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Photo Journal of Seattle, Raw Food & Forest Fun

We are deep into late summer. Autumn sneaks just around the corner, teasing us with amber and crimson leaves that dangle from Sonoma County’s twisted old trees. Fall has come early this year, and I couldn’t be happier. I love this time of year; I love autumn and everything it embodies. But, before I cast my farewell kisses to our beloved sweet summer, I would like to share one of my highlights from the season of the sun.

In August, near Lammas, I traveled to Seattle to visit friends and family. As you may know, I used to live in Western Washington, in Seattle and in Bellingham. I love this entire area, for it brims with woodland magic, luscious gardens, deep azul waters and the mystical, tree-clad San Juan Islands. The whole area feels like the womb of Mother Earth- vibrant, abundant, beautiful and pregnant with life.

My time spent in this area was chock full of raw food gatherings, spiritual events and forest frolickings- everything I love! Here is a photo journal, a small taste, of my time in the Pacific Northwest with my spirit sister, Giacinta.

*Note: Most of these photos were taken either by me or my dear friend, Giacinta, with our iPhone cameras. Enjoy the perfect and a few not-so-perfect shots of some very perfect moments. 🙂

 

First off, I’d like to say thank you to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) for offering raw food snacks. I found vegan raw bars and kombucha while waiting for my plane. A great way to start my travels off right!

Raw Food Snacks at SFO

Raw Food Snacks at SFO

Kombucha at SFO

Kombucha at SFO

 

On my first day in Seattle, synchronicity would have it that a recipe for a Raw Vegan Orange Chocolate Torte should fall into our laps. Of course, we went right out, bought the ingredients and got to work. This is it…

Raw Vegan Orange Chocolate Torte

Raw Vegan Orange Chocolate Torte

Garnished with Shaved Chocolate and Curled Orange Rind

Garnished with Shaved Chocolate and Curled Orange Rind

The original recipe for this torte can be found HERE. We made the exact recipe, tasted it, and decided it needed more. To this recipe we increased the raw cacao then added carob, cinnamon, cayenne and vanilla for depth of flavor. We also exchanged the agave for maple syrup. In hindsight, dates would have been the best choice for sweetener. At some point in the future, I will remake this torte and post a proper recipe. Until then, know it was delicious and made a grand appearance at a few raw food gatherings with some very happy friends.

Shana & Giacinta in Orange Chocolate Bliss

Shana & Giacinta in Orange Chocolate Bliss

 

During one of our in-state journeys, we made our way to North Bend to pick fresh organic blueberries from Bybee Farms nestled at the base of gorgeous Mount Si. (Pictured Below). If you are in the North Bend area and would like to learn more about how you can pick your own berries, click HERE.

Mount Si

A field of Blueberries at Mount Si

This day was one of my favorite days, a highlight indeed. I was surrounded by rows and rows of blueberry bushes and clear skies filled with sunbeams, bumble bees and the sweet scent of fruits and leaves all coddled by the majestic Mount Si. It was incredibly soul-filling!

Organic Blueberries

Organic Blueberries

Shana Picking Organic Blueberries

Shana Picking Organic Blueberries

If you could zoom in on my Café Gratitude shirt, you would see that it reads, “What are you grateful for?” My answer, “Blueberries!” 🙂

A Bounty of Organic Blueberries

A Bounty of Organic Blueberries

As you can imagine, we ate blueberries for days. This is one of the meals we enjoyed among friends, each one of us contributing fruits and vegetables for this shared offering of fresh picked garden greens, blueberries, mango salsa, avocado and zucchini in pesto. Delish!

Summer Foods

Summer Foods

 

We were serendipitously blessed by a full moon during my time in Seattle. I love full moon energy and love to channel this powerful force during my meditations and healing Reiki sessions. With this being said, we participated in a full moon group meditation to honor Mother Moon in the height of summer as symbolized by my favorite flower, the sunflower. This is the candlelit, celestial altar that centered the meditation.

