RAW Favorites

As I mentioned before, I am attempting a semi raw regiment. We won't call it a diet because that is not the goal. Although I will say my husband's enthusiasm for this veggie infused eating stems from a desire to trim down and after a week, he's already seeing results.

From what I can gather, raw claims to be the best digestive processing for your body. Fastest absorption, most concentrated nutrients and minerals, yadah yadah. The part that intrigued me, was the claim to solve various bodily ailments: migraines, diabetes, severe menstrual cycle symptoms.

It was the last subject that caught my eye. Every time I emerge from the fog of pregnancy, and instantly win back my periods (Oh great), the monthly symptoms seem to compound and strengthen their miserable qualities. After my first child it was nausea and then severe exhaustion for 2-3 days every month. Oh, AND headaches accompanied by the joy of lower back pain! After baby number two, and the varicose veins that came with her, I have one or two days a month where my legs throb so bad I can hardly stand up.

So I'm trying a month of raw in hopes of experiencing some positive results at the end of the cycle, if you get my drift.

The upside of going raw in July is the abundance of seasonal fruits and veggies this time of year. Farmer's Market has always been such a treat for me each week but now I'm more determined to try a greater variety of items. Like black kale, green plums, pluots, dates, beet root, radish and sunflower sprouts, and fragrant ripe melons. I've eaten my weight in salads this week alone.

The mainstays of a raw kitchen appear to be a knife, a cutting board, a mixer/blender and the occasional food chopper. Cleanup is a cinch-no grimy pots and pans, no greasy cookie sheets.

What do we eat?? Well, let me first say that I am not subjecting my children to this craziness. And, as mentioned before, I'm not going extreme. John and I have agreed to include, on occasion, eggs, yogurt, the occasional splash of milk in our coffee, some whole grains (barley, rice, couscous) and meat or fish a few nights a week. Dessert could not be cut out so I got my hands on Coconut Bliss, chocolate flavored, which is quite possibly some of the best ice cream (well, non-dairy, gluten-free, etc) I've ever had!

If nothing else, so far, RAW has spilled over to my everyday habits as sole provider of snacks and meals for my kids and myself. I consider myself a fairly healthy eater and pride myself on stocking a balanced pantry with plenty of fruits and veggies and whole grains. But convenience trumped healthy more and more often and my habits were falling into that Costco bag of goldfish and wheat thins, fruit snacks, juice boxes and pretzels. Only a few weeks ago I introduced my almost 3 year old to her first bag of McDonald's Happy Meal! God bless the drive thrus. See my problem?

Since returning from our road trip, hitting "processed food bottom" and directing my energy at raw foods, snack have appeared as sliced apples with peanut butter or watermelon and strawberries. Breakfast is a nut and fruit muesli (pictured above), www.rawfoodsdiet.wetpaint.com/page/Muesli+Recipe , or a fresh fruit smoothie. I am including yogurt and eggs (both organic, if possible) occasionally throughout the week. Lunch is fruit and a salad usually leftover from last night's dinner and then sometimes the crusts of my kids' sandwiches. Dinner is usually two different salads (one veggie based one fruit based) and then some sort of whole grain to share with the kids, like germinated brown rice or organic couscous.
I have a renewed enthusiasm in the kitchen as everything is a new, exciting and almost idiot proof meal. How do you screw up chopping and whisking? The trick is to use farm fresh produce that's in season.

Here are some websites I've used and a few recipes I've really enjoyed.

http://www.rawfoodnation.org/ I really like the summer salad series here, good suggestions and pretty quick and easy recipes for a 15 minute or less food prep to dinner time! Summer Salad Series: Spinach Powerhouse was enjoyed by our whole family (kids included). The Raw Beets Series with jicama and oranges should have been glorious but fell flat when I realized after a few bites my jicama was a bit old and soft

****************************On a sidenote, I can't recall which website I visited the other day that advertised a "Raw Singles" section....ew?!

http://www.goneraw.com/ These recipes tend to be a bit more complicated (soaking, sprouting and even dehydrating), I found one that doesn't look too intimidating to try for dinner tonight, the Kalach Salad (Kale and Spinach with avocado mash dressing). Good pics, too.

www.living-foods.com/recipes/ I like the way this site has a multitude of recipes organized by category (soups and salads, entrees, etc.) and it mixes raw foods with other vegan and vegetarian recipes. No extremism, just healthy food suggestions.

http://www.rawsacramento.net/ where I found a pretty awesome salad dressing, Joshua's Amazing Dressing. This is a great site for recipes, resources, links, and some rpetty pictures.

I am also intrigued by http://www.welikeitraw.com/ a blog and recipe list about raw food. This is where I first met (virtually speaking, of course) Ani Phyo, raw food chef extraordinaire.

