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, goneraw.com 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