Tag Archives: raw food

Carrots are sexy say researchers

30 Jan

Me with a fake tan

Being the very fair skinned child in a family of olive skinned naturally tanned siblings and parents, I have always fantasised about waking up one day with a tan.  I did try fake tan once – but I looked more like an oompa loompa at Madame Tussauds than an actual person. Well – according to this article on St Andrew’s University website – all I need to do is eat a lot more carrots.

St Andrews University ran the study jointly with Bristol University and tell us in the article that, ‘people who eat more portions of fruit and vegetables per day have a more golden skin colour, thanks to substances called carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of everyday living, especially when the body is combatting disease. Responsible for the red colouring in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes, cartenoids are important for our immune and reproductive systems.’

That’s great of course, but I have to say the real news was deeper in the actual paper.  Here’s the extract that explains that the joy of carrots goes beyond a healthy immune system; as in the case of the rear ends of our monkey friends, reddened skin apparently enhances our sexual attractiveness.

Being attracted to a suntanned (reddened) mate is primitive instinct

‘Stephen et al. (2009) found that the physiologically relevant cues of increased skin blood perfusion and oxygenation color enhance the healthy appearance of faces. This relationship shows similarities to color signals displayed in nonhuman primates, particularly Old World monkeys (Dixson 1998). Increased redness due to increased blood perfusion is associated with aspects of health such as hormonal status (Czaja et al. 1977; Dixson 1983; Rhodes et al. 1997; Setchell and Dixson 2001) and reproductive status (Rhodes et al. 1997; Setchell et al. 2006) in this group. Redness in nonhuman primates is also associated with social factors such as dominance rank (Setchell and Dixson 2001; Setchell and Wickings 2005) and is preferred by the opposite sex (Setchell 2005; Waitt et al. 2003, 2006).’

I love carrots and often juice them and add them to salads but this is an incentive to eat more of them that reaches a whole other level.  However, I can tell you from experience that sunburn isn’t attractive to anyone, including monkeys.

Great Swapathon is a big step forward for the obese

17 Jan

The British are swapping deep fried mars bars

FOR lovely carrot sticks

I’ve read conflicting views of the Department of Health’s recently launched Change for Life Great Swapathon. A mouthful in itself, the idea is that the British government, with the help of the world’s biggest food businesses (Asda, Birds Eye, JJB Sports, Nestle, Mars, Unilever, Warburtons and Weight Watchers), The Sun and News of the World, bribe the British general public to drop their deep fried mars bars and pick up an apple instead. We’re offered a book of £50 vouchers to swap bad for good and that’s the problem. The ‘good’ is not necessarily that good especially if it is a branded box of still highly sugared yet ‘baked’ cereal that costs twice as much as the usual without the coupon.

British magazine Marketing Week wrote recently of the ‘Great Swapathon rip off’ and the BBC reports that Professor for Food Policy at City University in London Tim Lang called it a ‘corporate brand protection strategy rather than a public health one.’

At first I agreed with them. You can no doubt pick up a hint of cynicism in my intro and having a marketeer’s DNA I can smell a brand campaign a mile away. At first glance, spending £250m to convince fatties to be healthy seems like a giant waste of my hard earned taxes. I’ve only just convinced my Mum to drink freshly squeezed lemon juice and warm water in the mornings. However, and a big however – something has to be done. Obesity in children as one impact of bad nutrition has increased to 30% from 25% in 1995,  and the statistic is due to grow.

People like me, who care about and know about basic nutrition are the unusual and the extreme. Others have a clue that they should be eating better, but not even heart attacks or cancer scares can make them cut back and change. Will this work for a generally ignorant general public looking for a quick fix?

When I do my sums, the campaign only costs taxpayers a fiver a head and, having worked on a proposed arts council campaign to bring the arts to the general public, I can say that £250m is peanuts and alone would make no headway whatsoever. We need the additional food manufacturer and retailer budgets and distribution channels to reach the masses and then we need their ‘healthier’ range of products to ease them into making life long changes.

