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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Raspberry Lemonade

Trying to keep cool during this crazy heat? Here's a lemonade idea to try!

half a lemon
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cup water

5 mint leaves
1 raspberry
1 toothpick 

1. Find your favourite glass. If the glass isn't big enough to fit a small whisk to crush up the raspberries, you can make the drink in a bowl and then transfer it over to your glass.

2. Squeeze half of a lemon into your glass or bowl. (You can hold your hand underneath to catch the seeds.) Add the water and the raspberries and crush them using a whisk. Stir well, add ice cubes if desired and add sugar or agave syrup if you would like yours sweetened.

3. For the garnish stack the mint leaves on top of each other and puncture them close to the stem with 1 toothpick. Then fan out the leaves so it almost looks like a flower, and gently pierce the raspberry on top. You can lean this garnish against the rim of the glass or you can also attach it to a lemon slice garnish that sits nicely on the rim of the glass.

 What beverages do you like during hot days?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Truth About My Raw Challenge

It's been a long and arduous seven day raw challenge. If you're reading this blog for the first time, I am vegan and went on a 90% raw challenge for a week. It is by far probably the most difficult quest I've taken in a while. I personally found that preparing raw meals is either a) very EASY and quick or b) a long process of soaking/dehydrating/prepping foods.

Perhaps you're wondering, why would anyone want to do this? I personally thrive on challenges, so initial boredom sparked the idea, combined by reading everyone's fabulous story of going raw. (from increased energy to weight loss) I monitored three things: mood, energy and weight.

The toughest day was day number one. Having drank coffee and tea the previous week, I had a small lingering headache the first day, and felt sort of odd, like I was hungry all the time. I soon realized that in the beginning, this feeling is absolutely normal. Although I was eating the same sized portions I always do, I realized this was a mistake, as it was not enough calories for my body. So for the most part, I found I could eat more while doing the raw challenge.

I expected my energy to be faint and weak. I felt like that for the first day, but for the rest of the time, I felt a natural bounce of energy...most of the time I had too much of it and didn't quite know what to do with it. To my friends' surprise who thought I was hopped up on coffee, I was still a bundle of energy in the late hours of the night, so I started relaxing a good half an hour before bed to actually fall asleep.

The last part of my monitoring was my weight. I lost about 3 pounds during the week and felt really good. Most days when I would weigh myself, I would be the same weight in the morning as in the evening, and prior to this, the fluctuation would be about 5 pounds. So hoozah for shedding a few pounds!

You may be wondering what I ate that was raw for 7 days and 7 nights, here's a list of examples:

-green salads
-tomato salad
-fruit salads
-raw almond milk
-lettuce wraps (I like to call them fresh wraps)
-zucchini/carrot noodles, thanks to my handy dandy Saladacco
-cucumber sandwiched with guacamole
-Thai fresh rolls
-dehydrated flax chips with avocado and tomato on top
-kale chips
-raw cashew coconut ice cream
-raw chocolate almond cake
-almond "feta" cheese
-kelp noodles with pesto sauce (for the whole bag of kelp noodles, it's only 18 calories...18!!!)
-beet rawvioli (variation of this recipe)

...and yes, I slipped and had a cooked meal once, but that's besides the point.

What else did I learn from taking on the raw challenge? I realized I overeat at most of my meals...I think it's due to carbs and some processed goodies which trick my body into thinking I am receiving food full of nutrients, when in fact, I am not. Thus said, I am going to increase my intake of raw foods to about 50%. For example, if I will have "insert delicious cooked food here", I will make sure 50% of the plate is raw, like salad.

I also realized that if I want to keep up being fit, there will be no more excessive chips and cookies and coffee much to my chagrin (except for the occasional one of course) because most of the time it's too much fat and calories with not enough nutritional value. I had cut junk food out long time ago, but it sneaked its way back into my diet, it has the tendency to do that, y'know? Sneaky hobbitses..

Lesson #3, no more eating late at night, ideally no eating after 7-8 pm. For some people, this may be second nature, but for myself and my odd schedule most of the year, this will probably be quite difficult. Alas, unless I'm going to mad exercise for hours after eating late at night, some of that food may just become stored on my body, and I don't want that.

Last but not least, incorporating daily exercise is something that I will continually strive for. Ideally 30 min to 2 hours, but sometimes, I will just have to charm time into my lap, as time is pinched in busy schedules. But exercise is something I have to make time for, for my health and continuing to enjoy life as I get older.

A big thank you goes out to one of my best friends who did the challenge with me, you rock buddy!

What do you think of a raw challenge or vegan raw foodism in general? Leave a comment below!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Raw Day 1

The first day of the raw challenge went pretty well. For those interested in what the hell I ate for the day, here's what I had: a fruit smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch (with fresh lettuce from the garden might I add) and kelp noodles (only 18 calories for the ENTIRE package) with sweet asian almond sauce and fresh kale for dinner.

I felt like I had a lot of energy the whole day, although I had a tiny headache that lingered throughout the day, due to the lack of coffee, methinks. Since I had an extra long day at work, I felt mentally exhausted, but my body was surprisingly energetic. As for the weight, I weighed the same in the evening as I did in the morning, which NEVER happens. By the end of the night, I always end up weighing 4-5 pounds more due to the food and what I drink throughout the day.

Not knowing what to do with all the energy I had, I decided to test out my dehydrator that I received for my birthday a while ago. I made flax crackers and kale chips. 

