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Winter scenery, frosty trees and snowstorm in a city park

It’s a cold December night here in Connecticut (just outside of New York City) with rain and ice particles tapping against my window. I’m warm inside with the heat on which is certainly a stark contrast to the temperature outside. Even where Rick and I live in northern California, winter weather can be cold at times, especially at night. We’ve even had a couple of frosts there in recent years, but we know that many of you live in much colder places, so….

It’s not surprising that one of the many questions Rick and I are asked is how to stay raw or mostly raw in the winter time, especially in a cold or very cold climate. This question is especially pertinent and the answer is one I know from my own personal experience. I started my raw food journey in February of 1990 here in the northeastern United States. Snow was on the ground, temperatures were below freezing on most days, and good quality produce was scarce. I found out rather quickly that I would need to be creative in my raw food approach, given that many of the available raw food books at the time extolled the virtues of beautiful tropical fruits that I had never heard of and the benefits of moving to a warm climate. Neither was my reality at the time, so here are some tips that made that winter of 1990 a success with raw food along with some other strategies and thoughts I have learned since then:

  1. Keep it simple – My first winter on raw, I focused on produce that was available in my local grocery store. There weren’t any “health food” stores that sold produce in the area where I lived so I made the best with what was available to me. Availability of raw fruits and vegetables that winter back in 1990 was much more limited than today. Fruit choices included bananas, oranges, apples, pears, grapes, dried papaya, raisins, and some others. Leafy green choices included three different types of lettuce, spinach, and other greens that I had never tried, like kale. I was so excited with how good I felt on raw that the limited variety of produce in my area did not really phase me much at all. Instead I enjoyed my adventure exploring foods that were new to me and along with different raw food preparation methods.
  2. Make warm dressings for salad – Back in 1990, I made dressings in my low powered blender and found that they would get somewhat warm during the process. Years later, when Rick and I purchased a high-power blender, we found that our dressings and sauces could get quite warm.
  3. Use of warming spices can be an option – Back in 1990, I did not use warming spices mostly because I was not yet familiar with them. Now, many of our students speak about their use of ginger, cumin, curry, turmeric, and others in their recipes.
  4. Warm soups in the dehydrator – I did not have a dehydrator back in 1990, but in recent years I have used our dehydrator to warm various raw soups.
  5. Exercise! – I think this is one of the most underutilized strategies for people trying to stay warm in cold climates. I can understand why, especially if one has to go outside to exercise in cold or extremely cold temperatures. Since I have been running regularly for several years now, winter temperatures do not seem as cold to me. I find that my hands and feet are warm throughout the winter, which makes sense, given that one of the many benefits of exercise is increased peripheral circulation.
  6. Check on the availability of seasonal fruits and vegetables – Seasonal fruits for late fall and early winter include some of my favorites including persimmons and pomegranates. Many varieties of leafy greens grow in California during the winter and can be found at many markets throughout the winter here in the US. Back in the winter of 1990, I had much more slim pickings in the produce department, but with growing demand for quality produce in recent decades, it is likely much easier to find better-stocked produce departments in cold climates.
  7. Freeze fruits gathered in summer for winter – Another strategy for having a wider variety of produce available in the winter would be gathering and freezing seasonal berries in the summer. If gathering is impractical for you or if you live in an urban area, stores like Costco and Trader Joe’s have some varieties of organic frozen fruit available year ‘round. I know that freezing may not be optimal, but this may be better than the alternatives if there is little produce availability. These frozen fruits can then be used to make smoothies or defrosted to for use in fruit salads or other recipes. In the winter, when I make a smoothie with frozen ingredients, I find myself allowing the smoothie to warm for several minutes at room temperature so it won’t be as cold when I eat it.
  8. Raw food does not have to be cold – When I take vegetables out of the fridge to make salad for Rick and I, by the time the salad is finished the vegetables are close to room temperature. Adding a warm blended dressing on top of the salad makes for an even warmer meal.
  9. At what temperature do we comfortably eat cooked food, anyway? How many times have you experienced a burning sensation on the inside of your mouth eating food that was too hot? Before I became interested in raw food, I found myself blowing on hot food in an attempt to cool it to a temperature that was comfortable to eat. Through many searches of the scientific literature over the years I’ve found that certain vitamins, phytonutrients, and enzymes start to degrade at around 104°F (40°C) and find that food warmed in a dehydrator to 104°F is comfortably warm for me. When I haven’t had access to a dehydrator, I have warmed food on the stove to 104°F on a couple of occasions. My point here is that we often find it uncomfortable to consume hot foods, so does food really have to be cooked first in order to be warming to our body? Just some food for thought 🙂 …..

