Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekend Prep

So it's Saturday, which means I have to do all the stuff that I have been planning to do or at least thinking about doing all week. First, it was get my butt to the gym where I did 45 minutes on the cross-trainer. I finally have an iPod, which made this so much more of a Zen-like experience than it has been. I feel like time goes by a lot faster and more peacefully if my eyes are closed and I'm zoned into the music. If you walked by an eyes-closed person on the cross-trainer would you stop and think, what a weirdo? I decided that I'm going to not let what people think bother me as much as I've let it bother me in the past, so I decided to just go with it.

I got home and made really great juice. It's a shame that the color doesn't always match the goodness. Behold my brown juice:

A big bunch of beet greens
Granny Smith apple
3 or 4 carrots
1/2 of a cucumber

Eventually I got on to preparing a couple things for this coming week. First, a re-make of something I created last week but didn't think to capture with pictures. I still had all the ingredients, and it was so good that there really wasn't any reason not to make it again. I got the idea from a macaroni salad I used to make, which was awesome. I have to give it credit because of how fantastic and simple it was. Here's my version:

Fiesta Salad
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 of a red onion
2 ears of raw sweet corn cut off the cob

Combine all these into a bowl, and add sea salt, black pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. I didn't measure these, just add to taste. You could really just leave it at that, but I added in 1/4 cup salsa --

No, it's not raw, but the ingredients are great - ripe tomatoes, fresh jalapeno peppers, fresh onions, fresh tomatillos, fresh serano peppers, apple cider vinegar, fresh cilantro, fresh parsley, fresh garlic, sea salt, spices. All actual foods. I didn't see much harm in it. You could always use raw, homemade salsa if you want.

The finished product!

Finally, something I've been meaning to make for a while now but am just now getting around to it -- Gena's sweet cashew cheese. I haven't actually sat down to eat some (meaning I just licked the spoon and got the remains from the food processor) but it's so so so good. Check out that link for her recipe and a picture, which is prettier than anything I could take.

That's all I think...minus the fact that I'm going to Grezzo tonight :) No more eating my delicious food so I can be hungry for their more-delicious food.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sushi, Detox, and Good Things

Today was supposed to be a 4-hour work day -- EASY. So easy that I figured I could eat breakfast, work from 8-12, go to the gym, then come home for lunch. I brought with me 2 bananas and two honeybell oranges. It ended up that 4 hours at work turned into 7, and I still went to the gym (it's a miracle!). Needless to say, I ate most of my fruit before I got home, saving only one honeybell because I learned my lesson yesterday that you should not peel and eat the juiciest fruit on earth in your car while driving.

I came home and threw together a sushi-type dinner in about 10 minutes. In a raw nori sheet, I rolled up some of my sunflower & carrot pate from the other day, sliced avocado, and some of these pickled ginger carrots since they seemed to go with the Asian theme --

I have to admit that I did overdo the ginger carrots, but I was hungry enough not to care. Here's the sushi alongside my dish of Nama Shoyu.

Totally simple to make. It might have been slightly more difficult if I'd tried to make all the pieces beautiful, but as you can see, I did not. I was starving! Afterward I ate frozen (well, slightly thawed) strawberries with raw chocolate sauce. Mm full and happy.

I wanted to say a little bit about detox. Everyone's detoxing symptoms are different. I heard of some people not getting any at all, which is pretty awesome for them. Either their bodies were really efficient at getting any kind of toxins out of their systems or they just ate really healthily and didn't allow anything to build up. I find that the latter would be more likely. If someone wasn't eating healthy and then decided to go raw, there would be some feeling awful in store.

For me, the first thing (obviously) was a caffeine withdrawal headache. This lasted for about three days. I expected this one. The next thing I noticed, that I did not expect, was intense allergy-like symptoms. Itchiness of my nose and eyes, eye tearing, sneezing, congestion. The interesting thing was, nothing in my environment had changed. I was still living with my cats and dogs, but they only really affect me when I pet them and rub my eyes, or sleep on a pillow that my cat was sleeping on earlier. This was different, and I had a symptom that I'd not experienced before with a cold or allergies. When all the itchiness left and I wasn't really sneezing anymore, my nose ran. And ran and ran and ran. This went on about 3 or 4 days too. It was really annoying; however, when I did some googling and found out this was TYPICAL, I think I sighed in relief. Detox sucked, but the body is very cool in how it handles things. It also made me feel bad that this all could've happened years sooner if I stopped eating all the processed food and junk.

