• raw temptations and working lunches

    August 30, 2009

    I’m so used to working from home now that the idea of taking a “lunch hour” like regular folk fills me with both excitement and dread.  On the one hand it’s what I most look forward to; on the other I don’t have the luxury (and control) of my fridge and my Vita-Mix.  But I’ve been reporting to an office for the past two weeks, and it’s the first time since switching to a high-raw diet.

    Have I been high raw at the office?  Kinda sorta.  Here’s how it goes:

    -I start the day with a breakfast bowl packed with fruit (recipe to come).  That’s all raw.
    -I blend up a big green smoothie before I leave and put it into my Sigg bottle, then I down it the minute I settle into my desk and power up the PC (massive culture shock for a Mac user).

    So far, so raw.  This particular office has the added touch of fruit bowls in the kitchen, but the bananas are terribly unripe, and you know how I feel about that.  And crunching an apple in an open office space just doesn’t feel right.  So what do I do?  I’d love to tell you that I gamely scoop out the neglected tangerines in the bottom of the bowl.  Nope.  Not since I discovered that the vending machine stocks Green & Blacks 70% chocolate.  Someone in Human Resources is very smart.

    Yes, folks, that’s right, I’ve been having one of those 30g mini bars every day.  What’s this thing Natalia Rose says about having a square of dark chocolate?  Who the heck can have just a square?  Notice how she doesn’t specify what size such square should be.  The bar comes out of the vending machine cold, so I also got in the habit of setting it atop a mug of tea to warm it up.  Oh boy.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself, because between the green smoothie and the square(s) is lunch.  Except for when I have the chocolate in the morning, and that only happened once, when I had bought a large bar of dark chocolate from Marks & Spencer, ate half of it, and “hid” it under some papers for the following afternoon…

    Anyway, lunch.  Raw options in Farringdon where I’ve been working are not easy to come by, but I’ve found a few things that are pretty close:

    First up is Abokado, an airy little sushi place where, surprisingly, they had this salad box with falafel.  Nice and colorful, just how I like it.
    abokado

    Cute, eh?

    And then on Friday I headed over to Exmouth Market again to Spinach & Agushi, the Ghanaian stall.  I love, love this place.  Not only am I overcome by the smell of frying plantains – a frequent presence in my Cuban upbringing – but the staff are very warm, and the food is fantastic.  The menu is simple: pick a stew or two, and ask for it with the plantains or red rice.  I went for the rice with spinach  & agushi plus black-eyed bean stew. The agushi looks like ground beef but is actually made with crushed pomegranate seeds.  Everything is layered in a box and then topped with an optional “garnish” of shredded carrots:

    jollof

    Oh, wow, I could have this at any hour of the day.  Add “Ghanaian recipes” to my list of things to look up.

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  • an almost-sinful sweet offer

    May 28, 2009

    My friend Kim pointed out that my entry about snacking smart was a little too holy.  She also questioned the pecan pie-ness of a nut-stuffed date.

    What Kim didn’t know is that I already had this post up my sleeve, and that I sometimes have four nut-stuffed dates in a row.

    Sugary foods have always been a weakness for me, and I’m certain it comes from the days of discovering dulce de leche in my lunch box and Aunt Jemima syrup-drenched pancakes when I came home from school.  Since then, whenever I need some TLC my first instinct is to reach for the CCC (chocolate-chip cookies).  I had such a sweet tooth that I took my craving to the extreme and trained as a patisserie chef at Le Cordon Bleu.  Of course, I now use that knowledge to create sugar-free treats; and I’ll keep sharing the love in the recipes section.

    The temporary rush that comes from concentrated sugar sources is just that: temporary.  But the damage that can result from chronically elevated or highly fluctuating blood glucose isn’t.  And that’s precisely why I decided to make my first snacking post about keeping blood-sugar levels in check.  As I’ve mentioned before, we tend to go for sweets both out of habit and because our bodies are starved of nutrients despite a high consumption of food.  Refined sugar, in the end, doesn’t feed our bodies any more than it does our hearts.

    Green Appetite is about being as healthy and happy as we can while keeping it real.  And yes, sometimes (ok, often) we want something a little more jazzed up than fruit and nuts.  Thankfully, there’s no reason to give up one of my favorite temptations: chocolate.  But I’ve learned to enjoy it in a new form.  Cacao, or raw chocolate, is not only buzzing with anti-oxidants, but the sweet people who make it tend to sweeten it with agave – a natural nectar that’s low on the glycemic index.  Interestingly, agave comes from the same plant that tequila is made from.

    A couple of weeks ago, my dairy-free, sugar-free Dulce de Leche won recipe of the month at Crazy Sexy Life, Kris Carr’s very cool site all about total wellbeing.  Lucky me, a few days later I was greeted by a box all the way from North Carolina full of UliMana goodies as my prize.  It happened to coincide with the lead-up to the launch of this site, so it was perfect timing to get me through the last-minute crunch.  UliMana makes hard-to-believe-they’re-raw chocolate treats sweetened naturally with dates and agave.  I’m still eating their to-live-for Truffle Butter straight out of the tub.  Thanks again to UliMana and Crazy Sexy Life for making the launch a whole lot tastier.

    On this side of the pond, I bumped into a wonderful little company called Nibchoc after scouring the Real Food Festival in London for some raw chocolate.  I instantly became smitten by the ticklish texture and chocolatey explosion in these; I just wanted to keep nib-nibbling away.  And guess what?  Eloise at Nibchoc is offering you, hungry healthy reader, three Nibchoc bites in a variety of flavors FREE with your first online order.  Just pick your treats and be sure to enter “Green Appetite offer” in the comments box when you check out online.

    The great thing about raw chocolate is that it’s like super chocolate; the taste is so rich, you really only need a little bit.  Honest.

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