Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

The Vegan Movement is Hot, Hot, Hot..Jump on board!

It seems everywhere I turn these days that Veganism is being touted by celebs, firefighters, triathletes, scientists and more. There are books flying off the shelves about how to eat more of a plant-based diet and how to live longer, lower you cholesterol, get off drugs and be the healthiest you can be by doing so. You know what I say??? Halleluah! It’s about time…And this is not only because I am a Vegan chef and believe in eating clean, but because of the amazing opportunity for America and many other countries to live longer, healthier and happier lives, not to mention saving our dear animal friends.

This is truly a very important time in history where we can turn our obese, fat-ridden, cholesterol ridden, heart-disease ridden society around and really make a difference with our health and the planet. And, I’m sure it’s no secret anymore that the animal/meat/dairy industry is responsible for the most pollution on the earth right now, not to mention the unethical treatment that happens to our fellow animal friends. If you haven’t read the chapter on meat in Rory Freedman’s, “Skinny Bitch” book, I highly recommend it. I don’t have to give you all the statistics. You can pretty much look anywhere on the internet and find that grim and sobering information.

So on a lighter note, I want to share a glimpse of my day today and how this all ties in together.
I had such a synergistic and life-changing experience. I went to meet a dear friend and fellow vegan (BTW, we were friends before I knew she was a vegan) at a tea house today in Hollywood, calledT Salon. I rolled up upon this amazing new tea house when I was on my way to an event and trepsing through Hollywood looking for a parking spot, which all of us So-Cal residents know is not easy to do. I was so ecstatic when I saw that this beautifully painted tea house with it’s smart and simple stainless sign, had opened up right next to one of my favorite Veg restaurants, M Cafe. I had visited this same tea house in NYC many years back and LOVED IT! And now, here it is right in my very own town!

Anyway, to get back to the synergistic part of the story, I recommended to my friend that we meet at this funky, cool, new spot because they have vegan food, desserts and amazing tea. 250 different types of tea to be exact. I arrived a bit early and ordered my tea while I talked to the lovely woman at the register who took my order. This woman is so friendly and lively and shows interest in other people’s lives, and I mean GENUINE interest. Not the usual half-assed, laxadasical customer service you get here in LA, but true and heartfelt. The reason I know this is because I told with her that I was a Vegan chef, after she asked and then she proceeded to ask me many more questions about my business and what I do. I talked to her about the many vegan desserts they offer there at the tea house, that all look amazing, but in my book, are not the healthiest because even though they are vegan, they are still made with white flour and white sugar. Yes, you can be vegan and still be somewhat unhealthy, but I’ll save that for another blog post. After our conversation, she prompted that I should meet the owner of the tea house and drop off some of my very own gluten free, refined sugar free goodies for the Salon to try and possibly sell. I told her I would be honored and I went about my business of catching up with my friend and sipping some delicious Dark Roast Yerba Mate tea with almond milk and a bit of Agave nectar.

Ten minutes later, the friendly T salon lady introduced me to another fellow vegan customer in the Salon who happened to be a writer for the Huffington Post. We shared our stories about becoming Vegans and how it has changed our lives and how amazing we feel. Ms. Huffington post told me she has only been Vegan for 5 months after partaking in a cleanse and decided she felt better off the meat, than on it. She also expressed that she hasn’t told her father and that in her culture, it’s taboo NOT to eat meat and she was fearful of her father’s reaction, even though she is doing something good for herself and the planet. Kind of ironic isn’t it??

Shortly after that, Ms T Salon came back to our table and handed me the phone saying she was talking to the owner of the Tea house and she wanted to talk to me about making Vegan desserts and soups for their lovely tea house. I was ecstatic. I set up a time to bring in some samples of my healthy fare and felt blessed for being in the “right” place at the “right” time.

Afterward, again, my dear friend and I went about our business talking about how ecstatic we are to live in LA, own our own businesses and are able to spend a Friday morning sipping tea and meeting fellow vegans, randomly.

Another 10 minutes passes and Ms T Salon brings a gentleman over to meet us, who is, guess what? a fellow vegan. I know at this point you might think I was getting annoyed, but to me it was a sign that we all attract who we are, what we do and how we act, so I went with the flow and knew that these people were in front of me out of divine guidance. We chatted up with the gentleman and I asked him if he knew some of the other vegans in our circle and he did. He looked familiar to me and I realized that I had seen his photo on Facebook, as he is a friend of one of my friends, who is an amazing Macrobiotic Chef here in LA as well, Christy Morgan, The Blissful Chef. 

The point of this story is that, not only is Veganism becoming more recognized in the public eye, I mean even Oprah recently had book author, Michael Pollan on her show (Ominvore’s Dilemma & In Defense of Food) along with Vegan Celeb, Alicia Silverstone, whose new book “the Kind Diet” is all the rage these days, but there is a whole community available to us in this day and age to change the way we eat, get healthier and change the state of the planet.

Will Tuttle, former monk and long-time Vegan’s book, The World Peace Diet touts that we have been disconnected from our food since we were children and we never really understood how the meat we eat got from farm to our plate and what happens in between. As children, we weren’t really given the choice, we just had hot dogs cut up and thrown on our high-chair trays without even KNOWING what we were eating. Again, I don’t need to share all the gory details, and unless you have your head buried in the sand, I’m sure you have heard faint whisperings of the unethical treatment of animals and how the meat industry pollutes our earth and the consumption of meat and dairy can cause all kinds of dis-ease in the body.

Yes, I know, you think I am preaching…well, maybe I am. But the bottom line is that now is the time for us to wake up! Now is the time to take charge of our health. Things are changing, but WE – YOU need to be a part of that change. It’s not enough to sit back anymore and pretend we don’t know what’s happening to these animals and the damage that is being done to the earth, on top of what damage we do to ourselves and our health.

