Monday, September 8th, 2008
One of the best parts of the trip was our excursion of shark and sting ray feeding while staying on the island of Moorea. Let me just start by saying that I could never have gone through with this if I hadn’t first seen the amazing documentary, Sharkwater. (It’s a MUST SEE!)
That’s a pic of me underwater looking at real sharks swimming around us in the ocean. I’m not gonna lie, my heart was pounding and my breathing was heavily labored, but it was so amazing. The beauty and elegance of these massive creatures (did you know they’ve been around for 450 million years?) is mind blowing when you see them up-close in their natural environment. The excursion boat threw out a long rope which we all grabbed hold of in the ocean and watched while the crew threw out chunks of fish for the black-tipped reef sharks to eat. (We also went to a spot where we stood in waist deep ocean water with sting ray swimming around, bumping into us, and we actually got to pet them… talk about intense!).
Here is a picture of a couple of the sharks swimming around us. There were many and they averaged 4-6 feet in length. It was amazing. I text messaged my mom that I was doing it and she freaked out – poor thing – haha. I’m sure someday that karma will get me back for torturing my mom that way, when I have my own children.
My husband (giggle, I love writing that!) took another excursion while on Bora Bora where he went scuba diving out past the reef and was up close with gray sharks that were 6-7 ft. I think snorkeling with the sharks was a needed warm up for actually swimming around deep into the ocean with them. What was I doing while he did this? I was enjoying a hot volcanic rock, detoxifying massage without a worry in the world because I knew he was safe with the sharks (after all, I saw Sharkwater).
Experiencing nature in this perspective was humbling. I proudly call myself a Mother Earth Warrior, and seeing these beautiful creatures in their environment made me want to protect the earth (our, and their, home) that much more. I don’t think we pay enough attention to the waters taking up the majority (71%) of the earth’s surface, and how important it is to protect and care for them.
I have many more things to share about our epic vacation so I’ll stop here and save those for future posts.
On another note, Raw related… I’m sipping a quart of delicious plant blood (a recipe I’m featuring in my upcoming class, Breakfast in Bed. One thing is for sure… I missed my fresh green juice while on our trip, although I DID enjoy fresh pineapple juice. So, to ensure I was getting adequate greens I brought along my Vitamineral Green powder (this is a diet-saver when on vacation!) and chugged it down with bottled water daily. We also brought along some Whole Food Energy Bars from Vega. I wasn’t sure exactly how my food situation would be so I came prepared.
Saturday, September 6th, 2008
Here it is everyone: my secret news that I’ve been dying to share with everyone! We went on the most romantic trip to French Polynesia, more specifically, the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora and got MARRIED!!! Whoo-hoo!!!! We’re so happy and excited.
Where to begin? I’m full of stories and fun memories of which I’m eager to blog. I’ll start with the most important – our wedding. Bora Bora is the most beautiful place on earth. It’s majestic, magnificent, warm, and full of natural beauty from the ocean to the full sky of stars at night to the people. It is, without a doubt, the perfect place for exchanging vows with your loved one.
On the day we were married, here was the sum total of required preparation and directions: “Be in your bungalow at 4:30pm.” That’s it! Talk about easy planning. So, at 4:30 we sat excitedly on the deck of our bungalow (pictures to come in future posts) and a Tahitian came to our dock paddling a white traditional outrigger canoe (each overwater bungalow has its own stairs stepping down into the lagoon). While the Tahitian in the canoe waited, two Tahitian girls and two boys knocked at our door. They came in and prepared us for our ceremony by dressing us in traditional Tahitian sarongs called “pareos.” I was taken to the outrigger canoe and seated at the front of it. From there, I was conveyed in the canoe like a princess to meet my groom at the shore. He was walking with the Tahitian girls and boys, one of whom blew into a conch shell making somber baritone sounds throughout the entire reverent procession. Nobody spoke and it was all very serious. But I was as giddy as a ten-year-old!
