Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Simply Hemp Milk

If you follow me on Facebook, you already know a few things about me: a.) I love me some hemp seeds, and b.) I am infatuated with the documentary Average Joe on the Raw. So, needless to say, when these two things came together in one yummy package...I had to try it!

The owner/creator of Simply Hemp Milk is none other than Seth Hayhurst, the "Average Joe" the documentary was based on.  He changed his life and his health when he began eating a Raw foods diet. I was even inspired to do the Raw foods diet study after watching the documentary.

One thing that intrigued me the most about Simply Hemp Milk, was that it came in a powdered form.  That eliminates the need for any preservatives, or other unnecessary additives that most shelf-stable milk alternatives have.

When I received the samples, I was immediately impressed by the packaging.  The milk powder comes in a very natural, simple package, but still very attractive and fun.  It's also unbelievably easy to make!  All you do is dump the contents of the package into your blender, add water, and blend.  It took no time at all to have some fresh, delicious hemp milk, without the worry of unwanted sweeteners, chemicals, and other junk.  Of course, that also means the milk won't last for weeks, like some pasteurized versions will, but that's ok.  It won't make it that long anyway!

I tasted it plain, and really enjoyed the subtly sweet, somewhat cinnamony taste of the milk by itself, but my very favorite way to use it was in my smoothies. Hemp is an excellent source of protein, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and phytonutrients, so by adding it to my smoothies I was really getting a great boost of nutrients, while adding a super yummy dimension to my smoothies.  It would make a great after-workout drink, fo sho.

So, do me a favor and head on over to Simply Hemp Milk and order a sample pack (or more)! You can thank me later. <3

Saturday, December 1, 2012

31 Days of December challenge, plus a SALE!

Happy December to all!  This month is always my craziest with my other business (DipSticks Gourmet Pretzels), so what would any normal person do?  Make it even crazier!

I am not only introducing my first ever workout challenge for the whole month, but I'm also offering a big discount on my nutrition services!  I want each and every one of you to have ZERO excuses for not staying healthy this holiday season!

Ok, here is the 31 Days of December challenge.  Treat it exactly like the 12 days of Christmas.  For example, on the first day of December, just do that exercise.  On the second day of December, do day 2 *and* day 1.  On the third day of December, do day 3's exercise PLUS day 2's exercise, PLUS day 1's exercise....and so on and so on until you have 31 days to do all in one day!  HEY! I said it was a challenge!  :)   And please!  If this is too much for you, or if it's too easy for you, feel free to adjust it to suit your workout needs.  This is mostly for fun and to make sure you are all active at least one time per day during December! I created this to be easy to do for any fitness level, and to do from anywhere, with not much special equipment. You need a jump rope, some weights (optional) and a box or stairs to jump on, and that's it!  Have fun with this!  I'd LOVE to see some videos of you guys doing this, too.  How fun would that be?!

Day 1: 1 minute jumping rope
Day 2: 2 box jumps
Day 3: 3 side push ups
Day 4: 4 reverse crunches
Day 5: 5 burpees burping (hee hee)
Day 6: 6 toe raises
Day 7: 7 bicep curls
Day 8: 8 V-up sit ups
Day 9: 9 falling push ups
Day 10: 10 box jumps
Day 11: 11 plank jacks
Day 12: 12 star jumps
Day 13: 13 rapid squats
Day 14: 14 triceps dips
Day 15: 15 second side planks
Day 16: 16 reverse crunches
Day 17: 17 speed skaters
Day 18: 18 mountain climbers
Day 19: 19 jumping jacks
Day 20: 20 second sprint intervals on the treadmill (try to do 3 sets)
Day 21: 21 walking lunges
Day 22: 22 side push ups
Day 23: 23 bicycle crunches
Day 24: 24 butt raises
Day 25: 25 push ups
Day 26: 26 arm circles
Day 27: 27 leg lifts on each side (use weights if you want)
Day 28: 28 Russian twists (use a weight or weighted ball if possible)
Day 29: 29 jump squats
Day 30: 30 second plank
Day 31: 31 stair step-ups

If you don't know what any of these exercises are, they can all be found on google, or you can contact me for more direction.

Now, for the nutrition services discount.  I am going to waive the initial 2 hour consultation fee (a $150 value!)  for anyone who signs up for 3 or more private sessions with me. This can be ONLINE as well as IN PERSON.  The online clients have different steps to follow, but the support and information is the same.

IF you are interested in these services, please check out my site, decide how many sessions you would like, and email/call me to get set up!  Easy peasy.

Let's recap:
Fitness challenge
Nutrition services discounted
Daily ramblings on nutrition, fitness, and fun on the ol' FB page
Private motivation group on FB
Fort Wayne support group meetings

I'd say we've got all of our bases covered!  Let's do this!!  Let's show the holidays who's BOSS!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Spinach Smoothie!

I was taking a study break one day last week and was really craving peanut butter and chocolate!  But, since I have finally broken my weight loss plateau, I wanted to keep it as clean and healthy as possible.  So, I created this ridiculously yummy and healthy smoothie!  Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie (with chia and spinach!)
Serves two-three

1 cup simply hemp milk (any milk would do)
3 heaping Tablespoons of all natural peanut butter
1 T chia seeds
2 T cacao powder
4-5 slices frozen banana
Two big handfuls of spinach
5-7 ice cubes (to your texture preference)
1 t. vanilla
4 medjool dates
Pinch of salt

Add all the ingredients into your Vitamix (or high powered blender), and blend until smooth and to your desired consistency. Top with a tiny dollop of whipped coconut cream and chocolate shavings. You'll think it's a fancy milkshake, but without the extra calories and sugar!

Whipped coconut cream
1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated for 4 hours or more (I keep a can in the refrigerator at all times so I can make this any time I want)

1 t. vanilla (or fresh vanilla bean is even better!)
1/2 t - 1t.  sweetener of choice, to taste (I have used organic raw agave, maple syrup, and coconut sugar, you could also use cane sugar or honey, or of course powdered sugar. I would like to use dates, but haven't had the time/patience to do it just yet.)

Open your can of refrigerated coconut milk, scoop out JUST the top white part that has firmed up. You don't want any of the water that's left in the bottom.  Use a mixer to whip the coconut cream until it is soft and whippy looking. Add vanilla and sweetener.  Start low on the sweetener, taste your whipped cream, add more if you want a sweeter cream.  And, done!  You could add cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, etc for a spicy kick.

Chocolate shavings, optional, but pretty!  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: Barre. A real food bar.

I am so excited that I got to try these bars! I've been following them on Facebook for quite a while, and even though I'm not a ballet dancer, or any kind of dancer for that matter, I just LOVE the idea behind these bars. Barre, the name, comes from, if you haven't figured it out by now, the bar that is used during warm up exercise for ballet dancers. It was created by two ballet dancers out of necessity for a quick, but extremely healthy, snack. They have a great story. Check it out here.

I absolutely love the play on words, and as a huge fan of packaging, I really adore the delicate beauty of the colors they chose: pink, peach, and espresso. In addition to that, the names they picked for each bar perfectly match the sweet, ballerina-esque vibe of the rest of the packaging: Ballerina, Pirouette, and Black Swan.  See what I mean?  CUTE!

As a nutritionist, I am 100% on board with these bars! They are the real deal. All of the ingredients are clean, simple, and packed with nutrients. I love the use of hemp in these bars, too.  Y'all *know* how much I love my hemp seed products!

