they really step up to the challenge of improving their health. With the information in this event, you won’t need to wait to get your family on board the healthy living bandwagon.

Raw Mom Cooked Dad: The Guide to Creating Harmony in Your Home & Bringing Peace to the Plate

18 Sep
rmcd
Healthy Harmony in the Home by Fiona Hills

With a growing awareness of the impact our food choices have on the environment and our health – many mothers desire a healthier family diet, but are unsure how to garner their families’ support.
Honesty, acceptance and respect for those around you is key to any healthy relationship.
Raw Mom Cooked Dad aims to provide balanced advice to raw moms and cooked dads to help massage any tension out of the family kitchen – and sprinkle inspiration, vitality and increased health into your family diet. A little attitude therapy is thrown in for good measure – to make sure raw moms aren’t falling into the trap of being controlling under the guise of best intentions.
RMCD will feature well-known Raw Vegan speakers.

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How To Transition The Family Into More Raw Vegan Foods

22 Aug
I have been a raw vegan for over a year.  During this time, my meat and carb craving husband and son have been able to transition from 100% cooked foods to more and more raw vegan meals.  On a very good day at home, breakfast, snacks, drinks and lunch are 100% raw and dinner is about 50% raw.  As I write this, I am reminded of how far we have come in the past year.  But it is a struggle sometimes.  On what I call bad days, the boys consume almost 0% raw but for their drinks. 

We recently visited Alabama and I was shocked to discover that in one restaurant the only fruit or vegetable (cooked or raw) on the menu was a side order of 2 slices of tomato!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  Needless to say, we didn’t eat there. We were appalled! But, what incensed me the most was the quality of food my husband and son were eating – rather what they chose to eat when dining out: non-organic meats, Krispy Kreme doughnuts (at a buffet in a museum), highly processed preservative filled pancakes and muffins (I would have chosen better restaurants if there were options), fried coconut shrimp (probably saturated fat and mercury filled), lemonade no doubt made with high fructose corn syrup… I could go on.  I cringed at their choices.  I cringed at the toxins they were eating.  I cringed because I had a quick vision of myself giving up on them and serving them what they obviously so enjoyed.

Where we didn’t eat: A Cafe in Gadsden, AL

Then it struck me… as it always does, that it is OK.  It is OK for them to make their own choices for themselves. It is OK for them to discover how these awful foods affect their bodies – for themselves. It can be a learning experience for them – and for me too.  When we returned home, they were exhausted and had outbreaks of pimples on their bodies.  I, on the other hand, was as healthy and full of energy as I was at the beginning of the trip. 

Now at home, I have bravely decided that (like all raw moms), I needed to do a better job at properly empowering my family to make better food choices. But how? HOW?!? Although we homeschool, bring our lunch boxes everywhere and eat at home for most meals, we want to be part of the community and in doing so, we are exposed to what other people eat a few times a week.  Although our friends know how careful I am about our family’s diet, it is inevitable that our son will want what all the other kids or adults are having.  In a recent birthday party, there was a pinata and our son just devoured all the candy he picked up.  It didn’t stop there of course because he ate all of his mainstream cupcake, some ice cream AND he wanted a lollipop.  Needless to say, a watermelon cube at the end of a toothpick just wouldn’t do.  (Did I already mention that we even made sure we fed him before we arrived at the party?)  Of course, the very next day, he had a bit of a runny nose…

Although I do explain the difference between processed and fresh foods – does my son really care?  Does he understand? But will he choose to eat that junk anyway?  Hmmm…  if given a choice, probably yes. Ditto for my husband if we’re out of the house.

Before this summer, it was easier to get our 3 year old son to eat more raw and he loved the green smoothies and sprouted salads.  But as he has become more social and more attentive to how other kids (or adults) eat and attuned to their negative views on vegetables, he has said: “I don’t like greens.” “No green smoothie for me!”  “I just want bread!”  “This is Almond Butter, not Peanut Butter. Yuck!”  He has taken the lettuce out of a raw sandwich (so lovingly put together), refused to drink freshly made juice or smoothies and declared “I am not hungry!” after surveying the table.

OH DEAR!  This is HARD.
How can you fight a culture that loves and exhaults bad food???
How can you fight the Standard American Diet when it is constantly in your family’s face???

Ummm… perseverance, I guess?  Let me see… what other mantras do I recite in my head while I cringe at my family’s food choices: force not, educate constantly, provide healthy food options at home and while traveling… and geez… you gotta just RELAX.  It’s not the end of the world.  So what do I do?  I keep at it because at the end of the day, I know I’ve done my best for my family’s health and well-being.  This thought alone motivates, encourages and inspires me to keep serving up more raw vegan fare at home.

Many friends have asked me HOW I have come this far in transitioning my family’s meals at home.  Most are daunted by the task of introducing raw foods, especially if their husbands and children love meats and cooked foods.  So, here is my ‘plan’.  I wish we were 80% raw now,  but I believe in ‘the slower the better’ method especially for those who may resist change.

