Countdown to Coachella 2012: FINAL CHALLENGE!

Well this is it, the final countdown! Dust off your feathers and Wayfarers and roll out the maxi dresses because the first Friday of Coachella is just 4 days away. If you’ve been following my Coachella Challenge Detox Program up to this point you’ve done a crazy amount of work on yourself – like whoa! In week 1 you gave up refined carbs and sugar and started drinking more water, in week 2 you gave up soy and dairy and added in lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, and in week 3 you kicked grains and alcohol and added in delicious healthy fats. Amazeballz!!

Photo credit: Caesar Sebastian

If you’re an extra diligent health warrior, you may have even started a gratitude journal, tried Pop Physique, or learned about some natural ways to avoid hangovers and sunburns. So what can possibly be left?? How the heck can you make yourself even better?? What can you possibly do in 4 measly days?? I’m here to tell you… lots! Here’s what you can cram into the time you have left, because there’s always room for improvement!

1. Get Raw!

Raw foods aren’t just for the bunnies! Many foods in their natural state can provide us with a boatload of nutrients in the most delicious and authentic way possible. Colorful vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, and even some animal proteins all provide mega benefits from being eaten raw, like powerful punches of enzymes and vitamins, and a vibrant life force that leaves little to be desired.

TV Dinner

Chew on this… if you plant a raw walnut in the soil, you could potentially grow a walnut tree, but if you did the same with a roasted walnut you’d be waiting an awfully long time for anything to sprout. When you heat nuts/seeds/fruits/veg above an internal temperature of 118 degrees you destroy the enzymes, antioxidants and vitamins that each item needs in order to reproduce; enzymes, antioxidants, and vitamins that are also hugely beneficial to our body’s ability to digest and fight free radicals – the bad guys in our bodies caused by stress, pollution, ciggs, fried foods and charred meats to name a few.

Sadly, much of our food is grown in nutrient-depleted soils, gets bathed in an astonishing array of pesticides, undergoes irradiation and pasteurization, travels across country (and countries), and sits in the grocery store for days on end before it finally makes it to our fridge (where it will probably sit for another 3 days). Then, on the rare occasion that we’re actually cooking for ourselves, we throw it in the microwave to heat it up for dinner (just to make sure it’s good and dead). I know this isn’t the way our grandmamas ate, and it’s not the way we should be eating either.

colorful salad

A powerful way to fight these dietary injustices is to eat at least 50% of your daily food raw, and if you can get it local, even better! Make friends with your neighborhood farm market, get to know what’s in season and always experiment (it was fun in college, it’s even better now). For the purpose of this detox try to eat at least 75% of your food raw for the next 4+ days (there’ll be a raw foods available at Coachella FYI); tap into the life force and get the raw-glow for the desert!

2. Get Super-Charged

You see them at the grocery store and probably overhear people talking about them at yoga, heck they’ve even been prominently featured in a spoof or two. Exotic words like Goji, Maca, Chia, and Cacao… all superfoods. But what is a superfood? One of my favorite authorities on raw foods, nutrition, and superfoods is the great David “Avocado” Wolfe, who describes superfoods as an ancient collection of edible, incredibly nutritious plants, each containing a dozen or more unique properties that are unable to be entirely classified as a food or a medicine. Superfoods are far more potent and nutrient dense than the usual foods we eat, making them a great way to deliciously supplement our daily diets. And since Superfoods are most potent in their raw form, they’re a perfect match for your new more-raw diet!

Here are 9 of the top Superfoods that David Wolfe thinks you should be eating NOW:

goji maca cacao spirulina

Goji, Maca, Cacao, Spirulina

1. Cacao (Raw Chocolate) — The seed of a fruit of an Amazonian tree, cacao is the highest antioxidant food on the planet, the #1 source of magnesium, iron, chromium and is also extremely high in PEA, theobromine (cardiovascular support), and anandamide (“bliss chemical”). Raw Chocolate balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, is a natural aphrodisiac, elevates your mood and energy.

2. Goji Berries (Wolfberries) – Used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 5,000 years, goji berries are regarded as a longevity, strength-building, and potency food of the highest order. This superfood contains 18 kinds of amino acids, all 8 essential amino acids, up to 21 trace minerals, high amounts of antioxidants, iron, polysaccharides, B & E vitamins, and many other nutrients.

3. Maca — A staple in the Peruvian Andes for thousands of years, this adaptogenic superfood increases energy, endurance, strength, and libido. Dried maca powder contains more than 10% protein, nearly 20 amino acids, and 7 essential amino acids. As a root crop, maca contains five times more protein than a potato and four times more fiber.