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Earth

When I first became interested in health 25 years ago, in addition to choosing a healthful diet, I learned the importance of taking care of our beautiful planet, its precious resources, and its inhabitants. Back then, I asked myself how I as an individual, could make a difference in making the world a greener place. I realized then that collective action from a number of people can absolutely make a difference, and that people do take action when they begin to realize the changes each person can make to add to the whole.

Since my health journey began, I‘ve seen many changes in the “green habits” people have adopted. Recycling is a great example. Growing up in the 1970s, my hometown did not have curbside recycling and I had not heard of any municipality that did. Today, I can’t think of a community that doesn’t offer recycling. This exemplifies the influence that groups of conscientious people can have on public policy. Fuel efficient cars are another great example. Over the last several years, wherever I travel in the U.S. I’ve seen growing numbers of hybrid and alternative fuel cars. The city where I live even gives financial incentives to people who replace their lawns with native plants, encouraging water conservation.

Here are several examples of simple things that Rick and I do regularly to make a positive contribution:

• Grow our own food
• Use vinegar as a weed eliminator
• Use gray water to water our lawn
• Use green cleaners and personal care products
• Wash and reuse produce bags

Rick and I have always grown our own food in the places we’ve lived, no matter how small. When we lived in apartments, we sprouted and did our best to grow food in containers on our apartment patio, when possible. When we moved into our house, we built raised bed gardens and bought some wine barrel planters. Since we live in northern California, our garden is productive all year, and we grow popular summer staple foods like tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers, several types of greens, squash, and many other vegetables and fruits. Our winter garden is mostly composed of hardy greens like kale.

We’ve found that vinegar makes a great weed eliminator in the areas of our yard that do not have food producing plants like the front yard. One huge caveat would be to NOT use vinegar on lawn weeds, since it kills grass! We found this out the hard way. Fortunately, the lawn in these areas is growing back now— since we’ve watered it (and rest of our lawn) with gray water.

When we shower, we collect the gray water in buckets and use the water on our lawn, trees, and shrubs. This can be a little cumbersome at first, since we have to carry the buckets from our shower out to the front yard. When we started doing this, we were astounded at how much water we used for showering, but carrying the water has taught us to use much less, which is especially important now that California is experiencing a drought.

I’ve used natural and biodegradable household cleaners, soaps, shampoos, and conditioners for 25+ years, and am gratified to find many more quality eco-friendly products available today.

For many years, I’ve washed and reused plastic produce bags. This takes a little time, but I absolutely think it is time well spent and I’m happy to help keep plastic out of the landfill. Many communities now forbid plastic bags for purchases—another great sign of progress for going greener. Green bags and reusable mesh bags are now available for produce as well.

Another green strategy includes buying locally produced food to cut down on fossil fuel expenditure during transportation, opting out of receiving junk mail to save paper, using rechargeable batteries to run remote controls and other gadgets, and eating mostly organic food. A couple of years ago we replaced the single-paned windows in our house with double-paned windows to save on heat loss. Our best strategy of all is to eat a high raw, whole food plant-based diet, which provides numerous benefits both for our health and the planet.

This is just a sampling of our “go greener” strategy. We know that every positive change each of us makes contributes to a greener, healthier planet for all!

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carrotsWhere does one get vitamin A on a plant-based vegan diet?

Vitamin A is essential for proper cell growth and reproduction and is probably best known for its importance in vision. It also plays an important role in immune system function and skin health. Vitamin A (also known as retinol) is found exclusively in animal foods and various vitamin supplements. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for humans, so if one is eating a vegan diet, where is this vitamin A obtained? Fortunately, the human body converts beta-carotene and certain other carotenoids to vitamin A when necessary. Beta-carotene is a well-known carotenoid famous for providing carrots with their orange coloring and is found in many other plant foods, especially green, yellow, and orange-colored fruits and vegetables.

