Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Local raw food for sustainable green eating

I love raw food. If I weren't so lazy, strapped for cash, and addicted to cooked food I'd eat raw food every day. Not to mention it's not very practical when you live in the northeastern United States to eat raw food year round.
Spring has sprung and I'm being bombarded by local fresh produce. The coffers are full once again. I'm currently more addicted to sunshine and energy than to the filling, warming, and lack of energy that comes with cooked food. Now is the time to jump back onto the raw food wagon, even if just for a short trip.
Through the years of my flirtations with raw food I have learned how to do raw food as simply or as gormet as I wish. Gormet foods, like mac n' cheeze made with nut cheese and zucchini "noodles" are as rich and decadent as any cooked food. When I first went raw these were the foods I craved. Mock pastas and cheeses, heavy nut fillings and intense flavors of dried tomatoes and fruits. Lately my cravings are for simpler foods like salads, raw soups, and smoothies. I still like to make gormet raw foods on occassion and I LOVE decadent raw desserts (Like chocolate cream pie made with cocoa, honey, and avocado in a walnut, almond, honey crust).
I think eating raw local foods is the best way to eliminate the enviormental impact of your diet. Don't get me wrong, like all diets there are plenty of ways to destroy the planet while eating raw. Many raw foodies like to experiment with exotic foods that need to be shipped from around the world, they buy lots of supliment products and seeweeds packed in plastic, run their dehydrators for days on end, and use all sorts of plastic kitchen tools. I guess that's another reason I've diverted from the "gormet" raw foods. I use my blender (it's a Vitamix and I bought this mostly plastic contraption for raw food, it is the most amazing blender ever and it should last me a very very long time) and a knife to make pretty much anything I could want to eat. I do freeze foods and sometimes I use my toaster oven on a low heat to warm or dehydrate foods. (The only dehydrator food I make is Kale Chips which dry in about 1-2 hours. I dehydrate them in the toaster oven or the oven for a giant batch). I like exotic foods as much as the next foodie but I try to only buy them when they are reduced in price because they will be going bad soon. Yesterday I got a great deal on brown bananas which I'll be freezing to use for raw ice cream. (Put frozen banana chunks in blender, add flavorings of choice, blend, eat). I always keep my eye out for discounted mangos and citrus fruits like grapefruit. I do buy lemons regularly but otherwise I really try to stick with local options.
So what do I eat on a regular basis when eating raw?

Breakfast - A smoothie. Currently I have bananas, strawberries, romaine, spinach, and hemp powder. If I can get a discount on pineapple I love pineapple cilantro smoothies. My basic recipe is seasonal fruit, leafy green, banana if available, maybe some raw honey to sweeten, water, hemp, flax, or spirulina powder.

Lunch - The biggest freakin salad I can possibly eat within 30 minutes (my allowed lunch time). It usually has mescalin, dino kale, and tomatoes. I will add to this whatever else I have on hand like avocado, grapefruit, carrot, cucumber, jicama, sprouts (which I grow myself), and herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley. My dressing favorites are lemon juice, salt, and olive oil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, tahini, raw honey, and cayanne. I also like a sauce that tastes like thai peanut sauce made with tahini, sesame oil, cilantro, lime, and miso. Sometimes I'll make guacamole or hummus (made with zucchini and tahini) for a snack and I'll add that to my salad.

Dinner - Raw soup & salad. I love raw soup. My favorites involve lots of tomatoes, some dried tomatoes, celary, bell pepper, red pepper flakes, and a little avocado for creaminess. Usually I throw whatever veggies I have into the blender and eat/drink it up. I can get at least 8 servings of vegetables for dinner this way. I usually have a bowl of greens in a light dressing with my soup so that I have something to chew. I'm also a firm believer that you cannot eat too many leafy greens. There are tons of raw soup recipes but I usually wing it. The only time I didn't like my soup was when I used mostly cilantro since that's all I really had...it was very strong tasting. I like to add a variety of herbs and spices (for example, one soup could have basil, oregano, garlic, cumin, and cayanne). I usually use either lemon or lime juice to add a bit of sour and I usually add spirulina, hemp, or flax to my soup just like my smoothies.

Dessert - I love raw pies, puddings, and ice cream. Raw puddings made with avocado, with the exception of chocolate which masks the color, will be bright green. I love this. I made a lemon/vanilla pudding that was fabulous and green. My smoothies are usually greenish brown. They look like sludge but taste heavenly. I like that! Of course raw fruit makes a good dessert too.

I have so much more energy when I'm eating raw food. The more greens I eat the more energy I have. My stomach looks flatter almost instantly. The first week I'm usually hungry all the time (so I snack on almonds or dry fruit sparingly). The next week or 2 I feel great and don't crave much cooked food. By the 3rd or 4th week I really do start to crave cooked food. Usually diary products like cheese and ice cream. That's when I'll treat myself to a more gormet meal to mimick the filling decadence of cooked food. Sometimes I don't make it that long and I eat more cooked food.

At the moment I'm transitioning to raw food but still eating some cooked food just to help clean out the fridge of things my boyfriend won't eat. I have some chinese food from this weekend (our takeout uses only the paper boxes with metal handles) as well as some rhubarb pie and some rice and beans. I had a small bowl of rice and beans with my raw soup last night and a piece of pie for dessert. I go to the gym tonight so I'll probably finish off the Chinese food after that and eat a salad as well.

Don't think raw food can be green chic? Check out Pure Food & Wine in NYC. That's green chic for sure!

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