Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Raw Juice Experience

Ever since I announced to friends and family that I would do a raw juice food plan, they asked how I felt. Candidly, I didn't notice a difference. I think that was because I had been eating "clean" for so long. It wasn't much of a change to my system.

Yet, I did notice a difference when I resumed eating whole raw food. I could feel a slight heaviness in my stomach as it geared up to digest the simple banana and apple I ate. Happily I didn't take in anything too taxing. The next item I tried was a green smoothie: kale and pear combo.

The next day, I did a complete fast (in honor of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur). I broke the fast with garden fresh tomatoes and an apple.

Yesterday I did introduce more foods including some raw cashews, more kale, more fruit. What I'm noticing is that my bowels are sluggish. Thank goodness I have my last colonic scheduled for tomorrow! I want to stay clean, clean, clean.

Sadly I'm probably not drinking enough water. I just don't think to drink. I'll have to fill a liter container and put it directly in my line of vision as a reminder to take sips throughout the day. Hopefully that will increase my fluid intake.

Today I'll stick to a gentle eating plan, more kale, fruit, probably a few nuts and seeds too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

How time flies

Wow, has it been a week since I've blogged?! I can't believe how time flies. I was so diligent when I first began to blog. Now this lapse. I must recommit to my blog.

Yesterday I had my second colonic. Because I've been doing a juice fast for the last 4 days, and because I've been a vegan for years, my colon is actually in better shape than most. My practitioner was able to work on the entire transverse segment and secum. She said that with some people it takes several sessions before this is accomplished. I'm hoping that next week, we'll work on the ascending section of the large intestines.

Even without treating this last segment, I feel very clean, light, expansive, energized.

Or do these feelings come from my juice cleanse. I started on Monday and have done it for 5 straight days. Hunger has been nonexistent, even from the first day. I'm guessing that eating raw before this fast probably helped. I have to encourage myself to drink more and I think my overall caloric intake is quite low. I didn't intend to fast, just to cleanse.

Believe it or not, I've been reading and researching raw recipes even though I'm not eating. I'm looking forward to preparing new dishes. I plan to break the cleanse Monday evening (or Tuesday morning). Monday is a fast day in the Jewish tradition, and I plan to fast.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thai Coconuts

Wednesday night I attended a raw food potluck dinner and demonstration. I've been to this group twice before and enjoy the members and food. I contributed flax seed crackers: plain, sesame seed and caraway, and kelp chips. Both dishes were highly successful, which meant I came home empty-handed and lots of people asked for the recipes.

After the dinner, a couple of members demonstrated how to open young coconuts imported from Thailand. They are quite different from the tropical coconuts with the hairy brown exteriors. They are best consumed when immature. The liquid inside, referred to as Coconut Water, is sweet and delicious; the flesh is white and gelatinous. As the coconut matures, the water changes color and taste. The flesh hardens and thins. Also the color becomes pink to purple to brown.

In selecting a Thai coconut, inspect the bottom. Make sure it does not give way to touch (not springy or soft). It should be white all around, no pink, brown, or purple markings. When you shake it, you should not be able to hear anything inside, no water moving about.

Because the coconut water is prized, when opening the coconut, you first remove the water. This is done by inserting a couple of holes at the top, one for drainage and one for air. Coconuts have about 1-2 cups of liquid inside.

Once the coconut is emptied, then you can whack it open. This requires brute strength, usually a cleaver. Most people attack the top, Once it's off, then you can access the flesh inside. Because the flesh is soft and can be removed simply by running a spoon around the edge.

Our hostess used the Thai coconuts to make a couple of items. First whipped cream. Although you don't need coconut water for this delight, the flavor is enhanced with the coconut water. Cashews are the base and the mixture is sweetened usually with dates. Agave nectar, stevia, and raw honey are also possibilities.

The second dish was coconog. This tastes like egg nog and uses almond milk plus coconut flesh blended together along with nutmeg. Thai coconuts are also a featured item in raw ice cream. Can't wait to make that!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My first colonic

In a few days the autumnal equinox occurs. That's when the sun passes over the equator and there is an equal amount of time both day and night. Officially in the northern hemisphere, we call this moment the start of Fall. as the days grow short and the weather changes, because we're biological organisms, we respond. I like to commemorate this time period that allows me to transition between the seasons.

This year I decided a cleanse made sense. So I decided to do a raw juice fast, which I'll begin Sunday or Monday at the latest. In preparation for the dietary change, I gave myself the gift of a colonic, a colon cleanse.

Most people are unaware of how much fecal matter builds up in the colon. A famous story exists about John Wayne who allegedly had more than 40 pounds in his intestines upon death. That's a lot of bloat! However, the real issue is the toxicity.

