Control Your Mind, Control a Gun

As I write this, I can’t seem to shake the iconic image from my head of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 “Dawn of Man” Hominid, first discovering the idea of a weapon. Slowly he grasps a large bone of a decayed Tapir and begins dragging it back and forth on the ground until he eventually smashes the entire skeleton with it in a celebratory display. Whether this is how the discovery of the handheld weapon actually occurred is moot; in any case, this striking visual of cinematic history describes a true turning point for our own humanity as it exists today. It not only signifies our first means of defense and survival against other species…but shortly thereafter, as a device used against our own species as well.

Our primitive ancestors were mostly gatherers of herbs, plants, fruits and vegetation. But in some climates where sunlight, temperature or precipitation were not ideal, we needed to craft weapons to hunt animals for food and clothing. This was a requirement to exist. But just beyond that, something else clicked in our brains. We became aware of “competition”; the other groups, tribes and families whom also required these same resources. Instead of finding a way to communicate, work together and share; we turned our hunting tools upon them. We began killing out of a growing fear in our minds that “they” would take it all for themselves. Certainly, our intelligence was not developed enough to seek an alternate choice at the time; we were simply utilizing our newfound technology to solve an additional problem. Nonetheless, this kink in evolution led our species down a very dark path and to this very day we still suffer the consequences of this choice. This was the beginning of selfishness.

Most would attempt to justify this killing as a greater means to an end. But the ultimate decision to kill is based upon his own personal experience of hunger, frustration and rage; not that of the welfare of his family or tribe. To wield a weapon against another is a selfish action; we make that final choice on our own. Before attacking, one must reconcile a sea of outer influences and conflicting emotions with our own instinct to exist harmoniously. When we’ve accumulated too much of this outside “noise”, we cease to be in control our own mind. We intend to use the weapon because we’ve become convinced that situations exist which warrant it. The use of such a tool closes the creative mind off from reality and keeps us from solving problems rationally or with compassion. This has become part and parcel with the human condition, as our ever-growing technology only makes way for a more terrifying reality.

Today, the firearm is the weapon of choice. According to research pulled from ATF data, the U.S. is home to 40 million more firearms than it’s entire human population. The largest justification for these weapons continues to be “defense”, which can be easily argued based on some surprising statistics alone. From a private citizen standpoint, a study was conducted by the Violence Policy Center where they state that in 2012, there were 259 justifiable (defense) firearm homicides out of the 29,556 firearm deaths in the U.S. that year. So, basically that is only 1 killing in defense for every 32 murders, suicides or accidental deaths. And from a military-industrial complex perspective, the U.S. has one of the largest armed forces in the world (second to only China); kicking ass to the tune of $598.5 billion or 54% of ALL federal discretionary spending. That’s a lot of bang for our buck but when is the last time we ever used these armies or weapons in an actual position of “defense”? Hmmm…I hear crickets.

After all is said and done, we (as a species) never once said, “this is enough, we’re smarter than this”. To the contrary, we are no further along than the ape swinging the bone and crushing everything around it. We are still so focused on validating our self-importance, that everything outside of our circle has become an opponent. One can only ponder how different this planet might be today, if the first humans worked together with one another. If they created communities where each individual had a real purpose in truly helping to enrich the lives of the many, as opposed to destroying them. With that mindset we could have been learning from our mistakes along the way and simply correcting them as we go. Instead, we chose to fight each other. We dragged the mental baggage of a lost age into a new one and built barriers between us all; separating each other by species, country, state, race, belief and class. We’ve huddled into teams and created strategies to defeat the other. We’ve accumulated half-truths, hearsay and propaganda spanning millions of years and continue to use it as fuel against “outsiders” both foreign and domestic. Our so-called “intelligence” is utilized only in an effort to reign atop an imaginary chain we’ve constructed from whole cloth. And those who believe they already sit upon it, laugh as they watch us kill each other.

So long as there is air to breathe, weapons will continue to saturate our very existence…there is no controlling that now. Nor is there control over those who wield such instruments. The brain is a weapon; poisoned and filled with fear. We need to diffuse the conflict in our own heads and just start there. Even if we may think we’re already on the right path; how can we expand further? Can we apply our compassion to the smallest of creatures or even the worst of people? We ALL have the power to un-do our own conditioning and guide others to do the same. If we can finally be free of the desire to be better and stronger, we will no longer find the need for a weapon.

Gun control is when an individual takes back control of their own mind. Evolve.

