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How welcome is Spring in Australia right now?  There’s nothing like a bit of sunshine and blue sky to inspire you to put health back on top of your priority list. It’s the perfect time to discover how ramping up your raw food count can aid your health and help you lose weight.  This issue you can read all about our unique new cookshop designed to teach you ways to become ‘more raw’, both safely and easily.  We’ll also tell you why you should give artichokes a go and introduce you to some simple ways to include more legumes in your diet. Plus, we de-mystify where to buy, how to store and how to cook dry beans.

Becoming More Raw

First promoted in the 1800s, raw food diets are fast becoming popular once again among health enthusiasts and gourmet chefs around the world.  But what can they do for you?  And how raw do you need to go to benefit?

What is a raw foods diet?

A raw foods diet usually comprises of uncooked plant food dishes, which can be prepared in surprising ways to create the texture and flavour that we are used to with cooked dishes.  Think flax crackers, sprouted wheat breads, banana cream pie, crepes with fruit compote, Mexican tacos, burgers in buns and even lasagne – you can get all these delicious foods served raw at a good raw foods café. 

These days raw eating has become hip and is much more than just adding green juices to your diet!

Raw foodists typically consume at least 75% of their foods raw (or not heated beyond 48 degrees Celsius in order to retain enzymes found within plant cells).  But the fastest growing group is made up of ‘high raw’ enthusiasts, with 50-74% raw foods consumed by weight.  This may be a most realistic formula to follow, allowing for the occasional cooked meal eaten out with friends and a home-cooked dinner with your family.

Adhearants usually devour lots of fresh org­­anic fruits and vegetables (especially dark green ones), some nuts/seeds and possibly sea vegetables (algaes).  They may also include sprouted grains and legumes in various recipes.  But they avoid processed foods like sugar, flour, pasta, ordinary bread, pastries, deep fried foods, liquor and products containing additives and preservatives.  And eating raw meat is rare.

The result?  Raw food diets contain far less calories, little or no refined carbohydrate, no partially hydrogenated fats, no toxic chemicals ordinarily formed while cooking at high temperature and a lot more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.

Health benefits you can expect

Research is building that eating a high content of raw plant foods in your diet could provide benefits for you across a range of chronic diseases and even slow down the ageing process! 

Raw food or unrefined, high plant-based diets have been shown to:

  • Lower risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and CRP (a marker of inflammation) and boost antioxidants in your blood.
  • Lower blood sugar levels to prevent, better treat and even ‘reverse’ type 2 diabetes.
  • Improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, such as stiffness, swelling of joints and pain.  In one US study, the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms was reduced by 46% and quality of life also improved. 
  • Reduce damage to your DNA and lower risk markers for cancer (e.g. IGF-1).  By improving the resident bacteria in your gut, raw food diets have also been found to switch off the activity of certain enzymes that generate toxic compounds associated with cancer.  Raw cruciferous vegetables are thought to have particular benefits for breast and bladder cancer.  How often do you eat broccoli?
  • Be the ultimate weight loss regime.  Raw meals provide lots of volume and fibre for satiety with a relatively small calorie price tag.  At least six studies have reported weight loss benefits with losses of around 9% of body weight or 10-12 kg. 

However, scientific studies on raw food diets are limited and mostly based on observations of raw food eaters in Northern Europe.  More research is required before we can understand all the implications – especially if you want to go totally raw.  

Potential pitfalls

Going 100% raw could mean you miss out on getting enough protein (only if you subsist mainly on fruit), vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega 3.  The intake of other B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, iron, zinc and iodine can also be variable, depending on what it is that you choose to eat and how much you have.

In order to avoid anaemia, low bone mineral density, dental erosion (from fruit acid) and being excessively underweight, we recommend you get informed about menu planning for a raw foods diet before you make drastic changes to your eating pattern.  You may also need to take some supplements.  Simply swapping all your cooked foods with healthy raw salads won’t cut it and doesn’t constitute a healthy and balanced diet.  Ask your dietitian for personalised advice to get raw eating right! 

How much raw is right for you?

While health professionals may disagree on the optimal ratio of raw in the diet, they will all generally acknowledge that most people living in Western countries would do well to add more fresh produce into their shopping baskets – particularly those who are overweight or battling a chronic disease.  So, going more raw could have its merits.

However, high raw diets are not the easiest way to get your fill of important nutrients if you are pregnant and there is no evidence raw diets benefit small children.

