Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Links for Food Storage

 On tonight's episode of Real Health Revolution, I talked about food storage.  Here are a few links to videos and websites that will give you a great introduction to the subject.

Wendy Dewitt's Food Storage Seminar - They don't get better than this.  There are 9 parts.  This is the link to the first part.  This is a must-see.

Getting Your Food Storage - One woman shows you her stash, and gives tips.

Everyday Food Storage - Another woman's food storage.  Her other videos show you how to cook with food storage.  Not always the healthiest recipes, in my opinion, but not bad, and she gives good information.

Mrs. Survival - The be-all, end-all, best place to get started learning about food storage and other survival/preparedness/self-sufficiency topics.  These ladies know their stuff.  They have a forum, a "Best of" section, and more.

Captain Dave's Survival Center - A more man-oriented site. This was one of the first sites I turned to, fourteen years ago when I started looking into food storage, preparedness, etc.  Very comprehensive.  Their food storage info is right to the point.  You can't ask for more information.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Eating Healthy When You're Broke

 It saddens me to say this, but I am watching more and more people around me succumb to the current economic crisis.  Relatives who were doing well and living on credit three years ago are nearly as broke as we are.  In my area, we can't sell anything on Craigslist, because everyone wants you to give it to them on payments, trade for something they own (and of a lower value), or give you pennies on the dollar for it.

I've come across quite a few people who are dangerously close to losing their house.  Although my husband is employed now, he went over a year without a job, and we are still suffering financially because of it.  We can't seem to catch up, and things are getting worse.  We're about to lose everything if something doesn't change...and we're not spenders.  We're barely getting by.

I know there are many people out there going through the same thing, and worse.  So I've decided to try to solve my own problem, and hopefully help some of you out there in the process. 

Anyone who knows me, knows how important it is for me to feed my family healthy food.  But how can  you afford organic food when you can barely afford conventional food as it is?

I know there are ways, and I'm determined to find them.  I recently did two podcasts on this topic for my Blogtalkradio show, Real Health Revolution.  It was a basic overview of tips on how to improve your health without spending a lot of money.  But I want to do more than that.

My goal is to come up with healthy recipes and ingredient lists that the average person on a tight budget can afford.  It will be based on making items from scratch, from whole foods.  This may be a challenge for those who are busy, but I think the average person can do it, if they really want to.  That's the key...you spend time on what matters to you.  If you're spending time watching tv, on the computer, or doing anything that isn't absolutely necessary, but say that you "don't have time" to cook from scratch, you're fooling yourself.  I should know.

I have six young children, and I homeschool.  But the fact is, I find plenty of time during the week for the internet.  I don't really want to give that up, but I know I need to.  How can I say I don't have time to feed myself or my family well, when I still have time to be on the computer?  I can't.

So here's my challenge:  spend less time on unimportant activities, and more time coming up with a cheap healthy food alternatives and recipes that I can afford...and then implement them!

I plan to come up with a full menu for one week, complete with grocery list and assemble it into an ebook format.  If you have any suggestions or tips, I would love to hear them!  When it is done, I will assemble it into an ebook format, and share a few recipes with my readers.

If you want to hear about my frugal adventure with low-budget, health, natural food, sign up to follow me so you will know when my project is ready to share!

Update:  Still planning to do a healthy recipe book, but it will likely contain a large amount of raw food, as we are eating primarily raw right now.  But the biggest thing you can do to eat healthy on the cheap is to start growing your own food!  

Monday, October 25, 2010

Real Health Revolution Radio Show

Real Health Revolution.  It is a podcast radio show recorded via blogtalk radio.   The show begins at 8pm pacific/11pm eastern time.

It will be broadcast live, and anyone can listen.  Those who sign up for blogtalk radio as members will be able to participate in the chat room if desired.  There will also be a number for listeners to call in, although I may not have the time to actually take calls tonight.

Segments will include Reiki, various types of natural, healthy exercise, gemstone therapy, natural ways to alleviate depression, health news, etc.  For now, the show will be only 30 minutes long, so be sure to get to the show page early.  The reason is that it costs $40 a month to upgrade to a longer show.   With a large family, that's a big chunk for me.  So I do hope to increase to at least a one hour show, but that will have to wait until I know that there is enough demand for the show.  Until then, I will try to schedule two shows a week.  Episode two is scheduled for this Friday, October 29th, in the same time slot.

If you like Real Health Revolution and want to hear longer episodes, you can help by spreading the word.  You can even grab a link from blogtalk radio to put a BTR player into your sidebar that plays my show episodes.  Blog about it, tweet about it, mention it on facebook and other social networking sites, link to the show page and the Real Health Revolution blog, to this blog, and to my Reiki website, ReikiRenew.com.  There are also really great links in the sidebar of this blog for really great products, which I receive a small kickback on if you click and buy them, so that's another way to help support the podcast. The more revenue I can get, the better information and services I provide (as of this writing I've made nothing, but invested quite a bit of time between all my websites and prepping for the podcast).  I plan to start how-to videos on YouTube in the future, as well.

Also, if you miss the show, blogtalk keeps archives of old shows, which I've heard are usually available within a few minutes of the show ending, and at some point they are uploaded to iTunes as well.  There is a link to subscribe to the iTunes podcasts on the show page.

 Please visit the RHR blog.  Feel free to leave comments about the show, and if you have any questions, comments, or topics you'd like to suggest, please contact me at simplyZZZnaturalhomestead@gmailZZZ.com.  (Copy and paste the email address into your address bar, then delete the ZZZ's and hit enter.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Toxins in Toys and Safe Alternatives

Unless you've been living under a rock (or tv-less like me, lol) you've probably heard the growing controversy over the last couple of years over lead, phthalates, BPA, etc. in toys and other products.

It makes me really angry that the government wants to regulate the heck out of thrift stores and second hand children's stores (thereby putting them out of business) over the lead issue, and yet major companies just somehow are accidentally letting lead-filled toys slip into this company.

These money-grubbing, child-endangering bastards need to be taught a lesson...and if the government won't do it, then we need to.  How?  Hit them where it hurts--their wallets!

Stop buying plastic crap for your kids.  (And if you just have to, buy it used.  That's right, used.)  I know, natural toys cost an arm and a leg.  But here's something I'm coming to find out...buying your child one or two expensive but well-made toys is more rewarding than buying her a bunch of plastic junk.  Here's why...

1.  It doesn't break a week later.  I have six children, and they can be hard on toys.  Doll beds and carriages--aren't they made to hold five-year-olds?  No?  My children don't seem to get that.  I've given up buying plastic doll strollers that break.  I'm saving up for a really good one.

