Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Happy Holidays!

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

I’m enjoying the holidays with family right now… excited to experience them pregnant. :) I’ll be back with regular blog posting in the next few days, starting with a blog post where I have another awesome giveaway!


Cheers and Happy Holidays!
Kristen

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Monday, December 21st, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions – Yay!

by Kristen Suzanne in new year's resolutions

I wrote this blog post last year, but thought it was relevant to post again, although I did add some stuff. :)


It’s that time… New Year’s Resolutions are at the forefront of many people’s minds, including mine. I love this process – thinking about the future, planning, getting excited about the projects and things I want to work on. It fills me with hope and vigor. And, now that we have a baby on the way… whoo hoo! This year will be even more exciting!

Every year, my husband and I stay “in” for New Year’s Eve. We light candles, play fun music, turn on the Christmas lights and write our resolutions. I do it BIG style though. I take the opportunity of the new year and really take a look at my life and what I want to accomplish for the coming year. So, I take the practice of setting “resolutions” and kick it up a notch.

First, we get out last year’s boards (I’ll explain “boards” in a moment) and we go through everything we wrote about last year. We talk about how far or close we came with certain resolutions/goals, cross off the accomplishments, and use this info to help formulate plans for the following year.

We each get out a big piece of poster board (hence, the “board”) and work on our resolutions for the coming year. I separate my life into facets such as: Health, Leisure, Relationships, Finance, Career, etc. Then, I write individual short term and long terms resolutions/goals in all of these categories. I make the whole process really fun and go all out! I use colored pens, stickers, glitter, and highlighters. I guess it’s kind of like a vision board, but without pictures.

When I’m all done with it, I hang it on the wall by my desk so I can see it every day and be reminded of all the Big and Little Resolutions I set for myself. This REALLY helps me stay on track and MOTIVATED! And, it’s fun building my New Year’s Resolution Picture (i.e., the poster board). And, let me tell ya, it sure works for me! I get so much more accomplished this way.


Here’s a neat thought… The lady who does my prenatal massages told me the other day that her husband believes the way you spend your New Year’s Eve says a lot about how the impending year could be for you. Hhmmm… interesting to think of it that way. We keep it nice, relaxed, and calm, and I definitely welcome a year like that. Bring it on!

Want to get started on planning goals yourself? Here’s a popular site to help you – myGoals.com.

What are your plans for New Year’s Eve? Do you write New Year’s Resolutions?

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Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

5 Cleansing / Detox Options For The New Year

I recently had someone email me through facebook asking the following:

Hi Kristen. I am ready to do some kind of detox at the first of the year, but I can’t spend a ton of money on a “program.” I know there are natural ways that don’t cost an arm and a leg, but wanted to know if you could recommend one that you may have done before you were pregnant. I’m a big fan of yours and trust your opinions. Thank you so much.

As the new year approaches, I suspect this is something on many minds. The new year is a great time to start over, try something new, or intensify what you already do, and take your health to new levels.

So, I’ll get straight to my answer… There are many ways – for free (other than the cost of organic produce and equipment needed such as a juicer or blender). I’m only touching on them briefly in this post, but if you have specific questions about any of them, then feel free to post the question in the comments section. For great tools, books, and resources to help your health journey, visit here for links to my favorite products. Note* I’m not a doctor or nurse or medical professional of any type, so I have to tell you that you should consult one before embarking on any major diet changes… okay, now that that is out of the way… here are some ideas:

1) Go Vegan Cleanse
If you’re not already, then adhering to a delicious all vegan diet is a great place to start. By eschewing all animal products and by-products you’ll not only do your body a heap of good, but you’ll also make animals very happy, and help save our earth. Be careful though, it’s possible to eat a junk food vegan diet, and while that might help animals and the earth, it’s not going to do much for your health. Keep it clean, organic, and fresh! If you want tips and ideas for foods, let me know in the comments section. You can do this for 3 days, 5 days, a month, or the whole year. Just get started, take it day by day, and enjoy the awesome journey.


2) Go Raw Cleanse
If you’re already vegetarian or vegan, then step it up a notch and go RAW! Whoo hoo! Get ready for some major energy when you do that, too. By eating all of your vegan food fresh, and uncooked, you’re getting the most out of your food by way of nutrients and enzymes. As I wrote in the vegan section above, you can do this 3 days a week, or a week at a time, or heck, set yourself a goal for one month of all Raw. Don’t be surprised if you want to make a long term lifestyle out of it, most people do. You’ll be amazed at how awesome you feel.




3) Smoothie (Greens and Fruit) Cleanse
Want to go a little more hard core? Consume all of your meals in a liquid form with smoothies. This is a nice, gentle, and fun approach to cleaning our your digestive tract with blended foods. Basically you drink green smoothies all day (this can include blended salads, green smoothies, and even all fruit smoothies). Green smoothies are great because they’re EASY to make, you can store them for a couple of days at a time if you can only prep them a few days a week, they’re satiating with plenty of diverse options, and they’re totally delicious! You could start with going for 3 days and then seeing how you feel. Or, you could do it every other day, and eat raw vegan the opposite days to get started. You’ll need a blender (regular or high powered will work) for this plan – I’ve written about my favorite blenders here.


