March 10, 2013

Dog Wearing Cone Gets Scratched with Foot

Our dog has allergies. Every spring time, he gets really itchy. He will literally lick and scratch himself until he has rashes hence the BIG, BRIGHT, and UGLY CONE! He hates the cone but LOVES getting scratched. Every time I start scratching him in a place he can't really reach while wearing the cone, he will follow my foot. It's one of the funniest things! I hope you enjoy this video as much as I do!

January 08, 2013

Q & A: Being Vegan

I (Michael speaking) have been getting requests from multiple people asking me why I chose to stop eating animal products and have converted my eating lifestyle into that of Vegan.  Here it goes...

About 2 years ago (March 2010), my wife and I were introduced to The China Study, a book that explains why eating 20% animal products will increase the risk of getting cancer.

After reading the book, we decided that we didn't want to increase the risk of dying young so we completely changed the way we thought about food and what we consumed on a daily basis. Without the decision and support of my wife, it would be extremely difficult to live this amazing lifestyle. I am SO glad we've changed our eating habits and can say that we haven't been sick for the last 2 years and feel better than ever!
So Are You Allowed to Eat...?
We are allowed to eat whatever we want. We are choosing to eat the way that we do. There are no limitations and we feel confident and happy with all of our choices. We do not feel deprived. We do not have cravings for things we "can't" have because we can have whatever we want.
At the time of reading The China Study, we had a Vitamix but really never used it. We didn't know how to use it. So in effort to learn as much about the benefits of eating more raw, organic fruits and vegetables, we came across many videos, books, and pamphlets on why eating this way was better.

We found a video called Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead which is a fantastic documentary on the benefits of juicing raw fruits and vegetables. I recommend you ALL watch this video at least once. It is very inspiring. There is another link to watch this video at the end of this post.

We also watched videos on YouTube from Jay Kordich, Dan MacDonald (Life Regenerator), and many more just to get an idea as to why people ate this way.

After hearing and seeing the physical benefits (inside and out) we got extremely motivated and started using our Vitamix at least once a day. We were making healthy and delicious smoothies. Our favorite green smoothie (and still to this day) is Shrek Juice. (I know the name is "juice" but it's actually a smoothie)

Shrek Juice
1 Cup Green Grapes
1/2 Fuji Apple (keep the peel and the seeds)
1 Handful Fresh Spinach (or more if desired)
1 Frozen Banana
1 Cup of Frozen Pineapple
Directions: Blend everything on high speed for 2 minutes, making sure the smoothie stays cold. If it starts getting warmer, the smoothie is done. Enjoy.

The best thing about the Shrek Juice is that you can hide spinach in it and you can't even taste it! We have made this recipe for many different people and they have all enjoyed it.

Click here for a list of juice recipes that have been tried and tested over the past 2 years.

What is the Difference Between Smoothies and Juices?
So...the above recipe is for a smoothie. All of the ingredients are blended together (with the fiber intact) to make one cold and deliciously-thick smoothie. Juicing, on the other hand, extracts the fiber from the fruits and vegetables, leaving you with a smooth and easily digestible liquid.

Why I Prefer Juicing Fruits and Vegetables
Have you ever tried eating 10 lbs of raw fruits and vegetables in 1 day? If you have, then you'll know how difficult it is! This is where juicing comes to play. Extracting all of the fiber from fruits and vegetables allows you tap into 95% of the food value: the juice. Yes, fiber is very important when it comes to digestion but do you really think that you need ALL the fiber that comes from 10 lbs of fruits and vegetables? You don't. A typical eating lifestyle should consist of about 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.

Where Do I Get My Fiber?
So what I do is I juice raw, living foods and then consume a small supplement of psyllium husk powder or chia seeds daily that gives me the fiber I need. It's working out very well for me and I know it will work well for you.

Won't Juicing Raise My Blood Sugar?
Any time you eat or drink food...your blood sugar levels raise and lower. This is how the body uses food as energy. Juicing raw fruits will raise your blood sugar but you won't experience the nasty "shaking" or feel the need to drink another juice to calm yourself, like you would after an hour or so of drinking coffee and soda. This is because the sugars found in raw, fresh fruit juices haven't been stripped of all their nutrients. If you're interested in juicing raw fruits and vegetables, start by making a juice with more fruits than vegetables. This will help curve your tastebuds into enjoying these juices. Then, after a week or so, try adding spinach to your juice. Add a small amount here and there to slowly get used to the flavor.