Beta-carotene conversion to vitamin A

How does this conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A work? In the human body, beta-carotene is converted to retinal by a dioxygenase enzyme. Retinal is then converted to retinol (vitamin A) by a dehydrogenase enzyme:

Beta carotene conversio to retinol

 

Other carotenoids that are capable of converting to vitamin A in the human body include alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Of the four carotenoids, the one that converts the most reliably to vitamin A is beta-carotene.

Why is my skin orange?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient, which means that it can be stored in our body and we run the risk of getting too much from outside sources, such as supplements consumed in excess of the body’s needs. Carotenoids are fat soluble also, but do not carry the same risks as vitamin A with excess consumption. In excess of the body’s needs, carotenoids are stored in fat cells including those under our skin, giving an orange color to the skin which is only cosmetic.

Do we have to cook our food to get enough beta-carotene and vitamin A?

Many people have asked about the effectiveness of this carotenoid conversion mechanism and how well carotenoids are absorbed from raw food. A recent study found normal vitamin A status and favorable blood beta-carotene levels in 200 long-term raw food enthusiasts. This indicates is that these raw foodists consumed a good amount of beta-carotene, a quantity was absorbed and was present in their bloodstream, and then an appropriate amount was converted into vitamin A.

References:

Fleshman, Matthew Kintz. Beta Carotene Absorption and Metabolism. Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 2011.

Garcia A, Koebnick C, Dagnelie P, Strassner C, Elmadfa I, Katz N, Leitzmann C, Hoffman I. British Journal of Nutrition 2008; 99: 1293 – 1300.

Interested in taking your vitamin A, beta-carotene, and general nutrition knowledge to the next level?

We cover this topic and so much more in our online Mastering Raw Food Nutrition and Educator Course. For more class details, click here.

Additionally, our book The Raw Food Nutrition Handbook: An Essential Guide to Understanding Raw Food Diets addresses many hot topics in raw food nutrition such as essential fats, protein, nutrient content of raw food diets, food combining, enzymes, hydration, vitamins, minerals, and many more. We value education on these important topics and are happy to finally bring this book to you. The book is available on Amazon and other online booksellers.

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Red leaf lettuce

Spring is in the air and gardening season has begun in our home! Some of the many joys a raw food enthusiast experiences in Springtime are: preparing soil in raised beds to grow favorite garden vegetables, choosing the perfect vegetable starts, then planting them and watching them grow throughout the season. Harvest time is always exciting, too, as we reap the “fruits of our labor” (and the vegetables, too!).

Plant leafy greens for optimal nutrition

This year, in order to pack our raw vegan diet with optimal nutrition, we’ve planted a plenitude of leafy greens, including several types of lettuce, frisée (curly endive), dandelion greens, arugula, two types of kale, and two types of collard greens. The lettuce varieties we planted are heirloom varieties of green leaf, red leaf, red Romaine, green Romaine, and red oak leaf.  Lettuce, frisée, and dandelion greens are all members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), while arugula, kale, and collard greens are members of the cabbage family (Brassicaceae). Members of this plant family are also known as cruciferous vegetables, and include broccoli, cauliflower, maca, turnip, rutabaga, Brussels sprouts, watercress, red and green cabbage, bok choy, and Napa cabbage.

We’ve also planted several varieties of tomatoes, including some of the heirloom varieties we love, like Pineapple tomatoes, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Brandywine, and several different types of cherry tomatoes.  Several tomato varieties love heat, and we planted those in our yard on the south side of the house, which is warmer than the rest of our yard and more sheltered from the wind. Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) along with bell peppers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatillos, goji berries, Incan berries, jalapeño peppers, and other hot pepper varieties.

