Friday, December 28, 2007

The Holidays Simplified

Though we missed our families, who were 1000s of miles away, we didn't travel over the holiday season. While it's always worth it, traveling home is a hectic ordeal, and this year we avoided that stress.

In addition, we created a spreadsheet to keep track of what we bought, for whom, and at what cost. That way we were able to stay within our budget, avoid charging anything, and finish the season without that sick what-have-we-done feeling that comes from spending more than you should or buying gifts no one will remember. Every present we purchased was something we thought the recipient needed or wanted. We called some friends and said, forget gifts. Let's get together and enjoy each other's company instead, and we made dates to do just that.

What does this have to do with being Raw? Well, for us part of the beauty of Raw Food is it's inherent simplicity. While I'll never give up the occasional Raw gourmet dish, a bowl of apples and figs is a simple pleasure I can't resist. It's wonderful to find that more relaxed and appreciative attitude touching other parts of our lives.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Raw Christmas?

No, we didn't have a Raw Christmas at our house. My girls (and LB and I) are very big on tradition, so it was cooked pancakes for breakfast. We had dinner with our friends and neighbors, who prepared absolutely everything for us. They know we're mostly Raw, and they made an amazing salad, but the rest of the meal was definitely cooked. I have to say honestly, it was all delicious.

Lately our Raw eating has been down around 75%. I was okay with that for the short term, but I definitely felt the difference: lower energy, needing more sleep, a loss of the feeling of lightness that comes with High Raw. I'm moving the percentage back up starting today.

I've tried a few Raw recipes that I haven't had time to post, including onion bread, zucchini bread and Raw granola. I loved them all, so I'll post more about them now that the holiday rush is behind us.

Hope everyone's Christmas was as much fun and as relaxing as ours was!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Let Your Food Be Your Medicine

A week or so ago, one of my closest friends (okay, he's my ex-husband) called. He sounded incredibly bummed out, which isn't like him. Usually, we spend the first 5 minutes of a call joking around and teasing each other, but this time he was all business. My first thought was that one of his parents wasn't well. After all, they're getting up there in years and have suffered various ailments.

I wasn't too far off. He'd called to tell us his doctor had diagnosed him with diabetes. He's 44 years old. My mother and stepdad didn't get it until they were in their fifties, but my Ex is at least 75lbs bigger than he was when we married 17 years ago. And of course, all that extra fat is concentrated in his gut, the prime spot for feeding diseases of obesity. He told me that his doctor identified him as pre-diabetic last January and gave him a diet to follow, including a list of foods to eliminate. The list included bread and rice. He's from Honduras. They have tortillas and/or rice with EVERY meal! When I made spaghetti for this guy, I had to include a plate of starchy white rice on the side.

The doctor's orders seemed unrealistic, so he chucked the list and kept on doing what he was doing. The result was a fasting blood sugar level of 351. (Normal range: under 100) He's promised to test regularly, to exercise and to start eating better. If he didn't live on the other side of the country, I'd stick my nose in and start feeding him Raw foods (not sure his wife would like that). From here, all I can do is nag and make suggestions and hope this is the only wake up call he needs.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Trouble with Dehydrators

I've been using my Excalibur a lot lately--to hasten the marinating of greens and broccoli and onions and mushrooms, to prepare breads and crackers, and to try out new recipes that wouldn't be possible without that box hulking on my kitchen countertop.

So what's the problem, you ask? Almost everything I prepare in the dehydrator is too delicious to wait out the long dehydration times! Every couple of hours, I find myself taking off the cover and reaching in to sneak a pinch. Worse yet, the girls have developed the habit of doing the same. (Okay, that's really a terrific thing, since it means they're snacking on healthy stuff.)

At this moment, a batch of Kristen's Chewy Bolder Boulder Granola is just about ready to flip. The question is: how much of it will survive the process without meeting my greedy fingers?

From the Mouths of Babes

Wonder Girl was feeling less than wonderful, so she spent the day lying on the couch watching videos. The last couple of weeks have been really busy for her, so she deserved a bit of R&R.

When WG asked for lunch, I wanted to give her something yummy that would support her immune system and help her feel better. I settled on Raw marinated collard and mustard greens with onions. (Some Raw folks think of onions and garlic as toxic, but I buy the data that says they have antiviral and antibacterial qualities.) Though she likes lots of my concoctions, she's not a mostly Raw kid, so I was happy that she didn't approach the meal with skepticism.

As I served up her second helping (at her request) Wonder Girl spoke up. "Mommy, I challenge you to make Raw onion rings."

Oh, innocent youth! Doesn't she know I have a small library of Raw "cook"books, not to mention the links to all the best sites for Raw recipes? Soon, and very soon, we shall feast on Raw onion rings!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Keep It Moving

I'm fortunate to be one of those people who enjoys working out. Even at my fluffiest, I worked out most days, going for walks or jogs, riding my stationary bike, or enjoying the ache of muscles slightly sore from weight training. Still, Lovely Boyfriend and I both have careers that lend themselves to sedentary days. Working from home, we could easily limit our movements to the steps it takes to get to the coffee pot and back.

Recently Connie over at Naked Food Cafe posted the link to an article about a recent study which concluded that being sedentary has more negative effects than simply minimizing calories burned. The bottom line according to this research, is that the enzymes responsible for burning fat quit working when we sit down. They don't kick back in until we get up and moving.

My trusty old treadmill has been rigged to allow me to work without sitting down. With a cheap piece of shelving from the hardware store and a few zip ties, I've set it up so that as I'm typing this, I'm walking at a slow pace on an incline. I don't use this feature as often as I should, and it certainly doesn't replace my focused workouts, but I have to believe every little bit counts.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Progress Report

Lovely Boyfriend is safely home (Hooray!), and I landed somewhere near my goals while he was gone. While I didn't cut coffee back to every other day, I did completely switch to decaf. I planned to get in 8 twice-a-day workouts. I managed to do 5 of those, and I'll definitely mix them into my weeks in the future. Less easily quantifiable, I did manage to eat more simply, but I probably had a bit more cooked food than I usually would.

I discovered something: it's easier for me to be more Raw when LB's around. He acts as my sponsor when I want to eat something really bad, reminding me of my priorities (health and fitness) and encouraging me to eat the less than healthy stuff in moderate amounts. That's all great, but even more important, it's just more fun to prepare meals for someone besides myself. Even a simple meal of apples and dates, or figs and Raw cheese is more enjoyable to prepare and to consume when I'm not doing it alone. Sure, the girls will indulge in some of my Raw foods, but they don't always have levels of interest or enthusiasm that inspire.

If you're trying to lock in healthy habits, consider partnering with someone, even if all you're doing is exchanging recipes and meal plans by email, or checking in to see who's getting their workouts done. It might give your efforts the boost they need.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: 3 large oranges
1 small handful Raw Granola

Snack: 1 apple & 2 dates
1 and 1/2 cups coffee (DECAF, non-raw)

Late Lunch: salad of cucumber, onion, garlic tomato & avocado, drizzled with olive oil
1 glass kombucha

Snack: small bowl of marinated broccoli
This was supposed to be my dinner, but I made the mistake of offering the girls a taste, and they devoured most of it. Fierce Teenager said, "In a normal American house, this would be steak we're fighting over...or cookies." To which I replied, "Well, I'm not exactly known for being normal." Both girls nodded in matter-of-fact agreement!

Dinner: 1 apple, 4 dates, Raw Breakfast Crusts with Raw Cheese

Monday, November 26, 2007

Progress Report

Today, I definitely met my goal of eating more simply. I also got in 2 workouts: 70 minutes on my stationary bike, and later, a session training abs, biceps and triceps. Unfortunately, I've barely been sleeping over the last week. LB's been travelling, and knowing he's not downstairs in his room, where he should be, makes it nearly impossible for me to sleep soundly. I drift off later than usual and then wake up every 1-2 hours. Most days, sleeping-in isn't an option either.

Predictably, I can feel myself fighting off some kind of sickness, as always happens when I don't get enough rest over an extended period of time. My throat is scratchy, my head aching. Hopefully, my body's defenses will be strong enough to fend off the assault. I have a long list of projects to tackle in LB's absence, but it's hard to get to them in this state. For now, I'm happy just to meet my day-to-day responsibilities.

We can only do what we can do. Right? Tell me I'm right!

