the raw food diet

I’m going to be talking for a while about the raw food diet.That’s the only “diet” I approve of (the very word is annoying, isn’t it?).Why?First, because it’s the biggest focus of this web site and the program of whole foods I promote: raw plant foods.Of the 9,000 new visitors to this site monthly, many are coming from the Standard American Diet.And like all things Americana (GSG readers come from 149 countries in the past year), the SAD has spread to all but the most remote parts of the globe.

But many others who read this site are committed raw foodists.The first group may find what I teach daunting.(BUT . . . this is for you, and you can do it.What I teach is very do-able by anyone who wants better health.)And the latter group may call my teachings “transitional”–a good stepping stone on your way to the ultimate, a completely raw diet.

I am unconvinced that 100% raw is necessary for ideal health, and I believe it may even not be ideal.But I do believe this: 60-80% raw plant food is absolutely necessary for good health.

Second, because this is the time of year to get the very best produce, in North America, at least.This is my favorite time of year, when my garden is exploding with vegetables and greens, and my trees are heavy with peaches and apricots.And roadside stands are selling the best foods on Earth.

If you think the raw food diet is some kind of fad–it is exploding on the internet for sure–think again.It’s been around since the dawn of time.In fact, degenerative disease began when mankind discovered fire and began cooking his food.We have gone downhill at an accelerated rate as we’ve discovered more ways to pervasively destroy the nutrition in our food.

Think about undertaking a raw food diet for a few weeks, now that we’re in the easiest time of year to accomplish it.You will need less sleep, as your body needs less recovery because digestion becomes a snap.You’ll have lots of energy, so plan in advance what you are going to do with the extra!Every time I go 95-100% raw for a couple of weeks to a couple of months, I’m always so happy I did.

I’m having this overpowering craving

It’s late at night and I am having this huge craving . . . for arugula.

Yeah.   Arugula.

It’s one of my favorite foods.   If I type the word, I salivate.   Weird, huh.   In the winter, I buy it and can’t wait till I get it home before I fish around in the bag from the store to find it and munch on it in the car.

I have it growing in my square foot garden and every morning when I go out there to pull a few weeds and sometimes plant a few squares, I  eat some.   But right now I can’t find a  flashlight so I can go out there and find some!

I bring this up because I think for people transitioning to whole foods, it helps if you keep a list of really nutritious foods that you discover you REALLY LIKE.   Keep track of the recipes, yes, but also just the simple, plain vegetables, fruits, nuts, or seeds you love.   Put it on the inside of a cupboard or somewhere you can consult it when you’re bored of what you’re eating or need a reminder that good foods really ARE yummy.

What’s on YOUR list??   Telling us might remind us of long-forgotten whole foods we love, too.

Your 12 Steps journal is a good place to keep track of these things.   I don’t love everything that’s good for me–not a big fan of raisins, or nori sheets, or broccoli, or brussels sprouts.   But I loooooove asparagus, artichokes (especially the hearts), bing cherries, mangoes, almonds, dried apricots (not the Turkish kind), raw green olives, and the aforementioned arugula . . . better than almost any treat.   That’s my list.

Dang, now writing that has sent my craving into orbit . . . where IS that flashlight!

are you gardening yet?

I hope you’re planting a garden, since it’s May 14 and prime planting season!   I am enjoying the sunshine and getting my hands in the dirt (that’s “grounding” that gives you lots of antioxidants, by the way).   This is my first year doing it solo, though, so it’s lots more work, turning all the soil by hand and stringing the 275 square feet of my rather ambitious garden . . . and then the planting, weeding, and tending  itself.

That’s okay.   It’ll give me more of a sense of accomplishment.

Tonight we had a salad from the lettuce I planted in the middle of the winter, now mature.   Read Ch. 5 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods for pretty much everything I know about gardening, plus my two favorite books on the subject, summarized.

I’m doing a few things I haven’t planted before: fennel (LOVE fennel bulb sliced in salads), cilantro, and collards.

Are you planting anything new?   Any of you planting a garden for the first time ever, using minimal space?   You will love it!

national study on grocery budgeting

How much does the average family spend on groceries?   Nationwide, according to the USDA, here it is:

 

Two adults:

$361 thrifty / $459 low-cost / $569 moderate / $711 liberal

 

Two adults and 2 kids under 11:

$603 thrifty / $779 low-cost / $974 moderate / $1,182 liberal

 

Spending for my own family, which includes 4 kids, two of whom are teenagers and all of whom play at least one competitive sport, puts me in the THRIFTY to LOW-COST range.

 

So much for these excuses for not eating nutritious whole foods:

 

“I can’t because I’m a busy, single, working mom.”

“It’s too expensive.”

 

Truly, I believe that the reason nutrition hasn’t gone out the window since I’ve been a single mother is that I had good habits and a repertoire of recipes and ideas in place.   These are what I try to give you with my 12 Steps program.  

 

And I don’t overspend on groceries (I spend about $800/mo.) because what I spend on produce is offset by what I DON’T spend on processed/packaged food and meat.   While I do like a bargain, I don’t have the time or the interest to clip coupons, drive all over town, or obsess about the budget.   Also, while 12 Steps gives lots of tips, the top two that save me loads of money are (1) summer gardening, and (2) my large freezer that allows me to store produce, seeds, nuts, and more.

 

See http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodCost-Home.htm for more info about these nationwide averages.

benefits of drying food . . . part 2 of 3

So what are the benefits of drying food?   Pressure cooking preserves food, too, but kills all the enzymes at 240 degrees.   Canning also destroys water soluble vitamins.   Freezing is the other best way to keep your fruit and vegetables, but nutrients are lost over time, and most people just can’t keep much in their limited freezer space.   I have a large freezer and two fridges with small freezers–and I still never have enough room to preserve everything I want to keep.

Dehydrating with Excalibur is safe, with dark doors to avoid nutrition loss from light.   The 3000 model has an automatic 26-hour timer so you can leave food drying overnight or even while you’re out of town.

Storebought fruit leathers and dehydrated fruits often contain sulfites, sugar or corn syrup, and other preservatives and chemicals.   They’re also expensive!   At the end of summer, I often pick fruit from my neighbors’ trees that would otherwise go to waste.   (Make sure you get permission first!)   Dried apricots are one of my favorite things, and they’re so easy to make: just wash them, pop them in half, and put them on the dryer trays until dry.  You can also puree fruit in your BlendTec Total Blender, pour it onto the Teflex sheets, and dry it into fruit leather.

To make the crackers, chips, flavored almonds, and other fun stuff in the Crunchy Snacks Recipe Collection, or all the fun stuff in Ch. 7 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods, you definitely need a food dehydrator.   It’s a great way to make inexpensive, “live” snacks that nourish you well.

So here’s the link to get all the benefits of drying food:

http://tinyurl.com/56cn36

The Essential GreenSmoothieGirl Library . . . last part

For those wanting to grow a garden (the #1 way to save money eating a plant-based diet), these are my “bibles”–click on the link if you want to pick it up at Amazon:

 

Marian Morash’s The Victory Garden Cookbook is the definitive garden how-to, with hundreds of recipes on how to use each of those garden vegetables–I use this recipe book constantly, except when someone borrows it, falls in love with it, and doesn’t return it!

 

 

Eliot Coleman’s Four Seasons Harvest was a breakthrough for me, showing how to grow a winter garden even outdoors in a cold climate

 

 

Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening has taken the home gardening world by storm.   That’s because this is the very best way to grow a garden, maximizing space and minimizing work.