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There were never any "good old days" — they are today, they are tomorrow
Well, the wrap was tasty, and then I picked up this cookbook, you see? 
13th-Nov-2010 11:14 pm
Once again I seem to have done the thing where I start to develop an interest in something but don't mention it at first, because who knows whether it will turn out to be a lasting thing? And then time passes, and I continue to be interested in it, and it takes a larger place in my life, and I realize that I haven't said anything about it, and how to bring it up now without making a big weird announcement or being all oddly casual?


So anyway, back in the summer Pirate and I were at the Grand Lake farmers' market and decided to pick up lunch. I forget what he got, but I got a collard wrap from the Easy Living Foods booth. Wow, that was tasty.

A couple of weeks later, I was browsing the New Books shelf at the library and came across a copy of The Raw 50: 10 Amazing Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners, Snacks, and Drinks for Your Raw Food Lifestyle by Carol Alt. Hm. That raw collard wrap was pretty good, I think to myself, and the worst that happens is I lug the book home, either don't read it/read it and decide it's not worth any attention, then lug it back to the library.

So I checked it out and brought it home and read it, and found a number of tasty-sounding recipes. Back to the library (or to the catalog, at least) to see what else they had about raw food. Most of their books were out and had multiple holds on them, so (after placing a number of holds myself) I hit the net to read more and find more recipes.

...and now it's mid-November, and I find myself eating much, if not mostly, raw, and wanting to do more. And, even weirder, pulling Pirate along with me without even intending to.

I had heard of "raw foodism" before, of course. If you live in the Bay Area and are into food, you've heard of Cafe Gratitude, even if you've never been there. And at least one person on my f-list is interested in raw food, I know. But overall... as I read on one blog (don't remember where), "How weird is raw foodism? You know how the rest of the world looks at vegans? That's how vegans look at raw foodists. So..."

So it hadn't had any kind of "ooh, I must try this" feeling. And, to be honest, I had a (possibly paranoid, possibly justified) hunch that if I took Pirate to Cafe Gratitude he'd either slug somebody or wind up ordering "Yeah, I'll have the I am ATTITUDINAL and the I am ANNOYED and the I am FROM FUCKING NEW YORK WITH NO PATIENCE FOR THIS CALIFORNIA NEO-HIPPIE BULLSHIT" and it would just get ugly, you know? *grin*

At first we started with green smoothies, as I recall. Tasty, easy, and an incredibly easy way to massively boost your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Warning. Green smoothies are a gateway drug. Pirate will testify to this. You start drinking the green smoothies, you start getting a desire to eat more salads, and it's all downhill from there.

One of the interesting things about this for me is that it doesn't feel like it's coming from a place of "I should" or "I ought to" or "they say this is good for one's health" or anything like that. I haven't, for the most part, been wanting to eat cooked food. The more raw I eat, the better I feel. My energy is better, my digestion seems to be happier, my skin looks better, my libido seems to be improving...

Have no fear, my rationalist friends, I have not taken leave of my senses. I don't think that eating raw food and decreasing the amount I eat will somehow reverse the aging process, or that it's going to somehow cause me to move to a higher vibrational level of energy or anything like that. (The whole "higher vibrational level of energy" thing sounds like low blood sugar to me. Maybe you should be eating some more? Just an idea...)

The approach I'm taking is a more sensible one. I'm educating myself about nutrition and incorporating a healthy degree of cooked food.

Like a number of areas of my life lately (which I will probably post about at some point; they're kind of in germination stage right now), it feels like this is something where a whole lot of things are all pointing to the same thing (in the way that Zen teachers use "pointing to").

I've been wanting to eat more vegetables, in general. The longer I have a Zen practice, the less right eating meat feels. I've been wanting to cut down or eliminate dairy. I've been wanting to do more meal planning and less last-minute "what do you want to make? I dunno... uh..."

