Monday, January 18, 2010

The Winner is...

Who won a free copy of Raw Food for Real People? The winner is.....


Thank you for the wonderful "keep it real" raw food advice. I may contact all you ladies who entered to put your comments in a future book. The advice was invaluable.


60 Days of Gym Classes

Day 4: The Expresso Experience Bike/Reclining Bike

I raced to the gym and got there about 8:45am. The Cycle class was already full. Kelly felt bad for me. She said, “I know about your sixty day goal. I am so sorry.” She asked me not to leave. And to make sure I worked out in the fitness room. I got on a reclining bicycle, and rode that for 2.11 miles. I didn’t break a sweat. The purpose of this challenge is to sweat everyday, so I chose another machine.

I got on the Expresso Experience Bike. Expresso is an interactive experience. The bike has a monitor attached to it. I can pick my “bike trails” in terms of distance and difficulty. Those trials simulate the real thing. And I get a selection of music too. By the time I heard J.Lo’s “Let’s Get Loud,” I was BUMPIN’! With decent, jammin’ music, I can ride longer. I need to get an IPod. I rode a total of 2 miles.

Day 5: Cardio Dance. Teacher: Kelly K. and Dawn.

Not a great experience. Cardio Dance is a heavily choreographed class. That was the first time Kelly and Dawn taught this routine, and they made a lot of mistakes. A half-hour into the routine, I felt nauseous. I left the class because I thought I would throw up on the floor. The nauseous feeling lasted for two hours. I have no idea what happened there.

I also had trouble keeping my eyes open all day. I was terribly exhausted. I went to bed at 7:30, even though I didn’t fall asleep until 9:30pm.

Day 6: Yoga. Teacher: Me.

The exhaustion continued into Thursday. I peeled myself out of bed after 8:00am. The fact that I was still tired, and yawning by 10:00am told me something was off with me. Was it the hard-driving exercise, or was my Candida acting up? Probably both.

I teach yoga every Thursday morning. All my regulars were in attendance, with a new student named Lil. I told them about my 60-day adventure and that I would do more of the yoga with them than I usually do. But I had a hard time teaching. My eyes were heavy and all I wanted to do was lay down, but I got through the class with relative ease.

There’s a Six Week Detox that I want to do. I’d written Tera and Dr. RitaMarie in December to see if I could do a work exchange, but I never heard back. I wrote them again yesterday and heard back this morning. Wish me luck.

Day 7: The Expresso Experience Bike

Jona wasn’t feeling well yesterday. He fell asleep around 10:00am and woke up at 1:30pm. There went my classes. (And Jona woke up in great spirits. He is feeling fine.) This is a no BS adventure, so I had to get to the gym somehow. I took my mother-in-law to the radiologist; went grocery shopping while was there; picked up food for her; then I went to the YMCA. I got on the Expresso Bike again. I rode 5.25 miles in thirty-two minutes. I was a huffin’ and a puffin’ by the end. Sweat poured down my forehead and back. I felt so good! I am determined to conquer that damn bike! The bike has been the revelation of the adventure, and never intended to ride it at all.

Day 8: The Expresso Experience Bike

I rode 6.5 miles! Thank you to Prince, the B52s, and Ricky Martin for your wonderful music that kept me pumping further than I thought I could go.

Day 9: Yoga
I was the teacher this time. Myself and Ayesha did an easy class together. I needed the stretching and relaxation.

Day 10: Cardio Kickboxing. Teacher: Val.

Val’s class was harder and more complicated this time. She added roundhouse kicks, elbow punches, push-ups, shuffles, and jump roping. I was hoping it would be easier this time. It was not. The class was brutal. It was a forty-five minute class, and I was looking at the clock by the 15-minute mark. But I got through it….just barely!


Monday, January 11, 2010

60 Days of Gym Classes

(long post!)

The lovely YMCA where I work. And it's my home for the next 57 days :-).

