Tag Archives: raw nutrition


They got me! I confess, I let myself be had!

A thoughtful friend gave me a package of Rhythm SuperFoods Kale Chips. Although the package did not say *raw* on the front, the first line on the back said “These Kale Chips are a raw, delicious and nutrient rich alternative”. I trusted the hype, and ate some of them. Right away, I knew something was wrong (I am a sugar-sensitive, and, since I control, it takes me mere seconds to realize that I have been poisoned). I went to read the ingredients and found that, although this item claims to be raw, it lists “organic cane sugar” as the fifth ingredient (by amount). No kind of sugar is raw (unless you get a piece of raw sugar cane and suck on it). No kind of sugar is healthy http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/is-raw-sugar-healthier-than-refined , unless it derives straight from raw fruit or vegetables.

Please, if you are buying packaged products, read the ingredients listings before you choose something. Companies like Rhythm SuperFoods try to hoodwink folks, and there is apparently no control over companies claiming that their products are raw when, in fact, they contain non-raw ingredients.


YOU NEED YOUR FATS – they just have to be good fats, and in proportion with the rest of your meal

Oh, ho! I’ve been saying all along that you need to eat your fats even when you are on a raw or high-raw vegan diet. Along comes Frederic Patenaude, who has been espousing low-fat for years, saying that he is eating raw nuts and seeds and avocados, and, what’s more, he points you to Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s video, in which the good doctor denounces a diet with only 10% fat as unhealthy (now, I have never gone so far as to say that in writing, but I have told my clients who were having trouble sticking to 80/10/10 that, if they would only add some fat to their diet, they would vanquish the cravings and be able to get on with a healthy raw food diet.

My first personal vindication came when Ani Phyo came out with her 15-Day Fat Blast, in which she suggested a diet which is pretty much 40/30/30 (carbs/protein/fats). Now, Dr. Joel Fuhrman is weighing in on my side. Of course, he Is talking about *healthy* fats, and decrying high animal/trans-fat diets. So? When I say “high fat”, and, even when Dr. Atkins said “high fat”, what is meant is a diet that contains approximately a 40/30/30 ratio (carbohydrates/protein/fat), with the fats being good fats)

Dr. Fuhrman speaks against the Atkins Diet because too many people have conveniently ignored the part in his book where he explains how much protein a person should eat (you are supposed to divide your weight by half – or, conversely, multiply it by .5, and come up with the appropriate number of grams of protein to eat in a day, which is to be divided among 3 meals – and then you figure out what is 10% more than that, and what is the same number of grams of fat, and where they are coming from, i.e., will they already be in your protein source.)  

I have never been good at math, so, since I hit on Atkins, and decided that it would help me, I’ve just made my meals be 30/30/30,and it has worked. Actually, if you are raw, it is almost impossible to eat too much. I started out at 250 lbs. (-so 75gr protein per day).

Wow! That’s a lot of protein!   I did try getting that from raw nuts and seeds, but it was work, so I switched to a dumbed-down version of Atkins called 40/30/30, put out by the Daouds. In that plan, whatever I ate, no matter when, had to be a “meal” containing a 30/30/30 (yes, I stuck with that number) protein/fat/carb mix.) I mean, I could eat just protein if that’s what I wanted to do, but, if I was eating carbs, first I had to eat an equal number of grams of protein before I could enjoy my carbs (the fats tend to come in the protein in raw vegan diet – I mean, when have you met a nut that did not have fats in it?)

Usually, if you eat your proteins first, you aren’t going to want much else, as proteins will fill you up. Fats of the type that you can get on a raw food diet (fats from raw nuts and seeds, avocados, and whatever oils (extra virgin olive oil or raw coconut oil, for example) you add to what you are preparing will help avoid cravings.

Actually, it is really hard to OD on raw carbs or raw fats unless you are preparing those time-consuming fancy designer recipes you see in many raw food recipe books. 2 C of raw spinach are only 4 gr of carbs — 2 CUPS! That is a heck of a lot! Can you eat that much in a salad for lunch or dinner? Even if you combine 1 C of raw spinach with 1 C of cashews, and then spread it on tomato slice for dinner, you are not going to be able to OD in one meal on carbs or fats, even if you add in a raw cabbage/wakame sea-vegetable salad with onions, red bell pepper, garlic, and some extra virgin sesame oil or olive oil.