So the raw food feels really right in those ways. More vegetables and no meat? Oh yeah. Less to no dairy? Yeah, aside from in coffee, I've pretty much cut it out. More meal planning? Definitely — although many raw food dishes can be prepared in not much time, because I don't have a lifetime of meal-planning reflexes to fall back on (however badly) the way I do with cooked food, I have to plan ahead. Plus a number of raw-food dishes do take pre-planning and pre-prep, whether to soak nuts or dehydrate crackers or what have you.

Because of the whole raw-foodists-are-weird thing, I felt a bit embarrassed at first about acknowledging to Pirate that this is where my interest seemed to be leaning. He's been great about it, though, and took to green smoothies with enthusiasm. "Shit, you mean I'm getting half a bunch of kale in this banana-almond butter-cacao smoothie that tastes delicious? Pour me more!" And he's found himself ordering salads more often, of his own free will, and suggesting that we make salads at home for dinner. He's also become the morning smoothie-meister, making me a thermos (or two) of green smoothie to take to work with me every morning. Big warm fuzzies, on top of a thermos of cold smooth fruities. *grin* (I am so lucky to have him in my life, for all that he makes me want to bang my head against the wall on a fairly regular basis.)

His attitude, as he has expressed it, is basically, "My center of gravity will probably always be hamburger-and-fries. So if you want to tug it more towards the salad-and-vegetables end, probably for the better."

And then we watched the movie Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days (which is, of course, available to view online) as well as the extended interviews with various experts.

Okay, Pirate and I are both big sappy mooshes, so it's no surprise that we were both cheering for the participants as the movie went along — and I, at least, got weepy at the end. But you don't have to be a sappy moosh to be impressed by the fact that all the Type II diabetics who stuck with the program (four of five; one dropped out) reversed their diabetes — they got off insulin and had blood sugar levels and other lab test levels that say "you don't have diabetes" — and the Type I diabetic reduced his insulin from 70 units a day to 5 (despite — spoiler warning! — possibly having drunk regularly throughout the 30 days).

And then to find that one of the people identified as a Type II diabetic was, upon close review of his past medical records, actually a misdiagnosed Type I all along — who got off insulin and had normal blood sugar and other lab readings... wow. Pirate has found himself returning to something Morgan Spurlock said in his interview (misquoted from memory): "If you'd be willing to make this kind of change if you were diagnosed with cancer or some other fatal disease, why not make it now, before you get cancer?"

So, yeah. Raw food. For me it's feeling so right, so natural, so this is the way I want to be going, this is the direction all signs are pointing, this is it. For Pirate it's much more I know this is the right, healthy choice, and I'm going to work to find ways to find it enjoyable. Poor guy, he was veg-averse when we met and it's been an uphill struggle from there. But he's willing (as Cheri Huber says, "Willingness is what's there when you don't want to") and I'm doing my best to find recipes he'll find not just tolerable, but actually tasty.

I started a blog on Tumblr a little while ago, to collect interesting-sounding recipes, links to relevant articles, appropriate quotes, etc. I thought it would be mostly a personal reference, but to my surprise and pleasure it's up to 49 followers to date. Please come check it out: Raw Right Now.

It's an interesting and unexpected place to find oneself in.
14th-Nov-2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
It does have the 'coming out' feeling to it, doesn't it? As long as you enjoy it and don't have the militant attitude it's just a good thing. I was only able to eat at Cafe Attitude once- I enjoyed the food, but couldn't take the atmosphere. I'm going to check out your blog and try something new. :)
14th-Nov-2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
Oh good heavens, I so relate, as I'm confident you understand. I was willing to be a lot more out on my journal, but I'm still too embarrassed to be seen drinking a green smoothie at work.

Daniel (who is sort of Spiritualmonkeyesque), on the other hand, has no qualms about getting all green smoothie on anybody's ass. The day we met, I was enjoying a green smoothie between dives... Ah, SCUBA.

If you haven't yet been turned on to Freshtopia, I hope you'll enjoy Tanja and the late Oscar as much as I do. Their Flaxploitation episode is one of their most popular; it is easily the most entertaining flax cracker recipes i've yet encountered.

My favorite episode, though, is Kale With Cellular Apoptosis. It's just a massaged kale salad, but it's got lots of vitamin A, C, K, and skkkkkkt. Heh. Oh, Oscar. We miss you so.

