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A Strip of Vegan Heaven on the LES

04/07/2013

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If you’re a newbie to eating cleanly, I highly suggest heading on over to East 10th street between 1st and Avenue A–where you will find two amazing little spots that make you forget that you’re not eating junk food, in addition to some exercise studios and juice bars. Today I went to Quintessence for lunch–a mostly raw, vegan, restaurant in the lower east side. And as always, it was delicious! I split a quinoa pilaf and scallion nori rolls, in addition to a a “tiramisu” that tasted better than the real thing. This restaurant has always been one of my faves, and never ceases to satisfy.

But the surprise that I found while on this wonderful strip was the recently opened Jennifer’s Way Bakery next door, a gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, soy free, peanut free bakery. I’ve been looking for one of these for so long; most vegan bakeries usually have tons of gluten or agave but this shop sweetens everything with coconut sugar or maple sugar. They also have a cute ingredients book in the front, which has a handwritten list of everything used to make each product. Talk about transparency! On top of it all, they try to source a large amount of their ingredients from GMO-free sources. I went and had a banana chocolate chip muffin, and it was delicious. I can’t wait to go back and try their bagels and artisanal bread.

Needless to say, I’m stuffed. And happily so. Happy Sunday!

 

 

What You Need to Know About the “Monsanto Protection Act”

03/31/2013

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The “Monsanto Protection Act” is what many food activists have coined Section 735 of the Farmer’s Assurance Provision, and has many organic advocates and organizations up in arms. And for good reason. This bill completely contradicts President Obama’s campaign promise to label genetically modified organisms, and gives Monsanto and the USDA power to entirely ignore judicial oversight.

 

What it Changes

 

Prior to the passage of this provision, the USDA’s testing of new GMO crops was subject to judicial oversight. The law previously required the USDA to complete environmental impact statements (EIS) before allowing for the sale and planting of GMO crops. These environmental impact statements were subject to judicial review. For example, in 2010, the Center for Food Safety initiated a lawsuit against the USDA, requesting a temporary restraining order to prevent Monsanto from planting GMO sugar beets since the USDA failed to file a proper EIS. The court ruled for the plaintiff, reversing USDA approval of GMO sugar beets.

 

The new provision, however, undermines this process, and would have allowed for the USDA to ignore the court’s ruling on GMO sugar beats. In relevant part, the Act states:

 

“In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements. . . “

 

Basically, this throws the whole process of judicial review straight down the garbage can. Instead of providing a check for the USDA’s determination, the USDA can ignore the court system and makes its own determinations on GMO crops. And although the provision would only last for 6 months, there’s no telling what legal precedent it could set.

 

Who’s Behind It

The provision was supposedly written by Senator Roy Blunt, in conjunction with Monsanto, a publicly trade agricultural corporation who leads in the production of genetically engineered crops. Talk about conflict of interest! The Center for Food Safety also reported that several democrats were completely unaware of the provision’s inclusion, as it was slipped into the bill last minute.

 

 What you Can Do  

Despite adamant public protest, Obama signed the bill, allowing the law to take effect. Despite Obama’s poor history on US food policy, I’ve always had faith that his policies would improve this term, despite the fact that he appointed Tom Vilsack, former Monsanto lawyer, as the secretary of agriculture. After all, he had healthcare and re-election to worry about first term, and he could only spread his political clout so thin. And while he still has very important civil rights issues on his plate at the moment, this is his last chance to make the more radical policies he promised—to make steps towards labeling GMOs– not to allow more of them to go unchecked. As supporters, we must demonstrate that we are no longer OK with food policy taking a back seat, and that we want him to pursue the policy of labeling GMO’s, as he said he would in 2007.

For more information, check out these links:

Obama Signs Monsanto Protection Act

Congress Teams Up with Monsanto to Shred the Constitution

‘Monsanto Protection Act': 5 Terrifying Things To Know About The HR 933 Provision

Sign this petition 

 

Final Thoughts: Surprises on the Clean Program

03/24/2013

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If you’ve been following my most recent posts, you know that I went on the clean program, a cleanse that allows for snacking and one solid meal at lunch in addition to two smoothie meals. The first time I did the clean program, I was only able to do it for two weeks since I was going away to Puerto Rico. This time, I decided to try it for a full three weeks when I started to see some old skin conditions flare up. By the second week, I felt good. I had lost some unwanted belly fat and my skin definitely cleared up. It also wasn’t difficult for me to follow, because it was fun to experiment with new recipes and smoothies.

