Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brooke Siler's new Pilates dvd

I just finished Brooke Siler's new Pilates dvd from the Element series, Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners -- First of all, Yay for Brooke finally making a dvd! I bought her first book, The Pilates Body, long ago and loved using it at night when I didn't feel like doing a dvd -- it's packed full of moves and information. Then I bought her Pilates Body Kit and have used those cards (and the Intermediate CD -- photo down much lower - not enough room here) many, many times. (Her newer book, Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge, didn't thrill me as much -- I liked the exercises in it, but there was much dedicated to Pilates form in activities like Golf that didn't really interest me). I've also enjoyed seeing Brooke sharing Pilates on TV shows from time to time, and she's been a contributer to Pilates Style Magazine. (I especially the September/October 2007 issue with her on the cover -- with a 6 week Pilates ball regime by Brooke inside. She also talked about having to get her own body back into pre-pregnancy shape after training so many others to do the same -- how she saw it in a new light being the one whose body went through the changes).

I rarely write reviews anymore, but I'm too excited about this one not to talk about it!

Anyway, Brooke recently teamed up with Andrea Ambandos (whom I worked with on the Slim Series Express -- she's produced most of the exercise videos on the market over the past 15+ years) and made a 51 minute Pilates dvd. My only hesitation when I saw this at Collage was that it says it's for Beginners (the title is even Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners). It makes me wonder if any of the Collage staff has done this video (or if they've done others and can compare).

Generally, Pilates videos for beginners spend time setting up each move and often take them slowly. This one doesn't do that at all. The only thing I saw that seemed more beginner-ish than intermediate was the leg circles (she did them with a bent knee on the floor instead of a straight leg), the teasers (we did teaser preps, but never full teasers -- but even the teaser preps were tough), and when we did the push-up preps, we had bent knees instead of a plank position- - but later I realized this was because it's a prep -- she did full planks at the end.

So I just have to get that out of the way. It's a solid Intermediate Pilates workout. The first 1/2 is done standing. On the menu, it says "Cardio" but it's nothing like Ana Caban's Cardio Pilates or Energizer Pilates. You're not doing jumping jacks or knee ups or anything like that. It's more like Ellen Barrett's style of standing Pilates. But it's different. It's more precise than flowing. It does flow, but you don't feel like you're doing Ballet moves -- you feel like you're doing Pilates moves while standing. From the very start (warm up moves), I felt completely conscientious of what each part of my body was doing -- even in shoulder circles. Brooke's just very precise and good at giving imagery for what to do and does her moves with precision so you can see what to do.

The menu gives you the option to do just the Cardio (standing work) or just the Mat work -- or both. I chose to do the complete program, which is unusual for me. I can do yoga for an hour or even an hour and a half, but I usually want to stop doing Pilates after about 1/2 hour. I had hopes though that Brooke would keep my interest. I was right.

The second 1/2 is on the mat and it's mostly traditional Pilates moves. I was interested to see her form because she was trained by Romana Kryzanowska (who was trained by Joseph Pilates -- I'm sure most of you know that). Anyway, it was interesting because on the seal exercise -- Brooke doesn't clap her feet together so her soles meet -- they are still in Pilates position -- so she's clapping the inner edges of her feet. (Brooke has VERY long feet, btw :)).

I've always loved Brooke's voice (from hearing it on her CDs). It was just a pleasure to hear her voiceover throughout. She has amazingly helpful cues -- like when we were preparing to sit up straight for roll over -- she said to pretend that the mat had hot coals and you were lifting your bottom up as much as you could (I'm butchering how eloquently she said it, but you get the general idea). Another one I liked was in a side series move (I think it was leg circles) -- she said to imagine you're brushing crumbs off the lower leg as you circle around.

It was really wonderful to do Pilates with Brooke. It's really obvious that she's spent her life studying (and teaching) Pilates. It's much different than doing some of the videos that are by less experienced fitness instructors who decided to get Pilates training along the way. The production (scenery, music, sound) was just perfect. For $9.10 (free shipping, even) at DeepDiscount, it's a steal.

I hope Brooke continues to make more Pilates dvds. But for now, I'm plenty happy to do this one a few times each week.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Healthy Eating Plan -- Changing the way you shop

Before I get into menus, I want to talk about shopping. If you only learn to make one new meal a day and have lots of unhealthy food choices around during the day, you probably won't notice many changes in your health or the health of your kids. Until you change the way you shop, your kids will want the food that you've always bought before. You probably will too.

I wrote a post a few months ago about Dr. Mehmet Oz's recommendations (or Food Hall of Shame) to avoid certain foods ( & to look for them on labeling -- they're in more foods than you may realize) -- namely:
  • Sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Refined flour (or enriched wheat flour)
  • Saturated fat
  • Hydrogenated oil
I'm going to copy and paste from my earlier post so you don't have to go back and forth:

If any of these 5 ingredients are in the top 5 listed on a food ingredient list, Dr. Oz says not to buy it (or eat it either -- you may not always be buying :)). I tend to reject the food if they're anywhere in the label. It's a great place to start if you want to shop (and feed) healthier in your home.

