*** 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?
Raw Recipe Night SUCCESS!
The first official Raw Recipe Night hosted by Living Raw By Grace kicked off on Saturday, June 12th and the second was on the 21st. They both featured Raw Dips/Spreads/Dressings. I loved choosing dips as the first class, because you don't have to be raw in any aspect whatsoever to enjoy a dip. You can even eat them with crackers and chips, but it's a wonderfully healthy addition to your lifestyle. It's also a very simple raw meal...you grab some carrots, broccoli, celery, and/or cucumber and your dip of choice, and voila...you've had a raw meal! They were all either nut, seed, or bean based, which is your protein and complex carb (for those who like that full feeling) in their natural state, which also included all the vitamins and minerals that you usually cook right out and end up in the boiling water. Featured was a cashew "cheese" sauce, a garbanzo bean hummus, and a sunflower seed garlic spread, all with less than ten ingredients and taking less than five minutes to make. No cooking/baking/grilling = no waiting! I usually keep 2-3 dips in my fridge at all times as a quick meal or snack. I have at least ten more dip recipes, so I may do another dip class in a few months. This was by far the easiest raw dish class. The next will be a bit more involved, but still very easy. We'll be making pies next weekend, and I cannot wait. Raw desserts are by far my favorite to make and share, since they don't taste "healthy" at all. :) We'll be making a Lemon Meringue, a Chocolate Mousse (it was an apple pie I decided to replace), and a peach cobbler. Since the first class is during Independence Day weekend, I believe I'll make my lemon meringue pie into a flag. :) Can you tell I'm excited?!
I was hoping to post pictures when I told everyone about the class, but I haven't gotten them downloaded yet...I need to bring my own camera to the next one...or someone should come take pictures for a free spot! ;) ;) Speaking of spots, there are only around ten spots per class (to keep it cozy and the costs down), so if you are interested, make sure you prepay to save your spot! The second pie class is almost full!
During each class you get a cutting board and knife, (oh yeah, I put you to work! - no really, when you take part of the creation, it's more 'yours') a recipe sheet and pen (to take lavish notes), and a sample of the dish while we make it and some to take home (either bring your own reusable container or buy one at the class). You can ask any and every question you can think of...and I'll try to pay attention to what I make while I talk. I still haven't mastered that yet, and every so often I slip and lick my utensils. ;)
Feel free to visit the Calendar for a list of upcoming classes and you can register directly on the website through Google Checkout.
Local, organic CSA
Horny Toad Farms supplies the produce at the farmer's market that I attend every Thursday night in Peoria, AZ and I have gotten to talk to the farmer, Stella, quite frequently about personalizing the produce she brings. I use greens like most people drink soda, so I'm always interested in organic greens. She usually supplies me with chard and lettuces, for ridiculously cheap prices for organic produce. This past week she mentioned her CSA, which is simply a prearranged, prepaid basket of produce that she delivers weekly. It's 8-10 different items in varying quantities that will change every week, depending on what is in season and what she harvests. I love that her farm is in Phoenix, and you can't get more local than that! The price of the basket is $20, which is cheaper than any CSA in the area (believe me, I've looked), and it's delivered to the Farmer's Market that is ten minutes from my house. Well, I'm sold! In fact, I have to share this with everyone! Stella tends to run at least 5-10 different farmer's markets in the valley, which keeps her plenty busy, you know...besides running her farm. So, I decided to help her out (I love the idea of helping a local farmer!!!) and organize the CSA at this farmer's market. I already have three that have prepaid and can't wait to see her face when a dozen people show up for her CSA this Thursday.
