Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fresh

Aaaahh...There is nothing like freshly juiced oranges in the morning. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Drawing Me Back

So I have been for sure eating a vegetarian diet these last couple of weeks and vegan sometimes.  I have found that in trying to transition back into a somewhat "normal",  more "socially acceptable" diet, that it is really difficult.  No wonder I liked the hard-core lifestyle of raw vegan.  It is actually uncomplicated and there are not so many decisions to be made because they're already made for me!

I am disappointed especially in the lack of fresh vegetables that I haven't eaten.  Sure, I've still eaten some, but not even close to the quantity that I had been.  Fruit has always been easy to consume and still is.  I have not had any caffeine still and had my first surgary drink early last week.  Otherwise I have been sticking with water like I had been before.

After eating so 'clean' for 5 months, my body is reacting to me introducing not-so-healthy foods back into my systems.  I would say the biggest thing I've noticed is that I have felt "thick".  My weight hasn't shifted, but I feel like it has.  So this weekend I realized I kinda can't stand that feeling!  So, I have restocked my kitchen with loads of fresh veggies and fruits and I have a new plan of action.

What I have been trying to do these past couple weeks is eat healthy in my day-to-day life because I can easily control that.  Obviously, with it being the Christmas season, there have been a lot of dinner parties and family gatherings.  My plan with those has been to eat what is being served, but avoid meat and try to avoid animal-related items (by the way, that is almost impossible with all the cheese and cream sauces, etc. in many dishes!).  So in this week leading up to the feast that is to come on Christmas Eve, I am going to incorporate more green smoothies than I have been eating and I want to be more strict with the other foods that I eat.

I have trained my brain and body to want super healthy foods these past few months and after eating foods that don't fit into that category, I am coming to terms with the reality that I think I really AM changed forever.  Sure it has been fun again to eat foods I haven't tasted in months, and it's great in the moment, but I do not like the way it is making me feel as a whole.  So I'm going to go back to the basics (again!), but with a differently outlook than before.

Overall, I don't necessarily view foods outside of the raw vegan boundaries as poison, as I have called them in the past.  But I also don't want to run to them because they really don't make me feel better...at all.  I'm coming to a place (I think) where raw vegan is my goal, but I'm also not going to freak out when I don't have that option available. 

Okay, that's enough journaling for tonight. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Final Revelation

To put it simply and directly, I think my strict raw vegan journey has come to an end.  Not for reasons you may think, but for deeper reasons that are too private to share here.  It has nothing to do with the food itself.

I think it has fulfilled its purpose in my life, just not the purpose I thought it would or had hoped it would.  I am forever changed though after eating this way.  I think I will always lean towards much healthier eating - green smoothies are a staple for me now!

It has now been 5 months of eating this way and I didn't know where this journey would take me.  I found my destination now.  I will never be the same as I was before.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Breakaway

This morning while I was working out and listening to my iPod, the song Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson played.  And it just hit me.  Like a ton of bricks.  I am breaking away from my old life and old patterns and into a new, healthier version of myself.  When I think of my raw vegan journey, this song is a great representation of me right now.

My favorite, empowering phrase in the song is:
"I'll take a risk, take a chance, make a change and breakaway"

I wish I was better with words b/c I have so much more to say about this, but at the moment, it's more of a feeling...that I'm letting sink into my soul.  It's a good feeling.  One filled with excitement, accomplishment, defeat, change, remembering the old me, dreaming about the new me - the person I want to be.  Sure I have said in the past that I want to be healthier, but healthy people behave differently than I used to behave.  I am trying to become a person who does healthy things so that I can be a healthy person!

Now for the lyrics.  Maybe this song speaks to you in a different way than it did for me this morning.
Grew up in a small town
And when the rain would fall down
I'd just stare out my window

Dreaming of what could be
And if I'd end up happy
I would pray

Trying hard to reach out
But when I'd try to speak out
Felt like no one could hear me

Wanted to belong here
But something felt so wrong here
So I pray
I could breakaway

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes til I touch the sky
And I'll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won't forget all the ones that I loved
I'll take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Wanna feel the warm breeze
Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean

Get onboard a fast train
Travel on a jet plane, far away
And breakaway

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes 'til I touch the sky
And I'll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
I won't forget all the ones that I loved
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Buildings with a hundred floors
Swinging 'round revolving doors
Maybe I don't know where they'll take me but
Gotta keep moving on, moving on
Fly away, breakaway

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
Though it's not easy to tell you goodbye
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won't forget the place I come from
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway, breakaway, breakaway

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Persimmons

I had heard the word "persimmons" before, but didn't realize it was a food!  And no, I'm not blonde, just not very adventurous enough to try things that have weird names like that!  My wonderful coworker D has once again helped me broaden my horizons!  She always has some type of fruit sitting on her desk at work and this week she has a bunch of these:





Did you know that they grow on trees?  Who knew such a thing existed?!  They are either shaped like a tomato or like a heart.  First they need to be peeled, then you can eat them raw, cooked or dried; cut up into slices or eaten like an apple!  They are high in glucose, with a balanced protein profile, and possess various medicinal and chemical uses - and are not to be eaten on an empty stomach I've heard.

