Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’….

…..you got be to startin’ somethin’

Ah yes, lyrics sung from the famous vegetarian, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. I bet you didn’t know he was vegetarian!...then again, perhaps you did. Either way, now you know. Fact: I was 2 years old when that song was released.

After a couple of nights playing his new Wii game, Michael Jackson: The Experience, I realized that I will not be as cool as him but Kelli sure might be! She scored 4 out of 5 stars in Thriller! Fact: every song has a level of difficulty ranging from Easy to Hard. Thriller for some reason has a level of difficulty called Inhuman!....and yea, it’s pretty intense but my Queen of Pop dominated!

In Michael’s song, You Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, he says “you’re a vegetable” multiple times. Seriously? Who puts that in a song? It’s quite humorous to me but really? Then again, it was a top 5 hit and I can’t dance like him so I really shouldn’t say much.

I think Michael was onto something when he wrote that. The lyrics are as follows:

I Said You Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

You Got To Be Startin' Somethin'

I Said You Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

You Got To Be Startin' Somethin'

It's Too High To Get Over (Yeah, Yeah)

Too Low To Get Under (Yeah, Yeah)

You're Stuck In The Middle (Yeah, Yeah)

And The Pain Is Thunder (Yeah, Yeah)

It's Too High To Get Over (Yeah, Yeah)

Too Low To Get Under (Yeah, Yeah)

You're Stuck In The Middle (Yeah, Yeah)

And The Pain Is Thunder (Yeah, Yeah)

You're A Vegetable, You're A Vegetable

Still They Hate You, You're A Vegetable

You're Just A Buffet, You're A Vegetable

They Eat Off Of You, You're A Vegetable

Let’s take those last four lines. First he calls you a vegetable. Next he says they hate you, therefore they hate vegetables. Thirdly, he says you’re a buffet and lastly he says they eat off of you. So if you had a plate of food covered with unhealthiness and a few veggies, basically what he’s saying is that nobody likes vegetables and they’ll pick around you to eat all the junk.

So if you wanna be startin’ somethin’, then you GOT to be startin’ somethin’. If you want to make a change in your diet then you’ve GOT to just do it. If you feel making a lifestyle change is like a mountain that’s too high to get over or too low to get under then you’re probably stuck in the middle. The pain of being stuck in the middle will eventually be thunder.

Since most people don’t like vegetables, if you make the change to be a vegetarian then people will mock you and maybe even hate you, but your body will love you.

Michael wasn't just writing a song for LaToya. He was trying to reach out to us all and shed some light of
Vegetarianism. Ok, that might a reach, but you never know....

You try playing that game, every song in order and let me know if you’re ready to call it quits halfway through. It’s a serious workout! Only way you can get that kind of energy is filling yourself up with fruits and veggies!

Fact: My name is Edgar Cardoso and I am a vegetarian. I’m also married to the loveliest lady in the world!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm Feeling A Little......Fat These Days

Weird Al Yankovic wrote a few songs that I’m sure you’ve heard in the 1980’s, Eat It and I’m Fat. Both were written in parody to two famous Michael Jackson hits. Weird Al had something going for him because about 10 years or so after those songs were written, he became vegan!

Well, I’m not busting any belt buckles, I don’t have more chins than Chinatown and when I go to the movies, I don’t take up 7 rows….but what I am is what I eat….and what I eat is a lot of fat!

The topic of fat can get convoluted and disinteresting really quickly so I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.
First of all, what is fat? Fats are generally triesters of glycerol and fatty acids. They can be either solid or liquid at room temperature. They’re definitely an important part of our diet, except when you have an abundance of it!

So you’re at the grocery store, you pick up that can of coconut oil, you read the nutrition facts and your eyes almost pop out of your head! Whose wouldn’t with 14g of fat per tablespoon?!!?!?! Let me help put that in perspective for ya. Say you make some sort of raw cheesecake/pie that calls for coconut oil. You gladly emulsify ¾ C of liquid beauty into your blender. After pouring your dessert filling into a spring form pan, you set it in the freezer. A few hours later, out comes a creation of art!....yea well also comes out 144g of saturated fat!!!!!

Ok…so the words saturated fat scare a lot of people. They know they should be eating all of the other goodies such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. Well, I’ll try breaking this down for you….

All fats are comprised of fatty acids. These acid chains vary in length, Short Chain (4 carbon atoms) to Very Long Chain (28 carbon atoms). We’ll touch on this in just a minute.

Fat are broken into 2 categories, Saturated and Unsaturated. Now, think about what the word “saturated” means. It may trigger words such as “soaked”, “concentrated”, “dense”, “full of”, etc. In reality, it’s called saturated fat because in the acid chain, the carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms. A saturated fatty acid is like you pointing your index figure straight out. Go ahead, point at something!...keep that finger nice and stiff. Don’t let it bend!!!...’cause if you do, it’s no longer saturated!

The term “unsaturated” essentially allows your index figure to bend! Monounsaturated is like having your index finger bend at the center joint and polyunsaturated is like having your center joint and the joint near the tip of your finger both bend.

Why do I care if my finger bends? Well let me explain. Fats are absorbed in distinct ways. Taken from Wikipedia, “Short- and medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed directly into the blood via intestine capillaries and travel through the portal vein just as other absorbed nutrients do. However, long-chain fatty acids are too large to be directly released into the tiny intestine capillaries. Instead they are absorbed into the fatty walls of the intestine villi and reassembled again into triglycerides. The triglycerides are coated with cholesterol and protein (protein coat) into a compound called a chylomicron.

Within the villi, the chylomicron enters a lymphatic capillary called a lacteal, which merges into larger lymphatic vessels. It is transported via the lymphatic system and the thoracic duct up to a location near the heart (where the arteries and veins are larger). The thoracic duct empties the chylomicrons into the bloodstream via the left subclavian vein. At this point the chylomicrons can transport the triglycerides to where they are needed.”

Bla bla bla bla bla what just happened? In one ear and out the other. Fair enough. To put it bluntly, the short and medium chains are absorbed like your other nutrients. The long and very long chains go through your arteries where it’s coated with cholesterol and protein. Ummmm…..read that again!....IT’S COATED WITH CHOLESTEROL IN YOU ARTERIES! Hmmmmm….ever wonder why high cholesterol is an issue?....who wants cholesterol buildup in their arteries? I sure don’t!

Now that we’ve covered how different length fatty acid chains are absorbed, what was all that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated talk about?....well, let’s cover that shall we?

So, let’s just say you have a long chain fatty acid swimming down your throat. He’s too big to follow Mr. Vitamin B so he turns left and says, “Oh, I see a hole that I can fit through!” (Sidebar: picture someone cave diving…..just work with me here.) So he turns left and goes through the intestine villi and comes out the other side a brand new man! Let’s give him a new name and call him Triglyceride. So now he keeps on swimming along and some friends meet up with him, Cholesterol and Protein. Ok, lets stop right here. Remember that finger exercise I told you about? Well, what shape is a saturated fat? He’s like a rigid pointed finger. Now if continue eating tons of food with lots of fat and cholesterol you’ll eventually have one big fat party inside your arteries. Well the saturated fat guys are nice and rigid and don’t get out of the way for anyone! They’re kind of like a bouncer at a nightclub. They’ll just stand there nice and stiff and say, “Ayo! If you want to get through, give me some money or geouttahere.” Say you pay him the money and squeeze through the front doors. You walk in and notice that the whole room is full of bouncers…..and perhaps a few geeks like me. Well, if saturated fat was the bouncer, the bouncer’s muscles are the cholesterol. The bouncers are line up against all 4 walls with their arms crossed showing off their barbed wire tattoos. What happens when you have 100 bouncers, with their arms crossed, crowding the bar? You can’t get a drink! You stress out so much and have a heart attack!!!! Scary stuff man! It’s like your arteries are being blocked with all this cholesterol and your heart can’t pump any blood through!

