Thank you all for your lovely responses to the low-sugar desserts! I had no idea that they would generate such enthusiastic feedback, but I’m so glad they did. I hope you’ll all experiment with them and report back!
Today’s question of the week comes from one of my favorite vegan bloggers: Ms. Bianca of Vegan Crunk. If you haven’t checked out Bianca’s blog, do: it’s a winning combination of southern comfort food (veganized, of course), sassy writing, and an obvious passion for culinary arts.
Best of all, Bianca has begun a fabulous tradition on her blog: on the first Tuesday of each month, she eats all raw. I’ve admired Bianca’s delectable creations on these “Raw Food Tuesdays” for a while now, so I’m delighted to have her as a reader!
Bianca emailed me last week with a great question. She asked:
I do monthly raw food days on the first Tuesday of each month. It’s partly a cleanse and exercise in self-discipline, but mostly it’s my excuse to experiment with raw recipes. Since I drink coffee every morning on every other day of the month, I have a hard time shaking that habit on raw day. By mid-morning, I’m usually falling asleep at my desk.
So recently, I’ve started drinking hot tea on raw days in place of coffee, and I find that helps me stay alert. I have no desire to give up coffee in my regular diet (that will be pried from cold dead hands), so do you think it’s okay to sub tea on raw days? I know it’s not really raw, but it’s healthy, right?
The short answer? Absolutely. But Bianca isn’t the first reader to ask me about coffee or tea. So let’s discuss this a bit, starting with a piece of advice for all you rawcurious eaters out there:
I cannot stress enough that the surrendering of ancillary habits (coffee drinking, tea drinking, gum chewing, social drinking) should not be your main focus as you start to eat more raw.
Don’t get me wrong: I applaud your efforts to give up (if indeed you’re trying to give up) coffee, booze, or any other less-than-perfect inclination. Truly! But if you’re serious about eating raw, then you need to focus on the fundamentals of transition first: eating more raw foods, dark leafy greens, and juices, and eating less processed foods and animal products. This is a significant project in its own right, and it will most likely demand plenty of energy and discipline for a while—along with sudden appreciation for all of the wonderful foods that a raw diet has to offer, naturally
If you’re intent on weaning yourself off of caffeine, tackle it either before or after you’ve gotten comfortable with raw foods. There’s no point in undertaking the two challenges at once: these are battles best fought independently. You won’t undo the benefits of raw food if you’re still sipping coffee in the morning, so relax. Wait until you’ve mastered the fundamentals. And then unleash your battle plan against the Starbucks logo!
But let’s get back to Bianca’s real question: Is tea OK? Is it healthy? Does it fit in with a raw lifestyle?
Again, the answer is yes. I choose not to drink green tea (or any caffeinated tea) on a regular basis, because all caffeinated products are acidifying: in my own value system, their acidity outweighs their potential benefits (yes, even in spite of all you’ve been hearing about the antioxidants in green tea). But I won’t deny that there are antioxidants in green tea, or that it’s a great alternative to coffee. So you should feel free to consume it for as long as you need/want to.
Herbal tea, meanwhile, is absolutely fine. Many raw foodists drink plenty of it. I drink herbal tea all winter long (and often in the summer, too). My favorite is the Yogi brand—especially the ginger variety! It’s warming and energizing, and I vastly prefer it to coffee, now that I’ve gotten used to it. I’m also a big fan of Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice flavor (as you may have guessed, I’m a sucker for cinnamon).
Hope this answers your question, Bianca! And remember, everyone: little vices should not be your focus as you transition into raw foods. Get a handle on eating more alkalizing, plant-based foods first: let your admirable attempts to break other habits come later.
Keep the questions coming!
In other news:
My friend Allison sent me this wonderful email recently:
“Choosing Raw inspired me to buy a proper Tupperware set that includes smaller containers for salad dressing. Finally, I will stop wasting money on deli salads and yucky midtown lunches. I owe you a smoothie for that!”
This email warmed my heart, and it got me thinking: how many of you might be making great raw lunches at home or at the office? And wouldn’t it be nice to share them?
No, this isn’t a formal challenge (like Leng’s magnificent salad challenge). But it is an invitation for you to start emailing me pictures or recipes of the innovative raw meals you’re making on your own—or for you to simply send me a picture of your lunchtime salad! It’s making me so happy to hear that you are experimenting in your kitchens and eating more raw foods, so please share. I’ll post a photo on the blog and give some laudatory words about your masterpieces.
Speaking of masterpieces, guess what arrived at my office last week? A dehydrator!! The very kind people at Excalibur have answered my prayers! I don’t have my camera with me to take a photo of it, but here’s what it will look like after I’ve ripped open the packaging:
As many of you know from my “How to Get Started” tab, I don’t consider dehydrators essential to those who are just getting started on raw foods. My own approach to eating raw, as you’ve no doubt realized by now, is simple, and I practice what I preach: preparing raw foods should require no more time or kitchen gear than preparing regular fare. Salads, soups, wraps, and nut pates are the fundamentals.
That said, it’s a huge treat to be able to expand one’s raw repertoire to include delicious raw breads and crackers, scrumptious desserts, gently warmed and marinated vegetables, and even such complex creations as raw quiches! And that is precisely what a dehydrator is for. It’s an ideal tool for those of your who really want to replicate the staples of a conventional diet in 100% raw form (if you’d rather make raw bread than buy Ezekiel, for instance) and those of you who like to go nuts in the kitchen.
I can’t wait to begin experimenting and showing you what I create, and I am so grateful to Excalibur for this tremendous gift.
Of course, getting it out of my office and up the stairs to my walk up apartment will be another story.
Have a great Wednesday, all!