4) Green Juice Cleanse
This is for the more ninja folks out there who want to go all the way with cleansing and renewal at an accelerated pace. Essentially, you only consume green juices all day (once in a while you can do an all fruit blend, but it’s recommended that you primarily guzzle down the green goodness). This is harder than a green smoothie fast so maybe you would want to start with just a couple of days and see how you feel. You can set up a program for yourself where you juice 3 days a week. Or, you can go truly hardcore and juice fast for a week or more at a time. Or, you could drink green juices one day, green smoothies the next and go back and forth, too. Keep in mind that on days where you only juice, you should aim for 4-5 quarts of juice a day. You’ll need a juicer for this plan, and I’ve written about my favorite juicers here.

You can do a mix of all of the above plans day by day, or you can go vegan for one week, then raw another week, then green smoothies another week, then graduate to green juices the final week. It’s important to: Be flexible. Have fun. Enjoy the journey. Give it a chance. Remember to watch how you’re body responds and make sure you get enough calories so you don’t lose your energy. Also(!), you might get a little sick in the form of detox (headache, flu like feelings with a snotty nose, skin eruptions, etc), so it’s really important to carve out some resting time for yourself.

Or…
5) You can try a program that my friend, Gena, is part of leading (it’s not free, but the price seems reasonable). The program has three levels. I’m not a huge fan of the first two levels, because they include animal products, but for the third level (Gena’s), she’s doing it all vegan! I have not gone through her program or seen specifics/results, so I can’t write about how good it is. But, Gena is an awesome coach, so I have high expectations. You can get more information here.

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Monday, December 14th, 2009

High Raw, All Vegan Food Intake – Monday

by Kristen Suzanne in green juice, hemp protein, sauerkraut
I planned this menu last night before I went to bed. Read here about why planning your daily food is a great idea and how it can help you stick to your healthy eating goals.

Organic Green Juice

I started the day by making 5 cups of green juice with my Hurom juicer. I drank 3 cups and stored the other 2 cups for later in the day. The juice had cucumber, celery, collard greens, lime, orange, and apple. It was fabulous! I tell ya… so many women say that they get constipated with pregnancy. I have to say… it’s not happening with me. I attribute it to my super healthy diet.

Protein Bar
This bar wasn’t Raw, but it was vegan, macrobiotic, had non-gmo and organic ingredients, and was high protein. It was darn tasty, too, as it should be when one of the ingredients is organic brown rice syrup, huh? Lol

Organic Salad, Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuit, and Raw Sauerkraut
Oh… yum… this lunch was so awesome. I made a fresh salad with romaine lettuce and red bell peppers from our CSA, along with cucumbers. The dressing was refreshing – organic lemon juice, Raw olive oil, Himalayan crystal salt, black pepper, and dried Italian seasoning. Alongside the salad I had one of my Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuits and topped it with my homemade organic Raw sauerkraut. The juice of the sauerkraut seeped into the biscuit, making it a little soft in spots. SO GOOD!!! I promise to get the recipe to you very soon (maybe this week!). These biscuits are full of flavor and nutrition!


Green Juice – 2 cups
Here is where I had the rest of the green juice I made from this morning. I drank it while doing a little dance to Nelly’s Tilt Ya Head Back (featuring Christina Aguilera). I can’t help but get up and BOOGY DOWN! Seriously! :) I can’t wait to have this baby and dance around the house holding him/her. :)


Savory Veggies, Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuit, and Raw Sauerkraut
I made a batch of this popular marinade recipe of mine, and I’m topping the following vegetables with it: organic portobello mushroom, carrots, red bell pepper, and broccoli. I’ll have another Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuit topped with my Raw sauerkraut with it, too.



Frozen Organic Banana Protein Smoothie See recipe here.
I’m adding extra carob for this so it’s more dessert like. I sure do love RAW FOOD!!!!

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Sunday, December 13th, 2009

My Delicious Raw Food Intake Today

Mmmm a day full of healthy, energizing, GREEN, nutrient dense, delicious, EASY, fun, texture filled, Raw, Vegan, Organic food!!!


Plant Blood (a.k.a. Green Juice) – 2 cups
celery, kale, cucumber, cabbage, and lemon









Green Smoothie – 3 cups
1 mango (are those a doozy to cut up, or what? with that pit and all you have to cut around!), fresh cut sunflower sprouts, fresh cut pea sprouts, and 1 frozen banana







Tropical Spicy Protein Smoothie – 3 cups
1.5 cups water, 2 frozen bananas, 1/2 cup mango (or more), 1/4 cup hemp seeds, 1/4 cup hemp protein powder, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, dash vanilla extract

LOTS of Salad!
I’m crazy for romaine salads lately… like I eat 3 bowls in a row! Must be the Monkey growing in me, eh? The usual easy, simple combo: romaine, cucumber, red bell pepper, and topped with a dressing of lemon juice, raw olive oil, Himalayan crystal salt, and black pepper.



Dinner is not here yet, but here is my plan! Kale Salad and Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuits
Marinated kale salad topped with avocado, cucumber, red bell pepper. Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuits have a wonderful cheesy flavor (I use nutritional yeast – not raw, but everything else is). I dehydrated thoroughly where they’re a thick, crunchy biscuit. Yum! I will post the recipe soon!

PRUNES!
Yum, I love prunes. Deliciously sweet and packed with antioxidants and nutrients.