Once I arrived on shore, we joined hands and walked up a jungled footpath to the top of the motu (small islet), where we were greeted by a Tahitian priest, musicians and dancers. (It was so romantic!) The ceremony took place and the priest tied palm fronds on the groom’s right wrist and my left wrist and then we held hands as they poured ocean water from a conch shell over our joined hands (symbolizing our new life). We then placed leis and floral crowns atop each other’s heads (symbolizing responsibility). We exchanged vows and were married. We enjoyed a special island fruit and coconut beverage followed by dancing with the Tahitians. At the end of the ceremony, we were left alone to enjoy the romantic sunset over Bora Bora.
The celebrating didn’t stop there, however. We had special dinner by candle light and tiki torch on our own private tiny beach, under millions of stars and the Milky Way, resplendant in the South Pacific’s southern hemisphere view of the universe. It was the most romantic dinner I’ve ever had. The resort’s manager attended to us personally and made us feel like the most important people in the world.
We were gone about 9 days total. We spent the first half of our vacation on the island of Moorea and the second half on Bora Bora. Our amazing vacation included some of the most delicious fruit of my life (Raw heaven!), exciting adventures (I can’t wait to share those with you) and seeing the earth’s beauty in new ways.
So… that’s the big secret. I eloped to paradise! How many of you guessed THAT?
Saturday, September 6th, 2008
Just to let everyone know, I’ll be back to regular posting on my blog starting this weekend. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks (you’ll soon learn why!). Frankly, it’s been hard to post about “normal” stuff without giving it away… so stay tuned, not much longer and I’ll be sharing regularly again. Cheers!!!
Hint: I’M SO HAPPY!!!
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008
Living a healthy lifestyle does not stop at eating Raw Vegan food, although that’s the best start! Achieving optimal health also extends to your immediate environment. Think about it – does it make sense to work hard at purifying your body by eating Raw Vegan food if you’re inhaling toxins and slathering chemical-laden products on your skin? No. It was after doing research about the dangerous chemicals in beauty/home products that I rid myself of them immediately. I’m not taking any chances with my health or the health of my family. Moreover, I’ve been extra careful lately since I want to ensure that I’m avoiding chemicals in the house while prepping for pregnancy (and after, for that matter) and I’ve been making a lot of my own stuff (that’s the extra fun and rewarding part). There are many reasons that I’m doing this: my personal health, my family’s health, the environment and as a future mom… It’s important for a baby to smell the true essence of his/her mom and dad – not covered up in scents from hair/makeup/beauty/cleaning products. This is very important for bonding (especially for encouraging breast feeding because a baby is naturally drawn to his/her mother’s body odor).
I’ve been asked many times about the cleaning supplies I use. There are plenty of options out there and I’ve tried many. What I find interesting is how my sense of smell has changed. I find that when I’m in some people’s homes (or around some people themselves) that the smell is too much for me now, because they wear strong cologne or they use air fresheners or home cleaning products full of chemicals. I never picked up on that before because I used them myself… but I do now and it’s hard to be in places (or around people) that smell toxic. Everyone is on his/her own journey however. Heck, it wasn’t that long ago that I threw away my favored Tiffany perfume. I concentrated on the food I was eating and my physical fitness routine for a long time before venturing into the territory of changing my beauty and home care routines.
Furthermore, let’s talk about the environment. What’s so great about using bleach or chemical-laden products to keep your toilet and counters clean, if you’re polluting and damaging the environment (including your drinking water). Every little step we can take to help our environment is great – from recylcing to using our own bags at the store to air drying our clothes to using eco-friendly cleaning products.
Last but not least, you can save money by making your own products (and it’s so easy)! Yes, there are a number of green cleaning products you can buy (for example… Mrs. Meyers brand is lovely and popular), but it’s cheaper to whip up your own. I’d rather save the money by making my own, then treat myself to an organic cotton t-shirt or organic produce! Either way, if you’re buying or making green cleaning products you’re making a world of difference for your health, your family’s health, and the earth. Now, that’s just plain SMART!
Here are some of the things I’m doing to keep my home clean:
Laundry – 1-2 caps of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing this for my future baby’s clothes (the unscented version) when the time comes as well. It’s important to stay away from normal commercial clothes soap when washing your baby’s clothes because their skin is so delicate. There are some natural brands on the market just for baby’s, such as Seventh Generation (I think). I can’t imagine it getting any simpler than Dr. Bronner’s unscented soap though. Note: for extra brightening power, add 3 oz of chlorine free bleach by Seventh Generation as the water fills up (before adding your clothes).