What is dangerous, in any diet, is figuring that you can eat anything and everything you want.

Atkins has an “induction protocol” which allows 25 grams of carbs in a day. Easy to manage, and stay full/satisfied , if you are eating raw vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, and using extra virgin olive oil  The problem is when people think that they can eat as much protein and fats as they like. For some reason, from the beginning, I have found that eating raw nuts and seeds, and using extra virgin olive oil, tends to fill me up before I can OD. From the beginning of my odyssey (I have taken off more than 100 lbs., and, today, stay around 130 lbs., at 5’9”), I have required myself to eat my carbs (and I am a weird raw vegan, in that I do not really like eating traditional salads) because I know that they contain vitamins and minerals that are good for me. Since I have to eat my protein first, I know that I have to leave room for the stupid vegetables, if I cannot manage to combine them with the protein, so it is really really hard to OD on protein and fats.

Sticking to 40/30/30, or, as I tend to do 30/30/30, for each meal, keeps me on the straight and narrow: keeps me eating healthy (I have to eat my vegetables), and keeps me from OD-ing on anything that would threaten my plan to keep my weight steady. (Okay, I will admit that I have found wondrous ways to combine my carbs with my proteins (I have a dehydrator – I can put or any vegetable in crackers! And I can make all sorts of vegetable/nut pates/burgers). I can make zucchini (or other vegetable) pasta with my spiralizer, and then have pasta-like dishes with cashew-crème sauces or almond marinara sauce.

Yes, you can be a raw vegan even if you think you don’t love vegetables as much as they say you should. The trick to doing it is to avoid the complicated “transition-type” recipes, and stay simple.

I will admit that one of my hobbies is reading raw vegan recipe books – but I recognize that I am not going to spend hours or days preparing a dish.  Okay, I am willing to wait overnight for a batch of crackers, or kale chips, but breakfast and dinner have to be things that can happen within 20 minutes or less. Sometimes breakfast is down to a cashew shake with whatever is on hand, or just plain with some sweetener, done up in my Nutri-Bullet (the VitaMix died and I haven’t been able to afford to get it repaired yet), and lunch is always what I didn’t finish from breakfast plus what I didn’t finish from dinner the night before.

High protein does not mean that you knock yourself out eating lots of protein. It just means that you balance your protein/carb/fat intake. This makes sense if you consider that 1 slice of white bread has 25 grams of carbs – so you have already reached your carb count for the day with just one slice of bread (oh, gosh! but I want some spinach! I want a salad! Think about it!). If you get into eating a lot of dried fruit, you could run into a problem (Oh my gosh! I’ve eaten a lot of carbs, but I can’t figure out how to fit in my protein!) but, if you stick to simple recipe combinations, you will find that it is easy to stay raw and maintain your health and stick to a healthy weight (I’m still at 135 lbs. 18 years later!)


The history of Pretty Smart Raw Food Ideas is directly tied to my first venture into CSAs.  Some years back, I saw an announcement for a CSA a couple of blocks from my home, and I signed up right away.  As CSAs often deliver vegetables folks have never seen before, I began to hear people asking what they should do with what they had received in the box.    Me? Being raw, I just went on-line, found out about the vegetable in question, and then started experimenting.  People started asking me for recipes.  I asked the CSA if we couldn’t have a way to publish recipes for the benefit of the members. They poo-poo’d my idea.  My blog was born the next day, with raw recipes for the vegetables I found in my box. 

Now, I have found  a CSA which allows you to casually  join whenever you find out about it, and allows you to pay by the week.  (I have had to leave that first CSA because they require an up front payment which I could not manage).  I’m telling you this because, if you have thought about a CSA, but didn’t sign up for one in the spring (most CSAs require you to sign up before May), there is a CSA that you can still join.

