Monthly Archives: April 2012

Easter Bunny Nightmare and Redemption…Post Raw Diet Day…5!

So I just got back home today from a lovely Birmingham escape.  Now, before I left, I intentionally swept the fridge of all my colorful raw foods, and finished up everything in the fruit basket (see Airplane incident…!).  I knew full well when I got back I’d need to stock up for next week.  I was proud of the plan, both in it’s efficiency and strategy.  Just one variable I failed to account for, which I was kindly reminded of at the doors of Trader Joe’s: “Oh!  Sorry, we’re closing now.  It’s Easter”.  A little patronizing, sure, but but as I stood there totally disenchanted with my re-useable Hawaiian bags in hand, I completely forgot that stores might close early (or not open at all, as was the case with my go-to health food store) for Easter.  Great.  Now what?  As I drove home in slight bewilderment, scouring my refrigerator, freezer and pantry in my head, I came up with a plan.  I knew I had frozen shiitake’s, frozen spinach and a few onions.  I knew I had some brown rice.

So I got home, begrudgingly stashed my bags, and got to work.  Put the rice on, then went ahead and heated the coconut oil, through in some onion, smashed some garlic and grated some ginger.  Then put in my frozen mushrooms and spinach.  Cooked for a few minutes, and went in for the taste.  WHAT?! What.  The.  Hell.  Did I just put into my mouth.  It tasted dead.  Actually dead.  I killed spinach.  And I killed mushrooms.  I guess since the conclusion of the Raw Diet, I had been eating mainly raw veggies and salads.  This was my first foray back into cooked veggies.  Sure, they were frozen first.  But still!  Yuck!  No true flavor, and whatever flavor was there was masked by…well, for lack of a better word–death.

So, another reason to keep the veggies raw.  Or at least start fresh!  Which, in my defense, I would have had the Trader Joe Easter bunny not sabotaged my dinner plans.  Sigh… but alas, just as my Raw Diet has ruined me from eating frozen veggies ever again, it also saved me from starvation.  If I didn’t have anything else to eat tonight, I had learned how to make a quick almond milk.  1 tablespoon almond butter, a cup of water, a dash of vanilla, a whole bunch of cinnamon, and a dash of sea salt.  Done.  Some oats, a handful of nuts, some raisins, and that lovely brown rice I had nearly burned to the bottom of my pot as I had my ‘come to jesus’ moment with the veggies–and I was back in business.  A little hodgepodge, perhaps.  But, oh so delicious!  I even added a dash of coconut and a sprinkle of raw cocoa just to be in the peeps spirit.

Jinji’s Almost Raw Easter Muesli

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • Some raisins
  • Some slivered almonds
  • A few broken walnuts
  • A couple dried cherries
  • A shot of dried coconut
  • A shake of cocoa powder

Mix it up, and enjoy!

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An Apology and a Plea…Post Raw Diet Day 4

So I’m on an airplane…nope, not a cheap joke…and I have an aisle seat with two hours and eight minutes flying time in front of me, on a 12 row puddle-jumper.  It’s also feeding time.  Ever since my raw diet journey, I have times I have to eat, and increments I must abide by.  Yes, must, to avoid the wild hysteria that would otherwise ensue.  Another side effect of the diet has been appetite regularity.  My body knows exactly when it wants to be hungry, and can usually even tell me exactly what it wants to eat.  Oh, so as I digress even further, in thinking of how much raw I will hold on to (I currently am still at about 80%!), say I choose to let go.  I am curious what happens to the lessons and results?  Will the diet regularity fade away, returning me to my previous wild-with-hunger self?  What about the great nails and glowing skin?  Ugh.  More to think about. So the airplane.

Aisle seat, with a teenager to my left at the window, and it was my feeding time.  I had some more of the left overs from my fridge–actually, the last of them since I was going away for the long weekend–waste not, want not!  Anyway, about a half hour into the flight, I decided to take out my salad I had made for myself in anticipation of this time hours before–avocado, tomato, red onion, olives, some lemon juice, red peppers and cucumbers.  Maybe carrots too.  When I took off the lid to dig in, I unearthed one of the most pungent smells I had ever experienced.  Some may call this the best marinade ever, I choose to be a part of that group.  Others, likely my teenage row mate, may call that a nightmare on a plane.  It was actually slightly reminiscent of the smell that comes from the salads the little Russian women make–the radishes, tomatoes, and onions with dill.  Still, even though I likely created a masterpiece, I scarfed it down so fast I hardly even noticed the taste!  Airplane etiquette 101 probably says something about strong odors on board.

