Tuesday, June 24, 2008

David Wolfe, Superfoods, and the Best Day Ever

The following is a chapter from the book I am writing on raw foods.

“Life is generous to those who pursue their destiny.”

David Wolfe

David Wolfe may very well be the most important figure in the raw food movement. He is the rock star (drummer in the Healing Waters Band), the super food king (Sunfood Nutrition), and the creator of the Sunfood Diet Success System. David Wolfe is the best day ever on steroids. You have to like a guy who has made chocolate into a health food.

For all the hype (he claims to be the world’s leading voice on raw nutrition), the groupies (Goji Girl, etc.), the nickname (Avocado), the unusual hairstyle, the relentless promotion of products (the world’s largest distributor of anything to do with raw food), Wolfe is probably the best overall resource and inspiration when it comes to raw foods. His book The Sunfood Diet Success System is one of the most comprehensive books on raw food available. He not only covers most aspects of becoming a raw foodist, but he offers plenty of motivational material and ideas.

Wolfe gives nearly a hundred lectures a year along with raw adventure retreats throughout the world. His goal, in his own words, is “to become the greatest promoter of The Raw Food Diet in the history of the world.” He maintains at least three different web sites to do this. To his credit he seems to draw from many different raw food authorities and teachers.

While not being a Natural Hygienist, his diet tends to conform closely to its precepts. According to Wolfe in an interview on the Living and Raw Foods web site his diet is made up of 80 percent fruit, 15 percent vegetables, and 5 percent nuts. He promotes a modified fruitarian diet and the more wild food the better. He also believes in just going raw cold turkey. Wolfe quotes Stephen Arlin, “You crave whatever is in your bloodstream.” Better to get cooked food out sooner rather than later. This is easier than becoming raw slowly.


You cannot talk about David Wolfe without first talking about chocolate, or what the Aztecs called cachooatl and the Spaniards called cacao. Cacao is the bean that chocolate is made from. But it isn’t chocolate itself that raw foodists are interested in; it is the cacao bean and its amazing health properties.

The cacao nut was so important in ancient Central America it was used as money. Workers were paid in cacao. Cacao was used as standard currency in Mexico until 1887.

Magnesium is the main reason for eating cacao. According to Wolfe magnesium is the most deficient dietary mineral in America. Cacao is the major source of magnesium in nature. Magnesium is necessary for strong heart muscle, a healthy brain, muscle relaxation, bone formation, and good bowel movements.

The cacao bean is one of the best sources of antioxidants, far superior to blueberries. It also contains tryptophan in large quantities. Tryptophan is necessary for the body to produce serotonin, which is a wonderful mood enhancer. Wolfe calls cacao nature’s Prozac.

For much more on cacao, it’s benefits, uses, and recipes, I recommend reading Naked Chocolate by Wolfe and Shazzie (no last name given).


Cacao is a superfood, but not the only one that Wolfe considers important to human health. Others include fresh water algae (spirulina and blue-green algae), sea vegetables (kelp), maca, goji berries, aloe vera, bee products, hemp seed, and Incan berries.

Superfoods are special because they contain high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, enzymes, and proteins. According to Wolfe they make it easier to detoxify, maintain ideal weight, and transition to a raw food diet. They eliminate the need for food supplements. In a sense, they are food supplements.

Fresh water algae (Spirulina and Blue-Green Algae from Klamath Lake) is a concentrated source of chlorophyll, protein, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids. Algae may be the most nutrient dense food in the world. The soft cell walls make it easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Algae is also a source of B12. In one form or another, algae should be a daily addition to every diet.

Sea vegetables are basically seaweeds used as vegetables. They are neither plant nor animal and are another form of algae. Some sea vegetables are kelp, dulse, sea lettuce, nori, and wakame. Sea Vegetables are the foundation of the food chain and probably led to the formation of the first invertebrates.

