Saturday, October 30, 2010

Feelin' Groooovy!!


I have been high raw for almost a full week and I have to say I am really feelin' the raw love!


My sister had a bus like this back in the day-
 minus the groovy paint job.
I decided this time around, no rules, no ultimatums, just doing it the best that I can and not stressing too much over the other things that I eat. I know from past experience that if I eat more raw, eventually the other food will drop away on it's own. 


In the past I have set out to do all smoothies for a period of time, 30 days raw and all kinds of other things. I think now I am maybe a little bit wiser at least about myself enough to know that I just need to focus on the basics and adding in more raw instead of focusing on what to eliminate and percentages.


I have given myself a plank to walk instead of a tight rope and so far it's working!


What I Have Been Doing:
I eat breakfast first thing. Believe it or not this was not a pattern for me before. I have a green smoothie or even just a Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothies if I feel like it, or a bowl of Fresh Muesli which is a new fav! (recipes for both are below)


Lunch has been sort of whatever is at hand and I haven't focused much on that but then dinner I have been making either raw soup and a salad or this week I added a raw spaghetti marinara and zucchini pasta- like I said easy recipes! I am working on making preparing food a new habit. I have found these meals to be more than enough food. Rich has really enjoyed this too and says that these have been his favorite meals in a long time. Surprise!


Plus we have not been eating out in restaurants- Thank you very much!


Also I don't know why but soon as my mind decides to change my diet, all of a sudden I am craving sweets. I guess it's just a hold over mentality from previous diet days where the first thing my mind worries about is that I will never have a treat again. So this week I have had a heightened sweet tooth, which is probably where the Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie came from (and boy was it good!) I have made chocolate mousse and frozen it- which is delicious by the way. I made banana ice cream with pecans or raspberries. Funny though I have not eaten much of this- but I know it's there for me if I need it. I have made my favorite date dip aka "Caramel Dip" and have been chowing down on Honey Crisp apples- yum! (recipe below)


Like I said it's been almost a week and this is what I have experienced this far:
  • Lately I have been fighting the cortisol surge that keeps me up all night and sleeping most of the day. But the last couple of days I have actually fallen asleep around 10 pm and slept all night, waking up refreshed and ready for the day. That is HUGE people!
  • I have noticed that my asthma symptoms have disappeared and my breathing is better.
  • I have noticed that my stomach actually growls when I'm hungry or before bed and I just let it!
  • When I eat raw I feel energized afterwards.
  • When I eat cooked I feel stuffed (even when not overeating) and really tired.
  • This one really surprised me:
  • The other day I forgot to eat lunch because I was full from breakfast and then found myself starving late afternoon. I was out and about and fully intended to go through a drive through for instant satisfaction but really couldn't think of anything that sounded appealing. When I pulled over and thought about what I really felt like eating, I ended up at the grocery store buying grapes and strawberries! Talk about fast food! It totally hit the spot!
I know it hasn't been much time but the differences are really noticeable.
So that's my update for now.  Now for the good stuff...
Recipes:

Simple Ingredients
 Fresh Muesli
1/4 cup whole raw Almonds
2 Tbsp Pumpkin Seeds
1 Apple- diced (lately I am loving Honey Crisp apples)
1 Tbsp Raisins or cran raisins
1 Tbsp shredded unsweetened Coconut
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 pinch of Sea Salt


In a food processor with s- blade, mix all ingredients together. Pulse until coarsely chopped or longer for a smoother consistency but not too long as to get mushy. This couldn't be easier!
Fresh Muesli with Maple Pecan Cream
Top with Maple Pecan Cream if you like.


Maple- Pecan Cream
1/2 cup Pecans
1/2 cup Water
2 tbsp Maple Syrup


Blend all in high speed  blender until smooth. Extra cream will keep in fridge for up to 5 days.
Get Naked Fast! A Guide to Stripping Away the Foods That Weigh You Down
Muesli Recipe Inspired by Diana Stobo's book, 
Get Naked Fast! A Guide to Stripping Away the Foods That Weigh You Down


Caramel Dip with Apple and Crushed Pecans- Yum!
Date Paste aka Caramel Dip
If it wasn't for this, I don't know how I would get through most days!


Most of the time I just take dates that are soft (if they don't squish easily between your fingers  you need to soak them for about an hour in water with a little lemon juice if you have it but the lemon is not necessary.) When nice and soft, cut open and remove the pit and hard "cap" where it attached to stem, if present.


