• 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.

    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:


    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.


    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.


    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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