Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nacho Kale Chips

Nacho Kale Chips 

One large bunch dinosaur kale, aka lacinato kale
1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 6 hours and rinsed
1 cup hemp seeds
the juice of one lime
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 whole Anaheim pepper, seeded
1 tsp lemon pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
enough water to help the blender get going and create a smooth coating; up to one cup
South African Smoke seasoning blend (from Trader Joes)

Wash the kale and dry slightly. 

Blend all ingredients except African Smoke seasoning in a high speed blender until creamy. 

Massage the mixture into each kale leaf.  Lay the kale leaves on dehydrator screens lined with teflex sheets.

Sprinkle some freshly ground African seasoning blend on each of the kale chips.

Dehydrate on low, about 110 degrees for 8-12 hours.  Then peel each kale chip off the teflex, flip them over and place back on the screen.  Continue drying until they reach desired crispiness.

Tips:  As far as I can tell, hemp seeds do not require soaking.
If these aren't hot enough for you, substitute the Anaheim pepper with a jalapeno pepper, or add a jalapeno to the existing recipe.  
This can be a messy job.  I find it helps to lay out the dehydrator trays ahead of time so they aren't handled with goopy hands.  In order to determine how many trays are needed, I lay the kale out on the trays before coating them.  We like to wear food handler's gloves while massaging the coating onto the kale.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cherry Carob Durian Pudding

Cherry Carob Durian Pudding

This delicious, satisfying dish has the "jello wiggle" without the jello.  We savored every bite!

1 large ripe durian, flesh removed and seeds discarded
4 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced, pit removed
1/2 lb ripe, pitted cherries
2 ripe bananas
1/3 cup (heaping) carob powder or to taste

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and puree until smooth.  Serves 4 very generously.

The durian can be a bit of a challenge.  It's a bit hard to find although some Asian markets sell them.  The first time we bought one, we tried to cut it open while it was still green.  Wait until it's a golden color.  It smells funky, however the other ingredients in the recipe will completely cover the smell.  I personally cannot eat durian fruit by itself, however, in recipes like this one it is pure heaven.

The durian fruit has five pods, each one containing the pudding-like flesh.  The first time you open one, it's a good idea to get a friend to help.  One person can hold the fruit open while the other scoops the pulp out of the compartment.  And then you can both laugh about how smelly it is.  Here is a video demonstrating how to open a durian:
Here is a video commenting on the taste and smell of the durian:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Caulflower Popcorn

Raw Vegan Cauliflower Popcorn

Thank you Dara Dubinet for the inspiration for this recipe:

1 head cauliflower, cut into slightly larger than bite sized pieces

Mix into a 1 cup measuring cup:

Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup
(if you wish to go 100% raw, puree the liquid ingredients with a date or some raisins)
1 tbsp olive oil
enough water to make 1/2 cup total liquid

whisk in:
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
pinch pepper

Toss the cauliflower pieces in the marinade.  Sprinkle 3 - 5 tbsp nutritional yeast over the mixture while stirring and tossing the cauliflower.  You will notice that the mixture will begin to thicken and cling to the cauliflower.  Stop adding the nutritional yeast when the cauliflower is well coated.

Marinade in the refrigerator overnight, then place in a dehydrator on a low temp for 12 hours.

Note:  An option is to  just add the nutritional yeast to the marinade and then coat, but I prefer to coat with the yeast separately.  In fact, next time I plan to try marinading the cauliflower without the nutritional yeast, then adding the yeast right before placing in the dehydrator, to see if that deepens the flavor.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 12 of the Garden Diet: Food As A Sacrament

The second week of the Garden Diet is lighter, more cleansing.  It leads up to a one-day water fast, and gently eases back into solid food.  It can be a profound experience.

On the day before the water fast, I struggled to adjust. The food was much lighter than it had been in the previous week.  I kept reminding myself that the empty feeling is good and stayed busy to avoid thinking about food.

Yesterday, day 11, the day of the water fast, was a cause for celebration.  My husband cut one of his meds in half!  We talked about his upcoming birthday, and decided that instead of celebrating with food, we would find other ways to celebrate.  The food will be whole and fresh and delicious, because that's what raw food is.  It just won't be fattening.

The water fast experience was not as difficult as I thought it would be.  It took some will power, and I did need to plan ahead.  But I would definitely do it again.  It's actually a restful experience.

So today is day 12 of 28 days.  We are easing back into solid food.  My husband and I joked last night about how we would race each other down the stairs this morning, knocking each other down to be the first in the kitchen, inhaling the watermelon before we could get it into the blender.

