Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Afterglow Cosmetics - My New Obsession

Are all organic makeup lines created equal?  NO!  I was truly floored when I learned about what is lurking in some well know "organic" and "mineral based" make up lines.  I recently had an opportunity to meet with the founder of Afterglow Cosmetics, Kristen Adams, who developed her line to meet her own makeup.  The research and care that goes into each one of her products is evident.  Ever detail - from the ingredients to the packaging to the manufacturing - must meet her strict criteria before making it to market.  Not only are their products organic and free of free of synthetic preservatives, bismuth oxychloride, petro-chemicals, synthetic dyes and fillers.......but they are a make-up maven's dream!  As I type I am wearing my new obsession - Coo Lip Smoother!  Luv this stuff!

One interesting point that Kristen brought to my attention is that a lot of consumers and dermatologists go to great lengths to ensure the facial cleansers, scrubs, and lotions they use are safe and chemical free. However, they neglect to extend their "skin care" regime to cosmetics.  Facial cleansers are immediately washed off but cosmetics are worn for several hours.  Cosmetics are left on the skin for several hours and the ingredients can be absorb into the body.  Given that, shouldn't your cosmetic selection be even more critical than your cleanser selection?

If you are looking for a real organic, safe, and beautiful cosmetic line definitely check out Afterglow Cosmetics!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Corporate Sponsors and Medical Associations: Don't Bite the Hand that Feeds You or Your Patients

There is a lot of finger pointing in our health care system.  Fingers are often pointed at the pharmaceutical industry, the managed care organization, medical teaching institutions, etc.  Rarely does the finger land on the doctor or their organizations such as the AMA or the AAFP.  Recently the American Academy of Family Practitioners announced a corporate partnership with The Coca-Cola Co., in which the beverage giant will provide a grant for the Academy to develop consumer education content related to beverages and sweeteners for the AAFP's award-winning consumer health and wellness Web site, FamilyDoctor.org.  Having spent over a decade in the medical industry I can assure you that Coca Cola will not casually stand by and have sweeteners (high calorie or low calorie) tarnished in any fashion.  Partnerships do not happen in any business unless there is a mutually beneficial outcome.

These partnerships are nothing new.  In March 2008 that American Diabetes Association (check out the press release) proudly declaring: American Dietetic Association Welcomes The Coca-Cola Company as an ADA Partner! Is this a conflict of interest or a case of don't bite the hand that feed you?

Several months ago I published a blog quoted research from University of Texas in regards to the metabolism and storage of aspartame in the liver.  The results of the study were not good and indicated that aspartame is metabolised into formaldehyde and then stored in the fatty tissues of the liver as an unrecognizable compound.  The long term implications of this were fatty liver disease.  I wonder if this will be part of the alleged consumer education funded by the Coca Cola grant.

Most people understand what happens when people consume too much sugar - weight gain, insulin fluctuations, etc.  Most think they are safe to consume artificial sweeteners which is absolutely false. Below is a compilation of different sweeteners and their potential sides effects as indicated by studies:

Aspartame (NutraSweet & Equal)Used in: Diet sodas, breath mints, sugar-free gums, frozen yogurt
What is it: Aspartic acid and phenylalanine
Tastes like: Chemical tasting
Strength: 150-200 times stronger than sugar
Calories: 0 calories
Possible side effects: Unless you have a rare genetic condition that does not allow your body to process phenylalanine (phenylketonuria), you should be fine. Although, some studies are trying link a multitude of illnesses such as headaches/migraines, dizziness, nausea, weight gain, muscle spasms, depression, fatigue, insomnia, heart palpitations, vision and hearing problems, anxiety attacks, vertigo, memory loss and joint pain, Emotional Disorders, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, brain tumors, brain cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Epilepsy, birth defects, and diabetes to the overuse of aspartame.
Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low)Used in: Some toothpaste like Crest and Colgate, as well as diet sodas
What is it: Sulfur dioxide, chlorine, ammonia, and biochemical acids
Tastes like: Bitter with a metallic finish
Strength: 400-500 times stronger than sugar
Calories: 1/8 calorie per teaspoon
Possible side effects: In 1977, the FDA made all products containing saccharin 
add a warning label stating that it was determined to cause cancer in laboratory 
animals. In May of 2000, it was removed from the National Toxicology Report on 
Sugar Alcohols (Low Carb Products)Used in: Low carbohydrate products
What is it: sugar with an added hydrogen molecule
Tastes like: Similar to sweetness of sugar
Strength: Similar to sugar, but with less impact on blood glucose levels
Calories: 25% less calories than sugar
Possible side effects: Deleterious effects such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, vomiting

Sucralose (Splenda)Used in: Numerous low carb or sugar-free products
What is it: Sugar bonded with chlorine atoms
Tastes like: Slightly chemical tasting
Strength: 600 times sweeter than sugar
Calories: 0
Possible side effects: Although there are many accusations, no side effects have been confirmed in 113 studies over 20 years. The upper limit is considered to be 1,500 12 once diet sodas a day. It’s important to note that although splenda contains chlorine atoms, it differs in the way it is structured and therefore does not resemble household chlorine. The human body also contains its own natural chlorine in the form of KC1 and NaC1.  However, Spenda is a chemical substance, not inherent to the body, and should be treated as such.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meat vs. Plant: Arguments for a Plant Based Diet

Ask 20 vegans at a dinner party why they choose to abstain from consuming animal protein and you are likely to get 20 different answers.  Way back in June of 1989, the New York Times published an article called "How to Win An Argument with a Meat Eater" which compiled every argument from every angle available to support a plant based diet. The facts below are still relevant event though the numbers may be UNDERESTIMATED given this was written over 20 years ago!  Additionally, when you put this data into context with new research (i.e. The China Study) the arguments are even more compelling.

* Number of people worldwide who will die of starvation this year: 60 million

* Number of people who could be adequately fed with the grain saved if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 60 million

* Human beings in America: 243 million

‎* Number of people who could be fed with grain and soybeans now eaten by U.S. livestock: 1.3 billion

* Percentage of corn grown in the U. S. eaten by people: 20

* Percentage of corn grown in the U. S. eaten by livestock: 80

* Percentage of oats grown in the U. S. eaten by livestock: 95

* Percentage of protein waste by cycling grain through livestock: 99
* How frequently a child starves to death: every two seconds
* Pounds of potatoes that can be grow on an acre: 20,000
* Percentage of beef produced on an acre: 165
* Percentage of U. S. farmland devoted to beef production: 56
* Pounds of grain and soybeans needed to produce a pound of beef: 16

The Environmental Argument
* Cause of global warming: greenhouse effect
* Primary cause of Greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels
* Fossil fuels needed to produce a meat-centered diet vs. a meat-free diet: 50 times more
* Percentage of U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75
* Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly related to livestock raising: 85
* Number of acres of U.S. forest cleared for cropland to produce meat-centered diet: 260 million
* Amount of meat U. S. imports annually from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama: 200 million pounds
* Average per capita meat consumption in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama: less than eaten by average U. S. housecat
* Area of tropical rainforest consumed in evey quarter-pound hamburger: 55 sq. ft.
* Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing and other uses: 1,000 per year

The Cancer Argument
* Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat 4 times a week vs. less than once a week: 4 times.
* For women who eat eggs daily vs. less than once a week: 3 times
* Increased risk of fatal ovarian cancer for women who eat eggs 3 or more times a week vs. less than once a week: 3 times.
* Increased risk of fatal prostate cancer for men who eat meat daily vs. sparingly or not at all: 3.6 times

The Natural Resources Argument
* Use of more than half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S.: livestock portion
* Amount of water used in production of the average steer: sufficient to float a destroyer
* Gallons to produce a pound of wheat: 25
* Gallons to produce a pound of meat: 2,500
* Cost of common hamburger if water used by meat industry was not subsidized by the U. S. taxpayer: $35 a pound.
* Current cost of pound of protein from beefsteak, if water was no longer subsidized: $89
* Years the world's known oil reserves would last if every human ate a meat-centered diet: 13
* Years they would last if human beings no longer ate meat: 260
* Barrels of oil imported into U.S. daily: 6.8 million
* Percentage of fossil fuel returned as food energy by most efficient factory farming of meat: 34.5
* Percentage returned from least efficient plant food: 32.8
* Percentage of raw materials consumed by U. S. to produce present meat-centered diet: 33

The Cholesterol Argument
* Number of U.S. medical schools
* Number requiring a course in nutrition: 30
* Nutrition training received by average U.S. Physician during four years of medical school: 25 hours.
* Most common cause of death in U.S.: heart attack
* How frequently a heart attach kills in the US: every 45 seconds.
* Average US man's risk of death from heart attack: 50%.
* Risk for average U.S. man who avoids the meat-centered diet: 15%
* Meat industry claims you should not be concerned about your blood cholesterol of it is: normal.
* Your risk of dying of a disease caused by clogged arteries if your blood cholesterol is "normal": over 50%.

The Antibiotic Argument
* Percentage of U.S. antibiotics fed to livestock: 55
* Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13; percentage resistant in 1997: 99
* Response of European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: ban
* Response of U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: full and complete support.

The Pesticide Argument
* Percentage of pesticide residues in the U. S. diet supplied by grains: 1
* Percentage of pesticide residues in the U. S. diet supplied by fruits: 4
* Percentage of pesticide residues in the U. S. diet supplied by dairy products: 23
* Percentage of pesticide residues in the U. S. diet supplied by meat: 55
* Pesticide contamination of breast milk from meat-eating mothers vs. non-meat eating: 35 times higher.
* What U.S.D.A. tells us: meat is inspected.
* Percentage of slaughtered animals inspected for residues of toxic chemicals including dioxin and DDT: less than 0.00004

The Ethical Argument
* Number of animal killed for meat per hour in U. S.: 500,000
* Occupation with highest turnover rate in U.S.: slaughterhouse worker.
* Occupation with highest rate of on-the-job injury in U.S.: slaughterhouse worker.
* Cost to render animal unconscious with 'captive bolt pistol" before slaughter: $0.01
* Reason given by meat industry for not using 'captive bolt pistol': too expensive.

The Survival Argument
* Athlete to win Ironman Triathlon more than twice: Dave Scott (6 time winner).
* Food choice of Dave Scott: Vegetarian
* Largest meat eater that ever lived: Tyrannosaurus Rex
* Last sighting of Tyrannosaurus Rex: 100,000,000 B. C.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday without Eggnog? NEVER!!!!

Want the warm creaminess of eggnog but don't want to ingest the the chemical laden commercial preparation?  This raw eggless nog is awesome - sweet, warm spices, creamy, and delicious!  The addition of the Thai Coconut give great flavor and a little body to the beverage.  Serve it slightly warmed, with your morning cereal, or use it as a milk base in a your Hot - or warm - Cacao!

**Extra note - after straining the nog keep the delicious spiced nut pulp to use in holiday raw cookies and cakes!

1/2 C Almonds
1 Young Coconut (flesh from)
3 Dates
3 T Agave
1 1/2 t Cinnamon
1/2 t Nutmeg
1/2 t Cloves
1 t Rum Extract (not raw but completes the eggnog flavor)
3 C Water
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until very smooth. Strain through nut milk bag. Top with a sprinkle of extra nutmeg. You can serve this warm or cold.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Surrounded by Goodness

I don't know if it is the raw food vibes or the circles in which I find myself but I am always amazed at the cool people I cross paths with on a daily basis.  Whether I'm at a grocery store, in a restaurant, or just going into a random shop I somehow end up meeting people who enrich my life even if our encounter is only for a few minutes.  Today it seemed that these do-gooders were lurking around every corner.  Courtney, my 13-year old environmental activist, and I were participating in Paddle for Support at Wrightsville Beach.  Well, let me clarify that.  Courtney was paddling out in the 49 degree water to sit in the surfers circle and I was displaying an act of solidary from the beach. 

Obviously goodness was everywhere at the beach but before we even got there I found myself riding a wave of gratitude. Since my racks weren't on my car I decided to just borrow a board from a friend in Wrightsville instead of bringing ours.  When our friend got delay I switched my plan to "rent a board". Conveniently, Courtney and I took a random turn into Sweetwater Surf Shop.   Sweetwater Surf Shop is an awesome locally owned establishment in Wrightsville.  Granted, most surf shop owners and employees are laid back and friendly but Sweetwater was exceptionally right on! First of all, the selection of clothes, boards, and assessories was excellent (great prices and sales to boot!).  Secondly.......in a word........TONY!  Shop Manager, Tony Butler, was the best!  Knowing that we were participating in a local environmental event, he totally hooked my girl Courtney up!  Tony and Sweetwater's act of kindness speaks volumes about their dedication and support to the community and our oceans.  If you are in Wrightsville Beach definately check this shop out. 

Meanwhile, back on the beach.........participating in Paddle for Support was great.  Working in conjunction with Indo Jax Surf School and Ocean's Cure, the event was being filmed as part of a documentary inspired by a local woman, Danielle, who has spent the last 30 days saving our Mother Ocean by picking up cigarette butts and other trash on the shores of Wrightsville Beach.  Her project was selected as a winner in the Brit Filter GoodFilm contest.  To date, Danielle and her family have saved our ocean from swallowing over 11,000 cigarette butts proving that everyone can make a difference.  To follow Danielle story check out her blog at http://itstartswithme-danielle.blogspot.com/

Could the night get any better?  YES! To top the night off, I stopped at Starbucks to get Courtney a Hot Chocolate (no this was not raw!) and the dude at the Wrightsville Beach Starbucks hooked us up with free scones.   It doesn't get much better than this.......................Love and Gratitude to Wrightsville Beach!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Raw Inspiration

As most of you know, The Present Moment Cafe is one of my very favorite raw restaurants in the US.  Not only is the food EXCELLENT but the total vibe in the quaint little cafe is just down right cool!

Last night I had the absolute pleasure of dining with three gorgeous ladies all fighting individual battles with cancer.  Armed with RAW, LIVING FOODs, these women are facing the disease with smiles, energy, hopefulness, and determination.  It's always so inspiring to me when I meet people who are jumping in the drivers seat and taking charge of their wellness. It strengthens my resolve and belief that the answer to America's health crisis is firmly rooted in our food choices.

Speaking of food choices........I enjoyed the Taco's of Life (one of my favs at Present Moment)  made with Pine nut-chili and walnut puree, fresh salsa, guacamole in 2 romaine shells topped with Coconut “Sour Cream” and Jalapeno vinaigrette. 

My new friends and I topped off our meals by sharing the Brownie Sundae which is good medicine for anyone!!!  This delectable dessert is made from a Cacao brownie with cashew vanilla ice cream topped with dark cherries and garnished
with vanilla cream. YUM...........................

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yummy Raw Mashed Potatoes

I've taught a couple of holiday raw classes over the last few weeks and one of the big hits is this recipe for raw mashed potatoes.  This is a holiday recipe so it is a little more decadent that normal raw mashed potatoes.  These are great by themselves or can be served with a raw mushroom gravy. Enjoy!!

Mashed Potatoes

2 Cups Cauliflower
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
1/2 Cup Pecans
1 Cup Macadamia nuts
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
3/4 Tablespoons garlic
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Process nuts in a food processor with the "S" blade until they
become smooth and creamy. Add in remaining ingredients and
continue to process until it is smooth. Top with cream of
mushroom gravy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Raw Food and the Afterlife - Does Heaven Exist?

Clients always ask me about the various nuances of raw food - should I eat this? should I soak that? etc.  Ninety nine percent of the time my answer is "Look at nature and see what it does".  Nature answers a multitude of questions. Humans are the only species that have lost touch with the instinctual nature of our existence.  Wild life doesn't question what and when to eat.  It intuitively selects the correct foods at the correct times.  Wild life (including plants) seem to also except the various stages of life without question.

I've never been a particularly religious person as my free spirited Sagittarius nature makes it very difficult for me to work within the constraints of any one dogma.  Instead I find an appreciation for the ideologies of many different "religious figures".  I recently saw an author, David Kessler, being interviewed by Soledad O'Brien about his new book Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms.  Mr. Kessler has spent a lifetime working in hospice and other critical care/end of life settings.  He began to notice some very distinctive patterns of experiences people have when "crossing over".  Kessler reached out to other doctors and nurses working in these settings and began to compile accounts of their experiences with these patients.  The similarities are amazing yielding three clearly defined events which seem to universally occur in the days and moments leading up to death regardless of religion (or lack there of), ethnicity, age, location, income, status, or whether they were on medications or not. Universally people experienced visions of previously passed loved one coming to get them, the need to pack or prepared for a trip, and illusions of entering joyous crowded rooms. Stories from people who almost crossed were also captured. The accounts relayed in the book are interesting, touching, and comforting.  An added point, no one reported accounts of people seeing fiery pits or demons (this isn't discussed in the book but was asked by Soledad during the interview).  Like other medical phenomenons, many doctors are reluctant to give acknowledgement or give credence to these occurrences and those who came forward in the book indicated that this is medicines "dirty little secret".  It commonly occurs but no one wants to provide true recognition for fear of being labeled a "crazy doctor". What is happening cannot be scientifically proven so it is dismissed. The bottom line is that it we need to reframe how we think of birth and death.  Birth is not the definitive beginning and death is not the definitive end.  It appears that when we die we are just ending our chapter here and moving on to the next phase of "life" where we will continue our journey with the people we love.  One other interesting note, for people who saw a religious figure at the end of their "earth journey", the deity was always the one symbolized by their personal religion.  By giving credibility to what is going on, family could be better informed on what is happening and how to help their loved ones make the leap to the next phase. What happens most often is family members argue with a patient telling them that they can't go on a trip or that they are not really "seeing something".  The accounts relayed in which the family members understood these three "death commonalities" were interesting. For these people they were able to almost participate with the patient in these events and even experience a level of joy and their family member moved on to the next phase.

So, how does this relate to Raw Food?  As I indicated earlier, I look to nature to answer many of life's big questions.  Everything in nature is in a constant state of "birth", "death", and "renewal".  Nature seems to accept this process without question.  Composting is a great example. Although apples are not human they are definitely living, made up of cellular materials, and have a life cycle.  At the "end" of an apples life it biodegrades, re-enters the Earth (or energy force), and returns. The apple does not cease to be after it "dies".  In fact, this regeneration process is vital to the continued existence of everything.  All cellular and living matter undergoes this same processes.  At the core of everything, humans are cellular and living matter so why would our experience be anything different?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Costa Rica - Tips and Treasures

Our View
Hola!  I've been out of the blogging space for a bit as I was giving thanks and celebrating life in Costa Rica.  What a beautiful country.  This was my second trip to this eco-conscious, splendid gem in Central America.  As always, Costa Rica has left me breathless and taught me some wonderful life lessons.  As many of my readers know, I am constantly in a tug-of-war with my life's balance between what I do for a living and what I hold true as my core beliefs.  Visiting Costa Rica not only provided me with a relaxing vacation but a time to reflect on what is important and where my future should be.  Who wouldn't be able to find clarity and focus when this was the view every evening? More on my developing future in coming blogs...........How's that for a cliff hanger?
As I mentioned, Costa Rica is a special place so I wanted to take this blog and dedicate it to some of the wonderful business and people that you may be interested in should you decide to visit. The eco consciousness of the country is remarkable - recycling bins are common at bus stops and other areas of the cities where you would normally just see a trash can. The beaches are clean, the air is fresh, and their is a true respect for nature that can be felt by the locals.

I like to stay in the Guanacaste area on the Pacific side of the country.  We stay in Playa Hermosa which is a great little beach town offering good scuba diving but my future ventures will definitely settle further south into the Nicoya peninsula.  We travelled by car over many miles on unpaved roads down what would be equivalent to California's Pacific Coast Highway.  In between dodging cows, horses, and holes we were treated to unbelievable views of the Pacific Ocean.

As I grew up on the west coast I have
Nature, Pure, Untouched
seen the Pacific is all her glory from many great vantage points but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw in Costa Rica - unspoiled, uncrowded, natural, and pristine.

Urban Eclectic

We travelled down to Tamarindo. Tamarindo is a surfer, tourist town.  For travellers who don't want to be too remote, Tamarindo offers great restaurants, surf camps, and tons of shopping. In fact I came across a wonderful jewelry artist named Tricia.   A Los Angeles transplant, she creates really unique pieces that are one of a kind.  You can check out her stuff at Urbaneclectic.etsy.com.   I wanted to buy everything in her store!

I was right at home with all the Californians in Tamarindo.  We had some great Cali-Rican food at Eat at Joe's.  Joe is a real guy who runs Witch's Rock Surf Camp. A common theme among the transplanted people I met all over Costa Rica, Joe came down to Costa Rica ten years ago, fell in love with it and move down from Cali.  They have the only surf camp in Tamarindo with accommodations on the beach.  I knew I was suppose to "Eat at Joes" when I saw that "parking was reserved for Chargers fans"!

We continued our drive from Tamarindo to Nosara to visit my friend Joy, her hunny Marco, and their beautiful new baby girl.  I met Joy when she was hosting a yoga/raw food retreat.  Her company, Inward Bound, is dedicated to providing retreats focusing on yoga, food, and awareness.  Whether you are looking for yoga, yoga/surf, yoga/surf/raw, raw cleanse, or any other combination of retreat look no further than Inward Bound.  Joy, true to her name, is a joyful yoga instructor and a wealth of knowledge in terms of nutrition, raw and otherwise.  Once you attend one of her retreats you will be spoiled for all others!!!  Joy has a wonderful way of sharing her gifts through yoga. It's hard to describe but she has such a calming and welcoming nature that is contagious. You'll feel like your are doing yoga and learning about raw food with friends rather than feeling the structure of a typical retreat.  When passing through Costa Rica also be sure to check out The Yoga House which Joy is involved in.  And, if you are looking to improve your espanol definitely check Nosara Spanish Institute run by our friend Marco.  Believe me, after visiting the Nosara area you will want to move so you'll need to know your Spanish!

Don't let anyone find out that the surf is off the chain in Playa Guiones!
Playa Guiones is one of the most gorgeous beaches and villages in the Nosara area. I hesitate to even advertise how great it is because I never want it to become crowded!!  A true raw paradise I was overwhelmed at the amount of raw offering in the area.  As we drove through, people were walking around with their yoga mats and sipping juice.  The whole village looked like a self contained retreat center!  One really cool place we ate at was The Harmony Hotel.  What a sacred space - from the restaurant to the gardens this place exhumed the definition of peacefulness. They offer more than just a hotel room. The boast a full menu of healing services including spa, massage, yoga, and more in an eco-friendly environment.

Heather conquering Rio Colorado
For adventure, we took part in white water kayaking on the Rio Colorado.  This was our second trip on the river and both times we use the outfitters through Haciendda Guachipeli.  There are amazing views all up and down the river.  It's hard to paddle because the scenery is so great you just want to look around!  The scuba diving is best if you are an experienced diver and can go out to some of the "rougher" seas to witness the whale sharks and the manta rays (who have a wing span of 20 feet!!).  My oldest daughter was diving with us so we chose shallower reef dives as this was her first big ocean dive experience.  Still beautiful we saw moray eels, eagle rays, tropical fish, lobsters, sea urchins, and lots of needle fish!

As our Costa Rica adventure came to an end we were sad to be leaving this incredible place and already formulating our plans to return and possibly buy a home there so we can go back whenever we need the renewing and healing power that CR offers. Pura Vida!

Heather diving at Los Meadows

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veganism hits the elite!!

Heavy hitting politicians, movie types, and rock stars are finally getting on board with the wonderful world of veganism.  With Bill Clinton's recent CNN appearance and now a hard hitting article in Bloomberg Business Weekly, veganism is well on the way to mainstream acceptance.

The real question is what this translates into in terms of policy change.  Hopefully this will create political awareness around unethical, earth rapers such as Monsanto.  Below is a list of some of the fines Monsanto has had to pay in the past which are nothing compared to the price we are all going to pay in the future for their unscrupulous activities.
  • As recently as 2005, the Justice Department ordered Monsanto to pay a $1.5 million fine for bribing Indonesian officials in order to get its Bollgard cotton seeds approved without having to prove their environmental safety.
  • Monsanto's biggest individual fine to date was a $100 million settlement to the family of Wilbur Jack Skeen in 1986. The company was found to be negligent in exposing Mr. Skeen, a worker in the companies Texas plant, to benzene. The exposure eventually led to his death from leukemia.
  • Monsanto was one of the companies named in a $180 million suit for Vietnam War vets exposed to “Agent Orange”. Monsanto manufactured the herbicide from 1965 to 1969.
    The settlement did not include the 400,000 disabilities and deaths that the population of Vietnam suffered from the toxic herbicide.
  • In 1995, Monsanto was forced to pay a Texas Waste Management company $41.1 million for hazardous waste concerns.
  • In 1996, New York's Attorney General hit the company with a $50,000 fine for false advertising of its flagship pesticide Roundup. Claims in question included “Remember that environmentally friendly Roundup herbicide is biodegradable. It won't build up in the soil so you can use Roundup with confidence along customers' driveways, sidewalks and fences... ”
Additionally, will change come to our school lunch programs?  With the "high profilers" now recognizing the importance of a vegan and whole foods diet I hope that this translates into real change for our children.  These are stats from 2000 but still relevant:
  • 18.2% = The percentage of schools where nutrition specific staff worked with physical education staff on nutrition activities.
  • 2.1% of elementary schools, 6.7% of middle schools, and 24.0% of high schools  = Schools who sell deep-fried foods at lunch.
  • 22.8 minutes = The average time all kids in this country are given to eat lunch.
  • 32.7% of elementary schools, 71.3% of middle schools, and 89.4% of high schools = Schools who offer vending machines or a school store, canteen, or snack bar where students can purchase foods or beverages.
  • 30% = Schools who rarely, if ever offer a vegetable that’s NOT a potato.
  • 26.1% = Amount of school districts that prohibit using food as a reward.
  • 38.9% = School districts and states that DO prohibit junk food sold during breakfast and lunch.
  • 5.5% = States and districts that prohibit offering junk food at concession stands.
  • 18.9% = States and districts that prohibit offering junk food at school stores, canteens, or snack bars.
  • 11.8% states 57.1% districts = Amount of schools that are required to provide elementary schools students with regularly scheduled recess.
  • 6.6% = Amount of school districts requiring that schools make fruits or vegetables available to students whenever food was offered or sold.
  • 18.4% of states + 17.0% of districts = States and districts that require schools to offer healthful beverages such as bottled water or low-fat milk, whenever beverages were offered or sold.
  • 38.8% = Number of districts that require that schools implement food safety practices school wide.
  • 75.8% = Amount of districts that allow advertising for candy, fast food restaurants, or soft drinks on school property.
  • 11.7% of elementary schools, 19.0% of middle schools, and 23.5% of high schools = Amount of schools who offer fast foods from companies such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, or Subway. This frankly could be worse, but fast food doesn’t belong in schools at all IMO.
  • 76.8% = Amount of high schools with access to soda pop or sugar-based fruit drinks in vending machines or elsewhere in the school.
So why all the hype lately?  The Bloomberg article offers these reasons, "It affords them the opportunity to control their own health with the same manic id with which they control everything else. Wynn says his new diet has allowed him to get off Lipitor. Clinton's diet made him a fashion darling at his daughter's wedding this summer. "It's probably a good thing in a CEO," says Freston about veganism. "At least they won't be toppling over like those McDonald's CEOs."   Whatever the reasons, only good can come of this!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Soup Weather

We are finally getting fall weather in the Carolina's.  It's during this time of year I feel my "raw resolve" being most tested.  Once there is crispness in the air I begin craving warm, earthy soups.  I made this Corn Soup - not exactly earthy, but yummy!!! -  at a recent seminar that I was teaching and it was a big hit.  I chose it for a demo due to it's simplicity and universal appeal.  As most of you know, if you leave your high speed blender running for a minute or two it will warm your soup. Just watch so that it doesn't heat up into the "kill zone" at around 118 degrees.  Enjoy!!

Corn Soup
2 servings

2 cups corn kernels
1 cup nut milk
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 green onions, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
cayenne, salt and pepper to taste

In a blender, blend half of the corn, nut milk and olive oil until smooth - keep it blending if you want to heat it up a bit. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse a few times to incorporate (you'll want it to remain "chunky").  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Raw Food.........The Answer to World Peace???

‎"Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one." —John Lennon

In reflecting over the last few years of my raw journey I have had several remarkable things happen to me - my battle with insomnia ended, I have unbelievable energy, and my overall health has increased several fold.  I also had some thing happen to me that was very unexpected. In short, I became a nicer person. 

Now, I know what you're thinking - how in the heck can raw food make you a nicer person?  I too was baffled at my sudden urges to help my fellow man, take care of animals, and be a better steward to the planet.  The only rationale I could find for my new consciousness was that I was finally in touch with real lifeforce.  When you handle food with such care and appreciate it in its natural form you become increasingly aware of the cycle of life. I suddenly felt overwhelming gratitude to the farmers who tended the soil, the sun for energy giving life, the water to provide a catalyst for growth, and all those involved in the harvesting of the food I would consume.  These feeling of gratitude and appreciate started to spill over into anything and everything I was involved with.  When driving down the road I became full of thankfulness for everyone involved in planning and building the roads. If I happened to look at a tree, I could get completely lost in the wonder of a leaf.  Even when people disappointed me, were rude to me, or cut me off in traffic I was able to find compassion and empathy for whatever they may have been experiencing in their own lives. Even with the bad drivers, I would mindfully send "good vibes" in their direction so that they would get to their destination safety.  I would also hope for them to find time to relax and enjoy.  

WAS I STONED????  DID SOMEONE SLIP ME A MICKIE???  Nope, it was the raw food.  I was experiencing such strange phenomenons that I was prompted to look deeper into this issue and actually found a study of over 500 raw foodists.  After following these people for two years the investigators found some startling correlations between mental wellbeing and raw food.  Overwhelmingly, raw foodists had a greater sense of patience, optimism, joy, intuition, overall goodness and more (see study below).

Given this data, can you imagine what would happen if the whole world suddenly became raw vegan?  Would there be an end to war, starvation, hatred, bigotry, and discrimination????  Like John Lennon so poetically sang, Imagine............................... 

Raw Food Diet Study
An Investigation of Over 500 People Who Have Eaten a Raw Food Diet for Over 2 Years

In 2006 a raw food diet study was made by Lenka J. Zajic, who went on to obtain a Masters in Vegan and Live Food Nutrition, where she conducted an in-depth 500-participant survey of raw food eaters. The study showed that people who ate 80-90 percent raw foods showed significant improvements in immunity, digestion, allergies, weight, disease, energy, and mental and emotional well-being. "There seems to be no question that, at least initially, eating a raw food diet can reduce or cure many health complaints," Said Zajic.

#1 - Energy
Eating raw foods increases your energy. There are a few reasons for this; one is that your body doesn`t have to spend as much energy digesting your food. Raw foods contain enzymes, and these enzymes help your body break down food. Cardiovascular endurance improved for 67 percent of respondents. A dramatic increase in energy levels were reported since transitioning to raw foods, specifically 31 percent to 88 percent of the respondents who said they had "good" or "excellent" energy levels.

#2 - Cleansing
Elimination improved dramatically on a raw food diet. People who reported having two or more bowel movements per day increased from 25 percent to 78 percent. The number of respondents experiencing constipation decreased from 73 percent to 30 percent. Having a properly functioning digestive tract is vital to maintaining optimal health.

#3 - More Time
Preparing raw foods takes a lot less time, compared to cooked foods. Raw food eaters also reported needing less sleep. Those who reported needing over 8 hours of sleep per night dropped from 59 percent to 19 percent. Sleep quality also improved; those who reported no insomnia rose from 40 to 59 percent since transitioning to a raw food diet.

#4 - Weight
According to a raw food diet study that contained 864 self-reported two-year plus raw food eaters, 82.5 percent lost weight after switching to a raw food diet. 75 percent of those not already at their ideal weight said they were successful in reaching it after transitioning to a raw food diet.

#5 - Environment
Producing meat costs an incredible amount of energy and food. This food could be used to feed starving nations and let nature recuperate. Did you know that livestock produce more climate change gasses than all the vehicles in the world? It`s true; a report by the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization proves it. A meat-based diet also requires 7 times more land than a plant-based diet.

#6 - Mental Health
One of the most dramatic and encouraging areas of improvement occurred in mental, emotional and spiritual health. Overall, the majority of respondents (87.5 percent) reported an improved mental, emotional and/or spiritual state after the transition. The percentage of respondents that reported a "good" or "excellent" mental state after transitioning to raw foods rose in all categories surveyed including:

1. Optimism (43% to 91%)
2. Patience (29% to 84%)
3. Self-Sufficiency (54% to 88%)
4. Memory, Focus & Clarity (36% to 82%)
5. Creativity (48% to 82%)
6. Efficiency (53% to 82%)
7. Passion (53% to 88%)
8. Intuition (52% to 91%)
9. Dept of Meditation (28% to 68%)
10. Quietness of Mind (25% to 74%)
11. Contentment (30% to 80%)
12. Joy (31% to 79%)

This study was more subjective than objective, but that doesn`t mean that it can be dismissed. Clearly, the respondents got significant improvements in many areas, which show that an increased consumption of raw foods is beneficial.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunshine, Beaches and Raw Food - the ultimate Trifecta!

I love my job when it takes me to places where there is sunshine, beaches and excellent raw food!  I was back in Jacksonville, FL today and had to pop into my fav raw restaurant Present Moment Cafe for a little breakfast this morning. 

The drive along the AIA was absolutely gorgeous.  The temps were just right and at the risk of destroying my 'do for the day, I rolled to Present Moment with the windows down and radio blaring.  This California girl is definitely beginning to appreciate the beauty of morning coming over the Atlantic.

I got to Present Moment and decided to continue soaking up some Vit D by sitting at the little table outside the cafe.  I always have a hard time deciding what to order.  This morning I opted for French Meadow Hemp Toast w/ “The Works” – cashew hummus, avocado, tomato, cucumber, onion & sprouts.  Yvette and her team really out-do themselves every time I'm in there.  The food just keeps getting better and better!

I added a fresh cold brewed mango tea and water with cucumber and lemon.  I was in HEAVEN!

I'm surprised I was able to make it back to work!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kale Chips with a Kick!

Wow - October is off to a busy start!  Taught a RAW class on Friday night, have another on Wednesday night and another next Saturday!  My house has been deplete of "snack food" so yesterday I whipped up some Kale Chips with a Jalepeno Kick - these suckers are unbelievable!

3 bunches of Kale
1/2 cup of Olive Oil

1 Cup soaked cashews
1 Large Red or Orange Pepper
1/2 Cup Water
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
2 Lemons, juiced

1 Jalepeno (seeded)
1 Tbs Crushed Dried Chili
4 Cloves of fresh garlic
1 Tbs Onion Powder
1 Tbs Sea Salt

Soak cashews for 4 hours in salted water.  Clean and rinse Kale and tear into large chunks.  Douse with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Massage into Kale.  In the Vitamix, add cashews (drained), red/orange pepper, water, yeast, lemon juice, jalepeno, dried chili flakes, garlic, onion powder and salt.  Blend until smoother.  Pour over Kale and massage in.  Lay Kale leaves on dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 115 until crisp.  THESE JOKERS ARE SPICY!!  If you don't want them super spicy omit either the jalepeno or chili.  Or you can cut the amount of those two ingredients in half.  ENJOY!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

They Liked It!!!

Yippee for me!  I won first place at our NC Raw Meetup's 2nd Annual Dessert Contest.  Everyone really deserved a prized - great variety of yummies.  About three desserts tastings in, I was totally stuffed!  Here's a pic of my dessert:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Luna's Living Kitchen - MUY BUENO!!

I had the absolute pleasure of trying Charlotte's newest (and only!) raw restaurant today - Luna's Living Kitchen.  To say that I was stoked on my experience is an understatement.  Luna's is in a great, trendy location nestled between Evolution Fitness and the Atherton Mill Farmer's Market.  The atmosphere is casual, tres cool, and comfy. 

Andy, one of Luna's fab culinary squad, recommended the Lunasagna which was artfully constructed with layers of zucchini, sundried tomato sauce, green cashew cheese, and topped with marinaded cucumber slices.  This was pared up with some fresh greens and clover sprouts. Crazy delicious!!!  The sundried tomato sauce was richly flavored with a slight sweetness which was great against the cashew cheese and the coolness of the zucchini.   I rounded my meal out with some Popeye Juice which is a blend of spinach, pineapple, papaya, and hemp protein.

As I was getting ready to leave, a customer at a neighboring table received her meal - the Sprouted Quinoa-Kalmut Veggie Burger.  I was going to ask her how it was but all I needed to see was her taking one bite.  Her eye went half closed, she slumped in her chair, and just nodded her head yes while she smiled and chewed.  No need to ask - that said it all...................................

If you are in Charlotte, definately cruise to 2120 South Blvd and check them out. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Raw Potluck Goodies

I must say we have a pretty cool raw, vegan community in the greater Triangle area of NC.  Last night we had a snack potluck and watched Supercharge Me.  The documentary was great but the conversation and fellowship with others on the raw journey was the best part.  Whether you've been raw for 2 decades, 2 years, 2 months or 2 days we all face challenges and triumphs in our quest for optimal health.  I am always surprised at the paths that brought people to raw and the different approaches people take on their journey.

So, on to the good stuff.....recipe!  I whipped up this little hors d'oeuvre to contribute to the potluck.  Basically, I took a zucchini and cut it to make rounds.  Then I took a basic nut cheese recipe (see below) and added in about a quarter cup of fresh basil and 4 chopped sundried tomatoes:

1 ½ cups raw cashews
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon sea salt
Process in food processor

On top of the zucchini I put small piece of argula or a small piece of cilantro, a dollop of cheese and then topped with half a cherry tomato.  And yes, they were a hit! Nary a left over made it home.......

Monday, September 27, 2010

Present Moment Cafe

I soooooo dig the North Florida raw scene!!!  Check out this dish that I ate at Present Moment Cafe this afternoon. This was one of the Specials - Nachos!  The raw corn tortilla chips were piled high with Romaine lettuce, guacamole, cashew sour cream, cashew cheese, nut pate, salsa and sprouts. I'll be spending the next several days trying to "crack the code" on how I can prepare this dish in my own kitchen!!  My only regret with this dish is that it was so good that I ate the whole thing and didn't have room to get desserts!

According to Travel Adivsor, Present Moment Cafe is ranked #7 out of 266 restaurants in St. Augustine which should give you an idea of the quality of the food.  Raw restaurants normally have a small menu but theirs is large in comparison - lots of variety!

The restaurant itself is funky, eclectic, and cool.  It's got a great vibe that is matched by their awesome, friendly staff.  Since I'm only in the area on business I'm a single diner. However, eating at Present Moment Cafe makes me feel like I'm just hanging out at a cool restaurant with good friends - I could have stayed all day and shot the you-know-what with the bartendar (he's hilarious)!  If you are in the area definitely check them out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why Do People Do This?

The journey of a rawist (especially in my profession) is always an adventure.  People waiver between fascination, repulsion, and borderline obsession with what, why, how, when, and where I eat.  I'm asked a tons of questions about it but people often argue with my answers with their personal objections of why they can't do it.  When I first began this journey and started to have quite amazing results in regards to my blood chemistry. I even had someone from work ask if I was overly religious.  As if my cholesterol and hormone profile had changed because I was having some sort of religious experience!!!  What am I - some sort of reverse stigmata????

This always amazes me because I don't care or judge if someone chooses to eat whatever they want.  I did not become a raw vegan because of social or political reasons so I don't have an urge to "convert" others.  I do it because I believe the science and research that I've read and have witness first hand the incredible results in myself, my family, and friends.  My "social softening" and increase connection to the planet has been a surprising after effect of my change.

At a function just last night I was met with the same things I hear all the time:

"My grandfather lived to be 95 and he ate meat, potatoes, smoked and drank alcohol everyday"
Just because granddaddy lived to be 95 doesn't mean you will be saved of any disease. Grandaddy probably had a small benefit of being raised on a farm eating significantly more vegetables as a child and young man.  Our portions of meat and dairy have progressively grown larger over the years.  Grandaddy probably had several periods in his young life where meat was a luxury not  the main course.  Some researchers say our early years are vital to establishing healthy cells and immunity.

"Well, disease is in my genes so there will be nothing I can do about it"
WHAT????  In the China Study and others gene predisposition makes up a very, very, very small part of whether we get disease or not.  This says more about someone character if they are willing to throw in the towel in the face of potential disease.  This also goes for the reserve of "My genes are great so I can do what ever I want".

"I may be a little overweight but my doctor says my cholesterol is good"
Americans have this backwards approach to health that goes like this - do everything you can to destroy your body until your sick then freak out.  Many don't care if they get sick because they see medicine as a way out. Waiting until you get sick to start a healthy life makes no sense.  Medication does not cure disease it simply puts a mask on the symptoms.

"I think everything in moderation is really the way to go"
Moderation will kill you.  If the mainstream was better educated on health and wellness they would see the mediocre never do well.  I heard Dr. Dean Ornish speak a few weeks ago and he pinpointed the "moderation approch" as being extremely detrimental.  Mainstream doctors regularly give "moderate" diet recommendations.  To a diabetic a doctor will say "Try to cut down on your sugars".  A diabetic needs to make a drastic change to receive drastic results.

"Why should I eat that way? I'm not sick."
Again, why do people wait until a crisis to do anything?

"You sound like a liberal"
Really????  The republicans constantly harp on taking responsibility for yourself, don't give handouts, etc.  I would argue that I am taking the most republican stance possible.  I am taking complete responsibility for maintaining optimal health without draining our health care system. I feed my body in the intended manner and don't rely on medications, doctors, or unneeded surgeries to "bail me out" when I've eaten myself into diabetes, cancer, or CVD.

The common demonimator is that these are really just excuses not to take responsibility for their health and the planet.  They want to "justify" why it is OK to eat a crappy diet.  I think it's also a little bit of "misery loves company" as well.  Secretly, I think many people don't want others to get well or take responsibility for their health because it highlights the damage they are doing to themselves.  It makes them face the fact that change is neccessary.  It's also extremely important to "pharmaceutical types" because we want to believe that medication is the ONLY answer.  How can it be food?  That would be way to easy.............

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Protein and Calcium Debate.......

I had the unbelieveable honor of hearing Dr. Colin Campbell speak on The China Study last night.  This book encompasses decades of research on nutrition and degenerative diseases.  The evidence is overwhelming, comprehensive, and compelling.  In a nutshell, to hedge your bet against degenerative disease we, as Americans, need to reduce or eliminate our reliance on animal protein.  Countries with the best health are generally getting the majority of their protein from a whole food, plant based diet.  Plus, in America we severly overestimate the amount of protein we require.  The rest of the world doesn't do this. In fact, the World Health Organization conservatively puts our dietary protein needs at about half of what the US Government minimimum is.  Why is the infamous American Food Pyramid screwed up? As always it comes back to deep pockets.  Six of the 11 advisory committee members who devised the US guidelines have explicit links to the meat or dairy industries. Specifically, the committee chairman and at least five other committee members have had links to the National Dairy Board, the National Dairy Council, the American Egg Board, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the American Meat Institute, the Dannon Research Institute and other similar groups.  This is why Americans are OBSESSED with drinking milk and eating large amounts of animal proteins.  It is literally and figuratively shoved down our throats by our own government.  I find it very ironically that breast milk contains 6-10% protein.  6-10% protein to grow an infant's brain, bones, tissues, nerve function, etc.  Why would adults (who aren't growing anything but larger pockets of fat) need absurd levels of protein????

American's insistance on drinking milk is equally scary.  In the China Study, Dr. Campbell looked at hip fractures in various countries vs. calcium intake.  America again takes the prize for having the most hip fractures while also having one of the highest calcium intakes.  The answer lies in.........ding ding....the fact that we are getting calcium from animal sources.  Simplistically, meat and dairy both cause an acid environment in our bodies which causes calcium to be robbed from bone to address the excess acid.  Humans are the ONLY species who drinks milk from another species.  Cow's milk is a perfect food for a calf, not a human.

Bottom line..................calcium and protein needs are overestimated in America and all the needs we have can be supplied by a whole food, plant based diet. 

Don't think you can get enough protein from plant sources?  Think again. Below are how a few plant items stack up to animal sources. Remember........the amount or protein we think we need has been told to us by our government and is not necessarily our actual need.
Protein Content
7 grams/ounce
7 grams/ounce
7 grams/ounce
2 grams/ 1/2 cup
Soybeans (dry)
10 grams/ounce
Lentils (dry)
6.5 grams/ounce
5 grams/ounce
6 grams/ounce
Hemp Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds