Improvise!


Sometimes I look in my fridge and try to figure out what to make based on what I have hanging about.  Today was no different.

I held the young coconut in my hand and said “OK, you are dinner.  What next….”

I googled ‘young coconut’ and ‘coconut noodle’ and other things, but always found I didn’t have some key ingredients for the recipes I found.  So today was ‘improvise’ day!

Sometimes “Improvise Day” turns out well, and other times I realize I shouldn’t quit my day job (which has more to do with computers than with food preparation).

Today was a good day.

I pulled the water and meat out of the young coconut, rinsed the meat, and cut into thin noodles.  Next, I shredded a carrot, and julienned about 1/4 of an orange sweet pepper.  After that, I meandered into the garden and brought in 5 large kale leaves, washed them and set them aside.

Next I scratched my head over the dressing.  Hmmmmm…….

Here was my base and, as you can tell by the measurements, this was also improvised:

Into the blender went…..

1/4 cup of the water from the coconut (the rest will go in my smoothie tomorrow morning! Yum!)

I had a dried red chili from last summer – I emptied it of seeds and threw it in

A handful of raw peanuts – probably about 1/4 cup

1 Tablespoon of coconut sugar (or whatever you prefer to use)

a clove of garlic

a little sea salt

1 Tblsp Miso

1 Tblsp Tamari

1 tsp of turmeric

1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

about 1/4 inch piece of ginger

about 1 Tblsp coconut oil

I blended this up, gave it a taste, decided it wasn’t sweet enough, so added maybe 2 tablespoons of agave, which mellowed it out nicely.

Next, I put the kale (leafy greens only, no stems), coconut noodles, carrots, and orange pepper into the food processor and pulsed a few times until the kale was minced and the mixture resembled a larger chunked tabouli.

Like this…

Pulsed kale, coconut, carrot and sweet orange pepper.

Pulsed kale, coconut, carrot and sweet orange pepper.

Then I stirred in enough dressing to lightly coat and ate dinner!

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Healthy, filling, and convenient, with ingredients I had on hand, or growing in the back yard.  The flavour would be complemented by orange sections (if you don’t have a young coconut laying about) and also, after a couple of bites, realize it would also be delicious with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.  I had enough left over to refrigerate a second helping, so we’ll see how well this keeps for a day.

Happy health to you all!

 

 

I’m an “I hate routine” person in an “I need routine” world…


Consistency is not my forte.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I may stick the ‘really important stuff’ out (like child rearing because, you know, not ruining a human being is a 10 on the Super Important Stuff scale) but for other things where life is not hanging in the balance, I tend to bat things around like a kitten with a ball of wool until the next ball of wool rolls by, then I go after that…and I really LIKE living this way.  I never get bored…well…not for very long, at least.

I stated in one of my previous posts “One last point before I sign off:  I plan.  I’m good at planning.  I plan meals, exercise, get things ready the night before.  I’m good at it.  But HOLY CRAP I get sick of it and, usually by Thursday, I stop executing and just let it all go to hell.”

This this is the theme of this post:  ideas on how to keep on executing when you come to a point in your week\day\hour\month  when you could really not care less.  Maybe even become resentful….and rip your plans off the wall…and shred them, sobbing  I’m an “I hate routine” person in an “I need routine” world…”

I think, at the end of the day, I’m trying to find “right ways” that “Fit” for me.  And I kind of think there are a lot of “me”s out there or, at least “You”s who can relate to some of the things I know about Me.

I don’t like routine, I’m not a morning person,  water was something I bathed in and loved dearly but wasn’t much for routine drinking, and I get bored and tired with doing the same thing all week – even if I mix it up even just a little.  I’m not a ‘joiner’ so don’t usually go in for races or clubs or classes that other people find motivating.  But I still need to be healthy, fit, motivated, and hydrated just like everyone else.  It can feel like a real  struggle at times.   OK, it can feel like a real struggle most of the time.  So here are some of my coping skills.  Perhaps you can leverage some of this information for those days that a new ball of wool rolls by and distracts you from the ball of wool that is meant to keep you healthy, hydrated, and motivated!  (Darn those random, intriguing, derailing balls of wool.  Darn them all to heck.)

Tool Number One:  Stop Believing in Magic Wands or that Bad Karma MUST be biting you in the butt or that there’s an unseen army of evil gremlins dragging your resolve into the pits of hell.  You will not likely EVER develop a new habit overnight. You  just slipped up FFS, no cosmic interference required.  And you’re going to slip up a lot more.  Get comfortable with it.

If eating healthy, exercising, or whatever ‘good for you’ thing that you’re working on making routine is important enough to you LET YOURSELF GET SICK OF IT….but don’t give up on it completely.  

Getting sick of the work it takes to integrate something new is normal.  Don’t bother fighting it.  Don’t chastise yourself, negative talk your way back into it, or paint anything negative on it at all.  Just accept that you blew it that hour, that day of the week, every third day of every week, that month, etc. pick up, dust off, and get back to it.

I have been working on integrating more raw food into my daily diet since 2012 (and I have the blog archives to prove it) and I still fall off the wagon.  But my time off the wagon is so much shorter than it was, and getting back on that wagon is so much easier.  I just never gave up.  I USED to get red faced when in one moment I would tell someone that I eat primarily raw food, and then have them catch me 2 days later scarfing back a burger (with bacon AND cheese).  Now I can say “I am human! I am not perfect! Mind your own darn lunch, you busybody!” :)  and sincerely not feel an ounce of shame because a) It’s true, I’m human and b) I know I’ll get back to my pristine diet the very next day and the faith I have in myself on this subject is all that really matters.

Tool Number Two:  If you suck at planning (of setting that goal, identifying where it needs to fit into your each and every day, etc) you are not a failure.  It’s just not your skill.  FIND the templates you need to PLAN (interweb – it’s awesome: meal planners, workout planners, morning/evening schedules, menu\recipe\grocery shopping planners, etc), and then follow them until SQUIRREL!