Update: My kale salad at dinner was a bit different from what I posted above, and let me tell you… We LOVED it! My husband said three times, “Wow! This is soooo good!” I’ll post the exact recipe another day, but the ingredients were marinated kale, garlic, avocado, pineapple, and orange. I’m calling it Pineapple Orange Kale Salad.

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Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Best of Raw 2009 – I’ve Been Nominated!

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

Wowee! What an honor! I found out from Gena of Choosing Raw that I was nominated for various categories in the Best of Raw 2009 voting thing. So, here I am… humbly asking you to hop on over to this website and vote for me. :) (I have to say though, there is some great competition – so many awesome people have been nominated.)


The categories where I’m nominated:
  • Raw Vegan Educator
  • Raw Chef
  • Sexiest Raw Vegan Woman
  • Raw Blog
  • Raw Vegan Website
  • Raw Vegan Book
  • Funniest Raw Vegan Woman
  • Raw Vegan Sweet Treat

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Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Raw Vegan Recipe: Frozen Organic Banana Protein Shake

by Kristen Suzanne in banana, hemp protein, hemp seeds

I made this for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve had it about 7 times since, maybe more. I snuck it into the movie 2012 the other night – what an awesome treat for a movie. I gave my husband a sip and he kept drinking it and drinking it (chugging may be more like it)… until he got a brain freeze… that’s when he finally gave it back to me.


All I can say is… yum. It’s filling. It’s satiating, almost like a dessert, yet not overly sweet, making it great for any time of the day. It’s nutritious. It’s fun. It’s simple.

Frozen Organic Banana Protein Shake
Recipe by Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield 1 serving (approximately 3 cups)

3 small-medium frozen bananas, chopped
2 tablespoons gently heaping hemp seeds
1 tablespoon raw carob

Blend everything until smooth and enjoy your frosty treat.

Variations:
~ You could replace the raw carob with raw chocolate
~ Some of the times I made this, I added 2 tablespoons of raw almond butter to make it even richer ;)
~ Adding cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin spice for a little extra flare results in good times
~ If you don’t have frozen bananas, you can use ice and fresh bananas
~ Add chia seeds for even more omegas, although the hemp’s got you covered

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Saturday, December 5th, 2009

How to Get Started with Raw, Motivation for Staying Raw, Sugar & Caffeine Addictions While Raw

by Kristen Suzanne in Kristen Suzanne
I received the following email and decided it would make a great blog post. I suspect there are other people out there with similar Raw food struggles.

Hi Kristen, I love following your blog….. I was wondering if you could give me advice…. and your personal motivation and reasons for being raw…

I have a blender, I don’t have an expensive juicer or a dehydrator….and right now, I’m starting to become aware that I’m probably slightly caffeine/sugar dependant… I have an incredible sweet tooth…. and it seems that every time I try to start raw foodism, I fail….not so much by heating something…. (as I rarely cook my foods anyways), but mainly because I have a hard time staying away from already processed prepared foods, coffee, sugar and sweets.

I was therefore wondering if you would mind giving me some advice, on how to get started…. on how to find the real motivation to go raw…

And on how to adhere to a raw food lifestyle – on a student budget (without a juicer or dehydrator)…

What were some of your personal motivations for going raw? And what have been some of your personal benefits?

I know rationally that I will benefit from it….but every time I fail it’s because I self-sabotage myself by convincing myself that my current diet is ‘pretty healthy already’….

Any books you would recommend as good starters?

My Personal Motivations & Reasons for Going Raw:

For starters, I was looking for energy when I decided to go Raw. My research into the Raw diet showed people with tons of energy and that was something I wanted big time. I, too, was addicted (badly) to caffeine. Even though I considered myself “pretty healthy already” with my vegan diet, I was going to a coffee shop once, twice, and sometimes three times a day for a triple espresso shot soy cappuccino. I had a pretty good inclination that my adrenal glands were shot and I felt acidic internally. Every day I would wake up and my bones and joints ached until I moved around and had my morning (few) cups of coffee.

But, energy wasn’t all I was after. I wanted that GLOW! I wanted the smooth, soft, skin that was the result of Raw food’s anti-aging benefits. I was tired of my dull skin with it’s frequent break outs. I also suffered from migraine headaches and allergies. So, when I stumbled upon Raw, I was hooked. It just made sense! I loved that I was reading about people who felt amazing, knew they were eating the healthiest food in the world and so darn proud of it, had oodles of energy, and enjoyed gorgeous skin and nails (hair, too, but at the time, I was bleaching mine, so I figured that was a lost cause).

Eventually, I was so tired of not feeling great, of not feeling like I was at my peak unless I medicated myself with something like caffeine or pain pills. I was living a life of stimulated energy instead of Raw energy. I had no idea there was such a thing as Raw Energy. And, wow, what a difference that has made in my life! (I go into much more detail about this here on my website.)

How I Started with Raw

When I first started, I made it a gradual process. I started by adding more salads to my diet and simple fresh fruit and veggies. I found that it was great, yet it wasn’t making it easy for me to transition to a more (or all) Raw diet. So, I changed my plan of attack. Instead of having days where I had part cooked, part Raw foods, I decided to pick one day a week where I went all Raw. That was something I could easily do, and it was inspiring. I felt so great on those days that it wasn’t long until I wanted to incorporate more days into my diet like that. Before I knew it, I was going 3 days a week 100% Raw, and then 4 days, and so on… until I was all Raw. It was awesome and everything it promised to be for me.

