Our idea of what constitutes "food" in American culture has become so skewed that it is almost unrecognizable. Our supermarkets are packed with products whose ingredients include unpronounceable chemicals, dyes, bacteria, and growth hormones. They are irradiated without our consent and contain GMOs.It's time to bring back FOOD. Pure unadulterated organic RAW food.This blog is a documentation of my continuing journey on a plant-based lifestyle.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Plant-based Summer Berry Smoothie

Smoothies, especially in the summer months, are a great way to get in all your vitamins and keep your calories up, when you're appetite is less than normal because of the heat.

I love to start my mornings with a nice cold smoothie when I'm not pounding back a 15 lb watermelon!

My newest obsession is my Summer Berry Smoothie which I whipped up on a whim while trying to jazz up my standard "Dateorade" of dates, water, dash of cinnamon or a few drops of Sweetleaf Liquid Stevia Drops, and a bit of ice.

Give this once a try too! Dates make the BEST base for a smoothie because they are sweet and their texture, when blended, makes for a frothy/milkshake like consistency. Mmmm mmm!

This particular blend of organic mixed berries is blackberry-free which makes this the perfect berry mix in my opinion -- too many seeds that never officially break down in the Vitamix which makes for a less than enjoyable smoothie experience because I'm constantly biting down on tiny seed particles. Just not a fan..

It's SO good, I just had to share it with you guys so you can try it too!

Ingredients:
1 lb of your favorite dates
1.5 cups of Sunrise Growers Organic Berry Mix 
(Can be purchased at Costco in the frozen fruit section!) 
24 oz-32 oz of water depending on desired thickness 




Make Your Smoothie:
Blend your dates and water in your high speed blender until fully combined. Next blend in your frozen berries.  Blend for 30 seconds and taste to make sure consistency is to your liking. 

Poor into your favorite smoothie glass and slurp it up! 


(P.S. Don't forget to chew your smoothie for optimal digestion!) 

I will be back early next week with another Tour de Cane Juice update for Week 2 so make sure to check back! 

And don't forget to "like" my Facebook Page, Positively Plant-Powered, check out my website, and follow me on Instagram @RawFoodNerd! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tour de Cane Juice Weekly Update

Tour de Cane Juice is well under way! Here is the first installment of the weekly updates I will be doing. This is my first video ever so please don't judge too hard. I promise I will get better with my "ums" and hopefully, I will be able to improve my editing skills as well! 
Enjoy!



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Cane Juice Chronicles: Tour de Cane Juice


And so I am back, with another cane juice challenge this July in tandem with the start of the Tour de France which began on Saturday!


In the previous Cane Juice Chronicles (which you can find here and here) I put raw cane juice to the test, using it as fuel for my running and testing its ability to help improve my speed and overall running performance. I kept a detailed log via the Runtastic App and was able to graph my steady improvements while drinking cane juice. In the end I ran my first 10k in 51:08, placed 109 out of 2,356 runners and 33rd out of the 1,636 women who ran, all thanks to the 16 oz of pure, raw cane juice I drank 45 minutes before the start of the race which had me soaring! (Note to self and first time race runners: don't put yourself in a slower corral just because you think you might not be able to keep a faster pace. You will get bogged down by the crowds. Next time, I will definitely put myself in a closer corral so I won't have to spend as much time getting past people.) Seeing as though in the middle of my training I aggravated an old injury and was only able to get in a mere 4 training runs post-injury/pre-race, I was very happy with my results.

In the second installment of The Cane Juice Chronicles, amidst my running injury, I decided to take an active role in the healing process and truly put cane juice to the test as a recovery aid. I signed myself up for a 30 day Bikram Yoga Challenge at my yoga studio, Bikram Yoga South Pasadena  and spent the month leading up to the race drinking cane juice nightly and doing Bikram yoga like it was my job. Between the healing properties of the raw cane juice (chock-full of animo acids and chlorophyl) and the restorative properties of Bikram Yoga (heat plus stretching is glorious for healing the body) I was able to regain full-range of motion in my hip and inner thigh.
Check out www.sugarcanejuice.org for more information on where you can find their products

Now, this July, I am taking cane juice to a whole new level to see how it will affect my endurance while cycling; a sport I don't have too much experience in...unless, you count spinning classes? My goal is to hit 400 or more miles over the course of the month. Now, you may be thinking, "400 miles is really only 12-13 miles a day, pfft, that's too easy." Well, for an experienced cyclist, sure, but for the average person trying to get fit and be healthy, 12-13 miles is a substantial amount.

