Monday, February 16th, 2009
A Great First Step!
Stay focused on an objective to incorporate more fresh whole fruits and vegetables into your diet every day. Once you start doing this, you automatically reduce some of the not-so-healthy foods. This could mean having two green smoothies every day, or eating a salad before every lunch and dinner, or eating Raw breakfasts and Raw desserts (instead of cooked breakfasts and desserts), or all of the above.
I’m not a purist when it comes to my diet, and I find that most people succeed with this lifestyle when they take it easy, have fun and remain flexible. This can be very important during those first months of transition (and forever for that matter!). For some, eating 100% Raw is the only way to go, and that’s great. But, for many, to easily succeed with a predominantly Raw vegan lifestyle, it can mean being flexible (yet still super healthy) and that can mean living a High Raw lifestyle (in the beginning, at different times during the journey, or all the time).
Don’t Stress and Don’t Give Up!
Don’t freak out if you have a bad day of eating, and certainly don’t give up. I’m fond of saying, “Every meal is another chance to turn it around.” Over time, as you eat more and more fresh Raw vegan foods, you’ll naturally find yourself avoiding unhealthy foods anyway, so just let it happen naturally and enjoy the journey.
When I first went Raw, I found that the more greens I added to my lifestyle, the less I craved unhealthy foods. Now, my attention is naturally focused on great and healthy choices all the time. A super way to get more greens is with green smoothies, salads, plant blood (a.k.a. green juice) and adding green powder to your life (one of my favorites is Vitamineral Green Powder).
Fresh Fruit Does Wonders!
Keeping fresh organic fruit around all the time is a great way to avoid unhealthy cravings (And! It’s soooo good!). The next time your sweet tooth comes a knockin’, eat a banana or drink a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice or eat a date (or 2 or 3!) or enjoy some berries. The craving will disappear as you gently nourish your body with nutrient dense food that is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Beauty and vitality are gifts from nature for those who live by her laws.
~ Leonardo Da Vinci
Thursday, February 12th, 2009
I love hemp foods. Hemp’s amino acid profile dominates with the 8 essential amino acids (10 if you’re elderly or a baby), making it a vegetarian source of “complete” protein! Manitoba Harvest is my favorite source for hemp foods. I use their hemp seeds, butter, protein powder and oil to make delicious raw vegan recipes all the time… including this one. Here’s an easy, delicious and nutritious spread for you and your family (especially kids!). I love serving it with sliced apples. Yum!
CINNAMON DELIGHT HEMP SPREAD
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield 1/2 cup
1/2 cup raw hemp seed butter
2 teaspoons raw agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch Himalayan crystal salt
Stir all of the ingredients together in a bowl.
Another Great Hemp Recipe:
King Garlic Hemp Dressing
Monday, February 9th, 2009
So far today I’ve had…
1 1/2 cups of Teeccino
1 Raw Protein Shake (rice protein, hemp protein, Vega’s EFA oil, New Chapter Organic’s Berry Greens powder, Amazing Grass’ Wheat Grass powder, banana, water) – this shake really fills me up!
1 Raw Chocolate Macaroon
1 bowl Raw Granola (dry) with a chopped banana
1 Raw Chocolate Macaroon :)
1 Vega bar – Berry Flavor
1 big mug of Raspberry Leaf herbal tea
Tonight, I’m going to make miso soup (soy-free) with fresh garlic and ginger added – alongside a huge bowl of Fennel Orange Kale Salad with a Raw Chocolate Macaroon for dessert :) If I get hungry I’ll have another protein shake.
A Great Blog
I want to share another AWESOME blog that I follow regularly: Nature Mom’s Blog. I learn a lot from Tiffany – she’s full of great info! Practically every time I read a post of hers, I find myself saving it for future reference (for when I have kids especially). And, if it’s not kid related, it seems to always be relevant in some way.
Another Awesome Giveaway!
I’m going to have another awesome giveaway for the month of February. Be sure to check back for details!
Whole Foods Demonstration Canceled
For those of you planning on stopping by the Raw Food day of demonstrations (Feb 20), Whole Foods announced to me today that it was canceled.
Would you be likely to survive alone in the wilderness?