Yes, this Thursday we are starting it up. :) We will prepay for the first three weeks, so $60. You can pay by check or cash when you arrive on Thursday to pick up, or I can make a button on my CSA info page on my website to pay through, just let me know. You can choose from two different baskets: a raw basket which contains mostly vegetables and fruit that you can eat raw, or the regular basket which contains things like potatoes, onions, eggplant and other things that you would use very sparingly, if at all, in raw dishes. Each week you will receive the pick of the pick regarding produce (the leftovers will be sold at the farmer's market). After the first week, I am planning on holding a quick little class on what raw dishes you can make with the produce in your basket. Something simple, and possibly some recipes to try out on your own with the produce you get. Also...if you cannot make some week, or Thursday nights are difficult for you to commit to, I can always take your produce home and meet you somewhere (or you can come to my place) to pick up in the next few days. Just realize that I have VERY limited fridge space...so it will have to wait out for you in my laundry room (dark and cool...hopefully will help your produce keep). :)
LRBG is BUSY these days. If you are interested in the CSA, please contact me as soon as possible. If you miss this week's deadline, I'll let you know and get you signed up for next week's. You can always email me at LivingRawByGrace@mail.com, or contact me through my website, or visit my facebook page whether you want to sign up for a Raw Recipe Night or the CSA.
For those who are not in Phoenix, CSAs are everywhere and the organic produce is usually much cheaper (not to mention healthier) than what you find in stores. Check it out!
I’m so excited; I’m not sure what to talk about first! I’ll start with what I’ve been up to in the kitchen for the past hour. I find wonderful recipes on Goneraw.com, along with raw blogs and then I tweak them. I cut out a lot of unnecessary ingredients, substitute exotic ingredients with those I have in my kitchen, and I tend to simplify the process as well. Just as if you had gone online to look up an easy meatloaf recipe, or asked a relative, I go online to find ideas for how something has been made before. Goneraw is awesome simply because it’s a search-able database, so I plug in the exact dish I’m looking for, or simply the ingredients I have leftover that I need to use, and voila! There are multiple recipes to take a look at.
I’ve been itching to make this wonderful “Stir Fry” that I found online. Of course, I made a few subtractions and additions, and quantities may not have been measured. I like to make food to my taste buds…a little more of this, a little less of that, etc. The stir fry I found was a mock “rice” mixture with other chopped veggies, covered in a spicy sauce. I LOVED it…and my simplifications qualify it as a LRBG recipe, so into the recipe book it goes! This is definitely a main entrée and I might add it to my Raw Recipe Night: Asian Entrees and Appetizers.
My second dish was “Fettuccini Alfredo” that I will be adding to one of my Italian Raw Recipe Nights. I have planned three so far, but this may classify as a fourth. I cut the sauce down to five ingredients all blended together – literally less than 90 seconds to make, and I used Kelp Noodles. These bad boys are so close to the cooked version, it’s scary. Neutral tasting – no fishy taste, clear, and they absorb the sauce they are in. AND, they are a sea plant and hold nutrients (alginates that have a soothing and cleansing effect on the digestive tract, iron, iodine, etc) that aren’t found in land plants, thus making a wonderful addition to my lifestyle. I made it tonight and I’m going to let it marinade overnight and have it for breakfast. I cannot wait. I love how easy it was…a 90 second meal for two.
My third dish for the evening was so simply I am kicking myself for not making it sooner. I have seen multiple recipes for a raw ‘yogurt’, but most included fermentation – which I neither have the interest in doing, or the patience. This recipe I found, which was part of a larger, more complicated recipe, but contained an easy yogurt like dish. It was so easy and SO delicious that I’m sharing it with all of you! It’ll be in my recipe book, and I’m sure It will be a part of some Raw Recipe Night I do…but it’s too good to hoard for myself.
· 2 ripe bananas
· 1 cup cashews
· Juice of 1 lemon
· ½ cup water (for blending)
First, puree bananas until smooth. Add cashews, lemon juice, and water (add more if it gets too thick and won’t move). Chill after blending to let it thicken. Enjoy with fresh berries, drizzled honey, or crushed nuts!
