The Inaccessible Images of Health

As I’m sure you can imagine, I use a lot of social media applications for my research into nutrition, health, and wellness related topics.  Two that I use most often are Pinterest and Flipboard because they allow me to identify my interests and then they aggregate stories – either from Pinterest or from the Internet – that have been tagged with my interests.  Saves me a ton of time as I don’t have to go OUT to the internet to seek articles and posts individually.

Neither of these apps are responsible for the content (aside from their efforts to ensure spam, hateful, pornographic images, etc. don’t proliferate) and so when I voice a dismayed opinion about what I have been noticing in the articles that are coming my way, I do not mean to imply in ANY WAY that this is the fault of either app, or any app that is used for this purpose.

But what I have been noticing is sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, but is always insidious.

Of course, where there is money to be made, the commercialization of any movement is predictable these days.  What I find unfortunate is that, in the commercialization of Health, companies, bloggers, and other individuals or entities have fallen back to using the woman’s body (Note: YES, they use men’s bodies in their commercialization too, but I think the messages can be very different. I’m going to focus on how they use a woman’s body because it’s what I can relate to) in its ‘most perfect form‘ to intimidate, guilt, or shame women into buying\using their products.  Apparently with little effort, we can have GIANT round firm bums, perky firm breasts, teensy waists, fat-free sculpted arms and shoulders (coughbullshitcough).  I was going to make some comparison to the Goddess Aphrodite, but all paintings and sculptures of Aphrodite portray a fairly rounded body with, GASP, a fat pocket on her belly and soft, impressive thighs. So The New Goddess is to be worshipped which, for the MAJORITY of us is an inaccessible image when contemplating our own current level, and desired level of health and fitness. This can make a lot of people walk away from working on their true health before they’ve even started – not just because of the unattainable images, but because every gimmick they’ve bought into has never, ever worked.

Where the majority of North American (I cannot speak for European or other parts of the world) women have been punched in the face with ‘the ideal physical appearance to even be considered attractive’ images and messages our ENTIRE lives, it takes a super strong and self assured female to come out the other side unscathed. Indeed, even if we know the messages are bunk, we still have to fight our own negative self-talk almost daily. This SUCKS. What SUCKS MORE?  The fact that beauty/worthiness and HEALTH are now being tied up together into one big bow. STRONG is the NEW SEXY! Well, I hope so.  But define strong….. According to Commercialized Health, the following awesome specimen is “Strong” and nothing less will suffice:

Don't get me wrong, she is muscular. But is she Healthy?

Don’t get me wrong, she is muscular. But is she Healthy?

Thus manifests my ultimate dismay: when I seek out information on becoming HEALTHIER rather than more aesthetically beautiful or desirable (or muscular), naively expecting to be DROWNING in messages about doing the best I can, or realistic goal setting and plans to achieve them, and how all these healthy and smart efforts will support my body AND self-esteem in positive ways, I am instead bombarded with messages like the following:

You know - because your boobs are saggy...and that's bad.

You know – because your boobs are saggy…and that’s bad.

Because, hot damn, BELLY FAT is not SEXY. (BTW, I think everyone knows you can't target fat loss, but this image does leave a niggling impression, doesn't it?)

Because, hot damn, BELLY FAT is not SEXY. (BTW, I think everyone knows you can’t target fat loss, but this image does leave a niggling impression, doesn’t it?)

MIRACULOUSLY get an 18 inch waist like a 10 year old....everything else is gross.

MIRACULOUSLY get an 18 inch waist like a 10 year old….everything else is gross.

You know...because chicken wings are for chickens....

You know…because chicken wings are for chickens….

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are also complete articles on how you must be a complete ignoramus if you eat certain things like GMO, meat, store bought salad dressing, non-organic fruits and veg.  Not that laying off excessive meat or meat entirely, or learning how to make your own sugar free salad dressings AREN’T healthier, it’s the SHAME being used to influence people’s choices that is manipulative.

