Monday, July 26, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust...

... mosquito that is. Well, I hope so anyway.

Summer in many areas of North America often means it's time to try to avoid the mosquitos, so here are my five cents on that topic. Because of an impending camping trip, we've been dietarily preparing for the hoards of mosquitos that one finds in the Canadian wilderness, and believe me there are plenty. In a lot of campgrounds it seems that mosquitos have actually grown immune to every kind of repellent from the oh-so-chemically-laden DEET to 100% organic citronella. I've tried every kind of natural repellent: rosemary, citronella, lavender, you name it. None of them work.

To make matter worse, mosquitos love me. Now I know that everyone says this, but I think my blood won some kind of mosquito-friendly award I wasn't aware of when I was a baby. On my first camping trip, I got over 30 bites on just one leg in one night. Everyone else? A couple bites, maybe a few more over there... the next night, I got bites on my face, my eyelid, and more. Ick.

But no more! I decided this could not happen again. At the time, I downed anti-histamines like there was no tomorrow just to cope with the pain and itching. But even then, I knew how bad that was so I took matters into my own hands and did some serious mosquito repelling research. In conclusion, I come with three pieces of advice for you that are the only ones that have worked for me:

1) Wear light colored clothes (like white and off-white instead of black). I don't remember why this works, but it does.

2) Stay clean. And by that I mean shower. I know you're camping and want to forget life's little inconveniences, but mosquitos thrive on sweat and dirt, so the cleaner you are, the more likely they are to leave you alone. (Use citronella shampoo or soap for an extra bonus).

3) Diet. Mosquitos like to bite people who have eaten high-potassium foods. So if you know a camping trip is coming up, refrain from eating these foods for a least 3-4 days before your trip (that's how long your body may take to cycle out all those foods and related-nutrients). On our most recent trip, we avoided eating high-potassium foods for about 4-5 days before our trip. So no bananas, strawberries, melons, brazil nuts, and we avoided mangos as well (though I'm not sure why). (p.s. isn't it awesome that I can google-image "no bananas" and actually get thousands of hits?)

The results were amazing. Using these three tips, I reduced my mosquito bites from over 50 by the end of the trip to less than 10 the next year. Yes, you do have to plan ahead, but trust me, it's worth it.

On top of that, I'm going to take the opportunity to mono-fruit our meals while we're there just to make life easier. I'm obviously sticking with "mosquito-safe" fruits. For 6 days, we've accumulated 15 grapefruit (also nature's own sunscreen and after-sun food!), 12 apples, 8 peaches, 2 bags of grapes (green and purple) and 6 oranges. I'm pumped.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Birth

Yes, it has begun... the long birth process of my very own kombucha scoby mother. For someone whose pretty lax about sanitation in the kitchen when cooking for myself (double-dipping, re-using mixing bowls, etc.), it's interesting to see how OCD I get about cleanliness the minute anything fermented is involved. Because I assume that things can easily go wrong with the fermentation process (mould, too much oxygen, unclean utensils, etc.) I read the instructions to my starter culture about 10 times and checked out all sorts of kombucha making websites before even touching anything. I was also extra careful to follow the instructions word for word and was probably more sanitary than I have been my entire life. (This coming from someone who has to be tied down to just follow a recipe.) Given the care I've put into this, I'm sure it's going to work awesome though!

Starting your own kombucha culture is pretty easy actually. All I had to do was boil water in a steel pot, add in some organic cane sugar (which my scoby mother will feed upon), tea bags (I opted for green tea), and let it steep over high heat. Then I let it cool down to room temperature, transfered it to its new home (a big glass jar) and put my scoby mother and the tea she was steeping in into it. Now, I've placed the jar in a shaded warm place and will wait for about 5-10 days for the scoby to form a baby. At that point, the tea in the bottle will have fermented into a home-made kombucha drink. Plus, with two scobys, I'll be able to double my kitchen kombucha farm capacity! It's like Amish Friendship Bread, but a healthy version...

I find it particularly appropriate that right as I'm starting kombucha births in our home, we'll be off to a camping festival in a little bit that always has a theme. This year's is "the Quickening," a term from Celtic lore meaning the first stirrings of a baby in the womb, the power a seed has to begin sprouting, or an idea when it first crosses your mind and leads you to take actions to change your life. Coincidence? I think not.

