Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Raw Food Life Force Engery

In my last blog, I introduced my experience with the book Raw Food Life Force Energy by Natalia Rose. This book has seriously changed my life an set me on a new path.

Here's a review: This book is a great introduction to the raw food diet and lifestyle. She makes it easy for anyone to transition to a diet containing a greater amount of "life force containing" foods. Anyone with any prior eating habits, at any eating level can incorporate her advice to any degree he/she chooses. She doesn't tell you to go 100% raw immediately, in fact, she recommends not doing so. She even offers the freedom not to go 100% raw...ever, if you desire! That's what I mean by this book being completely accessible to anyone. Meat eaters, dairy lovers, vegetarians, and vegans alike can all learn a great deal from this book. Of course, she does suggest eating healthier version of foods like meat an dairy, but again, her plan makes you feel comfortable about incorporating this diet to whatever degree you choose. I found her information on food combining the most helpful. When eating raw, it's easy to miscombine your food. That's exactly what caused me so many problems the first time I went raw. Anyhow, every recipe that I've tried has been delicious. Some of the recipes I let my own inspiration make changes here and there, but rarely do I come across a book where the recipes are all amazing. She also gives tips on how to incorporate this diet into your life if you are on a budget. That was especially helpful to me. One thing this book doesn't have, that other raw books do have, are the complicated, raw gourmet recipes which require soaking, sprouting, dehydrating, and a lot of time. All of her recipes are fast and simple with easy to acquire ingredients. If you are looking for a book with more gourmet recipes, there are numerous others. This one is perfect in its simplicity.

My experience: I transitioned from my current diet and immediately began eating more raw and "life force containing" foods. I incorporated her suggestion of daily deep breathing and exercise (I chose morning yoga sun salutes and walking as my main forms) and tried my best to eat "light to heavy" every day and combine my meals properly. Of course, I didn't always follow either of these rules perfectly, but it was all part of the learning experience. She encourages doing your best, not perfection. As I am on a budget, I didn't include "body brushing" until very recently when I finally bought a natural bristle dry body brush, and I have yet to try colonics. Colonics sound interesting and a little wierd, but I do want to try them before deciding wether or not they would be a good practice to incorporate into my life. I have experienced (nearly) two sets of 21 day plans (21 days is just what she reccommends you try, but of course, this can be a lifetime thing if you feel it is right for you) and have written down everything I have eaten, how certain foods made me feel, and the lessons I've learned. I will not reporduce my entire records here, but I will share a summary of all that I have experienced.

First 21 days: Day one, I started my practice of waking up ten minutes earlier in order to rev up my body with a few yoga sun salute sequences. I quickly learned that this gave me more energy and made my body feel better. For my first few days, I had Master Cleanse lemon juice upon waking; fruit for breakfast; veggies in veggie broth, avacado cabbage wraps, or salads for lunch; and whole wheat pasta with marinara and sprouted wheat bread for dinner. On day five I tried a raw zuchini and squash pasta with a macadamia nut alfredo sauce, and on day six I had a baked sweet potato with salad and sprouted wheat (s.w.) bread. On day 8, I experienced my lightest, healthiest Thanksgiving of all time. Morning and breakfast went as usual but for Thanksgiving dinner, I had a veggie and balsamic vinegar salad, raw "pumpkin pie in a bowl" carrot soup, and a baked sweet potato. For dessert I had a raw coconut based pudding from Whole Foods (these puddings are amazing). I felt so good. It was by far the best I have felt after a Thanksgiving dinner. As the days progressed, I began swapping my whole wheat (w.w.) pasta dishes and cooked veggie soups for more salads, zuchini pastas with marinara, continued eating s.w. bread with meals, and started drinking the elixirs from the book, like "life force power ade." I also started enjoying a few pieces to 1/2 bar of 70% dark chocolate for dessert. On day 11, I went to Chaco Canyon, the vegan and raw foods restaurant in Seattle. I had the raw pizza with salad and a slice of raw cheesecake. Later I had the juice and meat of a young coconut and a raw nut based chocolate fudge from Chaco Canyon. At the end of the day, I felt a little over-full and overloaded with nuts, but not too horrible. On day 12 I tried a couple recipes from Living on Live Food by Alissa Cohen including spinach avacado dip and blueberry cashew based cheesecake. I ate too much, and remembered that fresh fruit and raw nuts don't combine well. Over the next couple days, I continued eating the spinach dip but realized I preferred plain avacados with seasoning or a big salad to the dip with veggie chips. It was just too filling. My dinners continued to consist of big salads (usually with avacado, cumumber, tomato, red bell pepper, onion, and carrots and a splash of apple cider/balsamic vinegar and agave nectar). After reading Cohen's book, I had to remind myself not to get sucked in by the raw books that don't focus on food combining the way Rose's does. The better my food combos, the better I felt.

