Why Raw?

February 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been going on a lot lately about raw food, raw recipes, and all things wholesome and uncooked. But why exactly? What is the raw food movement, and why go to such lengths to ‘un-cook’ foods that we so unconsciously associate with being heated and prepared to be digestible?

The whole approach is still quite controversial, with die-hard raw-foodists stipulating foods should not be heated above 115F or 46C in order to retain their living enzymes and nutritional value. They refer to cooked foods as ‘dead’ and fresh, raw produce as ‘living’ – this is because there are digestive enzymes in raw food which are denatured and destroyed in the heating process. Things like Kirlian photography show an energy force around raw produce that is not apparent in ‘dead’ foods, and people who have converted to the uncooked lifestyle rave about how energetic, healthy and alive they feel.

On the flip side, there is opposition to the raw food movement from people who believe we have evolved to digest cooked food, and also the claim that enzymes are denatured in our stomachs and intestines as we digest our meals anyway. Of course, there are always people who love to tell vegetarians and vegans that they will become deficient in some vitamin or mineral, and my favourite being you won’t get enough iron! You know what? Since becoming a vego, my iron levels have actually gone up (as I was told last time I went to give blood, whereas before I was borderline anaemic). You can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from a vegan diet if you are eating lots of grains, leafy greens, and superfoods like Spirulina.

But what about raw food specifically?

You know, I’m really not sure if I could go 100% raw, and at the moment I am advocating moderation in trying to include raw meals when I can, but still enjoy some cooked ones too. Also, it’s important to remember that what works for one person may not be right for the body and constitution of another.

That being said, I am definitely feeling the benefits of things like green smoothies and raw veggies and salads, which are things everyone can include so easily.

There is also so much creativity in the way raw meals are prepared, like this raw lasagne, and I am only scraping the surface of a world of amazing methods to prepare and present raw foods – it’s definitely food art in many cases.

So do some research on raw food, and give it a try! If nothing else, raw food promotes a greater engagement with the produce we are consuming, and eating things in their living, natural state is a really nice inclusion in any diet.

What do you think? Have you had any experiences with raw food?

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Think positive!

February 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ll be honest, today has been a terrible day! But there are always positives, so let’s focus, focussssss, on the nice things that were!

Early morning walk. It feels so good to accomplish something before you’ve even had breakfast, and although i’m never at my fittest or most energetic at this time, it truly is a calming start to the day.

Morning walks always turn me into a hungry beast, so I went home and devoured…no, not a big bowl of phlegm (I know what you’re thinking!)…but another Love Veggie’s and Yoga breakfast concoction. This time it was Overnight soaked oats with Chia, Natural Peanut Butter, banana & almond milk. My raging morning sweet-tooth also demanded that I add agave to the mix as well – another yummy alternative to my porridge (though nothing beats it!).

Mid-morning snack was the flax-crackers with sliced tomato and avocado. This is EXACTLY how they were born to be eaten! So much better than when I tried too many flavours yesterday – this was simple, and divine.

Then I went about adapting another one of Averie’s recipes that you can check out here. It’s for vegan coconut banana cookie bites. Sounds delectable, right? Well for my own, getting-low-on-supplies experimento version, I used the following:

1 ripe banana

1/2 c of wholegrain self-raising flour + 1/2 c whole raw almonds (that I blended to make ‘almond flour’)

1/2 c coconut flakes

1/2 c combo of natural peanut butter & walnuts

2 generous T’s of coconut oil

1 t natural vanilla extract

1 t cinnamon

1 T agave (probably could have used more, depending on your tastes)

Method:

Combine all ingredients either in a blender, or really well by hand. Drop small patties onto sheet of baking paper and bake for 20 mins at around 180 degrees c – this is up to you though, I haven’t quite perfected it yet!

I found them really yum! Not too sweet but they taste hearty and smell amazing!

Conclusion: good food day – shite life day!

New house; new recipes.

February 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

As promised, i’ve stepped my game up with recipes and am excited to share some hot and some not-so-hot experiments with you all! I’m feeling better and better everyday with the inclusion of vegetable juices and my Spirulina and Chlorella, and despite having a bit of a skin breakout this last week, and also becoming slightly ill with a head-cold thing, I still feel like it’s my body reacting to stress rather than unhealthiness. In fact, even though i’ve had a ‘cold’, I haven’t had to miss work or stay in bed or anything lame like that – i’ve still felt pretty awesome except for that pleasant nose-like-a-tap phenomenon!