But strange is the attachment that is growing between this mother scoby and I, it's like a new pet.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Share the Love

So, one of the many reasons to have awesome friends is that when they discover a really amazing place to eat, they share it with you. (Okay, so that was a pretty lame reason to want to have friends, but as a foodie, I guess it's still pretty high on the list.) Though we just moved into Ottawa, we do know a few people here and one of them told us he just discovered a really amazing restaurant in the middle of a random strip mall that not only had organic vegan food but raw options as well. We saw him a couple days ago and he said we had to try it, and that he was trying to tell as many people as possible and share the love. We agreed to go on one condition: that we go with him and meet his significant other, to which he readily agreed, though now I know it was probably more for the food, then our company!

It's a small place called Cafe My House that we would never have found on our own. Like I said, it was totally randomly situated. Who knew you could find organic vegan food in the middle of a street with big box stores and in the middle of a mini strip mall? They did!

I think the first thing I have to say is very rare is the restaurant than anyone can eat at, but this was the place. It wasn't raw, it wasn't vegan, it wasn't for omnivores, it was for everyone. There were raw dishes, cooked dishes, vegan dishes, vegetarian dishes, gluten-free dishes, omnivore dishes, you name it. If you eat that way, they can make it for you. Now I actually know there is a place you can take everyone and anyone, and your whole dinner party will be satisfied. It doesn't seem like that says a lot, but it does!

Without further ado, our eats starter with raw vegan smoothies (sending out friend love for not thinking I'm weird to take pictures of our food!):

There was a delicious key lime pie smoothie
(avocado, banana, lime, agave, and other stuff I can't remember)

An amazing chocolate latte
(almond milk, cinnamon, cacao nibs, cacao powder, and more I didn't note)

And one more that I didn't get a picture of, but was my favourite: a cilantro mango green smoothie, whose flavors were a perfect match for one another.

We then moved on and shared a raw starter:

mango-cucumber rolls with a fabulous pine-nut sauce
(is it wrong that I feel that I can meet new people
and still feel like I can lick my plate because the food is so good?)

I had the best nori avocado salad of my life (though this is nothing new, I determined that if I had to pick three raw foods I had to live with forever, seaweed would be one of them, with mangos as a close second... I have yet to determine my third.):

I also munched on some of Andrew's raw pasta with a pine-nut pesto (so pretty, no?):

Our friend had the best looking vegan french toast I have ever seen (I am almost never tempted by cooked food, but this was definitely one such occasion):

And last but not least, his girlfriend had the most aromatic and comfort-food looking Morrocan quinoa pilaf:

Everyone was very very satisfied! And if my day wasn't exciting enough, this is what I found earlier at one of our natural food stores today:

Yes, that IS my very own kombucha starter culture

I know it's a terrible picture but this is what it looks like (as Averie said, it kind of looks like an uncooked chicken breast, though you can't really see it here):

That is a scoby (aka. a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts). It's a kind of mommy mushroom that's going to make me plenty of baby kombucha cultures so I can have some every day forever. It cost us about $20, which might seem like a lot, but considering that a kombucha drink usually goes for $4-5 a pop, this is a deal if I can keep making it for that little for as long as I wish! I plan on getting it started tomorrow so it can ferment in a warm quiet place while we go off camping (yes, camping, I'm so Canadian already, I know).

Friday, July 23, 2010

His & Hers

I and most of my fellow food bloggers are some "special" diet. Whether we're are vegan, bee-gan, vegetarian, high-protein, low fat, raw, or some permutation of all of those and more. The other similarity between a lot of us is that we have a significant other, one who may or may not be on the same dietary road as we are. Now, a lot of you might think that that could lead to some complications, that we would have to prepare two different meals three or more times a day, and that our choices could quickly become a hassle, inconvenient, or downright frustrating. But not so! This post is about how you can make a his and hers food lifestyle work for you, if the two of you aren't 100% on the same culinary wavelength.

