Be the Change….part 3 of 3

Can we talk about ways to walk against the current because we want to Be the Change? I hope you’ll share your ways too, so we can all learn from you.

On airplanes, I hate that they keep bringing everyone cup after cup of water. I keep my cup and ask for refills. (I wish I could bring water from home, but obviously that’s not possible.) Flight attendants say, “I’ll bring you a fresh one,” and I explain, “No thanks, I’m trying to make a small carbon footprint.”

Some just give me a strange look because they may not be familiar with the term. I don’t know where it comes from, but to me it means walking lightly on the earth. Not leaving deep tracks that hurt the next generations. Minimizing the amount of fossil fuels that had to be pulled out of the Earth just because I lived here.

I don’t want to take more than my “fair share” of resources. It means I don’t use stuff with lots of packaging.

What are things YOU do, to opt out of so much use of fossil fuels, so many throw-away items heaping up the landfills, so much excess?

Some of mine:

I always re-use water bottles (until I lose them or they break). I fill them with filtered, alkaline water from home, rather than the kind that has to be flown and trucked all over the world. (And which cost twice as much as gasoline, by the way!) When traveling, I try to buy gallons of filtered water rather than water bottles. Over 1 million water bottles go to landfills daily.

I refuse the napkin they give you with the drink on airplanes. In a restaurant, I take just one napkin, and look for ways to minimize the amount of throw-away stuff I’m given to hold my food.

I avoid overeating.

I eat plants, since eating animals is one of the most unsustainable practices there is. (It takes 20 lbs. of plants, and 1,000 gallons of water, to make 1 lb. of meat!)

I reuse grocery bags indefinitely. I refuse them if my items can fit in my purse. Or I take my reuseable ones.

I buy very little that comes in boxes or cans.

I recycle.

I don’t take a newspaper anymore and choose paperless billing.

I garden, organically.

I compost. I take other people’s bags of leaves, and compost them, too. (I let my own leaves compost in the lawn.)

I don’t spray for bugs.

I use organic, biodegradable cleaners and soaps.

I teach my kids to do all this stuff.

I would love to hear your ways of leaving a smaller carbon footprint? I want to learn more, do more.

Hunger Games….on “being the change”….part 2 of 3

Are we obsessed with rich food? With how everything tastes?

I promise you, we are.

The thing everyone wants to talk to me about, when I’m out running errands or at an event, is how green smoothies don’t taste that bad. (Well, sure, they taste GREAT if you put half a cup of agave in and just a handful of spinach into a mostly-fruit smoothie.) At my house, we push the limits, maximizing greens and superfoods. Minimizing fruits. I’m okay with any green smoothie that’s even a little better than Completely Revolting.

I am thrilled when someone wants to talk about anything ELSE but how green smoothies taste. A lady after my VIP class told me she just can’t gag them down, and asked my advice. “Stop eating sugar,” I said. “It has ruined the way you taste all food.”

Why is this my least-favorite topic, besides the fact that it’s just so constant? Because, truth be told….I COULDN’T CARE LESS how green smoothies taste. My kids probably think I’m callous, but I tell them,

“Everything we eat isn’t because it tastes good. Most of what we eat is because our body needs it. Once in a while we eat something primarily because of how it tastes. Not always!” Not that we have to eat terrible-tasting food. I like most of my food. But, everything doesn’t have to be rich, and everything doesn’t have to be sweet!

Outside my family, though? On the rare occasion I actually say that to someone—not everything we eat has to taste good—I mostly get a blank stare.

Today at the gym, the other mom running next week’s dinner for my son’s high school baseball team approached me about what we’re going to serve. Keep in mind that the dinner will be held at my house. She said, “You don’t eat meat, right? Because you’re supposed to provide the meat.” She offered to bring it over and grill it—till I told her the ex-husband took the grill 4 years ago and I haven’t replaced it. I told her, “I’ll pay for whatever you want to serve, but I can’t touch or cook it, okay? Can I bring a big green salad?”

Baseball Mom (B.M.) said, “Ummm, no, they won’t eat it.”

I said, “Really? Because last year I hosted one of the dinners and I made a salad and it was GONE.”

B.M. said, “Um, I’ll ask my son. But last time I made a salad they just LOVED. So I’ll just bring that.” I said, “Does it have bacon in it?”

(I know, I know. That was a little catty. My next comment was even worse. Wait for it.)

“No,” she said. “It’s canned fruit with Cool Whip.”

So I say……”Okay… it’s a dessert, then, not a salad.”

I know. Like I said, in hindsight, pretty catty. I wasn’t having the greatest day. Wow, that was a lame excuse. I can’t think of anything better though.

