Brrrrr…..


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 Amazon.ca 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 Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, 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….

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The Bestest Smoothie Ever…..


….at least, that’s what I call it when I’m hungry and in a rush.  I also take complete credit for this concoction as I’ve used so many smoothie recipes from other people, but have bended them slightly to fit my dietary needs.

This recipe is great first thing in the morning, but I’ve been enjoying it more for dinner these days as a way to eat light in the evening and give my body the nutrients it needs to recover from the day.

I’ve never been very good at food photos, mostly because I’m so eager to chow down that the plate or glass is a mess by the time I think about it.  Today was no different.  I came tearing into the house after the gym, threw the smoothie together, and threw half of it back before thinking of a photo….the glass was pretty grungy by then.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.

It’s very basic, but excellent on its own or as a base to whatever else you want to throw in.  So incredibly fast, just throw everything into the blender and blend until super smooth and creamy, Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you….

Darcie’s Bestest Smoothie Ever…….

425 Calories.

1 cup Almond Milk.  If you’re not strictly raw, then use any kind of non-dairy milk that you want.

1 cup leafy greens.  I prefer Kale, but will use spinach if it’s on-hand.

6 ice cubes    

1 scoop protein powder. Good quality raw protein powder is hard to come by: use whatever you prefer.

1 Cup of fruit du jour.  This can be an apple (cored, peeling not necessary), frozen wild blueberries are my favourite, but if I’m getting bored of them, I always have frozen pineapple, mango, or other fruits on hand.  I try not to use fruit with a lot of small seeds, like raspberries, blackberries, or pomegranate as I don’t have time to chew my smoothies…

1 Tblsp Chia Seeds    

1 Scoop Veggie Green Powder, or Sea Veg powder. (Optional) 

1 tsp or preferred measure of your daily Omega 3*6*9 – I use Udo Oil.

Add Ins:  Depending on your tastes or dietary needs, I sometimes throw a frozen or fresh banana in, or half an avocado, a Tablespoon of Nut Butter, and, especially in winter, a vitamin D drop.

If I’m planning to have this in the morning, I pre-prep the powders and chia, which helps “Zombie Darcie” when trying to find ingredients before my eyes are really open.

This recipe fills a 1 Quart mason jar almost 3/4 full.  Using the base recipe (no add-ins) and blueberries as the fruit du jour, here’s the Nutritional Content:

Nutrition Facts
Servings 1.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 425
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14 g 22 %
Saturated Fat 2 g 11 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 70 mg 23 %
Sodium 363 mg 15 %
Potassium 1039 mg 30 %
Total Carbohydrate 42 g 14 %
Dietary Fiber 14 g 56 %
Sugars 16 g
Protein 36 g 73 %
Vitamin A 319 %
Vitamin C 185 %
Calcium 81 %
Iron 37 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

So happy blending.

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! 🙂

 

 

 

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!  

Too impatient for lettuce…


….really, it takes so long to eat.  I’m too impatient.  I have tolerated it in the past, but now that I’m eating salads more often, I can feel the wasted seconds ticking as I fight to get it on my fork, and chew, chew, chew, chew….boring!

As a result, I have managed to make several salads these past few weeks sans lettuce and I’m having a lot of fun experimenting.  Shredded things, spiralled other things, sprouted more things, toss! 

I will admit, salads and smoothies aside, I haven’t been as raw as I should have been these past two weeks.  I have an arms length of excuses to offer up, everything from how the ‘coldest week in eight years’ and getting the flu knocked me down, both physically and emotionally, but just suffice it to say that I fell back to old habits because they were easy.  What can I say:  I’m Canadian but I don’t like beer,  hockey, maple syrup, Beaver Tails and I DON’T DO WINTER.  I’m still waiting for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch on and kick me out of the country….

Tomorrow I start anew.  And, again, I am excited. There are changes happening within me that are good.  Despite falling back to old habits in the past two weeks, they DIDN’T make me feel good, they made the downward spiral worse.  Tonight, I had a sprout-based salad and raw cucumbers for supper and instantly I felt happy cells pinging.  My taste buds screamed “Oh yah, that’s what I’m talking about!” and I realized that my body, all of my body: brain, senses, cells, had been loving the wealth of health I had been feeding it before I slipped.

So onward, but this time it feels like I’m going back to what feels right, not what is hard and challenging (like it had felt before).

I also made the commitment and bought the Excalibur dehydrator.  Along with it, I bought another book to pour over that has more recipes that I am really enjoying.  It is called “Uncooking With RawRose” (click the name to see it) and I bought it from RawNutrition.ca which has been an amazing resource site for me.  When I can’t find what I’m looking for anywhere else (locally), they have it.

Like I said, the RawRose book has quite a few recipes I’m excited to try.  I have already made her granola and I simply love it.  I have a double batch on the go right now.  It’s base is soaked flax, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sprouted buckwheat groats, shredded coconut, cinnamon, dates and apples, and I added pineapple and chopped raw peanuts to the mix this time.

