digestion

5 Things You’re Not Doing to Improve Digestion on a Vegan Diet

A whole-food plant based diet is one of the best ways to improve digestion due to its high fiber content. However, it does not always do the trick. If you’re suffering from bad digestion, constipation, bloating and the like, simply being vegan may not be enough. There are some specific tweaks that will really help you majorly improve your digestion, even if you’re already vegan. 

When I first went vegan, I was already dealing with some pretty severe digestive issues. I took every supplement under the sun to try to improve them. But nothing really worked.

I moved, I ate peppermint (+peppermint essential oil), I took natural laxatives, I fasted, I juiced – you name it, I did it.

In fact, my constipation only got worse. I often felt as if I was having a heart attack as a result of it!

It was extremely frustrating. When I was constipated, my self-worth often went down. My mood immediately plummeted significantly, and I just wanted to lay in bed and not function.

Are you familiar with those moments when you feel like there is a heavy block of stuff stuck inside you, and nothing can move it out except some crazy laxative pill?

I have gone through over 4 years of pain and discomfort to get to a point when finally, I was able to improve my digestion on a vegan diet! And I want to share my most important, scientifically-backed lessons from this experience.

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Watch the video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUrGTsjJFIk 

Improve your Digestion on a Vegan Diet While Eating Delicious Food

The tips I am about to share are part of The Effortlessly Flavorful Vegan Kitchen, my brand new online course that will help you improve your digestion through an insanely delicious, easy, and unprocessed plant-based vegan diet. The course will help you put these digestion-improving tips into practice, and will provide even more tested information on how to kick-start better digestion.

To learn some amazing strategies to make your own delicious vegan meals that benefit digestion, register for my FREE LIVE MASTERCLASS: 

Free Live Masterclass: How to Create Flavorful Vegan Meals Effortlessly

Learn to create easy, oil-free vegan meals in 15 minutes or less!

Sign up for the free Live Masterclass

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Enter your name and email to register for the free live training: How to Create Flavorful Vegan Meals Effortlessly: My Simple 7-Step Method that will Make you Confident in the Kitchen, Without Using Recipes

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5 Things You Can Start Doing Right Now to Improve Your Digestion

Let’s dive into the 5 things you may not be doing to improve your digestion – and you can start doing these right now! Just keep in mind that these are all food related items. In my course, I will be teaching you all of the strategies I have used to improve my own digestion, including aspects that go way beyond food. 

And another important thing to keep in mind: don’t look for specific supplements to save you or heal you immediately. Healing your digestion TAKES TIME and there is no magic pill! It’s a process that will happen by eating more and more plant foods, and watching your general dietary patterns rather than focusing on specific foods to eat and not eat. 

There is no single magic pill. It’s about the combined impact of your daily choices – this is how you will improve your digestion! 

  1. Improve Digestion: Eat More Greens

Dark leafy greens are incredible for digestion because they lower inflammation. They provide fiber, amazing nutrients, and are super easy to digest. Even if you are eating a heavy meal, make sure to always include greens on the side.

In addition, greens and other fibrous fruits and vegetables are pre-biotics for the good gut bacteria in your gut. It is what feeds the good bacteria, and the good bacteria determines our digestion. So definitely eat your greens, and get enough fiber through plant foods to keep that healthy bacteria working. 

The easiest way to incorporate more greens into your diet is to start your day with a green smoothie. Incorporate greens into any of these heavenly smoothies. My favorites are lettuce, spinach, kale, mixed baby greens, and cilantro. 2 handfuls per smoothie is a great amount.

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  1. Improve Digestion: Eat Unprocessed Plant Foods Most of the Time

Imagine yourself in a beautiful garden, half dressed (you are currently a prehistoric woman), picking delicious fruit off the tree or bush. This is what we did for thousands of years. And this is what we digest best today as well. 

In order to have regular bowel movements and to improve your digestion, you gotta eat like our ancestors did. Our gut is used to eating simple, unprocessed plant foods. Try to eat as close as you can to the original: fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and small amounts of nuts, seeds, avocadoes, coconuts and olives in their whole form.

Stay as far as you can from packaged foods, and if you do buy a package, make sure all of the ingredients on there make sense to you – no funky stuff with weird names!

And if your digestion is in extremely bad shape, make sure to start eating very simple foods. For example, make sure that there are no more than 5 ingredients in every meal you eat, and eat a high-fruit diet – which is easy to digest for most people. 

  1. Improve Digestion: Avoid Oils

Speaking of processed foods – oils are in this category. The ABSOLUTE KEY to how I healed my digestive issues was to stop consuming oils!

Because oils go through a process to be made from nut/seed/fruit into pure fat, not only do they lose a ton of nutrients on the way, but they can also easily be oxidized.

Omega 6’s are plentiful in plant oils like olive, coconut, canola, sesame, and many more. Consuming mostly omega 6’s, as opposed to omega 3’s, leads to inflammation. And inflammation is a major cause of digestive issues and other serious diseases. 

When you stop eating oil, your digestion can improve, that terrible heavy feeling after meals can drift away, and you can even lose weight. 

I know it can be intimidating to remove oil from your diet, especially if you’re used to cooking with it and adding it to salads. I know because it took me forever to do it myself, in a way that I actually enjoyed! 

This whole struggle is exactly why I created my brand new course. Un this course, I make this move easy, fun, fast, and most importantly – PACKED WITH FLAVOR. 

The #1 way to give up oil is to learn to blend up flavorful sauces, dips, and dressings without using oils. Having these on hand will make any main vegetable meal sing. The unique aspect of my brand new online course is that you will not only get 50+ sauce, dips, and dressing recipes. You will also get 3 weeks of main meals using those recipes. AND I will teach you an easy step-by-step method for creating your own sauce, dressings, and dips without having to constantly learn more new recipes! 

Exciting, isn’t it? I cannot wait to share this all with you this March 2017. 

Free Live Masterclass: How to Create Flavorful Vegan Meals Effortlessly

Learn to create easy, oil-free vegan meals in 15 minutes or less!

Sign up for the free Live Masterclass

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Enter your name and email to register for the free live training: How to Create Flavorful Vegan Meals Effortlessly: My Simple 7-Step Method that will Make you Confident in the Kitchen, Without Using Recipes

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Ok, now let’s get back to learning out digestion-improving strategies.  

  1. Improve Digestion: Consume Raw, Rather Than Roasted Nuts and Seeds

Oils and fats are two different things. Oils are 100% fat, while fats like avocado, coconut, olives, nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients, as well as carbohydrates, proteins, and of course fats, in varying amounts. As such, oil is a processed food. It is an extraction of a perfect package, as it is found in nature. 

I highly recommend including modest amounts of healthy plant-based fats in your diet. Unroasted fats are best for optimal digestion. 

Roasting nuts can damage their fats and make them more prone to oxidation. Oxidized nuts can be rancid, and taste strange. And rancid nuts are inflammatory and even carcinogenic. And as already mentioned, inflammation often leads to weight gain and digestive issues. 

Raw and unroasted nuts and seeds from a trusted source are best for digestion. One great way to make sure they are fresh is to get them from a local farmer, in their shell. Alternatively, buy organic, packaged nuts. Nuts that are in the bulk bins at your local health food store tend to go rancid quickly due to their exposure to air. Chopped or ground nuts and seeds also go rancid quickly, so make sure to chop them only when you are about to use them, and store them in the fridge or freezer.

