Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where's the Protein??

As a person who eats a high raw food diet and especially when I am juicing, the most frequent question I am asked is where do you get your protein? I want to address this in the post today and I think you might be quite surprised at the answer!

First let me begin by explaining exactly what the term protein means. Protein is one of the 3 major food groups essential for growth and health. Protein provides the building blocks of our body, is vital for energy, and is very much needed to make hormones, enzymes, tissues, and antibodies. Protein is basically made up of amino acids. All foods contain amino acids. Our body makes all of these amino acids but a few. The few that we do not make are considered essential and must be obtained from what is traditionally considered a "complete" source such as meat, eggs, and fish. Other sources such as grains, nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are considered "incomplete"proteins because they do not contain all the amino acids needed in the body. So it seems as if we can only get the proper amount of protein that we need from animal products, correct?? No this is not correct!

By eating a variety of whole, natural, unprocessed foods your body can get the daily amount of protein that it needs and thrive. There are numerous vegan and raw triathletes, athletes, and body builders out there that are using what nature gave us to feed their bodies. In fact Americans tend to overeat in the protein department consuming 2 - 3 times higher than the recommended daily allowances. Too much protein can cause lots of health issues such as constipation, sweet cravings, low energy, and weight gain. Too little protein can also cause lots of health issues such as sugar and sweet cravings, fatigue, weight loss, and poor skin color.

Now allow me tell you about one of nature's most best kept secrets, the most important food group our body needs, and the most overlooked in the entire American diet. Can you guess what it is?? It is dark leafy greens!!!

So now you might ask what are dark leafy greens? These are things such as broccoli, bok choy, napa cabbage, savoy cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe aka brocolini and rapini, dandelion, mesclun, green cabbage, arugula, endive, chicory, lettuces, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, and wild greens. I believe as others that this should be a whole separate food group because of their importance.

Dark leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses as they are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and Vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are chock full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Not to mention that they also may often contain more absorbable "protein" than animal sources.

Victoria Boutenko has done a lot of major research in her book Green For Life. In her research she found that eating a wide variety of dark leafy greens provides all the essential amino acids that we need. In addition T. Colin Campbell in his book the China Study also refers to the abundant amount of essential amino acids in greens. Both sources report that the body completely absorbs all of these amino acids better than they do the amino acids found in the traditional animal sources. So contrary to the traditional belief, dark leafy greens contain plenty of protein and our bodies can process it more efficiently. But here's the kicker, you do need to eat these in large amounts and with variety. How can anyone eat 1 - 2 lbs of dark leafy greens a day? Simple, juices containing lots of dark leafy greens and/or drinking a green smoothie every day.

What are Green Smoothies? A green smoothie is a blend of organic fruit and green leafy vegetables. Most people start with 60% fruit and 40 % greens. Place your fruit and vegetables into a blender with 2 cups of pure water and blend until smooth. You will have a quick, nutritious drink that can be used as a meal replacement or a nice refreshing beverage.

Green smoothies usually have a bright green color and taste great!! I personally try to have at least one per day. When I do I have more energy, my skin is smoother, my sleep is better, and I feel fabulous. I've listed one of my favorite green smoothie recipes here.

Green Smoothie Recipe:
Mango Heaven
1 1/2 c frozen mango or 1 large or 2 small fresh mangos
2 really ripe bananas (brown spots)
2 handfuls of spinach
1 T cinnamon
2 cups of purified water, spring water, or coconut water

If using a high speed blender such as a Vita Mix place all ingredients in blender and blend for about 1 minute. If using another blender it is suggested that you chop the spinach first and then mix the spinach and water of choice for a few seconds before adding the fruit. This will give you a smoother consistency. Makes approx. 1 quart. Remember, you can pretty much mix any combination of fruit and green together sticking to the 60% fruit and 40% green. You might find after awhile that becomes too sweet and reverse it.

Drinking one quart of green smoothie a day can help to provide much needed minerals to the body which are necessary for bone growth, blood purification, and other functions in our body. Other benefits include helping to prevent cancer, regulating blood sugar, weight loss, improving digestion, strengthening of the immune system, clearing up congestion, and eliminating sugar cravings. They are tasty, easy and quick to make and clean up from and what a great way to start the day. Better than a bagel and coffee. They also are a great afternoon snack at 3:00 pm when you are getting that after lunch crash!
Are you ready to get your green on? What kind of green smoothie will you make? Let us know if you do and how you feel after one week of consuming green smoothies daily!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

JuiceFeast Day 21

Today is day 21 of my 92 day JuiceFeast!! Some of you have been asking how are things going, what am I feeling, how's the media fast going, etc... So I wanted to answer those questions for you.

