On my 21st birthday, I was awoken bright and early (meaning around 9:30 AM) by a delivery man. It turned out that not only did this delivery man's father live in my hometown, but he also had a huge arrangement of fruit for me!
Waking up to a batch of fresh fruit made even this cranky not-morning person very happy! Thanks for the thoughtful gift, Mom!
My favorite part is probably the pineapple flower. Seriously adorable.
Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots and Sesame Seeds
1 pound baby bok choy
2 small shallots, peeled and slicked into very thin rings
1/2-inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
Slice off the stubby base of the bok choy from the white, thick bottoms. If the bok choy is longer than 3 to 4 inches, slice the stems once or twice into large chunks. Place the bok choy in a large bowl or salad spinner, fill the bowl with water, and slosh the bok choy around to clean (it can be a little sandy, so do this a few times). Drain and shake off any excess water (if using a salad spinner, give it a spin). Set aside.
Heat the peanut oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots, separating them in the pan with a slotted spatula. Fry gently in oil for 5 to 6 minutes until they're deep golden brown and crisp (it will take a while to get past the soft fried stage, then all of a sudden the shallots will start to crisp, so watch carefully so as not to burn them). Remove the shallots form the pan with a spatula or spoon and set aside onto a plate (it's okay if a few bits remain in the pan). If no oil remains in the pan, drizzle in a little extra oil.
Quickly sauté the grated ginger for 15 seconds. Add the bok choy and stir to coat with oil and ginger. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes until the green leaves start to wilt. Add the mirin and soy sauce, stir briefly, and cover the pan. Steam for 2 minutes, then remove the lid. Stir for about 30 seconds more and remove from the heat. Transfer the bok choy to a serving plate, top with the fried shallots, sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds, and serve immediately.
PS: If you're using regular bok choy (I did half and half): slice the white stems away from the leavy tops. Chop the stems into 2- to 3- inch chunks. When ready to cook the bok choy, place the chunks in the pan first and sauté them for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the green leafy parts as directed.
edit: Amy Groark pointed out that I forgot to credit Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero for this recipe. I promise this wasn't intentional! While I may edit a recipe or two on this blog to keep it vegan, I definitely don't have the skills to make my own recipes from scratch (at least not yet!).
A fellow vegan blogger is having an Earth Balance giveaway. I know that this stuff is a staple for a lot of vegans (including me!) who want a good butter substitute. I haven't tried their other products, but they make vegan shortening and soy milk as well.
Also, I'm considering taking this blog in a new direction circa summertime. I'll keep you all posted (har har).
Alright, so obviously my grandiose plans for turning this into a food blog have remained nascent, to say the least. However, I have been posting what I eat daily for the past ten days, here: Vegan_Foodblog. Over in LiveJournal land, my user name is withinmywill (don't ask. I was young). Here's today's entry to give you a sampling:
breakfast: apple-cinnamon oatmeal / Lipton tea
lunch: veggie samosa from the Campus Mini Mart / tortilla chips and salsa
dinner: cheese-less pizza with peppers, corn, onion, basil, seasoning, etc. / steamed broccoli / tofu stir fry and white rice / zesty rice with read beans / grape juice mixed with sparkling water / citrus peace juice mixed with sparkling water
I figured it is only fair to give an update on my life and where my diet and health have gone in the past year. It's been an incredible journey, and I am about a million times better now than I was in the summer of 2009 when I was diagnosed.
As far as my diet goes, I am no longer a raw vegan. I'm vegan, however, with the exception of honey. Specifically, I'm using Manuka honey to treat my persistent acne. I know, though, that this is just a simplistic approach to attacking this problem, as when I was a raw vegan (and drinking tons of wheatgrass), I was completely acne-free. But, I digress.
The exciting / encouraging / amazing news, however, is that I am official R.A.-free. Yes, you read that right. A little after a year ago, I was diagnosed with "sever" rheumatoid arthritis. About a month ago, my doctor told me that I no longer had the disease. I'm extremely grateful for this, though it's hard for me to even grasp. Medically, R.A. is considered incurable, but I was able to eliminate it, simply by eliminating a few things from my diet. To me, it's a no-brainer. Why would I go on medication when I can cure myself?
I'm going to be getting blood tests soon to see where my indicators for R.A. have gone. They used to be strongly positive for R.A., so it will be interesting to see if they have changed. Though I don't show any symptoms, generally, I still have some mild pain and stiffness sometimes, so it will be interesting to see if my levels fall within the "normal" range or not.
I am trying to decide where I should proceed with this blog. This past summer I was fully self-sufficient for the first time in my life. Therefore, I became a self-taught cook, and subsequently fell in love with (vegan) cooking. I love reading (and drooling at) cooking blogs, and I already try at least one or two new recipes a week. Therefore, I may toy with the idea of moving this blog towards the format of a vegan cooking blog, with plenty of room for discussion about health issues, nutrition, etc. Then again, midterms are coming up, and I cannot promise regular posts.
One thing that I do want to emphasize, however, is that being a raw vegan is possible. I started this blog as a way to show college students that they weren't crazy for giving it a shot, and that there were other people out there doing it. I'm confident that this is still true, though I am no longer one of them. I'd be lying, though, if I said that being a raw vegan was easy. It's not. It's time-consuming, takes a huge amount of effort, and a lot of care. Unfortunately, in college, the time to look after your own well-being is sacrificed for other priorities (both positive and negative!). I know this first hand. Going to a school with rigorous academics, I found it hard to devote the time every day to juicing, making salads, and growing sprouts. Being vegan allows me much more flexibility in my options and allows me to have many more time-saving choices.