Of course that's not how it happened.  He made the watermelon smoothies and opened the coconut while I juiced the carrots and beet so he could take it to work.
I know a few people who don't fast or juice feast because they wish to avoid uncomfortable hunger pangs.  If they asked me about it, I would say, "Don't worry.  You'll live, and you'll actually appreciate food more."

One of the things that made the water fast easier was the knowledge that I would eat again the next day.  Some people don't know when their next meal is coming or from where.  There are so many truly hungry people in the world.  The next time I feel tempted to eat too much or when not hungry, I hope I will remember that.  Moms will tell kids to clean their plates and think of all the starving children in Africa, but maybe it's also true that I could teach my children to avoid overeating for the same reason.

This morning I stepped on the scale and found that my weight is lower today than it has been for ten years.  It's well worth a bit of discomfort.

Everyone needs to take their own path to get where they need to be.  I'm really glad that when we decided to go raw in May, we took baby steps.  We started with one raw meal a day.  SAD (standard American diet) food was okay as long as we didn't bring it in the house.  The recipes we made at first were heavier, richer raw food recipes, like layered lasagne with three different kinds of nuts.  It had everything that was attractive about SAD food, yet as we continued to be raw, eventually SAD food lost its attraction.  Weight loss was minimal, only 10 lbs (with fluctuations) in three months, but effortless.  Had we just stayed in that space, it would have taken at least a year to lose the weight.  But it wasn't about the weight then, probably because I had resigned myself to the way things were.  This is definitely taking things up a notch.  If we stay on this track, it will all melt off in two months.  I'm not sure I could have done this without spending that time preparing.  But this is definitely good and right.

As I sipped the watermelon juice after a day of water fasting, I realized how truly heavenly it tasted.  It reminded me of the  harvest celebration feast we sometimes like to have around the fall equinox.  We like to create a meal of the bounty of the local harvest.  Before we eat we give thanks for the earth that provides the food and the people who grow it.  We try to eat the meal mindfully, as a meditation, focusing on our interconnectedness, experiencing the food as a sacrament.  I felt that deep connected feeling while sipping the watermelon this morning.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fasting, hunger, deprivation, food insecurity and orthorexia

Hunger can be an uncomfortable topic.  According to the USDA Economic Research Service, 14.5 percent (17.2 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2010.  Food insecure households are  defined as households which at times during the year were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.  According to World Hunger, this could be extrapolated to mean that each day 100,000 children go to bed hungry in the USA.  We've all heard reports in the media about elderly people going for days without food.  Even many young adults who do not qualify for assistance and can't find a job have to do without.  Last week, my boys went into a men's room at a grocery store.  When they came out, one of my sons told me they saw a filthy elderly man shoving a bagel in his mouth while standing in a toilet stall.  I told them he was hungry.  He couldn't afford to pay for the bagel, and he didn't want to get caught eating it.

We all know about the kind of hunger that is caused by famine, war, poverty, disasters and poor food distribution, leading to starvation and death.  The idea of hunger has negative connotations.  We must avoid it to survive.  But for those of us who are struggling with weight issues, is this really true?  Is it harmful to tolerate mild feelings of hunger?  Maybe the feelings of hunger that we experience when we smell the aromas from a fast food restaurant is a deception.  Obviously, we aren't experiencing hunger on the scale of someone in need.  Maybe we are experiencing a sort of withdrawal from sugar, salt, fat and MSG.  Maybe when we pay attention to our body's signals, we can be a bit more discerning.  It doesn't mean we don't need any nutrition - we just need good nutrition.  Maybe we can sit with the hunger for a while, wait a bit, drive by that restaurant and go home to the clean salad waiting for us there.

And maybe when we feel full and satisfied after eating a SAD (Standard American Diet) meal, perhaps that feeling of satiation is also a deception.  Have you ever seen an obese woman at the grocery store?  Tiredly pushing the cart, wandering up and down the aisles, searching, searching. . . .  She is obese, yet she is starving.  She is having trouble finding what she is searching for, because she won't find it in SAD food.

Recently I saw a blog post by a raw vegan who prefers to fast 16 hours per day.  This means that her last meal of the day is mid-afternoon.  She eats twice daily, and gets everything she needs.  She probably gets more actual nutrition than that hypothetical lady in the grocery store, even though she eats much less.  In contrast to the grocery store lady, she says she has plenty of energy.  This isn't a temporary cleanse; this is her lifestyle.  If that is the best way for her body to process her nutrients, then good for her.  I don't think I could do that, but I could stop eating after 6:00 p.m.  I may even be able to gradually train my body to go without food for longer periods - if this is what is best for my body.  But what is best for my body is not necessarily going to be what is best for others.