Since I've never had them before I didn't know what to expect.  The one I had was a bit firm and honestly didn't have much flavor.  They can also be eaten when very ripe by cutting off the top and scooping out the insides...how interesting!  I will definitely eat these again.

I'm trying to not be afraid of food I've never seen before and have NO idea how to eat - that's what Google's for, right? :)  Thanks again D for sharing your exotic foods with me!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pace of a Camel

Today a friend told me a little story that gives a good picture of the emotional journey that I have been on for these past almost five months.

When people in the middle east (back in the day) needed to move, they would have to ride camels all the way to their new home.  Taking a camel requires a much slower pace and can take days, weeks or even months to get to their destination.  This gave their souls time to adjust to the change and to mourn the loss of their previous home before celebrating their new adventures.  A large part of their soul was heavily invested in their previous home.


In today's day and age we could move from the east coast of the states to the west coast in one day simply by flying there. In today's instantaneous culture, it is easy to forget that just because we can move so quickly, doesn't mean our souls follow suit.  Our souls need time to adjust and time to reflect amidst the chaos that surrounds us.


I have made some drastic changes in the past 20 weeks and just because I moved so quickly with those changes, doesn't mean that my soul has followed suit.  I think that has been the hardest part of this entire thing.  Overall, the food really isn't the issue.  It's the emotional and social aspect of it that has been the most difficult.  


I remind myself that I am on a journey and that my soul is trying to keep up with all the changes.  Maybe this is what was going on when I posted this.  Parts of my soul are catching up, but there is still a lot that was left behind, so to speak.  


And just because I write about the 'difficulties' doesn't mean I'm not following through on the lifestyle.  I'm just trying to process everything that's going on inside my head.


Now I'm going to chill out and let my soul catch up to my changed behavior.



Monday, November 15, 2010

Finding My Way

These last two weeks I have spent redeeming the previous three weeks.  It has been refreshing and I am learning the value of doing something because it is healthy and not because of the immediate results that I could/should be getting.  Very rarely in my life have I done anything purely for the sake of being healthy.

The past eight weeks I have lost absolutely no additional weight and I find it very frustrating.  I was losing weight so drastically for the first 12 weeks, that to have it stop all of the sudden has been very discouraging.  I think that contributed to me not being as strict with the raw lifestyle a few weeks back.  I went through a weird mind game where I struggled with if this was really worth it or not in every manner.

To make a long story short, I eventually came back around to wanting to continue this lifestyle.  I kept reminding myself of my long-term goals and to stop being distracted by the lack of short-term progress.

During those three weeks where I wasn't being as strict, I found myself trying to purchase foods that I haven't eaten in months...things like cookies. and bread. and candy. and lots of other stuff.  But I just couldn't.  Part of my plan with my nutritionist is to avoid gluten as well, so that eliminated lots of foods that could have been options.

I didn't realize that by living a raw vegan lifestyle I would totally re-wire my brain.  While looking through the food aisles filled with pre-packaged-anything-I-could-ever-desire, I found that none of it was actually truly appealing.  I couldn't even bribe myself to put any of it in my cart.  Believe me, I tried.  Really, really hard.

These past two weeks I have been fully back on track and still have seen no additional physical changes, but I am trying to be okay with that.  I found out there are some underlying blood sugar/adrenal gland/other stuff issues going on which explains the lack of weight loss despite my lower calorie intake and increase in exercise.

So I have been very diligent in eating the quantity I need to and at the frequency that is important.  I continue to work with my nutritionist to help get all this under control and to monitor how my body is reacting to all this.  Much more to say, but I'll stop here for now!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Next Phase: Exercise

Part of my search for better health can be found in exercise.  I have known for months that I would eventually incorporate physical exercise into my new lifestyle change.  But I also know how I am and didn't want to try to change EVERY aspect of my life and get overwhelmed and then do nothing.  So I have purposefully waited until I had this raw vegan stuff more figured out.  Despite what I wrote in my last entry, I really am feeling more comfortable and ready to take on a new challenge.

So last weekend I started exercising regularly.  I've had a few couple week stints in the past, but like everything else, I am trying to make this stick more than two weeks!  So far so good this week!  Boy do I have absolutely no muscle of any kind. But what a wonderful challenge it is to see where I can grow and how much more I can do even from just a few short days ago.

I've been doing cardio-like the eliptical and the treadmill-and then I tried a Power Circuit class (that was tough and very good!) and then this weekend I'm going to see if I like the Aqua Exercise class that my gym offers.  I'm just trying out different things to see what I might actually enjoy doing.

What is your favorite exercise activity?  Maybe I'll give it a shot too!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Change is Brewing

I am still here. :)  Barely sometimes, but I am still here.  Here's where my mind has been lately. 

The more time that passes from the initial shock of getting the not-so-great news this past spring regarding the progression of the MS the less freaked out I am about it and the less compelled I feel to be so drastic with my health.

HOWEVER,

I need to find my new normal.  What does the raw vegan lifestyle look like when I'm not so scared?  What are my REAL motivators for change?  How much do I truly care about  my overall health?  How seriously am I going to take this?  I have worked REALLY hard these past four+ months to get to where I'm at now and I refuse to sabotage myself. 

I have truly meant every word I have written on this blog and my intent in creating this blog was to document my journey and to be able to share with others the wonderful benefits of this lifestyle.  My own writing has been helpful to me lately because I have been able to go back and re-read what I have written and what I have gone through.  It has served as a reminder and as encouragement for me during this particular time.