Corbin Hill Food Project is a CSA that works with local farmers to provide low cost organic vegetables and fruit (and other products, as add-ons), mostly in low-income neighborhoods (that doesn’t mean that you can’t join if you are not low-income – it just means that you might have to travel a bit).  The beauty of this CSA is that you can sign up at any time during CSA season (summer to fall), and, if, for any reason, you cannot receive your share the next week (for example: you will be away, or you can’t afford it), you can put your share on hold, simply by notifying them a week in advance.  If you are interested, please visit Corbin Hill Food Project to find the most convenient location for you to receive your share (I’ll be going to the Community Kitchen and Food Pantry on 116th St in Harlem – it’s familiar to me, and I want to support its programs, and, also, the commute there and back home is reasonable, even if it is not right near my home – heck! Fairway, Costco, and Trader Joe’s involve commutes so it is not really that big of a deal). 

The first deliveries are June 18th and June 19th (depending on your chosen location – I’m set to receive my share on Tuesday, the 18th), and the last day to sign up for that week is June 10th. 

Just saying.

THE RAW FOOD DIET HAS NOT DIED, but it may have stopped being a quick, easy money maker

It is so interesting to me to hear all of these self-proclaimed raw food gurus coming out and saying that they eat cooked food, too, or that they are abandoning the raw food diet.  I’ve even seen some who have decided to give up raw veganism so totally that they are eating meat. Kevin Gianni has just published an article declaring the death of the raw food diet.

A lot of the disenchantment with the raw food diet began to come about when Doug Graham published his 80-10-10 Diet book, appealing to the low-fat diet crowd. 

The main problem with Graham’s idea has always been that we need fats in our diet,  if only to build healthy cell walls.  Fats in the raw vegan diet are good fats.  (Even the AMA has started back-pedaling from the low-fat diet concept)  Raw extra virgin olive oil is nothing but good fat.  Raw nuts and seeds provide good fats made naturally and invented  by God. Fat-phobes find themselves with tasteless food, unless they begin adding sugars (My favorite example is Duke’s Mayonnaise, a natural sugar-free mayonnaise produced in the South.  When the low-fat craze began, Duke’s put out a low-fat version, but, if you check the ingredients, you will see that, while they removed fat, they added a boatload of sugar to compensate for the flavor, so, ultimately, the elimination of fat called for excess sugar/carbs, and calories. I had to educate my Mom on this).  Raw foodists on low fat diets risk getting weird health issues:  I am a sparing eater, and I don’t always throw oil or nuts in my food, and I have found that, if I am not careful, I get all sorts of skin rashes – no applying skin cream on the outside doesn’t help. (Interestingly, in a recent issue of Women’s World, they addressed just this issue, only, instead of suggesting that people include more good fats in their diet, they suggested an Omega 3 oil supplement). Fats, such raw nuts and seeds, or simple extra virgin olive oil, will deliver your omega-3s. Flax seed is loaded with Omega 3. Fats also tend to head off cravings. 

Many of the so-called “gurus”, who have since announced that they are eating cooked food, have touted fancy, complicated, multi-ingredient raw dishes.  Of course, these multi-ingredient, complicated=to-create dishes can be created by personal chefs, but most folks do not have the luxury of a personal chef to come and prepare their food.

Recently, I reviewed a book called Raw Food for Busy People, by Wild Bill Gun.  The book was widely panned by readers because the recipes were so simple that the readers missed the prep instructions “Blend”, “In the Food Processor”, or “Mix”. 

I am from the old school, before designer raw food recipe books. I collect vintage raw food recipe books.  In the old days, people made simple raw food recipes. They had no blenders, food processors, or juicers.  Back in the early 1900s, the only “food processor” was a good knife.. People really ate natural raw food preparations, only processed insofar as the vegetables and/or fruit were cut/sliced/minced with a knife.

With the Internet, it is possible to grow a business quickly. He who shouts loudest receives the most attention.   Folks have been touting their concepts, their methods, and their recipes on-line (or advertising how to get said items) for the past 10 or so years.

Multitudes have signed up to receive raw food information, and, yet, the numbers of people who claim to be raw foodists are dropping.

