Archive | September, 2011

796* raw foodists in Czech Republic

25 Sep

Fried cheese is the closest thing to raw food in Czech Republic

I was in beautiful Prague for work last week, which sounds exciting but sadly I had just the one opportunity to leave the office, eat out and test a typical Czech restaurant menu for ‘raw food’. The menu at this particular beer-based ‘restaurant’ was more of a manual of ‘how to eat meat with meat with beer and a side plate of meaty meat’.  

From pig knees to venison goulash, foie gras, duck liver terrine and steak tartare, and every other cut, animal, cooking variation, body part and flavour option accounted for, I was tempted to leave an alkaline diet leaflet and list of meat-related diseases on the table.

But – it was a wonderful thing to see that even a cursory attempt had been made to cater for the vegetarians among us.  However, the only vegie options were fried cheese, fried Camembert cheese, omelette and a depressed risotto, hence a raw food option was a total no go and I began to realise that a raw foodist in Czech Republic would more likely be found performing in a travelling freak show than an average eatery.

Expecting absolutely nothing, on researching ‘raw food in Czech Republic’, I was pleasantly surprised to find the statistic on that 1.5% of Czech people are considered vegetarian.  * Imagining the proportion of vegetarians who could be considered ‘raw’ to be a mere 0.5% – that leaves the potential figure of raw foodies at 786 people out of a population of 10.5 million.

Raw food refers to the 2008, “Vegetarianism in America” study published by the Vegetarian Times Magazine, that puts the number of U.S. adult vegetarians at 7.3 million, or 3.2 percent of the population.

In England, vegetarianism got a huge boost from the mad cow scare. According to a 2006 Mintel survey, 6 percent of the population, or 3.6 million people, are vegetarians, and 10 percent eat no red meat. This likely makes the UK the european country with the largest proportion of its population that is vegetarian.

Across the rest of Europe, statistics are less positive:

Austria: 243,000 – 3%
Belgium: 204,000 – 2%
Croatia: 166,500 – 3.7%
Czech Republic: 153,000 – 1.5%
Denmark: 81,000 – 1.5%
France: >1,200,000 – >2%
The Netherlands: 700,900 – 4.3%
Norway: 92,000 – 2%
Poland: >386,000 – >1%
Portugal: 30,000 – 0.3%

Surprisingly, Czech Republic does not have the lowest stat in Europe, which leads me to think that there are a lot fried cheese fans out there. I did try it, but can’t say I recommend it as a lifestyle choice and frankly, I’d rather eat the pig knee too.

By the way, Happy World Vegetarian Day for Oct 1.

A raw beetroot salad recipe to prevent cancer and regenerate your liver

11 Sep

Raw beetroot salad with raw tahini dressing. It's addictive.

Beetroots are in season here in autumnal UK and seeing them in abundance at the markets and even in the aisles Tesco, makes my heart sing and liver jump for joy.  Sharing the top spot of my favourite vege with broccoli, beetroot is not only delicious but it also happens to be exceptionally good for you with scientific evidence that it regenerates the liver and prevents cancer.  

The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Howard University, Washington, DC is quoted on as saying: ‘Our previous studies identified the extract of Beta vulgaris (beetroot), commercially also known as betanin, as a potent cancer chemopreventive agent. An in vivo anti-tumor promoting activity evaluation against the mice skin and lung bioassays revealed a significant tumor inhibitory effect. The combined findings suggest that beetroot ingestion can be one of the useful means to prevent cancer.’

PSC Trust says that, ‘Beetroot is probably the single most important liver food. The red pigment (called anthocyanin) and beetroot enzymes (called peroxidases) help to re-energise tired cells – especially liver cells. The liver is the major organ of detoxification, working to filter and detoxify the debris and toxins which accumulate in the body. Beetroot juice also contains large quantities of betaine and choline (which assist fat metabolism), with silicic acids, trace minerals, potassium, magnesium and the B-vitamins, Vitamin B6, B12 and folate.’ 


1 large beetroot
rocket leaves
1green apple or a pear
7 walnuts
1 tbsp tahini paste
good dash apple cider vinegar
olive oil

RECIPE (for one)

Grate your beetroot (carefully) and finely slice your green apple or pear. Throw in a salad bowl and mix in rocket leaves and walnuts.

To make the dressing- stir the tahini, apple cider vinegar and olive oil together until saucy.  I usually need to add some water to make it runnier…

And eat up…

PREPARATION NOTE: If a CSI unit popped into my kitchen right now – their first pre-forensic thought would be that a massacre had taken place. Somehow when I grated just a single beetroot, my kitchen is now a crime scene and with beetroot bloodied hands, I am the chief suspect.  I’m sure when you make it – it won’t be such a domestic disaster…

‘finger lickin good’ no more?? KFC goes ‘so good’

5 Sep

finger lickin good no more?? KFC goes 'so good'.

This month in the UK we wait with bated breath to see the new healthier, more nutritionally transparent menu from KFC.  I  see it now.  Raw cashew nut replacement chicken buckets, raw mock chicken fillet burgers….Oh what a raw dream.

Perhaps my sarcasm is misplaced because already, earlier this year, KFC did the unthinkable and ditched their 60+ year old tagline ‘finger lickin good’ for ‘so good.’  An altruistic passion for our nutritional welfare? Perhaps not. Falling sales and increased demand for healthier food options are behind their decision and more importantly for us shallow consumers, KFC understands our desire to be seen  to be ‘making a good brand choice.’  This is exciting (to me anyway…) and reveals the tide of interest from a mass audience for food of nutritional value despite the fact that in the UK alone, KFC sells a chicken hotwing every 3.6 seconds amounting to 114m a year.  Checking their statistics (as you do…) I see in comparison they sell only 3.3m pots of beans, 2.3m tubs of coleslaw and 7.8 million corn cobs each year.  It’ll be interesting to see whether we start to ditch chicken wings for corn cobs in our zest for something ‘more gooder’ but in the mean time I like that we, the masses, are trying to be healthier and therefore using our power to push big food brands in the right direction.

As reports:  KFC is out to prove that it’s also about food and not just excellent taste, so it’s switching up some things in UK restaurants like bringing new cooking oils, introducing new foods that are healthier options to the current offering and sourcing the chicken from the UK.  

The rebranding exercise will coincide with the introduction of healthier frying oils and meals cooked on a griddle instead of in a frier. There are also plans to show the calorie content of all items on KFC’s menus from September,” says the same publication (The Daily Mail).

KFC is known in the trade as a QSR (quick service restaurant) so it was a big surprise to find any reference to raw food on trade website  Here my new guru, Betsy Craig, writes the blog Raw explained: Tips and tricks for offering raw dishes on your menu in August this year.

As she concludes; As more Americans focus on including healthy, fresh vegetables and fruits in every meal, there is more and more interest in making those nutrient dense meals the meal in itself.  Offering a raw menu item or two at your restaurant will help you to best serve this growing demographic. Be sure to include full nutritional information on the menu for this group and all your menu items.

Isn’t Betsy fabulous?  Perhaps KFC’s next evolutionary brand step will be ‘so raw.’ I might write to them and suggest it in case they missed her article…