I'm lucky enough that my other half is on the same path I am. For the most part, we are both raw bee-gans (though we both hate that kind of categorization, as Andrew just said he doesn't want to be an "-an" or "-ist" anything). The only difference being that he probably eats twice as much as I do and maintains much higher protein levels than mine to maintain his manly mass, haha. While he will eat some things I don't necessarily, like raw tofu or most protein powders, it totally works. Here are a couple ways we make it happen:

Option 1: The Hers and His Meal +
Most of the time, I use the "hers" meal as a base. If I'm making us smoothies in the morning, I'll mix "my" base ingredients (so fruit, water, and superfood powders), and then pour out my half. To the second portion, I'll add protein powders, raw granola, etc. turning it into a "his" meal. So while we're almost eating exactly the same thing, his has a couple extra ingredients that fulfill his needs, while I can stick to mine. Another example is if I just want salad for dinner, that will be my meal and will be his side dish. To his plate, I'll add whatever I'm in the mood to make or he's in the mood to eat, whether it's some raw tofu dish or a raw burger or sandwich. Obviously, the possibilities are endless, whatever your meal is, you can always just add a side of meat, tofu, bread, rice or whatever he eats but you don't. For a raw and non-raw couple, I've seen people dehydrate their burger while baking their hubbies, or something to that effect. This way you aren't cooking two completely different meals but just making a "plus" version of yours. It saves time, and every body is happy with their yummy portion-tailored meals!

Today's Option 1 Example: Post-workout recovery snack

Hers: Banana whip (made with 1 1/2 bananas),
matcha goo (1/2 banana mixed with matcha green tea powder), and cinnamon
His: the Hers version + 1 tsp almond butter + crumbled high-raw recovery bars

Option 2: The Just Do Whatever His & Hers
Sometimes, you're just in the mood to create, but you don't want a big meal yourself. That's a great time to use your "his" meal as your opportunity to get creative. In other words, in this case, you are making two "separate" meals. Sometimes, it means you are using completely different ingredients than the ones going in your meal. Sometimes, it just means using a few similar items.

Today's Option 2 Example: Breakfast

His: The infamous Chocolate-Cherry Bomb VOO
(I tried to make my pic look as sexy as Angela's)
Hers: banana whip with spirulina

Option 3: The His = Hers
Of course, lots of the time you guys want to eat the same thing. And really, there's nothing easier than that! While you can make your own separate plates with different portions in it, we just like to keep it simple by sticking everything on one big plate (or in one big bowl), grabbing two forks, and dishing it out together.

Today's Option 2 + 3 Example: Dinner

His & Hers: Big salad
His: Raw Burger

In the end, the most important thing is to include each other and one another's food choices when you eat. Whether you're eating together on the go or sitting down for a meal, love and support is what it's all about. Not only does sharing in each other's food experiences keep you both physically healthy, connecting at an emotional level through meal time is as a good a way to keep the bond strong! Sitting down for meals with your family or your partner is one of the few times in your day when you can just sit down and "be." Make it a habit whenever you can! Happy couples eat together. (photo from here)

P.S. I just recognized that I in no way intended to make this post totally hetero-centric. However, limitations of language often make it that that's the way we express ourselves. I think you can guess that what I'm trying to say is whoever you are cooking for, and whatever your situation is, if there are dietary differences between you, it can always work!

P.P.S. Yes, the oh so generous Averie is having yet another giveaway! This time it's for an awesome new raw recipe book! It's a good one so check it out :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Beauty Products"

A number of events over the past few days have given me the drive to rant again. While I often go on about food or fitness, today's topic is beauty. My first point: Beauty is not vanity if it is pursued with self-love and care.

I've talked about skin and "beauty regimens" before, but I'll stress again that if I learned one lesson from my mom (though I promise I've learned many), it's that your skin is your biggest organ and because it's on the outside, it deserves a lot of care. The problem is that most of us believe that taking care of our skin is a vanity. We have equated getting a botox treatment or splurging on some wrinkle cream with getting a natural exfoliation treatment or putting organic lotion on every night. To me, the first is unhealthy, while the latter is totally healthy, and is just basic health and wellness care.

I've been made to feel that going for a facial was like I was going to commit a crime, that I was being overly self-indulgent, or that I was wasting my money and resources. But why? Is it such a crime to want one of my major organs to be in peek health? No one questions if you are following treatments to detox your liver or clean out your bowels? So why hate on skin? Because most people don't see the difference between proper skin maintenance and the "glamour" of the beauty industry.

Glamour literally used to mean "an enchantment or spell", and that's what its industry tries to achieve. "Beauty products" in the most basic sense are glamour: they try to make you something you are not. They make your hair straight when it's frizzy, make your skin tan when it's pale. What I'm talking about is basic maintenance, like taking a shower or using soap. Those activities aren't seen as indulgent, neither is brushing your teeth! So why isn't keeping your skin healthy and hydrated with some help from lotions and cleaners from some reliable companies that use organic plant-based products?

