Raw Vegan Day 33 – Two Winter Soups

Oh the memories of savoring the hot soups in winter…  the hotter, the better.  If my tongue was still attached, it needed to cook for longer.  Same with spice – the spicier, the better.  Well, apparently, Vitamix warming is okay on the raw.  🙂  2 minutes or less.

Warm Beet Tomato Soup – 1 large beet, 2 cartons baby heirloom tomatoes, a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, 1 small spoon of yellow miso, and 3 drops of Sriracha.  I added somewhere between 1-2 cups of water to thin the consistency and make it easier to blend.  I blended 2 minutes to warm in the Vitamix.

Zoodle Noodle Soup – 1 large spiralized zucchini in broth.

Broth – the leftover zucchini weenie from the spiralizer, 2 1/2 cups of water, 1 small spoon of yellow miso, 2 fresh dates, 1 small spoon of raw tahini, 1 small spoon of flaxseed oil (unfiltered coldpressed), and the magical 3 drops of Sriracha.

It did not even go 30 seconds in the Vitamix, and the broth was just barely room temp.  I took this to work so it sat marinating the zoodles for a few hours.  The zoodles softened and the texture was perfect even at room temp.  I have leftover broth, so I may add some fresh spinach and tomatoes to it later for a sloppy salad.

This was my snack yesterday at work.  I had a 5 minute break.

I had leftover broth from the Zoodle Noodle Soup after eating all the Zoodle Noodles and I was still hungry, so I made a second lunch starting with a plate of veggies…

Sloppy guts
3 local bell peppers, 1 cucumber, and 1 carton of baby heirlooms.  I chopped them and added them to the Broth.

full sloppy
I had a bundle of spinach that I chopped and placed on top.

Side sloppy
Side view – look how deep and colorful it is!

Eating down the salad – the colors!!!

Sloppy Salad
I call this The Sloppy Salad.

Thanksgiving Inspired – Warm Broccoli Cheese Noodles

NOODLES – I don’t think you can go wrong beginning any dish with a giant bowl of spiralized zucchini.  This was all one jumbo zucchini.

broc and bok
VEGGIES – Teenager Bok Choy (it’s not quite baby and it’s not quite full grown) and broccoli.

APPLY – Chopped veggies over noodles.  Onward to the sauce…

SAUCE PREP – This is what happens when you spiralize a zucchini.  You are left with a Zucchini Weenie (Fully Raw Kristina’s term for it).  Below the weenie is a piece of garlic.  Toss both in the Vitamix.  Waste not…

HERBS – Cilantro, Parsley, and Lemon Basil.  Personalize your sauce.  Add whatever herbs you desire.  My herb combinations are ALWAYS different even on repeated meals.  Toss in the Vitamix.

TOMATOES – Baby heirlooms turn into nacho cheese in the Vitamix.  I kid you not.  It’s magic.

NUTS/SEEDS – I added some pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds to the Vitamix.  Add whatever nut/seed you desire.  Not too many.  Cashews are the best for cheesy sauces, but I didn’t have any on hand.  Substitution!

SPICES – Turmeric, lemon pepper, nutritional yeast, and a very tiny amount of himalayan sea salt.  Add what makes you tingle!  In retrospect, I might have added miso instead of sea salt and maybe a fresh date or two.

WARM – Vitamix on high for about two minutes or however long you want to get it warm enough for you.  The longer you go, the more enzymes will be lost.  Pour over the veggie noodles.

ONION – You can’t have broccoli cheese without some sort of crunchy onion on top.  I used a package of Veggie Krunch raw vegan Sweet Onion as my “fried onions” topping.

FEAST.  Looks so naughty on the top, but it’s oh so green and fresh on the bottom.  Make your own version.  Tell me what you did differently.  There is no right or wrong way.  Play with your food.

I raced a teenager and won.

Really!  I totally did!  Last night, in fact!  I know, I’m not THAT old.  I’m only 30.  I still count this as an accomplishment and let me tell you why!

So last night in the gym parking lot, it was me, my boyfriend, my trainer, and the teenager.  Trainer drew the line on the pavement and ordered his troops to do a full lap of fast running around the lot perimeter.  Eyeballing my competition, I knew I was completely screwed at the start.  There’s no way!  None.  Might as well give everything I have since I’ll be racing myself.