4. Hemp Products eaten their RAW form — Packed with 33 % pure digestible protein, rich in iron, amino acids, and vitamin E as well as omega-3’s and GLA. A perfect food.

5. Spirulina and Blue-Green Algae — The world’s highest source of complete protein (65%), spirulina provides a vast array of minerals, trace elements, phytonutrients and enzymes. Blue-green algae is a wild-grown superfood with a 60% protein percentage, but is equally or exceedingly higher in other components. Both are vital superfoods.

6. Bee Products (honey, pollen, and propolis) — Bee pollen is the most complete food found in nature containing vitamin B-9 and all 21 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Honey, in its organic/wild, raw, unfiltered states is rich in minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, enzymes, and one of the highest vibration foods on the planet. **note: for the purposes of this detox, limit the amount of honey used to NO MORE than 2-3 tablespoons per day.

7. Camu Berry — Highest Vitamin C source on planet. Great for rebuilding tissue, purifying blood, and enhancing immunity, and energy.

8. Sea Vegetables (seaweeds including: kelp, dulse, nori, hijiki, bladderwrack, chlorella, etc) — Rich in life-giving nutrients drawn in from the ocean and sun, sea vegetables help remove heavy metals, detoxify the body, provide numerous trace minerals, regulate cholesterol, and decrease the risk of cancer. Seaweeds benefit the entire body, and are especially excellent for the thyroid (high iodine), immune system, adrenals, and hormone function.

9. Medicinal Mushrooms (Reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, lion’s mane, etc.) – High in polysaccharides and super immune enhancing components, medicinal mushrooms are one of the most intelligent adaptogenic herb/superfoods on the planet! They have also been proven effective in healing cancer and a variety of other ailments.

3. Get Some Beauty Rest!

Beauty Sleep Marilyn Monroe

For years my steadfast motto was, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I said it with pride, astonishing those who came in contact with me by the sheer amount of work and play I could cram into a 24hr period, fueled on caffeine of course. I considered sleeping a great disruption to my day and came to resent my need for it. I clearly remember a conversation I had once with a good girlfriend of mine in my early 20’s, she being a few years older than me was (and still is) a great inspiration, and one of the most breathtakingly gorgeous women I’d ever seen (she’s that friend). One day as we sat in her simply but elegantly appointed vintage studio apartment in Los Feliz I asked her for some beauty advice, she said, “drink a shitload of water and ALWAYS get enough sleep.” Years later I’m now in my 30’s and those words echo in my mind; often I find myself giving the exact same advice to my younger overworked/overplayed friends.

It really is true, one of the best things you can do for your body and mind is to get some sleep – 7 to 9 hours a night to be exact. This is when our bodies pull up their sleeves and get down and dirty doing repairs and flushing the system; detoxification, weight loss, digestion, and blood sugar balancing all occur while we count sheep. When we lose sleep, or experience insomnia, we elevate the stress hormone cortisol – setting off a chain reaction of health problems such as obesity, dismal mental performance and weak immune systems. In fact a study in 2005 (conducted over the course of 10 years and comprised of data collected from over 10,000 people) showed that people between the ages of 32 and 49 who slept 4 hours or less a night were 73% more likely to be obese than those who reported 7-9 hours a night.

Sleeping Beauty

Psst – some great tips from Dr. Andrew Weil that should have you sawing logs with ease

And then there’s the issues we’re really concerned about… wrinkles and bags (and I’m not talking about the newest Alexander Wang Rocco bag). Lack of sleep impairs skin-cell growth and repair once again jacking up our cortisol levels, causing oxidation and inflammation and in turn exacerbating those nasty wrinkles and dark under eye bags and circles, and those bags arent’ fashionable in any circles. So this week make sure to aim for 7-9 hours a night of the good stuff, and when you’re at the festival please attempt to get some shut-eye, you’re going to need it.

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And now, some tips from the well rested, nutritionally vibrant pros…

But isn’t it time-consuming to eat raw?

raw tacos

Whip up some raw tacos!

You don’t need a dehydrator and a hemi-powered blender to enjoy raw foods. Start by having big vibrant salads for lunch and sexy slaws with dinner, always keep a crudités platter with hummus, cashew “cheese,” or a raw dip in the fridge, find a favorite raw nut butter to smear on apples, and shop the bulk section at your local health food store to create a signature trail mix. For some extra inspiration check out Ani Phyo, a raw foods chef and an incredible eco-stylist, her website has some great recipes and tips that even the biggest novice can master.

