Karen Ranzi has been a leading expert in the field of nutrition and child development for over fifteen years. She is an author, lecturer, and raw food consultant. Just home from a recent book tour, Karen answered a few questions for us.
1. Raw food skeptics are often quick to doubt that a child can thrive on a raw diet. Can you briefly address this common concern?
It’s interesting that so many adults are today interested in the raw food lifestyle for themselves but continue to feel that their children cannot thrive on a raw vegan diet. One of the main concerns is protein. However, animal protein places a tremendous stress on the liver and kidneys, causing arachadonic acid to be formed in the liver which causes inflammation. These protein foods have been implicated in the cause of numerous diseases known to humans.
There is plenty of protein in the plant kingdom. All fruits and vegetables contain different amounts of protein. The green leafy vegetables and sprouts are excellent sources of protein for growing children. Nuts and seeds are a good fat source but also have some quality protein. I especially recommend pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds for growing children.
2. Are there a handful of raw foods that you can recommend for parents who are ready to experiment with diet in an effort to address childhood behavior or illness?
When we are talking about healing childhood illness and behavioral issues, we want to move away from the foods known to cause these problems, especially meat and dairy, wheat and glutinous grains, eggs, and processed and refined foods.
The processed foods often contain MSG (monosodium glutamate) and/or aspartame, which are excitotoxins, often resulting in erratic behavior and hyperactivity.
It’s often more important what is taken out of the child’s diet. When these harmful food groups are eliminated, many of the childhood illnesses and behavioral problems are eradicated.
Then by adding an increasing amount of fresh fruits and vegetables to the diet, digestion improves and childhood behavior or illness can be healed. The high water content and fiber of these foods are like a vacuum, cleansing the intestines and providing the nutrient density the body has been craving. Most children in today’s society have an aversion to the important mineral-rich green leafy vegetables.The best way to get these foods into the daily diet is to create delicious green smoothies.
Children love fruit and mild greens, such as spinach and Romaine; these can immediately be incorporated into the smoothies. When I speak for colleges, universities and schools, I bring my Vita-mix blender and create a tasty Pina Colada Green Smoothie for the students. I bring small paper dixie cups and ask the students to try a sip. I’ve had so many students love these green smoothies and follow up by using them as their morning meal. Students tell me they think more clearly, study better and have way more energy since substituting the green smoothie for an unhealthy meal loaded with animal products and processed, packaged food.
3. Do you have any tips on how to approach grocery shopping for healthy, kid-friendly foods?
My main tip for grocery shopping is to emphasize the produce department. Ask your kids to select a fruit and vegetable for every color of the rainbow. That’s how they’ll be getting all the different nutrients from the variety of raw living plant foods.
I would also recommend playing a game we called “Supermarket Sleuths.” We brought a dictionary and toxic additive definitions to the supermarket with us. We looked at the ingredients of many packaged foods and found that they contained all sorts of hidden labelling.
Terms like hydrolized vegetable protein, yeast extract, natural spices and other terms were really MSG, monosodium glutamate, an excitotoxin that can be the cause of many neurological disturbances.
Keep kids informed by setting an example. When you eat the healthful, nutrient dense fruits and vegetables, your kids will automatically understand that these are the foods meant for us. Hang up beautiful fruit and vegetable pictures in your kitchen and have these gorgeous foods out in bowls and baskets on the table, always available when the children are hungry. When eating a high amount of fruits and vegetables, the taste buds gradually change and fall in love with them. Then when you go shopping, the kids will be most attracted to the colorful and tasty delicious foods that nurture our bodies. Our food is either nourishing or becomes an anti-nutrient.
4. Can you recommend a few raw foods that even most picky kids will eat?
Even most picky eaters like some of the fruits. Fruit is sweet and kids are naturally attracted to them. I am a speech pathologist working with autistic children. These children are often the pickiest eaters, some eating only foods such as chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Over a short time of exposing these children to fruits and vegetables, many of them are now eating a variety of fruits in a fruit salad and fruits and green leafy vegetables in green smoothies. My Pina Colada Green Smoothie, with pineapple, banana, spinach and water is very tasty and kids seem to love it.
This is a good place to start, and then later creating delicious dips so that kids will eat their veggies. A nice dip could be a guacamole served with veggie slices. A mashed avocado, finely diced tomato, lemon juice, and whatever herb the child enjoys will be a fun way to eat the sliced celery, red pepper, carrots and cucumber. To learn much more, go to:
Thank you Karen for sharing your raw food parenting wisdom
Author, lecturer and raw food consultant, Karen Ranzi, authored Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods. She has been interviewed on numerous TV and radio shows on the topics of the vegan and raw food lifestyle, and vegetarian and raw food parenting as well as attachment parenting, and on talk shows of the Gary Null Progressive Radio Network. Karen appeared as one of 40 raw food leaders on host Steven Prussack’s RAWpalooza Raw Food World Summit in January 2012 and again in April 2012 on Interviews with the Raw Food Masters. She was a featured speaker on the “Conscious Foods Summit” broadcast worldwide in February 2012.
Eighteen years ago, Karen was able to heal her son from asthma, chronic ear infections and multiple allergies, and herself from digestive and skin problems through dietary and lifestyle changes. By means of her education, life-changing personal experiences, and sincere desire to share her message, Karen has been able to guide thousands toward developing excellent health.
Connect with Karen
If you are looking for help in creating health, Karen’s coaching and classes provide you with the support for success. You may choose in-person, phone or email consultations. Each person has their own lifestyle background. Karen is able to individualize your needs and assist you from whatever dietary and lifestyle path you have been following. If you would like Karen to speak for your group or to schedule a private consultation or class, please email her at email@example.com or call (201) 934-6778.
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