get happier, be happier

2 Feb

I always say that good mental health is very important for all-over good physical health.  The mind-body connection is crucial and remaining positive is absolutely necessary for good health.  But that’s difficult if you’re constantly reading negativity or engaging in silly debates.  I’m talking about Facebook, of course.

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Lately, it seems Facebook has become a haven for negativity and sadly, it’s getting worse instead of better.  I see people being cruel for the sake of being cruel, starting political debates (that will NEVER end well since they won’t change your mind and you won’t change theirs), and acting superior and judgmental towards complete strangers as well as personal friends, all from the comfort of their cushy computer chair. I also see well-meaning folks posting positive updates, only to have them turn into a nasty, negative thread of hot debate mixed with narcissistic bullshit.  ~Sigh~  You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Perhaps it’s people on your friend list, or perhaps it’s you.  Take a look at your last 50 posts on Facebook and count how many are positive.  How many of them are smile-inducing?  A good bit?  Or are you finding that you mostly post sensitive topics that deal with religion, politics and other fun subjects that really bring people together in loving acceptance?  (note sarcasm) Seriously, go count them.  Are you mostly uplifting your friends, or bringing them down?  Are you creating a peaceful environment for yourself?  Or creating drama and hurt feelings?  Hmm…

If you are often involved in such debates or starting them, there is no way you are as happy inside as you could be and I know from experience.  I sometimes get caught up in them myself.  Do I ever feel better afterward?  NO.  And be honest, neither do you.

So, let’s get HAPPIER!  There is an app called “Happier,” and I’m so grateful I found it. I could not wait to share it with you.

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I no longer look at Facebook as soon as I wake up in the morning, and I no longer check my Facebook newsfeed before I go to bed.  I log into Happier and wake up smiling and go to bed positive and content.

It is so very refreshing. 

Studies prove that people who share gratitude are happier than those who do not.  I keep a gratitude journal and now, I have a gratitude “social network” to match it!  Yes, please!  They even offer a guided 21-day “Happier” course for just $19.99.  The app, however, is 100% free.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like Facebook.  I have met some amazing people through this social network, helped change countless lives through clean-eating shares, and even raised enough money through Facebook fundraisers to save an animal and a child, to boot.

So yeah, Facebook can be great.  But some of the people on Facebook are not so great, and it’s sometimes difficult to delete all the negative people from your feed.  Happier, on the other hand, is a social network full of people who prefer to focus on the POSITIVE things in life and their status updates prove it.  I smile every single time I check my Happier account, and I think you will too.  Because when you see only happy, you feel only happy.

Here is a great testimony from a fellow Happier user.  Note the time reads 2:36 a.m.  My foster kitten woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep.  So I checked my Happier and read some happy reviews.  I easily fell back asleep with a smile on my face :)

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And here’s another spot-on testimony…

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They even send you uplifting emails!

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How is that for customer service?  Telling me I’m awesome…twice?  Wow!
The grass is indeed greener on this side.  Hope to see you there!

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To Your Good (OVERALL) Health,
Raw Rebecca

 

a raw rant

28 Aug

I recently took a bit of a break from my Raw Rebecca Facebook page because I got sick of it.  Yep, it’s true.  “It” being the fact that I can’t post anything without someone taking issue with whatever it is I splashed on MY wall.  It seems that even the smallest thing can be bent out of shape and turned into a nutritional nightmare with people arguing over what they feel is right/wrong.  I’m sick of it, and the stress it evokes.  WHY is nutrition such a hot button?  Shouldn’t we all be on the same side?  Shouldn’t we all be patting each other on the back for healthier choices, rather than picking each other apart?  I even considered deleting my Facebook page altogether.  But cooler heads prevailed.

After my break, I came back strong, and started posting regularly again.  It felt good, and for awhile, everything was pleasant.  Until today.

996929_428203840621809_977615771_nI posted a photo of a huge plate of fresh garden vegetables with bowls of cut-up tomatoes and cucumbers.  My Mother sent me the photo.  I was so proud of my Mom, I posted the photo on my Facebook page, with the caption: “My Mom just sent me this photo of her dinner. Go Mom! And it’s all from a garden. Local, organic and delicious.”  Now seriously, how could anyone turn this into something negative?  Oh, it’s possible.  Ready for this?

A woman immediately (within about 60 seconds) questioned it, saying they “hope” that’s not all she had for dinner.  As if this is any of her business.  I stayed calm, and asked “Why?” to which she responded, “Because tomatoes and cucumbers do not a rounded meal make.”  Well, thank you, Department of Stating the Obvious.  My Mother eats more than raw vegetables during her daily routine, but even if she didn’t, what concern is it of yours?  Sigh.  I politely responded that sometimes it’s okay to eat big bowls of raw veggies for dinner.  The response: she deleted me.

And then there was the person who gave me shit over posting a healthy, plant-based recipe that included COOKED (oh, no, not cooked!) cauliflower, and then went on to judge anyone who doesn’t eat 100% Raw, because it “was the only thing that worked” for her.  Once this person heard that I don’t always eat 100% Raw, she rudely suggested I change my name, because “it’s misleading.”  I remember sharing that bit with my husband, to which he replied incredulously, “Are you effing kidding me?”

Newsflash #1: I created the name “Raw Rebecca” before I knew that a Raw Food Movement even existed.  The “Raw” part of my name refers to “Raw Emotion,” as I promised I would really put myself out there emotionally, even posting “before” photos of myself that I used to find embarrassing – all in the name of helping other people.  It was a coincidence that I later discovered Raw Foodism and fell in love with it.  Newsflash #2: The vast majority of Raw Foodists are NOT 100% Raw.  Many eat cooked food on occasion, just like me.  The definition of a Raw Foodist is anyone who eats 70-100% Raw.  I explained this to her.  I also told her that a Raw food diet doesn’t work for everyone, as we are all bio-individual.  The response: she deleted me.

