Although my first ‘official’ day of Raw was last Sunday, the 2nd, I have been trying to incorporate some raw, whole foods into my diet for the last few weeks. I tried out collard wraps, filling them with raw peppers, carrots, avocado, tomato, cucumber, and some cooked quinoa. However, I put the leaves in hot water to soften them, so technically they weren’t all that raw – but still really good!
Before going raw, I started doing a lot of research online about what kinds of ingredients and tools I would need, what foods I could and couldn’t eat, and how to prepare them. I got out three books from my library: Going Raw by Judita Wignall, Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish, and The Complete Book of Raw by Lori Baird and Julie Rodwell, and started marking out recipes that I felt I could afford the ingredients to, could realistically make with my current skills and equipment, and that I would actually enjoy. As you can see, I found quite a few. I’ve only made a handful so far, and for many of them I have been substituting or omitting ingredients as I saw fit. Also, because these recipes are designed for 4-6 servings, I have been ignoring the suggested measurements and adding in whatever I thought I’d need.
Because I’m working 9-4 on campus every day with a 1 hour lunch, I’ve been preparing a lot of my lunches the morning before so I can come home, eat, and get back to work. This Sprouted Quinoa Tabouli took me 15 minutes to cut up and mix in the morning, and the quinoa only took 24 hours to sprout – 1 cup dry quinoa gave me almost 3 cups of sprouted grain to use. It made enough for leftovers for lunch the next day, and I still had a lot of quinoa left over for another dish. I omitted cilantro, a typical tabouli ingredient, because I didn’t have any on hand. I didn’t follow any particular recipe for this, just went off of my knowledge of what goes in tabouli: grain (usually bulghar, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, onion, and olive oil – raw or not, it’s one of my favorite vegan dishes.
One of my first raw meals came from Going Raw, and was very easy and fast to make – Spaghetti Bolognese without the walnut meat (no dehydrator) and Simple Kale Salad. I used my Zyliss Julienne Peeler to shred 1 zucchini and made the sauce in my food processor, which included sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fresh tomato, olive oil, italian seasoning, a clove of garlic, sea salt, crushed red pepper, and ground black pepper. I was completely surprised by the strong, fresh flavors of the sauce, and how similar to regular noodles the zucchini was. As for the kale salad, I put it together in the morning, and had half for lunch and the rest for dinner. In the past, I never really liked kale because of it’s hard, sometimes rough texture. I never knew that massaging the lemon juice and oil into the kale before eating it made a world of difference – I am addicted to it now! I also included a chopped tomato, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper. After this meal, I was feeling satisfied, and full – and excited to try more raw recipes!
Another dinner I was satisfied with came from Eat Raw, Eat Well. I made my own version of the Lentil Chili because I was missing a few ingredients such as orange juice and chili powder. The lentils soaked in the fridge overnight; the website I used recommended 18 hours if done in the fridge, 12 if left at room temperature. They came out tasting crisp, fresh, and with a little crunch that I have never known the soggy lentils I’m used to to have. The sauce was very similar to the one in the Spaghetti, but had cumin and I used cayenne pepper in place of chili powder. Paired with Cauliflower rice, this dinner was also filled with strong flavor. For the rice, I thawed out some of the cauliflower I had in the freezer pre-chopped into rice-consistency, and mixed it with lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and Italian seasoning.
I also tried out a few recipes for my chocolate-loving side. I made my own version of this recipe for Cacao Ganache Tortes – which I have been calling brownies, because that’s what they taste and look like. Because I didn’t have almond meal, or a lot of raw almonds, I blended a handful of them into as fine of a powder as I could, and then mixed it with some flax meal for the crust. Because cacao is expensive, I also used half of the suggested amount for that, and the coconut oil. They still came out delicious, and they only lasted a little more than two days in my fridge… Besides their quick disappearance, they were easy and quick to make, and satisfied my chocolate cravings even when eaten in small pieces (which also requires an extreme amount of will-power).
For breakfast (don’t know why I’m writing about this last), I’ve been having green smoothies and homemade muesli of my own recipe – my first raw invention! I’m sure a similar recipe exists elsewhere, but I combined rolled oats, goji berries, dried cranberries, golden raisins, dried coconut, golden flax seeds, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. Not only is it good for breakfast, but it’s easy to take along as a snack – I brought some in a plastic baggie in my purse when going out with friends in case I got hungry during the afternoon.
Today was also a day of inventing recipes, as my fresh vegetable supplies dwindle at the end of the week. I used my left over quinoa and lentils to create a green protein salad, also mixing in avocado and chopped cucumber, lemon juice, and some black pepper. It was filling, but also quite light and refreshing. During the afternoon, my stomach was feeling upset (not from the salad!), so I decided to try inventing a smoothie to help with that. I blended a piece of fresh ginger, coconut milk, and some frozen banana for a creamy, stomach calming afternoon snack.
This week has been full of experiments, good food, and also quite a few messes…I lost a good portion of my muesli when I angled the jar sideways to put a label on it, and the top fell off 😡 Being the clumsy chef that I am, I have learned to laugh at myself – and to keep a vacuum handy!