  • Top 5 Ingredients to AVOID – Read the labels before buying for yourself or family

    Learning how to read food labels is like looking at a prescription for your health and your life. Dr. Mehmet Oz says to look for red-flag ingredients—if they're listed among the top five ingredients overall, steer clear!
  1. Sugar - When you eat or drink sugar, Dr. Oz says the sudden energy surge your body experiences is followed by an insulin surge that rapidly drops the blood sugar level—so two hours later, you feel famished and tired. To keep an even keel, Dr. Oz says to replace simple carbohydrates with complex ones so the absorption is more controlled and you experience long-term satiety. "Sugar is supposed to be eaten, of course," says Dr. Oz, "but it should come together with fat or some element like fiber—as you would find in fruit—so you can absorb it a bit more slowly."
  2. High fructose corn syrup - Although they taste sweet, Dr. Oz says food products that contain high fructose corn syrup should be avoided. Dr. Oz says the body processes the sugar in high-fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters your body's natural ability to regulate appetite. "It blocks the ability of a chemical called leptin, which is the way your fat tells your brain it's there," says Dr. Oz. "It's not so much the 150 calories in the soda pop—it's the fact at that same meal you will normally consume an extra hundred calories of food than you would have."
  3. Enriched wheat flour (white flour) - Contrary to what its name suggests, Dr. Oz says enriched flour is actually poor in nutrition because most of the grain's nutrients are destroyed in the refining process. "The reason they enrich it is because they already stripped out anything that was worth a darn in it, and they add a little bit back so it doesn't look so bad," says Dr. Oz. Instead, he says to look for whole grains and whole grain flours. "It has its kernels, it has its B vitamins—all the things you want to be in there," says Dr. Oz.
  4. Saturated fat - Found mainly in animal products, Dr. Oz says to avoid saturated fats that are solid at room temperature, like lard. "You can actually use this kind of material for furniture polish—lots of fun things—but don't put it in you," he says.
  5. Hydrogenated oil - To increase their shelf life, Dr. Oz says certain oils are hydrogenated. This process turns the oil into a solid at room temperature, but it also makes the oil unhealthy. "This stuff is great because it doesn't go bad, but it's very bad for you," says Dr. Oz. Avoid food products that contain hydrogenated oil, often labeled as "trans fats."

I'll be back to share tips on what foods don't have these -- it takes some looking & hunting around for awhile to figure it out. I'd love it if I could save you time (and hopefully you'll love it too! :))

Okay -- I'm back -- I think what I'll do is address one food at at time. I'm not sure if I should make separate posts for each food (since this will take several days) or if I should just keep them all in this post. Decisions, decisions. Perhaps I'll make new posts and have the links all listed here?? I'm just thinking if I do them all in this post, it will get buried -- hmm, hmm, hmm. I have to go pick up my son from Kindergarten right now. I'll think about it. TTFN!

I think I'll write it here for your convenience (like if you plan to print this for easy reference or something), but if it's big enough for a full post, I may post it in individual sections too for those who can't read something this long in one sitting (plus it will show up on the archive and someone may want to read about hydrogenated fat, but not know it's within this post). Boy I think these things through to the hilt, don't I? :)

I've decided to take each of the foods and make a separate post out of it. That way, you'll know that I've written more -- it will get buried here if I keep adding on (but make new posts up above).

I will give links to all the new posts though. And I'll keep the sugars and fats together. So here we go with the links:

Sugar -- Shopping for Healthier Eating
Saturated Fat/Hydrogenated Oil -- Shopping for Healthier Eating
Flour -- Shopping (& Baking) for Healthier Eating

See you at the new posts!

Super comfy high-heeled shoes!

I know I'm getting distracted from my talk about food and fitness, but I just have to share how wonderful Born shoes are. I've bought Born shoes in the past, when I've seen them at Ross and they're made well, are comfortable, etc.

It wasn't until I went to L.A. in July (and spent some time with a good friend of mine one evening), that I learned how comfortable their higher heeled shoes are. I complemented my friend on her sandals (that probably had a 3 inch heel). We had kicked off our shoes while we sat on the floor to visit and when she told me "I could wear those all day -- they are so comfortable," I looked to see what kind they were. They were Born shoes.

I like wearing taller shoes from time to time, but rarely find ones I could bare to wear all day long. So I did a little research on what Born had to offer in the way of heels. I went to Zappos.com and picked out maybe 5 pair of shoes to try on. The great thing about Zappos is that they give free shipping both ways, so it's like sending a shoe store to your home. I read reviews as I chose and the Hart shoe repeatedly had raving reports of comfort. After my trying on spree, I wholeheartedly agree.

I'm not sure what it is with these shoes, but they are so comfortable that I don't want to take them off! I usually go bare foot at home, but after wearing my Hart sandals out during the day, I end up leaving them on because they feel so good! My only hesitation is that if I wear them more I will wear them out sooner and now have them as long. But they are THAT comfortable! (And I usually end up telling myself, "Just buy more later -- wear them now!"

I know they're a little pricey, but they may show up at Ross or TJ Maxx sometime. I also found them at Overstock.com in limited sizes. (I've shopped at Overstock for years). There are several pair (new, even) on e-bay too. Wow! I just looked on Amazon and you can get some sizes (even the red ones) for $39.99. They don't have the black or the red in my size (Phew! It's probably a good thing to save me from spending more money!)

After this fun finding, I decided to see if I could find another color on e-bay. I ended up trying out another style because I'd had a similar heel from a pair of Sbicca shoes several years ago and they were also heavenly to wear. It's called Viga and I can't find it retail anywhere, but e-bay still sells them new, so they're probably at stores like Ross somewhere. They're really cute with jeans and skirts and are 2nd on my list of comfort. The only negative to them is that they have elastic right under the buckle, which makes it "give" a bit at first. Once I got used to that (or my foot molded more -- within a few weeks), I didn't notice it as much.

