30-Day Challenge: Going Raw with Danilae
I’ve completed my second week of being completely raw—and I must say, it feels like quite an accomplishment. I have more energy than I’ve ever had, which is by far the most surprising fact. I honestly thought going into this that my energy was going to plummet, because I wasn’t going to have enough protein or carbs. I was also nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain my fitness regimen. However, it’s just the opposite; I workout harder because I have more energy and I feel amazing. Truthfully, the amount of energy I have is uncanny. But that’s not to say I don’t still want a crispy, shredded beef taco with refried beans and rice, or baked macaroni and cheese, because I really do. I just know now that 1. My body doesn’t want it, I want it and 2. It’s probably going to make me really sick.
This week was hard because I decided to try and prepare actual meals. When I’m not raw, I just graze on snacks for the duration of the day and then eat a decent sized meal at dinner, so I decided that’s how I would approach the rest of my raw month. What I didn’t realize is how much time and preparation goes into every meal.
I decided to start small then work up to the big stuff. So, my first endeavor was chia seed pudding. It seemed easy enough: Combine some type of nut milk and chia seeds, let it get cold, then eat. However, because nuts are naturally hard (in comparison to other raw foods) for the body to digest, you have to soak them in water for up to 6 hours before you can make the milk. So, if you want pudding you have to anticipate it at least six hours in advance. I lead a very busy lifestyle and for me that was incredibly shocking: You mean I have to think about what I’m going to eat before it’s time to eat? That’s crazy talk. However, after looking at more and more raw recipes, that’s what I realized I was going to have to do. I made my chia seed pudding and it was actually really good.
This is what I did (note: I rarely measure when I cook, I do everything to taste): I made cashew milk by soaking my cashews in water overnight, added water and my soaked cashews into a blender until it was liquid. At this point, many strain the liquid to get rid of the pulp but because I was making a pudding, I wanted it to be as thick as possible. I then added cinnamon, agave nectar and alcohol-free vanilla extract and blended some more. Then, I added the chia seeds, put it in a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for two hours. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it reminded me of tapioca pudding.
Later in the week, I tried a different recipe. Like I said, I lead a very busy lifestyle—one that doesn’t allow too much time for cooking, or in my case, un-cooking. So, it was a bit of a battle for me to put in the time and effort it takes to create a meal. However, I quickly realized that while raw, if I wanted to eat, that’s what I was going to have to do. So I buckled down, rolled up my sleeves and got busy making a vegetable garden wrap. There were so many steps involved to create this meal that it took me over an hour—and I wasn’t even cooking anything!
First, I made the tomatillo salsa. I had to chop tomatillos, jalapenos and a clove of garlic, add lemon juice and throw them in a blender with a little water to create a spicy salsa. Then, I had to rinse the blender, cut an avocado and put it in the blender with a tomato and a little tahini to make a paste. Then I had to cut Portobello mushroom and red and yellow bell peppers. Perhaps it’s because I’m really green—pun not intended—to the process, but to do all of that took about an hour. By the time I was finished, I was famished. I grabbed a piece of chard, smeared on the paste, added the Portobello and bell pepper filling and topped off my dish with my fresh, handmade tomatillo salsa, rolled the ingredients together and there was my lettuce wrap. It was really good but really time-consuming. I also tried it once with a raw seaweed instead of chard and that was really good too.
While all of my creations this week were fun to make, the best was the sorbet. Fast, easy and really yummy, sorbet is my kind of raw food. I don’t have an ice cream maker yet, so in the interim, I just used my blender. I was really craving something sweet so it popped in my head to try making sorbet. A few months back, I tried making a fruit smoothie but didn’t add enough juice so it was too thick to drink. I figured I could do the exact same thing this time and just eat it as sorbet. All I did was grab a bag of frozen organic berries (berries are a fruit that are highly sprayed with pesticides so it’s advised to use organic whenever possible), add some water and blend in the blender. Voila! Sorbet. It was the highlight of my week.
While I’m learning a lot about the art of un-cooking, I think the most important fact so far is that you really have to be creative, learn from your mistakes and give yourself a lot of time for preparation.