Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Winner of my 19th Awesome Giveaway – ZUKAY LIVE DRESSINGS

by Kristen Suzanne in awesome giveaway

Congratulations EMB! Your name was chosen as the winner of my 19th Awesome Giveaway. The prize: A sampler pack of healthy dressings courtesy of Zukay. Simply email me with your address so I can get the awesome prize sent to you.

Here is what EMB had to say when asked, “What product(s) or flavor(s) would you like to see Zukay offer?”

“Ooh yummy! These look fabulous. First thing that came to mind was a “roasted” garlic dressing. I’ve always wondered if that flavor could be recreated in the raw! I had to give up the un-raw pasteurized bottled version…but I have to admit to missing it!”

My next Awesome Giveaway is in March, so check back for details! (It’s an awesome one, too!)

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Monday, February 15th, 2010

Pandora Superfood Movie Snack – Avatar Time!

by Kristen Suzanne in cacao nibs, goji berries

We are heading out to see Avatar for the 7th (and final) time. We really love this movie… the beauty, the story, and how it takes us to fun-land every time we see it. As you can probably guess, we don’t go near the concession stand with a 10-foot pole. Gross! And, sorry, I’m not paying $4 for a bottle of water that is contained in icky plastic. So, because I’m on a “special diet” *wink wink* I bring my own snacks and filtered water in a glass bottle. Past snacks have included: protein bar, green smoothie, fruit, kale salad (yes, I brought it in my tiffin with a travel size bamboo fork), chocolate, raw cookies… the list goes on.

But, I’ve created a special snack for this movie trip and I’m calling it Pandora Superfood. It’s made of unique and delicious treats by Navitas Naturals. Hmmm… Na’vi? Navitas? Coincidence? 

It’s the perfect snack for this movie because the ingredients actually look and taste like something I’d imagine you’d find on Pandora! When I eat this I feel like I am flying on a dragon or swimming in pools of bioluminescent life force. :)

Here is what is in each portion for the movies:
2 Tablespoons Cacao Nibs

I love raw chocolate and I’m no stranger to it. According to Navitas Naturals’ websiteCacao has long been enjoyed for its healthful and invigorating properties in Mexican, Central, and South American cultures. In fact, Mayan civilizations associated cacao with the food that their gods chose to consume and thrive upon. So impressed were the Mayans with cacao’s taste (and its ability to promote energy), that cacao paste was frequently used in sacred rituals, with an annual festival held devoted entirely to honoring the “cacao god.” 

Cacao contains a naturally rich supply of antioxidants, and is also an excellent source of dietary fiber. In addition, cacao is known to be one of the highest dietary sources of magnesium, contains an impressively high iron content, and also possesses many other essential minerals in significant quantities.

2 Tablespoons Goji Berries

These pretty little gems are powerhouses of nutrition. I keep plenty of these stocked at my house.  According to Navitas Naturals’ websiteGoji berries have been appreciated in Asian herbal medicine for several millenniums, but only recently have western cultures “discovered” the power of this remarkable food. A small and red berry, goji’s grow on a thorny perennial bush, and are indigenous to the difficult terrains of the Himalayan mountain range. Often coined as “red diamonds” on the Asian market, the goji berry has long been regarded as one of the most nutrient-rich superfoods on the planet, with ancient Chinese monks crediting this berry to greater health, vitality, longevity, energy, and stamina. Western science agrees that indeed this special berry has a remarkable nutritional profile, and it is now among the most highly sought-after superfoods around.

Arguably among the most potent superfoods known, the goji berry offers an exceptional balance of daily macronutrients: containing carbohydrates, high-quality protein, healthy fat, and soluble fiber. The goji’s solid plant-based protein is packed with 18 amino acids — including all 8 essential amino acids – which is 10% of the fruits composition. Also full of free-radical-devouring antioxidants, goji berries have been historically used to support the immune system and longevity. Rich in vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C, these berries additionally possess over 20 trace minerals and vitamins including zinc, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin (B2), vitamin E, and carotenoids which include beta-carotene. And to put things in perspective on just how powerful the little goji berry is, ounce per ounce it contains more vitamin C than oranges, more beta carotene than carrots, and more iron than soybeans or spinach.