I never did find what I remembered my friend's shoes to look like. I think it may be the Fremont sandal though. Kind of interesting because it's a combination of the two pairs of shoes I bought -- similar to the buckle and criss/cross of the black Vigas and the same heel & sole as the Hart shoes. It looks like they don't make these anymore either (she bought hers at Nordstrom though). But they do show up on e-bay and may be in a store near you! (No, I'm not making any money off of this in any way, but I couldn't resist the proverbial commercial talk there at the end :)). Edited to add another WOW! -- They have these Fremont sandals at Cabelas.com for $19.98! You have to wear a size 6, but if you do, what a bargain! There's another shoe site called 6PM.com that has them 1/2 off -- even in this cute orange wash color. If I get any birthday money, maybe I'll pick up a pair of those! 6pm.com seems to have all their shoes close to 1/2 off -- that's wonderful to know! (or is it? :))

Okay, enough shoe talk -- I'll be back to talk more nutrition later on.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Something Funny

I just have to share what just made me laugh tonight while doing dishes.

You may know that I'm having problems with eczema right now -- it got really bad (face swollen about triple the size) a few weeks ago, it got most the way better, and now it's inflaming again. Burning and discouraging. No face swelling, but it's affecting my lips and they are on fire! That's just the preface for the laughter (somehow -- stay with me :)).

So this afternoon, I was at the school, getting out of my car to teach yoga to 10 boys (5th-8th grade -- quite a challenge -- some are crazy, but it's a LOT of fun). Anyway, I shut the car door, and realized "OUCH!" one of my fingers was still in the door. And it had shut all the way.

I actually did this several years ago (with 3 fingers still inside) and the memory was fresh. At first, I was shocked at what had happened, but once that wore off, it was extremely painful (yes, even a few tears fell). And later a finger nail fell off -- oh joy! This time my finger didn't go in quite as far (and it was just one finger -- yay!), but it was bad enough that I went straight to the office and asked for some ice (right behind a 4th grader who had hurt himself too :)). The ice seemed to do miracles and somehow I was able to do downdogs & chaturangas right along with the kids. But I was aware that it had been hurt.

It's bothered me a few times throughout the rest of the day and I have a nice little bruise to show for it, but it will be okay. We'll see how the fingernail holds up.

As I was doing some dishes a few minutes ago, some pain rushed through to the point of noticing "Oh yeah, I hurt my finger today" as I pressed down to wash a pan. The next thought flew through my mind that this was a blessing to slam my finger in the door because it's helped me to take my mind off of my eczema! So true! I laughed at my silly optimism. Sometimes I crack myself up at my gleeful ways when I could easily find a reason to complain. Call it the raw food, but it's really hard to get me down when I'm eating raw. I chuckle to myself all day long (well, maybe not when the car door shut, but not long afterwards, as I was getting my ice and telling the Principal what a clutz I can be!)

Night night! -- Back to those dishes!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Healthy Eating Plan -- Here it is! 1, 2, 3, 4

My friends and family keep asking me what I eat -- how they can improve their eating. I highly recommend Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Eat to Live book. (That link is for the hardcover book. There is a softcover you can get cheaper, especially if you buy it used). I'm currently reading his Eat for Health book and want to see what he's added to his former research over the past few years. I know from what I've read thus far that it's a gentler approach (and doesn't go to the maximum weight loss like ETL until phase 4).

I've also weaved some of my raw food habits into my eating and would love to share them with you. Sometimes it's hard for me to nail down just what I eat because I'm so spuradic. I'm like a toddler that likes eating one thing for awhile (and am happy eating it throughout the day), then I'll switch to something else. I'm not a Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner person. I'm more of a grazer. And if I see a suggested menu, I want to run! But I know that's not the case for most people. So I'll try to give the overall picture of what foods are essential to eat -- then some samples of how those meals could be set up, along with recipes. I want to give the menu options and some ideas of foods you can grab quickly if time is short.

Here's the big picture for each day. I'm going to spell it out in numbers (is that an oxymoron? :)) so it's easier to remember. Think 1, 2, 3, 4.

1 + 1 Beans & Grains (Starchy Vegetables like Corn & Potatoes fit in this grain category)
  • 1 cup of grains + 1 cup beans/lentils -- you can eat more beans if you want. Limit the grains to just 1 cup if you want to lose weight. Also, eat the grains in their fibrous form (not ground into flour) for fastest weight loss. I have a hard time getting myself to lose weight when I eat anything baked with wheat flour. Part of the problem is getting myself to stop at one piece. The other problem is that it just doesn't fill me up. Dr. Weil compares this to eating a potato without the skin. If you eat the potato with the skin (or grain with its kernal, hull, whatever that fiber is called) as nature intended, it is digested much more slowly and aids in keeping the colon clean. If you don't eat the skin or just have the flour, it's digested more quickly like a sugar and doesn't fill you up as much and causes more constipation (and for me, fat storage).
2 + 2 + 2 Leafy Greens, Fresh Vegetables, Cooked Vegetables
  • 2 cups of Dark Leafy Greens + 2 cups other fresh veggies + 2 cups cooked. (You can have the non-leafy greens all raw if you'd like -- but this allows for cooked soups, sauces, and simply roasted veggies too. This is like the beans -- where it's an amount to shoot for each day, but you can have more if you'd like. These are the most nutrient dense foods. This does not include potatoes or corn. They are starchy and fits in with the grains).
3 Fruits
  • 3 whole fruits or 3 cups (or any combination). You can eat more if you'd like, but shoot for at least 3. I'm sure I eat 10 some days.
4 + 4 Water
  • Drink 4 glasses of water in the morning and 4 throughout the day. You don't HAVE to drink them like I do, but I find this works for me since I exercise in the morning. The first think I do when I wake up is drink a glass of water. I feel like a wilting plant that just needs some water to stand up tall and strong. Then I drink 2 glasses of water throughout my workout and another after I shower. That seems to get me going for my day.
Not 4, but 1/4 c. raw nuts or seeds
  • Nuts and seeds are packed with essential fats and phytonutrients. Eat 1/4 c. a day if you're trying to lose weight. You can eat more (probably up to 1/2 cup or so) if you don't need to lose weight. I eat these plain or use them in recipes (like fudge, pie crusts, puddings). Coconuts are big seeds and fit in here too. I don't have a problem with drinking a cup of coconut water in a day. It's a fabulous boost to my afternoons.
Remember to focus on what you CAN eat and not on what you can't. It takes some time (and effort) to switch to this way of thinking, but it's extremely helpful (and powerful!) When I walk into my kitchen and think, "What can I eat next?" the possibilities are plentiful. If I walk in thinking, "Oh, I can't have that anymore . . . " *head hung low* (I used to walk through Costco like this), it's not a pleasant experience. So focus on all those wonderful foods listed above and you'll do great! (And if you can't eat them all at first, work up to it gradually -- the leafy greens are the most nutrient dense though -- try to get those every single day).

