Monday, August 31, 2009

Raw Vegan Lettuce Wraps

This is a FitterTwit original folks! I literally was playing in the laboratory, uh, I mean kitchen, attempting to recreate one of my favorite Asian foods.... lettuce wraps. You will see in the pic that I used swiss chard for the lettuce. I DO NOT recommend using anything but iceberg lettuce. I really missed the cold crunch! But other than that, they turned out FANTASTIC!!!
Lettuce Wraps
4 whole pieces iceberg lettuce leaves (NOT swiss chard unless you are ok with a much less crispy and tasty wrap)
1 Cup Raw Almonds that were soaked for four hours
1 Tbsp Miso
1 Tbsp Nama Shoyu
1 Tbsp Asian Chili Garlic Sauce/Paste (VERY spicy, please adjust to taste)
1/4 Cup Flax meal
1 clove garlic minced
4 green onions
1 zucchini
2 stalks celery
Set the lettuce leaves in the fridge to get nice and cold. In a food processor add almonds, miso, nama shoyu, chili sauce, garlic, and flax and process until large pieces are processed and the mixture has the consistency of the chicken filling for lettuce wraps. You will have to use a spatula to scrape the sides to get some of the large pieces to process. Chop the onions, zucchini and celery into small, even pieces and add to processor. Pulse just enough to combine without breaking down the chopped veggies. Wrap in lettuce leaves and enjoy!
This tasted WONDERFUL. I am so shocked that you would not have guessed it was a raw version of this classic recipe. I have a little left over, so I will definitely be making a run to the store for some organic iceberg lettuce!
*** I picked up iceberg lettuce last night... yep, they were PERFECT! I ate them with a little alfalfa sprouts on the side... YUMMY! This one's a keeper! I might try replacing the almonds for parsnips and see what happens....
UPDATE 09-02-09: Half and half mix of almonds to parsnips is WONDERFUL! Just parsnips gives the dish kind of a peppery-earthy taste that I was not fond of. The half and half mix was PERFECT! Man these are soooo good! :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Received The One Lovely Blog Award?

Wow! I don't know what to say. While I know that "Thank You" would be totally appropriate to say to someone who has extended me this award... it honestly doesn't seem to be enough. Marie... you are awesome and great and coming from someone whose own blog is such a great read, well, I'm so honored! Thank you.

Along with Marie's MUST READ blog (click on the link above), here are some other great blogs deserving of such an award:

http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/ - I loved Body Flow the very first time I did it. It was the very first time that "playtime" was introduced into my exercise as an adult. The experience of laughing through an entire workout (burning loads of calories and sweating like it's raining) because I lacked balance and coordination made me go back for more. Even the instructor fell. I felt like a kid again! It was fun, tough and relaxing all at the same time.

Because of my nail fettish, I have five nail blogs that I visit pretty much on a daily basis. They are the perfect escape for me and my girly indulgence.

The fifth one is actually a general beauty blog, but she's become a fast friend through blogging and her nail tutorials rock my socks!

A VERY large part of my blog is about health. I am continually on a quest to be healthier today than I was yesterday. Most of my success has been driven by two simple things: The Master Cleanse and incorporating raw food into my diet. Making sure that I'm not only getting as much bang for my nutrient buck with raw food, but also absorbing as much as I can with regular cleansing have been the keys to the increase of energy to WANT to exercise and also to overcome sickness. It just IS my life now and I enjoy reading about how it becomes other's lives as well. While weightloss is certainly a lovely bi-product, this lifestyle is really more focused on health and happiness. Here are a few blogs that certainly deserve awards!

For me, the biggest Fun and Mental Changes have come with the realization that one should not take themselves too seriously, no one gets out of here alive. Life is meant to be fun, it was meant to be filled with joy and to be lived. Bad things do happen and there are things that are out of our control, but if we are all too busy being sick, angry and miserable, me miss what life was meant to be (even the bad stuff has a way of being good). I hope that every day I continue to discover that it's always playtime and that I am connected to something greater and higher than myself. Here's a couple of blogs that help:

http://scrapimenta.blogspot.com/ - yep, this is a scrapbook blog, and a great one at that! Scrapbooking is an outlet that gets my creative juices flowing and reminds me of what is important in my life. Scrapbooking brings gratitude!

http://bloggerinastrangeland.com/ - blog about one person's spirituality in life. He talks about my very favorite subject... GOD!

http://chalenejohnson.blogspot.com/ - this is the creator of Turbo Jam. She is also a spiritual lady who perpetuated playtime for me instead of working out. She also has an amazing spirit that shines through her blog and is so deserving of so many awards.


So far, these are my list of favorites. I read blogs every day, so I'm positive that there will surely be more to come. Thank you again Marie... this award means a lot! :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lemon Cilantro Dressing

Here is my fabulous magic bullet concoction! Done in minutes and tastes wonderful!

Lemon Cilantro Dressing
  • 3/4 Cup celery juice
  • 1/3 Cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. raw tahini
  • 1 Tbsp. flax oil (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic

In Magic Bullet, juice celery (using the bonus juicer attachment). Pour juice into bowl. Remove juicer attachment and celery pulp. Replace juice into blender attachment adding remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth (about a minute).

This recipe is so simple, so quick and so yummy. This would also make a great sauce for grilled chicken or salmon!

***This is a modified recipe from Living In The Raw.

Magic Bullet Strikes Again!

