Jun 27, 2009

for the last 5 years craig and i have participated in angelic organics, a community supported agriculture program located in caldonia, illinois. each year we sign up for a 20 week vegetable share, receiving a 3/4 bushel box of locally and organically grown vegetables every saturday throughout the summer and early fall. we share our box with another couple, and even splitting everything in half there is still always plenty of food. for the last three years we have also participated in an egg share, receiving a dozen beautiful golden free range, horemone free eggs along with our vegetables.

our share this year started on a weekend when both craig and our friends were out of town, leaving me with the entire box of vegetables to myself. i saw this as a challenge and decided to kick off a week or two of the raw diet, which i did last summer and really enjoyed. however, the week also coincided with me starting a new job with a caterer, and with that an unpredictable daily schedule.

i decided to stick to about 80% raw, incorporating one or two cooked elements every day. it is easy when i'm at home but difficult when i'm meeting up with friends and having to taste food i'm preparing at work. i think i'm at about 70% now, which isn't bad. at home i've made salads, spring rolls and raw marinara, but at work i've been eating whatever is available, and eating out with friends i've been tempted by too many dishes on menus to order simple salads. so when i can't be strict to raw dishes, i at least follow the following pairing guidelines for healthy digestion:

fruit - always eaten alone, at least 45 minutes before eating anything else.
vegetables - try to stick to raw veggies, or lightly steamed or stir fried. can be eaten in combination with any of the other groups (except fruit!)
meats - i'm eating just one dose of animal protein a day (if that), usually it's just an egg or two. meats can be eaten with vegetables, but not with any other group.
starches - trying to stay away from processed bleached white starches and sticking to whole grains. can be eaten with vegetables, but not with any other group.
dried fruits and nuts - can be eaten alone or with vegetables, but not with any other group. trying to stick to naturally dried fruits and raw nuts.
dairy - trying to stick to minimal dairy. goat cheese is the main cheese i'm eating, or ricotta. no milk or cream in my coffee - i'm using almond milk at home or rice or soy milk if i can get it at a coffee shop.

so that's it. it's pretty easy if you can be creative. i make a raw marinara by processing onion, garlic, tomato, carrot and fennel and can eat that over ribbons of raw zucchini or a whole wheat pasta, or as a base for a whole wheat pizza. i can eat a seared piece of fish or some scallops or shrimp over a bed of spinach with a carrot slaw on the side. a big salad with a poached egg on top and a little lemon juice, or a salad topped with almonds and sun dried tomatoes. vietnamese spring rolls - rice paper wrappers filled with tons of fresh herbs and veggies and a honey soy dipping sauce. yum. for breakfasts i'll use my juicer and make an awesome liquid breakfast with ginger and apple and lemon and some romaine lettuce. then fruit until lunchtime. then a raw lunch, a snack in the afternoon of nuts or raw granola or fruit, and dinner with a cooked element.

vinegar is one of my best friends - it tenderizes veggies while giving them a tart flavor. one of my favorite dishes, one that i've been eating at least once a day and most of the time twice a day, is what i call bruised greens. i've used kale, chard, totsoi, spinach, and the tops of beets, radishes, or turnips. take a few big handfuls of your greens, wash them, chop them and put them in a bowl. drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. squeeze half of a lemon over top and massage the greens with your hands until they wilt and tenderize. top with a poached egg, a piece of fish, or put it over brown rice or pasta. or simply eat it alone. it's that good.

i'm feeling energized and healthy, and i've lost a pound or two (although that wasn't my main goal in doing it this year.) mostly i'm doing this to challenge myself, to learn new recipes, to remind myself to follow guidelines and to get out of the carb loaded winter diet i've gotten used to. to kick start the summer by eating healthier and treating my body better, and to enjoy the veggies in our box every week. and really, massaging greens is kind of theraputic.

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