Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Days Twenty-Four, Five, Six, and Seven

Last night I woke up at 2:30 am and couldn't go back to sleep thereafter. I used to have this problem at least once a week when I was working and attributed it to stress. Considering I'm not at all stressed at the moment, it can't be that. It can't be caffeine either because I gave that up weeks ago. I don't know what to attribute it to.

The cooking experiments of the last few days have not gone well. I shouldn't be surprised: I tried to make patties of all the vegetables I had in the refrigerator that I hadn't used up: celery, parsnip, onion, zucchini, yellow bell pepper, broccoli florets, mushrooms, and almond pulp leftover from making milk, all seasoned indiscriminately with tahini, raw marinara, nama shoyu, and apple cider vinegar. I think it was that last ingredient that really pushed it over the edge into bleh. I'm going to stick to recipes for a while, at least as a foundation to tweak upon, and not just throw things into the food processor. I think I got overconfident with the fact that all veggies and fruits were tasting so good -- I thought I could just throw a bunch of them together and come up with something great.

I also decided to try two products that have been in the fridge a while: Living Tree Community Foods "Dream of Paradise - Organic Chocolate Ecstasy with Raw Cacao" and "Sweet and Kind - Organic Raw Pumpkin Seed and Sesame Butter."

A friend whose ex-partner works at Whole Foods gave them to me (she got them free). I didn't like them when I first tried them but I thought as my palate changed I might feel differently so I kept them. I really wanted to like these products, but I tried them again and bleh. For starters, the consistency wasn't at all what you'd expect of a spread: it didn't spread, it crumbled. Second, both of them had a strong, bitter taste. I think it might be the sesame that's in both of them -- ordinarily I love tahini, but the bitterness was just overwhelming. Sesame, cacao and lavender just don't go well together -- it was a bitter, flowery mess. It's a shame: I know these little jars go for about $9 a piece.

We've been raising our daughter vegetarian even though my husband is not. The other day, she wanted a bite of the mashed potatoes (which she calls cake -- we've never been able to fathom why) in his t.v dinner, but they were all mixed with the meat so I explained that she didn't want those because there were dead animals in there. Today, she saw Daddy carrying a t.v. dinner and immediately asked, "It has animals in the cake? I want to see animals."

What I've been eating:

Day Twenty-Four:
  • 11:30 am: raw granola, banana, almond milk
  • 2:15 pm: Salad (romaine, sesame dressing, pumpkin seeds, plum tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, broccoli) and lemon sparkling water
  • 4 pm: Larabar, apple pie flavor
  • 5 pm: banana and almond butter on raisin bread
  • 6:45 pm: Green smoothie (bag organic spinach, juice 3 homegrown tangerines, almond milk, 2 dates, pear, tsp. spirulina, cinnamon)

Day Twenty-Five:

Day Twenty-Six:

Day Twenty-Seven
  • 3 am: salted pumpkin seeds, homegrown tangerine
  • 9:30 am: Raw granola, 1/2 banana, almond milk
  • 4 pm: green smoothie (bag organic spinach, banana, juice 2 homegrown tangerines, wheatgrass)

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Vitamix Love Story: Contest Entry

Yard Snacker and HiHoRosie have a contest for a new Vitamix. My entry reveals all the torn, torrid feelings in a love triangle between myself, the 3600+ and the 5200:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Leaving Day Twenty-One, into Days Twenty-Two and Three

It's past midnight and I can't sleep tonight. Is it the maca I put in my smoothie this morning? Is it adrenaline leftover from performing this afternoon? Is it neither, or a combination of both? Who knows. All I know is that I can't sleep, so I may as well blog.

I'm definitely experiencing more energy of late -- tasks are getting done ahead of schedule, and my mood isn't high so much as it is clean and even, which I actually like better.

I am struggling with a couple of cravings today: Trader Joe's Dal Makahni and Garlic Naan, salted roasted peanuts. Both are vegan cravings, so I could give into them (and may) but I've been feeling so good when I eat raw I thought I'd try to keep raw except when I go out to eat. I'll try to muddle through the cravings for a couple days to see if they pass completely. So many other cravings for food I used to eat have been replaced by a greater desire for raw foods so it seems possible this will too.

I've been reading more about raw food recommendations for diabetics. Gabriel Cousens, the doctor featured in the Raw for 30 Days documentary that inspired me to take on this regimen in the first place, recommends eliminating "fruit for three to six months until the fasting blood sugar (FBS) stabilizes at between 70 and 85, and then only have low-glycemic fruit such as berries, cherries, citrus, goji berries, cranberries, and an occasional apple" (see the article).

That's definitely not the diet I've been following: I eat a lot of fruit. I decided I should start monitoring my blood sugar again just in case I'm doing the opposite of what I set out to do. Yesterday I tested in the morning before eating, immediately after eating, and two hours after eating.

This article says that FBS for a normal individual is 70-100 and that it would never rise above 135-140. By two hours after eating, blood sugar should return to normal. My FBS was 92 (it had been 85 the two days prior), then I was at 128 immediately after the smoothie, and 86 two hours after finishing it. So I guess if that 75-85 number is ideal, I'm a bit higher than that, but I seem to be well within normal range even immediately after eating sweeter raw foods. I tested just now in fact immediately after eating a raw cinnamon roll and was only at 96.

Maybe because I am pre-diabetic my diet can be a bit less severe in terms of fruit and still experience the positive effects of going raw. I seem to remember when reading Raw Family that Sergei Boutenko ate fruit and reversed his diabetes simply by going raw. Still, I will continue to monitor my blood sugar to make sure I am getting the results I want and if I notice any adverse trends I will alter my diet accordingly.