2.  Children seem to appreciate the quality.  Really, they do.  I think they can sense when a toy is made well and looks good.  I bought Penelope Peapod dolls, and worried that they'd tear up the basket cradles.  Nope, still going strong.  They're reasonably careful with them, and treat them as they deserve (sort of).  Of course, I also made sure to tell my girls that they are expensive toys, and that they're special and  need to be taken care of if they want more of them. ;-)

3.  With fewer toys, children appreciate them more.  One Christmas we gave our children quite a few toys.  Then relatives gave them more.  It was a present-opening fiasco.  They just wanted to play with one or two items, but we had to make them keep opening, and they just got crankier and crankier from over-stimulation.  Most of the toys were forgotten right away, in favor of the one or two favorites.  What a waste of money.  Fast-forward to another Christmas: one quality toy given to each, plus two toys from relatives, for a total of three toys per child.  Best Christmas ever. Calm, peaceful, and the children loved their toys.

4.  Less worry over toxins.  If you choose your toys carefully, they are safer for your children, and you can feel good about them playing with them.  With the plastic toys we still have, I am forever telling them "get that out of your mouth!"  I need to ditch them.  (By the way, does anyone know if the Schleich animals are safe?)

5.  Less clutter from cheap, broken, unused toys.  We have tons of toys in boxes, half of which are broken, missing pieces, or rarely used. With Christmas and six birthdays every year, it's an exponentially increasing clutterific nightmare!  Now we're paring back, giving only a few, good-quality toys for presents, and slowly crawling out of the clutter.

I hope this gives you some food for thought, as Christmas approaches.  You can avoid the traditional binge of consumerism, while still giving gifts to your family, by choosing fewer, high-quality, natural toys.   

Send a message to greedy conglomerates that we will NOT stand for them poisoning our children to make a fast buck!

"Voting" with our dollars by buying safe toys is the most important way to make sure that in the future, more safe toys are available.

Future posts will tackle toys and toy companies that put your child's safety first. My goal is to post reviews of good, natural toys, but that will have to wait until my budget permits me to buy more toys.  I only have a few good toys so far, and I may be able to review those...if I can find the clothes that have been torn off the dolls.  ;-)

 Below are a few fun toys that are healthy alternatives for your child.  As a former teacher, I can heartily recommend natural wood blocks, but I recommend that you consider getting two or three sets, particularly if you have multiple children.  The more blocks, the higher you can build!  But you can get by with just 100 blocks (and that's a good price for that many.) 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Food Inc. Review

Oh. My. Gosh.

If you haven't seen Food, Inc., you need to buy it, rent it, borrow it, whatever it takes.  I'd heard sooooo many people say how good and how important this documentary is, but I just couldn't justify the $25 to buy it.

I was an idiot.

Seriously, this will change the way you look at food and at your family's health.  I was already into eating healthy.  And I'm pretty well-informed about the food industry.  However, they put it into such a neat little package, that I think it's really easy for anyone to follow and really "get it."

They condensed an amazing amount of information into it, and kept it interesting.  And I have to say that I'm impressed with the quality of the graphics they used, particularly with the opening credits.  It's not a blockbuster or anything, but I felt the quality of it was a step above the typical documentary.

One thing that will really impact you is how our food industry treats animals and the planet.  I do not consider myself an environmentalist or animal activist by any means, but I do believe that God gave us the animals and the planet to sustain us, but with that sustenance comes responsibility.  Plus, to be frank, you just don't poop in your nest.  Meaning that if we want the animals and plants to sustain us, we need to sustain them.

Don't worry, there aren't any overly graphic scenes, a la PETA undercover videos.  The producers did an excellent job of walking the fine line between lifting the veil on the inhumane treatment these animals get, without going to the extremes of grossing people out and making them tune out.  It was just sad, really.  My heart ached for those poor creatures.  And the workers aren't treated much better. 

For me, it was really an eye opener, because I've gotten really lazy with my eating lately. One thing I've learned is that the healthier you eat (at least in my case), the harder you fall "off the wagon".  Then it becomes REALLY hard to get back on.  This movie was just the push I needed, to remind me how bad the SAD (Standard American Diet) way of eating is.  It's not really food, people.  It's chemically processed fake crap that will kill you.

Which explains why I've felt so cruddy lately.  Which I already knew.  But the film really brought it home for me.  I'm spending the next few days coming up with an affordable meal plan.  I am the absolute worst meal planner in the history of mankind.  Which means I spend too much on stuff I want (but don't need) and forget to buy what I do need...leading to waste.  Not to mention the convenience foods I eat when I'm not eating healthy.

So I will be doing a series of posts about eating healthy, what we can do to change the system, frugal recipes and menu plans, as well as addressing common complaints about why we think we "can't" eat healthy.

Please leave a comment with your suggestion of what your own complaints or challenges are to eating organic, local food, and I'll try to address them and/or come up with solutions. I'm also considering doing a one-time linky party for cheap, easy organic recipes.  Let me know if you'd be interested in that.

In the meantime, buy this movie!  Or at least rent it.  I rented it, but it's so important that I feel I really need to buy it now, to be able to watch it on occasion when I need a kick in the pants!

Borders and Barnes and Noble stores usually carry it, and I think Netflix does.  I also believe you can rent it off of iTunes.

Please Note:  One of the links below is a regular DVD, one is a BLU-RAY, and one is the paperback book that followed the movie.  Be sure you're choosing the right one.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Antique Dining Set

Labor Day weekend I scored an entire antique dining set, including table, six chairs, buffet, and sideboard...for only $250!  What's the catch? Wellll...

The table is kinda in pieces.  Oh yeah, and the furniture is all water damaged, with the veneer warped and peeling off.

Still a deal?  You betcha!

The six chairs are very sturdy.  They could use some re-gluing as they are squeaky, but they can hold my weight--which is saying something!  Usually I see chairs like this for $40 a piece and up at yard sales, and they're falling apart.  The guy only wanted $300 for the chairs, and threw the rest in for free.  I talked him down to $250, and he threw in this chair...

and a wooden office chair on wheels (to be featured in an upcoming before/after post) for free.  Cool!

The guy is a furniture refinisher, and showed me how I could fix the veneer and refinish it.  He said he got it from an insurance company.  It had been damaged when the owners were away, and the sprinkler system in the house malfunctioned.  The owners kept the china hutch and the insurance company replaced the rest...and the refinisher bought it from them.  He's had it four years, and hasn't found the time to do it.  He had several projects he was selling.  He said it would be a $3000 set if he re-did it himself.  He and his wife were really nice...they loaded the set up for me (twice, it took two trips) and he gave me his phone number and said to call if I needed any advice.  People are so nice around here.

Now I'm no fool...I don't have his talent and experience.  It would take a lot of work and know-how to make this set really shine again by refinishing it.  But I'm not planning to...I'm going to paint it.  I'm starting with recovering and painting the chairs one by one this week (tutorial coming soon).  I think the pieces look worse than they are--the damage is all to the veneer.  So it's not as bad as it looks. It should be a real learning experience. I'm looking forward to it!

Here's the buffet (the sideboard is hiding  behind it)....

Here is the neato silverware insert for the buffet top drawer...