The 5-a-day campaign is working - so will The Great British Swapathon

And – most importantly when you look at statistics for the 5-a-day campaign. It is working. 21% of children now eat 5 portions of fruit and vege a day compared to just 10% in 2001.

Charlene from Essex may not swap her daily bacon butty for a carrot stick for a million pounds but she might choose omega plus enhanced granary bread instead of preserved white plastic slabs.

It’s not raw food, and not chlorella smoothies but I think the programme is a brilliant step in the right direction, superb value for money considering the long term benefits to children in terms of fundamental education and awareness and the food companies, for once, are doing something positive too. This is marketing. Marketing works to change behaviours in this case – for good. The critics, including the Children’s Food Campaign, who said, ‘this analysis exposes the Great Swapathon for what it really is – a great marketing opportunity for the companies involved, but of little benefit to consumers’ pockets or health’, should get over it and behind it, unless of course, they have a better idea.

Gandhi was a raw food hypocrite too

3 May

I’m in India at the moment and a few days ago visited the Gandhi Smitri museum in Delhi. Here I bought numerous pamphlets which are collations of Gandhi’s various lectures, speeches and articles he presented and wrote on various topics over his life. Reading through them I see that Gandhi is also a raw food hypocrite.

Gandhi advocates a raw diet many times in his writings but as he says in a speech to the London Vegetarian Society in 1931: Man is more than meat. It is the spirit of man for which we are concerned. Therefore vegetarians should have that moral basis – that a man was not born a carnivorous animal, but born to live on the fruits and herbs that the earth grows. I know we all err. I would give up milk if I could, but I cannot.

The pamphlet I refer to in this post is titled; ‘the moral basis of vegetarianism’. In it are these articles Gandhi wrote for the Young India newspaper on the 15th August 1929 such as this one: As a searcher for Truth I deem it necessary to find the perfect food for a man to keep body, mind and soul in sound condition. I believe that the search can only succeed with unfired food and in the limitless vegetable kingdom there is an effective substitute for milk, which every medical man admits, has its drawbacks and which is designed by nature not for man but for babies and young ones of lower animals.

In Young India newspaper a week later, he wrote: If one may take ripe fruit without cooking, I see no reason why one may not take vegetables too in an uncooked state provided one can properly digest them. Dieticians are of the opinion that the inclusion of a small quantity of raw vegetables like cucumber, marrow, pumpkin, gourd etc in one’s menu is more beneficial to health than eating of large quantities of the same cooked. But the digestive systems of most people are very often so impaired through a surfeit of cooked fare that one should not be surprised if at first they fail to do justice to raw greens.

More evidence that if you can at least try to eb raw and aim towards it as a lifestyle – you’re on the right, not only physically but also spiritually and ethically. Reading this inspires me to keep trying.

Being a hypocrite is good for you

26 Jan

Eat well for the planet and your body

Good news – my hypocrisy is vindicated.  According to this article; ‘Why the shift away from veganism in the raw world?’ by Fresh Network, vegans and raw food experts all over the world are turning back to animal products to supplement their diets for better health and more energy.  Having never turned completely away from animal or cooked foods, I now wonder if it is a primitive instinct for nutrients rather than extreme lack of willpower that makes me the raw food hypocrite. 

However much of a relief that is, I still believe, based on my own personal experience, that overloading on meat, cooked and processed foods is really unhealthy.  And of course, I also strongly believe that we should always eat well for the planet as well as our bodies and minds.

Why the shift away from veganism in the raw world? on Fresh Network

As you may already have noticed, a big change has taken place in the raw food world, and this change is ongoing. More and more raw food authors, coaches and speakers are coming forward either to say they’re not vegan anymore, to publicly promote the health benefits of certain animal products, or to warn that the vegan diet does not provide all necessary nutrients so vegans must supplement.

Taking into account those raw leaders who have never been completely vegan anyway, we can now count very few raw food promoters who are 100% vegan themselves and who also say that a 100% raw vegan diet provides us with everything we need (i.e. that there is no need to supplement). We decided a while ago that this phenomenon deserved a closer look, so we have been busy discussing this shift with our contacts and also investigating what may be causing it.