The first bar I tasted was the Pirouette.
Ingredients: Dates, walnuts, pecans, agave nectar, hemp seed, rolled oats, hemp protein, ground flax seed, brown rice protein, vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, peanuts. You just can't get much better than that.
Verdict: I really liked this one. You definitely get the light, cinnamony flavors coming through with the crunch of pecans. I didn't think it had an overwhelming flavor, and was very filling! I would definitely keep this one in my purse and/or car for quick noshes!
The second bar I sampled was the one I was least looking forward to trying: The Ballerina. Why? Because it has spirulina in it and is green-ish in tint. As much as I love my green veggies, I am not a huge fan of spirulina. It can be toooo much like eating grass if done wrong. Well, they did it right!
Ingredients: Dates, walnuts, pecans, agave nectar, hemp seed, hemp protein, rolled oats, ground flax seed, dried coconut flakes, brown rice protein, spirulina, vanilla, sea salt, peanuts.
Verdict: This ended up being my favorite one! The spirulina is very light and barely detectable, and the coconut flakes add a perfect bit of crunchy sweetness. Again, just like the pirouette, it's very filling and would be excellent for after workouts or to keep handy for those unanticipated starvation moments when you need a quick, healthy snack before you take a left turn at a fast food place.  Not that I've ever done that.

The third bar, the newest in their collect, and the one that has the cutest name in my opinion: The Black Swan.
Ingredients: Dates, agave nectar, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seed butter, (sunflower kernels, sunflower oil, molasses, salt, citric acid), cranberries, cocoa powder, hemp seed, hemp protein, oats, ground flax seed, brown rice protein, sea salt, peanuts.
Verdict: This one reminded me of chocolate covered cherries. I am not a fan of those, so this is not my favorite flavor, but if you like chocolate covered cherries, this is your bar! It was still just as lightly sweetened, chewy and filling as the other two, and the pink and black colors of the packaging make you feel pretty. Or is that just me?

Overall, I highly recommend these bars. If you can't find them in your local co-op or health food shops, go in and ask them to start carrying these!  Who knows, they might even inspire you to become a ballerina!  I know I'm ready to join the Nutcracker!  I just need to get longer legs real quick.  And maybe some flexibility.  That should do it. :)

Barre.  A real food bar.  See also: Nom.  <3

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My quick trip to Juicytown!

*For those not following me on facebook, I began a juice-only fast on Monday, with the intention of going at least 5-7 days. I have never done a fast. The closest I came to any kind of cleanse was a 7 day raw foods detox I did back in March, which was also a struggle, but one that I conquered without killing anyone. And that's saying something!  ;) 

Ok, so here is the latest news from my little world.  Last night was MISERABLE.  Seriously, it was the worst. At about 4:00 p.m. my mood changed dramatically and I developed the worst headache of my life. I couldn't take any medication for it because of the cleanse. I tried a few natural methods, but nothing made the pain lessen.  I was also unbelievably sick of juicing.  I looked at my juicer, heard and felt my tummy rumble. I was starving, but there was no way I was going to get another juice in me.  I went ahead and made a super green juice, but it tasted horrible. I could not even force myself to down it.  So, I went to bed at 8:30 to try to ignore all these things. However,  I've been battling a cough for two weeks now, and last night it was in overdrive. I couldn't sleep and on top of that, I was having heart palpitations.  Since I have a thyroid condition (hashimotos) and had not consulted my doctor (like you're supposed to! Doink!), it worried me a little. I told myself that if I didn't feel better in the morning, I would stop the cleanse.

Fast forward to 5:30 a.m.and I'm up. Yikes. I already feel apprehensive about the day and am dreading that first juice. Instead I ignore the hunger and check my pH.  It's back down to 5.5. (it was 5.5 Monday when I started, then went to 8.0 after 24 hours on the cleanse)  Confused and frustrated by this, I proceed to weigh myself.  The number has dropped quite a bit again, but I don't even care.  Weight loss was not my main reason for doing this cleanse, and I know most of it will come back so I wasn't attached to this loss anyway.  I walk into the kitchen, tummy still rumbling, and I can't even remotely bare to juice again.  I am not sure why this was such a difficult task for me. I love juices, I love the thought of a juice fast, but I wasn't noticing any changes at all, and I was starting to worry that I was doing more harm than good. (another good reason to consult a physician before juicing!)

I eat a pretty healthy diet. Lots of veggies, whole grains in limited quantities, mostly vegan protein sources, lots of water, regular exercise...I don't have a lot to detox in the first place.  I clearly need improvements here and there and am still working out some kinks. I am definitely wondering about the whole pH thing, and what to think of those numbers.  I don't live and die by those numbers, but I do live and die by how my energy levels are, which is one main reason I wanted to do a cleanse. When you eat super clean, drink lots of water, and exercise, but still aren't feeling on top of the world, you start to look at other reasons (or at least I do). And, I'm not a huge fan of doctors (long story), so I'm not as inclined to run to them every time I have a tiny problem.  I typically turn to my nutrition.  While my meals were pretty good, I was not feeling as good as I thought I should, and hoped that taking my nutrients down to a super basic level would do the trick.  And perhaps if I had stuck out the cleanse a bit longer, it could have.  But, ultimately, you have to go with your gut in situations like these, and that's exactly what I did.  I'll be eating mostly raw for the foreseeable future, and will entertain another juice cleanse in the spring.  There are *many* things I will do differently the next time, to ensure a (hopefully) smoother transition.

One thing that was funny about this whole experiment, is that when I decided to quit, my first thought was that I was letting all of you down. I felt like quitting the cleanse would somehow change your opinion of me.  And, when I told others about quitting, their first thought was that I was letting you down, too.  Truthfully, that bothered me on a few levels.  I decided to do this cleanse for my own reasons. And I decided to share with you the path I took so that you might benefit. It wasn't like with the Raw and Paleo studies where I was doing actual research to share and learn about different diet programs.  This was just a random crazy idea that I was sharing with you along the way.  I had hoped to make it to 5 days or more, but I am proud that I made it this far. I know a lot of you have done longer fasts, and I know most of you have never done a fast for even a day in your life.  All that means is that we all have to learn on our own terms.  To determine for ourselves what works and what doesn't.   What is worth the fight, and what isn't.

I'd like to think that my focus for my business FB page is more about general healthy eating tips, how to improve your health and to get you to eat your veggies.  I don't care how you accomplish that.  Are you paleo?  Great!  Are you vegan?  Awesome!  I don't need to know about specifics, I just want you to think about what goes in your mouth and to challenge yourself.  Eat more green veggies today than you did yesterday.  Drink more water today than you did yesterday.  Exercise a little bit more each week!  This cleanse was about me challenging myself.  I've never done a juice-only cleanse before and I had no idea what to expect.  You go into it thinking "I can DO this!".  The first day was HARD. And yes, I pushed through. Most people would have caved by lunch.  Yes, I kept going and I was proud of myself for sticking with it, but at some point you have to ask yourself if the benefits outweigh any potential negatives.  Sometimes just trying is good enough.

Yes, I CHOSE to do this cleanse. And yes I CHOSE to publicly announce it with you, and share lots of lovely juice pictures (weren't they pretty?!) in the hopes of inspiring you, but guess what, I'm also CHOOSING to let you know that I tried something...and CHOSE to end it.  I CHOSE to be open and honest with you and with myself.  I never want to give anyone a false assumption that I am perfect, or that they should be.  EVERYONE has faults.   But at least I tried. I have done more experimenting with foods and health challenges than anyone I know. I am learning each and every day to listen intuitively to my nutritional needs, and the only way to do that is to put yourself through challenges like these.  I am listening to my intuition, and I implore you to do the same.

If this inspired even one person to do a juice cleanse, I am over the moon happy!  I am totally FOR doing a juice cleanse.  But listen to your body, take baby steps, and please do not feel like a failure if you can't make it past day 2. You made it 2 more days than most people!