If you are thinking, "Yeah, I could probably do that," but can't see how it would work with your family. Start with yourself first. For them, just start changing how you shop. They may be fine eating bread 4x a day. But for you, it may be hinder your weight loss (or maintenance) goals. I'll give you some shopping tips -- red flags to look for on that Ingredient List. If you can start by avoiding certain ingredients, the healthier eating for your family will just fall into place.

I'm going to stop for now though. If I try to complete this in one day, I'll probably never even post it. So it will come in chunks. Such is the life of a mom! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Inflammatory Foods -- Anti-Inflammatory Foods

If you've read my ReneeonRawFood blog lately, you've seen that I'm looking into foods that may cause (or help with) inflammation. I'm still battling this crazy case of eczema on my neck/head and want to help it in any way possible. I've experienced the pain and burning of it plus being out in public with a swollen blotchy face and it's not the greatest way to be. So I've got to find a way to beat it before it flares up even worse.

The obvious foods to avoid are the foods I'm not eating 99% of the time anyway. But I've found there are some whole foods that can cause inflammation too, so I'm going to cut those out for about 3 weeks and see if that helps.

Here's what I've found:

Inflammatory Foods to Avoid:

  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Processed foods
  • Junk food
  • Red meat
  • Pork
  • White bread and pasta
  • Frozen and canned foods
  • Peanuts

Foods to Eat that help with Inflammation:

  • Wild Salmon and other fish
  • Nuts and Seeds- walnuts, flax and pumpkin (all except peanuts, which are legumes :))
  • Olive Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Soy
  • Fruits- strawberries and blueberries are especially good
  • Vegetables- yeah for leafy greens (except for the Nightshade Vegetables)
  • Oats and other whole grains
  • Water (Lots of it)
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Herbs/Spices -- Ginger, Tumeric, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Basil, Cardamin, Chives, Cilantro, Cloves, Parsley
Nightshade Vegetables (thought to contribute to inflammation)
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet & Hot Peppers (Including Cayanne Pepper & Tobasco Sauce)
  • Egg plant
  • Huckleberries (never had one)
  • Tobacco (never had this either, but just thought it was interesting to note).
If you're curious what on earth Nightshade means, I was too. I found this family of vegetables belonging to this family are called "nightshade" because they are supposed to grow during the night. The botanically nightshade family is known as Solanaceae Family. They contain a chemical compound which taken in high doses are thought to flare up arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. The studies are unclear, but if you're like me and just want to be safe (or go without to see if it helps), it's worth a try. I still think these vegetables have nutrients our bodies need (and will likely go back to eating them later on). I'm just going to cut them out right now while I'm having this inflammatory skin problem.

I also read that these nightshade vegetables are actually fruits, but I'd rather stick with calling what I've always called a fruit a fruit and a vegetable a vegetable. Who wants to call a tomato or a pumpkin a fruit when it's not sweet like the others? Not me. So that's that for now anyway. Maybe I'll change later on.

I also want to note that I realize the photo at the top isn't just Nightshade vegetables. It also has squash, garlic, and onions. It's pretty though! (And it looks like it would make a really yummy italian dish. :))

Inflammation can also be caused by an allergy, so I'm going to avoid the following high allergy foods (except for strawberries -- I know I'm not allergic to those) for 3 weeks too and see if that helps.

High Allergy Foods to avoid:
  • Eggs (rarely eat them anyway)
  • Milk (don't eat that either, but am just listing it for others who might)
  • Peanuts (already on the inflammation list)
  • Wheat (I may allow some sprouted after the first week)
  • Soy (I occasionally have some soy products, but won't these 3 weeks)
  • Fish, Shellfish (No problems there -- don't like seafood)
  • Corn
So that's that. It would be wonderful to have this eczema leave. When I first stopped eating dairy, it improved quite a bit, but never fully went away. In my times of eating all raw, it would improve too -- never fully going away though. I noticed a few years ago at Thanksgiving, after eating some white flour in the rolls and dairy in the mashed potatoes, that my eczema flared up the next day. (My digestion went crazy within the hour -- that was no fun AND embarrassing! :)) Anyway, I've had some experience with it being affected by what I eat, but I want it gone once and for all. I'll be sure to post my progress when that day comes!

P.S. (I received permission from the photographer of this cinnamon stick photo to post it here. It's such a beautiful picture. Check out her blog MindysDeli. She has many creations (and beautiful photos of her food).

