The following was left in the comments section of my blog a while back:
I’d love to read a post about what you do when you don’t have a lot of raw choices around, such as at family gatherings, restaurants, etc. Also, does your husband or other family members eat raw as well?
That’s an excellent question and I’m glad it was brought up. I’ve been living the Raw (and/or High Raw) lifestyle for a while now, so it seems so easy and second nature to me. But, it wasn’t always like that. Before I get into ways to deal with situations and gatherings where there aren’t raw options, I’ll address the second part of the question first.
My husband was not vegan when I met him, but he was a vegetarian many years ago. However, when we met, he was on a steady diet of whey protein shakes and Taco Bell chicken burritos. While dating, I never pushed my vegan beliefs on him. The only restriction was that I didn’t and wouldn’t have animal products (or animal by-products) in my house, and I certainly wouldn’t cook them. He was totally cool with that. That meant that the times he ended up getting meat were times we went to restaurants. Over the months, he asked me hard and thoughtful questions, and I jumped at the chance to answer them. I knew he had a somewhat healthy mindset in spite of his Taco Bell runs (he was into restricting calories a bit to stay in shape, he wanted high protein for muscle growth, he didn’t eat a bunch of sugar and stuff, and he worked out almost daily), so he was open to healthy living options (so long as he didn’t have to forsake his muscle-y body). I told him that he should read The China Study for mind-blowing information about animal protein vs plant protein. He agreed and when he was done with it, a light went on for him. But, it wasn’t until we went to the Living Light Vibrant EXPO during our first year of dating (about 8 months into our relationship) that he decided he was done with animal products and by-products. He was ready to be vegan and to eat as much Raw as I wanted. He’s been that way ever since. He’s a huge advocate of the vegan lifestyle now and loves that our days are filled with so much Raw food.
Regarding my other family… well I have one other big supporter and that’s my mom. When I first went vegan about 6-7 years ago, she started testing the vegan waters herself. Then, as I got into Raw, she followed suit. She loves the lifestyle. My step-dad, who still eats an omnivore diet, loves when I prepare Raw vegan food and he happily gobbles it up. The rest of my family (who mostly lives out of state) are all omnivores, with a heaviness toward meat. The same goes for my husband’s family (some of whom live here in AZ near us).
All that brings me to the other part of the question above: What do I do when I don’t have a lot of Raw choices for family gatherings, restaurants, travel, etc.? The bottom line is that being prepared is the key. It’s the magic element. If you’re serious about the lifestyle, it’s so easy… you just have to take some time to be prepared. Being prepared means that I have food on hand, which I gladly take to family gatherings. I either have organic Raw foods stored in our freezer or I make something before we leave.
We’ve trained our family well. By now, everyone knows that when we’re invited to a function, we’ll bring our own food. Or, we’ll eat beforehand and simply bring some snacks. We love it. While our family eats plates filled with monotone colored foods that lack life, love, and nutrients, we fill our plates with vibrant, rainbow colored foods. It’s quite stark, the difference in our plates of food versus theirs. And, frankly, I love that. It’s like bragging, “Hey look how beautiful, fresh, and healthy my food is!” Of course, we always get asked questions and many people like to try a bite. I see these situations as big opportunities to show others how delicious Raw vegan food can be. I’ve brought everything from Raw pizza to lasagna (pictured) to hummus and dips with vegetable crudites to salads to desserts to green smoothies, when we’re going to family gatherings. Don’t you just want to dive into that Raw lasagna? Om-nom-nom!
I’ve found that most people want to eat healthy (at least they do some of the time), they just recognize that they lack the discipline, or the knowledge, to do it. Therefore, when they’re given the opportunity to have a tasty, healthy meal that is brought to them (meaning they didn’t have to prepare it, and that I’m providing it), they’re usually excited… even if it’s not something they’d normally eat. They usually welcome the chance to have the healthiest food in the world, which is what we Raw foodies make. Just because it’s not something they normally eat, they still like giving their bodies something healthy when the opportunity arises. Sometimes, they’re just curious.
