Purple Balance Raw Snack Bars Review

I just got sent the new raw snack bars from Purple Balance to review. Firstly, the packaging is perfect - bright and colourful, you can’t miss them in the shops:

Purple Balance Bars

For me, I’m very happy that they are sweetened with raw honey (the same top quality raw honey we sell on Funky Raw), which seems quite a rarity in ready made raw foods. This is along with dates means there is no refined sweeteners, not even coconut sugar. All the bars are great, with a wonderful moist and chewy texture.

Lemon PieThe Lemon Pie was probably my favourite. A good strong lemon flavour, great soft and chewy texture, 45g is just too small!

 

The “Wild Pecan Choco Cake” was also delicious! It was chewy with a little bit of crunch from the pecans and hazelnuts. The flavour was great, mild chocolate flavour, sweet but not too sweet.

Goji Vanilla CookieThe Goji and Vanilla Cookie was also very tasty. With 28% goji berries you can see the deep red colour of the bar. Plus the vanilla flavour comes though making this a top quality snack.

The Raspberry Cake was slightly disappointing. Same great chewy texture as the others, but the raspberry flavour was very light. I got bursts of it now and again. Although having experimented with raspberry powder myself trying to make raspberry flavoured cakes, I know how difficult it is. 5% raspberry doesn’t give much flavour compared to only 0.2% vanilla in the goji bar giving a wonderful flavour!

All in all, to be recommended. They are made in the UK, and you should be able to find them in your local health food store. If not, ask them to start stocking them. The recommended retail price is £1.89, so a bargain for taking with you as a nutritious snack, and because I like them so much, I decided to stock them at Funky Raw. We’re currently selling them by the case of 18 for £28.99, so only £1.61 per bar. Update: We are now also stocking a four pack sampler with one of each flavour so you can see for yourself which is best!

Moneyless Manifesto by Mark Boyle – Book Review

This review was first published in Issue 26 of the Funky Raw magazine.

The Moneyless Manifesto

I could make this the shortest review ever “You must read this book. Go out and buy it now.” Actually, given the subject of this book, you don’t have to buy it if you don’t want – it is available to read for free on the internet. Either way, I suppose I best tell you a bit more about it… As an introduction, on the back cover it says “That we need money to live – like it or not – is a self-evident truism. Right? Not anymore.” And to prove this, the author, Mark Boyle, lived for 2½ years completely without money. Not because he was forced to, but out of choice. He says “living without money changed my way of being. Existing outside the monetary economy enabled me to sit inside the organic flow of life and recognise the interconnected oneness; it enabled me to experience a different sense of self.”

The book is broadly in two parts, the first few chapters introduce Mark’s thoughts on money, why he thinks it is no longer working for us, how it is causing the destruction of our communities and the destruction of nature. He shows how money makes us feel like we are independent and don’t need anyone’s help, but that of course all we have done is switch our dependence from our local community to much further afield. There is also a look at alternative ways of living without money.

Then the bulk of the book covers how to live without money for various aspects of our lives, including land, food, washing, transport, education, leisure and more.

Mark is always direct and forthright with his choice of words. Not many books where you can read sentences such as “I believe that shoes are like condoms, in a way” – this is in the section where he talks about walking barefoot being the only truly sustainable form of transport – “But I believe that until we feel the earth beneath our feet again we will never learn to walk gently on Her.” While you may find many ideas in this book radical, Mark is aware of this and tries to present a range of options to suit different people.

Re-learning ancient skills is clearly important if we want to live without money. Such as how to light a fire without matches or a lighter – “the industrialised system that creates such useful little gadgets may not exist at some point in the future. Therefore learning how to create fire without them could save your life in an apocalyptic style scenario that we would all like to avoid. Likewise, if for some reason you find yourself in the middle of nowhere (like a forest) without a functioning lighter, then knowing how to utilise the natural materials at hand could be the difference between life and death. Convenience can leave us dangerously unskilled.”

While he gives as much detail as he can in this book, including recipes for natural cleaning liquids, hay fever cures, how to make compost, and more, he can’t do this for every topics as many subjects he touches on are books in themselves – I had to put the book down and search the internet to find out what a bow drill was and how to make one! (If you are wondering, it’s a simple tool which can be used to start a fire.) Throughout the book, Mark includes short sections written by experts in particular fields, including permaculture, compost, wild protein, hitch-hiking, home-schooling and more.

