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The Conscious Crusader Issue #4 -- Your newsletter for healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable living
July 13, 2011

Welcome to the 4th edition of the Conscious Crusader!



The Conscious Crusader


It's pool season and monsoon season in Las Vegas right now, so you can alternate between getting wet in the pool or getting drenched on your patio! It is rare, but this year's summer rainfalls in our city can easily compete with Florida's finest. Our dry arid landscape certainly loves it, and I don't mind at all, as long as no one gets hurt on the wet streets.


This month we have these great tips, stories, and recipes for you:




Welcome to the Conscious Crusader's July Edition



Time for a summer detox

The hot Las Vegas summer has also prompted me to embark on a project that I had planned for a while: a full body detox.

Food digestion is one of the most energy-consuming functions in our body, and our waste management and digestive organs liver, kidney, and colon work around the clock to keep up with processing our food intake. The only detoxification time we get under normal circumstances is when we fast while sleeping. This means our body never gets to repair old tissue, sick cells, or mal-functioning organs, as it simply never finds the time to do so. Only once digestive activity is either stopped and very slowed down can the body focus on repairing itself - from the inside out.

That's where a detox fast or detox diet comes in. Although a full detox cleanse can require several weeks, I personally settled on a 2-day water fast to kick things off along with a gentle herbal colon cleanse, followed by a 7-10 day raw food diet. The water fast is intense and not for everyone, but it is by far the quickest way to set the toxins free and rid your body of all the useless junk it carries around.

A light raw food diet based solely on fresh, living, unprocessed, uncooked organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds is absolutely delicious during hot summer days, and it does wonders to continue the full body detox process. It is especially easy to eat raw foods after a fast, as your digestive system needs to restart its engine slowly, and the last thing you want is to burden it with a large cooked meal. Plus - if you are looking for weight loss with your detox diet, sticking to light raw foods is also the best way to get there!

And trust me - raw foods do not have to be boring! I am dedicating July to some fantastic raw vegan recipes that will have your taste buds frolic!

Please let me know if you have tried a detox diet or detox fast yourself. I would like to learn more about your experience with it! You can leave your comments here.




Latest Green Living Trends - Demystifying "Green Food"


green food

What do you think of when you hear "green food"? Lettuce or sustainable farming? It should be both at the same time! Let's find out what it means to eat sustainably.

A popular current trend is grass-fed beef and other pasture raised animals. A few acclaimed book authors and media-darlings tell us that taking cows out of factory farms and onto green pastures is saving tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Small family farmers and many people who want to live greener, but don't want to give up eating meat, cheerfully jump on the same bandwagon and hail the "grass-fed solution" as the future of sustainable farming.

So this may come as a surprise: grass-fed and pasture raised animals create even MORE greenhouse gases, not less. The pollution is no longer as concentrated as on factory farms, where the manure lagoons may overflow into the surrounding soil and water supplies, but grass-fed animals create even more waste and methane gases, just spread over a wider area. Find out why.

The comparison of the environmental impact of factory-farmed vs. pasture raised animals is nothing but a desperate attempt to hold on to the lesser of two evils - and to still continue eating animals, which is so immensely ingrained into our cultural behavior. Instead of comparing animal foods vs. plant foods for their environmental impact, we conveniently hang-on to the status quo that food animals are part of our diets, and just do as little as we deem possible.

Here is what we should do right now to have a fleeting chance at halting further global depletion: stop or drastically limit our consumption of all animals foods, which is the mayor reason for global warming and global depletion of our natural resources. Find out how animal foods are responsible for our excessive petrol and water usage, loss of biodiversity, and more.

Dr. Richard Oppenlander said it best when I interviewed him about his book Comfortably Unaware: True green food choices that are sustainable can only be defined in one way: choose the foods that are in the best interest of our planet. Animal foods never fit this bill.

Find out why the food choices we make are killing our planet.

Let's also get another misperception out of the way: pasture raising livestock is NOT a cruelty-free method of raising food animals, and here is why.




Green Events & Vegan Events Calendar – July / August 2011

We compiled the most complete list of Green Events and Vegan Events in the US, so check here and find the best event in your city or near you in July and August 2011.




Featured recommended product of the month: Natural Body and Skin Care from Mountain Rose Herbs


While I am doing a full body detox this month, I do pay close attention not only to the foods I eat, but also to the lotions, soaps, and deodorants that I apply to my skin.

Toxins can come in many different forms, and most commercial skin care products have a long laundry list of chemicals and synthetic byproducts that will absorb into your bloodstream when you apply them to your skin. These toxins are similarly harmful to your health as those that we ingest with unhealthy foods. Lotions and soaps can contain carcinogens, reproductive toxins, mutagens that cause call mutations, and much more.

