Thursday, November 18, 2010

what's this all about?

The experiment: 90 days of raw food eating

The reasoning...

Rewind to 2007.  A friend of a friend was (and likely still is) a raw foodist, and I would occasionally observe him prepare one of his raw meals.  They were, to be truthful, unappetizing, unimaginative, and seemed to require a fat bank account with a direct pipeline into Whole Foods Market.  To top it off, this guy didn't appear terribly healthy; I wrote off raw food as a fad diet for hipsters.  Three years later I had my own encounter with raw food during a natural building workshop in North Vancouver with Agathe Mathieu.  Wow - completely different!  Here we were, a group of 6-8 volunteers working away on a cob house for Agathe's son, all running on fuel from her amazing raw lunches.  My interest (and my taste buds) were piqued!  Fast forward to this past summer: during a two month stay in the Czech Republic I met Lily, another raw food chef.  Just like Agathe, Lily has a definite spring to her step and an aura of clarity and lightness. The energy these two women exuded was palpable.  They were definitely on to something!

A few days of raw lunches with Agathe was enough to convince me that this 'fad' was worth checking out, and my time with Lily cemented it.  More than any of the material that I've read about raw eating, I trusted my instincts and my body: I felt REALLY good when I ate raw, unprocessed, uncooked foods.

Since my return to Vancouver about 2 months ago I've gotten back into my mostly vegetarian ways with the occasional sushi dinner (c'mon... after almost a year in Europe, Vancouver sushi is a must!).  Then I remembered raw food and decided to try out a few recipes (getting started can seem daunting, as I'll write about later).  Yummy stuff, and those meals left me feeling light yet satisfied, and good about what I'm putting into my body.  So I decided to embark on this 90 day raw food experiment (because 'They' say it takes 3 months for something to become a habit).  I'm not about to stress myself out with a 100% raw mandate, but I am going to aim to eat 80-90% raw for the next 3 months.

I'm already on Day 4, and I'm feeling pretty good!  I'll post a few pictures of what I've been eating (it's all been incredibly delish!) and generally how I'm finding the experiment.  Maybe you'll be inspired to try out a few recipes, and share some of your own; stay-tuned!

Day 1
I made my first major investment in not only raw food, but kitchen appliances: The Blender.  And not just your standard $20 Canadian Tire model.  Nooo no, I was gonna be serious about this.  I found myself first in Cookworks, then Williams-Sonoma, and between the two stores I decided on a Breville blender.  The Breville's no Vitamix (which is apparently the King Kong of blenders), but it's good stuff.  And... ahem... it's one schexy lookin' machine.  Baby, you've got curves!

Twenty minutes later I'm sitting on the floor of one of the local bookstores with about 4 raw food UNcook books in my lap.  I felt like Goldilocks, except without that whole 'this one is juuuuust right' feeling.  They were either way too technical (entire chapters on nutritional facts and information!  Don't get me wrong, I like to be informed, but this was too much; I was just looking to dabble, not to master) or too preachy/touchy-feely for my taste (I like to commune with the earth, I do, but there is a time and a place).  Luckily the Goldilocks moment happened: Erica Palmcrantz's Raw Food spoke to me, with it's simple layout, colourful depictions, and just enough about the author's own discovery of raw food, a few guest 'case studies', and nutritional information.  Done; off I went, home to start my own RAWvolution!  I stole that from somewhere...

As it was almost 9pm dinner time had officially past, so after unpacking my new toy (with great reverence - so schexy!) I leafed through Ms. Palmcrantz's book looking for something snackish.  Success: a Banana and Carob Smoothie recipe.  Check it out!

1 cup water
1 tbsp tahini
3 dates
2 tbsps honey
3 teaspoons carob
1 banana

Blend the water and the tahini first, then add the dates and/or honey (how sweet do you like it?).  Now toss in the carob.  Lastly, the banana.