“No. It’s a SALAD,” she said, clearly annoyed.

During the course of the day, it is then explained to me, by several mothers, in so many words, that what we serve at the baseball dinners is meat, something really sugary or fatty, and a dessert. This is NOT the place for whole foods to rear their ugly little heads.

Now if you’ve been to a couple of my lectures lately, you’ll find this next bit kinda funny. Later in the day today, B.M. texted me, apparently really worried that if she didn’t manhandle the menu, some renegade vegetables might show up:

“Hey Robyn, will you make Cheesy Potatoes, also called Funeral Potatoes, to the baseball dinner next week?”

When I give away Readers’ Favorites books at my lectures, I’ve been telling about the favorite (and WORST) Mormon recipe of all time: the Funeral Potatoes. I tell how I didn’t know, until I was asked to make the dish for a funeral recently, what’s in it. Sour cream, cheddar cheese, butter, margarine, cream-of-poison soup, and potato chips! All in one dish! OMG! I thought they were called funeral potatoes because Mormons serve them at funerals! I didn’t realize the name is because they CAUSE funerals.

So yeah, it’s my new schtick to talk about that at classes. Because it gets a laugh, and I’m kinda cheap like that. Poke fun at my own people. You can get away with it as long as you’re one of ’em.

So, I’m really not kidding that today I got that text. Asking me to prepare funeral potatoes to feed my own offspring and boys trying to hit heavy little balls over a tall fence hundreds of feet away.

I don’t want to live in the dystopia. I don’t want to be controlled by the ridiculous excesses of the excessively affluent and spoiled, numbed-out world I was born into. I won’t be sucked into it. Kristin says I shouldn’t answer the text (I haven’t, yet) and just bring a salad anyway. It’s my dang house the dinner is being held at, after all.

Be the change with me.

The Hunger Games, and “Being the Change”….part 1 of 3

Ben and I saw The Hunger Games recently. I’d resisted the national obsession with reading the books. Partly because, call me a snob, I didn’t want to read “kids’ books” with my precious, limited reading time. I’m a grownup, and I want grownup challenges from my cerebral functions. Partly because I feel terribly guilty if I read fiction—even on vacation, I invariably read one or more nutrition / health books.

But I was enthralled by the movie. Disturbing premise, but I was moved and fascinated by the two protagonists’ ability to navigate an unthinkably inhumane situation, with humanity and grace and compassion.

I was fascinated by the obvious reflections on our culture—hedonism, haute fashion, reality TV, grand disparities between rich and poor, movement towards government control and away from freedom—I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

So I went home and took the first two books in the trilogy on our trip to Cancun, devoured them. If you’ve not read them or seen the movie, be warned. They are about a reality-TV series where a nation’s Capitol requires its outlying districts to select a boy and a girl by lottery, to go into an arena and fight, with a total of 24 children, to the death.

Right after I finished the first book, I received an email from one of my closest friends from college. Tryn and I were very studious, oldest-child-from-big-Mormon-families English majors. Both of us have continued as writers, and each raised four children—but she has been a homemaker.

The email attached her critique and analysis of The Hunger Games. The story is a dystopia, she says, Panem being of course a desperate, distorted, futuristic North America after much destruction, the capitol reorganized in the Rocky Mountains.

Of course it is. (I confess I’d never heard the word dystopia, but recognize in the Latin prefix that it means the opposite of a Utopia. What else besides a society that’s your worst nightmare, would choose children from a lottery to murder each other in an arena, for everyone’s television entertainment?)

How far are we from Panem’s Capitol’s nauseating excesses are we, really? We certainly have brutal, inhumane reality TV shows.

The cosmetic surgeries, pills, potions, obsession with spa treatments, fashion excesses of the Capitol—think Lady GaGa, and Madonna, Tryn points out.

And food! A society on the decline, Tryn states, is marked by its obsession with gourmet food. Look at our proliferation of restaurants. People eat in them more than they eat at home with their families now.

There is a heavy preoccupation with food in The Hunger Games trilogy—constant feasts for the “tributes” (those who are being prepared for the reality-show competition, to remind the districts that the Capitol will destroy any rebellion).  Even while most of the nation’s districts under the thumb of the totalitarian regime are starving to death.

More this week.

Anti-Nutrients….are you letting them scare you off whole foods? part 1 of 3

One of the more infuriating aspects of nutrition education is the highly confusing anti-nutrients debate.

For example, hot issues include but are not limited to….

Grains have PHYTATES.

Spinach has OXALATES.

Apple seeds have CYANIDE.

Legumes have PURINES.

Broccoli and cabbage have GOITROGENS.

