Lemon ‘Cheese’cake

…I made Lemon ‘Cheese’ cake…which didn’t turn out as I wanted but we still ate it! I couldn’t find agar agar at the store so I used arrowroot, but this did not give the desired ‘cheesecake’ effect. But, I threw it in the freezer and it became more of a lemon sorbet ice cream cake of sorts and tasted pretty damn good for my first go at this awesome dessert! Will be trying this one out again with the agar agar next time! The recipe below is the ‘right’ way to do it with the agar agar, so let me know how it turns out for you!
Lemon ‘Cheese’cake turned Lemon sorbet ice cream cake…

Vegan Lemon Cheesecake:

  1. Crust (make first): This crust is phenomenal!
    1. Throw 1-2 C Walnuts, 1 C Dates, and 1/4 C brown rice syrup in food processor and blend until ingredients stick together
    2. Combine and press into bottom of pan (coat pan with olive oil first)
    3. Optional: Bake 10 minutes at 350F (don’t let walnuts overcook/burn)
    4. Once pan cools, place in refrigerator while you make the filling
  1. Filling:
    1. Extra Firm tofu
    2. 1/2 C brown rice syrup
    3. Lemon Juice (2-3 lemons)
    4. Blend all ingredients, taste and adjust accordingly
    5. Prep 2 TBSP Agar Agar
      1. 1/2C Apple Juice or water & 2 tbsp agar agar
      2. Stir in stove top pot, let dissolve
      3. Bring to simmer and cook until clear (10 min)
    1. Then add agar agar to blender, blend and put right into pie crust
  1. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours

 

Let’s talk about Alkalinity, Acidity & Inflammation! Yeah!

I know, I know…this topic probably sounds like it has nothing to do with you or your fitness goals. Am I getting too ‘technical’ on you? Well deal! Because you need to know about ‘getting more alkaline’ and getting out of an acidic and toxic and inflamed state. So take a few minutes out of your day and read on. (Next post will be about the ‘constricting’ and ‘expanding’ properties of food, I promise).
Blood pH Level ranges from low pH (acidic) to high pH (alkaline). Our body fights to keep our blood pH level between 7.35-7.45 via its internal regulating systems. If the blood pH dips below 7.35 it turns too acidic (acidosis) and above 7.45 too alkaline. So why do I care about this?

“A diet rich in alkaline foods help reduce inflammation in the body…chronic inflammation can negatively impact your health. Experts seem to agree that one of the first ways to reduce inflammation is by assessing your diet and adding in alkaline foods and removing the acid ones.” While, it’s said that acidosis leads to diseases, brain fog, poor mood, irritability, poor digestion, low energy, excess weight, aches and pains and it is said that cancers thrive in an acid state…so this is why pH is so important. Once I got the acid-forming products out of my life, my quality of life improved, do you want to improve your quality of life?

So, what do you do? Counteract acidity by consuming foods that bring your pH up to the alkaline side of the scale. The average western-diet is acid-forming. Coffee, animal meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, bread (even whole wheat), pistachios, peanuts, butter, margarine, artificial sweeteners, sugar, beer, liquor, wine, canned food, microwaved food, processed foods are all foods to stay away from because they are highly acidic! Click this link–> Look on the internet for a chart of acid-alkaline foods.

Almost all vegetables are GREAT for you and alkaline forming, fruits are to be eaten in moderation. Fruits that are alkaline forming are avocados, fresh lemon & limes. Almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seed, and sesame seeds are alkaline forming too. Flax seed and Olive oil are alkaline. Get a pressure cooker, and start cooking up your grains and beans/legumes from their whole and untouched/unprocessed states. Such as whole buckwheat groats and lentils which are on the alkaline side of the spectrum. Again, look up a chart online and make note of what is acid and alkaline forming.

You may read this and say to yourself that getting rid of these ‘foods’ or changing the way I eat to be more ‘alkaline’ would be too difficult. But let me ask you this, “is there not more to life than the food we eat and the clothing we wear…?”. The food you eat should be the fuel to power you through your day!

Is it not harder to go to the gym, stick to your exercise routine 100% day-in and day-out and not see results because you haven’t changed your diet in a way to align with what you want to achieve with your health and fitness? Is it not absolutely frustrating when you feel like crap when you wake up in the morning, and you have a whole day ahead of you of work and errands and life to deal with? Wouldn’t you like to wake up and feel ready to take on the day? Sleep better? Feel energized after a meal instead of tired and weighed down? Walk out your door, look up at the sky and see ‘true blue’ for the first time? Be so clear-minded and on-point that you tackle work stress, work problems and work duties like you’ve never been able to before? Shed excess weight that you can’t seem to lose no matter what exercise routine you do, no matter how many minutes you walk/run a day, no matter how many spin classes you do, or crazy starvation diets you put your body through?

YOU CAN achieve optimal wellness, YOU CAN experience a better quality of life, it all depends on whether you MAKE THE COMMITMENT TO, whether or not you decide that you’re fed up with feeling like crap everyday and you decide that you’re ready to make the changes you need to make to achieve your goals. We all hit rock bottom at some point, but if I were you I’d start before I hit rock bottom.