  1. Improve Digestion: Soak + Sprout

The last way to improve digestion on a plant-based diet is by soaking and sprouting. 

In my course, I will teach you exactly how to soak and sprout nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. I will also provide a printable chart with soaking and sprouting times and instructions.

I have already written about the benefits of soaking and sprouting to increase nutrient absorption of protein. Soaking and sprouting are also extremely beneficial for better digestion. Soaking and sprouting release phytic acid, which can be hard to digest. It decreases cooking time and digestion time for some harder to digest foods, like nuts, seeds, and beans. These are foods that are hard to digest for many people. But nonetheless, you should still include them in your diet due to their incredible health benefits.  


Those are all of the food-related tips I have for you. Just remember, improving digestion is a process that happens over time. It is not magic. It takes a bit of work, but it is so worth it! The results are ever-lasting if you just continue to establish a healthy pattern as I have described.

Here’s to healing all of our digestions! 

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Most Popular Posts of 2016

Thank you so much for spending 2016 with me.

Soul in the Raw was launched this year as a full-time venture, passionate pursuit of my heart, and a place to bring connection to all: connection to our body, to the planet, to the animals, and to each other.

top-posts-of-2016-2

 

 

I am so proud of Soul in the Raw, and I am beyond thankful and slightly teary-eyed thinking of how much love and support is flowing from your heart to mine. So many of you have been loyal readers, and so many have experienced healing, on so many levels, from reading Soul in the Raw, and being part of Raw Souls on Facebook.

I have also experienced massive healing and gratitude through the process of blogging on Soul in the Raw. It has changed my life. It has challenged every ounce of patience, motivation, self-love, and self-worthiness that was ever in me. It has taught me to overcome my craziest fears, and my biggest catastrophic scenarios. And I am so very grateful, excited, and overjoyed that I get to be delivering my true passion into our beautiful world for another year, and another…

And it’s all thanks to you, my lovely, amazing readers.

I love you!

And I present to you, the most popular articles of 2016. It makes me ecstatic to see these – as they reflect the core values, and most important nutritional points that I addressed this year. And if you haven’t read them, dive in, because they are packed with incredible nutritional information and recipes that will change your life. I mean it. 

Enjoy them, and I cannot wait to see you back in 2017 with even more transformational content.

Love,

Marina 


Raw Vegan Challenge: 10-Day Learn Raw Vegan Refresh

How to Make Flavorful Oil Free Salad Dressings, Dips, and Sauces Easily

How to Get Protein on a Vegan Diet, and Absorb it too!

Part 2: How to Get Enough Raw Vegan Protein, and Absorb it too

Maca Root for Hormonal Imbalances and 2 Easy Maca Recipes

Raw Vegan Ice Cream Recipe Ebook: 26 Banana Ice Creams

 

 

Raw Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe

Raw Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe

Salad dressings are always necessary in my world. And in yours too. As a reflection of their necessaity, this raw vegan Caesar salad recipe was requested in my Raw Souls Facebook group. Shoutout to my beautiful Raw Souls! (Join now, it’s free).

Firstly, this raw vegan Caesar salad recipe contains one of my favorite raw vegan salad dressings because it is so creamy, salty, and makes any romaine lettuce taste delicious. Secondly, it’s extremely quick to make because I am using pine nuts, and they do not need to be soaked. Just throw everything into the blender, and you’re good to go.

Thirdly, my other favorite part of this? I used nori sheets as “croutons”. Ok, they are not crunchy like croutons. But they provide an amazing seaweed flavor that replaces anchovies perfectly. 

Raw Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe

Lastly, I absolurely adore the presence of capers in the raw vegan Caesar salad recipe. Capers have such a unique flavor. Attention: if you are a caper hater, that’s fine. Just leave this blog now. Just kidding! Instead, you can simply use sea salt. But try the recipe as is – you might love it in combination.

Oil-Free Salad Dressings, Dips, and Sauces

And before we get to the recipe, I want to remind you to download my amazing free guide. How to make your very own recipes for oil-free salad dressings, dips, and sauces. That’s right, you won’t need me anymore very soon, because you will be able to do this all on your own. Yet ideas and inspiration are always necessary, aren’t they? I am feeling cheeky today. 

Click here to get the free guide: how to make flavorful salad dressings, sauces, and dips

 

And now, for the amazing recipe. A raw vegan Caesar salad recipe that will make you love dairy-free, oil-free salads. I am also using chia seeds to thicken this one (which I suggest in the Guide as one of the optional thickeners for any salad dressing recipe; there are other options too, check it out). Because chia swells up when it is surrounded by water. It is such an easy, omega-3 rich way to make your salad dressing stick to your salad greens. Which is always a good thing. Here we go.

Raw Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe

Raw Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe
Serves 2
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
For the salad
  1. 1 head romaine lettuce
  2. 1 nori sheet
  3. Black pepper, to taste
For the dressing
  1. 1/2 cup pine nuts
  2. 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  3. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  4. 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  5. 1 garlic clove (optional - I did not use it, but you can if you want it to be more authentic)
  6. 2 tablespoons soaked capers
  7. 1 medium zucchini
For the dressing
  1. Blend all ingredients until completely smooth.
  2. If you would like the dressing to turn out white, peel the zucchini and save the peels for a juice or put them in any other sauce, dressing, or dip.
To assemble
  1. Chop the romaine thinly.
  2. Tear a nori sheet by hand and sprinkle into the romaine.
  3. Mix with the dressing, and sprinkle with black pepper.
Notes
  1. The dressing makes enough for 2 salads (2 heads of romaine), or for 1 salad if you really love plenty of dressing!
http://soulintheraw.com/
Raw Vegan Caesar Salad

pexels-photo

My thoughts on the Paleo Diet

I am often asked about my thoughts on the Paleo Diet. Is it healthy? In this blog, I share all about what Paleo is, if it actually resembles what our ancestors ate, research about it, and finally, if I think it is healthy or not. I have also included a FREE grocery list with all of the must-have times for good health.

Table of Contents

  1. What is the Paleolithic Diet?
  2. Did Our Ancestors Eat Like Modern Paleo People?
  3. Does the Paleo Diet Provide Enough Nutrients?
  4. Vegan Diets Compared to Paleo Diets
  5. Do Carbs Trigger Insulin Spikes?
  6. The Final Verdict
  7. How to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Without Spending a Ton of Money 
  8. Main Takeaways 

1. What is the Paleolithic Diet?

According to Loren Cordain, an advocate of the Paleolithic diet and a researcher, the following foods can be eaten on a Paleo diet: grass-fed meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nus and seeds, and oils like olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, and coconut. What the Paleo diet forbids are cereal grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugars, potatoes, processed foods, salt, and vegetable oils.

The idea behind Paleo is a return to our past, consuming foods like our ancestors to eliminate modern day diseases like heart disease, acne, autoimmune diseases, and insulin spiking.

See the YouTube video I made on this topic here: 

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2. Did Our Ancestors Eat Like Modern Paleo People?

Rob Dunn wrote an article in Scientific American about what our ancestors’ diet really entailed. Dunn argues that in order to understand what our true ancestors ate, it is most helpful to examine what they ate at the stage when their digestive system evolved to turn food into life. The best place to look is at monkeys and apes.