I feel like I am in the midst of a time of change (again!) and I don't believe that change is headed back towards the SAD lifestyle. Instead, I am trying to define what being raw vegan means in my daily life.  I think anyone can do anything for a period of time, but what does it REALLY take to make a true lifestyle change?  I'm not quite sure yet.  But I am bound and determined to find out. 

I would love to hear any of your experiences in trying to implement a massive change in your lifestyle, in any area!  I can use all the help I can get!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Orange Juice and The Point is Love

This past weekend I finally used the Champion Juicer that Val had so kindly given to me and that been going unused in her home (thanks again Val!).  I made orange juice!  I bought a whole bag of them with this exact intention.  I'm so glad I did!  If you have a juicer, I highly recommend juicing your own oranges instead of buying the premade stuff.  It's better for you because it's literally and completely natural and oh so very fresh.  I used three (on the small side) oranges to make 8 oz. of orange juice.




This next part is written by my friend Laura.  She is a beautiful writer and I have loved reading her thoughts over the years.  You'll see that she definitely has a way with words.  I couldn't resist sharing her thoughts on my blog as I see it as very applicable to the journey that I am on.  I hope her writing tugs at your heart as well.
I had a recent conversation that has been on my mind. I met a man who is a personal trainer and we were discussing health and nutrition. Since the summer I have been gradually changing the way I am eating to a more organic and whole food lifestyle. I have mostly given up wheat, sugar, caffeine and dairy. Along with that I have been learning to tell myself “no” and be more disciplined. I used to make a weekly exception for my decaf, extra-hot, non-fat, no whip, vanilla mocha, but then a dear friend encouraged me to step things up a notch. Now it is decaf americanos, which are fabulous by the way!

As I was talking with this man he explained the way he teaches his clients about nutrition. He asked if I like dogs. He explained that if I were to get a dog I would research, or talk to people and find out what the best food was to feed the dog. The dog does not care. It would happily eat bacon fat all day long but you love your dog and you give it the best food you can because that is what it needs in order to be healthy and live a long life with you. Then he said you should at least love yourself as much as you love your dog. It is not about discipline, it is about love. You do not restrict the dog from eating bacon fat because you are trying to discipline the dog for doing something wrong, or because you want to punish the dog. You don’t give the dog pans of bacon fat because you love the dog and it would cause harm. Likewise, I need to feed my body healthy food because it is what is best for my body, not because I am being disciplined or restrictive. I should avoid bad food because it causes me harm and shortens my life, not because I am being punished. The different perspective was mind blowing.

I then thought about the love of God. He does not ask me to live a restrictive life, He asks me to live a life that will be good for me. He loves me and does not desire to see me harmed. Left to my own devices I am quite content to sit down on the floor with my pan of bacon fat and eat away at it until my arteries are plugged because it tastes good. Why should I stop? I need direction to help me know that I am hurting myself by eating the wrong things. That is why God provides instruction. It is not about a list of things that I cannot do, it is about things that will break my heart, shorten my life, cause financial ruin and chain me down in addiction. It is out of love for myself and my God that I should enjoy the bounty he has provided me rather than indulging in things that might taste good but would be unloving to pursue because they will make my life worse. Be it nutrition, exercise, relationships, recreational activities, everything, it is not about disciplining myself but rather about loving myself. It is not restriction but enjoyment of things that make my life better. The point is Love.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October RAW Food Meetup Group

This month's RAW Food Meetup Group photos!


Massaged Kale Salad:

Romaine lettuce boats with guacamole and brazilian nut 'sour cream':

Can't remember the official name, but it was similar to mexican rice, although it was actually made from cabbage:


 Here's my dinner, part 1:




Here's my dinner, part 2.  At the top of the plate is a fresh tasting cauliflower salad with fresh herbs.  At the bottom of the plate is an amazing raw carrot cake...with raw frosting! - talk about delicious and perfect for my sweet tooth!!


New friends!  Me, Cindy, Mary and Jan.  Cindy made the awesome carrot cake!  I spent most of the evening talking with Mary and Jan, two amazing women who so willingly pour themselves into people like me who are trying to suck every bit of knowledge out of them!  I love hearing their stories and experiences.

Rawcipe: Massaged Kale Salad with Apple and Dates

I made this salad yesterday and brought it to my raw group.

RECIPE SOURCE:
Daily Unadventures in Cooking Blog

RECIPE TITLE:
Massaged Kale Salad with Apple and Dates

SERVINGS:
2
*This served much more than 2 especially since there was other food served with it.  It makes quite a large bowl full of salad.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 apple
  • 2 medjool dates *I used 4 dates
  • 1 teaspoon splash olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • pepper
Wash the kale and spin or pat it dry. Remove the stems and discard. Chop the kale into thin strips about 1/4-1/2″ long and put in a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and massage with your hands for 1-2 minutes. The kale should start to release a green liquid. Allow to sit for a few minutes while you prep the other ingredients.


Wash the apple and chop it into thin slices. Remove the seeds from the dates and cut into quarters lengthwise. Chop pieces into 1/4″ bite size morsels. *I cut the dates in half and then thinly sliced them to get more 'bank for my buck'.




