When I started on my journey to health, it felt a little rocky in the beginning. It was hard to figure out what to eat. Is animal protein good for you or bad for you? Is fruit healthy or not? What about dairy? Ahhhhh!!!!!
Did you know that nutrition is the only science where two opposing theories can both be proven to be right? After several years of going back in forth, I am finally feeling good about my choices and I want to share some insights that perhaps can help you in your own journey.
Having eaten mostly raw and vegan diet, I realized that I wasn't feeling my optimum best as I should have been given my regiment. Yes, it works beautifully for many people and I absolutely love raw vegan cuisine for its enzymes, vitamins and life-force, but I can't do it at 100%. I have said it many times that I am Alina, not "vegan" or "raw vegan." I don't believe in "labels" in food or fashion, but I do believe in creative designers and guess what? WE can be our nutrition designers!
Did you know that even Dalai Lama eats animal protein because it is necessary for his health? (Learn more here) Did you know that chimps eat other monkeys? I absolutely respect Dalai Lama and in no way want to compare him to a monkey, but I do want to point out that they don't eat animals out of cruelty. They do it out necessity for their health. I have been torn for many years on whether or not I should or shouldn't have animal proteins and I have suffered tremendously, both emotionally and physically because of it. I am now finally accepting myself as someone who needs to have eggs or fish for my physical wellbeing. I don't eat them for entertainment and I don't eat them often, instead I eat them as medicine for my body.
While some may disagree and show me many different sources to prove that I am wrong, I am committed to the internal wisdom of my body. What works for one person may not work for another and it is our responsibility to be as kind to ourselves and to nature.
With that in mind, I do choose the best quality eggs from chickens who are NEVER in cages, who are pasture-raised, fed with non-gmo feed and humanely treated and raised (Vital Farms is my favorite brand). As for the fish, I do my best to find wild-caught and sustainably harvested kind. I also bless the food I eat and give my gratitude for the sacrifice a being made in order for me to live.
Going forward I will be posting more pictures and recipes featuring organic, non-gmo, humanely raised animal proteins to share my journey and to inspire others. It will still be a small part of my diet as 90% of what I eat is plant-based and mostly raw and unprocessed. I am absolutely passionate about raw vegan cuisine and think that it is one of the most creative ways to make food and one of the best way to get nutrients. I will still be posting, talking and promoting the benefits of plant-based eating and detoxification, but devoting 90% of my posts to it.
I do want to say that it has been incredibly hard to come out and share that, hey, I am human and I am not 100% perfect. There has always been a deep fear of rejection if I don't live up to someone else's expectations. It has been such an honor to be welcomed into an amazing vegan community and a fear of not being a part of it has been holding me back from opening to who I am and what I need. But a life lived in fear is a life half-lived, so here I am sharing my journey and letting go of fear of not being perfect.
I hope that this inspires you to tune in to your body, listen to its voice and nourish it with what it needs. Choose the best quality foods and treat your body and our planet with respect they both deserve. You are one-of-a-kind. Eat accordingly and upgrade your health!
With love and gratitude,
If you have been over-indulging during the holidays and need to detox or simply want to jump-start a life-long path to health, I want to recommend experiencing the magic of raw, unpasteurized juice cleanses. My clients who are juicing have seen their energy increase, their skin starting to glow, weight being released and signs of aging being reversed.
Luckily in Boca we have great juice companies that can make your detox easy and delicious. I have personally tried juices at all of the companies this blog, so you can rest assured, these are truly couture-style, creative drinks.
The hardest part of juicing with these pros was figuring out which one I liked better! Truth be told, I loved these four the best and want to share my Z-tips on juicing with you! Do not that I am not ranking them - they are simply the best juice companies that I found and enjoyed. They all have something different to offer, creating perfect fits for different clients.
First of all, why try a juice cleanse to begin with? Even though we are watching what we eat and make the right food choices, toxins still lurk into our bodies. For example, if you go out to eat, then you have pesticides and toxins in your system from non-organic foods that are found in most restaurants. The unpleasant side effect of having them in our systems can be seen in weight gain, low energy, unclear skin and many illnesses.
