Ask me a question and I'll link you when I repeat or rephrase the question on this page as well as answer the question on this page.  Ask anything related to fitness, health, raw food, detoxing, juice feasting, or yoga.

The Questions Answered Thus Far On This Page:

I just made some sprouted buckwheat first time... Any recommendations?
How do you know what flavors work together and what nutrients you need?
What is candida?  How would you treat it?
How should I look raw food potlucks in my city?
Is it possible to eat too many bananas?
How do you feel about juicing versus smoothies?
Is there a raw substitute for bananas?
How do you create your home-made crackers?
I was considering going on an all-fruit cleanse for a period of time. Any thoughts?
How did you first learn about eating raw foods?
How do you get your protein?
What is your all-time favorite raw vegan food?
Do you eat any agave or stevia at all, ever?
Is xylitol off-limits for you too?
Did a health scare precipitate your dietary changes?
What do you fight for?
What are some interesting smoothies to make with my newly acquired blender?
So you're a vegan... And you make everything from scratch?
Are there any fruits and vegetables which should be avoided?
What is wrong with refined sugars?

Question from Rachel Ngai: "I just made some sprouted buckwheat first time... any recommendations how to eat it? Would you blend it up with flax seeds and vegetables for crackers?"

Raederle Phoenix's answer:

Flax seeds and vegetables for crackers would probably taste good. Although, that would not be my first inclination.

Depends on the size of the sprouts.

"Full Grown" (Around 3 inches in length) buckwheat sprouts:
I throw full-grown buckwheat sprouts into my smoothies in the morning.

Germinated buckwheat sprouts:
With germinated buckwheat that just had a tiny tail and is barely sprouted yet, sometimes I like to use that as a granola base: add berries, chia seeds and/or hemp seeds, perhaps a few almonds, apple chunks or peaches or pear, banana slices, dried currants or blueberries or mulberries or goji berries or even just raisins, and then use a nut-milk, seed-milk or grain-milk for the granola.

You can actually even use the buckwheat as a milk. I use quinoa that has been soaked overnight and then sprouted for three days to blend with water and use as a milk over fruit.

Question from Donald R. Anderson: How do you know what flavors work together and what nutrients you need?

Raederle Phoenix's answer:

Those are two very complex questions you gave me in one sentence.

Flavors: Lots of trial and error until you get the hang of it.
Three Bananas + Raw Chocolate + Half a cup of drinking water = Yummy Smoothie

When making a smoothie use a lot of something creamy as the base, such as bananas, mango or peaches. When making juice, don't use too many ingriedients and make sure the main ingridient is afforable, delicious to you, and mild. Good juice-bases include carrots, celery, cucumber and oranges.

Nutrients: Lots of research as well as trial and error. I discovered the hard way, for example, that eating tons of ground flax seed is bad for you. If you're going through an entire pound of ground flax every six days, your hair may start to come out in huge swathes. Nuts, seeds, and virtually anything high in protein and/or fat must be moderated highly. This includes things like beans and diary.

Another nutrient note: You can't know everything you're missing. It's impossible to figure out every nutrient your body needs and how to get it. There are too many different nutrients, too many different plants, and too many things today's science still doesn't know. That said, we can discover things that people commonly become deficient in and avoid those common pitfalls. We can also be careful to make sure our diet is changing with the seasons. This is natural and important. We're not designed to eat corn everyday. We're only designed to eat it for the short time of the local corn harvest, for example. Greens, on the other hand, are everywhere all the time. Clover, dandelion, plantains, burdock, etc, are constantly growing the entire summer and much of the spring and fall here. Those foods would be okay to eat in much larger volume than you could ever consume flax seeds or corn.

~ Raederle, July 4th 2011

Question from Justin Wilson: "What is candida? And how would you know if you have it? How would you treat it?"

Raederle Phoenix's answer:

Candida is a condition where the natural yeast in the body has gotten out of control and become the major dominating flora of the intestines. Normally, yeast should be one among hundreds of other forms of flora, and not be particularly dominant among the flora. However, when someone takes antibiotics, it kills bad bacteria as well as good bacteria. Yeast often takes over when the other flora is killed off. People who've gone on antibiotics multiple times in their life are the most likely to have a bad case of candida.

If you do a google on it, there is plenty of detailed information for how to determine if you have it. The information is good, but often they conclude by saying "buy my product to fix your candida." So I'd read several websites about it, since it is a common issue, but not buy anything they are advertising.