Here's what I've been eating:

Day Twenty-One:

Day Twenty-Two:
  • 10:40 am: Green smoothie (6 oz. bag organic spinach, banana, juice 1 homegrown lemon and tangerine, 2 Tbsp. hemp powder, 1 tsp. spirulina, wheatgrass, water)
  • 3:45 pm: Raw Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
  • 6 pm: Green smoothie (1/2 bag organic spinach, 1/2 homegrown orange, organic pear, wheatgrass, 4 Tbsp. Hemp, slice of mango, organic kiwi, water)

Day Twenty-Three:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Days Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, and Twenty-One

I've been mostly raw for three weeks now. The more I do this, the less cooked food appeals to me. Today, for example, I had lunch at Macaroni Grill with my husband and daughter (the name of that place makes no sense: they don't serve macaroni, and if they did, would they grill it??). When I began this regimen, I told myself I'd have some meals be vegan but not raw. I did this for two reasons:

  • I feared if I didn't allow myself some wiggle room I'd be too tempted and fail utterly
  • I wanted to make it easy to socialize with friends

Today at the restaurant I had whole wheat pasta with veggies and pine nuts in a tomato basil sauce and it tasted fine, but it did not compare with my fabulous raw pizza:

Flax/sesame/buckwheat/sunflower crust, italian herb "cheese" spread, marinara from Everyday Raw, chopped organic basil and organic yellow bell peppers

The flavors and colors of raw food are just so vibrant! They're, well, alive.

The cheese experiment inspired by this blog post at the Sunny Raw Kitchen turned out rather well. I started with her recipe for the base cheese, substituting 1/2 tsp. of probiotic powder for each probiotic capsule and using water instead of Rejuvelac. I then cultured it for 24 hours. I divided the batch in half and seasoned as follows:

Italian Herb "Cheese" Spread

Mix together:
  • 1/2 batch cheese base
  • 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. celtic sea salt

Dust 4" springform pan with more parsley flakes, fill with cheese mixture and chill until firm.

Cheddar "Cheese" Spread

Mix together:
  • 1/2 batch cheese base
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. raw tahini
  • pinch of turmeric and paprika
  • sea salt to taste (about 1-2 tsp.)

Fill 4" springform pan with cheese mixture and chill until firm.

The Italian herb cheese turned out great, and the cheddar wasn't bad but still needs tweaking. The foretaste was a bit too yeasty, but the aftertaste had just the right cheddary bite. I think I may play with the proportion of nutritional yeast to tahini next time.

The crust for the pizza also made crackers for the cheddar:

Flax/Sesame/Buckwheat/Sunflower Crackers

Grind into a flour (I use a coffee grinder for this):
  • 2/3 c. flax seeds

Mix flax seed meal with:
  • 1 1/3c. water

Process with S blade in food processor:
  • 1 c. sunflower seeds, soaked and drained
  • 1 c. buckwheat, soaked and drained
  • 1/4 c. sesame seeds, soaked and drained

Mix flax mixture with sunflower/buckwheat/sesame mixture and:
  • 1/2 tsp. unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Spike seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. parsley flakes

Spread mixture onto teflex sheets, score into squares or triangles, and dehydrate at 105 degrees. When top is dry, flip onto dehydrator tray and remove teflex sheet. Dehydrate until crackers are crisp. Note: if you plan on eating these plain, you may want to sprinkle them with salt before dehydrating.

In the past few days I also tried a recipe for Creamy Carob Mousse from Carol Alt's book Eating in the Raw. I made a few modifications as I went, reducing the raw carob powder from 1 cup to 2/3 cup, substituting 1 tbsp. agave for each date, and adding a bit of almond milk. The base of the mousse is actually avocados, and I know that sounds gross, but believe it or not it tastes really good -- the only complaint I have about it is that the carob is a bit grainy.

Alt's book is a bit different from most raw books in that she's not vegan or even vegetarian: she eats raw dairy products and even raw or lightly seared meat and fish. There's also some ingredients in the recipes, like sprouted bread and rolled oats, that aren't raw. The book isn't the best that's out there by any means, but I'd recommend it for people who aren't vegetarians who are looking for suggestions on how to eat healthier. I just wouldn't recommend it to someone serious about becoming a raw vegan.

Here's what I've been eating for the last several days:

Day Seventeen:
  • 2 pm (I did eat before 2, but the rest of my day is in an earlier post): Lunch at Walter's Restaurant in Claremont with Sporksforall and Teresa (black beans, rice, salata, bread, water)
  • 4:30 pm: homegrown tangerine (from Sporks and Teresa's tree)
  • 6:15 pm: homegrown tangerine, Everyday Raw vegan macaroni and cheese
  • 7 pm: Eating in the Raw Carob Mousse

Day Eighteen:

Day Nineteen:
  • 9 am: Green smoothie (2 bags of organic spinach, juice of 3 homegrown tangerines, 1 banana, Spirulina, water)
  • 10:30 am: 2 FSBS Crackers with Cheddar "Cheese" spread
  • 12:30 pm: 2 open faced sandwiches (raw raisin bread, 1 sliced pear, almond butter)
  • 4 pm: Salad (1 organic romaine heart, avocado, organic plum tomatoes,1/4 red bell pepper, a few organic broccoli florets, and homemade sesame dressing
  • 7 pm: Earth Cafe Pumpkin Spice of Life Pie (yummmmmmmmmm)
  • 10 pm: Pecans and raisins

