Carol Alt characterizes the latest stage of her 30-plus-year career as a “perfect storm of busy,” including the launch of her latest book, Easy Sexy Raw, and her roles in Woody Allen’s film, To Rome with Love, and the HBO documentary, About Face, exploring the relationship between physical appearance and the business of beauty.
For the past year, she’s been overseeing the U.S. launch of her skin care line, Raw Essentials.
How has your relationship with food changed over the years, and what role has raw food played?
I grew up like other kids on Long Island. Mom cooked spaghetti and macaroni and cheese. Dad would sometimes grill a piece of meat until it was dead a second time. On weekends, we ate pizza or Chinese takeout. I never realized broccoli was green, because overcooking turned it gray.
One day, I got sent home from a job because they said I was not in “swimsuit condition.” A friend recommended a physician that specialized in raw food diets, which was the first I’d heard of it.
So I tried a raw diet, cold turkey, and felt better immediately. Today I eat raw food as an antiaging agent and natural medicine that makes me healthier; it’s also a filler that makes me less hungry. My holistic lifestyle no longer includes any over-the-counter drugs.
These days, my system runs efficiently, like an electric golf cart. When I need to go, I go. When I need to stop and sleep, I sleep. The body can work phenomenally well if we just let it.
“Raw” seems like an easy diet to prepare, but some of the methods can take time and special equipment. What’s a simple starting point?
Using a blender, you can make everything from soup to dessert. Start with things like guacamole, salsa and soups. You can also use a pot and hot water (up to 115 degrees) to warm kelp noodles to add to a blended soup. You can make a mousse from raw chocolate and avocado.
Also begin to think of a dehydrator as a crock-pot that works while you’re away. It’s a simple option once you are in the habit of using it.
Of course, you’ll want to make all kinds of fresh salads.
How do you maintain your raw food plan when you are eating out or in social settings?
I look for foods that I know will be raw. If I have any doubts, I ask the chef. If there’s any question, I just don’t eat it.
There’s a bit of discipline in this. You have to eat on a schedule and make sure you are getting the food you need. I may lunch even if I am not hungry, especially when I know I’ll be dining out later. It’s important to make sure you are not feeling deprived and hungry; otherwise you may find yourself craving things like the bread on the table.
Do you ever miss cooked foods and sometimes indulge?
My diet is 75 to 95 percent raw. When you eat raw foods, you feel so much better that you don’t want to eat anything else. My one indulgence is munching on popcorn when my favorite sports team plays.
Do you have any final advice on exploring a raw diet?
Relax and have fun trying different things. If you cheat, it’s okay. If you feel deprived in any way, go eat. Above all, enjoy the adventure.
Beth Bader is the co-author of The Cleaner Plate Club and blogs at CleanerPlateClub.com.