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Raw energy: who says food that's delicious and healthy has to be cooked? (includes recipes)

Vegetarian Times
June 1998

In the midst of the tiny Maui beach town of Paia, where palm trees sway in ocean breezes and streets are lined with charming buildings of turquoise, pink and green, you'll find the Raw Experience restaurant. Inside, artwork of vegetables, fruits and edible flowers adorn the walls, and amid the pleasant hum of conversation, a mix of tourists, beachgoers and neighborhood residents linger at wooden tables over heaping plates of delicious local cuisine. This could be any scene in any restaurant in any idyllic beach community. Except for one thing: Nothing served here -- not the soups, the pasta, tostadas, falafel or even the fruit pies -- is cooked. Where most restaurants put stoves, Raw Experience co-owners Jeremy Safron and Renee Underkoffler (pictured left) have installed sprouting racks, juicers, fermenting crocks and dehydrators.

The Raw Experience is at the forefront of a diet movement based on raw or living foods -- and Safron and Underkoffler are dedicated to spreading the word. While raw foodists often use the terms "raw" and "live" interchangeably, there are distinctions. "Raw" simply refers to fruits and vegetables in their uncooked state. "Live" refers to fermented, cultured and sprouted foods.

Tapping into the trend, a number of all raw and partially raw-foods restaurants have sprung up around the country. There's the recently opened Ozone in New York City, Delights of the Garden in Washington, D.C., Karyn's Fresh Comer in Chicago, and in California (ever the leader in healthful eating), there's the San Francisco-based offshoot of Raw Experience and Garden Taste in Del Mar. Plus, the movement has sprouted support groups and prompted plenty of Internet activity (see Resources, p. 46). "Raw food is the hip thing now," raves Aris La Tham, a 22-year raw foodist and owner of Sun Fired, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Spearheaded in the early 1970s by the late Ann Wigmore, M.D., founder of the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico, and Viktras Kulvinskas, author of Survival into the 21st Century (21st Century Publications, 1975), the raw/living foods movement is all about conserving metabolic enzymes. Enzyme preservation is the secret to health, states Wigmore in her book The Hippocrates Diet (Avery, 1984).

Our bodies produce a finite number of enzymes, according to biochemist and nutrition researcher Edward Howell, M.D., whose book Enzyme Nutrition: The Food Enzyme Concept (Avery Publishing, 1985) is considered the bible of the raw-foods movement. Cooked food, he says, is devoid of enzymes (heating to above 112 degrees, which is well below normal cooking temperatures, destroys enzymes) and therefore requires the body to expend metabolic enzymes for digestion. This depletes the body's reserves and, Howell claims, causes us to age faster and succumb more easily to disease. Raw food, however, retains these precious enzymes; they aid in the digestion process, allowing the body to conserve its enzyme stores and thus maintain good health more readily. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., author of Conscious Eating (Vision Books, 1992) and founder of the Patagonia, Ariz.-based Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, which specializes in live-food orientated health programs, says, "A properly balanced diet of live foods is the best diet for enhancing the rejuvenation and anti-aging process." And many devotees claim going raw boosts their energy and alertness.

Underkoffler shrugs off the suggestion that raw dining is just the latest diet trend in a long line of flash-in-the-pan food fads. "For some people it's definitely a fad," she says simply. "But whatever gets you into it, after a while, you can't deny the changes."

Does this mean that the road to wellness is paved with crudites and fruit salads? Hardly, say the raw foodists. Although fresh fruits and vegetables are obvious staples, this diet offers plenty of delicious, satisfying variety, including breads, soups and desserts. In their book, The Raw Truth (Raw Truth Press, 1997), Safron and Underkoffler outline four main food categories and suggest choosing mainly from the fresh and sprouted food groups (which contain the most nutrients), then rounding out your meals with a balanced selection from the rest.

* Fresh foods are raw fruits and vegetables. They have a high water content, which aids in digestion, and are packed with nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and E.

* Sprouted foods, like wheatgrass, alfalfa sprouts and sprouted almonds, are seeds, grains and nuts that have been moistened with water and have begun to grow into a plant. They are a rich source of chlorophyll, amino acids and proteins, all of which help regenerate cells and boost immunity.

* Dehydrated foods, such as Essene bread (a sprouted and dehydrated flatbread) or dried fruits and vegetables, have their water evaporated by the sun or a dehydrator, making them concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals.

