I know I shouldn’t be eating this but…

Please enjoy today’s article from Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Pure Joy Academy as the guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self  Blog. ~ Chris

21 Days to Break the Habit! Part 1 of 3
A 3-week path to more mindful eating habits

We’ve all heard it before, “chew your food until its liquid”, “don’t watch television while you eat”, and “put your fork down in between bites”; don’t eat fried foods, blah, blah, blah…

These are all well and good as far as a theory goes, but when the fork meets the fudge, what is actually going on in our heads? Stress and hurriedness is a big part of our modern life, and it is most likely here to stay. So instead of trying to resist what persists why not just go around it for a moment or two? What I mean by this is that even though life is busy and we have lots to do every day, we can still carve out a few precious moments to ourselves, and mealtime might just be one of those perfect moments.

You don’t need to start by thinking that each meal has to be the perfect mindful meal, or that you can never watch TV or read a magazine while eating, because that is just unrealistic. What you can do though is take even one part of that meal (perhaps the first 5 minutes) to check in, breathe and be grateful. For the next seven days in this 21 day journey, practice the 4 Bs of mindfulness around eating:

  1. Be curious:  Am I hungry? This is a good question to ask before you go looking for something to eat. Especially if it is a snack vs. a meal. Sometimes though, even meals can be eaten mindlessly and not out of true hunger just because it’s mealtime. So before loading your plate or picking up your fork ask 3 simple words: “Am I hungry?”
  2. Breathe:  This leads to my second principle. You may decide, even though you are not hungry, and even though you think it might not be the healthiest choice, instead of saying “I know I shouldn’t be eating this but…” Take a moment to stop thinking any negative thought and take a deep breath (or 3). A long, slow breath. If possible just close your eyes for 1-2 seconds (try it now). That’s it! Now your heart may be beating just a bit slower and you may be a little more present before taking that first slooow bite. Enjoy it!
  3. Be grateful:  Take a moment to say thank you (silently or shared with your family or friends) to the abundance that you are about to enjoy. Who grew your food? Who picked your food? Who drove your food to the store? Who prepared your food? How are you able to afford to buy this food? Just take a moment to say thank you to just one person who contributed to your meal.
  4. Begin Again:  I love the words of Esther Hicks (Abraham-hicks.com) “I can begin again.” If you forgot where you are or what you are doing and you find yourself half way into a container of ice cream with no idea how you got there. STOP! Start at step 1 and begin again.

Bringing Pure Joy and Gourmet Bliss to the Planet,
Elaina Love
Elaina Love is the Owner/Director of PureJoyPlanet.com and is also a professional Chef, Instructor, and Detox Counselor at Pure Joy Culinary Academy. She is a Lifestyle Counselor, co-owner of Pure Joy Academy.

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

Overcoming Food Sensitivities with Healthy Choices

Please enjoy today’s article from Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Pure Joy Academy as the guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self Blog. ~ Chris

Food is many things to many people. It is a source of entertainment, a source of comfort, a source of energy, and something to help us get through times of stress.

Food is important to our physical, mental and emotional well being. Therefore, it affects our entire way of life when food sensitivities develop.

Sensitivities cause physical reactions to food and can be as mild as hot feet and as severe as depression or anaphylactic shock. Many times attempts are made to cover symptoms with a “band aid” such as pharmaceuticals, pills, herbs, and even surgery. This may temporarily “fix” the problem, but in the end, you can never be truly healthy unless you find out why your body is doing what it is doing.

By becoming more aware of what you eat and how it affects your body, you can find many clues to why you may be experiencing less than optimal results from your dietary choices.

Before discovering my own food allergies, I was cranky, had severe eczema, painful PMS that lasted for days, lower back pain, arthritis, gas, bloating, fatigue and depression. I thought it was just something I had to live with. I had no idea that I had the power to cure myself.

According to www.DrSears.com, some food allergy symptoms include:  swelling in hands and feet, puffy eyelids, dark circles under eyes, tongue soreness and cracks, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, persistent cough, congestion, mucous, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gassiness, fatigue, migraine headaches, irritability, anxiety and sore muscles and joints.

