By Daniela Degrassi
Want a perfect bridal glow on your wedding day? Then stick around for this exclusive interview with Natalie Norman, passionate Raw Vegan Food teacher and plant-based living expert who makes raw vegan nutrition not only EASY but also DELICIOUS and FUN.
Natalie is an Advanced Raw Food Nutrition Educator certified by the world-renowned Living Light Culinary Institute where she studied with top educators in the science behind raw foods. Additionally, she is a Certified Sports Nutritionist and certified in Plant-Based Nutrition from the esteemed T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and completed her Raw Food Instructor training under one of the industry’s first pioneers, Nomi Shannon. Natalie obtained her Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Denver and is deeply research-oriented as well as a stickler for high-quality information which she applies to her approach in teaching.
As a busy mom, Natalie makes raw food work in the real world every day. If she can make it work while juggling the demands of raising active kids and working full-time, we thought she’ll be the right person to ask how brides can best prepare their bodies to a healthy wedding look during the busy months that anticipate their special day.
But first, let’s ask Natalie what inspired her to live a vegan lifestyle…
I originally went vegan at age 14 for ethical reasons, but I had no idea how to do it. I made every mistake possible, which often resulted in me feeling lethargic, gaining weight, or even going back to eating dairy products. I really struggled. Then as an adult I gained a substantial amount of weight while pregnant. My appetite was out of control and the foods I was eating packed on an unbelievable amount of redundant fat and swelling.
After the birth of my second child, I was unrecognizable to myself in the mirror, unhealthy, and depressed. I knew something had to change, but I wasn’t sure what to do. That’s when I learned about the raw food diet. I began eating nothing but fresh raw fruits, vegetables, sprouted nuts, seeds, and herbs. I finally dropped my excess weight and also achieved the kind of robust, powerful energy I had always hoped for as a vegan.
Natalie, there is a lot of misconception about Vegan Food out there. So many Vegan options are not that healthy and give the Vegan Diet a bad name. What are the foods that you’d recommend for a detox plant based diet for brides that want to be healthier and skin ready for a perfect wedding day?
The key to achieving glowing, radiant health on a plant-based diet is to stick to real food, not processed junk food. I always say, just because it’s vegan, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy! Don’t make the mistakes I did relying on processed, fried, or salty vegan foods that will only serve to drain your energy and leave you looking bloated, puffy, or overweight.
When you shop for groceries, the vast majority of your time should be spent in the produce section. Thriving on a plant-based diet means keeping your focus on plants, plain and simple. The good news is that doing so is not only easy, but extremely delicious, too!
Raw plants are a wonderful way to prepare brides to look and feel their healthiest for their special day. A diet rich with whole fruits and vegetables nourishes you from the inside out. Fiber and water in raw plants help to cleanse your body while providing you with excellent nutrition to keep you hydrated and energized without any harsh stimulants or artificial chemicals.
Some examples of foods that can help you get that perfect wedding day glow are fresh raw fruits like: Melons, grapes, cherries, mangoes, berries, and peaches. I often eat simple fruit meals for breakfast to start my day and I also snack on fruit freely throughout the day.
In addition to whole fruit, I am also a big advocate of green smoothies and fresh green juice. Smoothies are whole fruits and vegetables emulsified in a blender. They are a fantastic way to get in ample daily servings of both fruit and vegetables. If you want the benefits of vegan foods like kale and chard but you’re not quite a fan of eating them by themselves just yet, try blending them in a smoothie with bananas and berries. Just be sure you remove the stems, as they are often tough and bitter-tasting. Add as much water as needed to achieve a consistency that suits your tastes. You can make green smoothies in advance the night before and then use them for easy grab-and-go nutrition.
Here is a simple green smoothie recipe that includes celery and pineapple. Celery contains bioflavonoids called luteolin and apigenin, which reduce inflammation while also protecting against cancer. Pineapple is loaded with an enzyme called bromelain, which is a natural anti-inflammatory. In addition to these healthy properties, they also taste great together, making them perfect for helping brides prepare for their wedding day.
6-7 large stalks of celery (leaves and bottoms cut off)
2 bananas, preferably frozen
2.5 cups of pineapple, preferably frozen
4 cups of water or as needed
Blend in high-speed blender. Store your smoothies in glass jars with plastic lids for maximum freshness and convenience.
In contrast to green smoothies with high fruit content, green juice will be mostly vegetables, and most of the plant fiber gets removed during the juicing process. A simple green juice to hydrate and nourish the bride-to-be can include cucumbers, celery, lemon, and a little bit of apple for flavor. Because much of the fiber has been removed, green juice serves as a highly concentrated source of vegetable nutrients with a minimal digestive burden. Here is one of my favorite green juice recipes that is perfect for brides preparing for their wedding day, my famous Bloat-Buster Green Juice!
3 heads of celery
2 large lemons, peeled
2 small apples (or one large)
Juice all ingredients in a juicer, strain if necessary to remove excess pulp, and enjoy!
Lastly, raw vegetables and herbs like zucchini, kale, lettuce, collards, chard, celery, basil, parsley, and cilantro provide delicious building blocks for raw food meals. For example, this simple and delicious zucchini pasta is a fast and easy go-to raw vegan recipe that can be customized in unlimited ways according to your palate. To create the dish pictured below, make noodles using a spiral slicer, set them aside, then chop up fresh basil and tomato. Toss everything together with a little lemon juice for a huge portion of healthy pasta that is 100% guilt-free.
Natalie, on the wedding day, the bride and her party are so busy dolling up that often end up eating junk food. What are the healthy alternatives to keep them light but well nourished?
Keep plenty of juicy fresh fruit available to you on your wedding day. Fruit requires no preparation; it’s truly the original “fast food.” Plus, it keeps you alert and glowing without leaving you feeling heavy or bloated. Sweet grapes, cantaloupe, bananas, pineapple, or watermelon would be great choices! My advice to all brides and everyone involved in this magical day: Remember, YOU are just as special as your memorable day, so treat yourself with the very best nutrition possible in order to look and feel your very best and.. picture perfect!
Any other super foods that should be a must on the wedding day?
Depending on when the wedding is being held (day or evening), I might suggest enjoying fresh colorful salads in addition to fruit. On a raw vegan diet, all fruits and vegetables are “super foods,” so I want every bride to know that she can achieve radiant health and beauty without any expensive gimmick foods. That said, if she is feeling romantic and wants a little perk, she might try a banana smoothie made with raw cacao nibs and a little bit of maca powder, both of which are known to enhance libido and boost one’s mood. I am also a fan of drinking E3Live algae, which is another known mood enhancer and can uplift brain function. I would only drink algae if you have built up to it over time leading up to the wedding day, though. I would not introduce anything new on the actual day, or the night before. I would use 30-90 days prior to the wedding to begin incorporating the recipes and tips I’ve mentioned here.
For more raw vegan recipes, ideas, and support, I invite brides to connect with me through my website! And to all of you lovely brides-to-be: Enjoy your beautiful wedding day! I wish you all the very best happy, healthy lives.
A feminist and independent spirit since she could remember (her childhood heroines were Pippi Longstockings and Katharine Hepburn) Daniela Degrassi found her creative outlet as a lifestyle photographer, working mainly in Northern California where she lived for 15 years before moving back to her native Italy to continue to be her autistic sister’s primary caregiver. Vegan since 2014, she found a perfect way to carry her message of compassion while celebrating her love for the wedding industry launching The Kind Bride in February 2018.