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 through the raw food lifestyle. I am THE RAW FOOD NERD!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Cane Juice Chronicles: 31 Day Bikram Yoga Challange

Before I get into the deets about the challenge, let me give you a little background info.

Bikram yoga is a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises that takes place in a room heated to 105 degrees with at least 40% humidity. It requires a balance of both strength and flexibility; it will test your endurance, your stamina, and ultimately what type of person you are when things get tough. And much like cane juice, it's entirely addicting.

I began practicing Bikram five years ago in Manhattan. To say that I was inflexible before beginning this practice is an understatement -- I couldn't even touch my toes. No really, I'm not joking. And I didn't like the heat either. So basically, there was nothing about this that I should have enjoyed at all.

Except for the fact that it was incredibly challenging and pushed me far beyond my limits...therefore, I loved it. And I felt ah-mah-zing afterwards; the greatest post-workout high ever!

Bikram is- me, actualized. It is all of my hard-work, effort, and determination in it's most tangible form. It is all that I am, poured out on the mat -- no running from things that are difficult, no giving up. Bikram is my form of meditation where for those 90 minutes it's just me and my yoga; I leave everything else outside the room.

All I wanted when I was younger was to be able to do a split! After about three years into my practice my body was finally flexible enough to be able to do one!

Thanks to some wonderful teachers who recognized a bit of potential in me, I have been able to really hone my practice and progress farther in postures than I ever dreamed would be possible! Bikram transformed my body once, and I hoped that it could do the same again by correcting my hip/thigh injury once and for all. (To learn more about why Bikram is so beneficial for healing injuries please go to www.bikramyoga.com, research)

Needless to say, the idea to incorporate raw sugar cane juice, given it's high mineral content and potent healing potential, was a given. If you read my previous post about cane juice and running you might remember that cane juice is a grass, one that can be likened to wheat grass but infinitely more delicious. You also might recall me mentioning how great it is for muscle recovery due to it's ability to help alkalize the body post-workout; precisely what we need to help fight inflammation for said injuries.

Truth be told,  I'm no stranger to yoga challenges; I once did 285 days in a row. However, using Bikram in conjunction with cane juice to heal my injury was something I had little experience with.

And then Rey told me about this amazing woman, Lindsy, who works for her and who also does Bikram. She suffered a pretty severe knee injury where her kneecap popped off and she tore several ligaments. Her doctors insisted on surgery, but she opted for natural care, using cane juice and Bikram to heal her injury. This woman is so tough that she actually drinks Raw Cane Juice's Detox Elixir (think Sriracha-level spicy)  WHILE she is in class because it heats her up even more!! (Yeah, this girl is the bomb!)

Quick injury recap: My injury (discussed in the post about running) was certainly not as traumatic as popping my knee cap off, but it was severe enough that I really could not walk and when I did walk, it was with a very obvious limp and leaning to the left side. When I would sit down and then get up, my hip would go into full spasms and what felt like an electric shock would shoot up my whole leg and through my body. The aggravated injury this time around was more of a groin pull that centered around my left thigh and felt like a cross between pinching and someone applying deep pressure to the area. This time around I could walk (thankfully) but, running was out of the question.

Anyway, after that, I felt emboldened and I was confident that yoga paired with cane juice would be my ticket to renewed health and I'd be race-ready in no time.

Now, before I officially share my detailed notes, I feel that it is necessary to clear something up: Cane juice is NOT sugar water. People often see the word 'sugar' in the title and they immediately swear it off. Sugar in the form of fruit, and in this case cane sugar, is NOT the same as refined, processed sugar.

I'm going to let the expert explain this, so here is what Rey told me: "Comparing the two (cane sugar and refined sugar) is like comparing table sugar to an actual beet pulled from the soil. [90% of U.S. table sugar is made from sugar beets, but that granulated stuff has nothing to do with the root veggie, the source, a non-hybridized beet.) Comparing man-made dehydrated crystalline sugar to any kind of actual unaltered whole food is like comparing Starburst (which has some elements of real fruit, supposedly), to an actual fruit. Without the entirety of the food- including the natural water content that suspends and keeps alive and intact the full spectrum of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, prebiotics (lactobacillius in cane juice), fiber, etc. isolated sugars like high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, palm sugar, evaporated cane juice, etc. are just crystalline, man-made sugar that enters the blood and offer no nutritional value. Furthermore, to synthesize non-whole sugar, the body must leach from its reserved and often limited mineral source. On the other hand, naturally occurring poliosaccharides and oligosaccharides are complex, intact sugars that are unaltered from their natural state. These complex sugars are what are bodies need for real, sustained energy that does not deplete or leave residue that is toxic to our bodies.

Alkalizer Tonic! Tastes like Lemonade! Super hydrating and with the added chlorophyll my cells were so happy!
 Cane juice is NATURALLY OCCURRING sucrose (NOT table sucrose made by man!) And this naturally occurring sucrose found in cane juice is fully metabolized by the stomach, bypassing the pancreas, thus it requires ZERO insulin to break down and turn into useful energy. This is why diabetics can use raw cane juice as well, no blood sugar spikes."

 (Probably why I have such great results using cane juice as fuel for my running and as a post-recovery drink, the body virtually has to do nothing so all those minerals and vitamins are just sucked up by my cells!)

So there you have it, the "sugar" in cane juice is really just a misnomer.

