It’s easy to eat. It’s even especially easier to eat food that tastes like heaven but gives your body hell in terms of digestion. Due to my work I often find myself eating out on a regular basis — too regular, in fact — and over the course of the last couple of months I have found myself to be borderline overweight, and lazy as heck. Finally getting up to exercise on a regular basis was excruciating, and the reflection that stared back at me from the floor-to-ceiling mirrors at classes I attended was rather disheartening. Still, I thought to myself, what’s life without good food? True, I will always enjoy eating out, eating with friends, and even eating alone, but balance is a being’s natural inclination; it was time for a food time out.
To be honest, when I embarked on a four-day retreat to The Farm at San Benito, it had crossed my mind that my daily dishes were going to consist of vegan food that was predominantly raw. I had signed on for a much-needed yoga and meditation break and was only reminded a day before by a friend that the food was going to be very different from the rich indulgences I had peppered my Facebook wall with. There is one restaurant in The Farm called Alive! that champions food that is all homegrown, “live” (think loads of vegetables, fruits and nuts) and created onsite, so it’s as fresh as fresh can be.
During my stay there, I even attended an Alive! food preparation class, where the chef shared with us some recipes we could do at home (I’m no cook, but it was nice to have the recipes) in the event we wanted, let’s say, a healthier salad dressing or non-dairy cheese (yes, very possible with nuts, miso and sea salt). The menu had gotten a lot more extensive: one could choose from the à la carte portions (their pesto spaghetti is a winner) or their set menu, which changes on a daily basis, for lunch and dinner. You can choose a two, three, four or go all the way and get all five courses. Don’t scrimp on a healthy shake or smoothie while you’re at it. A caveat, though: you are definitely eating food that is extremely beneficial for you in all aspects, you are providing your body with much-needed enzymes and nutrients, but the dishes do contain calories — so don’t think a five-course meal is going to make you lose weight, but it certainly is nowhere near to the weight (and whatever else) you’re going to gain from a “finger lickin’ good” dish.
Unless specified, you will not eat anything that has been cooked over 40 degrees Celsius on the menu. Why? It is believed that uncooked food retains more of its nutritional properties, and is easier to digest, giving your metabolism a much-needed rest. You will not find piping hot soup but lower temperatures will be compensated by taste as spices and herbs give you a very flavorful broth (as I experienced with the very delicious hot and sour soup) and even the potato curry was spicy enough without burning your tongue. Your plate is filled with so many colors and so many textures that you forget it isn’t cooked and you do get full, especially if you indulge in a drink like The Real Teal, which is made out of acai berries and high in antioxidants.
If you decide to stay a night or more (highly recommended) breakfast is another delight. I enjoyed their homemade cereals so much — the crunch and the sweetness of the granola, for example, made me not want to add coconut milk as I did not wish to dilute the flavor. Fresh fruits are abundant at all times even in liquid form so you can sit and sip them to your heart’s content if you’re not hungry yet. In the event that you want your food more cooked, then the vegetarian arroz caldo is a must try; it is so tasty you will not look for the chicken bits at all, and the smell alone will make you feel like the dog in Pavlov’s experiment.
So, what happens with all this (sometimes) raw food? Like I mentioned before, your metabolism takes a breather, as does your digestive system, so be ready for frequent trips to the toilet. Not to get into TMI mode, but your body needs to expel toxins so with this kind of diet that has so much fiber (optimal hydration is essential) you’re helping it out in a big way. In a nutshell, you’re getting the junk out of your trunk. A bonus? You will probably sleep like a baby, something that you may not have experienced since you were, in fact, a baby. Enjoy your trip to the raw side.
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For more information on The Farm at San Benito go to http://www.thefarm.com.ph.
Reposted from SOUL TRAIN By Katrina A. Holigores (The Philippine Star) Updated April 01, 2011