Currently, our digestive system stars in the mouth and ends in the anus. We are extremely similar to chimpanzees and orangutans. We both have a simple stomach that breaks down protein, a small intestine that absorbs sugars, and a large intestine that ferments whatever plant material is left after this process. Our large intestine is shorter than those of apes, though there is great variety in this from human to human.    

The diet of most monkeys and apes is composed of fruits, nuts, leaves, and occasional insects or birds. In this diet, meat is a very rare “treat”. The great majority of food consumed by primates today and in the last thirty million years is vegetables, not animals.

If you intend on truly eating our ancestral diet (ancestors meaning the ones that had most of our own gut features), you will eat fruits, nuts, vegetables, and fungus-covered leaves just like this.

Plant-Based Grocery List FREE Download: 

We did have some evolution after this point. For example, some developed an ability to deal with starchy food via amylase genes, a lactase genes for drinking milk, and even a gene for digesting seaweed. There are slight variations between us in our ability to consume certain foods, but generally, we all have the equipment for dealing with fruits and nuts.

FYI, even if you can tolerate milk, it does not mean it’s good for you. It just means that those who are sensitive to milk are more likely to die in the evolution cycle, or less likely to mate. 

Caveman and Neanderthals also ate grains and wheat very early on (see the 3 studies on this in the References section). And of course, they were not eating oils.

As Dr. Greger explains, our ancestors ate over 600mg of vitamin C, massive amounts of vitamin E and fiber every single day. We got that mostly from the wild greens we foraged. We were getting so much vitamin C that our body stopped producing it!

So, to sum it all up, our ancestors were eating plants 95+ % of the time, for a majority of our evolution.

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 3. Does the Paleo Diet Provide Enough Nutrients?

So now that we have established that the paleo diet is nothing like what our ancestors actually ate, let’s take a look at something more important: how Paleo does on providing us nutrients.

Mic the Vegan did a great video comparing the nutrient profiles of his own high-carb vegan diet, to Paleo, to the typical ancestral Paleolithic diet. He found that today’s Paleo diet is much further from the typical Paleolithic diet in terms of nutrients than a vegan diet.

Here are some examples:

  • A pretty bad essential fatty acid ratio: an omega 6 to 3 ratio of 11:1 (our ancestors’ was 4:1 at max). It is very important to consume a maximum 4:1 ratio of omega 6’s to 3’s for heart health, and many other functions. To do so, avoid oils, and emphasize foods containing omega 3’s (flax, chia, hemp, walnuts).
  • Very high sodium
  • Low micronutrient intake: low Zinc, Vitamin A, Potassium, and C
  • Very low fiber
  • Very high in saturated fat and cholesterol

What Paleo Dieters do great on:

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron
  • Avoiding processed foods
  • Avoiding dairy

4. Vegan Diets Compared to Paleo Diets

Whole-food plant-based diets outdo Paleo diets in many areas, including micronutrients, fiber, and low fat and cholesterol. Vegans do well on their omegas if they make sure to. They also match Paleo on vitamin B, E, and iron. With the exception of B12 – nothing that a cheap supplement cannot fix. And why would you want to consume a (vegan) diet that requires you to take B12 supplements? For the following reasons:

  • Low cholesterol. A 2007 study in Arg. Bras Cardiol found that veganism is the only diet that provides good levels of cholesterol. Because cholesterol was missing from our ancestral diet, our body holds on to it tightly, causing arterial damage. Unlike us, carnivores are used to getting rid of cholesterol constantly. During this last 10% of our evolution in which we began to consume a high-meat diet, we are still not adapted to all of that cholesterol.
  • Disease prevention. The Paleo diet claims to prevent many of today’s leading causes of disease. When we look at rural China and Africa, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are virtually missing. These populations are eating the same diet that we ate for 90% of our evolution – a very high plant-based diet.
  • Heart disease prevention and reversal. The research of Pritikin, Ornish, and Esselstyn, among others, shows that a plant based diet not only stops heart disease, but can actually reverse is. NO OTHER DIET HAS EVER DONE THIS.

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 5. Do Carbs Trigger Insulin Spikes?

  • One of the main rationales behind Paleo is that eating carbs raises your insulin, causing a plethora of disease. However, this is a fallacy.
  • In a 1997 study, it was found that compared to an apple, 1 cup oatmeal, a cup and a half of white flour pasta, a half of a salmon fillet, a big bun-less burger with no carbs at all produces the highest insulin levels. It was found that there is no big difference between beef, chicken, and pork in terms of how much they spike insulin.
  • Vegetarians (lacto-ovo, laco, and vegans) have much lower insulin levels than omnivores. Meat eaters have up to 50% higher insulin levels. In fact, this research found that putting people on a vegan diet dropped their insulin levels in just 3 weeks. By adding egg whites to their diet, their insulin rose 50% in 4 days!
  • In an MIT study, feeding people plant foods, doubling their carb intake, caused insulin to go down.

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6. The Final Verdict

  • Too much meat: what Paleo does great on is lack of processed food and dairy. However, this only provides its followers an excuse to eat tons of meat, which is nothing like what our ancestors ate.
  • Tons of yucky bacteria. The contamination issue alone will convince you to eat plants. The journal of the American Meat Science Association reviewed meat, and found “arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, preservatives, and veterinary drugs such as antibiotic residues”. If you follow Paleo, you could consume more mercury than is recommended by the EPA. Scary!  
  • A study in the International Journal of Exercise Science took a bunch of young healthy people, put them on the Paleo diet coupled with CrossFit-based, high intensity circuit training exercise program.  Losing weight usually means lowering cholesterol. But this study showed that after 10 weeks of crazy workouts and weight loss, the participants’ LDL cholesterol still went up, and it was even worse for those who started the study healthy. They had a 20% elevation in LDL cholesterol, and a drop in their HDL. The impact of paleo on cholesterol was so bad that even exercise could not counteract it!
  • Eat plants – get lower cholesterol and insulin. If you put people on a plant-based diet and a modest exercise program, within 3 weeks, their bad cholesterol drops 20%, 30% drop in insulin.

greens

7. How to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Without Spending a Ton of Money

A plant-based diet is proven by research to lower your cholesterol, and reverse many of today’s leading killers. A plant based diet is much cheaper, easier, and more sustainable for the earth and the animals. Imagine – if all humans began eating organic, pasture-grazing meat. There is no way we could sustain that. Furthermore, animals would continue to be killed needlessly, feeding our heart disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic disease, and more… and for what? To give us more chronic disease.

Shop for your health on a budget: get Soul in the Raw’s grocery list with must-have items in any vegan kitchen below

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8. Main Takeaway

  1. The Paleo Diet aims to emulates what our ancestors ate. It includes grass-fed meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nus and seeds, and oils and excludes cereal grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugars, potatoes, processed foods, salt, and vegetable oils.
  2. Our ancestors ate 95%+ plants for the majority of our evolution. 
  3. A vegan healthy diet provides more nutrients than a Paleo diet, and matches the Paleo diet on all positive aspects.
  4. A vegan diet also promotes low cholesterol, and decreased risk of many chronic diseases. It is the ONLY diet that can prevent and reverse heart disease. 
  5. Unlike founders of the Paleo diet claim, animal products trigger the production of insulin much more than any other foods.
  6. Paleo triggers huge rises in cholesterol, that cannot be countered even by exercise and weight loss. It promotes exposure to a myriad of scary pathogens due to its promotion of eating meat. And it encourages the increase of insulin. 
  7. A Paleo diet is not only unhealthy, but it is also not sustainable. Living on organic meats is not a sustainable practice – there is simply not enough room for such huge areas to be used for farming. It is also insanely expensive.
     

