Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Last night I ate a whole umeboshi.  It’s a  plum that’s been salted and pickled and pressed with shiso leaves.  It’s one of those ancient Japanese medicinal foods that macrobiotic foodies swear by.  “They” say to eat one a day to ward off illness/disease…making it sort of the Far-East’s version of “an apple a day”. 

It is extremely detoxifying.  And I mean extremely!  For example, like I said I ate a whole one and 2 things happened to me: 1.  I went to the bathroom perhaps 25 times and then 2. I passed out as if I  had been “ruffied”.  Now…when  my husband got home I did indeed try to blame my cats for having put something in my water with lemon but no one believed that story.  But you never know what animals can do, I recently watched a video of a penguin in Japan shopping for dinner for his human family (you tube “penguin shopping” seriously!).

The fact is…I could have just passed out from the exhaustion of detoxing this whole month.  You’d like to think that it wraps itself up at some point but depending on your overall health and diet before the cleanse, it can take weeks, months, even years (if you eat a lot of meat) to rid your body of toxins.  And it takes a lot of energy to expel all this crap (literally! Ewwww gross!) from your body.  I didn’t have the worse diet in the world…barely ate meat to begin with but..dairy, coffee, pasta, sugar, booze…holy umeboshi help me! 

Don’t let my ruffie analogy scare you.  I’m not exactly sure what the hell made me so sleepy.  The fact is that umeboshi are actually quite energizing.  I’ve had them in tea before…which is the most common use of them. 

Umeboshi tea recipe (read as: ancient Japanese secret):  Brew 8 oz of kukicha or bancha tea (I’ve used regular green tea or rooibus too) while that tea is steeping remove the pit of one tiny plum and finely chop the plum into pieces and place it in a cup.  Add a few drops of shoyu or bragg’s liquid aminos (raw, organic soy sauce).  Then add the tea.  Drink the whole cup all while eating the plum bits!  Sayonara hangover…hello detox from processed foods and too much sugary stuff…hello toilet…hello overall well-being!

Now, I should warn you…if you’ve never had an Umeboshi or heard of one, they are an acquired taste.  Which might be why most people use the plums in tea or…use the paste in cooking, as part of something else.  The taste is like…oh how to describe it…a giant salty pickly soft prune. Yum? And if you eat the whole one all by itself…your tongue will feel all fuzzy and funny.  They are so salty that I actually thought I was going into some sort of sodium-induced shock and that I would begin hallucinating.  But…I never did hallucinate…damn it!  Some people actually suck on the plum’s pits which are even saltier than the plums.

I recently had a conversation with a friend and co-worker about cleansing and raw foods and how most of them seem to be designed to make you…well…poop a lot.  So, if that’s what you’re looking for in your cleanse, look no further than the umeboshi Japanese sour salty plums!

Just be careful.  Only buy the organic ones. They are more readily available and extremely inexpensive in Chinatown but those have MSG in them.  Buy them online or at a health food store.  No, they aren’t cheap.  But, we’re New Yorkers…so that should come as no surprise.  But, if used correctly they will last you a while.  In fact, you could start out by only using half a plum in the tea.

On another note, the toot my own horn note that is, I’m on day 23 of this cleanse!  No meat, fish, dairy, sugar, gluten, or alcohol.  I’ve been juicing everyday, eating lots of whole grains and legumes and otherwise trying to eat mostly raw (about 80/20 everyday) or live foods.  I’ve been asked everyday what it is that I’m doing different because apparently I look better (I know I feel better) and then when I tell people I’m on a cleanse (it sounds better than diet) they ask who’s cleanse or which cleanse.  And I’ve found that difficult to answer in one sentence so my next blog entry will be dedicated to explaining exactly what cleanse I’ve been doing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Feeling good...not just a song by Nina Simone

My skin, is red and itchy.  And no one knows why.  I’ve gone to dermatologists and doctors.  I’ve seen several different acupuncturists.  Everyone has a different idea.  I’ve been told Psorisis, eczema, dermatitis, allergies but not all of the symptoms are exact.  Acupuncturists all say liver deficiency and blood deficiency.  And their work does help but it’s temporary.  I’ve tried steam rooms and detoxes. I’ve tried hot yoga, meditation, vitamins, herbs, sunshine therapy.  I’ve also tried with varying success a multitude of elimination diets to see what I could be allergic to.  And we haven’t even discussed my insomnia from which I’ve been suffering for years.

