Raw Foodie | Boynton Beach, FL
SHAPE: What made you go 100 percent raw?
Judy Pokras: Well, from 1992 to 2002, I was about 80 percent raw. Then in 2002, I met this cute, really charming guy who happened to be 100 percent raw and also a physician. And...I wanted to impress him. [Laughs]
SHAPE: So you did it for love.
JP: Well, we never became involved. He was married at the time and then he moved away.
SHAPE: But you benefited from the friendship.
JP: Yeah! The raw food diet was really tough in the beginning. You can't eat anything that's been heated over 118 degrees Fahrenheit so most of the things I make are either completely raw or dehydrated at lower temperatures—between 95 and 105 degrees. After about 4 months, I was really into it. I'd gotten into the rhythm of it; I had the right equipment, I knew what I was doing.
SHAPE: Did you notice a difference in your health?
JP: Yes. I get sick much less often. I used to get colds several times a year. Now, I think I've had one cold in the last 5 years.
SHAPE: What do you typically eat for breakfast?
JP: I usually have a smoothie made of frozen banana, bee pollen, flax seeds, fresh or frozen berries or other fruit I have on hand (sun-dried organic mulberries or goji berries). Sometimes I make bread in the dehydrator from flax seeds, onions, sunflower seeds, zucchini and Celtic salt.
SHAPE: And dinner?
JP: A large salad made with organic dark leafy greens like dandelion, bok choy, spinach, kale or arugula. And then I may add tomatoes, sweet onion slices, organic cucumber, broccoli, mini bell peppers—the list goes on! Dressing may be as simple as a blend of extra virgin olive oil, organic apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice, Celtic salt and garlic.
SHAPE: Do you ever get sick of salad?
JP: If I don't want salad, my meal can be as elaborate as coconut noodles with Pad Thai sauce or as easy as kelp noodles with fresh marinara sauce.
SHAPE: How about the social limitations of not being able to eat what your friends are eating?
JP: The harder part is dating. When you don't eat the same foods, you can't make meals together, you can't go to your favorite restaurants together... it's a problem.
SHAPE: Does it take a neurotic person to go completely raw?
JP: Well, I am neurotic. Maybe my neurosis plays into it. I do think it's a bit akin to anorexia, but in a healthy way. I wanted to have some control over my life. I can't have much control when I'm working for someone else, because they dictate the corporate culture and what I can and can't do. I just wanted to be my own boss. It's funny—I wish I were as disciplined about other things as I am about the way I eat.
SHAPE: Is that to say you have no trouble sticking with it?
JP: I have no trouble at all. It's like my religion. I'm not religious in any other way, but I really adhere to it.
SHAPE: Have you had any cooked food in the past 8 years?
JP: Last year, my parents and I went out for their anniversary—there's this one restaurant that we always go to because they adapt one of their salads for me. My parents were so excited about the things they were ordering. They said, "Oh Judy, I wish you could just have a taste." So I said, "Okay, because it's your anniversary, I will have one bite of each of your dishes." I'm sure to them it was delicious, but it absolutely left me cold.
JP: [Laughs] Yeah, I guess that's a funny metaphor. But really, I like my raw food so much better.
Judy's Top 5 Tips for Raw Foodism
• Go all the way (or not at all)
"I'm even more of a purist than many raw food chefs. I believe that if you're going to do it, you might as well do it all the way. I look for the purest ingredients.
• Don't be fooled by raw food imposters
The USDA banned the sale of unpasteurized almonds in 2007, and you can only get them from certain places now. Stores are allowed to call them raw even when they've been pasteurized, and that really freaks me out."
• Depend on your dehydrator
"Many raw food recipes call for coconut, but most coconut that you buy has probably been heated at a higher temperature than the cutoff [118 degrees]. I put cut-up coconut in the food processor and then in the dehydrator at around 95 degrees and use that instead."
• Let the sun dry your fruit
"I look for sun-dried fruit because other types are likely dried at 118 degrees or higher."
• Get creative in the kitchen
"If you're creative, you can make anything. I make an incredible raw vegan chocolate ice cream. I serve it to my friends and they love it. They say I should make it a commercial product...but the business part of my brain is missing."