However, this wouldn't be a Raw Food Nerd challenge without the stakes being raised and as I said, when I put cane juice to the test, I REALLY put it the test. I plan to maintain my normal 40-90 minute daily exercise routine in addition to the miles I will be putting in on the bike. Oh, snap!

I am not going to divulge all the details of my training so far because I will be posting a video later this week about my progress, but I will say that it going exceedingly well! So most definitely stay tuned!!

In the meantime you can follow me on Strava where I log all my rides.

image credit: www.adalaidecyclists.com

Don't forget to like my Facebook Page, Positively Plant-Powered, subscribe to my blog, and check out my website - Positively Plant-Powered!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Raw Vegan Zucchini Chips and Organic Tomato Corn Salsa


For years the notion of a crispy chip has alluded me on the raw food lifestyle. My chips, be it savory or sweet, were always chewy. The exception being only my beloved kale chips. (Who would have ever thought kale chips would become so popular?!)

Kale chips are even Kardashian-approved (Oh lord.) with Kourtney Kardashian espousing the benefits of kale chips vs. regular snore bore 'tater chips. But this isn't really about kale chips, which seemingly always give me a weird reflux reaction where I feel like I've got shards of kale stuck in my throat (not fun) for days. And since I avoid gut-bombing condiments like vinegar, oil, & salt, these days I much prefer a crispy zucchini chipper.

Bring it!




The beauty of this crunch-satisfying chip is not just in texture, but also in simplicity in that once you put them in the dehydrator at the standard temperature for raw-fooding-- 115-118 degrees-- you can forget about them for about 2 days. The longer you let them dry the more crispness your chip will bestow upon you.

Recipe? Sure.

1-2 organic zucchini peeled or unpeeled whatever is your groove, sliced thinly on the mandolin
Juice of 1 lemon
For me, I love dill or thyme so I chop them up really well and sprinkle on generously.

I let my zucchini and herbs soak overnight, but an hour or two will do.

Then I put them in the dehydrator at 118 degrees and let those babies go, only checking periodically to flip them over if need be.

After two days they are as crispy as a gosh darn Lays chip MINUS the gmos, preservatives, oils, and salt.

I eat them with guac or my fav. Mango And Sweet Organic Corn Salsa and they are righteously and absurdly delicious.

By the way, that insanely-mind-blowing salsa that eeks of summer bounty goes as follows: (all ripe and organic)

1 mango
2 heirloom tomatoes
1 ripe peach or nectarine
2 ears of corn
1 bell pepper (any color but green which are unripe, therefore, inedible)
Small handful of chives or the top of one green onion
Massive fistful of cilantro
Half a peeled lime

Pulse to your desired consistency and use your chips to go to town!

I would imagine if you were joansing for some serious chip-age of the Cheeze-y variety you could add a heaping tablespoon of Nooch to the lemon juice and dill and then lovingly MASSAGE it into the zucchini. (Is meditation through the vehicle of food possible? Anyone? Anyone?)

Happy Chipping my fellow raw food nerds!


How to Navigate Social Situations, Dining Out, & Making Food for Your Family While Adhering to a Plant-based Diet

One of the most effective ways we can connect with another person is to share a meal with them. However, in today's modern world where everyone has particular dietary specifications -- gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian, etc. is it still possible for food to function in that same way? Can we still bond while sharing different meals?

Well, I say, YES!

Food is something that has always been a very important part my relationship with my husband; probably because food - the act of making a meal and sharing it with others, was a large part of my childhood too.

So, in the 12 years that my husband and I have been together, we have found ways to make our ever-evolving vegan diets work for us-- both when we go out together and in social situations with family and friends.

While this post focuses primarily on making a plant-based lifestyle work for you, it can really be applied to any type of dietary specifications!

