Saturday, October 31, 2009

Packing Raw Food and Inspiration

The websites say that the country has no organic food.  How can that be when most families are growing food in their own backyard?  The last time I was there this was the conversation with the hotel concierge:

"Do you have any restaurant recommendations?"

"Do you want Wild Game or Non-Wild Game?"

"Non-Wild Game please."

"Then I have the perfect recommendation for you."

(Take taxi to restaurant.  It was FULL of Wild Game - stuffed and hanging on walls, pelts (of what animals?) serving as seat cushions, and a menu of things I had never heard of - at least as a main course.)

Return to hotel and went back to concierge.

"How did you like the restaurant?"

"Well, we think we went to the wrong one.  We actually wanted the Non-Wild Game restaurant."

(Blank stare).  "But that is the one you were at?!!"

(Blank stare back).  "Really?"

This time I am preparing in advance and have started to assemble a little stash of food.

I have some Go Raw cookies, a variety of Larabars, a bag of organic raisins, a bag of trail mix (raw cashews, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, organic raw cacao nibs, and almonds), and ingredients for my "not-exactly-Georgian Snickers."  My other "must-have" items include a Klean Kanteen waterbottle (both for working out while on the road and getting water in the fountain (if need be) after passing through airport security) and my Pacsafe bag, which has already proven itself pick-pocket-safe!!

In addition to healthy food, I plan to bring with me a positive attitude and the intention to work out - both of which will be assisted by my new Lululemon gear.  At the recommendation of Angela at Oh She Glows, I purchased the Shape Jacket and received the bag as a gift. 

Lots of good advice, as you can see.  "Dance, Sing, Floss, and Travel."  Can't go wrong with that!!

Will soon let you know if I find any organics and / or Non-Wild Game.

In the meantime, Happy Halloween and (depending on where you are located) enjoy your extra hour of sleep! :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not Quite Composting

Mornings are usually hectic.   Important people running to important meetings.  Click, click, click down the hall with coffee in hand.  Except for me, I drink Green Juice.

(I wish I could tell you that I never get caught up in who or what is important.)  

After the Green Juice is gone, I eat my raw food - bananas, pears, kiwis, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries...(sometimes all of the above)...and throw the peels and dripping napkins into the garbage bin.  However, these days I try to make a little less of a mess.

"Good morning Dr. Pepper!"  (That is the nickname he has given me.)  He always has a big smile when he empties my trash - as if he is happy to be doing me a favor.  I could say he has "special needs," but then, don't we all?  He was excited to show me the plastic necklace around his neck that he got at an amusement park.  "Dr. Pepper, They gave me this.  It's angel wings.  They said it is perfect for me."

Perfect indeed.

P.S.  I bet they only give those out to the important people.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Raw Inspiration: Marine Corps Marathon Day!!

(Peace Park)

It was a beautiful day for "The People's Marathon" in Washington, D.C.  I love this event. Somehow it makes the city a little kinder...people smile a little more.  Total strangers from all walks of life and from country-after-country join in to celebrate the human spirit - and what it takes to run 26.2 miles.

The runners in this photo have been at it for more than 6 hours already and are inching to the finish line.  They are the ones who I really wanted to cheer on - since I was one of them myself in 2004.  (That's another post.)  Today I celebrate them and how winning (completing) does not always mean coming in first. 
In fact, winning is sometimes readjusting your expectations of yourself, doing your best, and taking pride in an alternative outcome.  I was reminded of this today while on the subway (with 30,ooo other people).  A woman around my age boarded the train.  I noticed her wearing a medal and said "Congratulations!"  She looked down and said, "It is only for the 10K race.  I wanted to run the Marathon.  I trained for the Marathon, but then I got hurt and the doctor told me that I couldn't run it today."  

I replied by telling her that running a 10K is something that very few people have done and that she should be proud of the accomplishment.  (Not to mention that she was wise to listen to the doctor and her own body and not let her ego talk her into something that could hurt her in the long run.)  That seemed to lift her spirits, and she said that she wanted to try again by running the "Jingle All The Way" 10K in December.  She asked if I wanted to join her.  I said, "Yes, if I am not traveling!" 

So, just like that we were both in good moods and contemplating running through the streets of Washington, D.C. in celebration of the Holiday Season.  "Oh what fun, it is to run...."