Full August Moon Altar

Full August Moon Altar

 

Another amazing evening we shared, and one of my top highlights, was a shamanic full moon drum circle at New Earth Farm in Redmond, WA. (Click HERE to learn more about New Earth Farm) This drum circle took place on private property that held an organic garden and lots of deeply sacred energy. Snuggled in a ring of redwoods and lush ferns, surrounding a fire pit was a circle of stone seats. The fire was lit; we each took our places, called the corners, and drummed, rattled and rolled into the warm moonlit night. The energy that was generated from our primal music and our collective, harmonious presence was magical and not to be forgotten any time soon! I hold the healing vibration and memory of this evening near and dear to my heart.

Drum Circle Venue

Drum Circle at New Earth Farm – Photo by Tom Armstrong

 

When we weren’t gathering for potlucks, meditation or drumming, we were out and about in Seattle, eating. Three great vegan restaurants I would recommend in Seattle are Café Flora, Chaco Canyon, and Jodee’s. Here are some of the dishes from each restaurant…

Café Flora

Café Flora

This was one of the best things I ate the entire time I was in Seattle. This is Café Flora’s Beet Gnocchi in Pesto with an Herbed Nut Cream, (pictured above) which I shared with Giacinta and my sister, Angel. This was ridiculously delicious and I couldn’t recommend it more!

Chaco Canyon

Chaco Canyon

Above is a photo of some of the offerings at Chaco Canyon in Seattle. We noshed on raw vegan enchiladas, salads and green juice. Delish!

Jodee's

Jodee’s

And lastly, the above photo is of Jodee’s raw vegan pizza. Jodee’s, in Green Lake, specializes in raw vegan deserts and smoothies but once in a while she offers up Friday night pizza. This is a yummy slice of her Mexican Pizza.

The abundance of good, healthy, vibrant food gave us energy to run around and play in the forests. Carkeek Park in Seattle is one of my favorite little spots to visit. When I lived in Seattle, I would visit this park often to commune with the nature spirits, walk among the greenlings, hug trees and meditate. When I was here with Giacinta, we came and did much of the same…

Shana Lying Over a Creekbed on a Fallen Tree, Communing with the Leaves

Shana lying across a creek bed on a fallen tree, communing with the leaves

Shana giggling with the forest

Shana giggling with the forest

Giacinta in a creekbed at Carkeek Park

Giacinta in the creek bed, dotted in light

 

For me, no trip to Seattle is complete without gathering friends for a raw vegan ice cream party and who better to host this type of a gathering than my friend Jeff Rogers, AKA the Naughty Vegan. You can read more about Jeff HERE. Jeff is an amazing ice cream artisan. If you love ice cream, I highly recommend his recipe book, Vice Cream, found HERE. Jeff whipped up a Coconut Peach Ice Cream, Giacinta and I brought frozen bananas and durian, and everyone else brought a variety of frozen summer fruits. Another friend, who, like myself, graduated as a raw chef from Living Light, brought raw vegan caramel and chocolate sauces to drizzle over all the ice cream.

Jeff passed all the frozen fruit through his Champion Juicer to create a soft-serve style ice cream. (The Champion Juicer is an excellent machine to use to turn frozen fruit into ice cream.) This is the delightful mess we made in his kitchen and the yumminess that ensued…

Raw Vegan Ice Cream Party

The makings of a raw vegan ice cream party

A swirling bowl of ice cream

A swirling bowl of fruity ice cream

 

My last day in the Pacific Northwest was spent in Bellingham, one of my favorite places in Washington. I have lived in Bellingham and have spent much time in this area. This magical, quaint town and the surrounding woodlands have crept into my veins and won’t let me go. I love it here. Giacinta and I went to one of my favorite spots, to Larrabee State Park. It was here we soaked up the grounding energy of the boulders, the vitalizing energy of the ocean and the mystical energy of the rich forest.

Shana in Larrabee State Park

Shana in Larrabee State Park

Shana sprouting out of a tree stump in bliss :)

Shana sprouting out of a tree stump in bliss 🙂

Magical Trails...

A magical trail…

I’ll close this travel journal entry with one of my favorite photos, taken by Giacinta. Here I am in my favorite place, in the forest, becoming One with everything around me. There is no place I would rather be, truly!

Shana in the emerald forest

Shana in the emerald forest

My time in Western Washington this summer was abundantly full of my favorite things. I am brimming with gratitude for everything I experienced and for everyone who shared my journey. I am deeply grateful for Giacinta who walked with me along the way. Until the next time, dear enchanted Washington, I hold you in my emerald heart. Thank you. I love you.