On Day 15, something significant happened: I experimented with dairy cheese. Now let's back up a second. After reading R.F.L.F.E. I learned that soy products and processed foods in general are not ideal and should be avoided. I had heard this every now and then, but just ignored it. When I committed to trying this program, I promised myself I would follow her plan. If it worked, it worked. If not, I could always go back to my old diet. So I cut out soy; soymilk, soy cheese, soy meats. I realized that most of my favorite vegan foods are just processed junk. No wonder I was starting to feel like crap. Now, I will never speak badly of the vegan diet; eating vegan is AMAZING and wonderful. I LOVE vegan food. I really LOVE vegan JUNK food! But certain people just don't digest certain foods well. I am understanding this is true with me, because I have only been able to loose weight when eating raw or mostly raw. So, anyhow, armed with my new info, I started to wonder if I would miss cheese, now that vegan cheese was going to be rare (if at all) in my diet. While there are many raw nut "cheeses," none of them are that good. Besides, I'm trying NOT to overdose on nuts again. And in her book, Rose discusses the possibility of eating raw goat cheese. Goats milk in general digests much easier than cows' milk, and when in raw form, it digests even easier--easier than nut cheeses, even! I'd been vegan for over a year so I felt really guilty about my desire to try this raw goat cheese. It was so easy to be vegan, but I truly wanted to try this goat cheese for myself and see how it made me feel. I've always been such a cheese lover. But cruelty to animals, slaughterhouse practices, and--most moving for me personally--the health hazards of eating dairy made me turn to vegan options instead. So I fought with myself about whether or not to try raw goat cheese. The hardest part was facing the fact that I would no longer be labeled "vegan." And I was afraid I would disappoint everyone who knew me. But then I decided that a label does not make me who I am; I do. And I am no one but me no matter what I eat. So I went to Whole Foods and picked up a block of aged, rennet-free (in other terms, vegetarian) raw goat cheese. I felt like a total whore! I thought the vegan police was going to pop out at any moment and arrest me. But I relaxed as I got home and made a simple meal: Portobello mushrooms topped with warm marinara and a sprinkle of raw goat cheese. I didn't die. I loved it. It was tasty. So I decided that I do like raw goat cheese. Whether or not I will continue to eat it on a regular basis, I still have not decided. I don't intend on going "cheese crazy" with it or anything, but I do like the option. So now that I am over the guilt of letting my veganism slip, I can get over my beloved label. Vegan will always hold my heart, but I do personally like my current experiene with the occasional addition of the goat cheese. It's just me and my decision.

Anyhow, back to my 21 days. I felt great even after the addition of the raw goat cheese. On day 19, I had a molassas cookie, one of the only vegan treats from my job at Starbucks. My boss bought it for me, so I ate it, refined grains and sugars and all. I didn't feel too bad until later, when my tummy was a little sick. Probably had to do with the fact that I ate it for breakfast (with a banana) instead of for dessert or dinner, where all of your heaviest meals and treats belong. Then for dessert, I increased my bad food combo day by eating raisins, dates, and almond butter after a portobello melt (cheese and nuts/dried fruits are not a good combo.) The next few days went well with veggie/greens juice in the morning; fruit for breakfast; veggies, salads, avacado, or lara bar for lunch; and zuchini noodles or portobello mushrooms w/marinara and salad, big salads with veggies or nut cheese, or baked sweet potatoes with salad for dinner. For dessert I would have 70% chocolate, coconut based pudding, or nut based pudding. That ends round one of my 21 day eating plan.

