Our idea of what constitutes "food" in American culture has become so skewed that it is almost unrecognizable. Our supermarkets are packed with products whose ingredients include unpronounceable chemicals, dyes, bacteria, and growth hormones. They are irradiated without our consent and contain GMOs.It's time to bring back FOOD. Pure unadulterated organic RAW food.This blog is a documentation of my continuing journey on a plant-based lifestyle.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ruth's Chia Goodness

So the past two weekends I have been teaching a Raw Food Start-up Class at the Environmental Nature Center. Raw Start-up for me means simple, tasty, raw food that virtually anyone can incorporate into their diet without too much fuss or the pressure of having to commit 100% to raw foods. As I have tired to reinforce many times, you don't have to be one hundred percent to reap the benefits of a living foods lifestyle. An organic, whole foods diet rich in greens, veggies, fruits, and whole grains - free of all things processed -coupled with physical exercise will bring you much more success than struggling to be totally raw. (I cannot stress enough how important EXERCISE is, regardless of what kind of diet you follow! You're body needs help cleaning out years of excess, built-up toxins and just eating healthy simply doesn't cut it.)

Most of my students are looking for quick recipes, something that will taste really good without being too time consuming; that seems to be the big "hang up" for people when it comes to going raw. While I personally think that a smoothie, full of fruit and greens is the best way to begin the day after a workout, sometimes people want something heartier. In the winter months, even though it is California, my students are often looking for warmer, more comforting foods to beging their day.

I've had my eye on Ruth's Chia Goodness (original flavor as the other two contain cane sugar) for a while now. The original flavor is simply chia seeds, hemp seeds, sprouted buckwheat, and sea salt. Three powerhouses when it comes to protein, trace minerals, essential fatty acids like omega 3 and 6, and calcium. It provides slow-releasing energy and is low-glycemic to boot. It doesn't get easier or tastier. Chia Goodness is awesome because sometimes buying chia and hemp separately can be pretty costly and for some, may be hard to find. Ruth's Hemp Foods does the hard work for you, which is fantastic in my book.

 I like to add this to my smoothies to make them a bit thicker, but this is excellent eaten on its own. All you have to do is mix with water (add warm water for a breakfast reminiscent of oatmeal) or nut milk, stir, and let thicken for two or three minutes. Add your prefered sweetener of choice like maple syrup or date paste - perhaps you'd like to add some fruit such as apple or banana. You really cannot go wrong here.

My only qualm was that I found it at Mother's for $4.19 and when I went back to restock, they were out of "original" and the price had mysteriously gone up to $5.89. I checked Whole Foods and they didn't even sell the "original" and the price for the other two flavors was a whooping $6.99. In New York, at Westerly, this was $3.89 or something rediciously affordable like that. I am going to be very sad if I have to wait until it goes on sale to buy it again as I am absolutely smitten with this chia/hemp/buckwheat combo.

If you happen to find this is in your local health food store, or your Whole Foods carries it and doesn't charge you an arm and a leg -- give it a try! or of course, you can make your own if you have these gems in stock...

P.S. This is especially delicious mixed with Raw Chocolate Mousse!

-1 gallon water throughout the day
-16 oz. water w/ lime
- 2 Green Magic Smoothies + 4 kiwi
- 2 dates + 1 T cacao nibs
-Veggies & Dip: 1 red bell pepper, 5 stalks celery, 2 slices of cuc,  dipped in a maple/mustard/n.y. /jalapeno mixture  & 5 leaves of romanine lettuce dipped in my housemade ranch dressing
-1 avocado with lime and kelp/cayenne
-5 organic turkish figs from whole foods
-1 bag of TJs freeze dried banana

...pretty sure I need to cut back on the nutritional yeast as I think it is causing excess mucus to form i.e. a short time after eating I start to spit food back up. totally gross.

- 90 minute Bikram
- 4 mile run
- 10 minutes on eliptical @ resistance of 10
- 1 mile general walking

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

L'adoration de la Pomegranate, Green Magic Smoothie, & Love Days

That's right, the sweet, slightly tart, crisp, burst-in-your-mouth explosion of flavor that is the Pomegranate has founds its way into my petite kitchen; making a home for itself in my daily breakfast Green Smoothie. It's juicy, blood-red goodness spewing all over my cutting board and stove-- staining my clothes as I break apart the neatly backed bundles of seeds into my bowl. Yet, I don't mind. It's a labor of love, as far as I am concerned.

