The 5 Key Principles of Permaculture, the Easiest Organic Gardening Method

How to Easily Grow Your Own Organic Veggies with an Ecological Garden

By Jonathan White

Growing your own food is typically seen by the average person as either an art or hard work. As a result, it’s no wonder so few people do it seriously.
But what if there was a technique that was so easy and prolific that even the busiest single mom or corporate executive could grow a significant portion of their family’s food in less time than it takes to drive to the grocery store each week?
Ecological gardening just might be the answer. In my experience, it’s the ultimate modern-day convenience veggie plot.
I didn’t have a light bulb moment that said, “Oh, so this is ecological gardening”. My vegetable garden was no different from anyone else’s for many years — until I made a few significant changes.
The first change was squeezing far more plants into a given area. The second change was to never dig the soil. And thirdly, I upgraded my composting system. With these simple strategies my garden took on a life of its own.
Weeds virtually stopped growing in the beds and plants started living much longer. The garden could endure longer periods without water. I was yielding far more than I ever had and I could harvest every day of the year.
I wanted to know what was happening at a scientific level and applied my university training as an environmental scientist to understand why I was getting such amazing results. I had to completely let go of all my preconceived ideas as a gardener and look at the plot through the eyes of an ecologist. After some time I realized that I had created an ecosystem made up of edible plants, and it behaved in exactly the same way as a natural habitat.
I became more of an observer than a gardener and the role of head gardener was pulled from under my feet as nature took up the reins.

Nature works for free

The wonderful thing about mother nature is that she works tirelessly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nature follows very simple laws and works in the same way everywhere. When you create an ecological garden you are creating a living, breathing ecosystem. By doing this, you get nature working for you — not against you.

Why "Niche Spaces" are important

A pristine ecosystem is made up of thousands of living and non-living components all coexisting in a given area. Each living component occupies its own niche space and the role of the niche space is very important to understand when creating an ecological garden.
Let’s look at an example… Imagine a giant rainforest tree crashing to the ground after standing for hundreds of years. Such a large tree would have filled an enormous niche space. Lying in the soil, hundreds of dormant seeds spring to life, desperately fighting for their opportunity to occupy the best real estate in the forest — the empty niche space. Harmony is restored when that niche space is quickly filled.
When you look at a traditional vegetable garden with this type of insight, what you see is a very unnatural system. There is very little diversity and a lot of empty niche spaces. Nature enforces her will on vegetable gardens in exactly the same way she does a rainforest. This means that empty niches spaces will be filled as quickly as possible. However, in a traditional vegetable garden there are no desirable seeds waiting to fill the niches spaces, so weeds fill them instead.
The solution is to create a garden that has tightly filled niche spaces so that weeds don’t have any opportunities to grow. You can do this by planting the garden very tightly with a diverse range of plants of differing shapes and characteristics. The result is a dense jungle-like planting arrangement that can yield an unbelievable quantity of high quality food. The denseness also creates a highly protected micro-climate. This ideal growing environment causes your plants to last much longer. Cold sensitive plants are better protected and your greens don’t turn to seed as soon as a hot spell hits.

Managing an ecological garden – permaculture 

Managing an ecological garden – also known as a permaculture garden, or "forest gardening" – is different from managing a traditional vegetable garden. With an ecological garden, there is far less to do. As you become the observer and allow nature to take over as head gardener, you’ll notice that the garden is in a continual state of gentle change, just as with a natural ecosystem. In fact, the main labor in this style of gardening is harvesting!
Humans usually feel the need to control things and it can be difficult for the traditional gardener to stand back and simply observe. This style of gardening calls for a great deal of faith in natural laws. Certainly there will be times when you need to step in and direct the system in a certain way. However this is almost always because a certain plant species is too successful and the system is at risk of losing diversity.

The 5 Key Principles of Ecological Gardening

  • Plant densely
  • Plant a diversity of plants within a given area
  • Get a good composting system set up and use the compost as a surface mulch on bare patches
  • Allow some plants to go to seed
  • Only interfere with the system when a single plant species over-dominates (excessively crowding out other plants)

Controlling Pests Naturally

Pests generally locate their target plant species using sight or smell. The dense, mixed-up nature of the ecological garden creates a natural form of pest management. Imagine how much more difficult it is to see your target plant when its outline is blurred by a sea of green. And how could you smell your target plant when there are so many conflicting smells?
In addition, more plants create more types of plant-eaters. These different species of bugs compete with one another, sometimes even eating each other. Some plants attract certain predatorial insects such as lady bugs and centipedes, which in turn will each roaches and aphids. Many insects eat mold, keeping crop rot minimal.
The more types of plants you have, the more types of bacteria and insects you'll have. And the more types of insects and bacteria, the less that any one plant, bacteria or insect will be a problem. You'll also notice that more diversity of plants attracts butterflies and beautiful birds, further adding to the richness of nutrition and beauty of your garden.
If the above wasn't enough, many different herbs repel certain pests. But the herbs that basil repels are different than the pests that eat basil. The same goes for fennel, onions, tomatoes and so on. By planting them close together, even without research, you increase the chances of the diversity protecting your harvest.

Goodbye Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is practiced by dedicated gardeners for good reason. Different plants require different minerals from the soil, in different proportions. After an area has been planted with a certain species, the soil is left depleted of certain minerals. To lessen the effects of this depletion, a different crop will be planted in the area the following year. Additionally, many gardeners rest their garden beds periodically. Crop rotation simply isn’t necessary with ecological gardening. The mixed-up planting arrangement counteracts the effects of mineral depletion because a single species doesn’t dominate a single area.

Composting

Compost is an important part of the ecological garden and is a very valuable commodity. To me, composting is a way of building valuable nutrients that will, one day, feed me and my family. The average person buys food from a shop, consumes it and then throws the waste away. This is simply buying nutrients, taking what you need for that precise moment, and disregarding the remainder. It’s a nutrient flow that only flows in one direction.
Your goal is to keep the nutrients within your property where you can capitalize on them. This way you’re able to use the nutrients again without having to buy them a second time. In effect, you’re creating a nutrient cycle within your property that is self-sustainable and can go on indefinitely.

Time to throw away the hoe

Natural ecosystems don’t require gardeners with shovels and hoes to come along every season to turn their soil. Neither does an ecological garden. However, it’s best not to walk on the garden beds as this will cause unnecessary compaction. Of course, this requires the installation of permanent pathways that are positioned in a way that you can obtain access to the plot.
Digging soil upsets the soil structure which, in turn, reduces the soil’s ability to pass on valuable nutrients to plants. The loss of soil structure also reduces the soil’s ability to hold water. Developing good soil structure is actually the best water conserving technique I know. When practiced in conjunction with a dense planting arrangement, it creates a holistic soil ecology management plan. A dense planting arrangement will shade the soil’s surface, stopping surface crusting which causes runoff and nutrient depletion. Developing good deeper structure will allow soil organisms to do what they do best — turn organic matter into available plant nutrients.

Self Seeding: The future of your ecogarden

If you’re ever fortunate enough to visit a pristine rainforest, you’ll probably be awestruck by the towering canopy. However, the future of the rainforest lies in the soil in the form of seeds — tiny cells of life waiting for their opportunity to prosper. With an ecological garden, the future can be similarly ensured.
By allowing some plants to go to seed, you can build up seed stores, just like the rainforest. And like the rainforest, you should aim to have thousands of seeds of many varieties spread right across our plot. Most of these seeds will never germinate because in the ecological garden the niche spaces are so tightly filled that opportunities for new life are limited. However, eventually a plant will be eaten and an empty niche space will appear. If you have thousands of seeds lying dormant, any niche space will likely be filled with something desirable.

Who should set up an ecological garden?

Absolutely everyone from farmers to inner-city townhouse dwellers can have an ecological garden. It may seem strange, but if you’ve never grown food before then you are, in some ways, at an advantage. Experienced gardeners may like to see themselves as adopting some ecological gardening techniques, but find it difficult to let go of the need to control the system. As with all industries, the gardening industry can get stuck in doing things a certain way and most seasoned gardeners will inevitably over-work the garden.
If we can let go of our need to control every living thing on the planet, and start to work with nature, we actually gain more control by being able to grow food more efficiently than ever before. It’s a paradox — but it works!
To learn more about converting an existing vegetable garden to an ecological garden or how to start growing your own organic veggies, please click here.

