Raw Food 3-Day Starts Tomorrow!

Image by: Manitoba Harvest

Image by: Manitoba Harvest

A totally raw diet has been on my to-do list for a super long time. While I eat lots and lots of raw foods every day — sometimes 75% of what I eat is raw — I’ve never gone completely 100%. Actually, after looking at this raw meal plan, I know why I’ve waited so long! But, you can do anything for 3 days, right? This time around, I’m not going to do anything fancy or extreme. No sprouting or specialized products beyond hemp hearts for making raw hemp milk, and no specialized equipment beyond my juicer, Vitamix blender, and oven to act as a dehydrator running at 115 degrees. I *am* going to try and replicate those pricey kale chips that are coated with “cheesy” raw cashews. Keep an eye out for that final product. So, here goes: Starting tomorrow! With me?

Breakfast: I plan to start the day with herbal tea and a hearty Green Smoothie containing fruits (banana, berries), veggies (greens), raw almond butter (newly found at Trader Joe’s), and raw hemp milk (see recipe below). I’ll continue my philosophy that a healthy high-calorie breakfast will bring you nothing but glory throughout the day. Many raw foodists eat an entire watermelon and 15 bananas for breakfast. That sounds dreadful. Other ideas that sound way better (to me at least…):

Snacks: I plan to chow on raw nuts, fruit, veggies, and my Pulp Crax dipped in raw hummus or spread with mashed avocado. Perhaps some dried fruit or a Larabar.

Lunch: Large fresh veggie salad topped with raw seeds, cold-pressed olive oil (raw foodists like this brand, although I’ll probably stick with the cold-pressed one in my pantry for this 3-day experiment), a teeny tiny bit of apple cider vinegar (can’t find any other easy-to-find vinegars that are raw), and sea salt.

Dinner: Raw soup, warmed up with the spin of the Vitamix. Check out all these raw soup recipes. The Carrot Ginger and Cream of Mushroom look especially tasty. Or, I may go for Skinny Dish’s very own Gazpacho a la Shepherd Street using apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, omitting the croutons, and doubling up on the avocado. Plus, some raw almonds on the side or crumbled on top.

Dessert: 1 or 2 dates stuffed with raw almond butter. Divine! I tried this recipe for Raw Cookie Dough SHAPE Magazine a while back using raw agave instead of honey & maple syrup. It totally rocked!

Night-time Snack: I have one of these every night, and I can’t imagine that that urge is going to go away with the powers of a raw diet, although I’m totally open to being surprised. I will *plan* on having some fruit and a mini “trail mix” of dried fruit and raw nuts along with my herbal tea.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Raw diets claim to give you more energy, better clarity, greater euphoria, better sleep, and even better sex.

For today, happy green foods and St. Patrick’s Day! I’ll see you tomorrow for more green and more raw 🙂

hemp milkRaw Hemp Milk

1 cup raw hemp hearts
4 cups chilled water

Blend for 30-60 second until milky white and smooth. Store in fridge for up to 7 days. Makes 4 cups.

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Sprouted Tofu

Why Sprouted? (we’re beyond ‘Why Tofu?’, right?!) Regular tofu is made from cooked soybeans while sprouted tofu is made from sprouted soybeans. Sprouted tofu is easier to digest (sprouting softens the beans and releases troublesome phytates), and is richer in protein, calcium, and iron. Too good to be true? Nope! Sprouted T is similar in calories, slightly lower in carbohydrates, and slightly higher in fat (but the good omega-3 fish-oil type).

Getting soy foods into your cauldron is a pretty good idea. They help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, especially the bad, garbage-on-the-curb-of-your-arteries LDL kind, while also curbing diabetes and preventing cancer and its recurrence.

Sprouted tofu is used just like regular tofu (in Chocolate Mousse, or any of these 200 recipes), but what about the taste? Sponge-tastic? I surveyed Team Reilly in comparison to Trader Joe’s organic regular extra firm tofu (which is a family favorite). Both tofus were uncooked and untouched.

During a blind taste-test, I asked the team which one they preferred and if they could tell which one was sprouted.