Of course I believe that the number one way to stay beautiful on the inside and out is through diet (aka. raw food) and by maintaining a healthy attitude about yourself, there is nothing wrong (and I in fact advise) that you help keep your skin smooth and aglow by using lotion (or coconut butter) and other things like weekly (or monthly) masks. The reason I love going for facials (something I only do whenever I can, which ends up being about twice a year) is to have my pores totally cleaned out with the little extractor thing they use to clear out the stuff that accumulates as a result of our polluted world. Like I said, it's maintenance. A proper skin care regimen is like keeping your car properly oiled, while freaking out by getting neck tucks or using collagen is like putting chrome rims on a neglected vehicle.

If that's inspired you, my favourites are the products made by Pangea Organics. If you buy stuff from them online, they always have some sort of deal going on. Yes, some people might say it's expensive, but they are one of the only brands that are legit in terms of how they source their ingredients (and if you read their label, you can actually recognize all of the contents!). Also, Dr. Bronner's is super for basics like soap, lip balm, and lotion. I also used to use Jurilique products before I found Pangea, but I switched over because Jurilique is made in Australia (you can actually visit their herb farm) and so my "beauty miles" were higher than Pangea's stuff which comes from the U.S. But for all the Aussies out there, go for it! Finally, if you really do care, the one thing that isn't skin care related that I actually use is eyeliner. That's it. So at least, I do try to live up to what I say!

If that's not enough, here's more for today's food for thought:

Also, for the more activist perspective, check out the Organic Consumers Association's campaign to create standards for beauty products and cosmetics!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Raw Food Sensations

Given yesterday's recipe, you'll noticed that I've been on a summer melon jag recently. Today's breakfast and lunch were variations on my melon sensation. The morning version had mint and ginger and the lunch version had stevia leaves. Tasting the leaves from my stevia plant were the first time I ever tasted stevia, and I have to say, it was... different. Funny thing is, I've only ever seen it in powder form, and to me, it tastes just like artificial sweeteners. It's what I remembered Sweet N' Low to taste like (which I've only had once when I was a kid before my mom noticed, and horrified, told me it was "fake sugar." I never had it since!) Though I love my plant, I'm not sure stevia is a plant I'll get use to.

Dinner was zucchini pasta with marinara sauce, and Andrew's dessert was vanilla ice cream with raw cookie pieces. He came up with the brilliant idea to top his vanilla with raw honey, which hardens it like I've heard people do with corn syrup. He also topped that with chia seeds which gave it an extra special crunch. Try it out next time you get your hands on raw ice cream!

(That pic was the ice cream I made for him yesterday: chocolate and vanilla ice cream with candied pecans and broken chocolate pieces)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Cooler

When it's hot, drink more water. Otherwise, here's another solution: eat fruit that's in season and the more water in the fruit the better! The hotter it gets the more I crave sweeter more watery fruits anyway. I want the ones that dribble down your chin with yummy sticky juices like peaches, watermelon, honeydews, or mangos... mmm.

Here's what I came up with when the heat was just too much to bear, and it hit the spot perfectly:

Watermelon Sensation
a few very generous chunk of watermelon
4 or 5 ice cubes

optional ingredients (not necessarily all at the same time):
1/2 to 1 C of canteloupe
1 tsp grated ginger
peppermint leaves

1. Blend everything in a good strong blender (aka. Vitamix).
If not thick and icy enough, add ice.
2. Pour and top with a sprig of mint!

Stay cool!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

London Trippin'... London, Ontario that is...

And I thought I was done with recap posts... Sorry for the disappearance without notice (once again). Andrew and I took a week-long trip to London to visit the Canadian 'rents and I thought we'd have internet sooner. However, it happened to be down right when we got here until today.

One of the things that other raw foodists have convinced me to do is to be more honest about my diet. No matter what it's about, I hate inconveniencing people, so you can imagine how shy I am to tell people I'm on a raw diet. When we go over to people's places, I usually insist that making a salad is totally fine, or that my hosts don't even have to bother because I can just bring my own food. However, reading about people like Felicia over at the (Teen)age of Raw (a fifteen year old on raw diet, who also has more balls than I do to tell her friends' parents that she's on a raw diet when she goes over) have motivated me not to be ashamed of my choices. I'm on a raw diet because I think it's the right thing to do. So why should I hide it? It shouldn't offend people, it's not like I'm trying to convert them. I'm doing my own thing, so where's the problem really?