Raw fooding is also coming along nicely! The other day I ate raw up until dinner time, unheard of! I’m a little worried though about maintaining the right balance with food, because as I mentioned i’ve been feeling like I need to eat less (or, less ‘heavy’ options) but there is still a point where you eat too little and leave yourself open to evil suggestions! Tonight I didn’t eat enough for dinner, and succummbed to my flatmate’s mum’s chocolate slice that has been sitting in the fridge for going on three days, untouched. 3 days! We have a house rule that if you fail to consume tasty treats within a set time frame, they are fair game… and i called it! We all have weak moments, I certainly still do, but it’s important not to feel guilty and get back on the big, veggie-powered horse.

Random tangents aside, here is a new breakfast option that I tried from the marvellous food blog Love Veggies and Yoga. I thought I should extract myself from the clutches of hot porridge and try this recipe for overnight soaked Chia & coconut oats.

Turned out really well, scrumptious in fact. I used pretty much the same recipe as Averie, however I didn’t have ‘vanilla almond milk’, only plain, so just added agave to sweeten in lieu of that (and Stevia – still haven’t accepted the aniseed aftertaste). Also used dried peaches instead of mango – it would have been better with the mango but I was too cheap to buy it at the time! Added banana too, of course. Have to get my daily fix!

Very exciting too is my Kale discovery. I’ve run out now of course – no fresh produce lasts more than a couple of days under my salivating gaze (can a gaze salivate?) BUT i found it to be really palatable in green monster smoothies, my favourite being:

kale leaves

cucumber

celery

banana

nectarine

spirulina & chlorella

So energising and full of lifey-goodness!

Also made hummus the other day with less chickpeas and added zucchini – made a really tasty, lighter form of the spread. I had it on the last of my delectable pumpkin & macadamia sourdough.

Update on my favourite avocado pasta-sauce recipe – today I added fresh coriander, and heavenly heavens it was the proverbial, metaphorical, and not-quite-literal shiz.

Excitement city! I attempted to create raw-flax crackers in my oven (on the lowest setting of course to simulate a dehydrator)…and by ‘create’, I mean, accomplished! Improvised recipe:

2 cups whole flaxseeds

2 cups water (filtered if you can)

1/4 cup tamari

sea salt

minced fresh herbs (I used coriander & parsley)

minced red capsicum (as much/little as you like)

Method:

Soak flax for at least 1.5 hours in the 2 cups of water. It will be a gelatinous, gooey blob after a couple of hours.

To this I added the Tamari, sea salt, minced herbs & capsicum & combine.

Spread over a sheet of baking paper on a tray – mine ended up being about 1/2 cm thick.

Place in oven (if you don’t have a dehydrator) on the lowest setting with the door ajar for as long as it takes for the layer to become all dehydrated and stuck-together lookin’. At this stage I cut mine into smaller cracker-sized pieces, and flipped to dehydrate the other side.This seriously took all day, but it was supremely exciting and felt very wholesome!

Before:

After (served with ‘bruschetta’ toppings of chopped tomato, capsicum, coriander, olives etc). The flavours were a bit too strong all together – I think i’ll stick to really simple things on these like avocado and tomato because the crackers are quite salty.

More experiments to come!

Sea change.

February 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

We’ve finally moved! The whole water-damage/rental nightmare/squatting catastrophe is behind us and we are left with sparkling new paint and freshly laid, open-for-spillage, foot-friendly carpet! I’ve also got some really exciting new food experiments to share with you, but this post is mainly to justify my temporary abandonment of all things bonne, and all things santé. (If you’ve been wondering, that means ‘good health’ in French, by the way!).

As a housewarming gift, my Mum, the beautiful amazing and generous human she is, bought me the Alessi bird kettle that i’ve been coveting for quite some time. I was thinking of buying it a few weeks ago, but was promptly reminded by Mum that it would be a ridiculously extravagant purchase for a destitute student type, and I should really think about whether I wanted to spend in excess of $200 on a kettle merely for it’s aesthetic orgasmicness. I was also starting to wonder how great it is for me to be boiling water in a crummy old plastic kettle everyday, that looks to be on it’s last legs. Anyway, she is completely fantastic and now my pretentious whim of possessing designer kitchenware is a shiny, whistling reality.

The specimen of lust:

My very own:

Some pics of my new room…Hub of organisation:

SO HAPPY with my room! Light and bright and aaaaaiiiry!

