Friday, March 11, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Raw Food Travel: Jackson, MS to Nashville, TN

My last post concluded with the sun setting over the Mississippi River bringing our day to a close in the town of Jackson.
The next morning was day 2 of our raw food cleanse. I went on a jog while Evan made us breakfast: 
Strawberry-Mango-Orange juice smoothie
For one smoothie: 
Combine roughly 2 cups of fresh-squeezed orange juice
plus one mango
and a pint of strawberries. Simple and delicious.
Now that we had some sustenance in our bellies, we continued onward and upward to Birmingham, Alabama where we stopped at a market to replenish our stock of fresh, raw ingredients.
Open year-round.
Summer hours: Mon - Sun 5AM - 8PM
Off-season hours: Mon - Sun 6AM - 5PM
This market looked a little different than the small-scale farmer's markets we were used to seeing at city parks or in vacant lots with 10 x 10-ft booths of produce from a handful of local farms. This Farmers Market was comprised of produce from farms spanning the entire state of Alabama (and Mississippi) all of which held membership with the Jefferson County Truck Growers Association and reserves space in this giant warehouse containing 16 loading bays.
The actual market itself is located directly across from the warehouse in a covered shed-like structure.
It was quite long...
We finally parked the van, hopped out, and surveyed the Alabama produce that lay before us.
Gobs of brightly colored, nutrient-rich, fresh, raw produce.
None of it organic, unfortunately. Come to think of it, I vaguely remember the look of confusion that came over the cashier's face when I asked her if they had any organic produce. 
Towards the other end of the market, there was a section for Mexican produce. A sense of nostalgia enveloped us at the site: (75¢/mango!)
Green habaneros.
This looked interesting.
We left with at least a basket of strawberries, which is one of the most pesticide-laden crops you can get (and should avoid), by-the-way. Mexico really softened my ironfisted stance on eating conventional produce. 
Driving around, we observed the ramshackle state of Birmingham's periphery...
...neglected houses...
...dilapidated buildings...
But we did find a natural food store close to downtown named after what looks like a spring water delivery service.
1901 11th Ave South
Birmingham, AL 35205
(205) 933 - 6333
M-F: 11:30AM - 6:15PM
Sat: 12:00PM - 2:30PM
Offering a range of services - yoga, massage, clothes...
...pricey Dr. Bronners ($14.99/bottle)...
...and a dismal produce section. Organic (yay!), but lacking.
Oh, and I distinctly remember our failed attempt at refilling our 5-gallon water jug with Golden Temple's  water dispenser. They shot us down because we didn't have their particular brand of water jug.

We did find success at Publix grocery store, however.
We found an impressive selection of organic greens..., raw nuts...
...and organic nut butters...
Even Smuckers was on board.
We found some sprouts...
...and believe it or not, in all of my 26 years I had not once come across bagged kale. I have since seen it dozens of times in supermarkets across the country, but outside of Birmingham was the first.
Of course, the main reason we stopped here - the water.
Back in the van, dinner was being prepped. That night I served up raw-vegan sushi rolls and lettuce wraps with a thick orange-walnut dressing.

Part I: Raw-Vegan Sushi Rolls

What you will need:
- 1 package of raw nori sheets
- 2 carrots, shredded or thinly julienned
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 3 large portobello mushroom caps, sliced
- 2 healthy handfuls of your favorite sprouts (we used broccoli)
- 1 large avocado

Step 1: Assemble your nori sheets
Step 2: Mash up some avocado and smear on a nori sheet
Step 3: Lay down a few pieces of portobello mushroom strips
Step 4: Add carrots and green onion
Step 5: Top if off with sprouts
Step 6: Roll it up - be sure to tuck the veggies in as you roll along to ensure your sushi slices stay tight and compact
Step 7: Once it is rolled up, you need to seal it by using some type of liquid (apple cider vinegar, water, juice, etc) to moisten the end. I used an orange. If you use water or vinegar or soy sauce, etc, you can just dip your finger in a small bowl and glide it along the edge of the nori sheet to moisten.
Step 8: Let it sit for a few moments while the adhesive properties go to work and then slice into 1" pieces.
Do the best you can. Working in a moving vehicle is not always conducive to making clean cuts.
Raw-Vegan Sushi

Part II: Lettuce Wraps with a thick orange-walnut dressing 

What you will need:
- 1/2 an orange, chopped
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 large portobello mushroom cap, sliced
- 3 large leaves of romaine
- 2 oz walnuts - ideally, soaked from 8 - 12 hours in water to remove tannic acid/enzyme inhibitors

Directions: Literally, throw all of the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until sufficiently homogenized. However, here is the breakdown for using a highly incompetent Magic Bullet blender should you find yourself unfortunate enough to use one.

Step 1: Add onions and oranges into the blending vessel. Blend.
Step 2: Then the carrots.
Step 3: Then the 'shrooms. Blend.
Step 4: Then the greens. Blend.
Step 5: Then the walnuts  - be sure to rinse them first.
Step 6: One final blend (This diet is not always pretty).
Step 7: Slop a generous layer of sauce on a romaine leaf, add 'shrooms, carrots, sprouts, onions, or whatever else floats your boat.
Step 8: Then munch! (Gracefully, plz)
What happened next was a situation we will not soon forget. We had been driving down the freeway for quite some time when Evan looked down at the fuel gauge and realized we had neglected to fill up the tank before we left Birmingham. Just as he was bringing this to my attention, the van started losing power. Fortunately, we were on a slope of highway that kept the van moving at a good clip without any help from the gas pedal and what's more, the next exit was conveniently located to our immediate right (THANK YOU, GOD). As we exited the freeway and managed to make it up the incline, the van literally puttered to a standstill on the side of the road. We could see the gas station not more than 40 yards away. With one last oomph, Evan turned the ignition, the van magically started, and as we approached the gas station we coasted the last 25 feet underneath the awning and stopped perfectly alongside a gas pump. It was absolutely ridiculous.
Celebration feast
And the BP gas station forever etched in our minds.

We arrived safe and sound in Nashville, Tennessee later that night. Stay tuned for my next post to find out the controversial new additions to the van thanks to our amazing friend, Mashewshmalls!

I love and appreciate you.