Before going any further, we wish to acknowledge the gigantic ethical and environmental justifications for avoiding animal products, and the fact that for many, eating these foods is not an option, regardless of any alleged or real health benefits. And indeed this is why there are passionate vegans who do not believe the vegan diet is our natural diet, but who choose to stay vegan and supplement rather than consume animal products.

The rest of the article, including interviews with some some of the leading raw and vegan foodies, is here.

Raw food in season in January

8 Jan
 

fresh and seasonal is best for your body and the planet

If you pick your fruits and vegetables from where they love growing and when they love growing, you will not only reap maximum flavour, but also maximum nutritional value.  Fundamentally, the idea is that the fruits and vegetables will be happier growing to their full and ultimate individual potential at their ideal pace.  And consuming anything happy can only be good for us.

Imagine if we all ate fruit and vegetables like that all the time. We’d be healthier, more clever and probably wealthier because we wouldn’t, for example, be paying exhorbitant transportation costs for say, mangoes from the Congo.  Not only do our back pockets suffer from the cost of tranporting unripe genetically modified fruit grown in hot houses, but more importantly, our eating behaviours (and I am including myself) are at the expense of our increasingly fragile planet.  Raw and seasonal is the best sustainable and nutritional way to go.

I find my seasonal info here at Eat the Seasons:

VEGETABLES
beetroot, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, celeriac, celery, chicory, horseradish, jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes (maincrop), radishes, rocket, salsify, shallots, spinach, swede, turnips

FRUIT
apples, clementines, lemons, oranges, passion fruit, pears, pineapple, pomegranate, satsumas, tangerines

HERBS, FLOWERS, FUNGHI, NUTS
almonds, brazil nuts, chestnuts, chives, coriander, hazelnuts, mushrooms (cultivated), mushrooms (wild), parsley, truffles (black), truffles (white), walnuts

Raw chocolate Christmas pudding deluxe

23 Dec

Raw Christmas feast for twelve carnivores? What do you think their opinion of a six course raw menu would be? Exactly! So the hypocrite in me gave them what they wanted; turkey mince balls, cranberry chutney, chestnut souffle and a mountain of roasted vegetables. At least until dessert.The raw foody in me then managed to sneak in a raw chocolate Christmas pudding without anyone noticing it was raw. Usually traditional Chrissie puddings seriously clog up your digestive system – you’ll find this one does the opposite!

 

THE INGREDIENTS
200g organic dried apricots
300g raisins
100g prunes
10 delicious caramel-like medjool dates
2 pods of vanilla
a pint of freshly juiced apple juice
3 grated carrots
2 grated apples
a healthy dash of cinammon
150g ground almonds
100g chopped hazelnuts
100g chopped pecan nuts

HOW TO MAKE IT
1. Soak the fruits, vanilla, cinammon and carrot in the apple juice, in a covered bowl, for three days
2. Blend as best you can – roughish texture is still ok
3. Add chopped nuts to mixture
4. Spoon mixture into small pots as in the pic above (I use recycled yoghurt pots)
5. Make the raw chocolate to the recipe here
6. Cover with a generous layer of liquid raw chocolate and refrigerate before serving. Yum.

It tasted delish and with all those dried fruits in there, also gave everyone a good digestive clean out the next day! Just two of the benefits…

TIP
I had loads left over, so rolled the mixture into balls, coated them in left over raw choc and then coconut. They last for ages and make yummy late Christmas presents for lovely neighbours.

US researchers conclude raw food eaters thin but healthy

16 Dec

a fresh raw fruit and vegetables is best for you

OK – so that conclusion is music to my raw food ears and I’m going to say those four highly irritating words – ‘I told you so’.  I told you a raw food diet was good for you and not just because you’re thinner, have better skin, look younger, have clear bright eyes and lots of energy.  And this BBC story sort of proves I was right.