My number one best tip for making your lifestyle work in the real world is to PLAN AHEAD!

If we are going out to eat, we always check out www.happycow.com or www.menupages.com to look over the menu and make sure we can BOTH find something we will enjoy. Back when I was only eating raw vegan food, we would always check to see if there was a nice salad on the menu or a fruit platter. I would simply just bring my own dressing and I was good to go! I, of course, always check portion-size too- the bigger the better. Fortunately for me, being raw vegan also meant that I didn't really need to take into consideration my gluten-allergy because fruits and veggies are naturally gluten-free. However, my dad actually has Celiac Disease, so he has to be incredibly careful when dining out due to possible cross-contamination.

Photo courtesy globalanimal.org
  Another good tip here, especially if you are heading out to a non-veg or non-vegan restaurant with family and friends, is to CALL AHEAD! This is one of the best pieces of advise I can offer. Most chefs are more than happy to prepare a little something special  for you as it lets them get creative. Just make sure you are specific and clear in what your preferences are; allergies, food sensitivities, likes, dislikes..

Now, what about office parties, holiday get-togethers with family, or dinner parties with friends? Navigating those can be a bit more tricky. The restaurant will likely not take offense to the fact that you have specific dietary preferences -- family and friends on the other hand, well, it usually requires a bit more finesse.

For work parties, I would ultimately suggest eating something substantial beforehand and then just nibbling on the fruit and veg platter if you are still hungry. Or as some offices do now, parties are typically held at restaurants, so follow the restaurant protocol for this one!

If it is a holiday get-together with family or a dinner party with friends, I would say that much like dining out, you should call ahead and talk to the host. Explain that because you eat a certain way, you will be brining your own dish or dishes and that you will gladly prepare enough for everyone to try. Sometimes the host will offer to make you a separate dish and depending on how comfortable you are with that or what kind of relationship you have, this may very well be a great option.

My in-laws have a holiday party every year the day after Christmas. My mother-in-law used to prepare the most delicious raw food meal for my husband and I on top of all the other food for the party. I was always so incredibly grateful because it meant I got to take a little break, especially since it was the day after Christmas and I had spent days before meal planning, shopping, and preparing for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner.

On the other hand, sometimes you may feel too guilty (or perhaps you are also a control freak like me, lol) allowing someone else to do all the work. In which case you can kindly convey this to your host and explain that you'd rather just bring your own food because you don't want to burden them.

I do, typically, always bring my own food, and that's partly because I never want people to think that I EXPECT some sort of special treatment just because I choose to eat differently, nor do I want to (as above) burden them with preparing an entirely separate meal.

Another reason, which lends itself to my inherent control-freakness, is because unless you are a vegan, most people simply don't grasp the fact that vegan means no animal products what-so-ever. And what constitutes "animal products," for whatever reason, seems to have a very loose interpretation within the veg/vegan community.

photo courtesy of Vegans of Instagram

 I mean, how many times have you gotten the, "Oh, you're vegan...cool, so you still eat chicken/fish/butter/mayo right?"

or, "Well, can't you just have it this ONE time? It won't kill you!"

I wish I could say that I initially removed animal products from my diet because I felt it was ethically wrong to consume another sentient being, but it was purely for health reasons. It was literally making me sick; migraines, debilitating depression, anemia, severe digestive issues - and this was only the half of it. (You can read My Story here and about how I took back my health by adhering to a plant-based diet!)

So, yeah, while it may not "kill" me if  I were to accidentally eat animal products again, I'd really rather not take the risk.

Personally, cooking is my number one passion and I truly enjoy making my own food. You can often find me on a Saturday night in the kitchen whipping up new recipes or preparing for our big Sunday dinner. Bringing my own food not only saves my host the hassle, but it actually means less stress for the both of us. He or she doesn't have to worry about making a separate dish for me and I don't have to worry about what is or could possibly be lurking in my seemingly benign bowl of [insert meal here.]

So now that we've covered dining out as a couple and dealing with social situations, what about eating at home when your partner or kids don't eat the same thing as you?

