Saturday, October 31, 2009

Boston Vegetarian Society Food Fest

I attended the Boston Vegetarian Society 14th Annual Food Fest. Last night and today I volunteered. My duties included putting table coverings on the exhibitor tables; unloading and pricing books; copying materials at a copy shop; helping patrol the recycle receptacles, refilling the give-away basket, and selling water. There were a few other stray tasks I did along the way.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I especially appreciated hearing Dr. Michael Gregor present. Each year he culls through thousands of articles on health and nutrition, and selects tasty morsels that he develops into a quiz. He rewards a few of the audience members who are clever enough to get the answers right with a disc containing some of the latest findings. How I covet that disc!

I also purchased several recipe books at half price or less. My bounty included:
Celebrating our Raw Nature, by Dorit
Healthful Cuisine, 2nd edition by Anna Maria Clement with Chef Kelly Serbonich
The Raw Gourmet by Nomi Shannon and
Alive in 5, Angela Elliott.

I also picked up a DVD, Eating, which first prompted me to become vegan.

Already I devoured the recipe books eyeing several good choices to try. I met a fellow at the Fest who is buff. He said he ate vegan but couldn't go raw because he enjoys cooking too much. What a hoot! I retorted that I've never had so much fun preparing living foods, as it really gets my creative juices flowing.

There were lots of foods to sample and purchase. Seeing all the people munching away made me hungry. A few times I took a bite of some of the cooked fare. Surprisingly I was immediately aware of heavy and dense was the food. I looked forward to coming home this evening and indulging in my own clean living meal (Thailicious noodles). I used kelp noodles as the base.

Soak kelp noodles in alkaline water (add lemon or lime to plain water)
In the meantime, blend cashews (1 cup and/or peanuts).
Add juice from a lemon,
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar,
1 inch of fresh ginger,
1 inch or so of lemon grass,
1T. coconut oil,
pepper, salt to taste.

I also have to add some water because the sauce gets a bit thick. I pour it over the noodles, which I cut into small pieces, and then top with fresh veggies. Today I had carrots, celery, peas, and corn. Yummy! It's an easy dish to prepare and I love eating it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Living Foods and Weight Loss

I read a fascinating statement from Raw Food Right Now

I'm glad this subject is being addressed and I look forward to the interview with Victoria Botenka in a few weeks.

For those who don't know who Victoria is, she has been a proponent of green smoothies for many years. As an immigrant to this country, she and her family suffered from many health challenges, which as a concerned mother, she sought to overcome. So she asked people who "looked" healthy to tell her what they did to get that way. After many unsatisfactory encounters, one woman told her about eating raw foods. Thus started Victoria on the road to healing her family of their various maladies.

Later she did extensive research on the eating habits of primates and developed what she called green smoothies. This is a beverage made from dark leafy green vegetables such as chard, spinach, kale plus fruit, often banana, apple, pear. The bitterness of the greens are offset by the sweetness of the fruit, thus making this drink both yummy and beneficial.

Victoria lost weight by eliminating cooked foods in her diet. Yet today she is a woman of substance. What has happened? People in the raw foods community are curious and concerned.

I've been a person who has been overweight since age 5. As you can imagine, I've tried a lot of food plans and even took hormone shots as a teenager to help me lose weight. Invariably, whatever plan I followed failed to change my lifestyle for the good. In fact I often went on a diet so that I could return to eating "normally". Normal, of course, was what caused me to gain weight!

As a child I didn't allow the extra weight to keep me sedentary. I was a tom boy growing up and have been an active adult. I've often used exercise to lose weight and keep it down with only so-so results.

I'll also mention that I've been a member of 12-step recovery (Overeaters Anonymous) for over 23 years. So I've tried the gamut of approaches to be rid of excess pounds.

A year ago I began exercising with specific workout programs offered through BeachBody. Slowly I lost weight and also changed dimensions. Still the scale would barely budge in the downward direction.

This past July I decided to go 100% uncooked, unprocessed, whole foods. I had been eating a vegan food plan for 3-4 years, drinking Green Smoothies (after hearing Victoria speak), and thought the leap was manageable, especially during the summer.

The first month I hardly lost any weight. Mind you, I'm exercising 6 times a week quite vigorously with P90. The second month my weight loss began in earnest. I now weigh less than I did in high school and am thrilled. I've dropped about 15 pounds since July, which is a huge accomplishment for me.

I share this story because body size is quite peculiar and individual. I doubt that I will ever be "thin" and am exceedingly pleased with how I look and feel on this living foods diet (I prefer this term to raw, which sounds unsanitary and unsafe!).

