I love the outdoors. Sunlight, fresh air, plants, trees, animals...just thinking about it and I start to yearn for it! I live in the city with far too many cars, people and not enough nature. So every now and then I strip myself of this "civilized" life and go camping. All out camping - tents, fires, digging a hole when you need one - just nature and silence.
Camping brings memories and visions of s'mores and hotdogs. When I changed my diet and became a raw vegan nearly five years ago, I had to shift the way that I thought about camping. The food that I eat now, that brings health and healing, goes where I go.
The great thing about camping is that you don't necessarily sit down for three square meals a day. Usually it's quite a lot of snacking - which is precisely how I eat as a raw vegan. Frequent little nuggets of energy to refuel all day long. I do camp with others (who are not raw vegan) so I'll need to have a few options that would feel meal-like.
The fun thing about being me? I'm not ridiculously strict about it all. I've learn to loosen the reins and allow myself room to breathe. I don't dry my own spices, I use small amounts of processed food (like soy sauce or toasted sesame oil) for flavorings. And sometimes I enjoy some portobellos mushrooms while camping....grilled. GASP!
On my list to snack on: apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, blueberries, dried figs, raisins, raw nuts, dehydrated cheezy crackers, almond butter, and some strawberry fruit leather I made.
On my list to enjoy as a sit down meal (a.k.a. social time): Salad fixings - lettuce, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, avocados, vinegar, seasonings, olive oil. Portobello Mushrooms and Yams (to grill! woah!), and my Lemon Ginger Lettuce Rolls.
For my kids (who are about 80% raw): all the fruit I have...they could easily become fruitarian, I think, dry healthy-ish cheerios, packaged applesauce, and tortillas with ham and cheeze.
I'll eat when I'm hungry (which is pretty much all the time - some things never change), and I have a few things up my sleeve for when we gather as a group around the fire.
Oh, and did I mention water and smoothies? I will make 128 ounces of Green Smoothies to take with us to enjoy in the morning as breakfast. Sometimes I take my Vitamix if we will be gone a long time. If it's only for a few days - I premake and take them along.
So there you have it. Easy, peasy, raw pumpkin pie. A little forethought with dehydrating, but most of my food is fresh fruits and vegetables. Delicious, fun, energy-producing, and easy.
My new motto was given to me by a Marine that I'm coaching to eat healthier: "Adapt, Improvise, Conquer." That's how I help people get healthier and how I live my life. :)
Each day we are bombarded by good marketing. Billboards, magazines, TV commercials, TV shows, movies, commercials on the radio, in the schools, in our workplaces....everywhere you turn you are being told what you need to eat, how happy it will make you, how good it tastes. There is a war taking place that most people aren't aware of. Most of us are losing the battle. Americans are getting larger and larger, sicker and sicker, and aren't sure where to turn.
So how do we fight? How do we take our health back from those who are trying to make money off us? Anyone in the military will tell you the first step of battle is preparation. When we find ourselves tired, hungry, emotional - we turn to food. If we don't have anything premade - we turn to what is inexpensive and quick to satisfy our immediate needs. So we need to be prepared...equipped properly to fight our own weaknesses that others prey on.
What are our weapons that will equip us? We have food in our houses that we can turn to when we are hungry that are nutritious and life-giving. We do NOT have food in our house that will perpetuate our weigh gain or our illnesses.
How do we become that muscle-bound warrior? We build our strength of saying no to tempting food that only makes us larger and sicker. We build our self-control only one way...we practice it over and over. We make mistakes, but they don't stop us...we press forward and continue to say no.
Haley, this all sound well and good, but what does this look like? I'll share with you how I equip my own family.
1. I educate them on what is in their food, what it does to their bodies, why it's being sold to us, why others eat it but why we do not. No "because I said so"...I want my kids to be able to make their own choices when they are not with me because they have the knowledge to do so. It's also amazing to hear them tell their friends or each other why certain foods are better than others and what they need to eat when they don't feel well. I didn't have to do as much educating with my husband, in fact he asks questions that make me do more and more research and verify if what I'm spouting is fact.
