Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Michigan Day Two!

Alright, my friends! Here it is!! Day TWO of my Michigan Raw Trip! The festival was only that Saturday, but Dave and I got to spend that Sunday in the wonderful company of Carla and mark!

And what better way to get all pumped and ready for church than...

a green smoothie, of course!

This had to be one of the most fun smoothies to make - getting to dance around the kitchen with Carla as we soaked, chopped, washed, and pitted. And then got a smiling nod from BOTH men! They agreed it was one of the best tasting smoothies they had tried! (Mark and Dave said Carla and I just need to hang out more so we can continue making these lovely creations.)

And what, you may ask, was in this smoothie that our men enjoyed?

We called this our Apple Pie Smoothie

3 honeycrips apples
1 banana
2 plums
1 pear
about 1 cup almonds (that we soaked over night)
1 stick of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
a small piece of fresh ginger
as much fresh kale as we could put in without the guys groaning! (probably about 2-3 cups?)
water as needed

We first blended up the almonds and some water, as that was going to be the toughest part to make into a smooth consistencey. But her heavy duty blender had no fear! And we soon added the remaining ingredients to our breakfast drink.

Almonds are a common nut used to make crusts of raw pies, so mixing that with the apples and spices turned this into a holiday decadence! (Though it's not quite holiday season... so I imagine this baby will be making a comeback over the next few months!)

We poured the lovely smoothie into travel mugs and bolted for church. And what a beautiful place that was! Sadly, it didn't cross my mind to take my camera into the church, so I have no photos. But it was so bright and cheery, and Carla sang with the choir, making it just such a meaningful day!

Afterwards, we wanted to grab some lunch... and of course, by this time - after more than 24 hours of NOTHING BUT RAW - poor Dave was caving! My man wanted MEAT!

Dave enjoying his big ol' grease burger!
And the waiter was so flexible for us! I wish I remembered his name and could send out a giant THANK YOU to him!! I wanted to try to stick to the raw deal, as I was feeling amazingly energetic! So, looking through the recipe, there weren't too many options other than salads. So, how to spice up a salad? Just ask!

I asked him if I got the "Chicken Salad" without the chicken, could they instead add some extra vegetables to it? He said, "Sure! We have zucchini, beats, cucumbers... what would you like?"

To which I simply responded with an emphatic, "umm... YES!"

He got the idea, and in came my salad loaded with extra veggies!

I just drizzled it with a little of the honey-mushroom sauce which would have been topping the chicken. (Ok, that may not have been raw, but I didn't use much!)

We finished our meal with good food, good chats, and headed to the Apple Cider Press of the area! Ahhh, fresh apple cider... there's nothing like it!

You can see the two men standing at the apple shoot here. Somewhere else, apples are loaded into a blender of sorts, and the apple bits come tumbling down the shoot onto these cloth-covered trays. Tray after tray is stacked, then a huge machine compresses them all, squeezing out all that lucious juice! Sad to say, I asked what happened with all the left over pulp, and they said it just gets pitched. How sad!! Apparently they used to try to compost it, or do some other things with it, and it just wasn't working for them. So it became easier to trash it. (Hmmm.... perhaps there's an opportunity for some Michigan resident to get free apple pulp.....)

The juice then runs through tubes to various dispensing machines, and right there, they'll fill a half gallon jug for you to take! It doesn't get much fresher!

So we bought a half gallon, and (*gasp*) just HAD to try the fresh cinnamon-batter donuts that they sold, to go with the cider. Oh, so worth it! Soft, warm, and spicey - perfect pair for the cider!

As we enjoyed our treat, we wandered through the isles of fresh apples - so many types! It was amazing!

Dave picking out a bag of apples for us to take home
You better believe some of those apples went into a smoothie that next week! In fact, my dad had come to visit, and so I thought that the Apple Pie Smoothie had been such a hit in Michigan, that he just may like it! And he did! He had his entire 12 ounce glass! Go dad!!

And so ended our trip. It was getting on towards evening, and so it was time for us to buckle up and make the drive south to home.

What a wonderful time, wonderful memories, and new friends! Again, I cannot thank Carla and Mark enough for their loving hospitality! What beautiful people!

Have a great week, everyone :) See you back here with more doses of natural goodness soon!


***EDIT: Thanks, Carla!!  She's got the better memory ;-)  The restaurant was Hogans.  Yum yum doodle dum!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cancer Risks

Hi guys!  I do want to share more about the amazing time I had in Michigan, but while I'm dealing with getting photos organized for that, I thought I'd toss out this gem: "Cancer risk can be cut with good habits such as exercise and healthful eating."

Big news, eh?

Ok, most of us probably knew that!  We are what we eat, and what we put in to our bodies can play a huge role in our health!