So how much raw is right for you?  It’s good to know you don’t have to be 100% raw to reap the benefits.  Simply adding more raw food meals to your usual diet, such as swapping the lunch-time burger and fries for a large, juicy salad laced with sprouted legumes and nuts and a creamy avocado dressing, can certainly help shed excess fat and improve your wellbeing.

Reference: Becoming Raw by Davis B, Vesanto M & Berry R, Book Publishing Company 2010.  Read our book review.


“Our food should be our medicine.  Our medicine should be our food.” – Hippocrates

Go4Fun – Free Fun Program for Kids to Become Fitter & Healthier

Do you have children 7 to 13 years of age?  Are they carrying ‘puppy fat’?  Do you have any concerns about their current or future wellbeing? 

Join the free (government-funded) healthy lifestyle program for kids and their parents to help your family become healthier and happier.  Go4Fun is a multi-disciplinary program that runs for 10 weeks during each school term.  It covers healthy attitudes to food and eating, motivation to exercise on a regular basis, empowerment to make informed food choices and practical tips to know how to do it all in a fun, easy and sustainable way.  For just two hours after school, twice per week, you and your child can engage in games and activities together, while learning how to get healthier at the same time.

Events are being run right across local communities in Australia and New Zealand as well as in the UK, US and Canada.  See the website or call 1800 780 900 to register if you live in New South Wales.  Get involved - it’s too good an opportunity to miss out on!

What’s Cooking? – Becoming More Raw and Reaping the Benefits

Would you benefit from eating more fresh foods?  Could you be ingesting harmful chemicals formed using high-heat cooking methods like when you grill chicken breast fillet, fry a piece of steak or BBQ snags?

Raw food cafes and cookbooks are sprouting everywhere as raw food enthusiasts claim better digestion, clearer skin and increased energy levels with no afternoon slumps and fewer colds.  They even say they need less sleep!

While more research is required, existing scientific studies already suggest raw food diets may help ease pain from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.  And there’s no question high raw meals offer a superior weight loss opportunity!

Join Sue Radd at this exciting new cookshop where you can explore the pros and cons of going more raw – from health benefits you can expect to ways to avoid nutritional risks.  Learn how to evade toxic chemicals, such as AGEs, acrylamide and heterocyclic amines, formed with modern high temperature cooking methods, which could be harming your family.  This is important whether you intend to go raw part-time or not.

See and taste entirely raw recipes you can make at home without needing special equipment – and they’re delicious!  Get the low down on time-saving food preparation tools and techniques you will need if you want to become more raw in the future. 

This rawdelicious cookshop will include four tasting plates that will blow your mind, recipe sheets to take home and nutrition handouts with all the info you need to avoid nasty chemicals during cooking – even if you have no intention of adopting a raw foods diet!

When: Tues 12th November 2013, 6:30-8:30 pm

View other cookshops

Find out how raw you should go and how much better you could feel immediately!

Call NOW on 9899 5208 to book your seat and bring a partner for a super fun night out.

What’s Fresh? – Artichokes

Have you every cooked with artichokes?  Artichokes are considered a delicacy in Southern Europe however they are rarely seen on Australian tables.

There are two main varieties of artichoke – Globe and Jerusalem.  Their commonality is taste but, judged on appearance, you’d never guess they were related.  The globes are large, a bit like the size of a light globe whereas Jerusalem’s can look a little like kipfler potatoes.

In Sydney, globe artichokes are seasonally available from October till December, so it’s a good time try them now as their supply is scarce around September, January and February.

Globe artichokes actually look like a flower bud.  Once the stalk and base is removed, you can steam, boil or microwave your artichoke.  It’s best to add lemon juice to the water while cooking to prevent browning.  Your artichoke is ready to eat when a pedal or outer leaf can be removed easily.

The fun of artichokes comes in the eating!  You remove pedals one at a time and pull them through your teeth so you can taste the fleshy base (yum!) and then discard the rest of the pedal.  Once all the pedals are removed, you’re left with the heart of the artichoke – which is arguably the very best part!  Often it’s pickled.

When buying globe artichokes, look for those that are firm to the touch, with bright colours and tight pedals. For storage, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate in your crisper. Handle gently as artichokes can damage easily, and eat them within 2-3 days after purchasing.

One medium globe artichoke (130 grams) provides you with a good source of fibre, an excellent source of vitamin C, and a source of folate, other B vitamins and phosphorus.  Artichokes also contain a special organic acid called cynarin, which gives them their special taste and makes everything you eat or drink sweeter after consumption.  How cool is that!

