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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tum Update, Health Food Store Traversing in LA, & Lots of Food!

Hello All! Hope everyone has been having a good week thus far. I have got tons of pictures to post so I will be quick!

My stomach issues have pressed on since the last time I posted about my enzyme debacle. I thought for sure just going back to my trusted MRM enzymes would work certain overnight miracles, but alas, I should know that most things do not fix themselves overnight! I was still bloated, still uncomfortable, and STILL spitting up food after eating. (Once again, TIM, I know - sorry!) At first I thought it was zucchini, because lord knows I eat A LOT of that. I'm Italian, what can I say, I love my pasta - and that's about as close as i'm gonna get! So I dropped the zucchini, did a day of fasting or feasting really, on smoothies and easy to digest fruits. Ya know, APPLES, bananas, mango, the like. And still, I had a stomach ache. Now, i've had chronic stomach problems for as long as I can remember, but never this intense and long-lasting. Fruit days are usually my "cure-all". After some food evaulation, I realized that perhaps the copious amounts of apples I had been eating lately could be the reason why I was getting stomach aches. Low and behold, on Sunday, no apples and my stomach problems went away!!! I wouldn't say I am allergic, but apples can be very astringent for the body and I think I was just eating WAY to many...like 6 or 7 a day some times 4 at a time!!! I think if I am going to eat apples, I will make applesauce from now on. This week, sans apples, I have been feeling MUCH better.

My good friend from yoga told me this really lovely ancedote since she has the same stomach problems I do: Carrot juice for the digestive system is like mother's milk for an infant. Actually, her doctor told her that. So yesterday, I juiced myself some carrots and lemon and I must say my tum felt a lot better. Even during/after dinner which is when I seem to suffer the most, I felt pretty good. And NO spit ups!!!

Ok, picture time!
Banana, Mini-Papaya, & Mango
Had this for breakfast one day last week! So yum! Papaya is really good for digestion so I try to eat it whenever I can...

Jungle Swamp Smoothie
Another breakfast from last week with spinach, bananas, apple, Vanilla Vivagave, almond milk, california oranges, Vitamineral Green, chia seeds, frozen mango, frozen pineapple.

Alysha's Smoked Gouda Stuffed Portobellos

These are really easy to make. I just marinated the portobellos in miso, tamari, we bit of seasame oil, lemon, and Thanksgiving Herb Blend. I let it sit in the D. for about 2 hours on 110 degrees. Then I stuffed them with avocado, my Smoked Gouda Cheese, sprouts, spinach, and homemade garlic tahini. I poured the leftover sauce from marinating over them. These were SO good; just like the cooked version - soft, juicey, and full of flavor. The rosemary in the Thanksgiving Herb Blend really makes this dish.

Friday Night is Taco Night!
Back in NYC I was a nanny for the most wonderful family (Miss you guys!!) and every Friday was Taco Night. So i've kind of got in the habit of making mexican inspired meals on Fridays now. This was Kev's taco, sporting two Sprouted Grain Ezekial Wraps. One of our favs! I made a quick taco meat using sunflower seeds, cilantro, lime juice, smoke paprika, New Frontiers Mexican Seasoning, garlic, and some fresh jalepeno pepper. I let it sit in the D on 105 degrees for three hours so the outside was crunchy and the inside was soft. This bad boy is topped with leftover cheese sauce from the portobellos, lettuce, toms, and some homemade guacamole. He loved these so much he took them to work two days in a row!

Veg & Guac!
I opted to just have some veggies and guacamole for dinner instead of the full on taco supreme. This was just cucs, toms, and yellow bell pepper with homemade guacamole. My guacamole was filled with goodies like bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, jalepeno pepper, and a bit of Himalayan Sea Salt. Really simple, super delicious!

Chocolate VivAgave
Ah, my new favourite company VivAgave came out with this Chocolate flavor and I knew I had to give it a try. I've been DYING for some hot chocolate lately because CA has been really chilly! So I threw together some Chocolate VivAgave, lightly heated almond milk, and raw cacao powder into the blender and ta-da! raw, organic, hot chocolate! Take that Swiss Miss! Now if only I could get Sarma to send me some of that Vanilla Cream from the juice bar's Mallomar i'd be in some serious business!

On Saturday we went to LA/Santa Monica to check out some health food stores that I had read about online. Erewhon gets a lot of publicity for being one of the best LA health food stores and while I must say that they do carry just about every raw food product every designed, they are absurdly overpriced. Even the kitch, size of my pinkie raw food shops in NYC, like High Vibe, are not even that overpriced in comparison. Oh well, right! Probably has to do with the rent or something, it is right near CBS studios and I am sure with prime location like that they pay a big leasing fee. Anyway, there are a lot of great health food stores in LA besides Erewhon.

