Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Bitch is Back

     So I am on day 3 of my raw food challenge. And while it started off with good intentions and a fridge full of produce, it’s rough going. Read it…and weep.

Day 1
             I actually started out with dinner and luckily for me, I happen to like salad. A lot.  But because I was not so cruel as to make my husband and child go through the raw diet, I prepared some pasta for them as well as a giant salad for the three of us.
            You would think that preparing a salad would be pretty easy from the rawist point of view. Wrong. While the vegetable component was fairly simple, the dressing was not. Our go-to salad dressing had a problem and the name of the problem was balsamic vinegar.
            Vinegar is a fairly simple: it’s just the byproduct of wine or alcohol making when the yeast involved in fermenting wine eat up all the sugar and convert it to carbon dioxide and acetic acid, aka, vinegar. But unlike most vinegars, which are not cooked in any way, balsamic vinegar is based on the cooked must of the white Trebbiano grape then left to age (usually in oak casks).
            Yup. Balsamic is cooked. But no problem! I just replaced the balsamic with red wine vinegar. But in my dressing, I usually also put a pinch of sugar to balance out the vinegar. Guess what. Commercial sugar, either cane or beet, is out-it’s based upon the processing of boiled raw beet or cane juice so it can crystallize. So, out with the sugar and in with the honey. Olive oil? Luckily, that was OK. But salt? Commercial salt is also made with high amounts of heat. Luckily, I had some super-pricey French salt that was naturally evaporated by the sun.
            Normally, salad dressing takes me 3 minutes to do. Thanks to reading and researching every single ingredient in my usually simple salad dressing, it took me 20. I was NOT amused. If it weren’t for the glass of wine (thankfully, NOT cooked), I would just said, “Screw this.” But after my booze, my cooler, rational head prevailed and told me not to quit. After all, I am doing this in the name of science!

Day 2
             I usually don’t make breakfast. My husband does that. But before you have this romantic dreams of breakfast in bed or a whirling dervish of cooking activity, the breakfast I get is the “Continental[1]” kind: toast, coffee, butter and jam. If we’re really fancy, we bring out the yogurt.
            As you can see from my usual breakfast, I was entering a rawist minefield. Bread is baked. Coffee uses roasted beans and boiled water. Butter, while potentially acceptable for rawists, is a problem because all the milk here is pasteurized before being churned. And jam? Always cooked and it already had sugar in it, which made it double problematic.
            What did I do? Well cereal is out – that came out of cooked grains. I had some meusli running around. After a quick check of the ingredients, it looked acceptable, but no yogurt, milk or in fact any dairy product was acceptable. Before I started getting worried I would have to choke down some breakfast, I looked in the pantry and saw some soy milk. Saved! Until I realized that to make soy milk, the beans are boiled and then pressed the make the milk.
            In the end, I ate my muesli raw with a piece of fruit. Wasn’t so bad. And not having coffee? Well, I guess I could just do some tea with some hot tap water. I don’t really need the milk for tea, so I was OK.
            Two hours later, I’m not such a happy camper. Lack of caffeine has set in and despite 3 cups of black tea, I have the headache from hell. I want my coffee. I want my coffee NOW!!!
            Out of desperation, I decide to consult several raw food books and see if there is any way to get my coffee fix. The short and the long answer? NO. Out comes the advil.
             Luckily for the raw diet, I don’t eat lunch (mainly due to the fact that as a writer, I really don’t spend any energy except for getting cups of coffee…which I no longer can drink). I snack on some carrots and an apple. I want a yogurt, but that’s not happening. I’ve prepared another salad for dinner, this time with some nuts and raisins (which, according to the Raw Food Nazis, is ok).  Kid and hubby get some roast chicken. I try to inhale extra calories from the smell.

Day 3
            After a hearty breakfast of some more muesli and fruit, I realize my stash of fresh fruits and vegetables is disappearing…fast. I make a trip to the grocery store thinking I could get some nut milks, some more produce and nuts and olives as snack items to tide me over the stomach rumblies.
            I find my goods and I come home. But I realize, I’m exhausted. And I still have a headache. I think it’s a lack of protein, so I munch on some more nuts and drink buckets full of water and some juice. No luck. It’s time to use my lifeline. I call my vegan friend, who seems to have all information on diet and nutrition.
            Bad news. According to him, the reason why I tired, grumpy and headachy is because all the “toxins” are leaching from my body. If all the toxins leaving my body were causing me so much pain, then maybe I should have stuck with keeping the toxins in my body.  At least I wouldn’t be so bitchy.
            He recommends that I take a B vitamin supplement and a D vitamin supplement. He also recommends that I start “soaking” raw grains to get something that resembled a cooked starch, which then gets me thinking about rice. I can do without bread for eons, but rice? Someone is going to take away my Asian cred if I can’t get my rice. God damn it…now I want rice.
            Seeing that I am starting to hit the desperation point for food, I start looking into all the recipes that for rawists. What? I could have pasta and or a sandwich? Yay! Until I saw the ingredient and equipment list. Someone didn’t tell me in the Raw Food Newsletter that I would have to invest a small fortune in a dehydrator, a juicer, a seed sprouter, chia seeds[2], psyllium husks,[3] dulse[4] galore. I tried looking around e-bay for a cheap dehydrator. Cheap being 170 dollars I didn’t have. Seed sprouters – uh, not available at the grocery store.  Needless to say, I didn’t have any psyllium husks, chia seeds or dulse.
            Back to eating another salad. Or maybe not. I realized that there were a bunch of proteins I could eat that were not “cooked.” I live in Scandinavia…there’s pickled herring galore! Also, there’s gravlax! But of course, there’s a catch. Both herring and gravlax are traditionally eaten with bread, mainly to counteract to saltiness. No bread, therefore, just salt. I tried making a little ssam like gravlax burrito. SOL. Too Salty.
Ten cups of water later, I’m still thirsty and hungry. Try an extra bowl of raw oatmeal with almond milk to quell the hunger. Not working. I’m just going to bed. I’m going to have to find a solution because I’m starting to get really annoyed with this diet. But that will have to wait until tomorrow.

[1] I’ve always been really curious as to why this breakfast has been called a “continental” breakfast. Granted, this is the standard of breakfast for most across continental Europe (Even the French don’t eat a croissant everyday…it’s a occasional thing. You are more likely to see the French eat a baguette with butter.)  But who decided that coffee and toast was the purview of the “Continent”? Hmmm.
[2] Yes, this is the same stuff from “Chi-chi-chi-chia” Head. Apparently, chia seeds are a “superfood” containing a large amount of Omega-3 fatty acids (like the kind you get in fish).
[3] This is the same stuff that’s in Metamucil. The one problem you don’t have going on a raw diet is fiber….
[4] Dulse (Palmaria palmate) is a red seaweed found on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It’s primarily used as a thickening agent (carrangeen) for food products.