2 Tablespoons Mulberries

Lightly sweet with a wonderful texture. I want to eat these by the handful. And, heck, why not? These are amazing! According to Navitas Naturals’ websiteMulberry trees originally came over on the Silk Road from China to Turkey thousands of years ago. As one of the precious goods for trade, their leaves served as food for silk worms, and their delicious berries enjoyed as an exotic and divine treat. Today, the fruit is still an important part of the Turkish cultural tapestry, and the berry’s unique flavor is enjoyed by people around the world. 

More than just a sweet treat, Navitas Naturals Mulberries are a true superfood. They are one of the few fruits to be considered a protein source — boasting a respectable 3 grams of protein per ounce – and are an excellent source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, and fiber. Mulberries also contain a high concentration of Resveratrol, an antioxidant compound that combats free-radical damage. Recent studies have shown that regular consumption of this special antioxidant helps promote a healthy heart and longevity.

2 Tablespoons Goldenberries

The first time I tried these, I immediately thought, “Move over crappy sour patch kids, it’s time for something way more delish and oh-so-healthy at the same time!” These will throw a party in your mouth. According to Navitas Naturals’ websiteOriginally cultivated thousands of years ago in the Incan Empire, these dried berries have enjoyed a huge resurgence of popularity in markets around the world, due to their unique taste and remarkable health benefits. Also known as “Incan Berries” or “Cape Gooseberries,” Goldenberries grow in warm climates on a type of small but resilient bush, where natural paper hulks resembling Chinese lanterns delicately cradle the small golden fruit on the inside. Once harvested, the berries are sun-dried, developing a robust and complex citrus-like flavor that is appreciated by everyone from gourmet chefs to children.

Not your average dried fruit, flavor-packed Goldenberries also boast an excellent nutritional profile. The fruit is best noted for its high amounts of carotene and bioflavonoids (vitamin P) — nutrients which studies have shown to produce anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity (among many other benefits). Goldenberries are also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and contain a good amount of dietary fiber and pectin. Unlike most fruits, Goldenberries also contain protein and phosphorous.

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Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Food Matters Documentary – My Review About This Must-See Film

by Kristen Suzanne in cancer

I am inspired. I am motivated. I am feeling high after watching this documentary, even though it’s the fifth time I’ve seen it. When the publishers of Food Matters sent me a copy for review, I was elated because it had been on my to-do list for a long time. And, man, am I glad I saw it! I showed it to both my mom and husband and we all wholeheartedly agreed that this is a documentary we want to see a few times a year. It’s that good! Every time I see it, I hear something new. And for the stuff I’ve already heard, it just further ingrains it in my subconsciousness and I feel myself internalizing its details more and more. I walk away feeling strong, smart, and empowered about my lifestyle decisions, albeit a bit frustrated at times because not enough people know this information. That’s where YOU come in!

If you haven’t seen Food Matters yet… get to it! You can rent it on Netflix or purchase it here. Once it’s in your hot little hands – watch it multiple times! Then, be sure to share it with your family and friends. Here’s some of what you’ll learn:

  1. Heart disease and cancer are the top two killers in the United States annually. (That might not be breaking news to some people, but I get jolted every time I hear it.) Additionally, 39,000 people die due to unnecessary surgery and other errors in hospitals. But that’s not all! 80,000 people die due to other infections in hospitals and 106,000 people die due to adverse drug reactions.
  2. Less than 6% of graduating physicians in the USA receive any formal training in nutrition! Holy sh*t!! No wonder they almost never prescribe nutritional remedies to things that, er, are 100% curable with nutrition. It just pains me every time I hear this. 