Yesterday, I mentioned to my husband that next week, the food on the 28 Day Garden Diet program was going to be lighter.  He looked a bit unsure.  I decided I would make sure that there were plenty of tasty fruits and vegetables on hand to help him get through it.  Of course he can eat whatever he chooses.  We are blessed.  And I have seen that his waist size is getting smaller, heard him say that his blood pressure is improving.

Today, Jinjee from The Garden Diet posted a terrific article about orthorexia, which is defined as an obsession with avoiding foods that are perceived to be unhealthy.  The thing that I find obnoxious about the term is that I disagree with their definition of "food."  If most of the ingredients are manufactured by a chemical plant, it's not food!  If it once had a face, it's not food!  I'm not avoiding food; I'm avoiding non-food.  I've eaten too many non-foods already.  I'm taking what hasn't been working for me, and changing it to something that does.

Another problem that I have with this idea of orthorexia is that when we are experiencing mild hunger pangs, it can seem like we are obsessed with food.  When we are the person in the household who plans, shops for, and prepares the meals - and we are on a weight loss plan, it can certainly feel like we are obsessed with food.  By their definition, anyone struggling to avoid the proven health consequences of SAD are orthorexic.

Obviously there is a difference between taking one's own health into one's hands to be healthy, and having control issues concerning food that lead to poor health.  But the question is not, "Are my eating habits conforming to social norms, and do they meet with the approval of friends and family?"

Instead, the question is, "Am I healthy?  Am I happy?  Am I at the ideal weight for my height?  Am I strong and relatively resistant to infection and disease?  Do I sleep well at night and function well during the day?  Am I managing stress?  Am I at peace?"

Update:  Here's a pretty good summary of the orthorexia question on Real Raw Results. 

Edit added July 29, 2013:  I was confused by things I had read about othorexia, because it sounded to me like it meant that anyone who eats something other than the mainstream Standard American Diet is being marginalized and labeled "crazy."  However, I am currently taking some MOOC nutrition courses, and according to one instructor, this is not the case.  In order for a person to have othorexia, they need to be so obsessed with healthy eating that it negatively impacts their quality of life.  In other words, their diet may be perfect, but the obsession is causing too many problems in other areas of the person's life, such as job and relationships.  So, if a person is a raw vegan or is otherwise eating a healthy diet, and the food lifestyle is not an obsession that leads to other problems, then the person is probably not orthorexic.  

My husband and I have adopted the raw vegan lifestyle to improve our health and to help reverse symptoms commonly attributed to the aging process.  It has been a challenge to make the change and stop eating certain familiar SAD foods.  I'm learning to not be freaked out when I feel hungry.  In fact, to a certain extent, I'm making friends with mild feelings of hunger.  When I feel hungry, I feel thankful that I am hungry out of choice.  I know that I will eat today.  I don't have to eat calorie and fat- dense food, but can bypass those and make healthier choices of nutrient-dense foods.  Thousands of years ago, hunter-gatherer humans might have had to fast for days while searching for food.  One of the documentaries, maybe "Forks Over Knives" or "Food Matters," made the point of saying that humans are designed to seek out calorie dense food and eat our fill of it.  It helped us survive when food was scarce or intermittent.  But when food is in plenty, it only causes obesity and helps the fast food corporations make more money.

The hunger I feel when I bypass SAD food on the way to a tasty raw vegan meal is not REAL hunger.  Real hunger is malnourishment.  I'm going to eat less, and give back more.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 4 of Garden Diet and How Did We Get Here?

Yesterday was a fantastic day.  I loved how simple the meals were to  prepare, exercised for an hour and enjoyed my family.

We did listen to an hour long school presentation at a Baskin Robbins.  My children ate ice cream, I did not.  It didn't bother me in the least, surrounded by people eating ice cream.  I wasn't even tempted.  Things got a little intense as we went shopping later.  In the grocery store there were all sorts of food smells, particularly fried chicken which seems to really get to me.  At home, we could smell a baking cake or cookies coming from one of our neighbor's homes.  I was ready for this - it seems the day after eating SAD, (Standard American Diet) the smells of baking, frying and caramelizing  foods are particularly compelling.  It was easy to overcome this because we were so well nourished with delicious raw vegan food.  I simply acknowledged the SAD cravings without giving in, and ate the good food we planned for ourselves.  I think of our raw vegan food as "spa food."  It's different than SAD food, but just as special as a gourmet steak dinner.  Wait.  Not "just as special," MORE SPECIAL! 