Enough with the long chained saturated fatty acids. What about monounsaturated and polyunsaturated? Well, those guys are a little different. I guess they’re like bouncers too, but they’re not from NY and like to hang out in the corner of the room with their arms crossed saying “Ayo”. Instead they like to move around a little bit. They like to dance. They’re a little more flexible. The monounsaturated dancers just dance with their legs. The polyunsaturated dancers use their arms and legs. If you’re going to be in a club, wouldn’t you rather invite friends who will dance rather than standing in the corner showing off their barbed wire tattoos and spiked hair? I sure would. When the dance scene is happening, people are happy, you can get drinks at the bar and life is good. Essentially, blood is able to flow through your system because your fat isn’t so uptight and rigid; they’re able to bend in 1 or 2 ways.

I hope you get the picture. Now let’s quickly mention Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. They’re essential fatty acids because your body cannot produce them, therefore must be consumed. Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids are all polyunsaturated with the exception of 1 single acid in the Omega 9 family.

I’ve created a little flow diagram showing you the family of fats.  It's a little hard to read but if you click on it, you might be able to see it a tad better. For the unsaturated fats, I’ve only depicted the Omega acids whereas on the saturated side, I list all fatty acids. The colors are also important. The green means those are small chain fatty acids. The orange means they’re medium chained. The red means they’re long chained and the maroon means they’re very long chained.

You’ll notice that most of the Omega fatty acids are medium or long chained. You’ll also notice that there are quite a few short and medium chained fatty acids that belong to the saturated family. Remember my intro about coconut oil? Well, this is where it all ties in. Coconut oil is comprised of 67% medium chained saturated fatty acids. Remember that even though your raw cheesecake/pie contains 144g of saturated fat, 96g of that is medium chained which doesn’t go to your arteries.

In conclusion, if you’re going to the dance club to listen to Weird Al, make sure you bring some friends who like to dance!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Raw Food Lifestyle Series - Day 4

Wednesday Wednesday Wednesday. Commonly known as "hump day". Do you know how Wednesday got it's name? It comes from Middle English, which is from Old English, meaning the day of the English god Woden. Some people believe he was the precursor to the modern day Santa Clause. He was also believed to be a psychopomp, a person who escorts the newly deceased to the afterlife.

Interesting stuff huh?

Well my Wednesday wasn't quite like carrying people to the afterlife. Then again I was nonstop, running errands, never really being at one place for more than an hour.

Wednesday morning we woke up to our routine. I packed the zoom burgers and condiements to go along with a side dish of caesar salad and leftover v-day cake. Lots of food was packed incase Kelli had to work late. Our green smoothie was much like the one from Tuesday. Yummy!

I left for boxing class shortly after 9am. Class started at 10. Only 5 of us there so it was pretty intense. We did 120 pushups, 100 crunches, lots of combination work and lots of cardio.  Our combination was quite short this go around.  It was: right cut, left hook, right uppercut, left hook, right punch, roll left, left hook to the body, left hook to the head, roll right, right uppercut, left hook, right uppercut, left hook, right uppercut, left hook, right punch. See, not too bad eh?

Needless to say, my arms are pretty sore.

After boxing I went to Erewhon market. It's a pretty large health food store in West Hollywood/Los Angeles.  We get a 10% discount with our KCRW membership card :).  I picked up Flax Oil (WHY DO WE GET TAXED ON FLAX OIL??????!!!!), raw og agave nectar, coconuts and og mustard.  After the store I headed out to Pep Boys to get an oil filter for Kelli's car.  From there I went to the mechanic who replaced her caliper because the caliper pin was coming loose and you can hear the assembly rattling when going over a bumpy road. Not cool! It was lunch time so none of his guys were there.

I finally got home around 12:45pm and stuffed my face! I ate an apple, zoom burger, chips and nut clusters.

I did a few things on the computer, showered up and headed out to the mechanic again.  They looked at it and realized they forgot to put a bolt on!!!!!! Hence, for you that know me well, I don't like taking my car to the mechanic. On my car, I've done all the work myself except when I had to replace the axels and bearings. Other than that, knock on wood, 148,000 miles later, she purrs like a kitten! Though I will have to probably take it in to replace the serpentine belt. Ok, I'm getting off track here. After the mechanic, I stopped by Autozone to pick up an oil filter wrench for Kelli's car.

By the time I got home, it was about 4pm. Woah! Where did the day go?! We had received our CSA farm produce so I was pretty excited to eat it all!!!! And I almost succeeded.  I made a massive salad that contained a whole leek, 3/4 head of cauliflower, 3 or so collard greens, 5 or so green chard and 1/2 yellow onion.  I made a random sauce to go with it. I was craving something creamy so I opened my cupboard and just picked a few ingredients. It turned out wonderful!!!! The sauce was made from Brazil nuts, lemon juice, flax oil, olive oil, salt, white pepper, garlic powder, black pepper, nutritional yeast, tamari, mustard powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and water. Don't ask for the recipe cause I have no clue!!!! I just went by taste.  It was thick and creamy and yummy! I poured it over the salad and couldn't stop eating!!!! Kelli got home as I was still eating from the mixing bowl. She grabbed the bowl, took a bite, took another and another and before you knew it, we were both sitting on the couch like WOAH!

We had to get our stuffed bellies off the couch and on the road. We had a hot date with the paper source company in Pasadena.  We picked out recycled envelopes for our Save the Date magnets :).  On the way home we stopped at Whole Foods to get Dulse flakes, nutritional yeast and almond butter. All of which ran out this week. OOPS! Poor planning on my part! Would have saved me a trip.

Got home, went straight to bed! We were exhausted.

Busy day, yes, but still had time to prepare a morning smoothie, lunch and dinner. Lunch was easy because the zoom burger patty was already made. I just put it between two collard greens, added sliced tomato, onion and premade condiments, yum yum! The salad was quick to make too. About a half hour from start to cleanup.  I just quickly cut the veggies and greens up and tossed them in a bowl. If I had dressing already prepared, it would have been even faster.

Hope you all enjoyed your hump day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Raw Food Lifestyle Series - Day 3

Hello friends!

Wednesday was an interesting day. I had a late start to the morning. Well, I guess it's relative.

We woke up to our standard routine.  Kelli mentioned how her throat was a little soar, like she was going to get sick so I had to adjust the morning smoothie slightly :). I have a great book called "Juicing for Health A-Z". I highly recommend it. The one time I got sick, in the past 4 years, I drank a concotion and 2 days later, all better while everyone at work were still sneezing and coughing. Anyways, yesterday the smoothie contained oranges, kale, apples, raw honey, lots of ginger, kiwi, ice cubes and water.  Yum!!!!!!

Kelli went off to work and I got busy with wedding plans.  We're in process of figuring out what we want said during the ceremony so we've been looking over sample ceremonies that our officiant emailed us.  That lasted a couple hours.

