I just thought I should finally announce (2 years too late) that I’m actually no longer a vegan… I don’t regret this experiment for a second though- All sorts of lessons learned, and perhaps most importantly- that food is an incredibly loaded topic- emotionally, politically, socially… It certainly was a bumpy ride for me. I look back on some of this writing and think, “Jeez- I really was sipping the vegan kool-aid!” Part of me just wants to delete it- But I feel like it should stand here as a testament to the rabbit hole one that I once fell into- and after losing my dad in 2008, I think I really needed a distraction of this magnitude. So Goodbye, Veganism- you taught me lots… but ultimately…I choose bacon.
Today I cheated a bit. I’m a member of a really awesome veg group that meets up twice a month at various restaurants for delicious vegan meals….I could have un-RSVP’d myself, but I really wanted to catch up with my veg buddies, and since raw week is more of an experiment than a die-hard cleanse, I allowed myself some wiggle room. Plus, sitting down with like minded people and sharing a meal is just plain good for the soul.
Here we are! This was a smaller lunch gathering- mostly people who work from home, like me. (At dinner meet-ups, there are usually 30-50 of us!)
I managed to persuade several group members to follow me to the T&T in Chinatown after the meal, in search of kimchi and burdock root. (I finally found burdock root after 6 months of searching!) I spent another $40 on groceries, bringing my weekly grocery bill up to $146.00.
Groceries: beansprouts, kimchi, thai chilis, burdock root, carrots, bok choi, scallions, wakame, asparagus, green tea, kombu
As I walked my groceries home, I beheld one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen:
VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE! 3 blocks from where I live! Praise Quinoa, this must be another Daiya miracle! I was briefly tempted to write today off entirely in terms of eating raw, since I had already broken the rules once… However, I felt pretty sleepy after all the sushi rice and veggie teriyaki, so I knew that I needed to get back on track…
With some RAW sushi! I was excited to use my new organic, raw nori sheets, and since I was finally in possession of burdock root, all the stars in my universe aligned to bring forth Ani Phyo’s “Ginger Almond Nori Rolls.” Highly recommended. I threw in an avocado to make them even more delicious! I also staged a repeat performance of her “Miso Mushroom Soup.” C’est magnifique!
After cheating a little bit yesterday, I felt the need to start my day on the raw straight and narrow. What better way that at Sejuiced in Kitsilano? I had a delicious smoothie and a raw apricot almond bar. Yum
For lunch I whipped up a Blended Garden Gazpacho:
1. juice a carrot and a small beet
2. In blender, add carrot/beet juice, 3 tomatoes, 3 stalks of celery, a bit of chopped oregano, 1/2 of an avocado, and a dash of salt to taste.
Day 6′s dinner was the highlight of my raw week. Through the magic of the internet, I went to a Raw Vegan Prepluck! What is a raw prepluck, you ask? It is best described by this formula: 10 strangers + raw food + 1 kitchen = delicious feast and 10 new friends! It was awesome. We all showed up at 4pm with ingredients and a recipe we wanted to share, took turns using the VitaMix and the food processor, et voila- a feast was ready at 7pm… here we are:
It was dark, so I couldn’t get the best photos…but you can see my Pad Thai from Day 1 in the bottom left corner… (Big hit!) The questionable-looking brown substance in the middle of the shot was actually one of the best soups I’ve ever had. The rolls in the bottom right corner were made out of a zucchini/flax mixture that was dehydrated into flexible sheets, and then rolled with a cashew cream, lettuce, and served with a sundried tomato sauce. Dear God, it was delicious! There was also some mind-blowing salads and a exquisite cranberry dessert, not to mention amazing, juicy, and local walnuts that we cracked ourselves. Oh! And a mad cacao-coconut shake that was deliciously reminiscent of a Wendy’s Frostie!
