Saturday, April 26, 2008

Edible Flowers

Last week, I lamented that the purple, white and red flowers that arrived in my CSA basket weren't edible. This week, my broccoli had started to bloom! Easy to get those are just tiny flowers.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My Biggest Loser Week

It's the middle of the week, and I'm having a blast! Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I've averaged 4 hours of serious exercise. This has included the stairs at Laguna Beach, treadmill on the highest incline, the stationary bike, walk/jogs all over my hilly neighborhood, weight training (of course), jumping rope, and calisthenics/body weight exercises. It's been fun to include LB, Wonder Girl and my girlfriends in my workouts. I do need to bring yoga back in though.

One of the interesting discoveries: learning what fuels my body best. Today, I stocked up on Young Thai coconuts. They do my body good! Superfood smoothies, green smoothies, salads of various types--interestingly, my appetite seems to have decreased. Perhaps I'm just too busy to focus on food as much. Most evenings, I'm satisfied with a liquid dinner.

Four days left. I'm going to continue to push and try to get at least one 6-hour exercise day. "What's the point?" you ask. Self-discovery!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Biggest Loser Week - Warm-up Day

Though our official BL week starts today, since LB worked in L.A. on Monday, I decided to go ahead and get a warm-up day in, so Day One wouldn't be such a shock to my system.

Monday's workout - Treadmill: 7.5 miles at 10.0 incline
Bike: 20 miles at levels 1-4
Abs: 15 minutes of training

Yesterday, Raw Model posted about why Raw Vegans still need to workout, and Terilynn invited us to think about what our bodies are really capable of doing. Timely, no?

"We need a change
Do it today
I can feel my spirit rising
We need a change
So do it today
'Cause I can see a clear horizon

What have you done today to make you feel proud?"
- Biggest Loser theme song

Take It To the Limit!

For a while now, LB and I have talked about taking some kind of physical vacation, the kind where you take a week to go hiking, take gym classes, get massages, weight train, do yoga and focus primarily on your physical being. I did one years ago at Canyon Ranch, in Arizona, and it was a paradigm-shifting experience. Unfortunately I was so out of shape at the time--considerably overweight, stiff, suffering frequent muscle spasms--I didn't get to fully immerse myself.

Realistically, such a vacation doesn't fit our budget or our time constraints right now. So this week, we've decided to bring the wellness retreat home to us. Granted we'll still have real life to do. The bills, errands, work projects and chores can't be set aside, but we will be streamlining those areas to focus on physical challenges.

My favorite reality show is The Biggest Loser. Even with all the editing and time-condensing, and the occasional drama, it's a show that's about taking control of one's life and health. In the end, every Loser is a winner. I love that! Inspired by the fact that the shows participants work out 4-6 hours each day, and even more than that as the finale draws near, we've decided to take on something similar.

While we won't have their trainers or facilities, we've got more than enough to get in intense workouts. This week will be a good push toward June's Bikini Challenge. (Okay, it's really the Swimsuit Challenge, since the guy's are participating, but I find Bikini more motivating.) It will also be interesting to see how far we can push ourselves.

Because a sudden increase in physical activity can lower the immune system, we'll be eating particularly Raw and well, with lots of greens. I'll continue to use my green superfood powders, probiotics and multivitamin. I'm also throwing in some DHA (an omega-3 supplement from algae), and enzymes. It wouldn't do to get sick during our Biggest Loser week.

I'm excited about this! As the theme song says: What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Food Prices

photo by Kirshnendu Halder/Reuters

With the average American family of four spending over $900 each month on food, things are looking a bit grim on the financial front. Food costs are rising. I can complain about the prices on organic foods or superfoods or prepared Raw treats, but for millions of people, simple staples like corn and beans and rice are priced out of reach.

No time to read more? Check out this slideshow: a quick glimpse of how hunger affects Haiti, where 1 in 5 children are malnourished, and the poorest buy and eat dirt cakes.

Or read this article. Hunger and food riots around the world.

I know nothing about this organization, but it was the 1st I found that seemed to have suggestions on what the average person can do.

From where I sit on my couch, I can reach out and grab bananas, pears, oranges and grapefruit. I'm feeling quite blessed this morning.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Must Everything Be About Food?

These beautiful Sweet Pea flowers were in my CSA basket this week.

I was disappointed to learn they're not edible. Is it all about food with me? Well, sometimes. Organic edible flowers would be a cool treat!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Parsley - It Aint Just for Fresh Breath

For the last few weeks, my CSA basket has arrived bearing a bunch of Italian parsley (the kind with flat, pointy leaves). I've used a sprig here and there, but in the end, most of it ended in a dessicated mass, tossed during fridge cleanup.