A couple nights ago I made stuffed mushrooms…anticipating my Raw Recipe Night: Holiday Appetizers coming up in the fall. I experimented with both button mushrooms and shitake mushrooms. Both mushrooms have been found to have more antioxidants than most vibrantly colored vegetables. They also contain many minerals and vitamins such as selenium, copper, niacin, potassium and the powerful antioxidant L-ergothineine, which protects against breast cancer and prostate cancer. I chopped the stems off and filled them with a wonderful avocado/tomato/garlic/whatever-was-left-in-my-fridge. While I absolutely adored these little powerhouses of nutrition and scrumptiousness, I’ll have to make them again to nail down a good solid stuffing recipe, as I was just experimenting before. I also ate them too quickly to take pictures. Yay! I have to make them again!
My next exciting thing to talk about is the upcoming classes I’m holding. I scheduled FOUR Raw Recipe Nights for August. The first two (which will be repeats of one another so if you miss one, you can hit the second) are on Asian Entrees and Appetizers. I’ll be featuring an Orange Broccoli, a Lemon Ginger Lettuce Wrap, and an Oriental Noodle dish (although, this stir fry might bump one of those dishes out). I always used to like getting Chinese takeout when I ate the Standard American Diet (otherwise known as S.A.D.). These dishes are very reminiscent of their cooked counterparts. AND…they are easier! I love how simple uncooking is.
The last week of August will feature two more classes, this time on raw ice cream. Yes…ice cream. Dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, all the stuff that makes us sick or phlegmy, or guilt-ridden…is gone. Just like our pies will set you free from restricting your diet, this Ice Cream is Gods sent…literally. My daughter and I have a bowl of raw ice cream every morning for breakfast, which is hilarious. Not only is it good for us with only fruits and spices, but it’s DELICIOUS! August 23rd and 28th will feature Chocolate Almond Ice Cream, Vanilla Blackberry Ice Cream, and a Mango Strawberry Sorbet. Yum!!! I can’t wait to share these with everyone and how simple they are to make. Again, under five ingredients in all of them.
Lastly…I’ve been working on the rest of this website. Slow going, I know…but I’m chipping away at it. I also had some new inspirations. I’ve decided to list a page citing all the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc. and their health benefits. Arm yourselves with knowledge…learn what is so incredible about your food and it will motivate you to continue to eat raw, fresh foods. Have fun poking around my About Raw page…it will be loaded soon. Okay, time for me to finish my stir fry for the evening while watching an episode of Lost. Have a great night everyone!!!
I LOVE getting email regarding this website/blog. I have a few faithful followers who are full of questions, which is so much fun. I have had a few questions that I want to share with you.
Q: Is the peach/apple sauce recipe you posted possible to make in a normal "cheap blender" vs one of the $300 blenders that you have?
A: While I love my Vitamix and can't imagine life without it...it was expensive. I know several raw foodies that use regular blenders. One of my good friends has a pretty cheap Walmart blender that she uses hardcore and does the job. There are only two differences when making smoothies and sauces/dips: it won't get quite as smooth as mine (which is okay...applesauces are nice a little chunky), and you won't break down the chlorophyll in the greens as well (they have very strong cell walls), but ANY raw food is better than none. Do NOT allow appliances to hold you back from health!
Most raw recipes require one of three appliances: blender, food processor, dehydrator. Now I own the top notch stuff because those are the ONLY appliances I will use. I don't have to buy an expensive stove, coffee maker, toaster oven, pots/pans, microwave, roaster, etc. AND, I use these daily. My blender also grinds nuts, seeds, and grains to make flour/meal, as well as blending so fast it warms up my soup (I actually have to be careful not to cook with it!). But if you aren't using your blender for these types of things, you can buy your flour or meal already prepared and stick with your current blender. As for a food processor, I found a wonderfully expensive Cuisinart on craigslist...unopened in box for half the selling price in the department stores. Notice a trend? Craigslist for my processor and my blender is the refurbished, two year old style. :) When you get to fun recipes that require a dehydrator, there are several other ways to dehydrate without breaking the bank. First, if you live in Arizona..the weather is completely suitable. I have been softening/dehydrating my squash lately by putting it into a casserole dish covered with foil and leaving it in the sun for a few hours. Voila! OR...depending on your make of oven/stove...some have a "warm" setting. You might want to check just how warm it gets (meat thermometer works fine), and try to keep it under 115 degrees to retain as much nutrition as possible (I WILL finish the page explaining this).
