real raw kitchen: December 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

REVIEW: spiralizers

Until very recently I had only one spiralizer. I bought it on a whim as I was driving across the country and after having raw noodles at a raw shop in St. Petersburg, FL. I was so impressed with the noodles that I made the investment, right then and there. I've been mostly satisfied with this gadget, but I've always wondered in the back of my mind, "but what if I want smaller noodles?" 

Now that I feel like I'm officially a seasoned raw foodie (though still learning heaps everyday) and now that I have acquired a second, and qualitatively different, spiralizer, I feel like I can actually make a recommendation that I feel good about. 

Here's the breakdown:

Paderno Spiralizer

There are far more pros than cons and for this reason I do recommend this product. I use it often and I will continue to use it even though I have a new spiralizer that I like more. The reason is because the two spiralizers perform different tasks, and they each perform them well, though I currently prefer the tasks of the other slicer (below)

Pros

  • This spiralizer is great for big noodles, ribbons, and slices.
  • It is great for many different shapes and sizes of veggies and is very sturdy. 
  • It is easy to take apart and clean.
  • It has several different adjustments/inserts to customize the size and shape of the output.

Cons

  • It is bulky and takes up space.
  • There is no angel-hair-sized option.





Saladacco Spiral Slicer

The newest addition to my growing collection of gadgets is this fancy spiral slicer. I am obsessed and I dress up many of my salads with angel-hair-noodles from anything that can fit in the slicer.

Pros

  • Compact and easy to store.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Angel hair pasta noodles.
  • It has a nice compartment on the bottom to catch the noodles.

Cons

  • You have to shorten your longer veggies in order to fit into the canister on top.
  • The veggies have to be at least an inch in diameter in order to move easily.
  • Crooked veggies are difficult to process.
  • It only has two functions (angel hair and ribbons)


Bottom Line

Is it ever really as easy as "this is the best"? Nope. I didn't think so. And the same goes for spiralizers (what a world we live in that we can stress over which purchase of spiralizers is the best!) But these are important notes to keep in mind when you are making your purchase. It's important to know these details because sometimes you are looking for something very specific. 

It's the holiday season so it seems like is as good a time as any to get yourself or some raw foodie you love a brand new slicer :)

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!




Thursday, December 19, 2013

RECIPE: noodles with ruby red beet marinara



This sauce is a delicious combination of fresh tomatoes, beets, herbs and spices. It is the perfect summery sauce for raw noodles and warming sauce for the winter chill. 

I originally found inspiration from Fully Raw Kristina (see video below), but I changed it up based on what I had in the kitchen and what I was looking for in a sauce. It was so easy, quick, and just the tastiest sauce with a very unique flavor.

I shared this dish and it was loved by many ..  It's the perfect dish for a summery afternoon but unfortunately, most of the country is not very summery right now (unless you're on the other side of the equator, then this is perfect for you!). It was very fitting for us because this weekend felt very summery with hot, humid, and sticky weather.

 Fresh veggies hit the spot.

I originally thought that the cinnamon would be weird but it actually provided a nice warmth to the dish that balanced with the beets nicely. I served this with three spiralized zucchini, made with my newest Spiral Slicer.

Ruby Red Beet Marinara

Ingredients
  • 1 raw beet, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • handful each of fresh basil, cilantro, oregano
  • 1/2 T cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions
  • Layer the ingredients in your high speed blender as follows: tomatoes, beet, garlic, herbs, spices. This allows a vortex to form most easily (if you do not have a high speed blender then chop the beet very fine as it could damage a lower powered blender)
  • Blend on high until a sauce is formed.
  • Mix with veggies! Garnish with pine nuts, or any other veggie or nut.








**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday: december 18, 2013

Another week and another set of veggies .. I found myself eating a lot more vegetables this week than usual. Usually I load up on fruits and slip in veggies as an afterthought, but this week it was a bit reverse from that. 

This is mostly because out-of-season fruits are astronomical in price and this season's fruits are not as appetizing to me. Don't get me wrong, I love persimmons, but I can only take so much (whereas in mango and papaya season I could literally live off of them, exclusively.) So I found myself gulping down green juice, eating simple salads, and playing with raw desserts for Christmas recipes ... and that ain't a bad thing.

I also made the best raw lasagna dish I've ever had but the pictures were not as impressive as I'd like them to be. So I have to remake it (total bummer.. pff) and re-photograph it for ya'll. Stay tuned because it was amazing.