Once I learn something, I implement it into my life in a way that will make a positive impact on my well being. How can you learn something that is life-changing and not use that new information in how you live your life? Many people out there read about and learn things that could make a positive impact on their well being and the environment, yet they just move on and don’t do anything about it, they are numb, maybe they’re scared, maybe they haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Don’t be numb, don’t wait until you hit rock bottom, don’t wait until you get some horrible health diagnosis from your doctor, you were given life…one life…to be ALIVE, feel ALIVE and see ‘true blue’!

 
This may be controversial, some may reject this topic, I don’t care and don’t knock it until you try it. What I do care about is helping others ‘see the light’. I’m sharing what I know and learn in hopes to help others have a better quality of life. Take what you will from what I tell you, but just remember you were given one life…to live, be well, and do well…
 
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a doctor. What I write in my blogposts is simply information that I have gathered over the years from reading and researching several health related topics from credible resources as well as personal experiences. I urge you to consult with a physician before changing your diet. The purpose of my blogposts are to share my experiences and fitness knowledge with everyone I possibly can to help others in their journey to improve their state of well-being.

Health & Happiness,

Natty Mac

Chocolate Pudding? Superfood? Why Yes!

I had an epiphany today about food, nutrition and how EVERYONE should start viewing the ‘eating process’. The macrobiotic challenge has greatly helped me to have this ‘epiphany’. I changed my eating habits A LOT, from what I eat, how often, when, why, how and so on. I’ve cut out all animal products (gone vegan) and for the most part have cut out anything that is processed, meaning everything I prepare or cook is truly a ‘whole food’ in its natural state. At first it was really challenging to make these changes…I didn’t know what to eat, how to prep meals, I got a little frustrated but pushed through and am SO GLAD I stuck with it 100% because the experience has been life changing.
EVERYTHING I eat or drink is to ‘fuel’ my body. Each ingredient in my meals and snacks serve the purpose of contributing the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbs, fats, proteins, etc that my body needs to function at optimal capacity. AND THIS IS THE REASON I FEEL AMAZING. For the last 20 days, everything I have eaten has had some purpose in feeding my body what it needs to function, when you do this amazing things begin to happen. And it has only been 20 days, imagine what 3 months will hold.

My epiphany: Every meal or snack and every ingredient in that meal or snack should have a purpose, fuel for Raw Zucchini & Pesto Lasagnaoptimal performance.

When I wake up, my tea energizes me to start my day and my 16 ounces of water I chug first thing in the morning hydrates me. My breakfast of buckwheat groats gives me the sustained energy I will need for work and my exercise routine. Each meal/snack also has cooling or warming effect depending upon the season (warm/cold/winter/summer). Food, my meals/snacks, fuel me for the next few hours of activity. BUT…the big change, the epiphany…these meals & snacks are so much more fun to make, more satisfying, delicious, have variety, can be ‘sweet’ or ‘savory’, and are SO easily digested because there aren’t any animal products, artificial ingredients or highly processed crap & they are in their natural and ‘whole’ state so that I can receive ALL the nutrients from each ingredient. In turn…the outcome is a clear mind as I’ve never experienced before, energy like I had when I was a 5 year old, weight-less feeling, joy, and as my new friend Kara says ‘seeing the deepest, coolest, most vivid color blue as you’ve never seen it before’.

Master Macrobiotics in 10 easy steps!Depending on how much time I have, I can whip something up that’s good for my mind and body. Or take my time to make an elaborate meal. I HAVE MORE VARIETY NOW THAN I DID BEFORE! Some people may say that I’m on a restricted diet…this is incorrect actually. Look at my pinterest boards, the vast array of recipes and options for all meals of the day is endless and in NO WAY restricted.

In fact, I find the ‘macrobiotic way’ more satisfying. I can even have dessert now! If you stick to the ‘macrobiotic way’ you will shed any excess weight, feel amazingly energized and clear minded and get to enjoy in a variety of satisfying and delicious meals and snacks. I don’t know about you but this is way better than eating oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch and chicken and broccoli for dinner every day!

I made my new favorite dessert today, I call ‘Superfood Chocolate Pudding’. So easy to make and tastes AMAZING! Perfect for this time of year (Spring/Summer), has healthy fats, low G.I., loaded with vitamins/minerals and cools you down while satisfying that desire for something sweet and tasty.

“Superfood Chocolate Pudding”

Makes 1 serving.

  • 1/2 Organic Avocado
  • 2 TBSP Raw Cacao
  • 1-2 TBSP Lacuma Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla bean or alcohol-free organic vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup filtered water
  • Optional- 1 TBSP organic shredded coconut

Put all ingredients in your magic bullet, blender or food processor and blend. Enjoy! Add fresh mint leaves to the blender for mint chocolate pudding! Or fresh squeezed orange juice. Options are endless!

I encourage anyone to do their research and give the ‘macrobiotic way’ a real try, give it 100%, give it 30 days, it will be worth it.

