Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Turkish Coffee

I am in the habit of drinking Turkish coffee in the late afternoon. I enjoy the ritual of preparing it. It smells delicious. I love the pretty little cups in which I have it. It tastes delicious. And, three o'clcock seems to be the time I want a pick me up. I enjoy the quiet restful time during which I prepare my coffee. I love talking on the phone with my friend as I drink it or sitting in my wingback chair alone to drink it. I love my chair. I love my friend. I love how the drink is hot, while it is cold here. I love how sharp my mind feels after drinking it.

I would like to find something to substitute for this, and Pero is not cutting it.

Every time I find a reason not to drink Turkish coffee, I'll write it here:
February 8, 2008 - My teeth are turning yellow!
Postscript- Well on Feb 14 I got sick and so giving up coffee was easy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


A few days ago I whacked my thigh very hard against a modern boxy-style wooden chair. The thing is as solid as a tank. I was expecting a bad bruise. I was in pain, and if I were a cartoon character I would have been seeing stars dancing around my head. I have no bruise or soreness. I credit all the spinach I've been eating with this healing. The body heals itself, and does so quicker if we don't encumber it with toxins.

Also a few nights ago, I awoke from sleep and felt like doing some yoga. I surprised myself by getting much more range of movement and deeper stretches than I have had in years. My body felt quite warm, and I felt deeply peaceful and relaxed before, during and after the yoga. My friend, who was a yoga instructor, said about this amazing experience "Where the mind goes, the body will follow." That day, I had been watching Shazzie, another raw foodist, on a YouTube video practicing yoga.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ellen G White

When I was a child, my mother had a copy of Counsel on Diet and Foods by Ellen G White. She is one of the founders of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The book was red leather, embossed, and the lettering was gold. To a six year old, this book was obviously important. It has been more than three decades since I read it.

The fact that I remember reading the book, and think I remember its' message shows what an impression the book made on me. I would like to pick up a copy at the library to check and see if my memories are true.

Let me start with this disclaimer. Recently I did a search on Ms. White and came across several sites calling her a false prophet- and a plagiarist. . An article on her in Wikipedia, quoting, has this to say about those who wish to discredit her by calling her a plagiarist: "Adventists assert that it became increasingly normative to cite sources during her lifetime, and that Ellen G. White subsequently revised her books, changed passages to include quotations from authoritative writers, and at times deleted passages when an author could not be found."

Ms. White was a vegetarian and an advocate of not combining too many types of foods at one meal. She believed it was taxing for the digestive system. She thought most people should eshew milk and eggs. She suggested a breakfast of porridge, a midday meal of vegetables, and a supper of bread and vegetables.

Obviously, one has to consider that reading the book at such a young age impressed my subconscious in a way that has made my new eating habits easier for me. Adventists have strayed from Ms. White's teachings on the subject of diet.

Jamie Oliver

Note to self- get a copy of the New York Times article about Jamie Olivers' plea for better treatment of farmed animals in England.


Sample Menu from a Real Day

1/2 apple with heaping tablespoon raw almond butter
glass of Green Juice

diced zuchinni and button mushrooms in ginger soy sauce
1/2 bananna

espresso cup of coffee
2 small date paste balls, rolled in unsweetened coconut

Second Snack
10 olives
raw coconut, just out of the shell

salad with red bell pepper, alfalfa sprouts, ginger tahini drizzle, topped with almond slivers
Cubed tofu (not raw)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fruit and Nuts

This morning I woke up wanting to have something other than Green Juice. I had a sixth of a coconut and a sixth of a mango (another breakfaster was having mango and insisted on sharing). Two hours later- I had perfect blood sugar.

I wasn't really hungry at eleven, but sat down and had a lunch after unpacking the groceries. I had a 4oz cup of cherries, one fourth of an avocado sprinkled with a few grains of sea salt. I snacked on the above, and finished with a tablespoon of raw almond butter.

