Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The better choice - on dessert

Last night I had a chocolate craving. It didn't help that the boys were having one of my favorites - ice cream sandwiches - for dessert. And I was tempted to have one too. But I thought, what would be a raw equivalent that would satisfy my craving? So I came up with my own chocolate milk - and it was delicious!

1.5 cups coconut milk
1 heaping tblsp raw agave
2 tsp cacao powder
1 tsp walnut butter
a drop of vanilla
2 ice cubes

Blend all together till smooth - I used my TriBest personal blender since it was a single serve batch - love that little machine!

Yummy!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Joke's on me!

I just realized that I made the "cheddar cheeze" with pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower. No wonder it was pesto-like.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bite Size Dinner

Ok, so I made Ani Phyo's Cheddar Cheeze. I must admit - it does not taste like or resemble cheese. It is more of a pesto. Maybe that was the sunflower seed contribution. Or maybe I made it wrong? But it was still very good as a spread.

I used my dehydrated flax crackers, whipped up a little chipotle raw corn sauce, and layered it with sliced zucchini, tomatoe, and orange bell pepper.


It was crunchy, fresh, and every little bit had a different flavor to it. And VERY filling! I feel like I ate a large, hot meal.

I had six of these for dinner this evening...maybe 8. Not sure, I lost track!

I've always enjoyed making an array of appetizers for dinner, so this was kinda fun!

I heart Ani Phyo

So, I haven't really missed a whole lot of meat, dairy, or even cooked foods. I'm not 100% raw, nor do I think it's even possible. But I'm sitting about 90% - which is pretty stinkin good!

I've read that the one thing most vegans have a hard time with is craving cheese...not only because it tastes so good, but becuse it is so versatille.

Cheese has always been my nemesis - I LOVE cheese and always have. So I figured I'd be in the same boat as the other vegans. Amazingly, I'm haven't been. I am not craving it.....such a relief!

But I did test Ani's "Rawmesan" recipe last night. Can I just tell you? If the husband didn't know it wasn't parmesan, I don't think he would have even blinked an eye about it. Cheese made out of cashews - who'd of thought?

Tonight I am going to make Ani's "Cheddar Cheeze" recipe and pair it with my freshly dehydrated flax seed crackers.

If I could just keep my hands off the leathery banana chips that are dehydrating, maybe I'd have some for later!

Day 11 - First Dehydrating Attempt

My Good4U Dehydrator has been running since 1am.

I made Kale Chips - see pic below. Next time I'll use less oil and salt, and not overdry them by an hour. But they taste great!

I've got some overripe bananas being turned into banana chips.

And I've taken my first go at flax seed crackers. I followed Robyn the Green Smoothie Girl's instructions. I tried to estimate her proportions based on her video...and then cut it in half. But my batch made four shelves of crackers - I was only hoping for two this round. So hopefully they turn out tasty and satisfying!

The little problem I mentioned in my last post has dissipated - yeah!

I'm back to the gym and super sore from yesterday's BodyPump class. So today I think I'll hit BodyFlow and the sauna.

Yummy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

TMI...

So, sorry to post this...but on the personal side of things...

The good: hardly any tooting going on around here!

The weird: extended period. What has always been like clockwork and only 4-5 days max, is now going on day 13...mind you, it's not bad, nothing painful or embarassing. Very light.
BUT !$%# @*&^$%!) &$#@ WHY ????

It's got to be hormones. All this fresh stuff is messing with what my body was used to...and now it's not making the right ones to stop it. I've added a little cooked food back in to try and regulate things.

Maybe starting pretty much cold turkey isn't the smartest thing.
I'm looking into it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

on Kitchen Gadgets...

My little food processor that we got for our wedding 9 yrs ago burnt out a few months ago while making french bread.

So I found a nice almost new Kitchenaid food processor on Craigslist for a screamin deal today, complete with all the attachments.

My Good4U 10 drawer dehydrator will be here Friday. I chose Good4U because it is comparable to the Excalibur in every way, but no irritating door to mess with. I'd love to get a Sedona, but for the price, the Good4U was the best value.

And I purchased a TriBest personal blender which will also arrive this week. I am hoping that this will not only be convenient at home, but will make my new Raw lifestyle easier when traveling, especially since we will be all over the country this summer!

I plan to pick up a few more smaller gadgets for slicing and prep, but I think I'll just hit Ikea for those.

Day 7 - Insomnia and Disappointment

It's 2am and I am wide awake. I've been tossing and turning for hours and seem to have come down with a sore throat. It's either the bug the 5 yr old is fighting, or it's my body cleansing and toxins storing in my glands. So I took an hour long epsom salt hot soak to raise my core temperature and sweat it out. I also took 1500 mg of vitamin C. And I'm sucking on natural cough drops to keep my throat hydrated. It seems to have helped temporarily.