Health & Happiness,

Natty Mac

pH Level &The Low Down on Nuts & Seeds

After writing this post, I can’t get that song “It’s peanut butter jelly time” out of my head…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3pbJ2tmYMg ……oh youtube…..
Let’s just start off by stating that I can’t really eat peanuts. Peanut butter, peanuts at a baseball game, peanut sauce…nope! Have a not so good reaction. Peanuts are ‘acidic’ and they just don’t make me feel great. So when I started doing this vegan/macrobiotic challenge I was worried that I’d have issues because I know that nuts and seeds are used often in vegetarian/vegan dishes. Well, it turns out that I’m able to eat nuts and seeds that are on the ‘alkalizing’ side of the pH spectrum, and also eat in moderation (ex: small portion, 2x/week). If you eat a crapload of nuts, like when snacking at a baseball game on a bag of peanuts, it’s likely that you will feel like a load of crap. Lesson learned, certain nuts & seeds are better for you than others, always eat in moderation, think of nuts and seeds as a ‘dessert’ or ‘snack’ or ‘seasoning’.

My fave nuts and seeds are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds (which are all considered ‘alkalizing’). It’s important to sprout your nuts and seeds or lightly pan or oven roast them in order for them to be easily digested, more alkaline and become ‘alive’ so that your body can absorb the wonderful array of nutrients these little guys are packed with. Soak nuts in water overnight to sprout or roast your pumpkin seeds in a pan to ‘open’ the outer layer of the seed. Read quick tidbit below about pH level, acidity/alkalinity, and link to a chart of alkaline/acid-forming foods.

“Balanced body chemistry is of utmost importance for the maintenance of health and correction of disease. Acidosis, or over-acidity in the body tissues, is one of the basic causes of many diseases, especially the arthritic and rheumatic diseases.
All foods are “burned” in the body–more commonly called “digested”– leaving an ash as the result of the “burning”, or the digestion. This food ash can be neutral, acid or alkaline, depending largely on the mineral composition of the foods. Some foods leave an acid residue or ash, some alkaline. The acid ash (acidosis) results when there is a depletion of the alkali reserve or the diminution in the reserve supply of fixed bases in the blood and the tissues of the body.
It is, therefore, vitally important that there is a proper ratio between acid and alkaline foods in the diet. The natural ratio in a normal healthy body is approximately 4 to 1 — four parts alkaline to one part acid, or 80% to 20%. When such an ideal ratio is maintained, the body has a strong resistance against disease. In the healing of disease, when the patient usually has acidosis, the higher the ratio of alkaline elements in the diet, the faster will be the recovery. Alkalis neutralize the acids. Therefore in the treatment of most diseases it is important that the patient’s diet includes plenty of alkaline-ash foods to offset the effects of acid-forming foods and leave a safe margin of alkalinity.
A healthy body usually keeps large alkaline reserves which are used to meet the emergency demands if too many acid-producing foods are consumed. But these normal reserves can be depleted. When the alkaline-acid ratio drops to 3 to 1, health can be seriously menaced. Your body can function normally and sustain health only in the presence of adequate alkaline reserves and the proper acid-alkaline ratio in all the body tissues and the blood.
For optimum health and maximum resistance to disease, it is imperative that your diet is slightly over-alkaline. The ideal ratio, according to the world’s foremost authority on the relationship between the acid-alkaline ratio in the diet in health and disease, Dr. Ragnar Berg, is about 80% alkali-producing foods and 20% acid-producing foods.” From: http://www.alkaline-alkaline.com/ph_food_chart.html
 
Follow this Link for a chart of alkalizing and acid-forming foods: http://www.alkaline-alkaline.com/ph_food_chart.html
 

So the macrobiotic challenge is in part about ‘alkalizing your blood’. Although most grains are considered acid-forming, they are balanced by the emphasis on lots of veggies and dark leafy greens (green smoothies, veggies in every meal). Grains are also less acidic than animal protein and dairy products AND are much easily digested, have fiber to ‘clean’ your digestive tract, and so on. Grains like millet and buckwheat are actually considered on the ‘alkalizing’ side of the spectrum. Greens are most alkalizing. I must say that after having one of my green smoothies, I feel revived and energized beyond your imagination, workouts are amazing, and everything seems ‘clearer’. This is the true example of how food should be your fuel! Learn what works for you and what doesn’t.

Eat more ‘alkalizing’ foods to ‘clean up your blood’, avoid disease and feel better!

Lots of water! Avoid alcohol and flavored drinks.

Eat ‘cooling’ foods (ex: avocado) in warmer seasons and ‘warming’ foods in colder seasons.

Eat nuts/seeds in moderations.

Avoid too many acid-forming  & constricting foods (meat, fish, poultry, eggs).

Eat grains & legumes in their ‘whole’ and natural state (not rolled, steel cut, processed, canned) and in moderation and correct portion sizes (1 serving grains = 1 clenched fist; 1/4C beans) and with veggies.

Next post I will talk about ‘constricting’ and ‘expanding’ properties of foods and how this affects your well-being!

To Your Health, Natty Mac

Vegan 5 Course Meal – Nat’s Test Kitchen

It’s day #16 of the 30 Day Macrobiotic challenge. I FEEL AMAZING! (I had a little ‘hiccup’, ate adzuki bean dip I made that had gone old and it made me feel sick for a day or two, but I learned now how long beans ‘keep’). I’d like to give a shout out to my friend and the host of the 30 Day Challenge, Kara Mejia, for the amazing results I’m experiencing as well as the recipes I’m sharing in this post. Kara taught me and the 30 day challenge group these recipes last week and I tested out my skills this past weekend for mother’s day. Everything turned out great…with the exception of the lemon ‘cheese’cake (which was my fault, I learned quickly that arrowroot is NOT a good sub for agar agar lol).
Kara Mejia has some great info, recipes and a blog. So be sure to check it out so you can have the positive experience too!