Ok, so I think that I've established how much I LOVE my magic bullet! I have owned one for a little while now, but today was the first time that I've ever used the juicer attachment (that's weird). I was in the process of making a veggie plate and needed to whip up a quick dressing. Of course I picked a dressing that called for juiced celery! Really? Juiced celery? I DID NOT want to pull out my juicer and all the attachments for 3/4 cup of celery juice. My light bulb moment hit.... the magic bullet juicer!!!! That's right! I almost forgot the magic bullet came with that. It's compact and would be PERFECT for 3/4 cup of anything! And since it is so small, I can also remove the juicer attachment and just use the blender attachment to whip up the dressing! Sometimes I am really brilliant. What would have been at least a half hour project of pulling out my juicer, all the attachments, putting it together, then prepping the celery, then disassembly and washing all the parts turned into a 15 minute chore with my magic bullet. I pushed the juicer attachment in the blender, washed the celery, cut the stalk in half, pushed each half through the juicer, removed the juicer attachment, rinsed and finished my dressing in the blender. To clean, I just unscrewed the blade attachment and rinsed the small blender. Since the base is always on the counter (because it's so small and so versatile), there was really nothing to put away. That dressing was a snap and the magic bullet, yet again, turned out to be a time saver. I'm all about saving money, space and especially time! The magic bullet commercials might be corny, but this tiny appliance is a serious kitchen tool! Stay tuned for the dressing recipe so you can try it too. It turned out great! :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mediterranean Cauliflower Salad

Here is another amazing raw recipe that takes minutes to prepare but tastes incredible. The sweet of the balsamic vinegar with the tang of the apple cider vinegar... it just works! Here's the recipe. Click on pic to enlarge.

Salad
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower diced or processed in food processor (remove anything that isn't white)
  • 3/4 Cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 3 sprigs of diced mint leaves (remove leaves from stems, discard stems)
  • 1/2 Cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 4 chopped green onions (include the green tops)
  • Combine above ingredients. Set aside.

Dressing

  • 3 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. dill
Taste dressing before combining with the salad to be sure it has the sweet/sour to your liking. I found that because my cauliflower head was a little on the big side, I needed to add a little more apple cider vinegar to make it a little more sour. If you like your dressing to be a little more sweet, add a pinch more balsamic vinegar. All the dressing measurements should be adjusted to taste. Combine dressing and cauliflower mixture. Serve.

*** Recipe is a FitterTwit original adapted from Rawvolution's Cauliflower Couscous recipe.

Sundried Tomato and Herb Crackers

What a wonderful raw recipe! Please know that this recipe requires a dehydrator. The one that I use (and the one shown in the bottom pic) is an Excalibur dehydrator. It is quickly becoming my favorite kitchen gadget because the trays are square and flat and because the unit doesn't take up a lot of space. And when I say that it doesn't take up space, I'm talkin counter space AND vertical space. The dehydrator fits very nicely on my kitchen counter with plenty of space between it and the upper cupboards. That being said, ON WITH THE YUMMIES! Don't forget clicking on the pic opens it up bigger (to see all that herb action)!

Sundried Tomato and Herb Crackers

2 cups Flax seeds
2 1/2 cups filtered water
1/2 Cup sun dried tomatoes, soaked in 1 cup water for 30 minutes
1 1/4 cups sunflower seeds soaked (be sure that water covers the seeds) for 1 hour then drained 1 Tbsp nama shoyu (unpasteurized or raw soy sauce)
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh herbs (I used cilantro and basil)

Soak flax seeds, sun dried tomatoes and sunflower seeds in separate bowls. After 1 hour, the flax seeds and soak water will combine and be gelatinous. Set flax "gelatin" aside.

In food processor combine all other ingredients including the tomato soak water. It's a good idea to save the fresh herbs and pulse into the mixture during the last seconds so that large pieces appear in the crackers. I didn't, but will make sure to do so next time.

In a large bowl mix the flax "gelatin" with the sunflower seed mixture. Spread onto Teflexx sheets (there is enough batter to fill three Teflexx-lined trays) and dehydrate for 6 hours. Peel and flip onto plastic screen and dehydrate for another 6 hours. Once dehydration is complete, remove from dehydrator and break into bite size cracker pieces. My husband and son BOTH agree that they taste like pizza crackers. I'm not surprised... the sundried tomato, basil and cilantro is SURE to give them that yummy flavor without all the fat and calories. What could be yummier than that? Oh, and they are so good for you.

You can make them even better by using all organic ingredients and serving them with a nice homemade marinara sauce. I served them with guacamole because I have been craving guacamole for the last 10 days of my master cleanse. Yep folks... I ate the whole bowl. So freakin good!!!!

***You can find this wonderful healthy recipe in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Super Duper

"Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease."~ Hippocrates
Because what we eat is broken down and absorbed by our cells, the phrase "you are what you eat" rings true. But just as there are natural forces that are within us to heal, there can also be natural forces within us to harm as well... depending on what we eat. So if you're eating sugar and fat and salt, what are THOSE natural forces doing to your body?

I recently read and re-read an AMAZING book by David Wolfe called Superfoods, The Food and Medicine of the Future. It really hit home how the natural powers in the food we eat really do make us sick or make us well. Mr. Wolfe really touched on those foods that REALLY promote wellness in some pretty incredible ways. He calls them Superfoods.

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”~ Hippocrates

Here are MY favorites:

Raw Cacao - come on folks... CHOCOLATE!!! Definitely at the top of the list! And when sweetened with natural sweeteners (like raw, organic agave) it's super healthy and guilt free! Check http://www.gnosischocolate.com/ for some hand-crafted super duper superfood! Not ruined by heat, refining and processing, raw cacao is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, tryptophan (for the 'feel good') and fiber. Raw cacao can even help you lose weight! Now THAT'S what I call super!

