Archive | July, 2011

How to go raw: my raw cupboard essentials

30 Jul

Green leaves and sprouts are king and queen of my raw cupboard.

By some strange quirk in the universe lots of people have recently asked me what they need to buy to make ‘going raw’ as easy as possible. It is strangely harder than I thought to find a list online so here are some of the raw basics I have in my cupboard at all times. I should add that these are by no means complete – there are always new things to try and seasonal specials that bring my raw heart back from the dark cooked side.

The obvious essentials

  1. Green leaves – baby spinach is a staple, any lettuce and watercress
  2. Seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, linseed, sesame
  3. Vegetables – zucchini is a must, carrots, red onions, beetroot,and broccoli
  4. Sprouts – I grow my own alfalfa
  5. Fruit – apples, lemons, limes, cucumber, tomatoes (including sundried)
  6. Nuts – almonds, walnuts always
  7. Dried fruit – dates, prunes, raisins
  8. Avocado – I know it’s a fruit but I think it deserves its own spot
  9. Chilli
  10. Garlic
  11. Ginger

Less obvious essentials

  1. Coconut water
  2. Honey
  3. Agave syrup
  4. Raw cacao powder
  5. Tahini
  6. Apple cider vinegar
  7. Coconut oil/butter
  8. Quinoa
  9. Oats
  10. Chick peas

Essential spices

  1. Cinnamon – I have it with just about everything
  2. Cumin
  3. Turmeric
  4. Sea salt
  5. Cayenne pepper
  6. Cracked black pepper
  7. Chilli flakes
Essential herbs
  1. Basil – I grow it on my window sill
  2. Coriander
  3. Parsley
  4. Mint
Essential supplements

  1. Probiotics
  2. Digestive enzymes -to help me digest something more complex
  3. Zinc -if I feel my immune system needs a hand
  4. Cod liver oil
  5. Psyllium husk – if my digestive tract feels sluggish
  6. Chlorella (blue green algae) – good for city dwellers and deep fish eaters – for detoxing heavy metals

Essential equipment

  1. Blender
  2. Sprouter
  3. Dehydrator – I wrote this here but I don’t have one yet – although I am saving for the 9 tray excalibur deluxe…

Other non-raw  raw essentials

  1. Rice paper sheets
  2. Nori roll seaweed paper
  3. Black strap molasses
  4. Teas – oolong (like nice tasting green tea),  dandelion (liver/gall bladder/water retention)
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Raw Thai street food

25 Jul

pawpaw, cucumber, pineapples and just about everything else in a raw street food vendor's cart

It’s easy to be raw on the streets of Bangkok. Mashed against and tangled between walls and curbs of both the tiniest windiest alleyways and the most overwhelming motorways are its many raw street food vendors.

If you can turn your head away from the deep frying chicken, tripe, insects and fish balls, amongst the other unidentifiable goodies, the wide variety of tenderly prepared fruits and vegetables is a delicious temptation for the most hardcore carnivores among us.

Please excuse the layout of the pics – I haven’t mastered it!

Raw food restaurant review: Rasayana

17 Jul

My raw cabbage rolls at Rasayana were rock and roll

My friend San Bao, of tea ceremony fame in Koh Samui, raved about the Bangkok raw food restaurant Rasayana to me two years ago. This year I finally have a few extra days up my sleeve so decided to stop by Bangkok for a raw lunch.

I decided to walk and arrive via a motorway, main road, small arterial road and find the restaurant twenty metres up a private and unnervingly security patrolled lane. The location is obscure so I’m amazed if anyone else ever just wonders in like I’ve done. The first thing I notice is that Rasayana is not just a restaurant but a whole and beautifully calm palm-treed sanctuary in the middle of stinking Bangkok megacity. I almost forget that I nearly died crossing the motorway and sit down at a traditional wooden table with rainforest music tinkling in the background.

True Vision Thailand filming a raw food special

It just so happens that on the day of my visit, the TV channel True Vision was there to film. If you’re watching channels 6 and 7 Friday July 22 in Thailand, you might catch their special on raw food and Rasayana. I think this also proves that some cultures are much more open to raw foodism as a viable option for a mass audience.

I digress.