This insomnia thing has crept in the last three nights - I lay awake for at least an hour before dozing off. I hope it's just a surge of energy due to the foods, and not a permanent new habit.

We went to Souper Salad yesterday evening for dinner - a place where there is enough variety that I'd feel satisfied, but not intimidated by all the rich dishes. And that held true. But I was disappointed with the flavoring of my salad. I chose vegan options and dressed it with olive oil and balsalmic vinegar - really the only options that I knew wouldn't have sugar or dairy in them. But it was bland, even with red onions & beets. Absolutely incomparable to my cucumber salad the other night at home. The saving grace was a baked potatoe with olive oil, vegetable broth, salt/pepper and chives, for dessert.

On a happier note, due to many requests Souper Salad will soon be offering powdered stevia in their sugar packet boxes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 6

Breakfast, from Ani Chyo's Raw Food Essentials:
Page 66: Super Chia Cereal

Chia Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
Raisins
Apple
Mylk

I added a little cinnamon and raw agave
and used fresh chopped apple instead of dehydrated
and I haven't made my own mylk yet, so used So Delicious Coconut milk instead.

It looks funky - but it is fantastic! The flavors and texture are amazing. I cut her recipe into thirds - and that was honestly a little much for 1 person.

Absolutely delicious.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 5

I've been craving salt a bit, probably since I've had quite a lot of sweet stuff since I started my Raw Experiment. So in my reading today, I found a recipe for dinner that really hit the spot.

I plowed through 154 pages of "Ani's Raw Food Essentials" today and learned a lot. Honestly, it's a bit daunting...all the dehydrating. If you want to have bread-like foods or crackers, that's really the only way to go, and still keep it raw, and it takes planning since the dehydration process can take 4-12 hours. When dehydrating you don't raise the temperature over 104 degrees, which Ani says is the temperature at which foods are no longer raw and start to lose enzymes.

One things she says that I like:

page xviii of her Introduction, "When people ask me how important it is to be 100 percent raw, I remind them to have an attitude of gratitude instead...If someone makes a meal filled with good intentions that happens to not be all organic or raw, it may just be healthier to choose to accept it graciously, rather than being extreme. Extremes cause stress."

And something I did not know - that ALL OF US SHOULD KNOW, no matter what diet you eat:
When buying produce, look at the PLU codes on them.

four digits = conventionally grown (pesticide controlled)
five digits beginning with 9 = organic
five digits beginning with 8 = genetically modified foods (GMOs)

I had no clue that those codes meant anything other than what code to enter at the checkout stand. I will definitely be paying closer attention. I don't think it's realistic for me to buy only organic - and my pocketbook knows it's not, but I can at least try to stay away from four digits and 8's as much as possible.

Tonights dinner:
Inspired by Ani's recipe "Seaweed and Cucumber Salad" page 153 of "Raw Food Essentials"

I did not have Seaweed and I wanted a few other flavors, but the dressing part was similar.

1 Cucumber sliced
1/4 cup shredded purple cabbage
1/4 cup shredded carrot
6 sliced grape tomatoes

3 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger

sea salt and a splash of bragg's liquid aminos to taste



Even the husband liked it, and it totally satisfied my salt craving. It was Asain in taste, crunchy, and fresh. Yum!

I am loving that I am not craving cooked food, meats, breads, dairy (cheese was always my nemesis before). All I want is a really good variety of fresh. And I'm down another pound, so that's weight loss of 3.5 lbs already, in only 5 days. Can't complain about that!

I had the husband take "before" photos of me today in a bikini...I'll post them in a month or so when I have a "later" photo to compare them to. No need to put my pasty white skin on the internet now.

Kid Success!

5 yr old boy drinks green spirulina smoothie (frozen blueberries, kale, spinach, purple cabbage, spirulina powder, liquid vitamin B12, dates, and a little agave nectar for sweet).
This should be in the paper!


He's got a little bug today - woke up at 2am with a 102 degree fever and a cough. Hopefully this healthy shot will knock it out of him.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Protien Misconception

One of the first questions asked to most vegetarians or vegans is, "How do you get enough protien?" And that was the first question I asked myself when I started researching this - before I started, I had to be sure that I wouldn't be under nourishing my body.

This is a summation of my findings:

When we eat meat our digestion has to break it down into amino acids. Which are the building blocks of muscle and cell regeneration. The digestive process takes a lot of time and energy - which is why most people get tired after consuming meat.

Fresh foods are packed full of enzymes which are by definition "complex chains of amino acids". But these are readily absorbable by the body w/o the tiresome and long digestive exertion that is required of meat. By eating a variety of fresh foods, you provide your body with all the amino acids necessary for regeneration and muscle growth. And what happens when you gain more muscle? You burn more calories while resting...which in the weight loss world is a fantastic thing.