About the Author

Jonathan White is a self-employed environmental consultant and landscape designer. He is the author of Food4Wealth, an eBook and video package that shows you exactly how to set up and maintain an ecological garden. Learn more here: Food4Wealth

How To Enjoy Holidays With Carnivorous Relatives

This post is by Trevor Justice with contributions from:
Nomi Shannon, author of The Raw Gourmet
Lara Adler, Holistic Health Counselor
Roberta Schiff from the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society
Raederle Phoenix, Raw Nutrition Expert
Whether you want to take a "gentle activist" approach at the dinner table, or a non-judgmental "Buddhist" approach, this article will be a Godsend.

You'll learn from the wisdom of four long-time vegans, and hear comical stories that help you realize that you're "not the only one".

If you have additional tips or suggestions to share with our community about this topic, we'd love for you to post a comment at the bottom of this post. If we like your suggestions, we may include them in a forthcoming ebook and credit you.

Disarming Hostile Situations

As a vegetarian, vegan, or raw fooder, you may find yourself in a situation where a host doesn't understand your dietary needs, or an omnivore at the dinner table questions your food choices. In your presence, they might feel judged or guilty for eating meat. In these situations, the last thing you want to do is add more fire to theirs.

Nomi Shannon recommends “smiling your biggest smile” and then saying in the most loving way that you can, “I feel great on this diet. It seems to be working excellently for me. As long as it continues to, I'm sticking to it.”
This is a really inoffensive thing to say. You’re not asking them to change. You’re just giving them a simple explanation with a huge grin on your face. Nomi says that she can guarantee that almost anyone will back down in the face of a beaming smile and a statement like that.
Omnivores often have developed some shame or guilt for eating meat, but not enough to give it up. So what happens? This makes them defensive. It can help to point out that you love them regardless of what they eat.
Lara Adler also uses a method of “disarming” verbal attackers. She likes to say, “I feel really great eating the way that I do, and that’s my motivation.” She admits that it's tempting to then ask, “What is your motivation?” But that isn't really appropriate for most formal holiday dinners.
Sometimes when you’re presented with arguments, you may feel like you need to fight the battle. Often the best way to “win the war” is simply to not fight, but to display your own personal health and happiness.
Lara says that disarming is the best way to go, even if somebody takes their knife and dings on a champagne glass and says, “Excuse me, I’d like to attack you… Why do hate me so much for eating the turkey?” You don't lose anything when you smile and state that your diet is working beautifully for you.
If somebody does pull you aside and say, “What’s the big deal with this diet thing you're doing?” or “Why aren't you eating like normal people?”, then you can simply ask – in a really polite non-defensive way – “Why does my personal choice bother you so much?”

Gentle Activism & Educating Your Family and Friends

Roberta Schiff suggests “gentle education” of omnivore friends and family. As long as you keep your statements factual and don't make any accusations. You can express that you feel a lot of sadness when you think about the way animals are raised and slaughtered. That it makes you unhappy that we feed so much of the grain we grow – about 80% in this country – to animals, and that this practice contributes to world hunger.
This moves the focus to how you feel. When you make a statement starting with “I feel” or “I think” or “I am affected this way”, then you're making a statement about yourself, not about them.
It's an “I” message, rather than a “You” message. This is sometimes called “nonviolent communication” or “compassionate communication”.
Instead of saying “you’re killing animals,” or “you should feel ashamed”, just talk about yourself; “I feel sad that so many animals are kept in cages and treated inhumanely.”
You'll need to gauge each meal and who is present for how you want to handle the situation. In some situations, keeping the topic far away from veganism and humane animal treatment may be the best thing you can do. Just stay focused on enjoying the company and being positive. In other situations, you may decide to drop one or two statements about how you feel.
Away from the dinner table, if you're approached and further questioned, you can try saying, “I’m noticing that you care a lot about what I eat. Why is it so important to you?”
The thing about it is, it’s no longer a debate about “Is it healthy?” “Is it moral?” “Is it better for the environment?” It’s no longer about any of that. It’s about, “Why is it important to you? Why do you care so much? Why does this matter to you?” That puts the ball back in their court.
In situations where someone becomes really offensive, it can be helpful to remember (and to tell yourself as many times as needed): “Everything they say is about them”. They likely have similar issues with other people; what they're saying isn't really about you.
I’ll give you an example, as a parallel. I have an uncle who is a bigot. He’ll say things that are very inflammatory at the dinner table. All my other relatives know it, too.
I can let myself get provoked and argue with him but there’s really no need, because everything he says is about him. Every time he says something bigoted, everyone knows that he is being insensitive. I don’t need to say anything about it for them to know that.
Likewise, if someone attacks you in a way that’s insensitive, even if your relatives don't come to your defense, they know that what was said was insensitive. You don’t need to say anything to make sure that they know it.
I had another experience years ago while I was having a raw food potluck at my house. A very hard-core raw food guy came over. Everyone else prepared a nice dish, something to be savored.
This man, he brought fruit. He didn’t chop it up or make a fruit salad. It was just whole fruit. He put it on the table and nobody ate it because the other food was more attractive.
At the end of the potluck I said to him, “You know, it would really be nice when you come again if you’d prepare a dish like the other people did.”
And he said, “Well I don’t believe in that, because if I chopped up the fruit and it didn’t all get eaten then it would turn brown and it wouldn’t be any good the next day. So this is the way that I like to bring it. If that doesn’t work for you then I just won’t come to the potlucks anymore.”
I had two emotions about this experience. On the one hand, I respected that he cares so much about not wasting food. On the other hand, he was really rigid. It was a mirror for me, because I realized that my family sometimes experienced me in the same way that I experienced this man. My rigidity, for them, was challenging to work around.
For a host to have to think, “Oh I have to now make a special soup that doesn’t have meat in it and a special this and a special that…” I suddenly understood what a challenge I was creating when I would go to family dinners and other events. That gave me some perspective.
Its important to make sure not to overwhelm your host with your dietary choices. If they feel like they can't work around it, then just bring your own.

Bringing Your Own

At one point in Nomi's life she drove five hours to get to her sister’s house a couple years in a row. She asked her sister nicely if she would be willing to make a salad. Her sister's response was, “I’m not going to make a salad on Thanksgiving.”
More recently, Nomi has started bringing plenty of her own dishes to Thanksgiving dinners with her family. She doesn't mention that they're “raw” or that they're “vegan”.
Nomi suggests not trying to contribute a particular part of the meal. Often if you say things like, “I’ll bring the cranberry sauce,” you'll just get replies like, “No, no, I have that,” or “No, no, I have a special recipe.” It's also easiest if you're bringing something that isn't expected to taste any certain way, so that if it tastes different, it can be evaluated on its own merit, not in comparison to something it is “supposed” to taste like.
When you bring something, you can “sell your dish” without ever mentioning its cruelty-free ingredients. You can say, “Oh I have this special favorite. It’s this incredible pie recipe. You won’t ever taste anything like it. It’s delicious.”
When you do this, without mentioning that its vegan, you avoid getting responses like, “For vegan pie, this is good.” What you really want them saying is, “For pie this is good.”
 
Nomi likes to bring gourmet raw food dishes like marinated mushrooms, sweet potato fillets, soft marinated savory-spiced greens and cranberry sauce.

By bringing her own, she knows she won't have to go without, won't have to obligate her host with special directions, and she'll be able to have a positive influence on her family all without ever having to get into a debate.

Raederle Phoenix and her husband similarly like to contribute eye-popping gourmet raw food dishes to traditional omnivorous holiday spreads.

Raederle has found that raw vegan cheesecake goes over extremely well. “They can't even tell its a healthful alternative,” she says. “After the meal, if I decide to tell them, they're always amazed at the healthful ingredients.”

In some families, people will leap at an offer to be relieved if their cooking duties. In these cases, you can offer to host and prepare the meal the way you like best. You don't need to mention or emphasize that you're making a vegetarian or vegan dinner. You can say, “I'll make everything but the turkey, and you can just bring that if you like.”
If you're looking for ideas for vegan and vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes, then you'll like "Enjoy Thanksgiving with Vegan Holiday Favorites".
Lara points out that its good to remember that any given dinner is just one out of thousands of meals you'll eat in a year. There is plenty of time for gourmet vegan dinners with veggie friends. If Thanksgiving can't offer a spectacular meal for you, that's fine. You're not there for the food, you're there for your family. If you want to go somewhere for the food and skip your family, that's a valid option to, and only you can decide whether or not that is appropriate for you.

