Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Practically Raw in Winter
Hey baby, it’s (still) cold outside! Here in Western Massachusetts, late February marks the beginning of the end of the iciest two months of the year. For me, by this point in time the cold has seeped so far down into my bones it’s hard to really, truly warm up. Often, the only way to dispel the deep chill is to submerge myself in a hot bath or hop on the mini-tramp for a vigorous rebounding session. These methods both work wonders, provided the timing is right. When it isn’t, there’s always soup.
Everybody knows a steaming bowl of hot, savory soup is quintessential warming winter fare…especially when garlic and onions are involved. In fact, the idea of going without basic warming foods like soup has dampened many an earnest health seeker’s desire to consider giving the raw food detox lifestyle a try.
This is why it’s so important to understand that “being raw” is not the goal of cleansing! The goal is to enjoy the highest states of physical health and alert, energized awareness. Such states can only be achieved when we cleanse and nourish the body with the highest quality, high vibration foods.
Eating heavy, dense foods (animal flesh, cooked beans, nuts, etc.) requires a lot of work, sometimes for several days, on the part of the entire digestive system – from gut to liver to colon. This work slows us down, interferes with the natural flow of energy in our bodies and creates waste that must be eliminated or stored. Conversely, eating light, water-rich plant foods cause no such interference, supports the release of old stored waste from body cells and tissues and enables us to vibrate at our naturally high energetic level.
In other words, a cleansing diet based on fresh, whole raw foods can help us to clear out the food waste and toxins stored in cells and tissues over a lifetime, opening up our bio-electric channels to the free flow of life force energy. Raw foods are critical in this pursuit, but for most of us, especially those new to cleansing, it is equally important to consume high quality cooked foods.
When too many toxins are released into the system due to the overzealous consumption of raw foods, the body can become overwhelmed with poisons. Without giving the body sufficient time and opportunity to eliminate these wastes from the organism, “cleansing” can turn into “autointoxication” and become counterproductive.
Eating cooked vegetables (and fruits) helps to slow down the cleansing stimulated by raw foods without adding to the overall body burden. This allows the eliminative pathways to remove the wastes that are released into the bloodstream as a result of dietary cleansing.
Remember, the cleanest and most detox-stimulating foods are raw fruits, raw veggies and their freshly pressed juices. The next cleanest foods are whole, simply cooked vegetables – prepared by steaming, braising or baking. Rather than a stimulating effect, simply cooked vegetables have a somewhat neutral effect on the body. They pass through the digestive tract quickly and leave no waste behind, providing comfort, satisfaction and nourishment while allowing the body to attend to other needs such as assimilation, repair and elimination of wastes.
When it comes to a long-term cleansing lifestyle, clean food is more important than raw food. With this in mind, let’s talk about warming winter fare. Humans would not have ventured into cold climates without the accompaniment of fire and cooking. Today we live in heated homes with refrigerators and have grocery systems that allow us to enjoy fresh raw food year-round. But that doesn’t mean we want to eat nothing but cold salads all winter, nor should we force ourselves to do so.
If you love soup in winter, take heart! Get comfortable with being practically raw and you can have your soup and eat it too.
Practically Raw Miso Soup
This quick and flexible recipe can be made with whatever you have on hand for veggies. Because the vegetables are added to hot broth and essentially warmed through rather than cooked for any length of time (hence Practically Raw), their high nutrient and enzyme content is maintained. Just be sure to slice everything thinly so that veggies will warm through enough to soften when added to the hot broth.
NOTE: One of my favorite hobbies is to visit Asian food markets and pick up unusual (to me) ingredients: jars of curry pastes and seasonings, packages of seaweeds, fresh young coconuts and other exotic items. On one such visit I was fortunate to find a Thai seasoning called “Instant Seafoods Clear Soup Paste.” This secret ingredient contains chili, lemon grass, lemon juice, shallot, sweet basil leaves, sugar, salt and citric acid and adds a complex and intriguing taste to any soup – no seafood required!
Makes 2 gigantic or 4 average sized bowls of delicious, savory soup.
½ large onion, diced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
½ package of baby bella (or other) mushrooms, chopped
1 medium zucchini, spiralized into noodles
½ red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ inch ginger, peeled and grated (optional)
1 Tablespoon miso (barley is nice)
1 teaspoon powdered vegetable broth
1 teaspoon “Instant Seafoods Clear Soup Paste” (optional)
black pepper or cayenne pepper to taste, if more hotness desired
Simmer onion in 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes. While the onion is simmering, prepare vegetables and set aside in a large bowl. (It’s a good idea to start with room temperature veggies if possible, since this is meant to be a warming meal from the prep to the eating.) If you don’t have a spiral slicer for the zucchini, you can use a vegetable peeler to make fettuccini-like strands or simply slice into long thin strips.
Once veggies are chopped and broth is done simmering, remove pan from heat. In a small dish, make a paste with miso, “Instant Seafoods Clear Soup Paste” (if using) and a little warm broth. Add paste back into pot of broth along with bouillon powder and stir to combine. To this seasoned broth, add all the sliced veggies and pepper if using. Stir to mix and allow to sit for a minute or two while veggies warm up and absorb flavors of broth. Taste, adjust seasonings if needed, ladle soup into bowls and enjoy!