As I've mentioned before this is my 2nd 92 day juice feast. What I have really paid attention to the last couple of days is that in some ways this one is a little harder than the last one. As someone pointed out to me the novelty is no longer there. I know what to expect this time around. What I've struggled with is that I have wanted to try some new raw food recipes that sound really delicious. So it's been very hard to kind of restrain myself from that. So when I see them I just go have a juice or eat my bee pollen and I'm good. Other than that it has been very easy for me.

I also reflected back on my first two weeks as to how I felt and what I experienced. The first week I had some trouble sleeping around day 4 or 5. I kept waking up, having some really vivid dreams, and I would wake up early. I felt rested and had plenty of energy throughout the day but I was ready for bed early! I also spent a couple of days that first weekend really not doing much, I slept 10 hours one day!! And those of you that know me, know that doesn't ever happen. But after that first weekend sleep and energy leveled out. I also felt like I was detoxing on a deeper level than I did the first time. I did have a day that first weekend in which I felt weepy all day. Also between day 4 and day 9 I felt like I had a very short tolerance level for ignorance, stupid actions, and absolutely no patience with anything or anybody. Thankfully that all leveled out quickly. As I ended week 2 and weighed myself I had lost a total of 9.5 lbs. As I said that is not the intention of this feast but it is definitely an added bonus!!!

Now for the media fast! That has been quit an eye opener. I notice that I am no longer involved in any of the daily drama associated around the propaganda that we are often fed. Which is the viewpoint of a particular person on any given day of any news events. I'm not being bombarded by advertisements for any medications for any disease I might have, told what miracle weight loss supplement is out there, or to buy food that I wouldn't eat anyway or that is going to cause be to have bad health. Although I do have to admit that sometimes those commercials would trigger cravings, like pizza ! I feel like I'm in my own little world where there is nothing but peace, great health, and good weather. No tragedies or drama. While I know that isn't true it has certainly made me feel much lighter and better than when I watch this stuff. I'm also getting all sorts of projects done around the house, I'm reading more, and I'm spending more time outside and in my garden. It's been very relaxing, peaceful, and productive to be unplugged. I would like to challenge you to try for one weekend and see how you feel. Don't watch any TV, get online on facebook, browse the internet, or anything like that for three days. Notice how your sleep is, what your mood is like, what you discover and let me know through your comments.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why is it a JuiceFeast?

In my last post I mentioned that I was doing my 2nd 92 day Juicefeast and why. What I did not mention was what exactly is a juicefeast. I wanted to take a little bit of time to explain what it is I'm doing and the protocol I'm following. My main resource is a wonderful website put together by David Rainoshek called http://www.juicefeasting.com/. This website has tons of free information on a juicefeast, length of time, how to come off a juicefeast, how to make juices, etc... You can also buy a membership to do a juicefeast and get coaching. If you choose this option there is even more scientifically based material that is available. So how does this work? I begin my day with a quart of water containing the juice of one lemon and MSM. I drink this while I actually make 4 quarts of fresh, revitalizing, nourishing juice. This is why this is a feast and not a fast. I'm juicing 10 - 12 lbs. of produce daily. One quart is usually fruit based while the other 3 quarts are lots of fresh greens and vegetables. Occassionally I may add an apple in there. It usually takes me between 1 1/2 - 2 hours to completely make my juice, clean up the equipment, and clean up the kitchen. Then I'm done in the kitchen for the day. I will then drink a quart of juice every 3 - 4 hours just as if I was having a meal. Some of my juices may contain superfoods such as maca or a good quality greens mix containing algaes and chlorella. I also will often drink the water from a fresh young Thai coconut. A JuiceFeast can last anywhere from 1 day to 92 days and as I have previously stated can be very beneficial to the body. When you are doing a juicefeast you are basically letting your digestion system rest. This happens because for food to be digested and used in the body it has to be broken down and what can be used separated from what can't be used. With juice there is no pulp or fiber to digest therefore, the nutrients are absorbed effortlessly. This allows the body to then kind of give itself a tune up. The body continues all the metabolic, catabolic, and other functions but at a much more efficient rate and effectiveness. The body can then kind of scan to see what is there that doesn't belong and it gets swept away into the intestines and eliminated. An additional benefit is that with the amount of greens that you are juicing the body becomes more alkaline. You might ask what does this mean for me? The Standard American Diet is a highly acidic diet with all the refined carbohydrates, preservatives, food additives, etc. When one eats a diet consistent of these types of products it can increase inflammation, pain, and disease in the body. In fact many degenerative diseases and illness can be linked to poor diet. Dark leafy greens in particular help to make the body more alkaline. Therefore it is possible to see a reduction in joint pain, back pain, allergy symptoms, cysts, tumors, nodules, etc. Skin becomes more youthful, vibrant, and flexible. In addition to weight loss, there are many more benefits of doing a juicefeast. Also during a JuiceFeast gentle exercise/movement is encourage such as yoga, rebounding, and walking. It is important if feasting for a long time to not try to do any strength training because you don't want the energy of the body to go into building. It is resting, cleaning, and rejuvenating itself. The most important thing to remember after doing a juicefeast is in order to maintain the benefits you have to nourish your body with healthy whole foods on a daily basis. A diet high in raw foods helps to do this.