I can't tell you how many videos I've watched where they tell you that when you start off juicing for the first time, that you should juice only vegetables. This will help your blood sugar to not rise so high (since many vegetables are very low in calories).  But to me, doing this will only tell your tastebuds that juicing isn't fun and that the juices don't taste good. Adding more fruits than vegetables will help you get into the habit of juicing while keeping you interested.

When I first read The China Study, I searched on YouTube for some smoothie recipes. I  watched a "Life Regenerator" video where Dan MacDonald blended in his Vitamix: water, kale, banana, and Lamb's Quarters. You would think that adding bananas would make something taste great, right? was the grossest drink I've ever had! I'm now to the point where I can mix: spinach, kale, parsley, broccoli, ginger, apple and I think it's the best juice ever :) So stick with it. It gets better

Diet vs Eating Lifestyle
If you're read to this far, you may have noticed that I haven't used the word "diet." In my opinion, all diets end.  Many people who start a diet eventually go back to their old eating habits and gain 5 to 10 lbs more fat than when they started.  I prefer the term eating lifestyle because it involves a way of decision making and lifestyle choices. But I will let you decide what you choose to call your way of eating:

Eating LIFEstyle

Do I Drink Naked Juices or Pre-packaged Smoothies?
In short, no. The reason? I prefer drinking juices and smoothies that are fresh. Did you know that the term pasteurized means that the product has been cooked to keep it from going bad? Did you know that cooking foods kills many of the living nutrients and vitamins? With the popular Naked juices, I was always wondering why they lasted for up to 3 months on the shelf. I had to look hard at the label to find the "gently pasteurized" line of text.  I choose to juice my own fruits and vegetables that I know are still living, rather than drinking juices that have been cooked and have been sitting on a shelf for 1 month or more.

Where Do I Get My Vitamin B12?
Since there aren't any plants that naturally come with vitamin B12, I drink my occasional Costco Organic Vanilla Soymilk since they include Vitamin B12 in that soymilk. Vitamin B12 is important but unfortunately you won't see any deficiencies for up to a year! If you're concerned about making sure you're getting all of your daily vitamins, be sure to buy a multi vitamin and take it daily.

Here is a list of the nutrients and vitamins found in fruits and vegetables.

Calorie vs Calorie, spinach has more protein than beef.  I get my protein from:

1) Green Leafy Vegetables (spinach, kale, parsley, etc)
2) Whole Wheat Bread
3) Soybeans (organic vanilla soymilk), tofu
4) Nuts and seeds (peanuts, almonds) - Main source of fat (protein is an added benefit)
5) Fruits

It is a common misconception that when you're trying to lose weight or gain muscle that you need 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. I have read from many difference sources that you need between 50 to 80 grams of protein per day. I have nothing against doctors and I'm not a doctor myself but how many doctors can you list that know much about nutrition itself? Most of them know a lot of about how to fix symptoms with some sort of man-made drug, but how many of them can actually cure a disease with the use of fruits and vegetables?

Good, healthy fats are vital in a healthy eating lifestyle.  From

"Fat is an essential nutrient required for many bodily functions. The brain is 60 percent fat, and fats are needed for memory, learning, mood and fetal brain development during pregnancy. Fats protect and insulate nerves, help keep the heart beating in a normal rhythm, keep the lungs from collapsing and cushion your internal organs. Fats slow digestion, provide a source of energy and satisfy the appetite for longer periods. Fats also make possible the absorption of vitamins A,D, E and K."

What Do You Eat?
Here is a list of what I eat/blend/juice in any particular day (I don't eat all these foods every day):

1 lb spinach
4 kale leaves
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
8 fuji apples
2 Beets
10+ Carrots
2 Slices of Whole Wheat/whole grain bread
3 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
1 Cup Brown rice
1 Tomato
4 Leaves of Lettuce
1/2 Can of Black beans
1/2 Can of Kidney beans
8 Ounces of Organic Vanilla Soymilk
Rice protein powder, Clif builder's bar - chocolate mint
72+ ounces of water

My calorie intake is about 3,000 with around 550 calories burned from exercise resulting in approximately 2,500 daily.

