MMM #20 Round-Up: Eating Better, And Reading About It!

June 30th, 2011 - filed under: Furthermore » Monday Monthly Mission

HELLOOOOOOO! I’m back! The manuscript has been submitted to the publisher, and the project is finally wrapping up (loose ends, loose ends). Me, I’ve been trying to take a few days of down time, which I desperately needed . . . but you know how hard that is for me. Anyway, I can’t believe it’s over and to be honest, I’m still really (maybe even *just beginning* to?) process the whole thing. (Like – “Wait,what? So now I’m a raw cookbook author? What does that mean???”) But bottom line, I just can’t wait for life to return to normal. I’m taking the rest of the summer OFF from any big projects, just focusing on being a great mommy and an awesome wife and, of course, returning to full time blogging! I can’t wait. So, let’s get started with this MMM wrap-up . . .

Raw Lasagne from Vegan Mario’s in Santa Barbara, California, in early June.

I’ve been eating very well. Oh yes, very well.

This month’s mission was a continuation of last month’s mission, with a twist (we’ll get to that in a sec). We all challenged ourselves to eat a more healthy, whole-foods plant-based diet. Some people added daily juicing; others incorporated green smoothies. Some readers chose to go vegetarian for a week, and some even tried out veganism!

Me? Well of course, I’ve been raw. And aside from a very select few deviations, I’ve been entirely raw for the past two months.

Um, I feel fantastic.

Even though this has literally been the most cumbersome work load I’ve ever been under, I’ve managed my stress remarkably well. Not that I haven’t been a total mess, because I have, but it was actually Damian who brought to my attention how my diet is probably influencing my ability to make it through this. Seriously, I’ve been staying up well past midnight (WELL past) for weeks, taking care of my poor miserable teething baby all day, exercising plus going on two 30-60 minute walks each day, creating and testing over a hundred new raw recipes, and writing like a madwoman every single second that I can eke out to sit down alone with my computer. I’ve been overtaxed to the max and I should have crashed and burned out weeks ago.

Instead, I have *so* *much* energy. It’s kind of crazy when I think about it! I’m also prone to emotional instability when I get really stressed out, and I’ve been able to maintain a much more even keel throughout this process – actually much more than either Damian or I expected, haha. I only cried like a dozen times!

But joking aside, it’s a bit difficult to judge the efficacy of diet under such extreme circumstances. Who knows what has influenced what, and where the credit can be lain. All I know is, I made it through a beastly 7 weeks relatively unscathed. I even lost some weight and gained some muscle, and got that super spectacular raw-foods “skin glow”. I love that glow!

So ultimately, this mission has been a huge success for me. I’ll be continuing to eat high-raw, well, indefinitely. At least through summer. What I like about where I’m at right now, is that I don’t feel any sense of restriction. I eat raw foods because they make me feel amazing, not because I feel like I “should” or because I’m trying to prove a point. And if I want a little bit of cooked food, I’ll have it, without any worry or weirdness. Eating for what makes me feel good instead of just what tastes good, has been a huge paradigm shift for me over the past year or so. Luckily, what feels good also tastes friggin’ great! But then again, that took some adjustment, like it will for anyone (you too, if you give it time!)

Raw cheesecake quartet: delicious no matter who you are or what you’re used to.

Last month we extended the mission, and added an additional challenge: to read a book relating to our health goal. I chose Becoming Raw, by the authors of my “bible”, Becoming Vegan. I made good progress early on in the month, but got too busy for reading these last few weeks. No problem, I’m picking it right back up and I’ll be finishing soon. It’s a *really* great book, a truly honestly approach that presents the most balanced raw information I’ve ever read. There’s no dogma. The authors are straightforward and they’re not invested in the results, which means they review the literature with an open mind. The scope is exhaustive; they cover every study that’s been done on raw foods/foodists. They offer the pros and the cons, the benefits and the red flags, with tons and tons of science to back it all up. There’s also a great chapter in the beginning that details the history of the raw foods movement, which I found fascinating. All in all I recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in raw living. *Highly* recommend.

