Sunday, August 16, 2009

118 Degrees Restaurant, Costa Mesa

It's been ages since I've updated this blog, and speaking of ages, midlife keeps rolling steadily along. Today we celebrated my 43rd birthday two days early with a visit to my current favorite restaurant, 118 Degrees.

Here's Jezebel, Christina and I in the backseat on the way to the restaurant:

The tone for 118 Degrees is set right from the moment you enter the parking lot, where each space is adorned with phrases like "Remain Calm" and "Simplify."
The first time I went there, I didn't look closely and thought they were reserved parking spots. Clearly, I need to learn to "pay attention" and "be present."

Here's a photo of the family outside the restaurant (that really didn't need a caption, but there you go).

Although it is a raw restaurant, they do serve coffee. One intriguing concoction combined coffee with cacao, cayenne and lime. Christina and Di opted for plain coffee with hemp milk. As you can see, the hemp milk captivated Di first with its swirling patterns and then with its taste. She ended up swigging it straight from the pitcher.

Jezebel ordered this cacao drizzled buckwheat cereal in nut milk. As she put it, "If you see chocolate, eat it." Well said.

I ordered the same appetizer and entree I'd had on my previous visit, the "Fried" Avocado Mini Tostada (Crispy Buckwheat Shell, Spicy Peppita Sauce, Chopped Spinach, Cilantro, Corn and Fried Avocado) and the Living Lasagna (Layers of Marinated Italian Vegetables, Creamy Ricotta and Sweet Basil Marinara. Topped with Crispy Tomato). Unfortunately I kept forgetting to take a photo before I dug into them.

Di had fondue for dessert and I ordered the Pecan Chai Truffles. To apply Jezebel's profound depth and wisdom: "If you see truffles, eat them."

On our way out, we snapped this photo of Di and Christina. Di indulged so thoroughly that Christina was heard to comment during the meal, "I don't think it's your birthday Sandra, it's Di's."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Review: I Am Grateful and Sweet Gratitude (the Cookbooks of Cafe Gratitude)

Reprinted from

I Am Grateful book coverSweet Gratitude coverNo two books fit the philosophy and focus of Spiritualitea quite so well as this pair from Café Gratitude.  Inherent within them is the idea that food is nourishment for both body and spirit.  Take, for example, the titles of each of the dishes, both at the café and in the book I Am Grateful:

“The Café Gratitude menu gives you the opportunity to start practicing saying something new and affirming about yourself by simply placing your order.  All the items on our menu have self-affirming names like ‘I Am Adoring,’ ‘I am Loved,’ or ‘I Am Fulfilled,’ which is how we encourage customers to order what they want.  Then when the servers bring them their food and drinks, they place them down saying, ‘You Are Adoring,’ ‘Your Are Loved,’ or ‘You Are Fulfilled’!”

The recipes in I Am Grateful are fairly straightforward, though a good many of them require you to have a dehydrator. The recipes in Sweet Gratitude on the other hand can seem involved at first – they may entail learning to use unfamiliar ingredients such as Irish Moss (a sea vegetable) or learning to create your own liquid vanilla – but once you’ve learned the techniques, the recipes aren’t as complex as they first seemed and the results are oh so worth it.  In one taste test, non-raw friends sampled the Sweet Gratitude pecan pie side by side with one from Marie Callendar’s and deemed the former superior.  With regular desserts, you can expect only sin and guilt from your indulgence, but with these recipes you get living enzymes, protein, and healthy fats.    I can personally attest to the fact that even with desserts like these as a semi-regular part of my diet, my previously pre-diabetic glucose levels have remained stable and I continued to lose weight.  What more could you ask?

While of the two books I loved Sweet Gratitude more – I've been blown away by every recipe I’ve tried in it – I’d recommend getting I Am Grateful if you are deciding between the two rather than planning to purchase both. I Am Grateful not only includes a broad range of raw entrees, salads, sauces and drinks, but also includes some of my favorite desserts from Sweet Gratitude, such as the Pecan Pie and Banana Cream Pie.  I Am Grateful also includes the inspiring story of restaurant founder Terces Engelhart and a bit on the philosophy behind her creation.

I am so inspired by the food of the underlying philosophy of the restaurant, I hope to make a pilgrimage of sorts next time I’m in the Bay Area of California where it is located.  It’s no doubt a favorite destination of raw vegan pop star Jason Mraz – he mentions it in his song “Make It Mine” (from the album We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things) and used a reference to the restaurant as the title for his recent tour.   Like Jason Mraz, I am grateful for many things, and among them are these two books.


Sample Recipes:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

reflections on raw and white teeth

Raw foodism isn't always just about raw foods, oddly enough. Folks willing to adopt one alternative paradigm are often willing to consider other alternative paradigms. One topic I'd noticed coming up in blogs and discussion forums was the idea that conventional mass-produced toothpaste wasn't all that good for you. People were critiquing flouride as both inefficient at doing what it was supposed to do (fight cavities) and downright harmful. They also mentioned that the glycerin in toothpaste (which even the natural brands contain) created a barrier that prevented re-enamelization. I'd never heard of the idea that teeth might be able to re-enamel themselves before.

Alternatives people mentioned included some I didn't try (like oil pulling) and some I did (brushing with tooth soap, brushing with coconut oil followed by charcoal). I did find that my teeth felt really clean using these options, but there was a significant downside no one had mentioned: I have no idea if my teeth would have ever begun the process of re-enamelization, but I did notice that without the glycerin barrier there was nothing to keep my green juices and green smoothies from staining my teeth. The resulting stains were worse than coffee had ever been and I was beginning to look like Austin Powers.

I'm guessing that a lot of the folks who are using tooth soap are relatively young. My teeth didn't stain as quickly when I was younger. All I know is that I couldn't take it anymore. I started resorting to over the counter whiteners, including Lysterine Quick Dissolve Whitening Strips and the Rembrandt 2 hour Whitening Kit. Nothing was dissolving those Austin Powers stains. Finally I tried Crest Vivid White and Vivid White Night toothpaste. Something about the grittiness of the toothpaste along with the bleaching agents managed to get the last of those stains off. Now I'm using a combination of all three: Lysterine Dissolving Strips on the road, periodic bleaching with the Rembrandt kit and daily brushing with both the Vivid Whites.

My fellow raw foodies, so passionate about all things natural, are probably horrified by the level of chemicals I'm putting in my mouth, but for now it's working for me. And you won't cringe when I smile.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sheer Terror

I just spent almost $500 on a blender:

  • Vitamix 5200 Blender: $449
  • Los Angeles Tax: $4.74
  • California Tax: $33.18
  • For a grand total of: 492.85

Oh lordy. Now, mind you:

  • I'm a lifelong Vitamix fan
  • My last Vitamix (a 3600+) lasted for 20 years (and was used when I got it -- these are seriously well-built machines)
  • I use the Vitamix at least once a day, so I really do need a serious blender
  • I got free shipping
  • If I change my mind, the new machine has a 30 day return policy, including free return shipping
  • The standard warranty is 7 years
  • My deal included an additional year on the warranty, making it 8 years

Nonetheless, I'm feeling some panic about the whole situation -- $500 is a lot to spend on a small appliance. We used what we call our "fun money" -- the extra income that comes in through ad revenues, mostly on my husband's sites. And, to alleviate my guilt, I told him to count it as my mother's day and anniversary present. Still, it's a lot of money.

