Saturday, February 28, 2009
It was legendary, mostly because I was stunned at how kind an old friend of mine and his girlfriend were to us. I met Jesse a few years ago when we were neighbors. I was at the end of my firefighting involvement, just before law school started, and he was relatively new on the St. Paul Fire Department, a coveted full-time job.
They live in a beautiful condo overlooking Lake Minnetonka, and made a point of insisting that we joined them for dinner. I was sort of embarassed to limit their dinner choices, but they didn't miss a step. When I called Jesse a couple hours before leaving, I could hear the BEEP BEEP BEEP of the checkout at the grocery store. They put together some delicious sangria full of fruit, and four massive plates of pineapple, snap peas, apples, avocado, red pepper, grapes and oranges.
The point: The art of hosting is not dead.
Jesse had to leave for work at 6:30 a.m. this morning, but stayed up past 2:00 a.m. with us, cycling through rapid rounds of our favorite card game, 500.
This is a sympathy post. I work for a local district court judge. He's my Batman, and I'm his Robin. Minutes after getting out of a nasty divorce proceeding in the morning, he insisted that I join him for a family law education session at a nearby restaurant. My mind was still spinning from the thunder my judge slapped on an embittered, deadbeat dad who had been making a habit of using his seven year old child as a messenger with his wife, effectively throwing the kid into their pathetic, lingering mess (a big no-no).
The session fee included a lunch. On the drive over, and in between our debate about Tiger Woods' return to golf, our discussion was punctured by a sharp internal debate over what I'd do about lunch.
At noon, I was given a small salad and a mouth-watering combo of turkey, cheese, avocado and bacon, nuzzled between two almost sensuous pieces of multi-grain bread. My nose salivated. And to illustrate what a raw food drone I've become, I pushed off my croutons and ate only the raw ingredients of my salad. The sandwich, cut diagonally, looked like a sneering mouth, a pursed set of lips, fully aware it was safe in the face of a would-be carnivor. It was an image of a laughing hyena, trotting in circles around a toothless old lion.
I'm being dramatic, but I don't think I can understate the tension that existed while my sandwich lust drowned out the four seasoned female attorneys who lectured about the old ass-slapping, skirt-wearing days that they've come a long way from (baby).
My menu today is mostly still a mystery, but I began the day with an odd smoothie, some of the chocolate cake Kelly made, and some grapes:
FUZZY NAVEL SMOOTHIE
- One Orange
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup pitted dates
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup filtered water
- 6 ice cubes or so
I think this would have been better with more orange. I feel like I'm drinking a cup of drizzly cookie dough, but I'm comforted by the fact that it should keep my appetite in control. Kelly thinks it's great.
Lunch: Carrots & Hummus, big salad (spinach, broccoli, tomato, caesar dressing).
Nathan and I were both tempted with free catered sandwiches at our respective workplaces yesterday...I will let him describe his anguish in another post. We had a catered caesar salad also, which I admit to eating some croutons off of.
I was craving something sweet and rich so, when I got home, I immediately made Raw Chocolate Cake:
-1+1/2 cups raw walnuts, unsoaked
-12 pitted medjool dates, unsoaked
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 teaspoons water
-1/2 cup fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)
1) Blend walnuts and salt in a food processor until finely ground.
2) Add dates, cocoa powder and vanilla, and process until the mixture begins to stick together.
3) Add the water and process briefly.
4) Transfer to a serving plate and form into a 5-inch round cake.
5) Chill for 2 hours.
6) Decorate the cake and plate with fresh raspberries before serving, if desired.
Covered with plastic wrap, the cake will keep for three days in the refrigerator or two weeks in the freezer. Yields one 5-inch cake.
It hit the spot, but tasted a little too much like cocoa powder. I would've added a couple more dates maybe or a bit of agave nectar, or just less cocoa powder. This dessert definitely has potential though, and would look nice if you put it in ramekins with a garnish. When we took the above pic I wanted to keep picking at it, Nathan loved it too and had some for breakfast this morning =).
Last night we also made Asparagus Cream Soup:
ASPARAGUS CREAM SOUP (source forgotten)
-8 asparagus spears
-1/4 cup raw cashews
-juice of half a lemon
-salt & pepper to taste
1) Cut off tips of asparagus and chop them into tiny bits
2) Put the bits of asparagus tips into a bowl and squeeze/pour the lemon juice over them.