Day Twenty:

Day Twenty-One:
  • 9:45 am: Green smoothie (juice of 1 homegrown lemon, banana, organic pear, 3/4 bag of spinach, 2 Tbsp. hemp powder, 2 tsp. maca, 1 tsp. spirulina, water)
  • noon: Lunch at Macaroni Grill with family (whole wheat penne with tomato-basil sauce, asparagus, pine nuts and spinach; water)
  • 2:30 pm: 1/2 mango, organic kiwi, couple of sections of homegrown oranges (from a neighbor)
  • 4 pm: almonds
  • 5:15 pm: 2 slices of raw pizza, 1 cracker with cheddar cheese spread, lemon sparkling water
  • 6 pm: Eating in the Raw Carob Mousse

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Days Sixteen and into Seventeen: Knowing when to "Shut it down"

Not all raw cooking experimentation goes well. Bunny Berry over at RawFu did a great vlog about it called "When Raw Food Goes Wrong." Yesterday was just such a day for me.

I wanted some bread suitable for savory sandwiches. I decided to try Matt Amsden's Famous Onion Bread again (from his book Rawvolution). I'd tried the recipe once before, but found that it was way too oniony and salty for my taste. This time I decided to cut the prescribed 3 onions down to one, include a red bell pepper, and reduce the nama shoyu to half, substituting water for the rest. The resulting mixture still looked way too oniony, so I decided to also double the flax. It occurred to me that this might make it too dry, so I also doubled the oil but forgot that the flax was only half the dry mixture (the rest was sunflower seed meal). The end result was still too oniony and salty and was an oily mess to boot. I decided, as Tina Fey and Peter Dinklage say on 30 Rock, to "Shut it down" -- ie, I threw the whole batch out.

It pains me to throw out food, but the oniony smell filling the house after I dehydrating was really overwhelming. I've also learned that forcing myself to eat (un)cooking experiments gone wrong will just turn me off the whole regimen. I think this is part of what happened the last time I unsuccessfully tried to transition to raw: part of it was that I got the stomach flu, which made me not want to look at anything I'd been eating, but part of it may also have been that batch of beet patties I'd made staring me down from the refrigerator. Better to write off the mistake and move on.

I'm craving cheese, so I'm experimenting, inspired by this blog post at the Sunny Raw Kitchen. It's still in the culturing phase. Hopefully this experiment will taste better than the bread I'd hoped to eat it on.

Here's what I've been eating:

Day Sixteen

Day Seventeen:
  • 9 am: Green Smoothie (6 oz bag of organic spinach, banana, tangerine, juice of one homegrown lemon, wheat grass, spirulina)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Days Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen and into Sixteen

I'm racing the clock to finish this entry this morning. My husband is out of town so I'm taking care of our daughter alone. I'm writing this while she sleeps.

Yesterday after dropping my husband off at the airport, I swung by Borders to get us a treat. I tried to steer my daughter toward a really cool non-Disney Cinderella pop-up book, but she chose a My Little Pony puzzle book instead. At least it was half the price of the other book. For myself I chose Matthew Kenney's Everyday Raw.

The clincher was that while I was flipping through it I spied a recipe for raw vegan macaroni and cheese. This was my first attempt at "pasta" made from sliced squash. I don't have a spiralizer, so I used a regular ol' vegetable peeler. I think the wider "noodles" were more appropriate for mac and cheese anyway. Still, I don't think veggie "pasta" will ever successfully emulate real pasta (I've also tried take-out meals from Leaf Cuisine that substituted squash for pasta). The mac and cheese sauce, however, was utterly amazing. I would never, ever guess that this didn't have cheese or dairy in it. Somehow this recipe captured just the right balance of pureed cashews, nutritional yeast and other seasonings. This recipe, and some of the most interesting in the book are credited to one of his restaurant chefs, Kristen Reyes. I hope she comes out with a book of her own.

The book itself is gorgeous: filled with full-color photos and bright colors that make the food look irresistible. My main complaint about it is that it doesn't live up to its promise about being "Everyday Raw." In the intro, Kenney states that "The type of raw food that is best at home is unfussy and is made up of very satisfying ingredients, with far fewer components and fewer steps; and it's easier to prepare in a shorter amount of time." Very little of that rings true for these recipes. Still, I'd recommend it because it includes techniques for things I'd never think you could do raw, like wonton wrappers (called coconut wrappers in the book) and chocolate chips.

One of my favorite online sources for recipes is People share their personal experiments and recipes, post photos of the results, and the comments others leave often provide useful modifications and suggestions. The other day I tried this recipe for cinnamon rolls and it turned out really well -- my daughter scarfs them down. Because I didn't have almond meal, I took a commenter's suggestion and substituted the pulp leftover from making nut milk. Next time I would double the amount of filling -- not only to make the dish itself a bit sweeter but also because it wasn't quite enough volume to make my Vitamix run efficiently. To approximate a cream cheese frosting, I mixed together some of my raw vegan sour cream (which tastes somewhere between sour cream, cream cheese and yogurt and can thus be tweaked with flavoring in a variety of directions) with a couple of heaping tablespoons of coconut butter and some agave.