Green Juice. This isn't a new picture but it's enough of a staple that it's worth mentioning here. I've been loving my usual green juice recipe but I've also been making a lot of this particular juice, which has apples, lemon, cucumbers, celery and ginger.

RAD red beet marinara. This was an experiment inspired by another recipe but it was these best kind of experiment because it was delicious. Even my SO liked it and he's not at all about raw noodles.

Almond Gingerbread Bites. I saw a regular almond gingerbread cookie recipe on Pinterest and decided to rawify it .. but I didn't really know where to start. So after researching solid gingerbread flavors I came up with these .. I'm a fan.
Kale salad. I used to hate kale. Hate it. Then I discovered purple kale and my life was forever changed. I rub the stuff down with lemon and then dress it with tahini dressing . I throw in some accouterments such as green onion and pomegranate seeds .. and then I feast.

Tangerine juice. These little guys have been super cheap at the store so I buy an entire box and juice the whole thing the next morning. I've never felt so satisfied, light, and energized by a juice like I do with this delicious nectar I hold in my hand ..

Almond Chocolate Fudge Bars. These really aren't too fudgey as much as they are almond buttery but I'm not complainin' .. They are delicious and perfect and I can't wait to share them with you.

Turmeric Dressing. This is a repeat picture but I'm seriously obsessed with my turmeric dressing. It is so rich and delicious and easy to make.

Fruit with Chocolate Sauce. I don't know why (or maybe it's a no brainer.. ) but I've really been digging this for dinner lately. I get a couple pounds of different kinds of berries and plop them into my largest bowl. Then I cover them in an easy chocolate sauce/pudding made of medjool dates, water, and cacao (sometimes cinnamon or maca too). Then, if I'm feeling really special I spoon some fresh raw almond butter on top.
 DI VINE.

Creamy Pine Nut Dressing. I wish I had a more spectacular name for this but I don't. I made this dressing up because I was craving pine nuts (I don't know .. I don't even know who craves pine nuts?!). It was delicious so I snapped a quick pic with my phone. I'll post a recipe soon!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

RECIPE: almond gingerbread holiday bites


I made these little guys this weekend and I've been itching with anticipation to share them with you .. 

I never really had gingerbread cookies growing up--I mostly stuck to chocolate chip cookies and stuck my nose up at the more "grown up" flavors. As a result, I really have no idea what gingerbread is actually supposed to taste like. I always see a list of ingredients and just imagine what that would be like .. because of this, I feel a bit nervous making anything gingerbread-ey (except for these guys, which were amazing).

So what did I do? I went to the master queen, herself, and scoped out a traditional gingerbread cookie, according to Martha Stewart. I subbed in raw ingredients for the cookie, rolled it up into a neat little ball and then rolled them in sucanat. The sucanat was the perfect final touch and provided a delicious balance to the blackstrap molasses.



I am so pleased with these little bites. They came out so much more delicious than I expected. I think this is because I love the taste of molasses and there is a good amount of it here. If you don't like molasses, or don't have any, then either scale back or omit altogether.

Almond Gingerbread Holiday Bites


Ingredients
Instructions
  • Process your almonds in a food processor until a powder forms. Dump into a large bowl.
  • Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
  • Pit and peel your soaked dates and process them in the food processor until a paste forms. You may have to scrape down the sides.
  • Combine the date paste, the coconut oil, and the molasses in a bowl until incorporated. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms.
  • Wet your hands and roll the dough into bite-sized balls. 
  • Roll them in coconut sugar or sucanat, if desired.
  • Place in the fridge until you're ready to serve.
YUM!



**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!


Monday, December 16, 2013

HOW-TO: have the best day ever

Happiness seems to be a hot topic these days and for good reason. So many of us are working ourselves to death (literally) and taking very little time to simply be happy. It's crazy to me that we have to make an effort to be happy, like we have to make an effort to be healthy, but that is the point that our society has come to ..

happiness and health are no longer a natural baseline

I'm not even going to try to pretend I'm happy all the time--or even most of the time--as I write this. I want no part of that holier-than-thou mentality and that's mostly because I have commitment issues. It's also because I have to work exceptionally hard to be happy. I don't get it, just like I don't understand why I can't have blue eyes, but it's just the way my brain works.

I like to blame my super smart brain for over thinking everything, and instead of being blindfully blissful, I'm always aware of a certain doom that could potentially be happened upon. It's morbid, I know, but it also makes me an incredibly strategic person.

As an overthinking, uber-literal, strategic-planning person, I have a sort of tool set that I refer to, daily, in order to make sure I don't slip into any funk and I keep my feet on the ground.


