Friday, March 9, 2012

Calcium and Iron Herbal Tea for Pregnancy

At the end of my first trimester, I'm still relying on foods, not excess supplementation, to provide the vast majority of the nutrition I need for my pregnancy. My herbal infusions are taking center stage as the task of eating becomes less focused on nutritional data per bite, and more focused on what will stay in my stomach.

Minerals during pregnancy are just as critical as they are at any other stage of life. So many women rush out and buy prenatal supplements when they become pregnant, but this can be a big mistake. The health of the fetus rests critically on the months preceding conception, and by the time most women discover they are pregnant, so many irreversible decisions and developments in the life of the fetus have already been made.

Since dairy is a mucous forming, lymph congesting, acidifying precursor to bone loss, it's certainly not right for a truly healthy and natural pregnancy. In addition, consumption of dairy is now inextricably linked to type 1 diabetes and cancer due to IGF-1 found in this very profitable, yet nutritionally lacking, group of food. An easy to read and very detailed, researched report can be found here. This is certainly not the life altering health challenge we as parents want to give our children.

As pregnant women, we must focus on the green world for bio-available nutrients, and fortunately critical minerals like calcium and iron are found here in unlimited amounts, as well as phytonutrients such as chlorophyll that can only be found in edible plants. Minerals ingested from dark, leafy greens and green edible plants like weeds and other herbs are assimilated efficiently and easily by the human body, and are safe as both foods and nutritional supplements. On your next visit to your herbalist, midwife, or other natural health practitioner, share with her your interest in obtaining your daily nutrient needs from green plants.

Today, I'm making the following, and sharing it with my children. The best part about drinking the green infusions from edible plants is that you can enjoy them with your entire family in age appropriate doses. I add a few drops of Stevia to the portions I give my children.

Multi-Mineral Calcium and Iron Infusion

1 part Yellow Dock Root
3 parts Nettle Leaf
2 parts Oatstraw
1 part Red Raspberry leaf
1 part Peppermint (unless breastfeeding- will decrease milk supply)

Soak the Yellow Dock in 1 quart + 1/3 cup COLD water in a saucepan as long as possible. I like to leave it overnight, but half and hour is also fine if you can't spare the time. Try to make your infusions the night before if they include roots. If your infusion does not include roots, just boil the water plain.

Next, bring the water and the Yellow Dock to a boil and immediately reduce it to a low simmer for 15-20 minutes tightly covered. While the water boils, add your remaining herbs to a large glass quart jar. I like to use about half an ounce. This is a nutritive tonic infusion, similar to a broth, and as such you can drink plenty because these herbs double as edible foods.

When the timer goes off, pour the entire contents of the saucepan into the quart jar. Since you'll have lost a little water to steam, you should have just about 1 quart now, and enough to fill the jar with herbs to the rim. This is why I suggest adding a little extra water. With the roots and leaves brewing together, put the lid on immediately and leave for at least 2 hours, preferably 3-4. This makes enough infusion for one person to drink throughout the day by the cup.

There are plenty of other herbs I've left out here, such as Alfalfa and Red Clover, but I don't like to use too many herbs in an infusion. 2-3 is plenty, and single herb infusions are extremely powerful themselves, so use what you can source locally, and wildcrafted is best. Just drinking a strong nettle infusion will give you a huge boost of chlorophyll, phytonutrients, minerals, as well as lend support to many areas of the human body.

Other advantages to this blend are it's abilities to calm my children down gently (Oatstraw), it's liver supporting action (Yellow Dock and Nettle), it's tonifying action on my currently stressed out uterus (Red Raspberry Leaf), and it's tummy soothing effects on nausea and indigestion (Peppermint). This brew comes out extremely dark, like a deep amber/black due to the color of yellow dock and the extremely high concentration of chlorophyll in the nettle leaf. Adding 5 drops of stevia to the entire quart will neutralize any unfamiliar "earthy" flavors, until your tongue remembers the taste of real food :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Raw Vegan Pregnancy- 9 Weeks

...It's getting real around here.

Today I'm feeling better than I have in quite a few days. This week has been particularly trying. I'd thought my nausea had leveled out, but it surprised me by going into overdrive, and there was a 24 hour period where I wasn't able to eat a thing. I'm having to supplement my diet, which I'll describe in full, and my exercise is more sporadic than calculated. I'm noticing a nasty cycle: Often I'm too sick to eat anything, which weakens my already tired state, making it impossible for me to workout, even though my workouts are one of the only things that can stimulate my appetite at the moment. It's getting tricky.