I went off on what was supposed to be an 8 mile run. It turned out to be about 8.84 miles. I use http://www.mapmyrun.com/ to get the mileage. Initially I planned on running in a big urban rectangle but I always get caught up at street lights. In an effort to run nonstop, I opted to run around the park up the street from our apt. It's about a half mile away. One loop around the park is about 1.54 miles.  There is a nice dirt pathway that goes around so I took advantage. I felt strong the whole time. Breathing was excellent and stride was good. My left thigh hurt a little bit from our run on Sunday but it wasn't going to slow me down. Neither was the nasty blister I have on my right heel from wearing low cut socks on my run last Friday. I padded it by folding an extra sock in half and putting it between my shoe and my heel. Worked great! Didn't even know it was there....until I got home and noticed blood on my folded sock lol. I was a little disappointed with my average pace because I felt like I was going faster. Unfortunately, numbers don't lie. I averaged 7:52 a mile. It felt more like 7:35 or so...but it's all good. I'll take that mileage at that pace right now. Only a little less than 4 weeks left to the L.A. Marathon in which I hope to average less than 8:30 a mile.

I got home, showered up and was just walking around the living room in circles. I didn't clean up the kitchen in the morning so it was still a mess. We ran out of water and I was super thirsty. I ate apples, almond bread, and nut clusters. We have a 5 gallon water jug dispenser at home. I headed out and filled up the jug, came back and got to work. I cleaned the kitchen spotless to give me room to work later on.  I was right on time for lunch.....so ate a Coconut Curry Wrap filled with Falafel and Mango Chutney. The wrap turned out to be more like a crepe but nontheless, it was de-lish!

By the time I realized, it was 1pm and barely got anything done. I figured I had a few hours to kill before Kelli got home so I debated on what to make. Every recipe I wanted to make required lemons. I had 0. I swear, lemons, zucchini and almonds are a raw food staple! I jumped in the car, ran a couple errands then bought og lemons, og zucchini, og chips and a bottle of savignon blanc. We're not much of white wine drinkers but Kelli really wants to find a good bottle so her teeth won't stain during the wedding LOL. She's crazy. I love it! The bottle was from a Sonoma County winery so that's a bonus (we're getting married in Sonoma).

When I got home Kelli told me she was going to stay late at work. I took advantage of that time to make lots of little things. I made zoom burgers, creamy horseradish dressing, ketchup, cashew mayo and pineapple salsa in a pineapple boat. *phew* took about 5 hours to make and clean up. I really didn't plan on making all that stuff but after each recipe I noticed I stilll had time to make more before she got home.

As soon as she arrived, I poured us a much needed glass of vino. Not too shabby! FYI...white wines really don't go well with salsa hehe. Red wines sure do though!!!!!! Our dinner consisted of pineapple salsa with chips. We were pretty full. We snacked on extra falafels but that was about it. Oh, I also ate an apple. I was going to make caesar salad but we were too stuffed.

We watched the movie Couples Retreat at night. Funny movie. I love Vince Vaughn. I have a feeling him and I were meant to be friends lol. After that movie we laid on the couch and continued to watch a movie that we left off at the night prior. It's called Serious Man or something. We just weren't into it and fell asleep, yet again. This was about quarter till 9. We're early birds!!!!! I was pretty out of it so again forgot my time saving tip for the morning! Thursday's lunch will be Zoom Burgers wrapped in kale, topped with red onion, heirloom tomato, ketchup and cashew mayo. A caesar salad with herbed croutons will be on the side.

That was our very uneventful Tuesday night.

Today's lesson: I was able to take advantage of down time to make lots of little things, ketchup, mayo, dressing and salsa.  These items will keep for a few days in the fridge so they'll last a couple of meals. I made extra burgers so we can have them for dinner on Thursday as well.

Blessings to all!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Raw Food Lifestyle Series - Day 2

Today we woke up to our normal routine. Alarm went off at 5am (we went to bed at 8:30pm last night) Kelli jumped in the shower, I got up at 5:20 and hit the kitchen. Last night I was really exhausted so didn't apply my time saving tip of preparing our lunches so I had to make our salads this morning.

Salads are easy and we never get tired of them. 3 cups or so of spinach, sliced onions, pepitas, spiced sunflower seeds, cherry tomatoes, nutritional yeast and kelp granuals. That took about 10 minutes.

After salads I made our green smoothie. 2 Oranges, a handfull of kale inluding stems, 1 mango, 6 ice cubes, about 1/2C of water, og hemp powder and vitamineral greens. Yielded exactly 4C this time!...poured them in our Living Light mugs with lid, set them in the freezer, rinsed the vitamix container and put the base back in the cupboard.

I hit the shower, got ready and off we went a 6:10am. We like to leave at 6 but it's all good.

I will say this as a sidebar, my legs and body feel pretty darn good after running for nearly 3 hours yesterday. A little sore near the hips, but overall it's about as good as it gets! Today was a day off from running and I'll do it again tomorrow.

We drank our green drinks on the way to work.  I dropped her off and headed to my office. We work about 10 minutes away from each other.  As soon as I got to work, I reached for my daily apple.

At 11:30, I picked up Kelli for lunch. We ate our salads in the parking lot of Trader Joe's then stopped in to get a few things. Picked up some dried mangos for a snack as well as bananas and og roma tomatoes. After I got back to work, I ate an og kiwi. *SIDE NOTE: Trader Joe's in Valencia, CA carries organic raw almonds!*

I worked till 3:30pm and left to pick up Kelli. She usually leaves at 3:30pm but recently has been staying much later.  I also realized that I hadn't drank as much water as I normally do. Only 3L to that point.

On the way home we polished off the dried mangos.  As soon as we got home, we ate and ate and ate (daily habit).  It started off with those pesky gargonzola chips, then to almond bread, almond/pecan/cashew clusters and finally finished off with an apple. Perfect way to fuel up before boxing...........NOT! Word to those who want to exercise. DO NOT eat or drink anything up to an hour beforehand. You want to keep your GI tract as empty as possible.

At about 5:45pm I had the bright idea of making coconut curry wraps so we can stuff it with mango chutney and falafels for lunch tomorrow. The wraps took me almost an hour from start to cleanup. This was a recipe development wrap so it took a little longer to adjust for flavors and such.

We left for boxing at 6:40pm and got there right on time. Tonight was open gym night so it was the gym was a little more full than normal. It was a good mix of cardio and combinations today.  Lots of pushups, combos, situps and speed work. After an hour of sweating, we finished the night off with a 1 minute plank and went home.

As soon as we got home we ate our Pad Thai noodles that I made last night. I made enough for my client's lunch and our dinner :). I ate another apple hehe. We cleaned up, showered and watched a little Olympic coverage.

After a few minutes of sitting there, I hit the kitchen and made mango chutney and falafel "meat" for my client's lunch tomorrow, as well as ours. I made enough for dinner too, or at least I hope! That mango chutney is reeeeeally good (curtosy of Matt Amsden's book, Rawvolution). Ate a couple handful of dehydrated almonds as well.

I don't have to work the rest of the week so I plan on making lots of good stuff in the kitchen. I hope to take advantage of the time to make lots of things that we can keep in the freezer or pantry.  Perhaps I'll make a ton of different wraps, snacks, crackers, etc.

Well, there you have it. Now you got a glimpse of what it is we eat on a daily basis. As you can see, lots of fruit, veggies, nuts/seeds and water.  We also added in a few non-raw snacks but a little here and there doesn't hurt us.