Needless to say, I'll be posting here to let you know if I love the new machine as much as I did the old one.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tragedy Has Struck

I've had my Vitamix for about 20 years. It was used when I got it. I was a struggling college student, but somehow I managed to scrape together $150 to buy one used from the Recycler.

At the time, I was vegetarian, but not raw. I'd make fruit smoothies in the Vitamix, pouring them into thick, recycled glass tumblers we got on a trip to Mexico, and drink them while I stood on the second floor balcony of our apartment in Long Beach, looking out at the palm trees that dotted the cold, morning skyline.

I have fond memories of grinding wheat berries into flour using the Vitamix, kneading it right in the canister, then baking a thick, brown bread that I spread with real butter.

I thought that Vitamix, with its gorgeous stainless steel construction, would live forever.

Two days ago, the agitator assembly broke in two. My husband took a photo of the part and sent it to his machinist brother in Alabama. This was his response:

Hey y'all,
I could make a new shaft but the internal splines require a special cutter that would cost thousands. No joke. You make the investment to make 10,000 parts for the production line. I would be glad to try and weld back together and rebalance it. Nothing to lose, all that will happen is it will vibrate too much to use if I don't get it just right. The vibration could be useful at other times away from food prep.

I doubt my Vitamix could take more vibration than it already has. We could buy a replacement part from the manufacturer, but with tax and shipping it would come to $101.55. We've haunted ebay but used replacement parts are going for at least $50 with shipping -- if you're lucky.

So I've been left with the painful decision: do I pay $50-$100 to fix it and stay with my first love? Or do I sell my first love for parts and fork out $449 for a more powerful but not as pretty Vitamix 5200?

Beauty or Brains? Age or Youthful Spunk? (Until the cost of replacing or fixing my Vitamix entered my financial horizon, the Spirooli was next on my list of raw accessories to acquire. Now that's been pushed down the list -- unless I'm lucky enough to win Gena's contest at

Part of me wonders if I didn't break the 3600's heart. A few months ago, despite her faithful service for 20 years, when Yardsnacker and Hihorosie had a contest for a new 5200, I entered this video:

So wooed was I by the promise of the 5200's reputed 2hp motor, I found myself disparaging the 3600's ability to make nut milk on camera. Maybe that agitator assembly coming apart was really just the Vitamix's heart breaking in two.

Like any break-up, there are two sides to the story and maybe no one is completely blameless. Maybe we will work it out or maybe it is just time for us to go our separate ways. Either way, you will always be my first appliance love.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review: 12 Steps to Raw Foods by Victoria Boutenko

book coverWhile an entirely raw foods diet may not be for everyone, there is little disagreement even amongst omnivores that increasing the proportion of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet is something that can benefit any of us (for example, see Michael Pollan's Ominvore's Dilemma or In Defense of Food).  But is cooked food an addiction?  This is author Victoria Boutenko's contention, and while you may or may not agree with this premise, her use of a "12 Step" inspired model does provide a some useful approaches for those who are trying to eliminate or decrease their consumption of cooked foods and increase their consumption of whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Pair this with the some basic, approachable raw foods recipes and it is a book that could benefit everyone, even those who would not remotely consider themselves "raw fooders."  

Some of the steps that will benefit even those who hope to just eat healthier without necessarily giving up all cooked food include:

  • Nourishing Your Body to Eliminate Cravings
  • Acquiring Skills and Equipment
  • Avoiding Temptation
  • Gratitude and Forgiveness
  • Embracing Other Healthy Habits
  • Searching for One's Spiritual Mission
  • Giving Support to Others

 12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Foods (North Atlantic Books)  is a significant revision and expansion of the earlier edition.  So much so, that even if you already have the first edition (from Raw Family Publishing), you will still want to purchase a copy of the new edition.  For those familiar with Boutenko's works, this book contains material that will be familiar -- Part 1 contains some of the same information found in Raw Family and Green for Life in condensed form -- but there is also new information such as chapter four's review of scientific studies that support Boutenko's contention that cooked food is damaging to the human body.   For those new to Boutenko, this is a great introduction to her ideas, methods and life experiences, the latter of which includes the inspiring account of how she healed her families illnesses through healthful eating and exercise.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How to Stay on the Wagon When You're Under the Weather. Or Not.

If you read the last post, you'll know I caught a nasty cold last week. I've never had the strongest immune system and there was a period a year or so ago (before I went raw) where it seemed like I was catching a cold every month or so. I'm still waiting for my body to fully detox and rejuvenate from all this healthy living, bolstering up my immune system, but then I've only been at the raw thing since January 1st.

Having a cold, with its attendant sniffles, sneezing and seething nasal passages, has brought with it its own raw challenges and temptations. I craved comfort food, which meant that when I went out to eat after my daughter's egg hunt (I just couldn't stay inside and miss her egg hunt -- after all, how many will she have in her life?), I wanted hot food so I ordered corn tortillas, beans and rice along with a cup of hot herbal tea. The next day, I really wanted salted, roasted peanuts, so I indulged. Neither instance is a horrible digression: I didn't eat fried food or processed sugar or dairy products, but cooked food makes you crave cooked food so I've had to be extra diligent since then not to give in.

Harsher on my system perhaps was my indulgence in Nyquil two nights in a row. It got me through the worst of the cold symptoms, but the following night my body was thrown off and I couldn't sleep at all.

If anyone has any suggestions for what you do when you're sick and want old comforts like hot food and over-the-counter medicine, do let me know. I'd like to be armed and ready next time. Heck, I'm still not feeling great, so I may just implement them now!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tending Mind, Body and Spirit in the City of Sin

Awash in neon lights, topless reviews and casinos, you might think Las Vegas an odd destination for someone in search of rejuvenation, but you’d be wrong.  Its decadence extends not just to more prurient pursuits but to its lavish spas.  

Midweek hotel rates are remarkably inexpensive, and we landed a nearly 800 square foot suite at the Luxor for only $125 a night (regular rooms are only $60 a night). The Luxor, mind you, is old by strip standards, having been open since 1993, so you’ll find nicks in your coffee table and hallway carpets that have seen better days.  But what our suite lacked for in pristine newness it more than made up for with its spaciousness and the Jacuzzi tub positioned right next to the angled window of our pyramid room.  The Luxor also benefits from being a walkway away from the lower end Excalibur hotel and the higher end Mandalay Bay/THEhotel complex, providing dining and entertainment options at all ends of the spectrum.  Our deal also included a $25 spa credit and a $20 meal credit.   


Luxor Hotel Pyramid Spa Suite

If you’re looking for something less spacious but more ritzy at around the same price, you can get a smaller 500 square foot room at the Four Seasons hotel (located on the top floor of Mandalay Bay).   While your room will be smaller, you’ll be treated to poolside service that includes hovering “attendants nearby with an Evian spritz, fresh fruit, and chilled water.”  As a gaming-free hotel, it’s ideal for families and those of us who don’t like to gamble.  Plus, by staying at the Four Seasons, you’ll also have access to Mandalay Bay’s pool complex which includes wave pools and lazy rivers.