I know that some would consider the above food combination scary. According to food combining theory in the book The Raw Life, by Paul Nisson; the cherries are fruit (and should best be eaten alone), the avocados are considered fat, and the nut butter is considered protein. Either the fat or protein might have been eaten alone or with greens, but not together.

Reasons of health aside, food combining eliminates gassiness. For three weeks I went along fine, eating what I wanted with no problem. Then one night I had a banana, raw hazelnuts, some greens with a little oil and vinegar, and a glass of red wine. My stomach hurt! It was no joke.

Herbert Shelton's book Food Combining Made Easy seems to be the accepted authority on this- so that's on my to-read list. Paul Nisson recommends strongly that you eat mono-meals (just one thing or one kind of thing at a meal, even fruits are divided into sub-groups such as acidic fruits, sweet fruits, etc.) I might add that many of the long-time raw foodists interviewed for his book agreed.

But, I also read in Nisson's book The Raw Life that Morris Krok, said "You might have an apple with your almonds. Although this is not the best food combining practice, the almonds are dry but the apple is juicy." The message I get is to do what works for you and not become obsessed in a way that stops you from continuing on your path .

Also- there are raw food chefs out there making amazing dishes which sometimes combine nuts and fruits. If you don't go wild eating too many different things at once, I think these inspired dishes can bring good health as well as pleasure.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pretty Packages in the Mail

I recently discovered that offers giftwrapping. It's $10 a pop, but the papers are beautiful. The sort of paper that can turn a jar of raw chocolate spread or some raw blondies into an appropriate "thank you for being lovely."

Raw Food Real Cooking

Raw Food Real Cooking is a cookbook by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Mengalis. I have the cooked cookbook Big City Cooking by Matthew Kenney, and it is really good. I was intimidated by this raw cookbook, and so only recently bought it. I wish I had bought it sooner.

Like the other book, this book is filled with sumptuous pictures that show you how the finished dish will look. Like the other book this includes a Shopping Directory at the end because the authors believe that good food begins with good ingredients. (And in the world of raw foods, it's very helpful and informative.) New to this book is a bit of friendly chattiness and the voice of co-author Sarma that I think works well.

I don't have a lot of fancy kitchen tools; I have a blender and food processor combo that I bought together for $60 at Costco. But I have been able to make everything in this book that I've tried. So my nut milks are a little nutty and therefore not as smooth as what the authors acheive. In places I have substitued ingredients either because the authors suggest it, or because I gained the confidence to improvise from Big City Cooking. Everything comes out delicious.

I can't even wait until I have a proper dehydrator, blender, etc.I gave myself one month of being raw before I invested in these items. Guess what? I feel so great. Sarma does not lie when she says this raw food will get you feeling amazing. I LOVE having this beautiful book, and it's elegant recipes to take raw foodism beyond rabbit food. I can serve a Mango Macadamia Milk Lassi for brunch and my guests reaction is "Wow."

Buy this book if you want to go raw- OR- are looking for many recipes that even non-raw foodists will enjoy. There is plenty here to try even without any fancy equipment.

There's a new Matthew Kenney Cookbook- Everyday Raw.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Raw Milk

In answer to the question- Don't raw foodists drink raw milk?

See yesterdays' post- Most Raw Foodists are Vegan. Simply, most don't consume animal products at all. Even consuming honey or bee pollen is controversial. I would not drink raw milk, or eat unpasteurized cheese. This is because I don't think cow (or goat) milk is the best human food.

Sixty percent of people have lactose intolerance. It is particularly common among Hispanics and African-Americans. This can take the form of gassiness or stuffy nose, or more serious reactions such as a swollen face after drinking milk.

I remember that when I was in school the teachers had charts with four squares. Meat (pictures of hams and sausages and eggs), Dairy (ice cream featured prominently in this group), Fruits & Vegetables (Lumped together) and Breads (including white bread and soda crackers). We were told these foods were good for you. Maybe schools should have to get permission slips from parents before children are exposed to these lies. Not for sex education, but for the other garbage they teach in health class.

