Monday, August 27, 2012

Part 1: I THINK I Can

Through my own health journey I have gathered many role models to support me toward success such as raw vegan Annette Larkins, raw vegan business mogul and former model Karyn Calabrese, raw vegan fitness model Koya Webb and bodybuilder Ernestine Shepherd. These women mean so much to me they have propelled me even further on my path toward health.  

Part 1

 The Black Girls Run Conference and Race is the event of the year for me. With my busy work schedule and little time for travel I rarely get the chance to go anywhere. I recently subscribed to Black Girls Run newsletter a few months ago as a source of motivation and inspiration to continue with my running in the midst of my busy life.

Early this month I received their newsletter which showcased a Conference and 5k/10k Race they'd be hosting in the coming month. I was excited to see how they had grown from a blog to a big event planning extraordinaire.

Annette Larkins

As I scroll down and  continue to read the newsletter, my favorite picture of Ernestine Shepherd is there, she is listed as one of BGR's guest speakers. My heart flutters as I imagine the chance to meet one of my role models should I attend. I then begin to think of the money it would cost, trying to get the time off from work and soon I the idea of attending appears unfeasible.

Ernestine Shepherd

They say curiosity killed the cat, well I "meowed" on further into the newsletter hoping to see what attendees would experience at the conference I couldn't attend. The more I read the more I became excited. I read the conference topics and the weekend itinerary. The more I read the more I seen my name spelled out. This was an event made especially for me- how could I not go? 

As I read the names of the speakers quickly, I said aloud to myself: if Koya Webb were one of the speakers I have to go hands down. I continue to scroll down the list of speakers and there it was, Koya Webbs name. Two of my role models in one weekend. WOW!!!

My first reaction was fear and excitement, fear of not having enough money or time to go, yet excitement because I knew this conference was made for me.  Hesitantly, I began looking on every travel site for hotel and flight deals. The next thing I did was truly divine.

Karyns Calabrese
I am a more than occasional meditator and I am true believer that our thoughts create our reality. I knew as long as I allowed fear to exist within my desire to go this conference the less likely I'd go. I would talk my way into believing I couldn't afford it or that my job wouldn't give me the time off. I would allow these thoughts to take over and I wouldn't even attempt to try to go.

So, I decided fear would not make decisions for me.

I found a quiet place to sit in my small apartment. I closed my eyes and visualized myself getting the time off to go, I seen money appear for my trip,  I seen myself packing my bags, buying my flight, getting on the plane and landing. I heard my self talk to the taxi driver and doorman of the hotel. I seen the room I stayed in-I felt the plushness of the pillows- I opened the curtains wide and took in the beautiful view of the city. I seen myself mingling with other women who value health and fitness. I watched new friendships form. I felt alive, humbled, overjoyed, and grateful for the experience. I seen myself return home refreshed, renewed and full of new ideas to improve my own health and fitness. I seen myself happy, at peace, and worthy of all things wonderful.

I awoke from this visualization with watery eyes, tears of joy for I knew I had to make this trip happen for me. After 2.5 years of teaching full-time and working another part-time job I had little energy, time, and money to do anything. I hadn't traveled, I was often tired, I had gained weight, and I wasn't operating from my highest self.

Koya Webb
That day I went to work to see if I could get the day off, ironically no one else had requested those days off.  I got the time off. Next, I went home to order my flight and hotel and I found a great deal. I told a few friends and family about my desire to attend the conference and a few of them insisted on donating some funds toward my trip.

I am EXCITED to say: I AM GOING to the Black Girls Run Conference and Race and I am glad that I did not let fear push me away from an experience that I know will fulfill me.

These events are a true testament that when you follow your heart all else will follow. Martin Luther King Jr. said if you can see, conceive, and believe it you can achieve it. 

Stay Tuned for Part 2: I Achieved It: BGR Conference and Race Weekend

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Encuentro Cafe and Wine Bar: Raw Vegan Dinner

Whoever said vegans have no fun- didn't have me in mind.

 I have fun daily preparing my meals in my kitchen and eating out at least 2x a week with friends. Last week I ate at a fairly new Downtown Oakland Vegetarian/Vegan and raw vegan friendly Cafe and Wine Bar named Encuentro. There were many fresh options on the menu ALL vegetarian with a vegan option. Although, I didn't leave fully satisfied my salad was very tasty and pleasing to the eye.