Lamby & Totoro sleeping on the bed (which doesn’t have pillowslips yet…oops). Hayao Miyazaki fans will appreciate the Totoro plush! And I made Lamby out of two old socks, and sewed sleeping eyes on him so it’s a bit of running joke that he has narcolepsy…and everyone has to be careful ‘not to wake Lamby’. Needless to say, Lamby is probably everyone’s favourite flatmate.

Well there you have it! Not so much relating to health, but I guess a change can make you feel like a new person (to resort to the old cliché)! I’ve been using our gas-stove & oven to create some amazing things today, and even un-cook some raw recipes, so stay tuned for recipes and ideas to come very soon! I hope everyone is feeling this happy and healthy right now, life is good!

Found: local growers markets!

February 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

I am as excited as a skinny vegan with a big, lentil pie right now (thought the fat kid/cake analogy needed updating)! I’ve been hunting around for some decent produce markets because although I buy all my fruit & veg from this awesome green grocer, I don’t think it’s organic. You might wonder why people go on and on about the organic thing – I know I did. It’s almost become a bit of a marketing ploy to whack it on the label and people instantly think ‘health-food’. Well, in that sense I think it’s a bit overused, but basically organic foods have been grown to a set of approved standards in which no artificial fertilizers or pesticides have been used. It is also anti-GM and aims to farm produce in an ethical, environmentally conscious way.

Now that i’m having so many juices and fresh fruits & veg, I want to make sure that i’m not inadvertently ingesting chemicals or pesticides that have been sprayed on the produce, and I also want to support local growers and eco-friendly practices!

I went to some markets at Bondi Junction last week, but they were pretty shameful – there were a couple of f & v stalls, all of which were proudly displaying signs that read ‘NOT CERTIFIED ORGANIC’. Why even bother?! Today though, I went to the ones at Fox Studios. OH MY GOD they are so amazing! I spent waaaaaaay more money than I should have, but I just can’t say no! In that sense, markets are really not the most economical mode of shopping for me, because as soon as I ask the price I feel obliged to buy it anyway in my supremely assertive way!

This is the loot I came home with:

My flatmate LOVES pasta and pesto..ha. So I bought her this organic, fresh pasta with pesto to boot.

Macadamia and pumpkin bread….I’ll get back to cutting back on wheat once i’ve devoured this beauty.

Vegan pies, amazing!

I finally found Kale! I’ll be adding this to my vege juice today and telling you how it goes!

Little organic naaaaaanies.

Corn! I love corn to death – I know people avoid it sometimes because it’s one of those ‘bad’ vegetables that has big scary carbs, but if I want to enjoy a huge steamed cob of it, I will! And I love putting corn kernels in veggie patties and stir-fry – and even vegetable pastas. I’m definitely pro-corn!

Oh how I love buying fresh food…next week though, i’ll be ready to score some bargains as opposed to buying every tasty treat in sight. I’m such an impressionable shopper…!

I would highly recommend seeking out some growers markets in your area because it’s a really rewarding experience to carry your little enviro-bag around, laden with fresh, clean produce and chat to the stall owners. For those in Newcastle, there are some excellent ones at the showground every Sunday that are well worth a look.

Peace out!

The first failed smoothie…!

February 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

I just got back from an awesome run – I haven’t been doing anything too intense lately, mainly walking and relaxing, but you know that feeling when out-of-the-blue you become a superhuman triathlete for no apparent reason? That might be a bit of an overstatement, especially for me because I am the worst runner in the world, but even so I felt really strong and fit this morning. I’m putting this down to my breakfast which was the usual porridge but with cacao added to make it ‘chocolate’. Cacao has a lot of magnesium and i’ve found before that taking magnesium before a run helps with stamina. So that was a powerhouse brekky…and also loving the new addition of Spirulina and Chlorella to my day. Is it possible that they’re working after only 3 days? Probably not. But i’m going to claim it.

There is also a really strong Southerly wind today that is making it feel wintery – there is definitely a change in the air! The beach was quiet as, and I remembered why I like it in Winter on account of the absence of 50 billion tanned, oiled beach-goers. It was nice to have it almost to myself.

I got home and downed this green smoothie.

More of a tasty treat than anything, with orange, apple, cucumber, celery and S & C.