If we continue to go the way we are going, our life span is going to get shorter, not longer. Studies are now showing that with the obesity epidemic rising the way it is, that we are going to die much sooner than we think, not to mention what is happening to the planet with all the pollution from the meat industry.

Who really thinks that all this natural disaster is just Mother Nature doing her thing? Or does anyone think that the HUMAN RACE has anything to do with it??? Hmm…I wonder.

So, what will you do to make a difference? Give up meat 1 day a week..or maybe two? Check out Meatless Mondays. Fill your plate with 80% veggies instead of 80% meat ad 20% veggies?? What will you do? Or will you just sit back and hope it gets better??? And if you are one of those people who think you need Animal protein to build muscle, get energy and stay alive, I highly suggest you read T. Colin Campbell’s latest book, The China Study or Vegan Triathlete,Brendan Brazier’s book, Thrive. You might just change the way you think..and that’s a start!

ONE CLEANSERS JOURNEY TO A HUGE LIFESTYLE CHANGE AND A BETTER LIFE!

A few people have asked me to write about my experience with Missy Costello’s 30 day cleanse and even though I am not technically done with the cleanse until Feb 2nd, I thought I would share my thoughts now. I am pretty much on autopilot and short of someone tackling me and shoving a Snickers bar in my mouth, I will finish the next 5 days with no cheats. (Brian don’t get any ideas, I am pretty sure I can out run you since doing Insanity).

One of the first questions people asked me is why? Why would I subject myself to 30 days with no alcohol, sugar, caffeine, animal products (including, fish, eggs, dairy) and gluten. Well contrary to what some believe, I didn’t do it to lose weight. Actually, I remained very cognizant of my daily food intake to prevent weight loss since I am on the lean side right now. There were however, others in our group, which consisted of about 20 people, who wanted to and have lost weight. I chose to do this for a few reasons. First of all, I have wanted to get off coffee for a while. I have been been a two, sometimes three cupper a day for the past 20 years and have tried to eliminate it before. With the exception of my 3 pregnancies, I have been unsuccessful. Second of all, I also was getting a little too attached to my Clif bars. Since I spend a lot of time taxiing my kids around town, I had gotten into this rut of grabbing a bar (or two) on my way out the door. Add a protein shake in there, and I realized that I was eating 2 bars and a shake a day and not enough whole foods. When I did eat “real food”, I made good choices (or so I thought) but I was getting lazy and turning to more convenience foods that weren’t the best choices.

So when my good friend Kit told me she was doing this cleanse, I figured this was my chance to try to be successful. I had someone to suffer through this process with. I spend a lot of time working on the outside of my body, it was time to take care of the inside. Oh, another big reason I decided to do this was really to see if I could – I love a good challenge!!

I won’t lie to you, the first 5-6 days were HORRIBLE! Because I also used Splenda in my coffee, when I gave up both cold turkey, I had a splitting headache for 6 days and was very lethargic. Around 4 pm every day I would start counting the hours until I could go to bed. In the past, that would have been enough for me to throw in the towel but I approached it like I approached my first round of P90X – one day at a time. One day turned into two, then three and FINALLY by day seven, I started to feel like myself again. Not only that, I was starting to get more energy in the morning. I was waking up before my alarm and by the time I put my feet on the floor, I was wide awake and ready to hit the ground running. No more standing in front of the coffee maker, patiently drumming my fingers saying……”hurry up already”.

As for the food, this was a challenge mainly because I am a remedial cook at best. I don’t really enjoy cooking either but I knew I had to cook because otherwise I would not eat. We weren’t allowed ANY processed food with the exception of an occasional Larabar but they had 18 grams of sugar (from dates) and we were trying to keep the sugar intake below 5 grams. I saved them for my big big cravings and when I traveled to Philly.

So once again, I approached it like I approach my fitness. I planned out all my meals for the entire week and made big batches of food that I could easily heat up or grab and eat in the car. After about 10 days, any cravings for sugar completely disappeared and for me, getting off of sugar was much easier than coffee. I made and tried a lot of foods I had only heard about before and spent time in aisles at Whole Foods I had never ventured into. It was quite an experience watching me shop there. Sometimes, I wasn’t even sure I was pronouncing the food correctly and a couple of times, when the very helpful associates pointed me in the right direction, I actually looked at the food and said “really?”. I think the big test for me was day 11 when my daughter asked if I would make her chocolate chip cookies, which are my biggest downfall. In the past, I would easily pop a few spoonfuls of cookie dough in my mouth while baking but I wasn’t even remotely tempted.

The key to my success here was support. I got it from many angles. My husband and children fully supported my efforts. There were also 19 others doing this with me. We had an email thread and everyone was sharing successes, struggles and recipes galore. I always tell people the reason I was so successful with P90X was due to the message boards. This felt very much the same. I especially am thankful for the support of my friend Kit Horton Caldicott. There were days at the beginning where we were emailing each other 5 times a day and I know that a few times both of us may have slipped had it not been for a two sentence encouraging text or email from each other.

I feel amazing on this cleanse. I have more energy, sleep better, I have less bloating (and all things relating to that), clearer sinuses and skin. I usually get bad eczema on my arms in the winter but so far nothing. Someone in my spin class told me my eyes seemed brighter. Not sure what that means, but heck I’ll take it!!!

One of the best lessons I have learned is that when you are out to eat and want your food cooked a certain way, you simply need to ask. When we were in Philly, I was with 4 of the healthiest eaters I know and we hardly ever ordered something directly off the menu (and it only took California Pizza Kitchen two tries to get Mark Brigg’s lunch correct – lol!). Sunday night I went to a 40th birthday dinner at a Country Club and I knew they had a pre-ordered meal so I called the host and asked if they could just give me a salad loaded with grilled veggies. The chef got on the phone with my friend and he was so accommodating. I won’t be “afraid” to ask for what I want again.