I guess this means that I will have to start (um) training!  Have you run a marathon, or any other kind of road race / fun run?  Any (raw) tips on how to prepare, what to bring to the event, or how to recover afterword?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Attention Holiday Eaters!!!

I interrupt this workweek, to bring you a special announcement. 

Are you a “Holiday-Eve” shopper?  Now is your chance to make a change – well in advance of any New Year’s Eve resolutions!

I recently purchased "Kristen Suzanne’s Easy Raw Vegan Holidays" un-cookbook.  I took her advice and tried making “I Can’t Believe It's Raw” Pumpkin Pie and “Oktoberfest Raw German Chocolate Brownies” in advance of the coming season.  In part, because I was skeptical.  Having never baked a pie, I was not sure I could “un-bake” one either!

The results. See for yourself.

Testimonials from my non-raw, non-vegan co-workers:

“Can I have a second piece?”

“Would you bring more tomorrow?”

“How can THIS possibly be made of THAT?”

I KNOW!!!!! 

My hat is off to you Kristen.  Your little genius has made for a lot of smiles…and the holidays have not yet even begun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ancient Greece and Rome: Lessons in Raw Beauty

Let me back up before I start this post.

My grandpa (who I loved – and still love dearly) passed away a little over a year ago. Oh, he taught me many things. Things about expecting the best in life, being open to love, appreciating your family, working hard…and harder still. He also taught me about letting go, when letting go is necessary in order to grow again. Of all the lessons he taught me, I had no idea he taught me about oil…

You see, at the age of 90 my grandpa had a full head of thick, black hair. Not a grey hair in sight. (He would always note this fact as one of his greater accomplishments, and who could blame him or disagree?) When I asked him for his secret, he simply said “baby shampoo.” (shhhhh)

But was there more? Something passed down through the Ages? Something learned, remembered, and then forgotten? Or, only forgotten by some?

As part of the Raw Lifestyle, I have quickly learned about the benefits of oil of all kinds. JoJoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil…and the list goes on.

JoJoba Oil: Good for moisturizing the scalp, softening hands and feet, and my personal favorite – make-up removal.

Coconut Oil: Good for cooking, skin care (face moisturizer, natural sunscreen, body lotion, etc.), and hair conditioning. The uses are really endless. Do a google search. You will be amazed.

Olive Oil: Makes a great salad dressing and good for dipping bread, of course, but did you ever consider using olive oil as part of your beauty routine? Apparently, those living in Ancient Greece and Rome had this figured out, but I am just hearing about it now?!! (On a recent trip to Athens, I was introduced to “Traditional Pure Greek Olive Oil Soap.” I highly recommend.)

It appears that my great-grandmother (who came to the U.S. on a boat from Italy) also knew a thing or two about the value of olive oil. I just recently realized that my grandpa told me one time that she made him rub the oil on his scalp every day of his life because she said it was good for his hair.


Of course, maybe it’s an “old wives’ tale” and genetics alone blessed him, but then again…the Ancients were pretty wise.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

An Ounce of Preparation...

"Do you want to join us for lunch?," I asked the student from Denmark.  She responded, "No, thank you.  I don't eat that kind of food."  

I asked her this question in 1997 and remained puzzled by her answer for more than a decade. What kind of food?  I never told her where we were going to eat (as it hadn't yet been decided), so how could she respond with "I don't eat that kind of food?"

I now realize that the only "food options" available at the time were a range of fast-food restaurants, which she most likely did not consider "food" or "options" at all.


This morning her words came back to me as I headed out the door.  Then I thought about the food options I would be facing today, if I chose not to be prepared.  Did I really want to "fuel" my body with "food products" instead of "real food?" 

So, I turned around...and reminded myself that an ounce of preparation could make a very big difference in my day.  Here's what I prepared in 10 minutes or less:

--Smoothie (organic strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, banana, and flaxseed)
--Celery (with almond butter)
--Butternut Squash Soup (not raw, but organic)
--Salad (romaine lettuce, spinach, avocado, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and olive oil)
--Not-quite-Georgian Snickers (assembly required)

Threw the creations in my bag (lined to keep products cool) and headed out the door for a second time.

The result - a day of feeling good about what I ate, how I am taking care of my body, and a follow-up yoga session to boot!!