Gimpy (my left side) still isn’t 100%.  I remember being in this parking lot nearly two months ago for my first almost lap of limping around the lot.  I limped so slowly because I wasn’t accustomed to my new gait.  I was also trying very hard not to swing my hips to compensate for the leg muscles refusing to engage.  It took conscious effort with each step to work through the motions and retrain my body, but mainly my brain, to walk again.

Trainer and Boyfriend stayed on either side of me as I limped around with tears and scowls on my face.  It was hard and I was angry and impatient.  I tried to increase my speed just a little.  I used the anger to propel me forward just a little faster.  Trainer and Boyfriend were wary of my tendency to push too fast too soon.  Trainer cautiously pleading with me to slow down and Boyfriend kindly encouraging me to continue at a steady and safe pace, “you can do it, hon.”  Balance.  Hah!  I didn’t know if I’d ever walk properly again, let alone run.  I had no time for balance.

Back to the teenager.  I’ve seen her in the gym a couple of times and she’s joined our impromptu boot camps twice.  I guess she’s new?  Or just new to the schedule?  She is a client of Trainer, but it doesn’t seem like she wants to be there at all.  Each time I’ve seen her, she belly aches about everything he asks.  Trainer bargains with her repeatedly to get the effort he wants.  She resists or refuses or gives half effort and quits.  I suppose her parents are paying?  If she wants to be there, she has an interesting way of showing it.  She’s strong and fast, as most teenagers are.  It’s not that she can’t!  She just doesn’t have any drive to put in any effort.  But she could easily beat me in a race.  Easily could.  But didn’t.

Ready, set, go!  Off they went ahead of me.  Boyfriend in the lead, Trainer catching up to Boyfr…. wait… what the hell?  Trainer is running backwards… and gaining on Boyfriend.  What?  Really?  LOL!  Teenager is ahead of me but starting to lose momentum.  In fact, her arms are flailing a bit and she’s grabbing her side.  She stops.

We haven’t even rounded the first corner when I pass her.  I look ahead and see Trainer and Boyfriend keeping pace with each other.  Trainer running backwards and Boyfriend running forwards.  I’m trying not to laugh so I can keep breathing through my own strides.  I look back.  Teenager is walking leisurely.  I look forward at the pavement.  Okay.  You know what?  You don’t want it?  I’m going to take it.  GIMPY is taking you down.  And as I rounded the last corner to the finish line, I see Teenager clumping through the middle of the lot at her leisurely pace while Trainer argues with her “Really?!”

Even against seemingly impossible odds, I’m still going to keep trying.  I won because she didn’t want to try.  I’ll take that victory and I’ll keep trying.

Raw Vegan Day 31 – How to Make a Quick Gorgeous Salad at Work

I’m busy.  You’re busy.  Let’s get right to it!

I have 1 hour for lunch.  I’ve got 20 minutes to make a salad and hopefully more than 20 more minutes to eat!  I have less than 20 minutes to write this post.  I have a sink, a knife, and a counter top.  GO!

kale layer
KALE LAYER – I brought a large bundle of kale but only used half for this salad.  I washed and ripped away the leaves from the stem by holding the fat end of the stem and sliding my fist down the shaft to separate the leaves from the stems.  I tore it into pieces on the plate.

apple layer
APPLE LAYER – I used the kale as the cutting board to quarter the apple, cut out the core, and dice.  Cutting into the kale was awkward at first, but I got the hang of it.   I don’t have a cutting board at work.  The alternative is spreading some napkins over that nasty counter top.

carrot layer
CARROT LAYER – I used my world famous (yeah right…) Hover-Cut technique!  I held each of the carrots one at a time over the salad and used my knife at an angle.  I turned the carrot as it got shorter.  You can see the pieces look like spears in some instances.  Cutting into air takes practice at timing and swift controlled movements, but it’s easily learned.

celery layer
CELERY LAYER – 2 stalks Hover-Cut!  NEXT!

tomato layer
TOMATO LAYER – I used a carton of heirloom baby tomatoes.  I held each tomato in the air between two fingers and cut the middle with the blade facing away from my hand.

pomegranate layer
POMEGRANATE LAYER – Optional!  But of course, every ingredient is optional to what YOU want on your beautiful salad!  I had one in my bag so I opened it and sprinkled some seeds on top.  I cut off the top and sliced wedges around the flesh in line with the fruit’s natural lines.  They just pop open with not a lot of effort if you do it just right.