I also had very bad acne to start out. They say toxins find their way out however they can, and mine decided to exit through my face. Awesome. Thanks. That seems to be the one ongoing thing. My skin's a billion times better now (almost 2 months raw) but I'm now making sure to take care of my skin even more and supplement with Vitamin D. They say Vitamin D (along with helping the absorption of calcium) can reduce inflammation and make skin healthier. Think of what your skin looks like when you've been in the sun for a couple hours. Starting this supplement made me feel a lot better and helped my skin out a ton. I was tested before and I was deficient (severely, actually) and I knew that without any sun exposure in the winter, I was again. I'm also taking a Vitamin B supplement because I know there are few if any natural/raw sources of B12. Vitamin B3, or niacin, is also helpful to combat Raynaud's, which I have pretty bad this winter. More on that another time.

At this point, since I still am so new to eating raw, I expect more changes to come along in the future. Some say that it can take anywhere from 6 months to a few years to be fully "cleansed," but I'm not going to worry about the time frame. I have a habit of trying to fix everything all at once, but I need to just let go a little and let things happen.

Good Things
1) I did lose weight. I may have gained a pound or two back, but as long as I feel good and look nice I don't really care about numbers. Ok, yes I do. But they're allowed to change a little here and there.

2) My anxiety, which I've suffered with for a long time, has drastically lessened. This could be a raw food thing, but it's very likely that [mostly] getting rid of caffeine had a lot to do with it. I did have a soy latte today, which is *not* raw. C'est la vie.

3) My allergies really are going away. I'm serious. I had a peanut allergy for nearly all my life. No, I haven't eaten peanuts to see if that's still around, but I used to get a very itchy throat from the nuts that were "manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts and" blah blah blah. This is the reason I really tried to avoid all nuts in the past. Lately I've been incorporating them into a lot of the things that I eat, and I haven't gotten an itchy throat in weeks and weeks. Plus, I'm living with a cat. Not a Siberian like my two semi-hypoallergenic cuties below --

No, I'm living with a big, fluffy, allergy cat (a roommate's). And I'm fine. It'll be a real test when allergy season rolls around because I was affected by nearly all the pollens.

If you've read this far, thanks for sticking around. If you've read this far and have been in the raw blogging community for some time, I'd really appreciate you linking people over to me. It would be really awesome having support, especially since I have no real-life raw people in my life. (Not yet anyway. Just wait til I move to San Francisco. More on that another time, too.)

I'm also on twitter if anyone would like to follow. @loricushner (my name, very original).

Oh look, it's almost 8pm. Nearly bedtime. Little did I know that turning 24 means I'm going to start going to bed at the same time as a 3 year-old.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Et cetera

This post is a random compilation of random raw things I have been doing and making. No real point. But there will be a couple pictures.

Let me start out by saying that, unfortunately, organic dark chocolate is one item that my body readily accepts. This isn't a raw food, but you can find some without any animal products, and sometimes chocolate is just necessary. Yesterday I ate a whole bar. I don't plan on doing that month.

Since today is my cram-everything-possible-in day, I start at the beginning by having a breakfast that I can feel really good about. This morning it was a mango-spinach smoothie (that's one mango, two big handfuls of spinach, lots of coconut water, and a squirt of agave nectar).

I have to be honest and say I have no idea what or where Deerfield Academy is, and I've never participated in their chorus, but I'm living in a very temporary apartment arrangement, and this roommate's stein was the perfect size for my smoothie. And so it goes. Pretty though, right?

Below is what I spotted on my way out of the kitchen, smoothie in hand. My mom was really sweet and sent me potentially the best fruit on earth, the honeybell. They're also called tangelos, hybrids of tangerines and pomelos. Personally I don't love and avoid at all costs all GMO's, but these were sent as a gift, and they're delicious. Plus, they do have all the nutrients of fruit, so I can't feel that bad. Thanks mom, I'll make an exception, especially because they're the juiciest, sweetest fruits I think I've ever tasted.

Here they are in the foreground, next to that giant onion, and probably crushing that poor banana. You'll notice my roommates are all about accessible food on the kitchen table. Just noting that so you don't think I've found some genius way to make raw food jellybeans.

I also, in attempt to create meals later in the week, made a Carrot & Sunflower Seed Pate (recipe here). I have to say, I'm not enthralled. I have a feeling I'll add more spices later and see what happens. And definitely some salt, despite the nama shoyu I added for the soy component. Meh.