I pretty much hang on every line of Food Matters. I love the discussion of vitamins and the vital role they can play in helping fight illness at various quantities. It was fascinating to learn about therapeutic effects of niacin, and its history as a cure for depression with the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s important to recognize that vitamins enable the body to heal, it’s not the vitamins doing the healing. The body is powerful when given the right tools and building blocks.

The documentary also covers eye-opening, scary information about drugs, their trials, studies, and regulatory approval process. You’re not going to hear drug companies telling you that “two handfuls of cashews can give you the same therapeutic equivalent of a prescription dose of Prozac.” No wonder I love Raw vegan cheesecake.

Food Matters also addresses the fact that cardiovascular disease is a lifestyle disease which can be reversed with… drumroll please… DIET, FOOD, NUTRIENTS, STRESS REDUCTION, EXERCISE. Again, this is not rocket science. It’s a simple formula that we can all apply. (Ehem! I hope my dad is reading my blog.)  The scary aspect of it is the dependance on physicians who are viewed as omniscient, but who lack nutrition education, such as two physicians I heard last week on CNN and MSNBC about how heart disease “can’t be cured.” They don’t know!! Instead, they are knowledgeable only about drugs, and educated by the drug companies themselves. Something is very wrong with that picture. But, of course, this isn’t generally known to the public because:

  1. Most doctors are not trained to the know this information.
  2. There is no profit prescribing fruits and veggies. Drug companies have a duty to shareholders, and I get that. But, guess what? I have a duty to myself. So take that drug companies!

It was gripping learning about the amazing success of Gerson Therapy with some forms of cancer. Why aren’t more oncologists recommending this? My Nana died of malignant melanoma, where Gerson Therapy has been particularly effective. Why didn’t my Nana’s doctor tell her about this amazing vitamin-megadosing, nutritional option? Because they didn’t know about it!… Why not? Because they aren’t taught about it, and frankly, many physicians are not open to natural therapies, even though that’s how the body works. I wish I had known back then what I know now, because my grandmother would’ve been open to that form of therapy. I don’t want to come off too hard on doctors because I do recognize that there is a place for them and hospitals. They’re excellent in many aspects of medicine (acute illnesses, traumas, surgery, etc.) but they are systematically failing at helping us with many chronic diseases because they treat symptoms instead of underlying causes. The bottom line is, despite decades of research and new drugs, that the incidence of diseases like heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes… they’re going up. It’s sadly laughable to look at the money spent on the “war on cancer” and its failure to reduce cancer rates or deaths. I just wish more professionals would talk about how a healthy plant-strong lifestyle is helpful at fighting cancer and preventing it. It’s worked for so many already, and for those of us who don’t have that diagnosis of cancer, let’s do everything we can to prevent it. Go Plants!

Food does matter. Our bodies are powerful if only we’ll give them a chance to be strong with healthy, organic plant-based foods. So, choose those! Stack the deck in your favor! Set yourself up to win! Strengthen your immune system nutritionally! Nourish yourself with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients! Watch Food Matters and get FIRED UP about this awesome lifestyle!

Here is a great song they featured in Food Matters. Check out the lyrics here and sing along as you listen.

Here is a trailer for Food Matters.

Have you seen Food Matters? What did you think?

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Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Raw Vegan Recipe: Kristen’s Cacao Cookie Crumble

by Kristen Suzanne in almonds, cashews, raw chocolate

Here is a simple and satisfying little recipe that can be put together in minutes. Yum Yum! I hope you like it as much as I do. But, how could you not? It has raw chocolate in it. Many of you have let me know that you’ve been loving up my Cherry Chocolate Bomb Shake recipe, and I suspect you same peeps will like this raw vegan recipe, too!

I think it’s important to have an arsenal of EASY Raw Vegan recipes available that only use a handful of ingredients. It’s one of the keys for succeeding with this wonderful lifestyle. I’m going to be relying on them even more in the near future as my family grows. When my little bundle of joy arrives I will be more than grateful to have quick, healthy recipes for my family to thrive on and enjoy.

