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 .

Is your food zapping your energy?

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

What you eat and when you eat has a big influence on your energy levels throughout the day. Morning is when it can either start with a bang or a  thud, but it doesn’t  just end there. The choices you make throughout the day can have a huge influence on your physical, emotional and mental wellness in life.

If you begin your day with a heavy meal, such as pancakes or even milk and cereal, you may find yourself wanting to go straight back to bed. The other side effect you might get is a mild depression such as a feeling of doom or dread about your day. The reason this happens is that your body is working so hard to digest the food you just ate, that you have no energy left for normal functioning, and even your hormones get imbalanced by the sugar. And when it gets to be too much, your body just puts you to sleep so it can deal with the bombardment.

Another reason you may experience low energy after eating something is when our food choices create an insulin spike. When we eat foods such as white sugar, agave nectar, milk, white bread, pastries, or anything that creates an insulin overload for our pancreas (I had it happen from just eating cantaloupe recently), our hormones kick in to action to balance things in the body. Once your insulin level spikes too high from eating a sugary food, a roller coaster effect begins. As the body secretes hormones, our moods and energy levels move all over the place. This can also be the case if we go without food in the case of hypoglycemic, but usually that is still a case of imbalance.  Isn’t food supposed to give us energy and help us function in life? The answer is Yes! We just need to make smart choices, cleanse our bodies of all the excess waste, and feed it the right food to help us stay feeling good.

Here is an example of some items you can exchange to make your energy soar instead of sink. Below are 2 lists. One is foods that make us sleepy, groggy or low energy, as well as moody and even depressed.The second is an alternative that will make you feel energized and good. Some people may at first experience withdrawal or even detox symptoms from some of your unhealthy habits being replaced, but very soon, maybe within a day, you will feel supercharged!

Instead of this:

1. Bananas, protein power and cow’s milk

2. Cereal and Milk

3. Toast  with butter or jam

4. Pancakes

5. Sandwich

6. Ice Cream

Eat this:

  1. Chia-Maca Shake
  2. Unsweetened almond milk (home-made is better than boxed) with 1 TBS. chia seeds soaked in ½ cup water topped with fresh berries
  3. Almond bread with tomato slices, sprinkled with fresh chopped basil and a sprinkle of salt
  4. Green juice made with cucumber, celery, kale, lemon and possibly fresh pressed apple for taste. (I know this one is really far-fetched as usually if you feel like pancakes the last thing you are going to want is a green juice, but you will be surprised by how amazing you feel. Make your  juice the night before, then drink it first thing in the morning, then if you still want pancakes, go for it, but instead of high fructose corn syrup which is usually what they put in those fake maple syrups, just top it with some fresh berries and honey.) Also, fruit juice is not an option since it is loaded with insulin spiking “sugar”. The best choice by far is leafy green juices! The other thing you can do is to mix 1 TBS of green powder in water and drink it down first before eating anything else.
  5. Romaine leaf instead of bread with whatever filling you choose. Keep in mind that it is usually the sugar in the bread that makes you low energy. My favorite filling in a Romaine leaf is some mustard, avocado slices and chopped tomatoes sprinkled with Himalayan salt and some sprouts.
  6. Sweet Nothings fudgesicle (only 100 calories per bar) or a bowl of frozen raspberries or blueberries covered in almond milk and sweetened with stevia (it’s like a berry ice cream).

This will give you something to get started with, and as time goes on, keep trying new recipes that are organic and healthy. You never know how great you can feel until you start putting nutrients in and getting the toxins out.

Bringing pure joy and gourmet bliss to the planet,

Elaina Love

Elaina Love is a plant-based chef, instructor, author and speaker.

Find out more about her recipes and classes at purejoyplanet.com.

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 .

25 Things You Can Do To Alleviate Stress

I am about to make a bold statement…stress is the main and only cause of all illnesses!  Everything we experience in our physical world is simply a projection of what we are allowing to run through our minds.  Our thoughts create our reality.  If your thoughts are “sick,” you will be sick.