This morning I was done with all meal prep and cleanup for the day before 8:00 this morning.  I love that.  There will be no wandering into the kitchen at 3:00 this afternoon, confronting the question of what's for dinner.

How great it would be, to make three tasty meals a day, never spending more than an hour a day in the kitchen, except maybe on the weekends when the whole family can get involved?

This blog is supposed to be about a family of four exploring the raw vegan lifestyle for a summer, but today I'd like to explore my weight, health and happiness.

I am humbled by the people who struggle and lose 100 lbs. or more.  They are heroes.  As I write this I only have 40 lbs to lose.  It seems like a lot to me but when putting it in the proper perspective it isn't that much.

At my peak, I was 60 lbs. overweight.  How did I let that happen?  I was thin most of my adult life.  Sixteen years ago, I was skiing, playing tennis, rollerblading, hiking and biking.  I was healed and free from an abusive relationship with an ex husband and newly in love with the man I am married to now.  I had a career, a job and a lifestyle I loved.  I was mostly vegan except for honey.  I felt on top of the world.

So what happened?  Life happened!

We had a few devastating blows in our life.  We weren't expecting them, because we were healthy and strong, taking necessary precautions and playing by the rules.  Since then I have learned that devastation visits everyone in some form at one time or another.  The key is to be ready.  I wasn't.

One of our children was born with a random, life threatening genetic birth defect which caused many complications and will affect him for the rest of his life.  I gave up my career to care for him.  My husband was laid off and we went through all of our savings.  Those were just a few of the challenges.

I think part of our weight challenges had to do with having a baby with failure to thrive and frequent illnesses.  We were always trying to put weight on him.  Our youngest child, my husband and I gained all the weight instead.  Part of it also was that I decided since I wasn't bringing in a paycheck, I would become the Queen of Frugality.  I made sure we ate plenty of cheap food.  I knew several ways to prepare boxed macaroni and cheese.  When my husband was laid off, we ate a lot of instant ramen.  Unfortunately, cheap food is loaded with artificial flavors, preservatives and coloring and with plenty of hydrogenated fat and simple starches, but not a lot of nutrition.  In order to be nourished, it's necessary to eat too much of it.  We were undernourished and overfed.

I must admit that a part of it was allowing SAD food to comfort me in the times of grief that we experienced.  It's easy to do, allowing those heavy doses of calories, fat and MSG to dull feelings of pain.  I am a survivor of many things. Life is certainly not perfect, but I am happier and more blessed than at any time in my life, loved and in love, surrounded by bliss.  I do not need a crutch.

And here we are.  Learning to eat nutrient dense food, and recognizing that we don't need to eat nearly as much as we are accustomed to, if the food is clean and nutritious.      

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 3 and Mock Coconut

The photo is of a raw carrot cake topped with mock coconut.  The recipe for mock coconut is down below.  The recipe for raw carrot cake can be found here.

Yesterday was a very busy day. It started off pretty well.  I actually got in about 45 minutes of exercise before 11:00. 

My 12 year old son was dancing in a flash mob, so we were rushing around to leave the house in time for an appointment for one son and dance rehearsal for another.  We ate our delicious raw vegan sushi lunch, and then packed our raw dinner salads to go in a cooler along with several bottles of water.

The flash mob took place at an outdoor community festival in over 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  There was entertainment, community booths, and free food.  One of our "raw food rules" is that if we are out in public and free food is offered we can choose to eat it (or not) as long as we don't bring it into our home.  It works because it doesn't happen that often.  We figure that even some occasional SAD (standard American diet) food is better than what we ate before, which was all SAD, all the time.  So we lined up in the Panda Express line, where they were giving out  boxes of food.  My intention wasn't to eat any of it myself.  The portions weren't as big as a normal sized Panda Express meal, but for someone who hasn't been eating SAD much all summer, they seemed very generous.  Both kids chose one, which I thought was really awesome because one kid has oral praxis and is learning how to eat in occupational therapy.  When you have a disabled kid, even SAD food is better than NO food.  Then he grabbed another.  It's not a discipline problem; his condition has some similarities to autism and he often has difficultly with the finer points of social behavior.  Once you touch it they won't take it back, so I gave it to my husband.  Then of course, my son who has the medical issues decided he didn't want to eat his, so guess who did?  I did!  The simple fact is that I couldn't see wasting the food. 

