Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm in Love With VT!

Have you ever visited a city or a state that made you feel warm and comfy?  I am in love with God,  my family...AND VERMONT!!!!!

I've never been to a state that fits my personality so much!  I feel like I'm in the center of the organic local food hub.  In the Burlington area you get hippie, academic, crunchy and a little bit of country.  There are fields of green things, tons of antique shops and enough syrup and cheese to put you in a coma.  Talk about supporting local communities, and local industries!

Supporting the local community....

Most of the food I've eaten has been from local farms and the variety of combinations and ingredients are vast and unique. 
Sword fish on a bed of carrots, sweet potato mash, topped with mango salsa, guacamole, and grapefruit
For some reason I feel REALLY comfortable in Vermont.  Every shop, restaurant, side walk and 100 year old building draws me in.  It's nice to see so much support for the local food community. I guess I like Vermont so much because I'm a closet hippie that loves uniquely weird and different food, clothes, ideas and environments.  While visiting  my new favorite state, a wall hanging caught my eye called "The Five Faces of Food".  Hunger. Flavor. Nourish. Nurture. Heal. My favorite "food face" was Heal.  You can read it favorite part of the commentary is this: "Just as illness and injury take many forms, there are many ways to heal.  Food can heal".  I believe this statement and know that we can heal our bodies by eating THE RIGHT FOOD.  Today a testimony of healing by eliminating a certain food was shared with me.  This person had the best health in 3 years according to his doctor.......just from changing his diet! Amazing! Food. Can. Heal.

I will try to make Vermont an annual summer or fall destination.  I have more to explore!!

Is there a new place you've been to that makes you feel warm and comfy?

Peace and blessings!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Hair Journey: Tress Update #6

Happy Summer! 

I am LOVING my hair journey!  I have enough variety in my back pocket to keep my small fro busy! I've been able to keep my fungus friends at bay and love my growing Flo fro!  It's actually much longer than pictured but  I'm giving you the refined patted down version tonight.... :)

The extended Flo Fro.....the patted down version

Two - stranded twists (1/2 released...the twists are growing!)

How are you coping with your growing hair?   Any stories to share?  I want to hear back from you!! :)

Peace and blessings!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Food Journey: Really Raw Nachos!

I finally had my first raw food restaurant experience (Raw Sausage?).  I was pumped up! Everything on the menu made my mouth water but I didn't choose the pulled burdock burrito or any of the action packed salads -  I chose something basic that I could compare to my favorite cooked appetizer: NACHOS!  Gooey, cheesy, peppery NACHOS!

The Food:
This restaurant had both cooked and raw foods - all fresh and organic.  The nachos were made of sunflower seed refried beans, cashew sour cream, cashew nacho cheese, guacamole, corn salsa and jalapeno peppers on corn and flaxseed chips.  Here's what the nachos looked like:


Was it Tasty?
Although the presentation was amazing...I was not as impressed by the taste.  It was not bad (as you can see I cleaned my plate), but there were some key flavors missing that made it just an okay meal. I felt deflated....especially since we've made tastier raw dishes at home.  With all the time and fresh ingredients it takes to make raw meals, these were the most expensive nachos I've ever had - yet another reason to clean my plate...can't afford to waste money!

Which version of nachos tasted better (cooked or raw)? Cooked! But I know the raw version provided A LOT more just needed a flavor boost.

I'm still glad I chose the restaurant, and I may give it another go but I WILL NOT be ordering the nachos!!

I'll be making my own RAW nachos at home....:)

Peace and blessings!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Food Journey: Dirty and Clean for 2013

Hi Folks -

It's summer time and fresh produce is probably on the top of your shopping lists.  I want to share some information that has been widely publicized on the most dirty and clean fresh fruits and veggies for 2013 as a reference as you are preparing juices, salads, smoothies and other dishes packed with these wonderful treats.  The terms "dirty and clean" refer to the level of pesticides used in growing these fruits and veggies.  If at all possible please buy the organic version of the Dirty Dozen.  Note most of the Clean Fifteen items naturally have protectant skins.

The Dirty Dozen for 2013:
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Grapes
  6. Hot peppers
  7. Nectarines (imported) 
  8. Peaches
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet bell peppers

The Clean Fifteen for 2013
  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Sweet corn
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mangoes
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions
  12. Papayas
  13. Pineapples
  14. Sweet peas (frozen) 
  15. Sweet potatoes 

Happy fresh produce buying!!! Hope this list helps!!! :)

Peace and blessings!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Detoxification: 3 Ways to Cleanse your MIND!

