A Story About Maureen in Orlando

Orlando TampaSuch cool stuff happens at my nationwide traveling green smoothie class. I love visiting a city near you and telling stories and research and giving you ideas and incentives to add simple but life-changing habits to your routine.

In Orlando and Tampa, a lady named Maureen volunteered, to my staff, to make the green smoothie samples.

It’s a big job! Not only does she make 3 oz. of smoothie for each person–and our average audience size is 200–but she also provides me a blender, demo ingredients, and more. It’s shopping, blending, organizing, transporting, and serving.

Maureen ekes out a living buying and selling things at rummage sales. She isn’t living a country-club lifestyle. But she is a woman of service and integrity. She does what she says she’ll do.

Somehow she didn’t know that we actually PAY our volunteer to make the smoothies. She had agreed anyway, when Coach Jeanette asked her. She made them for Tampa, with her $20 yard-sale blender.

The next morning, she woke up and was panicked to realize she didn’t have enough money for gas to get to Orlando. So she prayed about it. She says she then went down to the parking lot, and $15 was lying on the ground.

She got stuck in traffic and arrived at the class an hour late. She set up the blender and demo ingredients behind me as I was lecturing.

totalblender-200x300As I went to give away the $435 Blendtec Total Blender we take to every class for one lucky person, Coach Jeanette was standing in the back. She’s an agnostic, not a praying person. But, as she told me later, she was putting out the hope into the universe with her every cell, that Maureen would win that blender. At that point only Jeanette knew Maureen’s circumstances. “Please, please, please,” she whispered, “let Maureen win.”

I pulled out a ticket and read it to the crowd.

Long silence. Maureen let out a tiny gasp. It was her number. She came up to claim the prize with tears in her eyes, speechless. I would learn from Jeanette, only later, what Maureen had been through to get smoothies to several hundred people an hour apart in Florida, two nights in a row.

I also would learn that Maureen was SHOCKED when Kristin paid her for giving her service to us and to the audience. She would have done it for free.

thankyou readers I **love** my readers. As Kristin often says (she works with 5 volunteers at every class), “GreenSmoothieGirl readers are a cut above.”

They are people committed to a life that transcends what “everybody else” is doing. They love sharing the good news about a plant-based diet with others. They are from all walks of life, all the strata of the economic spectrum.  But a desire to help others, and a love of nutrition and wellness, are what bring us together.

god blessMaureen, I don’t know if you read my blog. But if you do, please accept my thanks. I am most humbled to have been served by you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for your sacrifice. I know you’ll use that high-end Total Blender to benefit a lot of folks you meet. God bless you.

Next time, another story of cool stuff that happens at the GreenSmoothieGirl show, and a video I made with a young mama named Marlena who also won a blender in Redding, California.

Meditate your way to a new relationship between Self and Food

thepowerofhabitUpdate! I wrote after New Year’s about the sometimes-infuriating power of HABIT. At the time, I was turning right, instead of left, 95% of the time when I got to the top of my street. The city put a new through-street in, but years of having to go the other way controlled my brain for many weeks.

That week that I posted my goal, I was turning the quick way, the way that doesn’t waste gas and time, 80% of the time! Immediately!

And, no offense to Matthew (who loves pain as a change agent), I didn’t even have to snap my pony tail elastic  on my wrist every time I went the wrong direction. (His idea.)

It’s the power of INTENTION. And WRITING DOWN YOUR GOALS. I wrote here, in this public place, about my previous failure and what I want for the future, and that deepened my intention. Now I’m virtually always remembering to turn left.

(My other dumb New Year’s resolution was to completely give up gum. I know, it’s New Year’s Resolutions, not Lent. But I don’t think gum chewing is good, so I ditched it, cold turkey, bye-bye. So far, so good.) State your intention here of a change you want to make, and maybe that will help you shift!goals

12 Steps to Whole Foods is the how and why of the best nutritional practices in the world. Habits and recipes and how-to that leads to youthfulness, longevity, ideal weight, healthy digestion, and optimal energy.