So do you need to go out and buy fancy equipment to make the recipes I enjoy? NO! There are always ways to make your current appliances work. Nuts and dried fruit not getting processed like you were hoping? Soak them first! Food getting stuck? Add a liquid! I'll go into those in another post, but feel free to ask more questions regarding this!
Q: I don't think I can go completely raw like you, I don't think I can give up meat completely, and definitely not bread. How can I go partially raw to receive the most benefits, without going all the way?
A: There are THREE easy ways to begin to add more raw foods into your diet. You don't have to do all three, but feel free to do so! The first one is my favorite and I totally use it with my family.
1. Eat ONE piece (or more, if you choose) of fruit before every meal. This way you add more and more to your diet, while still eating whatever you like. However, it will help to fill you up, so you eat less and less of the non-raw foods. Not to mention, this will not hurt your wallet...especially if you check to see what fruit is on sale in your area, or price match...
2. Replace one of your meals (the smallest one of your day: breakfast, lunch, etc.) with a green smoothie. Smoothie, not juice, because it contains the fiber and will fill you up as you drink it. You take a few leaves of greens, a few pieces of fruit, blend them all together and sip it slowly over an hour or so. THIS will provide the most benefits and changes...greens are powerful healers. They contain TONS of wonderful minerals and vitamins: iron, calcium, proteins, vitamins A, C, Bs, and all the other ones. Check out my Green Smoothies page and click on each green to find out what the benefits of each are. Not only will this fortify your body with whatever nutrition you are lacking, but it will improve your digestive health, your skin, and will help rehydrate you as well. Most of us don't drink enough water...well, not only is there lots of water/ice in your smoothie, but the fruit content is mostly water as well.
3. Try to eat one meal raw, or two meals. Hallelujah Acres is a raw food program that does two raw meals, one cooked meal. Albeit their cooked meal is restrictive, yours need not be. Feel free to eat whatever you like for that one or two cooked meals. Keeping one meal raw doesn't mean you ONLY drink smoothies...or eat salads. I will continue to post lots of fun raw dishes that are simple to make yet delicious. Raw desserts are lots of fun in this area: I have raw ice cream for breakfast every morning. It is GOOD for me, it is delicious, and my daughter begs me for it every morning. So, have that ice cream for breakfast, smoothie for lunch, and that steak dinner. Enjoy your food, don't restrict your diet.
Also, the technical (if you want to split hairs) "qualifications" for being raw is 80% - 100% of your diet is raw foods. I'm not sure how you figure out what percentage you are raw. I suppose when MOST of your diet is raw, you can consider yourself a raw foodist. Labels can be very limiting, but I have found the most benefits when I'm 100%. Out of the 100-200 raw foodists that I have met in Phoenix, at the various potlucks (which I'll blog about later), I've met only a few who claim 100%. Most simply like the way they feel eating mostly raw. Some say they are "High Raw," "Partially Raw," "experimenting with raw," etc.
The more raw food you incorporate into your diet, the more drastic the benefits will be. There are COUNTLESS (and my next post will be about this) testimonies of DRASTIC healing of chronic conditions, life threatening diseases, morbid obesity, and much more by going raw...and the more raw you go, the more complete the healing. I, myself, no longer have debilitating asthma. Allergies. Eczema. PMS. And so much more. My digestive health is wonderful, my skin is clear, I've lost those stubborn last ten pounds after having a child, my eyesight has improved, I have WAY more energy, and I need less sleep. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I went raw for my health. This is what I want to share with you. God is so good. :)
My frugality is an aspect of my personality, but it sure helps with grocery shopping. I love to bargain hunt, shop at thrift stores, craigslist, ebay, go to clothing swaps and freecycle. Now I can add one more to my list: Price Matching. I had heard of it before, but was always intimidated by it. I could just imagine myself in line with a host of angry shoppers behind me as I fumble with grocery ads, redfaced and seemingly inept. How wrong I was!