The goods news is that there are companies that provide excellent gentle, natural, organic, chemical-free and cruelty-free skin care products that never use any synthetic or petrochemical substances: the Natural Body and Skin Care Products from Mountain Rose Herbs have stringent quality standards that are closely guarded by this family-run business.

If you try the Herbal Deodorants, Moisturizing Lotions, or Natural Soaps for a while you will feel the difference that truly natural products can make for your skin and your health!

Natural Body Care

Click on the image above to see
Mountain Rose Herbs' natural skin care products




Health News of the Month: Successful weight loss is possible with carbohydrate-rich foods


Bread carbohydrates


The reason that low carb weight loss diets have gained such popularity is that carbohydrates have been falsely vilified as fat-inducing foods for decades. It is time to set the record straight about this misinformation.

Whether carbohydrates promote weight gain or weight loss depends on the type of carbs you eat! That's why we need to look at the Glycemic Index (GI) of our foods.

The glycemic index (GI) indicates how fast 50 grams of a carbohydrate will raise blood sugar levels within two hours. A low glycemic index level is 55 or less, while a high glycemic index level is 70 or higher.

The bad carbs that increase your blood sugar content can be found in "high glycemic foods". These release their sugars fast and spike your blood sugar level within a short time span. In this category you have: white bread, white rice, white pasta, white sugar, all baked goods, candies, soft drinks, and all refined foods. These foods should generally be avoided, as they just add empty calories and no nutritional value to your diet. If you are trying to lose weight, high-glycemic foods are not your friends, as any excess sugars (glucose) not burned for energy will be stored in your fat cells.

On the other side, good carbs are those that release their sugars slowly, and we call them "low-glycemic foods". Not only do these carbohydrates provide essential fuel for your brain, nervous system, and red blood cells; low-glycemic or complex carbs are also good for steady, healthy weight loss. The slow release of sugars secures a gradual, steady stream of energy for your brain and cells throughout the day, which keeps your satiety level high, slows your digestion, and makes you feel full for a longer time - even after eating fewer calories. It also keeps your blood sugar on an optimal level if you have diabetes.

Your body can use-up the fuel from complex carbs for essential functions and no excess sugar needs to be stored in the fat cells. Low glycemic foods are: whole wheat breads, whole grains, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, cereals, bran, oatmeal, all vegetables, all legumes, and all fruits. Most of these foods are also high in fiber, which further aids with healthy weight loss.

A word about fruits, white potatoes, and carrots


All fruits fall into the category of simple carbohydrates, as they have readily available glucose in form of fructose. And yet, they have a lower glycemic index and are healthy additions to a weight loss diet. The low calorie content in fruits paired with the many vitamins, minerals, and fibers they provide are very important for long-term health and must be part of your healthy diet.

While white potatoes have a high glycemic index and release their sugars fast, they have many nutrients and vitamins that make them an essential food item. The key is to eat potatoes organic with their skin, and to boil them instead of frying or baking. The preparation method has a major impact on the glycemic index: a baked potato can have a GI that is double that of a cooked potato!

Despite of their higher glycemic index, carrots have a medium impact on blood sugar levels. Since they are also low in calories, they are great for healthy weight loss. Cooked carrots have a higher GI than raw carrots. You should however always consume carrots with a small amount of fat, as their beta-carotene is fat-soluble.


It is important to understand that the glycemic index alone does not make a food fit or unfit for a healthy weight loss or diabetes diet. Many other components, such as their overall nutrient content and the preparation method, play a major role in determining if a food is a good fit for your needs. A general rule of thumb is to eat all foods in their rawest, most natural, unrefined, and unprocessed form possible. The more natural your food, the better it will assist with a steady, healthy weight loss that is sustainable for the long-term.




Hot New Recipe on Belsandia.com

Raw No-Bean Hummus


raw no bean hummus

I am in the mood for fresh delicious raw foods this month, so July's recipe is a very tasty raw no-bean hummus. The benefit of raw hummus is that it does not pack as many fat calories as the traditional chick-pea version, and it tastes much fresher too.

Serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • juice from one lime
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Directions:

Process zucchini, olive oil and garlic first in a food processor. Then add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. This is really yummy and much better than most chickpea-based hummus I have tried!




Global Veg Food Specialty –
Thailand: Discover Treasures of the Spice Route


If you love Thai food as much as I do, you may look forward to another tasty curry recipe in this newsletter. But we already have some great
Thai curries on Belsandia.com – and there will be more to come!