This morning, I pulled out yet another bunch of those clean leaves, and I was determined not to let them go to waste. My first thought was to dehydrate the stuff, crush it into a powder and use it as a seasoning. But these were fresh greens, picked the very same day, and I desired to use them at the height of their nutritional potency.

It's just the plant we use to take up white space on a plate. What's the big deal about parsley?

  • 3 times as much Vitamin C as oranges
  • 2 times as much Iron as spinach
  • Contains Vitamin A, Potassium, and Calcium
  • Diuretic that stimulates kidneys to release waste
  • Contains 4 known cancer-fighting chemicals
  • Tastes like summer!
  • Green leaves = Chlorophyll

A quick perusal of the Internet resulted in a salad idea. Here's my version:

Summer Parsley Salad

One bunch flat Italian parsley (chopped, with stems removed)

1 handful cherry tomatoes (quartered)

1 handful sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons really raw olive oil (try Bariani, as some cold-pressed oils are overheated)

a few drops sesame oil (to taste, and this stuff is strong)

2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon raw agave or raw honey

Combine parsley, mushrooms, tomatoes, and sesame seeds in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and toss. This salad is super-yummy if you allow the flavors to blend for 30 minutes or so.

This really was like eating a bowl of summer. I would've loved to add onions and cucumbers, if I had them. Yummy goodness!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

All in Your Head

Do the foods that make you feel amazing, work because you expect them, too? Does it matter?

Yesterday, I had the same superfood smoothie as in the last post, with bananas instead of coconut flesh, and a couple of tablespoons of ground hemp seeds. Not only did it satisfy my hunger for a really long time, I was flying high. Of course, a raw diet makes us more sensitive to what we eat, and I had more than enough energy to burn through a few items on my project list and to workout. A productive day!

Yesterday's workout: 1 hour on treadmill. Trained chest, back and abs.

Today, Lovely Boyfriend, Wonder Girl and I are hitting the Laguna Beach stairs. I love this workout!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Amazing Superfood Smoothie!

What's a good name for this?

(Measurements are approximate)

Flesh of 2 young Thai coconuts (can sub with a banana or 2)
Water from 1 young Thai coconut (can sub with pure water)
Blend until creamy.

2 and 1/2 tablespoons raw cacao
1 and 1/2 teaspoons green powder (Use your fave; mine included msm*.)
4-5 dashes cinnamon
1 teaspoon maca*
agave, or other sweetener to taste (I used about 1 tablespoon.)
1 and 1/2 cups ice

Blend again. Enjoy!

*I've noticed in forums that a small minority of people seem to have bad reactions to these ingredients. If you choose to try them, be aware and consider starting with tiny amounts.

Raw Chicken Tenders

Wonder Girl and I cheated on this recipe for Raw BBQ Chicken Fingers, which of course contain no meat products (cuz raw chicken flesh is just nasty). It's the first Alissa Cohen recipe I've tried, and I'm so glad I did. We all loved these!

The original recipe calls for sprouted lentils, but they take a few days to sprout, so we used soaked sunflower seeds instead. I still want to try the lentils. I'm curious to see if they'll give an even meatier texture. Next time I'll try making a Raw BBQ sauce for dipping. The sweet and sour sauce we had was delicious, but not what I wanted with these.

We love our dehydrated treats, but like to make sure our meals are still primarily whole, fresh foods, thus the salads.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Raw Food & Fitness

Amazing weekend! Yesterday's, LB and I went to Sand Dune Park and hiked to the top 6 times. We kept the day Raw with a trip to Terra Bella, where we had 2 great salads (one with delectable ranch-dill dressing), and a raw taco. We finished the meal with a donut hole and a brownie bite. Have one cooked donut hole and see how satisfied you feel. Raw food is so much more satiating.

Today, I hosted the fiction writers' workshop that I'm a part of. I served all Raw food, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I picked up prepared raw dolmas and brought home some of the ranch-dill dressing. Dessert: raw peach cobbler (made with frozen peaches). It felt great to have a function where non-raw (but health-minded) people could enjoy what was served, and I could eat it all without a sense of regret.

Hope everyone's weekend was at least as wonderful!

Easily Raw

Mushroom Crepe Filling

Last week was one of the most pleasant I've had with Raw food, and it didn't require a lot of store bought dishes. Credits and thanks go to Chef Jenny, of 118 Degrees. I attended her Raw Basics 101 class last Sunday. It was a 7-hour day of fun, food and inspiration.