And then there was the guy who called me “ignorant” for telling a friend it’s okay to eat mushrooms.  I politely told him I disagree with his stance, and explained why mushrooms are healthy.  The response: he deleted me.

Good riddance on all three accounts.  There are many more, but I don’t want to turn this blog into a book.  You get the idea.

When I first discovered the secret to good health (a clean, plant-strong diet), I wanted to share it with the world.  I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, partly because I couldn’t believe how darn easy it was to lose weight, feel happy every day, and get off all those medications.  I fully admit that I went overboard on occasion, and probably annoyed my friends and family members.  Don’t do that.  Don’t be that person.  And especially don’t be the asshole who blatantly judges someone’s plate of food, no matter if that plate is full of raw veggies or greasy cheeseburgers.  Trust me, you will turn them OFF from healthy eating altogether.

Then we have the Vegan problem.  Yesterday, someone posted a news article on a Vegan page, which discussed how Alanis Morissette is now 80% Vegan, inspired by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Campbell’s The China Study.  The ensuing comments included calling this lovely woman “an idiot” for not being 100% Vegan.  Seriously?  Can you imagine if the whole world went 80% Vegan?  The health care crisis would mostly disappear, the environment would be spared, and a LOT less animals would be killed.  We need to focus on what people are doing right, not what we perceive them to be doing wrong.

You know, I’m not perfect, either.  Would you bash me if you knew I willingly ate my Mother’s amazing (non-Vegan) Christmas cookies every December?  Would you delete me if you knew a touch of dairy slipped into my diet while vacationing with my family this past Summer?  Even though I ate Vegan the rest of the year?  If so, you’re the one with the problem, and I prefer that you do just that – delete me.  That type of attitude is incredibly counterproductive.  Even Dr. Esselstyn admits to eating a piece of chocolate every New Year’s Eve.  Does that discount all the good choices he makes?  Of course not.  Again, don’t be that person.  Or, do be that person, if your goal is to turn people right back to eating the Standard American Diet.  And I’m pretty sure that’s not your goal if you’re following this blog.

Do be the person that leads by polite example.  I myself have fine-tuned my approach and subsequently turned more people plant-based (or even plant-strong, eating much less meat/dairy than before) than I ever would have with the holier-than-thou, judgmental approach.  If people see you transform into a healthy, happy individual, they will ask how you’re doing it, without you preaching a word.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about the amazing benefits of a plant-strong diet, because we should.  But watch how you go about it and always ask yourself: will my words help, or will they hurt?  And finally, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.  This is especially good advice for the newbie plantlings out there.  Follow Mista White’s example and tread carefully.

Special thanks to Paige Marie for allowing my cooler head to once again prevail with her thoughtful remark:

“Rebecca you’ve inspired me for ages and the most important thing you’ve taught me is to be patient with others, especially when they choose to change thier diet or learn about nutrition. It’s too bad others can’t learn from that as well. You are loved and supported by many people here.”

This simple, kind comment made me realize that for every judgmental meanie-pants out there, there’s hundreds of grateful, kind folks who appreciate what I do.  Thanks for that, Paige.

In short, I’ll keep on keepin’ on and try my best to acquire thicker skin.

To Your Good Health,
Raw Rebecca

raw rebecca’s 30 day squat and plank challenge

20 Jun

For those of you who plan to join me on my 30-day Squat and Plank Challenge, today is the day it all begins!

Join my new Facebook Challenge group for daily support: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549093585147943/

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We can do this together!

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This blog post serves as a how-to guide for those who wish to learn the proper way to squat and plank.  I just did my squats and I am burning, baby!  Yeah!  Now time for a Green Smoothie with some hemp protein!

Check out this woman’s before-and-after photo…inspiring!  If you want to really see the results on yourself, consider taking a “Before” photo today.  I had my hubby take mine in my favorite bikini bottom.  I can’t wait to see the “After!”  Take a frontal before photo, too, as the planking will trim our bellies.  And remember to sweat every day as well.  Cardio is good for the heart.  A short run or power walk will do.

Let’s get toned for Summer…and beyond!

Our starting date: Thursday, June 20.
Our ending date: Friday, July 19 (but who says we’re going to suddenly stop on this day?)

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Here’s a great video to teach you how to complete a proper squat.  Remember, if you have back, leg or knee trouble, please talk to your doctor before joining me these next 30 days.


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And here is how you complete a proper plank.  Yes, you will feel it all over your body!

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To Your Good Health (and Fitness),
Raw Rebecca

vegan cuts…a monthly must-have

11 Jun

I recently tried out a fun and exciting home-delivery service that made me so very happy, I had to share.  It’s called Vegan Cuts (www.VeganCuts.com) and it rocks, y’all!  Essentially, you get a “Vegan Christmas” once per month.  Um, yes please!

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Once you subscribe, a box will arrive to your home once per month, full of delicious and healthy 100% PLANT-BASED goodies.  Whether you are newly Vegan, a seasoned Veteran, or an omnivore who enjoys the finer side of healthy snacks, Vegan Cuts is for you!

It’s so much fun ripping open the box to see what hidden treasures lie within.  I was certainly not disappointed!  My husband and I enjoy road trips and camping/hiking excursions, so we are always on the lookout for some good Vegan fuel.  We hold the belief that variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to our diet.  Thankfully, our Vegan Cuts box was full of that spice!  We gleefully dove into our box with enthusiasm that rivaled that of the original Ralphie and Randy, minus the pink bunny suit.  And what we found blew Red Rider himself out of the water.

