Thursday, May 29, 2014

Eating Well and Within Your Budget

I am sometimes asked if my diet (high raw vegan, about 95%) is terribly expensive.  My usual reply is that I don’t know, as I am among the 10 worst shoppers in the world.  The issue for me is to buy foods with high nutrient density, mostly organic, in ways and places that fit with the rest of my lifestyle.  Truly, I don’t think my way of eating is any more expensive than anyone else’s, especially given that I don’t eat meat, drink alcohol, or buy any processed food – well, very little processed food. 

I do believe that on either large or modest food budgets, we can eat poorly or we can eat well. In these days of ubiquitous pesticides, genetically modified foods, and questionable soil conditions, it’s more important than ever to eat the right foods in order to maintain physical health and a high level of immunity. So, I may pay the higher prices for produce, but have good clean food to show for it, and I don’t buy low quality foods that have been highly compromised, and which, I might add, come at a very high price for their “convenience.”, but certainly not for their nutritious superiority.

Of course, it makes good sense to be a more discriminating shopper than I am, for sure.  Just don’t sacrifice relative cost for nutrient dense, life-giving food.

Here are a few tips to help you eat in a way that you can develop and maintain the energy and vitality to function on a high level – with peak performance, as it were, and still honor your budget.

1.  Take advantage of seasonal produce and sales.  For example, eat lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables during the summer when they are plentiful and inexpensive.  Try some new varieties while you’re at it. Each one has its own set of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and they’re all good and valuable in some way for our bodies.

2.  Shop around.  Visit different stores and observe different pricing schemes and sale schedules. Visit ethnic markets and local farmers markets, too.

3.  Grow some things yourself.  I am an anomaly  in the Midwest, where virtually everyone has a garden.  I’m not a gardener, but even I can plant some fresh herbs in a pot, and occasionally tomatoes.

4.  Some produce – apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, and cabbage are available year round and are usually reasonably priced.

5. Get together with a group to purchase your food.  Belonging to a food co-op can be a money saver.

6.  Eat mono-meals several times a week. A mono-meal is simply eating one food at a meal.  So….all peaches, all apples, all greens, etc.  Doing this occasionally will give your digestive system a break and help your budget as well.

7.  Take some time to learn as much as you can about local foraging.  There are many edible, nutrient dense plants to be had probably very close to your home, and are very well –priced. If you have an herbal medicine class, or wild edibles class available to you, it would pay big dividends.
Summer is a great time to experiment with new foods, because they are so plentiful in number and moderate in price. Be creative. You may find some new very fine “bargains!”

Thursday, May 22, 2014

About That Protein Question

It happened again at a conference that I attended recently.  An acquaintance of many years, in a discussion about eating healthy, asked me about getting enough protein on a plant based diet.  While it’s true that protein is an important component of any diet, we do seem, in this country, to think that the best way, if not the only way, to meet our protein requirements is to eat animals and/or the products they produce, such as milk, eggs, and cheese.  Maybe it’s time to write a little about this subject. 

