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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Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Kristen’s Raw 18th Awesome Giveaway – FREE CHIA SEEDS!

by Kristen Suzanne in awesome giveaway, chia seeds

It’s time for another awesome giveaway! The prize this time? CHIA SEEDS! WHOOHOO! I will be drawing the name of 1 winner, who will receive a 2-pound bag of chia seeds (courtesy of Chia Seeds Direct).

Chia seeds rock the house. Most of you already know I’m a big fan of these cute lil guys. Read my post about chia here, the “Dieter’s Dream Food.” Chia seeds are being praised for many things including their fantastic nutrient profile, which proudly boasts iron, boron, essential fatty acids, fiber, and more. Add to that the claims that they may improve heart health, reduce blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar, help people lose weight from giving them extra stamina, energy, and curbing hunger, and you might become a fan of these little guys, too. They’re superstars in my house and we consume them on a regular basis.

There are many wonderful ways to enjoy them, for example:

  • Plain, by the spoonful (be sure to carry dental floss… I’m speaking from experience – lol)
  • Roll a peeled banana in them
  • Add them to smoothies and Raw vegan nut/seed milks
  • Make chia crackers (like here) or chia bread (like here, this recipe doesn’t call for chia seeds specifically, but you can substitute the “twister” blend for ground chia)
  • Make raw jelly
  • And… drumroll please…. chia pudding (like Holiday Chia Pudding! Have you made this yet?) It’s the best!
Want the chance to win? 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 Thursday night, February 4th @ 11:59pm. I’ll enter everyone’s name who answered the question into a drawing and announce the winner on my blog Friday, February 5th. *Please note: this month’s contest is only open to people living in the United States and Canada.

Question: If you win these chia seeds, what is the first thing you want to make with them?

Want another chance to win? Tweet a link to this blog post and come back to let me know in a separate comment. And… 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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Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Raw Vegan Recipe: Gently Spiced Omega Protein Shake

by Kristen Suzanne in chia seeds, Hemp, hemp protein, hemp seeds

I just love a good shake and this is definitely one to put on the “household staples” list. It’s filled with protein, omega fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It’s filling. It’s lightly sweet. It’s AWESOME! It’s perfect for the growing baby inside me.

Gently Spiced Omega Protein Shake
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield 3 cups

1 cup water
1 cup ice
2 bananas, peeled
2 heaping tablespoons hemp protein powder
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice

Blend it all up and enjoy the omega – protein power combo!

For more great Raw Vegan beverage recipes, check out my book (ebook also available), Kristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Vegan Smoothies, Juices, Elixirs & Drinks

And, for more healthy Raw Vegan hemp recipes, check out my book (ebook also available), Kristen Suzanne’s Ultimate Raw Vegan Hemp Recipes.

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Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Raw Vegan Recipe: Zippy Energy Soup

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

Here is a wonderfully simple… bursting with fresh and gentle flavors… delicious zippy punch… Raw Vegan Soup! This recipe is filled with superior nutrition including fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. For example, there’s avocado which is not only rich in texture, but also rich in nutrients. It’s filled with a whopping 9 grams of dietary fiber (sometimes more!), plus B-vitamins, including folic acid – making this an excellent choice for pregnant ladies.

Zippy Energy Soup
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield 3 cups

2/3 cup water
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups kale
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 avocado pitted and peeled
1 tablespoon Garlic Red Pepper Miso*
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
3/4 – 1 teaspoon wasabi powder

Blend everything together until creamy and enjoy a zippy day!

* South River Miso is the BEST miso on the planet. It’s organic and they even offer soy-free varieties, like the one used in this soup. You can substitute with any flavor miso, but Garlic Red Pepper is so very much especially nice. Last year I bought a mixture of about 10 jars of their various miso from them. They basically last forever so I stock up and take advantage of their 10% discount on orders $100 or more.

For more delicious Raw Vegan soup recipes, check out my book (ebook is also available), Kristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Vegan Soup Recipes.

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Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Chocolate While Trying To Conceive or Pregnant

by Kristen Suzanne in chocolate, pregnancy, raw chocolate

I’ve received a number of emails and blog comments from women asking about the consumption of chocolate while trying to conceive and/or while pregnant. It’s a great question. I know that during previous blog posts I was avoiding chocolate when trying to conceive, and at the time I imagined that I’d also be avoiding it during pregnancy. That said, it’s important to constantly reassess values, ideas, and plans on an ongoing basis to see if things change when new information becomes available (or when hormones take over, LOL… just kidding. Mostly.). But in all seriousness, as you’ll read below, yes, it’s true: I have enjoyed some Raw chocolate while pregnant. So. What changed? Read on…

As many of you know, I’m not a midwife or doctor, so the information I’m sharing is about what I am doing and is in no way prescriptive for you.