I know, I know, I am a little late jumping on the Pom bandwagon -- don't judge! I have only had this antioxident-rich fruit twice in the past: A girl I used to babysit for let me try some and at the farmers market. I thought it was o.k., but certainly nothing to write home about. I couldn't imagine doing all that work just to eat some seeds. (I can be very lazy at times.) However, while Kevin and I were doing our daily Sunday shopping at TJ's I noticed that they were on sale, and thought, "Why not?!" My smoothies were in dire need of a change anyway as I had been topping them with raisins and chopped up dates; not that this isn't good, but after a while it started to give me a stomachache. I think it had something to do with the smoothie digesting much faster than the dried fruit, a la bad food combining.

(I am not of the 'chugging' variety when it comes to Green Smoothies. I like to enjoy mine in a big ol'bowl topped with all sorts of goodies. My smoothies often have a yogurt consistancy making it more like a meal than a quick drink. Needless to say, the Pom provided just the right texture and crunch I desired. )

What's so good about poms other than their flava? Well, just in case you were interested, Poms are a powerhouse of nutrients. They are proven cancer fighters, have three times the amount of heart-healthy antioxidents than green tea and wine, high in dietary fiber, folate, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. They are an excellent post-workout snack as they contain a lot of water and GOOD sugar (complex carbs). I love these little ruby red gems!

As mentioned, these have been the featured item in my latest Green Smoothie:

Green Smoothie Magic:
 2 ripe bananas
 1/2 cup Chia Goodness (more on this later!)
 2 ripe baby bananas (for extra creaminess!)
 3 satsumas
 4 cups Organic spinach
 1 cup frozen pineapple
 1 cup frozen mango
 1/3 cup filtered water or nut milk
    Blend all ingredients together until creamy and smoothie. I add the frozen fruit last, because I like to keep my smoothies slightly chilled and thick.

    In a separate bowl de-seed your pom and combine with 1 cup of Wild Blueberries. (I get mine from Trader Joes because they are the most affordable, organic, wild blueberries I can find. Sorry, refuse to pay $5.99 a pint for blueberries; that's crazy talk!) Mix and then top with Green Smoothie Magic. Stir that baby together!

     Mmmm, thick, creamy, and a perfect balance of flavors; the juice from the blueberries and poms mixes together to create this awesome deep purple that just swirls together with the green of the smoothie. Love it; looks like a cheese cake!

    I have been eating this TWICE a day for the past TWO WEEKS! ...so you know it must be good.... Once for breakfast and then as my after dinner snack. It's an exellent way to double up on the blended greens and to refuel after workouts.

    Food (All Organic):
    -16 oz. water w/lime & msm
    -2 liters water
    -8 satsumas/clemintines
    -2 Green Magic Smoothies + 2 additional kiwis add with Poms and W.Blueberries
    -3 zucs spirialized into pasta w/ my Smoked Gouda Cheeze Sauce & Tomato/Parsley/Basil Sauce
    -2 stalks celery
    -8 dates
    -1 apple
    -16 oz. water with lime

    Exercise (spaced throughout the day/night)
     -  90 minute Bikram
     - 4 mile run outside
     - 35 minute walk

    In keeping with the spirit of the upcoming holiday, it being Valentine's Day, I am collaborating with the ENC and a few SoCal meetup groups to host a Valentine's Day Potluck at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach, CA. It will be held on Feb.12, 2010 from 6pm-8pm. As typically goes with potlucks, bring a dish that serves at least 10 people, all organic, raw, vegan. As well as a list of ingredients/recipe, serving utensils, and a place setting for yourself. This is going to be an awesome event! For more information please email me at maioa827@gmail.com to sign up.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Mmm, Salsa Extravaganza!