Genres aren’t immune either. What starts out as a true intention to offer healthier (for you and the planet) alternatives to the current fast-food, or convenience food ways of eating gets in the hands of a zealot or ‘business’ and suddenly you are are again deemed a total twat for willfully ignoring their benefits.  From Raw, Vegan, Paleo, and the Supplement crowd, they all have their High Throne and if you aren’t trying to attain it, you’re failing. Try harder, do more, read more, buy more, because what you’re doing isn’t good enough. Never mind that you’re trying in the first place and have made some improvements for your Health.  It isn’t good enough.  That is their message to us and that means they are BIG JERKS!

So ignore it, right?  Find what’s right for you and find like minded people and pay attention to your own journey to attain your happiest health.  Right. But it can be a struggle for some.  Such a struggle for some that there has been a growth in the occurrences of Orthorexia.  As detailed in the mind boggling article below, this eating disorder impacts a person by making it impossible for them to eat anything that they perceive to be unhealthy. It’s the extreme of ‘knowledge is wisdom’, rather than accepting moderation as being part of an acceptable plan or choice.  In the onslaught of information that we can receive today, some of it from under researched and disreputable (but for some reason very popular) sources   (see my post of April, 2015 ), eliminating all food that has been labelled ‘unhealthy’ leaves a person with very little to eat!  What also struck me by the story being told is that the case study subject had her behaviour reinforced by people who told her she looked good when she was severely under-weight.

Article:  Orthorexia, When Healthy Eating Turns Against You.

Now I have to ask all of you, is keeping our heads down and focusing only on our self-improvement always enough? If it’s the best that we can do for the moment (because getting into new habits and working hard at it can take all of our focus) then OK.  But some small changes we can make would be to critically assess our goals or, more importantly, why we set them.  Did we set them to become our healthiest self, or because we (as women AND men) feel a pressure to attain a physical ideal to even be considered as a worthy person or attractive person?  If it’s the latter, then reassess.  Your goals will probably be attainable if you do.

We can also critically assess what we share on social media, and also assess what we read before we even OPEN the article. In short:  Boycott the unhealthy, subliminally insidious messaging that punches you in the face.  If it messes with your self esteem on ANY LEVEL – ignore it AND never, ever share it.  You never know how deep a negative impact those messages could have on others.  We, as a collective, can say “No More.  Screw that.” and make the message loud and clear: we know Health is for Health’s Sake.  Health is to be improved to SUPPORT US, not tear us down.  HEALTH is ENOUGH. Some of us will get 6 pack Abs out of the journey, some of us won’t, but because we are all focusing on what is healthy, we are all awesome.

Thanks for reading. Hug your health, fitness, and wellness coach today!


Little Thoughts on My First Half Marathon #TORW2015

This isn’t about Raw Food. Fair warning if that is the ONLY reason you are here. 

No, this is a few notes I’ve jotted down for me regarding the first Half Marathon (21.1K or 13.1M) that I have ever run, which I managed to do yesterday. I thought I’d share them here in case any of them end up being useful for you too.

First HM Note: Take the time in that godforsaken line-up at the porta-potties and pee before the race starts. About 1km in I had to stop at a park bathroom and lost 5 minutes. By the time I came out, I was in the very last of the last group. 

Second HM Note: If you lose time to a bathroom break, don’t ‘boogey’ to make it up and burn of precious energy that you’ll need later. This is a rookie mistake. I knew it before I ran. I did it anyway and I paid for it.

Third HM Note: I was really smart (if I do say so myself) and made my goal “to Finish” and not a time goal. I couldn’t fathom setting a time goal, not meeting it, then completing my first ever HM disappointed because of a few minutes. I didn’t want my first HM to be about time, but about learning and having fun.