Somewhere in my heart of hearts I’ve known this day was coming.  The day when I would have to turn my back on my life as a foodie.  I guess it’s ok because I really hate that word.  And really, I’m a rather unlikely foodie who always felt like a poseur.  Yet…it has been decadent and luxurious…sort of.

See, I’ve really only been eating meat for a couple of years.  And before that I had only recently added fish.  And…the year before that was when I began eating dairy.  And dairy is when it began.  The itching that is.  Or it could be the drinking.  Both of those started around the same time.  Easy there Jamie Foxx…let’s not blame it all on the alcohol (or dairy) just yet! I wasn’t the healthiest vegan…now was I?  I did have quite a bit of refined sugar and flour and lots of processed foods in my life.  I was one of those types…who believed that a bag of potato chips and a box of tofutti cuties was a great dinner as long as it was washed down with some carrot juice and bee pollen. 

Somewhere along the line I had cheese and it was love at first bite.  I started declaring it my new superfood  and how it’s fats were keeping my skin shiny and youthful.  It was also making me fat and depressed…although I didn’t know this at the time.  And, yes I could tell you the story of how I added nasty item after nasty item to my diet to become the omnivore that I am today or that I was 2 weeks ago at least.  But, that’s not really interesting.  At least not to me.  What does interest me is that the choice I made to start eating different foods (meats and cheeses and fish) was born out of a desire to try new things.  To be fearless and adventurous was the goal.  I wanted to write about food and wine and romance.  And I felt you couldn’t have inhibitions in any category or it would feel forced.  But, the funny thing is the more foods I tried…the less I seemed to like.  It was frustrating and I spent a lot of energy hiding this…I focused on eating and drinking things I did like (mostly oysters and champagne).

Acupuncturists all kept telling me to avoid the few things I did like (see: oysters and champagne).  I went all out and quit coffee, drank a ton of wheatgrass, and tried to stick to sushi.  And I was starting to feel and look better.  But life’s changes (a new job) were taking me more towards foods that were becoming a problem for me (pasta).  Everything was so delicious that I kept trying new foods.  But, the itchiness and dryness were worsening.  I tried a few elimination diets and a juice cleanse.  But, none of them lasted long enough to see a difference in my skin.  Yet, they did last long enough for me to remember that elements of the diets really made me feel better.  I started to have a personal battle with myself.  I became afraid that I wouldn’t be able to live the fabulous lifestyle I had created for myself and therefore I wouldn’t be able to write about my fabulousness if I gave up meat, cheese, pasta and champagne.  That was sort of the whole point of my blog…it’s called “the girl eats” for a reason!   On the other hand…I haven’t felt so fabulous since my skin is constantly a mess and I don’t sleep and my body is constantly trying to repair itself or digest all this pork.  And I’ve known this and have been struggling with it for a while. 

I haven’t been writing on this blog for a long time because I’ve been experimenting with my diet.  And I figured, who wants to read about that?  And who wants to write about it?  Well, I guess I do.  Sort of.  What I really want to write about is trying to figure out what it is we’re putting in our bodies, how it affects us health and beauty wise.  And I want to find delicious foods and recipes that are fun to make so that I don’t have to give up being a fake-foodie (even if I don’t like that word). 

So, it’s sort of my foodie confessional.  And I’m going to try to track it on paper (or via the internet really) and see what I learn and taste a long the way. 

So far, I’m at 16 days of no booze (that’s right I said it), minimal caffeine (I’m trying!! give me a break people) no meat, no fish, no dairy, no sugar, no refined flour, and most of what I’m eating is raw. 

Whole food, whole grain, legumes, lots of fresh vegetables and fruits.  And, I’m a juicing maniac. 

Results at this time are pretty fantastic already.  My skin is amazing (mostly clear) in fact, I feel I look younger too.  I was sleeping like a baby until the past 2 days…not sure what’s up with that but I will report back.

Favorite recipes so far have mostly been juices…yet…there is this salad that I love with raw kale, avocado, red peppers, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt…unbelievably good.

The plan is to eat this way until we leave town on the 31st so that will have been 28 days.  Then take a little break and see what happens…then try something new when we get back from our vacation.

The part I’m the least scared of is work.  See, I manage a restaurant.  And just so we’re clear…it’s not a vegan or raw restaurant. You would think this would complicate matters however, I love the place.  I love the food.  And I love everyone I work with.  I’ve tried everything on the menu so I can speak passionately about the food and wine without lying.  And I’ve been bringing food with me to work to snack on so I’m not tempted by the awesome smells from the kitchen.