As I sit here on the last day of my raw food challenge, bloated and besieged with heart burn, I can’t help but feel that this raw diet might not be for me.

If you are considering eating a raw food diet, I have the following pieces of advice for you:

1. Ease into it. Raw foods have significantly higher amounts of fiber, and can take more time and energy for your body to break down and digest. Changing your ratio of cooked to raw food gradually will help your body learn to absorb nutrients in a new way, and you’ll be much more comfortable for it.

I do tend to be an all or nothing type of gal, but this challenge could have been more tolerable had I been a bit more prepared, both physically and in other ways, which brings me to my next point.

2. Have both a blender/food processor and a dehydrator on the ready. Premade and packaged raw foods are crazy expensive, so if you plan to eat anything other than produce, and you don’t want to break the bank, you’re going to have to do a lot of creative cooking yourself.

There are a ton of wonderful blogs, with great recipes I would have liked to try, but having no dehydrator meant I would have to use my oven at a low temperature. That is totally fine, if it works for you, but I don’t live somewhere or have the time where I can have my oven on for 12 hours at a time. If you choose to use your oven, be prepared. As for a food processor, you can use it to make smoothies, raw soups, and nut milks, among other things. Almost everything that you buy at a store is pasteurized, and that means cooked. Be prepared to make everything from scratch.

3. Hang in there. It makes people uncomfortable when you go to a restaurant with them and don’t eat. It feels awkward bringing your own food everywhere. It made me feel left out and hungry watching my friends eat breakfast while I sipped on peppermint tea. Here’s the thing: couldn’t we all use a little more practice feeling uncomfortable? Couldn’t we all stand to benefit from bucking the norm for a while and standing our ground? What’s wrong with shaking it up every now and then? I will say that this challenge provided some great conversation this weekend.

I won’t be sticking with this challenge for any longer, but I have come away with some new information about myself. Homemade almond milk is amazing. It’s ok to go to a restaurant and not order, just make sure you eat first. I actually really love herbal tea, and it only takes 24 hours to detox from my caffeine habit. Raw “superfood cookies” make a delicious and healthy dessert. Hail Mary’s macaroons are even better. Avocados are good for heartburn, and kale is the most versatile veggie I’ve seen yet.

And with that, I think I’ll go feast on cooked food.

Scorchingly yours,

C

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This was dinner tonight! Fettucini alfredo, asparagus, avocado salad and a rosemary dinner roll. This was my biggest experiment to date in vegan cooking. I was wary about trying to make a vegan version of a cream based sauce – my cheese and cream loving family was even more wary about trying it! But armed with a recipe from The Urban Vegan, I decided to give it a shot.

Results? Delish!! I would make it again and again.

I started out cooking a roux with 6 tablespoons of earth balance (I didn’t say it was healthy!) and 2 1/2 tbsp of nutritional yeast. I decided to add some chopped shallots for a little extra flavor. While I was whisking up the roux, I had my sous chef (aka sister) dissolve a tbsp of corn starch in 1 1/2 cups of soy milk.

After the rue had time to boil a bit, I whisked in the milk mixture, added a teaspoon of salt, and put it over low heat until it thickened (it took about 15 minutes – just as the book suggested it would). Then I tossed it with the fettucini and served it to my timid diners.

We were all so pleasantly surprised! It was rich tasting and had a heavy creamy after taste, but both my sister and I agreed it didn’t leave our stomachs feeling heavy like a traditional Alfredo usually would. Although it isn’t healthy by any means, it might be a small step up due to the lower fat content and lack of animal fats. Who knows… I’m no nutritionist. I’m sure about one thing though: it definitely earns top marks in the flavor department!

Here is what you can do when you get home from yoga at nine and haven’t planned dinner:

1. Find leftover brown rice and trader joes green chili sauce in fridge.

2. Put fake chicken and real broccoli in Tupperware with a sprinkle of water, cover with plastic wrap, poke holes in it and microwave for two minutes.

3. Add leftover grape tomatoes and chili sauce to rice. Microwave mixture for about 2 minutes. Add fake chicken and real broccoli mixture.

4. Eat vegan microwave dinner while watching The Bachelor.

Done.

Easily yours,

-C

I feel like this week I have finally hit my stride with this whole vegan thing. As of Sunday, I am exactly halfway through this challenge, and it has definitely taken me until now for my body to really acclimate. I had been having trouble feeling satiated before, and while I felt relatively physically well, I was a bit low energy. I’m excited to report that as of yesterday evening’s yoga class, I am really feeling wonderful.

During the past two weeks, I have really felt the detoxifying effects of Bikram’s more than I have before in my practice. It’s like I could sense my body trying to get rid of all the stuff it didn’t need, and now I feel like a weight has been lifted. It reminds me of the times when I’ve gotten off an airplane with plugged up ears, and everything sounded kind of fuzzy and far away, then suddenly my ears cleared and everything was fresh and open and clear sounding. It’s such a good feeling.

There are definitely things I won’t be able to eat again. Milk, for one. I don’t think I’ll be able to drink cows milk anymore. I think I’ll reincorporate some animal products back into my diet after my challenge, but much more in moderation. I’d like the things I eat and cook with to add to my meal, not act as default ingredients.

Things I miss? Really sharp cheddar, and (even though this is kind of like milk- which I don’t miss) cream in my coffee. Those are things I look forward to incorporating (with moderation) into my diet.

Healthfully yours,
-C