Blessings to all! Embrace the journey!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Raw Food Lifestyle Series - Day 1

Hello all! I want to share with you my personal Raw Food Lifestyle throughout the week. I'll be doing this for a week. Here are the reason why I want to share my lifestyle:

1) so you can get an idea of what a person might go through preparing raw foods daily
2) to see what I do and perhaps take some tips and tricks to fit your lifestyle
3) so you can know me a little more on a personal level

Let me preface this by stating a few facts:

I am not 100% raw. I am a raw foodist as my diet consists of mostly raw fruits, vegetables and nuts/seeds.
I do not have any children.
I prepare raw lunches for my fiance's coworker 5 days a week.
I feed for two breakfast and dinner, feed for three for lunch.
I am very active (running 30-40 miles a week, cardio box 2-3 days a week) and consume lots of calories!
I am currently unemployed (since Thanksgiving) but do engineering consulting work 2-5 days a week.  For those of you who do work, I was still able to live this lifestyle while working 40+ hours a week.

A lot of people tell me that they would eat more raw foods if they had time. "It takes too long to prepare." etc etc. For me, being an engineering minded person, I have to do what works for me. It might not work for everyone. In fact, I know what I will present will not work for everyone, but you might be able to take tidbits here and there and try them out. You never know.

Now I will show you how I go about my days.

The weekends are what I call "prep days". What I mean by "prep days" is that I schedule out what we will eat for the entire week and buy all our food. I do three main things and if I don't do them, I've found that it turns out to be a stressful week. They are:

1) Look through my fridge and cabinets to see what we have in stock.
    a) Write down the main items that we have
    b) Write down if I am running low on my spices, oils or other things that have a long shelf life

2)  Create a menu for the week: breakfast, lunch and dinner. We flip through about 5 books to decide what we want to eat.
    a) Some of the things I think about: What did we eat last week, what can I make different? What recipes will go with what we have in stock? Which recipes use similar ingredients so we don't have to buy excess produce? Do I have nutritional variety?

3) I write down every ingredient for each recipe in a notebook

4) Make a shopping list based on the ingredient list, what long shelf life items we need and any additional snacks we want.  Check off what we have in stock.

As an example, here is what I went through yesterday (Saturday):
Stock items we need - Vanilla Extract, Sun-dried tomatoes, Walnuts, Cashews, Buckwheat groats and dark miso
Recipes for the week - Caesar Salad in a Pesto Wrap (for last night's dinner), Pad Thai Noodles, Falafel Wrap, Zoom Burger, Not Tuna Pate and Spanish Rawsagna.

Kelli and I eat salads for lunch every day so those are a given. The recipes I listed are typically for dinner and for my client's lunch.

We receive fresh produce from a CSA farm every two weeks. This week happens to be a delivery week (Wednesday) so I wrote down all of the produce that will be delivered so I do not duplicate items at the market.

This whole process took 1 hour from start to finish. Again, it might not work for you, but for us, the better we can organize the week, the easier the week will be.

So... we had our shopping list and off on our bikes we went! First stop was Whole Foods. We bought og buckwheat groats (og = organic), og red miso, og vanilla extract, sun dried tomatoes, fresno pepper, horseradish root, og mung bean sprouts, og cilantro, og garlic, og kale, og lettuce, pineapple, mangos, serrano pepper, sweet tamarind. Second stop was Trader Joes: og white corn tortilla chips (my addiction lol), roasted gargonzola crackers (Kelli's addiction lol), raw cashews, og raw walnuts, og heirloom tomatoes, og red bell peppers, og zucchini, og red onions, og basil, og bag of pink lady apples, og navel oranges, og bag of lemons.

Whole Foods is 2 miles northeast and TJ's is 0.3 miles north of us. It took us 1 hour and 20 minutes to ride on our bikes, make a quick pit stop before WF, get to WF, buy our groceries, ride to TJ's and have my backpack fall off the bike, fixed it, get to TJ's buy all of our items and finally back home.

We unpacked everything and I got started on the Caesar Salad wrapped in a Pesto Wrap. Fortunately I already made the pesto wrap so all I had to do was cut the romaine and make the dressing. See my other post for recipe. Equipment list: Chef Knife, Blender and cutting board :).

Yesterday I also made a mango salsa. Yuuuuuuum!!!!!!!! Went great with the chips we got at TJ's. We ate our chips and salsa then ate our wraps. Stuffed!

We sat around the couch and watched the Olympics :). Go Team USA!!!!!!!!!!!  We ended up trying to watch the classic black and white foreign film Rashomon. About 15 mins in we fell asleep cuddling on the couch. Two hours later we got up and ate leftover cake that I had from Valentine's Day. Yes it was still gooooooooood!

In the midst of all this, we drank looots of water. On an average day we drink about 4.5L of water a day. Sometimes more, rarely less.

After eating cake, I made garlic herbed croutons and cinnamon almond bread. I let those sit in the dehydrator overnight. That took an hour from start to cleanup.

Before we hit the sack we did a 1 minute plank to keep our cores in shape (something new I've starting doing since last week). We fell asleep to Rashomon again about 40 minutes in. By this time it was close to 1am. If you know us, you know that typically our bed time is 9:30pm. That two hour nap kept us up.

Today - Sunday
I woke up at 6am and left the house about 6:45 to go run. I drove 30 miles north to meet up with Dave, my running partner/best friend/groomsman. I arrived at the usual spot and then did the unthinkable!...locked my keys, running gloves and date water in the car. Kelli to the rescue!...but she was off on a hike before boxing so I wouldn't see her till about noon, so I thought.

We went off on our 20 mile run. We headed out 5.1 miles one way, turned and got back to the car for some fuel. Def need fuel if you plan on running over an hour, in our case nearly 3 hours. Since my fuel was locked in the car, I needed something. Dave let me drink half of his Powerade. I was ok with it since my body was about to burn all the high fructose corn syrup in the next 30 minutes anyway. We ran about 4.2 miles one way and flipped it. It's hard to judge how far you go and at what pace until you're done and you can map it all out. Our 20 miler was an 18.7 miler when all was said and done.

By the time I was done, Kelli came to the rescue! She skipped boxing and came to my rescue! *SIDE NOTE: OMG KELLI JUST CAME BACK FROM SHOPPING AND GOT ME A MANGO SPLITTER!!!!!!!! I LOVE HER!!!!!!*

Back to the story, we decided since we needed laundry detergent we would stop at Sam's Club nearby. Low and behold. more groceries! In addition to Ecos laundry detergent and toilet paper, we bought more mangos, almond/pecan/cashew clusters, og spring mix for our salads, papaya, og Granny Smith apples, og Gala apples and two pineapples.

Came home and prepared Pad Thai Noodles (Ani Phyo's book) while Kelli did laundry and went out shopping looking for a monster mixing bowl. Before she headed out we ate a ton of almond bread with almond cheese, onions and tomatoes (thanks Dara!). We also finished off the mago salsa :) and did a 1 minute plank.

Now I sit here writing this. In a few minutes we will eat the Pad Thai, hopefully finish watching Rashomon, probably eat more apples and nuts since I depleted nearly 2000 calories running this morning, prepare lunches for tomorrow *TIME SAVING TIP* and then go to bed.

Tomorrow night I will tell you what we had for breakfast, what was packed for lunch and what we ate for dinner.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cesar Salad wrapped in a Zucchini Pesto Wrap

A few nights ago I was laying in bed and it just hit me. Why not think outside the box and have "inside-out" dishes? That led to creating a zucchini pesto wrap and a cesar salad with creamy horseradish dressing filling.