Raw Flax Crackers Recipe  


1 1/2 cups flaxseed
3 cups water
3 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos

1. Add flax seeds and the water in a large bowl and let sit for an hour too. The mixture then becomes a gelatinous goo (sounds gross, I know), to which you can add some Braggs Amino Soy Sauce. I didn't add any spices because I was feeling simple at the time, but you sure can!

2. Line the dehydrator trays with brown parchment paper, and spread an even layer about 1/8 inch thick across the dehydrator sheet. 

3. Dry for 8-12 hours at 110 Farenheit.

 What do with your raw flaxseed crackers? One way I found them delicious is with a slice of avocado on top, a few fresh lemon juice drops, a pinch of chilli powder, with a thin slice of tomato sprinkled with salt and pepper. 

Have you ever tried raw flaxseed crackers before? What did you think? Share your thoughts below! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How to Make Vegan Minestrone Soup

I've been rather sick the past couple of days with a summer cold. Since this is my last day before my raw challenge starts tomorrow, I figured I'd treat myself to one last supper kind of thing.

That being said, I am making minestrone soup for lunch today. It's a thick hearty Italian soup, full of vegetables and kidney beans. It's stewing on the stove right now and although I can't smell anything because I'm still sick, it looks absolutely scrummy!

You might wonder why the hell the recipe has rice in it, but no pasta. Like a lot of people I know, I have always had minestrone soup with pasta...but when I asked one of my best friends who is Italian, she said the authentic recipe usually uses rice. After reading a bit online about minestrone soup and the history of it, it seems that different regions in Italy use different ingredients for minestrone. Although the base is the same, some use pasta, some use rice, and some use more vegetables, while others add meat or bones to flavour the soup.

Now, I've never lived in Italy, so I can't claim this recipe is truly authentic Italian, but I can say that this recipe is totally delicious! (even my mother agrees, and she usually prefers meat in most of her dishes)

 If you feel like making yourself some minestrone soup, here's the recipe!

1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
5 tomatoes, diced or blended
1 veggie cube (I use Go BIO!)
2 cups of water
3 tablespoons of rice
1/2 can of kidney beans (28 oz can)
1/2 teaspoon of basil
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1/2 teaspoon of sage
1/2 teaspoon of savory
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
2 tablespoons of olive oil
shake of freshly cracked black pepper

1.Find a deep pot that is also non-stick, add the olive oil and heat it to about medium heat. Sautee the onions and garlic with the black pepper, and quickly add the carrot and celery.

2. Add 2 cups of water with the veggie cube and also add in the blended tomatoes. Add the kidney beans and rice and let the soup simmer on low-medium heat for 15 minutes but keeping an eye on it so you don't overcook the vegetables.

3.  Add in all the spices and let soup cook for another few minutes. Remove from the stove and serve hot or warm. The reason I say add in the spices towards the end is because if you add them in the beginning of cooking, they tend to lose their flavour and distinct aroma.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Raw Vegan 7 Day Challenge

I may or may not have hinted at the fact that I have been preparing for my raw, vegan 7 day challenge with one of my best friends. In my preparation of going 90% raw for 7 days, I've gotten reacquainted with salad, smoothies, and met a couple of new and raw dishes such as: zucchini rawsta, raw buddha bowl, fresh wrap, vanilla cheesecake, raw almond milk and chocolate raspberry cake. I've increased my raw intake of veggies and fruits to about 50% of every meal I have and have tried to stay away from over-eating nuts and dried fruit (I read from others' experiences that when they snacked on nuts and dried fruit, they still felt hungry, kept eating and thus gained extra weight)

I've also identified 3 things I want to monitor during raw week: energy levels, weight and overall mood. Although 7 days is a quite short time to see the long term benefits of going raw, it's an idea that I personally have to take one step at a time. I've also done some research about what is raw or not according to other raw foodists, nutritionists, etc. and here is a list I came up with:

Raw Maybe Not Raw
Fresh Fruits Nutritional Yeast Frozen veggies
Fresh Veggies Unfiltered cold pressed organic olive oil Anything canned
Sprouted Grains/Legumes Braggs amino soy sauce Regular nuts/fruits
Raw Agave Syrup Tea brewed in low temp Oils/Vinegars
Raw Apple Cider Vinegarp Vanilla bean Maple Syrup
Non-Dairy Milk from scratch Sundried tomato Coffee/Tea
Raw Cocoa Powder Spices Vanilla Extract/Cocoa Powder
Raw Nuts/Dried Fruits

I will try and keep my focus on vegetables, fruits and grains, while eating less of nuts and dried fruits. Since I will be eating about 90% raw starting Monday, the other other 10% will be an allowance for foods it might be hard to let go of right now (no not cooked food!) but ingredients such as nutritional yeast, oils, maple syrup, coconut oil, etc.

I'd have to say one of the hardest things I will have to abstain from will be coffee, and as far as I've read, tea isn't quite raw either. I'm not sure how true this is, but I read that the tea inside teabags or even looseleaf tea gets heated above 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) when it is processed and packaged. The only way to truly get raw tea is grow your own herbs and let them steep in water in the sun, some call this Sun Tea. I do have mint in my garden, so I will try that out, but I may slip tea in the 10% of not raw category.

Have you ever tried a raw challenge or do you eat a % raw on a daily basis? What do you enjoy or dislike about it? Share your thoughts below.