*For those who don’t know, the conversation question” is from these cute “conversation starter” cards I found at a little boutique. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable when meeting new people, or if there is silence while around co-workers, or maybe you’re meeting your boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents for the first time and you want to ensure stimulating conversation. These are fun and made for just that!
Sunday, February 8th, 2009
Congratulations Lauren! Your name was chosen as the winner of my 7th Awesome Giveaway. Your prize is a Lexen Healthy Juicer. YAY!!!!!! Simply email me the address you want the prize sent to.
Here is what Lauren had to say when asked, “What is your favorite FICTION and NON-FICTION book… and why?
My favorite fiction book is “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells (and all her Ya-Ya series) because they feel like real biographies. The people in them are so real and they make you laugh and cry. My favorite non-fiction book is “The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls” by Joan Jacobs Brumberg. I just read it this weekend and it was so interesting and informative and made me consider my own upbringing and thoughts on sexuality in the spectrum of history.
Thursday, February 5th, 2009
“Superfoods” is a buzz word in the Raw vegan world, but it’s usually referring to some exotic ingredient such as maca or goji berries. But, what earns the right to be classified as a “superfood?” Does it have to be hard to get? Not at the common store? Full of mystical powers – or at least it makes you feel as such? Or, does it just mean that it’s chock full of awesome compounds including precious antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals?
I came across an article, Top 10 Superfoods for Winter and I wanted to share some of it here. The following list includes some foods you might not have considered “superfoods” in the past if you got caught up in the typical sexy superfood whirlwind we frequently hear about in Raw circles. However, these foods deserve some cheers and should be included.
I was excited upon reading the article that eight of the ten foods listed can easily be consumed Raw. Sa-weet! Here are some bits from the article, along with my own spin on things, including links to recipes of mine featuring some of the superfoods. Enjoy!
Cinnamon has always been one of my mom’s favorite spices so she has been adding it to her recipes for most of my life. So much so that my brother and I started teasing her about it when we were growing up. Well, well, well… what do ya know? It turns out that mom knows best (sorry, Mom, it took me twenty-some years to come to this realization!). It’s been said that the compounds in cinnamon can help moderate blood sugar, improve capillary function, fight candida and inflammation, improve digestion, and may help reduce blood pressure. Cinnamon rocks the house!
Here is a recipe to get you started adding more cinnamon to your life: Blissed Out Chocolate Runner’s Smoothie.
According to the article, “Pecans have shown to significantly lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL. Frequent consumption of nuts is associated with a lowered risk of sudden cardiac death and other coronary heart disease, as well as a lower risk of Type II diabetes in women.”
Here is an easy and delicious cookie recipe that people love love love! Pecan Spice Delight Cookies.
The article also stated that “a Penn State-led review of the available evidence from 66 published studies, supports the view that consuming flavonoid-rich chocolate, in moderation, can be associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. Chocolate that is minimally processed and has the highest cocoa content (which means the darkest chocolate) has the highest level of flavonoids. With dark chocolate, even eating as little as 30 calories per day can have a moderate effect. (But more can make you really happy.)”
I totally agree with the author there! For a truly decadent experience with plenty of Raw vegan chocolate, you gotta make this recipe: Organic Double Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake.
The article mentions consuming pomegranates in the form of juice, but in my opinion, the pomegranate is best experienced in the whole form, i.e. the seeds. I want to feel spoonful after spoonful of juicy seeds burst in my mouth. My ritual of many years is donning a t-shirt that I’m happy to stain with pomegranate juice, as I seed 2-3 pomegranates at a time. I carry my bowl of precious seeds upstairs and I take pleasure in them as I enjoy a long, warm bath. That being said, I do realize the juice is much easier to come by year round.
In the Greek myth of Persephone, the pomegranate is called the fruit of the underworld. This legend tells the story that Persephone was bound to hell because she ate a pomegranate seed(s) from Hades. I don’t know about you, but a pomegranate might just be worth it… to me they’re glamorous and sensuous. Cutting into a pomegranate is like opening a treasure chest…inside you find brilliantly sparkling, sweet-tart flavored ruby-like seeds.