So I apologize, 7F, for any discomfort you had to endure.  But to my foodie nation, I know you understand, so I also enter a plea for forgiveness!  Would I do it again?  Well, yes.  But would I take the liberty in scarfing it down to lessen the time of offense?  Um, actually, debatable.  I was thinking after I had finished…really what extra harm would have been done if I had just savored every creamy avocado’y bite.  So maybe, I will put out there a standing “I’m sorry”, on behalf of myself, foodie nation, and our Russian lady friends.

Bon Appetit!

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There’s a Smoothie for Everything…Post-Raw Diet Day 2

Either everything is perfect, or nothing is right when it comes to me and food.  Either I absolutely love what I’m eating (see: bloomed wild rice, raw oatmeal, raw chili), or it becomes my nemesis (see: raw collard wraps).  Either everything is timed just right, or everything is off–things get soggy, things get cold…timing is an art.  So what does all this mean to me on Day 2 of my Post-Raw diet?  There are miscellaneous odds and ends in my refrigerator.  It’s true, and I knew it was happening every time I ate a 1/4 of this, and 1/2 of that, but there was no stopping it!  So here I am today with 1/2 a red pepper, an enormous carrot, a huge cucumber, some chunks of pineapple and something else that lives in a leaf.  About the thing that lives in the leaf…I got it at the farmer’s market at the beginning of my 2 week journey, and was afraid to deal with it then, and am afraid to deal with it now! Then, just because it was so foreign, and now, well how many vegetables do you know of that survive over 2 weeks!

I presume that happens to a lot of Raw newbies.  We just get all caught up in the vegetables and fruits of it all, we forget to make sense!  Easily talked into anything without a pulse, we forget to ask–“how do you prepare this??”  And I know vegetables!  But this thing that lives in a leaf, inside my fridge, is completely foreign, and whatever angst I have leftover from not using my dehydrator also lives inside that leaf.  I digress.  So what to do with the veggies I didn’t eat, the things I didn’t try, and meals I simply ran out of time for (I have zucchini too that I was looking forward to another rendition of zucchini primavera!).  There’s two solutions, really.  One, I’m brought back to my new, old dilemma: Maybe Raw is still speaking to me.  Maybe I shouldn’t end it so soon.  After all, all I would need to get is a couple tomatoes, a few bananas, some avocado, and I’d be in business!  Miscellaneous, no more.

I need to think about some more, but for now (!), I’ll go with the alternative solution: The lessons keep on coming as I have learned there is officially a smoothie for everything.  Don’t take my word for it!  Go ahead, try and type any combination of any few things into google.  Someone, somewhere will have a recipe for you.

Here’s my delicious one for tonight, leaving only a lonely 1/4 red pepper, a big carrot, some parsley and a nagging feeling like Raw might be for me:

Jinji’s Miscellaneous Smoothie

  • A huge cucumber
  • Some chunks of pineapple
  • One orange, juiced
  • A few stalks of celery
  • A half an apple
  • Some sprouted almonds
  • 1 cup of water

Blend it all together, and be amazed!

 

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Post Raw Diet Re-Cap…What’s Changed…Day 1

So on Day 1 post Raw Diet, I ate a 100% raw breakfast, a 80% raw lunch, and 0% raw dinner.  For lunch, along with the leftovers of my awesome bloomed wild rice, I had some Mary’s Gone crackers.  I was excited, pumped even, to have my first non-raw food in 15 days.  Ate one cracker.  Ate two.  They tasted burnt, I thought.  Kept eating them.  They tasted…plain.  Then, by the time I finished them, they were okay.  But I LOVE Mary’s Gone, I thought.  Still, about mid way through, I stopped eating them along with the bloomed wild rice because I felt like they were ruining it.  For dinner I went out to a local restaurant, One World Cafe, and I had the same chili I’d craved time and time again over the years, “chock full of organic brown rice, vegetables and beans” the description reads.  Took one bite.  The vegetables were limp.  Took another.  The rice had disappeared into the stew.  And where was the spice?  All I could think about was the delicious raw chili I made a week ago, and the sprouted quinoa I had along with it.

So, what’s changed?  Everything!!  My soul and my taste buds has gotten so used to the textures, colors, bursting flavors, crispness, and freshness of raw food, that it’s incredibly underwhelming to eat cooked foods so far.  I’m sure it’s a “getting used to” process.  I’m certain in no time at all I will discover the yum factor again.  But I hesitate in saying that too quickly, as I think…should I find the yum factor in cooked foods again?  Should I listen to what my body is telling me, and continue my Raw foods journey.  Maybe we’ll compromise.  We, as in me and my body.  I will continue reintroducing my cooked food favorites and go-to’s.  But maybe Raw should be the foundation of any meal I have.  For instance, with the chili tonight–if I were making it, maybe I add cooked beans and brown rice, but use raw veggies and a raw stew.

