Monday, July 09, 2007

The Raw and the Cooked

Well, it only lasted a week. I set out to eat raw for the month of July, and only made it to the 6th day. My thinking was, July is the best month for fresh produce. Well, I was half right. All the good produce is delicious, but it also inspires thoughts of cooking and baking in my head. And it didn't help that I have a partner who cooked up a different delicious meal every night...

So here's my review of my week of raw: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

A trip to the farmer's market ensured that I'd have lots of delicious and fun produce to play with, like the ginormous radish above. There is a stall at the market that sells nothing but these guys, who as you can see in the above photo, are as big as my hand. Contrary to what their size might suggest, however, these radishes have a mild, sweet flavor.

I was also lucky to score a bunch of scapes and fresh peas in the pod.

Daiku created a wonderful dish out of fresh peas, scapes, and basil from the garden. He cooked up some sprouted wheat pasta (from Trader Joes- this pasta was so good, and definitely exceeded expectations) with chopped scapes, peas straight out of the pod, and basil that he had briefly sauteed. The pasta was topped simply with a generous dash of freshly ground black pepper. The garlicky flavor of the scapes combined with the basil made this dish taste like a fresh pesto.

(Ok, this will prove what an academic nerd I am: I am tempted to call this dish a "deconstructed" pesto- as in, it's all the elements of a pesto, but separate, not blended together. However, I have a big pet peeve about the use of the word deconstruction in everyday language- long story short, it doesn't just mean "taken apart." So as much as I want to call this a deconstructed pesto, I know I will be haunted by the specter of Jacques Derrida and thus will keep my mouth shut.)

A typical raw lunch for me: a plate of dates, cashes, bananas, raspberries, and cherries.

A typical cooked lunch for Daiku: a falafel sandwich on pita, topped with tomatoes, onions, alfalfa sprouts, and his special tahini/harissa sauce.

A typical raw dinner for me: avocado salad, lettuce, and flax bread.

I made up the flax bread from a bunch of raw recipes I saw online. I soaked some flax seeds overnight, then blended them with some onion and seasonings, and dehydrated it. At first, the bread was really savory and delicious. However, upon subsequent tasting, it was just too flax-y. I couldn't handle it and ended up only eating half of it. I like just about everything and never throw food away, so this was a really big deal for me. I think next time I'd consider adding some other grain to this, such as wheat or barley, to cut the flax flavor a little. If there is a next time.

A typical cooked dinner for Daiku: broccoli rabe sauteed with tomatoes and cannellini beans, seasoned simply with paprika.

A typical raw meal for me. Rather than a lot of complicated recipes, I found that what I liked most of all were giant salads. Here's a rather simple one: green lettuce and dried cranberries, topped with a cashew/basil dressing.

I bought 7 (count 'em SEVEN!) heads of greens from the lettuce lady for $1 each. Such a great deal, and they lasted all week. I bought: red- and green-leaf lettuce, Boston lettuce, romaine lettuce, escarole, kale, and broccoli rabe.

One great thing about being raw is that I put oft-neglected kitchen appliances such as my juicer to good use. And, I got to try green juice for the first time! I juiced two heads of kale. Daiku and I both thought it tasted like lawn clippings, but the addition of 2 grapefruits and 2 tangerines magically transformed the juice to a sweet creamy treat. I find that if I leave a lot of pith on my citrus fruit when I juice them, the result is a thick, creamy texture that I love. You'll notice that the above glass of juice is so big that I had to put my juicer on top of a book to reach the top!

Raw vegan ice cream: soaked cashews, frozen bananas, frozen mixed berries, some agave nectar, and a tiny amount of water made this treat. I got the idea from Diann, who got the idea from Amey. This ice cream is so great, I didn't even mind my soft magic bullet version and the fact that I don't have an ice-cream maker!

Finally, my favorite raw treat of the week. I saw these lemon macaroons on Kati's blog, and the recipe seemed so simple, that I just had to have them. You simply mix food processed soaked cashews, coconut, agave nectar, lemon juice and lemon zest and dehydrate. I used to love macaroons, but have never attempted a vegan version. Well, with this recipe I hit the jackpot: a vegan, raw macaroon, that is easy to make. If you have a food dehydrator, it's a must-try!

Final verdict on the raw foods diet (from my admittedly limited experience): I definitely like raw foods. I ate whole heads of lettuce in one sitting, and drank up green juice by the pint. I love fruits and veggies, and experimenting with new recipes and techniques. But, I found it to be too tedious, and in the end cooked foods were too tempting. Since, unlike veganism for example, there is no ethical or health reason to eat 100% raw, you'll have to pry my stove from my cold dead hands!