First, protein is present in all food that grows.  Good sources of non-meat-based protein include kale and other greens, cauliflower and other vegetables, garbanzo beans, sprouted, almonds and other nuts, sunflower seeds and other seeds, almond butter and other nut-butters, and peaches, bananas, and other fruits.
Second, the quality of the protein is also good to consider.  Protein from animal sources takes lots of energy for the body to convert to usable protein.  The best source of easily absorbed protein is from dark leafy greens.  A green juice or green smoothie and a big salad and/or vegetable-based meal would be a good idea every day! 
Third, consider this nugget of truth.  Mother’s milk has the same protein content as fruit, approximately 3%.  A breast fed baby doubles its weight in one year of drinking ONLY mother’s milk.  It may therefore not be necessary to eat foods high in protein, but rather more of the foods that have a more ideal protein concentration for humans.
All of that said, for those of you who are comforted by numbers, the following list of some raw foods and their protein content is worth pondering. 
Nuts, Legumes, Seeds
1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – 39 g;  1 cup almond butter – 36 g;  1 Tbs cashew butter – 3g; 1 cup almonds – 30 g; 1 cup filberts – 17 g; 1 cup sunflower seeds – 29 g; 1 cup pumpkin seeds – 24 g.
1 large head cauliflower - 2 g; 1 cup cauliflower – 2 g; 1 cup kale – 2 g; 1 cup spinach – 1 g; 1 cup vegetable juice – 2 g; 1 cup alfalfa sprouts – g; 100 gm seaweed – 2 g.
1 cup orange juice – 2 g; 1 cup oranges – 2 g; 1 cup bananas – 2 g; 1 peach – 2 g; 1 apple – 1 g; 1 cup grapes – 1 g; 1 cup fresh coconut water – 8 g.
These and other foods can be seen along with other nutrient values at
In a day, then, if you were to eat a cup of soaked chickpeas, 2 cups of vegetables, and 3 fruits, you would have all the protein you need if you are a woman.  Or, you could eat 1 large cauliflower, 7 cups additional vegetables, 2 cups orange juice, and 6 peaches.  A man could add 5 bananas or a cup of almonds to that and have more than the required amount of protein. 
So, rest easy on concerns about protein.  Many authors say that in this country there just is no protein shortage.  Keep eating lots of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and you’ll have plenty of protein, along with many, many other very valuable nutrients which are unavailable in animals and/or their products.
Garbanzo beans are as high in protein as nuts, but have much less fat.  They are a great protein source for anyone incorporating more raw food into their diets, especially those who are avoiding fat or have trouble digesting nuts.Try this recipe on tomato slices, topped with olives.  It’s is a lovely way to serve a protein-rich snack or lunch.
Sprouted Hummus
1 ½ cups garbanzo beans, soaked for 24 hours (Change water every 12 hours).
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Dash of paprika 

Mix garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in food processor, until texture is smooth.  Serve with paprika garnish.  Use as dip for crudite`, as a stuffing for tomatoes, or a filling for wraps.  Enjoy! 

Let me know how you like it!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

While it’s Still Spring – FLING!

March and April are the typical months for spring cleaning.  Everyone knows that early spring is a good time to declutter closets, donate things for garage sales, and scrub nooks and crannies to squeaky clean.  Now that the season has ripened and greened, consider these three things that you can fling this spring to restore your confidence, boost your energy and take the weight off your shoulders!
1.  Indecision
“Maybes” are  time-sucking, attention-draining, problem-creating trouble makers!.  If you have areas of your life where you’re feeling undecided, uncertain, or wishy-washy, then watch out!  Self confidence has a whole lot to do with your ability to DECIDE.  Clutter, for instance, is a sign that you’re having a hard time making decisions.  Take a look at your thinking processes and see if you’re feeling stuck in a rut, unclear and undecided.  Then DECIDE and start moving forward.

The good news here is that you don’t have to have everything all figured out.  You don’t have to see the view from the top before you start climbing the mountain. Once you take the first step out of inertia, you’ll be in a new place with a new view, and the next step or steps will become more clear.

Making decisions is a great energy, confidence, and certainty booster.  Go for it.

2.  Secrets

It doesn’t necessarily feel good to admit to past wrongs, but keeping them inside is not healthy. Nobody likes to be wrong, but a humble heart which is willing to take responsibility for what’s gone awry is a lovely thing to behold.

If you have something  weighing on your heart, tugging on the edge of your tear ducts – something old, something new, something you knew you shouldn’t do but did anyway, it’s time to let it out and let go.

You don’t have to say it just right.  A good attempt at reconciliation trumps not making any attempt at all. Even the worst possible consequences will pale next to the cost of keeping it festering inside of you .

Your secrets wouldn’t bother you like they do if you weren’t a good person.  Free yourself, and let the new light and weightlessness of truth shine in. 
3.  Incomplete Projects

Those half-done photo albums and unwritten birthday cards may look benign, but they are not.  An accumulated collection of incompleted projects is the perfect invitation to feel lethargic, burdened, overwhelmed and unhappy!  Incomplete projects leak a slow, but strong energy drain on your life, your confidence, and your health.

Finish what you start.  Keep your commitments.  Clean up your unfinished business and make things feel right.

 As summer now approaches, take inventory on your life and personal choices – not just what you eat and how much exercise you get, but what you complete.  Not just what you wear, but what you hide inside and how you decide rather than letting things ride both sides of the fence. Then you’ll be ready to great the summer of full bloom, with an internal full bloom of life lived abundantly!