This title of this month's column doesn't appear to have much to do with acting. Actually, that's because it doesn't. But then again, for those of us past the "glam twenties look-good-no-matter-how-badly-you-abuse-your-body" age, health becomes a pretty big issue, perhaps for actors even more so than many people in other careers - after all, looking our best in front of the camera is not a bad game plan (although of course there are plenty of roles around where we may find ourselves looking bad on purpose, but never minding that, haha!). I know a lot of people who read this won't agree with me at all that raw diet is the healthiest diet, but it's my hope that for those of you who scoff you will still find this entertaining. (smile) Freedom of food choice is a very important one. I just want to share a little bit about my choice.
Anyhow, I got a big scare this spring. What happened was nothing all that big and hardly worth mentioning, but the important part was that I realized just how important it is that I do something to get - and stay - healthy, if I want to do all the things I hope to do in life for many years to come and feel good at the same time. Besides that, I would really like to be able to work until the day I leave this world. Really not interested in wasting away in some nursing home or even a plush place having others take care of me. I want to live to be the old, old, old woman in some movie, you know what I mean?!
I've done it before and "fell off the wagon" and went back to the unhealthy foods. Being a large-sized person was the hardest for me psychologically. It took me a long time to learn to love and accept myself at any size - and to realize that just the gift of this human body is cause for celebration. Not only that, who I am inside - and not what I look like - is the important thing. I just needed to work on it before I learned how to feel it! Now that I have finally, for the past number of years, learned how to accept my large size, it's time to let go of that - for health - but I am ever so glad that I first learned not to judge or criticize myself for my size. How we treat ourselves has everything to do with how we treat others. Raw diet is not just a weight loss diet for me, and that's not even the reason I got back on it. For me, it's my health and energy level that is the big issue. I feel so much better on raw diet it's amazing. If anyone wants to read up about it on the net, one raw foods discussion group I participate in is at http://www.living-foods.com. We have all kinds of discussions in the bulletin board section. (My nickname there is TexasPear, by the way - say hi if you come by!)
For this month's column I just wanted to briefly share my new lifestyle - that of eating a (mostly vegan) vegetarian raw food diet. Woody Harrelson, by the way, is a big proponent of raw diet. He turned on Roxanne Klein, a 4-star chef and wife of a millionaire Deadhead, to raw diet and she has opened an elegant all-raw restaurant in Marin County, California called "Roxanne's."
Because in our culture and in most cultures we have a long history of cooked diet with just a little raw, it's easy at first impression to think, "What do the raw foodists eat? I could never live on such a restrictive diet." Ah, but this is not true. The raw diet has a very wide array of food choices. Though it's true that many raw foodists are happy to eat a "mono" diet (just one simple food per meal without any food preparation at all other than cutting, peeling, soaking or blending), there are probably even more who enjoy a multitude of fascinating raw cuisine.
By the way, I have been losing a little over 2 pounds a week since starting back on raw diet (have lost 30 pounds in three months), but I eat when and what I want, including lots of avocados - up to 4 per day. Raw plant fats contain the lipase enzyme, which is needed to process fats. Rather than making a person fat, they actually help get rid of stored fat. Awesome!
Well, I don't want to bore anybody, so we'll get right to the fun stuff.
First, here are some recipes from the soon-to-be published book by Chefs Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein:
1/2 avocado (about 3 ounces), peeled and pitted
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped asparagus
2 tablespoons chopped peeled celery
1 tablespoon Nama Shoyu, or other raw organic soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped green onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 thyme sprig
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 ounces fresh spinach
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil to taste (optional)
Combine the avocado, water, asparagus, celery, soy sauce, lemon juice, green onion, garlic, thyme, tarragon and spinach in a blender. Blend until a smooth puree.
Pass the mixture through a chinois or other fine mesh sieve. Season with cayenne, salt and pepper. Swirl in optional olive oil before serving.
This may be garnished with asparagus tips, shaved fennel and radishes marinated in vinegar, truffle oil, salt and pepper.
YOUNG-COCONUT PHAD THAI WITH ALMOND CHILI SAUCE
2 tablespoons tamarind juice
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 3/4 tablespoons organic soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 teaspoons minced serrano chili pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt plus sea salt to taste
1 1/2 cups julienned zucchini
1 cup thinly shredded red cabbage
1 1/2 cups julienned carrot
1/2 cup julienned red onion
1 cup julienned Granny Smith apple (skin on)
1/2 cup julienned red bell pepper
3 cups julienned young-coconut meat
1 serrano chili, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons whole cilantro leaves
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped
3 teaspoons white sesame oil
ALMOND CHILI SAUCE:
1/2 cup raw almond butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon organic soy sauce
1 Thai Dragon chili pepper (see note), or other hot red pepper
1/4 cup water
To prepare the phad thai: Puree the tamarind, maple syrup, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, the garlic, minced serrano, olive oil and salt until smooth.
Combine the zucchini, cabbage, carrots, onion, apple, bell pepper, coconut, sliced serrano and the cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add the tamarind puree and toss until evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper.
To prepare the cashews: Toss the cashews with 1 teaspoon of the white sesame oil in a small mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
To prepare the almond chili sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, adding more water to thin if necessary.
Assembly: Arrange some of the phad thai mixture in the center of each serving plate. Spoon some of the Almond Chili Sauce and the remaining soy sauce and white sesame oil around the phad thai. Sprinkle with the chopped cashews.
Note: The Thai Dragon is a red chili, about 3 inches long, 1/2 inch wide and about 6 times hotter than a jalapeno.
The young-coconut strands are slightly sweet and tender, emulating the classic rice noodle.
Gabriel Cousens, M.D., author of the very informative book "Conscious Eating," has been eating a raw vegetarian diet himself for about ten years now. Here are a couple of recipes from the TREE OF LIFE CAF at Dr. Cousens' health retreat in Patagonia, Arizona:
KITCHERY (a popular Indian dish, this is a healthier raw version)
1 cup sprouted wild rice
1 carrot, diced
1/4 cup green cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 cup summer squash, diced
2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1/8 cup sesame oil
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp mustard seed
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp Celtic sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sprouted wild rice, carrot, cabbage, summer squash, and fresh herbs. In a blender, combine the remaining ingredients. Transfer blended mixture to mixing bowl and stir everything together.
Tree of Life's KEY LIME PIE
2 C pecans, soaked 8 hours
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
1/4 t Celtic salt
Process all ingredients in a food processor with the "S" blade until the mixture becomes sticky and forms a ball. Press into pie plate and chill while making the filling.
1/2 C coconut milk
Pulp of 1 coconut
4 T lemon juice
4 T lime juice
1/2 - 1 vanilla bean
1/2 t Celtic salt
1/4 t stevia
In a blender, process all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add psyllium and mix well. Pour filling into crust and chill.
Here's to your health!
Until next time -
Michele Déradune is a film actress and voice talent represented by Ciao! out of Georgetown. She had a principal supporting role as Mel in SNAKE TALES (Winner "Best Independent Film Comedy," Gene Siskel Film Center, June 2001), was featured in an unscripted movie by actor/director KEVIN SPACEY, and was the voice of Wakana in the English version of the Japanese anime SAKURA WARS. You can see Michele's online acting résumé at http://www.deradune.com.