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 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!

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.

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.

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.

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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Monday, November 23rd, 2009

What To Do When You Don’t Have A Lot Of Raw Choices Around (family gatherings, restaurants, and travel)

by Kristen Suzanne in entertaining, family, travel, vegan

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.

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Friday, November 20th, 2009

New Juicer Comparison (video)- Green Star vs Breville vs Hurom

by Kristen Suzanne in Breville, Detox, energy, green juice, video, weight loss

Having green juice (a.k.a. Plant Blood) on a regular basis is very important for my family. We love it! It’s invigorating. It’s filled with easy-to-assimilate nutrients. It’s powerful. It makes the cells in my body boogie-down as if they were listening to Earth, Wind, & Fire! Like the vegan version of being a vampire, I feel absolutely super-human when I’m drinking it.

Fresh fruit and vegetable juices can do wonders for your body, spirit and mind. They can help cleanse your body and detox. They can fill you up with energy because you’re giving your digestion a rest with the removal of the fiber. They can help make you feel like you’re on top of the world (at least that’s what they do to me when I drink them). And for sure… a number of people use fresh organic juices as a part of their weight loss routine. I know that after I give birth, and breast feeding is done, I’ll be using a green juice weight loss program to help me lose the pregnancy weight.

A while back I posted about the two juicers that I have in this post. But, I have a new addition to my family that is worthy of discussion. In the following videos I discuss the pros and cons of each juicer (Green Star, Breville, and Hurom), from my perspective. And, I show you one of the juicers in action.

For great juice recipes, check out my book and ebook, Kristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Smoothies, Juices, Elixirs, & Drinks.

I’ve recently added another juicer to my family of juicers… check out the updated review here.

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Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Winners of my 15th Awesome Giveaway – RAW VITAMINS

by Kristen Suzanne in awesome giveaway
Congratulations EARTH MOTHER and MARATHON VAL!!! Your names were chosen as the winners of my 15th Awesome Giveaway. The prize: Earth Mother has won the Perfect Weight vitamins from Vitamin Code and Marathon Val has won a bottle of Raw One For Women – YAY!!!!!! Simply email me the address you want your prize mailed to.

Here is what Earth Mother and Marathon Val had to say when asked, “Which bottle of vitamins do you want to win AND why?”

Earth Mother wrote, I’d like the Perfect Weight vitamin. Their website said that lifestyle changes like diet and increased exercise put more stress on the body’s system. Hello? I’ve gone from a highly processed carnivorous diet to a raw vegan diet in the past year, AND from being a sedentary couch potato to walking 6+ miles a day.
Yikes! Think I qualify? :D”

Marathon Val wrote, “I would love the raw vitamins! I never know if I am taking the “right” vitamins and I know many brands do not contain the best ingredients.”

Please note: The Perfect Weight vitamins are not intended for women trying to conceive, who are pregnant or who are breast feeding. Vitamin Code’s Prenatals are perfect for those times!

My next Awesome Giveaway is in December, so check back for details!

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Sunday, November 15th, 2009

New Review For The Blendtec Blender

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

(Keep in mind that companies change warranties and features so be sure to check with them after reading this post… I wrote this a few years ago!) Previously I wrote a comparison review for the new Vita-Mix 5200 versus the Blendtec that I’d had for quite a few years (and adored). Even though I loved my Blendtec for a long time, at the time of the review, I was impressed with Vita-mix’s BPA-free container as well as their warranty. I’ll say this… When it comes down to it, both blenders are phenomenal. They’re both high-powered and they both get the job done. (That picture is with the normal Blendtec container.)

Well, as you know from the last comparison, I decided to give more of my love to the Vita-Mix 5200 because of the aforementioned reasons. However! As of this writing, not only does Blendtec offer a BPA-free container, but they offer a new BIG container (I purchased mine separately). Nearly 3 quarts big!!! When I saw that, I knew I had to try it out. Some people say that the big container (and therefore, the longer blades) makes for faster blending… as a result, it seems that cold things, such as smoothies, are colder (as compared to using another blender) when you’re done making them because it didn’t take as long to blend them.

