Organic Food is Worth the Cost

Yesterday I watched a great documentary called FRESH about the merits of organic farming and the issues with the modern industrial food complex. You can stream it on Netflix. I highly recommend that you do so before you eat your next meal.

Organic food is worth the cost. Organic produce has 40% more nutrition (on average) than conventionally grown stuff. There are studies that demonstrate how medium-sized organic farms can out-produce large-scale industrial farms over the long-term – with higher profitability for farmers and healthier customers in the process. The health and environmental issues with conventional industrial farming practices are too big to ignore. The animal welfare is another thing…..I’ll save that for another post.

Before I paid attention to what I ate (college days!), I would cringe at the notion of paying $0.50 extra per pound for organic bananas or $4+ for a dozen organic eggs. Now, it is a no-brainer. Even better, buy local AND organic.

I order my groceries through SPUD. They make it easy for people in the Seattle area to buy fresh, local, organic products – with the added convenience of home delivery and the gas savings of not having to drive to the store all the time (they deliver ~100 orders at a time via their trucks which is far more efficient).

Every dollar you spend is a vote in favor or against sustainable food production. Vote wisely!

Paper vs Goodies

What would you rather have, a stack of paper money or a cart full of goodies?

I pay whatever it takes to get high quality organic goods whenever I can. I can’t think of a better thing to spend money on. My health and well being depends on it. Some people are terrified to spend a few bucks extra for this stuff.

Just watch people in line next time you are at the grocery store. Instead of being excited at a cart full of goodies most people have this expression of despair on their face!

I’d rather have the cart full of goodies than a bunch of paper any day.

How to Make a Dietary Change

The biggest insight I’ve ever had in making a dietary shift, is to not focus on what you are taking away (e.g. fried food, processed sugar, etc.) but instead to focus on what you are adding (e.g. more water, fresh fruits, greens, etc.).

Focus intently on what good things (or habits) you are adding and then you will find that the bad things will naturally have less room to fit in and you’ll lose appetite for them over time.

My afternoon snack a work yesterday, an MASSIVE organic nectarine from a family farm in eastern Washington. I get a weekly delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables from this farm and the quality is incredible http://tinysorganic.com/

The World’s Perfect Smoothie

The ingredients for the world's perfect smoothie!

I’ve been enjoying this smoothie for about 3-5 days per week for a long time. I tweak ingredients every now and then but the recipe below is a good standard approach THAT WORKS. I use it for breakfast most days. Sometimes I’ll use it as a recovery drink after a bike ride or run (as I am doing right now!).

The ingredients:

  • 1 banana: very ripe and ideally frozen (peel before you freeze!)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons vegan protein (I custom order from Trueprotein.com with a blend of non-GMO hemp, rice and pea proteins. You can also try Life Time’s Life Basic Blend or Vega’s Smoothie Infusion).
  • 2 tablespoons Udo’s Oil
  • 1 level tablespoon Garden of Life Perfect Food green powder (any brand or powdered greens will do)
  • 12 ounces of water

Blend everything together and enjoy.

The final product, it tastes really good, ignore the color (unless green if your favorite!)

This recipe will yield:

  • 500 calories
  • ~20 grams of high quality vegan protein
  • ~30 grams of high quality fats and fatty acids
  • ~30+ grams of carbohydrates, with plenty of fiber
  • Boatload of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in a highly digestible form

If you’re first reaction is “holy crap that’s a ton of fat…there’s no way I’m gonna drink all that fat!”…don’t worry. I challenge anyone to consume this drink on a regular basis and gain any extra fat on their gut or behind. In fact, chances are you’ll shed a bunch of pounds. High quality fats are high quality fuel. Udo’s Oil is some of the best stuff around, and they recommend taking 1 tablespoon per 50 pounds of bodyweight daily. I use just 2 tablespoons in my smoothie and try to get other good fats in through whole foods (coconut butter, avocados, etc.). If you have an especially brutal training day or work day ahead of you, add 1-2  additional bananas to give you the extra fuel to power through (make sure they are super ripe to ease digestion).