Another question I often get is what about your family. Even though, my family didn’t eat what I was eating, they definitely ate more veggies and fruits over the last month. I tried to incorporate my diet with theirs as much as I could. My daughter actually said my cooking has gotten better which isn’t saying much but it’s a start. I am hoping to incorporate more of the many awesome recipes we got into the family meals. I will not force it on them but plan on taking baby steps to get them to eat more whole foods as well.

So what happens on day 31. Well I know I will not go back to coffee, except maybe an occasional decaf. I just don’t need it anymore and don’t want to go through that detox ever again. I also will not go back to dairy. I now use Almond milk in my shakes and oatmeal and really love the taste. Add a little Agave Nectar and you don’t even realize what your missing. I will probably add back fish and chicken as I do miss them but probably not red meat. I am not a drinker so alcohol is not really an issue but I will probably have an occasional drink when the need arises – 😉 That leaves gluten and sugar. I am going to do my best to keep those to a minimum. My cravings have all but disappeared and I feel so much better having not eaten them for the past month.

Is this or any cleanse for you? Well that’s a decision only you can make. I liked it because there were no pills or potions – just good clean food. I can’t tell you how many people say to me “I COULD NEVER EVER DO THAT”. I initially thought that as welll but once I committed to doing this, I surrounded myself with like-minded people, made a plan, used a journal to write down my food and just took it one day at a time. If you are struggling with your nutrition or feel like you need a jump start, I highly recommend cutting out some or all of the aforementioned foods and see how you feel.

I wasn’t striving for perfection, just progress. I walk away from this mentally stronger. I am really proud of myself for succeeding here. It wasn’t easy but it was so worth it. I am so glad I have created new eating habits and have gotten a great education on what eating healthy REALLY means. Thanks so much Missy! Your guidance through this month has kept us all motivated and focused. You ROCK!!

February 1st is in a few days – I can’t think of a better time to take on a new challenge. I teach a boot camp and am starting a 30 day nutritional and fitness challenge with them on that date. I know that this was a radical change in my diet but I needed that kind of shakeup, again sort of like starting P90X. I do think that even making some of these changes will drastically improve how you feel. If you want to make real change, you got to get into that uncomfortable zone. These past 30 days have definitely been that. My adviceis to find a buddy, make a plan, and get started. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Check out Missy’s website at www.karmachow.com. Check out some of her other guides (she blogs at HMHB), like her most recent on the best crib mattress.

For me, my next challenge will be to put on 10 lbs of muscle. I have the fitness programs and now the nutritional knowledge to make that happen. Game on people!!

In health and happiness,
Susan

December 15, 2009

Makeup & Wrinkle Cream or Eating Right?? Hmmm…

As a vegetarian personal chef, wellness coach and nutrition educator I get to witness many different levels of commitment from my clients and would-be clients, or just people in general. I hear all sorts of excuses and reasons why people can’t eat healthy or don’t want to change their lifestyle to feel better & live longer.

Here’s the thing: nutrition, wellness, eating right, being healthy..it all takes work, commitment and dedication. Some of us don’t have the dedication or WANT to commit to being healthy. We say we do, but when it comes down to it, we’d rather spend money on perfume or makeup or some new gadget then on good, nutritious, healthy whole food. Get your free credit report online to learn about and optimize your spending habits.

I cannot tell you how many times I hear the following complaint, “Eating healthy is too expensive”. To me, this phrase shows the level of commitment in another person. Eating healthy may be expensive, but that isn’t necessarily the case and it isn’t entirely true. It’s just an excuse.

Think about the money you spend on things that you think you need, that you really don’t that end up sitting on a shelf or spending their “life” stuffed away in a closet. If you are a woman, think about the endless buckets of cosmetics you buy that you never use because the color was wrong, or the consistency made you break out..or whatever. Or the shoes you buy, that you wear twice a year because they kill your feet. If you’re a man, think about the “fun, new” gadget that you HAD TO HAVE and thought you would use everyday, but sits in a corner collecting dust because you got bored with it or the next & better version came along.

Well, guess what??? All that money that goes toward the material things that we think we need or our ego wants, could all be used as an INVESTMENT in your health & your life! Why is it that we need to buy lipstick, makeup, perfume, gadgets to feel better, when all we have to do is eat right & exercise and then we will REALLY feel better…from the inside out!

Yes, I’ve heard the term “Whole Paycheck” when people refer the specialty market, Whole Foods, yet I really believe that people are not educated in ways to shop healthfully and inexpensively. I agree that when you get into the processed “healthier” foods that are offered at these specialty stores, that YES, it can get expensive. But if you have a PLAN and stick whole foods of grains, veggies, fruits, nuts & legumes, I guarantee you’ll spend less than $150 a week, depending on the size of your family and have a full weeks worth of meals to boot!

Learning how and where to shop for healthy foods is where it starts. Buyingseasonal, local produce is another factor. Visiting your neighborhoodfarmer’s markets or joining a CSA and having locally grown produce delivered to your doorstep can save you buckets of money. 

Being healthy is about being creative. It is a learned process like anything else in life. Do you think being unhealthy comes natural? NO! We learned it! It started at a very young age when we would belly up to the kitchen table before school and eat our LARGE bowl of Cocoa puffs or Lucky Charms with the big gallon of white paint (my favorite description of whole milk) next to us. I used to love those darned marshmallows. I think back to those days and I wonder how I ever made it to where I am now; a vegan, whole foods chef. I also remember always feeling like crap and being sick constantly. Falling asleep on my desk at school during 3rd period. Why? Because my body didn’t have the fuel it needed. I was living on processed sugars and simple carbs. I constantly had colds, strep throat, digestive issues and simply NO energy.

