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Santa’s either on raw foods or crack…

Sorry to break with tradition kids, but Santa comes earlier and earlier every year (that’s what happens when you get old), and I opened my presents already!

Here’s what she got me. Oh yeah, I forgot, Santa’s a she:

Black & Decker Power Pro Wide Mouth Food Processor

This thing is the bomb.

I did creamy pesto (combined my raw mayo which is cashews and olive oil and lemon and vinegar with loads of fresh basil, some rawmesan, and more oil) in it last night already.

You’ve probably heard me bitch about how hard raw food prep is with only a blender.  Blenders ARE NOT food processors.  The way all your stuff keeps getting stuck in the bottom…maddening.

This babies not only got a wide mouth–she’s also got a big ol bottom.  And it has other cool attachments like graters and flour mixers and all that.  Plus because it’s a Black & Decker I feel like a real man when I use it.

I AM STOKED!

Spatula Spoon Things

A 3 pack of really cool spatulas that are each shaped differently and that also act as squeegees for scraping all that good pesto outta the food processor.

These things are brilliant!

It feels super crummy to waste food stuck on the side of a blender…get these!

More Counter Space

We have no damn counter space!  I love to cook (or for the past few months “prep”) food and it is so frustrating to never have space to work.  So Santa, or Annie, let’s just call her Sannie; remembered the trick we did in our minuscule NYC apartments and got me a honking huge cutting board that fits perfectly over half the stove top.

Instant counter top extension.  Now I can stack supplies there and cut and prep next to it on one of my smaller cutting boards!

Shooting Ear Muffs

With a name like Putin, you wear them however you like. Hear he makes a mean smoothie too.

You don’t actually shoot ear muffs, you wear them.  And even though we don’t own a gun, we do look like FBI agents now whenever we blend.  The ones I got for Christmas are genuine “Winchester” ear muffs.

Don’t laugh.  Our blender is LOUD LOUD.  And it’s going all the time.

I get home from the bar and I’m making smoothies sometimes at 2AM.

Then when I’m trying to sleep at 6AM it sounds like SAW IV when Sannie’s in the kitchen making her huge green cacoa concoction before yoga. I finally get up around noon I’m back at the blender making my “I Am What I Am” drink.

So we now wear gun protection when we blend.  And my ears are thanking me already.  Plus it’s fun to put them on and talk.  You can’t really hear yourself.

Off to the SF Bay area soon for a chilly Christmas week.  Can’t wait to hit up Cafe Gratitude for some raw gourmet…

The Inside of the Berkeley Cafe Grat Location

And my eight weeks of being 100% raw will be over…so I’m also looking forward to eating at our favorite family owned Mexican restaurant in Concord–Las Montanas!

Bring on the beans n rice, handmade corn tortillas, grilled onions n peppers, and salsa roja!

What will I being eating after my 60 days raw challenge is over?

I have some cool ideas about that and will share them shortly!

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60 day raw food log: Day 45–Six weeks ago I was depressed and weighed 254 lbs. Today…

Today…the local newspaper is interviewing me about my raw foods “transformation!”

Read All About It! Crazy Guy Eats Only Raw Fruit & Veggies!!!

It may sound terribly cliche, but SO much has happened in just 1 1/2 months!  Enough apparently, to get the attention of others.

I lost 2 more pounds this past week eating only “raw foods.”  That means in only 6 weeks I’ve lost 26 lbs! But weight loss has really been the least significant change for me in all of this…

If you are new to my blog, go back to late October’s entries and you won’t have to read between the lines to find loads of anger and despair.  I was numbed out 90% of the time, and flat out angry the other 10% of the time.

Depression and Diet

Numbed out is just another way to say depressed.  How could I have NOT been considering what I was putting into my body?

I was:

  • Flooding my system with depressants (over 100 alcoholic beverages a week).
  • Trying to get back “up” with stimulants (coffee, sugar and other “white” foods) that spike you harder than a hot beach volleyball star.
  • Mucking up the works with bad fats made even worse by cooking with them.
  • Eating polluted grain-fed (and who knows what else) animal products filled with hormones, antibiotics and fear.
  • Rarely eating fruits or vegetables (like almost never), and when I did; eating nutritionally deficient, pesticide ridden, genetically modified produce.
  • Putting all of that “food” into a sedentary (nearly lifeless) body.

Looking back now, after such a rapid improvement in my sense of well-being, I have to ask myself, how much of that depression was completely physical and self-induced versus “emotional?”