When SQUIRREL! happens – make note of it. (And for those of you who don’t actually know what the SQUIRREL reference is – it is that thing that pulls your focus away, quickly, completely, in the moment.  Like a dog who obeys your every command until that squirrel runs by…and then, to the dog, you cease to exist.)  But make note of it because there may be patterns and then you can start to mitigate those pitfalls.  My planning helped me to see that I fell off my wagon every Thursday.  The “WHY” almost didn’t seem important: bored, tired, lazy, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, yadda, yadda, yadda: I can’t solve all the challenges of my personality here….I only need to solve “Stop falling off the wagon on Thursdays!”  So I prepped food for Thursdays the same day I prepped food for Wednesdays.  I took it on Thursday and ate it! Wow!  I just had to show my stupid-stitous brain (the one that thinks I might be fundamentally broken…nahhhhh…..I’m awesome…the stupid-stitious brain is the one that believes the unseen Gremlins are dragging my resolve into the pits of hell and that there’s nothing I can do about it) that ‘the problem is solved, no magic required, it’s that easy’.   It became less and less of a problem.

But I may not have been able to pinpoint my Thursday issue (and my Monday morning issue, and my Sunday night issue, and my rainy day issue, and my hot day issue, and…) without making a weekly plan, following it until I stopped following it, and keeping track of that – even for just a couple of months (the tracking part….the planning part is “forever”).

Tool Number Three:  If consistency really is a big problem for you like it is for me, then do yourself a favour – only set ‘time frames’ for your goals if you are 100% positive that you will meet them.  I have stopped setting time-based goals for the things that are really important to me (80% raw all the time, exercise daily, lose some weight (how much of it is my business, tyvm :) )).  I do this because it is these things that are The Goal(s) and when I set time-frames, the time-frame becomes The Goal, and then The Goal gets sabotaged by my challenges with consistency.  Talk about setting yourself up to feel like a failure, or a loser, or hopeless.  And talk about horrible ways to feel about your awesome self!  Cut that out!

So I have The Goal(s) and I keep working away at them – doing the things (some big, some small) every day that lets me put a Happy Face on my daily plan (yes, literally – the most negative I get is when I put a sad face….but it’s sad because I know I’m missing out, not because I failed) and then, over time, I see more happy faces in that week than I had in previous weeks.  I just keep chugging along and eventually my successes reveal themselves to me and then I CELEBRATE THEM (because, whoa, I completely earned them)!

The only time-based goals I set are in the moment:  “I’m going to walk 8K in 1 hour and 15 minutes, which will be 5 minutes better than last time.”  Or “this week, I’m going to get one more workout in than usual”. Or “by the end of the month, I’m going to have 20 Happy Faces on my month’s weekly plans.”

I know a lot of people set time-based goals and succeed.  A friend set a weight loss goal to fit into a wedding dress in 9 months, and she did it through exercise and healthy eating.  Damned rights I was both jealous and impressed, because that looks like magic to me and I wonder why she was born with a wizard’s wand up her butt and I wasn’t.  Although I’ve been raised to think I should be able to do this – I’ve now come to terms with the fact that I can’t/won’t/don’t really want to under certain circumstances and have found a different path to my successes that works WITH my nature, not against it.  I’m better off saying “I’m going to exercise and eat healthy and I’m going to look as good as I look by the time the wedding rolls around” because, for me, if  “X weight by the wedding” is The Goal, I should just decide to fail on day 1 and get it over with rather than suffer through months of feeling horrible about myself because I’m not the kind of person who will magically have better consistency and motivation and focus because of a goal like that.

So there we go.  If you’re in the “SQUIRREL!” club, or the kitten with the ball of wool club, or the ‘I get bored easy’ club, rest assured that you are not alone.  And also rest assured that this does not mean you will never have success with your health and fitness goals, you just have to go about them in a different way than others.  Hope I’ve helped.  Good luck!

Post-Script:  And I don’t fall for the “The best way to reach your goal in 6 months is to set a series of mini-goals between now and then because that far away goal may seem too unobtainable” soul crushing philosophy either.  For some people it works, yes.  For people like me, it’s just a bunch of mini-opportunities to feel like crap over getting bored/sick of/distracted while working up to that final “what a gong show, I totally blew it!” goal 6 months later.  Oh joy!

Gimme a “P”, Gimme an “R”, Gimme an “OTIEN”…uh “OTEIN”…


Goooooo PROTEIN!! (shakes pom poms)….

As you may know, I’m here to advocate for the inclusion of more raw food into our everyday lives.  In doing so, however, I haven’t attempted to force feed vegetarianism or veganism to you as I understand we make personal choices with regards to what we eat and it isn’t my place to make you feel bad for them.

HOWEVER :)

One of the things I hear most of all when it comes to giving up meat, or giving up ‘as much meat‘ as North Americans eat on a regular basis, is: I can’t give up meat, I would never get enough protein.  I’m pretty sure I’ve said this too, but it led me to wonder….

Hmmmm, how much protein do I actually need every day?

So I went and found this useful equation:

(Original Source  http://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/how_much_protein_do_we_need_2.php)

You need to know your weight in kilograms, so (if you’re like me) you have to first convert your weight from pounds.

Your weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = your weight in kilograms.

Then take your weight in kilograms x .8 to 1.8 = the average grams of protein you need in a day.

So let’s pretend I weigh 100 pounds / 2.2 = 45.45Kg

45.45Kg x 1.5 =  68ish.  I’d be looking at 68 grams of protein per day.

Keep in mind that this calculation provides you with an average.  You will want to increase your protein intake if you are working out regularly (getting your heart rate up for a minimum 20 minutes 5 times a week) or more, recovering from illness, or are pregnant.  I haven’t yet encountered a scenario where you may want to decrease the amount of protein – but this would be a discussion that you need to have with your doctor, your nutritionist, or trainer.