What's the big deal?

An Evolutionary Perspective

Stress is no joke and a lot of us here in the U.S. wear it like a badge of honor. This bothers me. (this could be due to my overly literal brain) The stress response system that is built into our bodies is designed in a way to help us escape immediate danger .. think "Fight or Flight" response. This is an incredibly valuable tool as at one point in our existence it was very important to have enough adrenaline and energy to escape or fight a terrible situation. (Think of a caveman accidentally crossing paths with a hungry lion). The idea is that we are smart beings with big, smart brains and so we would know not to go in the way of hungry lions, but on that one unfortunate occasion, we have a wonderful stress response system to help save us.


Otherwise, what did cavemen and cavewomen have to worry about? The bugs, the dirt, and maybe the weather. They worked together, moved their bodies, fed off the Earth, and for the most part kept stress to a minimum except that-one-time-Johnny-startled-the-lion's-den .. and that other time they accidentally crossed paths with the other tribe.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Stress was a 2-3 times per year occurrence, not an hourly occurrence like we have now. 


Our brains are so smart and efficient at dealing with stress that they pump out different hormones that trigger the release of sugar and fat to be used for energy while you are running away from impending doom. The problem is that now we are not running away from lions every once in awhile .. instead we are stuck in traffic, fighting with our spouses, working overtime, sitting with annoying coworkers, picking up the kids ... Our brains are constantly triggering this stress response system even though it's truly not necessary. 



What happens is that the excess sugar (glucose) and fat content are not used up and instead, essentially, plug up the rest of our organs. (um, hello heart disease) This is precisely why exercise is so good for you! Use up that excess stress gunk that is floating around instead of letting it clog up your organs.


Happiness

What is 'happiness'? Could you define it? Really. What is happiness? It's a state of mind, is all. If you feel happy, well, then who am I to say you're not? So then how do we achieve this all while meeting so many deadlines and sifting through so many cars on the road?

Act like you're happy
That is exactly what I learned in grad school and it's exactly what I tell anyone and everyone that will listen: if you pretend to be happy and do things that would normally make you happy then eventually your brain will catch up. This is not to say that stifling your unhappiness is the cure. No way, man. Instead, acknowledge your stress/unhappiness/sadness/anger/whatever, and then get up and go do something that usually makes you happy. It tricks your super smart brain into thinking that you're okay and so it starts responding accordingly.

Try to be happy
Simply trying to become happy really is the first step and gets you over the biggest hurdle. For me, that's long walks outside in the sunshine, running, and shopping at the Farmer's Markets. It sounds crazy how simple these things are (and how trendy-hippie they are) but they totally work. My quiet time makes me so happy and when I'm sad I just shut everything off for a day and dedicate it to these things.

Look like you're happy
The same goes for your facial expressions: allow them to soften a bit and then re-group the muscles in a lighter, happier way. Your mood will follow suit. Did you ever watch Ally McBeal and notice that "Biscuit" would always offer a forced smile at the recommendation of his therapist? Well, he was onto something. A fake smile won't cut it, but a real one that comes from deep within will.


Notice the small stuff
One time I was driving around Miami, completely lost because the "grid" that the natives always brag about is really more like a maze, and on the brink of a meltdown I noticed a row of palm trees that shot up into the perfectly blue and pristine skyline. I smiled. It's kind of silly because almost every median is lined with palm trees but the fact that they were backed with a bright, blue sky made me so happy. I became so grateful that this was my view when much of the country is covered in ice, and instead of being frustrated I began to enjoy my extra long route (I wasn't going to find my way to my destination any faster by being frustrated, right??)

Move your body
Just a 30 minute brisk walk can take you from blah to fabulous. Okay, it's not that simple, but moving your body triggers your brain to release serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain. These are the same chemicals that antidepressants try to imitate .. so you could be producing your very own antidepressants. And if you're not depressed? Well imagine what that would feel like!!



The End

These things work for me and though I am human and slip up sometimes (and end up in an irreversibly bad mood) these tricks can often take my sour mood to a pretty great one, quickly. But this is because I practice it very often and as the adage goes, "neurons that fire together wire together." What this means is basically that your brain is like a muscle. The more you use it in a certain way (like harnessing happiness) the stronger those connections will be and the easier it will be to just have the best day ever ..

xo

My Recommended Happiness Boosters

 Also, I have some tangible tricks up my sleeve, as well. When I need some intense personal therapy I often brew a cup of tea, rub some lavender oil on myself, put on Micahel Franti, make myself a chocolate treat, slather myself in luxurious butter, and just have serious me time. These items are my go-to items for this, and this book (or any book by David Sedaris) is pretty damn funny and makes it hard not to just be happy.

