Relaxation 101.

April 26, 2011 § 10 Comments

It’s a rare moment when, in the midst of a day filled with such ordinary events as watching the sun rise, bike riding and time spent with family, you stop and realise, it’s a day to remember. It’s not often we preempt nostalgia, actively participating in the memory as it unfolds, but today is going straight to the bank.

We started early at 5am to attend the dawn ANZAC service. I am hardly patriotic and gung-ho wartime rhetoric makes me cringe, but the fact remains, hundreds of thousands of young people of countless nationalities have lost their lives in tragic, barbaric, and senseless conflict, a fact that is certainly worth remembering.

As the sun started to rise, it was a wee bit magical.

Walking back from the park, I got a bit snap-happy. Bear with the whimsical sky/tree shots.

Autumnal magic.

Top way to start the day!

Then we embarked on a cycling jaunt that may or may not have had a particular destination in mind…

Little Creatures brewery!

I don’t even drink beer, but this boutique aussie brewery is way too cool to pass up.

The whole trip from home to Fremantle and back is around 50kms! BAM. So proud of my pedal-pushin’ little thighs right now.

I’d love to say I rode side-saddle, gracefully gliding along on my vintage bicycle with poise and charm, like so:

The reality is a bit more grim.

Rocking the peace symbol, trying not to stack it.

CHEESE!! Audrey would be horrified.

The class doesn’t stop there. My riding ensemble featured a borrowed pair of cycling pants, complete with ultra butt-cushioning that made me feel like I was waddling around in an oversized adult nappy. My crotch was grateful 50kms later.

Mum and I sported Vibrams, of course. The five-fingered love of my life.

We stopped for some mid-morning refreshments and got up close and personal with a very inquisitive black swan.

You say cute, I say…

…KEEP AWAY FROM MY APPLE, BITCH!

This concludes todays presentation; have to start preparing for Ma’s birthday party which is TODAY! Happy Birthday to the raddest mother in the world <3

Have you had unexpectedly awesome, memorable days recently? Do share!

Status Report.

April 24, 2011 § 22 Comments

You know when you’re little and you break the family heirloom your great great grandmother squared made from toothpicks on her deathbed? My instincts were always to try and patch up the picasso-like pile of splinters as best I could, arrange my face into a bouquet of innocence, walk swiftly in the opposite direction and pretend it was all a bad dream.

Similarly, I am choosing today to skirt around the glaringly obvious issue of complete and utter blog absence over the past month. If I don’t apologise, there is no problem. Right?!

Unfortunately, I never filled you in on how the story ends. It ends with me running wildly back to the closest family member and, through impassioned snot and tears, regurgitating every detail of my guilt and offering an explanation so long said family member would have forgiven me by the time I came to my whimpering conclusion.

I’ll spare you the essay, but basically our internet modem broke and we’ve been chasing *unnamed service provider* ever since trying to arrange a replacement. When the net dies, my life takes a turn for the hermit. I’m actually blogging from the luxury of my mum’s internet right now (in Perth, waheyyy!!) but hopefully I’ll arrive home next week to a shiny new high speed modem. Vibrams crossed!

SO MUCH has happened in the past month or two. I’ve spent lunch breaks discussing buddhist philosophy, experimental nutrition and meditation with my eternally inspiring college buddies, evenings contemplating The Art of Happiness, and weeks riding a crazy raft of ch-ch-ch-chaaaange!

I’ll update you on the highlights whenever I have a spare 4 hours, but for now let’s embrace the present. Nothing like it!

I’m in the wonderful city of Perth, on the west-siiiiiiide. Dig it. I am so insanely grateful to have family here now and a subsequent excuse to invade at any given moment.

Mum and Andrew chewing up the catwalk, green bags in hand.

Speaking of grateful, mum and I were compiling a list of all the reasons we are insanely, monumentally lucky yesterday, after we had a huge whinge about various trivial, self-indulgent things that we later realised are, in essence, tripe. It’s a nice exercise to turn around a gloomy mood by listing all the reasons we are so incredibly happy and fortunate.

I’ll start :D

I’m pretty chuffed to have a functional face, limbs, spine, kidneys, liver, spleen. They all go pretty damn hard, and are fairly amazing if you ask me. 

I’m also stoked to be surrounded by fresh organic food and passionate foodies. The ability to rock up to a farmers market, survey the scene, paparazzi the produce and fondle the fruit makes me one happy kidney bean.

I may have violated the red onions, m’bad. THEY JUST LOOKED SO JUICY!

This also made me salivate. $5 bananas? Unheard of! Are you feeling me Aussie residents?!

I am thankful for an abundance of raw, organic garlic, which I have been crushing and chugging on a regular basis to keep me perky. And by perky, I obviously mean stinky like a bucket full of chunder. (Now THERE’S an under-utilized word. Chunder. Bring it back!)

Designer corn.

You know how I feel about sexy, leafy greens.

A pomegranate in its natural habitat. (Probably should explain that we were at a local market in Perth that has a kick-ass community garden with delicious fruity candies ripe for the picking).

Baby green-thumb.

A gorgeous man rocking out on the harpsichord.

Ma is thankful for double shot espresso. My adrenal glands are thankful that I never cultivated the habit.




Lucky to have delicious fresh ingredients on hand to whip up tantalising vegan fare. Quinoa, kidney-bean, veggie, seaweed and tomato stew? I think so.

