News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Social Issues

A body-builder's baby food
She won first-place in a figure competition on a raw food diet and says her babies now thrive on it
This story is part of a special series.

Vivian Goodman
Maria Louisa has thrived on her Mother's cuisine.
Courtesy of Maria DiCenso-Pelser
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Monday night in Cleveland, a champion body-builder can show you how to make baby food.

Fresh Fork Market, a local farm-food buying club, is sponsoring the cooking class at Market Garden Brewery. In this week’s Quick Bite, WKSU’s Vivian Goodman reports the instructor eats a lot of her food raw and believes babies should, too.

Click to listen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (6:42)

Raw foodism emerged in the late 1800’s when the Swiss doctor who invented muesli, Maximillian Bircher-Benner, found a raw-food diet cured his jaundice. Marisa DiCenso-Pelser of Strongsville more recently found it cured her sore joints, heartburn, headaches and acne.

A few years ago, Pelser started restricting herself to mostly uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, spices and unrefined oils. Today her 2-year-old daughter Maria Louisa and 7-month-old son Bennett also have a lot of raw food in their diet.

Certified to teach others what she learned
Pelser’s neither a doctor nor a scientist, but she and her husband, Pete, are incredibly fit. They met while studying exercise science at Cleveland State.

Just after their son was born last year they opened Pure Health and Fitness in Strongsville. They offer Pilates, yoga and personal training, and Marisa’s known there as “The Raw Trainer.”

She started on what she calls her “raw journey” while training for a body-building competition. After winning first place, she found out she was pregnant, felt great and decided to stay on the diet.

Through pregnancy, nursing and beyond
 “So I was pregnant with my daughter on a raw food diet, nursed her on a raw food diet, started feeding her half-raw, half-cooked and now I am doing the same with my son.”

She says her kids are thriving, and now she counsels other parents to follow her lead.

“Actually, you’re going to have what the baby needs and then some because, unfortunately, when you purchase baby foods (they are) pasteurized and a lot of the nutrients are cooked out of them. And when you make it yourself, you’re able to keep a lot of it raw.” 

Gentler than store-bought for little digestive systems
She uses only organic ingredients "because when we consume pesticides or hormones, we’re able to metabolize it a little bit better whereas the children are affected a little bit more intensely. So I think it’s important.”  

Of course all babies are different, and there are differing views on the benefits of organic produce as well as raw foodism.

Dr. David Katz, director of Yale’s Prevention Research Center, wrote last year in The Huffington Post that, “The case for raw food eating is oversold.”

But Maria DiCenso Pelser trusts her own research, the evidence of her own improved health, and how well her kids are doing.

Green smoothies in a sippy-cup
Two-year-old Maria-Louisa chugs 8-ounces of green smoothie every morning. It’s mostly pureed spinach, and her Mom says she’s loved that veggie since infancy.

You may need to do a little mincing, chopping or straining when you make your own baby food, but Pelser says in most cases you can give children what you’re eating and mash it with a fork or puree it in a blender.  

Hold the salt and pepper
She suggests not salting food or adding sugar until after you’ve removed your child’s portion, and don’t add spices until your child is about 8 months old.

To start she recommends seasonal fruit.

"But another thing that I would introduce besides fruits would be sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, which is nice because those are all things that we can get through Fresh Fork.”

What qualifies her most is motherhood
Maria DiCenso-Pelser had to travel to Kittery, Maine, to study and become certified as a raw foods teacher. She’s also a raw foods chef and author, but the main reason businessman Trevor Clatterbuck wants to work with her is …she’s a mom.

Clatterbuck and Pelser met only recently.  

“And she asked what gym I worked out at and I said, ‘I’ve got body-by- Fresh Fork’. We move watermelons and cabbages and thousand-pound palettes left and right all day long.” 

Clatterbuck’s Fresh Fork Market delivery service has about 2,400 subscribers getting it fresh from local farms, and most are young families.

“And interestingly, no one on my staff is married or has children. That’s why we’re excited to partner with Marisa.”

Get a taste and some tips
For a $20 fee, you can sample baby food, get recipes and learn Pelser’s techniques Monday night at Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland.

And that’s this week’s Quick Bite. Next week, an in-depth interview with Sen. Sherrod Brown about the farm bill.







(Click image for larger view.)

Related WKSU Stories

Lakewood wholesaler produces kale chips and granola at a holistic health center
Friday, June 22, 2012

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Ohio Sen. Tom Patton proposes bill for firefighter cancer benefits
Thank you Senator Patton. On behalf of all of those who love our firefighters; we appreciate that someone is standing up for them and their continued health. ??...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University