2. I don't allow certain foods in the house. It's not a hard and fast rule - you don't get a lashing if you bring cheetos into the house. But "snacky" type food - chips, pretzels, etc...I'll only purchase healthier ones with fewer ingredients and they are rationed out for treats. You won't find desserts in my house, unless they are raw vegan. Those are the trickiest - you will eat an entire gallon of ice cream and still want more - it's designed to enable you to do so. If you bring candy into the house...keep a close eye on it as it will make its way to the trash can very quickly and sneakily.
3. I make sure that everyone has food available to them. I make 128 ounces of Green Smoothie for my husband every morning to take with him to work. That's all he drinks (most of the time) until evening. Ask him sometime how his health has improved. I pack my children lunches for school every day. There are three components to every meal they eat: 1. Fruit 2. Vegetable. 3. Other. For example, today's lunch was 1. Orange slices and Bananas 2. Cherry tomatoes 3. Dry Cereal (one got a healthy form of honey nut cheerios, the other got cracklin' oat bran)...I try to buy ones that mimic what's out there, but healthier versions. After school they will get home and I'll make them Raw Vegan Ice Cream for snack. It's my oldest's turn to pick the flavor. ;) The third category is usually smaller than the first two and I try to find things my children look forward to - which empowers them to eat their fruits and vegetables. Oh yes, you must eat them in order. Vegetables, Fruits, and THEN other. Fill up on the good stuff first. As with many patterns, we do what we dislike first and then move to what we like. Chores first, play second. Vegetables first, pasta second. Homework first, socializing second.
4. When we are out and about (birthday party, Disney on Ice, Ball game, etc.), nothing is forbidden, nothing is taboo - they can choose what they want (within reason of cost and availability). If they ask, I'll educate them, but I won't lecture them on their food choices. I do gently remind them when they are hyperactive, can't sleep, can't go to the bathroom, can't focus, or other lovely side effects...why we don't eat those foods on a regular basis. The choice must be theirs in the long run, not mine. You need to give your kids room to stretch their wings and make their own choices sometimes (but just like chores and homework...they need guidance at home). Likewise, I don't nag my husband, I don't tell him what he should and shouldn't eat, it is his choice as an adult. I try to provide options for him as well - although he's a little more entrenched in the snack foods that he turns to. Start young - it will pay off! ;)
Needless to say, it's a life-long war. Some battles you win, some you don't...don't beat yourself up, just get back up and fight another day. When all else fails...call me. :) I'll be your drill sergeant, your coach, your muse. Contact me if you need a battle plan.
I reviewed the Vitamix, Blendtec, and the Healthmaster in a previous blog post here, however that was over a year ago and needs to be updated! My experiences with each machine have evolved and I've used a new appliance, the Ninja, which I need to add to the mix!
This is the cream of the crop - the ultimate blender that everyone should own. My use of my Vitamix (I've had both the 5000 and the 5200) over the past four years has cemented my unwavering loyalty to this brilliant machine. I bought my high powered blender the instant I decided the raw lifestyle was worth investing into. I've taken it on trips, on airplanes (checked & carry-on!), even on my honeymoon! Not only does it help me create all my raw vegan dishes, but it saves me tons of time. It grinds nuts and seeds, completely bursts the cell walls of plants to release that incredible chlorophyll, breaks down frozen fruit to make ice cream, in fact I haven’t found anything my Vitamix cannot do. When people ask if I miss hot foods (as I don't cook anything), I demonstrated how my Vitamix warms up my food. There is no heating element, but it runs at 240 mph and the friction heats up my soups, sauces, dips, etc.
The only problem with the Vitamix? It’s expensive!!!!! If you buy a new Deluxe Vitamix 5200, with all the bells and whistles, it comes out to $650. HOWEVER! You can also buy a Vitamix that has been “factory reconditioned” for $329.00! I always recommend buying Factory Reconditioned! If you put in this code when you check out, you get free shipping ($25 savings!): 06-005351.
People are always asking if there are other blenders out there that are cheaper, yet have the same performance. I have personally used three others that come close, but I will stress that NO BLENDER have the same performance as the Vitamix, in my experiences. Now mind you, I use my Vitamix 3-8 times a day, and have used each of the following blenders at least a half dozen times each while teaching classes.