Some people were experienced raw food gurus, others were flirting raw newbies, like me. It was a wonderful mix! I learned a TON of info about raw foods, especially this:
- Always soak nuts 24 hours before using. Mother Nature has endowed nuts and seeds with enzyme inhibitors, so that when a bird eats it, the bird can then fly away, poop, and when hits the ground, the moisture from the soil breaks the enzyme inhibitor, similar to soaking it. It starts sprouting and germinating to create a new plant. So we should soak the seeds overnight and rinse them very well to wash away these inhibitors. (Makes sense why my tummy hurt after all of the nuts I ate on Day 3!)
I stuffed myself full of so much delicious food, but I still felt energetic and vibrant in the evening- It was probably close to midnight when I got home, but I had so much excess energy, I cleaned the kitchen! (A feat never witnessed at that hour).
I’m so glad I went to this! I was a bit apprehensive about meeting up with a whole bunch of stangers for dinner, but this I will tell you: Raw Foodists are anything but cold!
I asked a few of the Rawluck-ers to share their recipes with Home Veganomics, so stay tuned for some seriously delicious posts in the future!
This morning I woke up at the crack of dawn for a dental appointment, only to show up and find out that I had the date wrong. I was pretty relieved. (In my books, any day you don’t have to go to the dentist is a good day.) As luck would have it, the clinic was within a couple blocks of Whole Foods, so I picked up some extra lemons and avocados, two things which are somehow implicated in almost every raw recipe I’ve seen. (Now if only I could find a cheaper source of organic avocados…)
I hadn’t had breakfast yet, so I did a little dance on the inside when I saw this:
I don’t think I’ve ever had asparagus, jicama, or brussels sprouts for breakfast before, but it worked for me! (They had a fresh fruit buffet, too)
When I returned home, I made a whole bunch of collard green wraps, packed with red pepper, nut cheese, avocado. I never would have expected that these would be so good…and addictive! (I think it’s kind of ironic that the meal I am enjoying the most is the least photogenic, but I am determined to get some good photos once I buy a new batch of collards!)
Here was a quick little zucchini snack I made using up the pesto from Day 2 …
In the afternoon, I discovered some perfectly ripe pears on the windowsill that I had nearly forgotten about…It took the opportunity to treat myself and my traveling massage therapist friend to a Ginger & Pear Spinach Smoothie:
Some fruit/herb combinations are just classic. Like Strawberry & Mint, and Blueberry & Lemon Zest, Pear and Ginger definitely belong together, too!
Pear & Ginger Spinach Smoothie:
- 2 ripe pears
- small chunk grated ginger
- handful of spinach
- cover with almond milk
- dash nutmeg
For dinner, my friend and I finally checked out Organic Lives, a 100% organic, raw vegan eatery and supply store just 5 blocks from me! We ordered a ton of food, but ate most of it before remembering to take photographs. Luckily, I managed to snap some quick shots, in between bites, of our two favorites:
This raw sushi had fresh sprouts in place of rice, and had a dipping sauce made out of unpasturized tamari mixed with ginger and something else….wasabi? horseradish? It was sooo good! Like a flavor bomb. It was so good, I bought some raw organic nori sheets, so I can start making raw sushi at home!
And then there was dessert…
TiRAWmisu! Possibly the best dessert I have ever had in my life. Period. I need to find out how to make this, or something like this, stat!
One of the nicest things about Organic Lives is that everyone who works there is friendly, knowledgeable, and very happy to talk about anyone about the restaurant, the ingredients, and raw food in general. We spent a few minutes chatting with Preet, the owner, who told me that the philosophy behind what they serve is simple: “If I don’t eat it, I won’t serve it.” For that reason, Preet doesn’t use agave nectar, nama shoyu, cashews, or Braggs Essential Amino Acids. All things that are pretty standard among most raw foodists. I asked him why, and he shared with me a wealth of information that I will probably spend hours googling to re-confirm. I wish I had been taking notes! If you are ever in the neighborhood, you’ve got to check this place out! The atmosphere is pretty casual, but the food is fabulous, the service is warm, and the philosophy behind the restaurant is noble. Even the water they serve is delicious!
