Don’t believe the hype

milk

A friend of mine recently wrote about the hype surrounding coconut oil. Now I am a fan of coconut oil, predominantly for smearing all over my body as a fantastic moisturiser and mild sunscreen – just for my ten minutes UV a day. See here for her wonderful post and here for the article on coconut oil.

I have always regarded coconut oil in cooking as akin to butter. I use it sparingly, or in recipes like my raw caramel sauce (see below), where you would use butter or cream in the real version. I mean it’s solid fat, while I personally prefer it as a raw, unrefined fat, it’s obviously not meant to be consumed in copious amounts.

My unscientific view is that moderation and common sense are key. If you are worried about your cholesterol levels, maybe avoid it, and everyone should rotate their oils, and go with avocado or macadamia oil. However I think it’s important to mention the importance of food combining when discussing any perceived health benefit of food. Scientific studies on fatty chains are done in a lab, they are not done on individuals eating a balanced diet.

If you read the comments section of the article, there are some valid counter claims made, for example the question mark over whether high cholesterol on it’s own causes heart disease, the behaviour of different kinds of fats in the body, for example animal fats, processed fats, versus unrefined plant fats. And the possible presence of antiviral and antibacterial properties in coconut oil, which may promote gut health – a major factor in immunity from all forms of disease, in my humble opinion.

See this article for the link between gut health and mental/neurological disorders.

However, I’m not here to talk coconut oil, this got me to thinking about food hype and false claims about food and it’s nutritional value. This resurfaced a pet peeve of mine, the dairy industry. An industry that goes to great pains to maintain it’s myths about milk.

The dairy industry has thrown a lot of money around for years convincing people how healthy milk and milk products are. Nearly 10 years ago when I discovered dairy was a no-no for my autistic son, and then it turned out for most of my family members, I began reading up on the health issues associated with dairy milk.

I also discovered that most yogurt – touted as super-healthy – was over-processed and over-sugared, and that the acid in fruit renders the heathy bacteria ineffective. It’s okay to add plain yogurt to fruit and eat it straight away, but the fruit acids will neutralise the bacteria over any length of time, e.g the time it sits on a supermarket shelf.

I read a book called The Devil in the Milk, written by agricultural business professor and farm-management consultant, Keith Woodford. In this book, Woodford investigates the protein in dairy milk, and using epidemiological studies – that is, studies of the patterns of health and disease conditions in defined populations, in this case different countries – to compare the two types of protein found in different breeds of cows and their comparative effects on the levels of disease.

Basically there are two types of milk protein A1 and A2. In Australia we breed “the wrong kind of cows”.

It seems the black and white cows — Holsteins and Friesians — generally give milk that contains a small but significant amount of beta-casein type A1, which behaves like an opiate.

Says Dr. Thomas Cowan, co-founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, in this fascinating introduction to the subject in his email newsletter, see this blog for the full post, he explains the science of Woodford’s book far better than I could.

Apparently all milk was once A2, until a genetic mutation occurred thousands of years ago in some European cattle. A2 milk remains high in herds in much of Asia, Africa, and parts of Southern Europe. A1 milk is common in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe, hence the relevance of epidemiological studies to look at the effects on the milk diet and health.

The point is, there is a powerful correlation between A1 milk consumption and higher rates of heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism and schizophrenia. I would add digestive and hormonal issues to that, from my experience with giving up dairy.

Now I have serious issues with the way cows are treated in dairy farms, but potentially if we raised the A2 cows and humanely produced their milk without pasteurisation, the milk and products would actually be healthy.

Cowan claims “raw and cultured dairy products from healthy grass-fed cows are one of the healthiest foods people have ever eaten”. However he discovered that only the A2 variety of milk, when unpasteurised, provides these health benefits.

Interestingly, French cheese – which is highly regarded as pretty damn good cheese – is made from A2 milk, possibly because the French never accepted A1 breeds of cow – because they have “lousy” milk (You need to read that with a French accent.)

It’s an informational minefield out there people. I could find as many pro-milk medical opinions as anti-milk. So you will have to make your own informed decision.