It was a reward well overdue from yesterday’s efforts when I successfully made liquid vomit whilst trying to cut down on fruit in my veggie juices. It wasn’t SO bad, but the beetroot, parsley, carrot, celery, cucumber, rocket, small portion of orange, brazil nuts and S & C tasted about as good as it looked…

Also made this salad yesterday that needs some tweaking, but it was rather colourful and photogenic. It had chickpeas, grated carrot, cucumber, tomato, mint, parsley, red onion, capsicum, rocket, cumin, lemon juice, S&P and a bit of agave for sweetness. Hmmm…..another iffy creation. I’ll work on some tastier recipes soon!

Must dash to work now, and even though that’s a drag…there is good energy in the air and I feel excited for no real reason. Do you ever get like that? Good things are in store for this year!

Happy home times; exciting new purchases; first raw meal concoction.

February 14, 2010 § 4 Comments

Apologies in advance for the length of this post! I’ve had a full-on couple of days in which i’ve set some goals for my health, and also bought exciting new super foods, or ‘weird shit’ as my flatmate would call them (!!) to add to my pantry.

I went home to my Mum’s yesterday, and it was soooo nice to be there, if only for a day! You know that feeling when you go back to your parents place and everything is so new and pristine and…habitable. Ha, totally making it sound like I live in a slum, but right now with all our boxes and half-packed, half-spewing-out-onto-the-floor crap lying everywhere, it’s nice to be part of a working household!

We went to the organic growers markets in Newcastle this morning…I so wish there was an equivalent in the Eastern Suburbs (that I knew of) because it’s really nice to chat to the people who actually grow the produce, learn where it comes from and even how long ago it was picked.

Mum bought this glorious bunch of fresh roses from a nice old man. What a luxury, having flowers in the house!

The sweetest-smelling pineapples in the world.

Little organic carrots – cute!

Old-school hanging bunch of garlic.

Portobello mushrooms. Huuuuge! think of what you could do with these babies..

Calm leafy balcony goodness.

Apart from the joy of being back home, the past week or so i’ve been in a pretty bad place in terms of feeling stressed, gross and disorganised. I might have mentioned that my skin has had a bit of a breakout which is unusual for me now…needless to say, I hate having bad skin seeing as the whole facial package is already offensive enough! So feeling gross and oily with the humidity, hating on my hair which desperately needs a cut and some blonde action (to combat my inner ranga) and all our shit is everywhere in the apartment and I tend to think that the state of your living quarters can reflect/inform your life in general – ie. it’s a MESS!

Was really bummed when I went to my friend’s 21st last night and just felt like i’d been smacked around by Chris Brown with the ugly stick – I hate going out and being preoccupied with your appearance, so vain and useless. So I made the decision then and there (after i’d dealt with the birthday cake/cupcakes) that I would really really focus on my diet for skin reasons (even though i’m sure this breakout is a temporary side-effect of stress + humidity) and try to get more raw food into my day as well.

Also thought of some other things to try & achieve:

  • Eat less fruit (i know, i know, sounds weird right? But actually you can eat too much as fruit still contains fructose which is a sugar, and you shouldn’t be eating 10 servings a day, which I have been known to do…)
  • Focus on vegetables and try not to include carbs in every meal.
  • Keep up with my veggie juices adding Spirulina and Chlorella (NEW PURCHASES!!!!) for extra butt-kicking action.
  • Eat minimal dairy & wheat (already do this anyway, but good to be mindful)
  • Try to eat 1-2 raw meals a day; expand repertoire of raw food ideas.

Phew, feels good to have a plan of attack!

So here is my precious Spirulina and Chlorella that I bought this afternoon. NOT CHEAP, that’s why I haven’t been getting them before this, but the health benefits are way too amazing to ignore and i’m going to see what the difference is after a few months.

AND just before I go: my lunch – a big bowl of RAW pasta made from zucchini, carrot and that avocado sauce from a couple of posts ago.

You can even twirl it on your fork like real spaghetti!

And let’s not forget the purple monster veggie smoothie that was afternoon tea:

WOAH you guys are thinking that looks pretty unappetising right now…just a hunch. I love how it’s bubbling like a big cauldron of goo! But really, to me it actually tasted really good. Better than normal even, and it was a mix of; beetroot, apple, orange, cucumber, celery, carrot, brazil nuts, spirulina and chlorella.

Feeling better already! Off now to do the anti-Valentines day Valentines day thing with my b/f. Well, i guess it would be more non-conformist if we didn’t see each other at all, but i’m sure we can have a big fight or something, or stay in and watch horror movies and stick it to the commercial, cheesy, lame day! Happy boycotting to you all!

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