Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jae's Awesome new cookbook

So for those of you who don't know, Jae Steele, author of Get it Ripe (probably my favourite vegan cookbook as of yet), is in the process of publishing a new book on raw local food! Not only does she amazingly advocate for organic vegan food, the new local angle will be a great recipe collection to help you deal with every season of the year! On the even more awesome note, I'm having the privilege of being one of her recipe testers. It's been ridiculously fun to be able to test all these recipes. I've made twelve so far, so here are a few pics from what I've recently been doing in the kitchen. I have unfortunately been very lazy to take pictures of all of this so there are a couple for now. I also didn't take the time to photograph things like dressings and teas... I promise to be more diligent from now on! 

For a wonderful breakfast (my partner's 'last' cooked vegan feast before going raw with me), here are Jae's tempeh 'soysauge' patties. I served with her fried green tomatoes (my favourite test recipeas of yet!) and a stack of yummy banana pancakes (the pancakes are from Get it Ripe). Oh, and our cat definitely wanted in on the breakfast. (Obviously, I had my own raw breakfast on the side! I just get a kick out of making all this stuff). For the good of humanity and Jae though, I have been tasting what I make for her! Also here, is a picture of her yummy cranberry almond loaf that had the most wonderful marzipan-y warmth to it!

Yum! Next up, the wonders of chiropracting and/or yoga and the power of laziness even if you know doing something is good for you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eat Dance LIVE: Get out there and sweat!

So I realize I've totally been skimping on the dance and live part of my name (I already did note this earlier, but apparently, eating always takes a priority with me)... Though I still do believe that changing your diet changes your worldview, I don't believe any diet is complete without the proper amount of exercise/activity/workout or whatever you choose to call it.

I think the most important thing for anyone who is seriously into working out  to know is to switch it up. Variety IS the spice of life! I see too many unfit girls on ellipticals every day for 45 minutes to 1 hour, and though they keep it at, nothing changes. Once you break the cycle of get on the machine get off the machine, you quickly notice that through excessive repetition our bodies go through workout fatigue: the results we get from doing the same thing every day drastically decrease as the days go on. I've personally found that I have to change whatever my workout routine is every 4-6 weeks, I both get bored from doing the same thing all the time and I always begin to notice a  drop off in results as time passes by. So if you're a cardio addict, switch up what kind you do and through in some weight every once in a while. If you like strength training, make sure to vary your exercises.

I've definitely gone through my share of workout phases. The first time I got 'serious' about my fitness was when my partner and I embarked on Bill Phillip's 12 week Body for Life program (which he had done before to great effect). Though it gave me incredible consciousness of the way I eat (going from 3 meals to about 5 smaller meals a day) and while I fell in love with the high intensity training cardio routines, I gained more muscle mass than I had originally intended through the strength training, so eventually dropped that. Ever since, I've been reading up on different workout programs and have tried lots. Everything from the 3 days of cardio-3 days weights, to 5 days cardio-1 day weights, 20 minute workouts, 1 hours workouts, endurance training, HIIT training, you name it! Either way, I've realized that you have to keep up your strength training no matter what. There are too many proven benefits of doing some weights on a regular basis to give it up (and it gives you that great toned look!). Like your diet, the more you workout the more you will know how to tweak certain aspects of your training to get your body to do exactly what you want it to (that paired with a raw diet and you're golden!).

Currently, I'm on week 3 of the Fitnessista's Summer Shape Up Program that I found through her awesome blog. It's nothing radically new to me, but it's different and super fun! I've gotten to really love the mixed strength training-cardio days. For my own goals and given what I've learned about my body and dealing with weights over the past 3 years, I'm sticking with lower weights and higher repetitions for the strength parts... it's a personal preferences you really learn to determine for yourself.

Above all, know that working is almost completely a mental game. Yes, you're physically exerting yourself but how much you choose to put into that is all in your head. (We've all done the "I can't believe I've only been on this @*!&# machine for 3 minutes!" or the "Maybe just 3 more reps, my [insert excuse here] hurts. I should stop for my good.") Just remember how amazing you feel when you do a good job, how much more energy you have, how great you'll look, etc. When your at the gym or on the track, look at the other fit people around you as inspiration and focus on them and admire them rather than hate on them or choose to focus or criticize the people you perceive as being worse off than you. If you're open to your health and to energy, it'll come!

Happy exercising!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Post-workout Rebound!

What bounces back after a workout? My new raw recipe of course!