How could 28 years of cooked foods all of a sudden feel so foreign?  I wasn’t expecting this to be one of the outcomes of my innocent little experiment.  I was really expecting to be swimming through mounds of sweet potatoes and blowing bubbles in bisque by now.  But all I really want is the raw oatmeal I have soaking in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow.  Curious, eh?  But here I am…imagine my surprise!

 

 

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Two Weeks of a Raw Diet in Review…Day 14

I thought I should use this space on this final day of this epic journey to share some things.  Answers to the dumb questions you won’t want to ask.  Tips for survival on a Raw Diet.  And one final recipe entry–the absolute best yet, using my pride and joy: Bloomed Wild Rice.

I’ve said it before: A big reason for my doing this whole thing, aside from the adventure part, is to start a discussion.  We have to ground this talk of obesity, food addiction and general unwellness.  Take it back from the silver screen for a minute and really talk about realistic, and sustainable ways to get a hold of ourselves.  Debunk myths, reconnect with the essence of food, and let our bodies do the talking.  Am I suggesting everyone go out and become a Raw foodist?  No.  I am suggesting that collectively, we can change eating habits for the better and incorporate some color every now and then.  More on that to come.  For now, in case you are one of the brave and few, here are some tips I’ve learned in the past 14 days that may just mean the difference between making it, and not making it:

  1. Forgive yourself.  You’ll mess up.  Sometimes accidentally (see hot water incident), and sometimes because you just can’t help it (see coffee incident)–either way, it’s ok.  Keep going.
  2. Don’t give up.  And don’t throw it away.  You can fix it!  It’s food in its simplest form and you’ll be surprised what a date, a pinch of salt or a handful of nuts can do for a meal.
  3. Cheat.  Find your closest juice bar, and become friends with people that work there.  Look around in your health food stores–you’ll be surprised at what kind of packaged delights you can find.
  4. Secret heat.  My favorite.  I found some on top of my fridge, and would let my cold Manna bread rest there for a while before eating it.  I would put my cold, soaked oatmeal on the floor of my car on the way to work with the feet heater on.  In the center of my stove there’s also a warm place.  And never forget the sun.  Sit things out for a while–it’s allowed!
  5. Don’t forget the salad.  Don’t get so caught up in creativity that you forget the simplest thing of all–salads! All restaurants have them, and you probably have enough stuff in your refrigerator to whip one up deliciously and quickly!
  6. Don’t be afraid.  Sprout.  Dehydrate.  Soak.  And enjoy the process.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  And don’t be surprised when things start growing!  It’s supposed to do that.
  7. Use your hands.  And get your kids involved.  What I would have given for an extra pair of hands sometimes (most times)!
  8. Finish your plate & the cob.  It’s all edible!  No bones to worry about here.  No fatty parts, no weird skin.  It gets sweeter and sweeter as you go.
  9. Leave time.  For more dishes than you’ve ever had at once.  To sweep up random peels, seeds and shells.  To rinse your soaking things….hey.  No one ever said raw food doesn’t take work, and I especially never said it!
  10. Get some sleep.  It matters, and you’ll thank yourself when you aren’t spending time googling raw ways to get as much caffeine as coffee.  A) you’ll feel like some kind of fiend, and B) it does not exist.  Trust me!
  11. Remember what you know.  Don’t be intimidated by long recipes, and don’t get pissed when you don’t have an ingredient.  You know how to cook, and you know what tastes good together.  Go with your instincts first.
  12. Frozen fruit fixes smoothies.  You’ll see what I mean.
  13. Look for friends in unlikely places.  There could be someone at work that is doing raw right now.  Your favorite restaurant might have a raw bartender.  Ask around, you’ll be surprised.

Finally…BE BRAVE.  Drink your delicious dark green kale smoothie at work without shame.  Dip your finger in at the end to get the last delicious drop.  Tell people what you’re doing in spite of what you know their response will be.  As a matter of fact, tell everyone.  Even if they don’t get it, they’ll remember it, and who knows what that could mean.  And if nothing else, even if they don’t say it out loud, they will respect you for what you’re doing.  Don’t let the “gross” comments knock you off your journey.  They don’t mean it.  And if they could taste the bloomed wild rice I made tonight, they just might join you:

Jinji’s Laughing Wild Rice (because you can’t eat it without laughing):

  • 2 cups of bloomed wild rice (put about a cup in a jar with lots of water, let it soak and watch as it opens, curls up and drinks every sip)
  • An avocado
  • A zucchini
  • A huge carrot, or a couple smaller ones–diced
  • 1/2 a red pepper, diced
  • Lots of cilantro
  • Peas (corn would work too, probably even better)

Mix all that together, and then top with:

  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • about a 1/4 c of soaked sundried tomatoes
  • alot of cilantro

Blend together, adding in the soaking water from the sundried tomatoes as needed.  Toss with the pilaf and laugh!