So extraordinarily lucky to have been taken on my yearly shopping outing with mum today. Material possessions in no way support happiness, but they can sure as heck make you smile! Especially when you score an amazing Lululemon hoodie complete with ruffles and thumb holes. I think I’ve written with zest before about my love affair with Lululemon, not only for their quirky, flattering sportswear, but also because their entire business philosophy is aimed at supporting the goals and aspirations of their staff, and treating their clientele with unheard-of courtesy and warmth. It’s love :)

Other things making the thankful list included:

  • Having a kick-ass family who love and support me through thick and thin, and veganism :)
  • First-world living standards.
  • Freedom (of speech, sexuality, career, education… to be a ranga sans persecution!)
  • Vibrams.
  • Dates (both the dried fruit, and the sexy dinnertime variety).
  • Comprehension, cognitive function.
  • Heston Blumenthal.
Quite a comprehensive list, in my opinion. What are you thankful for on this glorious holiday?
Profuse and heartfelt apologies for the absence. Hope to spice up the old blog soon!

Your guide to the sugary axis of evil.

March 11, 2011 § 19 Comments

Well hello there!

Hope you’re enjoying this magnificent Friday! It’s my one day off from both college & work, so I am smushing as much as humanly possible into the waking hours. It’s glorious to have a whole day to fawn over food, stare at the sea and open random chapters in my nutrition textbook that look vaguely interesting. Not exactly efficient study, but the book and my eyes are simultaneously open so that’s a win, right?

You know what else fat-ass nutrition books are good for?

Strength training!

I am officially too cheap to fork out my spare change for a gym visit, so I’ve taken to creative strength-training in the comfort of my lounge room! Nothing will ever replace a gym sesh, and I dearly miss sweating, grimacing and grunting in front of an audience of buffcore dudes… However textbook squats, armchair leg-curls (releasing & retracting the recliner foot-rest) and early morning sit-ups (hauling ass out of bed) are meeting my extensive body-building needs nicely.

Moving on from my rippling biceps, I thought i’d stun two birds with one stone (no animals were killed in the making of this cliché) and write a post on sugars and artificial sweeteners that may also help me cement it in my tiny walnut brain!

Y’all already know my opinion on artificial anything. If it’s powdered, processed or packaged, it probably won’t vibe with your insides. Your body doesn’t recognise number 950 or colour 245 or white powdery flour, so it will either react, store it in some unpleasant way or alter its physiological function to cope.

Real food

Often, artificial sweeteners cause the body to respond in ways that oppose our original intention. You may buy a diet soda with zero sugar to save on calories, but because your body is receiving a substance without an energy pay-off you may end up eating more later to ‘compensate’. Not to mention many artificial sweeteners have a questionable safety status. If something is a potential neurotoxin and causes rats to grow ears on their toes, I sure as hell don’t want anything to do with it. No thank you, huge-junk-food-corporations-who-are-funding-their-own-scientific-studies. No. Thank. You.

Axis of evil board of directors:

  • Aspartame (number 951)

Aspartame is made through the combination of two amino acids, Phenylalanine and Aspartic acid, with methanol. It is commonly used to sweeten drinks, desserts, chewing gum, cookies and bakery goods. Nutra-Sweet and Equal are brand names for Aspartame. It has around 4kcal/g which is the same as sucrose, however it is 180-200 sweeter and thus less needs to be used. From the website of Dr. Mercola, “Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death.” Mmmmm tasty. People with PKU (a genetic disorder in which individuals cannot metabolise Phenylalanine) must also avoid this sweetener, and the rest of us would be wise to as well. Studies have linked it’s consumption even at ‘safe intakes’ to an increase in incidence in lymphomas and leukaemias in rats, not to mention the fact that when combined in the small intestine with the enzyme chymotrypsin, methanol is released and breaks down into formaldehyde (that’s a neurotoxin FYI!). I could go on, but I think you’re getting the idea.

More real food!

  • Acesulphame-K (number 950)

Also known as Sweet ‘n Safe (how benign) and is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar. It is usually combined with Aspartame to give a more palatable flavour and contributes no calories as it is not digested by the body. It the U.S, it is approved for use in yoghurts, chewing gums, gelatins, drink mixers, puddings, baked goods, candy, lozengers etc. Concerns have been raised about it’s status as a possible carcinogen (linked with lung and breast cancer especially) and negative effects on cholesterol levels. This was a nice little tid-bit of information I found; “To add to the supposed Acesulfame potassium dangers, its manufacture consists of several substances and one of them is Methylene chloride. This very agent is employed in industries as paint stripper and as a de-greaser or propellant agent.” Doesn’t that just make you want to throw back a cold diet bevvo?

  • Cyclamate (number 952)

It is 30-50 times sweeter than sugar, but is often used synergistically with other sweeteners for a more appealing flavour. Regularly used in cordials and soft-drinks, it is currently banned for use in the US (but 55 other countries still approve it as an additive). Studies linked it’s consumption to increased risk of bladder cancer in rats, however an appeal has been lodged by manufacturers to lift the ban as they have been unable to reproduce the negative effects in subsequent trials. Funny that.

My kinda schweet

  • Saccharin (number 954)

Saccharin, also known as Sweet and Low, is the oldest alternative sweetener and is approximately 300 times sweeter than sucrose. It is made from crude oil (are you drooling?) and has similar properties and effects to Cyclamate (which is banned, remember?). Studies have also linked it to an increased risk of bladder cancer, yet they were later labeled ‘weak’ and ‘inconclusive’. Inconclusive does not buy my trust, paid-off pseudo-scientists! It is generally used as a table-top sweetener as is becomes bitter through heating.

  • Sucralose (number 955)

Sucralose is what we know as Splenda, and is over 600 times sweeter than sucrose! You’ll find it in all the usual suspects; drinks, chewing gum, jams, frozen dairy desserts, sauces and syrups. It is at least based upon a recognisable substance (sugar which has been chlorinated) however it has possible implications for the thymus and many believe it has not been adequately researched as it is seen as more ‘natural’. I found this about it’s absorption in the body; “The absorbed sucralose has been found to concentrate in the liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. According to The Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, sucralose is broken down “into small amounts of 1,6-dichlorofructose, a chemical which has not been adequately tested in humans.” A big fat hmmmmm.


