Sunday 25 May 2008

The future is...

It's not 'sexy' or exotic, like the durian (OK - opinions will be divided...) or young coconut. It didn't enter the Raw Fooders' International Top Ten Favourite Foods ( I can't claim it's locally-grown (at least not for me in the UK, but I'm very glad other countries share it with me), it's very unassuming, and generally considered quite commonplace, but please give a big fanfare for the SUPER, SUPER food that is...


In my cooked life I'd always considered oranges a bit boring. This would in no small part have been due to the fact that as a child I'd understood oranges as synonymous with that diluted sugary drink called 'squash'. As a young adult, packaged juices came onto the market, but most were made from concentrates, and although in the years to follow, non-concentrate juices were introduced and I drank and enjoyed the juice, I still tended to give the fruit itself the cold shoulder. Why? Because, compared with satsumas and clementines, the fruit seemed a bother. Messy to eat in quarters, and a pain to peel (it would have taken me, um, a whole minute maybe?!)

In the first six months of raw I remained unexcited by the orange. Until, one evening, I felt a little thirsty. I peeled an orange and cut it into thick slices. It was...a revelation. SO much sweeter than I'd remembered, and as I experienced the joy of the taste, the feeling of a glow inside, and gulped down the copious water it gave me, I felt as if I'd discovered a NEW fruit.

The orange is beautiful, and whether its outer garments are present or not, such a treat for the eye. The photographs for the pictures on this page were all taken in the kitchen, and outside, on a dull day, but when I looked at the pictures...well, you can see that the sun found a way of shining through!

If you're an orange-lover, you'll need no pitch from me - maybe you'll just bask in the pictures then go eat an orange. But, if, like me, you've been relatively unmoved by the orange for the first 'x' years of your life, now you're raw I urge you to rediscover this gorgeous fruit,which wants so much to give us its good things!

Don't juice it, don't put it in a smoothie, dressing or sauce. Although I blend and juice most days, I'm suggesting that you rediscover the orange by sampling it as it is - unfractured, unpulverised...although do peel it. Although I advocate eating the peel of some fruit and veg, I don't feel we should be eating orange peel - the taste and toughness tell us that. But one thing that juicing does take from the orange is the...


The 'correct' name for pith is 'albedo' (sounds much better than pith, doesn't it? I think I'll call it 'albedo' in future!). My googling reveals that this contains almost as much Vitamin C as the flesh of the fruit and contains pectin, the soluble fibre that helps ease the passage of food through our digestive systems. David Wolfe ('Sunfood Diet Success System') tells us that the pith (albedo) is high in nutrients generally, so...keep that pith! Rather than keeping the peel on, quartering the orange then sucking out the juice, peel it and cut into thick, albedo-ey wedges!

So what nutrients do oranges contain? Well, amongst others, Vitamin C, B vitamins (niacin and thiamine), potassium and...


And in fact the calcium issue is what prompted me to write this article. I regularly test my wee with pH strips. For those unfamiliar with the acidity/alkalinity issue (Dr Robert Young, 'The pH Miracle' and others), briefly, the things we do each day create acid in our bodies, our bodies need to keep the blood alkaline, and they will do whatever's necessary to restore balance (bodies that are too acidic are breeding grounds for illness). If lots of acidic foods are eaten (eg cooked food, meat, fish, pasteurised dairy, alcohol etc) the body has a tough job, and calls in mineral reserves (eg calcium) to help. We can help enormously by eating alkaline-rich foods (plant foods).

Now, as a 100% raw vegetarian, and more recently, vegan, raw fooder, I'd been disconcerted to find that, whilst my pH levels during the day were alkaline, my 'first morning wee' was very acidic. Now it's true that the first morning wee reading will always be the least alkaline of the day, but mine was below the 'safe' level, according to all the sources I checked (and believe me I checked a few, just to be sure!). I wasn't sure why this was - perhaps I was having stressy dreams (stress creates acid, and running two businesses has taken a bit of a toll recently) - but, as a woman 'of a certain age', I didn't want my body leeching calcium from the bones...

So, what happened? My fruit-eating is generally biased towards the first half of the day, as fruit is best eaten on an empty stomach. This, for those who are unaware and who regularly suffer from 'football tummy', is because fruit digests quickly, that is, it needs to pass through and out quickly. If it is eaten on top of, or with, slower-to-digest food such as nuts/seeds/grains, its path out will be blocked, and it will ferment, causing gas...