The Bitter Blend II – A Tart Return (Grapefruit, Pomegranate & Lime Smoothie)

Have you ever heard of a “Smoothie Sequel”? Well, this may be a first…or a second? I’m already confused! In any case, hopefully you remember my original Bitter Blend Smoothie from last year; it was a real zinger! And we already know that Grapefruit is on top of his game as a tenacious free-radical fighter, but I’m here to tell you that “sour” is back with a vengeance and this time he brought a couple of new pals with him! Say hello to Pomegranate; aka the “King of Antioxidant Fruits”, one of the fiercest of cancer opponents and a true defender of the immune system. Oh yeah, and that other little green sidekick? His name is Lime. Don’t ever underestimate his potential to help destroy obesity, strengthen skin and decimate high blood sugar levels. Together, this is one gutsy team who will get the job done.

Coming soon to a blender near you…yup, just like that one sitting on your kitchen counter 😉

Ingredients

1 Cup Almond Milk
1 serving Vega One Nutritional Shake (Coconut Almond or French Vanilla)
1 Frozen Banana
1 Grapefruit (w/ pith)
Seeds of 1 fresh Pomegranate
Juice of 1 fresh Lime
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Preparation

1. Add all ingredients into blender jar.

2. Blend on high setting until smooth.

3. Pour into a large, tall glass. Enjoy!

VEGA SPORT MOCHA APPLE PIE (Post Workout Smoothie)

Whether you’re making extreme gains, defeating triathlons or finishing up an intense Yoga session; chances are you’ve strained your muscles, depleted your energy or have lost some hydration. Whatever the case may be, you can put your body through some really extreme stuff while “fueling your better”. And armed with the proper nutrition and recovery routine, you can afford to go even a little harder next time (easy for me to say, right?).

Heres where Vega Sport Performance Protein comes in. This protein powder is packed with BCAA’s and Glutamine to help repair and build damaged muscle tissue after a tough workout. It’s smooth, creamy, tastes great and is nothing if not a life-saver for me after my weekly cycling adventures. Once I finally get off my bike it’s spaghetti-legs for hours! So, to get my recovery game going I just simply mix a serving into my favorite beverage (cough.cough.THIS SMOOTHIE!) 45 minutes after my workout, kick back and let Vega Sport do the rest.

In addition, I combined the Vega Sport with some other really thoughtful ingredients that will get you back on the saddle in no time. Coconut Water (for Hydration/Electrolytes), Banana and Apple (for Potassium), Quinoa (for Protein and Iron) and Ginger (for Inflammation). Now I’d say this smoothie is shaping up to be a great part of any workout recovery routine. Just don’t discount the pie spices…they aren’t only there to do the happy-dance on your taste buds; they also contain a host of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which aid in digestion, reduce inflammation and help manage your blood sugar.

How could something taste this good and still be good for you? This is how…

8oz Coconut Water
1 Banana
1 Gala Apple (skin on)
1″ Ginger Root (peeled)
1/4 Cup Quinoa Flakes
1 Serving Vega Sport Performance Protein (Mocha)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ground Clove

Blend all ingredients on high speed until smooth. If necessary, adjust texture using ice or water and blend again. Drink it down and keep it up!

Peach Pie Smoothie w/ Aquafaba Lemon Meringue

Ok, so I cheated a little 😉 I normally don’t add any sugars to my smoothies except for the occasional tablespoon of Pure Maple Syrup. Well this was the exception. I had these luscious Peaches just waiting to be used for something creative and then it hit me…Peach Pie Smoothie! Peaches have a healthy dose of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that help fight both obesity and inflammation. The fuzzy fruit packs a vitamin C boost, helps lower cholesterol and is heart healthy. I blended this beautiful fruit with other super healthy ingredients such as Banana, Whole Grain Oats and Vega One French Vanilla Protein; not just because they are all so good for you but because they also compliment the Peaches and really drive home the “pie” flavor.

As I was gathering all the ingredients for the smoothie, I kept thinking “Peaches and Cream”…I couldn’t seem to shake the thought of it. I thought of going for the usual Coconut Cream that you get from the Coconut Milk can after refrigerating overnight but I didn’t have any in the fridge. I also wanted something lighter and fluffier…almost like a meringue. The problem is that meringue is basically just egg white and that doesn’t mesh with a die hard vegan! For kicks, I looked up vegan meringue and I kept seeing this weird word “Aquafaba“. When I finally read what it was, I was almost shocked. It’s the water which is packed into a can of Chick Peas. Apparently, it’s lately been becoming all the rage in the vegan community as an egg substitute which can be mainly used as a thickening agent in recipes which call for eggs. The water can be used from other canned legumes but Chick Peas are really the best choice (flavor and texture).