By doing a simple detox, you will give your digestive system a vacation so your body can get rid of harmful toxins, boost its energy, release extra weight, promote deeper sleep and reduce stress. Think of the detox as you think of dry cleaning your clothes – a necessary part of life that helps you look and feel great!
· Take advantage of nutritional consultations prior to the cleanse
· Eat light, vegan foods before and after your cleanse to ease in and out of the cleanse
· Only choose organic juices, otherwise you will be putting toxins and pesticides right back into your body
· Choose cold-pressed juices (like the ones in this blog) that retain most benefits from fruits and vegetables
· Don’t eat heavy foods such as bread and animal proteins right before and right after the cleanse
· Don’t use the cleanse as quick fix – it is a reboot for the system and not a crash diet
· Don’t pressure yourself into doing a long cleanse if you are not ready.
MY ORGANIC JUICE
Even the raw food guru David “Avocado” Wolfe is a big fan of My Organic Juice and he has a great reason for it. This company was started by a husband and wife team to help her heal and their passion for juicing is now helping many others get healthy. What I love about this company:
· Easy personal delivery system - you don’t even have to leave your house or office
· All glass-bottled
· Local produce
· Order by noon and have your juice personally delivered to you next day (weekday deliveries only)
· Cleanse bottles are labeled 1 through 6, so it is easy to follow
· If you want a delicious treat, try the Strawberry Dream smoothie
· Get a FREE cooler bag with a cleanse
· Complimentary nutritional counseling with a health coach is available
Z-Tip: Sign up for their convenient auto-renewal delivery program and make juice a daily habit - you will look and feel fabulous all year long. As Chelsea Silverman say: “Don’t Think, Just Drink!” Your body will thank you!
To order call 561.809.5925 or email at [email protected] http://myorganicjuice.com
This all-juice company is dedicated to making great-tasting juices in an eco-friendly and convenient way. What I love about them is:
· All glass-bottled
· Free delivery on juice cleanses
· Has many pick-up locations
· Infra-red sauna is available for use at their Fort Lauderdale location to help you detox and release toxins
· 1-day Cleanse has 6 juices and 3 energy shots
· Get a FREE cooler bag with a 3-day cleanse
· Pick up some raw vegan snacks to help you ease in and ease out of the cleanse
· Nutritional counseling is available
Z-Tip: Return 10 of their bottles to them and get 1 free juice!
3100 NW Boca Raton Blvd., #408 Boca Raton, FL 33431 855-Go-Swami http://www.swamijuiceco.com
Raw Juce is a juice-aholic’s paradise that offers 14 different juices, 9 smoothies, 4 shots and 8 dessert drinks that can satisfy your thirst and hunger. What I love about this store:
· They offer walk-in cleanses
· Samples of every juice are available before purchase
· Big selection of green juices
· Free consultation with a certified health coach
· Raw vegan foods, acai bowls and smoothies are available for purchase to ease in and out of the cleanse
· Convenient location off Glades rd and I-95
· Juice till dinner cleanses are great for beginners
Z-tip: Jarrod Levy, a store manager has been on a juice cleanse for 72 days (he loved it so much, he didn’t want to stop!) and he lost 60 pounds. Stop by and ask him for his tips on how to do a cleanse and still enjoy life.
2200 Glades Rd Ste. 403, Boca Raton, Florida 33431. 561.424.JUCE www.RawJuce.com
Christopher’s Kitchen has been one of my favorite places to eat at for years and now they are also offering juice cleanses. What I love about Christopher’s Kitchen is:
· More than 20 juices are available
· Great selection of to-go Raw Vegan meals at their Market area
· They offer walk-in cleanses
· Inspiring names such as Glow, Abundance, Youthful, Clarity, Illuminate add great energy to the cleanses
· Their Brazilnut milk is out of this world amazing and helps support thyroid health
· Samples of juices are available before you purchase
· Their to-go smoothies are a perfect addition to a cleanse for beginners
Z-tip: Enjoy Christopher’s kitchen meals in the dining room to ease into the cleanse and you will transform your world. Save room for dessert - their lemon vanilla cheesecake is to live for!
