Thursday, April 28, 2011

[Blog] Staying Raw While Moving

Moving across country, as you may have noticed, has caused me to vanish from my blog for a time.

Between packing boxes, riding/driving the moving truck across the country, unloading the truck, shuffling the boxes about our apartment, preparing the garden, setting up our temporary office space, washing clothes and sheets, setting up our kitchen to a functional degree, etc, etc, etc, I've been a bit busy.

All of that is not to mention the long-awaited reunion with my family. It's been good to be around my parents, my brothers, and my nephew again. For the first week we played board games every night. Settlers of Catan, Dominion (various expansions there of), Thunderstone, Lord of the Rings Stratego, Mancala, Le Havre, Taluva, and Therapy are all games I've played with family (and sometimes friends) since my return.

Have I stayed 100% raw? No, I have not. I wish I could say I have, but many obstacles have gotten in the way, and I've found myself having a bowl of brown rice frequently in the past couple of weeks.

How did this come to be?

Before the move I was eating one small cup of something cooked one to three times a month, for a total of three cooked servings out of hundreds of raw food meals in a month, making my diet 99.5% raw. I had no intention of it changing.

I was well prepared for the worst. The day of the move I had a friend help me prepare tons of on-the-road-food. My helper was a lovely young woman who became a raw vegan and lost the weight she'd been toting around in grade school, Jordan. It was a hectic day, and it was nice to have her juicing the lemons for me. She must have juiced twenty lemons with the hand-juicer for the on-the-road meals I was preparing for my husband and I. Maybe more than twenty lemons.

I made several containers of Apple Breakfast (known as Apple Muesli in my ebook, Nut-Free Raw Recipes by Raederle), and several containers full of salad, mostly made up of spinach, onion, raw sauerkraut, hemp seeds, olive oil and lemon juice. I brought along dehydrated crackers, mostly made up of sunflower seeds and carrots. We brought raw almond butter (bought from Trader Joe's and arguably not-raw although I have not looked into it personally.) I also made a container of Mighty Minty Mango (another recipe from Nut-Free Raw Recipes) with extra lemon juice to preserve it.

(Speaking of sauerkraut, my first attempt at making my own is two days into the process within my kitchen right now.)

I packed all of those sealed glass containers (called glass-lock containers I believe) into a cooler with bagged ice-cubes I made at home. The bagged ice-cubes are nice because when they melt you just have a bag of water instead of the contents of your cooler swimming. You can make these at home by pouring your ice cubes into plastic grocery bags and tying them tightly shut and then putting them back in the freezer. If you can't seem to tie them tightly enough, add a rubber-band.

The salads stayed fresh without an issue, and so did the Apple Breakfast and Mighty Mango mixes. We bought more ice at a gas station when driving through a desert and we had no difficulty keeping the food cold. Very little went to waste, and the few bits that were wasted were a result of not finishing a container and then leaving it in the front of the truck (outside of a cooler).

We stopped in Kansas to visit my husband's grandparents. They own a ranch out in the middle of no where. It's beautiful land. I saw "balled lightning" for the first time and wild fires for the first time in the same day.

It made an excellent resting place. Mid-way in the journey, great hosts, comfortable guest rooms, and lovely land to explore.

While we were there we went to the local grocery store. There was no organic produce, and the produce they did have was sparse. I 'made do' by selecting a lot of bananas and buying frozen berries to make smoothies and buying celery to eat with our almond butter. I was also able to ask an aunt-in-law who was visiting to bring us a couple tubs of organic baby spinach.

The last day we were there his grandparents took us to local eatery. There were literally no raw options. There were sandwiches that consisted of condiments, meat and bread, and there were fried seafoods and meats, there was biscuits and gravy, etc, etc. I decided to just 'go with it' and ordered an old-time favorite of mine back from when I used to be an overweight, unhappy, emo sixteen-year-old: french fries and fried shrimp.

