Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eating Raw - Get Started Now!

You don’t have to give up the foods you’re used to eating all at once to start becoming more healthy and to start eating raw, organic and live foods. You know the best place to start changing your life and your diet? It’s at the grocery store, of course. Even if you’re at a good weight and pretty healthy, take a tip from dieters. Go shopping with a list and don’t go to the grocery store hungry. Make sure this shopping trip you can resist those Oreos and potato chips.

Clean out your refrigerator and your cabinets. Throw out the half-empty bags of snack foods. Put any microwaveable foods in a dark bag and stash them somewhere in the back of the freezer. Out of sight, out of mind.

Stock up on dried fruits and nuts for snacking. Transform your kitchen from a processed food haven to a healthy kitchen. Invest in a good juicer. Clean out those crisper drawers to get them ready for an influx of new organic and raw foods.

Load up on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you can’t give up meat and fish, consider getting super fresh tuna that you can just sear and serve with sesame seeds and a small amount of soy sauce. (I’m getting hungry just thinking about this!)

Make eating this way fun. Invest in those big, white square dishes that are good for serving sushi. It’s easier to arrange small portions of different foods that way. And getting new white dishes will be symbolic of this new, purer way of eating. Get some good chopsticks so you can take your time eating. This is really fun!

Go to a bookstore and get a cookbook or a food book so you can learn about eating raw foods. Buy a big vase and a bunch of sunflowers to symbolize letting the sun into your diet.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Raw Until Dinner?

Muesli (traditionally raw rolled oats, dried f...Image via Wikipedia

So, let's say you're interested in a raw food diet, but aren't sure you can do it all the time. That's ok! You don’t have to eat 100% raw, certainly not to start. It's not easy to change habits overnight, especially when so many of us are conditioned to think of food as reward and comfort. Dinner at night with family or friends is something many of look forward to.

If you aren't ready to switch completely, try just eating raw foods throughout the day. If you go to work every day, take carrots, apples, grapes or dried fruit with you to munch on. If you usually go out to lunch during the day, go places where you can get a salad. If you take a lunch to work or school with you, include sprouts and fruit with it.

Steamed brown rice and vegetables and a little fruit might not sound very interesting, but I think you'll be surprised at how much energy you get from it. If you’re like many people, fast food lunches make you want to crawl under your desk and take a nap in the afternoon! They make you sluggish and tired. A lighter lunch of raw foods can keep you energized throughout the day.

The business culture is different these days, and there’s less of a routine than there used to be with a morning “coffee break” and then “lunch hour” and an afternoon “break.” That routine doesn’t work for a lot of people any more, but you can still get hungry during the day. By taking a variety of raw foods with you to work, you can munch periodically during the day. Sometimes it’s better to eat to avoid getting hungry. If we let ourselves go too long without eating, you end up feeling hungry and deprived - and that’s when it’s easier to make poor food choices. Eating raw foods periodically throughout the day will help keep your metabolism humming along, and keep your blood sugar at steady levels.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Junk Food

A pair of In-N-Out cheeseburgers.Image via Wikipedia

Try this, just for the heck of it. Once you’ve started incorporating raw foods into your food plans, keep adding them in and reducing the number of cooked and processed foods from your diet. Especially things like fast food, chips, cookies and snacks.

After you’ve done that for awhile, have a junk food day. If you really miss your junk food, or think you do, then plan for it. Make it truly memorable and junk-worthy.

If we were gambling types, we’d be willing to bet a LOT of money that mid-way through your junk food day, you’ll stop.

Once you’ve started incorporating raw foods into your diet, and getting most of your nutrition from them, and stayed with it for at least a couple weeks, junk food is just not going to have the same appeal to you. Because now you’re thinking about what you’re putting into your body. And if you really think about what junk food does to your body, all of a sudden it doesn’t look so good.

You know, it just happens naturally. We’ve started eating more and more raw foods in our home, and haven’t been able to touch things like a McD's hamburger in ages. But have you ever read the warnings about handling chicken that you’ve bought in the grocery store? Or ground meat? It’s recommended that you wash your counters with BLEACH if you’ve prepared meat on them. Now, do you really want to put something in your body that requires BLEACH to clean the germs from it off of surfaces in your home? Nope - when I think about a fast food hamburger now, all I think of is germs. So why bother?

And other junk food we used to love just doesn’t appeal to us any more. Nachos and cheese? Well, the cheese you use is so processed, it’s nothing but corn syrup and processed cheese and fats and chemicals. We can feel our arteries grinding to a halt just looking at it. We don’t even use dips for our vegetables any more. We really do enjoy the taste of vegetables and fruits all by themselves.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

The Importance of Juices in a Raw Food Diet

Extracting wheatgrass juice with a manual juic...Image via Wikipedia

Many people have heard of juice fasts as a means of detoxifying the body. Followers of a raw foods regimen also include juices as part of their nutrition. Nearly anything can be juiced – fruits and vegetables, primarily. It’s a form of concentrated nutrition. Some raw foodists drink only fresh fruit juices.

In addition, fruit and vegetable juices are good sources of the traditional nutrients. Citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges, etc.) provide a healthy portion of vitamin C. Carrot juice contains large quantities of vitamin A, in the form of beta carotene. A number of green juices are a good source of vitamin E. Fruit juices are a good source of essential minerals like iron, copper, potassium, sodium, iodine, and magnesium, which are bound by the plant in a form that is most easily assimilated during digestion.

