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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Monday, March 15, 2010

Leaving Processed Foods Behind

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

Have you ever seen what a person's blood plasma looks like after they've eaten a fast food meal? It’s not a pretty picture. It looks thick and cloudy. Fast foods are loaded with fat and sodium. They use white bread and rolls, which means they’ve used white processed flour, with very few nutrients in them.

And how do you feel after a Big Mac and french fries? You need a nap, don’t you? All that fat drags you down and make you feel sluggish.

Changing your way of eating can be a hard thing to do, but think about some of the things you do when when you switch to a healthier diet. You eliminate those high fat, processed, high-sodium foods. You may eat less, true. But eating more raw fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water will result in more energy and less need for sleep. Processed foods, with their high fat content are hard to digest. They take an enormous amount of the body’s energy to consume. When your body’s energy isn’t used up digesting all that fat, it’s available for YOU – for work, play, love, exercise – in other words, for LIFE.

These aren’t drastic concepts. You don’t have to make drastic changes in your lifestyle. But take a good look at what you consume without even thinking about it. We reach for the potato chips, or stop at McDonald’s or Taco Bell when we’re hungry and we want something in a hurry.

It’s so easy to have snacks on hand so you don’t have to stop at a fast food place when you’re hungry. If you’re on the road a lot, and get hungry, pick up a bag of vegetables or apple slices at a grocery store. Yes, it’s easier to drive up to Wendy’s, but taking a few extra minutes, not to mention a few extra steps, will be well worth it in energy and vitality.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Vegetarianism Vs. Raw Foodism - What's the Difference?

Fruit stall in a market in Barcelona, Spain.Image via Wikipedia

Is there a difference between vegetarian and raw food diets? A raw foodist is a vegetarian, but one who generally is not going to cook his vegetables or fruits. A vegetarian is someone who simply doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but only consumes vegetables, pasta, and rice. A vegetarian might eat meatless spaghetti sauce or order onion rings in a restaurant. (Not the healthiest choice, but sometimes it’s hard to find something to eat in a restaurant if you’re vegetarian – even harder if you’re a raw foodist.)

There are different categories of vegetarians, like vegans, or fruitarians, and raw foodist is a category of vegetarianism. We haven’t seen anything about sushi being considered a raw food, but it is. Raw food, though, generally means eating raw, uncooked fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, seaweeds, etc.

But to be a raw food purist means raw broccoli, not steamed. To a vegetarian, someone committed to not eat meat or fish or animal products, steamed vegetables are just as good, although everyone would agree that steaming can take out nutrients from foods, rendering them less nutritious. A vegetarian might consume dairy or egg products; however a vegan will not consume any animal products at all. And a raw foodist is a vegan who consumes only uncooked, unprocessed raw foods.

Proponents of the raw diet believe that enzymes are the life force of a food and that every food contains its own perfect mix. These enzymes help us digest foods completely, without relying on our body to produce its own cocktail of digestive enzymes.

It is also thought that the cooking process destroys vitamins and minerals and that cooked foods not only take longer to digest, but they also allow partially digested fats, proteins and carbohydrates to clog up our gut and arteries.

Followers of a raw diet cite numerous health benefits, including:

  • increased energy levels
  • improved appearance of skin
  • improved digestion
  • weight loss
  • reduced risk of heart disease

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Raw Food, Water and Your Skin

Close-up of tap waterImage via Wikipedia

Starting from the inside out is the best way to get healthy, glowing skin, and one of the first steps you take should be eliminating caffeine in the form of coffee and soda. Caffeine dehydrates the body, and it shows in the skin - a lack of moisture is a sure way to create lines and wrinkles. Caffeine functions as a diuretic, causing increased urine output, and so depletes your body and skin of the moisture it needs. We try to combat this with moisturizers, lotions and creams, but the better way is to put the moisture INTO your body, instead of on it.

Drinking pure water, unprocessed fruit juices and coconut milk will give your body and skin the hydration it needs. The colors in fruit juices are the colors of the earth and these colors will reflect themselves in warm and healthy skin tones.

The overall effects of caffeine on your body will manifest themselves in your skin. Heavy caffeine drinkers can experience osteoporosis, headaches, depression, sleeplessness. These can all be reflected in your skin.