And I still stand by my words that we are capable of doing anything we put our minds to!  And that includes listening intuitively to what your body needs, and quitting a time or two until you get it right.

Peace, love and veggies...  <3

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My little chlorophyll concoction

Well, most of you have probably seen me mention my “chlorophyll concoction” over the last week. Basically, in my research on balancing pH, I had read from several sources that I should incorporate chlorophyll.   After I bought the liquid chlorophyll, I drank it with some water, which tasted just fine.  But, I also wanted to begin incorporating apple cider vinegar, so I came up with this crazy concoction.  It’s a little sweet, but pretty sour from the ACV and lemon.  I just chug it.  Add as much water as you want to dilute it to suit your taste.

The recipe:
1 T. liquid chlorophyll
1 t. raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 - 2 t. raw honey
10 drops liquid trace minerals

And here are the reasons behind the individual ingredients: 
Liquid chlorophyll (I use DeSouza’s brand)
Anti Carcinogenic, Antioxidant & Anti-inflammatory, Chelation of Heavy Metals, Antiseptic, Treats Bad Breath, Rapid Delivery of Magnesium (this has a highly alkalizing effect on the body and helps to deliver much needed oxygen to cells and tissues). Contains vitamin K, C, folic acid, iron, calcium, and protein.

Raw honey (buy local, raw, unheated, unprocessed)
Shifts fat stores and makes them usable for energy, helps keep cholesterol levels in check, boosts endurance and reduces muscle fatigue, helps with stomach aches, constipation and migraines.

Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (preferably Bragg’s)
Remedy for heartburn, improves bowel irregularity, clears skin condtions and improves texture and complexion, helps remove toxins, improves joint pain or stiffness, breaks down fats and aids in weight loss, and can help reduce glucose levels.

Immune boosting, balances pH, aids in weight loss and digestion, diuretic, keeps skin clear, freshens breath, and relieves respiratory problems.

Trace mineral liquid drops (I use Concentrace Liquid minerals by Trace Minerals Research)
Alkalinizing for pH balance

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Clean eating meal ideas

This month I'm going to really buckle down and focus on my clean eating principles.  5-6 meals a day (every 2-3 hours), whole foods only (no preservatives!), drink a crap load of water (12-16 glasses!) and combine a complex carb with a protein at each meal.  That is something I haven't really done in a while.  So, I've made a list of some of my own go-to meals. Keep in mind these can all be varied and changed up based on your own tastes, as well as your own personal food beliefs (vegan/grain free, etc), so just use these as a guideline.  If you have others to share, I'd love to hear them!

Happy Clean Eating!  <3

Green Lemonade
Hard boiled eggs with fruit or raw vegetables, or chopped over whole grains
Rice and shine cereal (or any hot grain cereal) with fruit, honey/stevia and spinach (finely chopped!)
Fruit salad with hemp seeds
Eggs and sautéed veggies
Eggs over easy with gluten free toast
Almond flour pancake with fresh fruit “syrup” (mash and heat any fresh berries/fruit)
Sweet potato hash browns, eggs
Sautéed veggies with walnuts
Black beans with greek yogurt, salsa, green onion, fresh cilantro
Greek Yogurt and berries, with nuts
Raw buckwheat cocoa puffs cereal with almond milk and bananas
Egg “burrito” (two scrambled eggs cooked like an omelet, but roll your pre-cooked veggies inside for a burrito-ish meal) top with greek yogurt/sour cream/cashew sour cream, salsa and avocado!

Raw veggies, avocado dip (mashed avocados with seasonings), hemp seeds
Smoothie (fruit/spinach), protein source: cheese sticks or yogurt in smoothie
Greek yogurt, honey, almond slices, berries,  protein powder
5-6 Medjool dates with raw walnuts tucked inside
Handful of any nuts with fruit and/or veggies
Greek yogurt with nut butter and bananas
Celery, carrots and apple with nut butter
Hard boiled egg, cucumbers (or any veg/fruit)
Roasted or steamed squash/sweet potato with cinnamon, agave/honey/stevia and chopped nuts
Sliced tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Cucumber, tomato, red onion salad with rice wine vinegar and grapeseed oil, salt/pepper
Black and green olives, cheese stick or nuts
Romaine or iceburg leaves with nut butter or hummus, rolled up
Deviled Eggs (two hard boiled egg yolks, greek yogurt or homemade mayo, mustard, garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika)

Marinated, grilled Portobello mushrooms with goat cheese, and grilled veggies
Organic Corn tortillas, grilled veggies, greek yogurt (or cashew sour cream), salsa, guacamole
Fresh salad with lots of veggies, add nuts, meat, or hemp for protein
Greens with walnuts, dried cherries and goat cheese or blue cheese
Large fruit salad with spinach, almonds, hemp seeds
Taco salad with walnut “meat” (or real meat)
Quinoa stuffed peppers  (pine nuts, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, quinoa)
Whole grain tortilla (preferably brown rice or organic, sprouted whole wheat), spaghetti or pizza sauce, any 
sauteed or grilled veggies, mozzarella cheese. Broil until melty!
Any soup!  Soups are a great way to get your veggies in. Protein sources can be beans or meat.
Quinoa pasta with olive oil, garlic, any veg, or with marinara sauce
Grilled or pan seared haddock with sautéed veggies (your fave!), served on hemp seeds or brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, etc.
Tacos (organic corn shell, lots of homemade quac, fresh lettuce, organic salsa, meat or beans of your choice)
Spaghetti squash with grilled chicken, olive oil or marina sauce, fresh chopped veggies,  sprinkling of white wine vinegar
Protein of your choice with mashed cauliflower and roasted broccoli
Roasted sweet potatoes, greens salad with pine nuts
Salmon (grilled or baked), on a bed of hemp seeds, grain of your choice, or any sautéed greens, with salad  or roasted/grilled veggies.
Grilled chicken on bed of lettuce with lots of veggies, slivered toasted almonds, honey mustard dressing
Indian butter chicken with brown rice or cauliflower rice
Veggie stir fry with any protein source
Cauliflower crust pizza
Any seafood with veggies!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Healthy Blender Recipes/Excalibur event plus an original recipe!

I am super excited to announce that I was selected as one of 30 Raw food blogger/chefs to be in a fun event with The Blender Girl (aka healthyblenderrecipes) using the Excalibur Dehydrator. I still have NO idea how/why they chose me, but I am not one to turn down an amazing opportunity.  And it was a challenging one too!  If you know me, you already know how much I adore baking, but using a dehydrator is a whole 'nother thing.  I hadn't even started the Raw part of my diet study yet, so the dehydrator had yet to be touched when I said I'd come up with my own recipe for this event. It took me a few days to come up with an idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but after actually trying to put those thoughts into action, and failing miserably three times, I started to get a little nervous. I was absolutely sure I was in over my head. But, I've felt that way before and made it through just fine, so I just kept telling myself to keep moving forward.

When my first idea for pumpkin pie wraps filled with a caramel cashew cream didn't work out (first of all, there's no pumpkins around right now, and second, sweet potato is NOT a good substitute. Yarf.), I tried going in a different direction with a cauliflower pizza crust.  My experiment smelled so good and filled my house with the aroma of a pizza kitchen. I was jazzed. Until I peeked on the progress of my crust.  More like soggy, splotchy, crackly nastiness. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

Once I tasted the pumpkin wrap, I quickly realized I didn't like that texture for a dessert anyway. I wanted something more cake-like, but couldn't find any recipes to give me an idea on where to even start. Since my recipe won't be shared until the end of August, I wanted a dessert that would be fitting for fall, and pumpkin desserts are my favorite for that time of year.  Since I knew the actual pumpkin was not an option, I went a different direction: pumpkin seeds!  They are so nutritious and tasty, it just made sense to give them a try. My first attempt at using them was a bust though.  While *a few* pumpkin seeds are tasty, a whole entire cake made with them...not so much.  So, I compromised and used walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds along with a few dates to keep it all sticking together, and some pumpkin pie spice to give it a little seasonal kick. I knew I wanted a stacking dessert, so I cut this mixture into circles and placed them in the dehydrator.  I wasn't sure what texture I would end up with, so I took some of the cakes out at 6 hours, 12 hours, and then left the final ones in until 24 hours.  I ended up liking the 6 hour texture best. Go figure.