The top seven food allergies from which 90 percent of all food allergies can be attributed to are:

To find out if you are reacting to certain foods you can either get a blood test which may be convenient but can be expensive running $500 or more, or do your own research by eliminating the foods from your diet for a week, then reintroducing one food at a time and noticing any reactions.

After I determined which foods I was allergic to, I had some decisions to make. I could either choose to keep eating those foods and live with the symptoms, or decide my health and well-being were more important to me than anything else. The offending foods for me were wheat, eggs, dairy and soy. Because I was a vegetarian who ate meat substitutes which were made with wheat, dairy or soy, my food choices appeared to be severely limited. I began making recipes from allergy free cookbooks, and I looked for prepared and packaged foods that were allergy free. While meticulously reading the labels, looking for the offending ingredients, I found that wheat, eggs and dairy are in countless numbers of packaged foods. Even soy sauce and licorice contain wheat!

During this time I discovered a book on intestinal cleansing. It contained testimonials that inspired me to try an intestinal cleanse for myself. After a month, I had an amazing increase in my energy and many of my previous symptoms were gone. The biggest surprise though, was not what I expected. I thought that after I cleansed my body and got rid of the allergies, I would go back to my “normal” life. That is not what happened. During the cleanse, I discovered raw, living foods made from a base of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It was the answer to my prayers. Not only did these newly discovered recipes contain none of my reactive foods, they were also so satisfying that they quickly replaced the old comfort foods. I completely transformed my diet and discovered a whole new lifestyle. It is exciting to eat comforting foods that make me feel good and are highly nutritious.

After completing several cleanses and eating primarily raw, living foods, I am now able to eat foods I was previously allergic to and feel just fine. I will never go back to my previous eating habits though because grains and starches make me tired and slow me down, and dairy makes me feel bloated and stuffed-up when eaten on a regular basis. On a diet consisting of mostly raw, living foods, I have increased energy and I look and feel better than I did several years ago.

There are many wonderful resources for making changes for the better in your diet. Some of the resources are listed here.

Websites:  For more information on food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances go to www.food-allergy.org, www.livingwithout.com and www.askdrsears.com. For more information on raw, living foods, go to www.purejoylivingfoods.com and www.rawfoodchef.com.

Books:  Cleanse and Purify Thyself by Richard Anderson, The Food Allergy Cure by Ellen W. Cutler
Magazines:  Living Without

This recipe is recommended for people with dairy sensitivities:

Nut or Seed Milk or Cream


By Elaina Love

Almonds are packed with calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and Vitamin E (source: The Food Lover’s Companion)

1 cup soaked almonds, sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds (1/2+ cup before soaking)
1 to 3 cups water (less for cream, more for milk)
2 -4 medium dates or 2-4 Tbsp. sweetener of choice (optional)
1 tsp.
Blend all ingredients on high until well blended.

Pour through The Amazing Nut Milk, Juice and Sprout Bag (available at www.purejoyplanet.com) or a clean nylon sock.

Squeeze the bag until all the liquid is released.

Pour the milk or cream over fresh fruit or cereal.

You may want to make extra so you have enough to last four days.

This recipe is recommended for people with wheat sensitivities:

Black Forest Carob Brownies


By Elaina Love

4 cups soaked and dehydrated walnuts
3/4 cup or 9 oz. pitted dates
3/4 cup or 2.75 oz. carob powder
2 tsp. cherry extract or vanilla
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried walnuts
1/2 cup or 4 oz. coarsely chopped dried cherries
Soak the walnuts for 8-12 hours.
Rinse them well and dry them with a towel.

Dehydrate the walnuts in a food dehydrator at 105 degrees for 12 hours. This is an optional step which will give the brownies a more cake-like texture.

Puree the nuts in a food processor until it becomes a flour.

Add the dates and continue to puree until well mixed.

Add carob powder and extract and puree again.

Mix in the cherries and chopped nuts by hand.

Press with very firm pressure into a brownie pan.

Refrigerate and slice into squares.