The menu is overwhelming and I am so parched I can barely concentrate. Hence the first order of the day for me is something they call an electrolyte surge. To you and I – chilled coconut water and celery juice. I’ve never had that combo before and it was delicious. I’ll be making it at home for sure. It also looks a gorgeous lime green colour – for entertaining perhaps?

a glassful of surging electrolytes

I spend the next 30 minutes deciding what to eat and establish a short list:
• Barley sushi – vegetables, avocado, coconut meat in nori roll
• Mexican Taco cup – mixed vegetables in a crunchy flaxseed taco cup and spicy salsa
• Spaghetti and nut balls – marinated zucchini noodles toppled with savory almond nutballs and a marinara sauce
• Sun burger – almond-celery-sage patty served in a cabbage lead and topped with ‘live’ ketchup.

I end up being so boring I can’t believe myself. I choose cabbage rolls (as above). Mainly because the photo made them look sooooooo amazing. And to be fair they are also not your average cabbage rolls. These are stuffed with carrots, celery, avocado and capsicum (peppers) and served surrounded by a delicious raw seeded mustard (mustard seeds, olive oil, garlic, onion, and apple cider vinegar).

Other than the TV crew I am the only guest here today and am seated a right arm’s-length away from a refrigerated display cabinet filled with the raw desserts. While I am so full I can hardly move, I fight with myself. No, you don’t need it. Yes I do. No you don’t. Please don’t, don’t do it.

raw lime heaven on a plate pie

I order the lemon tart – made entirely from macadamia nuts, lime zest and juice and what I presume to be avocado. I eat it, breathlessly, in almost a single mouthful.

I’ve eaten more in one meal than I have over the last 2 weeks and while I feel uber full, I also feel full with nutrients. I planned to return to Rasayana for dinner but alas a tuk tuk driver drove me to shopping emporium (where he no doubt received commission) instead of the grand Palace where I wanted to go. When I refused to enter it – he drove into the middle of nowhere and demanded I get out. I refused as I had NO idea where I was. Luckily, my strange, feeble and terrified insult – ‘you are dishonouring your country,’ seemed to get him going again. This exact thing happened to me in Delhi last year. No more tuktuk drivers.

If you’re in Bangkok and have eaten your body weight in thai green curry– you absolutely must go to Rasayana for a refreshing and innovative raw menu. If nothing else it will provide a gentle respite from the hectic craziness, dirtiness and onslaught of concrete surrounding you

Diary of a fasting hypocrite

11 Jul

Oh yum. Bentonite clay, pysillium, lemon juice and water - 6 times a day...

I’m typing this up on day nine of my fast. It’s my last day so please excuse the potential lack of lucidity. I knew it was time to break when a woman eating her fermented cabbage salad changed tables to avoid my obsessive stares.

Day 1
Mood: excited
healing crises (physical symptoms of detoxing) – none
sleep: 8 hours
weight: am – 67kgs, pm – 67kgs
food cravings: none

Day 2
Mood: low to ok
healing crises: 5 hours of intense nausea
sleep: none – went to the toilet every 20mins
weight: am – 66kgs, pm – 68kgs
cravings: none

Day 3
Mood: variable –irritable, paranoid yet somehow sociable
healing crises: rash on neck and upper arm (lasted 24 hrs)
sleep: 4 hours – went to the toilet every hour
weight: am – 66kgs, pm – 68kgs
cravings: raw beetroot and walnut salad with tahini dressing (recipe to follow)

Day 4
Mood: up in the morning, down in the evening, productive
healing crises: sty in left eye (for 2 hours only), nausea
sleep: 3 hours – went to the toilet every hour
weight: am – 65kgs, pm – 67kgs
cravings: none

Day 5
Mood: good but tired
healing crises: twinges in gall bladder
sleep: 6 hours
weight: am – 65kgs, pm – 67kgs
cravings: raw beetroot and walnut salad with tahini dressing – AGAIN

yoga once a day until the last few days when I felt too weak. It really helps release the toxins from the muscles.

Day 6
Mood: weak but able to do yoga which helped enormously
healing crises: twinges in gall bladder
sleep: 6 hours
weight: am – 64kgs, pm – 66kgs
cravings: chunky piece of mature cheddar cheese on a proper warm French fresh baguette, black rice and squid from El Piratas

Day 7
Mood: totally and utterly spaced out/blissful – unbelievable 1.5hr massage exacerbated it
healing crises: vagueness in the extreme
sleep: 8 hours
weight: am – 64kgs, pm – 66kgs
cravings: none

Day 8
Mood: weak but content
healing crises: stomach cramps
sleep: 6 hours
weight: am – 63kgs, pm – 65kgs
cravings: fermented cabbage salad

Day 9
Today I feel happy and healthy but really weak, which is to be expected. My final weight is 63kgs and I’m not at all hungry however I do crave anything with texture. My first meal will be something The Spa calls rejuvalax salad – a raw cabbage salad fermented using acidophilus. It sounds horrendous but I guarantee you it is DELICIOUS and my body can do with all the probiotics it can get.

