True beauty lies within our hearts, our health and our passions. My passions include knitting, promoting wellness and being amidst the company of beautifully authentic people.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Past 7 days...

Well day 7 of my raw and living week has arrived and it truly has been a successful week!  Rather than feeling as though this week is a culmination an experiment, I choose to view my experience as the commencement of many good things to come further along the journey of achieving optimum health.

The 15 pounds of water weight that I've shed this week comes only as a secondary benefit.  More importantly, I've managed to become reacquainted with several life lessons.  The lesson at the top of the list being simplicity...less is more.  My energy levels are up and therefore I am beginning to require less sleep.  I feel my beauty exuding from within.  When I feel great, I look great.  When I look great, I feel empowered, certain.

DAY 1 was the amongst the easiest.  With my husband's loving help, I was quite prepared this day, fully armored with nutritious meals as if ready for battle.  Mentally I felt a bit uncertain of my ability to go the distance as day 7 seemed light years away, but as the day came to a close, my doubts were removed.  I attended Zumba class and was surprised at the high level at which I was able to participate.  On the second and third day,  I was quickly reminded of what occurs when one embarks on improving one's diet.   It is common to feel worse before feeling better initialy,  acute fatigue sets in due to the cell regeneration process.  These were clearly my toughest days.

HUMP DAY would prove to be day 4 for me.  While hunger slowly began to dissipate and mental clarity began to inch in, tiredness continued despite my feeling energized internally.  This was an uncomfortable conflict.  I now know that could've combated the tiredness by going to bed just an hour earlier, but since I had meals to prepare and strategies to put in place, I went to bed even later.  I never urinated so much, so my sleep was often interrupted as I awoke 4 to 5 times over the night.

DOWN THE HOME STRETCH I become quite energetic, blissful even, with a measure of peace.  The cleaner and more simple I ate, the less energy I used thinking about snacking, the very thing that consumed my thought process in weeks prior. On days 5 and 6 I felt stronger physically, aches were kept to a minimum and therefore I embraced the thought of exercise.  Not that I did very much of it, but I embraced the thought of it.  Walking and Zumba (Thanks Janise) were enjoyable.  I noticed that my eliminations were frequent and plentiful, yet not as bulky as in weeks prior.  This means my body is using more of the nutritious foods I'm putting in as opposed to discarding the majority of them.

I required less food towards the end of the week, often bringing home my lunch and having it for dinner.

As DAY 7 finally arose,  I was not feeling very hungry at all.  During the week I'd typically begin my day with a liter of water followed by a kale and fruit smoothie, but by this day I just wasn't thirsty or hungry.  I grazed on berries and fruit early in the day followed by a plate of raw spaghetti and grapefruit during lunch and cherries for dinner.  I was quite curious about a piece of white yam that we brought home from the party the night before and sampled it.  YUM!  Did I miss cooked food, why is quite delightful.  Did it feel as good going down as my raw meals during the week, absolutely not.  I could feel the piece of yam moving through my digestive system.

What's next?  I definitely will use this week as a catalyst on which to build my nutritious vegan lifestyle that I've so desired for quite some time.  I am now convinced it wasn't the animal protein that I've missed, although Mike's fish is out of this universe, LOL.  The raw vegan experience was far too pleasurable to give up entirely.  Especially the meals!  Speaking of which, some of my favorite go-to recipes this week included:

Raw Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce

Tools required:  Julienne Peeler or spiralizing tool, sharp paring knife, blender

Spaghetti: Any vegetable can be made into 'Spaghetti' like strips. Carrots and Beets work well but can be a bit hard, I fancy Butternut Squash and Celery Root.

Marinara Sauce: (all ingredients organic of course)

1 Large Red Bell Pepper
12 - 15 Sundried Tomatoes
4 ripe tomatoes (I use String tomatoes or Plum)
Handful of fresh Basil (mix in fresh Rosemary and Parsely)
2 - 4 cloves of Garlic
1 stalk of Scallion
Wedge of Onion or stalk of scallion
Seasonings to taste (a dash of each will do): Cumin, Curry, Cinomin, Allspice, Cayenne
1/4 tsp of salt
4 dates (soak in water for a few hours or over night)

Blend until smooth but chunky.  Yields a quart or so.  I've omitted some ingredients (i.e. oil) and have added others.

I usually eat this marinara sauce at room temperature, but if taken out of the fridge, you can warm up a pan, remove it from the fire and swirl a serving of sauce around in the pan to take the chill off of the sauce.