Hi Folks -

This summer I've been experiencing physical detoxification.  I first started out by  dry brushing my skin and that led to the 30 day raw food challenge.  Both forms of detoxification pulled toxins out of my body, gave me more energy, provided a break for my digestive system and changed my overall appearance (my skin cleared up, I lost some jiggle and water weight and toned up my muscles).

Both challenges increased my will power and resolve to "close the deal" no matter how tough it got (Raw Food Land....not a Happy Place to be) , gave me confidence, and a sense of achievement. Our bodies are not the only part of us that need cleansing.  Our minds are a powerful part of our beings.  We need it to make decisions and function properly.  But just like our bodies, when our minds are clogged with junk we cannot think straight, perform mental tasks optimally, and achieve inner peace.

Some people struggle with stress, depression, anxiety, negative thoughts, and paranoia.  All are forms of mental toxicity.  In order to be WHOLE and FREE we must detoxify our MINDS.  Here are 3 ways to do it:

1. Be POSITIVE.  Instead of always noticing the negative things first, re-wire your brain  to think of the positive.   Instead of saying: "I'm tired of my's too much work for not enough money".....remember: many people do not have jobs.  Be THANKFUL that you have a job, and find ways to make the day better.  NEGATIVE words and thoughts are TOXIC!

2. Stay away from things that IMPLANT negative vibes into your mind.  This includes movies, music, t.v. programs and people.  I am a Christian and filling my mind with lessons from the Bible has helped me ENORMOUSLY over the years - especially most recently.  Fill your mind with GOOD things, then the toxins won't have anywhere to go but out.

3. RELEASE the past.  The past is the past....You cannot re-wind the clock and change anything.  Stop dwelling on former mistakes, issues, bad situations or hurt feelings.  Release all of it, and resolve to have a better present and future.

I'm still in the process of detoxifying my mind.  I mainly struggle with choosing positivity first and releasing the past.  I will overcome both with God's grace!

Can you think of other ways to detoxify your MIND?  Please share!

Peace and blessings!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Hair Journey: The Summer "go to" Style

Hi Folks!

Summer time is officially here! The heat, humidity, that wonderful energy from the bright sun rays shining on my skin! I LOVE IT!

Summer is my favorite season and  I've landed on a hair style that allows me to have a bit of variety and facilitates easy moisturizing and cleaning.  It's the side swoop faux-hawk....I posted on the braided mo-hawk and  the side flat twisted faux-hawk but this variation is more eye-catching and gives me the variety that I need. I'm still playing around with different twisting patterns, but I'm loving the do. I twist the sides then pick and pat the flo fro that's left out.  The right side is twisted vertically up to the sky and the left side is twisted horizontally - parallel to my ears.  It takes 5 - 8 minutes!

Vertical (sky) twists

Front view

Horizontal (ear) twists

Is there a summer "go to" style that you love??

Peace and blessings!

Happy Summer!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Health Journey: Becoming your body's BFF....

Hi Folks....

I took a break from writing over the last week because I have been EXTREMELY EXHAUSTED.  I have been totally void of all that good raw energy I became acquainted with over the last few weeks during the 30 Day Raw Food Challenge .  So tired in fact that I started having flash backs of my first trimester while pregnant with Caleb.  I went for walks outside to clear my head and I could have fallen asleep while walking.....I was done....finished.....way-layed.....

Confession time:  I fell asleep at my desk.........AND I WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF A TASK.......that is some serious fatigue.....

Granted I was working with 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night but I was also incorporating cooked foods back into my diet.  I've gone off of 4 to 6 hours a sleep per night before and have NEVER felt this crazy! So I can only deduce that it was the food! It had to be the food! And no..I was not chowing down on oxtails and mac and cheese!

I was talking to my girlfriend who did a three day juice fast a few weeks ago and as she began to incorporate food back into her diet a similar thing happened.  She was bloated...and sick....and EXHAUSTED! She recognized that certain foods were NOT jiving with her system (namely bread and some grains)....and has vowed to STAY AWAY from them.  I'm using all these capital letters to EMPHASIZE the point I'm about to make. 

Here it is: Once you clean your system up and begin to reintroduce food (especially the food that you should not have in the first place) your body will REBEL.  It will talk to you.  It will let you know what it can and cannot handle.  Brain fog or the "itis" is NOT cute and it signals that you ate the wrong thing.  In order to truly be healthy you have to be your body's BFF (Best Friend Forever).  Pay close attention to the headaches, joint pain, bloating, constipation, acne and all other ill effects that may come from eating and drinking things your body does not need.  Keep a food journal to track reactions.  PAY ATTENTION! Sometimes we suffer with headaches and other ailments and have just accepted them like that's how our bodies are supposed to feel. We do not have to suffer as much as we do.   I ignored chronic leg pain for years and just suffered through it.  