I’m going to leave it at that today, as these are the main baddies in that big mouth-puckeringly sweet charade. That, and my font has gone bananas and I can’t fix it. Yikes.

I’d be interested to hear how many people knew about these sweeteners and their implications, as I sure as hell didn’t realise the extent of their collective eeeevil before studying it in nutrition.

Au revoir for now!

Single serve vegan cookie and crystal deodorant.

February 11, 2011 § 9 Comments

Greetings!

After one thousand hours of torturous babysitting today in which I grossly abused both the naughty corner and the hypnotizing effect of the Wiggles, I was glad of two things:

1) Having a delicious vegan cookie to come home to,

and

2) That I had applied my new crystal deodorant this morning.

Now I don’t expect you to be salivating at the combined prospects of baked goods and armpits, but i’ll spare you the overlap and separate the two!

Single-serve vegan cookie

I’ve always been particularly hesitant to bake batches of biscuits due to my wanton disregard for moderation and self-control. That is, I will eat those bad boys hot from the oven one at a time until the entire lot has been sent to that great cookie cloud in the sky.

I also suspect that other bakers struggle with this fiendish tendency, so was completely hooked on the idea of doling out individually portioned treats à la Chocolate Covered Katie. Genius, that girl.

This recipe will be ready in a flash, and tastes like a chewy Anzac cookie! Bonus points for being vegan and containing more healthful sweeteners.

Adapted from CCK’s Single-Lady Cookie

4 rounded t spelt flour

1/16th t baking powder (or 236 microscopic granules to be precise)

1/16th t celtic sea salt

2 t extra-virgin coconut oil

1/4th t vanilla extract

1 T natural shredded coconut

2 t coconut sugar (brown sugar would probably also work)

1 generous tsp pepitas

1 T rice milk (or other milk substitute)

Combine ingredients, shape into a ball on a sheet of baking paper, press down to desired thickness & place in a pre-heated oven at around 180 degrees for ~8 mins. Allow to cool, and marvel at the convenience!

Moving on to part two of today’s post:

Crystal Deodorant

As you probably know, I try to subscribe to the rule ‘if you wouldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin!’. There are a shocking amount of chemicals and toxins in hair, beauty, skin and household products and while you may not consciously consider the consequences of these repeated exposures, it is sobering to think that most of what touches our skin travels straight into our bodies.

With that in mind, I’ve attempted to greenify and deem ‘safe’ those products I use on my body daily, deodorant being no exception.

I’ve used many natural deodorants in the past with varying degree’s of success. Most seem to retain their effectiveness for a month or so, before somehow merging with my armpit goo and… ok, the just stop working so well alright?! I also must warn you that they are not anti-perspirants. That’s the catch. But how natural is it to plug up your sweat glands with metallic compounds anyway? Embrace the floooooooow.

This leads me to my newest discovery, Crystal Deodorant.

I’ve looked at it quizzically in the health store for some time now, wondering how a big stick of solid glass-like matter could possibly prevent any pit stench? And also claim to last for a year? And only need to be applied once in the morning? Perplexing.

I took on the extremely whimsical armpit crystal from Grant’s (who also make pretty rad natural toothpaste that doesn’t taste like bi-carb soda/burning) and found that, miraculously, it worked! Apparently once you moisten the crystal and rub it on your skin, an extremely thin layer of mineral salt adheres and prevents the growth of bacteria that causes your underarms to smell.

Although it feels like you are just rubbing a rock under your arm with no discernible effect, I have gone each day without needing to re-apply or mask any funky aromas. It’s also the height of summer, and at times the height of small-child-induced stress! :D

Grant’s deodorant claims to be made from natural mineral salts, without the presence of aluminium, however in the process of researching this post my internal jury is still out on whether crystal deodorants in general are a safer alternative. Many use ‘potassium alum’ which is described as a naturally occurring form of aluminium, however I hesitate to advise you on whether this is acceptable (in keeping with our above mantra of keeping things edible) or not.

I would welcome advice from anyone who knows the details of whether ‘mineral salts’ are ok to apply?

(I at least suggest you check the labels of any crystal deodorant before you buy, as they are not all created equal.)

That being said it’s extremely effective for me, and thought you may be interested to hear the results or such an odd-looking item of personal care!

Have you struggled to find effective ‘natural’ body-care solutions? Ever tried crystal deodorant?

 

Ortho-what?

December 21, 2010 § 14 Comments

Orthorexia. Have you heard of it?

It’s a term coined by Steven Bratman, an alternative medicine physician who decided to put a label on the un-healthy obsession with healthy eating. Despite sounding quite oxymoronic – can excessive health really be unhealthy? – I thought it was fitting to talk about in a community of healthy living bloggers in the lead up to perhaps the most notoriously indulgent time of the year.

Here is a quote from Bratman’s original article, found here.

“Many of the most unbalanced people I have ever met are those who have devoted themselves to healthy eating. In fact, I believe some of them have actually contracted a novel eating disorder for which I have coined the name “orthorexia nervosa.” The term uses “ortho,” meaning straight, correct, and true, to modify “anorexia nervosa.” Orthorexia nervosa refers to a pathological fixation on eating proper food.

Orthorexia begins, innocently enough, as a desire to overcome chronic illness or to improve general health. But because it requires considerable willpower to adopt a diet that differs radically from the food habits of childhood and the surrounding culture, few accomplish the change gracefully. Most must resort to an iron self-discipline bolstered by a hefty dose of superiority over those who eat junk food. Over time, what to eat, how much, and the consequences of dietary indiscretion come to occupy a greater and greater proportion of the orthorexic’s day.”