    For some reason, I associate Mexican food with the Summer months? Good thing I live in California, where "winter" means 50 degrees in January!! Not to shabs since I heart Mexican food...and the fact that Mexicana gone raw is really simple and can be whipped together in a matter of minutes.
    This is a combination of two different salsas: Jicama/Mango/Pineapple Salsa, a traditional chunky Tomato Salsa all over romanine lettuce with a Native-foods inspired Cilantro-Mango Dressing. In this case, it happens to all be low-fat raw vegan and void of any nuts. Sometimes I like to top this with a guacamole, but is equally delicious on its own.

    I don't have a recipe as I basically just threw everything into the food processor, but it incorporates all your traditional mexican flavors such as cilantro, lime, jalepeno, a bit of cayenne, etc. Yumm, sweet and spicy, always makes a great combination.

    And don't skimp on the cilantro! This herb has many healing properties as it is often used to draw heavy metals and toxins from the body; which is great for people who are suffering from illnesses like Fibromyalgia.

    Bon Appetit!

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Cheezy Goodness

    One of my absolute favourite reads in the blogosphere is that of Kristen Suzanne's from Kristen's Raw. Her website is jam-packed with awesome raw tips including everything from the whats-what in eco-beauty to the many ways to detox. Her approach to the high raw lifestyle is very positive, and almost effortless. One of my favourite aspects of the site is the food. As a raw food chef myself, I am always looking for inspiration from other raw chefs and since Ms. Suzanne has an awesomly wide variety of raw food books being sold on amazon, I trust that this lady knows her raw food.
    With that said, I have been meaning to try her Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce for eons! (Check out the picture to the left! Does that not look like something you just want to dive into?!) After much kitchen procrastination, I had B stop at the store to pick up some of the ingredients that I didn't have. We had Kelp Noodles in the fridge because they are on sale here in California both at Mother's Market AND Whole Foods so I used a mixture of kelp noodles and spiralized zucchini to make pasta.

    On a side note, I had been marinating the kelp noodles in water and liquid smoke, just for experimentation. If you are looking for a really rich and decadent tasting pasta this is the way to go. The liquid smoke gave a bacon-y flavour to the noodles. Sooo yummy!

    Anyway, back to the Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce. The recipe, as linked above, is very simple and straight forward and took me literally five minutes to make. Who doesn't love that? And, the best part, this sauce is so versatile!! Don't want that nacho flavour? Then omit the chili powder! That's what I did. I wasn't sure I wanted to have nacho pasta, so I left out the chili powder and only put a small pinch of cayenne for colour. It was so savory, creamy, and light. Also, while I think hemp seeds work best in this recipe because they offer a lighter, healthier alternative to your traditional cashew-based sauces, one could easily used seseame seeds, walnuts, or even, yes, cashews in this recipe. But, if you are like me and try to go easy on the nuts and seeds, hemp is the best way to go. I have no problem digesting these cholorphyll and protein packed lovies! (These babies are my fav! Regardless of your hemp-brand preference, make sure they are organic, but I think that goes without saying!)

     B and I were oohh and ahhh the whole time we ate. This sauce is seriously the bomb and I am pretty sure I am going to eating this everyday for the rest of my l ife tonight.

    Other than cheezy goodness, i've had two green smoothies today. We bought two five lb. bags of oranges at Henry's Farmers Market on Sunday. They were Purity Organic juice oranges. They are blah. I like the ones we get from the Irvine farmers market much better. I decided to not put the oranges in my smoothies today and it turned out much better.

    Today's smoothie included:
    •  2 organic banans
    • 2 organic kiwis
    • 4 cups packed organic spinach
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 cups frozen mango

    This went for both of my smoothies. I topped it off wit some chewy organic rasisins and wah-la! Delicious green smoothie for me!

    Ok, time to hit the bike. I've got some groceries to pick up from Mother's.

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Why Does My Tecchino Always Taste Burnt?

    Try as I might, lately, my tecchinos always tastes like burning rather than the vanilla nut or almond ameretto it is supposed to resemble. Is it the french press? I think so my friends. Of course, it could never be my fault.