DRESSING?  Who has time!?  Well I didn’t bring any, but if the balance of sweet fruits and crisp veggies isn’t doing it for me, I’ll drizzle a little raw almond butter which is excellent to keep at the work desk for emergencies.

And now, I feast!  Happy salad making!

Gym Challenges – Weakness – MS

Last Thursday, my trainer asked me to stay home from the gym and take an additional rest day because of the recent round of weakness.  I was getting dizzy and unable to lift even close to my usual amounts.  …this too shall pass …please.

My weekly one hour training session is officially on Saturdays, but I try to go Monday-Thursday after work as well.  Friday is the set rest day because the gym closes early on this day and I can’t make it across town fast enough from work.  Sunday is the optional make-up day or alternate rest day.  5-6 days a week in the gym is good.  My trainer will work with me and his other clients if he’s free during the week.  I look forward to the impromptu boot camps.  He is the kind of person that will give above and beyond if you reciprocate with effort.  I’m happy to push and he’s happy to give.  It’s not special treatment though.  He spoils all of his dedicated clients this way.

I’ve been going through phases of weakness in my fitness and am in one right now.  I’ve noticed it more since the hospital, but I also knew this battle all too well for several years prior to the hospital.  It just didn’t have a diagnosis yet.  I was hard on myself and called myself weak or lazy or just not dedicated enough.  I know, it’s bad to beat myself up… I’ll share that story another day.

Now I know with confirmation on the MRI images showing the 4 lesions that there’s a logical reason for the weakness.  I also notice that my writing isn’t as good when I go through the weakness.  My brain gets a little slow.  Everything slows down.  And then, when my brain is ready, I am allowed to resume at a normal pace and reality.

I am coming out of it soon.  I can feel it.  For now, I take it slow on the treadmill or elliptical and get demoted to the baby weights at 3 and 5 pounds.  Ridiculous and embarrassing, but this is the new normal I need to come to terms with.  I’m not always going to be strong.  I’m not always going to be able to bump up the weight.  I’m not always going to be able to do more than I did yesterday.  And I need to learn to be okay with this and love my overall progress.  It’s easy to get discouraged, but it would be far worse to wallow or quit.  I must keep my head up and continue moving forward.  One step at a time.  One rep at a time.  One lap at a time.  One breath at a time.

Raw Vegan Day 30

Kale Bowl – Green and purple kale with avocado drowned in a warm tomato, carrot, and celery broth.

(Broth – 1 carton of heirloom tomatoes, about 2 cups of water, a little brown miso paste, 3 drops of Sriracha, 2 carrots, and 2 celery stalks warmed for a couple minutes in the Vitamix.)

Fruit Plate – Quick Snack – 2 apples, 1 orange, and 1 pomegranate.

Breakfast today was a 32 ounce banana, date, and flaxseed smoothie with cinnamon and allspice.

Lunch yesterday was 1 whole small watermelon juiced.

Breakfast yesterday was a smoothie made from 1 whole pineapple, half an apple, 2 bananas, and 2 carrots.

I’m rocking the raw cravings like it’s second nature now.  I’m doing less thinking and less conscious determination to stick with it and avoid temptation.   Best yet, cooked food now smells slightly dead and not as appetizing to me now.  The downside is that meat and dairy absolutely stink like decay and putrid rotting filth.  I can’t believe that I used to eat that stuff.

I became vegetarian in 2003 and vegan in 2009.  I went raw vegan on October 12, 2014 because I couldn’t bear the thought of beginning injections for Multiple Sclerosis without doing absolutely everything in my power to heal myself.  I began injections on the same day.  I will post those first few documented weeks sometime soon.