Website: Cooking with Kara

Blog: Natural Body Makeover

So, here it is…my 5 Course Vegan/Semi-macrobiotic Mother’s Day dinner!

Cream of Celery Soup:

  1. Whole head of celery
  2. Nayonaise w/mustard (to taste)
  3. Green Onions (one stalk)
  4. Olive oil (2 tbsp)
  5. Water (slowly add as blending to bring to right consistency)
  6. Sea salt (a few dashes)
  7. Heaping tsp of sweet white miso
  8. For creamy: add avocado, zucchini or cauliflower
  9. For a kick: add cayenne pepper
  10. Blend in blender and garnish with cilantro

Served with Pinto Ginger Hummus:

Hummus:

  1. 2C cooked Pinto Beans
  2. Pinto bean broth
  3. Cumin (start with 1 tsp, add to taste)
  4. Blend and slowly add in below ingredients until right consistency
  5. Add olive oil, flax or hemp seed oil
  6. Add grated ginger 1tsp & salt to taste
  7. Optional, garlic and/or sweet potatoes

Next we had a fresh cut romaine salad with citrus lime vinaigrette:

Romaine w/Citrus Lime Vinaigrette:

  1. In the bottom of large bowl add the following.
  2. A few tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  3. 2 TBSP olive oil
  4. Juice of one organic lime
  5. Pepper & tiny dash of salt
  6. Fresh or dried basil, cilantro
  7. Optional: add fresh grated ginger
  8. Now add chopped romaine on top and mix, place in fridge and let flavors infuse salad.

For the main entree, I cooked up the famous ‘Grain Burger’!

Grain Burger:

  1. Brown Rice: 2C serves 2 people
  2. Beans (1/4 beans:1 rice) *re-cook beans w/dash salt
  3. Spanish oregano
  4. Roasted ground pumpkin seed w/dulse flakes
  5. 1C grated carrot, celery, onion
  6. Juice from bean stock
  7. Garlic (a couple dashes)
  8. Onion powder (I didn’t have any so I added green onions)
  9. Red pepper flakes (dash)
  10. Cumin (a few teaspoons)
  11. Combine ingredients into patties and roll in Oat Flour (I used coconut flour)
  12. Cook in pan in toasted sesame oil (I used sunflower oil)
  13. Plate up with chopped cilantro on top & a squirt of miso mayo!

As you can see I substituted a few ingredients for what I had in my kitchen. I used adzuki bean pate, but you can use chickpeas or lentils that aren’t pureed. Also, I used brown rice but quinoa works as well. If you don’t have spanish oregano just use regular oregano. These are so yum!

Lastly…I made Lemon ‘Cheese’ cake…which didn’t turn out as I wanted but we still ate it! I couldn’t find agar agar at the store so I used arrowroot, but this did not give the desired ‘cheesecake’ effect. But, I threw it in the freezer and it became more of a lemon sorbet ice cream cake of sorts and tasted pretty damn good for my first go at this awesome dessert! Will be trying this one out again with the agar agar next time! The recipe below is the ‘right’ way to do it with the agar agar, so let me know how it turns out for you!

Lemon ‘Cheese’cake turned Lemon sorbet ice cream cake…

Vegan Lemon Cheesecake:

  1. Crust (make first): This crust is phenomenal!
    1. Throw 1-2 C Walnuts, 1 C Dates, and 1/4 C brown rice syrup in food processor and blend until ingredients stick together
    2. Combine and press into bottom of pan (coat pan with olive oil first)
    3. Optional: Bake 10 minutes at 350F (don’t let walnuts overcook/burn)
    4. Once pan cools, place in refrigerator while you make the filling
  1. Filling:
    1. Extra Firm tofu
    2. 1/2 C brown rice syrup
    3. Lemon Juice (2-3 lemons)
    4. Blend all ingredients, taste and adjust accordingly
    5. Prep 2 TBSP Agar Agar
      1. 1/2C Apple Juice or water & 2 tbsp agar agar
      2. Stir in stove top pot, let dissolve
      3. Bring to simmer and cook until clear (10 min)
    1. Then add agar agar to blender, blend and put right into pie crust
  1. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours

We (my mom, boyfriend and I) were fully satisfied after this fabulous 5 course meal. We felt good too! Not weighed down or groggy after a large meal with animal products. I must say that I absolutely LOVE vegan. As of right now, I’m not turning back and I’m going to keep experimenting with fun, new vegan and macrobiotic recipes. I always felt bad about eating animal products and now I can eat knowing that I’m not only being good to my body but also to the environment, animals & earth!

It’s truly amazing the variety of really fun and delicious recipes out there that are vegan & macrobiotic. The best part is that you feel better physically and mentally after eating. Clearer mind, better digestion, energized and ready to enjoy your day! I’ve been enjoying researching and finding new vegan and macrobiotic recipes to try out for the weeks to come. It makes ‘meal’ time so much more exciting and fun to cook in this new way. A lot of the recipes you can throw together with no cooking at all, and it’s for the most part, totally unprocessed ingredients. Truly ‘clean’ eating. As I’m learning and getting into the swing of things, I’m able to throw together amazingly yummy, wholesome meals and snacks in minutes. I urge you to try out some vegan and macrobiotic recipes, you’ll feel so good, physically & mentally! Especially if you’re trying to drop some excess weight or body fat!

