• 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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  • that’s a lotta quinoa

    August 21, 2009

    You’ve gotta love London.

    I’m working on the east side of town this week and headed over to Exmouth Market in Farringdon during lunch.  Friday is stall day, and you can always find all sorts of ethnic cuisine, including Ghanaian, Jewish, Mexican, Spanish, Indian — you name it.  Today I happened upon this darling little stall called Keenwah, which is of course how you pronounce quinoa.

    keenwah1

    A pseudo-grain, quinoa is really a seed, and it has a high protein content.  You can cook quinoa like rice or sprout it.  You’ll find it packaged or in the bulk bins of your health-food store.

    I was overwhelmed by the choice at Keenwah.  All the options were veggie, and all but two were vegan.  I asked the vendor how much of it was raw, and he pointed out that he blanched some of the veggies to make them a bit more tender.

    I’m often stumped about what to do with quinoa, but this stall was bursting with colors and ideas.  It occured to me that the draw of this place wasn’t the quinoa at all but being able to have it in all sorts of guises at the same time.

    keenwah2

    I got a medium bowl packed with about five different kinds plus olives and sunflower seeds, and I ate ever last morsel.  I can’t imagine doing that with only one recipe.  This was like the Baskin Robbins of quinoa!  I’d love to duplicate this at home, but I honestly can’t imagine myself making mutliple kinds of quinoa salad.  Maybe I’d do it once.  So, to Keenwah it is.

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  • tapping into london

    July 11, 2009

    My friend Angela, a chiropractor, asked a very good question in response to my post about the ban on bottled water in the Australian town Bundanoon.  Is it safe to drink from the tap in London?  The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), which regulates public water supplies in England and Wales, says yes.

    Now, I spent a year-and-a-half rowing on the Thames, and I can tell you it totally put me off drinking tap water.  The media is quite quick in issuing warnings against drinking from the tap during floods, but I still put all my water through a Brita filter.

    However, I was pleased to read that the DWI advises against using water from the hot tap as it may contain high levels of copper.  I’ve known this for some time and am glad to see transparency on their part.  Even if you are boiling it, get your water out of the cold tap.

    What about when you’re at a restaurant?  Should you be asking for tap water?  Some sources say that water interferes with digestion; others contend it’s perfectly fine to drink and dine.  I personally find that if I’m fully hydrated there is no need for water at all during meals.  Except for the occasional wine with dinner, I like to have a fresh juice as a first course when I’m dining out – remember it takes 20-30 minutes for fruit to digest.  And the way to make sure you’re fully hydrated is to enjoy lots of fresh, whole, water-rich fruit and veggies.  The only time I ever feel the need to gulp down a glass of water is upon awakening and after vigorous exercise.

    This topic is specifically important in the context of the UK, since it’s no secret we have another drinking problem here – the kind that flows from an altogether different kind of tap.  Alcohol, as we know, is dehydrating, and the problem is compounded with the concept of “eating is cheating”.  Of course, the only thing you end up cheating during binge drinking is your body.

    The latest “Know Your Limits” campaign (below), which I’m sure was a blast for the ad boys to make, doesn’t really tell me what I should be doing instead of alcohol.  I’d love to whip out my advertising skills and do a really visual campaign about getting drunk on fruit.  That brings me back to the Green Appetite motto: it’s not about what you can’t have, but about the joy that comes from choosing to have what your body really wants.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uym6fcrSda8

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