I made the wraps last night and the rest today :).

Zucchini Pesto Wrap (I actually come up with this one myself, kinda proud of me!)
Yields 6 wraps

5C Zucchini chopped
2C Basil, packed
1/4C Pine Nuts
3T Lemon Juice
2 1/2T Pysllium Husk Powder
2T Olive Oil
2T Flax Oil
1/2t Sea Salt

Blend the Zucchini and Lemon Juice until smooth. Add the Basil, Pine Nuts and Salt and blend until smooth. While blending, slowly add the Olive Oil and Flax Oil to emulsify. Lastly, add the Psyllium Husk Powder and blend for a few seconds.

Spread 1/2C of the mixture on a nonstick dehydrator sheet and create about a 6" round.  Dehydrate at 105F for 4 hours. Flip and remove the nonstick sheet. Place a mesh screen over the wraps to keep the edges from curling up. Dehydrate for another 4 hours or until dry and pliable.

Creamy Horseradish Dressing (Living Light Culinary Arts Institute recipe)
Yields 1C

1 large clove garlic
1 rib celery, strung and chopped
1T horseradish ground root
1 1/2T lemon juice
1 1/2T light miso
1T tamari
1/2T dulse flakes or kelp powder
2t agave nectar
1/4C purified water
1/4C olive oil
2T flax oil

Combine all of the ingredients, except the water and the oils, in a high power blender, and puree until creamy. While the blender is running, slowly add the water and then the oils, until emulsified.

Salad (Living Light Culinary Arts Institute recipe)
1 head romaine, torn or cut into pieces
Pine Nut Parmesan (optional)
Almond Bread Croutons (optional)
Freshly ground pepper (optional)


Toss dressing with lettuce with the dressing (save some for garnish and filling) and optional ingredients. Place about 1/2C of the salad in a Zucchini Pesto Wrap. Pour additional desired amount of dressing inside the wrap.Wrap like an enchilada. Drizzle the top with dressing.

Variations: The optional salad ingredients will work wonderful in this recipe. The croutons will give it a hardy texture.

Tips: You may fully dehydrate the wraps and freeze them for later use. Just place an unbleached parchment paper between each wrap before freezing. When you're ready to use it, remove it from the freezer and dip it in a little water. It'll become slimy and pliable again. You can also spread the dressing on it to make it pliable.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Project Valentine's Day

Project Valentine's Day was something I coined a few weeks before the big day. I knew right away that I wanted to make something lavish for Kelli. She deserves it...and lots more! I had a vision in my head, and of course not all visions come to fruition lol. Nonetheless, Project Valentine's Day was a success! What did I make you ask? A box of chocolates and a heart shaped cake!

The box of chocolates was an easy one to conceptualize. Chocolate is rather an easy thing to make. A little cacao, agave and ground nuts, you have yourself a winner!

I bought an empty heart shaped box and little paper guys from a restaurant supply store. I headed off to Chef Dara's (http://live-love-raw.blogspot.com/) house to get to work. When I arrived, long behold she had "caramel" already prepared in her fridge. Perfect! I went ahead and started with the cake while she prepared the chocolate dough.

Once the cake was in a stage where it had to sit in the freezer, I rolled little balls of chocolate and caramel. It was easy to get creative. Some were stuffed with dried cranberries, others were plain chocolate rolled in cacao or coconut flakes. I added pecans to a few as well.

Once I was done playing with the dough, I put them in the wrappers and placed the whole box in the freezer so it would keep longer :).

The real project was the heart shaped cake! At first I thought about making a triple layer chocolate cake. Kind of sounds like the Shawn White's Double McTwist 1260 in the halfpipe Olympic competition, a nearly impossible feat for the average person.

Dara handed me a raw dessert bible, Cafe Gratitude's Sweet Gratitude. Those guys have it down! If you haven't been to a Cafe Gratitude, GO!!!! Eat any one of their desserts or milkshakes and you'll be flying high through the clouds for the next day or two.

I flipped through the book and landed on a Strawberry Shortcake. How appropriate!!! It was broken into two parts, cake and filling. The basis for the cake consisted of 24oz of dates to 8C of grounded nuts (or nut flour). In this case I used almonds, the queen of nuts. The filling was a cashew cream (cashews, agave, coconut oil, vanilla) with chopped strawberries.

What was interested was that in the book it called to use a mixer to mix the dough. Perhaps in the "cooked" world of food, a standard household has a mixer. I've never heard of using a mixer in the raw food world. Well, we were short a mixer so my hands had to do the work! After about 20 minutes of massages, you can only imagine what my hands and arms felt like. With each minute the dough was getting more dense. It was rather sticky so I knew I had to had something of a powder form, be it more ground almonds or another form of powder. I choose powdered coconut. This worked really well!

I then divided the dough in half, one for the bottom layer and one for the top layer. I put a few drops of coconut oil on the bottom of the heart shaped spring form pan to keep the dough from sticking. I shaped the dough on the bottom of the pan and pressed it down firmly.

Next up was the cashew cream. I wish I could remember what all exactly was in there but I only remember the few mentioned above. This was created using the Vitamix. It tasted so good!

I poured half of the cashew cream over the dough. I reserved the other half to use as a frosting. I placed chopped strawberries in the cream. Next, I placed the pan in the freezer to allow the cashew cream to set. It took about an hour to get to the point where I could work with the top layer.

Traffic on the 405 was building up so I had to leave Dara a nice mess in the kitchen and hit the road. I took my project on the road! 50 minutes later, I got home and immediately placed the cake in the freezer.

The next day I removed the pan from the freezer, I had to shape the top layer. It's kind of difficult to shape a cake layer on top of a cream so I pre-shaped it. I did this by making rounding and flattening the dough, to about the thickness I wanted, on a cutting board. I placed pan on top and pressed down. This acted like a cookie cutter. I just removed the outside and voila!..another heart shaped layer. I placed the layer on top of the cashew cream and filled in the gaps with the dough pieces I removed earlier.

I had leftover dough so I used those in the box of chocolates as well :).

I let the whole thing sit in the freezer overnight because I didn't want Kelli to see.

I took it out of the freezer and prepared to frost it. This is where cake decorating skills would come in handy! I've never frosted a cake so only you could imagine! Yikes!!!!! My sister got the decorating genes, I just all the math stuff.

Dara suggested using beet juice to dye the cashew cream pink to use as a frosting. Great idea Dara! I microplaned a little beet and strained it through a nut milk bag. Pure juice! This works perfect if you only have to use a little juice. It's easier than setting up your juicer and having to clean it all.

I reblended the cashew cream frosting and while it was blending I added a little beat juice until I got the color I wanted. It was a nice light pink :). I used this to frost the cake. Not so fun! I think the trick is to use a lot of frosting, freeze it, use more frosting, freeze it, then shape it. I'm sure Meagan would disagree though; she's the resident pastry expert! That was just my logic given the experience I had.

After frosting the cake, I realized that I didn't do a very good job, expecially on the top part. I was not happy whatsoever so I covered it up with chopped strawberries :). At first I was just making a mess everywhere....but then it started to come together.

After I laid all the chopped strawberries on top I decided to add a little more flare. I piped the outline of the heart with a darker shade of the frosting. Note to self: freeze frosting after blending or it'll turn into liquid quickly and make a mess!