Fourth HM Note: It was really nice to have someone at the Finish Line (and as it was, I had TWO people at the Finish Line because my Personal Trainer was a Time Official and she grabbed me and gave me a big hug. With that hug, all my despair over my pain melted away and was replaced by Joy. “You did it!” she yelled. “OMG, yes, I guess I did!” I replied). After spending 3 hours in my own head and having several types of conversations, being pulled out of my thoughts so I could recognize the moment I was in and the achievement was really great. So I may not NEED someone to be there at the Finish Line, it was really, really great that my PT and my sister were. I will remember that for next time and ask people to be there for me.

Fifth HM Note: Reading all those books actually helped. I recalled coping strategies and used them. I recalled hydration strategies and used them. I recalled physiological responses discussed and so knew not to panic. I wasn’t dying. It was alllll “normal” and I could keep moving forward knowing that I would be OK.

Sixth HM Note: The course is littered with Guardian Angels. Those little old ladies that had been on the Full Marathon course who passed me chattering away and then told me “We LOVE your tights!” as they left me in their dust – they were Guardian Angels. They gave me my humour back and basically showed me that I needed to suck it up and keep on moving. Every person who passed me a glass of liquid was a Guardian Angel. Whomever pasted up the giant “We are So PROUD of You!” sign up for someone, but didn’t take it down so I could see it too, they were a Guardian Angel. The woman who made eye contact with me in the last Kilometer and said “You’ve got this. You can do it.” and got me to start running again so I could cross that Finish Line ‘unbeaten’, she was a Guardian Angel.

Seventh HM Note: Yes, I should have definitely trained more. Without a doubt. But now I’m smarter about how and why.

Last HM Note: The BIGGIE for me…..I spend a lot of time criticising this poor, unsung body of mine. I tell it it’s fat, lumpy, aging in all the wrong places, too big ‘this’, too small ‘that’, crooked, and all sorts of really terrible things. Then my heart and mind come up with these ‘Big Scary Goals’ and who has to see me through it all? My Body. My body supported me in ways I can’t believe when I ran that Half Marathon. When it couldn’t get rid of the lactic acid fast enough, it stored it in my fingers because it knew I wasn’t using them. Sure, I had big sausage fingers that hurt to bend, but who cares – I wasn’t using them! It used every drop of Gatorade and Water to give me everything I needed. It sent painkillers to my hip joints and feet, it just knew it had to get me there. It knew I had no plan to give up, so it did everything in its power to get me there. It showed me how Smart it is, how Strong it is, and how much it cares for me. Never again will I diss this amazing body. I will do everything I can to support it in return, from this day forward. If I got nothing else out of the experience (which I did, I got A LOT), walking away with this renewed love for my body made it all worth it.

Thanks for letting me share.  Happy running and Healthy Eating!


So here we are again: in the middle of a dark, cold Canadian winter.  As counterintuitive as it may seem, now is the time to comb the seed catalogues and plan what you will grow in summer, if anything.  I may not actually get to grow a garden of any type this year as we may end up moving in the middle of summer.  I will just have to haunt the farmer’s markets more frequently and live vicariously through you!

But although the dead of winter is not a raw food enthusiast’s best season, it is the season where we can employ our creativity to get in all the fruit and veggie nutrients that we need.  Creative is good, keeps the mind sharp. That’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

And it was an exercise in trying to employ my creativity that has led me to this:  a recipe book review, just for you!

Raw food blogger, and fellow Canadian, Emily Von Euw of This Rawsome Vegan Life has published a new recipe book, called “100 Best Juices, Smoothies, and Healthy Snacks“.  I waited patiently for it to be available through and it was delivered into my hot little thirsty hands in January (I think?  The winter days all blend together….).  I can’t wait to tell you what I think of it….

Look at this beautiful book!

Look at this beautiful book!










