Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Useful Appliances for a Raw Food Diet

In my last post I mentioned Vitamix and Blendtec Blenders.  I would like to further discuss appliances and tools that are a great help when on a raw or mostly raw diet.  Some of these can be very costly, but well worth the investment.  They all do not have to be purchased at once (I don't own them all yet)  and many times short cuts can be made to save money in purchasing these items, like purchasing from eBay.  We think nothing of buying the best electronics and the latest phones or televisions.  Our health, however, should be of utmost importance.  Think about how you have prioritized these items and where you have been investing your hard earned dollars.  Where will you and your family reap the best returns?

High Powered Blender:  These are very helpful in making the smoothest green smoothies, soups, dressings, sorbets, sauces and dips.  I have owned several kinds of blenders and most of them break down easily.  The only two I would recommend are industrial grade Vitamix or Blendtec.  As I mentioned in my last post, Costco carries both of these at least once a year at a reduced price.  Another option would be to purchase a demo model directly from the manufacturer, also at a reduced price.  Ask customer service about their availability.

Food Processor: I use my blender most frequently.  But my food processor comes in at a close second.  I make an innumerable amount of dishes with the aid of my food processor.  Even without being raw, a kitchen isn't complete without one.  I have owned a Cuisinart for nearly a decade and a half without ever having any problems with it.  In the raw foods arena, I use this to make pates, freezer fudge, raw brittle, salsas, gazpachos and many other dishes.

Dehydrator: This week I have used the dehydrator more than ever before.  Previously, I had avoided it like the plague.  As I had mentioned before, I don't like how noisy it is, and the time it takes to prepare a meal.  But after using it and seeing how my children scarfed down the meal I prepared, it is making me rethink my position on it.  People like dehydrators because they make it possible to prepare meals that seem like they are cooked.  My kids would wring my neck if all I gave them were salads and salad-like foods.  I made Allisa Cohen's Chik-un patties (Living on Live Food) with cauliflower, carrots and sprouted lentils -- all foods that kids may not have on their favorites list.  They loved it!  I also made them brittle this week with sprouted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, a dash of salt and enough honey to coat it all.  Another hit!  ExCaliber is my dehydrator of choice.  It has 9 trays and can do a very large amount of food at once.  The drawback is that it takes up a lot of counter space and, as I said before, it creates a constant background noise when in use.  This may be the appliance that gets stored and used in the walk-in pantry, if you have one.

Juicer: This is more of a toughie.  People have their preferences as to which they choose to purchase.  I own an Acme centrifugal juicer by Waring which is fine for using once a week.  I really like the citrus juicing attachment and how quickly it can juice.  Centrifugal juicers do have a drawback.  I can only fill a pitcherful of juice before I have to stop and empty the juicer.  Dr. Richard Schulze recommends buying a juicer like Champion that will expel the pulp while you juice.  If, perhaps, you are on a juice fast, stopping to empty the juicer several times a day can become laborious.   Greenstar  and Omega are more suited for juicing greens and wheatgrass.  These juicers take a longer time to juice.  If you want the finest quality juice, be prepared to pay for it.  The Norwalk is priced in the thousands.  I honestly don't see the need to spend that kind of money, however.  I am hoping to purchase an Omega by recommendation of a friend who juices.  Click here, here and here for a few different sites that discuss juicers and their differences.

Spiral Slicer: Of all the appliances I have listed, these next two items are the least expensive. They usually run about thirty dollars.  A spiral slicer can help you turn zuchini into spaguetti.  Allisa Cohen recommends the Saladacco.  Raw Food World has a few different brands; ask customer service which is most popular.  I have yet to buy one of these.

Mandoline: I would like to get one of these to make sweet potato and zucchini chips.  Here is a site that reviews them.

Citrus Juicer: I should get one of the manual ones like this one.  For now, I cut limes or lemons and just squeeze wedges with my hands to extract juice.  For oranges and grapefruit I use the one on my acme juicer.  It's awesome!  Yes, I'm a girl that gets excited over kitchen tools and equipment.

Before you jump the gun and make your decision as to what to purchase first, take time to consider what your needs are.  If you are very sick and need to improve your health as quickly as possible, buy a juicer. (Juice fasting, bowel detoxification and hydrotherapy, when combined, can be life saving -- including for those dealing with cancer.  Go to herbdoc.com or call 1-800 HerbDoc for books and information on how to do a juice fast cleanse at home.  Another source would be to contact the Gerson Institute.)  If you are fairly healthy, buy a blender to begin making green smoothies. 