So, back to this fun recipe, Kristen’s Cacao Cookie Crumble. There are many ways to enjoy this delectable treat. I eat it plain, in a little cup (as pictured). My husband LOVES it all by itself, too. We also like to slice organic bananas and sprinkle it on top. Adding it on top of raw ice cream or mousse is awesome -> oh boy! My mom loves it by itself alongside a cup of organic decaf coffee. It’s versatile, as most Raw Vegan foods are, so it can be enjoyed as part of a breakfast, lunch, dessert, or snack! :)

I made a big batch a couple weeks ago and we just polished it off Tuesday night. I think we’re going to enjoy this as our dessert on Valentine’s Day… I better make some more! 

Kristen’s Cacao Cookie Crumble
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield approximately 10 servings

1 cup almonds
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup raw chocolate powder
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
pinch Himalayan crystal salt
14 medjool dates, pitted and chopped

Using a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, process the nuts until they are a coarse ground consistency. Add the chocolate powder, vanilla bean, chocolate extract, and salt, and pulse briefly to mix. Add the chopped dates and process until thoroughly combined like a chunky crumble. Note: The longer you process it, the more oils get released from the nuts making it stick together more.

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Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Kristen’s Raw 19th Awesome Giveaway – FREE ZUKAY DRESSINGS!

by Kristen Suzanne in awesome giveaway, fermented, raw

Another awesome giveaway? Already? YES! I’m selecting one winner for this fabulous prize, and if it’s YOU, then get ready for some delicious, healthy, spunky salads in your future! Zukay has been kind enough to offer one of my readers the generous prize of a “1 of each dressing” sampler pack (6 total dressings). And let me tell you…. they are good. I love that they’re living, low calorie, vegan, and fermented – I’m way into fermenting. I previously wrote about Zukay’s dressings in a post here, check it out.

It’s simple to participate! All you have to do is answer the following question in this post’s comment section. The contest will end Monday night, February 15th @ 11:59pm. I’ll enter everyone’s name who answered the question into a drawing and announce the winner on my blog Tuesday, February 16th. *Please note: While I would love to hear from everyone around the world in answering this question, I have to limit the winner to a person living in the United States.

QUESTION: What product(s) or flavor(s) would you like to see Zukay offer?

Want another chance to win? Tweet a link to this blog post and come back to let me know in a separate comment. 
Want another chance to win? Facebook a link to this blog post and come back to let me know in a separate comment.

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Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Raw Vegan Recipe (video): Cherry Chocolate Bomb Shake

by Kristen Suzanne in video

Here is one of my latest and greatest concoctions! I love it so much that at night when I’m going to bed, I’m already looking forward to the next day when I get to make it. It’s that good! I named it Cherry Chocolate Bomb Shake because it’s the bomb! This fun shake is loaded with superior nutrition including superfood hemp seeds, raw chocolate powder, and hemp protein powder, along with organic fruit. It has about 35 grams of raw vegan protein, which is great for the little baby growing inside me. Oh, and I recently shared this recipe with another pregnant mama friend of mine and she went crazy for it. She loved it so much that she went to the store and stocked up on the ingredients so she could make it over and over.
YUM! I’m going to say it again…. YUM!!! OH! And this will make a perfect Valentine’s Day shake.

Cherry Chocolate Bomb Shake
Recipe by Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield 3 cups

1 cup filtered water
1 frozen banana, chopped
1 cup frozen cherries
1/4 cup hemp protein powder
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons raw chocolate powder
splash vanilla extract

Blend this goodness up, and enjoy it as it helps make your day one of the best days ever!