And what about you, my dears? How did your mission go? Do you feel the results of your healthy changes? And did you read anything that you found inspiring? Please, tell me all about it!


This was our twentieth mission (!!), and I’m considering taking a pause here for a while. Or, I’ve thought about doing a Bonzai Book Club instead, where we all read a book a month, and discuss. Would you be interested in a book club? Do you like the MMMs, and do you participate in them? Would you miss them if they were gone, or would you appreciate my time/energy and posting space being devoted to other endeavors? I’d love to hear your thoughts here!

Also, if you do like the MMM, do you have any ideas? I know I’ve asked this in the past, but I’m looking for more. Monday is right around the corner – if we do a MMM, what would YOU want it to be?


K, lay it on me!

  • Stephanie

    Oh my, those raw cheesecakes look better than any other cheesecake I’ve ever seen, vegan or otherwise.
    I think if you like doing the MMM (that kind of makes it sound like a dance move) then do it. If not, don’t.

  • sarah

    YES on the book club. I read tons of books on, well, everything (I’m reading “the Case Against Fluoride”, “Becoming Raw” and “Acid vs. Alkaline Diet” right now, among other things ;) and it would be cool to actually discuss and hear other’s thoughts. Like a book a month or something.

    SO glad you’re past the deadline and able to relax a bit. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately which means I actually eat worse. How in the world do you have time to make all the raw things you’ve been eating? Or is it just basic vegetables, etc. When I was high-raw I wasn’t as busy as I am now… I guess it’s all priorities though.

  • Moira

    Congrats on your tremendous achievement! I can’t wait to see the book in the stores and make that beautiful lasagna!

    I’m a huge fan of the MMMs. HUGE.

    I love reading books, too. But I read so much for work these days, and my time for pleasure reading is very limited. That said, bring on the book club, and I’ll learn from you all what I’ve missed.

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    Congrats congrats CONGRATS!! And I totally know what you mean about your body taking life’s stresses better while being on a living diet. (My zombie foot issue? The antibiotics I’m on usually wipe a person out, but my living diet is *literally* saving my happy gut flora!)

    Did I tell you congratulations yet? I don’t know how you balanced motherhood, partnerhood, work and writing a book all at once! Amazing.

    I’m currently reading Wild Fermentation and it’s AWESOME!! Becoming Raw is next on my list. I would love to see a book group on here. I think it would be a nice way to change things up for the summer.

    Oh yeah, your book is already listed on Amazon!

  • RK

    So congrats on book numero dos! Well done!

    I did partake in this months mission and went off of gluten. Mostly because I have an allergy to it but I wasn’t really committed to the idea until now. I feel SO much better since being off of it. That was until last weekends BBQ where I partook in a few too many mojitos and come to find out, after a colossal crash in energy that a lot of liquors have gluten! WTF! I guess I should have also taken up the book reading part on the MMM!

    I would love to be apart of a book club with fellow BA readers!

  • Becks

    Woo Hoo! School’s out for Summer!

    Book club would be nice, but in all honesty, if the MMM were gone, I would be incredibly sad. I’d probably cry. Just saying.

    Don’t let that deter you from taking the blog in a new direction though. All moves, are good moves.

  • Melissa

    oohhh! book club! I am reading Skinny Bitch and Becoming Vegan! Let’s discuss!

  • erosan

    Can’t stop to read the whole post and comments at this point, but I have to say congratulations girl!

    (and I’ll be back to read this, because judging from the look of that food, it is worth reading)

  • Joselle

    Congratulations on completing the manuscript. I love the book club idea.