Treating it naturally is tough, because the most effective way to treat it is to go on one of the most difficult diets to maintain.

All vegetables, nuts, seeds and oils, and fatty fruits (avocados and olives), but no other fruits/sweets. Doing that for a period of two weeks will starve the yeast of it's fuel: sugar. (This diet should never be prolonged. Fruits are a better source of nutrients and calories than fats, and we simply can't eat enough vegetables to get enough calories.)

Also, very, very important during those two weeks is to get lots and lots of probiotics -- healthy flora. Sauerkraut, almond yogurt, coconut kefir, kimchee, kombucha, and probiotic supplements are all good sources. All except for the coconut kefir can be found in a supermarket (usually). For an ordinary case of candida, just one bottle of probiotic supplements combined with the two week diet should be plenty.

Candida is one of the most common causes for being overweight, bloated, and tired, so it's worth looking in to. A purely raw diet may eventually resolve it on its own, but it's better to resolve it as quickly as possible so that eating large amounts of fruit doesn't cause any pain or dysfunctions.

~ Raederle Phoenix, June 15th 2011

Question from Justin Wilson: "You've said one of the ways you got started on your quest for health was pot lucks. How did you find out about them in your area? How should I look raw food potlucks in my city? I am currently in Wisconsin but I am moving to Seattle."

Raederle Phoenix's answer:

I use meetup.com to find potlucks. I think it's the easiest way. Try searching on meetup.com in your area with these keywords: raw food, raw vegan, live food, sunfood, living cuisine. If there isn't a raw/living food group near you, try vegetarian and vegan -- sometimes vegan groups will contain raw foodists who just have not found a better match for them.

Also, people who are vegans (assuming they are interested in health, not just animal rights), are generally good sources for information.

Beware of the "crazy vegans" however. On occasion you'll meet someone who is a very radical obsessive vegan who is only in it for 'animal rights' and has no nutrition/health interest at all. Sometimes those people are less than logical, even if they are nice people.

Seattle will undoubtedly have a rawfood community; if there doesn't appear to be a meetup one, you can go to a vegan potluck and ask around for rawfood potlucks. Owning a meetup group costs a little money, so sometimes a group exists, and wants a meetup but doesn't want to pay the $72 every six months.

Question from Justin Wilson: "Is it possible to eat too many bananas? I have been reading about exotic fruit, things like dragon fruit. Of the fruit that I have tried the only ones I really like are bananas, oranges, apples, peaches, pineapple, watermelon, grapes, and strawberries. Is that a healthy selection?"

Raederle Phoenix's answer:

It's unlikely to eat too many of any raw fruit or vegetable. It is possible, but difficult. Usually your body will tell you when you've had enough of something. You'll simply stop desiring it.

Certain conditions can make it possible to have too much of a raw fruit or vegetable until they overcome the condition. For example, having Candida can make it possible to overdose on sweet fruits because Candida will continue to thrive (once it's been developed) even on natural sugar. So, if someone had Candida, I'd recommend solving that issue before eating bananas (or any sweet fruit) in great quantity.

Lots of exotic and expensive foods are advertised as miracle foods, or super foods. They are shown to have amazing spectacular properties and extremely high mineral contents. Generally these "super foods" or "exotic foods" are very good for you in small portions, but are not actually needed for excellent health, and often they come in dried form. Dried foods and powders in general are highly difficult to digest and assimilate into the body, regardless of their mineral properties. Fresh dragon fruit obviously isn't dried and can be enjoyed in large amounts like any fruit, but I wouldn't say that exotic fruits are necessary for health.

Soy is an example of such hype that is created around a particular food to make money. Soy milk, soy burgers, soy bars, soy cereals -- it's a scam for them to make money. Fresh soy is a great addition to the diet, but a bunch of extracts from the plant are not.

Your selection of fruit is perfectly normal and okay. Seedless grapes probably should be limited somewhat -- I say that because they are altered so much from the original concord grapes. The rest of the fruit on your list -- eat as much as you desire. The amount you crave is most likely the correct amount for you.

Question from Justin Wilson: "How do you feel about juicing versus smoothies? Is there one you would pick over the other?"

Raederle Phoenix's answer: I wouldn't emphasize juice or smoothies. Both have benefits, and certain things taste a lot better one way or another. For example, juicing a banana is pointless, but in a smoothie it's nearly essential.

