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Keeping it Real: Not a religion and not about rules

Posted By Sarma Melngailis On February 9, 2009 @ 2:00 am In GreenChef Foodie Talk | No Comments

I am sitting in the restaurant Pure Food and Wine, (my home), at my favorite corner table, very late, yet still early enough that it’s full of people, energy, and loud music (for which we are often given a hard time, but is just all part of the fun). The very fact that these LOUD and rowdy groups are here, and very likely, I am guessing, not vegetarian/vegans, in fact warms the cockles of my heart. How far this “crazy” idea of raw food has come, and yet how far there is still to go…

Given that it’s still January (though with the balmy weather in NYC you’d never guess), I’m going to leverage the New Year’s theme for one more post… as I’ve been hearing so much still about resolutions (mostly broken ones!). I don’t like to make resolutions, because I’m one of those people that sees a rule and wants to break it. If I see boundaries I want to cross them. People ask about my ‘diet’ all the time… “Oh… you’re not allowed to eat this, are you?”… my stubborn response, at least in my head, is always… I can eat whatever I want… I just don’t want to eat that big plate of crispy fries with sweet ketchup. I swear.

I always remember how I felt, shortly after going raw, when I sat in a midtown restaurant across from a friend who ordered filet mignon (I went straight from carnivore to raw vegan, no inbetween). My friend, from my Wall Street days past, ate the entire juicy filet, all the fries on his plate, and left behind the ten or so peas that were the only thing around remotely qualifying as vegetable. At the time, I happened to have just begun my first and only gallstone-cleanse… (again, more on that later – I should really keep a tally of all the things on which I’m supposed to one day soon elaborate). All I had was a glass of water. After he ordered, I was preparing myself for a good twenty minutes or so of torture. My concern was that I would not hear a word of his side of our conversation, as I’d be silently obsessing over what was on his plate – my eyes following fork from plate to mouth back to plate, the way your cat does, if you have one.

I had not eaten anything all day except some horrid tasting oxymag evilness and cider vinegar concoction (that I will never consume again). Now I was on water. But very oddly I was not even remotely wanting what he was eating, and it didn’t bother me to sit there, and in fact, I forgot about it as we talked and talked. And after we left, I felt so good. Relieved, and almost empowered. So when people ask me what I can and cannot eat, I can nicely convey that I can eat whatever I want, I just don’t want to eat that. I’m not following any rules. It’s not a religion. There’s no prescriptions. No percentages. I am not among the raw food heads who proudly announces, “I’m 97.5% raw!”… Who’s counting? And who cares? Get over yourself. It’s a gift just to have this awareness, and feel so great as a result.

What’s my point? Just that this is not difficult, and does not feel like deprivation, as many people assume it would. What do I really crave? Foods such as fresh greens, pineapple, avocado… like never before. It was promised that I’d share recipes, so here is my less than graceful segue into offering up a recipe (with avocado in it, and not already existing in the book). And SORRY… I’m not going to put exact quantities. There is no editor to force me into what is not necessary for many recipes, particularly salads. If I wrote, “8 ounces of greens”… is ANYone going to pull out a scale and weigh them? I really hope not.

So here you are:

Fill a bowl with fresh greens… my preference would be lighter greens, like lolla rossa and red oak, or butter lettuces, mixed greens, whatever. Cut limes and squeeze the juice over the lettuce. Pour some Macadamia Oil over it (possibly my favorite ingredient of all time), sprinkle with a little bit of Himalayan Crystal Salt (or sea salt) and toss it up. Taste it and see if it has the right balance of nutty oil, citrus and salt and tweak by adding more of whichever is lacking, though keep in mind that you’re about to add dulse, if you want it, which can be very salty by itself. Add a handful of Hemp Seeds. Tear up a handful of dulse (be sure to check for those pesky little shells) and throw that in. Cut a lovely ripe avocado into large dice and add that. Then, grab some Rosemary Crackers and break them into pieces over the salad, and toss the whole thing once more. I realize most people don’t have Rosemary Crackers lying around the cupboard, but we carry them here at our Juice Bar, and they can be ordered through One Lucky Duck, and you can find them at many Whole Foods and other stores in and around New York City, but otherwise, as a substitute you can add some chopped dehydrated almonds and a wee sprinkle of minced fresh rosemary.

Or if you’re really lazy, you can just run over to our juice bar and order the “S&M salad”, so named because I used to make it for our own personal consumption (don’t ask… but we’ll probably be renaming it soon anyhow). And now that I’m finally wrapping this up, and it’s REALLY late, the good news is, we’re still inhabited by rowdy guests, even though it’s way past my bedtime and the music is blasting in my ears, as I’m just under the speaker. Good music, a glass of my favorite wine, great food and happy staff and guests… this is why I call this place my home.


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