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: 1 glass kombucha
1 very sweet, dense and satisfying cantaloupe

Snack: 1 and 1/2 cups coffee (DECAF -Yeah!, non-raw)
1 large sheet of carrot & flax bread. Yesterday, I had an idea to make a Raw version of my girls' favorite, carrot souffle. I didn't bother measuring-just processed some carrots, threw in ground flax seed, some vanilla, cinnamon & agave. I loved it. The kids not so much. They still want Raw stuff to be very much like cooked counterparts.

Lunch: salad of marinated collard & mustard greens, avocado and tomato
1 glass kombucha

Dinner: 2 cups broccoli
2 tbsp hummus (non-raw)
1 Raw burger patty (I forget the brand, but I buy them at Mother's Market.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Eating on Autopilot

Have you ever found yourself picking the crumbs off your plate, not knowing where the slice of pie went? Ever caught yourself with a mouthful of doughnut and wondered, how'd that get there? Ever reached into a bag of chips only to discover you've already polished off the all the contents?

Today Fierce-as-in-Fabulous Teenager brought home a plate of birthday cupcakes. (Happy Birthday, Fierce Teen!) Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing should hold no sway over me, since I'm not a particular fan of the dark brown stuff. I can leave it more often than I take it. Had they been Red Velvet or German Chocolate Cake, I would've committed fully to eating and enjoying one. Instead I found myself engaged in a heated phone conversation and wondering how the plate of leftover bits of cupcake ended up in my lap! I mean, it was only chocolate, after all.

Oh, well. At least I got in two workouts today--45 minutes on the stationary bike and an hour on the treadmill. Finished the day with a yummy kale salad, reminding myself to eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and be aware of how much I enjoyed the meal.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Where Did All the Candy Go?

So here in the U.S., we've made it through Thanksgiving, the one day a year that it's socially acceptable, even expected, that we'll release our inner gluttons. Christmas is just around the corner, and everywhere you go there will be pretty tins of cookies, and chocolates and even old-fashioned hard candies. But speaking of candies, what's happened to your kids' Halloween candy?

Are they still munching a piece here and there every day? Packing some in their lunch box? Begging you for just one more lollipop before bedtime? If your kids trick-or-treat, how do you handle the bucket of sugar they bring home?

This year, Wonder Girl was allowed to keep exactly 1 pound of the candy of her choosing. Tough trade-offs were made, but she managed. Out of that pound, she's shared with friends and family, so that she doesn't eat it all. She's also been limited to 1 piece each day. The additional 3.5 pounds, I bought from her at $3/pound.

Yes, I threw it out. Yes, some would consider it wasteful, but I'd rather it be wasted in the garbage than on her teeth, and in her belly. I suppose I could've just forbidden her from making the rounds with her friends, but it seems a bit extreme to take from her something that only happens once a year and which will be a shared childhood experience with most every other kid in the nation. She's homeschooled, which means she won't have 1st day of kindergarten pictures, or field trips on the big yellow bus to remember. I'm glad I let her have trick-or-treat with the other neighborhood kids. Still, I'm even happier that the highly refined and processed, lab created, "treats" are just about gone.

A Happily Quiet Thanksgiving

Most years we return home to Virginia to celebrate Thanksgiving. My extended family has a very traditional meal in a house filled to overflowing with aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. There's always too much food, most of which isn't great for you. We love it!

This year the girls and I stayed home. Since LB's traveling, it was just the three of us. The house seemed exceptionally quiet. We watched a video of Fly Away Home, a film about a girl and her dad rescuing a group of baby Canadian geese, as well as a mini-marathon of Run's House, which I love, because it's a silly reality show, but totally appropriate for all ages. We even played Wonder Girl's current favorite board game, CashFlow for Kids. The girls spent as much time in the kitchen as I did, and we prepared many of the foods we love, a few Raw, most not. This year, we only made enough for one round of leftovers, and in some cases, made healthier versions of favorite dishes.

It was a quite, modest Thanksgiving celebration. I loved it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Meeting Goals

Yesterday, I ate all over the map, snacking on such a wide variety of foods, I could barely keep track. It was mostly Raw, but the grab-and-go method wasn't very satisfying. In the early afternoon, I spent an hour powerwalking on the treadmill at its highest incline and worked abs and shoulders. (My treadmill is over 10 years old, and if I try to run on it, it shuts off!)

After a busy day, I got home at 9:45 at night. I was tired, but I wanted to achieve my goal of two-a-day workouts. Luckily, I had recorded The Biggest Loser. (Okay, so reality tv can be pretty hokey, but beyond the competitive aspect, this show inspires.) I jumped on my stationary bike and pedaled 20 miles while I watched. Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Winter Blues

I love getting my weekly basket from the local organic farm, but as the weather grows colder, the basket includes more and more items that cry out to be cooked. I still get lots of yummy greens to eat in a salad or smoothie, and I can handle making chips from the zucchini, but my one attempt at Raw yam chips yielded less than palatable results, and no Raw food enthusiast would advise eating uncooked white potatoes.

The cool weather doesn't do anything to shore up my determination to eat mostly Raw. (Mind you I'm filing this complaint from Southern California, where the coldest temperatures so far have been in the low 50's.) I hate being cold, which is one of the main reasons I continue to pay a premium to live here! I've successfully weaned myself off caffeine, but most days I still want decaf coffee, just for the warmth of the mug in my hand and the way drinking it warms my body, however temporarily.

It's important to me that I stay mostly Raw through the winter, because I have no intention of giving up the benefits I've enjoyed thus far. But dang! A few more 70 degree days would make it much easier.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Nonexistence of Perfection

There are some gurus and extremists out there who say you must be 100% Raw vegan or your health is damned, you're a bad person and you can expect misery for all your days. While I love Raw food and think it can solve myriad health problems, boost energy levels and simplify life, I don't tend to agree with the extremes of anything.

If you're a parent whose family eats a SAD (Standard American Diet) and you're concerned for your children, please don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to perfect their eating habits (and yours) in order to make a difference in their health, fitness, weight, or activity levels. You can make gradual changes, still rely on the occasional pizza, and improve things for your kids.

Why not start with one simple change? When your kids want a snack, they have their choice of fruits or vegetables. That's it. All you have to do is make sure there are fruits and veggies on hands, especially the ones you know they like, and discreetly dispose of the unhealthy snack foods on which they might otherwise rely. For younger children, you might also decide that, for the short term, they must ask permission before serving themselves. That way you'll be aware of what they're eating as their idea of a snack transitions from highly processed, additive heavy, boxed products, to the good stuff that God gave us to thrive on and enjoy.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Progress Report

Achieved three goals today:

2 workouts (am - 1 hour, stationary bike; pm - abs, biceps, triceps) I was very close to missing the mark on this one. At 9 this evening, after a draining day, there were many things I'd rather be doing, but the weight training went well, and I felt much more calm when I was done.

No coffee! This is significant, because I had NO headaches & will likely have decaf at the workshop I'm hosting tomorrow.

Ate very simply.

Not impressed? That's okay. These aren't the most ambitious goals, but if I manage them, they'll improve my habits in the short-term and my self-discipline in the long-term. Health and fitness can be difficult to maintain, not because they're inherently complicated, but because most of American society is constantly tempting and cajoling us away from healthful behavior. I'm fortunate to have people around me (online & a few in the real world) who are constantly learning in this area, and supporting my efforts in the process. Good luck to everyone on a similar path!

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: 1 pear, 1 baby Gala apple, 2 pieces Raw French Toast
1 cup tea

Lunch: same as breakfast

Dinner: dried figs, raw cheese

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cinnamon-Orange French Toast

I came up with this last night based on this recipe. The original didn't have explicit directions, so I winged it. I loved the result! Though it definitely didn't have the typical french toast texture (likely due to not knowing the exact procedure to follow) it's much better than Raw bread products I've purchased in stores, and so simple!

Cinnamon-Orange French Toast

1 cup flax seeds
juice of 3 oranges
1 handful raisins
a few shakes ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 and 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp raw agave (since the brand I buy claims not to be heated above 118 degrees, I'm considering it Raw)

Grind the flax seeds in a coffee grinder. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Spread on one paraflex sheet and dehydrate at 105 for 2 hours. Flip onto mesh screen and dehydrate 4 more hours. (This last step may have been what robbed me of the fluffy texture, since the original didn't call for flipping.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The New Deal

Lovely Boyfriend's out of town. My custom is to work on some kind of improvement project while he's gone. This time, in addition to my around-the-house list, I'm doing some self betterment.
  • I will only have coffee every other day (easy to say, since LB always makes it).
  • Inspired by Kristen, I'll do 2-a-day workouts 5 days/week.
  • More of my meals will be simple.

