Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Greens make you cute!

Since trying to downsize our life and declutter, I'm not one to buy books anymore on anything diet related, I tend to just find the answers on YouTube. That can be a daunting task - trying to filter out the whacky content, the people who can't speak without swearing, and the people who just really need to take the advice of Thumper's mommy as told to Bambi, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." If Thumper's mommy had a YouTube channel, I would subscribe, because she certainly would know how to prepare rabbit food.

I found a person who posts lots of raw vegan recipes on YouTube, she doesn't swear and she eats lots of healthy foods while keeping on a real person's budget. TannyRaw uses the term "Greens make you cute", which it seems to have done for her. I don't know if cuteness is in reach for me at this point, but I'm hoping at least for a bit more perky. I'm incorporating tons of greens in my diet, and feeling pretty good. In fact, as I go to sleep, I can't wait to wake up and have a green smoothie, even on the cold mornings we've been having. 

The hard part has been gauging how many to buy, because when I get home from produce shopping I can hardly find room in the refrigerator (we have a small one). But then a few days later I'm scrambling to find enough for the dinner salad. Keeping all the scraps has helped, the innards of kale leaves are pretty tough, but the Vitamix doesn't know the difference. And the ends of herbs that were too woody for a salad are also getting thrown in my morning green smoothies. Sometimes Ernst has a hard time choking down the weirder of the concoctions, and yes the radish greens were a bit bitter, but greens are greens, as I'm sure Thumper's mommy would tell him.

Found a ladybug in the organic celery. I let her free, poor cold baby.

Nori wraps are green, right?

Green and blue makes a yummy breakfast.

Dandelion greens.
I had to fight off some mommy bunnies for these.

Kale salad is my new must have dinner.

That's what my green smoothie looks like with a full amount of produce,

The last of the greens.
They are ugly.
But they are green.
And greens make you cute.

There is green in there, I promise.
Time to go shopping.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Year of Living DangeRAWsly 

Back in December we had dinner with some friends, and we got to talking about our diet. That’s typical because although we try our best to not be annoying and picky guests, we do have some pretty strict food requirements.

Plant-based, whole-food, low-oil, low-sodium, whole-grain – that’s a lot of hyphens. Usually if people don’t know us, we just say we’re big salad lovers. A BIG salad, please, and we’ll just eat a bowl of hyphens for dessert. Of course, if it’s a pot luck, I tote along some menu items we can chomp on to our hearts’ healthy content.

These friends were totally cool, and had dealt with their own health issues themselves. We happily dug into the bowl of edamame and a lovely crudité tray, and then enjoyed a tasty bowl of lentil soup. Fruit for dessert, along with some really edifying conversation, and we called it a wonderful evening.

During the conversation about food, I found myself telling our hostess how wonderful, fabulous, great, awesome and energized I feel on a raw food diet. She didn’t bat an eye. She’s had a life-threatening health scare, and she did alternative dietary treatments along with conventional medicine. She's now doing great and is very inspiring.

As we drove away I thought - Why would I tell someone there’s a way of eating that makes me feel better and more energized and less prone to the inflammation issues I battle – and then NOT choose to eat that way? I mentally checked off the answers:

·      It’s really hard
·      It’s really expensive
·      It’s so much work
·      It’s wintertime

That settled it - for a week or so. But then I started tossing around the idea of going raw on January 1st. We don’t celebrate the holidays, so November and December munching for me gets no worse than all the seasonal vegan treats at Trader Joe’s, plus a bit of wintertime slothdom. So while I didn’t think of putting it off because of holiday pressure, it just seemed easier to put it off...because being a raw vegan is hard, it’s really expensive, it’s so much work and let’s not forget it was wintertime.

It started with looking up some recipes, and thinking about dusting off the dehydrator and getting out the spiralizer, and before I knew it I went raw the last week of December, ahead of schedule. I wasn’t super prepared, but I did it and have no regrets. So far.

The initial decision was to try it for a month or so, to see how things progressed. Meniere's Syndrome, has wreaked havoc on my left inner ear and hearing. I had a very depressing hearing test that confirmed my fears – my left ear is just about totally shot. The good news is that the hearing in my right ear is really good, excellent in fact. "Thank you right ear, you’re my hero. Left ear, What do I say, you can still hold an earring and keep my hair tucked behind you, so don’t go away completely." My hearing specialist, who has a doctorate in audiology, firmly believes there is a strong connection with diet and hearing. She is very supportive of my efforts to protect my right ear’s hearing with all reasonable practices.

What’s funny is I don’t even “believe” in raw food eating, it just feels so incredibly good when I eat this way I would be a fool to not keep it up. Tremendous amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, in their whole form, plus nuts and seeds and sprouted grains seems to work well for me. I’ve tried this before, and the results were great, but just never sustained it. Why? See the bulleted list above.

My hope is to not be a freak about this, I already realized one of the salads I was picking up at Trader Joe’s wasn’t even vegan, let alone raw vegan. We were somewhere and the only salad option had quinoa in it, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Another salad we were served had garbanzo beans, and it was yummy. Coffee is still an occasional treat, although I’ve gone back to just tea in the mornings. There's been some roasted nuts and bits of cooked foods, but by and large, I’m buying large amounts of raw produce and products and eating only that. Next up is finding a natural addition for smoothies to cover all the amino acid and nutritional bases.

So my month-long plan is now a year-long goal. Challenges thrill me, I thrive on them. Next January I’ll reassess and see if I felt there was any change in my inflammation issues. By then I’ll know if feeling better on this eating plan is just in my head. Spring is just around the corner with all the yummy spring and summer fruits and vegetables ripening. By the time fall comes around, I’ll be totally in the groove and then it will be just a few more months to go.

My challenge now?

·      Not to look at this as hard, but as a doable challenge
·      Find ways to make it cheaper
·      Streamline the prep work
·      Try not to dread next winter

One of the difficult parts of this eating plan is the explaining it to others awkwardness. We are in a congregation full of Moldovans, many of whom experienced true food deprivations in their life. How do I begin to explain, even if I could come up with the proper wording, why I am not eating cooked food?  My trial run was dinner at our friend Galina’s house. She loves to entertain. She serves cooked food. That food is delicious. She goes to great lengths to adapt her thinking and her cooking to accommodate our plant-based diet. What would she think if I only had salad on a cold January evening? A salad I bought from Trader Joe’s? A cold, raw salad?

She didn’t bat an eye. She didn’t look at me weird, or raise her eyebrows or purse her lips. She just said, Wow, that sounds great! Well, actually she said in Romanian something like “Bravo Jessikutsa!” You’ve just got to love friends who trust you to do what’s best for your own body. Maybe this is terrible for me. Maybe it’s just a waste of energy and money and time spent buying, washing and prepping vegetables. But it’s only a year. I can’t do too much damage to myself in that amount of time. Hopefully I’ll do some good.

One week of produce for the two of us

Lots of leafy greens!

A new tool, this makes veggie confetti.

Now if only every McDonalds could become a Chopt