Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Banana Island: Days 1 and 2

For an explanation of the Banana Island cleanse and the health benefits of bananas and raw food in general, see my previous post:
My Banana Island, Day 0: Why Bananas? and Preparations

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist.What I write here is based on my opinions and research and my experience will not be universal to all people.

Day 1:

On day 1 I had approximately 18 bananas ( I lost exact count at lunch). I felt very full and honestly quite sick of bananas by midday, but soldiered on in the spirit of banana island. Physically I was feeling quite good, probably from how healthy I'd been eating prior to the cleanse, but by the time I got home from work I had an  headache of the magnitude I associate with caffeine withdrawl. This was mysterious to me given that I'd given up caffeine weeks ago. Trying to cure it with icy liquid, I put some frozen raspberries in my water bottle and went to kickboxing class, where I felt very energized despite the headache. I was able to do all the moves, plus sprinting and a sadistic amount of squats. No problems there.
I decided to jazz up my banana dinner with a raw sauce made of blended carrot, banana, plum, water, and pumpkin pie spices. I arranged my banana into a sort of pie and heaped it generously with sauce to photograph for Instagram. The rest I ate together with more bananas out of a bowl:

More photos on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

As a rule I have not been eating after 8, so it was a rush to get it down after kickboxing. After that, my stomach was definitely full but I was craving something warm. I made honeybush tea, which is lovely and contains no actual honey

At the end of day one my observations were:
-I had plenty of energy and felt calm, and light on my feet
-My skin was looking better daily
-My digestion was slower than usual until nighttime, then started working great
-I didn't think I'd last another day on B.I., as I was tired of bananas.

Day 2:

On day 2 I only pulled off maybe 9 bananas. As I mentioned in my Day 0 post, a flaw in my planning was not going to the store days beforehand to get bananas and ripen them on my porch. I ended up having to eat a lot of not-too-ripe bananas that hadn't grown spots yet. On day 2 I think they hit my system hard. The calm feeling of Day 1 was replaced by irritability and a lack of focus at work, and I ended up eating 2 grapefruits and 2 apples for lunch and only 1 banana. By the time I got home I felt a new resolve to get my banana on, but I did add cacao powder to the 4-banana and water smoothie I made. It tasted great. On a cleanse you really appreciate any variety in taste and texture, so I was loving my smoothie!
However, my energy levels had run low and I fell asleep til evening. I had a last banana, then caved when my roommate presented me with a homemade vegan energy bar. It ok but actually felt too heavy on my taste buds. I also spotted a zucchini in the fridge, and as I was beginning to deeply crave some veggies, it went down the hatch too. More tea and sleep.

Observations from Day 2:
-skin continues looking better/brighter daily
-energy and emotional levels very low
-hard to resist the temptation of other foods
-digestion working awesome

I just finished living Day 3 but haven't had time to write it all down yet. I can say from this side of it, though, that things felt much better on Day 3 and for the first time I could see results on my body. Stay tuned ;)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Banana Island, Day 0: Why Bananas? and Preparations

I wanted to document my experience with Banana Island, which is essentially a cleanse where you eat as many bananas as you want. I know it may sound fruity! I recommend skeptics head over to and check out Freelee's videos. She is a wonderful inspiration for anyone looking into raw foodism, and helped me when I was making the transition to veganism. Also, her videos and research could explain why I would do this much better than I can put into words, but here are the results of some research I've done*:

Raw foods are full of enzymes, and so aid in their own digestion. Food that is cooked or pasteurized does not contain these enzymes and thus requires a much greater effort from our bodies to digest. Digestion typically requires more energy than any other body function. This is why our energy levels plummet after large, cooked meals (aka the "food coma," you KNOW what that feels like). People who eat large meals of raw vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds, however, usually report an increase in energy levels. This is because they have set their bodies free to perform other functions such as repair and rejuvenation. This is the reason I juice almost daily, because I get so much nutrition for very little effort!

Out of all the reasons I could list, I'd like to focus on one: potasssium. Now, most of us are aware by adulthood that potassium is a buzzword for health. Like, it has a lot to do with something important to our health, and bananas have it. Right? That was the extent of my knowledge until I put in some research.
As it turns out, our potassium-to-sodium levels are a critical key to vibrant health. High sodium, low potassium diets are directly linked to all the major health problems in our country (and leading causes of death) like heart disease, cancer, and strokes. Potassium deficiency has the lesser effects of mental confusion, irritability, weakness, as well as heart, nerve, and muscle problems.The reverse, high-potassium and low-sodium intakes, are preventative to these health problems and are key to lowering high blood pressure. It isn't enough just to restrict sodium, the high potassium intake is also essential.
Most people have a potassium to sodium ratio of less than 1:2, which means they ingest twice as much sodium as potassium. However, researchers have recommended at least a 5:1 ratio, and a diet high in fruits and vegetables can achieve a ratio greater than 100:1! This douses your body in the electrolytes that aide in so many of its most important functions. Without enough potassium, cells will burst their sodium-potassium pump, fatigue sets in and muscles grow weak.