Like, Rainbow Acres - my new favourite LA store!

In all my food nerd glory, I was in heaven. They've got homemade raw tahini, tons of raw food, juice bar, deli, awesomely priced produce, a fantastic bulk foods section, bulk herbs/teas, well priced supplements. They even have this middle section where they keep all their discounted items like shampoos, lotions, conditioner, etc.

One pound of chia seeds for $7.00!!! Haven't been able to find chia in the OC for under $11 a lb. And my favourite, bee pollen. Love it!

Nothing beats the smell of burning patchouli! Seriously, I am a total hippie at heart and I live for all things patchouli; I just love it's earthy undertones. Don't even get me started on frankincense and myrrh...Those are my top three favourite smells aside from woodburning fire. Anytime, I find stuff like this I buy it. These were on sale: Patchouli Shampoo $3.99 and Bergamont/Patchouli Lotion $1.99. These are all organic, paraben, chemical free and definately not tested an animals. Total steal. Can't wait to go back here!

Awesome car.

We stopped at this place, Elderberries, on Sunset to get a bite to eat. Unfortunately, they were not totally up and running just yet. However, the lovely lady who I believe owns it said that they will be up and running by this weekend. She was one of the sweetest people I have ever met! She gave me a free taste of this Raw Pear and Watercress soup that she had created. It was divine! Smooth, cool, and slightly sweet. I cannot wait to go back there and actually eat. I also ordered a "Flufighta" which contained juiced ginger, lemon, and cayenne. Man! This cleaned me out quick. She quickly gave me some juiced green apple to wash it down because I started to tear. haha! She didn't even charge me! The decor of this place alone is enough to make me want to go back. It was very french/victorian which is like me wrapped in a nutshell. If you are in the LA area check this place out. I am going to go back there next time and order food that way I can write a real review, however, this place deserves some early press.

Kev pointing to ZenBunny in Santa Monica. Literally, BEST raw chocolate in the world! I know, with a grandious statement like that I had better deliver, but I wouldn't lie - hands down, THE BEST!

Yay! Semi-straight hair. I have like Shirly Temple-ringlet curly kind of hair and this is about as straight as I can get it. It's longer, this picture just doesn't do it justice, but Saturday was the first time I have even touched my hair in over two months. I normally part and air dry. No styling gels necessary here!

Check out Ginger is the New Pink's blog as she is doing an awesome giveaway!!! It's a Raw Cleanse by Garden of Life. For directions, check out her blog and enter!

I'll be back tomorrow with something extra special. Kev and I have a big food challenge in the works! Should be rather interesting!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Double Postage!

 I'm back again for a second posting of the day! I figured I was due for an update on my tummy troubles and my Valentine's Day post was surely not the place to discuss it!

A few posts back I talked about my latest digestive problems, which have seemingly followed me all my life. Sure, like I mentioned, they've improved while on raw but, I have yet to reach a consistantly happy medium. I have found myself continuingly having to cut out my favorite foods (like nuts, granola, raw breads, etc) because I simply have such a hard time digesting them. As a foodie, this can make my food life very boring and can even make digestive problems worse due to stress. D. Chopra says that your emotions can often manifest themselves in your GI track!

Lately, my digestive problems have been the WORST...I mean, seriously, even I was baffled by the extent of what I was dealing with. Never in my life had my stomach been this reactive. I haven't spit up food since I was a kid indulging in a bit too much sugar! What the hell! The floor and the fetal position have been my best friends this week and last. (Don't ask, not sure why I find the floor so comforting, but for some reason it helps to soothe me...think it stems from my childhood which is a whole other story delving into my nerosis.) I have literally been trying everything from different teas to eating more ginger, taking shots of apple cider vinegar, drinking Kombucha, adding inulin, still taking my regular 2 heaping tablespoons of Vitamineral Green, cutting out nutritional yeast. I mean you name it, i've been doing it. And NOTHING seemed to make a difference and my symptoms were just getting worse and worse

To complicate matters, because of my lack of digesting I haven't been sleeping. And everyone knows how important sleep is to the digestive process and overall health. I wake up fatigued and bloated; certainly not how I like to begin my day!

And then, last night I took my NEW digestive enzyme that I've been taking for the past TWO WEEKS (about the time my tum tooks its turn for the worse). And within 15 minutes, I started to feel like someone was stabbing me in my GIT. I took to the floor, per routine. And then, I realized something....IT HAS BEEN MY NEW ENZYMES ALL ALONG!!!! I  did a re-run of the past two weeks and reassessed how/when I started to feel like crap. It was always around dinner time when I usually take my enzymes AND before I go to bed when I take an enzymes again. Duh!