Some things about being raw still confuse me.  I will look up “raw vegan” recipes online and see people worrying about warming their raw food but not above an exact temperature, and then I’ll see all sorts of non-raw food items (mostly to add flavoring) in the same recipe.  It seems highly contradictory to me, although I’m still reading about this and learning the new lifestyle as I go.  Right now, I simply go by touch, smell, taste, and sight.  I don’t want to cook my food or kill any enzymes, and I don’t even do a warmed dish every day, although I might be more inclined to do this when it gets colder.

Also, salt?!?!?!  Supposedly that’s still allowed??  Along with soy sauce?  Miso?  I even saw somewhere that almond milk and tofu are allowed?  I’m not so certain about all that… more research is required before I overdo it on any of that.  I did see that a couple of tiny drops are okay of certain spices even if they aren’t raw.  I’m just skeptical right now and don’t want to falsely claim that I’m 100% fully raw if I’m unintentionally not.  Ah well, we live and we learn.  Onward and upward into this lifestyle!

Raw Vegan Day 29

The certified reconditioned Vitamix I bought on sale came in the mail.  My life has forever changed!

I’ve had several mono-meals in the last few days just because I’ve been so busy at work.  4 large oranges for a breakfast.  1 small watermelon for a lunch.  1 carton of tomatoes for a snack.  A butternut squash in the Vitamix for a dinner.

I’m planning 3 whole fruit smoothie meals for today centered around 1 pineapple, 1 small watermelon, and 1 cantaloupe.  I’ll see how hungry I am after these and add more meals if necessary.  I am hoping that I’ll have room for a giant dark leafy green salad this evening.

nack Attack – 1 orange, 1 grapefruit, 1 apple, 2 underripe persimmons, and 2 ripe persimmons.  I like the flavor of both.

Green Seed Vegan (restaurant) – 1 solburger (wrapped in collard) and 1 mega salad.  Eating out raw vegan style.  I think we may start eating here once a week as a treat.

I made nacho cheese out of baby heirloom tomatoes in the Vitamix using two cartons of baby heirloom tomatoes plus a little onion and garlic powder, nutritional yeast, cashews, raw coconut oil, and a single date.  I made some emergency zucchini noodles and drowned them on the plate.  I was lucky to snap one poorly lit picture before I devoured this uncontrollably.

Now off to the gym…

Raw Vegan Day 26 – I’d do it too, if only…

3 carrots, 3 celery stalks, baby heirloom tomatoes, 1 red bell pepper, 1 red banana pepper, and 1 green banana pepper on a bed of green leafy kale completely hidden by the veggie abundance.  Raw almond butter on the side for dipping.

4 stalks of celery, 1 apple, baby heirloom tomatoes, and half a blood orange on a bed of 2 kale leaves.

1 apple, 1 pear, 1 green bell pepper, baby heirloom tomatoes, 1 orange, and 1 blood orange.

As you can see, I have a surplus of organic baby heirloom tomatoes.  I got 12 cartons of them on Tuesday for $35 on top of my full share from the local organic co-op for $90 which has more food than I can eat in a week even as a raw vegan.  Since I’m raw, I rarely ever eat out, so my entire organic raw vegan food budget for a week is $125 on most weeks.  People who say “that’s a lot of money!” usually forget to add in their fast food, restaurants, gas station nibbles, vending machines, and everything else that is mindlessly consumed.  It’s understandable that this cost is forgotten.  I don’t consider it food either.

All of these pictures have the same background countertop.  That’s the office kitchen.  Yes, I have a day job.  A high stress demanding day job with constant overtime hours.  My typical work day is between 10-12 hours not including the commute time since I live in another city which puts me at between 12-16 hours away from home every week-day all dedicated to my job.  I also work some weekends.

I get up between 4-5am depending on how much work is waiting for me.  When I get home, it’s a race to get the animals taken care of and then get myself to the gym for “physical therapy” or “Beast Mode” or “I refuse to give up my independence” time.  I give anywhere from an hour to two hours at the gym fighting my body and forcing it to function normally.  I stay as long as it takes to wear me down thoroughly.  I get home and take a hot bath (especially important on injection night to heat up the skin) and make myself dinner.  Sometimes I snap a picture of dinner if it’s more creative than a green smoothie or simple salad in order to share and inspire others to eat raw for their health and vegan for the animals and humanity.  I don’t usually fall into bed right away, as I’m digesting dinner and, if it’s an injection night, I’m probably in pain for a few hours and unable to relax.  I’m lucky if lights go out before 10pm.  It’s a really long and stressful day.  Every single day.