To some of you, this probably all seems like easy stuff to accomplish. Maybe it will be, but I'm expecting it to help me to develop more self-discipline. Don't get me wrong; I'm no laggard, but I know I can accomplish much more, if I train myself to buckle-down further. Besides, I want to face the holiday onslaught with as much strength as I possibly can.

Raw Food Friendly

The other day, LB and I made a late evening run to our local health food market. We're really making an effort to eat primarily from our CSA basket, to save money, to avoid wasting food, to force ourselves to have more organic/local food, and oh yeah, to save money. While we were trying to make some decisions on prepared Raw foods, another shopper asked if we were on a Raw Diet.

We told him we were, and he told us of his experience with Raw--100% for a couple of months, a wife who thought it was sort of crazy and frustrating, falling away from Raw, and trying to transition back. We gave each other our recommendations for Raw foods, websites, restaurants and stores. It was a cool, spontaneous conversation with a guy we'll probably never see again. The thing is, it wasn't really unusual. It seems that whenever we're in a Raw restaurant or in that part of a store, friendly conversation ensures. Sure there are zealots out there who want you do do Raw their way or no way, but for the most part, it's a community of people interested in sharing ideas and supporting each other. It crosses race, ethnicity, socio-economic and religious boundaries in the pursuit of health, energy and joy. How cool is that?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gone Raw - Missing You

Am I the only one missing gone raw terribly? The raw vegan site, which has been down for the last few days, is my go-to resource when I don't know what to do with a particular ingredient, or when I'm looking for a new recipe to try. The moderated forums are a great place to ask questions you might feel stupid asking somewhere else. Though it can be slow-moving at times, is really well-designed, unlike other sites, which I gave up on because they were too tangled and difficult to navigate.

I really appreciate the work that Kandace & Ray put in to building and maintaining this amazing Raw resource. I can't wait until it's back up and running.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Surviving Starbucks

This evening I had to drive up to L.A. to bring Wonder Girl to theater rehearsal. Normally they meet on Saturdays and Lovely Boyfriend does the chauffeuring, but as opening night draws nearer, rehearsals become more frequent. Unfortunately, the only place reasonably nearby where I can wait is a brand new Starbucks.

I'm trying to break my coffee addiction, so I planned to order tea. It still has some caffeine, but doesn't have the same effect on me. The trouble came when I saw the salads in the cold case. I wanted one!

I set up my laptop and arranged my things, all while debating the salad.s I decided to take a closer look at them while ordering my drink. Good thing I did. Each salad (and the sandwiches, as well) contained a loooooong list of ingredients, most of which you can't pick out of the garden. I left them where they were, though the couscous salad looked , well, not exactly yummy, but desirable.

I just finished one of the very ripe pears I brought along for dinner. It was exactly yummy.

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: leftover cole slaw, Raw Breakfast Crusts topped with Raw cheese
1 cup coffee (non-raw, mostly-decaf)

Snack: a few maple-cinnamon flax crackers
These were my 1st attempt at making flax crackers in the dehydrator and it was super-easy. I soaked the flaxseeds for a few hours, then mixed in agave, cinnamon and a dash of maple syrup (non-raw). Wonder Girl and I loved them. LB thought they'd be good with some Raw cheese, and Fierce Teenager thought they were "boring," yet she somehow couldn't stop eating them.

Lunch: salad of carrots, radishes, celery, tomatoes, avocado and red peppers

Snack: 1/2 persimmon & 1/2 pomegranate

Dinner: 1 pear, Raw Breakfast Crusts, Raw Cheese
1 cup tea (non-raw)

Kale Salad

These aint your momma's greens! (But they're just as tasty!)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Snack: last bit of leftover Kale Salad

Breakfast: Raw Apple Pie
1 cup coffee (half-caff, non-raw)

Lunch: 1 Raw Taquito with mango salsa and 1/2 avocado

Snack: samples of the mix I threw together for my 1st attempt at flax crackers

Dinner: cole slaw of shredded red & green cabbage, chopped red and green apples tossed in Kristen's veggie marinade

Dessert: 1/2 cup coffee (non-raw, but we're out of decaf!)
1/2 "Mega Oh So Fudgie Raweo cookie" from Blessings Alive and Radiant Food in Berkeley, CA
This was a good dessert, but honestly it was just a big, flat chocolately macaroon. That isn't a bad thing, cuz I like macaroons more than oreos, but I'm just saying.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kale Salad: Much Better Than it Sounds!

When I was a kid, my mumma would pull frozen green blocks out of the freezer. They'd either consist of broccoli, which I could tolerate, or kale, which left me sitting at the table, rearranging my meal in different patterns, hoping she'd be convinced I'd consumed enough of that vile side dish. She'd drop the icy rectangle into a pot of hot water, then force it upon us.

Mumma was a Home Economics major (and later a lawyer), so she was determined we'd eat from the four food groups. Unfortunately, this usually meant a vegetable that was cooked beyond recognition, as was customary in American cuisine at the time. She didn't even have the decency to throw in some fatback or ham hocks, or top the mushy mess with some cheese--none of that unhealthy fat for her family.

Until recently, I hadn't touched kale since I was forced to at least pretend to eat it, but now it arrives almost weekly in the basket of fresh organic produce we get from a local farm. I've thrown a few leaves in smoothies, but the flavor is so strong, I can only use a leaf or two in a 6 cup smoothie. Luckily, I discovered Adventures of Raw Goddess Heathy, and her Marinated Greens recipe. I left out the tamari (because I don't have any) and the garlic (lately raw garlic is too intense and lingering for me) and cut back on the nama shoyu a bit. Even with these tweaks, the result was fabulous!

The kale marinated overnight, and was served topped with red peppers and avocado. I had to yank my bowl back from Wonder Girl. No more wasted kale!

P.S. I have a lovely photo, which the temperamental Blogger won't allow me to post. Later!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Back in Action

While I was out today, Lovely Boyfriend printed out my new ebook, Kristen Suzanne's EASY Raw Dehydrating, and read through it. He was happy to share what he'd learned about some Raw basics, like the proper way to store various produce, not something most men learn growing up.

Spurred on by his new knowledge, LB decided to test out a recipe. Since we have tons of squash from our CSA basket, he went with Zucchini Munchies. He's working late, but I couldn't resist trying a few, though they won't be ready for 3-4 more hours. A few turned into half a tray! They're delicious! Trust and believe they're as good as any potato chip you've ever had.

There was a lot of marinade left over (through LB's error, or just because that's how the recipe works), so I threw some shredded cabbage into the liquid. I ate quite a bit of it tonight, and tomorrow I'll throw in some diced apples and enjoy a sweet and spicy cole slaw.

Thanks to LB and Kristen, the Excalibur's back in action!

Friday, November 9, 2007

For the Love of Gadgets

I admit it. I've got a thing for health gadgets. I own several pedometers, a GPS unit that would allow me to download my running stats to my computer, a treadmill & stationary bike (of course), the Fluidity workout bar, a couple of different steps, lots of workout videos, a captain's chair/pull-up bar (everyone but me uses the pull-up side), balls in all sizes, free weights, a weight machine . . . I would love my own blood pressure cuff.

Going mostly Raw has opened my world to new gadgets--the mandoline, the spiral slicer, the mini-food processor, and the dehydrator. Ah yes, the dehydrator. In the weeks since Lovely Boyfriend generously presented me with the 9-tray Excalibur, the cream of its particular crop, I've used it less than 10 times. Pathetic, no?

