I have been so busy and exhausted lately that my diet has been simply smoothies at home and spoonfuls of almond butter when I am on the run. Yes, smoothies! The green, the creamy, the fruity- whatever I am in the mood for when hunger strikes. Smoothies are great because I sneak in so much nutrition- Deep greens, fresh fruit, nuts, and healthy oils; I can make them a little ahead, or at the last-minute, and they take only a few minutes to prepare. Stored in a glass jar, they last for a day or so in the fridge.
However, lately I have struggled with the smells of comfort food. Cooking lasagna, yet not snitching any bites, downing a smoothie while everyone else is chowing down on pizza. Sweets don’t bother me a bit, but the bread smells and all the traditional dishes seem tempting! I am grateful I’ve been past the point in recovery that my new health and lifestyle seem familiar and I know I have yet to see the end of improvement. I don’t miss feeling poorly, becoming sick easily, or not losing weight while I “busted my tush” because I had allergy issues and hormone imbalances defeating even my most diligent efforts. (Self-efficacy: my newly acquired sense of self-propulsion. It’s a good thing!) I’ve learned I don’t need to live with frustration, self-guilt, and blah, I usually feel so good that I do not feel I am “withstanding” anything, yet the last few days….wo is me!
Well, I finally pulled out all my raw recipe books (ordered back in late February) and decided I could explore a little more. First, I tried a raw, dark fudge-walnut brownie. Pretty good. I’magonna work out my own version. Monday night, while I was cramming in work on a project for school, I was bombarded with the smells and sounds of the children making the home made pizzas. I thought I would set them up, leave the room, and immerse myself in the project so I wouldn’t think of food. I drank down a large smoothie, so I wasn’t physically hungry. I even appreciated the fact that this new blend was pretty yummy. Three hours later, with the smell lingering in the house, I could not take the torture any longer. I ran into the kitchen and pulled out an emergency ration of wheat/gluten/yeast-free flour and made up a pizza crust. I topped it with cashew ricotta with a bit of basil and oregano in it, some sliced, fresh tomatoes straight out of my garden, and some fresh basil, spinach leaves, olives, and thin slices of onion. It was wonderful (though not completely raw).
Tuesday, it was raw lasagna. I modified a recipe I found in Raw Food, Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis. I wish I could broadcast the smells coming from my kitchen through this blog! Cashew Ricotta, Cashew/basil/spinach pesto, fresh tomato sauce, and fresh tomato slices layered between layers of zucchini squash “noodles”. I hear son #2’s skeptical voice saying, “But its cold!” I ask you, have you ever eaten left-over lasagna straight out of the fridge? Well, this is better. It could be warmed in a dehydrator- (raw cooks warm things slowly in dehydrators to preserve more nutrients)- but I liked it the way it was. Vibrant colors and fresh, full flavors! Served it to those of my children who would give it a try, and they all liked it. A few days later, I took a dish over to my parents’ home and shared it with them- winner, winner!
I have had a couple of friends and relatives ask, “So, do you feel like you constantly have to talk yourself into thinking whatever you make tastes the same as ‘the real thing’?” My answer is no! I would never trick myself into believing raw pizza is the same thing as Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, or Little Caesar’s. However, those offer something completely different. When I ate that way, I weighed somewhere around 200 pounds! I was always congested, had stomach problems, could never lose weight, and never felt full for more than an hour or so. I had skin problems, and a poor self-image. I will not claim that eating raw was a cure-all; I have other things going on in my body. I will say that this has been a big step toward me becoming vibrant and healthy, losing weight (a lot of it), and feeling well. I taste much more and have more variety in the foods I choose than I did before. I also like the social aspects of eating vegan. I do not condemn the consumption of animal products on moral grounds because I believe there are times and places where they present the best viable options for the people who will consume them. However, I believe the standard American diet (and probably other countries have picked up America’s bad habits here) contain way too much. Because animal products are so heavily relied upon, Americans consume fewer micro-nutrients, but use more land,water, and other resources producing beef and other animal-based foods. I do believe as a socially conscious individual, I can make a difference by limiting the amount of animal products I consume, and in turn I will gain better balance within myself and support production of foods that use fewer resources and give more back- to those who eat them and to the land from which they are harvested. If I needed them, I would eat them; but I don’t so I am not.
So, for now, my large ceramic baking dish has been repurposed! It is an un-baking dish, a serving dish, the receptacle for all things delicious and nutritious.
Hope everyone is eating well and taking care of themselves!