And now, my ode to cane juice and Bikram, a rustic testimonial highlighting my ups and downs and ultimately, how I fixed my injury using 100% natural methods. Included here are the times of each class I took as well as what cane juice I drank that day.

2/25: 9 am class, first day back after 3 days off doing T-25; swimming, arduous breathing series because my arms were sore from swimming and push-ups
2/26; 9 am class, tight hamstrings but more flexible in my shoulders
2/27: 9 am class; still having trouble with standing bow because of my connector muscle- more difficult to pull back and up because it feels stuck esp in the morning. biking makes it worse!!! lower back feels like it is opening up again-- more bend
2/28: took 8:15 pm class last night, haven't taken a night class in 6 years; felt so much more flexible and it was easier to get into full postures most specifically forward bend in half moon pose (whereas I usually have a very tight right hamstring, tonight it felt less tender and tight.) rabbit, and even triangle-- one of my hardest poses because of my hip tightness -was able to get my hips more in line so I'm not leaning forward as much, working on keeping knee locked throughout whole pose.
3/1: 9 am class -March challenge begins! interested to see how I will feel less then 12 hrs after my last class. doubles in my future again??? maybe! also, going to get cane juice today so I can start to see how that effects my recovery and future flexibility!!
*can almost see the back window when I do cobra !!!
*standing bow pose is way more open; leg extended