Watermelon Salad
Raw Strawberry Cheesecake

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dr. Gabriel Cousens Visits the Bay

My Vegan Supplements and Vitamins

On a daily I wash my system with green juices, green leafy veggies, wheat grass, and several servings of fruit and veggies along with complete vegan proteins and healthy fats. So, if you ask me I think my diet supplies me with ALLLLL of the nutrients I need. However, I do know there are a few things that could be supplemented to ensure this to be fact. 

      Below are the supplements I take along with the benefits they provide. I always buy them vegan and if I ever question their integrity I read the back for clue words to reveal otherwise. Clue words to look out for: gelatin, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish.....etc...(sounds odd but these items can sometimes be in your capsules) 

B12:  Is needed for formation of blood cells, it prevents anemia, aids in DNA synthesis, and it helps break down fats and proteins.

Calcium-Magnesium: This double threat supplement helps balance each other in the body. The individual benefits are sustained by the other supplements support to absorb properly in the body. Calcium: builds and maintains bones and teeth, regulates heartbeat, sleep patterns, and nutrient passage. Magnesium: is a mineral that regulates normal heart rhythm, converts blood sugar into energy, and metabolizes calcium properly.

Probiotics: Known as “friendly bacteria” helps to restore symbiosis (balance) between the harmful bacteria and good bacteria in the stomach. It supports the immune system and protects against yeast build up in the body.

Digestive enzymes: This is absolutely necessary if you eat cooked food which is enzyme-less. These supplements properly digest all foods breaking the nutrients down into a form that can pass through the intestine wall and into the bloodstream.

D3: Protects from cancer, enhances immune function by fighting off infectious diseases, and improves cardiovascular health. 

Daily Multivitamin: just to be sure : )

In addition, to these I also add supplements to my smoothies. These include:

Chia seeds: High in fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids 

Maca Powder: Peruvian root that helps balance hormones and caffeine free energy 

Aloe Vera Juice: Supports digestion, relieves aches and pains 

Vega Protein powder: 15g non-dairy protein 

Chlorophyll (add to water): Gives oxygen to cells, supports immune function, contains magnesium

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Flacos Vegan Tacos

Flacos Vegan Taco and Tequito 

I am not a fan of faux meat or soy products however, I made an exception for Flacos Vegan Restaurant in Berkeley, CA. My goal is try every vegan eatery in my surrounding area, this goal led me to Flacos where the service was warm, prices good, and the food very tasty. I also, had a vegan horchata made from rice milk it was delicious. (Sorry, no picture for it.) Check them out if you're ever in town.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Vegan Meal Plan

Vegan Food Pyramid

I’d like to think I’m a fairly organized person- I organize my days, my to-do list, sometimes my house- but always my meals. Meal planning keeps my lifestyle stress free as I balance work, exercise, and a social life. When I plan my meals out I am rarely hungry, meals are simple and easier to prepare, and it leaves less room to eat foods I do not consider desirable. 

There are a few steps I follow to keep meal planning and preparing simple. First, I create a weekly meal plan every Sunday next, I create a grocery list, then I purchase my groceries, and finally I prepare and store my meals for the week.

I do not shop without my list and I try not to deviate from it. I do allow myself one extra thing not on the list for fun this structure supports my finances and my diet. I strive to purchase only whole foods, unproccessed, unpackaged, and  uncanned. Although, sometimes I do buy frozen berries for smoothies. When I create my meal plans I always  take into account my activity level. I run between 25-35 miles a week in addition to 3-4 weight training sessions a week. With that in mind I need enough oxygen giving foods from green leafy vegetables, protein from nuts, seeds, beans, and quinoa, healthy fats from avocado and coconut oil and lots of water from fruits, veggies, and by the glass of course.

In a nutshell:
  1. Create a meal plan on Sunday
  2. Make grocery list
  3. Purchase groceries
  4. Prepare meals for the week
  5. Store them in glass containers or plastic bags in fridge

My Sweet tooth is slowly fading away!