Here is the concept: you search the grocery weekly ads for all the stores in your area. You find the bargains you like (i.e. cherries for $.79/lb - no kidding!), and then you find what stores "Price Match," like our Super Walmarts do here in Arizona. Then you take your list of bargains (and possibly all the ads as proof), you shop for the items, and at the checkout line you proclaim your "Price Matching" stance and voila! CRAZY bargains in one place. :) My becoming-better-friend-by-the-day, Christa, introduced me to how easy it was, and she even included the sales for the week. What?! A friend who not only shows me how to save MORE money, but makes it effortless?! Now, that is incredible! So, let me be that friend for you!!!
If you are in the Phoenix Area:
Ranch Market sells the CHEAPEST produce by far...check out the online ad for the sales you like.
Food City comes in at a close second.
Sprouts is where I do almost ALL my shopping (although, not anymore).
And then you have Bashas, Frys, Safeway, Albertsons, Fresh & Easy, have I missed any?
Just click on any of those links and you'll be able to find the grocery ads. When I went to Walmart I didn't have to have the ads, just my little notebook of prices and locations. The cashier acted like it was completely normal. SO easy and I saved more than I spent. How awesome is that?!
Now the great thing about this is that it works not only for produce, which is all I buy, but also for EVERYTHING! For boxed meals, wine, meat, cheese...ANYTHING. Can you tell I'm geeking out about this?! Yup, it's what I'm doing from now on.
3 Peaches, pits removed
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
5 dates, pits removed
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Serve cold.
p.s. isn't that wooden bowl adorable?! I got a whole set at goodwill for a few dollars. I love wood...so warm and inviting...makes me feel all old fashioned. ;)
MORE Raw Recipe Nights!
Even though I haven't even held one official Raw Recipe Night for the public, I am planning away. I have added three more Nights to the Calendar, a few weeknights for those moms whose weekends are family nights, and a new class: pies! Ooooooh, desserts are my favorite Raw dishes. There is ZERO guilt. You can eat two helpings, heck let yourself have that third piece of Chocolate Mousse Pie! Not only is it NOT bad for you, but there is lots of good nutrition in there that is healthy and nutritious.
Whether that dessert be my Lemon Meringue Pie that is so scrumptious I make it every Sunday so I can have a slice EVERY DAY, or my Vanilla Almond "Ice Cream" that we eat every morning for breakfast (unless it's Chocolate Almond, like today). Desserts are wonderfully filling, in fact they can be an entire meal. Usually a nut or seed base (your protein, and vitamins and minerals), with plenty of fresh fruits (the rest of your vitamins, minerals, and fiber), along with some fun spices and oils. While I'd love to do a "desserts" night, there are too many to choose from. So, this one will focus on PIES. I will be supplying you with my famous Lemon Meringue Pie (that has less than five ingredients!), a simple Apple Pie, and a delicious Peach Cobbler (because it's peach season!). ALL of these take less than five minutes to create, have very few ingredients, and are inexpensive. You don't need to be a raw foodie like myself to make and enjoy these lovely creations. That's the fun of it!
Interested in the desserts theme? Stayed tuned for "Raw Chocolate Night" and "Raw Desserts in Under Five Minutes & Five Dollars" and "Raw Ice Cream Night" and "Raw Cupcakes Night" and much, much more. Oh, and have I mentioned that I'm creating a Raw Recipe Book? We have schemed that we will have binders available at each of the Raw Recipe Nights. The more nights you come to, the more pages of recipes to add to your binder...thereby making your own Raw Recipe Book! OR...when I'm finished you can simply purchase the whole thing. Should be within the next month!
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.