One of the things that attracted me to this food plan was the fact that I didn't have to measure, count or weigh food items. However, this may be a myth and delusion. Nuts and oils are dense and high in calories. People eating 100% raw can choose unhealthy living foods and eat in excess, which could account for their (surplus) weight.

I'm still a work in progress. I'm curious to know whether I'll continue to lose weight with this living food diet, and whether I gain weight if I add back cooked food. A day at a time I'm choosing to follow this plan and continue exercising. For me this combination seems to work. If you've struggled with weight, what have you found that works for you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Did you know that your body is more than 70% water?

If you are a person who is actively working out, you need to extra water to flush away toxins that are released while exercising as well as to replenish the fluids lost.

Now-a-days, people are turning to bottled water because of the concerns about the public drinking water. Some of the various chemicals used to treat water have been shown to be carcinogens, substances linked to cancer.

Yet bottled water has its drawbacks too. First it may be of no better quality than tap water. In fact some of the distributors of bottled water actually get it from the public supply.

The bottles themselves contribute to environmental pollution. Landfills are overflowing with plastic debris. Some cities have actually banned bottled water.

Plus, are you aware that the plastic may leach into the water contaminating it? Those plastic bottles that are extremely flexible are the biggest culprits. So you should never refill your plastic containers.

And then there's the cost. How much are you spending for water that has a fancy name?

Three things to consider about water. First its pH level. Our bodies operate best in a slightly alkaline environment, 7.2-7.4. Most bottled waters test in the high acidic range of 2.0-4.0. By the way, soda is a huge offender.

Second, the ability of the body to absorb water. Micro-clusters enable the body to readily take in water so that you don't feel bloated after drinking a glass.

Third, the oxidation impact. Oxidation to the body is like rust to a car; it corrodes it. In the case of the body, it contributes to aging and disease. Most bottled waters score high on this scale, just the opposite of what is desired.

I've recently come across the rolls royce of water. Rather than a filter, it's been licensed as medical equipment in Japan. The water produced can range from 2.5 to 11.5 on the pH scale.

At the low end, highly acid water is beneficial for sanitizing. At the high end, highly alkaline water is excellent for removing stains, dirt, and other cleaning tasks.

Mildly acid water makes the best toner for the face and body. It also conditions hair.

Mildly alkaline water is excellent to drink. It completely hydrates the body at the cellular level. Without changing caloric intake, people who drink mildly alkaline water are reporting weight loss. Since I'm already losing weight by eating a living foods diet, I asked my housemate to experiment by drinking this alkaline water exclusively for the next week. I'll let you know her results.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seasonal eating

I attended a raw food potluck event last night that featured Dorit. She has written many books and is well known to the raw food community. She spoke on raw eating during the winter season.

Many people recommend herbs and spices that warm the system: ginger, cloves, garlic, cayenne pepper, to name a few. I once worked with a nutritionist and author, Hale Baycu Shatz who taught me to eat according to the season. In the winter, root vegetables are in abundance.

As a resident of chilly New England, I was wondering whether I would remain raw with winter approaching. As friends would inquire about my progress (over 100 days eating living foods), I would answer that I kept making my decision to remain raw on a daily basis. I might let go once the cold weather was constant.

This last week the temperatures dropped and on Sunday it actually snowed (didn't stick). If you saw or heard about the Patriots' game, then you're aware of the snow. Yet, I continued to eat raw living foods. I haven't been cold and haven't desired hot foods.

I have had some sips of tea. And I do boil and steep my tea. Yet, it is not a staple of my diet. Living foods are.

What I heard Dorit say is that external circumstances do not have power over individual decisions. I have the power. I'm in control. I can use the coldness of the weather to alter my choice or not.

She gave some great suggestions about being with the weather. Surprisingly I had already put into effect some of those very ideas. She recommended changing colors, going from the cool light colors and fabrics of summer to dark and heavy colors of winter. I had already transitioned by changing something as simple as the sheets on my bed.

I liked her observation of how animals behave during the winter. Many hibernate. They slow done their activities and function solely during daylight hours. She suggested that we consider hibernating too in the sense of going inward and being with oneself. Also, we might rise at day break and go to bed at dusk.

She recommended self care that allowed for introspection and nourishment. Massages, saunas, baths, yoga, meditation.

Her approach is to adopt a raw food lifestyle, not just a raw food plan. This makes sense to me.

One other thought she reinforced was how language shapes us. We can use language to emphasize the cold or emphasize the warmth, emphasize powerlessness or emphasize personal power. Do I tell myself that I can't possibly eat this cold salad or do I reflect on taking in the sunshine from this produce?