But this article breaks down some specifics that I thought were interesting!  So here is a summary of some of the causes of cancer that you DO Have some control over!  (More in the article, these were just the food/activity ones!)

Obesity and physical inactivity - can compound to cause cancer of the colon, uterus, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, gallbladder, breast, and colon.  And often obesity is more a symptom of lifestyle choices - so choose activity; choose fresh; choose natural and you'll see some of that turning around!

Drinking in Excess - risk areas include mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, and liver.  May even play a role in breast cancer.  Ideally, cut out all alcohol - as it taxes your liver to metabolize it!

Sugary drinks - all you pop lovers out there!!!  Drinking 2 or more cans PER WEEK has been linked to increased risk of pancreatic cancer in one study - so more research is needed.  But, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, so why play guinea pig?!  Time to cut back on the cola!
Skip the alcohol and soda, and go for one of these! ;-)
Your liver, pancreas, skin, and everything will thank you!
(Except, maybe, your tongue will not thank you, if you're not used to the dark greens!)

Pesticides - links to various forms of cancer. 

Studies have shown high levels of pesticides can be associated with cancers of the blood and lymph systems, lip, stomach, brain, prostate, and skin.  Yikes!  Now, these studies were done on very high exposure - such as big production farmers, crop dusters, etc... but that just goes to show how dangerous those pesticides and chemicals can be!  Stick with organic as possible, especially that Dirty Dozen!

Red and processed meat - linked with colon cancer.

Processed meats can include luncheon meats, hot dogs, Bologna... avoid those meats!  They tend to be loaded with salt, and also include nitrates and nitrites that are still being researched as potential carcinogens.

Red meat is a big controversy - while many studies will agree that free-range, grass-fed red meat tends to have more nutrition, studies don't tend to separate out healthy-raised meats from factory-farmed meat when it comes to cancer risk.  So, some people would say healthy-raised meats are fine.  But for now, you may want to limit red meat anyways - or eliminate all together.  There are plenty of other sources of protein, iron, etc, if you choose to abstain.

And, I had to add this because I think it's important - even though it's not a food item:
Cellphones - linked to cancers in the face, neck, and brain.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer suggests cellphone use of over 30 minutes per day can increase the risk of benign brain tumors.  Benign or not, that's a scary mutation!  So get a headset!! (And not a wire-less one, that still has to send waves to the ear piece glued to your head!)  Go for a wired headset - you may feel silly walking around with a boom microphone near your mouth, but better that than cancer, I say!  I got a little one that cost about $1.99 + shipping from Amazon.  A few bucks to decrease potential brain frazzles?  Yes, please!

And if we all get in on it, we can start a new fashion trend.  Who's with me! :)  I'd love to see photos! ;-)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Michigan's Raw EcoFest!

Hello, hello, my health-conscious friends!

Over the weekend, I did something out of my norm, and out of my comfort zone: drove 5 hours north to Michigan, to join our friends Mark and Carla in attending a Raw Food EcoFest! And boy am I glad I did! It was such a delight to expand my horizons, hear what other people do for health, hear stories about people changing their lives through diet, and finding many more topics for me to research! (Always the student!)

So I wanted to share a little about what I saw and did that day with Dave! (The poor man! At first, he thought he may opt to just hang out for the day at the hotel while I went all by my lonesome! But he decided to let me drag him along, and actually said he liked a lot of it!)

First, we stopped at Adya Water, where we met Matt, who shared his theories on how mineralizing water makes it cleaner, makes nutrients more readily absorbed, and makes your body healthier and less prone to disease and other maladies. He even gave us a "super shot" of his treated water, and Dave said he noticed a tingling on the back of his tongue - presumably as the water was killing off some bacteria!

Then we got to wander through the various tents selling all sorts of fun products - we saw all sorts of fun things!! Aromatherapy and natural lotions, Fair Trade crafts, Worm composts, mushroom-growing kits, solar energy information, raw foods to try... and here's a picture of my man actually getting interested in some of these things! He's checking out a spiral slicer - same idea as the one I already have (and have posted about) but I guess it makes the noodles even thinner! More like angel-hair pasta than the spaghetti-size mine makes.

Checking out fun kitchen tools!
Then we thought about food... They had several vendors lined up where various raw foods were sold for lunch! They had "natso" meats and "raw-tacos", raw pumpkin pie and carrot cake, many different wraps and sandwiches that used various green leafies as wraps, juices and smoothies, and more! Dave thought about it.... aaaand decided he wasn't that hungry ;-) Then he kept asking if I thought we'd be able to find an Oktoberfest-style brat-and-kraut vendor somewhere close! No such luck, my dear!
Row of Raw!
So we instead made our way to the main tent where some little mini-lectures were going on. We listened in on a woman talking about how she views samples of a person's blood, and can get a general read on what may be making them less healthy than they would like. She was offering testing at the festival, but we passed on that.