Here's what I've been eating for the past several days:

Day Thirteen:
  • 11:30 am: 2 Autumn Squash Cookies and a green smoothie (1/2 banana, 1/2 bag organic spinach, 1/2 head romaine, juice of 1 homegrown lemon, homegrown satsuma, organic apple, squirt of agave, water)
  • 3 pm: Salad (avocado, 1/2 organic tomato, cilantro dressing leftover from Kale chips), a banana, mashed potatoes, sparkling mineral water
  • 7 pm: Green smoothie (1/2 bag organic spinach, banana, mango, water)
  • 8 pm: Couple of bites of cinnamon roll (shared with husband and daughter)

Day Fourteen:
  • 7:30 am: 2 Autumn Squash Cookies
  • 9:30 am: Larabar Apple Pie Flavor
  • 10:30 am: Green smoothie (1/2 5 oz. box organic spinach, banana, juice of 1 homegrown lemon, tsp. spirulina, some wheatgrass, water)
  • 1 pm: Larabar Apple Pie Flavor
  • 2:15 pm: Salad (1/2 bag organic mixed greens, 1/3 red bell pepper, avocado, sunflower seeds, almonds) with homemade sesame dressing (equal parts apple cider vinegar and organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, a little sesame oil - probably not raw, squirt of agave). Lemon sparkling water.
  • 4 pm: Shared a cinnamon roll with daughter
  • 9 pm: Shared a green smoothie with daughter(1/2 box organic spinach, wheat grass, 2 bananas, juice of 1 homegrown lemon, 2 stalks of celery, 1 organic apple, tsp. spirulina, water)
  • 1 am: Raw snack mix

Day Fifteen:
  • 9 am: bite of daughter's banana
  • 9:30 am: Raw granola with almond milk
  • 11:30 am: Shared an open-faced sandwich (raw raisin bread, bananas, raw almond butter)with my daughter. Lemon sparkling water.
  • 1 pm: Shared a green smoothie with my daughter (5 oz. box of organic spinach, wheatgrass, spirulina, wter, juice of 1 lemon, organic apple, banana)
  • 4 pm: Raw vegan macaroni and cheese and an open faced sandwich (raw raisin bread, bananas, raw almond butter). Lemon sparkling water.
  • 9:30 pm: Mango
  • 11 pm: Shared a cinnamon roll with my daughter
  • 1:30 am: Salted peanuts (not raw)

Day Sixteen:
  • 10 am: Green smoothie (6 oz. bag organic spinach, banana, juice of 1 lemon, wheatgrass, spirulina, water) and raw granola with almond milk.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Days Eleven, Twelve and into Thirteen

I had been mostly raw for the last several days until yesterday when I got together with my friend Michael for dinner. Michael is also a vegetarian, so while I knew that we might not go an entirely raw place, we'd inevitably end up someplace wonderful, which we did. I had a vegan meal at a new place called "Stuff I Eat" in Inglewood not far from where he lives.

I had the $10 Lunch Burrito (seasoned tofu, black beans, wild rice, savory sauce, fresh salsa, guacamole and mixed greens). It also came with a side salad and a few chips. The burrito was fabulous, although the tortilla seemed to have been pan-fried slightly which made it a bit oilier than I would have liked. I also drank a bottled superfood drink that I don't recall the name of (at $6 a pop I certainly hope it was packed with nutritional power because it was kind of bland, but I can't blame the restaurant for that since they didn't actually make it). We topped off the meal with a slice of raw berry pie ($7), which was utterly delicious(it tasted like one I've made in the past with cashews and coconut butter as the base). The atmosphere was charming and down to earth and the people were friendly, so I highly recommend the place overall -- but bring cash, they don't accept plastic! (I had to run down the street to the ATM at B of A so we had enough for dessert, which was certainly a good move but cost me a $3 fee)

I've been throwing whole bags of spinach into my smoothies lately (unless my daughter is sharing -- it still tastes a bit too green for her to really enjoy I think; we'll work up to it). I've found that the tastiest balance for me seems to be a bag of spinach (6 oz.), a banana, the juice of one lemon, and some water. I was putting mangoes, pears, papayas and other fruits into my smoothies, but the result seemed to be that the really distinct flavors of these fruits were getting lost in the overall mix. Now I save those for snacking alone. The problem with smoothies is that I don't find them filling for very long, so I either have to eat frequently or pair them up with some "solids" -- generally something made with seeds or nuts. Maybe this will change over time, maybe it won't, but I don't think I'm overdoing the fat yet because I seem to be losing a bit of weight already after two weeks on this diet. Not a lot, but somewhere between 2 and 5 pounds (it's hard to say exactly given I have about a 2-3 pound fluctuation range from day to day, but the range itself has started centering itself on a lower number than it had before).

I'm still having trouble getting motivated in the morning without my usual treat of coffee, but that could result from a combination of factors: the lack of a caffeine-based jumpstart, the fact that I'm on sabbatical instead of my usual structured work schedule of waking to an alarm and getting to work by 7 am, the fact that I'm alone in the mornings (hubby and daughter don't tend to rouse until 11 or noon), etc. etc. Clearly I need to work on the psychological as well as the chemical/physical aspects of this: i.e., setting up some concrete tasks and routines for myself, establishing a new ritual. Of course I'm also inclined to wait on that and give myself a bit more respite and freedom, which is also part of what sabbatical is about.

Here's what I've been putting into my body for the past couple of days:

Day Eleven:

Day Twelve:

Day Thirteen:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Days Nine, Ten and into Eleven

I've been eating a lot of heavier raw foods in the past couple of days (ie, heavy on the nuts and seeds), both because I was running low on dark, leafy greens and because I had a surplus of foods as a result of (un)cooking -- a lot of raw recipes seem to make large quantities, especially if you are the only one in the household eating them. Here are a few of the things in my larder at the moment:

These dishes, which some raw enthusiasts consider "transition foods," are yummy but eating too much of them makes my energy feel less clean and crisp than when I am eating higher amounts of greens. Maybe the folks that call them transition foods have something. Or, as my husband puts it, though completely from a omnivore's perspective, "your food has too many quotes around it."