Here is their menu
Man, all this food blogging is making me hungry! Time for lunch…
Raw Week, Day 3: Stuffed Anaheim Peppers, an Entire Raw Onion, and a little heartburn, quite frankly.
Day 3 started off with some fruit for breakfast, followed by a bunch of recipes from “Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Kitchen”. The picture above is her Stuffed Anaheim Chilies with Mole Sauce (plus a southwest slaw I threw together). I made the mole sauce, but it just didn’t look very appetizing drizzled over the peppers. Luckily, I snapped this pic just before destroying the aesthetic. I’m not really a chocolaty mole sauce person at the best of times, but I wanted to give it another chance. On the other hand, the cashew cheese-stuffed Anaheim chilies were really yummy. If make this again, I think I’ll make a fresh salsa or salsa verde to pour over the peppers instead of the mole sauce, and maybe leave a few seeds in the chili peppers to give them a bit more zip- I was expecting the chilies to be really spicy, but actually, they are very mild.
I’m finding that the more salads I eat, the more I crave them. I’m trying to pick a new salad to try every day this week, to get help me get into the habit of making them more often. I thought that it would be a good time to tackle one of mankind’s most pungent salad items: raw onion. Since I didn’t have any boys to kiss today, I figured what the hell. Yes, I ate an entire onion in one sitting. (Diluted with salad, of course) And yes, it was actually enjoyable! The salad above is Ani’s Wilted Spinach Salad with Marinated Onions and Mustard Dressing. Marinating the onions in a bit of soy and apple cider vinegar really sweetened them up and gave them a beautiful caramelized colour. Did you know that besides giving you onion breath, onions are great for oral hygene? Fact: chewing raw onions for 2 to 3 minutes could possibly kill all the germs present in the mouth area. In a stinky way, my mouth felt very fresh afterward!
Ever since I got my hands on Ani’s book, I have been so excited to try her Portobello Steaks and Brazil-Broccoli Mash with Mushroom Gravy. Full marks for presentation, but it was actually pretty painful to get down. And I just realized it my fault because I accidentally made her miso gravy instead of the mushroom one. Both the miso gravy and the marinated mushrooms really salty, and the brocolli-brazil mash was interesting, but a bit too hefty for me. Each mouthful was like swallowing a scream of flavor. (Even if I made it with the right gravy, I don’t think I really would have loved it.) I forced myself to eat it all, but had a pretty bad stomach ache after. I think it was the amount of nuts. I once heard that a great way to get a good balance in your diet is to consider how much of a certain item you would actually be able to obtain with your bare hands- ie, how many berries, grains of rice, etc. I would have had to spend a long time cracking a cups worth of those Brazil nuts, so eating them all in one sitting is pretty out of touch with the natural portion (probably a small handful).
Before bed I settled my stomach with a ginger and nutmeg blueberry banana smoothie, and felt a whole lot better.
- almond milk
- lemon zest
- fresh nutmeg
Peace and Parsnips,
I had a heck of a time waking up for school when I was younger. From an early age, I fell deeply in love with the luxurious feeling of still being in bed, wrapped in a warm embrace of cotton, flannel, and the occasional sleeping kitty cat, while my mom busily prepared for the day, and while my sister busily used up the hot water supply. I pretended to be slumbering, even for the pure joy of hearing a symphony of hair driers, pots and pans, dog barks, and (in all honesty) the rather sophisticated crescendo of threats uttered from my mother that I should seriously consider getting out of bed. Eventually, I would have to get up, and more often than not, there would be a (now rather cold) pot of porridge on the stove waiting for me.
