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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Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Would Write More But…

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

Ooh boy! The only time I get reprieve from the beautiful nausea is when I’m sleeping. And, even though I’m eating some cooked organic vegan foods, thinking it’ll help a bit (although it doesn’t seem to do anything), I’m craving water and water rich foods (like fruits).

My refrigerator is pretty empty from fresh Raw foods though (I have some greens and some old apples that we’ll probably juice later) but other than that… not much. And, I don’t feel up to doing anything other than laying on the couch and resting. However, I’ll force myself to go to the farmer’s market to pick up our organic CSA goodies, and while we’re out, we’ll head to Whole Foods (I want papaya, mango, and pineapple).

Anyway! I’m quickly updating my blog since it’s been a few days, but I’m not feeling up to doing much other than really relaxing… everything from my body to my mind to my soul. Okay, I’m off to munch on some carrots and celery sticks…

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Raw Food. Morning Sickness. Zukay Salad Dressings.

by Kristen Suzanne in salad

I’m officially experiencing some morning sickness. There hasn’t been any puking yet, just an intense nausea that lasts for most of the day. And… I’m happy as hell with it! I Love it! It might sound weird to some, but with all of the hoops I’ve been through to get pregnant, I take morning sickness as a great sign (between blood tests) that I’m still very pregnant. Yeehaw!! Wednesday is my next blood test. I’ll be glad when those are over.

Even though no foods really sound good to me (yet, I’m hungry. It’s bizarre and fun), I’m keeping up with my High Raw to All Raw meals. Sometimes Raw sounds good and sometimes cooked vegan does (Chipotle vegan burrito always sounds good – lol), BUT, I’m keeping it All Raw for some meals, High Raw some, a scant few meals that are moderate Raw, and saying NO to Chipotle. *Everything that passes my lips is organic.

I’ve been eating a lot of big salads. I was recently sent some living, fermented, vegan salad dressings to try by the company Zukay Live Foods. They’re very good(!) and I recommend having a bottle or two in your refrigerator for those times you don’t feel like making dressing. They contain probiotic cultures with no added sugars, canola, or gums. I think they’re all fat free. You can add the dressing by itself to salad or mix it with a drizzle of olive oil. I’ve used them in a few ways and they’re all great. I’ve had it on salad. I’ve had it on my cucumber pasta meals. And, I’ve even added a tablespoon to my green juice to add fun flavor. There are many ways to use these for an extra flavor-punch in your recipes.

I’ve been spending time relaxing in my mom’s backyard under the warm sun, listening to wind chimes, and humming to the little life growing inside of me. I wrote a lullaby for my baby before we conceived and I sang it to the little spirit that was not yet in me, and I continue to do so now that he/she is. Did you see the movie Australia? (If not, it’s such an amazing, epic, beautiful story.) Anyway, in the movie, the little boy “sings his ‘adoptive mom’ to him.” He says, “Mrs. Boss (that’s what he calls her), I sing you to me.” I always liked that, so I said to myself over the summer, I’m going to sing my baby to me. I also read that in some tribes, the woman goes off on her own for a walk before getting pregnant, and a lullaby comes to her spirit. She then goes back to her husband and teaches it to him. They sing it together until they conceive and when the baby is born, that is the baby’s special lullaby. I thought that was so beautiful.

I started creating my play list for the birth day and I’ve been extremely attracted to Deva Premal’s magical music. It feels so right. I can see our home birth happening with that playing in the background. I might mix in some Earth, Wind, and Fire (lol) because I do believe I have a disco Monkey growing in me.

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Friday, October 16th, 2009

Raw Vegan Travel – Santa Fe, NM (El Milagro Herbs)

by Kristen Suzanne in video

After leaving Oklahoma City, we headed to Santa Fe. I’ve always loved Santa Fe… I really feel a sense of belonging there (although it’s too cold for me during the winter). It’s beautiful, from the Sangre de Cristo mountains, to the adobe architecture, to the warm and eclectic people. As my husband so eloquently stated about Santa Fe – Gentle Seattle-fleece vibe meets Southwest style, artists, and old-world authenticity.

The food: Other than Whole Foods, we had a few places from which to choose for eating organic, vegan, and some raw (whether as salads or other raw dishes). We only had time to sample two of them, Chocolate Maven (which was disappointing in its limited organic and vegan options) and Tree House, which we really liked. We look forward to returning to Santa Fe soon (only 8 hours by car), going back to Tree House, and trying some of the other restaurant options. My husband, a huge fan of Southwestern and New Mexican cuisine, has made it his personal mission to catalog all the vegan options at many of Santa Fe’s famous restaurants.