Bitchin’ Dietitian: Preferred the softer-textured sprouted tofu, and of course knew it was the sprouted tofu b/c she made up the test.
Bitchin’ Husband:  Thought the regular tofu had more flavor, and that the sprouted tofu wasn’t bad, but tasted like nothing. Guessed that the one he preferred was the sprouted tofu, but it was actually the regular tofu.
5-Year-Old: MUCH preferred the sprouted tofu and ate more than her taste-test serving, but thought it was the regular one.
3-Year-Old: MUCH preferred the regular tofu and ate more than his taste-test serving, but thought it was the sprouted one.
1-Year-Old: Didn’t have a preference, and ate both quite vigorously. When asked which one he thought was the sprouted one, he said “eh eh eh.” Translation:  “the one on the left” (the sprouted one).

Interpretation of Results:
Sprouted tofu–with its easier digestion, higher levels of protein, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fats–is a groovy alternative to regular tofu. Since few people eat tofu raw (thank your lucky stars you weren’t part of today’s test), stir-frying, and adding flavors to tofu will change both types similarly. Sounds like a Sprout-Out for TJ’s Sprouted Tofu!

Recipe op?… What are your favorite ways to do tofu, or, now, sprouted tofu?

Gluten-Free and Fabulous

It seems like no matter where I am… grocery store, nutrition counseling clinic, REI, playground… I find myself recommending a gluten-free 10-day experiment to folks who are feeling zapped on energy, gassy, irritable, unable to focus, and unexplainably bummed out. So, despite feeling fantastic, focused, and strangely excited by everyday chores, I decided to do, track, and share my own dietitian-approved gluten-free day.

Gluten–which is the Latin word for “glue” (tasty!)–is the protein portion of a wheat kernel, and important in giving wheat flour it’s elasticity. You may have heard of Seitan, aka the “wheat meat”, which is pure wheat gluten, and pure protein. Gluten, unfortunately, is responsible for a whole variety of allergies ranging from very mild and often unnoticeable to extremely painful, disruptive, and seriously serious (such is the case with Celiac disease). Gluten also tends to cause inflammation, and while I’m personally quite a fan of the glue myself, it’s amazing how great people feel after ditching it for 10+ days. Here’s how my gluten-free day tasted:

Gigantic glass of water, 2 cups coffee with soy creamer & sugar
1 slice of DELICIOUS Udi’s Gluten-Free Whole Grain Bread (Know of any good egg-free, gluten-free breads?)
Hot cereal made with 1 cup cooked quinoa, raisins, chopped apple, vanilla soymilk, and cinnamon

AM Snack
1 Trader Joe’s FIBERFUL fruit bar
1 plum

1 cup baby carrots
Large arugula salad with 3 pieces of homemade baked tofu (recipe in upcoming Trader Joe’s Skinny Dish! book)
2 gluten-free Sesame Cherry Chewies (again in the upcoming Trader Joe’s Skinny Dish! book)
Rice crackers
2 small squares dark chocolate

PM Snack
Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snack (whole package)
1/2 Haas avocado w/ sea salt (HEAVENLY!)

Water (skipping the Hefeweizen, but could opt for a gluten-free beer)
2 corn tortillas with vegetarian refried beans and loads of stir-fried bell peppers

Late-Night Snack
1 slice Udi’s Gluten-Free Whole Grain Bread with peanut butter and sliced banana
Chamomile tea

What I Wanted to Eat But Had to Pass Up…
The kids’ leftover cinnamon raisin toast at breakfast, pretzel sticks, graham crackers, a whole grain tortilla, and a whoopie pie.

If you have the right ingredients on hand, this is totally doable, tasty, and energizing! Other glue-free ideas?

Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Extinguishing A Chronic Inner Campfire

Motivated by a recent knee injury (after diving for a frisbee without a cape), I’ve decided to revisit inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods.

Back in 2004, before iPads, Time Magazine published an article blaming inflammation for heart attacks, cancer, Alzheimer’s, you name it. So what IS inflammation and how does it do good or evil? I always liked a good campfire. Should I not?

Here’s the deal: During an injury, blood vessels widen (swell) to allow white blood cells to rush to the injured area, repair damage, and wipe out bacteria. This swelling/ inflammation/ “healing” process is what actually causes the pain of an injury, and it’s one of our body’s best defense systems. This is acute inflammation (Funny, because my knee is far from cute!).

Now. Injury aside, there are also lots of pro-inflammatory troublemakers that are continuously released in our bloodstream. They’re killer whales that attack healthy cells, blood vessels, and tissues rather than protecting them. And while we can’t live without acute inflammation, this chronic inflammation can wreak havoc over time (like a slow poison), and it rears it’s not-so-purdy head with type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, arterial plaque buildup, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, digestive disorders such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, allergies, migraines, and fibromyalgia.