My absolute favorite recipe for breakfast is this apple


Road Trip=RAW

My baby graduated from kindergarten. I enjoyed 5 days of child-less bliss in Mexico with 5 like minded girlfriends. And after 10 days in a Rental RV barreling up the coast to Seattle and back with my darling family I've decided to embrace the raw food diet. Call it one too many burgerrific meals wrapped in greasy paper, the Licorice that broke the driver's colon, call it what you will but my digestive tract can't take another over processed mouthful. I need a change, I need cleansing, I need Shuma Noya?! Flaxseed oil?! Coconut Bliss?!
I choked down an In n Out meal on the last painful leg of our 2000 mile journey yesterday and woke up this morning with veggies on the brain, a squishy middle and a rotting inside.
Wait, let me recap, in the bittiest of detail (well, bitty for this detail obessessed weirdo), my fantastic journey across the Northwest. Let me first say this: #1. John and I have never ventured farther North than the greater Napa valley for pleasure purposes. So our curiosity was the first incentive. And an invitation from a wonderful cousin and her awesome family to come to Seattle was all we needed to make it an official destination. #2. Why not fly? At age 3, Ana makes it four full priced airline tickets for our family. Ugh. My other options are?? #4. Our girls were getting dangerously close to morphing into anti-wilderness princess freaks ("eew, dirt! daddy hand me my nail file!") and we knew we needed to break them quick.
After months of planning, and packing (now you know where I've been...at Target spending my daughter's inheritence), and mapping we finally set off on our 10 day adventure (now that's an understatement). We bombed up on a Thursday, picked the RV up in Oakland, dropped our car at a friend's/had dinner, and made it to Redding by 1:00 am. Friday was one of my more successfully planned days: stopped in the quaint town of Ashland, Oregon and explored Lithia Park, the Shakespearean Theater and garb, and surrounding city all by foot. Further north that same day, we stopped at the quirkiest theme park outside of Salem, Oregon called The Enchanted Forest. Strange, dusty, and rather entertaining for what it's worth.
The following morning we headed through Portland to Voodoo Doughnuts-amazing Bacon Maple Bars!!! Holy sugar! And then to Seattle for family fun, a trip to the cute zoo, and parent's night out to Tilth for dinner and Molly Moon's...can I just say this is the greatest ice cream known to man? We waited in line at 9 pm for nearly half an hour: carrot cake ice cream, honey lavender ice cream, Scout Chip, Espresso Bean icecream...you get the idea!
Monday was a sad departure from our family in Seattle but many miles awaited us and 4 hours south we were camped at the base of Mount Hood-a pristine backdrop-literally on the heavily wooded shore of Lake Trillium. Definitely an amazing family stop! Salamanders in the lake! Tuesday we drove 2 hours south to Tumalo, Oregon near Bend. More snow capped mountain views and dry dessert campground on the river. We pumped up our inter tubes and hiked up through the day use area about a mile, jumped in and floated and giggled all the way down the river right to our campsite! Wednesday was a long drive across to the Grants Pass area of Indian Mary on the banks of the Rogue River. Hot weather, cool roaring river and plenty of grassy shaded area to run and roam. I tried my first Frisbee golf course and grilled quesadillas over the campfire! We even rode this gigantic blue aluminum jet boat up the Rogue River through Hellgate Canyon! Very entertaining and a perfect excursion for our girls (at 50+ mph). Sad to leave to the beauty and oddities of Oregon, we headed across the border back to California and were pleasantly thrilled by our drippy rain forest-ish surroundings at Patrick's Point on the north western California State beach. Dense ferns and sky scraping redwoods gave way to cliff hanging views of the California coastline. And BANANA SLUGS!! And bunnies, and elk and electric blue blue jays, and the occasional rat...yep. Agate beach awaited us below our ocean view campsite where a waterfall met the sand and rock hunting captivated my entire family for hours. We then took our gigantic 24 foot motor home on the most hair tingling drive toward Fort Bragg and Caspar Beach along Highway 1. Wow, your Cal trans dollars are not hard at work on that stretch of highway. Sheer cliffs, hairpin turns and the narrowest potholed highway I've ever experienced kept John and I clutching the dash, steering wheel, and each other as we dropped down into the Mendocino County of rugged beauty and even more weirdness than we found in Oregon. Caspar Beach was a disappointment, especially the dirt parking lot of an RV park. We literally wedged our motor home into our space, inched open the door and stepped out onto our 3X7 foot sliver of dirt where a rusted out wheel rim stood in place of the fire pit. This called for a Keystone and a cigarette. No bones about it. Or teeth for that matter, apparently they're optional at Caspar Beach.
By the way, Mendocino County and my house are definitely not in the same state...they can't be-we drove 9 hours yesterday to get home!!!! We didn't even cover half of California in that stretch.
Conclusions: if you're going to rent an RV, know that Cruise America is probably your cheapest bet. Warning: you get what you pay for. So if you go that route, bring earplugs (the rattling kitchen sink gets really old on an 11 hour road trip) and don't expect the staff to have much personality or sympathy (they can't make much $$ there, so who can blame 'em). Both John and I said we'd do it all over again (with a few adjustments) in a heartbeat. Bring disposable clothes, my campfire laundry is eating me alive!!!!! RV camping is exactly that, it's camping...in an RV...not going out to fancy dinners and stopping in for a bite to eat at that great bistro for lunch (unless you have an amazing cousin in Seattle with an equally amazing babysitter). You're dusty and dirty, your crap is rolling and rattling around in a giant tin can on wheels that you can't park anywhere, and even if you could find something in your luggage that doesn't stink like campfire, the water tank doesn't hold enough shower to clean your entire family up for a presentable appearance. You're camping. You're experiencing the wilderness, you're roasting marshmallows and sitting under the stars and exploring trails and touching giant yellow slugs.
It was dirty. It was quality time together as a family, alone. It was loud and smokey and sandy. It was hilarious. And frustrating. It was sugary sweet and greasy. It was charred black. It was heavenly and stunning and wonderful. It was gas guzzling. It was icy cold and sticky hot. It was Paul Bunyan in the parking lot. It was bed head and hot chocolate mustaches. It was bunnies on the path and deer in the park. It was a potty on wheels. It was rock hunting and baseball. It was piping hot coffee and the perfect s'more. Flying wine bottles. Dumping the pooper. It was the art box, lollipops, and duct tape. It was a picture journal written by a kindergartner. It was Hey There Sister, I don't wanna miss you (sung by my 2 year old) times 134.
It was amazing. I want to do it again tomorrow.

PS I got so caught up in recapping my vacation I'll have to fill you in on the raw foods craziness next time. Glad to be back and keep those comments coming, it helps me to know someone's still out there listening:)