Courtney said...

Everything looks so good--both raw and cooked! At least you tried the raw diet for a week...that counts for something!

I made your baked beans last week and they were great--thanks!


urban vegan said...

I admire your efforts to go totally raw. If I weren't married to an omni, and didn't have such an insanely stressful job, I might be able to do it.

I do feel much better after working some raw meals into my week...That said, I will have to settle for being only partially raw, or "a point," as the French say [aka, "medium rare." We have to put these meaty terms to some use once folks stopeating meat, right?]

Bridget said...

Everything looks great and you did great for the whole week. And I must say that is a huge ass glass of green!

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Wow! Lot's of green. I admire your efforts. Sometimes salad is the only "raw" I do...

I do use my juicer a lot though - I guess I could be a raw-juice-er...for a day. Maybe.

As always, love your posts!

Veg*Triathlete said...

Good post, Bazu! I've been wondering how the experiment's been going. It's been ages since I've gone for any amount of time eating completely raw. I'm really happy with eating a lot of raw foods + some cooked things. That "ice cream" looks AMAZING!

Freedom said...

Hey good on you for trying it! You certainly made some amazing looking things there - I've been 100% raw for nearly a year and still never tried those macaroons, will have to do it soon - thanks for inspiring me!
I find it interesting that you said there were no ethical or health reasons for raw though!! The ethical reasons are obviously not even comparable to veganism, however, by eating a raw diet that involves minimal packaging (thus no plastics being produced in fatories etc) and especially if you buy local organic food, there is a far smaller impact on the environment than veganism. Ethically I love this!
In terms of health benefits though, I think raw is simply leaps and bounds ahead of cooked veganism! The sheer levels of nutrients, vitamins and minerals in raw fruit and veggies are huge! All those living enzymes leave you feeling super charged and energised (well, they do for me). The drastic reduction in pressure on the digestive system gives total freedom as that energy is delivered to the rest of your body. Plus it is so delicious!
I'm glad you enjoyed your 6 days of raw!

Candi said...

"known as the founder of deconstruction." haha!

Great job for trying to eat raw! Did you feel more energetic? I love the idea of eating *more* raw, but not 100% for me! Most raw foodist I have seen on MySpace are about 80% raw anyhow. I like that!

Your fruit salad with dates looks very good!

Oh, those macaroons! I wish I owned a dehydrator just for those!!

Anonymous said...

I've thought of going raw but I think you have to be more "food disciplined" than I am.

Loved your photos of your trip. Puerto Rico is on my list of must go to places. I'm glad it wasn't oo hard to eat vegan there.

Have a great week.

Monika K said...

In my experience, eating raw spells work. You've definitely inspired me to do more with my raw juices, though, and good for you for lasting 6 days!

*enjoyed the note about deconstructionism, by the way. (-:

Susan said...

You crack me up, Bazu. I thought I misread Jacques Derrida (I was expecting Pepin :)) and had nightmarish flashbacks to graduate school discussions about deconstructionism. Ugh. I'm glad I learned it, but honestly, I don't miss it.

And many colorful, delicious photos.

Vegan_Noodle said...

I so admire your attempts to eat raw! I bought a raw cookbook a month or two ago and haven't taken it off the shelf yet. I do eat lots of salads and fruit, but since I don't own a dehydrator it makes many of the recipes difficult...
Your macaroons looked really good, I'll bet I can make them and just cheat a little and use the oven (shhh, don't tell!)...

Judy said...

Sounds like you did pretty good eating raw. I have made things like your flax bread before, where you try and convince yourself it's edible cuz you hate wasting food, but ultimately, the trash can wins out.

Daiku's pasta looks and sounds soooo good.

What a juice! We have a juicer that we never use cuz it's too hard to clean:( And I can't wait to try that 'ice cream', it sounds so great.

theONLYtania said...

Ahh too much to comprehend. By the way it's great that you're trying the raw thing!
That is a HUGE radish... I have to say I haven't quite developed a taste for radishes yet.
That pasta dish look good, you're lucky to have Daiku ;-) I still have never been to Trader Joe's but I might go just to find that sprouted wheat pasta.
I saw that breakfast on the blog, it's simple but it looks sooo yummy. I could go for that.
I've never made falafel.. do you have a good recipe? Can it be baked instead of fried?
And the macaroons.. I will definitely try. I should do some reading on raw stuff... I am intrigued.