Using a paper towel squeeze any excess liquid out of kale and transfer to a salad bowl, toss with apple and dates, drizzle with oil and vinegar and season with pepper. Taste and correct with acid, salt and pepper.


MY REVIEW:
  • I have never had a kale salad before b/c I've been afraid of it.  I put it in my green smoothies b/c then it's like a hidden ingredient.  Kale was intimidating to me b/c it can be tough to chew raw (meaning you could chew it forever), but that's the point of massaging it with salt - to loosen it up.  It also can be kind of bitter tasting.  I didn't find any difficulty in trying to chew it in this salad.  Success!
  • The apple cider vinegar is a bit much for me, but it does work well with the ingredients in this salad.  Next time I think I would just use less of it and use a bit more olive oil.
  • The apples and dates help give this salad some sweetness to offset the kale.
  • I'm no longer afraid of kale.  I would definitely make this again!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Random Updates

I have found that being around others lately has been a very good system for being held accountable in this new lifestyle.  I have found my mind wandering to rationalizations and possibilities of how I could deviate without feeling like a total loser.  That's not really a good sign, so I'm trying to nip that in the bud.  And I remind myself that I don't really want to do that.  I wonder why living a healthier lifestyle is so difficult.  Why do I desire to do things that I know are not good for me?  Well, obviously from a simplistic approach, food tastes good - especially goodies that aren't really all that good for you. 

I have truly grown to appreciate the simple, yet abundant flavors found in fruits and vegetables alone, yet the call of deep fried food and super sugary treats whisper my name.  Every day for 15 weeks now, between 3 to 6+ times a day I choose to ignore those whispers and have reaped the benefits of staying the course.  Like I've mentioned, I definitely haven't been perfect, but that is okay.  This is also a growth area for me as I expect perfection from myself and it has been hard to be okay with being less than what I want to be.

On a separate note:

For the next two weeks I'll be tracking every piece of food that I eat and then I will meet with Dr. Nutrition to review it.  I have found myself getting a bit more anxious about making sure I'm doing all of this in a healthy, good way.  I am concerned that I'm not doing it right. :(  I'm not exactly sure where this is coming from.  I just really don't want to do my body harm.  Dr. Nutrition keeps assuring me that I'm doing well, but we'll see what he says when he has actual data to base his opinion on instead of just my word.

Detox update:

I continue on my detox and haven't noticed any radical changes.  I think had I been on a SAD diet I would have noticed lots of changes (probably very similar to what I went through when I switched over to raw vegan).  I still feel good about deciding to do it even though I'm not experiencing 'fireworks' as I know that it is cleansing. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Birthday Dinner for Friends

Just over a week ago I had the joy of celebrating two of my girlfriends' Birthdays.  One Birthday girl, Ann, hosted and made a delicious meal for us.  She wanted to make a meal that I could easily eat.  It was amazing!  Simple, yet much more fancy than what I eat on a day-to-day basis.  For now, here are pictures and eventually I plan on recreating these and will post the recipes.

Dinner was a Tropical Salad that had romaine lettuce, mango, green and yellow peppers, cucumbers and macadamia nuts:


The dressing was raw also and some of the ingredients were lime juice, cilantro, cayenne pepper, olive oil and dill.  May sound weird, but it complemented the salad perfectly!


Here's the second Birthday girl Missi enjoying her dinner:


Then it was dessert time!  Here's Ann eating the leftover batter for Raw Chocolate Cookies. Some of the ingredients were cacao powder, peanut butter, agave syrup, vanilla and sea salt then dipped in almonds.  Can you say HEAVEN?!


We all ate the batter while we waited for the cookies to harden in the freezer.  I ended up taking some finished cookies home and stuck them in the freezer because the next day I started my detox and peanuts and peanut butter aren't allowed. :(  So they're waiting for me...

Amazing friends!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Use of New Dehydrator!

It came it came it came!...a few weeks ago. Dehydrating is a great way to get more variety in a raw vegan diet and I just knew I couldn't live without one!  The reason dehydrating is "allowed" is because if you use a temperature of not more than 105 degrees, it maintains the live enzymes in the food and so you don't lose any of the nutrients.  Isn't it beautiful??  It's a 9-tray Excalibur and is supposedly the best.  I have loved it thus far!



I recently winged my first attempt at using this.  I had previously looked at some recipes so I took some ideas from them and just went for it.  Here are my results:

POTATO CHIPS







STRAWBERRIES





BANANAS - my favorite!




Sorry, but I totally forgot to take a picture of the bananas after!

The food definitely doesn't taste like what you would buy at the store (b/c it's not dehydrated at as high of a temperature) and that's fine with me, but I definitely need to work on how to make the potato chips much tastier - they were much too starchy.  As I expirement I hope to do further posts!

Anybody have any great dehydrator tips and tricks? What has/hasn't worked well for you?