First step towards growth: the raw restaurant we wanted to eat at in Guelph was closed, but we were starving so ate at a snazzy place next door called Atmosphere. Because the place wasn't too busy, I decided to try my new luck and be what I see as being "picky" about my food. I was eyeing their bruschetta platter, which had olive tapenade, pine nut hummus, goat cheese and a tomato salsa on slices of bread, so we asked if they could switch the bread for sliced veggies and hold the cheese. They said of course, and even asked what we wanted to replace the cheese with so we asked for more hummus! It was amazing, and very pretty.

Andrew also got their cucumber, tomato, corn, edamame, sesame seed salad, which had a slice of raw cabbage coleslaw on the side. It was spicy, sweet, sour, and each flavor hit your palate in stages. Yum.

I figured, it pays off to be picky... A very demanding girl at the table besides ours during a later restaurant visit in Stratford's York Street Kitchen proved to me that on a picky scale of 1 to 10, I'm apparently on the very low end. Though I forgot my camera, I would definitely recommend going there whether you're an omnivore, vegetarian, or even a raw vegan. They have something for everyone, and I had the best raw mango gazpacho I've ever had. I definitely want to try to recreate it when I get home.

In all honesty, part of my raw food angst was that I didn't want to take over the kitchen of my still-recently new family by bringing over all my "strange" raw food devices (though I did bring over the Vitamix). For that reason amongst others, London wasn't exactly being very fulfilling in the raw organic foodie department. However, after 4 days straight of fruits and pretty boring salads, Andrew took a stand and said I should just make some raw dishes, leave them on the table, and slowly work my magic into his family's diet. It worked like a charm.

I made a giant dish of my 100% raw-ified adapation of Averie's amazing Apple Crumble, and my very own Cauliflower Couscous. This batch of couscous had marinated red peppers, grape tomatoes, parsley, pine nuts, raisins, baby broccoli, and spinach. I was trying to make it as colorful and appealing as possible. I'm proud to say the crumble is gone, and I have one single serving of cauliflower couscous left. There were tons of leftovers of all the cooked food though.
Raw Diet 1 - SAD diet O.

On another high note, Andrew and I checked out the one vegan place in downtown London on the second day we were here. It was a super cute restaurant called Veg Out. We knew we'd love it because almost all their produce is organic and local when possible. They were the only game in town that had raw food options. There was one raw item per menu "section", so we shared all of them. Here were all of the tasty dishes:

The Starter: Collard Rolls (seasonal veggies wrapped in collard greens with a date walnut crumble, and sweet chili sauce)

The Main Course: Beet Ravioli (marinated stuffed beets with a cilantro pesto, seasonal greens and veggies, and a side of raw slaw)

The Drink: Banana Strawberry Smoothie with an extra scoop of Vega

The Dessert: Raw Blueberry Chocolate Tart

After so many salads and straight up fruits, this was really great! Whatever they stuffed the beet ravioli with was savory perfection and the dessert was the perfect way to end a raw foodie depravation week! Given what a good job they do, I certainly hope they switch up their raw food options next time we're in town to try something new!

While I could probably live off of fruits and salad and be very content, I like having my options and this week has definitely had it's yummy share of them! See you tomorrow :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

110th time's the charm...

First off, thanks for all the comments on yesterday's post about my trip to the freak zoo. I really appreciate hearing that I'm not all alone in thinking the way I do about the current state of our food and ag system!

But on to today... What does a food blogger write about when she realizes only after 3/4 of her day is done that all the meal pictures she took today were shot without a memory stick in her camera? Grrr. I think I've done this about 109 times now. You'd think I might have learned to check!

I was really excited about my breakie this morning because it was the first meal for a new era. I was super psyched because today was the first day of my new three month fitness program designed by the awesome Laury Raiken of the Fitness Dish. After asking me about my goals, current lifestyle, and more, she's designed a program directly suited to meet my needs. I have total the confidence that this is going to rock my world. Not to give too much away, I'll be doing strength training 3 days a week, and core + cardio/yoga three days a week. It's similar to my previous workouts, but with fresh new moves and my belief in its success!