          


**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!


Friday, December 13, 2013

The GIFT GUIDE for the raw foodie


If you are just budding into the raw food scene (or maybe you're a seasoned veteran!) but you aren't quite sure what should top your "wish list" for this holiday season, then this is a good place to start. OR .. maybe you know a budding raw foodie and you want to help them launch their path to certain health, then this list is a perfect guide for essential and affordable raw food equipment.

These gifts are on the more affordable range and make my life as a raw foodie much easier. I use these on the daily--and I'm not exaggerating--and my life would be a little bit more tedious without them. My top 3 greatest kitchen investments (from this list) to date are my Wusthof knife, which I use every single time I'm in the kitchen, my mini chopper, to make single serving dressings and sauces, and my nut mylk bag for nut mylks, juices, sprouting, and more!


  1. Acacia Bowl. This is a beauty and is such a treasured item in the raw food kitchen. It glams up salads and makes mealtime such a special treat. Plus, it's a salad bowl that is actually big enough for raw foodie status salads.
  2. Electric Citrus Juicer. I cannot even being to tell you how dedicated raw foodies are to "pure" orange juice. For the first three years of my raw food life I had a manual citrus juicer that made juicing oranges such a chore. I recently invested in one of these guys and I'm never looking back.
  3. Spiral Slicer. My latest kitchen gadget is now one of my favorites. I can easily dress up any salad, or make an entire noodle dish, quickly and easily.
  4. Wusthof Knife. My life would not be complete without this knife. It is by far my greatest investment--even moreso than my Vitamix--and I love it. It will rock your world, or whomever it ends up with.
  5. Citrus Press. Many of the raw food dressings call for just a squeeze of lemon juice and this makes it easier to get the juice out quickly and efficiently.
  6. Mini Food Chopper. I use this almost every single day, even twice a day, to make dressings for my salads. It's nice because it blends the ingredients but is easy to scrape everything out and easy to clean. I love my Vitamix but for small batches of mixes I prefer this gadget.
  7. Bamboo Cutting Board. Nothing says "eco-glam" quite like a bamboo cutting board.
  8. Cuppow Wide Mouth Jar Lid. I cannot even remember my life before my Cuppow products. Juice has become even more of a staple now that I have these lids in my life, making juice-on-the-go an everyday possibility.
  9. Nut Mylk Bag. I love my fancy juicer but I actually love this bag more. I blend my juice ingredients and strain them through the bag to produce a high quality juice. It's extremely affordable and is a better investment than an actual juicer (in my opinion). 
  10. Raw Food Essentials. If I had to recommend just one book to launch a raw food lifestyle then this would be the one. Most of my basic understanding has come from Ani Phyo's RFE.


**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

RECIPE: simple persimmon salad

I've been a little persimmon happy lately and so I've been playing with so many recipes, trying to use up all the bounty that I acquired. I got sick of persimmons as a dessert (I don't even know how that happens) and so I decided to throw them into a salad.

I'm so glad I did, it was delicious.



Persimmon Salad
serves 1


Ingredients:
  • 1 head butter lettuce, chopped
  • 2 fuyu persimmons, sliced
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 hichaya persimmon, very ripe
Instructions:
  1. Mix everything except the hichaya persimmon and toss. 
  2. Process the hichaya persimmon in a processor until smooth. 
  3. Dress your salad with the processed hichaya persimmon.
That's it! 

So easy. Delicious. Refreshing. YUM.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday: december 11, 2013

Remember that time I posted every Wednesday with a list of foods I was digging that week? And every Wednesday we called it WIAW? Well, here's my attempt at bringing that back.

Truthfully, I had gotten off that bandwagon because I became so busy. Now, I really hate it when people complain that they are so busy. I think it's a stroke of luck that you have so many wonderful things to fill your day with (especially when you're paid to do it). But seriously.. I leave the house before the sun comes up and I get home after the sun goes down. This is fantastic and I mostly love it but it really puts a cramp on my photographing and documenting my eats.

Totally not a big deal, but when you have a WIAW series to tend to, it makes it a bit tricky.

Because I miss posting regularly and because I miss this WIAW series, where you can see into the life of someone that eats salads like it's a day job, I decided I needed to be more dedicated in capturing these moments. So I've made an extra attempt at taking pictures this week. I hope you enjoy!