    I've come to this conclusion because whenever I order tecchino from the Whole Foods coffee bar it also tastes burnt. Weird. It could also just be stale. Alton Brown tells me that storing coffee in the freezer to preserve it's freshness is really a lie! So much for that and the warm, mid-afternoon 'cup of joe' I was joansing for.

    Unfortunately, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to charge my camera. It is this lithium battery contraption that I have never seen before! I am far from being electronically-literate, but I can usually figure this nonsense out. Not this time!!  I have, however, figured out how to upload the photos!

    While I am confident in my skillz in the kitchen, I am perhaps the worlds worst food photogropher. Somehow, food that tastes so good, always looks far from appetizing on camera. (If anyone wants to come and take  pretty pictures of my food in exchange for culinary delights, I would gladly oblige!) Anyway, that's my disclaimer...

    (Chocolate Almond Butter Pie from Sun Power Natural Cafe in Studio City, CA) Loooveee it.

    I mentioned this pie in a previous post. Thought I would grace you with a photo.

    They give you really big dessert portions. Bigger than any raw food restaurant I have ever been too. And their prices (this slice was $7 dollars) are very reasonable. B and I split this and we were stuffed at the end.

    Would have liked to eat this with my tecchino that actually TASTED like tecchino. Oh well, I will live. I am due for a trip to TJs for frozen fruit and a trip to the 80s hovel of broken equipment gym. I do everything I hate others do at the gym: sing out loud, blast my music, and attemp to "punch it out" all while on the eliptical looking for recipes to modify for my classes. Fear not, there is never anyone else there since Newport Village "gym" consists of a mildly functioning eliptical, a sit bike that clicks to the point where you want to jab yourself in the eyes, and a dated stair master that randomly starts counting down despite the fact that no one is on it. Aside from the guy who sits by the hot tub all day with his box o' wine cooler, I doubt anyone can see me.

    On that note, it's high time I get back to work and off the computer.

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Fevering Something Wicked

    This past weekend was my 24th birthday, my first away from home. And just like clock work my body goes through its three month detox. I always know it is coming: I am plagued by a precursor of neasea and no taste for food, i.e. this past week and the fact that NOTHING seemed appetizing. And then Friday, around 5:00 am someone called Kevin's phone and we both woke up. And I was like, "Wow, my throat really hurts and I am positive I have a fever." Yup, it's here! Right in time for my birthday! It wipes me out; my eyes feel heavy, I get a runny nose, (tell tail sign of detox, it's like a faucet! pardon, TMI) and my head feels like it is going to burst.

    The reason why I call this detox is because, as I mentioned, it comes like clockwork for me. I've been raw for 2 years and vegan even longer, but I ate meat, diary, processed food, etc. for 15 + years of my life. That stuff doesn't go away over night just because you choose to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It takes YEARS for all of that accumulated waste to break down and be released. You just have to accept it and understand that your body is just doing its job and since you do follow a healither lifestyle it will not last that long. Mine usually last 3 days max.

    I also should note, no matter how sick I am -- fever and all, I exercise. Sweating is the best way to aid the detoxification process since most toxins are released through the skin. Saturday and Sunday, despite feeling like I just wanted to lay in bed and do absolutely nothing, I got off my tush and took it to 10 am Bikram. I am not going to lie, that class on Saturday was far from fun and wonderful. It was extraordinarily hot/humid (perhaps because of my fever) and I felt like death, but I did every pose and tried to put the illness out of my mind. Yoga really helps with that. I still felt pretty crappy on Saturday, but I could definately feel the difference post-yoga. It broke up a lot of mucous and whereas I was stuffed up before, my nose started to run a lot. (Good sign, toxins releasing!) Sunday, my head still felt like a ballon, but again I went to yoga and it turned out to be one of my best classes! I wouldn't reccommend doing anything like running 10 miles outside when you are sick, but something like hot yoga where you are sure to be moving toxins out of the body via sweat is the perfect exercise when you are sick and detoxing. Maybe you cannot do every pose PERFECTLY, but when is anyone EVER able to do that?? Certainly, even on my best days, one is always tweaking their practice! Everyday is different, work with your body, regardless of it's present state. I just know that when I sweat, it helps move the detox along a lot faster.

    P.S. Make sure you drink A LOT - to rehydrate AND once again, to move everything through the body. Tis VERY important!