Things I bet you’ll notice after consuming this drink regularly:

  • Fewer hunger cravings – especially if you drink it in the morning
  • Stable energy levels and no “afternoon crash”
  • Better endurance
  • Better skin, hair and nails (I’ve seen a noticeable difference)

Give this smoothie a shot – try it three days in a single week at least, ideally in the morning – and drop a note in the comments to let me know how you feel.

How to destroy a perfectly awesome salad

Salads are the single healthiest type of food/cuisine to eat. They are also easy to absolutely destroy. In fact, while sitting here I’m munching on an entire head of organic green lettuce. Some choose potato chips,  I prefer lettuce!

A perfect snack while blogging!

Most restaurants are trained in the art of destroying a perfectly good salad. Case in point are Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad at a whopping 709 calories & 25 g fat and Taco Bell’s Taco Salad tipping the scale at 906 calories and 49 g fat! Can you imagine eating a salad that has more calories and fat that a Big Mac? It’s not just the chain restaurants at fault, practically all places make it easy to ruin a salad if you aren’t careful with what you order. Here are the top methods one can use to utterly destroy a salad:

  • Douse it in salad dressing (a few spoons of dressing can have 10x the calories and infinitely more fat than the entire salad!)
  • Cover it in cheese
  • Coat it in crunchy stuff like croutons, fried onions, etc.
  • Use handfuls of roasted nuts and seeds (full of fat and salt)
  • Put a bunch of fried and roasted meat or other garbage on top of it

I prefer to eat my salads raw. Usually just a bunch of lettuce and some carrots or radishes I’ll munch on before eating dinner. If I am having only a salad for a meal, I’ll sometimes use plain olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a light dressing, and top it with grilled tofu or some beans, bell peppers, radishes and avocado. The amount of avocado and other “heavier” stuff I use depends on how much I’ve been training that week. I use a TON of greens (really, my salads are ginormous – usually a whole large head of organic romaine).

Epic5 – When One Ironman Just Isn’t Enough

Jason Lester and Rich Roll in their attempt to complete 5 iron-distance races in 5 days!

As if one Ironman wasn’t enough, these two ultra-endurance athletes did 5 Ironman-distance efforts over five days on five different islands in Hawaii in May 2010. Jason Lester and Richard Roll are also fueled by 100% plant-based nutrition. I like seeing people performing at a super-high level on vegetarian or even vegan diets. It just shows what is really possible if you work hard and chose not to take any short-cuts.

Interview with Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke (Part 2/3)

Here is part 2 (of 3) of my interview with Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke. You can see part 1 of the interview here.

In this segment, we cover:

  • Robert’s story of transformation from 125 pounder to 200 pound vegan bodybuilder
  • How to gain weight on a plant-based diet
  • The importance of a journal – keeping track of your goals and training progress
  • Tips to staying motivated and achieving goals

Enjoy!

Find a Spring for the Best Water Ever

Lynnwood Aretesian Well - at 164th Street
Lynnwood Artesian Well - at 164th Street

I have been reading up on water. First a great book, “Your Bodies Many Cries for Water” by Dr. B. Then a bunch of videos from Daniel Vitalis about the importance of finding good and clean sources. Our bodies are over 70% water. While many of us spend plenty of time worrying about what we eat, we are far better off first thinking about getting access to and drinking the best water ever!

I am lucky to live in Bellevue, WA (near Seattle) which is home to some of the cleanest water around. In fact, our tap water is rated to be among the best municipal water in the country. I also live in a fairly modern urban environment – so don’t worry too much about rusty and old pipes or other potential issues in getting water from source to tap.

However, the water is treated with Chlorine and other things, and there is also the potential structural impact that overt processing has on water. If you have not checked our Masaru Emoto’s work, you must. His book “Messages from Water” will transform the way you think about water – and your own way of being. Water that has been processed, stored and taken out of its natural environment is spiritually and energetically dead. If you don’t buy the whole “spiritually dead thing,” that is OK…the scientifically proven health benefits of fresh and clean water is enough of a reason to care.