After a cleanse your body is more sensitive and fresh.  It will tell you immediately if you've consumed something you should not have.  LISTEN.  If you do not listen it's like committing  suicide.  Everyday   people  are   killing themselves slowly with what they put in their mouths. Because dairy products make me feel sick...I have to completely eliminate dairy from my diet.  If I don't then I'm causing unnecessary injury to my body.  I'm making my body confront known offenders...ON PURPOSE...and to me that's lunacy. To cope with the lost of ice cream I'll be buying an ice cream maker in the next few weeks so I can get my cream on this summer with elements that will NOT make me sick.  Enough is enough. 

So I had to go back to eating MOSTLY ALL raw foods (80 - 90%) to give my body a break and a chance to bounce back!  I'm not mad....I'm actually happy about it.  I like feeling light on my feet, alert after eating and full of energy.

I have a new BFF and she is pretty cool!

Are you friends with your system???

Peace and blessings!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Health Journey: The Raw Detox Aftermath.......

Hi folks....

It's been a week post the raw 30 day challenge.  You are probably wondering what I've been doing, what I've been eating....and how I feel. I provided the 13 main lessons learned from the challenge last week and I'm still absorbing the learnings and converting to a new lifestyle.  So far so good!

What I've been doing:
I'm still training for my Duathalon (biking, running, lifting weights).  I've also been using my self control and perseverance muscles to help me through some personal struggles.  I keep thinking about the resolve I had to last 30 FULL DAYS! That blessing is keeping me focused!

What I've been eating:
I've been eating both cooked and raw foods.  I would say most days I've been 75% raw.  They say it takes 21 days to form a habit....I went hard (minus the rebellion) for 30 straight days.  I have definitely formed a habit! A good one at that! Some examples of my meals include:
  • chia porridge with hemp milk, seeds and nuts
  • more bruchetta (this time on veggie pasta)
  • salads (with added rice on occasion)
  • more smoothies and juices
  • mashed potatoes
  • vegetable Pad Thai
  • CHIPS!!! But just enough to wet my appetite.
  • lots of fruit!
  • lots of nuts!
  • chocolate cake (C'mon! It was Independence Day! And it was GOOD! - Big up Xan!)
I have not had: ice cream, SNICKERS!, tons of bread, and a lot of other processed foods.  My taste buds have been slightly reformed.

How I'm feeling:
I noticed a strange thing the other day: I now have a bionic nose and tongue.  My sense of smell and taste are heightened.  For example: I ate slices of conventional and organic apples at the same time and I COULD taste the soap/pesticides on the conventional apple! I have NEVER been able to tell the difference before.  Just call me Super Zahra!

The other thing is that I am way more aware of my body.  The slightest tinge of pain does not go unnoticed.  My libido has also increased! Okay...TMI (too much information)...but you know what? It's true and a great benefit from CLEANING out my system!

So folks - I'm pressing on the upward heights I'm gaining everyday!  Yesterday I overate....and I COULD FEEL IT.  All I ate for the remainder of the day was good ole watermelon (More Watermelon Please!)

Thinking about detoxing?  What program are you going to try??

Peace and blessings!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Hair Journey: Finally! Dry Scalp and Fungus Free!!

Hi Folks -

I've never been worried about hair's always grown quite well...but what has worried/concerned  me is the dry scalp/fungal issues I've been experiencing for YEARS!

I am happy to report that since I've been on the Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)/aloe vera gel regimen I have been free of the fungus!!

I am in a really down mood this evening...have you ever had a headache that just WILL NOT quit? Well that's me tonight. I'm in pain...but I have to share this  success story about my hair!

The process:
1. I sprayed ACV (diluted with water) on my hair for 1 week.  Kept it in overnight covered with a shower cap. 

2. Most of the time I DID NOT rinse my hair in the morning.  I just sprayed the aloe vera mixture on my hair, applied tea tree oil (diluted with jojoba oil) on my scalp and locked in the moisture with plain shea butter.


Shea butter
Aloe vera gel

The result:
1.  As I stated in the beginning of this post, I am fungus free (based on what I can see with my naked eye meaning no visible scaling).  