I say ‘sort of’ because this report is a very frank analysis of the research and a raw food diet overall. It takes into account some of the potential negatives including damage to bone mass and the obvious necessity for a balanced diet.  It recommends including  raw fruit and vegetables into your diet, not following it 100%.  This could mean anything from munching a blueberry muffin to leading a 99% raw fruit and vegetable lifestyle and everything inbetween. I suggest, from my personal experience,  a diet of 70-80% raw.  I think this is not only possible for us punters but also very healthy.  While the study is based on extreme 100% raw foodies and helpfully concludes that they are thin and healthy, the article also provides the biggest clue, to us less fanatical, as to why.  It’s all in the chorophyll, which can be most efficiently found in fresh leafy greens. Hello green smoothies!

On another note, there are a few reasons why I can imagine this story wouldn’t be taken seriously.  Firstly this is a BBC report from 2005 that I’ve only just tracked down. Secondly, the study was ‘found in the Archives of Internal Medicine’ whatever they are.  And then, thirdly, you quickly discover that only 18 people were tested… Mmmmm.  Well.  Can such a small sample count? Probably not.  But who cares. It’s great news and you should read and digest every word!

Extracts from BBC News 29 March, 2005
People who follow a raw food vegetarian diet are light in weight but healthy, according to US researchers.

It has been suggested that eating only plant-derived foods that have not been cooked or processed might make bones thinner and prone to fractures. But a study in Archives of Internal Medicine found although bones were lighter on this diet, turnover rates were normal with no osteoporosis. The lower bone mass is down to raw food eaters being slim, believe the authors.

Dr Stephen Walsh, nutrition spokesperson for the Vegan Society, said it was to be expected that people who ate only raw foods would be slimmer and that this would in turn have an effect on bone mass.

Elaine Bruce, experienced naturopath, homeopath and director of the UK Centre for Living Foods, said calcium was important for building bones, but that inorganic calcium in the form of supplements would not do the job.

“You have to have organic calcium as it occurs in fresh green leafy vegetables. “What we do in our programme is maximise that intake by having it in juice form.”

She said that the chlorophyll found in green plants and vegetables also contained the right amount of magnesium that is essential for the uptake of calcium for healthy bones.

“The chemical composition of chlorophyll and blood is very similar which further facilitates this uptake,” she added.

Healthy sustainable eating is number 9 on Epicurious top ten menu trends list 2010

4 Dec

eating raw protects the environment

On the surface, healthy eating at number 9 on a list of trends from a foodie website  seems like a tenuous cause for the raw food hypocrite to celebrate, however when it is linked to sustainability, it is.  

Sustainability is one gigantic benefit to eating raw that goes way beyond our healthy, good looking bodies to a healthy, good looking planet.  We are on the cusp of a wave of consciousness about the links between nutrition, a healthy life and the world around us. Eating more raw fruit and vegies, means less ‘meat’ farming, less food manufacturing and therefore  less pollution, wastage, cruelty to animals and pillage of precious land.  It means that by choosing an apple over a cream bun, we can, even in a small way, do our bit for the environment. Ignoring the frightening other top trends of pot roast and stew and the following meaty, deep fried, beery, chemical-based others, here is the article ‘Menu Trends for 2010’ from Epicurious.com by by Tanya Steel posted yesterday.  

We’re not the only ones brandishing our crystal ball, predicting trends for next year. Among the lists coming out are Restaurant & Institution’s Menu Trends for 2010. It contains few surprises, and we think a fusion of Asian and Latin is so 2000, but the list (follows, verbatim) generally rings true:

1. Pot roast and brisket and stew, oh my! Homey favorites spotlighting affordable cuts are the order of the day for comfort-and value-minded diners.

2. Asian + Latin = A dynamic duo. The Twitter-driven frenzy over Los Angeles’ Kogi truck and its signature Korean tacos gets at least some of the credit for this latest fusion craze, which will only get bigger in 2010. 

3. Midday dining deals. With customers cutting back on dining out far more at dinner than at other dayparts, many operators are turning to speed- and value-oriented lunch specials in an effort to grab more midday dining dollars. 