3) Cut remaining spears in pieces and put in blender with cashews.
Cover with warm water & blend until smooth (if you blend long enough in the Vita-Mix, it gets warmer)
4) Pour into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice/asparagus tips.
This is the second time we made this. Nathan gulped down a double batch last night. It's a bit creamy for me, I'd pour just a little over zucchini and other chopped veggies to lighten it up.
After dinner last night, we went over to Jesse & Erin's condo. Jesse is an old friend of Nathan's who I've never met, and it was a fantastic time. I can't remember a time when I've had better hosts (I'll save my rant about how rude our generation usually is for another post....). They knew about our experiment and, when we got there, 3 huge platters of fruits and veggies were waiting, along with the best sangria I've ever had. (Sangria wasn't entirely raw, but who cares. I also had a couple brandy cokes).
We played 500 and went to bed at 3 a.m. I'm writing this still in my pj's at 5:30 p.m. while our Day 6 experiment is in the dehydrator....
Friday, February 27, 2009
*see photo information below
As Nathan mentioned, we got a ton of snow here yesterday - officially, 6" in Minneapolis, and 7.5" just a few miles south of us at the airport. I am amazed that our population here is as large as it is. How did people ever justify settling and staying here when there was, say, no electricity?!
A few things I saw yesterday:
-A guy shoveling snow. In shorts.
-Someone riding their bike down an unplowed busy city street.
-A guy cross country skiing on a city sidewalk.
Unrelated to the weather, right after I passed the guy in shorts, another guy standing alone at a bus stop said, slowly, "Excuse me miss, I hate to ask you…." My mouth was already open to say no to a request for change and continue walking, "But, do you have a tampon for my girlfriend?" Ha, I did, and after I gave it to him he said, "Thanks, I owe you one." Don't think I really need him to return that favor.
So, menu for yesterday:
-Smoothie: Pear, parsley, celery, lime juice, banana. I actually can't remember if I threw banana in or not, but either way, I don't recommend this combo. I used it because I saw a recipe for it and had parsley that was about to go bad, but the celery taste was just too strong.
-Big Salad: Spinach, tomato, sprouts, caesar dressing recipe from yesterday. The dressing was really really delicious. As noted in the recipe below, it comes out very thick, I watered mine down before putting it on the salad.
-Many snacks around dinner: Cantaloupe, flax crackers, guacamole, dried prunes, banana.
-Around bedtime: Half of a controversial Ezekiel english muffin with more caesar dressing & a big glass of wine.
*The picture was just taken by a good friend who blogs at markkthompson.blogspot.com. If you like imaginative images and a unique perspective of living, check it out.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The *smoothies are a definite keeper, because I'm inexplicably able to function without caffeine in the morning now, and I get this odd rush of energy that lasts till 11ish. The salads are also probably a keeper, because I'm liking these homemade dressings, and I appreciate that they actually make it enjoyable to eat raw vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
I'm completely headache-free now. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
Here's a quick rundown of what I ate today:
Breakfast: A smoothie with an entire gigantic orange, a banana, water and ice.
Snacking: Carrots and raw hummus. I ate the last of it. I'm tempted to turn some classical music on in my fridge to get the new batch of adagio beans sprouting with more accelerando.
Lunch: A salad with this unbelievable Caesarish avocado dressing.
Dinner: Kelly's bringing me back some good tomatoes from the co-op tonight, so I'll throw something together along those lines. The last tomatoes I bought from the grocery store were an almost pale orange. Lesson learned: stick to the co-op. I'm thinking about making some zucchini "pasta" with our spiralizer to dump the new tomatoes on.
And check this out: I bought a huge pot** to plant rolling fields of cilantro in. I'm a little worried we don't get enough sun in here to grow them, though. We're in Minnesota, so putting the pot outside isn't an option for a few months. We just got pummeled with 8 inches of icy, side-blowing snow today. I'll also note that Kelly hates the obnoxious razzamatazz (an actual color) hue of the gigantic pot. It's the thought that counts.
SALADS: For me, salads are great because I can toss in all the things I like (raw nuts, veggies) and cover them with something flavorful. Here are two pretty thick dressings that were winners this week.
CAESAR DRESSING (modified from source)
2 medium avocadoes
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup water (original called for a half cup)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 and 1/2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/2 TSP sea salt
1/2 TSP black pepper
2 medium cloves of garlic
1 large date
(We would have added 2 TBS of nutritional yeast, but didn't have any. The rumor is that this stuff brings with it hints of parmesan cheese)
Just blend it all together until smooth.