Double the recipe for a large pan.

These brownies will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks or more.

This recipe is not recommended for people with tree nut allergies.

This recipe is recommended for people with dairy and nut sensitivities:

Creamy Cilantro Soup


By Elaina Love

Cilantro is a wonderfully fragrant herb that is high in chlorophyll and has been said to pull heavy metals from the body. Enjoy it in this rich and satisfying energy soup.

1 zucchini, chopped
1 large bunch cilantro, stems removed (about 2 cups)
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
½ apple, chopped
1 avocado, chopped (add later)
1 Tbs. tamari or Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
½ tsp cumin (optional)
1 tsp. onion powder (optional)
1/8 tsp. cayenne

Blend all ingredients until smooth except avocado. Add the avocado and blend again. (The avocado is blended last to keep it from getting gelatinous).

Eat immediately or store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for 2 days maximum.

Optional Toppings:

Sprinkle with dulse flakes
Diced bell pepper
Fresh raw corn cut off the cob
Sunflower greens
Chopped Romaine (stir into the soup)

This recipe is recommended for people with dairy, nut and egg sensitivities:

Easy Caesar Salad Dressing


½ cup Bariani or extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice
¼-½ cup water
2 large dates or 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbs. light miso
3 medium cloves garlic
¾ tsp. mustard powder or 1½ tsp. prepared Dijon mustard
2 tsp. dulse flakes
¼ tsp. Celtic sea salt

Blend all ingredients in a blender or hand mix, crushing the garlic first and using maple syrup instead of dates.

Store the dressing in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Inspired by Blessing’s Alive and Radiant foods Caesar recipe.

Elaina Love is a professional chef and instructor. You can find her books, learn about her classes and view more of her recipes by going to www.purejoyplanet.com.

Bringing pure joy and gourmet bliss to the planet,

Elaina Love

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

Mood and Food

Please enjoy today’s article from Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Pure Joy Academy as the guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self Blog. ~ Chris


Can what you eat significantly affect your mood?

Yes, according to a recent survey conducted by members of the London-based Food and Mood Project. After surveying 200 people suffering from a variety of mental health problems during a one-year period, nutritional therapist Amanda Geary found that more than one-third of the participants experienced significant improvements when they ate or avoided particular foods. Participants who suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings had the greatest improvements in mood, after incorporating more “supporters” (foods that help sustain good moods) and eliminating identified “stressors” (foods that drag down moods) from their diets. Those struggling with depression reported the second-highest shift in behavior when eating similar diets. According to the report, mood supporters include fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, oil-rich fish, and high protein foods- all of which keep blood sugar levels steady. Geary also discovered that eating regularly and not skipping breakfast, as well as drinking more water, had a beneficial effect on moods. Food stressors, on the other hand, include alcohol and chocolate, and for about 80 percent of study participants, sugar and caffeine have the worst effect on blood sugar levels and thus foster foul moods and anxiety.

In my research as well as my own personal experience, I have found that foods high in Omega 3s, Vitamin D and B-vitamins to be the most significant in improving my energy and moods, especially depression. These 3 also happen to be nutrients that most people are lacking. In fact, 80% of the population tested are low in Omega 3s. Here are some ways to increase your nutrition and improve your mood:


Eat Feel-Good Foods

Avocados, beans, green leafy vegetables: Create energy and relieve depression-High in healthy fats and Omega 3s.

Bananas: Calm the mind (eat in moderation as they are high glycemic)

Berries: Help avoid depression- by eating anti-oxidant rich berries which also happen to be low glycemic, you will satisfy your sweet cravings without spiking your blood sugar which can cause mood swings and depression. Berries are a perfect summer snack and are portable- great to have for breakfast or in a smoothie

Broccoli, sweet potatoes, oranges, peaches: Clear the mind- They contain minerals such as iron, manganese and potassium, which counter anemia. Anemia (common among young women) causes weariness, affecting physical as well as the mental health.

Green Smoothies: Balance blood sugar and energy levels. Blend some mineral rich spinach with some low glycemic berries. The folic acid in spinach helps ward off depression too.