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I had not yet tried the majority of the items inside and I loved them all. I even found a new favorite snack in the Falafel Crunchy Chickpeas.  My husband and I fought over the crumbs.

Vegan Cuts is especially great for folks who live in rural areas and don’t have easy access to stores that sell such awesomeness.  It’s also great for kids, there’s something in each box for everyone!

Check out the Vegan Cuts website HERE and follow them on facebook HERE

HURRY!  Today is THE LAST DAY to sign up for the June shipment!  Get ya some!

To Your Good Health,
Raw Rebecca

win a copy of raw and simple!

13 Mar

I was honored when my fellow Wellness Warrior, Judita Wignall, asked me to be an official recipe tester for her new book Raw and Simple, Eat Well and Live Radiantly with 100 Truly Quick and Easy Recipes for the Raw Food Lifestyle.

Since I loved her first book, Going Raw, I couldn’t wait to see what she had up her sleeve for the next book.  I was not disappointed!

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Judita Wignall is a commercial actress, print model and musician from Los Angeles who, like me, discovered the healing power of raw foods.  Aside from our undisputed awesomeness (or should I say rawsomeness), Judita and I have some things in common!  We both suffered health challenges and we both cleared them up with clean, raw foods.  We are also both Holistic Health Coaches, on a mission to share the message that anyone can benefit from the healthy lifestyle that raw eating provides.  And thanks to books like Raw and Simple, anyone can do it, quickly and easily.  Oh, and no dehydrator required! 

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Raw and Simple offers an easy and informative approach to Raw Foodism.  This isn’t just a collection of recipes.  Raw and Simple starts with three chapters, chuck full of helpful information from Superfoods to Xenoestrogens to Detoxing and more.  Her tips and techniques section will help you understand what equipment you will need, how long to soak your nuts, and even how to open a Young Thai Coconut.  For quite some time, I refrained from making recipes that called for Young Thai Coconuts, because I was downright fearful of opening them.  I finally bit the bullet and followed Judita’s detailed advice, made even easier with photos, and cracked open my first coconut like a boss.

My husband asked for seconds when I made the Heirloom Tomato Stacks on page 115.  This dish was not only fun to put together, but incredibly delicious with flavors bursting from the cilantro pesto and sun dried tomato spreads.  We also ate the leftover sun dried tomato spread on raw herb crackers and as a salad topping.  Delicious!

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As a busy Raw Foodist, I especially love this book because the recipes are easy and do not require hours of prep work.  With over 100 original dishes to choose from, your taste buds never suffer from boredom.  You will find recipes from smoothies and breakfast through dinner and desserts.  In addition, Raw and Simple offers meal plans, shopping lists and other checklists that teach the readers how to really use the book to its full potential.  Whether you are trying to transition to a Raw lifestyle or a seasoned veteran, you will love this book.

Some of the ridiculously good and good-for-you recipes include:

  • Maple-Dijon Brussels Sprouts
  • Thai Veggie Noodles
  • Root Vegetable Slaw
  • Cherry-Hemp Muesli
  • Watermelon-Fennel-Mint Chiller
  • Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Colorful Cabbage Salad
  • Cauliflower Couscous
  • Carrot-Ginger Coconut Soup
  • Orange-Cranberry-Apple Relish
  • Herbed Pecan Pate
  • Orange-Almond Truffles
  • Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Cookies
  • Apple Pie Smoothie
  • Winterland Salad
  • Cucumber Basil Soup
  • Creamy Kale Salad with Capers and Hazelnuts

Raw and Simple integrates a raw food platform with holistic health and wellness, thereby providing you with the necessary tools to make the switch and start feeling healthier and more energized immediately.  Start slowly, make one delicious raw meal per day.  You will love how you feel so much, you will be excited to incorporate more and more raw food dishes into your everyday life.

If you’re ready to start reaping the benefits of raw foods, go to my FACEBOOK page and leave a comment telling me why!  What intrigues you about Raw Foodism?  Do you have a health issue you’d like to clear up? Do you need more energy?  Share with me and you could win a FREE COPY of Raw and Simple!  The winner will be announced on my Facebook page in one week.

Please enjoy one of my favorite recipes from Raw and Simple, the Superfood Seed Bars.

Again, no dehydrator necessary!

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Superfood Seed Bar
“This nut–free, mineral–rich bar is just heavenly. It contains all my favorite superfoods held together with creamy tahini and coconut oil. Be careful you don’t overdo it: It is hard to stop with just one. High in protein, zinc, calcium, and essential fatty acids, this makes a great post–workout or anytime snack, and I love that it’s not too sweet. I use low–glycemic coconut nectar, but you can use yacon syrup, maple syrup, or agave if you can’t find it in your area.”

Makes 16 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes

½ cup (118 ml) coconut nectar
1⁄₃ cup (80 g) raw tahini
1⁄₄ cup (59 ml) coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1 vanilla bean, scraped or pinch of vanilla powder
1 cup (140 g) pumpkin seeds
1 cup (30 g) (145 g) sunflower seeds
½ cup (75 g) goji berries
½ cup (80 g) shredded coconut
1⁄₄ cup (36 g) black sesame seeds
1⁄₄ cup (24 g) cacao nibs
1⁄₄ cup (24 g) hemp seeds
Pinch of salt

In a blender, process coconut nectar, tahini, coconut oil, and vanilla until smooth and set aside.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients. Add in coconut nectar mixture and mix well using your hands. I recommend wearing gloves. It’ll be pretty sticky.

Take half of the mixture and place it in a food processor. Process until the mixture breaks down into very small pieces. Transfer it back to the mixing bowl and combine it with the remaining mixture using your hands.

Press the mixture into an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) pan lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap and place in the freezer until firm, about thirty to sixty minutes.