While fruit and vegetable juices are the most common form of juice, wheatgrass juice has been getting a lot of attention lately because of the denseness of nutrients it contains.
The primary advantage of truly fresh wheatgrass juice - juice made from raw, live, soil-grown wheat grass, is the apparent high level of life force energy that it contains. It is one of the few truly fresh foods available (sprouts are another). The grass is alive and growing right up to the time it is juiced, and hopefully you are drinking it within a few minutes or so of juicing. Most of us get our green veggies from markets, and they were picked days ago and refrigerated - losing vitality the whole time. (It is an even worse situation for fruit, which may be picked weeks before you eat it, and in some cases, held in cold storage for months - losing vitality the whole time.) In contrast, one can grow wheatgrass indoors, and enjoy it when it is truly fresh.

In conclusion, drinking plenty of fresh fruit juices daily will cleanse your system, make you feel completely energized and last but not least, you will look beautiful. People will wonder what you are doing differently!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Types of Raw Foodists - Fruitarians

Orange, pear, appleImage by Joe Lencioni via Flickr

We've talked a lot about the value of the raw food diet; that is, a diet that consists mainly of uncooked, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, sprouts, seaweed, nuts and juices. It’s a vegetarian diet, but one that maintains the idea that cooking and processing take out the majority of essential vitamins, enzymes and nutrients that our bodies evolved to thrive on.

Fruitarians, as the word implies, eat primarily fruits, with nuts and grains as well. Fruits are the part of a plant that carries the seeds - so a fruitarian diet includes some foods that we usually think of as vegetables in a culinary sense: tomatoes, avocados and cucumbers, for example. Fruit is nourishing and refreshing for your health. It doesn't clog the body's vital arteries; better still, it actually flushes and cleanses.

You need to eat carefully if you choose a fruitarian diet, because it can be a real challenge to get enough essential protein in your diet. A fruitarian can eat an avocado sandwich, a coconut milk shake or the purest coconut ice cream made from the milk and meat of the fruit. Or perhaps try sweets made with pure maple syrup or date sugar, fruit shakes made of a mixture of orange and banana, pear and peach, pomegranate, papaya, and plum. Other common meals are salads of tofu, tomato and cucumber, green and red peppers (but not lettuce, cabbage, or celery), and nut butters such as almond butter or tahini and hummus {chickpea paste}. In other words, fruitarian may eat fruits 99.9% of the time, but occasionally do indulge in the delicacies of other food groups.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Different Kinds of Raw Foodists - The Sproutarian

sproutsImage by vigilant20 via Flickr

Vegetarianism and raw food enthusiasts fall into many different groups with different theories of what kind of natural foods are best. Most vegetarians eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Vegans eat no animal by-products at all, including dairy or eggs. Fruitarians eat primarily fruits. And some vegetarians eat only sprouts.

Sprouts are very nutritious because they contain all the elements a plant needs for life and growth. The endosperm of seed is the storehouse of carbohydrates, protein and oil. When the seed germinates, these become predigested amino acids and natural sugars upon which the plant embryo feeds to grow. This life force we eat is filled with energy which is capable of generating cells of the body and supplying us with new vigor and life. For this reason sprouts are believed to slow the aging process. Research shows that sprouts are among the highest food in vitamins. They are not only a low cost food but are also tasty and easy to grow.

Almost any seed, grain or legume can be sprouted though some are tastier than others. You may try mung beans, alfalfa, wheat, peas, fenugreek, chickpeas, radish, fennel, celery seed, etc. These are most readily found in natural food stores. Remember to soak small seeds only for 4 hours and beans for 15 hours. You can also mix seeds - a variety is always best. Get a 2 liter wide-mouth jar and a piece of cheesecloth or old nylon stocking to fasten as a cover with a rubber band. Put seed into the jar as follows:

2 Tsps alfalfa
2 Tsps radish or fenugreek
1/4 cup lentils
1/2 cup mung beans
Soak these seeds for 15 hours and drain the water.
Afterwards rinse and drain well twice daily for about 3-5 days.

If you wish to make larger amounts of sprouts, so you may share with others, place 2 cups of mixed seed into a large porcelain pot, in the bottom of which holes have been drilled for easy rinsing. Simply place underneath the faucet and rinse morning and evening with warm water. Cover with a plate. The seeds grow beautifully and abundantly in a few days.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

All Raw Foods?

Dried fruit and nuts on a platter, traditional...Image via Wikipedia

A diet is considered a raw food diet if it consists of at least 75% raw, uncooked fruits, vegetables, sprouts, etc. Raw and living foods are believed to contain essential food enzymes (living foods contain a higher enzyme content than cooked foods). The cooking process (i.e., heating foods above 116°F) is thought to destroy food enzymes.

People who follow the raw diet use particular techniques to prepare foods. These include sprouting seeds, grains and beans; soaking nuts and dried fruits; and juicing fruits and vegetables. The only cooking that is allowed is via a dehydrator. This piece of equipment blows hot air through the food but never reaches a temperature higher than 116°F.

Do you have to follow the regimen that strictly? Of course not. But it’s certainly worth it to incorporate some of these techniques and ideas into your diet. If you tend to snack at work, try taking in carrots or apple slices. Many of the bigger grocery stores now offer packaged vegetables or fruits that make it easier to pack them and take them to work. We’re a nation of convenience, and much of the resistance to healthier eating is that it does generally take a little more effort and time to buy and slice fruits and vegetables. Food retailers have been catching on, slowly, and it’s much easier now to get bags of sliced carrots, celery, apples, nuts and raisins.

Of course these aren’t necessarily organic foods, and organic is the better way to go, but we think anything raw is infinitely better than cooked, processed food. If you have the time, do buy organic and slice them yourself. But if you’re in a hurry, and nowhere near a natural food store, then don’t beat yourself up or sabotage your efforts because you can’t do this 100% all the time. That’s not realistic. Anything from the fruit and vegetable aisle is going to be better for you than a potato chip, or worse yet, a french fry!

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