So the valuable protien that everyone is so concerned about is actually not that valuable at all. It's more like a foreign substance that the body must turn into something else in order to use.

This guy (an award winning runner) explains it pretty well, and fast...

Why Raw?

When we think meal, food, eating. We think cooked. It's always been that way and we are hard wired to visualize a pot, a stove, or a microwave whenever we think about eating. And I am still thinking that way. But I know that will change over time.

The reason I chose raw over vegetarian or vegan, or some other "healthy diet" is that the act of cooking your food over a certain temperature - I think it's 118 degrees, depletes around 50% of the absorbable nutrients in it. And the longer you cook it, the less nutritional it becomes. So then, when you put it into your mouth, you are only getting 50% or less of the possible nutrition. It seems silly put that way, right?

It appears that the only reason we cook our foods is to change the flavor or texture. Or with some things like meats, to ensure there is no harmful bacteria. And because a good, heavy, hot meal is comforting to the body - especially when you've had a stressful day and just want to crash - a hot meal forces the body to slow down. Why? Because heavy foods - especially meats - take longer to digest. Your bodies' energies are directed to digestion, and much of your other bodily functions are shut down for a time.

I watched a pretty boring documentary the other day called "Food Matters". And though it wasn't exciting, it was enlightening. The idea that we can treat our bodies at the cellular level by consuming foods that are micronutrient rich and quickly absorbable - something that should be common sense - sadly just isn't. Seriously, when you put something in your mouth, do you think about how it will be used by your body? The film also explained the successful treatment of cancers using Vitamin C IVs - at ridiculously high doses. (Unfortunately it's been banned by law.) In a world where we think cancer = chemo. A natural and safe alternative is available, but it's illegal - how backwards is this medical culture?

So I have decided to feed my cells. That is what RAW means to me. Micronutrient nutrition - as often as possible. It has nothing to do with animal cruelty or being lactose intolerant. Though, it's nice to know that I may be saving the lives of a few cows, chickens or pigs.

What about the fam?

I have a family. It's not realistic to expect them to adopt this new eating style...or is it? No, not right now.

Luckily my kids and husband do like fresh foods. Though for the kids, anything with a leaf (lettuce, spinach, cabbage, etc) is off limits. Though they don't know it, they do get some of that in their smoothies. The 5 yr old loves my smoothies (the spirulina and wheat germ free ones). And I have been adding spinach, bell peppers, and other high nutrient packed veggies to their spaghetti sauce for years. They love all fruits and will gorge themselves on steamed broccoli or roasted carrots and potatoes.

For now, I am preparing two meals at each mealtime. Today for lunch I had this salad:
Romaine, nappa cabbage, onion, shredded carrots, black beans, tomato, leftover mango salsa, and a drizzle dressing that I made from coconut butter, almond butter, and sesame seeds.

They had cheddar cheese quesadillas on Flat Out wraps and a medley of cantaloupe, honey-dew, and watermelon.

I don't expect them to eat like a rabbit just because I am. But I do plan on easing them into a fresher food experience at home.

I will still cook them meat and buy them ice cream. They are kids afterall - and though I'd love to see them munching on celery sticks, I think leading by example will be better absorbed than restricting them from enjoying their food.

About me...

So who am I? An eccentric granola hippie, holed up in an off-the-grid shack with a self sustaining farm in rural Iowa?

Ha Ha - maybe someday!

But today I am:

Living in the city, married with two boys, 5 & 7. I work from home at my small business. I'm a soccer mom. I work out at the gym. I love hiking. We travel when we have the time. And enjoy our downtime just as much.

Someday I'd like to live a little more rural, with our own big garden and little farm for the kids to do 4H, a little less summer and a little more seasons.

But I'm just like most of you. Thirsty for knowledge and energy. Wanting to connect more with the important things in life, and less with the less important.

Photo taken November 2010.

Reading...

I picked up some raw food books at my local used bookstore...this is what I'll be studying for the next little bit:



And this one just because it looked interesting...hemp - who knew?


All 4 photos courtesy of Amazon.com.

I'll be sure to post when I try the recipes, and what I've learned about fixing foods I would normally cook, raw.

So what am I?

I still plan on eating about 5% cooked foods. Like seafood - I won't give it up. It's delicious and full of nutrients, fatty omega oils, and protein. And potatoes - can't really see myself eating these raw - but maybe soon.
Right now I am cooking brown/wild rice, quinoa, barley, & beans. But that's only because I don't yet know how to make them raw. Oh, and eggs. I plan on eating cooked eggs...but maybe I'll outgrow my taste for them as I move along this journey.