We arm you with best practices, and 1,000 recipes in every category imaginable. But until we address your heart and mind, we’ve won only half the battle.

The fact is, we mistreat only things we do not value. What conclusion, then, do we draw from the fact that many people—most, in fact—abuse and sabotage our bodies daily?

We live in a culture where we are bombarded with images to compare ourselves to. Movie stars, models, airbrushed falsehoods. We’re given a very narrow range of physical characteristics that are socially desirable.

12_Steps_CourseIt’s no wonder so many turn away, in despair, and self-medicate with terrible food. Food that accelerates aging, spikes our disease risk, packs on 20 lbs or more, and makes us feel terrible.

The 12 Steps Meditations is a companion to the 12 Steps Course. But we offer it separately, unlike some of the pieces in the course, because it is my love letter to you.

It is intended to help you rethink and resolve your issues with living inside your body.

Through repetition, and a loving voice, I want you to shift your beliefs towards a love for the beautiful temple that houses your amazing spirit. Only then can you begin to make wise daily choices, within our 12 Steps program, to honor that temple.

I worked on these meditations for nearly two years. And finally I collaborated with my dear friend, a professional voice talent and a phenomenal musician, Carolyn Lundberg, who recorded them, set to beautiful, inspiring music.meditation love

Please listen to them every day, in your car or on your iPod. Let the complete redesign of your psyche, regarding how you view yourself and your body, take place over a short time.

This is the most singular “labor of love” I have created to date, among many information products. Creating them with Carolyn was a very emotional experience. I hope you are profoundly changed for the better by these meditations. My intent is to honor the divine in you, my friend.

Top 10 legumes, part 3 of 4

legume wordHere’s a primer on using some of my favorite whole foods with a weird name, pronounced “lay-gooms.” Eating a lot of these, along with lots of greens, vegetables, and fruits leads to finding your ideal weight. Everything about them is perfect for weight loss! They are bulky, high in fiber, low in calories, and high in micro-nutrients. Legumes in general are high in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and calcium.

lentilsLentils. My lentil soup with cooked carrots and celery and onion, in Ch. 6 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods is the best thing ever. Lentils are truly a super food. And you can buy the red, green, or brown varieties, all of which have a slightly different nutritional profile and texture. Brown lentils are the most common and least expensive. You don’t need to soak lentils, like beans. They’re high in fiber, protein, Vitamins B1, B5, B6, niacin, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese.

split peasSplit Peas. They’re so easy to use in soup–and please leave the bacon out! In my next post, I’ll share my split pea recipe. They take about an hour to cook and are called ‘split peas’ because when they’re harvested and dried, they naturally split in half. They are high in protein, fiber, Vitamin B1 and B5, potassium, and phosphorus.

Black Beans. Everyone’s favorite legume. I love to add it to guacamole and salsa as a dip, or mash for a burrito. High in protein, Vitamin B1, iron, folate, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc and manganese.

black eyed peasBlack-Eyed Peas. Most people in the Northern states don’t know this delightful little legume, but they cook in an hour or less. I grew up with a bowlful, plus a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar, being dinner! They’re high in fiber, protein, four B vitamins, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc and manganese.

pinto 2Pinto Beans. These might be the cheapest legume you can buy, and easy to store. I grew up with this food as a staple that raised 8 children to adulthood on one military salary. Big pots of vegetarian chili are one of my main memories of growing up. Pinto beans are high in fiber, protein, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, B1, and molybdenum.