Unfortunately, this sounds all too familiar, I won’t lie.

Are you giving yourself the gift of health this Christmas? Or are you paralysed by obsession?

An unfortunate side-effect of spending countless hours researching nutrition, is a shift in the balance away from eating to live, and instead fixating on the notion of living to eat. I myself am guilty of this black and white, good and bad mentality when it comes to food, sparked by my increasing interest in the benefits of a clean diet, veganism and especially raw foodism. Especially since undertaking my raw food experiment last month, I feel I have become altogether too consumed by eating ‘properly’ and more prone to extremes and excess in my diet. With my birthday just passed, and Christmas around the corner, I find myself falling harder if I happen to eat unplanned food, or that which doesn’t fit in to the healthy-eating ideal.

Why am I telling you this? Because I suspect it is a problem for many people out there, and can go unnoticed until it becomes seriously unhealthy and debilitating.

If we are eating for vitality and longevity, I believe the secret is not in the minutiae of what we ingest, or the perfection of our eating plan, rather it is a combination of all aspects of our daily practice – overcoming stress and expressing happiness and gratitude topping that list.

Mealtimes can be a struggle for people with orthorexia.

In fact, in the much-quoted Deepak Chopra book ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’, he delves in to the commonalities between centenarians – those living to 100 and beyond, with surprising results. Did these men and women live lives characterised by strict rules and penitence for culinary wrongdoings? No. Actually, the common link was moderation. These people reported that they ate neither to excess or restriction, enjoyed all food groups moderately, engaged in regular exercise and generally lived average, happy lives.

I personally think that our quality of life rests more on a foundation of mental stability and spiritual contentment than it does on the finer details of our diet. That is not to say I am suddenly dismissing the benefits of clean, unprocessed food. Ohhhh ho ho ho no. I am merely exploring the possibility that allowing yourself a little more grace, as Kate over at Green and Juicy recently put it may be key to living a happier, healthier life.

I admire those people such as my Nan, a fine specimen of youthful vigour at 80+, who embody this philosophy; confident in their choices at all times, allowing themselves dessert and balancing it with an easily maintainable, healthy dietary standard.

Achieving this peaceful balance may seem simple, yet I know I struggle to embrace the spirit of moderation.

I thought it may be helpful to list some personal motivations for healthy living, with strategies for implementing more balanced behaviour:

  • I want to eat my ideal diet (free from most animal products, processed foods and chemicals) because it prevents chronic illness, promotes vitality and FEEELS AMAZING!
  • Eating consciously and taking time to examine the sources of my food helps support local farmers, enhances it’s energy and nutritional value and promotes compassion towards other living things.
  • Superfoods help me achieve new goals in health & fitness and meet my daily requirements for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They kick the asses of free-radicals and give me that warm, beta-carotene glow.
  • I want to enjoy food made with time and care – if that means eating a large portion of my Grandma’s sponge cake, so be it.
  • I want to set an example for others – healthy food is delicious, satisfying and exciting.
  • I also want to make sure that I allow myself to eat what it is I truly crave – eating smaller amounts of foods shunned by health extremists, more frequently, is better than out-of-control gorging on cookies because I’ve become overly restrictive. Similarly, I don’t want to eat junk ‘just because’ – most of the time I would infinitely prefer one of my own vegan concoctions. Force of habit?
  • Lastly, I don’t want what I eat to rule my life. Having a food blog may be an issue in this case, but I am determined to focus on balance, not perfection. Being a perfectionist may also be an issue in this case :P.

Personal posts are always hard to publish, and I hope that by being open about my own crazy foibles, I can help people understand that there is no ‘perfect’ way to eat or live; there is merely a constant evolution of our principles and motivations on the road to achieving balance and contentment.

Oh, and because it lacked some, please find attached <humour>. :D

What are your thoughts? Do you think food bloggers and healthy-living enthusiasts are in danger of suffering from orthorexia? What are your motivations and strategies for living a healthy, balanced life?

Hunger pangs.

December 20, 2010 § 4 Comments

Hi loverrrs!

Welcome to Christmas week. Who’s excited!? Just today i’ve been scheming up sneakily healthy and supremely tasty Christmas day recipes to catch people unawares.

‘Mmmmmm Katey, this is SO GOOD, what is it?!’

‘THAT is a RAW VEGAN dessert made with no sugar, gluten or dairy, with added Spirulina.’

‘…What’s Spirulina?’

‘Oh, y’know, just a type of ALGAE with amazing and abundant super food health properties.’

*gulp*

Congratulate yourself for popping your friend/parental/distant, senile relative’s super-charged sea vegetable cherry.

*************************************

In other news, I am continually ravenous.

Not because I no longer have enough money to feed myself after the photography splurge (although that will probably become an issue once I return to Sydney to fend for myself).

Not because my metabolism has suddenly gone into overdrive (although that could be handy on Christmas day. Increased speed + efficiency of digestion = more scope for x-mas feasting).

Namely, because I am spending far too long doing this.

They say you should guzzle a smoothie within the first few minutes to reap the benefits of the freshly pulverized ingredients before they oxidize. My smoothies hang around so long, i’m certain I end up spooning nutritionally empty mush into my mouth, 20 minutes later. All my meals have had to be adjusted to compensate for this self-imposed time difference. Katey plates up 30 minutes before the family in order to do her kooky photography thang.

This breakfast smoothie was merely to tide me over while I took photos of the mung bean sprouts I’ve grown over the last few days (see below) but I ended up subjecting it to it’s own shoot, and slurping it whilst perusing iPhoto, and surfing the net. Mindful eating – I think not.