I tried a couple of frustrating recipes. I tried a couple of things that required me to figure out a way to sub seeds for nuts, so Wonder Girl, who has pretty bad nut allergies, could partake. It felt like failure all the way around. But failure is not an option, so I ordered a dehydrator recipe book from Kristen's Raw. If all goes well, I'll devote Sunday evening to trying at least one of the recipes she includes. Probably the pancakes!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Post-workout snack: leftover cabbage salad

Breakfast: huge salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, red & green peppers, celery, carrots, radishes, mushrooms and broccoli

Snack: 1 cup coffee (half-decaf, non-raw)
Raw breakfast crusts

Lunch: Raw Apple Pie

Snack: smoothie of kale, pineapple, papaya, mango, strawberry blueberry
Word of warning: Easy on the kale. It's strong taste is difficult to blend or cover, though it helped me to drink my smoothie slowly!
Dinner: 1/2 Harvest Sandwich with coco curry sauce, from Leaf
1 small spoonful sauteed swiss chard (non-raw)

Please Don't Feed the Kids

Many parents develop the annoying habit of talking with their young children while carrying on a phone conversation. I sometimes catch myself doing it, though Wonder Girl has been pretty well trained to scribble me a note if what she has to say, or more likely to ask, can't wait. Fierce Teenager, on the other hand, still calls for my attention whenever it's elsewhere.

A few days ago, I chatted by phone with a friend, let's call her Leslie. Apparently her toddler son was having dinner while we talked. Leslie punctuated our talk with asides to her son. The specific words I heard her use were, "hush puppies," "french fries," and "chicken tenders." Perhaps they were eating a huge salad topped with these tasty extras, but I heard no mention of any fruits or vegetables. (Please don't give me the argument about fries & catsup equalling 2 servings of veggies.)

Reality check, Leslie is overweight, at least as much so as I used to be. Fortunately, her son is still within a healthy weight range, but can that last? Is there any chance he's building a strong and healthy body on that diet? As an adult, will he struggle to correct the damage and break the habit of meals made up entirely of fried food? Should I believe that the meal I happened to overhear was an anomaly in the grand scheme of their daily eating? Is there an appropriate way to suggest change to Leslie?

Leslie is college educated and socially aware. She works during the day, and so can't spend the day preparing a complicated healthy meal. But if we're honest with ourselves, we all know healthy doesn't have to be complicated. Swapping out the fries and hush puppies for an apple and some carrots, or an orange and a banana, or any other fresh, living food would be a great start.

How about you? What are you feeding your kids?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Raw Testimony

Sunday evening, I started to develop a sore throat. By nightfall, my head ached and my energy had waned to almost non-existent. I turned in early.

I spent Monday speaking in whispers. Using my full voice just hurt too much. A lack of energy encouraged me to spend the day in bed, and Lovely Boyfriend took over most of my parental and domestic duties so I could give in to the need for rest. I spent most of the day under the covers, coming downstairs to enjoy the Raw meals LB was kind enough to help me prepare.

This morning I awoke with a slightly scratchy throat, nothing that would qualify as pain. I went about a very busy daily routine with more than enough energy to get things done. The only time my head bothered me was in the early evening, a problem a half cup of coffee easily fixed. (I don't think I'm ready to wean down to the small amount I had this morning.) By the time of this writing, I feel great.

What can I say? I believe my mostly Raw lifestyle helped me fight off whatever was invading my body. It never reached a full-blown cold, or whatever it wanted to be. Perhaps 100% Raw would've prevented even that inkling of illness from taking hold. Perhaps next time I won't need to feel poorly to decide to spend a day reading in bed.

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Raw Apple Pie
1/4 cup coffee (half-decaf, non-raw)

Snack: kombucha with fresh squeezed orange juice

Lunch: Raw Spinach Quiche from Good Mood Food Cafe
a handful of grapes

Snack: 1/2 cup coffee (half-caff, non-raw)
3 carrots

Dinner: Plate of honey crisp apple, grapes, Raw Breakfast crusts & Raw cheese

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Yesterday's Yummy Food

Breakfast: 1 cup coffee
1 cooked sandwich

Lunch: Raw Apple Pie

Dinner: figs, Raw breakfast crusts topped with Raw Cheese

Why did I have a cooked sandwich for breakfast yesterday? Lovely Boyfriend and I were trying to make an early movie, and I overslept. I didn't have time to prepare a good breakfast that I could slip in my purse. Confession: I almost always bring food or drink to the movies. This time we stopped at a coffeehouse to grab a cup of coffee, and the sandwich seemed like my best option. I didn't want to sit through a 2 and 1/2 hour movie without having eaten something. Oh well, I guess I have to keep more grab-and-go Raw food on hand for these occasions.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Happiness

Halloween was a blast for Wonder Girl and her best friend, Little E. Even Lovely Boyfriend had his first opportunity to go door to door with trick-or-treating kids. He took the younger girls out, Fierce-as-in-Fabulous Teenager stayed in to hand out candy, and I hung out at my friends' house.

My particular Halloween Happiness came from the fact that none of the usual holiday treats held any sway over me. I was offered cocktails and declined. There were chips, every kind of candy bar, lollipops and sugar in all its many forms. It wasn't even tempting.

I didn't make any special Raw treats, or try to find substitutes for the candies being handed out by the pound. I just had a usual day of eating clean and delicious Raw foods, and I was satisfied. It was a relief to be unconcerned with whether or not I should be allowed a couple of mini Snickers. Believe me, if I'd wanted them, I would've had them. I have a Zero Deprivation Rule. But after being High Raw for a while, the things I crave have changed, and blessedly, concoctions created by food scientists rarely call to me any more.

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Raw cereal with dates, nuts & apples
1/2 cup coffee (non-raw, half-caff)

Lunch: smoothie of spinach, blueberries, oranges, banana and green powder with MSM

Snack: 3 large figs with a bit of Raw cheese
1/2 bottle kombucha

Dinner:huge salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, Granny Smith apples and pine nuts

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Raw Apple pie
Made this with the usual date-nut-flax seed crust. Chopped 3 honey crisp apples with agave, cinnamon, juice of 1/4 lime and a capful of alcohol-free vanilla.
1 cup coffee (non-raw, half-decaf)

Lunch: huge salad of red leaf lettuce, carrots, celery, tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, onions and mushrooms, topped with Raw Warm Currant dressing

Snack: smoothie of strawberries, pineapple, coconut water, dates & spinach

Dinner: apples, raw cheeze

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Strawberry Shortcake

Here's the photo I promised for Strawberry Shortcake.

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Raw cereal of dates, walnuts and apples, topped with banana mylk
1 cup coffee (1/2 decaf)
Lunch: Raw tacos Lovely Boyfriend prepared these romaine leaves filled with a blend of sun-dried tomatoes, onions and avocado. We agreed that the recipe, from Carol Alt's book, needs tweaking.

Snack: Raw cheese

Dinner: Salad of spinach topped with tomatoes, a small spoonful of roasted veggies and Raw Warm Currant Dressing

The roasted veggies keep coming up because of all the winter vegetables in my weekly CSA basket. The family wants roasted squash and zucchini and onions, but I want to stick to mostly Raw food (for myself). Even though I sometimes use these things raw in salads and Raw recipes, I don't use enough of them, and I can't stand the idea that they'll go bad and be thrown away. Argh!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Raw apple pie with date-nut topping
1 cup coffee
Although I don't think my coffee drinking is a huge problem, I don't care for the physical withdrawal symptoms (horrible headaches) I get when I skip the morning beverage. Lovely Boyfriend has kindly agreed to prepare it with 1/2 decaf, so I can start to wean myself from dependence and just enjoy a cup when I feel like it.

Snack: 1/2 bottle kombucha

Lunch: salad of mixed greens, celery, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, avocado and Warm Currant Dressing

Snack: 1/2 bottle kombucha

Dinner: 1 ambrosia apple
I'd never had this particular apple before, but it was pretty good--nice and crisp, though not as sweet as I'd hoped. The honey crisp apples, which I normally love, have been pretty bland around here.
a bit of raw cheese

Through Thick and Thin

The majority of African-Americans and Latinos in this country have generally allowed for a standard of beauty which says that a woman doesn't have to be stick-thin to be beautiful. Feminine curves have been appreciated by these groups, while the larger American culture screams from the front pages of magazines, from the casting of televisions shows and commercials and from movie star-studded red carpets, that a woman can never be too skinny.

You think those models and actresses look thin on television? You should see them in person. I've seen TV stars on stage and been repulsed by the knobs of their spines or the sharp angles of their collar bones sticking out. It would be one thing if these were their natural shapes, but some of these same actresses have complained that they have to choose between eating and working.