The last thing most people want to do after a long day at work is make a different meal for each person in the house based on their likes and dislikes. By now, I'm pretty sure most people are aware of what their families or partner enjoy eating. So, utilize that knowledge and stock your pantry with basics that you can jazz up by adding whatever veggies and sauces you have on hand in your fridge.

This means always having a wide variety of different pastas, rices, potatoes, polenta, beans, grains, and canned goods like tomatoes for homemade sauce.




From there you can build on that by adding whatever you and your family enjoy most. If I am making food for my non-vegan family I like to stick to things that everyone can enjoy without any real modifications, like stir-fry or chickpea curry. Fortunately, my family really enjoys my raw food creations too and don't mind eating a bowl of cucumber pasta with sun-dried tomato mango sauce either.





Here is an example of my His & Her Pasta from our Sunday dinner last week. Since I still eat primarily raw vegan, I made myself some zucchini pasta that I topped with my homemade Marinara (cooked and prepared the night before) for a delicious high-raw meal. While my husband ate brown rice penne pasta that I topped with the same sauce. So all I had to do here was make a big batch of sauce, spiralize my zucchini, and boil his pasta; a no fuss dinner that satisfies both are dietary specifications!

Zucchini Pasta Marinara + Brown Rice Penne Pasta Marinara







Close up of my delicious Zucchini Pasta Marinara w. fresh chopped tomatoes, red bell pepper, & scallions
 
Close up of Brown Rice Penne with my simple, homemade Marinara

To learn how to make this recipe or find out more about Positively Plant-Powered meal plans that help you transition to a plant-based lifestyle with ease, check out my website or contact me for more information! And don't forget to check out and hit "Like" my Facebook page where I post daily!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Transition Me: High Carb Low Fat Cooked Vegan Meals for The Frugal Eater

So, on this blog, I talk A LOT about fruit and raw food in general. My name is, after all, RAW food nerd. However, I am well aware that such a lifestyle is not for everyone, nor does everyone desire to be 100% raw. For some, eating fully raw is cost prohibitive or they simply desire to merely only incorporate more raw food or even just add more plant-based foods overall.

Today, I would like to address those issues by sharing one of my favorite simple, healthy, high carb low fat vegan meals that you can incorporate into your diet as you transition to a healthier lifestyle! Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing more of these types of recipes, because I think it's important for people to see that you really don't have to give up EVERYTHING just to be healthy. All meals are budget-friendly and great if you are short on time because everything can be made the night before or left in your steamer/crock pot to be ready when you get home!

My top most cost effective starches that I recommend as a way to transition to a more plant-based or vegan lifestyle: (unlimited)
  • Potatoes 
  • Rice 
  • Corn 
  • Gluten-free pastas (corn/brown rice pasta) 
My first easy transition meal is for baked french fries with homemade salt-free, refined sugar-free, and vinegar-free ketchup. Say what? Healthy fries? Hell yeah!! 

Crispy, no-oil French Fries straight out of the oven are a match made in foodie heaven with this tangy, salty, and slightly sweet homemade Ketchup! Eat as much as you desire without feeling the slightest bit of guilt!


For the French Fries: 
Serves 1-2 people
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees 

2-3 lbs of organic potatoes that have been cut in strips and partially steamed for about 15-20/25 mins. -- they should still be firm, but soft enough that you are able to slide a knife in and out cleanly
 (I have found that golden yellow potatoes hold up really well and I generally just cut these in half or thirds, but russets will work just as well too. Sweet potato is excellent as well!) 
1 sheet of parchment paper cut to fit your baking sheet 
Once your potatoes are done steaming, let them cool, and then place them on your baking sheet. 


Season as desired: a dash of black pepper and some chopped fresh rosemary is my favorite combination! 
Bake in the oven until golden brown 



For the Homemade Ketchup:
1 small can of salt-free, Organic tomato paste 
onion powder 
garlic powder 
black pepper
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon of coconut sugar
1 cup of filtered water

In a mixing bowl combine your tomato paste, molasses, and coconut sugar gradually adding your filtered water to thin out the mixture. You may need to add more then 1 cup of water depending on how thin or thick you want the ketchup to be. 
Mix until the ingredients have fully come together, and you have a smooth, silky consistency. 
Next, add in your spices. I start with 2-3 shakes of onion and garlic powder and a small pinch of black pepper. Then I taste and adjust as needed. 

