Tag Archives: RAW POLITICS


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.



POST #999
Next on my to-read list:
Idealism Meets Greed – How the raw food movement ruined my life
By Dr. Jim Carey, Ph.D.

In 2010, Jim Carey, a quiet mover in the raw vegan world, was sued, along with Creative Health Institute, by the Ann Wigmore Foundation (AWF), for using the deceased Dr. Ann Wigmore’s name, which AWF claims to have exclusive permission to use, and for which they claim to have a registered trademark.

Unfortunately, Jim lost in the suit (and, as far as I can see, AWF didn’t win – How many of you have ever heard of them?).  It seems that AWF took their winnings, which included Jim’s very popular raw foods lifestyle program, and ran everything into the ground in New Mexico.

As part of the legal settlement, Jim was banned, by a no-compete clause, from publishing or speaking on raw food topics for 3 years. As a result, he had to turn down dozens of job offers, as well as requests for help from friends.

Ahh! At last, the three-year gag order has expired! Jim has now written an expose on the raw food world and its gurus, as only someone in his position can do. He has worked with the people raw foodists come into contact with often (on websites, in emails, or in trainings), and, with his unique insight, having been turned on by an organization which he helped develop, and then left, in order to pursue his own way of bringing the raw food lifestyle to a broader awareness, he has a lot to say.

As I had the opportunity to exchange ideas often with Jim during his raw food education career (I was privileged to take his distance training, which, with copious printed material and a stack of DVDs, was probably the most thorough distance – or even “in person” – education on raw food lifestyle that has ever been issued), I am looking forward to seeing what he has to say in his expose (when I chatted with him back in the day, we’d occasionally talk about this or that “raw guru”.. mostly, he’d just listen to my take, but occasionally he’d let drop that he didn’t think my attitude was off-base).

I’ve missed that camaraderie over the past 3 years, but I didn’t know what his legal arrangement had stipulated he could or could not say even to close buddies, so, when I have had the chance, I’ve just chatted with him about his new endeavors (The man does not stop! Can’t do this? Go excel at something else!).

Will Jim come back to us? I can only hope.., but, at least, he has decided to reveal his experience in and take on the world of raw food gurus, to be released on March 1, 2014. I will be first in line to grab his book. It should be a moment to remember.

For more information about this new book, go to Jim’s website:


HOW TO AVOID GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS  If you are shopping on a budget, then you may consider including non-organic items in your shopping cart.  The more information you have, the better judgement calls  you can make.

top ten gmo mythsTHE TOP 10 GMO MYTHS from eatlocalgrown.com

HISTORY OF THE RAW FOOD DIET: a “fad” that’s been around longer than cooking

POST #993

 Despite what you have been told by certain “authorities”, the raw vegan diet is no fad.  It has been going on since time immemorial, and has been written about and taught (just in America) for almost 200 years.

Before fire, all food was raw. Yes, it’s true; the cavemen followed, for want of a better term, a Paleolithic diet. 

The first real food fad was probably “fired food,” that burned in fire; i.e., once humans figured out how to control fire, and found out that fire changed the taste of food, and/or made some of it easier to chew, people started working out cooked food recipes and sharing them with friends, who might have been wary at first of this new food fad.  Once people found out that cooked food could be held a bit longer without spoilage than raw food could, the new fashion of putting food into, or above, or under a fire took off like, well, wildfire.

 At some point, people also learned how to intentionally grow vegetables, rather than just looking for wild-growing vegetables.

 Somewhere along the line, people discovered that, if they covered foodstuffs with salt, they could preserve them.

 People just started getting more and more clever about what to do with the food they could get their hands on, and started developing their own recipes, often with secret ingredients which they refused to share with those who admired their recipes (This is one tradition which has lasted into modern times).