goals for march:
full tear drop shape in bow pose; wrap my arm around my back to do full spine-twisting pose
last night: 1 c detox elixir and 1 32 oz cane juice
3/2: 9 am class; this morning my ankles are sore better after stretching; shoulders felt so open during breathing and I noticed I could look all the way back to the window and still keep my arms straight. Epsom salt + eucalyptus oil bath after Bikram: really exhausted today- little detox maybe? pineapple juice for b-fast today because I felt really nauseous after class. 1 c detox elixir before bed
3/3: woke up this morning with no muscle soreness!! and this is after walking some pretty steep hills in Elysian Park yesterday. pulled something in my neck reaching for shampoo. detox elixir is SO spicy but I think it's really helping ease the inflammation in my thigh because of the high dose of ginger and the warming effects of cayenne. pretty awesome! not going to Bikram until tonight because I have a doc. appointment so we will see if Friday night's enhanced flexibility was a fluke or legit. doing an abs video this morning- noticed that strengthening my core has really helped with Floor Series; the most difficult part of Bikram for me. had alkalizer elixir post-Bikram-- the best!! class last night was tough; noticed when I eat raw I am more flexible- had potatoes and steamed greens, zucchini pasta and big green salad for dinner (5 hrs before class) and felt tight and really thirsty; soreness in knee when locking out left side (problem hip side)
So close to locking out!
3/4: 9 am class; I'm now obsessed with alkalizer elixir; very hydrating post Bikram (TMI: peed clear night and morning, good sign!!) knee soreness gone, no muscle soreness in legs even tho I am again less than 12 hrs out from last night's class. proper hydration is one of the key tenets of recovery and so far cane juice has been incredibly effective. should try detox elixir (shot) and then have alkalize for mega recovery power; hips more open than typical morning class. feel like I an opening up more and more each day; pull in neck/shoulder from other day gone! regular cane juice for breakfast + 1 shot of detox elixir at night
3/5: 9 am class; noticed that I feel much more flexible and stronger the next day when I have cane juice at night instead of having it after Bikram for breakfast. went to bed a bit late last night and didn't feel that great in class today; my obliques were tight during half moon esp on my right side. progress: I'm fully able to touch my head above my thigh now in standing separate leg head to knee pose. AND in stretching pose i can finally touch my head to my toes without as much difficulty! going to test my theory and have alkalizer elixir tonight and see how I feel tomorrow! reg cane juice
3/6: 9 am class; theory proven, much less tight when I have cane juice at night. drank 3 L water  before 12 in the afternoon yesterday and still don't think it's enough as I I feel very dehydrated in class-- nauseous the whole time/dizzy/ loss of appetite. makes class very difficult because I need to bend over a lot to slow my heart down. consistency is bringing out a lot of old toxins and emotions. poor sleep contributing.
alkalizer elixir at night!
3/7: 9 am class; same as yesterday-- poor sleep/feeling dizzy/dehydrated despite drinking tons of water. class was very hot and difficult for me today. reg cane juice + shot detox elixir
3/8: 9 am class; legs/hips feeling really flexible and open today. *almost as much as before my injury which after that has always thwarted my progress and depth mostly because so much of Bikram is about the hips and back and lower back + hips have always caused me so much pain after the injury. made sure to drink A LOT yesterday + cane juice to make sure I'm super hydrated; good sleep last night.
so close to locking out in standing bow!! working on back bend in half moon: getting my arms straight and really bending my middle back while lifting up. so many moving parts to acknowledge when doing the posture properly! alkalizer elixir shot of detox elixir
3/9: 9 am class: very good class today- nausea has abated, hydrated a lot yesterday (3+ L)  starting to feel stronger in class again. Noticed that in certain postures that I haven't consciously focused on over the years (but beginning to now) are very stubborn to change and allow my body to open up. also noticed that if I drink alkalizer elixir the night before a class, in the morning I feel more awake and not as tight.
trying out a new combo this week-- ginger lime!
3/10: 11 am class; caught up on some lost sleep and in turn want to see how my body will be effected by sleeping in later. had 32 oz of cane juice yesterday and 32 oz of alkalizer last night + shot of detox elixir, so far today my body feels GREAT! my back was hurting a little yesterday (left lower flank) but it's gone today. with so much Bikram I'm really having to be so much more conscious of hydration. think I need to eat more melon for breakfast again because that works as natural hydration for me. 32 oz cane juice
3/11: skipped because I am doing a double on Thursday. detox elixir as salad dressing + 32 oz cane juice
3/12: 11 am class; no difference I flexibility between 9 am vs 11 am class BUT big difference between Bikram on 8+ hrs of really excellent sleep vs 7-8 hrs of crappy sleep. after injury my hip rotation has been limited/tight and at times painful. today was the first time since Sept that I felt I had regained full hip rotation most notably in two important postures -- triangle and tree pose. pre-injury, in tree I could line my heel with my belly button, and keep my knee completely in line with my other knee so it looked like from the side like I only had one knee. it was one of my best postures! post-injury I could not do that at all. it really gives motivation to push on. and I think this plus the consistent cane juice (with all it's healing/mineralizing properties) is fixing my body from the inside out-- it's the perfect marriage of plant food + restorative exercise! had an alkalizer after class + ginger lime 16 oz tonight
3/13: 9 am class-- LOVE the ginger lime! pinched a nerve in my back this morning while riding my bike w. back pack on. hurts to breathe. still did pretty well in Bikram, despite this hiccup. no new things to report. cane juice pm
3/14: 11 am class; back still hurts. acupuncture tomorrow.  in Bikram vs running I think raw food is better; if I eat cooked food I definitely feel more stiff. whereas with running I feel like the denser carbs I.e. starches are more effective with providing long lasting energy. I would say the cane juice neutralizes the stiffness and provides more agility because I feel LESS stiff eating cooked food + cane juice vs just cooked food and no cane juice. Notable: I legit crave the cane juice. I could drink gallons. Tells me that my body needs those electrolytes and minerals. alkalizer + shot of detox
3/15: 9 am class; back is still bothering me and standing bow right side is compromised. always feels better after class, but I think acupuncture will release the nerve or whatever it is. cane juice pm/ detox elixir as salad dressing
3/16: 9 am class- back still felt sore, but I put my natural muscle cream on it before Bikram and on the back of my legs (tight hamstrings) and it really opened me up and made my back feel normal again. still limited motion in class because of back but doing my best to push through.
3/17: 9 am class-- I CAN RUN AGAIN! that's about 15 day of consecutive cane juice and restorative yoga and I'm good-- compared to the last injury which took 4-5 months!! between the yoga and cane juice that's some powerful natural anti-inflammatory which is key for healing. ginger lime 32 oz
3/18: 9 am class; arms/shoulders super tight today, but I felt very open in the hips. doing a double today for the first time in 5 years!
11 am class: my hips felt stretched and open and  SO flexible. was able to nearly lock out in standing now and my lower back was incredibly flexible second time around-- was able to go much deeper than I have before. drank 32 oz of alkalizer in between and I had so much energy! still working on hydration.
3/19: 9 am class; no muscle soreness today what-so-ever!! crediting this to getting quality minerals between classes yesterday!
ginger lime 16 oz
3/20: 9 am class today's focus is hip rotation; really trying to build on this and heal my hip fully and correctly. seems that back bends are what really open my hips and while it hurts to stretch it that way, it definitely aids in gaining more hip rotation. shot of detox elixir
3/21: 9 am class; after yesterday's class my hips feel amazing and flexible. and yesterday I really worked in pulling my leg out and up vs going down so far and I think it really helped. practicing the back bend from half moon series and doing camel are two of my most difficult postures now even though they used to be two of my "easiest".
3/22 7 am class //  cane juice: in Palm Springs for yoga! feeling very tired and tighter than normal in my arms. kind of feel like my body intuitively knows what body parts to focus on and heal because daily I seem to experience tightness in my arms and shoulders, but conversely, I feel like everyday my lower back/ hips become progressively more open
Standing head to knee pose. This took me a good two to two and a half years to be able to do properly (locking the knee is essential here for maintaining balance. After my first hip injury, I couldn't do this any more because it simply put too much pressure on my bad hip. Now, I'm back in the game!
3/23: 7 am class // cane juice: felt nauseous the whole class, but pushed through. I'm using my time in PS to work on my back as far as say not using my hands (as much) in cobra and keeping my belly button on the floor per the dialogue. I feel like my brain intuitively knows which body parts/areas of my body need the most healing because daily my shoulders and arms feel so tight whereas it's the exact opposite with my lower back and hips- everyday they feel more open/flexible and I feel that I make progress each day even tho I may be struggling in a class. as I have mentioned, I am not stranger to daily Bikram, practicing six days a week most weeks and that's why I am certain that cane juice is a HUGE part of this healing process. I don't think I would have come this far in 30 days without it.
3/24: 7 am class // alkalizer: the teacher here is helping me keep my upper back lifted in half-moon back bend it's really allowing me to go back even farther! So much satisfaction in these small improvements.
3/25 9 am class // cane juice: excellent, strong class today. was able to get my chest up and hips off the ground during floor series bow!
3/26 9 am class // alkalizer: this past week has been weird for me in that I haven't felt normal in class; I feel nauseous and my heart races and I have to bend over. I push through of course because I can see the bigger picture and I know it's just my bodies way of getting rid of old toxins. even though I don't feel amazingly strong in every class I do feel stronger in certain poses which I think is important vs just being mediocre in every pose. Still working on lifting up in poses and thinking more consciously about when to use strength vs flexibility.
3/27: 8 pm class // cane juice: after nearly a week at Palm Springs yoga where it is more humid than hot, which for me means enhanced flexibility, my lower back and shoulders felt remarkably open. back bend in half moon series was NOT painful (usually is) and I was able to keep my arms with my ears-- all in the knee lock. unfortunately, as it was a night class and I had a full days worth of food in me, I felt pretty nauseous by the time triangle came around. felt much better after drinking my cane juice.
3/28: 9 am class-- no tightness or muscle soreness today! feeling really open and stretchy! back bend in awkward series was EPIC! went back farther than ever before--all in the knee lockout vs lower back contraction-- sugar cane juice
3/29: 11 am class; alkalizer: one of my worst classes since I started Bikram 5 years ago, felt dizzy the whole time, very abnormal for me, though as noted I've felt this way on and off all week! arms/upper back felt very tight. good news tho: I've made so much progress in continuing to open my hips, everyday I feel like I am able open more and more. aggravated injury healed!
3/30: 9 am class-cane juice-- felt great until the end where I started to feel nauseous again. had cane juice right after class and instantly felt better. think my electrolytes were depleted because I've been sweating so much in class. nothing to note about postures today.
3/31: 9 am class, alkalizer: it's the final day of my 31 day march challenge with cane juice and despite my nausea that came about during triangle I had a really awesome last day as far as my standing bow, standing head to knee, floor bow, and twisting posture.
 The goals I set for March were quite grand and I'm still working at them, but it's like running- shaving 5 seconds off your PB is extraordinary and the same applies for Bikram- incremental improvements are big!