I also used the dehydrator to candy some nuts and pumpkin seeds to give the dessert more texture, and let's be honest, to make it look cute.  I love plating foods and making my meals look fancy.  Heck, why not!? After all, you start eating with your eyes before you actually taste your food anyway, you might as well have fun with it.

The caramel cashew cream took me a few tries because I wanted to make it a) tasty and b) not a pain in the butt to make. I think it turned out well. You gotta love cashews!  From dairy free sour cream, to raw cream soups, to vegan cheesecake, to this yummy creamy goodness...cashews are the queen of the nut kingdom!

The chocolate ganache I had made plenty of times before, as it was from another recipe I came up with for some yummy chocolate tarts! But even that posed a tiny issue with all this unbelievable heat we're having.  It started to melt almost as soon as we took it outside to photograph. But you won't have that problem, because you'll be eating it immediately.  ;)

And finally!  I love salted caramel, and this dessert just screamed SALTED CARAMEL!  I could have gotten more elaborate, but since it was mostly just a drizzle, I kept it easy and simple with just some date paste, and a few other ingredients. You could totally leave this out, but you use date paste for the cashew cream, so you might as well give it a shot.

Photo credit: Melissa Hitzemann, Whirlygig Photography

At first glance, this recipe may look overwhelming and complicated, but each step can be made well in advance and stored for when you're ready to use it. And any leftover candied nuts can be used in salads to give them a fun, sweet and spicy kick!


Pumpkin Cakes
½ cup pumpkin seeds, soaked 4-6 hours
½ cup walnuts
½ cup pecans
2 medjool dates
½ t. pumpkin pie spice
¼ t. salt

Pulse above in food processor until mixture holds together when pressed against the side of the bowl.  Dump out onto waxed paper and flatten/roll out to about ¼” thick. At this point you could cut them into circles with a cookie cutter, or cut into squares, or just leave it as a large rectangle and make one big cake out of it.

Place on teflex sheets in dehydrator at 115 for 6 hours, flipping half way through. I also placed them on the regular dehydrator screens after 3 hours for a drier texture. These can be dehydrated for longer, depending on what texture you want. The longer they are in the dehydrator, the crunchier they become.

These cakes store very well. You could make them days ahead, or even freeze them for a future event.

Caramel Cashew Cream
1 cup cashews (soaking not necessary)
¼ cup date paste
1 T maple syrup (or agave)
2 t. maca powder
2-3 T water, until desired consistency

Blend ingredients in Vitamix or high speed blender until smooth, but still thick. You can always add more spices or sweetener to this until it suits your taste buds.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days before use.

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup raw cacao powder (or other cocoa powder)
1 cup maple syrup (or agave)
½ cup coconut oil

Mix all ingredients in food processor until blended.  The mixture will harden once it is refrigerated.  To drizzle on dessert, I put some aside in a squeeze bottle and refrigerated the rest.  You can use a spoon just as easily if you don’t have a squeeze bottle. You may need to take your ganache out of the refrigerator a few minutes to soften before it can be piped.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks, if it lasts that long!  I can eat it with a spoon! 

Candied Nuts
You can use any amount of nuts you like. Just place desired nuts and seeds in a bowl and put just enough sweetener (maple syrup, agave, raw honey) to make sure all the nuts are covered. I added ½ t. of pumpkin pie spice and ¼ t. salt too. Maple syrup and honey seem to work better than agave, in my experience. 

Dehydrate on 115 for 8-12 hours, or until they are dry and no longer sticky to the touch.

These candied nuts/seeds are great to have on hand to use in salads with some dried cranberries! They can be stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag for weeks.

Salted Caramel Sauce
2T date paste
1 t. maca powder
1 t. vanilla
¼ t. salt
1 t. agave

Stir together in bowl, and use a spoon or squeeze bottle to drizzle on dessert. This really adds a little something special to the final dessert, and it’s super quick and easy to throw together. 

This can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.

You can arrange this dessert in any way you like, but I drizzled the unrefrigerated ganache and the salted caramel onto a plate, placed one pumpkin cake, then piped ganache, then candied nuts, then piped the caramel cashew cream, repeat.  If you are making one large cake, you could just spread on the ganache and cashew cream, and top with a sprinkling of nuts, and drizzle.  You really can’t go wrong no matter how you arrange these yummy layers!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  Please let me know if you make it and what your thoughts are!  


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Whole to Healthy reaches 1000 fans!

Thanks to everyone for following Whole to Healthy!  Here is a little giveaway as a way to show my appreciation.  Ends 8/14.  No international shipping.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The end of Raw, and a review of the last 60 days

New to my story?  Read these first: Part 1Part 2Part 3

Wow! The day is finally here. I am officially done with my crazy diet study.  Those two months just flew by!  I am so glad I did it, and have learned a ton about myself in the process. And I feel like I learned some valuable tools to help my clients find their right path, as well. The main reason for wanting to do this study in the first place is because I felt that there was just too much conflicting, confusing, frustrating information out there!  I have been bombarded with completely opposing viewpoints while studying nutrition to the point where even I was ready to just give up. I can't imagine how a typical person just looking for healthy eating tips would feel with all that mind boggling information. So, I wanted to put myself on two completely different diets just to see how I reacted, but also to hopefully take some of the mystery out of nutrition.

I have to say that this was exactly what I expected and nothing like what I expected all at the same time.  I knew it would be hard and I knew my body would react differently to what I ate, but I didn't know I'd have to dig pretty deep on several occasions to just keep going.  I didn't know that I would change so dramatically (and rapidly!) from one diet to another, and I didn't know how attached I was to cheese until these studies began.  Oh, how I love me some cheese.

But, before I tell you how the study ended, I want to say thank you to all the people who shared their stories with me, who motivated me, were motivated by me, and who encouraged me along the way. Without you all, I would not have been able to do this. So, thank you, thank you, thank you!! <3  You rock!

Ok, so by the end of the Paleo study, I was ready for something new. It probably seems hard to believe for most of you that I could possibly be bored with eating steaks, bacon and eggs, but yes, it got boring.  To be fair, I do get bored pretty easily, and am always looking to shake things up a bit.  And the summer was really heating up so I was definitely ready to be done cooking!  What a relief not to have to steam, grill, bake or broil!

I have mentioned throughout the study that checking my urine pH was one of the main tests I used to track how successful (or not) the diet was for me.  Throughout Paleo my pH was low, in the 5.5-6 range.  I wasn't too worried about it and told myself that it might just take time for pH to budge into the alkaline side of things, but less than half way into Raw I was already seeing some darker greens. A consistent 6.5 reading was giving me some encouragement. But, it was on day 18 that I knew I was onto something.  My pH was at 7.5 for the first time ever! That's as normal as it gets, folks. Say what you will about protein, but this Raw Vegan diet was clearly making an impact on my body in a positive way.

All those green juices and salads were really paying off, not only in my pH levels, but also in my energy levels!  I plan to do a longer blog post about my past health issues, but for now just know that I really struggled for the last few years with energy and motivation to exercise.  But with the Raw diet I was not only energized to work out, I was stoked to keep pushing my body!  I was waking up earlier and going to bed later. I was running for the first time in FOREVER. And by run, I really mean walk a bit, then run a bit, but it totally counts!