There is a chapter on moneyless leisure. Mark says “Reality TV is the posterboy of a culture that consumes instead of plays.” Instead of listening to music created by other people from far away, he suggests that we would be more fulfiled by creating our own music, and he gives more ideas for ways of creating our own entertainment.

This review was first published in Funky Raw issue 26.

I love this book. It is well written and engaging, I couldn’t put it down!

320 pages, £14.95 or free to read online
ISBN: 978-1-85623-101-5
Website: www.moneylessmanifesto.org

Why I added raw liver to my diet – Beyond Broccoli Book Review

This book review was first published in the Funky Raw magazine issue 23.

I was so happy to read this book, a book the raw food movement has been waiting for. Almost every book about raw food is about the raw vegan diet, with many people assuming raw food means raw vegan.

The author, Susan Schenck, was a raw vegan for 6 years and even wrote a book The Live Food Factor about the raw vegan diet, but over time she realised that the diet wasn’t working for her. A lot of research led to Susan writing Beyond Broccoli, which explains the reasons for what seems to be a common problem – people try raw veganism and feel wonderful for the first few years, before nutritional deficiencies start to show up.

For me, the fact that Susan was a vegan, and really wanted to make the vegan diet work for her is important. I feel this mirrors my experience of discovering the vegan diet and the ideals behind it, but finding it didn’t work long term for me either.

The first part of this book discusses vegetarianism. The chapter “Vegetarian Myths Dispelled” discusses the myths we are told and the real scientific answers, including “vegetarians live longer” which she shows is not true. “Vegetarian diets are more sustainable” is another myth that is proved false. It also includes a chapter on well known vegetarians who went back to eating meat.

Part two looks at the “Evolution of the Human Diet”, how agriculture changed the way humans were eating and theories that eating fish was the reason humans have larger brains.

Part three “Finding Balance in Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein” is where Susan really gets into the details of creating the right diet for you. She looks at the different metabolic types, carb, protein and mixed. She says “So some people can do well with a high-carb diet, some need a high-protein diet and other do best on mixed.”

Everyone should read chapter 11, “Falling for the Big Fat Lie”, which discusses the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, eating fat does not make you fat…

There is also a whole chapter devoted (or maybe that’s not quite the right word) to “The China Study”. This chapter contains the critiques of both Susan and other researchers. The most important observation for me is “The fact is, none of the people in the study group were 100 percent vegan!”, which means that any conclusion from that study recommending a vegan diet is not scientific and frankly absurd.

So if you get this far in the book and decide you want to add meat back into your diet, you will probably need Part four, which goes on to the subject of “Morality, Spirituality, and Sustainability of Eating Meat”.

And then Part 5 “What’s for Dinner?” ties everything together, including sections on eating a balanced diet, why we need to eat our food raw (including any meat) and the safety of raw meat. The final chapter gives more specifics on what to eat.

There is a comprehensive bibliography at the end, references for the science bits and lots and lots of further reading if wanted.

Overall, this is an excellent book, I recommend it to everyone eating or wanting to eat a raw diet as it provides balance to all the other vegan books out there. And I especially think vegans should read this book – even if they are doing fine themselves on a vegan diet – just so that they can understand the reasons that not everyone can thrive on a vegan diet.

My personal experience with this book – it convinced me it was ok to try eating raw liver, which I have done several times now and feels like a very healthy food for me.

With 260 large pages, this is a comprehensive book. Order from your local bookshop or available at Amazon. ISBN: 978-0977679522

Learning from Tribal People: Book Review

I’ve read a few really excellent books recently which I want to share with you all. I’ve just finished reading Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes by Daniel Everett. This book defies categorisation, on the back it says “Travel/Linguistics”, both of which are correct, but this book covers so much more than that. Daniel was a Christian missionary who went to try to convert an Amazonian tribe, the Pirahá, to Christianity. To do this, his first task was to learn the language and then translate the New Testament of the Bible to the Pirahá language. This might not sound too difficult, but Pirahá doesn’t have a written form, no-one else speaks it, there are no dictionaries or teach yourself courses, and the Pirahá people don’t speak any other language (apart from a few words of Portuguese). So Daniel moves, with his family, to a Pirahá village to live with these people and learn their language. (Daniel is a trained linguist so he does know how to go about the task.)

