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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May Day!

It's May 1 and that means new produce available.  So take a peek at the Seasonal Foods list on this page.  All of a sudden we have a lot of fresh, local foods here in Illinois.  

Can't wait for that first Farmer's Market...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's A Slippery Slope To The Dark Side

Well, I went into this with the best of intentions.  My plan was to eat more of a plant-based, raw diet leading to improved health and to blog about my experiences.  My hope was to receive support, continue with the successes and fun that I was having, as well as provide recipes that others might want to try.  After all, I'm a passionate foodie and foodies love to talk about food and share recipes.  I was loving the raw foods.  I felt great.  I was finding a creative outlet.  I was learning about blogging.  I was exercising.  Friends were posting or telling me that they were enjoying the blog and recipes.  So where have I been for the last 2 months??? 

I can't pinpoint when it started.  I made that raw popcorn several times and was thrilled to have such a healthy snack.  Then I didn't have cauliflower in the house one evening so had some real popcorn (at least it was organic so how bad could it be?).  Then a cup of coffee, 1/2 pound of brie with a baguette, a slice of pizza, mac and cheese, and an Italian beef sandwich.  Let me not forget the omnipresent donuts and coffee cake at work.  You get it, I know - it's a slippery slope.  Next thing I knew I was ordering a slab of ribs and craving fried chicken.  In the meantime I only went to the pool a handful of times.  And I kept forgetting to order my produce from Fresh Picks.  I stopped blogging - why would I want to publicize my disappointing behaviors?  I was tired and not feeling well. (duh!) All the good habits were being replaced by former bad habits.  What the heck happened?

In the meantime, Bruce (who lovingly went out late at night and bought me organic popcorn when I was desperate) has been walking a little for exercise and has lost 14 lbs by eating a bit less at each meal.  Yes, I know men lose weight easier than women do - but his success made me want a cheeseburger and fries.

So, I'm looking for insight.  Some have told me "it's so hard to eat raw".  But it's not - if I plan properly. Others have asked "you love food - how could you give up so much?"  But I really looked at this as an opportunity to have so many different kinds of food.  The foods I was not eating just happen to be the foods that make me feel crummy, therefore unhappy. And the acid reflux returned.  (I did not have a single episode while eating raw.)

In an effort to find insight I had to ask - and try to answer - some questions.
  1. What is really important to me and why?
  2. Why do I have a hard time changing habits? (yes, I'll admit it's a pattern in my life)
  3. Why is food so important to me?
  4. Why do I think that a raw lifestyle is the best approach for me and after a long time dabbling with the idea did I want to commit to this way of eating?
I'm sure there are other questions, but these are enough to tackle for a Sunday morning.  The simple answers are:
  1. Family, friends, health, and work (even though the new Mad Men season just started, it's not really important to my life) are the real priorities.  And, yes, I truly love my work.
  2. I successfully gave up smoking 26 years ago.  Cold turkey.  (I also gave up sleep when our twin girls were born, but I suspect that's a different story.)  So, I know I'm capable of a mighty big change.  I suspect I'm guilty of a little laziness.  But I don't think that's the real reason.  It's always easier to return to the familiar - like being glad to come home after a lovely vacation.    Maybe I tried to change too much, too fast.  I don't think so, but I'm going to try smaller changes.  (Seeing the movie "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" got me thinking about this idea.)
  3. Food makes me happy.  I like the tastes, colors, aromas, textures, and fun.  I show love for family and friends (what's important to me) by preparing something delicious.  And they show love for me by oohing and aahing about the food.  I like the kudos.  It's a perfect symbiotic relationship.  So, if food makes me so happy I should want more of it.  Makes sense to me.  (This is stream of consciousness writing and I think I just hit an AHA moment!)  Maybe it's not the food making me happy but the feelings I have surrounding food?  Hmmm.  I'll have to mull this one over.
  4.  I've been reading about nutrition for years.  I've tried different food lifestyles - sometimes with the hope of losing weight but mostly to improve health.  I'm confident a raw, vegan lifestyle will be best for me.  I can tell by how my body reacts when I eat a higher percentage of raw food.  I've done my research, but nothing matters more than how I feel.  A couple weeks ago my friend Fuji, sent me a gift of Raw For Life: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of the Raw Food Lifestyle.   I haven't even watched all of it yet, but have found it to be a fabulous compilation of ideas and that bit of external motivation that I needed.  Thanks, Fuji!!
 It seems to me that straying off the road just a little gives me permission to stray a little more.  This is my personal slippery road - to the dark side.  I'm back to a goal of 90% raw, but will stick to tried and true recipes.  Maybe one new, exotic recipe on a weekend, or every other weekend, rather than a work night.  Better planning will lead to what I really want - back to the good side.