If this is how you want to live, then keep eating the processed, non-nutritive foods that are “cheap” so you can save a little bit of cash now, just to spend it down the line when your body is riddled with disease & discomfort from years of a processed, junky diet. Or keep buying that new shade of lipstick, or latest wrinkle cream to feel better, when all you have to do is EAT RIGHT! I promise that the better you eat, the YOUNGER you will look and you won’t need to adorn yourself with all the latest creams, colors and gadgets!

I know, we all work hard and deserve to treat ourselves to nice things. Trust me, I love to buy my favorite Rose Body Oil by Weleda, but the difference is that I make sure I spend my money wisely on my nutrition FIRST and foremost before anything else. I know that when I do that, I am making an INVESTMENT in my life to live longer, feel better and have more vitality. The end result? I rarely ever get sick, my digestion is in optimum working order, I have energy, my skin is clear, I am at my natural body weight and I don’t have to struggle with losing those extra pounds.

So, you get to make the decision? What will it be Aphrodite’s Pink Nightie Nail Polish by OPI, the latest and greatest $80 bottle of wrinkle cream or a healthy delicious meal like my Sweet Potato Tempeh Stew loaded with complex carbs, protein & fat all in one dish for a fraction of the cost?

Take charge of your health today. You are the ONLY ONE who can do it! Know your purpose and MAKE A PLAN!

August 17, 2009

Stepping into the Unknown – Day 13

Yesterday Daniel and I went to see the Time Traveler’s Wife. It’s one of my favorite books, so I knew I had to see the movie. Daniel so kindly obliged me. We really enjoyed the movie and it sparked a lot of emotion in us. If you don’t know the plot, the movie is based on a man who travels through time and how his time travel causes challenges in the day to day life of him & his wife. It was all about the unknown, but also the known, since he gets to go forward and see things in the future.

After the movie Daniel asked me if I could go back in time to my younger self and tell myself some really important things that I should know today, what would they be? It took me a while to come up with an answer, as I don’t feel that I have many regrets in my life and I didn’t want to change anything that would make me a different person today. I feel that regrets are a waste of energy and mind space, but the one strong thought that came to me was to tell myself not to be so afraid of the “Unknown”.

For so many years as I was growing into an adult I had so many fears about what lay ahead and NOT KNOWING what lay ahead. These fears stopped me from doing many things like traveling, visiting new places, seeing friends across the country, moving, quitting a job, etc, etc. I’m sure you get the picture. Over the years, I have learned to let go more and more and even though I still fear the unknown, I KNOW that I have to step into it every day. And when I do step into it, so many beautiful and wonderful events happen. I grow and change, I become a better person and I get to experience life instead of hiding from it! That’s how I came to move to California from good old Lawrenceville, New Jersey over 12 years ago. I was scared to death, but I knew from the tender age of 12 that I would one day live in California and enjoy the lifestyle that so many healthy Californians live. 

This cleanse has brought up a lot of “unknown” for me. Especially since I have suffered from an eating disorder off and on, which will always be looming in the lurches. It’s been laying dormant now for a while, but I know it’s there at any moment to bare it’s teeth whenever I am feeling low, lonely or stressed. Not being able to eat all the fresh fruit I want is challenging. Not being able to eat my staple Greens + bars is challenging. Not knowing how I am going to come off the cleanse is challenging. Will I overeat? Will I go crazy? All of these things are making me dig deep every day to find that place of safety within..to know I will be ok. I am stepping into the unknown every day, yet I also realize that we are ALL stepping into the Unknown every moment. We can make a plan and set goals, yes, but every moment is still unknown until you are in it. I love that Woody Allen saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”. Yet I also realize that I am the one creating my destiny and I get to choose. I get to choose the fear, the happiness, the pain, the love…all of it. I get to step into the unknown and create new moments for myself. I get to experience whatever happens in that moment, and if it’s hard or uncomfortable I get to stand front and center with ME and make a positive choice for myself.

So, what I am trying to say is I think that most of us are afraid of the unknown, but we can’t stop living because of this. We need to move forward and to have experiences that are rich and that make a difference. We need to take care of ourselves by eating healthy and exercising. We need to have a spiritual practice of some sort that will keep us grounded when we are floating. We need to have good friends, lots of love in our life and people who show up and support us!

Do you have those things? If not, are you willing to step into the unknown to find them???

Pensively yours,
The Ambivalent Cleanser!

Day 10 and Going Strong..well, Maybe!

Today is day 10 and I am feeling really good, albeit very tired. I haven’t been doing much exercise on this cleanse, and I know that’s not totally good, but my body is whooped. I get so tired just walking up a flight of stairs or cruising on the strand with Miss Sadie (my darling pit bull). There are a lot of toxins being released and a lots of little guys sweeping up inside, so I need to be gentle with myself. I know that I need to just take it easy and take it day by day. Maybe one day I will wake up with a boat-load of energy and go for a run!! wow, that would be a miracle!

It’s been a very mellow week for me work-wise, which has been quite a blessing. Summer is a little slow for Karma Chow due to so many of my clients traveling with their families. I am gearing up for September to kick in and to head back to Colorado for a Healthy Table “ITALIAN FOOD” Event on the 26th! I will post the information for this class on Facebook if you are in the CO/Denver area! I am also going to be hosting a Candida Cooking Class on September 10th in LA, so check out the event page on my site to get updates!

Anyway, I am at a loss as to what to cook lately. I am feeling bored with what we are eating. I asked Daniel if he felt bored with the food, and he said “no”, so I guess it’s alright. It’s just that my options are SO limited and I am searching my cookbooks for new ideas and ways I can substitute certain foods for the recipes I find with “Candida Friendly” foods. It proves to be a bit challenging. I am ready to give up and say….well, you know.