I usually take MRM 100% Plant Based Enzymes and they work beautifully for me. They even contain a proprietary blend of herbs such as ginger, fennel, peppermint, etc. Silly me, I thought I would switch it up and try a new enzyme. I picked up KAL Super Enzymes because it contained HCL and herbs and said it was a double release enzyme for both the stomach and the intestine. This means that part of the enzyme releases its goods in the tum and the other part breaks down in the intestine. It didn't say whether it was veg/vegan which should have been my first indication NOT to buy it, but there was no gelatin and it said it didn't contain anything that was not in the ingredient list. I am guessing that some ingredient not specified was of animal-origin and must have contained some form of dairy. It also burned when I swallowed it, but I thought that was just the herbs or something. Lesson learned. Will be sticking to MRM. Honestly, I want a refund from KAL, i'm so disappointed with this product. Has anyone else ever taken these??

Thanks for all the support and well-wishes during my hellish tummy troubles. Lauren of Ginger is the New Pink has been especially helpful in giving me some tips to help me deal. Thanks Lauren! I will still continue to drink the Rooibos tea, taking Inulin, and eat my raw food because you can never do enough to ensure good digestion!

Speaking of, my lovely Kevinly Kev picked me up two huge heads of red cabbage at the farmers market this weekend so that I can make my own Kraut. I'm excited!! Whenever I eat saurkraut, my digestive issues become almost non-existant...hence my almost perfect, GIT of steel in NYC. I ate kraut by the bucketloads thanks to a wonderful company called Hawthorne Valley Farms from NY. They produce a wide-variety of delicious sauerkraut and I have had the pleasure of indulging in them ALL. I don't even have a favourite because they are all SO good. If you are ever at the Green Market in Union Square, Westerly, or Integeral Yoga do yourself a favor and pick up some of this fermented goodness. Actually, I just found out that they sell buy the gallon now online and I think I might have to purchase some while I wait for my own batch to ferment! I think I am going to be following the Pure2Raw Twins directions for fermenting Kraut/Veggies since they seem to eat them a lot! Kristen's Raw also has an excellent video on making raw, organic, unpasterized Sauerkraut, but she has a crock pot (I guess that's what they call those thingers!) for making her kraut, and I unfortunately, only have mason jars! I'll be posting more on this once I actually get my tush in the kitchen and start fermenting away.

Since I've been dealing with digestive issues my meals have been very simple, but really delicious. I layed off the spices this week and opted for whole foods ingredients like lemon juice, raw garlic, and fresh ginger to flavor my foods. Sometimes it is good to take a break!

Last week I enjoyed this rich, vitamin-packed green smoothie everyday! I called it my Cookies N'Cream since it tasted exactly like the creamy, vanilla shakes I used to enjoy pre-raw and definately pre-vegan.

Cookies N'Cream Smoothie: (all organic)

  • Raw Coconut Flakes
  • Almond Milk
  • VivAgave Vanilla Inulin Powder
  • Wild Organic Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Baby Bananas
  • Flax Seeds
  • Frozen Mango
  • Spinach

Looks like swamp sludge, takes like love in a mason jar!

As I said my dinners of have been quick to prepare and contain minimal ingredients so as to not tax my digestion.

Marinated Mushrooms and Shredded Zucchini Soup w/ a Lemon-Pesto Broth

Creamy Celery Soup w/ Sunflower Greens & Alfafa Sprouts

Ginger, Curry, Marinated Kale and Nori Strips on top of Creamy Celery, Parsley, & Cilantro Soup

 Fresh Ginger and Garlic Asian Marinated Zucchini and Mushrooms

You know, people say variety is the spice of life, but I happen to enjoy my simple, consistant meals. Sure, I may change spices or herbs here and there, but sticking to whole foods and keeping my ingredient list short really seems to work for me!

Hope everyone has a fanastic, short week! Got to love those government holidays!

Valentine's Day & Our New Co-op!

Hope everyone had a splendid, love-filled Valentine's Day! (No one says you need to have a boyfriend/girlfriend to spread the love!) I certainly did! This is our 7th Valentine's Day together. We never really go all out with chocolates or flowers, but we like to spend the day simply, together. And we always give each other what I call, "Love on Paper." I'm as sentimental as they come i'd much rather have a hand-made card or drawing to save and be able to look back at later on than any amount of chocolate. (I literally have two bins, a folder, and two shoe boxes FILLED with things that we have given each other over the years. This does not include our scrapbook album either! I think I have just about every movie ticket, reciept, baseball ticket, play, concert ticket we have ever gone too!) My Kevinly is very creative and a pretty damn good drawer so he always comes up with the sweetest little notes that remind me how lucky I am to have found my soulmate so early in life. My only request this year, other than LOP, was that we get down to business with two pints of Coconut Bliss. Thankfully, my wish was granted and then some!