But, the raw study was not without its downside.  There were days when I looked at my refrigerator and felt like I never wanted to eat another fruit or veggie again.  There were days where my family ate burgers or pizza and I desperately wanted a taste.  Just a tiny lick. Towards the end I opted to only drink juice a few days, mostly just to see if I could do it, but also just because I was super tired of the foods available. It's not their fault, I just like more variety (see, I got bored of veggies too!). And since this wasn't intended to be a life-long diet for me, I had no reason to really invest in trying more new recipes, so I just got through the last few days any way that I could.  If you're following me on Facebook, you also noticed that I would have cooked veggies from time to time.  I was shooting for 80% raw, but I think overall I averaged much higher than that, and those cooked veggies made a huge difference in my attitude, which also helped me get through some tough spots.

Even though I struggled towards the end, and need more variety from time to time, I would be super dumb not to continue at least some (most!) aspects of this Raw Vegan diet.  I just did too well on it to chuck it all together just because I got bored.  That would mean that I learned nothing these past two months. And it would mean that I prioritized my taste buds over my health. I hope to find a happy medium.

I did crave meats on occasion, which really surprised me. The first time I did a raw foods detox for 7 days, I was already repulsed at the thought of meat by day 4, so I actually expected to be even more opposed to meat by the end of this study.  I will add some animal proteins back in to my diet, unless my energy starts to wane, or my pH starts to stay in the acidic range again. I will have to play around with what amounts of Raw foods versus animal proteins I'll be able to consume, if any, in order to keep my energy levels and balanced pH, which are both more important to me than any number on the scale.

Speaking of the scale...I don't know why I decided to weigh myself every single day throughout these studies, but I AM SO GLAD TO BE DONE WITH THAT!  Phew. Sorry for yelling at you like that.  But seriously. The scale can make or break you.  On the days that I had "gained", I felt bad, even though I totally knew I had worked out a lot in the days before and that it was most likely muscle. So, weighing yourself every single day can be bad if you are easily affected.  I plan to go back to judging my success by how my jeans fit. :)

Here is my recap for key aspects tracked while on both diets. Please keep in mind this is how MY body reacted during these diets. I followed the diets as closely as possible and feel that this is an accurate representation of how a typical person would follow these programs, but I am not saying that everyone would react the same way I did. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.

Paleo: lost 10 pounds
Raw: lost 7 pounds
Total: lost 17 pounds (total inches lost: 13.5)

Paleo: Starting pH 5.5, ending pH 5.5
Raw: Starting pH 5.5, ending pH 7.5
*Since I started tracking my pH about a year and a half ago, I've never seen it above 6.5, so the fact that the Raw diet helped me get to 7.5 is noteworthy.

Paleo: Body fat percentage lost, 0% (went up initially, then back down to starting %)
Raw: Body fat percentage down 6%
*these numbers are from my bathroom scale, which is not as accurate as other methods, but still shows an interesting pattern.

Paleo: Average energy was a 5/6 out of 10
Raw: Average energy was 8/9 out of 10

Paleo: Consistent constipation and other number 2 issues (as described in the final paleo blog)
Raw: Super normal, regular 2-3 times a day number 2's (never a single "problem poopy" ever!) ;)

What did I learn these past two months, besides the above numbers?

  • Do not let anyone tell you that their way is the only way. Do not fall into the diet name game trap.  Once you start to follow a certain diet, the next step is to "fall off" that diet, feel like a failure, and repeat your old processes.  Once you stop following a plan, and start following your own instincts (and nature!) you will find what works for you. Are you feeling good?  Are you at or nearing your goals? Then you are NOT doing it wrong no matter what they say.

  • I can do anything I put my mind to! What a great feeling! 

  • I love food! Ok, I've already known that for years, but being able to fluctuate from high meat/no grains to all raw/no animal products is pretty amazing!  I found lovely foods that I truly enjoyed in both studies.  I am super thankful that I'm not a picky eater! 

  • Veggies rock!!  No matter how you choose to eat, veggies should be THE NUMBER ONE thing to focus on.  Number one. Done. End of story.

  • Paleo was more expensive than Raw.  But, keep in mind these few details: I followed Paleo based on protein three times a day/the size of your palm, which does not seem to be a strict paleo rule, so you may not buy as much as I did. Also, fruits and veggies are in season now. If I were to have done this study in February I most likely would have had a different outcome. I also chose to use a lot of nuts in my Raw study. They are freakishly expensive, and absolutely not mandatory for a successful Raw diet.

  • I no longer feel compelled to find the perfect diet. I went in to this wanting to find answers to how to eat, and I believe I found those answers.  I believe that people can be healthy on a Paleo diet, and I obviously believe people can be healthy on a no meat diet. Some decisions are made for moral reasons, but if you are deciding what to eat just based on how you feel or look, learn to intuitively understand your body's needs and you will finally end the dieting roller coaster. Dieting doesn't work. I think we all know that by now.  Consistent, healthy life choices that you are comfortable with...those work.

So, the big question of the day, how will I eat from now on?  Well, my initial plan is to stay about 50% raw, mostly vegetarian, with an occasional animal protein thrown in there as I feel like having it.  I know that my diet before Paleo was somewhat higher in animal protein and lower in veggies than I'd like, and I know that the Paleo diet wasn't ideal for me, so to go back to that doesn't make sense.  I will start with a very heavy focus on organic veggies, more juicing, lots of salads, as much raw as I can possibly eat (there are many recipes from the Raw study that I will definitely keep using!), cooked grains, nuts/seeds, lots and lots of yummy fruit (I ain't afraid of no fruit!), and occasional meat and dairy.  But truly, if my pH or energy levels go drastically lower with this way of eating, I will return to a Raw Vegan diet until I am comfortable with dabbling again, if ever.

I would probably never have come to this conclusion had I not done this 30 day study. I strongly encourage everyone to do a 30 day study like this!  You will not believe how quickly it goes, or how quickly you retrain yourself with some new habits!  That's a win-win! If you don't have the energy you feel like you should have, keep looking for it! Life is too short to just suffer through fatigue. Typically there is a dietary fix for it, so start experimenting!  If you would like my assistance on conducting one of your own studies, please contact me and I'd be happy to work with you.

My wish is for each and every one of you to find a balance in your life. I feel like I have finally done that, and it feels amazing!  Keep searching for your best might just be in the bottom of a green lemonade.  <3

**If you are interested in tracking your pH, I highly recommend these. I have used several brands and found these to be easiest to read and most accurate. I believe that at least finding out where your pH is gives you an idea of if your body is truly in a healthy state. If you're exercising regularly and eating a clean, whole foods diet, then you probably don't have to worry. But what if you're doing all of that and your pH is still low?  That is an indication that something is off in how your body is processing nutrients and eliminating toxins.  It's worth looking into, and if you're on the alkaline side of the scale, breathe easy. If you're more acidic, start tweaking your foods to see if anything helps.  Add more veggies. Limit meat for a few days. Drink more water. Exercise more. Eliminate grains. Cut out sugars. Anything you can think of that *might* be the culprit. If the pH improves, you'll know what to do.  I don't see this as anything other than just another gauge of health. Nothing to obsess over, but a tool to make sure you're as healthy as you think you are.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Life is over at 41. Or is it just beginning?

Yesterday I was reading some comments in a facebook thread and saw someone ask if, at age 41, they could still make a change in their lifestyle/body/health.  I sat there staring at that question for a moment, somewhat in disbelief.

