Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back to (Mostly) Raw

Last year in the summer time, due to the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and my reading of the Thrive Diet, I was inspired to go raw. I did really well and actually didn't want to eat cookies and junk. I would look at a brownie, and instead of seeing yumminess I only saw a processed fat brick of sugar. Unfortunately I started having gastro-intestinal problems, and I had to go to a specialist. I was convinced I had a parasite. (Don't even bother asking why I thought that.) Anyway, I think all the problems were actually the result of red bell peppers. I was adding them to my daily salads, probably eating one whole pepper a day. As soon as I eliminated them from my diet and upped my probiotic intake, my symptoms vanished. Sadly, I love red bell peppers. It's a lame allergy to have, since they're in everything that seems healthy and yummy. They're in a lot of veggie burgers and mixed vegetable entrees. Since I wasn't sure what was causing it, I also went back to my regular diet and went back to drooling over brownies and cookies.

Last week, in a reverse of last year, I decided to go mostly raw again because of my stomach issues. I've been eating low acid foods for awhile now, and really paying attention to alkalizing and non-alkalizing foods. (Info here, hopefully this link works.) I have been eating more fruits and vegetables and I was finally like, hey I might as well go rawish again. I experienced the good benefits of a raw diet last year too, so it wasn't a complete loss. My skin indeed cleared up, just like they claim. I experienced those weird euphoric bouts of energy. Actually those crazy euphoric states made me realize how healthy eating raw is. If I eat a baked good, I feel the sugar rush, but it's more like my brain going haywire followed by a subsequent crash and feeling like crap. When I ate mostly raw I'd have these surges of energy out of nowhere that would last about 20 minutes and I would feel great. I'd say a sugar rush is a cloudy buzz, my mind doesn't exactly think well and I can hardly focus. During the raw food buzzes I would just feel happy and full of energy. It was weird, and I'm still skeptical of the whole thing, but I can't deny they happened a couple of times.

So what have I been eating? When I wake up I drink 2 - 3 pint glasses of water. I'm always dehydrated in the morning. Then I have my usual smoothie. I make it with either unsweetened soy milk or almond milk with Wyman's Frozen Blueberries, banana, fresh strawberries, Nutribiotic Brown Rice Protein and Acai juice. Lately I've been adding some romaine leaves, since my lettuce finally matured! Aw. Sometimes if I really want to treat myself, I open a can of coconut milk and pour some in. Oh man, it adds fat (good fat) but it is so delicious! To the left is actually a picture of a berry juice concoction. Water or coconut water instead of soy/almond milk. I also added frozen pineapple.

Sometimes I make a green smoothie/juice. Surprisingly I don't find these as enjoyable as the fruit ones. I picked up some kale at the Farmer's Market this weekend. This juice is kale, apple, banana and frozen pineapple. I'll admit it, I totally held my nose when I drank it. But I feel great after drinking it and have lots of energy. (Even though I just decided to skip spin class and continue writing this. Whoops.) I realized now that I probably would have enjoyed it more if I added some agave nectar. Sometimes sweet fruits alone aren't enough for the overpowering green taste. Adding a kale leaf to a fruit smoothie is great because you can't usually taste it.

For lunch I eat a giant salad. I pre-pack a tupperware container with mixed baby greens, walnuts and craisins. I usually bring an apple and strawberries to cut up before I eat my salad. Sometimes I add an avocado, again it adds fat, but it's healthy fat. I can't eat avocados every day like some raw foodists, they make me feel so heavy. Every now and then they are a great treat. My coworkers usually stop into the kitchen if they walk by and see me preparing my lunch. I bought cheap cutting boards from Ikea for work, and the kitchen has a few knives. Every time someone sees my salad they ooh and ahh over it. It's a salad! It's easy! Do it up!

This weekend I discovered the awesomeness of zucchini "pasta". I've seen so many raw recipes for vegetable pasta, and I was always curious to see how it tasted. I finally stopped wondering and did it. Simply peel a zucchini, and then once all the skin is off, continue to peel the zucchini into a bowl. Voila, you have zucchini pasta. For this one I added warmed portobello mushrooms. I fill a skillet with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and add sliced mushrooms. I put the temp on low and add ground pepper and salt, sometimes onion and garlic powder too. This pasta also includes basil and parsley and green beans from my garden! And canned tomato, I hate dealing with tomatoes, so I keep canned unsalted diced tomatoes around.