Kidney Beans. These are my favorite for adding to a salad, as they taste very starchy, which is a nice complement and balance to crunchy greens and vegetables. Plus they’re pretty and dark red. A mix of these and pinto beans are great in vegetarian chili. They are high in fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins B1, B3, B5, and calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron.

chick peasChickpeas (Garbanzo Beans). Everybody loves hummus, and there are so many things you can put in mashed chickpeas with a little lemon juice, sea salt, and tahini (sesame paste): sundried tomatoes or any kind of olives, for instance. I also love them in salads. They’re low in calories and high in protein, fiber, manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, and iron.

soy beansSoybeans. Soybeans are heavily genetically modified in North America, so buy ONLY organic to make sure you’re getting the good available from this food, and not the bad. Soybeans are extremely high in protein, so for many years, vegetarians made use of soy-based “meat replacement” products. I suggest avoiding all processed soy products and eating only whole, organic, occasional soybean foods such as edamame, tofu, or tempeh, or organic miso or nama shoyu as seasonings. Soybeans are well known to be high in isoflavones, a class of antioxidants known to be anti-cancer that ease hormonal symptoms in women and increase bone density. They’re also high in fiber, calcium, Vitamin B2, manganese, molybdenum, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and omega-3 fats.

lima beansLima Beans. Called “butter beans,” these large Peruvian beans make a nice soup with onions and root vegetables (potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc.), or they’re great mashed in a burrito or with sweet potatoes. They’re high in protein and fiber, as well as folate, molybdenum, tryptophan, manganese, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin B1.

mung beansMung Beans.  Ayurvedic doctors feed this to sick people because they’re such a power food. It’s easy to sprout these tiny beans; just soak them overnight, drain in the morning, and rinse and rotate them twice a day until you see “tails” about ¼” long. In two days, you’ve got a superfood for your salads and sandwiches. They’re chock full of protein, fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, iron, and phosphorus.

Everything you need to know about legumes, part 2 of 4

square legsMatthew wrote me and said instead of telling people to eat legumes, I need to tell people what legumes are, and what the best 10 are.

That last part, the best 10, is somewhat subjective. I will tell you, nonetheless, 10 great legumes, because this whole class of food is HIGHLY UNDERRATED. That’s my next blog post. For now, I’m going to tell you some reasons to commit to eating this food group regularly.

heart legumesThey’re cheap, they’re high in fiber, they’re high in micro-nutrients, they’re filling, they’re low in calories, and they’re easy to obtain, worldwide. They store well and have a long shelf life, especially split peas and many beans.

They’re great for your heart. They have nutrients and fiber that can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and help you lose weight.

Eat a cup a day of cooked legumes, or more!

You can eat them in soups and stews, add cooked or sprouted ones to salads, or grind dry ones for bread or baked goods to substitute for part of the grains. I have LOTS of recipes in Ch. 6 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods with fabulous main dishes that deliciously leverage legumes.

They generally take an hour to cook, some even longer. But I highly recommend cooking your own, rather than buying them canned. Not only will you save money, but you’ll avoid sodium and any weird phthalates and other stuff leaching from the inside of the can.

Cook a big giant batch, to save time, and save 1 cup servings in Ziploc baggies in the freezer.

blacksalsguacI like to add black beans and salsa to guacamole, so that I can eat lots of it on homemade organic corn chips. Then I’m guilt-free about the high calories and fat in guacamole. (I usually eat a whole avocado in one sitting. It’s very nearly a perfect food!)

I like to add chick peas (garbanzo beans) to salads. I love all varieties of lentils in soups. Find a few ways that you love to eat legumes!

Rinse legumes very well before putting fresh water on them to cook. They are amazingly dirty when they come out of the bag. Beans need to soak overnight (legumes lentils and split peas don’t). Or, bring clean beans to a boil, turn it off, and let them soak two hours, to speed up the process. If they have been in your storage for years, I recommend soaking them, draining the water, and soaking them a second time, for up to a whole day. This makes flatulence less likely, which is a significant risk of eating really old beans.

beans soakFlatulence comes from the oligo saccharides sugars in the beans not converting well a form of sugars your body can use easily. Soaking the beans before cooking makes them easier to digest.