Cut bars into desired pieces and store in the refrigerator or freezer if you like them chewier. This will keep for one to two months in the refrigerator or freezer.

To Your Good Health,
Raw Rebecca

little girl chooses animals over birthday gifts

5 Mar

I normally blog about how proper nutrition can change your life for the better, as it did mine.  But today, I was inspired by a child to send a new message that is equally as important as a healthy diet.  A message of selflessness, love and giving.  All of which are also necessary for good health!  Helping those less fortunate, whether it be animals or people, feels good, and when we feel good, we are less likely to put junk in our body, so in a sense, this fits right in with my usual message.

Enjoy this heartwarming story, and please share it.  Perhaps it will inspire other children, and us adults too, to do the same for an occasion that calls for gifts.  If we could all be like my friend’s daughter, little Kiara, and ask less for ourselves and give more, what a world this would be!

Little Kiara Triplett loves animals.  She loves her pets at home…

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…but she also loves the homeless pets at the local animal shelter, the Belmont County Animal Rescue League.  She loves them so much, she did something unthinkable for most kids.  She gave up her birthday presents.  For Kiara’s 7th birthday, she asked her friends and family members to bring donations for the shelter animals, rather than gifts for herself.

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Kiara enjoyed a birthday party at the local bowling alley, where the “gift table” filled quickly as her guests arrived, but not with gifts.  The table filled up with pet food, toys, treats and more.

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Thanks to Kiara’s loving and giving nature, she was featured in her local newspaper!

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Kiara proudly carried the loot into her home to look over the treasure before delivering it to the animal shelter.  She knew that this pile could have been full of shiny and new presents for herself.  But this amazing little girl preferred a pile of cozy beds, pet food and yummy treats for homeless pets because she knew it would make their time there a bit easier.

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I am so moved by this child’s generosity, I want to give, too.  Perhaps you have a child who gets a weekly allowance and is inspired by Kiara’s story.  Well, they can give, too!  I have created a fund in Kiara’s name so we can make her birthday even brighter with more donations to her favorite animal shelter.

All donations will go to the Belmont County Animal Shelter in Kiara’s name.  Happy birthday, Kiara!  Keep inspiring!

Click this link to check out Kiara’s Animal Fund page, and please share! 
http://www.gofundme.com/kiaras-animal-fund

I hope this story inspires others to do the same.  Most of us have everything we need.  Try asking for donations to your favorite charity rather than gifts for yourself.  As the old saying rings true, tis better to give than receive.

To Your Good Health AND Happiness,
Raw Rebecca

Follow me on FACEBOOK for more healthful tips, recipes and good times!

i am not an orthorexic

5 Mar

Orthorexia nervosa, also known as Orthorexia, is a term (although not listed in the DSM) some practitioners use to characterize people who develop an obsession with avoiding food in which they perceive to be unhealthy.

Today, a fellow on Facebook blocked me because I told a friend it’s okay to occasionally enjoy some mushrooms (a fungi) after he told her she must “stay away” from them “if she wants to be healthy.”  He also took offense when I subsequently listed the health benefits of raw apple cider vinegar.  He went as far as to send me a private message, saying he wanted to “protect people from my ignorance,” because I am promoting “poisons.”  Then he quickly blocked me before I could respond.  I have to admit, I was a bit amused.

I have also received several negative comments after sharing recipes for various plant-based or raw/vegan desserts, due to their sugar, oil and fat content.  I think it’s obvious that such things are treats, and should be eaten rarely.  As such, I will continue to share these recipes.

Although I said I was amused, I was also worried.  Worried for my friends who read the exchange, many of whom have recently embarked upon a healthy change in their diet and lifestyle.  Restrictive “warnings” like this can easily make a person feel overwhelmed and sometimes, depending upon the warning, instill an unnecessary fear.

If you make a healthy meal, and happily share your progress, only to be picked apart for what’s “wrong” with it, you may feel frustrated and think, “To hell with it all, I’m going to McDonalds!”  Don’t let someone sway you back to this stage…

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I personally know people who have done that very thing.  So please, please, please do not let overly-restrictive people like this sway you from your baby steps to good health, which is how I recommend doing it.  Do not try to be perfect, especially in the beginning.  Let yourself evolve slowly and see where this journey takes you.  In the beginning, had you told me I’d end up a (mostly Raw) Vegan, I would have probably laughed.  But that’s how I evolved.  It’s where my unique journey took me.  Yep, a Raw Vegan who sometimes eats those deadly desserts and scary mushrooms, like the ones in this delicious veggie burger ;)

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Remember to celebrate your better choices, too, rather than get hung up on the rest.  If you’re eating a mushroom burger as opposed to a cheeseburger, I’m going to praise that healthier choice, not lecture you for eating fungi.  And get ready.  You are going to hear a LOT of conflicting information, as nutrition is a fledgling science.  You’ll hear from people who think it’s their way or the highway, and there is no room for anything else.  It’s almost political.  And just like real politics, it can make you crazy and want to turn off the tv (aka go back to the Standard American Diet).  Just remember that every little step you take, is a step in the RIGHT direction.  You’re never going to please everyone, so worry most about pleasing yourself.

Now, I am not here to judge people who eat ONLY healthful foods.  If that works for you, then great!  But please do not push it in an extreme manner onto others, especially those just starting out on their journey.  If someone needs an extra apple in their Mean Green juice to make it more palatable for them, praise them for wanting to drink green juice at all, rather than lecturing them for adding too much sugar.  