After a long time of being all Raw, I started to have a little cooked vegan food from time to time. I found that when I did that, however, it was a slippery slope. What would start as a simple, wholesome organic vegan meal of lentils, brown rice, and steamed veggies turned into all that plus vegan cookies! Then, I found that it would throw me from my game for a few days at a time. But! What I discovered was that every time that happened, I found more resolve to get back to Raw. I didn’t beat myself up for it either. I didn’t stress. I knew deep down the right way. I was actually excited that my body was telling me to get back to Raw. It knew what was best for me. Over time, even though I’d have a little cooked food (or even a treat like a vegan cookie or decaf soy cappuccino), I wasn’t doing it very often, and the slippery slope was not so slippery anymore. I came up with many tips and tricks for helping me stay motivated and on my path (I detail many in my book, Kristen’s Raw).

The next period of my diet found me doing more Raw (usually 100%) and that was wonderful. My body needed it and I craved it. There were periods where my body wanted a lower fat Raw diet and times when my body thrived with higher fat Raw foods. I listened and paid attention to the changes my body was going through. I became more confident in my choices and I was learning more about my body all the time, so I found that when I introduced some cooked foods again, I actually did fine. This opened some new doors for me. I found that I could enjoy a High Raw diet at times. In fact, I felt pretty great with it. My body is so used to Raw now, and loves it so much, that I don’t go for long with cooked foods in my diet, and/or I don’t let too many in. My body quickly starts craving the fresh organic goodness that only the Raw vegan diet can provide.

My Basic Take-Home Points:
1) I listen to my body and I don’t presume that just because I thrive with a certain Raw vegan diet at one time doesn’t mean I won’t want to change it up a bit with another variation of Raw vegan another time.
2) I am flexible and don’t stress about it. In fact, I have fun with it!
3) My body naturally self-corrects and always directs me back to Raw. It knows what’s best.

Overall, it’s all about making better choices. There is a continuum on which you’ll find yourself. On one end of the continuum you have the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) eater and on the opposite end you have the 100% Organic Raw Vegan Foodist. All along this spectrum you have rungs, or steps, like along a ladder. With each rung or step being better than the last. It’s not expected to go all the way to the top at first, because that is too hard for most people. But there are always ways to make small improvements. For example, if you’re eating processed bread right now, then switching to a brand such as Genesis Sprouted Grain Bread is that next step along the spectrum of health. It’s better than what you were doing previously. Then, not much longer after that you might find yourself making your own bread from sprouted flax and chia seeds, which would be the ultimate choice for your health. However, each step takes you higher or further along the spectrum, and you’ll feel better and better as a result. Or, if you consume cow’s milk, you can move up on the ladder of health by switching to organic vegan soy, rice, hemp, or almond milk. Then, you can set your eyes on the next step and switch to Raw nut and seed milks like Creamy Dreamy Hemp Milk.

For some people, the only way to start the Raw diet is by jumping in with both feet 100%. Some people need a gradual entrance. They’re both great… you just have to find what’s right for you. One of the best ways for staying motivated is with community and education. The community can be found online (join Raw forums, read Raw blogs, and blog yourself!) and through meetups (check meetup.com for local groups), and the education comes from DVDs, books, classes, magazines, etc. I’m constantly putting all of those things in front of me. And, every time I pick up a book or magazine, or read someone’s blog about what they’re doing with Raw food, I’m excited and inspired! My cells start salivating for green juice, salads, and Raw lasagna, etc.

Raw Tools in the Kitchen: Only Have a Blender?

Having only a blender is no problem! You don’t need a juicer to be a Raw foodie, or a dehydrator for that matter. Those are just excuses for some people. With a blender, you can make smoothies, soups, salad dressings, pates, ice cream, mousse, even nut butters (with a high powered blender). You can even make juice! Just blend the fresh produce with some water and strain it with a nut milk bag (or a cheaper paint straining bag from a hardware store).

A dehydrator is fun and I use mine all the time, but it’s definitely not necessary. For starters, you can buy many things at health food stores that are made in a dehydrator. They’re not always cheap, but I’m just sayin’… they’re available as very convenient treats and snacks.

Sugar & Caffeine Addicted? No Problem!

Being addicted to those things really sucks. I know! But, it’s not hard to get off them. You just need a plan! My first tip is Green Smoothies. Getting more greens into your diet will help alkalize your body, which will help you fight the acid addiction. Don’t give up and be consistent with it. Having fresh fruit is also great for those sugar cravings. Because fruit is filled with natural sugars, fiber, and nutrients, you’ll find yourself satiated right away. Having them with greens is great, like with green smoothies, because the greens add lots of minerals, but I’m also a fan of fresh fruit on its own. Heck, I just polished off two organic persimmons before writing this blog post.

Another great tip for fighting sugar addictions is with fermented foods like Raw, organic, unpasteurized sauerkraut and kim chi. These are well reputed for helping with sugar problems. And, they’re so delicious! I make my own at home, but I didn’t always (you can buy it at health food stores). Here is a blog post (with video) detailing how to make it.