Week 13 Rawview

These are just some of the raw foods I ate this week:
Apples
Bananas
Broccoli
Carrots
Celery
Flackers (raw crackers made with flax seed)
Grapes
Nuts galore! (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts)
Potato
Raisins
Salads
Strawberries
Water, water, water

Emotional changes:
This week I've been "steady Eddie".  Ever since learning that I need to avoid gluten it has been much less appealing to even consider deviating.  It has given me that much more ferver.  However, I am definitely willing to make some, what others (and I) may consider, compromises.  When I say that I mean things like cooking some vegetables that I just can't stand to eat raw (like fresh green beans and potatoes) or every now and then steaming vegetables just because I want to.  I don't do that every day, but now, steamed veggies are like a treat to me!  Which is just odd in itself. :)  I am in the middle of working through how I truly feel about 'allowing' myself to do this, but at the moment I am okay with it and will continue processing what my path along this journey looks like.

Physical changes:
In this post I mentioned the details of a detox I started three days ago.  I think this is going to be fun!  I have never done this before and I am excited to see what will come of this.  So far so good!  Nothing radical to report at this time, since it's still so new.  I am ready to be cleansed!

I just realized I've never mentioned Dr. Ciropractor!  I started seeing Dr. Chiro last month and am SO glad.  I don't have back or neck pain or anything, but the spine is so intertwined and connected to the nervous system, which is the system affected by the MS.  Again, like I've said over and over, I am trying to get all my systems in perfect working order.

Nothing major to report this week regarding physical stuff - just plugging away with everything!  Oh, this week I hit the 30 pound weight loss; I guess that's kind of a big deal.

Pounds lost this week: 1.8
Pounds lost so far: 30.8
Average pounds lost each week: 2.4

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Official Detox

Yesterday I started an official detox plan under the care of Dr. Nutrition. I have known people that have done a detox and it usually involves eating only a couple of foods or eating no normal foods and just drinking various juices...and then visiting the bathroom frequently.  Sounds a bit like torture to me!  So when I asked Dr. Nutrition what I could expect and if I would feel sick, he said that I shouldn't feel sick and that if I'm visiting the bathroom too frequently, that I should cut back on the quantity of the powder of the detox drink mix he's given me.  Phew!

I'll start this post with the nitty gritty of the details of the detox, then get into more of the medical side of it.

NITTY GRITTY DETAILS
The goal of this detox is to provide the nutritional compounds and botanical extracts that are pivotal in the body's natural abilites to neutralize and expel toxins.  This particular detox plan uses an enzyme-based, multi-vitamin, mineral and herbal dietary supplement powder called ClearVite-SF (I am using the chocolate flavor).  I am also taking Metacrin DX and BileMin which are supplements for liver support and gallbladder support, respectively.

The 21-Day Detox Plan consists of a Preparation Phase, Detoxification and Completion Phase.  Through these phases you work your way up to taking more of the supplement powder and then back down again. 

Foods to avoid during detox:
  • Any food that you are allergic to
  • Dairy (milk, cheeses, yogurt, butter), eggs, margarine, & shortening
  • Foods prepared with Gluten-containing cereals like wheat, oats, rye, barley, those ingredients normally found in breads, pasta, etc.
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauces, corn.
  • Alcohol, Caffeine (coffee, black tea, sodas)
  • Soy or products made from soy, such as soymilk or tofu
  • Peanuts or peanut butter (*personally bummed about this since I have raw peanut butter every day!)
  • Beef, pork, cold cuts, bacon, hotdogs, canned meat, sausage, shellfish, meat substitutes made from soy

 Foods to eat during detox:
  • Drink plenty of fresh water (8-10 glasses), herbal teas, green tea, fruit juices (no sugar added), vegetable juices
  • Grain foods made from rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat,or tapioca
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables, beans (navy, white, red kidney, etc.), peas (fresh, split, snap)
  • Mainly fish (not shellfish), and moderate amounts of chicken, turkey, and lamb
  • Use mainly olive oil and flaxseed oil in moderation
*Bold items are ones that I will be eating.

As you can see, eating a raw vegan diet is great for this, plus it gives me a leg up on the detox process.  Ever since I started eating this way I have felt like I have been doing a detox of sorts. You can see the details of the official detox here at the bottom of the page.

MEDICAL SIDE
Here is an excerpt from the brochure about detoxification:
Numerous foreign and toxic chemicals (called xenobiotics) have been produced and released into our environment.  Cleansing the body from the accumulated xenobiotics and the excess biological compounds and metabolites (hormones, etc.) is known as detoxification.  The major detoxification reactions take place in the liver. The goal of detoxification reactions is to transform chemicals that are fat-soluble into water-soluble compounds.  Water-soluble compounds can then be eliminated through kidneys, skin, or gallbladder, in urine, sweat, or bile.  Secretion of bile is one of the major pathways of the body's detoxification.  Once the liver has detoxified xenobiotics and other toxins, the resulting coupounds are delivered to the gallbladder to be excreted with bile into the digestive system in order to be eliminated in feces.  Detoxification has shown to be extremely beneficial as a preventative measure for different health problems, or as a means to enhance therapeutic procedures for a variety of medical conditions.  The removal of these toxins from the system enhances the organs' ability to better absorb nutrients, improves biological functions, which, in turn, accelerates the healing process.

EXPECTED RESULTS
Per the brochure I have, an effective detoxification program results in:
  • More energy
  • Minimized minor aches and pains
  • Decrease in the level of major physical discomforts
  • Cheerful, positive mood

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Quinoa

Have you ever heard of Quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah”)?  I hadn't ever heard of it previous to all this.  It is a little miracle of a seed that I have found to be the perfect replacement for rice and couscous!  It is something that needs to be cooked, but I'm totally cool with that because it is the perfect thing for when I want that really full feeling.  Plus, it's REALLY good for you!