You see, I have worked with clients much older than 41 who not only turned their life around by beginning a healthy eating journey, but they lost weight, were able to get off medications they had been on for years, and some even completed marathons for the first time ever. I also have an amazing dad who, at age 86, still drives to town to play cards with his friends, mows the yard, cooks, does laundry, gardens, and kicks butt at crossword puzzles.  It will always be ingrained into my way of thinking that we have the power to change, to be the best version of ourselves, at any given moment in our lives. I don’t care if you’re 41, 61, or 81!  One thing is for sure, you’ll never find out if you don’t try! 

So, when I saw that question and it dawned on me that not everyone thinks like I do, I thought I would give you a little confidence to try, no matter what age you are.  I’m going to be 41 in a little over a month, and I have the utmost confidence that I am going to be a bad ass 41 year old, and I will still be pushing myself and reaching for new goals at 91.  What about you?  Have you started your journey to your healthiest body yet?

I say, eat clean, exercise and be as open minded, positive and loving as you can possibly be! Never stop improving yourself.  Take baby steps at first if you feel overwhelmed. You have plenty of time to get there.  <3

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Raw diet experiment: first half.

In case you missed the beginning of the diet study, I began with 30 days of Paleo.  You can check those blogs out HERE and HERE. Now, I am half way into the Raw vegan portion. I'm practicing an 80% or higher level of Raw foods, with no animal products. Here is my experience so far...

The Raw part of this diet study has gone extremely quickly for some reason. When I first thought of the idea of doing these studies I sort of freaked out at the thought of having my foods so strictly controlled (and monitored!) for 60 whole days!  But the time has really been a non-issue.  I get bored easily, so this is a huge plus.

As I stated earlier on in my diet study, I am a blood type A+ and really wanted to see if the Blood Type Diet held any truth for me.  According to that book, I should do really well on a vegan/vegetarian diet.  But, I actually did well on Paleo, technically, if you only look at weight lost.  Losing ten pounds in one month is a pretty good chunk. Typically it is recommended you lose only 1-2 pounds per week, and I lost more than that.  But as I said in my Paleo review, I was tired a lot and didn't feel like exercising, and my pH was not improving. I guess that makes it a toss up.

I actually did a Raw diet detox for 7 days back in March for school. I was unbelievably grumpy the entire time.  Completely irrational and miserable.  This didn't exactly make me overly anxious to follow the Raw diet for 30 whole days, but I was still curious to see how my body would react.  The first few days I did experience some withdrawal symptoms, which surprised me. I had gone through several days of withdrawal on Paleo and didn't think I'd have anything else to withdrawal from!  But, apparently I did. Headaches, fatigue and bloating happened almost immediately.  By day 2, I was starting to see some new energy though and even went for a run, which is unheard of for me.  It's been years since I have been able to run, let alone wanted to.  Not only did I run that day, but I also swam and went for a bike ride.

Sadly, the next few days brought more fatigue.  I was starting to think something must be seriously wrong with me if nothing I was doing made me feel more energetic.  But, I kept following the diet and hoping for the best.

My weight was still coming down steadily (four more pounds lost in the first week) and my body fat (according to my bathroom scale) was also coming down, both good signs, I thought.

Then on day 9, I headed to Michigan to visit a friend. I knew I would have a little cooked food while I was there, but planned to stay vegan and mostly Raw.  I did pretty well most of the day but our evening meal consisted of some sushi and half of a cookie.  I paid the price for that meal. Oy.  I found this interesting, since as I stated in my final Paleo blog that I had no stomach issues on day 30 of Paleo after eating some pizza and breadsticks.  It could have just been bad food, or maybe Raw is changing my digestion even further. Time will tell!

I got right back on the Raw train the next day and by day 12 my pH was up to 6.5. This was still on the acidic side, but was a welcome improvement. My weight has gone up a bit from what I lost in the beginning of Raw, but, more importantly, my energy was really picking up.  Since day 12 my energy has been through the roof!  I wake up looking forward to working out, and excited to see how I can push myself. Before and during Paleo I never looked forward to working out. Sure, I went ahead and MADE myself work out, but excited for it?  No way.

So, if you only look at weight loss as a way to determine a diet's success, then the Raw diet is a big ol' failure for me so far!  However, if your energy level, pH level, fitness level and mood factor into your successful diet, then this is by far the best one I've ever been on. Funny how that works.

Here are some additional thoughts and notes:
I was off all junk, plus dairy, sugar and grains for 30 days on Paleo, so this energy could technically be residual effects from that. However, it does seem strange that those effects happened to take place two days into Raw, and not in the last days of Paleo.

I have added grains back in pretty regularly with the Raw diet. Either through soaking or cooking them, or simply in my protein shakes, and I have had zero issues. I never felt like I had issues with grains before, but it is nice to know that they aren't a problem now.  I do believe some people truly cannot digest grains, maybe short term, maybe for the rest of their lives, but it's worth going grain free just to see where you stand on that issue.

My pH is better, but still not great.  It could take a while for it to get up in the 7.2-8 range, but it's definitely headed in the right direction, and I'm very happy about that.

I had really weird cravings for thousand island dressing and fried green tomatoes. I can't even tell you the last time I had either of those things, let alone craved them.  Thankfully I found raw and/or vegan options for both of those!

Cashews are my boyfriend.

Meat does not repulse me the way it did on the first 7 day detox, in fact occasionally I have found myself staring at it longingly once or twice.  I'm not a natural born vegan and I just came off a 3x/day meat diet, so cut me some slack.  ;)

Overall, I am super happy with the way this is going.  I can't wait to see how the next two weeks unfold!

Here are some of my very favorite recipes for the Raw diet so far:
Sour cream
Macaroni and cheese
Avocado Fries
Kelp noodle pad thai
Thousand Island
Walnut taco meat
Raw caramels
Raw cacao puffs
Mimi Kirk's Caesar salad (parmesan recipe too)
Raw vegan macaroons

And my favorite Green Lemonade juice:
4-5 stalks of kale
1 head of romaine
1-2 lemons
2 apples (I like using one gala and one fuji)
1 small slice fresh ginger

*For those of you wondering how my O+ friend Addie is doing on her side of this study, she struggled during Paleo a bit, lost 5 pounds, and was hungry quite often. There are other factors that could be triggering that hunger, and, unfortunately, she had a personal tragedy that will delay her start of Raw until August. I will continue to update you on how she's doing, as I do believe that her experience will show an interesting part of the study. If nothing else, it shows that each individual is unique in their nutritional needs and should not get caught up in dietary games of what exactly we need to consume to be healthy. It also shows that life carries on, and we deal with circumstances as best we can and hope we turn back around and are stronger for our experiences.  <3

Monday, July 16, 2012

The end of the Paleo-rific era

If you missed the first half of my Paleo diet study experiment, check this out first! 

The last two days of my Paleo experiment certainly didn't go as planned.  On Friday, the 29th day, a huge, crazy storm swept through my area and blew out power in over 80,000 homes, ours included.  So, appropriately, my caveman study ended without electricity.  In fact, we didn't get our electricity back until 3 days later.  We are fortunate enough to have a gas stove, so we were able to cook some things, but we were very limited with our options.  I made the best choices I could those final days, but ultimately on the last day, I ate whatever was easiest.  This included a few "off-paleo" healthy things, like quinoa pasta, and a few not healthy under most circumstances things like pizza and bread sticks.  Sure, I could have picked the meat off, or just made a salad, but there were other more important things to focus on, and frankly I didn't think one day would make a major difference in the grand scheme of the entire study.