I have never regretted spending money on these appliances.  I use them regularly.  I'm even beginning to use the dreaded dehydrator.  Hey, if it means having my kids eat raw foods, I'll go for it.

Enjoy the journey!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Mind, Body, and Spirit Connection

I was going to do a post on helpful appliances for a raw or mostly raw diet, but I decided I would delve into another arena because of what I have experienced this past week.  Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you and every now and then you get hit.  This was such a week for me.  As a matter of fact, I felt like I got the wind knocked out of me.  It would be nice if life was always rosy and perfect, but no such luck.  So without going into detail about my "issues" I just wanted to share the effect it has had on me physically.

I believe in a perfect triune --  mind, body and spirit. They are connected like the gears of a clock.  When one has a great diet and active life, positive emotions and thoughts along with a strong spiritual connection, the effects are fantastic.  If one area gets out of sync, everything else will suffer.  For the past year I have enjoyed the clearest skin.  I have loved this so much because of the fact that since adolescence I have been so prone to breakouts.  This past week caused me so much stress that I began to break out like a teenager -- at age 40, no less.  (Okay, I also cheated on cooked food and french fries at my  son's camp out a couple of weeks ago.  Are you horribly disappointed in me?  There was very little raw food to be had on this trip!)  So despite a clean diet (since my cheat weekend 2 weeks ago), my anxiety was enough to trigger my breakouts.  Negative emotions can cause acidity in the body which in turn makes one's body a breeding ground for disease.  Another effect from my bad emotions was a lack of energy.   When I work out I love to exercise to the brink of complete exhaustion.  I love to get a red face and to break a sweat.  (Sorry for the imagery.)  This past week was pathetic at the gym, my energy was sapped!  Lastly, I also had a difficult time sleeping. 

Do you remember the observation made about those poor orphaned infants during WWII?  One group of infants was held while fed and the others weren't.  Those that were held survived, the others died.  Have you ever known someone to die of a broken heart?  Have you ever heard of the amazing effect of laughter on the body?  It can boost your immunity, release endorphins and even protect your heart.  Our thoughts and emotions are so powerful and can make such an impact on our health and sense of well being.  Stubbornly harbor bitter thoughts and a vengeful spirit and your health will not be a strong as it could be.

It is so important to learn to forgive, let go and to have an attitude of gratitude.  It would be great if everyone could rent a comedy once a week to just have a good hearty, belly laugh.  There are times we can evade negative emotions by avoiding behaviors that lead to them.  Other times, like when we grieve the loss of a loved one, we just have to let our emotions run their course.  If you are dealing with disease, go raw vegan, exercise and don't neglect caring for your mind and spirit! 

My problems pale in comparison to those of so many others.  When I get stressed I lean on my regular coping mechanisms.  I lean on my faith, my family and spend time with friends.  I am doing my best to stay positive.  I am also taking extra time to stretch and breathe.  Walking or running in the sun also helps me.  But as always I know from past experience, "This too shall pass."  Click here for a list of coping mechanisms.

Before I close I'll share one more thing.  I have gotten feedback that some of my readers want recipes  so here is one you can try.  Jennifer Cornbleet is one of my favorite go-to raw chefs.  She has a very good almond milk and easy to make granola.  I've tried this and I like it!

If you have trouble with the youtube link, please right click on it and open  it in a new window.

Enjoy the Journey!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Food Matters Documentary and Some Great Deals at Costco

FOODMATTERS is a fantastic documentary that is an absolute must-see.  You may view it for free on their website this week only. Registration is required.  Go to foodmatters.tv to view the trailer.  Make yourself some herbal tea, get comfortable and prop up your feet.  This information is critically important.  Tell others to watch it as well!

Also, I stopped by the Gaithersburg, MD Costco today  and saw that they were having Blendtec demos and were stocking Vitamix blenders.  People have their reasons as to which of these blenders is superior.  Truth is, they both are tough as nails, long-lasting, excellent blenders.  They are worth every penny they are sold for.  I am partial to Vitamix because I was introduced to it first.  My friends and family own them, so naturally I went with Vitamix.  I love, love, love my Vitamix and I use it everyday, several times a day.  The great thing is, that you don't have to pay top dollar if you purchase it at Costco.  The price for the Vitamix was 374.99 and the Blendtec was 379.79.  To top things off, I also saw that at the Blendtec demo table, they were selling a gallon of Xagave (raw organic agave nectar) for 29.99 - a steal!  Check your local Costco to see when they may be coming to your area.

Enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Daily Menu and a Post by Kimberly Snyder

I have become successful at eating a mostly raw diet because I have made an effort to keep it simple.  My first raw prep book, although incredibly delicious, was far too time consuming.  I would never recommend it because of the endless hard to find ingredients list and time required to prepare a meal.  I am not a fan of the dehydrator.  Some like the dehydrator because it helps them prepare foods that are reminiscent of  cooked foods.  (If that's your thing, try Alissa Cohen's Living on Live Food)   I'm sure I'll make zucchini or sweet potato chips at some point but I can't stand how noisy it is or how long it takes to complete a meal.  I want it fast, quick and easy.  

First thing when I wake up I drink a tall glass of water with lemon juice.    During the sleep hours your body does not stop working.  It goes into repair mode.  Part of the labor involved during sleep is detoxifying.  The liver needs a good flush of water with lemon to help clear out the toxins.

Before I head off to the gym, I have Dr. Richard Schulze's Superfood.   The debate rages on.  To supplement or not to supplement.  I hear both sides of the argument.  If you have a good, clean diet with plenty of variety, you don't need to worry about supplementing.  But then again, even good wholesome organic produce sits on the truck en route to the grocery store depreciating in nutritional value with each day that passes.  I lean on the side of supplementing.  But not just any supplement.   I love Dr. Schulze's philosophy on creating powerful health,  and his amazing zest for living.  It has been his mission to produce the most nutrient dense supplement on the market.  (No, I'm not his employee, just a satisfied customer.)  Read here why Superfood is a superior supplement. I love Superfood because of how it is prepared. There hasn't been any major alteration to the ingredients.  They are plants that have been cut down to a small particle size and dehydrated at a low temperature to preserve the live enzymes.  B12 is a nutrient that vegetarians have a hard time getting.  Superfood is loaded with it.  Here is the ingredients list.  Click on Superfood plus- more info to access ingredients list.

When I come home after my morning workout at the gym, I prepare a breakfast with either oat groats  or buckwheat that have soaked overnight. I start the night before and soak ½  cup of oat groats in water.  In the morning I drain the water out and blend the oat groats with 1 cup of milk (almond, rice or coconut milk).  I add one large apple, a dash of salt, a dash of nutmeg and ½ tbsp or less of almond or vanilla extract.  Experiment with this basic recipe.  Instead of apples try adding pineapple with coconut milk for a pina collada flavor or  strawberries and banana.  Another breakfast idea is to have sprouted buckwheat that has barely sprouted (soak buckwheat overnight and rinse in the morning). I eat it straight with almond milk and frozen blueberries.  For those new to raw food, I would recommend having it with a fruit salad and a cashew cream sauce.  For the cream sauce soak about 1 cup of cashews for a couple of  hours, drain it and blend it with enough non-dairy milk for it to be creamy.  Add dates and a dash of salt to taste. Drizzle the fruit salad, buckwheat, and cream sauce with agave nectar.  Yum! I also make a green smoothie.  Click here for a how-to.

For lunch I make a pate from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet.  I love all her pates and spreads.  I also search online for quick, easy spreads.  I'll wrap it in a kale, collard or chard leaf with cucumber, tomato, sprouts and some lime juice or soy sauce.  (If you really want to be totally raw, use nama shoyu instead of soy sauce.)  I try to vary the greens, the pates and the sprouts that I add.

For dinner, I cook a vegan meal for my family and make a huge organic salad.  I eat the salad only.  Again, I try to vary the ingredients as much as possible. 

I snack on avocados with sea salt, crudites with a variety of  dips, raw nuts and fruit with raw nut butters.  This is the basic blueprint for my meals.  I like trying new recipes and expanding my repertoire, but I still follow this basic routine.  Many times I don't get to every meal.  I just don't get hungry for it.  My beverage of choice is water.  I also juice about once a week.  My favorite juiced drink is carrots with grapefruit and orange.  Delicious!  You don't have to follow what I do exactly but this eating plan can be a start for someone who is clueless as to what to eat when you want to eat raw.  If you desire cooked food, eat the raw food first and then move onto the cooked food. 

Drop dead gorgeous celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder has an excellent post about what is wrong with the Standard American Diet, please take the time to read it here!  Kimberly has so much good information on her blog and book.  Well worth the time to read. 

This information may seem like so much to take in at first.  I recommend taking a step per week.  Try adding a green smoothie one week.  The following week try filling up on a green salad before you move onto your cooked meal. Keep reading as much as you can about plant based diets to keep your focus. Don't be hard on yourself, but continue to make small incremental steps toward healthier living.  Best wishes for a healthier life!

Enjoy the Journey!