The essential elements and trace minerals found in sea vegetables are important to our endocrine system and the regulation of the body’s metabolism. Sea vegetables help cleanse the intestinal tract and lymph system, stabilize blood sugar levels, purify and alkalize the blood, and inhibit cancer cell growth. They also promote healthy thyroid functioning, reduce cardiovascular problems, and have been shown to be anti-inflammatory. Powdered sea vegetables can be used replace table salt and are excellent sprinkled on salads.

Maca is a superfood that is found high in the Andes of Peru. It is a root vegetable and considered to have medicinal qualities. Maca is similar to a radish or turnip. Consumption of the maca root powder is shown to strengthen the immune system, increase energy, endurance and libido. In mice tests have shown that it reduces enlarged prostates.

The major benefits of maca are reduced risk of prostate cancer, increased stamina, improved memory, relieves stress and depression. Maca is touted as an alternative to Viagra. It also improves fertility.

Goji berries, known as wolfberry in America, are touted by David Wolfe as possibly the most nutritionally dense food on the planet. (I think he says this about a lot of fruits and vegetables.) In the Chinese system of herbal medicine Goji berries rank number one out of more than eight thousand. They have been used for healing for over two thousand years.

The goji berry is a complete source of protein, containing all eight essential amino acids. Goji berries have twice the amount of antioxidants as blueberries. According to Wolfe, goji berries are the only food known to stimulate of human growth hormone. This makes the berry “the world’s greatest anti-aging superfood.”

The Food Triangle

David Wolfe teaches that the secret to succeeding on a raw food diet and achieving high levels of health is a balance between three essential classes of food. Those classes make up the raw food triangle. Through his experiences of meeting hundreds of raw foodists and studying what works and what doesn’t he discovered a pattern.

The three essential foods are green-leafy vegetables, sweet fruits, and fatty foods. The three provide chlorophyll, sugars, and fats. Lacking any of these foods results in nutritional imbalance. In Wolfe’s travels, all successful raw foodists followed this pattern. People lacking one of these food groups always ran into trouble.

In most cases Wolfe calls for the three foods to be eaten in equal quantities. And for the best results all three food classes should be eaten every day. David personally suggests having sweet fruits as the main meal in the morning, green-leafy vegetables at lunch, and fats in the evening.

Green-leafy vegetables provide chlorophyll; chlorophyll is the blood of plants. Just like the old Popeye cartoons we get our strength from spinach (and lettuce and kale and parsley and dandelion greens and…). We get calcium, iron, magnesium, and other minerals. Greens help detoxify the liver. They alkalize our body chemistry, balancing acid-forming minerals found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and animal products.

Sugar comes to us through sweet fruits. Sugar is the fuel that runs our bodies and brains. We need fruit for energy. However, too much fruit can overstimulate the endocrine system and acidify the blood. Therefore, fruit needs to be balanced with green-leafy vegetables and fats. (This is something the natural hygiene people would disagree with.)

Wolfe warns us to avoid refined sugar, which should not come as a surprise, but he also points out that hybrid fruits (seedless) should be avoided. Seedless bananas, watermelon, grapes, oranges, etc. contain sugar that can act like processed sugar. A diet high in these fruits can lead to constipation, dehydration, and a slightly diabetic situation. This is avoided with lots of dark green-leafy vegetables and exercise.

Natural raw fats are the third part of Wolfe’s health equation. Raw plant foods such as avocados, durians, young coconuts, nuts, seeds, and oils provide essential fatty acids needed lubricate mucus linings and the body joints. They also are critical for skin and hair beauty. These plant foods also contain omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.

One benefit of having fat with fruits, or fatty fruits like avocado, is that the fat slows the release of sugar into the digestive track. This makes for a longer release time and more energy over a longer time.

Plant fats contain no cholesterol. Raw plant fats help the body access and absorb the minerals in green-leafy vegetables. They will not cause excess weight gain as cooked fats do. Plant fats insulate the nerves and counteract against environmental pollution.