Now that you know how much protein you should be eating in a day, you can start to identify how much you actually consume in order to give some weight to your claim that you can’t get enough without meat, or to dispel it…. (I’m betting you can guess which way I’m leaning with those choices….)

In addition to the Nutritional Information provided on the majority of products you buy in the store today, here are some handy reference tools for you to help you figure this out so you will be armed with the knowledge you need to integrate more raw food into your everyday life, but know you’re getting enough protein.

High Protein Raw Foods:

There are plenty of infographics on the web that will give you handy visual representations of High Protein foods, and if you remove the meat, dairy, eggs, and some grains from those illustrations, what is left is (obviously) are the natural foods you can eat raw.  Don’t forget that some of the grains can be soaked until sprouting, and will then be soft enough to eat raw.  They will be a different texture than what you’d be accustomed to if you had cooked them, but if you look for recipes that use them, they become palatable and will be better for you.

Here’s another good list: http://www.rawguru.com/toptenprotein.html

I won’t provide yet a new list for you to scan through, I’ll just provide some basic examples but will also give you the tools to figure out in an on-going way how much protein you’re getting in the foods you eat.

1 cup Kale has 2.9g of protein

1 cup Spinach has .9g protein

1 cup almonds has 30g protein

2 Tblsp Chia seed has 4.7g protein

1 medium banana has 1.3g protein

I got you all that info in 30 seconds.  How?  Google! So easy!  Search “Protein in almonds” and you get a nifty little table at the top of the page that lets you select the product, the measurement, and lets you change the product so you can get more information.  This is handy for single ingredients, but what if you have a recipe?  We’ll get to that in a second.

The primary thing I need to point out will settle your incredulity over how low the leafy greens can be where protein is concerned.  At the very thought of having to eat 22 cups of Kale in a day just to get enough protein (yes, I know you’d be eating other things that day too, this is just an extreme example) you’re ready to stop reading.  But now you will come to understand the value of the “Smoothie\Shake” and why so many vegetarians and\or plant based athletes swear by them: it’s because you can throw in up to (average) 17g of protein into one Shake and drink all your protein.  No cud-chewing-cow impersonations required.

Recipes and Smoothies:

I use two resources to determine the nutritional value of the recipes I’m making.  I’m going to start with “My Fitness Pal” (MFP) because I haven’t found an ingredient yet that they don’t have information for.  The primary purpose of MFP is to track calorie consumption, and it also breaks down what you’ve eaten in carbs, fat, and protein when you log your food.  MFP can be used online or in an app, but adding your recipes can only be done online.  In their “Recipe” section, you can either paste a link to a recipe you found online and then spend a little time to match the ingredients to get the caloric and nutritional information, or you can type in your own ingredients to match and get the same information. For both methods, you can save the recipe so you never have to enter it again.  Starting up with MFP can be a little labor intensive but as you build your lists of “Recent Foods”,  “Frequent Foods”, and  “Recipes” (the first two, the application automatically does for you) using the application gets faster and easier. Once you’ve entered your recipe in the website, you can access it through the application on your phone or tablet.  One final benefit of MFP is that, because so many people use it, you can usually locate products by name because other members have entered the information.  I even once found the burger made by the cafeteria in the very building that I work in. Saved me time.

My Fitness Pal home pagehttp://www.myfitnesspal.com/

The only shortcomings of MFP I’ve found are that sometimes other members have entered the incorrect caloric information for a product I was searching for.  My rule of thumb when this happens is:  If I’m in the mood to lie to myself, pick the product entry with the lowest caloric value.  If I’m in the mood to be honest and have good personal statistics to properly track my health goals, pick the one that looks most reasonable and realistic, or enter it myself.

The second drawback is that I’ve found their macros to be a bit off.  They provide them based on just a few statistics and, if you aren’t going to enter the calories you burn through exercise, the information isn’t going to be hugely useful for you (depending on your goals).  If you’re going to use MFP to track your ratios for daily carbs, protein, and fat, you may want to go into your account on the website and manually change them to lower the daily fat, and even out the carbs and protein (but this will depend on your physical activity, special needs, etc.), especially if you don’t want to bother inputting your burned calories.  I’m going to assume that, if you’re using MFP to track these ratios, that you have some idea of what they should be.

The final drawback is that it gives you the nutritional values for solid foods.  This is great for recipes, and even for smoothies, but not if you’re juicing your fruits and veggies.  This is where one of my next favourite resources come in.

The site “Juice Recipes for Your Health” has a wonderful little calculator where you enter the ingredients that you’ve just grabbed out of your fridge and tossed into your blender/juicer and it will provide you with BOTH the juiced nutritional value and the Smoothie nutritional value.  That’s awesome :)

The link to their Juice Builder page (the calculator) is: http://juicerecipes.com/build/

This page, however, currently only contains the information for ingredients that they use in their juicing recipes.  I’m sure this list is probably quite impressive, but you may encounter an ingredient that you can’t get the nutritional information for….like I did. I was looking for ‘wheatgrass’ and it’s not in their library.  When I contacted them about this, a real live human responded (which was cool) who let me know that they don’t use wheat grass in their recipes because they didn’t find it contained enough nutritional value to bother.  I may not agree, but I found their personal approach and explanation to be worthy of respect, as well as the obvious emotional investment the person has in the quality of the data they provide.  I wasn’t communicating with someone at a Help Desk, I was communicating with an owner of the information.  I can appreciate the hard work and dedication.

I must confess that I haven’t subscribed to an account for the Juice Recipes site (yet) so I cannot tell you whether or not they allow you to “Save” juice recipes that you have ‘built’.

So there you go.  You walk away from here today with the ability to determine how much protein you actually need daily, and the ability to figure out how much you’re getting from what you eat.  Isn’t that amazing!  You may not actually need a beef steak, or 8g of chicken, or burgers, etc. every day and have plenty of room on your plate and in your blender for vegetarian sources of protein without your health and wellbeing suffering.  Congratulations!  You’re one step closer to removing that “I can’t give up meat, I’d never get enough protein” myth from your belief system! You rock! :)

 

 

 

Reader Question…


Eating raw sounds time consuming. I like to eat healthy, so what’s the most basic change I can make in my diet that won’t take over my life?”