At a cute coffeeshop in the historic district, I had what instantly became my favorite brand of kombucha. It’s produced locally by the Santa Fe Tea Company. (I’m going to see if our Whole Foods will carry it.) Unfortunately, I’m mostly staying away from kombucha while pregnant due to conflicting information I’ve read about it. I’d rather play it safe than sorry. But, I did try some to know if I liked it, and I love this brand. My favorite flavor is the Rasta with my second favorite being the Sangria, but there are others I’ve yet to try.

We spent time walking around the downtown area and look what I found: Santa Fe Hemp! I was so excited! We probably spent an hour in the tiny shop. I bought a sticker for my computer that reads: Eat Organic. I also bought my little Monkey an organic cotton onesie that reads: Organic Baby – Save The Whales.

The most exciting part of our time in Santa Fe was stumbling upon a gem called El Milagro Herbs – Organic Skin Care.

We interviewed the proprietor, Tomas Enos, a brilliant man who has his PhD in ethnobotany and has been making organic skin care products for almost 20 years. As you’ll learn in the video, he makes only small batches of product to ensure freshness and only uses the best ingredients. His formulations are nothing short of amazing and I’m happy to be one of his loyal followers now.

One of the things we discussed regarding herbal skin care products is that when you buy products from a place where big factories are creating the product, the product starts to lose its energy from the plants. As the number of steps increase from harvesting to packaging to shipping, and the number of hands increase who get involved, the precious energy goes down. I really believe in that philosophy.

I bought a face wash, skin lotion, toner, sea weed mask, hair oil, as well as some herbal tea to drink. I haven’t tried the hair oil yet, but I enjoy the other products so far. They smell and feel great. And, as you’ll learn in my video below, they harvest all wild and/or organic seasonal herbs, and they make them in small batches right there in the store.

OH! And awesome news! He is currently working on a Raw organic skin care line! He should have his face cream done next week, with other companion Raw organic products following shortly. I highly recommend checking his wonderful goodies out.

I should add that my husband was delighted to meet a real ethnobotanist and had a nice chat about toxic pufferfish and the ethnopharmacology of Haitian Zombieism… um, did you say zombies?… kinda scary, but good timing, as Santa Fe was all adorned with sugar skulls and flowers for its upcoming Day of the Dead festivities. Gotta love Santa Fe!!

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Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Raw Vegan Travel – Oklahoma City, OK at Matthew Kenney’s 105 Degrees

by Kristen Suzanne in kelp noodles, video

After our trip through Fort Worth, we drove on to Oklahoma City where our goal was getting to 105 Degrees, Matthew Kenney’s new Raw restaurant and Raw academy. The weather was awful, like really awful. Pouring rain that made for a nail biting drive. But, we finally arrived. :)

105 Degrees is gorgeous. Oklahoma City is indeed lucky to have such an awesome restaurant and academy there. (For more info on 105 Degrees, visit here.) The decor and atmosphere had a lovely cosmopolitan energy. We were there at night, so the pictures weren’t of the clearest quality, but I still wanted to share some of them.

We met Matthew Kenney and had a nice chat about how he became involved in the 105 Degrees project and about some future things he’s working on, which include projects outside of the United States. I can imagine, one day, traveling the globe and blogging about my visits to various country’s and their Raw vegan restaurants.

Our dinner was amazing. From the appetizers to the entrees to the desserts, our taste buds were treated to complex, sophisticated flavors. Since the restaurant wasn’t crowded (due to the bad weather), I secretly licked my bowl. I regret that I don’t have more good pictures to share of all of the Raw food we had. But, Matthew Kenney will forever have a special place in my heart, because this man officially made me a fan of kelp noodles! The sauce they were tossed in was delectable and it allowed me to get past the “crunch” of the noodles. Victory.

They had a cool little store that was unfortunately closed while we were there (which was probably a good thing in hindsight – LOL). Matthew Kenney’s store had 100% Pure beauty products, and, as most of you know, I love 100% Pure products (check out their website here).

We met the sous chef, Don, and he gave us a tour of the place. This guy has an impressive culinary resume (studied in Paris), and although he’s new to Raw, his talent and passion for food really comes through. He even demonstrated their PacoJet! I’ve always wanted to see one of those things in action. They make the creamiest, dreamiest ice cream. We shot some video of it.

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