Be sure to sign up as a follower to receive updates on my crazy dining set experiment!  If I can do this (oh, I hope I can do this) SO CAN YOU!  ;-)


New Posts in the Works

   Fall is here!
Sorry for my blogging absence.  It's been sooo crazy.  We were spending tons of time looking for a new house to rent, packing our gazillions of possessions, and then moving.  We're all moved in, so look for some new posts very soon!

I still have to unpack, but I'm excited, because this house is nicer than most we've lived in.  Others have been bigger, with more potential, but this one already has painted walls (yes, other than "builder white")!  And though, as a renter, I'll be limited to what I can do, I have great plans.

I'll be transforming some old furniture and repurposing things, all on a very tight budget, so look forward to some really neat low-budget re-dos.  I just scored a water-damaged antique dining set for $250, and I plan to post pictures of my progress with it.  If I can find my camera usb cord, I'll post "before" pictures today.

So sign up as a follower to be updated on my latest achievements!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Depression Series, Part 1: Why Are We So Depressed?

I am starting a new series of posts, focusing on depression.  It has literally become an epidemic in America, and is rapidly spreading across the globe.  The posts will cover the causes of depression, natural remedies, the dangers of anti-depressants, and more.

Why are so many Americans suffering from depression today?  What is so different about our society that almost 10% of our adult population are depressed? 

Some may say that our society is more accepting of someone seeking treatment, so fewer people are hiding their struggles.  But is that true?  Studies show that 41% of depressed women are too embarrassed to seek help.  80% of depressed people are going "untreated".  92% of African American males do not seek treatment.

But the problem doesn't end there. 

The rate of increase of depression among preschoolers is 23%!  Preschoolers?  Do you remember being depressed before you even got into kindergarten?  I don't.  And none of the kids I knew seemed the least bit depressed.  Assuming a child had a "normal" life (i.e., isn't facing abuse, poverty, etc.) the most depressing thing that happened to the four-year-olds that I knew is that they didn't get the toy they wanted for Christmas, or they got a swat for their misdeeds, or their big brother broke something that belonged to them.  What is there for the average preschooler to be depressed about?

Yet the preschool population is the fastest-growing market for anti-depressants.  Over a million preschoolers (at least 4%) are considered to be clinically depressed.  What the heck is going on?

By 2020, depression is expected to be the leading cause of death after heart disease, and the studies show that depression is a contributing factor of heart-related deaths.

There are many theories as to the causes of depression.  Some point to genetics, or to environment, to a history of abuse, to traumatic events in a person's life.  These are all factors that could predispose a person to depression.  But not everyone who faces these obstacles will become depressed.  So why do some of us become depressed, and not others?

Are there other causes that are yet unknown, or are not yet accepted by the profit-driven depression industry?  And make no mistake, it is an industry.  Anti-depressant sales alone garnered almost $11 billion in 2008!  That doesn't even take into consideration the profits from hospitalization, therapy, treatment programs, and other products, which have questionable rates of effectiveness.

Why am I writing a whole series of posts on this subject?  Because not only am I disturbed by the increasing effects that depression is having on our country, but I am infuriated at how women's lives are being slowly destroyed not only by this affliction, but also by the very industry that purports to be helping them.  They have become the targets of greedy corporations and so-called "professionals", and now they have their financial cross-hairs fixed on our children.

It is time we put a stop to the madness, and take control of our own lives, and find real solutions to the problem, instead of expensive treatments that only make the problem worse, and create even more health problems.

All this and more will be discussed more in the upcoming installments, along with my own story.

Update:  As of 3/21/11, I still need to continue this series of posts, but in the meantime, I've used Carlson's Vitamin D drops, they help, and getting some exercise (the rebounder is easy, just start with five minutes--or go for a walk, it's cheaper) can help a LOT.  Also St. John's Wort is supposed to be very effective, but I keep forgetting to take it. But one of the best things you can do is eat more raw organic food, especially green smoothies (the more greens, the better).  Raw food works WONDERS!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Old Post # 11: Book Review: Living on Live Food

This post is the eleventh in a series of posts taken from one of my old blogs.  It is a review of a book I still own and use to this day.

Living on Live Foods - originally posted July 22, 2007

This week I finally found Alissa Cohen's Living on Live Food book at my local raw food restaurant.

This book has it all. Most raw books I've bought or seen are little more than recipe books with a couple of chapters of very basic information about the raw food diet in the beginning. Alissa's book has very good information about the science behind the diet (but in a concise, easy-to-read format), the hows and whys, the benefits, success stories, before and after pictures, and much more. Plus all the recipes, which look really good. I'm really enjoying reading this book.

There are two negatives to the book, however. First is it's price. At first, I didn't mind the $30 price tag because it is a very large, high quality book. The pictures are great, the pages are glossy, and the layout keeps the reader's attention. But after reading the book, I realized quickly that this book didn't NEED to be so big...which brings me to negative point number two: the size.

This book is HUGE. It is very heavy. I feel like I'm carrying around a dictionary. It doesn't make for easy transporting. The easiest way to read it is to lie it flat on a table, or possibly in your lap, if you don't mind the weight. Laying on your side in bed is impossible...it is forever sliding off the bed, or slipping out of your hands. I dropped it spine-first onto the side of my foot while sitting in bed--a six inch drop--and it HURT!! Really hurt!

Also, the words on each page are in narrow columns, with one column per page. Only half of each page is used. Then, each chapter uses one whole page just to display the chapter number on it. And many of the chapters have less than one page to them...and remember, only half of each page is used! While this does make for an easy-to-read format, it goes too far. I think the book easily could have been condensed into a smaller, easier to carry book without sacrificing quality or readability.

I do like the heavy, glossy pages, as I think this will be a book I will read and use often, especially in the kitchen. But when so many people in the raw food movement are environmentally conscious, the amount of wasted space in this book seems to be a bad business decision. I think the size and weight of the book could be reduced enough to lower the price to $25 , which would make the book easier to sell to people on a limited budget.

All that being said, I'm still glad I bought it. I'm sure it will prove very useful. There is also a companion DVD available on Alissa's website. The price of that seems extremely high to me...$29.95! There is a discount if you buy the book with it, but again, people like me might not be likely to buy such an expensive DVD without reading the book first to see if they like Alissa's style. But having read half the book so far, I would like to check out the DVD someday, when I can afford it.

Alissa carries other products on her site, such as raw food items and appliances. Be sure to price shop, though. I think a lot of her prices seem to be okay, and she's running a really great special on the Vita-Mix right now. Her raw food forum is a great resource as well.

I haven't finished the book yet or tried any recipes, but based on the first half of the book, I'd give it at least four stars, maybe five. Definitely a great introductory book for those wanting to go raw.

UPDATE:  Some of her recipes I really like, and others I don't.  But the info and the before and afters you simply must read.  One great recipe is the regular salsa.  It's really good--even my husband likes it, and he hates fresh tomatoes.  The one thing is that the garlic is super strong to me.  Since the garlic is raw, you should keep that in mind when it's called for in recipes, and consider cutting it in half.  Or try elephant garlic, it's very mild.