A sample meal plan for me looks like this:
Days 1,3,5 (Very active days)
Monday, Wednesday, Friday total: 1,823 Calories

Meal 1
Meal 2
Meal 3
Meal 4
Meal 5
Meal 6
Hot water w/ lemon
Glutamine, Probitotic
Green Smoothie: Spinach, strawberries, blueberries, banana, coconut water, aloe vera juice, maca powder, chia seeds
+ Multivitamin
300 calories
4 Collards
Wraps w/ hummus, sprouts, celery, cucumber, tomato, red pepper
+ Digestive Enzyme

275 calories
Big Fat Salad: Kale, spinach, tomato, sprouts, cucumber, avocado, red pepper, seeds, tahini dressing
260 calories
Peanut Butter and Banana
305 calories
Kale, quinoa, black beans, sweet potato
+ all supplements
470 calories
Banana, almond milk Vega Protein powder smoothie
213 calories

You notice there aren’t any sweets on this meal plan aside from fruit. My sweet tooth is slowly fading away. I used to crave cookies, pies, and ice cream. Now, I reach for a banana, a handful of grapes, or a few dates. AND when these aren’t enough (which sometimes they’re not during certain times of the month) I reach for 80% dark chocolate or raw coconut ice cream.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Green Juice gets Swag

Vegan Kitchen Staples

In order to support my lifestyle I keep my kitchen stocked with various vegan staples. Although, there are times when I go through phases  when I love one fruit for breakfast for the whole week or I may opt to use a certain seasonal veggie in every meal  until it disappears. Putting these instances aside. There are certain foods that will always have a place in my kitchen solely due to their nutritional value. 

But, please believe there was once a time I reached for food based on how good it tasted or how inexpensive it appeared. Yet, now I have learned to eat food for their nutrient density rather than the taste density. I quickly realized I could have the best of both worlds: great tasting food with high nutritional value- which ends up being cheaper in the long run as I preserve my health and prevent illness. 

In America, our food labels compute our food into calories. However, in Europe their food labels compute food into energy. Taking this fact into account I ask myself which foods give me more energy: live fruits, veggies, seeds, and nuts or processed and chemical filled breads, dairy, meat, and sugars? Live vegan food always wins. 

 Which foods give me more energy?

 Live vegan foods require less from our bodies. These foods often take less than 1 hour to exit the body and they place little pressure on the digestive system. In, addition these foods are cleansing, as they provide nutrients that aid in washing away toxins. Below is a list of life giving foods I always have in my kitchen:

  • Organic fuji apples
  • Organic Strawberries
  • Organic blueberries 
  • Bananas
  • Kale
  • Collards        
  • Spinach     
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Sprouts
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Dulse
  • Avocado
  • Red bell pepper
  • Lemons
  • Dates
  • Sprouted almonds
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut water
  • Raw peanut butter
  • Himalayan salt 
  • Chia seeds

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sugar Plum Vegan's: Kale Tacos

Vegan Kale Taco

Whenever I travel I try to hit up the vegan spots in the area. This Oh So Yummy!!! taco came from Sugar Plum Vegan in Downtown Sacramento, CA. I would totally recommend this place for its yummy baked goods, lunch entrees, and even for catering. I provided their link below.

Cafe Gratitude's: Raw Vegan Lunch

2 oz Wheat Grass Shot

I am Grace Drink and I am Fulfilled Salad

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake


Wheat Grass: Full of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and phosphates. 

I Am Fulfilled Salad: Cafe salad with mixed greens, carrots, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, sprouts, Brazil nut Parmesan and teriyaki almonds, tahini-garlic dressing

I Am Grace: Young coconut milk, almond butter, date and vanilla bean smoothie.

I Am Still Looking: for the Raw Raspberry Cheesecake ingredients. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Myth Buster: Vegan Vs. Curves

Just when I thought I’d heard all the myths of being a vegan or a raw vegan at that- a new myth was presented to me last week.

While many of us vegans encounter the infamous question: Where do you get your protein? along with the: Is that healthy? Are you getting enough nutrients? You can’t possibly have a lot of energy- (I never know if this one is a question or a statement).

All of these are often backed by myths and latent false information. The raw truth is vegans get more than enough protein from green leafy veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds. In addition, the nutrients from fruit and veggies are so dense that our bodies consistently feel satisfied, healthy, and clean. Also, we tend have extreme amounts of energy because the body isn’t spending its time digesting heavy foods. 
With that said, the one question I have never been asked before happened just last week on an overcast morning in the produce section of the health food store.

There I was with a cart full of fresh fruits and veggies, humming and singing as I do in my own world.  I was stopped by a woman who asked me: “how do plan to maintain those curves with all that rabbit food?”  I paused looked behind and around me, just to be sure she was talking to me. There was no one else around and surely enough she was talking to me.