Fecal matter is meant to be eliminated from the body because it is waste. So when it remains trapped in the colon, eventually it seeps into the rest of the body and may cause disease. If you've ever heard the expression, death begins in the colon, this is why. So live can also begin in the colon, if it is clean and able to function at its best.

A clean colon means easy bowel movements, better absorption of nutrients, especially if you're taking supplements, and overall improved health. Five years ago when I had my first colonoscopy, I was anxious. I hated the preparations before hand, and was concerned about the awkwardness and embarrassment of it. Of course, there was a vague concern that something might be discovered. Then what??

On the contrary, the colonic excited me. I was eager to experience it. I found it easy to follow the suggested diet plan in advance and was unconcerned a bout what might happen. Perhaps had I gone with a diagnosed condition, this mindset would have been substantially different.

It was no big deal. I had very little discomfort during the procedure as well as after. I definitely feel clean on the inside in a way I never knew before. I'll undergo 2 more colonics in the following weeks as part of my overall cleanse. I can highly recommend you consider having one too. It makes everything else you do for your health more accessible to your system.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Alkaline Water

It just arrived, my Kangen water filtration system. I'm so excited. It has the capacity to dial up water from acid to alkaline. from 1 to 12 on the Ph scale.

Why is that so important? Our bodies normally measure about 7.2 to 7.4 on the Ph scale, slightly alkaline (7.0 is neutral). Yet most of the food we consume is highly acidic. This interferes with the body's functioning and results in more susceptibility to disease and aging. Research shows that cancer and other viruses and bacteria cannot live in an alkaline environment.

Thank goodness I don't have any diagnosed illnesses. However, I'm very health-conscious and like to prevent problems before they arise. So I'm planning to drink alkaline water. According to other information, it also facilitates weight loss. That means that alkaline water provides three huge benefits:

1. prevent disease
2. inhibit aging
3. enhance weight loss

The Kangen water system also makes acid water. Why is this valuable? Bacterial infections do not like an acid environment. So if I want to rid my house of bacteria, then all I have to do is wash the surfaces in acid water.

This system is found in many hospitals throughout Japan and has been shown to be effective in enabling many people to restore their health. You can check out more information on YouTube.

Just in case you're wondering, those bottled waters that cost so much all measure highly acid. So unless you're buying them to scrub your bathroom, I'd avoid drinking the water.

To your good health!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lost 2 pounds

In the last few weeks I lost 2 pounds. I'm not looking to find them. They can remain lost. I'm thrilled that they decided to leave my body and convert to energy. I've got about 15 more such pounds to let go.

I've struggled with being overweight most of my childhood and adulthood too. Some time around the age of 5 I gained weight, enough so that I couldn't wear regular-sized clothing. My mom and I had to shop in the chubby department. As a little person, I didn't understand. Over the years, it became embarrassing and shameful to be extra large.

I was dieting at age 8. I was the youngest in an overweight family. So going on a diet was a family activity. By age 10 I had memorized the caloric content of hundreds of foods. My oldest brother went out of his way to make home-made avocado ice cream to celebrate the day when I reached goal weight. Ice cream and avocados topped the list of high calorie items.

The family had contests and offered incentives for those who could lose weight quickly. But the real prize was to resume eating the way I used to eat. I was unaware that this very behavior was what packed on the weight in the first place!

As a teenager I tried more desperate measures that included amphetamines and other drugs. These were prescribed and administered by a bariatric specialist and approved by my parents. The same yo-yo pattern persisted and followed me into adulthood.

Like many people, I learned that exercise could burn calories and increase metabolism. Fortunately I liked being active and easily added swimming and yoga into my routine. Later I tried a trampoline called a cellucizer. Despite claims of how others lost weight and kept it off, the best I could do was not to gain more.

Last year I switched workout programs and began using Slim in 6, then TurboJam, Hip Hop Abs, and now P90. Unlike the other exercises I saw a difference in my shape. The weight was reluctant to leave, but my body size was changing.

A couple of months ago I decided to try eating 100% raw. I've learned that this is a healthy lifestyle, albeit a challenging one in this society. However, with summer in full swing, I figured it would work. Since beginning this food plan, I've lost 10 pounds. What a gift! The last 3 weeks I've barely exercised and still lost those 2 pounds I mentioned at the opening. I'm amazed and gratified.

So although I wondered if I would continue eating raw as the weather changed, I'm so happy with this weight loss that I'll probably remain raw for a while. Next week to mark the autumnal equinox, I'm going on a juice fast and cleanse. Perhaps I'll be rewarded by even more lost pounds. Hey if you find them, keep them!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

12-Step Recovery

Chances are you're familiar with self-help recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous. There are many such programs patterned after the original one, AA, founded in 1935. Twelve Step programs have enabled millions of people around the world to recover from a seeming hopeless condition of mind and body. AA has been called the most outstanding social movement of the 20th Century.