 Note:  The first link pic is the book, the second is the DVD, and the third is another book of Alissa's.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I've Lost My Mind

Yesterday I went for my second run.  I don't know if it was my new sneakers, or the fact that I was too lazy to warm up (I know, I know, don't beat me up for it), but I was hurting as soon as I came back.  I bought Asics Kayano Gel running shoes in red.  I'm not crazy about them so far.

I know they were hurting my feet when I was standing around in them.  I don't know why, they just were.  Walking in them was fine, and running felt okay, except that I was noticing some pain in my shins.  Again, it could be the lack of a warm up.  I'm going to give them one more chance.  I hope they're okay.  They were expensive, to me, even at 50% off.

On the bright side, I actually went out walking even though I was tired, sore and REALLY didn't want to.  I had already decided not to go.  Instead, I put on those military cadence songs to motivate me, and managed to scrape up enough motivation to get out there and do 2 miles (which is all I should be doing at this point).  I was shocked to find out yesterday that a 5k race is 3.1 miles...exactly what I did my first time out the other day.   Wow!

I figure if I can do a 5k here on the mountain, I can easily do a 5k race in town on a flat surface.  There are a couple of 5k races in a month or two, and I think I will be in good enough shape to run them, or at least do half walking, half running. 

For those of you out there who haven't exercised in years (or ever), I would really encourage you to think about doing it.  I know when you're morbidly obese, just the idea of doing your daily duties can be overwhelming.  I never wanted to exercise before.  Even now, it does take effort...but not nearly as much effort as it used to.  Once I started drinking green smoothies once or twice a day, that started to change.  My energy and motivation went way up.

So just give green smoothies a try, and contemplate the possibility of starting some kind of physical activity.  I think you'll be surprised at what happens.  One reader commented that it sounded like I was losing my mind (but in a good way).  LOL.  I suppose it might sound that way.  At least, I've lost my old mind...the one that said "I can't, it's too hard, I'm too fat, nothing will ever change."  That mind is rapidly fading into the distance.  My new mind is the one that says "I can, I will, I am the master of my own destiny, everything WILL change because I deserve better, and I can do it!"

Losing your mind doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

 Update:  The Asics were awful.  I hurt myself running in them.  (Partially my fault...I should have eased myself into running, especially at my weight.)  They felt awful even just standing in them, after a while, before I tried running.  Now I know why...feet aren't meant to be cushioned and coddled.  God designed our feet well!  Now I wear Vibram Five Finger shoes, and I love them. I read about a lot of people who had problems caused by shoes, no matter what they tried, which eventually was rectified by wearing Vibram Five Fingers. Haven't run in them yet, but tons of people do, including marathoners!  They look a little weird, but are so comfortable once you get used to them, because they mimic the feeling of bare feet...except you're protected from glass and dog poop, LOL.

A lot of people use them barefoot, but I prefer to wear the Injinji toe socks with them.

Consider getting the FLOW for colder weather,

or the KSO to "Keep Stuff Out", like sand.

I have the Women's sprint:  (in black)

I Hate Running...I Think

Recently I've heard some interviews with Tim Van Orden, a raw runner.  He started running in his late thirties, as an experiment to see how well someone could perform on raw food. He does mountain running and tower runs (running up the stairs at places like the Sears Tower).  Now in his forties, he is winning races and beating guys half his age.  At forty, athletes are considered "washed up".  But raw athletes are showing tremendous success at "advanced" ages.

I found this really inspiring.  I thought about how fit I was back in basic training, and about what it was like to feel fit.  I remember the day I looked over my shoulder, and couldn't see my behind.  Cool!

Before I went in basic training, at 145 pounds, I couldn't run far without gasping for breath.  In fact, I'd never run for anything except to catch a bus! 

I hated running.

But this past Saturday night, remembering how it felt to get up in the dark and cold and go running at 5:30 am, singing cadence (it stunk, and I hated it, but I felt good about myself afterwards), it made me think I really should start walking.  "Just walking," I thought. "Maybe a little running once I'm skinny...but I really hate running, so I'll never want to run up a mountain or a tower like Tim.  Forget that!  But a walk sounds good."  So that night I started looking up cadences on iTunes, and listened to some.  Eventually I found a few sites that offered free cadence downloads (legally).  I was so motivated by them that if I'd had a reflective vest and a big flashlight, I would have gone walking right then, at midnight.  I started thinking maybe I should do some running, when I can.

The next day, I did some stretches, took my iPod (and a cell phone just in case I collapsed!) and went for a run.  Up a mountain road.  3.1 MILES round trip!! Wow!

I suppose it wasn't technically a run, because after less than a block, I realized I was going to kill myself if I started running UP a MOUNTAIN at my weight, without at least easing into it.  But I did run about 1/3 of the way down the hill, taking some walking breaks a few times.  I stopped when I felt I'd hit my limit.  You'd be surprised how hard even running downhill is at my weight.  I think I really overdid it, but I was so proud of myself!  I haven't been able to even walk more than two miles, even if I'm not tired, because my right foot always starts to hurt really bad.  I've had that problem for years, even before I got very heavy, and it's made trying to exercise extremely difficult.

But when I did my run/walk on Sunday, I didn't have any trouble with my feet at all!  Which was incredible, because the edge of the asphalt in many places was rounded down a bit towards the dirt runoff along the side of the road.  So my feet were sometimes at bad angles as I walked.  I was definitely sore the next day, but not even close to as sore as they should have been...would have been, if I wasn't eating green smoothies.  And I was still eating cooked food at that point.  I get stiff when I sit or lay down for too long, and my heels get really sore (they feel bruised...poor babies weren't meant to take a 246 lb. pounding), but after I walk around a bit, I'm fine.

I should mention I did this in 5 year old cheap Reeboks with the sole peeling away in places.  ;-)  It's all I had.  I'm buying new walking shoes today. I'm also buying a full album of U.S. Army cadences, because it was extremely motivating.  It made me really want to do better, and be able to really run.  Maybe even in a race.

Even though I hate running.

I think.

I'm confused.


Old Post # 10: Coconut Butter - An All Natural Moisturizer

This is number 10 in a series of posts taken from an old blog of mine.

Coconut Butter - An All Natural Moisturizer- Originally posted July 22, 2007

Not long ago I purchased some Raw Organic Coconut Butter by Artisana. I had wanted Raw Organic Coconut Oil, but they didn't have it raw. I wasn't sure if Coconut Butter is the same thing or not, but decided to try it. It is made from the whole flesh of the coconut, instead of just the oil.

I know I've heard of the many health and beauty benefits of coconut oil. Since Coconut Butter is made of the whole coconut flesh, rather than just the oil, I figured it would be just as good if not better.