Having grown up in a family comprised mostly of fat depressed souls, I also can’t help but truly wonder how many of their “emotional” problems would have been solved by just changing our families diet to a healthier one?

Would we have had a completely different childhood/home-life if we had just eaten different foods?

Comfort Foods and The Mirror

Of course the problem with a whole family, or even one person, making that kind of shift is this…when we’re depressed we want even more crap food to (here comes the irony) make ourselves feel “better.”  It’s called comfort food for Fuck’s sake!

I remember night after night of trying to comfort myself into a frickin coma with pepperoni pizzas and cartons of Ben & Jerry’s.  I also remember how uncomfortable I felt in my own body and how angry I’d feel looking at the “fat Elvis” version of myself in the mirror.

How ridiculous it really is to grow to nearly twice your size!  How out of control that feels!  How strange it is to be fat, even if it is quickly becoming the norm here in the U.S.

Just as bizzare and sad is getting to a place where its a burden just to be an active human being.  To see walking as a necessary evil that you engage in only when after circling the Walmart parking lot ten times you are forced to park more than 10 feet from your destination…

Real Food feels Real Good

So I don’t know where my life is going to go from here.  No one ever knows that.  I don’t know for sure if I will feel this elated two weeks from today.  I certainly don’t want to sound like I am preaching or proffering some kind of deluded salvation strategy (I don’t actually believe we need saving). But I do know that changing what and how I eat is changing me.

In very little time I look much younger, feel like early sexy Elvis more than pills washed down with liquor Elvis, and am no longer in self inflicted coma land…

Six weeks ago I could barely get out of bed to go to work at 5pm!  I was resigned to being broke and basically being unhappy with my life. Now I am having trouble sleeping because I have so much stuff that interests me hitting me all at once…

Yesterday I crashed a UC screenwriting lecture, and am beyond excited about getting back to work on some scripts I started before, as well as a new one I’m dying to outline and get started on.

I now spend a lot of time communicating with all kinds of people about food through Twitter and this blog.  I’d never blogged before, and had no idea how fun it can be or how much time it can take.

I have a growing reading list of both fiction and food-related stuff.  Business ideas that flashed across my previously drug addled brain are once again clamoring for my creative attention.

And, I have this interview with the paper I have to get to…


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60 day raw food log: Day 39 I’m all out of balance & can’t figure out how to get grounded eating raw!

I think someone put too much Yang in my smoothie.  Or maybe it’s Yin… I can never remember which is which.

Anyway I have way too much of the crazy untethered in the stratosphere floating through electric fields kind.  And while having a lot of energy is a nice change–I certainly don’t want to go back to that numbed world I was living in just 5 weeks ago–what I am experiencing is unnerving and does NOT feel balanced.

Every other day I don’t go to bed.  I almost never want to eat–I’m just not hungry.  When I do eat anything other than fresh succulent fruit; I regret it and wish I had fruit.  It’s like there is nothing in my stomach to “buffer” anything more substantial than fruit and it’s juiciness.

My nut consumption is going way down.  I don’t want salads or cabbage.  And when I do try to make a new gourmet raw food recipe I’m usually disappointed.  Why?  What happened to all the fun I was having in the kitchen?  I’ve always enjoyed traditional cooking, and was getting off on experimenting w/ raw menu items.

Let me be real about where I’m at after this past week experiencing truly manic levels of unfocused energy.  I can’t wait for this 60 days I committed to to be over!  I want lentils.  I want potatoes.  I want some grounding ,requires digestion, so you can rest medicine.

Maybe 100% raw is just TOO much?

TO be fair I want to quickly point out two semi-related issues that I know are contributing to the insomnia and my feeling off-kilter…

1.  I started blogging & tweeting at exactly the same time I started my 60 day raw “challenge.”  I thought it would be cool to share the experience with anyone interested.  I didn’t know I would be throwing myself into a new universe whose steep learning curve and addictive nature are it’s price of entry.  I also didn’t know that it would be a place with large stretches of haunting emptiness and occasional noxious gas clouds back lit by glaring red stars…

2.  I need a more intense physical outlet.  Now that I’m lighter and feel so much better I’m doing myself a huge disservice by not rigorously exercising every day.

Deepak Chopra (Who I don’t follow on Twitter because he tweets way too much) has this thing he talks about which has stuck with me for years…it goes something like this…

DYNAMIC ACTIVITY = DEEP REST

DEEP REST = DYNAMIC ACTIVITY

That’s something I am sorely missing.  So understand I’m not blaming this on raw foods, but for me right now it’s all related. I thought riding my bike more, taking a hike on the weekend, and occasionally dropping and doing some push-ups would cover it.  It’s not enough for my fruit filled dragster body.