Health & Happiness, Nat

Ginger & Miso Tea: Calm, Relax, Re-energize & Soothe

Day #9 here on the Macrobiotic/Vegan challenge and I finally made THE TEA! (Yes, Kara…it took me this long). Kara, is the wonderful lady leading me and my group in our macro-vegan adventures this fabulous month of May. So this tea that I made up today is all thanks to her!
Miso is fermented soybean paste. I got Organic Chickpea Miso, so to avoid soybeans. I like the taste of it! Never bring the water to a boil if you’ve added Miso to it because it will kill the active enzymes and goodies in Miso! Whenever you add Miso to a soup or for tea, let the water heat up to the point where Miso begins ‘pillow’ up to the top of the water. Why Miso?

“Fermented foods and drinks help build your inner ecosystem. When your inner ecosystem is healthy, it is full of friendly microflora (beneficial bacteria in your intestines), that help you digest and assimilate nutrients and boost your immunity. In fact, healthy microflora actually go to work for you, creating the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay strong and energized.”
“Miso has been eaten in Japan and China for many centuries and has been attracting the attention of many of us because of its health and anti-aging benefits. It’s also quite delicious. When you aren’t feeling well a bowl of miso soup can be especially soothing.”
 
“Making miso is an art form in Japan. It is made of soybeans and koji, a culture starter made from beneficial molds, yeast and lactic acid bacteria. As long as you choose unpasteruized miso, you will be getting the benefits of live friendly microflora for the health of your inner ecosystem.
 

Miso Benefits:

  • Reduces risks of cancer including breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer.
  • Protection from radiation
  • Immune strengthening
  • Antiviral — miso is very alkalizing and strengthening to the immune system helping to combat a viral infection.
  • Prevents aging – high in antioxidants, miso protects from free radicals that cause signs of aging.
  • Helps maintain nutritional balance – full of nutrients, beneficial bacteria and enzymes, miso provides: protein, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin E, vitamin K, tryptophan, choline, dietary fiber, linoleic acid and lecithin.
  • Helps preserve beautiful skin – miso contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that helps your skin stay soft and free of pigments.
  • Helps reduce menopausal complaints – the isoflavones in miso have been shown to reduce hot flashes.

The other ingredient in this fabulous tea (or soup), is ginger. FRESH ORGANIC GINGER ROOT. ‘Peel’ skin off small piece of ginger and grate ginger. Deposit about 1-2 tsp of the grated ginger into the bottom of your tea cup. Ginger is SO fabulous too! Use on salads in a ‘ginger vinaigrette’ dressing, in cooking or in your tea! It soothes and calms not only your digestive tract and your body, but your mind too! Use ginger root to “heal digestive troubles and decrease inflammation”.

Ginger Benefits:

  • Osteoarthritis. Ginger is an effective osteoarthritis treatment, specifically for the knee.
  • Inflammation. Ginger contains powerful anti-inflammatory agents called gingerols.
  • Nausea and vomiting. People experiencing motion sickness often use ginger to alleviate their symptoms.
  • Morning sickness. Pregnant women have found relief using ginger to eliminate morning sickness.
  • High blood pressure. Ginger can decrease blood pressure and acts as a blood thinner.
  • Digestion. Ginger promotes the production and secretion of bile from the liver and gall bladder, helping to improve your digestion of fats.
  • Free radical damage. Ginger is an amazing antioxidant and offers considerable protection against free radicals.
  • Radiation exposure. Ginger has been shown to protect your body from radiation, possibly in conjunction with its antioxidant capabilities.
  • High blood sugar. Ginger can help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • High cholesterol. One study found that ginger can lower blood cholesterol levels, possibly pointing to ginger as an effective treatment for heart disease.
  • Cancer. In lab tests, ginger extracts were found to destroy ovarian cancer cells. Another study found that the gingerols may inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer.

If you’re trying to overcome a craving for something sweet or salty, making this tea is a great way to get past grabbing for that twinkie!

Ginger & Miso Tea:

1-2 teaspoon freshly grated organic ginger root. Put grated ginger root in bottom of tea cup.

Pour 1-2 cups of water in a small pot, place on stove top, turn on burners to medium-high.

Grab your Organic Chickpea Miso, add 1-2 tablespoons to the pot of water.

Stir in Miso and wait for water to heat up. Again, DO NOT BRING WATER TO A BOIL! You’re just heating it to be hot water for your tea or soup.

Once the Miso starts ‘pillowing’ up to top of the water it is ready! Pour Miso tea water over top the freshly grated ginger root that is in the bottom of your tea cup & enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Nat

Week One of 30 Day Macrobiotic/Vegan Challenge Complete! Results Fantastic! *Quinoa Veggie Slaw Recipe

Happy Monday!
It’s day #7 and I’m feeling great! I am so much more clear-minded, energized, light, balanced, clean, strong, happy! This first 7 days was challenging but I took it one day-at-a-time and made it 7 days thus far, which I’m proud of! Also, I couldn’t have done this without the help and instruction from Kara Mejia! Check out her website www.cookingwithkara.com and blog www.naturalbodymakeover.com

Challenges: Learning how to prepare meals, learning what my daily meal plan would be, avoiding coffee, alcohol, processed snack foods, and eating when out and about.