On previous trips I’d experienced the spas at Mandalay Bay, THEhotel, Luxor, and Red Rock, so this time I wanted to try something different.  On our first day, my husband dropped me off at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian/Palazzo hotel (he took my daughter for a visit to Circus Circus while I luxuriated).  I was lured by online descriptions of Canyon Ranch, which listed the following features:


  • Conservatory - Intimate seating, music, fresh fruit and hot and cold beverages. A gracious gathering space for relaxation
  • Salt Grotto - Bracing sea air washes over heated benches and intimate seating niches surrounding a fountain bubbling over natural salt rocks
  • Wave Room - A multi-sensory experience simulating the look, smell and feel of breaking waves under a domed canopy
  • Crystal Steam Room - Cleansing aromatic steam environment with a large central crystal to inspire and focus meditation
  • Experiential Rains - Invigorating, multi-sensory cooling showers. Select Polar Mist, Atlantic Storm or Caribbean Monsoon (with thunder and lightning effects.)
  • Finnish Sauna - A classic Finnish dry-heat sauna environment lit by colored light refracted by crystals
  • Herbal Laconium - A beautiful environment provides gentle warming of the body through warm, herbal infused steam
  • HydroSpa - A variety of massage fountains provide gentle massage. Radiant lounge chairs designed for relaxation surround the fountains
  • Igloo - Cool air and three Arctic mist experiences enhanced by twinkling fiber optics
A spa day pass, without any services, cost me $40.   There was plenty to keep me occupied and soothed for my five hour visit, but I must admit that several of the features didn’t live up to what I’d imagined them to be based on their descriptions.  The HydroSpa was nothing more than an average Jacuzzi,  I didn’t feel any “bracing sea breezes” in the Salt Grotto, and I certainly didn’t smell any herbal infusions in the steam of the Herbal Laconium.  One feature was, at first, the most disappointing, but then oddly won me over.  I’d imagined the Wave Room to have an actual wave pool, but in actuality it was a dark indoor room with waves projected onto the ceiling while (mostly) soothing music played.   I sat in comfy reclining chairs while looking upward and soon found myself fully immersed in the experience.  In all, I went back to the Wave Room three times that day.  I only left when the musical tracks cycled around each time to a song that sounded like a symphony of lawnmowers conducted by a barking Chihuahua.  Not soothing.  In all, the gimmicky Canyon Ranch SpaClub felt a bit like an amusement park for stressed out adults – definitely worth experiencing once, but next time I’ll return to my favorite, the Mandalay Bay Spa where I feel like a noble luxuriating in an ancient Roman bathhouse (or at least what I imagine that might have been like).  


Spa Mandalay


On my second day in Vegas, I’d scheduled an appointment for a Coconut Sugar Scrub at the Luxor’s Nurture Spa (formerly the Oasis Spa – it’s the same in every way except the name).   We had that $25 spa credit after all, and that would be applied to their already discounted price for the 50 minute service, $80.00.  Even without the credit, it was much less than what it would cost for a similar service at Canyon Ranch or Mandalay Bay.   I arrived a bit early to enjoy Nurture’s Jacuzzi and steam room (which unlike the Herbal Laconium, did have a strong eucalyptus scent), but without a cold plunge or “Polar Mist” to cool me down, there wasn’t a great likelihood I’d be able to kill 5 hours there.   At my appointed time, I was escorted to a separate waiting area where my therapist would retrieve me.  Fifteen minutes passed, then 30 before I ventured out to inquire.  Another ten minutes passed before I was informed by the spa manager that my therapist had disappeared without telling anyone.  Eager to make amends, she offered me the same service the next morning for 50% off – with my $25 credit, that would bring my service down to $15 plus tip.   I thanked the manager, silently adding thanks to my therapist for being a flake, and returned the next morning for more soaking, steaming and the long awaited coconut scrub before our drive home.  

On the way into and out of town, we stopped by the vegan and mostly raw Go Raw Café, located in a strip mall a few miles from the strip.   Each time, I ate a meal there and took one with me to eat later, sampling their Enchilada plate, Mediterranean Pizza, Vegi-cotti, and Kookies and Kream smoothie (which featured raw cacao nibs in a banana/coconut blend).   Of these meals, the Mediterranean Pizza was the only one I wasn’t thrilled with – it was good, but would more accurately be described as salad on a cracker.  The Enchilada plate, which I ordered twice, was by far my favorite, consisting of "soft tortilla enchiladas topped with salsa, sour dream, guacamole, & spicy red sauce.  Served with yam rice, ‘beans,’ guacamole, & flax crackers." If I had a restaurant like this one near me, I’d be in heaven.  This place would draw me back to Vegas even without the spas.

Upon returning to Pomona, I found that somewhere amidst all that public soaking, steaming and healthy living, I had picked up a rather nasty cold.   Turns out what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas after all, so spa with caution.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Review: There is a Cure for Diabetes

book coverGabriel Cousens’ book There is a Cure for Diabetes: The Tree of Life 21-Day+ Program is a comprehensive guide – not to living with diabetes but for learning how to live without it.  It is, as the author explains, about embracing a culture of life rather than a culture of death.  In reading this book, do not expect an approach of moderate changes to your lifestyle – adding this, or subtracting that – this is about total physical and spiritual transformation.  Are you ready?

The first half of the book looks at the medical science of diabetes to establish the basis for the Tree of Life 21 Day protocol.  It is rich in information to help you understand the why and how of this method.  This scientific grounding will no doubt also assist you later when you need justify to the world around you why you are taking such a radical approach, eliminating most, if not all, cooked foods and thereby seizing control of your own wellbeing.  The second half of the book shows you how to do it.

If you are skeptical that this method works, I urge you to watch the movie Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days.  The movie takes place at the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona and follows six individuals with type one and type two diabetes under Dr. Cousens’ care.  By the end of 30 days, all who stuck with the program have either eliminated medications and insulin use completely or dramatically reduced them.  This book is a further refinement of the treatment these individuals underwent, enabling you to take charge of your health at home.

The program itself can be daunting to tackle on your own without the support of the Tree of Life’s medical and culinary staff, but if you begin by implementing even a few of the changes recommended (some of the easiest are on pages 285-288), you will see such a dramatic improvement it will no doubt inspire you to begin the journey, which as all journeys do, begins with the first step.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Life by the numbers

It's amazing how much my perception of myself has to do with external factors -- a lesson driven home in the last week by the failure of technology.

The first thing to go wacky was my scale: remember how I said I'd lost 20 pounds? Well I'm not sure I have: in the course of one day last week the scale was reading anywhere from 122 to 135. That's when I realized my scale was broken, or maybe it was just a manifestation of cosmic consciousness with a wicked sense of humor. So how much do I weigh? I have no idea. I do know I've lost lots of weight since becoming raw but I have no idea how much, because if the recent numbers are wrong, who's to say my starting numbers weren't in error too?

The next thing to go berserk was my glucose monitor. This morning my reading seemed oddly high: my fasting blood sugar was 109 -- which seemed off since I've been soundly in the 74-85 range for quite a while. So I immediately retested, twice, and the readings came out 187 and 117. What the?

That's when I realized that I have been letting these numbers determine my perception of myself without paying enough attention to how I actually feel. If I examine myself more closely, I know that since going raw I feel so much better: lighter (physically and mentally) and clearer, and that I haven't had a single hypoglycemic episode since I began. I also realized that given how happy I was when the scale numbers seemed down, I do really want to release more weight -- something I think I was afraid to admit to myself because some part of me felt it wasn't possible after being heavier than my college weight for so long. Somewhere within I was afraid I was setting myself up for disappointment. So I come away from this with a determination to become more aware of what I am experiencing physically and emotionally rather than waiting for external numbers to determine that for me, to be more honest with myself, and to not put any limitations on what I can achieve.


