Russian raw food guru Victoria Boutenko is healthier than she's ever been. At 57, she doesn't colour her hair or wear glasses and feels healthier than she was in her 20s.
In 1990 the Boutenko family emigrated to the US from crisis-stricken Russia. Arriving to the 'land of opportunity', and delighted by the abundance of food available, they were "committed to trying all American food". Their health deteriorated and their weight skyrocketed. Victoria was diagnosed with arrhythmia, her husband suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and hyperthyroidism and her children developed asthma and type-1 diabetes.
Something had to be done. "I didn't have a choice... We were so ill, we could barely work. We were new immigrants with two small children. We had to work very hard to survive. I couldn't afford to pay medical bills." In 1994, Victoria met a raw food advocate who claimed that the diet could cure diabetes.
The family embarked on 'the raw food family' journey in 1994 based on vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Her husband's health problems ceased. Her daughter's asthma disappeared. Her son never went on insulin.
For 12 years the family ate a 100% raw food diet, shedding kilos. But after seven years, Victoria began to notice symptoms of deficiency. In 2003, the family replaced nuts and seeds with leafy green salads and green smoothies, and their health improved.
Greens provide plenty of protein, says Victoria, but advises supplementary sources of Vitamin D, Omega 3 and B12.
Victoria also insists on seasonal, organic food - even if it can be more costly. "I could save money on my shoes, my furniture. But I do not want to save money on food. In the end, if I get sick I will spend more money on doctors and medicine".
Not ready to ditch meat? Victoria stipulates that only the highest quality, organic, free-range meat should be eaten. "Not like the ones that are available in stores everywhere that are kept in captivity and inhumanely treated."
If you are ready to take the raw food plunge, start your day with a green smoothie and up your salad intake.
Download the 'green smoothies app' from rawfamily.com for more information.
Super Green Sweet Smoothie
1 bunch kale (stems removed)
3 pears (pits and stems removed)
1 ripe mango (peeled, pit removed)
2 cups water
Makes 1.5 litres
Victoria says - remove the thick stems from some greens. If the stems are not green in colour, they do not add much nutritional value and make the smoothie less palatable.?Remember to rotate your greens! Try substituting spinach, silverbeet, parsley, lettuce, dandelion and other greens in place of kale in this smoothie.
Victoria Boutenko appears at the Healthy Living Show. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit healthylivingshow.co.nz.