How Raw Food Led Me to Love Exercise

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Get more exercise!

I love exercise!  I can’t even believe I just wrote that… but it’s the truth.  My body craves it.  I got off work today at 8pm, took the train home, put on my gym clothes, went to put a down payment on my new place, then got to the gym — at 10pm!  I have never done that before!  And what was funny is that I got to the gym, signed in, and got pissed because someone was on “my treadmill!”  Yes, I know that this gym has about 30 treadmills — maybe 5 were being used at that time.  And I was really upset that someone was using “my treadmill.”

Do I owe this newfound love of exercise to raw foods?  Absolutely!  Since completing my 30 day raw food challenge in June, I have been eating at least 2 raw meals a day.  Those meals are usually breakfast and lunch because those meals are easy for me to take to work.  The energy I have now is indescribable.  My thoughts are so much clearer.  I am better at completing the many tasks and projects that come my way at work.  The stress is definitely mounting during this time of year.  I have the added stress of trying to move to a new place and getting rid of just about everything I own.  And even though I know all of these things are happening, I know I have what it takes to handle it.  I don’t drown my feelings in french fries and chicken wings.  There’s no running out to the grocery store for ice cream I don’t need.  I get rid of the day’s stress on the treadmill — AND IN 95 DEGREE HEAT AT THAT!  I get on that treadmill and I run until I can’t run anymore.  I have no plan (at least not yet…) for how far I want to go or how long.  I just run until I’m tired.

So what’s a great pre-workout energy picker-upper?  I drink about a pint of a green smoothie starring KALE GREENS.  I don’t know what it is about kale, but whenever I have a smoothie or salad with kale greens, my body can’t rest.  It’s almost like drinking coffee without the jitters.  If I drink it for breakfast, I will have a quart or more.  That gives me lots of energy until I get to lunch.  I cut the serving size down to a pint for my evening workout because if I drink too much, I won’t sleep that night.

Here’s the recipe to the green smoothie I concocted tonight:

Pinapple Jolt Green Smoothie

1 bunch of kale greens (I used curly leaf – you use what you have)

3 or 4 slices of frozen pineapple

1 banana

1/4 to 1/3 cup of water

1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender.  I love my Vitamix, but use what you have.

2. Pour in a fancy glass, or put it in your workout drink container.

CHEESECAKE! Need a Better Reason to Go Raw for a Day?

Happy International Raw Food Day!  I can see you raising your eyebrows at this…  Yes, today is International Raw Food Day — a day launched by Raw Food Coach, Karen Knowler from the UK.  The point of the day is to encourage people to either go raw for a day, or at least do some research on what eating more raw foods can do for your body.  If you are asking about when this started, I can’t tell you because I  just found out about this date myself a few days ago.  So now I’m passing it on to you.

The one raw food recipe that got me truly excited about raw foods was CHEESECAKE!  Let me tell you, I have never been a big dessert person.  This is most likely because I don’t care for syrupy sweet things overdone with lots of sauces and toppings.  However, some months back I went into my favorite health food store and I saw a slice of lemon vegan cheesecake in the fridge.  I’m telling you it looked like regular cheesecake, but I was thinking, “it’s probably gross…”  Having just got paid and being the adventurous eater I am, I decided to give up $6 for one slice.  I took my bag of groceries and my $6 slice to the car, pulled out my plastic fork, and dug in.  Let me tell you, the moment I put that cheesecake into my mouth, I closed my eyes, put my head back, and thanked God for something so delicious.  I think a tear even came to my eye.  The cheesecake was so creamy and fluffy, the lemon was nice and tart, with enough sweetness that didn’t overpower the cheesecake.  I absolutely had to learn how to make this for myself.

I searched online for the best raw cheesecakes.  They all seem to be made of pretty much the same things:  raw cashews, almonds, dates, coconut oil, etc.  I used the recipes written in the blog, The Sunny Raw Kitchen.  Here’s a photo of what I was able to create using the site’s recipe as a guide:

Lemon Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

The beauty of this is that you can eat this for breakfast without feeling too bad about it.  I made this when I was still fairly new to raw foods, so there is no reason for you not to try to make this or some other easy raw food recipes.

What recipe first made you excited about raw foods?

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16 Days Raw: Choosing the Healthiest Produce

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Do you really know what kind of food you are eating?

I’ve made it a point to only weigh myself once a week.  The reason is that my focus for being raw is not necessarily weight loss, but increased level of health and well-being — the outcome of which will definitely be weight loss.  However I just don’t want to become one of those people who say that because I ate 2 avocados today, I didn’t lose a pound.  It’s easy for me to get crazy like that.

So here I am — about halfway through my raw food feast and 16 pounds lighter!  I can see a difference in my face.  I don’t feel like there is do much fat clogging my throat and neck anymore (gross!). My stomach has gone down a bit and I can start to see a waist line.  People say I seem happier, more alert.