Maybe I'll go suck on a cinnamon stick now. Yum!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sprouting my way

I can't believe I haven't talked about sprouting yet. I was going to give a friend a link to my "sprouting post" and found there wasn't one. So sorry to have kept that vital information from you! ;) Like you couldn't find it somewhere else on the web. But you want to hear it from me, right?
(You'll have to excuse me -- I'm on some medication for my hives and it has me a little loopy).

There are many methods used for sprouting -- you can use baskets for draining, bags made out of flax fabric, canning jars with a mesh screen on top. But I just use bowls and pans. I have tried the mesh screen jar, but it doesn't make a whole lot. (I like to sprout in bulk). I bought some flax at a fabric store once and it sat in my pantry for a few years. When I finally got into sprouting, I couldn't find the fabric *roll/eyes*. I found a basket at a rummage sale that I thought would be perfect for sprouting (after learning this technique from The Sproutman's book). But I haven't even tried it yet either. I just keep doing what I learned from Alissa Cohen and it suits me fine.

I mostly sprout wheat berries. I take a really big measuring bowl (probably holds 8 cups). I fill it 3/4 with wheat and fill it to the top with water. I cover it with a plate (Alissa used paper towels) and let it sit overnight.

The next day I rinse them in a colander. Sometimes a few will already have sprouts (mostly happens when it's warm). Then I take an oblong baking pan (you can't use metal and it can't be clear -- so no glass). I use a Pampered Chef stone pan. It's nice to have the pan be wide and not too deep (4 inches tops) so the wheat won't get too wet and start to mold.

A few times throughout the day, I put the wheat back into the colander and rinse it. By the end of the day (if it's warm) or by the next morning, I'll have sprouts that are as long as the wheat berries. They are done -- ta da!

To harvest them, I just rinse them one more time in the colander and fill up 2 big ziploc bags (gallon-size). I store them in the refrigerator.

I have to go help my 12 year old son with his math. I'll come back to talk recipes in the morning. TTFN!

Note on 9/24 -- Sorry I haven't gotten back to this. I'm going to make crackers today -- will take pictures, then will post the recipes afterwards. Promise!

Note at the end of 9/24 -- I made my crackers -- woo hoo! It's late, but I did it. They're in the dehydrator now. They'll dehydrate long enough overnight to get the one side ready to flip over (I guess I'll explain that later with the recipe). In the morning, I'll flip them, then they'll take a few more hours to finish up. I took a few pics to night, but I'll be sure to take more with the final product.

Also, I made some Rocky Road Pudding/Ice Cream with the insides of a Thai Baby Coconut. I think I promised to do that long ago on my post on Coconuts. I'll post the pics there tomorrow and will give the link here. Have to get to bed so I can get up for my workout tomorrow! TTFN!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Plant Protein vs. Animal Protein

Besides nuts and seeds, most people aren't aware that plants contain proteins. Dr. Fuhrman has a deep understanding of this. He assures people in his books that they can get plenty of protein from plant foods.

Here are some examples of protein content as a percent of calories:

Food Percent Protein
Watercress 50%
Alfalfa sprouts 33%
Chinese cabbage 32%
Spinach (frozen) 51%
Broccoli (frozen) 45%
Mushrooms 31%
Lentils 29%
Romaine 28%
Peas 27%
Kidney beans 27%
Asparagus 26%
Great Northern beans 25%
Cauliflower 23%
Lima beans 22%
Oats 15%
Walnuts 14%
Almonds 13%
Pistachios 13%
Buckwheat 13%
Millet 12%
Casaba melon 12%
Apricot 10%
Cantaloupe 9%
Grapefruit 8%
Brown rice 8%

Dr. Jeff Novick, a contributer on Dr. Furhman's Healthy Times Newsletter and director of nutrition for the National Health Association said, "The next time someone tells you that vegetarians don’t get enough protein, tell him that he or she doesn’t get enough scientific information."

Given this information, you might ask what's the difference from getting protein from plans instead of animals. It seems like most animal products have higher protein -- maybe it's easier to eat some eggs or meat that cutting up produce all the time. Well, there are some differences in the two sources. Dr. Fuhrman compares the benefits (or effects) of eating Animal Protein with Plant Protein:

Animal Protein
Raises cholesterol
Promotes Cancer
Promotes Bone Loss
Promotes Kidney Disease
Accelerates again

Contains Saturated fat, Cholesterol, and Arachidonic Acid

Plant Protein
Lowers Cholestrol
Protects against Cancer
Promotes bone strength

Contains Fiber, Phytonutrients, Antioxidants

I also just read on medicalnewstoday.com that recent medical studies show that eating vegetable protein saves your gallbladder. In the study, the people who consumed higher quantities of vegetable protein had a much lower risk of needing their gallbladders removed. This is nice to know since both of my parents and my older brother had their gallbladders removed a year ago.

In case you're wondering where to get your protein from plants, there are a variety to choose from:

-- dark green leafy vegetables

-- vegetables

-- brown rice

-- whole grain cereal, bread and pasta

-- beans and other legumes

-- soybean products

-- sprouts

-- seeds

-- nuts

-- spirulina, chlorella, and other Superfoods

I just looked up my previous post about finding protein on a plant-based diet and saw that I gave similar statistics for the protein percentages I listed up above, but it doesn't hurt to list them again. We've seen enough dairy commercials and ads to last us our lifetime. So I guess repetition on here is okay too. Regarding the milk ads, I just have to say that I hate seeing that white mustache on celebrities -- such an unappealing look. I do have to admit, though that the "Got Milk?" campaign was pretty clever. I'd like to see a t-shirt that says "Got Greens?" with a little blurb on the back telling the world that spinach is over 50% protein and has 10 g. protein per 2 cup serving (about a salad's worth).