Question from Nate Zimmer: "Is there a raw substitute for bananas? They seem to be a pretty fundamental ingredient in a lot of recipes but last time I tried them I had an allergic reaction."

Raederle Phoenix's answer:

The reason for the widespread use of bananas is simple: they are creamy when blended and inexpensive. The point of using bananas from a flavor/texture point of view is because they are sweet and creamy. Nutritionally they are high in potassium and other nutrients which aid hydration and energy level.

To substitute in recipes where both the sweetness and the creaminess level are required, peaches are ideal. Mangoes are also good, but mangoes have a more dominant flavor than peaches or bananas, so their flavor will be more evident than a banana would be.

Other good creamy fruits are avocados and papayas. If using avocados in place of bananas where the bananas were required to create sweetness, then something fairly sweet would also need to be added such as a fig or date. If using papaya as a substitute, note that papaya has a strong flavor and other ingredients may not compensate for the papaya flavor the same way they would with the mild banana flavor.

Your allergic reaction may be due to bananas being a high hybridized fruit. My husband is allergic to hybridized apples, but not to wild apples. Also, he is allergic to hybridized tomatoes and gmo tomatoes, but not to heirloom tomatoes. It is likely that you could actually get ahold of wild bananas (they will be about half the size of supermarket bananas and filled with little hard black seeds) you would find no ill reaction.

Some "allergic reactions" are not actually allergies, but detoxification. I used to become sick to my stomach from eating sprouts, and cilantro also disgusted me and tasted like metal in my mouth. This was because these powerful plants were drawing metals from my lymph fluid into my bloodstream to expel from my body. Whatever is in your blood at a given moment determines how you feel. If this is the case, then for you, it may be good to have very small bites of banana each day until the reactions tops. It may not be the case for you, so I'm not saying you should but it is worth considering.

Banana replacements:

To replace one cup of banana in a recipe:

Substitute VolumePortions
100% Peaches1 cup peaches
50% Peaches, 60% Nectarines1/2 cup peaches & heaping 1/2 cup nectarines
90% MangoesShallow cup of mangoes
60% Peaches, 40% Mango1/2 cup peaches, shallow 1/2 cup mango
50% Papaya, 10% Dates1/2 cup papaya, 1 date
50% Papaya, 20% Figs1/2 cup papaya, 2 figs
60% Avocado, 40% DatesHeaping 1/2 cup avocado, 5 dates

Question from Diana: "How do you create your home-made crackers?"



The home-made crackers I make in my dehydrator -- and not just any dehydrator, but one capable of maintaining a consistent temperature at low settings. It's an Excalibur brand. This is important for maintaining the enzyme content so that the crackers are more digestible and more usable by the body than cooked crackers.

I blend my ingredients and use lots of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (to keep it fresh), and then spread them thin on the dehydrator shelf, set to 105 degrees (110 degrees if I'm in a hurry -- 105 degrees to 115 degrees are acceptable for maintaining enzyme content, but more enzymes are retained at 105 degrees than at 115 degrees), and then wait for a bit. Flip them over and then the other side dry. Then I love to enjoy them with guacamole, or crumbled on salad as croutons.

Question from Sarah: I was considering going on an all-fruit cleanse for a period of time. It won't be all organic due to the financial strain but my biggest two concerns were lacking protein and the duration of time I could sustain this. Any thoughts?

Answer: Need for protein is a myth. There are athletes out there who eat nothing but vegetables and fruits. As long as the fruits are raw (not pasteurized), they contain enzymes (the fresher they are, the more enzymes), these enzymes are the building blocks for protein in the body. It's actually easier to build protein from enzymes than to get protein from protein because the body actually breaks protein up into enzymes and then reforms the exact proteins that it needs which is a large strain on the body. Most people these days actually get too much protein which strains the kidneys. I have an entry all about this on my blog which includes a video from an athlete who lives off of nothing but fruit and vegetables.

The concern is only how long you can go without vegetables. I'd say two weeks tops. Without vegetables you can suffer from not enough minerals. You can go on fresh raw fruits and vegetables indefinitely however. The "ideal" raw diet (for most people) is approximately 80% of your calories from fruit, 10% of your calories from vegetables (which is still a very high volume of vegetables because they have so few calories -- green leafy stuff is still half the volume of the diet), and 10% fats (fats are olives, mushrooms, avocados, nuts and seeds.) Some people need to adjust to 15% fat or 5% fat depending on their level of activity or personal genetics.

