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I hate the gym y’all. No really, I do. Lately I have preferred pilates and yoga to being in a gym environment. But beginning in August, I added a weight training gym routine back into my routine. Why? I started to feel like my body needed it, and boy was I right. A couple years ago, I wrote about how a check up with a trainer shocked the heck out of me! In that session I found out that my body fat percentage was literally that of an obese person even though I am tall and lean. My percentage was above the healthy range, and at the time all I was doing for exercise was a whole lot of yoga. Learning this prompted me to get serious about adding weight training to my routine. When your body fat percentage is above the normal range it can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and host of other not so pleasant conditions.
Fast forward to August of this year, I popped into the gym the first week for a check up and this time, my body fat percentage was in the healthy range (YAY!) but at the high end of the healthy range (Meh.) It had lowered 3-4% points. I was happy it was normal, but determined again to see it drop further. These visits caused me to do a little more digging—-it seems that our body fat percentage can give us a little more information than even BMI about how our health is doing and potential risk for disease. This weeks healthy action is for you to find a body fat percentage scale at your local gym and find out where you stand on the spectrum. If you are high, at least you’ll be aware and able to start changing up your workout routine now to get back in the healthy range. It’s November now and I wanted to give myself three months of consistent training before my next check up. I’ll report back soon with my latest results. -Xo Raw Girl
For the next couple of months I’m completely immersed in the study of micronutrients, also known as the yummy minerals and vitamins your body needs to function optimally. So I’ll be posting some articles to shed a little more light on micronutrients, and perhaps get you thinking about supplementing with food or at the very least ensuring you are getting in your daily multivitamin. Macronutrients are the essential dietary staples the average person worries about ie: fats, carbs, and protein. However micronutrients are so incredibly essential that deficiency in certain ones can literally stop hundreds of necessary chemical reactions in the body! The danger of talking about micronutrients in isolation is that we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture. Your body needs a wide-range of nutritional goodies to keep you functioning at your best, so please do not take the focus of these articles as a sign to start supplementing in excess one particular nutrient. It’s important to get regular blood testing with a doctor to ensure you are not deficient in key minerals or vitamins your body needs.
Are you aware that iron deficiency is not only the most common deficiency in the United States, it’s actually the most common deficiency worldwide? Which means most of the people you know including the man in the mirror, may be iron deficient. Iron serves as a catalyst for many redox reactions in the body, is important for energy metabolism, oxygen delivery, oxygen transport and storage, and even DNA synthesis. It is essential for exercise and athletic endurance/performance because of its role in oxygen delivery. Female athletes or those that are endurance runners or participate in a mix of anaerobic and aerobic activities are more likely to need additional iron because of menstruation. Sorry ladies! Unfortunately because “Aunt Flow” comes to visit us every month we lose more iron than our male counterparts. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron for men 19-50 years of age is 8 mg and for women in the same age range is 18 mg. If you are vegan or vegetarian you also may need 1.8 times more iron than your meat-eating friends.
How do you know if you should supplement? Symptoms of iron deficiency can include: fatigue, increased heart rate, palpitations, impaired exercise and work capacity, pica (you know those people who love to chew on ice?), spoon shaped nails, and more. The thing about iron supplementation as you may well know is that it can cause constipation, nausea, abdominal pain and host of uncomfortable side effects. So for those that are physically active it may be best to ensure you are getting more iron from your diet and not from an over the counter supplement. When you increase iron consumption also keep in mind that vitamin C actually helps to increase iron absorption, while oxalates (found beets, spinach, etc.), calcium, and manganese can inhibit or decrease the absorption of iron. This is what makes pomegranates an iron supplying superfood, they have a rich source of vitamin C and iron the perfect combination to make sure the iron is absorbed by your body. Below are some great food sources of iron. If you are anemic, you should consult your doctor and ensure you supplement but do not overdose on the amount you need to get your levels back up to normal. -XO Raw Girl
Some great VEG food sources of (non-heme) iron include: quinoa, legumes: lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo, pinto, tofu, soybeans, soy milk, tempeh, fortified cereals, cacao, Nuts and seeds: cashews, pumpkin, pistachio, almonds, peanuts, sunflower, sesame, tomatoes, swiss chard, collard greens, kale, spinach, black strap molasses, dried figs, raisins, pomegranates, whole grains, cacao.
Zimmerman, M. (2001). Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition. Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease. New York, NY: Thieme.
Alauntye, I., Stojceska, V. & Plunkett, A. (2015). Iron and the female athlete: a review of dietary treatment methods for improving iron status and exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 38. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31829a6f6b.
WebMD: Foods High in Oxalates
A lot of people on the raw path have mentioned to me the pressure they feel to be 100% raw. My philosophy after being 100% for a long while and then shifting to around 90% or more on a given day depending on how I feel and where I am is that YOU should do YOU. Follow your bliss. Healthy living shouldn’t ever be strained or stressful. If you find yourself focused on trying to maintain dietary restrictions and it’s causing you drama, by all means necessary allow yourself more freedom. A lot of people can attest to the fact that there is something wonderful and even somewhat magical about being in the 100% raw zone, but anyone can get massive benefits just by incorporating more raw foods into their diet. The only way you can know it for sure, is to go for it! Check out below an inspirational post from my buddy Aiya, creator of Black Vegan Love who is currently on a 100% raw fast. -XoXo Raw Girl
When I first learned about a raw food diet in 2007 I was reluctant to try it. Being vegan with so many dietary exclusions (due to many many food allergies) was already difficult at the time, but to limit my diet even more?? I didn’t think I could do it. But nonetheless, my BFF Olayinka and I aimed to try it for at least a month. We had such an amazing healing experience, we ended up doing 100% rawfor 8 months. I even stayed raw during a trip to Paris (that ish was definitely a test of my will, with all their amazing culinary preparations lol).
I gotta be real with you though…
The first few weeks were a nightmare for me. I went through a detox to end all detoxes. I was tired all the time and had to virtually camp out beside the toilet. This lasted 3 full weeks. But after that first month passed something started to happen. I actually started to feel good. Not just kinda good, really really good! Like the best I’d ever felt in my life!
I felt blissful and light, my nose finally stopped running (was a problem since I was a child), I stopped needing to take asthma medicine. The occasional headaches I had disappeared. Menstrual cycles no longer were a problem. My overall energy increased. My stomach aches went away. Skin cleared up. My indoor and outdoor allergies became a thing of the past. And I became regular like nobody’s business (lmao, sorry had to go there lol).
Here’s a list of the foods that I couldn’t eat (since childhood) before going raw. All of which I could eat (and still can eat) afterwards.
Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, split peas, lentils, chickpeas, pineapple, and a gagillion more!
To me it was nothing short of a miracle. I started tripping out over the prospect. Food can do this!?! Why didn’t anyone tell me this before!?! Who else knows about this? Lol.
This is why I have maintained an 80% raw diet since then, while always aiming for 100%.
But don’t take my word for it. Nothing to it but to do it!!
To learn more about Aiya, check out and like her page on Facebook: Black Vegan Love.
It’s about that time…Raw Girl needs a makeover, and I need your help to make it happen. Some of you may remember how excited I was about the new website?! Well, I ran into some serious technical difficulties, and was left without a functioning site after coughing up a nice chunk of money. My vision for Raw Girl is to keep expanding and in order to that I need to move this lovely blog off of the wordpress.com platform. I would like to add more video, downloadable products, skincare, podcasting and more.
For the past three going on four years this blog has been a complete labor of love. If you have been informed, inspired, enriched, or led to any sort of AHA moment, please support this campaign! All of the perks I am offering are all new products, including a mini juice & smoothie book with new recipes, mp3’s, and a 14 Day Parasite Cleanse. Because it is a fixed campaign, if I don’t reach my goal, you get 100% of your money back. Check out the video below, and to visit the campaign and DONATE, CLICK HERE: Raw Girl’s Indiegogo Campaign. Every single dollar counts, THANK YOU for giving what you can. ~ XoXo Raw Girl
Here’s a sneak peek of some of the elements that will be in the new site, the design will change but this will give you a decent idea:
At first glance cabbage can seem like a boring vegetable. We tend to take it for granted or perhaps think of it as only good when we are in the mood for coleslaw or as a topping on a prepackaged salad, but this veggie packs enough nutrition to earn some respect. First off you can get serious benefits for your gut health and nutrition by eating it steamed, raw, or fermented in the forms of saeurkraut or kimchi. There are many ways to skin and season a cabbage, and most of them are pretty tasty. Cabbage belongs to the brassica family also known as cruciferous veggies which include gangsta greens like broccoli and kale. This leafy veggie has a nutritional profile that includes vitamins A,C,E, B1, B2, B6, folic acid, calcium, sulfur, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and trace amounts of iron, copper, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Full of dietary fiber and antioxidants, cabbage can prevent cancer, is generally anti-inflammatory, and can boost your immunity because of it’s vitamin C content. If you are watching your waistline you never have to worry about cabbage. It will actually assist you with weight loss because it is low in calories, cleanses the stomach and intestines, relieves constipation, and stimulates the digestive system. If you are dealing with acne, parasites, candida or other digestive woes, fermented cabbage can change your life because it’ll give your body a super power dose of probiotics that will allow good bacteria to thrive in your gut. If you are accustomed to only eating green cabbage I urge you to try the brother and sister varieties like red, savoy, and napa. Whatever way you choose to eat your cabbage, hopefully you now recognize that good old cabby is a little more than just a side dish or a topping; it’s got enough nutritional bang to serve as a main course. -XoXo Raw Girl
I’ve been doing this whole pseudo-raw foodist thing now for four years strong, and I’ve been vegan now for over ten years. One question that always seems to come up is how do you go the distance? Especially with raw foods it can be extremely daunting at times to stay on the path, because doing so is never what is most convenient. It would be way more convenient to shove your face with processed foods, meat, dairy, and everything else widely available and cheap in our toxic world, but if we did, we would loose our sexy vegan badges quick! Besides that along with convenience comes bad skin, sour moods, and maybe even the inconvenience of a very large hospital bill years later. What you eat catches up with you. To help you stay on the sexy and raw track below I’ve listed some tips that I hope may be useful to you.