Mushrooms exposed to UV light: According to Dr. Oz, purchasing mushrooms which have been left under a UV light helps the mushrooms to be Vitamin D rich (100% RDA). Vitamin D helps ward off stress and depression, and help to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. These all have a profound impact on mood. Always cook mushrooms before eating. I suggest cooking in coconut oil.

Omega-3 fatty acids (found in walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pinto beans and blue-green algaes): Prevent the blues and feed the brain.

Salmon: High in Omega 3s-Reduces mood swings and depression, calming

Water: Boost energy, hydrating

Whole grains, herbal teas: Ward off stress

Foods to avoid:  High glycemic foods such as white sugar, agave, white flour, white potatoes, processed foods such as  breakfast cereals and white rice can create insulin spikes which can cause depression and mood swings. So if you are craving sweets, it’s best to sweeten with stevia or go for low glycemic fruits such as berries, apples and grapefruits sprinkled with some Omega 3 rich ground flax or chia seeds.

Experiencing emotions is a normal part of life, however your moods may be tied to something you just ate! So the next time you feel a doom or gloom coming on, before reaching for an over the counter or prescription drug, take inventory of what you ate (or didn’t eat)  in the past few hours (a food diary is helpful) and try adding or eliminating some of the foods  I mentioned to your diet. Simply choosing the right foods can have a major impact on your mood and your overall health and well-being.

Bringing Pure Joy and Gourmet Bliss to the Planet,

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

Understanding Sugar Cravings and What to Do About Them

Please enjoy today’s article from Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Pure Joy Academy as the guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self Blog. ~ Chris

Understanding Sugar Cravings and What to Do About Them

Sugar and simple carbohydrate cravings are a real problem for many of us. Not only does sugar (in the form of processed flours, white potatoes, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, agave and even healthy sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey and dates) diminish our health, they can cause a host of emotional problems as well such as irritability and depression.

What are some reasons we crave sugars or sweet foods?

One main reason can be low adrenal function. Years of abusing our bodies through less than optimal food choices, lack of exercise, continual low-grade stress and overeating can cause our adrenals (a hormone gland that sits right above the kidneys) to continually secrete epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). This continuous reliance on our adrenals to provide us with energy and good feelings cause another form of abuse when the adrenaline is running low. We are so addicted to having and using energy during the day that we will sometimes drink caffeine and eat stimulating foods such as too much chocolate to force our adrenals to secrete even more “juice” than they would normally secrete. Sugar and caffeine both give us a temporary adrenaline hit or high followed by a sugar crash.

What can we do?

If you’ve ever tried to quit an unhealthy habit, you know that it can be a difficult road of cravings and deprivation. If this describes you, don’t feel badly, it is a normal part of our existence to want to feel good. When we get the dopamine hits (also known as the Pleasure Trap) it causes us to keep revisiting those unhealthy habits no matter how bad we know they are for us. Will Power alone is not enough; you need to support your body with the nutrients it is lacking. The first thing you can do right away is to start taking an adaptogen daily. An adaptogen is a botanically based hormone regulator. They help us to adapt to stressful environmental and physical factors. Adaptogens are a saving grace as they can help us to regulate energy by either helping us sleep better or to help us perform better in day-to-day tasks.

I take 3 Quantum Adrenal Complex capsules every morning to help balance and regulate my hormone levels. You can find many adaptogens in teas as well such as licorice, schisandra berries, Siberian ginseng, rhodiola rosea, ashwaganda, medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi, Chaga, Cordycepts, and more.