Finally, I decided I was hungry and I wanted to try some new foods! So as we walked down the row of food, the "raw taco" just sounded interesting to me! I picked one up, and asked Dave what he wanted. He gave a slight curl of the lip and said he'd pass on it all. Alright! Not to let his spirit dampen me, I bought my taco and salsa, and we headed to a table!

The taco was SO GOOD! They used processed soaked walnuts to emulate the meat, and then had it all seasoned up with organic taco seasonings (chili pepper, cumin, coriander... who knows what else!) and then had a bell pepper and avocado spread on it, and a yummy salsa on the side! Then they used a big ol' collard leaf to wrap it all up! Yum, yum, and YUM! I was shocked!

Walnuts, spice, onions, oh my!

As I nibbled... Dave got curious. "Welll, ok, maybe one bite. I'm kind of hungry..."

The next thing I know, I'm heading back to the food line to buy a second, because Dave wouldn't give it back!

Defending his food with a growl!
Just as we were finishing our meal, it started to rain and the temperature dropped! Brrr!! We were getting ready to walk back to the car for extra layers and umbrellas, when I was drawn in by a bizarre site... people looking like baked potatoes! And I just had to check it out!

Far InfraRed Saunas: the claim is that they help stimulate circulation, boost metabolism, relieve pain, help bolster your body's natural detox process, and many other things. Pretty big claims for me to study further, but what I DO know is that it was super warm and toasty!

Getting myself zipped into my space pod!
Phil was the man selling these contraptions. It was a clever trick, I'll admit! Offer a free 10 minute personal sauna system, and you're trapped in there while he give you the sales pitch!!

But it was SOOO worth it! I actually had a lot of fun chatting with Phil, and the girl zipped in the pod next to me. So we just kept talking, and Phil kept cranking my timer. My ten minute session turned into over a half an hour!! I was so warm and toasty by the end, that I was ready to get back out and face the cold :)

Peace, Love, and Smoothies!
And then finally we got a call from our friends Carla and Mark, and there they were!!!  With chairs for us!  YAY!!!!

So all four of us went back over to the main tent where they were giving away raffle prizes. I guess life was smiling on us! Of the 10 tickets we purchased, 3 were winners!! So we got a free DVD from Matt and Angela Monarch (two people respected within the Raw community), a big bottle of some "super food" supplement (yet another thing for me to research!) and a one-day workshop with Joyce Oliveto, one of the chefs there! Woo!! So I guess we'll be making a trip back to Michigan in the future for the class!

Dave bringing back the first raffle win!
Then Matt and Angela got up and gave their story, talked of the dangers of processed starches and refined sugars, and talked about the benefits of (uhh...) colon cleansing! Eep! I keep hearing about that stuff, but I am not ready to commit to someone poking around my bum voluntarily!
Matt Monarch and his wife, Angela Stokes-Monarch
Our next stop was a dehydrator demo with Joyce, where we got to sample "natso cheese" crackers (no dairy! Just seasonings and such made these little guys taste like Cheez-Itz!) I will definitely want to give them a try some time! Then she gave us facon-bacon - made from seasoned egg plant! I was shocked again! It didn't quite taste like bacon to me, but it was still interesting and I never would have guessed I was eating eggplant!!

Carla passing out samples. Such a sweet giving soul!!
And then around 7:00pm, things began winding down. They had planned to do a bonfire, but for some reason, they cancelled. Sad :(

But on the up-side, the mostly-local produce stand was trying to get rid of a lot of it's left overs! Woot!!

Dave and I went over, and I realized, "wow! This is pretty much all the stuff I'd get from Kroger - Romaine, red-leaf lettuce, lemons, limes, apples, avocado, onions... and more fun stuff like plums and leeks!" Well, why not just do my shopping now, when it's mostly local and cheaper?! I asked Tony, the guy running the booth, if he had a few bags because I was ready to load up! He shook his head and said, "But I have a big box!" I'll take it!

So Dave and I started to load up. I tried to remain somewhat conservative - organics can be pricey, and I didn't want to embarrass myself by picking out more than I could afford, then having to put items back once he gave me the price... so I did just a handful of things. As we were loading up the box, he kept saying, "you sure you don't want this? Or how about more of that?" Dave and I laughed, asking if he was desperate to get rid of stuff. Apparently, a lot of the stuff was still good, but not necessarily good enough that it would be sellable for long enough - that it was easier for him to sell it now, than to risk it going bad too quickly and not selling at all. So, yes, some of it did have to go within the next few days!