The first is a Blendtec, the rival to the Vitamix. It’s slightly more affordable, coming in at $454 for the “Wild Side” (deluxe version), $434 for the Basic Version, and $384 for the Factory Reconditioned Basic. It’s slightly more powerful than the Vitamix, coming in at 1560 Watts vs. the Vitamix’s 1380 Watts. The Basic comes with a 32 oz. pitcher, the Wild Side has a 44 oz. pitcher, and the Vitamix has a 64 oz. pitcher. The Blendtec has a broader based pitcher – easier to get your food out and nothing gets trapped under the blades. Lastly, the Blendtec is programmable and you can set it and walk away and it will shut itself off The Blendtec can also warm up your liquids and dips, which is awesome for a raw foodist. All in all, the Blendtec is a GREAT BUY. If you can find one, go for it.
BUT…there are some major drawbacks. First, it does not come with a tamper – an instrument to push food into the blades. Therefore, you need to cut and dice your food smaller so it will move AND you CANNOT make Raw Vegan Banana Ice Cream in this blender. :/ That’s a big part of my diet, so I cannot imagine having the Blendtec permanently. Second, even though the base of the pitcher is larger (my Vitamix pitcher is tapered), it has problems with small amounts of food. The blades will spin if there isn't enough food to move around - and while it's difficult to do small amounts in the Vitamix, the tamper makes it possible. Also you cannot fill it to the top with food and expect it to blend. I can make a full 64 ounces of Green Smoothie in my Vitamix, but you can only fill the 44 oz container half way! Third, the larger motor doesn’t do any more than I need, but it is a LOT louder – which is not so good when you have kids with sensitive hearing, babies, or need to do any food prep when people are sleeping. And fourth, with all its settings (ice cream, dips, smoothies, etc.), it's much harder to work manually. When trying to make a dip out of cashews, for example, you need to run the dip setting two to four times to get the same consistency with the Vitamix.
It's a good machine, but you can get a Vitamix for roughly the same price. I'd spend the money on the Vitamix.
I have had the opportunity to try out Montel William’s HealthMaster. At 4 easy payments of $49.99 (plus S&H), it’s by far the cheapest at $200. It comes in at 1100 watts of power, which isn’t much less than Vitamix’s 1380 watts. It has a monster 70 oz. pitcher that has a nice broad base where no food gets stuck. It comes with a tamper! Yaaay! Raw Vegan Ice cream, here we come! AND…the base is programmable just like the Blendtec.
Here come the con’s. First, like the Blendtec, even though the base of the pitcher is larger (my Vitamix pitcher is tapered), I have problems doing small amounts of food. One cup of dip in the HealthMaster just spins…doesn’t mix, even with the tamper. Second, the lower wattage means that it just isn’t as powerful and doesn’t blend as smooth or creamy as the Vitamix or the Blendtec. I tried to make a pie crust (crushed nuts and fruit) in the HealthMaster and it got stuck in the pitcher, and I had to take it all out and use another appliance. The pitcher has pockets where food gets caught and I can’t just spatula it down to the bottom…I’m not sure if you can see from the picture. The motor is ridiculously loud and slightly smelly (which the manufacturer says will wear off within six months). Lastly, it has two locking mechanisms that sound like a wonderful safeguard but are actually quite annoying. The thing won’t run unless the pitcher is locked to the base and the lid is locked to the pitcher. Both locks are quite difficult to engage and after working with it for a half an hour, my fingers were starting to blister. I got used to it quickly, but my friend said she was less likely to work with it because of this feature. It also doesn't run at the speeds of the previous two machines, which means it won't warm up your food. It's a great machine for the price, at nearly half the price of the other two machines, so the frugal girl in me gives it one thumb up!
Lastly, I've had more experience with the Ninja than with the previous two machines because it's far more affordable, available, and everyone seems to be getting one! This machine is wonderfully unique in that it has multiple blades. Because of this, a tamper is less necessary to push food into the blades - there are blades in the middle and on top! It has a programmable base with 1000 watts of power (only 100 less than the HealthMaster!), has a wonderfully easy to use 72 ounce container. All in all, they have taken a little bit of everything and made a great machine. AND - it's only $100!!!! That's crazy!