I am not completely opposed to meat. If I am stuck in a situation of choosing between something not fresh or meat, I'll choose meat. But my plan is to stay away from it as much as possible. It's difficult to digest and choc full of toxins due to the "American Way of Farming". See Food Inc.

So what do I call my eating habits? I'm not a vegetarian because I will be eating seafood and eggs. And hence not a vegan either. But I am cutting out all other meats and dairy. And I am planning on eating mostly all fresh produce. I will be eating nuts and seeds. And I'm not a raw foodist since I will be eating some cooked stuff.

So I guess I am a Mostly Raw Foodist. But I don't like it - it's a weird name, and kinda hard to say. I'll have to come up with something new.

Any suggestions?

Why change?

So why change my diet when I don't eat that bad in the first place?
Because I want to feel absolutely amazing - that's why.

And in only 4 days, I am happy to say that things are already changing!

On my old diet, even though it was pretty healthy, I still got headaches at least three times a week - sadly, Excedrin had become my best friend. I felt fatigued - a lot. I was irritable. My skin broke out in blemishes frequently. I wasn't sleeping well. My mind was stuck focusing on things that were negative. My reproductive parts hurt. I kept catching colds (three alredy this year!). It was taking way too long to heal from a fall down the stairs a month ago. And I was gaining weight, despite my efforts at working out at least three days a week.

Now, after only 4 days, no headaches, increased energy, less irritable with my kids, fewer zits, sleeping more soundly, less abdominal pain. Improved focus on things that are positive and fun, and less on a nagging emotional issue with a friend. Improved skin coloring and my face is not oily. Bad breath? - zero, zip, gone. And I've lost 2.5 lbs. Oh, and that little puffy double chin that I get when I'm feeling especially sluggish? Gone! My neck is sexy and slim. (more on inflammation and how our food feeds it later)

I'd say that's pretty neat. That after only 4 days on mostly raw foods, I feel a lot different. I am sure that has to do with the fact that I am cleansing (and yes, that means my trips to the restroom are frequent).

But I also am not craving cooked foods. In fact, the first day of this experiment I made steamed brocolli and banana squash for my kids and didn't even want to taste it. Normally I would love it. So I'm not really sure why that was the case.

Today is actually day 4

So, today is actually day 4 of going mostly raw. And amazingly, I've found it to be quite easy - and delicious!

I've never really eaten horribly in my life. My mom is a health fanatic and introduced me to lots of healthy options in my childhood. She's been on algae and beans since I can remember.

Last week a sample days food would have been something like this:
Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs and a homemade green fruit protein smoothie (frozen fruit, chocolate whey protein powder, spinach, kale, purple cabbage and ice)
Lunch: Carls Jr Single Jalapeno Burger, no cheese, no sauce, lo-carb style, and an Iced Tea with Splenda
Snack: sliced apple and sharp cheddar cheese slices, and maybe some ritz crackers
Dinner: 7 layer bean dip with roasted chicken and corn chips

Not that bad, compared to the typical American diet of refined sugar, meat, dairy, and corn based processed foods. But a bit high in carbs.

Yesterdays (mostly raw) was this:
Breakfast: Green smoothie (really green!) Frozen berries, purple cabbage, kale, spinach, liquid B12, spirulina powder (algae), wheat germ, an apple, and raw agave syrup.

Lunch: Mexican salad plate (cooked barley and beans, tomatoe, lettuce, onion, tapatio hot sauce, salt, and lime)
Snack: Trio Bar (nuts, seeds, dehydrated berries, kane juice)
Dinner: Coconut oil cooked shrimp with mango salsa (mango, apple, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, fresh corn kernels, shredded purple cabbage, fresh basil, and some diluted raw coconut butter as a dressing)



I think it's good timing to start this - the heat is settling in for the long Arizona summer. Because I am not cooking much, my electric bill should be a little less and I won't feel bad about heating up my home with my stove or oven so often, just to have to cool it again with the air conditioner. Plus, all this light food just feels good when it's hot outside.

The Plan

I've decided to go mostly raw for an entire year (and likely my lifetime), and blog about it.
Why? I was doing some research and watching some YouTube videos about different lifestyle "diets" and something that was said stuck with me. It was something like this: "When you eat raw, you are putting life into life. When you eat cooked foods you are putting death into life. Why would you want to put death into your body?"
So I did some more research on the raw food lifestyle and found it to be quite intriquing. Bodybuilders, figure competitors, 71 year old vegans who act like they are 30...etc. In researching eating for your blood type, (I am AB-, a very rare type) found that I would do well on a vegetarian diet and dairy. I've never done well on dairy. So really, the raw thing seemed like it'd suit me.
So here I go....wish me luck and hey, come back to see me often!