The book is in three parts: Life, Language and Conclusion.

Part 1, Life, which is the largest section of the book, is a selection of experiences, challenges and insights during Daniel’s life while living with the Pirahá people. One of the most fascinating things about the Pirahá is that they seem to live in the present moment, much more than us westerners could even imagine possible. They have a very minimal amount of personal possessions. In general, they do not store food – they go out hunting/gathering almost every day, if they don’t, they don’t eat that day (which is ok by them, a self imposed fast).

The Pirahá people will only talk about things that they themselves have experienced, or that someone else they know who is still living has experienced. This was one of the major challenges Daniel encountered when attempting to talk about Jesus – once the Pirahá realised that Daniel had never met Jesus, and that Jesus died a long long time ago, they weren’t interested!

The second part, Language, goes into much more detail about the Pirahá language. I found the first half of this interesting and easy to read, although the second half started getting much more technical and possibly only interesting to linguists. But even if you skip part of this section, it doesn’t detract from the rest of the book, and it is only a small part of the whole book.

The conclusion contains the information that convinced me to read this book in the first place – after living with the Pirahá people for many years, Daniel didn’t manage to convert a single Pirahá, and in the end Daniel stopped believing himself. To ‘save’ someone by converting them to Christianity, they would need something to be saves from, and Daniel found that the Pirahá were the happiest people he ever met, and didn’t need saving!

I highly recommend this book, there is so much to be learnt from the Pirahá people.

Yummy Scrummy Chocolate Brownie Review

Wow, this was delicious! A chocolate brownie with a chocolate topping with the perfect brownie flavour, coming from the well chose ingredients including walnuts, Brazil nuts, goji berries, raisins and dates. Plus it looks great too!

For anyone strictly raw, this product does contain Sweet Freedom which is a natural fruit based sweetener that isn’t raw, but the other 95% of the ingredients are raw.

It’s just won the Taste of the West Gold award, so another vote for how good it tastes.

For more information and to order, see the Elements for Life website.

Review of Raw Food Controversies by Frederic Patenaude

Why do some people fail on the raw food diet? That is the question that Frederic attempts to answer in his new book “Raw Food Controversies”. He does this by taking us for a ride on his journey over the last 14 years of his life, starting right back at the birth of the modern day raw food movement. The first part of this book is essentially an autobiography, with Frederic including every detail of his life (or so it seems) including his love life, how he met and became friends with David Wolfe and got to work for Natures First Law, and how he met many other famous raw food pioneers including David Klein, Juliano, David Jubb and more. If you have been involved with the raw food movement for many years, you might, like myself, find this section fascinating. If, on the other hand, you are new to the raw diet, you might, like a friend of mine, keep wondering when Frederic is going to get to the point.

This book is very refreshing in that Frederic questions the raw diet, none of the “raw is the best, raw will cure everything” some books are guilty of. Frederic experimented with various different raw diets, including animal foods, fasting even returning to cooked foods for some periods. He realised that raw diet is not simply eating all your food raw and hoping for the best, it needs careful planning.

The first few years on a raw diet left Frederic with a mouth full of cavities, which he discusses in detail, including his view on what cause the problem, and the solutions. If you read this book, I recommend you also read Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel, for a completely different view on the subject (I don’t claim to know which author is correct, but if you have problems with your teeth, it’s best to read both opinions).

Towards the end, Frederic starts to pinpoint what he considers to be the ideal raw diet, which is a low fat vegan diet, with lots of fruit. Which is great that he has found a diet that works for himself, but I don’t agree with his belief that the same diet (with minor variations) will work for everyone. One example of how we are all different is the conversion of beta-carotene into vitamin A – we all have a differing ability to make this conversion and those people where this conversion is not optimal will not thrive on a vegan diet.

Frederic recommends a diet containing 7-15% fat, saying that before Western Civilisation took over, most people ate low fat diets, but he misses the research by Weston Price who found that traditional peoples ate diets which contained between 30-80% fat.

I realise that this review is critical, I think that is because this book is written in a way that attempts to show that Frederic’s current diet is the ideal diet for everyone, which I just can’t agree with. So, by all means read this book, but do it with an open mind. It is a very good book, I enjoyed reading it, and it makes some very good points. And the diet recommended might just work for you, but there is also a good chance that it won’t.