On Thursday, January 7, I was standing in line at Wal-Mart waiting in line holding a rug and a shower curtain. Only three lines were open, so I plenty of time to wait. I looked to my left and saw O Magazine. I love Oprah, but I don’t read O or any other magazine because they are too surface for me. But the cover of O caught my eye: “Can You Change Your Life in 60 Days?” “Something” propelled me to scan the article. The author had decided to take Bikram Yoga for 60 days straight.

I teach yoga. Not Bikram, but I know about it. In short, you do 26 poses in a row in a hotter than hot ass room. Every part of your body will scream and sweat. I’ve taken Ashtanga Yoga, which is similar and I about died. Reading the article, I could relate to the author’s story. She needed a drastic mental and spiritual change; something to transform her and push every internal button of denial.

The closest Bikram Yoga studio is 30 miles from my house. That was not feasible, nor realistic. So I thought, “I work at the YMCA. (I teach yoga there.) I live six miles from the place. I could take a gym class every day for sixty days. My kids love to go to childwatch there. I could do that.”

I chose to take classes, as opposed to working out on the machines, is that it’s easy to cheat. I can walk a mile without breaking a sweat. It’s easy to stroll on a treadmill. The elliptical and the bikes are the same. Fast or slow, it’s my choice. But a class…that’s different. The teacher is motivating. The other people in the class are all looking at each other. And worse, there’s a wall-length mirror in front of me to capture my every move. Mirrors don’t lie.

And why do 60 days of classes? I’ve taken care of other people for five years. I’ve had high and low moments in healing myself. I love and appreciate my raw vegan journey, my juicing, and my smoothies. The one thing always missing was exercise. Whenever I get low, my mom always asks me, “Are you exercising?” No, is my consistent answer. After I read that article, I thought, I can do this. I need to do something just for me.

And my 60-day venture has nothing to do with weight loss. I weigh a whopping seven pounds more than when I got married in 2001. Similar to my 14-day juice fast in 2008, I’m doing it for emotional reasons. It’s all about healing and release. No BS. No crap. No excuses.

And I’ve done three classes so far!

Day One: Step Class. Teacher: Kandee.
I spilled my water bottle right before class started. Another lady named Christine helped me clean up my mess. I took the spilled water as a blessing or baptism of my new venture. It’s all in how you look at it!

The two biggest surprises of the day were that I actually went out in the arctic cold, and dragged my happy sons along. Second, I was a mess with the Step class choreography. Step, touch, jump, turn, swing, doubles, singles, mambo…I was like, “What the hell? Am I still black? Do I have to give back my Black Card because I’ve lost my rhythm?” My loss of coordination tripped me out!

Day Two: Body Sculpt. Teacher: Patty.
That was not the class I wanted to take. Cardio Blast was at 10:00am and I just could not get my butt in gear. I’d had an “Exhale” (girlfriends getting together to eat and gab) at my house the night before. I was dragging. But I did make it to the only other class offered on a Sunday. We used the Step, a light weight (I used 3 lbs) and a heavy weight (I used 5 lbs). Did I hate every second of it? Yes.

But Patty is a great instructor. She cued well, yelling over the Beyonce and J.Lo club remix music without a microphone. The abdominal work killed me. After I had Jona five years ago, my midwife told me I had separated recti muscles. I think that’s code for flabby abs. I hate, hate, hate abdominal exercises. But I guess I’m taking the advice I give my yoga students: the pose you hate the most is the one you need to practice the most.

During the class, I kept hearing, “Everything is perfect as it is.” The cynical side of me was like, “You call this perfection?” The other side of me understood the message. The first decade of the 21st century was a difficult one for me. At times, I’d like a do-over of 2002 through 2009. But life is a Hero’s Journey. If you survive “the dark night(s) of the soul” you can be transformed if you use the darkness to find out who you really are. If, at the end of this 60-day “road of trials,” I come out better, then perfection is indeed in play.

The back of Val teaching Kickboxing.

Day Three: Cardio Kickboxing. Teacher: Val.
Rom’s work schedule is weird right now. He was home this morning, when usually he is at work by 6:00am. I was able to take the 8:15am Kickboxing class without dragging my sons along. Childwatch doesn’t open until 8:30am. Here’s how determined I was: At 7:24am, Rom asks, “Are you still going to Kickboxing?” I said, “No, I’ll go to the 9:00am Body Pump class.” I didn’t want to lift weights two days in a row, so believe it or not, because of that motivation, I was in my car by 7:47am.