But, anyhow, sometimes I break the rules, and don't always suffer the consequences, and a few days ago I did eat a lovely, lovely orange in the evening.

The next morning my pH level had shot up to the highest I'd ever seen for a first morning wee, and well into the 'safe' zone! Repeated the orange-eating a few evenings more, and every morning good news on the strips! I'm wondering if it's the calcium - cheers to the orange for saving my bones!

And ever since then I have indeed been on 'Planet Orange' and known that the orange had to have an article all to itself.


And, in case anyone's puzzled, although oranges are termed 'acid fruits', they have an alkalising effect on our bodies.

From Dr Leon A Wilcox's essay 'The Wonderful Orange' in Hilton Hotema's 'Man's Higher Consciousness' (italics are mine):

'For twenty years I have been trying to put over a message about the wonderful orange and the benefits to be obtained from its use...Citrus fruits will always return an alkaline reaction when taken into the stomach by themselves. These fruits (in fact all juicy fruits) should never be eaten at the same meal with cooked or baked foods, nor should they ever be eaten with sugar.' He goes on to say 'cooked foods contain a certain amount of starch. When fruit juices come in contact with starch in the stomach, the reaction is certain to be fermentation. The fermenting process is what generates acid. So you see it is not the fruits that make the acid; it is the food combinations. A common sight in any restaurant in the morning at breakfast is people drinking a glass of orange juice or eating grapefruit, followed by a sweet roll, then washed down with a cup of coffee. This makes a nice acid breakfast and, if continued long enough, will produce an acid stomach, neuritis or some kind of rheumatic condition.'


The Hilton Hotema book also includes reports of people who achieved radical health transformations by living on oranges/orange juice only for relatively long periods. Two articles ago I looked at historical accounts of people who, it is claimed, subsisted on only two or three types of food. According to Herodotus, the oldest inhabitants of Greece lived on 'dates and oranges'.

Recently, I read raw fooder Victoria Boutenko tell us how her son Sergei used to spend days ski-ing with friends. They'd feel tired regularly and need to re-fuel (so they thought) with large meals. Sergei on the other hand felt continually energised on a diet of just two oranges a day!


One more specific from my own experience: on a raw diet, my sinuses are a lot clearer than they were when cooked. But, all the same, I've noticed on occasions that very shortly after eating oranges there has been a marked effect in that I've felt even clearer and without going into too much detail have felt a little mucus being freed. In Arnold Ehret's book 'Mucusless Diet Healing System' he reprints Ragnar Berg's Table, which organises foods by their acid-binding potential. The higher the food's acid-binding potential the greater its ability to dissolve mucus. Olives and figs come in highest, but the orange is still relatively high and can be described as an excellent mucus-dissolver (and thanks as so often to David Wolfe's 'Sunfood Diet Success System' for this information).


The orange is a SUPER food! Oranges make me GLOW!

Have you heard of the 'Doctrine of Signatures'. That says that the appearance of a plant, of a food, gives us a clue as to how it can benefit us. Think of a walnut, rich in Omega-3s, good for the brain. Now what organ does the walnut resemble? Left and right hemispheres?

Now look at this picture of an orange. What does it resemble?


(EDIT - since writing this article I've 'juiced' oranges in a new way (my thanks to Dr Doug Graham) which gets around some of the disadvantages of juicing. Juice several oranges, then stir some of the pith back in. Makes a wonderful slushy drink (though you'll need a spoon!))

Thursday 15 May 2008

Greek Feast

We've been having a run of good weather lately (well, we had when I started this article!) Everything in the garden seems to have doubled in size in a few days, I've been frantically scrubbing the bird-do's off the garden furniture, and phoning the local herb farm to see if they have any basil seedlings yet for the patio (since I neglected to start any from seed this year...) Isn't it wonderful to eat outside, smell the flowers, the herbs, listen to the birds, breathe some fresh air?