Round 2: I actually struggled with this one. Most of my days were positive and similar to what I described just above. But at one point I started eating heaping spoonfulls of raw honey throughout the day/night. I didn't particularly feel sick or anything, but I just felt like it was too much. I didn't need it, I was just snacking which would usually lead to binging. I noticed the more I let myself snack, the longer I would snack, and the worse my food combos would get. So I tried my best to refrain from eating raw honey by the spoon or raisins by the bowl, which were my two most-consumed after dinner snacks. I learned that if I wrote about how satisfied I was, and how I didn't need any snacks, I wouldn't eat anymore! A couple days later I gave into my sweet tooth and ate candy like Panda Licorice which is made of wheat flour and molasses. Not the worst thing in the world but it is refined and processed. On a positive note, I went to a wedding reception one of these days and it wasn't so bad. I relaxed and ate a big plate of salad and grilled green beans and red peppers. But backslide again when I had a few molassas cookie episodes! My boss bought me another cookie, and last week, my co-workers gave me three boxes full! I ate through one full box (only one cookie a day/4 cookies per box) and then one out of another box before I gave them to my boyfriend. Luckily, the cookies are being discontinued and will no longer tempt me at work.

The worst eating day I experienced happened on Christmas Eve. How strange when I had such a positve Thanksgiving experience just a month before! I went to my mom's house. The day started all right, but in the middle, I ate two panda licorice bars and a box of maple candy while I was waiting for dinner. For dinner, I ate things that I have not consumed in years. I feel pretty guilty and non-vegan about it, and am ashamed of my lack of discipline. It happened when my mom made my two pre-vegan favorite foods: latke's and smoked salmon pita pizzas. For some reason, that day and the couple days that followed, I was craving tons of pre-vegan and pre-sober food and drinks like wine, that Xmas Eve dinner, and the cheese bread Brian ordered at Claim Jumper. It was bizarre. Anyhow, back to Xmas Eve: I ate salad, a raw avacado and corn chowder, a whole pita pizza made with refined wheat pita, non-raw, non-organic goat cheese, and non-organic smoked salmon (which, besides those no-no's, meat and cheese don't combine with starches like pita and avacados). Then I had tons and tons of fried latkes. When I was completely full and bursting at the seams, I continued to eat...a molassas cookie. I was in so much pain that I could barely move. I really put my body through torture that night. I thought my kidneys were going to explode. I was so ashamed afterwards that I did not hold constant to my committment of eating pure, whole, foods (not to mention vegan!) and maintaning properly combined meals. I wrote a little essay to myself about how I should have eaten that night and at what point I should have stopped. Needless to say, lesson learned, big time.

I felt so hopeless that I continued to over eat and miscombine my meals over the next couple days. But on day 16 and 17, I re-read R.F.L.F.E and The Raw Food Detox Diet, bought a body brush, and re-committed to the plan. I started dry body brushing every day, reminded myself to eat light to heavy, and raw till dinner. And here I am today. I ate perfectly yesterday: green juice in the morning, asian pear for breakfast, "sandwhich salad" for lunch, then small spinach salad with zuchini noodles and pesto with two slices s.w. bread with raw honey, and chai spiced almond milk with two pieces of chocolate for dessert. Today I had green juice, a pear, a banana, and the "sandwhich salad" for lunch. After this post, I will eat a big salad. I feel great and I still am maintaining my healthy weight! Now that the molassas cookies are out of my life, I can try to abstain from refined sugar and flour and work on those last 5 lbs!

My favorite meals from this book: There are so many!

Life Force Power Ade (I usually improvise with different greens and fruit)
Holiday Anytime (carrot juice with pumpkin pie spice)
Pumpkin Pie in a Bowl soup
Raw Tomato Herb Potage with Shredded Raw Goat Cheese (I like to blend most of this soup in a blender rather than just a mixing bowl)
Suddenly St. Tropez Salad (this has goat cheese and is my fave!)
Daily Avacado Classic Salad
Salad Gone Nuts
Sandwhich Salad (best lunch ever!)
Quickest Spaghetti (sprialized zuchini noodles with warm marinara)
Portobello Melts
Banana Mint Dessert "ice cream" (I use peppermint extract instead of mint leaves)
Baked Apples (I dehydrate mine for an hour or two so it's warm)

What I've learned from this book: How to increase my intake of raw, life force engery generating foods. How to properly combine my meals for best digestion. How to eat "light to heavy" for quickest elimination and digestion. How to incorporate some healthy cooked foods into my diet. Which foods are inharmonious. How to dry body brush. How colonics can help. Why some raw food diets fail. Some amazing recipes.

Anyhow, with that all said, I highly recommend this book to everyone! She provides a FAQ in the back, along with thorough sample menus and a 21 day eating plan you can follow word for word if you like. This book has truly changed my life and the way I eat. I bought a copy for my mom for Xmas and hope she can find it useful. We used to have so much fun eating raw meals together! Happy New Year, everyone!

How the journey began

Growing up, I ate a lot of food that came out of packages; Mac n Cheese, canned Ravioli, sugary cereals. We ate a lot of meat, potatoes, white pasta, bread slathered in butter, ice cream and cake for dessert. For the most part, it was the Standard American Diet. Every once in awhile, my mom would encourage our family to eat healthier. I remember at one point we were vegetarian, although that didn't last very long. I wasn't opposed to healthy food; I just didn't know that I was eating unhealthy to begin with! I slowly became more health conscious in high school and ate more sandwiches and salads and "diet" foods and drinks. But I still ate tons of fried food and fast food. I've never been overweight, but at 5'00" with big boobs, wide hips and thighs, extra weight is very unflattering. It's always been really hard for me when I see the standards for "thin." Even health class was discouraging. I weighed between 120 and 125 lbs (sometimes more; my erratic eating behavior made my weight fluctuate regularly) and I learned that, for my height, that was the high-end. Of course, my friends reminded me that big boobs are awesome and that curves and lovely, but I still couldn't help but feel far from perfect. I knew I could be healthier. I knew my body could look amazing. If only I knew how to get there.

I've never been very athletic, aside from my love for walking and occasional dancing, but as I grew older, I tried to be more active. But I never adopted a lifestyle of exercise, and I continued to binge of sweets, fast food, restaurant food, and...alcohol.

I always looked to my mom for inspiration, and she started sharing with me her discoveries of cleanses and fasts. I tried a few different ones that she had done. The first couple (Isagenix I think it was called) were interesting and provided some good results. But it wasn't until we discovered the Master Cleanse (the lemonade cleanse) that I really started seeing and feeling something different. I read the book by Stanley Burroughs and attempted my first ten day cleanse. I didn't follow it exactly (I only lasted eight or nine days, I didn't always drink the laxative tea, and I refused to do the salt water flush in the mornings) but I still lost more weight than I had in a very long time and felt light and amazing. From his book, I also learned a lot about the damaging effects of cooking food and how eating mostly uncooked and unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and grains can be beneficial. My mom started researching the raw food diet, and I followed suit. Our first book was Rawvolution by Matt Amsden. It was a great introduction to raw food and making raw dishes. I loved coming over to her house and making masterful raw creations. My second book was Raw Food Real World by Mattew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis. This one taught me more gourmet dishes. Me and my roommate at the time had tons of fun making recipes from this book! My mother and I continued incorporating more raw foods into our diets but neither of us went 100% raw, and in no time we were back to our old eating ways.

I tried to remain somewhat vegetarian, although I was never very strict about it. And I still ate fast food. Boy did I love that fried, processed goodness. My favorite thing in the whole world, and my main setback to weight loss, was cheese. I put cheese on everything. Meals seemed boring if they didn't include cheese. I loved pizza, nachos, pastas topped with cheese, cheese and crackers, even my salad had to be topped with cheese. I told myself I would and could never go vegan.

About a year after my first Master Cleanse, I started feeling like crap. I was eating everything. I was overeating. I had no limits; no rules. I figured a cleanse would help clean out my system and make me feel better for awhile. So I read the book again, and started my second ten day cleanse. This time I did drink the laxative tea and did the salt water flush almost every day. While cleansing, all the euphoria I had experienced the first time around came rushing back. I remembered how good it felt to have a light, clean body. I started reading about raw foods again and pulled out the few raw recipe books that I had and ordered a couple more online. I quit my cleanse on the ninth day, but after that, I ate 100% raw. I didn't know how long I would do it for, but I decided to stick to a raw diet as long as I could, if not forever. All I knew is that I was loosing weight and wanted to loose more. I wanted to finally see myself at my perfect weight! The day finally came just a few weeks after eating 100% raw. I weighed 115 lbs, which I hadn't weighed since middle school! I was so excited and I was really feeling great. But after those first couple weeks, there came a downside. I noticed that after a lot of my meals I felt over-full and bloated. I would go between being bloated and constipated to having really bad diarrea. I couldn't figure out how this could be! Most of the books I read said that you could eat whatever you wanted, how ever much you wanted, as long as it was 100% raw. So I ate what I wanted; fruits and vegetables and salads; but the majority of the food I ate was nut-based. I loved making the "imitation" raw gourmet recipes like nut breads, nut puddings, nut desserts, etc. The last meal I remember eating during that "attempt" was a nut burger on nut bread with nut cheese, a couple nut cheese stuffed peppers, and a big side of nut based "egg" salad. For dessert I had fresh watermelon. I remember being over-full to the point of extreme pain. The next day my kidneys ached. A few days later I realized I had a full-on kidney infection. I learned that kidney infections can occur from too much protein and being overloaded, among other things. After all the crap a couple people had given me about how I couldn't possibly be getting enough protein and fat on an all raw diet, there I was with a kidney infection that was probably caused by too much protein. The infection got pretty bad. I missed over a week of work (I was a housecleaner at the time) and I couldn't eat anything more than veggie broth and oyster crackers. I lost five more pounds (not the healthiest way to loose weight) and became disgusted by food, especially nuts and other raw meals. So it's no wonder that after I got better, I was completely turned off by the raw diet.

I tried to remain at least somewhat healthy and at least vegetarian, but sooner or later, I gained all the weight back and was again back to my old ways. One positive change that I eventually made and stuck to, was that I quit drinking. It took a disaster experience and a terrible lesson to learn to finally get me to quit, but I did. I gained a lot of clarity and peace of mind, even though my diet continued to suffer and my weight refused to lessen.

But, like many things in life, the cycle occurred again. I felt like crap. I wanted rules and boundaries. I wanted to know what was good for me and what wasn't. I wanted to cleanse again, but wasn't quite up for it. I even had a mini panic attack because I was so stressed out about which diet advice to follow. There were so many theories and diets and I didn't know what to believe! But I needed something. I went to the bookstore with the intention of finding a book that held answers. The first book I saw was Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. The title sounded familiar and I realized my vegan friend Brandi had talked about it. After being raw for one month, being vegan seemed possible, but I wasn't sure if I would enjoy being vegan or if it was really healthy. But I went home and read the book, and loved what I learned. I immediately went vegan, throwing out all my non-vegan treats and the other food items the book discourages like foods with refined flours and sugars. I started eating healthier version of the food I loved like sucanat and evaporated cane juice for sugar, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread. I fell in love with vegan baking and had so much fun making amazing vegan meals and goodies. The best part was that I could replicate almost any common dish into a vegan dish. And, best of all, there was vegan cheese. I gobbled up vegan cheese just as regularly as I had dairy cheese. I loved making grilled "ham and cheese" sandwiches, burritos, pastas, cakes, cupcakes. I believed I could eat whatever I wanted, as long as it was vegan and semi-healthy (healthier sugars, whole flours.) I did manage to maintain my weight, but I could never reach my perfect weight. I LOVED my vegan diet though, and thought I had finally found a good compromise. I could eat greasy, "cheesy," sugary foods in great abundance, and not gain weight. But, about a year later, I started feeling like crap...again. I felt like something was missing. I was overeating a lot, especially in the desserts category. I admit I wasn't eating 100% pure, whole foods--I would eat refined sugars and grains when I went out to eat or if I came across some tempting vegan morsel. I started doubting the theory of "eat as much vegan health food in junk food form as you want, because as long as it's made with whole grains, whole sugar, or vegan cheese, it's guilt free." I was even growing sick of vegan cheese. I was craving more fresh fruits and vegetables. I was considering going raw or at least incorporating more raw into my diet. But I would always remember that horrible kidney infection and remind myself of my negative raw experience.

In the middle of this new "feeling like crap" stage, I went to Europe for a month, touring with a band I was in at the time. It was an interesting experience because I was forced to go to the store every day and get fresh fruits and veggies and eat very simply because we didn't have the luxury of microwaves and stoves. Some of our hosts would cook for us, but they always at least made a big salad I could eat. At the end of the month, I had lost about 5 lbs (if not a little more) and realized the benefits of cutting out sugary desserts (which I didn't have access to), vegan junk food meals, and eating simply. I retained a lot of my learning when I got home but--as you can guess--I returned to my old eating habits in no time. And it got worse. I knew I had a problem when a week passed and I realized the majority of my food and calories was coming from dessert. I have always had a huge appetite for such a small girl, and can easily eat numerous servings of cake, cookies, and cupcakes. Sweets and cheese (vegan and dairy alike) have always been my binge faves.