By the time we left, I had a blinding headache from the heat, despite drinking a lot of water.  I went to bed early by my normal standards, and woke up feeling fantastic, determined that today will be a better day.

Today we are going to a Baskin Robbins for a meet and greet with the teachers of the online school my son will be attending this year.  The ice cream will be free.  I will NOT eat any.  It won't be a problem, because if my children do accept an ice cream, there is no danger they will refuse to eat it.

Some raw foodists may wonder why I still occasionally eat SAD food or allow my children to eat it.  I do agree that in a perfect world, our food would be raw all the time.  The community festivals will serve raw food options and the ice cream parlours would serve fresh raw fruit, frozen and blended into delightful parfaits.  Even the Mexican taco trucks would offer tacos of fresh raw veggies wrapped in lettuce "taco shells."  But that isn't the world we live in.

Yesterday our family ate both raw and SAD.  This morning I served them whole raw soaked oats blended with a banana and a fresh peach.  Their mid-morning snack will be fresh grapefruit.  Later my sons will probably have ice cream, but I'm serving kale in a raw vegan smoothie for lunch.  One day my son will leave home and every day he will have to make his own food choices.  Rather than making all of his choices for him, I'd rather teach him how to think for himself.  In my case it's easier for me to make all of his choices for him, but not good for him.   

As we go on our raw journey, I realize that this summer will only be the beginning.  When we started in May, we were committed to eating one raw meal each day.  Now it's August and SAD food is the exception rather than the rule.  Perhaps one day we will completely give up SAD food for life.  Each morning I will get up and do my best to live healthfully, set a good example for my children, and teach them to think before they act.  It gets a little easier each day.

One of my kids has a mild allergy to coconut and a couple of other nut types.  He doesn't have a severe reaction - he just gets a minor scratchy throat from it.  Coconut oil and coconut water doesn't bother him - just the flesh.  So I've been trying to come up with alternatives.  Recipes calling for raw coconut flesh can be substituted with zucchini.  But the dessicated coconut shreds have been a problem until now.  Only real coconut tastes exactly like coconut, but this is an acceptable alternative.  A better quality coconut oil will give this a delicate coconut flavor.

Mock Shredded Coconut

1 jicama, peeled and shredded
1 tablespoon coconut oil, (another oil may be substituted if necessary)
1 tablespoon agave nectar

Toss the shredded jicama in the coconut oil and agave nectar and place in the dehydrator on a mesh screen.  Dry for about 24 hours at 112 degrees.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Raw Vegan Chunkeee Monkeeee, and Two Fabulous Things To Do With Zuchinni

First, it's day 2 of the Garden Diet, and so far I'm loving it!  Today, we prepped breakfast, lunch and dinner all at the same time.  Lunch and dinner are currently chilling in the fridge.  It can't get any easier than that.

For me, the most challenging thing about being raw is feeling like a complete beginner in the kitchen again.  My bread baking and potato frying skills are not relevant here.  The oven is full of ripe peaches and the microwave is full of clean pyrex dishes because we aren't using those appliances.  Forget all the years I spent honing my skills developing the perfect rib sauce.  Now the whole family is developing new skills and trying new foods.  Good thing I love a challenge!

Here are two easy raw zucchini recipes that will come out perfect every time and taste just like familiar cooked food.  But since the veggies are raw and living, the nutrition is intact. 

Raw Vegan Zucchini Hummus

This recipe is adapted  from "The World Goes Raw" by Lisa Mann.  It's filled with great ideas!

1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked in water for 4 - 6 hours, rinsed and drained
6 cloves garlic

1/3 cup olive oil
1 large lemon, juiced

3 medium zucchinis, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped (or one large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped)

1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dulse granules

Place the sunflower seeds and the garlic cloves in the food processor with the S blade, and run it while drizzling the olive oil into the mixture. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and continue until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Next add the vegetables and spices and process until creamy again. Finally, add the lemon juice and process until well incorporated.    Taste test and adjust as needed.  If it's too thick, add more lemon juice and olive oil as needed.  Serve with fresh veggie sticks.