Spirulina - Yay Protein! Spirulina contains the highest concentration of protein (by weight) of any food known, between 65 and 71 percent protein, depending upon the variety. AND spirulina yields 200 times more protein per acre than beef without hormones, chemicals, pesticides (that are ingested from cows eating corn unnaturally), and "factory farming" that leads to E. coli and Salmonella organisms that can contaminate store bought meat. Oh and spirulina protein is also more readily absorbed by the body because it's easily blended with water in it's raw state, whereas cooked meat loses about 50% of it's usable protein as soon as it's cooked. Each gram of spirulina protein is four times more absorbable than the same gram of protein in beef. Add to the amazing protein, spirulina is a great source of antioxidants, GLA and is an all around immune system booster! Popeye would have done FAR better with spirulina! :)

Goji Berries - Another immune system booster and super source of antioxidants, this little berry is a powerhouse for a healthy body. Although often recommended for such chronic conditions as liver or kidney disorders, weak joints and legs, lower back problems, dizziness and tinnitus, headaches, insomnia, hypertension, tuberculosis, and impotence, goji berries are not used for treating illness or poor health, but rather to nourish the body... to support the body in healing itself by providing a startling array of extraordinary nutrients. Goji berries are perhaps the most nutritionally rich berry-fruit on the planet. Add to all those outstanding attributes the stabilization of hormones and increasing sexual function, well, you can just see why it's "up there" on my superfoods list!

Aloe Vera - Being that this particular plant is a succulent that is a native plant where I live, this one should probably be at the top of my list. I am the most familiar with this superfood, but honestly, there are going to be very few things to push chocolate from the top! hahahaha! Aloe is another antioxidant with an arsenal of vitamins. Among them are A, C, and E, the minerals sulfur, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and chromium as well as fiber, amino acids, enzymes, sterols, and lignins. With all of these amazing benefits, I think the one benefit that shines above all others for me is aloe's antimicrobial properties. With so many people plagued with digestive issues because of what is being put into our food (PLEASE go see Food Inc., in select theaters now), aloe might just be a life saver for many. The polysaccharides in aloe are converted by the human body into oligosaccharides, which protect the musosal lining of the digestive tract and have been shown to be effective in fighting back organisms such as Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough pathogen), E. coli strains, Heliobacter pylori and Streptococcus pneumoniae. And I haven't even talked about ALL of aloe's benefits. That's a pretty great resume for such a naturally beautiful plant that takes very little maintenance to grow where I live. Being that it's a succulent, it's one of those plants that needs very little water to grow and thrives in desert climates.

Well, hopefully from my list of faves, you can see that Superfoods by David Wolfe is the book to run and get. His book contains a list of his top ten with quite a few other "honorable mentions". Each superfood is accompanied with recipes, histories and benefits. There is also an appendix in the back with nutritional information on each superfood. This has already become my go-to book. I'm sure pages will be falling out shortly. They always do with super duper books, don't they? Mr. Wolfe, can you PLEASE make this into a spiral bound book?!? That would be soooo much easier! ;)

Seriously Mental

I am currently on day 21 of The Master Cleanse. Wow! Who would have ever thought that I could go so long without food? And I'm discovering a few perks to doing this. Last night a storm rolled in and I was unaffected! Typically, I would suffer a raging sinus headache, but I was fine. One of the super fun symptoms of detox during this cleanse is sinus drainage. Nice huh? Well, it turns out that it serves a purpose. If I never suffer another sinus migraine as a result of clouds and overcast (if that's the only benefit I got), it would be well worth doing this cleanse.

There are a couple of things that I have done periodically during this cleanse to help my body detox and I wanted to share those with anyone out there doing The Master Cleanse for their health (*which should be everyone). The first thing is the dry brushing. I have noticed that it really does get the blood flowing first thing in the morning and my skin is super soft! I love that part.

The second detox aid has been my detox baths. I fill my bathtub with really warm water (I actually make the water as hot as I can stand. But if you do it, please make sure that your water isn't hot enough to damage your skin), add two cups of baking soda and one cup of sea salt and soak for 20 minutes to a half hour. The benefit of this concoction is that poisons and toxins are drawn out. BE SURE that you are WELL hydrated before attempting this detox bath as it REALLY DOES work, and the toxins need to be able to travel to get eliminated. The only way for that to happen is in water that's in the body. If you are not well hydrated and rustle up those toxins that have a hard time traveling to be eliminated, you will get super sick. Unfortunately, I had to learn that lesson the hard way. This detox bath is good to do on a regular basis to keep your body healthy and free of toxins. But be careful, doing the bath too often will cause your skin to be very dry. I always say to use your best judgement. Some people can do this detox bath more frequently than others. For me, I am doing the bath twice a week and then will probably only do it once a month once I'm done with this cleanse. Well, that is until I do the cleanse again 6 months from now.

I hope these tips help everyone out there either on The Master Cleanse, or getting ready to do it.
*Please make sure that you consult your doctor before performing any method of detox, be it diet, dry brushing or bathing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Read Your Labels, Stay Informed

After watching Food Inc. in HORROR of the fact that large food companies are getting themselves appointed to the VERY regulatory government seats that are supposed to regulate their safety practices, it occurs to me how important it is to stay informed America! That means removing the rose colored glasses and realizing that your government DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH! Realize that your health is ONLY your responsibility... NO ONE is going to care for you but you. So a good place to start is to simply read labels. Make sure that the food you are buying is organic. If you are buying food labelled "natural" or "all natural", chances are you are buying chemically tainted food.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates and defines food labeling as follows: Natural - Food labeled "natural," according to the USDA definition, does not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives and the ingredients are only minimally processed. However, they may contain antibiotics, growth hormones, and other similar chemicals.