When you replace colas, coffee and teas made with boiling water with water, fruit juices, herbal teas and coconut milk, you’ll soon start to feel better and sleep better. The health and vitality of your organs and cells will be reflected in the glow of your healthy skin as soon as you kick the caffeine habit.

Another reason for drinking lots of pure water is because it helps your body with detoxification. When the body rids itself of toxins, it passes not only through urination, but also through the skin which is the largest elimination organ. Raw food increases your detoxification rate. Drinking water helps the body rid itself of toxins.

To achieve a healthy complexion, drink plenty of water and eat plenty of raw food. What goes into your body will be reflected in your overall appearance.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Food Dehydrators for a Raw Food Diet

Tomato slices ready to be dried in a food dehy...Image via Wikipedia

Making dried fruit and fruit leathers isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. While some food processors and juicers can get really pricey, a dehydrator isn’t going to cost that much and it’s a lifesaver to have fruit leathers, dried fruit or fruit jerky on hand when you can’t get out to the store for fresh food.

When buying a dehydrator, some things to consider are the materials and construction used to manufacture the product, the size, heating elements, fans and guarantees. Make sure you have room for the dehydrator in the space you have planned for it. Look for one that’s multi-purpose, with multiple trays and special trays for fruits and herbs. A side-mounted or horizontal fan is best when choosing a food dehydrator.

Here are some food dehydrators to consider. But do a little research to find just the right one for you!

If you're looking for an 'entry level' type of dehydrator, you can't go wrong with the Nesco American Harvest – an inexpensive food dehydrator with five trays that don’t have to be rotated. Priced approximately $55-65

Or if you're serious and ready to invest a bit more, the Excalibur Dehydrator has over 12 square feet of drying space. Comes with 9 polycarbonate trays and has a horizontal fan for maximum drying efficiency. Fast drying times, no tray rotation needed and fast cleanup. Price approximately $200-$220.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dehydrating Fruits for a Raw Food Diet

fruit leatherImage by gfish via Flickr

One of the problems facing anyone trying to eat healthier, especially for someone trying to move towards eating more raw foods is the convenience factor. Raw and natural foods are so much healthier for you, but it’s not as if there are drive-through raw foods restaurants on every street corner in the country.

And of course, there’s no such thing as a raw foods snack machine, is there? So if you get hungry during the day, you’re going to have a challenge of finding something appropriate to eat if you haven’t packed any raw fruits and vegetables. And when you’re rushing around in the morning, sometimes it’s next to impossible to find the time to put together a selection of healthy snacks to take with you.

One thing to try so that you have healthy snacks available quickly is to dehydrate your fruits or make fruit leathers. Those fruit roll-ups you see in the grocery store are derived from a pretty good idea – fruit leathers. But it’s better to make your own – commercial fruit leathers are going to be loaded with preservatives and sugars – just the things you want to avoid. In the picture, you can see fruit leather being made in a dehydrator.

When you’re switching to a raw foods diet, that doesn’t always have to mean fresh off the farm. It means not cooking foods with processes that strip all the essential vitamins, amino acids and enzymes from them. Drying fruit is a great way to add variety to your diet and make yourself tasty snacks of dried fruit or fruit leathers. It’s not hard to do. There are recipes and inexpensive food dehydrators on the Web. These are also great snacks to pack for your kids’ lunches!

You get all the benefit of the raw fruit, just packaged and preserved in a healthy, nutritious way!

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Helping the Digestive system

Fresh uncooked bean sprouts on a dishImage via Wikipedia

Even if we are not sick and look healthy, we may not be getting enough adequate nutrition. We can improve our state of health by simply knowing what nutrition we need. Nutrition is, after all, what food is all about - the amount we need, its function, and the basic materials we need for our body in order for it to continue on with its daily activities. By knowing how to take care of our body through nutrition, we can better maintain its high performance levels.

Eating raw foods helps our bodies with nutrition in so many ways, but the digestive system is one of the body processes that benefits the most. The extra fiber and moisture in raw fruits and vegetables helps keep the digestive system functioning regularly and actually keeps the system cleaner. Cooked foods - especially meats - are much harder for our bodies to digest. Eating healthy, living, raw foods can help to prevent certain cancers, most notably cancers of the colon and intestines.