An omnivore he may be, but he's also supportive: he made a run to Trader Joe's last night to stock me up on bags of organic spinach, romaine, and mixed greens. Of course, he also picked up some of their Angus Beef Cheeseburger Sliders for himself!

I don't know that I'll ever transition completely out of these so-called transition foods, but I'll let my body and tastebuds decide -- that's what happened decades ago when I became a vegetarian: at first I loved fake meat products; now I can't stand most of them. For those of you also transitioning, here are a couple of recipes from the last couple of days:

Raw Mashed "Potatoes"

Got the idea for this from this recipe, though mine is pretty different:

Place in vitamix and blend until smooth and creamy:
  • Cauliflower, destemmed with leaves removed
  • Organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • onion powder
  • celtic sea salt
  • mustard powder

Add until mixture reaches desired consistency:
  • Water
  • Brazil nut milk

Raw Snack Mix

Mix together and place in dehydrator at 105 degrees until crunchy:

Here's what I've been eating:
Day Nine:
  • 10:30 am: 2 raw autumn squash cookies
  • noon: Nut milk smoothie (brazil nut milk, raw sour cream, banana, organic apple, organic kale stalks leftover from making kale chips, homegrown satsuma, cinnamon) and open-faced sandwich (raw raisin bread, sliced banana, raw almond butter)
  • 3:45 pm: Carrot smoothie (half a dozen organic carrots with tops, mango, satsuma, juice of half a homegrown lemon, cinnamon) and Kale chips
  • 6:30 pm: Raw chili with half an avocado, raw sour cream, Celtic sea salt and mineral water

Day Ten:
  • 8 am: Raw snack mix
  • 9:30 am: Raw granola and brazil nut milk
  • 1:30 pm: Raw mashed "potatoes" and Ani Phyo's scramble
  • 3 pm: Mango
  • 3:30 pm: Raw Autumn Squash Cookie
  • 4 pm: Open-faced sandwich (raw raisin bread, sliced banana, raw almond butter)
  • 6:45 pm: Green Smoothie (1/2 bag organic spinach, banana, organic pear, juice of 1/2 homegrown lemon) and Raw Tacos (Romaine leaves filled with raw chili, raw sour cream, chopped organic tomatoes, sliced avocado, and hot sauce, which wasn't raw)
  • 10 pm: Salted Peanuts (not raw)

Day Eleven:
  • 8:30 am: Green smoothie (6 oz. bag of organic spinach, banana, juice of 1 homegrown lemon)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Days Seven, Eight, and into Nine

Feeling a little rough this morning because I didn't sleep well last night -- I must have swallowed a pill wrong because I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like something was scraping its way all the way down my throat. This is the sort of morning I really crave coffee to give me that extra kick to get started.

I posted the other day on the Give it to me Raw forums requesting advice for a substitute drink -- several folks mentioned green drinks, another wheat grass, one even said a daily wheat grass enema! I'm not sure if they were joking or not, but either way I'm not sure I'll ever be ready for that one.

Unfortunately this morning I'm out of dark leafy greens to make a truly green drink or smoothie. At least one person suggested it was better to juice than drink a green smoothie in the morning "because it gets some nutrients in me without having to wake up my digestion right away" so I experimented with straining before drinking (I have a Vitamix but not a juicer). I avoided fruits in this concoction because I didn't want to spike my blood sugar without the fiber to slow it down, and the result was sort of awful. I threw half away. From what I have read the appeal of greens without adulteration may increase with time.

I've been (un)cooking alot in the past few days, including whipping up another batch of autumn squash cookies, though this time I threw in some brazil nuts and cashews as well as a carrot. I also made a wonderful batch of Kale chips. I've made these before -- I'm not sure where I got the original recipe, but I think it was this one because it seems closest to my version before I tweaked it:

Raw Pomona's Variation: Kale Chips

In the food processor or Vitamix:

  • Cilantro – qtr to ½ cup
  • tahini – qtr cup
  • cider vinegar – qtr cup
  • juice of one lemon
  • garlic clove
  • half cup water
  • qtr cup braggs
  • pinch Celtic Sea salt

De-spine a couple bunches of Kale, toss with dressing, then massage into leaves. Dehydrate.

These are ridiculously wonderful.

I also made up a batch of sour cream because friends were having us over for tacos. They said they'd provide lettuce leaf for shells and so for filling I brought over my raw chili and a batch of Ani Phyo's recipe for scramble (a cross between the Garden and the Spanish Scramble: almonds, sunflower seeds, turmeric, sea salt, red bell pepper, green onions, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes). I got the idea for the sour cream from this recipe for cream cheese. Here's my version:

Raw Vegan Sour Cream

In Vitamix:

  • About 2 cups of cashews soaked, drained and rinsed
  • water
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. probiotic powder

Blend until utterly smooth and creamy. Leave out in a warm place until it achieves the desired level of sourness, then refrigerate.

The tacos, by the way, were fabulous. Not everyone ate my version, but some tried it. I also brought along the Kale Chips and even the most trepidatious agreed they "weren't bad." My friend Di, who is raw-curious, went to town on them. The thing about any new cuisine I think (I've found this to be true of vegetarian dishes as well) is that people have to first be open to thinking they could be good, otherwise even if they agree to taste it they do so with the expectation it will be bad. You see this phenomenon most obviously with kids, but adults are guilty of it too: if you don't think something will be good, it won't be.

