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.
Friday, January 23rd, 2009
Another giveaway is already here! I was so excited and couldn’t wait any longer. The prize? A Lexen Healthy Juicer! This Juicer is an amazing, easy, and effective wheatgrass and leafy green juicer, making it one of the most popular on the market. It’s great for travel, too! (More details on the juicer are available here.)
I’m excited to announce that 1-877-MyJuicer.com is generously supplying this great prize for one of my lucky readers!
Excited? Want the chance to win? Simply answer the following question in the comment section for today’s post. This contest will last until Saturday, February 7, 2009 @ 10pm MST). At that time, I’ll enter everyone’s name who answered the question into a drawing and announce the winner on my blog Sunday, February 8, 2009. (Please note: While I would love to hear from everyone around the world in answering this question, I have to limit the winner to someone living in the United States.)
Question: What is your favorite FICTION and NON-FICTION book… and why?
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Whoo-hoo! My 8th book is now available in print, Kristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Vegan Salads & Dressings. Now, most of us think of salads as healthy, but not much more. But we’re going to change that here and now. Get ready to get EXCITED about SALAD! This recipe book introduces you to a world of salads and dressings that taste so good, you’d be willing to have them as your main course!
As with the launch of the other books, I’m taking a survey for the best photo. Check them out and let me know what you think.
More Great News…
I have another exciting Awesome Giveaway for the month of January that you don’t want to miss! I’m giving away a Lexen Healthy Juicer (great for manually juicing wheatgrass and leafy greens)! Be sure to check back soon!
Sunday, January 18th, 2009
Today I made Warming Plant Blood (recipe at the end of this post), which includes one of my all-time favorite ingredients – Ginger. I always have fresh organic ginger in my house. I love adding it to juices, smoothies, salads, and other Raw vegan dishes (it’s so nourishing). I’ve often referred to garlic as the king of spices. The queen spot goes to ginger. It rocks.
Ginger offers multiple health benefits. It has warming qualities, as noted in the recipe title Warming Plant Blood. When I feel cold in the winter, I start adding more ginger to my diet. Even though most of my food is Raw (and sometimes a little chilly by nature), adding ginger helps make my digestion and body feel like it’s warming up. Speaking of digestion, ginger is a major helper in that department. Next time you have an upset tummy, try drinking some warm water with a little fresh grated ginger, lemon juice and maybe a dash of raw agave nectar or a drop of stevia. Or, simply drink some ginger tea from a box. I just picked some up at Whole Foods last night from the company Traditional Medicinals. They have a nice tea called Organic Ginger. If I think I’ll have a meal that might challenge my digestive system, I often drink a cup of this about a half hour before the meal.
Ginger is a rich source of powerful antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory properties, and there is evidence that ginger’s antioxidants might help fight/inhibit the growth of certain types of cancers. Not only that, but studies show ginger can also help boost the immune system.
Storing ginger is easy. Fresh ginger can be stored for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator (or up to 6 months in the freezer) when tightly wrapped.
Warming Plant Blood
Kristen Suzanne of Kristen’s Raw
Yield 1-2 servings
1-inch piece of fresh ginger*
1 medium/large-ish beet
1 bunch of baby red Swiss chard**
I used my Breville juicer to juice the ingredients.
* This is a lot of ginger and it definitely gives the juice a kick and immediate warming sensation. You might try half this amount and taste the juice. Then, decide if you want to add more.
** The baby red Swiss chard I used today was from the farmer’s market (locally grown, organic – YAY!). The leaves were little, which is why I referred to it as “baby” Swiss chard. If I was using a regular, full grown bunch, I probably would have juiced 1/2 – 3/4 of the bunch.
For more information on great juicers, check out my blog post, My Favorite Juicers – GreenStar and Breville.
Thursday, January 15th, 2009
I’m having an affair with a Vita-Mix 5200. Am I ashamed? Well, it’s hard to be when you experience this awesome piece of machinery. For many years, I’ve had both a Blendtec and a Professional Series Vita-Mix blender, and I’ve always told people that both are great, but if I had to pick one, I would have gone for the Blendtec. The primary reasons for me being that it fits neatly on my counter (under the cupboard – due to its overall height being shorter than the Vita-Mix) and because it’s easier to scrape food out from the bottom due to its two-pronged blade vs. the 4-pronged Vita-Mix blade. I’ve had both side by side all these years and I always just went to use the Blendtec. I figured that meant it was my blender of choice, not realizing that I was probably partial to the machine since I had it first and was very comfortable with it.
