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If I had to profess my undying love to any particular fruit or veggie, it would be a hard call between avocados and coconuts. What is not to love about this amazing creamy fruit that can be combined with both sweet and more bitter meals. Plus I can make yogurt or pudding with it, smoothies, and add it to salads. Since I have long been rescued from the hell that is processed food addiction, I would say avocados do for me what ice cream or yogurt does for die hard dairy lovers. The creamy texture, literally makes my heart sing, and ears perk up when I hear someone say the lovely name avocado. Oh, and the joy of cutting one open and it being completely perfect! I could go on and on. I know I’m tripping, but I really love them that much. They are also on my list of aphrodisiacs, so perhaps (***clears throat and bats eyelashes***), avocados are exciting for me in more ways than one. For grown folks only: the name avocado comes from the Aztec word ‘ahuacatl’ which, um, literally, um, means testicle (I don’t like that word, hence the hesitation). I assume you can guess that avocados got the name from the way they look. So beyond just eating avocados, you also have the option to make some dirty jokes about them. LOL.
So what groovy benefits do you get from eating avocado, which is also known as ‘alligator pear’? Well, they happen to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet! Avocados contain 25 essential nutrients including vitamin A, B, C, E, K, copper, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, protein, phytochemicals, and fiber. You would actually need to eat at least two bananas to get the amount of potassium in one avocado. Avocados have a large fat content, almost twenty times the amount of fat in other fruits but they are extremely good-for-you monounsaturated fats. People often worry that because of this avocados will make you gain weight. Not the case, I’ll get to that in another post soon. If you eat avocados from Florida which are huge, note that they have 50% LESS fat than the Haas kind, so they are sort of the “low-fat” brand of avocados.
Onto the long list of fabulous things the wonderful fruit named avocado can do for you. Some key benefits include: maintains a healthy heart and reduce risk of heart disease, efficiently lowers bad cholesterol and can boost good cholesterol, helps to regulate blood pressure levels, has anti-inflammatory properties that help ward off inflammation related diseases, promotes eye health and prevents macular degeneration, regulates blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of stroke because of high levels of folate, protects against breast cancer and has been shown to inhibit prostate cancer, contains glutathione which fights free radicals in the body, boosts immune system, slows aging, and encourages a healthy nervous system. If all of those benefits alone were not a mouthful add to that the fact that avocados are known the world over for boosting the health and natural glow of your skin.
My challenge this week is: How many ways can you eat an avocado? While I go off to work on that, I hope you have now been convinced that avocados are an awesome food to add to your diet. As much as I would love to keep my love for them all to myself, I know there’s more than enough love to go around so you can count on me to continue spreading the gospel. -XoXo Raw Girl
Thank you so much to @ayibamag for including me in their print issue to chat health and my creative projects Check it out here: http://bit.ly/AyibaPrint
-XO Raw Girl
Spring is here and summer is right around the corner! We all associate spring with new life, beautiful buds beginning to bloom in the trees, and better weather. I’m sure you have also heard of the term “spring cleaning.” The thing about any kind of growth or new life is that is requires that we get rid of the old to make room for the new. As we move into this approaching new season, make some time to take stock in your own life.
Ask yourself: what personal objects are you holding onto that you no longer need? What associations whether personal or business should be release or transformed? Are there habits that are getting in the way of your success that you need to change? Take some time alone with yourself to journal about these things.
My background is primarily in the world of health and diet, but I believe that how we treat our bodies very much affects our mind and spirit. The equivalent of “spring cleaning” for the body is to take on a detox. Are you feeling sluggish or low energy? Is your skin dull or are you experiencing breakouts? It may be time for a detox. To cleanse the body there are many things you can try including 1) Juice Fasting, 2) Parasite Cleanse, 3) Partial Fast. With Juice Fasting or feasting you would consume fresh vegetable juice for 1-3 days maximum if you are a newbie to fasting in order to give the digestive system a break and allow the body to flush out toxins. A Parasite Cleanse involves taking herbs that you can find over the counter to rid the body of worms that may be sapping your nutrition, energy, and causing other health complications. Everyone should do regular yearly parasite cleansing as you can pick them up from contaminated water, pets, travel etc. On a partial fast, you can choose what food items you want to leave out of your diet and the duration. You could use the mornings to do juices or smoothies, and eliminate all meat or processed foods for a few days. It’s up to you.
