by Sarma Melngailis
Since it’s impractical for me to drop everything right now and run off to an Ashram to find myself, I had to see how I might be able to conduct the search locally. How do I do this, in my “spare” time? What spare time? How do I find solitude in New York City for some good self-awareness? And when? This is an ongoing exploration.
I’ve also kind of yearned for a return of that ‘honeymoon’ excitement that I felt when first going ‘raw’. Raw and I have been married (though we have a pretty open relationship) for over four years now. Isn’t four years the point at which most marriages are said to go stale? If you make it beyond four years, you’re solid, but it’s also a pretty common time to break apart? Am I making this up?
Sometimes things just appear and then resonate for one reason or another at a particular
time that feels like perfect timing. Charlie, who is in charge of Product Development (an understatement of her role for sure) at One Lucky Duck, had a few books under her desk. One caught my eye and I picked it up. Victoria Boutenko’s Green for Life. I’d seen this book around, but it was published after my first summer of being raw, so I’d not devoured it then like I did every other raw food book I could get my hands on. I read the inside flap of the book, which references how closely related chimpanzees are to humans, and asks why then do we not take a closer look at what they thrive on in the wild. So, I borrowed the book, took it home, and devoured it. In fact, I haven’t given it back to her.
Reading this book took me back in time, with a bit of a familiar experience. Everything in it just makes sense...perfect sense. The way the whole concept of raw made perfect sense to me when I first read about it. For me, right now, this seems like a perfect healer – I’m full of renewed hope. And what she is talking about is not a pill, nor a bunch of dried up herbs, nor a previously unheard of berry or root from a far away mountain top snacked on by some ancient civilization which then allowed them to live long, disease-free, great-sex-filled lives. Think maca, goji, acai, noni, to name a few. love these too and consume plenty, as well as many supplements, but still one must admit there’s a bit of leap of faith involved with anything in a pill, or known as a superfood. However, this is so basic: just eat lots of greens. And to make it all easier on yourself and so as not to consume your entire day perched on a branch chewing and chewing and chewing, blend them.
I felt a bit like I had just decided to enter the graduate studies program of raw foods. At the time, I’d already been making myself green shakes – but only now and then. I began with fruit and cucumber based shakes to which I’d add cilantro, and then slowly was starting to add more and more greens. But I wasn’t really putting much thought into it or why I was doing it. However, as I read this book, it all made sense to me. This is what I was going to do. And I was not going to turn it into a puritanical fast. I was simply going to amp up the contents of my green shakes, as well as the frequency of my consumption of them, in place of other things. And I was going to do this without putting restrictions on myself. Just happy and warm knowing that I was going to really enjoy doing this, and that it would do me well.
Well, do me well it has. I am in a full blown love affair with dark leafy greens. Rainbow chard is miraculously beautiful, with the bright dark pink, red, yellow and orange stems delicately bleeding up and into the green leaves. Dinosaur kale, all sturdy and dark is just somehow vigorousness in a vegetable. Parsley and cilantro I can’t get enough of. And my shakes have become darker and thicker and thicker and darker. When I can get good sprouts, I add those too. Or spinach, or collards.
It’s like the opposite of the horde of clowns spilling out of the teeny car – one can’t imagine how I could possibly get that volume of greenery condensed into one blender. I have mastered the art of making them just the way I like them, adding things in a certain order.
For example, I add peeled limes at the very end, not blending it too thoroughly afterwards, so that I get little bites of the pith that explode lime flavour into my mouth when I bite into them. I eat them very thoughtfully, and crave them. I am comforted by them, calmed by them, excited when I’m making them. I eat them with a spoon and chew them slowly. I can appreciate the flavour differences when I use different greens, like different grape varieties in fine wines. And they fill me in the most satisfying way. Yes, I am in love with green shakes.
Sarma Melngailis is the co-founder, owner and executive chef of premier New York raw restaurant Pure Food and Wine. She is also co-author of Raw Food, Real World and founder and CEO of One Lucky Duck which operates an online boutique offering selected products for the raw and organic lifestyle. For more information see purefoodandwine.com
This is an excerpt from Get Fresh! Magazine. Go here to subscribe