Plant mints in containers for best results

We have quite a few plants from the mint family in our yard this year, including several types of basil and four types of mint. Mints have a tendency to grow and spread prolifically.  Early in my gardening career I made the mistake of planting mint in my raised beds and found out the hard way that mint plants have a tendency to “take over” the garden. This year, I learned from past experience and planted the mints in half wine barrels to keep them appropriately contained.  However, if you want a very aromatic ground cover, Corsican Mint is a beautiful choice.  A couple of years ago, I planted it in a makeshift herb garden in a non-grassy area of my yard. It has since spread and creates a deliciously fragrant chocolate mint addition to the area.  It may surprise you to know that Chia seeds are another member of the mint family famously popular in the raw food community!

On the other hand, most types of basil stay localized in their growth habit, so I plant basil directly in my raised beds. They make a lovely companion planting next to the tomatoes, and the two are a perfect culinary combination, especially in Italian cuisine.

Fruit-bearing plants in our yard include two types of lemon trees and a fig tree, which is already producing numerous small figs. The fig tree is only five years old, and has already been producing numerous baskets of figs for the last three seasons. Since we adore figs, we’re really looking forward to harvest time later this year!

Plant fruits and vegetables no matter where you live

This is a small sampling of the foods we are currently growing in our yard and garden. We enjoy being able to create more diversity in our raw food diets and growing foods we enjoy that can be harder to find in the grocery store aisles. Even more importantly, we notice a big difference in the taste and quality of the foods we grow compared to the ones we buy. We suggest growing fruits and vegetables—you’ll be well rewarded in both taste and nutritional value. Before we had a back yard, we grew vegetables and fruits on our apartment patio, and sprouts, greens, and grasses near a window in our dining room. There are so many ways to grow your own food, and at harvest time, you’ll be grateful that you made the worthwhile effort.  Happy gardening!


 

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When I started eating a raw food diet 24 years ago, I thought that ripe bananas were simply yellow, with no green coloring. About a month after starting my raw food journey, a raw food friend of mine mentioned that bananas are truly ripe when they look like this:

Ripe bananas 2

Ripe bananas

Here is more of the story:

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Large light green juice

I have shared this recipe on my blog in the past and now I have a short video explaining how I make this juice:

This juice has been one of my favorites for years because of its simplicity, nutrient content, and versatility. I find it to be a great introductory juice recipe for people new to juicing, since it has a lighter taste than green juice that contains darker leafy greens. I personally love the taste of dark leafy greens, but for some, the taste may need some “getting used to”. I can certainly appreciate this, given that when I became interested in health years ago, I did not even know that dandelion greens were edible. Now, they are one of my favorite leafy greens!

Here is the recipe:

5 stalks of celery (12” long)

1 lemon, peeled

2 medium cucumber, 8” long

This recipe makes about 32 ounces of juice. Here are some of the nutrients found in these ingredients:

  Light Green Juice ingredients Adult Daily Values
Calories 165.9  
Calcium 246.2 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 2.83 8 – 18 mg
Zinc 1.67 8 – 11 mg
Magnesium 120.2 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 1832.9 4700 mg

The mineral content of such simple ingredients is amazing to me, especially calcium and iron. The sodium content of these ingredients is 270 mg, most of which is found in the celery. Cheers!
 
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In this video, Rick explains his experience with juicing:

Here is one of Rick's favorite green juice recipes:

Here is another of Rick's favorite juice recipes:

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Our new YouTube channel is LIVE! After so many requests, we finally have a YouTube channel where we will be posting videos on a variety of health related topics! We have a couple of videos posted there now, including Rick’s three part essential fat video, and a video about our visit to the NY wholesale produce market:

Rick and I have visited wholesale markets in both the San Francisco bay area and the New York metro area. We live in the SF bay area, so when we buy from our local wholesale produce markets we buy enough food to last us about 3 weeks. Why so much? The food available at wholesale markets is sold in boxes or cases. This works well for us because the produce is so fresh, that it lasts for often weeks at a time in our large-capacity dedicated refrigerator.

We have found that when we buy lettuce at wholesale, the heads are very large, since very few, if any of the outer leaves have been removed. These heads of lettuce are generally larger than the heads we see at the grocery store, which likely have had leaves removed to maintain a fresh look. I really enjoy going to wholesale markets because of the wide variety of food available, especially organic. A very large percentage of the food that we eat is organically grown here in California.