Don't ask me why but I added sliced strawberries across the sides and piped those as well. Not fun when strawberries are sliding down off the cake.

Finally, I was done!

KELLI LOVED IT. Or at least she gave me that impression hehe. The cake tasted fantastic! I still have a little left ;-). She also loved the box of chocolates! Her favorite was one made from all chocolate and powdered in cacao.

Piece of cake!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My friend the Coconut Oil...but wait, there's fat?

Why is coconut oil my friend? Because it is fantastic in raw desserts! It's used as a setting agent. It's melting temperature is 76 degrees F so once it's in the fridge, it will harden up pretty nice. I don't recommend eating Coconut Oil every day in large amounts, but if you're going to eat a fat, this one is a better alternative than butter.

I'm sure many of you have heard how Coconut Oil contains "medium chain" fatty acids as opposed to short or long chained. People say it will more likely to be used as energy than the longer chain fatty acids. That I have yet to look into, but let me share with you the difference of Medium Chain vs. Long Chain fatty acids and how they're processed in your body.

This is taken from wikipedia and it explains how fatty acids are absorbed in our system:

"Short- and medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed directly into the blood via intestine capillaries and travel through the portal vein just as other absorbed nutrients do. However, long-chain fatty acids are too large to be directly released into the tiny intestine capillaries. Instead they are absorbed into the fatty walls of the intestine villi and reassembled again into triglycerides. The triglycerides are coated with cholesterol and protein (protein coat) into a compound called a chylomicron.

Within the villi, the chylomicron enters a lymphatic capillary called a lacteal, which merges into larger lymphatic vessels. It is transported via the lymphatic system and the thoracic duct up to a location near the heart (where the arteries and veins are larger). The thoracic duct empties the chylomicrons into the bloodstream via the left subclavian vein. At this point the chylomicrons can transport the triglycerides to where they are needed."

Ok ok...it may seem like a lot of mumbo jumbo. Let me break it down and try to make some sense of it.

Short and Medium chain fatty acids are absorbed directly into the blood as other nutrients are.

Long chain fatty acids cannot go directly into the blood as do the others because they are too large. They reassembly themselves in triglycerides (not cool) and then they have one heck of a ride through your arteries and eventually to the blood.

Now that we've covered how it's absorbed, let's look at the Coconut Oil fatty acid profile:

Fatty AcidSaturationCarbonsPercent
OleicMonounsaturated18 6.2

Coconut oil contains approximately 92.1% saturated fatty acids, 6.2% monounsaturated fatty acids, 1.6% polyunsaturated fatty acids. The above numbers are averages based on samples taken. Numbers can vary slightly depending on age of the coconut, growing conditions, and variety.

What you want to look at is the number of carbon atoms present.
Short Chain = <6
Medium = 6-12
Long = 14 or more

So what you're looking for is the number of carbon atoms. As you can see, most of the carbons present are 6-12. Coconut oil, on average, as about 62.5% medium chain fatty acids.

Now if you're going to have fat in your diet, wouldn't you want a fat that travels essentially directly to your bloodstream? I sure would!

Hope this helps clear up a few things about Medium vs. Long Chain fatty acids!

Get Moving!

I didn't write too much about my last race because quite frankly I was a little embarassed. Let's face it, for me, it was a dismal performance. Since then I had only ran once until today! This is coming from a kid who ran 4-5 days a week. Twice in 2 weeks = not cool.

In the last few days my body has felt like it needed something. Perhaps a kick in the....well, this is a kids program. Today my buddy Dave and I pulled out a 7 miler at a 8:16 pace. It was a hard effort. From a scale 1-10, during the first half of the run, I'd put it at a 9.5. It was not pretty. I was relieved to reach the 3.5 mile turnaround.

When did running get so hard? It wasn't nearly this hard just a few months ago. I ran a 1:37 half marathon in mid October. Does one really fall of the wagon that quickly? YES! Maybe it was the 14 mile bike ride two days ago?...nah. No excuses. Running right now is not fun because I've stopped doing it consistently in the last few months.

That's with anything in life. When you have momentum, keep going. Don't stop. It starts with a simple excuse....I don't feel good today, I'll run tomorrow....Ah, I'm tired, I'll go later...I don't feel like it right now. NO! STOP! Put an end to excuses! The buck stops here! With running, it stops with me! No more skipping out on runs, no excuses, even if it's a few miles. It's better than nothing. No more skipping out on boxing (yes I box, but Kelli is much better at it than I am!). 3-4 days a week of 45 minutes of pure insanity is all it takes for boxing. No excuses!

If you're chasing your dream, you know what you need to do. Don't put it off. It's easy to not do anything. It's easy to quit. That's why most peolpe do. Write Make yourself accountable to someone.

Well, this post is making me accountable for running. I will run when I have to. No excuses! Race times will reveal the truth...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm Raw and They're Not

You might be in your raw food journey and your partner wants nothing to do with it. Is it hard for you? I sure don't think it makes it any easier.

My personal raw food journey began with my lovely girlfriend, now fiance :). She's still raw as long as I'm making all the food. We're not vegan's but we consider ourselves raw foodists. I know it doesn't make sense being that raw is a derivative (for all your math nerds) of veganism. The occasional non-raw dishes just might happen to contain animal product. We don't try stress ourselves out by trying to be "100% raw". We've done that before and believe me, it wasn't fun. For us, it's more about how we feel. If you're not feeling good and not having fun, what's the point?

My New Year Resolution was to be vegan. So far so good minus the crackers we buy at Trader Joe's coated with who knows what and gargonzola cheese. It's definitely yummy. We probably buy a box of those once a month or so. We can easily go through it in a day...and it's happened before.

If you're in a relationship and you want to go raw and your partner doesn't then try to communicate in a way that's effective for you both. Let them know how you feel. Talk openly without feeling threatened. This may or may not work for you but it has in my personal life.

Super Bowl Sunday: if we had cable, this wouldn't have been a problem, but we didn't so we went to a bar. Kelli wanted nachos and of course they came out covered in lots of cheese and some bits of meat. I picked around it because I made a decision that I was not going to eat meat or dairy this year. After a few minutes I asked her if it's uncomfortable for her that I was not eating the nachos covered with stuff I didn't want. She honestly said no and was glad to find me chips with nothing on them. I told her I didn't want to make her uncomfortable or feel weird. I also told her if she ever feels that way when we're out to just let me know. If I never know then I cannot resolve the issue.

Next came the gargonzola crackers from Trader Joe's. I know how much she really wanted them without her saying much. We share everything so if we got a box of crackers that happened to contain a dairy product, it would be extremely weird that I wouldn't be eating them. Just the thought of us not sharing something is weird in itself. I love her more than words can ever describe, more than you'd ever see radiate from my food. I'd do anything to make her happy. Even though those crackers may be her vice, I'm not going to get in the way of her journey. We bought some of those crackers and ate some tonight. I'll likely eat some tomorrow and the day after. If a few crackers with some cheese is the worst thing I eat all day, then I think I'm doing pretty dang good. I'm not going to throw her under the bus or make her feel bad for getting the crackers. I embrace the journey, not scold it.

Enjoy your journey. You'll continue to grow more beautiful each day. Your partner will notice a difference in you. They will soon be curious. Do not try to force it upon them. You cannot make them do something they do not want to do. They will have to come to that conclusion on their own.

