Raw Revelations

After finishing C25K and starting up fartleks my running entries have kind of petered out.  In light of not wanting this blog to die a terrible death of repetitive running entries that put even me to sleep, I’m branching out a bit into the general topic of staying healthy and active.  Today, I want to share a couple raw food recipes that I made yesterday as part of a two week liver cleanse.

I saw my acupuncturist last week and as soon as she took my pulse she gave me a funny look.  Some stomach pokes and prods later and she said, “You’ve been eating a lot of sugar and getting cravings, huh?”  Oh holy crap did she hit the nail on the head there.  Fall for me is the start of hibernation.  I make rich foods filled with fats, carbs and sugars.  Life has been especially stressful lately and I use that as an excuse to “comfort eat”, despite knowing how unhealthy and energy-draining that is.

The acupuncturist asked me to do a liver cleanse, which I’ve never done before.  She told me to try something “gentle” and the only real guidance she gave was to research it and start by drinking Apple Cider Vinegar.  I went online and was inundated with a barrage of liver cleanses: everything from fasting to colonics and from two-day to eight-week scenarios.  Most of the sites were trying to sell me some system, so it was easy to weed those out.  I compared sources and spoke with some of my nutritionist and herbalist friends to come up with the cleanse I’m doing.  I’ll fully admit that this is my first ever liver cleanse so please do not treat me as an expert.

The basic cleanse that I’m following is that for two weeks I’m completely cutting out alcohol and caffeine and I’m greatly limiting sugars, dairy and processed foods.  I’m trying to get all of my sugars from unprocessed sources (e.g. fruits, raw honey, raw agave nectar) and I’m trying to eat raw foods as much as possible.  Then, for three days I’ll be doing a more traditional liver cleanse which entails a juice fast and having to drink some nasty concoctions that I’ll write about it another entry when that gets closer.

So what’s the point of all of this?  People do cleanses for a variety of reasons and there’s a whole school of thought for cleansing and another whole school that thinks it’s ludicrous.  I’m doing this cleanse to change up my destructive Fall eating habit and give my body some easy-to-digest food so my digestive system gets a break and I gain more energy as a result.  The last part of the cleanse supposedly helps dislodge liver stones, and if that really happens that’s cool but I’m taking that piece with a grain of salt right now.  The biggest thing is to get my digestion back on track and get my energy levels up.

This leads to the next logical question, why raw?  I was introduced to raw foods a couple years ago and have been in awe ever since with the health benefits behind it and the opportunity for creativity in the kitchen.  The health benefits are fairly undebatable.  Raw foods are more nutrient dense and easily digested by the body.  Most people on raw diets notice a large increase of energy and a happier digestive system.  On the latter, it’s important to note that if you’re going to try a raw meal out of the blue you might get some stomach upset at first.  It’s recommended to eat light meals on the day you’re going to have a raw meal and don’t start off with an entire day of raw if you’ve been living off of burgers and fries for months (unless you’re down with spending a good chunk of your day in the bathroom).

The daunting task of changing my diet for a two-week period is finding yummy recipes.  Tons of raw recipes sound good, but I’ve definitely had a few flops; usually my issue is that they’re not flavorful enough.  Luckily, the recipes I’ve tried so far have all been super-easy to make (most can be made right in a food processor).  Out of the four recipes I tried yesterday, two were freaking amazing so I have to share.  These are not original recipes, but I can’t really credit a source because for each of them I mixed up different recipes and added some things in so they’re original-ish.  That said, if you want to find more raw recipes, my favorite sources so far are: We Like It Raw, gone raw, Sweetly Raw, and Raw Food Talk.

Now, without further ado, the recipes!