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Friday, February 5th, 2010

Exercise Is Non-Negotiable! Fight Diabetes!

by Kristen Suzanne in exercise

I was watching Oprah’s show yesterday about diabetes. Man, that is scary stuff! I mean, I know it’s awful to have diabetes, but the statistics are a friggin’ growing nightmare! When are people going to wake up and realize that soda, donuts, and fried chicken are crap?! I’m grateful that I’m on a plan for life where the odds are that I’ll never even come close to getting that terrible disease… meanwhile, the cost of it is going to take our nation down if something doesn’t change, and for that, I’m miffed. Come on people! Let’s get this under control! It’s not rocket science… it’s simply eating delicious healthy food and moving our tooshies! Can you tell I’m a little fired up about this? 

One of the things I took away from Oprah’s show was the importance of exercise. True, I always knew this information, but I love watching things, reading information, and hearing aspects that continue to motivate and inspire me. When Bob Greene came on the scene he said two things that I loved:

  • Exercise is non-negotiable. There really isn’t much more to say about that statement because it says it all right there. But, I’ll elaborate on how this felt when I heard it. As far as I’m concerned, my vegan diet is non-negotiable. What I put in my mouth always has a purpose for the good. Well, exercise has the same effect if it’s put in the right perspective. Exercising isn’t new to me, and making it a priority has always been important. But, there are times where I have gone a couple weeks without doing it. I didn’t worry much during those times because I knew myself well enough to know that I’d get back into it. But, nonetheless, an “object at rest tends to stay at rest” and “an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” I want motion! Once I was given the OK to do some walking and exercise during my pregnancy, the role of it took on more meaning to me. I now had two goals: maintain a healthy pregnancy weight and build up stamina for labor. Not to mention that it would be healthy for the growing life inside me, too! I committed to 5 days a week of walking 2 miles each day. And, I’ve stuck to it. I love the habit it’s become. When I add the idea that it’s non-negotiable, well, it feels even more hardcore. 
  • Exercising 30 minutes a day can lower the risk of diabetes by 60%! Whoa! Did that statistic just rock your core as much as it did mine when I heard it? Like… wow! Bring that exercise ON! Again, there isn’t much I need to say about this because that awesome statement says it all! But… I will. We can’t just rely on food for health. Yes, it’s a HUGE part. But, it’s not the whole plan. You can’t be truly healthy if you’re not physically fit. The great thing is it’s so easy to get started because there is a magical force that takes over once you get going. You can literally start with a 10-minute walk once a day. Then, after a week or so, I bet you’ll want to do the 10-minute walk twice a day. We’re only talking 10 minutes! How easy is that? Once you start doing that every day, or maybe 5 days a week, you get excited and the momentum builds. Before you know it, you’re taking that 10-minute walk three times a day, pumping your arms and getting your heart rate up, and lowering your risk of diabetes by a whopping 60%. When I started my pregnancy walking, my midwife suggested one mile a day, four days a week. I did that for a week and quickly found that I wanted more. The next week I told myself that it would be 2 miles a day and I’d do it 5-6 days a week. It’s gloriously refreshing and I can’t imagine ever stopping.
Today’s exercise was fun! My normal 2-mile walk takes me 40-45 minutes. But today, I made it even better. I went on a hike that was easy in some parts and moderate in other parts. The time it took to complete was 65 minutes! Whoo hoo! That’s some awesome exercise. I felt (and still feel) fantastically full of life!

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Friday, February 5th, 2010

Winner of My 18th Awesome Giveaway – CHIA SEEDS!

by Kristen Suzanne in awesome giveaway, chia seeds

Congratulations Kaysie! Your name was chosen as the winner of my 18th Awesome Giveaway. The prize: A 2-pound bag of chia seeds from Chia Seeds Direct. Simply email me with your address so I can get the chia seeds sent to you.

Here is what Kaysie had to say when asked, “If you win these chia seeds, what is the first thing you want to make with them?”

“I have often put chia seeds in my green smoothies but if I win I think I will make chia pudding. I have not made it before and have been seeing it a lot recently! Thanks!”

My next Awesome Giveaway is right around the corner on February 10, so check back for details!