I was surprised that this recipe called for steeping the veggies in hot water.  In Jennifer Cornbleet's original recipe, she placed the veggies in the water, brought the water up to a boil, removed the pan from the heat and let the veggies steep in the hot water. I poured hot water from a teapot over the veggies and was very pleased with the results.  The veggies are somewhat softened, but still raw and flavorful.  You can use any mixture of veggies you like, but the zucchini is highly recommended for the noodles.  Here's our adaptation:

3 medium zucchini, peeled
1/3 cup chopped dried mushrooms
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/4 cup minced onion
2 tbsp miso
1 tsp Braggs Liquid Aminos
Hot water

Using a spiralizer, a mandolin or a vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini into long thin strips like noodles.  Place the noodles with the rest of the veggies in a medium saucepan with a tight lid. Whisk the miso and Braggs with about 1/4 cup of hot water, and pour over the veggies.  Next, pour hot water over the mixture, enough to make a soup and cover the veggies, but not too much.  Stir, cover the pot and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.  This recipe made about 3 generous servings.

Even though we are living a raw vegan lifestyle, I do have a special place in my heart for Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey Ice Cream.  But we aren't eating that right now.  In fact, we aren't even eating this raw vegan version right now - it's for special occasions and it is not a diet food!   The raw vegan version isn't going to taste exactly like the original version, but it is scrumptious. When we made it, we used regular organic chocolate chunks because that's all we could find that day, but in a perfect world we would make this with Sacred Chocolate. 

It's so easy you won't believe it!  Start prepping this about 6-8 hours before you plan to eat it: 

4 large, ripe bananas
1/4 cup whole walnuts
1/3 cup raw vegan chocolate chunks

Peel the bananas, cut them into pieces, and place them in the freezer.  Place the walnuts in about a cup of water, and refrigerate them.

About six or eight hours later, your ingredients are ready.  Blend the bananas until they are creamy.  Drain and rinse the walnuts, and fold them them into the bananas with the chocolate chunks.  Serve immediately.  This will serve four people generously.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Garden Diet, Day 1 and the Top 6 Obstacles To Raw

I'm so excited!  After 75 days of being mostly "high-raw" with very pleasing results, we have decided to go on Storm and Jinjee Talifero's Garden Diet 28 Day Transition to Raw!

Even though we've already been raw for about 10 weeks, this will help us take our summer project to the next level by adding exercise and positive reinforcement to what we are already doing.  They provide shopping lists, menus and easy recipes, and I'm thrilled that the planning will be done for me.

I'll be posting a little bit each day on our progress.  Yes, I know I've been saying it's not about weight.  And I still don't feel that losing weight is a priority for its own sake.  It's just that health IS the priority, and weight is part of it.  Today my weight is only down about 8 lbs from where I started, but my clothes are much looser.  My husband is down 15 lbs. too.

Today I'd like to list our Top 6 Obstacles To Raw, and what we do about them:

1.  Social pressure:  There are times when we are out somewhere, and people are serving food.  They expect us to eat.  We don't feel like discussing our dietary preferences all the time, mainly because the discussion can become awkward.  The best way to handle this is to eat before going out so as to enjoy the time with friends without feeling hungry in the presence of food that we choose not to eat for health reasons.  In this way it's possible to truthfully say that we are full. 

Because we are high raw rather than 100% raw, it's okay with us to occasionally eat some cooked food, even some non-vegan food, and OH THE HUMANITY - junk food!  I have found that it isn't the end of the world when this happens.  The worst thing that I've experienced is not feeling so hot the next morning, a bit like having a hangover.  We just get up, enjoy our juice and smoothies, and start fresh.  It doesn't happen often enough to be a problem.

2.  Poor planning:  Sometimes we have found ourselves miles from home, ravenous, and nothing but SAD (Standard American Diet) food in sight.  In those times, if we are hungry enough and it isn't practical to leave, we make an exception and eat what is available.  The obvious solution is to do a better job of planning next time. Basically, if we are planning to leave the house for several hours, it's necessary to bring a cooler full of fruits and veggies!  But if it happens again, we aren't going to beat ourselves up over it.

3.  Raw food doesn't taste, smell or look like SAD comfort food:  That first serving of "neat loaf" may look a bit scary. No matter how skilled the raw chef, raw vegan lasagne doesn't look or smell exactly like a traditional meat and cheese cooked lasagne complete with pasta made from semolina.  The only solution I have found is to soldier through it, try the new flavors, and develop the raw food preparation skills.  Not every recipe is going to be successful every time.   Approach it like the first time you tried sushi, and keep an open mind.  I find that as my taste buds adjust, I actually prefer the flavors of raw food.  I don't see the benefit in having my taste buds trained to prefer unhealthy food, do you?  And of course salads are still salads, which means that most of us are already eating some raw food.