All Natural: The USDA does not define foods labeled "all natural" as any different than those labeled "natural." Foods with this labeling are probably not any different than "natural" foods and may not be regulated as they are not defined by the USDA. ~ What Do Food Labels Really Mean

For those of you who did just remove those rose colored glasses, there are a few things that you need to understand while staying informed. 1) Big companies have already positioned themselves in government seats to gain control of regulations. 2) Large companies are now buying up the small companies that were once so devoted to real all natural and organic products. Prime example is Clorox who purchased Burt's Bees. Yes, America! Burt's Bees is actually Clorox. 3) The regulations and laws being written are leading to government and big company profits... NOT to your health. And finally, please keep in mind that they have ALREADY defined "natural" and "all natural" as being able to contain harmful chemicals and toxins. It makes perfect sense that they WILL do that to "organic" as well, now that they are seeing the consumer switch and are in the powerful government seats to do so. In my opinion, that is the EXACT reason they are gaining control of predominantly "organic" and "all natural" companies and operating "under the radar". They are positioning themselves so that when they REDEFINE "organic"... they will already be in position to control the marketplace. Consumers will not be able to help but purchase their poisons. Please America... just stay informed.

From here on out I WILL be staying away from ANYTHING labelled "USDA ORGANIC" opting instead for food items listed as "100% ORGANIC" only. After seeing Food Inc.... the USDA means nothing to me regarding my health and safety.

Must Watch FOOD INC.

I just watched the GREATEST movie that I have seen this year. It was entertaining, informative and honestly had me glued to my seat. I did leave the theater with a question in the back of my mind as to whether Ms. Oprah Winfrey has seen it though because clips of her super famous "beef" case made a cameo. I hope she has seen it, in fact I hope that she screams to world what a 'must see' this movie really is. It is not unknown that recommendations from Ms. Winfrey is like money in the bank. However, this particular movie is so much more important than that and if ANYTHING deserves Ms. Winfrey's recommendation... it is THIS movie. I am still in shock and I honestly think that I might go see it again. I TRULY hope I see you all there. This is probably one of the most important movies Americans can see right now. It will make you realize that healthcare reform really isn't as big an issue for Americans as Americans think.... we really should be focusing our energy on reform that will change the need for healthcare in the first place. This movie gets some serious high fives!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Banana Cupcakes

Here is a REALLY yummy and healthy recipe for Banana Cupcakes! This is a cake batter that is made from scratch, but is super easy. It makes me wonder why we don't make cakes from scratch anymore!

Banana Cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 Cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 Cup agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 small zucchini julienned
  • 3/4 Cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 Cups mashed banana
  • 3/4 Cup raisins (optional)
  • 3/4 Cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup flax meal (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together; set aside. Mix the agave nectar or maple syrup and applesauce together. Beat the eggs into the wet mixture. Stir the banana, zucchini, raisins and walnuts into the wet mixture. Add wet mixture to the dry and mix well. Fill cupcake wells 3/4 full and bake for 30-35 minutes. Batter can also be placed into into a 13 x 9-inch pan and baked for about an hour for an amazing cake.

Here is a great option for your cupcakes! How about a sweet, natural glaze?

Glaze

2-3 Tbsp room temperature spring water
2 Tbsp organic maple syrup
1/2 Cup sucanat powder

Blend ingredients together (I use the Magic Bullet)until sucanat is dissolved. Dip each cupcake top into the glaze mixture and allow to dry.

I hope everyone enjoys this healthy dessert.

Props to IKEA

A while back I completed a closet conversion for my scrapbook addiction. I was so proud of the workability in such a small space that I wrote a blog post on it (you can see it here). Well, since then I was honored to be asked to do it for someone else. So again, with the same sense of awe with what you can really do in such a small space... here is MY SECOND closet conversion done for Ms. Betty! And while my own closet was strictly for scrapbooking (yes, I installed lighting and even a table top), this new closet conversion was for general craft storage. I also want to say, and I've said it before, IKEA rocks! Most everything came from IKEA. It took me three days to complete and cost about $300 start to finish, INCLUDING the mobile, expandable sewing cart (look familiar?), shelving and storage tubs. The sewing cart runs about $125. The only storage items that were pre-existing were the black four drawer chest and a couple of tubs that you see on the upper shelves.

Because of Ms. Betty's various unfinished craft projects located in various parts of her craft room and throughout her house (usually buried), I shortened and reversed the direction of the hanger rail to accommodate two vinyl drawer centers (IKEA). One is large for larger projects and one is smaller for smaller ones. That way, when she wants to complete a project, all she has to do is pull a drawer and everything for that one project is at her fingertips. And returning the drawer to the organizer (when the project is not being worked on) is super easy. Because the drawers are vinyl, sticker labels can be used to label each drawer and then removed when the project is completed.
Being that the back corner of the closet is generally unusable, I put three tubs with angled, hinged lids (IKEA) for easy access to stored items in the tubs without having to pull everything out of the closet to access.
Labelled tubs (IKEA and Fry's Marketplace) keep all the different craft tools separate and easy
to find. Sewing tools have one box, embroidery tools in another, knitting tools in another... you see where I'm going with this. And the different size tubs accommodate it all.
Vertical storage is my favorite storage of all. Anything that you can put up on a wall means it's easy to find and out of the way. I hung (hangers from Ace Hardware) the yardsticks up on the wall. Since they don't get used often, they had a tendency to get buried. Now they are in plain sight, out of the way and located next to the sewing machine where they will get used when needed.

Because serious crafters (like Ms. Betty) have a plethora of ity bity, teeny tiny items to store, this hardware organizer from Ace Hardware was perfect! Simple labels on the exterior of each mini drawer makes even the smallest items easy to find. And again, utilizes vertical space.

Well, this closet was an easy one and Ms. Betty expressed her amazement that now all of her crafting items are so easily located. She went through a couple of days of some serious organization and purging, but I know that she feels it was all worth it. There's a certain kind of Feng Shui happening in that craft room now, comfy and cozy!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Raw Tacos!