    References:

Cavemen and Neanderthals eating grains (3 studies):

protein-meal-plan

How to Get Protein on a Vegan Diet, and Absorb it too!

It is important to have all the right tools and knowledge to be able to get protein on a vegan diet, absorption being key. 

As a vegan, everywhere I go to lecture on veganism, or every dinner party where I am surrounded by meat-eaters, people ask me this question… So… how do you get your protein?

Today, we are going to explore how to get protein on a vegan diet. And I’m not just going to brush you off by saying that protein is not important. Protein is important. Moreover, it is a huge part of many of our body’s functions. I’m going to give you the facts about protein, and how to get protein on a vegan diet. A diet where all of your protein will be coming from plants, and plants alone.

Vegans are always protecting themselves from “protein deficiency” arguments. And they are partially right. Protein is not that big of a deal. However, all of those who choose to eat mostly plants must arm themselves with the knowledge of how to get protein on a vegan diet. In addition, vegans should know how to optimize their protein absorption. Because it is not just the intake of protein that matters, it is the absorption. Which is much lower for plant sources. Stay with me, and I’ll show you how.

And check out Part 2 of this blog post on Raw Vegan sources of protein here.

Table of Contents

  1. What are Proteins? 
  2. Do We Need Complete Proteins Only? 
  3. How does your body process, digest, and absorb protein? 
  4. The Reason for Our Obsession with Animal-Sourced protein? 
  5. The Hazards of Animal Protein 
  6. The Positive Side Effects of Plant Protein 
  7. How to Get Protein on a Vegan Diet 
  8. A Note on Protein for Athletes + Protein Powders 
  9. Tips for Increasing Protein Digestion 
  10. Main Takeaways

1. What Are Proteins?

Protein is a building block in the body. Protein abounds in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and other tissues. There are over 10,000 different types of proteins. 22 amino acids make up all proteins. Amino acids link together in different ways. As a result, different proteins are formed. Human babies require 9 essential amino acids, while grown humans require 8. Our bodies do not make the essential amino acids. We get them from food. 

nuts and seeds to get protein on a vegan diet

Credit: Cain Studios

2. Do We Need Complete Proteins Only?

In the early 1970’s, Frances Moore Lappé argued for “complete proteins” – meaning eating all 8 essential amino acids in one meal. She retracted this idea 10 years later (see here). However, this misconception still lives on. The myth impacts how humans view plant protein – because few sources of plants contain all 9 amino acids.

Unlike Lappé’s original argument, your body can bring together and keep amino acids over the course of a 24 hour period. Therefore, as long as you eat foods that contain all 8 throughout the day, you will get all of the amino acids you need. You don’t need to make sure that each of your meals contains all of the essential amino acids. In sum: unless you are extremely impoverished, and living on a single source of protein like rice, your chances of becoming protein deficient are essentially nonexistent.

3. How does your Body Process, Digest, and Absorb Protein?

While the body has lots of storage space for carbs and fat, it uses protein from food the moment it is eaten. as such, the body either uses protein to build itself, or transforms it back into glucose to be used as energy, or into fat. To do this, the liver strips off nitrogen (which goes into DNA, RNA, or nonessential amino acids). Excess nitrogen can also go into urea or ammonia, and both are excreted in the urine using water.

All cells in the body contain protein, and this protein is constantly broken down and remodeled for the growing needs of the body. The different amino acids are constantly mixing and matching to create different proteins that your body needs at that particular point in time. This process starts in the mouth and ends in the small intestine, using digestive juices and enzymes. 

nuts and seeds to get protein on a vegan diet

Credit: Cain Studios

4. The Reason for Our Obsession  with Animal-Sourced Protein

Humans discovered protein in 1839, and ever since, the obsession began. As Dr. T. Colin Campbell writes, this protein-loving paradigm has shaped much of human nutrition studies. Significantly, animal protein is the focus of this reverence.

Through the 27-year long China Study, Dr. Campbell found the most relevant carcinogens are casein, the main protein in dairy, and very likely a majority of other animal based proteins. Animal protein, not saturated fat and cholesterol, are to blame for the big C!

            Why didn’t we know this earlier, and why do people still not know this?

According to Dr. Campbell, It is possible to reduce the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, without reducing the intake of animal foods. It is possible to leave out some of the fat (such as in skim milk, lean cuts of meat, and other options), yet it is impossible to create animal-protein reduced animals. In other words, we will do everything in our power to keep animal protein in our diet, even though it causes disease. If you are clinging on to animal protein, it is important to ask yourself why that is… is it habit, conditioning, or false beliefs about the supposed health benefits of these foods?

animal protein is not the way to get protein on a vegan diet

5. The Hazards of Animal Protein

Colin Campbell found unequivocally: “people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. Even relatively small intakes of animal-based food were associated with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.”
Research links Consumption of animal protein to:

  • Various types of cancer, especially when cooked at high temperatures;
  • Accelerated aging;
  • Inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Impaired kidney function and kidney stones;
  • Diabetes related blindness;
  • Childhood obesity and diabetes in later life;
  • Lastly, conditions such as: acne, female infertility, infant sleep apnea, autism, crib death, and premature puberty.

 6. The Positive Side Effects of Plant Protein

  • Yap, even mainstream literature suggests, “people should consider eating more plant proteins than animal proteins”. A 2016 JAMA Internal Medicine study found that a high intake of protein from plant sources was associated with a lower risk of death, as opposed to animal protein.
  • Additionally, plant sources of protein contain enough protein. Excess of vegetable protein is heart protective. It also aids in weight loss and increased ability to treat Parkinson’s disease. (Read more on www.nutritionfacts.org). 
  • Importantly, while the downsides of animal protein have already been mentioned, plant protein comes with the following positive side effects: antioxidants, fiber, minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals.
  • For example, 1 ounce of chia seeds has about 137 calories, 72 calories from fat; 0 cholesterol, 10.6 grams of fiber, 4.7g of protein, 18% calcium, 27% phosphorus, 30% manganese, and significant amounts of: Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.

kale salad is a great way to get protein on a vegan diet

7. How to Get Protein on a Vegan Diet

The current Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is .8 g of protein per body weight in kg (or about 10% of calories from protein). To get protein on a vegan diet, you must consume that amount, in plant form. For example, for me, that means only 48 grams of protein. Woops, I just gave away my weight didn’t I? 😉

As we age, we need a bit more protein. As such, we need to eat foods that supply all of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make. Some plant foods have all of them at once (like quinoa, buckwheat, soy, chia and hempseed), and others have some. As long as you eat foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and legumes, you will get protein on a vegan diet, including all 8 essential amino acids. ALL plant foods contain amino acids, and protein deficiency is basically unheard of in the Western world.

I want to show you how easy it is to get a ton of protein on a very simple, budget-friendly vegan diet. Get protein on a vegan diet: grab my protein-rich vegan daily meal plan by clicking on the cover. It contains more than 90 grams of protein in one day!

8. A Note on Protein for Athletes + Protein Powders

In a recent study, a group of healthy college-aged men with previous training experience did a weight training program. They trained 3 days per week, for 8 weeks. The two groups consumed 48 grams of protein (one group consumed whey, which is animal derived, while the other consumed the same amount of rice protein). After 8 weeks, both gained a similar amount of muscle.