Your transition doesn’t have to be overnight, just start somewhere. And, you don’t have to eliminate your caffeine or sugar right away. Do it in stages. Look at your current diet and set up a plan for cutting it out, bit by bit. And, reward yourself when you hit those milestones!

Being Lazy?… Stop It!

There is no excuse for not making a green smoothie when you’re feeling too lazy to make something and wanting to open up a box of processed crap. Green smoothies are so freakin’ easy. And, you know what? If for some crazy reason that is even asking too much on some days, then just make sure you have bananas, oranges, persimmons (seasonal), dates, carrot / celery sticks (washed, trimmed, and ready to eat), apples, watermelon (seasonal), etc… all ready to grab whenever you get hungry. IT DOESN’T GET EASIER THAN THAT!

Candidly, if you can’t handle whipping up a green smoothie or peeling a banana, then you probably just don’t want it enough. And for that, I don’t have much advice beyond forcing yourself to try it for awhile and seeing how much better you feel. Obviously, something turned you onto this path; you just need to get back and focus on that. Do some soul searching and decide if you’re indeed ready to take control of your health. The good news is that it’s really easy. And, the better news is that it gets easier and easier, partly from practice, but mostly from just developing habits, a routine, and a little confidence. You’ll find yourself getting into your own groove and building upon each successful day you have. It’s an awesome feeling!

Conclusions:
We all have our own personal motivations for turning to Raw. And, most people who do turn to it stick with it, at least to some degree, if not all the way. It’s as though they’ve seen the light and they know it’s the right thing to do. Even when they come and go… the key is that they keep coming back. The Raw vegan lifestyle rocks. It’s worth it! It’s awesome! It’s addictive!


I’ve written a book (available as an ebook as well) that covers these topics in great detail, Kristen’s Raw: The EASY Way to Get Started and Succeed at the Raw Food Vegan Diet & Lifestyle. It’s the perfect way to help you start on the Raw vegan path. You can get more details and purchase it here.

I should add that it also makes a great gift!

And, here are some related blog posts that are chock-full of good tips and information.

How To Make Raw Food Easy
5 Easy Tips For Feeling Your Best
Raw Food Diet Spectrum – The Good News!
Think The Raw Vegan Lifestyle Is Expensive? Think Again!
Eating Raw Organic In This Economy: 14 Tips To Help
Going Organic On A Budget

I’ve just whipped myself up into a motivated frenzy writing this post, so I’m off to make some organic green juice. :)



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Sunday, November 29th, 2009

How to Detox & Get Healthy for Pregnancy

I’ve been asked many times about what I did to detox and get my body, mind, and spirit healthy for pregnancy. I’m happy to share my plan. It’s lengthy though, so get yourself a nice green smoothie or green juice, sit back and relax as you read through it all. Please keep in mind this necessary disclaimer… I’m not a midwife or a physician, and anyone thinking about getting pregnant should consult one of the aforementioned professionals to discuss your options. We are all different and we all have different toxic loads, experiences, ages, fitness levels, environments, etc. I will mention that a midwife is more likely to understand detoxing and using foods, supplements, etc for helping with pregnancy preparation over a medical doctor. So, with that out of the way… here is what I did.



The Timing
I started the process during the early part of summer (2008). My husband and I had the intention of cleaning our bodies and home for about 6 months before actively trying to conceive. I became a little antsy so we started trying a little sooner, to no avail, but in hindsight, I’m glad our baby waited a little longer so that my body had plenty of time to clean out (6-12 months is recommended).

It was important at the offset to get a good handle on my monthly cycle. I was pretty regular, but timing is everything when it comes to conception, so knowing your body is very important. One way I did this was with the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor. There are old-fashioned (tried and true) methods such as taking your temperature every day (immediately upon waking). I did that as well, but with my goofy sleep schedule, it proved hard to do. On the advice of a good friend, I bought the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor to track my cycle. It was really cool. I simply peed on a stick every morning, inserted the stick into the device, and received a reading for my daily fertility. It was fun, especially when I saw the little egg symbol meaning that it was the right time to try if we were ready. Be warned, it’s not an inexpensive gadget (neither the monitor nor the sticks you must continually replenish) but I decided it was worth it.

The reason I started using it early was because it can take a couple of months to “learn” your cycle, and because I was dying to know if an egg would show up. (Whew! It did!) I had a lot of confidence in the monitor already, because the Amazon reviews were terrific. Some tips I learned along the way: 1) make sure you use the first pee of the morning and 2) pee for a full three seconds on the stick (count 1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi, 3-Mississippi).

My History
It’s true that I’ve been vegan for about 6-7 years and I’ve been all Raw (or High Raw) for the past 4-5 years. It’d make you think that my body was already ready for a baby. But, my journey to healthy eating had not happened overnight. I had been pretty clean for a long time, but it took some extra work to get to the uber clean place I am today. For example, a year ago: I would drink a cup of coffee from time to time. I took the occasional over-the-counter drug when my period cramps were too intense. Some of the cleansers in my house were environmentally friendly, but not all. (That was a work in progress.) Perhaps the worst offender was that I was coloring my hair every 4-6 weeks. I was using some hair and body products that were eco-friendly, and some that weren’t. I had amalgam fillings in my mouth. I ate mostly organic, but it hadn’t always been like that. And, the years before getting into Raw, I was on heavy medication for migraines and painful headaches. I had no idea how thrashed my liver was from that. Not to mention, from my bodybuilding days, I had taken loads of energy supplements and eaten tons of animal products, which I’m sure had heavily taxed my adrenal glands, kidneys, and liver. From this long history of toxic exposure and potential build-up, I had no idea how long it would take my body to clean out once I cleaned up my diet and environment.

