Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Beauty of the Avocado

We had some friends over and fell into a discussion of all the fruit we have on our kitchen counter. They confessed that they've only recently discovered a love of avocado. The lightning bolt struck while they dined in a Mexican restaurant. A gentleman prepared table-side guacamole for them, and it was love at first bite.

Everyone in our house adores avocado. We put it on salads, in soups or dips, on onion bread, in veggie bowls, or just eat it out of the shell. I was caught up in the food discussion, but I should've shared some information about the benefits of avocados.

As I move away from using a lot of processed fats in the forms of oil, avocados rise up the ranks on my ingredient lists. They pack a good serving of monounsaturated fat in the nature's original package, which means that fat comes with a generous serving of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients.

I know that some people choose to avoid avos (as well as nuts and seeds) because they subscribe to a low-fat way of eating. I've done my research, and for me healthy fats in reasonable amounts are the way to go.

Juice Feast - Day 29. Check it out!

Friday, May 28, 2010

What I Miss While I Juice Feast

I really miss being able to experiment in the kitchen. Sure I can make lots of different juice combinations, but that's not as much fun as really getting involved in creating a new recipe. I still prepare my family's meals--sometimes three meals a day--but I can't sample the food, so I stick pretty closely to the tried and true dishes I know they'll like.

I'm on Day 28 of my juice feast, and though I miss playing in the kitchen, I'm quite content on my feast. Everyone around me is eating, including some of my favorite dishes, but for now I don't feel drawn to the food. Surprisingly, I'm not tired of juice either. I'm always glad for a break from the process of making juice, but unless I'm feeling rushed, the prep is a fairly peaceful routine.

I have dozens of recipe ideas written down, as well as recipes from other blogs. Can't wait to try them. I may have to start posting the things I'm making for the fam.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pesticides Linked to ADHD

Organic produce costs more than conventional, and sometimes it's easy to forget why we pay that extra money. Pesticides and fungicides have been linked to several negative effects, especially in children.

Other negative effects linked to the junk that's regularly sprayed on produce:
  • deficits in memory and motor skills
  • behavioral problems
  • childhood leukemia
  • other cancers
  • unhealthy weight gain

Remember the Dirty Dozen are the common fruits and vegetables that are most often heavily contaminated with chemicals, and make it a priority to purchase organic options for those on the dirty list.

Visit my juice feast blog, Candice on Juice, for a discussion of Managing Emotions and how food and juice play into that.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Eating for Excellence

As you peruse raw food blogs and websites, it's easy to forget that this way of eating isn't all about gourmet meals and fancy desserts, both of which I truly enjoy. Any conscious eating-style should be about eating for excellence, while minimizing the amount of harm or suffering brought to people, animals, and the earth. The recent lecture I attended by Dr. Joel Fuhrman reminded me of some things that make a high raw diet a diet for excellent health, longevity, beauty, and vitality.

An excellent diet should:
  • be vegetable-based
  • be built on a foundation of leafy greens
  • include high amounts of raw fruits
  • include raw nuts, seeds, and avocados for healthy fats in their natural states
  • minimize animal products (no more than a couple of servings/week)
  • focus on organics as much as possible
  • minimize cooked grains
  • minimize sodium
  • minimize processed foods, including oils of all types, (yes, even olive oil)

The last 2 points are often neglected in the raw food world. Personally, I hadn't emphasized them enough in my own diet until I was reminded by Dr. Fuhrman's lecture. If you're not sure why reducing sodium and oil consumption matter in a raw food diet, please follow the links for more information. As always, the best way to decide is by doing your own research.

While Dr. Fuhrman doesn't advocate a raw food diet, the plan he advocates can easily be tailored to a high raw eating-style. The man is telling people to eat a pound a day of raw vegetables, in addition to high amounts of raw fruits, and a healthy portion of raw nuts and seeds each day! The main difference is that he also encourages high consumption of cooked beans and legumes. Soups and stews are also big in his diet plan as a means to help people consume enough calories from high nutrient vegetables. Dr. Fuhrman argues that this balance of raw and cooked vegetables allows one to benefit from a wider variety of nutrients, as some nutrients are destroyed by cooking and others are made more available.