If you’re an athlete or bodybuilder who wants to gain more muscle, aim for about 1.3 to 1.9 grams of protein per kg per day. Significantly, this can definitely be attained without taking protein powders, which are processed foods. Check out this extremely informative video about vegan bodybuilding, where Robert Cheeke, one of the original vegan bodybuilders, explains that he no longer takes protein powders.

a photo of me

9. Tips for Increasing Protein Digestion

  1. It is important to chew protein-rich foods well to increase their surface area and allow quicker digestion
  2. Additionally, a strong acidic stomach helps the protein digestion process. This is because it unfolds the proteins in food and activates enzymes that split the proteins into smaller molecules. Here are tips on stomach acid:
    • Symptoms of low stomach acid include a ton of stuff that can also point to other issues… things like constipation, diarrhea, and undigested food in stool, acid reflux, gas, bloating, belching, skin issues, nutrient deficiencies, and even hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, adrenal fatigue and autoimmune disease in prolonged cases.
    • Furthermore, Stress, consumption of processed food, candida, aging antibiotic use, drinking ice water with meals, and mineral deficiencies all increase the risk for low stomach acid
    • In order to test your stomach acid, you can take the Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test (which is pricy). Alternatively, you can do an at-home baking soda test, which you can find described in detail here.  
    • To increase your stomach acid, you can consult a specialist about Betaine HCl supplements. Additional, you can add vegan digestive enzymes to your diet (which really helped me increase the strength of my digestion).
    • Foods that help increase stomach acid include: lemons and limes, apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon in a small amount of water before every meal), digestive bitters (a tincture you can purchase in a health food store), papaya, and pineapple. Other things that increase stomach acid include: bitter greens, like dandelion, good gut bacteria through fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented salsa, and miso paste. Drink lots of water, but always before your meal, not during or right after. It is critical to reduce stress to increase stomach acid. 
  3. While keeping your stomach acidic is important, it is equally as important to keep your intestine neutral. As a result, more protein-digestion enzymes do their work. The absorption cells of your small intestines carry amino acids to your blood. Then they carry them to the different cells in your body.
    • One of the best ways to neutralize your body is by eating a lot of leafy greens. I recommend doing this by juicing and making smoothies. I have a great guide on how to add leafy greens to your diet here.

Remember to get my 90+ grams of protein per day meal plan here:

Main Takeaways

    1. Proteins are building blocks in the body. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Amino acids link in different ways to form different proteins. There are 9 essential amino acids, 1 of which is only essential for babies.
    2. We can get all the protein we need by consuming all 8 essential amino acids within 24 hours. 
    3. The body does not store protein. It either uses it to build itself, or transforms it into carbs and fats.
    4. The obsession with animal protein has shaped how we view nutrition in general. According to Dr. Campbell, the link between saturated fat, cholesterol (instead of animal protein) and disease is incorrect. Due to this link, humans could continue to eat animals by just creating low-fat milk and meat, etc. Taking out animal protein from the animal is not possible.
    5. There is a link between animal protein and many illnesses, according to research. They include cancer, IBS, kidney issues, diabetes, and many more.
    6. Unlike animal protein, plant protein has only positive side effects. These include antioxidants, fiber, nutrients, and phytochemicals, which are unique to plants and are not present in animals.
    7. The current RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
    8. Plant-powered athletes can thrive. They may aim to get a bit more protein – between 1.3 to 1.9 grams per kilogram of body weight.
    9. Lastly, to increase protein digestion, chew your food well, make sure your stomach acid is very strong, and alkalize your body.
 

Part 2

To read part 2, click here. There, I discuss how to avoid protein deficiency on a raw vegan diet. I also provided more amazing tips for absorbing protein better with a few simple food tricks!

References

  1. http://nutritionstudies.org/animal-vs-plant-protein/
  2. Edward Giovannucci et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific MortalityJAMA Internal Medicine, 2016 DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182
  3. Campbell, T. Colin, and Thomas Campbell M. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health. Dallas, TX: BenBella, 2005. Print.
  4. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-health/slaying-the-protein-dragon/
  5. Becoming Raw
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20977230

Remember, I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. Information presented here is my opinion alone. If you are experiencing any issues, please be sure to consult a licensed professional. 

Sweet Indulgence Acai Bowl

Acai Bowl Recipe: Easy Raw Vegan Breakfast Recipe

Sometimes, the simple things in life taste much better than the complicated. And that is how I feel about my fruity smoothie bowls, which have been my go to lunch for quite a while now. The more simple they are, the better they taste! Naked fruit is always the most amazing, and doesn’t need much else attached to taste great. This raw vegan acai bowl will definitely satisfy you, and get you going through the day. 

Intuitive Eating

And a note about intuitive eating: I am often surrounded by massive amounts of really ripe, beautiful smelling fruit that I really want to eat. I look around me, and want to eat everything! I have a hard time deciding what it is that I will enjoy that given moment. Grateful for the abundance of living food in my home, yet wanting to eat exactly the right thing at the right time for my body, rather than overeating.

I am very involved with my food, as it is part of my job, and I am also very creative with food. I love preparing meals, rather than just having plain fruit, through of course I do that very often as well. I end up eating way too much sometimes… so lately, I have started closing my eyes before choosing my meal, and asking myself, “what do you really want to eat now?” It’s a beautiful way to begin intuitive eating, and the answer comes to me pretty quickly. Try it, and let me know how it goes in the comments. Does it help you eat just the right amount, and feel good after you eat? 

acai bowl

Raw Vegan Acai Bowl

Acai bowls have been popular in cafes for a while now, and it’s a lot of fun to buy one every once in a while. But making your own is much cheaper and quicker. This acai bowl is my go to – and you can feel free to play around and add more ingredients. The toppings are always fun to play around with too – so this is definitely not a rigid recipe. Those toppings look to me like the jewels on an expensive crown, decorating it with their spark and shine. Very poetic way of looking at acai bowl toppings, I know. But would you look at them? Just gorgeous.

Another part of intuitive eating is to really observe your food and how beautiful and life-giving it is. Get involved with it emotionally, and really feel how it adds to your health. This will really help you become more conscious as you eat, and eat exactly the right amount for your body mindfully. 

acai bowl

Sweet Indulgence Acai Bowl
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Total Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
For the base
  1. 1 packet acai (100 grams frozen acai)
  2. 1/4 cup Harmless Harvest coconut water
  3. 4 Medjoul dates
  4. 3 ripe frozen bananas
For the toppings
  1. 2 tablespoons raw coconut flakes
  2. 1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs
  3. 1 tablespoon freeze-dried blueberries
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients until absolutely smooth, and decorate with toppings to your liking. Feel free to add the toppings you have on hand, such as goji berries, other freeze dried fruit, raisins, or anything jewel-like 😉
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Vegan Warm Mushroom Parmesan Salad

Vegan Warm Mushroom Parmesan Salad

This salad is filled with nutrients, and is so very creamy and delicious. The mushrooms are the only cooked part of this recipe. Cooking mushrooms reduces their agaritine content. Agaritine is a carcinogenic substance that is radically reduced by cooking. 

