Friday, October 31, 2008

Making it Fun! Avoiding Boredom and Nutritional Deficiencies on a Raw Food Diet

Making it Fun!
Avoiding Boredom and Nutritional Deficiencies on a Raw Diet
By Frédéric Patenaude


"Someone's boring me. I think it's me."
Dylan Thomas (1914 - 1953)

The scene looks like this: you're hungry, you're alone, and you're
going to eat another meal of romaine lettuce, tomatoes and avocados.
And you're bored. And these avocados are starting to be less
interesting than ever. And it's raining outside, and cold, and damp.
And you're wondering, is the fun of eating raw gone? Will I be able
to eat like that forever? Can this really be healthy?

As pure and as simple as our raw meals can be, there comes a point
for most of us where boredom can set in, when we require more variety
or friends to share food with, else we will might face two things:
lack of enthusiasm and inadequate intake of nutrients.

I've told people that simplicity is best. That a simple meal of ripe
mangoes when you're hungry beats the best raw or cooked pie you've
ever had. That making a great salad doesn't necessarily involve
putting everything but the kitchen sink in it and that, too often,
raw recipes are too complicated and, as a consequence, difficult to
digest. However, I did not mean that it is better to be a sad ascetic
than a merry epicurean.

It may be because I'm a bit of an epicurean myself. I love food and,
since I seem to be endowed with a few culinary talents, I get never
bored. I like to vary my diet and introduce new fruits, new nuts, new
vegetables and new recipes. And I encourage you to do the same for
two things. First being bored isn't fun. Second, it might not be
healthy either.

I've noticed a few things in raw foodists. They don't seem to vary
their diet a lot. They often stick with the few foods that they like.
I've noticed for example that many raw-foodists eat avocados
everyday. Others eat almonds everyday. Many raw-foodists told me that
they eat a meal of romaine lettuce, avocados, sprouts, and tomatoes
everyday. Sometimes they add some red bell pepper. Others bananas for
lunch and nothing else almost every day of the year. Is this supposed
to be what simplicity is about? Always eating the same thing? Is this

Chimpanzees are know to eat over 120 different varieties of plant
food in a year. While carnivorous animals always eat the same and
never get bored, frugivores seek variety. Most of us, too, have been
raised on a varied diet. When someone only eats porridge and potatoes
every day, we know that things are not going well for him. As human
beings we are used to variety and, if we don't have variety, it's
usually because of a lack of means or sheer incapacity to cook (many
divorced men find themselves in that situation!).

On a raw diet, variety is even more important because raw fruits and
vegetables provide nutrients in a less concentrated, more diluted
form. Thus, a certain vegetable may lack in many important nutrients,
which are compensated by what other vegetables can provide. It is not
enough to look at the charts and calculate our nutritional intake
because these numbers are wrong. A tomato grown in a farm in
California doesn't have the same nutritional value as another tomato
grown in a local garden or one grown in a hothouse. The only way we
can insure proper nutrition on a raw diet is by constantly varying
the foods we eat according to the season. Let's review a few pieces
of advice and add some more:

1) Vary the fruits -- It's easy to get stuck eating one food that we
like and forget everything else. I know, personally, that when
grapefruits are in season, I can eat 2-3 every morning and forget
about the other types of fruit. But fruit is fun. Fruit is what makes
the raw diet a lot of fun, especially when we include exotic fruits
in the menu. So I suggest constantly varying the fruits that you are
eating and discovering as many tropical fruits as you can. A durian
cure once a year is allowed.

2) Eat according to the seasons -- When I tell people to eat
seasonally, most of them don't understand. They think, if something
can be bought in a store, it means it's in season, right? Partly.
It's in season somewhere, but not necessarily in your hemisphere!
Let's consider the following: cherries are in season during the
summer, but in our side of the world. So the cherries you may buy may
be imported, but they are in season for you. If you find cherries in
the stores in the middle of the winter, this means they have been
imported from a far away country like Chili, which is situated in the
southern hemisphere where the seasons are reversed! It is not only
completely un-ecological to import foods from that far away, but the
fruit is also picked way too early and eating it at that time doesn't
follow our own biological rhythm.

3) Eating simply doesn't mean eating just one food at a meal -- I
don't believe in mono-eating in the sense that every meal should be
ideally composed of one food alone. I think this way of eating leads
to abuse. For example, pineapples and oranges are acid. If we eat
only these fruits at one meal, we'll likely eat too many of them to
satisfy our hunger and introduce too much acidity in the system.
Dates are too sweet. Plums contain a particular acid which can give
you the runs if you eat too much. Melons and papayas are rich in
water but a meal of them doesn't satisfy. So I recommend, when eating
fruit, eating 2-3 varieties, ideally not more than that. And if you
like, you can eat them one at a time like a true mono-eater.