Water from Fujiwara Dam   before offering a prayer
Water from Fujiwara Dam before offering a prayer. From www.wellnessgoods.com
Water from Fujiwara Dam   after offering a prayer!!!
Water from Fujiwara Dam after offering a prayer!!! From www.wellnessgoods.com

There is also the reality that Chlorine and Fluoride can kill off beneficial bacteria in our body, and cause other long-term health effects. I think that in most cases clean city water is OK, but this blog is all about finding even better ways of being and improving our standards of living – so seeking out an even better water source just makes sense to me.

I also think that consuming water that is more natural and less processed just makes common sense, so I decided to seek out the best way of doing so. There are of course so many different types of water out there, which made my search more complicated than one would think for a substance as simple as water. The following are some of the types of water you can find (according to DS Waters, one of the largest home and commercial water distributors):

Artesian Water: Water from a well that taps a confined aquifer (a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand) in which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer.

Spring Water: Water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth.

Purified Water: Water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, or other suitable processes.

Distilled Water: Water that has been vaporized into steam, then cooled to re-condense it back into water. The water’s minerals are left behind, leaving only pure tasting steam-distilled water.

Mineral Water: Water that contains no less than 250 parts per million (ppm) total dissolved solids (TDS).

Sterile Water: Water, also known as sterilized water, that meets the requirements under Sterility Tests, in the United States Pharmacopeia, 23d revision.

Carbonated water products (soda water, seltzer water, sparkling water, and tonic water) are considered soft drinks and are not regulated as bottled water.

I started going to Whole Foods and my local Co-Op and purchasing filtered (reverse osmosis) water. I figured that was a good place to start – at least the stuff is free from contaminants and Chlorine. There is some debate over distilled water. Some think it is healthy, while others think it actually strips the body of minerals…so I have decided not to consume distilled water. It is really meant for teas and other medicinal purposes (or potentially for a cleans/detox program).

What I really wanted was natural spring water…but didn’t want to pay and arm and a leg for bottled spring water (which sits around for a long time in plastic bottles on store shelves). I also wasn’t sure where to find a good local spring.

Just today, however, I discovered a fantastic site – Find a Spring.com. This site lists public springs where you can fill up on totally natural and unprocessed water, for free! There was only one spring listed near Seattle, so I headed to the store, bought a massive 5 gallon jug and headed up there. I really wanted to use some large glass jugs, but didn’t have any available (I’ll need to hit up a recycling center and find some large house wine bottles to use).

Several others had the same idea as me!
Several others had the same idea as me!

The spring was super-easy to find (in Lynwood, just 10 minutes north of the city). There were about 6 cars there when I showed up (on a sunny Saturday at noon). Looks like my secret discovery is no secret to those that live in this area outside Seattle.

At this spring, the Lynwood 164th Street Well, there are two spouts, each flowing 5 gallons per minute of crystal clear and ice cold natural artesian well water! This well is tested several times a month and is completely clean and open to the public (there is a little parking lot and a shelter over the well spouts. This particular well is 400 feet deep and tops out at 120 feet. The city drilled down to 200 feet to access the water.

I strap the jug in like a passenger to keep it from moving around. Just make a loop with your seatbelt over the spout!
I strap the jug in like a passenger to keep it from moving around. Just pull your belt so it locks into place and make a loop over the spout!

The water tastes really good and I’m so lucky to have finally stumbled upon such a find so close to the city! I highly recommend that you check out Find a Spring.com and look for a spring near you.

My spring water setup at home. I bought the ceramic base and polycarbonate 5-gallon jug from Whole Foods. Total cost was $50. Water was free though :) .
My spring water setup at home. I bought the ceramic base and polycarbonate 5-gallon jug from Whole Foods. Total cost was $50. Water was free though 🙂 .

Raw Food Challenge – Day 20 Update

Wow, time really does fly by! It seems like just a few days ago I was contemplating this little experiment. It really has not been anywhere near as challenging as I thought it would be. My food cravings for cooked foods have diminished even more as I’ve gotten smarter about eating more total calories and also eating the right types of foods.

Over the past week, I’ve started to experiment with some new foods and recipes, and have started to cultivate a keen taste for my morning fruit smoothies and evening veggie soups (un – cooked of course)! I actually look forward to these!