So here’s my plan to try and be in possession of my sanity and other faculties at the end of the next 3 weeks:

1. More Greens & Water. You will read this in almost every raw food context you can find, and I think I can do better with both…

2. Set a cut off time for Twitter and Blogging. Like no Twitter or blogs after midnight.  I need to pop in a DVD and be entertained or read one of the countless books piled high in my “READ!” stack.

3. Breathe! Seriously how often do we forget to breathe?  I can get so hooked into cyberspace that I forget to drink water and I’ll sit there bouncing around in my chair because I need to piss so bad!  That’s also why I’m taking advantage of this gorgeous Palm Springs day and blogging outside by the pool…

4. Start back to Bikram Yoga. It’s been almost two years.  It’s time.  Not only is this the “dynamic activity” I’m missing in my life–it also will really help me with #3–BIG BREATHS!

Yup. That's a Jesus Pose...

That said, I’m still looking forward to reintegrating some healthy cooked foods (sorry hard-core raw foodists, I know you think “healthy cooked food” is an oxymoron) back into my life.

I’ve been promising a post about some ideas I have for the long-term.  That post will come soon, just let me get my finger out of the electric socket first!


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60 day raw food log: day 16 Weighing the cost of a raw food diet…is it worth it?

Most people are concerned about money right now.

I am in need of an IV drip connected to a money bag myself.  The place where I bartend is only scheduling me for 3-4 shifts a week, and like many restaurants, is struggling.

So one part of determining if raw food eating is “worth” it is the dollars spent. I’ll do my best to give a dollars & cents breakdown on what eating this way is costing me and how it compares to when I ate a “normal” American diet.

Another price to pay for eating raw is taking an honest look at the things you give up to do so.  Pizza delivery and cheap beer.  Pitchers of mojitos to wash down some gourmet Cuban cuisine.  Street food (especially TACO TRUCKS!)  BBQ joints…did I mention Taco Trucks?

CIMG3610

I knew my moto was back in Cali when I came across this taco truck on a cold night just south of the border. The Oregon border!

Finally, anytime you examine somethings true cost you have to figure out just what the hell you’re getting out of it.  AKA…what are the benefits?

So is it worth it? I’m no expert and I can’t answer this (or any other question) for you.  But let you inside my abnormally large head and show you exactly how I feel at this juncture about the costs of eating raw…

Today (part 1) will focus on the monetary cost.  Tomorrow (part 2) will look at the cost of giving up things you love and are used to…like taco trucks.  And in (part 3) I’ll wrap it up with a snazzy cost/benefits analysis (sorry no charts or Excel spreadsheets) that attempts to explore the sometimes measurable, sometimes intangible benefits of a raw food life.

Part One

IS EATING RAW MORE EXPENSIVE THAN COOKED?

First few times you walk over to the raw “section” at the health food store (you know you’ve become a radical marginal member of society when you are shopping in a specialized section of a specialty store) two things will probably jump to your attention…

My first thought was “This is a really tiny section.  Not really a section actually, more like an end-cap.”

My second thought was, “Holy shit!  $14 for peanut butter!?”

Bulk Items

To make matters worse, a lot of the things you “need” to get started are bulk items. These types of items will probably last you a month, but they require payment in full today.

As an example, I bought a big bottle of spirulina for $43.  Two weeks later I’m only halfway through it.  But when I

swamp2

Spirulina bringing someone else back from the dead...

was standing there in the store trying to imagine how bad something that grows on top of a swamp might taste, and ruminating on the sad fact that lately I don’t even make $43 some nights, well lets just say it wasn’t easy to hand over the green required to buy the green. (Spirulinas really more blue-green).

My conclusion? These items aren’t in actuality expensive and can actually make raw eating more economical in some instances. At $1.4o per serving, roughly the price of a Coke, instead of corn syrup, chemicals, and an ingredient list that reads more like toilet bowl cleaner than beverage; you get the most concentrated bio-available protein on the planet.

So, score one for the spirulina and other bulk raw items you might want like cacao nibs, hemp oil, and raw honey.

Pre-packaged stuff VS. Produce

When you are new and trying to “adjust” to raw  for the first time you will naturally gravitate to the expensive pre-packaged raw items because they sorta look like what you think foods supposed to look like.

realhomerI stood there having a Homer Simpson style conversation with myself that went something like this… “Ahhhh…crackers!  I know what crackers are! This is a peculiarly small little bag with only 6 crackers in it…not exactly a Costco size box of Wheat Thins…but it says here…sun-dried tomato crackers…mmm…sounds yummy…and they are only…let me just turn this little package over and find the price….$9!  WTF!”