For produce enthusiasts like us, wholesale markets can be a great way to purchase in quantity and save a notable amount of money. Rick has calculated that on average, we spend about 50% less money on produce from the wholesale markets that we would spend on the same amount of produce at the grocery store. You may be wondering if we go to farmers markets and the answer is yes, we love our local farmers market! We can often find foods at the farmers market that are not available at the wholesale market and vice versa.

The wholesale markets we have attended open around midnight or later and close around 10 am or earlier, depending on the vendor, so Rick and I find ourselves waking at 5 am to beat rush hour to the markets. I especially love these markets, since our need to go shopping for food weekly is drastically reduced. I find myself only having to do some minor fill-in shopping for items not available at the wholesale markets, maybe once a week or twice a month. With this shopping strategy, Rick and I overall spend much less time shopping and have more time available for work and other activities we enjoy.

The challenge is that our local wholesale markets are in San Francisco and South San Francisco which are about an hour and fifteen minutes away from our home if there is little traffic. The wholesale produce market that we have visited in the New York area is in the Bronx, which is also about an hour and fifteen minutes from our parents’ homes, where we stay on our visits to the New York metro area. This market has similar hours to our bay area wholesale markets, but is much larger.

Without a doubt, wholesale markets are certainly an experience and a great way to buy fresh produce in quantity. They can also be a tremendous resource for people who live in areas that have limited access to fresh produce year round, providing that the person lives within driving distance of a wholesale market. Many major metro areas have wholesale markets, and our experience at the two we have visited is that most vendors sell to individuals, although some sell exclusively businesses. You will have to check with individual vendors to learn their sales policies.

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My dad enjoys vegetables, such as those found in this salad.

Over the past several years, the longevity field has exploded in popularity as many people have become interested in staying as healthy and fit as possible into their golden years. My dad, who turned 87 this month, has been talking about the importance of fitness and health for as long as I can remember. Over the holidays this year, dad and I talked about the health-promoting habits that have made a difference in his life. Here are 5 things that he mentioned:

1. The importance of moving one’s body - When I was a child, dad started practicing yoga just about every morning upon rising at 5 AM – this was before many people had even heard of the practice. In addition this, my dad has been walking almost daily for the past 30+ years. His walking routine varies depending on the weather and ranges from 2 – 4 miles, with hills included. Dad walks within his body’s ability and he always says that it is important to not “overdo it”. He is happy to have maintained this level of fitness for so many years and does not experience any joint pain or lack of range of motion anywhere in is body. His friends often tell him that he is lucky to be able to move as well as he does, and his response to them is that he is able to do so because he started his exercise routine many years ago and has maintained it since then.

2. The importance of moving one’s mind – My dad is and has always been an avid reader. He loves learning and has numerous interests that keep his mind engaged constantly. Whenever I talk to him, he wants to talk about some new subject or idea he has recently learned. He thinks that this lifetime love of learning has helped him maintain his mental fitness over the years. He has volunteered at a local library for many years, and one of the benefits of this is exposure to lots of books within his areas of interest.

3. Relaxation is important – I work a lot, given the nature of my career. This work ethic extends to just about everything else I do, so when I am spending time working on projects with dad, I work on them until completion, even if it takes quite a bit of time and focus. When dad sees me working like this he commends me for my dedication and reminds me to take rest breaks, since he feels that rest is just as important as work. He also has told me on many occasions that excessive stress is “not worth it”. He thinks that a little stress can be a good motivator, but that constant stress can be harmful. He has always encouraged me to transform stress into action and not to worry about the things I can’t control. As much as that sounds like common sense, it’s always a good reminder.

4. A sense of humor is invaluable – Need I say more?

5. You are never too old to change – AKA flexibility of thinking. My dad has always said that “what you learn is important and how you apply what you have learned is equally important”. Dad thinks of himself as being selectively open minded, similar to me. He likes to educate himself well about subjects so that he can make a decision based on a substantial amount of information – sounds like critical thinking, which I talk about in our Science of Raw Food Nutrition classes.

