August 3, 2009

Return to Radventures

I think I have made it abundantly clear that I'm totally in love with the farmer's market right now. It's exploding with colorful, tasty produce, making it a playground for a girl on a Radventure. Check out today's haul:

Kale, lettuce, green beans, corn, yellow zucchini, green pepper, plus a non-market lemon. I also picked up a little tub of blackberries, but those never made it home! Wink. ;)

But what's a Radventure? Those of you who've been reading a while will remember the day back in early June when I coined the term as regards my approach to a new way of eating and taking care of my body. Just to refresh, however, I shall quote the current expert on Radventures: me.

In order to be well informed regarding my dietary choices, I feel the need to explore all sides of the topic. I enjoyed this post on Oh She Glows today, which posed the very question, "Is raw food really better for you?" Angela cited various sources of research, the common factor being that certain foods are indeed better for you when consumed raw, while others are more beneficial after cooking. This is a great way to get confused, but what I take from it is that a mixture of raw and cooked foods is likely a solid and healthy compromise, and most importantly, the option that would keep me from feeling overwhelmed, at least to start with. In fact, I think it's safe to start with this notable quotable from Michael Pollan, which I'm sure you have come across before: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

That said, no one's diet is perfect, and yes, food is nutrition and fuel, but it is also a cultural source of enjoyment. Ultimately, my way of eating has to keep me both healthy and happy, so in the spirit of adventure, I've decided to embark on what I'll call Radventures. The R stands for raw, because that is the eating style that is currently most foreign to me and therefore peaking my interest, but whatever it is I try doesn't have to be raw to qualify as a Radventure. Anything I can do to clean up my eating habits, no matter how miniscule, is rad, after all.

I wrote that precisely two months ago, and since then my brain has all but rewired itself toward a plant-based diet and an elimination of as many chemicals from my daily life as possible. This is very pleasing to me! I'm also in the middle of The Omnivore's Dilemma, and while it's not the lightest reading, it has proved an invaluable lesson in the value of whole foods, where they come from and how they are grown. Grown, not assembled.

In the past two months, I've committed myself to buying organic at worst, organic and local at best. The less distance our food travels from farm to table the better, for both our nutrition and for the environment.

Meanwhile, I have also been systematically eliminating the less-ideal items from my kitchen during what I've called the Great Kitchen Purge. Such items include processed foods (sorry, Vitatops!), cereal, Diet Coke, frozen get the idea. I've never been a particularly unhealthy eater (I do have a food blog, after all!), but I'm really challenging myself to take care of me the best way I can. The catch is that the aforementioned system involves eliminating such food items by consumption (so as to save money), and while I'm far from feeling ill, I can honestly report more breakouts and a few extra pounds around my middle.

I would never go so far as to promote such a dietary overhaul to anyone reading this; I only want to make changes so that my body is as well as it can be while loving what I'm eating. That last bit is key. You can read my full list of reasons for being jazzed about the idea here. Having always been a major veggie lover, this is mostly just great fun for me--new recipes to try, new recipes to invent, Beam Green meetings to attend, and a few new choice kitchen appliances!

I've finally reached a point in the Great Kitchen Purge where I'm so low on groceries that I'm making trips to the farmer's market just about as often as it comes to Union Square (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). When I saw a bunch of kale nearly as big as me this morning, I figured it was time to try Gena's famous Massaged Kale Salad. If it's such a staple in her diet, it can't be half bad, right?

And of course, it's amazing. Not that I expect anything less from the Gena-face by now. Plus it was an excuse to play with my food. You have not lived until you've squooshed avocado through your fingers, I'm telling you!

I spooned up about half of the salad alongside some leftover salmon and couscous. As often happens with greens, my eyes were far bigger than my stomach, and what looked like a reasonable one-serving quantity in my salad-spinner bowl immediately became an insurmountable meal when placed next to my leftovers. Oh well, double the fun when I get to eat the kale leftovers!

There has been other recent activity in Radventure-land, you know. Plenty of juice, for one thing. Store-bought, even! Below is One Lucky Duck's "Hot Pink" juice (beet, pineapple, pear, ginger).

Once you've bought enough produce to make your own juice at home, suddenly $4-$6 for someone else to do it for you (whenever you want it) doesn't seem like such a high price to pay! The organic produce for the first juice I made with my new Breville amounted to nearly $4, so I'm not going to sweat the convenience factor one little bit if I need me a fresh juice during a long day at work.

Getting rid of all the Clif- and Luna-type bars has also been a key factor in the Great Kitchen Purge, but when VeggieGirl pointed out Wild Bars to me when I ran into her at Whole Foods last week, I decided to give them a try.