Unless you're a member of one of these meetings and are working the steps outlined in the textbook of Alcoholics Anonymous, you probably are unaware of what people actually do to recover. More than a fellowship where people congregate to share their experience, strength and hope, 12-step programs require action on a daily basis.

The first step is crucial, because without admitting a problem, the individual would have no motivation to do any of the other steps. Step one involves an acceptance that one's body responds differently than other people. At the same time, step one also requires an admission that one cannot manage life alone.

If a person has fully conceded to their innermost self this admission of powerless, then how is it possible to live? The answer lies in seeking a Power greater than oneself for guidance and direction. Here the spiritual side of 12-step recovery becomes paramount. The rest of the steps are based on the desire to seek and know a Higher Power that will solve all one's problems.

Before one can fully establish a working relationship with that Power, and individual has to take stock honestly of the obstacles that get in the way of living life on life's terms. Also, it's imperative that the person clear away the wreckage of the past and make peace with family members, friends, and business associates present and in the past. Having done so, the individual is graced with new found peace of mind, intuition, and power to find happiness, joy and freedom.

I've been in recovery for 23 years. The first 13 years I mainly focused on the fellowship, although I did read about the steps and had tried working them on a limited basis. Ten years ago I discovered the directions on how to work the steps, got a sponsor to guide me, and took the suggested actions. The result? I was catapulted into a 4th dimension that I couldn't have imagined and take joy in living the solution.

Now I have the honor to share this program of action with other women who are sincerely seeking recovery. Just this summer alone I've listened to 3 women read their inventories and witness their spiritual growth. I'm currently working with a new person who is on fire working these steps. The desire to drink and drug has been lifted without her having to swear off. It just comes. That's the miracle of doing these steps.

Twelve-step recovery work has definitely been a major turning point in my life. It has opened me up to other spiritual avenues. To better know and do God's will, I meditate and pray on a daily basis. I observe the major holidays in my religion and attend services. I also appreciate being present when other people celebrate and mark their religious holidays.

My life goes more smoothly when I take time for spirituality. What do you do to stay spiritually focused and spiritually centered?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Raw or not, they're delicious

I've been a raw foodist for over 2 months. Not much of a feat when you compare it to some of the better known members of the raw food community who have eaten this way for decades. However, it feels like an accomplishment to me.

Having acquired a dehydrator recently, I've been on the prowl for recipes where I could make use of it. Yesterday I concocted a granola bar and I'm delighted with the result.

I combined soaked flax seeds with rolled oats (are they raw?). Next I mixed in chopped dates and nuts. I also found some goji berries and maca root powder to blend in, making the mixture a super food!

I added some sweetener, to one batch agave nectar and to the other raw honey. Since the batch didn't hold together, despite the flax seeds which make a gel-type substance, I decided to add water. This seemed to be the magic trick. The water helped make a glutinous mass that I could shape into bars.

After letting the ingredients settled in the refrigerator for a few hours, I then made bars and put them in the dehydrator. Overnight they became solid, chewy, delicious, packable. I froze half and have been munching on the remainder that I put in an air-tight tin. I've been looking for some kind of raw food energy bar that could travel well. I just found it. What do you do

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tuina Massage

About 5 years ago I broke my wrist and needed a surgical procedure to attach metal rods to hold it in place while it knit together. Because I was immobile (I elevated it 24-7), when the rods were finally removed, my hand was unable to grasp or clench. I couldn't make a fist.

Of course I saw a physical therapist and worked with her for several months. I also worked with an occupational therapist. However, the disability remained and this set me on a course to find alternative treatments that could help me regain the use of my hand.

One approach that seemed to make a big difference was the Graston Technique, which addresses soft tissue injuries. It's quite painful. Although I progressed, I still had residual disability.

Massage was another therapy I employed. In selecting a practitioner, I'm concerned not only with their credentials and experience, but more so with their energy.

I believe that the body knows how to heal itself when given the raw resources. Energy is one of those invaluable resources. Each of us is an energy field and I've discovered that some people's field touch me in a positive way and promote healing. Others have less of an impact.

My massage therapist was excellent. Unlike the physical therapist and occupation therapist who focused exclusively on my wrist and hand, she worked on my shoulder and arm, even my back. She suggested that I might benefit from acupuncture, so off I went to see if this treatment would improve my condition.

Acupuncture had some effect. It's based on the concept that life force, energy, chi, gets blocked, which results in symptoms. Most practitioners who study acupuncture also learn about Tuina, Chinese massage. It too identifies and relieves energy blocks. Rather than needles to open the channels, Tuina practitioners use their hands, arms to "roll" and knead the body.

