Sunday, April 29, 2012

DO you eat seasonally?

I can't express to you enough to make the farmers market your friend if you don't have a garden. Due to the fact that we are fearfully and wonderfully made our wonderful Lord Jesus has made us in connection with the natural things around us. This is exhibited by our bodies coming dust and returning to dust when we physically die. We are a part of creation, a very intricate part, yet part of it nonetheless, so in my estimated opinion I believe that we are in a sense connected to the earth.

It only makes sense since we are the ones who rule and have dominion over the earth. One cannot rule what they are not a part of or are not connected. You would quickly be rejected or rebelled by those you rule. It was one of the reasons Christ became man was so that we could see how He was able to relate to us, feel our pain and struggles, and understand it all even at the same time being God. Sadly we rejected and rebelled against the only one who came to save us.

So when we reside in a certain area for a while our bodies acclimate themselves to the surroundings, and our blood, skin, hair, amount of fat our bodies need, and even digestive system all adapt to where we live. I'm not not saying it's a perfect formula. Just because you move to Hawaii, it doesn't mean you will lose 100 pounds while you go through the drive thru 4 times a week, but you will adjust to the humidity, and you're body will want to lose the weight, even if your own habits don't allow it full success.

 What I have learned to do is to listen to my body, feed it what it needs, and not be too dogmatic. Everyone's body is different. I don't process meat very well, I took it out 3 years ago, and I don't miss it. Knowing what is done to animals these days, I really don't miss it. Watch Food Inc, King Korn, and, Forks Over Knives, if you don't know what I am referring to about the treatment of animals we eat. You can watch those documentaries on Netflix.

My body needs a little bit of animal protein though. After trial and error this is what I have found. I thrive on high amounts of raw veggies and fruits, along with raw nuts and seeds, some beans and healthy gluten free grains like quinoa, millet, and brown basmati rice, raw goat cheese, and eggs. In the warmer months I am almost 100% raw with the foods I eat. I do green smoothies almost every morning for breakfast, lots of salads, and fresh fruit. In the cooler months I add in more cooked grains, vegetarian soups, and baked sweet potatoes.

When we eat seasonally we do our bodies and the environment a world of good. I'll probably do a post on this topic each year because I think it is so important. When we shop at our local farmers markets and shop at grocery stores that work with local farmers it helps our bodies by getting more bio-available nutrients from foods picked not too long ago. Many times you can work out good deals at farmers markets if you get to know your farmer and shop with the same one there for a while. It helps the local farmers stay in business which is good for the community and the farmer himself. It also is less gas used to transport the food, which is good for keeping pollution down from the gas fumes.

Please consider eating this way. Its a great way to try new fruits and veggies. It forces you to say, okay, I've never had daikon radish before, let me take some. When we eat what is in season we are getting the full nutrient value instead of fruit or veggies forced to grown in improper conditions, like under lights. Another avenue is to sign up for a produce co-op, or produce shipments that come straight to your house. These are very popular right now, you can sign up with a particular group, pay a flat fee per week or per month, and receive a box of fresh, local produce at your doorstep.

Tell me what you do to eat seasonally. Do you have a local farmers market that you like in your area?

Monday, April 23, 2012

What Do You Use in Your Kitchen?

So last week I talked a little bit about pantry organization and food storage. I want to expand on what I use in my kitchen, what healthy choices there are available, and how you can make it feasible in your kitchen. I remember how daunting of a process this was for me when I first started. I would like to spare you some pain by putting the information here, then you can think about it, do some research and make a decision on what works best for your family.

First I'll expand on food storage and take it from the pantry to the refrigerator. So my rule is if it's a liquid, a wet food, or has been cooked it goes in glass or stainless steel, preferably glass. Glass is safe storage for food of all kinds. When foods are wet or when you have liquids whatever you store your food in has potential to leach into the food. That is fact when using plastic. So if you use plastic to store your wet foods and liquids be sure it's at least Bisphenol-A free, otherwise know as BPA.