Blend in food processor with enough water to make date paste. If it has chunks then dates were not soft enough. Chunky is ok but next time soak longer or get fresher dates if possible. This works better in a smaller food processor or with a bigger batch.


Medjool on left, Khadrawi on right
See how the Khadrawi is plumper?
Personally I try to get Khadrawi dates from the farmer's market- they are like butter and so wonderful to work with. I never need to soak them.


Date paste can be kept covered in fridge for a couple of days. It is a good thing to keep on hand in the freezer though for recipes or sudden snack attacks!


The Best Caramel Dip
this one is a little more involved but really worth it!


1 cup pitted Dates (soaked if necessary)
1/4- 1/2 cup Almond Milk (can be purchased in most stores or look here to make your own.)
1 tsp Coconut oil
1 dash Sea Salt
1 tsp Vanilla


Blend dates starting with 1/4 cup of the milk and see how it blends. Add more if necessary to get the right consistency.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
This is from Raw Dawg Rory's video posted below
(warning he looks a lot different than he does now ;-)


2 cups Water
1 cup Ice
1 frozen Banana
4 tbsp Tahini or Almond Butter would work too
4 Tbsp Honey or Agave Syrup
4 Tbsp raw Cacao or unsweetened Cocoa or Carob
1/4 tsp Vanilla
Blend and enjoy!

Here's Raw Dawg doing that thing he does so well!


I will be adding some basic soup recipes next so keep an eye out for that!


Till then .....Peace out!





Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cha Cha Cha Chia!!!


If you were around at all during the 80’s you remember the commercials for this silly looking terracotta figurine that once slathered with seeds and watered grew into a fuzzy green hairy figurine. Since then they have even expanded the line beyond pets to include the heads of Brittany Spears and even President Obama. Can you believe it?!

But what you might not have heard is that chia seeds are amazingly good for you! 

As a matter of fact they are a super food that ancient civilizations literally survived on and because it was important enough to them to include in religious ceremonies it was banned by conquering cultures and nearly forgotten about for centuries.

Lucky for us it has been making a huge comeback.

So what is it?
Chia seeds are tiny seeds that come from a desert sage plant (Salvia Hispanica) that is a member of the mint family and grows in southern Mexico and other areas of the southwest.

Chia is the Mayan word for strength. It is said that in pre-Columbian times, chia seeds were used in Aztec and Mayan diets and were known to provide energy to warriors and messengers. It was used as a basic survival ration for Aztec warriors with supposedly one tablespoon of seeds being able to sustain a person for 24 hours.

Who should be interested in chia?


Anyone who wants to:
  • Keep blood sugar and blood pressure under control
  • Improve hydration and retain electrolytes, especially during exertion
  • Gain energy and stamina
  • Improve endurance
  • Induce weight loss
  • Reduce cravings
  • Protect against inflammation and heart disease
  • Improve intestinal regularity

According to the Chia Cheat SheetChia Cheat Sheet Chart, by Angela Stokes from The Raw Food World


Chia seeds are said to have:
  • 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain.
  • 5 times the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that helps calcium into your bones.
  • 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas
  • 3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • Copious amounts of omega 3 and omega 6, (which are the essential fatty acids that protect against inflammation and heart disease.)
  • They are a complete source of protein.
  • Fabulous source of soluble fiber- just 2 tablespoons provide 7 g of fiber
So what do you do with it?

First off it is recommended to get organic seeds from a reputable supplier and not from a chia pet kit.!! The The Raw Food World is a good source but you can also find it in most health food stores now a days as well.

Chia is easy to add into your diet. It is relatively inexpensive and has a really mild nutty flavor which makes it easy to add into any food or drink. It absorbs the flavor from any liquid it absorbs. 

Unlike flax seeds which are very perishable, chia seeds keep for a very long time if kept dry- like up to 5 years. Also unlike flax seeds, chia seeds don’t have to be ground to be consumed.

Just sprinkle whole or ground over your salads, cereals, or any other food you enjoy or make recipes like the ones listed here.

Some favorite ways to prepare chia:

Chia Gel:
Mix 1/3 cup chia seeds with 2 cups of water. Stir until it is no longer clumping. In under 10 minutes, chia seeds will absorb 9-12 times their weight in water. Wait at least 10 minutes to use it so that the seeds fully absorb the water, the longer the better.  If covered the gel will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

We add this gel (about 2 tablespoons a serving) to smoothies or juice. Not only does it hydrate and provide all the other benefits but it also slows down any blood sugar spike associated with the juice or smoothie.