What I did to overcome these challenges: Made a list of all the foods I’d include in my diet for the next 30 days. Combined these foods to make meals. Put meals into categories for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. Put these meals into an excel spreadsheet that listed Monday – Sunday what I’d eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. I then made a shopping food list according to the weekly meal plan and hit up the local health food stores (Trader Joe’s & Mom’s Organic Market). Once I got home I prepped/cooked large quantities of some of the staples or foundations of the meals that I’d be eating, such as brown rice, quinoa, ground roasted pumpkin seed, adzuki beans. This way I could have the food ready to go and all I’d have to do is combine foods according to the meal I wanted to make. I had my meal plan printed out and recipes close by so I could quickly prepare a meal.

I think the work week days are easiest because there is less temptation. On the weekends, you are out and about enjoying life and there are many temptations to stray from the vegan/macrobiotic lifestyle. Such as hanging out with friends or family gatherings. I just made sure to bring my own food with me if I was going out and about and would be hungry (like a green smoothie) or if I was going to a family gathering (crab feast cookout on Sunday w/beer & margaritas, a lot of temptation but I held strong!) I brought my own meal and water with lemon. I still had a great time at each outing this weekend, more focus on enjoying spending time with family and friends and being active. It’s a great way to live life to its fullest for sure!

Changes in Fitness & Body & Appearance:

The first few days I noticed a little less energy, this due in part to my body detoxing and cleansing itself as well as me still trying to figure out how to get enough calories/protein/energy for my daily activity and exercise. Once I got more of a handle on daily meals, I feel ‘light’ and energized, more focused and ready to take on the day. Refreshed. My skin complexion has improved, which was surprising because I already had a pretty good complexion. I’m maintaining my lean muscle mass while I’ve noticed my abs and arms have become more defined. After eating, I feel satisfied and don’t crave sweets or salty snacks as I used to. Also, the meals are so much easier on your digestive system and this adds to that energized feeling versus ‘crash’ or heavy feeling after eating a meal. Overall, I am impressed with the improvements after only 7 days and looking forward to this upcoming week.

Week One Summary:

I’d suggest this approach to nutrition to anyone. My goal is to improve my overall wellness and a more defined/strong physique. This approach to lifestyle and nutritional habits is also specifically beneficial to those who are looking to lose weight, decrease body fat, digestive system problems, and other concerns involving your health because the macrobiotic/vegan approach to diet helps to ‘balance’ your body’s alkaline/acidic levels which affect how your systems and organs function and interact. Thus having an affect on your mind, body, energy, spirit, and overall wellness! You learn how to combine foods properly for the best digestion and absorption of nutrients. You learn what foods will help you achieve more balance in pH and overall wellness, such as mental clarity and organs functioning properly. Drinking enough ‘clean’ (filtered) water is vital. An emphasis on ‘whole’ grains that are not processed such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, and amaranth. An emphasis on organics. An emphasis on little-to-no  added salt & sugar. An emphasis on dark leafy greens and vegetables according to your climate and season. Chewing food and taking the time to eat each meal. Getting daily exercise and breathing deeply to get more oxygen. Sea vegetables for nutritional content and minerals. Avoiding dairy, meats, poultry, eggs, and a little bit of fish is okay. Really taking into consideration the effect a specific food has on the body and if it is in line with your goals and ‘constitution’.

Favorite Recipe of Week One:

Quinoa & Veggie Slaw: (1 serving)

  • Organic Cooked Quinoa (1 portion = size of one clenched fist)
  • Organic Sliced Red Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Zucchini, diced celery, red onion, carrot & Kale lightly steamed in water in pan on stove top
  • Pumpkin seed – roasted and ground, blend in food processor or magic bullet with 1-2 tsp dulse flakes & pinch of sea salt.

Mix quinoa & veggies together with a few dashes of ume vinegar, juice of lemon, fresh cilantro, pepper, dill, basil, 1-2 tsp chickpea miso paste, & if desired 1-2 tbsp vegenaise. Cover bowl & let sit on countertop for 15-20 minutes so that flavors infuse dish. You can serve this mixture as is with the roasted ground pumpkin seed mix ontop, or you can ‘wrap’ in a leaf of collard green for a lettuce wrap.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a doctor. What I write in my blogposts is simply information that I have gathered over the years from reading and researching several health related topics from credible resources as well as personal experiences. I urge you to consult with a physician before changing your diet. The purpose of my blogposts are to share my experiences and fitness knowledge with everyone I possibly can to help others in their journey to improve their state of well-being.

Health & Happiness,

Nat

30 Day Vegan/Macrobiotic Challenge…the experiment begins!

Don’t judge or come up with an opinion about something until you’ve tried it! This is something I’ve had to remind myself when researching different healthful approaches to nutrition, exercise and lifestyle habits and/or programs.
SO…I’m embarking on 30 day challenge to see how taking a vegan/macrobiotics/whole & unprocessed foods approach to living will affect my energy levels, wellness, physique, lean muscle mass, body fat%, mental functioning, bodily systems/organs, physical fitness levels and so on.