Available direct from Frederic’s website.

This review was first published in Issue 19 of the Funky Raw magazine.

Juice in a Bar review

I was sent samples of Jason Vale’s new raw Juice Bars: Veggie Juice in a Bar and Super Fruit Juice in a Bar. I was intrigued at the idea of how they could make juice into a bar, the answer was obvious once I looked at the ingredients – the first two ingredients for both bars are dates and almond butter, so these are standard energy bars with the addition of juice. I can’t see anywhere where it says the percentage of juice compared to the base ingredients.

First I tried the Super Fruit bar – first reaction is that it is very sweet, with the dates overpowering the flavour of the juices. Overall a nice bar, although I wouldn’t buy it as it is so sweet.

Much better, the greens tempering the sweetness a little, so while still sweet, a much more balanced bar. There is a “green” flavour to this bar which some people might not like (my Dad liked it and my Mum didn’t), but it’s worth it to get the mineral rich greens. If you generally eat this kind of energy bar, then maybe switching to this one would be a good move so you get a load of nutrition from the greens and algaes into your diet. It contains a lot of good ingredients including wheatgrass, dandelion juice, kale juice, spirulina, chlorella, kelp and dulse, plus also digestive enzymes. I would be interested in what percentage of the bar the dates and almonds make up. Of course if you have the option, I would recommend a fresh green juice, preferably made with lots of wild greens, but if you don’t have that option then this is an ok substitute. But don’t go overboard, there are still a lot of dates in this bar.

Find out more and order at www.juicemaster.com

Crucina – New raw food restaurant in Madrid

We’re on our way north again, heading back to the UK for a little while. As we were passing near to Madrid we decided to take the opportunity to visit Crucina, probably Spain’s only 100% raw restaurant. Crucina is a combination of two Spanish words – the start of crude meaning raw and cocina meaning kitchen.

Crucina is centrally located in the Malasaña district of Madrid, less than 5 minutes walk from San Bernardo metro startion.

We arrived to a very warm and friendly welcome from Yorgo, one of the co-owners. The ambiance is great, smart and modern, although they do have plans to make the décor more unique and creative. The menu was of course in Spanish, they are planning to have English menus, but for now both owners speak English so they can translate anything you don’t understand. The menu is comprehensive: juices, soups, salads, starters, mains, deserts and drinks.

We started with juices – I had “Purificaverde” – Green Purification with spinach, cucumber, celery and lemon, very refreshing although a little bland (I’m used to much stronger wild green juices!). Jolita had “Anticolesterol” with carrot, ginger, apple and parsley, which was delicious. (We shared all our food, so got to taste twice as much!)

For starters, I had the “Trio de Tartletas”, three little savory tarts, each with a different filling. The ‘pastry’ casing was unfortunately a bit too hard, almost rock solid and I couldn’t eat it, although the fillings were really delicious. Jolita had the “Tabla de Kesos”, the cheese plate. In Spanish, cheese is spelled Queso, so the alternative spelling Keso is to denote vegan cheese! Two different nut based cheeses, some raw jam, and at least 4 types of raw crackers, it was all delicious.

Trio de Tarteletas Cheese Plate

MoussakaI always used to love Moussaka when I ate cooked food, so when I saw it first on the menu, I just had to have it. After reading further it was a toss up between that and the Saag Hindu, but Jolita chose that so all was well. It turns out that Yorgo is originally from Greece, and he wants to include more Greek dishes in the future.

The moussaka was great – aubergine is not always the best thing raw, but they suceeded by cutting it very thinly and dehydrating – it was a bit chewy but good. The ‘meat’ was tasty and the ‘cheese’ and tomato sauces were delicious, overall a great dish, just slightly too salty for me (I don’t usually add salt to my food, so I’m quite sensitive  to too much salt).

Saag HinduSaag Hindu was a spicy Indian dish made with spinach and ‘mango chutney’ (more a mango sauce than chutney) which was served with some spicy coconut based breads. This again was delicious, the spicyness was just right, tasted like food from an Indian restaurant!

