Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What's Hidden in the Valley?

I'm sorry if anyone works for Hidden Valley and takes offense. Sadly, Hidden Valley isn't the only salad dressing that has unhealthy ingredients. Most salad dressings do. So here is a list of ingredients in a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, and below are ingredients for you to make your own ranch.

Hidden Valley Ranch Ingredients:

Soybean Oil, Water, Egg Yolk, Sugar, Salt, Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk, Natural Flavors (Soy), Spices. Less than 1% of Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Vinegar, Phosphoric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Modified Food Starch, Monosodium Glutamate, Artificial Flavors, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium EDTA as Preservatives, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate.

Homemade Vegan Ranch:

Soaked Sunflower Seeds, Soaked Hemp Seeds, Lemon Juice, Nutritional Yeast, Fresh Herbs (Any Combination of Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, Basil), Apple Cider Vinegar, Sea Salt.

Goodbye to all those chemicals in 5 minutes of throwing things in a food processor or blender! Maybe even 3 minutes! Small changes, big difference.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Don't Eat That, Eat This!

My father loves a book series that takes fast food restaurants and tells you what the worst things on the menu are versus the best. Truth be told, it is all pretty horrific. But using that concept I thought I would let people know some of the improvements I have made... small changes which have been benefiting my health. Improving yourself involves looking at what you already do and seeing what changes you could be making for the better. This is exactly how it works with diet. For example, when I gave up drinking soda I lost 10 pounds immediately. Anyone who is drinking soda I highly recommend this as a starting point to better health. Otherwise prepare yourself for severe bone damage and high dental bills in later life. Now, on to my list...

Instead of Soda, try Kombucha.

As I stated above, soda is poison. All you have to do to prove that is take a corroded penny and drop it in a glass of Coca-cola. And if it does that to the penny, just imagine your poor insides. Kombucha gives you the bubbles, but actually helps your digestion. 

Instead of Regular Pasta, try Quinoa Pasta, Carrot Ribbons or Zucchini Ribbons.

The reason so many people have become gluten-free is because it is very difficult for most people's bodies to process gluten, which literally  acts like glue inside the body. Quinoa pasta is a great alternative and high in protein. There are some ethical concerns lately about fair compensation of farmers in countries that produce quinoa. With its rising popularity many people in countries that have historically survived on the crop can now no longer afford it. But don't fret, with a spiralizer you can use carrots and zucchinis and like magic have noodles!

Instead of Milk or Soy Milk, try Hemp Milk, Almond Milk or Coconut Milk.

Soy and dairy were two things which were very hard for me to part with. Since I had been vegetarian since the age of seven, I fell back on these as my staples. I panicked at what I would do without them, but hemp, almond, and coconut milks have all come to my rescue. I even have my 8 year-old son enjoying hemp milk on his cereal every morning, getting him the extra protein he needs!

Instead of Cheese, try Sunflower Seed “Cheese” or Almond “Cheese”.

Again, cheese is a hard thing to part with, but if you make your own, you can get the flavors you want! Spike with truffles or cracked pepper! I have been staying away from cashews lately, since most are processed and not raw, but they are also an improvement on the real thing. 

Instead of Ice Cream, try Frozen Banana Whip.

If you haven't discovered that by some miracle of science putting a frozen banana in a food processor turns it into ice cream, GO TRY IT NOW. Run, don't walk. Throw in frozen berries, cacao powder, whatever you want! Thank me later!

Instead of Chocolate Pudding, try Avocado Cacao Pudding.

Another dessert miracle. Avocado plus cacao plus sweetener of choice = perfection. Goodbye gross chemicals, dairy, gelatinous whatever-you-are. Hello nature.

Instead of Soybean Oil or Canola Oil, try Hemp Oil or Olive Oil.

Most of these changes are not even hard! Just restock your pantry! Hemp oil has some especially great health benefits!

Instead of Processed Sugar, try Honey or Maple Syrup.

Some vegans are opposed to honey, I know. Everyone needs to follow their own dietary and ethical paths. But the health benefits of local raw honey for people with allergies (ie: ME) is a big one. Otherwise, take your sweetness straight from the tree!

Instead of Coffee, try Dandy Blend.

So many Americans are addicted to coffee, but I have found Dandy Blend just as satisfying. It is caffeine free, not acidic, and contains trace minerals. 

Instead of Store Bought Salad Dressing, try Homemade Salad Dressing.