Obviously my main goal in undertaking this challenge and incorporating cane juice into my regime, was to heal my hip/thigh injury (as in, feel no pain), but in the end I gained so much more! Not only was I able to heal the aggravated injury, but as you can see I also regained full range of motion to my hips. They no longer feel incredibly tight and sore. I feel like the flexibility that I had worked so hard to acquire over these last couple of years has been restored, and now I am even stronger.

As I mentioned in my data, I was already practicing about 5-6 times a week and was doing so with the injury, but it wasn't until I introduced the cane juice that I believe the real healing began. Recovery is about getting proper nutrition to your cells in order to effectively repair the injury and fight inflammation. Raw cane juice provides exactly that-- amino acids, unprocessed, live enzymes, and the right pH balance that our cells just soak up.

Bikram and cane juice is, in my opinion, perhaps the best natural and most effective way to truly heal any injury. 

[I am happy to report that I was able to run my race, the Hollywood 10k, with success. I drank 32 oz. of cane juice the night before, 16 oz. 45 minutes before my race, and 32 oz. after the race. I felt incredible during the race, like my legs had wings and I was flying! The next day I had no muscle soreness or tightness at all.]

 *I'd like to thank Rey and Robby and everyone at Raw Cane SuperJuice Bar for supplying all the cane juice and for believing in this project as much as I do*

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spicy Detox Salad Dressing

So, remember that post a few weeks back where I blogged about my running improvements while training with sugar cane juice?

Ironically, a few short days after I declared that I was going to be running that 10k sponsored by Raw Cane SuperJuice Bar and subsequently ran my fastest 2 mile time to date (7:30 pace!!!), I aggravated my old hip injury and unfortunately was unable to continue running (training) at the time.

I knew there was only one solution for this so I pitched the idea to Rey, co-owner and dealer of my cane addiction: a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge in conjunction with various forms of cane juice; regular sugar cane juice, a detox elixir, ginger cane juice, and alkalizer elixir (chlorophyll, lime, and cane juice)

Between the restorative nature of Bikram yoga and the enhanced mineral composition of cane juice, I was positive some serious healing action would take place and I'd be as good as golden by the time the race came. (It's actually this weekend!)

[In my next post I will be discussing this in greater detail. Over the course of the last 31 days, I kept a detailed journal documenting my experience; how my body felt, goals, progress, accessing postures, etc. Recovery being the overall theme for this installment of the cane juice chronicles!]

During the last 31 days I have successfully incorporated cane juice into my lifestyle as much as possible, which wasn't too difficult all things considered!

Raw Cane SuperJuice Bar makes a killer anti-inflammatory mix called Detox Elixir- think Master Cleanse but, way better- with cane juice, ginger (extremely powerful anti-inflammatory and healing properties), and cayenne (also good for easing inflammation).

picture courtesy of sugarcanejuice.org
Detox Elixir has a serious kick and I personally have a low tolerance for things of the spicy variety, so, I turned that baby into the most amazing salad dressings!

Raw Cane SuperJuice Bar WILL SHIP CANE JUICE TO YOU ANYWHERE IN THE US! So if you don't live in LA you can STILL make this delicious dressing. (Or perhaps you too are lucky enough to live in a place like Hawaii where fresh cane juice can still be found which in that case, you can make your own detox elixir! If you can't get cane juice to make these dressing you can also replace it with dates and water blended together, but make sure if you do this that you don't add the avocado. Avocado plus dates is absolutely horrible food combining and this will make you very bloated and cause very, very uncomfortable digestion. Just sayin'. )

Needless to say, my salads this month have been to-die-for. And it would be SO wrong for me to keep them to myself!