Excellent question!  Excellent enough to deserve a post rather than a simple reply!

Hi there,

I would counter that eating raw is not any more time consuming than eating any other way with the only exception being those recipes that are prepared in a dehydrator. However, if someone is not used to the kind of preparation that is required, then it may be more time consuming simply because of the learning curve.

However, there are a number of basic changes that someone could make to integrate more raw food into a diet (and I do assume this will make a diet healthier :) )….

One of the very first things I did, and I recommend this for anyone looking to make some dietary changes, is to go through your fridge, freezer, and cupboards, and throw out all the crap. Anything with refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup products (I think Satan owns the patent on that product), white refined everything, most deli meats, drink mixes, throw it allllll out and swear that you will never buy it again.  There.  You’ve already made a HUGE change.  For some people, that’s big enough for a whole year – move on to raw next year :)

But if you like jumping in with two feet, and if you’re not doing it already, continue with these:

  1. Assess your own habits: For example –  if you frequently look for something ‘quick’ – then keep quick raw food handy and decide to eat it. Holy easy.
  2. Assess the recipes you make and replace ingredients that may be processed (pasteurized, cooked, preserved, for example) with raw ones, such as raw honey, cold pressed olive oil, replace prepared salad dressings with fresh homemade ones, replace jarred peanut butter with natural peanut butter, tamari instead of prepared soya sauce, puree raw tomatoes for a spaghetti sauce base, or make veggie noodles instead of pasta noodles one evening. I read somewhere that the average dinner plate should be 6oz meat, 1 cup starch, 2 cup veggie. I DISAGREE.  If you’re eating meat, I believe the better portions are 4oz meat, 3 cup veg, and you don’t need a starch (carbs) in the evenings (unless you plan to burn it off), you need it in the mornings.  So set a goal: 3 times a week, make that 75% veggie on your plate raw.  YES!  You’ll get sick of carrot sticks really, really fast….but if you’re serious about your goal, you’ll start to experiment, and that’s where this blog comes in :)  It’s a matter of being mindful of how you use food today and slowly making changes that suit you and that you’re ready for.
  3. And following on to that last point, make changes at your own pace: A lot of families are now having ‘Meatless Monday’ and are using the opportunity to explore new ways to prepare a vegetarian meal. Take it a step further and make it a raw one. One day a week to experiment gets us comfortable with using new ingredients and meal-prep techniques.
  4. Finally, even if it’s just a couple times a week, change the way you view a meal. We prepare things that satisfy not only our body’s appetites, but emotional needs as well. “What are you in the mood for…” often dictates our fulfilling a need that goes beyond simple hunger. What we’re really asking is “What will make us happy?” when trying to satisfy a mood.   Start to consciously think of a meal as fuel for your body first, more than anything, then eventually you start to view your food as a nutrient, something that should be of a certain quality, to do what it is supposed to do. Of course meals will never cease to have some emotional connection for us: togetherness, socializing, decompressing, but treating a meal as fuel FIRST makes it OK to decompress over a bowl of nutrients, or packed smoothies.

I know – not really what you were thinking, hey?  There isn’t a magic bullet so I could never give a short answer to that question.  So much depends on where you, or anyone else reading this, is on (what I like to call) the “Maturity Model” of conscious eating (with 1 being “I eat fast food all day, every day, and I’m not even aware that this is bad” all the way to 10 “I just won Top Chef Canada and prepare raw food for the world!“)  so if I keep it short, I may be telling you things that make no sense to you, or lots of things you already know and could find just by Googling “How to change my diet”  (I’m sure you’ll find lots of Top 10s if you do).   At the end of the day, I hope I’ve provided you at least ONE thing that you can take away and use.

What do you wonder about…


My brain chatters and takes me down rabbit holes where I scratch and play and dig and discover something new.  I love organic learning.  But this can also mean that I may miss the comments or inquiries that have been presented to me as opportunities to learn about what you might be interested in learning more about when it comes to integrating more raw food into your everyday life.

So as raving as my brain can be, and how much fun I can have with it, I’d like you to provide some feedback!  What kind of information may you be looking for?  What questions do you have that you might like me to track down answers to?  Why are you here?

Thanks for coming and helping to shape our future discussions!  And please share this post so I can get as much feedback as possible.

Single Portion Raw Pesto


Just a quick post today after working with a recipe that portioned out raw pesto in a way that doesn’t require a ginormous bunch of basil and 2 quarts of olive oil. Yes, I’m sure there are many out there, but I’ve encountered and tried one and I loved it enough to care to sit down and type, so there we go…

First, to give credit where credit is due, I started with the pesto recipe that accompanied this raw pasta and pesto recipe.  I must admit, as one who has never bothered with marriage, nor as one who would strive too hard to find a “Husband Approved Recipe” even if I did (You don’t like it?  There’s the kitchen.  Go nuts.) the name turned me off, but I do try to remain open minded, so bothered to read the ingredients and was drawn in from there…

Courtesy of The Raw Guruhttp://www.rawguru.com/raw-food-recipes/husband-approved-raw-pesto-pasta.html.html

But, again, as I have no spouse to blend for, or to force into his own blending, the volumes were a little on the heavy side for little old me, and I can happily report that they translate well.

So for the lovely individual that you are, and because you deserve to feed yourself in the best way possible even when no one is watching, here are the single serve ingredients plus a few tweaks I threw in of my own…

Raw Pesto for the one, the only, the fabulous YOU:

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 cup (yes, still 1 cup) fresh basil with stems, but loosely packed…

1/2 cold expeller pressed extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp pink himalayan salt

1 small garlic clove

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Blend until smooth.