On another note, my husband just bought me my own juicer. It's not something I would have ever thought to buy right now given we're trying to save money on my reduced sabbatical income, but bless him, he saw how much I was juicing and how I was having trouble juicing leafy greens in the borrowed centrifugal juicer, so when he got in some ad revenue on one of his sites, he offered to buy me one. I got the Omega 8003, and it's utterly wonderful.

Not only does it do leafy greens, it's even easier to clean than the centrifugal juicer! Even more amazing, yesterday I discovered that I can put frozen bananas in it with a blank plate and get out an ice cream that is to die for out the other end. It's so much better than making ice cream in my ancient Vitamix: instead of coming out like melty ice cream, it stays frozen and has the consistency of premium gelato: dense and smooth. Even if I should grow to hate juice (unfathomable), this was worth the price alone. Thanks so much honey!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Take a Load Off

While I didn't adopt a raw regimen to lose weight, that I have has definitely been a bonus. When I began at the first of the year, I weighed 148 lbs. at 5' 7 1/2" tall. I wasn't thrilled with this weight, but it was a marked improvement over my high point of 160. That was before my pregnancy. By now you're tired of me blaming the tenure process for everything, but the stress of that (and the bowl of candy bars on the department secretary's desk) really threw my eating out of whack. Mid- to late thirties metabolism wasn't my friend either. At the end of my pregnancy (and the midwife mandated low glycemic diet that went with it), I was at 140, but in the three years since I'd inched up 8 more pounds.

During the first month of being raw, I lost ten pounds. Then in February my weight loss slowed down and I think I only lost a few pounds, down to about 135. I was thinking, well maybe 135 is it, but this morning I weighed myself and I was 128! That's 20 lbs. since becoming raw! There are several things that have changed in my regimen recently that might account for it: I borrowed a friend's juicer and have been juicing. My tastes are also becoming a little simpler -- I'm still preparing some fancy dehydrated dishes, but I'm craving them less and eating more salads, smoothies and juices. Thank goodness it's also had an effect on our grocery bill: In January our food costs leapt up considerably (dining out went down but groceries went sky high -- I think it was all the superfoods I was indulging in). In February, costs went down to normal levels -- groceries are still a bit higher, but dining out is lower.

128 lbs. is what I call "graduate school weight." The amazing thing is that while I was in graduate school (also a stressful experience though nothing like tenure), it took diet pills to keep it there. If I lose a few more lbs. I'll be at college weight -- you know, that blissful time in your late teens and early twenties when it takes no effort at all to be naturally thin. The difference now is that I'll actually be healthy and thin! I don't think I've ever been that!

Still, as much as I've wanted to lose weight over the years, I've never been able to do it without diet pills except in two cases: when I was pregnant (and my baby's health depended on it) and now. Which brings me to something Karen Knowler says in her Free 7 day "So You Want to Go Raw" e-course: To successfully go raw and stay raw, "You need a big enough why." She says "Going raw, I have found, is about something much deeper, ultimately, than simply choosing to eat more healthily (a mind thing). If you really want to get the juice from the experience you need to enquire within your heart and soul to find out what will take you there and keep you there."

For me, the releasing of all this weight seems like an unexpected gift: an outward sign of changes to the essential vitality of my body and soul. I don't think I would have been able to make the transition to this healthier way of life without that big why, which for me was the specter of my mother's failing health. I saw her lack of health as my own future in material form before me. Her diabetes is essentially a mirror of what my pre-diabetes can become if I don't do something. Anytime I've faltered in my commitment, her picture appears before my mind's eye. And yet, while I can tell you that it took the big why to get me there, in truth, the journey hasn't been that difficult, and it gets more joyous everyday: food tastes better, my head feels clearer, my heart feels freer.

The "big why" as Karen calls it may have begun with my mother, but my why is becoming bigger everyday: now it is not only a way to escape a fate that seems to me worse than death but a journey toward something so much greater. It's a journey toward life's potential.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sunday Morning

My chrome and glass french press pot, brought out of storage for guests who'd brought their own grounds, sat gleaming on the table, catching the light. There was a Sunday Times folded haphazardly on the corner. I'd made pancakes for C & D even though I wouldn't be eating any. The kids played boisterously in the other room, but the kitchen nook where we sat still seemed quiet, radiating soft sunshine through the shades that illuminated the green room with warmth and ease.

Warmth and ease wasn't something we'd been used to. C & I were on sabbatical. For six and a half years we had been struggling with the tenure process and it had worn us down. Of the four of us in our cohort, C had gotten Lupus, I had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, and another had gotten divorced. Those were the big signposts -- there were other more minor symptoms, from sleeplessness to recurrent colds. In some ways that isn't anything about tenure, but about life in your 30s and 40s. In other ways, while the whole process of tenure couldn't be called a cause of any of these things, the stress it put on our bodies and souls certainly didn't help.

C and I have chatted before about how most people don't understand what it means to be a faculty member. It's one of those jobs that invades every area of your life. Teaching, Research, Service -- get it done, do more of it, or lose your job and your reputation at the end of six years. I'm certain there are more stressful jobs, but the difference I think is that from the outside it seems so peachy: most people think we wander onto campus a few days out of the week, babble on to our classes, and go home.

So this sabbatical is more than about having the time to do projects put on hold for six years, it is about having the time to refresh our bodies and souls from the inside out. For me, that means cleansing with whole, raw vegan foods. It means juicing with the juicer C&D brought me that weekend. It means being creative again -- returning to a side of my professional life that I'd all but forgotten. It means, just maybe, feeling the light and ease return.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

DVD Review: Simply Raw, Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days

Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 DaysSimply Raw begins with a quote:

“Diabetes is a chronic disease that has no cure.”  -- American Diabetes Association

This is a dismal statement, and one consistent with the kind of information most diabetics and pre-diabetics (including myself) are given by their doctors.  But is it true?  The people at Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona have set out to disprove that claim.   The film tells the story of six individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who go to Tree of Life to find out if these medical rebels are right and their own doctors are wrong. 

I’ll get to their stories, but I’ll begin by telling you my own: When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had gestational diabetes.  With a controlled diet, I was able to keep it in check but the diet was difficult.  My sweet indulgence during those months? Half a grapefruit.  Really.  This wasn’t easy for someone who was known to order dessert before or even instead of the entrée.  Still, I did it.  My daughter was worth it.  After the pregnancy, the condition ceased, but about a year later I found myself experiencing frequent hypoglycemic spells:  I’d break out into a sweat, get shaky, have to sit down and immediately eat something.  I went to my doctor, and after sending me to get a glucose tolerance test she determined I was pre-diabetic.  She referred me to an endocrinologist who informed me that once you are pre-diabetic you could postpone the onset of diabetes with diet and exercise but you could not avoid it entirely.  

My mother had gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with me, and she developed diabetes later in life.  She did not control it at all and she eventually suffered a stroke.  That was the first of innumerable other problems: difficulty walking (sometimes she managed with a cane, other times she needed us to carry her), balance issues (how many times did I pick her off the floor?), incontinence, dry skin, mental changes,  etc. etc. etc.  I took one look at my mother and knew that could not be me. It was time to decide if I was worth it.