Its nutritional value is awesome - its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine (an amino acid)), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods.  It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.


I made some for dinner tonight and mixed in some broccoli - a perfect, light dinner!  Way better tasting and much better for you then what it reminds me of and what I used to eat: rice-a-roni type dish.


Here is the quinoa before it's cooked - very tiny little seeds:


Then when it's cooked, it expands and becomes translucent - it's pretty cool looking (the pix is a bit yellow):

Has anyone else tried quinoa before?  If so, what did you have with it?

RawResources

I recently added some links on the right hand side of my blog that may be of interest to you.  One section is for books/cookbooks, the other section I added is for blogs/websites I've found to be extremely helpful.  I will keep adding to them as I go along and find additional useful information that's worth sharing.  There are many, many more resources out there that I haven't mentioned, but not all of them are to my personal liking.

Here are some resources that have been extremely helpful to me.
  • Valley Natural Foods Co-op
    This grocery store has been a lifesaver for me!  Not only do they have all the food I need, but the staff is very helpful when I'm trying to find something that I've never even heard of before...like organic Nama Shoyu (which I found out is a raw soy sauce).  They work with local farmers to get fresh, organic produce and I can taste the difference!
  • Any Phyo's cookbooks and website
    Her website and cookbooks have given me recipes to try.  Her raw food kitchen cookbook isn't just a cookbook - it's very educational and has taught me a lot about the raw lifestyle.  They have given me a place to start and also given me inspiration to start creating my own recipes.  It has been very helpful!
  • Twin Cities Raw Food Meetup Group
    I remember using google to try to find some type of group where I could meet other people like me.  Since I am new to all this, I didn't even know where to start.  Boy am I glad I found this group of people!  People that come to the monthly meetings are all at different stages of raw vegan living.  Some strive for 100% like me, others do a smaller percentage of their diet raw, others want to start or get back into eating raw and others are just looking into it because they're curious.  How it works is that everyone brings a raw dish (or even just some plain fruit or veggies) to share for dinner and then we get to eat lots of goodies, learn new recipes, and talk raw for a couple hours.  I have been to three of these meetings and it has already helped me a ton.  It helped confirm the changes I'm making and also gave me a wonderful group of people that I get the pleasure of getting to know.
  • Green Smoothie Queen
    If you've been keeping up on my blog, you'll know exactly who this is!  This is the website where I learned to fall in love with green smoothies (green leafy vegetables blended with fruits).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Green Smoothie Queen - Day 3

This is the final post of the Green Smoothie series!  I would be very interested in hearing if anyone tried one (or a few!) and what you thought.  Feel free to leave a comment and share!

If you missed the Introduction post, you can read it HERE.
If you missed the Day 1 post, you can read that HERE.
If you missed the Day 2 post, you can read it HERE.
 
Content taken from my emails from the Green Smoothie Queen:



DAY 3: GREEN GRADUATES GALORE!

We often get notes left on the teacher's desk, and I thought I'd start off our final day together by sharing one with you. This is a letter received from one of my Challenge participants:

Dear Green Smoothie Queen,
My first day was an adventure. I love greens, but haven't been able to tolerate them in smoothies in the past. For breakfast, I had a repeat of my first ever green smoothie: a bunch of Swiss chard, a banana, some water and a teeny bit of Stevia. Very green. Perhaps more fruit would help, but it was good.

For lunch I had the same (Swiss chard, banana, water, Stevia) but I added half an apple. This was waaaay too sweet and still too "green". Soldier on!

Tonight's smoothie (still finishing it up now) is made up of Swiss Chard, 2 kiwis and half an apple. A little thick, but very tasty. And filling! Best one yet for sure.

Tomorrow I'm going to try a berry one. So far, so good! Oh, and I haven't had to eat anything BUT the smoothies because they are so filling. I'm not even hungry!!! I've washed my blender and my smoothie is almost gone, but I promise I'll take a picture of my berry green smoothie tomorrow morning!

I would NEVER have even TRIED this without you! How cool.

Ellen,
a 'virgin' green smoothie gal


THAT's why I do this! It makes me all slooshy and goopy inside when I realize that one more person has done something new, something healthy, something exciting for herself (or himself!) and is opening new doors on their own that will improve the quality of their life.

So THANK YOU for being here. Thank you for letting me encourage and inspire you (and I sure hope that I am!) Someday (like maybe about 11 days after you sign up for my 10-Day Green Smoothie Challenge?), maybe you'll be sending me a letter like Ellen's!

But before I spray more happy heart-pus all over you, I should mention that I have a BIG SURPRISE waiting for you in the classroom today!

Oh you're just gonna luv me for this one!



The Green Smoothie Queen









Gather with the Graduates in The Emerald Lounge!

Week 12 Rawview

These are just some of the raw foods I ate this week:
Apples
Bananas
Carrots
Celery
Flackers (raw crackers made with flax seed)
Grapes
Kiwi
Nuts galore! (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts)
Peanut Butter (made with just peanuts (and no added sugar, etc.) - go figure!)
Raisins
Strawberries
Water, water, water

Emotional changes:

Something just "clicked" for me this week.  I tend to be a very concrete person, so it is annoying to me that I cannot pinpoint exactly what makes me have a 'good' week vs. a 'bad' week.  I know the last three weeks have been difficult for me and I think that my efforts in meeting with professionals to help me along my journey is really starting to pay off. 