Yesterday I made pesto from ridiculously aromatic basil from the farmer's market. I made enough for my roommate and I and it was fantastic. He said his mind was blown and he couldn't get over the fact that we were eating zucchini. Try it! You feel less bloated after eating it than pasta, and it's a lot less calories. We decided since pesto is so fattening, the only "healthy" way to eat it was with zucchini pasta.

Portobello roll-ups. I took romaine and basil from my garden, then warmed up some portobello and added a bit of rosemary. These were delicious. Great as an appetizer, or a light meal. If you don't dig wrapping up things with just lettuce, I really love Joseph's Lavash Bread. They're low calorie, soft and delicious. I've been using them to make cucumber wraps too. For those I spread a tablespoon of hummus onto a piece of lavash bread (half of a whole rectangle of lavash bread is one serving), add greens, thinly sliced cucumber, a slice of cheddar cheese and some salt and pepper. I have been eating the cucumber wraps as a break from a daily salad. The cheese isn't that healthy or raw, but it's delicious so whatever.

You know what else is delicious but isn't that healthy or raw? Strawberry shortcake. Hells yea! My roommate baked shortcake and whipped up cream he bought at the farmer's market. For the shortcakes he used strawberry yogurt, and I have to say they came out amazingly well. Like I said, I'm going mostly raw, or rawish. I've been trying to eat at least two raw meals a day and only adding non-raw elements. As long as my meal contains some sort of fruit or vegetable I'm happy.

I've stumbled upon a great blog called Choosing Raw. I love Gena's take on eating raw. She has a great relaxed and realistic approach to eating raw. It's hard to find a raw blog author out there that isn't a bit stuck up when it comes to not eating completely raw. Gena has an encouraging voice and great advice. It's the first raw blog I really enjoy and I've been reading her older entries too. She seems as fascinated as I am by nutrition, and is open to new findings and claims. I love that she's not about following one "raw guru's" advice completely without question. She wants people to find their own path to healthy eating, and I'm all for that too!

Since last year I've found a lot more raw focused sites and blogs out there. It's kind of exploded, and it's great! I'm definitely excited to learn more recipes and read more discussions about raw food, as I find it pretty fascinating. Again, sometimes I think I should have been a nutritionist. I was giving people in my triathlete group some snack ideas the other day. They were really interested in my thoughts on finding natural alternatives to satiate cravings. I was pretty excited by this and was happy to finally be able to give some advice instead of being the newbie always asking for help!

Ohhh. Here's an image if you dare. Friends have been asking me how bad my blisters really were. CLICK HERE but I'm warning you it's pretty gross! (Oh and kind of blurry.)

PS - Hey lurking friends, leave a comment! A lot of people tell me they read my blog but they never comment! You don't have to comment every time, but feel free to leave some love every now and then. It's nice to know I'm not talking to myself on the internets.


Anonymous,  June 21, 2009 at 10:39 AM  

This is really inspiring Heather - you make it sound so easy and the pictures might just inspire me to run to Whole Foods instead of the greasy breakfast I was planning :-)

Krista June 21, 2009 at 10:51 AM  

All of these foods sound soooo yummy! Sorry to hear about the red peppers - I love them too! I think I'm going to try adding just one kale leaf to my regular fruit smoothie - I'm not too keen on the total green smoothies...

hstryk June 21, 2009 at 11:37 AM  

Aww Jillian, thanks! Run to Whole Foods! I wish I still could! Fall 2009 they are opening up one in Milford!!

Thanks Krista! Adding one leaf is a great transition and I highly recommend it. That's how I started, and I got braver and braver with it. Just make sure you blend it a little longer to pulverize the kale!

Renai June 22, 2009 at 11:29 AM  

I just found your blog, and wanted to say HI! So far I love it!

Jason M Hindson June 23, 2009 at 11:10 PM  

Gnarly blister!

I've been considering the bare foot running thing too, but not so much after reading about your experience.

I enjoy your blog, I'm glad I found it.

Anonymous,  June 24, 2009 at 5:02 PM  

These recipes look innovative and tasty however it doesn't look like you're getting enough calories, especially for someone in tri training!

hstryk July 7, 2009 at 5:05 PM  

Finally responding to Anonymous. I've tried eating more calories, and I gain weight very easily. I know it seems like a low amount, and to me it does too but it seems to be working. I never let myself starve, if I'm hungry, I eat, even if it means going "over the limit". On a daily basis though the calorie intake I've decided upon seems to work, and I gain muscle instead of fat.

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