Going Green

The book that started it all...

My first introduction to the concept of an all-raw diet came about 11 years ago when I was working for Barnes & Noble Distribution. The office was abuzz about a new book that had just arrived. That book was Juliano’s “RAW – The UNcook Book.” It was filled with beautiful images of foods that I couldn’t imagine weren’t cooked.  I was intrigued and bought a copy.

I was always interested in healthy eating, but this took things to a whole new level.  I had been a vegetarian for most of the previous decade.  I tried going vegan, but that lasted about a week.  To be honest, these recipes intimidated me. The lists of ingredients  (some I had never even heard of) were lengthy, with recipes of some of the ingredients on other pages of the book.  I had good results with a few of the simpler dishes, which required either juicing or simple assembly.  I ordered a dehydrator, but it mostly sat unused.  I had no clue how to approach this new way of eating.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago, and I was willing to give it another try.  By then, there was so much more information available.  I knew this wasn’t going to be something I would accomplish overnight – if ever.  But I figured that adding more raw foods, which are truly 100% natural and unprocessed, had to be a good thing.  I don’t remember how I learned about green smoothies, which are just blended leafy greens and fruit, but the thought of not having to clean that annoying mesh screen of a juicer every day really appealed to me.  Also, you keep the insoluble fiber that gets lost when you juice.  So I blended my very first green smoothie consisting of spinach, an apple, a banana and enough water to get the consistency I wanted.  I couldn’t believe how good it tasted. You can easily get 3-5 servings of fruits and greens in one smoothie, which comes out to anywhere between 20–32 ounces depending on the amounts of ingredients you use.

Got Green?

The basics of a green smoothie are listed below. Try to use as much organic produce as you can afford. If greens make you cringe a bit, I would recommend that you begin with more fruit to start so you can get used to tasting greens this way. By the way, there is tons of info out there on the green smoothie. Explore and have fun!

Base – about a cup of water (you can use fruit juice if you like, but I prefer water)

Leafy Greens – I love using romaine, spinach, green/red leaf lettuce, and tender spring greens. They are a bit lighter in flavor.  As you progress, you can add the stronger greens like kale and collards.

Something for creaminess – Banana, fresh or frozen, or ½ an avocado

Other sweet fruits –cored but unpeeled apples and pears, peaches, berries (you can use frozen), mango, pineapple, oranges – whatever you like.

Sometimes I add a little Stevia for extra sweetness.  You can also blend in ice if you like. The simplest green smoothie consists of romaine, bananas and water.  So simple and so good.

Green smoothies opened a door for me.  My odyssey continues and I’m happy to report that I’m no longer intimidated by Juliano’s book.

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Oh, Those Kodak Moments

The Times of Your Life...

As I watched the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, I reflected on the nature of impermanence. It’s so obvious at a moment like that since that moment, the change from one year to the next, is separated out and celebrated. We all know it passes never to be experienced again. That acknowledgement is a useful tool for us. It can help us understand the transitory nature of this so-called reality in which we live. But that’s not always what we want. Like Paul Anka singing “The Times of Your Life” we cling to our Kodak moments yearning for what is no more. The question is why?

Maybe it’s because our perception of the past as “the good ‘ol days” clouds what we are experiencing in the present. But the present is always on it’s way to becoming the past. See the problem? Still, we find comfort in the past – its outcome is already known, we’ve gotten through it, it gives us pleasure, we can re-visit loved ones who are now gone etc. We can’t say that about the future. The future is unknown and the unknown is always scary for us. So, between reliving the past (whether good or bad) and worrying about the future, we lose sight of where we are – the present.

Those Kodak moments also give us a glimpse of something else at work in our lives – attachment. When we experience nostalgia, we experience attachment: a longing for something that is no more. Also, we experience attachment when we plan for our future Kodak moments because we are attached to how we think the future should turn out.

Buddhism speaks of the interrelatedness between impermanence and attachment. The fear of losing something or someone makes us hold onto it more strongly. All of our energy is channeled into protecting what we have because we feel our possessions and relationships define who we are. Just ask anyone who has been dealing with the effects of the current economic crisis. They have been given a unique opportunity (although I’m sure they don’t look at it that way right now) to see their attachments and how their identity is wrapped up in all things external. It’s only when we can detach from our attachments in any given moment do we glimpse our true identity.

To understand impermanence is to embrace the present moment. When we are truly present, we live in that space that is free from attachment. We don’t mourn the past or fear the future. In the present moment there is no past or future, only the eternal now.

Superfood Protein Drink

Hemp Protein Powder

Not exactly a title you would expect to find on this site, but as you know I like to share my thoughts and experiences regarding a variety of topics such as yoga and astrology.  Now I’d like to shift gears once again and talk a little about raw foods and superfoods.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with a raw vegan diet. It started with drinking green smoothies and now I have a collection of raw food recipe books, which have been extremely helpful to me. And I might add, David Wolfe has become my hero, although there are several others whose websites, you-tube videos, and books have given me tremendous amounts of information. I’ve never gone totally 100% raw, but there have been periods that I have been I’d say roughly 90% raw. The difference in the way I feel during those times is, quite frankly, amazing. I’ll blog more about my experiences in the future, but today I wanted to share a recipe I concocted.

On reading David Wolfe’s book on Superfoods, I went out and bought several that he wrote about including Hemp protein powder, Maca Root powder, Gogi powder, raw honey and coconut butter. I was already familiar with and using Raw Cacao on a regular basis. I tweaked his recipe for “Oh Wow Cacao” by leaving out a few things like the green powders making it a bit more of a raw ‘hot’ chocolate. I really didn’t care so much for the taste of the greens in this one, so my bag of lovely green hemp protein powder just sat until this morning when I whipped up this drink (recipe is below).  I liked it so much I found myself scraping the sides of the blender in order to get it all out.  Feel free to make whatever substitutions you wish to suit your tastes and/or tweak the amounts of any ingredient…. All ingredients are raw and organic…

Superfood Protein Drink

In a blender I added:

8 ounces of water

2 TBL Hemp powder

1 TBL Maca

1 TBL Hempseed

2 Medjool dates (don’t forget to take out the pits)

1- 2 TBL Raw Tahini

Blend on high until creamy and the dates are fully blended. You can soften the dates by soaking them beforehand if you like – I didn’t bother. Drink up and enjoy!

Some variations to try:

Blend in a frozen banana for extra creaminess (you can subtract some of the tahini if you’re concerned about the fat)

Blend in some raw cacao for a chocolate treat