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Thursday, February 4th, 2010

High Raw, All Vegan Food Intake – Pregnancy Food Journal – Wednesday

by Kristen Suzanne in Bora Bora, pregnancy, young Thai coconut

I’m 21 weeks along now in my pregnancy, and I’m so crazy super happy. Every day I wake up filled with so much joy at the thought of sharing my whole day with the growing life inside me… waiting for those fun kicks and jabs I get from him or her, and smiling all day long.

Nutrition is something I get really excited about; I’ve always had a passion for it and as such I’ve been researching it for about 15 years. Now that I’m pregnant, I take it even more seriously and I get really excited about all the foods I’m feeding both myself and my baby. It’s a pretty proud feeling to know that I’m consuming the healthiest foods in the world. To tell you the truth, I’m grateful that my body is craving these foods and has since day one of being pregnant except for about 10-14 days when I didn’t want anything unless it was bland. But, even during my weeks of intense all-day-morning sickness, I still craved fresh salads and juicy fruits most of the time. Don’t get me wrong… I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there are times a donut sounds REALLY friggin’ tasty (not the norm for sure, but it has happened a couple times), but I’m not about to give in to something like that. Every bite of food is a chance to make my body and baby stronger and healthier… or not. I choose stronger and healthier.

Here is today’s High Raw, All Vegan food intake:

3 cups Organic Brown Juice
It was brown, instead of green, so let’s call it that. And, it was soooo yummy. I was actually surprised that it tasted as lovely as it did. I made it with my Hurom juicer and strained out any little bits of pulp using a nut milk bag to make it extra smooth. My brown juice was made from delicious, locally grown organic beets, beet greens, and oranges (the oranges were from my mom’s tree), plus organic cucumbers I bought at Whole Foods.

1/2 cup Organic Green Pudding

I made this a few days ago and have been having it for breakfast every morning since. It had chia seeds, shredded coconut, greens, and fruit. It was fun, vibrant, filling, and yummy.

Huge Organic Salad

I used organic, locally grown (from our awesome certified organic CSA) red leaf lettuce and carrots along with an organic cucumber and apple from Whole Foods. I added organic olives to my husband’s plate. The dressing is watered down Cayenne Tahini Dressing from my Salads and Dressings book.

3 cups Chocolate Spiced Hemp Shake

Exercise is important while pregnant to help build endurance for labor and to help maintain a healthy weight. The kind of exercise can vary depending on the woman and her prior routine. I’m opting for lots of walking during my pregnancy (about 2 miles 5-6 days a week). In fact, my midwife says walking is the best exercise for pregnancy and labor preparation. Today, I went on a fast paced, 2 mile walk with my dog which pumped me up a bit – fresh air, blood circulating, and good tunes on my iPod. When I came home, I was famished and made a satisfying protein shake to feed my hungry cells. It was scrumptious!

Chocolate Spiced Hemp Shake
Yield 3 cups
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com

1 cup water
1 cup ice
3 small bananas
1/4 cup hemp protein powder
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons raw chocolate powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Blend it up and enjoy this delectable shake. :)

2 cups Young Thai Coconut Water

I looooove fresh coconut water – it’s beautifully refreshing and delightfully tasty. Unfortunately, the coconut water I had tonight was not organic. In fact, there is controversy over whether young Thai coconuts are very healthy based on the processing they undergo to help them stay fresh during their transport. As a result, I will do one of two things. I either don’t consume them very often (I buy them at Whole Foods Market when I do), or I’ll buy a case of them online, where they’re both organic and minimally processed because they’re shipped quickly after harvesting. I haven’t done the latter of the two yet, but I plan on placing an order soon and separating the meat and water and then freezing them. My desire is to have it available during my homebirth to replenish electrolytes and keep me hydrated. (Read about my I’m having a homebirth here.) 