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One More Day…Raw Diet Day 13

I have one more day left, and to be frank, I’m glad.  But in an all-around glad sort of way that I ventured into these unchartered raw waters, glad for all the new things I’ve learned, and most glad to be able to broaden my diet moving forward.  I do miss hot, cooked grains and delicious roasted veggies.  I miss cooked fish, and sauteed wild mushrooms.

I also miss chips.  Which reminds me of a major “miss” of mine over the past 2 weeks: I didn’t dehydrate.  Oh, I have a dehydrator!  I actually inherited it specifically for this diet.  I thought I would make Raw bread–but, instead I found Manna bread at Whole Foods.  I thought I’d make chips, but then I discovered “Brad’s Kale Chips” at my local health food store.  I thought I would make flax seed crackers to have with my hummus–but I bought those too.  Also, the dehydrator is big.  It’s a machine that needs to be plugged in, and it has dials and moving parts.  You’d definitely need to read the instructions to operate it.  Am I proud of it, not really.  But would I do it any differently?  Nope.  No need to reinvent the wheel, plus I’ve been so busy soaking, sprouting, peeling and blending, I cannot imagine where dehydrating would have even fit into the equation!  BUT.  All that said, I am still a lover of all things food, and all things that makes food delicious, so I will make the following promise:

After this Raw Diet concludes, tomorrow, and I reclaim my vege/pesque/veganish life back, I will break out the dehydrator.  I will focus on it, and I will make delicious things with it.  That counts, right?  I mean, I plan on bringing many of my Raw lessons with me into my regular diet, and I think this is a great way to keep the spirit alive, and keep my commitment to Raw up my diet real.

So, I say, we are really fortunate to live in a place where Raw foods are so abundant and plentiful, that you don’t have to limit shopping trips to just the produce section.  There are aisles!  There are aisles with lovely prepared and packaged raw foods in them.  I’d have been remiss not to support those artisans and their products.  After all, even though they have broken into the mainstream, they still are swimming upstream, and against the current of other packaged food titans and heavyweights.  But with support, they’ll do well!  Just look at Salmon.

Kevin’s Sunday Shake Up:

  • 1/2 a frozen banana
  • A mango
  • Some pineapple
  • 1/4 cup of oats
  • A bunch of spinach
  • 1.5 cups water
  • A few shakes of cinnamon
  • A shake of sea salt
  • A small handful of almonds

Garnish with pomegranate seeds and ENJOY!

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Food can be Forgiving too…Raw Diet Day 12

As much I’ve talked about myself and likes and dislikes for different foods…the battles that have ensued, instigated by myself against the raw food world as a whole…and lest we forget the many times I’ve blamed my food for each of my many surprises…I experienced what I’ll call a humbling moment with a jar of wild rice tonight that has made me rethink a few things.  Maybe it wasn’t the food all this time, maybe it’s been me.  I’ll explain.

All my life I have had a severe aversion to wild rice.  I don’t like the way it tastes, I don’t like the way it looks, and I don’t like the way it feels.  I ignore it and eat brown rice instead.  I look right past it, and go for the farro and the quinoa every time.  But, in the spirit of the raw diet experiment, and after reading a super good recipe including it, I decided to buy some wild rice today.  Still didn’t like the way it looked, but I was really craving some carbs, and again, why not?  Afterall, I was just gnawing on a corn cob last night (again), surely I can give wild rice a try.

So the directions in the recipe said I needed to bloom the seed.  Seed?  Therein, issue number one diverted.  The reason I have never liked the way wild rice looked, is because I was comparing it to other rices.  Wild rice is not rice.  Imagine that–it’s a grass seed.  Looks pretty good for a seed, I thought.  Bloom.  Okay, sounds less scary than sprout, and I know I can do that, so I continued.  I put raw wild “rice” in a jar filled with lots of water expecting to go through the usual–stare at it for 3 days, rinse it twice a day, and at the end hope for something that’s at least as pliable as a raw piece of spaghetti, but love it because I put effort into it.  I put it aside.  Tonight, when I went to rinse it, I discovered the miracle of wild “rice”.  It had bloomed itself!  It was finished.  The first actually finished grain/seed I’ve had this whole time.  The “rice” had opened up, and was soft, chewy and oh so flavorful!  The possibilities, I thought!

Point is, I’m sure I’ll come up with something delicious to do with my bloomed wild “rice”, and when I do, I will share it with all of you.  As I am approaching Day 14, it won’t be long.  In the meantime, I can’t help but give pause.  After speaking so poorly about the “rice” for so long, to everyone I can think of, passing it up time and time again…today, it has given me such a delightful gift.  I am humbled!

All this time the problem was…it’s been cooked!  Becoming more and more of a Raw believer, literally–day, by day.

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