To cook them, drain the soak water, and add at least 3 cups of water for every 1 cup you originally had of dry beans. Cook as much as you want, but remember that 1 cup of dry beans will become about 2.5 cups of cooked beans! Put clean, soaked beans in a heavy saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, keep covered, and cook until beans are tender.

For lentils or split peas, this will be about 45 minutes. For beans, it will be 2-3 hours, or for very old beans, it could be 4 hours.

Don’t add acidic things to your beans until they are fully cooked. Add tomatoes, vinegar, salt, or lemon juice later; otherwise it inhibits the beans cooking.

Edit: Corrected a typo above about soaking legumes.

On the Epic Price of Bad Food

images-26I’m running through tiny towns near pastoral Nidda, Germany, early in the morning in mid-November through a frost-bitten field of collard greens. Past a stream full of tiny, white-as-snow ducklings, cowbells clanking in the distance.

Or I’m winning a doubles match in an 11-9 third-set tiebreaker. Or losing it. Doesn’t matter, for the purpose of this little essay.

Or I’m bending myself in half, with the tops of my feet on the floor over my head, a yoga pose called the Plow.

I often want to put the scenes from my life, just a few from the last couple of months, in my back pocket, for later recall.

My LIFE! I only get ONE! I want to live it OUT LOUD doing new things, doing outrageous service that helps others! Meeting new amazing people all the time! Putting stuff on the bucket list and checking it off.

In these moments, like the frosty morning with the amazing white ducklings, I often think about the majority of people around me immobilized by their appetites. Salt, sugar, refined fats, MSG and aspartame have sidelined millions of people from the most rewarding parts of life. They don’t know what they’re missing! Or they do—but they think this cool stuff is for OTHER people.

images-28When you fuel your body right, do you know you make more money? Dream bigger? Experience more JOY? Actualize more goals? Live more authentically in your relationships? Act true to yourself more? Attract more good people in your life?

When I was fat and ate the S.A.D., my life was a flat line. Sure, it’s AGONY to lose a third-set tiebreaker after a 2.5-hour match, which I didn’t have when I couldn’t run a city block at age 26.

But ecstasy and agony are what gives life rich complexity.

I wouldn’t trade the highs and lows of the life I have now, for the flat-liner life I had then. Eating ice cream and watching TV and not much else. Wouldn’t trade for a million bucks.

I say this not to judge. I say it to encourage, to help you dream of finding that health, peace, spine-bendy, giddy, loving-to-be-in-my-skin quality you once had and CAN BE HAD AGAIN.

images-30I taught a wellness class recently. A lady raised her hand, after I made a passionate plea for a shift in lifestyle and diet. “I’m in my 50’s. Is it too late for me?” she asked.

“That’s the exciting thing!” I said. “A year from now, you will have replaced virtually every cell in your body! You will, in a very literal sense, be a completely different person! So, you can and should start RIGHT NOW and expect to see RADICAL CHANGES, and soon!”

In just 90 days, you’ll have a completely new liver. A GSG reader named Jeremy, in Dallas, recently found out he has Fatty Liver Disease, NAFLD. He tells me it’s a silent epidemic, and kids as young as 10 have it. He’s undertaken a 45-day juice feast, and a 45-day raw vegan diet after that. He intends to have a brand-new, clean, lean liver, so he can be playing basketball when he’s 65.

I said, why stop at 65? I know 80-yo basketball players who go to the Senior Games. You can be the most competitive you’ve EVER been, at that age! Because 99% of the competition is in a La-Z Boy or dead!

images-32In Europe, far fewer people are overweight. In Switzerland especially. I said this to the Swiss, and they laughed at me and said, “One in four of our schoolchildren are overweight!” Well, there’s a bakery on every corner.

I think they seem so thin to me partly out of relative comparison (70 percent in the U.S. are now overweight or obese), and partly because they ALL SMOKE. Seriously, I’ve never been around so much smoking.