Anyway, the answer is -- about two weeks, then you should need vegetables in order to maintain mineral reserves within the body. Also, it's dangerous to binge on a single fruit for more than four days. The bigger the variety of fruits, the better.

If the detox makes you feel terrible, this is because you're successfully detoxing. You might want to try doing 70% fruit for a month prior to the cleanse just to get your body a little cleaner before jumping into the detox. Detoxing can be scary and intense when you're coming from a "regular" diet.

It's important that you get healthy fats from some source.  If you're just eating fruits, then your options are durians, avocados and olives.  Since durians are hard to come by and very expensive, I imagine those are out.  Finding high-quality olives that are suitable for a detox may be impossible, so that would be out.  I'd recommend eating two avocados a week just to make sure you're getting enough healthy fats so that your skin doesn't dry out, so your hair stays healthy, etc.

I made the mistake of thinking that perhaps I needed no fats in my diet, and I learned the hard way.  The problem was that I was combing too much fat with too much sweet at once, not that I was eating some fat.  Sure, I was over-indulging on nuts (since many raw desserts include nuts), but eliminating all nuts, avocados and most seeds from my diet dried my skin out and caused some other strange things that are now dissipating as I add fats back in along more reasonable lines.  I'm now focusing on learning desserts that don't mix fat and sugar (or at least do so minimally), because impressing the crowd is only a small part of what I desire; mostly I want to make the crowd healthy.

Anyway, I'd suggest two avocados a week while you're doing the fruit cleanse to make sure you're getting a healthy fat source.  (I've recently done a lot of reading about fats -- did you know that all plant-based fats are healthy before they're cooked?  Also, all unnatural and unhealthy cholesterol comes from animal products.  I didn't know that until last night.  After all, I went raw for health reasons, not because of a "save the animals" kick, so I'm learning about some of the hazards of eating animals after the fact.)

Question from a girl I went to High School with: How did you first learn about eating raw foods?

Answer: I first heard about raw foods when scouring the internet for more activities to attend that would be free.  I had discovered meetup.com, which is an awesome way to discover people who are doing things nearby that you'd also like to do.  I had found a nearby weekly free yoga class only a few blocks from my house in Buffalo, NY, and I had also discovered board game groups, meditation groups, and several other things.

I was already interested in health and nutrition before I learned about raw because I had been faced with so many various health issues.  As you may recall, I was frequently absent from school.  Before you met me, I had already faced mononucleosis four times, chickenpox twice, rheumatic fever as a baby, and I was still constantly catching every strain of strep throat known to man every time I came into contact with anyone who had it or had been near someone else who had it.

Beyond that, I was always tired, nearly always depressed, and I knew there had to be an answer out there somewhere.  In my Senior year of high school I finally became determined to do something about my health, and a couple years before I attended my first raw potluck I had already made some strides by changing my diet quite dramatically -- if not as dramatic as going raw.  By eliminating all pasta, bread and sugar, and nearly all dairy and meat I lost weight and stopped getting sick as frequently and started to experience more energy.  Because I had come that far, I knew I could go farther if I just learned enough about nutrition and health.

When I discovered the raw-food meetup I didn't really know what it was, but I knew I could attend potlucks for free (or rather, for only the cost of bringing a dish) and experience an entire healthy meal.  I got more than I expected; not just a nearly-free meal, but rather, the beginning of a paradigm shift.  I noticed that every single person at the potluck was happy, healthy, educated, interesting, opinionated and open minded.  I asked myself, "What is it about these people that makes them so vibrant -- so full of life?"

I went to several more raw food potlucks and each time I found the same amazing phenomenon: Everyone who attended was so happy, so positive.  It wasn't the sort of fake-happy that you see at summer camps as a kid, or the sort of plastered-on happy that salesmen wear.  It wasn't the sort of giddy-short-lived happiness that comes from drinking too much.  It was genuine contentment with life; a calm, relaxed and open nature.  The food tasted good, and I felt great after eating it, but the people themselves brought a dimension to it that the food alone could not.

I didn't expect to ever stop eating cooked food, but I knew that I didn't want to stop going to raw potlucks, which meant learning more about the raw lifestyle.  It also meant learning new dishes I had never tried before.  For every new dish I learned, I discovered there was something I used to eat that I no longer needed because I had something better to replace it with.