I drove two friends to the event and on the way home we talked about Dorit's message. An epiphany came to me. Rather than raw foods, I'm into living foods, much better term. I have power to choose my words and thus shape my experience.

This season, I eat living foods. I experience the change in light and temperature and respond accordingly. I am alive!

Monday, October 19, 2009


As a vegan and now raw foodist, I'm aware of the concern about whether I'm getting all the nutrients I need. Yet, as I continue to read, I find this topic filled with contradictory information. As a result, I'm unable to figure out what's my best course of action. I'm curious to know what others are thinking and doing.

Ten years ago I began taking quality supplements. My diet was poor and I wasn't doing much in the way of enhancing my health. So the supplements made a big difference. Several conditions were relieved and I was convinced that supplements were beneficial.

However, as I began to observe others, I realized that some people did not get the same good results as I did from supplementation. How could I make sense of this ? -- especially because I thought that everyone needed certain ones and our food was deficient in providing them. Slowly my mind has opened to the idea that each person is a unique individual with unique biology. What works for one person doesn't necessarily translate into the same results for another.

When I faced a health challenge 5 years ago (broken wrist that required surgery; still can't make a fist or bend the last digits in my fingers), I searched for and experienced many alternative healing options. Some made a big difference; others less so. I've conclude that if a person truly desires healing, then keep looking and trying out various approaches. There are some excellent ways to improve and maintain health. Just be open to them!

So here I am, 3 months into eating 100% raw, wondering whether the cold weather will derail this food plan, and trying to figure out how to optimize my self care. I exercise regularly; I eat raw foods in abundance; I drink alkaline water; I take ionic foot baths twice a week; I meditate daily; I pursue other spiritual practices. Should I supplement? What about B12?

What do you do to optimzie health?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wedded Bliss

I attended a wedding reception for Gogi Girl and Frankie G. Although I "know" these people through their blogs and the raw food community, I had never met them until this afternoon. I was thrilled to be a part of their special day and had fun preparing my contributions.

Raw Broccoli Salad
My own creation

2 bunches of broccoli cut into small pieces
1 minced onion
2 large carrots chopped in small pieces

1 c. cashews
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 lemon
1 c. water
3-4 cloves of garlic
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
sea salt to taste
Blend dressing and pour over broccoli mixture.

Raw Tabouli
adapted from Matt Amsden

1 large bunch parsley or as much as you like ( I used 2)
1 cup chopped tomato, more or less (from my garden, the last of the cherry tomatoes)
1/2 cup hemp seeds, more or less (1.5 cups, which I soaked for 30 minutes)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup lemon juice (3 lemons through the Champion Juicer)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
garlic cloves, put through garlic press to taste (4 large cloves)

In food processor chop parsley
Transfer to bowl and mix in remaining ingredients.
Add dressing.

Raw Hawaiian Balls

2 cups raisins
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup coconut
cacao powder

Put raisins through blank juice so that they're mashed.
Add sesame seeds and half of the coconut.
Form into balls.
Roll balls into coconut and/or cacao powder.
Freeze and enjoy

The wedding cake, which mother Aimee ( made, was a 4-layer beauty decorated with gogi berries. The berries formed a heart on the top layer! How appropriate and special.

The groom made a short speech before cutting the wedding cake with his bride. As he looked around at the 75-100 guests who filled the rooms, he commented that although he didn't know most of the people gathered, he felt the warmth as we were all part of the raw community at that moment. Yes, one of our own got married and we celebrated the occasion.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Soup's on

Someone posted a website today with raw food holiday recipes. Immediately I went prowling on that site as well as several others, copying down various recipes along the way. While I don't intend to deny people their royalties for the food preparation books, I tend to be frugal. I love the various raw food blogs available where people so generously and freely share their recipes.

As the weather gets colder, I'm attracted to soups. This one sounds particularly yummy.

Marvellous Mushroom Soup

1/2 c. water
1/4 c. almond butter
1 1/2 c. mushrooms, quartered
1 T. Liquid Aminos
pinch of salt
4 T. finely chopped mushrooms

In a blender, combine the water and almond butter, and blend.
Add the quartered mushrooms, liquid aminos and salt. Blend until smooth.
Warm in a double boiler so that the temperature doesn't rise above 115 degrees. (If you dip your finger into the bowl and it's pleasantly warm, that's sufficient heat without killing the living enzymes.)
Pour into individual bowls and top with finely chopped mushrooms. Yields 1 cup.

Here's a creamy version of Mushroom soup for raw foodists.