Dr. Mercola propagates a bunch of needless fear, attacking all grains and some vegetables because they contain an anti-nutrient. He creates fear about lots of whole foods people have eaten for centuries. And then he moves on to leverage that to sell whey protein (an over-popular, highly refined food).

Keep in mind that I feel some of Mercola’s stuff is brilliant, important, and well researched. Some of it is salesy, with shoddy thinking/research. Sometimes I wonder if he doesn’t watch over his staff writers very well…..

No one addresses this issue more logically, than my friend Jim Simmons, whose book Original Fast Foods is a great addition to your library. Because it’s excellent, well researched, and comprehensive, with good recipes. It’s the closest thing out there to the diet I teach. There are lots of raw-food recipe books, but people burn out from how labor-intensive they can be. Eating cooked legumes and whole organic grains is a way to eat a whole-foods diet without burnout, and with the high-fiber, high-nutrition, low-effort gains of, for instance, split peas, lentils, and black beans. I am suspect of any eating plans that ban such foods. I advocate for 60-80% raw plant foods—but I feel that some cooked vegetables, legumes, and grains are a wonderfully healthy part of a good disease-preventative diet, as evidenced by long history.

Here’s what Jim said to me via email, when I posted on the goitrogens issue last July:

“Research now supports the idea that anti-nutrients are nature’s way of helping us to be more intuitive in our eating patterns. For instance, some spinach is really good for you, but as you consume too much, the level of oxalates will build up in your bloodstream to a point that a signal will be sent to your brain and then a signal is sent from the brain to your endocrine system. The long and the short is, you will lose your appetite for spinach until the level of oxalates drop sufficient that your taste for spinach is turned back on….don’t get too complicated in your eating habits.”

I agree with Jim. Anti-nutrients are in most, if not all, whole foods. This does not mean they are bad, scary, or to be avoided. God put them in the food for a reason.

Tomorrow I’ll write about each of those anti-nutrients.


I think if you own these two very special recipe books, you’ll never need to buy another! They’re that big and varied and exciting. We’ve been working on these collections for many months! It’s nearly 500 of my readers’ FAVORITES in every category imaginable. 100% of the recipes are vegetarian and only whole foods. 90% are gluten free. 85% are vegan. And 55% are totally raw.

Recipe books compiled from many families’ “favorites” are the very BEST books—but there were no “favorites” books compiled of 100% HEALTHY recipes! So I set about to compile and edit just such a book—-but you were all so helpful, it ended up being two volumes, wow!

Volume 1

Breads, Muffins/Scones, Pancakes, Cereals, Milks and Creams, “Cheeses,” Salsas, Sauces, Relishes, Cookies, Candy, Bars, and Balls, Chips and Crackers, Dips and Spreads, Munchies, Smoothies, and Other Drinks

Volume 2

Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Chili, Soups, Stews, Sandwiches, Salads (types: Green, Fruit, Veggie, Pasta, Grain, Legume), Dressings, Desserts (Pies, Cakes, Frostings, Frozen Treats, Puddings and Custards, Other Desserts)

Thanks you to all those of you who contributed!

Want to test our new Meal Planner / Shopping Lists book?

We’ve been hard at work, for months, on a companion booklet for 12 Steps to Whole Foods, that has 4 weeks of Menus, with Prep Notes, tips for saving time and money, and 4 weeks of corresponding shopping lists. It also has a list of store types that we shop at, and suggestions for which stores to buy whole-foods ingredients in.

We broke down the costs, and for a family of 4, we spent $100/week on groceries. There goes the idea that eating whole foods isn’t affordable!

We’ve had the request often to develop menu plans / shopping lists from people who are new, from people who don’t cook much, and from people who are used to the “diet” methodologies. (You know I’m resistant to that last thing….but on the other hand, I’m a believer in giving people what they want if it isn’t hurting anyone!)

So, would you like to test the planner for us? Just email and if you’re one of the first 10 to ask, Jenni or Jackie will send you a PDF copy.

To participate, you should already have 12 Steps to Whole Foods (and preferably you’ve been working in the course for a while–though that isn’t necessary).

What we ask from you is FEEDBACK after you follow the plan for a month. Anything and everything. Typos, recipes that made too much or too little, things you thought were too much work, ideas, give it all to me!

We’ll be happy to give you credit in the Foreword of the book as one of the editors, plus the printed copy of the book when it’s done.

And if there is any really ambitious 12 Stepper out there who wants to help in a bigger way (we’ll compensate you if you’re chosen), we wouldn’t mind having another 4 weeks of menu plans and shopping lists. Just tell Jenni that you’re interested in working for us on that.