Raw Spaghetti & Marinara Sauce

Green Smoothies are a large part of my diet in general, my children love them as well!  I am able to fit extra protein in my day by adding raw dark leafy greens to smoothies and savory stews.  2 cups of dark leafy greens contain  more protein than a 10 oz. chicken breast...unless of course, you're eating the chicken breast raw.  There are no set rules when making green smoothies, however initially your taste buds may prefer a fruit to vegetable ratio of  60/40.  As you become more accustomed to the texture and green taste, you may want to reverse the ratio to 40/60 for a higher nutritional value, yielding more protein and calcium and less fruit sugars.  Feel free to halve the recipe for an individual portion and try different fruit combinations.  Pineapple and Mango are my favorites.

Carrot, Beet, Apple & Ginger

Fresh Juices provide essential nutrients, minerals and enzymes and are great for a boost of natural sugar and provide both soluble or insoluble fiber.  Sweeeeet!  Different combinations of juice ingredients benefit different functions of the body.  Some ingredients are great for cleansing which may promote weight loss, others boost the immune system, aid in digestion and yet others can promote beautiful skin.

Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

1 cup packed dark leafy greens (i.e., kale, spinach, swiss chard, romaine)
2 ripe bananas
1 cup fresh fruit (i.e., pineapple, mango, honey dew, cantaloupe)
1 cup of water

Blend until smooth.  Depending on the type of blender you use, you may need to blend the greens and water first before adding the other ingredients.  I use a Vita-mix, capable of making a wood chip smoothie from a block of wood...if I so desired.  Mike has recently experimented with adding cucumbers to the green smoothie and its a refreshing addition.

Collard Green Wrap

Wraps can be made from any number of beautiful leaves, Swiss Chard, Collard Greens, Romaine Lettuce, etc., and are chock full of protein and calcium.  They can be as simplistic as wrapping a banana in romaine leaves or more complex as featured above.  When time permits I'll slice up a number of veggies very thin with either a sharp pairing knife or julienne peeler and add pesto (olive oil, basil, cilantro nuts, garlic, salt) or a favorite salad dressing.  Sunflower seeds soaked in water over night provide a powerhouse of nutrients and vitamins such as Vitamin E, Magnesium, Folate, Protein and Zinc (pumpkin seeds work really well also).  Thin slices of avocado provide nearly 20 essential nutrients and are quite high in potassium.

The above recipes are loosely based on recipes found in a number of raw food preparation books which have been adjusted to accommodate my family's tastes.

As I continue to extract inspiration from the beautiful colors from my environment and nature in general, I must thank all who have inspired me to embark upon this journey of achieving optimum health once again.

Until we meet again, be well and consider increasing your intake of fresh produce today.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Week of Spring Cleaning

The urge to clean our personal spaces, wherever they may be, is quite strong during the Spring and Summer seasons, isn't it?  Some are inclined to wash windows, clean out closets, garages and basements, scrub walls or conduct an overall purge.

To hear my children tell it, I love to throw give things away... makes me wonder how or why I ever acquired these things in the first place.  You've heard it before, "...well it seemed like a good idea at the time."  But I've pretty much done most of my 'Spring Cleaning' at home and at the office, so what next? Oh I know, what about an internal cleanse!   The options I've considered were juicing or fasting (no, they're not the same in my book), or going RAW.  I chose the latter and have committed to it for a full week beginning Monday, July 23rd thru Sunday, July 29th. The last time I went RAW was 5 yrs ago, for a period of 90 days.

RAW?  Why?

You mean, aside from my personal belief that a raw and living vegan diet is the best diet for humans?  Some of the benefits I've personally experienced when eating a raw and living diet:

  • added nutritional value
  • mental clarity
  • renewed energy
  • improved digestion
  • waste/toxin removal
  • and countless other benefits

RAW?  How?  A raw and living vegan diet consists of eating unprocessed fruit, vegetables, sprouted nuts and seeds in their raw form and preferably live when possible.  These foods are not heated above the body's temperature in order to preserve the precious enzymes that they contain.  Added oils, conventional condiments and salt are usually avoided.

Some of the meals I plan to eat consist of large colorful hearty salads, smoothies and a host of delicious live meals.  Here are some pics of today's dishes:

Raw Spegetti

Cabbage Leaf Wrap

I've been preparing for this week for the past 3 weeks, initially eating 50:50 (raw:cook ratio) and ending with a week of eating 1 cooked meal a day and all other meals being live.

With a host of supporters in my cheering section, I'm sure to succeed.  I'm excited about this challenge to say the least.  Stay tuned for some quick yummy recipes!

Ready, Set, Goooooooo!