Instead of using dairy Parmesan, I have made Brazil Parmesan. Avoiding dairy is a great way to decrease the fat and cholesterol in your diet. You can read more about the harms of dairy products to our health here

photo1

4 Amazing Nutrient-Rich Superstars of this Salad

  • Mushies: Mushrooms lower the risk of breast cancer, and boost the immune system due to their powerful phytochemical content. 
  • B-nuts: Brazil nuts are wonderful for fulfilling your selenium needs. Only 2 Brazil nuts a day help vegans get all of their selenium, an important cancer-preventing mineral. Read more on that, and get more Brazil nut recipes, here: http://bit.ly/1VVhTNQ .
  • Greens, greens, greens: I detail the magnificent health benefits of greens here. You’ve already fulfilled your selenium with this recipe, why not get some more minerals? Greens will help you do so.
  • Garlic: raw garlic has the power to prevent common colds, contains tons of minerals like manganese and B6, and can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

photo2

Vegan Warm Mushroom Parmesan Salad
Serves 1
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Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
For the salad
  1. 5 cups leafy greens or spring mix of choice, chopped
  2. 3 medium tomatoes
  3. 1/4 soft, ripe avocado
  4. 2 Persian cucumbers, or 1 large English cucumber
  5. 1/4 large sweet white onion
  6. 1 scallion
  7. 1 medium bell pepper
  8. Juice of 1/2 a lemon, or about 2 tablespoons lemon juice
For the mushrooms
  1. 1/2 pint of white button mushrooms, or any mushrooms of your choice
  2. 1 teaspoon dried oregano and thyme
  3. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  4. 1/4 cup water
For the Brazil Parmesan
  1. 1 cup Brazil nuts
  2. 1 garlic clove
  3. 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  4. 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
For the salad
  1. Chop all veggies and place them in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice on top. Chop the avocado and mush it into the veggies, mixing thoroughly with your hands.
For the mushrooms
  1. Boil about 1/4 cup water in a pan (a small amount of water at the bottom of the bowl). Add your mushrooms and spices, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until they shrink well and are soft, making sure to mix them so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. If you need to, add a small amount of water in the process.
  2. Add to salad once they cool down a bit.
For the Parmesan
  1. Turn on your food processor, and throw in the garlic clove once it's going in order to chop it. Add the nuts and pulse a few times to break them up until they are the consistency of rice. Add the salt and nutritional yeast, and pulse a few more times.
  2. Top the salad with the Parmesan.
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10-Day (1)

Raw Vegan Challenge: 10-Day Learn Raw Vegan Refresh

Raw Vegan Challenge: 10-Day Learn Raw Vegan Refresh

raw vegan challenge

Food is important. Like, really super critically important. It’s among the top 3-5 factors that can make you healthy, or suffer miserably. What you put in your mouth MATTERS. That is why I have decided to create this raw vegan challenge, as a gift to you and your body, mind, and spirit. 

Join me for 10 days of nutrient, flavor packed meals, and learning about Raw Foods. Raw foods have helped my family and I gain energy, clear our skin, overcome major illnesses, and achieve a new clarity that we have never experienced before.

When we first started making raw food, we were absolutely clueless. It was so different than anything we have ever tried before. All of a sudden, we actually cared about what was on our plate, and we also cared about the ingredients in the items we were purchasing. But how to combine all of these delicious and fresh foods to make great tasting meals? We had no clue…

It took us years of learning until we got here, to the point of being able to use anything in our fridge to make something super tasty that pleases us and our friends. And that is why I decided to teach you how we do it in just 10 days during this raw vegan challenge.

Raw food allows your body to take a break. This is a Refresh because our body was born to be clean, healthy, and fresh, but things like pollution, bad food choices, negative emotions and other toxins block its innate ability of rebuilding and renewing itself. This 10-day break will allow your digestive system to rest while your body does the cleaning and internal sweeping it needs to do. Enjoy this spring break!


 

Click on the photo below to spread the wealth and share the Refresh (this Raw Vegan Challenge) on Facebook with your friends and family, because they deserve it too:

raw vegan challenge

What is this Refresh/Raw Vegan Challenge all about?

This raw vegan challenge will be all about learning raw food. You will receive a 10-day raw vegan meal plan, but you will also receive daily instruction for these 10 days of how to make raw food, even without a recipe! This is the kind of instruction you can use for long after this Refresh. 

This raw vegan challenge is not about challenging yourself… it’s about being REAL with yourself. Doing the best that you can do every single day to be healthy, learning new techniques, having fun in the kitchen, experimenting, and never ever being upset if you eat cooked food, or even junk food. It’s about giving yourself some slack, but also having your goals in mind the whole time. It doesn’t need to end after the 10 days – you can repeat it over and over again for as long as you want.

Topics covered during the raw vegan challenge will include:

  • Fermented foods
  • How to add greens to your diet
  • Raw vegan breakfasts
  • Does fruit have too much sugar?
  • Raw vegan ice creams
  • Making oil-free salad dressings
  • Cutting veggies and fruits in creative ways to make delicious meals
  • How to make raw dishes with what you have in your fridge RIGHT NOW
  • Easy raw “gourmet”
  • Raw vegan desserts
  • And more!

How much time will I need for the raw vegan challenge?

These are super simple meals that take 5-15 minutes during the day, and no more than 30 minutes for your dinner meal. In addition, you will be getting some videos and tips throughout that will take you no more than 5 minutes per day to watch. So even if you are extremely busy, this is totally doable! 

So how is this all going to work?

In order to participate in this raw vegan challenge, you need to sign up by submitting your name and email above or below. Once you sign up, you will receive a daily email from me with all of the next day’s meal plan so that you can be prepared. You will also receive an approximate grocery list – I say approximate because the whole point is to experiment and I give you many options to do so throughout. You have options to play around, but you also always have back-up recipes to use for every single meal.

To get support, make sure to join Raw Souls on Facebook. Join the free Facebook group

Very important! Make sure you get my emails by doing this:

Emails from me might go into the “promotions” tab, or even spam in your email. Gmail now uses a tabbed email system, sorting emails into “primary”, “social”, and “promotions”. So what you gotta do is always check your spam and “promotions” tab for emails from “Soul in the Raw” (subject will start with [Learn Raw Refresh]. Simply drag the email into your primary tab from the promotions tab, and you will get the following message: 

The conversation has been moved to “Primary.” Undo

Do this for future messages from <email address>? Yes

Be sure to click yes, and be sure to also check your spam folder and move emails from me into your main inbox.

Phew, ok, we got this straight right?

What is raw food?

Raw food includes fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, seaweeds, and sprouts in their raw form. This means they were not cooked or processed in any way that involves heating above 118 degrees F.

The raw foods you will be consuming during this refresh are 100% vegan AND plant-based: this means no oils, processed additives and sugars. We will be using a bit of salt, but I encourage you to keep it to a minimum.

Items that are cold are not necessarily raw. Raw food is also very creative: it is not just cut up fruits and veggies on a plate, although it can be. 

Look at this poster I made for an event. Take this quiz for yourself – which foods do you think are raw out of the 10 items, and which photos do you think are raw foods?

raw vegan challenge

 

The following foods are not raw: cashews, peanuts, nutritional yeast, and maple syrup. They are processed at a high temperature. However, all of these except for peanuts are commonly used in raw food cuisine, at least in small amounts, especially as condiments.