Eating large meals, high in fats and proteins, often makes us feel sluggish afterwards - because the body is working so hard to digest these foods, it sends a large part of the body's oxygen to the digestive system. Eating lighter meals, full of raw food that is easy to digest helps us maintain our energy through out the day. It is believed that about three hours between meals is an appropriate interval for maintaining energy and facilitating digestion.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Detoxifying your Body - A Neccessary Step

The gastrointestinal tract, also called the di...Image via Wikipedia

The process of detoxifying our bodies results in the purging of harmful environmental and chemical poisons. The buildup of these toxins can overwhelm the body’s capacity to detoxify and may lead to such problems as hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, inefficient metabolism, and digestive and respiratory disorders. Switching to a raw food diet will help to clean and detoxify your body, which many find can result in improved energy levels, mental capacity, skin tone and clarity, digestion, metabolism, and breathing while decreasing joint pain, body aches and headaches, constipation, anxiety, irritability, and aiding in weight loss.

Though the end results of detoxification are very beneficial, the actual process of detoxifying can be difficult. Headaches, nausea, and diarrhea can result as toxins exit your body. It’s important to keep in mind that, even though you’re doing a good thing for your body by detoxifying it, you may even develop a cold or flu-like symptoms as your body works to purge the germs and poisons from the cells. Skin breakouts, anxiety, irritability and lethargy can also occur.

The healthier a person is when beginning the detoxification program, the less severe these symptoms will be. If the body has a great deal to purge, the process will be harder on the body. If the process is a huge change from the previous lifestyle, these side effects might be more pronounced.

Don’t interrupt the detoxification process by taking any type of drug to relieve these symptoms. They are a natural side effect of the process. Try instead to get some rest and focus on the end result. Try treating yourself extra special during this time. Sit down and enjoy a good book, meditate, or even write in your journal about your detoxification experiences. Remember that what you're going through is a natural occurrence, and concentrate on how wonderful and healthy you'll feel when the process is complete.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Tips On Switching to Raw Food

Organic vegetables at a farmers' market in Arg...Image via Wikipedia

Understanding that it's difficult for many people to transform their diet completely, you do not have to go 100% raw. If you can incorporate natural alternatives to the foods you were eating (such as organic raw peanut butter and not regular peter pan), purchase all organic foods, incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and only drink water, you'll be making a dramatic change to your life and health, even if you aren't eating an all raw diet.

Changing over to 100% raw foods right away can be hard for some people due to their personal preferences, and also when it's necessary to compromise with other family members. And remember, when you change to a raw diet, your body will begin to detox within a few days. Making a slower, more gradual change can be a wise decision, so you don't through detox so hard at the beginning.

One method is to use six days on, one day off, which seems to work well by letting your body become used to the the choices you're offering. With time, the body starts to crave the healthier foods when given a choice. Contrasts between food types and their tastes will be noted, and you'll begin wanting more of the raw food choices as you feel the difference in how you feel.

Another option is too eat all raw food during the day, and then have some cooked foods in the evenings. This is a good way for people who still want to eat some meat products - a very small portion of lean turkey or fish in the evening can help prevent cravings at other times.

Keep in mind that you do not have to incorporate a full 100% raw food diet forever! As long as you maintain at least 75% of your diet raw, you'll see huge improvements in your health and well-being. Just eating more fruits and veggies alone will change your health drastically.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Raw Food Dessert - Sorbet!

Strawberry sorbetImage via Wikipedia

Sorbet is probably the one dessert that is both good for you and incredibly delicious. If you aren't familiar with sorbet, it's a frozen dessert made from iced fruit puree, sometimes with other ingredients added. Sorbet should not be confused with sherbet, which is made with fruit and milk. Sorbet is more similar to gelato in that it has no milk in it - so it's a great choice for vegans or anyone who is lactose intolerant or with dairy allergies. Some sorbets contain alcohol to lower the freezing temperature; that makes it have a slightly softer texture. It is a very dense and flavorful dessert, matching ice cream for quality and taste.

Sorbet folklore claims that the Roman Emperor, Nero, invented it during the first century AD. The story said Nero had runners along the Appian way, passing buckets of snow to the mountains to his banquet hall, where it was mixed with honey and wine. However, the Chinese are also known to have been serving a food made from snow and fruit juices and pulps for thousands of years.