Sometimes Black or Latina or other women choose to embrace a standard of beauty that allows them to avoid endless dieting, hours in the gym everyday, and constant "do I look fat in this" worries. Sometimes we take it too far and insist there is beauty in a physical standard that's clearly unhealthy, and that kind of thinking desperately needs to be corrected. But so too does the standard that says we should live off of coffee and cigarettes, implant bags of silicone in our breasts, and inject ourselves with toxins in order to be beautiful. Let's be real. It's not only possible, but all too common to be too thick or too thin.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Air We Breathe

All week we've been breathing in smoke and ash as wild fires rage around us. Local schools closed down and canceled football games because of poor air quality. Joggers took their workouts inside to treadmills. Parents nixed their kids usual outside play, and our mailman wore a protective mask on his route.

We're located between Irvine and San Diego, two sites of this week's major wildfires. Though we could see flames from the hilltops, our own neighborhood was never in danger. Naturally, we're reminded how fortunate we are when we see the number of homes destroyed climb over 1,000 and even worse, the number of directly related deaths at 7.

After we make our donations to the Red Cross or drop off an air mattress for the evacuation center, our thoughts turn to our own homes and families. Those of us who don't have personal air filters worry about our kids complaints of headaches and sore throats, then convince ourselves that there won't be any long-term effect, all while studying the hazy sky for some sign it might clear up soon. Where are those high winds when we need them to dissipate the clouds of smoke and ash that hang over us?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Raw cereal of chopped almonds, pecans and dates, topped with banana mylk
1 cup coffee (non-raw) with almond milk

Lunch: Sea weed chowder with marinated & dehydrated mushrooms

Snack: 1 large Raw apple-currant cookie

Dinner: 1 huge salad of mixed greens, topped with sea weed, pickled ginger and ahi

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Breaking up with Joe - The Saga Continues

Yesterday, I had tea instead of coffee. This was an easy sacrifice to make, because Lovely Boyfriend was out of the house by 6 in the morning, and I'm clueless with the coffee pot. I didn't miss the stuff, until late evening. That's when a tiny drill began boring its way through my forehead, pierced my right eye and made it's way down the side of my head to my tongue and jaw.

This morning, I awakened to find the pain hadn't subsided even the slightest bit. I went for my morning walk/jog with my friend and came home ready to hit the weights. At least, my mind was ready. My body said, h*ll no! I hit the shower instead, then tried to wait patiently as Lovely Boyfriend finished his workout. When he came into the kitchen to brew a pot of the black stuff, I tried to play it cool, preparing breakfast rather than shoving him aside, coffee mug in hand.

Yes, I am that pathetic. After about a half cup, my headache was completely gone. It's seriously annoying to be a slave to anything, much less something I'm paying good money to consume. Some people, like Kristen from Kristen's Raw, have been kind enough to give me their strategies for breaking the habit. Looks like its time I put some of them into action.

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Raw granola topped with strawberries, dates & banana mylk
2 cups coffee (non-raw) Egads! That's double the normal amount I drink!

Snack: a bit of Raw breakfast crust with Raw honey

Lunch: a huge salad of mixed greens, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots & pumpkin seeds, topped with Warm Currant Dressing

Snack #1: Raw cookie dough from the apple-cinnamon-currant-seed cookies Wonder Girl, Lovely Boyfriend and I made today. These are supposed to take around 24 hours to dehydrate. The mix itself was so delicious, WG and I ate quite a bit of it from the bowl. Can't wait to taste the finished product.

Snack #2: a smoothie of spinach, ground flax seeds, strawberries, blueberries and oranges

Dinner: a medley of roasted squash, zucchini, potatoes, onions and garlic
Yes, I'm afraid dinner was cooked tonight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: 1 honey crisp apple, 1 orange
1 cup herbal tea It has half the caffeine of coffee. Let cool & sweeten with raw agave.

Lunch: Raw cereal of chopped dates, pecans and apples, topped with banana mylk

Snack: salad of mixed greens, carrots, cukes, red peppers & pumpkin seeds, topped with Warm Currant Dressing

Dinner: 5 dried figs
1 large piece Raw Breakfast Crust with Raw honey & coconut oil

Monday, October 22, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Pre-workout Snack: 1 tomato

Breakfast: Raw pear pie
This is basically the peach cobbler recipe made with pears.

Lunch: salad of mixed greens, yellow tomatoes, cukes & red onions, topped with Warm Currant Dressing

Dinner: Raw meatloaf with a salad of mixed greens topped with a spoonful of green beans (the beans were sauteed with onions & garlic)and Raw Warm Currant Dressing

Dessert: 2 dates
1 cup coffee (non-raw)

Post-workout snack: 1 orange

Saturday, October 20, 2007

1 in 6 Black Women Morbidly Obese

"While we're all generally getting fatter, the real burden of morbid obesity is falling disproportionately on one group of Americans: black women. According to a 2002 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), women in general are about twice as likely as men to be morbidly obese, but a sobering 1 in 6 Black women is that overweight--"
--from microtrends, the small forces beind tomorrow's big changes , by Mark J. Penn, with E. Kinney Zalesne (emphasis mine)

My sistahs deserve better. While I've always appreciated and benefited from the African-American cultural admiration of the classic coke-bottle figure, as a group we've gone way beyond that. This is no longer about a subjective standard of beauty. This is our health and happiness we're risking. We are the fattest group of people in one of the fattest countries on the planet, and we have black female celebrities telling us to embrace our obesity. Am I the only one who thinks that's crazy?

Should we embrace being out of breath from a walk around the block? Should we embrace avoiding stairs because our knees ache from carrying the extra bulk? Should we embrace a future tainted by diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression?

How surprised I was to look at a BMI chart and find out I qualified as obese! At just over 5'4" and 176 lbs (that's where I stopped weighing myself, but I'm pretty sure I added a couple after that), it seems ridiculous that the discovery could come as a shock. I knew I was fat. That was obvious, but I had never applied a medical term, like "obesity" to my state. Fortunately for me, I made the necessary changes, and the term no longer fits.

Looking around at social events, or at a local mall, or a predominantly black church, I can't help but notice it. We're outpacing everyone in growing wider. The good thing is, it's preventable and reversible. If you're in shape, reach out to someone who isn't. Invite them over for a healthy meal or out for a walk. Be the one who brings a delicious but healthy dish to the next family dinner. If you're a little out of shape, decide if you're satisfied, but if you're just plain fat, be real about it. Take a serious look at your habits and address the ones that got you there. Forget the fad diets and other extreme solutions, but seek out help if you don't know where to start.

Life is too short to spend it avoiding dressing room mirrors, so we don't have to face our hips and thighs, or crashing on the couch because getting up and doing something takes too much effort. Black women, believe me, you deserve better.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Better Than Strawberry Shortcake

3-4 Servings

Berry Mix
1 pint strawberries, cleaned and sliced
2 t coconut oil, liquid (optional)
4 T raw agave syrup
1 pinch salt
a dash or 2 of cinnamon

5-6 dried dates, pitted
1/2 cup pecans
1/8 cup ground flaxseed
1 T coconut oil (optional)
a few dashes cinnamon

Blend Berry Mix and set aside. In food processor, combine topping ingredients until crumbly. Spoon topping over berries and enjoy!

Since peaches are hard to find right now, I decided on this twist to the Peace Crumble I enjoy so much. I ate this one before I thought of taking a photo--maybe on the next round.

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Strawberry Shortcake
1 cup coffee (non-raw)

Lunch: salad of lettuce, red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery & sunflower seeds, topped with Warm Currant Dressing

Snack: 1 small piece Raw Breakfast Crust

Dinner: salad of mixed greens topped with ahi sashimi (Sorry, vegans! Not quite there!), seaweed & pickled ginger.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Warm Currant Dressing

1/2 cup water (use more if you want a thinner dressing)

1 cup olive oil

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (I don't know if this is raw, but you could try subbing Raw Apple Cider Vinegar)

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper (non-raw, I'm pretty sure)

1/2 cup dried currants (soaked in water for about an hour, and drained)

2 cloves garlic

Blend all, except oil and water until smooth. Blend in oil. Add water as needed to thin dressing.

I wanted to make this recipe for Tangy Cranberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, but didn't have any cranberries. We ended up with this instead. It was slightly warm from the blender, but also had a nice warm flavor. It's quite creamy, which is a nice change from our usual oil & lemon juice dressing.

