Thursday, March 11, 2010

Put a little Spring in your diet

With Spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to revamp your diet. If you eat seasonally, you'll be happy to know that strawberries may start showing up at your local farmers market as early as April or May (at least they do around here). This is good to know, if you are thinking about whipping up today's snack in a jar (although frozen berries can be substituted in the meantime).

If you want to know the specifics, you need to also check out the following Q&A (that's where you'll find the recipe). I had the pleasure of having my questions answered by Joanna Steven and Tonya Kay, who co-wrote the
“Raw Analysis Autumn’s Diet E-Book” and its followup, “Raw Analysis II: Spring Athlete Diet.”

The best part is that they are giving me the opportunity to GIVEAWAY a copy of their Spring e-book to one of my lucky readers. TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY, comment at the end of this post answering the following question: "Besides Joanna and Tonya, who else loves this chia pudding recipe, according to Joanna?"

FOR AN ADDITIONAL ENTRY, mention this giveaway on your site, linking back to this post (don't forget to leave a separate comment saying that you've done this).

TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING, head over to Joanna's blog and leave a comment on her chia post (comment again here to complete the third entry).

THE CONTEST ENDS ONE WEEK FROM TODAY (Thursday, March 18, 2010), so I can draw the winner the following day (Friday, March 19, 2010, which just happens to be the day before Spring officially starts). Good luck! Here's the interview:

Q: Joanna, I’ve heard that you discovered the raw diet in 2003 after reading an interview by Tonya Kay on What about this interview made you decide to dig deeper for more information? How did you and Tonya Kay end up collaborating on two e-books, “Raw Analysis Autumn’s Diet E-Book” and its followup, “Raw Analysis II: Spring Athlete Diet?”

Joanna Steven: "At the time, I used to love to lift weights and was very much into developing a very toned, defined body (I especially wanted strong abs). I had been vegetarian for a while, and wanted to know more about the diet of other plant-based athletes.

"I was browsing through's interviews when I saw Tonya Kay's, and frankly, what first drew me in was not her interview, but her picture! If you take a look at it, you'll immediately notice her flat, very well toned stomach. I realize now that it was the first time I ever thought about changing my diet based on somebody's appearance.

"The vegetarian diet was all about the animals, and suddenly with the raw diet, it was all about me, something that I think is very important. After all, we're animals too! What she said in the interview was enough to convince me to give the raw diet a try; on raw foods, Tonya Kay healed her acne, successfully stopped taking medications for manic depression, felt joyous, and cut in half the time it took her to recover after training.

"When we co-authored the Autumn eBook, I wasn't raw yet. I wasn't sure what to do, what to eat, and while I wanted to be healthier, I was never the type of person to dive in first and figure out what to do next. I couldn't find anything online either, because no one had ever analyzed their diet and published the results. I thought I probably was not the only one with these questions, and contacted Tonya Kay. She was very enthusiastic about my idea, and started writing down every single thing she ate for me to analyze. Since she eats seasonally, it just made sense to make an eBook for each season."

Q: In these books, Tonya Kay’s diet is analyzed, checking to see if she’s getting adequate calcium, B12 and, of course answering the dreaded, “where do you get your protein?” question. What were your findings. Tonya, were you surprised with any of the information? Joanna, did you apply any of these answers to your own diet? Did you study yours as well?

Joanna Steven: "Tonya Kay's diet analysis was a huge help to me. She introduced me to things I had never heard of, like flax crackers, raw and organic nut butters, chia seeds, hemp products etc. (I was on a very mainstream vegetarian diet.) I progressively applied everything to my diet, instead of trying everything all at once, because I didn't start out with a Vita-Mix and Excalibur dehydrator, and I don't want others to think you absolutely need those items to be successfully raw.

"Actually, most of Tonya Kay's recipes do not call for blenders or dehydrators, except for the flax crackers of course, and even then she uses a solar powered dehydrator. She leads a very “green” lifestyle, uses a human powdered blender rather than the powerful Vitamix, and she can still be all raw, all healthy, all energetic.

"But to answer your other question, no I did not analyze my diet. I knew it was not optimal, since Tonya Kay was obviously a lot healthier than me at the time. Now, instead of analyzing my monthly food consumption (it's very time consuming) I just analyze the foods I eat regularly, like green juices, green smoothies, chia puddings, etc. It's important to eventually let go of numbers and learn to listen to our body's signs instead."

Tonya Kay: "Joanna Steven and I co-authored this eBook as an athletic follow up to the standard "Raw Nutritional Analysis: Autumn's Diet," and let's just say protein wasn't the only nutrient this raw foodist was wondering about.

"My daily calcium intake averaged around a recommended daily allowance of 86%. All that 86% was comprised of was kale salads, wheat grass shots, sea weeds and algae.