Dealing With Cravings & Feeling Deprived

If you're worried about feeling deprived during a meal, then its an extra good time to examine whether or not you really need to go to this dinner, and whether or not you could go somewhere else. If you decide you definitely want to go, then come prepared.
Don't just bring yourself a salad and think you'll be okay with that. After you've finished your salad and the dessert comes out, you may find yourself uncomfortably wishing you had a healthful kind dessert of your own. Go ahead and make yourself the most wonderful dish you can possibly have for the occasion. Then there is no chance you'll be jealous of what everyone else is eating.
If you do make a mistake and find yourself at a meal and feeling deprived, it can be helpful to promise yourself to make a vegan version later in the week after you collect up the ingredients you'll need. And then follow-through on your promise so that you'll believe yourself next time you're in that situation.

Handling Communications

Lara and her father were once invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's place. The friend was mostly a friend of Lara's father, but he happened to be a vegetarian. His wife and children were not vegetarian, and they did serve turkey.
Since Lara hadn't seen this friend or his family for years, she asked her father politely, “Could you please remind them that I’m vegan and ask them if there’s anything that I can bring, because I’m happy to bring it.”
Her father replied, “Yeah, yeah. Sure, no problem. You know he’s veggie too.”
The day before Thanksgiving Lara said to her father, “Just checking in. You mentioned to them that I’m vegan?”
“Yeah, yeah, veggie. I remembered. I know. I wouldn’t forget.”
When Lara got there, the wife was still preparing food and Lara noticed that she was pouring cream into the mashed potatoes.
With a sinking feeling, she pulled her father aside and said, “Dad you told them I was vegan right, not vegetarian…”
“Veggie…?”
Lara, a bit flabbergasted, said, “Dad, I’ve been vegan for 17 years, you know there’s a difference right?”
Then, in front of everybody, her father exclaims, “Oh, I told you that she’s vegan, right?”
Of course Lara was mortified. The wife's response was, “Oh Richard, I wish you would have told me that yesterday. I’m so sorry. I don’t really have anything for you, Lara. There’s broth in this, and there’s butter in that, and there’s cream in this.”
That year Lara ended up having salad and cranberry sauce for her Thanksgiving dinner.
Lara's story is a good illustration of why you can never go wrong by bringing extra food. Roberta suggests avoiding situations like this by following this simple rule: If something is more important for you than for the other person, then take care of it yourself. So if a host or chef needs to be contacted, you make the call yourself.
You can tell by the response of the chef or host whether or not your dietary preferences are within their comfort zone. If they say – “I’m glad you told me, yes, I can make some modifications for you. What can I put in the mashed potatoes instead of butter and cream?” – then you’ve made some progress.
If they’re unable or unwilling, then just make your own.

Eating Holiday Dinners Someplace Else

Instead of accepting your family's invitation to a holiday dinner, you can choose to find a vegetarian, vegan or raw food dinner happening that same day, and let your family know that you'll be a few hours late to the family gathering. You can join your family for board games, cards, movies or discussion after the meal, and skip the unpleasantness of unshared food values.
Its especially common to find vegetarian and vegan holiday dinners on Thanksgiving day, because most non-meat eaters are at least a little disturbed by the dead animal on the table, especially when everyone is praising its flavor and preparation.
Most urban areas have a vegetarian and or vegan group as well as a raw food group on meetup.com. To use the site, all you need to do is type in your zip code and a search term such as “vegan” and you'll find the nearby groups. Once you've joined a group, you can look at the upcoming events, and even suggest an event if they don't have the sort of thing you're hoping for upcoming.
I was surprised when I went to Nashville, Tennessee. On meetup I found both vegetarian group and a raw food group. There were actually more people in the raw food group. There were 12 to 15 people that showed up for every meeting.
Raederle always opts for raw food gatherings when possible, including when traveling. She remarks that its easy to find raw food groups on meetup, even in places like Wichita, Kansas, they have active and thriving raw food groups.
In the Buffalo, NY, area, Raederle has gone to several raw vegan holiday dinners. “They're actually the best raw potlucks you'll ever attend,” she says. “Because people really go out of their way to prepare something special when its for a holiday meal.”
Another option is to put together a dinner with a few vegetarian and vegan friends and a few “orphans”.
There are always people who don't have anywhere to be on Thanksgiving and are delighted to be invited to your vegan dinner. Even if they’re meat eaters, they’d rather be with some people who are celebrating – even if it’s without meat – than spending the holiday alone.
None of us have to eat a holiday dinner with our relatives. It’s a choice. We could stay home and just make something ourselves. We could get together with our veggie friends, or eat with a local veggie group, or go out to a restaurant, or we can go eat with our family. Any choice is valid and great. Its just important not to lose sight of what you're choosing, and what that is going to mean for you when it comes to the meal.

If You Choose To Enjoy The Holiday With Omnivores… But Are Struggling

Remember that you're not there to convert them. You're there to spend quality time with people you love. Even if it hurts that the people around you are doing something unhealthy, remind yourself that you were not always where you are today, and you would not appreciate anyone else telling you what is best for you.
The chances are that your family is more likely to take it from someone else than from you. Nomi remarks that it doesn't matter how many books she writes, she'll be the same “schmo” to her family.
A friend of hers – another raw food person – put out a newsletter about that. He’d been trying so hard to get his mother to give up dairy. Recently, his mom called him with excitement in her voice. She had gone to a talk by Dr. Barnard and she was all excited that she wasn’t going to eat dairy anymore. He writes, “I could have said something like, I told you so,” but of course that wouldn't help. From this experience he realized that information his family really took to heart wasn’t going to come from him.
Whenever you make the choice to dine with omnivores, say to yourself, “This is not about the turkey or ham on the table. This is about getting together with my family.” Then take a moment to appreciate that.

How My Attitude Has Changed Over The Years

When I was younger, I was militant in my belief. I refused to sit at the table if anyone at that table was going to eat meat.
For two years I didn’t attend a lot of family dinners. I also had to decline invitations to dinners with friends or tell them, “Hey, I’m not trying to change you but if you order meat I’m not going to be able to sit with you.” Sometimes they’d be nice enough to order vegetarian, but not always.
For two years I kept up that policy, but then I found some situation where I just couldn’t bring myself to ask the people I was eating with because I barely knew them. They were acquaintances.
I started making exceptions. I realized I was holding my family and my close friends to a different standard, to a more difficult standard than my acquaintances. I realized that wasn’t really fair.
As I got older and allowed my mind to open a little bit. I realized that factory farms and widespread animal cruelty are still relatively new. Its only become such an unsustainable and inhumane practice in the last hundred or two hundred years. Individuals have hunted animals and fished in clean ocean waters for thousands years.
I choose not to eat meat. I’m fortune enough to live in a time and a place where I can thrive on a vegetarian diet. Not everybody has had that luxury.
At some point I realized that the real battle is against factory farming, not againt all meat-eating in general.
I read John Robbin’s book, Healthy at a Hundred, where he talks about the societies that are extremely healthy, even after they’re a hundred. All of these societies have in common a mostly plant-based diet, but none of these societies were purely vegetarian or vegan.
When I look at all these things, I think, “Who am I to judge all of humankind since the beginning of time?”
Those are some of the things that soften me in my judgment toward other people.

When Omnivores Try To Relate

Often I find people trying to find common ground with me and in some way. They’ll say, “Well, I’m not a vegetarian, but I do buy grass-fed beef,” or, “I don’t eat veal,” and I always praise them for that.
I’ll say, “That’s great,” as well as other positive affirmation. They’re trying to show me that they care, in some way, about how animals are treated or that they care about eating closer to nature and that’s good. That common ground is a great thing to have.

What do you say when someone says, “Well, plants are alive. They have consciousness. Why do you eat plants?”