Other items I eat occasionally are:
3/4 Cup Oats (uncooked)
3/4 Cup to 2 Cups of Whole Grain Cereals
1 Cup Salsa (rarely)
Original and Guacamole Hummus from Trader Joes
Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip aka "Vegan Ice Cream" from Trader Joes
(Awesome) Vegan Cookies - Here's the cookie recipe

With the cookies recipe above, I found out that you can use the base of the recipe (everything but the chocolate chips) as both an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe AND what I call the BEST snicker doodle cookies recipe ever!

For the oatmeal raisin, simply put about 1/2 to 1 Cup of oats in the mix along with 1 Cup Raisins and a dash of both nutmeg and cinnamon.

For the snicker doodles, just roll the dough in cinnamon and sugar (I don't have the exact amount) and bake. You can even sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on top before baking too.

I have found that these cookies don't flatter out like regular cookies so before baking, simply press them down with a spatula. Cooking time will depend on your altitude. Here in L.A., for a 1 inch ball, they take about 15 minutes.

Organic vs Non Organic

We choose to buy organic whenever possible. Buying foods that haven't been genetically modified (GMO) means that you're buying and eating foods the way God intended.  Look for the USDA Organic seal on fruits and vegetables that you purchase. This will guarantee their lack of harmful chemicals and pesticides added by your "un-trustworthy" food companies.

Can You Ever Go Out to Eat?
Going out to eat can be very hard on an eating lifestyle especially when it comes to calorie intake, nutrients, vitamins, and more. My wife and I have found a few fantastic places that serve meals that actually taste good while not using any animal products. To name a few:

1) Chipotle (website)
2) The Veggie Grill (website)
3) Sun Cafe (in the Burbank, CA area)

1) If you're stopping by Chipotle, I recommend getting a burrito with Black beans, brown rice, fajitas, green sauce (medium heat), guacamole, lettuce. I get this 80% of the time and am not tired of it yet!

2) If you're stopping by The Veggie Grill, I recommend the Santa Fe Crispy Chickin' with a side of Sweetheart Fries, and for dessert their Chocolate Pudding Parfait with Walnuts. You can grab one of their amazing Chocolate Chip cookies too. They're delicious.

3) If you're in the Burbank area and want to stop by the Sun Cafe, I recommend getting the mexican pizza with the pita crust, with a side of hummus and pita chips. Sounds like a lot of pita but it all tastes SO good. To drink, I recommend the Shamrock shake (tastes similar to mint chocolate chip).

Should I Eat Fat-Free Foods to Lose Weight?
The problem I've found with fat-free foods is that in order to remove the fat, companies pack on extra sugar. If your body doesn't use that sugar (which it probably won't), it will store the remaining sugar as FAT. So if you're looking to lose weight, do not, I repeat, do not choose fat free foods. Instead, choose foods that have healthy fats such as nuts and avocados. The good kinds of fats actually help transport nutrients to your body and help you lose weight!

Do You Exercise?
I try to exercise 4 to 6 times a week. Some weeks I work out more than others and that's something that I'm really trying to get better at doing.

Here are the 4 things I've found that I need on a daily basis that help me feeling great:

1) Good night sleep
2) Proper amount of nutrition
3) Drinking enough water
4) Exercising

When I don't get a good night sleep, that throws my whole schedule off. I recommend getting at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night.

From everything I've read and studied, I know that my way of eating is what is making me feel great most of the time. I am not perfect and there have been times when I eat something that has a little butter or milk in it and those are the times where I get headaches.

The best piece of advice I can give someone would be to make the eating lifestyle change today. Don't wait until Monday to start. Start now. If you're really motivated to lose weight and to feel great, you will start working at it right now. Example: If you're drinking a soda, throw it away. Replace it with water.

You can do little things today that will make a big difference tomorrow.

If you're motivated to start making healthy smoothies and juices, here are a few links that will help you on your way! I hope you've found this article helpful and interesting and if you have any questions don't hesitate to leave a comment below.

1) Buy a Vitamix
2) Buy the Breville Juice Fountain Plus Juicer

3) Buy organic fruits and vegetables
4) Watch Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead - A documentary on the benefits of juicing raw fruits and vegetables