I absolutely love carob - it's way better than chocolate, and I say that after having lived in chocolate heaven (Switzerland) for almost half a year.  Carob's made from the fruit of the St. John's bread tree, which grows primarily in the Middle East.  The taste is similar to cocoa, but carob contains much less fat.  Bonus: no caffeine!  So feel free to throw in s'more to make that late-night smoothie even chocolatier!  I also substituted almond milk for the water, and passed on the dates (story of my life!) only because I didn't have any (not always the case; but I did re-schedule a date the first night with The Breville.  Priorities!).

Carob in it's natural habitat.  Check out for more great info on carob!

The result: deliciousness!!  Towards the end I even tossed in a few ice cubes to make it more of a milkshake then a smoothie.  YUMMM lip-smacking goodness, and while I felt satisfied afterward, I didn't have the usual post-milkshake sludge-y feeling.  Oh, and forget about store-bought tahini now that Breville's here: throw some sesame seeds in the blender, grind 'em up, then toss in a neutral oil like canola or flaxseed and bam!  homemade, super fresh tahini.  Bon appetite!

Day 2
The meal plan for today: a pre-prepared lunch that I can take to work.  But first, breakfast.  I love a good bowl of granola in the morning, but I decided to give Fruit Porridge a go:

1 banana, chopped into large pieces
1 apple, chopped into large pieces
1 pear, chopped into... well I'm sure you can guess
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon flaxseed, ground

In the blender, chop up the pear, then add the banana, and lastly the apple.  Blending in this order prevents everything from getting too sticky.  Scoop into a bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon and flaxseed.

Okay, anything called 'porridge' usually gets a thumbs down from me, but this was gooood!  It makes a good size portion too; I snacked on this for a good 30-45 minutes while reading the paper.  Again, filling and satisfying, but no heaviness!  It's important to grind the flaxseed so that your body can absorb it.  A coffee grinder will work, or the ol' mortar and pestle (which I love).  Pre-ground flaxseed from the store isn't the greatest because it's likely a little dried out.  If you grind it yourself right before you use it, it'll make a big difference.  And you can always grind a lot and then keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.

Now, onto lunch: Avocado Soup.  My main reason for choosing this was because it was stated that 'this soup will keep you full for a long time', and I wanted something that would get me through the afternoon at work.

1 avocado
1 cup water
red pepper flakes, or a dried chili pepper cut into small pieces
1 garlic clove
herbs or sea salt, to taste
2 tsps lemon juice

Toss everything into a blender, starting with the avocado, a little water, and then everything else.  Mix it all up and serve with a little red onion, tomato, and alfalfa sprouts.

Again, this was a work-lunch, so I 'cheated' and omitted the onion and sprouts (sadly) and tossed the tomato in with everything else so that I wouldn't have to cut or assemble anything at work.  Add a little more chili or garlic as you like; mine turned out mild at first sip, but packed a healthy punch later as the chili flakes kicked in.  This was my first experience with avocado as soup, and while I was skeptical it proved mighty tasty, and true to form, left me feeling full until dinner time.  In hindsight, I probably wouldn't make this again as a work lunch, as the soup does change colour from the beautiful vibrant avocado green to something a little lacklustre.  The taste was the same though - yum yum in my tum tum!  I'll definitely make this again, but maybe with some added carrots next time for work.

I have to admit that on Day 2 I experienced a bit of a funny feeling in my tummy during the day, and a mild headache for about 15 minutes.  I'd read about side-effects such as these during raw food 'detoxes' so I wasn't surprised, and they were so mild and short-lived that I wasn't bothered.

For dinner, I used up some cooked wild rice that I'd made earlier in the week by tossing it with some mushrooms, shoyu (soy) sauce, lemon juice, shredded carrots and bell peppers.  Mmm I can't deny that it was scrumptious, and I didn't feel the least bit guilty about having a cooked meal (better than wasting food.  And did I mention it was delish?).  This week I'm going to try out a wild rice recipe that calls for soaking the rice instead of boiling it.  Should be interesting!

1 comment:

  1. "passed on the dates (story of my life)"
    wocka wocka!