1.  GO SLOW
Make a list.  Start by changing one habit at a time – the easiest ones first.  Once that becomes comfortable, move on to the next item on your list.
2. EDUCATE THE FAMILY AND GET SUPPORT
For my husband, documentaries are important in getting his support, such as:
The Cove (let’s just say we don’t go to Sushi restaurants as much anymore, and if we do – he chooses his fish carefully)
Blue Vinyl (this has diminished his craving for more animal products)
Food Matters (he now wants to add Superfoods into his food and suggested more meals consisting of his favourite raw vegan foods – YEAH!)
Food Inc (I don’t have to argue why organic, local food is better)
For my son, he looks at what Daddy eats. So, if Daddy is on board, it is much easier getting the child to change diet.
For me, I read and contribute to the Raw Mom Blog, I found a local raw vegan community, I keep reading books on nutrition and health, and keep sharing what I’ve learned with others.
Bring the whole family along to:
– nutrition talks and meetings.  After one meeting, my son looked at me and said “We need to eat a RAINBOW of colours Mama!”
– shop at health food stores and let them choose produce for the week
– when shopping at grocery stores, teach them about the different aisles, food labels, sale items, conventional versus organic, etc
– go to local farms and support them.  My son has eaten freshly picked okra.

3. GET RID OF EVERYTHING PROCESSED IN THE KITCHEN AND IN THE PANTRY THAT WON’T BE MISSED
– I did this in one day and it felt really good to get rid of the junk!
– going forward, substitute ingredients for raw, i.e. use local honey instead of sugar,  raw almond butter instead of peanut butter, coconut butter/oil instead of butter, use more whole grain products instead of refined (make raw oatmeal instead of cooked) 

Buy In Season and Local and Organic (if you can!)
Here’s a recipe for raw ‘pickled’okra.
4.  DETERMINE FOODS THAT THE FAMILY CAN EASILY SUBSTITUTE WITH RAW
Once again, start by changing one habit at a time – start easy.  Once that becomes comfortable, move on to the next item on your list.
This is how we progressed:
In the summer, we enjoy Fresh Raw Lemonade:
1 cup fresh lemon juice, 5 cups water, 3/4 cup honey.
Mix all together.
Add fresh mint sprigs and citrus slices, as you wish.

– We bought a filter for our drinking water.
– I started juicing and making more green smoothies.  I would make these in bulk to last at most 3 days.  Live enzymes and the nutrients would be depleted by then, but it is a far better option than store bought.
– Our son had some nut allergies in the beginning, so we opted for raw goat’s milk for him for a while.  Now we alternate between raw goat’s milk and raw homemade almond milk, but plan to stick to more of the latter.
– Use a straw or a thermos to mask the taste/texture/colour of some green smoothies… it works!
– Try adding raw green powder to fruit smoothies.
b. snacks/desserts 

Our Homemade Raw Chocolate filled with Raw Local Honey

– fresh fruits, nut balls, spinach chips, raw cookies, raw ice cream, apple with almond butter, banana with chocolate fudge, raw popsicles (blend fruit with some veggies and freeze), tomatoes eaten freshly picked from the vine, goji berries, dates with filling, raw applesauce, raw pies and cakes, etc.
Our homemade dehydrated cereal
with sliced bananas and fresh almond milk

– fresh fruit, breakfast fruit pudding topped with flax seeds and berries, raw oatmeal, ‘buckwhix’ (our  dehydrated cereal version of Wheetabix, which the boys used to love), applesauce, etc.
– anything with dips and sauces, like flax seed crackers with spinach avocado dip, spring rolls with mung bean sprouts, raw hummus
– soups served in spoons
– anything bite size
e. the main course
Asian Noodles:
1/2 cooked (pasta) and 1/2 raw (sauce and veggies)

– start ‘easy’ by serving up 1/2 cooked and 1/2 raw items together

Carrot Noodles

– move on to substitute the cooked pasta with vegetable ‘pasta’ made from carrots, zucchini…
– experiment with dehydrated breads and ‘wraps’ to create sandwich-like items (puree spinach with flax meal, salt, tomatoes, spices and dehydrate)
– salads or fillings with tomato, corn or avocado are always a success in our house
– avocado sushi (nori wrapped avocado)
5. HAVE RAW CHOICES AT EVERY MEAL
– ASK: do you want to drink your raw vegan foods (smoothie/juice) or eat it (salad) today?
– make sure to have lots of fresh fruits around for desserts/snacks
– make foods and drinks to last at least 2 days (less work for you!)
– organize and plan your meals!
6. KEEP TRYING NEW RAW FOOD CHOICES AND DON’T GIVE UP
use greens as ‘wraps’

– if the family doesn’t like something, keep at it to discover the raw foods that they do like
– keep the raw foods that they like around
7. ALLOW SOME OLD TREATS DURING THE WEEKEND OR SPECIAL OCASSIONS 

– remember, enjoying the food also helps the body digest it better!


8. HAVE FUN AND DON’T GET SO WORKED UP OVER IT!
– make the food fun and appealing (use straws, make edible food art together,  make it bite size, give it a striking name – we’ve had Jedi power, Jawa juice, etc)
– understand that transitioning takes time and people’s cravings change
– plan and organize a weekly menu
– write down every raw vegan food item that the family liked and put it on a list under breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert — so you don’t have to think next time you go food shopping or plan for next week’s meals 

– if plans fail today, there’s always tomorrow!

9. INVEST IN GOOD APPLIANCES and READ LOTS OF BOOKS when you have the chance
– juicer, like Champion
– high speed blender, like Vita-mix
– dehydrator, like Excalibur (one that you can control the temperature)
raw vegan recipes books, etc 

10.  LEAD BY EXAMPLE

– those little eyes are always watching!  Something is going to rub off sooner or later.

Need support? Join The Raw Mom Cooked Dad Program!