While the truth of it's origins may never be known, there's no doubt that mixture of ice and fruit is absolutely delicious and is known in nearly every corner of the world now. Depending on the fruit used, it's an excellent source of vitamins, naturally fat free and low in calories. Villa Dolce Gelato makes a great sorbet base that you can buy online, and use to produce your own sorbet at home. There's also a delicious recipe for homemade sorbet at Joy of Baking.com. So, buy or make your own sorbet now, and enjoy a delicious, raw fruit dessert!
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No More Canned Foods!

“Fruit Basket”, oil on woodImage via Wikipedia

When you buy canned fruits and vegetables, you're getting lower quality food that lacks in nutrition and is usually loaded with salt and preservatives. On a scale of healthiness and freshness, fresh fruits and vegetables are best, followed by frozen foods and then canned. Last on the list, canned items are slowly becoming a thing of the past.

When foods are canned, they go through a cooking process that destroys up to a full half of the vitamins A, C, riboflavin and thiamin. And sitting on shelves in storage, the deterioration continues with the foods losing an additional 5% to 20% of these vitamins. The remaining vitamins only decrease their values slightly.

The thing to remember is that everything depends on the time between the harvesting and the canning and freeing process. Generally, the vegetables are picked immediately and taken to canning or freezing divisions when their nutrient contact is at its peak. How the food is canned affects the nutrient value also. Vegetables boiled for longer than necessary and in large amounts of water lose much of their nutritional value as compared to those only lightly steamed.

Another real concern with canned foods is the presence of Bisphenol A - a chemical used in plastics and also a part of the lining of virtually all food and beverage cans. While originally determined safe for humans in small amounts, recent studies have found that people are absorbing much higher amounts than previously thought. This can have dangerous effects on developing fetuses, small children (especially those who use plastic bottles and sippy cups), and in general can have possible effects on obesity, the thyroid and reproductive organs. The US National Institute of Health has expressed concerns about neurological effects, also. In general, it's just another reason for canned foods to be avoided.

When we pick fresh vegetables or fruit at the farm, they are always more nutritious than canned or frozen – this is a fact. If you cannot buy fresh, at least buy frozen.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Eating Raw Food for Valentine's Day

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...Image via Wikipedia

Valentine's Day is, of course, a day when we all want to do something special for our loved ones. Often, that 'something special' involves a delicious treat, made by hand. But often those treats don't fit in with a raw and organic diet. I can tell you that even though white sugar, white flour, trans and saturated fats, refined carbs and excess calories are on the “no-no” list, there's no reason to feel deprived of a delicious chocolate treat. After all, some traditions just shouldn't be messed with!

One answer is to make a raw food dessert, using ingredients like nuts and dried fruits. They have a lot of flavor and are good for you. And... they are easy to put together! Jenny Cornbleet has a book out called Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People. In it there are desserts – cakes, cookies, fruit crisps, pies, tarts, and more – appropriate for the holiday and they're all raw! And you know what? They often taste just as good or even better than their sugar laden counterparts.

One recipe is for a “Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce” which calls for 1 ½ cups raw walnuts, dash of salt, 8 pitted medjool dates, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder, ½ tsp vanilla extract, and 2 tsp water. For the raspberry sauce you use 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (thaw and drain if frozen) with ¼ cup pitted medjooy dates, soaked for 30 minutes and drained. Place the walnuts and salt in a food processor with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add dates, cocoa powder, and vanilla … process until mixture becomes sticky. Add water and process briefly. Transfer to a serving plate and form a 5 inch round cake. Place the raspberries and dates in a blender and mix until smooth, pouring over the cake just before serving.

You don't have to give up all your comfort foods, just find a healthier recipe for it - you might even find that the raw food versions taste better. Should you decide that you want to splurge on something that's off the raw food diet, remember to do so in moderation. Don't go overboard! And remember that after eating, you should wait and let your stomach digest properly before the next meal.
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making the Switch to Raw Foods

Roadside farmers' market in Bridgehampton, New...Image via Wikipedia

So, now that you know what a raw food diet is all about, you need to decide if it's right for you.

Well, you don't have to make a switch to 100% raw foods right off the bat. You can start by simply eating more fruits and vegetables and no processed foods. Try drinking fruit juices or smoothies for breakfast, and then eating a healthy veggie sandwich with fruit juice for lunch. For dinner, eat some blanched vegetables with brown rice and no meats.