Chocolate While Trying to Conceive
When I was TTC (trying to conceive) I eliminated virtually all caffeine including chocolate, coffee, and tea. I might have had one or two bites of Raw chocolate over a span of a couple of months at a time, but you get the picture. Chocolate has a limited amount of caffeine and so I was avoiding it. It also has another “stimulating” type of ingredient called theobromine, which interestingly literally means food of the gods.

Do I think chocolate needs to be avoided completely while TTC? Not necessarily. I do think there are some bad forms of chocolate and I think there are some healthier options. Personally, I would avoid the bad forms, i.e. processed, non-vegan, loaded-with-crap chocolate. The healthier option would be Raw, organic, vegan, dark chocolate. That said, not everyone responds well to chocolate, raw or otherwise, so that should be taken into consideration.

Chocolate While Pregnant
During my first trimester, I don’t recall having any Raw chocolate… I might have had a bite, but I remember staying away from it, so maybe I had my chocolate in a dream? :) When I think back, I didn’t have a solid reason for my choc-abstinence, other than thinking it might be too stimulating from the caffeine (albeit limited) or theobromine, or that having it meant also having the sugar (like the agave in many chocolate recipes). Interestingly, I have since read of a study showing a link between regular chocolate consumption and reduced risk of miscarriage during the first trimester. Go figure.

Now that I’m in my second trimester, I have had a couple of pieces of Raw organic vegan chocolate here and there. What changed? Honestly, I don’t know that I can pinpoint it exactly. For starters, I am sticking to the Raw variety while pregnant, so I have that going for me. The other thing that happened to me was that, frankly, I really wanted a piece! It sounded so good. I was having a number of headaches at the time and maybe my body was telling me I needed magnesium. Raw chocolate is a great source for that. My hormones were raging, too, so perhaps my mind craved chocolate’s calming effects. Perhaps there was a magical force drawing me, as though by instinct alone, to my freezer where the Raw chocolate was just sitting there, waiting to be eaten. I’m guessing it’s all of the above.

I spoke with my midwife and she is fine if I have some chocolate. I’ve since learned that many healthy pregnant women I know indulged in chocolate happily and without guilt while pregnant – I was suddenly the weird one for having stayed away from it. To be sure, I continued with my research and found that prenatal chocolation is fine according to some other books and sources as well. For example, in Shazzie’s wonderful and colorful book about pregnancy and birth, Evie’s Kitchen, she writes, “…We also discovered that researchers had found babies born to chocolate-eating mothers were happier.”

Overall, I feel comfortable enjoying my Raw chocolate in moderation. I might add that it tastes so wonderful – it feels so wonderful – that I’m confident it’s spreading good feelings and vibes through my body when I have it, which are shared with my baby. Within reason, happy mommy = happy Monkey.

I totally understand if some women avoided it altogether and I would also understand if someone had some (although I wouldn’t recommend consuming large quantities). Based on all of the conflicting points of view on this subject, I’m of the opinion that there is no broad consensus as of yet on a “right answer” that can be confidently prescribed for all women. And remember, every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. As always, if you have concerns, a good place to start is by discussing the matter with your midwife or doctor.

So, I’d love to hear your feedback. Did you eat chocolate while you were pregnant? Why or Why Not? If so, how much?

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Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Winner of My 17th Awesome Giveaway – Raw D3 Vitamins!

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized
Congratulations Sara! Your name was chosen as the winner of my 17th Awesome Giveaway. The prize: A bottle of Garden of Life / Vitamin Code’s Raw D3. Simply email me with your address so I can get the vitamins sent to you.

Here is what Sara had to say when asked, “What is one of your New Year’s Resolutions / Goals that you’re still sticking with today?”

Mine is simple….to eat way healthier with my daughter. My daughter who is in high school has started a blog about the benefits of eating organic and cutting back on processed food. It has been a huge hit and she has even been written about in her school newspaper:) We are both trying out new recipes and new foods.

My next Awesome Giveaway is January 31, so check back for details!