Raw Creamy Mushroom Soup

1 cup torn Chanterelle mushrooms (they pull apart like "chicken")
1-2 T. olive oil
1/2 ounce dried mushrooms
1 cup water
4-5 large fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 T. dark miso paste
4 cups water
sliced green onions tops (garnish)
olive oil for garnish

Take the torn Chanterells and marinate them with a little olive oil. Place them on a Teflex sheet and dehydrate for about 1 hour at 100*.

While the Chanterelles are in the dehydrator, soak your dried mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes. In another bowl place the sliced shitake mushrooms and miso paste. Pour the now reconstituted mushrooms along with the soaking water over this mixture. Massage it with your fingers to loosen up the miso paste. Let this mixture now stand for 30 minutes or so.

Take this mixture, pour into your blender and blend it along with the 4 cups of water until smooth. Add more water if the flavor is too strong. Pour into individual soup bowls, top with the chanterells and garnish with some green onion tops and a little drop or two of olive oil.

When I was a child, the first recipe I asked my mother to teach me to make was beef-barley-mushroom soup. It was easy to do, and I have since made countless variations. If I stop being 100% raw this winter, it will probably be with this soup or one like it where I substitute lentils for barley.

Beef-Barley-Mushroom Soup

4-8 cups water
beef bones (short ribs are plain knuckle bones work swell)
1-4 bay leaves
1-2 t. salt, depending on your taste buds
1 c. barley (or half barley, half yellow or green split pea)
1 pound mushrooms cut
2-4 carrots
1-3 stalks of celery
1 onion (more or less to your taste)
Your favorite seasons (salt, pepper, liquid smoke)

Put soup bones into a pot with water and a bay leaf plus salt. Bring to a boil and skim the surface. Now add the barley, or a combination of peas and barley. These absorb water like crazy, so be sure you started with enough or add more as needed. Once the barley is soft, about 40 minutes, add vegetables as well as other seasonings.

Stay warm.
To your good health!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flu shots

Have you thought about the flu? Have you thought about getting a flu shot?

How could such ideas not filter through your brain given all the publicity for months now. I have not thought about the flu or gotten a flu shot for many years. At least 10. That's because it was over 10 years ago that I began taking quality supplements to boost my immune system. With a strong, vigorous immune system, the probability of getting the flu is practically nil.

In addition to taking supplements, I do many things to enhance my health. I meditate and exercise almost daily. I watch my diet and select mainly raw, whole foods. These practices are highly related to remaining well.

Today I came across this website and found the research and comments of interest. Perhaps you will too.

Here's to good health!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


My grandson stayed with me this past weekend. His teachers have let us know that he is highly distracted in the classroom, which is probably one of the major reasons he doesn't complete his work and fails to retain information. His mom, my adopted daughter, needed a break from being a single parent. Thus grandma (me) became the temporary solution in their lives.

Since Emmanuel lives about 90 minutes away, we had ample time to chat as we drove to and from. We also had time throughout the visit. I tried to balance fun with school work. The hour or so we spent on his studies gave me great insights as to how this boy of 13 is processing information.

So I asked him what success meant to him. He first replied that having a good job and family would signify success. I had him back up and explain what success meant for a 7th grader. He answered that he would pass his tests and courses. "Just pass", I inquired?

In listening to his answer I heard that he has wishes, not dreams. Wishes are things that are desirable but out of reach. It would take a miracle to obtain them. Dreams are also desirable conditions that can come true with a plan and hard work.

What I realized is that Emmanuel lacked dedication. He wants to do well in school. He wants to do well playing basketball. Yet he is not devoting the time and effort to achieve that end. I defined the concept of dedication and explained that when a person is dedicated, he/she is highly focused and most of their energies and resources are devoted to that task.

I hope that by adding the word dedication to his vocabulary that Emmanuel may begin to realize his dreams rather than continue to wish things for the future. Before returning him to his mother, I gave him a card with a simple message about success.

When you change your mind, your change everything.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Walking and talking

I just returned from a 90 minute walk with an old friend. Did you ever notice how easy it is to walk and talk? It just seems like a natural process to move the legs and move the jaws.

Today was a beautiful, crisp, clear, partly sunny day in New England. The leaves are changing gradually and I doubt they'll reach peak this weekend, which is traditionally the designated time for visitors to flock here. Perhaps further north they'll enjoy the brilliant scarlets, eye-popping oranges, and dazzling yellows coloring the foliage.

Judy is an old friend and I almost lost this relationship. I have the mind of a chronic alcoholic, which means that in the past I often distorted reality and harbored resentments. I tended to get peeved when things didn't go my way and my usual retort was sarcasm, sighing, eye rolling, and the like. In other words, I lacked good communication skills.