Also, a chuckle to myself at how much difference a decade - or a day - can make.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Habit or Ritual?

By habit I am a night owl and former junk-food junkie.  By ritual I am becoming a morning exerciser and raw vegan (far from 100%, but leaning in the direction of making better choices for my personal health and happiness).  As part of my morning ritual, I have been watching the sun come up - while drinking warm water with lemon (and even reading some blogs!). Not to mention that the process has helped me to get over jet lag this time around!  

It is easy to be grateful for the coming day when it starts like this.

How do you start your day when you want it to be a little extraordinary?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Defying Gravity

Anyone who knows me knows that I love, love, LOVE the musical WICKED!!!  I saw the performance in Germany, and it was THE BEST PERFORMANCE OF ANY KIND that I have EVER SEEN ANYWHERE!!!!  In fact, it was so good that I wrote the cast a “thank-you letter” to express my sincere appreciation for the *MAGICAL* evening.  I also bought the CD – both from the German performance that I saw and the English version by the original cast of Tony-award winning Idina Manzel (as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch) and Kristin Chenoweth (as Glinda, the Good Witch).  Phenomenal.  Raw talent to the extreme.

I mean, how can one not run faster on a treadmill when one is singing along with the following words?

“I am d-e-f-y-i-n-g gravity… And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free.  To those who’d ground me, take a message back from me.  Tell them how I am defying gravity.  I’m flying high defying gravity and soon I’ll match them in renown.  And nobody in all of Oz, no wizard that there is or was, is ever gonna bring me down!!!!”

Sing for yourself and see how good it makes you feel.

What does this have to do with Raw Food?  Just ask A Vegan on Stage.  I made her awesome Elphaba (aka Elphie) Bars and can’t stop smiling, singing, or twirling around in my kitchen.  See her recipe here.  See also photo of my bars (with appropriate green suitcase in the background).

What do you do to Defy Gravity?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Art or Science?

Is there an art to Juicing and Smoothie-ing?  Or, is it a science - merely getting the right nutrients into one's cells to make for a healthy body and mind?  

Either way, I am still learning.
My Green Juice is not yet green, you see.  However, the experimentation is still fun and "pretty" in its own way.  Despite my encouragement, my juice asked for an accessory.  A beautiful glass straw to help with her self-esteem.

Today's Not-Quite-Green Juice included the following ingredients:  3 carrots, 1 cucumber, 2 kale leaves, 1 apple, 2 stalks of celery, and juice from 1/2 a lemon (the lemon juice makes all the difference!).

My Smoothie faired a little better.  But then again, she was assisted by The Voracious Vegan's almond milk recipe.  And everyone knows that a little help from a friend can do amazing things. 

Other ingredients included: organic blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, 1 banana, kale, and a tablespoon of flaxseed for some additional omega-3s.

Though they looked a little "out-of-the-ordinary," both the Juice and the Smoothie were glorious in their own ways and contributed to making me feel better...and better still...So, there was really no reason to be hard on themselves.  I told them that their uniqueness was a gift and that they should focus on their individual and combined successes (as they scientifically enhanced my health and longevity).  That is where the art is!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Jewelry Reminder and Plan of Action

Forward nine hours. Back three hours. Forward four hours. Back 10 hours. I have now reached my "final destination" once again after almost a month on the road.  The result is that it is after 5am, and I have been awake since 1am sneezing, coughing, and trying to breathe.  The good news is that I don't have swine flu, the bad news is that I am clearly out of balance!

Thus, the need for a jewelry reminder...and a plan of action.

I bought this necklace from a local artist while on the road.  The large circle represents life and eternity, the inscribed symbols are local designs, and what I like best - the small circles represent the "human pie chart" - family, friends, health, career, spirituality - and bringing them all into balance to make a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.  Who couldn't use such a reminder??

As for the plan of action, a direct and immediate trip to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to stock up on raw essentials. I picked up organic celery, spinach, romaine hearts, kale, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, avocados, apples, bananas and almond butter (thanks to Girl on Raw), tomatoes, and even threw in a bag of Go Raw super cookies (on the advice of Kristen's Raw).  I only regret not buying two bags - they are that good!

Let the healing and balancing begin!!  

If you have any other tips on how to find (or create) balance, please do share!