I did this cleanse before and I am having all those memories flood back in when I eat the food and taste the same tastes that I did a few years back. Honestly, it’s making me not want to eat at all!!! Did you ever smell something or taste something that took you right back to a time in your childhood and you can feel and see that memory so vividly? I think they are called Associative memories?? Well anyway, that’s what’s happening with me. I am not liking it, but I know that I am doing this for my health and I need to push through. I tell you what, if Daniel wasn’t by my side doing this with me, I would’ve given up after 1 week. I want my Peanut Butter High Protein Greens + bar. Yes, I’m still craving those darn things! Can you believe it? It’s more of a texture thing now. There is nothing gooey, creamy, dreamy and delectably sweet on this cleanse, it’s straight veggies, grains and protein from animal sources. I have a hard time eating anything with a face, as I mentioned in a previous blog! But, I can handle the eggs from time to time, so I am going to stick to what works. And although I am still craving something sweet and gooey, I know that will pass over time, so I just have to hang in there. Even just one bite of my Raw Vegan “Cheeze”cake!! PLEASE!!!

Anyway, back to cooking. I have a spaghetti squash in the oven right now baking and it’s smells so good! When it’s done I am going to scrape it out and saute it in a pan with coconut oil, shallots, cinnamon and cardamom. I think it will be like having dessert! I am so excited. I am also going to make some green beans and am hoping to spice them up Indian style, but since I can’t use coconut milk or coconut, I’m not sure if just cumin or curry will cut it. I guess I will have to play around and experiment.

If you haven’t already noticed, I am addicted to shallots. These little garlic/onion hybrids are oh so sweet when you saute them up! I also put them in salad dressing and they give off such an amazing flavor that isn’t as biting as garlic and a little sweeter than onion. I must put them in everything; scrambled eggs, green bean salad, lemon vinaigrette, cole slaw. You name it, they are in there. I think it’s a bit of an addiction, but not the type of Greens + Bar addiction, it’s a much healthier one!

Today I really wanted to taste coffee, again! What is it with me and the flavor of coffee? My mouth is watering as I write this. I even went into Whole foods and picked up a jar of water processed, organic DECAF, fairtrade coffee and thought..hmmmm…could I do it? And then I thought, NO WAY! I would just set myself back and not because of the caffeine, but because of the flavor… Just tasting it and swirling it’s earthy goodness in my mouth would leave me wanting MORE and would put me on that slippery slope!!! And, Daniel and I really need to stay off it for a while….maybe not forever, but we are committed to staying caffeine clean for hopefully a long time.

We have both realized how depleted our Adrenal glands are and that is the reason why we have are lacking the natural energy right now. We have been on the caffeine kick for so long, we’ve worked our adrenals to the bone and now we need to rebuild them to get back our natural vitality that is our birthright!! I know it will come, but sometimes it’s hard to fathom that I will ever have energy without my morning cup. Daniel went for a run yesterday totally caffeine-free and he said he struggled immensely. It was a huge wake up call for him and he got to feel how depleted he has become. I think it even scared him a bit to not have his good old buddy Red Bull to pull him through! He had to rely completely on himself and who he was in the present, even though the guy running with him had just had a redbull and vodka..go figure! But I asked him, “Don’t you want to live a lot longer and be healthier than that guy???” I think he got it.

Ok, well I think my squash is almost done. I can smell the sweetness. I am going to go give it the fork prick to test it’s tenderness. I hope it doesn’t get mad at me! All in all, I am feeling really good and happy I am doing this. There are times I am not so happy, but I can’t imagine going back to my old ways, even though I did open the kitchen drawer and saw a menu for Pizza Fusion, which is a NEW organic pizzeria that just opened here in LA. They offer gluten free crust and dairy free cheese on their pizzas…TORTURE!!! Maybe someday…I will dream about it but until then….

As promised, here is the recipe for the Almond Mayo compliments of Donna Gates and The Body Ecology Diet Book

1/2 cup Raw Almonds
1/2 c to 3/4 c filtered water
1/4 tsp. garlic or onion powder (or 1 raw clove garlic, minced)
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 c. organic, unrefined flax or pumpkin seed oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 tsp. raw, organic apple cider vinegar

Cover almonds with boiling water. Allow to cool slightly and then slip off skins.
Place almonds in a blender or food processor and grind to a fine powder. Add half the water along with garlic/onion powder and sea salt. Blend well, then add remaining water to form a smooth cream.
With blender running on low, drizzle in the oil in a thin stream from the top until mixture is thick. Keep blender running and add lemon juice & vinegar. Blend on low 1 minute longer to allow mixture to thicken.
Scrape into a jar with a screw top or tightly fitting lid and refrigerate.
This mixture will keep for 10 days to 2 weeks.

Enjoy! This is great to mix into Cole Slaw or Red Bliss Potato salad, or just use as a dip!

Yours in health,
The Ambivalent Cleanser

July 25, 2009

Just Because You Are Vegetarian Doesn’t Mean You’re Healthy!!

To many of us, Vegetarianism is a mystery. Becoming a vegetarian is usually a choice that people make for health reasons, ethical reasons or environmental reasons. But most vegetarians and not particularly healthy, per se.

Being a vegetarian takes work. It takes commitment. It takes dedication and it also takes creativity and knowledge. It’s easy to be an unhealthy vegetarian, but most people have no idea that they are being unhealthy. The reason is usually due to lack of knowledge. If you go to any grocery store today, there is an array of supposedly “healthy” vegetarian foods, but most of these foods are over processed and contain high amounts of soy, gluten, sodium and other ingredients that wreak havoc on our digestive system.

There are many types of vegetarians according to today’s society. But I believe that a true & healthy vegetarian is a person who eats a diet consisting of unprocssed whole foods. Whole foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, healthy fats and the occasional egg. If you think you are doing your body good by becoming a vegetarian while still eating cheese, yogurt, any kind of dairy, white flour, white sugar and processed “vegetarian” foods, you aren’t. You might as well still eat meat and chicken for that matter. Those choices are better than most of the heart clogging, high cholesterol cheeses and yogurts or the acidifying processed foods that will cause heart disease and a whole other ilk of health problems down the line.