Organic Sunshine Burger, Guacamole, Salad
My husband had a meeting tonight so I was on my own for dinner. I decided to have a date with one of my favorite documentaries, Food Matters, and enjoy a healthy dinner. Food Matters should be in everyone’s home library so it can be viewed on a regular basis – we like to watch it every month or two. Dinner consisted of 2 Sunshine Burger patties (available in the freezer section of Whole Foods Market). These burgers are wonderful. Even thought they’re cooked, I think they’re one of the healthiest veg burgers on the market: all organic, non-soy, non-dairy, non-gluten, minimal ingredients, and packed with nice flavor (more details on their website here). One of my favorite ways to have their burgers is with my Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce on it, but I didn’t have any of that, so I whipped up a little batch of mini-guacamole (avocado, lime juice, Himalayan crystal salt) and topped the burgers with that. Next to it, I enjoyed another organic, locally grown salad with red bell pepper, carrots, and cucumber dressed with lemon juice, raw olive oil, Himalayan crystal salt, and black pepper.

1 cup organic Peaceful Mama Tea from Earth Mama * Angel Baby 

Yay! I have been given the green light from my midwife to have organic tea blends including red raspberry leaf (I loved drinking organic red raspberry leaf tea from Traditional Medicinals and Mountain Rose Herbs while I was trying to conceive to help strengthen my uterus, so I couldn’t wait until my midwife said it was safe to drink it again). I was sent a sample box of Earth Mama * Angel Baby Organics tea. The Peaceful Mama flavor is pretty good, although a little light in flavor. I really enjoyed their Morning Wellness Tea because I’m a big fan of spearmint. It smelled so good that I would spend about 5 minutes smelling the tea bag before I put it into the hot waterl.

There is a good chance that I’ll want to snack on something else later in the evening and if I do, I think the organic mango and pineapple in my refrigerator are going to call my name. Tropical salad – yeehaw! I think I’ll wear my shell necklace that I brought home from our wedding in Bora Bora to complete the experience. ;)

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Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Raw Vegan "Protein Grenades" Help Keep My Husband Strong!

by Kristen Suzanne in hemp protein, sun warrior rice protein
How many of you have heard it before (especially from men)… “BUT, WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN WITH THAT DIET?”

Or… perhaps the #1 thing that deters men from trying a vegan diet: I’M AFRAID I’LL LOSE MY MUSCLE.”


Well, let me tell you… YES, it can be done. My husband is living proof. Muscle isn’t reserved for only the meat-heads. Just look around in nature and see the massive strength in herbivorous animals such as horses, gorillas, buffalo, elephants, hippopotamus, and more. News Flash to the Doubting Omnivores…. yes, you can build muscle with the proper plant based foods and some work in the gym. Let me take a step further. I’m not just referring to a vegan diet with cooked proteins; this can be done with a High Raw (or All Raw), All Vegan diet. You don’t see elephants and horses grilling up their leaves or sauteeing their twigs, right?

So… how can it be done?
Well, let me share with you some details about my husband and his experience. My husband follows along with my raw vegan diet (we go back and forth between all raw and high raw). However, he wasn’t always a vegan (read about our beginnings here in my post To Date or Not to Date a Carnivore). But, he is now. His answer when people ask about the way he eats and whether he misses meat, “Are you kidding? My wife is a Raw Vegan chef. I live like a movie star… I look up from my computer when I’m working, and there is a plate full of amazing food! We want to live long healthy lives together, and this is the way to do it.”

But it took some convincing initially. When my husband first started looking into the plant-based diet with me, he did his own research (he’s very sciency). He did his own reading, not only into the health aspects of raw and vegan food, but he also seriously questioned whether he’d be able to maintain his muscle mass and strength on this diet. And not just maintain it, but actually he wanted to get bigger and stronger, despite being 38 at the time. It had always been hard for him to put on muscle. Prior to meeting me, through trial and error, he had figured out that, for his ectomorphic body type, he needed a lot of protein to add mass which he derived almost exclusively from whey protein shakes. So, I promised him we’d make it happen, one way or another with plenty or raw and vegan foods. If he needed protein, I’d give him protein. Only now he would be consuming clean, efficient, non-cancer-promoting protein. None of that nasty, acidic animal based protein that burns dirty and can make you tired… not to mention, ehem… unhealthy! Suffice it to say, he was excited… but with so few role models, understandably skeptical.

