Hello once again... We've added a couple of new recipes to the recipe page (see link on the left side bar) and have got the FIG website up and running, here. A huge thank you to David for all his work and great pictures, and to Nick Baron of the Bean Farm for his assistance in hosting the site. Much appreciated.
We're keeping this blog and will use it for articles, news and the produce updates on a Sunday evening.
Today we have an article written by a FIG member on getting healthy for Spring:
A few years back, our Naturopath recommended to us that Spring was the perfect time to increase raw foods in our diet. The reason being is that Spring is a time where the energy of the Earth is naturally expelling toxins - it is an outward breath time of year. Our bodies naturally start to detox in the Spring, so to cleanse our bodies and aid the detoxing with fresh, raw, organic; fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, complimented with nuts and seeds, gives our bodies the chance to fully exhale and expel the toxins that build up in our bodies. Now before I begin this article, I wanted to say, I am not here to spout the vegan or raw, way of life as a must do way of eating - but when we found out a lot of the information relating to Spring, detoxing, vegan eating during this time and raw foods, it all seemed to make sense to us - so I thought to share it here with other folk who are probably similarly minded.
Our Naturopath told us that as the Earth exhales and our bodies start to detox - so too do all other animals on the Earth. Therefore, animals are expelling their toxins into their exit avenues from the body and some of these places are - flesh, blood, and other bodily fluids such as milk (just as a breast-feeding mother is advised not to detox as her body will expel toxins into her milk that is then ingested by the baby). So you can see that if we eat meat or animal products that have been slaughtered/collected during this natural detoxing period of the year, then we are in actual fact eating meat or animal products that are higher in toxins than is normally present in these products.
When we first started with 'Spring detoxing' and the naturopath mentioned to eat 'raw' for six weeks from the start of Spring, I was a little confused? I had never heard of ‘Raw food’ as a community of people as such – my response was; “so you just want us to eat salad and raw veggies three times a day and snack on fruit in between for SIX WEEKS? WHAT?” Our naturopath recommended the book “Turn over a new leaf” (TOaNL) which is a full six week meal plan (three meals a day with snack recipe's and suggestions included). The book even includes shopping lists for each week, pantry stock you need to check your cupboard for each week and a preparation guide for things to make ahead of starting the detox, and freeze in batches for snacks/ease of meal prep throughout the detox. It is an amazing book and the meals are delicious. It is not 100% raw, but any cooking is via light steaming etc. There is a high component of raw food meals, but it really is a world away from what I originally envisaged as RAW! Raw can be and is, so creative and wonderfully delicious. Did I also mention it is SO quick and SO easy to cook... well um... create. I kind of feel a little strange using the word 'cook' to describe raw food preparation because, well - there is no cooking.
Another concern I have found, that folk can sometimes have, is that raw food requires a dehydrator. Whilst to get really fancy with raw food a dehydrator does come in handy - it is not essential. Russell James has a book in his ‘The Raw Chef Recipe series’ called ‘No dehydrator needed’. You will also find an abundance of raw food recipes online which do not require a dehydrator. And if you would like to try a dehydrated recipe and have not a dehydrator, then a low oven (not above 46ºC) will suffice for you to create this recipe. Equipment pieces that will make life a little easier for raw food and the TOaNL eating plan are; a food processor (one with good grunt if possible) and a blender. TOaNL also recommends a pressure cooker for cooking beans etc - but if you have read any of Sally Fallon’s NT words, you will know that this is probably not the most nutrient dense way to cook your beans. The good ol’ fashion soak for 24hrs then slow cook over 6-8 hours - low heat on the stove, results in a much more nutrient dense cooked bean. Kristen Suzanne just wrote a blog post about the equipment you need if you are new to raw food.
Of course, it can be a little difficult if one member of a family is inclined to increase raw food in their diet, but the other members are a little hesitant. Bill Murphy wrote a great article on ‘Raw Pleasure’ recently about this exact topic- which is quite a common issue, so if that situation is of consideration for your family, you may find some of his suggestions helpful in his article; “Being the Partner of a Raw Foodie”. I think the most important point is to remember that everyone is at different points on their personal journey, even if we are walking a path together. Different things resonate more deeply with others at various times and then surprisingly that changes again, sometimes very quickly, as our thoughts evolve with time, research, experiences and various inspirations. If you are wanting to include more raw food in your diet but have some resistance from family members, are you able to perhaps start to include raw food in certain aspects of the overall eating plan? Say perhaps a smoothie, green or fruit with breakfast a few times a week, then start to experiment with some various raw breakfasts. Perhaps you can include a few snacks of raw food through the week, perhaps a decadent desert or two to sweeten the offering? Lunches and Dinners can easily have a ‘raw component’ added to them so there is still a balance that pleases all. Look online and find some exquisite looking recipes (which are always simple and quick to prepare despite their gourmet appearance) as these will give other family members a ‘taste of raw’ without ‘going raw’. Again, of course, different things suit different families, but if you are interested in raw, see if you can just start to introduce a few recipes into your weekly meal plan and in no time (especially as the weather warms) I am sure you will find some real family favourites and have those hesitant members of the family probably requesting your new raw food recipes!