Kati said...

Way to go with the 6 days! I agree, it can become tedious, but it's worth a try. Glad you liked the macaroons! Everything else looks delicious as usual.

Mikaela said...

Baby steps. That's where change starts :) Six days is awesome!

Kate said...

Wow, good for you trying raw, you never know until you try right? All your food looks AMAZING!

aTxVegn said...

100 percent raw is really difficult, so I'm impressed with your six days. I love all the foods in this post. They're so colorful and fresh looking. But now I'm craving a falafel!

Kady said...

Great post! The vegan ice cream and sprouted pasta look so good.

Veganista said...

Hi! Thanks for your comment yesterday and for the OK to link. I've really been enjoying your site, complete with references to Derrida!

I'm intrigued by this flax bread--never seen anything like it. But not so good to eat the next day, I guess...would it work with another grain/seed, perhaps a less strong-tasting one, I wonder? This food looks beautiful, so healthy and fresh. And I second what another reader said--the coconut macaroons are enough to make me want to run out and buy a dehydrator!

runswithdog said...

You know I love your food but in this case, I have to tell you that Daiku's cooked food looks a whole lot better to me than the raw stuff. Go Daiku! Make some food for me! :-)

bazu said...

Thanks for your comments and support, everyone!

I especially want to respond to Freedom's comments, because she made some excellent points. I want to apologize if I came off as snarky or rude in my last paragraph. Yes, there are environmental benefits to eating raw (although it's not completely electricity-free with all the food processing, vitamixing, juicing, blending, and dehydrating involved!) and there may even be health benefits. I meant my comments to apply to my personal circumstances- I like eating lots and lots of raw foods, but I love to cook and bake and have a partner that does too, and therefore could not imagine incorporating a 100% raw diet into my life. I still love looking at raw books and blogs and seeing all that is possible, and I will keep drinking the green juice that I discovered last week!

jonimarie said...

hi there. i was reading about your raw adventures and want to say good for you for experimenting. i went 99% raw for about 6 months and i felt great, but it is a lot of work. sometimes it can take days to make one meal. plus, i missed the act of cooking, and baking. when i read what you said about the flax bread being too flaxy, i laughed. i totally agree. whwnever i made flax anything with the dehydratoe, i had to force myself to eat it! for only making a go of it for 6 days, you certainly made lots of lovely dishes. i really enjoyed looking at the pictures and reading about your adventure.

Village Vegan said...

Yummy! Where to start...

Well, first of all, I don't think I could ever go raw-- mostly for the same reasons as you-- but you've posted some very inspiring raw food. I need to remember that not absolutely everything I eat needs to be cooked. That raw lunch with fruit and cashews is looking really good right now.

Daiku's pasta looks amazing. I hope they have sprouted wheat pasta at the TJ's near me.

And that radish is huge! It looks like a beet.

Vanessa said...

Inspiring story. Even though you were raw for "only" 6 days I appreciate your documentation and telling it to us straight - I'd probably only eat big salads too!

I'd also be put off with all the dehyrating (did you try sprouting anything?) and would miss cooking as well. I think summer probably is the best time though - the 90 degree weather in NYC made me want to abandon my stove completely!

Keep us posted if you have a raw relapse.

Jackie said...

Can't wait for summer again. I intend to try more raw foods.

Never heard of scapes before.

Thanks for the great recipes , will revisit in spring for ideas.

vko said...

I too have dreamed the raw dream, but I don't have it in me to go the distance...even though your raw food looked great juxtaposing it next to Daiku's meals was a little unfair- all Daiku's stuff looked really good.

How interesting the scapes looked- have never seen them or heard of them.

Anonymous said...

Parents are gone and I'm back in blog land! Yayyyy!!! I do think that going raw would force me to eat healthier which would be a good thing - but I'm just not willing to give up cooked foods. I recently checked out a few raw cookbooks from the library and for me it would be too much work. I know that I could not be satisfifed eating only fruits and vegetables in their natural state and I would want to experiment with dehydrating and juicing, etc. But when you start doing that, the amount of advanced planning and time required to prepare a meal is huge. Perhaps it's something I should consider doing in small doses. Like a 3 day raw diet every month or 2.

I'm glad to hear you had a good experience.

Carrie said...

Hey! I didn't know that other raw foodists existed here in CNY :) We should put together an emailing group so that we can keep each other motivated and share great recipes... anyone interested? Thanks!!