I would venture to say that the first reason for the drop in interest is that, when your guru is exposed, you lose faith. Those who believed in Viktoria Boutenko’s schtick have lost faith since she admitted she was eating cooked food (I mean, why should I eat raw if the lady who told me to do it is not doing it?).  Frederic Patenaude, with his multitude of followers, has said he eats cooked food (so why should his followers do any different?)  Kristen Suzanne published a number of raw books, and, then, abruptly announced she was going paleo, that raw and vegetarian weren’t working for her, and she was going to eat meat (some folks might want to throw out those poorly formatted books she cranked out)

I am glad that these folks who have been selling their systems are finally telling the truth about their own dietary habits (a while back, I was a member of a raw food group in New York City, in which we reveled in discovering what local “guru” was eating what where) 

At the same time, I am not ready to say the the raw food diet is dead.  I became a raw foodie before it was fashionable, actually, even before I had seen a raw food recipe book: it just seemed like what I should be doing.  I found my first raw food recipe book in the mid-70s.  The recipes were simple, healthy, diet-savvy, and easy to prepare.

I did not know about modern recipes until I was given a recipe book in 1999.  Yes, the recipes there-in were glorious, but what I tended to eat from day to day were the vegetable salads and fruit salads that I had been doing since graduate school, i.e. simple vegetable dishes that I had thought up myself or that I had found in Live Foods, by the Fathmans; Eydie Mae’s Natural Recipes, by Eydie Mae Hunsberger;and Ann Wigmore’s Recipes for Longer Life.

Since I do still follow a raw vegan diet, I cannot agree with Kevin Gianni’s pronouncement that the raw food diet is dead.  What I believe he means is that the market is over-saturated with self-proclaimed gurus who have come out about eating cooked food in order to head off negative commentaries by people who have discovered that these folks eat cooked food, while touting the benefits of a raw food diet. 

It is true that the market is oversaturated with these folks who send you the email equivalent of the TV commercials that announce “But wait! There’s more” and charge exorbitant prices for their short books of recipes. At some point, people begin to be able to read the first few lines of such ads, and know that they are being suckered into paying a lot of money if they click yes.  At the same time, one must consider that there might well be folks who are silently following a raw food diet without laying out major cash to buy into whatever the “gurus” are selling.

Meanwhile, I am still here, eating a raw vegan diet. I do not advertise myself as a guru. People who come to me for nutritional information find that I am knowledgeable about a number of different possible diet ways.  Raw food is the one I practice, and it is very good for healing purposes. On the other hand, I am well-versed in other weight management and health management diets, and, as such, I can suggest what seems to be appropriate with each client.

So, just because Kevin Gianni, Brenda Cobb, Viktoria Boutenko, and Frederic Patenaude, and Kristen Suzanne are now cooking, that doesn’t mean that I have to call the power company and ask them to turn my stove back on.  I will stick with raw food because it has been good for me for many years. (I will admit, I have gone off raw from time to time, but I have always come back, primarily because it feels right, and when I have stopped, I have not felt as good as I did on the raw diet).

If you have newly come to the raw vegan diet, or if you have just heard of it, and have been considering incorporating its ideas in some way into your life-style, please ignore Kevin Gianni’s “make-money-quick-scheme” pronouncements on the raw food diet, as well as those of others who publish the “but wait! there’s more!” raw food diet plans.  The raw food diet should never be about “how to get rich quick”, but, rather, about how to eat in such a way as to enhance your health, prevent illness, and/or enhance your possibilities of healing from illness.


POST #927

Posted on May 25, 2013 by Barbara, The Raw Food Diva

Are you 100 percent raw?
Me saying Shhh are you 100 percent rawI get that question a lot, from both clients and fellow ‘raw foodists’. And my answer is…no. Does that surprise you? Disappoint you? What most raw foodists won’t tell you…but I will, of course, you know me!…is that they’renot eating 100 percent raw food 100% of the time. So they really have no business making you, I or anyone else feel somehow less than perfect for that bowl of rice or any other occasional dip in the ‘cooked food’ pool.If anyone makes you feel less than perfect just as you are, please ignore them. Or remind them that we all have our own paths to travel. And actually to my mind, there’s nothing wrong with having cooked food some of the time, if that means you are a happy person (see below). Nothing!

