Curious about raw veganism? I chatted with local expatriate, Apryl Electra – musician, personal vegan chef, raw foodie and founder of Rawmacita’s – about her raw journey.
To refresh: raw veganism is centered around the concepts of veganism and raw foodism. Excluding all food from animal origin as well as cooking above 118 degress (Fahrenheit), this diet incorporates eating raw vegetables and fruits, nuts, grain and legumes, seeds, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs and fresh juices. Many have adopted the idea of diet through living foods to lose weight, overcome health challenges , reverse the affects of aging and reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.
Tell us a little about yourself and your relationship with the Twin Cities.
Electra: I was born in Burbank, California. My father is an amazing musician (and inventor!) from the Twin Cities who was lucky enough to make a living doing just that out here in LA. When he and my Northern California-native mother decided they wanted to have another daughter, they moved to Minnesota. My beautiful little sister and I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis and love that city to death! I’ve been writing music since I was six-years old and play a ton of instruments.
I went vegan in 2000 after years of being a sickly vegetarian. I became a yoga instructor in 2004 after practicing for six years and a year-long teacher training. I released my first full-length solo album in 2005. I went raw on January 1, 2007 and shortly thereafter began my personal chef career. In 2010 I released my second full-length album, which I played all of the instruments on. I’m very proud of that one! I moved to Los Angeles at the end of 2010 and began working as the vegan chef at the Los Angeles supperclub. I happily left the restaurant business and am now in social media and sales for a small, Hollywood-based raw juice company along with running my new raw vegan snack company. After years of people trying my cashew cheese and telling me they wanted to buy it I finally gave in and started Rawmacita’s.
What made you decide to go raw and how long have you been practicing a raw diet?
Electra: I suffer from chronic pain and lots of really annoying food allergies and intolerances. I had been vegan for many years before deciding to go raw in late 2006. One day I just realized that the only green thing in my diet was the occasional green bell pepper and that I rarely ate fruit. After feeling the countless benefits, I decided it was for me. I had more energy to instruct the yoga and fitness classes I was teaching, my pain was almost non-existent, I felt amazing.
Is there a way to do raw wrong?
Electra: I think, just like with any diet, balance is key. I went a little crazy with the fats early on. Too many nuts, too much coconut anything… it all made me sluggish. I think as long as we’re trying to get more fruit and vegetables in our diets, we’re headed in the right direction.
What is one of your favorite recipes?
Electra: I love, love, love smoothies. My favorite has always been fresh, pitted cherries, blended with freshly-squeezed orange juice and bananas. HEAVEN! I try to keep what I eat very simple. Minimal ingredients for maximum digestion. Sometimes my meals consist of lots of just one type of fruit.
Apryl also suggest raw vegan lasagna made with thinly sliced zucchini for noodles, fluffy pine nut ricotta, pesto, marinara and fresh basil.
What tips would you offer to those trying to incorporate raw eating into their diets or transitioning to a raw diet?
Electra: Read, read, read! I’d advise people to read up on food combining. That was something I learned more about a few years into my raw journey and wished I’d known about it from the beginning. Or, eat fruit for breakfast, have a salad for lunch, and then eat whatever you’d like for dinner. One could consider themselves a 50-60% raw foodist at that point. That’s not a bad place to be! People need to remember to educate themselves by reading instead of listening to companies promoting products. There are also awesome online raw food communities like giveittomeraw.com and 30bananasaday.com. Basically, if your food has a package or a label, it’s not going to be as healthy as a piece of fresh, organic produce. And, number one: be patient and forgiving with yourself. Nobody is perfect. We can’t feel bad about our last meal. Each time we eat, we get a new chance to do things right. I’ve had my share of setbacks, for sure. They’ve only made me more confident that a raw diet is the right diet for my body.
When you lived in the cities, what were some of your favorite health food stores and co-ops to shop at?Electra: I think at one point I was living in Longfellow, shopping at The Seward Co-op along with The Wedge, and then at the old Linden Hills Co-op for most of my clients. I also am a strong believer in supporting local farmers’ markets whenever possible. I’m spoiled now that I live in a place where they’re year-round.
What are some of the health benefits you’ve experienced from going raw?
Electra: Where should I start?! This might be too much information but, better menstrual cycles has got to be one of the number one benefits. Almost no cramps, no mood swings, shorter cycles, clearer skin. I can also train harder at the gym and see results faster depending on how clean my raw diet is.
On eating cooked foods Electra shares: Eating cooked vegan food, in my mind, is like skipping a workout. It’s not ideal but it happens. I have a weakness for pommes frites or a gluten-free, vegan pizza topped with olives, green peppers, spinach, and mushrooms. I also love avocado nori rolls with wheat-free tamari. I definitely feel the difference when indulging in cooked vegan foods. I get what I call a “cooked food headache.” There’s no fun in restricting oneself completely, but it doesn’t always feel the greatest. I never noticed how awful certain foods made me feel until I had a better state of well-being to compare it to.
For more info on raw food and a few delicious recipes, visit Electra’s blog RAWMACITA’S and follow her on Twitter @AprylElectra.