You may feel that someone is being passive aggressive when they ask you this question, and perhaps they are. It is possible that they are asking seriously, or that they actually wish to have a philosophical debate with you. Regardless of their intent, its best to stay calm when you reply. If a question angers you, it may be best to give yourself a deep breath before answering, or even say, “I've got to run to the bathroom for a moment. I'll be with you later.”
If it's clear the person is trying to harangue you, you can brush off the question with, “Give me a break. Really!”
For a more serious answer, you can tell them, “Plants can’t run away. They’re not designed that way, whereas an animal can run from someone who’s trying to kill it. However if a person is really bothered by pulling a plant up or eating the whole plant then they can just eat things like fruits and nuts. Things that will fall off the plant on the ground and rot if nobody comes along to eat them. Even lettuces, radishes and carrots will rot if they are not pulled up and consumed.”
Another possible response is going back to the approach of turning the question around on them, “I notice you’re really concerned about my food intake. Why?”
You can even try to discover their motive for asking the question, “Are you asking me this because you actually care about plants, or because you just want to antagonize me?” And, of course, that’s embarrassing the person, but they asked for it. Unless, of course, they were just asking it philosophically, in which case they'll likely say so without a hint of embarrassment.
Depending on the situation, you might add, “Well, back in the times when animals got to live a free life, in the wild, the way they were supposed to, and then a person hunted them and killed them and ate them, that was one thing. I don’t have a problem with that.
“But when animals are in factory farms, inhumane conditions, they’re cooped up, they’re shot up with hormones and antibiotics, they’re castrated — that doesn’t sit right with me.
"My eating plants is no different than eating an animal that lived its entire life in the wild, free, like it’s supposed to.”
— Trevor Justice
Nomi’s website: www.rawgourmet.com
Lara’s website: www.laraadler.com
Roberta’s website: www.mhvs.org (The abbreviation for Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society)
Raederle's website: www.raederle.com

What Tips And Suggestions Do You Have?

Do you have more suggestions for our community? Please post them below. If we like your suggestions, we may include them in a forthcoming ebook and credit you. This is a super easy way for you to get credited as a contributing writer in one of our ebooks!

Alternative to Medication for Osteoporosis and Arthritis

By Vivian Goldschmidt, MA, founder of Save Our Bones (the world's largest natural osteoporosis community)
Television commercials and advice from your doctor can lead you to believe the secret to strong, healthy bones is drinking milk and taking drugs.
But that's a huge misconception and a big lie. If you're already vegan, then we've got good news for you.
Sure your bones need calcium. But if you consume large quantities of milk, you're actually draining your bones of this much needed mineral.
Here's why milk is a brutal bone thief:
Milk has an acidifying effect on your body.
Let me explain. Everything we put into our body gets processed and alters its acid/alkaline balance. And like everything in nature, the body tries to correct the imbalance. Because milk has an acidifying effect, your body automatically pulls calcium out of your bones to neutralize the acid attack.
Why calcium?
Because it is a potent neutralizer. That's why the main ingredient in some antacids is calcium.
Think of milk entering your body like a raging forest fire and your body's natural processes is the team of brave firefighters. So your body jumps into action and uses calcium to put out the acidic attack. And even though milk contains 300 mg of calcium in one cup, unfortunately, the net result is a calcium deficit in your bones.
Your body's blood, lymph, and spinal fluid all function at a very specific pH. Your body will do everything in its power to maintain their specific pH safe range.
First, your body will use the readily available supplies, such as the food you've recently eaten, to seek what it needs to balance the pH. If the food you've eaten is acid-forming and your body needs to keep the pH balance of your fluids more alkaline, then it will dip into your body's alkaline reserves — mainly your bones.
Here is why your alkaline reserve is so important: Following digestion, food is carried to the tissues where it is oxidized (that means that an oxygen molecule is added).
Both alkaline and acid mineral elements are set free — ideally simultaneously, so that the alkaline elements can neutralize the acids. If it does not happen simultaneously, the acid elements are instead neutralized by your alkaline reserve. Your alkaline reserve is mainly calcium, and most of the calcium will come from your bones.
Another reason your body needs to keep a careful pH balance is for the sake of your kidneys. If your urine were ever to have a pH lower than 5, that would cause extreme damage to the genitourinary tract.
So what should you drink instead of acid-forming milk?
Almond milk is a delicious alternative to milk. For omnivores and lacto-vegetarians, unsweetened fermented or cultured dairy products such as yogurt, kefir, and sour cream are okay to enjoy if consumed as the "acid food" in the 4 to 1 ratio described below. These fermented dairy products provide beneficial probiotics, but still have a mildly acidic affect on the body.

Food Combining For Bone Health

When choosing foods to include in a meal, follow this 4 to 1 ratio. Choose four foods that are alkalizing, such as lettuce, sesame seeds, avocados and bell peppers. Then choose one food that is acidifying such as tofu or whole wheat bread.
Keep in mind that foods such as lettuce and bell peppers are all much lower in calories than tofu or bread. Because of this, eat larger portions of the low calorie foods, relative to the portion size of the acidifying high calorie food.
For example, your meal might have three cups of shredded lettuce, a quarter of a cup of sesame seeds (or tahini), one cup of diced avocados, two cups of minced bell pepper and four slices of tofu.
By following the 4:1 rule, you can minimize bone loss from poor diet. This can be the critical change that brings your bones back to a healthy state. However, milk myths and the 4-to-1 ratio are just the tip of the iceberg.
In the Save Our Bones program, you'll discover that your bone health is in your hands. If you stop consuming bone-thieving foods and drinks (many of which are vegan) you can have the bones you had when you were younger — without turning to Doctors or drugs.
Since 2007, the Save Our Bones program has helped over 200,000 people who suffered with osteoporosis and osteopenia to naturally increase their bone density without pills, pain, or cost. Would you like to do the same?
This program is jam-packed with pure, unfiltered natural osteoporosis secrets that you can start applying right after you read it… information you won't find anywhere else.
It's guaranteed to reverse your bone loss and give you your freedom back. It's all based on scientific studies. It gives you the bottom line, simple actions you need to take to finally conquer osteoporosis and take your bone health into your own hands. And what you'll learn along the way will change your life.
To cure osteoporosis naturally, and read testimonials from people like you, click here.

Top 10 Detox Foods

The Top 10 Detox Foods

And how to easily incorporate them into your life

Is your sophisticated body machine overwhelmed by the junk in your life? Each day you inadvertently come into contact with environmental pollutants, cancer-causing chemicals, plastics, preservatives, and pesticides. This can bombard your body’s defenses. Are these toxins causing you to feel tired and gain weight?
Your intestinal wall is lined with tiny hair-like villi. This is where nutrient absorption happens. These villi provide a receptor site for your lymph (immune) system to filter out wastes. Keeping these villi intact is key to having high energy levels and a healthy weight.
Your intestinal villi can become congested with stress, illness, heavy foods, and hard to digest proteins like casein and gluten. When the villi become clogged, it becomes harder for them to filter out pollutants and chemicals, and impair nutrient absorption as well.
Common signs that the digestive system may need a spring cleaning:
  • Being especially prone to seasonal allergies…
  • Getting sick easily or often…
  • Frequent stomach sensitivity and/or bloating…
  • Sensitivity to foods that contain dairy, wheat or soy… (Many food-intolerance symptoms can be eradicated by strengthening the digestive system and immune system.)
You’ve probably heard of many cleanses. Colon cleansing and herbal regimens can be beneficial, but they can also be costly and uncomfortable. If you pursue those cleansing routes, I recommend seeking the guidance of an experienced professional, such as a naturopath, Ayurvedic doctor or holistic health practitioner.
There are also many wonderful foods that will naturally shore up your immune system, detoxify the organs of your digestive system, and support your body’s ability to heal from within.
Whether your immune system is functioning well or compromised, you can benefit from from the following foods.
Important Note: Strengthening and maintaining the health of your immune system is key to becoming and staying a healthy weight.
As a bonus, regularly including these foods in your diet will provide you with a broad spectrum of beneficial nutrients, including b-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamin C.

Top 10 Detox Foods and Suggested Uses

#1 Dandelion Greens

These mildly bitter greens help cleanse the intestinal villi, and contain an abundance of minerals and phytonutrients. They inhibit inflammation, and their mild diuretic properties aid in liver and kidney flushing.
  • Mix dandelion greens in a salad with thinly shaved beets, fresh ginger and fresh squeezed lemon for a super cleansing salad. Or try this detoxifying green smoothie recipe: 2-3 cups dandelion greens, juice of 1 grapefruit, 1 banana and 1 cup (or more) water.

#2 Sea Vegetables

Ancient man traveled for miles to obtain the medicinal benefits of sea vegetables (also known as seaweed). Sea veggies are rich in minerals and antioxidants that alkalize the blood and strengthen the digestion. Sea vegetables contain virtually all of the minerals found in the ocean; the broadest mineral spectrum in any living plant.
  • If you frequent Japanese restaurants, you may be familiar with sea vegetables like wakame, or nori. Try making your own nori rolled “sandwiches” at home. Kelp noodles can often be found in the grocery store, and are a delicious addition to any bowl of mixed greens. Spirulina is also readily available, high in protein, and is a great addition to green soup.