Finally, (and not raw-food related,) I got my hair cut and dyed. Winter + my highlights + fair skin were not working together. Ta da --

Friday, January 22, 2010

Kelp Noodles...hmm

Behold, the strangest raw food I've come across --the kelp noodle. Curly, clear, tasteless, almost calorie free, gluten free, free of nearly everything. It is, however, a natural source of iodine, and I'll give it a little bit of credit. The texture was what prompted me to deem it the strangest raw food (thus far). You'd look at it and think, oh fun, a naturally occurring noodle that's clear. Then, you get a couple on your fork to try. You bite down, and instead of effortlessly doing so, there's a clicky-feeling crunch. Only a small one, because the noodles are small, but keep in mind there are many little clicks if you're chewing more than one noodle at once. Anyway, neat idea, sea. I used almost 1 package and have one to go, and do not think I'll be making any more kelp noodle recipes after that.

That said, I topped my noodles with a Cashew Alfredo Sauce, which was actually good --

Blend in food processor:
1 cup cashews, washed and soaked
2 TBSP nutritional yeast (It was my first time using this stuff too. The jury's still out.)
2 tsp light miso
pinch dill weed
1 TBSP onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 small bunch cilantro
1 tsp lemon juice
Water to make a creamy consistency

I also mixed in a fresh tomato seasoned with sea salt and black pepper because despite the kelp technically being a vegetable, I wanted some more veggies in this meal. Clear, tasteless noodles with cashew sauce didn't sound healthy enough for me today :)

I may have messed it up a little in my recreation of that recipe, found here. I didn't have (and dislike) cilantro, so I used a small bunch of fresh dill instead, an herb I LOVE. I also cut this recipe in half since it was just me eating it, so I left out the 1/2 tsp lemon juice because, well, I wasn't going to cut a fresh lemon just for half a teaspoon of its juice. It was a good but very dilly sauce. I'm sure I'll make another "alfredo" soon, but probably not this recipe. I think I can do better. But still, it wasn't bad at all.

Oh, and regarding my photo -- I'm fully aware that I should not be a food photographer. No need to worry.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's hard to say if anyone might've glanced over to read this thing. I'm amused by talking to myself anyway, so this isn't too much of a change.

It's a holiday today (ty MLK), so I have time to play around in the kitchen, hopefully make up some things for the rest of the week, and dilly dally by posting something here.

This morning for breakfast I had some of the best green juice I've ever made. Usually I sit with my juice for about half an hour, sipping slowly. Veggie juice isn't something you typically want to chug. This stuff, however, was: Celery, Spinach, Granny Smith Apple,  Ginger, & Lime.

Then, bored, I made fudgey little macaroons in attempt to 1) use the figs I haven't eaten, which may or may not go bad (do they?), and 2) try to futilely acquire a vita-mix for free via Chocolate-Covered Katie's Vitameata Vita-mix Giveaway.

Inspired by her recipe for Hot Cocoa Fudge Babies, I made my own recipe with the ingredients I had on hand --

1 cup cashews
1 [heaping] cup Turkish figs with those little hard stems removed
3 TBSP raw cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Water to achieve fudgy consistency (probably a couple tablespoons)

Blend all of the above in a food processor, and then take little marble-sized chunks and roll into balls. I used unsweetened coconut flakes to roll them in, hence their looking like macaroons.

Post edited! I got my computer all fixed up (I reset it approximately three times, and now it can read my SD card.) Behold the picture of the pretty dessert:

They turned out tasting kind of like chocolatey Lara Bars, with a fig crunch. (Yum.) My non-raw roommates tried and loved them too. I should set a limit for myself with these because they're too good not to!  That said, I wonder if my new, cheap, dial scale from Target is accurate. It'd be nice to have like a 10 pound weight around for calibration's sake.

Anyway, cross your fingers about the vita-mix. Winning one would be a DREAM, especially because of my non-paying physical therapy rotation that I'm currently on.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Helloo Blogspot

Aha! I've finally found a time to write my first post. Let me start by telling you a little bit about how I live, food-wise. I have been eating high-raw (I don't have a percentage - maybe I'll guess 90%?) since December 3rd, 2009. It's January 17th today, which makes me a newbie I suppose. Not even 2 months raw! I find this suprising even to myself. I have an addictive personality, so if something is on my mind, it occupies it, and my mind has a million thoughts a minute. Plus, think about how often we eat? At least three meals a day? I also tend to graze and not go more than a few hours without munching on something. I'd say that it feels like much longer than a month and a half with all this raw thinking and raw eating every single day.