Now, aside from changing the salt and upping the basil content, I also added fresh squeezed lemon juice (to taste) and cayenne pepper (to taste) to perk this up a bit as, although the cashews add the wonderful texture, healthy fats, and creaminess, I found their sweetness contradicted the overall flavour and made it a bit flat.  Perhaps I don’t have a sophisticated palate (but never say that to my face, especially if I’ve had a couple glasses of wine…) and so, perhaps again, the subtle beauty of the original recipe is lost on me.  But so be it.  I added fresh lemon juice and cayenne pepper and loved it.  There we go.

So now you’re all set!  Spiralize a small zucchini, and/or carrot as per the recipe, or half a small sweet potato, or a bit of beet, and plaster with your five minute personal sized portion of pesto!

Have awe inspiring weekend friends!

KALE CHIPS! Om nom nom…


Yes, I really do love them. I’m not just telling myself that I love them because they’re healthy. That’s the truth.

A reader asked me quite a while back whether or not Kale Chips were as good as everyone says, and I told him that I would have to get back to him on it as the grocery store was actually out of kale the very weekend that the question was posed, and I hadn’t yet tried them otherwise.

Since then I have tried several commercially sold chips. And although I have tried several flavours that I loved, I do find them quite pricey.  $4 – $6 for a 100g bag makes them a bit of an extravagance.  However, this being said, they’re also worth it.  Packed full of wonderful nutrients and no chemicals or other crap, the store bought chips provide a wide variety of flavours, which is nice if you like to mix things up or get bored easily.  The store bought chips are also charging you for convenience, but if you’re going to impulse shop a snack, they’re the wiser choice.  I’ve tried a few kinds, from pineapple coconut, to spicy nacho, and cheesy flavour (which are not flavoured with cheese, but get their cheesy flavour from nutritional yeast), so I would say that there’s a flavour combination out there for everyone.

Kale is, itself, very mild in flavour.  It also doesn’t have a precise or overpowering aftertaste, like bitterness or sweetness.  Because of this, the kale takes on any flavour you throw at it and very little ‘leafy green’ taste comes through.  In short, it’s a great canvas for any taste you’re seeking.

If you’re interested in making a nice big batch at home, it’s pretty ‘effort-free’ and definitely less expensive than buying pre-made ones.  Making them with a dehydrator keeps them in the ‘raw’ category, but if this isn’t a pressing need for you, or if you don’t have a dehydrator, they can also be made in the oven.  There are a buh-zillion recipes for them available with a quick search online, so go look for one that may combine some of your favourite flavours.  I didn’t love the coconut pineapple, I wasn’t mad about the ranch flavours, but I was coo-coo for the nacho flavoured and the cheesy flavoured.  So I tried a batch of cheesy ones this weekend!

Provided below is a recipe I found on the WONDERFUL ‘RAW GURU” site.  Here’s a link to the recipe, which includes both dehydrator and oven methods.

Cheesy Chips at Raw Guru

I must report that I made 2 small modifications to this recipe, however….

1) because it’s just little ‘ole me, I used one bunch of Kale.  Two would have produced too many chips (and silly me…I now know that there’s no such thing after making this recipe, but hey…) but I didn’t reduce the coating at all because I’m BIG ON FLAVOUR and I didn’t find that there was too much.

2) I threw in about 3 TBLSP of nutritional yeast as well, because I love the flavour and wanted super cheesy chips.  I have no regrets for having done so…..   Nutritional yeast, if you are unaware, is a flaky yellowish deactivated food yeast.  It doesn’t have the same odour, uses, or flavour as bread yeast.  I buy mine in bulk at Kardish, but I see online that “Bob’s Red Mill” (which is available in many grocery stores) also produces it, so you may be able to find it where it is most convenient for you.

Making the chips was so very easy.  I washed the kale, and tore the leaves of one bunch into bite-sized pieces (discarding the tough stems) and put the leaves into a large bowl.  In a blender I combined all the ingredients, which (once blended) I poured over top the kale and started to massage the mixture into the leaves.  It took a whopping 3 minutes to perfectly coat them all, then I spread them out into a single layer onto my dehydrator trays.  On the whole, 10 minutes tops.

I put my coated kale in the dehydrator around 9pm, woke up at 9am the next day (hey…it was the weekend…) and they were PERFECT (and I don’t use that word very often) crunchy chips.

I now take them to work for a satisfying snack, and they’re my ‘go to’ when lurking about the kitchen, rooting for something to chow down on.  And they’re so wonderfully noisy, they’re the perfect revenge when watching a movie with that special someone who has been driving you bonkers with their nacho chips or popcorn chewing all those years….

Tasty AND revenge enabling?  What are you waiting for?!

Middle of winter…


It is the middle of January in Canada.  It’s dark, it’s cold, and it’s hard to keep a positive outlook.  All I really want to do is give in to the ‘hibernating bear’ impulse that overcomes me until March.  I must report, however, that my “winter blues” have been kept at-bay so far this year and I believe “juicing sunshine” (mango, papaya, pineapple) is helping a great deal.

I find it hard to believe that I’ve been at this blog for over a year already.  It has been such an incredible odyssey, restructuring my diet, which then led to reassessing so many other aspects of my life that related to my health and well-being.

It has been four months since my last post and I’m chagrined to admit that I’m very much in the same place as I was when I last wrote.  I’ve not YET had the success I had been looking for with integrating focused exercise into my daily routine.  I’m not giving up, I’m still working on it.  However, I could have written the forthcoming update earlier, but I also blame winter for my lack of motivation to write.  Sorry ’bout that, we do the best we can! :)

But describing my exercise challenges is not why I am here today.  I am here to report on the integration of ‘the raw food lifestyle’ into my existence.  Yes, I slip.  Yes, I sometimes revert to old habits when it comes to meal preparation.  Yes, sometimes I become too tired, sleep too late, run out of the house with no food, and then have to resort to the cafeteria food ‘with a side of fries’.  And lately I have discovered a new tendency that I haven’t had before:  comfort eating.  It usually takes the form of a chocolate bar.  I can now find myself eating 2 or 3 a week, where before I could go months without one and not notice.  I find this all incredibly interesting and I’ll tell you what I think is happening….