I already consumed products somewhat ‘vegan’ for the better half of my days Monday -Friday. Oatmeal/vegan protein powder for breakfast, smoothie w/vegan protein powder and a salad for lunch, steamed veggies w/eggs or poultry or fish for dinner. So as you can see, for the most part, dinner was where I included animal product. So instead of eggs/poultry/fish/meat, I just needed to eat grains/legumes/beans/nuts/seeds in place of these animal products. Well, there is much more to it than that I found out!

I know that you need to eat a combination of seeds/nuts/beans/legumes/grains throughout the day when not including animal proteins/products in order to get sufficient minerals/vitamins/protein. However, since I do much more strength training than the average person, I really needed to monitor my macro-nutrient intake.

So I wrote down all of my ‘food options’, divided them up into categories (beans/legumes, grains, greens/vegetables, nuts/seeds/healthy fats, ‘superfoods’ & fruits, and ‘seasoning’). ‘WHOLE’ grains like brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth are a main staple for this diet plan. Greens & non-starchy veggies will also play a big role in the 30 Day Challenge. Greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and veggies such as carrots, cauliflower, onions, cucumbers, celery, daikon, and cabbage. Beans/legumes like lentils, chickpeas, adzuki and tofu are about 10% of daily diet. Seeds & nuts such as flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and walnuts as well as healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, and sesame oil are important as well but used in moderation. My ‘superfoods’ & fruits list consists of prunes, currants, Dulse flakes, dates, cacao powder, apples, wakame seaweed, kombu seaweed and Nori. Finally, ‘seasonings’ used sparingly such as miso paste & miso mayo, apple cider or ume vinegar, tamari, sea salt, dates, cacao powder, and as much fresh herbs as I want like cilantro, mint, parsley, and basil to add flavor to dishes.

Once I compiled a large list, I found out that most things like the grains and beans would need to be soaked and then cooked in a pressure cooker (pressure cooker cuts cooking time down by A LOT). I needed to avoid my processed products that I so dearly love (LOL), such as my protein powders, vitamins/minerals, fiber supplements, and caffeine such as coffee and also avoid using sweeteners as much as possible, also no alcohol. Also, I have to give up my beloved oatmeal for breakfast, but I’m replacing it with quinoa which I love!

I have already started to wean myself off of my coffee habit and incorporate more grains/beans/seeds and less protein powder. I thought I’d feel weak, but instead I’m slowly feeling clearer minded and more like my body is really using every bit of the food I eat to fuel my activities until my next meal. I’m still experimenting with correct daily amounts of grains/seeds/beans/legumes to ensure I have enough protein/calories by the end of the day. Like anything new, you learn as you go!

This 30 Day Challenge for me will be to experiment with ‘whole foods’ to see if my physical fitness levels & lean muscle mass can remain the same or even improve without the use of supplements such as protein powder or vitamin/mineral/other supplements. There are ‘vegan bodybuilders’ out there, so I know it is possible to achieve improvements in lean muscle mass while maintaining low body fat% but…from the vegan’s I’ve researched they did use vegan protein supplements and other supplements. So this will be a testament to see how I do with going completely ‘whole foods’ & as unprocessed as possible.

My Goal: To stick to the rules! This is a 30 Day cleanse/makeover/challenge and in no way do I plan on restricting my diet to this extreme after the 30 days is finished…BUT, I plan on taking a lot of what I learned and implementing it in my nutrition & lifestyle habits post-30 day challenge. Will I stay ‘vegan’? To be completely truthful…I doubt it…nothing personal to any ‘vegans’ but it seems very restricted and I don’t do well with extremes. I do want to lower the impact I have on the planet and the types of products I use to be of no harm to animals…we will see how much ‘veganism/macrobiotic’ I keep with me after the 30 days, how about that?

My other goal: To help you see how veganism/macrobiotic/whole foods/unprocessed foods can make a positive impact on your health and to possibly help others wean themselves off of a highly processed, junk food, red meat, artificial sweeteners/flavor/additives, pesticide/fertilizer/hormone/gmo ridden diet and ‘take a walk on the wild side’ and transition to more whole foods because all-in-all, I think that if your diet includes a majority of whole, unprocessed foods you will improve & experience a higher level of wellness!

Wish me luck & questions/comments/suggestions are appreciated & welcome!

Health & Happiness,

Natty Mac 😉

Lunch with Kara Mejia – Macrobiotics Chef – SO GOOD!

I met with an amazing woman yesterday. Her name is Kara Mejia and she is a macrobiotics chef/natural health advocate. She recently moved to the area from NC where she used to offer cooking classes to groups of people as large as 50 – 100 per class and has helped so many people get over disease, illness, overweight, or just feeling crappy all the time.


For lunch yesterday we had an Open face brown rice and lentil grain burger, Garden slaw with a kiss of red lady slipper apples… And sinfully delicious, chocolate, date truffles dusted in cocoa, coconut, and pecans…Sorry, no picture. We ate them all:) Next time …

After having lunch with her today (she prepared a meal for me personally in her very own home, what a treat!), I totally 100% can say I agree with her approach to nutrition and health and would recommend her to anyone looking for answers to their health & wellness dilemma’s or questions in general regarding nutrition and how macrobiotics can help.