Yesterday I also put together a batch of bread -- both recipes I looked at (from Matt Amsden's Rawvolution and Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen) had onions in them and I wanted a bread that might be good with nut butter or something sweet on them, so I started with Ani Phyo's recipe, eliminating the savory ingredients, substituting white sesame for black, and adding raisins. It's still in the dehydrator so I don't know how it turned out yet.

Anyway, here's what I've been eating for the past couple of days:

Day Seven:
  • 10 am: raw buckwheat granola and brazil nut milk
  • 11 am: Raw green smoothie (4 stalks organic kale, 1 1/2 bananas, 1 papaya, 2 satsumas, 1 organic apple -- I kept adding fruit because I didn't anticipate the strong flavor of the kale, so I wound up with a huge batch. I drank half and refrigerated the rest)
  • 2 pm: 1/2 Larabar cinnamon roll and 1/2 Larabar apple pie, shared with my daughter while shopping
  • 3:15 pm: Avocado with Celtic sea salt
  • 4 pm: Bowl of raw chili and sparkling mineral water
  • 6:30 pm: Rest of my morning smoothie
  • 9:30 pm: A few kale chips
  • 10 pm: raw buckwheat granola with brazil nut milk

Day Eight:
  • 7 am: Raw green juice (2 stalks of organic celery, 1 organic tomato, handful of organic arugula, handful of organic cilantro, strained). Drank half of this and threw the rest away.
  • 9 am: Raw autumn squash cookie
  • 9:30 am: Ani Phyo's scramble
  • noon: Raw smoothie (several organic carrots with tops, satsuma, organic apple, 1 stalk of celery -- I ran out of dark leafy greens)
  • 4:30 pm: Raw autumn squash cookie
  • 7:30 pm onward (at a friend's house): drank club soda while I snacked on baby carrots, sugar snap peas, dried pears, walnuts, kale chips. Ate a raw taco (lettuce leaf, tomatoes, avocado, raw chili, raw scramble) and some mixed fruit (apples and bananas with the canned mandarins picked out) with a bit of the "sour" cream, which hadn't gotten very sour yet.
  • Throughout the day: snacked randomly on kale chips
  • Middle of the night after waking: salted peanuts (not raw)

Day Nine:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Day Six

Today was cleaning day so we had to get ourselves out of the house while it was being scoured. I first suggested we go to a yoga class, but we didn't manage to get it together in time so I requested that we take a trip into Pasadena to do some shopping at the Whole Foods megastore on Arroyo Parkway. My husband, though not raw, vegan, or even vegetarian, is remarkably supportive, and readily agreed.

We had lunch there -- he and our daughter from the steam trays while I grabbed a meal from the raw foods case (Foodology's Raw Taquitos with Mango Salsa -- yum!). I wanted a bottle of water, but the simplest bottle I could find was something called "Electrolyte-Enhanced Water" -- honestly, I haven't a clue what that means. The ingredient list says it contains "water, electrolytes (potassium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride)" but that still tells me nothing. Anyone care to enlighten me?

After lunch I loaded up on (mostly) organic veggies as well as with the raw food products I had learned about in some of my raw food books: raw tahini, raw carob powder, raw almond butter, Celtic sea salt, and nama shoyu (literal translation: raw soy sauce). To say, however that I learned about these products isn't entirely true: I'm still not sure, for example, why Celtic sea salt is the salt of choice among raw foodists -- I see it a lot but don't recall anyone explaining why. I'm assuming that Celtic sea salt is less processed than table salt and retains trace minerals of other things that might make it more nutrient dense. What I'm unclear about is why the Celtic version seems the universal choice when Whole Foods had an entire endcap of salt choices from every corner of the globe in every color (some were quite pretty!).

I'm also unclear about the distinction between Nama Shoyu and Bragg's Liquid Aminos: Some raw foods books say to use them interchangeably, while others mention only one of them. I've used Bragg's for decades ever since it was included in a cookbook put out by one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants, The Spot in Hermosa Beach. I never knew why "liquid aminos" were supposed to be good for me (Bragg's is generally sold only in health food stores), but I knew it tasted good -- pretty much like a weakened version of soy sauce. The odd thing is that even though when you take it straight it tastes like a weakened version of soy sauce, whenever I tried using watered down soy sauce in a recipe as a replacement, the result was never the same. Soy sauce always comes out tasting distinctly of soy sauce while Bragg's somehow works itself into a recipe and enriches the flavor without making it's presence dominant. So given the opportunity, I'd rather use Bragg's in most recipes than soy sauce, but is Bragg's raw, as its presence in raw foods books would seem to suggest, or isn't it?

In the car, my husband noted that by driving 25 miles to buy our groceries we were doing harm to the whole idea of "buying local" but our raw food resources around Pomona are pretty sparse. We have a Sprouts and a Trader Joe's in Claremont where I can buy organic produce (though a much slimmer selection than at Whole Foods) and a little shop (also in Claremont) called Ecoterra that sells a few raw products, but I knew they didn't have some of the things I needed. Still, when I can I'll try to use them or local farmer's markets to get most of my things.

