July 28, 2008

Real Food 101

I know many of you might either think (1) I’m crazy/malnourished because of my dietary choices or (2) that it’s great what I’m doing and you wish you could do something close to it but it might just be a little tough for you (or you might already be doing what I’m doing and that’s great too), but this post is for the people that fall into group 2. I’m not going to tell you to go raw, but there are things y’all can do to reach a middle ground between the Standard American Diet (SAD) and eating real foods. I figured writing a post like this would be useful as a brief, informative guide for the people who randomly text me at 1:45a after having a greasy burger with bacon, meat patties, and 8 layers of melted cheese asking for a detox solution because you feel slow, heavy, and very simply put, shitty in all senses of the word (haha you know who you are).

First, it’s realllly useful if you have a high power blender (Vitamixes or Blendtecs are preferred, but you could do just fine without them – but really, great investments whether you intend on going raw or not). If you don’t, it’s cool (eating your food just takes a little bit longer). What I would do first is acknowledge that there’s no need to eat when you’re bored. Food is for nutrition, energy, and taste. Now for the food (and this is assuming that today isn’t a school day. If you’re going to pursue this in school, at the workplace, or wherever, try starting on your off days and you’ll get used to it so doing it away from home isn’t so difficult):

Start your morning off with a good amount of water and fruit. I’ll usually do 32 oz. of water with a full squeezed lemon, some salt, and cayenne pepper (it wakes me up, but do what feels good for you). I’d follow that up with a cucumber or two (can’t get enough) with some celery (both have plenty of fiber to help clean your system out and they’re great for your skin). At that point, I’d make a smoothie of anywhere from 3-6 servings of fruit (or you could eat a few straight up w/o the blending), some olive or flax oil for good fats (they won’t make you fat. Trust me. Just have a spoon or two, and you won’t even notice the oil’s in the smoothie). Some of my better blends are:

  • Two peaches, two oranges, flax oil (and if you want, pineapple goes great w/ this) (pictured above, settled a bit)
  • ½ cup almonds, 2 cups of water (blended together first to make a milky based) with 3 bananas, 4-6 dates, and a tablespoon or so of cinnamon
  • Two apples, one mango
  • Two bananas, an apple, a slice of papaya (which, I’d say is probably an eighth or a sixth of a big one) with some cacao nibs (you could do fine w/o them. I just like the chocolatey flavor)
Right there, you already have a good 500 or more calories to get you started with your day.
I don’t usually go by meals. I kinda just eat when I feel like it, but for those of you that need the breakfast-lunch-dinner format, I’d say for lunch, you could do a big salad with plentiful greens. If you want the extra sugar (and I usually do), go with some fruit, but eat it before the meal (do it after and it’ll start fermenting in your stomach on top of the salad, producing gases you don’t want lmfao). People often wonder how the hell I have a salad without dressing, and really, I don’t know what’s so crazy about it. I always enjoyed my veggies straight up, even before I went raw or vegan), but for the normal population that needs that extra kick, instead of going with the Italian dressing or the hellish Ranch or French, use a little olive oil and squeeze a lemon on top. Add onions and/or garlic to the salad to get more of a kick. You’d be surprised how unnecessary dressing is.

For din, I’d go with another, smaller salad (you REALLY can’t get enough greens. They work wonders. Can’t emphasize that enough). Then try something a little fancy. One of my favorite, simple preparations is lettuce wraps using romaine lettuce leaves with a little guac blend in them. Mash up an avocado with half an onion or so, a clove or two of garlic (minced, of course), a yellow or a red bell pepper (or, even better, both of them), add a little sea salt, a little lime or lemon, and add the mix liberally to the romaine lettuce. Enjoy. You could do the same thing with hummus spreads, tomato pestos w/ cucumbers and onions (below), but I went with the avocado because I can’t get enough of them.