The Tuina Therapist I'm seeing teaches others and is highly skilled. At times the massage was quite painful, which happens when energy cannot flow freely through a channel. However, despite the momentary pain, this treatment has been extremely effective in restoring my health. I still have some disability (can't bend the last digits on my fingers to make a complete fist), but I can do everything (hold a hairbrush, a pen, turn my wrist over to receive change) so that most individuals are unaware of any limitations.

Two days ago I suddenly found my salivary gland swollen on the left side. It occurred as I was eating a piece of fruit. After reflecting internally on what was happening and then doing some homework on the internet, I concluded that it was the salivary gland and not some other condition. As it turned out, I was scheduled to see my Tuina Therapist yesterday. So I presented the situation to him.

Rather than work directly on the area, he rolled on my chest and arm and other body parts. Sure enough the channel opened and the energy flowed easily again. My symptom was relieved.

If you have some kind of health issue, consider alternative treatments. There are many types available and each has its benefits. If one doesn't work, continue to explore and try another. If you're open, you'll find the right one for you. I did.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Garden warmed tomatoes

I am blessed. What a joy it is to walk into my garden and pluck a vine-ripened tomato, still warm from the sun, and pop it into my mouth to consume! Can't find anything sweeter or more delectable.

Despite the plethora of rain this Spring and Summer, my garden is finally producing a wealth of tomatoes. Earlier I enjoyed sugar snap peas. However, the season has come and gone. Last week I planted a second crop and I hope there is enough growing time to see them mature. The radishes are already coming through the earth. However, the kale seeds and spinach have yet to announce themselves.

I enjoy gardening. Not just vegetables either. I also appreciate flowers and fruits. I have a wonderful raspberry patch which has dwindled over the years, but still tastes better than any store-bought commodity. Also the strawberries are like ground cover. They infiltrate every piece of dirt in the garden. This is the first time I'm enjoying a second crop in a season. That's how unusual the weather pattern has been this year.

While I rave about these other plants, tomatoes top the list. I won't eat tomatoes except this time of year, when they're vine-ripened and warm from the sun. It's my favorite summer flavor. I especially like the cherry tomatoes, although I also am growing grape tomatoes, jetstar (super-sized), and lemon tomatoes (less acid).

I'm in heaven.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I'm not an expert on detoxification. However, I'm convinced that life (and death) begins in the colon. So keeping the bowels clean can only be a positive step towards overall good health. And my mission all along has been to achieve optimal health.

With the approach of the vernal equinox (September 21), I've decided to do a juice fast and cleanse. I've been eating vegan for over 3 years and raw for the last 2 months. One might conclude that my system should be relatively clean. I hope that's true, but I have no way of knowing.

Why a juice fast? From what I'm reading it appears that fruit and vegetable juice, when the fiber is eliminated, requires very little from the digestive system to process. Thus a juice fast enables the body to rest, as well as to release any build up of toxic materials. Certain fruits and vegetables are known to assist in detoxifying various chemicals and toxins.

Along with this fast, I'm also considering colonics. I've never had such a procedure, which is basically a long-lasting enema done under the guidance of a certified practitioner.

My last idea for cleansing is a therapeutic foot bath. I've seen this machine which gently vibrates and contains water (possibly other agents -- I don't know). You soak your feet in the tub where toxins are then drawn out. Depending on the color of the water and other factors, a skilled practitioner can determine which systems of the body are being cleansed.

All these approaches are new to me. I welcome your ideas and experience.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Energy Bars

As a new raw foodist, I've been looking for quick snacks and pack-along items. Of course raw fruit, vegetable slices are great standbys. However, sometimes, I'm looking for something more substantial.

I came across the idea of an energy bar. It started when I saw information about raw food bars. I bought them, enjoyed them, and then thought, why not make them myself. I also discovered that the so-called raw food bars may still be processed and not entirely raw.

My first attempt to make a snack was raw brownies. The base for most brownies and energy bars appears to be dates, medjool dates to be precise, although I suspect that other varieties may also work. Raisins and figs could substitute for the dates.

The dates are pitted, then blended. They form a paste. Into this base you can mix almost anything else. Usually nuts, coconut, cacoa powder, flavorings such as vanilla bean or vanilla extract are used. I've also tried coconut oil, which enhances the flavor and texture in a tasty way. Seeds add texture. Sprouted grains would add crunch and chewiness.

The exact measurements are not so important as you can easily make changes as you go. Sweetener isn't necessary because the dates are naturally sweet.

My first experiment was with walnuts. Remember I was making brownies. Since then, I've tried many different types of nuts and seeds. Brazil nuts are especially good. Today's experiment I formed a ball around a whole soaked almond.

I usually spread the mixture in a rectangular glass dish and stick it in the freezer. These treats keep for a long time when frozen, and really take minutes to thaw. Because I offer them to all my friends and enjoy snacking daily, my energy bars don't last long! Try them and see.