4) Vary your vegetables -- Your mum told you "Eat your vegetables!"
And she was rights. But the chances are that even as a raw-foodist
you may not be listening to her. First you may not be eating enough
vegetables, and second you may not vary them enough. To eat enough
vegetables, you have to be creative. A salad can get boring. So put
your salad in the blender and make a raw soup sometimes! Check out
some raw soup recipe books for ideas. Green vegetable juices are also
extremely beneficial, and I recommend to drink some every day, if
possible. I like my green juice to be tasty, so I mix enough celery
juice in it and sometimes add a little bit of carrot and beet juice
too. And as for variety, the key is to make the base of your salad
out of a different vegetable every time and discover the unknown

5) Don't eat avocados everyday -- This is my advice for raw-foodists.
Most of them tend to eat too many avocados and too often. Consider
the avocado as one type of fatty food, not the staple of a raw diet.
I suggest eating avocados no more than once every other day. Try to
eat some nuts instead, and discover new varieties. Seeds are also
excellent. Hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds
should be added to the menu more often. This will help provide a
wider range of nutrients that avocados alone could not provide.

6) When in doubt, blend it up -- Why shun all modern developments and
insist to eat only whole fruits and vegetables when we have
diabolical machines such as the blender that can transform them into
liquid meals of unsuspected nutritional power? Hey, a little
technology is good. One of my friends says, "I love my car." With the
same unabashed mien I say "I love my blender," which just happens to
be a Vita-Mix that I use almost everyday. Smoothies and raw vegetable
soups are great ways to vary your diet and avoid boredom. And when we
add young coconuts, soaked nuts, avocados and carob powder to the
blending orgy, the possibilities for fun creamy treats are almost

7) When wondering what to eat, go to the Chinese -- The Chinese
themselves like to say they'll eat anything with four legs except a
table. We'll close an eye on some of their unscrupulous ways and
concede that they have helped us get out of the dark ages of raw
eating in northern countries, when no durians were available.
Chinatowns are full of surprises waiting to be discovered. I even
found durian toys. Then you can learn to say "thank you" in Chinese
(shiay shiay), or in whatever language the store owners happen to

I gave you some basic recommendations on varying the diet. However, I
didn't tell you exactly how you can make your raw meals fun and
exciting. I will now give you some ideas for quick and fun raw meals,
which will hopefully open your mind to try out more.

A friend of mine, for whom I was un-cooking, told me with a shrewd
look one day, "It's all salad anyway." I was probably preparing a raw
spaghetti from courgettes or lasagna with eggplant, and he told me,
just like that, "It's all salad anyway."

Okay, it may all be vegetables, but first it doesn't look like salad,
and second it doesn't exactly taste like a salad. The difference
between a salad that looks like a salad and a vegetable mix that
looks and tastes like something else is, as Mark Twain once put it,
"the difference between lightning and the lightning bug!"

Here are some ideas:

1) Take a nori sheet. Spread some pumpkin seed butter on it
(available in most health food stores). Add grated courgettes and
rinsed dulse. Roll up like and eat like a sandwich. Everyone will
think you're a genius. If you can't find pumpkin seeds butter, use
almond butter with a touch of sea salt to make it taste like peanut

2) For a great smoothies, blend some papaya, a whole ripe mango, one
teaspoon of spirulina powder and, if desired, a tiny bit of olive
oil. Blend with some water and beware of flying socks if you have
your friends try it out.

3) Soaked sun-dried tomatoes really add flavour. Put them in
everything that is not sweet and be ready to discover great combos.

4) Blend frozen durian with other fruits. Let it thaw for a few hours
and then blend it up with coconut water, mangoes, or other fruits.
You can even blend it with some carob powder, coconut water, and a
few dates for an "out-of-this-world experience."

5) For a quick nut spread, blend in your food processor raw tahini
and carrots together. Add your favourite seasonings.

These were just a few ideas to vary your diet and avoid boredom. My
motto is it should be tasty, healthy, and easy to prepare. When I
open some raw cookbooks and find a recipe with a page long worth of
ingredients I ask myself, "Do they really expect me to spend that
much time just to eat?" Then I think of all of the time it will take
to wash all the dishes and I give up. Are they kidding? I can prepare
something in 10 minutes and it will be just as good, easier to digest
and will leave me enough time to do the things that I really like to
do, such as writing articles for Get Fresh!

So in conclusion, varying your diet doesn't have to get complicated.
It doesn't involve becoming a raw gourmet genius. It just means
having the attitude of, "Hey, I'm going to have fun with this and try
something new everyday." It's about being open to try new foods
you've never tasted before, and making sure you don't eat the same
thing every day.

And remember, the cure for boredom is curiosity. But there is no cure
for curiosity.

Smiles from Canada,

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