a different kind of coffee break with Gerry and Ray Coffey

Disease-Free Living Through Fitness and Nutrition


"12 STEPS TO RAW FOODS,"by Victoria Boutenko
               Reviewed By Gerry Coffey

"The 12 Steps to Raw Food" might well borrow the title from the James Bond flick, "From Russia With Love." That's how Dr. Jesse Schwartz, PhD, describes its Russian author: "The woman who wrote this book is a lover, she is in love with humankind�and teaches that by following a live food diet one can enhance one's health and well-being."

Gabriel Cousens, M.D., physician, psychiatrist, family therapist, author and a 100% live foodist since 1983, says  "This book is a breakthrough for the many people who are literally addicted to cooked food. She helps us look at the cultural attachments, social pressures, the programming from birth, the addictive quality of particularly the processed foods, and artfully gives people ways to deal with all of these issues."

After spending a week with the Boutenkos last summer, I can attest to the warmth and love the family projects, as well as the ability of their delicious raw food recipes to quell the tastebuds of confirmed "carnivores." No need to feel deprived of the dishes Americans have come to love: burgers, lasagna, spaghetti, pizza, pies, cake, and ice cream to name a few. They can "have their cake and eat it too," so-to-speak, because the Boutenkos have learned how to make all of them without sacrificing the life-giving enzymes they say are destroyed in the cooking process.   

One of the vivid examples Author, Victoria Boutenko asks readers to contemplate is the comparison of two almonds, one roasted, the other raw. If both were planted, within three weeks the roasted one would disintegrate, the raw one still possesses the potential to grow into a beautiful almond tree that would propagate more of the same.

Although the life-giving qualities of one is none existent, scientists, Boutenko points out, would find no nutritional difference between the two. Both might still contain the same amount of calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc and copper. The difference is one carries the enzymes of life, the other does not. And, according to Ms. Boutenko, by consuming a predominantly cooked food diet, the average person is constantly drawing on their own limited source of enzymes to digest depleted cooked food, and by the age of 40, the majority of their enzymes are used up.

Another example of how cooked foods deplete the body is to notice how sluggish and lethargic one becomes after a meal of cooked food. All the body's energies are going to digest that meal. Multiply that by 3 or more times daily and one begins to understand the uphill battle our beleaguered bodies face.

The Boutenko family of 4 started their journey to wellness after they immigrated to the U.S. in search of the American Dream. They found untold financial success but at the sacrifice of health and well being. Author Victoria Boutenko was morbidly obese, severely depressed, and toying with suicide when a doctor's diagnosis of Juvenile Diabetes for 10- year-old-son, Sergei, shocked her into action. 

The entire family was in dire straights. 8-year-old Valya, had severe Asthma, and father, Igor, had crippling arthritis, thyroid problems and high blood pressure. Looking back now, Victoria feels the entire family would have been lost had they not made the change to a raw food diet. It wasn�t easy.

Sergei, the self-proclaimed "Microwave King," used to dream of pizza. Now he dreams of perfecting new concoctions like the prize-winning cake for which he won first place at the Raw Food Festival in Oregon last summer. (Recipes in back of book.)

He still recalls the day he and Valya came home from school and found the cupboards bare and the microwave hammered into oblivion and thrown in the trash heap.

But Sergie said he knew his constantly squabbling parents never committed to anything more than a day. He'd just "wait them out."  But he underestimated their unabiding love for him and his sister. One day turned into three and out of sheer hunger, Sergei was forced to submit to eating raw, vegan food.

And one day at a time a miracle took place: the weight started falling off. He could think more clearly, had boundless energy. He started getting along well with family, classmates and teachers, and actually enjoyed learning new things at school.  By term's end, Sergei had the highest grades in class. Moreover, Sergei grew whole, new healthy teeth, and subsequent tests revealed he no longer had any trace of  Diabetes. (Note: Sergei started college at 15, Valya, 14!)

Valya, who used to "cheat" at school by trading fruits and veggies for junk food, noticed how happy her mom, dad and brother were when eating the 100% raw food diet, so decided to join them. Soon school, family work and play  became a pleasure not a punishment.
By choice Valya became the official family gardener, nutrient-filled kale is her favorite food, she professes, and she says straight-faced she actually enjoys washing dishes: It gives her more time to converse with her mother.

Basically shy, Valya says people's friendly curiosity about their diet lured her out of herself and now she and Sergei speak publicly to students and adults about the benefits of a raw food diet.  They also enjoy whipping up raw delights to tempt the leery from their cooked food dependency.  Sergei, now a strapping, handsome youth of 17, confesses he used to fantasize about giant hot dogs and pizza, but now dreams of  new ways to make raw food dishes more scrumptious.
"This is the key to breaking addictions to cooked foods," notes Victoria. "Sergei's Young Coconut Dream Cake" won the Gourmet Raw Food Dessert Contest last year in world-wide competition with seasoned Live Food Chefs."

Igor had his own victories. He rid himself of more than 50 lbs. Of excess weight, threw away his cane, and no longer suffers from arthritis or high blood pressure. He now leads fitness forays, has people standing in line to receive one of his famous Russian massages, and boasts an athlete's pulse of 47.

Meanwhile, Victoria lost over 120 lbs., became a Certified Living Foods Practitioner, Iridologist and Health Minister, teaches Living Nutrition at Southern Oregon University, and is Head Chef at Orgeon's Spring Garden Caf�.

The family's odyssey to a raw food diet is told by each member of the family in their first book: "The Raw Food Family." And realizing success would have been improbable without the full commitment of the entire family and the support they gave each other, Victoria drew up the "12 Step Program" and they began teaching it to others with great success.

"Students who have taken this program are staying successfully 100% raw," states Victoria. "They are experienceing no temptation to eat cooked food. Just none. These 12 Steps help people to stay on raw food, no matter what. They work." An avalanche of requests from all over the world convinced Victoria of the need to put the program in book form so more could be helped.

"The 12 Steps to Raw Food" provides a blueprint for others who wish to break their addiction to life-diminishing cooked foods. To order "Raw Food Family" or "12 Steps to Raw Food" online send email to:  

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