This is a big one. You are trying to be healthy, so you make yourself a salad. And then you take a bottle of store bought dressing and slather your poor vegetables in that garbage. And you wonder why you still feel like crap? Read your label! This is such a big one, I might have to do a whole post just on salad dressings!

Instead of Canned Tomatoes, try Fresh Tomatoes or Sun Dried Tomatoes.

Something terrible happens with the combination of acidic tomatoes and aluminum cans. Whatever is scientifically happening, it causes BPAs to leak into your food which leads to serious health problems. Easy fix! Use fresh tomatoes or sun dried tomatoes! I have even managed to find sun dried tomatoes which are sulfite free!

Instead of Butter, try Coconut Oil.

Coconut oil is truly magical. Fatty acids with medicinal properties. And its consistency is naturally similar to butter. Don't be scared to use it with savory foods either!

Instead of Tofu, try Tempeh.

Soy isn't the best. I am sorry vegans, I know your pain. The reason 90% of soy crops are GMO is because 90% are sprayed with the herbicide Glyphosate. Soybean oil is also bad because of the Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which lead to inflammation. There is also evidence that soy causes thyroid problems. Tempeh is a much better option, because a lot of these issues are eliminated due to the fermentation process.

Instead of Meat Burgers or Soy Burgers, try Artichoke or Millet Burgers.

Millet is a great grain in general. Easily digested. It is just as easy to get frozen millet or vegetable burgers (artichoke are my favorite) as it is to get those that are soy or wheat gluten. I know people love their soy, but from my experience soy does NOT love me back.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Portrait of a Detox

The first time I heard of people detoxing, and it wasn't from quitting heroin (I did live in Baltimore a very long time), I didn't get it. Detoxing from what? What could be such a big deal that stopping it would really take any visible toll on someone's body?

Fast forward ten years, and here I am. No alcohol. No cigarettes. No dairy. No chemicals. No processed sugar. No over-processed soy. Less gluten. Hardly any coffee. No hair dye. Minimal make-up. No artificial scents. No allergy medication or medicated skin cream. Fewer synthetic fabrics. What have I learned from it all? There are build-ups in my body that have desperately been trying to leave. Don't believe it? Let me guide you from some of my before and after.

Firstly, let me state that this is not about getting some super skinny, bikini-ready body. This is not about starving myself. In fact, I feel more full than ever incorporating tons of raw fruits and veggies into my diet. You know when you eat at Burger King or Taco Bell and are hungry 5 minutes later? Well, that is because your body is craving nutrients, which you aren't getting with fast food. Before my detoxification process I had cystic acne. This doesn't come from not washing your face, although several ignorant people thought so. I could wash my face 14 times a day and it wouldn't help, because the issue was much deeper and came from inside my body, not on the surface. The cystic acne did not only appear on my face, but around my bikini line, along my upper thighs, and in the form of boils in my armpit. I consulted my doctor on the boils, as I was getting them so severely that I would get prescribed antibiotics every few months and twice had to have them surgically lanced. The doctor claimed it was because I was using a dirty razor to shave my armpits, but I continued to get boils even when I switched razors every two days. I also had severe abdominal cramping, which would leave me hunched over in crippling pain at the end of a work day. I became puffy under my chin and at the sides of my jawline.

Was I eating deep-fried bacon everyday? No, I have been vegetarian since I was 8. So then wasn't I already healthy? I was consuming exactly what the average American in their twenties did, that was all. That means, I drank a lot of alcohol. I ate a lot of bread and cheese. I ate processed fake soy "meat" products. I dyed my hair until it was dry and brittle and the roots were an oily greasy mess. All of this was having a terrible impact on my lymphatic system.

If you notice in the diagram above, many of my problem areas of cystic drainage (armpits, bikini zone, sides of the neck) are directly connected to the lymphatic system. Now that I have made these changes I will go through periods of clear skin, healthy hair, and have had no abdominal cramping or boils. But about once a month I am still experiencing drainage. Not in the same way of build-up overflow oozing out, but fluid which has been deep inside my body for a long time, trying to expel itself.

This has been a struggle and a journey. I haven't seen much written by women about going through the detoxing process personally, so I thought my experiences might help others feel that they are on the right path, even if it isn't easy. Overall I feel much healthier and I know I am only going to improve and eliminate the outside vices that have plagued my body. And I will do this with a stomach full of all of the best nature has to provide.