Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Raw Food Pot Luck on Bainbridge Island! Yippie!

I am so psyched!  I received an email from the organizer, Rain, as well as an invite to their Yahoo Group to get started.  The next pot luck is July 26th.  I hope there is a good turnout.  Rain said there are about 25 people registered with the group, but they only tend to have 10 or so show up each pot luck.  Either way, I'm so glad to meet other people here who are following raw food and can work with me, maybe, to get some more restaurant choices on menus!

Health-wise, I saw a wound care specialist yesterday.  We had a great appointment and he really understands what's happening with me.  He said spot on my leg that's not healing looks health enough to heal, but because of all my complications, it may take longer than expected.  I'm cool with that.  I feel good vibes from this dr. and know he'll do all he can to help me.  The best part is he gave me compression stockings!  Ohhhhhh...very oh, la, la!  Only the best Italian grandma's flash those kinda knee highs!  But, it will help with my poor swollen ankles and feet.  One day, and it's already better.  I could get on semi-normal shoes today for the first time in weeks.

Raw food?  Doing well.  I did have my first cooked meal in a month yesterday, but I decided it was best to make it a vegan meal.  I love Indian food, so I chose to go to Chutney's Grille on Capitol Hill.  Their write up's talk about how they use fresh produce and make everything from scratch.  It was quite good for taste, but I will admit it didn't make me pine after cooked food.  I only pined over the leftovers of my Saag Chole (spinach with chickpeas) and rice because it was delicious.  I also had a tomato based bisque soup with summer veggies.  Very tasty too, though it was a bit hot for my mouth now that I'm getting used to cooler foods.  My glucose did as before when I had a cooked dinner, by lunch I was in the 200's, but normalized quickly.  So, I'm still off all diabetes meds, with a smile and a "yatta ta ta" dance.

It's still pretty easy.  I enjoy making my own food.  I enjoy the food I'm eating.  It tastes wonderful to me.  I never thought I'd be following a vegan diet, but here I am.  Periodically, I'll have a craving for eggs or cheese, but not enough to make me go back to diabetic medications.  I'm sure I'll be able to have a traditional farm breakfast some day, just as a splash out, but by the time I'm ready to splash, I may not want it.  Strange as that seems to me.  Breakfast out was my favorite meal out.  Now, it's next to impossible unless I go get a smoothie somewhere.  Not many choices on the "where" these days, though there is a place on the Island that sells a few smoothies.   I had one this afternoon, and I like mine better!

Time to rest up and read a bit.  Checked out a bunch of cook books on Indian food from the library in hopes of finding good recipes to use or convert.

Peace, love, out!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Get your facts straight, girl!

My book arrived today!!  Well, not MY book, but the book I ordered after taking the raw food prep class with Heather H. Phillips at Redmond's Whole Foods.  Becoming Raw by Davis, Melina, and Berry has been tauted as the most comprehensive, facts based book on raw food to date.  I've started reading but still have a ways to go.

The first part is a historical and "movement" overview.  I've learned much already.  I thought Ann Wigmore was one of the first published, but I was off by a good 100 years.  Much of the movement started in Germany during the late 1800's.  (boy, Germany must have been a crazy place at that time when you think of all the medico's whose practices were considered Freud and others).   As I work through it, I'll post a better review.

The raw food life is going well.  I'm have a bit more craving for the standard diet, but have been able to fix that by filling the appropriate nutritional request the ol' body wants.  It seem that protein cravings are the strongest, and I'm very happy filling them with hummus or black bean dips.  It's strange, but ever time I reach for the can of salmon to fill it, I change my mind and reach for a can of beans instead and make a dip.  Yes, canned and processed, but with the rarity of use it's the best way to make sure I can get what's needed without wasting food.

For most of my life, I took foods for granted.  Unlike some Native American practices where all foods are blessed for giving their energy and life to the human consumer, I just consumed.  Since becoming raw, I'm appreciating where my food is coming from and what it takes to get it there.  I've seen several documentaries on food production in the past, and it has always made me very sad, but did not convert me to vegetarianism or veganism.

What actually impacted me most was a short story from an Australian author.  Of course I can't remember who the author is or the title of the story, but I think it was published in an anthology of Oz SciFi and Fantasy stories.  It was about the creation of a hybrid "meat" creature that was raised to feed humans after other animals were emancipated from production-like environments.  The scientists who created the "meat" creatures were interviewed by a reporter to tout the benefits of these animals had as "food" because of their superior genetic design optimal for human consumption and, most importantly, that the creatures had no understanding of who or where they were.  They were the perfect food fodder because they were senseless.  The story unfolds that the reporter is approached by one of the beasts who communicates, in their own way, that they are cognizant and know what's happening to them.  More than a documentary, this strange and disturbing story lodged in my mind the not so fair practices of animal domestication and husbandry.  When a hunt occurs, at least there is some chance for the hunted.

We humans practice such unfair advantages over other animals that it's sad.  It shows us not as smarter because we can farm them, but there is a selfishness and a cruelty to it.  I ask myself now, is it enough to walk away from a hamburger when I feel my health is strong enough to permit myself some cooked food?  I don't know.  It's like Victoria Bentenko says, "We are addicted to cooked foods."  I find the pull even stronger than anything else.  I know it's partly because food is the center of life.  We socialize around it, and like other addictive substances, we comfort ourselves with it and use it for other purposes than its meant.

An interesting sidebar that has also surfaced since going raw has been a re-centering of the food addiction principle in my life.  I still eat with gusto and enthusiasm, but I find I don't have the cravings for things as with cooked food.  The window of what I could eat with cooked food was so wide and broad that a desire to fulfill any fixation was possible.  With changing to raw foods, so many of the unhealthy attachments I had to food come to the surface before I can indulge them because I have to think about HOW to get the "fix" in this new food world.  It makes me stop and think twice before I prepare and eat something based on a desire, as opposed to a bodily need.

Since going raw, I can hear my body ask for different foods more for need than want.  I like it.  I feel more at peace with my kitchen, my pantry, and my body than driven by a desire that is manufactured in more ways than mentally created.

I know I have much to learn and a long way to go on this journey.  Where I end will be intriguing to me.

Peace, love, out!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Joined "The Vault"!

The wonderful website "The Raw Food Rehab" has a program called The Vault.  It's an 11 week commitment program to eating raw, taking care of yourself, exercising, and finding a solid spiritual path for yourself in those few short weeks.  I decided to join because if I change locations (from the PAC NW to DC) the stresses will be different, but it will still be stressful. 

In these 11 weeks (and then some), I'll also be undergoing a major health change by reducing my prednisone by 5 mgs a month based on the treatment plan my Hopkins doctors have in store for us.  At 40 mgs a day, that means I'd be off prednisone in 8 months if all goes well.  If I can rebalance my body in that period of time, I will then have to face what to do with myself!  I'll also have to start rebuilding that retirement account I thought I'd never use!  I'll do it happily! 

Will raw work?  I don't know.  Am I skeptical.  Yes, a little bit.  Do I have hope?  More than I probably should.  Will I go for it?  YOU BET!

To start The Vault (July 10th), I have to post a picture and physical stats.  I've done that because I already captured that information for this experiment.  My weigh in day will change from Tuesdays to Friday/Saturday or Sunday at the latest.  I have to post once a week to keep an active status in The Vault.  It will be interesting to meet all the new people.  They are just wonderful so far.

For my own Food Health Experiment, I have to get my stat's done for this month, but the good part is that I've captured the data.  I just have to do the math...yuck. 

This week had its "downs".  I didn't loose any weight, but I didn't gain any either.  For being out and about, (5 days in DC coming off a 10 day visit with my little sister and her kids) I think I did OK.  The "up" side is I didn't gain either.  I was exactly as before.

My back pain has really curtailed what I can do.  I hope to be better soon.  I seem to keep re-injuring myself in the evening while reading in bed or rolling over, etc.  Nothing like lightening volts of pain shooting across your lower back to make you never want to move again.  My brain screams, "Call 911!"  A few short breathes and it seems to get better.

Wish me luck with The Vault.  It will take me through to September 24th and 30mgs prednisone, if all goes as planned.  I don't see the eye doctor until July 20th to record the exact status of my eyes and can start tapering after that's done.  I'm still waiting for my doctor to chime in on his thoughts about going to DC for tapering.  Hope he'll send something soon.

Take care all!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Basic Raw Food Information: The Low Down

 After following raw food for one month and having amazing results with my diabetes management, plus starting to see some other physical changes, I realized I needed to put together a short primer of links to explain raw food and raw foodism.


What is meant by raw food?
Raw refers to food that is unprocessed, unrefined and not exposed to heat over 116 degrees, which kills the enzymes and nutrients. It is composed of fresh fruit and vegetables along with nuts and seeds. Raw isn’t a fringe movement. We all need to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Raw is another way to incorporate them into your every day diet, but in an interesting way.
What are the benefits of a raw diet?
When your food is prepared so that it doesn’t lose it’s nutrient content, your body can utilize those nutrients for maximum function. You experience increased energy, mental clarity, weight normalization, and superior health. Your body was created to heal itself and to be able to ward off disease. Without the proper nutrients as it’s building blocks, your body loses it’s ability to do this. Raw foods also help you slow the aging process.

Do you need to be 100% Raw?

No. In fact, when people are transitioning, I don’t even recommend it as it can set some people up for failure. If you can get to 51% raw, very specific health providing benefits will be experienced and can even get measured. I am all about starting the journey and helping people find better health and vitality along the way.

Why don’t you heat the food above 118 Degrees?

Mainly we don’t want to kill the enzymes. Enzymes are considered to be the building blocks of our bodies. Our cells need enzymes to survive and function. Research has shown that people with chronic disease have lower enzyme content in their blood. There is clearly a connection between low enzymes and disease. Eating food with their enzymes still available aids digestion and because we can use the enzymes in food, we don’t deplete our own stores of enzymes.
Where do I get my protein
Vegetables and fruits actually contain at least 15% protein. Protein is also available in nuts, seeds, greens and sprouts. When eaten raw, that protein is assimilated  better by the body. So, you don’t need as much protein if you are eating it in a raw form.

From a recent radio interview with Rawmazing's Susan Powers (not the militant exercise guru from the 90's)

Talking about raw food is a passion that is turning into an obsession. Trying to communicate why we should be eating more raw foods in a short amount of time can be tricky. When you start talking about raw food, people seem to fall into a few different categories. There are the fast food junkies who don’t want to know anything about food affects their health. They look at me as if I am from another planet.  Then there are people who are becoming aware but giving up their comfort foods just isn’t an option yet. They still look at vegetarian, vegan and raw as extreme. It is the next group that I am the most interested in. They are the people that have made the connection. They know that what they eat can dramatically impact their health. They are interested in learning about healthier ways to eat. Those are the people I love to talk to.

When I talk about raw food, I really am just trying to help people understand how valuable it is to incorporate more fresh, nutrient dense foods into your diet. The more the better. Rawmazing is all about learning how to do this painlessly and joyfully!

It is easy to understand why you should be eating more raw, unprocessed foods. Think of this: your body is designed to be a self-healing machine. You cut yourself, and your cells go to work. Voila, the cut heals. This self-healing occurs on many levels in our bodies. When fighting free radicals and disease, your body is constantly working to heal. The main fuel for this healing is the nutrients in your food.

If you are constantly eating nutrient void food, your body has no fuel to heal. That is when chronic disease sets in. It is a pretty simple theory. All we have to do is look around to see how our over processed, nutritionally absent diet is affecting us. Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes and Obesity are raging out of control.

The other day, I told a friend of mine that I no longer wanted to play Russian Roulette with my health. That is why I eat raw. I would rather stack the deck in my favor than try to grab at a passing card once in a while. Nutritious, unprocessed raw food will help you stack your deck. And it also tastes great!

Nutrients lost when food is processed (freezing, drying, cooking, cook & drain, and reheating)

This is just the beginning of explanation on what "raw" means.  They also follow the concept of food combining, meaning that raw foodist recommend eating fast digesting foods separate from slower digesting foods to prevent putrification in the gullet, which causes indigestion, gas, burping, and other discomforts.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Doctor, Doctor, give me some news, I gotta bad case of "autoimmune"! :)

Saw Dr. L yesterday. It was a good meeting, and interesting too.

He started by saying, "I'm not the same dr. I was 3 years ago, so my approach to your case will be a bit different from before." He noted that my primary concern is my eyes at this time. Most of my eye issues, except the scleritis and corneal melt have not been vision threatening. So, what he wants to do is treat my case like a new case. He wants to get very careful documentation of my eye flares and what controls them. He wants me to taper the prednisone slowly and if a  flare occurs with a non-vision threatening event, then try topicals besides steroid (which is what my topicals have been primarily), before going with the "mac truck" systemic prednisone, as he calls it.

His concern about infusions is that we've tried almost every type of immune cell suppression out there, and none reset my immune system. He's worried that without "new approach" data, he'd just be winging it as opposed to being methodical (a part of his methodology changes. that was influenced by my prior physician). So, infusions may occur, but not for 6 months or so if the data supports it. His hope is that we'll strike upon something that will control the eye topically and remove the steroid that way.

My opinion: Not sure this is going to work long-term, but I'm happy to try.. I agree to help him get his data in order to give him everything I can so he can work my case with confidence. I need to do this with Dr. L because if infusion is the end result, he'll need to be my referring physician for insurance purposes and it must be done at JHMI. It would be easier if I was local, but he thinks with coordination with my Seattle Dr's and possibly a recommended Optha from JH's Wilmer Clinic, we'll be able to get the data he wants and needs. It may make things rough going for the fall, but I guess the most important part is that I can get the coverage I need based on what happens.

Next step is to get a baseline eye exam.  Since all the Wilmer  Eye Clinic JHMI folk were not available this week, I emailed my former Optha, Dr. T and asked if she wanted me to head back to Baltimore to see her.  She emailed back saying if I could get into UW to see Sanjay, who I know from my time as her patient, she'd be more than fine with his info.  That's a good thing!  So, off I go to do that...need to get my baseline beore I can start my taper. 

It will be interesting to see if my raw food also helps the situation.  I know it won't be 100% clear because there are two changes occcuring at the same time, but if I can taper and keep flares under control, it would be an interesting combination.

On my raw quest today, I made a nice, spicy kale salad for my friends and they liked it.  I also made the chocolate mousse and key lime mouse for them.  That, too, was a hit.  The nut dip, not a hit!  haha. I didn't like it as much as the first time I made it, too.  I think I used pine nuts before, where tonight, I used sunflower seeds.  they were too strong a taste. 

Onward and upward!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Discombobulated Days!

Nothin' like a red-eye to mess up you're system!  But, I'm here in Washington, DC for a very important purpose.  I'm going to see my former Rheumatologist at Johns Hopkins to set up a treatment plan for the next 6 months or so.  It's a very pivotal point because it could mean I have to return to the DC area temporarily or permanently depending on how it goes.  There are goods and not so goods about both, but I'm rolling with whatever needs to happen if it helps my health.

My little sister and kidlets left earlier on Sunday than my red-eye, but as far as food goes, I flopped from the frying pan to the fire when it comes to challenges.  I'm staying at a dear friend's house and she's more than accomodating.  She and her husband were driving back from a family party, so i came into a house all stocked with foods I need and a blender on the counter!  WHOO-HOO!  I've got the best friends in the world :). 

I've made up some food already, so I'm ready to go!  We went out to Korean tonight and I had bibimbop, which is semi-raw.  Avoided the rice and miso, so I think I did much better than I might have done.  We'll be doin' Korean again on Thursday (she is Korean by you may guess) and whenever we see our group of friend's, it's always around the grilling table at a Korean restaurant based on our demands. She does the ordering and we eat quite well!  There is a cold noodle dish I might have.  It's semi-raw also, the noodles are buckwheat and cooked, but served in a cold broth with lightly blanched veggies.  Better than many choices. 

Tuesday night, I'll be having dinner with another friend who specifically looked up a raw menu for us to meet Raw needs.  How sweet is that??  I'm making the every popular chocolate mousse for her as a thank you.  She's very dairy intolerant and this may change her world!  :) 

After several days of hard raw focus, my glucose is easing back down to under 125.  I don't think it will stay there as I make some cooked food choices, but I'll do the best I can.  I have to do it or it's back on the meds.

We're coming up on the one month summary!!  Can't wait to review the data and get it all in order.

Stay tuned....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Iron tablets, UGH!

Before starting the Great Food Health Experiment, I was diagnosed with Anemia.  It was one of the "slippery slope" diagnosis that helped me realize I had to keep trying new things to heal myself.  Since last June, when I was first diagnosed anemic, I've managed to get the general anemia under control but my iron stores are continually low.  This means....iron tablets.  UGH!  Nothing gives me a sour, painful stomach faster than iron.  I've been able to take prednisone at high doses for years without this type of trouble, but he minute I pop the ol' iron pill...ouch.

The only thing that seems to help is putting something soothing in the tummy with the pill.  Sadly, there are not many super-soothers in the raw world that I know of yet.  What I used to eat was fiber cereal because it was filling, had fiber I needed and seemed to calm the discomfort.  As a processed, baked, wheat-based gluten item, it is no longer a possibility.  Many of the toasted cereals in the raw world are from gluten-based berries.  I don't know yet if I have a gluten problem, but I do know that wheat = carbs = glucose impacts.  So, I'll have to decide what to do when July testing of foods begins again.

With all the cooked food eating I've been doing in the last week's dinners, getting my glucose back under control has been quite the challenge.  My readings have been very high and still worries me.  I haven't hit the threshold set by my Dr., but I'm getting close.  I've had 2 days of very raw (90%+) and I'm still getting higher readings than I like.  The only other impact is the fruits and veggies I've selected:  green peas for soup, dates as sweet snack, and a cube or two of the forbidden mango that I was cutting up to put into the freezer.