    On the food front, I went to Native Foods for the first time on Friday. Kevin speaks of them constantly, espousing their vegan pizza and its similiarity to Panera's. I had their Aztec Salad sans toasted pumpkin seeds and quinoa. It is romaine lettuce with this awesome mango dressing and jicama salsa. Sooo flavourful and light! I love fruity kind of salads that have that savoury and sweet combination. I re-created it at home last night except, I changed it up a bit of course. And I made a regular tomato salsa as well and added pineapple and cucumber to the jicama salsa. It was amazing and totally broke my food rut. I also made Kev a sweet mango and whole grain mustard dressing for his salads. Very tasty.

    I got a new camera and I am still trying to figure it out which is why there has been a lacking in my food pictures. I'll be posting them as soon. Until then, here is a link to some pictures from my Holidays Gone Raw class.

    I am teaching a Raw Food Start-up this Saturday (Jan. 16th and 23rd) a two part class and there is still time to sign up!

    Holidays Gone Raw Pictures

    Food Today:
    3 cups of fresh leaf peppermint tea steeped with vanilla bean, 1 t. stevia, and almond milk

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Pickle of a Green Smoothie

    Lately, as mentioned in previous posts, I am on a Green Smoothie feast. Purely unintentional. It seems to be the only thing that isn't causing my gag reflax to spring into action. Love me some green smoothie.

    Today's green smoothie was a variation of my usual. I have been soaking some soft wheat berries to make rejevulac - a probiotic power packed lemony drink that assists digestion. I've given up on chugging smoothies. I pour mine into a bowl and top it with all sortsf of goodies:

    • 1 cup rejuevulac
    • 1 organic california orange
    • 4 HUGE handfuls of organic spinach
    • 1 organic banana
    • 4 organic dried black mission figs
    • 1 organic gala apple
    • 1 cup ice
    • 1 cup organic strawberries
    • 2 spoonfuls organic Nutiva Naturals hempseeds (the best there is, IMP)
    Blend until a creamy, slightly cold, creamy goodness. I topped mine with organic rasisins, more hempseeds, and cacao nibs. Ah, can not get enough of this!

                  (pre-hemp seed.cacao nib photos of my smoothie in a bowl! don't knock it till ya tray it!)

    In an effort to keep our leisure spending on groceries down we've been on a steady roll of me making Kevin's meals. He isn't totally raw, which is fine with me, I want him to enjoy meals and to be honest, for him, I think a mix of the two works better. I do not think you need to be 100 percent raw to be healthy. I do a lot of Ezekial Sprouted Grain Tortilla and Avocado wraps, salads, apples and almond butter, sweet potatos/yams, and grain mixes with vegetables topped with seaweed and nutritional yeast. I made a homemade broccoli and nutritional yeast croutons that he can scoop his grains. It was pretty good and reminded me of a crispy version of the Broccoli Casserole, my absolute favourite meal, that my Mim used to make for me.

     I have learned that forcing someone to eat the way you do is simply not fair and rather selfish. It should be about compromise and I try and do just that with the meals I make. I don't really agree with the over processed vegan food like Tofurkey Deli meats and what not, as they are still loaded with chemicals and things that I don't really feel benefit the body. Occasionally, on a holiday or something, we'll buy a vegan field roast as it is just wheat gluten, veggies, and spices. And every once in a while Kevin will buy some Eddie's Vegan Cookies, however, we make it a treat not an every day affair. I think this works for both of us. Sometimes, I still get worked up about what he is eating because I want him to be healthy and disease-free, but it is important to recongize that you can only give people the tools to be healthy and one can only do so much. After that, you have to let people chart their own course; let them realize what makes them feel best and what doesn't. 

    On that note, i'm watching Anthony Bourdain. I love him, but his idea of what is appetizing is often questionable. I understand his French, peasant roots  - where the reject parts of game are often prized and highly sought after, but tongue, brains, and liver sauteed with lambs blood and stuffed inside the bladder of the lamb and roasted? Really? He also never fails to mention that he doesn't care about DDTs or chemicals in his food as long as it tastes good. Have people yet to realize that food produced WITHOUT pesticides DOES taste better? Such comments make me realize how long of a haul we really have...that, and the insanely long line at El Pollo Loco I see everyday walking home from Bikram. Yet, I just got a message from my Grandmere and Uncle Pat that Monanto sales are down considerably! Ahhh, take that! It is things like this that lift my spirits.