Raw milk is not the most radical idea, and I keep reading about how some people think it is good for you. Our grandfathers regularly drank unpasteurized milk. In France, cheeses are not pasteurized. Many people feel that the government should not make this decision for people. But, I know someone who got sick from drinking raw milk. I don't think it is wise to drink raw milk.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What's to Eat?

Here is what I have been doing for the past three weeks.

Breakfast is anywhere from 5am to 9am. Breakfast is a drink that goes by many names. I've heard it called Green Lemonade, Glass of Fresh, Green Juice and the Drink-Made-by-Dr-Mehmet-Oz-on-the-Oprah-Show!

4 cups mix of Spinach and Romaine (some recipes use Kale, Parsley)
a few stalks of Celery (I actually don't like the flavor of Celery)
half a small lemon or 1/4 of a large one (some people use more)
half an apple (some people use more)
I've discovered that a tangerine tastes delicious
Sometimes a little ginger, but a little goes a long way
water to thin- my resulting mixture is 8 cups
(Ice makes it taste even better)

I rough chop the lettuce, and mince the other ingredients finely, leaving the skins on. I blend it up. I don't have a fancy blender but a stronger blender would improve this drink. Sometimes I have one glass, sometimes more. I drink less than half the mixture in a morning, and start with a fresh batch every other day. It tastes good, but I know you wont believe me if you don't try it for yourself.

I wait until noon for lunch, by which time I am hungry. Luckily as I am not on heavy drugs, my blood sugar has not plummeted.

Lunch is a salad. I eat greens and raw vegetables, and a vinaigrette. I often eat sprouted and dehydrated sunflower seeds. If it's all greens, I add some almonds or walnuts .

I've noticed that my energy slumps a little at four. Usually I have a small coffee with a large splash of unsweetened almond milk. Since we have family dinner at five thirty, I don't want to eat anything that will raise my blood sugar. But I need to keep my sugar from dipping. It's a question mark. Today I had a cup of the grain beverage Pero, and didn't test my sugars afterwards. On other days I've eaten a half an avocado or a quarter cup of olives. Again, I really should wait two hours and test to see what is happening there.

Dinner- to give this program a fair shot- I will start putting some effort into making half-way palatable dinners. So far the easiest thing is more salad with nuts, or a piece of fruit with nuts. We've also been eating some dishes I learned from Karen Knowlers' YouTube Videos- Avocado Massaged Kale, Stuffed Nori Rolls, Marinated Mushrooms, Chopped Raw Almonds with Blueberries and Almond Milk. I usually serve some cooked food and let everyone take what they want. (Guests love to try out the raw offering.)

Most Raw Foodists are Vegan

There are a lot of crazy things written about raw foodists. The craziest is that raw foodists eat raw meat. After reading many different books about raw foodism over the past year and a half, I can emphatically tell you that is not the case. Most raw foodists are vegans. I've seen two references to meat-eating in books. One author said something like "I knew a guy who got into that, and he got very sick. He's still sick. Don't do it." In the other case the author mentions that he's known a few meat eaters and says "But they are shunned." (Italics are mine, for emphasis.)

Again- just read any of the literature and understand the history of the movement- most raw foodists are vegans. Because this is becoming a popular diet among the general public, you may find some that eat very little cooked meat. A person who formerly ate a diet of mostly cooked foods, that enjoys going for sushi and continues to eat sashimi after becoming a raw foodist- is just doing what he did before. The person is not suddenly eating raw meat as a raw foodist.

Anyway, the idea is so crazy I almost didn't mention it. But, it is super important to fight this perception because it would be terrible if health care professionals believed this was a usual practice of raw foodists.

Testing for Piece of Mind

If you want to know what your blood sugar is doing- just test. If you have prediabetes and the glucometer isn't covered by insurance, you can buy one at the pharmacy. They are not that expensive. This devise gives you the power to adjust your course and maintain perfect blood sugar.