Saturday begins bright and early with my official weekly session with my fabulous trainer at the local gym whom I chose in lieu of hospital physical therapy.  He works with me a little bit every night I’m in the gym though, so it’s like I get his guidance and training 5-6 days a week unofficially.  Then I spend the rest of the weekend playing catch up at home and resting when I can.  Chores, errands, taking care of the animals, house cleaning, endless laundry, and food prepping.

Before I know it, it’s Monday morning again.  Essentially I don’t have a social life outside of social media, work, home, and the gym.  And truth be told, I’m feeling very introverted since the hospital.  I’m focused on survival.  Idle chit chat and even mindless fun don’t appeal to me at this moment in time.  I’m on a mission and I’ve got very little time to work with.  Success is more valuable than comfort.

When people say, they’d go vegan or raw vegan if only they had more money and time, my eyebrows get caught in my hairline somewhere under the wrinkles of my forehead.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  If it’s that important to you, you will find the way.  It’s just not that important to you right now.  For me, it’s the only way forward and higher on my priority list than anything else.  “I’d do it too, if only…” the correct answer is “if only it was more important to me.”  It’s okay.  Take your time.  When the moment is right for you on your journey, you will do it.  And you will rock it.  Honesty first though.

Strength in the Face of MS

You think I’m strong? You think I’m brave? That’s because I’ve already gone through the struggle by the time I share it with the world.

I get angry a lot now. I cry a lot. I get scared. I get sad. I yell. I growl. I clench my teeth and fists. I cry some more. I ask for more gym pain because it feels better than my own pain. I ask pointless questions like “what did I do wrong to cause this?” and dwell on meaningless googled answers like, “environmental toxins.”  I get weak.  I get frustrated easily.  It’s a battle to not accidentally take it out on others.

I get scared and snappy before injections now after having experienced a couple of botched ones.  Either too deep into the muscle, too shallow not hitting the fat, or even just hitting a nerve will hurt like a monster for hours!   As a needle phobic, the injection itself actually isn’t that bad.  The needle is small and the autoject does the work for me.

I had a decent injection last night, but I still got scared and snappy with my boyfriend before it because of the fear of the previous botched injections. He helped me administer this one on the back of my arm.  It’s a matter of keeping my hands steady through the fear in anticipation of the pain, which is still very annoying for several hours even when the injection is done properly.  “Stop shaking and just pull the trigger!!”  I yell at myself.

I don’t feel like what I’m called.  Brave and strong.  More often than not, I am just fighting another battle because that’s just what I have to do.  And I’m scared even when I stay focused on the positive.  It’s scary.  I’m angry.  And I’m tired.

I’m fatigued from fighting fatigue.  I work hard making time to eat clean and exercise every single day.  I’m afraid to slow down because I’m afraid I won’t be able to start again if I stop.  Sure my lifestyle fights fatigue, and it does work!  I do sacrifice sleep and a social life to fit it all in.  That’s okay though.  My main focus is to get well and stay well.  If I’m not well, what’s the point?

Raw Vegan Day 25 – Fueling Recovery

In order to trigger the body’s natural healing responses, proper fuel is important.  Most of the pictures below are made with organic ingredients.  Below are my creations and experiments.

Simple Salad – arugula and kale with pomegranate, persimmon, and banana.

Fruit Plate – 1 fuji apple, 1 green apple, 1 pear, and 1 carton of strawberries.

Sweet Tomatoes (restaurant) buffet.  Eating out.

Fruit Plate – 1 cantaloupe and 2 persimmons.

Mega Salad – 1 large bowl of kale and bok choy with an apple and strawberries.  It was topped with a zucchini avocado dressing.

Lunch Medley – Left bowl – kale, zucchini, and a fresh herb and brazil nut cream.   Right bowl – bok choy soup.  Fruit Plate – 4 cut oranges.