I looked in my box, and asked how much he wanted. He said $10. Rifling through my wallet, I pulled out a $20. "All I have is this," I said, expecting change. He decided to do a $20 box, I guess! He said, "just start loading things in! The full box for $20!" More unexpected blessings raining down on us!

I felt bad about taking advantage of that, so just slowly added a few more things. So he came over and started loading me up himself! I don't even know all that ended up in there! But I know there were 2 heads of romaine, 2 heads of lettuce, a giant sweet onion, 2 sweet potatoes, about 5 lemons, maybe a dozen limes, 5 or more plums, 3 pears, 3 leeks, 2 kiwi, a tub of green and red grapes, a head of broccoli, a head of cauliflower, a bundle of celery... and I can't remember what else! But half of it is at home, cozy in my fridge, ready to be eaten and help fight for my health! ;-) The other half made its home with Carla and Mark, who housed us the second night, as part of our thanks to them!

So many thanks to Tony of the Simply Fresh Market
for the treasure trove of produce!! It will all go to good use! :)
And after all that, we drove to our friends' place for a good night's sleep! The next day held its own fun!

So that's Day One of my Michigan trip! So many new things to read about: raw taco recipes, mineralizing waters, Biomats, sprouting, FIR Saunas... and dare I look into the ghastly topic of colon cleansing?!!? All in good time, I suppose!

Have a lovely week, and hopefully I'll see you back here soon for apple-pie green smoothies, restaurant raw style, and fresh pressed cider from Day Two!

Happy Honeydew Hugs!
You can see the peaceful pond behind me.  And that pile of rocks?
That's where the bonfire SHOULD have been!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rainy Running and Healthy Visits

I usually go visit my family about once per month, and Saturday inevitably involves pizza and junk foods... So, last time I tried to plan ahead more! First, make sure to enjoy a good run, second make sure to enjoy some good food before the pizza cravings set it, and then have a big kale salad on hand to keep me busy during pizza!

So, of course about 15 minutes after I started my run - when I'm too far away to easily get back home - the downpour starts! My first reactions was "oh no!" But as I ran, I began wondering why we have such a fear of being wet! It kept me cool as I worked hard, and it was revitalizing!

(The only down side was when my ear bud got wet and stopped working... but after it dried, all better!)

Running Rain or Shine!
But after I finished (getting odd looks from people the whole way) I came home, got my hot shower, and watched the sun come back out. Of course. So, to help keep the pizza-cravings at bay, I made up a big salad full of healthy, beautifying foods!

So simple! Cucumber and radish with juice of a half lemon, and a sprinkling of hemp seeds. Hydrating, skin loving, and omega rich! Booyaka!

So, I went outside to enjoy some quiet time with my salad, and the beautiful post-rain glow!

Hope you've all had a wonderful week! Keep those veggies rolling!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Raw Sister!

Happy weekend!!!

My dear sister came to visit for a day, and we agreed to go all raw for our meal! Salads are a wonderful healthy way to bulk up any meal: nutrient-packed antioxidant leafy green explosion! Yes!

But what would a meal be with just a salad?

So we decided to have some fun experimenting in the kitchen! We pulled out my Ani Phyo raw recipe book, and decided to try a Brazil-nut portabello bisque soup! Soup and salad. Quite the classic!

The soup turned out to be okay - I guess I'm not a huge mushroom fan ;-) But the base was a yummy Brazil-garlic blend, which was oddly hearty! So, we figured out a few ways we would tweak in for the future, then enjoyed what we had for the day!

Love my sister! <3

And what is a meal without dessert?? So we finished off our visit with a good ol' heaping bowl of banana-whipped ice "kreme." Frozen bananas and mixed berries processed into soft-serve goodness! Yumm!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, too! Share some fun and food with family, and keep that motivation rolling!

Dave says we look far too happy for salads.... ;-)

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Laugh About Labels

Welcome to the long weekend, oh ye laborers! Happy Labor Day Weekend!!

While I imagine most of us will chuck the diet out the window to some degree, I figured some lecture on healthy eating may just cause undo stress or guilt -- and that's not healthy either!! So if you indulge, by golly, you better enjoy it! ;-) Love it, embrace it, and hopefully you don't go too overboard! (Maybe start your mornings with green smoothies so you can at least have that safely under your belt before it gets too tight!)

I thought today it'd be fun to just post this great little clip about serving sizes on food labels. (But what does a food label mean? That you're buying a food item with a PACKAGE! Not fresh!! So just double check that you're keeping all that in moderation!)

This is a comedian Dave and I ran across by random chance one night, and I was just tickled that there was some fun food chuckles to be had (and CLEAN humor! That seems such a rarity in stand-up)

And hey! Laughter is an important part of a healthy, dynamic life! Good for the body, good for the soul.

So, without further ado, Brian Regan, ladies and gentlemen!