12 tips to minimize sugar and caffeine cravings:

  1. Avoid places you will be tempted (such as malls, the snack isle of grocery stores and shopping when you are tired or hungry). Most important: don’t bring those energy robbing foods back to your house.
  2. Relieve your stress by taking action on a project or make a phone call you have been avoiding.
  3. Daily yoga and meditation have a huge impact on relieving stress and increasing pleasure sensations. I have been using a new app on my iphone called Mediator. It times me and does little chimes to keep my mind from wandering.
  4. Eat foods that mimic the foods you are cravings such as a raw-vegan zucchini pasta with pesto sauce instead of the white flour and dairy-laden version.
  5. How about making a vegan, low glycemic pie and keeping it in your freezer to have ready when you are in the middle of a snack attack?
  6. Sauerkraut is full of natural probiotics and dampens the cravings for sweets. I mix it with an avocado for a hearty snack.
  7. Probiotic foods such as coconut kefir (see image right) or coconut yogurt (watch my youtube video):
    Coconut Yogurt by Elaina Love of Pure Joy Planet
  8. Make a sugar free lemonade with purified water, lemon juice and zero glycemic stevia
  9. Drink a green juice (celery, kale, cucumber, lemon) even if it doesn’t sound good in the moment.
  10. Eat coconut yogurt with low glycemic raspberries (frozen or fresh)*
  11. Make a list of your health goals and get that out before going for food. Write down everything you eat, the pleasure factor of eating forbidden foods will decrease knowing that you will later be accountable for it on paper.
  12. Fast forward in your mind to one hour later… will you be happy about what you are choosing now?

Over time, as you practice discipline, being accountable, substitution and supporting your adrenals, you may find that you will get more pleasure and feel stronger by not eating sugars and simple carbohydrates. Your pancreas and your body will reward you with more sustainable energy, youthfulness and less fine lines on your face. You deserve your birth right of Pure Joy!

To your inner and outer beauty!
Elaina Love

Bringing Pure Joy and Gourmet Bliss to the Planet,
Elaina Love

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

Reclaim your health and beauty!

Please enjoy today’s article from Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Pure Joy Academy as the guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self blog. ~ Chris

It seems that the longer I eat a high raw, low glycemic, gluten-free, health promoting diet, the more beautiful I feel inside and out. It’s not just about looking in the mirror and seeing clear skin, sparkly eyes and rosy cheeks (although it is quite nice); it’s also about how we feel on the inside. The holistic approach has never applied more than when it comes to feeling and looking good.

What is the Holistic Approach? It is being aware of our entire being. Not just the physical body, but also our spiritual body and its need for solitude, silence, reflection, gratitude, journaling, prayer, and meditation. Then there is our sweet, beautiful, innocent emotional body that craves and desires to be loved and comforted above all else. One thing I know for sure is that the better I eat, the better I feel, and the worse I eat, the worse I feel. Emotions are directly tied to our food choices. Our moods are so tied to our eating habits that it’s almost funny how simple it is. Try fasting for a day or 2 and you will know what I mean. All those things that usually annoy you or make you depressed just fall away easily. I have spent many a fast or cleanse laughing at how I take myself so seriously sometimes. It’s all a cosmic joke and the joke is how easy it is once we decide to make feeling good a priority.

The question for some of us is why don’t we make good choices even though we know what is good for us? There are a lot of obstacles that can stand in the way such as cravings, too many “bad” choices, being hungry when there are no good choices in sight, and so on. A conclusion that I have come to over the years is that it is not about what you do some of the time (10-20%) but more about what you do 80% of the time. If you spend 80% of your time berating yourself for what you did during your 20% you are missing it! Missing the good parts of life! Sure, there are going to be times when all you want to do is indulge, and there is nothing inherently wrong or bad about that!!!! We are hard-wired to eat and survive; it’s what we do! We are in human form, and part of taking form is that we desire to experience the sensual side of things such as getting a massage, making love, sleeping in and eating delicious foods.

The balance is in finding the right times to cleanse and eat well and the times to be decadent. At Pure Joy Academy we teach the 80-20 principle which is 80 percent of the time you are building and maintaining and 20% of the time you are cleansing and repairing, whether that is drinking a green juice every morning (or 2x a week), doing a 7-day juice fast at the change of season, a 6-day liver flush or just one day of 100% raw foods once a week. Pick what works best for you, create a plan and put it on your calendar so you will be accountable.

Here are some recipes to get you started:

Chia-Coconut Breakfast (a great oatmeal replacement!)