Here's a wonderful raw Greek menu for your next al fresco eating! Although the RawforLife monthly e-zine features recipes that don't require a dehydrator, RawforLife Blog is 'allowed'...but, if you don't have a dehydrator, you could mop up the Greek salad juices with Essene Bread instead (recipe at the RawforLife Blog here).
  • Greek salad (recipe - well, let's say 'instructions' - below)
  • RawforLife Greek Flax Crackers (recipe below)
  • Tzatziki (A 'sour-cream' dip made with cashews, lemon, cucumber and mint - for recipe see RawforLife Blog here)

Put into a large bowl as many thick wedges of large, juicy, tomato that you can eat (and more). Ditto thick wedges of cucumber. To that, add: sliced bell pepper, sliced red onion, raw olives (from here) and chopped oregano*.

Then drizzle in a little olive oil and lemon juice and give it a good stir. Don't worry too much about quantities - if you have a little too much oil and lemon, it will, mixed with the tomato and red onion, make delicious juices.

*use fresh or dried. In the summer, I usually use fresh as it grows in the garden, but, having been to many Greek islands where the tavernas generally use dried despite oregano growing wild there, dried can actually make your Greek salad taste more 'authentic'!


These are strongly-flavoured tomatoey crackers. Sometimes when I make them they come out crisp and crackly; other times a bit chewy. Either is good! I know lots of you know how to make flax crackers, but I've added a little extra in the instructions for those who have never made them before - RawforLife Greek crackers would be ideal for your first go!

(makes 3-4 trays)

  • 1 cup flax seeds (linseed), whole, soaked in 1 cup of water 2 hours
  • 1 cup flax seeds, ground
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups roughly-chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber (don't peel)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 10 raw olives, stoned and chopped
  • Oregano - 2 tbsp fresh, or 1/2 tbsp dried
  • 1 tsp sea salt
1. Place all ingredients in processor and process until quite smooth, but still a little textured and colourful.

2. Divide mixture between 3-4 paraflexx-lined dehydrator trays (3 if you want them a little chewy and 4 if you want them extra thin 'n' crispy).

3. Spread mixture out to four corners of each tray,using the back of a spoon, flat of a knife, or spatula. Keep spreading - don't worry that it's getting too thin... Smooth over large holes, but don't worry about tiny ones. Have faith - the 'gloopiness' of the flax and the dehydrating will ensure that your crackers hold together.

4. Mark out in squares, eg 4 x 4.

5. Dehydrate at 105F for 10 hours. Then flip, removing paraflexx sheets.

6. Dehydrate at 105F for another 8 hours, or longer (until crispy).

Greek salad, crackers and tzatziki could be served with confidence to raw and non-raw people alike and of course would make a colourful and tasty addition to an outdoors buffet, or indoors, as the case may be...(comfort for those in rainy climes - the more rain the cleaner the air).

Thursday 8 May 2008

How many raw foods do we need for a 'balanced diet'?

The standard cooked diet has all sorts of tentacles with which to draw the newbie raw fooder back in, and I felt concerned a while ago to hear that someone had reverted to a normal' (ie part-cooked) diet because she felt that a 'varied' cooked-food diet was better than her 'limited' raw one.

Was she right to be concerned?

We are told from schooldays onwards to make sure we're getting a 'balanced' diet, that we need to eat a wide variety of foods in order to obtain sufficient vitamin this or that, mineral this or that, protein, calcium, etc. We' re told to eat from various 'food groups', to put meals together on that basis, or at least ensure we're eating from all within a day, within a can not only seem quite complicated, but this advice is still ringing in our ears when we embark on a radical change of diet, to raw.

Of course, 99% of life-forms don't appear to have such problems. Most animals eat just one or two sorts of food (perhaps varying by season) and, somehow... seem to make everything they need for their bodies from these foods. But then of course, they are eating their foods whole, and don't cook them.

Of course, the obvious retort to that is that we're not animals. Is it the case that it's all a lot more complicated for human beings?

Time and time again, in the cooked-food nutrition world, we hear that health and longevity are linked to very simple, rather than very complex, diets - diets consisting of a small number of foods rather than a large variety. We hear of those in other parts of the world managing to be strong and healthy, and relatively free from the diseases that plague people in the UK, without seemingly worrying about whether they're eating a balanced meal or getting enough of certain nutrients. What does appear to be common to all these accounts is that these people are eating a far higher proportion of their food whole and raw (if not all of it) than even the average 'healthy eater' in this country.

But when we damage and destroy our food by cooking it, boy do we make things complicated!