I encourage you to think about it because as you release waste or toxins from body, your aura can open up. There’s a lightness that occurs and allows you to think clearer, receive Divine insight, and live your best, most energized life. When you combine a toxin-free body with the power of positive intention, magic can happen. Here’s to your incredible spring-cleaning experience and to all the amazing things that flood your life once you have the courage to release the old! -XO Raw Girl
Please raise your hand in solidarity if you are over buying seven dollar bags of kale chips from health food stores. If your hand is in the air like mine, this trail mix will change your life. If you have a dehydrator it’s always more efficient and cost effective to make your own raw snacks to carry with you on-the-go. I know it seems like it could be time consuming but it really is not. Why? Because you prep, stick it in the dehydrator, let’s say in the evening, and by the time you wake up abra cadabra! You got snacks! Warning: these don’t last long in kitchens so you may need to make more than one batch. Enjoy & Your Welcome! – XO
1 bunch green kale, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, 3/4 cup walnuts, 6 raw nori sheets, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon agave, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of Braggs liquid Aminos, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon or dash of ginger powder.
Massage everything together into a bowl and dehydrate until crispy at least 3-5 hours or overnight.
Even the hustlers who claim they “grind” 24-7 and survive on three hours of sleep, can’t debate that eventually the human body will crash if you do not get enough rest. Not sure if you all heard about Ariana Huffington’s come to Jesus moment where her lack of sleep let to a serious injury an stitches in her face, chronicled in her book Thrive. Even a CEO needs rest, and she discovered that she actually performs better and makes better decisions when fully rested rather than trying to run the rat race on empty. It’s clear that this AHA! moment was the catalyst that eventually caused her to leave the Huffington Post and move onto found Thrive Global where she promoting health, wellness, and good old sleep.
Recently, a friend reached out to me who was having sleeping problems about whether or not she should take medication. It has become all too commonplace for those with sleeping issues to resort to taking sleeping pills which can have a myriad of side effects known and unknown. She unfortunately lives in Los Angeles, where popping sleeping pills is like eating candy. Everyone seems to do it. The better solution is to look at your lifestyle, caffeine intake, stress, or racing thoughts and get to the bottom of what you can change to get some real long term sustainable rest.
After giving this advice to my friend, I then told her as she is working on it to give Valerian Poppy a try as a natural remedy to help her sleep on the interim. I used Valerian Poppy as a sleeping aid when recovering from a bad car accident that left me in so much pain it was hard to get to sleep. I would put a few drops in water and I was usually out in 10-15 minutes. Again, I believe dealing with the source of the issue is always best, but this herbal remedy may be something you want to give a try if you are really struggling. Like any herb, can have interactions with other medications so I recommend you take it alone or speak to your doctor about any potential adverse effects of mixing with your current medication. The exact effective dosage isn’t exactly clear either, so the safest bet is to experiment without overdoing it. I usually put one dropper full into a glass of water.
