Sunday, 4 December 2011

Exploring raw

I've got a couple of buddies into raw food so it has been on my mind for some time. Not radical raw food eaters, but where they look at getting 60% or more of their food from raw fruits and veggies.

I've never been a big meat eater, even as a child and I don't think I ate red meat at all for almost 10 years (in the 90's) - it just doesn't agree with my tummy, especially when I'm running more. In general, I eat red meat when served it; I don't buy or cook it myself. It is kinda the same with chicken and I think I have almost a seasonal response to it because sometimes I'm fine with chicken and other times not - depends perhaps on what has been pumped into the chickens? Again, the more I run, the less my tummy tolerates chicken, leaving my belly upset.

I've also been very wheat/gluten aware since an illness five years ago when I'd been out for dinner and the next day suspected a 24hr bug of sorts as I was sick as a dog. My friend, who ate the same meal, was fine. The 24hr bug turned into a 10 day bug and I couldn't eat any wheat products without my stomach writhing in agony and my belly extending within 30 minutes. I did all the blood tests - no allergy. Just a sensitivity that developed as a result of the illness. When, even a month later, my gluten tolerance was low, I cut out all wheat products for a few months and then slowly introduced them but in limited quantities. If I go through a phase of eating more wheat products (cereals, sandwiches, pasta etc) I feel it coming back again.

Recently these sensitivities returned - feeling wheat and meat sensitive, lethargic and lazy. So, two weeks ago I decided to revert to simple, vegetarian eating to get back on track. As it happened, I went to a health shop to pick up some grains and at the counter they had a book, Rawlicious, which caught my eye. I've looked at various raw food books over the months but this one, written by a South African couple, was the best presented and has recipes with products that we get here.

So, I've been exploring raw food and have increased my intake of raw, plus some cooked, and I've stayed away from food with eyes.

I attended a raw food workshop, presented by the one author, and it was quite an eye opener. He's a vegan (too extreme for my liking) and rarely eats anything cooked. A bit too extreme for my interests. The first part of the course was a bit too much of the 'selling' of raw food eating - not my thing as I was on the course because I'm already with the programme. My objective was to learn a bit more about food preparation techniques because raw food is not just salads and juices.

And that's the key - not to think of raw food as a radical-bunny-hugger-hippy-child-of-the-earth way of eating. I'd classify it as a culinary category like Chinese, Indian or Spanish cooking. It's a whole new realm of food preparation and as such there are raw food 'cooking' courses, which I hope to explore too.

The highlight of the day was lunch. Oh my goodness! Absolutely incredible and tasty. Like really amazing. You can't believe what is made from raw foods - it really isn't carrot and celery sticks.

The other aspect of raw that appeals is the variety and creativity in foods and preparation techniques. I certainly get stuck in the butternut-courgette-carrot-broccoli routine; maybe a dash of potato, onion, spinach and mushroom. I walk the aisles in the supermarket and find little that makes me think, "Yum". I've been very un-food-stimulated for too long. The raw foodists bring in variety and exciting tastes with seeds, sprouts, seaweeds, grains and nuts, in addition to the veg and fruit that we commonly find.

So I'm back to being fully vegetarian (not vegan) again and it is working for me. I'm running nicely again (best since August), lungs are feeling great (they weren't, depending on what I'd eaten) and I'm trying new foods and food combinations.

For me, if something isn't working and I'm feeling kuk, then it is time for a change; time to try something different, because more of the same isn't going to produce a different outcome. Cutting out meat and eating less cooked food is the something different. Lots to learn, loads to try and I'm already feeling better for it.

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