I was eager to buy Emily’s book for the juices, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Of both the sweet and savory juice recipes, I have already tried eleven of them, all of which I adored, and I have to report that the following AMAZING blends will become part of my every-day existence:

First, I don’t want to give away too much information about what is IN the recipes – that would be cheating (and may be copyright infringement), but I’ll do my best to explain why I love, Love, LOVE them…

Sweet Sunshine: is just that.  It perks up a winter beaten soul and, since it’s loaded with vitamin C, protects us from all those nasty germs flying around the office.  It’s not too sweet, and is oh so pretty.

Buddha-Ful Beets:  A runner’s best friend!  Full of oxygen transmitting beet juice, my calves may never cramp again!  Throw in some cilantro and some other awesome stuff, and wowsers….it’s a work of art.

Power Greens: just because the colour is so beautiful and it is packed FULL of all the great things our sweet little cells desire.  I honestly believe I get back 1 year of health every time I throw this one back. At least, that’s how it feels.

Herb Happiness:  I actually drew a heart on the page of this recipe.  Among so many other things, this recipe juices mint, which creates pleasure for all the senses involved.

So many of Emily’s juices are packed so full of incredible ingredients that they could be a meal in and of themselves.  This is particularly helpful in the middle of winter, where we’re often too tired to cook and clean all those dishes – the capability is there to still feed your body well through juice.  I honestly and truly felt uplifted, full of balanced energy, more alert (as opposed to winter dopey), and ready to take on the remainder of the day (as opposed to crawl under the blankies and sleep for 10 days) every single time I made one of these juices.

I could go on and on but an individual’s tastes can be so subjective, you may look at the juices I’ve listed above and go “Ick” (although I personally think that would make you WRONG, but hey…)  so don’t take my word for it.  There are so, so, so many more juices that use reasonable (as in: you’ll be able to find them), interesting, and nutritious ingredients, I’m sure you’ll find several that you love.

And that’s just the juices 🙂

I haven’t yet ventured into the Smoothie section, but have read every single recipe and have dog-eared (hold on, let me count…) NINE smoothies to try in the next few weeks, in addition to several of her snacks.  I think her onion rosemary flax bread will be hitting the dehydrator tomorrow.

To round it all out, the book is beautiful.  The photos show the clean and beautiful ‘au naturel‘ colours of the drinks (Mine turned out the same colour! No photoshopping required!) and just looking at them makes the mouth water.  Emily’s writing style is engaging and humorous – you can hear her talking to you and it’s not hard to tell that she loves what she is giving to you.  There is just the right amount of information in the front (Introduction section) and back (Resources section) to give a newbie a place to start without boring the daylights out of the experienced juicer/smoothier/raw foodist.

Available through,, Chapters/Indigo Online (and may be in-store), and of course, through Emily’s blog (link was provided above).

Happy Winter….unless it’s not winter where you are. I’m not jealous….really….sniffle….

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!

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…

A Change….

“A change is as good as a rest”  or so the saying goes.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve taken on a lot of changes in the past year, and one always seems to lead to another.  The key is to make sure the spiral is going upwards….

May 2012, I quit smoking after (gulp!) 30 years.  A cigarette hasn’t crossed these lips in 300 days tomorrow and I feel my restoration on so many levels, but none more than with my sense of self-esteem.

I actually started to get up really early to go to the gym to work with a personal trainer.  This is huge on a couple of fronts.  First, if they were to ever need a study subject for Night Owlism, no one is more genetically inclined to lurk about in the dark and fall into a deep sleep as soon as the birds start to sing than I am.  So using the early morning hours to work out isn’t completely out of character IF I was coming at it from being up all night…..but making myself go to bed at 9pm to get up at 5am was something I had only imagined myself doing if there were $1Million dollars involved.  It was big.  Working out in a gym, period, was even bigger.  I’m not a joiner, and I have seen the ‘sterotypical’ (laughable) people at a gym (that shall remain nameless) previously and I have no patience for the posturing.  So venturing into that subculture again was very brave of me and a test of my patience.  Luckily, a lot of those posturing people are not at the gym at 6am!  Yay.  So concentrating on my health and body image (really, I have to admit it is one of my motivators) is another change I have taken on.  Someone asked me the other day if I had lost weight, which I haven’t, but I believe I’m getting tighter.  Progress.