Refrigeration was a great boon to mankind.  Our forefathers could rarely lay their hands on fresh meat or fresh raw vegetables simply because such things went bad very quickly.  Initially, most people hunted fowl, deer, squirrels, rabbits,  and other game for fresh meat.  Once farm animals were domesticated,  farmers might raise an extra cow or two for meat, but, after they had slaughtered a cow, they had to work fast to use that meat before it putrified.  Hence the early prohibitions, in religious texts, against eating the flesh of certain beasts – the meat from those animals was simply too difficult to preserve for any amount of time, and the propagators of those religions saw an advantage in preserving the lives of believers.

 Most people ate a primarily vegetarian diet simply because it was easier to get their hands on fresh or preserved (pickled/fermented/cultured) vegetables, fruit, and grains than on fresh or reliably preserved meat.

Many believe that, in what is now Israel, the Essene community, a Hebrew sect, observed a vegetarian diet.  This diet has been deduced from information in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are said to date to over 2000 years ago (This idea was popularized by Edmund Bordeaux Szekely, in his cult-favorite book, “The Essene Gospels of Peace”).

It has been said that, in the 4th Century BC, Pythagoras requested that his followers eschew meat, as he believed that following a diet of raw vegetables and fruit was the best way to maintain a healthy body and develop and maintain mental acuity.

It is also said Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, recommended a live vegan diet for healing purposes.  

Fast forward to America in the 19th Century. 

In the 1820s, Sylvester Graham , the very same fellow who developed graham bread, the precursor of the modern graham cracker, as a health food,  firmly advocated a high raw vegan diet.  Under his tutelage, “grahamites” opened boarding houses where those who wished to follow Graham’s  nutritional recommendations could live among others of like mind, and be served meals which followed Graham’s nutritional dictates. Graham was an early proponent of concepts which were later incorporated into the idea of food-combining, or Natural Hygiene.

 In the early 1900s, in California, Arnold Ehret, a German immigrant to the U.S. began espousing his Mucusless Diet System, recommending a transition from cooked foods to a raw fruitarian diet.

The first American raw vegan restaurant was opened in Los Angeles, California, in 1917.  Its owners, John and Vera Richter, named it “The Eutropheon”, after the Greek word for “good nutrition”.  The Richters held weekly lectures on raw veganism, and Vera Richter wrote “Mrs. Richter’s Cook-Less Book (possibly the first raw vegan recipe book in America, published in 1925).  Among the Richters’ followers were the Hollywood actress, Greta Garbo, and, also, Paul Bragg, who went on to become a natural health advocate, and provider of natural raw vegan products. (The restaurant remained popular into the 1940s).

Herbert Shelton, an early 20th Century chiropractor and naturopath became interested in the 19th Century works of Sylvester Graham.  His first book, An Introduction to Natural Hygiene, published in the 1920s, revived interest in Sylvester Graham’s earlier work.  Shelton became known as the father of the modern natural hygiene movement.

 In 1945,  Kristine Nolfi, a Danish physician, after curing herself of cancer by observing a raw vegan diet,  opened Humlegaarden, a sanatorium for the treatment of cancer through raw food diet.

 In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, John Martin Reinecke, a California horticulturist, lectured on the benefits of a 100% raw food diet, and published “Adventures in Raw Food”, a monthly magazine column.

In the 1960s, A.T. Hovanessian published his Raw Eating (it has been alleged that Stephen Arlin, David Wolfe, and Fouad Dini,  in their book Nature’s First Law broadly plagiarized material from this book. Hovanessian also claims that Reinecke plagiarized his work in a 1965 article for Live Life magazine.)

 Ann Wigmore, a Lithuanian immigrant to America, whose name has become synonymous with the “modern” raw vegan movement, experimented with natural healing ideas in the 1950s to rid herself of various health concerns.  In 1956, she opened a small sanatorium on her farm. Initially, Wigmore espoused a vegetarian diet, but she eventually graduated to the raw vegan diet she is best known for. She was also a proponent of proper food combining, aka Natural Hygiene. In 1961, she teamed with another Lithuanian immigrant, Viktoras Kulvinskas, to open Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston.  After Brian Clement acquired the rights to the name Hippocrates Health Institute in the 1980s, Wigmore continued her clinic under the name Ann Wigmore Foundation.