This morning we have "Pancake Breakfast" scheduled and I made my raw pancakes last night.  Flipped them in the dehydrator before I sat at the computer and tested the outcome with a bit of the residual dough that stuck to the teflex sheet.  Might have ruined my glucose reading for this morning...sigh.

I guess I'm feeling the trials and tribulations more these days.  Not with the food, the prep or the lack of anything, but more with the nitty-gritty of trying to figure out what I can eat or can't eat or shouldn't eat in the raw world to keep my glucose under control.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wednesday was a dawn to dusk'er!

Yesterday, my visiting little sister and her kidlets (as they are known), spent the day in Seattle doing the tourist thang!  They were going to take the bus, but I wanted them to see more than was possible that way so I chauffeured them around so they wouldn't have to find parking, find places, find everything!  It was a very nice day, until....

I emailed to say I was on my way to meet them for lunch.  They were supposed to have rode the monorail from the 1962 World's Fair to see the Space Needle and the Pacific Science Center by then.  Well, I get an email back saying "Our Go Seattle passes are messed up."  Greeeeeaaat!  I convinced her that was the best way to go and here, something's wrong.  Come to find out, when we picked the one-day passes up, she was supposed to received 3 children's cards and 1 adult card.  The ticket booth person insisted that she needed only 1 child's card that held all three passes on it.  Uh...NO.

 The monorail folks didn't catch it, so my sister got to the Seattle Center, several miles from the ticket booth for the GO passes, and could not do anything that was scheduled.  She forgot my email...and I wasn't checking, so it really wouldn't have mattered...and she lost 2.5 hours on a day pass.  I vented my spleen using every horrible non-curse phrase that could be said in front of kidlets on our way to back to the ticket place (Stupid Cow!  Idiot's Son!, etc.)
She got the passes fixed.  The ticketing company said they couldn't issue a refund because the purchase was made through a third party company (regardless that  it wasn't the third party's fault anyway) so the they gave her a dinner cruise for her and the three kidlets to Blake Island and dinner at Tillicum Village, a small historic post for native American culture.  We had to pay for my dinner, but that was it.

The food was fine, but mostly cooked.  I was too hungry by then to forgo the whole buffet (meaning the cooked stuff) and I knew my glucose would make me pay for it.  It did.  Today, after having so many days in a row with a cooked dinner, my lunch reading was 235.  An all time high since June 1st.  So, I now know that I will never be able to follow a median raw diet where I eat raw most of the day and have semi-cooked dinner with the family.  Maybe in time once my body's balance is back in order it may be somewhat possible, but only time will tell.  I'm back on track today and had a full raw day.  Hopefully my glucose will praise me for it tomorrow!

Today was a slower day.  Chiropractor said things are progressing nicely.  I'm at that point where I feel better and can do some real retro-damage by trying to do too much too soon.  I expressed this to the Dr. and he smiled and shook his head in agreement.  After, I did the chores I needed to complete around town and came home for a lovely lunch of Pea, Spinach and Pesto soup, herbed cashew cheese and flax crackers.  Made up a new batch of crackers, and tried out a few recipes with dehydrating flavored cabbage like kale chips.  It will be interesting to see if the cabbage works out.  It's less expensive, always available, and could be quite a nice change up from my ever-enjoyed kale chips.

With the last whisps of energy, I organized my counter tops that were very cluttered in the shift over from cooked food to raw food as primary.  It was "canning glass jars bouncing on the floor" accidents just waiting to happen.  A remedy was needed, and quick!  The hardest part will be the rote action to an objects former location, knives are on the right corner space....but now, LEFT!  ugh.  Change is the spice of life, eh?

Hi-ho,'s off to bed I go!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good-bye, my dear Mango!

Today was the second time I had mango for breakfast.  At noon my glucose was 200, the highest it's been since June 1st.  Mangos are not my sugar buster friend.  Very sad!  I love mangos, but they don't love me.  Oh well...guess I'll need to peel them and give them to my sister and her family to eat.  They are not very adventurous food-wise, so I hope they get eating because they are very good, very sweet.  I guess not my issue once there turned over because I can't/shouldn't eat them.

Big kale chip fest at the ol' homestead today.  I'm making a bunch to send to DC so when I'm there, I'll have some of my munchy foods available.  I'll have to figure out how to make it work with Ji and Scott being gone over the weekend.  Maybe their neighbor can watch for the box and pick it up off the stoop?  I'll have to ask.

Made a delicious dinner of zucchini "pasta" and pesto with asparagus and tomato.  Finished with a chocolate mousse.  Very tasty!  After eating my first cooked meal in weeks (went out to Elliot's Bay Oyster Bar for "Adult Night Out" last night), I did OK today.  My AM glucose was 111, much better than I anticipated.

Even though I had a delicious meal, I was not riveted by it.  I was not pinying away for the chance to have another cooked meal.  The salmon was tasty and the veggies good, but I missed my raw foods in place of the cooked veggies I received.  I was a little surprised at my palate's reaction, but happy about it, too. 

Tomorrow is Seattle Day for my little sister and her kidlets (11, 9 and 6).  I'll be taking them over and doing some driving round.  Not much touring for me though.  Thank goodness!   I'll pack up a lunch and take it with me.  The kidlets are going to McDonalds, so I'll just slide in and have my lunch on the side.

Peace, love, out!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hurricane Ridge!

Well, my next big challenge came along: spending a whole day out of the house!  For Father's Day and my little sister and kidlets visiting, we went hiking at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Forest (WA), an alpine meadow environment in the middle of the forest. I brought all my food and they had a few things like carrots and olives that I could eat.

The night prior, I made some oatmeal cookies a la Juliano (yes, just JULIANO...with a flourish!) from his book "Raw: The Un-cookbook".  They are pretty good.  Not like a full out baked cookie, but close enough to make the mind and tummy happy. 

The hike was lovely!  There was still snow on the ground in places and covering parts of the trail.  I was OK until we reached a point where the snow was a good 1/3 mile over the trailway.  It was so soft that my hiking poles would set, then sink.  I didn't bring my snow "shoes" for the poles, so that ended my hiking with the group.  Balance it too far off to risk such treks.

Because I stayed behind on a scenic spot bench, I had 2 deer come very close to me and say "HI".  This one was the second of three.  The third met me at the entrance to the trail.  When the family was gone for so long (4 kids, 3 adults and a jog stroller), I thought it best that I hike down not knowing how slow I'd have to go.  Didn't want to hold anyone up when I knew based on time, that they'd be close to the breaking point; especially the 3 year old.

At the car, I offered to buy dinner for the crew.  My Bro in law likes Mexican, so that's where we headed.  I knew Mexican would be a difficult place for me to find anything that was fully Raw without eating just lettuce, but it was Father's Day and I wanted to do something nice for him.

I ended up with the best cooked option I could find; vegetable fajita, no dairy stuff, and extra guacamole.  I had 3 small tortillas and gave my last one to Lauryn (the oldest of the kidlet crew) because I could tell she was still hungry. 

My blood sugars this AM weren't too bad, 135, but it does show me how quickly eating off raw can impact my numbers.  Higher than if I have a raw day complete, but not too bad. 

Today is semi-correction day.  We have a "Dinner out with the Adults" planned for tonight, which means cooked food again.  But, I'm still going very raw most of the time.  We picked a seafood restaurant because that much easier for me to manage.

Headed out to hit the beach on Puget Sound a few blocks from the house with the kidlet crew, then the mall for niece #2 to get her ears pierces (oh, milestones, milestones!).  The adults will clean up and head to Seattle for our dinner at Elliot Bay.

Happy Raw Day!! : )

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My little sister is here!

And the motley trio of Kidlets!  We're having a good time, too.  Went for a hike in "The Grand Forest" this morning.  They headed off to the swimming pool for the afternoon and I came back to the humble abode to rest for a bit. 

Today's meals went smoothly.  I tried my Cashew Cheese for the first time and it was quite good, I must say.  Looking forward to more tomorrow :)

My biggest concern has been to be prepared for them and not miss out on time at the table with the group.  I think I'll be all set because I did alot of preparation last night and this afternoon.

The big interesting project tonight are "Oatmeal Cookies" from RAW by Juliano..yes, one name.  I AM  Juliano! :)  They are in the dehydrator for 12 hours, so tomorrow morning they should be ready.

Today is short and sweet.  No major food ups or downs.  It's been pretty easy to pass up the fries, etc. on the table.  I like what I'm eating and how it makes me feel.  I am truly living the alternate moniker, "No food tastes as good as thin feels".  Well, for me, "No food tastes as good as no medications feel!"

Friday, June 18, 2010

She gets the "bad blogger" award this week!

I just noticed that I missed blogging for 2 days!  Bad girl!

Today is a transfer of information.  I met this amazing, undaunting woman on my Raw Foods Rehab blog site but I think she need to come out in the open.  Out of the composter, in to the real world.  No more being sheltered in a community of like-minded individuals.  She must don her cape in public.  She must stand for the truth and righteousness of natural foods.  She must get a haircut one of these days, but it is too late for that today!