The worst has happened: I've developed an aversion to my dark, leafy greens. T_T These are crucial in my diet, so I've had to make some adjustments. I've added two supplements into my diet temporarily to ensure I've got enough energy to make it through the day. The first is Garden of Life's Raw Protein. This might be seen as unnecessary, and I agree: for those who are able to eat enough food, there's no need to supplement for protein, absolutely none at all. However, with the aversion to leafy greens (a huge source of amino acids), and my small appetite and inability to keep food down sometimes, it's an extra bit of insurance. At only half a scoop in a small banana smoothie, it's a very concentrated source of nutrients that doesn't require any extra stomach room.

In addition, I am also using Trader Joe's Super Green Drink in my daily smoothie, as well. One scoop of this stuff has 2000 mg of greens such as barley grass, spirulina, chlorella, and also includes both digestive enzymes and non-dairy probiotics, something that I'm having to double up on recently. Did I forget to mention that pregnancy slows your digestion to an almost complete standstill?

Here are some other natural, living tonics I'm relying on in early pregnancy.

Kombucha: Another choice that might be seen as "dangerous", but I've been drinking kombucha for the better part of a decade, and limiting my dosage to just two ounces a day, and this is mixed with ginger juice. It's sort of a last resort, since all of my homemade sauerkraut, kim chi, and other cultured vegetables make me sick to even think about them. Kombucha, however, I'm feeling strongly drawn to, so a light brew is definitely working for me at this time.

Herbal Infusions: I don't usually go a day without my strong herbal tonics, and pregnancy hasn't changed that in the least. I have, however, eliminated my strongly cleansing and adaptogen tonics and instead opted for blends that offer both strong plant based nutrition and gentle uterine toning actions. Some of my absolute favorites for pregnancy are Nettle Leaf for dark, leafy green nutrition, Yellow Dock as an iron supplement, Raspberry Leaf as a uterine tonic, and Dandelion Leaf and Root to prevent jaundice and build a healthy baby liver.

Today's Herbal Pregnancy Tonic:

Fennel (nausea)
Red Raspberry Leaf (uterine)
Oatstraw (calcium/mood)
Dandelion Root (water retention/liver)
Yellow Dock (iron)

Today I was feeling inventive, but I normally like to keep my tonics to three herbs or less. I got some fresh Oatstraw, though, and I was anxious to try it :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Raw Vegan Pregnancy- 6 Weeks, 6 Days Along

Let's be honest- the first trimester sucks. My first child, born back in 2006, gave me very little in the way of morning sickness, but my second child in 2008 was a nightmare of nausea. Interestingly, I was living a high raw lifestyle by the time that second pregnancy rolled around, but it had little effect on morning sickness.

Fast forward to 2012-

It's awful. The worst part is that certain fruits are making me sick just thinking about them! Important fruits! I'm having difficulty with the texture of bananas, which is problematic because they're essentially my rice. Thankfully I finished off the last of the persimmons a few weeks ago, because that melty, jelly like consistency of a really ripe persimmon is NOT as attractive as it was last month. Right now, winning fruits have a juicy, fibrous texture with little potential for mushiness.

Today, I ate:

blood oranges
navel oranges
cara cara oranges

When I first was struck with the sickness, I couldn't manage to get in my greens. My digestive system slowed to a crawl, and digesting greens, even shredded romaine, became a complicated stomachache. Fats cause the same response, especially when they're mixed with the greens. Young coconut meat is a winner right now, as is half an avocado by itself. Now, I'm able to get in my greens by having them in a juice made with lemon, apples, ginger, and cucumbers. I picked up some local bok choy and baby spinach at the farmer's market, so I'll be juicing those for the next few days, in addition to the organic romaine hearts I got on sale this week. 3 organic romaine heart for 99 cents. Win.

I'm eating little meals as often as possible, which is a huge change from my usual large meals 3 times a day I was used to (and enjoying). But the longer I go without eating, the worse the nausea gets, and trying to eat the same size meals I did last month just isn't going to happen. It's almost as if my stomach shrank overnight!

Today, my workout was

Time Attack- 12 minutes plus warm up and cool down

A series of 5 body weight exercises performed at 20 reps each, as many rounds as you can before the time runs out. Video and details can be found here at

Tomorrow should be a 30 minute run at noon.

I'm feeling less attracted to OJ and more attracted to eating my oranges chopped. I'm just going with whatever I can eat without regretting later.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Surprise! My Raw Vegan Pregnancy!

Nope, it's not a joke- I'm pregnant!

