On turning 30: what a difference 6 months makes!

No, I’m not turning 30. (That was LAST year.) My friend Jennie is. To celebrate, today we decided to do our favorite activities all day long just to prove that we’re still young. We’re snowboarding at Brighton all day (after Jennie promised I don’t have the ski the trees). And then playing tennis for hours and then going to a play.

Saturday night I took her, at her request, to Omar’s Rawtopia in Sugarhouse (a neighborhood of Salt Lake City) for dinner, before her big party that 75 people showed up for at her tiny house. She loved the crème of broccoli soup, pasta, and hummus wraps.

I teased her about how she turned her nose up at Pure Food and Wine in New York City, just last Thanksgiving. And she lit into me:

“You didn’t prepare me for that at ALL! The pizza didn’t taste like a pizza. The lasagna was nothing like real lasagna. Everything is made of veggies and stuff. I would have liked it better if I’d just KNOWN.”

Fair enough. (Hanging my head.) I often need reminders of where people are in their journey. Just because I’ve been doing this so long, I forget what my initial reactions were to gourmet raw-food recipes. Sometimes I need reminders of what yours are!

Now that I think about it, I thought the exact same thing in the beginning! In fact, it ticked me off that “raw” folks tried to mimic cooked foods. I’d say, “Just be who you are, make a raw dish that is unique! That didn’t taste like a taco, so why pretend? Don’t call it a taco!” I remember ranting about that to a friend, too.

I’m way past that now, and I actually like the idea that even if a raw “burrito” or “sloppy joe” doesn’t taste anything like a real one, you know how to handle it, from the title on the menu. (OMG, thank goodness they don’t taste the same. I confess I once went hungry at my own birthday party when I was about 28, because my mom made sloppy joes—gross.)

But if you’re new to raw foods or are thinking of going to a raw restaurant, here are some things you should know–inspired by Jennie’s diatribe last night:

“Cheese” is going to be seed cheeses: sesame, pine nuts, lemon juice, etc. “Pasta” noodles will be raw zucchini or yellow squash or both. Wraps will be in collards, chard, or romaine. Crackers or bread will be made of flax. Burritos will be in dehydrated, sprouted seed/grain tortillas. Alfredo sauce or cream sauces will be cashew-based, no dairy.

You will also experience an explosion of flavors, far more flavorful than anything in the cooked world. You’ll leave feeling light. (Unless you overdo on seeds/nuts!)

Jennie: “I want to go back to that raw restaurant”

My friend Jennie was a total junk food addict. Although she’s smart, well read, and has an advanced degree, she was also shockingly ignorant about nutrition (once I wrote about how she thought Jell-O was a food group).

At 29, she had horrific endocrine problems, including unbearable menstruation pain and endometriosis and infertility.

I begged her for a long time to consider the effect that her diet was having on her health. Finally she agreed to go see Dr. Hugo Rodier in Draper, Utah.

She took on his cleanse program and did it religiously. She was in tears a number of times because her education in nutrition was at such a low place, and she just didn’t know what to eat.

She completed the cleanse recently and her mind-blowing pain has not returned so far. She feels and looks much better. She drinks a green smoothie every day and missed it desperately when she went to a 3-day family reunion last weekend. She brought me some gluten-free, whole-foods banana cookies last week and was so proud of herself.

Last November she was with me at Sarma’s raw restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, in New York City. I treated her and my friend Jamie (who also has horrible pain and endocrine and fertility problems) to a 10-course meal. Neither of them would eat much of anything until the dessert. They left HUNGRY after 10 courses because they turned their nose up at virtually everything that was served–all of which was FABULOUS.

(I also got Jamie a meal at Go Raw Café the month before, in Las Vegas, which she wouldn’t eat and left hungry! Jamie’s highly influenced by years as a fitness competitor, a world of preoccupation with eating massive amounts of animal protein.)

Jennie, though, says her tastes have changed radically after shifting to her new whole-foods lifestyle.

She wrote me a text yesterday saying this: “I love raw plant food now! I wish I could go back to the raw restaurant in New York City! It would all taste good to me now!”

Tastes really do change. Get off sugar for 4 days and watch a miracle take place. Of course, the miracle ends the minute you eat sugar, because your addiction come roaring back with a vengeance.

I love to see positive changes like Jennie’s. I see so much more hope and light in her aura, her energy, her outlook. I’m taking her to Omar’s (our only upscale raw restaurant here on the Wasatch Front) for her birthday April 9 when I’m back from San Diego.