  • sara thomas

    yay for you sayward! so psyched that you’ll be back to blogging more regularly too! so i am pretty new here, and have only been in on the bonzai aphrodite-ness since may. i love the idea of a book club, but also really enjoy the MMM’s. if you need a change, then maybe it’s a good time to try the book club to give yourself a break. you can always bring the MMM’s back & have some months be a book month & others be mission months.

    have you done an MMM that involves making a pact to do something that will help each of us become more environmentally-friendly? maybe it’s to buy only second hand that month, start a compost, walk or bike more to work, use only cloth market bags, start a recycling program in your workplace, or not give into sleep deprivation and cloth diaper more during the night!! (*points finger at self!) i know most of us already try real hard, but i know there is more that i could be doing! hopefully if we are able to stick with something for a month, it will become part of our normal routine afterwards!

    congrats to you again!!
    PS- when is your book coming out for vegan pregnancies?

  • Kate

    BOOK CLUB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “The Ethics of What We Eat”
    “Just Food”
    “The End of Food”

    …if, of course, you want a food theme :)

    As for me? I think I spent May 75% vegan. Not too shabby! Eating in it wasn’t too hard. Eating out, it’s SURPRISING how much crap has egg and/or dairy in it.

    I certainly would like to make the effort towards more vegan options, but, I don’t think I’ll ever cut meat/eggs/dairy out entirely, but it is certainly limited.

  • tara

    I’m super excited about a book club possibility here. I just saw “Wild Fermentation” laying at my aunt’s house the other day and read it in like one night. Soooo much great stuff in there. I still need a lot of influence and education in the diet area so I would love a monthly book suggestion on here. Congratulations on being your own person again =)

  • Valerie

    Ooh I like the idea of alternating MMM & a book club each month. I don’t have very much reading time so a book a month isn’t very feasible. However, announcing a book a month in advance to give us some time to get underway & then a discussion during the following month would be great! I too love the MMM but change is good, & this would be a way to get the best of both worlds.

  • whitney

    I must say, I am pretty jealous of the raw diet and how well you have been coping with the amount of stress your are under. Two things I am working on myself! :)


  • Meredith

    I have become obsessed with juicing! I bought myself a jelly strainer and have been coming up with some awesome concoctions (my fave: red bell pepper, celery, apple-yum city!!). Also, I made the Pecan Torte with Cashew Ganache and I’m currently eating my way through the second batch. Even my super picky son LOVES it! Score! Sayward, you are truly such an inspiration, and I just wanted to thank you for being so positive.

  • Meghan

    I don’t always participate (at least not in a timely fashion!) but I love the MMMs. They are probably my favorite part of the blog. Something that I like about them is how they are kind of… adaptable? Like the past month’s mission. You were being high raw. Some people added a daily smoothie. Some people checked out veganism. You tend to find a way that people can be involved, no matter what their current level of green/healthy/happy is. I’m not sure that a book club would always be able to accommodate this. I guess it depends on the book. Most of the missions are also things that don’t necessarily take a ton of time– reading a book is kinda a big time commitment. I mean… hanging my clothes to dry? Sure, I’m doing laundry anyway! Composting? Okay, it doesn’t take much extra time to walk out to the compost pile. Family cloth and sustainable menstrual products don’t add any time really to your general peein’ and menstratin’ schedule. Heck, the Master Cleanse SAVES time! Cooking! So time consuming! Plus I know I’m not the only one that sometimes gets a little behind on the MMM. Which is fine! But would be more of a trouble with a book club.

    I like the above suggestion to alternate MMM with a book club… and announcing the book early in the MMM month so that people have plenty of time to read. (And uh… maybe reminding us occasionally!) I think this would potentially increase the potential participation.

    As far as the past two months missions have gone… I find myself incredibly disinterested in anything to do with food lately… eating it or reading about it. Or thinking about it. I turn off the radio when a subway avocado commercial comes on. One of my favorite foods before now. Gosh, just typing the word makes me wanna hurl. Ugh! So my mission has been to uh… eat. Something. Anything! Hopefully in another few weeks I’ll be up for making friends with food again. ;-)

  • Meghan

    As far as MMM go, has there been one about some manner of exercising? Live food and tasty juices alone don’t a healthy human make! And making time for some daily or thrice-weekly or whatever healthy movement can be a challenge, even for the more determined among us! (note: I do not consider myself among the more determined!)