To my amazement, the french fries and fried shrimp did not upset my stomach. Two years ago I would have been balled up in pain the night following a meal like that. The whole reason I got into nutrition was because I was waking up with stomach aches every single morning and going to bed at night with painful burps that kept me from sleeping.

None of that happened this time. I felt fine.

What does this mean? I take this to mean that raw vegan foods have healed my digestive system and that I should stick with them. Perhaps there will be times when I go way outside of my diet in weird circumstances, but for the most part (preferably for 99.5% of the time) I'm a raw vegan and I love that about myself.

Before we left the ranch I loaded up the cooler again with similar dishes to the first time. Some of them lasted beyond our arrival in Buffalo, NY and we were able to eat them the days we were unpacking without having the burden of preparing meals.

With all our things in boxes I was stressed and upset. Entering the kitchen and realizing that half the implements I use on a daily basis were still in boxes and that I had messes to clean up before I could begin making meals was frustrating.

Under the stress, I cracked around the edges. I've slipped to something more like a 90% raw diet, and have been eating brown rice fairly regularly since I arrived. It was something I relied on when I first began to alter my diet (before I discovered raw food) because I didn't know what else to eat. It's inexpensive, filling, and as long as it's plain brown rice (no oil or beans added), it doesn't upset my stomach.

Another exception I made was when I saw my mom making squash by preheating it in the microwave, I said to her, "If you made squash entirely in the oven and didn't add any butter, I'd like to have some." (I also explained why I wouldn't eat anything that came out of a microwave.) So, the next day she brought me some squash. I admit it was fantastic.

I've also had a few bites of bread made at a local organic bakery.

The breads contained no form of sugar. That's one thing I never, ever compromise on. No refined sugars, not in any form, ever. Agave, xylitol, stevia, brown sugar, molasses, etc; no matter the situation, those are never on the table for me. It's debatable about whether of not a bowl of plain oven-cooked squash will harm me in any way, but it is certain that refined sugars are always harmful. I have done too much research on the matter to be convinced otherwise by anything less than mountains of contradicting evidence.

If you read the labels on bread, you'll notice it's hard enough to find bread without high fructose corn syrup. It's nigh on impossible to find it without sugar. Specialty-food stores, organic sections, etc, may on occasion carry a fresh-baked bread from a local or in-house bakery without sugar, but in the past (before I discovered raw foods) I found the looking wearisome.

Raw bread is something that I would actually prefer. It's just that nobody sells it (as far as I know) so it has to be made at home. It requires a juicer and a dehydrator, from my understanding. My husband and I are actually intending to order a juicer (at long last) today. As for the dehydrator, we have not yet even unpacked it from the move.

Once I've worked out exactly how the delicious raw breads I've had before are made, I'll write about that some more. It involves home-grown grain sprouts, which I have been growing and eating in the past few days. They're really mild and wonderful.

The lessons to be learned here?

A one-time exception won't make or break you. It's your daily habits that form who you are.

Being well-prepared makes a gigantic difference. It's something you're continually grateful for.

Staying raw on a cross-country road trip is not impossible, and with enough fresh-squeezed lemon juice, isn't even all that difficult.

Draw flexible lines and hard lines both. My flexible lines are whether I'm 99.5% raw or whether I'm 85% raw. But I would never willingly go an entire day without raw foods, and I would never willingly consume any refined sugars. Those are hard lines. I also would never consume hydrogenated oils (trans fats), or alternative "sugars" such as aspartame.

Hard line: I will not consume conventional dairy. Flexible line: Generally I consume no dairy at all, but I am open to trying small portions of unpasteurized organic dairy on rare occasion.

What are your hard lines?

What are your flexible lines?

I'm glad to be home again. I'm delighted to be working on the yard and to have so much space to be developing a garden. Photos will come sooner or later.

Thanks for reading.