The joy doesn’t stop there though. The pomegranate has anti-inflammatory effects and high levels of anti-oxidants. It offers you potassium, vitamin C and niacin, making this labor intensive fruit worth the effort.
Apples are awesome. I mean, hello, an apple graces the cover of Twilight! But seriously, apples are filled with antioxidants for helping fight cancer and improve cardiovascular health. But, that’s not all. Apples also contain pectin (a great source of soluble fiber), bone-building boron, and Vitamin C. If you want the most bang for your buck when it comes to selecting which variety of apple you enjoy, consider this – Red Delicious apples are reputed for having the highest levels of anti-oxidants.
Here is a great green smoothie recipe that includes both apples and cinnamon!
Fluffy Green Smoothie
Yield 1 serving
1 1/2 – 2 cups water
2 apples, cored and chopped
2 handfuls spinach
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Blend it up and enjoy!
Blueberries are crazy awesome for you. They’re rich in phytonutrients and shown to be some major brain food from an anti-aging perspective. In fact, they may help keep your memory sharp. The next time you forget where you park your car, eat some extra blueberries. However, there’s more to blueberries than just some brain power… Wild blueberries, in particular, are shown to help improve eyesight by reducing eye strain and improving night vision. Total score – Night Vision! Next time you want your kids (or husband – haha) to eat healthier, give them a bowl of blueberries and tell them it’ll help their night vision. :) I’ll bet they gobble them up without a second thought.
All in all, blueberries rock. They are so good for you. And, I’ve read that you can get these benefits by eating fresh or frozen blueberries (get the “wild” ones if you can). This makes eating blueberries year round much easier.
No recipe here… I just eat them straight up by the bowl!
Prunes (dried plums) are not just for shuffle board players. They’re a force to be reckoned with and should be enjoyed by people of all ages. Prunes are loaded with antioxidants (LOTS!), fiber, vitamins A & C, potassium, iron and more.
Updated 2/8: And, check this out… Plums Poised To Give Blueberries Run For The Money.
Although, I typically eat prunes by themselves, here is a delicious dressing recipe with prunes: Creamy Kickin’ Dressing.
According to the article, “A New York Times article in December suggests that cabbage is the most important [vegetable] in the world from the point of view of nutritional benefits and cancer-fighting ability. Cabbage possesses phytochemicals including sulforaphane, which studies suggest protects the body against cancer-causing free radicals, and indoles, which help metabolize estrogens. It’s also an excellent source of vitamins K and C, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate, manganese and Omega 3 fatty acids.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself! Now, most people associate cabbage recipes with cole slaw. And, it’s definitely a good source for it. However, to concentrate lots of those valuable nutrients in one serving, I also get my cabbage in the form of fresh organic Plant Blood. When I juice it, I include lots of purple cabbage, an apple or two, a carrot or two, and fresh ginger.
So, there you have it. 8 great superfoods for winter (and year round if you ask me!).
Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
I had a fun interview with Revvell of Rawkin Radio, which is now available here.
Just a few of the things we chatted about…
~my bodybuilding experience and how I found vegan and then Raw
~tips for eating Raw in the winter
~getting kids and family into Raw
~supplements… are they important? who should take them?
~exercise and my latest endeavor
~changing one’s mindset
~digestion (poop is important!)
Oh! And if you haven’t entered for your chance to win the Lexen Healthy Juicer, you can do so here.
Monday, February 2nd, 2009
A follower of my blog inquired recently about eating a Raw diet and maintaining/building muscle…
Hey Kristen… I was wondering would it be possible for you to do a blog post on eating raw and weightlifting….I have lost 50 pounds since beginning to eat all RAW..now I’m doing ChaLean Extreme (it’s a program where you lift heavy weights to failure)… should I be concerned that my body will use my muscles for fuel instead of burning fat… I’m concerned with the whole calorie thing,because eating RAW I haven’t been counting calories. I want to reap the best results from all this hard work, because I have seen people who eat raw and have lost a lot of weight and some don’t look fit just smaller and soft… so that leads me to think they have lost some muscle, what do u think?…any advice would be greatly appreciated.