So last last night I tried using it on my feet, which lately have been very dry, especially on the heels. My left heel especially has had stubborn dead, dry skin on it, and nothing seems to work. I worked in some of the Coconut Butter on my feet and ankles, and also my elbows, where I have some dry patches of skin that I think are psoriasis.

It is amazing! Today, I would have to say there is at LEAST a 50% improvement both on my heels and my elbows. NOTHING else has worked, but this is working overnight! I tried it today on a few more places, including some little spots that tend to appear on my sides...not sure what it is, possibly smaller breakouts of psoriasis? Those tend to heal up after a while, but the spots on my elbows are always there, to a lesser or greater degree. They seemed to clear up a bit when I first went on raw, but maybe the coconut butter will speed up the healing process.

I'm sure coconut oil would probably work good too. But whichever you choose, I would recommend you buy RAW organic. Conventional or plain organic may work fine, but I would be willing to bet that the raw organic works a lot better, because it still has living enzymes and extra nutrients in it.

I don't know if Artisana is the best brand or not. I know Alissa Cohen says on her website that she tested many coconut oils before choosing the Coco-de Creme brand that she carries. I bought my Coconut Butter in my local health food store. I don't remember the price, but I'm thinking it was ten dollars or so for 16 ounces. Compare that to the chemical-laden synthetic moisturizers out there, that can go for a hundred dollars for only an ounce or two, and don't even work nearly as well!

Another thing to think about, for those of us who are pro-life: did you know that there are many beauty products out there, moisturizers in particular, that contain collagen from aborted fetuses? I was shocked to learn this. Just one more reason to stick with something all natural, so you KNOW where it comes from!

I'm also trying this on my face, to see how it helps. Being overweight, I've neglected to moisturize my face, because I don't have many lines yet (they're all filled out with fat). Now that I'll be losing weight, I need to think about taking care of my skin. Although going raw is well known as a remedy for aging skin, I think using a natural moisturizer is still a great idea.

[Edit:  While coconut butter may have even more "good stuff" in it than coconut oil, the coconut butter can sometimes be a little bit gritty from unblended coconut bits as you get deeper into the jar.  This isn't a big deal, but if you want to avoid this, use raw organic centrifuged extra virgin coconut oil.  I also use the coconut butter in my smoothies (about 1 T for a 1/2 to a full pitcher), which is yummy!  Coconut oil is also good in smoothies.]

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Old Post # 9: Sugar is From the Devil!

This is the ninth post in a series of posts taken from a blog of mine, written in 2007, two weeks before the birth of my fifth child.
Sugar is From the Devil!- originally posted July 22, 2007

As you may have guessed from my lack of posting, I fell off the raw wagon for a few weeks. Boy, am I sorry, too! Not only did I rapidly gain back almost all the weight I lost, but I started having back pain, fatigue, pubic bone pain, lethargy, and a general bloated feeling. My rings started getting really tight again, and I was not a happy camper.

There are two main reasons I went off the diet. One is, I was getting tired of all the chopping and peeling, and really wanted to do some different type of recipes, which I don't yet have the equipment for (saladacco, Vita Mix). Then, I started having some weird nausea and abdominal pain. I wasn't sure if it could be from the diet, though I didn't think it was. I just started eating anything convenient. The pain didn't go away, though. It progressively got worse, til I ended up in the hospital for a few days for some tests and observations. The tests were all negative--no gallstones, liver problems, ulcers, etc. It wasn't acid reflux, round ligament pain (obstetricians think EVERYTHING is round ligament pain) or morning sickness.  [Edit:  It was during this hospital visit, a CT scan showed I had a huge aneurysm above my aortic heart valve.  However, for some reason no one thought this was important to mention to me.  I didn't find this out until a year later.  I could have died.  Get a copy of and review EVERY test you get done.  The actual report in your medical file.  If I had, I would have seen what they wrote about the aneurysm.]

The only thing they can figure out is that it's probably adhesions from a previous surgery. It's the only thing that makes sense. They say since I didn't have a problem with adhesion pain before, I should be better after delivering, when I'm no longer all stretched out (I sure hope so). Until then I'm on Percocet, but I'm trying not to take much. I hate taking any kind of drugs, but in this case, it's necessary. After two weeks of this nauseating pain, I can't function without some kind of relief.  [Edit:  They may have been right, it eventually went away before delivery.  I don't think it was a symptom of the aneurysm, since it wasn't an abdominal aneurysm, but who knows.]

Meanwhile, it took me over a week of false starts to get back on the wagon, after two weeks of eating processed cooked junk. The last straw was after three days of eating sugary stuff (mostly ice cream). All of a sudden, my sugar and chocolate cravings came back with a vengeance (they were controllable before that) and my back pain and pubic bone pain were awful...even while on Percocet!! I have no doubt it was the sugar. That just goes to show you how much of a poison refined white sugar is.

Sugar is evil, people! It is an unnatural poison that pollutes our bodies and ruins our emotional and spiritual well-being. Sugar turns you into an addicted, fat glutton. Sugar makes you depressed. God did not make sugar. God made honey and sugar cane, but not refined table sugar. I kid you not, sugar is straight from the Devil!  [Edit: I have realized since writing this 3 years ago that many products I assumed were sugar-filled were actually High Fructose Corn Syrup filled.  HFCS is worse than sugar!  Read your labels.  I found HFCS in PICKLES!  Sheesh.]  (Okay, Evil Sugar rant is over.)

When I finally had enough of the pain, I went back on raw food, last Wednesday. I started by making it easier on myself, and buying pre-cut fruit trays and pre-made salads at the grocery store. They weren't organic, but it would be an easy start. Thursday I went to the raw food restaurant to bring home a couple of meals and goodies. I also stopped at the health food store for some raw trail mix, Larabars, [Edit:  Larabar ingredients aren't always raw, and they're not organic, just so you know] and various fruit.

My husband wasn't too thrilled at having to throw out all the organic produce that went bad during my three week "slip". Neither was I--all that money, and good food! But I'm back in the game now, and so excited.

My body is taking a bit longer this time to shake the symptoms...possibly because the toxins I ate were more of a shock to my system this time, after being raw a while. Or because I'm on the pain medicine. The good news is, I started losing weight right away, over a pound a day. I had been back up to 287, but now I am 283.6. My rings are looser already. I'd love to be no more than 280 when I have my c-section, which is in 2 1/2 weeks.

Today the back pain is mostly gone, the pubic pain is almost gone, I think, and I'm a lot less sleepy today...which is big, because this medication makes you sleepy. I'm actually feeling pretty jazzed up right now.

One of the best things about going back on this diet is that I can stuff myself on raw to overcome any temptations, which makes going back on the wagon much easier. Really, the first day was the toughest. Today I've just been eating like crazy. But I don't have to worry about it, or even feel guilty, and that is awesome! I made up a dessert, with cashew butter, crushed macadamia nuts, a mashed banana, some raw agave nectar, and some ground raw cacao nibs. It was pretty good. And I felt great about eating it, because it is GOOD for me!!