Whether your goal is to decrease joint pain, digestive upset, plaque formation, or prevent cancer, here are inflammatory foods to keep to a minimum:

Inflammatory Foods to Avoid (more details here)

  • Sugar
  • Common Cooking Oils
  • Refined Grains (white bread, white rice, white pasta, cakes, cookies, etc.)
  • Dairy products
  • Meats
  • Trigger Foods that exacerbate symptoms (many people are sensitive to wheat gluten, corn, and eggs)
  • Alcohol
  • Food Additives
  • Trans Fats

Certain people and certain diseases may be more sensitive to certain foods.  Wheat and dairy tend to be especially common triggers for Crohn’s disease, and meat and alcohol for ulcerative colitis.

People who are chronically stressed maintain a low-grade level of inflammation. So even when food isn’t triggering the inflammation, the body has a harder time fighting illness and disease. Inflammation can be reduced by (obviously) avoiding trigger foods and inflammatory foods, and keeping portion sizes small at mealtime. Overeating also encourages inflammation. A plant-based plan not only avoids the major inflammation triggers, but is especially low in calories, and even includes many of the foods helpful at reducing inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Gulp Down (more details here)

  • Tart cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and lots of other lip-smacking fruits
  • Avocados
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Broccoli, and most green and aromatic veggies like onions and garlic
  • Herbs & Spices: Basil, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Turmeric
  • Cocoa (70% or more) and Licorice
  • Fermented foods (tempeh, miso, etc.)
  • Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Flaxseeds
  • Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as hemp oil and flax oil
How to incorporate these foods? Check out these recipes!

Gas and Bloating be Gone!

Photo by: Eneas

Whether you’ve upped your bean and veggie intake (Gold star), eat too fast, or just have a sensitive digesteruski system, here are some ways to keep the life-extending farty foods in your diet and even maintain your 80-mile-an-hour chow-down pace while still keeping your friends and pants fully buttoned:

1. Ditch Dairy and Wheat for 3 days. Dairy products (milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, creamy dressings, etc.), and wheat-containing foods (bread, pasta, flour tortillas, etc.) are often hard for our systems to break down, causing toots, bloating, and inflammation. Replace them with almond milk (Almond Breeze is now in most grocery stores nationwide and even the sweetest vanilla variety has 20 fewer calories than skim milk), gluten-free breads and cereals (Rice Chex), corn tortillas, brown rice, and quinoa. Relief? Keep them out for good.

2. Skip fried foods, processed foods, and refined sugars. While tasty, these guys cause a great deal of indigestion. If you’re opening food packages several times a day, or notice grease on your napkin at the end of a meal, it’s time for a fart redirect.

3. Renew your love for Ginger Rogers. Enjoy hot ginger tea before and after meals, or a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger before meals. Ginger is a big-time gas reliever, digestion easer, and nausea and motion sickness remedy. No wonder Ginger succeeded on the Love Boat!

4. Chow down on Parsley, Fennel, Caraway Seeds, Dill, and Anise. Realistically, this one’s probably not going to happen. But, all these natural compounds are great tummy tuckers and breath fresheners. For extra credit, add them to cooking and enjoy less of the post-meal bloat.

5. Enjoy hot Peppermint tea. Before and after meals, go for herbal tea bags or add a drop of peppermint oil to hot water. Sip, and calm the inner storm.

6. Get yourself some Probiotics. Everyone’s doing it, now’s your turn. Probiotics help restore good bacteria and ease digestion. Foods that are naturally high in probiotics include pineapple, tempeh, kimchi, natto, sauerkraut, and miso. If those don’t sound good, I love Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics Plus Supplement.

7. Go for the Garlic. Which is worse, garlicky breath, or stinky, loosened pants? Fresh garlic stimulates digestion. Order extra.

8. Delve into the Dills. One dill pickle or a teaspoon of pickle juice calms digestion just like gripe water does for babies. There’s a reason restaurants serve pickles alongside greasy burgers and fries.

9. Wheel out trapped gas. When you’re alone, lay on the floor, legs up in the air and move them in a bicycle motion.

10. Cleanse your colon. If all else fails, consider a good colon cleansing. The act of colon cleansing is far from good, but the results are amazing.

Other ideas? Eating less beans or veggies not an option!