Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Local Foodies Spread the News About Cooking Raw

For Milwaukee-area raw foodists Caroline Carter and Shenita Ray, the raw food diet has become not only a way of life, but also a source of income.

In 2007, this mother-daughter team founded eden's market, a food product line including crackers, granola, dips and smoothies that are wheat-, gluten- and dairy-free (most of the products are also raw).

We came across Caroline and Shenita's delicious crackers for the first time at an area farmer's market in 2008 -- and since then, we've been avid supporters ever since. Caroline's energy is intoxicating, and her crackers are delicious. So, we were genuinely excited to hear that the duo would be hosting a new eight-part cooking series on Milwaukee Public Television.

Cooking Raw, which debuted on July 10, 2010, teaches viewers to prepare popular dishes using uncooked ingredients, such as fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains.

Through eden's market and Cooking Raw Shenita and Caroline aspire to spread the message of raw food and its benefits throughout Milwaukee and --eventually-- beyond.  Future plans include a self-published cookbook that will be made available at farmer's markets and on the eden's market Web site beginning later this month.

Since we love to support local area businesses, and we think the message of eden's market is an important and health-giving one, we asked Shenita if she would be willing to share some information with us about their food philosophies. 

What made you decide to switch over to a raw diet? Are you 100% raw?
Seeing how raw foods changed my mother physically and emotionally encouraged me to integrate raw foods into my diet. She lost close to 80 pounds, her skin glowed, and I sensed that she achieved an emotional balance that I had never witnessed before. It seemed as though everything about her changed once she began integrated raw foods into her diet. I will admit that I was hesitant about trying the food but once I did, I couldn’t get enough of it. Neither me or my mother are 100% raw, but on average our diet is probably 70% raw at any given time.

Did you grow up enjoying cooking?
That’s a difficult question to answer.I would say that I never really had any interest in cooking growing up.  I didn’t like spending hours upon hours in the kitchen “cooking” in the traditional sense.So before I began integrating raw foods into my diet, I ate out often. However, after I began raw foods, it sparked a new found interest and joy in cooking raw.  Integrating raw foods changed my outlook toward food.  I had always seen food as something that simply satisfied my hunger but recently I discovered the profound impact food has on how I feel and how I think.   Nowadays, cooking and eating isn’t just about curbing my hunger, it is also about making me feel good, giving me energy, feeding my body the nutrients it needs to perform at its optimal level.  So since I started integrated raw foods into my diet, I have developed a passion for preparing my own meals from scratch using the best ingredients that I can find.

What made you decide you would start your own raw foods business?  
My mother traveled across the country to obtain training and certification on raw food preparation and instruction. After she completed a series of training, she wanted to teach people how to prepare raw foods. So we worked with various schools, grocery stores, churches, and other organizations to provide raw food preparation demonstrations.  Well the positive response we received from the participants was overwhelming and they always asked “where can I buy your food.”  So really the idea to start a raw foods business came from the people who attended our raw food preparation sessions.

Tell us a little bit about the mission of eden’s market? 
Our mission is to create healthy food products that taste delicious by using uncooked and whole vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, and natural sweeteners, to teach children and adults how to prepare nutritious meals, and to educate others about the importance of integrating natural and whole foods into their diet for improved health.

How did the opportunity to be featured on Milwaukee Public Television arise?
One day my mother said to me, “Nita, we should have our own TV show to teach people how to prepare raw foods.  There really isn’t anything like this on TV now” and I said, “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea but how in the world are WE going to get on TV?”  Well, through my mother’s amazing networking and persuasive skills, she was able to convince the folks at MPTV to give us a shot…and they did.

Do you have any tips for a novice raw foodie?  
I would say to keep it simple.  When I first decided to integrate raw foods into my diet, I wanted to make the most extravagant raw food meals using the most extravagant raw food ingredients.  Well, given my busy lifestyle and budget, this was impossible to maintain.  So I encourage people who are trying to improve their diet by adding raw foods, start small.  Begin by adding green smoothies to your diet or simply by drinking more water.  These small things will make a huge difference in your well-being and encourage you to integrate more raw foods into your diet.

Favorite kitchen gadget?
Blender – I use it nearly every day to make my green smoothies.

Funniest kitchen incident? 
I really can’t think of a funny kitchen moment that happened to me but my mother captured one of her friends trying a raw taco for the first time and her friend’s response was simply amazing.  This video is on my FB page.

What are some raw food staples in your current diet? 
Green smoothies, almond milk, Caroline’s Handmade Onion Dip, chocolate brownies,  grapes, bananas

Do you have a favorite cookbook?
My mother and I just completed our first draft of our own cook book entitled, “A Mother and Daughter Diary of Raw Food Recipes for Beginners” and I would have to say that this is my favorite cookbook.  I don’t like complex cooking or spending hours in the kitchen so this book helps me keep cooking delicious, healthy, simple, and fun.

Where do you see the raw food movement heading? 
My mother and I really focus on encouraging people to INTEGRATE raw foods into their diet. Like I stated before, I’m not 100% raw nor do I aim to be 100% raw. I don’t think raw foods are really mainstream yet but I think the path to getting there is showing people how easy and simple it is to eat deliciously and healthfully.

If you could leave our readers with one message about raw cooking/eating, what would it be? 
I believe that food is powerful and it has the ability to influence the way we look, feel, and behave. Food can heal us and change lives in ways that we never imagined.

RECIPE: Ginger and Fennel H2O

2 lemons, unpeeled if organic
1 fennel
1 inch piece ginger
1 small or medium bunch parsley
1 gallon water

1. Chop the lemon, fennel, and ginger in large chunks.
2. Place fruits and vegetables in a gallon size jar.
3. Pour the water in the jar.
4. Stir all the contents in the jar.
5. Place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.  Serve and enjoy

Cooking Raw airs on MPTV 10.1 HD on Saturdays at 11 a.m., and will repeat on Fridays at 6 p.m. The series also airs on MPTV 36.1 on Sundays at noon.  And, for those of you interested in watching, here's the first episode of Shenita and Caroline's show, Cooking Raw

For more information about eden's market check out the recent article on JSOnline.

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  1. It looks like I have to DVR a MPTV show! These women are amazing, and I can't wait to see what they make, thanks for introducing them to me - and for a great interview!

  2. Wow, very interesting! I'm very intrigued by the raw diet. I'll never do it totally, because I'm a baking nut, but I believe its great to incorporate different philosophies into our diets. I try to have a few raw meals a week for my son and I...thanks for the inspiration!

  3. LOVE their philosophy of integrating rather than pushing themselves to be 100% raw - or 100% anything for that matter. All of us could easily add a few more raw fruits and veggies into our diet - that's attainable! It's a great attitude for any healthy eating philosophy. It's all about balance.

  4. i went raw for about 7 months. it was interesting. i got very into the gourmet aspects of it all - bought every book and went to town. but the food can be very dense... doesn't have to be - but one needs to be mindful. nuts and seeds galore! loved the video. thanks!


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