Here's what I ate:

Day Five and into Six

Yesterday morning I was inspired to do something with the acorn squash that has been sitting around for a while now. I thought I might try to make something along the lines of a carrot salad or maybe something that would taste reminiscent of candied yams, so I processed the squash with raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. When I tasted it, it seemed tart -- weird since none of the ingredients alone is tart -- so I decided it needed something creamy to balance it out. Since I didn't have any nut milk handy I thought I'd try adding almonds and water. That did the trick, but the result had been processed so much it seemed more like cookie dough than a salad, so cookies it was: with the help of my daughter I made it into patties and popped them in the dehydrator. The result was yummy! Even my 3 year old enjoyed them, which is the real test. Here's the resulting recipe:

Raw Autumn Squash Cookies

In the food processor until doughy:

  • acorn squash or other fall squash
  • raisins
  • nutmeg
  • cinnamon
  • water

Add and process until broken up:

  • almonds

Form into small cookie-sized patties and dehydrate at around 110 degrees until cookies are chewy but not sticky.

You'll notice I don't really put measurements on my recipes -- that's because raw (un)cooking invites experimentation, which is part of what I love about it. You can taste along the way and be fairly certain what you're tasting will be close to the taste of the end result, so use the quantities that taste right to you.

My chili experiment from yesterday turned out really well -- though I would change a couple things next time: I'd eliminate the sprouted lentils which retained their crunchy state and didn't add the beaniness I'd hoped, and I'd eliminate the broccoli, which my husband said gave it a funny bitterness. My daughter wouldn't try it: the key to getting her to try something is often to make it look like something she already enjoys (ie, cookies) or to call it by the name of something she enjoys (my green smoothies are "juice"). Now if I could just come up with a raw dish that approximated macaroni and cheese!

After exercising at our club in the evening and enjoying a nice steam and jacuzzi soak, I returned home to set up ingredients for cereal in the morning: I put some soaked grains, sprouts and fruit in the dehydrator and put some nuts in water to soak for nut milk:

Raw Buckwheat Granola

In the Dehydrator at about 110 degrees:

  • Buckwheat groats, soaked, drained and rinsed
  • Sunflower seed sprouts (not fully sprouted, just enough to split)
  • Chopped organic apple and pear

When dry and crispy, remove from dehydrator and mix with:

  • chopped walnuts
  • organic raisins

Serve with nut milk.

I ate it the following morning and it was yummy, though next time I might mix the grains with a bit of orange juice (freshly squeezed of course!) to give it a bit more flavor.

Here's what I ate:

Day Five
  • 11:30 am: Raw Green Smoothie (1/2 bag organic spinach, 3 organic dates, organic pear and apple, banana, water)
  • noon: Bowl of raw chili
  • 3 pm: Avocado with salt
  • 5:30: 2 dixie cups of Crystal Light at the gym (Ack -- it's such a habit after a workout I forgot I was keeping my body free of artificial sweeteners!)
  • 6:30: Raw Green Smoothie (1/2 bag organic spinach, 2 organic apples, 1 banana, water) and 3 Raw Autumn Squash Cookies

Day Six
  • 7:30 am: Bowl of Raw Buckwheat Granola with Brazil Nut Milk

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day Four

The day began with another Target run -- discounts were up to 90% off so I went to five stores, making a loop from Diamond Bar to Chino Hills, then progressing to Chino, Montclair and finally La Verne. Thankfully I remembered to pack a Larabar this time for sustenance. By the time I returned home, the car was literally filled to the ceiling. My best find? A $200.00 Smith and Hawken outdoor garden fountain at 75% off. I tried to convince my husband that it would be soothing to set it up in the house to no avail, but it's lovely outside all the same.

I experimented today making a raw chili -- I think it tastes pretty good but I'm letting the flavors meld overnight before I actually make a meal of it. Here's how I did it:

In the food processor until it has a fine, crumbly consistency:

  • organic zucchini
  • organic broccoli
  • organic green beans
  • organic carrots
In the Vitamix, pureed:

  • sundried tomatoes
  • water
  • organic sugar plum tomatoes
  • organic carrots
  • organic raisins
  • chili powder
  • onion granules
  • pepper
  • cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • Bragg's Liquid Aminos
Combine all above with

  • chopped walnuts
  • sprouted lentils
  • sprouted sunflower seeds

I noticed a bit of a headache returning again in late afternoon after eating a cooked meal -- don't know if there's a correlation but worth observing to see if it happens again.

Here's what I ate:
  • 9:30 am: Larabar Apple Pie Flavor
  • 1 pm: Raw Green Smoothie (Mango, banana, organic apple, large handfuls of spinach, and a bit of agave upon tasting -- I don't think the fruits were quite ripe enough) and a handful of almonds. I shared the smoothie with my daughter -- she's actually starting to request it!
  • 4:30 pm: Trader Joe's Dal Makahni and Garlic Naan with a glass of sparkling lemon mineral water
  • 8:30 pm: Post nap snack of raisins, almonds and walnuts

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Days Two, Three, and ever so slightly into Four

I was up at 3 am this morning, but I wonder if I should attribute it to needing less sleep than actual sleeplessness per se given that I was in bed by 9.

The last two days have been marked by more socializing: friends from Australia were in town so we've eaten out at least once each day for the past two days. Eating out poses new challenges: while I haven't had any trouble eating vegan, eating raw generally means eliminating anything that makes a restaurant salad interesting -- namely cheese. If I'm truly being healthy, then I'd also need to eliminate things like cranberries (usually sweetened with processed sugar or corn syrup) and candied pecans (undoubtedly so). What I'm left with, if I'm lucky, is a $2 pile of mixed greens for about $15. If I'm unlucky, I'm greeted with a pile of iceberg. If, on the other hand, I opt for cooked vegan food, I'll more than likely consume highly processed starches like pasta or bread. I think when I can get to the point where I'm eating out as a luxury rather than a daily event I'll feel better -- that way I can limit even the cooked meals to less processed items and feel less guilty when I do go out with friends.