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Thursday, January 21st, 2010

All Raw Food Intake – Pregnancy Food Journal – Wednesday

Today is an ALL RAW DAY for this pregnant, eco-friendly mama! I started the day by taking the dog for a nice long walk. My midwife says that walking is the best exercise in prepping for birth. Therefore, I make it a point to walk 1-2 (usually it’s 2) miles 5-6 days a week. It’s also instrumental in helping keep my weight in check for a healthy pregnancy weight gain. So far so good! My weight is right on track.

All food is organic.

Green Juice (1 quart)
2 tomatoes, 1/3 bunch celery, 2 large cucumbers, small bunch swiss chard
It was really great. Look at all that GREEEEN!

I took the leftover pulp and made a small batch of Raw vegan crackers by adding ground flax meal, tamari, coconut vinegar, and orange zest. They are dehydrating in my Excalibur dehydrator now and they smell fantastic. I can’t wait to enjoy them tomorrow.

Gently Spiced Omega Protein Shake (3 cups)
I’ll post this recipe on January 28, so be sure to check back for it. It’s one of my new faves!

10 Raisins - Yummy little snack

Zippy Energy Soup (3 cups)
This is sooooo fresh and good. Love this recipe – I’ll be sharing it with you January 26, so come on back to get it. It’s nourishing and makes a perfect light lunch or snack. Mmmmm!

2 Small Raw Chocolates
Same as the other day. I dove into my freezer for 2 pieces of the Mint Chocolate Jazz. I’ve been asked many times now about my feelings regarding chocolate while trying to conceive and while pregnant. I am featuring this as a post on my blog on January 24th, so you can check it out then.

Large Fresh Salad w/ A Creamy Tangy Dressing
This salad had romaine, cabbage, red bell pepper, and it was topped with leftover dressing from the other day, a revised Light-n-Livey Tahini Parsley Dressing. Only this time, I took the left over dressing and blended 1/2 of an avocado into it. The result is a decadent creamy and tangy dressing. Avocado is especially great for pregnant mamas because it’s loaded with fiber, B-vitamins, folate, and healthy fats. Yum! Oh yeah, I had a pickle on the side… of course.

That’s it so far. I’ll probably get hungry later because I’m going to need more calories. If I do here is the plan…

Plain Protein Shake
1 cup water with 2 scoops Raw Vegan Sun Warrior Protein Powder. Shake it up. Drink it down.

Raisins and Walnuts
I’m really enjoying raisins the past 3 days which is unusual for me. I’ve always liked them but was never drawn to them like now. The walnuts give me an extra boost of protein and omegas.

I love snacking on carrots because they have a little sweetness coupled with a lot of crunch. It’d be smart if I ate these with something that had some fat because the beta-carotene is better assimilated when in the presence of fat. Hhmmm… I know. I have leftover dressing from above, so I’ll dip them in that!

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Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Fruit Scoopers – A Best Friend In The Raw Kitchen – Coconut Noodles Anyone?

by Kristen Suzanne in young Thai coconut

You ever wonder how some people get those awesome, young Thai coconut noodles that are actually long and noodle-like? I have an answer: Fruit Scoopers! The next time you want great coconut noodles, use a fruit scooper.

I love these kitchen gadgets. They come three in a package and I’ve yet to put the large (orange) scooper to real use yet, but I use the middle size (red) scooper ALL the time for avocado (video here), and I use the small (green) scooper for digging out my young Thai coconut meat. Perfect. Easy.

Once you scoop out the meat, you can clean them up a bit, and slice them as thin as you want using a knife. In this picture, I’ve simply shown you how they come out of the young Thai coconut after scooping; I haven’t cut them into thin noodles yet. Fruit Scoopers ROCK!

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Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

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

Here was my delicious day!

Kashi Organic Shredded Wheat w/ Raw Granola topped with Organic Rice Milk
I was famished when I woke up today and I wanted something QUICK! Monkey was hungry! So, I ran for a bowl of cereal. The Raw part was the granola, which was from the company Two Mom’s In The Raw (they now have their raw vegan granola available at Starbucks!) I like the granola for the most part but sometimes I get a funny taste in my mouth with it.

1 Quart fresh organic Greeeeen Juice
After the cereal, my body was craving something pure, fresh, Raw, and alkalizing. I made a juice with my Hurom juicer comprised of the following ingredients: cucumbers, kale, Swiss chard, lemon, and celery. It was fabulous. Green juice does a body GOOD!