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Raw Cereal of dates, walnuts and diced apples, topped with banana mylk
1 cup coffee (non-raw)
Lunch: salad of 2 types of lettuce, topped with celery, carrots, cauliflower, red onions & yellow cherry tomatoes
Warm Currant Dressing This was probably a perfect salad--tasty and crunchy. Lovely boyfriend put it together, while I made the dressing.
Dinner: 1 large spoonful of roasted squash & onions, on a bed of spinach with Raw Warm Currant Dressing

Monday, October 15, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: same as yesterday...Raw cereal of pecans, dates & raisins, processed to bits, topped with diced apple, sliced banana & banana mylk
This tastes a lot like caramel apples.
1 and 1/2 cups coffee (non-raw)

Lunch: Raw "meatloaf with mashed potatoes & gravy"

Snack: smoothie of spinach, banana, strawberries, blueberries & ground flaxseeds

Dinner: salad of spinach, tomatoes & pecans
4 bites of cooked sandwich

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Raw cereal (dates, raisins, pecans processed to small pieces) topped with chopped apple, sliced banana & cinnamon banana mylk
This was based on a recipe from Slightly sweet & very satisfying.
1 cup coffee (non-raw)

Lunch & Dinner: Samples from undehydrated Raw "meatloaf & mashed potatoes"
We were using a recipe from Juliano's Raw UNcookbook, but the proportions were waaaaay off, so were spent a lot of time sampling & re-seasoning. The recipe supposedly serves 2, but we ended up with enough for at least 10 people, by the time we were done. It's incredible filling!

Dessert: 1/2 piece of Strawberry cheesecake from Earth Cafe
1/2 cup coffee (non-raw)
The cold weather's really interfering with my desire to cut back on the coffee.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: salad of spinach, carrots, yellow cherry tomatoes celery, cucumbers and avocado, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice
3-4 sips of Wonder Girl's smoothie (spinach, ground flaxseeed, strawberries, blueberries & banana) This was WG's 1st attempt at making the smoothie herself. Simply delicious!

Snack #1: One half cantaloupe

Snack #2: coffee (non-raw)
Lunch: Raw Oaxac-Enchiladas
We spent the day in L.A., where a little market, erewhon, has lots of options for prepared Raw dishes. We picked this one up because we'd never tried this company's products. (In fact, I've never even heard of Oaxaca Raw, Living Foods by Sergio.)

The ingredients were mostly organic: coconut meat, almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, red & green leafs (no idea what that means), red & green cabbage, oregano, parsley, sundried red chiles, lemon juice, onions, avocado, sea salt, cinnamon, raisins, nama shoyu (which is NOT raw, BTW), sesame seeds and spices. I know. That's a looooong list of ingredients, but what are you gonna do? The tortilla was tasty on its own, and all the flavors blended well, but the meal just wasn't that memorable.

Dinner: 1/2 Raw burger with raw BBQ sauce (which I modified from a recipe in Juliano's UNcook book) and a side of heirloom tomatoes

Dessert: 1/2 apple cookie from Rawvolution and a few bites of Raw ice cream

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Best Day Ever!!!

According to Wonder Girl, the best day ever is today, her ninth birthday! A full day of celebrating has left her worn out. We went to the mall for an outfit (a rare treat, as I detest clothes shopping), played CashFlow for Kids a few times (great game for teaching financial principles to kids) and had her best friend, Erica, along with Fierce-as-in-Fabulous Teenager's friend, Kelsey, for dinner, dessert and present-opening.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Peace Crumble
I'm sorry to be so repetitive, but this is just one of those dishes I have to eat until I burn out on it.
1 cup coffee (non-raw)

Lunch: kelp noodles topped with Raw tomato sauce and leftover marinated mushrooms
The mushrooms were even better after a few hours in the dehydrator.

Dinner: salad of spinach, carrots, radishes, cucumber, red peppers and celery, topped with olive oil and lemon juice
3-4 spoonfuls of Raw white chocolate macadamia nut ice cream

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


In every life, there are those days of significance that need to be celebrated or commemorated in some way. We recognize birthdays, of course. There's the day a new life makes us a parent, or perhaps the day we meet the one who'll be our life partner. Wedding anniversaries, business launches or promotions, high school and college graduations -- all of these deserve a moment's pause and appreciation from us. Today is such a day for this Raw Foodie. Today, I received my Excalibur 9-tray dehydrator via FedEx!

Muchisimas gracias to Lovely Boyfriend, who gifted me with the Excalibur! I know it's usually taboo for men to give their women appliances as gifts, but this is more than an appliance. This is the machine that opens the doors to many of the Raw recipes I've been wanting to try. This is the machine that will let me make a Raw meatloaf!

It's quite possible to be a Raw Foodie without a dehydrator, but I'm glad to be out of that camp. Today, Wonder Girl and I made zucchini chips (zukes sliced thin with a cheese slicer, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with a blend of seasonings). We only filled 3 trays, which was a big mistake, because WG, Fierce-as-in-Fabulous Teenager, and I loved them. I had to smack their hands away to save a sample for Lovely Boyfriend.

Now, if I can just squeeze a couple more hours into each day to try all the recipes I've collected.

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: acai bowl (Raw acai juice blended with banana and blueberries) topped with Raw granola, Raw cereal, mulberries, bananas and nectarine
1 cup coffee (non-raw)
Acai is a Brazilian berry, loaded with antioxidants, other phytonutrients, fiber and protein. You can buy it frozen and use it for smoothies or bowls. There are Raw versions and pasteurized versions available.

Lunch: Peace crumble Yes, again!
Snack: 1/2 personal watermelon

Dinner: 7-8 Raw rosemary quackers topped with Raw chili and a smear of Raw cheese
1 handful of zucchini chips
1 handful yellow cherry tomatoes

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Raw Pasta Sauce

I've been threatening to make a Raw pasta sauce for a while. Since I was getting a full basket of organic goodies from the CSA today, I figured it would be a good time to use up some of what I still had left from last week. Measurements may be approximate, since I was sort of winging it, but the end result was delicious.
Raw Pasta Sauce
3 dates, pitted
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and drained
3 roma tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic
a handful of fresh herbs of choice (I used basil)
water, started with 1 and 1/2 cups and continued adding until desired consistency
Process all in the food processor.
I intended to serve this over kelp noodles, but I had a couple of bags of zucchini to use. Wonder Girl, Fierce-as-in-Fabulous Teenager, Lovely Boyfriend and I really enjoyed this meal. It was even better with the marinated mushrooms for dinner.

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: smoothie of apples, spinach, dates and ground flaxseeds
1 cup coffee (non-raw)

Snack: a few pecans and 3 dates

Lunch: zucchini topped with raw pasta sauce

Snack: 2 flaxseed crackers with Raw chilli

Dinner: marinated mushrooms, mixed with leftover Raw pasta sauce, over spinach
Three cheers for raw! These were actually even better than the cooked mushrooms we tried last night, and we used a less fancy mushroom for this recipe!

Dessert: a few spoonfuls of Raw white chocolate/macadamia nut ice cream
more on this later

Monday, October 8, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: 1/2 personal watermelon

Snack: 3 dates and a few pecans
1 cup coffee (non-raw)

Lunch: 4 and 1/2 raw Rosemary quackers topped with sliced tomato, chopped red onion, and raw Chili

Dinner: spinach topped with mushrooms
I only had a small spoonful of the mushrooms, as they were sauteed. The thing is, I've always wanted to try chanterelle mushrooms, outside of a restaurant, and they had them for a quite reasonable price at Costco. I decided to get them out of my system. We all loved them!

Post-workout snack: a bit of raw cheese

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cure for My Cravings

Before a two-faced craving sat on my left shoulder and whispered in my ear, today's yummy food was going well. For breakfast I enjoyed a Raw nectarine cobbler. Fierce-as-in-Fabulous Teenager and I had to drive into L.A. for a college open house, so we decided to treat ourselves to smoothies from our new favorite Raw restaurant, 118 Degrees, in Costa Mesa. She enjoyed a Merry Monkey, made of nut milk, banana, almond butter, cinnamon, vanilla and agave. I ordered a Chocolate Supreme: Raw cacao, cinnamon, banana, macadamia creme, agave, maca, super greens, hemp seeds and lucama--so many ingredients! Spur of the moment, we decided to sample the Sweet Bread with Almond Butter and Agave.