But, here's the interesting part.  Prior to doing the Paleo study, I ate a pretty clean diet. Sure, I ate a lot of baked goods and super heavy, creamy, cheesy things, but I made them all from scratch. I used organic unbleached flours, organic cane sugar, organic creams, I avoided gluten where possible, never drank sodas, rarely ate fast food, etc, etc, so while the calorie load wasn't ideal, I certainly could have eaten way worse than I did.  Ironically though, on weekends when we would have our one meal out at a restaurant (or carry out pizza, as usually was the case), I *always* got an upset stomach. Every. Single. Time.  It was like clockwork. I just assumed this was because of my clean eating during the week.  Maybe the grease overload, or the preservatives in the foods didn't agree with my normal way of eating.

Here's where it gets weird.  On Paleo, I ate even cleaner!  And I ate this way for 29 whole days!  You'd think that eating that pizza would have made me completely keel over in pain. But I felt nothing!  For the first time in forever I had no tummy issues after eating out.  I honestly have no idea what that means. My only thought is that perhaps my gut healed and now I can tolerate other things better?  Your guess is as good as mine, but it is definitely fascinating to me.

As for the basics, I lost 10 pounds during the 30 days. I attribute this to a few things.  First, I was carrying enough extra weight that any dramatic change in eating would have triggered this weight loss, and by cutting out the grains/dairy/sugar, I cut out a huge chunk of what I used to eat.  So, I don't necessarily give credit to the Paleo diet specifically, but the Paleo diet is a very clean way of eating. And, I didn't cheat, which of course would help make any diet a success.

Keeping in mind that weight loss should not be the only factor to determine a successful diet plan, I kept track of other factors as well. I knew I wanted to monitor pH levels, as mine have been in the basement for quite a long time, and I want to see it up in the lovely green shades of alkalinity.   My urine pH level did not really budge at all while on Paleo. It would go from 5.0 to 5.5 mostly, which is very acidic. Maybe it got to 6.0 two or three times, but would be back down to 5.5 the next morning. (for reference, early morning urine pH should be 7.2 or higher) By day 28 I had lost hope of any lasting alkalinity occurring, however, it may just take longer than 30 days to reflect that kind of change. I also know that for some people, a paleo diet has actually improved their pH levels, so this is just my experience only, and may not be true for all.

According to my home scale, my body fat percentage went up quite a bit in the initial days of the diet. I am not even remotely going to consider listing my actual numbers, but it went up a whole percentage in the first 4 days, then very slowly went back down to where it started by day 30. In other words, I never lost any body fat on this diet, if my scale is accurate.

My energy level was ok.  I cannot say that I ever felt unbelievably good. Most of my notes have "super tired today" on them. There were two times during the entire 30 days where I actually wanted to exercise.  And, most notably, when I did a lower body workout using weights, I was very sore for two days, and so tired that I had to go to bed at 8:00 one night.  It was like my body shut down to recover.  I have never had that happen before. And yes, I was getting plenty of protein.

This is where the TMI comes in, so skip this paragraph if you don't want to know about my bodily functions, mmmmkay?  I will spare you all the gory details, but during these 30 days I have had more "number 2" issues than any other time in my life.  From too often/runny and burning to not enough/hard and painful.  Most days were somewhat normal, but the abnormal days made this experiment less than fun. I tried to adjust my fiber intake to fix things, but other than that I couldn't see why I was having so many difficulties.

Other things that I noticed while on the Paleo diet:
After about day 4, I never had much of an appetite. Some days I had to force myself to eat.

My hair seemed to be falling out much more than normal.

I really didn't crave anything. I never missed grains even once, which was interesting to me.  I did miss dairy on occasion, but dealt with that by making alternatives like cashew sour cream or banana "ice cream". On the 25th day of the study, I did have some unbelievable cravings and fatigue.  I went to bed early and woke up the next day feeling refreshed. I had gotten up to pee 4 times during the night, and was down 1.5 pounds that morning. It may have been some kind of detox, but the energy I felt that day was short lived. I was back to feeling pretty tired the rest of the study.

Overall, I am not against recommending the Paleo diet to a client, necessarily.  While I certainly don't feel it is for me, and that it's probably too strict and difficult to sustain for most people, it could be beneficial for certain people who are very intolerant to grains.  The best part of Paleo, versus the old-school high protein diets, is the emphasis on veggies and extremely high quality meat choices. If you're thinking about going Paleo, do your research and save your pennies. It could very well be worth it to you!

I am in the middle of the Raw diet portion of the study, and I can say's quite a different experience!  I can't wait to share that part of it soon!   Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Raw Vegan 4th of July!

I've been on one hundred diets in my life, give or take, and many of them have crossed paths with a holiday. I almost never, ever deny myself a chance to be gluttenous at holiday parties, however. I am a baker at heart and that's when my best stuff gets created, after all.  But, this time was different. I am doing a "legit" diet study and wanted to show that I could in fact get through a holiday without going off my rocker. (or needing to wear the fat pants!)

So, off to a 4th of July party I went with my watermelon cake and caesar salad.  Wait.  Did I just say cake and casesar salad?  Those aren't raw or vegan, are they?  Well, my versions were!  Let's start with the cake.

I got the inspiration for this cake from Raw Food Rehab on Facebook. They had posted a similar watermelon cake and it was the perfect idea for me.  Like I said, I love LOVE to bake, and am usually the person who brings the dessert, so this could not have been a better choice.

Before making it, I googled "how to make a watermelon cake." Big mistake.  All the links lead to real cakes made to look like a watermelon. So, I got more detailed: "How to make a cake out of watermelon."  That did the trick.  I found a youtube video demonstrating how to assemble one.  She busted out a ruler, and a sharpie, and some special saw and I just laughed to myself,  "That's taking it a bit far, don't ya think?"  

So, I headed to my kitchen, got out my normal chef's knife, started slicing the watermelon and promptly realized why she went all Type A on that melon.  Watermelon is tricky to cut in perfect circles, yo.  My slices were all kinds of wonky.  And then trying to get flat slices was like when you cut your bangs yourself, and you're all "I'm just going to even this side up a bit.  Now this other side needs tweaked just a bit." And next thing you know you're bald.  Yeah. Like that.  I started with a ten inch thick slice and next thing I know it's too small and I had to cut another one.  

I was also planning on covering up any rough edges with a whipped coconut cream, but that was a big FAIL too. It never got firm enough to whip. I don't know if it was the brand, or if I didn't leave it in the refrigerator long enough, but I was bummed.  It's pretty typical for something to go wrong every time I make a cake.  The cake is too crumbly, or part of it breaks off when it to a plate...but at least with "real" cakes I know that I can use my trusty buttercream to cover up any errors.  So when the coconut cream failed too, I started to get nervous.  But, toothpicks saved the day.  There were a gazillion toothpicks holding all that fruit on, but at least it looked good!  I saved the coconut cream and we just spooned it over the melon slices.  A perfect combo and no one knew the difference. 

I do not, however, recommend travelling long distances while transporting this cake. Not that I was crazy enough to do that or anything.

Yummy Veggies! Not pictured: 3 huge slices of
tomato and a gigantic dollop of fresh guacamole!
And then I made Mimi Kirk's Raw Vegan Caesar Salad. I was super skeptical at first. I'm not sure why. Maybe, I don't know....the lack of cheese and anchovies?  Just a guess.  Sorry for doubting you, Mimi!  This was a huge hit! And it was a very simple recipe. I had almost all of the ingredients on hand, except capers, but luckily my husband doesn't mind running all over town for me and my random, last minute recipes.

Her recipe can be found here. I can't wait to make this again!  The cashew parmesan cheese was the best part, and it makes plenty so you have left overs for things like raw spaghetti, or just to sprinkle on a salad.

At the party, my friend, the hostess, had prepared a few special raw foods for me, so I had plenty to eat!  My plate, pictured right, was full of lovely veggies and I didn't feel overly full for the first time at a holiday party.  I also was not jealous or resentful of not being able to eat the rest of the foods.  All of mine were so tasty that it really didn't even cross my mind.