Note: I am quite liberal with my use of ginger and turmeric here because I found them particularly beneficial in my healing process, so feel free to scale back. But, turmeric is the bomb- fresh, it tastes like mustard which used to be my favorite condiment.

 Eat the Rainbow Salad w.Detox Vinaigrette 

This salad is just bursting with color and so much flavor! You will hardly realize you're eating a salad!

 What you will need: Organic Salad
  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach
  • Beet Greens
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Tomatoes 
  • Mint 
  • Parsley 
  • Basil
  • Scallions 
  • Chives 
Detox Vinaigrette
  • Detox Elixir: Sugar cane juice, cayenne, and ginger 
  • Juice from 1 lemon 
  • Chopped turmeric
  • Chopped ginger
  • Chopped dill
  • Finely chopped chives 
In a medium-sized bowl combine chopped turmeric, ginger, dill, and chives. Squeeze in juice from one lemon and then wisk in 3-4 tablespoons of detox elixir. Pour over salad. 
I like to let this sit for about 10-15 minutes because the dressing softens the greens and allows for all the flavors to combine making for a particularly delicious salad! Crisp and light, perfect for slimming that waistline, packing in those dark leafy greens, and reducing inflammation!
 Hearts of Palm Spicy Greek Salad

  • Hearts of palm (I buy from Whole Foods, this brand is organic and has the lowest amount of sodium) 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Scallions 
  • Chives 
  • Mint 
  • Parsley 
  • Dill
  • Romaine
Greek Dressing:
  • 2-3 T Detox Elixir 
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • chopped chives
  • dash of lemon-pepper 
  • dash of greek (salt-free) seasoning that has marjoram, oregano, sweet basil, rosemary, garlic, onion, spearmint, thyme, and chili

For the dressing, mix everything together in a bowl and pour over salad ingredients. I like to shake this one up really well so that the dressing covers every inch of my salad for maximum flavor. In order to do that I put this in a large salad Tupperware and cover it so I can shake this baby real good! 

On occassion, I will add some avocado to this salad, either whole or I will take all my dressing ingredients and blend it up with the avocado. This makes a great Creamy Greek Dressing or even a dip for veggies! 

 I'd like to stress that for me, these salads are either a first or second courses. Salad alone is too low in calories and does not supply the necessary amount of carbohydrates to properly fuel your body, regardless of your fitness level or amount of exercise. 

If I am having an all raw day either of these salads will follow a large fruit meal. Right now, I am SUPER into jackfruit and mangos, so I make sure I get enough calories from them FIRST. If I am having a cooked food day then I will have either of these salads first followed by potatoes or rice plus an obscene amount of steamed greens. The point? Carb-up, raw or cooked, always vegan and you will never fail! 

Give these dressings a try and remember to check out and like my page on Facebook: Positively Plant-Powered and follow me on Instagram and Tumblr: Rawfoodnerd and if you live in LA don't forget to hit up the Hollywood Farmers Market where you cane find fresh cane juice! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Know Your Food: Something's Fishy

Where does your food come from?

A very important question that seems to be popping up more frequently. And while it may seem to be a topic that originally only concerned niche groups or 'radical' animal rights activists, it seems to be infiltrating main stream media much more often these days.
Less than two months ago 9 million pounds of ground beef got recalled from a huge supplier. Eggs from various states are continually being recalled (In CA, I hear about Albertons' eggs getting recalled all the time!) About a year ago there was the huge listeria scare. Pink slime. Swine flu. Avian flu. Mad-cow disease.

Notice a trend here?

Regardless of the label you apply to yourself; vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, junk-food eater-- I think we can all agree on one thing: it's important to know where our food comes from. And further more, what the hell else we're being fed on top of it.

I could write a whole book about the unsanitary health violations of the meat and diary industry and how it correlates to the widespread disease in our country, but today, it's all about the fish.

Fish. Those adorable creatures that suck up and filter all the various forms of pollution we dump into our precious ocean...that little kids and dogs pee in...where ships sink to the bottom and rust away...
 I don't have enough fingers or toes to count the number of times I have heard or read someone say that they were trying to eat more healthy and therefore, eating fish. Not to mention the number of times I have annoyingly seen fish tagged as "clean-eating" on instrgram or tumblr.

Regardless of what you want you choose to believe, science and the biology of the body doesn't change. It will always react the same way when it encounters an animal product., every.single.time. It doesn't matter how fresh, farmers market-y, just milked, grass-fed, or wild your animal product is -- the body always sees it as an acid-forming food. your body will always go into state of acidosis when consumed. And it will always leach nutrients from the body (typically bones) in order to neutralize that acid.

Recently, Freelee the Banana Girl, from the ever popular forum www.30bananasaday.com posted a video on YouTube about the dangers of consuming fish due to toxicity from high levels of mercury. It is a compilation of her own opinion, TV news clips, and general research. I personally thought it was one of her best videos yet, mostly because it contained so much indisputable facts (and lord knows how much I looooveee facts! Especially ones backed by hard-hitting research!) The video is insightful and truly riveting, and honestly, a must see if you are even the slightest bit curious about improving your health. 


Also, if you want to learn more then I would suggest watching this excellent piece of investigative journalism called, The Cove: Mercury Rising. It is a great short-documentary that sheds light on the increasing hazards of mercury poisoning.