And they drink coffee. So those two things make you sick (and they are sick, just like we are), but not fat. I choke on the exhaust in European cities, where there are no emission controls—Prague and Budapest, in Eastern Europe, are the worst.

When I see an obese fellow planet-dweller, American or Euro, I don’t feel condescending; I feel sad. I simply have this thought:

images-29“You are missing all the good stuff, my brother.”

Besides momentary pleasure on the tongue, sick foods rob us of nearly all the other pleasures of life. You know that “flow” of doing meaningful work you get lost in? It’s one of my favorite things in life.

Getting deep in a project. Pure PRODUCTIVITY, utilizing your talents. Challenging your brain, grabbing references off the shelf and looking them up, absolutely lost to the world. Getting thoughts on paper. Those are MY favorite projects, research and writing.

When your head hurts and you have no energy, FLOW is lost. Sleep apnea and fatigue mean that sitting through a play, or a movie, isn’t pleasurable like it should be.

Even sex isn’t the sweaty, athletic, joyous thing it’s meant to be.

images-33You see all the losses? The Standard American Diet adds up to nothing more than a pathetic mountain of loss.

I think sometimes that Americans are mice trapped in a labyrinthine maze. Nobody protests. We just eat the pellets we’re fed and walk around in the maze as directed. Asking no questions, following all the other mice.

Hop the wall of the maze with me, friend. Let me help pull you up. Hang around the GSG blog, come to our classes, do my 12 Steps course, never stop learning and practicing.

 

 

How I Beat My Sugar Addiction

sugar enticingDear GreenSmoothieGirl: Please do an article on the dangers of artificial sweeteners. I am trying to stop eating sugar, but am SO weak!  I’ve been reading some recommended books, and trying to exercise willpower, and I still struggle.   I’m curious what your process was, that led to success, and how you’ve been able to stay off sugar.  I could do it before I had kids, but now it seems SO much harder. I’d love to hear your tips of how she was able to enjoy family time, birthdays, holidays, etc, without the sugar.

–Dixie

Answer: You got it, Dixie. First, today, the “how I did it” part of your question. Then, tomorrow, some data download on the artificial sweeteners and why they’ll kill ya. I’ll review aspartame (Nutrasweet), Truvia, Splenda, saccharin, maltitol, and stevia.

HOW I BEAT MY SUGAR ADDICTION

I really believe that to truly kick the sugar addiction, you have to go off it permanently, cold-turkey. Can an alcoholic just “cut back?” Can a cocaine addict do lines “just on the weekend?”

no sugar pleaseI’m not saying you will NEVER eat sugar again. (I can’t handle that thought either. I have come further than most, though, to say, “I will not eat it for a year.” Don’t think too far in the future. Think about a long period of time, though. Something that hurts your brain a little. Something challenging.)

What I AM saying is, as long as it’s going to be a casual indulgence, it’s going to be an addiction.

It doesn’t work like that, casually. Addiction to chemicals hijack the brain. It makes us less than we are. It makes us feel we have no “willpower” and aren’t in control of our weight, our life, our health.

Is it worth it? Is sugar worth the price we pay? Academically, we all know it isn’t.

One day, I got completely out of the sugar rat race. It was Sept. 11, 2011. Matthew Flinders and I bet $10,000 that we wouldn’t eat sugar for a year.

When the option was off the table, I stopped thinking about it. It’s so incredibly rare that I even think about sugar now. Seriously. It takes a matter of DAYS before you just quit thinking about it. (Why think about it? Is there a cookie that’s worth $10,000? There isn’t, right?)

comboI have other treats I *could* have. I love COCO MOJO in hot water with COCONUT MILK POWDER. (So much that I put it in my store.) I have a mug full at my computer nearly every day in the winter. After I have my green smoothie or veggie juice.

I have agave-sweetened coconut-milk “ice cream” in my freezer, and a fruit-juice sweetened dark-chocolate hot fudge in my refrigerator. It’s legal, I could eat it every day if I wanted, but sometimes it’s there for months and gets freezer burned. Ditto a case of maltitol-sweetened cookies that are in my closet, haven’t touched them in months.