Continue reading Raw Food Challenge – Day 20 Update

Raw Food Challenge – Day 11 Update

Today is Day 11 of my Raw Food 30 Day Challenge. I really didn’t expect it to be this easy. I feel absolutely fantastic and have absolutely no detox symptoms to speak of. In fact, this transition from my vegan diet to a 100% raw food diet is easier than my transition from lacto-ovo vegetarian to vegan.

I think difference is that I am both far more educated and also have connected into a support system of people that I have learned a ton from – from various raw food online forums like Give It To Me Raw and 30 Bananas A Day, and through a few friends (like Darrick) who have been walking down this path for a while. I’ve also been reading a ton of books and online resources (including Dr. Doug Graham’s 80-10-10 and David Wolfe’s Sunfood Diet).

Continue reading Raw Food Challenge – Day 11 Update

5 Tips For More Energy

People ask me all the time about what I eat (since I am Vegan) and what kind of smoothies I drink and why. Most people ask me these questions because they want to loose a few pounds or gain some strength, but in almost all cases I think the real motivation for the question is something deeper.

People are really looking to have more energy to live their lives. I’m not just talking about being able to keep your eyes open during a boring meeting at work. I’m talking about having the energy to perform at a high level both in mental pursuits (working on a hard problem at work or in school) and physical pursuits (like a power yoga class!).

I thought it would be good to share my top 5 tips for energizing your life. These are things that I do on a regular basis – and they work. I think experience is the best teacher – and I have learned well 🙂

  1. Avoid Caffeine. I know I know – sacrilege! Despite the supposed health benefits of drinking coffee (and even tea), the reality is that when you borrow energy you need to pay it back. This might not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth. If you are serious about energizing your body – cut the caffeine. Or (as I do right now), limit it to 1 serving in the morning.
  2. Hydrate. Your body is 75% water. Your body also has 2-3x as much lymph fluid in your body as it does blood. Lymph is the watery substance in between your cells that allows nutrients to flow in and toxins to flow out of your cells. Staying well-hydrated is critical to proper energy transfer into and out of the cells. A great way to stay hydrate is not just to drink water, but to avoid dehydrating your body with caffeine, refined sugars and other highly processed (and dehydrated) foods.
  3. Eat Nutrient Dense Foods. I’ve written a great post about this. In summary, you should focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits and green/bright colored veggies that have high water content and high nutrient contents on a per-calorie basis. Did you know that broccoli has more protein than steak on a per-calorie basis? The truth is sometimes surprising but it is the truth nonetheless.
  4. Eliminate Refined Sugars. If it says “cane sugar,” “brown rice syrup,” “corn syrup,” or any other kind of processed sugar on the package, don’t eat it. This includes most energy bars! Your body will just experience a sugar rush and crash cycle when you consume these things. Instead, eat fresh fruits. The sugar in the fruits is processed differently by the body and they won’t cause the same spike in blood sugar. You’ll also help your body to stay hydrated.
  5. Breath Properly! This is perhaps the single most effective thing you can do. I wrote a long post about the importance of proper breath work. If you are at all committed to having more energy in your days – you should read this post. Essentially, cultivate a practice of consistent and deep nasal breathing – especially under times of stress and while sleeping. It may take some practice but the benefits are well worth it.

Have any other tips to share? Please let me know in the comments!

Your Perfect Meal

I’m really into my blender drinks. I start out every morning with one, before work and even on weekends. I’ll add anywhere from 8-10 ingredients…a real mess of things. It’s tasty, organic, cleansing, energizing, alkalizing, hydrating, satiating and yes….I said tasty.

My drinks get pretty crazy because of all the great stuff I throw in there. When in doubt….toss it in. My Vita-Mix does the trick every time. If you don’t have a high quality blender…get one…..my Vita-Mix is one of the best investments I’ve made. I didn’t think there was a difference between a $40 blender and a $400 blender….but now I know that there is. You’ll never taste a smoothie so smooth.

My blender drinks are perfect meals. In the morning, they are so packed with nutrition, that if this one drink was the only nourishment I  had all day, I would be alright. Note that I said if, since I do eat several snacks and lunch every day.

