Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
Every year I get my blood checked and an annual physical. Due to my healthy lifestyle, I don’t expect to find anything wrong, but:
a) it’s still responsible to get checked
b) it’s inspiring for staying on this path, and
c) what can I say? I like the bragging rights that come with great results!
I have to say, I’m extra excited because my numbers have improved since last year – honestly, I wasn’t sure they could, as they were already very good! I’m setting myself up for a wonderful future with easy aging. The great thing is, anybody* can get similar results just by sticking with a Raw vegan or High Raw vegan lifestyle. Now for the numbers…
My cholesterol is 96! The recommended number is to be under is 200 (if you’re comparing yourself to the SAD eaters that make up the majority of our culture), and if you’re one of those in-the-know, then you recognize that you actually want your cholesterol under 150. I did a big happy dance when I received these results. Coming from a family that has some heart disease, it’s empowering to see that I can make a difference in my health. The rest of my numbers are all superior as well, including my B12 which is 1194! The recommended range is between 243-894. I do supplement with B12 on a fairly regular basis. Needless to say, my doctor was impressed. (She’s not vegan, and this totally negated any concerns she might have had about getting sufficient B12.)
It’s not like I didn’t expect these great results though. Let’s take cholesterol for example. I don’t consume it… ever, which is obvious because I’m a vegan. There isn’t any cholesterol in plants. And, just like there isn’t dietary cholesterol in plants, there isn’t dietary fiber in animal products. As I like to say, cholesterol gunks you up, fiber cleans you out.
According to one of my all-time favorite books (life changing material here, if you haven’t read it, you need to), The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell…
Blood cholesterol is clearly an important indicator of disease risk… animal-based foods were correlated with increasing blood cholesterol. With almost no exceptions, nutrients from plant-based foods were associated with decreasing levels of blood cholesterol… Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol raise blood cholesterol, although these nutrients are not as effective at doing this as is animal protein.
Furthermore, blood cholesterol is not only an indicator of heart disease. According to The China Study…
As blood cholesterol levels decreased… cancers of the liver, rectum, colon, male lung, female lung, breast, childhood leukemia, adult leukemia, childhood brain, adult brain, stomach and esophagus decreased.
So… have you been getting your blood checked every year?
* Some people suffer from medical conditions causing extremely high blood cholesterol that can be hard to lower without medication. That said, a Raw vegan diet is a very important part in lowering cholesterol.
For those of you who haven’t entered to win the Lexen Healthy Juicer, you can do so here.
Monday, December 22nd, 2008
If you’re struggling to add more Raw to your life or you’re having some challenges sticking with it, here is a tip that can really help! Have your menu totally planned out for the day before you start your day. By listing everything you’re going to eat, you give yourself something to really look forward to, as well as a reason to stick to it. After all, it’s already planned out – much of the work is already done!
In the past, I’ve written about the important role a food journal can be. But, this kind of journal is a little different from what I’m mentioning above. A food journal is usually filled out after you eat. Some people fill it out after each meal and some people wait until the end of the day. I also keep a food journal of this sort, but I do it for a different purpose (and, I don’t do it all the time). This kind of tracking is useful for attaining certain goals, such as when I want to lose weight or when I get pregnant I will track my food intake to ensure I’m getting enough calories, nutrients and protein. Again, though, this kind of journal usually gets filled out as the day goes on. It’s different from a “pre-planned day’s menu” which can be a driving force for staying Raw and keeping motivated and excited to do so.
Therefore, while it’s only 2am on Monday, I’ve written down the food I’ll be enjoying. Today’s menu is filled with DELICIOUS, high-energy, Raw vegan food. Oh, I can’t wait! (See? I’m totally stoked about my food plan for the day and this will help keep me on track for sure!)