In 1967, George and Doris Fathman published Live Foods, based on their exposure to Arnold Ehret’s Natural Hygiene ideas, as well as J.M. Reinecke’s teachings.

In 1969, John Tobe published the No-Cook Book.

In 1970, TC Fry became interested in Natural Hygiene, developed a series of lessons, and began lecturing on Natural Hygiene.

 In 1975, Viktoras Kulvinskas published Survival into the 21st Century, which helped popularize Ann Wigmore’s ideas, and introduced to a large market the concepts of food combining and raw foods.

Brian Clement became involved with the Hippocrates Health Institute in the 1970s.  In the late 1970s, he worked at Humlegaarden in Denmark. He returned to the Hippocrates Health Institute, where he became the director in 1980. After Clement acquired the rights to the name Hippocrates Health Institute, he moved his operation to Florida.

In 1985, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond’s book, Fit for Life was released by a major publisher, bringing the ideas of Natural Hygiene and raw food to a larger audience than ever before.

The raw food movement has been growing ever since.  With the Internet’s ease of communication, the idea has spread world-wide.  The availability of more modern appliances has encouraged folks to become very creative, indeed, with raw vegan recipes. 

Of course, with such widespread information sharing, it is just as easy to find folks who have become disenchanted with the raw vegan diet. Among those who have made big names for themselves in raw vegan marketing, a number do seem to be renouncing, and even denouncing, raw food, or a 100% raw diet, possibly as a way to move their marketing in some other direction.  A few years back, I heard Brenda Cobb announce that a summit of raw food leaders had met and decided that  100% raw was no longer  a logical goal, and to only recommend 50-75% raw.  I was a bit surprised, since there has never been any requirement anywhere for anyone to be 100% raw.  Still, to hear such a pronouncement, and, lately, to hear such “raw food names” as Kevin Gianni and Frederic Patenaude boldly announce that “raw food is dead”, and that the “raw food fad” is over and done with seems a bit strange to me.

 I went raw in 1974, and I don’t see any reason to stop now.



Is the raw food diet dead?  This is a concept that several people who have, up to now, styled themselves as “raw food gurus” are espousing.  Frederic Patenaude, one of the biggest names out there, raw food-wise, has announced that the raw vegan diet is a fad that has passed.  Brenda Cobb announced, in a workshop I attended a few years ago that, at a “summit” of raw food “authorities”, it had been decided that it was not necessary to go all raw. Kevin Gianni, another self-styled public “raw food guru” has announced that “raw food is dead”.

In my experience, a raw vegan diet is a personal issue.  You can be 100% raw vegan, or you can be 90%, or 50%  or working on getting 25 % raw food into your diet.

If you want to be a vegetarian or vegan, you can still include raw food into your diet, to make it healthier.  If you are a meat-eater, and don’t plan to stop, you can still include more raw vegetables in your diet to enable your body to absorb more nutrients from the vegetables you eat (how hard is it to include a salad?)

I’ve been raw vegan or mostly raw vegan for over 30 years.  As far as I know, when I started, it was not a fashion.  I started just because I was on the broke side, and, as a graduate student, I didn’t have much time to prepare food, and I found that I could make what I called a “progressive salad”, i.e., chopped cabbage, onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, kelp powder, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar, and eat of it as I wished, then put the leftovers in the refrigerator, and add to them the next day – these salads went on for about 4 days, and then I added hot water and made soup to finish it all up.

In the 70s, I found a book by the Fathmans called Live Foods. I took that home and learned a couple of other things I could do with raw foods.  I still didn’t think much about it. It was just food.  I discovered Viktoras Kulvinskas’s book, Living in the 21rst Century, and, from there, found Ann Wigmore’s writings.  In those days, this was a catch-as-catch-can process – there was no Internet, and all you could find was whatever popped up in Yes Bookstore in Georgetown, in Washington, DC.

I found out about “modern raw food recipes” in 1999.  Wow! More stuff to make to eat!  I was delighted, and bought my first food processor, then a Champion juicer, then a high speed blender (I had always wanted a VitaMix from the time I saw one in a state fair when I was about 10). I used made all sorts of inventive recipes, but, you know what?  More often, I still made the food that I had always made.  That was my comfort food. 