The water (brine) in the can becomes a thick, emulsion as it sits with the Chick Peas…almost like an egg white consistency. On it’s own, the flavor is fairly neutral. It’s such a new idea, the science community hasn’t even done a nutrition profile on it yet. Although, the developers of this natural egg replacer are currently raising money to do one. I’m assuming that the water must absorb many of the properties of the Chick Peas themselves; which include Protein, Fiber, Iron, Calcium, Complex Carbohydrates (the good kind) plus a host of vitamins as well.

All the recipes I had read for the meringue were pretty much the same; except most of them require being baked at a low heat for like 2 hours or more for a really stiff setting. I wanted something quick, so mine still stands up but it’s more of a whipped cream texture. As you’ll see it’s just 4 elements…the Chick Pea Water, Organic Powdered Sugar, Vanilla Extract and Lemon Extract. When all of that is whipped with a high speed whisk for about 15 minutes, you get a wonderfully light, sweet garnish to top off your smoothie. You can even stir some into the smoothie itself for a creamier texture. This is definitely one of my favorites of the summer so far, I hope you try it and enjoy. Keep it up!

For the Smoothie:
8 oz Cashew Milk
1 Frozen Banana
1 Large Fresh Peach (skin on, stone removed)
1/4 Cup Raw Whole Grain Oats
1 serving Vega One French Vanilla Protein
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 Tbsp Chia Seed

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high setting until smooth. Add some ice or more liquid to adjust preferred texture.

For the Meringue:
15 oz Aquafaba/Water from one can of Organic Chick Peas (Non-BPA lined can)
1 Cup Organic Powdered Pure Sugar Cane
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Lemon Extract

Preheat oven on Broil setting (optional – you can simply eat the raw Aquafaba whip…I just enjoyed the light toasted look and flavor).

Place ingredients in the bowl of a high speed mixer w/ Whisk attachment (or hand mixer) and whip ingredients on high for about 15 minutes until mixture is light, fluffy and peaks begin to form (at this point you can put a dollop on your smoothie OR continue to get the toasty look).

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and put small 1/4 cup size dollops of the mixture until sheet is filled (leaving plenty of breathing room around each). Place in oven on top rack and allow meringue to lightly toast/brown. Do not overheat…you pretty much have to sit and watch it because it will brown fairly fast (within minutes). When done, remove from oven and scoop one of the dollops off the sheet and place on top of your smoothie.

Refrigerate all remaining cream and use again as a meringue or as a simple whipped topping.

BLUEBERRY ORANGE QUINOA SMOOTHIE

For the last 3 days I’ve been suffering from a pinched nerve which has caused muscle inflammation and spasms in my neck. This was all due to sleeping the wrong way (on my stomach with head turned 90 degrees). On my quest to heal and rebuild these damaged muscles I’ve been resting, stretching, hydrating, taking Turmeric, Ginger and icing. Admittedly, I also leaned a bit on the help of a prescription muscle relaxer to help take the edge off (man has the pain been fierce). But to also help kickstart my recovery I’ve been drinking smoothies with Vega Sport recovery powder as it is packed with Glutamine, BCAAs and of course protein. Together, these are the building blocks for our muscles and are paramount in repairing and building new muscle tissue.

To add in some extra powerful ingredients I chose: Blueberries which are high in antioxidants and known to help aid in the recovery of damaged muscle tissue. Orange which helps boost the immune system and reduces inflammation. And let’s not forget Quinoa which packs a plant based punch of protein to help build new muscle.

So, whether you’ve injured yourself or just overdid your workout a bit, don’t underestimate the power of plant based nutrition. The right combination will get you back in the game in no time. Keep it up!

8 oz Cashew Milk (or other nut milk)
1 Frozen Banana
1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1 Orange
1/3 Cup Quinoa Flakes
1 serving Vega Sport (Vanilla)
1 Tbsp Acai Powder
2 Tbsp Flax Meal
2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds

Blend all ingredients on high until smooth. Drink it. Love it.

Are You Too Acidic?

The answer is: probably not…unless, of course, you are currently experiencing severe symptoms, in a coma or already dead. Even if one subscribes to the typical Standard American Diet (S.A.D.), our pH stays steady between 7 and 7.35. If this balance shifts by even one whole number, in either direction, it’s game over. Our pH level does not shift based on the food we eat. If it did, many of us would not be alive to discuss the issue. But before you label me a naysayer and smash your screen in frustration, please read on.

