This is recycling at its best. It’s March 6, 2008 and I was looking through some of my older posts when I came across one that had a list of 20 Items of Wisdom. I was nouveau raw but bursting with Things I Had Learned. There really is some good stuff here so I am taking what I wrote ‘way back when and I’m revising and updating it to fit what I know over two and a half years later. Not that I know a whole lot now, but I do know more.
- Learn to buy in reasonable quantities. I used to buy in bulk and cook big pans of stuff and refrigerate it or freeze it for later. Now I buy what I can use before it goes bad and I buy much less at a time. However there are some foods I buy by the case like tomatoes and oranges. I’ll be posting more about how to buy raw food at a later date.
- Learn what can and can’t be eaten raw. I saw a recipe online for raw marinated artichokes. “Ah!” I thought, “I can have my artichokes!” I found some nice ones and bought two. I searched and searched for that recipe and when I finally found it, I’d failed to read the whole thing and it was for Jerusalem artichokes, not globe. Had I read Frederic Patenaude’s The Best Foods on the Planet (not currently available separately*) before I went shopping, I would have saved enough in spoiled and thrown away inedibles to pay for it. I don’t know of anyone around here who eats artichokes so I couldn’t give them away.
- Asparagus is nice as an occasional addition to a salad or even just munched on as it is. I saw Morimoto slice it lengthwise on a mandoline and then soak it in ice water to make the taste milder. A few spears can go a long way. Don’t buy it by the pound any more. Whole small okra is good in salad, too.
- Invest in some Evert-Fresh Green Bags. They are great for keeping your investment fresher longer.
- Clean out your refrigerator and either give away or throw away all that stuff you aren’t eating any more. It’s taking up valuable space. Fresh produce needs more room and you need to be able to see what you have before it becomes a science project.
- Check your refrigerator to make sure it is functioning at its best. It just so happens that I bought a refrigerator several years ago and accidentally got the best one I’ve ever had for keeping food at its peak. Now watch it go belly-up since I’ve bragged on it. If it’s feasible and you have room for it, get a second refrigerator. It doesn’t have to be fancy or even new.
- Clean your stove thoroughly and, if you don’t put it on eBay or the local Swap ‘n Shop, turn it into something else. I still haven’t put plants on mine but I’d like to. One fellow I read about put a large cutting board on his and turned it into more counter space. Just remember to unplug it or take the burners out so whatever you come up with doesn’t get melted or set on fire by mistake and burn the house down. I don’t know what you need to do to disable a gas range. Check with the local gas company and fireproof it.
- Dig that blender out of the closet. You’ll need it. Lots of people swear by the VitaMix and it’s fine if you are going to be doing some heavy-duty blending but a plain old blender makes a good smoothie. It does take a little longer. If you are making nut spreads and sauces, you will need more power. One of my forum members has a BlendTec and I have two L’Equips—one for home and one for work. Some have the TriBest for traveling.
- When you do make that smoothie, don’t think of it as “raw fast food”. It isn’t. It is meant to be savored, admired, and enjoyed. Take a sip, “chew” it, then swallow. Wait a few seconds before you take another sip. I take as long as half an hour to drink a 32 ozzie smoothie. It’s very satisfying and has very little fat. One aside–be sure to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after that fruit meal.
- If you see an exotic fruit you’ve never tried, try it. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it again. The baby bananas on the left are one example. I’d tried them when I was visiting my daughter in NYC, but I wasn’t impressed. I got some at the Fresh Market to see if there was a difference. They weren’t that much better (if any) than the ones on the right. The big difference is that they are 99 cents a pound vs. 39 cents a pound. They ARE cute, though, aren’t they? In case you are wondering, the bananas on the right are about seven inches long. Eating raw food is an adventure that is limited only by the variety of food that God has created. (Since I wrote this, I have had Thai baby bananas that were delicious to the extreme. Seems some are better than others.)