Fast forward to my deliberate pre-conception house and body overhaul… I got rid of every source of toxicity that I could. Today, this means: eating all organic foods except for the few occasions we go to a restaurant where they don’t offer it; totally green cleaning products for our house; totally green makeup, hair, beauty, body care products; an expensive visit to the dentist to have my amalgams removed; and an extremely clean Raw vegan diet, including brief periods of juice fasting to cleanse my body even more. I’ll touch on each of these in a moment. But first…

The Start of My Plan: Creating a List

This picture depicts a little list that I had taped to my kitchen cupboard to remind myself of the many ways I was going to get my body and home super healthy and clean for pregnancy. That list was written way back when we started, and it evolved over the course of our attempts to conceive. However, it was a great exercise to start somewhere. The list included some important nutrients I wanted to make sure I was including in my diet, the sources I planned on getting those various nutrients, as well as some details about overall cleansing plans for my body and home.

My Home Environment

As much as I could, I removed synthetic chemicals from my home. I aired out our place daily to mitigate the effects of continuous outgassing from carpet, paint, adhesives, and other chemicals used in home construction. I used only environmentally friendly cleansers, many of which I made myself (blog post here about the green cleaners I use).






My Beauty Regimen

I stopped all toxic body care and stopped coloring my hair (blog post here about my decision to go natural after having been blond for 20-some years - I will eventually put up a brunette picture as soon as I have the time to get one taken – you’ve already seen my videos with my brown hair). I only used products that had great ratings on the Skin Deep website for body care/makeup, or products where I could read and understand all of the ingredients. Some of my favorite companies are listed in this blog post. I’d like to add Morrocco Method (hair and body) to that list as well as 100% Pure (makeup, body care – some of their products are vegan and some vegetarian… I stick with the vegan ones).

Heavy Metal Detox – Amalgam Fillings Removed
I did a heavy metal detox for one month where I consumed a liquid nanized supplement after having my amalgam fillings removed. Having my amalgams removed was one of the first steps in the detox, getting healthy for pregnancy process. I did not want any mercury to leak into my breast milk if I could help it. I don’t know how long it takes for heavy metals like mercury to leave the body, but I had to keep in mind that I had the fillings in my mouth for many years, and they were no doubt leaking over time. Plus, with the actual removal of them, there was a chance that some leaked during the procedure (so it’s never too early, even if you don’t intend to have kids for years). In addition to the liquid nano supplement, I did the following to help remove the metals: exercised (sweating plays an important role for helping detox), taking chlorella tablets, consuming cilantro in smoothies and green juices, and I generally relied on my overall healthy diet (including some days of juice fasting to accelerate the process).

My Diet In General

I spent a lot of time planning my diet. For example, when I wanted extra protein I included beans, lentils, greens, hemp and rice protein powders, etc. To strengthen my liver, I added ground milk thistle seeds that I added to shakes for a set period of time. I wanted to get enough selenium, iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C, so I consumed Vitamineral Green (which is, by far, my favorite green powder) and Fruits of the Earth fruit powder, as well as obtaining other specific nutrients with things like Brazil nuts, greens, and fresh produce. (Note: I do not consume the Vitamineral Green or Fruits of the Earth now that I’m pregnant, but I plan to resume after delivery.) UPDATE {2/9/11}: I am still not taking Vitamineral Green because I’m breastfeeding. I am taking Greener Grasses by the same company.

I consumed plenty of fresh organic green juices, green smoothies, soups, salads, home grown sprouts (see my video on how to grow your own sprouts here), fresh produce, homemade sauerkraut (see my video on how to make your own sauerkraut here), hemp and sprouted rice protein powders, other Raw foods like veggie pastas, lasagna, desserts, dips, etc. I also made sure to consume healthy Raw fats such as chia seeds, avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, flax, etc. You know… a super healthy Raw vegan diet.



I consumed occasional cooked vegan foods (more during the colder months) including lentils, beans, brown rice, oatmeal, steamed veggies, non-GMO tofu, miso soup, and an occasional veggie burger or burrito, etc. I made sure to keep my diet balanced and not consume too much of any one thing at one time. For example, I rotated my greens and produce (easy to do when you eat seasonally). I basically made sure that my greens “took turns.” One week I bought spinach, and the next week I made sure to consume more kale or swiss chard. Another week, I upped the romaine in my diet, and another week I had more cilantro and parsley. And so on.

A healthy detox and diet plan isn’t just about what I added to my diet. It’s also about what I eliminated from my life. For example, I stopped ingesting any caffeine, even in tea or chocolate… no, this was not easy! I no longer had the occasional glass of organic, vegan wine. I stopped all medications. For menstrual cramps, I used a heating pad and, frankly, just endured the pain, especially on the first day. I used ice on my head and neck for headaches, and enjoyed calm, warm baths. It was not always easy, but I took some comfort in knowing that women have done just fine for thousands of years without modern pharmacology and its accompanying toxicity and unintended consequences.