I know once I have the baby and shift into weight-loss mode, I may have to watch my intake of nuts, avocados, bananas, etc. But since I'll be nursing I don't think it will be a real issue, unless I go totally crazy.

I am so committed to this way of eating. I really do enjoy it. I can't wait for my taste buds to continue to change, so I can enjoy even more different kinds of healthier foods. When I eat raw, I feel like I am eating the way God designed me to eat, and that my body is functioning the way it was created to. Finally!

Old Post # 8: How Do I Get Started?

This post is the eighth in a series of old posts taken from an old blog of mine, from three years ago.

How Do I Get Started?

Everyone is different. For some people, they need to quit cooked food cold turkey, otherwise they'll never do it. If you can do it this way, that's what I recommend. Less temptation. We are truly addicted to cooked foods.

I've noticed even when I'm not that hungry, if I give in and have a bite of cooked food (say, when I make my kids lunch), I have a sudden and uncontrollable urge to shove it all in my mouth, like an addict in withdrawal! I never feel that way when I eat raw, even if I am starving. I rarely stuff myself with raw food, whereas I will now fill myself to discomfort when I eat cooked...and I was never prone to binging before. Overeating, yes, but not binging. So cold turkey is best.

If you can't do it all at once, then start by eating raw fruit in the morning, a salad and sandwich for lunch (using only organic, whole foods when eating cooked food), and a big salad with raw veggies for dinner, with a very small amount of brown rice and organic chicken breast. That's how I did it the first few days. You'll still feel a difference right away.  [Edit:  I would now recommend starting with smoothies, working up to as many greens as you can tolerate, taste-wise, as quickly as you can.  That will get you craving other raw foods.]

If you are going to eat things like whole grain breads and rices, look into the Nourishing Traditions book, and websites online about this way of eating. They recommend you soak or sprout all grains, nuts and seeds before eating. This is because grains, nuts and seeds are protected by phytic acid, which keeps the grain or seed from breaking down until it is planted. By soaking or sprouting it, you have broken down the phytic acid and made it more digestible and safer to eat. Many people who can't eat wheat can eat it if it is sprouted or soaked first. It is the phytic acid that they are reacting to.  [Edit: This is one reason why there are so many people nowadays with irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, etc.  Eating grains, nuts and seeds with the phytic acid still intact isn't good for you.]

Try to minimize the meat and dairy you eat. When you do eat dairy, eat raw dairy. It can be hard to find. Try realmilk.org or ask around at health food stores, or advertise that you are looking for sources of raw milk. Be sure that it is both unpateurized and unhomogenized. Laws vary from state to state. Find out what your state laws are. Don't just listen to what someone says. I had someone insist raw milk is illegal in my state. That person is ignorant. Our laws clearly state that raw milk can be sold, but only from the farm it is produced from, the farmer cannot advertise it publicly (which is ridiculous), and the buyer must bring his own sterilized container (also silly--if the farmer's container isn't already sterile, it doesn't matter if the customer brings her own sterilized container).

Check out the place you buy your milk from to make sure you are comfortable with the farmer's operation, especially that it seems sanitary. I can almost guarantee that commercial dairies are probably worse. Also ask what the cows are fed, if they are fed grain, if the grain is organic, and if the fields they eat on are treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides. If they eat supplemental hay, ask where that hay comes from, and if it is treated in any way ("certified weed free" = sprayed with poisons).  Also, is the field located next to or downhill from a conventional farm? If so, the grass may be soaking up pesticides and fake fertilizer.  The field may also be watered from a well that shares the same water table/aquifer as the conventional farm.

As I said, though, cold turkey is better. The first day I felt a bit of hunger throughout the day. Not an "I'm starving" feeling, but more like "I could really go for ___". After the first day or so, it went away. I made sure that I stuffed myself with as much raw food as possible, to avoid temptation. At the slightest sign of hunger, I ate. The second day I already felt so much better, physically.

The first two weeks I kept it simple, eating plain fruit, or cut-up fruit salad, or green salads. When I ate a sandwich, it was usually a whole grain pita, some egg salad, and as many veggies as I could stuff into it--baby spinach, red onion, cucumbers, red peppers. I burst the "seams" of the pita a few times, lol. I really looked forward to adding those veggies in. It made for great flavors. My tastes started to change, too. I started getting braver, and adding fresh tomatoes. I don't usually care for fresh tomatoes, but I tried it. I'm starting to kind of like them.

After two weeks, I knew I had to mix it up or get bored. I wanted a Vita Mix badly, but they go for around $400. Don't buy expensive stuff til you've been on it at least two weeks, and know you will continue. The Vita Mix is great, and you'll probably always find it useful, but it isn't necessary right away. The biggest tip I can give is to sit down one evening while you have someone to talk to, or a tv or radio program on, and spend an hour or two leisurely cutting up fruits and veggies and putting them into baggies or containers. This was a tremendous help to me. One night of chopping, and I had about four days of veggies ready to go. I put the chopped veggies into mini Glad containers, and stacked the containers in larger plastic baskets--one basket for salad veggies, one for cut fruits, another for uncut fruits that were washed and ready to eat. It keeps your fridge much neater and helps prevent "losing" stuff in the fridge and having it go bad. Want to make a salad? Pull out the salad veggie basket, and you're ready to make it! Perfect for the lazy person (like me).

After a week or two, be sure to start experimenting. At first all you need is a sharp paring knife, a vegetable peeler, and a large kitchen knife. A blender is helpful if you want to make smoothies. I bought a good quality smoothie maker with ice-chopping blades on sale for $30 at Target. [Edit:  I ruined those blades after just a few smoothies.  They won't hold up.  Get a BlendTec.  If you absolutely can't afford one, then remove the tough stems of kale, etc. before blending, and just add more water and blend in smaller batches while you're saving for a real blender.] Long-term you'll want a Vita Mix, it makes much smoother smoothies, and is pretty necessary for green smoothies (you really need to make sure greens are well blended), but you can wait a little while for that. Try ebay, craigslist.org, or your local classifieds to find a used Vita Mix. I wouldn't get one more than a few years old.  [Edit:  I HIGHLY recommend getting a Vita Mix model with the dial in the middle, which allows you to control the lower speed of the blender--or other high speed blender with an equivalent feature.  Otherwise when you add powders like cacao, they will puff up when you turn it on, and it ends up all over the lid, wasted.  You can try to put the cacao in first, but trust me, you'll forget sometimes. Then, poof.]

The first gadget I want is a Spiral Slicer, formerly known as a Saladacco. It is inexpensive, and seems to be a favorite amond raw foodists. You can use it to turn zucchini, carrots, and other veggies into "pasta". I had a dish like this at our local raw food restaurant (I'm SO happy we have one of these). It was a bed of spinach, with cut strawberries, walnuts, and balsamic vinegar, with zucchini angel hair "pasta" and a spicy sun-dried tomato marinara. The first bite I wasn't too crazy about it, but by the third I LOVED it! So I want the spiral slicer so I can create a similar dish.  [Edit:  Got one.  It only does angel hair and spiral slices.  Spend a little more and get one that does other sizes, like linguini noodles.  I'm sorry I didn't spend the extra dough.]