Everyone, I'd like you to meet...Raw Woman:  Your Everyday Super Heroine. 

"Raw Woman: Your Everyday Super Heroine" - Episode 1

She stands upon an earthen mound of compost envisioning her cape fluttering in the wind. Her hands rest gently, yet firmly on her hips as she gazes into the bright, noon day sun. A satisfied smile graces her lips. At a glance, it is obvious she does not go for the glam seen in most super heroine garb, but a pair of blue demim overalls rolled at the cuff and black Croc boots to keep her dainty feet shod and dry.

Contemplating to mow the lawn or start filling her composter, she knows that a super heroine's work is never done, but it is life and what makes it wonderful.

"Raw Woman: Your Everyday Super Heroine" - Episode 2

When we last met Raw Woman, she was torn -- in conflict of which heroic deed to perform first-- mowing her lawn or starting her composter; only for her to get up caught musing about the beauties of life. But, being a Super Heroine, she managed to do all three with the speed of the wind and the skill of a bird in flight.

Changed back into her "everyday woman" disguise of yoga pants, a print t-shirt, and her comfy slip on sandals, she intermingles with the rest of the world -- the "normal" people -- marvelling at how the secrets of her super powers are at there fingertips but their walls...oh so many walls...prevent them from grasping the power that is now hers.

Sighing as she reaches for a beautfully ripe, organic bundle of kale and smiles knowing that some day her seceret will be out. But until then, the best kale will her hers, oh yes, it WILL be hers!

Stay tuned for our next episode of "Raw Woman: Your Everyday Super Heroine"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A fun side project...

I belong to a really great group of people at the "Raw Food Rehab".  One of the member is seeking spreads and dips that do not have nuts, seeds or avocado in them.  She's wants a break from nuts and seeds and is allergic to avocados.  These are stock items in many recipes, especially in dips and spreads.  Nuts pureed, make a peanut butter like consistency and are used for many dairy replacements - cheese, cream cheese, when dried - parmasian, etc.  Avocado - same idea.  It makes a great creamy base. 

So, I saw her request and not many folks had suggestions at the time.  It fits in really well with the recipe transfers I'm looking to do with French and Spanish foods.  Tapas are great for those types of things and the French have little bites of things than I'm excited to try.

Speaking of trying, I decided I wanted to try smoking vegetables off the heat of a grill.  Ya', I know you guys, you were thinking "she's already smokin' something!!"  Well, that seems to be the challenge in the raw food world with smoke flavoring on food.  It can't be heated over 118 degrees, so I figured, let's try it off the heat source!

I've invented an off heat smoker that used vent materials from Home Depot.  We'll see how well it works tonight.  I've got eggplant and a variety of "states" mushrooms (fresh - sliced and whole; frozen and thawed (less water in them).  I'll have to keep the mushrooms segregated so I know which ones are which when the taste testing comes around. 

I need to go off and review my smoking directions.  Don't want to set the house on fire.  I'm sure my family would be pleased if I did, NOT!

Peace, love, out!

How to define "Normal"

Boy, wouldn't everyone like that definition!  Actually, what I'm getting at is how our beliefs are the foundations for our decisions.  Everything we chose gets put through our internal scales with plus and minus pebbles getting dropped in the decisions making pans. 

Some decisions are a snap because one of the belief pebbles is more like a boulder and would require some heavy chiseling to make it less important so to have less weight.  Say you are a firmly devout person to your religion and you've been asked to break a covenant of your faith?  Your mind will instantaneously return "no" as your answer.  To break with your firm faith would require more than a one-step request to change.  

Other decisions are so evenly balanced that making them requires tremendous mental anguish and effort to come to a conclusion; or with close balance sometimes we don't really care one way or another, like when chosing what's for dinner some nights with no strong cravings in place.  

Examples that come to mind on hard decisions are the mental games we play with food.  Looking down a menu, we see food we should eat that is healthy and good for our bodies, food we shouldn't eat but tastes wonderful to us, and food that is a compromise, that has some good and some not so good for us ingredients in it, like those darn Pecan Chicken Salads where they bascially serve you fried chicken without the bone on lettuce and other lovely vegetables drown in dressing.  Tasty, and it's "a salad" but devistating to the waistline.

The hard balance come when our convictions about what we are eating waivers.  Cravings step in, and then our mental justifications step in.  We become the most amazing sales people on the face of the planet, selling ourselves on the large pizza or double-stuffed hamburger so it would fit into our eating plan (though it really wouldn't).  Or, we play the balancing game of food swapping, a healthy dinner so I can have a big, bad dessert even though I'm not supposed to have sugar or I won't get the cheese stuffed-crust meatza pizza, just a regular pepperoni.  Marketers and menu makers are a clever species that knows how to have off-thescale offerings that make the not-so-good choices look OK in comparison.

So how does all this tie into defining normal?  People tend to be self-centric.  When we think, it is most always about how things impact us.  Will she like me?  Does this suit me?  Am I right?  and so on.  And when we ask these self-centric questions, we base our answers on our beliefs.  We develop our beliefs to create baseline rules to structure our world.  These baselines are what defines "normal" for us, because we all know each of us is quite balanced and normal through and through.
What I'm asking from today's post is to start questioning your definition of "normal" in connection to food.  I had to ask myself that question when I approached the idea of following a raw food diet.  To me, and most of the world, cooked food is "normal".  It is how you prepare most food.  I could hear the pebbles hitting the "belief in cooking food" pan like rain hitting a rooftop.  But, then I stopped.  I realized that my belief was based on what I grew up with and what most of society considered "normal", which is a cooked food diet with meat, vegetables, eggs, dairy/cheeses, fruits, wheat, soy, yeasts, and nuts/seeds.  Why is that normal?  Is there something that could not be normal about eating foods in their natural state?  Why couldn't that be "normal"?  In fact, wouldn't that be more "normal" than cooking food?

Some of the proponents of raw food cite our great, great ancestors and their food ways as the basis on why the body accepts raw foods better than cooked foods.  Before we became an agricultural society, we hunted and gathered with an emphasis on gathering.  Most food was gathered up each day.  Very little was stored for long periods of time because nature did a better job of keeping it fresh on the vine, in the tree or in the ground.  Most was eaten in its natural form because pots, pans, water supply, fire, a safe and stable place to cook, having time to cook it, those things just didn't exist.  Nomadic and in preservation-mode from all other beasties, humans truly ate "fast food".  They had to gather and eat while protecting themselves from predators.  They needed something that could go up the tree with them easily, yet keep them nourished, and it better not need cooking! 

For tens of thousands of years, this is how humans ate.  Our genetic fitness was reproduced by those who could survive and thrive on raw, natural state foods.  It wasn't until full domestication of people into agriculture that cooking and meat became more common.  When we didn't have to hunt for a cow, beef appeared on the table more often and grains for breads became standard "staff of life" food because humans were in one place for a whole season to raise and protect the grain. These foods were rare for our ancient ancestors who's bodies had been honed to be good extractors of nutrients from uncooked, natural foods. 

In today's world, all food for most people comes a domesticated source.  It is the rare person who hunts and gathers their food, and they are often seen as way out of the norm.  In this world of domesticated food, we have seen diseases take over our bodies.  Not just opportunistic disease by bacteria and viruses, but self-creating disease like autoimmune disease where the body actually attacks itself; the anti-thesis of what the body's self-preservation and healing mechanisms are designed to do.  In the industrialized world, humans have become so detached from food sources and its purpose to the body that our physicians first seek chemical medications to cure our ills over returning to the body's time-ingrained program of how it extracts nutrients and the  way to feed it, as well as what happens to food's nutrients that alter when we plunge them into heat.  It is labeled "not normal" in society if we return to eating food in their natural state, that may be a means to permit the body to do what its programmed to do, self-preserve and heal itself. 

For years, I've been reluctant to accept food as a method of medicine, primarily because I experimented and never saw it work or had the results that I've seen by following a drastic change, such as a raw diet.  I, like many other people who have weight to lose, tried the most popular, mainstream, MD based programs.  I followed Zone, Adkins, South Beach, and others.  These all re-portion or remove parts of a normal cooked diet.  The one thing I had never tried, in large quantity, was to remove the chemistry in the food process; that is remove the heating and the processing factors in the food I eat. 

After reaching these conclusions, I needed re-define "normal" for me in regard to food.  In my prior posting about Drastic vs. Subtle Change, this was a drastic change.  I would be required to turn my back on what American society and most of the world saw as the "normal" way to eat.  But, it is society that create that "normal" and it is my choice to change "normal" for me.

When faced with the Elimination Diet for Allergies two years ago, I found it difficult to stay with it for the 4 weeks required to cleanse the body before testing food groups for allergic reaction or sensitivity.  I'd sit at the table where my family was eating all the "normal" food, and I was eating off a very, very finite list of foods, though cooked, often did not look, feel or taste like theirs.  I felt restricted.  I felt negated from things I wanted and were "normal" to have.  Somehow, this sense of negation changed when I understood the raw foods concepts.