If it’s an ethical issue to you, and you don’t care about health, than so be it. Yet anyone who does not care about their health and what they put in their mouth is looking for trouble in the long term. Your body is a temple and the only one you have while you are here. It’s important that you treat it with respect so that it works optimally to assist you in a long, happy and healthy life.

Ok, let’s talk about the different kinds of “vegetarians” (remember, a true vegetarian does not eat any animal flesh at all). A vegan on the other hand, eats absolutely NO animal products including eggs, honey, white sugar & dairy.

Vegetarian: Eats a plant based diet and does not eat red meat, chicken, pork or any other meat from an animal
Pescetarian: A vegetarian who eats fish
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: A vegetarian who eats dairy & eggs
Flexitarian (this is a newer type of Vegetarian): one who is a vegetarian but will occasionally eat fish or chicken
Total Vegetarian: does not eat any animal products including eggs, dairy, honey and sometime white sugar (some white sugar is processed with the ash of cow bones so it is not considered vegetarian)
Vegan: Eliminates all animal products from their life even clothing & shoes made from leather, wool or silk.

As I said earlier, many vegetarians can be extremely unhealthy and sometimes it takes a lot of planning to have this type of lifestyle. Eating pizza, nachos, or any other greasy foods that don’t contain meat is not the path to being a healthy vegetarian. Yes, sometimes those foods are easy to grab on the go, but these foods will leave you feeling bloated & tired, along with an array of other possible health problems. And, you will not get the necessary nutrients you need for your body as you would from eating whole foods.

If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian or already are one, please remember that what you put into your mouth is the most important thing you can do for your body other than exercise. Be mindful of your choices. Eat lots of fresh veggies and fruit. Eat minimal amounts of processed foods. Take baby steps. Cut out one unhealthy food per week and add in a healthy one. If you are used to the Soy chicken nuggets or the frozen pizza from the freezer section, I urge you to rethink those choices and choose foods that are minimally processed. Make time each week to plan your meals.

Remember, having a healthy lifestyle takes work. It’s an investment in your health. You are worth the effort and commitment it takes to be healthy. Before you know it, it will become old hat and you will be feeling and looking better than you ever have in your life! The key to your success is Baby Steps! Have fun!!!

July 17, 2009

Who Cares How You Look or What You Do ~ Are you HAPPY??

So many of us live a life that is filled with work, errands, to-do’s, emails, etc. The list goes on and on. Sometimes I wonder if there is ever enough time to get it all done. Why is there always something to do? A list of “things” that seem to keep us from enjoying our daily lives?

Is there time to be happy with all these things that we have to do on a day-to-day basis?? Will our To-Do Lists ever be fully crossed off? And if they are, will we finally be happy & fulfilled?? Or we will look for more things to do and keep us distracted from the present moment?? To fill up the empty space inside that is unhappiness.

We exercise hard so we can look & feel good. We eat healthy or check out the latest diet craze to help us lose weight so that we can feel better and look better. We think we’ll be happier when we reach some future goal, lose that final 10 pounds or get some better job, better computer, car or phone.

But, the question is, do all these things really make us happy?

There are millions of ways to distract ourselves from life, real life ~ the present moment. When I say real life, what I mean is our passion & our purpose. What we are here to do. Why we are here living on this Earth in human form. I don’t mean to make mockery of a life filled of to-do lists and emails, but I want you to think for a second if you are happy. Are you really happy? Do you feel joyous inside? Do you feel like you have a purpose and a mission? What would you do and how far would you push yourself to find that purpose or fulfill that mission? Would you quit your day job to pursue a life of creativity, philanthropy or writing?

Over the years as I struggled to find my calling, I dipped my toes into many different small ponds. The pond of the Hospitality industry, the pond of TV commercials, the pond of teaching yoga, the pond of… well, you get the picture…but after time, I realized that all these different ponds just didn’t make me happy. What I also realized was, that each one I didn’t enjoy brought me closer to the big ocean that was my calling and passion. I knew that I was passionate about health, fitness, food, teaching people how to be better and feel better, but I didn’t know how to bring it all together in a way that would fulfill my soul. I always thought these were just “things” in my life that I enjoyed but had to keep to myself.

I was tired of working for other people. Tired of building other people’s businesses, when all I wanted to do was work for myself. I wanted the flexibility of having my own business. To work when I wanted, not when I was told. I wanted more quality time with my friends and loved ones. I didn’t want to have my head buried at a desk behind a computer while life was happening outside. I wanted to participate. To be part of the solution, to feel my heart sing, to teach others how to feel better, eat better, make positive changes for themselves so they could get closer to their dreams and goals; their happy place. 

I’m not saying that I feel happy everyday, but I am truly happy doing what I love and knowing that I am helping others to be better in their life. I feel a sense of freedom, a sense of belonging in a world that can feel so alone and empty at times. I get to connect with amazing people every day and help them to become better.

So, what is it that makes you happy? What is the message you want to spread? Isn’t it time you found out? Isn’t it about time you follow your passion? Find your calling? Maybe your calling is to be the best parent to your children, or the best friend to your friends. It doesn’t mean that your calling is what you do for work, or your career. Your calling is the thing that you feel most passionate about that truly lights you up inside and makes you want to share it with the world!

Remember, life is too short to sell out on yourself and not experience the true happiness that comes from doing what you love! Make a difference for YOU first, and all else will fall in place! Write a list of the things you love to do. Figure out ways you can do them. Take Baby Steps. Remember that small steps toward a greater goal are the key to success. Have your purpose, make your plan and put it into action!!

If you are following your dreams, your to-do lists will feel like a walk in the park. You will jump at the chance to cross things off your list. You will feel success in your accomplishments and joy in your heart. And that is true happiness!