Don't forget too that if you get your protein from a plant source, your body can break it down and digest it much thoroughly (and without taxing the body and taking your energy away). Thus, if you get your protein through plants, you won't require as much. If everyone (myself included) would concern themselves with eating more vegetables instead of meeting their protein quota, we'd all enjoy better health.

I'll get working on that "Got Greens" t-shirt. I have a friend in the t-shirt industry. Wouldn't you know it? They say that whenever you have an idea, so have 100 other people. I didn't find exACTly what I was talking about, but found a few close ones. That one with the veggie pictures is pretty scary! Maybe I could make one that says, "Got Enough Protein?" (and just beneath that, "with only plant foods") and on the bet, it says "Absolutely!" Okay, enough of the t-shirt daydreams. Time for some real dreaming -- it's past 11:00 p.m. Night-night!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dark Leafy Greens

Some say there should be a new food group -- dark leafy greens. They are in a class of their own -- far surpassing any other foods in nutrients we know about and those yet to be discovered.

I'm not the expert on greens, but I've read from several. Victoria Boutenko writes all about how our diet should be FILLED with greens in her book "Green for Life." She didn't start out liking greens. I'm like her. It took some work to get me to eat my greens. I have a hard time making myself fix salads. I'd much rather have a salad that someone else made. If I make my own, I prefer a sweet twist to it -- adding mango slices, strawberries, or raspberries. Making green smoothies, like Victoria talks about in her book is a wonderful solution for a sweet-tooth like me because it gives a sweet base -- so much so that I hardly notice I'm drinking down a few handfuls of greens at the same time.

My favorite nutritional expert, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, talks about the nutritional superiority of greens in all 3 of his books that I've read (or listened to -- I'm have his latest book "Eat for Health" on audio-CD). His other books "Eat to Live" and "Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right" tell the vital importance of eating greens in order to have a strong enough immune system to fight diseases, allergies, and asthma. (I separate those 3 although they could all be considered illnesses).

I'll add some nutritional studies and facts to this post later on (check back early next week), but for now, I just want to give you some tips on getting your greens.

  1. Learn to make (and enjoy) green smoothies. Smoothies have become chic and popular over the past 5 years or so. I started out making them like milkshakes -- using ice cream and yogurt and fruit. I later learned I could make them without dairy (and refined sugar!) and used soy milk or fruit juice as a base. Now I use very little juice, sometimes fresh juiced juice or just water (or a watery-fruit as a base -- like grapes) and always add something frozen to give it that shake sensation. I usually have berries in the freezer and sometimes have chunks of peaches or bananas frozen too. I find if I have a little liquid to get the blender working well, some berries and something sweeter and creamier like bananas, peaches, or mangoes, it's a great tasting smoothie. Next I throw in the greens. My favorite greens for smoothies are kale and spinach. When I use kale, I make sure I tear off the leaves and not put in the stalks. Maybe a Vita-Mix or Blend-tec could handle the stalks, but my blender would probably get jammed. I do use the whole stem for juicing though (see next tip). An internet friend of mine, Robyn Openshaw-Pay has a website called greensmoothiegirl.com where she talks all about the benefits of green smoothies. She has other interesting information on nutrition there as well (debunking nutrition myths in her newsletter) and plenty of ideas on how to get your family eating healthy foods.
  2. Start juicing! I wrote a post about juicing back in February. Check it out for the finer details -- (I haven't the slightest idea what I wrote about it now :)). I'll just add now that it's a great way to get some amazing phytonutrients absorbed into your body quickly. The freshness of it will make you smile. If it doesn't, keep trying. I used to poo-poo juicing any vegetables (I'm sure the thought of juicing greens would have sent me running to the cookie aisle in the nearby grocery store), but now I just love it. It didn't take me long to become converted to green juice. I think I probably mentioned this in my previous post on juicing, but when you juice greens, very little comes out at first. It's important to juice some more watery produce afterwards (like apples or cucumbers) to get more greens out. My favorite greens to juice are chard and collard greens.
  3. Buy some Superfood product. If it's been processed or pasteurized, it's not going to be as healthy as making it yourself, but if you don't have the time or can't expend the effort right now, start off with Odwalla Superfood. It tastes wonderful and can really give you a boost. You don't have to drink a full glass to get the benefits -- just a bit. I don't know if your grandmother was like mine and had those tiny little glasses for juice in the morning. We were never allowed seconds (or heaven forbid, a big cup). A tiny bit was just enough to get us going for the day. The same is true for drinking Superfood. I've also bought the Naked Juice Superfood before when traveling. It's tasty and enlivening too. It's more of a juice than the thicker smoothie version by Odwalla. But it's still natural and great.
  4. Okay, I'll add making salads. Eventually I'll get good at this and will write a whole post about it. I promise. (Oh dear, what have I said?) But yes, salads are a great source of getting your greens too. Just be careful not to add artificial foods like white flour croutons or sugar-laden Craisins. Yes, sad to know those Craisins aren't the bounty we'd all hoped for. (I used to eat them by the cupful and build my salads around them!) Also beware of the dressings you use. You can make your own dressings or buy some that are natural (and just use a bit). You're thinking now, "No wonder she doesn't like salads much!" :) No, I do, once I start eating them. I'm just stubborn and will break through this just like I have so many other things I've resisted with eating better.
  5. Make soups and sauces. Dr. Furhman lists the most nutrient dense foods in his books as not just the dark leafy greens (those are the very highest though), but also peppers, cabbage, and broccoli. I've found a handy tool for making soups and sauces is the hand blender (like the ones by Braun that used to be so popular). I start with a marinara sauce, add in spinach, then blend away and my kids don't even know it's there. I do this with other vegetables too just to make the recipe thicker. Kale is also good cooked. (I still prefer it in my smoothies though -- that's the best way to get the maximum nutrients from it!)
  6. Dehydrate. I don't know if you have a dehydrator or not. But if you do, you can make savory crackers with greens like parsley, basil, and kale. I've made some that are sooooo tasty. It's just a bonus to know I'm eating some greens while chomping down on a crunchy snack!
  7. Make a wrap w/greens. You know how wraps became the chic way to have a sandwich a few years ago using flour tortillas. Well, you can make wraps with long lettuce leaves like romaine instead of using bread. There are plenty of raw recipes that are tasty and filling. It's been awhile since I've made any. So that will be another goal for me -- to start making them again so I can share recipes and tell you which are my favorites. You may be able to search "wrap" at goneraw.com. They have a ton of great recipes. Here's one I just found there just now -- Salad Wrap Recipe. Remember, you don't have to be a raw foodist to enjoy raw food in your current diet!
Okay, I think that's about it. (I was tempted to say "that's a wrap!" but I held my tongue, or my fingers??? Well, almost anyway).