It was seriously yummy though:

2 small frozen bananas

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

massif handful of baby spinach

2 heaped tsp Spirulina

hazelnut & rice milk

Blend blend blend for a smooth, creamy and dreamy breakfast delight.

***********************************************

I also promised SPROUTS. And sprouts ye shalt receive!

As you know, I’m a complete chicken when it comes to preparing things that have more than a few, easily comprehensible steps. Things i’ve never attempted before, and the cultivation of ‘living’ foods (such as sprouts and Kefir) also fall under the umbrella of daunting kitchen processes that I put off for a rainy day.

In the spirit of the challenge (and because my mum has superior resources such as pretty mason jars and cheesecloth) I decided to sprout me some mung beans that I picked up at the farmers market.

Like most things, it wasn’t nearly as hard or labour intensive as I imagined. I followed my gut (always a dependable option) and found myself with gorgeous living sprouts two days later!

 

Steps:

Get your hands on some organic dried mung beans (would work with other beans/legumes too I assume).

Measure out half a cup of the beans and rinse thoroughly, picking out any stones or debris.

Pour into a glass jar, and cover with a decent amount of water. No measurements here, just remember the beans will expand to about double their original size.

Let soak overnight (8-12 hours).

In the morning, strain and rinse beans and place back in jar, laying it on it’s side and covering the opening loosely with some cloth or paper towel.

Rinse your little babies every 8 hours or so, and watch them start to shoot! (N.B They are not sitting in water anymore, just moistened from the rinsing).

After 2 days, this is what I awoke to.

I plan to throw them on salads, try out some new raw recipes, and enjoy eating food that is literally still living and growing.

I’ll pop them in the fridge soon to stop them sprouting, and apparently they can keep for a week or two.

What have you made in the kitchen lately that has challenged you?

Catch you soon! xx

Finding dietary balance.

November 25, 2010 § 14 Comments

Well well well, look who came crawling back to blog-land. Apologies for the cliffhanger re. raw status. Is she? Isn’t she? Did she die when she tried unsuccessfully to hook chlorophyll to her veins?

All possible theories. But alas, I’m breaking the news to you that I ended my 100% raw experiment after 10 days. Not because I felt like crap, or it was all too hard…but I just really, really, REALLY wanted a cookie.

I was extremely surprised during the whole raw experience that I didn’t have any overt cooked-food cravings or moments of yelling obscenities at my flatmates as they fried up some tortuously aromatic dinnertime treat. That was, until the night of day 9, where I began to contemplate the delights of a tray full of vegan brownies, or a crispy batch of peanut butter & flaxseed cookies. The drool could not be stemmed. My raging sweet tooth demanded satisfaction.

I never originally set a time-frame for the raw trial, but by day 10 there was no denying that I felt fantastic eating this way, and more at peace with my diet than ever. (Yes, yes, minus the cookie conundrum).

I didn’t think it was necessary to deprive myself of something I really wanted, so allowed myself to go to the organic store and pick out some vegan cookies to break the raw stint. (I’d usually bake some myself, but to be honest the emerging cheapskate within deemed it more practical to buy them pre-made. Infinitely more cost effective.)

The cookies were pretty disappointing, and tasted chalky and boring. I ate them anyway, because, as I had now realised, this was evolving into some kind of post-raw cooked-food bender. I’d read about raw foodists and their propensity to binge on ‘forbidden’ foods every so often, and I couldn’t believe I was participating in this crazy behaviour!

I had hummus & crackers, more cookies & a bowl of savoury oats for good measure. The rest of the day does not need to be discussed…

Truthfully, the cooked food tasted bland and strangely unsatisfying, but it was clear to me that any kind of restrictive diet, be it 100% raw or otherwise, could potentially lead to these kind of ‘episodes’ after unconsciously excluding certain foods. I think my subconscious resents any kind of strict, limiting, force and acts to restore the balance by way of a crazy, illogical food rampage. So despite feeling better than ever, and fairly content with the offerings of the 80/10/10 raw food diet, I acknowledged that something needed to shift if I was going to be successful in the long-term. A balanced diet is not characterised by random lapses into mindless munching; I felt I needed to eeeeease on up.

Needless to say, the food made me feel terrible; it was like a reverse detox  if that can possibly be imagined (no, not a reverse enema. Minds out of the gutter please).

It convinced me more than ever, that dogma and restrictive rules have no place in a balanced diet; in fact, they are in direct opposition to everything I am learning about living moderately and happily. This fact alone turns me off following in the footsteps of extremely rigid raw-foodists who, it seems, place more value on the temperature of their food than it’s health-giving properties. This is particularly evident to me in the gourmet-raw movement where (as Frederic Patenaude points out) often things that are extremely dense and hard for the body to assimilate such as nut-based dishes, are given preference over foods such as steamed veggies, that would in fact be a more healthful option, despite not being ‘raw’.

In the same vein, I hope all of you had a chance to read the amazing post by Tasha (formerly the Voracious Vegan) over the weekend, explaining in true compelling and tear-jerking form the reasons behind her move away from a strict vegan diet. I was astonished and saddened to hear that such a decision, one so personal and physically necessary could inspire an outpouring of condemnation from the vegan community. Of course, she has a swathe of loyal followers, yet some individuals still felt justified in accusing her of dietary blasphemy, asserting that it is better to be sick and lifeless than eat an omnivorous diet. Once again, dogma becomes the foe of happiness & balance, and we find our eating habits are more political than healthful.

A diet has to work for you. If a certain eating plan is not furnishing your body with adequate nutrition, or leaving you feeling dull and lifeless, you should change it, irregardless of what others deem to be nutritionally ideal.