Bisphenol-A is an organic compound that is put into many plastic and aluminum items. BPAs are used to harden plastics. Our bodies recognize it as an artificial estrogen. When this compound goes into our bodies it cause hormone disruption. Some scientists and studies show that it directly linked to troubles in pregnancy, neurological disorders, obesity, and cancer. To be honest the verdict is still split as to whether or not enough research has been presented. I, however, have seen enough, and choose not to chance it. Also when I think about the amount of plastic used today involving food verses say 50-60 years ago, and then look at the rise of cancer, I believe plastic use is a contributor.

Another material to be concerned with is aluminum. I realize it's is a very common item in the everyday person's kitchen, it's light and cheap. Unfortunately a higher price is attached with aluminum toxicity. Aluminum is found in cans of food and drinks, foil to cover food, pots and pans, in baking powder, and deodorant. I avoid it as much as possible. Neurological deficiencies like Alhiemerzer Disease,and dementia. It is also an inhibitor of absorbing certain necessary minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. It can and does leach into liquids. Also when heated in ovens or on stove tops it does leach into food.

An additional concern with aluminum cooking and baking ware is the non-stick coating. First of all in most pans the stuff doesn't work that well. I've only had one set of pans where the non-stick coating worked well. Teflon or other non-stick coating takes only a few minutes on a pan to reach extremely high temperatures and then emits poisonous gases. Why would chemists come up with such a thing then? Well, one reason I can think of is because we'll buy it. Citizens of the USA want it bigger, badder, and faster now. It's been proven we will take serious consequences for convenience.

The leaching is very minimal with glass, and it's all natural composed of sodium oxide, calcium oxide, and silica. I realize the downside is it is breakable, on the other hand if you reuse and recycle glass containers and jars from foods you purchase you'll save some money. Most glass storage from either mason jars or a brand like Pyrex and Anchor is very durable, thick glass.If you are interested in purchasing glass storage it's as easy as a trip to Walmart. You can of course order online from Walmart, Target, or even These are fairly affordable, and becoming much more popular as more and more of us health nuts arise.

I use a combination of stainless steel cookware and cast iron cookware. It took me a minute to get used to using the cast iron, I love it now though. I bake with stoneware from The Pampered Chef. I am also a big fan of bamboo. I use bamboo spatulas, spoons, tongs, and cutting boards. Another type of cookware that is new on the health scene is ceramic. I like Dr. Mercola's line. At this point in time it is not economical at all. I am happy with what is in my kitchen.

My ultimate point of view with all of these toxins and things that we hear about is to be wise, get out what you can, and are willing to be rid of in your home. We can't avoid everything. We'd cease to exist. We live in a fallen world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Does Your Pantry Look Like?

Recently again I rearranged my pantry. Organizing it is like therapy to me. I know I'm crazy...I'm okay with that. I'm resolved to my OCDs. Seriously though we need order and one area is your kitchen pantry. My hope with this post is that maybe how I do things will be helpful to the organization-challenged individuals. Quite frankly it still looks disorderly to me, but I know where everything is and it works for me.

Truly having an organized kitchen can cause you to actually want to be in your own kitchen more and want to prepare your own food. Preparing your food is healthier, more cost effective, and truly depending on what you make less time consuming. I realize cruising through the drive thru may not seem so then again consuming food like processed products sitting under hot lights doesn't exactly make me salivate...just saying.

Back to the pantry an important health aspect is storage. How do you store your food? When I can I choose to use glass containers. The reason for this are the chemicals and toxins that are contained in plastic or aluminum. I say when I can because we have to be realistic. Everything is a transition. You may not be able to afford buying all new glass containers, neither could I. That's okay. Do what you can do in your family.

One thing I do that you may already do and if not feel free to adopt this is I reuse glass jars from the store. It's simple, you already have it, and it's as simple as a trip thru the dishwasher. In fact many of the coconut oil jars that I accumulate turn into our drinking glasses. They come with lids so it's great for kids, cheaper than plastic sippy cups, and the glass is so think they hardly ever break if dropped. If they do, and you've been saving them, then it's no sweat to replace one.

