• an old flame: pancakes

    July 12, 2009

    There was a time when I couldn’t make it through a whole weekend without having pancakes, often twice.  And now I haven’t had them in about six months.  It has just been a natural consequence of adopting a high-raw diet; I actually wake up craving something simple and fruity, like that watermelon kiwi cooler I still can’t get enough of.

    I also love Chocolate-Covered Katie, a young vegan gal who knows her food as well as her hyphens.  She’s hosting a pancake-making bonanza (again, gotta love the punctuation as much as the pancakes), so I thought it was time to treat you to one of my all-time favorites.

    new recipe: apple pie pancakes

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  • banana pancakes and going all the way

    June 9, 2009

    A few days ago, I received a very nice email about my banana pancakes from a reader named Mindy.  I was wondering when I’d get a query about this recipe since, as you may have noticed, it’s the only non-raw one in the bunch so far.  I tried to reply to Mindy, but my email keeps bouncing back.  And since I believe everything happens for a reason, I reasoned it could only be that the universe wanted my answer to reach Mindy through this blog and, consequently, all of you.

    Here’s Mindy’s question:

    Dear Jessica,

    Your website is just beautiful. So glad I found it!!! About those pancakes… they look wonderful but I am wondering if there is a way to cook them so as not to destroy any enzymes. I just began eating 100% raw in March and am still learning what I can and can’t make and eat. What are your thoughts? Many thanks, Mindy

    Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words, Mindy.  A great question, especially as it presents a springboard for talking about transitioning to raw foods and how cooked foods can fit in.

    Food is considered raw if it has not been heated above 118F (some sources say 115F).  Heating, as you know, can destroy the digest enzymes in food, meaning that when we eat cooked food, the body has to call on its own enzyme reserves in order to facilitate digestion.  Digesting enzyme-depleted food is hard work for the body, draining our energy and re-directing it away from other bodily functions.

    Consuming food as close to its natural state as possible gives us the most access to those amazing digestive enzymes, hence the vitality-boosting power of raw food.  As I indicate in the recipe, cooking the pancakes at a low temperature (low to medium on the stove) as opposed to the traditional high-heat method helps conserve as much of the enzyme and nutrient content as possible.  But no, the pancakes aren’t raw.

    I debated whether to include the recipe, but my philosophy is that promoting an all-or-nothing approach is unrealistic.  While I think eating 100% raw is wonderful and admirable, I also realize that many people prefer to tip toe into raw foods rather than dive in, especially since it’s so easy to become discouraged if something doesn’t go to plan.  Raw is a lifestyle change on many levels, and it takes some time to get used to.  In short, I’d rather get people to add more raw and replace their usual cooked meals with healthier alternatives instead of advocating an extreme approach that can lead to giving up on one of the most life-enhancing gifts our planet has to offer.  Brendan Brazier, the plant-fuelled professional tri-athlete, has several pancake recipes in his book The Thrive Diet, and he also suggests low-temp cooking within the context of a high raw, plant-based diet.

    The other reason for including healthier cooked alternatives is that going too suddenly from years on a heavily-cooked diet to 100% raw can lead to discouraging detox symptoms that can cause you to jump the raw ship if you don’t know what’s going on.  The easiest way to slow down this natural cleansing process is to include some cooked foods.  Another way is complementary techniques such as dry brushing and colonics, which I’ll address in separate posts.  Natalia Rose talks about this in detail in her book The Raw Food Detox Diet.  I like her flexible, easy-does-it approach and encourage you to check her out if you haven’t already.  The other thing I love about her books is that there isn’t a single dehydrator recipe in them.  For me, one of the best things about raw food is how fast and simple it can be.  With that in mind, I prefer to eat a high-raw diet that includes occasional cooked foods rather than a 100% raw diet with lots of dehydrated foods.  Again, there are many solutions in between, and if you own a dehydrator I’d love to know if you decide to experiment with it and create an all-raw version of banana pancakes!

    As for my own journey, I used to be a complete pancake addict.  It wasn’t just a weekend treat for me, but a several-times-a-week indulgence I’d get up especially early for.  Funnily enough, I haven’t made pancakes at all since I began eating high raw.  I never believed it before, but cravings and habits do change; and now I wake up with luscious green smoothies on the brain.  That doesn’t mean I won’t make or eat pancakes ever again.  Which brings me to my last point…

    I firmly believe in not getting caught up in labels, and I think you’ll find that the more you explore the raw food community, the more you’ll discover a refreshing lack of judgement.  Instead, there is a profound respect for wherever you are on the raw continuum and a heavy emphasis on listening to your heart…and your belly.

    I’m really excited to welcome my fellow We Like it Raw readers and would love to hear your thoughts, so I hope you’ll put that comment box below to work with all your wonderful wisdom!

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