/Rant.

In saying this, you all know how much I loved the raw experiment & that is why the next day I awoke with the knowledge I would continue to eat mostly raw, with cooked food (& COOKIES) included when I wanted them. I also see no reason to avoid little things that are raw-biguous (ie. kinda cooked, kinda not – don’t know, don’t care) because why get caught up in the minutiae when there is so much FOOD LOVIN’ to be had?!

It sounds strange, but I actually felt quite depressed after going back to cooked food – I think there is a definite difference in energy, and obviously in the metabolism of heated vs. uncooked that made me feel sort of flat.

The past few days i’ve been slurping avocado thick-shakes, gobbling fresh mangoes…

…raw-ifying Bill Grainger recipes (oh. holy. jeebus)…

…munching seaweed salads with kale, sesame oil and chili…

…and of course, more smoothies in abundance.

I love all this vibrant, shimmering, pulsating fruit & veggie love, and as a few awesome commenters have suggested, i’m also incorporating some more fats in my diet and not being so worried about the ratios and whatnot. Basically, i it feels good, I’m going at it face-first.

Speaking of faces, I also wanted to do a quick shout-out to an Australian make-up company called Minerelle that has come up with the beautifying goods. Never have I purchased such an effective total-head-concealer mineral make-up. I’ve been searching for an aussie brand, vegan-friendly and with a short, non-threatening ingredient list. Minerelle fits the bill. If you go to their site, you can have free samples shipped to you (just paying postage of $5) and once I ordered the powder foundation itself, it arrived within a couple of days. For an impatient, demanding, needy consumer this was most welcome. The ingredients are not PERFECT, but it seems i’m all about compromise today, and thus am filing it under ‘balance and moderation’.

My improved head. Au naturale non?

Ha! This post is raging. I am so painfully verbose; I suck at succinct.

Oh and Kirsten, your pleas for smoothie recipes will be answered in the next post my dear. Stay tuned!

xx

Low fat is HARD! Raw days 8 & 9.

November 19, 2010 § 9 Comments

Hello friends!

Here we are at day 9 raw. Who’d a thunk it? I’m continuing to love this experiment, and am convinced my diet can never incorporate the amount of cooked food as I ate pre-trial. That being said, I suspect I will need to wiiiiiiiise up on all things diverse and creative in the recipe department  to ensure I can keep eating high raw and not feel uninspired or bored by my food choices. I also have yet to come up against any painfully awkward social outings or family gatherings (where I know they will suspect I have officially crossed over to the land of tree fondlers and rampant nudists)…explaining my kooky dietary ways may get messy!

The only thing I am having trouble adhering to is the low-fat rule of the 80/10/10 school – in which no more than 10% calories from fat is regarded as optimal. Many raw foodists look to pounds of nuts and avocado to fulfill their daily calorie needs, however an excess of fat is considered by the low-fat-raw-vegans as detrimental to health. I wanted to try to abide by this as best I could because the nutritional defects of overt fat consumption are compelling, but i’m finding it VERY difficult to consume enough fruit & veg to satisfy my monstrous needs… and also my wallet is on strike.

What to do? Should I incorporate sprouted psuedo-grains? Throw caution to the wind and just embrace a few more nuts? Or keep embarrassing myself at the store by returning for abnormal amounts of bananas every second day? Tis a dilemma, to be sure.

Yesterday, I experimented with raw pesto-pasta to satisfy a bit of a salt craving.

I blended sunflower seeds, fresh basil, olive-oil, savoury yeast & raw garlic to produce a fairly respectable vegan pesto replica. Served over spiralized zucchini, spinach and fresh tomato, it was quite a nice departure from the simplicity of a salad,  or mono-meal of oranges.

I didn’t feel very well after eating it though; my stomach was quite heavy and I felt it was overly rich. I immediately wanted fruit.

Later, I satisfied my desire for fresh, lighter flavours with a berry & avocado pudding, with a small amount of raw honey and loaded with spinach. Hit the spot.

I found myself wishing later in the evening that I could bake a batch of cookies, or eat a big bowl of brown rice & beans which suggests to me I still need to eat more…and have been reading too many food blogs. But I will definitely be incorporating these things back into the 10% cooked of my planned 90% raw diet post-experiment.

Other things of interest include:

  • Skin is still clear & soft
  • Nails are really white & strong
  • Mental clarity is pretty good (for a certified scatterbrain); I find i’m pondering more than usual &  become extremely excited about the future for no apparent reason (apart from the fact that it’s going to ROCK!)
  • I actually weighed myself at a friends house yesterday (a rarity) and have lost about 1 kilo. I didn’t really have any goals in that department, but was feeling a lot lighter & less jiggly so was interested to see the results. No complaints.

Today for lunch I had a decadent three course-meal consisting of the following:

Seaweed salad…

Banana, carob and spinach green smoothie…

Giganto salad with kale, carrot, zucchini, beetroot, coriander and orange.

I am exceptionally talented at squeezing obscene amounts of food into one small fist-sized stomach sac.

That’s it for another riveting recap! Hope you all have good things in store for the weekend! Me? I’m working to fund my habit :)

The sounds of celery; Raw days 6 & 7.

November 17, 2010 § 11 Comments

Good god! Could it be that i’ve actually committed to something for longer than a nanosecond? This unprecedented foray into raw-dom is now one week old! I can’t believe it’s day 8 tomorrow!

You all know i’m a fickle lass; I like shiny things and constant stimulation. Even though I studied film, I still have to actively drive myself to the cinema to watch a movie, strapping myself to the seat and propping my eyes open with paperclips because I simply hate committing 1.5 hours of my life to the one pursuit. Especially whilst stationary.

