Two weeks ago, in an attempt to detox from a suboptimal diet, we began a strict 7 day raw food cleanse knowing full well that we'd be irritable, hungry, weak and likely symptomatic with headaches, dizziness and weakness. We knew we'd have to overcome it with persistence and discipline. And we did it! What's more surprising is that we are continuing with this detox program but attempting to make it seasonable, local and real world. The reason is this: we feel better, lighter, trimmer, our sleep is deeper and eating this way has forced us to enjoy and appreciate fruits and vegetables even beyond the level we reached from growing our food for the last 2 years. It has also forced a sense mindfulness and presence during eating because it has allowed the clear clean notes of the food to shine through unencumbered by extraneous fillers like sauces, bread and elaborate seasonings. In a nutshell, this was, for 1 week, a vegan, extremely low carbohydrate (but not carb-free) diet. After the first week we began adding animal meats back in and some more starches.
The Basic Principles:
1. Eat as much raw foods (cooked no higher than 112 degrees) with the larger meals at dinner.
2. Crucial combination of foods. This was the most difficult for us. Though I am very aware of how fermentation can occur with certain combination of food types (I've had several patients with digestive issues get dramatically better) it is VERY hard not to have protein with carbs. Eggs without bread? Meats without potatoes? Chicken without rice?
The food groups to keep apart for 3-4 hours: a)Animal meats, eggs, raw cheese and fish b)starches (rice, pasta, bread and cooked legumes) c) nuts/seeds/dried-fruits d) Fresh fruits. Non-starch vegetables may be combined with any of these.
This is based on how quickly food leaves the digestive track and I have seen patients experience less bloating and gas with food combining principles. The principle is that our digestive tracks were not designed to handle complex meals. Each food type has very specific enzymes produced by the body to breakdown those substances, for example, lipase is made to breakdown fat, lactose for milk sugars etc. Food combing is not new. Carlos Gracie, founder of the Brazilian Gracie Jiujitsu, has championed a food combining diet. He lived until the age of 92 and his diet and teachings still live on.
This is NOT a local food diet. In fact, I felt quite guilty about consuming a ton of tropical fruits like bananas, coconuts and grapes from chili, apples from New Zealand. The best I could do were berries from California although strawberries are just coming into season locally but hard to find organically grown. [FYI: Non-organic California strawberries should have a surgeon general's warning. In 2006, 280 lbs of pesticides (known carcinogenic ones included) were applied PER acre for a total of 9 million pounds]. What we did use locally from our farm was tons of siberian and tuscan kale, peas, sugar snap peas, yellow and green beans, lettuces, edible flowers, tons of herbs, collard greens, kohlrabi leaves, small fava beans, carrots, mustard greens, garlic scapes and celeriac stems.
As physicians who are already very conscious about nutrition and health, especially me, this took us to the next level and showed us that we really had a great deficit in fruits and vegetables in our diet. I love fruits but I do not go out of my way to obtain it because of seasonality issues, organic availability and shelf life. Now, I can't stock enough fruit in my house but better yet, our plans for an edible permaculture forest garden will provide us with paw paws (great local substitute for bananas), strawberries, raspberries, black and blue berries, currants, gooseberries, and sweet cherries. There are also plans to install a mini-orchard with apples and stone fruits next year.
So, we continue our quest for optimal eating and growing with a celebratory LOCAL cooked meal with all HMG produce and lamb chops from McEnroe's farm in Millerton NY. Tonight's menu:
Elixir of Fresh Peas
Herb Salad with purslane, celeriac and parsley leaves, basil and lettuces
Grilled Lamb chops with oregano and lemon
ELIXIR OF FRESH PEAS
1 bunch scallions or 2 small leeks including 2" of the greens, thinly sliced
5 large parsley stems with leaves
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 1/2 lbs of fresh pod peas, shelled and reserve the pods for the stock
1 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion or young leek
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
truffle oil, garnish with fresh chervil and chive blossoms
1. Bring 1 qt of water to boil. As it's heating, add scallions, parsley and 1/2 tsp salt. Add about 3 cups of the pea pods. Once water boils, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes then strain.
2. Melt butter in a soup pot and add the sliced young leek/onion. Cook over medium heat for a minute then add 1/2 cup of the stock. After 4-5 minutes add the peas, 1/2 tsp salt and optional sugar. Pour in 2.5 cups of the stock and bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes
3. Transfer soup to a blender or processor. Puree. Serve immediately in small soup bowls, adding a few drops of truffle oil to each bowl, chervil and chive blossoms as garnish
Recipe adaped from Deborah Madison, Local Flavors