Want additional information about sleep that could help you revolutionize your rest? Check out the book Power Sleep by Dr. James Maas, a world renowned sleep expert. That book changed my life and made me a bit of a sleep natzi in college. I’m sure you will find once you have experienced true, good quality rest, you’ll start getting a little gangsta about your sleep too. -XO
Variety is key to ensuring that boredom or a food rut don’t set in. Vegans and vegetarians alike know the feeling of wanting to scream when all that is available to eat is the same boring side salad. One way you can “jazz up” any meal is by adding the right toppings, sauces, dressings, or condiments to add flavor and get you excited to dig in. This weekend was veggie burger mania in my kitchen. I had an assignment to perfect several types of veggie burgers. I made black bean, lentil, and a black eye pea burger that will make your mouth water (more on this later). For the lentil burger, topped it will an awesome cilantro sauce that can also double as an awesome salad dressing. Not completely raw as it uses canned coconut milk, but quick to make and delicious. Cilantro has awesome nutritional benefits and can actually naturally remove up to 80% of heavy metals from the body. Not a bad perk for a dressing! -Xo Raw Girl
Salad ingredients: Chopped kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup organic lite coconut milk
- 1 jalapeno chile stemmed and seeded
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cilantro roughly chopped
Add the lemon juice, coconut milk, chile, garlic, ginger, salt and cilantro into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy! To vary thickness use regular instead of lite coconut milk and add in a little avocado. Another variation can be made using lime juice instead of lemon.
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As someone who eats a great deal of raw food, for me soaking my nuts before I eat them is imperative. When I get busy, lazy, or careless I sometimes forget, but my digestion always pays for neglecting that essential step. Adopting a high raw diet is about trying to consume foods with as much life force as possible. Nuts and seeds are full of enzymes while in their raw, natural forms but when they are toasted, roasted, fried, or boiled the enzymes are destroyed. Raw nuts and seeds are plant foods which also contain the ingestible substance phytic acid, which acts as an inhibitor developed to form a protective barrier from bugs or insects, but in humans can block enzyme function. Nuts and seeds will not break down into their simplest forms during digestion when protein inhibitors are present. Phytic acid also prevents us from using and maintaining key micronutrients as the molecular structure causes essential minerals (including calcium, zinc, niacin, copper, iron and magnesium) to bind to it, thereby preventing their absorption. Soaking nuts releases phytase, allowing the phytic acid to be neutralized and making the nuts easier for our bodies’ to digest. If you are feeling lazy or pressed for time, soaking your nuts overnight is a great way to prep for the morning especially if you are making nut milk. If you want to take your nuts as a snack on-the-go and want them crunchier, pop them in the dehydrator and go about your business for the day. For extra fun add spices or even maple syrup to your nuts when dehydrating. -XO Raw Girl
Gupta, R. K., Gangoliya, S. S., & Singh, N. K. (2015). Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 52(2), 676–684. http://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-013-0978-y
Raw Nuts & Seeds High in Enzymes. (n.d.). Retrieved February 02, 2017, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/raw-nuts-seeds-high-enzymes-1213.html
Kornfeld, M. (2017). Review of preparing nuts. [Lecture Slides]. Retrieved January 30, 2017 from MUIH NUTR 684 module 2.
Nagel, R. (2010, March 26). Living With Phytic Acid. Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/living-with-phytic-acid/
What mineral is required for thyroid hormone synthesis, regulates cortisol and immune function, and is a powerful antioxidant? Iodine, which may seem like an insignificant mineral is required for all of those things and more. Currently the world is using less and less iodized salt for preparation in food, and this places many of us in danger of becoming iodine deficient. Deficiency in iodine causes abnormal swelling of the neck or goiter, lethargy, fatigue, weakness of the immune system, slow metabolism, autism, weight gain, depression, and in women, iodine is essential for maintaining breast health. Breast cancer incidences in Japan are virtually nonexistent because women consume twenty five times the amount of iodine that American women do. Iodine deficiency is also the most preventable cause of brain damage. Pregnant women who are deficient are at higher risk for having a stillborn child or one with birth defects. For veggie lovers who are vegetarian or vegan, if you are not including seaweed in your diet, you are putting yourself at greater risk for deficiency. Is it me, or did seaweed all of sudden get really sexy? Keep in mind you can add seaweed to soups, make nori wraps or veggie sushi, sprinkle dulse flakes on your salads, and more to ensure you get your iodine in.
The recommended daily allowance for adults over 19 years of age iodine is 150 micrograms daily. It’s important to not consume too much iodine because toxicity can also cause health problems such as gastrointestinal upset, acne, increased salivation, fever, nausea, vomiting, and elevated levels of thyroid hormone. The best way to boost your iodine intake on a vegetarian diet is to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet such as: kelp, dulse, nori, wakame, arame, hiziki, kombu, irish moss. Black eye peas and navy beans also have a decent amount of iodine, strawberries, cranberries, organic yogurt, navy beans, cheese, and potatoes.
Most minerals have inhibitors, or nutrients that can block the proper absorption and uptake by the body. In the case of iodine, goitrogens are substances in chemicals, foods or drugs that can interfere with iron uptake in the thyroid gland. Goitrogens are found in soy products, cassava, sweet potato, peanuts, pine nuts, raw cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips etc. Don’t get spooked about consuming these foods, which have other nutrients that are beneficial to the body; just take care especially if focused on increasing iodine intake to not consume meals with these foods at the same time of iodine supplementation.
Ensuring that your iodine intake is optimal can prevent radiation induced thyroid cancer, decrease the pain of fibrocystic breasts, and also prevent mental retardation, which is a direct result of iodine deficiency. Although it is not always the first mineral that comes to mind are essential, clearly the lack of iodine can have a drastic impact on health. Hope this article inspires you to do a double take when you pass the seaweed in the grocery store! Just make sure that the seaweed you choose to consume is organic and free of heavy metals. -XO Raw Girl
7 Foods Rich in Iodine. (2015, February 25). Retrieved January 30, 2017, from http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-foods/
- National Institute of Health. Iodine. Office of Dietary Supplements. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.
- Gastaldi R, Muraca M, Beltramo A, Poggi E. Iodine deficiency and its consequences for cognitive and psychomotor development of children. Italian Journal of Pediatrics. 2014;40(Suppl 1):A15. doi:10.1186/1824-7288-40-S1-A15.
- Zimmermann MB, Boelaert K. Iodine deficiency and thyroid disorders. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015 Apr;3(4):286-95. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70225-6. Epub 2015 Jan 13.
- Ross, A. C., Caballero, B. , Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K.L. & Ziegler, T. R. (2014). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. (11th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
- Zimmerman, M. (2001). Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition. Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease. New York, NY: Thieme.
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
Until my travels to Ghana, I knew nothing about one of Africa’s best-kept secrets, one of the most nutrient dense fruits on the planet, baobab. African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) has been dubbed the “tree of life,” due to it’s exceptional nutritional profile and all parts of the tree being used for food, drinks, to feed animals, medicine, and even fibers used for weaving. Baobab grows on large and strangely gorgeous trees that look like something out of a fairy tale and take up to 200 years to mature and produce fruit. YEP that’s right, 200 years. Meaning if you planted a baobab tree today you would not live to see it grow into its full glory. Not only do they take a long time to mature, but they live long: the oldest recorded living baobab tree thus far was 1,000 years old. The fruit of baobab is football sized and the pulp of the fruit is white and powdery with a sweet, slightly tangy taste.
This strange but fantastic fruit packs in a jaw-dropping amount of nutrition: it has four times the potassium of bananas, two times the calcium of milk, and twelve times the fiber of an apple. Baobab is made up of almost 50% fiber that is soluble and pre-biotic; meaning ingesting it promotes the growth of good bacteria in the guy. The fruit actually has more soluble fiber than psyllium, which is used in laxatives to boost elimination and maintain a healthy digestive tract. You can consume baobab in powder form, adding it to shakes, smoothies, and even use it as a natural sugar replacement. Now that the word is spreading you will find bars and nutritional supplements with baobab as an ingredient as well. I’m sure if you have the chance to try it, you’ll understand why this unique fruit with a funny name is aptly called the “Queen of Superfruits.”
XO Raw Girl