I began exercising and restricting my sugar.  I also went to a homeopathist.  Between the two, within months my blood was coming back normal on the A1C test (which tests your glucose control over 3 months).  Nonetheless, I was still experiencing periodic hypoglycemic spells.  The specter of the doctor’s statement “Diabetes is inevitable” rang through my consciousness.  

At some point I stumbled across the trailer for the movie, Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes for 30 days.  It was inspiring enough for me to try introducing raw foods into my life.  For several weeks I ate two meals a day raw and one meal each day of my regular ovo-lacto vegetarian diet.  Then I caught the stomach flu from my daughter.  You might be familiar with the phenomenon where you can’t look at whatever you were eating immediately prior to vomiting, no matter what the actual cause.  Bye-bye raw foods.  But those hypoglycemic spells continued.  About six months later I decided to try again.  I got more serious. This time I went mostly raw with the occasional cooked vegan meal but with no processed sugar or fried food.  A month and a half later I noticed I hadn’t had a single hypoglycemic episode since I began.  And this while eating fabulous raw vegan desserts regularly!  The changes I’m experiencing are so dramatic I’ve since decided to eliminate even the occasional cooked vegan meal.  Living, and eating, this way feels too good and tastes too good.

All this life change began because I watched a single 5 minute trailer!  It was clearly time I saw the whole movie, but I hesitated buying it only because I was now on sabbatical and making 75% of my normal income.  As fate would have it, the film company offered review copies to those with websites.    

Upon watching the full-length film, I was moved almost to tears by the stories of the six individuals documented.  All of them were experiencing significant health problems due to diabetes, much more severe than my own.  Four had Type 2, two had Type 1.  Some were young and some were old.  They came from all walks of life.  They arrived at the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center hoping, like me, that their doctors were wrong.  Diabetes doesn’t have to be forever.

Here I have to pause to give credit to the filmmakers.  While the film does have an agenda – to convince the viewer of the health benefits of the raw diet, especially for diabetics – they are remarkably unbiased in their depictions of the patients’ reactions.   At their first meal, one patient says of the food,  “This is different. You could get used to it.  If you grew up eating it you could like it.”  Not a ringing endorsement for what are billed as “gourmet raw vegan meals”!  One man doesn’t make it through the entire month because of the food, even though he experiences dramatic changes after just two and a half weeks. When he arrived at Tree of Life his blood sugar was at 450 on medications, and on the day he left it was at 200 without them. His blood pressure was normal, he’d lost 30 pounds, and he went from taking 17 medications a day to none at all.  But he couldn’t stomach the food:  “My brain don’t want the food,” he told them, “It just rejects it. Literally. I look at it and I just want to scream.”  When the day is done, this is simply a good documentary, whether you are diabetic or not, whether you are interested in eating raw or not.  The story is simply compelling and the production values are high.  This is a PBS-worthy film.

In fact, the film is so unbiased, on one level it may hurt its own agenda: the food seems so unappealing in the eyes of most of the participants, unless your motivation to cure yourself of diabetes is high, you might watch this and abandon all hope.   I am almost certain that when I show this movie to my mother she will say “You have willpower and can do this.  I can’t.” I hope I’m wrong, and this is too important not to show her so I will.  In fact, this film is too important not to show everyone who is diabetic, pre-diabetic, or genetically pre-disposed to diabetes, and to the doctors who treat them.  

The doctor who told me “Diabetes is inevitable” sprang back into my memory as I watched the young man in the film who used his own doctors’ words as an excuse not to believe in the regimen and sabotage himself.  He repeats over and over to anyone who will listen that every doctor he has ever had has told him he will be on insulin the rest of his life. Yet despite a mid-retreat unauthorized field trip across the border to Mexico where he gorged on enchiladas and alcohol, by the end of the film he had gone from injecting 70 units of insulin a day to just 5.  The other type 1 diabetic is off insulin and medication entirely.  Doctors think they are doing a service by letting us know the “reality” of our chronic conditions, but what they are doing is planting the seeds of disaster.  As the movie tells us, it was Hippocrates who said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  We can heal ourselves, but first we have to undo the power of disbelief planted within in us by the very doctors who we went to for advice.  We have to undo the damage done to us by lifetimes of eating S.A.D (Standard American Diet).  We have to be willing to take that first step toward wholeness.

In the months since I first learned about raw foods, I’ve read so many personal testimonies about how becoming raw has changed people’s health in innumerable ways, curing all sorts of supposedly irreversible or chronic conditions.  I hope there will be other films that document their stories.

Purchase Simply Raw from the Filmmakers

Purchase Simply Raw from

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Random Updates

  • And the winner is... the only person who entered! Despite the fact that I had 115 unique visitors during the week the contest was open, only Franz wanted those Chili's vouchers so he shall have them. Congrats Franz and send me your mailing addy.

  • I did get a cool, supportive comment on that entry from Tonya Kay, she of Stomp and Who Wants to Be a Superhero fame, who was featured in the YouTube clip I posted. Thanks Tonya! You're my superhero!

  • A couple of other bloggers, HiHoRosie and LouLou, were nice enough to post comments too, but declined the invitation to enter the contest. I've got to get some raw-friendly prizes so that other folks who are reading will at least say "hi" -- I won't bite, I promise (I do get plenty of food on this regimen)!

  • I was written up in another Pomona blog this week, Goddess of Pomona. Thanks goddess! GoP is one of my key sources for Pomona-centric info -- I get even more info there than by talking to my neighbors (don't worry, I do actually talk to my neighbors too).

  • My biggest honor? I was stunned to make the "Top 50 Raw Food and Lifestyle Blogs" list on! Pretty neat -- and amazing I got noticed considering how new I am at this. Thanks Kelly Sonora!

  • A highlight in the last week was attending a raw cooking class taught by Elaina Love of Pure Joy Planet and Chaya Ryvka of Cafe Gratitude. I volunteered, so I worked hard but ate a fabulous meal in exchange and learned a lot. The entire meal, truly, was to die for -- as good or better than any cooked meal I've ever had. I won't write much more about it, because blogger Debbie Does Raw, who was also volunteering, was documenting it in photos and video and will no doubt do a much better job than I in her blog (UPDATE: here's her post - complete with videos!). Debbie was chatty and fun, full of helpful tips and encouragement. I connected with her right away because we both entered the vitamix contest, had daughters later in life, married younger men, and turned to raw food for health reasons. Here's how part of the conversation went (paraphrased, of course, to the best of my recollection):

    DDR: Does your family do raw too?
    Me: No, my husband is younger than me so he still thinks he's immortal
    DDR: Mine too! 6 years younger.
    Me: So is mine!
    DDR: So we need to stay raw to stay young and keep up!
    Me: Oh, mine is going grey early, so that's good.
    DDR: Mine is going bald!

