Forays Into Raw Eating
by Irina Vishnevskaya, Tastemaker in Residence
Sometimes, I do crazy, impulsive, un-thoughtout things, like register for a full-out, 230 hour yoga teacher training class, packed into a few months of an already tight work and travel schedule. It just seemed so interesting, I liked the teachers, I love yoga and I thought, hey, why not. Unbeknownst to me, a huge element of the course was nutrition: every week, we got “nutrition challenges”- suggestions to experiment with certain nutritional lifestyles and observe how eating as such effects our mental state, our mood, our yoga practice and our general sense of well-being.
For the first few weeks of nutritional challenges I was an A+ student. Home-made food only? Easy. No Meat? Easy, I’d already been a vegetarian for a while. No dairy? After a bit of struggle (my brain had a hard time accepting cheese=dairy), also easy enough. And then came the raw food only week. I was admittedly a bit cocky, on my high horse from my past few weeks of successes so my thinking was, I like salads, I can eat raw food only for a week.
Raw foodism, or raw veganism, is a diet consisting of unprocessed, raw plant foods that have not been heated above 120°F. Advocates of this lifestyle believe that food cooked above this temperature loses much of its nutritional value and is less beneficial to the body. It is claimed that a diet consisting of at least 75% percent raw food prevents degenerative diseases, slows the effects of aging, provides enhanced energy and boosts emotional balance.
Sounds pretty good. Keeping it up? Not so easy at all.
Salads are good, but for breakfast? I found out quickly that this wouldn’t work for me.
But then there was one night where my classmates and I did a raw foods potluck to help each other survive through the week. I had a busy day and was feeling particularly uncreative and craving a big juicy veggie burger, so I brought celery and carrots. Brilliant.
Thank God my fellow classmates were way more creative and actually did their research. They found delightful recipes that were absolutely delicious and stayed within the confines of our seemingly restrictive diet. I realized that there’s more to raw than salads; it was such a relief.
By the end of the week, I honestly felt better than I ever have. I did lose a few pounds, but nothing dramatic. It was more about the glow in my complexion and just this general feeling of clean-ness. Even now, a year later, I still sometimes do raw food cleanses after long travels abroad with little access to wholesome, healthy food. It can work as a great restart to your body, and you only need to do it for a few days to feel the effects.
So my point with this is no, I don’t recommend doing a drastic life change and switching to raw foods forever. Instead, know that if ever you want to do a sort of cleanse or a restart, raw food for a few days is a relatively easy way to go.
And to help, here are my two favorite recipes for a raw cleanse (or anytime just to mix things up)
Green Power Breakfast Smoothie
Breakfast is important for feeling like a champion, and I absolutely can’t go without this ever important meal. Smoothies are great because they take barely any time to make and are so easy to pour into a mason jar and go. Once you get the swing of it, I’m sure you’ll be making up your own smoothie recipes on the fly.
Handful of greens (kale, spinach, collard greens, you name it. Buy a variety and mix it up often)
1 Tbsp of chia seeds
1 tsp of fresh ginger
Half a handful of fresh or frozen sweet fruit (some favorites are: mangos, pineapple, bananas, pear, apple)
Just a bit of water or coconut water
Fresh mint (this adds a nice touch)
Simply add all the ingredients above into a blender, blend and enjoy.
Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Even my carnivore of a boyfriend adores this meal, and it actually takes less than 15 minutes to make!
2 zucchinis (the smaller kind, sized like cucumbers)
1 cup or so of almond milk (it’s actually very easy to make your almond milk if you’re a real overachiever)
At least one clove of garlic (though I like to use two, gauge depending on your garlic tolerance)
Your choice of nuts (I like pine nuts, pistachios or walnuts, but you can essentially use any one)
Your choice of dried fruit (I’ve found that dried currants work the best for me, but others like raisins and dried cranberries also work well)
Handful of fresh basil (it goes without saying it’s essential that it be fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Mash up the avocado, add in the almond milk until it makes a nice runny sauce consistency. Add in the minced garlic, nuts, dried fruit and chopped fresh basil.
- Then use a mandolin or just a knife to cut the zucchini into spaghetti like strips. Add the zucchini right into the sauce (yes, raw). Stir, salt to taste and enjoy.