Here's a little something special that I whipped up this week for my in-laws. I am on the master cleanse right now, so you can appreciate the ENORMOUS discipline and focus to get these made because they looked (and smelled) so freakin good!!! I got the recipe inspiration from my absolute favorite raw food recipe book: Raw Food Real World. If you start these in the morning, they can be done start to finish in about 12 hours (total dehydration time). My advice is to prepare the corn tortilla batter and the "bean/meat" batter one right after the other in the food processor and then dehydrate both at the same time. That shrinks the actual preparation time so that your time in the kitchen is only about 45 minutes.

To start: Defrost 3 cups of frozen organic corn (you can also cut the kernels off of 3 ears of corn), soak 1 1/2 Cups of sunflower seeds in natural spring water for 2 hours and soak 1 Cup of sundried tomatoes in natural spring water for about one hour. Then take a break! Whew! Once the defrosting and soaking is complete, you can begin the corn tortillas and the "beans/meat".

Corn Tortillas

  • 3 Cups defrosted organic corn kernels
  • 1 Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell Pepper
  • 3/4 Cup golden flaxseed finely ground (I used the dark seed cuz that's what I had)
  • 2 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 Tbsp ground chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
In food processor, chop corn and bell pepper. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Place mixture in a bowl and set aside.

Spicy Beans

  • 1 1/2 Cups soaked sunflower seeds
  • 1 Cup soaked sundried tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp dark miso
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder (less if you are sensitive to this spice)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 6 Tbsp spring water
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1 small handful fresh cilantro
In food processor, grind the sunflower seeds, tomatoes, miso, cumin, chili powder, coriander, cayenne, olive oil, agave nectar, and sea salt until thoroughly combined. Add water a few tablespoons at a time and process further for a wet dough-like consistency. Add jalapeno, onions and cilantro and pulse a few times to combine ingredients.

Dehydrating
Spread out the "bean" mixture onto a Teflex-lined dehydrator tray. It does not have to be perfect... just spread it out enough to fit under another tray (see pic). Dehydrate for 10 hours at 115 degrees flipping the "bean" mixture over about halfway through. Ultimately, you want both sides dry and the middle creamy. When dehydration is complete, break up the mixture into pieces.

The corn tortilla batter can be completed two ways. By spreading the batter out over a Teflex-lined dehydrator tray evenly and then cut into rounds when dehydration is complete.... or you can do them like I did and just spread them into rounds on the Teflex. The book's method makes for a more uniform and thin corn tortilla shell, but I really like the thicker shells, so I'll show you how I made mine. Dehydrate for 6 hours at 115 degrees, carefully peeling and flipping the tortillas at the four hour mark so that the underside can dehydrate for the last two hours. Right after I took mine out of the dehydrator, I hung the tortillas over an empty paper towel tube to cool and to form the taco shell shape.

During Dehydration
During dehydration I prepared guacamole and pico de gallo that sat in the fridge until the "beans" were done. Once they were done, it was time for assembly and chow time!

Guacamole

  • 3 ripe avocados pitted
  • 1 large handful cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/4 Cup diced onion

Process avocados, lime juice and garlic in food processor until smooth. Add cilantro and onion and pulse to combine ingredients. Place in fridge until ready to serve.

Pico de Gallo

  • 3 small tomatoes diced with juice
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 small handful cilantro diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 jalapeno diced
In a bowl combine all ingredients and stir. Place in fridge until ready to serve.

These turned out amazing! My in-laws loved them and I know my house STILL smells like a fiesta is going on in there! Ole!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

PLAYTIME!!!

Well, as I mentioned yesterday, I have a new toy for the toybox. I talk quite a bit about making exercise fun. Among my "toys" are super fun dvds (Turbo Jam is my favie), a stability ball, a frisbee, a jump rope.... these are all pretty much fun activity tools that warp me back to my childhood. Well get ready readers cuz I just got the mack-daddy for playtime! THE URBAN REBOUNDER!!!

Wow! Is this thing FUN! And it folds to fit in a suitcase. This is some serious travel workout equipment. I cannot keep my hands off of it! I forgot how much I loved jumping! But beyond fun, it gets your heart rate up, is super low impact and surprisingly helps to cleanse your lymph system. Talk about your health benefits! Nothing else I own claims that kind of benefit. Here's a site that explains the detox benefit: http://www.healingdaily.com/exercise/rebounding-for-detoxification-and-health.htm.

Just so everyone knows, I got it off of HSN.com for $99. It came with exercise dvds, a stability bar and resistance bands. And again, THIS THING FOLDS DOWN (folds in half, then in half AGAIN)! I can easily put it into my suitcase with room for clothes. Oh, and one more thing, you can put it on flex pay and receive it at your house for around $33 AND there's FREE shipping AND it's just soooo much fun! Did I mention that? The instructions say to have two people to fold it up as it snaps into place when you open it, but I've opened and closed mine by myself quite a few times with no problem. This Urban Rebounder gets a super sonic high five from me.... PLAYTIME!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How To Love Exercise

Wow... what a title huh!?! It's true though according to Jay Kimiecik, "Intrinsic Exercise" is the way to get there. According to me... HE'S DEAD ON! But I think there is a variable missing from his theory: the individual's present health.

For years I have been on a quest to rehab my body from my past poor diet and exercise habits to the toxic chemicals doctors prescribed to me for years after I sustained an injury. These factors and more led to chronic fatigue, and were quickly snowballing into other serious conditions. I was in a very bad toxic way. Can anyone out there relate? While during most of these rehab years I did exercise, it was always a "something I have to do" and not "something I GET to do" because I just didn't feel good. Toxicity can be paralyzing. But a year and a half ago, things changed. I had just completed my third Master Cleanse and decided to incorporate raw food into my diet in a major way. I suddenly felt wonderful. I suddenly WANTED to move because I COULD move. So I joined a gym and made a commitment to exercise daily. And I have, for the most part, and am enjoying the benefits greatly; I became what Jay calls an Intrinsic Exerciser. But I had to get a handle on my health first.