  • One last update: I did a massive overhaul and relaunch of my other site, Spiritualitea has been around since 1998. Along with my deepening interests in health, I've expanded the focus of the site to include alternative health as well as spirituality. If you share any of these interests, do join our community -- it's free! If you're interested in writing for the site (including getting free copies of books to review), read more details on how to submit here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm Ready to Do This! (and a Contest for your Cooked Friends)

If you've been reading this blog you'll know that I'm mostly but not completely raw. At the very beginning of the journey in January I was eating some cooked vegan meals at home. I progressed to trying to eat raw at home but eating cooked vegan meals when I went out. I did the latter because I didn't want to have to stop eating out since that is such a social event, but I also didn't want to order an expensive salad without all the added stuff (chip strips, candied nuts, MEAT - eew, cheese, etc.) and end up with a $15 pile of iceberg. Then I saw this video with raw dancer Tonya Kay:

The key part starts at about minute 4:22 (though the rest of it is great too, including info on how to handle visits with extended family). She says that when she goes out to a restaurant she asks them to make her a salad out of every raw vegetable they have in her kitchen and she has never been disappointed. So, while out at Chili's, I asked for just that and had them toss it in a dressing I knew was vegan (I looked it up before I went; I'm not at the point yet where I am concerned if the dressing is raw, though who knows maybe that's the next step). Sure enough, out came a lovely, LARGE, salad that was tasty and satisfying and they only charged me $6.50 -- cheaper than any entree on the menu! That's when I thought: I can do this, I can be 100% raw.

O.k., I'll pause now to say that my current personal definition of 100% raw is not the raw community standard definition of 100%: as I said, I'll have a non-raw dressing when going out, not all my spices and seasonings at home are raw, and I'm still figuring out which nuts are truly raw (or that I'm willing to order at steep prices online to be sure they are raw). What I mean is no more cooked meals, no more cooked snacks.

In the latter area, salted roasted peanuts have been my downfall. Here I finally asked my husband to either not buy them or hide them from me. Problem solved. But so far that's been my only real remaining craving. I'm loving all the raw foods I eat and now I can eat out with friends too, even at a chain restaurant where even all the salads on the menu are loaded with meat and extraneous stuff!

Now the reason we went to Chili's is that I was selected for a BzzAgent campaign and recieved coupons for free Guiltless Grill entrees (not buy 1 get 1 free, just free). My salad, which was the most guiltless by far, wasn't covered by the coupon but as I said, it was cheap. Still, I was able to treat my husband and friends with the coupons. If you want to try it, I'm giving away two remaining coupons to one person. Chances are most folks reading this are raw, but with the coupons you'll be able to take your cooked companions out to eat and feed them something that at least isn't as bad as the rest of the stuff on Chili's menu, and you'll be able to try my new strategy.

To enter, just say hi in the comments and let me know how you found me. Make sure you leave your email so I can reach you! I'll close the contest and announce the winner (drawn randomly) in a week.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

I'm so honored that HiHoRosie nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thanks so much HiHoRosie -- It was just the encouragement I needed!

Here are the rules:

  • I share with you seven things that I love
  • I nominate seven other bloggers for the honor

What fun! Here are the first seven things that come to mind:

  • My 3 1/2 year old daughter Jezebel -- That goes without saying. She asked me this morning, "Mommy, are you family?" Yes, dear girl, forever yes.
  • My husband -- This also goes without saying, but I should say it far more.
  • My friends -- You know who you are and my life wouldn't be the same without you.
  • This raw life -- How can I not love the thing that is healing me from the inside out and makes me feel so darn fabulous?
  • Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days -- I just got a review copy of this movie and will be posting a full review later but suffice to say it is inspiring and life-changing.
  • Raw Family: A True Story of Awakening by Victoria Boutenko -- Just re-read it for the second time.
  • My sabbatical -- It only comes once every 7 years; how I wish it were more!

Now the nominees:

  • SporksForAll - not raw, never will be, but a fabulous writer (and check out her newest entry about being attacked by one of my flax crackers)
  • Teresa - ditto (except she was spared the wrath of flax)
  • Persistent Gaze - a never say never girl, also a fabulous writer
  • Raising Alex - a great journal about raising a raw child; inspiring
  • Pure Jeevan - an amazing journal with profiles people who have experienced inspiring raw healing and transformation
  • Raw Vegan Foodie - she posts recipes and reviews of raw foods that make my mouth water
  • Raw Food Passion - More beautiful food that inspires me and makes me hungry

Don't know if any of them will take me up on this meme but either way give them a visit -- you won't be sorry!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another Sleepless Night

I woke up around 3 am when my daughter cried and haven't been able to go back to sleep. Bear with me if my train of thought is a little choppy.

We hung out with friends today and when my husband ordered pizza, I was pretty proud of myself that I didn't even allow myself to be tempted. I immediately hopped over to the kitchen and made myself raw tacos: collard green "shells" filled with raw vegan sour cream (actually a plain nut cheese cultured with probiotic powder -- the thickness helps to keep the taco from being too messy), taco filling from Matt Amsden's Rawvolution book, homemade salsa, guacamole, cucumber slices and hot sauce (not raw).

I haven't always been pleased with the results of recipes from Amsden's book, but this simple recipe for taco filling is really satisfying and super easy/quick to make. I think this will be a staple when I go back to work. That being said, it is heavily nut-based, so I am looking forward to possibly taking this raw foods class where one of the recipes is a taco filling described this way: "keeping with her low to no nut agenda, Elaina will demonstrate how to take root vegetables & turn them into the most flavorful, juicy, mouthwatering taco filling that can be eaten in a taco, on your salad, in your Enchilada Spirals or dehydrated into crunchy snacks or burgers." It's taught by Elaina Love and Chaya Ryvka. I've volunteered to be an assistant in exchange for tuition -- I hope they take me!

Friday, February 6, 2009

And the winner is...

Not me! But I have to say, they picked the right video: the video showed a lot of creativity and the contestant is living a life of service. Check it out below:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Take That Fried Food Cravings!

Yesterday I tried this recipe with a few mods: I halved the garlic, added a teaspoon of garam masala, a pinch of sea salt and a dash of Spike seasoning. Instead of the vegetables listed, I used what I had, cauliflower and green beans. The result? Fa-bu-lous! It was good straight, but extra yummy with a dipping sauce of apple cider vinegar, nama shoyu and La-yu (a chili pepper infused sesame oil). It not only tasted like tempura, it didn't lose its crunch after it sat around a while (unlike the real thing). It completely satisfied any craving I had for fried food. I think with a bit more garam masala or other spices, it'd replicate pakoras pretty well too (I have to investigate what spices are in pakora batter). Anyway, here's a pic:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Days Twenty-Seven, Eight, Nine, Thirty, and into Thirty-One: One Month Raw

What a nice way to end my first month being raw: I won the video Eating from blogger April of Raw Food Passion. According to April, "I love this video because it offers a lot of scientific information that supports the vegan diet. It often helps to start eating healthier when you have the knowledge to stand behind your cravings"(be sure to visit her fabulous blog for ideas, recipes, and inspiration). I can't wait to watch it! Thanks so much April!

Over the course of the first month, I lost somewhere between 8 and 10 lbs. Losing weight was not my primary reason for starting this regimen, but I'm thrilled nonetheless.

My husband said to me the other day, "It's hard to believe you're losing weight given how much of the day you spend thinking about food." He's right: I spend a lot of time reading about raw food (online and off), thinking about raw food, writing in this blog about raw food, shopping for raw food, and preparing raw food. But that's the nature of my passions, and it's what enables me to make a significant life change and get past the hump of habit and resistance. The passion probably won't last but hopefully by then I will have created new habits that support a healthier lifestyle.