As you gradually detoxify your body, you will see dramatic results. First, however, you'll go through the detoxify process, where you will feel tired, have headaches, skin eruptions, etc. Once you are over this tough time, you will feel light, not dragged down, energetic, vitality, and conscious, among other things. You will have more mental clarity and therefore be more productive. Your body will feel cleansed, you will be able to treat disease and prevent new ones from forming. You may start to see dramatic weight loss. You will also find that over time you won't be as affected with colds and other sicknesses because your immune system will become much stronger.

Apart from that, you'll find that you will be saving money because you can either grow your vegetables or buy them at a farmers market. Buying organic food will save the earth and provide agricultural support, which is much needed. You will also save time and money because you will not be in the kitchen cooking up a storm. You will not be eating animals, because these animals have been pumped with high hormones and other drugs that lead to health problems with humans.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is the Raw Food Diet just another Fad?

ObeseImage by orbz via Flickr

I've had some people write me saying that by encouraging raw food diet meal plans, I'm just pushing another 'fad diet'. I completely disagree. Eating raw fruits and vegetables isn’t the "new South Beach Diet" - it's not a fad diet at all. Believe it or not, humans have been eating this way since LONG before we were eating processed junky foods. We didn’t have access to most many foods, and we were scavengers, picking fruits and eating vegetables. Nuts were also eaten for protein. It was either that or starve. Humans ate these fruits as is, no additives, no cooking. One and a half million years ago we learned how to cook. So for a half million years we ate the food raw, as it was intended.

Today, things are different. We have access to every type of food we might want, right at our fingertips. We can order Oolong tea (which must be handpicked on cliffs in china) from the internet. You would think that since we have come this far, we would be super human, so healthy we would be living 500 years. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out that way. In fact, in some ways we actually have worse health now. Some of us are developing cancers at an early age. Some of us are dying of heart disease or obesity. We are not eating correctly. We are stuffing our faces with hydrogenated oils, fake products, high sodium and sugary foods, and gaining weight at an alarming rate. It shows in bad skin, rolls of fat, and sluggish attitude.

What people need to realize is that eating fat free or sugar free foods isn’t going to help. It really isn't any better for you to stuff yourself with SnackWells instead of Oreo’s. What will help is to completely change what you eat. Remember, you are what you eat, so eat the right things and it will show in your body, mind and spirit.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Raw Food and Water

When you make a switch to a raw food diet, you might start to notice you don't feel as thirsty as usual. One reason this might happen is that raw fruits and vegetables have a high volume of water, so your body receives more hydration from the food itself.

However, that doesn’t mean you should stop drinking water or juices. First of all, you should always listen to your body, because it will tell you what you need. If you’re overweight, sluggish, tired, depressed, your body may be telling you to make some dietary changes, and raw foods might be one way to alleviate some physical disorders.

But if you’re overweight and have symptoms of Type II diabetes, overwhelming thirst can be one symptom. When you start consuming more raw foods, with a higher fiber and moisture content, you may start to lose weight, and that can go a long way to reducing your blood sugars.

If you’re not overweight, or don’t have Type II diabetes, you still might find you’re not as thirsty as you normally are. First of all, if you’re drinking water and juices, you’re not consuming caffeine, which is so dehydrating and makes you thirstier. And by not consuming as much in the way of cooked foods or especially highly processed foods, which have astronomical sodium counts, you won’t be as thirsty either.

By consuming more raw, uncooked food, and pure water and fruit juices, you’re putting your body into balance. Keeping sodium to normal levels found in foods means you’ll start to require a more balanced amount of water. Don’t think of this as changing or taking away. Think of it as adding balance, and it will make the process of eating healthier much easier.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Raw Food And Healthy Skin

Fruit on display at La Boqueria market in Barc...Image via Wikipedia

Did you know that your skin is actually the largest organ in your body? Its job is to provide a protective covering for all the other organs of the body. It changes to regulate your internal body temperature, and is an excellent indicator of your overall health and well-being.

There are people who spend thousands of dollars on lotions, creams and other skin preparations in an effort to make their skin look young, vibrant and glowing. But if we took just a fraction of the money we spend on all these topical preparations and used it to buy raw foods for our diet instead, we’d begin to see an immediate change in the texture of our skin.

