raw food made easy: new vids on the site

How do you make decisions about whether to buy organic or not? What do you choose in the greens section of the grocery stores where you shop? How much do you pay? What do I do with the rest of the plant when I buy root vegetables? What are some new things you can put in your smoothies when you get bored?

Check out my two new videos now on the site addressing these issues and giving you a tour through the produce section of one of my favorite local stores:

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/videos3.html

My favorite part is where I randomly (I did not plan it, I promise) make friends with an elderly shopper named Elizabeth and sell her on raw food made easy with the green smoothie habit. (Don’t chase people down at your grocery store who look like they need help. They won’t appreciate it. But when you are making a video in the grocery store with a film crew, and someone expresses interest, open your mouth and start talking, because you just might be in her path for a reason that day!) :-)

Happy Thanksgiving! And (yum yum yum!) do you like hot cocoa?

This morning I’m compiling my kids’ Christmas wish lists to brave Black Friday early in the morning with my girlfriend. (Gulp. I haven’t done that in 15 years.) I’m putting together the big vegetable plate (okay, I’m taking the plastic off the Costco one I bought) and making a giant fruit salad, as my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s.

I love when they give me that assignment–okay, raw fruits/vegs are ALWAYS my assignment–because then I know we won’t have a completely heavy, cooked meal. I have my kids fill their first plate up with the good stuff and then (gotta balance my wishes for them to be healthy with reality!) I let them do whatever else they want. I’m always interested to hear how YOU find that balance with your kids. It’s tricky in the modern world for sure. I hear from some of you that you get criticized for being “controlling” if you want to require good nutrition. (Check. Been there.)

Find the balance–it’s not easy, but giving up on health and nutrition is no answer either. Where the balance is, in your situation, is unique, but if you’re a mom or a dad, you’ll be given the intuition to navigate it as gracefully as possible. We’re all flawed. All we can do as parents is TRY, and then get up tomorrow morning and TRY AGAIN.

I love y’all for being here on my blog–because that means you’re TRYING.

I don’t generally like “drinking my calories,” but I do LOVE hot cocoa in the winter. And OH MY GOODNESS, I found the most lovely thing.

It’s Cocoa Mojo, quality organic chocolate (no alkaloids used) sweetened with unrefined coconut palm sugar, which is lower in calories with low impact on your blood sugar. (No blood sugar jolt!) It’s in the store and if you use the code COCOA you’ll get $1 off.

I love to put a big scoop of coconut milk powder in hot water first, to make “milk” that is rich in lauric acid. (This is the compound in mother’s milk that is rare in foods but abundant in coconut oil–Similac and all the rest synthesize it in that garbage they sell as “baby formula” to dry to duplicate human breast milk). It’s a powerful immune booster. After you stir in the coconut milk powder, add the cocoa.

So if you want both, get $2 off by going to the store and entering the code “COMBO” to get the coconut milk powder and the Cocoa Mojo.

I find TWO bags of Cocoa Mojo get me through ONE container of coconut milk powder, FYI.

It’s SO good and it’s a power food (with some other whole-food herbs added, but you won’t even notice). It’s a treat you’ll enjoy through the winter without guilt, when you want something sinful. It’s even shockingly low in calories! Mmmmmm.

Here’s the combo in the store:

http://tinyurl.com/yca5zc2

Love you tons, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Do give thanks for all your blessings! Mine include good friends who get me through, four beautiful kids, the support and kindness shown me and others on this blog (FROM YOU!), good health, talents I have been given opportunity to use for service, enough money to take care of my family, a big garden, meaningful work that I look forward to (almost) every day, and interests that keep me growing and thinking.

Please tell me your top five things you’re thankful for this year! (Even if you’re reading this after Thanksgiving!)

What should I buy organic, and what isn’t such a big deal?

You’ve heard of the “dirty dozen,” the fruits and vegetables that test highest for pesticide sprays. Top of the list is PEACHES. My suggestion? Plant a peach tree! I have three. Here are the others in the top 12 to buy organic or grow yourself, wherever possible:

Peaches

Apples

Bell Peppers

Celery

Nectarines

Strawberries

Cherries

Kale

Lettuce

Grapes

Carrots

Pears

Spinach has moved down on the list, out of the top 12, which is nice. Sometimes I get taken to task by those who buy ONLY organic produce for not being a purist on that topic.