Because I kind of blew it these past two weeks, this will be a shorter post.  Just wanted to assure you that I haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth.  Nope, just buried my flu and self pity in a large french fries and pizza.

Just to show I wasn’t a TOTAL slacker these past two weeks….here are a few pictures….

Made the Raw Lemon Lavender Macaroons I mentioned in my last post.  Here they are! And they were amazing.  CLICK HERE to get the recipe.

Lemon Lavender Macaroons.

Lemon Lavender Macaroons.

And I was on the quest for the thinnest cracker that wasn’t all onion.  FOUND ONE!  Click here!

Finnegan admiring how thin that cracker is.

Finnegan admiring how thin that cracker is.

And remember my ‘nudge nudge, wink  wink‘ about Maca and how I thought it must be some inside joke with Raw Foodists because I could never find any?  It came in!  I got it!  Now to integrate it into my daily smoothie to see if I notice any kind of difference in my energy levels….

IT'S REAL!  IT EXISTS!! Whoop!!  Bought the wrong one though:  this one is "gelatinized"  and not the "raw".  At $35 a bag....close enough.  I'll use this one until it's done, then get the raw one next time around.

IT’S REAL! IT EXISTS!! Whoop!! Bought the wrong one though: this one is “gelatinized” and not the “raw”. At $35 a bag….close enough. I’ll use this one until it’s done, then get the raw one next time around.

And the new granola.  This batch uses the gold flax, last batch I used the brown.  I have cranberries dehydrating at the moment – they’ll be plunked into the NEXT batch.  It’s THAT good.  No added sugars, either.

Golden flax and so much more.  Once it is partially dried, it gets broken up....

Golden flax and so much more. Once it is partially dried, it gets broken up….

And my closing note:  tried one more time to make the perfect salt and vinegar potato chip and I just don’t like them.  All I taste is potato starch.  They’re icky.  So I guess I better see what all the fuss is about with Kale Chips instead.  Any recommendations for an amazing recipe?  Are they crunchy? 

Until next time….

You put the dates in the coconut, and eat them all up….


First off, HELLO to the United States and Australia!  I see I have readers from this far away and I find it exciting!  My Canadian city just got its first snow of the season today.  It’s going to be impossible to find local produce for the next few months.

Oh man, did I ever have fun in the kitchen this evening!  Just two quick experiments to bide some time while my nuts were soaking, both a success and scrumpdillyicious (it’s a word because I say it’s a word)…..

Before I get to the food, I have to post in big bold letters that ALL of the staff at Kardish in Orleans are incredibly friendly and helpful, but I want to send an ultra-loud shout-out to Yvonne, who has answered every question, helped me find what I’m looking for, makes suggestions, and is a wealth of information about everything in the store, and then some…. THANK YOU Yvonne!

First, I was tempted by the sentence “when you are craving sweet stuff…” in Carol Alt’s recipe book.  Just so happens, I DO crave sweet stuff from time-to-time.  Go figure.  So I made coconut date rolls.

So easy, too!  I halved the recipe, so took 2 cups of medjool dates (approximately 13), halved them and pitted them, and soaked them for an hour.  Then I put them in my blender with a food processing blade (although I think  a regular blade would also work), put in half a cup of non-sweetened shredded coconut, and pulsed the blender, frequently having to stop it to push the mixture down, until it was of a thick paste consistency.  Then I rolled into 2 inch logs, rolled those in some more of the coconut, and VOILA!  Done.  These can be frozen, but I had to eat one immediately…..a few expletives escaped my mouth, most of them conjuring several deities whom I thanked for the simple, but most amazing, date.

Coconut date rolls, destined for the freezer. Kicks the butt of any commercial chocolate bar out there.

Next in the kitchen was an intentional experiment:  Zucchini noodles.  I thought it was high-time I tried my spiral slicer, and I want to get an idea of how long a ‘noodled’ soft vegetable will keep (to my standards.  I read about people doing all their meal prep for the week on a Sunday.  I cannot imagine eating something on a Friday that I cooked 5 days previous (and I am certain most of these folks aren’t freezing their concoctions).  I turn green and up-chuck at the thought.  I blame a serious bought of food poisoning for my hyper-picky opinions in this regard).  So I want to see how long these noodles will keep…

I used this….

Spiral slicer with the small noodle blade installed….

To turn this….

Yellow zucchini ensconced on the slicer.

Into this!

Yellow zucchini noodles!

I’m pretty sure I yelled out loud “OMG, that was SO FUN!”  Just on their own, they taste really great.  But to be tested, I can’t eat them all, I have to store them.  I separated them into two containers.  I put an olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar dressing on one, and left the other one naked, and put them in the fridge.  I’ll now check them out  over the next couple days to see how long it takes (sauced and naked) before they are too soft or slimy for me to consume.  The reason why this is all so important is because I’m trying to figure out what I’ll be able to take for lunches,  when I have to do prep, etc.  In short, it’ll help me plan and succeed in the new year when I make my concerted effort to be 80% raw.

Now.  I would love some suggestions.  Tell me what you think would be an amazing raw meal:  a breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Please post here….