In life, I’m much the same. Haircut more than a few months old? Some radical shit needs to go down to bring back the pizzaz. I don’t doubt that one day I will walk out with a number two, just for the thrill of messing irresponsibly with my head. I am also perusing facebook on my iPhone as I type this while groping for my avocado smoothie, listening to the radio and intermittently reading a few lines of Jane Austen. I am toying with the possibility I have ADHD.

The fact that I have not ducked out miserably, giving up and moving on from this raw food experiment, seems to suggest that something greater is at work – I feel extremely content with all that i’m fortunate enough to be grazing on throughout the day, and strangely enough have yet to experience the cooked food cravings that others lament. I know it’s still early days, but in all honesty I’m waiting for things to get hard.

I’m not sure if they will.

I have felt better and better the past few days; my stomach has finally come around, my skin is yet to erupt (touch sustainably-harvested wood) and my energy levels have been fantastic (especially when exercising!). I have also had a few flashes of intense happiness, and general feelings of well-being and peacefulness. On the flip side, there have been some small outbursts and unusual melancholy, but it’s normally if I don’t get enough sleep, or if people drive at 40km/hr in front of me when I’m epically late to college due to cleaning the blender for the 5th time that day. Apart from nanna-drivers (bless their blue-rinsed souls!) everything is positively peachey!

After my last post about feeling a little same-same with all my eats, I decided to make something exciting for dinner on Monday – giant salad with spiralized veggies & mango, tomato and coriander dressing.

I simply shredded some kale, topped with spiralized zucchini & carrot, diced capsicum and raw cashew nuts, with a dressing made by blending half a mango with around 5-8 cherry tomatoes and a handful of coriander. It tasted a little asian-ey, and a lot awesome!

After seeing my flatmate’s dark chocolate in the fridge, I then had a brainwave to create my own raw dessert. This is breaking the ‘rules’ somewhat (the raw hygienists say that we should not eat bitter things like cacao because we wouldn’t in the wild, and plus there’s toxins in it, blah blah blah dogma blah) but I eat rules for brunch. I say, raw homemade chocolate once in a while is a bah-rilliant idea! Perhaps the best I’ve ever had.

I took the above orange zest (about 1tsp) and some chopped raw almonds…

Combined with a few tbsp raw cacao powder, a big slurrrrp of raw honey and some room temperature coconut oil…

…spread on a baking sheet, and froze for as long as my willpower could sustain me.

I’d love to tell you that I savoured this bar for days, exercising restraint and dignity in my consumption. I’d also love to tell you that I slept soundly that night, and didn’t wake 5 times with my heart doing zumba, high on all that gosh darn mayan magic. I can tell you truthfully that it did taste like Lindt orange and almond decadence, and that my flatmate promptly employed me as her personal chocolatier, à la Juliette Binoche in Chocolat. Sexy French accents will cost you extra.

I’ve been over-zealous with smoothies…

…eating my body-weight in kale salads (with added orange…mmm)…

…and enjoying celery for the first time in my life, with fresh tomatoes and tahini.

Oh and what does celery sound like? I had a giggle yesterday when I was slicing a stick of it with my flatmates murderously sharp Global knife (which is now how I inadvertently keep my fingernails maintained…eeep!) and as I rhythmically chopped up the stalk, there was a distinct scale sequence of ascending notes! Who knew that dicing and slicing could prove so musical?! I am truly finding beauty, and a soulful beat, in the smallest things.

Have you ever conducted a veggie-symphony?

Over and out!

In the raw.

November 12, 2010 § 12 Comments

Why hello!

How is everyone? I’ve been off in my own dreamy little world of books, beach romps and study sesh’s. Oh, and i’m officially raw. For now.

Double take. WHAT?!

Let’s start a the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.

Basically, in a lazily brief summary, all this immersion in books such as Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, countless ebooks and websites concerning the raw food diet and even Born to Run, have contained a common thread that suggests returning to a simpler, more natural way of being that i’ve latched onto with the fire of one thousand red-heads.

In Born to Run, arguments spring forth that we are in fact, running people whose innate ability to pound out 100 mile marathons and scamper over boundless plains in pursuit of an animal target (while practically barefoot) leaves modern notions as to the dangers of jogging and the necessity for shiny new Nike’s with 10 layers of astonishingly expensive air underfoot, lacking. The last vestiges of this superhuman stamina manifest in the Tarahumara Indians, living in isolation in the treacherous Copper Mountains in Mexico. They eat a simple diet in accordance with the natural resources at their disposal (including Chia Seeds, thank you very much) and run, because it’s what they’ve always done.

Many of our modern woes, such as obesity, shin splints and knee reconstructions it is argued, actually stem from a) inactivity and b) crazy, cushiony joggers that cause us to run incorrectly when really, our natural barefoot method conditions us in the correct way. Yet another example that simple & natural is best.

Similarly, Deepak Chopra has unleashed in me a new found appreciation of thoughts, feelings, energies manifesting in the physical. Having positive intentions and visualizing what you want in life seems to align with much of what I already took to be true – going through life with a positive outlook & appreciating the lessons we experience daily, if we care to look, goes a long way towards happiness.

But what in the name of Buddha does this have to do with raw foods?

For one, I’m increasingly aware of the energy of things; it’s no secret that fresh young coconuts bring me so much happiness that I find myself talking, thinking and dreaming about them (incidentally, my desire for coconuts often manifests in bouquets of them arriving at my doorstep care of the man, and other visitors. Ask and ye shall receive my friends!).

I now know that the intense joy of cleaving open a juicy young nut may be due to more than just an unhealthy addiction. There is also an energy at work in these beautiful, fresh, organic foods.