I think my move to primarily raw food and the good it does for my mind, body, and soul, has revealed a whole skein of personal challenges, or long held beliefs that are so well entrenched that I didn’t even recognize that I had them, that I am now unravelling.  This is good.  Really, really good.  I didn’t know that when I made the choice to evolve my diet that I would be healing so much more than my physical body but I’m happy to be going through it.  I’ve uncovered so much resistance to the change, a desperate need to retreat to the comfortable, and the more I persist with raw food/juice/smoothies, the better I feel, and the more I feel better, the more fear of feeling so good I experience.  It’s whacked! But my brain (whatever part of it that is resisting the change – maybe it’s the 10 year old, maybe it’s the Scorpio, maybe it’s the stubborn mule) tries to find a way to cope with that fear by offering me something that it hopes I’ll just love and give up feeling that unfamiliar “good” for, like a chocolate high.  The untangling can be very complex, but the path through the muck is so clear:  keep on eating raw food.  Eventually feeling so good is going to win my inner arguments and I’ll understand that this change is nothing to fear but something to be wholly embraced.

So all this being said, although I have my ‘I can’t believe I just ate that” moments, the integration of raw food into my daily diet has become so much simpler.  And I look forward to it:  sitting down and eating something so incredibly healthy fills me with so much joy, and where it used to taste a little blah at times, now a salad or a fresh juice or a smoothie tastes so luscious.  It is completely fulfilling.  I guess that scares part of me, being completely fulfilled.  Surely I’m not alone with having to deal with these contradictions that swirl within when making changes?  

I haven’t any photos of wild or complex recipes this time around because, truth be told, I am enjoying the simple form of all raw foods so much these days that I’ve had no impulse to try and dress it all up.  I’m just as happy now with a bag of raw nut mixes, a cucumber/celery/tomato salad with herbs and olive oil, ‘as is’ fruits, and fresh juices, raw crackers, seared tuna, spiralized sweet potato, marinated mushrooms, (and the list goes on and on and on) as I would be with a raw tartelette,  or a complex raw lasagna.  Although those recipes are wonderful for a change of pace, they aren’t essential to loving the presence of raw food in your everyday life.

I will leave you with a recommendation though.  I bought “Raw, Quick, and Delicious” by Douglas McNish (available on Amazon – I’d hyperlink it for you but for some reason WordPress says it’s a no-no to link to some commercial sites and I don’t want to get in trouble :) ) and am mad for it.  His juicing recipes and salads are especially easy, balanced, and so incredibly flavourful.  I highly recommend this book for novices and experienced raw foodists alike as it’s good for changing up a few old standbys with some new ingredients that make them new again.  His mixing of spices and herbs are unique and quite lovely.

After living with a Hamilton Beach electric juicer and a manual juicer for wheatgrass and greens, I finally got rid of both and invested in an Omega.  It’s an electric auger style which is great for everything – fruits, greens, veggies – and doesn’t oxygenate the living daylights out of everything by whizzing it through a mesh screen, so the juice retains its nutritional value longer.  I can now ready my veggies and greens the night before, cut the fruit in the morning, as well as juice in the morning, and then take it to work for lunch time.  This pleases me greatly and I’ve found my propensity to become a zombie at 2:00pm has been eliminated.

So there we are then.  If you’ve been following this blog to learn about the raw food lifestyle and adoption thereof, I hope you are seeing that it can be easy, is a bit of an evolution and not an ‘overnight’ transition, and if you are mindful of all the changes it creates within you, you will encounter other opportunities to heal and grow.  Me, I’m back at another ‘kick of the cat’ (which I would never REALLY do, it’s just a saying…) tomorrow morning:  adding the physical fitness component that is sorely lacking from my “whole life” experience.  I deserve it, damnit!  I must succeed! Hopefully I’ll have some good news for you next time I post.  Until then, I wish you health and joy…

Is the autumn leaf…


…a new leaf or an old leaf?  I *always* feel like turning over a new leaf in the Fall – maybe it’s an old throwback from when school would start and it feels like a season for new beginnings.  So I guess I won’t dwell on whether or not the autumn leaf is a new one or old (dried and dying) leaf.  It is what I want it to be.

When I last left you, I was attempting to channel my inner athlete and to move on to a new challenge in my evolution.  It didn’t go so well, I must admit.  My body wasn’t yet up to the “BIG” challenges I gave it that I found so exciting mentally and which motivated me.  So I would go big, then be out of commission for a week because of injuries or immobilizing soreness.  You have to understand:  I’m no Spring Chicken.  My pains are not muscular anymore, they’re skeletal.  My joints feel like they’re grinding glass, my tendons threaten to snap and take weeks to heal, and I seem to have a bone in my foot that likes to pop out of place and then pop back a day later.  Stupid bone.

So there’s all my complaining.  I found I was doing a lot of it, which could be why I haven’t been here for a while – thought I’d spare you.  My challenges led me to do a lot of reading about ‘mental toughness’ and pushing through (and I have to thank my friend Veronica (click her name to go read her wonderful blog!) who made me point my mind towards the topic of mental toughness).  I wondered if I am mentally weak – not stupid, of course, I’m bloody brilliant – but if somewhere along the way I let my fears about my poor level of health (really – although I have had my heart checked, I’m quite convinced that pushing myself past a specific level of effort will bring on a heart attack) make me reticent to push myself even a little harder or to get back to it and give ‘er even if I’m feeling achy or injured….or merely scared.

There’s my two dynamics in play:  I go big and incapacitate myself, but wonder if I should keep pushing myself anyway because I might just be a wimp.  But then I don’t push myself when I probably could.  When I put it in writing, I see how silly I’ve been.  Perhaps I should have come here to complain earlier than now.

