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Raw lasagna made by Brian Rossiter

Ease the Blow of Gourmet Raw Food Meals Over the Holiday Season

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We’re coming up on the end of the year, and the holiday season presents several days when we get together with loved ones, usually over long, elaborate meals. Some raw fooders craft with love their most decadent gourmet raw food meals such as raw lasagna with a heady amount of nuts or seeds turned into a “cheese” plus a fat-rich pie for rare enjoyment and to tantalize the taste buds of family and friends.

Digestion of these over-the-top creations, however, might prove to be the complete opposite of having a watermelon for dinner. The next day or two, you might feel slower, fuzzier in your head and even have a sore throat, stuffed-up nose and crusty, red eyes.

Why, oh, why do we choose to eat these meals if we know we’re going to be dealt a blow in our health, the best of which we strive so hard to achieve? Let’s face it: We grew up eating recipes, and recipes are all around us. These meals might not be the best choices, but food represents only one—albeit a huge one—aspect of health. Some stress over gatherings during the holidays and at other times because they rightfully choose not to partake in foods containing meat, dairy and eggs but feel like an outsider because they’re the only one eating fruit or salad for dinner—and no one else wants any of what they’re having.

Table setting for Thanksgiving

Indeed. I’ve been there time and time again.

While delivering a sensational raw food sauces recipe class with Ashley Clark at Arnold’s Way last August, Chris Kendall told a packed room that he ate as clean as can be—enough to make the strictest Natural Hygeniest proud—for five years but then relaxed his diet to allow for foods such as the irritants garlic and onion, which were previously off limits. “No one wanted to eat anything I made,” he said. Nowadays, family and friends enjoy his creations, and Chris is a celebrated chef at raw food retreats the world over.

If you eat like me, you keep your intake very clean but allow yourself occasional indulgences, be it adding cumin and chipotle seasoning to Mexican-style meals or partaking in poorly combined potluck foods, which might include garlic, onion and salt or be simply overloaded with fat.

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Yes, there’s a price to be paid for these choices, but two tricks, which recently revealed themselves to me, have helped ease the blow of any transgressions I make. The first is to limit the size of the indulgence. Whereas I once ordered two full-size Mexican Salads, containing cumin, other seasonings and ground jalapeno, at a Greater Philadelphia raw food cafĂŠ, I downsized by having just one—and loaded up on enough fruit ahead of time to be sure I was completely satisfied after the meal.

The other trick is to eat only fruit or fruit and tender greens for two days before and two days after eating a meal containing too much fat, irritants or excitotoxins. Of course, it’s best to save these indulgences for dinner after a day of fruit or fruit-and-greens meals. All this helps free up energy and puts your body in the best position to handle the ordinarily out-of-bounds meal. One time, the day after having just one full-size Mexican Salad—coming off two full days and then most of a third day eating just fruit, lettuce and celery—I barely felt a thing. Another time, I lost my zest and made sure I stuck to just fruit and greens for the next two days.

Remember, the holidays are about love, connection and being grateful, not food. We often join one another over meals, however, so I hope these strategies can help you in your choices when you’re getting together with family and friends this fall and winter.

Enjoy the lasagna! 🙂

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