#3 Ginger

Ginger contains some very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which have been studied for their ability to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. In herbal medicine, it’s known as a carminative (a substance that promotes the elimination of intestinal gas), and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance that relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract).
  • Ginger can be enjoyed in many ways. Try slicing some pieces into a cup of tea, or with some fresh lemon and apple cider vinegar for a mild cleansing beverage. It’s a great addition to a green smoothie or fresh juice, and its warm spice adds a nice kick to curry dishes and soups.

#4 Fenugreek

Fenugreek contains mucilage, a demulcent (an agent that forms a soothing film over mucus membranes) that can relieve pain and inflammation in the intestines and stomach. Fenugreek also stimulates enzymes that break down glucose molecules, making it an effective sugar regulator as well.
  • Steep fenugreek seeds in hot water with a cinnamon stick and some fresh ginger for a delicious, blood-sugar balancing tea. Fresh fenugreek leaves and sprouts can be eaten raw. Fenugreek spice is warm, and is often found in curry dishes. Other demulcents include: coltsfoot, comfrey, flaxseed and oatmeal.

#5 Apples

Pectin, an important soluble fiber found in apples detoxes metals and food additives from your body, and helps cleanse the villi and the intestinal wall. Apples contain a flavonoid called Phlorizidin, which stimulates bile production aiding the liver in detoxification of waste.
  • Blend apples in your vitamix with water, add some fresh lemon and strain them through cheesecloth to make your own delicious apple juice (or juice them). Add apples to green smoothies, eat them raw with peanut butter, or dice them into a salad.

#6 Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a fantastic source of fiber, an essential component of healthy digestion. They absorb up to 12 times their own weight in water, and can absorb toxins from your gut wall along with it, carrying them out of your body. Along with fiber, chia is also an excellent source of essential fatty acid, calcium and antioxidants.
  • Try soaking chia in pomegranate juice and berries to make a tasty, antioxidant rich pudding, soak them in your favorite non-dairy milk and infuse it with vanilla extract, nutmeg and cinnamon then add it to a green smoothie for a delicious chai-inspired blend, and look for recipes that use chia as a binder in gluten free baking (like this chia seed strawberry jam).

#7 Beets

Beets are a wonderful source of important minerals, vitamins and nutrients. They contain iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium – all essential for elimination and detox. They also contain vitamins B3, B6, C, and beta carotene, and help thin and stimulate the flow of bile to improve fat metabolism and detoxification.
  • Raw, shaved beets with ginger, lemon and fresh basil is a delicious detox salad. Also enjoy roasted beets by wrapping cleaned beets in foil and roasting at 375 for 40-45 minutes. Beet juice (with a little fresh lemon) and pumpkin or hemp seeds makes an excellent pre-workout blend.

#8 Turmeric

Turmeric contains curcumin, used in Ayurvedic medicine to help decongest the liver, stimulates the gallbladder, and increases bile flow. Bile helps to emulsify fat soluble toxins and is the intestine’s first immune responder against infection. It also helps cleanse the villi of the intestines, allowing them to better absorb nutrients.
  • Turmeric can be combined with onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and used as a seasoning for lentil and rice dishes. It’s an essential component of curry.

#9 Lemon

Lemon helps stimulate the production of calcium carbonate, an enzyme that neutralizes toxins in the body – including uric acid crystals. Lemon stimulates the production of bile, essential for fat emulsification, and the elimination of fat-soluble toxins. Lemons also have antibacterial and antiviral properties, as the low pH in citric acid breaks down the cell membrane of many harmful bacterial strains.
  • Lemon is wonderful squeezed fresh on greens and fruit, can bring out the fresh flavor in a green smoothie or juice, and adds flavor and bonus benefits to a plain glass of water. Have a cup of hot water infused with lemon, fresh mint and ginger to bolster your immune system.

#10 Garlic

Garlic’s naturally sulphuric elements make it a powerful detoxifier. Additionally, it contains a compound called allicin, which gives it potent antiviral, antibacterial and anti-cancer benefits. Eliminating harmful bacteria can help prevent your body from forming toxins. Plus, it’s just delicious.
  • Enjoy garlic in pestos, sautéed with greens, roasted/baked, and as an addition to sauces, stir-fries, dressings and sauces.
Many thanks to the following for their wonderful health resources:
John Douillard at LifeSpa.com
Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions
Raw Foods Witch: How to Eat Seaweed
Dr. John Dempster: Top 10 Detoxifying Foods
David L. Hoffman, MNIMH Herbal Actions: Demulcent
A native of upstate New York, Bree developed a love of plants and a passion for baking at a young age.
Her parents are avid gardeners who instilled the value of living in harmony with the planet and its creatures, and she worked in her father’s vineyard on the hillside of beautiful Seneca Lake as a teenager.
She pursued her undergrad at Tufts University with a major in Anthropology, and has gone on to pursue a career in structural alignment and holistic health.
She currently teaches cooking classes at Whole Foods in Denver, has created a natural fat loss program called the Body Fuel System (its vegetarian-friendly), and regularly publishes recipes and articles on her popular blog TheBettyRocker.com.

Pros and Cons of Natural Sweeteners

Contributing writers:

Cherie Soria, www.rawfoodchef.com

Meredith McCarty, www.healingcuisine.com

Ritamarie Loscalzo, DC, www.drritamarie.com

Here's an excerpt from Lesson 34 of the Vegan / Vegetarian Mastery Program. It provides the lowdown on 15 different sweeteners. Next to almost every one, you’ll see its glycemic index rating.

As we explain in Lesson 33 of the Mastery Program, the glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed into your blood. All carbohydrates are given a score relative to pure glucose, which has a score of 100. Low GI foods are those with scores of 55 or lower, and high-GI foods have a score of 70 or above.

For comparison sake, table sugar has a GI of 84.

Blended fruits

  1. GI: 40 to 62[1]

    Unlike refined sweeteners, blended fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Ritamarie’s favorites are blended bananas, peaches, mangos, pears, and apples. Obviously, fruits have distinctive flavors. So use them in recipes where their flavors would be a welcome addition.

    See the lesson on “Vegan Baking” for more on using bananas in baked goods. If you’re not raw, you can use apple sauce too. But as we explained in the “Raw vs. Cooked” lesson, fruits contain heat-sensitive vitamins and phytochemicals. So apple sauce is less nutritious than blended raw apples.

Barley malt syrup

  1. GI: 54[1]

    Made from boiled down barley, it has a stronger flavor than brown rice syrup, but a milder flavor than molasses. It’s closer to a whole food than most sweeteners, second only to fruit and dried fruit. Less expensive versions contain a hybrid of barley and corn. Meredith recommends Eden Organic brand barley malt, which has 100% organic sprouting barley.

    Whereas simple sugars (fructose, glucose, and sucrose) can cause blood sugar spikes, the complex carbs in barley malt syrup break down slowly. They metabolize slowly and evenly in your body, providing an ongoing source of energy.

    Ritamarie points out that it may contain traces of gluten, which could be a problem for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. So avoid this if you have an autoimmune or neurologic disease, as gluten intolerance can be a contributing factor.

Brown rice syrup or brown rice malt syrup

  1. GI: 25[2]

    Made from fermented rice, brown rice syrup contains trace amounts of B vitamins, potassium, protein, and calcium. For desserts that are supposed to rise or thicken, Meredith recommends brown rice malt syrup over the regular kind.

    Both are closer to whole foods than most sweeteners, second only to fruit and dried fruit. Their complex carbs break down slowly. They metabolize slowly and evenly in your body, providing an ongoing source of energy.

Coconut palm sugar

  1. GI: 35[2]

    This sugar is reported to be the dehydrated sweet juices of tropical coconut palm sugar blossoms. It’s produced by climbing high into the canopy of swaying coconuts and harvesting the sweet nectar by gently slicing the flower. It’s organic, unprocessed, unfiltered, and unbleached. Once collected, the nectars are kettle-boiled into a thick caramel and ground to a fine crystal high. Ritamarie explains that it’s high in potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and even contains several B vitamins.