So what's the big buzz about Raw Foodism anyway? Kristen Suzanne puts it into words beautifully in her ebook ‘The Easy way to get started with Raw food and succeed ’ – “We’ve all heard time and again that we should eat more fruits and vegetables. The difference between that statement in the past versus today is that we now have exciting, delicious, and innovative ways to prepare whole fruits and vegetables as evidenced by the popularity of “Raw food,” emerging as a new cuisine all of its own. “Raw” no longer means boring salads and fruit plates. With Raw food cuisine, your world has now opened up to experiencing fresh whole fruits and vegetables like you never imagined they could be... incredible!” But why do we NEED to be increasing raw food in our diet. Kristen Suzanne goes on to say - “Eating more Raw food is one of the most amazing things you can do for yourself. If you’re looking to experience life at its fullest, then you definitely need to start incorporating more Raw food into your daily food choices. If you’re looking to be the happiest you’ve ever been, then this is the answer. The Raw Lifestyle is, hands down, the easiest way to help lose unwanted weight, eliminate or reduce cellulite, improve digestion, experience restful sleep, gain incredible amounts of energy, have brighter eyes, radiate with beautiful, glowing, and younger looking skin, experience mental clarity and energy like never before, and have a new lease on life... literally, including the prevention and even reversal of many diseases.”
The term "Raw food" relates to foods that have been prepared in a way, that they have never been heated above 46ºC. People often interchange the word "Raw" with "Living" foods. The term Living implies that we are eating food that is pure, in it's state that nature provided it - the enzymes in the food are active and awake - our food is ALIVE. Nuts and seeds are an exception to this ‘raw’ eating. They are not in an ‘awakened’ state when we buy nuts that have been stored for some time after harvesting. Until a stored nut or seed is soaked, it is not regarded as "Living" as the nut or seed has enzyme inhibitors that have 'hardened' the nut and 'locked up' all the goodies in the nut. Our bodies have a difficult time digesting the nut or seed and absorbing the nutrient from them, often this just passes through, unused by the body. This is actually a protection mechanism by the nut and seed, to ensure future ability to sprout (re-germinate) and not go rancid in a period of dormant being. When we soak the nut or seed, we 'awaken' it. It starts to 'sprout' and the enzyme inhibitors are broken down. We then have a nut or seed that we can digest and absorb maximum nutrient from. The nut, seed and even when we do this with grains, have now become a green food instead of a 'dormant' food. We now have a "living" nut, seed or grain. With raw food transition, many traditional foodies can be a little concerned about their protein levels. With my research into raw food, I have come to believe that if one is eating a wide variety of plant based foods with a high leafy green intake, then one will be feeding the body all it needs to function, evolve, heal, repair and be well. Sprouted nuts, seeds and grains (such as wheat grass) are an excellent way to get a protein boost into your diet. When the seed starts to sprout - it effectively is preparing for and changing into life ('living food') so it puts all it's best energy into the effort to sprout, hence why sprouts are so highly regarded as a protein goodie in the raw food community. There is a particular school of Raw food thought out there – the 80/10/10 diet which suggests to limit the amount of nuts, seeds etc that one eats in a Raw food diet and mostly eat fresh organic fruit and vegetable. There is no creative food prep as such from what I understand about 80/10/10, it is mostly just raw fresh produce, not raw food creations. Again, it’s something where you have to let instinct guide you. For me and our family, the 80/10/10 doesn’t really resonate that wholly with us and we are, at the moment, just loving the array of raw food recipes we are able to create and enjoy.
The other ultimate protein food is of course hemp foods which are hemp seed derived. Hemp seed is extremely high in protein. Hemp as a food in Australia is something that is currently under review by our Government and a decision will be made at the end of 2011 by the powers that be. Hemp is extremely high in protein and is a great ingredient in the raw foodies kitchen. America has much more accommodating laws in regards to Hemp as a Food. Unfortunately our current situation in Australia means that we cannot purchase Hemp in any form for use in food. There are various forms of Hemp Food sources. A few are; Hemp Protein, Hemp oil and Hulled Hemp seeds. These are all available in Australia, but are not sold as a food item, it is intended that these products not be consumed by humans. Hemp Protein is the meal that is left after the hemp oil has been pressed out. This can be used in raw protein bars, protein shakes or put into many dips and sauces to accompany raw food creations. It can even be ground in a grain mill and then used as a flour. The Hemp oil is used in the same way one would use Flax oil, as Hemp oil does have the same heat sensitive properties as Flax oil – but the oil can be used in salad dressings, drizzled over essene bread/toast or used as a dipping with dukkah. Hemp oil is a great source of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s). Hulled hemp seed can be used in patties, pizza crusts, cookies and many other raw food applications as well as wonderful applications such as making hemp milk, hemp cheese and hemp tofu – a great soy alternative for those who prefer to avoid soy. If you are interested in Hemp as a Food or anything hempy, there is a wonderful hemp store on the Coast, down the Peninsula - Gnostic Hemporium. Owned and Operated by a man of much hemp knowledge - Richie, it is worth visiting either online or in person if you are interested in signing the petition to support being able to use this super protein food in a raw diet. “Hemp must NOT be confused with marijuana. The level of THC (the psychoactive ingredient that gets people high) is so low in industrial hemp (0.03%) that it has no effect if smoked.” – Gnostic Hemporium ‘Hemp as a Food’ petition. If you are interested in reading more in-depth information about the Hemp as a Food issue in Australia, Guy Stewart has a great article “Why Hemp as a food is still illegal”.