2 small Raw Chocolates
About a year ago I made the Mint Chocolate Jazz recipe from my book, Kristen Suzanne’s Ultimate Raw Vegan Chocolate Recipes. I enjoyed 2 of them. They remind me exactly of York Peppermint Patties – only my recipe is healthy! I love having a freezer full of organic Raw vegan chocolates for those times you need a bite. Mmmmm! (I don’t eat a lot of Raw chocolate while pregnant, but a little bit here and there.)

Huge Salad with Light-n-Lively Tahini Parsley Dressing
My salad was seriously large. It was filled with organic romaine, carrot, and red bell pepper topped with a version of my Light-n-Lively Tahini Parsley Dressing from my book, Kristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Vegan Salads & Dressings – except that I used cilantro instead of parsley. Cilantro is a great herb that is full of nutrition and has the ability to help draw toxins (especially heavy metals) from the body.

Celery with fancy schmancy nut butters
In practicing to be a mommy, I went to the kitchen with the intent on making the kid-friendly Ants On A Log recipe. Instead, I ended up using Rejuvenative’s Raw Vegan Organic Almond Butter for two celery logs and their fancy schmancy Pecan Pie Butter (they sent me samples). I write fancy schmancy because the Pecan Pie Butter tastes unique and gourmet. It’s made from pecans, dates, almonds, cinnamon, cardamon, and nutmeg. I ended up liking the Pecan Pie Butter even more than the almond butter today. It was so yummy on the celery.

I made a quicky shake with 2 scoops of raw protein powder mixed with water. It filled my up nicely for a while.

2 cups organic Greeeeen Juice
I made extra juice when I made my morning batch and here is where I finished it off.

2 organic bananas & 1 small organic pickle
I love bananas… aren’t they like the perfect FAST snack. They’re sweet, nutritious, inexpensive, and did I say FAST? If you make sure that you keep a steady supply of these on your counter than you can do all sorts of things from eating them plain (did I mention what a FAST snack it is?) to blending them into smoothies, sauces, nut milks, desserts, and soups.

The pickle… well, I am pregnant. ;)

2 “Pretty High Raw” Tostadas (organic)
These were made from sprouted corn tortillas from Food for Life (they’re not raw but they’re pretty much minimally processed). I topped them with cooked black beans, (raw) fresh salsa, (raw) guacamole, (raw) lettuce, and (raw) Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce.

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Monday, January 18th, 2010

Kristen’s Raw 17th Awesome Giveaway – FREE RAW VITAMINS!

by Kristen Suzanne in awesome giveaway

It’s time for another awesome giveaway (here was the last giveaway I hosted). The prize for January? RAW VITAMINS from VITAMIN CODE. I will be drawing the name of 1 winner for a bottle of their
Vitamin Code Raw D3 – The Hottest Nutrient Under The Sun. (How cool of them to offer this to my readers!)

Right now, with this being winter in the United States, I suspect there are a lot of people out there who are in need of this important nutrient! Vitamin D3 is vital for many functions including to help build a stronger immune system. Here is what Vitamin Code / Garden of Life had to say about Vitamin D3…

As vitamin D deficiency has become more prevalent, the attention and focus paid to vitamin D have increased, and for good reason. Most people familiar with vitamin D understand that this nutrient is essential to skeletal system health.† Along with calcium, vitamin D is considered vital for maintaining healthy bones.† Vitamin D actually regulates the use of calcium in the body by dramatically increasing its absorption and utilization.

Much of the interest in vitamin D stems from the fact that it’s found throughout the body in over 600 receptor sites including the brain and the heart. Due to the fact that vitamin D receptors are so prevalent in the body, research has increased on vitamin D, and seemingly everyday new studies tout the health benefits of vitamin D consumption.

Recent studies have also shown that vitamin D supports immune health by helping to regulate the immune system.† The brain is home to dozens of vitamin D receptor sites, and vitamin D has been shown to enhance memory and concentration.† Vitamin D supports healthy digestion, again since receptor sites are found from the mouth all the way through the intestines.† Healthy vitamin D levels support two increasing areas of concern—breast health for women and prostate health for men.†
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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 Friday night, January 22th @ 11:59pm. I’ll enter everyone’s name who answered the question into a drawing and announce the winner on my blog Saturday, January 23rd. (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: What is one of your 2010 New Year’s Resolutions / Goals that you’re still sticking with today?

But that’s not all! Vitamin Code is also sponsoring another giveaway for my readers for their RAW Cleanse product. Great timing, too, as I bet a bunch of you are working on your New Year’s Resolutions for healthier, cleaner living. This product could be a great way to support that. Be sure to check back over the next couple of weeks for that giveaway.

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