Fast forward to now: I have a dehydrator now, as well as a Cuisinart food processor, the same 1975 vintage Champion juicer, and a Nutri-Bullet (the VitaMix actually died after 10 years of faithful service, right on time, when the warranty I had expired).  From time to time, I will make crackers or chips or bread in the dehydrator. I also dehydrate vegetables I don’t like that come in my CSA box, and I make green powder of them, to use in soups, or as seasoning.  I dehydrate leftovers that I know I am not going to eat anytime soon, so I can rehydrate them later.  The three things in my kitchen that get a lot of use are the Champion juicer, the food processor, and my good old Chinese stainless steel cleaver, which has been with me forever.

I’m still raw.  A few years ago, I started collecting old raw vegan recipe books. I now have the oldest one anyone remembers, from the 1920s, as well as several others, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s.

As far as I am concerned, raw food is not dead, and it is not a fad.

Okay, there has been the raw food “phenomenon” which started up in the late 1990s, and which may well be burning out.

There used to be some raw food groups here in New York City, and I used to hang out with them, at potlucks.  I never asked  anyone “how raw are you?” because I just didn’t care.  It has never been a contest with me. It has just been what I eat.  I did think it was kind of fun when folks dished on local “raw food gurus”, reporting sightings of said “personalities” exiting Thai restaurants, or what-not.  Still, I have never succumbed to the allure of any raw food guru, so nothing ever changed for me, regardless of what “So-and-So” had been seen doing.  I have always told everyone who asks that I am 95% raw 100% of the time. That is because I cannot promise that you will not see me eat something that is not raw.  I haven’t done it in recent history, but I am not going to say that I don’t do it, because I might, if I get a notion.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that, if you want to go raw, do it. Just because the fad may have passed does not mean that a raw food diet is not good. 

You may become more interested in nutrition and investigate the different raw food schools. 

The most recent raw food school has been the low fat diet. (As a nutritionist, I see that this approach is what has caused a lot of people to ditch the raw food diet, because they get too many cravings.  Fat is necessary in the human diet. There are good fats and there are bad fats. If you are eating a raw vegan diet, there are simply no bad fats to be had.  Raw nuts and seeds provide protein. Avocados provide all sorts of good things.  Fats are necessary for the building of healthy cell walls (Since the AMA started advocating a low-fat diet, we have seen a rise in here-to-fore unknown diseases, sensitivities, and allergies.  In the past few years, the AMA has begun  serious back-peddling about fat in the diet.

Some say that salt should be avoided. (I am a low-salt person by nature – I never put salt on my food when I lived at home, and, when I moved away, at first, I didn’t have salt in my apartment (until people who came over for dinner kept asking for it – then I got a shaker-ful of salt)  Still, I would not say that you should not use salt in your food (sea salt, or natural salt, provides a lot of health benefits).   Although I rarely put salt in my food, I do recognize that it is an important ingredient for health (I get most of my salt from fermented vegetables, actually).

Some will say that you should not use strong herbs and spices.  I’m sorry. Strong herbs and spices, such as garlic, cumin, and red pepper are proven, in herbology, to be good for you.  If you don’t like them, don’t use them, but don’t decide that they are not food for you just because some self-styled “guru” has dissed them.   If you desire them, then it is probably that they bring some needed element into your diet.  As a nutritionist, an herbologist, a Bach (and other) Flower Therapy practitioner, and an herbalist, I have found that natural herbs and spices that you are attracted to tend to be things that bring certain properties into your system. (if you come to eat at my house, your food will not have much salt in it, but it will be brilliant with garlic, cumin, cilantro, and onion).  The folks who guide you to avoid such edibles are most likely folks who do not tolerate them well (For example: I cannot stand mango. I understand that this is a systemic issue within my own personal body.  I do not tell other people not to eat mango, because this mango sensitivity is my own.  Mango is known to have great nutritional value. The fact that I cannot eat it does not mean that you should not).   Another example would be that, in my family, only my grandfather liked hot sauce.  I like hot sauce (to the point that I have learned to make my own hot sauce, so I can control the ingredients). Many people do not like hot sauce.  There is something in hot sauce that attracts certain individuals. That is a nutritional or constitutional thing.  Just because you do not like hot sauce does not mean that it is a bad thing.