If I could be a raw vegan without the work, I would in a second. Sure, I'd miss a couple of cooked items, but those cravings subside as soon as I start to reap the benefits of a raw diet. So, I still encourage everyone interested to give it a shot and see what it can do for you. Just know that you will have to devote a lot more time than you're probably accustomed to towards taking care of yourself!
I am nearing the end of the school year. My last exam is tomorrow! Though, I do have two more assignments that I have to finish after that. However, I guess this is the time to reflect back on the past year.
I started off the school year completely raw, following the Hippocrates diet as much as I could. I lost a pretty decent amount of weight really fast, which was actually a bit scary, because I didn't exactly have a lot to lose. I felt great, but the diet, as I feared, was extremely high maintenance. By the end of my raw vegan attempts, I ended up getting too lazy to even change the water in my sprouter every day, and I got moldy sprouts.
Anyway, long story short, I got lazy, stressed, and tempted, and stopped being a raw vegan. For a while, I was even delving back into eating dairy and egg products again, and feeling not-so-great again because of it.
I decided, eventually, to stick with a vegan diet, and that's what I've done for several months now. I feel fine, and the arthritis has come back only very minimally. However, I realize that I am not feeling my best at all, and I've been a lot more sick with other things this year than is necessary.
I knew that I had to get back to the raw diet this summer, especially since I'll be (finally!) living in an apartment with an actual kitchen with a disposal! I'm also looking into investing in a weekly CSA box for the summer, at least. The final straw, however, was when I looked at a photograph of me when I was at Hippocrates. Now, I have struggled with bad skin for at least seven or eight years. I forgot that my skin, while on a raw vegan diet, was completely clear.
The first one there is me at Hippocrates. I have a better photograph where my sunglasses and hair aren't covering half of my face, but I only have a printed copy. Just trust me, my skin looked amazing. The second photograph is not long after coming back to school and still being raw (for the most part). My skin still looked pretty great.
So there you have it, though health issues are a huge factor in why I'm becoming raw again, vanity has won me over =].
I'll try to keep more updates this summer as I explore this again. I'm a little disappointed in myself for not being able to keep up the diet during the school year (and the point of this blog was to prove that it was possible!), but I am just too busy. I am in an extremely challenging program, and I, frankly (and sadly), put my schoolwork before anything else.
It won't be long, though, until my lunches look more like this:
Now, I have to get to juicing the wheatgrass that my Mom overnighted me today. (Yes, I am spoiled!) (Yes, I really am juicing wheatgrass at 3:00 AM) (No, my roommate is not home).
I watched this video, and it made me miss Hippocrates extraordinarily.
I miss my room, and my roommate, especially. My roommate passed away about a month and a half ago, unfortunately. She was one of the most radiant people I met while there. Though she had difficult eating (she had to blend most of her food) due to the surgery that she had to remove tumors from her jaw, when I was talking to her I forgot that she had ever had any ailment. I really want to live out her memory and remember not to get too burdened down by life. One of the first things she told me was to never think that you can never find true love, because she found true love at about sixty years old. She really did have a beautiful spirit. Arna, I miss you.
Hippocrates really was a beautiful place, though it is somewhat shabby-chic.
I especially miss the food:
Most of all I miss how I felt mentally while there. The joy and love in the place is really amazing. It sounds cheesy, but I really was in a completely blissful mental state there. I felt capable of everything! Then, I came to college and quickly became burdened with so much responsibility and now I'm struggling to cope with these responsibilities while maintaining a positive outlook.
I'm hoping to get into some Tai Chi and Qigong up here in Boston. One of my favorite activities at Hippocrates was the Tai Chi, and I found that it brought me a lot of mental calmness and clarity, so I hope that I can bring a little bit of that back into my life.
I know that being raw is the healthiest thing I can do for my body. That's not the issue. It's the convenience and over-availability of non-raw food that gets me. I've decided to try to get back to it as best as I can, though.
Therefore, I'm doing something that I scoffed at a little bit at first. Because I went to Hippocrates, I was able to jump into being a raw vegan with both feet forward. I was totally gung-ho about it, even though I knew it would be a challenge in college life. Now, after several steps backward, I'm moving forward once again. I'm committing myself to being vegan, at the least. Whenever I go to the dining hall and prepare a meal, it always conforms to the Hippocrates diet, more or less, because they have a great salad bar (even if they don't always have the pea sprouts that I requested). It's when I'm offered a slice of cake or a cookie that I'm tempted.
When I became a vegetarian, I decided I wasn't eating meat and that was that. I don't know why this is so much trickier. I know it's much more extreme, but I have a lot of faith in my mental resolve.
I'll be going home Wednesday morning, and I know that my parents will be extremely encouraging, and I think that will help me.
1. I am extremely busy. Juicing alone takes about an hour when cleaning the juicer is taken into account, because I have to clean it in the bathroom, and I don't have an hour to spare every day.
2. College is full of free food. Constantly there are candy, desserts, and non-vegan things offered to me. Last night alone, I was offered apple pie, chocolate toffee crackers, and cookies at dance practice, and then there were donuts provided after Mass. I never had much of a sweet tooth, but these things have been hard for me to resist. I'd never go out and buy them, but it's so easy to eat them just because they're there.
3. I am stressed. The first time I ate off of the diet was when I was taking an exam and, basically, there was a lot of free food (see #2). I hadn't eaten much that day, and was extremely hungry, and caved.
Therefore, the outlook for curing myself has been somewhat bleak, as my condition, to be frank, worsens. However, I saw an ad for a documentary that my college TV station is doing about extreme diets, and signed up with another raw vegan who does not maintain a 100% raw diet anymore. I hope that I can use this as a way to get back on track.
At Hippocrates, raw veganism was so easy and attainable! I felt so happy, capable, and empowered there. Bringing that home is the tough part!