After a motivational talk by Markus Rothkranz and a nasty ear infection in the summer of 2010, I knew I wanted to go entirely raw.  I thought I'd just "give it a try" for a while.  September 3rd, 2010 I stopped eating cooked food.  I didn't expect much of anything to happen right away, but some changes happened quite quickly.  I started to like salads a lot more, I craved dried fruits a lot less (which has been my only source of "sweet junk food" for a long time now), my stomach became a bit flatter, and most astoundingly -- I noticed that after a long day of exercise I wasn't sore the next day.  All of the stiffness and aching in my body was dramatically reduced to the point where a single slight discomfort was strange and unfamiliar.

I know now there is no going back.  Why would I want to?  It's not any more expensive to eat this way; and technically if you're doing it "right" (that is, eating things you grow or forage yourself as much as possible, with a diet that is primarily consisting of vegetables and greens), then it'll actually cost significantly less.  And beyond that, whoa! energy!  You never know how tired you've always been you're entire life until you experience a deep vivacious energy that is present even when you're motionless and quiet.  It's like shedding a heavy stone you've been carrying your entire life.

I honestly thought it would be harder, but more and more I just think of myself as a "raw foodist."  I don't really think of other foods as an option anymore, but instead just become more and more fascinated by all the things you can do with raw food.  From salads to 'gently warmed soups' (under the temperature of 105 degrees), smoothies to raw cakes, raw truffles to cheeses and milks made from nuts, to sandwiches (where the 'bread' is either lettuce or a "seed bun"), to puddings...  People think this diet is limited, but generally, people only eat the same twenty things on a weekly basis, and because of this experience I'm actually eating a greater variety of foods than ever before.

And that's how I got into the raw lifestyle, as well as how I stayed in it, for that matter.  Thanks for asking; you gave me a reason to write about it.

Question: How do you get your protein?

Answer: I get it in everything that I eat!

There are several important differences between raw foods and cooked foods. One of the biggest differences is enzymes. The structure of the enzyme is altered during the cooking to make it unusable. Enzymes are chains of amino acids (oxygen, nitrogren, carbon, and hydrogen), which are responsible for growing new cells and building and repairing tissue.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to consume very much protein to be healthy. The average requirement of protein is only about 5 ounces a day, or about 5% of your daily caloric intake.

It may also surprise you to hear that too much protein can actually damage your bones and organs, and that reducing the amount of protein in your diet can give you more energy, put your digestive system at ease, and protect your immune system.

There is a lot more information about enzymes, and "getting protein on a raw vegan diet" in this article, including a video from a body builder who eats a 100% raw diet, with no nuts!

Question from Sarah: Are there any fruits or veggies that should be avoided?

Answer: There are not many fruits and vegetables to be avoided, but trying to minimize hybridized produce can play a large role in how well you feel.

Carrots and beets are two examples of vegetables that have been hybridized to be sweeter to the point where they no longer can grow wild, and must be looked after by humans.  Their sweetness has been so far altered from it's original state that for many people the liver can not recognize the sugar, and thereby it enters the bloodstream directly, causing a sugar high.  Sugar highs puts the body into a desperate struggle to balance the body, leaching calcium from bones as well as other minerals, causing a strain a multiple organs while losing nutrients at the same time.

Apples are an example of a hybridized fruit; wild apples (such a crab apples) have higher nutrition content and much more balanced and normal sugar content.  (They're usually a third the size of regular apples.)

That said, carrots, beets and apples -- even hybridized apples -- offer a lot of nutrition and enzymes and are not the horror of the world.  Interestingly, my husband, who didn't know anything about hybridized fruits (and neither did I when I met him) is allergic to all hybridized fruit -- clearly HIS body doesn't recognize the altered sugars within at all.  One way to know if something has been altered -- seedless fruits.  I don't avoid all hybridized fruits myself, but I do keep it in mind and make sure that I balance it will plenty of green leafy stuff.

~ Raederle

January 31st 2011

Question from Qutequte: What is your all-time favorite raw vegan food?

Thoughts: It's hard to decide.  I'm currently really into spicy sprouted raw pistachios.  But, that's just a passing personal fad of mine.  

Answer: I love mixing an avocado, peach, a slice of tomato, some spices, oil, lemon and a bit of vinegar in the blender to make a paste.  I spread the past onto romaine lettuce and then added chopped organic heirloom tomatoes, chopped avocado, a bit of onion (green onions or red skinned onion or both), and a sprinkle of seeds.  It's a replacement for the enjoyment of a sandwich and guacamole and chips at the same time and is incredibly delicious.  And it's not really any more tasking to make than a salad.