As for me, I eat a clean, plant-based and mostly Raw (anywhere from about 70-100% Raw) diet, so some may think I am an Orthorexic, but I do not abstain from meat, dairy and processed foods only because I deem it to be unhealthy.  Yes, I know those foods will devastate and injure the inner linings of my arteries, but my reasons for not eating them go further than that.  Quite simply, they make me feel like crap.  Through my own experiments, I have come to the overwhelming conclusion that when I do eat animal-based foods and processed foods, I feel sick, depressed and tired.  And if I eat too much cooked food, I feel weighed down.  I also dislike how animal-based foods are often inhumane and harmful to the environment.  Therefore, it would make sense for me personally to eat plant-based foods.  For my husband and I, life truly is better Vegan!

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But with this being said, I am still not perfect.  Yes, I said it!  I AM NOT PERFECT.  For example, if I am home for Christmas in Ohio, I will most certainly eat one of my Mother’s famous sugar cookies.  I only get them once every few years, and I therefore have no guilt in choosing between the beloved Angel, Star or Christmas tree cut-out and slowly savoring every bite.  Even Dr. Esselstyn from Forks Over Knives (who is so restrictive, he refuses all oils) eats a piece of chocolate every New Year’s Eve.  I think the problems lies in the extremes: eating a whole plate of those sugar cookies, or refusing to eat one at all, if you really want it.  If you’re having one of “those” days, wherein you know that one cookie will lead to five or ten, then by all means, steer clear altogether.  Otherwise, that one cookie will certainly not kill you, as long as you view it as a rare treat and move on, right back into your healthy plant-strong diet.

And I am aware that even vegan desserts often contain a good bit of oil, sugar and fat.  Although I know that sugar and the like is not healthy for my body, and my mind, I still sometimes enjoy a Snicker-doodle cookie…

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…or piece of cake from the Spiral Diner (a yummy Vegan eatery in DFW).  I simply make it a rare occurrence and be sure to split the cake (their pieces are huge) with a friend, otherwise I will feel sick.  It’s all about knowing our bodies and what we can take.  We are all bio-individual.

And I also know that a vegan hot dog on a wheat bun is not exactly healthy for me.  Fake “chicken” fajitas are not great, either.  But I am still going to enjoy them when camping with my husband.  It’s a tradition.  A tradition far healthier than our past ones, which included fatty beef sausages on white buns with a side of mayonnaise-based potato salad and several (yes, several) smores for dessert.  So if you’re making better choices than before, even if they’re not perfect, celebrate it!

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Beer and wine are acidic and high in calories.  But that knowledge isn’t going to stop me from enjoying the occasional adult beverage while tailgating with friends.  Because you know what else I bring on camping trips and tailgating parties?  Green juice!  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

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Overall, I believe in moderation, not perfection.  I am not an orthorexic and never will be.  And I am okay with that.

Follow me on FACEBOOK for more tips, recipes and good times :)

To Your Good Health,
Raw Rebecca

how to make 2013 your year

3 Mar

Did you wake up on January 1, 2013 with a gung-ho attitude that quickly turned into a ho-hum attitude?  Did you get a gym membership that hasn’t been used in weeks?  Do your running shoes or yoga mats feel neglected?  Do you have produce rotting in your fridge?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, this blog is for you.

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2 years, 2 months and 2 days ago, I woke up on January 1, 2011 with good intentions and a list of “Resolutions.”  My weight had crept dangerously to 180 pounds (I am 5’5”, which means I was considered obese with a BMI of 30).  So, naturally, the blaring words “LOSE WEIGHT,” graced the top of my Resolution List, as it did for thousands of others.  And like thousands of others, I failed.

I did lose a little, I got down to 173 pounds.  But overall, it just didn’t work, as Resolutions rarely do.  Putting pressure on yourself often ends in failure.  As does giving yourself an expiration date, i.e. “I must lose 20 pounds by June 1st.”

Although I had a bad start, 2011 was still my year and 2013 can still be yours.  It doesn’t have to start on January 1st.  How about today?

Nearly two months after I set that Resolution, I was sitting around, stuffing my face when I saw a photo of myself that made me realize I needed to get serious.  I vowed that moment to get healthy and stay healthy for the rest of my life – no big start date, and no expiration date.  Fast forward 2 years, and I am still keeping that promise to myself.  I have never kept my weight off this long.  And since starting this journey of eating clean and plant-strong, I have not suffered any illnesses.  No colds, no flu, no bronchitis, not even one sniffle or sore throat. That is quite the perk for a once very sickly person.

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For those who don’t know, here’s a bit of my background.  In the past 10 years, I have sampled a plethora of popular programs and diets in my seemingly never-ending quest to lose the fat and get healthy.  Calorie counting, Fitness apps, South Beach, The Zone, Adkins, etc.  I also tried Weight Watchers 7 times (a mixture of meetings and doing it myself at home).  I lost weight, then gained it back.  I lost weight, then gained it back.  I lost weight, then gained it back.  Are you seeing a pattern yet?

Every diet program I ever tried ultimately failed.  I finally realized why, and I’m happy to share my findings.  It’s very simple.  DIETS DO NOT WORK.  Why?  Because most diet programs are either too restrictive, or allow one to continue eating anti-foods, which are proven to be as addictive as street drugs.  Anti-foods have high sugar and fat (the wrong kind of fat), artificial ingredients/sweeteners, preservatives, chemicals, and toxins.  The perfect recipe for failure.  And fail I did.  Over and over again.

I did join Weight Watchers for my final attempt, as most of you already know.  The program can indeed work, especially if you eat plant-strong and eliminate the anti-foods (including their brand-name frozen dinners) and ignore the recommendation to drink 3 glasses of cow milk per day (not healthy!).  I proved this by making Lifetime Membership for the first time in my long history with Weight Watchers. As such, I do still recommend Weight Watchers for those who feel they need something to hold themselves accountable.  But truth be told, all you really need is a reboot with real food, which will change your taste buds and set you up for success.  After that, simple education and treating your body right is key.