½ cup chia seeds
1 ½ cups purified water (to soak the chia seeds)
1/3 cup macadamia nuts or Brazil nuts
2 Tbs. coconut oil (make sure it’s high quality and smells fresh)
3 Tbs. xylitol, honey or yacon root syrup*
6 Tbs. orange juice (about 1 orange)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. vanilla, butterscotch or rum extract
6 drops liquid stevia

1. Soak the chia seeds for 2 or more hours, you can soak them up to 12+ hours.
2. Blend everything but the chia and water together until creamy.
3. Mix the cream with the soaked chia seeds.
4. Refrigerate or enjoy immediately.

* You may substitute another sweetener for yacon such as maple syrup or honey, but yacon will be best for people with sugar imbalances and diabetics.

Lasts 4 days refrigerated.

Inline image 1

Summer Cucumber Tomato Special

1 medium tomato, chopped
1 small cucumber peeled in stripes and chopped (seeds removed if big)
1 large avocado cut into cubes
1 half of a lemon or lime squeezed
1 half to 1 tsp. Himalayan Salt Crystals
1 Tbs. of olive oil (optional for a richer flavor)
Mix everything together and enjoy!

To your inner and outer beauty!

Elaina Love
www.PureJoyAcademy.com Raw Food Culinary Academy
www.PureJoyPlanet.com Products and Recipes

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .


Over the last year many people have asked me what I have been doing differently because they have seen an increase in my mood, energy and 20 pounds melt off of my body.  What I have done is changed my lifestyle so I eat to live rather than live to eat.  Seventy percent of my daily diet includes eating raw foods, juicing and incorporating supplements into my daily regimen.  Since this has become a very popular question and topic within my circles of clients and friends, I decided to let the best of the best educate you on the topic.  Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Culinary Academy will be a guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self blog.  So, without further ado, Ms. Elaina Love

Why and how to eat a more plant strong diet

Everyone knows it is healthy to eat fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables every day.  That isn’t a new concept.  A plant strong diet encourages us to make these foods up to 80% of our diet.

Water – Fruits and vegetables are rich in pure water.  Our bodies are 70% water.  Even though we should still drink water upon arising and between meals, consuming a water-rich diet keeps us well hydrated and lessens the need for extra water.

Proteins – Heat damages proteins, causing the amino acid chains to congeal.  These large protein molecules may be unusable and even harmful to the body, causing inflammation and other problems.  Unheated plant proteins such as nuts, seeds, sprouts and greens may be 100 times more available to the body than heated proteins.

Fats – Fats are very sensitive to heat (think of avocados and flax oil).  Heated fats have lost their antioxidant qualities, and are known to be carcinogenic.  Heating any fat also makes it sticky (think of a lasagna pan), which can cause blockages in the arteries and digestive tract, inhibit the absorption of nutrients, and reduce the body’s ability to transport oxygen.

Digestion:  Assimilation and Elimination – The simple carbohydrates in fruits and vegetable are readily used as energy for the body.  In raw fruits and vegetables, more vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients are available to be used by the body.  The soft, soluble fiber in fruits and tender green vegetables also makes them easy to digest and assimilate, and aid in elimination.

Acid-alkaline balance – Processed food, cooked meat, grains and dairy, sugar, starches, pollution, and stress leave most people too acidic, which prevents optimal cellular activity and immune system functions, and leaches alkaline minerals from the body.  Diseases are more likely to form in an acidic environment.  Ripe fruits, vegetables, greens, sprouted nuts and seeds and some sprouted grains (buckwheat, quinoa, millet, teff and amaranth) are alkalizing.

Adapting to a plant strong diet

Simple steps to adding plant foods to your diet:

  1. Start the day with 16 oz of pure water, maybe with a little lemon juice added.  Then have green juice or green powder (such as Vitamineral Greens) mixed with water or some fruit.
  2. Begin typical lunches and dinners with a salad, maybe with avocado or soaked nuts/seeds (be careful of dairy laden, high fat and sugar dressings that are typically sold at stores and served in restaurants).
  3. If you snack, eat fruits, raw vegetables, and/or green juices as between meal snacks instead of other snacks Drink pure water between meals.