Question: Do you eat any agave or stevia at all, ever?

Answer: Nope. None.

My body reacts to both agave and stevia as though they were any other sugar despite what people say about the glycemic index. I've tried raw dishes with small amounts of agave and felt very sick after wards (sweating, stomach ache, headache and fatigue), and had dishes with small amounts of stevia and reacted negatives as well (not being able to sleep most of the night, leg cramps, trouble waking up, feeling sluggish and heavy-headed).

My husband who has severe reactions when eating anything high in fructose (including fruits that have been bred for higher fructose content, such as apples), reacts negatively to stevia and agave as well. My husband became nauseous and sick after having small amounts of agave-sweetened juice, and felt tired and sore after eating an agave-sweetened raw dessert. We both stay away from all sweeteners entirely.

Question from Ela: Is xylitol off-limits for you too?

Answer: Yep, no xylitol. No sugar or alternative sugars whatsoever. The closest I get to pure sure is dried pineapple, and that's only on rare occasion. I don't even use toothpaste with any sweeteners whatsoever. (Sugars, including alcoholic sugars are absorbed through the roof of the mouth and into the bloodstream.)

Question from Robm47: Did a health scare precipitate your dietary changes?

Answer: Not exactly. I've essentially been sick my entire life. So, yes, a health scare is involved, but one particular one didn't drive me to go 100% raw.

Under the age of fourteen I had mono four times, chickenpox twice, strep throat over 25 times, continual mysterious fevers, many ear infections, and extremely long recovery times for each time I was sick. One of the times I had mono I was in bed for the better part of six months. Some of the times I had strep throat I was sick for over three weeks. None of the times was I sick for less than six days.

When I was fourteen I stopped drinking soda and did more walking. I got sick slightly less often, but still had very long recovery times. As a child, I expected that getting sick meant three to four weeks in bed. From thirteen to seventeen, I expected a week to two and a half weeks in bed.

I quit high fructose corn syrup entirely, as well as anything with aspartame and hydrogenated oil when I was sixteen, which led to losing about five pounds, and having slightly more energy.

When I was seventeen I quit all sugar entirely and stopped getting sick more than twice a year, and could expect a week to a week and a half getting over the cold, which was a huge improvement and gave me a lot of encouragement to fix all of the other issues I was dealing with.

I then went on to quit dairy, meat and grains/pastas/breads and lost thirty pounds in a month while sitting on my ass playing video games. Only after that did I experience what it was like to catch a cold from someone and manage to fight it off in 24 hours.

Each of these experiences within my life (and many other impacts) have led me to keep asking "What if I were more healthy?" And I keep discovering time and time again: Yes! I can have more energy to do the things I want. And: Yes! I can be happier and more fit.

Question: What do you fight for?

Answer:  I fight for happy and healthy living. Everyone struggles with being sick, being tired, being depressed, being confused, being forgetful...  And after spending my childhood constantly sick and depressed and most of my teen years even worse, I now fight to make other people stop suffering through what I suffered through.  I fight to make people understand where I'm coming from so that they know that I'm not just happy and vivacious because I'm young.  I fight to let people know how hard I fought for the health and happiness I have now, and to let them know that they can have this too.

Question from Andrew: What are some interesting smoothies to make with my newly acquired blender?

Answer: There can be many answers to this one, obviously.

One of my favorite combinations is raw chocolate nibs, banana and blueberry. To make it really cold you can use frozen wild or organic blueberries, or freeze your own fresh berries. They have the most flavor if you get them fresh from a farmer's market. Another trick is to put a little water in the blender pitcher with the cocoa nibs and stick it in the fridge for ten minutes or so beforehand.

Recently I made something new that was absolutely delicious. I took some of the coconut cream that I had made and blended it with a somewhat frozen mango and a kiwi and the juice of one lime. It came out as a creamy sherbet, much like a delicate frozen yogurt. The more lemon/lime you add the more it's like a sherbet, the more coconut cream you use, the more it's like a frozen cream yogurt.

Question: "What is coconut kefir?"

