Monday, August 31, 2009


Have you ever tried losing weight? If you're like 2 of every 3 Americans, the needle on the scale indicates that you're carrying excess baggage. Chances are you're tried at least once to reduce that number.

I've had a weight issue since age 5. When I closely examined photos of me before that age, my size and shape seemed normal. Definitely by school age I was a chubby child and I recall vividly how painful it was to shop for clothes. My entire family seemed to suffer from overeating, although the women (my Mom and me) were more discriminated against because of our portly appearance.

As a result, diets were a regular feature of our family life. Summer was an especially good time to diet, probably because school was out of session and produce was more abundant. (I grew up outside Cleveland, Ohio where the growing season was limited.)

I recall that the object was to lose weight so that I could resume eating as "normal". The only catch to this distorted thinking was that so-called normal eating was what got me overweight. I didn't fully understand this dynamic until way into adulthood!

Fortunately I was an active child and wouldn't let my size keep me from participating in playground competition. I had 2 older brothers and I followed in their footsteps. They liked playing outdoors; so did I.

Still I was overweight consistently from early childhood right until the present. I tried countless food plans and even more drastic protocols to lose weight. I read lots of diet books and sought help with experts who specialized in treating obesity. Invariably the pounds went up; the pounds went down always to be followed by more pounds up.

Exercise was something I did, not strictly for weight loss. I did it for cardiovascular health. By early adulthood I had settled on swimming as my preferred program. Reluctantly as my body aged, I added some weight-lifting exercises, which I was quick to abandon because they were boring.

A year ago I discovered exercise DVDs. These are programs that you can do in the convenience and privacy of your own home. Often they include both cardio and weight-lifting movements.

I started with Slim in 6 by Debbie Siebers. It was gentle and had 3 levels. As I gained confidence in doing these workout routines, I became willing to try more advanced programs. So 5 months ago I graduated to P90. This is the original program developed by Tony Horton, who has gone on to create P90X, a more extreme workout, 10-minute Trainer, and some other shows.

For the first time ever my body shape is shaping up. I've lost a total of 20 pounds this year, which is remarkable for someone who is reluctant to part with any pounds. Naturally I've gained lots of muscle strength and endurance.

So I'm now a convert to diet AND exercise, the right exercise. If you're having trouble shedding the pounds, consider adding a workout program. For me it made 20 pounds difference.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Salad Dressing

When I first went raw, I was intimidated by salad dressing. Other than those bottled or made "fresh" with a packaged mix, I had no clue how to make tasty salad dressing. I watched enviously as a friend, Patricia, would whip together olive oil, vinegar and herbs. Hers always tasted so good.

Initially, to find a raw salad dressing I searched the internet. I learned that avocados and cashews made the basis for a piquant sauce. I could thin it for dressing. With my first success, I began to deviate and now feel I am an excellent maker of salad dressing.

Let me share my recipe for today's version. I started with sesame seeds, added apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, pepper, Bragg's amino acids, and nutritional yeast. Add water to get the desired thick- or thinness. Just blend in Vitamix.

I inquired about nutritional yeast, whether it was considered raw. For most people, the answer is yes. If you're vegan, then perhaps you might hesitate in using yeast. Is yeast a plant or an animal? It hovers between kingdoms.

This particular dressing is one I've used on kale to make kale chips. Thanks Rawman! It's delicious. I'd love to share more ideas. Happy muching.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Veggie Chips

Update from yesterday about the Key Lime Pie. I created my own recipe for the filling. Using the juice I had extracted from about 20 small key limes, I added 2 avocadoes and some cashew nuts plus agave nectar. Since I'm not much for pie crust, I skipped it and filled the pie pan directly. I placed it in the freezer. Later I added a topping which consisted of soaked brazil nuts and almonds along with some water, small tablespoon of raw honey and a splash of vanilla extract. Then I smeared it on top of the filling and continued to freeze it.

The results? Delicious! The tartness of the limes were still obvious in the filling and were well balanced by the sweetness of the topping. The filling was like an ice cream. I will do it again and perhaps use a regular juicer on the limes. I did the extraction by hand and it was very time consuming.

Since I was enjoying my time in the kitchen, I looked to make more raw food dishes. Having just acquired a food dehydrator 2 weeks ago, I'm still experimenting with it. One of my favorite recipes is kale chips. I used the one from Rawman's and fell in love instantly. So that you don't have to look it up, here it is:

3-4 heads of Kale, - Wash it - Tear off and only use the tips of the Kale,
as the leaf has too many veins. (Save the veiny leaf for your green smoothie.)
1 cup of Tahini - I grind up sesame seeds first until creamy.
1/4 cup Tamari OR 1/8 cup Braggs amino's
1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup of water. I tend to omit this, which makes for a thicker dressing.
1/2 small yellow bell pepper; red works too. Avoid green as it's not as sweet.
Juice of 1 whole lemon
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast or more to thicken up the dressing.
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of onion powder or 1/2 small onion
dash of sea salt, which I often omit.