When you eat raw foods, you put more of the essential vitamins and amino acids your body needs into it. You’re also adding moisture – naturally. Raw foods have a much higher water content than cooked foods, simply because the heat cooks out so much of the moisture.

Also, if you're eating a lot of cooked and processed foods, you're putting toxins into your body. When you switch to a raw food diet, you'll find that your hair and skin will clear up quickly as your body detoxifies.

Your skin is a mirror of what’s going on in the rest of your body. And when your organs and blood are fed the nutrition they need to function properly, that shows in your skin. Get your vitamins and moisture from foods like apples and carrots. When you do, then phrases like “inner beauty” and “inner glow” will be applied to YOU. Your skin is what’s presented to the rest of the world and healthy, glowing skin makes the best first impression. When your body and skin are getting their essential nutrition with raw, uncooked foods, you’ll look and feel your best, NATURALLY
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How To Start a Raw Food Diet

Getting started on a raw food diet is not all that difficult but does require some attention to your body and to the foods you will be buying and preparing. For some people there really isn’t much preparation involved, while for others there is more. Preparation will basically be a matter of taste and choice.

There are some things you should know about before you switch to a raw food diet. First and foremost, you should talk to your doctor or nutritional advisor for guidance. Switching to a raw food diet will cause your body will go through changes initially and some of those changes could impact your overall health.

A raw diet consists of 75% or more raw foods. But to switch over from a cooked diet to an uncooked diet from one day to the next can actually shock your body, especially your digestive system. For years you have consumed cooked foods and your body has become accustomed to processing those types of foods. As a general rule of thumb for beginners, you should start out gradually, maybe eating only one raw meal a day, and then slowly work your way toward eating raw at each meal.

One very important thing to note is that a raw food diet has a detoxifying effect on the body. Eating raw foods will actually cleanse the body of toxins and your digestion will improve. However, there are some possible side effects as your body adapts to this new raw food diet. You could experience headaches and nausea, as well as a mild depression.  Have no fear as these are only symptoms of your body making adjustments. If these symptoms persist over a long period of time you should decrease the amount of raw food you are consuming and talk to your doctor or nutritionist.

An important part of raw food dieting is to plan your meals. This especially important in the beginning because your body will be craving certain foods as you change your dieting habits. Sugar and salts are a good example of such cravings because our body doesn’t make these on its own but needs them. Many raw fruits and vegetables have natural salts and sugars in them. The point is to monitor your bodily changes and adjust your dieting plan according to your body’s needs.

If you find it difficult to accommodate your body’s needs with the raw foods in your diet plan you might want to consider adding dietary supplements to your diet. Aloe vera gel is a good example of a dietary supplement. However, there are many more supplements available at your local health food store. It is important for you, as you create your raw diet plan, to research raw dieting options. The purpose behind a raw diet is to improve your health, not make it worse.     

Another important point about raw food diets is not to mix it with a cooked diet. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat cooked foods while on this diet. But it does mean that, during a meal, you don’t want to mix them. The reason for this is that cooked foods, when mixed with a raw diet, will neutralize many of enzymes and nutrients in the raw food, basically defeating the whole purpose of being on a raw diet. Also, mixing these two types of diets can actually make your digestive system work harder, again defeating the purpose of the raw food diet.

As you get further along in your raw food diet don’t be afraid to try eating your raw foods in different ways. Some people on raw food diets prefer eating their foods in their natural state and don’t cut or blend. On the other hand, there are some who slice, dice, chop, and even blend their raw foods. It’s all pretty much a matter of personal preference, as neither way diminishes they nutritional value of the food.  There are many raw food diet books with information and recipes to help you make the switch.  Visit RawFood4Life.info for more information.

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Raw Food Vs. Cooked Food - What Happens When We Heat Food

Did you know that human beings are the only creatures on Earth that heat up their food before eating it? Think about it: do you know of any animals that cook anything that they eat in any way, shape or form?  Humans, like other species on Earth, are biologically adapted to eating raw foods. The human body is built to be able to break down raw foods into the most basic nutrients, vitamins, minerals and proteins that are needed to survive, using them as effective body fuel for everyday living. Heat breaks down the chemical and nutritional makeup of food, eliminating important nutrients that our bodies crave and need. Add to that harmful toxins and pesticides, preservatives and artificial additives, and it becomes so much more evident why we humans aren't as healthy as we should be. In essence, we are killing our bodies by feeding them inappropriately.