According to Jay there are four stages: personal meaning orientation, mastery, inner synergy and flow. I would like to add my own stage to that, one that I believe needs to be the first step: personal health gauge. You can click on the link above to read how each of the four stages leads to loving exercise (it's sooo good), but here I want to cover the personal health gauge.

While I do advise talking to a doctor before starting any diet/exercise program, and getting a physical, I also advise listening to yourself. While doctors have had many years of medical school and know what you do not, I also believe that you have lived in your body for as long as there has been "your body" and you know what no doctor can because only you are inside. So how do you feel? Are you beyond tired? Is it more like exhaustion? Are you achy and irritable? Those are all signs of toxicity. That alone can keep you from achieving optimum health and there is no pill to correct it. The only way to remove toxins is to cleanse and detox. I personally have found that the toxins can override my will. That's where the Master Cleanse comes in (it is my cleanse of choice). Once I started cleaning out the toxins, I found that I WANTED to eat right and exercise. I got back that child-like energy to want to run and play. I will definitely be doing another blog post on "playtime" as I have added a new "toy" to the toybox. All I'm trying to say here is, get a handle on your health. It may just ensure your love for exercise. Making exercise fun doesn't hurt either!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Care Reform

I can't help but wonder about this health care reform issue. There are so many issues to consider, but for me the first and foremost is the fact that EVERYTHING the government has promised the American people (when going against America's wishes) has not worked. A LOT of promises were made that have not come to fruition (fraudulent in my opinion). At this point anything regarding health care reform, coming from the government, can it be believed? Can we expect just more empty promises with self servicing agendas attached? I keep hearing over and over that the American public isn't listening, but in reality, it's that the government can't be trusted. Like any other relationship like that, it is toxic and needs to be purged.

Now beyond my personal belief that the government NEEDS to be overturned, I have a stronger belief that it is up to ALL of us to STOP being dependent on our government or insurance companies to take care of us. Both are businesses and corruptly run as such. Our personal health care NEEDS to start at home. How can we even begin to talk about the importance of health care when our obesity rate is through the roof, when smoking and drinking are still legal but suicide is not.... aren't they all one in the same? Aren't they all just a difference in timing? And I know... some of you will say, "But studies show that red wine is beneficial." I contend that it's what is in the grapes that is beneficial. You want the benefits... eat the raw grapes. What real purpose does alcohol serve if everyone is focusing on prevention and living a healthy lifestyle? What individual responsibility do we have in the matter? I say quite a bit! We have relied on pill popping and quick fixes that have reduced our quality of life greatly. ALL OF IT encouraged by our government AND insurance companies! Why? Remember, they are a business; they are motivated by YOUR dollar. Most of us are not living, but staying alive from day to day. We have an opportunity to turn things around personally as a nation. This panic over health care reform should be a wake up call that we are looking to the wrong sources for our health. The corrupt government has already shown that YOU (the people of America) are only looked upon to fund their special interests. YOUR health is not their concern.... but is it yours either?

Please America, turn this ship around! YOU will not even pay the highest price... your children will.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Revelation

Well, I am on day 8 of the master cleanse and reading more and more information about the health benefits of a prolonged fast. A prolonged fast seemed impossible to me just a few short years ago when I first did The Master Cleanse. Honestly, I didn't think I'd make it the first day. But here I am doing it again, and I feel fantastic. I have energy and an amazing realization that I am a recovering food addict. But I also realize, biochemically, I wasn't the only one. Because the processed foods that we eat CREATE food addicts.

Unbalanced sugars (man made) wreak havoc on our systems, causing deficits that lead to cravings that lead to eating more unbalanced sugars. It really IS a vicious cycle. But balanced sugars are complete and whole and don't break down our bodily systems, instead, they build them up. The sugars I'm talking about are the sugars we get from fresh fruit and vegetables. You don't hear about people being addicted to either (although I swear I am addicted to blueberries sometimes). I had this revelation when I completed the cleanse last year... at least I had an idea, one that I couldn't quite put into words. I began to incorporate raw food into my diet and notice that I was feeling better and better. But with this cleanse, I'm really beginning to pin-point the battle so many of us have with food. Knowledge really is power, and overcoming food addiction is even more! Here's the amazing article that has provided quite a bit of clarity for me and inspired this revelation: Your Food Addiction Is Great For Business. The beauty of prolonged fasting is that my body will correct (heal) these food inflicted imbalances. Every time I do The Master Cleanse is another opportunity to start fresh. That's really the beauty of fasting on a whole... achieving homeostatic balance. Wow... quite a revelation!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Maple Syrup vs. Honey

I did a post a while back about the nutritious sweetener for the lemonade on the Master Cleanse: maple syrup! In fact, for quite some time now it has been my only sweetner (well, that and agave nectar... YUM!). But why maple syrup... isn't honey the magical sweetener?

First, let's consider where both come from. One comes from a tree and the other comes from flowers, but is predigested and then regurgitated by a bee. Can you guess which is which??? hahahaha! Really though, just the idea that an insect's already digested nectar from a flower lends to the idea that the nectar is already devoid of nutrients when it's vomited back up. Isn't that the whole point of digestion? To pull the nutrients from whatever it is you have ingested. So is it safe to say that honey is a bi product? Or even a waste material? I would certainly call MY vomit a waste material... what about you? But beyond the gross visual I now have in my head of honey, I also have a real concern about using honey as a sweetener.

Here is what I understand about honey. Being that honey is already predigested, it enters the blood stream rapidly causing a spike in blood sugar which then causes a spike in insulin. For being something that I hear soooo much about in the health food circles, I'm truly surprised that it seems to be the exact opposite of healthy or balanced to me.