Dr. Fuhrman's new two book set, Eat for Health, is well worth reading. Book 2 includes many raw recipes,--smoothies, juices, salads, and dressings--and other recipes that can be converted to raw, or included in whatever percentage of cooked food you choose to eat. Book 1 is a primer in nutrition-based health, and even if you know a lot about nutrition, I'd be willing to bet you'd discover something new among those pages.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Season for Juicing

I don't think I would've been so enamored of a winter juice feast. Watermelon and canteloupe juice have made my feast more fun than it might otherwise be. Watermelon is my current favorite fruit juice! This is my 20th day. Visit Candice on Juice to see how it's going.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Giving Up (Sort of)

Melina, my oldest, arrived home from college a little over a week ago. While she's a veggie, dorm life has affected her eating habits. It saddened me to hear her talk about how she missed certain foods and food products that are clearly detrimental to her health. It was harder still to listen to what she ate when she met a friend for dinner. Let's just say deep frying was involved.

While raising Melina, my idea of good nutrition evolved from a low-fat version of the Standard American Diet to a High Raw, High Vegan pursuit of excellent health. For the last few years, it's made her happy to know meat won't be served in our meals, and she's embraced everything from green smoothies, to wheatgrass shots, to marinated veggies on big salads with homemade dressings. Still, she may have forgotten how different our eating-style really is.

The second day she complained to her sister. "I can't eat only fruit. I feel sick from all this healthy food." I told her that was a little thing called detox and reminded her that she'd consumed lots of healthy foods that weren't fruits. I spent hours trying to figure out how to get her all the way back to my end of the eating spectrum before she leaves at the end of the month to complete her summer research internship.

The thing is that she's enjoyed every one of the three meals a day I've made since she came home. And she'd happily indulged in smoothies blended up by her little sis. I'm juice feasting, which has it's own challenges, so I decided to give up the teen diet fight. I didn't give up on setting an example, or providing the best possible foods, or teaching her about why we eat the way we do. I gave up on the idea of control.

I've given her as much knowledge as I could. She enjoys the best foods on earth, and she knows how to prepare many of them to make a tasty and healthy meal. Her mind is open to new things, and she recognizes the connection between food and health. When she's away from me, she'll eat a slightly better version of the diet eaten by lots of college kids. That's the way it is. I'm trusting that as she matures and grows she'll let go of the junk and come home to real food.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sick of Spinach

When I first transitioned to raw foods, I relied heavily on spinach as the green in my diet, especially for green smoothies and juices. I took some time to acclimate to the taste of stronger greens, like kale and collards, but as I ate more of them, I found myself craving them more and more. Greens are now the foundation of our diet, and rotating our greens allows us to get a wider variety of nutrients. I'm not really sick of spinach, but I do like to include other things.

If you've had your fill of spinach, try some of these in your juices, smoothies, and yep, even salads, though some of the tougher greens would need to be massaged and/or marinated for salad purposes.

Mache (or Lamb's Lettuce)
Swiss Chard
Rainbow Chard
Red Leaf Lettuce
Green Leaf Lettuce
Turnip Greens
Mustard Greens
Bok Choy
Beet Greens
Dandelion Greens
Basil, Cilantro, and other Herbs

Search your local produce section or farmer's market and see what greens you can find to mix it up a bit.


BTW- My 11 year old daughter and I went to the doctor together today, and the nurse was surprised to find that our blood pressure measurements were within a few points of each other. Thank you, raw food!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Giving Thanks

So grateful for my health, my wholeness, my life, my place as a friend, partner and mother. Thank you for my daughters, healthy and hale, the Lovely Boyfriend Avery, and every friend I've made, past and present, near and far. Thank you for the depth and breadth and strength of my family. Thank you for a new chance to do better and be better each day, for the large leaf magnolia I discovered this afternoon, and for every passing dog, small child, teenager, or elderly couple that made me smile in the park. For the joyful wedding rehearsal under the gazebo and the opportunity to witness it, thank you. Thank you for your goodness, your mercy, and your grace.