Let me get to my point-- what do I eat? I'll go meal by meal:


When I'm not living with roommates who would be woken up by a juicer or vita-mix, I'd, well, have juice or a vita-mix smoothie. Usually I'll toss anything and everything into a juicer, but my "base" tends to be carrot, celery, and spinach. I often add in cucumber, tomato, and/or apple.

More recently I've been adding beet and beet greens, and it just so happens to make the most beautiful color ever. The juice in the picture is beet, spinach, carrot, and apple.

In the vita-mix, my favorite of all time is banana and spinach. I just toss in a banana, a few handfuls of spinach, some water, and a few ice cubes, and blend it up. It's simple and amazing. And again, such a pretty color.

Finally, my typical breakfast now that I'm living in the apartment with the morning sleepers -- avocado chocolate pudding with sliced banana. So. Delicious. The pudding is avocado, agave nectar, raw cacao powder, vanilla extract, sea salt, and water.

SALAD. Even before I went raw-vegan, back in my plain old vegetarian days, all I wanted for most meals was salad. I find salads fun, interesting, super nutritious, and I felt good after eating one. Full but not uncomfortably so and happy that I just ingested some of the best stuff in my kitchen. Eating a big salad feels like a big accomplishment. I couldn't say I felt nearly as good after eating something like spaghetti.

My typical salad: [organic] green leaf lettuce, baby spinach, baby carrots, broccoli, tomato, avocado, olives. Less often (but maybe more often than a non-raw type) I'll add sprouts, snow peas, sundried tomato, raisins, almonds, bell pepper, and anything else I've decided to throw in there. Really it's an anything-goes lunch. I haven't yet come around to making raw dressings, so I've been using no-preservative, no-chemical, real-ingredient (& hopefully organic as well) dressings I find at Whole Foods.


I've been mixing it up for dinner, and allowing myself to play around with fun raw concoctions. Since I am relatively new at this, there is still TONS that I haven't tried. It's all very exciting. I allow dinner to have more nutty ingredients since they're heavier and by dinnertime I'm typically done with work, the gym, or anything that requires me to be bouncing around Boston. Tonight I had zucchini pasta with basil pesto, and it was pretty darn good.

Recently I made Gena's Collard Wraps with Italian Pizza Cheese. I think I still have some of that left in the fridge. Mmm. Salads are also a go for dinner. Why not? Raw soups are also some of my favorite things to make. I've even made some raw zucchini hummus and just eaten it with raw vegetables. Maybe that sounds boring, but I was full and happy by the end of that meal. That's all I ask.

Oh gosh. Anything? Trail mix, bananas, clementines, more juice/smoothies, a small salad (I told you I liked salad, sue me), figs, dates, chia pudding (which I have to experiment a little more with). I could go on.

What I've learned so far:
1) I need a shiny, new, expensive vita-mix. My old one is fantastic, but still not cutting it with soups and smoothies. My pineapple spinach smoothie left me slurping up stringy pineapple bits, and I wouldn't dare try to make a vegetable/fruit smoothie with raw carrots. I'd be left busting out the cheesecloth to strain away the bits.

2) Going raw made my system highly sensitive to foods it does not want. A couple weeks ago, I ate a couple raw "chocolate bars" from Whole Foods' bulk bins. They contained fairly normal ingredients like cocoa, dates, coconut, other nuts of some kind, but the whole next day and next night I was throwing up. It was like I ingested poison. Whatever was in there made me violently ill! And it was raw! Same happened when I drank one glass of wine when I was staying over a guy-friend's house. Excuse me while I get sick x 3 after one glass of wine. I have to be very careful!

3) My raw-ness is either a controversy or an inspiration. I realized, even this early on, that you have to do this for yourself and not expect others to support you 100%. My family is not really on board with the raw revolution, and I won't force them to be. I'd rather they stop making fun of me though. If I mind my own business I hope they'll mind theirs; however, I thoroughly enjoy inspiring friends/family to eat more raw, which has already happened to a small degree. I won't preach to anyone that this is the only way to be, but if I can discuss rationally the benefits of this diet to others (without extreme defensiveness, which I have encountered), I'd be happy to.

Again, I could go on. This is already a novel of a blog post. 'Til next time.