A gleeful admission…and a celebration

I am quite happy to crow from the rooftops that even though my personal preference isdefinitely raw food all the time (and that’s what I do at home most days), not only do I NOT eat raw 100 percent of the time every single day, but I feel quite happy about it. Why? Because…

Eating 50-80 percent raw works too!

People talk a lot about the benefits of a purely raw diet, but I haven’t heard many people talk about the advantages of ‘almost’. Somehow ‘almost’ is never seen as quite good enough, whereas in my book, it’s pretty darn good. In fact it can be brilliant.

I was 50 when the above photo of me was taken, and that was on 8 years of probably 60-80 percent raw. I increased the amount of raw food as I went along and discovered that the best way for me to progress was to look at the whole thing as a journey, NOT a destination. I started feeling amazing with incredible benefits of energy, skin, stamina, less need for sleep, no aches and pains…and none of that depended on me eating 100 percent raw. That’s why I help people add more raw to their diet but not necessarily all raw (unless that’s what they want), because even an increase can make a big difference.

I now go for long periods of 100 percent and then other periods of maybe 80, even though my personal preference is all raw.

What are the benefits of not eating 100 percent raw?

I personally choose to be flexible, and in fact I advocate this for most people who are living with non-raw family members or friends. Here’s why:

  • I can be relaxed. I don’t have to avoid events, people or places because of the way I would prefer to eat. Yes I do ring in advance and ask for a raw food dish if that’s practical, but sometimes it just isn’t. A few weeks ago I was at an event for entrepreneurs in Berlin and some of us decided to go out for dinner together. I had two choices: either make some compromises at a Thai restaurant while having fun with great people, or find a raw food place and eat alone. You can guess what I chose, right? I had a fabulous time and made some brilliant connections with wonderful people. I just made sure to choose food that I was happy to eat and then went back to all raw the next day.
  • I can be non judgmental, both of myself and of others. You won’t catch me glaring at someone who is ‘paleo’, Weight Watchers or even Atkins…though the last one does make me cringe inside, knowing what I know about the effects of so much meat on the body. However guess what? Even if you were to eat huge steaks dripping in grease (ha ha I couldn’t resist!), I could still be friends with you and we could laugh, party and enjoy each other’s company. I wouldn’t comment on your food choices, but I’d probably pop a big salad, wraps and guacamole on the table in addition to your steak if you came to my house. Then if you asked me what the yummy salad was, I’d tell you the ingredients. If you wanted to know more, I’d share, and if not then I’d keep quiet. Then we’d watch a movie or whatever and enjoy the rest of the evening!
  • I can be experimental. I can taste a super cool Korean dish recommended by a friend, or try out that beautiful looking Indian pudding, and say to myself, “Hmmm, how can I make this raw?” And then of course if I really like it, I can go home and create my own raw version. Then I can blog about it and share it with you!
  • I can be just plain chilled out. I can live in the moment. Now I’ll admit that when you’re experienced enough in raw food preparation (or if you’re happy with very simple foods), it isn’t a big deal to eat 100 percent raw at home, and that is definitely my personal preference. That’s why I have so many fast recipes – I want to eat raw but I don’t want to live in the kitchen! Plus I have teenage children who don’t eat raw all the time, and life is too short to be stressed out and beat myself up because I’m not conforming to someone else’s standard. I have no desire to alienate friends and/or family because they don’t see things as I do. By not forcing my children to eat raw all the time, they are curious, they don’t rebel against it…and they are secretly proud of me (yes kids if you’re reading this, I found you out!)

The stigma and the ‘shame’ of not eating 100 percent raw

A lot of people have this belief that if you aren’t 100 percent ‘raw’, you are somehow flawed, weak, lazy, uneducated, or just plain wrong. In fact the very word choice is interesting…we say ‘I’m raw’ rather than ‘I eat raw food’ as if it were part of our identity. Which it is, of course…but we can be whatever we want to be. We can be raw food lovers, enthusiasts, fans, fanatics…though I tend to steer away from that last one. I don’t think the world needs any more of those!