4.  Cooked food cravings:  Once after dropping off one of the kids at the library, it occurred to me that I could swing by the drive-through at KFC on the way home and no one would ever know!  The idea of inhaling greasy fried chicken tormented me the entire 15 minute drive.  The one thing that saved me from a heart-stopping tryst with Colonel Sanders was the knowledge that we had a batch of "eggplant bacon" at home.  I thought about that eggplant bacon, and scooped up a handful as soon as I was in the door.  What works for me is to have some sort of healthy alternative treat on hand.  Other foods that have helped include a cup of warm herbal tea with a drop of honey, a refreshing glass of cucumber mint water, raw peanuts, or a big juicy apple.

5.  Organic Food is expensive.  This is a big one.  When we started this, I was determined to keep our budget under $140.00 per week for a family of four.  I haven't hit that goal once since we started.  In fact, most weeks we've more than doubled it.  We've lowered some of the cost  by getting some of our food from Bountiful Baskets and signing up with a local organic farm - we pay them for several weeks up front and pick up a bag of produce once a week.  Still, because we can't afford 100% organic, more than half the produce we buy is not. That's just going to have to be good enough for now. 

Another solution is to grow your own.  We put in several tomato plants, harvested about 20 tomatoes, and then they died.   Other people do successfully raise food in this heat, but we haven't figured it out yet.  We are simply doing the best we can.

One thing I try very hard to do is to not let any of it spoil.  If something looks like it's about to turn, it goes into the next smoothie before it does.  Fortunately we have a dehydrator, so if we have too many bananas or onions or even fresh herbs, we dehydrate them to be used later.  Anything we don't have to throw out is a cost savings. One time we had a huge durian catastrophe, but apart from that we've been pretty good.  (If you think durian smells funky, wait until you let it spoil.)

I try to keep in mind that we either pay now or we pay later.  Processed foods might be cheaper, but they were gradually making us sick.  My baby brother died two years ago from a sudden heart attack.  You can't get more real than that.

6.  Family traditions:  In our home, if you are a member of this family, on your birthday you get to choose whatever meal you want for your special day, and we will cook it for you.  So if you choose lobster, we go out and buy a lobster and if necessary we will buy a lobster pot too - even if we are only going to use it the one time.  This is the rule in our house.  Fortunately, no one has asked for lobster - yet.  But last week when my son turned twelve, he asked for organic grass fed beef burgers and red velvet cake.  And that's what he got.  Fortunately, he ordered it with asparagus, veggie kabobs, and he allowed me to make an almost- raw vegan version of Chunky Monkey Ice Cream.   And yes, I had a burger with my family.  It was my first serving of meat in more than two months.  I was concerned.  Would I get stomach cramps?  Would I grow horns and become a drooling, meat eating monster?  Would I die from guilt?  No.  None of those things happened.  I just got up the next morning and made some green juice followed by a smoothie.

So how are we going to deal with the family traditions?  We are simply taking it one day at a time.  Every day is a new opportunity to be our healthiest.  In time, maybe even our most cherished family traditions will become healthier too.

Come back tomorrow, and I will share three of my favorite easy raw recipes, including raw vegan Chunkee Monkeeeeee!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Raw Vegan Freebies!!

This page is devoted to listing all the free information I can find about the raw vegan lifestyle.  I will add new information as I am aware of it, so if you come across something that should be included here, please let me know.  Files are not listed in any particular order.

First, below is a list of organizations that offer a free mini ebook or PDF file about the raw food lifestyle if you provide them with your email address and sign up for a newsletter, many of which include offers to buy their products.

In my opinion, in some cases the newsletters are as valuable as the PDF files.  These free gifts are an effective way for people in the raw food business get the consumer familiar with them and what they have to offer.  You'll have to decide for yourself whether it's worth it to give out your email address and receive the emails in exchange for these freebies; in my case I've been enjoying both the freebies and most of the emails!

I have signed up for all of these, and they have all honored their agreements with regard to the use of my email address.  I have only requested that one stop sending newsletters, which they promptly did.

Check back from time to time, because this post is updated on a regular basis.

Free Ebooks and PDF Files: 

Subscribe to the newsletter at Ascension Kitchen and receive a free ebook, Electric Smoothies.

Holistic Nutritionist Chris Kendell at Raw Advantage offers two free ebooks for joining his mailing list.

Simone at The Raw Warung offers a free recipe ebook for signing on to her newsletter, which is about Indonesian raw food.

Roger Haeske offers a a free newsletter and a free 31 day raw course on his website. 

Rocking Body Raw Food is a one month raw food online bootcamp, including recipes and how to videos.  Sign up for emails and receive two free ebooks.  

Sign up for Chad Sarno's blog and get a free PDF herb and spice guide.