Off to make a smoothie - I'm back!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Raw Popcorn!! YAY!!

Popcorn used to be my favorite food group.  Yes, I'm kidding.   Well, no, not really.  I love(d) popcorn.  It's a crunchy, warm vehicle for butter.  I even ate it for dinner.  Amanda still remembers a morning when she was about 4 and came downstairs asking "what's for breakfast?"  I asked her what she wanted and she said "popcorn".  And I actually made it for breakfast.  Now, I don't really remember this, but I certainly believe it's something I would do.

So, when I finished this video it took me 30 seconds to get into the kitchen and make it for the first time.  Oh, yum!  And so easy.
 
Recipe:
Ingredients:
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut up
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • nutritional yeast to coat
  • any seasoning you might want to add (Italian blend, cayenne, cajun, etc.)
Put all in a large plastic ziploc bag and shake.  Eat.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Raw Roasting Addiction

I admit that I absolutely love roasted vegetables of all kinds.  And I also have to admit that in the middle of winter, I want some warm food.  So, I had to figure out a way to get both. 

Luckily, a few weeks ago, Fresh Picks delivered some beautiful Brussel sprouts.  These are a favorite winter food and the idea of eating them raw just wasn't very appealing.  So, I started playing.  (In these pictures I used 2 lbs. of Brussel sprouts so it looks like a lot.  The amounts for the marinade are correct for 1 lb. of Brussel sprouts.  You can easily double the recipe if you want.)

Step 1

Step 1.   For 1 lb. Brussel sprouts remove outer leaves.  Rinse, drain and slice thin.

Step 2

Step 2.  Thoroughly mix 1/3 Cup olive oil and 
1/3 Cup nama shoyu (raw soy sauce) OR 1/3 Cup coconut aminos.
Add seasoning if you like.  I added 1 Tbsp. of Italian Seasoning.

Add to the Brussel sprouts.  Stir to coat.

Step 3

Step 3.  Place into a glass casserole or large glass bowl.







Step 4












Step 4.  Dehydrate at 105 degrees for 8 hours.  Stir a few times to make sure all are coated.





After 8 hours the Brussel sprouts will look and taste like they've been roasted in the oven.  Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later.  I didn't get a picture because I couldn't stop eating them long enough to get my camera.  They're great just coming out of the dehydrator or cold by themselves or tossed into a salad.

I've made this 3 consecutive weeks now and will get another batch started tomorrow.  I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.  Easy, delicious and versatile as a side dish.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What Went Wrong? What Went Right? 2-Month Update

My original purpose in starting this blog was to document my move towards becoming raw.  I dabbled in it for a while and very much enjoyed my dabblings in the raw world.  But without making a public commitment, it was more of a hobby.  I made the commitment in mid-December to transition to being a 50-75% raw foodist.  Then on January 1, 2012 , I planned to transition again to 90% (really striving for 100%, but not wanting to defeat myself too often.)  

How have I done?  Pretty good, actually.  I made it through the holidays, cold weather (even a mild Chicago winter makes me want lots of hot, comfort food), restaurants with friends (thanks, friends, for being so flexible for me), and visits out of town.  And I stuck to my 90% - until this past week when I think 50% is my best estimate.  What the heck happened?  Well, Valentine's Day didn't help much.  Cupcakes and candy everywhere I turned.  A couple birthday parties made me forget my goals.  Getting home from work late a couple nights didn't help.  And each time I ate something that wasn't part of my plan, some old programming played in my head.  It said, "well, you messed up the day so you might as well go out and have something you really want for lunch and dinner then get back on program tomorrow."  Like that's ever worked!