We drove into the city and sat through an interesting presentation. Fierce complained that I hadn't fed her lunch. I reminded her of our on-the-road treats, and she called me a freak for being satisfied with that as a meal. All was as it should be, until the drive home.
I'm not a vegan (at least not yet), but I rarely consumed red meat, even before I went mostly Raw. So why on earth did a philly cheesesteak dominate my thoughts on the way home? Although I was mostly obsessing over the grilled mushrooms, onions and peppers, I wanted the whole sandwich, so much so that I was planning to run out and get one after we got home. I reasoned that I'm not completely Raw, and I refuse to fall into the trap of deprivation, which only leads to more frequent and intense cravings.

For better or worse, I couldn't convince myself that the cheesesteak place gets its meat from a sustainable farm, where the cows roam wide green pastures, selecting their favorite grasses to chew. I couldn't kid myself that they'd then be "humanely slaughtered." Now there's an oxymoron for you. Maybe I could have shrimp, or even scallops instead. No, I wanted that dead cow flesh!
Fortunately, it was 7:30 in the evening and already dark. I'm not a fan of leaving the house after nightfall. Weird maybe, but I like to be in my flannel pjs with my car tucked into the garage after sunset. So I looked for an alternative to giving into the craving. In my fridge, I found a container of Raw chili (brazil nuts ground with salsa and spices). I threw this on a few crackers and after making a meal of these, was pleased to find I no longer desired that cheesesteak!

I'm not 100% Raw, mind you, and I can't promise to make it through the rest of my life without another cheesesteak. (Though I'll definitely try for a raw substitue.) I can't stress enough how much I reject the notion of deprivation, but when I consume non-raw foods, I'd like them to be mostly made of whole plants. On the occasions that they're not, I'd prefer not to feel guilty about them. I would've repented that cheesesteak. That delicious Raw chili left me with no regrets.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Peace Crumble
1/2 cup coffee (non-raw)

Snack: A few One Lucky Duck rosemary qwackers with a bit of raw cheese
These were an expensive treat, and while they were good, I didn't love them. At 11 bucks for 4 ounces, I want to LOVE them! (In fairness, raw crackers are much more filling than cooked. 4 ounces are more like 12 or more cooked ounces.)

Lunch: raw burger from Foodology with a salad of cucumber, red onion and tomato

Snack: leftover corn & avocado salad

Dinner: 1/2 slice strawberry cheesecake from Earth Cafe

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: strawberries topped with raw granola, mulberries & banana mlyk
1/3 cup coffee (non-raw)

Snack: 5 dried figs

Lunch: raw taquitos with a side salad of spinach and mango

1/3 piece raw Key Lime cheesecake
1 cup herbal tea (non-raw) I only put about 1/2 tsp of honey in the tea, so there's much less of the bad stuff than I would have in a cup of coffee.

Snack: smoothie of kale, hempseed, mango, strawberries, blueberries & banana

Dinner: salad of fresh corn, avocado, tomatoes, jalapenos and lemon juice

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: strawberries topped with raw granola, mulberries & banana mylk
1/2 cup coffee (non-raw)

Snack: 5-6 dried figs

Lunch: corn salad

Snack: 1/4 honey crisp apple (my fave!) with a bit of raw cheese

Dinner: 1/2 cup roasted potatoes (non-raw...duh!) I'm transitioning my non-raw percentage from coffee, and the stuff I dump in it, to whole foods. Admittedly, I did feel a fairly quick energy crash as I was eating this meal. :(

Post workout snack: TBD

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: strawberries, bananas, and raw granola topped with banana mylk
coffee (non-raw)

Snack: smoothie of hemp seed, red leaf lettuce, oranges, blueberries & strawberries
Since I don't have a high-speed blender, I first blend the hempseed with a little water. Then I add the lettuce and bit more water, and so on with each ingredient. It's not as time consuming as it sounds. Prep time is only about 5 minutes, since the produce is washed and dried as soon as I bring it home and the berries are often frozen.

Lunch: smoothie of young coconut meat, pineapple, agave, and a sprinkle of hempseed. Normally I don't like to add sweetener to smoothies, but our poor pineapple was past its ripeness.

Dinner: salad of butter lettuce, zucchini, yellow tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, radishes, and cucumbers, with sesame seed dressing.
This week I'm determined to use some portion of everything in my basket from the farm. 25 lbs is a lot of produce!

Should We Buy Organic?

The more I learn about about our food industry, the more I lean toward buying organic, locally-grown food. I'm fortunate to live in Southern California, near an organic farm. Even so, my budget still doesn't allow for me to buy all things organic. Perhaps I'll continue to discover resources that will allow me to buy all of my produce from local, sustainable, organic farms. Until then, I've got to include some conventionally grown foods.

Some conventionally grown produce is more likely to contain pesticides when it arrives in the store. Washing can get rid of surface residue, but the chemicals absorbed by the plant are there to stay. Buy locally grown when you can, and consider the following lists of most and least contaminated when deciding where to invest in organic.

12 Cleanest non-organic foods
  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Bananas
  4. Broccoli
  5. Cabbage
  6. Corn (though most is genetically modified)
  7. Kiwis
  8. Mangoes
  9. Onions
  10. Eggplant
  11. Pineapples
  12. Peas (sweet)

12 RISKIEST foods AKA "The Dirty Dozen"
  1. Apples
  2. Bell Peppers
  3. Celery
  4. Cherries
  5. Imported Grapes
  6. Nectarines
  7. Peaches
  8. Pears
  9. Potatoes
  10. Lettuce
  11. Spinach
  12. Strawberries & Raspberries

A more complete list can be found here.

Enjoying the Road to Better Health

A friend emailed me to ask how she might transition to eating mostly Raw. Below is my response to her.

I love to see a sistah working on her health. Here are my suggestions for starting:

1) Don't be too restrictive with yourself. My friend has started with 2 Raw meals a day, Raw snacks, and 1 meal that's just healthy, but not necessarily Raw. It's an easier way for her to transition. I allowed myself to eat sprouted wheat Ezekiel bread for the 1st week or so, but cut out completely cooked meals. It helps to commit to having something Raw with every meal or snack.

2) Decide how often you want to allow yourself a treat. Maybe once each week. You may find the treats don't taste as good as your taste buds change. After a few weeks, a bite of bagel was like chewing cardboard and paste for me.

3)The essential grocery list starts with the fruits and vegetable that you LOVE! Raw food is generally defined as uncooked, unprocessed fruits, veggies, oils, nuts and seeds. It's not a dumb question,because there is disagreement as to how hot you can dry things before they're no longer considered raw. Often, dehydrated/dried stuff is fine. You want to try for organic when you can, as well as unsulphured for the dried stuff. Oils should be extra-virgin and/or cold-pressed.

4) Don't overdo the dried fruit, nuts and oils, as they are calorie-dense. That being said, a little bit of those can be REALLY satisfying, and are healthy, so don't avoid them.

5) Seriously consider adding green smoothies to your daily menu. They're satisfying, highly nutritious and cut cravings for bad stuff. I don't particularly like kale, but when I put it in a smoothie, I don't taste it. Depending on how powerful your blender is, you might have to blend the greens with a little water before adding the fruit. That way they get well liquefied. Throw in some kind of fat ( a little flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds, hemp seed oil, etc) if you want to balance the fruit sugars.

6) Buy a few Raw convenience foods. If you're near a good health food store, pick up something that looks great but will be easy to grab when you don't have much time to prep. Larabars help a lot of people transition. Don't invest too much money in Raw treats though, as they can be expensive. If you're not near a good health food store, look online at places like Sometimes, especially when you're transitioning, you may want something more liked cooked food, and these things come in handy.

7) Check out websites like,, and for recipes you can make that will mimic cooked foods. They come in handy when you're craving old dishes. Some of these will require a dehydrator, but a lot won't. They also have creative ideas for salads and smoothies. Plenty of free recipes on the Internet, or if you're interested, there are ebooks available and books in most bookstores.

8) Only eat what you enjoy! This is supposed to be about health and abundance, not deprivation.

I hope this helps you. Email me as often as you like with questions or comments or suggestions

Monday, October 1, 2007

Aren't You Hungry?