Om Noms Raw Food Snack (mostly based on Morning-After Delight)

This is a great easy-to-make snack that I’m personally using as a breakfast.  Yes, it has raw cacao in it so I’m technically cheating on the caffeine but it is omg delicious!  I split this up into five small ball jars and am finding that I get full a little over halfway through.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Almonds
1/2 cup Walnuts
1/2 cup Cashews
1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 cup Raw Carob Nibs
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Dried Gogi Berries
1/2 Cup Banana Chips
2 table spoons Cup Raw Chocolate Powder
1 table spoon of Raw Honey
4 table spoons of Raw Agave nectar
2 dashes of Sea Salt
2 dashes of Cinnamon

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Eat and enjoy!

Raw Vegan Sushi

Eating raw doesn’t necessarily imply “vegan”.  While most raw foodists are vegetarian or vegan, some do eat meat.  This particular recipe is 100% vegan-friendly and it’s very malleable.  Pick ingredients that sound yummy to you and be creative.  Unlike the above recipe, this one is quite time intensive just for the actual sushi prep part.  It’s a great interactive activity at a dinner party, especially since you don’t have to worry about the ingredients getting “cold” or going bad.  The portion size in this recipe is enough for two hungry people.

Ingredients:
2 Parsnips, peeled
1/2 cup Cashews (can substitute other nuts, I saw recipes with pine nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts)
1/2 tbsp White Miso (supposedly red works too)
1.5 tsp Sesame Oil (you’ll see from the picture that I cheated here and used Toasted Sesame Oil, that’s obviously not raw but it’s what I had on hand)
1 ripe Avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced thinly
1 seedless Cucumber, peeled and cut into sticks
3-5 Baby Carrots, thinly chopped
1/2 cup Kale, chopped
1/2 cup Spinach, chopped
1-2 tbsp minced Cilantro
Nori wrappers (black is usually raw, green is usually toasted)
1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
Bamboo Mat
Tamari Soy Sauce, as desired.

Directions:

1. Make Parsnip “Rice” by combining the parsnips, cashews, miso and sesame oil in a food processor until “fluffy”; it really will look and feel rice-like (it also tastes freaking awesome).

2. Prepare your other ingredients so they’re easily grabbed.

3. Add the rice vinegar to a small bowl of water and keep that next to your bamboo mat.

4. Lay a piece of nori shiny-side down on your bamboo matt.  Dip your fingers into the rice vinegar mixture and lightly brush them over the nori; this will soften it.

5. Spread a thin coat of the Parsnip “Rice” over the nori.  Add any of remaining ingredients to the roll that you desire.  My favorite combo was avocado+cilantro+cucumber+kale.

6. Now it’s time to roll it up.  For this, you may want to watch a YouTube video on rolling sushi (there are a million out there).  I usually start on one end of the bamboo and I curl the roll into itself.  Once I’ve reached the far side (so the roll is fully rolled) I hold the bamboo that’s still flat on the table by the far side and I pull the roll towards me with the opposite hand; this makes it tighter and is similar to burrito rolling.  Then I shape it a little better with the bamboo mat.  The trick is to get it tight enough so it doesn’t fall apart when cutting/eating.  To be honest, I’ve never found it particularly challenging but it takes a couple tries to get it right.

7. At this point you can unroll it and cut it.  One trick I use is to lay plastic wrap on top of the roll (you can also lay the plastic wrap down before you put the nori down so it’s there to begin with).  Next, I clean my knife with some of the rice vinegar solution and slice the roll through the plastic wrap; this helps it stay together and helps you get a clean cut.  The obvious downside is using the plastic wrap itself.  For those of us who are environmentally conscious this is not ideal.

8. Eat and enjoy!  I dipped my sushi into the tamari soy and it was great.  I think in the future, though, I’m going to drizzle the soy into the roll before rolling it up.

The thing I really love about both of these recipes is that I don’t feel like I’m giving anything up.  They’re both delicious recipes and amazingly nutritionally dense.  It’s like getting all of my food groups crammed into one tasty meal.  Hopefully I can find more tasty recipes to keep me going for the next two weeks.  The “bliss balls” and “pumpkin pudding” I tried yesterday were unfortunate disasters of “blah”, but these two sure were winners!