Here are some accounts of human beings, apparently living healthily on very 'limited' diets. To my knowledge, not one of these accounts is backed up with testimony of 100 witnesses, scientific evidence, etc, so I'll leave it to the reader as to whether to attach any credence to them. But, it would be reasonable to guess that, in these cases, the foods spoken of are raw.

The Roman poet, Horace, describes his diet: 'As for me, olives, endives, and smooth mallows provide sustenance.'

(The olive is a fruit containing all sorts of great things for us, including fat - see RawforLife Blog article here. Horace was combining this with green leaves.)

John The Baptist is reputed as living on 'locusts and wild honey'. I researched this some time ago and found evidence to suggest that 'locusts' was, before translation/edits, the 'locust-tree', another name for the carob tree. Many raw fooders will know carob as a highly nutritious pod with a chocolatey flavour.

Arnold Ehret, raw fooder, ate mainly apples, raisins and green leaves. Although, in Ehret's time, raisins had seeds, so he would have been consuming some fat within these.

From Hotema's 'Man's Higher Consciousness'
'Dr Evens said 'Among instances of longevity, we have the ancient Britons who, according to Plutarch, 'only begin to grow old at 210'. Their food consists almost exclusively of acorns, berries and water.'

'The oldest inhabitants of Greece, the Pelasgians, who came before the Dorian, Ionian and Eolian migrations, inhabited Arcadia and Thessaly, possessing the island of Lesbos and Lokemantos, which were full of orange groves. The people, with their diet of dates and oranges, lived on an average of more than 200 years.'

Should we believe these claims of longevity? We know that the Bible talks of men living 700 years plus in the distant past. Perhaps all these accounts are fictitious, perhaps people in those days measured time in a different way, perhaps they couldn't count... perhaps...

Raw fooder David Wolfe ('Sunfood Diet Success System') describes how he lived on a grapevine for a week once after a horse ate his food. Well, I'm wondering if the grapevine could sustain us for a lot longer than a week...the vine in my greenhouse produces thousands of grapes each September/October, and, of course, vineleaves. The leaves don't taste good this time of year, as the vine is still in the early stages of growth, but in the early autumn I can eat the leaves, the fruit, and because I always eat the pips in grapes (see RawforLife article here ) I get green leaves, fruit and fat from just one plant (note - please campaign to have the seeds put back into our fruit!).

The Essene Gospel of Peace tells us: 'Be content with two or three sorts of food'. (But it also said 'Cook not.')

People on a standard cooked diet will indeed find their bodies prompting them to eat lots and lots of different foods, in a frantic search for all the things that have been cooked out of their foods - our bodies know! But of course they will often eat and eat in vain, and be piling in those toxins that lead to illness.

And, despite sensationalist TV programmes on people purportedly living solely on chips, jam sandwiches, whatever, I haven't seen any credible evidence of people existing healthily in the long-term, on 'limited' diets consisting of a small number of cooked foods, and it concerns me that the grain we send to people who have very little to eat is often then cooked.

But it appears to be the case that the more raw, ie undamaged, foods in our diet, the fewer foods we need to obtain everything necessary for our bodies. My hunch is that if all our food is whole and raw we can actually meet our bodies' needs on perhaps two or three foods only, varying by season.

I'm a long way from that right now, as I am somewhat of a piggie and, although 100% raw, certainly don't discipline myself - my grocery bills are quite high...

But, I'm looking towards a far simpler diet in the future. I have in the garden the vine, which just keeps growing each year, with no upkeep needed save cutting back once in the winter. There's a mature hazel-nut. I've just planted an eating-apple tree and sown mallow. My baby olive tree, against a wall (the garden faces south), has lasted a winter that's included thick snow. A fig hasn't done much to date, but a friend has a mature tree, which is encouraging. And, if it does well, I'll be looking into methods of drying.

I believe we can meet our bodies' needs from a relatively small list of foods, many of which (not all - in UK!) can be obtained from the land around us, as long as they're eaten whole and raw, and suggest that if you eat all your food raw, as long as you're including green leaves, fruit and a little fat in your diet (eg from seeds), you can probably stop worrying about whether you're getting a 'balanced' diet.

And, if anyone's worried about the economy, look in the garden. And if you don't have one, move out of the city.