Scrubbing – baking soda does the trick. Or, another good one is Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser.
All-Purpose Cleaning – Get a 32 oz spray bottle and put in the following: 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, a small squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, 1/2 cup chlorine free bleach by Seventh Generation (or there’s another brand… Ecover, I think), and fill the rest with water. Optional: add 10-20 drops of tea tree oil (and/or 10-20 drops lavender oil). I use this recipe for counters, bathrooms, tile floors, walls, etc.
Extra Basic All-Purpose Cleaning – Get a 32 oz spray bottle and put in 1 cup distilled white vinegar, a small squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, and fill the rest with water. Use this recipe the same as above. This (and the recipe above) are great for disinfecting and deodorizing.
Mirrors – Get a 32 oz spray bottle and fill it halfway with water and top off the second half with distilled white vinegar. How easy, safe and great is that???
Ant Deterrent – Put peppermint scented Dr. Bronner’s soap in a spray bottle with some water and spray along windowsills and cracks.
Toilet Cleaning Power – Baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Scrub away the germs and enjoy a shiny toilet bowl.
Dishes – I love washing dishes by hand because it’s relaxing to me. And, with raw food, washing dishes is a snap! My routine is generally to let them soak in a sink of water which has a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. For extra cleaning power, add a splash of chlorine free bleach by Seventh Generation
Heavy Duty Cleaner – Get a bucket of hot water and add a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, 1/2 cup baking soda, 10-15 drops tea tree oil and optionally, you can add 5-10 drops lavender oil. Note: It’s important to avoid essential oils when you’re pregnant, so wear gloves when using this solution, if you’re pregnant, or leave out the oils all together – or, better yet, get someone else to do the cleaning! haha
Of course, use towels for wiping (paper towels are wasteful) or tear up some old t-shirts.
Whew! I got through that post without giving away my secret news!
Monday, September 1st, 2008
It’s been an exciting week and I have SUPER FUN news to share with everyone… but, not yet. It has to stay a secret just a little while longer. Oh!!! I wish I could share it with you now, but I must wait! Just a handful of days more! I suck at keeping secrets like this, but I’m trying crazy hard!!!
So, on to other things to distract myself from typing the news :)
Plant Blood: I’m feeling great and loving life as usual. I just polished off a delicious quart of fresh organic Plant Blood that I made with dandelion, kale, zucchini, cucumber, and celery. It was so good. I feel like my insides are glowing from the refreshing chill of it. Hard to explain, but it feels so darn healthy and good. Tomorrow, we’re cleansing and fasting by drinking just Plant Blood all day. Stay tuned…
Chocolate Colored Hair On The Horizon: My hair is starting to look interesting as it detoxes from the mud I’m using to cleanse it and letting it grow out at the same time. I’m two toned now – haha, but it makes for a great conversation piece. I love telling people why I’m going to my natural color. I’m cutting more off tonight… as my guy says, “I’m attacking it from both ends.” I’m definitely eager to get all of the dry, frizzy blond off, but I’ve always had long hair so I’m not quite used to cutting it this much. However, I embrace change and it’s actually turning out to be fun and exciting.
A Greener Existence: I’m proud because we just took another step toward a greener life by setting up a clothes drying rack to air dry our clothes. I feel like such a Mama Earth Warrior :)
Daily Conversation Question:
What would you most like to learn how to do on a computer?
Monday, August 25th, 2008
Oh goodness… I’m sitting here savoring every fantastic chewy bite I take of these Chili Lime Mango goodies I came across at Whole Foods. I simply had to write about them because I’m totally hooked. They’re basically dehydrated mango slices with the perfect amount of a both chili and lime. Not too spicy, not too sweet. Just right.
The strange thing is that I wouldn’t normally think something like this as anything really special, but holy crap! THESE ARE SO DARN TASTY! (I’m going to have to put these away or the whole bag will be gone before I’m done writing this post.) I’m not one to make it a habit of snacking on dried fruit (that is, until now – haha). I’m known to enjoy an occasional date or two as dessert or a handful of dried fruit on my cereal or granola for chewy texture, but these sassy mango slices have me loving dried fruit like never before.