By contrast, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has many countless benefits. It is widely known that a diet that focuses on raw foods is great for the skin, for example. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins that help your complexion stay soft, supple, and healthy, and, not surprisingly, they are a wonderful source of hydration and energy. In addition, grains, legumes and other raw produce are high in fiber and protein, helping with digestion and functioning of vital organs.

One of the most exciting and significant benefits found in eating uncooked foods is how it encourages the body to break down foods properly and efficiently, significantly decreasing and in some cases eliminating harmful toxins that are secreted out of our bodies. As a result, out bodies are able to maintain much healthier chemical levels. The human body then becomes a well-oiled machine, breaking down harmful chemicals, boosting the immune system and eliminating harmful excesses from the body.

It is no coincidence that conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension have all been linked to dietary habits, which is exactly why it should also come as no surprise that studies show a significant decrease in these illnesses among people who practice raw food and vegan lifestyles. But did you know that scientific studies now show that people who are on raw food and extreme vegan diets are at a lower risk for developing many types of cancers, including breast and colon cancers? Or that they are also at a lower risk of developing heart disease? In addition, those who practice raw food diets are less prone to mental conditions like depression and anxiety, all the while maintaining sharp reflexes and great memory.

These are just some of the ways that the human body is predisposed to the Raw Food lifestyle, and why in the long run it may be beneficial to you to buy raw foods and change your eating habits to a more natural, organic, and ultimately healthier way of living. Visit RawFood4Life.info to find out how you can join the ranks of those who are switching over to the raw food diet and ditching unhealthy eating practices. You will be helping both your body and your mind become the best that they can be.

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Why Should I Eat Raw Food?

Now don’t go getting all squeamish on me. We’re not talking about eating raw meat here. The raw food diet is a largely vegan diet. There is also some room for maneuver in the raw food diet too as the people who support it say that to get the maximum health benefits from the raw food diet you only have to make sure that approximately 75-80% of what you eat needs to be raw.

People who support the raw food diet as a healthy lifestyle argue that foods in their natural state contain the optimum balance of enzymes, vitamins and minerals that we need. They argue that the enzymes contained in raw food - which are killed off by cooking -  help people to digest their food more fully and so derive more nutritional value from it. That places less stress on the body to produce its own digestive enzymes.

Raw food supporters also believe that the cooking we normally do to our food destroys their natural vitamins and minerals and that food takes longer to digest in this cooked, unnatural state. The cooked food therefore hangs around longer in the gut while the body attempts to digest it. The proteins, carbohydrates and fats which have not been fully digested also become waste products. These waste products slow down the food’s transit through the gut, causing constipation, bloating, stomach cancer etc, while the fats tend to clog up the arteries. A raw food diet, which is higher in fiber too, pushes the food more quickly through the gut and there are fewer waste by-products which are left around to cause problems to the body.

Basically, a raw food diet makes your whole digestion process a lot more efficient. It delivers more of the essential vitamins and nutrients which our bodies need and leaves behind fewer waste products which can become harmful to our bodies.

The health benefits of the raw food diet include an increase in energy as your body is maximizing the amount of nutrients it actually gets where it needs it; plus the body has to work less hard in order to process the raw food.

You should find that your skin looks more clear on the raw food diet. That is because your body is taking in fewer toxins which would cause skin eruptions. The raw food diet is a good detox!
Your digestive system will work more efficiently on the raw food diet. Food will pass through the gut more quickly and waste will be expelled regularly. That is great for avoiding health problems like IBS and stomach cancer.

You may also find that you lose weight and manage your weight more effectively on the raw food diet. It is lower in fat that most people’s eating habits. There is less fat hung around in the body to clog up arteries and pile on the pounds. That in turn reduces your risk of contracting heart disease.

All in all, then, you can see that if you eat at least 75% raw food diet foods it will be much better for your health. Visit RawFood4Life.info to find out how you can lessen your risk of serious diseases and generally look and feel better while by following the raw food diet.

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