Chia Cinnamon Raisin Pudding:
¼ cup chia seeds
11/2 cups almond mylk (to see how to make fresh click here)
2 tsp agave syrup (can use honey)
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp raisins ( I used cranberries here)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
mix together in a bowl and wait at least 10 minutes.

I usually make this the night ahead, cover and place in the fridge for the morning. It has a creamy tapioca like consistency.


Chia Fresca:
2 tsp chia seeds
10 oz of pure water
juice of one lemon or lime
agave syrup or honey to taste.

Mix the seeds into the water and stir until seeds have expanded somewhat. Then add the juice and sweetener to taste.

It is a little funky at first with the seeds floating around but really it's no big deal.

This is a very popular drink in modern day Mexico.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Green Smoothies, The Basics

If you do only one thing to improve your diet, starting your day with a green smoothie will make a major difference in how you feel and how you eat the rest of the day.

Raw green leafy vegetables are sooo good for us! But how can you get them into your diet without all that chewing on salads? By drinking them! Blend them into a delicious smoothie with fruit and you won’t even taste them. No added oils like salads. Easy to make. Easy to digest. Full of valuable nutrients and fiber. Delicious! You will be surprised that even kids will love them.



Basic Formula
2 cups water, 2 cups greens, 2-3 cups fruit


Get creative with any combo you like.
If it tastes too green, just add more fruit until you like it.


A good one to start with:

Berry Banana
2 cups water,
1 cup strawberries,
2 bananas (can be frozen),
handful of baby spinach

Throw it all into a blender and blend until smooth.




Some of Our Favorites:

Mangolicious (my current fav!)
2 cups water (or coconut water- I prefer fresh young thai coconuts), 2 handfuls of spinach leaves , 2 cups mango, 2 bananas (Pineapple is good in this too!)

Orangey Peachy
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 cup water, 2-3 romaine leaves, 2 cups peaches

Berrylicious
2 cups water, 2-3 kale leaves (no stems), 1 apple or pear, 1-2 cups mixed berries

Gone Bananas
2 cups water, 3 bananas, handful of spinach

Raspberry Goodness
1 cup water, ½ cup raspberries, 1 pear, 2 bananas, handful of kale

Apple-Kale-Lemon

4 apples,
 ½ lemon juice,
 handful of kale,
 2 cups water

Just Peachy
6 peaches, 2 handfuls of spinach, 2 cups water

I could go on and on- the possibilities are endless. Experiment and find your favorite!






Pour them into popsicle molds for frozen treats!








Green Smoothie Tips:

Don’t try to be brave and go too green at first.
If you don’t like it, you won’t drink it and then you are not helping yourself at all.
Add more fruit until you like it. With time you will want more greens. Promise!

Milder greens tend to be spinach, romaine and chard so start there. Kale is the powerhouse though!
Rotate your greens every few days and keep trying different ones.
Harder stems, like the ones on chard or kale tend to be bitter so just use the leaf part.
With a regular blender, blend greens with water first until not so leafy-then add in the fruit.

Organic is always best. Try to at least use organic greens and if your fruit is not organic, keep to the ones with the thicker peels that get removed.
Frozen fruit is fine. I tend to keep peeled chopped bananas in the freezer and use as ice or to thicken.
Bananas or mango make it creamy and keep it from separating.
Apples, Pears or Grapes make it sweeter.
Also to sweeten you can add dates, figs or stevia to taste.
.
Keep it simple- not too many combos at once
You will eventually want less sweetness or even no sweetness.
Best way to store is in mason jars with lids filled to top. Will last 2-3 days in fridge so travels well.
You might want to drink it in a non-see-through cup at first if the green color bothers you or others.
Some kids will think the green is cool, especially if they help you make it.

Start your day with a green smoothie and not only will you have more energy but you will find that you will start craving more fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Give your children an advantage in school by boosting brain power and energy with smoothies for breakfast. Their teachers will thank you!


You can always tell someone who drinks green smoothies regularly because their skin glows. It’s true!


Victoria Boutenko
For the source of Green Smoothie information, check out Victoria Boutenko’s books.

The one that started it all: Green for Life,
and the follow up: Green Smoothie Revolution.

Victoria pioneered the whole Green Smoothie Revolution and has all the reasons why to drink them and many more recipes including the savory smoothies and soups in her books.