Well, all that has changed now. I recently got my hot little hands on the new Vita-Mix 5200 and immediately fell in love. First of all, the container is BPA-free (Hello! BPA-FREE!) with improved sound dampening so it’s not crazy loud. Secondly, obviously the blender is powerful, reliable, and awesome. Thirdly, the warranty kicks butt! Vita-Mix offers a 7-year warranty on both the container and base (under normal household use), while Blendtec offers a measly 3-year warranty on the base and only 1 year on the container (this is important for me which I’ll detail in a moment). There are other improvements in the Vita-Mix which make it easier to use such as the new lid (now it’s super easy to take on and off). Finally, the Vita-Mix has excellent customer service, which is important to me and always weighs heavily in the equation of whether I buy a product. I still feel like the food (most notably Raw cheeses and dips) are a little easier to get out of the Blendtec container, but not so much that I would now choose the Blendtec over Vitamix.
I wrote that the warranty was important earlier, as well as customer service. Regarding my Blendtec, I’ve recently not had the best experience. My Blendtec started blending at an unbelievably loud pitch. So loud you must plug your ears or it pieces them with pain. When I attempted contact with Blendtec about this – three times! – I received no response. After researching their website about the warranty, I read that my container was only under a 1 year warranty (testing the Blendtec’s sound with and without the container leads me to believe that it’s the container causing the new nasty noise). On top of that, my mom’s Blendtec (much newer than mine, but still over a year old) is doing the same thing!
My Blendtec (container noise problem) and new Vita-Mix 5200 experience both occurred within the last couple of months, and I wanted to share it with you, since for so long I’ve been saying, “They’re both great, but I’m a Blendtec gal.” Not so much anymore.
Move over Blendtec, it’s time for something greater! Vita-Mix 5200, you’ve won my heart.
UPDATE: I have updated my thoughts on the two blenders here.
Tuesday, January 13th, 2009
Aaaaahhhhh LEMONS! Aaaaahhhhh MACADAMIA NUTS! These two ingredients are a couple of my favorites and I’m excited to feature a delicious Raw vegan recipe with them. Capri Lemon Chocolate Bars – major deliciousness if you like lemon and macadamia nuts. These bars are dense, full of flavor and a little goes a long way. Sometimes I have it for dessert and sometimes I eat a little one for breakfast with my cup of tea. Don’t you just love that you can have dessert for breakfast when it comes to Raw food?
I love lemons because they’re so refreshing and good for you. Lemons are alkalizing and an excellent source for vitamin C. But, that’s not all. These yellow darlings have folate, calcium, vitamin A, potassium, and flavonoids (known for fighting cancer and heart disease!). I had dreams of the Italian island of Capri when making this recipe because they’re known for lemons. The island is filled with lemon trees and they put lemon in just about everything.
I love macadamia nuts because they’re buttery-rich in flavor and texture… and unbelievably satiating. This nut is good for you! They provide monounsaturated fat, which is shown time and again with helping to lower levels of heart disease and cancer. Macadamia nuts are loaded with nutrition such as… phosphorus, calcium, potassium, some fiber, magnesium, a little selenium, and phytosterols. (Keep in mind that they are high in calories, so you probably don’t want to eat the whole platter in one sitting. That’s why I said a little bit goes a long way with this recipe.)
Capri Lemon Chocolate Bars
Kristen Suzanne of Kristen’s Raw
Yield one 8-inch glass baking dish
2 cups raw macadamia nuts
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
3 tablespoons raw agave nectar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
10 dates, pitted, soaked 1 hour, drained
1/2 cup dried apple, soaked 1 hour, drained
8 dates, pitted, soaked 1 hour (reserve “soak water”)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons “soak water”
3 tablespoons raw chocolate or carob*
2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 cup coconut oil
For the bars: Process the nuts in a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, until coarsely ground. Add the lemon extract, agave, lemon juice, and process to mix. Add the dates and dried apple and process until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated. Press (or spread) the mixture into the bottom of the glass baking dish. Place in the freezer while you make the frosting.
For the frosting: Blend all of the ingredients together (don’t worry about blending the macadamia nuts until entirely smooth if you don’t want; they can add a nice texture to the frosting). Spread on top of the bars. Place in the freezer for about an hour. After they “set” you can store them in the refrigerator (up to 5 days) or in the freezer (up to 6 months).
*Truly raw carob is available here.
Sunday, January 11th, 2009
Congratulations Mrs. Money and Anonymous (details below)… You won!!! Your prize: You each will receive a jar of Fruits of the Earth Powder™(360 grams; $48.95 value). I hope you’re ready to load up on antioxidants! Simply send me an email with your address so I can get your gift to you right away.
Here is what Mrs. Money and Anonymous had to say when asked, “What is one of your favorite movies and why?”
Mrs. Money: I love Coyote Ugly. While it is a total chick flick and so old, I still love it. Thanks for the opportunity to win! :)
Anonymous: I like Flight of the Navigator, because it is one big adventure. :)
I have to admit, I’ve always liked Coyote Ugly, too. I think it’s so fun. And, Flight of the Navigator? I have not seen, but I’m always up for an adventure, so I’ll be on the lookout for that one.
My next Awesome Giveaway is scheduled for January. Check back for details. Thanks to all of you who participated!