A pick-up truck rear-ending you on the freeway . . . not good, but not so bad when you walk away and still have all of the above.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Luck on My Side

Last Thursday I opened my mailbox to discover a package from Philip at Loving Raw. I won a jar of Better Than Roasted Almond Butter from his recent give-away. Thanks, Philip!

Some things I love to do with raw almond butter:
  • spread it on Breakfast Crusts and top with fresh fruit
  • blend 1-2 Tbsp with 1 cup water and a couple of dates for a quick almond milk
  • make a thai-inspired sauce for pad thai (with kelp noodles, these days)
  • create dips and dressings
  • sneak a spoonful
I'd love to save this little jar of deliciousness for after my juice feast, but my daughter, Melina, comes home from college this weekend, and I doubt the almond butter will survive her first week in the house.

If you're not familiar with Philip's story, you should know he lost over 215 pounds after going raw, and has maintained a healthy weight for some years now. He's also done a 100 day juice feast. And his girlfriend, Heather, posts some of the best looking raw food on the web. Check them out.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Four Course Dinner in the Raw

Last Friday was the eve of my juice feast. (I'm getting a separate blog organized to document that.) As luck would have it, we also had our friend, Germaine, visiting from L.A., and she's dabbling in raw food these days. The Lovely Boyfriend and I decided we should go all out to provide her a delicious meal on the road, and to kick off my feast.

We set the table on the deck, brought out the organic wines, and spent the evening under the stars. (Apologies to any neighbors we kept up with our late night talk and laughter.) It was such a great meal!

What better to start with than red pepper soup? With the cost of organic peppers, we haven't been able to indulge very often, so we were happy to share this simple blend of raw red peppers with seeds, miso, olive oil, sea salt and white pepper.

No meal is complete without something leafy and green. We made our version of this raw Ranch dressing, and topped the mix of veggies with raw eggplant bacon.

Most folks who are sort of new to raw foods tend to go for things with familiar names and flavors, so we chose the raw lasagna from Matt Amsden's Rawvolution. Never content with what's on the page, we tripled or quadrupled the amount of mushrooms and played with the seasonings. So good!

Avery was kind enough to whip up the dessert while I went to hear Dr. Joel Fuhrman speak at a free lecture on Friday afternoon. He chose Sarma's Strawberry Tarts, from Carol Alt's second raw food book, The Raw 50. We hadn't tried them before, but we'll absolutely be having them again! So good! I could only watch Ave have a leftover tart for breakfast the next morning while I drank my juice. No sympathy--he sat right next to me and devoured it! (No worries, Ave.)

Much to our delight, Germaine enjoyed the meal from start to finish. I was thrilled to learn that she's signed up for a raw food delivery service, and will be receiving weekly prepared meals. Go, Germaine!

This was the kind of meal we could serve to our friends who have no concept of raw. You know the ones. They call us the tofu-eaters, but they would love all of this. No tofu involved.

P.S. Day 4, and I'm loving my juice feast!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Monster for Kids


My eleven year old and I went to a local festival, sort of a pre-Cinco de Mayo celebration in downtown Atlanta. The live band was cool, but we were a little disappointed with the other offerings. There were only a few activities for the kids. The whole event seemed to be about the corporate sponsors giving away cheap trinkets, or the opportunity to win cheap trinkets, in exchange for names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers.

We did a quick perusal of the grounds and noticed a long line forming. There were people of every age waiting patiently for something we thought must be good. We walked the length of over 100 people to check it out.

Monster. The energy drink. That's what people stood in line for on a hot humid day. We watched kids as young as 5 and 6 years old walking away from the stand with their little hands wrapped around sweaty cans of that brew. They and their parents sipped happily.

Here's what's in the can:

Carbonated Water, Sucrose, Glucose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Taurine, Sodium Citrate, Color Added, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, L-Carnitine, Caffeine, Sorbic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Niacinamide, Sodium Chloride, Glucuronolactone, Inositol, Guarana Seed Extract, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Sucralose, Riboflavin, Maltodextrin, Cyanocobalamin.