Here is my new review on Vita-Mix vs Blendtec:
I found that I am back to using my Blendtec more than the Vita-Mix. It’s so easy to clean and I really like that. I do notice, however, that my Blendtec blender seems to bounce around on my counter a bit more when I’m blending certain things. For example, I made two Raw vegan pumpkin pies yesterday (recipe for this delicious pie is in my Holiday recipe book). The large container really helped in this situation because the old container would get quite full once all of the ingredients were in it. The mixture is thick, too, so that probably explains the dancing of the machine that required placing my hands on it to hold it still. Keep in mind, my blender motor is probably 5 years old and perhaps it wouldn’t bounce around as much if I had a newer model – not sure. It’s also possible that because the Vita-Mix is heavier, it stays put better. Anyway… I love the big container I purchased from Blendtec. I love that it’s BPA-free. I love that it’s so easy to clean. I love how it fits on my counter top and doesn’t take up as much room.

However… the Vita-Mix 5200’s 7-year warranty still kicks the Blendtec’s ass (3 years). And, having a plunger, like with the Vita-Mix, can be helpful at times. I also like the controls of the Vita-mix 5200 better than the pre-programmed controls of the Blendtec. I find it easier to control and use. Gosh, my praise for certain aspects of the Vita-Mix 5200 would make you think I liked that blender more. Not only that, but the Vita-Mix is popular with chefs around the world. Do you ever watch cooking shows and notice that they’re always using a Vita-Mix? I’ve yet to see a chef on TV using a Blendtec, so Vita-Mix is definitely worthy.

Bottom line… in spite of the pre-programmed controls on the Blendtec and in spite of not having a plunger… I still find myself grabbing the Blendtec before I use the Vita-Mix 5200. It’s easier to clean, gets the job done, has a huge container now, and fits perfectly on my counter top. Therefore, I must be a Blendtec gal again. (They both rock though and you can’t go wrong with either one!)

PS… I’ve been trying out a new juicer these past few days. I’m still in the testing phase and will report on it in the near future!

UPDATE {Aug 2010} 

  • I have been using my Vita-Mix 5200 a lot more these days because I have a newborn and the Vita-Mix is a little quieter than the Blendtec. 
  • I also want to mention, however, that another reason for loving the Blendtec is that it’s easier to travel with because the base of it is smaller than the Vita-Mix. We spent a month in New York in 2009 and I packed my Blendtec Blender (sacrificing a couple of pairs of shoes – haha).

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Friday, November 13th, 2009

Kristen’s Raw 15th Awesome Giveaway – FREE RAW VEGAN VITAMINS!

by Kristen Suzanne in awesome giveaway

It’s time for another awesome giveaway (here was the last one). The prize for November? RAW VITAMINS from VITAMIN CODE! WHOOHOO!!!!! I will be drawing the names of 2 winners. I have one bottle of their “Perfect Weight” vitamins and one bottle of their “Raw One For Women” vitamins to give away (1 bottle to each winner).

Vitamin Code sent me various vitamins of theirs to sample, and I decided to give away a couple of the bottles. (Thanks Vitamin Code!) When you take Vitamin Code’s vitamins, you’re taking Raw Vegan vitamins made from the healthiest ingredients available. In fact, I’m taking their prenatals right now (read my blog post about the prenatal supplements I’m taking).

Want the chance to win? It’s simple to participate! All you have to do is answer the following question (be sure to answer both parts) in this post’s comment section. The contest will end Monday night, November 16th @ 11:59pm. I’ll enter everyone’s name who answered the question into a drawing and announce the winner on my blog Tuesday, November 17th. (Please note: While I would love to hear from everyone around the world in answering this question, I have to limit the winners to people living in the continental United States.)

Question: Which bottle of vitamins do you want to win AND WHY?

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Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Back To Raw In My First Trimester

by Kristen Suzanne in cheezy hemp nacho sauce, pregnancy, vegan

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:
Red Bell Peppers
Swiss Chard
Apples (3 kinds)

THEN… I ordered from Boxed Greens (blogged about them in the last post):

Sunflower sprouts
Pea sprouts
Feijoa (never had this!)
Grape Tomatoes
More Romaine

I’m going to be in Raw food heaven!!!!

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Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Ordering Organic Produce to Help Prevent Swine / Seasonal Flus And To Help My Pregnancy

by Kristen Suzanne in pregnancy

I was watching Dr. Oz the other day and he did an episode on the dangerous germs lurking in the grocery store. For obvious reasons, I was all eyes and ears when it came to the produce department. Would you believe they showed a woman (on hidden camera) actually climbing on the produce with her dirty shoes? And, many people licking their fingers to open plastic bags and then touching the produce with their germy fingers?