Going to restaurants is a little different because it’s hard to bring food into a food establishment (they’ll sometimes claim it’s for health code regulations, but the real reason is financial, because they never complain when somebody brings juice for a baby, etc). Still, I’ve done it. For example, if we’re going to a Mexican restaurant, I’ll bring along flax crackers and red bell pepper strips, carrots, celery, etc to dip in their salsa and guacamole. If it’s another type of restaurant where I can get a huge salad, I do that, and sometimes I even get two.
There was a family birthday we attended a few months back held at a bar (greasy food, alcohol, etc.) and since I knew ahead of time where we were going, I made a quart of green smoothie and I carried it in my purse. I do this all the time. If the wait staff ever gives me crap about it, I say “I’m on a special diet from my doctor and I can’t eat anything grown with pesticides.” (This has never failed to shut them up… I think the medical aspect scares them in this litigious society.) Naturally, I don’t flaunt my food or drinks, and I generally can avoid confrontation. If it was ever a real problem, I’d leave the food in a cooler in the car, and just go out there a couple of times to snack, if I were that hungry. Again, it’s the training of family and friends that matter. They used to think it’s weird, now they think it’s just how we are, and it has become “normal” to them that we live our lives this way.
Travel merits a whole post unto itself, but I’ll address a few things here. When I travel, obviously, it’s harder to pack stuff to take to family gatherings or restaurants because I can’t bring my freezer filled with Raw treats or my refrigerator filled with my fresh Raw foods, with me on the plane. As a result, when we’re traveling and going to family gatherings, I sometimes eat ahead of time and then nibble on salad when we arrive at the restaurant. Other times, I go to Whole Foods to buy some packaged Raw foods (or bring foods with me in my suitcase that travel well like flax crackers, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, bars, raw cookies, etc), and I bring those to snack on at people’s houses (or have them in my purse when at restaurants).
Other times, if I’m staying at a hotel with a refrigerator or at my brother’s house in Michigan, for example, I’ll have Raw food meals delivered (see my recent post about doing this while we were in NY). This way, I can take food to family gatherings, or I simply have Raw food available if there aren’t any good restaurants around us. Sometimes, I’ll have organic produce delivered from a place like Boxed Greens. If I have a kitchen available, I can make my own stuff with the best ingredients. Or, if there is a Whole Foods, I’ll go shopping and buy some fresh stuff there. If my hotel room doesn’t have a refrigerator, I buy foods that keep well on counter tops like bananas, apples, etc. And, for things like the organic cherries and Norwalk juice in the photo, I keep those in the ice container with ice and water.
For our last lengthy trip, to NY, I brought along my Blendtec blender (it’s lighter than my Vita-Mix). I just packed it in my suitcase. It took up a little bit of room so my sweet husband packed my tennis shoes and makeup bag in his suitcase. We had a refrigerator in the apartment we rented, so I basically used the kitchen there just like I would at home. I made green smoothies, guacamole, green energy soup, and nut milk. I also bought things at whole foods like Raw granola for morning cereal (who am I kidding, I eat that stuff morning or night – love it!). We’ve come to appreciate the cost savings that can be had by staying someplace more expensive, but with a kitchen, meaning we eat out less and save money on meals. Even if the costs/savings cancel out, we’re still eating healthier food this way.
I also have this travel blender which is perfect for shorter trips. I love taking this when we’re going to be gone for a week or less. Last year, we went snowboarding in Flagstaff, AZ for a couple of days. When we arrived, we went to the health food store to get fresh organic produce. We also brought a cooler because I needed to keep the fresh produce chilled. I used the ice machine at the hotel and giant Ziploc bags to keep ice in the cooler. I also like to bring a couple of glass mason jars for us to use (and a knife for chopping). It all worked out very well.