Here is my attempt at recreating the health benefits of Nature's Path Rebound Cereal for a quick post-workout snack. I took the cereal box and imitate as much of its ingredients as possible with their raw counterparts, and I got something I'm pretty satisfied with! If a raw counterfeit ever existed to that cereal, I think I just made it:

Rebound Balls

3/4 C sprouted then dehydrated buckwheat groats (grind 1/2 of this amount) or ground oat/wheat flakes
1.5 tbsps flax seeds
1 tsp ground flax
1/2 C ground soaked almonds
pinch of sea salt
cinnamon (to taste)
1 tsp matcha green tea powder
2 tbsps wheat germ
1/4 C sunflower seeds, soaked
1/4 C raisins
1.5 large ripe bananas, well mashed
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp molasses

1. Blend/Mash bananas
2. Add all dry ingredients
3. Add all other wheat ingredients
4. Mix, if it's too dry, add tiny bit of water until you can form them into balls
5. Either chill in fridge, or dehydrate at 105 for 3-4 hours

They're super yummy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Raw Balls Galore!

I have often found since having gone raw that my desire for mid-day foraging has dramatically increased. I think moving to raw foods has dramatically increased. I think moving to raw foods has given me a deeper understanding for what squirrels feel like. Eating such small meals throughout the day really makes you just want to constantly be scavenging for more. I've gotta say it's kind of fun!

But seriously, I have found that the answer to all my foraging needs has been to create quick and easy and super fun raw balls. These can come in as many colors and textures as you like, and I don't think I've ever made the same one twice. As long as they are super pact with nutrients and superfoods, you're good to go. Just bring a couple out to snack on during your day and you'll see the difference it makes! Here are examples of the three most recent ones I've made. Being me, I totally did not take down measurements, but you can figure it out on your own. All you need at the end is a finished product that's smooth yet solid enough to roll into bite-sized balls. Here goes:

Coconut covered Nuts for Nuts Balls
Equal parts ground almonds & cashews
Carob Powder
Raw Honey
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
Pinch of salt
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes for rolling them in

Spirulina Balls
Equal parts ground pecans & walnuts
Ground Flaxseeds
Spirulina Powder
Prunes (I generally always use these instead of dates)
Nature's Path Bran Cereal (not raw)

Cran-Chia Crunch
Equal parts ground cashews & almonds
Chia seeds
Hemp seeds
Ground ginger
Maple Syrup
Hemp Butter
Dried Cranberries
Pinch of salt

As you can see, all of them are packed with different superfoods and are extremely high in everything you need to keep going! These ones are all started with a ground nut-base, but I do know that my last ones had a prune-base, but like I said it's all up to you! I'm planning on making post-workout ones for the hubby next week when he goes raw with me since he usually has Nature's Path Rebound Cereal afterwards :)

All my recipe raw recipes have been my answer to my desire to continue some form of 'baking' since having gone raw. I just finished making a rhubarb-ginger-pear-strawberry pie, and am planning on following that up with a choco-pecan pie. I love this diet! For now, all of these are not dehydrator-based, which I think are really hard to find. Or course a lot of this might become irrelevant as of next week when I will receive my lovely dehydrator in the mail! You have no idea how excited I am! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What is raw food?

I recently realized (merci Clémence!) that though I've now mentioned it a few times, I never actually specified what a raw food diet is, or more importantly, what the raw food diet means to me. In the simplest of terms choosing a diet in raw and living foods is choosing to primarily eat uncooked vegan foods combined in ways to be the healthiest, most digestible and tastiest meals!

When you aren’t simply eating fruits and veggies straight up or in the form of salads, ‘cooking’ raw foods involves nothing more than sprouting grains and seeds, soaking, dehydrating, refrigerating (to solidify snacks and desserts), etc. Like I discovered with veganism, there is nothing you can’t turn into a raw recipe! I’ve seen it all: raw pizzas, cookies, ice cream, pasta, and more.

Cooking-wise, raw foodism is in part based on the idea that heating food above 116 degrees F destroys essential enzymes and nutrients that assist in the digestion and absorption of food. In hippie terms (which I believe in), you are eliminating the ‘life force’ of food by cooking it.

What do I eat? To me, it’s not a matter of what I CAN eat but what I CHOOSE to eat. I don’t like saying any lifestyle I adopt is a restriction. Rather, it’s part of a journey that allows me to discover new foods and new ways of cooking, or in this case, un-cooking! And whose to say the raw vegan diet is boring? What are considered normal foods to a healthy vegan or a raw foodist have never even been heard of by your average person on a SAD (the Standard American Diet): have you ever heard of maca powder, spirulina, goji berries, white mulberries, hemp seeds, agave nectar, carob, or acai?

Things I eat include all kinds of fruit and veggies (both fresh and dried), sprouted grains (I only ever eat these for breakfast), a million types of seaweed (which I’ve always been addicted to), nuts, nut butters, seeds, legumes (they make me feel bloated so I don’t really eat these), waters, teas, etc. Because of my veganism for environmental and health reasons, I've chosen not to incorporate the raw unpasteurized cheeses and other dairy products some people include (though they do look pretty yummy!). With these foods I’ve still been able to spend tons of time in the kitchen, making appetizers, dips, cookies, pies, sushi, juices, smoothies, ice creams, salads and lots of other things people say you can’t make with raw food. When it comes to the kitchen, I don't believe in such a thing as 'I can't'! In fact, experimenting with raw food has only made me think about my food even more and has reinforced my non-recipe book-based creativity!