All of the above then led me to examine my diet.  I have always had a healthy diet and a healthy relationship with food.  The science of food is a life-long interest and one that I have been a student of for a long time.  But I wanted to take it to a new level or new direction.  I wanted to start to experiment with the benefits that food could provide, but in a healthy and safe way.  My motivators are different than others:  I wasn’t looking at “Vegan” or “Vegetarian” because although I am a huge lover of animals and advocate for animal rights, I also believe they have a place in our food chain.  I just don’t always approve of how they are treated as a part of our food chain.  I know there is lots of work to do there.  My motivations for a socially conscious diet revolve around the environment:  doing what I can to ensure my footprint is low, that I support family farms as much as I can (especially these days, when industrial farming gets all the breaks from government policy), and that my food is grown with as much consideration to the earth, the animal, and the health of the consumer as much as possible.  This led me to the raw diet.  As I have written in other posts (and will only quickly summarize here), the science of the raw diet and how it supports the body and over-all health really appealed to me, and the type of food that is eaten lets me do the research into the best places and people to buy from.  And I found all of this so fascinating and such a big deal that I started a blog!! Check!

And then the benefits of the raw diet led me to examine other aspects of my health – specifically, my relationship with Western Medicine, my doctor, and my prescriptions.  After consulting with my doctor, I went off all my prescriptions in January.  Disclaimer:  I wasn’t seriously ill!  My several prescriptions were meant to carry me through to a specific time in, uhem, a woman in her 40s or 50s life, with as little discomfort as possible.  I had started down the prescription path when I was a smoking, sedentary, person and I found the unpredictable sleep, overwhelming “flashes” of heat (which then inflamed my temper), the headaches, and finally the unpredictability of my cycle unmanageable and disruptive.  Now that I’m balancing my body with food, exercise, and consistent awareness of what I’m experiencing and how it makes me feel, I don’t need any medicinal aids anymore.  Taking off the dog collar of medicinal dependence feels wonderful.  Note:  I’ll still be taking my prescription for migraines, but I expect to be having them a lot less often.  I’m intrepid, not masochistic…. Again:  a boon to my self-esteem and sense of personal strength.

What’s next?  Wow.  Good question!  In our lives, we sometimes get spurts of that “anything is possible!” feeling.  When I used to get that feeling it would sometimes scare me.  YES!  Anything is possible!  Am I up for it……..????  No…going back to bed…pass the potato chips.

These days, I am becoming more aware that anything is possible all the time, not in spurts, and am more confident that I am up for it.  Now I’m just daring to let my imagination go, to stop stifling it, and am thanking the fears that bubble up for trying to protect me, but letting them go because I don’t need them anymore.

When they tell you that healthy diet and exercise are beneficial, they don’t tell you about where it can all lead, how BIG it can all really be if you want it to be.  They tell you you’ll live longer and, you know, when you feel like crap, living a crappy life longer isn’t a selling point!  They should tell you that your inner life will get bigger than the universe and you will be able to see to infinity when you look inside, and that the infinity is full of safety, possibility, and profound love for yourself and others.  No.  I’m not crazy or high.  I’m telling you the truth.  All this benefit from a few good choices.

I wish I had known it was this easy and this good 30 years ago.

Why raw?!

May 2014 Update: These days, I might amend this post to remove the comparison between cooked food and GMO food. Although cooking can alter the molecular structure of food, it isn’t engineered deception. Perhaps the better comparison is to simply state that cooked food has been changed from what it was intended to be and if we don’t have the tolerance to eat the food raw (like a fox can eat raw chicken…) perhaps we should reconsider eating it. All this being said, however, aiming for a higher amount of raw food in our daily lives is a reasonable goal. Not eating anything cooked is an unrealistic goal for many of us….