Now this might not seem like enough food for the day, and that’s because it isn’t. You shouldn’t be eating only three meals a day. Eating five or so small meals a day keeps you a lot more sustained than three bigger ones – it’s better for your metabolism, your energy levels, and a lot of other things I can’t remember off the top of my head because I’m writing this in a train w/ no internet lol. Throughout the day, in between meals, indulge in cold oranges, crunchy apples, baby carrots, or whatever else sounds good to you. I’d recommend nuts, but I feel like those are hard to consume in moderation (I find myself chowing down after having just a few. I can’t get my hands off them (don’t think dirty)). If you’re feelin’ them though, don’t resist too much. Have a handful or so. They have great health benefits, but too many slow you down because they are relatively a lot harder for your body to digest. Other things you could check out are dates (soaking them and then eating them and drinking the soak water is great), goji berries (some love them, some hate them. You gotta try them though), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, tomatoes (eating them like apples is actually pretty great), or tea.

I don’t do as many salads as I mentioned in this plan, but that’s because I use the blender a LOT. Personally, I do green smoothies for breakfast and dinner with a plethora of sweet fruit, almonds, goji berries, cucumbers, celery, romaine lettuce and the occasional avocado throughout the day. Green smoothies are fruit based smoothies – any great blend that you might enjoy – with some sort of added leafy greens. I always do spinach and/or kale, but I’m transitioning into using stronger flavored greens because I’m adjusting to the taste. If you’re starting though, I’d use spinach. It’s definitely the most mild-tasting, so you taste nothing but the fruit smoothie, but you see nothing but the green greatness of what you’re drinking. I know it’s might creep you out to look at this thick green drink while drinking it, but you kinda just gotta do it. It creeped me out for the first three months I was raw, and that’s why I only did 3 or so green smoothies a week, but now I do two-a-days because the green doesn’t bother me. The taste wasn’t really ever a factor. The simplest green smoothie that works every time is two bananas, two apples, and half a pound or more of spinach (I do a pound, but start off gradually if you’re not up for that much yet).

If you’re a fellow raw enthusiast, feel free to add to this post and share advice I didn’t via comments, but if you’re not and you do want to learn more, definitely hit me up @ a.shah811@gmail.com, facebook, or AIM (ankittt). If you couldn’t tell, I love talking about it, and I love helping other people make moves, so you’d kinda make my day if you did start talking to me about it. There’s countless things you do with real food. This was just a brief option.

Keep lovin’,

P.S. If you are particularly inspired, definitely check out the 100-day Raw Fu Challenge, starting on August 1. It's all fun, so there's no commitment. See http://tinyurl.com/rawfu100. If you're up for it, join the network w/ all the other challengers who're helping each other out @ http://raw100.ning.com.


oknataLi said...

i miss you ankit! we need to finish dhoom 2!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ankit. This is kind of unrelated to your post, but I was just wondering what is your opinion about labeling yourself based on your dietary preferences, even if you slip up once in a while. (I don't think that made any sense so I will clarify): What I mean is, let's say I consider myself a vegan and I do follow a vegan diet 99.99% of the time, but once in a while I'll slip up and accidentally eat something with whey or honey in it. Should I still call myself a vegan

Personally, I believe that the answer is yes, but I am curious to hear your opinion.

Breanna said...

Hey Ankit! What a great post, it really helps to get a sense of what other raw foodist are eating on a daily basis. I am also a HUGE fan of the blender. It's probably the first thing on my college packing list. I know you mentioned that you eat goji berries, which I happen to love, but have you ever tried bee pollen? I know it sounds weird but it's actually pretty tasting and is full of vitamins and protien.

Thank you again for the great post!

Ankit said...

To anonymous:
I guess that's in relation to my whole bit on identifying with things in one of my earlier posts. You can consider yourself a vegan if you do what you do, but in my personal opinion, I think vegan is just a convenient title to get people to know where you're coming from. I don't care much for labels. You don't need to identify yourself with being anything simply because, in most cases, when one does, it'll become almost restrictive. It'll almost force you to resent every time you slip or anytime something you're wearing has a bit of leather. Just do what you do and try hard, but make it fun. When you label yourself as anything, things become less fun.

To Breanna:
I haven't tried bee pollen, but I've been meaning to for so long. Where do you order yours from? I definitely want to check it out.

Good luck in college with sticking to the good life haha. Hopefully your roommate won't be bothered by it too much. Maybe she'll start to indulge as well.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Feel free to browse the rest of the blog, though. There's plenty of random bits on raw living that you might take interest in.

Tristessa said...

Well said.