Raw Foods Trial: Day 1

Note to readers: Over the next week I'll be running daily posts about my experiences on a seven-day trial of eating 100% raw foods. Today's post is my report for Day 1. [See the full archive of posts on my raw foods trial.]

PS: If there are readers out there who are raw foodists (I know I have at least a few), or other readers who have embarked on their own raw foods trials in the past, please share your experiences!

Before we get into Day 1 itself, I want to share a few preliminary words about two food sources that are probably unfamiliar to most CK readers, but are key inputs into a typical raw foodists's diet:

1) Sprouted and soaked grains
2) Sprouted beans and legumes

Honestly, I had never heard of soaked or sprouted grains and legumes, much less had I ever eaten them. And I'll admit, when I was researching raw foods, I was a bit annoyed to discover that in order to have an easy source of "living" protein I'd have to spend time soaking and sprouting my food. However, it turns out that working with these grains and beans is quite easy and it requires only a tiny bit of advanced planning.

The key grains I soaked and sprouted were wheat berries--which are simply whole, unprocessed wheat kernels--and buckwheat kernels. Both require just an overnight soak in plain water to become soft enough to eat (but please, unless you have your dentist already queued up on speed dial, do not try to eat wheat berries raw! You will seriously break a tooth). As for legumes, I only experimented with lentils, which can be eaten raw after soaking for just 12-18 hours. The lentils tasted a lot like the bean sprouts you'd get at a Chinese restaurant, and they are--no joke--ten times as filling as cooked lentils.

After a night of soaking and a quick rinse, these grains and legumes will begin sprouting over the course of the next day or so. All you have to do is keep them somewhat damp (I put them in tupperware containers and covered them with wet paper towels) and rinse them 1-2 times a day.

Soaked and sprouted grains and legumes like these are extremely nutrient- and energy-rich, and they make a great (and filling) complement to a fruit or veggie smoothie, as you'll see shortly. Finally, it's pretty darn cool (and kind of amazing) to grow things like this in your own kitchen.

A word on the cost: these guys are cheap. The lentils that I soaked and sprouted were, believe it or not, just regular old grocery store dried lentils at 79c for a one-pound bag. The two-pound bag of organic wheat berries that I bought at a local health food store cost a seemingly steep $2.49, but I later discovered that two pounds will be enough wheat to last me 2-3 weeks, even if I ate them morning, noon and night. I'm sure wheat berries can be purchased much more cheaply if you go non-organic or buy in bulk.

I can discuss in more detail the surprisingly easy instructions for soaking and sprouting grains and legumes if there's interest from readers.

Now, let's move on to Day 1 of my raw food diet! First I'll discuss the foods I ate and the eating schedule I kept, with explanatory notes where necessary. Then, I'll share some closing thoughts on the day.

Breakfast: 9:00am
Breakfast smoothie: One apple, 3-4 Tblsp sprouted wheat berries, 2-3 Tblsp sprouted buckwheat: combine in a blender. Add a few ounces of water as needed to help liquefy the smoothie. Yield: about 1 cup (enough to fill an 8-ounce glass).
I also ate, separately, several cubes of fresh pineapple.

Note: It might not seem like much food, but this smoothie kept me full for more than six hours. More on that shortly.

Late in the morning, about two hours after breakfast, I went for my typical 5 mile run that I do 2-3 times a week.

Thanks to a last minute meeting Laura and I had to rush off to (we're bidding on a townhouse here in NJ), I ended up essentially skipping lunch. I just had a smallish snack of some cubed pineapple and some sprouted lentils and wheat berries. The wheat berries, which began sprouting about three days ago, actually tasted a little like bread!

Early Dinner: 4:00pm
Another smoothie:
Combine in a blender: two big handfuls of spinach, one carrot, 3/4 of an apple, 5-6 black raspberries and 4-5 Tblsp of wheat berries. Again, add water as needed. Yield: about 1 1/2 cups.

Note: Thanks to the spinach, you could technically call this a green smoothie, but in reality it was sort of purplish-brown. It was bizarre looking, bizarre-tasting and bizarrely good. By this time I was really famished, since it had been more than six hours since my last real meal.

Around 4:30pm I had a craving for some chocolate (which shouldn't be a surprise to any longtime readers of this blog), but I shook it off. Heck, it's only day one. I can't quit already.

Around 7:30pm I had an avocado, which for some reason tasted like one of the most delicious things I'd ever eaten.

Later, Laura threatened to get into my stash of dark chocolate. "You won't be needing this for a while!" she said. Talk about kicking a guy when he's down.

Concluding Notes/Thoughts on the Day:
Today felt like any other day. The main surprise about Day 1 was how shockingly filling and satisfying the smoothies were. These soaked and sprouted grains are so tiny, yet they provide an enormous amount of satiety and energy. It's as if they defy the laws of physics.

In contrast, my typical meal after a longish run is usually a huge bowl of (cooked) pasta, and I'm usually hungry again within an hour or two. But it only took a single, smallish wheat berry smoothie, plus a small snack for lunch, to give me enough energy to run five miles and last nearly six hours before I became hungry again.

Onward to Day 2!

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Julia said...

I have to admit I don't have the willpower to do a raw diet for a week (I can't even give up fat for a day), but I'm very intrigued by sprouted grains!! That I would give a try.

Thanks for sharing your tales.

Daniel said...