* Fermented and cultured foods contain live cultures, such as acidophilus or koji, which fill the intestinal tract with friendly bacteria for fast assimilation and digestion. These include kim chee (a condiment of pickled and fermented vegetables), and amazake (a fermented sweet rice beverage).

Raw fare can be so inventive you may not even miss the cooked stuff. Indeed, raw foodists have devised ingenious recipes for soups, breads and pizzas. But while some advocates claim the health benefits kick in only if one's diet is completely raw, others maintain that some cooked food can be a good balance. Cousens recommends maintaining a diet that's between 5 percent and 20 percent cooked. He advises starting with an 80-20 ratio of raw to cooked foods, then increasing your raw intake after your body has adjusted.

Making the transition from cooked foods to raw, according to advocates, is not as difficult as one might think. However, it must be done gradually, over about a year, to avoid shocking your system and triggering an intense detoxification process. Detox symptoms -- headaches, bad breath and excess gas -- are common when starting a raw-foods diet. "These symptoms are due to a buildup of toxins from the standard American diet," says Valerie Simonsen, N.D., who has a naturopathic practice in Maui, Hawaii. "The toxins prevent the digestive system from working optimally. As the body clears the toxins, the raw foods are more easily absorbed and assimilated, leading to better digestion and greater overall health."

People integrate raw foods into their lives in different ways. Some commit to it 100 percent; others choose to go raw one day a week or during the summer. Raw Experience chef, Vicki Sorenson, recommends going raw by means of displacement: "If you have a huge salad, you're not going to have room for tofu and rice." For Karyn Calabrese, owner of Karyn's Fresh Corner in Chicago, going raw was a 30-year food journey -- from meat eater to vegetarian to vegan to raw foodist. She says the most important thing to remember is to go peacefully, one step at a time.

Whether you want to switch to an all-raw diet or just sample some great new dishes, the following recipes from Raw Experience can help you out.

Renee's Sprouted Wild Rice Salad

6 SERVINGS DAIRY-FREE

This one-dish meal is a blend of nutty-tasting sprouted wild rice, fresh corn kernels and sweet bell pepper.

2 1/2 cups uncooked wild rice

1 cup diced red bell pepper

1 cup fresh corn kernels

2/3 cup chopped green onion

1 cup diced avocado or 3 Tbs. organic

cold-pressed olive oil

4 Tbs. minced fresh parsley or cilantro

3 Tbs. maple syrup

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 Tbs. Bragg Liquid Aminos

(see glossary, p. 95)

Mixed greens (optional)

Soak rice in filtered water to cover 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse. Stand at 45-degree angle in a screen- or mesh-covered large jar. Do not let rice cover mouth of jar. Rinse mornings and evenings for 3 days or until grain has split and is soft.

In large bowl, combine sprouted rice, bell pepper, corn, green onion, avocado and herbs. Toss to mix.

In small bowl, mix maple syrup, lemon juice and liquid aminos until well blended. Add to rice mixture and toss to coat. Cover and let stand for flavors to develop, 1 to 2 hours. Serve over mixed greens if desired.

Per serving: 344 cal.; 12g prot.; 6g total fat (1g sat. fat); 65g carb.; 0 chol.; 344mg sod.; 7g fiber.

Nut "Milk Shake"

4 SERVINGS DAIRY-FREE

A frosty nondairy drink made with frozen bananas, soaked nuts and dates.

3/4 cup almonds, soaked 2 to 8 hours or

3/4 cup cashews, soaked 1 to 2 hours

4 dates, soaked 1 to 2 hours (save

soak water)

3 to 4 peeled frozen bananas

3 cups cold filtered water or apple juice

Optional flavorings:

1 tsp. nonalcoholic vanilla extract

2 Tbs. raw carob powder

A few fresh berries

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

In Blender, combine nuts, dates and water or juice until smooth. Break frozen banana into pieces, add to mixture and blend until smooth. Add one or more optional flavors if desired. Pour into glasses.

Per serving: 277 cal.; 6g prot.; 14g total fat (1g sat. fat); 38g carb.; 0 chol.; 4mg sod.; 6g fiber.

Pesto Soup

6 SERVINGS DAIRY FREE 30

This chilled, savory blend of fresh, ripe tomatoes, herbs and veggies is a great starter for any meal, and can be on your table in no time.

1/2 cup chopped tomato

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 small clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup shredded beet

1/4 cup pine nuts (see glossary, p. 95)

3/4 cup fresh basil, loosely packed

2 Tbs. Bragg Liquid Aminos

(see glossary, p. 95)

1 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar

(optional)

2 to 3 cups water or as necessary

Fresh basil leaves for garnish

(optional)

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor, and process until finely chopped but not smooth. Divide among serving bowls. Garnish with basil leaves if desired.