 For V-day Kev and I headed to San Diego to check out our new Co-op; pretty far for us, about an hour and a half, but there are no other Co-ops in the OC. Total bummer, I know. Aside from shopping at the farmers market every week, we normally have to go to FOUR other stores to find the rest of the stuff we need like bananas, sesame seeds for whole made tahini, etc. It gets REALLY annoying, esp. for Kev because he works and goes to Grad. school so when he comes home and I tell him we have to go to Whole Foods, Mother's Market, and Henry's all in the same night, he is not a happy camper. While I personally don't mind the shopping, as I'd gladly spend all day in the food store just looking around, Kev can only take so much.

My dream is to be able to find everything I need at one place for a decent amount of money. Seriously, is this too much to ask? I'm embarrassed to admit that sometimes we have to go to TWO different Mother's Markets (Irvine AND Costa Mesa) to get what we need, because yes, the same store that is litearlly 10 miles (ish) apart from one another has DIFFERENT items and the SAME items at DIFFERENT prices! Insanity!

We joined the Co-op in hopes to be able to buy all our bulk foods plus the stuff we know we can not get around Orange County, like bulk unrefined, untoasted, seasame oil or my absolute favourite Raw Goji-Chocolate bars that I used to get in NYC and eat EVERYDAY; perhaps the only nut-filled bar that doesn't upset my stomach. They even have bulk herbs like dandelion and kava-kava! Let me tell you, I was in grocery store heaven! Plus, our co-op is very hip and they offer a bunch of raw food classes for FREE and have a deli upstairs that has raw items as well. A+ in my book. Our local health food store, Mother's Market, also has raw deli items, but they certainly do not have a bulk section like our co-op, nor do they carry the herbs I am typically looking for. After paying and assessing our bill we were extremely pleased, esp. since we both got a Coconut Bliss and a Kombucha (typically not part of our normal shop). 

Co-Op Items (some not pictured):
  • Fig, Fennel, & Flax Manna Bread
  • Organic Dates
  • Cherry Amertto Coconut Bliss
  • Dark Chocolate Coconut Bliss
  • Thanksgiving Herb Blend
  • Kava-Kava
  • Cayenne
  • Curry
  • Ginger
  • Dandelion
  • Burdock Root
  • Roobios Tea
  • Collards
  • Dino Kale
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Strawberry Kombucha
  • Gingeraid Kombucha
  • Vegan Chocolate Haystacks
  • Oats
  • Hulled Sesame Seeds
  • Pint of Raw, Unfiltered, Sesame Oil

All for under $50.00. It only costs us $15.00 to join AND because V-day was also customer appreciation day we got an additional 7% off our bill!

I was also happy to find that they had bulk raw, unpasterized barley miso, seaweeds, organic nuts, agave, wild honey, raw tahini, and Kev's Ezekial wraps for the same price that I usually get them at TJs. Score!

*I took pictures of both the coop, our full Sunday shop, AND San Diego only to come home and find out that I never put the picture chip back into the camera before we left! Duh.

Somewhere in Texas...

Anytime we have to drive anywhere Kev and I are reminded of our cross country trip to CA and how we often spent 8-9 hours in the car, sometimes 6-7 hours straight. An hour and a half is like nothing to us now, and Kev always likes to say, " It is amazing what a little conversation can do to pass the time!" I am greatful to have someone who keeps me as entertained during those long car trips. It reminds me of family vacations as a kid with my little brother, Matthew, and how we used to play "Make Me Laugh".

(Me, Matthew, my cousin Emily in the red)
He's definately not so little anymore! He's nineteen now! Yikes!

We plan to go back to the Co-op every two weeks or so to stock up on said goodies and hopefully continue to cut down on our shopping bill as well as the amount of stores we have to visit to get all that we need. Being a raw vegan is easy, sure, but getting quality Organic foods on a budget sometimes means you have to go a tinsy bit out of the way.

And if you are wondering about gas usage and our carbon foot-print, well, TJs, Henrys, and Costa Mesa Mother's are all in walking/biking distance from our apartment complex so you can be sure that i'm not driving when I go to stock up on food during the day. And, Santa Anna Mother's, is in the same parking lot as where Kev works so he just walks over to pick me up the stuff I need from there sometimes. Being New Yorkers, we are big walkers, so going 2 miles up the street to get groceries and walking there is like cake for us, in fact, we ENJOY it.