Here is something that those of us new to the raw vegan diet need to understand: when you are feeling hungry and feel the need for heavy protein food, that is not what your body is asking for. At times like those it is not protein that your body wants, it’s fat. Wolfe states that plant fats are an excellent bridge from cooked foods to a raw food diet. And if you are going to be eating nuts and seeds it is best to soak them first. This removes their enzyme inhibitors, their coverings that prevent them from sprouting.

(While Wolfe recommends a diet of one third fruits, one third green-leafy vegetables, and one third fats in his book The Sunfood Diet Success System, in a recent interview he stated that his diet consists of eighty percent fruits, fifteen percent greens, and five percent fats. Go figure.)

Superfood Smoothie

The cornerstone to David Wolfe’s raw food diet, in his own personal life, is a superfood smoothie. In a number of videos and interviews he discusses his daily smoothie and how he makes it.

The following recipe is taken from an interview demonstration Wolfe gave on the Internet television show Healthy Living shown on Supreme Master Television. The smoothie begins with a base of coconut water taken from a young Thai coconut. As an alternative you could use spring water, tea, or even coffee. Along with the water of the coconut Wolfe adds the meat to the drink also.

Next comes cacao. The cacao bean is what chocolate is made from. Wolfe uses about a tablespoon of the cacao nibs, a half-tablespoon of the powder, and a half-tablespoon of the cacao butter.

Following the base of water and cacao Wolfe includes two cups of frozen berries, strawberries, raspberries and or wild blueberries. He suggests that including foods of the full spectrum of color is best because that provides all of the possible anti-oxidants. In addition to the frozen fruit acai and goji berries are used.

Wolfe then puts in a handful of cashews for fat and flavor along with superfoods maca, hemp seeds, and spirulina. And that is it—David Wolfe’s superfood smoothie. David usually has this as a late morning breakfast. He usually has a large salad at 7 pm for his other meal of the day and snacks on fruits, nuts and seeds, and juices in between.

The Best of David Wolfe

Chocolate. Superfoods. Passion. Chocolate added to a superfood smoothie is heaven. When I began adding raw cacao powder to my afternoon smoothie I simply began looking forward to them as if I were having a real milk shake treat, not a substitute. While I don’t want to overdo it with cacao, the addition of cacao to my smoothies and the raw ice cream that I make with durian (another fruit introduced to me by Wolfe) has made eating so much more enjoyable.

The addition of superfoods to my smoothies is another part of my diet that David Wolfe has changed. In the past I took supplements in the form of pills. Now I take them in the form of superfoods. A little spirulina, maca, dulse in addition to lots of green-leafy vegetables and I feel that I’ve cover all my bases.

Finally, I can’t talk about David Wolfe without talking about passion for raw food. Listening or watching him is inspiring to the point of making one get up and doing something. If raw food can make David so energetic, why can’t it do the same for me? I’ve sat through one of his four-hour lectures and he just does not want to stop. He is doing something right.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ice Cream Heaven

There are times in your life that you will never forget, like being there for the birth of your children, that first kiss on your first date, the Red Sox winning the World Series. Today was another one of those days! I MADE RAW CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM THAT TASTES BETTER THAN BEN AND JERRY'S!

You'll have to excuse me, I'm having trouble catching my breath. Do you know what this means? We will no longer be dependent on the Middle East for oil. All over America dairy farmers can sell their cows and start growing durian trees, because that is what I used instead of cream. With this kind of ice cream we all can become vegans! Durian is the perfect substitute for cream! (You can buy them in a Chinese market.) Oh my God! This ice cream is simply unbelievable. It's raw, it's vegan, and it's good for you.

Here is the recipe:

2 cups durian
2 cups raw cashews (soaked for 4 hours)
1 cup water
1 cup raw agave (or other sweetener)
1/4 cup coconut butter
2 TBS vanilla extract
2 TBS dulse
4 TBS raw cacao powder
1 vanilla bean

Put in blender, chill, and then put in ice cream maker. Or, you can skip the ice cream part and eat it like a chocolate mousse. (Note: Even with a Vita Mixer you may have to blend half at a time.) To make even more yummy add cacao nibs and/or walnut pieces.