So, now that you have (hopefully) watched these videos and are incredibly disturbed by what's in your filet-o-fish, here are some helpful tips to help remove those toxins:
  • Has to be said, remove the fish from your diet 
  • Eat more dark, leafy greens 
  • Put cilantro in EV-RE-Y-THING; cilantro helps bind heavy metals like mercury together and carry them out of the body
  • Want a fishy taste sans fish: add dried dulse or dulse flakes -- very yummy, has a nice smokey taste to it too! 
  • Seaweeds in general, preferably organic, also help bind heavy metals and remove them from the body 
  • Drink green smoothies (fruit + greens = get that muthatruckin' mercury outta ya body!) 
  • Eat more juicy fruit! 
  • Overall, the more plant-based foods/proteins you include in your diet the more efficiently your body will be at detoxing the heavy metals out 

 I hope you found this interesting and informative and that you will consider a healthier Positively Plant-Powered option the next time you eat out or plan a meal!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Taco Tuesday! #thebomb

Last week for taco Thursday (I like to be different, ok?)  I posted these bad boys on my IG: RawFoodNerd (Check it out!) and got several requests asking for the recipe.

Romaine hearts as "shells" or "boats" for your favorite dips are an excellent and fun way to eat more greens without always feeling like you have to eat a salad. Chips and guac, anyone? 

So I decided I better share this recipe with you guys too..for taco Tuesday, which I suppose is the more "traditional" weekly celebration of all things taco. The salsa is the perfect combo of sweet, tangy, and a hint of kick to spice things up and the Mexi Mac & Cheeze is reminiscent of sour cream; the perfect cooling agent if you like your tacos especially spicy or if you were like me and used to lob on the sour cream quite liberally. 

Honestly, I don't care when you eat tacos, but you NEED this recipe in your life- it's that good! 

What you will need: (all of my ingredients were organic)

Food Processor

  • 1 head of romaine
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 juicy ripe mango
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 lime
  • 1 large handful of cilantro
  • 3-4 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 ripe medium tomatillo (optional)
  • 4 scallions (chopped; green tops only)
  • sliver of hot pepper of your choosing
  • 1/2 avocado

Salsafy Your Life: 
In a food processor pulse together your tomatoes, red bell pepper, mango, two of your chopped scallions, tomatillo, 1/2 of the [whole] lime (peeled), cilantro, and your sliver of hot pepper. Set aside until you are ready to assemble zee tacos!

Mexi Mac & Cheeze:
 Peel and chop off the ends of your zucchini. In the food processor, push the zucchini through the blade that allows you to shred veggies (or you can do this manually with a grater)

In a separate bowl mash your avocado, juice from 1/2 a lime, and the green tops from the other two scallions. You want the mixture to be as smooth and creamy as possible

Once you have shredded your zucchini and made your avocado sauce you can now combine the two together, making sure the zucchini and the sauce are fully incorporated. 

I like to add extra cilantro to my Mexi Mac & Cheeze because I am a bit of a cilantro-freak, but you can abstain from adding more cilantro if you choose. I know most people like their Mexican food/tacos spicy so feel free to add more hot pepper if you wish. I, personally, am not that crazy about spicy food so I only add a little just to give it a small kick. 

This is a different version of Mexi Mac & Cheeze where I spiralized
the zucchini instead of shredding it. And then I added in
additional chopped scallions, tomatoes, & red bell pepper. You
can see the flecks of cilantro too! Love the green!
Now, for the best part- assemble and EAT!

 There is nothing better than being able to take your old favorites and make them healthy and Positively Plant-Powered without having to sacrifice an ounce of flavor! 

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Cane Juice Chronicles:Improving Your Fitness Naturally!

Time for a cane juice update!

Bananas + Cane Juice = Heavenly!

Running for me has always been somewhat of a leisure activity. It was simply something that I enjoyed doing, however, I was never actively trying to improve nor was I tracking my progress. Most of my running took place on a treadmill as a warm up before a spin class or when I wanted to take a day off from Bikram.

When I moved from NYC to California, where the weather is simply too beautiful to NOT run outside, I decided I wanted to devote more time to running and work on improving my pace and overall endurance.

This meant figuring out how to properly fuel these runs as most of them (at least initially) would be taking place after my morning Bikram class. I needed to figure out a way to restore my reserves and then some so that I would have enough fuel to power me through the run.