It’s important to know I COULD IF I WANTED. I just don’t really care, most of the time.

“Ah,” you’re thinking, “now you’ve lost me. You’re not like me. I really don’t see the point in living, if it doesn’t involve my daily treats.”

sugar thoughtsNo, listen. I get it. I don’t know if anyone was a bigger sugar addict than me. Writing that treats sit in my freezer and closet are a big triumph, since I was a lifelong sugar addict. I have deep fillings in all my molars to prove it. Did I fight it more successfully than most? Yes, by sheer will. Like a daily arm wrestle. But in MY OWN RESEARCH, 65% of green smoothie drinkers have fewer cravings for sweets and processed food.

I, my friend, was in the 35%. I still wanted my damn treat.

But here’s something true. A weird thing happens when you get off REFINED sugar. All sugar seems less interesting.

I’m just not interested in brownies anymore. (OMG! Thank you for asking me this question, Dixie! I’ve been thinking about so many MORE INTERESTING THINGS THAN BROWNIES the past 18 months, I hadn’t even realized…….brownies aren’t interesting anymore, and my brain is occupied by better stuff now!)

At first, I’d go to a family birthday or Christmas or any number of other holiday parties, and just not dare LOOK at the dessert table. Now it doesn’t matter. I might look, but I don’t feel the cravings. Now when I look at mint chocolate brownies (my former favorite), it looks like a bunch of chemicals and food colorings and stuff. While I do have lots of memory of pleasure associated with that food, it isn’t particularly tempting.

readers-favorite-healthy-recipes-vol-1-350x350I enjoy celebrating, still. I eat the dinner, just not the dessert. If I were still in a place of feeling deprived, I’d take my own (raw, yummy, chocolately) treat. You can do that. Get our READERS FAVORITES books, or check out Ch. 11 of 12 STEPS TO WHOLE FOODS.

I’m over halfway through Year 2 on the Sugar Bet. Matthew did Year 1 with me as a test of his willpower–he loves games and contests–and didn’t want to do it forever. So I had to get Natalie Harris to do it with me as my first bet ended.

This year, I’m allowed to have sugar one day a month. Honestly, in 2013, thus far, I haven’t seen anything I wanted to eat enough to “use” my day. I’m banking them.

happy without sugarI’m not saying I’ll never eat sugar again. If I go to Las Vegas and get to the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan? Totally worth it. Ditto a five-star all-inclusive resort in Mexico, on a vacation.

But I am saying, it’s the nicest feeling in the world to (a) have sugar cravings no longer intruding into my thoughts, demanding my brain functions I need for higher things, making me ridiculously obsess about WILL I OR WON’T I TODAY?

And it’s the nicest feeling in the world to (b) discover that not only is life worth living without sugar? It’s just better.

My life is so much better without sugar.

I didn’t lose weight when I ditched sugar. (I ate little of it anyway. But I spent far more time THINKING about wanting to eat sugar and BATTLING it, than actually DOING it. This might be the definition of ANNOYING.)

I weighed 135-137 then, and I weigh 135-137 now.  I don’t really feel any different. I felt great then, and now.

incharge(I had learned MANY years ago to never, ever do it on an empty stomach. That made me sick from the time I was a hypoglycemic kid. I finally wised up and stopped doing it by my mid-20’s. Then I had a long phase of still eating sugar, but only after a healthy meal. Then a long phase of not eating sugar regularly, but still sometimes.)

So why am I still THRILLED that I’ve been totally “off sugar” for 18 months, if I didn’t lose weight or feel any different?

Because now I am in charge of my life. Only after getting free of the sugar demon am I able to look back and realize how CONTROLLED I was by Sugar’s pushy, interruptive, bossy presence in my life.

It was a gradual process, to realizing that I don’t hate my life without sugar.

You won’t either. Promise.