Val’s class was militaristic. Lots of interval training. I don’t know how many times I wanted to tear out of there. All my muscles were hurting. We did two abdominal exercises I’ve never seen before. Lying on our backs, with our legs straight up in the air, she had us circle our legs around using our abs to keep us stable. With the second one, we had our knees bent and punched from side to side.

How do I feel right now? Sore.

I feel physically stronger already, but I am hurting, and I’m ready to go to bed (smile). Tomorrow morning is Cycle. I’ll be honest. The last time I did Cycle, I swore I’d never do it again. What I am seeing is that it’s easy to say I don’t have time for something. Apparently I do have time to work out for an hour a day. I just didn’t FEEL like working out for an hour a day. Now I see that I can.

Until next time,


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Light Eating for Survival Blog Project

"Light Eating for Survival" Blog Project a la the movie Julie & Julia.
1 Year. 481 Recipes. 1 ambitious mama.
Days 54-57
Orange and Apple Soup

Fruit soups were on tap for three days. If you are not feeling well, that's a sign that you need to drink more fluids. These fruit soups are much like smoothies, but meant to be slurped with a spoon, rather than drank out of a cup. They are lighter, and leave you feeling cleansed. I truly enjoyed making them all. I can't say I had a favorite, because they were all winners to me. If I want to make it again, then that's a winner!

Apple and Date Soup

I also made:

Banana and Orange Soup

Apricot and Banana Soup

Fruit Soup

Pineapple Avocado Soup

Orange Soup

Peach Soup

Banana Fruit Soup

Tropical Fruit Soup

Dried Fruit Soup

Dayas Ashram Fruit Soup




Saturday, January 9, 2010

Raw Food for Real People: Review + Giveaway!

I love a down-to-earth raw food book. Chef Rod Rotondi begins Raw Food for Real People keeping it really real for his readers. He starts with three confessions: 1) being a raw food chef is as simple as slicing an apple; 2) he has not healed himself of a life-threatening illness, and 3) in the fourteen years since he discovered raw food, he hasn’t been 100% raw. I appreciate the candor. It’s Rotondi’s openness, and profound love of food, that makes this book successful.

Before I get to the food, there is another book lurking inside of this cookbook. Rotondi has traveled all over the world. He’s lived in exotic places; held intriguing jobs, and tasted food from many regions. THAT’s the book I want to read. I kept saying to myself, “Where’s the rest of story? I want to know more about Jerusalem, Dahab, and Paris! Tell me more about your dad and your grandmother. Tell me more about your job with the United Nations!” So Rod, can you write that book next?

What shines through is that Rotondi (Italian for “the round ones”) was born to cook. His family had an appreciation and respect for food, the Earth, and simplicity. Passion shows up on every page. And I love how he de-mystifies raw food. It’s not as esoteric or weird as it may sound to a newbie. The book is written for the home cook. He offers tips on page 48 on how to be prepared. I wrote them down and put it on my fridge. He writes about the importance of good knives, explains how to sprout, and what to keep in your kitchen.

We also are blessed with an introduction by Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, which speaks to Rotondi’s chef skills and tasty food! And speaking of the food…I love what I have made. I don’t review a book without making some recipes first. If the food isn’t good, you won’t see the review.

I made the Strawberry Ice Kreme first. Me and the family jockeyed for it constantly. It was rich, creamy, and tasted better with each subsequent visit.

The Cole Slaw was a perfect accompaniment to another salad, and cashew “burger” wrap I’d made. It was light (no mayo substitutes used), crunchy, and awesome.

The Chocolate Milk was a revelation in flavor. I wrote “FANTASTIC!” next to it in the book. Flavored with dates, it wasn’t too sweet. Just right.