Basically, what it boils down to, is that I really don’t give a hoot what others think. When I first started the Raw vegan lifestyle, I let everyone know, either by email or phone, that… “I’m doing the Raw vegan thing. I’m into healthy eating and I’ll be bringing my own food to functions.” I told them the good news is that they don’t have to feed me anymore so that’s more food for them. My health is my responsibility, not theirs, so how can I expect them to take care of me. It’s up to me to take care of myself. It hasn’t always been a breeze though… we’ve taken our fair share of dumb comments from our families. Heck, my dad still doesn’t get it, it seems. Just when I think he might be coming around, he says something like, “Well, you know, your morning sickness might not be so bad if you ate some meat.” And, to that, I usually say something smart ass back. I think my lifestyle just makes him nervous… I’m doing something right for myself and it causes him to question his own practices. Plus, um… he’s a gourmet chef who owns a restaurant in the Midwest that offers things like bacon wrapped steak (because regular steak was too healthy I guess, LOL). I’m guessing he’ll be the last person to go veg, but the cool thing is that he admitted to me recently that more of his customers are asking for veg options. Whoo hoo! (For more tips on the Raw Diet, Social Situations, and Peer Groups, read here.) Fortunately, other family members have gotten used to our lifestyle over time. The “comments” have died off for the most part. They’ve seen us live this way for a while now, and they even have respect for our discipline. Joke’s on them though… it doesn’t take much discipline because it’s fun and delicious!
And, truth be told… our lifestyle speaks for itself. We’re not only the vegans in the family, we’re also the ones in good shape physically… hmmm, coincidence? If anybody wants to get in my face about our diet, all I need to say is “it makes it easy to stay in good shape” and watch how fast they do one of two things: either 1) back down immediately, or 2) get interested and start asking questions out of genuine curiosity.
I’ll add one more thing about social situations and reacting to omnivores who don’t get it or dare to complain about our lifestyle. The following is a Washington Post article that I really enjoyed. Here is part of it:
I gave a talk in South Texas recently on the environmental virtues of a vegetarian diet. As you might imagine, the reception was chilly. In fact, the only applause came during the Q&A period when a member of the audience said that my lecture made him want to go out and eat even more meat. “Plus,” he added, “what I eat is my business — it’s personal.”
I’ve been writing about food and agriculture for more than a decade. Until that evening, however, I’d never actively thought about this most basic culinary question: Is eating personal?
We know more than we’ve ever known about the innards of the global food system. We understand that food can both nourish and kill. We know that its production can both destroy and enhance our environment. We know that farming touches every aspect of our lives — the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we need.
So it’s hard to avoid concluding that eating cannot be personal. What I eat influences you. What you eat influences me. Our diets are deeply, intimately and necessarily political.
This realization changes everything for those who avoid meat. As a vegetarian I’ve always felt the perverse need to apologize for my dietary choice. It inconveniences people. It smacks of self-righteousness. It makes us pariahs at dinner parties. But the more I learn about the negative impact of meat production, the more I feel that it’s the consumers of meat who should be making apologies. Read the rest of this great article here.
One last note… for those times that you just don’t have food prepared or you’re out of town and didn’t bring anything or you just don’t have the money to have Raw food flown in for yourself or you just don’t feel like dealing with people’s comments… I say that it’s very much OK to ease up on the Raw food and eat some cooked vegan. Be sure to keep it vegan though! One of the perks about living the High Raw All Vegan lifestyle is that there is a little wiggle room in there for social occasions.
Whew! This week marks my 9th week being pregnant!!!! I’m in the final stretch of the first trimester and my body is visibly changing with this little life growing inside me. I’ve been sick as a dog (all-day-morning-sickness) but happy as hell about it. However, there were many days over the past 2 weeks that I didn’t want any food… not Raw, not even cooked vegan… not bread… nothing! And, this coming from a woman who used to eat even with an upset tummy. However, even though I didn’t want to eat the past couple of weeks, I forced myself to eat. I had to. I was able to manage some fresh fruit, as well as a green smoothie here and there, but most of it was cooked vegan.