The verdict? Plants work!! His strength has increased, and he can maintain (or gain mass) based on his diet and workout routine. In fact, after an involuntary hiatus brought on by a shoulder injury, he is now bench-pressing his lifetime personal best, using only plants as food!

So, how does he do it specifically? It’s a pretty simple formula that works for him. Dedication. Working out. Extra protein (much of which is from protein shakes). He strength trains about 5 days a week. And… he’s in awesome shape.

When researching vegan proteins, I came across some excellent information in Brendan Brazier’s book, Thrive. In it, he describes how to get an optimal ratio of essential amino acids from plant sources. Specifically, a mixture of hemp protein, brown rice protein, and pea protein. Through the Vega product line, Brendan sells a protein powder blend that consisted of those proteins. (Update 8/17/11: I don’t care for the taste of the Whole Food Health Optimizer line from Vega, but we do like the Sport Performance and Shake & Go lines.) I decided to make my own blends and researched ways to make my own custom mixture of proteins using Brendan’s ideas to get me started.

Enter: Raw Vegan “Protein Grenades.” What are Raw Vegan Protein Grenades? They are mini glass mason filled jars filled with one pre-mixed shake’s worth of Raw Vegan protein powders. Just dump into a shaker cup, add water, and shake! Each Grenade is pre-mixed to contain an optimal amino acid profile — all from plant-based proteins. The recipe varies slightly from week to week, because I like to change it up for fun. Some of the different elements are included in the photo below (but I’m always trying new products so that photo doesn’t show it all), but you can get an idea of some of the goodies involved. Because there are some days when my husband drinks anywhere from 2 to 5 of these shakes (depending on what we’re doing, eating, or his workout routine and goals), I vary the ingredients accordingly. For example, if he is loading up and drinks 4-5 shakes in a day, then the amount of green powder and fruit powder will be about 1 teaspoon per Grenade. But if he only drinks 1-2 per day, then I increase the green powder and fruit powder in each one, so he ends up getting roughly the same amount of super mega phytonutrients. (I always make sure he gets a hellalotta nutrients in addition to protein.) 

Different Amounts For Different Goals: During periods when my husband is doing intense training and really getting lean, it can be common for him to drink up to 4-5 Raw Vegan Protein Grenades daily plus he’ll eat one meal, usually a huge organic salad loaded with veggies alongside a cooked vegan protein (beans, lentils, soy, or Gardein), or sometimes it’s an all-raw vegan dinner like lasagna, tacos, or zucchini pasta marinara. When gaining strength or mass isn’t his goal… meaning that he is in a maintenance phase without the intense training schedule, then he usually drinks 1-2 Protein Grenades a day, and eats about 2 meals which are moderate to high raw, plus snacks as he desires (some examples of snacks he likes: fresh green juice, green smoothies, sprouted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, sprouts, raisins, hemp seeds, prunes, fruit, etc). And, of course, there are some days where he skips the Grenades altogether, and his diet is filled with delicious raw and vegan whole foods. It varies based on his goals at the time, but the bottom line is that because of this super easy Grenade innovation, he can be very flexible yet consistently get plenty of protein.

The Assembly Line: To make life easy on myself, I make up a bunch of Raw Vegan Protein Grenades every few days. I do it in an assembly line fashion. It’s actually fun. If my husband has meetings outside of the home for the day, then he takes a bag of Grenades along with a shaker bottle and water, and he’s all set. Each Protein Grenade has roughly 40-45 grams of pure, raw, vegan, potent protein. If it’s true that raw vegan protein is assimilated better than cooked protein, then you can imagine how powerful these Grenades really are.

Here is a list of items that might be included (not all at once, although many make an appearance):

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