The Raw Foods Witch is offering three free ebooks:  Five Witchy Ways To Eat More Veggies, 28 Desserts You Can Eat Every Day, and 11 Snacks to Silence Your Stomach, plus a 5 week course on eating raw for beginners called "Feel Light Take Flight," and a weekly email called "The Cue," containing tips for living raw.

Rawmazing is offering a free handy pantry list for signing up for their newsletter.

Go to the Renegade Health website and receive a free PDF copy of Kevin Gianni's ebook, "High Raw." 

Join the raw social network Raw Food Rehab  and get the free recipe ebook, "It's Easy Being Green,"  filled with smoothies, salads, soups, snacks, main courses and desserts.  About 21 recipes in all. 

Sign up for Fit Curvy Raw's Fruity Fitness newsletter, and get the free 7 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse.

Sign up with Ravishing Raw and get the ebook RAw For 3 Days!

The Fresh Network, publishers of Get Fresh, a raw vegan magazine, offers a free back issue.

Funky Raw Magazine also offers a free sample download of their magazine.

Living Foods Magazine is offering a free PDF.

Free ebooks: "Around the World in Ten Easy Recipes," "Introducing Easy, Indulgent, Raw Chocolate," and "Shine on Raw, Your Guide to a Living Foods Kitchen" all for signing up for the newsletter at uncooking101.   

Frederic Patenaude offers three short ebooks, "The Ten Deadliest Mistakes Made by Raw Foodists," "Four Steps to Achieve Your Ideal Weight," and "Easy Raw Food Recipes"

Karen Knowler, "The Raw Food Coach" offers ten free recipes in the ebook, "Go Raw For a Day."  If you try the recipes and write about it on her I Went Raw For a Day facebook page, she'll send you ten more free recipes.

She also offers a free food groups poster.

Jenny Cornbleet, of "Raw Food Made Easy", offers a free ebook, "How To Go Raw For a Day."  There are also many wonderful recipes on her site.  This is not the same ebook as the one offered by Karen Knowler.  I like both of these equally.

Sign up for the Garden Diet free daily inspiration newsletter, and get a free download containing 75 recipes.

The Rawtarian offers an ebook of 11 free recipes.

Russell James, the Raw Chef, will send you a collection of his favorite recipes for free.  There are also many terrific free recipes on his site.  Scroll down the page and see his 6 recipe ebooks.  Click there, scroll down on the new page, and see where you can select your price.  You choose what to pay - $50.00, $25.00, or $10.00.  This recipe collection is excellent, and for ten bucks even people on a tight budget can afford it!

Sign up for Dan McDonald, "The Life Regenerator's vlog, and see three videos of his favorite recipes, plus receive a handy download of his "raw foods shopping list."

Sacred Chocolate offers a free raw chocolate ebook and a 10% off coupon.

The website Raw Pleasure offers a free ebook if you sign up for their free newsletter.

UK-based raw food author Shazzie offers free gifts for signing up for her newsletter.

Get a free Nourishing Wisdom workbook from Nourishing Our Radiance  by Natalia KW and Melissa Geiger M.A.

Subscribe to Girl On Raw and get a download of free recipes.

Free Raw Food Class

Huge Raw Vegan Recipe Collections:
/  (this one has a terrific search feature)  (go to recipe section)
Spark people has a recipe section and if you type "raw" into the search bar, you'll tap into their ever-growing raw recipe collection:

This blog is no longer being updated, but some of the recipes look pretty good:

This one isn't huge yet, but it's new and I have high hopes for it.  It also has a terrific section on raw food safety:

Not all the recipes here are raw, but this is my go to site for raw truffles and homemade raw Lara bars:

Recipe Search Engine: appears to be gone.  :(

Here's a giant list of cool raw people  (in no particular order) to visit online for inspiration, recipes and/or product offers:

Marni Wasserman isn't 100% raw, but she does advocate whole foods:

Raw Vegan Radio Downloaded to Itunes

Raw Food World Radio Show:

Online Magazines:

No recipes, just basic information about superfoods:

Really great raw lifestyle blogs:

(Note:  Not all of these are 100% raw or vegan - some add cooked vegan or even paleo foods - but they still contain great info) all raw but some raw recipes)

These blogs are about a wider range of topics, including raw or health foods:

Raw food online communities:

Not everyone here is raw, but this is a great place to learn how to get maximum use from your Vita-mix:  

Not free but cool anyway:

Gourmet Raw Food Pastry Chef Chaya at Living Vision offers her exceptional recipes for a price.
Raw Reform's Wedding Recipes: