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Have you noticed that there is a whole new crop of health enthusiasts that have just said no to grains? Not only has the gluten-free craze become all the rage, carb-free, and grain-free diets are becoming more common. If you’re scratching your head wondering how in the heck eating grain-free is possible, I’ll break it down further for you. To get rid of grains you must eliminate all grains including wheat, rice, corn, millet, barley and oats. This type of diet can be helpful and provide relief for some chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue, or just the overall feeling of being weighed down by your diet. Quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat are exceptions because they are not technically considered grains. All that said, my policy is listen to your body. Perhaps certain grains need to go on your do not touch with a ten foot pole list, and others can be regular staples in your diet.
If you are living la vida 100% raw I’m sure you crossed most grains off your grocery list, with the exception of those that you can soak or sprout in their unprocessed form. After years of avoiding processed foods and carbs, my body generally has a strong aversion to grains especially in large quantities. So when I received a packet of millet in the mail from my Master’s program, I was excited to try it but worried it may aggravate my system. The good news is, it didn’t, which I consider a good sign. Millet looks similar to cous cous and has a nutty grainy texture like quinoa but takes much longer to cook than the latter. It is an ancient food that has been a staple for thousands of years in India and Africa and was even mentioned in the Bible as a primary ingredient for bread. Millet was the world’s first cereal grain and can be used in some sweet breakfast recipes like muffins, or simply as a rice substitute for more savory dishes.
If you do eat grains and want something you can add to dishes that packs a mean nutritional punch, millet is a great option. Not only is it comprised of around 15% protein, it is a great source of fiber, B-complex vitamins like niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin E. Add to that iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium, and you’ll have an excellent side dish or entree that adds more nutrients than your rice ever will. -XoXo Raw Girl
Did you know that the average American eats an average of 142 pounds of sugar per year? Keeping this in mind makes it easy to understand why diabetes has become such an epidemic. Living with pre-diabetes and diabetes is a delicate issue and much care has to be taken to change lifestyle choices and consume sugars that have little to no effect on the blood sugar level to avoid aggravating the condition. The great news is there are a decent variety of natural sweeteners that do not aggravate blood sugar, and in some cases actually prevent tooth decay or repair tooth enamel. Within the natural sweetener world some substitutes have a lower glycemic index than refined sugar, such as agave nectar or birch syrup, but still may not be suitable for pre-diabetics or diabetics. The best course of action is to use sweeteners that have no effect on the blood sugar. Here’s a list of four sweeteners you can try that fit that criteria:
- Stevia. Not so long ago this leafy herb was completely unheard of. Now you can find it in most grocery stores in powdered or liquid form. Stevia has no calories, will not spike blood sugar levels, and its’ extract is considered 100-300 times sweeter than white sugar.
- Birch Sugar or Xylitol. This sugar substitute is a naturally occurring alcohol made from tree fibers and occurs naturally in fruits and mushrooms. Xylitol is sweet to the taste like sugar but it does not cause tooth decay. In fact, it actually reduces levels of decay-causing bacteria in saliva.
- Chicory Root. This natural sweetener is the root of a perennial herb, and has no calories. Not only will consuming chicory not spike your blood sugar levels; it decreases levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, contains vitamin C a powerful antioxidant, supports detoxification of the body via the liver and kidneys, and serves as a prebiotic which feeds and promotes growth of good bacteria in the gut.
- Erythritol. This sugar alcohol is made by fermenting the natural sugar found in corn. It has no calories, will not raise blood sugar, and no carcinogenic properties. In addition erythritol is very easy to digest and is considered an antioxidant, which helps the body to fight freed radicals and reduce the signs of aging.
Sugar alcohols should not be confused with artificial sweeteners. Part of their structure resembles sugar and the other looks like an alcohol. They are used are sugar substitutes because they do not cause tooth decay, feed candida or fungal infections, and convert to glucose more slowly in the body and do not require much insulin to metabolize. When consuming sugar alcohols some people may experience uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating or diarrhea, so it’s important to not consume in excess. Hopefully these options give you a few places to begin finding the best sugar substitute for you. If you do not have diabetes or any related conditions, there are many other natural sweeteners you can try including indulging on good, plain old fruit. If you or anyone you know is dealing with diabetes I also highly recommend you watch “Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days,” for inspiration. It’s a documentary that chronicles the treatment and reversal of diabetes over the span of 30 days using a 100% organic raw vegan diet. –XoXo Raw Girl
For more on diabetes check out this past post: Natural Cures: Bitter Melon for Diabetes
It’s wonderful how something you didn’t even know you needed can show up in your experience and feed your soul. This past weekend I got an impromptu invite to attend Goddess On The Go in downtown LA and I am so glad I answered the call. The gathering happens several times a year here in Los Angeles, New York, and Detroit, and was created by Leora Edut to forge healing and community among strong, passionate, powerful women. The mission and vision driving Goddess On The Go is that every woman on the planet lives her best life. Designed as a day long retreat, the event gives any “goddess” the time and space to connect with other women, check in with herself, release any blocks that need healing, and reaffirm intentions for the future. Through classes, talks, and communion with other women a sacred space is created that can lead to empowerment, self-transformation, and AHA moments. The day included a Kundalini yoga class, a talk and mini-workshop on sensuality, an astrology recap, dancing, and really awesome raw vegan fare including lunch and dessert.
Beyond meeting a bunch of incredible and inspiring women, some of my favorite moments were the kundalini yoga class, and meeting one half of the dynamic AstroTwins duo, as I read their horoscopes via Elle, religiously. If you’ve never checked out their scopes, you’re missing out because they are well written, witty, and always have a positive angle while remaining spot on with the current planetary energy. The food was certified delicious and provided courtesy of The Springs LA, a wellness hub and restaurant coming soon to downtown LA that will serve 100% raw vegan cuisine, offer yoga, and holistic treatments. Overall the the event was cathartic and left me feeling full to the brim spiritually; I highly recommend it for any woman who is going through a transition, needs a break from their daily grind, or is just looking for something different that may spark some inspiration. To get more information about the next Goddess On The Go or find out about dates in other cities visit: http://goddess-onthego.com/.
During the month of August my fasting regimen went to another level. If you follow this blog by now you know I am a big fan of fasting on fresh vegetable juices which immediately boosts your complexion, rids the body of excess toxins, and can in general give you your groove back. Well, last month was the first time I tried water fasting. Which consists of drinking, you got it, only water all day. I actually chose to drink both coconut water and water and conducted the fasts for no more than three days at a time. Water fasting to me always seemed too extreme, as it does require more of a slow down in your normal activities. With any fast you should slow down if not eliminate all of your hectic schedule so that you actually have time to go within and rest. This need increases tenfold with a water fast, because the healing reactions can be more aggressive, or you may feel fatigued as the body goes into fasting mode. Water fasting for longer periods like 14-40 Days should never be conducted alone; there are facilities that you can enter to go through those longer term fasts in which doctors will monitor your levels throughout and you will be in an atmosphere of complete rest. Many ailments have been reversed with these longer water fasts, simple because they body got an opportunity to reset. For more on this check out the interview at the end of this post, which features two doctors who promote water fasting for health and have healed numerous conditions in their facilities. Some benefits of water fasting include:
- Physical and spiritual healing
- Detox, eliminates toxins from organs, skin, glands
- Strengthens immune system because of break from food; restores stronger immune response
- Scientifically proven to increase lifespan; studies have shown that restricted diets lead to a longer life
- Prevents the onset of degenerative mental diseases
- Improves brain f(x), mental clarity, and ability to focus
- Induces an anti-inflammatory response that helps to heal arthritis in muscles, joints
- Ancient tradition that has healing minor health issues along with more serious chronic ailments
- Increases metabolism; promotes weight loss
- Drastically improves mind over body will power; and portion control
- Increases energy in some cases as energy is diverted from digestive process
- Deepens connection with spirit and nature
After working diligently for the past few months, a release date has been set for my third e-book Thrive on VEG! The book will be available on October 15, 2014. I’m ecstatic to share it with you, because it is the resource that I wish I had when I was embarking on a plant-based lifestyle. The goal of the book is to give a simple overview of the many variations of a plant-based diet, discuss the health benefits going VEG can offer, key nutrients needed to stay optimal, tips and tools for transitioning, how to set up your plant based kitchen, and recipes so that you can begin your journey immediately. Thank you so much to all of the readers who have asked questions that prompted the idea for this book! Below I’ve included the Table of Contents so you can get a sneak peak at what topics are covered. My most recent draft of Thrive on VEG! is currently 75 pages, but I anticipate the final draft may end up being somewhere around 100 pages packed full of great information, delicious vegan and raw recipes (will be printable), and inspiring insights for anyone interested or curious about a plant-based lifestyle.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
i. What is a Plant-Based Diet?
ii. Levels of Plant Based Diet
iii. How to Thrive on a Plant Based Diet
iv. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Plant Eaters
v. Benefits of Plant Based Diet
vi. How to Transition
vii. Setting Up a Plant Based Kitchen
viii. Plant Cuisine Seasoning & Substitution Tips
To pre-order your copy click the button below. The first ten people to order their copy in advance will receive a Free 15 Minute Health Consultation via phone with yours truly! All buyers will receive their e-book via the email provided on October 15th, 2014.