Though, I will say, sometimes I try and do to many things at once like going on my no pressure fun run AND grocery shopping..yeah, you try running back from the grocery store with a five pound bag of zucchini, cucs, toms, and poms! Not fun!

I guess you can take the girl out of New York, but you can never take the New York out of the girl...(yeah, sorry, had to hit my cliche quota for the day. woot! sat-is-fied!)

This week is filled with green smoothies, some Asian flare, and my very productive trip to the Costa Mesa library! As if my book reading list wasn't already sky high!

Au Revoir!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Product Review: VivAgave's Organic Blue Agave Inulin Powder!

When it comes to food products, I am a pretty simple gal. Give me some some good, whole grain mustard, slightly bitter yet salty tahini, coconut butter, and some Vitamineral Green for good measure and that is about the extent of the pre-packaged/bottled/prepared accountrements that I am willing to buy.

Why you ask? Well, because I like knowing how my food was prepared. I like knowing that it hasn't been sitting on a shelf for eons. And mostly, because I think it is absurd to spend money on products that are horrifically expensive for no reason; flax crackers anyone??? (Talk about overpriced! I can make my own for more than half the cost of those dinky 3.7 oz. bags with a much bigger yield.)

However, there are just some products a girl can't make on her own...like VivAgave's Organic Blue Agave Inulin Powder with Organic Vanilla! I mean, there are blue agave plants all over Costa Mesa, HUGE ones in fact. And I suppose with the right equipment I could...no, nope, sorry, way out of my league. Yeah, so, I'm not about to go attempt to cut one down myself and try and make my own agave. I'll leave that one to the pros!

To be honest, I am not a big agave user myself. I used to put it in everything, and then slowly but surely it became very popular to the point where even my local Trader Joe's was carrying it's own brand. Now, some would say, "This is awesome! Bringing the good, healthy stuff to the masses to replace the processed, refined, chemical sugar junk!" Unfortunatley for me, I am a bit more jaded. I've done a lot of reading and watched my fair share of food related documentaries. I know when something avant-garde in the food world becomes that popular it has to mean that the quality was compromised SOMEWHERE. I wish I was wrong about this, but the wheat, corn, and soy industry in America speaks for itself. Not to mention the fact that a good portion of the "organic" companies in this country are owned by the very conglomerates giving us the toxic food that's fueling obsesity, cancer, and heart disease. I'm a skeptic what can I say?

So when I stumbled upon VivAgave's Inulin Powder in my local Whole Foods I was not immediately throwing them in my cart. I will say, what really caught my attention was the promise of an Organic Vanilla flavor that wasn't just vanilla FLAVORING it was actually Organic Vanilla Powder made from REAL vanilla beans. Like the good shopper that I am, I went home and checked out their website. When it comes to products I am unsure about, I like to do some research first before I buy them. First of all, I wanted to know what the heck inulin was, how was this product actually produced, and where were they sourcing their agave from?? (After that whole agave controversy where some companies were watering down their agave to cut cost with high fructose corn syrup, it was important for me to have these questions answered before I purchased VivAgave's powder -- no matter how enticed I was by the yummy vanilla powder aspect.)

Let me tell you, these guys have done their research! On their website, they have two PDF files that answer just about every question you could possibly want to know about this product. Click here and here and yes, here to find out all the nitty gritty nutritional information about VivAgave Inulin. 

So, after looking all this over, I was willing to give their product a try. Back to the store I went! And after a week of using this in my smoothies, on top of some cut up mango and mini-papaya, and in my banana and almond milk cereal bowl, I am hooked!

Taste: Mmmm, DELCIOUS! The agave powder is very light and velvety; it literally dissolves on your tongue. It adds a nice, subtle vanilla flavor to whatever you put it in. Sometimes, vanilla powder can be a little bit over-powering and chemical tasting. Not this stuff! When I put it in my green smoothies it makes them taste like cookies n' cream and who doesn't want that???

Price: I paid $8.99 for 7 oz., but since it works as a sweetener you really don't need that much, maybe a teaspoon. I am not even halfway through the bag and I have been using it everyday. I would say, it is worth the money especially when you consider that most raw vanilla powders go for $12-$14 dollars for a mere 4 oz. It really is a steal!