Again, the panic settled in. I was doubting what I had come to believe about vegan food. I still loved vegan food and knew it was the best diet for me at the time, and was so grateful for Skinny Bitch and all the delicious meals I could eat--but it just wasn't enough. Maybe some girls could be skinny vegans, but not me, not with my addiction to sweets. I knew I needed more knowledge, more boundaries, more rules. I know it sounds strange, but I have always done best when I follow strict rules, hence my success quitting drinking as opposed to limiting alcohol or my success being completely vegan as opposed to just trying to eat somewhat vegan or vegetarian. So a couple months ago, back to the bookstore I went. I had that same intention as I had before; the desire for answers and guidance. I was really interested in going raw again, but didn't want a repeat kidney infection. Also, I had been working as a barista at Starbucks, where we regularly taste coffee (although at that point, I had already made coffee a rarity and not a necessity) which is definitely not raw. And there was a big part of me that just didn't want to be 100% raw again. I still wanted the option and freedom to go to my favorite vegan restaurants if I wanted or make the occasional cooked meal. So many raw books say that the more raw you eat, the better, but also promise 100% raw is best if you can do it. That just made me feel stressed and pressured, being the perfectionist that I am.

Anyhow, as I was heading away from the cookbooks section, I glanced over the nutrition section with the intention of going home empty handed. A misplaced book that was just thrown in front of another caught my eye and made me pause. It was Raw Food Life Force Energy by Natalia Rose. Whoa! I thought. A raw food book when I wasn't even looking anymore! So I flipped through it and read the back. It sounded pretty close to what I was looking for. The best part was that her plan seemed to include some cooked food. This excerpt (from the back) really got me excited: "Looking for a whole new approach to weight loss, health, and beauty without necessarily going all-raw or strictly vegetarian?" Holy crap, I thought. That's exactly what I'm looking for! And if non-vegetarians can do this, then I definitely can! I bought the book and finished it that night. I loved it. It offered me so much knowledge that I had never been exposed to. She talked about food combining and how eating certain foods in certain orders and combinations can either help or harm your digestion. I realized exactly how and why my first attempt at raw had failed: improper food combining, and an over-consumption of nuts! It was so simple, how did I not see before?! I couldn't believe that I had turned my back on raw foods for so long when I could have easily continued if I had access to the wisdom in that book.

I began my transition that night, and followed her 21 day program. I was on a budget but I did my best.

21 days went by, and I loved it. I reached my "healthy" weight of 120 after the first week. I have gone another 21 days, and have maintained my weight. I still intend on loosing another 5 lbs but I also realize I've got some demons to fight first (like occasional refined-sugar cookies and overeating.) A couple days ago, I bought Rose's first book, The Raw Food Detox Diet. It was further illuminating and helpful, and provided even more delicious recipes. That brings me to present. Here I am on a raw food journey once again. This time, I hope it is for life.

Now, I've had my week moments and pitfalls during this experience, but that is for another blog, another day. I just wanted to give an exhaustive background of how I got to where I am today. Next up: an in depth look at my two 21 day plans, setbacks, successes, and lessons learned.

About This Blog

I have always loved food. Food is one of my favorite parts of life! But for the past few years, I have become fascinated by diet and nutrition and have been constantly searching for ways to improve my health and diet. I've gone from the Standard American Diet, experimented with different "healthy" or "weight loss" foods, cleanses and fasts, the raw foods lifestyle, vegetarianism, and veganism. I've been on a rollercoaster journey between fast food restaurants, overeating, obsession with sweets, meat diets, vegetarian diets, raw foods diets, and back again. I struggled to reach my ideal weight, and struggled even harder to keep it the few times I actually reached it. The most success I have ever experienced was on raw and cleansing diets. But due to lack of knowledge about how to properly eat a raw/mostly raw diet, I gave up the first time around. Then, after months of craving more raw foods and remembering how wonderful I felt and how awesome it was to be at my perfect weight, I sought out the raw lifestyle again. Wisdom came to me in the form of Natalia Rose's book, Raw Food Life Force Energy. The book showed me how and why my first attempts at the raw diet failed and how to do it right this time. It also offered something most Raw books don't; freedom to follow the lifestyle as closely as you desire. I have loved my experience getting back into raw foods; I have even been inspired to possibly go back to school to study to be a nutritionist. I find that I just love talking about nutrition and diet, and get so excited when I get the chance to share what I know and what I've been through. The financial cost and time it would take to finally become a certified nutritionist is a little overwhelming and discouraging when I want to help people now. But then I realized, as I was reading other blogs and websites about raw foods, just how much I enjoy reading about other people's experiences and how I could be helpful by just sharing what part of me I can. So, here it is! I will be writing about my food journey from the beginning to current, write book reviews about my favorite (and not-so-favorite) cookbooks and health books, and share recipes. I hope you enjoy!