If you’re interested in trying them, then consider yourself warned – they’re addictive. You can find them at Whole Foods or online here: The Raw Choice.
Daily Conversation Question:
What’s your dream job?
Saturday, August 23rd, 2008
Kristen Suzanne in Hemp
Here is a powerful, post-workout-fueling (banana, celery, dates), muscle replenishing (hemp), rockin’ antioxidant filled (goji berries), blood- circulating (ginger) smoothie. It’s like one-stop-shopping with all of the delicious and nutritious goodies in it. Seriously! I can’t help but growl out “GGGRRR!” every time I drink it.
One of my favorite aspects of this beautiful light brown, red speckled smoothie is the hemp protein. I frequently proclaim to everyone in my classes, “Get Hemped!” Hemp protein is a great addition to everyone’s life (especially children). It’s one of the most effective ways to add a complete protein to your diet with plenty of fiber and omegas (essential fatty acids).
GGGRRRR! Beowulf Protein Smoothie
Kristen Suzanne of Kristen’s Raw
Yield 2 cups
1 cup water
2 stalks celery
2 dates, pitted
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon goji berries
1 tablespoon hemp protein powder (I love Manitoba Harvest brand)
Blend all of the ingredients until creamy and smooth. Add some ice cubes for a chilly refresher. Enjoy this with your family as you all drink and growl “GGGRRRR!”
Wednesday, August 20th, 2008
It really makes no sense to make the effort to eat as much healthy organic produce as you can, only to rinse it with tap water. And, what about the water you drink? Think about it… seemingly healthy green smoothies of fresh organic greens and fruit and…. ummm… tap water. Now, some of you might think you’re okay because you’re drinking bottled water, but drinking water from disposable plastic bottles is an ecological nightmare due to all of the waste plastic produces and the fuel used for shipping. (Consequently, I also avoid letting my food touch plastic whenever possible, which rules out both disposable and refillable plastic bottles. Most of you know that I’m a glass mason jar gal for just about everything.)
Depending on where you live, your tap water might be relatively safe to drink… that is, relative to other municipalities. Municipal water is routinely monitored, with quality reports available for free online. Most cities do a good job of testing for and filtering out the really harmful stuff, but there are two problems. First, laws do not require testing for many dangerous substances, such as hormones and prescription drugs that make their way into the water supply via urine. Second, contaminants can make their way into your water between the treatment plant and your faucet, either in the public pipes or the pipes in your home. There is a great article I just came across from the Wall Street Journal here.
The ideal solution therefore is to filter your own water. There are many household systems available, ranging from small $30 Brita filters that screw onto your faucet, to $2000+ household systems. But the small Brita filters don’t last long and aren’t very effective. The $2000 systems are too expensive for many and don’t make sense for renters.
After much research, we found the answer! The Multi-Pure chrome counter-top (or undercounter) water filters hit the sweet spot with high-end filtration at an affordable price $320-340). Like all good filters, the Multi-Pure is independently tested and certified by the state of California, with test results available here.
But nothing quite beats the taste test. Our unit installed in less than five minutes and when we conducted our own blind taste test, my boyfriend gave me a taste of our new filtered water first. Then he gave me our unfiltered tap water, and I instantly spit it out and yelled “yeccchh” due to the chlorine smell and taste. I had been vaguely aware of it before, but once I compared it to the amazing-tasting filtered water, I could never drink it or prepare food with it again!
I’ve become a true believer. The unit comes with a filter cartridge that needs to be replaced ($60) every 750 gallons, or about 12-18 months, depending on how much water you use. We opted for the stainless steel housing, which has a 25 year warranty. When you do the math, this is absolutely the smartest, cheapest way to drink the healthiest possible and most environmentally responsible water.
This is one of those rare “Why didn’t I do this two years ago?” products. Please help spread the word, about this and the evils of plastic bottles. We plan to give a couple filters as Christmas gifts this year!
Saturday, August 16th, 2008
Today’s blog post is a bit random, but I had a mix of things to share… so here we go!
Looking for new walking scenery? Tired of your usual path? Want some inspiration? Then check out this cool site here. Just type in your address and see the different walking options that surround you. It’s really great!