I had been feeling like a failure lately because I wasn't able to stick as closely to the raw vegan lifestyle as I had been previously.  Then, I also let myself become too enamored with the weight loss aspect, so since I haven't lost weight the last three weeks, I again felt like a failure. 

However, this week the emotional aspect shifted!  I feel like I did before I had this set back.  This week I have been focused solely on nutrition.  I haven't been wishy washy like I have been lately.  A friend told me that true change doesn't happen without some form of 'relapse'.  There's supposed to be a struggle.  I think that's what's been happening and I am ready to persevere.

Physical changes:

I was advised by my nutritionist to avoid any gluten, which you'd think would be easy with the raw vegan lifestyle!  However, when I would deviate, bread/crackers were usually where I would go FIRST.  So, now, with this new piece of information, it is definitely not even as enjoyable at all to deviate if I can't even have gluten (which is like, in everything!).  So this has made it much easier for me to just stick to it.

I have also been working really hard at eating every two hours to help my blood sugar levels stay...level. :)  I leave the house in the morning with a cooler full of food and now I REALLY feel like I'm eating all the time!!  This has definitely helped me stay focused better throughout the day.  I am not used to eating when I'm not hungry so this has been a bit of a stretch for me.

I had some follow up bloodwork done on my liver since my previous levels from August were so abnormal.  The results have much less to do with my eating than with the fact that I haven't been on the medication that was causing the problems in the first place for three weeks.  Within just three short weeks of being off the med, I am very happy to report that my liver enzymes are back down in the normal range!!!!  This is a huge relief to me.

The weight loss this week has been minimal, in fact the lowest it's been this entire time.  My competitive side is frustrated that now my average pounds lost each week is much lower than previously.  I think that now I just have to wait for my body to catch up to my mind!

Pounds lost this week: 0.8
Pounds lost so far: 29.0
Average pounds lost each week: 2.4

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bloodwork Results

So this whole raw vegan thing is leaking into other areas of my life.  I thought it would only effect my food intake.  Boy was I wrong.  It has made me rethink a lot of what I do - like what I put on my skin as far as lotion goes, my overall internal health (hence meeting with a nutritionist) and so much more. 

Another large area that it has impacted is how I approach dealing with the MS.  Aside from the obvious (to me) physical symptoms I have had over the years, I have had NO IDEA what it was doing to the inside of my body (aside from doing damage to my brain and spinal cord).  I never fully realized what having a chronic illness can really do to your body.  My body is constantly trying to fight off this 'disease' and it always loses.  Maybe I can help it out by making the changes I'm in the process of making.  I want to help my immune system fight this battle!

Today I met with Dr. Hartman (nutritionist) again.  We discussed a few things, so here's the recap.  We more closely examined my bloodwork and these are the trouble areas:
  • Cholesterol, Triglycerides and LDL were high (ironic, huh, given my diet? and the fact that I have had good levels for years - although he did tell me that other factors of my health are more likely the cause of this)
  • Glucose is too low - i.e. hypoglycemia (this is why I need to eat every two hours)
  • WBC (white blood cells) are too low (very typical of someone who has a chronic illness)
  • Neutrophils are low (this is connected to the low WBC)
  • SGOT (AST) is high (this is a liver enzyme and is most likely because of a previous medication I was on for MS)
  • SGPT (ALT) is quite high (this is also a liver enzyme and is most likely because of a previous medication I was on for MS)
  • GGTP is very high (this is an enzyme or protein made by cells lining the bile duct, which is sensative to any inflammation in the liver - again this is most likely because of a previous medication I was on for MS)
  • Total Bilirubin is high (again, this is related to the liver issues)
  • Sodium is one point higher than normal (supposedly connected to some of the other stuff going on)
  • CO2 is too low (this is connected to energy, i.e. glucose, so it makes sense that this is low as well since my glucose is low)
  • BUN is too low (again, connected to the low liver levels)
  • Phosphorus is low
A lot of these items are connected to one another and are further complicated because of the MS running through my system.  I just don't want to get into the detail of it all here.  One thing I will say is that it more fully hit me today how upset I am that a medication I was taking to help the MS, didn't actually help me and in fact, it has hurt my liver function, in addition to related functions.  So in my qwest for better health, I can't help but deal with all areas of my health, not just the food.

So this week I am beginning to take fish oil and also Glutathion (which is in a lotion/cream form).  I need to have some additional bloodwork done to fine tune the regimen for the immune support I mentioned in my previous post so I anticipate getting started on that in the near future.  These last few months have been a very, very good opportunity for me to practice my patience!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Green Smoothie Queen - Day 2

So I have gotten off my original plan and want to keep going on the Green Smoothie series I started posting...

If you missed the Introduction post, you can read it HERE.
If you missed the Day 1 post, you can read that HERE.

Content taken from my emails from the Green Smoothie Queen:


DAY 2: WHEN FRUITS AND GREENS SAY, "I DO"!

So how did it go? Did you stick one hand in your fruit bowl and one hand in your crisper and make your first Greeeeen Smoothie?