When I took on raw food June 1st, I also started developing a new definition of "normal" for me.  What happened is that instead of looking at the table and thinking, "That is my way of eating and I should be able to have anything in the category of my way of eating food", I could look at the table and say, "that's nice and good smelling stuff, but its not food for me.  It will not heal me or keep me well".  When I considered and thought of myself as a person who ate cooked foods all the time, elimination was deprivation.  Out of 100% of the cooked foods possible to eat, I was not permitted to eat 40-50% of them.  I could not partake of what others were so joyously partaking.

When I shifted my beliefs to say "eating food in it's natural state, uncooked, is my way of eating" it made almost all of foods not permitted, but it also became my medicine.  To not eat raw foods is like not taking my prescribed medications as agreed upon with my physicians.  To have my health fail for the sole reason of not taking those medications is my fault.  To not eat raw, which has shown to take away my need of diabetic medications, would be like turning my back on a medication that has the power to heal me. 

As discussed above, humans have an amazing ability to justify, but we have thresholds on where we'll draw a line. The closer the line is to the waffling point, the easier it is to justify a bad choice. As with drastic change, it is easier to tell yourself something is not possible because it is 99.9% against your beliefs in place of 40%.   We all have 1% cravings. :)

 It is harder to say no to something that is just on the other side of the prohibited line (pancakes are carbs, I'll just eat less of other carbs step justification), in place of saying no to something that is 10 steps away and requires justifications to take each step towards the bad choice (pancakes are 1) cooked ingredients - not a raw food, 2) wheat - not elimination allergy diet, 3) dairy, ditto - not EAD, 4) egg, - ditto, 5) syrup - need we say more!).  

The proverbial raw fudge icing on the hazelnut chocolate cake is when food must be medicine.  It is much easier to list the 10 steps and see how bad the choice would be to my health against the instant gratification of pancakes.  Are pancakes worth dying for?  I don't think so, anymore.

Within a few day after June 1st and my diabetes started improving so quickly, my "normal" - my conviction toward raw food - became a boulder, not a pebble.  I could see direct, immediate impact of drastically changing how my food was prepared to how my health changed.  Fourteen days after making this change, I no longer need diabetic medications to manage my blood sugars, this while taking in more carbs than I have in years.  By committing to eliminate almost all cooked food, and I received the gift I wanted...better health.

Could this experiment fail in the long run?  Yes.  Is it too soon to know if my diabetes with adjust and flare up on a raw diet too?  Yes, it is possible.  But for now, I'm going to follow the plan because I physically feel stronger and healthier, more satisfied after I eat, and have the additional benefit of not taking diabetic medications for as long as this may last.  My hope is it will only increase and I'll get to kiss the prednisone, the Cogan's, the daily bad health good-bye until the end of life as I know it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Looks like I slacked off a day....but, I'm just late in the day

Drove to Redmond, WA (home of Microsoft), for my final raw food preparation class.  Today was breakfast and brunches.  Once again, delicious food.  I must say, when I got home I was a bit nut and sweet'ed out.  Today's menu were two green smoothies, oatmeal with raisins, tropical fruit crepes with mango sauce, and cinnamon rolls (of a sort).  With all the dried fruit and nuts, I came home craving green things.

Amazingly, though, I put almost all the recipes into my Living Cookbook software, then put the nutritional stat's in my health tracking system and my total values for the day were below the standard line.  It's amazing.

Something else I learned is that miso is packed with salt!  I will use it sparingly.

On my way to Redmond, I reviewed my favorite spanish and french cookbooks for possible recipes to convert into raw meals.  I found several, so far, that look very promising.  I realized that if I'm going to try the contest video, I'm going to need a better recipe than the soup.  I'll need something more complex and blended in flavorings.  I may not be up for it this year.  I'll need to keep thinking on it.

Well, short note today to talk about raw class.  Need to rest.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Raw Foods Class with Heather Haxo Phillips!

What a day!  What FOOD!  Ms. Haxo Phillips is a Raw Foods Chef from San Francisco.  She tours around Whole Foods Stores giving raw food demonstration and preparation lessons. 

Today's first class was "Forget Cooking" that covers many of the basics of raw foodism, and included 5 of her favorite "best hits" recipes that both raw foodists and non-raw'ers enjoy.  It has made me crave yet one more gadget, a spiral slicer for making vegetable noodles.  : )  Her zucchini noodles were much better than my mandoline/hand cut ones from earlier this week.  They just looked so good and tasted great!  She put a marinara with her zuke...delicious. 

The second class, in the afternoon, was all about desserts or "Divine Desserts".  Just fabulous tasting sweets that...get this...hardly raised my blood sugars.  After sampling, blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream, key lime pie, a truffle, a lemon cranberry cookie, a sliver of chocolate hazelnut cake with fudge frosting and raspberries, my glucose reading 45 minutes after finishig was 140!  I could hardly believe it!! 

Yesterday was the last day on insulin.  I got up the courage to stop the last 10mgs of insulin and my glucose has been better today than any day since starting a raw diet and dropping my medication dosages. 

Tomorrow, if I make it to class, is Breakfasts and Brunches.  I have done a number on my back and its making me crazy. : (  I don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight, much less feel tomorrow.  It will have to be bad if I'm going to miss out on this class.  There are two recipes I'm aching to have:  1) oatmeal - which I love, and 2) cinnamon rolls! 

The last of the exciting news today is Living Light, a premiere vegan/raw foods chef school, has a video contest happening.  I'm scared but excited at the opportunity.  You have to present your own recipe and you have 5 minutes to do it.  If I submit, I'll have to get my video read this week because it's due June 30th.  My little sister is arriving in town on June 18th and we all depart on the same day, june 27th (me to DC for a Dr's appointment at Johns Hopkins and my sister and family, back home to the midwest). 

A part of the evaluation is if people vote for you having the best video.  The winner receives a grant for a class at the insitute, plus presenting online at a the Living Light Chef's showcase in August that will be broadcast worldwide!  What an opportunity!  I wish I was better prepared, but I guess you go with what'cha got!

Need to rest, if the ol' lady back will permit me some shut eye.  So much exciting news! Who would have thought raw food could bring this much excitement to life, eh?

Peace/love, out!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Some days, I tell ya'...

I may have mentioned - then again, maybe not - that I am deaf.  It is one of the hallmarks of Cogan's Syndrome Vasculitis, the autoimmune disease that I'm trying to "raw" out of my body.  I have cochlear implants (CI's) that help with sound, but they are not the natural ear.  Most days, I'm perfectly content with the hearing loss.  There are certain triggers that frustrate me, but overall, I'm OK with it.  I prefer not using my CI's unless I'm around other people and it would make things easier if I wore them.

Well, today, I had one of my deaf frustration issues pop up.

My Excaliber arrived!  I ordered a supermachine dehydrator and I was so excited I found a new place for it in the kitchen, plugged the sink to wash the trays, and get started!  I left the kitchen and saw an email pop up.  I sat down and replied, taking my time.  Oh, a good 20 minutes later my brain finally caught up with my body, but it was too late.  I had completely flooded the kitchen, the countertop by the sink, the floor all the way out into the dining area.  I "woke up" just as the water was about to reach me sitting at my computer in the living room.  UGH!  Deaf girl strikes again.  When you don't hear the water running, splashing down the drawer faces like a Hawaiian waterfall, you tend to get flooding. I did this once before with a bathroom sink at another house.  So frustrating.

But, that is neither here nor there in regard to Raw or my health, except that a tool that is supposed to help my health racked up some serious stress levels for me and my back, that wasn't happy with me before the water clean up, is now really cranky with me.  Luckily, I have a carpet machine that most of the water vacuuming for me.  Worked quite well, I must say.

Due to water duty, I was late in fixing my dinner but I made it to the table in time to eat with everyone else.  I was thrilled to have a recipe that was so quick at my fingertips.  I got it put together in less than 1/2 hour.  No pictures today.  No time or patience left in me for such things.  But, I had Marinated Portobello Mushrooms with nut cheese sauce, snap peas, and beet/greens juice.  I knew I needed the juice to give me some "umph" after the stress and the work I'd done.
Before Niagra Stacey's, this morning was "get the patio ready for company" day.  I started at 10am and worked until 1pm, weed whacking, sweeping, planting, rearranging how my garden containers are laid out, and, most importantly, started my compost bin.  Yeah!  I kept waiting for the sun to come out and dry the lawn so I could use the grass as the foundation material but it didn't happen until late in the day and I was busy with the indoor water problem by then.

Now, this does have direct corrolation to raw:  I was amazed I could keep going for 3 hours straight doing physical work.  I haven't had they kind of ability in years.  People always talk about the "energy" they have when they go on the raw food diets, but I never really understood until today.  That I could do all that work in one push...I truly have not been able to do anything like that in years.  I can get one thing done, but have to stop.  What a thrill to be able to be alittle like a normal person!

I'm tired though and look forward to my pillow alittle earlier than usual today. : ) 

Buenas Noches, mis amigos!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Busy day!

And I know the only way I've made it through is due to the diet change.  When I read about people saying they had more "energy", it was such a vague term to me.  I know it is because I never felt a change like I have since I started the Raw/EAD Food Health Experiment.