I also want an Omega Juicer. I have a cheap one, but the Omega can do wheatgrass also. Wheatgrass Juice is an amazing thing, SO healthy for you. Though I warn you, it is disgusting. I usually chug a shot of it and chase it with a whole smoothie. But I've heard after you start having green smoothies, the wheatgrass juice isn't too bad. The green smoothies are supposed to make you crave raw foods, and I had my first one the other day. It wasn't too bad!

I'm also hoping to get an Excalibur Dehydrator. [Edit:  Had one, loved it, highly recommend it.  Had to sell it for the money.  I could cry.] It comes highly recommended, as it has a controllable thermostat. You can use this to make "breads" and "crackers" from things like nuts and seeds. I had some spicy crackers from that restaurant. They're actually pretty good...and REALLY spicy! Another item I'm wanting is a separate fridge. My husband and I have talked about this before, since we have a big family anyway. We want to get an all-fridge refrigerator...no freezer. I plan to use that for my raw foods, and maybe overflow from the main fridge. That way, no hunting for hidden produce that has rotted in the back! I'd like to keep most of the produce in the fridge to keep it longer, but right now ours is too small.

It may sound like this is an expensive proposition, but you don't have to have all this stuff. I'd say just the spiral slicer and the Vita Mix would make your life a lot easier. As for organic food, it is becoming easier to find...shop around. There is a lot of advice to be found on the raw food boards as to how to find produce cheaper. Even eating conventional raw food is better than eating a SAD diet. Though there are TONS more nutrients and less toxins in organic produce.

My husband, I'm sure, was worried at first that this diet would be like the others, and anything I bought would go unused. But after two weeks of seeing me happier and healthier, and controlling my weight, he is now all for spending whatever it takes to keep me on the diet. We plan on using tax return money for the stuff we need to buy. At some point soon we hope to be able to put the whole family on raw food. He's not sure about giving up meat and dairy (he's a big meat-and-potatoes kind of guy), but neither was I at first. He's open to it, though. I told him it's his decision. If he wants to go only 80% raw and still eat a little meat and dairy, that's his choice. But I know he'll feel so much better on even just 80% raw.

Just remember to keep it simple the first couple of weeks, eat cut fruits and salads, maybe some fruit smoothies (good for on the go). After that, start experimenting, and find ways to make it more convenient. Get rid of your old food, or if you can't, such as if you're a wife or mother, be sure to eat BEFORE you prepare food for others. Keep raw snack food on hand, and DO NOT let yourself get hungry. Hungry brains don't think straight! I think after a few days on raw, you won't want to go back to your old life. It's just not worth it!

Comfrey: The Great Healer

Comfrey, known also as Knitbone, Knitback, Bruisewort, Boneset, as well as other names, clearly has been historically considered a valuable herb in healing.   The roots and leaves contain allantoin, a protein that stimulate cell proliferation.  It has been used for speeding the healing in broken bones, sprains, burns, sore joints, wounds, helping with dry skin, and reducing swelling in fractures.  

Use fresh, clean Comfrey leaves in a poultice for external application, if you have access to it. You can also find Comfrey salves at health food stores or online.  You may find Comfrey in large, tea-bag-like poultices, or in the dried bulk section, but you will not find any Comfrey tea bags, as it has been banned for internal use in the U.S.  (But the SSRI drugs that induce people to shoot up schools and kill their whole family...those are still fine.  Yeah.)

This Comfrey-phobia comes from studies done in the 1970's and 1980's done on rats, that indicated that Comfrey use can cause liver cancer and disease.  The problem with these studies is that they were done on rats, which process poisons different than humans, they were done with high dosages, and in some cases, Comfrey itself was not used, but instead just the active compounds in Comfrey.  Personally, I find these studies highly questionable, and I would not be the least bit surprised if I found out the studies were paid for by the drug companies.  (You know, the people who say herbs are dangerous, but aspirin, which kills 5000 people a year, and causes internal bleeding and sub-arachnoid hemorrhaging, is perfectly safe.  Yeah, you can trust those guys.)

So, while I would use caution in taking Comfrey internally, I personally don't think a little Comfrey tea once in a while is going to hurt me.  But I am not a doctor, nor a scientist, so any use of Comfrey should be done with the advice of your licensed health care practitioner, and at your own risk.

It is generally considered to be safe to use topically, as it is said the alkaloids will not penetrate the skin.  However, I would use caution in this as well, as the skin is the largest organ in your body...anything you put on your skin gets into your system.  Never put anything on your skin whose bottle is labeled "not for internal use".  Just my opinion.  So my personal choice would be to use Comfrey topically when needed, on occasion.

I have used Comfrey in a poultice to treat what I believe was pink eye.  My eye was starting to look inflamed and infected, overnight.  I made a Comfrey tea bag, soaked it in just enough boiling water to soak the bag, but not float it, then squeezed out the excess liquid just until it wasn't dripping.  I applied it close to my eye, but not close enough to get liquid in it (wasn't sure if that would be bad or not...you don't want to mess up your eyes).  I don't know how long I kept it there, but at least ten minutes.  My symptoms were gone the next day.  

Comfrey has also been used as fertilizer.  Since it has high levels of potash, it is perfect for tomato, cucumber, pepper, and potato plants.  One of the links below can give you instructions on how to do that.   

I hope this inspires you to consider planting Comfrey in your garden, or at least keeping a stock of dried Comfrey on hand.  It is also a plant that grows in the wild, so if you learn to properly identify it, you can harvest wild Comfrey.  For those into preparedness or self-sufficiency, Comfrey is a must.


Turning Comfrey into a natural fertilizer
Botanical info on Comfrey.
Safety of using Comfrey topically.
Information questioning the testing done on rats that led to the banning of internal use of Comfrey.
How to grow and preserve Comfrey.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jumping in With Both Feet

I'm almost afraid to say this...worried I might jinx myself!  But here it is...

I'm going 100% raw.  As of today.  After a couple of days eating more cooked food and less smoothies, and feeling some pain coming back, I decided that's it, I'm done!  I ate all raw today, making myself some great smoothies all day.  I even withstood the tempting smell of my husband's homemade pizza that he made for the kids.  (It smelled reeeeeeally good, and I'm proud of myself for grabbing my jar of pre-made smoothie instead--one big reason for always keeping pre-made treats and meals or prepared meal components on hand!)

I also got on the rebounder for 25 minutes today, then did another 5 minutes of sit-ups, push-ups, crunches, and leg-lifts.  I can't believe I did all that!  Okay, they were "girl" push-ups (knees resting on the ground with the ankles crossed in the air behind you) and I only lowered myself half-way (what can I say, my stomach gets there before the rest of me does!), but who cares!  Really, I did almost as well today as I did the first time I tried doing push-ups two weeks before I went into basic training...15 years ago...and I was thin back then!

