Eating organic – Yoga entrepreneur keeps it raw
Taylor Wells, 45, eats only raw vegan food. The younger of her five children, Phoenix, 4, and 14-month-old twins Dakota and Montana, who are still nursing, have never eaten cooked foods in their young lives.
For skeptics, Taylor, Phillipe and kids stand out on the urban streets only for being enviably fit and attractive. No anemic, sandaled vegan cliches here; Taylor is powerful, petite with shiny blond hair and a gleaming smile; Phillipe has a square jaw and steely arms. They drive the kids to softball in a green mini-van, have roomfuls of plastic toys for all the kids, and wink at 13-year-old Madison’s occasional Starbucks frappuccino with friends.
Taylor and Phillipe own and operate PranaYoga in Newton, Winchester, Cambridge, Union Square, New York and Brooklyn, N.Y. They also own the raw food Prana Restaurant in Newton Corner. This is a family and a lifestyle industry all powered on raw foods.
Taylor looks around at the marble counters, high ceilings and creamy white custom cabinets of her enormous white Queen Anne-style house off of Newton Corner, and says, “I love this place; when I first walked in here I thought, ‘Oh, this is my kitchen …” but points to the two wall ovens and professional gas range, and adds, “which is kind of funny.” She never uses most of it.
Still, I was there at noon one day, and the long dining room table burgeoned with lunch for the whole family except Madison, who was at school (the younger kids are home-schooled): buckwheat granola, young coconut smoothies, an enormous salad with marinated portobello mushrooms, buttery lettuces and an array of seaweeds, almond butter, Essene bread, Wild Jungle peanut butter, raisins, sliced apples and carrots, avocados, dried mangoes — my word count is too short for more.
Taylor and Phillipe, like other raw food advocates, believe that high temperatures destroy most of a foods’ nutrients, particularly enzymes; eating raw provides a body with the complete “life force” a food contains in its natural state.
It’s not about taking away, Taylor emphasizes again and again, it’s about adding nutrition to your life. Good, fresh organic food is powerful. It was Hippocrates, Taylor reminds, who said, “Let food be the medicine.”
Raw food is just one leg for Taylor and Phillippe of a tripod for living: Yoga, and what Taylor describes as “deliberate creation,” or the power of words to transform one’s life, hold up the rest of the stool. “Watch your words,” Taylor has scolded me lightly, “words are powerful.”
“But what exactly is the goal of a raw food diet?” I pressed Taylor recently.
“We don’t believe in diets,” she answered right away. “The goal is to feel better, to have more energy, more creativity, more focus. Eating as many ‘high vibration’ foods as possible can do this.”
“High vibration foods,” from what I have culled on the Web, seem to be fresh, raw, organic foods in general.
“Superfoods” top the high vibration list, and make their way into the Wells’ family diet from burgers to ice cream, with smoothies, puddings, and salads in between. Avocado, raw cacao, and young coconut are their superfood foundations: Avocados for their rich omega-3s and “good fats.” Raw cacao, without the sugar and dairy, is a gold mine of magnesium and minerals. Coconut products contain lauric acid, which seems to reduce the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, potentially beneficial in terms of heart disease, specifically coronary disease.
Young coconut meat is soft and a little slimy, as opposed to the older dry coconut most of us recognize. Young coconut is often found in Asian markets, but I’ve found it tucked in a corner of the produce section of the grocery store. It’s not dark brown and round, like what we think of in a coconut, but a blond color, and has a round base and a pointed top. Young coconuts, like the old ones, are a pain to open, but Taylor sells fresh, frozen young coconut meat at Prana Restaurant. (She also has an online store for other “superfoods,” and raw products, http://www.pranaraw.com/.) Young coconut has a texture that lends itself to delicious, almost instant puddings and rich smoothies, and is more digestible than mature coconut. “Digestible” translates into more nutrition quicker, a raw food fundamental. Taylor makes everything from chocolate pudding (see recipe) to a vanilla smoothie she drinks before bedtime (remember, she’s nursing twins!) with young coconut meat.
I’ve been blending coconut, raw cacao, cashews, and dates for an instant, sublimely delicious chocolate pudding, a little simpler than Taylor’s version. My teenage daughters say it’s a good day when Taylor’s chocolate pudding is in the blender. It’s profoundly delicious, but the deliciousness hits deeply, the way a beautiful green salad tastes delicious after you’ve been eating cake and ice cream at a birthday party all afternoon.
The Wells recognize that not everyone can commit to making 100 percent of their meals raw, so they recommend introducing the principles in small packages. For instance, one morning eat nothing but fresh fruit until lunch. At lunch, before you eat the turkey sandwich or hamburger, have a salad with avocado, flax oil and lemon juice. Or, try eating fresh fruit and salad all through the day until dinner, and then eat what works for you and your family
Taylor emphasizes that many of the foods her family eat look very much like foods anyone else is eating; Her children’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich is simply raw almond butter on Essene bread (dehydrated spelt bread.) Taylor makes a raw zucchini “pasta” with a fresh marinara sauce that my kids and I have once a week, and get excited about. “Taylor’s pasta tonight, Mom?! Great!” I usually hear as a daughter walks by the kitchen.
I haven’t bought a dehydrator, and probably won’t. Many of the raw foods and “superfoods” aren’t local, and they can be expensive, but good food of any sort just costs more. Even in moderation, these are all good, healthy ideas to slip into one’s life. Couldn’t we all use a little transformation?
Namaste. “The spirit in me respects the spirit in you.”
No Cook Chocolate Pudding
1 cup young coconut meat
1 3/4 cups cashew nuts (soaked)
2 1/4 cups water (or coconut water)
1/4 cup cacao powder (add more if you want darker pudding)
3 to 4 tablespoons coconut butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
.85 ounces Irish moss (too little moss will cause the pudding to become runny)
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan Crystal salt
1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes depending on the power of the blender.
If this recipe is too heavy for your blender, add water until it begins to blend.
There is no need to blend the moss separately from the other ingredients.
If you are using a Vitamix blender, the stir stick can be used to keep things moving instead of adding water.
Recipe courtesy of Taylor Wells, Prana Restaurant and Prana Power Yoga, 2011.