This morning, I woke around 6am.  Got up, had my homemade veggie/fruit/green juice.  Got ready for a meeting at 10am downtown, which meant pulling out materials I had stored away for over 6 months, tracking down papers, flyers, and folders that I needed.  I had a cup of raw granola I made from leftover rye berries, dried fruit and a bit of honey with cashew milk as a snack before heading out the door.

In the meeting and driving around afterward, I could tell my mind was working better.  I could keep thoughts in my mind longer and follow a longer train of thought than I have in months, if not years.  I felt more like I used to before the years of prednisone fogged my mind.

I ran around returning and buying goods in Poulsbo (about 25 minutes from home), and returned home at 4pm still feeling good enough to plan what I wanted for dinner and make it.

I ran out of time to make the Portobello Mushroom dish I picked out, so I had to go rogue!  I looked through the fridge and grabbed what sounded like it would work together. 

Cream of Avocado and Tomato Pistou Soup

I don't mean to brag on myself, but I'll tell ya'...I was licking the spatula like it was cake batter in the days of old!  Dang, this is good stuff!  If anyone wants a recipe, just post a comment and I'll get back to you with it.

Well, all that energy is finally draining off.  Time to get tucked up in bed with a good book. 

Peace, love, out!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

OK...that was just too good!

As you can see, I couldn't even wait to take the photo before I tucked into this delicious dessert!  The recipe is for a base vanilla ice cream that you can add your own "sides" to before you freeze it.  Being the "Kitchen Gadget-teer" that I am, I already had an inexpensive ice cream maker, and when I saw this recipe I knew it was for me!! :)  Andy's Amazing Raw Vanilla Base Ice Cream

This is actually "raw" ice cream, meaning that nothing is cooked, it has no dairy or processed sugar for sweeteners.  But, let me tell you, it was plenty sweet and delicious!  It has the same texture and taste as cow's milk based ice creams.  Oddly enough, this confection is made with cashews as the milk base and agave nectar and raisins create the sweet side.  The ripe apricot I had finished it off to perfection!

This followed another experimental dinner.  There has been talk on some boards about kelp noodles.  A neutral noodle made from some type of flour with kelp powder in it.  They, supposedly, pick up the flavor of the sauce with which they are served and have become a mainstay item in the Raw community.  The big questions haven't been satisfactorily answered, though, for true Raw-core people:  1)  Is it truly non-process heated from the beginning (making the flour) to the end (the final noodles)?  and 2) What is the true nutritional value by claiming it's kelp-based?  There are many trace nutrients in sea vegetables that people look for in something labeled "Kelp", but the packaging standards do not require manufacturers to show the details.  So, the question still remains...are kelp noodles a good idea for a Raw Foodist? 

Me, I'm still a newbie and could certainly get away with eating it.  But, if there is little nutritional value to them, then I don't know if I'm that interested at this time.  That's on the the kelp for now.

When people came back to my questions about kelp noodles, they brought suggestions of other choices.  The top referral? Zucchini.  Yes, that's right.  To make Zucchini "pasta", you peel and long-way, you very thinly slice the zucchini.  Depending on the type of "pasta you want, you cut the strips in the correct width.  Mix it with a sauce of choice and voila!  Dinner or a side dish.  I chose a very traditional combination by pairing my "pasta" with fresh pesto.  It was quite good.  I even have leftover pesto to eat with crackers or to mix with other veggies. 

The little red rings in the photo may look like hot peppers, but their not.  My local "cool" grocery had little baby bell peppers about the size of jalapenos for sale this week.  They are perfect for a single person who wants just enough pepper for one serving.  The bag has red, yellow and orange peppers...and they were mighty cute, too.

My current, on-going several day projects are to make rejuvelac (a lemony fermentation that is used in making nut cheese and is also a common drink for anyone who follow Dr. Witmore's cancer program).  I've also been peeling garlic to pickle, and once pickled to make garlic chips that can go on salads and in various dishes.  This is all a part of working on "the basics" of raw gourmet foods, so in a few weeks I'll have a nice store of easy to use goods in making new raw dishes. 

Tootles! :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Today Marks 1 Week

A summary of the week:

I started eating 80-90% raw foods meals on Tuesday, June 1st.  I did a bit of a practice day on May 31st, at about 50%, and it felt good.  I charged into Tuesday looking forward to it.

Many may think that my meals must be salad upon salad upon salad...but no!  I am a woman of research!  I am a woman of my times who is a complete and utter slave to the web, and happily so!  I found so many good sites for recipes and suggestions.  I joined several groups and one fantastic communtiy called "Raw Food Rehab" that is filled with wonderful, thoughtful people. 

I also found the website for James Russell, an English Chef who makes some incredible and amazing food without lighting the stove.  His creations are posted on his blog, if you'd like to see some of the Best of the Best creations in Raw Cuisine.  He uses a dehydrator, blenders and some very sharp knives, but all his food is created without heating any of it above 118 degrees.  It's stunning and quite an achievement. 

My other new favorite site is Raw on $10 a day or less by Lisa V.  It was a great starting point where I didn't have to think, all I had to do was make her listed recipes for Mango Breakfast Pudding or Tomato Basil Soup for lunch, a mushroom broccoli marinade for dinner and many other options.  She is also an artist and her painting are fabulous.  It's worth going to her site just to link over to her work.  I'm a big fan and promote her were I can!  Support Art! :)  

Health-wise, I have nothing but good to report.  I have more energy than I've had in months.  I am sleeping better, more deep with less wake up disturbances than before last week.  I never feel that gut heavy fullness (thank goodness) and it' not because I'm not eating or not eating filling foods.  I agreed with my sister to weigh in, and I've lost 5 lbs, though their the same 5 lbs. that I put on right before starting "The Experiment" when I was going through a period of "the not enough food in the world to feed me" phase.  I feel good and this is working. 

I'm almost off all diabetic medications, except for taking 10mg's insulin.  I'm alittle trepidation of stopping all diabetic meds so soon but, if my numbers are like today's on the morrow, I may have to stop completely.  I'm dipping into the 80's and 90's and both ends of the day with a 190ish posting mid-day.  Very good ranges.

In my weekly summary questions that I keep on my health data website I ask, "Will you continue?"  The answer this week is an absolute YES!  On to Week 2...

Upcoming events:  I was able to enroll in the Raw food preparations classes at Redmond Whole Foods on Saturday and Sunday (June 12-13) and I'm so excited.  I decided to stay over night in Redmond in place of hauling myself back and forth after taking 2 sessions on Saturday.  Stay tuned!

Monday, June 7, 2010

My First "RAW" recipe book creation and a Lettuce Wrap a la Stacey

As I expected, the RAW recipe book (Trotter/Klein) provides "culinary delights".  What is a culinary delight?  My definition: when you put together foods that go beyond taste to promote the special characteristics of each ingredient.  Nothing is there that shouldn't be - nothing is missing to keep the plate from being balanced. 

This is the world of truly mindful eating.  The diner needs to be as attentive to the details of their plate and palate as the chef has been with the food's properties and essense.  If gobble down like a boarding house plate up, all the uniquenesses of a gourmet dish will be lost. 

My first recipe out of RAW

Corn, Jicama, Asian Pear. and Cucumber with Avocado Puree

As I mentioned above, each fruit or vegetable in this salad brings a special piece to the overall composite dish; either texture, heat, cool, tart or sweet.  When melded with the two sauces on the plate - a lime vinagrette and an avocado puree - the salad base blends in a very pleasing unity.  The highlight is the avocado puree.  With its creaminess, it pulls together all the parts and makes the dish sing.


Each serving is about 1/3 cup of salad.  I thought, "That's a pretty scant amount.  I don't think those water-intensive veggies will satisfy."  Was I wrong! Any more and it would have been too much.  The richness of the avocado and the tart of the lime create a pungent combination that is perfect at its serving size. 

To make the salad requires only a quarter cup of each fruit or vegetable, half an avocado, a lime or so for 4 servings.  It is a very economical salad. (The recipe is online and I attached it to the recipe title above.)

To prepare the salad, it's fairly labor intensive for a non-chef to get brunoise cuts (1/8 in cubes).  If you are good with your knife skills, this salad will be a breeze!  It took me about 35 minutes to pull it all together, that with pulling out all ingredients and having them ready on the counter.   Looking at the photo, I think they "shopped it" enhancing the yellows.  As for plating, I might need to work a bit on my technique, but all in all, I'm rather pleased with how it came out.

Bleeding Heart Liberal Wraps

My main course after the salad were lettuce wraps that I pulled together.  I've decide to call it the "Bleeding Heart Liberal Wrap" (tongue in cheek, of course), in honor of the vibrant red swiss chard stems that are nestled among all that green! (Bet'cha thought that was red pepper...NOPE!)  It's SOOOO "granola", as we used to call something tthat was very hippy-like, vegetarian, Earth Mother/Godess or "liberal".  : )  BTW, I grew the lettuce in my own garden, so guess who's the granola now??