Back to the major component of a Raw food diet - fresh organic fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices... the major and most essential part of the Raw food diet, the part that the folk at FIG very generously work hard to deliver to us every week - and with low food miles! We are so blessed to be able to eat fresh, LOCAL, organic produce. People the world over that convert to a High Raw (HR) diet report amazing changes in energy levels, general well being, stabilizing ideal weight, release from many debilitating ailments; from headaches, migraines and allergies to more serious chronic conditions being cured or greatly alleviated by this style of eating. As our family has tethered back and forth through our transition to HR, I can honestly say the heavy and lethargic feeling from eating cooked meals is definitely noticeable once you have nourished your body with the goodness of raw foods. And you know - it is hard to transition to something so extreme and different to what one is normally used to eating, so no-one ever says that it has to be done 100%. When we first started transitioning, it was suggested to me that one easy way to increase our raw intake was to include a green smoothie in our diet every day. My suggestion is, that if you feel like an old favourite, cooked meal - then make it. It will actually probably be very rewarding as you too may well notice the difference between the feeling of HR and a traditional cooked diet. I'm not here to spout a righteous way of being. Just last Friday we found preservative and additive free taco shells in our local organic store. Corn, oil and water - only ingredients. So straight away, it set a craving in place for me. Our child had never had taco's as the taco shells generally available have a few additives that I really think do not belong in food products! It was such a treat for us. We picked up some organic; chicken, cheese and sheep's yoghurt (in place of the sour cream!) topped them with a raw salsa (had to have some raw in there somewhere) and they were delish. To see the grin and experience of taco's on our child's face was worth it. They were a yummy treat and enjoyed by the whole family! As I said, I'm not here to create a righteous 'raw is the best' article, but I am just here to let you know the benefits of including a little more raw in your diet and especially in Spring, as I have explained above.
Every one is aware that when we cook our fresh produce food, nutrients start to leach from and deplete in the food. We can all remember stories of great-granny and how she boiled her broccoli until it was not even a green colour anymore - more of a greyish yellow colour. "THEN it was COOKED love!" I once heard someone say it would then be more nutritious to throw the broccoli away and drink the water it was boiled in! Heat kills the enzymes in our fresh produce. As the heat increases, the enzymes are damaged and the longer they stay at higher temperatures the more they deplete until they are themselves also fried! The most nutritious way to eat our fresh produce is raw. (Of course, there is a few exceptions, and the Body Ecology site has a great article about the family of vegetables that do require light steaming for particular digestion/metabolism reasons. But if you are committed to a raw way of eating, you can always ferment these vegetables to eliminate the properties in these vegetables that effect the thyroid and other bodily functions.) But if one is still preferring 'cooked' food then to lightly steam the produce so it is still crisp when eating is the most ideal after raw consumption. Now if you have a mind like me that thinks "OK, raw, so I can do crudities, garden salad, green salad, um.... hmmm... oh well I could dice the vegetables in a salad, that might look different.. but how long could I eat this same taste food?" I am here to share with you that there is SO many different ways to prepare fresh raw produce into the most delicious meal arrangements – we are never bored with the food we eat and never at a loss for a wonderful recipe to try… the hardest part is deciding on WHICH recipe to prepare! I feel so filled with nutritious, wonderful food - this will sound corny (no raw food pun intended there!), but you can just hear your body sing. It is such an energetic and clear state of being when eating a raw diet. Kristen Suzanne of Kristen’s Raw says "Raw is for people who want to feel vibrant and alive, and want to enjoy life like never before". OK - I'll put my hand up for a double serving of that thank you!
A few of my favourite raw food sites for inspiration and recipe’s are; Kristen’s Raw; Russell James Raw Food Chef; Yummy Raw Kitchen; Catherine et les fees (if you go back to her March 2010 and onward posts you will find lots of raw food recipes in her Spring (Canadian) raw food transition); Bitt of Raw; Sweetly Raw; The Sunny Raw Kitchen… and I could go on and on. Enjoy and have a Rawsome Spring!
Disclaimer; This article is NOT written by a health trained professional. It is written by a raw food eating person with a strong interest in health. This information is not intended as health advice. Please consult with your own natural health practitioner and discuss with that health professional any of these ideas you may be interested in, before making any changes in your diet/eating style. Significant changes in diet and eating styles that bring about detoxing effects on the body need to be monitored carefully by a natural health professional and are not suitable for everyone. FIG and the author of this article accept no liability for decisions you make about your style of eating based on the information in this article.
Note: for those interested in learning about incorporating more raw dishes into their daily meal plans, there is a workshop called Introduction to Healthy Eating with Raw Food on at Wyee on Saturday, 28th August from 1-5pm. Bookings can be made with Sophie on 0428 108 723 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.