- The optimal raw food diet uses nuts, seeds, and avocados sparingly and doesn’t incorporate grains or beans except the ones that can be eaten “green” such as sweet corn and green beans. Grains and dried beans are meant to be cooked, and cooked thoroughly, to make them digestible. Grains are starchy which means they turn to sugar and sugar causes cravings for foods that are best left alone. Beans are difficult to digest and will ferment causing gas. Believe me, I loved a bowl of pinto beans with a hunk of cornbread but I’ve given them up to feel as good as I do now.
- If you have a craving for something crunchy and salty (like potato chips) grab a stalk of celery and munch away. Celery is one of the foods highest in pesticides but organic celery is widely available at (of all places) Wally World.
- Peel fruit and vegetables that might have been sprayed with pesticides. There is some nutrition, but not an abundance, in the peeling. The peeling adds fiber but, since the raw food diet provides fiber galore, you are better off not getting the pesticides. There isn’t a lot of organic produce around here but that isn’t going to keep me from eating fresh, uncooked food.
- I wouldn’t swear in court that it’s true, but a raw food coach told me that pesticides on cooked foods are more dangerous than when they are present on raw. A prominent physician said that eating cooked food to avoid pesticides is like stepping in front of a locomotive to avoid a bee.
- Don’t try to stay away from hybrids. Foods naturally develop hybrids. Have you ever grown sweet pepper and hot pepper too close together? The only hybrids that I would try not to eat are the ones that are developed to enhance shelf life. The flavor is bred out of them and they usually resemble cardboard in texture. DO AVOID GMO FOODS.
- Don’t expect to feel wonderful every day. I have had my days of feeling “spacey” but it hasn’t happened for a long time. There is an adjustment period as with anything. I probably did as well as I did because I was already eating a lot of raw food. My problem was, I was combining it with cooked and high-calorie cooked, at that. Plus I ate a lot of bread (whole grain) and cooked cereals (the “good” ones).
- Take it one day at a time. Be firm in your resolve to stick with it. By the same token, if you “cheat”, don’t beat yourself up. If someone tries to tempt you with some goodie, thank them but say no. I have had one cooked meal since June 24, 2005. That was a disaster. Now, it doesn’t tempt me any more. That doesn’t mean it never will. I still occasionally have a “cooked food” dream.
- Be sure to eat enough. Decide on how much your goal weight is and multiply that by 10. In other words, let’s say you want to weigh 115. Multiply that by 10 and you come up with 1150. That’s how many calories you need to eat in a day if you’re lying on your back in the sun watching the clouds go by. Depending on your activity level, you could need anywhere from 300-500 calories more. That will be low enough to recycle fat (if you lose something you might find it again) but enough to keep your energy level where it should be.
- Make use of the resources online but beware of the sites that say you can eat all the nuts and dehydrated food you want. Track what you are eating for a week or two (or forever if you want) on fitday. It’s free and you can even put in what you plan to eat to see how it’s going to balance your diet. I’ve been impressed with how fast it is, even on dialup. Try to keep your fat and protein averages each to 10% maximum of your total calories for optimal health. Those are the 10%s in 80/10/10. The 80% is simple carbs from fruit.
- Thank God that you have found a better way to live, BUT be careful sharing what you’ve learned. People will see a difference in you and want to know what’s going on. You will have some who will cheer you on but some will be horrified and will try to talk you out of what you’re doing. I have gone through the “evangelistic” phase but I learned it’s better to keep quiet. Nothing is accomplished by arguing about something most people will never experience firsthand. If they are truly wanting a better way of life, they will seek you out. The best thing to do is join a forum and find like-minded people there. Facebook has raw food groups, too.
All blessings on anyone who is launching on this way of life. It’s an adventure, to be sure, and one to be relished. I hope these tidbits will help.
*Note: The Best Foods on the Planet is available in a package that is listed as “The Whole Enchilada” on Frederic Patenaude’s website under Products > Complete Catalog.