Porridge is fascinating. It’s relatively simple to make, but the little variations and tiny nuances from family to family are what make it really endearing. When I was sick and couldn’t go to school, my mom would take me to my babysitter Nora’s house, where she would make me a smooth porridge drizzled with honey and skim milk. When I stayed overnight at my Grandma’s house, I would wake up to the most decadent delight: huge, hearty oats mashed with dark brown sugar and coated with what must have been sweetened condensed milk. On the weekends at my stepfamily’s house, porridge was generally avoided by the entire clan- a gluey, tasteless, and rather unjoyous event. (Now that I think about it, probably lacking in salt…) And finally, on camping trips with Daddy, a variety of packets of instant flavored oatmeal that my sister and I would fight over (“Laura, your hogging all the Peaches and Cream!”).
I never noticed until I was much older, but all those years my mom made porridge for us girls, she never had any herself. I asked her why, and she said she didn’t care for it. When I asked why she made it for Sarah and I all those years, she said, “because my mom made it for me.” I don’t know why, but I just think that is absolutely beautiful.
Well folks, you guessed it. Even Oatmeal can be done raw.
I was skeptical, but this was really quite good! All you need to do is remember to soak your oat groats overnight, and then it comes together really fast in the morning.
Regular oatmeal is heat-processed to stabilize the grain and keep it from going rancid. Then the oats are rolled into the flake shape that we all know and love. On the other hand, groats are the original raw, unprocessed version. As such, they retain more nutrients than their flake buddies.
Raw Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal Porridge
- 1 C oat groats, soaked overnight (I used Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Oatmeal, since it is already ground down- though you may want to blend it further.)
- 1/2 an apple, diced small
- pinch salt
- dash cinnamon
- dash nutmeg
- a few juicy raisins (if they are dry, you can soak them with the groats)
In the morning: If using whole groats, blend them up in the food processor until desired consistency (I skipped this step since mine were already ground). Season with spices, salt and apple. Serve with maple syrup (Grade B is raw), agave nectar, or as is. Enjoy with Almond-Date Milk.
This was a really yummy breakfast, and it did its job too, as it stuck to my ribs for a good 3 hours before I felt hungry anymore. With the fresh apple and the sweetness from the dates in the almond milk, I forgot the maple syrup and didn’t even notice!
For Lunch, I dug out my spiralizer, and made some Zucchini Spaghetti!
I love this thing! It works best with fatter zucchinis, though, so the noodles ended up being a little on the shorter side…
I whipped up a cashew pesto sauce, and Bam! A 3 minute meal!
I found even a small portion of this to be really satisfying. The pesto was really yummy, but I’m going to tinker with it a little and lighten it up a bit. Jeez, that was a lot of nuts!
For dinner, I was craving some serious greens after such a heavy lunch, so I thought it would be a good time to tackle collard green wraps. I just love cooked collards, but I was pretty uncertain of eating them raw. I took a little bite off a leaf and wondered if I would be able to get past the really grassy bitter taste….Boy, did I ever! Amazingly, the collard green taste was overwhelmed by a feista of other punchy flavors!
The pictures are terrible, but this was actually my most favorite meal today!
I made a “collard green burrito” with avocado, cashew cheese, red pepper, carrots, and corn. It was amazing!! I’m going to work on this recipe a bit more, before I post it- It needs to be beautified a little more and perhaps rolled more securely…anyway, I’d be happy to eat one of these every day for the rest of my life!
Oh, and a word about the corn: I made a mistake and assumed that frozen corn is also raw. (I really don’t know my frozen vegetables very well) I didn’t realize this fact until I defrosted them, and I wasn’t going to let them go to waste…so when I say I am 99% raw this week, this would be an example of my 1% wiggle room.
(And I’m glad I followed through, cause it was d e l i c i o u s.)
All in all, another very yummy day over here. In addition to being really fast to prepare, I am also noticing that I had very few dishes to clean- just a bowl, a plate, a food processor, and a couple odds and ends….leaving more time to….blog?