Per serving: 61 cal.; 3g prot.; 4g total fat (1g sat. fat); 6g carb.; 0 chol.; 124mg sod.; 2g fiber.

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cashew Frosting

10 SERVINGS DAIRY-FREE

A moist and sweet double-layer cake accented with fresh spices and lemon zest. The creamy cashew frosting makes this cake a delectably decadent dessert. And you won't even notice that it's sugar-free,

1 cup raw almonds, soaked 8 to 12

hours, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 cups raisins, soaked 1 hour,

just covered with filtered

water; drain (save soak water)

1 cup pitted dates, soaked 1 hour,

just covered with filtered

water; drain

6 cups carrot pulp or finely ground

carrot (about 8 carrots)

1 to 2 tsp. cinnamon

1 to 2 tsp. grated nutmeg

Zest of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 orange

1 tsp. crushed cardamom pods or

cardamom powder (optional)

Lemon Cashew Frosting

2 cups raw cashews, soaked

1 to 2 hours

1 cup raisins, soaked 1 hour, just

covered with filtered water

1 cup pitted dates, soaked 1 hour,

just covered with filtered water

Juice 1 lemon

If carrots are ground in food processor, press off excess juice through a strainer or cheesecloth.

In food processor, combine almonds, raisins and dates; process until finely ground, or homogenize through juicer.

Mix carrot pulp, spices, and zest in large bowl.

Frosting: In food processor or blender, combine cashews, raisins and raisin water, dates and date water and lemon; process until smooth. Add extra soak water from cake if necessary for desired consistency.

Line 10-inch pie pan with plastic wrap and press cake mixture into pan. Turn pan over onto serving plate, remove pan and plastic wrap. Spread 1/2 cup frosting over top of first layer. Repeat molding with remaining mixture and gently release on top of first frosted layer. Touch up and reshape cake as needed. Spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake. Garnish with whole or chopped almonds and cinnamon.

Per serving: 422 cal.; 10g prot.; 18g total fat (3g sat. fat); 62g carb.; 0 chol.; 34mg sod.; 8g fiber.

Living Oatmeal

4 SERVINGS DAIRY-FREE

A raw rendition of an old-favorite breakfast cereal. Mixed with fresh fruit and spices, it's a great way to start the day.

2 cups oat groats (steel-cut oats),

soaked 8 to 12 hours, rinsed

and drained

1 1/2 cups raisins, soaked 1 hour, cover

raisins with filtered water

(save soak water)

2 cups chopped fresh fruit, such as

bananas, apples, papaya

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

In food processor, combine oats, raisins, raisin soak water and process until almost smooth. Add 1 cup chopped fruit and cinnamon. Pulse 30 seconds to blend.

Transfer mixture to individual serving bowls and fold in remaining chopped fruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.

Per serving: 491 cal.; 12g prot.; 3g total fat (1g sat. fat); 116g carb.; 0 chol.; 16mg sod.; 3g fiber.

Essene Bread

4 SERVINGS DAIRY-FREE

In the tradition of the Essenes, a living foods community said to have existed in the Middle East 2,000 years ago, this delicious flatbread is a staple of modern raw cuisine. it's sprouted, dehydrated seasoned with herbs and spices

2 cups soft wheat berries

1/4 cup flaxseeds, soaked 15 minutes

1 tsp. sea salt, kelp or Bragg

Liquid Aminos

Soak wheat berries in 4 cups water for 6 to 12 hours. Rinse and drain. Stand at 45-degree angle in a screen- or mesh-covered jar. Do not let seeds cover the mouth of the jar. Rinse mornings and evenings until sprouted tails are as long as grain.

Grind sprouted wheat berries in food processor or homogenize in juicer. Mix in flaxseeds, salt, kelp or liquid aminos. Split in half and press into round flat crusts no more than 1/2 inch thick on work surface.

Dehydrate in dehydrator at 108 degrees or full sun for 12 hours, flip and dry for 1 hour. Or, the bread can be dried in an oven set on "warm" or lowest setting with the door slightly ajar for 8 to 10 hours. The bread should be pliable and not dried hard.

Per serving: 125 cal.; 5g prot.; 2g total fat (0 sat. fat); 24g carb.; 0 chol.; 592mg sod.; 1g fiber.