"Then, I did a little talk down in Dallas, TX at Loving Food's Raw Potluck. Some wonderful chef placed upon the table Raw Tapioca Pudding. At least that's what I call it. I started making the pudding during my writing of this eBook, where I write down every gram of food I eat, and guess what I found: my recommended daily allowance of calcium skyrocketed from 86% to 106% by adding only 2 or 3 Tbsp. of chia seeds, the essential ingredient in Raw Tapioca Pudding! I eat them several times/week now, in addition to doing consistent weight-bearing physical play - my bones are definitely doing what bones do to be strong, that's for sure!

"And most comically important, the next time someone asks me if I get enough protein, I can arm myself with a swift “I get an average of 103% RDA of protein from kale, seaweed, sprouts and avocados without even trying on this raw vegan diet.” And I feel light and energetic all the while.

"The only official supplement I do take is B12. I have a lot of respect for the work and writings of Dr. Gabriel Cousens and after reading an article he wrote on "The Elusive B12," I was convinced. Dr. Gabriel Cousens is a doctor and raw foodist who runs a healing center called the Tree of Life on the Mexico/Arizona boarder. I respect him for his freedom from dogma and idealism. His conclusions are based in results. He has 100% success rate healing blood sugar disorders and considerable success with depression as well."

Q: Without giving away too much from the books, could both of you please tell us a little about your individual diet and workout plans, as I see, exercise is also a topic covered in the Spring follow-up.

Joanna Steven: "I am definitely not an athlete, and spend a lot of time on my computer writing for my blog, the Raw Mom and Raw Diva blogs, and packing/shipping orders for my raw food store, Sirova.

"But, I think exercise is very important, and I try to work-out everyday. I usually go through phases, where I will do yoga 99% of the time, and then suddenly switch to sit-ups, crunches, squats and similar exercises which are amazing to have a nicely toned body.

"Recently, my husband got some Ripcords, and I love them, too. Often, I'll use them in conjunction with other exercises, since they are great for the upper body. I try to fit in an hour of exercise a day on average, and naturally exercise more in the spring and summer.

"As for my diet, I usually wake up to a nice warm cup of lemon water, followed by 3 cups of green juice. I usually make 5 cups and drink the rest in the afternoon or in the evening. I'll work for a few hours, exercise, and then make a big smoothie (either a green smoothie or a nut milk smoothie). I'm usually on liquids until lunch, it allows me get a lot of work done.

"If I'm in the mood for solids, I'll usually have some chocolate GoRaw granola with Brazil nut milk. Lunch and dinner vary quite a bit. I am a bit fan of huge salads, with veggies, sprouts, sea vegetables etc.

"Lately, I've been loving raw wraps filled with veggies and slices of Dr. Cow cheese. I also love raw avocado-based soups, which I'll make when my husband wants something different (he's not a fan of raw soups). And when we manage to keep sea spaghetti from flying off the shelves too fast, I love to toss some with a raw pesto sauce. Best comfort food in the world!

"Snacks usually include chia puddings, an avocado-based chocolate pudding, or simply some fruits like bananas."

Tonya Kay: "As a professional dancer, I train an average of 17 hours/week. My activities include company rehearsals, gigs, dance classes, core training, physical therapy, Bikram yoga, hiking and dancing like at the club, of course!

"Unlike many other athletes, my sport is not competitive (with anyone but myself), nor does it involve a routine set of perfectible motions. A dancers' edge, rather, lies in her ability to maintain an expert level of strength, flexibility and coordination at all times, allowing her to master any motion the physical form might do, make it look easy, and bare her soul wide open while doing it.

"Consuming in-season, local, organic, raw vegan foods has been nothing short of miraculous in my life - as an athlete as well as a human being. Eating in-season, local, organic raw vegan foods, I am light inside, have a reliable energy source, recover quickly from stress and injury, sleep consistently and wake rested, fluctuate only 5 pounds either way around my average weight, build lean, long muscle effortlessly, and radiate a glow visible from the stage to the second balcony.

"The raw vegan foods I find most beneficial to my personal athletic training are first and foremost; water. I consider it a food, for certain, and choose to drink simple spring water or well water I bottle myself. In lieu of that, I get my 4-5 liters/day from a basic charcoal filtered tap water or as a last resort, refill jugs from reverse osmosis vending machines.

"I use water to hydrate, nourish, and "keep things flowing." For me to really accept water's energy into my body, the water must be cost-free and waste-free. I don't believe that the basic necessities of life, like air, water, sunshine, sleep and love should have a price tag. I also don't believe requiring the manufacture, recycle or waste of a petroleum plastic bottle have anything to do with clean water.