Today, more than ever, diabetics have the power to achieve perfect blood sugar. Many people will be able to do this through diet alone, without medication of any kind. If you haven't already, I suggest you read The Berenstein Principal by Dr. Richard Berenstein. It will give you so much useful information and reason to hope.

I want to know if I can successfully control blood sugars using raw food, as was done at the Tree of Life Rejuvination Center in the movie Raw for 30.

Transitioning to Raw

Depending on what you're diet is like now, transitioning to eating a whole foods vegan diet first can be helpful in transitioning to a raw diet. And when you're eating a raw diet, you're also continuing to eat only whole foods. Eating a raw diet means you just elinate cooked foods.

First- what is Whole Food? Can you imagine it growing in nature? Even a fish swimming is a whole food. (Some pople think a fish is food for a bear.) Artificially pink fish-paste with artificial onion flavor that comes in a tube to squeeze onto crackers is not a whole food, because you cannot imagine it existing in nature.
If you choose to eat grains (Berenstein thinks diabetics generally shouldn't,) the less processed the better. You might prepare brown rice or quinoa for a side dish. Eat a lot of vegetables, and make half of them raw salads. Find whole foods to replace special ocassion things you might have eaten before and you will completely lose your desire to eat processed, artificial food.

When you are ready, transition to raw foods. Begin the day with green juice and have a salad for lunch. Work up the courage to try some simple raw recipes for dinner.

If you are going to "fall off the all-raw-wagon" do it with whole food. Have slow-cooked oatmeal with organic apple grated in it and unsweetened almond milk for breakfast, a home-made vegetable soup with sunflower seed crackers for lunch, some brocolli salad with a side of carrots and cooked spinach in an almond butter sauce (also known as bathing rama) for dinner. These are good foods that help you transition back to raw because they do not throw your body as far off balance as much as highly processed, artificial, sweetened food.

Gestational Diabetes

If you have a family history of diabetes get tested for it before you get pregnant. Don't wait until late in the pregnancy when many doctors do the gestational diabetes test to find out. Controlling your blood sugar is an important part of having a healthy pregnancy.

Many years ago I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I went to the bookstore and bought every book I could on gestational diabetes. The books were so frustratingly light on information. There is not one I would recommend. I do recommend asking for a visit to a nutritionist. If your insurance doesn't pay for this, you can find a nutritionist on your own. This is not very expensive, $60 or so.

Luckily, my doctor sent me to the Joslin Diabetes Center for nutritional counseling very early in my pregnancy. My diet was already good but the purpose was to learn how to count carbohydrates to keep my blood sugars steady. The other women in the group were at eight months before they'd been diagnosed.

We were asked what we regularly ate. The diets of this little group were so poor! The worst was of a woman who claimed she'd been living on nothing but ground beef, white rice and ice cream. The nurse stared at her in shock. Finally she said "You didn't know you had diabetes but you did know you were pregnant and that's not a healthy pregnancy diet for anyone."

I was eating a whole foods diet. Most of the recipes I used came from, Feeding the Whole Family. A typical dinner for me was a spinach salad with lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, a piece of wild salmon, some broccoli and half a small baked sweet potato. This diet worked well for me at the time.

During a later pregnancy, I was not able to tolerate carbohydrates (even the healthy kind) without insulin. I ate a whole foods diet again, and supplemented with injected insulin.

I hope you will make wise choices after discussing with your doctor about the use of insulin. Please do not let a fear of needles prevent you from using this treatment if you think it would be beneficial.

Ask your doctor if you are a high-risk pregnancy. If you are a high-risk pregnancy- because of your age, weight, health-history, having a pregnancy with multiples or any other factors, you need to know. Your doctor may refer you to someone who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Managing your blood sugars is not something you can play at, the health of your child or children depends on you.

All three of my kids were born healthy, at term and at a perfect birth weight. My heart goes out to anyone who has a difficult pregnancy or difficult birthing. I realize that some women experience so much guilt, often for things that are truly out of their control with regards to pregnancy and birthing.