That being said, at the one month mark I've found that I've been battling cravings. Victoria Boutenko says that if you eat cooked food at all, you leave the door open for cravings and make it that much harder on yourself. It's something to chew on (literally and figuratively). I love Victoria Boutenko's books. I just re-read Raw Family again last night and found myself re-inspired and committed.

Now that I've reached one month, I won't continue my daily eating log online -- by far the most time-consuming part of keeping this blog -- and will just blog to record my thoughts and progress in general. I may occasionally log a typical day, just not everyday.

Here's what I've been eating:

Day Twenty-Seven:
  • 9:15 pm: 2 slices of raw pizza
  • 11:40 pm: Salad (avocado, plum tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, sesame dressing), lemon sparkling water

Day Twenty-Eight:
  • 10:30 am: Green smoothie (1 homegrown orange w/pith, 1 bag organic spinach, 1 kale stalk, wheatgrass, juice of 1 homegrown lemon and tangerine, banana, 1 tbsp. hemp powder, 1 tsp. spirulina and maca, water)
  • 1 pm: 2/3 Leaf Cuisine Bedouin Burrito Wrap
  • 3:30: 3 raw autumn squash cookies
  • 5 pm: salted pumpkin seeds
  • 5:45 pm: Green smoothie (1 bag organic spinach, organic dandelion greens, 1 homegrown orange with pith, 2 apples, fresh ginger, water)
  • 10 pm: Kale chips, salted pumpkin seeds
  • 11 pm: organic pear

Day Twenty-Nine:
  • 10 am: Green smoothie (1 bag organic spinach, 3 organic kiwis, 1/2 banana, tsp. maca, tbsp. hemp, water)
  • 3:30 pm: 1/3 Leaf Cuisine Bedouin Burrito Wrap
  • 7 pm: Dinner with friends at The Danson/Espiau in Claremont (baked potato with salsa, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower; iceberg salad with tomatoes, cukes, and vinagrette; water)
  • 9 pm: Raw vegan Mango-Blueberry cheesecake with Macadamia/Brazil nut crust (this turned out good, but you really couldn't taste the Mango even though there were two juicy ones in there)
  • 11 pm: walnuts and raisins

Day Thirty:
  • 11 am: raw granola with 1/2 banana and almond milk
  • 2:30 pm: Lemon sparkling water and Eggplant Jerky (actually, called bacon in Matthew Kenney's Everyday Raw, but tasted more like jerky to me; this is another recipe by Kristen Reyes)
  • 3:15 pm: Raw vegan Mango-Blueberry cheesecake
  • 6 pm: Green Smoothie (almond milk, 1/2 bag organic spinach, 1/2 banana, organic apple, tsp. spirulina, tbsp. hemp, homegrown orange with pith, organic baby carrots, organic dandelion greens); couldn't finish all of this -- it was good but just too big -- and threw out about a third.

Day Thirty-One:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Days Twenty-Four, Five, Six, and Seven

Last night I woke up at 2:30 am and couldn't go back to sleep thereafter. I used to have this problem at least once a week when I was working and attributed it to stress. Considering I'm not at all stressed at the moment, it can't be that. It can't be caffeine either because I gave that up weeks ago. I don't know what to attribute it to.

The cooking experiments of the last few days have not gone well. I shouldn't be surprised: I tried to make patties of all the vegetables I had in the refrigerator that I hadn't used up: celery, parsnip, onion, zucchini, yellow bell pepper, broccoli florets, mushrooms, and almond pulp leftover from making milk, all seasoned indiscriminately with tahini, raw marinara, nama shoyu, and apple cider vinegar. I think it was that last ingredient that really pushed it over the edge into bleh. I'm going to stick to recipes for a while, at least as a foundation to tweak upon, and not just throw things into the food processor. I think I got overconfident with the fact that all veggies and fruits were tasting so good -- I thought I could just throw a bunch of them together and come up with something great.

I also decided to try two products that have been in the fridge a while: Living Tree Community Foods "Dream of Paradise - Organic Chocolate Ecstasy with Raw Cacao" and "Sweet and Kind - Organic Raw Pumpkin Seed and Sesame Butter."

A friend whose ex-partner works at Whole Foods gave them to me (she got them free). I didn't like them when I first tried them but I thought as my palate changed I might feel differently so I kept them. I really wanted to like these products, but I tried them again and bleh. For starters, the consistency wasn't at all what you'd expect of a spread: it didn't spread, it crumbled. Second, both of them had a strong, bitter taste. I think it might be the sesame that's in both of them -- ordinarily I love tahini, but the bitterness was just overwhelming. Sesame, cacao and lavender just don't go well together -- it was a bitter, flowery mess. It's a shame: I know these little jars go for about $9 a piece.

We've been raising our daughter vegetarian even though my husband is not. The other day, she wanted a bite of the mashed potatoes (which she calls cake -- we've never been able to fathom why) in his t.v dinner, but they were all mixed with the meat so I explained that she didn't want those because there were dead animals in there. Today, she saw Daddy carrying a t.v. dinner and immediately asked, "It has animals in the cake? I want to see animals."

What I've been eating:

Day Twenty-Four:
  • 11:30 am: raw granola, banana, almond milk
  • 2:15 pm: Salad (romaine, sesame dressing, pumpkin seeds, plum tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, broccoli) and lemon sparkling water
  • 4 pm: Larabar, apple pie flavor
  • 5 pm: banana and almond butter on raisin bread
  • 6:45 pm: Green smoothie (bag organic spinach, juice 3 homegrown tangerines, almond milk, 2 dates, pear, tsp. spirulina, cinnamon)

Day Twenty-Five:

Day Twenty-Six:

Day Twenty-Seven
  • 3 am: salted pumpkin seeds, homegrown tangerine
  • 9:30 am: Raw granola, 1/2 banana, almond milk
  • 4 pm: green smoothie (bag organic spinach, banana, juice 2 homegrown tangerines, wheatgrass)

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Vitamix Love Story: Contest Entry

Yard Snacker and HiHoRosie have a contest for a new Vitamix. My entry reveals all the torn, torrid feelings in a love triangle between myself, the 3600+ and the 5200:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Leaving Day Twenty-One, into Days Twenty-Two and Three

It's past midnight and I can't sleep tonight. Is it the maca I put in my smoothie this morning? Is it adrenaline leftover from performing this afternoon? Is it neither, or a combination of both? Who knows. All I know is that I can't sleep, so I may as well blog.

I'm definitely experiencing more energy of late -- tasks are getting done ahead of schedule, and my mood isn't high so much as it is clean and even, which I actually like better.

I am struggling with a couple of cravings today: Trader Joe's Dal Makahni and Garlic Naan, salted roasted peanuts. Both are vegan cravings, so I could give into them (and may) but I've been feeling so good when I eat raw I thought I'd try to keep raw except when I go out to eat. I'll try to muddle through the cravings for a couple days to see if they pass completely. So many other cravings for food I used to eat have been replaced by a greater desire for raw foods so it seems possible this will too.

I've been reading more about raw food recommendations for diabetics. Gabriel Cousens, the doctor featured in the Raw for 30 Days documentary that inspired me to take on this regimen in the first place, recommends eliminating "fruit for three to six months until the fasting blood sugar (FBS) stabilizes at between 70 and 85, and then only have low-glycemic fruit such as berries, cherries, citrus, goji berries, cranberries, and an occasional apple" (see the article).