Pre-July, all of my runs were either fueled by watermelon, banana smoothies, or dateorade. And I've had varying success with all three of these:
  •  Watermelon being the least effective because I personally found that despite it's hydrating qualities it would give me melon belly before the run and then I would get very sharp cramps in my left arm/chest and sometimes burning between my shoulder blades.
  •  Banana smoothies (10+ bananas + water) I found to be very effective with minimal cramping because of the high amount of potassium and electrolytes. Though with smoothies as pre-running meals I think you always have to be careful to not drink too much or else you will find yourself feeling like you have a belly full of smoothie which is muy uncomfortable when you're trying to run, especially speed-wise. There were a few times when I made the mistake of drinking too much and I found myself experiencing some reflux. It's important to listen to your body and take those inner cues - you're body will tell you when it has had enough. 
  • And lastly, dateorade -- or as I like to refer to it now, "the poor man's cane juice!" Dateorade I would say is my preferred pre-meal before a run if I can't get cane juice. If you have never heard of or tried this delicious drink I would highly suggest you get on it right away! Datorade is just simply dates + water, blended. Dates in and of themselves are a popular running fuel for plant-based athletes because they are full of efficiently-burning simple sugars (carbs!), minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, and vitamins like vitamin K. They are also a great source of iron! I'm a big fan of dates and I eat them pretty much every day. If you have trouble controlling your "sweet tooth" and by that I mean you consistently crave sugary processed foods like cakes, cookies, candy- try switching to dates as a more nutritious way to satisfy those cravings. You will find that once your carbohydrate quotas have been reached you won't have the desire to reach for sugary or overtly fatty processed foods! With dateorade I have experienced no cramping as long as I am properly hydrated after Bikram, which I think is a given anyway. (With watermelon and banana smoothies, even if I drink water 30 mins before, I still get cramping or the burning sensation.) Dateorade's simple carbs + fibre allow me to re-fuel post-yoga and give me enough long-lasting energy to sustain a hard run. 
 In July I happened to come across the Raw Cane SuperJuice Bar at the Hollywood Farmers Market. They are always giving away samples of all of their delicious blends and even make a variety of cane juice smoothies there as well! I tried some and was hooked! At the time, and mostly because of it's name "cane sugar juice" I felt like it was really nothing more than very tasty sugary water. Ding! Ding! Ding! I remember leaving thinking to myself, "wow, this would be really great for running because it is a juice so my cells would soak up the sugar really fast and it would nice and light on the tum which would allow me to avoid cramping."
After that, I began going on Sunday's to the store to pick up cane juice and I would drink it after Bikram and before my runs.

In the past, my legs always felt heavy during at least the very first mile of my run and it wasn't until after that where I would be able to pick up my pace and find my stride. And I think that is perhaps the most noticeable difference for me between when I drink cane juice before my runs and when I don't. If I drink the cane juice I can go out with a bang and sustain that powerful energy during the whole run and my legs feel strong. Honestly, it feels like I am gliding or even flying. I feel this deep energy from within and I am able to push harder than I normally do, but without as much effort.

As I said before, I was under the impression that it was only the poly-saccharides from the cane juice that were the reason behind the increase in my performance. However, after talking to Rey from Raw Cane SuperJuice Bar and doing a bit of research, I found out some very interesting info about cane juice and why it is so effective for improving athletic performance.

Sugar cane juice is actually a grass and only about 15% sugar despite it's sweet taste! (And still low glycemic; only about a 30-40 whereas refined sugar is around a 60!)  Think wheatgrass or barely grass, but actually palatable and with slightly less chlorophyll.  And as you know, freshly pressed grass juices are some of the most nourishing juices we can consume as they are plentiful in live enzymes, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and even complete chains of amino acids, which allow our bodies to build and convert usable protein. That's right, you heard me, protein!

When I discussed with Rey how I felt my performance had improved and how my body felt overall during a run (and even post-run) she asked me why I thought this might be. And I told her that I always focus on how I can get the most sugar with my pre-workout meals aka glucose that my body will convert and use for energy. And she told me that was correct in that fruit and things like dateorade are rich in poly-saccharides that the body uses as energy, but that cane juice was unique in that it contains a whole host of specific minerals, much like you would find in wheat grass. And that's what makes cane juice so powerful! Not only are you getting the boost in energy from the sugars, but you are also flooding your body with all these minerals etc. that you might not otherwise get with dateorade, bananas, or watermelon.

The key ingredient here is chlorophyll. "Chlorophyll delivers a continuous energy transfusion into our bloodstream, replenishing and increasing red blood cell count. And since hemoglobin carries oxygen to our cells, increasing hemoglobin thereby increases the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen and delivers us increased levels of oxygen..." (More benefits about chlorophyll/)

Increased oxygen = more efficient running.

So, let's take a look at my stats for some good hard evidence. Click the individual photos to zoom.

Break in graph due to hip injury

If you look at my runs pre-July (focusing mostly on June) you can see that I am in the high 8's/9's as far as pace goes and that there is a lack of consistency in my pace overall. If you wish to examine further, you can check out my Runtastic online where it shows my mile splits. From looking over them myself, it seemed that I had a tendency to go out too fast in the beginning because I was trying to gain more power in my legs by pushing hard, I would lag in the middle, and then have to go all out at the end to try to finish within my time goals. If you take notice of the notes I made, many of the non-cane juice runs express my frustration with my legs feeling like lead. I can say for certain, that when I drink cane juice before a work out I do not experience this at all. My legs feel light, and as I mentioned, sometimes it feels like I am just flying!

Now, my runs after beginning to incorporate cane juice into my routine, you can see a steady improvement. Whereas before I am hovering in the high 8's/9's I am slowly making progress and my speed is increasing therefore my pace per mile is moving into the low 8's/ high 7's and for some post-Bikram runs I made sure to document my first mile time. For me, 7:14 for the first mile feeling rather effortless is a HUGE accomplishment.

As far as recovery goes, I think cane juice far surpasses any commercial sports drinks or supplements. I noticed an incredible difference in my recovery time as far as sore muscles and fighting inflammation. Much like wheatgrass, cane juice increases alkalinity in the body which is very important for muscle repair and regeneration. An athlete with an acidic constitution is more prone to injuries. Many supplements and sports protein drinks on the market are extremely acid-forming and actually may decrease performance overall.