Food as Medicine

In the past year, a friend of mine used the Berenstein Principal to control her diabetes.

This opened up my mind to a new way of thinking about diabetes. I realized that after many years of having diabetes and doing what the doctors told me, my health could be even better if I knew more.

You may never have heard of the marvelous book The Berenstein Principal by Dr. Richard Berenstein. It is an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to live a healthy life with diabetes. It is filled with clear explanations of the science of managing your blood sugars.

Dr Berenstein was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes over fifty years ago- but he refused to accept ill-health. He used an early blood glucometer to test the effects of various meals on his blood sugar. He realized that eating a diet very low in carbohydrate controlled his blood sugars. When many in the medical establishment closed their minds to his findings, he became a medical doctor himself so that he could speak at medical conventions. He's still practicing medicine, showing people that it is possible to take charge of their diabetes.

I want to make it perfectly clear that although I think everyone with diabetes needs to know about Dr Richard Berenstein, I have never met him. Certainly, he has never heard of me. In no way do I wish to give the impression otherwise.

Well- the book taught me a lot and the diet worked for me in that it controlled my blood sugars. It didn't work for me long-term because I am gravitating towards a cruelty-free style of eating. I wondered, can blood sugars be controlled through vegan eating?

What is Diabetes?

If your doctor has told you that you have diabetes II, diabetes mellitus or pre-diabetes it is important that you realize you can be completely healthy with this condition.

Your pancreas produces the hormone insulin. That insulin starts working from the moment a bite of food enters your mouth to convert any carbohydrates present in the food into glucose. This glucose provides your cells with energy, and helps fat cells store fat.

Everything you take into your mouth is made up of carbohydrate, fat, protein, water and micronutrients. Fat, protein, water and micronutrients in normal amounts do not pose much of a problem. In fact some studies have shown that even dangerous "saturated" fats are not as unhealthy for diabetics as uncontrolled sugars. But, too much carbohydrate will raise blood glucose levels in a negative way. It makes you feel unwell in the short term. Left unchecked it can have serious long-term consequences such as blindness and stroke. And, meanwhile it will make you fat.

Some people don't even know when they are running high blood sugars. Having high blood sugars can be a little like having poor eye sight. It feels normal, until you put on glasses and suddenly realize what you were missing. When you get your blood sugars are under control, you will feel better.

Diabetes is a condition where your body is genetically predisposed to store carbohydrates as fat, more so than other people. This really benefits you in times of famine. Your pancreas is working perfectly- if your goal is to store as much fat as possible for the upcoming grain shortage. Although this is a situation you will work around- it is not different than having color-blindness or being left-handed. It is something genetically true of you- which in itself is neither good nor bad. In itself, it is not a cause for dis-ease.

Some people say "I am allergic to peanuts", or "I have lactose intolerance." to explain why they don't eat those foods. You can learn to say "Carbohydrates don't agree with me." Instead many people think of their diabetes as something wrong with themselves, and set themselves up for a lot of nonsense by trying to deny it and to live as though they don't have it. Of course, everything that is neither a fat nor a protein is a carbohydrate. Because you must eat some carbohydrates, and it isn't as simple as just eliminating peanuts or milk.

Again, diabetes is in itself neither good nor bad. All of the ailments that are supposed to go along with diabetes are ailments caused by uncontrolled blood sugars. You don't have to experience any of that! If you don't believe me - ask your doctor.

Raw for 30

I am inspired by the movie Raw for 30. You can see the trailer at YouTube

We've been eating raw food since the day after Christmas (the kiddos are still having a whole foods diet.) I'll write more later- but I've already encountered some serious misunderstandings about the raw foods diet. The kind that would be very bad for a diabetic.

The hardest thing for me was giving up coffee. It's been three weeks vegan & raw (I've eaten vegan & cooked three times during those three weeks) but the coffee is the last to go.