Commitment to Quality: I like a company who comes forth with this kind of promise and is willing to include all the information they did on their website; they are obviously not trying to hide anything which to me, makes them a very trustworthy establishment. Here is what they say about their product:

  "At VivAgave, we use only all natural and organic ingredients—never any preservatives or artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners. All of our organic products are produced under the strictest quality controls to ensure our customers are purchasing only the highest quality items." (http://www.vivagave.com/)

Would I purchase this again: ABSOLUTELY!
Other reasons why I love VivAgave Powder: This Agave powder is a soluable fiber, which means that it works to create healthy, benefical bacteria in the gut. In fact, inulin is what healthy belly bacteria thrives on! They don't really breakdown in the normal digestive process, which means all that enzyme-rich bacteria makes it all the way to your colon! As someone who is working to heal my digestive system, that was a huge selling point for me. Not to mention the fact that inulin apparently works as a pre AND probiotic; another good aspect in my book. It is also low glycemic, so it would be an excellent, safe sugar replacement for anyone suffering from diabeties or those trying to cut down on processed sugars. It also aids in the absorption of calcium! And well, once again, the vanilla powder. It tastes authentic. You can add it to absolutely anything for a sweet, delicate, hint of vanilla-y goodness. Yum!

It also comes in two other flavors Original and Cocoa:

My Whole Foods was only carrying the Original and the Vanilla, so I haven't been able to try the Cocoa one yet. Though, I am sure it is just as good as the Vanilla!

So, if you are a looking for a healthy way to substitute conventional sugar or just crazy about vanilla like moi, get to your local Whole Foods or health food store and ask them to supply VivAgave Organic Blue Agave Inulin Powder!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Zukay Salad Dressing Giveaway!


Yay! A fabulous RAW giveaway from Kristen Suzanne of Kristen's Raw!

Zukay was kind enough to offer Kristen's readers a chance to win a six-pack of their delicious salad dressings. If you haven't tried them before this would be the perfect opportunity. They are all vegan, raw, AND fermented which means they are packed with beneficial bacteria and enzymes that are excellent for digestion and keeping a healthy tum!


  • Leave a comment on Kristen's blog telling her what products or flavors you would to see Zukay put out in the future!
  • Post a link to her blog on Facebook about the Zukay Giveaway
  • OR Tweet about the giveaway with a link connecting back to Kristen's blog!

*For the last two you need to leave a separate comment on her page letting her know you have spread the Zukay word!

 The contest ends Monday Feb. 15th and Kristen will be announcing the winner on Tuesday Feb.16th!

 I'm really excited about this one! I've entered, have you???

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Me vs. The Battle of the Bloat!

While I may have Abs of STEEL, I definately do NOT have the stomach to match! (Anyone remember those videos? Ah, those were the days!)

Unlike Anthony Bourdain at a BBQ in the Hudson Valley (which is my program of choice at the moment), everything is not going 'swimmingly' for moi. My tum has really been acting up lately and I can't seem to keep anything down. I eat and then I feel bloated. And depending on what I eat sometimes it comes right back up. Lovely, I know. I have been falling asleep around 11 p.m. and then waking up around 1:00 a.m with horrible stomach cramps; then I wake up about every two hours after that. Thursday night was perhaps the worst my stomach has felt since I gave up dairy four plus years ago. I was laying on the floor in the fetal position groaning. I have no idea what could bring on such gastrointestinal distress, but I can definately say that I felt like death warmed over the next morning; totally drained from the whole ordeal.

 After much research, I think my problems with low stomach acid have returned...for whatever reason. In New York, I had basically resolved this issue so to have it come back is very annoying. (And then it all snowballs as I start to stress over it and think about it all the time which just makes it worse.) Despite the fact that I have been drinking, or well, sometimes eating, Green Smoothie and Green Smoothies in a Bowl since I began this whole raw food thing two years ago. For those who don't know, Green Smoothies are supposed to fix all that jazz. I have been really bad about rotating greens and have been pretty much using only spinach for quite some time now.  The only exception would be when I make soups and I blend in herbs like parsley, dill, cilantro, basil, etc. When I eat salad I mix it up with spring mix, butter lettuce, sprouts, and romaine, but even that is hard on my tum. I love kale, but since I have a hard time digesting it I tend to stay away. I suppose I should be trying other greens in my smoothies, but I like the fact that spinach has a mild flavor and you can't taste the green part at all.

I have been incorporating some healing tea into my diet to see if it works. I have been reading a lot about the powerful healing benefits of ginger so I have been making a detox tea that has burdock, dandelion, fo ti wu, etc. adding a yerba mate tea bag and then steeping fresh ginger in it. I think it is helping to at least soothe my tum, especially at night when it seems to be the worst. I read online that bitter herbs also help stimulate stomach acids so I think I am going to start jucing dandelion - a very powerful, bitter, healing herb for digestion. P-p-p-p-p pucker face! haha!

