Monday, March 16, 2009

Eating Lots of Raw & Living Foods

Fifty-Fifty… Where Health Begins

The VeganFresh Cuisine encourages you to have at least half your plate at every meal consist of raw and living foods. Raw and living foods are essential to good health as they contain all their nutrients and enzymes. The VeganFresh Cuisine includes cultured foods at each meal as well. Cultured foods are foods like sauerkraut and kefirs that have not been heated. Cultured foods are probiotic foods, meaning “for life” and probiotic foods are filled with lively little micro-organisiums that promote life. Probiotic foods are the foundation to strong digestive and immune systems. I will talk more about cultured foods in another blog posting and show you how you can make your own easily and inexpensively. In the mean time, look for unpasteurized cultured vegetables (sauerkraut and Kim Chi) in the refrigerator section of your natural food store and upscale grocery stores.

Salads Salads… Raw Raw Raw!!!

The easiest way to start eating the VeganFresh way is to add a fresh, crisp, juicy salad to every meal you serve… yes, even your breakfast can have a quick salad of baby field greens and a simple vinaigrette (see recipe below).

Raw and living foods are culinary super stars. They contain very few calories while providing lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and much needed enzymes that will help break down any cooked foods that are eaten along with them.

In my next few postings, I will show you how to build a VeganFresh salad that has a mandala of colors, textures and tastes and served as a piece of edible art. One will be based around dark leafy greens and fresh herbs, another on cabbage and a third one will be a Kale Salad. Salads can be served along side a grain or other main dish as a supportive dish or served as a main dish salad for a 100% raw food meal. A salad is much more than a side dish in the VeganFresh Cuisine.

Build your salads with as much locally grown, organic, sustainably grown, seasonal ingredients as you can find. As you are hunting down these treasures of nature, check your local farmer’s market, health food stores and, if you have one, your own organic garden.

Vegetables, Vegetables… Fun Fun Fun!

VeganFresh for Kids

My granddaughter, Amber Light, loves vegetables cut in large pieces and in interesting shapes. Raw vegetables were some of her first foods after her teeth came in. We gave her raw vegetables at snack time, lunch and dinner. Amber just turned five years old and she is starting to like salads where vegetables are cut small and mixed all up together with a dressing. The day Amber turned five she announced, “Now that I am five years old I am going to like salads.”

Watching Amber and talking to her about her likes and dislikes around raw vegetables I learned a lot of interesting things that could help you understand your young children and grandchildren. At about the age of 8 months Amber started eating lightly steamed vegetables until she got her teeth. After she had her teeth she started eating raw vegetables cut into large pieces she could easily grab a hold of and when they were served to her on a plate she liked each vegetable in a separate little pile. Kids like simple, pure flavors and I feel it is important to respect their simple way of eating. Young children have not damaged their taste buds with hot beverages and foods and strong flavors. I am sure a carrot must taste very different to a young child than to me.

When serving young children, take some of the vegetables you plan to cut-up for your salad and cut them into large pieces for serving to your children. Put these cut vegetables into separate little bundles or arrange them into a mandala pattern on their plate. At around three years old, slowly add stronger flavored vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and radish. Amber especially likes purple cauliflower and the spiral-looking cauliflower as well as carrots, cucumbers and red, yellow and orange sweet bell pepper. Serve their vegetables raw or very lightly steamed (just until they turn a bright color and still have a crunch). Cauliflower and broccoli can be separated into flowerettes. Carrots and bell pepper can be cut into large strips and cucumber sliced in large rounds. Continue to serve vegetables plain until your children ask for a dressing or sauce. As your children grow, start cutting their vegetables into smaller pieces and offer more and more of a variety. Just a couple of weeks ago, Amber started eating spinach. Spinach is probably the best dark leafy green to introduce raw. She likes the organic, baby prewashed spinach, and she likes it plain and raw.

Vegetables for Kids… Amber’s Favorite Kitchen Tool!

Amber's favorite kitchen tool is a “Julienner”. It looks like a vegetable peeler but does much more. It turns a carrot and other harder type vegetables into long slender strips, a special cut known in the culinary world as Julienne. Besides cutting vegetables into Julienne, Amber Light likes to use the Julienner to peel carrots, cucumbers and other harder type vegetables then slice them up into rings. They look like little star bursts (see the picture to the right). Also, it is important to let your children be involved in the making of meals. They love to be the little helper. They want to learn and be involved. As you prepare foods with children, talk to them about each food you are preparing and why it will make them strong and healthy. They may not get exactly what you are talking about when you say, “carrots are good for your

Amber’s favorite kitchen tool i eyes and skin because they have carotinoids in them, but in time you help build their vocabulary and understanding of foods on a much deeper meaningful level.

KitchenYoga… Making Food Prep Fun!

When you come into your kitchen to prepare food, drop all your concerns and cares; in other words, clear your mind and ready yourself for the task at hand. An easy way to clear your mind is to sing a song or chant, recite a mantra or put on some music, and, if you like, dance. Now you are ready to cook. Remember to bring love, joy and gratitude into every meal you prepare and serve. It’s a practice and as such you must practice every time you go into your kitchen and each time it will become easier and easier. After all, a joyful state is our natural state. Practice being happy for no reason at all!

A Simple Breakfast Salad

(Serves 2)

1 handful baby field greens

½ handful watercress, cut medium

½ handful mustard greens, cut in ribbons

½ handful dandelion greens, cut in ribbons

1 golden beet, grated large

1 carrot, grated large

Toss all ingredients together: In a wooden salad bowl, put all the ingredients for the salad and toss together.

A Simple Mustard Vinaigrette

(Makes ½ cup)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

(stoneground is best if you can find it)

¼ cup fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or

balsamic vinegar or a combination of

lemon and a vinegar

1 tablespoon stoneground mustard

2 cloves garlic, grated small or pressed

½ teaspoon pink crystal salt, Celtic salt

or Real Salt (unrefined)

Whisk together all ingredients: In a small bowl, put all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and whisk together.

Toss Salad with Dressing: In a wooden salad bowl, put just the amount of salad you expect to eat. Add just enough dressing to coat salad. Toss well to mix.

How to Store: Store any undressed salad in a plastic produce bag in the refrigerator. Store the vinaigrette in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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