Monday, June 11, 2007

The Raw Food Cookbook

Alive ‘N Raw
Elyse Nuff brings her uncooked message to the Okanagan

By Greg Fjetland

She hasn’t had a cooked meal in years, and Elyse Nuff says she feels great. The 60-year old woman is a passionate advocate for eating raw, uncooked meals. After a close encounter with a potentially fatal liver disease, she began searching, not for sources of illness but of wellness. Her journey has led her to challenge one of our modern customs, so prevalent as to be invisible: cooked food.
“Cooked foods are a poison to the body,” says Elyse flatly. “You are born with a warehouse of enzymes and you have to replace them with natural enzymes.” Cooking destroys the temperature-sensitive enzymes. The result is the onset of what our medical system views as age-related diseases, but which Elyse sees as a result of enzyme depletion. She presents herself as living proof; since abandoning cooked foods and eating strictly uncooked and organic foods, her health, energy and stamina have soared.
Though her face glows as she describes preparing raw foods and its nutritional benefits, Elyse Nuff is no starry-eyed dreamer. She’s a hard-edged, keen-eyed former newspaperwoman, realtor and alderman. She sat on the board of a regional district. Her political experience is apparent. She speaks her mind emphatically. “I’ll come after you if you misquote me,” she says to this reporter convincingly. Her skepticism stems from her experiences in running two newspapers, and recognition that many will dismiss her notion of a diet of raw foods as extremism and lacking in scientific basis or necessity.
Elyse now finds herself with an unexpected mission: to spread the word of the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables. “Turn away from the stove to the refrigerator,” she says. She says she’s in vanguard of people who recognize the benefits of raw eating. She describes her occupation as health consultant. ‘I’m not a doctor, “ she notes. But more scientific research, she says, is backing up her viewpoint, and more people are choosing to eat uncooked foods.
She attributes the prevalence of chronic illness in our society to diet. “People have to become aware of what they’re eating,” she says. “Sooner or later they have to bite the bullet and take responsibility for their own health.” The consequence is ill health. “Pretty soon your body will lay you flat. That get your attention but by then you’re verging on a chronic or major illness.”
Elyse’s ardor and passion stems from her deeply held belief that this suffering is totally unnecessary. She holds without doubt that our food system is designed to maximize profit, not health. Elyse is convinced that given organic raw fruits and vegetables the body will heal itself, from aches and pains, even cancer.
Despite the skepticism her message meets with, Elyse welcomes the challenge because of the very tangible benefits. “Sure it’s a huge change,” she admits. “We change our habits very reluctantly.” The trick is to start small and make incremental changes. As the benefits become apparent, people will abandon cooked foods. “You have to be determined to be the best you can be,” she says. “You have to be determined to be well.”
A raw food diet should be a convenience, she says, not a hindrance. It saves time because you no longer have to stand at the stove and then scrub pots afterwards. It saves money, because cooked food, especially purchased prepared food, is expensive. She rarely shops. A local organic farmer delivers her fruits and veggies to her door.
Elyse is accompanied on her road to wellness by her husband Eldon. Though also committed to a raw food diet as well, he does admit to backsliding and eating cooked foods once in a while. For breakfast the couple might enjoy fresh juice and fruit salad, for lunch soup and crackers, and for supper, tossed green salad, sprouted grains and stuffed red peppers.
To help people change their eating habits, Elyse has written, designed and published a recipe book. “Alive ‘n Raw….As Nature Intended” contains information about raw food and recipes. The book serves as an introduction to the raw food approach and philosophy. “It’s for the greenhorn,” she says. “I’ve put my experiences into this guide for people without them having to poke around in the dark.” The recipes are simple, straightforward, surprisingly varied and tasty. The flaxseed crackers are excellent. Recipes range from salads and dressings to entrees and dessert. Elyse is currently presenting her recipe book at book-signings throughout the valley, scheduled for Nature’s Fair on March 1st and Chapters on March 8th.

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