While I've learned to appreciate and enjoy my greens more in the past few years, I still don't eat as many as my body needs.

So I'm going to set a 30 day goal once I get back from traveling this weekend to eat my greens 3x a day. (I apologize to those of you who have already read my reneeonrawfood blog post today and see me repeating myself). I'll let you know how I do. And I'll be sure to share recipes as I discover new ways to enjoy my greens!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ch Ch Changes

No, I'm not giving a political party convention speech. I'm just talking about the changes that have come about in my life lately. Big changes. For 18 1/2 years, I've been a mother. I've taken care of my oldest daughter with delight and love. She's blessed our home with her light and her music. She's had a gentle way with her younger brothers and sisters. And now she's gone to college.

I've been thrilled for her as she set her college goals and reached them. She not only got accepted to BYU (where I went), but also got a 4 year full-tuition scholarship as well as enough local scholarships to pay for her dorm housing (which is not cheap! So a big PHEW on that!) She barely got into the dorms (my dorms 26 years ago) and got to meet her roommate on-line before-hand. It was fun to see her plan and prepare.

When the time came for her to drive away, however, it was tough. Really tough. Sobbingly tough. We drove her an hour north to meet another family who took her to college. The timing didn't work for us to make the 16 hour drive, so we were grateful she could go with them. (Plus they are a TON of fun, so that added to her college entrance adventure). But when I walked back in our door after the drive up to their house, the space that she left in our home was immense. It was rough. I had a whole new appreciation for anyone who has lost a family member. I don't know how they can handle the grief.

This eventually trickled off. I was able to share my loss with a few friends. It was nice to hear their words of experience. I paused from time to time, realizing the changes coming about in our lives -- the closing of one chapter and the opening of some others. This is always a tough thing for me. It's also exciting and joyful.

A week later, my youngest son started Kindergarten. He could have entered last year. In California the entrance deadline is early December and his birthday is late November. But he never would have sat still. It would have been frustrating for him and his teacher (even though he could read and was ready in that respect). He's been waiting a long time. He was raring to go! It was a celebration for all of us because we knew how excited he was -- plus it's a milestone for him and our family.

This is the first time I've had an empty home (not counting my husband who works from home) since my oldest daughter was born -- as I mentioned before, 18 1/2 years. My youngest son is only gone till noon, but there's a new sense of freedom in those morning hours that's really nice to have. It's peaceful. I can think without interruption and just get things done on my own. It's definitely a change.

What is it that Meg Ryan says in "You've Got Mail?" (It's actually the character, Kathleen Kelley, who's saying it :)) She says, "People always say that change is a good thing, but what it really means is that something that you didn't want to happen, has happened." That's probably true.

Perhaps in my case, it's not that I didn't want it to happen exactly, I just wasn't ready for it to happen just yet. My baby is growing up and going to Kindergarten on his own. My first baby is growing up and has left our home to start college on her own. When she used to walk from our Vanagon to her Kindergarten class, I'd watch her with her big puffy pink coat trying to hold onto her homework folder and lunch pail. And I'd say to my other children, "She's so big and she's so little." I've thought that throughout her life. I've thought that about my other children.

Now I hold my younger children a bit longer. I look into their eyes a bit deeper. I try to relish each opportunity I have with them in our home because I've learned first hand what it feels like to have one leave. I knew it was normal for it to happen when I left and when someone leaves from another family. But when it happened with MY little girl, it didn't feel normal or nice. It was quite sad.

I can't end with a sad note though. There are many joys as I watch my children grow -- even as I watch them leave. I heard a song this weekend about parenthood. We could always get in the way and protect our children, but then they wouldn't be able to grow. So we let them go and they grow. We grow as well.

I just have to add that I have this affinity for "You've Got Mail" -- stay tuned -- I've been planning a whole post on it in my head. Once I get the chance, you'll be reading about it (whether you like it or not :)). TTFN!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Raw Recipe -- Pesto & Stuffed Mushrooms

This used to be in another post, but the title was so long that no one could find the fudge at the end (including me!)

So I'm giving the pesto and mushrooms their own post. I need to make them again though so I can get a picture for you. My pleasure!

