By RENEE FITE
After all the holiday baking, desserts and dinners, many area residents have resolved to eat healthier foods – and some are doing it in the raw.
Alternatives like fresh, raw foods are nourishing and satisfying and provide energy, in part because of enzymes. If changing eating habits and lifestyles is the goal, these foods offer one way to accomplish that. The result can mean feeling and looking better and losing weight, while promoting mental clarity and healing.
“Eating fruit and vegetables provide great health benefits,” said Heather Winn, OSU Extension educator. “People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.”
Fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of the body, Winn said.
“Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories. None have cholesterol,” Winn said.
Winn teaches children in school, as well as adults, about healthy food choices, even demonstrating how much 10 pounds of fat looks, with a plastic replica.
“We use Choosemyplate.gov to teach people that a balanced diet is important,” she said.
People often don’t notice the pounds creeping up over the years, but special occasions that require photos, or serious illness, can bring body weight and shape into focus.
Humor, like that demonstrated by many Facebook respondents when asked if they eat raw foods, reveals how many people view the idea of a totally raw food diet.
“Cookies!” said Paul Shelor.
Larry Cagle added, “I don’t cook the Oreos. I eat them raw and fresh right out of the bag.”
Scott Lawrence confessed to drinking “raw beer,” which he makes himself.
Along the same vein, Randy Burton said fresh nuts, fruit, and low sodium V-8 juice do the trick for him.
“A little Worcestershire and hot sauce makes the V-8 yummy. Mix in a beer and you’re sitting pretty!” Burton said.
So even those who give some thought to diet still don’t always take it seriously.
Nancy Farrell eats a lot of nuts like pecans and almonds just plain.
Brenda Bradford takes a different path.
“I do a lot of juicing from raw veggies, which I drink over ice,” she said.
For Mike Blessum, eating salad is a healthy alternative.
“Nuts sometimes mixed or almonds, and fruit, usually apples and oranges,” Blessum said.
Christina Hubbard never met a vegetable she didn’t like, and sometimes, she prefers them raw.
“Oh, except for poke greens. Even cooked, they’ll give you a good brushin’ out,” Hubbard said. “I have some trepidation about eating any vegetables except those I have grown or know the grower, and I wash those I buy from the grocery store with an organic fruit and vegetable wash. If they crunch, I eat a bunch.”
Ranch dressing, for many folks, is a requisite accompaniment.
“All veggies with Ranch dressing, of course! Really, I love veggies cooked or raw – I love them all!” said D Ann Bruton Riddle.
One local businesswoman who caters to those serious about seeking raw healthy foods – and who supplies organic and raw veggies to the community – is Ellen Haney, manager of Oasis Health Food Store.
“Raw foods have enzymes that are alive, along with vitamins and minerals,” Haney said.
Cooking food destroys the enzymes almost completely, she said.
“Every cell in the body has to have enzymes,” Haney said. “Raw food has enzymes. It’s important to replenish enzyme levels.”
She sells local honey from Cookson that is mostly organic, raw and unprocessed, along with a variety of nuts and fruits.
“We sell a lot of walnuts, pecans, almonds and Brazil nuts, organic Turkish figs and organic California Medjool dates,” Haney said. “Dried fruits are healthy because they are unsulfured. Sulfur is a preservative.”
On a mission to educate and encourage the larger community with their book, “The Raw Truth: Raw Food For Dummies,” Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann share “Ten Reasons to Quit Cooking Your Meals.”
Among those top 10 are looking and feeling better and sleeping less.
“Most people report improved health and general well-being within weeks of switching to a raw food lifestyle. The nutrient-rich raw diet is high in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, so it maximizes health and vitality,” they report.
Reducing health risks and healing from disease is another benefit.
“The facts are indisputable: A raw plant-based diet leads to lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, and obesity,” the book says.
Enhancing memory and mental clarity are key elements.
“Your brain needs nourishment, and whole, ripe, raw organic plant foods provide the power you need for strong mental acuity,” the authors say. “The essential fats that the brain needs, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, are in leafy greens, flaxseed, chia, hemp, and walnuts, as well as many other raw plant foods.”
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