Known for his sunny, sexy songs, such as the Grammy-nominated "I'm Yours," Jason Mraz, 31, had a recording studio built on the 5 1/2 acre avocado farm he owns outside San Diego. Besides releasing a new album, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things, last year, Mraz published a thousand things, an eco-friendly book of photography documenting his world travels. Also last year, the singer-songwriter embarked on a raw food diet.
Q Do you consider yourself a strict raw foodist?
A The thing about my diet is I don't put a lot of stress on it. I eat raw probably 75 percent of the time. I just can't deny myself warm food, like soup or roasted vegetables, from time to time.
Q What inspired you to try a raw diet?
A A guy in my band found out that he had type 2 diabetes and felt that the only way he could help himself was to go raw. I did it as a partner for him so it wouldbe a little easier. In the meantime, I got hooked. It was so easy to make the world's most delicious salads. We had a raw food chef on the road with us for a month who turned us on to making our own hummus and cheeses and a bunch of alternatives to dairy, bread, and sugar. Once you kick sugar, you won't want it, because there are so many other sweet things to eat. Raw desserts? Forget about it!
Q Speaking of raw desserts, you posted a recipe for "Chocomole" on your blog. What is that exactly?
A It's the easiest vegan dessert I can make on the road. You mash up a bunch of avocados until they become a pudding, then add dates, agave nectar, some coconut oil, and raw cacao. You mix that up, and suddenly you have a delicious chocolate mousse. I discovered that I could truly kick sugar when I started to satisfy my sweet tooth with raw desserts.
Q You're on the road for months at a time. How do you stick to your diet while on tour?
A I travel with a very large knife and a Vita-Mix 4500 blender. I love my Vita-Mix blender.
Q How do you get the knife through security?
A Oh, I check it. I also check a special flight case that holds all my [raw food] powders and mixtures.
Q On your blog you describe what's in your flight case as The Movable Feast. Could you be more specific?
A I pack Vitamineral Green by Health-Force Nutritionals, Nutiva brand hemp protein powder and coconut oil, and fresh bee pollen, which I've been lucky enough to get at farmers' markets. Then, for omegas, I use Barlean's Omega Man, which has flaxseed oil, pumpkin seed oil, and lignans. For a sweetener, I prefer a dark raw organic agave. I also bring along maca powder and cayenne pepper. And I always travel with plenty of nuts.
Q Do you prepare a lot of your own food at home?
A Three of us live in my house, and we all pitch in for dinner, which is when my subscription to Vegetarian Times comes in handy. One of my roommates is always challenging himself to try the recipes and make them look like the photos. We start in the kitchen around seven o'clock, and it just becomes a mad cutting, chopping, stirring, and simmering hour. Then we sit down to eat, and it feels very sacred and familial. Another roommate is a raw foodist who makes the most incredible desserts, like coconut cream pie, brownies, cookie dough, and chocolate mudslides. They're so decadent and sweet; we have them for breakfast sometimes.
Q You took a year off after you fi nished touring in support of your 2005 album, Mr. A-Z. Why?
A I wanted to write a new album based on human experiences, not on experiences in the music industry. It had been years since I'd cooked anything in my kitchen or slept in my own bed. I needed to do those things. I needed to check in with myself and say, "Who am I now? What would I do if I went to the grocery store?" Because I had been living on room service and catering for so long, I needed a lifestyle change. So I just hung it all up and went home. It reminded me of the importance of what we call normalcy.
Q What propelled you to publish a photography book?
A Well, I've got shoeboxes full of Polaroid pictures, and someone said, "Hey, these are great, you should share these." I just wanted to let people see some of the things I've seen. The book contains images I've taken all over the world. Something catches your eye, and you stop and take a picture of it.
Q Why was it important to you that the book be packaged in an environmentally friendly way?
A I just think it's necessary to find an alternative solution so we can have less of an impact on our community. If everybody does their part, it makes life really nice.