But, something has changed. Even though I’m still feeling nauseous (Monday and Tuesday were particularly bad), I have been wanting Raw food! I’ll still have some lentils sometimes (quinoa, beans, etc) for extra protein and such, but my body wants lots of fresh, organic Raw foods. I’m not in the mood for Raw pastas or things like that (although a piece of my Raw lasagna does sound yummy! I just don’t feel like making it. If only I could wiggle my nose and blink my eyes and magically my husband could make it!). I am craving big salads, fresh fruit, fresh veggies and dip, green juices, green smoothies… things like that. In fact, the other day, I made my famous Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce recipe and loved it up with organic Romaine hearts, carrots, and celery for three days in a row. YUM! (I also had it as a sauce on my organic cooked veggie burger —>>> DOUBLE YUM!)
I’m eagerly anticipating my CSA box on Saturday. This week in the my organic CSA, I selected:
Here’s a great testimonial for the power of the vegan diet. Rocco, a cowboy who loved everything meat and never had any green on his plate, followed Dr. Oz’s advice for a 28-day vegan diet. Check out the results. Thanks to VegSource.com for directing me to this video!
I’m not one to waste organic food… ever. So, when I’m done juicing, I make crackers with the leftover pulp, or I stir some into my dog’s food, or I give it to the bunny’s in my neighborhood.
Here’s a little quick video showing you the batch I made the other day.
I used my Breville to make the green juice (like only $99 bucks for this machine – so worth it). I spread the pulp mixture with an offset spatula (one of my other favorite tools in the kitchen, other than the fruit scoopers). And, I used my Excalibur Dehydrator to dry the Raw crackers (they’re the BEST on the market – hands down).
You can use any spices you have on hand. Be creative and try different combinations. And, use the juice pulp from any green juice you make.
The recipe I used below is:
For the Juice
2 cucumbers, 1 bunch Italian parsley, 5 leaves medium kale
This gives about 2 cups of pulp when using the Breville juicer.
For the pulp
1/2 cup flax* seed, 1 tablespoon tamari, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1 tablespoon mesquite powder, and 3/4 cup water (as needed) *The lovely flax I used was from a sample sent to me by Flax Matters.
This is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets (available here). What can I say? I’m a gadget girl. It makes scooping out avocado so effortless and FUN! They make GREAT gifts, too! (Holidays aren’t that far off.) :)
And, it comes in a pack of three. I use the red for avocado, the green for getting the greatest, longest pieces of coconut meat from young Thai coconuts, and the orange is supposed to be great for mango.
Now… some of you might say, “Oh, I can use a spoon for that.” Well, let me tell ya. The beauty of this scooper is that it (like practically every time) takes out the avocado in one lovely perfect avocado half. And, that makes it easy for dicing up when serving the avocado in other kinds of dishes. So, for example, when I dice avocado for a salad or a noodle dish, I need the avocado in as perfect a piece as I can get. Then, I slice horizontally in half (across) while keeping the avocado in place. Then, I slice vertically through in 3-4 slices. Voila, it’s like perfect little cubes. If you used to a spoon to get the avocado out, odds are, it comes out in pieces, making the dicing process not as nice and uniform.
All organic (except the coconut milk, but it’s non-gmo). :)
1 cup raspberries, 1 sliced banana, 1/4 cup coconut milk (not raw)
I started the day with this awesome recipe before heading to the farmers’ market for my weekly CSA of locally grown, organic produce. Yum Yum!!! I’m so proud to support our local farmer. It means the world to me.
1 tablespoon sprouted dehydrated sunflower seeds
These have lots of vitamin E in them… vitamin E is revered as the birth/fertility vitamin.