Here is my menu for today:
1 quart Plant Blood (kale, celery, orange)
1 quart Plant Blood (broccoli, apple)
Huge salad (romaine, cucumber, carrot, prunes, King Garlic Hemp Dressing)
Creamy-n-Soft Cauliflower Soup
Huge salad (romaine, cucumber, carrot, prunes, King Garlic Hemp Dressing)
Creamy-n-Soft Cauliflower Soup
Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
This post is short and sweet, because the bulk of the details are in the link I provide at the end. I saw a post featured on Raw Food, Right Now!’s blog and wanted to pass it along. This is good stuff!!! It’s important information whether you have diabetes yourself or not (if you don’t have it, it’ll inspire you to keep the Raw vegan lifestyle a priority). Or, maybe you know a friend or family member with it. Again, this is great information to learn and pass along. Visit this link, watch the video, and see for yourself.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
I’m frequently asked how I stay Raw with a busy lifestyle. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:
1) Green Smoothies - an easy solution. A great tip is to make a large batch of Green Smoothie in the morning and divide it between a couple mason jars. Then, depending on the season, pack a cooler (or not, if it’s cold outside) for your car, put in your Green Smoothies and go! This way, you’re always prepared and have delicious, nutritious, and energizing food where ever you are. I even take a green smoothie in my (large) purse to the movie theater! With apples in season, now is the perfect time for a Fluffy Green Smoothie.
When people ask you what’s that “green stuff” you’re drinking, take advantage of the opportunity to tell them about Raw food and Energizing Green Smoothies!
2) Packaged Raw food – talk about quick! When I’m on the run and don’t have time to make my own cookies or bars, there are some great alternatives. (These also make super snack foods when going to the movies if you’re not in the mood for a green smoothie.) Two great companies: The Pure Bar (I’m fond of the Chocolate Brownie flavor) and Laughing Giraffe (the “snackaroons” are total heaven). Both companies are available at Whole Foods or online AND make terrific snacks for those hungry kids when you’re out running errands.
If you don’t have these on hand when you’re running out the door, no worries. One of my favorite and super easy snacks to take on the go: Organic dates and hemp seeds (or any nuts/seeds)! Just toss some in a ziploc and go.
3) Fresh fruit & veggies – eco-friendly nutrition! My favorite grab-n-go foods: bananas, apples, pears, cucumbers, and red (orange and yellow) bell peppers. You can literally take them as is, no need for any extra packaging.
Daily conversation question:
What would you love to find at a yard sale?
Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
Living the Raw Vegan lifestyle is really easy, there is no doubt about that. Whether you’re eating a simple apple for breakfast or making a pate-stuffed tomato for lunch, it can take very little time out of your day. The key when starting out is to be focused and organized, which also makes it easy to stay on your Raw diet. I have found that half the battle for most people trying to stick to a diet is simply having things planned and ready to eat. Once you have that figured out, there is no guess work, making it less likely for you to fall off your chosen path to optimal health.
If you’re the type of person that isn’t normally very organized, don’t fret. Again, you can keep Raw super easy by keeping your meals super easy (eating fresh fruit for breakfast, fresh veggies for snacks, buying pre-made Raw cookies, crackers and snack bars, or having Raw food delivered to you). And, if you don’t have very good organization skills but you still want to make your own food without sacrificing exotic and gourmet flavors, no problem. This lifestyle, and any planning it requires for those kinds of recipes, will quickly become second nature to you.
Bottom line: the more focused and organized you are, the less overwhelming it is. Not only that, but the more planning you do, the easier it is to stay on course with your diet. A great way to do this is to get a special calendar dedicated as your “Raw Kitchen & Food Prep” calendar. Use this to schedule the food you want to eat 3-7 days in advance. Then, pick out some recipes that sound delicious to you, and make a shopping list. Next, write on the calendar any specific steps that need to be done ahead of time. For example, if you’re going to have a pate-stuffed red bell pepper for lunch on Wednesday, then on Tuesday, you need to soak the nuts or seeds overnight so you can prepare the pate on Wednesday. You’ll find that such planning becomes second nature after you’ve done it for about a month or two and you probably won’t need the calendar as much, unless you’re planning something special such as a holiday party, celebration, or maybe when you’re making a dish that is new to you.
The steps it takes to be organized take only minutes, which is nothing compared to the time and energy you will save.
Saturday, October 18th, 2008
Eating Raw and Organic doesn’t have to break the bank for you. Here are 14 great tips to help.
1. Keep it simple. Eating a couple of bananas or apples is an easy and inexpensive option for breakfast. As well, keeping your snacks to plain fresh fruit or veggies (carrots, celery, etc) will also help keep your costs down while keeping your nutrients and energy both sky-high.
2. Super foods can be expensive (goji berries, maca, raw cacao, etc) so keep an eye out for that. A good rule of thumb here is to keep in mind that with super foods, a little goes a long way. For this reason, consider ordering with a friend and splitting the cost and the super food. Personally, there are times I enjoy them and times when I don’t have them for months on end. I can really stretch a bag of raw chocolate or maca.