Dates

  1. GI: 36 to 62[1]

    Dates are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Cherie finds that their mild flavor is easily camouflaged by other ingredients. She uses soaked, blended dates to thicken raw puddings, pie fillings, and sauces. When she needs a binding agent for raw pie crusts, cakes, or cookies, she blends unsoaked dates with nuts and/or dried coconut — using a food processor.

Dried fruits

  1. GI: 30 to 64[1]

    Dried fruits have a stronger, more distinct flavor than their fresh counterparts. So pick a fruit that complements your recipe. Cherie uses dried fruits to thicken and bind desserts. For example:

    She uses dried mission figs to complement chocolate. She uses raisins to give depth to raw graham cracker crusts. And she blends soaked dried fruit with its fresh counterpart to create a thick mousse. (She finds that mangoes and pineapples are delicious prepared this way.)

    To make syrup-like sweeteners, Ritamarie rehydrates dried figs, raisins, apricots, and goji berries (by soaking them in water). Then she blends them with water.

    Like fresh fruit, dried fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, they’re higher in fructose, and higher on the GI. Cherie points out that non-organic dried fruit may be coated with sulfur dioxide. So organic is recommended.

Evaporated cane juice

  1. GI: 55[2]

    This dried or crystallized, unrefined juice comes from sugar cane. Cane sugars are about 96% sucrose and 4% minerals. Ritamarie explains that this 4% difference slows down blood sugar changes at a statistically significant level.

    Cherie describes its color and flavor as “similar to brown sugar, but deeper, with more molasses”. She uses it to replace white or brown sugar in desserts, especially in raw graham cracker crusts and fruit crisp toppings… or anytime she wants a brown sugar flavor. She recommends the Rapadura brand.

Honey

  1. GI: 44 to 58[1]

    We recommend raw honey because it contains pollen, enzymes, and trace amounts of nutrients. However, even when it’s raw, Ritamarie explains that honey is rapidly absorbed. Cherie concurs, explaining that it increases blood sugar more quickly than white sugar, so it’s not recommended for infants or small children. Even adults should use it sparingly.

Maca powder

Cherie uses maca powder to thicken smoothies and shakes… and to replace flour in raw cakes and cookies. She describes it as having a “slightly sweet, malt-like taste”.

Maca powder comes from a root-like vegetable shaped like a radish, which grows high in the Andes mountains in South America. It’s rich in calcium and potassium. It’s also reported to be a natural hormone balancer that increases energy, libido, and stamina.

    Maple syrup

    1. GI: 54[1]

      Maple syrup is made from the boiled sap of the maple tree. It has fewer calories than honey, but a few more minerals. It’s 65% sucrose and 35% water.

      Cherie implores students to use only organic pure maple syrup, because anything less could be genetically modified corn syrup, with as little as 3% maple syrup! She also explains that maple butter and maple sugar are more highly concentrated than the syrup.

    Mesquite powder

    1. GI: 25

      Cherie uses it mesquite powder to thicken shakes and smoothies… and even replace flour in cakes, cookies, and pie crusts. She describes its flavor as “mildly sweet and caramel-like”. It helps regulate other carbohydrates and helps curb your appetite.

    Molasses and muscovado sugar

    1. GI: 54[1]

      This is a slightly sweet, intensely flavored syrup (or sugar) that’s left over after the processing of cane and/or beet sugar. Because of it’s deep flavor, Cherie loves using it in cookies, especially ginger and spice cookies.

      She explains that first-press molasses is light in color and flavor. Repeated boiling results in dark blackstrap molasses Blackstrap molasses and muscovado sugar are 65% sucrose. Both contain measurable amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, making it more nutritious than most sweeteners.

    Stevia

    1. GI: 0[2]

      Derived from the leaf of the stevia plant, this herb has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. Cherie and Ritamarie explain that it has no calories, no effect on your body’s production of insulin, and does not elevate blood-sugar levels.

      It’s 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, so only tiny amounts are needed for sweetening. It comes in both powder and liquid form.

      The downside of Stevia is its strong aftertaste, which Cherie describes as “licorice-like”. Ritamarie neutralizes the aftertaste by combining 1 part Stevia with 12 parts xylitol. She also points out that whole, fresh green leaf Stevia has less of an aftertaste than the white powder.

    Xylitol

    1. GI: 7[1]

      Ritamarie explains that xylitol is found in fibrous vegetables and fruit, like plums, raspberries and cauliflower as well as in corn cobs and birch tree bark. Your body produces up to 15 grams of it daily during normal metabolism.

      Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar, which means that it is anti-microbial, whereas all other forms of sugar are six-carbon sugars, which cause bacteria and fungi overgrowth. It inhibits yeast, plaque and dental cavities, retards demineralization, and promotes re-mineralization of tooth enamel.

    Yacon Syrup

    1. GI: 0[2]

      This syrup is made from the root of the yacon plant, a Peruvian, sweet potato like tuber. Ritamarie explains that it has a high concentration of inulin and fructo oligo saccarides, which provide fuel for your intestinal microorganisms and very few calories.

      It’s been used in South America to lower blood sugar in those with diabetes and to improve digestion. Some sources say it’s heated to 120-140 degrees, other sources claim their process leaves it raw.

      Cherie describes its flavor as “mild and sweet, with a moist, crunchy texture slightly reminiscent of fresh-picked apple, pineapple, and watermelon.”

    What about agave nectar, aspartame, splenda, saccharin, and sunette? We cover these in Lesson 34 of the Vegan/Vegetarian Mastery Program. There's also a lengthy article on the unique benefits of xylitol.

    Would you like to learn more simple strategies to achieving vibrant energy, a strong lean body and an extraordinary life? Go to www.GreenFoodMagic.com and pick up your free e-book containing simple strategies and recipes for increasing energy, decreasing weight and feeling great. For more great articles, visit www.DrRitamarie.com

    Internationally recognized speaker, author and mentor, Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo is the “Woman’s Fatigue Expert and Vibrant Health Mentor.”


    References:

    [1] The University of Sydney / Glycemic Index Foundation http://www.glycemicindex.com

    [2] The Bitter Truth About Sweeteners, Feb 23, 2010 www.drritamarie.com

    Chia For Weight Loss & Chia Nutrition

    How Chia Seeds Can Help You Manage Your Weight

    Written by Lily Daniels
    Don't be fooled by the apparent obscurity of chia seeds – this tiny ‘super-seed’ can hold answers for you if you want to lose weight, repress hunger and maintain a healthy, nutritious lifestyle.

    What are chia seeds?

    Chia seeds are black and white edible seeds that come from a desert plant from the mint family – Salvia Hispanica. They are generally regarded as a whole grain and have even been described as the healthiest whole food in the world. They are thought to date back to Ancient Mayan times with the word ‘chia’ translating literally to ‘strength’.

    What makes chia so healthy?

    Chia seeds are made up of four main components – fiber, protein, omega-3 essential fatty acids and various antioxidants. Each of these hold key nutritional, health benefits for your body. Antioxidants can boost immunity. Protein helps to rebuild cells and keep energy levels high. Omega-3 and fiber have both been proven to help reduce heart disease.
    Chia seeds contain balanced proportions of all essential amino acids needed to support your body. Balanced amino acids – protein – provide you with a steady, healthy flow of energy rather than the sort of false highs that caffeine and sugar induce.
    Fiber can help slow down your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates into blood sugar. This also provides your body with gradual releases of energy which can leave you feeling energized and thus more likely to want to exercise. Fiber also acts as roughage, promoting healthy digestion leaving your body clean and toxin free.
    The beauty of these super-seeds is the sheer amount of goodness that can be crammed into such a tiny seed. It is thought that a handful of chia seeds contain more antioxidants than blueberries, more fiber than flax seeds and more omega-3 than salmon. (However, the Omega-3s in chia seeds are ALA, whereas salmon contains EPA and DHA.)
    One of the antioxidants in chia seeds is chlorogenic acid. This antioxidant has been found by a 2006 study to possess anti-cancer properties and could be used to prevent growth of certain brain tumors.[1]

    How can chia help you lose weight?

    The most unique property about the chia seed is its ability to absorb liquid. It can absorb up to ten times its own weight in water. The fibers on the outside of the seed absorb the moisture and form a filling, calorie-free gel around it. When you eat chia-seed-gel your stomach is fooled into thinking it has eaten more than it has.
    In addition to feeling fuller at the time of eating chia seeds, you also feel fuller longer. Repressed hunger and regular energy are key components in weight loss.
    It is thought that if you are deficient in certain vitamins or minerals then your body begins to crave them. If you aren’t eating healthily or getting all of the essential nutrients that you need, then your body will begin craving more of the food that is making you unhealthy. This is a vicious, dietary cycle.
    Because chia is packed full of nutrients that can balance and maintain your essential vitamins and minerals, you will find yourself less likely to crave fatty, sugary or starchy foods. This will also aid you in weight loss.