Veggie Plate – 1 red bell pepper, 3 roma tomatoes, 1 zucchini, 1 eggplant, and 1 avocado.

Fruit Plate – 2 persimmons, 2 bananas, and 3 kiwis.

Soup Bowl – Bok choy, kelp noodle, red and orange banana peppers, and mushroom soup.

Chili – sun dried tomatoes blended with roma tomatoes and spices mixed with diced rainbow bell pepper medley, avocado, and purple onions.  Recipe inspired by Fully Raw Kristina.

Fruit Plate – 2 oranges, 2 bananas, 1 pear, 1 green apple, 1 fuji apple, a carton of raspberries, 1 persimmon, and 8 figs.

Okra and tomatoes.

Fruit Salad – Pineapple, tomatoes, and kale with jicama and blackberries.  I drizzled tomato macadamia cream and cucumber avocado dressing.

Kale Boats – see next picture.

Kale Boat assembly ingredients – kale, banana, cucumber, bell peppers, banana peppers, raspberries, blackberries, and top with a tomato macadamia nut drizzle.

Mega Salad – Spring salad mix, 2 spiralized cucumbers, fresh corn, pomegranate, and the sauce is roma tomatoes, avocado, orange, dates, celery, orange and purple carrot, green onion, turmeric (both the root and the powder), curry, cumin, cayenne, and raw tahini.  Inspired by Fully Raw Kristina’s Curry Noodles.

Fruit Plate – simply oranges.

Mega Salad – Spring salad mix, cucumber noodles, corn, tomatoes, green onions, banana peppers, and pink beet sauce has 2 beets, celery, cashews, green onions, and eggplant.

Fruit Salad – Honeydew and cucumber with bell pepper strips.

Mega Salad (in parts) – Bowl of spinach, 2 yellow squash spiralized, and pink sauce made with tomato, beet, green onion, cashews, cold pressed flaxseed oil, and a dash of apple cider vinegar.

Fruit Plate – 1 dragon fruit, black grapes, and 2 bananas.

Fruit Plate – 1 tomato, 1 avocado, and 1 small cantaloupe.

Veggie Plate – Purple, yellow, and red bell peppers, cucumbers, and fresh fava beans.

Fruit Plate – 1 dragon fruit and 2 passion fruit.

Fruit Plate – 1 mango, 1 banana, and 4 kiwis.

Simple Salad – Spring mix with sprouts.

Fruit – 1 carton of strawberries and 5 bananas.

Veggie Plate – Beets, radishes, yellow squash, celery, carrots, and tomatoes.

Salad Plate – 1 bundle of spinach, 1 carton of baby heirloom tomatoes, 1 red bell pepper, and 1 green bell pepper.

Fruit Plate – 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, 1 blood orange, aloe, and mystery herb.

Fruit Plate – 2 bananas, 3 carrots, 2 oranges, 1 apple.

Green Seed Vegan (restaurant) – two orders of raw tacos surrounding a raw nacho salad.  Eating out.

Simple Salad – cucumber noodles to be topped with a roma tomato sauce.

Fruit plate – 1 pomegranate, 2 oranges, and 1 squash.  Salad – kale, 1 red bell pepper, 1 persimmon, and 1 avocado with squeezed lemon.

Fruit Plate – 2 bananas, 1 apple, and 1 orange.

Fruit Plate – 1 small cantaloupe and 3 kiwis.

Fruit Plate – 1 pomegranate and 2 oranges.  Salad – 2 roma tomatoes, 1 zucchini, and 1 red bell pepper.  Soup – bok choy soup.

Alfredo Noodles – see next picture.

Alfredo Noodles ingredients – zucchini noodles, raw corn, and creamy acorn squash dressing – 1 acorn squash (skin and seeds also) into the blender with a handful of cashews, 2 dates, and a little onion, garlic, and cayenne powder.

Fruit Plate – Grapes.  Salad – Pineapple, tomato, jicama, bell pepper, cucumber and kale.

Fruit Plate – 1 carton of strawberries, 2 oranges, and 1 pear.

Simple Salad – sweet pea shoots, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and lemon.