Don’t be a Raw Natzi. There are so many people out there preaching the gospel of raw like it’s a religion, and the best one at that. Please don’t let yoursellf turn into one of those preachy people. Nobody likes a Raw Evangelist anymore that they like Jehovah witnesses pounding down their doors every single day. I find the best way to make an impression on people with any ideology is to live it, not preach it. When you are preaching it a lot of times you are even trying to convince yourself. There is much more power in just doing your thing, and not feeling the need to impose your beliefs on others.
Release The Obsession With Being 100% Raw. It’s really funny how no matter who you chat with if you say you are a raw foodist they eagerly chime in “Are you 100%?” Please do not stress about this! At the end of the day your goal should be to be the healthiest version of you by any means necessary. When you are just starting just keep eliminating foods one at a time and keep increasing your amounts of raw foods. Maybe you’ll wake up one day and realize, that you are 100% raw and have no cravings for cooked food. Or perhaps you’ll end up eating 80%-90% raw foods and some cooked food and feel awesome! We all know there are benefits to eating raw and of course those benefits increase the more you eat that way, but you can be optimal without it. So, relax, please, and enjoy the process of adding living foods to your diet.
Find your SHE-ROES/ HEROS. This is something that always helps me get back on track. You don’t have to personally know a raw foodist who can mentor you or “show you the ropes” so to speak, but you can find online and through research stories of incredible people walking the path. Part of why I have the SHE-RO section on this blog is that the women I feature all inspire me to stick with it so I can see the same awesome results that they are experiencing long term. Watching a video on Annette Larkins, for example, always immediately makes me up my raw game. It’s visible proof of what is possible for you. Find those go to people and tap into their stories whenever you are feeling weak or you have fallen off the path. If other people’s stories don’t work, think about putting a visible reminder of your personal reasons for going raw on your fridge or in your kitchen. It’s all about staying in touch with your motivation long term.
Get Your Nutritional Balance Act Together. It took me a whole year of being 100% raw when I first started to realize something was starting to be out of whack with my body. The major problem was that I was not supplementing B12 and I was not eating enough superfoods to ensure well rounded nutrition. This is incredibly important. When you are doing any diet/lifestyle right, your body is getting the nutrients that it needs which makes you in turn less susceptible to craving the bad stuff you left behind.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare in Advance. If you really expect to have any success being raw and not immediately give in to cravings that come up on a whim, you need to be prepared. This is not a fly by the seat of your pants kind of diet. If you know you are going on a road trip and you pack nothing, guess what, you will be cranky, and your stomach will be growling the whole way. If you are making more elaborate raw meals, which can be fun, you need to soak things sometimes days in advance or at the very least one day. Think through your schedule every day to make sure you are never stranded without raw rations. This will save you from caving in and eating fast food or whatever processed junk is at the only convenience store you can find.
Don’t Get Hung Up on Gourmet Meals. If you are just starting out I think its awesome to experiment and create some of the more gourmet raw meals that take a great deal of time. You may start doing it and fall in love with preparing food and have the time to do it. If you are a busy body like myself, please don’t feel bad that you are not feeling up to being Raw Rachel Ray today. Go easy and have meals that are quick but pack a strong nutritional punch like smoothies, sprouts, super foods, and power-packed salads. Then when you get a little breather time you can always make something more elaborate or take your sexy vegan self out to a nice raw restaurant and experience the bliss that is gourmet raw foods.
Surround Yourself With Positive Energy. This is definitely crucial. You do not want to be in an environment where people are intentionally or maliciously trying to keep you from sticking to your raw plan! It is already tough enough to commit to a raw diet, Lord knows you don’t need additional help falling off. When you begin this path, your family and friends may not understand, that is typical. Its up to you to gradually get more comfortable in your reasons for sticking to your diet, (you may want to start rehearsing a “Where do you get your protein speech”), and also ensure that you take care of yourself at social gatherings. Bring something with you to eat, or make something over the holidays so you won’t be starving. You’ll be surprised, some family members may end up eating more off of your plate. -XoXo Raw Girl
So let’s say your goal is to lose weight? For whatever reason: health concerns, vanity, comfort….I get asked this quite often. Your thinking that putting yourself on a “vegan diet” may help you reach your goal. You are right and wrong. Our world is so consumed with fad diets and quick fixes, and if you’re approaching veganism as a diet, you’re going to fall into the same trap as all the Weight Watchers fanatics of our world. I think we need to shift the way we think about weight and dieting. For lasting change, we need a lifestyle change, not a diet. You need to take the time to get in tune with your own body and discover what fruits and veggies you love and try new ones! Everyone wants the quick fix and for someone to tell you exactly what is right for you to eat. I think that takes the beauty out of the journey of learning to eat consciously, a journey that allows you to really get in tune with how your body responds to certain foods and also experimenting and expanding your food choices.
When I think about weight…I think WASTE. People find that the more that they eat fresh vegetables and fruits, the “weight” just falls off. Why? Because you are literally flushing your system out, and you are eating foods that are high in water content and fiber as well as lovely nutrients. Over time, if you are eating this way you may hit a plateau and then changing up your workout routine and challenging your body fitness-wise will help you break through that. What I tell people who are eating everything and anything from meat to processed foods, is to try taking the simple step of replacing big breakfasts with a green juice or smoothie and getting in a least one big salad a day. Want to up the ante a bit more, make that morning smoothie a power smoothie and add in some super food powers or a powder supplement that has a lot of nutrients. This gives your body time to process food from the day before in the morning, and jump starts your day!
Doing this will start to make you feel different. You will start to feel more energized and therefore make better food choices and have energy to spare to get back on a good exercise regimen. A good friend of mine in New York years back who was overweight took me up on this advice and when I saw him months later, I barely recognized him! For all the already mostly raw foodies, the only thing that can really add weight to your frame is eating a lot of nut heavy foods. Other than that, its pretty much a lifestyle that should naturally allow you to reach and maintain a healthy weight as long as you are getting enough variety of foods and nutrients.
At the end of the day, I think it’s always more important to focus on how you look and feel, rather than how much you weigh. My former trainer is a great example. This woman weighs more than me but is leaner and ten times stronger than I am by far. Working with her brought home the message that everyone, especially women need to embrace if they are looking to lose weight. Strength building and muscle-building are going to help you NOT hinder you. As you gain muscle you will be leaner, stronger, and burning more fat throughout the day. Now, I’m all about weight training at least 3-4 times a week, and my primary concern is what my body fat percentage is, not my weight.
The last point that is very important is a spiritual and psychological component. If you are overweight, you may have destructive eating habits that take the place of processing your emotions in a healthy way. This is nothing to ignore, because resolving these core emotional issues can be the catalyst to your transformation. Everything works from the inside out. Start within, don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself, and there’s no way you cannot reach your goal. –XoXo Raw Girl
It’s been gorgeous outside! When it starts to get warm I get in smoothie/juice mode, so I had a little fun in the sun and whipped up this papaya concotion. Has a very lovely and refreshing flavor. To make even cooler, add in some ice or freeze the berries before blending. – XoXo Raw Girl
1/4 large papaya, 1/2 mango, 1 banana, 8 strawberries, juice of 1 lemon
Cut up and put all ingredients in your blender and give it a whirl. Enjoy!
Fermented foods can do wonders for your health. When I first started on the raw path, I drank Rejuvelac religiously and within a month my skin went from acne ridden to clear as day. There are many benefits that come with consuming fermented foods, but the key is the good bacteria which promotes a health gut and can help keep our bodies parasite free and operating optimally. Check out the new article I wrote on fermented foods via the Suite 101 link below, and if you don’t already, seriously consider adding some of these dairy-free fermented foods in your diet:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
To read the full article visit: http://nutrition.suite101.com/article.cfm/promoting–maintaining-good-bacteria-in-the-gut
– XoXo Raw Girl