Now, if you are interested in incorporating raw food in your diet, that is a good thing.  In real life, there is no rule that says that you have to become 100% raw tomorrow..

Nutrition-wise, it is a good idea to incorporate as much raw food into your diet as you can. So… can you incorporate 25% raw food into your diet? (that would be a salad with dinner). Can you incorporate 50% rawfood into your diet (hey! Coleslaw and a salad with dinner). Can you incorporate 75% raw food in your diet? (Now you would be seriously into the idea.)  

Raw Diet Lives: Jinjee Talifero’s take

POST #981
Many thanks to Jinjee, a long-time raw foodist, at JinjeeTalifero.com for picking up the ball where I left it in my previous post on the supposed death of the raw food diet, tentatively titled here “The Death of “If I Can’t Keep Up My Raw Diet, That Means You Can’t Either” or “My Raw Does’t Work So You Should Quit, Too”.

Jinjee has thought things out in different ways than I did when I posted my reaction to Kevin Gianni’s post, and Frederic Patenaude’s subsequent post on RenegadeHealth.com.  Her reasoning is very sound.

I’ll come back and weigh in on this issue again when I have time to organize my thoughts and write something really profound, or, at least, cogent, and not just another knee-jerk reaction.

For now, I will say that I echo the truth in Jinjee’s statement: “If we did not have egos I can’t imagine that this article would have been of the remotest interest to anyone!”


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.


POST #881
Do you ever get tired of seeing these people who have for years posited themselves as the gurus of raw food lifestyle now telling you that they are not 100% raw and, because it’s them doing it, it’s all good?

These folks (I’m not mentioning names) have been so holier than thou for so long, telling you , me, and whoever else, how they follow a 100% raw diet, and now they are suddenly recanting.

It all makes me feel good – I have never sworn to you that I am 100% raw, because I know that once I do, I’ll get a hankering for something and eat it and get caught on someone’s cellphone camera.  I may suddenly decide to keep that broccoli from the CSA (I do not like raw broccoli much), and steam it with some Thai green curry paste.  The thing is, I have never told anyone I am 100% raw – rather, I say I am 95% raw because I cannot guarantee what I might decide to do for 20 minutes in 5 months.  I’ve been 95% raw for over 30 years now – most years it’s been 100% raw, but, once in a while, I want to “be bad”, or just do what I want to do. I won’t deny it.  I am a human.  The thing is, I don’t beat myself up if I do it, and I tend to go right back to what I know I like and what makes me feel good/healthy/thin (well, heck! I’m really used to raw food at this point).

The primary reason that most people stray from raw is “fat craving”.  Going into a raw food diet with a mindset from the SAD diet that fat is bad can cause problems. If you are eating a *healthy* diet of any sort, your body needs fats to form the walls of the cells which compose it. The low-fat craze may well be a primary cause of many modern diseases, allergies, and food sensitivities.   In the raw living food diet, fats from avocados and raw nuts and seeds, and extra virgin olive and coconut oil  provide a certain element to the diet which helps people avoid cravings for cooked food and/or junk food.

Another important factor in a successful raw vegan diet is adequate protein. The self-same raw nuts and seeds which provide good fats in the diet also provide protein.  Sprouts also provide much-needed protein, in addition to vitamins and minerals.  The 80/10/10 diet,  requiring limited protein intake, has been a major cause of people abandoning the raw vegan diet, as their bodies crave protein, the building block for body tissues.

Vitamin deficiencies can also drive people to crave cooked foods.  Those who understand the edict in Genesis to “eat of the fruit of the fields” to mean to eat only fruit make a grave mistake.  The fruit of the field, technically, are anything grown in the field (yes, I believe that that could include root vegetables). Even if we want to adhere to things grown above ground, the fruit of the filed would include anything with seeds in it.  Pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers… all such things are fruit.  Sprouts are also fruit.

