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Eat in the Raw!

by Ana L. Palles

Basket of Squash Raw foods, also termed "Living Foods", have increased in popularity over the past few years, although the concept is certainly not new. What is meant by "Raw" are foods that are not heated above a certain temperature, generally ranging somewhere between 92 degrees and 116 degrees Farenheit. Proponents of raw food diets advocate minimizing heating because heating destroys delicate enzymes.

As we age, our bodies produce fewer enzymes which are needed to make use of the food we consume. These enzymes replenish cells and are thought to stave off chronic illnesses. There have been a number of studies that suggest a link between decreased enzymes, aging, and disease. Many who follow a raw foods diet report feeling increased energy, heightened immune systems, and slowed aging.

Some, like Brigitte Mars, renowned Boulder herbalist and nutritional consultant, blends her knowledge of natural medicine with her love of cooking in devising delectable recipes that do wonderful things for the body. Her recipe book, "Rawsome!", provides a wealth of good information and easy meals.

Whether there is truth to some of these claims of increased health benefits remains up to the individual and their health care professional to determine. Any diet that distances us from highly processed, additive-heavy foods is worthy of our consideration. We want to be kind to our liver, kidneys, and adrenals.

In today's busy world, a raw diet may be difficult to follow, so some experts recommend staying within 75% to achieve benefits. Eating raw is not like eating a plate of straw, it can be exciting! The variety of textures, bright colors and fresh flavors make raw food meals something to look forward to!

Be adventuresome and try these out. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to eat in the raw!

Creamy Spinach Soup
5 cups fresh spinach
2 1/2 cups water
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cilantro
1 fresh garlic clove
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon mint (optional)

Place ingredients in a blender. Puree. Serve with lime wedges and freshly ground pepper.

Extra-helping Pasta
2 zucchini squash
1 yellow squash
1/4 cup of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1 large fresh tomato, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh marjoram
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
3/4 teaspoons salt
10 sun-dried, pitted olives, sliced
1 scallion, chopped
Optional: 1/4 cup pine nuts or hemp seeds

Using a spiral slicer, shred the zuchchini and yellow squash until you have long, thin strands resembling spaghetti noodles. Place in a bowl and set aside. Mix together the remaining ingredients and either pour over the vegetable noodles and toss, or place in a food processor and pulse a few times, making sure to leave some chunkiness in the sauce. Toss with the squash vegetable noodles and serve.

Spa Water

While we're feeling so healthy, why not keep a pitcher of "spa water" next to your favorite easy chair. Pour yourself a tall glass while you've got your feet propped up, reading your favorite book or taking a few moments with your latest magazine.

To make your "spa water," slice up one of the following: cucumber, orange, strawberries, lemons, limes, or fresh mint. Then place your choice on the bottom of a tall pitcher. Add filtered or spring water and enjoy. You will be surprised at how cleansing a tall glass of cucumber water feels to your body. Give it a try!

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