For now, here are the recipes:

Pesto (no dairy, yay!)
1 c. walnuts
½ c. pine nuts
2 c. basil
½ c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic
½ t. sea salt

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor. Keep in the fridge in a sealed container. Wonderful in stuffed mushrooms or just with flax crackers. I’m sure it would be good with pasta too if you’re eating cooked foods. It's so yummy and makes me realize that I don't have to give up tasty Italian food just because I'm not eating cheese anymore.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Wash and take the stems off of a bunch of mushrooms (as many as you want to eat in one day because they don’t taste great a day later). Put a teaspoon or more pesto into the hole left by the stem – whatever it takes to fill it. Lay them face down (w/pesto up) on a tray. If you have a dehydrator and want them to stay raw, dehydrate them at 105 degrees for 5-6 hours.

If you don’t mind cooked food and want to use your oven, just bake them at the lowest setting (or about 200 degrees) for about an hour (until soft). They taste wonderful because the olive oil marinates the mushrooms and it’s super flavorful. I'm sure you could marinate other veggies like zucchini like this just fine too. I've brought these to parties (as a tray of appetizers) and I haven't seen anyone eat them who hasn't gotten that wide-eyed look of "YUM!" as they say "These are good!"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Dairy products make me sick!

There, I said it. I'm not one to make firm stands about food in public. But I have to say right now that dairy products make me sick! When I talk to friends or family, I'll answer questions about how I eat and will explain the benefits for myself or my children. I'll even tout the writings of Dr. Fuhrman or tell about raw foodists. But I'm careful about making blanket statements about food. Call me a coward, (okay, please don't :)), but there are so many theories about food and so many bodies that react in different ways (even my own changes from time to time) that I step lightly around the subject and try to avoid confrontation.

Maybe it's because I remember how little I enjoyed hearing people say things like "Milk is for baby cows" (or calves) when I couldn't imagine ever living without cold milk in my cereal, ice cream late at night (or on Fridays after school, or for every birthday or celebration imaginable, or in the summertime when it's hot, or when I was stressed and just wanted that calm feeling of ice cream going down my throat, or . . . I'm sure I could come up with more), and heaven knows I found a thousand uses for cheese. I dressed up any dish with cheese to cover the fact that I didn't know a thing about flavoring anything. I made statements at different points of my life like, "I could eat at Taco Bell every day for lunch and be happy" or "If I could get away with eating pizza every night, I would." When I was a senior in college (and overweight), I used to come home every day from class and make tortilla pizzas while watching Brady Bunch reruns. I was quite content. Once I learned how to make omelettes with cottage cheese or mozarella, I couldn't stop. They were just fabulous.

So I wasn't quick to want to give up dairy and thought those who did were pretty "out there." If someone had a legitimate allergy, I'm sure I could support that. Ooooh, how big of me!

I already wrote a post about going off of dairy, but I just have to add today on the first day of September that I can no longer have some dairy here and there if I please in August like I have the past few years. I found that since allergy season went from March through July and started up again in September, that I was pretty safe having a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone on vacation if I really wanted to in August. It wasn't always as wonderful as I'd remembered, but I think I did it out of curiosity or just to eat it "while I could" since I knew it would cause such problems in the other months. I did have an ice cream cone a few weeks ago and felt like someone had painted my insides with thick cream. This was not a good feeling. I felt so coated inside. It was awful and I couldn't finish my cone. I didn't have a problem with the pizza though. In fact, I probably had it 3x this past month. That's probably what kept me from sticking with my raw goals I kept setting. (You think?)

I knew I was treading on slippery grounds, playing with fire, or whatever cliche' I can come up with because last September I got really severe asthma. It was about the worst it's ever been. I knew the climate would change, new things would bloom, and I'd be risking it again if I didn't stop and get my body strong. In fact, besides a few times with allergies, I haven't been sick since last September.

Alas, school started last week. My youngest son had his very first day of school EVER and came down with a fever/cold/asthma illness that night. He was sick all week. I dabbled in dairy a few times for whatever reason and by Wednesday, I was sick too. Painful sore throat for a few days, achiness for another, thought I was coming out of it and decided to eat some Annie’s cheddar bunnies since it was still August and I’d probably be fine. What? So that night, I felt chills, got the full stuffy nose and everything else that comes with that typical cold you get in the winter time. I was in bed all day Saturday, sleeping for hours and hours at a time. I was in bed ½ of yesterday and feel much better today. I’m sure my raw eating for the past few days helped.

What have I learned from this? I don’t need to dabble in dairy anymore. It’s not like I love it that much anymore anyway. Even if I did, what good does it do me? I went a whole year with tending to my children’s illnesses without getting sick myself. I know my body is stronger when I stay away from dairy and eat a high raw diet. Yes, pizza is wonderful, but I can make pizza w/o cheese and white flour and enjoy that too. It may seem like it takes extra effort, but so does nursing an illness for almost a week. I’m grateful it didn’t go on any longer.

So blah, blah, blah – thanks for listening to my tale about getting sick. No one likes to hear about anyone else getting sick. But I just had to talk about it while the passion was still in me. Dairy really does make a difference in my immune system. I’ve heard that children on chemotherapy aren’t supposed to have dairy either because it lowers their immune system. Maybe it’s taxing on most bodies who aren’t baby cows. Try living without it and see if it makes a difference in your life. Mexican food really CAN taste just fine without the cheese and sour cream. That’s one thing I’ve managed to not miss anymore. I’m even fine without cheesecake on my birthday anymore. In a world with so many people having to do without, it’s amazing that I’ve even thought it would be a hardship to live without something like this.

What is it the raw foodists say? Something like “Nothing tastes as good as feeling healthy feels.” So true.