Now, organic maple syrup on the other hand is LOADED with goodness to actually promote health. It is PACKED with vitamins and minerals, is low in calories and is far less easier to digest than honey.... because it hasn't already been digested once! YUCK! What that means is that your body burns calories to digest it... that sounds pretty good to my waistline!

Yah, I think that I would take maple syrup over honey any day for my diet. That's not to say that honey doesn't have it's place though... check out this great blog post with some great beauty ideas using honey!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

OOOO I Love A Good Project!

Could you imagine living a life that is garbage free???? Wow! There are people doing it! In a previous blog post, I talked about the pretty small changes I'm making to make my world a better place, but then I read about these people who are REALLY making a difference and it truly blows me away. I mean to the point that I too want to make a difference too.

Well, there is yet another couple who is working to rid their lives of garbage for one whole year. I would think that after a year of learning how to live garbage-free, that it would just become a way off life. And maybe that's what they're hoping for. That's what I'm hoping FOR them! :)

They just started their Green Garbage Project last month (in July) and will be sharing weekly how the efforts are going. What perfect timing! They expect to have tips and tricks to share, so it will certainly be worth tuning in. I'm hoping that they talk about the ENTIRE process: the good, the bad... and the ugly! I really want to hear about the transformation. And with the obesity crisis in America... I AM curious to find out if a garbage free lifestyle lends itself to a "thinner" life. No one has talked about that (please correct me if I'm wrong) and I would love to know if one has something to do with the other. My husband and I had a discussion about the topic of our trash after I first heard about this couple and he said that he clearly remembers having, maybe, two bags of trash a week... and that was in a household of 6 KIDS! Now some areas pick up trash twice a week with completely full trash cans. I'm seeing that the garbage is a little out of hand.
I gotta tell you... their story and others like it, have me so inspired. I REALLY want to share their journey! In fact... here's a little goodie to get us all started! A newspaper origami trash can liner (or a recycle bin liner)... diagram here. I really hope that this couple changes everyone's minds and everyone's lives! What a wonderful project to save the earth and bring a couple closer together! This couple has some serious bonding ahead! LOL! This post really is ALL ABOUT Fun and Mental Changes!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Soaptopia at Whole Foods

Sorry about all the "Master Cleanse" posts, but since not eating is kind of consuming my life today... I find myself unable to think about anything else to blog about. But this blog post is really great with a super master cleanse tip and a mega HIGH FIVE product.

Most anyone completing a cleanse knows that while one's body is detoxing, there is often an unpleasant body odor that accompanies until your system in clean. But the reality is that I don't want my husband to know about this odor... if you know what I mean. Enter Soaptopia!

Every time I have ever done the Master Cleanse, I have made it a point to only use all-natural toothpaste, shampoos and soaps. Since I'm trying to get unhealthy chemicals and toxins out of my body, it never made sense to put more back in while doing it. Unfortunately it's very hard to mask BO without chemicals... well, until now! I was at Whole Foods today to pick up some Master Cleanse staples and bumped into a display table with a clerk showing what looked like decadent cakes of all colors, shapes and sizes which would have been THE LAST thing I needed after not eating anything for four days. But the clerk caught me by saying, "they smell wonderful." I didn't hear a thing about taste... huh, she said smell... Oh! Soap! "They're hand made and all-natural", she added. Wow! Just in the nick of time! I'm about 2 days away from some serious BO... this soap deserved some checking out. They WERE a little pricey at $1.49/oz., but since I was paying by the ounce, I decided to pick a couple of small (yet strongly perfumed) blocks. Each block had a sign posted with every ingredient... all of which I could have eaten right then and there. Stupid cleanse! HA! I ended up getting a lemongrass bar and a frankincense and myrrh bar and rushed home to take a shower. That was at about 9 a.m. this morning. It is now about 7 p.m. and I STILL smell the frankincense and myrrh on me. This soap ROCKS and I will use it long after I'm finished with the cleanse. Just really great stuff that's really great for you. I can't believe that I'm actually going to smell pretty while doing the Master Cleanse! Yay!

Itsa Spicay!

Most "Lemon Heads" know that The Master Cleanse includes a lemonade made with cayenne pepper. I know that lemon is a cleaning agent as well as breaks up mucus (sorry... kind of gross), but what about the benefits of the cayenne? I mean, come on! Cayenne pepper in lemonade, that can't be good... can it? YES! It not only tastes good, but is so good for you. There's just something about that sweet and spicy mix that just really works. Ask any culinary guru... they'll tell you.

So, I just finished reading The Healing Power of Cayenne Pepper by Dr. Patrick Quillin because, while doing this cleanse, I just HAD to know... "Why cayenne pepper?". Wow... GREAT book! It's not a thick book at all, but is FILLED with wonderful homeopathic uses for cayenne pepper. From allergies and asthma to obesity to ulcers (yes, I said ulcers), this book has got some amazing information in it. And while I certainly appreciated practical information to increase one's health, this book actually shifted a paradigm. It mentions picturing a pool pump trying to process yogurt instead of pool water. That is what our hearts are trying to do with blood that is sludgy from our high fat American diets. Most of us are dehydrated most of the time and with a sedentary lifestyle... well, our poor hearts! I honestly never thought of it that way. This book gave me a driven ZEST to finish this cleanse. Especially now that I know all the wonderful benefits of cayenne pepper.

psst! It helps to thin the blood among many, many other things. Happy reading! This one gets a definite "High Five"!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pyromaniac

Yep... just another one of the terms of endearment that my husband uses to describe me... what can I say, I love candles! As a matter of fact he doesn't just leave it at that, he adds (when telling people about my love for candles) that the house goes up 40 degrees when I light them. Whatever! He loves my candles and the warmth they give during the winter months is magical.

Candles really ARE magical! They are associated with granting wishes. Whether we burn candles while petitioning God or blowing out the candles on our birthday cake... those candles symbolize our prayers going to heaven. Yah, I'd say that's pretty magical!

