My not so raw Winter

by Bart on March 19, 2010

Nothing quite says “sit down in front of your computer and update your blog” like a sunny 70F degree day. Especially after a long and snowy Winter. :-)

When I posted my last entry on this blog, more than 3 months ago, I had just finished a 50 day period of eating mostly raw vegan diet, including a 30 day 100% raw trial that was very successful. However, heading into the Winter time, I decided to adjust my diet to be only about 50% raw.

First of all, I’ve always had trouble staying warm enough when it’s cold out. Doing so without hot meals seemed nearly impossible. But more importantly, the cost, quality and availability of organic produce, fruit and greens, here in the Northeast, was likely to be an issue.

At first I was able to maintain a large amount of raw foods in my diet, but over time that amount decreased to about 20%. There were two reasons for it:

1. Gourmet meals

A lot of my raw meals during the trial were made by a raw food chef, who sells his creations through local health food stores. But at one point, I was no longer able to eat them. They still tasted good, but I was just not in a mood for them, so to speak.

This was very similar to what had happened to me when I first began eating a vegan diet. For many months, actually more like two years, I would try all kinds of pre-made vegan sandwiches: grilled tempeh, fake tuna or chicken salad, hummus, mushroom burger, and many others. But one day, quite suddenly, they all seemed… over-seasoned. I still have them once in a blue moon, but I would not be able to have them daily for lunch, like I used to.

So, after trying a few more gourmet raw meals, I stopped buying them. These raw tacos were pretty decent, but I never bought them again after trying them once.

Raw tacos

2. Time

I’ve never spent much time preparing my meals, and eating raw requires that you do. You may disagree, but that’s probably because our definition of “much time” is different. Unless I really feel like it, or I am trying something new, if it takes me more than 5-10 minutes to prepare a meal, including washing/peeling and cleaning up afterwards, it’s a chore :-)

During my 30 day trial practically every meal was an experiment, so I really enjoyed making them. I’ve also put other personal projects on hold to free up some time, and I had my pre-made gourmet meals for when I needed to have something on the table in 15 seconds.

Once that period passed, I started to make the same few raw meals myself, and on top of that I was not enjoying the pre-made meals any more. So, I found myself reaching for that symbolic frozen Amy’s burrito more often than I’d care to admit.

So, am I giving up on eating raw?

Not, at all.

But I think I will take a different approach going forward, and focus on replacing as many of my cooked meals with quick raw alternatives as possible. Here’s what I have in mind:

1. Green Smoothies

I have continued to drink these few times a week throughout the winter. Thanks to the Vitamix and the pre-packaged and pre-washed greens, it takes me less than 10 minutes to make one and clean up. And since these smoothies replace entire meals, they are definitely worth making.

2. Raw soups

Raw soups are very similar to smoothies, but use different ingredients. I had tried making a few raw soups before and during my 30 day trial, but always ended up disappointed. But now I know why – starchy veggies do not work in raw soups. At least not for me.

So far, I made two kinds of raw soups. One that I like – a raw tomato soup. And one that I love – a raw spinach avocado soup.

Spinach and avocado raw soup

This soup is made as follows:

  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 apple, cored, peeled (I prefer sweet ones, like Red Delicious)
  • 1 slice lemon, peeled, seeded
  • pinch of salt

Process the above in a blender, then add

  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted

And process again until smooth, adding extra water if needed. For me, 1 cup is usually enough, giving the soup a very smooth texture.

Like a green smoothie, raw soup can easily replace a small meal.

3. Vegetable juices

I was toying with an idea of getting a quality juicer, but decided against it. One, it takes much more time to make a juice than it takes to make a smoothie. And two, over three year period, the cost of a juicer, organic veggies and my time, assuming juicing twice a week, is about the same as buying freshly made juice at the local health food store’s juice bar. And I am already there twice a week. I just have to remember to always get a juice to go :-)

4. Fruit

With warmer months coming, I am going to try to eat much more fruit than I had been eating before my raw trial. Fruit takes no time to “make”, and it’s good for you.

Although, I admit, there are only so many apples I can eat in a day, and that number is around 1.

Then again, simple meals using fruit can be improvised:

Banana and cinnamon mash

These two bananas, mashed with a fork, and with cinnamon added can be as satisfying as a bowl of oatmeal. As long as I am not feeling cold, that is.

5. Salad dressings

I like greens, but I get bored eating salads too often. Probably because I almost never use salad dressings.

Many years ago, I purchased a book by Joanne Stepaniak, called The Saucy Vegetarian. This book contains a few dozen very simple dressing and sauce recipes, that are not only vegan, but often raw. Some use non-raw ingredients, but to make them you just combine and shake – no cooking is involved.

This book has been sitting mostly unused on my shelf, because I usually do not have things like apple cider vinegar, cashew butter, or sweet white miso on hand.

I need to find few dressing recipes that appeal to me, buy the ingredients, and try them out. :-)

6. Fats, nuts and seeds

I’m going to try limiting my fats from non-raw or processed sources. I am already pretty good about doing this, but I’d like to increase my nut intake, especially of the more beneficial nuts like walnuts. Perhaps there is a walnut dressing recipe in that book :-)

7. Sugars

I love my few cups of green or white tea every day, so stevia has been my best friend. It probably is not raw, as it’s definitely processed, but it’s a better choice than any form of table sugar.

I still have sugars in non-raw vegan desserts, but I’ve already limited those. I think having more fruit will allow me to limit cravings for vegan cakes even more.

8. Vegetables

This is the part I have not yet figured out. Other than having vegetable juices, and perhaps snacking on carrots, I cannot think of an easy, tasty, and quick way to enjoy raw veggies (not counting greens). Ideas would be appreciated :-)

So that is my plan for the foreseeable future. Rather than trying to reach a specific percentage of raw foods in my diet, I am simply going to get as much of fresh and quick raw foods into my normal vegan diet as I can using the above list. And if I win a lottery and can afford to hire a butler… I’ll go mostly raw then. :-)

However, before I begin, or rather continue this process… it’s almost time to “detoxify”. But that will have to wait until tomorrow’s post. :-)

No related posts.


Rachel August 13, 2010 at 2:26 am


thought you might be interested in this salad dressing. a total favourite, incredibly delicious.

Juliano’s House Dressing

1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/3 cup garlic
2 T ginger
1-2T tamari (depending how much salt you like)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

blend until it emulsifies, creamy and smooth, like a mayo.
serves 4.
keeps about 5 days in the fridge.

you’ll prob want to adjust the ginger, garlic, tamari levels to make it as salty, spicy as you like.

Bart August 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Thanks. I’ll have to try it. :-)


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