I've also gotten to play with the Ninja Prep - which is even cheaper at $50-75, depending on where it's sold. However, it has more than HALF the wattage of the blender (400 watts!), and in turn cannot do many things (like make dips & sauces out of nuts) well. It does make small batches of things rather well and I was able to make a few dishes with ease (my Orange UnChicken, Green Smoothies!, and Pinky Pudding)
However, you get what you pay for. With the Ninja, you pay a fraction of the price for a fraction of the ability. I cannot make the same quality of dips, sauces, desserts, smoothies, and ice cream is out of the picture. It does many amazing things and is far better for making Green Smoothies than a traditional blender (Oster or Hamilton Beach).
Each of the machines listed come with recipe books that are definitely a part of the price - wonderful recipes that get you to use the machine and eat healthier. Sure, they aren't raw vegan, but they are homemade from scratch and encourage you to move away from processed foods. That's the first step - less processed, more whole foods!
So there we are. Four different high speed blenders. Each of the blenders tackled Green Smoothies with ease and are amazing blenders. I still recommend the Vitamix. It is worth the investment and even if you aren’t raw in any capacity it is wonderful for your kitchen. Not to mention, the Vitamix has been around since 1937 and is made in the US. If a machine has a warranty, I would trust a company that has been around more then ten years and has perfected the craft that they are in. Just my two cents...
If I have moved you toward the Vitamix and are interested in purchasing one, use this code for free shipping (06-005351) and go here! I hope this helped!!!!
I don’t know why I wait so long to blog that I’m overflowing with news. I need to blog more often so as not to overwhelm myself. Would you all keep me accountable in this area, and pray for me if you can? As much as is possible, I like to live a transparent life and keep everyone around me fully engaged…so as to make real friendships. Shallow, surface, connections are undesirable to me…but I digress.
Upcoming Raw Recipe Nights
The first thing I want to talk with all of you about is my upcoming Raw Recipe Nights. Let’s talk about Asian foods! This Saturday and the following Tuesday are RRN’s Asian Entrées and Appetizers. We will learn how to make an Orange Broccoli dish that is a great entree, appetizer or side, a Lemon Lettuce Wrap that is full of nutrition but you will want to lick your plate afterward, and an Oriental Noodle dish that will remind you of cooked Asian meals. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE it if you would RSVP and let me know if you were absolutely coming. I’ve gotten used to people letting me know the day of that they can and cannot make it, but its hard to plan that way. But, I don’t want to discourage anyone from not attending simply because their schedule is a little more spontaneous than mine. ;) These two RRNs are both on the west side in Peoria, see my website for the exact address.
New Location in the East Valley!
Exciting news!!! I have a third location for my Raw Recipe Nights! My good friend David has volunteered his home in Scottsdale as a prime location for a RRN. August 21st will be the debut RRN, in the afternoon. We will be doing something a little different at this location: learning three recipes, but also having a small lecture/Q&A session. It will be a three hour class instead of the customary RRN…and it will also be in the afternoon instead of the evening. For that time period, the price has also changed. It will be $40 at the door and $30 prepaid, to encourage people to pay ahead of time and reserve their spot. This location has a bit of a cap, so I literally can’t allow a large amount of people…we need to keep it cozy and intimate. The theme for the evening will be crackers and dips. I’ll be demonstrating two different types of hummus, two garlicy spreads, and a simple and easy way to make crackers. Everyone will have plenty to snack on and take home, and I’ll be selling some dips and crackers as well.
Can you believe that my Raw Recipe Nights first became public and I started this business three months ago? Already I have three locations (with a fourth vying for my business) in which to hold Raw Recipe Nights, I have two clients whom I work with one-on-one, and I have an UnCookBook due at the end of the month! CRAZY!
I have had lots of questions lately, some of which I’ll save for the next newsletter (if you haven’t received a copy, make sure you email me with your info so I can send you one!), but I’ll go over a few with you right now.
Q: My first green smoothie was less than appetizing. Do you have any green smoothie recipes for beginners?