If anyone juices swiss chard leaves but tosses the stems, you're missing out on a tasty part of that veggie.  The stems are similar in texture to celery hearts, but sweeter and less fiberous.  I save them and use them for dips and snacks if I don't run them through the juicer with the leaves.

How to make yourself a Bleeding Heart Liberal?

4 or 5 Romaine leaves (good sized)
4 T hummus (so many recipes...use your favorite one!)
4 small bunches sprouts (I used alfalfa)
4 stems red swiss chard, 1/2'ed in the middle of the stem
1/4 cucumber, english seedless, julienned
1 T Golden Elixir Dressing (or any vinagrette you have on hand will do)

Lay out 4 large, clean, dried lettuce leaves on a flat surface.  Use 2 leaves and overlap them if all you have are small romaines.  Cut off the lower, stiffer part of the stem and place in the center of the lettuce leaf. (We're not gonna waste that, ya' know!) 

Place 1 T hummus length-wise down the center of each leaf.  Top with the little sprout bundles, cucumber strips, and finally, red swiss chard stems.  Drizzle to taste a little bit of vinagrette dressing on each wrap.  Plate them by folding them up like a taco and setting side by side so they stand up holding the ingredients within the wrapping leaf.

I hope you like the food today.  I certainly did! : )  And, so did my blood sugars.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Today's Accomplishments!

Today's focus was to get the little odds and ends done.  Once again, not much philosopy today, just life management to keep the secondary parts of my health experiment going smoothly.  My tasks:  get the filler items for some recipes and get my garden issues addressed.  This meant trips to the super grocery store, Central Market in Poulsbo, WA and Home Depot.

Last night, I poured over "RAW", a recipe book I mentioned yesterday, to find a few dishes I'd like to try.  It is very gourmet and takes planning to make.  Not every day eating unless you have a private chef to spend all their time planning for tomorrow and prepping things.  I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, so none of this is considered a trial for me.  I'm very excited!  I enjoy almost any vegetable from kale to cauliflower, which makes the Raw and EAD diets easy to follow for me. The hardest part is figuring out how to make dishes taste good at 110 degrees as your maximum heat.  With RAW recipes...I've made my selections and I'll post how they go. 

But speaking of planning and prep, to get ready for my RAW Recipe Book experience, I needed to have something called Rejuvelac.  It's a fermentation of sprouted wheat or rye berries that is used to make nut milk cheeses.  They say you can buy it commercially, but they didn't have it at my specialty store.  So, home brewing it is!  RAW gives me all the instructions very clearly (bless them), so I can give this a try.  Since EAD says no wheat, I'm using rye berries for sprouting.  I'll be making Cashew milk cheese, that then expands to Herbed cheese and Mediterranian Cheese with Dragon Crackers (one of the first RAW recipe book items I will try). 

I made a 1/2 batch of Dragon Crackers and 1/2 batch Maple Ginger Crackers last night and they came out great!  Still have 1/2 batches of dough for both in my fridge.  My sister tried them at dinner tonight and like them, too.  She especially like the nutritional values of flax over wheat-based crackers.  I gave her a round (16 servings) of Dragon Crackers from my round dehydrator.  She wants to use them with her afternoon snack.  (She's been on Nutrisystem for about 14 weeks and has lost over 30 lbs!!  I'm so proud of her.  She looks great! :)  

I love how easy it is to use Flaxseed for dough.  It is extremely forgiving as you spread it on the trays to dehydrate.  I'm envisioning using my leftover dibs and shreds from juicing to make some interesting crackers (Kale flake, Key Lime, and Apple flake?)  I hope the juicing book I have lists the nutritional values of juice + pulp = whole fruit or veggie values.  It would be helpful to know what's left in the pulp.  I know it can very based on the juicer, but a guideline would be nice.  Hmmmmmm....

I also remembered to by jicama today so I can try a recipe I dreamed up.  I will be interesting to see if it works.  Top secret, of course. Don't want to spill my ideas before they have matured!

At Home Depot, I nearly fell over when I saw they had Stevia plants for sale.  WOW!  I thought what a good thing to grow.  I've seen recipes with Stevia leaf as an ingredient, and I thought, "where the heck to you buy just stevia leaves?"  Now, I can give those a try.  I need to do a bit of research to see what temperatures this plant likes best to figure out which container box it should grow in. 

I bought 2 more basil plants to see if I could get them to grow if I "greenhoused" them in a plastic tent of sorts.  My last 2 basil plants died a very quick and cold death.  Fresh basil is so expensive compared to the plants, I hope these guys will grow. 

One "odds and ends" issue are RACOONS!  I started composting my kitchen scraps 2 months ago.  I didn't have a compost bin, so I was just hiding it in the tree line with the grass clipping.  This has brought back racoons.  We just got rid of them from under our shed last year, so I knew I had to do something. 

I found a great, inexpensive compost bin called e-Composter.  If you click on the Amazon link on this page, and put in e composter, it will come up.  Don't mean this as a sales pitch, but I am quite pleased with it and wanted to share.  Quite a large bin and very good price for a bin.  Most standing bins are almost $100. This is almost 1/2 the cost around $50-60 at most locations. It's flat packed for easy shipping and getting home, and clicked together with no tools.  Took me 5 minutes to get it put together and in place.  Did I get my current compost in?  NOPE...but that's tomorrow game. 

Because I've drawn racoons, I realized I needed to get my little container garden (pictured below) up off the ground.  I bought a pair of saw horses and moved the containers up to people level.  Hope it works and that little rascals don't dump them over. 

Need to get moving.  It's getting late here in the PAC-NW and I still have lemons to zest and dehydrate from the 9 lemons it took to make N. Roses Golden Elixir Salad Dressing, and about 10 bulbs of garlic to peel so I can pickle them to prep for making garlic chips that are a part of another RAW recipe book item I want to try.  Gourmet is not for the faint of heart! haha...
A lovely Raw day to you all!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It's day 5 and we have news!

It's only been 5 days, but my blood sugars are PLUMMETTING!! I'm stunned. I've gone from taking 30mgs insulin, 1000mg's metformin, and 1 mg Glimiperide to 10mgs insulin, no metformin and the 1 mg glimiperide. This has been the only way over the last 3 days to keep my blood sugars HIGH enough to be good. STUNNING!! I hope to be off all diabetic meds by next week.

I'll make an appt. to see my Dr. if it sticks for 2 weeks beyond stopping the meds. I self-monitor, which is a part of diabetic education, so I'll just keep watching very, very closely as this experiment continues.

As for Raw Food, I'm obsessed!  I spend all day lurking sites and posting to various forums.  I checked out a recipe book called "RAW" from the library (among many other recipe books and info).  It was written by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein (of the famous Charlie Trotter's in Chicago).

It is one of the most beautiful food books I've seen.  I can't image being able to recreate anything that looks that good, but I'm going to try!  They truly make Raw Haute Cuisine.  Very impressive and luscious.  Not everyday food, but for special occasions.  Which brings me to my philosophy of the day...
While reading Victoria Boutenko's "12 Steps to Raw Foods", I was struck by something she said and that I've heard others say, is that food is fuel and we need to focus on that.  We need to detach from food being connected to events, like sugary cakes on birthday's, overeating on holidays, etc.  Put a "just say no" attitude on special occasions so that the "one bite" won't blow away weeks, months, or years of commitment like an addict taking that drink or drug.
I'm all for understanding how we build huge expectations and patterns around holidays.  People love ritual.  Beliefs give us meaning in life and enactment of rituals re-affirm and remind us daily of our beliefs.  A friend of mine from old went Kosher in her home not because she believe kosher is mandatory for her religious practices, but because she said it made her think every time she sat down to a meal about her beliefs and her relationship to Adoni.  A very connected way to practice.
I, also, agree that "one bite" can blow away years of work if food or cooked food, in particular, is a continual draw and attraction, in short, an addiction.  If a Raw Foodist is fighting addiction to certain foods that are not Raw, it's best to take the AA approach and get your 30, 60, 90+ day medals for not using.
Where I have a problem with this "one bite can kill ya'" idea is it sucks all the air out of a celebration or ritual.  Food is a celebration...of LIFE!  To say that you have to extract yourself from these traditional celebrations feels very negative to me.  It doesn't seek to find ways to permit celebrating food with the important people in your lives.  Raw Foodism should be celebrated!  It should be woven into the rituals that are extremely important in someone's life.  If it means you "pack your own", then you do, but go sit at the table with everyone else and commune!  Be happy and share without care!  You don't have to share your food offerings, but share yourself and the peace and contentment that comes from enjoying your chosen foods for you. 

I'm not stating this as clearly or succinctly as I'd like, but I hope my point is surfacing to some extent.  Maybe I need to think more on this and re-address at another time.

Well, Happy day to all!

Friday, June 4, 2010

What's to eat?