First of all… CONGRATULATIONS on your weight loss and for taking control of your health. I’m so happy for you. I’m actually a tiny bit familiar with the ChaLean program because I know someone who is doing it, and I’ve read about so many others bragging about it and loving it. If I had a set up in my house where I could do dvds for some of my exercise, I’d be all over this program.
Regarding your overall question… I switch between all-Raw and HRAV (High Raw, All Vegan) and my husband follows suit since I’m in charge of food – haha. I’m not soft and skinny; my body is toned and I have no problem maintaining that. :) And, let me tell you… my husband is buff and his bod is mega hot – ripped abs, chiseled chest… TMI? Maybe – haha.
Things I do to maintain my muscle mass, and things my husband does to maintain and grow his:
1) Strength train (we get our butts in the gym at least five days per week!). Period.
2) A healthy, alkaline diet complete with nutrient dense foods. Consume enough calories in general, including foods rich in amino acids and simple carbs. As people who work out a lot, we also add more protein to our diet. To do this, we drink shakes and smoothies with hemp protein powder, and lately we’ve been doing a mixture of both hemp protein powder along with Sun Warrior’s Raw Rice Protein Powder, and typically include bananas or some other fruit in it. We also like green smoothies (fresh amino acid-rich greens and fruit). Here is a link to a great workout smoothie recipe – GGGRRRR! Beowulf Protein Smoothie. We also love our fresh Plant Blood (green juice) which fills our bodies with phytonutrients. Sometimes we drink Plant Blood daily and sometimes we drink it every few days – just depends on our fridge contents.
We also make sure we’re consuming certain foods before and after our workouts (our exercise tends to last 45 – 75 minutes). For example, before a training session, we typically consume something with simple carbs (examples: fresh dates, a ripe banana, or other fruit is excellent workout fuel). After a workout (within 60 minutes of completing it), we have a small smoothie with simple carbs and a little protein (see the recipe for the GGGRRRR! Beowulf Protein Smoothie – we usually split this or something like it). Then, after an hour has passed we have another shake that is heavier with protein (typically Sun Warrior Rice Protein, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein, Vitamineral Green Powder, Fruits of the Earth Powder,water, and usually a banana blended in).
3) Recovery – This is an important topic that is frequently left out. You need to let your body recover and build, and this includes getting plenty of rest and sleep. Diet is also an important aspect of recovery, but rest and sleep are vital.
Basically, we listen to our bodies, monitor our progress, and make changes as needed. Ensuring success with this might mean some calorie counting, at least in the beginning, until you get an idea of what you should be consuming on a daily basis and how your body responds to it. Everyone is different so you need to find what works for you personally. But, it can be done!
Friday, January 30th, 2009
I’m featuring this salad recipe in my email newsletter this month (sign up here), and I wanted to share it here… because it’s SO good! This highly nutritious salad is refreshing, delicious, and full of flavors that combine effortlessly to deliver one awesome salad.
Kale freakin’ rocks the nutrient house! And, no, it’s not something that is just meant to decorate salad bars (as my husband used to think – ha ha!). It’s loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients shown to help fight cancer, aid in detoxification, and fill you up with super star nutrition including iron, calcium, protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, K and much more!
Fennel Orange Kale Salad
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield 2 servings
1 medium bunch curly kale
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons hemp oil
3/4 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt
1 cup fennel bulb, thinly sliced*
1 cup orange, peeled, seeded & chopped
8 kalamata olives, pitted & chopped
1 tablespoon fennel leaves, chopped
Destem the kale. You can leave the more tender parts of the stem (toward the top of each leaf) in the salad, but the harder stems toward the bottom of each leaf should be torn out. Tear apart the kale leaves (or use a knife and chop them) into bite-size pieces.
Place the torn kale into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, hemp oil, orange zest, salt, and nutmeg. Take a minute and massage all of these ingredients together with your hands. Add the fennel, orange, olives and fennel leaves, and gently toss to mix. Enjoy!
* I use a handheld V-slicer
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
Every year I get my blood checked and an annual physical. Due to my healthy lifestyle, I don’t expect to find anything wrong, but:
a) it’s still responsible to get checked
b) it’s inspiring for staying on this path, and
c) what can I say? I like the bragging rights that come with great results!