A: The main beginner blunder when making green smoothies is the attempt to add far more greens than your body is comfortable with. I did the same thing with my first green smoothie. I thought 2-3 cups of greens was very little compared to the 3-4 cups of fruit I had put into my Vitamix. I could barely choke it down and was completely discouraged. The second mistake I made was not adding enough water and it being more like pudding than something I could drink down easily. When I say to have one part greens and two parts fruit, I mean it! Also…a friend mentioned the fact that it felt wasteful to put so much fruit into a smoothie when she enjoyed simply eating the fruit. I would suggest you use fruit that you aren’t as enthusiastic about for your smoothies and save the savory fruit to eat whole. Say you love apple slices, enjoy those by yourself. Not a big fan of melon? Pears? Try them in a smoothie and you’ll feel less wasteful. I LOVE to put overripe fruit in my smoothies…things like mushy bananas, bruised pears, old and rock hard oranges. They are still nutritious, yet unpalatable. What better way to eat them, than by blending them into a full meal?
Here are some easy beginner green smoothie recipes:
I find that spinach, swiss chard, and kale are the mildest of greens (besides many wild edible greens like purslane and lambsquarters), and I always love bananas in my smoothies as it makes it nice and creamy and provides a wonderful sweetness. I know many people aren’t as big of fans of bananas, so I included some non-banana smoothie recipes. Again, make these to your tastes…if they aren’t sweet enough then experiment and throw another piece of fruit in.
NONE of this is going to waste. Your body will get all the nutrition and will use it! None of us chew our food to a creamy consistency before we swallow it, which is what the blender does, so we are losing lots of nutrition simply by chewing improperly. So if you buy a bunch of fruit and it all goes into the blender…think of it as one large (or two) meals and your body is receiving lots of protein, calcium, iron (from those awesome greens), as well as tons of vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in anything processed (even if it’s “fortified”).
Q: Just a quick question about where to find cheap produce: what's the easiest way you've found for price comparing? I'm trying to conserve money as much as possible right now and I'm going to have to start looking for cheaper than the most convenient.
A: Here is what I do and it's what I personally know about. First: google map the grocery stores in your area (simply to get a list, whether you would go to them or not). Then, see if they all have online ads (most do). Then, for each ad, do a search for produce. Start comparing them to one another and you'll find which stores have the cheapest produce on a regular basis. You can either go to the cheaper stores and do your shopping there, or make a list of all the stores and the produce that you like at the cheapest prices. Take your list to a Super Walmart (that sells produce) and they will match those prices for you.
For example in my area of Phoenix: We have Bashas, Frys, Albertsons, Sprouts, Walmart, Food City, Ranch Market, Safeway, and Trader Joes. Through searching in their online ads, I’ve found that Food City and Ranch Market sell produce for at least half, if not more, the price of the other supermarkets. So I take those specials to Walmart and they sell me things like bananas for a quarter a pound, peaches for a quarter a pound, cherries for .69 a pound. Of course, this is all conventional produce, not organic. I check Bashas, Safeway, the higher end stores for their organic produce sales and see if Walmart sells organic (which most in my area do). OR, if I have time I will drive down to a Ranch Market and buy their produce, as there is much that is NOT in their online ad that is still ridiculously inexpensive. So, check in your area and find who sells the cheaper produce.
ALSO!!! Google CSA or Farmer’s market or orchards or farm in your area. Call or stop by and see if they are organic, what their prices are, and if it’s a CSA, how much produce you will get for your investment. When I was in Pennsylvania I found a wonderful little farm that had a farm stand and a U-pick (usually even cheaper) that was all organic. It is where I purchased almost all my produce and it was wonderfully priced. Always support local produce, it’s healthier for you and it’s closer to the earth (better for everyone!).
