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60 day raw food log: day 23 the raw food & vegan scene is bumping in Santa Monica!

Hung out today by the beach in Santa Monica and Venice Beach.  Gorgeous sunset, great people watching…and that’s all to be expected from this place…although it’s not every day you are sitting in a cool raw food restaurant where Harvey Keitel’s getting takeout!

I only have time for a super fast update since I am staying with a friend and minus my laptop.  But let me say this…the raw food scene is insane here!  When I get back to Palm Springs I will give a full report on the delicious stuff I ate here and the cool people I met.

It’s a crying shame I can’t stay longer and check out some of the other raw eateries…but I have a girlfriend with Midnight movie tickets for New Moon and, oh yeah *&^%$ work!

What I ate today:

  • a big juicy pineapple (yup, a whole pineapple)
  • tangerines
  • carrot/apple/orange juice
  • LARA bar
  • drank the juice out of a coconut
  • watermelon juice (JUICE PLACES EVERYWHERE HERE! COULDN’T RESIST!
  • Sampled some raw ice cream
  • A big messy raw burger called a “BIG MATT”
  • Sun dried durian dipped in chocolate
  • tangerines

Start planning your raw vacation to Santa Monica!  You’re gonna wish your bags were already packed after you read about what I found here.  Good thing I only live 2 hrs away! Good night. Details coming soon…

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60 day raw food log: day 17 Weighing the cost of a raw food diet…is it worth it? (Part 2)

Yesterdays blog (part 1) looked at the misconception that eating “raw” has to be expensive.  It really doesn’t.

Today (part 2) I share what I think is a much bigger price to pay than money when it comes to the raw foods life…

Tomorrow (part 3) I’m going to look at the innumerable benefits of eating raw and try to do a simple Pro’s & Con’s analysis to see if eating raw feels worth it to me.

Part 2

IS GOING RAW WORTH IT EVEN THOUGH I HAVE TO GIVE UP SO MUCH?

Coffee

I love coffee.  The aroma. The acidity. The buzzzzz. And I especially crave the taste.  Black tar washing down my gullet.

I know coffee isn’t great for me.  Sure every so often there’s a report about it having antioxidants as long as we drink it in moderation…come on…let’s be big boys & girls and admit it…we like coffee because it’s a drug.  An upper extraordinaire.

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This morning I woke up feeling like shit.  Warmed over death.  I had almost all juice yesterday and it’s kicking the cleansing back into high gear for me.  Now normally, a quick $3 exchange with my dealer in the green apron would instantly change how I felt. LITERALLY.

Yeah-yeah there would be an energy spike and a corresponding drop..blah blah blah…that’s what a second cup of coffee is for.  And I like most people ENJOY the coffee roller coaster.  Especially because the ride right next to it in the park is the Booze Cruise. booze-cruise

So let me bottom line how I feel about coffee despite the fact that I am better hydrated and overall better off without it.  I miss the nervous creative highs & lows I experienced with coffee.

Alcohol

If coffee is creative than alcohol is fun. Right?  We’ve ALL had fun drinking.  And we’ve all cursed Jack, Jim, and Jose for ever being born.

66 A Shirt Full of BoozeIt’s tough to imagine the world without alcohol.  The liquid hazy realm is where we all become stuff of legends…”Dude!  I got SO trashed!  I woke up in a planter in front of a bank!” and “WTF Lara, don’t you remember peeing on the McDonald’s sign last night

in front of like one million people driving down Wilshire?”

Good times.

I’ve been bartending for about three years.  I’m not the kind of bartender who throws bottles in the air.  I’m not particularly fast.  I’m the kind of bartender that gets to know you and makes you a perfect drink every time.

I love beer & liquor (slowly coming around on wine with the help of Chilean malbecs ), my love of bourbon and tequila drives me to constantly learn and craft each cocktail.

You know how they say that what people choose to drink says a lot about them.  It’s true.  It’s a fascinating thing and what’s really cool is that it changes both seasonally and slowly over time as someones personality shifts.

For example, when I lived in the cold SF bay area all my drinking revolved around bourbon and dark seasonal ales makers-mark-cocktail-shaker-1from NorCal on up through the Oregon coast (My all time fave was Lagunitas’ Lucky 13 Mondo Red).  The cocktail I liked to treat myself to was a stiff Maker’s Manhattan.