Chef tip: Don't get hung up on exact amounts when it comes to seasoning in recipes. Everyone's taste preferences are different, so don't worry if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of pepper, but you feel like half a teaspoon is enough for you. 

As with most sauce/condiment recipes the longer they sit the better and more flavorful they become, so feel free to make a big batch of this and let it sit in your fridge until you are ready to use it! Just make sure to pull it out 30 minutes before you are going to eat and perhaps add a little more water if necessary to thin it out. 

You can even steam your potatoes ahead of time and leave them in the fridge until you are ready to bake them which makes this meal not only super affordable for anyone on a budget, but also incredibly simple for those who are busy and just want quick, easy meals. 

Pair this with a nice big salad and you have a satisfying, nutritious, high carb plant-based meal that will GIVE you energy and not weigh you down! 
I know I was guilty of this for a long time, but I was convinced that potatoes (specifically) were going to make me fat. They were carb-laden starches after all and I was positive that one bite and I would surely bust a gut turning me obese overnight. Instead, I stuffed my face with bacon, cheese, sausage, steaks, and more cheese. Hmmm...

The notion that starches (or fruit for that matter) make you fat is incredibly FALSE. In fact, it's a blatant lie. One that is pushed by the diet industry, specifically those advocating for high protein, low carb diets like the Atkins and Paleo diets. These are the same people that also say that fruit makes you obese and eating more than one slice of melon a day is "dangerous." Not very credible when you consider that fact that they advocate eating the majority of your calories from animal products, which any MD will tell you is the reverse of what you should be doing if you want to ward off heart disease at the very least! (If you want to learn more about the connection between high protein diets and disease please read Colin T. Campbell's books Whole, The China Study, and/or The Low-Carb Fraud)

And just in case you still don't believe me I'm going to drop some quality info bombs from Dr. John McDougall, MD and author of The Starch Solution:

"A widely held myth holds that sugars in starches are readily converted into fat, which is then stored visibly in our abdomen, hips, and buttocks. If you read the published research, you will see that there is no disagreement about this whatsoever among scientists, and that they say that THIS IS INCORRECT! After eating, we break down the complex carbohydrates in starchy foods into simple sugars. These sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream, where they are transported to trillions of cells throughout the body for energy. if you eat more carbohydrates than your body needs, you'll store up to 2 lbs of it invisibly in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. If you eat more carbohydrates than you can use (as your daily energy) and store (as glycogen), you'll burn the remainder off as body heat and through physical movement other than sports, such as walking to work, typing, yard work, and fidgeting.

Turning sugars into fats is a process called de novo lipogensis. Pigs and cows use this process to convert carbohydrates from grains and grasses into calorie-dense fats. That's what makes them so appealing as a food source. Bees do it, too, converting honey (simple carbohydrate) into wax (fatty acids and alcohols).

We humans, on the other hand, are very inefficient at converting carbohydrate to fat: we don't do it under normal conditions. (The cost for this conversion is 30 percent of calories consumed.)  Subjects overfed large amounts of simple sugars under experimental lab rotary conditions, however, will convert a small amount of carbohydrate to fat. For example, both trim and obese women fed 50 percent more calories than they usually ate in a day, along with an extra 3 1/2 ounces (135 grams) of refined sugar, produced less than 4 grams of fat daily (less than 1/8 ounce). That's just 36 extra calories stored as fat per day. You'd have to overeat all of those extra calories and table sugar every day for nearly 4 months just to gain ONE pound of extra body fat." (Pages 112-116)

(Personal interjection: Water-weight from eating high sodium foods as well as eating cooked food and not drinking enough water throughout the day can and will manifest as what looks and feels like fat or weight gain. It's kind of like a David Copperfield illusion in that respect; it feels like it's there, but ultimately, it really isn't. Proper hydration is just as important as what you are and aren't eating!)

"The warning about carbohydrate turning to body fat is a myth and nothing more: In humans, even substantial quantities of refined and processed carbohydrates contribute only a trivial amount to body fat.