    What does it taste like?

    Some say that chia has a slight nutty flavor. It is a fairly bland tasting food. The absorbent nature of the seed means that it can take on the flavor of whatever you choose to mix it with, meaning that it can be added to most meals.

    How do you incorporate chia into your diet?

    With great ease!
    Add one to two tablespoons to a smoothie, juice, dough, cereal, jam, sauce, salad dressing – you name it. You can find some recipe ideas here.

    Do chia seeds really work?

    There is no doubt that chia seeds are full of nutrition, but their ability to act as a major aid in weight loss has been disputed by some studies.
    While some experts class chia as the ultimate super food (with one Wayne Coates even suggesting that you could ‘literally live on [chia] because it’s everything you need’) others warn against overusing even natural ‘super foods,’ remedies and treatments. As ever, the key is for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle including a balanced diet, adequate water and frequent exercise.

    How much chia should I consume daily to get results?

    Two tablespoons (130 calories) of chia seeds provides 4.8 grams of Omega-3 and 1.6 grams of Omega 6. That is more than enough Omega-3 for your entire body in an entire day.
    Two tablespoons of chia seeds also contains 9.2 grams of fiber, 4.4 grams of protein, and a significant array of minerals including 14% RDA of calcium (169mg).
    Two tablespoons is manageable and highly beneficial. Add one tablespoon to a morning cereal or smoothie and one tablespoon to a dinner salad dressing.
    —Lily Daniels
    Source
    [1] The chemo-preventive properties of chlorogenic acid reveal a potential new role for the microsomal glucose-6-phosphate translocase in brain tumor progression, 2006 Study

    Does fat make you fat? The truth about eating fat.

    By Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN
    Professor, Super Nutrition Academy
    Does eating healthy fat make you fat, even if you're a vegan or vegetarian?
    This is one of the most pervasive nutrition myths of our time.
    Since the 1980s, when the whole “low-fat” and “diet” craze began, we’ve seen our population get fatter and sicker. What gives?
    If eating healthy fat is supposed to make us fat, then eating less of it should be a good thing – at least for our waistlines – right?
    Sounds okay in theory but the problem is that this entire “low-fat” movement hit the ground running based on one suspicious study back in the 1970s.
    The truth of the matter is that eating healthy fats isn’t the problem, as is shown by the following graph…
    The real reason our waistlines have continued expanding is the alarming increase in consumption of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates over the last fifty years.
    The following graph shows this quite clearly.
    But why are sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and refined carbs making us fatter than dietary fat itself?
    There are a few reasons, but the one I’ll discuss right now is the fact that fat does not stimulate the release of insulin.
    In fact, a rise in blood sugar (from sugar and carbohydrates ingestion) is what causes insulin to be released.
    Your pancreas produces and secretes the hormone insulin. The role of insulin is to “escort” excess sugar (glucose) out of the blood and into your muscle, liver, and fat cells for storage. This happens when the level of sugar in your blood rises.
    Otherwise, too much sugar in the blood would cause severe damage to your arteries and capillaries, leading to conditions like retinopathy, neuropathy, and heightened free radical damage.
    As blood sugar rises, so do your insulin levels. Over time, your body’s cells can become desensitized to too much insulin, leading to a condition you may have heard of called Type 2 Diabetes (insulin resistance). As a result, they have dangerously elevated levels of blood sugar.
    But before that dreaded day, something more immediate happens that absolutely shatters your energy levels.
    Since insulin removes excess sugar from your blood, high blood sugar levels lead to high levels of removal (via insulin), leading to low blood sugar (or hypoglycemia).
    When your blood sugar crashes, all “normal” decision-making is thrown out the window; All you can think about is “I need sugar. I need sugar.” This is when you start feeling jittery, anxious, and desperate for a quick sugar or caffeine fix.
    Whether you want high energy levels or are seeking a healthy slim body, chronically elevated levels of insulin will get in your way.
    Look at it like this…
    The only way insulin levels rise is when there is an increase in sugar/carbohydrate intake. Too much sugar intake leads to hypoglycemia and insulin resistance. This means that you'll start experiencing strong cravings for more and more sugar, perpetuating the cause of the problem.
    Once you cross the boundary into eating too much sugar the vicious cycle begins. From there, the more sugar you eat, the more fat your body will end up storing.
    How much sugar is too much?
    It depends somewhat on your activity level.
    First, sugar is used as glucose for energy. The amount of glucose your body requires is proportional to how active you are.
    Next, glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles of the body. It doesn't take much sugar to meet our full need for glucose and glycogen, unless you're into marathon running.
    The rest is broken down and reconstructed as fatty acids. The fatty acids form a larger molecule called triglycerides, and these are stored as fat.
    Obviously, there are better carbohydrates just as there are healthier fats. The key is to understand which carbohydrates are good for you, while minimizing (or entirely avoiding) the rest.
    To help you out, here’s a brief list of carbohydrates you definitely want to avoid:
    • Baked goods/pastries/candy
    • White bread
    • Bagels
    • Soda pop
    • Table sugar
    But let’s not forget that “good” carbohydrates are essential for life-long health. It has actually been shown that the countries that consume the most healthy carbohydrates (up to 80% of their diet) such as Japan, have the longest life span with the least disease.
    So what are these “good, healthy” carbohydrates?
    Well, it’s not rocket science. Here’s a brief list:
    • Root vegetables (ie. Sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, etc…)
    • All other vegetables
    • Fruit
    • Legumes
    • Non-glutenous grains (ie. Quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat)
    If you'd like to learn more nutrition truths and develop a solid understanding of how food and your body interact to create great health and prevent disease, then…
    – Yuri Elkaim
     
    Learn more about fat:

    Vegan Easter Recipes & Passover Recipes including “Deviled Eggs” and Matzo Ball Soup

    Would you like to enjoy Easter and/or Passover with vegan versions of traditional holiday favorites?
    If so, these resources and recipes will be a blessing for you.

    Vegan Holiday Recipe Resources

    • Whole Foods is a great resource. Their website has an array of recipe sections including dairy-free recipes for holiday faves. Click the link and then select "advanced search" to the right of the orange search button. You can select options such as "gluten free" and vegan and vegetarian as well as many other special options such as "Easter" "Passover" and "Spring".
    • Vegkitchen Seder & Passover Menus includes over fifteen recipes as well as additional information about how to make your meals have a traditional look and flavor of Passover.
    • ChoosingVeg has hundreds of vegan recipes to choose from.
    • Chef Chloe's Recipe Collection includes many festive vegan dishes, including Chocolate Pumpkin Bread Pudding, Thin Mints and Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcakes.
    • TreeHugger has a diverse collection of easy vegetarian recipes.
    • The Kind Life, Alica Silverstone's blog, contains a large selection of vegan recipes, each one letting you know the cooking time and preparation time in the recipe listing so you can choose to make what you have time to prepare.

    Classic Vegan Potato Gratin

    This recipe comes from the Gluten-Free Vegan Girl. Her “Vegan White “Cheese” Sauce” calls for three tablespoons cornstarch. I recommend using three tablespoons arrowroot powder or four and a half teaspoons agar agar.
    Vegan Gratin

    Roasted Asparagus with Sliced Almonds

    Roasted Asparagus
    This easy recipe is great for spring holidays. To prevent bringing the oil over its smoke-point temperature, I recommend using coconut oil instead of olive oil. You may also opt to steam the asparagus and only add the olive oil after it is cooked, but that option will not have that delicious roasted flavor.

    Vegan Matzo Ball Soup With Spring Vegetables

    This Matzo Ball Soup recipe uses quinoa as the Matzo-ball base. It’s soy-free, gluten-free and a surprisingly simple recipe to make.
    Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

    Vegan Deviled “Eggs”

    Vegan Deviled Eggs
    This astonishing recipe truly makes vegan deviled “eggs” possible! Using squash to substitute the egg-white and a clever combination of nuts and spices to get the filling, this recipe is sure to delight and surprise any gathering.