Another reason this is so exciting is that, as I've mentioned before, because of the aneurysm and then the surgery, I did virtually no physical activity for most of the last two years.  I rarely lifted anything at all.  So my arms have somewhat atrophied in all that time.  And yet today I did 10 push-ups in a row...TWICE...and I weigh 244 pounds!! How many of you could do any push-ups at all with an extra person sitting on your back?  Not too many, I bet.  Yes, I have a right to be proud!  I just know it's the green smoothies.  I wish I'd tried this two weeks ago, before the smoothies, so I could compare.  But then again...before the smoothies, I would never have had the energy or the motivation to try.  I love greens!

You know, I might just get brave and do a YouTube video of part of my workout, to help motivate others who are in similar physical condition to me.  Leave a comment if you would be interesting in a video like that! 

The "What" and "Why" of Eating Raw

 This is the eighth in a series of posts taken from an old blog of mine, documenting my first experiences with raw foods.

 The "What" and "Why" of Eating Raw - Originally posted June 21, 2007

Raw food, also known as live or living food, is any food in its natural state that is not heated to over approximately 115 degrees (sources vary, some say 108, some 118, depends on who you ask). Any food that is cooked, steamed, boiled, roasted, microwaved, pasteurized, or canned (such as any produce in a can or jar on the store shelf) is not raw. It is dead food. Dehydrated food is considered raw ONLY if it hasn't been heated too high (over about 110 degrees). Many commercially dehydrated foods have been dehydrated at too high a temperature.

Why not cook food? Cooking destroys the living enzymes in food that our bodies need to digest that food. If the food has no enzymes, our own enzymes must be "called away" from their job of eliminating toxins and healing our bodies to do the digesting, then those enzymes are lost as they stay with the digested food and are eliminated with our bowel movements. It is estimated that by age 40, most people have only 30% of our natural enzymes left, and those enzymes do not replenish themselves.

Many nutrients and vitamins are also lost in cooking. And if you compare people to chimpanzees, the animals that are closest in physical design to humans, you'll see that their natural diet consists mostly of fruits and greens, some pith and bark, and some vegetables and seeds. Insects and the meat of other animals are a rarity, and those chimp troops who eat more meat don't live as long. Now, I do NOT believe in evolution, and chimpanzees are NOT the same as people, but looking at it from a physical perspective only, they have similar bones, teeth, etc. Our diets shouldn't be all that different from theirs. If you read Genesis in the Bible, it talks only of food naturally growing in the garden, particularly tree fruit. That is what God designed us for...produce. In fact, man's punishment for his disobedience was to toil for his food...to grow it. Produce. Nuts, seeds, plants.

I'm not saying eating meat is wrong. I have nothing morally against it. I love it! Chicken is my favorite. However, I must reluctantly report that I feel better without it...and more so without dairy. I haven't gone completely without dairy (I can't seem to kick the habit of adding shredded cheddar to my salads) but the less I eat, the better I feel. It is true what I've heard...dairy does produce excess mucus. When I eat less, I have less mucus. A few days on pizza, and my nasal mucus tripled!  [Edit:  Please note that I was talking about commercial dairy, not raw organic dairy.  I have not yet experimented with how I feel eating raw vegan vs. high raw with some raw, organic dairy.]

Does one have to eat 100% raw? I believe for true health and weight loss, yes, you do. But eating even 50% raw will help you, and improve your health noticeably. If you ate fruit for breakfast, a big salad with a small sandwich of organic deli meat [edit: I would avoid even organic deli meat--too processed--try homemade organic chicken salad] and cheese on whole wheat bread for lunch, and a big salad with fresh salad vegetables with a very small amount of organic chicken breast and brown rice for dinner, I think that would be a very big step in the right direction. If you just couldn't part with meat and dairy, try to minimize it, and only eat meat from organic, grass fed animals, and dairy from the same animals, but raw (unpasteurized and unhomogenized). I have read a lot about the harm pasteurization and homogenization has done to our health. Raw milk products have natural bacteria that help our bodies fight off disease, plus many other benefits.

There are so many reports from people who have cured "incurable" diseases by going 100% raw. There are retreat centers around the country for those who want to break their bad habits and go on a raw retreat to heal themselves. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, food allergies, heart arrhythmia, arthritis, gout, IBS, celiac disease, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer...these are all diseases that people have freed themselves from by simply eating living foods as God designed us to eat. These are all amazing stories, but the cancer is the most convincing to me.

Did you know the cause of cancer was discovered back in the thirties? There was a doctor [edit: Otto Warburg] who received a Nobel prize for discovering that cancer is caused by an anaerobic environment in the body.  From what I remember, it starts with abnormal cells in your body, that do not get enough oxygen. Then those cells multiply, and the cancer spreads. This is a poor explanation, but the important part to remember is that your body needs to be in an alkaline state for your cells to be getting the oxygen they need. Most foods in the SAD (Standard American Diet) today are acid-forming. It is no wonder we are so sick! One hundred years ago, cancer was as rare as obesity. Sure there were fat people around...but not anywhere NEAR as many, or as heavy as today. Today with all our nutritionists and cancer research, we are fatter and sicker than ever.

Why? We eat unnatural, cooked, processed foods and sit on our lazy butts all day in cars or at desks or in easy chairs. If we all ate completely natural, unprocessed foods that are at least mostly raw, and worked in our gardens, went for walks, and kept busy all day, the oncologists and bariatric surgeons would almost all be out of a job!

I won't try to bombard you with facts and figures. Either you're intrigued at this point, or you're not. I would recommend you do some research on raw and living foods, and reach your own decision. Just try it for two weeks. Heck, even one week! If you stick to it for that long, you won't need any evidence...your body will be all the evidence you need!

Some sources I can recommend are: Raw Food Talk, Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko (an excellent read, taught me the importance of getting greens in my diet), the book Raw Foods for Busy People (ideas and recipes for quick raw meals) and any raw websites you can find. There are different mindsets out there about what raw is. Some people believe in eating raw meat and dairy as part of their diet. Some are partly raw. Some are "high raw", around 70-80% raw. Most hard-core raw foodists are 100% raw and vegan (no meat, fish, or dairy products at all).

I am shooting for the latter. I plan to aim for about 90% raw right now, because I was told not to go 100% while pregnant. Going 100% will eventually result in a "detox" period, where your body eliminates the toxins from itself all at once. It can be unpleasant for a while. You can feel like you have the flu, or re-experience some symptoms of illnesses you had in the past as your body releases the stored toxins. It is temporary, and for some people it can re-occur in short bursts after a year or two on raw. But they say afterward you feel better than ever. Unfortunately, pregnancy is not the time to be going into detox, and really you should avoid it when nursing, as the toxins could come out in the milk. Since I'm always nursing or pregnant, it seems, I may never get to 100% raw. But I hope to one day, and for now I want to go 90%.