OK In Health - Raw Food Column

Staying Raw During the Holiday Season - December 2016

There are plenty of opportunities to get “cooked” over the holidays

By Sandra Butler

christmas oranges

Christmas is just around the corner.  I was just reminiscing about last Christmas and how many parties I was privileged to be invited to.  I accepted some of the invitations even though I knew that there were not going to be a lot of like-minded raw foodies present at the party.  It was necessary to attend one party in particular because it was being sponsored by the automotive dealership where my husband is employed as a shuttle car driver.  As this was his first Christmas celebration since going to work for this company, it was imperative to him that he attend and show his social side to his new co-workers.  Naturally, I wanted to be at his side.   I have to admit I was not looking forward to it. 

It was the first party of the season and I knew that I personally had to set a precedent for myself regarding how I was going to participate around the food table at this party and at the future parties of the season.  I asked my husband to inquire if I could bring something to the table.  The social committee said no thanks; it was all taken care of.  I persisted as I wanted to ensure that I had something to nibble on at the party.  Sure enough, when we arrived the table was laden with all the “usual” party fare.  There were white buns, plates of sliced ham and processed meats, veggies (great:) and dairy-based dips, as well as butter tarts and fancy white flour based cakes decorated with food colour based icings.  I was so happy that I had persisted in adding to the fare. 

I filled my plate with raw food stuffed mushrooms, veggie sticks, sunflower pate and a couple of goji balls and a raw food chocolate truffle as well as a couple of pieces of pineapple from the small fruit platter that was hidden amongst the sugary treats.   I treated myself to a glass of wine and then began making my way through the crowd of people to mingle and munch.  As I was chatting with others I noticed several of them eyeing my appealing plate of goodies.  It wasn’t very long when I returned to the food table to indulge in another stuffed mushroom.  You guessed it, all 2 dozen had disappeared and the pate was almost gone as well.  I was happy I had taken a plate of food before mingling. 

There are many opportunities to get “cooked” over the holidays – not just at office parties, but at family gatherings and at open houses organized by friends.  Since this time of year is a time for celebration, giving and appreciation, I see it as an opportunity to grow stronger in my convictions and celebrate them.  I celebrate my personal path to health and allow others to celebrate as they choose.   

If at all possible I bring a raw food contribution to every dinner table.  This way I have something that I can enjoy.  I also eat something before I attend the gathering so I am not tempted to indulge in something that I will later regret. 

One thing I have learned over the years that I have been engaged in a primarily raw food lifestyle is that the less I say about raw food at the gatherings the happier I am and so is everyone around me.  It’s natural for people to question and even make fun of what is different or unusual.  I found that people are as protective and dedicated to their diet choices as they are to their politics or religion.  On the other hand, if some of my friends and family are open to hearing what I have to say about my wacky health choices, I am always prepared to share and if I have brought an attractive and tasty addition to the food table, it can quickly become a really positive experience for everyone present. 

The fun thing about raw food this time of year is that there are countless recipes to experiment with from very simple to very complicated.   And, they all look so alive and colourful.  Here are some simple ideas that will fit any dinner table:


Easy Raw Food Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 cups cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Green onions
  • Ground Pepper
  • Sprinkle Nutritional yeast

Place cashews (can be soaked for a couple of hours, first), cauliflower, olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and garlic.  Blend until the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Fold in chopped onions.  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.  Can be heated in the dehydrator at 145 degrees for 1 hour.


Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 1 ½ cups pecans (previously soaked and dried)
  • 4 cups peeled, chopped sweet potatoes or yams
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup dates, soaked for 20minutes
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup honey

Place ½ cup of the pecans and all of the sweet potatoes, water, dates, cinnamon, and vanilla in a food processor and puree.  Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining pecans with the salt and honey and toss.  Scatter the pecan topping over the casserole.


Fennel Salad with Oranges and Pomegranate Seeds

  • 2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed
    Juice of 1 lemon
    4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    4 large blood oranges, peeled and segmented (or mandarin oranges)
    1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
    Salt and pepper
    1/2 cup ground pinenuts or macadamia nuts (optional – grind in food processor to resemble feta-like pieces of “cheese”).

Use a mandolin or sharp knife to slice the fennel as thin as possible. Place the fennel slices in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and olive oil. Add the blood orange segments and pomegranate seeds, season to taste with salt and pepper; and toss gently to mix.

Enjoy the season, Merry Christmas and I look forward to connecting with you next year! 


Sandra ButlerSandra's Bio: I was a sickly child, almost entirely bed ridden for two years of my childhood. I was always weak and contacted colds and flu frequently which weakened my immune system. As an adult, I was anemic, had high blood pressure, and was underweight and chronically ill. Then, as I grew older, I developed the first signs of osteopenia and also began to gain weight – something I had no idea how to handle. I was getting older but not healthier. I began seeking new ways to lower my blood pressure, cholesterol and gradual weight gain that had crept up over the years. Respecting my body as the temple of the mind and soul, the gateway to the Spirit self, I sought a new approach to inspired health! Fortunately, a few years ago I was blessed with a friend who introduced me to a raw food lifestyle. Because I have always been interested in nutrition, raw food preparation inspired and excited me and I began experimenting with some delightful recipes. It was awesome! The results were immediate! The weight began to release and the blood pressure came down, arthritic symptoms disappeared and my energy levels rose. When the opportunity came for me to complete my “Raw Food Chef certification”, I jumped at the chance. Then I began to teach classes in a quest to share my new knowledge with others. I realized along the way that I wanted to become more enlightened about nutrition, so back to school I went to become a registered holistic nutritionist (RHN). Today, I continue in service to others, offering personal counseling, traditional, transitional and raw food preparation classes. I also organize and conduct special group events. I specialize in detoxification and cleansing for optimum health and in developing menu plans that suit each individual’s health concern. I am an avid gardener, practicing environmentalist, prolific reader and follower of all health related issues. I practice spiritual principles that go hand in hand, creating my optimum health. - Sandra Butler Website - Email

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