The other challenge I've been facing is that I haven't yet begun preparing a variety of dishes in advance. When I did this before, I very quickly got into the pattern of (un)cooking over the weekend so that I had a refrigerator stocked with an array of dishes for the rest of the week. Before long, my pantry was also loaded with an assortment of raw breads, crackers and cereals. This makes day to day eating easier.

By far, however, the most difficult challenge has been dealing with the cravings: when my husband was making pancakes the other morning, it was awfully hard not to partake -- the scent was just heavenly -- so I made a particularly loaded smoothie. When I know there will be temptations it helps to have a satisfying alternative on hand.

My caffeine withdrawal headache finally hit on the afternoon of day two -- it started in my neck and at first I wasn't sure if I'd just been sitting on the couch wrong, but by day three it had progressed into a full-blown headache. It lasted all day, but as of this morning it seems to be gone.

What I ate:
Day Two -
  • Obsessed with more Target post-holiday shopping and forgot to pack snacks. Didn't eat until noon.
  • noon: Massive salad (2 homegrown satsumas, half a bag of organic mixed greens, avacado, sprouted lentils and sunflower seeds, walnuts, shredded organic zucchini and baby carrots, all tossed with some of yesterday's raw hummus and a bit of Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Realized quickly that I still don't like this hummus - that raw garlic is just too much) with a glass of lemon sparkling mineral water.
  • 3 pm: Raw green smoothie (organic apple and pear, banana, large handful of organic spinach, water)
  • 5 pm: Larabar, cherry pie flavor (not my favorite)
  • 7:30 pm: Dinner at Bella Sera in Monrovia: water, bread, bruschetta, and gnocchi in tomato sauce sans the mozzerella.
Day Three -
  • 10:30: Keep-me-away-from-pancakes green smoothie (2 bananas, organic pear and apple, a bit of mango, juice of one homegrown lemon, massive amounts of organic spinach and a bit of watercress)
  • 2 pm: Larabar, apple pie flavor (oh boy, this one is good)
  • 4:30: Early dinner at Walter's in Claremont: water, bread, Black beans, rice and "salata"
  • 7 pm: Snack of raisins and almonds
Just a bit into Day Four -

Friday, January 2, 2009

Day One

I've just returned from a week in Alabama to visit family over the holidays. I'd been waiting until my return to fully begin my transition. As a vegetarian, I've always been limited when I dine at parties, but at least I could go crazy on desserts. Then I got diagnosed pre-diabetic and that was out the window too, so while I was in Alabama, I survived the first few days mostly eating the cheese, crackers, and chex mix that was sitting on the table at family gatherings. I also stocked up on a variety of bars before I left to make sure I had enough protein on hand. Most of the bars weren't raw, but a few were. My newest raw discovery are Larabars: I really like the cinnamon roll flavor.

It's cheap too -- at least as far as bars go -- about 1.25 each. I also tried Jocalat, made by the same company. The one flavor of that I had, chocolate coffee, was really wretched: it tasted like chewing on stale, used coffee grounds. Bleh.

After the first couple of days, which was dominated by family parties, I was able to go to the market and stock up on supplies for green smoothies (which generally consisted of some combination of organic spinach, romaine, carrots or apples and nonorganic mangoes, clementines and bananas). My mother in law's blender wasn't as powerful as my Vitamix at home but if I chopped the fruits up a bit more to begin with it survived just fine (My Vitamix is an ancient 3600+ I bought decades ago that I won't give up for the even more powerful newer models because I love the all-stainless steel design)
Yes, I imagine a choir of angels singing when I see that photo too, and rightly so.
I love my Vitamix too much, I know.

By midweek I was eating at least some raw and entirely vegan. I got a strange hankering for plain avocado with salt and ate five over a few days. I was still drinking coffee or diet coke because I knew once I went off it the detox headaches would start and I figured I'd better wait until I was at home for that.

So today, my first full day back, was also officially my first day of this regimen. My refrigerator, however, was barren after a week away so my first order of business was to head to the market. O.k. my second order of business: Target holiday merchandise was at 75% off and I hadn't nearly gotten my fill in Alabama so I hit three before going to Trader Joe's. Along the way I had a Larabar Key Lime Pie flavor to keep up my strength until I could get home with groceries (I can't say I'm as fond of this flavor upon trying it -- a bit too sour).

The rest of the day was spent experimenting with (un)cooking and cleaning up the Christmas decorations. Here's what I ate:

  • 9 am: Larabar Key Lime Pie flavor
  • noonish:
    Raw green smoothie (organic pear, two homegrown satsumas, large handful of organic spinach, a few sprigs of hydroponic watercress, banana, 5 organic baby carrots, water), raw hummus (adapted from a recipe in Ani's Raw Food Kitchen -- organic zucchini, tahini, lemon juice, garlic; next time I'll skip the garlic because even one clove of raw garlic was way stronger than I expected) and raw organic baby carrots
  • 3 pm: handful of "raw" almonds (I'm still working through a batch of almonds I bought before I realized all so-called raw almonds you buy in the store have been pasteurized and are therefore not truly raw. I hate to waste food, so when I get through these I'll buy some that are really raw)
  • 7 pm: brown rice, furikake (a Japanese sprinkle for rice) and baked teriyaki tofu with a glass of sparkling lemon mineral water.