I enjoy the process of eating, but modern day lifestyles make it tough to just sit around and chew all day. That’s why blenders are so valuable. They also take foods that might not taste great on their own (e.g. raw cacao, spirulina, maca root) and make them down right tasty when blended with banana, honey, dates, berries or other fruits.

Blenders also pulverize food to the point where your body can more easily assimilate nutrients. I typically have a second smoothie after my yoga practice in the evening, while I am preparing dinner. This will be lighter drink (about 3-5 ingredients).

I am a big believer that any craving for food is ultimately born from a craving for nutrients. We are so used to eating calorically dense foods are nutrient light. Pizza, pasta, rice, sandwiches, etc. Lacking the nutrients it needs, the body starts to crave more food. This causes us to eat even more calorically dense foods in a desperate attempt to get the right nutrition. In most cases, this nutrition is in the form of key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. Unfortunately, our food choices rarely give us what we need. We get tons of calories but not enough real nutrition.

Blender drinks give you a way to consumer natural superfoods in a user friendly way. These superfoods (cacao, maca root, flax, goji berries and hemp are my favorites) are ridiculously nutrient dense. For example, cacao (raw chocolate beans) have > 5x the antioxidants of blueberries and is the top sources of minerals like sulfur and magnesium out of all food products. A high quality meal with these superfoods make food cravings a thing of the past. They make a perfect meal.

Energize Yourself With An Alkaline Diet Plan

Do you need a cup of coffee in the morning to get yourself out of bed?
Do you find yourself craving food at odd times of day?

Does your energy seem to be waning with every passing month or year?

It’s time to take action!

Revitalize yourself and feel more energetic than ever by alkalizing your body. It is easy to do, doesn’t require any radical change to your diet, and will have a more profound affect on your well-being than any standard “diet” could ever have.

The acid-alkaline balance is a critical piece of your body’s chemistry

The human body is a very finely tuned machine. It is highly adaptable, to new environments and situations, but only when it’s internal environment is in balance. For example, the human body operates effectively when it is held at an internal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Above 104 degrees, or below 97 degrees, and you will experience some significant problems. Your body is even more sensitive to acidic conditions, than it is to temperature.

The blood in your body, which makes up about 8% of its total weight, is a key regulator and indicator of your overall health. The blood is the medium through which oxygen and other nutrients are delivered to each and every cell in your body. In order for the blood to do its job effectively, it needs to be maintained in a very specific pH range. Specifically, a pH of 7.36-7.44; which is slightly alkaline. Even a minor deviation from this small range can be DEADLY.

You may remember from junior high science class that pH (and alkalinity) is measured on a 14 point scale, from 0 to 14; where a low score is extremely acid ic (e.g. hydrochloric acid) and a high score is extremely alkaline. Pure water is neural, with a score of seven. You’ve heard about acid rain and environmental conditions that are causing death of all life in many of our world’s great waterways. Now imagine the same thing happening to the waterways inside your body, i.e. your bloodsteam. It isn’t a pretty story, but there is something you can do to fix it, RIGHT NOW.

The foods you eat have a major impact on your body’s acid-alkaline balance. Digestion of processed foods, for example, will create acidic byproducts that flow into the bloodstream. The more processed foods (sugars, refined carbohydrates, etc.) you eat, the more acid-byproducts will be created and the more acidic your bloodstream will become.

In fact, it is not just processed foods that are acid-forming. Many animal products (e.g. high protein foods) starches and grains are also acid forming. Nitrogen, a byproduct of protein digestion, is acidic. Caffeine is also highly acid-forming.

On the contrary, fresh vegetables and fruits (especially citrus fruits like lemon) are highly alkalizing to the body. The most alkaline foods are leafy green vegetables (wheat grass, spinach, kale, etc.).

How do you know if your body is acidic or alkaline? You can test yourself by measuring the pH of your urine or saliva (less accurate) using pH strips from any pharmacy. The most accurate method is to test the blood. Most clinics that do blood-work should be able to do this for you. Of course, there is an even easier way to know if your body is alkaline. Just think about your diet. Are you consuming a lot of caffeine or alchohol? How about meat? How about breads, pasta or other starches? If so, youre body is probably struggling to keep itself in an alkaline state. The impact on your overwell wellness is too great to ignore.