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 TSP sea salt
1 TSP pepper
1 TSP paprika
Blend everything but the oil. When you're ready for the oil, keep the blender running at a slow speed and pour it in gradually. These dressings turn out crazy-thick.
Yesterday wasn't too exciting in our raw food world. Wasn't very hungry in the a.m. because of our late night on Tues, here was the day's menu:
Breakfast (around noon): Smoothie - banana, apple, blueberries, spinach
Lunch (around 3-4. Yes, I'm a nibbler and can make a salad last for an hour): Spinach, sprouts, tomato, walnuts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt.
Long nap and lazy tv watching after work (how can Lost be so addicting even when you have NO idea what's going on?), then snacked on: lots of cantaloupe, flax crackers, and leftover smoothie.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Feeling surprisingly ok today after my long and somewhat deviant day yesterday.
At work 8:30 - 4:30:
-Smoothie: Banana, apple, cantaloupe, spinach. The cantaloupe was not as amazing as I'd hoped - it looked great when I cut it up the night before, but the taste was a little off for some reason, so disappointing because I was reallllly looking forward to eating it.
-Big Salad: Spinach, tomato, broccoli, sprouts, avocado, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.
That kept me full the whole day, then I had about 45 minutes at home before going to volunteer at Hampden Park Co-op from 6-9. I do it twice a month for a total of 6 hours/mo. and get 20% off all our groceries, very sweet deal especially considering how fun it was last night and they always have snacks for volunteers.
-Snacks (at home and co-op): Flax crackers and tomatoes with hummus, dried unsweetened/unsulphured mango slices.
Right before my shift was up, Nathan called and convinced me to come to The Bulldog NE for what was going to be 3 guys meeting for a drink, but ended up being a party of 10+ people. It was really fun though in that unexpected random Tuesday night out way, and I had 3 vodka tonics (weak, I swear!) and about 5 fennel seasoned french fries. (For what looks like your standard obnoxious sports bar, this place has excellent food!) Got home and had another english muffin/avocado sandwich like last night and went to bed just after midnight.
I had a long conversation with another volunteer at the co-op about what we'd really like to do for jobs and what Nathan wrote yesterday popped into my head: "I'm going to look into establishing a McDonald's style raw food chain when this is over". Anyone want to be business partners?
Also wanted to link to two great posts from Allison's blog, Raw Odyssey. Here is some great info on keeping your raw food costs down. And here is the post that made me love her blog, a very sane explanation of the raw foods lifestyle.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Breakfast smoothie: Half a humongous orange, one banana, one apple and ice/water
Snacking: *Hummus and those crackers Kelly talked about below
Lunch: **A salad with a homemade tomato dressing and a couple of those sprouted muffins Kelly talked about below, that are clearly cheating.
Dinner: No idea. Still flying by the seat of my pants.
In my ongoing quest for sprouting equipment, I ordered six canning jars from Ace Hardware Online last night. I got them for around eleven bucks, and they deliver them free of charge to a local store. After I pick them up, I'll get some mesh material at Home Depot. I'll explain this all exhaustively once we get it working.
I'm legitimately feeling better and better now. I think these oppressive headaches are the result of caffeine withdrawl as much as my change in meals. I'm a beast to deal with after a long drive home with a pseudo-migraine, but Kelly understands it's part of the package deal. I'm also used to running for fast food, so I've never had to plan homemade meals EVERY SINGLE DAY. I'm going to look into establishing a McDonald's style raw food chain when this is over.
It was a raw version of our standard nights - having a couple drinks, staying up too late, eating right before bed. But with the added frustration of trying to make sure Nathan had enough good stuff to eat today and feeling discouraged because of our moodiness and his headaches. But, I'm optimistic it will get better.
At least our flax crackers were a success! This recipe made enough crackers to fill 3 big tupperware containers, didn't take long to prep, and was cheap:
(From the Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw)
2 cups flax seeds
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in 1 C lukewarm water until soft
1¼ cup sunflower seeds, soaked (at least 30 minutes) and drained
1 tablespoon Shoyu, or to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper, ground to taste
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1) Put flax seeds in a large bowl with 2 1/2 cups of filtered water and soak seeds for at least 30 minutes.