When I moved to Palm Springs I became obsessed with drinking Hefeweizens during the hot summer days and with meals.  My desert tonic of choice?  The simplest Tanqueray gimlet:  3 oz of Tanqueray, the juice squeezed from half a lime, and ice go into the shaker.  Shake the HELL out of it and strain it UP into a chilled cocktail glass or over fresh ice in a clear plastic Dixie cup if I was taking out to the pool…

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If I seem like I’m rambling a little, that’s because I am.

I want to convey that I really like and miss these things.  I can’t sit here and type some BS lie like, “Oh…I don’t really miss any of that.”  Because I do.

Food

Now obviously, I don’t have to give up food.  I eat as much of it as I want.  As long as it’s fruit, vegetables, nuts…

I’m talking about pizza, steak, hamburgers, mashed potatoes, lasagna, burritos, sushi, cornbread, bacon, chili-cheese fries, artisan goat cheese, nachos, sourdough melts, street tacos, BBQ, potato salad, tamales, Vegas buffets, spanakopita, cubano sandwiches, breakfast potatoes, garlic bread, chips & salsa, pad thai, samosas, baingan bharta, and anything made or topped with copious amounts of sweet roasted garlic…

Making that list this early in my attempt at 60 days raw (and maybe as a way of life) is both a little sadistic and masochistic…but you knew I’d eventually have to get some S&M into a blog called Live Nude Food. Click here for a little amateur food porn I downloaded on a day last week when my food cravings were worse than normal. Go ahead and click it. You know you want to.

So right now you’re probably thinking “WTF!?”.  Me too.

I’ve run out of the time needed to delve into the social ramifications of being a raw food weirdo (that IS what people think).  Suffice it to say that if you think eating a diet that is contrary in every last respect to what the rest of your family, your friends, and the country eats…carries zero consequences; your crazier than Tom Cruise.

Yeah, you can get all new friends (maybe you need to anyways).  You can carry baggies of cacao to the movies and thank the big dipper that raw eateries are coming soon to a corner near you.  But it’s not gonna be all fun, and it sure as hell isn’t easy.  So why claim that it is?

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You can see why I say this is the real cost of going raw.  And it’s one I’m still weighing out myself.  It’s good that I’ve made the decision to commit to 60 days 100% raw NO MATTER WHAT.  If I was trying to ask these same questions over and over every day, it would be a disaster for me.  In the meantime my health and overall feeling about life have drastically improved in just two weeks.  That’s frickin impressive on any level.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Tomorrow I’ll try and articulate what’s so incredible about the raw foods experience, and I’ll ask myself how it stacks up to the booze cruise…

What I ate today:

  • Carrot/Orange/Apple juice
  • Half a Pineapple/Green Powder/Honey/Coconut Oil “Colada”
  • My new chocolate hemp Cocoa Puffs shake
  • The other half of the pineapple…

Notes: Felt full all day.  So much buzzy energy I almost don’t feel grounded.  Went for a long walk at dusk along a dried out river bed. I’m updating this at 4:45 in the morning and haven’t gone to sleep yet…


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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?

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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

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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!!!

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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).


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60 day raw food log: day 15 This is really working! Lost 13 lbs in only 2 weeks!

So I’m now 241 lbs. I may post before & after pics soon, or I might just do it at the 30 days milestone?  My face looks way thinner already and I feel much lighter in general. And that’s with virtually NO…

EXERCISE:

So far. I am feeling the urge to get back to Bikram yoga.

When I do my quick little bike commute to the restaurant where I tend bar, I remember how amazing it was when I used to go on long mountain bike rides on the Central Coast of California or take a spring Sunday to ride from Brooklyn into the city and lazily circumnavigate Manhattan (the reward was always a stop @ the Whole Food’s at Columbus Circle for picnic supplies to be gorged on in Central Park followed closely by a nap on the grass).

FOOD CRAVINGS:

I still battle with intermittent yet powerful cooked food cravings.  Last night I was dying every time I took a pizza or garlic bread to a customer…

But you know what?  I feel tremendous. And how crazy is it to lose so much weight, so healthily, and so fast?  Thirteen pounds in just two weeks!?!