She follows a vegan diet that consists of whole foods/unprocessed/prepared to avoid disturbing the enzymes/nutrients they contain that our bodies need. Her website is www.cookingwithkara.com and email is cookingwithkara@gmail.com. If you’d like to contact her in regards to your health or macrobiotics or whatever, she is amazing!

This Thursday she is offering (to anyone willing to commit & lives in the general Baltimore area) a 30 Day Cleanse/Challenge to get themselves on track and on the path to wellness. It will entail 6 consecutive Thursdays from 7-9pm in which she will teach cooking/prep/rotation know how & questions/answers and is supplying with a grocery list/plan to get you through the 30 days. It is similar to the ‘raw’ approach to diet in that you prepare foods in a way that your body can digest and obtain the vital nutrients it needs to function properly, but there is ‘cooked food’, look up ‘macrobiotics’ to get a better understanding or check out her website. If there was anything I’d ever suggest someone try out and give a go-ahead for 30 days, it would be this. She is ‘rolling out’ her business here and offering this 6 week (30 Day Challenge) FOR FREE only once. If you want to join me in this challenge, contact me a.s.a.p. so I can send you the details so that you can decide on whether you’d like to commit to this. Or contact Kara Mejia at the email I listed above.

Info, share with friends & family: 30 Day Natural Body Makeover beginning Thursday, April 26th, from 7 -9pm. This will be a 2 hour Introductory cooking and weight loss program re-introducing folks to the deliciousness of whole foods. It will run for 6 consecutive Thursday evenings and the best part…. It is absolutely FREE!!! For further details they can get in touch w/Kara directly by calling (706) 970-9505.

Kara also shared a book with me, in which I’ve already read a good amount of it, and I’d recommend to ANYONE and EVERYONE. It really helps spell out all the improvements/changes/ways to go about eating/diet to assist someone in becoming very knowledgeable on what is good and bad for the body! It’s called, ‘Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition” Third edition, by Paul Pitchford.

Health & Happiness!

Natty Mac

Tricks of the Trade…or shall I say TREATS!!!

Hi All,
If you are human, then there is no stopping those cravings for sweets! Don’t deprive yourself of what the good lord gave us, alter the ingredients a bit so that your treats have more nutritional benefits

As a lady, I of course love chocolate and crave some from time to time (every day, LOL!). So I make sure to include it in some of my meals. But, it must be high quality and “healthy” chocolate. RAW CACAO powder is absolutely fabulous to add to my protein shakes or fruit smoothies that I make daily. I get my chocolate fix without feeling guilty and my body reaps the benefits of this wonderful ingredient. Click Here to learn benefits of Raw Cacao Powder. I also drink Shakeology (Chocolate) for post workout or as a meal replacement when I’m in a rush, you can also blend it with frozen strawberries and ice and make a strawberry chocolate ice cream healthy treat! Check out Shakeology by clicking here! 

Coconut Oil or flour is an amazing ingredient to add to your daily consumption. It does have saturated fat but is a medium chain fatty acid and is metabolized by your liver differently, so it ends up being good for you (similar to how Olive Oil is good for you). You can use coconut for cooking, take a tablespoon for energy, great for your hair and skin, aids in weight loss, etc. Click here for the benefits of Coconut.

My favorite herbs, spices & natural flavors to jazz things up in the kitchen are:

  • Cinnamon – in smoothies, cook in steamed veggies and chicken, in oatmeal/couscous/quinoa, dash on salad
  • Basil & Scallions – chop fresh and sprinkle atop salads, veggies, omelettes
  • Cilantro – great blended in green smoothies and added to chicken
  • Rosemary & Thyme – cook with chicken and salmon
  • Cayenne pepper – use just a dash or two in veggies or scrambled eggs
  • Mint – blend in smoothies
  • Balsamic vinegar – dash on top of salad with spices for home-made dressing
  • Lime & Lemon – squeeze fresh juice on top salads, on cooked chicken and veggies, in water
  • Orange – Fresh squeezed juice and zest on top chicken while grilling/cooking it for a zing

Now for a great recipe I got from the World Wide Web…. Here is a great way to have your cake and eat it too! Pancakes that is!

Protein Pancakes

Ingredients (makes 5 pancakes)

9 medium egg whites
1 tub of natural fat free cottage cheese (8-9 oz.)
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons honey (or unrefined sugar, only if you must)
1 cup of oats

Cooking spray


Instructions

1) Combine egg whites, cottage cheese, sugar/honey, cinnamon and oats in a bowl and blend until smooth.

2) Now use a small omelet pan and spray with a cooking spray. On a medium heat pour in mixture until the bottom of the pan is completely covered.

Wait until small bubbles appear on top and then flip the pancake over and cook for another 2 minutes. Place cooked pancakes on a plate and cover w/another plate to keep heat in and keep cooked cakes warm while you finish cooking all pancakes.

Once you have all the pancakes cooked, you can top with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a side serving of your favorite fruit, apple/banana goes really well.

Women eat 2 of these pancakes as a meal. Men eat 3 as a meal.

Enjoy!
Nat