Here’s what I have to say about that: if you can afford to buy all organic, that’s EXCELLENT, go for it! But I am above all trying to bridge the gap here for the majority in the middle, who have to balance health concerns with budget restraints. I always say, remember (a) that animal protein and processed food have higher pesticide concentrations than conventional produce, and (b) almost all the studies documenting the powerful effects of fruits/vegs in our diet were done using CONVENTIONAL produce. Therefore (c)  don’t avoid eating produce  (and eat something else) because you are afraid it may not be organic, but (d) wash your conventional produce well using a good fruit/veg wash.

Here’s the bottom 12 of the produce ranked by the Environmental Working Group examining 87,000 studies by the FDA and USDA between 2000 and 2007. These would be produce I would feel more comfortable about buying conventional and washing well:

Broccoli

Watermelon

Papaya

Eggplant

Cabbage

Kiwi

Sweet peas (frozen)

Asparagus

Mango

Pineapple

Corn (frozen)

Avocado

Onions

Interestingly, tomatoes didn’t make my “Safe Dozen” list, but if I’d made a “Safe 13,” it would be on the list.

May I make another summertime suggestion: when you cut up your melons, rinse the flesh before cutting it up, because the knife slices through the pesticide-coated rind, and those chemicals end up on your fruit.

is agave good food?

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: What about the controversy surrounding agave?

Answer: I have seen a couple of people with clout on the internet say that one should be careful with agave.   They make a decent point that since much of the product imported into the U.S. is from Mexico, we don’t always know what we’re getting.   Sometimes imported product can be pretty wild and woolly, especially from developing countries.   An allegation has gone around that high fructose corn syrup is cut into the agave.   That would certainly be a way to increase your profit margin, if you’re an agave manufacturer.

The agave I use, that I buy in huge bulk for my local buying group a couple times a year (66 cases of 4 gallons each sitting in my garage right now), I know does not contain corn syrup.   Personally, I react very negatively to HFCS, and I feel great when I use this agave.   I required the company I buy from wholesale to produce their organic certification.   I checked into the importer’s reputation and didn’t find anything amiss.   I got the nutritional sheet on both the light and dark, and compared (overall, no big difference).

You can get agave RAW or not.   I don’t believe there’s any way the product is literally cold-pressed from the cactus straight into the bottle.   I don’t personally believe it’s truly raw.   So I use agave sparingly, as a replacement for items that are more processed and more destructive to your blood sugar.

Agave has 1/3 the calories and 1/3 the impact on your blood sugar that other concentrated sweeteners do, like HFCS, sugar, and honey.   That’s pretty brilliant.   Don’t take that as a license to go crazy with it, though.

If you want to be an absolutist or  purist, don’t use any sweeteners at all.   Just eat fruit and dates.   Even most raw foodists do use maple syrup, which is never truly raw, and agave.   If you want to use occasional sweeteners for baked goods, etc.,  a good brand of agave  is probably the best or one of the best sweetener options.   (Madhava, a brand a few of you have mentioned,  does have a good reputation.)

Locals, I bought some extra agave, so let me know if you want a case: 4 gallons for $130 (raw, organic).

“biological concentration”

I read a post by a 12 Stepper on the other blog on this site, expressing her frustration about the expense of non-organic food and even wondering if it’s worth it to eat a plant-based diet, with all the pesticides on vegetables and fruits.

Dr. McDougall says in The McDougall Program for Women (1999) that animals trap environmental pesticides and other chemicals in their flesh, organs, and milk.   Consequently, animal products are MUCH more concentrated with chemicals than the plant food sources they consume.  

He cites a study that women who eat animal products have 70 percent higher DDT concentrations (DDT being a particularly deadly pesticide known to cause birth defects in humans) in their breast milk compared to vegetarian women.

Young moms, I hope this is encouragement to you, to buy conventional produce if organic is cost-prohibitive to you, wash it well, and rest assured that what you’re doing for yourself and your children is  good and right, because the alternatives are unacceptable.