I have to admit to myself that I can push, but need to be reasonable about the grandiosity of my attempts.  In other words, I need to push myself harder on my 30 minute stationary bike ride and not worry about the splatter pattern of my exploding heart all over my living room carpet (because it’s not going to happen)  and I need to STOP pushing myself with 1.5 hour power walks that dislocate the bones in my feet or 1 hour lap swims that put me flat on my back for 2 days lest I crack my spine in half.  What a big dum-dum.

In short:  my inner Athlete is going to have to settle the hell down and let my body catch up.  There’s that ‘patience’ thing again…you know – that thing I suck at?  Yah, that.  So off I go – to stop being silly, to turn over a new leaf (again) and start applying everything I know but seem to forget when setting goals.

BUT I can’t leave you without a raw food mention – seriously, isn’t that how this all started?!  My patio garden was wonderful this year, and even now as we head into October, I have large, imperfect but beautiful sunflowers who greet me every morning.  I’m not harvesting them, I’m letting the squirrels have them. I had so many tomatoes that, even after eating a couple per day, I still have bags of dehydrated ones for raw chili this winter, and quite a few frozen whole so I can turn them into puree for turkey chili (not raw, I know) or some other tomato based soup or sauce.  Lots of cayenne peppers, sweet red chilies, and lots of herbs and spices.  I feel good about the productivity of that little garden and it was “just enough” – I’m not enthusiastic about tending to the needs of a garden (I was constantly hoping for rain because I was too lazy to water) but this one wasn’t overly demanding.

Happy face.

Happy face.

I had a brain-storm with the wheat grass.  My conundrum was that I was the only one consuming it in the house, and I often saw partial trays of grass getting tossed as I didn’t juice it in time.  I’ve decided to juice it all at once, pour into ice-cube trays, and freeze.  I’m sure there may be some purists who shake their heads at this, but I think the stasis of freezing is fine and will preserve what nutritional value it contains.  It’ll have to do.

I went looking for a good “Power Ball” recipe this week.  No, I’m not talking about a lottery or Bingo game.  I stumbled across quite a few and found that I didn’t love each one for various reasons, so I combined them and came up with a power ball that is perfect for ME.  Maybe you’ll like it too:

1 cup organic oats

1 cup chocolate protein powder (I used Vega, but I suspect any inferior one that you have will be fine :) )

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/3 cup dried cranberries (but I’m pretty sure I used close to 1 cup….I love dried cranberries)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 Tbsp hemp hearts

1 cup almond butter (if using natural peanut butter, use 1/3c instead and increase your other liquids slightly)

1/4 cup agave (or 1/3 c honey)

2 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together, mix wet together, then combine.  If it’s too dry you can add a splash of non-dairy milk, or a little water, or a little more coconut oil.  I coated my hands in coconut oil and shaped into balls.  Keep them in the fridge or, if you actually think they’re going to last longer than 3 or 4 days, the freezer.

Chocolate Power Balls, mucho cranberries!

Chocolate Power Balls, mucho cranberries!

These are quite yummy and have no artificial sugars so will not throw you into a tail-spin if you eat them first thing in the morning.  This reminds me that most of the recipes I looked at had dark chocolate bars chopped up as well, which I wouldn’t be able to tolerate (from a glycemic index point of view) at various times during the day, so I left them out.  Once these balls are gone, I’m going to make this again with Vega French Vanilla which, mixed with the cranberries and maybe some chopped almonds, are going to be delicious.

One last point before I sign off:  I plan.  I’m good at planning.  I plan meals, exercise, get things ready the night before.  I’m good at it.  But HOLY CRAP I get sick of it and, usually by Thursday, I stop executing and just let it all go to hell.  This will be my next post:  trouble shooting ideas on how to keep on executing when you come to a point in your week when you could really not care less.  Maybe even become resentful….and rip your plans off the wall…and shred them.  I’m an “I hate routine” person in an “I need routine” world…

Wish me luck with the mental strength, lack of silliness, and taming my inner athlete:  must teach her to be consistent rather than explosive to the point of rendering me useless!  

Pack it in…


…no, I’m not “PACKING it in” – I mean I have packed a lot in to the past 2.5 months since my last post!

First off:  YAY ME!  I made it to ONE YEAR SMOKE FREE on May 15th.  I had to claw my way there, but I made it.  It was amazing to me that, the closer I got to the anniversary, the more I craved a cigarette just because it was top-of-mind more often.  But I had also invested so much in my effort, diet, health, etc that there was no way that little demon was going to win.  I made it.

I’ll try to summarize the last couple of months and then grow those points that may be of more interest to readers of this Raw Food Blog.

As my health has improved, and I went off all my medications in February, I’ve been trying a few new things: wanting to mix it up so I don’t get bored.  I attempted an “Insanity Challenge” (Insanity by BeachBody, if you’re curious) with my son and a wonderful woman whom you should follow on FaceBook if you are looking for some new fitness goals and a really down-to-earth person to guide you there.  Her name is Jessica, and this is the link to her official FaceBook page: Eat. Sleep. Lift. INSPIRE.   Unfortunately, it seems my son and I are not compatible work-out partners and we both became rather grizzly bearish towards each other at 6am (when was the only time we both had in common) and found doing an Insanity workout along with the stress of constant arguing wasn’t too terribly motivating.  We blew it after 2 weeks.  It is an intense but totally-doable workout regime, however, and I’ll be getting back to it on my own with enthusiasm.

