- Many of my readers and students are not vegetarian, but are interested in improving their diet. What advice would you give them to "get their feet wet" with raw food?
I always tell people to keep it simple when they start out. Smoothies and easy desserts are a good start. Everyone loves a smoothie and they make a great meal replacement. Try substituting your usual breakfast for a big green smoothie for a week or two and see how amazing you can feel. Most people report more energy and less cravings not to mention a smaller waist size. Another way to dip your toe into raw foods is making some raw desserts. I often call my raw fudge brownies the raw gateway drug. They taste so outrageously good and make you feel so happy, people are more open to trying other raw foods. Plus, raw desserts use natural alternative sweeteners and are rich and dense that you don’t need much to feel satisfied.
- You are a vibrant, beautiful, healthy woman. In your book, you mentioned that this was not always the case. Can you tell us what your secret sin foods were before going raw and how you felt after you ate them?
Before I was raw, I ate a high protein, low carb diet called the Atkins diet (pre-Paleo diet fad). Because I couldn’t eat any sugar or junky foods on this diet, I would every so often fall off the wagon and go on carb binges. My kryptonite was cake. It didn’t even have to be good cake. It could be supermarket sheet cake for all I cared. I’d always feel terrible afterwards, from the guilt and blood sugar crash. Now that I eat a more balanced diet that includes some carbs and healthy sweets, I don’t binge anymore. I know I can have a decadent raw dessert, made with all natural ingredients any time I want. Just knowing I can have it makes me not want it all the time. It’s when I’m put on restriction that I go crazy. I’m so glad I don’t live that way anymore.
-Many people suffer from degenerative diseases. You mentioned that you suffered from arthritis before going raw. How long did it take for you to see improvement in your health issues once you started the raw diet?
It happened really quickly actually. I went 100% raw June 1st, 2007 and in 30 days I was already down 15 lbs. It was crazy how my body just purged the excess fat and waste. The stiffness in my hands was gone, my energy was through the roof even though I had quit coffee completely, and my moods were bordering on elation. I’ve always struggled with low grade depression, so it was amazing to be free of that. If anyone wants to do a reboot, I say do at least 21 days completely raw to see and feel the transformation. It’s so worth it and you don’t have to do it forever. I just didn’t go back to the Atkins diet afterwards because it would have been a step backwards in my health journey. You don’t have to stick to 100% raw forever. Once you reach your health goals, find what amount maintains your new level of optimum health.
-What is your favorite recipe from Going Raw? Raw and Simple?
My favorite from Going Raw is the tacos. That ground veggie “meat” is so good that sometimes I’ll just make a batch of that and eat it on its own. It’s a great recipe for someone who is missing meat because the texture and density is very similar and quite satisfying and filling. From Raw & Simple, I love the chili. It has cacao powder, tamarind paste, and 5 different peppers so the flavor is multi-dimensional and quite interesting. I make it all the time at home and I’m still impressed with myself for coming up with it!
-There are many misconceptions about eating raw. Many people feel it is may be too much work and would require a lot of special equipment. What do you think about those concerns?
When I started out eating all raw, I didn’t have a dehydrator or a Vitamix or anything fancy. I had a $40 Oster blender/food processor to make things in and I managed just fine. I kept it simple and when I wanted something fancy I went to a raw restaurant. Now Whole Foods and other health food stores carry kale chips, raw crackers, raw wraps, raw meals, etc. so it’s easier than ever. For beginners, Raw & Simple is a great place to start because all the recipes are quick and don’t require a lot of exotic ingredients or dehydration. When you’re ready to try some advanced raw meals like pizza, samosas and scones, then pick up Going Raw. Only 25% of the recipes require dehydration, so even if you never get a dehydrator there’s lots of other fun recipes in there to try.
-What cookbook authors or chefs inspire you?
My favorite raw chefs and authors are Matthew Kenney from M.AK.E. restaurant in Santa Monica (and founder of Pure Food & Wine) and Cherie Soria from Living Light Culinary Institute where I became a raw chef. Both are so innovative and inspiring and create the most flavorful raw dishes. Raw Food Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melingailis is a must have for any raw food chef. My favorite go-to books when I want cooked vegan food is Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson and The Vegan Table by Collen Patrick-Goudreau. My favorite food porn cookbooks are Seasons by Donna Hay and Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I’ve never made anything from them but I could stare at the photos all day long.
-Sometimes it is challenging when going to social functions or out on the town when you eat vegan or raw. Most menus include a lot of animal products and certainly cooked foods. What advice can you give to the readers about handling those situations?
After 6 years of being in the raw food world, I think it’s more important to have a fun social life and preserve your relationship with your friends and family than to become Debbie Downer at the dinner table and every function you go to. Seriously, you will no longer be invited anywhere if you get too dogmatic about your diet. I eat pristine at home, but when I go out or travel, I stay flexible with the options I have. If I know I’m going somewhere that doesn’t offer healthy foods, I’ll just eat before I go and have something light and harmless to nibble on when I’m out. At potlucks, I bring food I like to eat. Everything else, I just go with the flow and have fun. Life is too short to get your panties in a wad about your diet.
-What is next for you? Will you be writing another book soon?
I’ve taken the past year off from book writing and have been focusing on different projects. I’m launching a new website with my husband called www.cityandseatrading.com which is a unique health and home boutique. It will feature my favorite health products as well as apparel and art. We’re just starting out but we’ll have recipes, videos, health articles and interviews up on the blog shortly. We’re designing our own t-shirts and will have our own line of superfoods and other products next year. I’ve had a lot of recipe ideas brewing, so I may write another book by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!
Thank you, Judita, for taking time out of your busy schedule and for giving us so much great information. It has truly been a pleasure!!
Make sure to come back tomorrow when I review Raw and Simple - oh yes and there will be another giveaway for that book!
Now for the moment you have all been waiting for! The winner of Going Raw is...#10 Zoe talkin! Please contact me at vegintraining at g mail dot com with your shipping info! Congratulations!