Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rawful or Rawsome?

It's time to clean out the closets if you will. A month spent gorging on butter cookies, spiral hams, artisanal cheeses and Ketel One martini's takes a certain toll on the body. But I let myself go, with the promise that in January I would adhere to a strict raw diet for a week.

Here's a summary of my diet. You will notice that I didn't fully adhere to the raw diet, and that's because I'm addicted to coffee. I love it and I really don't care if its raw or not. I'm drinking coffee, okay!

Sunday night I had my last meal - a cheese burger and fries and then some tortilla chips with the cheese dip that you buy in the jars from the grocery store. The concept of cheese that doesn't need to be refrigerated is repulsive, but I am addicted to that processed, creamy goodness. Anyway, what I am trying to say (besides the fact that I could get just as much satisfaction from a meal made from the chip aisle in the grocery store as a say a Jean Georges meal) is that I didn't get hungry until midmorning, when I had a grapefruit and a cup of coffee.

Lunch was a salad I brought with me of almonds, red peppers, and tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette . For dessert, I had a banana and later on an apple as a snack. That's actually a pretty standard lunch for me, raw or not.

That night I made a "veggie burger" from almonds, garlic, flaxseed, sea salt and a little coconut oil. I just put everything in the food processor and blended. It didn't quite stick together like a veggie burger but it was bursting with flavor and very satisfying. Day one - a success.

More coffee and fruit for breakfast. I think it was an orange, apple and banana. Lunch was an experiment. I made a cold avocado soup from one avocado, one cucumber, red pepper and some sea salt the night before. The result was a slimy bland soup that I could barely get down. I bought some cherry tomatoes from the Grand Central Market and snacked on those all afternoon, plus I caved and bought some wasabi peas to snack on as well.

Dinner was homemade gazpacho and a salad. The gazpacho was just one tomato, a cucumber, sea salt, and a little onion blended together. It was cool and light. The salad was arugula with some fresh chopped veggies and "croutons." I made the croutons in the food processor out of almonds, cashews, ginger, sea salt, and a date. These were a savory with a little zing.

I had the same breakfast, and another lunch that I eat frequently - the tahini salad. Composed of arugula, one chopped green pepper, pumpkin seeds, and a dressing made out of lemon juice, tahini paste, sea salt and garlic, it's full of flavor and really satisfying.

Dinner was sort of a fail. It's the type of dinner that you only would be willing to eat when you live alone because no one else is around to stare at you and make disgusted faces. The health food store across the street from me sells these raw kale chips with “cheese” on them. They are delicious. The cheese flavor comes from nutritional yeast. I know this sounds gross and completely unappetizing, but these things are awesome. Crunchy, cheesy, salty. So I ate two containers of the kale chips. The containers are small and only have about 300 calories in each.

The same breakfast. Despite my evening dinner coming from a grocery store package, I had spent most of Wednesday evening cooking - for my lunch. I put together a pesto sauce made of cashews, sundried tomatoes, spinach, a little olive oil, garlic, onion, and sea salt. I put about half a cup of this pesto on one zucchini, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler and a bunch of cherry tomatoes halved. This lunch was delicious and satisfying and I even stuck my finger in the bowl to lick up some of the extras. It was that good and using zucchini as a pasta substitute was not nearly as painful as I expected.

That evening I had a special night out planned so I knew I was going to be eating some non-raw things. I had guacamole with tortilla chips for an appetizer and a salad with coconut meat, chicken, cucumbers, jicama, tortilla strips, and a chipotle dressing on it. In hindsight, I could have asked them to drop the chicken and tortillas and made it vegan but I guess the glass of Cava I was enjoying had made me forgetful.

I had a few bites of a red delicious apple and a coffee from Starbucks. The apple was bland and mushy so I couldn't finish it. It was a busy morning at work and so even though I was starving the whole time, I really didn't have any time to eat anything else. For lunch, I just ran down to Dishes in the Grand Central Market and got half a pound of a salad made from cucumbers, radishes, fennel, dill, and dressed with a simple vinaigrette. It was light and refreshing and satisfying.

For dinner, as planned, I abandoned my raw meal plan because, it's Friday and it's time to enjoy the week. You can only eat so much raw food. I went into the week expecting to be craving something cooked by Monday afternoon, but I never felt deprived. With all the new meals that I was whipping up, I was actually excited for each meal. Almost all my meals were homemade too and the prep time was surprisingly minimal. Most recipes consisted of one main step - either add everything to the food processor or chop up.

My original plan was to eat healthy this week to purge my system of the impurities and excesses of the prior month, but now that the week went so fantastically well, I am going to extend my raw meal experiment. I was to try out some new recipes and maybe even start using a dehydrator too.

The final verdict: rawsome!

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