Raw Breakfast-in-Bed is my next class – Sept. 27 at Whole Foods. The class is already filling up so if you’re interested in joining us for delicious raw vegan food and a really FUN time, then reserve your seat now by registering here. (This is one of my favorite classes!)
Celery. I thought I’d shed some love on celery because it’s usually in my Plant Blood recipes and definitely worthy of praise. When you put celery in your Plant Blood, then you’re getting all kinds of vitamins and minerals (vitamin A – the darker the green, the higher the amount; vitamins C, B1, B2, and B6; calcium; magnesium; iron; phosphorous; fiber; folate; manganese; potassium & sodium – important for regulating fluid balance). Overall, celery is also shown to help lower cholesterol and may be useful in preventing cancer. I’ve also read that celery has a reputation for being an aphrodisiac. hhmmm…. any of you find this to be true? ;)
Here are two of my favorite Plant Blood combinations:
1. celery, carrot
2. celery, cucumber, zucchini, kale
And, speaking of fresh produce for Plant Blood… I wanted to talk about bugs. There are times that I find a bug here and there on my produce. Now, I’m not typically a bug huggin’ gal. I pretty much freak out at the site of most of them (you know the kind I’m talking about – creepy crawlies – eeeeek!). BUT, when I see a bug on my organic produce, I can’t help but feel a little relief because that means my produce is really free of pesticides. For that, I can celebrate bugs.
Update! I just checked out my recipes in VegNews magazine… I’m totally stoked to be a two-time winner. Whoo-hoo! Happy dance going on right now!
Daily Conversation Question:
Which celebrity would you most like to see in person?
Monday, August 11th, 2008
I was asked recently which juicer I use. The answer is that I actually have two, and I love them both for different reasons. Nothing – and I mean nothing – beats juicing. Like the vegan version of being a vampire, you feel absolutely super-human when you drink down pure Plant Blood.
1) Green Star
This bad boy isn’t cheap, but it’s life-changing. Wanna go hardcore? This is it! This machine is great because it’s extremely durable, reliable, can also juice wheatgrass (most juicers cannot do this, so you often have to buy a separate wheatgrass juicer), plus more. Because this juicer uses twin gears which gently and slowly extract the juice, it doesn’t degrade or oxidize nearly as fast as it does with a centrifugal juicer (below). Green Star juice can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days without much oxidation, which makes it perfect for people who can only juice once a day or less.
This juicer squeezes out every bit of juice, leaving you with very dry pulp, so you’re really getting your money’s worth from your organic produce. Here are other tricks this juicer can do: make ice cream from frozen produce such as bananas or mangoes, as well as homogenize nuts, seeds and grains for pate and butters, and it’s great for making baby foods, apple sauce, etc.
The Green Star takes longer to use and clean up, but it’s still amazing and well worth the money (and the time if you have it).
2) Breville Fountain Juicer
This juicer has a special place in my heart. I LOVE my Breville Fountain Juicer (and pretty much use it daily) because it’s lightening fast and SUPER EASY to clean. This machine inspires me to juice multiple times a day due to its ease of use. It’s considerably less expensive than the Green Star, but because it’s centrifugal, you should drink the juice within 15 minutes of making it to prevent oxidation and nutrient loss.
This is the perfect juicer for people who plan to do a lot of daily juicing, and want it to be fast and efficient — just be sure to drink right after juicing. The other thing to note is that the pulp from this juicer is quite moist, so you know that you’re not extracting all of the juice like you do with the Green Star. However, I usually add the pulp to my dog’s food or put it on top of my salad or feed it to the bunnies in my yard or make raw dehydrated crackers from it (so, you can see, it doesn’t go to waste).
All in all, I love both of my juicers and I’m happy to have and use both. I find that I drink a lot more juice having the Breville due to its ease of use and cleaning, but I love having my Green Star for times I juice wheatgrass, make other things besides juice, or for those days that I need to make my juice made ahead of time.
For those of you looking for great juicing and smoothie recipes, I have a terrific ebook loaded with fresh raw vegan beverage recipes.
UPDATE! A new juicer is on my scene! Check out the video I did comparing it with the Breville and Green Star here.