When I first started becoming interested in health back in the late 1980s, dad was curious about the information I was learning and he was impressed with my health improvements. He made some changes to his diet here and there over the years, but did not really maintain the changes. About a year and a half ago, dad decided that he was ready to make some dietary changes and to move toward a plant-based diet. Over the past year and a half, he has noted that the more whole natural plant foods he consumes, the better he feels. He says he has more energy, thinks more clearly, has experienced improvements in his short and long term memory, can climb hills more easily while on his walks without having to rest at the top of the hill, etc. Myself and other family members have noticed these differences, too. 

Dad attributes his improvements to both diet and exercise, but feels that diet especially has played a role, given that he has already been exercising for many years. He emphatically says that his changes have improved his life dramatically, and he thinks that at 87 years old, this has made all the difference in the world for him. He always says that age need not be a factor in one’s decision to make health promoting changes in one’s life and he is happy that he had the open mindedness to do so.

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Chocolate mint growing in our garden

Chocolate, did someone say chocolate?! Yes, chocolate mint, which is one of the many types of mint that one can find in their search for mint plants. In my journeys to various nurseries and plant sales, I have seen the obvious peppermint and spearmint, along with other more exotic types of mint including chocolate mint, and so many more.

I personally love chocolate mint – the fragrance stays true to its name and the flavor to me has a mild peppermint flavor. I currently have chocolate mint and several other types of mint growing in a planter on our deck and find myself enjoying the fragrance of the mint plants whenever I venture into our backyard garden. I have yet to find information on the nutrient content of chocolate mint, so here is a nutrient analysis of its close relative, peppermint, which contains small amounts of important nutrients:

  Fresh peppermint leaves, 10 Adult Daily Values
Calories 0.35  
Calcium 1.22 1000 – 1200 mg
Magnesium 0.40 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 2.85 4700 mg

I know, nutrient-wise peppermint is rather unremarkable, but Rick and I have found it can really add some zing to frozen recipes especially on hot summer days like today.

Speaking of frozen recipes, I was recently inspired by the fragrance and taste of chocolate mint to create a fun and simple recipe that Rick loves:

Chocolate mint banana ice cream (1 – 2 servings)

3 peeled frozen bananas

10 medium leaves of chocolate mint

There are many ways that Rick and I have made this ice cream. We have used a food processor, high powered blender, and twin-gear juicer. Today, I used the food processor. First, I gathered 10 leaves of chocolate mint from the garden, and then cut 3 frozen bananas into pieces about this size:

 

Next, I placed the banana pieces and the chocolate mint leaves into the food processor and placed the lid on the container. I blended the bananas and chocolate mint leaves using short pulses until the mixture became more homogenous:

 

I then blended the mixture continuously until smooth:

 

I then scooped the mixture into a serving bowl and placed into the freezer for about 5 minutes to let the mixture freeze. Today was a really hot day, so the mixture was a little runny after blending. Freezing for a few minutes after blending keeps the ice cream from melting before serving. When Rick and I were ready to eat the ice cream, we removed the mixture from the freezer and served with a chocolate mint garnish:

This recipe makes one medium serving or two small servings. Of course, one can make more or less depending on how much one would like to have – Rick likes to eat a lot more than this! 🙂

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Whew, what a sense of accomplishment! Rick and I spent a large part of this weekend working on a front yard garden project – planting lemon bushes and a lime tree! We have wanted to do this project for so long, and finally took some time out of our very busy work schedule to do some landscaping that yields these two of our favorite fruits.

When we moved into our house, our front yard had numerous rose bushes with lovely flowers. After a period of time, we noticed that the blooms started to disappear. I would notice rosebuds on the verge of opening on one day, only to find the bud gone the next. Puzzling – why would a rosebud disappear? This occurrence became increasingly frequent, to the point where it was rare to see flowers or buds on our front yard rose bushes. We had a hunch about what was happening to our roses, but it wasn’t until one morning when I woke up for no particular reason around 4 am. I looked out one of our front windows to find a large deer feasting on our rose bushes! Just as we suspected, which hardly surprised us, given that we live near open space.