Supplements
Some of my supplements changed over time (for both my husband and myself – remember… he needed to be healthy, too. You need strong swimmers to get to that egg!).

Kristen’s Supplements
  • vegan DHA
  • Vitamin B-12
  • pre-natal vitamins
  • chlorella
  • wheat grass tablets
  • spirulina (didn’t take much of this, I’m taking it more now though)
  • milk thistle (did this for a little over a month)
  • Vitamineral Green powder
  • Fruits of the Earth powder
  • raspberry leaf tea
  • probiotics
  • Vitamin D
  • And… I made sure to consume foods that gave me plenty of zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, b-vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber, and protein.
My Husband’s Supplements
He mainly followed my lead with the supplements I took above, but I added more for him, especially over time as we learned that some of our struggles with conceiving had to do with his sperm health. In general, we tried to get as much as we could from the whole foods in our diet, but I wanted to make sure we were getting everything so we covered all of our bases by adding supplements. For my husband, I added maca, extra vitamin C, vitamin E, his own multi vitamin, acetyl l-carnitine, pycnogenol, and beta-carotene.


Exercise
I’ve always been a gal who makes exercise a priority in my life, so this wasn’t something I suddenly added. But it’s important, so I wanted to mention it here. My exercise routine always changes. Sometimes I do outdoor activities like hiking, walking, etc., and sometimes I go to the gym where I do different forms of cardio as well as strength training. I’m a firm believer that having a healthy, strong body that can handle weight training and cardio is going to really help me when I’m giving birth, as well as helping me lose weight after birth. (I’ve never really been one to do yoga, although I suspect it’s wonderful.)

With respect to physical activity, it’s not a good time to try new things when trying to conceive. It’s important to remember once you’re actually trying to conceive (meaning it could happen any time), that there is a two-week period after ovulation where you won’t know you’re pregnant. During these two weeks, it’s pertinent to “act as if” you’re pregnant just in case. So, during this window, trying new things with your body isn’t necessarily the best time. However, if you’re smart and planning things out in advance, like 6-12 months prior to conception, then it should be fine to add something new to your routine, such as yoga if you don’t normally do yoga.
Mental Health, CDs, and Deep Breathing
I’ve never been one to meditate much. I wish I were, but it’s always been a little tricky for me. However, I realized soon after trying to conceive that having a calm mind was essential for conception, at least for me. So, I took the time to deep breath during various periods throughout my day. I would simply take a few minutes and breath deeply, listening to my breath and thinking of nothing else. That was very calming. I also bought some fertility meditation CDs and listened to them when falling asleep at night, before a daytime nap, or in my dressing area while getting ready in the morning. I am very fond of the CDs that came with my hypnobirthing book and that my hypnobirthing instructor gave me. They are actually aimed at helping women who are already pregnant, but I loved that aspect of it despite my not being pregnant yet. It helped me visualize actually being pregnant, which was fun, therapeutic, and likely to help my odds. I also purchased these visualization CDs.

Trying to conceive is a beautiful thing. It really is. But, for me, it didn’t come without a little anxiety as each month passed without success. Meditation was very helpful for me, and I’m so glad I included these tools in my pregnancy tool box.


Research, Research, and More Research
I wrote a blog post quite some time ago, when I knew that my husband and I would eventually want to start a family, in which I discussed various aspects about birth, raising children, etc. I knew there were things I needed to research before getting pregnant. I’m not a last-minute kind of person, I like to be prepared, so I was looking into this stuff well in advance. I’m so glad I did because there’s a LOT of information to cover. In that post, I briefly touched on:
  • Home birth (there are many considerations for the birth itself – location, midwife, doula, birthing classes, water birth, etc)
  • Circumcision
  • Vaccination
  • Breast feeding,
  • Homeschooling, and our
  • Raw vegan diet
What I didn’t bring up in that post, but I am now also researching and planning to do:

In future posts, I will share what I’ve researched and experienced.


Midwife & Doula
Part of my research was finding a midwife and doula with whom I wanted to attend my birth. I did this months before we tried to conceive because I knew that once I was pregnant, time would fly and I’d have my hands full with a million details. It can take time to find the perfect midwife and doula.

In my case, I actually went with the first midwife I interviewed because I liked her well enough. But, over time, I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions via email and found that perhaps we weren’t quite as good a fit as I previously thought. She was a lovely, capable, skilled woman, but I have certain ideas about my home birth experience and I decided that I should probably try to find another midwife who was a better fit. Fortunately, I did just that. Through the advice of my amazing wonderful lovely doula, I found a midwife who fits my needs exactly. Because I had both of these women picked out well in advance of being pregnant, I was able to tap into their expertise when we were trying to conceive, which was extremely useful. (I will be sharing a post later detailing who these women are and why they’re so amazing.)

Now, I’m sure my first midwife candidate would have done a fine job, but had I not begun this process early, I probably would not have had the opportunity to make a course correction and find somebody with whom I felt truly comfortable. So the moral of the story is to start your research well ahead of time.