I save all size jars. What really helps is saving the glass spice jars. I've bought cinnamon and paprika from the store. Well spices are expensive. Now I refill them in the bulk spice section. I get just what I need. Whole Foods has bulk spices. The health food store I work at called The Vine Health Shoppe in Fuquay-Varina, NC also has bulk spices. We have bulk spices, teas, and medicinal herbs.

So I still have plastic containers. They are large, and larger glass containers are pricey. I did accumulate some half gallon mason jars at one point when I was buying raw goats milk. It was for my cat. Laugh those of you who get the joke. Anyway, I stopped buying it and had these great larger mason jars. So I use those for my oats, buckwheat groats, and chickpeas. You can buy those at Ace Hardware stores, and I'm sure order them somewhere.

I label my containers with masking tape and a sharpie. You can use. A fancy label maker if you want to, I'm not that together I guess :) I will say that something I'm a stickler about is if I'm storing any liquids I will put them in glass no if, ands, or butts. Its a fact that poisons can leach into liquids much easier than dry goods. Something else to consider is that most of our dry foods these days are stored in a plastic bag or bin before we bring them home anyway. Just be realistic. If you use plastic try to get BPA free containers.

My approach to a healthier lifestyle is simple, take consistent small steps, eat cleaner and simply, do what you can within the means the Lord Yeshua has given you, be thankful for all things, avoid as much of the garbage as possible, and smile. Put the good stuff in whenever you can and wherever you can. Be wise. Don't fret. Don't listen to everything you hear, watch, or read. Compare and contrast options.

Next time I'll talk about what I use to cook with and why. If you have any tips to share post them down below. If you live locally, the first 2 people to post this blog entry on your face book page let me know below, and if you come in The Vine I'll give you a spice jar to fill with any of our herbs, spices, or teas. You pay for the spices, I'll pay for the jar. If you have any questions post those below also.

Friday, April 13, 2012

So What are Enzymes Anyway?

Being around the raw food circuit you will hear a ton about enzymes. In case you were like me when I first got started on my health journey and felt bewildered, I will discuss a little bit here what enzymes are, why they are important and why we need them, and how we can attain them for better health.

So enzymes are protein molecules, and they are the catalyst for our bodies to operate correctly. Basically enzymes speak the language our bodies understand in order for proper digestion, and the appropriate organs to work effectively. Our bodies have their own stores of enzymes. These are needed for immune health and other body functions.

There are different types of enzymes: food, metabolic, and digestive. You can only find enzymes in living cells. Basically what that means is that once you could your food over 118 degrees F (almost most of our meals in the USA) the enzymes in our foods die. Enzymes are pertinent to digestion. Without them our food does not break down properly, and that leads to terrible digestive issues like indigestion, heart burn, constipation, colitis, crohns disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Ideally for food digestion and for our bodies to utilize that food for energy we should eat foods with enzymes. So what happens when we eat foods without enzymes is our bodies recognize that we have been depleted of the enzymes in our food, so our bodies borrow from our own enzyme stores. What that does over time is that messes with our immune system, which then effects all the other systems in our bodies and causes disease.

An easy way to avoid those issues is to have a mainly plant based diet with lots of whole, fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. You do not have to be all raw to stay healthy. Our bodies need those enzymes though for proper digestion. A rule of thumb that I practice when I am making the choice to eat cooked foods is to eat some raw foods with it. That way the enzymes from the raw foods will help with the break down of the cooked foods. So when you have some beans and brown rice have a large kale salad with lots of different colored vegetables with it. The fiber from the salad will also aid in digestion.

I strongly recommend taking a good digestive enzyme capsule before eating more difficult to digest proteins, like meats, fish, and eggs. Two brands that I really like are Enzymedica and Health Force Nutritionals. You can find the Enzymedica line at The Vine Health Shoppe where I work in Fuquay-Varina, NC. You can order Health Force Nutritionals right here on my blog. You can purchase these at the Raw Life Store or at the Renegade Health Store. Both have banners on the right side of my blog.

If you have any questions, post them below.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Coconut Oil is My Friend!