I was getting a bit full by now, but the deserts sounded too tempting to pass over. We ordered the tiramisu and the “Pudin de Chia”. The chia pudding was good, but a little bland, although the strawberries and banana it was served with did go well with it.

The tiramisu was amazing! Excellent textures and flavours, definitely among the best raw deserts I have ever eaten.

Chia Pudding Tiramisu

In conclusion, if you are anywhere near Madrid this is well worth a visit. And their plan is to open another restaurant in Barcelona later in the year, so keep listening out for news of that.

Crucina, Divino Pastor, 30, Madrid. Tel: 914453364. Opening hours: Tues – Wed: 13:30 – 16:00, Thurs – Sat: 13:30 – 16:00 and 21:00-24:00, Sun: 13:30 – 16:00

Wild Fermentation by Sandor Elix Katz – Book Review

This review was first published in Funky Raw issue 17, but I have been making more recipes from it since then so have added a bit of an update at the end.

The article on Wild Fermentation in the last issue of the Funky Raw magazine intrigued me so I went out and bought myself a copy of this book as recommended. I’ve recently been increasing the amount of fermented foods in my diet, both home made and store bought, so I thought it would be good to learn how to make more fermented foods for myself.

This book is very easy to read and much of what Sandor says resonates with me. The first few chapters set the scene, showing how past cultures used fermented foods and how things have changed with commercialisation and mass production of food in recent years.

I really like the fact that Sandor has written this book in a conversational style, and isn’t afraid to occasionally go off at a tangent, such as the time he went to harvest seaweed at 4am(!), plus interesting asides about life in the community where he lives.

Sandor has been learning about fermented foods for the last 10 years and the level of research which has gone into this book is astounding, it is well referenced and has a large bibliography so you can keep learning.

The book covers a wide range of fermented foods, some of which won’t be of interest if you are a strict raw fooder, but there are enough raw (or live) recipes to make this book worth while. Recipe chapters include vegetable ferments (sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles), bean ferments (miso, tamari, tempeh), dairy ferments (yogurt, kefir, cheese, vegan alternatives), bread, porridge, wines, beers and vinegars.

Each recipe is clearly laid out with detailed instructions, plus also ideas for making your own variations. Sandor keeps telling us how easy it is to make fermented foods – explaining how humans have been fermenting for thousands of years without any modern technology or shops to buy yeasts from, fermenting using wild yeasts and bacteria which is in the air all around us.

I thoroughly recommend this book, but if this review hasn’t convinced you, read the extract (printed in the Funky Raw magazine).

188 pages. Published by Chelsea Green. ISBN 978-1931498234. www.wildfermentation.com

Updated comments, Feb 16th

The first recipe I tried from this book was mead, a very simple ferment using just honey and water. It can be quite strongly alcoholic, but I only fermented it for two weeks to make a milder drink. It worked really well and was delicious.

As you saw in my last post Making Cheese, I also made one of the cheese recipes, which worked really well and I’ve been making it regularly for several weeks, now I’m looking forward to experimenting more with cheese.

One point I forgot to mention in the original review is the word “wild” in the title – this is in reference to wild yeasts and bacteria – many fermentation recipes call for adding shop bought yeasts or bacteria, whereas Sandor likes to rely on the wild versions in the air all round us, which makes for more authentic ferments.

The more I read, the more I love this book. It’s inspirational and the more I make and eat fermented foods, the more I want to learn and experiment. My next project from this book will be Kimchi… I recommend you go out and buy this book right now!

Raw Chocolate Easter Eggs

Raw Chocolate Easter Eggs

I just got sent a box of raw chocolate Easter eggs from Rawr Chocolate. They came in a cute little egg box made from 100% recycled card, although of course I was more interested in what was inside the box…

On opening the box I found  four eggs wrapped in coloured foil.

There were three flavours of egg, orange zest, after dinner mint and dark purity. All three were delicious, although the mint was my favourite, with a strong cool and refreshing mint flavour. The orange was good but too subtle a flavour for my liking, if I was making it I would have added a bit more orange oil or zest! The dark chocolate ones were great too, with cruncy cacao nibs.

They cost £7.95 for a box of four which includes free delivery and you can choose any combination of flavours. The eggs are solid chocolate and weigh 70g each – that’s a lot of chocolate so try not to eat it all at once (unlike me!). You can order direct from Rawr here.

Raw Easter Egg