Or for an occasional meal or treat, look around your city to see if there are any raw cafes and check to see if your health food store has a prepared raw foods section. If you haven’t eaten raw before you’ll be amazed at how satisfying it can be; your body knows exactly what to do with raw foods and I find the food so nutrient-dense that I need way less of it to feel full. Just try to steer clear of the big slices of raw cheesecake… I know they beckon to you with all their creamy goodness, but these are usually overly sweetened with agave and can kick you right back into a sugar-hole.

Another simple way to get into raw foods is by juicing, which provides a seriously invigorating way to start the day. Just make sure to limit the amount sweet fruits and root vegetables. The point is to detox, not to satisfy your sweet tooth, so stick to a base of vegetables like cucumber, celery and zucchini then layer in a couple sweeter items like apples, carrots and beets. Don’t forget to throw in greens like romaine, kale, spinach, and parsley, and finish the concoction with accent flavors like lemon, lime, ginger, and red or yellow pepper. You might even try a dash or two of cayenne pepper for a real metabolism booster, yeowch!

How the f*#&k do I use Superfoods!?

blueberry smoothie

A great way to make use of your newly found Superfood knowledge is by playing around with smoothies. If you’re interested in learning more about all this I recommend David Wolfe’s new Superfoods Book enough, he’s the bee’s knees.

Here’s a general formula to create your very own rocket fuel:

1 cup coconut water/tea/nutmilk

3-4 different superfoods (pay close attention to the serving size and do not vary, this shit is no joke!)

1 tablespoon raw honey OR 1 medjool date (I try to keep a few in the fridge, soaked in water to make them waaaayyyy more blendable)

1 tablespoon raw nut butter of choice

½-1 cup of organic frozen berries (depends on how thick you like your smoothie)

A Superfood smoothie makes for a GREAT breakfast or an awesome mid day pick-up, just make sure that you eat it unaccompanied, not as a part of a meal- the smoothie is the meal!

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Handy Dandy Recipes

chia oatmeal

 Cha Cha Cha Chia Oatmeal

 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk, or rich raw nut milk (recipe to follow)

1/3 cup chia seeds

1 Tablespoon raw honey

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch sea salt

Suggestions for topping:

1/2 cup nut milk (to thin to desired consistency)

Diced apple, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, shredded coconut

 Procedure

Place nutmilk of choice into a vitamix blender and blend on the highest speed until warm. This is the best way to ensure that you do not cook the nutmilk if you are committed to an all-raw diet.

 If you do not have a vitamix, gently warm the nutmilk in a double boiler over low heat. If you are not committed to a raw diet, you may warm in a saucepan on low.

 In a bowl, place the chia seeds, agave, cinnamon and sea salt. Pour the warm (not hot) nut milk over the chia seeds and stir well to combine. Continue stirring until the chia seeds absorb the liquid and an oatmeal-like consistency is achieved, about 3-4 minutes.

 Serve with the toppings of your choice and enjoy in good health!

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 *Rich raw nut milk*

 1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight in purified water)

1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts (soaked overnight in purified water)

3 cups purified water (or 1 1/2 cups fresh coconut water and 1 1/2 cups purified water)

2 dates, soaked in warm water for 20 mins

1 Tablespoon virgin coconut oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

 Procedure

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until totally smooth. Strain through a fine mash sieve and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Kale Salad

Raw Kale Caesar

1 bunch kale, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces

¼ cup raw cashews, soaked at least 1 hour in purified water

1/8 cup raw pine nuts, soaked at least 1 hour in purified water

juice of 1 lemon

2 Tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 medium clove of garlic

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp kelp granules (can be purchased at most health food stores)

¼ cup water, you may need slightly more to help adjust thickness of dressing

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes

Thoroughly pat dry the washed kale and place into a large bowl.

In a blender, combine the cashews, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, sea salt, kelp granules, water, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add ¼ cup of the dressing to the kale and massage well using both hands, just go ahead and get right in there. Add more dressing as desired and toss with nutritional yeast. Set aside for 15-20 minutes to let the kale soften and the flavors develop (if you can wait that long).

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So that’s it gang! You now have some seriously powerful tools under your skinny belts that should be easy to incorporate into your daily lives to Coachella and beyond. I know it seems like we covered a ton of info in 4 short weeks, but all you really need to do is use your intuition and see what works. We’re all biodynamic individuals with different needs to honor, so listen to your body and feed it what’s best for YOU!


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