But everything was not for naught.  While planning for and going through the workout, my diet changed somewhat (again):  I needed more protein and my fall-back is animal meat or products, but I did start actively seeking plant-based and\or raw alternatives and, to be honest, vegan protein shakes have become a big part of my routine.  They are light, refreshing, and are quite sustaining, rather than heavy and sometimes a chore to digest (like cooked eggs or chicken in the mornings).  I do like Shakeologyfor how long it seems to sustain me and I do feel a nice, balanced energy level when drinking it.  The draw-back of Shakeology for me is that they only have one flavour without strawberries (I’m allergic), and it has to be ordered online.  I also really like Vega – they have more flavours that I can consume (4 of their 5 shakes, to be precise), is sustainable plant-based, is available in most local health stores, also makes me feel great, and the company started in Canada.  Go Canada! :)

I have also had some ups and downs with going off my medications.  I am a migraine sufferer and am getting them more often.  As an attempt to ‘reset’, I went on a 12 day cleanse and it helped immensely to get rid of a lot of issues:  serious joint aching, lethargy, bloating, puffiness, and just an over-all feeling of being bogged down with the crap of life.  I have tried several cleanses in my day, but I always go back to Wild Rose.  It is easy to take (morning, night = easy), the diet requirements are easy to follow, and it doesn’t upset my stomach like a lot of the other ones do.  This is the one I use, if you’re interested:  Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox.  It is available in most health food stores and I got mine at, you guessed it, Kardish!   As always.  :)

So a coo-coo workout attempt, a cleanse, and I’m still dealing with some serious headaches.  I think this is where patience and persistence will come into play – not my strongest personality traits.  But I am getting quite serious about exercising, which is giving me so much more energy.  And, of course, when one is committed to exercising daily, there is less room in one’s life for those things that may undermine it, like excess alcohol, crap food, poor sleep habits (this is also a hard one for me), letting work be “Numero Uno” all the time, etc.  I am holding out hope that consistent exercise, a consistent approach to my raw diet, a lot of lemon water, and time will nip these headaches once and for all.  I’ll keep you posted.

When it comes to overcoming the things that get in the way of  daily exercise, good sleep is my biggest challenge now (which means, HEY! I’ve come a long way!  A year ago I had about 10 things that got in the way of daily exercise!)  Making myself go to bed between 9 – 10pm so I can get up around 5am and fit some good work-out and breakfast time in before I go to the office and let the day take over has been hard.  Like many of us, my evenings are the only me-time I have anymore, and I want it to last.  The longer I put off going to bed, the more of that day belongs to me.  I have to realize two important things in order to over-come this mind-set:  I am making quality me-time in the mornings now, and the more I exercise, the more energy I have, so there may come a time that I’ll be able to enjoy a bit more of my evenings without feeling like I’m constantly sleep-deprived and can’t haul my bum out of bed in the mornings.  Maybe.  But for now, it’s a SOLID 8 hours of sleep a night or I’m a zombie.  I have to be more consistent and then, maybe, someday I’ll be able to make it on 6 or 7 hours of sleep happily.  We’ll see.  I’ll keep telling my ‘I resent missing a long evening’ self that just to humour it.

Believe it or not, the above was the “Summary”!  I’ll get to some food-related stuff now.

Wheat Grass!  I’m not growing it all the time, but I will grow a tray once or twice a month and I do love it so.  I just don’t have it on hand all the time because I’m the only one juicing and drinking it and I don’t want it to go to waste.

Picked this up from rawnutrition.ca  and it was everything I needed to get started.

Picked this up from rawnutrition.ca and it was everything I needed to get started.  I am using the coconut-husk mats to grow the seed as I find it less messy indoors.  It can be grown in soil, however, and I may switch over as the husk mats are an itty bit over-priced IMHO.

IMG_0894

Here is my first tray, with the first growth peeking up its head. It was nice to have something green sprouting inside while there was still snow outside!

IMG_0895

Close-up of the wheat berries sprouting. This is approximately Day 4 since planting.

IMG_0901

Day 6 since planting! Ready to snip and juice. It takes about 1/3 of a tray to get 1 ounce of wheat grass juice (manual juicer).

IMG_0905

And here it is: 1 ounce of wheat grass with 1 apple. It was so sweet and made my whole body ping. I wouldn’t have been able to call it a juice – more like an elixir :) This is about 50x better than any ‘wheat grass apple juice’ I’ve bought at a juice bar.

I made “Fragrant Vanilla Cake”‘s Key Lime Truffles too.  The recipe called for coconut butter, which I had never made, so had to get to that first.  If you’ve never made it, here is what you do…

Put raw unsweetened shredded coconut into a blender and blend....

Put raw unsweetened shredded coconut into a blender and blend….

Put more raw, unsweetened, shredded coconut into the blender, and blend some more....

Put more raw, unsweetened, shredded coconut into the blender, and blend some more….

And after much blending and pushing down and blending and general uncertainty about whether or not its going to work....VOILA!  Coconut butter.  Put in the fridge to harden up a little.

And after much blending and pushing down and blending and general uncertainty about whether or not its going to work….VOILA! Coconut butter. Put in the fridge to harden up a little.

Then I made the truffles!  (Link was above, with the mention of “Fragrant Vanilla Cake”)

The truffle filling:  lots of zesty lime, cashew, and spinach for the 'green', they were yummy enough to eat on their own....

The truffle filling: lots of zesty lime, cashew, and spinach for the ‘green’, they were yummy enough to eat on their own….

IMG_0930

…but I dipped them in the home-made raw chocolate anyway, and it was worth the extra step. These are little bursts of decadence that are good for you too. All food should be this rewarding.

It has been lovely to catch up with you!  My next couple of weeks will involve a concerted effort to exercise, hopefully more than once, every single day.  I’ve told myself that I am now an athlete.  I realized that a casual “Hey, give 30 minutes of exercise a try tomorrow, see how it goes” doesn’t get my butt out of bed at 5am.  I have to “Be Big” about it.  That’s what motivates me.

And on the other goal-front:  I believe I’m hitting 80% raw 90% of the time :)  Fact is, because it is becoming so much easier now to be preparing and eating a raw diet, I’m not keeping track as religiously as I had been at the start of the year.  Meals are raw, snacks are raw, and any non-raw food is organic, whole, non-GMO, healthy, healthy, healthy.  My downfall is grabbing something quick when I grab a take-out coffee in the mornings.  There is definitely room for improvement there.

Hope you are all well, healthy, happy, and moving towards something good for your well-being.  Happy Whole Life!  More soon.