    Apple & Date Haroset

    This simple recipe calls for wine. If you don’t drink, you can use grapefruit juice, pineapple juice or grape juice instead.
    Apple Haroset
    Share these recipes with family and friends. There is no reason they won't like them just because they're lacking in meat and diary. If anyone gets testy about your food choices, just smile and tell them you enjoy eating the way you do because it makes you feel good. It's hard to argue with a smiling face and delicious food.
    Looking for raw vegan Easter recipes? Click here for our raw Easter blog.
    Do you have vegan recipes or links to vegan recipes that would be great for this upcoming holiday? If so, comment below.

    Healthy Kid Meals with Kid Friendly Recipes – Easy Meals For The Whole Family

    How to get your children to enjoy fruits and vegetables

    by Gaby Fischer
    Is meal-time a frustrating battle with your children? It used to be that way for me too. When getting my son to eat fruits and vegetables became a challenge, I had to get creative.
    First, I made a treasure map with different fruits and vegetables and I took him to the supermarket so he could “hunt” for the treasures (fruits and veggies). When we got home, I told him that we were going to play a game called “Describe the Taste” and he was anxious to learn more about it.
    To play the game, he had to taste as many fruits and vegetables as possible and give me a description of what he liked or disliked about each one. He seemed reluctant at first, so I started tasting some of the foods while giving him a description of their taste. That grabbed his attention. He started tasting each one and he truly enjoyed discovering new flavors. I gave him a small prize (piñata fillers) for each description and he told me he was looking forward to playing the game again.
    Once we found the fruits and vegetables he liked best, I started to decorate his plates to make them look fun. That is how Fun Meals 4 Kids got started. Fun Meals are attractive and grab the attention of your little ones. The appealing designs and colors encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables.
    I try to keep my dishes simple so they are fast and easy to recreate. You don't need to be an artist. In the photos you'll find on Fun Meals 4 Kids you'll see my son's favorites fruits and vegetables, but don't feel limited to the foods I'm using. The possibilities are endless and the rewards, priceless!
    Now, don’t expect that they’ll eat everything you serve them just because it looks fun. You’ll need to be patient because it may take a few attempts to find their favorite foods, but your efforts will payoff. The secret is to keep trying until you find the fruits and vegetables your kids like the most.
    It is important to get them involved, developing their interest. This will help you integrate a healthy diet into their daily routine.
    I hope you use some of my ideas. It's not expensive or time consuming. The only special ingredient you need to add to Fun Meals is your love.
    Wish you and your family health and happiness,
    Gaby Fischer
    Gabriela Fischer
    Founder of Fun Meals 4 Kids
    Gabriela’s struggle with obesity introduced her to the world of nutrition and encouraged her to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness so she could help others live healthier and happier lives.
    Today, she is pursuing her passion by devoting her free time to causes that promote nutrition education and healthy lifestyles. Gabriela is currently serving as a volunteer for Dr. Fuhrman’s nonprofit organization, the Nutritional Research Foundation. Their mission is to conduct clinical research to study diet styles designed for their disease-preventing and disease-reversing properties.

    Raw Vegan Carrot Cake & More Raw Vegan Desserts For Easter & Passover

    Would you like to enjoy Easter and/or Passover with raw vegan versions of traditional holiday favorites?
    If so, these resources and recipes will be a blessing for you.

    Raw Vegan Recipe Resources

    • Raw Guru's Recipe Collection has over 200 entree recipes and nearly 200 dessert recipes. Everything from smoothies to fermented dishes, Raw Guru has you covered.
    • The Rawtarian's Recipe Collection is loaded with incredibly yummy desserts, sure to impress. These gourmet recipes have clear directions and mouth-watering photographs.

    Fig Carrot Cake Muffins with Maca Frosting

    This raw vegan recipe takes a whole new spin on carrot cake. If you don't have access to maca powder or don't like maca, then using cacao powder, vanilla powder, cinnamon powder, or carob powder in your frosting instead.
    Vegan Carrot Cake

    Raw Strawberry Shortcake

    Vegan Strawberry Shortcake
    This decadent recipe will go over well with any crowd, regardless of dietary preference. If you're not cool with using coconut nectar as your sweetener, you can soak dates or dried mulberries in a little drinking water and then blend the water and dried fruit together to get a thick syrup which can be used as your sweetener. For a dry sweetener, you can try pure pomegranate powder, but watch out, pomegranate powder will make your dish deliciously tart!

    Raw Sweet Potato Soup

    This raw soup recipe is ideally made with a powerful Vitamix. If you don't have a Vitamix, you can either blender the sweet potatoes for a long time by themselves with water in an ordinary blender, or you can try your food processor or you can cook the sweet potatoes first. The other option, of course, is to have a somewhat crunchy soup.
    Sweet Potato Soup

    Raw Banana Bread

    Vegan Banana Bread
    This banana bread recipe requires a dehydrator, but don't despair – you can make this without dehydrating. Just substitute out the roughly chopped carrots for three cups of carrot pulp (the leftovers from making carrot juice) instead. If you don't have a juicer to make carrot juice, grate the carrots and then squeeze them in a nutmilk-bag to extract as much moisture as possible.
    Make this recipe in your food processor instead of your blender. Do not add any water. After blending, and pulsing in the raisins, walnuts and sesame seeds: Press into a ceramic dish and put in your fridge to firm up for a few hours. Slice and serve.

    Raw Vegan Deviled "Eggs"

    This fun and surprising recipe utilizes squash as an egg-white-replacement. This is a great and healthy recipe just as it is, but there is definite wiggle room for getting creative. For added color, try mincing red, orange and green bell peppers and sprinkling them on top.
    Raw Vegan Deviled Eggs

    Chocolate Fudge Brownies

    Raw Vegan Brownies
    This easy brownie recipe can be made in just five minutes. There is a bit of a typo in the recipe where it says "cocoa powder" which isn't raw. Make sure you get raw cacao powder which has a less bitter flavor and more nutrition. Also, when seeking vanilla, try purchasing raw vanilla powder which is just pure powdered vanilla bean with no added sweeteners, alcohol, glycerin or other unwanted additives.

    Apple & Date Haroset

    This traditional recipe contains wine. If you're not a drinker you can make some fresh squeezed juice at home as a substitute. Grapefruit juice, pineapple juice and grape juice will all work.
    Vegan Apple Haroset

    Raw Vegan Asian Red Pepper & Asparagus Spring Pasta

    Raw Vegan Pasta
    This Asian-tasting recipe is great for holiday dinners, ethnic-themed potlucks and Easter celebrations. If you don't have access to kelp noodles or prefer zucchini noodles, then you can user your spiralizer to make zucchini noodles instead. If you don't have a spirilizer, you can finely cut zucchini with a basic knife or mandolin.

    Strawberry Romanoff

    Adapted from Juliano in RAW: The Uncook Book
    • ¼ cup mulberries soaked in ¼ cup filtered water
    • 2 teaspoons cacao powder or carob powder
    • 3 cups "Whipped Cream" (see recipe below)
    • 2 cups sliced strawberries
    • 1 cup other berries (optional)
    • 2 tablespoon minced fresh mint
    1. Blend mulberries, the water they soaked in and cacao powder together to make a mulberry-cacao syrup. Set aside.
    2. Prepared Whipped Cream (recipe below). Set aside.
    3. Slice berries.
    4. Select glass dishes or wine glasses to serve with. Layer berries, whipped cream and mulberry-cacao syrup. Garnish with minced mint leaves.
    5. Serve.
    Raw Vegan Strawberry Romanoff

    Raw Vegan Whipped Cream

    • 3 cups cashews
    • Filtered water for soaking cashews
    • 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
    • ¼ cup dried mulberries, soaked in ¼ cup water
    • 1 pinch vanilla powder (optional)
    1. Put cashews in a glass or ceramic container filled with enough water to cover; let soak for at least 2 hours. Drain and rinse.
    2. Place cashews in a Vitamix; add orange juice, mulberries and their soak water and, if you wish, a pinch of vanilla powder.
    3. Blend, scraping down sides of blender jar with a rubber scraper to help cream turn over.
    4. Stop and check for sweetness and consistency; add more water if cream is still too stiff. Continue blending until fluffy and smooth.
    5. Use immediately. Yields about 3 cups.
    Interested in more vegan recipes for Easter and/or Passover? Click here for our blog with cooked vegan Easter and Passover recipes.
    Do you have raw vegan recipes or links to raw vegan recipes that would be great for this upcoming holiday? If so, comment below.



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