I believe this covers the why's, what's, and how's of the juicefeast. Feel free to leave questions and comments. I am also available for any juice coaching if you decide you would like to add more juice to you life!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Juice Feasting

As some of you may or may not know I decided to do a 92 day Juice Feast starting on April 1. My reasons for doing the juice feast are varied and I would like to share them with you.

First of all I did my first 92 Day Juice Feast in September 2009 not only because I had always wanted to but to support a friend of mine with bladder cancer. I will talk about her journey in another post. My goal during that feast was to clear my body of toxins and to reset my body both spiritually, mentally, and physically. It was such an amazing journey that I talked about doing another feast all of 2010 but because of my social and work schedule it was very difficult to carve out the time. So I started out 2011 thinking I would do another one either this Spring or Summer and after finding that I could no longer train for the triathlons here I am!!

My biggest reason for being here is very difficult to say but it is the reality of the situation. This past fall I found myself in several social situations in which I chose to eat cooked food rather than be uncomfortable or cause discomfort by speaking up about my Raw Food Lifestyle. I started out with very healthy choices and made conscious decisions about how I was choosing to fuel my body. However, the cooked food did end up triggering something that lead to making not so healthy choices. I even made choices that I knew would affect my health and cause discomfort but I did it anyway.

When January rolled around I decided that it was time for me to take back control and went back to my 100% raw diet. However, I found that I was having cravings and would often go out to dinner and find it very hard to stay raw. I did do better on the unhealthy choices. Therefore, my goals this time around are very similar to what they were in 2009. I want to reset my body so that I can maintain my raw lifestyle as I know that I feel so much better when I am eating like this.

I am also planning on taking this time to dig deep and look at what I truly want over the next few decades, what that looks like, and then laying the ground work for that to happen. To assist in that I'm also taking a media break. I have decided that I will not watch TV unless it is something highly educational, work related, exercise related, or spiritual. Today is my 4th day on this journey and my TV has only been on twice. That was to watch the semifinal NCAA games with VCU and Kentucky and to watch the DVD on how to use my juicer. It has been really kind of amazing how I don't think about what is happening around me and that I feel more positive and up beat, better about myself and my life because I'm not hearing all the gloom and doom of war, the advertisements that tell us we are not skinny enough, pretty enough, or young enough. Not that any of that ever bothered me anyway but on a subconscious level it does get in there whether we realize it or not. I am also not using my computer unless it is for work purposes.

I will be spending a lot of time over the next few months talking about my journey. I invite you to stay tuned as I provide you with information about juice feasting, what that is, the benefits of a juice feast, and to answer the biggest question of all "why is it a juice feast?" I will also go more in-depth about a couple of things that I mentioned earlier; media influence on our daily lives from an emotional standpoint, food triggers and cravings and the cause of these and many more topics.

Any thoughts, questions, or comments please feel free to post.