2.  I have not had any extreme itchy episodes (including when I was rocking the Mohawk). No major flakes falling and no burning. Plus the white spots that were starting to form on my forehead are gone!

3.  My hair felt nice and moist until about noon...then it felt dry.  But when I ran my fingers through it, it wasn't as dry as I thought.  So some moisture was being retained.

4.  I am a happy camper! Loving the fungus free experience! And loving the fact that I'm finding a good process to keep my hair clean and moisturized.

I will continue to use this process for my hair.  And I LOVE the fact that I did not have to spend a heap of money on products!

What natural elements are you putting in your hair?

Peace and blessings!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The RAW FOOD Challenge is OVER: 13 Lessons for Journey

Hi Folks -  The 30 Day Raw Food Challenge is Over!

Picture me doing the happy dance (what ever happy dance you do....that's what I'm!)

How do I feel?
I feel great.  I was relieved when the last day ended.  I feel from the bondage of Raw Food Land. But you know, 30 days is a long time, and I have formed some eating habits that will ensure a healthier food experience for me as this Journey progresses.  Physically: I feel stronger, I'm leaner (I lost about 5 to 6 pounds), and my skin has cleared up.  Emotionally: I have a better resolve to keep my reactions in tact when the going gets rough.  Mentally: I feel the same, but I know I have more self control.  All the expectations I had at the beginning were met 100% (30 Day Challenge Part 1). I have more energy, lost some jiggle, and cleaned up my system.

Lessons learned:
1. I CAN control my cravings.  I can exhibit self control and abstain from eating junk food when necessary - which should be ALWAYS (The Food Journey: Cravings!).

2. I have expanded my culinary repertoire. There are many items that I would not have combined in the past that I combined during this challenge.  Now I feel more empowered in the kitchen to NOT have to turn on the stove to have a great meal.

3. I maintained my duathalon training over the 30 days.  I supplemented with more protein and calories where necessary to keep me going.  The myth that you NEED meat or animal protein to get stronger and have a good exercise life is not true (for me).  Did you know Serena Williams (the tennis star)  is a VEGAN?

4. I can control my emotions. 

5. I didn't have very good eating habits at night or when stress hits.  I am a true blue snacker.  I love to munch.  During this challenge I munched on food that was GOOD for me...and I was satisfied. 

6. I CAN make better food choices (especially when it comes to snacking).

7. I CAN withstand peer-pressure.  When faced with French fries, Jamaican food or nay sayers I stayed on the raw food path.

8.  I CAN STAY COMMITTED to anything I decide to commit to.  This lesson, is going to be applied to ALL areas of my life. I could have given up...even when I broke rank and ate those potato chips and veggie burgers (Rebellion in Raw Food Land), I got back on the wagon and finished strong.

9.  Everyone reacts to detoxification differently.  There were 19 people doing the challenge.  All had a different experience. I'm now more aware of my body...and the changes it goes through.  We have a better "connection" now.

10. Detoxification is not just physical.  It's mental, emotional and spiritual and something that everyone should do at least one time.

11. Alternatives to the Standard American Diet (SAD) exist but you MUST think outside the box to find things that taste REALLY good!

12.  I can make it through tough challenges! I am WOMAN hear me ROAR!

13.  Everything in life is a choice. Getting married...staying married.  Eating the right food...or eating junk.  Making exercise a routine... or living a sedentary lifestyle.  Losing control and letting anger reign....or staying calm and being mature (no matter what the situation).  Being patient with a toddler....or feeling overwhelmed.  We have the ability to make the right choices concerning our health.  Your health is your command!

In summary:
The bottom line is that: I have to take control and RESPONSIBILITY for the choices I make on this Journey.  I feel good.  I feel accomplished.  I feel proud.  I'm thankful.  I feel empowered. I am awesome for making it though!

I recommend that you find a way to clean up your system.  Challenge yourself to grow, learn, and expand.  You will not regret it in spite of the hard times that will arise.  Push through until you reach the finish line. 

Since I started the 30 day challenge, my mom did 7 days of raw food and a close friend did 3 days of juicing (Detox by Juicing). Now I have two more friends that want to do the 30 day raw food challenge.

YOU CAN DO IT TOO! Start with a week, or 3 days.  See how you feel! Go for it!

Contact me if I can be of help! I would love to share more about what I've been though these last 30 days.  I also have a ton of raw food recipes to share!

Yaaay!!!! MOMMY DID IT!!! :)

One more thing: I want to give a BIG THANK YOU to Herbal Bush House for running this program and providing a wonderful meal plan for the entire 30 days!

Peace and blessings!