Last week, I spent the Friday, Saturday and Sunday at a health retreat – eating fresh, raw, vegan food only.
This was a slight change-up for me. Granted, I usually do eat a ton of vegetables and healths fats like avocados and olives, but I also enjoy grass-fed beef, wild fish, or free range chicken almost every day. And about the closest I got to meat during last week's foray into raw food was faux-meat “walnut balls” on my zucchini-noodle “spaghetti”.
If you're unfamiliar with raw eating, or you want to see the type of foods it includes, here are some samples of the meals I ate, which were prepared by Chef Margarate Gomes of http://www.livefoodacademy.com.
For some of the more complex foods, I've also included recipes.
Breakfast: Pancakes & Juice
Carrot Ginger Juice (made with a juicer)
Gluten-Free Buckwheat Pancakes With Agave Syrup
Lunch: Apple Fennel Salad With Poppy Seed Dressing
APPLE FENNEL SALAD (SERVES 4)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Gala apples, cut into quarters and thinly sliced
2 medium-size fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 celery rib
1 cup minced parsley
Cut apple, fennel, and celery into thin slices, using a mandoline or sharp knife.
Toss apple, fennel, celery, and parsley with desired amount of dressing. Sprinkle with walnuts and salt
and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with any remaining dressing.
Optional: Dry roast 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts and add as garnish.
POPPY SEED DRESSING (3 CUPS)
2 1⁄2 cups orange juice 11⁄4 cups flax oil 1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard 3 Tbsp 1 tsp poppy seeds 2 tsp salt
Pour the olive and canola oil into a measuring cup and set aside. Add the sugar, mustard, red onion and salt to the jar of a blender. Pour in the vinegar and blend on high until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved. With the motor still running, remove the lid from the blender and pour in the combined oils in a steady stream until emulsified. Pour the dressing into a jar, add the poppy seeds and shake or stir the dressing to combine. Seal the jar tightly and refrigerate until use. Keeps for 5 days in refrigerator.
Dinner: Noodles Marinara with Nut Balls & Caesar Salad
NOODLES MARINARA (SERVES 4)
4 zucchini, spiralized and placed in a serving bowl.
11⁄2 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 4 hours 4 tomatoes, cut into large chunks, seeded 1⁄2 red bell pepper, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 tsp sea salt 1/3 cup olive oil 2 pitted dates 1 tsp lemon juice 1⁄2 cup fresh basil leaves 1⁄4 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp Italian seasoning
Using a food processor, process all the ingredients for the Marinara sauce until you reach the consistency you desire. Some people like it more chunky while others prefer it smooth. Toss the sauce with the noodles and serve with the nut balls.
NUT BALLS (40 small walnut balls)
7 cup soaked raw walnuts 3 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 7 Tbsp lemon juice 7 tsp extra virgin olive oil 7 tsp tamari 1 3⁄4 tsp garlic powder 2 tsp salt 7 Tbsp minced free parsley 7 Tbsp minced onion Place all ingredients except for parsley and onion in a food processor and process into a paste. Transfer to a bowl. Add parsley and onion and mix well. Form into balls and dip in Marinara sauce.
CAESAR SALAD DRESSING (2 CUPS)
1⁄2 cup purified water 1⁄2 cup olive oil 1⁄4 cup flax oil 2 ribs celery, strung and chopped 3 Tbsp lemon juice 3 Tbsp Tamari 2 Tbsp unpasteurized light miso 3 dates, pitted and chopped or 1/8 cup agave nectar 1 Tbsp kelp powder or dulse flakes 2 cloves garlic, minced
Combine ingredients in a blender, puree until creamy. Add more water if necessary to reach desired consistency.
1⁄2 package Artisan mix 2 cups spinach leaves 1 package grape tomatoes 1 recipe garlic herb croutons
Place salad ingredients into a large bowl. Drizzle with Caesar dressing, and garnish with garlic herb croutons. Serve immediately.
VEGAN STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE (MAKES 12 SERVINGS)
Crust: 1 cup pecans 1 1⁄2 cups walnuts 1⁄4 cup raisins
Filling: 1⁄2 cup agave nectar 3 cups cashews, soaked 2 hours 1⁄2 cup coconut oil 1⁄2 cup coconut butter 1⁄2 cup lemon juice 1⁄4 cup soy lecithin powder 2 Tbsp vanilla extract 1 pint strawberries
How did this type of eating work out for me?
I felt great with just a few days of raw, vegan eating. But I must admit that I have tried this diet for 6 months before, and during that time, I had a very difficult time maintaining muscle mass and re-building my body after hard workouts – especially weight training.
So because it can be difficult to get adequate amino acids and fatty acids, I'm certainly not a proponent of 100% raw, vegan eating (especially for athletes who want to maintain muscle) but I do think that knowing some raw food recipes can make for some very impressive and delicious cooking skills for you to have, and opens you up to a whole new world of making vegetables taste good.
For that reason, if you like recipes like this, and you want to try out a few easy “raw food recipes”, check out the “Lazy Raw Foodist's Guide”. I choose this book because it is an easy way to get started.
But that's not the only resource you can use for learning how to use fresh food!
Study after study, scientist after scientist, say that eating simple, fresh, wholesome food can dramatically improve your life. You've probably read magazine articles or articles on this blog about the dangers of processed foods, and even the way food is treated when shipped internationally.
I wanted to know more about resources for teaching you how to eat as fresh as possible, without necessarily “going vegan”, so I contacted my friend, Chef Todd Mohr – and he actually put together a FREE video cooking webcast entitled: “How To Cook Fresh In 5 Simple Steps”. He promises to answer all your questions about choosing, cooking, and storing farm fresh ingredients, and you can register right away by clicking here.
Chef Todd's free video webcasts can attract a lot of people, so you should claim your spot before this one fills up. I've seen his free webcasts before, and I always come away with information the instantly improves my outlook on food and cooking. He's got a unique approach to teaching that is fun and light, and he's a pretty funny guy too. So here you go (full disclosure: I am an affiliate for Chef Todd's Web Cooking Classes):
If you have questions or comments about how to eat more fresh, real food, just leave them below!