I love routines. Last year when I was finishing my degree and had early mornings at school, I got into the habit of making myself a green smoothie to sip on the bus. It was actually my replacement for caffeine, as like most over-worked, sleep-deprived university students, I developed a pretty strong dependency on coffee. So I packed up my coffee maker, and moved my blender over to a position of prime counter top real estate. After a few nasty days of withdrawal, green smoothies were my new (healthy) vice. Plus, like coffee, they were fast, portable, and gave me a morning buzz! (And also like coffee, you could always tell on the days you missed it.) Since graduating, I haven’t really been making smoothies on a regular basis…so I thought that Raw Week would be a great time to get back into them. Here is one of my most favorite combinations:
Seize the Day Green Smoothie:
- small handful of kale (4-5 leaves?), tough stalks removed
- small chunk of peeled ginger (about half the length of your thumb)
- water, or nut milk
- juice of 1 lime (or 2!)
- 1-2 bananas
- peeled apple
- 1/8 tsp spirulina (optional)
- 1 Tbsp ground flax
- 1 Tbsp ground hemp
If you have a Vitamix, go ahead and blend it all at once. If you don’t have a Vitamix, follow these steps:
1: Blend Kale and Ginger with 1 Cup of liquid (or as little liquid as possible). This will make sure that the tough greens are well broken-down.
2. Add remaining ingredients and add liquid until you reach desired smoothie-ness.
For lunch, I decided to go classic and pick a soup and salad combo from Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Kitchen:
Shaved Fennel with Blood Oranges, Poppy Seeds, and Microgreens & Japanese Miso-Shiitake Soup
First, the salad: I’ve only had fennel a few times in my life, and I’ve never been a huge fan of it (it tastes kinda like licorice, which seems weird for a crunchy vegetable…), but I wanted to live dangerously and give it another try. Paired with the blasts of flavor from the blood oranges, I loved it.
One of the best things about this salad is that it only has 5 ingredients- 4 of them are obvious (fennel, blood oranges, poppy seeds (I used black sesame), microgreens) and the 5th is simply olive oil! The citrus brings enough acidity of its own, so no vinegar is necessary. Brilliant. And speaking of brilliant, the colours are dazzling. I had a really hard time picking my favorite shot, so here are the runners-up:
Ok, now for the soup. Wow.
I’m not kidding when I say this is better than even regular Miso Soup, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it has something to do with the *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* olive oil! I actually significantly reduced the amount that the recipe called for, yet it still was tasted deliciously rich! And I know what you are probably thinking: raw mushrooms? Yes. I was skeptical too, but they are marinated for about 10 minutes in a little nama shoyu (soy sauce) and oil, and with absolutely no exaggeration, they taste just like they were cooked. There is also a bit of ginger and garlic in here, that just brings the whole thing to life. The broth is made in the blender, creating an rich, creamy emulsion. I could have drank gallons of it. Serious comfort food!
And on to dinner…
Ani’s Raw Pad Thai Noodles.
(Love, love, love this girl. I was shocked to find out that she is in her 40s. To my eyes, she doesn’t look a day over 30. Might have something to with the raw foods. And those eternally-youthful Asian genes.)
OMG! Kelp noodles! I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for about a year, but never could find these kelp noodles. They were expensive to buy, so I found a place online that sells them at a 3rd of the price I paid. And boy, oh, boy, I will be stocking up. They were as good as I had hoped- absolutely neutral in flavor, and with a smooth noodle-like consistency. I was worried that they would be tough, but they were (oh so) tender.
I made a few adjustments to the recipe, I only used 2 Tbsp of coconut oil (not 1/3 C), and since I had a green jalapeno, I used 1/4 of a red bell pepper for colour, and 1/4 of the green jalapeno for spice (seeds removed). I also used a splash more soy.