4783 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 (561) 318-6191 http://christopherskitchenfl.com
December holidays have been known as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, but did you know it is also the most fattening time of the year as well? The fact is that an average American gains a few pounds during the month of holiday parties, family gatherings and food gift galore.
Because many holiday dishes are drenched with fattening dressings, I suggest making your own and then bringing them to group gatherings. Why not share the joy of healthy eating with friends and family? Here are some ideas on how to “accessorize” your holiday favorites, so you don’t deprive yourself of fitting into a fabulous New Year’s outfit!
Smoked Salt: To get the smoky flavor of fatty ham, simply add Smoked Salt to your side dishes. It goes great with lightly sautéed spinach with Portobello mushrooms and tomatoes.
Fresh rosemary, thyme and sage: Use these fresh herbs to season your meals – this way you will get holiday flavor without adding extra calories. Try adding them to your roasted sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts to create a colorful holiday dish.
Go Green with Green Beans – Enjoy your green beans simply roasted with a touch of extra virgin olive oil and almond slivers. You will get lots of protein and fiber to keep you full and satisfied.
Mashed Potatoes Alternative – Try adding a mashed celery root, parsnips or cauliflower to your mashed potatoes to cut down the calories and the starch.
Stuffing – forget low-quality stuffing with wheat bread. Gluten is so last year! Make your own with Sprouted Ezekiel Bread – (recipe below)
Desserts – Opt for dark chocolate bark (recipe below) that is high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Better than Turkey – if you are still looking for a high-protein, meaty dish, then try this Chicken-Less Chicken with Gravy! It tastes and looks like poultry, but is 100% vegan and cholesterol free!
BETTER THAN TURKEY DINNER RECIPE
1 Package of Lightly-Seasoned Beyond Meat Chicken, roughly chopped
Raw Vegan Mushroom Gravy
1 pound of sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup walnuts, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup Coconut Aminos (it is a soy-sauce substitute)
1/2 cup flax seeds, ground
4 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1 clove garlic
Place mushrooms in coconut aminos and marinate for 1-2 hours.
In a high-speed blender, blend coconut aminos, water, pepper, walnuts, cashews and garlic until creamy. Pour into a serving dish and stir in the mushrooms. Let gravy set for 30 minutes to thicken.
Pour the gravy over the chicken-less chicken and serve with your favorite side dishes. My favorite meal would be this entrée with the stuffing, Brussels sprouts and cooked cranberries combined with cooked pears.
▪ 1/2 a loaf of Ezekiel Bread
▪ 1 sweet onion, chopped
▪ 3 stalks of celery, chopped
▪ 1 tbsp olive oil
▪ 1 1/2 cups of veggie stock
▪ ¼ cup chopped walnuts
▪ 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
▪ 1 tbsp fresh thyme
▪ 1 tbsp fresh sage
▪ Sea salt + black pepper to taste
Toast the bread until dry and crispy and cut in small pieces. Set aside.
In a pan, sauté celery and onions until onion is translucent. Add seasoning and walnuts and stir in for about a minute.
Add the bread pieces and let soak until desired consistency is reached.
ANTIOXIDANT CHOCOLATE HOLIDAY BARK
2 cups of dark chocolate chips
1.5 cups of walnuts
1.5 cups dry sour cherries
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup goji berries for topping
1/3 cup raw cacao nibs
Melt chocolate in a pan on the stove. Remove from stove and mix in walnuts, cacao nibs and sour cherries. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Place saran wrap on top of a rectangular plate and pour the chocolate mixture on top.
Cover with another piece of wrap and press with hands to let air out between nuts and dried cherries. Sprinkle with coconut, pumpkin seeds and remaining sour cherries.
Place in the fridge until chocolate is solid again. Cut in small pieces and enjoy!
When dining with a group of friends or family, sometimes we don’t have a choice of the restaurant and creativity is key. Being mostly vegan, I prefer to eat plant-based meals when going out and with experience I learned how to order a healthy meal even at a steakhouse.
In this blog I will share my top “green goddess- approved” meals that you can find around Boca. Use these guidelines to create your own healthy meal at any other steakhouse around the country. You will be surprised how easy it can be to eat at the meat-eaters paradise!