According to Brandon Brazier, triathlete and owner of Vega, "Athletes in peak training are the most affected by acidosis...for recovery to be expedited, alkalizing foods, such as those rich in chlorophyll, need to be consumed soon after exercise. Protein must also be consumed to help repair broken down muscle tissue. As with processed energy bars, numerous sport supplements touted as post-workout recovery agents contain highly processed, manufactured proteins usually in the form of denatured isolates, which are acid-forming. Suggestion they be consumed soon after a workout will fulfill the body's need for protein, but completely neglect its need for pH balancing." (Excerpt from The AAA Diet by Paul Fanny Ph.D.)

As discussed earlier, sugar cane juice contains the amino acids, chlorophyll, and sugars necessary to facilitate not only a successful workout, but it's alkalizing effect on the body is a much better choice recovery-wise over your typical energy products.

Overall, I would say incorporating sugar cane juice has been hugely beneficial, not just for my running but, for my overall health. And I believe this experiment just goes to show that animal products, sugary energy drinks, and depleting protein powders are not necessary for improving athletic performance!

There is serious power in adhering to a mainly plant-based diet and incorporating nutrient-rich, delicious, sugar cane juice can only enhance those benefits.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Exotic Eats!

Happy Thursday everyone! Time for a small update!

"Open heart, open mind."

Getting my stretch on before Bikram. I'm on Day #3 of my 100 day Bikram yoga challenge. (I will be talking more about this next week after my Friday update on The Cane Juice Chronicles)

Still drinking cane juice like it's my job. It's been so beneficial for alleviating sore muscles. I can't wait to share my findings with you guys as far as my running goes!

I've also been eating ginormous quantities of jackfruit lately. We've been going up to San Gabriel Valley to hit up 99 Ranch at least once a week and we've been getting 2 15-20 lb. jackfruits at a time...which I polish off all by myself by the end of the week.

Sweet and juicy! So much yum!

If you've never had jackfruit it kind of tastes like pineapple and bubblegum. In fact, it is rumored that Juicy Fruit Gum was supposed to mimic the flavor of this exotic fruit.

I wasn't really into jackfruit like this until recently when I went to a Fruitluck and had the most bombing fresh jackfruit! After that, I was hooked. There is such a clear difference in taste and texture in fresh jack vs. frozen jack. I find frozen jackfruit to be very chewy and almost gummy. It's decent, but if you really want to experience everything this fruit has to offer I would suggest biting the bullet and picking up a fresh one.

It should be soft and fragrant when ripe; I've read that it should smell a bit over-ripe and that's a good sign that you've got a delicious jackfruit on your hands.

Durian! King of fruits!

Also, this happened today. Everyone's favorite stinky fruit, mmmm DURIAN! I, personally, do not find it's smell that offensive, but I know lots of people do. To the extent that in Asian countries where this fruit originated, Thailand, for example- this fruit is banned in hotels, buses, trains, most public venues. Poor Durian, but that's ok because what it lacks in appealing smell it makes up for with the most amazingly creamy, sweet, almond-y vanilla custard!

A lovely treat for a beautiful, sunny Thursday in California!

Enjoy the rest of your Thursday and don't forget to keep it Postively Plant-Powered! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hollywood 10K; The Cane Juice Chronicles

Last week I posted on my Facebook page (Positively Plant-Powered; like, follow, and share if you haven't already!) some very exciting news:

This coming April I will be running the Hollywood 10k and one of my absolute favorite local LA businesses, Raw Cane SuperJuice Bar, will not only be sponsoring me, BUT -- they will also be providing me with sugar cane juice as my fuel for training and race day!

 I feel extremely grateful for this opportunity because let's be real here, me + cane juice = match made in heaveeennn! If you follow my instagram (you must! I post lots of yummy food pics! RawFoodNerd, yes, do it!) I am continually professing my love of this liquid gold elixir and seek it out often. (And you should too, as you will not be sorry - they frequent several farmers markets throughout the week in the LA area.) I am so far from being one of those head in the cosmos 'feel the life-force, mannn'-types, but seriously, when I drink sugar cane juice I can feel it pulsing through my veins; pure energy, simple and sweet! Robby & Rey, owners of Raw Cane SuperJuice Bar, are definitely onto something here!

Cane juice 4 daysss!

While training with cane juice, I intend to document this entire process on the blog so that I can share this experiment with all of you! My intentions are not only to show the amazing benefits that can be achieved athletically while incorporating this super-charged green juice, but to further prove that animal products, crazy energy drinks, and protein powders are not necessary when it comes to training/reaching your fitness goals.

Ever had wheatgrass juice? Didn't really enjoy the taste? Well, sugar cane plus the chlorophyll here is like taking all the amazing properties of wheatgrass juice (minus the unpalatability) and combining them with sugar cane to make an incredibly powerful SUPER juice! 

As I document this process I plan to take a closer look as to why cane juice works so well as training fuel and compare it to my other pre/post training 'meals' (mostly smoothies or organic fruit juices). I want to look at the nutritional profiles of cane juice vs. other sports drinks outside the raw/vegan realm. And furthermore, I intend to put together a little PDF book of my favorite cane juice recipes that I will be able to share with you all!

In order to be completely transparent here, I will be uploading my Runtastic stats onto the blog and you can also find me on Strava (Alysha Maiorelli-Wyrauch).

I leave you will this -- an awesome compilation of sugar cane juice factoids!