Original Post:

I’ve had a couple comments from friends recently that have surprised me:  that going to a raw diet is ‘extreme’ and also ‘I couldn’t give up meat’ and ‘what’s the deal with eating only raw food (said with an exaggerated eye roll for good measure)‘.  These comments surprised me because, geez, I thought EVERYONE knew what this was all about.  Guess not! 🙂

So I’d like to explain.  Going to a raw diet is not a ‘diet’ (as in, the goal is not weight loss), it is a life-style.  And like I said to my friend “Like all lifestyles, it may not be for everyone”.  But I think it is the opposite of ‘extreme’.

  • Stuffing a duck with stuffing, putting that duck in a turkey, and weaving the entire turkey in bacon, and cooking the living crap out of ALL for several hours = extreme.

  • Chopping some veggies and making a homemade salad dressing /= extreme.  Es claro? Si…

The purpose of a ‘raw’ diet is not to eat raw food, it is to eat ‘living’ food, or food that still has the capability to give you all the goodness that it can give.  And the goodness it has to give is outstanding; our bodies understand it, our bodies highly desire it, need it, love it.  This is one of the reasons we soak most nuts and seeds:  they have a natural enzyme inhibitor on the outside – soaking removes the enzyme inhibitor and brings the nut/seed back to life and also neutralizes ‘phytic acid’ which keeps our bodies from absorbing important stuff, like zinc, calcium, iron and other minerals.  But I don’t think you’re arguing with me that fresh fruits and veggies are good for us, right?  If you are arguing with me about that, go away.  Shoo.

Then there’s the flip side:  why not cook your food (which is what I think all the fuss is about, right?)?  Carol Alt‘s book has an excellent chapter on the science of  the changes our food undergoes when it is cooked.  I’m going to summarize her statements here, but if you have more questions, please pick up her book!

1. Cooking your food causes it to undergo molecular changes.  A number of examples are provided, such as the by-products of fuels used for cooking (i.e.: grilling/smoking) entering the food, changing the chemical composition and also being chemicals we consume, some of which are carcinogenic, but two examples stand out to me the most because they occur ‘naturally’ when cooking, and not as a result of an external factor, like fuel:

  • Much of the food we eat contains acrylamide, a chemical created by cooking food.  The chemical can cause gene mutations and was found to cause a range of cancers in rats.  Acrylamide is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in many plant based…foods after they are heated. It appears that the chemical, which is used in the treatment of sewage and to create…certain plastics and dyes, is also a byproduct of cooking food at high temperatures.”   Well, then why hasn’t there been some alert about it or something, you ask?  There has been, in 2002.  Click this sentence for more information about the chemical.

  • “Cooking foods bond objects together and they become more solid and stronger.  If your body is set up to read the molecular structure of food, and you change the molecular structure, the body has to change or work harder to get what nutrition it can out of that food.  What does this do to the body, especially since it can take about 1M years to fully adapt to a new diet?”  It is a question answered by the common sense response:  the body has to use energy (up to 70% of our energy, actually!) to both tolerate and extract nutrients from cooked food.  We’re supposed to be eating to FUEL our bodies, not deplete them of energy.

Bottom line on ‘changing the molecular structure’ is that it turns food into something that our bodies don’t naturally recognize.  Our bodies tolerate it, but don’t thrive on it.  A good comparison is this:  If you don’t want to eat GMO food, why would you think it’s OK to eat food that has had its molecules modified through over-heating (cooking)?

