February 26, 2010

Raw-food proponent wants to turn you on to 'uncooking'

Following Tourles

— Stephanie Tourles has a message for folks seeking a youthful glow: Eat more enzymes.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Her message may sound scientific, but Tourles is really urging people to do something that couldn't be simpler, which is to eat more raw foods.

A licensed holistic esthetician who lives in Orland, Tourles is the author of nine books, including ''Organic Body Care Recipes'' and the hot-off-the-press ''Raw Energy.'' Her latest book features 124 recipes for raw food snacks, such as banana-chocolate chip frozen fruit cream, pecan pick-me-up bites and coco-walnut fudgy brownies. Tonight, she'll provide a demonstration of raw food prep and offer samples at Whole Foods in Portland.

''There is a big beauty benefit to eating a diet high in whole, raw foods,'' Tourles said.

This occurs, she explained, because raw foods contain live enzymes. These protein molecules aid in digestion, and help the body absorb nutrients and expel toxins. Cooked food -- anything heated above 120 degrees -- loses these enzymes and requires the body to produce more digestive enzymes to compensate.

When her clients begin eating more raw foods, Tourles notes that their skin ages more slowly, looks more radiant, maintains better tone and heals more quickly.

''If you eat this way for five or six months, you'll be surprised by your health,'' Tourles said.

But by ''eat this way,'' Tourles doesn't mean we all should adopt a 100 percent raw food diet. Instead, the key is increasing the overall percentage of raw food that we consume. For instance, Tourles eats about 50 to 60 percent raw foods at this time of year and ups it to 80 or 90 percent in the summer, with much of that food coming from her own organic garden.

Her seasonal dietary change reflects Maine's climate, where a hot soup can really hit the spot when the mercury plunges below freezing. Tourles, who just returned from the West Coast leg of her book tour, has seen firsthand how popular raw foods have become in places such as California and Florida. She attributes much of this to warm weather and the year-round abundance of fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

However, eating raw doesn't have to be confined to plant foods. While all the recipes in ''Raw Energy'' are either vegetarian or vegan, Tourles also enjoys animal foods, such as raw goat's milk and raw scallops marinated in lime juice and Bragg Liquid Aminos.

But if you're not ready for raw seafood, there's an easier route to take.

''All you have to start doing is eating a peach or an apple a day,'' Tourles said. ''Then move up to the raw fudges or the veggie chips.''

Her book highlights snacks, which can provide between-meal energy boosts or serve as stand-ins for more traditional meals. She felt snack foods would provide an accessible introduction to raw foods for people new to this style of eating.

Tourles says she decided to write this book after working with a number of mothers, observing what their children ate and researching child health. What she found is that the top two issues among the moms and kids she worked with is fatigue and a lack of energy.

She also discovered that most children eat a primarily processed food diet.

''The quantity of nutritious food kids are eating is just minimal these days,'' Tourles said. ''Their meals have gone the way of microwave meals, fast-food meals and sugary cereals.''

Numerous studies have shown that subsisting on processed foods is a surefire recipe for lifelong health problems. The good news is that Tourles' book provides a tasty cure. By following Tourles' recipes, we can toss the Fig Newtons in favor of her fig Waltons and ditch the Fruit Loops in favor of her mighty Maine blueberry muesli.

Because, as Tourles likes to say: ''If you want to attract and create health, beauty and energy into your life, you have to take control of what you're eating.''

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

akamila@pressherald.com

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