Therefore, in the spirit of eating super-fresh, light, and unprocessed vegan food this month, I want to introduce you to these other two favorite Thai dishes: Vegan Papaya Salad and Thai Lettuce Bites

Vegan Papaya Salad


Vegan Thai Papaya Salad


Fresh young papaya spiced with Thai chili, lime juice and peanuts. This salad is simply heavenly as a light lunch or as appetizer to your Thai meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 small green papaya that is still very firm
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts, shelled and halved
  • 1 cup organic soy bean sprouts
  • 1-2 medium organic tomatoes, cut into long thin strips
  • 2 red Thai chilies, chopped (more if you like it very spicy)
  • 2-3 organic spring onions, sliced into 2-inch long sticks
  • 1/2 cup organic fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon raw sugar or agave syrup


Directions:

Peel the papaya, slice it in half, and remove the seeds. Use a large grater to grate the papaya into thin stripes. A potato peeler will also do the job. Place the papaya stripes into a large bowl.

Add the spring onion, tomato, bean sprouts, and most of the basil to the papaya. Mix and put aside.

In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, Thai chili, garlic, and raw sugar/agave syrup.

Add the dressing to the papaya salad and mix well. Add the peanuts and taste the salad. If you like it saltier, add a bit more soy sauce. For a more tangy taste, add more lime juice.

Serve your delicious vegan Thai papaya salad with a few fresh basil leaves immediately. Please note that fresh papaya salad with dressing tends to get soggy when left standing too long, so only prepare what you will use right away. If you need to prepare longer in advance, just keep the papaya salad and the dressing apart and cooled in separate containers until the time of serving.


Thai Lettuce Bites

Thai Lettuce Bites

These fresh, crunchy little snack bites or appetizers are absolute crowd pleasers! You can prepare them longer in advance and then wow your guests with the colorful, healthy, and super delicious arrangement of the lettuce bites with their dips.

Click here for ingredients and recipe




Amazing Animal Story of the Month


Can we learn more about human behavior from dogs than from apes?

Dog pushes shopping cart


Dogs have adapted throughout evolution to cooperate with humans and to follow them. Compared to most other animals, dogs actually like to interact with humans and even seek their attention and approval.

In contrast, great apes like chimpanzees and bonobos, while having bigger brains than dogs, don't care what humans do; or if they approve of the apes' actions. This became apparent in an experiment where two turned-over cups were placed in front of an ape, with one of them holding a tasty treat. A human was seated opposite the ape and pointed to the right cup with the treat. The ape could not care less and repeatedly opened the other cup first. The ape did not observe the human to learn from him where the treat was hidden.

This same experiment was repeated with a dog. Again, two turned-over cups were placed before the dog with one holding a treat. The human sitting across from the dog now pointed to the right cup. The dog watched the human, and then went on to open the correct cup, receiving the treat as reward.

After many repetitions of the same test with different dogs and apes yielded the same results, animal scientists concluded that dogs look at humans for interaction and can learn from them – they can be taught. Apes react in a different way. In nature, great apes learn by copying behavior that they observe in other apes, but they do not learn from teaching, only from imitating.

For sure, apes are extremely intelligent and can understand language, work with tools, and cooperate even with rival apes for a goal; but they don’t pay attention to humans for learning, not even if they were raised in captivity.

While great apes outsmart young children in many experiments, they tend to copy others’ behaviors, but don't learn from their teaching. This may be one of the reasons that the great ape species have not progressed to the human level over time, despite of our DNA similarity of 96-98%.

On the other hand, dogs share less of the human genome, but they can learn from teaching - similar to small children. Also like children, dogs tend to almost slavishly follow a human's moves, even without an apparent goal in sight.

This explains why researchers now believe that we can learn more about human social behavior by observing dogs, rather than great apes. Dogs have undergone domestication by humans for such a long time that they are now serving as a better model for understanding why humans do certain things. Cooperation, understanding verbal and non-verbal communication by humans, attachment to people, and the ability to imitate us makes dogs behave very similar to humans in many social situations.

Fact is that humans and dogs have evolved in close proximity over millennia, and have therefore likely shared and learned certain behavioral features from one another.

It also shows that genetic similarity alone is not a fail-safe evidence for similar behavior of difference species. Other factors play a major role in determining how species have learned from one another and how they developed similar genes over the course of their evolution.


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Thanks so much for reading the Conscious Crusader and join me again next month for a new edition with green living tips, hot new recipes, global veg specialties, animal stories, health tip of the month, and more!

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