So many options exist for vegetable preparation. I hope my Raw journey, at the very least, inspires you all to try eating more veggies!  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Skip the Koolaid: My interview with Go Kaleo

Recently I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite Health and Wellness role models on Facebook.  Amber of Go Kaleo chatted with me about her philosophies on today’s diet world, how to be a role model for kids, and what she’d feed the Primal Guru, Mark Sisson, if he stopped by for dinner. 

Whole to Healthy: How did you come up with the name Go Kaleo?
Go Kaleo: Kaleo is a combination of kale and paleo. Kale because I eat mostly plants, paleo because eating real, whole, locally produced foods is a central part of my philosophy. Kaleo is also Greek for 'the voice' or 'the calling' which I think is sort of apropos, and a little grandiose.

W2H: So, you do eat mostly you ever eat any animal products?
GK:  The only animal product I eat regularly is pastured eggs from a local farm co-op.

W2H: At one point, while you were following a Paleo diet, you were convinced that grains were bad for you. What are your thoughts on them now? 
GK: I think some people have sensitivities to them and for those people a grain free diet can be very helpful. I also think they are a dense source of calories, so for people trying to lose weight, limiting them can be helpful. But they can be very delicious, and many cultures have traditions that revolve around grain based foods. If a person enjoys grain based foods, and doesn't have sensitivities, there's no reason to completely avoid them. And if a person is underweight they can be a great source of calories to help pack on needed weight and they're energy dense.

W2H: You actually lost weight while consuming a lot of grains. Can you explain how this was possible?
GK: I lost weight on an eating plan that included grains because I burned more calories than I consumed.

W2H: Describe that moment when you went from no grains, to "Hmmm, maybe I can eat grains, even if others can't."
GK: It was when I did the 4 week MyPlate diet experiment. I was eating 9 servings of grain a day and my energy was fantastic, especially my endurance during workouts. And I REALLY like sourdough bread and oatmeal, so it was nice to be able to reintegrate them into my diet without guilt.

W2H: Mark Sisson comes to dinner….what would you serve him and what would you talk about?
GK: I'd serve him a giant salad and some roasted root vegetables. We'd talk about our very similar workout philosophies. And I'd ask him to take his shirt off.
W2H: Bahaha! With your husband’s permission, of course.
GK: <laughing>

W2H:  You are brutally honest when it comes to your opinions on diet. Your path was a long one though, how did you make that first step to becoming the confident self-proclaimed badass that you are today?
GK:  The first step to becoming the badass I am today was committing to keeping an open mind. I think that's the only way to truly learn.

 W2H:  Your before pictures look so much different than you do today.  Do you feel like you’re finally comfortable in your own skin?  What do you think when you look back at those pictures?
GK: I am finally comfortable in my own skin! And it's not because my shape has changed, it's because my internal dialogue has changed. I feel sad for all the life I missed out on because I spent so much time hating my body.

W2H:  How old were you when you finally started feeling good about your body? Or at least about the direction it was taking?
GK: I was 35. It really was sort of a light bulb moment, I had an epiphany that I was my daughters' primary female role model and I was doing a craptastic job at it. In that moment I realized I needed to love my body just the way it was and that that was the only way I was going to get healthier. And from that moment on I've valued and appreciated my body.  Our culture makes us captive to self-hate. We're hobbled by it as human beings and we cannot realize out full potential because we're stuck in this self-destructive mindset.

W2H: Do you think you have finally reached that goal of being a good role model for your daughters?  What, if anything, would you have done differently if they had been boys?
GK: I do think I am a MUCH better role model now than I was, although I'm still not perfect. But part of what I want to model for them is that it's ok not to be perfect. If they’d been boys I don't think I would have done anything different, because I would have been modeling a healthy female mindset, a mindset that I'd have hoped they would look for in a potential partner (assuming they chose a female partner).

W2H: You recently lost some fans because of a controversial post on Facebook. How does that make you feel?
GK: A little bummed that they're stuck somewhere that allows them to be hurt and offended by something a stranger on the internet says.

W2H: Does it make you want to do more controversial posts, or less? Or maybe it doesn't affect your posts at all?
GK: I would say it doesn't affect my posts. I'm not trying to sell anything or please anyone. I just say things that I need to say, and that I think others need to hear.

W2H: I don't know how you do it.  I personally get super bummed when someone disagrees with a post of mine, and it takes me some time to approach it calmly with an open mind.  What is your first reaction when someone challenges one of your points? 
GK: My first reaction is to think critically about what they are saying and the point they're trying to make. Sometimes they're just trying to get a rise out of me, and it's pretty hard to do that. If that's the case I usually ignore the post. If they have a valuable contribution to the discussion, I'm all ears. I like to explore different aspects of issues.

W2H: Sometimes it is hard to distinguish, don't you think?
GK: I think I've gotten pretty good at recognizing general douchebaggery.
W2H: True, you have been doing this much longer than me. I still have a lot to learn! 
GK: Part of it is not being emotionally invested in what others think of me and that is a really hard place to come to
W2H: Totally!  If only good nutrition could also shed the “worrying about what others think” baggage along with the fat!
GK:  <laughing>  Seriously.

W2H: What advice do you have for someone who has many differing guru’s opinions and diet advice in their head and aren’t quite sure how to proceed?
GK: Listen to your own body.
W2H: Is there a trick to doing that, which you have found?
GK: Keeping a diet log has really helped me. I can see patterns: weight loss/gain, general sense of well being, etc.

W2H: Do you have a health/fitness role model?
GK: I have several. Diana Nyad is a big one. Jack LaLanne. Lynn Cox.

W2H: What is your favorite health food?
GK: Dark chocolate. Followed closely by avocado and sweet potatoes.
W2H: What? No kale?
GK: Ha! Kale and other greens are favorites as well.

W2H: Do you have a weakness for any “junk” food?  If so, what is it?
GK: Yeah, Reese's peanut butter cups.
W2H: Mmm, great. Now I’m craving those. 
GK: I know. Me too.

W2H: What does "whole to healthy" mean to you?
GK: Once you're able to see the 'big picture', or how all the aspects of your life work together, it's then you are able to begin to pursue true health. We are not a collection of independent organs and functions. Our bodies are intricate systems, and we exist within a larger system. All parts of those systems need to work together for true health to manifest.
W2H: Love that answer.

W2H: What's your favorite kitchen gadget or appliance?
GK: My Vitamix, hands down. 
W2H: Agreed.  I adore mine!  What do you tend to use it for most?
GK: I use it for green smoothies every day. It’s also great for soups, sauces and nut butters!

W2H: Any other paradigms we should watch for you to break anytime soon?
GK: I've got a blog post on childhood obesity brewing in my head. And another one on exercise and insulin resistance. No ETA for either though.

W2H: What are your thoughts on the blood type diet?  
Gk: I'm as skeptical of the blood type diet as I am any other fad diet. That said, I do very well on the diet the book says I should do well on. (She is an AB+ blood type)

W2H: Have you been following the diet study I'm doing?
GK: Yes, it's awesome!
W2H: I'll be doing the raw portion soon...any suggestions on what will help me get through 30 days? 
GK: Hemp seeds and avocado!
W2H: I think I can handle that. ;)

Thanks to Amber for her time spent with me!  She is an outspoken, well rounded, educated advocate for the whole foods way of eating.  Her mantra is, “Eat real food. Move around a lot. Lift heavy things. And skip the kool-aid.” If you would like to be inspired and learn more about her approach to health and fitness, please follow her blog, facebook page and tweets. You’ll be glad you did!