Hummus, chocolate, sushi, pickles+sauerkraut, salad, and guacamole CAN be raw. However, it depends what additives are in them. Hummus can be made raw vegan. Chocolate can be made by using raw (unheated and unprocessed) cacao and carob powder, sushi can be made raw vegan (and will be during this Refresh!), pickles and sauerkraut can also be made at home and raw, guacamole is very often raw unless it has preservatives, and salad… well, it depends on the dressing! 

This is all so confusing! How will I know what to eat during the raw vegan challenge?!?!

Don’t be intimidated. First of all, you are going to get a meal plan for every single day, and I will walk you through all of the confusing steps, giving you instructions about each meal.

The meals are super simple, delicious, and fun! Just look at those three photos on the right side. Did you think they were cooked?

Nope, those are raw vegan meals that are oil free, pretty low in fat, and delicious!

In addition, I highly encourage you to join the free Facebook group, Raw Souls. I will be spending some time in this group every single day to answer your questions. If you are confused about a certain recipe, or you don’t have a certain ingredient and want to replace it, don’t worry because I will be there to help. The group also has many wonderful raw chefs and home cooks that can help you out as well! No question is a bad question. Never hesitate to share your successes and challenges with us.  

Do I need to be a beginner for this raw vegan challenge?

Listen, I still do these raw vegan challenges all the time because it’s so fun, and I get inspired with recipes.

You don’t need to be  beginner, or seasoned raw foodist to participate in this raw vegan challenge. You just need to be you. Be open-minded and ready to have some fun, experience a different style of eating, or maybe just add new recipes and techniques to your already blossoming raw diet. 

My family eats cooked food…

No worries. Just make yourself a meal, and make whatever you usually do for them. They might even get excited to try your food. After all, it’s going to be colorful and GORGEOUS.

I am also providing a very healthy vegan and plant-based cooked option for every dinner meal during this raw vegan challenge. If you would like, you can consume it yourself, or you can make it for your family to have a 1/2 raw 1/2 cooked meal together! Each raw and cooked dinner goes very well together. 

Do I have to buy organic?

I certainly recommend buying the Dirty Dozen organic, but if you really cannot afford it, please don’t let it stop you from participating. I ate raw food that was not organic for years, and still got results! 

What can I expect to experience in my body during these 10 days?

Each body is different. You might feel absolutely nothing, you might feel really crappy (especially if you are coming from a really processed diet), or you might feel high like you have never felt before!

I can tell you that throughout my raw journey, I have felt it all: highs, better digestion, mental clarity, alertness, better sleep, better body odor, whiter eyes and teeth, and more. And I have also felt headaches, stomach aches, and overall pain while cleansing.

If you are currently sick and taking medication, please consult your doctor throughout this refresh. Otherwise, most symptoms are nothing to worry about and are natural. They will pass. If something extreme is going on, again, consult your doctor. Listen to your body.

Do I need special equipment? 

Your mouth, baby!

Just kidding…

I mean, that too, but also, a cutting board and a knife, and some kind of blender or food processor would be great too. However, you can always consume each ingredient I mention without blending or processing if you don’t have those. 

Are you ready? Let’s get this deliciousness going right now! All you have to do is enter your info here to get going:

 

 

raw vegan pina colada smoothie recipe

Pina Colada Smoothie: Raw Vegan Green Smoothie Recipe

Tropical Pina Colada Smoothie: You Won’t Even Feel the Greens

This raw vegan green pina colada smoothie will make you feel like you are in the topics, even if you are currently suffering through  cold winter. Frozen fruit always comes to the rescue when it comes to seasons and locations where you cannot find good quality fresh fruit.

This pina colada smoothie even allows you to get your greens in, all while pretending you are in the topics. Use any greens you like in this smoothie. The flavors of the coconut and pineapple will remove any bitter green aftertaste easily. 

raw vegan pina colada smoothie recipe

Raw Vegan Green Pina Colada Smoothie
Serves 1
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Total Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons coconut flakes soaked in 1 cup water overnight (use raw coconut flakes)
  2. 1 cup frozen pineapple
  3. 1 frozen banana (make sure it's very ripe and has blag spots on it, peel it, and freeze it for about 6 hours)
  4. 1 cup washed spinach leaves, or any other greens you like
Instructions
  1. Blend, adding as much water as necessary to blend. Usually, I use about another 1/2 cup water. Enjoy by pretending you're on some far away incredible island somewhere, sipping your healthy drink!
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DSC_2106-XL

The Green Juices and Green Smoothies Complete Guide

Welcome to the world of green juices and green smoothies!

Whether you are a new-comer or you’ve been making green juices and green smoothies for a while, this guide will be beneficial to you. I am going to teach you the benefits of green juices and green smoothies (and this is what drives me to make them almost every single day, so pay close attention); then, we’ll talk (yes, I feel like I’m talking to ya here my friend) about the differences between green juices and green smoothies, some money and time-saving tips, and of course, recipes! 

Do you have a favorite raw vegan juice, smoothie, or soup recipe? Post it in the comments below!

Green Juices and Green Smoothies: The Benefits 

Making green juices and green smoothies is the cornerstone of the raw vegan lifestyle, and whether you’re 100% or 5% raw, you should definitely incorporate these. This is because these drinks contain greens, fruits, and veggies in a very easy-to-digest form.

  • Their most important component is the greens, as they contain vital minerals and vitamins that raw vegans, vegans, and any other eaters hardly receive otherwise. They also contain these nutrients in large quantities, since it is easy to add many greens to a juice or smoothie, rather than any other food, especially in their raw form. Stay tuned, and I will show you how! 
  • Green juices and green smoothies are extremely cleansing and detoxifying. I want to share with you that they were one of the things that saved my mom’s life as she journeyed away from her IC (a painful bladder condition which she suffered from for 8 years). I feel their benefits in my body in the form of clearer skin, a boost of energy, better digestion, and overall vitality.
  • Green juices and green smoothies are also extremely alkalizing to the body. An alkalizing body is not only disease-free, but is also calm, peaceful, and loving. When your insides are clean and happy, your intentions also become clean and happy! If you eat processed food of any kind, and especially if you consume animal products (which I recommend removing from your diet), you are consuming a very acidic diet, and it is critical to balance it out with these green babies. Your blood must always stay between 7.35 and 7.45, and these green juices/smoothies/soups help you do just that. So let’s see how we do this…
Green Juices and Green Smoothies

Photo credit: http://www.cainphotostudios.com/

Green Juices and Green Smoothies: the Differences

  • Green smoothies include blended drinks of greens and fruit, in differing ratios depending on your preferences. You must use a blender to make these, and you use the entire fruit and vegetable to make them, including the fiber. (I will mention which blender and juicer I recommend using in a later section). 
  • Green juices are juices made from mostly greens and some fruits (to better the taste). Because juicing removes the fiber, you need much more greens to produce the same amount of liquid as in a smoothie, which also means that you’re getting many more greens.
  • From the point of view of digestion, nutrients from juices enter the bloodstream directly (because of the lack of fiber), while the digestion of smoothies and soups takes longer, and may not be as beneficial for those who have digestive issues.
  • Green soups are similar to smoothies, but are more savory and can be made into a cold meal, adding spices, garlic, and chickpea miso (for example) for flavor. 

Green Juices and Green Smoothies: Which One is Better?

I’ll give you the answer to this one right away: all 3 are awesome, it just depends on your preference, time, and equipment. The best one is the one you will drink every single day

Upside to juicing: In my personal experience, juicing really helps move things around… you know… in the gut (that area that determines the health of your entire body, as well as your immune system). It helps me decrease bloating, as well as feel energized and refreshed. I believe juicing is the optimal way for people (who usually get enough fiber daily) to increase their intake of greens, and nutrition in general. 