Also, recently I discovered this awesome blog called Ginger is the New Pink. She has Crohn's Disease and is healing herself naturally with a high raw/ whole food vegan diet. She has some awesome looking soups that make me long for all the comforts of home (ya know -- snow, the smell of fire, and the East Coast in general). Check out her blog, she has the cutest pug! Anyway, in one of her posts she references the fact that nightshades, like tomatoes, are known to cause inflammation....and then the lightbulb turned on!! ::hmm, i've been eating a LOT of tomatoes lately...hmmm, previous to this week and a half my tum was doing just fine...ah ha!:: Yeah, so goodbye toms until summer when I can get heirlooms from the farmers market.

That being said, this week has been a tomato fest. I have been marinating them in olive oil, lemon juice, and some garlic powder and popping them in the D. so they are soft, warm, and taste just like they have been roasting in the oven. When they are done, I add them to various dishes. I must say, I am not a huge fan of raw marinara. I've resolved myself to the fact that my Mim makes the best gravy there is and trying to replicate it is impossible. However, these plump little babies really make for a super delicious gravy or soup.

Toms & Mushrooms w/ Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Garlic Powder
I put it in the D. for 2 hours on 115 degrees.


Warm 'Roasted' Tomato Salad w/ Cucumbers tossed with Pesto Vingarette:
I ate this like everyday last week...really simple and good.

'Roasted' Tomatoes & Marinated Mushrooms w/ grated Zucchini:

Then I topped it with that marinara gravy I was talking about
and make a really tasty and hearty soup...

I added in some roasted garlic hummus (not pictured because I already mixed it in) that I picked up from Mother's Market deli counter. I don't normally eat that kind of stuff, but, I have been really craving garbanzo beans lately. And, hummus was one of my favourite foods pre-raw. I am not a fan of sprouted garbanzo beans as they taste really funny to me and nothing like regular chickpeas. I think the sprouted variety makes hummus taste chalky and you really don't get the same consistancy. I like to listen to my body rather than being hyper-crazy about being 100% raw. The hummus was simply roasted garlic, tahini, chickpeas, lemon juice and sea salt. All organic, and I know it wasn't sitting in a plastic container absorbing possible PBAs so I am pretty content with my decision. It added a nice little touch to the dish. Yum yum yum!

I have been eating a lot of mangos and these mini-papayas after dinner. The mini-papayas are expensive! Yikes! Papaya is supposed to be good for digestion which is why I wanted to try it. I tried a sample at Mother's and it tasted like strawberries! The ones I have bought do not taste that good and actually have no flavor. I have been cutting them up and combining them with mangos and lime juice. The mangos I have been getting have are really sweet, soft, and juicy lately. Sometimes you get them and they are more yellow vs. orange and they taste like pesticide even though they are organic. France still has the best mangos I have ever had, ironically.

Mini-Papaya & Mango w/ Lime Juice:

Perfect after dinner snack...I would be lying if I said I stopped there. I also had about four or twenty fresh dates after this. They are just SO good! Nice and sweet and soft, just the way they are supposed to be.

Hope everyone had a great Monday! I'm getting into a bad habit of staying up way to late again. I really need to go to bed earlier...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Weekend Spent

My weekends, much like my weekdays, begin the same way: the same 26 postures, done twice, for 90 minutes. Needless to say, my mornings are excessively sweaty, bendy, stretchy, and every other word you can think of to describe a yoga practice that makes my heart beat out of my chest and sometimes induces a flury of dizzying neasea. Everyday is different, everyday my body is different; it comes with the territory and I wouldn't have it any other way. This my friends, is Bikram Yoga.
  This weekend I completed my 30 out 60 day challenge, meaning that I haven't missed a yoga pratice in 30 days straight. For some, this task is seriously daunting, however, for me it is routine - much like brushing your teeth. Previous to this, I had only missed one class in 4 months. My practice has come a LONG way. I remember when I couldn't touch my forehead to my knee like posture 24 or how I wobbled my way through postures 3-7. And even 5 days straight of Bikram was pushing it. Much like anything in life, yoga of any kind takes practice and dedication. Sometimes, in posture 22 I still feel like I am going to vomit everything I have eaten over the past week, but hey, it's all good, dizziness is normal! It's just the flow of toxins leaving the body through the pours and your heart chakra opening up, releasing all that supressed emotion, fear, and anxiety. I'm a work in progress, but I find that since beginning Bikram my entire mind, body, and soul has been transformed. Phyiscally, I am more flexible and have more muscle than I ever did running and lifting weights. I can also feel the effect it has had on me interally, squeezing all those toxins out of my organs and increasing the strength of my breathing; also a form of detox. Mentally, I feel more calm, centered, rational, and in tune with myself and the world around me. Soul-wise, I am much more greatful for the life I have been able to have; even when things don't go my way I know, that just like my yoga, all will come together in good time. Here's to the rest of my 30 days!