Blend the ingredients and it should be pretty thick, but smooth & pour able.
You may add water as needed. Pour the mixture in to a bowl and combine with the Kale.
I like to use my hands to massage the mix into the Kale and that way it really gets a
good coating and has my life energy in it, as well.
Place kale onto parchment paper or a teflex sheet, on top of your dehydrator tray, and dehydrate for 8 -10 hours, possibly longer until crispy @ 105 degrees.

I absolutely LOVE this recipe. And it's great eaten raw. Make lots of dressing as you'll enjoy this on other salads too.

Since I still had some trays in my dehydrator empty, I continued puttering in the kitchen and tried another recipe for Sweet Potato Chips. It was very easy.


Remove skin from sweet potatoes.
Slice thin by using a mandolin slicer or other tool.
You can dehydrate as is OR
Spray with olive oil and then sprinkle with 1) sea salt, 2) vegetable salt, 3) cayenne pepper, or 4) any other seasoning.
Dehydrate at 105 degrees until crispy, about 12-14 hours.

Results? yum, yummy. These veggie chips are great to take with me as a snack while I'm traveling. Or add as crumbles to a salad.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Key Lime Pie

The other day I bought key limes, which were on sale. Seeing them provoked a desire for key lime pie. Since going raw, I am having fun preparing dishes that I never made before, even those days when I cooked and baked. Eating raw has also given me the freedom to make desserts because I know that the ingredients are generally healthy.

Since I didn't have a recipe for key lime pie, I explored on the internet. Much to the chagrin of authors who would like me to purchase their cookbooks, I have found lots of recipes online to copy and download. In fact I quickly found about a half dozen.

Previously I made a pie crust using dates and nuts. Even baked, I'm not much for pie dough. So I concentrated on the filling. There seem to be a few variations. Shall I use avocados or young coconut as the main ingredient for making the filling? Or another recipe calls for mangos with psyllium seeds.

I have no experience with making raw pudding, which seems to be the basis for key lime pie. Because I've got a couple of avocados on hand, I'll use them today. In the mean time, I juiced about 20 key limes, which netted about 1 cup of juice. I added some zest. I found it difficult to grate these small fruits and that explains the small amount of zest available.

The recipe I settled on also prepares a frosting. Looking at the ingredients, almond milk, macadamia nuts, cashews, vanilla and sweetener, I suspect that this will yield a sort of whipped cream.

Although I don't have much experience preparing raw foods, I do enjoy cooking and am gifted with the notion of how foods combine. I've been able to transfer this understanding to raw foods. Bottom line: I don't follow recipes precisely. I usually get creative and add my own touch. My creativity is often triggered by the ingredients on hand, or lack thereof, as well as those items I like.

I'll let you know how my experiment turns out. Lacking a camera, I won't be able to take a picture. Hopefully in the future, I'll get one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


For the last 50 days I've gone 100% raw. I've lost 9 pounds thus far.

Initially I started with the challenge to eat raw foods for a week. But I liked it so much and had so much fun, that I have continued, a day at a time, until now. While I am not promising to remain 100% raw, I do pledge to incorporate as much raw food in my diet as possible. [Note: Living in New England, I'm only too aware that cold winter days may set my desire towards consuming hot meals.] Yet, because I've learned so much about the benefits of going raw, I intend to keep at it.

I've been on a health journey since age 5 when my beloved maternal grandmother died from cancer. As a young child might do, I vowed to find the cure for cancer and have been focused on health ever since. As different members of my extended family (as well as friends) have gotten sick or died, their circumstances have kept alive my commitment to find viable treatments.

Although I began to study medicine in college, I found myself more drawn to psychology and spirituality. I believe that mind and body mutually affect each other and that spirit, or cosmic energy, overrides both.

Increasingly my search has focused on natural approaches to health and healing. About 10 years ago I was introduced to supplements, specifically glyconutrients, and witnessed many people recover from life-threatening conditions by changing their diet and adding supplements. Strangely enough, other people with similar conditions following similar protocols were unable to get well. How could I make sense of these conflicting stories?

I've concluded that healing is more than cause and effect. Each person being a unique entity requires a unique approach. The best advice I can offer someone looking to heal is be open to trying many things. I myself have benefited from various alternative practices. If you strongly desire to heal, you WILL heal.

My current health regime, besides eating raw, consists of supplements (omega 3, phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, to name a few), daily meditation and exercise. I've got a lot to learn and am enjoying the journey. Hopefully this vehicle will enable me to meet like-minded people. As the saying goes, when the Student is ready, the Teacher will appear.

To your good health!
Nancy Zare