The consensus in the alternative health community is that a diet rich in alkaline foods increases the blood pH, making us more alkaline; whereas a diet rich in acidic foods will lower the pH, making us more acidic. Interestingly enough, this isn’t exactly what happens in the body and conventional doctors are having a field day with this information. In an effort to debunk us “crazy new-agers”, some doctors are aggressively making the argument that food has no immediate effect on blood pH since our body naturally regulates it. While the statement is scientifically true, it is also misleading and void of any further thought passed “right now”. In fact, the issue is not as “black or white” as either side makes it out to be. For instance, if I drink an alkaline rich green juice am I raising my blood pH? Nope. If I eat an acid rich Bagel with Cream Cheese am I lowering my blood pH? Nope. Does this mean the doctors are right? Sure, if you approach the subject from the same immediate, matter of fact perspective. What these doctors are failing to elaborate upon are the very truths that may eventually kill us.

When food is broken down and metabolized in our body it releases either an “acidic” or “alkaline” base into the blood. The trick is that this process does not directly affect the blood pH levels whatsoever; what actually occurs is that the pH levels in the food itself have an effect on the internal buffers that regulate the blood pH. Once these buffers are damaged, they cease to maintain proper pH levels, hence, opening the floodgates for these levels to change. This is the missing explanation that needs to be understood on both sides of the topic. And drum roll…it just so happens that “acidic” foods have been proven to damage our organs while “alkalizing” foods maintain, nourish and clean our inner systems. That said, the true nature of this debate is not about food increasing or decreasing blood pH; it’s about preventing the breakdown of the systems that already regulate it. The “crazy new-agers” still come out on top. Yay for independent research!

Conventional doctors focus only on what is happening to you “right now”, so they can make a quick assessment and send you on your way home or to the pharmacy. Our bodies are so very complex, most things that can go wrong with our health will happen over an extended period of time. Disease may take a long while to present itself to the body after many years of persistence against it’s natural functions to fight it. That said, unless you are currently experiencing a medical issue or emergency; you will most likely get a stamp of approval and a pat on the back on the way out of your annual checkup, regardless of what illness may be slowly transforming inside of your body. Armed with absolutely no guidance on what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your diet, what is there to worry about?

Unfortunately, our whole way of life has become greatly “acidic”; not only through food and drugs but also from the toxicity caused by pollutants, body/house care products, stress, anxiety and depression. So take a step back and really analyze what you’re choosing to use and consume everyday (both mind and body). Begin to make better choices that will replace the damaging ones and before you know it, you’ll begin lifting the weight of sickness from your very being. Why not start now with this fantastic green juice?

Super Alkaline Green Juice w/ Spirulina

5 large leaves Kale

1 Cup packed Red Dandelion Greens

1 Cup packed Parsley

3-4 Celery Stalks (w/ leaves)

1 Cucumber

2 Cups Watermelon Rind (or Watermelon)

1 stalk Fennel

1/2 Green Pepper

1 Green Apple

1/2 Lemon (w/ Rind)

1 1/2″ Ginger

2 tsp Spirulina (whisked into juice afterward)

Prep all ingredients to extract in your juicer (except for the Spirulina). Juice all ingredients. Stir in Spiralina. Makes 2 12oz servings.

References:

The Truth About Alkalizing Your Blood

http://drbenkim.com/ph-body-blood-foods-acid-alkaline.htm

Detailed Listing of Acid/Alkaline Forming Foods

http://www.rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm

Grapes n’ Greens Smoothie

Whoulda’ thunk that Grapefruit, Red Grapes and fresh Organic Greens could taste so good together? Blended with all the other ingredients I chose, it seems to be the perfect balance of sweet, tangy and nutty. And as far as nutrition goes, today’s concoction is no lightweight. In fact, this heart healthy smoothie is literally packed with Potassium, Protein, Antioxidants, Phytonutrients, Polyphenols, Flavonoids; I mean, this list goes on and on.

But what does all of this mean for you? It means you are helping your body to fight the very diseases that are killing the majority of our nation. Obesity, Diabetes, Cancer, Coronary Heart Disease…you name it, these illnesses are not “random acts of god” nor can they be simply shrugged off as “genetic”. You can stop the cycle by simply changing your diet. We’re going to prevent these epidemics by starting with ourselves first; by eating whole, plant based foods.

Drink it, don’t overthink it.

8 oz Almond Milk
2 large handfuls of Mixed Baby Greens (I used Kale, Spinach and Chard)
1 Banana
1/2 Cup Red Seedless Grapes
1/2 Grapefruit (no rind but keep pith)
1/4 Quinoa Flakes
2 Turkish Figs
1 serving Vega One Protein (I used Coconut Almond)
1 Tbsp Maca Powder
1 Tbsp Chia Seed
5 Ice Cubes

As always, the best way to break down the greens is to blend them first with the liquid base. This will allow the blades to really work the leaves into the liquid without leaving a gritty texture. Once you’ve done that, you can add everything else in there and blend it again on the high setting until it’s super smooth. Enjoy!