Peppermint Brownies. Remember these guys?? I'm having a hard time thinking about anything else since I've had them. So good. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I only had a few, I shared the rest with my husband and friends.


Persimmon Salad. 1 head of butter lettuce, chopped, 2-3 fuyu persimmons, sliced, 1/4 avocado, green onions, pomegranate seeds, and dressed with a blended hichaya persimmon (uber ripe). It was so good and I was full and satisfied for hours afterward. Very "801010" as well. 


Noodle Salad. This picture really doesn't do the salad justice. All it is made of is fancy spiralized noodles, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and butter lettuce, dressed with a tahini dressing. So. Good. I originally made the noodles (2 zucchinis) and tossed everything together, but I was starving so I chopped up a head of lettuce to go with it. Best idea ever.


Green juice. If you know me then you know that I love to start my day with green juice. And I usually make it for both my husband and I (he's grown to love the custom as well, YES!). This juice, and most of my green juices, has apples, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger. Solid greens that taste good. 


Turmeric Dressing. I've been digging my turmeric variation of the tahini dressing and pouring it over anything and everything. It makes any amount of greens a lick-worthy meal and is even good over brown rice or quinoa. I also have been playing with my latest gadget, a spiral slicer (affiliate link*) that makes angel hair sized noodles, and spiralizing anything that fits. It makes the salads even more fun, for me! 





**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

RECIPE: peppermint brownies

You guys, I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to share this with you. CANNOT. I love chocolate (duh) and I love peppermint.

chocolate + peppermint =  explosion of happiness



I originally saw this recipe from Oatmeal With A Fork and I thought it was a fabulous idea. I loved the brownie base and the peppermint top and it seemed like a classic dessert that everyone could love. I brought the idea home with me and adjusted it to make it simpler and it's a winner.

I've been digging the 801010 thing lately and so my desserts have been pretty low in fat and as a result pretty low in guilt and high in energy. These guys, however, are absolutely not 801010 but they are absolutely amazing. To save myself from guilt I cut them into fairly small sizes .. now I just need to make sure I eat them one at time, not in concession :)

These little bundles of joy are high in fat, but beauty fats, as I like to call them. I'm not a fan of high oil content outside of good quality coconut oil and olive oil, and I typically don't like eating lots of nuts at a time .. unless they are high in Omega 3s. See this breakdown for more details on fat content.

So these are a sort of extra treat because I'm making something I wouldn't normally eat AND they are packed with all the good stuff. YES!


Peppermint Brownies

Ingredients 
for the brownies:
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 cups dates, soaked and pitted
  • 3 T cacao powder
  • pinch of sea salt 
for the frosting:
adapted from Oatmeal With A Fork

  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 t peppermint extract
Instructions
for the brownies:
  • Soak the walnuts and dates for about an hour. 
  • Pit and peel the dates.
  • Add to a food processor*, along with the drained walnuts and cacao and sea salt.
  •  Pulse until a dough is formed. I let mine run a bit too long and so it was more paste-y, but so delicious still.
  • In a glass baking dish* lined with parchment paper, press the dough down until an even layer is formed. 
  • Cover and place in the fridge until the frosting is ready.
for the frosting:
  • Combine everything in a food processor and process until it is fully incorporated. 
  • Pour the frosting over the brownie and place back in the fridge to set. 
  • I left mine in overnight so it could harden completely.


Optional Garnish:

I blitzed some goji berries in a mini chopper and sprinkled the powder on top to make it look festive. I also added some cacao nibs on top.

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Monday, December 9, 2013

HOW-TO: an Omega fats ratio

I have a brownie recipe that will debut this week and I cannot wait to share it with you. However, it is a high fat brownie and so before jumping straight into the indulgence I thought I'd help encourage an educated decision in this recipe that promotes mindfulness and glow-ey skin.

There is SO much to know about fat and so I feel as if I'm really just skimming the surface here. However, I do think it's important to understand that fats are good for you, even though they've been demonized by many. I also believe that they should be limited amounts, not the majority of your diet.

There are four types of fats, two of which (Saturated and Trans fats) are not too much of a concern on the raw food diet. The other two--Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated--are healthy fats and are named so because of their design. The types of fats that make up this category are complex, but I'm going to focus on two important ones, here. It is important to remember that I'm excluding a large portion of the fat-o-sphere so don't consider this to be the end-all in fat education.


