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Several years ago, I started reading a blog named Green and Crunchy written by Sheri, an amazing mom of five (now six) children.  Sheri blogged about feeding her family decadent vegan and raw food and shared many pictures of the food they ate.  She inspired me to make numerous changes in our own diets over the years…and to start this blog.

Sadly, Sheri’s blog has since been taken down.  Her home life was far too busy to maintain a blog in the way she wanted to.  I miss her boundless energy and beautiful food, but I am so thankful she passed on so many wonderful ideas and inspirations to me so that I may pass them on to you.

I learned about raw food first from Green and Crunchy.  And I was instantly hooked.

Fresh veggies with raw ranch dressing

When we decided to optimize our family’s nutrition we planned to eat more fruits and vegetables (a LOT more, in fact they would become the majority of the dinner plate).  Raw food was a very alluring food option for my family because many things are quick and easy to prepare.  Chop some veggies, create a fabulous sauce and you’ve got a delicious healthful snack.  Or, grind some dates and nuts, add some additional flavors and you’ve got an instant sweet treat in the form of a raw ball, bar or cookie.  Once we started preparing food this way, our bodies were very happy and wanted more! Truth be told, I actually prefer raw treats over more traditional baked goods made with flour (although we still do eat those, too, just not as frequently as in the past).

Cucumber boats with avocado lime filling

Yes, it’s easy to add flavor to cooked veggies (which we ate a decent amount of at the time), but when I started reading about raw food, I found that precious enzymes were being destroyed upon heating the foods over a certain temperature.  So, I embarked on a reading odyssey where I searched for raw food blogs, books, you name it and found many creative people…moms, chefs, motivated home cooks…making colorful “alive” raw food.

So, on to our raw food journey.  But, I should first mention that here we are over two (maybe three?) years after starting to read Sheri’s blog and I’m still working to add raw foods to my repertoire.  If you are interested in adding more raw foods to your diet, I encourage you to start small and add bit by bit as you feel comfortable and have the time.

So where did we start?

Juicing:

About 15 years ago, I bought my first juicer.  It was a really cheap Oster that I found on clearance at the Oster outlet store.  I bought the book Juicing for Life and was impressed with how juicing promised to help with many ailments.  However, I used it only a handful of times because it was SO difficult to clean.  I remember hurting my hands multiple times trying to get the basket off the cheap plastic parts.  Needless to say, this appliance was quickly relegated to the basement (or what my husband calls “the appliance graveyard”).

Fast forward 13 years, and I decide to try juicing again.  But, this time, I am serious about making it work.  I researched juicers and chose the Breville Ikon Juicer.  The Breville gets great reviews and is competitively priced.  It is a centrifugal juicer, which means that the fruits and veggies get pushed into a mesh basket that is spinning very fast (as opposed to masticating or press juicers).  The Breville does a great job at extracting juice – it’s not perfect (soft, delicate sprouts or pea shoots don’t juice that well), but it’s very fast and easy to clean.  These are two very important things if you want to juice every day.

While we mostly drink green juice, here are two photos of juices I have made recently that are not green.  No two juices are ever the same.  I juice based on what I have in my fridge.  My kids love it (it’s the only juice they drink at home) and they are getting loads of vitamins and minerals in an easy to digest form (read this juice v. blend article at Choosing Raw for more nutrition information).

Beet, fennel, cucumber, celery, pea shoots, apple, lemon (please excuse the crooked photo!)


Broccoli stems, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon

Smoothies

Next up, is my desire to add even more fiber and leafy greens to our diets.  A really tasty way to do this is with smoothies – green, pink, purple, red.  They are all so delicious, fun to drink and the kids love them.

This is one of my favorite smoothies – pineapple kale…read about it here. (Note:  This smoothie is raw with homemade coconut milk since canned is not raw.)

This is a new raw vegetable smoothie I just started making with summer veggies.  Tastes like V8, only fresher!

Raw Bars/Balls/Cookies

Everyone loves granola bars, right? We always did and so after buying Larabars for several months, I looked for a way to make them at home.  I wrote this post that talks about the Date-Nut bars I make.  Raw bars are a great way to pack loads of nutrition into a snack.

Raw Desserts

Sheri, from Green and Crunchy, used to write about how her special occasions were always celebrated with a raw treat.  So, last September I took a shot at raw “uncheesecake” and was blown away.  It was fresh tasting, zingy, creamy as can be and full of nutrition.

This is the first raw dessert I made (Raw Uncheesecake) for our 10th wedding anniversary.

This is a Raw Strawberry Pie that I made for my son’s second birthday.

Dehydrating

At an early age, I knew that my son liked crunchy things.  You’d better believe that I was not going to get stuck in the rut of always giving in to that need with a store-bought pretzel, cracker or potato chip.  So, I searched high and low to figure out what I could do to make healthier crunchy snacks for him.  Enter the dehydrator…where you can make crispy crackers made of flax and veggies, as well as dried fruit and vegetables (amongst countless other things).  I use the Excalibur Dehydrator (9 tray) and am so pleased with it.  As long as I keep the temperature below 118 degrees all my dehydrated treats are raw.

Here’s a picture of my raw flax crackers.  They turned out super crunchy!

Spiralizer

I recently wrote about our spiralizer and raw zucchini.  This is a really fun way to get kids to eat veggies!

A lot of zucchini spaghetti!

Fermentation

I just started making our own kimchi.  I used the recipe from Ani’s Raw Food Essentials (see Resources below).  We love kimchi and my first attempt came out good, but I will be making tweaks the next time.  If you want to start slowly with kimchi (not quite ready to make it?), Sunja’s makes a great version you can buy in many health food stores.

Sprouts

I also just started making sprouts.  It’s super easy to do and so much cheaper than buying them.  The kids love watching the sprouts develop their little tails.  They also enjoy watching the sprouts turn green when I put them in the sunlight.  If you want to grow something you can eat very quickly this is it! As a bonus, they are packed full of nutrition.

So, where do I want to go from here?

In addition to all the delicious foods I have been making, I want to continue making kimchi and other fermented vegetables and grow more sprouts.  I am most excited about making raw cashew cheese which is next on my list! YUM.

Are you intrigued like I was? Here are some raw food resources to get you started:

Blogs/Web sites:

Chef Tina Jo

Choosing Raw

Kristen’s Raw

Rawkinmom

Raw Mom

Books:

Ani’s Raw Food Essentials by Ani Phyo

Becoming Raw by Brenda Davis, Vesanto Melina and Rynn Berry

Complete Book of Raw Food Edited by Julie Rodwell

Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney

Fresh:  The Ultimate Live-Food Cookbook by Sergei and Valya Boutenko (aka The Raw Family)

Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet

Raw Food Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis

Raw:  The Uncook Book by Juliano

What are your favorite raw foods to make? Do you have a special blog or book you’d like to share?

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