So....I began searching through my brains rolodex of frequent responses to frequently asked questions......hmmmm...... only to come up blank.

I replied by saying: Well, I have been a vegetarian for almost a decade and I just recently became Vegan. I feel healthy, energetic, and dis-ease free. I slimmed out some but it was the part of me that was no longer serving me it was weighing me down and some of it was just pure waste. Sorry, if that’s T.M.I. (I realize I didn’t directly answer her question)

Yet, I also came to realize that food is a very intimate and sometimes sacred thing for people- it’s attached to memory, emotions, tradition, culture and even body image.

When we think of athletes or bodybuilders we initially think of the various amounts of meat protein, eggs, and carbs they must intake to maintain their physique. Yet, with my own eyes I have seen many great athletes and bodybuilders who eat solely fruits and veggies. For instance: Robert Cheeke, Koya Webb, and Tim Van Orden just to name a few.

Similarly, there are many curvaceous vegan/raw vegans out there. The vegan/raw vegan lifestyle is not meant to deprive us rather it is an avenue that supports the bodies journey toward optimum health; and with optimum health we are that much closer to reaching our full potential in life. From my own experience I've noticed my energy has freed up, I feel more nourished, satisfied, and I appreciate everything in my life more. The people around me, nature, animals, and even my jobs.

Overall, I am ok losing a few extra pounds in exchange for my health. Besides, I would rather attract people with my glow, my positivity, and boundless energy rather than my curves.

Just to keep you in the loop...

The conversation in the grocery store ended like this:

She responded: I just don’t see how a person could stay curvy eating all those veggies I need some meat and bread or something. I have to look good.

I asked her: Which foods do you think would be best support your life? Fresh foods or dead processed foods?

She paused and said: The fresh foods of course. They always make me feel good at least.

We exchanged information and parted ways both saying: and if you feel good, you’ll look good.

A Vegan w/ Curves- Yes It's all Fruit and Veggies

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Silent Intimacy of Farmers Markets

Fresh Basil and My Mom

Greens  Galore

So many Options

The big hole we left after our purchase 

Fresh Garlic Yumm!!!
At the Downtown Farmers Market with my mom. Oh! how I love greens...I was practicing how I'd walk down the aisle with them. Here comes the bride....; )

 There is a silent intimacy about farmers markets, for they allow us to connect with our food in a way that this modern 21st Century society is slowly taking away from us with the various options of convenience.

 Farmer markets as many know, is a great way to support local organic farmers and as consumners we are able to see where and from whom our food comes from. They aid in building community with both farmers and folks in our neighborhood. They also help unveil the true nature of food which is often lost in processing, packaging, canning, and freezing.

Visiting farmers markets is a very humanizing and personal experience for me. Here, I am able to meet the person handling my food, I know the farm it came from, I meet wonderful people there, and I go home with fresh organic produce that sustains me.

Farmers Markets = Great deals.Great people. Great food.

Ann Wigmore Energy Soup Recipe

Greetings All,

Today, I will be sharing Dr. Ann Wigmore’s Energy Soup recipe. Dr. Ann Wigmore was the first pioneer in the use of wheat grass and raw living foods for healing and detoxifying the body. She has written and contributed to many books, she has her own Wellness institute in Puertico Rico and has taught many of the Holistic Health Educators we know of today.

Energy Soup was designed to support people in the detoxing process and was known for helping cure salt and sugar cravings, fatigue, skin conditions, auto-immune dieases, and cancer.

There are many variations to this recipe depending on your taste buds.  Feel free to experiment. Today I will provide you with the base ingredients:

1 Apple or Banana
1 Avocado
2  cups  of Greens ( your choice Spinach, Kale, Collards, etc)
1 cup Sprouts of choice ( I use broccoli)
2 tbsp Dulse
1 ½  cups Rejuvalac

Eat what you can and store the rest in an air tight container in the firdge. If it’s too salty use less dulse and vice versa, if it’s too bitter add more banana. Enjoy!

Juicy Gratitude

I have been juice cleansing for 8 days now, two more days to go. I feel good, I have a lot of energy and I am enjoying the taste of my new daily concoctions. Another aspect of this cleanse I am thoroughly enjoying is the overwhelming sense of reflection and gratitude I have. It seems not worrying about what to eat next or being bogged down by a full and heavy stomach has allowed my body and spirit energy to focus on other important things in my life. I find myself listing all that I am grateful for.