The impact of an out-of-balance body (too acidic usually) can be devastating

As I said before, the human body is highly adaptable. A mildly acidic condition for a short period of time will not have a big affect on your body. However, most people have extremely poor diets and highly stressful lives, which leads to chronically acidic conditions. This can be devastating to your body and overall well-being. Some of the negative affects include:

  • bloating and water retention
  • acne and other skin conditions
  • weak hair or nails
  • trouble maintaining weight
  • trouble losing weight
  • joint pain
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • cramps
  • indigestion
  • frequent colds
  • allergies

Weight gain and/or loss are some of the more apparent conditions. Are you having trouble losing those final 10 pounds? Or are you having trouble gaining lean muscle mass? Your body might be in a chronically acidic state.

Bloating!When the body is in a acidic state, it will do whatever it takes to protect itself. For some people, this means retaining water and fat close to the body organs to protect them from the acid. For others, this means flushing the body of water and excess weight to “purge” itself. If you are underweight or overweight, you could have an acidic condition in your body.

Furthermore, in acidic body environments, pathogens such as yeasts and bacteria will thrive in your digestive tracks. In fact, research has even shown that cancer cells thrive in acidic environments, but perish in alkaline environments. As these pathogens thrive in your body, they will steal away the precious nutrients and energy that should be going to your body! If you wonder why all the food you eat doesn’t seem to give you energy, here is your answer!

The body was created to hold a slightly alkaline state for a reason. It is in this state that it is highly disease resistant, capable of repairing itself and energetic. Luckily, you can take a few easy steps today to start the healing process.

Take action! Alkalize your body today with an Alkaline Diet Plan!

Alkalizing your body does not have to take a radical change to your eating habits. The most important thing is that you take steps to add highly alkaline foods into your diet. GREEN VEGETABLES are the most highly alkaline foods on the planet. If you are going to have a steak for dinner (which is a highly acid-forming food) be sure to at least start off your meal with a big salad (with no cheese and light dressing), and have some steamed or fresh veggies as a side-dish instead of the baked potato (also acid-forming). This will help your body to counter-act the acidic byproducts with healthy alkaline byproducts.

Another tip is to supercharge your body with an ALKALIZING DRINK.

LemonsAfter a long night’s sleep, your body is often dehydrated and craving nutrients. Drinking some water with fresh-squeezed LEMON JUICE is highly alkalizing and nourishing for the body. In fact, you can get lemons anywhere: in a bar, restaurant or even at work. Just chop one up and create a highly alkalizing beverage. I often take fresh lemon water in the afternoon at work when my co-workers are running for a Starbucks. In fact, I’ve cut coffee completely out of my diet. I’ve found that once my body has detoxified from all the garbage I was putting in it, my need for caffeine has gone down a lot. This is not only healthier, but easier on your pocket-book than a twice daily latte habit!

WheatgrassAnother way to super-charge your body, is to buy a GREENS POWEDER. There are many varieties out there, and most have dried greens from many sources, phytonutrients and lots of vitamins. You just stir a spoonful with some water or juice and you’re ready to go. I take 1-2 servings of a green drink every single day. In fact, I start off my day with one. I prefer to drink mine (I like the Greens First brand) on an empty stomach, about 1 hour before eating breakfast, right after waking up. Energise for life has a lot more information on produdcts for alklaine diets or general wellness. They also have a great blog with tips for getting and staying really healthy.

Lastly, if you are an athlete, you may be wondering how to keep the body alkaline while also getting in lots of protein every day. There are alkaline sources of protein, including tofu and lenils, certain nuts like almonds and brazil nuts and certain grains like Quinoa and Spelt. There are also some very good whole food supplements that are very high in protein. Personally, I take 1-2 servings of Vega every day. It tastes great, is highly alkalizing and is very high in protein (25 grams per 300 calorie serving).

In the end, I hope this article has peaked your interest in cleaning up your diet and really paying attention to what your body needs. Make a few small additions or changes to your diet to make it more alkaline, and you are bound to see some incredible changes over the long term.