That's definitely not the diet I've been following: I eat a lot of fruit. I decided I should start monitoring my blood sugar again just in case I'm doing the opposite of what I set out to do. Yesterday I tested in the morning before eating, immediately after eating, and two hours after eating.

This article says that FBS for a normal individual is 70-100 and that it would never rise above 135-140. By two hours after eating, blood sugar should return to normal. My FBS was 92 (it had been 85 the two days prior), then I was at 128 immediately after the smoothie, and 86 two hours after finishing it. So I guess if that 75-85 number is ideal, I'm a bit higher than that, but I seem to be well within normal range even immediately after eating sweeter raw foods. I tested just now in fact immediately after eating a raw cinnamon roll and was only at 96.

Maybe because I am pre-diabetic my diet can be a bit less severe in terms of fruit and still experience the positive effects of going raw. I seem to remember when reading Raw Family that Sergei Boutenko ate fruit and reversed his diabetes simply by going raw. Still, I will continue to monitor my blood sugar to make sure I am getting the results I want and if I notice any adverse trends I will alter my diet accordingly.

Here's what I've been eating:

Day Twenty-One:

Day Twenty-Two:
  • 10:40 am: Green smoothie (6 oz. bag organic spinach, banana, juice 1 homegrown lemon and tangerine, 2 Tbsp. hemp powder, 1 tsp. spirulina, wheatgrass, water)
  • 3:45 pm: Raw Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
  • 6 pm: Green smoothie (1/2 bag organic spinach, 1/2 homegrown orange, organic pear, wheatgrass, 4 Tbsp. Hemp, slice of mango, organic kiwi, water)

Day Twenty-Three:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Days Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, and Twenty-One

I've been mostly raw for three weeks now. The more I do this, the less cooked food appeals to me. Today, for example, I had lunch at Macaroni Grill with my husband and daughter (the name of that place makes no sense: they don't serve macaroni, and if they did, would they grill it??). When I began this regimen, I told myself I'd have some meals be vegan but not raw. I did this for two reasons:

  • I feared if I didn't allow myself some wiggle room I'd be too tempted and fail utterly
  • I wanted to make it easy to socialize with friends

Today at the restaurant I had whole wheat pasta with veggies and pine nuts in a tomato basil sauce and it tasted fine, but it did not compare with my fabulous raw pizza:

Flax/sesame/buckwheat/sunflower crust, italian herb "cheese" spread, marinara from Everyday Raw, chopped organic basil and organic yellow bell peppers

The flavors and colors of raw food are just so vibrant! They're, well, alive.

The cheese experiment inspired by this blog post at the Sunny Raw Kitchen turned out rather well. I started with her recipe for the base cheese, substituting 1/2 tsp. of probiotic powder for each probiotic capsule and using water instead of Rejuvelac. I then cultured it for 24 hours. I divided the batch in half and seasoned as follows:

Italian Herb "Cheese" Spread

Mix together:
  • 1/2 batch cheese base
  • 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. celtic sea salt

Dust 4" springform pan with more parsley flakes, fill with cheese mixture and chill until firm.

Cheddar "Cheese" Spread

Mix together:
  • 1/2 batch cheese base
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. raw tahini
  • pinch of turmeric and paprika
  • sea salt to taste (about 1-2 tsp.)

Fill 4" springform pan with cheese mixture and chill until firm.

The Italian herb cheese turned out great, and the cheddar wasn't bad but still needs tweaking. The foretaste was a bit too yeasty, but the aftertaste had just the right cheddary bite. I think I may play with the proportion of nutritional yeast to tahini next time.

The crust for the pizza also made crackers for the cheddar:

Flax/Sesame/Buckwheat/Sunflower Crackers

Grind into a flour (I use a coffee grinder for this):
  • 2/3 c. flax seeds

Mix flax seed meal with:
  • 1 1/3c. water

Process with S blade in food processor:
  • 1 c. sunflower seeds, soaked and drained
  • 1 c. buckwheat, soaked and drained
  • 1/4 c. sesame seeds, soaked and drained

Mix flax mixture with sunflower/buckwheat/sesame mixture and:
  • 1/2 tsp. unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Spike seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. parsley flakes

Spread mixture onto teflex sheets, score into squares or triangles, and dehydrate at 105 degrees. When top is dry, flip onto dehydrator tray and remove teflex sheet. Dehydrate until crackers are crisp. Note: if you plan on eating these plain, you may want to sprinkle them with salt before dehydrating.

In the past few days I also tried a recipe for Creamy Carob Mousse from Carol Alt's book Eating in the Raw. I made a few modifications as I went, reducing the raw carob powder from 1 cup to 2/3 cup, substituting 1 tbsp. agave for each date, and adding a bit of almond milk. The base of the mousse is actually avocados, and I know that sounds gross, but believe it or not it tastes really good -- the only complaint I have about it is that the carob is a bit grainy.

Alt's book is a bit different from most raw books in that she's not vegan or even vegetarian: she eats raw dairy products and even raw or lightly seared meat and fish. There's also some ingredients in the recipes, like sprouted bread and rolled oats, that aren't raw. The book isn't the best that's out there by any means, but I'd recommend it for people who aren't vegetarians who are looking for suggestions on how to eat healthier. I just wouldn't recommend it to someone serious about becoming a raw vegan.

Here's what I've been eating for the last several days:

Day Seventeen:
  • 2 pm (I did eat before 2, but the rest of my day is in an earlier post): Lunch at Walter's Restaurant in Claremont with Sporksforall and Teresa (black beans, rice, salata, bread, water)
  • 4:30 pm: homegrown tangerine (from Sporks and Teresa's tree)
  • 6:15 pm: homegrown tangerine, Everyday Raw vegan macaroni and cheese
  • 7 pm: Eating in the Raw Carob Mousse

Day Eighteen:

Day Nineteen:
  • 9 am: Green smoothie (2 bags of organic spinach, juice of 3 homegrown tangerines, 1 banana, Spirulina, water)
  • 10:30 am: 2 FSBS Crackers with Cheddar "Cheese" spread
  • 12:30 pm: 2 open faced sandwiches (raw raisin bread, 1 sliced pear, almond butter)
  • 4 pm: Salad (1 organic romaine heart, avocado, organic plum tomatoes,1/4 red bell pepper, a few organic broccoli florets, and homemade sesame dressing
  • 7 pm: Earth Cafe Pumpkin Spice of Life Pie (yummmmmmmmmm)
  • 10 pm: Pecans and raisins

Day Twenty:

Day Twenty-One:
  • 9:45 am: Green smoothie (juice of 1 homegrown lemon, banana, organic pear, 3/4 bag of spinach, 2 Tbsp. hemp powder, 2 tsp. maca, 1 tsp. spirulina, water)
  • noon: Lunch at Macaroni Grill with family (whole wheat penne with tomato-basil sauce, asparagus, pine nuts and spinach; water)
  • 2:30 pm: 1/2 mango, organic kiwi, couple of sections of homegrown oranges (from a neighbor)
  • 4 pm: almonds
  • 5:15 pm: 2 slices of raw pizza, 1 cracker with cheddar cheese spread, lemon sparkling water
  • 6 pm: Eating in the Raw Carob Mousse