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Lately I’ve incorporated some new changes into my diet, namely some raw food detox “rules.”  I recently read The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose, and though I dislike anything labeled as a “diet,” she has some very logical principles.  I am 99 percent sure I won’t be going all the way, so to speak, with her diet, (I can’t see myself as a complete raw foodie – even though raw foodies do eat some cooked food) I am all for incorporating a few of her ideas if they make me feel better.

One change was limiting, and probably eventually eliminating, cow’s milk products, which I mentioned in my last post.  Another is eating certain food combinations and avoiding others.  The rule of thumb is not to mix these categories of food: fleshes (meat); starchy vegetables (potatoes, grains, brown rice, corn, beets, pasta, winter squash, etc.); fruit; and nuts, seeds and dried fruits.  Raw or cooked non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, garlic, carrots, etc.) can be combined with anything except fruit.  Fruit is always eaten alone, absolutely alone (poor fruit!)  and on an empty stomach. These food illustrations are great references and show how it works.

Exceptions: avocados, listed as a starch, can be eaten with fruit and dried fruit, but not with seeds; and bananas can be combined with dried fruit, nuts and seeds.  Neutral foods, which include almond milk, lemons, limes, coconut water, butter, oils and 70 percent or darker chocolate can combine with anything.

I know this sounds a little complicated, and I too thought what the heck do I eat? when I first read the book.  But it comes pretty easily once you start trying it out.  Sometimes it’s a little annoying to forgo what are pretty traditional food combinations (like meat, potatoes and vegetables), but once I noticed good changes in my digestion and was feeling better overall, it reminded me why I’m doing this. (Some good news though is that she says if you want to have a combination that goes against the “rules” every now and then – read: rarely – have that meal at night so you have the whole night ahead of you to fully digest the meal.)

The whole point of all this is to eat foods that digest well together.  It makes logical sense that every food is digested in a different amount of time, and eating foods that digest well together will make you feel better. (I know I’m not providing much scientific fact on this, and honestly neither does Natalia Rose, which automatically made me a bit skeptical.  But I tried eating this way and it seems to work for me, in my body at least.  And I have testimony from a friend for whom it works as well.)

With all that said, this pasta was created as a good combination meal for me to eat.  I was inspired by a Portobello garden pasta I had at Jason’s Deli, and it’s been so warm that tomatoes are starting to show up at the markets (yay!) So even though it’s technically not spring yet, the weather and even the produce seem to think otherwise.

Mushroom, Spinach and Tomato Pasta

  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 12 oz. mushrooms (I used about 15 or so white mushrooms.  I love Portobellos and Shiitakes, but sometimes the plain white ones are more economical.)
  • 1-2 medium tomatoes
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 3-4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups short-cut pasta (I used whole-grain penne)
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

It looks like food straight from the garden…I love it!

Chop the onion in a large dice and saute in a large pan for about 5 minutes in 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat until they start to become translucent.

Meanwhile slice the mushrooms, dice the tomato into pieces roughly the size of the sliced mushrooms (I like everything to be around the same size) and mince the garlic.

When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add another tablespoon of butter and toss in the mushrooms.  The mushrooms will start to absorb the butter, so if it gets too dry in the pan add a little more butter as needed.

Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the mushrooms are browned and tender.  While they’re cooking, cook the pasta according to the instructions.

Add the spinach and stir until it’s wilted. Remove from the heat and toss in the tomatoes.

Drain the pasta and add it to the mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil and toss it all together.  The olive oil and the butter from sauteing will make a very light sauce.

I added a squeeze of lemon juice and a handful of chopped parsley as a bright finishing touch, but that part is up to you.

This pasta is light, bright and satisfying.

Alongside a salad, this is my favorite type of meal: one that leaves you very satisfied but never stuffed.

It’s a little disheartening when you thought you educated yourself on everything (ok, maybe not everything but still quite a lot) about food and how to eat.  But as my dear friend reminded me, knowledge is power, and you can only benefit from learning new things about food and our bodies, even if it can seem overwhelming at times.  And really, I didn’t change much in my diet and eating habits, just bumped it up to the next level by correctly combining (in terms of digestion) that real food from good sources.  And my body is thanking me for it!

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