Kirilian photography, as seen above, is a form of (controversial) imaging that claims to capture energy fields as emitted by animate objects. Likewise, photographs of water that has been bestowed with  ‘blessings’ show it taking beautiful, crystallized forms, influenced seemingly by the power of positive intention.

Regardless of whether this is altogether too heavy on the chakras and spoon-bending for you, there is no denying that energy is fundamental to all life – it animates us, and the things we eat. When I have the misfortune of going to a chain supermarket, I see mountains of packaged food, unnaturally shiny apples and a pronounced absence of living energy. These foods seem to be ‘dead’, and retain little or none of their former vitality. They have been chopped, waxed and polished into submission.

When I frolic around in my little organic fruit store of choice however, I see dirty, intact, and gloriously nuanced examples of real produce, recently picked and grown in happy, chemical-free surrounds.

Interestingly, that Healing with Wholefoods book that you’re probably dead sick of hearing about, points out the importance of preparing your food with care and with gratitude; if it is for a sick person, try to imbue the meal with positive thoughts and energy because food created and eaten with stress and negativity damages the whole vibe. Maaaaan.

This is one aspect of why I think it’s just grand to eat living foods (but not in a cruel way, I consult the veggies first to gain their consent :D)

So. Back to raw.

The lovely Kate kindly sent me an ebook on raw foods at the beginning of the week that I promptly devoured in a matter of hours. It is by a veritable guru of living foods named Frederic Patenaude and champions the 80/10/10 way of eating; that is, eating 80% calories from carbohydrates, 10% from protein and 10% from fat. Basically fruit/veg/some seeds and nuts.

Wowzer! You scared?! I’m sure as hell not.

The way this diet plays out is eating pounds of fruit and vegetables each day along with some seeds, whilst trying to limit dietary fat.

I can hear you yelling profanities at me already. My flatmate immediately verbalised multiple levels of distrust in the whole scheme.

Allow me to address them as best I can.

Firstly, please know that I am trialling this – I don’t know for how long. I’m a huge believer in forming an opinion based on experience, because I realise there are compelling justifications for any and every school of nutritional thought. This is why, besides all the astounding accounts i’ve read of the 80/10/10 diet, I’m aiming for practical application in my own life. It could be life-changing, it could be too hard, it could end in tears. Bring it.

On a practical level, let me make a few pro-low-fat-raw arguments.

As long as i’m getting adequate calories each day, I will reach my protein requirements with ease.

The recommended protein intake for an adult is around 10% from total calories, however many people on the SAD (standard American/Australian diet) consistently achieve an excess. Interestingly, the protein content of a mother’s milk is around 6%, 6% at the time of crucial growth and development of a child. Does this tell us something?

All fruits and vegetables contain protein, though a common misconception that resulted largely from the ‘incomplete protein theory’ by Frances Moore Lappe is that they are not optimal for humans. It suggested that because there are no complete sources of the essential amino acids in plants as there are in meat, we would need to combine them in certain ways for proper nutrition.  Frances herself later admitted that this theory was incorrect upon discovering that the body stores amino acids in such a way that we do not need to consume them ‘all-in-one-go’.

So frankly protein is the least of my worries.

You may also be worried by the ‘low-fat’ aspect of this approach. In no way have I ever sought to reduce dietary fat intake, and the word ‘skim’ makes me shudder. However after reading Frederic’s compelling explanation as to how detrimental high-fat vegan diets can be, and my own research that points to an overload of fat in the bloodstream making it harder for insulin to carry-out glucose reuptake by the cells (thus resulting in permanently elevated blood sugar levels), I feel quite confident in the 10% fat ideal. It also rings true with what my naturopath mentioned to me months ago about how she thinks my body struggles to metabolize too much fat.

Only when stopping to assess my ‘normal’ diet did I realise how much fat I was actually putting away. I was snacking on loads of Tahini, nuts, seeds…lard. I think this was also the cause of a lot of skin issues.

I’m also making sure to get ample calories. You cannot go successfully raw on 80/10/10 if you assume you can just keep eating your normal portions and replacing them with fruit and salad. I’ve tried this once before when I was a hopeless newbie and experienced the dizzy, fuzzy-headed emotional train-wreck that comes from a malnourished Katey. As supernanny says, it is no’ acceptable.

Would you like to know the magnitude of my eats to meet my energetic needs?

It goes something along the lines of, 300 bananas.

Maybe not that many, but seriously, a monkey-load of bananas. Amongst other delightful fruits, vegetables, seeds and avocado (but not TOO much).

Speaking of monkeys, another argument for the low-fat-raw-diet is the fact that our closest genetic counterparts; primates like chimpanzees and gorillas eat in a similar way, gorging on fruits, some veg and nuts when in season. And look at them! Beasts.

But what about variety you ask? To that I say, there is an abundance! When you begin to eat fruits and vegetables in their natural state, you cultivate an obscene enjoyment of their perfect, simple taste. They are SO DELICIOUS on their own; why meddle with that mother nature chick?

There is probably a ton more raw food propaganda that I could hurl at you, but for now, my tirade ends here.

Oh, here are some irrelevant pictures of my new ‘goals’ board for your viewing pleasure. Mock away! But I will get that camera garnsarnit.

This is also a failed smoothie-in-a-bowl I made the other day. It was so promisingly pretty but so totally puke-worthy. I though you might like to observe the grossness!

There you have it! I can’t believe I just shared this on the internet…so accountable right now. I’m hoping to give 100% raw a decent go, so I too can share that boundless energy and mental clarity which so many converts claim to experience. I want raw nirvana, pronto.

Here are some great links too, if you don’t feel sufficiently drained from the epic length of this post!

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