The detox doesn’t end here though. The next few days are crucial to ease my body back into eating and digesting normally. Usually I fly home the same day or morning after I break the fast but this time I am staying a luxurious 3 days extra. I’ll be eating 99% raw – perhaps having some wild red thai rice at some point.
I also have to say that the people you meet here also make the fasting process a special experience. You meet people here from all walks of life; Russian Vogue editors, lawyers, teachers, tea traders, bankers, models, diplomats, soldiers, to New York cabbies.  Thank you to Damian, Marianne, Andrew, Andrew, Howie, Nikky, Ally, and Sarah – you’re all fabulous. And as always – San Bao and Gila make it a magical time of rich spiritual learnings.

Fasting for the fast lane

8 Jul

I look forward to my coconut water every morning as if it was chocolate...And then it rewards me by keeping me hydrated all day long.

I’m back in Thailand at Spa Samui detox ‘spa’ and 7 days into my fifth annual fast.  Spa Samui is by no means glamorous but it is by far, for me anyway, the most effective and most relaxing (thanks to Thai culture), reasonably priced detox spa I can find.  It also has, as they describe, a world famous raw food restaurant, which is probably not world famous but it is certainly sensational.  

I tried detoxing in an ayurvedic ‘clinic’ in India last year and while it was interesting, I didn’t feel remotely as ‘clean’ as I do when I leave here and the effect didn’t last half as long.  Fasting is a controversial idea in allopathic medicine but as I’ve written previously it is not only practiced by the major religions (Hindu, Jewish, Muslim) as a route to higher spiritual awareness, it as an opportunity for the body to stop digesting for a moment and give our overworked organs a chance to process the backlog of toxins and heal for the next 50 weeks of food.

Prior to beginning the fast I did a pre-fast. This is essential and more than 2 weeks is ideal but 2 days is ok.  The ultimate aim of the pre-fast is to alkalise before fasting to prepare your body for the onslaught of toxins released.  We’re given a litmus paper to test ourselves before starting.

I gave up a few things such as coffee over a month ago and cut back dramatically on everything else (although I do confess to having scrambled eggs on toast the morning before flying…last meal…hypocrite…).  I drank lots of green smoothies (chlorella, baby spinach leaves, alfalfa sprouts, coconut water, a fruit) for 2 weeks, ordered the raw menu on my thai airways flight and arrived relatively healthy and actually felt really perky, clear headed and energetic.

Our fasting schedule is hectic.

7am first detox drink (pysillium husk, lemon juice, bentonite clay, water)
7.30 am meditation
8.30  supplements – 3 chompers (12 herbs combined to stimulate release of ‘mucoid plaque’ and 3 generic herbal supplements for basic vitamins)
9-10am self administered colema
10am detox drink
11.30 supplements
1pm detox drink
2.30pm supplements
4pm detox drink
4.30-5.30 colema
7pm final detox drink
8.30pm final supplements
9pm probiotics

We are allowed tonnes of water of course and other additional drinks.  These include:

A clear broth of boiled vegetables.
I add cayenne pepper for some flavour.  The broth gently gives our organs much needed minerals and vitamins to help the detox process.

Coconut water is also allowed
As I’ve also written previously, nature’s Gatorade is essential for adding the electrolytes that will carry the water molecules throughout our bodies and keep us hydrated.  They literally fall from the trees around us so are particularly delicious and fresh.

Liver flush/Green shake
The liver flush recipe will follow in a separate post but the green shake is made of garlic, coconut oil, olive oil, lemon juice and anything green juiced juiced for the chlorophyll.

Add in a massage, a steam bath, body scrub, tongue scraping, a walk along the beach, a swim and yoga and it can be a very full day!  Interestingly I attempting partaking in all at fast pace in my first days on arrival, but it didn’t take long for London pace to detox from my system. Now I try one or two activities a day.  I’ve been writing a diary of my fasting experience and will post it soon.