Since my diet is mostly fruits and veggies now, I find that I pay more attention to the PLU codes — or price look up codes — the four to 5 digit numbers written on the stickers of most fresh produce in your local grocery store.  Did you know that those codes actually mean something?  It’s more than just a code to help the supermarket identify what they sell.  This code also gives you a clue as to how this food was grown.

When inspecting your produce stickers, pay attention to the first number in the code.  Here’s your PLU code cheat sheet:

  • 9 = organically grown produce.  This means the food was grown without the use of pesticides or other unnatural material.
  • 4 = conventionally grown produce.  Codes beginning with 4 have been grown with pesticides.
  • 3 = irradiated produce.  Food that is irradiated is exposed to radiation to kill bacteria, viruses, insects, etc.  Sounds like a regular pesticide, right?  Wrong!!  Irradiated food also delays the ripening process for longer shelf life, increases “juiciness,” and causes chemical changes that kill the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals in the flesh and seeds (among other things).  In other words — it’s dead food which completely defeats the purpose of a raw food diet.
  • 8 = genetically modified produce (or GMO).  This is food that has been genetically altered to prolong shelf life, increase vitamin content, reduce pesticide usage, etc.  GMO are often touted as the answer to malnutrition in some of the world’s poorest countries.  Having worked in international development, I know this is a bunch of bullshit covered in wheatgrass.  Anytime folks start messing with what is already pure and perfect for the sake of the poor, you know it’s gotta be crap!

So organically grown food (and seed, for those who are into planting your own garden…) is best for the raw food diet.  Start paying attention to how your food is grown and where in the world it is grown.  In short, if it ain’t produced by God, just leave it alone.

 

 

 

12 Days Raw: I take responsibility for me

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My life is finally finding some natural order.  I am feeling like my life is less of a mess.  My food choices have made me fall asleep by about 9pm, and I awake between 5am and 6am — naturally.  I feel like I finally have time to get my house in order, do exercise first thing in the morning (something I have always wanted to do but never had the energy to do it).  I wake up and do Bible study for 30 minutes just to get the day started right.  And this time, all this morning activity is not so much of a struggle.  It’s funny how something as simple as food can magically realign your entire life without having to formally establish goals, find willpower, etc.  It’s not that these are bad practices.  It’s just that living in America has taught us to organize our lives around keeping employment, instead of organizing our lives around our families, health, and general well-being.  That employment may keep our bills paid (albeit barely…), but it’s better than being homeless, right?  I now say, WRONG!!!  What good is that employment if it means you find it difficult to find the time to spend on activities that feed your soul?  How about finding employment that feeds your soul AND allows you to make regular time to spend with your family in a way that is meaningful for you?  What good is your job if it leaves you so stressed that you don’t even find joy in it anymore (if you ever did at all…)?

I say all this to say that raw foods is helping me to regain control of my life.  I willingly decided to give it away in exchange for living on someone else’s schedule.  I really can’t afford to do that anymore.

TODAY’S RAW FOOD RECIPE!

Banana Milkshake

2 frozen bananas

1/2 cup of almond milk (you can make your own using sprouted almonds — or buy it if your in a pinch…)

1/2 inch to 1 inch of peeled, fresh ginger

1 tsp of vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/3 tsp nutmeg

1. Place frozen bananas into a high speed blender.  I use a Vitamix — but if you don’t have one, use what you have.

2. Cut and peel fresh ginger.  The easiest way to peel fresh ginger is to use a butter knife or a spoon.  The skin should easily peel off.  Your ginger should release some juice while peeling.  If it does not, it’s too old and won’t be as flavorful.

3. Pour in almond milk and all the other ingredients.

4. Cover and blend until creamy and smooth.

That’s all it takes to make this beautiful raw treat.  I’ve eaten this for dinner on those 95 degree evenings with no air conditioner.  You can add a teaspoon or so of raw carob powder or raw cacao powder if you like.  I prefer carob as raw cacao is a toxic stimulant.  Fresh mint can also be added as well!

5 Days Raw: Living the Way God Intended

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Yeah, I think the title of this post says it all…  Trying to explain my choice of food to people has been — amusing, I’ll say.  I think most people in my circle understand vegetarian, and some even understand the difference between vegetarian and vegan.  But raw vegan is just a whole new ballgame that many people can’t figure out.  Let me share some of these amusing statements I have heard in the last few days…

You only eat raw food? So do you eat sushi???

Raw food?  So does that mean you’ll want your steak rare???

(and the classic…)  But where do you get your protein???

What’s sad about these statements is that the folks who said it weren’t kidding.  Why is it so hard for people to wrap their head around food that is simple and direct from the source of life (or as close as it can possibly get in this part of Washington, DC)?