On to less sweaty weekend events!

This weekend Kevin and I traversed to Laguna Beach for a potluck in this fantastic hexagone, multi-level home. It was literally, at the top of the world! The hill we had to drive to get up there was MASSIVE and just kept going and going. We were like, "Does this ever end???" However, the drive up there was well worth it as the view from the top was breath-taking. Laguna in an of itself is an amazing beach community; very quaint. The potluck was fun, other than the fact that it took forever to start eating..which would be fine, but I hadn't eaten in about five hours in preperation for the onslaught of the food combos (I wanted to give my digestive system a rest). I did my best to pace myself as usual, but still woke up the next morning bloated and uncomfortable. Something about those flax seeds and dehydrated goodies that just wreaks havoc on my digestive system! ugh!

  Just because you are a raw foodist doesn't mean you are immune to these problems. I think people assume this is the case. That all of a sudden, you go raw, and your body magically becomes a perfectly functioning mechanism..maybe for some, but certainly not for me. Raw has helped me with many issues like my migraines, horrible PMS, fibroids, more energy, but my digestive issues press on. I thought for a long time I was the only one - why can all these other raw foodists eat nuts galore with no adverse reactions? Why can everyone else seem to handle these complicated raw food dishes from restaurants and i'm stuck eating soup that I can easily make at home for half the price?? And then I started talking to more people about it and I found that A LOT of people have these issues too. Except, people just don't like to talk about them because I guess they have the same fears that I do; that those who aren't raw will be like "AH HA! This lifestyle isn't everything you claim it to be!!! We've got you figured out!"

 No one can deny all the amazing benefits that raw food has on the body and the mind. However, it can be more difficult for some to figure out the perfect balance and knowing exactly what the body needs to fuction. The cleaner you become, the more difficult it is - at least I think so. We're not all scientists here and the body is a very complicated organism. Right now, I am just trying to figure out how to feel good EVERYDAY, not somedays. I'll be writing more on this in an upcoming post. As this goes much deeper for me than just some bad potluck combos!

     Friday's Dinner:
  • Ezekial Wrap with Romaine Lettuce, Sun-dried Tomato Sunflower Seed Burger topped with Smoked Gouda Cheeze Sauce and Organic Whole Grain Mustard (ACV & Sea Salt) w/ a side salad of Romaine, Nutirional Yeast, and Agave-Mustard Dressing.
  • Crudite of Organic celery and Organic red beel pepper w/ avocado topped with Sea Veggie Dulse & Cayenne sprinkled on top and some Himalayan Sea Salt.
  • Dip: Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Whole Grain Mustard, Nutitional Yeast, Organic fresh Dill, and chopped up Jalepeno pepper.
Sunday was spent in the kitchen, re-stocking for Kevin's lunches/dinners and cleaning/organizing. Spending my Sundays making food and dehydrating makes my weekday mornings super easy. All I have to do is reach into the cabinet or fridge and pull out what I made on Sunday and within 3 minutes i've got his whole lunch ready to go! This weekend I made a big batch of Chocolate-Coconut Flake-Raisin Granola, Sunflower-Dill Crab Cakes, Jalepeno-Cilantro Burgers, Snap-Pea Chips, and a Mediterranean Chickpea, Adzuki, and Mung bean grain bowl with organic Millet seasoned with fresh garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. (non-raw). 

 I'm fortunate enough to have a live-in taste tester for all my raw-vegan and vegan recipes. He's my hungry high-raw vegan guinea pig! Kev's a picky eater, so when he likes something I know it must be good. We've been together for six years so I trust him to tell me if something needs more seasoning or is too sweet; we by-passed that whole sugar coating stage a longgggg time ago! He's come leaps and bounds in his diet since I first met him. Somehow, he used to live off sugary cereals, micro-waved veggies in cheese sauce, shake n'bake pork chops, eating whole Dominos pizzas at midnight w/ cheesy bread. You know, Standard American Diet processed crap. I'm very proud of him. He may never be a salad-lover like me, but he can drink a 64 oz Green Smoothie with the best of them. Even when i'm not around to remind him he still always chooses an Organic and Vegan option which is fine by me!!

Eating Vegan Chocolate Chip Pancakes from Swingers in Santa Monica.

Isn't he adorable? I think so!

My nicely organized fridge and cabinet.

Sunday night was very relaxing. We watched television, I read my new health magazine from Mother's, and Kevin worked on his park project for Urban Design class. Good weekend!

...and this concludes my SUPER long weekend post! Au Revoir!