Hi Julia, I was hoping that even my "I'd never try raw" readers would get some value out of my discussion of sprouted/soaked grains and legumes, so thanks for your feedback.

Also regarding fat: I hear you, and you'll see over the course of my trial how important avocados become. There's a reason it seemed like a magic, delicious food, even as early as Day 1...

kittiesx3 said...

In your research for the raw diet, did you run across why it's better to east, say, raw steel cut oats than cooked ones?

I love hot (temperature) meals, the warmth is very important to me. I find hot meals so comforting, and I wondered if cooking these grains you are sprouting really would alter them that much. Heck for that matter, I'd fail with my beverage of choice--hot water!

Little Les said...

I'm curious about your soaking and sprouting methods because I think it's fun. I've sprouted alfalfa to eat, a variety of beans and seeds prior to garden planting, and of course, my 70's Chia Pet. :)

How many legumes/berries are you sprouting at once? In a pile, or all separated on the paper towels? Why do you rinse them so often? Have you tried sprouting nuts, like almonds? Etc etc.

Write on!

carol at A Second Cup said...

I would love to see the details of soaking and sprouting grains. The breakfast smoothie sounds interesting.

Janet C. said...

Its sort of off topic, since I don't eat them raw...but one thing we do is always sprout mung dal before we cook it...sprouted mung dal tastes more like a veggie (like you say, like bean sprouts...sort of...) and is excellent cooked with Indian spices. Try it sometime when you've regained your senses and start using your stove again....

Daniel said...

Kx3: Yes. The logic of raw/soaked steel cut oats is the same as the logic behind raw/soaked grains. You preserve more of the enzymes and nutrients by not heating them. That's the theory at least. However, I haven't tried soaking or eating oats.

Little Les:
I usually soak about a quarter cup each of buckwheat grains, wheatberries and lentils, and then I'll eat them over the next 2-3 days as they sprout. And I've done them in all sorts of ways. At first I spread them out carefully on paper towels, but after a few days I was just leaving them piled up in a plastic cup. They are all hardy grains/legumes and they still sprouted easily.

And rinsing them just helps discourage mold from growing on them, and it also adds extra moisture in case the grains start to dry out.

Carol, thanks for the input. I think I'll work up a post on that very subject now that it seems there's some interest from readers.

Janet, actually it's not off-topic at all! I have a bag of mung beans here too, I just haven't had the chance to work them into my "raw week." Once I regain my senses :) I'll try sprouting them too.


The Diva on a Diet said...

Add me to the list of those curious about the breakfast shake and the sprouted grains. It sounds like a really good, hearty way to start the day even if you're not doing an entirely raw diet. I'd certainly give it a try, particularly as it was so filling.

The journey continues ... and I'm enjoying the ride! Thanks for taking us along, Dan!

Jim Hohl said...

So is that spinach smoothie the so-called "green smoothie" you mentioned before? I'm thinking I'll do this next week too. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Daniel said...

Thanks Diva, for your positive vibes!

Jim: Yes, one of them. But the phrase "green smoothie" is simply a euphemism for any smoothie that is made with greens--spinach, collards, kale, whatever--and like today's smoothie, it technically doesn't even have to be green in color. It just depends on the ratio of green things to other colored things in the smoothie, if you know what I mean.


Melissa said...

Avocados sometimes taste that magical to me as it is. Curious to hear more about your consumption.

I'm floored at how full you stayed. And yet, somehow not. I mean, I always figured, instinctively, that the body would welcome eating raw foods. It's just so hard for me to imagine giving everything up. I'm spoiled.

And re. Laura and the dark chocolate... *snort*. I'm totally laughing at you. ;)

Daniel said...

Hi Melissa: what's funny was this was just a regular avocado, not even a really good one.

And yeah, Laura was laughing at me too... fortunately she was kidding about taking my chocolate.

Amber said...

I'm going to be very interested in your posts this week! I just decided to start sprouting my own wheat berries. I'm using mine for sprouted grain bread, but I may just try them out raw based on your experience! Thanks for documenting this.

Leigh said...

Daniel, this is neat! Sprouted grains and legumes are something I know absolutely nothing about, so I'm excited to read along and see what happens.

Daniel said...

Amber, you'll be shocked at how wheat berries change in taste over the course of 4-5 days of sprouting. The grains get sweeter and sweeter as they grow, and as more of the seed changes over to starch.

Leigh, thanks for your kind words! Hopefully we'll all learn something over the course of this week. That's what Casual Kitchen is all about.


Priscilla said...

Hi Daniel, I wonder how many total calories you consumed on day 1?

To think that you were satiated for almost an entire day is reason enough for me to be curious about soaking and sprouting grains. I often feel like I'm low on energy throughout the day - I wonder if introducing some of these smoothies in my regular diet would increase my energy level? And make me lose weight?! Whoohoo, might have to try it myself!

Carry on, Dan! I want to hear how the rest of your week goes!

Daniel said...

Hi Priscilla, I would definitely encourage you to try working soaked or sprouted wheat berries into your diet for energy.

To answer your question, I don't have a good sense of how many calories I consumed on Day 1. I consumed as much as I wanted to, and based on my and most readers' impressions on Day 2, it was actually less food than I really needed. That alone has implications for the dieters out there. Stay tuned!


Taz said...

I'm definitely keen to hear about the sprouted grains too! Not sure if I could do a week at this stage, but I'd give a few days a go :)