2. Cooking food alters the pH of our food.  The body needs to stay alkaline for our health.  “Cooking destroys a lot of the nutrients, disrupts the natural balance of biochemical elements, and makes food more acidic”.  Additionally, we make acid in our bodies lots of other ways:  stress, digestion, etc. but our bodies make nothing alkaline.  We receive all of the “Yin” through our diet, which we can receive through many foods, but mostly through raw fruits and vegetables.  What do you think it means when our bodies are too acidic?  Nothing good, especially over time.  Inflammation, autoimmune diseases, and ulcers just to name a couple off the top of my head.  Another example provided “Throw acid on a car, and it will eat the paint away and through the metal; likewise, acid in the blood, running through your systems will go through your organs and wear your body down.”

3. Cooking food destroys the enzymes: “What are enzymes, exactly?  Enzymes are the protein molecules that facilitate most of the body’s metabolic processes, such as digestion.”  Or, if we wanted to go back to Grade 10 Science class, enzymes are the building blocks of life!  LIFE!!  Enzymes are required for every single function of the human body and heat is the enemy of enzymes.  Anything that has been heated over 115F is either dead or dying, so in cooked food, the digestive enzymes food contains doesn’t stand a chance.  If the enzymes aren’t present in your food, the body has to use its own enzymes to help you digest, taking them away from other vital functions of your body.

4. Cooking food changes the bonds between vitamins and minerals.  “The bonds between vitamins and minerals are super-fragile, and heat affects them immediately.  While not all the nutrients in food are destroyed by cooking, your body faces the Herculean task of trying to absorb nutrients when they are not in the natural state that it recognizes….the best plan of action is to eat foods that are clean and that the body can recognize easily and utilize.”  And, as we all know because we are smart, vitamins and minerals seem to have ‘partners’ or some sort of symbiotic relationship with another vitamin or mineral.  When cooking destroys one, you could actually be losing out on the benefits of two or more because they cannot be as easily absorbed without their partner.  Lots of research has been done on this topic.  20 – 50% of the vitamins and minerals in food is destroyed through cooking.  That’s quite a bit!  (and for those of us who hate to waste time: you are now wasting time to cook and are only getting half the benefit from it.  ooooo, that ticks me off!)

So there it is.  The science of “why raw” summarized in 4 points….but that isn’t “it”…there are many other reasons, including how some of the molecular changes we can inflict on our food makes them not only ‘not healthy’ but even dangerous to our long-term health.

GENETICS ASIDE…yes, my Grandmother drank and smoked a pack a day and died in her 90’s too.  But she also had many years of cleaner country living on me, and quite a bit more fresh air and physical labour at home and at work too.  I don’t think we should rely on genetics to save us from the onslaught of chemicals, convenience, sedentary habits, etc. that we have either purposefully adopted or had thrust upon us in the past 30 years.  There are SOME changes we probably shouldn’t have accepted so readily, like packaged, processed, microwaved diets.

Housekeeping time.

I made this guacamole.  It was the best guacamole I have ever tasted!

Perfection in a bowl! Guacamole in da house!

Perfection in a bowl! Guacamole in da house!

I also made these cookies, but I don’t think my cashew ‘dough’ was as dense as it was supposed to be:  my cookies are gooey…but I’m still eating them because they taste super yummy 🙂  I will certainly be trying these again.

I had wondered if a person could convert to a raw diet on their own, and I can provide this update:  If they have a computer, ABSOLUTELY!  If they’re willing to buy books, YES!  Can you find the products you need?  I live in a city and I have to say I’m about 70% successful.  Can’t wait until summer!  Also: will be setting up my little greenhouse after Christmas and starting to grow in doors:  food, herbs, and will try wheat-grass once I can afford a decent wheat-grass juicer.

No luck yet on getting maca powder.  It’s constantly on order and seems to sell quickly once it arrives.  I’m starting to doubt its existence and think it is some sort of inside joke with ‘in the club’ raw foodists.

I’m starting to add more sites under “Resources” – fabulous sites with great recipes.  I’m on a mission to find the best raw food ‘bread‘ – one that isn’t onion paste….I need SOMETHING other than flax crackers to put all those amazing spreads on.  I’ll keep you posted.