We have always loved lemons and limes, so we thought that they would make an attractive addition to our yard and replacement for the roses. About a month ago, we purchased 4 lemon bushes and a lime tree and set aside this past weekend for planting. Since our purchase, the lemon bushes have flowered and have small lemons growing on them! We really like the idea of landscaping that is both attractive and productive. Our neighbors with citrus plants have not had a problem with deer eating them, but we will see what happens. In the meantime, we are excited about the new additions to our yard! To celebrate, here is a recipe for green lemonade (aka my favorite green juice):

8 stalks of celery (12” long)

1 medium lemon, peeled

3 medium cucumber, 8” long

This recipe makes about 48 ounces of juice, depending on the ingredients. Here is a nutrient analysis of the juice ingredients:

  Green lemonade ingredients Adult Daily Values
Calories 241.7  
Calcium 371.1 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 4.1 8 – 18 mg
Zinc 2.5 8 – 11 mg
Magnesium 180.4 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 2774.5 4700 mg
Vitamin C 85.7 70 – 90 mg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.38 1.1 – 1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.61 1.1 – 1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)       2.61 14 – 16 mg
Folate 256.8 400 mcg

 

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This week, Rick and I returned home from teaching out of town to find that many our small, six-inch long zucchini squash had grown to over a foot long! There was quite a bit of heat in our area while we were gone, so we weren’t too surprised, but now we are left with a dilemma – what to do with so many huge summer squash. Here are five ideas:

1.  Shred into salad – Simple and one of our all-time favorite ways to enjoy summer squash. Rick especially loves summer squash in his salad.

 

2.  Use in dressing – Summer squash is a great ingredient to help add volume to a salad dressing. For example, we use summer squash to increase the volume of our miso-tahini-lemon dressing which is a great strategy to decrease the fat content per volume of a higher fat dressing.

    1. Our recipe: Juice of ½ lemon, 2 tablespoons tahini (we like raw tahini), ½ teaspoon chickpea miso, 2 cups chopped summer squash. Blend in blender until smooth.

3.  Make spiralized summer squash pasta – Have a pasta party! Here is a blog post with recipes for squash pasta and sauce.

4.  Steam them – This helps to soften the toughness of large summer squash skin. We enjoy steaming large summer squash and adding some avocado for consistency and flavor. This recipe reminds me of the steamed summer squash mom used to make when I was young.

5.  Share the wealth – We are now in the process of trying 🙂 to share our squash with neighbors and friends. Resoundingly, they have said “hey, thanks for the month supply” (smile) and asked “how can we prepare these?” See 1 – 4 for ideas.

Nutrient analysis of summer squash – all varieties:

  Summer squash – 2 cups chopped (226 g) Adult Daily Values
Beta carotene 271 mcg  
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.11 1.1 – 1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.32 1.1 – 1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)       1.10 14 – 16 mg
Folate 65.5 400 mcg
Calcium 33.9 1,000 – 1,200 mg
Magnesium 38.4 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 592.1 4,700 mg

Summer squash may not be a nutrient powerhouse, but it certainly can provide contributory amounts of certain key nutrients, such as the B vitamins listed on the chart above, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

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After we sent out our last newsletter, we received many questions, comments, and emails. Right now we are teaching our Science of Raw Food Nutrition classes and will be able to answer your questions and emails as time permits. Thank you for all of your kind words about our blog and newsletter and we look forward to bringing more of this type of information to you in the future!

Best of Health,

Drs. Rick and Karin Dina, D.C.

 

Are blueberries a superfood?

"I noticed that you do not sell superfoods or other food products on your website, why not?" This is a common question that we are asked by people we meet and visitors to our website. The answer is quite simple: we want the information we present to be as objective as we can possibly achieve and this value is very important to us. Our Science of Raw Food Nutrition classes contain information for personal health empowerment, not information associated with product promotion. So, when we are asked a question about a food or product, the answer reflects our own personal experience, research, and observation. We are happy to be able to provide you with this type of information.

Please note that we are NOT necessarily against anyone selling superfoods or food products. In fact, there have been many products that we have tried over the years that we have enjoyed and found to be of excellent quality and very useful. We look at superfoods and food products individually, since they are so diverse in their biochemical and nutritional characteristics. We just choose not to sell them, and a good number of our students and blog readers appreciate this about us. All we sell is education.