2 cups dehydrated, seasoned Kale Crispies
I love snacking on these. My mom and I had some in the car, thankfully, while we were running lots of errands this morning. We started at the farmers’ market at 7am. Then, we went to Whole Foods to do some shopping damage for foods we couldn’t find at the farmers’ market, and then we went to Sunflower Market because I refuse to pay $3 each for organic avocado at Whole Foods Market, I refuse to buy apples from across the world in New Zealand when there should be perfectly yummy apples from CA or WA (but Whole Foods doesn’t seem to carry hardly any of these and the very few ones they had were mushy feeling), and the final reason for Sunflower Market was that the coconut milk and coconut milk yogurt I like are much cheaper there! Unfortunately, Sunflower Market didn’t have good avocados so we hit up Trader Joe’s on the way home and found a bag of them there. So, as you can see, we were hitting a few different places and had to snack on something so we didn’t pass out from starvation! ;) Kale Crispies to the rescue!!!
1 quart Cucumber Carrot Vega EFA Green Juice
This was a delightfully refreshing juice made from 2 cucumbers, 4-5 carrots, 1/3 bunch of celery, 6 leaves dandelion, 1 tablespoon Vega EFA oil. I used my Breville to make this lickity-split.
2 Brazil Nuts
Dark Green Pretty Good Smoothie
I’m calling it this because it was pretty good – LOL. The recipe made about 5 cups. I drank 3 cups and gave the other two to my mommy. :) She really liked it. I used my mom’s BlendTec to make it (1 cup water, 1 head Romaine, 1 granny smith apple (cored), 1 lime (peeled), 10 strawberries, 2 large leaves kale)
Quinoa Protein Vegetable Mix (part Raw, part cooked vegan)
I made a big batch of plain red quinoa last night. Today and tomorrow, I’ll use it in a couple of different recipes. As you know, I’m upping my protein and fat a little to help prep my body for getting pregnant and having my next embryo transfer (hopefully later this month!) The recipe isn’t yet finalized. When I have it done, I’ll post it.
As most of you know, I usually follow a diet and lifestyle that is HRAV (high raw, all vegan) and always as organic as possible. The rest of the time, I go all raw. But… there are times, like now (traveling in NY), that I’m loving up both the Raw and the Cooked Vegan. I’m a foodie at heart. And, in NY, I’m surrounded by tons of vegan restaurants (some which offer Raw options) as well as a handful of Raw restaurants, and I can’t help but joyfully indulge. I’m like a kid in a candy store out here. I want to try everything! But, even though I’m eating a fair share of cooked organic vegan food, I’m drinking lots of fresh green juice to keep my cells happy and dancing. Again, easy to do in NY because so many places offer it. (Oh, and we’re taking digestive enzymes to help our digestion).
So, without further ado…. here are some details about our foodie adventures.
Our hotel is one block away from a place called Blossom. I’ve briefly written about it before here, and I need to write about it more. It’s organic vegan cuisine with a few raw options on the menu. The raw options are indeed very good, and the cooked vegan food is awesome as well. The staff is amazing and super cool. And… the green juice is mega delish (I’m in love with Field of Greens juice and have it almost daily). Needless to say, we’ve been spending a lot of time at Blossom.
Tuesday afternoon we went to the east village because later in the evening we were going to meet Gena (my new great friend) for dinner at Caravan of Dreams. We arrived in the area quite early so that we could walk around and check out Liquiteria (a super popular, wicked cool juice bar) and some other places. Liquiteria is hands-down awesome. They had a huge refrigerator full of organic Norwalk pressed juices – can you say HEAVEN? (And, they’re less expensive than One Lucky Duck’s pressed “to-go” juices.) I immediately bought one and chugged it down. Aahhh! Yum.
Then, we started walking down the street toward a neat farmers’ market, when I noticed a place called Stogo (pronounced stoe-go). I was instantly drawn to it because it said Gourmet Organic Vegan ice cream. Even though we were scheduled to have dinner about an hour and half later… I couldn’t resist. There’s this part of me that gets so excited seeing a business that is both organic and vegan, and frankly, I want to give them my business. I want to support them. “OK, twist my arm” (my husband says – haha) “let’s have vegan ice cream before dinner.” So, we did. It was phenomenal.