To prepare for my first AM strength workout, I started our day with the infamous vegan overnight oats I've been hearing so much about thanks to the blog world. Mine were made up of overnighted oat groats, a Vitamixed-banana, mesquite and maca powder, cinnamon, a dash of salt, a teaspoon of pea protein, and a hint matcha green tea for an anti-oxidant boost. It was awesome, and I KNOW it fueled my workout like nothing else (imagine a pretty picture of it next to this paragraph)! My muscles were wonderfully exhausted afterwards, but I stayed incredibly alert and energized for the rest of the day. Thank you, Laury!

Post-recovery snack was 1/2 a grapefruit, and lunch followed about 30 minutes after that. It consisted in a salad beast with some of Meredith's Red Pepper Flax Crackers. It too was very yummy and should have been immortalized in photo.

Dinner was my kitchen experimentation of the day. I've seen so many raves about Matt Amsden's Rawvolution Onion Bread that I had to turned it into the crust for mushroom spinach tartlets. While his book has a recipe for mushroom-spinach quiche, I made up the filling as I was going along. I thought the result was awesome, but I can definitely see how it would come off too strong for some (aka. Andrew, whose nemeses are onions and mushrooms. This recipe? Not a winner for his palate). I had one for dinner, followed by a dessert of blueberry strawberry mush.

To make up for the quiche, I made Andrew his own yummy dessert: chocolate chipotle mousse topped with peaches. It was the usual avocado, agave, cacao powder, vanilla, and dash of salt recipe, but I added a chipotle pepper in adobo to the mix. What I tasted of it was really really good, but maybe that's because I haven't had chocolate in about a week!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Transgenic Goats, Obese Pigs, and Stolen Bikes, Oh my!

Prepare yourselves for a long rant.

So I think that I've officially been banned from having the right to pick out museums forever... Since we got here, I was really looking forward to going to the Canadian Agricultural Museum, as both a farmer and food fan. Because it was a gorgeous day, we decided to break out Andrew's brand new bike and ride there. Before we got there though, we made a quick stop at the Lansdowne Farmers Market where I saw this very entertaining carrot alien plant life:

(little did I know, this was preparing me for the rest of my day...)

Speaking of carrots, I made these carrot muffins in the dehydrator last night. I was trying to follow a new recipe for carrot cake I found, but found it very tasteless once I'd finished the mix. Instead of wasting it, I waved my own magic wand over it and turned it into something tasty. In the end, I used carrots, an apple, coconut flakes, ground spelt berries, cinnamon, salt, maple syrup, and chocolate chips. I iced them with a lemon cashew frosting made up of cashews, water, agave nectar, lemon, and a dash of salt. Finally, I topped them with candied walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds (all of those mixed with cinnamon, salt, and maple syrup, then dehydrated). Haven't tried them yet, but they sure are pretty!

But back to my freakish day... After a beautiful ride around the Ottawa canal, we got to the core of the Canadian government's agricultural space. I should have known better than to come here considering that most of their grounds are called "the Experimental Farm." Does experimental sound like a safe word to you? Considering that Canada is one of the world's top 3 GMO producing countries. I think "experimental farm" is a good euphemism for "place where scary gene manipulation happens that we don't ask our citizens about first". I hope I didn't get any GM-cross pollination in my lungs...

Despite that, I maintained my positive gung-ho attitude. I was initially very psyched about this whole trip. I thought this would be a place I could really relate to (if the pic is too small, it says "Friends of the Farm" on it):

But then we got to the actual museum... First stop, the animal barn. At that point, we were starting to figure we had crossed the gates into some animal welfare hell. Most of this I actually ended up not even having the heart to photograph. It started with completely depressed, overgrown, overfed, and sick looking cows (not that they were actually physically ill, but they were visibly not doing well). We then saw pigs that were literally bigger than me (I just can't imagine these ever existing before the advent of hormones). And finally, I saw this fun relatively normal looking goat:

which was great, until I turned a corner and saw this sign:


We knew then that I had definitely taken us to a Disneyland of mutant animals. However, none of the exhibit information panels even acknowledged that anything was wrong at all. Instead, it talked about how wonderful and profitable the Canadian pork industry is, how we get all sorts of products from cows, that transgenic mutation has all sorts of benefits (and insisted that the GM-goat is a totally "normal goat"... you know, the only difference being scientific manipulation and the fact that it now contains recombinant spider silk proteins in its milk... yes, spider genes). They also had tons of information on how this is just the way farming and science works now and it's all just peach keen. No questions. No second thoughts. No "maybe we should do this another way"...