Hybrid foods are foods that would not occur in nature, are unnaturally high in sugar and low in minerals. They would not occur in nature because they have no seeds or are cross-bred to create an altered plant with new perhaps “better” qualities. Plants that evolved in nature, wildly grown, have a built-in capacity to withstand environmental conditions, fungi, and other things that compete for their life force whereas hybrid foods do not. For instance did you know that bananas are supposed to have seeds? So are grapes and watermelons. That is the way nature designed them. There are now so many variations of hybrid foods it’s hard to know what is real food and what is not. When you consume too much hybridized fruit sugar or sugar from seedless hybrid fruits such as bananas, grapes, oranges, pineapple, watermelon the excess sugar can over stimulate the endocrine system, cause constipation, and start the process of leeching essential minerals like calcium from the body. This is of even greater concern when you combine large amounts of hybrid fruit sugars with a diet that consists of lots of starchy cooked vegetables. Common hybrid vegetables include beets, carrots, corn, tomatoes, and potatoes. If you think you may be guilty of eating a lot of starch and sweet hybrid foods, to find a balance be sure to rotate your food choices, and incorporate non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower etc.
Although I have heard many health conscious individuals preach about avoiding hybrids, I’ve never been too keen on it myself. Why? Sometimes it really does get exhausting adding to the long list of foods you CANNOT eat. So if you are reading this and having a mini-freak out about another toxic thing to cross of your list, take a beep breath. At the end of the day it’s just useful information to consider and there is always a way to strike a balance between cautious choices and fanaticism. When you can find access to non-hybrid versions of the food you love take full advantage of it, but if not always take care to find the best quality food possible. -XoXo Raw Girl
Did you know you can juice melons? In this recipe you can try honeydew melon or cantaloupe, they both will work. Melons in general are great for alkalinizing the body because of their high water content. They are a great addition to your diet if you are trying to lose weight, keep your skin clear, stay hydrated, or just get your daily fruit and veg. -XoXo Raw Girl
Cucumber Melon Cooler
2 Large English Cucumbers
1/4 -1/3 Cantaloupe
Juice, Strain, Enjoy!
We all have bad skin days every now and then, but in order to maintain healthy glowing skin most of the time, it’s necessary to frequently engage in rituals that show your face some tender loving care. A great way to do so is by booking spa time and getting a facial that can help suck dirt out of your pores and leave you with a firmer more radiant complexion. In the event that you either don’t have time or the extra cash for a spa session, here’s a simple do it yourself facial that incorporates some food ingredients you may already have lying around your kitchen. For more great skin tips and recipes to support detox check out my e-book The Acne-Free Diet, which includes a 3 day detox, and my 7 Day Detox for Beauty, Weightloss & Rejuvenation. -XoXo Raw Girl
1) Cleanse your face. Start the process with clean skin, using whatever cleanser you normally like for your daily skincare regimen.
2) Prepare a bentonite clay mask with apple cider vinegar. Apply the mask and let sit for 5-10 minutes or until dry. Bentonite clay can be used topically on the skin to heal acne, eczema, wounds, or insect bites and specified brands can also be taken internally to assist with healing anything from heavy metal poisoning, food allergies, food poisoning, mucus colitis, spastic colitis, digestive disorders, viral infections, stomach flu, parasites, stomach ulcers, diarrhea, arthritis, anemia, and more. This miraculous clay has been used by indigenous people since the dawn of time, and even animals in the wild have been observed eating the clay or rolling in it to heal wounds. It gets its name from Benton, Wyoming because although bentonite clay can be found throughout the world, the largest concentrations of it actually are in the Great Plains in the U.S. So how exactly does it work? Well, the clay itself has a negative electrical charge. When it absorbs water it expands and becomes like a porous sponge. Toxins and impurities have a positive charge, so they are drawn to the clay and bound. This obviously makes for an effective home skin treatment that will leave your face feeling so fresh and so clean. If you are experiencing a break out, this mask will do wonders and can even be used as on-the-spot treatment to shrink pimples overnight. You can find the clay at health food stores, vitamin shops, or online. Want to make the clay more effective? Use apple cider vinegar to mix your mask instead of water.
3) Exfoliate and hydrate your skin with a honey scrub. Following your bentonite clay mask the skin can feel a little dry. Honey is an antibacterial natural moisturizer and humectant which has the ability to pull moisture from the air and retain it. I find it’s best to use wild organic honey. To exfoliate and hydrate at the same time try preparing a mask with honey, oats, and a wedge of lemon or honey, raw sugar, and lemon. The use of oats or sugar will help exfoliate, while the lemon is great for exfoliation, toning, fighting acne, and anti-aging due to the vitamin C content which is instrumental in the bodies’ production of collagen. Gently apply scrub to skin and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Rinse, moisturize, and bask in your newfound glow.
1. Embrace Moderation. We all have our vices. For some it may be sugars, refined carbs and flours, or salt. If you’re a raw foodist, you may need to chill on the nuts. Moderation is about overcoming the urge to binge eat or overeat any one thing, no matter how great it is for you. Our bodies desperately need diversity in our diets in order to function optimally and our digestive systems always work better when we know and listen to the voice that says: “Put the fork down.”
2. Don’t Preach to the Choir. I know you are super excited about your new raw, vegan, or macrobiotic lifestyle but that doesn’t mean you have to go around proselytizing it like an evangelist. One size doesn’t necessarily fit all; our bodies are so varied and so it’s always more attractive and better for your blood pressure levels if you avoid debating whose diet is the best over dinner. The best persuasion: gracing others with your energetic presence and letting them come to you with questions about how you get your all-natural glow on.
3. Be a DIVA. Generally we can be discouraged from having standards because it makes us look like, well, DIVAS. But if your mission is to be energized most of the time, there are certain things you should not except as acceptable food. Drink lots of pure or energized water. Find the freshest organic produce available. Just say no to GMOs. If you eat non-organic fruit from time to time it won’t kill you, but if you minimize this or at least avoid the fruits and vegetables in the “dirty dozen,” it’ll keep your body from being loaded with yet another toxin in the form of pesticides.
4. Practice Adequate Additional Supplementation. B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, iron, sulfur, and biotin are all extremely important in bodies’ process of converting our food to energy. It’s important to consume whole food sources and super foods that contain these nutrients and also find high quality supplements you can take to ensure daily optimal nutrition.
5. Live La Vida Toxin-Free. Nowadays, there are a million and one ways to “cleanse.” Heavy metal cleanses, parasite cleanses, colon cleanses, liver flushes, you name it and you can find it in your local health food store. These are all great from time to time if your body is out of balance or you need to address a pressing health concern. But a veteran health enthusiast knows that having daily lifestyle practices really can boost his or her health that extra mile like: shower filters, regular juicing or fasting, avoiding products with chemicals. Engaging in regular cleansing of the colon, the bodies’ sewage system, is a must for staying healthy and avoiding chronic diseases. There is so much toxicity in our world today so it’s important to stay well informed and then take whatever little steps you are comfortable with that keep you toxin-free. Even if it’s just biting the bullet and throwing out any toxic cleaning and beauty supplies in your bathroom.
6. Get Off The Couch. Just in case you missed the memo, research has show that those who love to move their bodies are around nine years younger than their non-exercising counterparts. Fitness King, Jack LaLanne, who stayed active into his nineties once said: “Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.” If you are a highly effective health enthusiast you know that staying at the top of your game means that you must refuse to neglect your workout regimen. Worse case scenario you fall off every now and then, but you always find yourself back in the gym, at the yoga studio, or on the trail with renewed commitment because you love the payoff in vitality.
7. Insist on Beauty Sleep. Sleep is another precious commodity we undervalue in our culture. We are obsessed with “grinding” to get ahead and often sacrifice much needed R&R for promotions. Effective health enthusiasts are willing to get a little gangsta about their sleep. Lights off, phone off, and do not disturb signs will be used if necessary. Adequate amounts of rest and relaxation always lead to a more productive, happier version of you. Not only does sleep affect performance, learning retention, and brain functioning, sleep plays a major role in boosting our immunity, weight loss, and preventing the onset of many diseases. The best way to get adequate sleep is to attempt as much as possible to stick to a sleep schedule and go to bed and wake up around the same time daily.
-XoXo Raw Girl