4. Beer, there and everywhere. Whether diners view specialty brews as an affordable luxury in a down economy or they’ve simply grown more enamored of the drinks’ frothy charms, beer’s star is still rising at restaurants, with operators sourcing craft and seasonal labels, promoting menu pairings and themed dinners, and opening beer-centric pubs and eateries. 

5. Chains build better burgers. Premium burgers represent the ultimate marriage of value and indulgence, so it’s no wonder that restaurant chains are following the lead of high-end chefs and dedicated fast-casual concepts and nudging up America’s favorite sandwich a few notches. 

6. Are eggs the new bacon? Eggs are everywhere on menus–draped over burgers and pizzas, tucked into sandwiches, and showcased in dolled-up renditions of classic deviled and Scotch eggs as bar snacks and appetizers. 

7. Drugstore-counter desserts. The retro-dessert trend just won’t quit, and this time, spiffed-up shakes and floats are taking the spotlight. 

8. Big-name chefs take it down a(nother) notch. The drive toward downscale dining continues: Witness Big Star, Chicago chef Paul Kahan’s just-opened dive bar/taco shack; Il Cane Rosso, the San Francisco sandwich shop from Coi Chef-owner Daniel Patterson; and Bar Symon, Michael Symon’s gastropub-style spot in suburban Cleveland. 

9. Meatless meals. Americans aren’t quite embracing vegetarianism en masse, but eschewing meat more often in the interest of health and environmental sustainability is most definitely in vogue. 

 10: Deep-fried and fabulous. Bone-in fried chicken is the latest unlikely darling of upscale dining rooms, but nontraditional deep-fried fare is trendy, too.

Jay Rayner doesn’t give a toss about raw food

7 Jul
Jay Rayner's taste buds could with a lot more raw/vegan cruelty

Jay Rayner's taste buds could with a lot more cruelty from vegan food

While at Hay Festival, like the great big nerd I am, I unashamedly queued to have my books signed by both Jay Rayner and Heston Blumenthal (note unashamed name dropping).  In my small moment basking in their celebrity aura, I asked them both the same question; ‘what do you think about raw food?’  While Heston was ‘onto it’, Jay Rayner was, well, less enthusiastic; ‘I don’t give a toss.  If food doesn’t taste nice, it shouldn’t be eaten.’ 

Ignoring the question of ‘what exactly does nice tasting mean?’ – he’s right and I don’t think it’s just because I agree with him.  Raw fruit and vegetable combinations of all sorts are often difficult to swallow, literally.  But I didn’t need to meet him to hear his point of view.  Having read his review of SAF (which I whole-heartedly disagreed with in my own review), he made his point against raw food loudly and clearly in the headline: ‘It’s grim down Saf; vegan cuisine is a non-starter if it’s kind to animals but cruel to the taste buds.’

Jay Rayner is blatantly anti-vegan, anti-vegetarian, anti-raw and having read his recent book; ‘The man who ate the world; In search of the perfect dinner’, which is a kind of Michelin starred, international Super Size Me, he is also clearly anti-healthy food. 

However, I do think he is truly great, not just because he took the time to answer my question honestly, but because he represents the voice from the stomach of just about everyone I know, including the hypocrite in me. He is also really hilarious, completely decadent, down to earth and I happen to know he is extremely generous with his time with charities such as Summer Uni London’s Nang magazine.

Despite the large black rings (swollen liver?) under his bloodshot eyes (adrenal exhaustion?), a sweaty pallor (high blood pressure?) and swollen belly (candida?), Jay’s energy and wit defy a body under nutritional stress. My instinct following my 36 second ‘meeting’ with him was that he is a genuinely happy and successful man and also a genuinely unhealthy one.

But at what point do we let go of our emotional conditioning around the food we eat and prioritise our health?  And when do we allow ourselves to make choices that are not centred around what our mothers allowed or didn’t allow us to eat? Jay constantly referred to his famous Mother, Clare Rayner, in his book and he’s not alone in making the connection to food and mothering.  We all do it all the time, although mostly subconsciously.  But does eating something  that triggers happy (or sad) memories of childhood, maternal approval or feelings of success taste ‘nicer’ than the real clear-headed-living-in the-present-moment experience of eating fresh, natural, local, ripe,  nutrient-rich, absolutely 100% raw food?