3 ways with artichokes:

  • Stuff artichokes with a seasoned nut and breadcrumbs mixture and bake in the oven
  • Throw baby artichokes into salads or add them as a pizza topping
  • Keep it simple and eat as an entrée or side dish with a hommus and balsamic vinegar dip

Food Matters with Sue Radd – Why You Should Eat Slowly

Are you a speed eater?  Do you slam food down fast, often not even realising how much or what you have eaten?  Slowing down can help your waistline and may even reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. It's true.  Read Sue’s column to hear the latest research.

Food InFocus – What the New Australian Dietary Guidelines Advise for Your Health

So you’ve heard the Australian Government recently released updated eating guidelines to make you healthier.  Sue Radd explains what it means for you.

Kitchen Tip – How to Cook Dry Beans From Scratch

Legumes (think beans, peas, lentils) are a must in your kitchen!  They are low GI, packed with nutrients, and high on the anti-inflammatory and anti-disease scale.  But are you eating them regularly during the week? 

Unfortunately many people steer clear of beans because they’re a little bit mysterious. Here’s how to make the most of them.

Where to buy them – The first step is finding a legume you enjoy.  There are so many varieties to taste and try: black beans, red kidney beans, black eyed beans, split peas, borlotti beans… so go crazy!  You can buy some common varieties of dry legumes (such as red lentils and chickpeas) at your local supermarket. Otherwise, the best place to be spoilt for choice is at your greengrocer, wholesaler or local Middle Eastern or Indian shop.

How to store & prepare them Once you’ve bought them, you can store dry legumes easily for an indefinite period in an air-tight container or jar in your cupboard.  When you’re ready to use them, simply get rid of any stones or debris material, rinse well and soak overnight in a large bowl covered with plenty of water.  Why?  Dry legumes need to be soaked so you can ‘rehydrate’ them and reduce their cooking time.  Soaking also minimises their gas-producing carbohydrates (oligosaccharides), so the longer you soak and the more your rinse, the better!

How to cook them  After at least 8-12 hours of soaking, rinse the legumes again, place in a pot and cover with three times their volume of water.  Bring the water to boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Stir occasionally, adding more water if needed (always ensure legumes are covered) and cook until tender.  The cooking time can vary depending on the type of legume (and how ‘old’ it is; legumes can hang around a long time as unlike fresh produce they don’t go off – lentils were discovered in the tombs of Pharaohs!).  Usually, the larger dry beans take around 45 minutes to cook.  You’ll know they are ready when you can easily mash them with a fork or squish them between your fingers.  They need to be soft-cooked, not crunchy!

Ways to enjoy them Plain cooked legumes can be added to any of your favourite dishes: pasta sauces, casseroles, stews, soups, curries, lasagnas and salads.  They are so versatile!

Some extra legume cooking tips:

  • Don’t be put off by the soaking process.  The extra effort is worth it!  Soaking and cooking your own beans is cheaper, healthier and tastier.  If time is an issue, soak and cook extra on the weekend and freeze in batches for future use.
  • A pressure cooker is very useful; it can drop your cooking time from 45-50 minutes to anywhere between 10-20 minutes!!  Check out next month’s kitchen tip to learn more!
  • Don’t add hot water, salt and any acidic ingredients (i.e. lemon, tomatoes, vinegar) at the start of the cooking process.  You can add seasonings towards the end of cooking or when compiling the beans as part of a recipe.  If you add acidic ingredients early in the bean boiling process, it can take longer to cook them and they can be a little ‘tougher’.
  • For a quick version (if you haven’t been able to soak overnight) just add three times the amount of water to the dry beans and bring to the boil.  Allow to boil for 5-10 minutes then remove from the heat and let sit for an hour (or use straight away if you can’t wait).  Discard the soaking water and continue to cook as per recipe.

Want a yummy legume recipe?  Try Sue Radd’s black-eye bean salad with lemon & shallots.  Perfect for a spring picnic! 

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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2013.

Suite 10, 80 Cecil Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154 Ph: +61 2 9899 5208 Fx: +61 2 9899 2848 www.nwbc.com.au

We are a boutique Dietitians clinic in Sydney, Australia, offering one-on-one consultations, culinary medicine cooking workshops, motivational health seminars and nutrition advisory services to businesses in the local and global area.

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