~ Raederle Phoenix


  1. Welcome to your home! Glad to hear that you made it ok, with pleasant visits along the way.

    I _love_ that story about being ok with the one-off shrimp and fries. It's a great story, as it demonstrates that your diet is making your system stronger. When people tell stories about how they ate a piece of bread and were in agony for days as evidence that their diet is superior, it always strikes me that if anything, their diet is weakening them (especially if they used to eat bread (or whatever it is) just fine). Awesome.

    It's hard for me to say what my hard lines are, but trans fats and high fructose corn syrup are the most obvious ones. I also don't see myself eating meat or fish, or cheese or butter (probably the two foods I loathe most of all) but I've done well with raw eggs in the past, also raw goat milk, and in the right circumstances I wouldn't rule those out. I used to be a low-glycemic zealot, but since I'm feeling so much better after some months eating higher glycemic, I've let go of that attachment. I ate mostly fruit for years and felt good a lot of the time, so there you go...

    But my latest recipe creation (raw cheesecake but with cooked parnsip replacing the cashews) is exactly the kind of borderline that you're talking about that can be perplexing.

  2. Ela,

    Thank you for your kind thoughts. :D
    Cooked parsnip replacing cashews? Very interesting. Really raw cashews cost a fortune online, so I simply consider them out of the question for myself at this time.

    I've been wanting to make a cream pie out of mostly coconut, but the effort involved has been prohibitive since I have so many projects going on right now.

    The thought about eating one cooked meal, or non-vegan food and then feeling awful for days... I have read that before. Certain things always make me feel awful, no matter how little, how seldom -- refined sugars. But apparently the things that started up making me feel awful at sixteen -- bread, fried foods, etc, don't apply quite the same way.

    I do have to wonder though, why do some sensitivities increase, and others decrease? What does it mean if someone is raw for a year and then eats a cheeseburger and is sick for a week? It would be fascinating to learn the science behind it.


    Cooked parsnip may actually be healthier than raw cashews (or any nut in general) anyway. :D

    ~ Raederle

  3. is Stevia not good? why? i'd thought it was a good alternative (I'm raw vegan, but avoiding all carbs right now, even fruit)...

  4. Jennifer -- Stevia is undoubtedly better than corn syrup. I'm not really sure if it's any better than other sweeteners however. If you used the dried leaves with nothing at all else done to them, that would be fine. It's the process they put the leaves through to make syrup, crystals or powder that is the issue. When they do these things they strip out the balance of the plant. It's true that dehydrating (removing water) is also a process and dehydrated food in general should be limited, but it's not nearly the same sort of process as when they extract the pure sugar substance from a food (leaving all the nature-balanced nutrition behind.) It wouldn't matter what plant, fruit, vegetable, etc, they did this process on. Heirloom corn is a healthy food, but corn syrup is not a food at all. Beets are healthy and so it beet juice, but beet-sugar in crystal form is not healthy. You see where I'm going with this? If it's a syrup, powder or crystal-form sugar, it doesn't matter where it came from. It's just like the difference between white rice and brown rice. Brown rice is natural and balanced and despite being eaten cooked, it's a fairly healthy food. White rice, which has the shell removed is a concentrated form of carbs without any fiber and is very damaging to the body. Same thing with flour and wheat. Sprout some wheat berries and you have a very healthy food. Turn the wheat berries into flour and make bread and you have a very unhealthy food. I'm sure there is nothing wrong with the stevia plant itself. Hope that helps. ~ Raederle

  5. Great post. I do tend to become more flexible on roadtrips and such. It's just not worth the stress to me sometimes to have to be "perfect" in my dietary decisions. I think the fact that your diet has been so clean was the reason your body could handle those things. Stay true to what feels best and don't beat yourself up when you can't be 99.5%.


What brings you here? What are you thoughts? Do you consider yourself a raw foodist? Approximately how much of your diet is raw? Do you consider yourself healthy? What would you like to see more of on this blog? Will you be back? Is this too many questions?