  • Jen

    Well done on the manuscript! And you’ve inspired me to experiment with some raw food – I definitely want to experience all that energy! I’m off to order Becoming Raw…

  • Neysa

    Congrats on the manuscript! Excellent that you’ve made it through as well as you have, you’re my hero! (No, really, I’m stressing over PhD deadlines at the moment, and you’re inspiring!) I think I need to start commenting more, and lurking less.

    This MMM has been great. In the last 2 months, I’ve almost entirely finished cutting meat out of my diet (can be a bit hard when eating at friend’s places, but they’re learning!), and I’ve gone 100% organic, rather than the 50%ish I was at previously. I would like to go high raw, but it’s the middle of winter, and quite difficult, so maybe summer.

    A book club sounds interesting, but I don’t know when I’d ever get a chance to read extra material, or even if I’d be able to get my hands on the books (Australian suppliers aren’t always great on diversity, and shipping costs $$$). I’m sure those of us that wouldn’t be able to read the book would find some way to participate though, perhaps asking lots of questions of those who were able!

  • Pat

    The book club idea is a good one, but I would truly miss the MMM’s. Like Meghan they are my favourite on your blog.I find them very inspiring. But I can understand if you run out of ideas after 20 of them, or feel like you need a break or something different. Sometimes its just time for changes..

  • Callie

    Congrats on the book! It sounds like you’ve had an absolutely crazy and rewarding couple of months, so congrats on that too!

    I’m a big fan of the MMMs, but I also like the idea of a book club. There’s a bunch of food books I’ve been wanting to read (Wild Fermentation comes to mind), and I’d be interested in any other non-fiction or even fiction stuff that we all might share in common.

    These last two months have been crazy for me too. I was in a condensed course getting ready for a year (at least) of training that’s going to be completely amazing, and my biggest eating goal was to keep on a schedule that was healthy for me, and plan ahead so I wasn’t eating crap. Instead of frozen mac’n'cheese for lunch everyday I brought seeds and fruit and pre-preped food for the night before. This really helped me get through and keep from feeling completely gross about basically sitting for 12+ hours every day.

    Glad you’re back with us, and excited to see some chill summer blogging happen!

  • Sayward

    Thank you all so much for the AWESOME feedback! And I think you guys came up with a really good plan, so I’m going with it. From now on:

    We will rotate, every other month, between a MMM and a Bonzai Book Club. I will announce the book when I announce the MMM, so you’ll have the whole month to know it’s coming and possibly read ahead or prepare. Next Monday will be the 21st MMM and I’ll also announce the book we’ll be reading the following month. Sound good?


    @ sarah – I mostly eat simple green smoothies, basic raw veggies with raw dip, and bigass salads – so yeah, super simple. But I’ve also been recipe testing for the book, so I’m always whipping up something fun or fancy. I cook, er, uncook, very late at night after Waits has gone to bed. =)

    @ Monika – Look who’s talking! I balance all that stuff the same way you balance it all with work and LSAT, a combo of working our asses off and also, “Ha, what balance?!” ;-)

    I’m on Amazon! Craaaazy!

    @ RK – Wow, congrats on going GF, I know how hard that can be. And man, it’s hiding in liquor, it’s hiding in soy sauce, it’s everywhere!

    @ sara thomas – Oh yes!, we have done some enviro-friendly MMMs in the past, but not recently. I think I’ll make the next MMM more in that vein. But if you’re interested, check the archives. We’ve done a “bike to work” one, a “reduce trash” one, the composting mission was the first MMM ever!There’s a bunch of them in there. =)

    Vegan Pregnancy book *should* be out in 6-8 weeks. Presale starting in 2 weeks or so. EEE! EXCITING!

