Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Beauty of Raw

"Eat your vegetables". 

Yes, that was my Mom's mantra when I was growing up. It was a mantra I almost never heeded. I hated vegetables. But after beginning my yoga journey, I began to appreciate vegetables more and more. My body was actually looking for it.

But here's the thing. In many readings, I learned that COOKING vegetables actually makes us lose a lot of the nutrients that we could have ingested because either these are destroyed by heat during cooking or these leak out into the water/oil we cook the veggies in.

It’s no wonder then that more and more people seeking a healthier lifestyle are now advocating consuming foods RAW. But why raw????

Raw and living foods (plant-based) preserve the enzymes, proteins, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients of whole foods in their natural state. Bottomline, you absorb 100% of the nutrients in the food, not just about 20%, which is what’s left after cooking food the conventional way.

And raw need not be bland and yuck-tasting, according to raw food chef Mona Lisa Neuboeck who spoke to a group of us at Sugarleaf Makati recently.

Who is Mona Lisa Neuboeck?

Mona Lisa’s background is quite interesting. She was born in Seattle, Washington but was raised in Salzburg, a small city in Austria. Her father was an Austrian butcher coming from a long line of Innsbruck butchers. She had the chance to do many things including modeling, attending culinary academy in Austria, as well as getting involved in theater costume design school.

 In her modeling career, she said she went through yoyo diets that not only made her weight seesaw but also left her always hungry and craving for popular foods. It took her years of experimenting with countless diets before coming to the conclusion that eating raw foods was the simplest, healthiest, most satisfying way to detox the body, gain/maintain a slim figure, get glowing healthy skin and significantly reduce one’s carbon footprint as well. Not only did her hunger pangs and cravings cease but eating raw foods had a balancing effect on her emotions as well. Now a Certified Raw Food Chef , Mona provides vegetarian/vegan/raw food consultancy services.

Here are some things I learned from Mona:

• There are around 500,000 different types of enzymes. The more enzymes you take in, the more life force you have.

• When you don’t take in enough enzymes to digest the food, the liver will use your own body enzymes to do the digesting. For example, we think we need protein but what our body needs is the amino acids broken down by the enzymes. Mona says that despite being vegan she is not protein-deficient because her protein is found in broccoli which has more protein per calorie.

• Her raw food diet brought incredible energy and endurance for her activities that include surfing and yoga. The enzymes she took in did not waste her own body’s enzymes.

• Raw food is not an anti-aging diet but “youthening diet”, in Mona’s words. “It makes you younger”, she says.

• The first 2 weeks to a month, you may feel like giving up on the vegan diet because you may break out in zits, feel lethargic, want to rest all day, etc. It’s because the body is going through a detox process. She says once you’re over that hump, you will then feel more energized.

Mona introduced us to several different food items that were ALL RAW. Check these out.


This smoothie does not only contain grapefruit. It also has apples, lemon, bananas (high in electrolytes) and ginger (for an extra kick). Some cayenne pepper is also added in. She likes to use saba type of bananas instead of lakatan. Lots of ice makes the smoothie slushy.

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