Saturday, August 15, 2015

Raw Korean Cabbage Bowl

At the end of July, M and I did a raw food challenge. The idea was simple. Eat only raw fruits and veggies and some nuts and seeds (and hot tea and mate) for 10 days.

M had been talking about trying this style diet for a while, however I was skeptical. While I know a few different people who eat an all-raw, mostly fruit-based diet, the only ones I know who seem to do well on this style of eating, are all ultra-endurance athletes. In fact, a friend once called me when she was struggling with her 80-10-10 style raw food diet. While initially she had good results, after over a year of fully raw, mostly fruit, she was feeling lethargic, starting to gain weight, and was having some negative health results as well.

For those of you who don’t know, 80-10-10 referrers to the macro nutrient rations. 80% of total calories come from unrefined carbohydrates, 10% from protein, and 10% from fat. I always tell my clients never to worry about counting calories or to worry about getting specific amounts of protein or carbohydrates. In my opinion, this always makes eating way to difficult and rarely ends with positive, long lasting results.

However, after listening to Garth Davis, M.D. talk about how he was planning on trying a 21 day raw diet on the RRP a month ago, I finally agreed to try the challenge with M. As such, we ordered 1 case of bananas, 1 case of large pears, 1 case of navel oranges and a case of mangos. Because we have a small refrigerator, we decided we would buy greens as needed (essentially ever day).

Fruit is one of the healthiest food sources on the planet, with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, improved arterial function, reduced cancer risks and believe it or not, better control of blood sugar in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

According to a Harvard Health Letter about chronic hand pain, fruit is beneficial [to human health] in almost any amount. Then I found a paper published in Metabolism where they placed people a 20 servings of fruit a day diet (roughly 200g/d of fructose) with no adverse effects (and possible benefits actually) to body weight, blood pressure, insulin or lipid levels after three months. Further more there was a 38-point drop in their LDL cholesterol.

M and I agreed to start with a 10-day challenge. We did large fruit and veggie smoothies just about every day for breakfast (roughly 300-600 calories), snacked on different fruits and some raw nuts and seeds throughout the day, then had large salads for lunch and dinner with dried fruit and different dressings that we made. 

After the first few days I didn’t notice any real different in how I felt. I felt great eating a whole food, plant based, high starch diet, and I felt just as good on the mostly fruit meals. However, I did feel bored. I also missed the flavors of spiced grains and legumes. Perhaps one of the reasons I felt this way, was because we did the challenge in the middle of winter. While Buenos Aires winters are actually quite mild, on cooler rainy days, I can say with certainty, I wanted the comfort of a warm meal.

By day 6, while I still felt fine, I noticed I was starting to loose some weight. Just a pound or two, however as someone who is already very svelte, even a few pounds is noticeable and weight-loss is actually the opposite of my current goal. As such, on day 8 I ate a large serving of steamed potatoes and finished the remain two days following a Raw-till-4 plan.

M had an easier time with the challenge. She really never had any cravings during her entire challenge. In fact, she reported that she felt lighter; again she also experienced some weight-loss. But most importantly to her, she never suffered from any migraines while doing the challenge.

She has been under a tremendous amount of stress from work and has been working incredibly long shits – multiple 24 hours shifts each week. Often when her stress builds up and she has a shift where she doesn’t get enough sleep, that triggers a migraine the following day. While she says that her migraines became less frequent after going whole-food, plant based vegan two years ago, the attacks never completely disappeared until she went raw.

In fact, she was feeling so good after 10 days; she decided to continue the fully raw diet for an additional 7 days. Finally, after 17 days, she returned to eating cooked foods. She is still feeling great and hasn’t reported any migraines. I believe the primary reason she returned to cooked foods was because the weather took a turn for the worst, and after 5 straight days of cold rain, she was ready for a hot meal.

Both M and I enjoyed the challenge and we both are committing to eat more raw foods. We both already eat a lot of fruit in a normal day, but we want to increase our consumption of uncooked veggies. We have been eating a large salad before enjoying our cooked lunch and dinner.

So what did I learn? Well for starters, I don't plan on putting any patients on this style diet. While the health benefits in the short term are certainly positive, I just didn't believe it was all that practical. Food prep actually took longer. If you don't understand what I mean, think about the time consumption of tossing a few potatoes into the oven verses peeling 10 oranges. It was also significantly more expensive. I would guess we spent more than double our usual amount. 

That said, it was fun to be creative with our foods. We enjoyed the time together in the kitchen, and M especially enjoyed searching for new salads, dressings, and smoothie recipes.  

While we made a lot of different dishes, this Raw Korean Cabbage Bowl was my favorite creation during the week. One I will definitely be making again. It was inspired by the last meal M and I shared in New York before moving to Buenos Aires, which was at the beautiful vegan Korean restaurant, Hangawi. This dish was inspired by those flavors.

Raw Korean Cabbage Bowl
2.5 cups red cabbage – shredded
2 cups white cabbage – shredded
2 large carrots – shredded
½ bunch swiss chard or spinach – sliced
1 green onion – diced
1 cup mushrooms – chopped
½ avocado
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon gritty sea salt (optional)
½ lemon – juiced
½ inch lemon peel – zested

Shred both cabbages and carrots. Place them into a large bowl (I did a cast iron pan to increase the flavor) Toss spices and lemon juice and zest and massage with your hands for 2-3 minutes until the cabbage and carrots begin to soften.

Now slice the swiss chard into 1 inch ribbons. Add to the bowl with the cabbage and carrots and massage again so the swiss chard becomes a bright green color. Now add the diced onion and mushrooms.

Sweet & Sour Ginger Mustard Dressing
1 inch of ginger
2 teaspoons mustard (preferably stone ground)
1.5 lemons juiced
2.5 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoons currants or raisins
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup water

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Let cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

When serving, pour the dressing onto the cabbage bowl and mix well. As an additional option, toss avocado on top and serve with a side of kimichi. 

D J Jenkins, et al. “Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function.” Metabolism. 2001; Apr 50: 494-503.

Top 5 ways to reduce crippling hand pain. Harvard Health Letter. 2013; 38(9):4.

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

1 comment:

  1. Looks delicious! Definitely going to try this dressing soon!