And thus begins my recommendations for making 2013 YOUR YEAR.

1. Cleanse, Detox, Reboot

There is no better way to get started on your journey to good health than by detoxing.  It offers a clean plate, so to speak.  A fresh start.  It changes your taste buds and gives you clarity.  If you haven’t seen it yet (is there really anyone who hasn’t yet seen it?), watch “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.”  You can watch it free of charge on Hulu!  Click HERE.  Joe Cross and Phil Staples, the stars of the film, inspired me to try juice fasting as a means to detox, which changed my life forever.

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Cleansing and Rebooting has become very well-known, and there are numerous guided programs now offered.  If you’re not sure which one to choose, here are a few I highly recommend.

New Earth out of Austin, Texas offers a variety of cleanses.  I know the owners personally, and admire their vast knowledge on the subject, as well as their passion to heal people.  I also recommend their delicious raw/vegan snacks!  The Chipotle Chia crackers and Almond Inspiration are my favorites!

Click their logo to learn more about their cleanse programs…

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Christy Morgan, The Blissful Chef, is not only an accomplished cookbook author, but also the brains behind “Wellness Reboot.”  This online program offers great advice, recipes, workouts and more.

Here’s what Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committe for Responsible Medicine, had to say about this program: “Wellness Reboot has everything you need to change your life and reach your peak. You’ll get the facts about foods and health, with tips for making a diet transition easy, and absolutely fabulous menus and recipes, all infused with Christy’s irresistible energy. Chad brings you the smart way to work out, tailoring a program that will work for you, even if you’ve felt intimidated by old-fashioned exercise routines. As a doctor, I’ve long been a fan of Christy’s approach to health and nutrition, and I’m thrilled that Wellness Reboot lets people everywhere jump in to health.”

Click their logo to learn more about the Wellness Reboot…

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Want a quickie cleanse?  If you cannot afford a juicer, or you shudder at the thought of not chewing, but still wish to cleanse, do not despair.  You can cleanse your body and detox by eating delicious food, too!  My fellow wellness warrior, Chef Amber Shea, has created an eBook just for you!

Click on the photo below to check it out…

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2. Eat More Plants, Become a Nutritarian

You’ve conquered a Cleanse, your taste buds have changed, and you’re ready to ditch the Standard American Diet altogether.  It’s time to eat more plants!  Blend them, juice them, eat them, I don’t care how you do it, just get more PLANTS in your body.  Less packaged food, more fresh food.  It’s quite simple!

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I took baby steps with this part, and I recommend you do the same.  Start by reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman‘s book, “Eat to Live.”  Don’t like to read?  You can get it on CD!  Transform your daily commute into inspirational education.  Soon, you will be eating like a “Nutritarian” and everything will change.

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I also recommend learning about “Clean Eating,” via Tosca Reno and her book “The Eat Clean Diet Recharged.”  Eliminating toxins, chemicals and artificial foods from your diet will offer clarity, energy and better health in general.  You may find that you don’t get sick as much, or suffer from common headaches and the like.

After you start eating clean and adopt a Nutritarian lifestyle, you may find that animal-based foods don’t work well in your body, as I discovered for myself.  My plant-based diet is delicious and filling, and I never feel deprived.  Of course, I am a realist, and I know the whole world isn’t going to give up animal products.  To my omnivore friends, I say this: Just try it.  If you seriously decrease the animal foods and seriously increase the plant foods, you will feel lighter, clearer, and happier.  And for many people, after they eliminate it altogether, they really shine.  I am aware that we are all bioindividual, but I truly believe that a diet made of mostly, or entirely, plant foods will save our health and our planet.

Then give your kitchen a makeover.  Slowly remove the anti-foods and fill the newly-empty gaps with plants.  I started with green smoothies.  They can be quite delicious, and even kids like them.  Although a VitaMix is expensive compared to other blenders, once you use one, you’ll understand why.

The VitaMix blender was my first purchase in my journey to good health, and I knew it was worth the money after just 3 days of drinking the perfectly-blended green smoothies that came out of it.  Why?  Because I would have paid any amount of money to feel that good.  I was already giving my doctors a disgusting sum of money to provide me with prescriptions that only cost me more money (and didn’t fix my problems).  Why not spend it on something that could possibly get me off those medications?  And that’s just what it did!  I also make hummus, soups, dips and more in my VitaMix.

Worth. Every. Penny.

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You can save money by purchasing a Refurbished VitaMix blender from their website.  Both of my sisters have the Refurbished blenders and love them, they work perfectly and even come with a warranty.  See HERE.  Many Bed, Bath and Beyond stores also carry them and have been known to allow the customer to use their 20% off coupon, even though the coupon says it cannot be applied to VitaMix.

3. Practice Love, Acceptance and Gratitude

Love yourself!  Don’t sabotage yourself from the get-go with negative self-talk.  And STOP focusing on what you’re doing wrong and celebrate what you’re doing right.  Daily affirmations do wonders, as do what I like to call “Smile Sessions.”

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That’s right, Smile Sessions!  Look in the mirror and smile at yourself.  You smile at everyone else, but never yourself.  Think about it.  I’m right, aren’t I?  Studies prove that smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, brings about happy and positive feelings.  Just try it.  I felt cheesy at first, and ended up laughing.  But I kept doing it, and then started saying kind things to myself during my Smile Sessions.  I realized I had never done that, either.  I have said plenty of mean things to myself, to be sure.  But kind words, never.  Ms. Clark gave a good example, from the movie The Help: You is kind. You is smart. You is important.  Yes, I is!  And so much more!