The same is not true of animal and vegetable fats, however. ... Fat is the Metabolic Dollar Saved for the Next Famine. After you eat dairy, meat, nuts, oils, and other high-fat foods, you absorb their fat from your intestine into the bloodstream. From there, it is transported to billions of adipose (fat) called for storage...The fat you eat is the fat you wear." (Pages 120-121)

(Dr. McDougall references several clinical studies in footnotes throughout these paragraphs which you can see for yourself in his book, as I have listed the pages for you.)

So why do people think starches make them fat? Well, the answer is simple really: because they cover those starches in FAT. It's not often where you see someone digging into a plain potato or french fries that haven't been fried not only in oil, but often oil plus animal fat. Corn with no butter? WHATTT?!
No, it's covered in butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, what have you.

This is not to say that ALL fat is bad or that fat is evil and you should avoid it at all costs. Fat is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle, but HIGH quantities of fat coming from animal sources are what cause people to run into problems. The type of fats you choose to eat are important and overall fat consumption should not exceed 15% (This does not apply to children or pregnant women who require more fat for brain development). The average person typically averages around 42% fat, including vegans and gourmet raw vegans eating lots of nut-based foods and 'cold-pressed oils!'

Here are some healthy fats that are excellent to eat in moderation:
  • Avocados 
  • Young Thai Coconut Meat 
  • Durian 
  • Hemp seeds 
  • Tahini, Sesame Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Fresh cracked nuts (Nuts, in my opinion should be kept to a minimum. Once out of the shell they spoil easily, are lower in water content compared to fruity-fats like avos, coco meat, and durian -- and they are particularly difficult on digestion. They are perfectly suitable to eat in small quantities, but not something you should be consuming in large amounts on a daily basis. And if you do, it should be with greens in your salad as part of the last meal of the day as long as you are not eating cooked food during that meal. They should never be combined with fruits if you want to have effortless, smooth digestion!) 
The number one point you should take away from this post (other than my bombin' french fry recipe!) is that you shouldn't be afraid of carbohydrates and you should NEVER deprive or restrict your calories from them. Carbohydrates produce lean, healthy bodies that are full of energy and free of disease!


Don't forget to check out the new website, www.positivelyplantpowered.com where you can sign up for my email and Skype coaching packages, meal plans, and follow my Facebook page for daily updates!

Have a great day guys!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Get Fit and Healthy on a Plant-Based Diet!


 I'm back! I took a small hiatus from blogging to update Raw Food Nerd a bit and to work on something very special that has been pretty much a year in the making:

My NEW website, Positively Plant-Powered!  < Click to check it out!!! >


I am beyond excited as I have been waiting for this for quite some time. The concept of Positively Plant-Powered came to me after seeing way too many people struggling and failing on the raw and vegan diet and consequently returning to eating animal products. I also began to recognize that while many people are interested in adopting a plant-based lifestyle, they simply don't know where to begin, and that's where I come in! I want to be there to help you achieve any and all of your health-oriented goals from weight loss to improved energy and everything in-between!

My goal with Positively Plant-Powered is to help educate and assist people in leading a healthier, more optimal lifestyle by adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet, but without having to sacrifice an ounce of taste. I will be offering packages of online or in-person coaching, personalized meal plans, shopping lists, and tons of yummy recipes that will appeal to even the most skeptical and discerning of eaters. (Pizza! French-Fries! Ice Kream for BREAKFAST! Eating to your hearts content while getting lean and healthy!)

 In the future there will be recipe e-books for sale, you-tube videos, and even awesome Positively Plant-Powered merchandise! (Everything will be very affordable and some will be donation-based because I really do not believe that you can put a price on true health!)

So, if you want to learn more about a plant-based lifestyle, go visit the website! Read my story, check out the services I offer, or just send me a shout out via email. I'm happy to answer any and ALL questions!

 BONUS: If you go to the Positively Plant-Powered website and LIKE my page on Facebook, then send me an email telling me you did, -- I will send you the recipe for my epic, super secret, life-altering 'Marshmallow Sauce' for banana nice kream, as seen on my IG: RawFoodNerd!