I have to say, I’m extra excited because my numbers have improved since last year – honestly, I wasn’t sure they could, as they were already very good! I’m setting myself up for a wonderful future with easy aging. The great thing is, anybody* can get similar results just by sticking with a Raw vegan or High Raw vegan lifestyle. Now for the numbers…
My cholesterol is 96! The recommended number is to be under is 200 (if you’re comparing yourself to the SAD eaters that make up the majority of our culture), and if you’re one of those in-the-know, then you recognize that you actually want your cholesterol under 150. I did a big happy dance when I received these results. Coming from a family that has some heart disease, it’s empowering to see that I can make a difference in my health. The rest of my numbers are all superior as well, including my B12 which is 1194! The recommended range is between 243-894. I do supplement with B12 on a fairly regular basis. Needless to say, my doctor was impressed. (She’s not vegan, and this totally negated any concerns she might have had about getting sufficient B12.)
It’s not like I didn’t expect these great results though. Let’s take cholesterol for example. I don’t consume it… ever, which is obvious because I’m a vegan. There isn’t any cholesterol in plants. And, just like there isn’t dietary cholesterol in plants, there isn’t dietary fiber in animal products. As I like to say, cholesterol gunks you up, fiber cleans you out.
According to one of my all-time favorite books (life changing material here, if you haven’t read it, you need to), The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell…
Blood cholesterol is clearly an important indicator of disease risk… animal-based foods were correlated with increasing blood cholesterol. With almost no exceptions, nutrients from plant-based foods were associated with decreasing levels of blood cholesterol… Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol raise blood cholesterol, although these nutrients are not as effective at doing this as is animal protein.
Furthermore, blood cholesterol is not only an indicator of heart disease. According to The China Study…
As blood cholesterol levels decreased… cancers of the liver, rectum, colon, male lung, female lung, breast, childhood leukemia, adult leukemia, childhood brain, adult brain, stomach and esophagus decreased.
So… have you been getting your blood checked every year?
* Some people suffer from medical conditions causing extremely high blood cholesterol that can be hard to lower without medication. That said, a Raw vegan diet is a very important part in lowering cholesterol.
For those of you who haven’t entered to win the Lexen Healthy Juicer, you can do so here.
Sunday, January 25th, 2009
We all know that eating more fresh Raw vegan foods will help in the departments of being happier, healthier and reducing stress. But, here are 6 other ways that can help:
1. Gardening & Greenery
According to Patricia Farrell, PhD., author of How to Be Your Own Therapist, surrounding yourself with nature’s greenery can increase oxygen levels and help you experience more peace. In fact, one British study found that gardening can actually be as effective as pyschotherapy – and I suspect that anybody who gardens will agree!
Turning to pen and paper is a great way to reduce stress. The simple act of putting your feelings and experiences down on paper and getting them out of your system can be cathartic. I’ve been journaling for years (and I’ve saved them all and they make for great reads years later!).
3. Painting, Drawing, Sewing, Knitting
These activities require concentration and can help you take your mind off issues that might be causing stress. It can become almost meditative, forcing you to be mindfully present.
This is one of my favorites! Singing has been shown to help boost your health by raising immunity-boosting white blood cells. Now, you might need to keep in mind the people you’re around if your singing voice isn’t so good or you might actually increase their stress – ha ha! – even though you’re helping yours. Any one watch American Idol? You know what I mean.
Oh yeah! This is another favorite of mine… that’s a picture of me dancing in the produce department at Whole Foods (they haven’t kicked me out yet so I guess they don’t mind!). Dancing can release those awesome, high-inducing, feel-good endorphins. Dancing is exercise so it helps you lose weight, lower blood pressure and boost the flow of oxygen to your brain. Next time you want to boost your mood and health, put on some fun tunes (disco music for me) and shake your groove thing!
Spending time in nature can be such a calming experience. One of my favorite things to do is go on long nature walks or take short road trips (like when we went to the Mogollon Rim where I can just sit, relax, and breathe). I find such peace, and my mind opens up to new ideas and inspiration. Taking time to do this is important, so be sure to make it at least a semi-regular ritual, such as once a month, if not more, depending on where you live.