Chef Jenny & Tino

Entering class, we were excited to see a young Thai coconut at each of our seats. Great way to start, no? The first thing Jenny and her assistant Tino did was to have each of us come up and open our coconuts, using the method she demonstrated. This was worth the price of admission for me. I used to buy my coconuts at $2.5o each, just because that particular store would open them for me. After class, I went to an Asian market and picked up a basketful of coconuts for 89 cents each! Huge difference!

Some people in class had been Raw for a long time--like April who has 3 years of Raw living behind her, and made us a fabulous chocolate pudding--and others were just sampling the lifestyle, but everyone had something interesting to share.

Jenny provided a booklet for each of us, with information about living foods, juicing, green smoothies and sprouting. The best part: she included lost of recipes, including some of my favorite dishes at her restaurant. How do these sound?

  • Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Coconut Yogurt
  • Kale Tacos
  • Chocolate Ganache
  • Thai Spring Rolls
  • Mushroom Crepes

There were many more, several of which she or we prepared and devoured.

Jenny also invited Rebecca of Home Grown Love, who set up her altar, tuned her crystal singing bowl and proceed to lead us in a Raw Chocolate-making activity. This section of the day did get a bit giddy for some of us.

I didn't really need a Raw Food Basics class. I've got tons of recipes and Raw books, and after watching enough YouTube videos I'd have eventually figured out how to crack that coconut. Still it was worth every penny to spend the day eating great food and hanging out with cool people who are diving into Raw.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Working Out

Working out has been a real pleasure this week--perhaps because I took Monday as a rest day, perhaps because I've been completely Raw. I've been slacking on my green superfood drink, but I'll plan to bring it back in starting tomorrow. Might as well maintain the high!

Sunday - Walked for 1 and 1/2 hours after my Raw Basics class. (more about the class later)

Monday - Complete Rest

Tuesday - Trained chest, back and abs
1 and 1/2 hours on the treadmill

Wednesday - 6x 225 stairs (Loving this workout! Really anxious to increase the reps.)
early morning yoga

When I include it, early morning yoga sets the tone for my day. I wake up and do a slow dry brushing. Then, perhaps after a quick warm-up on the mini-trampoline, I move into my yoga practice. The key here is to do all of this before I have any human interaction. I may have to maintain our separate room policy after I get married again. When I get married again? If I get married again? You know what I mean!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Extending a Helping Hand to the Homeless

Saturday was a wonderfully Raw day! In Santa Monica, I went to RAWvolution. I picked up a great meal, but can't remember exactly what it was. I know I had an onion bread sandwich, which included rich sauce and jerk coconut flesh. I had a stir no-fry and a great dessert as well. Perhaps the details of the meal faded quickly from my memory because of the experience I had earlier that morning--a reminder to be, well . . . mindful.

As I exited the freeway onto Crenshaw Avenue, I noticed a homeless man standing at the light on my side of the street. No surprise--there's almost always someone there selling roses or just asking for spare change. This man--an obvious alcoholic--was old. There was no convincing me that he wasn't somebody's grandpa. If I've learned anything from watching A&E's Intervention each week, it's that every addict has a story; every addict is or was someone's beloved.

My plan was to put on my mascara at the light, but I first emptied out my car's change holder, rolled down the window and dropped the coins in his cup. He shuffled over and smiled his thanks at me. I, of course, wished him a good day and yanked out my mascara wand.

As I was applying the black gunk, I noticed the driver next to me had also rolled down his window. A handsome young black man, he drove a new and very clean Lexus, of the expensive sort. He reached out and dropped a crisp dollar bill into the man's cup, and I was glad to see him do it. (I hope I'm not cheating him out of more credit. I couldn't see the denomination.)

And then the young man did something that hadn't occurred to me, not once in all the times I've given money to those who ask. You see, I'm usually in a rush to get to the next thing, but he wasn't. The young man extended his hand through the car window, shook the older man's hand, and exchanged eye-to-eye words with him. In doing all this, there was no sense that he was hurried. When they were done, the old man shuffled back to his corner, and the younger man looked back at me and nodded his acknowledgement.

And I felt like a bit of a creep. I was so focused on prettifying, I hadn't given all I had to give. Sure, I'd donated the change that I'd later need for the parking meter, but I hadn't given my presence and attention and love. Next time I will.

Note to those of you thinking that man's just going to go buy a bottle with that money: that's his prerogative. I pray that he finds another path to peace, but in the meantime I hope he collected enough cash to get him through the day.

Keep your mind in the moment.
***Graphic from