    @ Kate – 75% is not shabby at all, that’s great! Congrats! Also, all those books are great suggestions, Just Food was at the top of my list of ideas. =)

    @ Meredith – Oh yay! and congrats! I love hearing that. =) Juicing is so awesome and I love that you’re having so much fun with it. Bet you feel great, too.

    @ Meghan – Great input, thanks lady. And I’m sorry food is no longer your friend. Hopefully you’ll be back to normal in a few short weeks!

    @ Jen – Exciting, good luck!

    @ Neysa – Welcome out of the lurk. =) Good luck on your deadline, and yes! More commenting!


    Thanks again EVERYONE for sharing your thoughts and opinions. I missed this community sooo much and it’s great to be back, brainstorming with you all. Much love!

  • Leslie

    Much love and gratitude for all your efforts, I believe you have reached far more people than you know and have changed their lives for the better. Congrats on finishing the book, can not wait to read it!! Love the idea of the book club, a great way to share knowledge with people who want to learn how to live a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle but are not sure where to begin. Random question, I am so wanting a Vita Mix but not sure which model to purchase, do you have a recommendation?? I value your opinion on pretty much everything!!!!!
    Should have been in Portland right now but had a family emergency which kept me in So Cal….looking like August is PDX time…Can not wait to get back to your awesome city!!!

  • Monique

    Well Sayward, first of all I want to congratulate you with your book. Hope you will ship it to The Netherlands? ;o)

    Second I have a question for you, I hope you don’t mind answering it?
    My body isn’t my friend anymore. I have (for instance) sarcoidosis in my longs, irritable bowel (intestine?) and rheumatism in my sternum (tietze syndrome). I really believe that I can feel and function a lot better by not eating meat anymore and do/make a lot food by myself. The hardest part for me is ‘actually doing it’.
    My question for you: did you get this way of eating along with your growing up, or did you learn it yourself? Did you become a vegan at once or have you also been struggling along?
    My first goal is to make myself (and family) one vegan meal per week to get used to it. What do you think. Could that be a good start?
    I have to say that I am ‘recovering’ from giving birth to my second, so my body isn’t in ‘old’ position anyway.

    Hope you don’t mind answering this. Help wanted!

  • Colleen

    I am exceited about your cookbook! I can’t wait for it to hit Amazon. Is this the first book or the second?

    I would love to review the book on Cheap Wine and Cookies when it comes out. Let me know if you’d be willing to do a short interview to that end.

  • Natasja

    congrats on your amazing efforts first up! second, OMG *drool* I NEED THOSE VEGAN-CHEESECAKES.

  • Selina

    Late to comment, but congratulations to you and wow, do you make RAW sound compelling to someone who has been dragging lately!

    My book this month was Becoming Vegan…didn’t quite finish it, but I read Crazy Sexy Diet and the China Study too, so I consider myself a success :D

    Love the idea of a book club/MMM on alternating months!

  • Sayward

    @ Leslie – It looks like they recently switched up their line! I have the standard 5200 and of course, I adore it. The TurboBlend VS looks pretty rad though! But they are all going to be spectacular, it just kind of depends on what you want to do with it.

    @ Monique – Hey lady! Well, it sounds like you have a lot going on between the health issues and just having given birth. I think the most important thing to remember is that, YES, *any* start is a good start! So good for you. =)

    Some people go all the way overnight, others take a long time to transition. It just depends on what works for you and your situation. Some people like to change over one meal at a time. So, perhaps you make it your goal to eat vegan breakfast every day. Do that for as long as you need. Then when t’s totally comfortable and normal, move on to lunch, then eventually dinner (and snacks and dessert). I think this can make transitioning a lot more manageable.

    Good luck with everything, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help!

  • Monique

    Hi Sayward, thank you so much for answering. I know you are so bussy. I really appriciate it.

    Thank you for your (simple) advice. I know (now I think it through) that my breakfast is already vegan ;o) so my next step will be lunch. See.. thanks for this real eye-opener to me ;o)


    Maybe.. maybe some day.. ;o)

    Have a lovely week!