THIS IS NOT A DIET:

I really need to drive home an important point for anyone reading this wondering if they are capable of going raw–I AM NOT STARVING MYSELF.  I AM NOT EVEN DIETING. Seriously.  I eat as much and as often as I want.

Eating raw is qualitative not quantitative. That’s a funny expression I coined so that I would sound like I really know what I’m talking about.  It just means that eating and thinking this way (raw), has ZIP to do with dieting. Zero calorie watching.  Zero hesitation if you want seconds or thirds. Your free to focus instead only on what you are eating.

FREE TO THINK & CREATE:

And you know what? After the initial misery while cleansing (for me it was terrible headaches and anger), and after the evangelical weird high most new raw-fooders go through where they get sorta preachy & annoying (while still being extremely lovable by virtue of their infectious radiant charisma) , you are all freed-up to think and plan and enjoy exploring areas of life other than food.

For me that’s been learning what a blog (noun) is, and how to blog (verb).

I also dug up the grave that some screenplays I started but never finished were buried in. I had to re-introduce myself to a dormant creative ghost who shared in secret with me (don’t worry ghosts don’t read blogs, they read blaaahhhgggs) that it still wants to be fueled by alcohol and occasional cocaine parties.

But that would be a different kind of blog…

What I ate so far today:

  • Watermelon Juice from Nature’s Cafe (they are on Twitter now!)sweet livin walnuts
  • “Sweet Livin’ Walnuts” from Aimee’salso bought these at Nature’s Cafe. Sweet & salty…sorta like almond praline meets cinnamon toast crunch cereal? For me the Stevia leaves an aftertaste…that’s my one complaint..I really prefer raw honey as a sweetener.
  • Big Salad w/ avocado, sprouts, tomato, kalamatas, olive oil, lemon juice…
  • My first self-prepared “gourmet” raw meal: I made cashew “mayonnaise” in the blender, bought a surprisingly good raw dehydrated rye “bread”, and topped it with a thick layer of the mayo, olives, and half an avo, so that I had this ridiculously flavorful open faced sandwich that had deli overtures.
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sorry the pic is fuzzy, the sandwich moved!


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60 days raw food log:day 12 Eating Raw Can Be Confusing.

What happened to the simple raw food concepts I was introduced to a couple years back when I was first exposed to live foods?

It was so simple.  Listen to David Wolfe jump up and down raving about what a natural high raw foods were and treat myself to gourmet raw food at Cafe Gratitude on the weekend while during the week relishing abundance and enjoying two avocados a day…

Now I keep hearing new terms like “high raw” which sometimes seems to simply refer to trying to eat a higher percentage of raw foods daily and at other times some kind of designation for those who do raw to the highest greenest extremes? Then there are people (Doctors) throwing around optimal macro percentages to eat like 80/10/10…

I thought all that stuff was for the regular dieting masses who want to get in the “zone” and who are plagued by the evils of cooked foods? When I eat raw, I feel like I naturally & rapidly notice anything I’m not doing right and change it.  Why have such distinct rules?  Why not focus on just eating raw? (I really want to know.  These aren’t rhetorical questions.  So if you have comments please share them with me!!!)

As an example.  I don’t feel like I’m eating enough succulent watery fruits & veggies. I need to find a good farmers market and do more of my shopping there.  But to worry about whether I just poured 1 tbs or was it 2 tbs of cold-processed hemp oil onto my salad?  Seriously?

I want to research and write more about this.  I also want to get better about making this blog a resource for the best recipes I come across.  Soon I will be adding a Raw Restaurant Review tab & a Recipes tab.  For today, check out these awesome pics and recipes for raw comfort foods I found on a blog that I’m not sure is current, but there are these really decadent recipes in the archives including “mayo” and “mashed potatoes & turkey.” Just in time for Thanksgiving!

mashed potaoes and turkey raw

Raw Thanksgiving

What I ate today:

  • Double portion of watermelon juice
  • Raw pistachios
  • RAW bar
  • Apple
  • Spinach Salad w/ olives, avocado, olive oil, lemon & black pepper w/ rawmesan.