3. If you’re HRAV (High Raw, All Vegan) then you have some additional inexpensive options. Shop in the bulk aisle of your health food store for things like organic quinoa, lentils, grains, etc. Remember that you’ll likely eat out less at restaurants with this diet and that alone will help you save money.
4. Grow your own sprouts. This is a great and inexpensive way to add loads of nutrition to your diet. Load up on these for salads, soups, and smoothies. Very inexpensive. Buy the organic seeds in the bulk bins at your health food store or buy online. Fun! Learn how to grow your own here.
5. Buy nuts, seeds and dried fruit in bulk online. Check places like Sun Organic for increased savings as you buy larger quantities. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit have a long shelf life, especially when stored in the refrigerator or freezer, so stock up and save.
6. Check the store you’re shopping at for their own brand of organic. For example, the 365 Whole Foods brand and the Safeway Organic brand seem to consistently have the best prices as compared to the competition.
7. Substitutions are a great way to save money. When making a recipe that calls for expensive nuts, you can often easily replace them with less expensive sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
8. Be content with minimal variety. Organic spinach banana smoothies are inexpensive, and my Fluffy Green Smoothie (recipe here)doesn’t cost much either (especially in the fall when apples are in-season). Having something like this for breakfast, snack, lunch and/or dessert can save money. For add variety, change it up by adding cinnamon one day, nutmeg another, vanilla extract yet another. Throw in a date in or some soaked raisins for pizazz on other days.
9. Buy fresh produce in bulk. Ask the store you frequent if they’ll give you a deal for buying certain foods by the case. (Just make sure it’s a case of something that you can go through in a timely fashion so it doesn’t go to waste). Consider this for bananas or greens especially if you drink lots of smoothies or green juice.
10. See if local neighbors, family or friends will share the price of getting cases of certain foods. When you do this, you can go beyond your local grocery store and contact places like Boxed Greens or Diamond Organic. Maybe they’ll extend a discount if your order goes above a certain amount or if you get certain foods by the case. It never hurts to ask.
11. Pay attention to organic foods that aren’t very expensive to buy relative to conventional prices (bananas, for example). Load up on those. Make salads, smoothies, and soups with ingredients that tend to be less expensive such as carrots (year round), bananas (year round), zucchini and cucumbers (summer), apples (fall), etc.
12. Be smart when picking what you buy as organic. Some conventionally grown foods have much higher levels of pesticides than others. For those, go organic. Then, for foods that aren’t sprayed as much, you can opt for conventional. Avocados, for example, aren’t sprayed too much so you could buy those as conventional. Check out this list for more details.
13. Buy things on sale. Pay attention to which organic foods are on sale for the week and plan your menu around that. Every little bit adds up!
14. Buy seasonally; hence, don’t buy a bunch of organic berries out of season (eat more apples and bananas in winter). Also, consider buying frozen organic fruits, especially when they’re on sale!
Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
When it comes to the Raw lifestyle, one of the biggest hurdles for people has to do with social situations. To this I say… raise your standards. This includes your peer group. Family is usually another issue. You will always have your family (whether they are supportive of what you are doing or not), but your peer group you can choose. Hence, pick wisely. This is one of the keys to setting yourself up to win. Your life is typically a reflection of your peer group’s expectations.
Whether it’s family or friends, they might not be excited about what you are doing. The reason for this is because, typically, the changes you are making to better your health incidentally shine the light on their lifestyle choices. Important: This is not your fault, it’s theirs. You might never say a word to them about their diet, but you will almost certainly encounter people who object to the idea of Raw (and vegan in general) because they feel that their way of life is under scrutiny.
It’s a very strange and emotionally loaded issue for many people. They might take offense because they assume – through no fault of yours – that you look down upon them. This is the key issue: People do some crazy things to defend their egos. Many people will assume, from your dietary choices, that you think you are somehow superior to them… not just their food choices, but actually them. (This is most common among people with the worst diets and those who have never met a vegan, which varies greatly depending on which part of the country you typically roam.).
1) Stay strong, passionate, and excited about your chosen lifestyle.
2) Be choosy with whom you spend your time.
3) If it’s family who is coming down on you, be prepared with a witty and informative elevator pitch that will either get them curious or pipe them down.
4) Spew off your blood data which is probably very healthy (or on its way to being super healthy) and extremely difficult to dispute i.e., cholesterol levels, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. This is always impressive ammo.