Answer: Coconut kefir is to coconuts what yogurt is to milk. I make it by opening young coconuts (not the same as brown furry "old" coconuts which yield "coconut milk") and blending their "meat" and "juice" together to get a creamy texture, stirring in probiotic kefir made from coconuts which I buy at Whole Foods and then letting it sit in a dark warm place for 48 hours. In that time, the probiotics from the kefir I put in it spread throughout the mixture, literally growing. These live cultures are vital for a healthy digestive system, but anyone who takes antibiotics regularly or has taken a lot of them in a past, or someone who is exposed to a lot of toxins, or lives in a city -- nearly everyone, in other words -- doesn't have a normal level of healthy bacteria. I wouldn't eat the result straight; it's very very potent, like a plain yogurt or stronger (or at least mine are that strong), but it has such a creamy texture (similar to yogurt) and the flavor it brings to a smoothie is just wonderful.

Question: "So you're a vegan... And you make everything from scratch?"

Answer: A raw vegan, yes.

Although, I like to emphasize that I believe (very strongly) that it's way more important to stop eating refined sugars than it is to stop eating meat.

The sugar industry is a very scary thing, and much more powerful that the meat industry. The sugar is more harmful to the body. The sugar is addictive, and actually causes cravings for meat and bread (as well as more sugar.) Refined sugars cause over-growth of yeast in the intestines causing Candida (which has a scary-long list of symptoms, all of which I used to have.) Refined sugar numbs the taste buds so that flavors which are not sweet are less defined and harder to like. It corrupts every function of the body.

So, generally, when people ask if I'm vegan, I say, "I'm a raw foodist," because the fact that I eat nothing cooked, and that I don't eat any refined sugars is much, much more relevant than not eating meat.

No, I don't make everything from scratch, unfortunately. I do make my own raw nut milk from raw nuts (which is easier than it sounds.) I made enough nut milk yesterday for four or five days as well a "nut bread" out of the nut pulp that is left over from the nut-milking process in under than hour (and that included clean-up and set-up.) I do germinate my own nuts and seeds and season them. (To germinate something is to soak it in water long enough for the enzymes to become active.) All of that said, I also buy several "raw snacks" at Whole Foods each week because I enjoy them, and because I'm interested in learning to make the things that I buy from the store. I discovered buckwheat oats from buying a raw granola that contained them which led me to buy my own raw buckwheat oats from the bulk section of the store and germinate them myself. It turned out to be very easy, and I discovered that they are very filling and make a great base for making my own raw pudding.

~ Raederle Phoenix
October 12th 2010

Question: "Why don't you eat refined sugars?"

Answer: It wouldn't matter what plant, fruit, vegetable, etc, the refinement process was done on.

It's true that dehydrating (removing water) is also a process and dehydrated food in general should be limited, but it's not nearly the same sort of process as when they extract the pure sugar substance from a food (leaving all the nature-balanced nutrition behind.)

Heirloom corn is a healthy food, but corn syrup is not a food at all. Beets are healthy and so it beet juice, but beet-sugar in crystal form is not healthy.

You see where I'm going with this?

If it's a syrup, powder or crystal-form sugar, it doesn't matter where it came from. It's just like the difference between white rice and brown rice. Brown rice is natural and balanced and despite being eaten cooked, it's a fairly healthy food. White rice, which has the shell removed is a concentrated form of carbs without any fiber and is very damaging to the body.

Same thing with flour and wheat. Sprout some wheat berries and you have a very healthy food. Turn the wheat berries into flour and make bread and you have a very unhealthy food.

However, this is not just a matter of principle. This is a matter of reacting severely to these substances. Refined sugars give me muscle cramps within hours of consumption. Serious muscle cramps that immobilize the cramped area of the body. If I get the cramps in my legs than I can't walk. If I get the cramps in my neck then I can't turn my head from side to side. Usually this is accompanied by a splitting headache which makes all sounds and light feel like torture. I get these reactions even with very small tiny doses of refined forms of sugar.

Sugar, in refined form, is poison. Don't take my word for it though: read the Sugar Blues for a history of sugar and studies done throughout the ages on the outcome of eating refined sugar.

Click here to read an except from the book Sugar Blues.

Agave isn't usually raw, and even if it were, it's still refined.

Stevia in a powder-form, crystal-form or syrup-form is refined to the point where it doesn't matter that it came from stevia leaves.

Molasses is cooked and refined.

Honey is filtered, often it is cooked. Raw honey comb the way bees make it, with the comb included is okay in moderation.

~ Raederle Phoenix