Tongiht's dinner was a Mexican cuisine:
Enchiladas stuffed with Mexican seasoned cabbage rice and guacamole. They were topped with a Mexican seasoned cashew cheese. I added scallions, onions, jalapeno, Mexican Blend powder and chili powder to the cheese.

This dish was served with seasoned cabbage rice, guac and a cherry tomato. I used a scallion leaf for garnish.

I rolled the enchilada, spread the cheese on top then put it in the dehydrator for 1/2 hour at 125F.

I thought it tasted great. I think I would have to alter the recipe if someone wasn't a big fan of spice. I feel the spice really made that dish. Having it on top of the enchilda helps so the flavor isn't lost in the filling.

Texture was right on. Enchiladas are essentially slop in the middle. These had a nice cream/slop texture.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When Life Throws You Lemons...

...make more than just lemonade! Try a couple tablespoons of lemon juice in your pate or marinara sauce. Squeeze a little in your smoothie or green drink! I guarantee it'll taste 10x better and feel more alive!!!

Lemons are a funny thing. It's so sour and it makes your lips pucker (though Meyer lemons are more sweet). How often do you sit around the couch eating one anyway? Exactly! But, the juice that a lemon can produce is pretty amazing! Just one ounce gives you about 25% of your daily Vitamin C. I typically add at least 1oz (about 2T) to any recipe that either calls for or deserves lemon juice.

Why don't chef's add lemon juice to marinara? Does the lemon not deserve to be added? Is the marinara too good for lemon juice? They are a perfect marriage!!!!! Lemon brings out the best in the sauce. It makes it sing!!!! Try it sometime.

Choose a lemon that is fully yellow. Ones that have a hint of green are not fully ripe and are more acidic. Look for ones with thin skin. They are more juicy than the ones with the thicker flesh. You want to store them away from light but you can also keep them in the fridge for about a month. If you do use one out of the fridge, dip it in warm water to soften or let it sit out for a bit. Roll them around to soften...or massage. It'll extract more juice. If you're going to use the lemon itself, not just the juice, and are looking to eliminate some of the bitterness, remove the white pith.

Simple salad dressing: lemon juice, oil (olive or flax), garlic and pepper.

The point is, when you get dealt a lemon, it's a blessing because now you have the one ingredient that can change good to GREAT!

Enjoy the lemons that life throws you!!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's A Love/Hate Thing

Guess what I made?! Sauerkraut aka Cabbage Kraut! Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Fermentation is just converting carbohydrates into alcohol or better defined, converting sugars into ethanol.

I did this by shredding a head of cabbage, 1t salt per 10C of shreds, massaged it for a loooong time until I created a lot of juice, added unknown amounts of cracked black peppercorn, bay leaves and dill, then finally put it into a bowl to ferment. I used the outer leaves of the cabbage to create an air tight fit over the kraut. I pressed a small flat bowl over the center to really get the kraut deep into its juices. To keep it all in place, I filled up a quart Mason jar with water and placed it in the bowl, again assuring the kraut was in its juices. I laid a tea towel over the whole batch and set it on the lower portion of our bookshelf. I let it sit for 5 days....

Depending on temperature, it can take 3-14 days. I was just too excited so I to test it out. Good thing I did! This sucker was going dry!!!! Another day or two I'd be eating cabbage leather. We did have a couple warm days this week (75F) so I'm sure that didn't help. Next time I think I will juice some cabbage in my Green Star then add it to the massaged bunch. That will ensure it won't dry out. I also don't think I had the cabbage leaves tight enough around the kraut. This was a given when I noticed the edges curling up :-P.

Sauerkraut has a ton of Vitamin C (when it's not pasteurized or heated) as well as our friend the lactobacilli bacteria (if fermented correctly). There's actually 3 phases of the fermentation. A different bacteria takes over in each phase, lactobacilli being the last. For those concerned about pH level, it is on the acidic side. I wish I knew where abouts but maybe you can comment with the answer :). If you are sensitive to acidic foods, just eat a little at a time.

You're supposed to keep the kraut in an "anaerobic" environment. This is where I begin to compare cabbage kraut with running. What???...Cabbage and running???

I'm a runner and athletes hear a lot about "anaerobic" and "aerobic" exercise. You might find this at the gym on cardio machines. Well, to put it simple, anaerobic means "without air". When you're sprinting to the finish line and you can barely breathe, you're running in the anaerobic zone which is almost to your VO2 Max (Volume of Oxygen). You're essentially out of air. Then again, when it's the finish line, all adrenaline takes over and it's an out of body experience. Before you know it, you're 8" off the ground in a full sprint, one that even 100m World Record Holder Usain Bolt would be proud of.

With me, running is a love/hate thing. You can train all you want, but yet, come race day it's a hit or miss. Kind of like making kraut...sometimes it turns out great, sometimes, not so much. Though, it's a definite miss if you don't train at all lol. I've learned that the hard way. I have a race coming up on Super Bowl Sunday. It's my 3rd Surf City 1/2 Marathon in a row and 4th out of 5. It was my first ever race 5 years ago. Pretty crazy to think that I've been sort of running that long. Thanks Dave! The goal for the race?...unknown. Ideally a sub 1:40...but I'm not sure if I want to exert that kind of energy when the real race is March 21st, the L.A. Marathon :).

Running is just one of those things that I hate when I'm doing it but I love it when I'm done. I hate the thought of running but I love the way it makes me feel when I'm done. Race day numbers seems to always be better than expected, when you train properly. I guess that's the point of it. Work hard for 2-3 months and it pays off. That's a good philosophy with anything in life.

Enjoy life! Eat well. Work hard. Exercise. Love life!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Green Smoothies Make Us Happy

Yesterday afternoon Kelli and I were a little sluggish and cranky. We attributed it to not having our daily "Green Smoothie". We were running late for work and didn't have time to make it. Oops!

Since coming back from Living Light, we've made smoothies that consisted of 2 navel oranges, handful of greens (whatever we have - typically Romaine or Kale) and a banana. Topped off with a little water and ice....voila!

Why would this simple drink make us happy? Well I plugged in the ingredients on www.nutritiondata.com and got the nutritional facts. I was a little surprised by the numbers, but why should I have been? We blended lots of whole goodness and making it easily digestible!

Here are the numbers for each glass:

145 Calories
1g Fat
36g Carbs
8g Fiber
21g Sugar
4g Protein
252% Vitamin A
202% Vitamin C
11% Calcium
9% Iron
180% Vitamin K
62% Folate

In addition to that, we have at least 1 heaping Tablespoon of HealthForce Nutritional Vitamineral Green which has:

150% Daily Vitamin B12
50% Daily Calcium
50% Daily Iron
1.6 billion Probiotic Cells
0.8 grams of fat
4g Protien
6g Carbs

So yea....that's why Green Smoothies make us happy and that's why you too should incorporate a tasty green smoothie to your diet! Even if you don't eat any raw veggies or fruits throughout the week, at least do this one thing every day and you'll notice a difference! :)

We had this smoothie today and we're happy and energetic!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chocolate Cake with Love

I was in the middle writing a post about Omega 3 fatty acids and realized I can write a book on this. Nutrition can seem so complicated but I treat it like a puzzle. It's facinating. Better save it for another day. Today we're talking about chocolate cake.

Yesterday I woke up inspired to make a raw cake. I had visions in my head simliar to what I've seen Chef Meagan create at Living Light. Every time I blinked I saw cake. I wasn't going to let anything get in my way. I packed up my tools and some ingredients and I spent the afternoon at Chef Dara's house, founder of Live, Love, Raw.

