Why raw? You might ask.
Being Chinese, eating raw is not part of my culture. I was quite skeptical about raw foods myself. And eating raw is not an experience that I would enjoy back then.
Lately, something changed my perspective on raw foods and I embrace more raw foods than ever now.
In the past I know raw vegetables and fruits are good. But somehow I couldn’t get myself to accept the fact that I eat raw… not until I read a book on how we can heal ourselves naturally. Or how we can be disease-free without medication. Mind you we are not talking about mild sicknesses like flu and fever but life threatening diseases like cancer.
I read the book from cover to cover in just a few days. The book struck a chord in me strongly because I am a huge fan in healing yourself without seeing a doctor. I had read a couple of books on health and nutrition but I just couldn’t agree with what the authors said then. Maybe I was not ready or I just felt they were full of hype.
But not this one. Clean by Dr Alejandro Junger is the book that has changed my mind about cleansing, detoxification, and of course raw foods.
The book really changed my commitment towards health. I now pay more attention to what I eat.
Back to the question: “Why raw?”
I am not a professional nutritionist, so I let the expert do the talking. Jae Steele (a holistic nutritionist and author of Get It Ripe) defines raw foods in her book as:
“Raw foods, also known as living foods, are whole and unrefined – with minimal or no processing. The benefits of a raw approach to eating relate to enzymes and nutrient availability. Consider a can of soft, greyish-looking peas that contain 5% of the nutrients of the same measurement of fresh green peas; the more a food is cooked, the less useful it becomes for our bodies. As a food is refined, or processed, the energetic value, or “life- force,” is diminished. Raw foods also contain digestive enzymes that aid in assimilating the nutrition of what you eat.”
[By the way, if you are a beginner vegan, Get It Ripe is an excellent book. It is not only a recipe book, it also has great information about how to become vegans without compromising your protein intake and more. It is a good read too for non-vegans like me. Ever since I read the book, I have reduced the intake of animal produce (meat, butter, eggs, etc) and as a result of this, I have lost at least 5kg. Not to mention the good feeling I have.]
As you can see, raw foods are so darn good. I would feel guilty if I don’t introduce them to my children, J and K.
Who doesn’t want a healthy child. Or better, a child who can heal himself if he ever falls sick? I know I do.
To get them to eat raw foods, I have to do it step-by-step, just in case I scare them away.
Shape Does Matter
At least in the beginning. I tried to serve them a little of uncooked vegetables with the main dish when I wanted to introduce them to raw foods. Such as shredded carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber. Sprinkle them on the main dish or as a side dish. Fortunately, both of them take raw foods pretty well.
Again it depends on the types of vegetables I prepare. They like some but hate the others. I have to do some trial and errors until I know what they like. Then I will serve more of those.
To make things more interesting and to create curiosity, I sometimes cut raw foods into different shapes. If they look cute, children tend to eat them. You can try to serve whole leaves, shredded, grated, or sliced.
On top of that, you can arrange sliced, shredded raw foods into something funny or exciting such as a smiley.
After you have gained acceptance from your child, you can do away with the shapes as they will take raw foods in any shape.
Juices and Smoothies
If your child doesn’t like solid raw foods, try giving him in juice form. It is the next best thing you can get besides solid raw foods. In fact, some experts argue that juices are better than solid because the former are absorbed by the body faster than the latter.
They taste better than their original form. Celery tastes yummy in liquid form than eating it stalk by stalk. This has been proven with my kids. They don’t really like the taste of celery but they are okay when it comes to celery juice (combined with other juices).
If you are new to juicing, there are two types of juicers: centrifugal and masticating. Masticating juicers are more expensive and slower, but it does not generate heat. Hence they are claimed to retain enzymes and nutrients in raw foods.
I am using a masticating juicer called Alpha DA-900 in Malaysia and it is similar to Omega J8003 in the US. I am very satisfied with the juicer and juices produced by this machine are of excellent quality. J and K started to fall in love with juices since we bought this juicing wonder (This juice extractor is very child-friendly. Sometimes they even want to juice themselves). Not only does Alpha Juicer juice but it does many other things as well including grinding, pasta making, etc.
Having said that, if your finances don’t allow you to buy an expensive juicer, get one that fits your budget. Something is better than nothing. Start juicing wherever you can.
Besides juicing, you can prepare smoothies for your children. I find smoothie is more filling and tastier (if you use the right recipes). For this, you need a blender or food processor.
Again salads are hardly found in Chinese cuisine. Try introducing salads to your child. Also try different types of healthy dressings to find which one your kids love. Homemade dressings are usually better as you know what’s in them. And you can control what you want to put in your dressings. J and K don’t really like the sour taste of vinegar. And I notice they prefer salads in original taste to those with dressings.
If your child doesn’t like something, that doesn’t mean he will not like it forever. K didn’t like flax seeds when I first introduced this amazing food to him. But after a while, he began to accept it more openly. Now he even asks for it as “dessert” after dinner!
Don’t go extreme on this raw stuff. Do not force your child to eat raw. If they refuse, start with small amount of raw foods and slowly increase the portion. Eating a little is better than none. Don’t fret if they are not as excited as you are.
However you must set a good example to your children. Eat healthy and your children will follow soon. Also take this opportunity to teach them what is good and what is bad as far as food is concerned.