The Fats


Omega 3

The easiest way to obtain a high dose of Omega 3s is through fish, or fish oil. However, if you're practicing a real raw lifestyle, the walnuts is a comparable plant-based solution. Omega 3 fatty acids are broken down into three types of acids:
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) 
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
These three acids work together and are best absorbed in whole foods form. It is usually recommended to take a fish oil supplement if you are not eating adequate amounts. However, upping your walnut and flaxseed intake can also help up the acid count.

Why omega 3s are good for you

Omega 3s are excellent at lubricating your insides and reducing inflammation. This translates exceptionally well to acne-prone skin, as acne is usually an inner moisturizer and inflammation issue (meaning, your skin is severely dehydrated from the inside at the dermis level and the epidermis, outer level, is inflamed). This also, as a result, helps smooth wrinkles (or keep your skin supple) and helps keep your heart happy and cholesterol levels healthy. This also helps with fertility, improving the probability of fertilization.

Omega 6

Omega 6 works as a counter part to Omega 3 fatty acids. Instead of reducing inflammation, it promotes it. One type of Omega 6--GLA--does not promote inflammation, though, and is actually quite beneficial to the overall health of the body. Most of us obtain far too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3, as it should really be a 2:1 ratio instead of the SAD ratio of 15:1. This causes a serious amount of inflammation in the body, which is a major contributing factor to heart disease, arthritis, eczema, and other ailments that involve inflammation.

Omega 6 is present in many foods, especially meat, so it really isn't necessary to supplement your diet with more Omega 6. Instead, it is best to achieve a 2:1 balance of 6s to 3s.


Bottom line

Fruits and veggies provide a great source of Omega 6 fats in healthy doses. Omega 3s can be more easily obtained in the way of nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flaxseeds. If you're striving for a raw foods diet, be mindful of your fat intake. If you're not looking for a high raw diet, I'd say the same thing: be mindful of your intake.

Eat natural sources of food. limit your animal products. Load up on greens. The more you mimic Nature when you're eating, the more naturally and easily your ratios will fall in line (and the same goes for your waistline as well!!).


Sunday, December 8, 2013

HOW-TO: choose a diet

As a blogger for a raw food lifestyle, most people assume that I am 100% raw and 100% for everyone being raw, as well. That is not true. When I first transitioned this was certainly the case. I drove people crazy with my newfound obsession and shared articles and links like it was my job. However, after several years in this lifestyle I'm realizing that for some it causes more stress than good.





While I do believe that a fully raw lifestyle filled with fruits and veggies is the best and most healthful approach to food, I also truly believe that one's own happiness is an even greater factor to health.

So what's a person to do?


Well, first off, I came across this post by Mind Body Green on why the author does not recommend a raw, vegan, paleo, or gluten-free diet. When I first saw it, I was a bit upset. How dare someone not recommend a raw foods diet?! But then, I read her actual list of recommendations and changed my stance:


  • Eat as naturally as possible, i.e. avoid processed stuff and go for simple and real food instead.
  • Eat as organically as possible and preferably locally grown produce.
  • Make sure to eat more raw than cooked food and more plants than animals.
  • Change your diet slowly and never force yourself to do something for which you're not yet ready.
  • Keep a food diary to find out what makes you feel and look better and what does not.
  • Walk 10,000 steps every day.
  • Use common sense!


When I read this I realized that I could agree with this, 100%. Not everyone wants to go 100% raw even if they believe it's the best diet for them (myself included). The reason is this: they take great joy in joining in the cultural traditions of sharing a meal. Sometimes this makes me cringe to advocate for this because I know what happens in many restaurants and homes .. the "meal" is a spread of  processed foods and very few plants.

This is why this list of recommendations is such an excellent one. Whatever the diet you end up with, choosing to eat real food (as in, it came from this Earth), eating more raw plants than animals, and moving your body is simply the best way to approach food.

How do you feel about this? I support the raw foods lifestyle and I think the benefits of 80% raw are remarkably close to 100% raw. What do you think??


xo


Friday, December 6, 2013

HOW-TO: prevent a meltdown

This morning I was reading through my list of favorite blogs, skimming the titles and hoping to come across something juicy. I saw the title of The Blonde Vegan's post, Let Yourself Break, and I found myself immediately drawn to it. There is something so vulnerable and also inspiring about those words. Within seconds you know the depth of emotion that it takes to "break" and you know what it means to "break".

This made me realize that while this experience is universal, and so profound a lesson, very few of us actually have the emotional intelligence to allow such vulnerability into our lives. Most of us try to power through our stress, pain, emotion, whatever, in hopes of coming out stronger, better. The only thing this does is wear us down so much, to the point where the life that was once there is sucked out of us like the last sip of a thick, chocolatey mylkshake.