I planned on follwing a recipe then decorating it with a piping bag. Once I got to Dara's, I realized I forgot a few things so essentially had to come up with this on my own, but with a few guidelines found in recipe books. Oh, I also forgot my 9" springform pan...doh!

The cake started off with almond flour and data paste. WOW...who doesn't love date paste, seriously?! Date paste is easy to make, just throw in a bunch of unpitted dates into the food processer and add water until your desired consistancy. Kelli and I used to put it on Mana Bread with almond butter...yum!

Ok, back to the recipe (which I didn't write down). So, I mixed the date paste with the almond flour by massaging it with my hands. I added some cinnamon and cacao powder. I divided the dough in two.

I was envisioning a two layer cake. Like date paste, who doesn't love cashew cream?!!! Dara had attempted cashew cheese but I think the little bacteria guys fell asleep the night before because the cheese was not fermented. Nonetheless, I was able to utilize the "cheese" and convert it to a cream. I did this by adding vanilla bean powder, agave nectar, coconut oil and a pinch of salt.

My next layer was thinly sliced strawberries. WOWZA.

I covered the strawberries with a layer of cake and frosted it with a chocolate frosting which was made from cacao, agave and coconut oil and voila! Done!

All and all, I believe I used about 7C of almonds, which was eventually processed into flour, ummmmm...20 dates to create date paste?....1/2 pint of straberries? I should have written this down as I went. Bad Chef!

There was a moment, or two, in which I had no idea what I was doing. Food has a habit of talking to me. Ask a Chef. Dara had a lovely heart shaped fluted pan that I was able to utilize in place of my springform. I layered 1/2 of the cake dough into the bottom of the pan. At this point, Dara had left to pick up her daughter from school. The next hour was spent in serenity. I spread a layer of cashew cream on top. I put the whole thing in the freezer to have the cream set (coconut oil has a melting temperature of 76degrees F). Now, I should had let it sit longer but I had to finish up or I was never going to beat traffic on the way home. I took it out of the freezer only after 20 minutes or so. Actually, I don't even think it was that long. Ok, so try to picture a heart shaped pan half full of dough and cream. How was I layer another dough mixture on top without disturbing the cream and making a mess?...alas, I knew engineering school would pay off eventually lol. I laid the dough out and made a circle, sort of. I placed the heart shaped pan on top of my circle and just removed the edges. I peeled the dough off the bottom of the pan and came out with a beautiful, heart shaped layer of dough. Before placing it on top of the cream, I thinly sliced strawberries created 1 layer on top of the cream. I took the heart shaped layer, placed it on top and filled in the gaps. It was coming to fruition. I removed the sides of the heart shaped pan by pushing up from the bottom. Next came the frosting. Looooots of love frosting the heart cake. I gently frosted the cake on all sides and when I was done I put it back in the freezer. Again, should have let it sit for 2 hours but traffic was already building up on the 405.

Dara came home with a special guest, Richard, about 2 minutes after I put the cake in the freezer. There was a huge mess in her kitchen so I felt the need to display the cake. They both fell in love with the look. The question was...how did it taste?! Well, Richard had two pieces, Dara and I each had one. My mind was just processing so fast while I was eating this. It was like the Matrix where you just see 0's and 1's flashing on the screen. I was just not happy with it. Then again, I'm rarely happy with any dish I make. Why is that? Perhaps I should stop being too critical. I know my taste buds are drastically different than the average american.

I took the remaining cake home and FINALLY got to freeze it for over an hour. Kelli ate a piece, then ate another and another. I didn't get why she loved it so much and I hadn't so I decided to try a piece after it had set in the freezer. WOWZA it was goooooood!...so tonight I had another 3 pieces lol.

My sequencing is a little off here but let's revert back to Richard eating the cake. He asked me how much saturated fat and cholesterol was in that piece he was eating. Again, 0's and 1's flashing through my mind. The answer has yet to be determined but I can approximate it. Cholesterol = 0! Cholesterol is only formed in animals. It is not found in plant based foods. Saturated Fat = about 6g.

How did I come up with that? Well, 1C of raw almonds contains about 5g sat fat. I used about 7C worth. The cake can easily be divided into about 16-20 pieces. Therefore, 7*5=35g and 35/16 = 2.2g. I only used 1/4C of coconut oil. That contains about 47g sat fat. That sounds like a lot but I'll explain the whole Fat issue in a later post. Ok...so given that logic, add in another 3g sat fat per slice. Maybe 1g for the cashew cream, so all in all, we're talking about 6g sat fat per slice. I believe the recommended daily allowance is about 20g. Each slice also contained about 14g protein. There was a ton of sugar in each slice too!...the dates alone contribute about 20g per slice, then factor in the agave....so perhaps 25g sugar per slice.

Here are some pics! Enjoy!

Monday, February 1, 2010

So Exciting!

My first blog ever. I consider myself a "techie", yet I've resisted specific social network-ish movements throughout the past few years, blogging being one of them. Why now?...I feel I have information to share. I feel inspired by life. I hear the voices, I read the signs, the time is now.

So what's this blog site about? Raw food. Health. Those are statements. Yes, plain and simple statements but in depth, they're complicated. I'm inspired to spread the message in a way that people will "get it". I can't change people's minds, only they can do that on their own. I can only lead them to the water per se.

A little about me
I have the most beautiful soon to be wife anyone could ever have, Kelli :). She pushes me because she believes in me. She inspires me. Every day I wake up, I want to be a better man than I was the day before, all for her. If it weren't for her and God, I wouldn't be where I am today.

I grew up in a city called Waterbury located in the beautiful state of Connecticut. I graduated college in 2003 from the University of New Haven with a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Mathematics. In 2005 I followed a dream. The dream that began in 1998 eventually led me to Los Angeles, California. When something is in your head and you can't get it out of your mind....when you just know its right...you'd do anything for it.....well that's how I felt about moving to California. I searched and searched and searched for a job here. Years went by before I got my chance. The day of my interview was also the first day I had ever visited California. I felt at home. Three weeks later my car was packed and I was driving cross country with my college buddy Jeff.

I grew up as an athletic child and was fairly health conscious before moving to California. It was only fitting that I continued my exercising in sunny SoCal! That's where I began running with a colleague, now my best friend, Dave. We've ran over a dozen 1/2 Marathon races together. He's done a few marathons in which I've chickened out on.

I was always looking for ways to improve my health and that lead to my raw food journey. Being aware of my body's needs, a couple of months into dating Kelli, she wanted to do a cleanse. I was all for it! If it were a Draft, I'd be the first in line! During our 10-Day Master Cleanse, she mentioned that if we were cleansing our bodies, it only makes sense to replace it with raw organic foods. You know that look on your face when you bite into a lemon?...yea well...that was me. I thought this cleansing thing had taken a chunk out of her cerebral cortex, buuuuuut, since I'd do anything for her, I had to support her. We were/are a team. Plus it made sense. I'm wired like an engineer. It was sound and logical. A week later after attempting recipes, I knew this was it! This was what I wanted to do. I loved the creativity of converting a cooked recipe to a raw version while capturing all of the health benefits! The dream began. It's not easy leaving an engineering job to pursuit a career in raw food culinary arts but it was all I could think of. Sixteen months went by before I got my chance.

I graduated from the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute (www.rawfoodchef.com) as an Associate Chef and Instructor.

So the journey begins, one blog, one recipe, one life at a time.