Was it yummy? Was it yucky? Or was it somewhere in the middle ... kinda "yum-cky"? You know ... not every green smoothie turns out. Oh boy, I remember some of the doozies I made in the beginning, especially with greens I'd never tried before. Here's a little hint: tear off a bit of the green stuff and chew it to see how it tastes on its own before you add it in. Then you'll have a better idea of how much to use. And when you're first starting, simpler is always better ... just try recipes with two or three ingredients.

You'd be amazed at how different one batch of kale can taste from the next depending on where it's grown, whether it's in-season or not, or how long it's been in your fridge (or the store where you bought it). One thing's for sure, each green smoothie you make - even if you use the same ingredients - will taste different!

Today I'm going to tell you about my favorite common ingredients to start out your green smoothie escapades. All you need to do is click below:

CLICK HERE Day 2!

Soon you'll be like our green smoothie veterans, and you'll be ready for your first 10-Day Green Smoothie Challenge!

Have a great day at school my bright little Brussle Sprout!

The Green Smoothie Queen








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Saturday, September 11, 2010

No-Nonsense Nutritionist

Yesterday I had an appointment with Dr. Hartman who is a nutritionist.  It was my initial visit with him so it was overall more talk than action or decision making, but we had a great conversation - I learned a lot.  I briefly shared why I was there to see him - I want to do whatever I can to get my body in optimal working order to help with the MS and I also want to make sure I am doing this whole raw vegan thing in a correct, healthy manner.

We discussed the foods I eat and the changes that I have experienced. I'll be honest, I have had some concerns along the way for sure.  I have asked myself the same questions that many people have asked me.  Where do I get my protein?  (How important is protein anyway?)  What other nutrients am I missing out on?  Am I eating enough?  Should I be eating other types of foods that I am not? 

I was so worried that I would get reprimanded by a nutritionist for going raw vegan (since I'm missing like over half of the food pyramid!), but I got the complete opposite reaction!  YAY!  There was a small piece of me that hoped he would hear my story and say that I should add bread, pasta, whole grains, etc., back into my diet.  Then, with a clear conscience, I could eat more of the things that I had been craving recently.  That obviously backfired on me! :) ha!  He was impressed and proud of me for making these changes and told me to KEEP IT UP!!  So I'm keeping it up!  Especially now that I have someone to help guide me along my way so I don't get lost.  I have to say, though, that I am quite pleased that I just dove into this in the first place.  I think it was good that I took that chance and just went for it even though I was uncertain.

After I had given him a summary of why I was there, he told me that I am a "breath of fresh air".  I suppose most of his patients come to him because they HAVE to, not because they WANT to.  I am definitely in the want category.  He had SO much to say to me, that his mouth opened, but no words came out - he was that excited about it! :)  I told him to spit it out and that I was ready to hear what he had to say.  He laughed and said that he just had SO much that he wanted to share, he didn't even know where to start! 

MS INITIAL THOUGHTS:
He went on to talk about how he could help me with the MS and the various supplements available and the goals he would have in helping get my auto-immune system back in tip top shape.  All natural and seemingly pretty uncomplicated!  (Although I'll learn even more next week.)  So far, these are the specific pieces to help with the MS:
  • Vitamin D (which I'm actually already on, but we'll work on making sure it's the correct amount)
  • Fish Oil
  • Glutathione (still working on learning about this one!)
  • Immune Support (also still learning about this one!)
  • Eat a Gluten Free diet (yay!  I already do this one! :) )
RAW VEGAN INITAL THOUGHTS:
Now, regarding the raw vegan diet - this will be discussed in more depth next week as this appt. focused more on the MS side of things.  First of all, Dr. Hartmann said that 30% of my calories for the day should come from protein!  MUCH more than I ever thought and knew (see my previous post about FAQ's).  I'm TRYING, by drinking my dark, leafy green vegetables in green smoothies and by eating nuts.  But he said for the time being I should definitely eat even more nuts than I already am.

I'm sure you've noticed via my blog that I've had a rough past couple of weeks.  I have been struggling with truly sticking to the raw vegan plan, have felt boughts of tiredness throughout the day and have lost absolutely no weight.  Now this is a doozy...

I need to eat more frequently.

What has happened over time is that as my body adjusted to having a drastically lower calorie intake, my stomach didn't seem to need as much food.  So I would eat less and less because I wasn't hungry.  It didn't seem quite right to me, but I figured since I wasn't hungry, why should I eat?!  Well, these last two weeks are a prime example of why I need to eat even when I don't feel hungry.  So the plan now is that I eat every two hours no matter what - even if it's just a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit, but something to get my blood sugar and glucose levels back up.

No wonder I have been constantly fighting the urge to go get non-raw foods!  My body just wanted the calories and the energy!  Like I mentioned, this didn't happen in the beginning b/c my body was still in transition, but now that it has been 11 weeks, I think my body has really adapted to the raw vegan diet and now my brain just has to follow. :)  Again, I have to readjust my thinking and approach and how I look at this new lifestyle.  Sometimes it hits me just how much I didn't know what I was getting myself into!

I'm pretty sure there will be additional bloodwork and other tests to figure out the details so we can fine tune my nutrition plan.  Dr. Hartman is a wonderful man and I am so blessed to have found him!