 

However, once the third week came, I was over it. Although I was getting more than enough calories, I was bored drinking smoothies all the time, and snacked even when I wasn’t hungry because I wanted something different. I didn’t see any further progress in my body and towards the end I actually started to feel some legit problems with my digestion. I ended up stopping after the 19th day. Yes—I lamed out! But I’m not one to kick myself about my eating choices. I will eat a certain way until it doesn’t feel good anymore. I’m not a fan of self-torture!

 

Would I do the cleanse again? Probably. I most likely wouldn’t do it for three weeks, but I would certainly stick with it until my body disagrees. My skin improved and I gained a deeper understanding of the foods to which my body is sensitive, so I definitely reaped some benefits. For example, once I began to reintroduce certain prohibited foods, I learned that my body is sensitive to oatmeal, grapes, and bananas—so now I know that I should only eat those foods in moderation.

 

However, I would change a few things. First, I would make sure I have enough time to relax. During the third week, I had a 15-page paper due, along with a tax quiz, which made it difficult to get enough sleep and let my body adjust. Second, I would use Natural Calm magnesium powder more often than Swiss Kriss herbal laxatives, as I started to become dependent on Swiss Kriss (Natural Calm, on the other hand, is non habit-forming, and you can increase the dosage as much as you need to). Finally, I would plan ahead in order to make sure I consume a greater variety of smoothies and soups—so as not to become deficient in any nutrients.

 

So there’s my update.  A bit anticlimactic I suppose, since I was hoping for some more drastic changes. But you live and you learn, and I’m more than happy with my results. Hope you can learn from my mistakes!

 

Getting Started on the Clean Program

03/05/2013

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In my last post, I mentioned that I was starting the Clean Program, a cleanse developed by Dr. Alejandro Junger. I hope that you are thinking of trying it out, as it’s the only cleanse I have found that works and is doable! I recommend getting the book if you plan on doing it, as my explanation does not do it justice. I’m on my second week now, and I feel my body really getting rid of all the junk. I’m feeling OK though!  I’m certainly feeling some detox symptoms—whiteness on my tongue in the mornings, itchy skin, lots of sneezing—but I know this will make the 3rd and final week so much better—when the body starts repairing itself.

 

Eliminate:

Oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, bananas, strawberries, grapes, corn, creamed vegetables, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes), Dairy, Red meat (other than wild game and lamb), shellfish, and raw meat/fish, All Refined Sugar and Sweeteners (coconut nectar and stevia is OK), caffeine, alcohol, peanuts, soy, gluten, canola oil, and vegetable oil. The idea of the diet is to get rid of highly inflammatory and acidic foods, so that excess mucus in the body will be expelled and your body can heal itself.

 

Rules:

Liquid meals (homemade smoothies/juices/soups of your choice from the list of approved foods) will be for breakfast and dinner, so that your body has the time from your dinner to your lunch of the next day to cleanse.

Allow for twelve hours between your first and last meal. So if you have dinner at 7PM, your breakfast is at 7AM.

Make sure you are POOPING. Otherwise you will poison yourself with your own toxins. Put flax in your smoothies if you are having problems. If you are really having issues, try Natural Calm–a magnesium supplement that aids muscle movement and is non habit-forming.

Drink lots of water. You should have to pee every hour.

 

 

Supplement:

antibacterial: garlic, olive leaf, or oil of oregano to kill the bad stuff

probiotics to rebuild gut flora (I like metagenics or Udos 8)

liver support, such as NAC or milk thistle

 

 

Other:

SLEEP. The cleanse does not work properly if you are not getting enough sleep. Junger recommends to try and get 7 hours a night.

Light exercise is important. If you are going to do heavy exercise, you can have a third smoothie.

 

Tips for Success:

enroll a friend! It keeps you accountable and provides a recipe-sharing buddy. I’ve already gotten two on board. :)

Do a “pre-cleanse” where you eat three meals, but none on the list above.

Get lots of sleep! If it’s late and you’re hungry, just go to sleep. It will help the process and shut down your temptation to eat.

 

Good luck and stay tuned for updates! :)