This was soooooo, sooooo, soooooo good! Here were my results:
In the evening, my sweet tooth led me to the kitchen were I made one of the simplest, most healthy desserts I know: Lime Pudding/Ice Kream
- 2 (preferably frozen) bananas
- 1 avocado
- juice of 1-2 limes
- 1 mango (if you can)
Just blend it all up in your food processor and thank me later. De-lish! If you use frozen bananas, you get ice kream, if you use regular bananas, you get pudding. (This is the pudding version)
Well, I gotta say, this has been one of the most delicious and exciting days, ever. I was expecting to really be feeling deprived. Not so. In other news, NOTHING took more than 10 minutes to make. It was just like looking at a cookbook, saying “I want that” and magically having it appear. (With a little pre-planned grocery shopping, of course.)
I have decided to dedicate this week to discovering raw food! It’s an experiment that I’ve wanted to attempt for a long time…I’ve read a lot about the lifestyle- its supporters, and its critics. My hunch is that doing this in Canada is a lot different than doing this in California (where so many raw food “uncookbooks” come from). But as an early spring is blossoming here in vancouver, it just feels like the perfect time to do some inner spring cleaning. On with the experiment, I say!
Here are the things I am most curious about:
1. How will I feel physically? (energy levels, appetite, weight loss, appearance)
2. How will I feel? (emotionally, spiritually)
3. How will the meals taste?
4. Is it practical for me?
5. Can I afford it?
Sunday was my preparation day for Raw Week, so I hit up Whole Foods because I wanted to do it right and treat myself to as much organic produce as possible. I may have over-shopped a little (I had to call a cab to help me carry groceries!), so I won’t know until the end of the week if this is really what a raw food weekly budget looks like. The fuel:
Veggies: celery, sweet corn, collard greens, green cabbage, zucchini, fennel, broccoli, grape tomatoes*, spinach, avocados*, golden beets
Mushrooms: shiitake, portobello, crimini
Spice: japanenos, Anaheim chili peppers
Fruit: bananas, limes*, blood oranges, navel oranges
Herbs: lime leaves*, lemongrass*, oregano, thyme, basil, cilantro, turmeric root
Nuts: raw almond butter, brazil nuts
Grains: raw steel cut oats
Sea Vegetables: Kelp Noodles! (not from Whole Foods…found them at Organic Lives)
Total: $85. 96 (*non-organic)
Luckily, I have squirreled away quite the nut and seed cache back home, otherwise, this bill could have easily pushed $100. Nuts and seeds are definitely the most expensive thing for vegans/vegetarians/raw foodists. Bulk beans and lentils are dirt cheap, so usually they are my protein buddies of choice. But unless I want to sprout my chickpeas, I’m outta luck this week…going to have to live high on the hog…er, cashew. I also already possess several raw-foodie staples like hempseeds, flaxseeds, and agave nectar. I’m just going to call this week 99% raw, because I couldn’t find any raw nori (mine is toasted), and it is almost impossible to find unpasturized almonds in North America (not to mention prohibitively expensive!) Also, I’m using tamari because my ex-boyfriend has my Braggs Liquid Aminos. (I gave it to him…but I want it back if you are reading, lol!)
I hear a lot of people talk about how expensive it is to eat raw…so I think that it will be a good idea to keep tabs on all my receipts and see how things add up. I haven’t really paid much attention to my food budget lately, but my best guess is that on my typical (30% rawish vegan diet) it is somewhere between $50-$70 per week. So I guess that means that so far, I am about $25 over my weekly average…not too bad…we’ll see. I might have tons of leftovers for next week, or have to make multiple grocery trips…time will tell.
[EDIT: by the way, I have some excellent company with Raw Week- I'm joining with Happy Herbivore via Twitter, you should totally check out her blog- it's great! I'm waking up with some great recipes in my inbox from her and some of the other lovely Tweeters in our posse!]
Stay tuned for my Raw Week Day 1 posting! It should follow pretty hot on the heels of this post….
Peace and veggies,