Edited at 2010-11-14 04:16 pm (UTC)
14th-Nov-2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
Your imitation of Pirate in Cafe Gratitude made me LOL. :-)

It really is remarkable how different I feel/think/look depending on what I'm eating.

14th-Nov-2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
If anyone from out here disses you about liking raw food, remind them that most people in the rest of the country thinks Californians are weird freaky drugged out hippies. Then remind them that most of California thinks of the Bay Area in that same way.
15th-Nov-2010 11:15 pm (UTC)
And this is way off topic, but: how did you convince Pirate to start on the smoothies, and are there any other particular sources of recipes you would recommend? Pretty soon someone is going to have some nasty gum surgery and will be on a "don't chew" diet for several weeks. I'm thinking "just buy tons of fruit" but that will get boring after a while, and she's not big on bitter greens...
17th-Nov-2010 04:37 am (UTC)
As I recall, I said, "Hey honey, I've been reading about these things called green smoothies and they sound like a great way to get a lot of vegetables down without even noticing them. Just what we both need. Let's try some." He's been surprised and pleased at how much kale (chard, beet greens, romaine, bok choy) it's possible to hide in a smoothie. You do want to avoid the really bitter or strongly-flavored ones like radicchio or arugula, unless you like that kind of thing.

I think your instincts about plain fruit getting boring are sound. (It might also be a bit roller-coasterish in terms of blood sugar effects, it occurs to me.) We started out just improvising, which was tasty at first but got a bit tedious after a while. I've been looking for more recipes — here are a couple:
http://rawrightnow.tumblr.com/post/1577356903/maple-pecan-green-smoothie (this one is EXCELLENT)

If you google green smoothie recipe (or just smoothie recipe) you'll probably come up with a lot of possibilities. Here are some more that I've bookmarked:
http://www.choosingraw.com/low-sugar-treats-to-savor/ (almond smoothie, chai coconut smoothie)
http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs089/1101546573950/archive/1103347843485.html (lemon meringue pie smoothie, banana-fig-ginger smoothie)
http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs089/1101546573950/archive/1102876667147.html (ginger-pear-parsley smoothie)

This isn't exactly a smoothie, but it sounds tasty and has cherries (very healthy): http://hi-rawkus.com/recipe/cherry-bang/

On the off chance you have a juicer: http://www.choosingraw.com/you-ask-i-deliver-my-top-ten-favorite-juice-recipes/

And if she starts to suffer from a surfeit of sweetness, there are savory options too:

Chia pudding might be a nice change of pace. Get ground chia, or grind it in a clean coffee grinder first, so it'll be nice & smooth. There are lots of recipes for chia pudding out there, but this is one I've been meaning to try: http://www.choosingraw.com/omg-i-made-a-dessert/

And if you have a food processor, apparently the entire raw and health-conscious blogosphere was all aswoon over banana soft serve ice cream (ingredient: banana). http://www.choosingraw.com/this-post-will-change-your-life/

Oh, and another thought — if she's on opiate painkillers after the surgery, the green smoothies will help at least a little with the usual opiate-related digestive issues (all that insoluble fiber from the veggies is good for one's intestines).
19th-Nov-2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
Awesome -- thanks to both of you!
17th-Nov-2010 05:01 am (UTC)
-Put the greens (Lexi mentioned good ones in her reply, also spinach), pitted prunes, pitted dates, and whole nuts in first. Start slow with a little bit of liquid and get them going, then let them run for a couple of minutes and get chopped down hella fine before adding the rest of the ingredients. too much liquid and they just whirl around. You want thick, fluid slurry vortexing through the blades.

Unless you have a Vita-Mix or something on that level, then just blink (from what I hear).

-Thick leaf spines can be pulled off before blending. Unless you have a vita-mix.

-Freeze ripe bananas, then throw one per smoothie into the blender. We also freeze almond milk in an ice tray to use.

-Hemp powder. 1 or more tbsp/smoothie. Best stuff in the world.
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