2) Mix all other ingredients (including sun-dried tomato soak water) in food processor and process until smooth.
3) Mix blended ingredients with flax seeds in a bowl.
4) Spread evenly on 2 Teflex dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 115°F for 6 hours.
5) Flip and transfer to a mesh screen for 6 additional hours.
Kelly's Day 1 Menu:
-Smoothie (banana, apple, blueberries, kale)
-Big Salad (spinach, sprouts, broccoli, cucumber, walnuts, olive oil & balsamic vinegar, salt)
Those first two kept me full through the workday. When I got home from the time I went to bed, running to the co-op for groceries and gym for a light workout in between, I just snacked on:
-Hummus w/celery and carrots
Near bedtime, we had a couple glasses of organic red wine and I had the following which I'm pretty sure was not raw especially after just reading their website:
-Half an Ezekiel sprouted english muffin with just a thin spread of avocado, drop of olive oil, salt and pepper.
It was so delicious though, much more satisfying than butter, highly recommended! The english muffins were something I just splurged on at the co-op because I wanted to make the transition easier for Nathan (even though of course I ended up eating the first one). But, suspecting they don't fit with the rules of this experiment, we won't be buying them again.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Breakfast smoothie: Half a humongous orange, one banana and ice/water
Snacking: Two bananas and one apple dehydrated into chips
Lunch: Salsa (tomato, onion, sea salt, cilantro), guacamole (avacado, tomato, onion, sea salt) and sprouts on sprouted tortillas that we got at the store.
Dinner: Unplanned, but Kelly is deyhdrading some sort of grainy goo to make crackers by this evening, so I'll be slathering them with raw hummus.
We'll be hitting the gym after work for the first time since I've altered my diet, so I'm curious to discover whether I'll end up pinned underneath a barbell at any time, too weak to cry for help. I'll also be hunting for those elusive sprouting jars tonight.
Concerning those recipes, my big desire right now is to find that handful of "go-to" foods that I can successfully make on a regular basis. I'm talking raw food versions of peanut butter sandwiches and frozen pizza. Last night, we made kale chips and raw hummus, and I was so stunned by how well the hummus turned out, I've got to share it.
RAW HUMMUS (modified from source: allrecipes.com)
2 1/2 cups garbanzo beans
3 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 lemons, juiced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup filtered water
We modified the recipe proportions pretty significantly because we weren't happy with the consistency. We also worried that raw garlic can be oppressive, so cut back from the recommended 4 cloves. Cumin was also our addition.
1. Soak a bunch of garbanzo beans in water for 24 hours.
2. Drain them and let them sit for three to four days. Make sure to rinse them a couple times a day. We just kept them in a strainer above a bowl, sitting in the refrigerator. They'll start sprouting. Proceed when the sprouts are 1/2 inch long.
3. Boil a large pot of water. Remove the boiling water from heat and let it stand for a minute. Drop in the beans and let them sit in the water for a minute, then remove them, drain them and toss 2 and 1/2 cups of them into the blender.
4. Blend everything together. Using our Vita-Mix, we ran at 10 on the variable setting and used the tamper to push the ingredients down until it was smooth.
5. Top with a dash of paprika, purely to convince your subconscious that you've created something worth decorating.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I think I'm probably just not eating enough, and to counteract that, we're going to continue to experiment with more substantial recipes. We're also on a hunt for containers so we can begin sprouting***. More later.
***A sprouting container
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
1. Vita-Mix 5200 blender
This machine was our first must-have, because the idea of chunks of food floating in my smoothies makes me gag. According to the Vita-Mix website, the machine runs at 240 miles-per-hour at top speed. A co-worker asked if it will crush ice. I'm certain it will crush my soul if I look inside while it's running. The machine will turn nuts into butter and will make ice cream out of a little almond milk and a bag of frozen strawberries. We took advantage of the option to purchase a refurbished machine, which came sparkling, with a seven year warranty.
Vita-Mix website (videos, products and more)
2. Benriner Turning Slicer
Used to turn vegetables into thin strips of "pasta", I was a little disappointed at the quality of the equipment in light of its price ($70-ish). It seems to work very well, though. We've already made strips of carrots and covered them in an almond dressing that Kelly made in the blender.