Downside to juicing: However, juicing is much more expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, on days when I’m really busy and don’t have much time in the morning, I make a smoothie to take with me. 

Remember that smoothies contain all the fiber of the greens and fruit, and therefore if you’re sensitive to a lot of fiber, try juices first. At the same time, if your system needs the fiber (if your diet is currently fiber-poor), try smoothies. Heck, try both! See what fits you and your unique body.

The Busy People Guide to Green Juices and Green Smoothies

I don’t like to be home often, and I worked 9 to 5 for the first 4 years of being raw vegan, and I still made green juices and smoothies every single week. Yes, it can be done my friend. Juices and smoothies are awesome to take to work because they fill you up and you don’t have to sit there and chew all day. Plus, people ask you: “Can I just ask: what the hell is that?” And then you have the joy of introducing others to the benefits of this green magnificence!

Tips:

  1. Purchase some super cheap glass jars with tight lids, or recycling old glass jars. I usually drink about a liter of juice or smoothie a day, and it fills me up at least until 12 or even later, so make sure your jars have plenty of room. 
  2. Wake up 30 minutes before you have to to make your juice. If you’re absolutely pressed for time, make a green smoothie. It takes 10 minutes. Prepare your ingredients ahead of time in the fridge – wash them all and place them in a container in the fridge. You can also prepare your juice the night before, especially if you are using a slow juicer. More on that later…
  3. Make a calendar for the week! This is a great way to stay committed to that green habit. Figure out which days you are insanely busy and cannot make juices, which days you should make them the night before, and the days reserved for smoothies. Being prepared is absolutely key in succeeding on your health journey. 
  4. And along with that… stick a photograph or written paragraph on your fridge that will remind you why you are doing this. Is it to prevent disease? To lose weight? To feel more energetic (instead of drinking the extremely acidic alternative, coffee)? That reminder will be extremely powerful in motivating you to do this. 

Juicing on a Budget with Wild Greens 

Isn’t it awesome that making smoothies and juices on a budget means that they also become healthier? Let me explain…

One of the healthiest type of greens for us (and I call them super-foods) are wild plants! And these are literally everywhere. In your backyard, on the street – everywhere! Because they literally have to fight for their existence (none of that convenient watering thing going on), they are survivors, and they make your body just that – a thriving machine. Their health benefits are even more powerful than store-bought greens. 

  • Some types of wild greens that I really like to put in my juices and smoothies, which are available in my neighborhood are: dandelions, milk thistles, fennel (hate the taste but bear it sometimes for the health benefits and such, you know…), aloe vera, mallow, and stinging nettle (which you must pick carefully because it will sting your hands, but don’t worry – it doesn’t sting when you eat it).
  • Make sure not to pick greens on the side of the road, as they absorb all those toxic fumes from cars on the street. 
  • Wild greens are not sold in the supermarket because they wilt quickly. Therefore, be sure to use them right after you pick them. Also, their nutritional power wilts as they wilt, so it’s better to munch down on them right away.
  • Some wild greens are poisonous. Therefore, it is extremely important that you do not try greens without knowing exactly what they are. For example, parsley, cilantro, wild carrot, and celery all have very similar flowers and leaves. And so does poison Hemlock.
  • Use wild greens in your juices and smoothies just as you would store-bought. Stay tuned for exact recipes and tips below…

Green Juices and Green Smoothies: Organizational Tips

It is extremely important to be organized when juicing to make sure you get it done quickly. Since soups and smoothies are so quick to make, I won’t write about them as much in this section.  

1)      Right after you buy or pick your greens, wash them and cut off the ends. Doing this might create nutrient “run-off” (deplete some nutrients as they are exposed to oxidation), but if you’re very busy, it’s worth doing on a weekend. 

2)      Be sure to always store all your greens in plastic bags that will keep them fresh. Use the thin plastic bags from your grocery store’s produce isle, and reuse it each time. 

3)      It’s great to have two people juicing together. One can be in charge of washing the greens, the other can be in charge of chopping and washing the fruit, and then whoever finishes first can start juicing. When the juicing is done, the first person can sift the juice through the sifter (this is done to make the juice taste more smooth and remove all fiber, but not necessary). This really saves time!

4)      Have two cutting boards or bowls (or any other container) ready: put all your greens on one and all your fruits on another. This helps because when you make the juice, you have to interchange between them so the process can go smoothly. What I mean is that if you have a slow juicer, it has a hard time with soft fruit. So what you need to do in the process of juicing itself, is insert a small piece of fruit, then greens, then fruit, then greens, etc. – this way, the machine will not get stuck. 

5)      Have your trash can right next to you, so you can quickly throw out all the garbage (in the form of pulp) right away. Alternatively, you can save your juice pulp (especially when carrots are involved), and make crackers out of it in a dehydrator.  

6)      If you’re making lots and lots of juice buy a ladle. This is the best way to put juice into cups. And also have a big tub or bowl to put your juice into and ladle out of.

7)      Sift your juice – it’s a bit time consuming, but it really makes the juice taste must better and smoother. Again, if you need fiber, skip this step, and also consider adding more fruits and veggies into your diet ;). 

8)      Close the drain of your sink and put all the greens in there to wash them. Fill up the sink with some water and let them sit in there a bit. This will actually save water, and allow you to finish the washing very quickly. You can also use pre-washed greens. 

9)      Buy everything organic. While this is expensive, it actually saves you time because then you don’t have to peel the apples and carrots, for example. And yes, if it’s not organic, peel it. Most of the toxic residue is in the skin. 

10) Save all your food scraps for juicing. For example, if you peel anything, save the peel for your juice. Whenever I use broccoli, I peel the stalk to make it more palatable. I always save those stalk peels for juicing. Same goes for kale stems, which I discard when making salads. 

Be patient with yourself. It takes time to get into the groove of juicing. But once you do, you will find additional tricks and tips you can use to make the process quick and fun. Turn juicing and smoothie-making into a meditation. I like to put on guided positive affirmations in the background while I make juice, or even listen to podcasts. 

Which Juicer and Blender Should I use?

  • Juicer: I personally use the Omega 8006 juicer. I find that it is somewhere between a very slow juicer like the Green Star or the Norwalk, and a Tribest juicer. I love using it, and the clean up is very quick. Yes, it is still a slow juicer. This way, the nutrients are preserved. It is also expensive, but it is a great investment because they last a long time.
  • Blender: nothing compares to my Vitamix. I am absolutely in love with it, and use it liteally daily! Invest in one, and t’ll change your life. You will not only use it for smoothies, but also for ice creams, desserts, dressings, and so much more! 

How to: Green Juices and Green Smoothies

In this section, I will give you some guidance on how to structure your own juices and smoothies. This way, you can become your own green wizard in the kitchen. You will be able to build new recipes that suite your taste buds and ingredients. I will also give you some sample recipes to try out.

And a general tip: it is quite important to “chew” your smoothie, soup or juice so that your stomach can remember to produce digestive acids… take the time to chew a bit before you swallow. Carb digestion begins in the mouth, and without chewing, digestion worsens. 

Get your recipes here:

 

Green Juices and Green Smoothies

Photo credit: http://www.cainphotostudios.com/