You can tell that eating organic has become a mainstream health trend in Taipei by popping into one of its ubiquitous convenience stores. A fair number of the city’s 7-Eleven stores now have sections devoted to fresh produce and organic food.
But Adela Stoulilova wants to speed things up in Taiwan when it comes to eating healthy. Her answer: eating raw.
Stoulilova, who’s based in Shanghai, will be in Taipei for the next four weeks to host a series of raw food workshops that aim to teach participants the basics of raw cuisine, as well as the principles and benefits of eating an uncooked, plant-based diet. She says those who come should be prepared for a surprise.
“Most people who come to my workshops and raw events are amazed that raw food is not just twigs and leaves,” Stoulilova said in an interview last week with the Taipei Times. “Raw cuisine is rather the art of turning whatever nature gives us into mouth-watering gourmet dishes that look beautiful and taste even better.”
Stoulilova, who originally hails from the Czech Republic, is a personal trainer who specializes in female fitness. She has studied nutrition and dieting extensively and as a “health coach,” she takes a “holistic approach” to dieting and one’s overall well being.
“The purpose [of the workshops] is really to show people how they can easily create beautiful dishes out of unaltered natural ingredients without having to overly process or overcook anything,” she said. “I strongly believe in real food as opposed to processed and ready-made products that have been robbed of all nutrients and only resemble food.”
Stoulilova, whose own diet is 80 percent raw, says that raw foods are dense with enzymes and nutrients that are lost in the cooking process.
“Most raw foodists believe that exposing food to temperatures higher than 48°C destroys their nutritional value,” she said. “There has not been any extensive research on the exact amount of vitamins and minerals lost, but it makes sense that after cooking, frying and boiling something for a long time, it becomes a dead matter.”
The cooking process also makes most foods highly acidic, she says, which can lead to inner inflammation and various diseases.
“[People] think that what they eat is actually real food, when in fact they eat things that are only made to look like food and offer no nutrients, just empty calories and a heaps of sugar and preservatives. Real food does not come from a box, or from a can. Anything that is processed so that it lasts years and does not go bad or rot is not food.”
Although Stoulilova is a vegetarian, she advocates the idea that each individual has unique needs when it comes to food. “I am not saying do not eat animal products — some people thrive on meat — but learn where it comes from and prepare it yourself,” she said. “That is the only way to know what is going in your mouth.”
She also understands that one of the many challenges that people face in trying to keep a healthy diet is finding the time to prepare food, so she suggests making gradual changes. “[Have] fresh fruits instead of breakfast or desserts, or make a green smoothie to get some greens leafy veggies in your system. Making a green smoothie takes less than five minutes.”
Besides weight loss, she believes that people reap a lot more by eating raw. She says that her clients have noticed increased levels of energy, clearer skin and mind, and stronger hair and nails.
“I will be the first to admit that there is also an element of vanity,” said Stoulilova. “I am a woman and want to feel good and sexy. Eating really colorful and fresh food definitely makes me feel cleaner and sexier than eating a Big Mac with cheese and fries.”
And with the overwhelming amount of information out there regarding diets and overall health, Stoulilova says her ultimate goal is to show people that it can be easy to feel good without spending an exuberant amount of money on the newest supplements or technologies.
Her workshops are designed for people who are already health conscious and are curious about experimenting with raw food. Participants will learn not only about the fundamentals of eating raw, but also how to prepare three-course meals.
But no dinner is complete without dessert. Her most popular workshop lets participants eat cake, guilt-free. “The raw chocolate workshop is designed for everyone and their kids, [and anyone who loves] to get their hands dirty with chocolate. People will be creating truffles and a chocolate bar that they will get to take home to share with their loved ones,” she said.
The workshops run on weekends from June 30th to July 8th and take place at various locations in Taipei (see registration information for details). Costs range from NT$1,500 to NT$1,700 per workshop, or NT$5,600 for all four.
Registration is required as spaces are limited. More information regarding the workshops and venues can be found by searching “Raw Taipei” on Facebook, directly visiting www.facebook.com/events/243164725794304, or by e-mailing email@example.com.