Or check out the website of The Raw Family 



Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting Real About Going Raw

I’m not raw, not even vegan or vegetarian. Heck, until recently I have never even liked vegetables. So what am I doing writing a raw blog? Well what I am is a person that is trying to get well. Brian Clement, director of the acclaimed Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida says that, “people come to living foods by either inspiration or desperation.” I am the latter.

I became disabled five years ago, seemingly overnight and my life completely changed. I had been a complete workaholic and now I was bedridden and fearful that I was going to die. After 2.5 years of every kind of test imaginable and many doctors I was finally diagnosed with an autoimmune system disorder. The only help I was offered was many prescription drugs but I found that they only made me worse. On my last hospital stay, I felt the drug treatments I was receiving were making me worse. It wasn’t until I started refusing them that I got well enough to check myself out. Something was terribly wrong. I gave up the idea of prescriptions being any kind of help for me.

Luckily I did find help through alternative medicine and that started my interest in studying natural health. I have come to understand that my illness, like many, boils down to toxicity and energy crisis. My body had become overly toxic as a result of chemical exposure through my occupation and run down by an unbalanced lifestyle. My body was running on emergency back up life support and had become highly susceptible to any form of fumes or chemicals, including all medicine and even food.

The best time to work on your health is while you have it. - I no longer had it.

I decided to humor one of my doctors and went on an Elimination Diet to try to find the source of my food sensitivities. I eliminated all processed food, all animal protein (because now a days they too are processed with chemicals), grains, and even certain fruits and vegetables and was extremely surprised by how much better I felt. The difference was undeniable and was the start of seeing food in a whole new way. I needed to focus on eating only real food- unadulterated, unprocessed, untreated, pure natural real food. I remember the day I walked into my giant supermarket and realized how little real food is sold there.

I started looking into whole real foods and in the process started learning about the healing power of raw fruits and vegetables and something referred to as “live foods.” I learned that they are both cleansing as in detoxifying and also offer up life force energy- the areas I need help with. There is no mistaking that vegetables and fruit are known for their health giving properties. Think about it. Have you ever heard some one say,  “be careful you don’t eat too many fruits and vegetables!” No. But how do you eat only that and feel satisfied?

I started dabbling with my diet almost 2 years ago and when I say dabbling I mean, trying smoothies, eating more fruit and salads and trying out this different way of preparing food that they call “raw.” I have not been consistent but when I have eaten what they call “high raw” it is amazing the quality of health that returns to me. Symptoms I didn’t even know I had disappeared. The life long eczema that I had is now gone. The seasonal allergies no longer exist. Colds and flus just don’t happen. The clarity of mind and mood drastically improves and energy- it increases dramatically. That is until I add the old food back in. Let’s face it, our society lives on processed food and it's a challenge to avoid it.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how it changed my taste buds. I now can’t go back to the way I used to eat and enjoy it. I’ve kind of painted myself into a corner. I no longer like my old favorite foods and as an added incentive I have become even more sensitive to them to the point of sometimes getting hives or an upset stomach after eating a cooked meal, bread or dairy. Sugar now gives me a wicked headache. There is no turning back.

Everyone knows the only way to get rid of old habits is to replace them with new ones. But I really didn’t learn new habits- at least not easy daily ones.

There are many blogs out there by people that have made the switch, gone raw, are advanced with their eating and food preparation or others that have tried it and no longer can sustain it. There are others by gourmet raw chefs with beautiful amazing food and complicated recipes that truly inspire. Raw can sound complicated, frightening and really out there and at the same time kind of exciting but not always doable. 
This blog is about the process of getting raw and getting real about it.
Learning the basics of adding raw into your life to make it a sustainable lifestyle.  This is for the person that wants to learn a simple way to add more of the good stuff into their life, whether or not you are trying to convert completely. Maybe you would like to get the family eating more healthy without the kicking and screaming and even the kids too. 

For you the reader, I hope you learn about the process of adding raw and living foods into your life, the simple way. That’s my plan for myself anyway. I hope you find a higher level of health for yourself and possibly your family. For me, this is a process of learning new habits and sharing the information that I have learned over the past couple of years and am still learning. I know what to do. I just need to put it into a daily practice and that’s what I plan to share with you. I believe in the power of raw foods. I have heard too many amazing health transformations not to. I hope I can become an amazing transformation story myself.

You really are what you eat. I find that so empowering!


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