Raw Food ~ Fad or Fantastic?

Eating Raw? What’s it all about? Is this some crazy fad or is it here to stay? Raw Foodists around the country believe that Raw food is the way; the way to healing, health, happiness, vitality and a long life. Can this really be true? Or are they pulling our celery stalks??

Many studies have been done over the years on the raw food way of life and it’s benefits. Most recently, a documentary was made called Raw for 30 Days. This film documents the lives of 6 participants with “incurable” Diabetes who go away to a Raw Food “camp” for 30 days to change their health and their life. Many of these participants are grossly overweight and in turn, have contracted diabetes and many other illnesses that prevent them from living their best life. At the end of these 30 days mostly all the participants diabetes was reversed and many were able to stop their insulin shots. All this from eating Raw food?? YES! It’s not to say that it was easy, but did it work? The results prove that it does.

Raw foods are ALIVE! These foods still contain all the live enzymes that your body needs to digest your food properly and use it optimally. When you are ingesting raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, beans, etc. your body is receiving peak nutritional value from your food. All the nutrients from these foods are still alive, because they haven’t been cooked away by heat or fire. In turn, your body uses this food as energy instead of storing it away as fat. You will feel lighter, lose weight and your skin will be clear and vibrant.

I know that this all sounds great, but is it easy? In my experience, the raw food way of eating can sometimes be a challenge. It does take time, thought & energy to eat this way. Eating cooked food is certainly the “norm” in our society and not many restaurants you go to have raw food choices. But that’s not to say that you can’t find them. This type of lifestyle is a choice that many make when they are ready, or if they have a severe health problem that needs addressing.

My school of thought is everything in moderation. I have gone 100% raw before, and I’ve felt the best I have ever felt in my life, but I realized that 100% raw does not work for me. I love HOT food. I love soup on a cold winters night, I love hot tea while sitting in front of a fire. My body is made up in such a way that it needs warmth and comfort from cooked whole foods, such as grains, steamed veggies, hearty vegetable stews, etc. So, I decided to adapt a diet with a combination of raw and cooked foods. I eat about 40-50% raw depending on the time of year and the season. In the spring and summer, I find it much easier to eat raw due to the abundance of fresh fruits (which I LOVE) and veggies that I can find at the Farmer’s markets.

Ultimately, this type of eating is up to you. I say give it a try, but know that it’s a choice and an investment in your health. Take baby steps. Introduce new, raw foods into your diet every week, and see how you feel. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by giving up all cooked food and going 100% raw to start. Your body will also probably rebel by giving you digestive problems, flatulence, etc until you can adjust to this lifestyle. Every time you change your way of eating, your body will react, so it’s best to go slow, do what works for you, but most importantly know that you are making a positive choice for your health and happiness.

For more on eating a whole foods diet, visit Missy’s web site at www.karmachow.com

Change Your Mind, Change Your Body, Change Your Life

This powerful phrase, quoted by my favorite spin teacher and friend, John Scarangello, owner of Kinetic Cycling, during a spin class I was in last Friday really hit home for me. It’s 9 simple words, but the power behind these words were paramount.

For years I have suffered from a mild eating disorder, in that whenever I ate something I would think, “This is going to make me fat”. Even if it was a piece of fruit. This thought process came to me a child after seeing all the perfect models and their perfect bodies on the pages of glossy magazines. I thought I needed to look like them for people to like me or even love me. Luckily due to good genetics and being active consistently, I have never been overweight in all my life, but the way I thought about my weight made me feel like I was 400 pounds. I had the wrong eye prescription every time I looked in the mirror, I saw my body much bigger than it was. I was never happy with the way I looked or the way I felt in my body. I would say negative things to myself and starve myself in hopes that someone would notice that I had the perfect body.

Now that I am 40, I have come to a place of acceptance. Yes, there are still times when I think that I am fat or I could tone up here and there, but these thoughts do not occupy my mind like they once did. Guess why? I made a choice to change my mind about how I thought about myself! I made a choice to talk nice to myself. I made a choice to exercise and eat right which makes me feel better about myself and builds my self-confidence and self-esteem.

Think about the power of the mind and how strong it is. What we think can literally come to fruition if we focus on it enough. The universe doesn’t know the difference between negative and positive, it will just bring us more of what we focus on. Maybe I would have become severely overweight if I hadn’t decided to change my mind about food and how I felt about myself. All it takes is a choice, a choice you have the power to make!!! Once you change your mind, everything else changes.

Another one of my favorite quotes by inspirational author and speaker, Wayne Dyer; “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change” has the same meaning. If we all just made a decision to eat right, exercise 5-6 days a week and think positively instead of negatively, our lives would be different, our lives would change. We would feel better, look better and be happier.

If you struggle with putting healthy food in your mouth, or exercising on a consistent basis, know that you are the one that has the power to change it. Make the decision today to take a baby step toward change. Choose it, make it happen and enroll people to help you, especially if it has been a life-long struggle. I get that sometimes it’s “not that easy,” and you may need extra support, so find that support, and that’s what I mean by taking a baby step! You will start to notice that your whole world looks and feels different and that is the power of 9 little words!

Thanks John!!!

To check out Kinetic Cycling and John’s spin classes, visit his site at www.kineticcycling.com

January 22, 2009

Pill Popping Problem Solvers….NOT!

For many years I lived without a TV…and I loved it! I found myself reading more, writing more and spending more time doing active things that kept me healthy & happy. Now that I live in a place with a TV, I find myself sitting in front of it when I feel overwhelmed or if I need to “check out” and not think for a while.

But, as I sit there, I quickly realize that I am not really enjoying what I am watching, and all I see is ad after ad that claims, “Take this pill, or that pill and all your problems will go away”. TV is filled with these commercials that affirm to “fix” any & every health issue we may have from arthritis, to heartburn to high blood pressure to headaches. It is truly disheartening. While there are natural cures for arthritis, there’s no overnight cure.