How many of you have been there before??

Now, I am no expert in achieving-mental-health because I am first, and foremost, human. However, I do have experience with pain, sorrow, stress, heartache, profound happiness, and general boredom. And my life experiences and education have taught me a great deal on how to keep my emotions and stresses in check.


How To: prevent a meltdown


Do a body scan. 

Our bodies are our greatest thermometers, reading our inner selves and reporting back in the form of aches, pains and illnesses. Everyday I check in with my body, see what it is trying to tell me. For instance, today I have really tight shoulders. This happens when I stop exercising regularly and when I don't get enough sleep. I've been pushing myself to the max and I can feel it as my body tightens. Whenever I feel low energy I check in with my emotions. I tend to become lethargic when I'm sad or depressive. Whenever I feel like I am getting an "itch" in my throat I look at all the demands on my plate and see if I need a break. My body is an excellent communicator and tells me exactly where I need to slow down or speed up. Your body is probably trying to communicate with you, too. Instead of grabbing the nearest bottle of medicine, next time, pause and think about what it's trying to tell you. Then honor it.

Do an emotion scan.

Once I've done a full body scan I then do an emotion scan. The example I gave above, about my shoulders being tight, makes me want to check in on my emotions. I know I have a tendency to get depressive when I'm stressed (emotionally, physically, or whatever) and so I have to take the proactive stance on emotions and make sure I am fully aware of my next depressive onset. So, feeling and noticing my shoulders, I then look at my emotions. How am I feeling today? How is my energy (again, related to depressive symptoms)? Have I been testy, pushy, wallowing, or anything out of the norm? I don't judge myself harshly and I don't try to change the emotion. I just check in and see what is going on.

Today, for instance, my energy is a bit low. I'm not fatigued (though I could use a good night's rest after a week of low sleep) but my energy is low. I'm not bubbly and I'm not up for conversation. I'm a very quiet person, in general, but even for me this is a bit out of the norm. So this would make me wonder, what's going on? This is where I would then check for any moments of anger or sadness within the past few days. And ah-ha! Last night, I was being a bit weird about something, finding myself more hurt and upset than the actual experience called for. Hmm ...

Do a life scan. 

Finally, do a life scan. I've talked about self-care and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs before, but it's worth noting, again: are you taking care of yourself? Are your basic needs being met? I mean, basic needs. Very few people are sleeping enough, drinking enough water, eating in a healthful way all throughout the day. Very few people are also taking time to just have fun, pressing pause on the work life. These are very important needs! And we overlook them, daily.


For instance, I have been consistently getting about 6 hours of sleep this week and working 12 hour work days. I have had no appetite this week and so I've actually been eating sporadically and not very much. I sit at a desk all day in a space with no windows and an unreasonable amount of air conditioning. I haven't seen my husband much due to our demanding and conflicting work schedules and so I actually haven't even talked to him about anything other than super minor things, like "omg-look-at-what-I-just-saw" in the form of a text message ... What does this mean? This does not mean that I'm complaining (though these things aren't necessarily exciting).. Instead, I'm realizing that this is actually not a thriving lifestyle and is not very sustainable.

I've neglected my basic Physiological needs:

  • my sleep is low
  • my food is sporadic
  • my breathing (exercise and using my lungs) is lacking
I've neglected my basic Love/Belonging needs:
  • my relationship isn't being honored, I hardly see my husband
  • my friendships aren't being honored, I hardly get to talk to them
  • my family isn't being honored, the time difference makes it hard to call home when I'm working all.the.time
I've neglected my basic Esteem needs:
  • all of my identity is in health and wellness and so when I'm not taking care of myself I sort of fall into this hole of hypocrisy, feeling pretty ashamed that I haven't run more than 2 miles this week and that I ate that brioche roll last night ...
I've neglected my basic Self-Actualization needs:
  • It's nearly impossible to even honor these needs when everything below it is not being met

Final Assessment

Take all the information you've gathered from your scans and then be honest with yourself: what's really going on? And then honor it! This is not a woe-is-me activity where you can officially declare that You Are Stressed. Instead, this is a time where you can pause and make minor adjustments to help stay clear of a meltdown.

It might be as easy as:
  • Go to bed an hour earlier.
  • Prep for a green smoothie the night before (chop your fruits and veggies and place in the fridge for the morning)
  • Sit outside during lunch to get fresh air
  • Park further away to walk the extra steps
  • Have lunch with someone and socialize
  • Call home
  • Take a nice, long bath
  • Listen to Raphael Saadiq
I don't know, that last one was just my own way of upping my creative flow. These self-care tips are so easy to incorporate on the daily.