I think it’s safe to say, you need to ensure dairy is tolerated by your digestion – an estimated 75% people can’t stomach milk, although if it’s the milk protein casein that’s the problem, A2 milk may help –  you need to avoid unnecessary hormones and pesticides by buying organic milk, and if possible as unprocessed as possible.

 

snickers saramel

Raw Caramel

1 1/2 cups pre-soaked dates
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 vanilla pod
1/3 cup almond milk

Blend until smooth, I recommend blending the dates and oil first and then adding the milk gradually for super-smoothness.

If you want to be healthy – don’t eat the whole bowl on your own, this should provide 10 serves to put on raw ice-cream, or to use in caramel slices or raw snickers – see recipe here.

Enjoy!

 

Further Reading:

http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/the-devil-in-the-milk-dr-thomas-cowan-on-how-a2-milk-is-the-answer-to-the-mystery-of-why-even-raw-milk-sometimes-does-not-seem-to-be-enough-of-an-improvement-over-store-bought/

http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/dairy-free-dairy-6-reason_b_558876.html

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/dairy-truths

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-neuroscience-of-gut/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2419418/Low-levels-healthy-gut-bacteria-cause-mental-health-issues-anxiety-schizophrenia-say-scientists.html

Advertisements

Day 25. You’re not you when you’re hungry

snickers

Have you seen that snickers ad, the one where Alf from Home and Away goes completely ape? Well that was me yesterday.

The day started with a work meeting in the city. (Well, in truth, the day started with getting a particularly feral child ready for school, dropping him off, then catching a train into the city). Then I did some banking for our trip (only 3 more sleeps!). Next, I had a parent teacher interview, followed by a doctors appointment. And somewhere along the line I realised that a green smoothie and a banana were not going to cut it.

I bought some avocado sushi, my first non-raw food in over three weeks. Boy that brown rice tasted good! Even so, by the time I got home at nearly six and tried to register my cash passport online and it kept changing my year of birth to 1990 and then rejecting me for invalid details (I’m like what? I’m too old to register?)…

I then tried to call the 1800 number, but there were no humans to help, just a voice telling me I had less money and in AUD not pounds, and I had the ALF moment. You know the one, where you find yourself yelling at a computer generated voice,”just let me speak to a real person!”

I really need to calm down. Am I the only one who gets so panicky before travelling overseas? Talk about catastrophising EVERY little thing.

Happy ending though. I calmed myself, managed to register as my rightful age, and said to my son, let’s make those raw snickers, now.

Raw snickers, you say? Yes! As I was trawling around raw blogs the other day, one recipe in particular caught my son’s eye. Raw snickers.

That caramelly, peanutty deliciousness. What’s not to like?

I had tried raw peanuts before and I knew they were awful, so I had dehydrated some the night before in readiness. Once dehydrated the skins come off easily and they taste so much better.

I changed the original recipe a little, just because it had so much fat in it, this version is not that much better, these are not breakfast food people! But they are so rich, you really can’t eat more than one at a time. You can however add them on top on extra caramel sauce and ice-cream. I know, I’m wrong on so many levels! I’m supposed to be getting healthy here!

snickers ice-cream

Look at this caramel – amazing!

snickers saramel

Raw snickers

(Recipe adapted from: http://www.damyhealth.com/2012/10/raw-homemade-snickers-bar/) This quantity makes 12 patty tin sized snickers.

Caramel

1 1/2 cups pre-soaked dates
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 vanilla pod
1/3 cup almond milk

Chocolate

5 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp coconut nectar or agave syrup
1 Vanilla pod
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup almond milk

1 cup peanuts (roasted or dehydrated overnight)

Blend caramel ingredients in food processor, scraping down sides and blending until smooth and reaches a caramel-like texture.

Blend chocolate ingredients in food processor.

To assemble line patty tins or silicone moulds with thick layer of chocolate in base and up the sides. Add caramel and peanuts, top with more chocolate.

Freeze for one hour then serve. Guaranteed to soothe the savage beast!

snickers assembly

Day 21. Our daily bread

day 21 sandwich

And here we are. Day 21. It seems that almost as soon as I began, I am done. What seemed at the start – even without the foresight of the various curve-balls life would throw at me in these three weeks – an almost impossible task, has proved entirely possible.

