A new health food company called Kids Gone Raw began with a psychic’s cryptic comment.
Maggie Knowles, of Raymond, had recently experienced the death of a close relative. Seeking solace and closure, she visited with a psychic who told her: “Your uncle is really proud of the book you’re going to write.”
Being a writer Knowles was intrigued and asked if the book was a collection of the columns she used to write for the Portland Daily Sun.
“It’s a book about health and food,” the psychic replied.
Sensing an opportunity, Knowles quickly contacted her friend Elizabeth Fraser, who runs the Girl Gone Raw cooking school in Portland. Over lunch at Local Sprouts Cooperative Cafe, the two came up with the idea of a raw foods cookbook filled with kid-friendly recipes.
The book is now written and the pair is in the process of determining which publisher they want to work with.
“We have to make sure the publisher matches our mission,” Knowles said.
In the meantime, the two are busy creating a line of raw vegan foods for children, making appearances at events and teaching classes.
On July 19, Fraser and Knowles will be giving a hands-on demonstration of how to make kid-friendly raw treats at the Children’s Museum of Maine in Portland.
“Raw foods are great for kids because they’re so naturally attracted to the colors,” Knowles said. “Part of our mission is to get kids back to the real foods they’re attracted to. Raw food is the best food for the planet and it’s the most natural way to eat. We’re not trying to get kids to go all raw. But even if kids eat one raw meal a day that will make a difference.”
Currently, the Kids Gone Raw product line-up includes four varieties of kale chips (almond butter, coconut curry, Tex Mex and sour cream and onion), Cinnamon Crunch gRAWnola, Cinnamon Banana RAWkin’ Rolls and chocolate coconut cake pops. The kale chips will retail for around $3, the fruit rolls for around $1 and the pricing is still being worked out on the granola and the cake pops. In the next month or so, these products should be available in select local markets and health food stores.
Fraser and Knowles have a dedicated group of foodie kids who test all the recipes. These pint-sized testers include Knowles’ son, Vain Podhouse, and Fraser’s niece, Avery Fraser, and nephew, Arlie Fraser.
In the near future, the Kids Gone Raw team plans to release an e-book called “Smoothies Gone Raw.” The book will offer recipes for fruit, green and dessert smoothies.
“Smoothies are the easiest place for people to start,” Fraser said.
Indeed, when I show up in the cooking school kitchen at Fraser’s home on Munjoy Hill, the first thing they do is whip up a green smoothie made with cucumbers (which Knowles points our “are great for re-hydrating your body”), fresh pineapple mint, fresh spearmint, a pint of fresh strawberries (stems and all), handfuls of chopped kale, the inside of one vanilla bean and a fair amount of water. The resulting smoothie tastes like the essence of summer itself – slightly sweet but cooling with a pleasing astringent finish.
“Drinking greens is a great way to eat them because it is kind of pre-digested” by the blender, Knowles said. “A green smoothie gives you access to all the vitamins and minerals.”
If any little ones had been sharing our smoothie, Knowles said she would have added a banana.
“With kids if you’re trying to do greens, the banana is a good masker of flavor,” Knowles said.
After the smoothies were handed out, Fraser announced: “We’re going to make a watermelon cake.”
Taking seedless watermelon slices, Fraser used a circular metal cookie cutter to create round pieces of watermelon.
“You can make them whatever shape you want,” Fraser said. “You can use any cookie cutter. We love having all the leftover watermelon pieces because we juice them, rinds and all.”
Then she and Knowles stacked the slices and decorated them with strawberries, bananas and whole berries. The pair has also decorated watermelon cakes with slices of kiwis, mangos and avocados and springs of fresh mint and basil.
“Kids love making them, so you can prep the fruit and let them decorate,” Fraser said. “If you have a bunch of boys and they’re not into decorating cakes, you can have them make trucks or boats.”
With the watermelon cake ready to go, the three of us sat down to enjoy a raw, kid-friendly breakfast.
In addition to the smoothies and the watermelon cake, we also dug into Frutti Patootie Pancakes made in a dehydrator from a mixture of bananas, peaches, pecans and agave nectar and topped with a berry sauce.
“They can be ready in five to six hours, which is quick for raw food,” Fraser joked.
Next we enjoyed raw energy bars and finished up the meal with banana ice cream dipped in chocolate. We all had clean plates.
“Kids are our future,” Knowles said, as we began clearing the dishes. “We need to inspire kids to take care of their own health. Kids are so creative and excitable and curious when they’re young. When kids come in contact with this food they’re so excited.”
And, according to Knowles, eating a diet rich in raw foods can pay off at the doctor’s office.
“Every year, my pediatrician looks at me and says, ‘I’ve never seen a kid this healthy,’ ” Knowles said. “It comes down to fresh air and good food.”
Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]