We all know people who are wonderful individuals who are very positive and have great lives but still get ill.  How can this be?  Our conscious mind may be positive, but our subconscious mind runs 90% of our behaviors.  We are not always aware what sits in that deep recess of the mind.  One of the ways God gets our attention, if all else fails, is through our physical body.  A physical ailment will stop you in your tracks every time and cause you to question your life, your thinking and your actions.

If you do nothing else for yourself in this lifetime, do this:  learn how to manage stress in your life.  Contrary to what you may now believe, stress is not caused by your ex, your boss, lack of money, lack of sex, having no job, etc.  Stress is caused by your perception of those events in your life.  Change your perception and you change the “movie.”

Here are 25 things off the top of my head I have done in the past to alleviate stress.  Feel free to leave comments and add to the list.  Let’s all help each other!

  1. Close your eyes and take 3 deep diaphragmatic breaths (push your stomach out when you inhale) – breath always brings you directly back to your soul.
  2. Move your body – walk, bike, run, stretch, jump on a trampoline, etc.
  3. Sing a song (out loud – hey, if I can do it with my voice, so can you!)
  4. Smile – you actually use more muscles to frown than to smile.
  5. Listen to your favorite song or some relaxing music.
  6. Eat more greens (spinach, kale, and arugula) – greens are very grounding and balancing.
  7. Meditate or pray – worry is a form of prayer, so create thoughts that are more of what you want to see in your life, not what you are worried may happen.
  8. Sleep – this is not overrated!  We need sleep to recharge and we also get much of our spiritual guidance through our sleeping dreams.
  9. Close your eyes and visualize being in your favorite place – feel the joy of being there.
  10. Go out in nature – nature is a natural balancer of energy.
  11. Get away from your source of stress whether it is a person, place or thing.
  12. Light a candle – light is healing and is often used to clear out and protect energy.
  13. Take a bath – essential oils such as lavender are great!
  14. Peel an orange and smell the rind – citrus smells are a great stress reliever.
  15. Choose fruit instead of a sugary treat – sugar tends to aggravate stress and is thought to be a cause of depression.
  16. Clean something – it is truly cathartic.
  17. Lie down, spread your arms and legs out and just breathe for 10 minutes.
  18. Get near running water – the sound is very soothing and healing.  Wash your hands up to your elbows.  Toxins collect in the forearms.
  19. Garden – pick some fresh flowers, weed, or plant something new in your garden.
  20. Pet your cat or dog.  Pets actually absorb negative energy to protect us.
  21. Organize yourself (a drawer, desk, etc.) – feeling organized makes you feel less stressed.
  22. Drink a glass of water – water is cleansing and purifying to the soul and to your physical body.
  23. Drink a cup of hot tea – peppermint and chamomile are the best.
  24. Avoid gossip and negative people – walk away, change the subject of conversation, avoid certain places, etc.
  25. Remember that you are in control of you.  80% of the thoughts you have on a daily basis are lies that come from your past conditioning.  Always question your thoughts.  You cannot believe everything you think.

Faith is the power to stand up to the madness and chaos of the physical world while holding the position that nothing external has any authority over what heaven has in mind for you.“ ~Caroline Myss

Desserts…desert…I always get confused!  Lol!


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 .

You want me to eat that?

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

Many people I speak with say they find it hard to be in a relationship with a man or woman who is not eating the same as them. In this blog, I will share with you some ways I have found that you can stay happily partnered while enjoying your own autonomy around food.