So what should my aim be?

That’s a fair question. I think you can aim to continue to be a learning, growing human being. Like me. Like many others. So please do NOT beat yourself up if you set yourself a goal of all raw all the time and yet you find yourself going for that bowl of rice with your veggies. I knew a girl who was disappointed in herself because her diet was all raw…apart from the occasional bowl of miso soup!

Set goals that are achievable for you and that make you excited. For example, learn to make one new dish a week. Or invent a new juice every Sunday. Or learn to use a dehydrator. Whatever is appropriate for you and makes you feel like you are learning, growing and having fun.

At least that’s how I see it!

What about you? Have you ever been made to feel like you’re less than perfect because of how you eat? Do you have a completely different viewpoint from me? Let me know in the comments below, it’s all good!

Barbara Fernandez of RawFiesta publishes “Viva La Fiesta!” – a free eZine for raw food lovers worldwide. For FREE tips, tools and recipes visit http://www.RawFiesta.com

TO JUICE OR TO BLEND: What should you do?

POST #922
From time to time, the question of whether we should juice or blend our vegetables comes up.  Recently, I ran into this discussion on LinkedIn, and, contrary to my normal attitude of non-involvement, with a deep sigh, I posted my take on the issue.  Today, after hearing from a couple of the people involved in the discussion, I think that my answer might be useful for those of you who read my blog, so, without further ado, here you have it:

As long as I have been connected with the “modern” vegetarian/vegan/raw vegan world (I only came to know that there were other raw vegans, after 25 years of doing it on my own with Ann Wigmore’s and the Fathmans’ books) I have seen the arguments about juicing vs. blending (actually, when I was about 12, I heard this kind of thing at a state fair at a VitaMix demo) There are valid arguments on both sides, and, as I see it, everything depends on what you are after. If you are looking for a nice drink that has a lot of vitamins, juicing is the way to go. If you are looking to drink your vegetables (whether as a way to consume more vegetables in short order, a diet meal substitute, or a way to seek nutrition while dealing with a chewing or swallowing disorder) then blended vegetables/smoothies are the way to go.
Sometimes, you will just want a serious dose of juice (and you can use the pulp/fiber from the juicing in other dishes (I add the pulp to crackers/breads, salads, and soups), and sometimes you just want to drink your vegetables/fruit along with the fiber (I prefer the above-mentioned two-step method, personally, but on occasion I do smoothies)
There is no one right way, as I see it, as long as you own a juicer as well as a blender.

COCONUT OIL – not the villain it was once thought

POST #919
Not too long ago, coconut oil was vilified as being too high in fat, a saturated fat bad for health.  Now, though, even the AMA is back-peddling in its stance against dietary fats.  The continued rise in obesity and Type II diabetes, despite an emphasis on low-fat diets, as well as the rise in “new” illnesses, allergies, and sensitivities, seems to indicate that a low-fat diet may not, in fact, be the silver bullet.  The AMA seems to have decided that there are “good fats” and we should be getting them in our diet, in order to remain healthy (something I have never doubted).  Suddenly, across the board, people are beginning to recall that dietary fats are necessary for the creation of cell walls, keeping skin in good condition from the inside out, and controlling cravings, among other things.

What does this mean to us in the raw food world?  Well, if you’ve been worried about fat, and, perhaps, even trying to maintain a low-fat raw vegan diet, you can relax.  You can re-acquaint yourself with avocados and raw nuts and seeds, as well as oils.

Enter coconut oil.  It is a saturated fat, yes, but if you’re getting organic virgin coconut oil, all the fat is natural and is good for you.  Heck, Dr. Oz, and Oprah both agree.  Now it seems that coconut oil can even improve brain function. Make way for the latest candidate in the superfood arena.

KALE – I love Kale!
(got this from rawforbeauty.com)


DRINKING WATER AT THE CORRECT TIME – who knew there were rules?

POST #905
Now, this is interesting. Who knew there were times to drink water. I thought it was just all about drinking water. Who knew there were rules?