Raw Food for Real People is written by a chef for real people who are not chefs, but want to prepare food like one. I found it accessible for anyone regardless of where you are in your raw journey. The best word is PASSIONATE. Rotondi’s passion for good food, healing, and sincere love for his fellow man (I’m serious) is on every page. I love this book. I look forward to making everything in it!

10 out of 10 Mocha Angels
One lucky person wins a copy of Raw Food for Real People

-Leave a comment at the end of this post.
-Answer the question: “What is your best keeping it real advice for anyone on a raw food journey?”
-Leave a workable email address so I can contact you (important).
-Post your comment by Sunday, January 17th at 11:59pm EST.
-I will pick the winner at random.
-I will contact the winner on Monday, January 18th and post who won that morning. If I don’t hear back from the winner by Wednesday, January 20th at 11:59pm, I will pick another winner at random.
-Good luck to everyone!



Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Light Eating for Survival Blog Project

"Light Eating for Survival" Blog Project a la the movie Julie & Julia.
1 Year. 481 Recipes. 1 ambitious mama.
Days 38-53

Dulse and Tomato Soup
My focus was on the vegetable soups this time from pages 41 to 43. Soups are an under appreciated art form in cooked and raw food. They are so simple, that they are easily overlooked. All you need is a good knife and a blender.
The above photo is of Dulse and Tomato Soup.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup onion
3 tomatoes
3/4 cup dulse
1/4 cup chives
Blend everything except the chives (which I did by still tasted good :-)
Cream of Broccoli Soup
1 cup broccoli
1/2 avocado
1 clove garlic
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea kelp
1/2 to 1 cup water or rejuvelac (I used 1 cup of rejuvelac)
blend, add the avocado last.

Sweet Potato Soup

1 sweet potato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup carrot juice
pinch of nutmeg, kelp, cayenne
Put the sweet potato in a glass jar and place in hot water until it softens the starch into sugar. Cut, peel and blend with other ingredients.

Okay, I had no idea when the starch would soften into sugar. I kept my potato in hot water (replacing a few times a day) for 2 days. Then I made the soup. It is a light, and lively soup that digests easily.

I also made:
avocado chowder
corn chowder
sweet corn chowder
cream of soups
cream of artichokes
cream of spinach
pea soup
asparagus soup
cucumber soup
veggie soup
quick soup
sprouted bean soup
string bean soup
celery soup
oh my God soup
gazpacho orange
gazpacho rainbow
simple tomato
avocado soup
chlorophyll soup

I think I've lost 5 pounds just eating all this soup! Up next are the fruit soups and salads.



Happy 2010, Everyone! I hope you all were safe, warm, and festive on New Year's Eve. I start the new year blogging about breakfast.

I have two recipes I tried. I loved them both. The Coconut Breakfast Cakes are from page 78 of Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. They are inspired by pancakes. Consisting of flax meal, coconut oil, agave, sea salt, cinnamon, and water, they took all of five minutes to make. They tasted like gingersnap cookies, minus the crunch. Easy and delicious.

Maple Cinnamon Buckwheat Crispies is from Raw Food/Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis, page 272. I learned from the book that buckwheat is not a grain, but an edible fruit seed.

You soak the buckwheat for at least an hour. Mixed with maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, stevia, and sea salt in a food processor. Then the mixture is dehydrated for 8-12 hours, or more. I was looking for cereal, and I got it. I mixed mine with raisins, banana, and apple, topped with maple syrup and almond milk. (I'm eating it now). Sooooo good.

At some point, I plan to write an open letter to this former couple. I've read through Raw Food/Real World at least half a dozen times. It really is a work of genius. It's a cheffy/ restaurant book full of food made at Pure Food and Wine Restaurant. When I was a green newbie, I found it intimidating. No way could I tackle any of the recipes. But over the New Year's weekend, I made three simple smoothies from the book. They rocked. I have a new appreciation for this text. Call it a mini-review, but I give Raw Food/Real World 9 out of 10 Mocha Angels. Maybe I'll give it a longer review in the future.

Also, I got nominated for a Happy 101 Award by Bitt at
To accept my award, I must list 10 things that make me happy, and pass the nomination along to 10 bloggers who make me happy too. Look for that next week.



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