Conclusion
I’m so glad I took the many months I had to research and learn everything I wrote about above, and I’m still researching lots of things:
  • Vitamin K shot at birth
  • Which prenatal tests I want or don’t want
  • Post-natal eye treatment for baby
  • Which birthing classes to take
  • Newborn screening (drawing blood to test metabolic processes)
  • Finding a pediatrician that I’m happy with, who is knowledgeable and friendly toward my High Raw Vegan diet, my breast feeding plan, and supports my informed consent and personal decisions regarding whatever I want to do with vaccines)
The time to begin ALL of this is before getting pregnant. Waaay before getting pregnant… months, or even years… because it takes a lot of time, attention, and is the only way to make informed decisions without feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or pressured to yield by default to the constant advice that suddenly comes from just about everyone you talk to, whether or not they share your health values or life philosophy. At times like this in particular, I find that having done a lot of research beforehand really equips me to have that discussion, or sometimes tactfully avoid it altogether.

Furthermore, it’s smart to start early because you have no idea how you’ll feel once you’re pregnant. I have spent many weeks ill with all-day “morning” sickness and it’s kept my butt on the couch for days on end. The last thing I would’ve felt like doing during that time was reading books, especially dense books with topics like vaccinations and home birth. I also wouldn’t have felt good enough to interview midwives or doulas. Therefore, I’m grateful that I had that all figured out well in advance.

That pretty much covers everything I’ve considered and done prior to getting pregnant as well as a few things I’m still doing now that I AM INDEED PREGNANT! YEEHAW!!!!! I feel deep down into my bones and cells that my baby is growing inside an extremely healthy body and I’m so proud of that.

One last note: The purpose of this post was to discuss what I did to detox and get healthy in preparation for pregnancy. Once I became pregnant, I maintained some of the practices, but I also changed some. What I’m doing now that I’m pregnant deserves its own future post (or two or three).

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Thursday, November 26th, 2009

My High Raw, All Vegan Food Intake – 11th Week Pregnant!

by Kristen Suzanne in pregnancy

Tuesday marked the beginning of my 11th week of pregnancy. I officially have the “glow” and I’ve realized some other perks of being pregnant… for example… after I finish eating a big meal, I don’t have to suck in my stomach. Sweet!


Many of you want to know what I’m eating while pregnant. I’m still experiencing nausea, but it comes in waves now. It’s not all day long like it was for a few weeks there. Nonetheless, when it hits, it hits. When the nausea first started, it killed my appetite so I basically ate whatever vegan food sounded remotely good to me. It varied from bread to lentils to lots of fresh watery fruit. One thing for sure… I seem to be quite thirsty in spite of my liquid consumption. For about 2 weeks, my diet was half Raw, all vegan, and mostly organic (the “mostly” part comes from eating out – if more restaurants offered organic, it’d be much easier to keep my diet 100% organic; everything I make at home is organic).

Then, even though I was still nauseous a lot of the time, my body directed me back to mostly Raw. So, these days I have mostly High Raw days and I have some medium Raw days. For the Raw stuff: I’m consuming (all organic) green juices, green smoothies, fresh fruit, veggies and dips, a Raw dessert here and there, Raw granola, nut butters, sauerkraut, fermented veggies, protein shakes made with nut/seed milks and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder, chia seeds, etc. For some of the cooked vegan foods: I’ve had homemade organic bread (banana bread and cranberry orange bread), organic saltine crackers, organic brown rice and steamed vegetables, organic lentils, hummus, veggie burger, etc… there are other things, but that gives you a good idea.

Here is an example of what I had Tuesday (everything is 100% organic):

Green Juice
I made 6 cups of green juice with my Hurom juicer (see my juicer review videos here). I drank 3 cups of it. I saved 2 cups for my soup later. I saved 1 cup for my husband. The juice had so many things: garlic, lemon, orange, cucumber, carrot, celery, kale, romaine.

Weird Protein Seed Milk Shake
I made a shake with 2 cups water, 1 large apple, 4 Tablespoons Hemp protein powder, 2 tablespoons Hemp seeds, 2 T ground chia seeds, and 1 T of a mixture made from raw chocolate/agave/coconut oil. I know. Weird combo. I’ll admit, it wasn’t one of my star recipes, but it filled me with plenty of omegas, protein, and nutrition. I drank it on my balcony while getting my Vitamin D from the sun.

Salad & Crackers
I made an enormous salad of romaine lettuce and rainbow chard. I also chopped up a red bell pepper. For the dressing, I made a mixture of water, lemon juice, coconut vinegar, black tahini (I love making recipes with black tahini, it’s so cool looking), Himalayan crystal salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and garlic. I had about 5 small saltine crackers with it. I was having an intense nausea period.

Energy Soup
I took the 2 cups of green juice that I had stored and used that as my base. I blended it with 1 carrot, 1 large apple, dulse flakes, and 2 Tablespoons hemp seeds. It was pretty good. It made about 1 quart.

Ants On A Log & Salad & More Crackers
The salad had romaine lettuce and red bell pepper with Himalayan crystal salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. I had a few more saltine crackers. And, the Ants On A Log were celery stalks with nut butter and raisins. Hmm! Just as good as when I was a kid.

Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie
I made a couple of pumpkin pies last week. I’m saving one for Thanksgiving, and I made the 2nd one for my husband and I to share over the week before Thanksgiving. The recipe is awesome and it’s from my holiday book/ebook available here.





Next week, I’m blogging about what I did to detox and get healthy for my pregnancy. Be sure to check back!

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