So today I'm going to share some of the magic with a little craft project that I made a while ago. The pillar candle that I used is a PartyLite pillar candle. PartyLite is my candle of choice because they burn so cleanly and because the melted wax doesn't burn the skin... LOVE THEM! I also used some sale items I got at my local craft store. I picked up two bundles of what looked like dingey weeds that had some grapes attached. I think I spent about $1.50 for each bundle. I bought the hurricane lamp (vase) for about $10 and the wood base (it is literally a wood disc) for about $3. You can also use a plate for the base... I would recommend a thick plastic. Either way, make sure whatever you use as your base can hold glue easily without peeling. I first tried hot glue, but hot glue is a little too pliable for this project.
When this project is complete, the base (and the glue used) will not be seen once the arrangement is put together. I cut up the "weed" bundles, placed the hurricane lamp in the center and began gluing the greenery pieces to the wood base around the lamp. I ended up using Gorilla Glue. But be careful if you decide to use this glue; while the glue is super strong and pretty permanent, it does expand while it dries. It also dries to a very unattractive yellow color. So if you use more than a dab of Gorilla Glue, you are in for some problems. Luckily, I ended up with only one little streak of the glue that ran down one side and it can't be seen hidden under the foliage. Also, anytime working with Gorilla Glue, be sure to wear dish gloves and use a stick to apply the dabs of glue. This glue is very powerful and DOES NOT wash off... that's why I love it! The glue takes about a day to dry and dries pretty stiffly which makes it so the lamp can be removed, but the foliage stays stiff enough to keep the lamp in place.
With my kitchen having the "grape" theme... what started out as some dingey grape "weeds" turned into the perfect beautiful centerpiece for my table. Also, because the foliage is so dingey, I am able to coordinate this arrangement in just about any room of my home because the greenery is not "too" anything (green or purple or grey or brown). I hope you all have fun with this one. And if you're looking for other great candle centerpieces... here are some great ideas.

A Fast Spiritual Connection

Yesterday, I blogged about my Master Cleanse journey... the fifth time around. It got me REALLY thinking about fasting for spiritual connection and, of course, took me to my Bible. As I stated yesterday, I first did the cleansing for health and found something more. :)

So after looking through my concordance, searching my Bible and hopping online (I found this REALLY great site), I've come to some conclusions. Fasting seems to me to have been something that was done when making requests to God and also something that was done in thanksgiving after the fact. Fasting was also done in preparation for coming events. Why? Why all the fasting? And why is fasting deemed so unhealthy in today's day and age? Why do people shy away from something that sounds pretty "normal practice" to me.

Exodus 34:28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
I honestly don't know what to say hear... no water for forty days? That is some supernatural, kill-anyone-else kind of fasting! But this is certainly a clear example of fasting for connection with God (if not fasting WHILE connected to God).

Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.
Clearly this fast was for a request to God as well as preparation for their journey. I'm diggin the humbling part!

Deuteronomy 9:9 When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water.
Wow! That was some serious fasting! Do you think God gave him lemonade? :)

1Kings 19:8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
So, was that a fast of necessity? I mean, Elijah was already connected to God. An angel SPOKE to him twice telling him to eat prior to the 40 day journey to Horeb... the journey where he fasted. Did he drink? I wonder. Surely he would have to making a forty day journey on just two servings of cake!

Daniel 9:3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.
Another instance of someone fasting for direct connection with God. So is fasting some sort of super highway? It must be. Joel 1:14 Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.

Matthew 4:2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Just after this scripture, "the tempter" tempted Jesus with a loaf of bread. Jesus knew that if he would have eaten the bread, after forty days of not eating, he probably would have puked his guts up. I mean really... you can't jump on solid food like that after forty days! Only people who fast know how sick you can get on solid food when eaten too quickly after going so long without it. Stupid tempter!

Matthew 6:16 And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others.
Welp! I can honestly say, The Master Cleanse fixes that. Most of the time I have more energy fasting than I did before I started the cleanse. And I can certainly say that the feeling of "Zen" feels terrific! Why would anyone disfigure their faces? Oh! That's right... they probably didn't know about The Master Cleanse back then...hahahahaha!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Fifth Time's The Charm

I am a HUGE fan of fasting for health, but what about those who fast for spiritual connection? Was I always a fan of fasting? No! As a matter of fact, there was a time when I thought I would never be able to fast at all. First of all, I LOVE food and second, I usually get sick if I skip meals. So when my sister introduced me to The Master Cleanse, explaining that the lemonade that is utilized for the cleanse is consumed throughout the day providing calories and energy, I was seriously on board.

The first time that I tried The Master Cleanse, I was amazed at how easy it was... and how hard. I obsessed about food the first three days of the fast, but realized that I never felt hungry. There were days of super low energy and days that I felt like I could move a mountain. And I suppose I was moving a mountain because by day seven I was in utter shock that I had gone that many days without eating. But what was really interesting is that I discovered why people fast for spiritual connection.

By day four of the fast, I felt a very odd sense of peace... the only word I can use to describe how I felt was "Zen". I have never felt anything like it and the feeling was enough to make me want to do the cleanse again a year later. The second time I did the cleanse, I traded out my soap, shampoo and toothpaste with all natural (non toxic) products. A year after that, I did the cleanse and afterward Incorporated raw food into my diet. About a year after that, I did the cleanse again, always hitting "Zen" by day four. THIS TIME, on top of everything that I had done in previous years, I will be exercising daily and meditating daily. My meditation time will be devoted to connection with God. I will pray and work to capitalize on the Zen experience. If it has served others before me... I want to learn how. Let's see if the fifth time's the charm! Has anyone else out there done the Master Cleanse? Do you reach "Zen"? Anyone choose the Master Cleanse for spiritual fasting?