Accept yourself and others.  Have you ever looked in the mirror and said, “Gosh, I’m fat,” or “Ugh, I wish I could change ____ about myself.”  Or perhaps you have spoken of others in this way.  What feelings did that evoke within you?  Answer: negativity, guilt, sadness, and anger.  I know from experience.  So what types of feelings do you think a Smile Session full of kind affirmations would evoke within you?  Answer: positivity, love, happiness, and peacefulness.  I know from experience.  I now smile in every mirror I pass by.  It’s not vanity.  It’s self love.  And we all need more of that.

Be grateful, even for the smallest things in life.  Stop wanting for what you don’t have, and appreciate what you do have.  Gratitude keeps you grounded, and brings about positive thoughts.  When we have a positive attitude, we are less likely to binge eat.  I have something called a Gratitude Journal, which I keep on my bedside table. Go to a bookstore and pick out a journal that suits you, it’s fun!  I even got one for my husband.  He uses it often and also finds in helpful in chasing away negative thoughts.

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Before bed, I write down three things for which I am grateful.  Otherwise known as the “Three Blessings Exercise.”  This is especially helpful for those who have trouble falling asleep due to negative thoughts or racing mind.  When you focus on your blessings in life, it’s nearly impossible to entertain a negative thought.  Just try it.  Here are a few entries taken from my own Gratitude Journal.

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4. Go Inside

Inside your mind, that is.  I highly recommend meditation.  It will restore your inner calm and give you peace.  And you can do it almost anywhere!  I often use meditation for naughty food cravings and it works every time.  If you suffer from panic attacks, stress or anxiety, meditation can be your new Xanax.  Yes, really.  And no harmful side affects.

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My husband lovingly called me a “hippie” when he saw me meditating around the house.  That is, until he tried it.  The morning of his PhD Defense, he was so anxious and stressed out, he barely spoke.  I could see the panic and dread in his eyes.  He longed for a stress pill, like a Xanax, to calm his nerves.  I told him to sit down with me on the floor, and I would provide an all-natural “Xanax,” that would leave him refreshed, clear and calm.  When he saw me get into my meditation pose, he paused, one eyebrow lifted suspiciously.  I asked him to open his mind and simply trust me.  He complied.  10 minutes later, he opened his eyes and softly said the word, “Wow.”  We practiced a few breathing episodes on the way to his meeting, too.  After his successful defense, he thanked me several times, and agreed that meditation is indeed like an all-natural Xanax.  If it worked for my skeptical husband, it will work for anyone.

Having an inner peace through meditation does wonders for weight loss and overall health, too.  As you may be learning from this blog, being healthy is so much more than what we eat.  If you want a healthy body for the rest of your life, you will also need a healthy, positive mind.

Meditation also costs nothing.  You don’t even need to purchase a meditation CD.  I have Pandora One on my iPhone and I use the meditation station.  Or, I visit YouTube and type “Meditation Music” and choose from one of the many offered.  I also enjoy this music when I’m writing in my Gratitude Journal or any time I want to feel more peaceful and calm (great for being stuck in traffic jams).

If you crave more information on this subject, I highly recommend this easy-to-read, influential book that will offer a clear introduction to mindfulness and meditation.  See HERE.

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Finally, watch this short video to learn how to meditate.

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5. Have Fun

Make time to do the things that make you happy.  We tend to be busy constantly, and I’m not excluding myself here.  Get out and have fun!  Preferably the type of fun that does not revolve completely around food or alcohol (slippery slope!).  Go to ball games with friends.  Join a rock climbing or kayaking group.  Start a fun exercise class with a friend.  Go camping.  Plant a garden.  Go hiking in a State Park.  Start a blog.  Sign up for a healthy cooking class.  Go boating.  Walk dogs at your local animal shelter.  And most importantly, stop spending hours on Facebook and Twitter and go live a real life full of activity and joy.

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6. Make New Friends

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  You are ready for a real, positive life change.  If your current friends aren’t cool with this, find new friends.  I’m not telling you to ditch your old friends, although that is sometimes necessary.  Sometimes, we must flick the negative and nasty people off the face of our world.  Life is too short to spend it with people who don’t support, love and accept you.

Find a like-minded group via MeetUp.com, or even start your own!  Host a healthy potluck for your new friends, or a movie/game night.  Go on Retreats.  I have met some truly amazing people this way.

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7. Find Your Favorite Workout

I used to hop on my treadmill and run.  I would watch the numbers go by, longing for the “End of Workout” to appear.  What fun is that?  Studies show that people who run outside have less stress.  This varies person to person, of course.  Some folks love their treadmills, and more power to them!  For me, it was boring and I always ended up quitting.  Finding something you love is essential in this journey.

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Although what we eat affects our body’s profile more than anything, exercise is indeed important.  It adds muscle tone, keeps your heart healthy, and decreases stress levels.  I love yoga, running, rock climbing and kayaking.  Find your passion and it will never feel like exercise.  You’ll actually look forward to it.

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8. Reach Out

Losing weight and/or getting healthy can be difficult on your own.  Most people do need help.  Ask for help from your friends and family members, and consider seeking out a Holistic Health Counselor, also known as a Wellness or Health Coach. Find one your area by clicking HERE.

9. Hide the Scale

If you’re the type of person who gets upset if the scale doesn’t reflect how hard you’ve worked, ditch the scale.  Do not let a little piece of mechanical junk dictate how you’re going to feel that day.  If you want to track your progress, allow ONLY one weigh-in per month.  And take your measurements only once per month as well.  I know many people who don’t like what they see on the scale after just one week, and quit.