For instance some of the wonderful things I am grateful for today are: my Orchid which has finally re-blossomed after a year, the abundance of fresh produce in my fridge, access to clean running water, the fresh jasmine that grows near my home, my bodies ability to move freely and effortlessly, and a warm cup of spice tea.

These things may seem super corny to you- which is fine - I am known to be a corn-ball. I realize that I sometimes take these pleasures for granted as though they should always just be this way. Unfortunately, the fact is I have friends in Burkina Faso who are without a home, running water, or food. There are people in my neighborhood who cannot afford fresh produce and are glad just to have one meal. I met a little girl who had never seen flowers before and thought them to be only in story books.

It is not merely the possibility of lack thereof that makes me appreciate what I have so much (because I’d find something to be grateful for in any situation), but in truth I genuinely appreciate all of the good in my life and this cleanse has helped me to recognize these things even more.

I believe that our thoughts create our reality and we attract what we think about most. With that said, if I focus on all the good in my life then I will attract more goodness. However, the same is true the other way around. In an effort to continue  focusing on gratitude I created something special to support in this process.

Today I found one of my many blank journals and I decorated the cover with my favorite stickers and it has officially become my gratitude journal.  Now, even after this juice cleanse I will be tracking all of the wonderful things in my life (that I sometimes overlook).

My Gratitude Journal

An Average Day of Juice Cleansing

Greetings All,

Today is my 5th day of juice cleansing and I feel great. I have a lot energy, my skin is glowing, and I feel centered. I am not cleansing for the cosmetic benefit to merely to loose weight or look HOTT for summer. Rather, my goal is to give my body a rest and allow it to cleanse itself naturally.

Our bodies are constantly working and therefore in need of rest. However, our digestive system is not always afforded this luxury. Many believe it is our intestines that determine how healthy we are. If this is the case we must know it is the food we eat that determines the health of our intestines. Dr. Arnold Ehert states that the average human is holding 10 pounds of waste or more. He stresses the neccessity of cleansing the body regularly to rid it of toxins, carcinogens, chemicals, and old built up food from past years.

The first 3-5 days of any cleanse, especially on cleanses that eliminate solid food longer than 5 days will the shock the body and sometimes create withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal happens on a large scale for people who eat a diet which contains a lot of dairy, meat, sugary, salty, and processed foods. Withdrawal symptoms include headache, dizziness, severe cravings, and mood swings. These symptoms sound like a bonafide addict right? In many ways this is the case because many are using food as prescriptions for healing pain, heartbreak, insecurity, loss, and the list goes on. Food thereby is no longer a tool for promoting nutrition and wellness rather it becomes a crippling aid in the physical, emotional, and mental health of the individual.

In addition, due to the fact that the human body stores 5 days of emergency food in the system, your body is under the impression it is in an emergency situation and will supply you stored nutrients for up to 5 days. The beauty of juice cleansing is you’re allowing your body to cleanse from the past while presently flushing it with large amounts of nutrients. Also, the cleansing process itself aids in the absorption of future nutrients that will enter the body.

Although, I haven’t been tracking my progress on this blog I woke up thinking I should share my average Juice Cleanse Day with you. Here goes:

7 am
Hot water and 2 tbsp lemon juice 8 oz
8 am
Lemon, Carrot, Apple, ginger, beet 10 oz
10 am
Tomato, Radish, lemon juice 10 oz
12 pm
Fennel, Carrot, Celery, lemon juice 10 oz
2 pm
Kale, banana, rejuvalec  juice/smootie 32 oz
4 pm
Decaf herbal tea: Peppermint or Bengal Spice
5 pm
Celery, Apple, ginger juice 10 oz
7 pm
Ann Wigmore Energy Soup (recipe)
Nectarine and strawberry juice 10 oz
9 pm
Decaf herbal tea: Peppermint or Bengal Spice

I also drink 8-10 cups of water in between my juices meals. I always end up feeling very full by 7pm and then by 9pm I feel a little hungry and a warm cup of tea fulfills the craving perfectly. I usually jog 3 miles at 7:30 in the morning and I have more than enough energy to push me through.  On days I feel slower I take it slower. I listen to my body. Listening is key.

I hope you enjoyed this post, please leave any positive and uplifting comments and/or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you.