Wednesday, December 22, 2010

[Blog] Heather Haxo Phillips

I stopped by Heather Haxo Phillips's website and noticed the "Ask Heather" feature. Thinking, with a pleasant smile, of my own "Ask Raederle" tab (labeled FAQ), I decided to ask a question.

The Question & Heather's Answer:

Question: If you were to suggest including three cooked foods (meals/dishes) to supplement an otherwise 100% raw diet, what foods would you suggest (from an entirely nutritional standpoint)?

~ Raederle Phoenix

Heather's Answer: I am not a nutritionist, but Raw Bay Area is lucky enough to have certified nutritionist Krissa Schwartz on our team. Krissa and I put our heads together.

You don’t need cooked food in order to get great nutrition, but if you want some cooked food, go for these three:

  • Legumes such as black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, and split peas
  • Specific whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa
  • Lightly steamed vegetables

Beans are an excellent source of complex carbohydrate and fiber. They have micro-nutrients the body needs: folic acid, iron, protein, magnesium, manganese and potassium. In order to get maximum nutrition, sprout your legumes for a day or two before you cook them. Brown rice and quinoa are wonderful and versatile grains able to complement practically any food. Brown rice is rich in B vitamins and also has a good supply of protein and trace minerals. Combined with beans, you have a complete protein (all nine essential amino acids). All grains, should be rinsed thoroughly under cool running water to remove any dirt or debris before cooking.

Some quick serving ideas are:

  • Combining cooked kidney beans with black beans and white (navy) beans to make a colorful three-bean salad. Mix with raw tomatoes and scallions and dress with olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper.
  • Sprout and cook your beans. Mix the warm beans – and grains – into finely chopped kale. This will wilt and soften the kale but not cook it. Add a great raw sauce that you like – my favorite is tahini-basil. Guacamole and salsa are great sauce options too.
  • Cooked brown rice and quinoa make a nourishing breakfast porridge or dessert pudding. First cook your grain well with lots of extra water. Then add a raw nut milk of your choice, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and honey.

Beans and rice, lentils and rice, peas and rice – all of these combination can be wonderful together for many people. They are relatively easy to digest, filling, and most importantly, nutrient dense. Just make sure you do not add on unhealthful or processed dressings or sauces that contain processed sugars, MSG, low quality fats or extra salt.

~ Heather Haxo Phillips

I suspected that she would recommend beans, lentils and brown rice, but her reply did offer a little bit more than vaguely suggesting those, wouldn't you agree?

One thing I am not worried about is potassium. I drink coconut juice almost daily as well as eating bananas nearly daily as well.

I am wondering if I need more iron in my diet. As a woman, I'm losing a lot of iron on a monthly basis, after all.

My tastes for vegetables is limited, and I have been wondering if I should supplement my diet with a small portion of cooked foods for certain nutrients (and always have a large salad or vegetable wrap first to provide the essential digestive enzymes.)

I found this piece of advice somewhat surprising; "All grains, should be rinsed thoroughly under cool running water to remove any dirt or debris before cooking." I've never washed my rice prior to cooking it (in the past, when I used to eat brown rice several times a week.) Does it really matter if you're cooking it anyway? Dirt does hold nutrients, and it can't be much...

I'm hesitant to have any rice in my diet for the same reason I can't have bread in my diet. I get ravenous cravings after having only a little. I begin to wonder if I have some strange allergy to grains. I've read connections between allergies and food addictions, and considering that grains make me bloat and crave food with horrendous ferocity, it makes me suspect that.

However, I've met plenty of people who eat one slice of bread, and then want another, and then have a third, a fourth, and then decide to just finish the loaf while they're at it. I have not seen the same trend with brown rice as prominently as with bread, but most bread offers the double-blade of also containing sugar.

And so, I'm hesitant to add any brown rice back into my diet because I don't want to start craving it again after I have managed to get to a place where I no longer crave it. Still, I believe Heather's answer is pretty sound. Brown long-grain rice is a huge step up from the white minute-rice, and an even larger step up from a frozen-dinner side or a canned soup-something-or-other.

I love her advice at the end; "Just make sure you do not add on unhealthful or processed dressings or sauces that contain processed sugars, MSG, low quality fats or extra salt."

Of course, she doesn't know it, but I would never dream of touching those things. While I may have the very, very occasional cooked serving of food in the future, I wouldn't even nibble or sip something with mono-sodium-glutamate, lab-altered sugar, etc. The stuff is so toxic... Wish I could force feed a 2-liter of soda to the people running the FDA every day for two months: see if they still consider it safe for consumption then!


  1. Rinsing food: here's something I can give some experienced advice on.
    Whether you rinse grains or pulses depends a lot on the source. Some sources may require rinsing to remove dirt and debris, some won't. Even if you're not worried about germs, a bit of dirt or debris can spoil the flavour or texture of your food.

    Personally I don't tend to rinse. The only pulse that I always wash are red lentils, because these seem to be extremely dirty/dusty. I usually wash white rice, because it removes some starch and helps keep the grains separate, but this is not really a problem with brown rice. If you're cooking beans, you'll be soaking them anyway, and the soaking water is effectively a rinse.

    Quinoa is an important exception. Quinoa has some kind of nasty coating that needs a very thorough rinse to get rid of. Some sources will do this for you, but it's something to watch out for.


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