In only one month of being 80% raw, and about two weeks of being almost 100% raw, I’ve already noticed drastic improvements in my skin, my digestion, weight maintenance (and loss), and overall, I know I’m doing wonders to my health both right now and for the very long term! So next up, my first recorded raw ‘recipe’.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Organic Nutrition: Why WIC needs it

(repost from my article for the Organic Consumers Association)

Ignoring its dedication to providing low-income women, infants, and children with more “nutritious foods”, WIC’s increasing cuts to its list-approved organic foods should no longer be tolerated by WIC recipients nor by responsible taxpayers. As recently mentioned, a growing number of states have been preventing WIC recipients from purchasing organic products based on three major excuses: the ‘high’ cost of organics, a lack of scientific evidence that organic produce is more nutritious than their conventional counterpart, and recipient preferences.

Organic Food and Nutrition

To the OCA, WIC's first major area of concern is the stubborn adherence to the belief that organic produce has not proven to be more nutritious than conventional food. On the contrary, a number of doctors and nutritionists are increasingly telling expecting mothers to favor organics to limit their and their child’s intake and exposure to unnecessary and dangerous pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones rampant in conventional foods.

As stated by 
Pesticide Action Network North Americawhen on a conventional diet, we are exposed to over 70 pesticide-related pollutants on a daily basis. According to licensed nutritionist, Alana Sugar, overconsumption of antibiotic rich foods such as conventional dairy or meat products may also encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria in humans. 

In addition, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded in the 1990s that infants and children faced unique and greater health risks when exposed to pesticides than adults. For over a decade, the NAS urged that policies change to protect “these most vulnerable segments of the population”. However, recent WIC developments seem to be taking a turn for the worse.

In contrast to conventional food, a diet of whole organic foods guarantees a wide array of vitamins and minerals vital to mothers and their children. Organic products are also free of harmful artificial preservatives, coloring and sweeteners, and added chemicals. Organic consumers can also be assured that their foods have not been genetically engineered or irradiated, and have not been grown using sewage sludge and other physically and environmentally harmful substances and practices.

Based on 
an article published in Pregnancy & Childbirth, a 1993 study in the Journal of Applied Nutrition proved that organically grown fruits and vegetables had higher nutritional content than conventional produce: “Organically grown apples, wheat, sweet corn, potatoes and pears were examined over a 2 year period and were 63% higher in calcium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 178% higher in molybdenum, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125% higher in potassium and 60% higher in zinc than conventionally grown produce.” Also, organic meats were not only found to generally leaner, but also have about five times the omegas-3s of conventionally raised beef. Clearly, a wide range of organic produce offers much greater nutritional advantages than conventional products. 

A recent 
2009 Report published by the Organic Center counters many of the nutrition-based excuses used by Washington state to justify its decision to take organic milk off the WIC approved food list. The report cites research by the University of Washington and Emory University showing that consuming organic produce is the most dependable way to eliminate unsafe exposure to pesticides and hormones. According to the OC and based on data collected by the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, switching to organic food reduces ones pesticide intake by over 95%.

WIC’s Negative Effect on Health

However, instead of buying organic, WIC recipients are now forced to purchase milk from hormone-ingested cows, conventional GM-derived wheat and soy products, and fruits and vegetables the USDA has tested to contain up to over 30 different kinds of pesticides.

The American Pregnancy Association itself has long advocated for pregnant women and their children to avoid pesticide exposure. They have gone as far as recommend that women living in conventional agricultural areas move away from them during their pregnancies. Indeed, researchers have found pesticide residue in the amniotic fluid of 70% of newborns birthed in conventional agricultural areas.

Many experts now agree that the biggest risk to an unborn child is a mother’s intake of the pesticides and herbicides hidden in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables; organic foods however still did not show sufficient benefits to Washington and other states. While pesticides and chemicals have been shown to cross from a mother to her child through the placenta, organic food continues to be taken off WIC approved food lists.

The effects of pesticides found in conventional produce have undeniable effects on children at all stages of their development. From the first trimester during which a baby’s nervous system begins to develop to the early stages of a child’s life when his or her organs are still maturing, buying organic produce gives children the head start they need to lead an optimally healthy life. 

Pregnant women who chose organic are helping their children develop the healthiest endocrine system possible to regulate metabolism and tissue function. Unlike a growing majority of children, those with a healthy endocrine system have the capacity to manage their weight and blood sugar levels, curbing the trillions of dollars spent annually on health care to fight growing rates of childhood obesity and the “middle-aged diseases” now suffered by too many children in America.

At this point, to say organic produce holds no nutritional or health-related benefits seems thoroughly illogical.