Here is what it says on Dr. Oz’s website regarding this episode:

Dirty little secret: When you grab an apple for lunch, your hands may be the 20th pair to touch it. That’s right, veggies and fruits are picked, sorted, thrown on a truck, taken off a truck, sorted again, boxed, and unboxed all before they reach the display case where they’re fondled by other customers before they meet you. Experts say, all in all, 20 people will touch a tomato before you slice it up for your salad. And that’s in addition to all the animal waste that can mingle with produce on the long journey from farm to table.

Quick fix: Carefully wash all fruits and vegetables before eating, even if you don’t plan on eating the skin. When you peel or cut vegetables and fruits, the bacteria from the exterior can travel inside. Keep any prepped veggies, such as sliced tomatoes, at 41 degrees or cooler until you eat or cook them.

After seeing that episode, and with the swine and seasonal flus going around, I started thinking about all of the hands that could have the flu bug on them, or other germs, that are touching the produce I buy. From people licking their fingers to open the plastic bags or touching their faces and then picking through the produce bins… it’s scary. (I’ve even seen women leave the bathroom without washing their hands at Whole Foods!!!) Unfortunately, washing the produce doesn’t dispel my fears because I’m not completely confident that my vinegar wash (or any other wash I use) is eliminating 100% of the germs.

As a pregnant woman, this alarms me, especially during the flu season. For starters, I’m not going near the vaccines (see blog post with videos here). So, I’m taking other necessary precautions to avoid the flus and stay healthy. One of which is how I handle buying my organic produce (more things I’m doing to stay healthy toward the end of this post).

Here is my plan…

Currently, I get a weekly allotment of fresh organic produce from our local CSA. This is the best choice of keeping my produce from too many hands because it touches the farmers and that’s it. Since I’m part of the CSA, I don’t have to think about other farmer market customers touching my produce at the market because our food is set aside for pickup every Saturday (see why I love our CSA so much here). But… the limitation with a CSA is that, even though I pick out what I want every week, my farmer doesn’t grow everything I need and want. Therefore, I usually go to Whole Foods for produce I can’t get from our local CSA.

However, after seeing the Dr. Oz show, I’m second guessing that and I’ve up with a great plan! There is a local organic delivery company (they deliver nationwide, too!) called Boxed Greens. They get mostly locally grown, organic produce from farmers and when I place an order, it’s shipped straight to my door. Whoo-hoo! This is my answer to limiting the number of hands that touch my produce. In this scenario, the only people touching it are the farmers and the workers at Boxed Greens… meaning no grocery store employees and no 10-20 consumers picking through the items looking for their favorite.

Upon inquiry with Boxed Greens, the owner (whom I’ve known for years and trust) assured me that the workers wash their hands AND wear gloves when handling the produce. Plus, because most of it is locally grown and it’s not stored for extended periods of time (like at most grocery stores), I’m getting more nutrition in my food — it’s Super Qi! See my blog post about Super Qi food.

Boxed Greens produce does indeed cost more than what I would pay at Whole Foods, and it’s a heck of a lot more than the CSA (that’s a perk about the CSA though – GREAT DEALS on produce!), but I’m worth it! My baby’s health is worth it! If necessary, I’m willing to make sacrifices in other areas of my life so that I can feed my family only the best. Do I need the coolest car on the block? Hell no! I want the greatest food for my body! And… did I mention that Boxed Greens gets a number of organic fruits and veggies that I can’t get at Whole Foods.

But, that’s not the only thing I’m doing to limit my exposure to germs and the seasonal/swine flus. After scouring the Internet for information on pregnant women and the seasonal / swine flus, I came have a list of things to do (I came up with most of these from’s forum):

  1. Wash hands for 30 seconds with soap OFTEN (avoiding anti-bacterial gels). A good trick is to hum the “Happy Birthday” song three times while hand washing.
  3. Don’t touch face
  4. Get Vitamin D!!! (I get mine from the sun, 15-25 minutes daily or every other day)
  5. Gargle with warm salt water twice a day
  6. Take warm salt water and dip a q-tip into it and swab the inside of nostrils daily (or use a neti pot)
  7. Eat fresh, organic, raw garlic
  8. Drink warm liquids
  9. Consume plenty of vitamin C-rich foods
  10. Stay hydrated
  11. Avoid crowded places (I even returned my opening night tickets to New Moon!)
And, speaking of being pregnant… my aforementioned plan of ordering produce has another awesome benefit. As most of you know, I have all-day-long-morning-sickness (which I love in a bittersweet way), and the last thing I want to do is leave the house. So, having my produce delivered is awesome! I also imagine that once I have the baby, having my produce delivered will be extremely beneficial, too! This will save me time and energy. :)

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