Resources

Centers

Optimum Health Institute: 6970 Central Ave. Lemon Grove, CA 91945 (619) 464-3346

Hippocrates Institute 1443 Palmdale Court West Palm, FL 33411 (561) 471-8876

Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center P.O. Box 1080 Patagonia, AZ 85624 (520) 394-2520

Ann Wigmore Institute Box 429 Rincon, Puerto Rico 00677 (809) 868-6307

Books

Survival Into the 21st Century (21st Century Publications, 1975) by Viktoras Kulvinskas

Enzyme Nutrition (Avery Publishing Group, 1985) by Edward Howell, M.D.

Conscious Eating (Vision Books International, 1992) by Gabriel Cousens, M.D.

The Raw Truth, the Art of Loving Foods (Raw Truth Press, 1997) by Jeremy Safron and Renee Underkoffler

Nature's First Law (Maul Bros. Publishing, 1997) by Stephen Arlin, Fouad Dini and David Wolfe

Blatant Raw Foodist Propaganda (Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1990) by Joe Alexander

Web sites

These two main sites can link you to everything you ever wanted to know, buy or read pertaining to raw food

www.rawfoods.com www.living-foods.com

RELATED ARTICLE: Sprouting

Getting Started

You'll need several wide-mounthed, half-gallon Mason jars, enough nylon mesh or cheesecloth to cover the mouths of the jars and rubber bands. Arrange a shelf or a wire drain board at a 45-degree angle out of direct sunlight where it's okay to drip water. Seeds should be good quality -- they should have uniform color, size and shape and none should be broken. Buying in bulk, as opposed to packets, will save money Organic seeds are recommended For complete lists of sproutables, refer to a sprouting chart (The Sprouting Book [Avery 1986] by Ann Wigmore has an excellent one), but here are the basics.

What to Sprout

Sproutables can be broken down into several categories: Beans/legumes include garbanzos, mung and adzuki; small seeds include mustard, alfalfa, clover and radish; larger seeds include sunflower and pumpkin. Nuts also can be broken into two categories: Those that will grow tails when sprouted and those that will not -- "tail" nuts include whole almonds, cashews and hazelnuts; "non-trail" nuts include cashew pieces, pecans and walnuts (these nuts will swell be not sprout); grains include wild rice, millet and buckwheat.

Portions

For the beans/legumes category, 1 cup per half-gallon jar (they will almost triple in size); for small seeds, 3 to 4 tablespoons; for larger seeds, 1 cup; for grains, 2 cups.

How to Sprout

Once you have chosen your seeds and measured the appropriate amount in the jar, secure mesh or cheesecloth over the opening and fill halfway with filtered water. Allow seeds to soak for the appropriate amount of time -- 4 to 6 hours for smaller seeds; 8 to 12 hours for larger seeds, beans, nuts and grains. Do not soak more than 12 hours -- they may down and will not sprout. After soaking, place jar at 45-degree angle mouth down, where it can drain freely. Make sure the seeds are not pressed against the opening -- it's important for air to circulate in the jar. Rinse sprouts twice a day by placing jar under the faucet, filling it with water and allowing it to overflow. After each rinse the jar at a 45-degree angle. Do this until they are mature. Maturation times are: alfalfa sprouts, 4 to 6 days or when the tail is to 1 1/2 inches long; almonds in one day; millet 2 to 3 days a 1/4-inch tail; adzuki in 3 to 5 day; 1/2 to 1-inch tail. Refer to a chart for more items.

Harvesting

Rinse sprouts and discard the hulls that surface. Sprouts in sealed containers will store from 7 to 10 days in refrigerator.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Wonders of Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass, a bright green grass sprouted from wheat berries, is an important part of the raw foods diet. One of the richest sources of cholorophyll available, an ounce of wheatgrass packs the nutritional punch of 2 1/2 pounds of leafy green vegetables.

Wheatgrass discourages the growth of bacteria and infection and can be used internally and externally for a variety of ailments. The chlorophyll in wheatgrass is oxygen-rich and feeds the cells of the body, allowing for rapid rejuvenation and optimal cell function while rinsing toxins from the blood. The juice can be used as a gargle for sore throats, a pack for cuts, an enema for colon cleansing, a nasal rinse for stuffy heads and as an everyday nutritional supplement to any diet. It also has been touted for its ability to eliminate pesticide residue in nonorganic produce when used as a rinse.

A one-ounce "shot" of wheatgrass per day is sufficient for most people to experience its healing effects. Also, make sure the juice is fresh; once juiced, it rapidly losses its vitamins and minerals.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Vegetarian Times Inc.

 

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