What do you think? Is the fact that we don't sell food products of significance to you?

Can certain commonly found fruits and vegetables be called "superfoods"? We think so 🙂

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8

We hope that you had a joyful and healthy holiday season! January is always special time of the year for Rick and I. It is a time to rest, regroup, and set our sights on the coming year. It is also a time when we sit down and ask ourselves some formative questions: how have we progressed toward reaching our personal and professional goals and what do we want to achieve in the coming year.

Among many projects this year, we plan to continue our weekly blog posts on various health-related topics and would like to know what you want to see on this blog!

What nutrition and health topics are of interest to you? Are you interested in our travels, raw food science, our classes, and/or gardening? Are you interested in simply presented information or do you want to read about more technical topics such as nutritional biochemistry and physiology? Do you want to hear about the latest peer-reviewed nutrition research articles and clinical outcomes?

There are so many fascinating topics to share with you so we thank you for taking your time to post your questions and topics in the comment section below this blog post. We really appreciate your input!

Many thanks to Karen Ranzi, author of the book Creating Healthy Children, for hosting us at her home in October for our 4-hour raw food class "Great News about Raw Food Nutrition".

In the class, we reviewed several scientific studies of long term raw food populations. We also covered several thorough and enlightening nutrient analyses from different popular raw food approaches, and a discussed the potential pros and cons of each. It was really revealing to break things down and see what nutrients are found on each of the raw food plans.

As always, we enjoyed connecting with raw food enthusiasts, sharing information, and answering questions. If you or your group would like to host us for an event in your area, please get in touch with us through the "contact us" page on this website.

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Many thanks to Glen Colello and Lisa Storch, for recently hosting us for two successful programs at Catch a Healthy Habit café in Fairfield, Connecticut. We did an evening talk with a food demo followed by a weekend 4-hour workshop, where we shared much information about science-based raw food nutrition.

 As always, it was fun to connect with so many raw food enthusiasts to share experiences and information. For those of you in the area, Catch a Healthy Habit is a vibrant raw food café in Fairfield center with lots of great menu items including smoothies, juices, salads, entrees, and creative desserts. Glen and Lisa also host a number of great health speakers there regularly. What a great raw food and plant-based health resource – in southern CT!

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The raw restaurant Life Food Gourmet in Miami was an exceptional experience in many ways. For starters, the décor is fashionable and comfortable. The owner of the restaurant happened to be there when we were ordering, and talked to us for a few minutes about the history of Life Food Gourmet. He was very kind and interested in our experience at his restaurant – which was fabulous. I had one of the BEST salads I have ever had at a raw restaurant.

Rick and I are tough customers when it comes to large salads at raw restaurants, and we were amazed to see that this salad was so well sized. Usually, salads at raw restaurants are a little small for our taste, but this one was much larger than expected. Additionally, the combination of ingredients in the salad and the dressing was outstanding flavor-wise. 🙂 I was impressed. In the spirit of Café Gratitude, I would name this salad “I Am Impressed!” The actual name of the salad was House Salad.

House Salad

We also enjoyed our hummus plate (Mediterranean Nachos) and Burrito. Kudos to the staff and owner(s) of this exceptional restaurant – we thoroughly enjoyed our experience there. Next time we go to south Florida, Life Food Gourmet will be on our list of must-go places!

Burrito

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We had dinner and gave a presentation to students at Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, one of the nights we were in south Florida. The dinner spread was beautiful:

And the food was delicious! I loved the salad and dressing, greens, and the variety of prepared raw plant dishes. Our presentation was enjoyable and many attendees stayed after the presentation and talked to us about various raw food topics. We always appreciate connecting with raw food enthusiasts! Here is Dr. Rick Dina, D.C. presenting at Hippocrates in Wigmore Hall, named after the late raw food educator Ann Wigmore:

We will be presenting in Connecticut and New Jersey in October! Please see our events page for venue details.

One of the best ways to keep in touch with us is to join our email list. We send out monthly newsletters, notifications of our speaking engagements, and more: