Friday, February 25, 2011

Summertime Dreaming - Creamy Picnic Salads

Summer is right around the corner (hopefully!!!) and with that will come the onslaught of mayo laden salads - pasta salad, egg salad, Waldorf salad, etc.  Using the word "salad", with its connotations of healthful nourishment, does not provide an accurate description of these picnic staples! These traditional "salads" are full of saturated fat, ccholesterol and calories.  A little piece of green lettuce doesn't stand a chance under a mountain of gloppy mayonnaise!

The good news is that just because you're following a raw, vegan diet doesn't mean you have to miss out on creamy "mayo-laden" salads. Pine Nut Mayonnaise is easy to make and better tasting than regular mayo.  It is incredibly versatile and can be used on fruit based salads such as Waldorf Salad or veggie based salads like coleslaw and Broccoli Salad (my fav!!).   Check out the recipes below and give them a try..........

Brocolli Salad
Pine Nut Mayo
1 C raw pine nuts
1/2 C water
4 T olive oil
3 T lemon juice
pinch sea salt
agave nectar to taste (optional)
Blend all together in a blender.

Waldorf Salad
1 C celery, chopped fine
1 C grapes, halved
1 apple, peeled
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 C water
1 batch Pine Nut Mayo
Mix lemon juice and water.
Dice apple, soak in lemon juice/water mix for 10 mins., and drain.
Mix celery, grapes, and apple.
Mix in pine nut mayonnaise to taste.

Brocolli Salad
2C broccoli, roughly chopped
1C finely chopped celery
1/2 C golden raisins
1/2 C finely diced red onion
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1 batch Pine Nut Mayo (recipe under Dips and Sauces)
Mix broccoli, celery, raisins, onion, and sunflower seed in bowl. Toss with Pine Nut May until coated.

To learn how to tranistion to a raw, vegan diet, online raw cooking instruction, recipes, and more check out our membership site at:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hurray for Shea Butter!

Embracing a raw lifestyle should be about more than what you eat.  Toxins creep into our lives and wreck havoc on our health through the chemicals that we surround us everday.   Although we can't control some of the environmental onslaught of modern society, we can choose alternative beauty products and household cleaners. The question continues to beg, "Why do we choose chemicals when readily available natural, safe alternatives exists?"  More on an exciting natural alternative later...........but here's a sneak preview:

Can You Guess What These Are?

For decades now we have been told that slathering chemical laden sunscreens onto our skin is critical for reducing the risk of skin cancer.  These recommendations are made by cosmetic companies and vocal dermatologist despite the lack of testing of the chemicals in sunscreen which include:
  • Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)
  • PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB,  glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA)
  • Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate) Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate)
  • Digalloyl trioleate
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Avobenzone [butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane; Parsol 1789] - This is the only chemical sunscreen currently allowed by the European Community.
Since we have been "sold" by our government, the AMA, dermatologists, cosmetic companies and other interested parties that sunscreen is vital to reducing cancer risks let see how we are doing:
  • Worldwide, the greatest rise in melanoma has been experienced in countries where chemical sunscreens have been heavily promoted   (Garland, Cedric F., et al. Could sunscreens increase melanoma risk? American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 82, No. 4, April 1992, pp. 614-15).
  • Dr. Gordon Ainsleigh in California believes that the use of sunscreens causes more cancer deaths than it prevents. He estimates that the 17% increase in breast cancer observed between 1981 and 1992 may be the result of the pervasive use of sunscreens over the past decade (Ainsleigh, H. Gordon. Beneficial effects of sun exposure on cancer mortality. Preventive Medicine, Vol. 22, February 1993, pp. 132-40).
  • Recent studies have also shown a higher rate of melanoma among men who regularly use sunscreens and a higher rate of basal cell carcinoma among women using sunscreens (Garland, Cedric F. et al. Effect of sunscreens on UV radiation-induced enhancement of melanoma growth in mice. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 86, No. 10, May 18, 1994, pp. 798-801 :Larsen, H.R. "Sunscreens: do they cause skin cancer." International Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 1994; 12(12): 17-19; Farmer K.C. & Naylor, M.F. "Sun exposure, sunscreens, and skin cancer prevention: a year-round concern." Ann Pharmacother, 1996; 30(6):662-73)
  • Drs. Cedric and Frank Garland of the University of California have pointed out that while sunscreens do protect against sunburn, there is no scientific proof that they protect against melanoma or basal cell carcinoma in humans (Garland, C.F., et al. "Could sunscreens increase melanoma risk?" American Journal of Public Health, 1992; 82(4): 614-615.)
  • In February 1998, epidemiologist Marianne Berwick of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York presented a careful analysis of data which concluded, "We don't really know whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer," said Berwick. (Source: Science News, Vol. 153, No. 23, June 6, 1998, p. 360).
The other issue with sunscreen is that it blocks sun rays vital to the body's production of Vitamin D. If fact, Dr. Michael Holick (Boston University Medical Center) states that Vitamin D helps prevent a number of diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, some infectious diseases, and even cancer. “If you put a sunscreen on with a sun protection factor of 30, which is what they typically recommend, it reduces the ability to make vitamin d in your skin, by 95-99 percent. So if you’re always wearing sun protection all the time, and you’ve depended on sun for your vitamin d requirement, you’re at increased risk for vitamin d deficiency,” Dr. Holick says.

So what are we to do?  PURE, UNREFINED SHEA BUTTER!  Shea butter is harvested from the fruit of shea trees (typically grown in Africa).  In its pure state, shea butter contains skin soothing vitamins (E & F), minterals, and a unique fatty acid profile that is crucial to rejuvenating and moisturizing the skin.  This balance of vitamins, minerals and fatty acid also make shea butter an excellent natural sunscreen.

I wanted to put shea butter to the test as a sunscreen so yesterday I spent from 10am to 4pm outside gardening in full sun (spending only 1 hour in the shade for lunch).  As a blonde haired, blue eyed, fair skinned chick, I am the perfect candidate for a burn.  Much to my surprise, at the end of the day I had no signs of sunburn (I applied the shea butter at 8am and never reapplied).  Needless to say, I'm sold.

Here's some shea butter tips for you:

1. Make sure your product is raw and unrefined - if its white, it's refined.  If it is a chunky yellow mess, it's pure.

2. It's a little hard to apply out of the container so I took a glop and whipped it with a stand mixer.

3. If you don't care for the smell, add a few drops of essensial oils.

4.  I "melted" it by rubbing it in my hands and then applying. This made it go on smoothly.

Other cosmetic uses for shea include treating eczema and burns, pain relief from arthritis, muscle relaxation, fading dark spots, treating stretch markes, reducing wrinkles and blemishes, hair conditioning treatment, and diaper rash.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Groovy Mucuna

I just started using a little mucuna in my morning smoothies and I must say it's rather groovy (my word choice of groovy will be explained later!).  Mucuna is an amazing herbal adaptogen that's famous in Ayuvedic medicine for it's wide range of tonifying, strengthening and all around beneficial properties. It is best known as a potent herbal aphrodisiac - bow chica bow wow!  And no, the bow chica bow wow is not the groovy part.

Because mucuna helps maintain optimal levels of key hormones (including youth hormones such as testosterone) a  few of the touted benefits include:

  • increasing libido and fertility
  • increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing body fat
  • reducing signs of aging such as wrinkles
  • increasing bone density
  • boosting overall energy levels
Scientifically, Mucuna pruriens contains 40mg/g of  L-DOPA which is a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine works as one of the best natural high releasers (human growth hormone) by stimulating the pituitary gland to increase it's production. High levels throughout life of the body's own natural growth hormone (not hormones from the synthetic injections) is known as a major key for human longevity.  The L-DOPA content has also made Mucuna a viable herb for those afflicted with Parkinson's when used in higher doses.  In fact, numerous studies have been published in the Journal of Neurology and Neurological Surgery documenting the potential success of Mucuna with Parkinson's patients. Give the L-DOPA content, you can expect:
  • increased quality of sleep
  • feelings of happiness (natural high)
  • central nervous system soothing
So where does groovy fit in?  If you are new to mucuna or using it for the first time bear in mind that less is more. Just like other herbs there is no recommended dose but most people use 15-30 grams a day.  Let's just say at the 30 gram marker I was feeling pretty darn good.  So good that I should have used 15 grams...........

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What You Don't Know About Your Doctor Can Kill You

I spent over a decade working in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. Although I believe many physicians enter the profession with a desire to help their fellow man, the health care industry is designed to drive dollars.  Here are some interesting facts on the "sickcare" industry:
  • Nearly 20 percent of American doctors get paid by drug companies to be consultants or speakers.
  • On the drug companies' payrolls, nearly 200 Georgia doctors, pulled in over $2.2 million last year.
  • In 2009, seven reporting pharmaceutical companies paid $109 billion dollars to doctors to promote their drugs at peer-to-peer meetings.
  • A recent review found that about two-thirds of academic medical centers hold equity interest in companies that sponsor research within the same institution (JAMA 2008).
  • A study of medical school department chairs found that two-thirds received departmental income from drug companies and three-fifths received personal income (JAMA, Sep 2008)
  • A study of 200 panels that issued practice guidelines found that more than one third of the authors acknowledged that they had some financial interest in the drugs they recommended.
  • Many members of the FDA’s 16 standing committees that advise the FDA on drug approvals also have financial ties to drug companies.
  • Over half of Continuing Medical Education seminars are funded by the drug industry.
  • Go here to find out if your doctor receives money from drug companies:
This little summation is not to put all the blame on the doctor but, let's face it, you are suppose to be in a "trusting relationship" with your doctor.  The drug companies did not take an oath to keep you safe and healthy.  Further, they have never hidden the fact that they are a BUSINESS that is FOR PROFIT with strategies designed to deliver results to shareholders.

Clearly, this is not a system designed to cure disease as there is no money to be made from healthy people.

Now consider these facts:
  • Less than 6% of doctors get adequate nutritional training during medical school. They are trained to treat disease with pharmaceuticals.
  • Our healthcare system is the THIRD largest killer in America claiming over 250,000 deaths per year.
12,000 due to unnecessary surgery
7,000 due to medication error in the hospital
20,000 due to other hospital errors
80,000 due to hospital based infections
106,000 due to adverse events from prescription drugs
  • Degenerative diseases are nearly non existent in wild animals unless their raw food supply has been altered.
  • Commonalities of people who live in Blue Zones (unique places where people live long without disease) are gardening, primarily plant based diets, lots of sunshine, and consumption of superfoods.
  • Doctors such as Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MD, boast a 90% cure rate of Type II diabeties when patients follow a raw, plant based diet (no person has been cured with pharmaceuticals).
As much as we'd like to point the finger at doctors, drug companies, insurance companies, and the whole health care system - it's time to take a serious look at OUR responsibility in our health.  You CAN take CONTROL of your wellbeing!

I've never sold a drug that cured anything, but I have seen miracles happen with food.