Z-TIP: If you would like to eat 100% Raw Vegan at any restaurant, including the ones below, print out this card and take with you whenever you go out. Give it to the waiter and ask the chef to create you a raw meal using some of these ingredients or any other fruits/veggies they may have. The add some olive oil and lemon juice to dress up the meal.
NEW YORK PRIME and MORTON’S
When eating here, I would begin with either the New York Prime's Chopped Italian Salad without anchovies and blue cheese or at Morton’s you can get their chopped salad without the cheese or bacon. For the entrée you can create your own main course of steamed garlic spinach, asparagus (sans the hollandaise) and a plain baked potato, drizzled with olive oil and a little bit of salt. The salad will provide you with a plethora of vitamins and enzymes to boost your energy and your immune system. Spinach will love your body with a good doze of iron, asparagus will help detoxify your system and baked potato will keep you full as it is high in fiber. New York Prime: 2350 NW Executive Center Dr, Boca Raton, FL (561) 998-3881 Morton’s: 5050 Town Center Cir Boca Raton, FL 33486 (561) 392-7724
ABE AND LOUIE’S
Here I would recommend the Abe & Louie’s Salad that features bibb lettuce, apples and pistachio nuts and I usually ask to hold the cheese and place the dressing on the side. This is one of the most interesting salads I have seen at steakhouse and it is pretty nutritious as lettuce is high in blood-purifying chlorophyll, apples are rich in fat-reducing pectin and pistachios are known to be the highest-protein and lowest-calorie nut. For my entrée, I would go with a Cauliflower Steak, Jumbo Baked Sweet Potato (without the brown sugar_ and Brussels sprouts. Cauliflower is a great low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and low in starch. Sweet potatoes are rich in bloat-reducing potassium and Brussels sprouts are a part of cruciferous family of vegetables that help detoxify your liver. 2200 West Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (561) 447-0024
PRIME in DELRAY
Prime happens to have one of my favorite vegetarian menus. Here I like to begin with the Roasted Beets salad (without the feta) that comes with golden Frisse lettuce, micro basil and toasted walnuts for extra Omega 3’s and protein. For my main course I would recommend a plate of Wild Steak House Mushrooms, Baby Broccoli Rabe and an order of Roasted Sage Fingerlings. While mushrooms are full of protein and low in calories, they have a great meaty texture. Baby Broccoli Rabe is rich in blood-purifying chlorophyll and Fingerlings are rich in fiber. They also balance off the meal as they happen to be the only high-calorie part of the dinner. Another alternative here is a vegetarian sushi roll – a great dinner for those who are in the mood for a lighter fare. 110 E Atlantic Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444 (561) 865-5845
There comes a time in everyone's live when people start thinking about their health and wellness as an irreplaceable and most precious part of their being. For some, that moment comes from inspiration and for others it comes from an illness that casts a shadow on that person's life.
I had the privilege to read an advance copy of Jon Chandonnet's book - Shadow Summit - a memoir of Jon finding out that he had MS and his journey to healing. The book covers many details of Jon's life and builds rapport with the reader as he connects with everyday person who has their own struggles that may even originate in the childhood.
Now, I am a raw food chef and health coach. Why would he send me this book to review? What I loved about Jon's journey is the discovery of raw foods, wheatgrass shots and spiritual/emotional healing. It was the miracle of raw foods, which are full of enzymes and vitamins, that played a big role in his healing. It was letting go of conventional eating habits and false beliefs that played a big role in his illness.
I was happy Jon showed the challenges that he and his wife faced when learning about this way of eating and living. Many people may think that raw foods are "out there" and not for an everyone. So many men especially feel like raw food is "rabbit food" and is not manly enough. Well, guess what? The strongest animals like elephants and bulls eat this way and they have energy to blast through the day without getting tired. When Jon let go of old beliefs and gave these foods a chance, his body was able to heal and get its energy back.
I hope that Jon's story inspires others with similar health challenges to take an honest look at their food and emotions and try something new that they haven't tried before. I know that many people will be surprised how the body and mind shift and heal when you introduce yourself to the magic of raw foods!
Now, in the “Withdrawals” column start listing all the things you did this week for others. It can be taking care of your kids or parents, doing a great job for your company, being a good listener for your friend, etc…” Once finished, write down all the things you did for yourself this week in the column “deposits.” How does your emotional “account” balance?
Imagine that you are handling your energy the same way you handle money and the way you shop. How can you buy something if you don’t have any deposits going in? What about your energy? In order for you to give, you need to receive. This poses another question – where are you receiving from? It can be either from taking time for your favorite hobby, playing your favorite sport, going out with friends, meditating, etc.
And now to take it even deeper – if you know what makes you happy, why aren’t you doing it more often? Chances are, you already know that taking 10-15 minutes out of your day to spend on your favorite activity is beneficial to your health, so why aren’t you doing it every day? Why is it that so many of us are more likely to do something for work for 15 minutes than to take a break and just breath?
I believe that the reason why we don’t give ourselves more “me time” is because we don’t experience as much joy as we do when we get validation from others. Imagine this for moment – what feels better: your friend saying how awesome you are or you taking a few deep breaths? I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving your energy out in exchange for making someone else feel happy. It does feel wonderful to do something good for others, however our physical bodies need love and attention as well and it is our responsibility to take good care of them.
I want to encourage you to take time for YOU. Really focus on loving yourself up by recharging your spirit and doing things that bring you pleasure. They don’t have to be long or extreme. Sometimes 15 minutes spent in silence or 5 minutes reading funny jokes can boost your energy level. Try something today and make it a habit to do something for YOU every single day. You will be amazed by the difference it makes in your life!
Do you ever struggle with pushing yourself to workout? Ever since I can remember I have had a challenging relationship with fitness. Not that I don't like to workout, but I would rather not, if I didn't have to. For many years I have found myself falling in love with a new fitness routine, but after not seeing any dramatic results (like they show in informercials) I would get bored a few months later and dump it.
While I did stick to a certain workout, what I noticed was that my food consumption would go up. In my mind I looked at fitness as a bank account - you deposit the calories burned to withdraw them later for frivolous eating. I always kept score - Ok, so I did Pilates for an hour, now I can have a guilt-free piece of cake. I never truly enjoyed working out for the sake of working out.
A few months ago I decided to quit working out as my routine wasn't working out for me. Then, a few weeks ago I started to feel terrible, my back started to hurt and my monthly cramps got intense all due to lack of physical activity. Yes, I was eating well, but I still needed to move my body.
After much consideration, I decided to commit to a 3-days a week schedule where I would workout, no matter my attitude. The first class back from the hiatus was hard and so was the second, but it was the third (today) that was the toughest and that's where I got my breakthrough that I want to share with you. What I realized was that just like Carrie from Sex In The City who spent her income on shoes and not her home, I was spending my hard-earned benefits of exercise on foods that were as unnecessary as several pairs of Manolos a week.
Now, there is nothing wrong with buying Manolos or eating cake, don't get me wrong, but there has to be a balance. Think about shopping - when you get your paycheck, do you spend most of it on necessary things like your mortgage and then a small percentage on fun? Think of your body as your home and your workouts as payment for its maintenance. After all, this is the only body you got and that's where you soul lives. If you want to have an awesome body, then choose to workout and look at it as your "work" to pay for the quality of your "home."
Now I am choosing to use my workouts towards sculpting a stronger body instead of eating something unnecessary. Perhaps with this new approach I will actually start seeing results and that in turn will motivate me to stick to the program. And an occasional piece of Raw Vegan Tiramisu won't hurt the progress!
Valentine’s Day is around the corner and that often means going out to eat and having drinks. With a plethora of beverages to choose from, many people feel lost in the choice and we are here to help you solve the dilemma.
Of course the number one beverage of choice would be a non-alcoholic, 100% organic, cold-pressed juice like OnJuice, for example. But let’s face it, those are not usually available at most parties. On average I have one alcoholic drink a week and if I attend lots of parties, then I stick to my invented concoction of sparkling water or soda water with 1 teaspoons of lime juice. Usually the bartender will either have a lime juice mix which does have sugar, but I figure that 1 teaspoon of it won’t be a big deal.