I bought them anyways.  Because I was scared of not having what I refer to as “food-food.”  And you know what allows you to psychologically pay NINE BUCKS for SIX CRACKERS?  The little sticker on the package that says “raw.”  And do you know what those crackers taste like, I’ll give you a hint…it’s a 4 letter word…start’s with an “S”…and it’s not sun dried tomatoes!

I’ve been reading a lot of other raw foodists blogs and watching their You Tube channels and tweeting with them and I’m starting to get the feeling that the longer one eats raw, the more likely they are to do almost all of their shopping at a Farmer’s Market, or in a good organic produce section.

My conclusion? Go ahead and buy the pre-packaged stuff.  Try it.  See what you like and what you don’t.  Soon you will save the dehydrated breads and little $4 baggies of superfood trail mix for when you need the convenience or the comfort.  Spend the bulk of your dough on fruits & veggies that are pound for pound, yes even at organic prices, the best value for your food dollar.

11/14 UPDATE!  Went to Farmer’s Market today and loaded up on fresh veggies/greens/and fruit.  I even bought a big jar of raw wildflower honey.  Grand Total = $40  Because I’m 100% raw I also got “free” breakfast out of the deal just walking around enjoying all the samples being handed out.  When I came home I took everything out and put it on the table so I could see what all I bought.  I had to take a picture…amazing isn’t it?  The honey will last a couple weeks and I’m sharing this with my girlfriend, so the real cost to me for the week I estimate to be closer to$25!!!

DSCN1435

How Much Are You NOT Spending?check-into-booze

This is really fair question to ask, and the one that pushed me over the edge on the money issue.  Do this little exercise yourself, and be brutally honest about it.

I added up what I spent each week on:

  • Coffee. Up to 2 weeks ago I was spending over $6 per day at Starbucks.
  • Booze. I’m talking drinks out (w/ tips), drinks in, wine, beer, all of it! For me drinking on the cheap was still costing  me over $70 per week. And that’s with a job where I can have a drink or two for free.
  • Cooked food groceries. I love to cook.  Shop pretty smart at Trader Joe’s.  My share of weekly groceries is about $40 per week.
  • Eating out. Make sure you include any fast food, lunches out, frozen yogurts, movie popcorn, brunch, all that!  I had really cut back lately.  In the past my girlfriend and I would grab sushi or Mexican food at least 3x per week. But due to lack of work and recently moving, I’m gonna say I was spending about $25 per week eating out.
  • Cigarettes. I don’t smoke cigarettes, so this wasn’t an issue with me.  But if you do smoke, we’re talking big bucks here, and you ARE going to stop smoking if you go 100% raw.  Maybe not immediately, but soon.
  • Other drugs including prescriptions. In one way or another, to quote Weezer, “We are ALL on drugs.”  I like to party, and think recreational substances have their place. But for arguments sake assume you won’t be spending money on that after you get hooked up to nature’s crack–raw food.  Also include most (not all, like I don’t think eating raw is going to do anything in the contraceptive department) pharmaceuticals.  Especially meds for cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, acid reflux (my GERD is 100% GONE), etc.

So for me…about $200 per week.  What’s your total?

So that’s $200 per week that I can apply to eating 100% raw food, drinking fresh-squeezed vibrant juices, and even eating out every so often in a little raw cafe or gourmet raw eatery.  $200 is A LOT of vegetables and fruit.

Another aspect of how much it really costs to eat raw vegan organic foods that I hadn’t thought of until I read Derek Markham’s blog today…is all the money not spent at the Doctors office.  In his case he acknowledges that as a father he chooses to spend a large portion of his families income on fresh organic food.  Derek says, “Our kids deserve the best fuel for their minds and bodies, and eating this way is our ‘health insurance’.” That blew me away.

What I’m NOT suggesting is that you cancel your health insurance (if you have health insurance) and count that as potential savings if you go raw.  But imagine the money you, your family, and the country would save by having less sick days, co-pays, depression, and chronic illness…

My conclusion? Money should have nothing to do with whether or not someone chooses to go raw.  If anything, I am spending a little less money each week to give my body an abundance of nutrients and delicious food.

Tune in tomorrow if you want to read about some of my misgivings about going (and staying raw long-term), as well as a candid lament about things I’m not sure I can live without (or want to).