Back in 1995, I'd managed to pack on a lot of extra pounds and was sluggish and feeling my age. I eliminated baked goods, sweets and meat from my diet. I had plenty of fresh fruit for sweets and made wonderful melon sorbets with no added sweeteners. I used eggs, beans and cheese to round out the protein portion of my intake. I'd say that my meals were 50 - 60% raw, accompanied by steamed or roasted veggies at dinner time. I occasionally indulged in a few sautéed dishes like latkes with freshly made raw applesauce balancing out a dollop of sour cream. As the man said, "moderation is the key". Not sure which man that was or perhaps it was a woman, but believe me, avoiding favorite foods entirely is ridiculous - there are no 'bad' whole foods. It's the processed, packaged, plastic, chemically laden, hydrogenized modern wonders that will do you in and certainly contribute to the national obesity epidemic.
While I wait for my new idea book to arrive in the mail, I've pulled out Marilyn Diamond's The American Vegetarian Cookbook, a veritable tome of fantastic ideas, excellent suggestions and recommendations with a raft of information regarding wholefoods vs. refined; fiber, protein, cholesterol, etc. This great resource offers a glimpse into how the body uses the foods we eat to help our immune systems fight disease, but it's also a straightforward volume filled with instructions for easy to prepare meals that will satisfy our appetites while filling us with vibrant energy. Check it out at a great savings.
One of my favorite finds from this cookbook is the goodwich. No, that's not a typo - - it's not supposed to be the good witch. It's an aphorism describing a healthy sandwich. In today's lingo, we call it a wrap. Tortilla based, filled with steamed and fresh veggies,tasty condiments and trimmings, a goodwich is ready to eat in minutes. Tightly wrapped and refrigerated, it's conveniently on-hand when hunger strikes.
Using a whole wheat tortilla for a base,we get the feel of bread without the bulk, (read extra calories) from two slices of bread or a bun. The filling can be any assortment of steamed vegetables, raw vegetables or salads that you choose with low fat condiments such as mustard, tartar sauce, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, fat free or dairy free mayonnaise, etc. and the trimmings are limited only by your imagination and how well you've stocked your pantry: sliced pickles, onions, chopped olives, sprouts, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red bell pepper, etc.
Marilyn spends several pages with examples, suggestions and combinations that have proven successful. Even including a diagram on how to layer and fold the goodwich for ease of handling and eating (keeping the drips to a minimum).
Here's one that I whipped together for lunch using my very favorite combination, vine ripened tomato and avocado with alfalfa sprouts. A paltry filling compared to some of Marilyn's combinations.
To see some exciting examples of raw food, check out Heidi and Justin Ohlander's blog Raw Food, Right Now. They've made the transition from surviving on cooked, dead food to thriving on raw, live food. They posted some fantastic recipes for the recent holiday that will give you an idea of how foods we are so familiar with can be prepared and eaten in a whole new healthier way.
Eating 100% raw food isn't eveyone's goal, but gradually incorporating raw whole foods into our diets is a means to take control of our health. After all, we are each responsible for our own well being.
Bill Buford's column, Notes of a Gastronome, in the October 12th issue of the New Yorker discussed the changing face of food TV. His closing paragraph speaks directly to the lack of food savvy and dependence on prepared food that has become the state of our nation.
"Never in our history as a species have we been so ignorant about our food. And it is revealing about our culture that, in the face of such widespread ignorance about a human being's most essential function -- the ability to feed itself -- there is now a network broadcasting into ninety million American homes, entertaining people with shows about making coleslaw."
It's food that keeps us free of illness and disease and conversely, it is food that contributes to the myriad of fatal illnesses that plague us today. Why have we allowed the food giants, meat processors, fast food chains and agri-business to jeopardize our health and well-being? It's time to take charge of ourselves and our own. Making small changes daily is a step in the right direction.
Till next time. . . keep on cooking, but try a little raw food!