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10. Keep a Journal

This is different from the 3-Blessings Exercise.  I often keep a Food Journal, wherein I write down everything I eat in a day, and how the meal made me feel.  I don’t count the calories and whatnot, I simply write down what food I ate and the result of consuming it.  One day, I drank a green smoothie for breakfast, enjoyed a marinated raw broccoli and quinoa lunch, and then ate a huge piece of cake from the Spiral Diner (my fav treat).  After my breakfast entry, I wrote “Wow, I feel incredible. I have positive thoughts and a lot of energy.  I am smiling for no apparent reason.”  After lunch I wrote something quite similar.  After my snack (the slab of sugar and fat-filled cake), I wrote “I feel tired, depressed and anxious. I am having some negative thoughts and can’t seem to calm them. Damn you, sugar!”  The next time I thought about running over there and getting another piece of cake, all I had to do was open my Food Journal and read that entry again.  I devoured a mango instead.  My sweet tooth was happy, and I was happy.

In closing, don’t wait for a perfect day, like January 1st, or the 1st of any month, for that matter.  Start TODAY.  Make March 3, 2013 your day!

Follow me on FACEBOOK for more tips, recipes and good times :)

To Your Good Health,
Raw Rebecca

raw rebecca’s herbed-up mean green juice

3 Mar

Fellow Juice Heads!

Have you ever thought of adding parsley to your Mean Green juice?  Well, you should! It does not change the taste much, and it offers a slew of health benefits.  This super herb has been under-valued as a mere garnish next to a T-bone steak for too long.  It is time parsley takes the stage!  Petroselinum crispum, you’re up!  No, that’s not a Harry Potter spell.

Parsley has numerous health benefits. Let’s talk about them before I share my “Herbed-up Mean Green” recipe.

Antioxidants

Parsley is a good source of antioxidants, like luteolin, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  What exactly are antioxidants?  Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect our cells.  And after free radicals damage our cells, causing oxidative stress, antioxidants rush to their rescue.  Free radicals would be the Joker here, attacking Gotham City (aka our cells), and antioxidants would be Batman.  We could all use more Batman in our lives.  Free radical damage is also linked to several yuckies like cancer, arthritis, atherosclerosis and other chronic diseases.  Those pesky free radicals also poke their unwanted noses into our immune system.  Therefore, Batman…uh, I mean antioxidants…keep you from getting sick, too.  Colds, flu, various infections.  And ain’t nobody got time for that!

Anti-Cancer

Parsley can help in the prevention of tumor formations, especially in the lungs, thanks to parsley’s secret weapon, myristicin.  It can also neutralize carcinogens and therefore assist in the fight against colon and prostate cancer.

Anti-Inflammatory

Many scholars claim that inflammation is the root of most diseases.  If you suffer from any type of inflammatory disorder like rhematoid arthritis, parsley can help you.  The flavonoid, luteolin, and the Vitamin C in parsley provide an anti-inflammatory ninja in your body that goes to work, kicking serious ass, especially if used on a regular basis.

Strong Bones and More

Parsley has gobs of Vitamin K, which we need for bone strength.  Moooove over, unhealthy cow milk, you’re no longer needed here.  Vitamin K is pretty awesome.  It helps our blood to clot, supports a healthy nervous system and prevents calcium build-up.  Calcium build-up can cause heart problems and even stroke.  Go Vitamin K!  Just two tablespoons of parsley offer 153% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin K.

Healthy Heart and Stuff

Otherwise known as Vitamin B-9, the folate in parsley can help the heart function properly and stay healthy overall.  Folate is also beneficial in fetal development, but pregnant women should not consume overly large amounts of parsley as it can have uterotonic effects.  Folate is also important in the development of red blood cells.  And we want those little buggers, because cancer can come a-knockin’ if we don’t have enough.  Folate is also important to the manufacturing of our body’s ass-kicking department, also knows as the white blood cells.

So now that you know how awesome this under-valued herb really is, let’s add it to our favorite juices!

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Raw Rebecca’s Herbed-Up Mean Green Recipe

5-6 Leaves Lacinto Kale (curly kale fine, too)
1/2 Bunch Parsley
4 Celery Stalks
1 Cucumber
2 Green Apples
1 Knob Ginger Root
1 Whole Lemon, peeled

Run through the juicer in this order: Kale, Parsley, Ginger, Lemon, Celery, Apples, Cucumber.  Drink and dance!

Follow me on FACEBOOK for more health tips, recipes and good times :)

To Your Good Health,
Raw Rebecca

raw rebecca’s ironman juice

2 Mar

Today is Day 1 of yet another awesome Reboot for my husband and I.  I thought it would be helpful to blog about my progress as well as the juices I make, and why they rock so hard.  You can also follow my progress by “liking” my FACEBOOK page.

This is my “Ironman” Juice.  I started my Reboot with this beautiful green concoction.  It is chuck-full of spinach, which boasts a high iron content. Move over, Robert Downey, Jr!  You too, Popeye!

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Whatcha know ’bout iron?

The body absorbs 2 – 20% of non-heme (plant-based) iron. However, this rate can be increased easily through food pairing. You can eat the non-heme iron with heme iron (animal sources), which you certainly don’t want to do on a juice fast, or ever if you are 100% plant-based. Or, you can simply add fruits that are high in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits.

My Ironman juice is therefore full of iron that your body can absorb easily. And, it tastes great, which makes it the perfect juice for beginners and kids.

You can also pair your spinach with other fruits and veggies that are high in Vitamin C in order to better absorb the non-heme iron. Try bell peppers, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, guava, melons, and pineapple.

Raw Rebecca’s Ironman Juice Recipe:

2 Pink Grapefruits, peeled
2 Oranges, peeled
2 Green Apples
2 Celery Stalks
4 Handfuls Spinach
1/2 Lemon, peeled

Run the spinach through the juicer first.  Then the celery, apples and citrus.
Yields approximately 32 oz of juice.
Drink and prosper!

To Your Good Health,
Raw Rebecca

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