I love Jay’s column and his books and don’t want him to change but I also, selfishly, want him to keep writing about food for a very long time.  I also, as a personal aim, want him to, one day, write about a raw meal in the same way he writes about the ‘Arpege tomato’.

There simply must be a way to embed the same ecstatic ‘nice tasting’ triggers in the experience of eating raw fruit and vegetables in our children, that Jay gets from buttery, garlicky escargots and foie gras and I get from cheddar cheese and gherkins on a freshly baked baguette.

Coconut water saves lives and prevents wrinkles

29 Jun
young coconut juice is a miracle wrinkle cure that works from the inside

young coconut juice is a miracle wrinkle cure that works from the inside

One natural product that I have totally embraced in my everyday life is coconut water.  There are countless benefits but I really notice the difference in my skin, which feels much better hydrated and therefore a little less crinkly wrinkly… One of the reasons for this effect is that coconut water has the same balance of electrolytes as human blood.

It’s a natural isotonic beverage with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood. It’s the fluid of life, so to speak,” says Mr. Morton Satin, Chief of FAO’s Agricultural Industries and Post Harvest Management Service.

The clear fluid found in young, green coconuts not only satisfies your immediate thirst, but it also ensures that the water you drink from then on is properly absorbed into and carried around your system so that your body is adequately hydrated ALL over.  Coconut water is so effective because of this quality that soldiers based in the Pacific during the Second World War often used it in place of blood plasma in transfusions.  Even today in many third world countries, it is used as an intravenous fluid where medical saline is unavailable. 

With a very high level of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, it’s a natural isotonic that re-hydrates your body just like a sports drink without the e-numbers, sugars and chemicals.  Hence I particularly thirst for it after Bikram yoga.

“Coconut water is the very stuff of nature, biologically pure, full of natural sugars, salts, and vitamins to ward off fatigue… and is the next wave of energy drinks BUT natural!”, according to Mortin Satin, Chief of the United Nation’s Food & Agriculture Organization.

According to the Coconut Board (yes there is such a thing!) – there are these 16 benefits:

1. Good for feeding infants suffering from intestinal disturbances. 
2. Oral rehydration medium
3. Contains organic compounds possessing growth promoting properties
4. Keeps the body cool
5. Application on the body prevents prickly heat and summer boils and subsides the rashes caused by small pox, chicken pox, measles, etc.
6. Kills intestinal worms
7. Presence of saline and albumen makes it a good drink in cholera cases
8. Checks urinary infections
9. Excellent tonic for the old and sick
10. Cures malnourishment
11. Diuretic
12. Effective in the treatment of kidney and urethral stones
13. Can be injected intravenously in emergency cases
14. Found as blood plasma substitute because it is sterile, does not produce heat, does not destroy red blood cells and is readily accepted by the body
15. Aids the quick absorption of the drugs and makes their peak concentration in the blood easier by its electrolytic effect
16. Urinary antiseptic and eliminates poisons in case of mineral poisoning.

a delicious clear liquid life saver

a delicious clear liquid life saver

Coconut water is also anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial. The lauric acid (also found in human mother’s milk) in coconuts is also used to heal our digestive systems and it’s a great alkaliser if your diet is very acidic. According to ayurvedics, coconut water helps prevent intestinal gas, aids in removing toxins and increases the digestive tract’s ability to absorb nutrients.  Ayurvedic practitioners also believe that coconut water can increase the production of semen in men and restores emotional stability in menopausal woman.

The main thing is that it tastes really, really yummy and in Summer, when it’s well chilled, it’s particularly delicious. I buy Vitacoco from Wholefoods, Rubicon from Bengal City in Brick Lane, but ideally, like to get it fresh, direct from the coconut, from the Rastifarian coconut man at Spitalfields or Portobello Rd markets.