Not feeling all that philosophical today.  It's just all about the food!  I spent way too much time last night online researching and reading various blogs and joining communities about Raw Food.  I found a lovely site called Raw on $10 a day (or Less) managed by the talented Lisa V., who makes beautiful food and beautiful art.  I aspire to own one of her works some day. (She doesn't know this yet...but I do. :) 

So, following in her footsteps, I made breakfast and lunch off her May 16th menu:  Mango Pudding with Banana and Mango slices for Breakfast (left) and Fresh Tomato Basil Soup with Igor's Crackers and Lettuce/Carrot Juice for lunch (right).  The lettuce I grew myself in my little container garden.  It's been rather cool this spring, so the sheeting is to give the plants a bit of "greenhouse effect".  It seems to be working.

I have a tremendously black thumb that I'm attempting to change to some shade of green.  The windowboxes are working wonderfully.  I also took the risk and chopped off the whole head of red leaf lettuce (seen in the first box at the bottom of the photo) and risked it not growing back.  But, IT IS!!  I have little nubs coming up and I'm so proud of my little plant (and me for taking the risk of it not working). 

Happy Foodie Day to everyone!  Need to get to the library to pick up Juliano's beautifully photographed Raw cookery book. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Raw Food Tip of the Day - Parchment liners for Dehydrators

Culinary stores sell pre-cut parchment cake pan liners for round cake pans and roll paper for square ones.  The 12" rounds fit my dehydrator perfectly and work great for lining the racks for crackers, "breads" and other wet, but not liquid items.  Reuse until they are crispy and can't be used any more, then despose of as you see fit.   At $3.30 for 20 liners, it's less expensive and easier to use than roll parchment paper bought at the grocery store.

"But it takes so looonnng...."

Stacey's the name and Information is my game.  I love, love, LOVE information!  Starting a new diet is a perfect information feeding frenzy for me.  There's new stuff to learn!  A need to know how it works, what to fix, how to fix it, and what is required to make it as successful as possible.  It makes my fingers tingle with web excitement just to think of all the searching available to me on this new topic.

As an information junkie and the topic "de jour" is food, it fits well with my love of recipe books.  While researching for the best books to invest time and possibly money in, I came across an interesting dichtomy: time prep.

From book reviews to Raw Food discussion threads, the biggest complaint I see is people saying that going "Raw" is too time consuming.  Or, that the recipes are impossible because they have so many steps that would require so many days using the dehydrator to complete with too much expensive equipment, yada, yada, yada...

As a Foodie, I have kitchen equipment like nobody's bid'ness! Raw suggests 2 items totalling about $800 to make Raw Gourmet work and Raw Food daily quick and simple; a high speed blender and a nice dehydrator.

Think on how much Caphalon pots cost? French coppers? Yes, if you're buying that type of equipment, you got bucks but that doesn't stop many cooking Foodies from buying to have the experience of working with great, quality equipment and getting the best results because they invested in their materials. If Raw doesn't work, the blender and dehydrator will continue working after the fact. Sell them on eBay to another Raw newbie if Raw doesn't fit.  (Heck, I would have loved to find a great eBay deal on a used Blendtec or VitaMix!  Which, in fact I did save about $100 by selected a factory refurbished blender today.)  But before negativity, at least invest in equipment as if it were pots and pans or small appliance for cooked food.

After marinating on the equipment issue, what popped into my mind were two things:  1) the time prep issue reviewers must not have been cooking enthusiasts regardless of diet, and 2) if they were Foodies before trying Raw, their perception of "time" is distorted between their old way of eating (cooked) and the new way of working into Raw.  In logic, this is called dissonance, a mismatch of reality to perception based on an individual's beliefs, and in this case it is on the subject of prep time.

What makes food "quick" from creation to table is preparation.  Since prepared or pre-mixed "cooked" foods are readily stocked everywhere, from restaurants to grocers, preparation time seems less.  I say "seems" because the general cooking cook writes off the time they are not making the pasta and they pick it up at the boiling water point. They ignore the time and energy when into preparing the processed food that can be pick-up off the shelf. 

What is also discounted is how they accept their food in a processed state, which is what makes it "time saving".  But, it is also the whole anti-thesis of what Raw Food seeks to be.  There is nothing "fresh" about dried pasta, canned tomato sauce, or frozen lasagna.  It is easy, but not gourmet or fresh; as any cooking gourmet chef would agree.

Raw Foodist who seek gourmet need to adopt the principles that "cooking" chefs, not general cooks, always follow.  Good cooking cooks don't buy processed food, either.  Anyone invested in food, Cooked or Raw, won't buy the "Miracle Whip" in their food selections.  They make their own "mayonaise" and store it for future use. 

Raw Gourmets need to think the same way.  It's all about planning a menu if you want to eat at at certain level of quality.  Cooking chefs don't just "make mexican".  They plan for it.  They buy certain raw ingredients and have them ready to make into products for the final dish.  They have to cook their beans.  Make their tortillas.  Chop their salsas. Gather and prep the other garnishments.  Then, they assemble the final dish.  From scratch or Raw, this takes time.  Raw Gourmet would require the same investments, but with a few different ingredients.

To be gourmet anything or to eat more gourmet daily, Raw Foodist have to do what any gourmet cooking requires; preparation of ingredients from raw foods.  Making cashew, macadamia, and other nut purees to have at hand or dehydrating flat breads in advance to be stocked on the counter, in the fridge or freezer until needed for wrapping is similar to how a cooking gourmet will make bread dough, boil up stocks, or roast meats for sandwiches or salad recipes.  Discovering and preparing a Raw Core Ingredients Supply will make life easier during the week, and makes it possible to eat at a "higher level" than quick and simple (with a note that quick and simple should be the core of any way of eating). 

For Raw Food, the concept of "cooked food" processed-style foods that can be picked up off the shelf is a rather oxymoronic statement in a way.  There is a growing cabin industry of crackers and glazed nut producers, but much of what would reduce preparation time cannot and should not be "off the shelf" as Raw.  It just doesn't comply or isn't Raw anymore once packaged for sale. 

To get a better comparison on Raw vs. Cooking prep time, I browsed the cookbook sample pages or "un-cookbook", as they so cheekily call the Raw recipe books. Book reviewers either embraced the recipes, the author and/or the methods, OR they tossed them aside, often with a cavallier comment about how NOT like the title suggests are the contents of the book or how the recipes were not good (a valid point).

Though often, the toss aside comments about how it takes days to get a recipe together, it make me think deeper about the dissonance, or mental disconnection, that is happening between the reviewers.

They shout from the web page, "How can I possibly prepare this after work??"  If they looked deeply at their negative perspectives about time required to do Raw Food gourmet prep, part of it, I believe, is reminicing on the "sweet past" of walking into any restaurant to be served one of many choices or browsing the aisle of plenty in our grocery stores for packaged food goods that needed little effort to make into "something" to put on the table.  It ignores the fact that while they were off at work, chefs have been busy chopping, slicing, pickling, baking, and saucing in the kitchens to get that wonderfully flavorful restaurant food plated and in front of them in the short wait between ordering and presentation.

To support my point, reflect upon the ever-popular and now re-popularized "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child.  How many of those recipes can be whipped off in 1/2 hour?  Ok, 1 hour? 2 hours?  Not bloody likely!  Many of the most delicious concoctions take days to prepare. 

My example:  Duck en Croute.  Starting with the pastry (45 minutes + 2 hours refridgeration), move to prep the duck (at least 45 minutes according to Julia and is not double counted in time with the refridgeration time on the pastry), prepare the pork/veal stuffing (2 hours), stuff the duck and brown it for baking (at least 1 hour + 1 hour for duck to cool), pastry the duck (1 hour, to make time for the fancy designs on the "en croute"), and baking time (2 hours +) and cooling time (2-3 hours).  Total time to get this dish from cabinet/refridgerator to table = 12 hours into getting one part of the meal on the table.  To have the stamina to do this would take at least 2 days to do the prep and presentation work. 

This is what gourmet is about, at times.  It's about investing a good portion of time, energy and love of food into a meal that is not usual.  French people do not eat Duck en Croute every day, just like Raw Foodist will not eat dishes that require multi-faceted dehydration techniques.  Just like many cooked recipes, gourmet Raw is not for everyday.  They are special dishes planned for, prepared and presented.  Sometimes the combinations are not correct, which makes them special occassion dishes.   If a Raw Foodist ate gourmet every day, it would be similar to the French if they ate all the sauces, creams, butters, etc.  They'd have indigestion and would not feel so great based on the richness of the food; with too much oil and nut butters, etc. for the Raw Foodist.

Everyday Raw is more like everyday French, quick 30 minute preps to create good simple food.  For Raw Foodists, it's sliced vegetables, tossed greens in a quick dressing, juiced fruits and veggies, or food combinations mixed and ready to dish out for several meals like marinated greens or sprouted bean mixtures.  Quick and simple, and no time at all!

So time is all in what you expect from it.  If you love food and love spending time in the kitchen, adopting Raw Food Gourmet is just like being a good "cook" chef.  It takes preparation, thought, and an enjoyment of food to go beyond the daily basics. 

And, from what my research is showing me, I'm grateful that there are talented Raw chefs out there giving me the recipes to produce truly gourmet options with Raw Foods.