The reason why I limit myself to 1 glass of alcohol a week is because it is very stressful for the liver to process. Since liver is the largest organ in the body and is also responsible for detoxification of your system, it is crucial to keep it happy and healthy. This point is especially important to remember when it comes to hard liquor. Yes, vodka may not have any calories, but its high alcohol content can undermine your liver function. When liver gets overwhelmed, the metabolism can get sluggish, pounds can start pilling on and the mood and quality of life can start to go down.
However, I do indulge about once a week and my alcoholic beverage of choice is a glass of bubbly or red wine, both of which add up to about 120 calories a serving. Research has shown that in moderation, red wine has positive benefits for the heart, so it can give you a better bang for your nutritional buck. One tip of the trade: if you drink one glass of wine, it will relax your system, but if you over-indulge, then it can actually cause the opposite effect and result in insomnia.
Healthier alcoholic options:
First I want to give thanks and share some fabulous news - I have joined the team at DeliverLean.com, a gourmet food delivery company in Boca Raton, FL., and as the new Director of Public Relations it is my job to promote the convenience of healthy eating! DeliverLean's mission to help people get healthy is very much in line with my own beliefs and I am very grateful to be working with this company.
Right now we average about 70,000 meals a month and offer Traditional, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Organic and Vegetarian meal options. We even have a new line of 100% organic, cold-pressed juices and gluten-free desserts (talk about great work benefits when I get to sample them!) I will keep you updated on more news as we are launching some great products soon.
While right now I am working at DeliverLean part-time, I am still coaching clients and making Raw Vegan Food. So with that in mind, I want to share some November tips, especially on how to avoid that famous Thanksgiving Food Coma
When we think of Thanksgiving a few images may come to mind: roasted turkey in the middle of the table, family members gathering together, football game on TV and the often inevitable food coma. While we love our holiday traditions to repeat annually, this year I want to propose a new ending to your thanksgiving feast - a comfortable satisfaction and easy mobility. Here are our top 3 tips to avoiding Thanksgiving Food Coma:
1. The week of Thanksgiving: I often see people over-indulging at Thanksgiving because they deprive themselves in weeks before the holidays. To avoid overeating in one big meal, allow yourself small treats through out the month. For example, at DeliverLean we have guilt-less desserts that can be enjoyed any day of the week. Their low-calorie Spiced Pumpkin Pie muffins are a fabulous way to satisfy a sweet tooth which can help clients be less likely to over-indulge in a traditional pumpkin pie after the big dinner.
2. The Day of Thanksgiving: Make sure you eat small balanced meals through out the day, especially before the big turkey dinner. The impulse may often be to dramatically restrict your calories beforehand, however that may backfire when your eyes become bigger than your stomach. Instead of starving yourself, enjoy small, portion-controlled, balanced meals with your favorite holiday flavors. That way when dinner comes around you won't be anxious to dig in and instead will make the best food choices for yourself.
3. During Thanksgiving Dinner: When you find yourself sitting in front of all your holiday favorites, first thing to do is to take a deep breath and make a conscious plan of what dishes you would like to indulge in first. Fill up half of your plate with green veggies and salad, one quarter with your favorite starchy side dishes and leave a palm-sized space for the protein.
Slow down during the meal and focus on enjoying the conversations with the family and friends. Wait 20 minutes after you are done with your plate before you reach for the seconds. If you choose to get more food, eat it slowly and with gusto and pleasure. By taking your time to eat slowly, chewing every bite and enjoying every morsel, you will help your body do its best to digest the food and leave you happy and satisfied.
One of the biggest challenges my clients face when they start working with me is discovering that deep inside them there is a voice that sabotages their successes. Somewhere deep inside there is a voice that keeps telling them that they are not good enough… Continue reading here.
One of my favorite Disney movies is Beauty and the Beast. Little girls from an early age are taught to look through the looks and love people for who they are. I think we all consciously try to do that. Except for one person. In my line of work I often see women who can't fall in love with themselves. Continue reading here.