Monday, January 30, 2012

We still love raw foods

I've been thinking about raw food again, mainly because the kids and I just watched Food Matters again, and I was reminded of how absolutely fantastic I felt when I was on a high raw vegan diet.  I had come to the point where my energy was no where to be found.  I was dragging by lunch time, had a migraine by two in the afternoon, and had a Garfield-like nap attack on a daily basis (which, after indulging, I'd wake to an even bigger migraine and general grogginess).

I learned a lot from taking part in a high raw vegan lifestyle.  First of all, I realized that our diets were seriously deficient in whole, raw foods. Like most Americans, we were in the habit of eating cooked food, and the little bit of raw we managed to get in our diets was from the lettuce and onions on our burgers. Sometimes we'd have fruit for breakfast.  Sometimes I'd have a fruit smoothie.  Sometimes we'd eat carrots.  Sometimes.

Researching raw foods and their impact on the body really opened my eyes to the big gap in our family's diet, so we made huge changes. It has been my goal for our diets to be over 50% raw.  We changed snacks to fruits (clementines, bananas, and apples are the favorites here) and raw nuts (sunflower seeds are a hit), and started including at least one generous side of fruit or vegetables with each meal.  Breakfasts are generally loaded with fruits as well (clementines, grapes, bananas, strawberries).

We significantly cut back on our meat intake.  We may have a little meat mixed in a salad, soup, or veggie-filled casserole, but we're no longer consuming huge slabs of meat on a regular basis. I found that my body really does not handle large amounts of red meat well at all.  Since cutting back on red meat (I may a small amount once every two weeks, if that), I've found that this horrible full-body itch I'd been plagued with for several years has vanished!

When I first did the "raw food" thing, I did a lot of work in making raw meals.  However, I found that the thing that worked best for us was just consuming raw fruits and vegetables in their natural state, instead of trying to make raw lasagnas, pizzas, and such.  Pairing a lot of raw foods with some cooked foods is what really works best for our family, allowing us to get in the nutrients and live enzymes we need without having to concoct "weird" recipes.

One of our favorite recipes is a taco salad which features ranch-style (pinto) beans, on a bed of assorted lettuce greens loaded with (raw) onions, tomatoes, peppers and such. We enjoy a lot of Greek style foods as well, like gyros, which are easy to pair with cooked and fresh vegetables and a huge salad.

We found the kids really love cucumbers, and even though I'm not a huge fan, I don't mind when they are chopped up finely and tossed in a salad.  They love when I slice cucumber rings to snack on.  They will also consume tomato grapes like they're going out of style, and I buy about 10 pounds of clementines on a weekly basis.

Evangeline is a huge raw food lover. Ask her if she wants an orange or banana, and you'll see her face light up as she squeals with excitement! It's amazing how often the children ask for fruit when they are hungry instead of a sugar snack.  That's not to say they never ask for sugary snacks (they do love granola bars, and we buy organic versions), but I am hearing requests for fruits and veggies far more often.  Here's an example of a meal they might have one day.  (This is Evangeline's, so it's a bit more skimpy than the other kiddos' plates)

Banana, clementine slices, carrot "chips" (just sliced carrots) with a bit of tzatziki for dipping.
Sandwich wraps and organic corn chips (similar to fritos).

See, there's a give and take. The kids do have some things that aren't extremely healthy (even if they are organic, like the corn chips).  Sometimes we have white bread (or, in this case, white tortillas), sometimes we have whole wheat or some other grain. Sometimes their plates are loaded with veggies and fruits and have a muffin on the side.  Sometimes we have soup and crackers.  Thing is, we try to keep a healthy balance.

And there then are mornings when we do crazy stuff like this:

Because, we do love donuts, and there is no use denying it.

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