What about you? How do you prevent meltdowns? Try these daily scans on for size and let me know what you think!

xo




Thursday, December 5, 2013

DIY: Vitamin C face mask from Detox Your World

I was recently sent some samples from Detox Your World to play with. I used three of the samples to make some pumpkin chocolate cups and I reserved the Camu Camu Powder for a face mask. Camu Camu is one of the highest concentrated forms of Vitamin C in the world and so it is usually used in a way to boost the immunity. What most people tend to forget, though, is that Vitamin C is an excellent resource for your skin, as well.

How is Vitamin C an excellent skin booster?

Vitamin C can:



This, paired with raw honey in my quick and easy homemade face mask, makes for a beautiful skin-sweeping beauty product. Raw honey is a powerhouse on the skin and has equally impressive benefits for the skin.

Raw Honey can:

  • moisturize and soften the skin
  • fight infection (including acne) because of its antibacterial properties
  • brighten the skin with the natural antioxidants, fighting free radicals

Combine these two products in a matter of seconds for a fabulous home-spa experience.

Vitamin C Mask
a recipe
1 t raw honey (affiliate link)

Mix in a small dish until a paste forms. Spread onto your face and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe away with a warm, damp washcloth. I spritzed my face with my lavender and sea salt tonic for fresh skin, all day.

After my morning workout I spread this quick mixture onto my clean skin (I washed with warm water after my workout) and let it do its thang while I got my stuff ready for a shower. Of course, I stopped to snap a pic of myself ... I can't resist documenting my homemade projects!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

RECIPE ROUND UP: home for the holidays

We just purchased our tickets for flights back home over the holidays and I am BEYOND excited. I am buzzing with anticipation and I just cannot wait to see my family and be back in the fresh, crisp California air (on the good air days, of course ;) ) .. anyway, I love my home state and my friends and my family and everything about being back home, so much, that usually I start planning and fantasizing about my time home far before the actual date.  

So, naturally, I started thinking about different recipes I could make while home and dishes that'd be easy to make quickly for the family as well as myself (especially for myself). I'd like to stay as raw as possible this time around, as usually I incorporate a lot more cooked food when I'm home just to not draw attention to myself. Now, however, I'm a pretty seasoned raw foodie and they're already used to my obsession so I feel like it may be more natural than ever to stick to it. 

The problem with looking at the latest recipes around the web is that now I'm drooling on my computer screen and fantasizing about dinner tonight.

Here are some simple, drool-worthy dishes that are sure to be crowd pleasers:










Sweet Potato Hash (non raw)

For dessert, I'm definitely planning on making these (everyone loves desserts!!):










And some interesting reads that will help make the holidays a smooth and loving experience:


  • 23 Tips to Feel Great When You Travel (Mind Body Green) A list of tips and tricks for surviving the long travel time that is usually associated with the holidays. Personally, I drink LOTS of water, eat a pound of grapes while on the plane (to keep the toxins moving and my bowels happy), I use Lavender Essential Oil* on my wrists and neck, and I keep shea butter* in my purse for my hands.
  • Why I Cleanse Before The Holidays (Mind Body Green) An interesting look at preparing your body for the holidays. It's important to get your body in line with what you believe in, eliminating potential cravings, healing your gut, and eradicating any self-doubts. This also includes recipes guides and day-by-day planning. I highly recommend this read!
  • Men's Gift Guide 2013 (Cupcakes and Cashmere) Okay, this is where my personal fashion-centric obsession leaks into my raw food obsession ... I have been wrought with anxiety, trying to come up with the perfect, affordable gift for the men in my family. We live in a time where--those of us fortunate enough--we usually just buy the little things for ourselves throughout the year. What ends up happening is there is rarely anything left to the imagination during the holidays. Well, Emily at Cupcakes and Cashmere is like my own personal idol and she has provided a neat list for the men in your life.
  • 3 Holiday Expectations That Are Driving You Crazy (HuffPo) Lastly, just let go. Every year there seems to be so much pressure on having the most Hallmark Image of The Holidays that it can often times end up more stressful than enjoyable. This is a great read to keep things in perspective.


We are weeks away, I realize, but it's better to start dreaming about it now than to have a last minute scramble, riiighhht?? (shh, let me just pretend it's time to head home already!)

xo

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!