Sugar is another thing that can insidiously bring disaster to a raw food diet.  We are told that this or that sugar is okay. We blindly believe that the newest “sugar” is okay and we can consume it to our hearts’ content.  We blithely ignore that *processed* food products *are* processed.  They tell us that palm sugar is good, and we buy it, and we think that it is going to be okay to use it as much as we like.  Sorry, folks! Sugar is still sugar.  It doesn’t bring us vitamins or minerals, and it stimulates the pancreas to send out insulin to remove it from the blood stream.  “Designer” raw recipes often include sugar in one form or another, much as most Japanese food is laced with “mother’s taste” (sugar).    We think that, because our recipes are made with live foods, the sugar doesn’t count.   This idea is all wrong – processed sugar, regardless of where it comes from, requires extra effort to process in the body.  Furthermore, sugar of any kind will kick off a reaction in sugar-sensitive (sugar addict) people.  You just want more. With sugars robbing your body of vitamins and minerals, you’re setting up a recipe for disaster.

I am grateful for the time I spent working in a hypnosis weight-loss clinic.  While I was there, I was inspired to study nutrition.  More important than that, the advice that I gave my hypnosis clients was filtered through my own head, and reached my subconscious (let’s call it second-hand smoke).

I’ll get an urge to make a pie, and buy dates to make the crust, and, perhaps, even sweeten the pie filling.  Fortunately, because of the high protein value in the pie crust (at least), I will become sated before I can eat the entire pie.  More fortunately, the effect of hypnosis reminds me that I don’t want sugary foods, and I tend to forget that the rest of the dates are sitting on the shelf.

All of the wonderful books that tell us how to make raw vegan desserts are primarily aimed at folks who are transitioning to a raw food diet.  At the same time that they give us wonderful recipes with which to duplicate the things a raw vegan would otherwise avoid, they also make food preparation look daunting, i.e. it takes quite a while to make most of those recipes.

I guess I am lucky that I came across the idea of the raw food diet before food processors and dehydrators, so, although I do now own these things, I tend to rely more on the simple foods I started out with (do you realize that 3-day wheat sprouts are VERY SWEET – AS SWEET AS SUGAR?)

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t expect anyone to go 100% raw right away.  I think that, if you can go 25% raw today, that is good.  If you can go 50% raw soon, that is good.  If you can go 80% raw, that is fantastic.  If you get to 100% raw, just remember all of these things that I have said.

If you think, as even Dr. Oz recommends, that more raw is better, do it.  Just do it consciously.  Take a multi-vitamin (I do).  Consume enough protein and fats  (I think a 40/30/30 split is good – Ani Phyo’s diet book comes down on this side – 40% carbohydrates – that is anything that isn’t fat or protein, 30% protein, and 30% fats – that *is* how I took off 100lbs without feeling it!)  If you cannot figure out how to get enough protein into your diet, then do a protein shake at least once daily (you’ll have to experiment here – the raw protein shakes tend to taste like dirt, but , if you can find a protein shake that works for you, even if it is not raw, then it can be your 10-20% not raw).

The raw living food diet has been around for a very long time.  My oldest recipe book was written in the 1920s by one of the owners of the first raw food restaurant in America.  The early raw recipe books are not as strict as the “gurus” we have today have mandated and, now, are recanting.  In those early days, very often, the recipes included dairy and eggs.  You must be prepared to make your own choices as to how raw you want to go and what you want to include in your diet.  Many people are sensitive to dairy (I am allergic to the protein in milk, so that is off the list no matter what).   If you think raw salmon is okay, as John Tobe recommended in his No-Cook Book in the 1960s, that is up to you.  If you are a vegan or a vegetarian because you do not want to exploit other living beings, then the raw vegan diet will be much easier for you.

Regardless of how you choose to eat, please know that the American Medical Association (AMA) now recommends the inclusion of 50% or more raw foods in your daily food intake.