If you just do these three steps, you will automatically be eating about 50% plant strong foods.

Then, begin reducing or eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet.

  1. Start with processed foods (junk food, white sugar and white flour, packaged snacks).
  2. Then reduce animal products.
  3. Then reduce cooked starches.

It can be helpful to keep a diary of what you eat and how particular foods affect you.  An easy way to plan dietary changes is to make 3 lists:  Foods you regularly eat, foods you sometimes eat, and foods you occasionally or rarely eat.  Evaluate which foods you would like to eat more of and which ones you would like to eat less of.  Choose a maximum of 3 changes to make at any one time.

Here is a recipe (one of Chris’ favorites) to get you started:  All you need for equipment is a blender and if you don’t have one, you can use a shaker bottle.  Enjoy!

Easy Caesar Salad


½ cup extra virgin olive oil or flax seed oil

2 TBS lemon juice

½ cup water

2 large dates or 2 Tbs. honey or xylitol (for low glycemic)

1 Tbs. light miso paste (find this at health food stores)

3 medium cloves garlic

1 ½ tsp. prepared Dijon mustard

2 tsp. dulse flakes (a seaweed that you can find at health food stores)

¼ tsp. Celtic sea salt or a Himalayan salt (any salt will work)

  1. Blend in a blender or hand mix, crushing the garlic first.
  2. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


1 cucumber, peeled and cubed

1 tomato, chopped

4 scallions thinly sliced.

15 black olives

Bringing Pure Joy and Gourmet Bliss to the Planet,

Elaina Love
www.PureJoyAcademy.com Raw Food Culinary Academy
www.PureJoyPlanet.com Products and Recipes

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

Moving Town to Town – Up and Down the Dial

As Donna and I are making our trek across country, one of the main things keeping us quite entertained is SiriusXM radio.  We are finding ourselves moving from the 80’s hits, to Love songs, to the Comedy channel (when we need a good laugh to relieve the driving stress).  As we reminisce about old times, old flames, high school and what lies ahead for both of us we are taking note of how much we have changed over the years and all that has happened to make us the people we are today.

Did you ever notice how certain songs immediately bring up a memory of a person, time in your life or a place?  Some good memories…some not so good.  As I move my whole life out west, I find myself experiencing a boat load of feelings.  Although I am extremely excited to be moving out west and moving in with my good friend Elaina Love of Pure Joy Academy, I am also grieving the endings that are occurring at the same time.  We grieve not just when a loved one dies but when anything “dies” or ends in our lives; a job, relationship, a move, a thought pattern, etc.  The grieving process is the same.  That grieving process is filled with emotions that are attached to even older emotions from past experiences that were similar that all need to be released to allow room for new, wonderful emotions and experiences to enter.

We use music to soothe our emotions and lift our spirits.  Music is made of vibrations, which is one of the reasons why certain songs bring up certain memories.  Remember we are energy beings that vibrate…we vibrate depending on what feelings we are experiencing at the time.  Certain songs correlate with what feelings we had at a certain time in our lives.  Music, smells, places and people can trigger certain memories that have been recorded in our personal history, bringing up with them the memory and all of the emotions associated with it.  Music is a wonderful way to release emotions and balance!

Take some time today to think of what is changing or ending in your life.  Instead of fretting over it and worrying about your future, bask in the emotions that are coming up – good or bad.  Really feel them and allow them to release themselves.  Use whatever healthy soothing mechanism works for you:  music, reading, talking to a friend, spending time in nature, singing, etc.  Do something that allows you to have the space to experience what is coming up.  Don’t fight it and don’t be afraid.  You are a Divine being, always protected and every choice you make teaches you lessons that lead you a little closer to your Divine purpose.

Sometimes we have to forget what we know to make space for what we do not know to enter.

Donna and I are having a blast singing our little hearts out to every old song we hear…with some honks from truckers as we do so!  It is fun, healing and makes us smile!  J

Try it…it works!

Singing out loud (not well, I might add),


For more information about Chris Sopa International, Inc. go to www.ChrisSopa.com.