"Other vegan foods I find essential to my athletic training are leafy greens, like kale, romaine, green lettuce, and hijiki, nori, dulse and wakame sea vegetables. These foods have amazing alkalizing effects, which assure the body functions at its natural highest potential without inflammation, degradation or exhaustion.

"And, contrary to popular belief, muscle is built from amino acids. It is true that the body breaks down hard-to-digest proteins into amino acids, but why not give it direct access to muscle's building blocks by feeding it the most amino acid dense foods on earth - easily to assimilate leafy greens.

"Finally, water rich fruits, such as apples, kiwi, strawberries, cherries - AVOCADO! - they all have profound energy and mood effects. It's a natural high without the side effects, and when it comes to professional dance, the crowd expects more than a stellar athletic performance, they expect you to shine like a star doing it. Fruit highs are mandatory just before any performance.

Q: So, in your research, you found chia seeds to be an excellent calcium-booster. How do you incorporate them in your diets? Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Joanna Steven: "I love chia puddings! I make them in so many different ways. I also make chia milk, but chia puddings are my absolute favorite, and my husband loves them, too."

Creamy Strawberry
Chocolate Chia Pudding

1/2 cup raw cashews
1-1 1/2 cups water
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
1-inch vanilla bean
1 cup diced strawberries
1 tsp. lucuma powder
1 Tbsp. raw cacao
4 Tbsp. chia seeds

Blend the cashews, water, agave, vanilla, strawberries, lucuma and cacao to make a creamy nut milk.

In a small bowl, or in 2 cups with 2 Tbsp. of chia seeds in each, stir the chia seeds with the strawberry milk until the chia seeds are well coated.

Drink immediately, or set aside until the chia seeds have gelled and you have a tapioca-pudding like bowl of deliciousness.

Q: Will there be Summer and Winter editions in the future? What projects do both of you have in the works? Where else can my readers find the two of you these days?

Joanna Steven: "Of course! The Winter edition is all done, we are just working on turning the manuscript into an actual eBook. The Summer edition should be done by August, I think.

"Aside from this, you can find my articles in the Raw Mom and Raw Divas blogs, Get Fresh, my own blog, and on my raw food store's articles database, Sirova. Get Fresh will be publishing an article about me in their Spring issue as well, for their “Day in the Life” feature. And of course, I post a lot on Facebook, and everyone is welcome to add me!

Tonya Kay: "I am excited about both the Winter and Summer raw nutritional analysis eBooks publishing digitally this year. And because Joanna is French, we are looking into expanding our reader base by offering all eBooks in the French translation! If you like my philosophy and writing, please check out my weekly green blog

"In my performance career, things are out of control! In a good way! This week I am co-starring on "House M.D.," April 20th; look for me stilt dancing on "Glee." In the month of March, I am performing live in Jason Alexander’s Reprise Theatre’s production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." I have just signed a series regular hosting role on a new t.v. series pilot. Look for me modeling with fellow vegan, Russell Brand, in his upcoming film, "Get Him To The Greek."

"In media involving the vegan community, I have played key roles in some high quality projects released this spring/summer. Check out - I did the voice of Green Girl and our first screening of Episode 2, a kid and adult-friendly animated short, premieres at the Green Lifestyle Film Festival March 20th.

"Also, it’s about time for a scripted full length film featuring vegan activists! Bold Native releases this summer and I play a lead in the film. The film’s lead characters are Animal Liberation Front activists and the storyline is full of education, emotional engagement and renegade action. Start following the film now on FB at

"I will be volunteering my time with the endangered Asian elephant in Thailand at the this year again, and I always post new media clips, photographs and journal entries at my personal website

Q: One last question, on behalf of my 7-year-old son: Tonya, what ever happened to The Creature (from “Who Wants To Be A Superhero”)? Will we be seeing more of her?

Tonya Kay: "Creature, from season 1 of Stan Lee’s "Who Wants To Be A Superhero," continued her many exciting superhero exploits after the 2006 airing: Creature appeared at San Diego Comic Con, FX Con, All Con and even Fetish Con several times. At, you can find Creature’s Fire Spinning Comic Poster, autographed glossy and other cool comic collectables.

"Unfortuantely, Creature, though we all know she is me, is a character that now belongs to SciFi and so my superhero exploits will now be found without code name, but valiantly and obviously myself: Tonya Kay!

"I’ve teamed up with several comic artists as a model and storyline muse for upcoming comics yet to be published, but do check out my work with famous comic illustrator, Jim Balent! You’ll want to purchase a few copies of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose issue #59, in which I star with my whip, my fire and my female-empowerment message, for your son to read when he’s 18, since Jim’s beautiful comic artwork involves nudity in this case :-)

"Your young audience will enjoy my voice over work on Rawman and Green Girl:, as well as this old-time style radio story featuring me as Creature in voice: Enjoy!"