After my difficult journey through my first miscarriage this past October, I've completed a wonderfully cleansing detox followed by a deeply regenerating juice feast in December. Now that January has passed and I've spent some time reaching down deep into my health on all levels to make the necessary preparations, I am once again ready to accept the gift of pregnancy.

Provided that all goes well, this will be my first high raw baby. My last pregnancy was a 50 percent raw, all vegan, all whole foods path, and it was so, so simple. In fact, my birthing ritual lasted a mere 2 and a half hours! I walked for miles a day, even just days before I gave birth. This time, I want to further my goals and record here my experiences, challenges, and successes on a high fruit and greens raw vegan diet.

Don't forget to connect with me here, on Facebook and Twitter to keep up on my fruity pregnancy journey! I'll be posting daily menus, workout routines, difficulties, and basically giving you the raw deal on what it's like to eat a TRUE whole foods diet while creating a human life! I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with all of you :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Raw Vegan Fruit Shopping Haul! Frugal Raw Food!

I'm back again with another fruity shopping update, complete with pictures! I had a great shopping week, and I managed to snag something a little more fun than just plain old bananas. But hey, let's not knock bananas, I can't go a day without them! Good thing I found 5 bags of them, marked down, ripe, and ready to eat!

I froze quite a bit of them, especially any that looked like they might not last a few more days without getting a little too soft for my tastes. This week I also picked up a bag of Trader Joe's Very Cherry Blend in the frozen section to make cherry berry soft serve. Yum!

Here's a treat I haven't had in a few weeks, and these ones came out delicious!

These mangoes are pretty big, and I grabbed them for only 85 cents apiece! One of my favorite local ethnic produce markets had a giant pile of them, so I grabbed up 8 of them. I had my first one tonight: so soft and melty, perfectly ripe with no bruises. Just perfect, like honey.

The pineapples this week are wonderful. I know I've got a great pineapple when I can eat an entire one for breakfast and have no sore tongue afterwards, and that's just what I got with these amazing fruits. I picked up 4 of them, and each one was only $1.40

Now, my favorite find. I managed to grab this 30 pound box of blood oranges for...guess. Go on, guess how much it was.



They aren't all perfectly ripe, and I think it's still a little early in the season, but they're ripening up slowly, and I've been mixing these with my delicious and perfectly ripe local cara cara navels I picked up for only 49 cents a pound. Mixing the two juices makes a beautiful blazing sunset appear in my glass, since the two are so thick with pulp that it's difficult for them to mix together. I am so grateful that I am able to start my day with so much nutrition and energy for mere pocket change! Get on out into your own neighborhood, because you can do the same :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Raw Vegan Fat Free Eggplant Chips!

Wow, this is an easy one, and a classic, too! It gets passed around the raw food forums often and its popularity rises with each new flavor "tweak". However, I'm going to give you the basics, and you can tweak to your heart's content! I make this recipe especially for my young kids and they love it!

These are amazingly simple crunchy little snacks that will give you the crisp of a potato chip in an oil free, potato free, and totally guilt free mouthful. You need only two ingredients: eggplant and apple cider vinegar.

Slice your eggplant thinly, and I mean THIN! A couple of centimeters is good; it doesn't have to be like paper, but the thinner, the better. Lay them out on a glass pan and give them a good soak in ACV. Now, if you like, you can add other herbs and seasoning to the ACV before you pour it on. Nutritional yeast, spice blends like mexican or curry, garlic powder, chipotle powder...if you like it, add it in. But the basic recipe makes a great salt and vinegar style chip. Adding salt is definitely optional and not recommended. The ACV has a great sweet and salty flavor, but a dash of Braggs Liquid Aminos will add a little more depth.

Soak these for at least a few hours or as long as you can, and then dehydrate overnight in your dehydrator or oven on the lowest setting with the door cracked open. I put mine to dehydrate around 7 pm and turn them off around 10 in the morning, but my dehydrator doesn't have a heat dial, so you can experiment at home. The great thing about these is your can't over-dehydrate- the longer you let them go, the more Pringles-esque they become!

I've only used the larger Mediterranean eggplants, so I do not know how an Asian eggplant will fare. It might be better, or it might not work at all! If you try it that way, be sure to post your results!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Congratulations, Giveaway Winners!

Congrats to both of our winners! Your packages will be sent out ASAP!

If you haven't been notified at this point, I'm happy to tell you that you'll have another chance to win a new prize shortly. In the meantime, keep an eye on this blog through Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know about new giveaways, as well as important news in holistic health, nutrition, and herbal medicine!

Twitter @kombuchadiva