So, this morning I am reviewing the last 2 months.  Rather than focus on what went wrong this week, I want to focus on what went right since mid-December.
  • I feel better.  Really and truly.  There is no placebo effect here.  I'm feeling lighter (not just in losing weight) and more focused.  Also, I have not had any acid reflux when I'm 90-100% raw - at all!  So, I'm sleeping better.  I can't really tell if my knee is any better or not. 
  • I'm also really happy.  I have mostly been on a program that makes me feel good and that seems to be the best way for me to eat.  And for the most part, I've shown a discipline that is a stranger in my life - sticking to a healthy way of eating.  I have been purposeful and in control.  It's a good feeling.
  • I am more conscious of my food.  I buy higher quality produce and use all of it.  I have almost no waste.  I'm trying new fruits and vegetables and finding new ways to prepare them.  
  • I appreciate the work that goes into simple, real food.  I'm not eating frozen diet meals or lettuce from a bag (that turns brown in a day or 2).
  • My skin is softer.  Really, I'm not making this part up.  I'm attributing this to better dehydration, but I wonder if there is more to it than just water.
  • I am learning how to swim.  That was one of my goals.  I'm making slow but steady progress.  (Ironic that when I wasn't eating in a healthy way this past week, I didn't go to the pool enough days either.  Why bother? (there's that old programming again)  Big red flag!)
  • I've lost weight.  This is also slow but very steady progress.
So,  I dehydrated lots of kale this weekend.  It's my favorite snack food and great to take to the movies as a popcorn replacement.  I made a delicious juice this morning.  I have lots of beautiful fruit and veggies for the next few days.  I "roasted" brussel sprouts in the dehydrator.  I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to face some Girl Scout cookies this week without any trouble.

What have I learned?  The few days that I was "off the wagon" don't really matter much in the big picture.  They were the aberration rather than the norm.  I'll remember what I like and what makes me feel better than a cupcake.  And I will continue to focus on all the positives rather than beat myself up over any negatives.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Really? Raw Apple Pie? Yes, Really!


I'm not really a dessert person although I've been known to indulge a bit too much sometimes - okay lots of times.  Okay, maybe I'm a dessert person after all.   My question was how to make something that was delicious, raw, simple to make, and appreciated by those in my life who prefer a cooked, carnivorous meal.  I stumbled on Any Phyo's video and have made this several times now.  The recipe fits all of my criteria and everyone has loved it.  Enjoy!

 
             


Ingredients

    Almond Pie Crust

    • 2 cups almonds, dry
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 2 cups pitted dates

    Syrup

    • ½ cup pitted dates
    • 1 oranges, peeled and seeded
    • water, as needed

    Filling

    • 5 cups apples, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced, about 5-6 apples
    • 1 cup raisins or cranberries
    • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions

1. To make crust, pulse almonds and salt in food processor until nuts are in small pieces. You want your crust to have chunks of almonds in it, so don't overprocess. Use some of the finer powder to "flour" the bottom of your pie dish.  Slowly add dates into processor in small batches to mix with almond bits. The dates will bind the almonds to form a dough. Press dough into the bottom of "floured" pie pan. Set aside.

2. To make syrup, place orange into your blender first. Then add dates and blend. If needed, add small amounts of water to help everything mix well (I haven't "needed" this, but like to add the water to make more volume of the syrup). Set aside.

3. To make filling, place sliced apples in a large bowl with raisins. Toss with cinnamon and syrup. Spoon filling into pie crust.

Will keep for two days in the fridge.

For 16 servings, per serving: calories 230, protein 5g, carbs 39g, fat 8g, sugar 21g.

Recipe from Ani Phyo's "Ani's Raw Food Kitchen"
 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Best Salad Dressing - Ever

I love a great salad.  And great to me means top quality, fresh ingredients with a delicious, fresh, home made salad dressing.  Here's my new favorite.


1/2 Cup olive oil
1/2 Cup apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg's raw ACV)
1/4 Cup nama shoyu (raw soy sauce) - you could substitute regular soy sauce if you don't care about being 100% raw
4 - 5 Tbsps. honey (depends on how sweet you'd like the dressing)
1 minced garlic clove
1 Tsp. minced fresh thyme or parsley (or your favorite herb)
1 Tsp. minced fresh ginger
Pinch of cayenne

Shake until combined.  Pour over salad.