But then again, I guess I didn’t realize it either until I started to eat raw foods on a regular basis.  It is possible to eat a few mangoes for dinner and be satisfied on those nights when you don’t feel like chopping, peeling, and waiting for stuff to boil.  There is no greater culinary joy than to lop off the top of an ice-cold watermelon and dig in with a spoon.  And, yes, making homemade salad dressings taste SOOOO much better than the crap you buy in a bottle with all those preservatives, sugar, and mayonnaise.  All those nights I complained about not having any time to prepare anything was really just me being a programmed part of the fast food machine.  This whole super busy lifestyle of working long hours away from home and not growing my own food and being dependent on chain stores for things I could have easily made my damn self with a little time and energy.  It’s this same fast lifestyle that made young women like myself think that having children before fully establishing a career is an inconvenience rather than a gift.  It is this fast lifestyle that make young women believe that preparing a home cooked meal for their husband is not nearly as important as pleasing their boss.  It is this fast lifestyle that makes me feel bad every time I want to take an afternoon off for a doctor’s appointment when I know I have a ton of things to finish.  I am realizing how much I don’t like this fast lifestyle and how it has impacted the choices I have made.  It really just isn’t what God intended for human beings to live at all.

2 Days Raw: Why raw for 30 days?

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Day 2 of being raw has given me increased energy already, however at the end of the day (it’s about 11pm as I write this…) I am starting to get headaches and nausea.  I guess this is the beginning of the detox stage of going raw.  Some say it can be as bad as getting flu-like symptoms.  Hopefully I can keep all of that at bay with a little exercise and lots of water.

I’ve learned through past failed attempts at dieting and fasting that it is important to keep sight of one’s goals when deciding to make a lifestyle change.  So I thought I should go ahead and vocalize my goals for staying raw for 30 days.  Vocalizing makes the goals more concrete.  Perhaps, if anyone reads this besides me, I will have some others who will help to keep me focused.  With that in mind, my reasons for doing 30 days of raw food is:

  • Need mental clarity to make some decisions — both professional and personal.  While I love my job as an advisor at a community college, I don’t like the long hours of being in an office.  I want to be more creative.  I have been thinking about food businesses such as being a personal chef, or even leading food tours.  I hope to gain more direction by the end of June.
  • To feel healthier, feel better.  I am tired of being tired.  I have had a dream of becoming a runner for about a year.  I have done some jogging here and there, but no real schedule was put together.  This is the time for me to become more serious about becoming more of the athlete I see in my dreams.
  • Get rid of fibroids and hopefully improve fertility.  I will have to dedicate a few posts to my fibroid nightmare that led to surgery.  I am sure there are loads of other women who have suffered through this horrible indignity.  I would like to share information on where fibroids come from, the modern ways of treating them that make women even sicker than what they already were, as well as some real natural treatments that may help to alleviate the suffering through a commitment to changing one’s lifestyle.
  • Diminish my chances of getting breast cancer (as well as other cancers).  My mother died of breast cancer at age 49 in 2006.  I was with her on the weekends in New Jersey (I live in DC) to essentially help her die as comfortably as possible during the last several months of her life.  The pain I saw her go through in her final months is something I would never wish on my worst enemy.

I hope to continue to stay with me as I talk about a lot of these issues that have been on my mind for a long time.

Feeling Brand New, Y’all!

I sold my microwave.  I didn’t use it, really.  Aside from all the reasons why a person shouldn’t use a microwave, I NEVER bought microwaved meals anyway.  And I didn’t really reheat anything in it either.  So what was I keeping it for???  This revelation came after thinking that if I was going to spend more time getting reacquainted with food and cooking, I’m going to need to make some room for healthier things.  I’ve got a beautiful shelf/countertop built by my beau (I’m too old for a boyfriend…) using scrap wood pieces — and I absolutely love it.  He quadrupled my working space with one piece of wood.  He also nailed a simple piece of wood under my cabinet to give me a little extra space to put my spices.  I teared up when he showed it to me.

I finally got rid of that old crappy blender that never really blended anything right and replaced it with a Vitamix (!).  I’ve been salivating over that Vitamix for several years now.  I’ve been reading so many vegan bloggers who have had the same Vitamix for 10 to 15 years!  Well worth the roughly $500 investment if you know you’ll use it all the time.  I got a great deal from QVC while watching In the Kitchen with David (that man can sell the hell out of anything…).  The counter space that held the microwave will soon hold a fruit and vegetable dehydrator — I may have to wait a few months for that though.

What a HUGE leap from what I was doing a year ago!  One year ago, today, my ex-husband left to go God knows where.  I had been so depressed, even before he left that I couldn’t tell you when the last time I put together a halfway decent meal.  I noticed the other morning while preparing a watermelon and cantaloupe smoothie that I felt so grounded cutting up all that sweet, juicy goodness.  I thought to myself, “YEAH! I could do this all day!”  But alas, I had to go to work.  Here’s a little Roy Ayers with Brand New Feeling — because I’m loving me!