They're made of pretty much every trendy superfood there is, raw and organic--you name the benefit and I'm sure a Wild Bar will fulfill it for you. At $4.99 a pop, they're pretty much prohibitively expensive, but damn tasty, I have to say. The Mayan Spice flavor was dense and chocolatey, but a bit spicey as well. I can't quite place the texture--certainly not chewy, but not crunchy, either. Almost like a dehydrated chocolate bar...I'm not sure...VeggieGirl, help me out! At Whole Foods, she identified an organic body wash as having the scent of Chuckles candy, so I'm sure she can place the Wild Bar against an appropriate comparison. Come to think of it, she did mention that the Mountain Mint flavor was just like Girl Scout Thin Mints! I am looking forward to that one, for sure. :D

I think I've gone on long enough for a Monday night, and if you've read all this, props and snaps to you--concisitivityness is not one of my qualities. That's the update, though! This week's project is bringing raw lunches to work every day, so stay tuned for a bit of desk feasting. Tomorrow's lunch incorporates everything you saw in that first picture, so you can bet it'll be a good one! I'm already drooling. Time to end this post so I can clean up the keyboard.


VeggieGirl said...

Can't go wrong with a Gena recipe!! The salad looks wonderful.

Haha yes, as you can see, I always have wild comparisons for things :-D

I'd say that the Wild Bars have an overall smooth, velvety texture, with the occasional "road bump" from the nuts.

Sarah (LovIN My Tummy) said...

I'm super stoked about your Radventures because every day is a Radventure for me. I have never massaged kale before, but I have a ripe 'cado, some organic greens and itchy fingers. Come to mama.

Anonymous said...

Smooshing avocado is defintely a sensory experience :)
Your progress these past two months has been awesome to watch!

melissa said...

wow, amazing post. i definitely identify with many of your issues. good luck on your continuing adventures!

lesley said...

That kale salad looks fabulous!!!

ttfn300 said...

i need to go smoosh some avocado :) and i can't wait to hear more about your radventures! i don't know what i'll eventually end up doing (i still have some things to purge:)), but i like expanding my horizons to encorporate all sorts of good stuff!

Anonymous said...

So, what exactly are you going to do with all of those vitatops? I'd be happy to take them off your hands for you!

fitforfree said...

love the "Radventure" term . . . I've been trying to eat more "Fresh" :-) Sometimes redefining something is all you need to make it more accessible . . .

ashley (sweetandnatural) said...

I've had the coconut chai! I got dinner at Bonobo's with Gena a few weeks ago, and of course could not leave without trying it. SO GOOD!

brandi said...

the juice is such a beautiful color! i love the idea of your food adventures :) and that massaged salad is definitely something I need to try.

Lainie said...

I just discovered your site and I absolutely love it! And I'm also completely, 100%, head-over-heels in LOVE with the farmers market ;)

Gena (Choosing Raw) said...

What a great post! Momma, you know that I love your totally balanced, open, and conscientious approach to what you eat -- raw and not raw.

and I am so stoked that you loved the salad! It is my fave. Three heads of kale weekly, I tell you.

elise said...

i need to massage lettuce and avo. now. sounds fun (and tasty?)...haha

veggie girl has the uncanny ability to place the most bizarre flavors. her seaweed salad at pure tasted JUST like ruffles sour cream and onion chips.

i love the radventures idea. im always in the fridge cleaning phase, but them kyle goes shopping one weekend while im at work, and a whole new supply of tempting crapola. im gonna send you my digits so maybe one day when im getting off work and feeling too lazy to cook dinner, i can call you and we can meet up at one lucky duck. pink juice!!!

Missy said...

Your kale looks great! I just bought some last night so maybe I should attempt this! I just found 2 places right near my work that make organic juice so I plan to try some new concoctions this week as well.

RunToFinish said...

i also just came across boomi and prana bars which are raw and very tasty

I still haven't tried gena's recipe but I really need to

Anonymous said...

I'm in love with the Farmer's Market too!

HangryPants said...

I am sorry because I feel like I should know this, but do you live with your boyfriend? I think you have a different female roommate, right?

I love your enthusiasim and focus. I actually really admire it. I would say, "I wish I could do it," but that sounds lame because I know if I tried hard enough I could. The hardest part for me re: the crappy stiff is having some things around that Mark enjoys, ya know? That's why I asked about whether you live with your boyfriend because I would love advice on that part.

Averie said...

I recently started reading your blog and I just joined as a follower too, yay. Anyway I enjoyed your post about local, organic, and seasonal. A great benefit to life in San Diego has been all of those 3....contrast that with growing up in MN where the growing season was about 18 days and if you wanted to eat something else, you had to truck it in.

Also on the 5 dollar a piece granola bar thingey. Holy moley! That's what I spend all day to feed myself and my toddler. Who can afford that as a snack?!

And I love your Radventures musings, too. Thought-provoking.