3. Excalibur Food Dehydrator
As I write, I'm nodding off to the white lullaby noise of this 9-tray skyscraper of food dehumidification. After research, we learned that Excalibur is the dehydrating standard for raw foodists because it allows low-temperature settings that prevent food from cooking. Kelly's excited to make sprouted breads - a combination of blended sprouts and other ingredients - so we'll have something to work as a bread substitute.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The one book we've bought is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw, which is great for beginners. Basic info, easy to read, lots of recipes.
I've also read lots of websites, but am reluctant to link to most because they can be quite extreme and preachy. But, here is a pretty neutral one if you want to learn a little more about the raw foods diet: About.com Raw Food Diet
The new recipe we've been making the most are green smoothies. I had never had one before but now I'm hooked. I bring them to work in the morning in my coffee mug and eat with a spoon throughout the morning (I like them thick) and it's very filling. There are endless variations, but basically:
-Put any combination of fruits in the blender, I like: 2 small apples, one banana, some frozen blueberries or peaches.
-Blend fruit with water
-Add as many greens (spinach, kale, argula) as you can handle (usually a couple big handfuls) and blend until smooth
Check out The Green Smoothie Challenge to get started, it's simple and you get daily e-mails with info and recipes.
I haven't had any bad side effects from replacing my morning coffee with the smoothies. And I do love coffee! I still drink hot tea whenever I feel like it, and will continue to through this experiment because I want to and don't feel that it's hard on my system. And now, off to make my smoothie for tomorrow a.m.
Monday, February 16, 2009
"I am excited! Are you gonna post menus too?" Theresa (Trader Joes)
Side note, Theresa and I met tonight when we bonded over our ear jewelry and then she helped us pick out organic wines at Trader Joes. No, we are not giving up drinking! We're just gonna try to cut back and stick to organic, sulfite free wines.
But to answer the question, yes once we get started we'll post daily updates and menus.
-weight loss (neither of us are overweight but losing a few couldn't hurt either)
-clear skin (something I've been after my whole life)
-increased energy and mental awareness (I'm chronically foggy at work, but who knows, that could be the result of sitting in a cube all day)
The decision to do this experiment came after a rough winter and a weeklong cruise eating and drinking way more than we're used to. I felt in need of a detox so proposed this to Nathan and was absolutely surprised and delighted that he agreed to go along. Also since it's the middle of winter and we're bored and figured it'd give us something interesting to do together.
We're planning to start the 30 days "for real" once the dehydrator we ordered gets delivered, Nathan will post in depth about the gadgets commonly used in raw food prep. In the meantime, we're transitioning by trying out some easy raw food recipes, coming up next....
Sunday, February 15, 2009
When Nathan wrote in the tagline that I've "always had a thing for fruits and vegetables", he means since around the time he met me, about 2 1/2 years ago. I grew up never thinking about what I ate, which was pretty much a standard American diet. In college I didn't know how to cook and don't even remember what I ate, but it had to be mostly pre-packaged. I remember being amazed when I studied abroad in Budapest and my Israeli roommates effortlessly made spaghetti sauce from scratch - they were amazed that I would ever buy it in a jar. Up until recently I had only a vague idea what kale was.
There's no point when I drastically changed my diet, it happened over time after reading numerous articles about the benefits of eating whole, unprocessed foods, and realizing that I don't want unpronounceable crap made in a lab going into my body.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no food elitist. I don't like strict rules. I love egg and cheese sandwiches. I believe a strong whiskey manhattan is a cure for pretty much anything. More than a few people have heard me rave about White Castle's chicken sandwiches (especially after a long night at the Otter). We're real people with normal desk jobs who are just ready for a change and hopefully a fun and beneficial month long experiment.
p.s. these pics of us were taken May 2007 at an incredibly yummy cafe in Germany.
I love beer (Surly Furious) and I'm always willing to prove it. I prefer motorcycling to bicycling. I eat whatever is available. It's a mere coincidence that Kelly happens to stock our fridge with things that don't come with warning labels.
I get that all of this is a problem for a guy who is going through that next great bodily tranformation that occurs 20 years after puberty. If I let things head where they are trending, I'm not sure I'll be able to stop the gelatinous inertia. Let's just say I'm in the sort of neurotic physiological mindset that leaves me more open than usual to major lifestyle changes.
This raw food diet was her idea, but I like what I'm reading, and I'm optimistic. She wants me to live longer, and I want to leave as attractive a corpse as possible. So, here we go. Gentlemen, start your blenders.