Okay, I'm going to go and meditate right now and thank God, the Universe, and all the angels, for revealing this miracle to me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Our Daily Meds

I happened to listen to the On Point Radio Program on NPR this morning while making my fruit smoothie. If you didn't catch it, you need to hear what was said.

The program was about the
pharmaceutical industry. New York Times reporter, Melody Peterson, has written a book about it called Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves Into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs." The book title just about says it all.

Peterson described how doctors are paid to push drug company prescriptions and that the doctors are monitored, so they know if they do or not. The doctors are paid just to attend dinners and hear drug company spokesmen promote their drugs. Some doctors make more than $100,000 just from the drug companies by following their "orders." (I think there is a pun there.)

Worse yet, Peterson also told how Madison Ave. marketing firms are hired to write the medical articles that appear in journals promoting their drugs. Then doctors get paid to put their names on the articles. People, this was on NPR radio this morning, not broadcast from Russia or China. They also explained that the drug companies get away with this because they are the largest lobbying organization in Washington. (Not that long ago is was illegal to advertise like they do.)

Now you know why half the commercials on television are all about drugs that you should be asking your doctor for. It appears that there is very little unbiased medical literature written anywhere in this country. I've had my own run in with a doctor who wanted to do a biopsy when all the info that I read said not to. But, he would have made $1500 for my sitting on his table for all of 5 minutes.

So what has all this got to do with raw food? Plenty. If fact, it was my distrust of that doctor that motivated me to take my health into my own hands and since then I've changed my relationship to food. As the first doctor, Hippocrates, said: "Let food be your medicine and medicine your food."

I've fired all my doctors. And before I take another pill I'm going to make sure I'm eating the foods that my body is designed to eat. The alternative is too...well, fucked up.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Simply Raw

I went to the Newport Film Festival last night with my daughter Gina and son-in-law Steven. We went there to see Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days. The documentary is about six people with diabetes who answer an ad to come to Arizona and eat a raw food diet for a month. In the movie all of the participants experience a significant improvement in health. After being told that diabetes is incurable, they found out that by eating a raw food diet, diabetes could be cured and they were able to go off their insulin.

For me the film was inspiring. Most of the people there struggled with letting go of eating cooked foods. Even being away from home and secluded in the Tree of Life Center cravings for junk food tormented them. While temptation wasn't physically present it existed in their minds. One of the men did end up leaving even though his blood sugar went down and he lost weight. However, five of the six did overcome their doubts and weaknesses to complete the experiment and experienced life-changing differences.

As one of the young men so obviously struggled with, we all have been told in one way or another that we will always be the way we are. We can't possibly be healthy. His doctors told him he would always be on insulin. How do you get that belief out of your head when you have heard it so many times? And how do we stop eating animals and killing everything we eat with heat before we put it in our mouths when this is what we have seen for all our lives?

The affirmative answer to this question lies in the quality of our individual characters. If we have belief that change is possible we can do it. If we believe that life is stronger than death we can do it. If we believe that the Universe (God) wants us to be fully alive and healthy we can change what we put into our bodies. That is all well and good, but how do you get there?? All of us would love to have those beliefs, but they are not easy to come by. What can we do to get them?

The answer is simple: we get them from each other.

I believe that the world is made in such a way that we need each other to succeed, to live, to be healthy. It starts with thinking about others before thinking about ourselves. The surest way to help yourself heal is to learn how to heal others and in that learning you will be healed. This is one of the most important lessons I have ever learned and I need to learn it every day.

The people in the documentary who succeeded the most and had the easiest time of it were those who helped the others succeed. Do you want to be healthy? Don't do it for yourself, do it for your family, friends. Make the planet a better place to live. Share your struggles and successes with those who come into your life. Let's inspire each other. Let's inspire each other. Let's inspire each other.

(I have to say that I am very fortunate to have three children and one son-in-law who really inspire me with their wisdom, passion, and commitment to living life to the fullest.)