Why has our society become so obsessed with the “quick fix”? Masking the problem, instead of solving it? When did we become so lazy and stop caring about ourselves and our well-being? Doctors are paid to sell drugs to us. Pharmaceutical companies are the biggest profit generators of today. Most of the time, Doctors’ just prescribe a pill to get us out of the office so that they can quickly move on to the next patient. But, are we really healing the problem?? NO! Do they really want to cure us at the deepest level?? Not sure! Are we coming back to health, or just making ourselves dependent on some substance that is making us worse instead of better??

Our bodies can become breeding grounds for disease if we don’t take care of them. The typical American Diet is high in processed foods, thereby creating an acidic environment where illness and disease can flourish! Sugar is the biggest culprit of this.

As a Health Educator & Wellness Coach, I feel it is my duty to offer you knowledge and suggestions on how to return your body to health without popping a pill. If you are one of those people who think that taking over the counter drugs is the answer, I am here to help you return to health and wellness in a natural way.

Remember, Let food by thy MEDICINE, and medicine thy food (thank you Hippocrates.) We need to use the food we eat to cure our “problems,” and imbalances and get healthy!! What we put in our mouth determines how we will feel from the inside out! We need to make smarter choices about what we eat, and how much we eat, to keep our bodies operating at their optimal state. Adopt a healthy eating lifestyle! Eat plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats!! And exercise…move…do something! It’s also important to manage daily stress and get plenty of sleep. All of these factors will positively contribute to a healthier life for you.

Below is a list of a few common ailments and my suggestions to help heal them without popping those pills:

Heartburn/Indigestion: If you suffer from heartburn and/or indigestion, you most likely have low stomach acid. HCL, also known as Hydrochloric Acid, is the acid in your stomach that is responsible for breaking down proteins. If you are low in HCL, you will not be able to break down meats and other proteins, in turn causing heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux and many other digestive problems. You will also suffer from these ailments if you eat a lot of meat and other highly acidic foods like dairy & wheat. Also, low HCL prevents yoru body from absorbing B12 and other nutrients. You can re-build the HCL in your stomach by taking HCL pills (available at health food stores) or taking a Tablespoon of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar before every meal in a small amount of water. Over time, your HCL will rebuild and you will be able to digest your proteins without any help.

Gas & Bloating: Again, a digestive issue. Most likely you have a hard time digesting carbs, sugar, proteins and even vegetables. I highly recommend taking digestive enzymes before every meal to help your body break down your foods properly. Also, cut back on refined flour, sugar & diet soda!!! Food combining is another way you can prevent gas & bloating and keep your digestive system working properly. For more information on food combining, check out http://www.thewolfeclinic.com/foodcombining.html

High Blood Pressure: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise (for at least 30 minutes a day) and lower your sodium intake. If you need to use salt, switch to Himalayan Sea Salt or use Gomasio, which is a combination of sesame seeds and sea salt. Sea Salt will give your body the necessary minerals it needs and the rest will be flushed out. You will not retain water when you use sea salt, but please keep in mind that it is still sodium, so use it moderately.

Headaches: Most likely an allergy to certain foods, or too much stress. If you suffer from headaches, cut out caffeine, cheese, alcohol, refined sugar, and any food or drink that contains sulfites. See how you feel in 2 weeks. Also, spend some time practicing deep breathing exercises, light stretching or sitting quietly for 10 minutes a day.

Muscle Aches & Pains: Instead of taking that painkiller (which can stress the liver) do some stretching, see a massage therapist, take a hot bath using Epsom salts or find a local acupuncturist. Usually muscular pain in the body is created by an imbalance or energy blockage. Eat magnesium rich foods such as sea vegetables. Too much sugar or caffeine can sap your body of minerals and cause imbalances as well.

PMS/Menstrual Issues: Most likely a hormonal imbalance in the body, which can be caused by processed & fried foods, caffeine, smoking, stress, etc. First step is to cut out caffeine and sugar. Add Magnesium & Calcium rich foods to your diet. Eat plenty of leafy greens and sea vegetables. If you suffer from severe PMS, consider having a complete hormonal screen done by a Naturopath or Holistic hormone specialist. Have your Thyroid Checked!

IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a very common digestive problem affecting many Americans. I suffered from IBS as a young adult and realized that I needed to do something to help myself since every doctor I went to had no answer. I started to slowly change my diet and cut out eating certain foods that would upset my system, as well as meditating and practicing deep breathing exercises. To help yourself, cut out one highly allergenic food per week such as dairy, corn, wheat or soy and see if anything changes. You can then add each food back in slowly to determine where the problem is.

Sinus Problems: If you constantly have a runny nose, a stuffed up nose, or need to clear your throat, dairy could be your culprit. Cut out dairy for a week and see what happens! Stay away from the poison that you shoot up your nose to clear it out. It actually becomes addicting and you will need to use it more and more.

As you begin to adopt a healthier way of eating, you will notice many changes in your body and how you feel overall. You will begin to drop weight. Your skin will clear up. Your allergies will subside. You will have more energy. Forgo running to the drug store to get that pill and start to take charge or your well being by making positive choices. This is the only body you have, so take care of it while you are here! Do you want to feel healthy, full of energy and vibrant? Or do you want to be filled with synthetic drugs that are sapping your body of energy, nutrients and life? You choose!!! It’s in your hands!!!

For more information on healing your body through food, exercise and nutrition, email me at missy@karmachow.com

*A special thanks to my friend Tony Horton for the “Pill Popping” title…he IS a genius! You can read his post on the best ways to relieve pain naturally here: https://www.hmhb.org/pain/.

**Disclaimer: I am not a Doctor. If you have feel you have a serious illness, please seek professional medical help.