Next Blog Post
Okay, I believe that’s everything for tonight. Tomorrow or the next day I’ll be blogging about Christian Stewardship. My friend asked me how I believe it ties into diet and health and I will be responding for everyone to read. I’ll also be praying that the words flow from God through me so that it might be understandable and relatable. J
*** Spoiler alert*** This may be for females only...or males with strong constitutions. ***
Every so often I stop drinking Green Smoothies. I think it's the pure stubborn, bull-headed nature I have. You know when you know that something is good for you, and that is the exact reason you don't want to do it? Or you know that something is bad for you, but that makes it only more appealing? Or the way God puts it: "For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time" (The Message, Romans 7:15-20) I love this passage because it reminds me that there is a struggle going on...within me. Those old cartoons with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other really weren't that far off. I will always have an enemy that wants me to fail. I will always have an advocate, a coach, cheering me on. Which voice will I choose to listen to?
Well, I have been off green smoothies for about a week. I don't know how it happened, they just didn't appeal to me much and then I got used to not drinking them...and then I made one or two, but drank maybe a glass and threw the rest away, which made me feel guilty and...well, you get the picture. So, I've been noticing small things with my health and wondering if they were related. My skin started to get drier and I got a pimple...maybe not a big deal, but huge if you haven't had one in a year! My hair got duller...weird. I started having problems sleeping again. Of course...I'm not linking any of these to the green smoothies. Part of me didn't want to admit that they were that incredible.
Then, I couldn't deny it any longer. I got my period last night. Now, let me give you a little background (if it's too much information, I apologize)...ever since I've gotten my period (age 11), I've had serious cramps. When I say serious cramps, TWO gynecologists that I've seen have compared them to contractions. As in, my abdominal muscles tighten up, along with my uterus. Fun! I was suspended from high school once for leaving to get medicine that they wouldn't give me in school. While I was teaching I saw a doctor because I couldn't take off work every month, and he prescribed morphine. Never took it...I was scared of it. So, I kept taking time off every month. Once it came upon me suddenly and my students found me lying in the fetal position and had to call the principal to my classroom. Yeah, that's fun. So...I never get to brag about this, but when I went raw....NO CRAMPS. Whatsoever. Now for someone who has battled with severe pain...this was practically euphoric. I went 100%raw at the beginning of October and by the end of the month when my cycle came...no pain. No bloating. No discomfort. Nada. Woah.
Okay, fast forward to last night. I'm lying in bed trying to sleep and I started getting slight cramps. Now nothing even remotely close to what I've dealt with my entire life, but the first bout of cramps I've had in almost two years. My brain went directly to the lack of green smoothies for the past week. I almost completely dismissed the idea, but thought, what the heck. So this morning I made a liter of smoothie (very yummy - spinach, apple, kiwi), and made sure I drank the whole thing. I had cramps when I began, and after my first glass, they started to subside. After my second, they were gone. Six hours later, they are a distant memory. Holy Moly had no idea that Green Smoothies were that powerful. The woman who turned me onto Green Smoothies, Victoria Boutenko, has a blog and about a month ago a woman mentioned that her menopause symptoms disappeared within minutes of drinking her green smoothie and I thought...well, that's just placebo-ish. Your brain takes care of most of it, right? Well...placebo or not, I have first-hand proof that they actually relieve pain. Wow.
And onto an even more yummy topic...digestion! If you think you are regular now, you will be astounded at what your body eliminates once you provide it with nutrition it doesn't normally get. Well, and lots of fiber. ;)
Okay, that's enough for today, won't you say? Needless to say, I'm buzzing over the fact that I didn't need pain-killers (nor would I have used them)....it seemed that my body simply needed some nutrition I hadn't been giving it.
This week is exciting. The first week of the new CSA I'm organizing starts this Thursday and I have several people starting next Thursday, so it's never too late to sign up!!! I can't wait to see what is in my basket of produce, and what inspirations will hit me with new creations in the kitchen! Then, on Saturday I hold my first Raw Pie Recipe Class. I'll be making pies ahead of time to sample as well and I'm planning on making a flag pie...strawberries, blueberries...oh yeah, pictures will come. :)
I hope your week and weekend going swimmingly!! What health issues, small or big, do you wish you could be free from? What has your doctor said that you will have to live with for the rest of your life? What do YOU wish were different?
About the Blogger
Haley is passionate about Raw Food and how God has used it to heal her. She loves to share what she knows with anyone who is curious, and finds herself talking to everyone around her about her lifestyle.