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 Mothering.com’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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Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Dr. Oz Turns Meat Loving Cowboy Vegan

by Kristen Suzanne in vegan

Here’s a great testimonial for the power of the vegan diet. Rocco, a cowboy who loved everything meat and never had any green on his plate, followed Dr. Oz’s advice for a 28-day vegan diet. Check out the results. Thanks to VegSource.com for directing me to this video!

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Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

8 Week Ultrasound Shows Healthy Heart Beat

by Kristen Suzanne in Mini IVF, pregnancy

Here’s our Monkey striking a pose during the 8 week ultrasound. According to the tech, everything is normal – YAY! I’ll get a call from New Hope Fertility Clinic later today to confirm after my doctor checks out the results.

I’m not crazy about ultrasounds during pregnancy. In fact, my doctor wanted me to get one last week and I skipped it. But… I did want to make sure everything was okay so I went ahead with it at week 8. I have my all day morning sickness to let me know that I’m very much pregnant, but I’m also still taking estrogen during the first trimester so I thought it’d be smart to get the ultrasound and see what the doc says. After all… maybe he’ll be able to take me off it early like he did with the progesterone. I’ve been told that because we went through Mini-IVF, my body didn’t start to produce it’s own progesterone and estrogen so I had to take the medication. However, early on, my progesterone actually shot up on its own, and the doc took me off it. I’m eager to get off the estrogen as soon as possible, too.

I have to admit though…. it was so awesome(!) seeing Monkey and his/her little heart beating away.

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Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine – Interview of Dr. Blaylock By Dr. Mercola

by Kristen Suzanne in pregnancy

I found this interview full of important information. Find out all the reasons why pregnant women should NEVER get the H1N1 vaccine. Renowned expert exposes major H1N1 myths.”

It’s long, but VERY much worth listening to. I had a few jaw dropping moments while I was listening to it. In the end, everyone needs to decide for themselves what is best… but it’s important to have all of the information in doing so.

And! Here is a great thread from Mothering.com’s community: What can a pregnant mama do for swine flu?

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Monday, November 2nd, 2009

How To Choose A Ripe Tomato

by Kristen Suzanne in tomato

While we were in NY back in September, I came across a farmers’ market where I saw this little sign posted (from Stokes Farm) on how to choose a ripe tomato. I learned a couple things. :)

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Supplements While I’m Pregnant

by Kristen Suzanne in pregnancy

I’m asked all the time about which supplements I’m taking while pregnant. There are a few things that I take for sure… meaning that I will take them throughout the pregnancy, and there are some things that I’ll take for a certain period of time and then, perhaps, stop. There are some women who don’t feel the need to take supplements while pregnant. Personally, because I’m vegan, I want to make sure my diet is complete, so I feel better by supplementing. Moreover, with the “all-day ‘morning’ sickness” I’m experiencing, I feel even more compelled to take some things because it’s hard for me to get a balanced diet right now.

The following are things I’m taking, but they may not be what you took while pregnant, or want to take if you’re pregnant now. Everyone is different. I researched these items thoroughly before deciding what would work best for me and my baby. If you have questions about your own situation, I’d suggest researching information yourself, and then asking your midwife or doctor.

Here are the items I will take throughout the pregnancy for sure (the prenatal and DHA I pretty much take daily, the others in this list I take every other day or a couple times a week).
  • Vitamin B12
  • DHA (vegan) (there are many vegan options other than NuTru)
  • prenatal*
  • wheat grass (in pill and/or powder depending on how I feel)
  • probiotic**
  • Vitamin D
*Vitamin Code sent me their Raw prenatal to try, which is what I’m taking now. I’m happy with it although it’s hard to say whether I notice anything (as is the case with many multi-vitamins when your diet is already good). I’ve been told that the Vitamin Code prenatal would help with morning sickness. It has not changed that for me – I’m still nauseated all day (remember though, I love it, hard as it is. It’s the daily sign of my pregnancy, so I’m not complaining. In fact, if it went away before the second trimester started, I might be a little bummed). Vitamin Code also sent me other products to try. 

UPDATE: Vitamin Code’s prenatal might not be very vegan after all. The D3 is derived from lanolin – ugh! However, they state that they are following the definition of “vegan” as prescribed by the Vegan Society. You can read more about it on Garden of Life’s website. **Also, you’ll see Dr. Ohhira’s probiotic in the picture. That has beeswax in it so I no longer take that for my probiotic. Instead, I’m taking Ejuva’s Moflora for my probiotic.

I have also spent part of the past year taking New Chapter Organic Prenatal. That is a highly reputable company and many women have successfully used their prenatal. I love that it’s made from food and is organic, but my biggest complaint is that it’s in a tablet form instead of a capsule. From what I understand, when a company makes a tablet, it usually requires heat. Vitamin Code’s Raw Prenatal is in a capsule form, making it easier for them to keep it Raw, which I love. Update {2/9/11}: I have since learned that New Chapter’s Prenatal is not vegan. 

The most important thing for me when getting a prenatal was making sure there were not any synthetics in it. Here is a blog post about when I found synthetics in my prenatals last year. If a prenatal is truly a whole food vitamin, then it shouldn’t upset my stomach when I take it without food. And, in my experience, whole food multi-vitamins don’t turn my urine yellow.

There are some other things I take, although I don’t take them daily, and I’m not sure I’ll take them through the whole pregnancy. It depends on how I feel as time goes by, as well as what foods I’ve had in any particular day. They are:
  • Spirulina
  • Chlorella*
  • Kelp granules
  • Iron
  • B-complex
  • Vitamin E**
  • Protein powder(s) to help me keep my protein higher on all-raw days
  • Chia / Flax seeds
*Chlorella can be tricky because it can cause detox to occur. I’ve been taking this all year pretty much, so my body is used to it. I’m not sure I’d be taking it while pregnant if I hadn’t already had experience taking it prior to getting pregnant. And, it’s not something I take daily anymore either.

**Vitamin E is known as a fertility vitamin because it’s reputed for helping to reduce the rate of miscarriage. I try to get most of my vitamin E from foods, such as organic sprouted sunflower seeds, but I don’t always get enough of those, so on occasion I supplement with it.

I’ve listed some of the things I’m currently taking, but there is so much more than just writing a list. My diet changes all the time – sometimes I get in bananas and avocados (these have B-vitamins) and sometimes I get lentils and other higher protein, iron rich foods. Some days I have oranges and kiwi and greens so I’m getting minerals and phytonutrients. Some days I have herbal teas of nettle and alfalfa (and in the future trimesters, I’ll add raspberry leaf tea). The bottom line is that my diet changes, and as a result, I’m prepared for any possible inadequacies I might experience. I pay attention to my diet every day, with every meal. Some people might say that I over-think this stuff. Quite the contrary. One way I don’t stress about getting the perfect diet is knowing that I have supplements and super foods available to help balance everything. Plus, most importantly, I’m doing everything I can to provide the best environment for my baby. There can be no over-thinking, if you ask me, so long as you don’t stress about it (stress is one of the worst things for a pregnancy).

I’ll say again, not everyone is the same. Not all pregnant, mostly Raw, women will think they need to supplement. I’m not here to prescribe a list for you. It’s simply what I’m taking. Based on my information here, you can further research it, and evaluate your own lifestyle – Do you live in a toxic city or in the woods? Do you have a balanced diet? Is it organic? Are you stressed? Did you have fertility issues? Do you get enough rest? Do you meditate? Do you exercise or burn extra calories? Are you older or younger? Do you have allergies which restrict certain foods from your diet? – As you can see, we are all different and we should all take care and pay special attention to our own, unique situations. A great example is that when I told people about my nausea, I had many people tell me to have ginger. Ginger didn’t help me one bit. I had others tell me to have lemon. Lemon didn’t help me one bit. The list went on and on (peppermint, carbonation, acupressure bracelets, etc). What I think is great is to have all of these wonderful options available and experiences from people. But keep in mind that we’re all different (my mom is amazed that I still love the smell of coffee because she hated it when she was pregnant. She also finds it weird that she only had sickness in the morning and I have it all day. So, as you can see, it’s even different for people in the same family). You never know what might work so don’t be afraid to try different things. Do what is best for you and your baby.

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