Fortunately I've been working to recover from a seeming hopeless condition of mind and body. In particular, I own my past behavior and am making amends for having hurt people. I hurt Judy with my behavior, not deliberately, unintentionally with my unexpressed displeasure. Although I did speak with her a while back and identified my poor conduct, she was already so distressed that she was ready to let the relationship go. In fact, she needed a break.

When I saw her a year ago, she made it clear that our relationship was on hold. So I backed off and had no contact at all during the year. Then we saw each other during the High Holiday service, and she indicated a softening.

Rather than risk more discomfort, I waited for her to initiate a call. She did and we planned this walk. I thought we might talk about what happened, but as it turned out, our conversation never wondered down that path. Perhaps in the future it might. I'll take my cues from her.

What I learned is that I cannot take our relationship, any relationship, for granted. A friend is a gift, a precious gift. We choose our friends, and have to earn their friendship in return. I hope that I can maintain and grow my relationship with Judy. Here's to another walk and talk.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Creative Juices and a Food Dehydrator

I'm thrilled. My new Vegikiln 8-drawer dehydrator arrived 2 days ago and I've been running it almost non-stop. Currently I've got kale chips, onion rings, and granola bars drying out. Yesterday I made 2 types of crackers using chia seeds as the base. I also whipped up a batch of luscious lemon cookies. Yum, yum.

Since deciding to eat raw, I've discovered a whole new world of food preparation. It's allowed me to experiment and let my creative juices flow. For example, the granola bars. I started with a base of rolled oats. I'm not sure if they are raw; however, I did see a recipe on a raw food blog that used this ingredient.

Next I added chia seeds and water. When chia seeds are soaked in water, they form a gel that is sticky. This holds ingredients together. That's the basis of the cracker recipe. Start with chia seeds and water; then add other ingredients.

I looked in the pantry and added various nuts: brazil nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds. I also put in raw cacao nibs, coconut (left over from the luscious lemon cookies that call for cashews, coconut, lemon and agave). Can you believe? I actually started with a whole coconut and split it capturing the milk and then shredding the meat.

For extra nutrition I added coconut oil, which I placed in warm water to melt (it's solid at room temperature), and for sweetener, raw honey and agave. Cinnamon was my main seasoning. Finally, gogi berries gave it color and more flavor.

There were so many other ingredients I might have used. That's what makes it fun to prepare raw foods. Next time the batch will be entirely different.

I especially enjoy being able to taste the mixture before it is ready for eating. Because it's raw, I can actually alter the flavors and make it taste right. No guesswork. The granola bars are an easy thing to pack when traveling and I'll be out of town tomorrow.

The new dehydrator is fast and quiet. What kinds of things do you like to make in a dehydrator?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Food Matters

I was fortunate to attend a screening of the documentary, Food Matters ( It was powerful. Sadly most of the people raised in the US are unaware how our attitudes and ideas about food (and medication) have been shaped by society. We weren't born to eat the highly processed packed and fast foods that make up the majority of the American diet. We're killing ourselves with our food choices. Just look around and see the sickness that increases daily. Note the number of children born with challenges. How do we account for this? It's lifestyle, plain and simple.

I'm learning that asking a person to make changes in their food choices is more controversial and more highly resisted than almost any other activity. We fiercely hold onto our old ideas about what to eat. We lament that "it tastes good." Is the tongue the only part of our body we consult?

Last week I learned how to test whether the body wants a particular food or medication. The technique is to hold the item against the solar plexis with both hands, close your eyes, then inhale deeply and hold. Now exhale slowly. Let your body become a pendulum. Does it move forward? This means your body desires the item. Does it move backward? This means your body repels the item. Occasionally, no movement occurs, which means the item is neutral, neither good nor bad for you. However, you can always make more positive choices.

You can do this same technique to determine the dose of medication or supplements.

Back to the movie. According to many of the guest speakers, eliminating cooked food and adding more vegetables to our diets would enhance health. For people who are struggling with life-threatening illness, taking this step immediately could save their lives. How many of us are willing to do this without having our backs against the wall?

A few years back I saw a different document, Eating ( It changed my life. After hearing that every human disease could be traced to eating animal products and that each disease could be reduced or reversed by avoiding them, the choice was easy. I became a vegan that very day. The movie also documented the cruel treatment of animals raised for food including dairy cows and chickens. If you're a pet lover, think carefully about your food choices.

Food Matters makes a strong case for personal responsibility. Once you know the facts, would you hurt yourself and shorten your lifespan? I won't.