Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Juicing it up (and reducing food waste) with a raw food diet

One of our newer farmers' market vendors is a real inspiration. Rebecca, owner of Scrap Works, is generous, kind, and just has a way of making you smile, not to mention she's about as innovative as you can get. She makes gorgeous crafts - all out of fabric scraps, paper bags, and dried coconut shells.

Although I've both purchased and enjoyed her many crafts, she inspires me most through her diet. Rebecca and her entire family (hubby and 4 children) eat only raw foods (for more info on what it means to be on a raw food diet, check out Wikipedia). When I first talked to her, all I could think about was all the things she didn't eat - how do you live without baked bread, rice, potatoes... all those things you need to cook to eat. Oh, me of little faith.

Once I tasted some of the things Rebecca makes for her family, I was SOLD! She makes the most wonderful raw trail mixes, flax crackers (in a dehydrator), and (my personal favorite) dried dates stuffed with a variety of goodies like cocoa nibs, nuts, coconut, mint. She has dates that taste like almond joy candy bars and some that taste like thin mints. Rebecca is a genius. I mean, this stuff is really good eating!

So while Rebecca is working on a raw food cook book (which I'm really looking forward to), I've been experimenting on my own with raw trail mixes and those luscious stuffed dates. I'm not considering going 100% raw or anything, but I am experimenting and exploring some wonderful new recipes by thinking outside the culinary box. 

Then out of the blue, my brother emailed me to rave about his family's juicer (juicing being a major staple of the raw food diet) - basically, you just toss all kinds of fruit and veggies into the juicer and end up with serious nutrition in a glass. That's when it occurred to me that this is yet another way to take advantage of extra fruits and veggies lurking in the refrigerator that can all too easily be forgotten. Thus far, anytime I have an excess of veggies, I make and can soup. Juicing is a second wonderful option for eliminating food waste (and have a wonderful healthy drink in the meantime). So, now I'm considering looking into a juicer for us as well. 

So help me out here. Have you ever tried a raw food diet or juicing? Tell me a little about your adventures. 

Do you own a juicer? If so, which one? What do you like/don't like about it? 

Do you have any favorite recipes you'd be willing to share?

14 comments:

Michelle @ Leaving Excess said...

Well, I don't have anything to share, but I would love it if you post about your adventures into juicing! I want to try it out, but am not sure which one to buy, etc (all of your questions, basically). Good luck - looking forward to hearing about it!

HolliL1 said...

Devin and I have done the raw food thing on and off. We have just a ton of recipes and cookbooks. But my favorite juice, hands down, is Green Lemonade from the Raw Food Detox Diet book.

I doctor mine up a bit:

1 apple
1 lemon (throw the whole thing in, seeds and all)
1 small nub of ginger (thumbnail sized)
1 head green leef lettuce (or other type lettuce, just make sure it's a dark leafy green; my fav is chard or collard)
2 stalks celery (or other light green)

When I use a particularly bitter green, i'll sometimes add more apple or lemon.

Carter said...

Eating raw definitely takes more planning, but I think it is great. I do not eat completely raw, but I try to eat both raw and vegan when I can. We also have a juicer and it is great. The one thing that I have heard though is that it eliminates some nutritional value from the fibers (I don't know the validity or extent of that). My boyfriend and I were given a hand-me-down juicer and we mostly use it for fruit/veggie drinks. We don't use recipes, we just kind of make up what we think would taste good. It's fun! (Not the easiest to clean though).

JAM said...

This doesn't have to do with raw foods, but I finally made the bagels - did them half whole wheat, half white. They came out awesome!!! Thanks for the inspiration and recipe.

Anonymous said...

I used a Juiceman until I tired of the waste and of having to store a large gadget. It was also a pain to clean, so I sent it off to CraigsList. Carter mentions losing some of the nutritional value, and judging by all the pulp left over, it must be true. I now prefer throwing various things in the blender for smoothies. No waste!

Heather @ SGF said...

Michelle - If we do get one, I'll probably buy it with gift certificates earned from our credit card. So it might be a few months, but I'll definitely blog about it if we get one. Oh... I should check Craigslist too...

HolliL1 - Sounds great! Devin was telling me about yours. Sounds like the people who have them really like them.

Carter - Much of the nutrients is in the pulp from what I've heard. My brother's machine lets you save it though (from what I understand) so you can use it in cooking later.

JAM - Yeah! I'm glad you love them.

Anonymous - That was the other appliance I was thinking of getting. We don't have a blender. Can you do veggies (greens) in a blender or just fruits, tomatoes, etc?

Anonymous said...

I use a blender, and you may get a thicker mixture that you can eat with a spoon or I'll just add more water if I want to drink it. I have had good luck with fruits and veggies.

Melissa said...

I have a Vita-Mix machine and just throw in whatever fruit/veggie I want and it makes juice in no time with no waste(it also makes great soups!). To check it out go to their website.

timeus said...

A power juicer takes most of the fiber out of the produce for you, therefore "pre"-digesting the food. The nutrients that are present in the food in its raw state are actually digested at a much higher rate because of this.

For example, timeus has read that eating a carrot raw would only allow for 1% of the beta carotene to be absorbed by our inefficient digestive tracts. Juicing allows for near 100% of beta carotene absorption.

You still need soluble and insoluble fiber to be healthy, thus juicing is not a replacement to eating your fruits and veggies, but a supplemental form of adding nutrients to be absorbed rather quickly (timeus prefers it first thing in the morning). If you're looking to replace eating fruits and vegetables, smoothies sound like the better way to go of the two. Adding both would likely be ideal.

ttammylynn said...

We had a juicer, which was nice, but it broke and was forgotten. We have a blender system called magic bullet that is great for blending one thing at a time. It won't replace a huge VitaMix(we have an old one of those, too), but if I want a smoothie for me, I throw the fruit or whatever in the cup with sufficient liquid screw on the blender lid, blend, and then put a ring on the same cup and drink. I've also made salsas and sauces or tomato sauce from raw whole tomatoes. The kids like to make milkshakes, it is way easy. I wish it weren't all plastic containers, but the ease of use and cleaning makes it a pretty cool option for me.

Heather @ SGF said...

Anonymous - Thanks for the tip. Definitely something to think about since we probably ought to invest in a good blender anyway (I love smoothies:)

Melissa - it is pretty easy to clean?

Timeus - makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up!

Tammy - So you prefer a blender to a juicer. So many things to think about...

littleecofootprints said...

I start most days with a vege juice of celery, carrot, parsley and ginger. I love it - although winter is just starting here and its harder to feel like a juice on a cold morning.

Ruthie said...

Heather,

Do check out this blog

http://www.greenandcrunchy.blogspot.com/

She is a "high raw" vegan with 5 kids. Very inspirational!

Heather @ SGF said...

littleecofootprints - Thanks for the recipe. More people are juicers that I thought. Cool!

Ruthie - I read some of the posts and just LOVE the blog! Thanks for passing it along!