I have eaten 100% raw food for 21 days and each day I have blogged about it. By virtue of my desire to make the posts varied and interesting, I have read about raw food, trawled books and the web for recipes, information, and inspiration. And in this process of searching, discovering, and experimenting, I have rekindled my love of writing and ignited a love of raw food.

I feel like a babe in the woods, every day I learn more and further broaden my vision of raw food, and I know there is so much more to discover. There’s a plethora of blogs, websites, and books out there, of which I have only scratched the surface. My curiousity is piqued.

It seems to me each time I have hit an apparent stumbling block with raw food, every time I have thought ‘I couldn’t live without ___’, all I had to do was a bit of research and there was a raw version of the very thing I thought I couldn’t have.

Today it was bread. Oh, how I love bread. I could write an ode to it. “Oh bread, how I love to eat you, with my favourite spread, every day I meet you, with a desire to be fed…” Okay I’ll spare you my bad poetry, but you get the idea.

Suffice to say, my delight was unparalleled when I realised bread could be a part of my raw lifestyle. It was day 15, and as I tasted the pizza bases I had made, I thought to myself ‘this would make lovely flat bread!’ For two days I washed and rinsed my buckwheat in preparation for this morning’s breakfast, toast.

I spread my bread, straight from my 50 degree C oven where it had been dehydrating all night, with coconut oil and coconut nectar on one slice and nut butter on the other. It was heaven! Yes, I made a savoury bread with thyme, but there was something divine about the way the thyme melded with the sweetness of the coconut nectar and I just melted into a munching, moaning, foaming-at-the-mouth, creature of ecstasy. Yes, I was a happy girl. Maybe too happy, I ate four slices!

day 21 toast

Yesterday after my first batch of bread I decided to make a sandwich. Something I had never imagined was achievable raw. You can see the result in the title photo – how good does that look? Well, it tasted even better. You can’t begin to imagine the texture of this bread. It’s thin and crispy around the edges, like a biscuit, and soft and chewy and bread-like in the centre.

I’m sure at some point I will make another discovery and say this again, but for now this feels like raw nirvana to me. To be able to have bread, glorious bread, in my diet brings me such joy. Give us this day our daily bread… Hallelujah!

So this is it folks. The challenge is complete but the lifestyle continues. I’m more committed to raw food and blogging than ever. Will I be 100% raw? Will I re-introduce some non-raw foods? If so which ones and why? This is the next frontier for me. Moving from a short-term challenge to a sustainable lifestyle. I hope you stay with me for the next part of this journey.

Speaking of journeys, I am taking my son to the UK next week. It’s his first time and the first time I have been in 25 years. So I will be taking raw on the road – and in the air! I have already requested raw meals with the airline, I’m very curious to see what that entails.

So thank you for accompanying me thus far. I’ll be back tomorrow for day 22. I hope you will be too.

And now for the bread recipe.

Buckwheat bread
1 cup buckwheat sprouted
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup nuts (mixed nuts or walnuts are good) (soaked overnight and drained)
3 carrots (grated)
1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 – 1 cup water

(see video on how to sprout buckwheat – need 2 days to allow sprouting)

Blend ingredients in food processor. Add enough water to form a paste like consistency. Spread on tray covered in baking paper (I made 4 rectangular shapes and cut them in half when cooked to make 8 slices)

Dehydrate at 50 degrees C for 6 hours or on low in oven for 3 hours (then turn off heat and leave in oven for another 3 hours.) If you think your oven is too hot, turn it on for an half an hour then rotate off/on. It’s probably a good idea to turn the bread over at the half way mark, but not essential. I didn’t because it was 3am!

Once your bread is ready, you can eat it with your favourite topping. Pictured above is my lunch with sliced mushrooms, capsicum, sprouted beans, grated carrot, beetroot, garlic, and ginger, and nut butter. Also pictured is my brekky ‘toast’ with coconut oil and coconut nectar and nut butter, then I added a banana to that combo and made it into a sandwich (after I took the photos.) Here it is half-eaten. Sooooo delicious!

buckwheat toast brekky sandwich

See here for tips on how to dehydrate raw food without a dehydrator http://rawfoodswitch.com/raw-food-equipment-reviews/dehydrate-raw-food-dehydrator/