Some of the obstacles you have shared with me:

  1. “It’s hard to come home at night to the smell of fresh popped popcorn (or fill in the blank) when I’m trying to stay on a low carb/raw food program.”
  2. “When I go to a restaurant, if bread is on the table, it’s too hard to resist. My partner wants to have it on the table and I’d rather not have the opiate temptation!”
  3. “I try not to have food in the house that I might eat in a moment of weakness such as ice cream, cookies or breads. My husband loves to have these around, what can I do?”
  4. “My boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t eat the way I do, and he/she seems to always be cooking up something yummy smelling in my hungriest moments.  How do I  resist the amazing smells?”
  5. “I’m pretty good at eating well when I am home, but when we go on vacation, it seems to get a little out of control. My mate likes to eat at places that have french fries and pastries. I usually come back home feeling depressed and 5 pounds heavier from all the “junk” I couldn’t resist on my vacation.”
  6. When I visit my parents, my mom gets her feelings hurt if I don’t accept her offerings of processed foods. I really don’t feel well when I eat those foods, what can I do to make everyone happy?

Does any of this sound familiar?

Here are some solutions:

  1. Start with talking about it. Sometimes our friends, family and mates don’t understand how painful it is for us to be trying so hard to do right by ourselves only to feel sabotaged when they order a pizza. If you appeal to their softer side and say something like “How do you feel about some healthy dishes tonight? I’m in the mood for…. How do you feel about that?” The other way is to tell them how much you love them and that it is nothing personal but you don’t want to be around when they are eating those types of foods so maybe they could eat it when you are not with them or let you know so you can wait to come around.
  2. If the smell of popcorn or fresh toast is intoxicating to you, consider:  Having your own delicious gluten-free almond bread already made and easy to grab when you are feeling tempted. Top it with Veganaise or smear some avocado on it and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning and  you’ve got a delicious treat!
  3. When your partner orders bread, ask the waiter to also bring out a small salad right away. This will help you have something to munch on instead of just watching the rest of the table enjoy the bread. Yes, it’s true bread has opiates in it, this means even the smell of it kicks in our  pleasure-seeking addictions. Another option, which I used to do a lot before I could be around bread without eating it, is to bring your own gluten-free flax crackers or something healthy in your bag. You can slip them out one at a time and munch on them while you are waiting for your healthier choices to arrive. If there is a healthy dip at the table such as hummus or salsa, you can ask for a plate of cut up veggies to dip with.
  4. Here is what I have done in the past when other household members have foods my hips want nothing to do with: Create a separate snack food cupboard for them that you don’t go into. If even that doesn’t stop you, consider buying your own, healthier versions such as baked corn chips instead of fried, gluten-free, fruit-juice-sweetened cookies instead of Tollhouse, Coconut Bliss instead of Dryers. At least if you are going to indulge, it’s a healthier option. One other trick that has worked for me in the past is to ask your mate to hide the ice cream in the back of the freezer underneath the frozen peas. That way you don’ t see it when you open the freezer. Out of sight, out of mind.
  5. Smelling a warm, delicious food can be very tempting, especially when you are hungry. The best course of action is to always have things around that will satisfy a craving. For me it’s salads with a hearty dressing such as my vegan ranch (available in Elaina’s Pure Joy Kitchen Book 2) topped with avocado and crunchy pumpkin seeds. Still need more satisfaction? Try Kale Chips. You can buy these at Whole Foods Market or make your own nut free version!
  6. Bring enough food to share with your mom when you visit. Maybe she will love your flax crackers and hummus. Make her a morning smoothie or green juice. If she offers you something, say I would love some fruit, do you have any? (Most mom’s always have fruit around). That way she feels you are accepting something from her and she feels good. When it’s meal time, offer to make a big salad or something healthy that you enjoy, that way you always have something nourishing to eat. My family loves my kale salad piled high with pine nuts and avocados!

When all is said and done, the last thing we want is for food to come between us and the ones we love. Share your feelings and share your food. If you are persistent, like me, and continue to make super healthy foods and treats that are always on hand, your mate or roommate will love your food and be happy to eat it and maybe even start requesting it!

Bringing pure joy and gourmet bliss to the planet,

Elaina Love

Author, Director of Pure Academy and Public Speaker




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 .