I decided to keep on truckin' though. We'd made it this far and I was bound to find something positive about this trip. We next went to the bee exhibit that I had been looking forward to. Of course, that just ended up being a part of the museum funded by a big honey company that probably feeds its bees HCFS over the winter instead of letting them eat their own honey (yes, this does happen). I also learned that this is what we make beehives out of now in large honey factory farms:

Yes, that IS non-recyclable styrofoam. I never knew there was something wrong with a good old beehive. By the way, THIS is one of the millions of reasons we need to support local organic bee keepers. They keep bees happy and healthy and protected from this kind of insanity. They help bees do what they were born to do: pollinate plants, not live in styrofoam, not be trucked into a big box to pollinate pesticide-laden fields and be left to die of colony collapse disorder because we've ruined everything we touch that's even vaguely related to Nature.

And yes, I'm ranting, but today was yet another eye-opening experience for me on how flawed our system has become. No one stops to question it. Other people were just walking by, nodding their heads, like this all made sense and they were learning lots. Instead of asking questions, we are making museums out of this BS and teaching it as fact.

As icing on our cake, someone stole Andrew's bike by clipping our bike lock and making off with it. Luckily, they left mine... but we had to walk home, and it was a real bummer considering he got it under 48 hours ago.

Maybe I should send this carnivorous chickpea sprout we found in Andrew's dinner recently. It was feeding on quinoa sprouts:

What a day... It has at least made me really appreciate that I'm an organic and local-supporting raw vegan right now... You have no idea. Well, at least, I really hope you don't.

And I have muffins.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mental Clarity

Four days of high raw and I feel like a new person. I can't get over how amazing the raw diet is. As I mentioned yesterday, I've been eating about 95% fresh fruit and veggies and I've regained the mental clarity I lost over the past 6 months. Like I used to in the beginning, I woke up bright and early today (at 6:45am) and felt totally alert and ready to go. I went upstairs to our super new loft that I'm turning into my yoga/dance harem and did 20 minutes of yoga from Yoga Download to get my day going. It was delicious. (photo source)

Despite the fact that it's also super hot up here (yep, even Canadians get 35C/95F degree weather sometimes!), we trekked all around town and I managed to survive 30 minutes of sweaty jungle beast cardio at the gym later in the afternoon... All of that, and I still feel great!

For those who have expressed curiosity on what my day looks like now that it's more 'structured'. It looks something like this:

Breakfast: Fruit smoothie, green smoothie, or straight up fruit (always with maca and mesquite powder)
Lunch: either a banana whip to cool from the heat with 1 tbsp of spirulina or a big salad
Snacks (1 or 2 depending on activity levels): includes either a piece of fruit, random veggies, a couple pieces of kale chips, 2 dried apricots, and/or a tbsp of my favourite goji berry-turkish mulberry mix or bee pollen
Dinner: a big salad (and I mean BIG) or something fun like soup, or raw sushi, or raw pasta

More specifically, I've been trying to eat at least one apple and one banana a day for all their nutrients. I'm also conscious of my B12 levels by having spirulina. My nutrient boost also comes from the maca and mesquite, as well as 1 scoop of Amazing Grass Green Superfood Powder that all go into my breakfast concoction. Today, I did take extra calcium and a multi-vitamin by Botani Organics (which I just found was apparently bought over by MetaOrganics... my antique bottles are a good indication of how often I take supplements).

Interestingly, because I've been more active today, I got my first desire for heavier foods. Because I don't want to be a nazi about my diet, I figured I would allow myself to "splurge" on a bite of raw lemon raspberry cheesecake we recently found at one of our local natural food stores. I was super psyched to be able to taste something so decadent after my 4 days of hard work. So I took a bite... and really wish I hadn't. It's not because I felt guilty, but because it was as if I had taken a large bite into a batch of pure coconut butter. Ick. Don't know if 4 days can change taste buds that much, but I did not like it. At least that event has motivated me to stick with my original plan!

In terms of changes, I've also noticed that my tongue has gotten super healthy looking again. One strange thing I took pride in when going on the raw diet was how perfectly pink and smooth my tongue got. Recently, it started getting more white-ish and 'average-looking' again, which bummed me out. But no more! I could enter a tongue pageant. Also on the upside, my nutrient/calorie counter has indicated that I got over 100% of all my essential nutrients and minerals today (including calcium)! Yay!