There are some of my answers to WHY. On to the HOW of Banana Island!

See more photos on my Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Some things to note:

-Even though my sources are, I myself am not a doctor or a nutritionist. The things I write are my opinion and experience, and the things that work (or don't) for me are not for everyone.

-I am not pressuring myself to stick entirely to bananas and am allowing some other raw fruits and veggies. For one, when I went to stock up in the store most of the bananas were still green, a problem I'll explain later. Also, I do not have a specific goal like detox or an expectation of weight loss. If I really wanted those results I would be following Freelee's advice to the letter, but I am doing this mostly to cleanse my digestive tract, maximize my potassium intake, and for the adventure!

-I prepared for this, and even then, I've already discovered that I didn't prepare enough. I urge anyone considering a cleanse to get their body, mind, and pantry in the right place before embarking on one. More on that, coming up...

That's right! Day Zero. This was the day I really prepared myself for cleansing, although I have been eating mostly raw for weeks and eliminated caffeine from my diet, which was a cleanse in and of itself. I will make a post soon about how I did it and why. The point is, after eating so well for so long, I knew I was ready for a cleanse and that it wouldn't be a shock to my system, or my mind. I think a lot of healthy detox and cleanse ideas have a bad rap because people try them without preparing themselves, and as soon as the pangs begin or the fruit basket is empty, failure creeps in along with disgust for the process.

For the mental aspect, I watched some videos on Youtube, including the skeptics. I wanted to be aware of potential set-backs, but usually watching any kind of vegan videos gets me fired up and these just reaffirmed my purpose. There are some really beautiful raw foodists who put their whole selves into their Youtube accounts, and I love them for spreading that around. Anyway, it helped motivate me and get my mind in gear, and it was reassuring to hear from others that they had eaten other things besides bananas too.

Foodwise, that day I ate... mostly bananas! That's right. If you're going on a cleanse, you should work your cleansing foods into your diet gradually, and I had already been eating a ton of bananas. I won't call it Day 1 only because I enjoyed other fruits for breakfast and made a massive spiralized raw zucchini noodle dish for dinner (pictured above).

I also prepped by buying a cart-full of bananas at the store, but this is where I hit my first potential snag: most of the bananas in the store were not ripe. They were still bright yellow or even had a greenish tinge at the stem. A good, ripe banana shows itself by having brown spots (not bruises, mind you, but those freckles of brown that most people think looks unappetizing, but the fruit under the peel is perfect!) and is easier to digest and much healthier. Really, looking back, I should have bought my bananas days ahead of time and ripened them at home. More on this later.

Check out my next post, Banana Island Days 1-2, coming up!

*I got a lot of information from the wonderful book The Complete Book of Juicing. Aside from great recipes, it is a powerhouse of information on raw food and nutrition, and I highly recommend it. I am in no way compensated for this recommendation, I honestly love this book.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Simple Juices: Part 2

Awhile back I posted some easy 2 ingredient juices (click here to see that post) that pack a punch against cancer and are soooo good in so many other ways. Here, as promised, are some more of my favorite supersimple concoctions I put through my juicer:

Watermelon Lemonade
  • 1/2 watermelon
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled
In my original Instagram post, I added lots of fresh water and some agave to this recipe. plus another half lemon with the peel on through the juicer. Not only is this new recipe easier, I think it is actually quite tastier. Why water this down and add sweetener if it isn't necessary? Only add the extras (and plenty of ice!) if you want a pitcher-full for a party.

Orange & Ginger
  • As many oranges as you can drink (I average 5-6!)
  • 1/2" to 1" peeled fresh ginger
When I juice ginger, I cut into whatever else I'm using, in this case an orange, and wedge the ginger inside to easily juice them together.
This is such a good juice for immunity or fighting an existing sickness. I was experiencing a lot of detox symptoms from eating raw and kicking caffeine, so the orange nourished me while the ginger blasted my tummy troubles and migraines. I felt so much better if I could get a big, simple juice into me before a raw meal!

Watermelon + Mint

  • Tons of fresh watermelon
  • Handful of mint, plus more for soaking/garnish
If you read this post you already know of my serious affection for the combination of watermelon and mint. Life really does not get much tastier than these two together. Enjoy the last of summer watermelon while you can, the weather here in Santa Cruz has been alternating between getting a bit crisp then heating back up again.

Stay tuned for many more juices. Or you can follow my instagram account @veganlifeisgood, which shows tons of creations that I can't keep up with on the blog! Here's a little taste of what I've been up to:

Follow me on Instagram! @veganlifeisgood