I know that I have posted things before about my love affair with coconut, whether its the oil, the shreds, the aminos, the syrup, or the vinegar. There are so many health benefits, and really I can't think of any draw backs. It's a low glycemic food with great antibacterial properties. Its a healthy saturated fat necessary for brain health and heart health.

Today I want to tell you about some wonderful coconut oil by Tropical Traditions. They were so generous to allow me to try their product out. It's USDA certified organic virgin coconut oil. It is cholesterol free. I've tried it in several ways and have been very happy. To learn about the many uses of coconut oil go here.

Food wise I used it to cook my eggs, and that makes them extra delicious in my cast iron pan, in my honest opinion. I used it to make popcorn on the stove, to make the raw chocolate cake in a previous post, put it my green smoothies for breakfast, and used it in the gluten free pancakes that I make as well.

I also used it to make a coconut sugar facial scrub that is incredible for your skin, as my daily facial moisturizer (I did scoop some out into a another jar for this), and used it to make homemade toothsoap. I stopped using toothpaste long ago for health reasons. I will discuss that greater in another post.

I definitely recommend the Tropical Traditions Brand of coconut oil. You can get it in 4 sizes: 16oz, 32oz, 1 gallon, and 5 gallons. Many times they have sales and free shipping. They have a whole line of coconut products on their website. Check them out here.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Chocolate Cake...Did I mention that it's RAW?!!!!

Hello All!

I apologize for being so very sluggish with my blog posts. There has been so much going on, I will get better. So I have been enjoying trying new recipes, making them my own, and letting others taste them to see what they think. I've gotten mostly positive feed back.

This past week was my younger son's birthday, he turned 9!!!! I simply could not believe it. His request was a cake out of Victoria Boutenko's Raw Family Signature Dishes Book. Guess was completely raw! That's right raw cake. So many people said, "Marie, how do you make a raw cake?"

I was terribly nervous about doing something wrong, or it turning out different than it did in the book. Well its really not that difficult with the right tools. It's truly so much faster and healthy than a cake you would bake as well. People close to me know how I feel about raw foods. All of the nutrients and enzymes in tact all the while tasting yummy...can you get better than that? Raw foods are so easy, once you prepare it you eat it, there's no waiting time to cook.

Here is the Raw Birthday Cake:

You'll need a high speed blender, like a Vita Mix, a food processor, a spring form cake pan, and cheese cloth.

For the crust or batter if you will I used 4 cups of raw organic walnuts (the book called for 2 cups and I don't have any idea how because it was not enough...maybe she was able to get it flatter or thinner than me for the layers), two juiced lemons, 2 tbsp coconut oil (the recipe called for olive oil), and 3 cups of chopped medjool dates( the book called for raisins, but I do not like them). You blend these in the food processor. You'll use this to make three layers. It will be a sticky ball once processed.

Put a layer of cheese cloth over the spring form cake pan. Then press some batter onto the cheesecloth of the bottom of the pan. I rolled some in my hands and then flattened it out best I could.

For the filling I used frozen blueberries (fresh would be just fine), and organic yellow pears. So on top of the first layer of batter I covered it with defrosted, rinsed frozen blueberries ( I just ran some water over them to defrost them, they were still firm. The book called for sliced strawberries, but my son loves blueberries.

Next I put the second layer of batter. Then came the pears, I just sliced them and put them laying down on the batter. Next came the top layer of batter. Once you have completed the cake gently turn it over onto a serving platter, loosen the clamps on the pan, lift the pan off, then carefully peel off the cheese cloth.

To frost the cake I used one cup of raw pecans, 1 1/2 cups of raw honey (the book called for 1 cup of agave, and I don't use agave, try one cup of honey and see if that is sweet enough for you), 1 freshly squeezed lemon, 1 vanilla bean, and 2 tbsp of raw cacao powder. Next time I will probably use carob powder since I prefer the antioxidants from the carob without the caffeine and theobromine, another stimulant, from the cacao plant. Just blend these in the Vita Mix until creamy smooth. Use a frosting knife and cover the cake in the frosting.

Finally I just dusted it with coconut. If you try this recipe let me know please! I think the frosting would be yummy with cashews or macadamia nuts as well.