I admit though, that by the time we met Gena for dinner, I was stuffed (and I had only eaten a small ice cream – what the heck?). But, being the foodie that I am… I made room in my tummy for more great food at Caravan of Dreams. This place is fantastic. The inside is cozy, warm, and dim. They have plenty of raw options on the menu as well as tons of cooked vegan. It’s mostly organic as well. I decided to have two soups for dinner. One raw. One miso. The miso was very good. It was a big bowl packed full of veggies and miso broth. The raw soup was fabulous… oh my goodness gracious… the raw soup was fresh, clean, and so good. I would get it again and again and again if I lived here. I also ordered a crazy swamp-like kombucha drink that I actually was just not hard core enough to finish. I gave it to my husband. It was…. pretty ick. I mean, doesn’t it look swam-like in that glass? The ingredients were: fresh raw organic kombucha, aloe, spirulina, fresh green juice.
After dinner, Gena and I ordered some yummy tea. It was called “The Good For Everything Tea” made of ginger, cayenne pepper, lemon, and goji berries(?).
I knew that I had to have more of the raw soup though, so before leaving I ordered a bowl to go and ate it in the hotel room later that night. The ingredients: avocado, young thai coconut, and sea salt. That’s it. It’s fab! (Those are little flax crackers they gave to eat along with the soup. Not as crazy about those.)
Because of all of the food we ate Tuesday, we decided to fast a bit for the first part of the day while we visited the Museum of Natural History. Then, after the museum, we went and ate dinner at Blossom (again). After being on our feet all day at the museum, we didn’t want to venture far (and hello, we were starving!) so we stayed close to home and went for a great dinner and green juice at Blossom.
We went back to the east village for the afternoon. We found a very cool place called Cosmic Cantina. They’re open until 5am (my kind of place) and they serve all organic, all veg burritos, salads, and fresh citrus juices. Sweet! We stopped in and split a macro burrito which had a homemade whole wheat tortilla, brown rice, broccoli, tamari, and adzuki beans. It was quite good. Very clean tasting. If we get another chance, I’d like to drop by and try something else of theirs… maybe at 3am.
After that, I was craving my green juice. Since we were in Liquiteria proximity, we made a mad dash for them. I chugged down an awesome alkalizing green juice and bought two more for the hotel room later. That’s a picture of it in an ice bucket, staying chilled. It’s soooo good.
My husband has been looking forward to the release of the new movie “Moon” and it happens to be currently showing in both NY and LA. Score! We’re in NY! So, we went and saw Moon. It was weird and very good. A groovy story. After the movie, we tried another restaurant that I had on my list, Angelica Kitchen. We had sandwiches, miso soup, and kuchika tea. The tea hit the spot. It’s been raining pretty much non stop since we arrived in NY and the tea was nice, soothing, and warm.
We have many other places that we want to try… stay tuned for more raw and vegan foodie adventures in New York.
It’s time for a recipe! YAY! Here is a delicious, sassy, and unique recipe that is creamy and nutritious (ginger and hemp seeds rock!). This recipe is featured in my latest book,Kristen Suzanne’s Ultimate Raw Vegan Chocolate Recipes. And, the lovely Ingrid (of Raw Epicurean) also featured this on her blog with a picture.
Ginger is a rich source of powerful antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties, and there is evidence that ginger’s antioxidants might help fight/inhibit the growth of certain types of cancers. Not only that, studies show ginger can also help boost the immune system.
Hemp is commonly referred to as a “superfood” because of its amazing nutritional value. Its amino acid profile dominates with the 8 essential amino acids (10 if you’re elderly or a baby), making it a vegetarian source of “complete” protein! And, it’s loaded with essential fatty acids in an ideal ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s. Go hemp!
Hi! I'm a chef, author, homeschooling mom, and I love to eat and cook super healthy food. I'm a former vegan, now real-food omnivore, who enjoys coffee(!), dark chocolate, rebounding, and researching the latest tips for optimal living.