    Slowly, we will take back food. It may not matter to a large portion of the population, but when food prices rise due to peak oil, and people can no longer afford to shop at grocery stories because of the cost to transport a tomato from Chile to NY -- it will be the CSAs and Food Co ops and those growing their own food who will be able to say, "I told you so."

    Return of the COCO B!

    Nori Rolls? Scratch that.

    I am not hungry for anything anymore. Literally,  n o t h i n g.

    Maybe I shall try avocado, alone. Nice and plain. Or apples. I have been craving my apples and Coconut Butter lately.

    It is important to listen to cues from the body and right now my body is telling me that what I have been feeding it is NOT what it wants. Perhaps I will bite the bullet, spend the ten bucks, and buy the darn Coconut Butter. This stuff is creamy, thick, and reminds me of peanut butter. I smchear (professional term, haha) over bananas and apples. I bet this would be mind-boggling on warm Manna Bread...perhaps the Carrot Raisin variety! ::drools on keyboard::

    So, green smoothies, dates, and avocados, apples & coco b. ::crosses fingers::

    I'm off to 10:00 A.M. Bikram and then it is a full day of prepping and organizing for my Raw Start-up class January 16th and the 23rd.

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Back from Blog Hiatus!

    Much apologies for the blog hiatus!! Forgive me, I was consumed by holiday craziness and the fact that Kevin and I flew back to New York which in and of itself is a pain and a half. Anyway, I am back! Just in time as the new year has begun and my birthday is in like four days (January 9th) and I will be turning 24 which is sooo weird. I remember when I started kindergarten and being on the bus with kids who were obviously only in elementary school and feeling like they were tres old and now here I am turning 24. Strange to think that in six years I will be 30. But, I must stay in the present as I have no desire to be 30 right now.

                                                                        Merry Christmas!

    So, what have I been up to? Well, K got me a bike for x-mas so I haven't felt so trapped. I have been bike riding all around Costa Mesa everyday and have only gotten lost once! We went to LA this weekend to eat at Sun Power and got a free slice of this amazing Coconut Almond Butter pie because we waited over an hour for food. The lady was really sweet and the slice of pie was HUGE which you know me, I luurrveee when you get a decent sized portion of food. Then we went up to Pasadena - love it. So much to do and it is very much walkable which is my ideal living area. This whole "must have a car" deal really bums me out. I don't even want a car! I prefer my eco-friendly mode of transportion via the bike, but I would much rather live in a walkable area. I watched this whole show with Emeril Lagasse about Hartwick, VT. Everything is very community based, walkable, and it is where the organic food movement began. They even started a restaurant where the community members invested in it and all the food they use comes from the local farms. I want to live in a place like that.

    As far as food goes, I am in a food funk for sure. I had a really awful dehydration headache over the weekend and that has kind of put me off of food. I am not really hungry for anything and after I eat I often feel like, "why did I even eat that?" The night of my headache I had a cucumber and mushroom salad and now the very thought of cucs makes me gag. Cucs are my fav. so this is very disheartening! The only thing that doesn't seem to bother me is green smoothies and dates. I need to find a few new dishes to subsist on - I am still in the mood for nori rolls so I think I am going to pick them up tonight.

    Great tip K. discovered while trying to soothe my very painful headache: massage the skin between your thumb and pointer finger. He literally did this for over an hour until I fell asleep and then some. It was the only thing that made my headache go away. When pressure is applied between the two fingers the nerve it seends messages directly to the brain, according to Kevin. I don't care what the reason is, it worked. I should know better than to not hydrate enough between Bikram and the gym - both places where I sweat A LOT. Replenishing your water supply and electrolytes is VERY important.

    Right now, I am going to have my green smoothie and I have been adding raisins to it and dates. Sooo yum. Perfect fuel for my nightly gym workout!