The Importance of Enzymes

enzymesThe food we choose to EAT is one of the most important decisions that we can make when it comes to maintaining our health.  The more fresh fruits and vegetables that we can incorporate into our diet the healthier we will be.  In fruits and vegetables there is a life giving element that exists: enzymes.

There are 2 groups of enzymes: exogenous; those found in raw food and endogenous; those produced within our bodies.

Enzymes are one of the most essential elements in our body.   Life itself depends on them.  We need enzymes for every bodily function.  Every breath you take, every move you make, every thought you think and every action you take requires enzymes. Enzymes are an absolute necessity to life.  They are your body’s workers. They assist in keeping our body in top form by lowering cholesterol, cleaning the colon, breaking down fats, strengthening the immune system, detoxifying the body, cleaning our lungs, and building muscle.

When we feed our bodies with enzyme-deficient food, our body systems start to slow down and deteriorate.  Cooking food destroys 100 percent of the enzymes in that food. When you eat cooked or processed foods your body must produce ALL the enzymes required to digest that food.  When we are born we are given a limited amount of enzymes.  This is like an enzyme bank account.  If you don’t make regular deposits into your account by eating foods rich in natural enzymes, you start to deplete your account and use up your enzyme supply.

After a prolonged period of depleting the enzymes in our body it starts to work overtime to produce more enzymes, causing extra stress which affects our immune system. This lowers our ability to protect from and fight diseases. Our digestive system eventually slows down causing food to be undigested. This undigested food stays in our system creating a toxic environment that saps your energy, clouds your thinking and is a breeding ground for illness.

The good news is that with the simple addition of fresh fruits and vegetables to our diet we can prevent the depletion of these enzymes.  All fresh and raw foods have naturally-occurring enzymes. Start by adding a fresh fruit or vegetable juice into your daily routine.  Carry bananas, apples, or avocados with you for a snack.  Start dinner with a salad instead of bread.

Start slowly, changing old habits with new fruit and vegetable inspired choices, and welcome the feeling of newfound energy with the addition of these life giving enzymes.

Happy Thanksgiving! A Raw Pumpkin Pie Recipe.

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Pumpkin Pie

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving, a holiday that revolves around EATing?  A day where we get to gather around the table and take a moment to reflect on all that there is to be thankful for.  There are no presents to buy, not much to do (except maybe watch a football game) so we really get the opportunity to enjoy each others company and just be.  My mother started a wonderful tradition many years ago.  Before we dig in to the feast, we go around the dinner table and talk about what we are thankful for.  When we first started doing this my sisters and I were much younger and we and would roll our eyes a little bit and play along to appease her.  Now it has become a most meaningful moment in the day.  It is so easy to focus on what is wrong in our lives or in the world.  By taking a moment to pause and share what there is to be grateful for, we embrace the true meaning of the holiday.

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It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pie and what better way to celebrate than with the quintessential Thanksgiving treat; pumpkin pie?  Try this raw version and you will be amazed at how delicious it is.

Pumpkin Pie

2 cups of soaked and dehydrated pecans
1 cup of pitted medjool dates
½ cup of raw coconut oil
½ teaspoon of cinnamon

Filling

2 cups of cashews soaked overnight
1 cup of sugar pumpkin juice
(To make the pumpkin juice: run ½ of a small seeded sugar pumpkin through a juicer)
½ cup raw agave syrup
½ cup melted raw coconut oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of cloves

Blend pecans in a food processor until ground into a fine flour like consistency. Add the dates and cinnamon and blend until it forms a sticky dough.  Press the dough into a 9 inch pie plate.  I like to flute the sides with a fork for a traditional old fashioned look. Place the crust in the freezer to set for about an hour.

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Place all of the filling ingredients in a Vita Mix or other high speed blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into the crust and return to the freezer at least 2 hours or overnight.

Once the pie is set, you can store it in the fridge until dinner.

Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Raw Cacao and How To Make Raw Chocolate Candy.

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Raw Cacao

It is that time of year when all thoughts turn to chocolate.  Halloween and chocolate candy, they just go together.  Even with all of our trick or treating many of us have  have never eaten “real chocolate”.  Most commercially produced chocolate bars, (think Hershey’s) only contain about 10% actual chocolate, the rest is sugar and fillers.

This year why not EAT some delicious real chocolate candy made with simple raw ingredients?  Making raw chocolate is probably one of the easiest things you can do. As a bonus it just happens to be good for you.   In fact, Raw Cacao is considered a super food. It contains theobromine which invigorates our entire system, phenylethalamine which increases our sense of happiness and well being, trytophan which elevates and stabilizes our mood, anandamide, the “bliss” chemical which relaxes the body and the mind. It is higher in anti-oxidants than green tea and wine. It also contains protein, good fats, calcium, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, folic acid, and the vitamins A, E, K.  It is rich in iron.  Super food indeed!

The most important part of this indulgent experience is to make sure that you use truly raw cacao. The health benefits are only derived from cacao in it’s raw state.  One of my favorites is Pacari from Ecuador.  It is organic, heirloom (never heated above 118 degrees), and single origin (not blended with cacao from other countries or regions).  These are 3 important things to look for when you are purchasing raw cacao.

The next part is to have fun choosing a mold.  There are thousands to choose from, ranging from bugs and spiders to hearts and flowers.  They are very inexpensive and can be used over and over again.

Basic Raw Chocolate

  • 1 cup of raw cacao butter
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons of raw agave nectar

Melt the cacao butter over low heat.  Either in a dehydrator, in a double boiler with hot water, or in a sauce pan over the lowest heat.  If using the stove top method, you can keep an eye on the temperature with a candy thermometer making sure not to bring the cacao over 118 degrees.  Once it has liquefied, whisk in the cacao powder and agave until smooth.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and then fill the molds.  Set in the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes until set and then pop out of the molds.  Because are no chemicals or stabilizers in this yummy chocolate keep them in the fridge until serving time.

From there get creative!  You can add chopped nuts, coconut, or dried fruit.  Add pure mint extract for a chocolate mint.  Play with flavors and textures to recreate your favorite candy bar.  Indulge in a little raw chocolate and Have a Happy Halloween!

Pacari Cacao can be found at:

http://www.therawfoodworld.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=100148_100215_100335

Chocolate molds can be found at:

http://www.amazon.com/ keyword: chocolate molds