The first argument Lovely Boyfriend and I ever had occurred late one night as we drove around Los Angeles looking for a place to eat. We pulled into the parking lot of a Thai restaurant he fancied just as they were locking their doors. Scanning the neighborhood, I began to feel desperate; every place seemed to be switching off their OPEN signs and flipping chairs onto tables. I don't know what happened. Maybe I suggested some place he didn't like, or vice versa, but I was starving, and we were fighting.

Obviously, I wasn't actually starving. It probably hadn't been more than five or six hours since I'd last eaten. The worst case scenario: I wouldn't eat again until morning, but such an idea was unthinkable. There was a physical and emotional urgency to my empty stomach. Eventually, we drove-thru and bought a large order of fries and a soda and everything was fine. Everything except that I'd almost ruined a fun-filled day because I was terrified of missing a meal.

Sometimes, when I fell into a short-tempered mood, Lovely Boyfriend or one of my daughters would ask if perhaps I needed a snack or a nap. Sometimes I needed both! It could mean hurt feelings or other activities pushed aside until I'd taken care of my basic needs. My rational mind knew whatever I required would be provided, but I wasn't thinking with my higher self.

Since switching to a primarily Raw diet, daily naps have become a thing of the past. Generally, I power through the days, and then hit my mattress hard at night. Even better, the desperation surrounding the nagging feelings of hunger has, for the most part, subsided. There's a sense of freedom in knowing that when I sit down to a meal I can eat until I am satisfied, because everything on my plate is good for me. I still savor the flavors and smells and textures of a wide variety of food, but my attitude around it has decidedly relaxed. Now, if I can just apply the same zen-like perspective to the rest of my life...

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: strawberries and bananas topped with raw granola, banana mylk and honey
1cup coffee (non-raw)

Snack: 2 pieces Raw Breakfast Crust with honey

Lunch: peace crumble

Snack: 1/3 cantaloupe

Dinner: salad of spinach, red peppers, onions, carrots, cucumbers & green beans

Post-workout snack: 1/2 smoothie of mango and dates

Friday, September 28, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: strawberries topped with almond mylk & raw granola

Snack: leftover Raw tamale with heirloom tomato & avocado

Lunch: 2 raw taquitos & 1/2 mango

Snack: smoothie or spinach, apples, ground flax seed & dates

Dinner: a terrific salad of spinach, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, leeks, carrots & red peppers

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: leftover peaches and cream from 118 Degrees
coffee: non-raw

Lunch: Topaz Pizza, by Jenny's Live, with a side salad of mixed greens

Snack #1: a bit of a smoothie of strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kale & coconut butter
This had become rather gelatinous after a couple of hours in the fridge, so I dumped most of it.

Snack #2: coconut milk blended with a bit of raw cacao
I try to limit the cacao. It seems to be a mood elevator of sorts, but also to play with my energy levels a bit.

Dinner: 1 large mango, 1/2 large heirloom tomato & 2 raw taquitos
Today felt like a lot of food, but looking back, I guess it wasn't.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: smoothie of kale, strawberries, blueberries, bananas and coconut butter
1 cup coffee (non-raw)

Snack: 1/2 personal watermelon

Lunch: thinly sliced turnips topped with Raw ricotta made from 1 cup soaked cashews, a bunch of fresh thyme, juice of 1/2 lemon and salt

Dinner: We had a wonderful dinner at 118 Degrees, a new Raw restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA--more about this great place later. I can't say enough good things about this spot.
Appetizer: taquitos
Entree: corn tamales
Dessert: cappuccino creme brulee
peaches and cream

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Today's Yummy Food

Breakfast: Berry Porridge topped with banana mylk

The porridge recipe from Juliano's Raw, the UNcook Book consists of oat groats (soaked overnight and drained), dates and blueberries. Instead of the 1 serving the book indicated, it made about 6! It's very filling and takes time to chew. The recipe indicated the groats could be soaked for as little as 30 minutes, but I find them tough and odd tasting unless they've been soaked for hours.

1 cup coffee (non-raw)

Snack: a couple of carrots

Lunch: 1/2 cantaloupe

Snack: Smoothie of kale, strawberries, peaches, bananas and coconut butter

Dinner: corn salad on a bed of spinach

Today was a good day for healthy eating and working out. This week's CSA basket had lots of goodies including: garlic, onions, nectarines, peaches, oranges, kale, apples, potatoes, lemon basil, thyme, carrots, string beans and other goodies --all local and organic.

Eat well yall!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cooked Pitfalls

An article appeared on Raw Food Right Now! today encouraging readers to support their fellow Raw Foodists who are having trouble staying on the wagon. I happily went to the blogs they linked to and left what words of encouragement I could. I hope they helped whoever read them, in what little way they might.

I don't aim to be 100% Raw, because I'm a rebel! Well, not really. I just don't like the sense that I have to eliminate a whole class of food in its entirety. Most days, I'm all Raw, with the exception of coffee or tea, and I'm very satisfied. I enjoy my Raw meals, all the while knowing that I can have any cooked food, should I desire it. I don't doubt that 100% could take me to another level in many ways. I've experienced it before, but I'm fine with not having it right now.

Yesterday, Fierce-as-in-Fabulous Teenager was baptized. (Congratulations, Fierce One!) In celebration, lunch was her choice, and she chose Mexican. I indulged in cooked veggies and black beans, and I can't say that it was tasteless or made me horribly ill. However, it did sit heavily in my stomach, and I found the meal much less appetizing than I used to. Directly thereafter, I crashed for an unplanned 2 hour nap! Coincidence? I think not.

I don't regret the meal, or feel any lasting harm was done to my 90% Raw diet-style. It didn't leave me craving the next cooked dish, quite the contrary. Next time, I'll think twice about splurging on something that can't live up to the taste of a fresh peach, grapes from the local farm, or a thick mango smoothie.

Juliano's Raw

Looking for a Raw dining adventure, something to please the palate and inspire you to dust off your dehydrator? Juliano's Raw, in Santa Monica, California, provides just such an experience. I was initially reluctant to patronize the restaurant, purely because I've been disappointed by the food at other restaurants with celebrity chefs. Sometimes it becomes more about the personality than the food. That's not the case with Juliano's.

My party of three dined on the small but cozy back patio. Our server was friendly, knowledgeable and unobtrusive, my favorite combination of traits. Neither Lovely Boyfriend nor I had visited Juliano's in the past, but our friend, Lori, was visiting from Atlanta. She wanted to try raw and we wanted her first raw gourmet meal to well represent its category , so we went for the place with the best reviews.

We started with the tortilla soup, jalapeno poppers and pumpkin tortellini. I'm past the point of expecting raw food to visually mimic a cooked counterpart. It's fun when it does, but not necessary. Lori was somewhat thrown off by the fact that the appearance of some of the dishes didn't meet her expectations. The jalapeno poppers consisted of strips of dried jalapeno topped with yummy filling. They were pretty good, but not outstanding. The tortilla soup was rich, dehydrator warm and subtly spicy. I was initially disappointed that the pumpkin tortellini was such a small plate, but the slightly sweet and chewy appetizer proved to be just enough. I'd love to learn to make them.

We shared two entrees: "meat and potatoes" and the Bacon Western Double burger. Let's begin with the latter. The burger is served with a veritable salad of toppings, including pickles, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, ketchup, avocado and onion. It was difficult to find the burger underneath it all, but it was there and the whole dish was quite good. The zucchini fries with ketchup may have outshone the burger with their delicious simplicity.

The "meat and potatoes" was so good, I went out and bought Juliano's book, RAW, the UNcook book. This meat consisted of a nut and mushroom patty topped with barbecue sauce. The taste and texture were much like classic meatloaf, only much fresher. The creamy potatoes were made from cauliflower and topped with a savory gravy. It was all I could do not to tip the cup of gravy to my lips. One word: Scrumcious!

We enjoyed the chocolate parfait, pictured above, for dessert. It consisted of a chocolate mousse on top of a nutty crust. The avocado-based mousse was much lighter than any I've been able to whip up at home. I couldn't resist getting a mango/almond-milk shake to go. It was thick and creamy, like a traditional milkshake.
All in all, our dining experience at Juliano's Raw was a pleasure. Though some have complained about the prices, I found them to be quite reasonable, especially for Santa Monica. Our bill came to $75.00 before tip. Most people would likely order less food for a typical meal. We lunched at 2:00 and were so satisfied we didn't need dinner.