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HELP! There's a VEGAN Coming For Dinner!


Raw Food Rant Two

Posted 4/15/2014

In my last blog, I talked about trying a raw food diet as a change from eating Japanese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The challenge I set myself was to make satisfying raw food meals using minimal ingredients and as few gizmos and gadgets as possible. I used a book which claimed I could make meals using 5 ingredients, in 15 minutes or less. As I mentioned in Raw Food Rant One, I was somewhat sceptical!

Day 1 started bright and early, along with the realisation that I should probably have gone grocery shopping the day before. It’s all well and good creating a 5-day menu plan, but if you don’t actually have the ingredients in the house it can be kinda hard to stick to it! Undeterred, I headed off to the freezer and dug out 3 peanut butter-oatmeal-seed balls, which I usually keep on hand for snack-attacks. Oats are not considered “raw food”, but sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. By 10 o’clock I was starving, so it was time to head back to the kitchen. I’d planned on making a Garden Veg Smoothie, and was happy to find the required ingredients sitting in my fridge. I plugged in my old blender, put the lid on and requested that it pureed the contents of the jar until smooth. It looked at me and laughed, so I had to settle for a somewhat textured green smoothie which I green smoothieregarded suspiciously, wondering why I hadn’t simply put the veggies onto a plate and called it a salad. I poured half into a glass and put the other half in the fridge for later, mostly because the colour was less than appealing and I didn’t want to commit to drinking the entire thing in one go. Surprisingly it was quite nice, but not very satisfying, so I retrieved the other half and polished that off too.

By lunchtime I have to admit that the cats’ food was starting to smell good. I fought back my urge to put on the rice cooker by mixing up some parsley dressing to pour over sliced avocado, carrots, red pepper and sliced mushrooms. It was chased down by half a serving of Nutty Apple with Ginger. Mid-afternoon found me with my hand in the bag of oat balls, and the kitchen was filled with the smell of dehydrating kale in preparation for dinner. I’d planned other things for dinner, but actually ended up having a repeat of lunch since I already had the dressing made and a half-portion of nutty apples sitting around. I supplemented it with dehydrated kale and spinach, enviously watching Alan chow down a vegan lasagna from the freezer. In the evening I snacked on roasted seaweed and Japanese pickles, neither of which I believe count as raw food. I drank a glass of blueberry juice (out of a bottle - I don’t own a juicer) and went to bed feeling light-headed from the sugar-rush but virtuous. (Memo - don’t drink sugar just before bed if you actually want to sleep. Stick to whisky as a nightcap.)

parsley dressing

I went grocery shopping on day 2 and stocked the kitchen with fruits, vegetables and raw nuts and seeds. I threw together a fruit and chia seed smoothie (turns out that I don’t like the texture of soaked chia seeds) and munched on dehydrated kale while I mixed up some of the recommended staples such as Thai sauce, curry sauce, sesame humus (it’s chunky but serviceable) and a couple of sweet treats. My blender put in a supreme amount of effort during all this prep work, but it’s totally incapable of creating smooth sauces from nuts. I tried my cracked mini food processor, but all it did was leak, and I had to settle for textured results. By the end of the day I’d consumed a couple of smoothies (I’m so sick of washing my blender!!) and tried two of the corn-based dishes (the salad was OK, but the pureed corn patties were....not). I seemed to have spent most of the day eating, but I never felt satisfied. I didn’t enjoy the sugar-rushes I got from dried fruit, and struggled with the concept of adding 3 tbsp of coconut oil to a fruit smoothie. This new eating plan contains a lot more fat my body is used to, and it’s not happy about it. When Alan and I went to a Meet-up in a pub that evening, the greasy fumes coming off the plate of fries ordered by the guy sitting opposite me made me feel nauseous. I sipped my decaf coffee (not raw, but who cares) and day-dreamed about freshly baked bread, steaming soups, and other low-fat forbidden foods.

I started day 3 with a vegetable smoothie and proceeded to munch my way through the day. I became obsessed with the idea of eating, but didn’t smootherelish the thought of drinking yet another smoothie or chopping yet another vegetable. My body rebelled against the increased amount of fat in my diet, and when I picked up an avocado to add to a salad, I returned it to the bowl unscathed and gave it a foul look. I tried to follow recipes in my raw food book, but very few of them can be made without a high power blender and / or food processor and / or other tools, and very few of them actually only have the promised “5 ingredients”. I spent more time in the kitchen than usual, even though I had pre-mixed dressings in the fridge, and had lost my appetite by the end of the day. I couldn’t stand the thought of another handful of nuts, another sugar-rush fruit smoothie, or another feckin’ sliced zucchini. When we went out to a steampunk gala that evening (it was fab!), I stayed away from the plate of raw veggies on the snack table. I’d rather be hungry than eat one more bleedin’ stick of celery.

By the time day 4 (Sunday) arrived, I was beginning to wonder if I would make it to the end of my 5 day trial without falling off the wagon. Breakfast was a banana-mango-hemp milk smoothie (it’s a shame raw food diets don’t include soy milk - it has much more protein than nut milks), followed by mixed veggies, cashews and Thai dressing for lunch. It tasted OK, but I had trouble eating it - I was somewhat hemp smoothiedistracted by Alan’s steaming, hot, fragrant bowl of faux-meat ramen. In the afternoon Alan and I went to see “The Lunch Box”, which is a lovely movie set in India, following the lives of two people linked together by notes in a lunch box. Every time the man in the movie opened his lunch box and inhaled the aromas, I could smell the spices. The movie finished and I turned to Alan. “Curry?” “Oh yes!” We drove to Tandoori Fusion in Bells Corners where I had a fabulous vegan dinner of aloo gobi, spiced lentils and roti. It was a huge relief to sit down with something hot, spicy and filling. I ate half and took the rest home for lunch the next day. For the first time in four days I felt satisfied both physically and emotionally, and I knew that the raw food trial was over.

So what have a leant from this? Obviously the most significant discovery is that a raw food diet is not the right eating style for me. I’m going to add more raw veggies to my meals, but they will be joined by steaming bowls of lentils, hot or cold bean dishes, and soy-based proteins. I think it will be a long time before I can face eating another nut, but I might add hemp hearts to a salad every now and again. I’ve also leant that cookbooks sometime make promises they can’t keep, and I will be careful to avoid this in my own cookbooks. As for dinner tonight, it’s yellow split pea soup with onions, carrots, celery, garlic and potatoes, with a side salad, I’m joking. There’s no side salad :)

Does anybody (Ottawa area) want a slightly used (there’s writing on some of the pages) raw food cookbook? Free to a good home - but you need to have a high power blender to make the most of it. Let me know if you’re interested!

Karen :)

Footnote: I know somebody is bound to be asking themselves  “But how much weight did you lose on your 4 day raw food diet?” And the answer is ......none at all. My body knows what weight it wants to be, and it’s sticking to it.