Herbal Garden Dressing with Tender Green Beans

Herbal Garden Dressing with Tender Green Beans

Herbal Garden Dressing with Tender Green Beans 

 

For the Herbal Garden Dressing:

1 oz. apple cider vinegar

2/3 c. cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

1 t. Celtic salt

½ t. pepper

1 scallion, diced

1 t. parsley, minced

1 t. chives, diced

1 t. tarragon, minced

1 t. prepared Dijon mustard or powdered mustard

Place all the ingredients in a jar then secure closed with a tightly fitted lid.  Shake vigorously until blended.

This herbal dressing is delicious with raw, freshly picked summer green beans. Can’t wait until summer or if the green beans available now are not tender enough to eat RAW, simply steam them gently until they gleam in emerald brilliance. Drizzle the Herbal Garden Dressing over the green beans and toss to completely coat.

This dressing is also delicious massaged into hearty greens like kale and chard.

Store any unused portions in the refrigerator.

Note: The fresh herbs are what make this dressing special. Experiment with different types. Try fresh rosemary, oregano, thyme or dill. Have fun with it and enjoy!

Love and delicious delight, Shana  ♥

 “I know that if odour were visible, as colour is, I’d see the summer garden in rainbow clouds.” ~Robert Bridges, ‘Testament of Beauty’

Blending the Natural You

Autumn Sunset

Autumn Sunset

As the air invites a slight chill and the trees blush in brilliance, we are enchanted by autumn spices, lit fireplaces and the promise of a festive holiday season. School is back in session and summer travels have weaned as we revisit routine and tradition.  This is a time for renewal and re-forecasting.  What are your goals for the season to come? How do you want to look?  How do you want to feel?  How do you want to live your life?  The turn of the season is the optimal time to cleanse and refresh.  Increasing the amount of fresh raw organic foods in your diet is a simple and delicious way to embrace this new chapter in life.  However, raw foods alone are not the only answer to complete health and well-being.  Creating the life and body of your dreams requires a holistic approach.  Nurturing the mind, body, and spirit together will beautify and rejuvenate the total Self.

Nurture the Total Self

Nurture the Total Self

MIND

As daily routines are reformed, take time to revisit goals.  Return to yourself. Make yourself a priority.  How do you want to look, feel and live?  Create and practice motivating affirmations.  Harness a positive mindset.  Fill your heart with deep gratitude for what you already have in life. Say to yourself, “I am successful.  I am healthy.  I am attractive.” Fill in the blank with your own aspirations.  You are what you think.  You can rise up from the mundane and create a fresh start.  You can do and create anything you put your thoughts and your heart towards.  Be mindful; sincerely feel what you want and make it happen.

BODY

Take advantage of the tepid autumn weather while it is here. Get outside and move your body!  The best exercise is that in which you enjoy. Relish in the movement and honor the body as a fluid and powerful system.  Walk, swim, cycle, jog, surf, row, hike, garden- be creative, pick an activity and have fun. Breathe in the fresh outdoor air, and soak up the sun’s natural vitamin D.  Wake up and refresh the body.

SPIRIT

Take a moment during this special month to just be.  This enchanting time of year gifts us a tranquil lull before the holidays arrive.  Take advantage of it, and cherish these few peaceful weeks.  Notice the leaves turn, smell the air, sit in silence, watch the afternoon sun turn gold. Unplug from techno-culture. Be quiet.  Be alone if only for a moment.  A few minutes a day amidst your busy schedule will help center and refresh you.

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

NOURISHMENT

Feed your body well with pure foods.  There is no denying it, increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.  Transitioning into a high raw diet is simple.  If you have a blender, you can start by adding green smoothies to your daily meal plan.  A high-powered blender like a Vitamix is ideal for whipping up silky smooth drinks, for it breaks down fiber to the molecular level.  Adding one or more smoothies a day offers extra vitamins and minerals, fortifying your physical constitution.  Green smoothies are an excellent meal replacement or can be used as an in-between snack.  With approximately 100-250 calories per quart, these green drinks are great for attaining or maintaining your perfect weight.  Take advantage of the late summer and autumn fruits that are still available like peaches and pears.

Making green smoothies is easy. Simply add the following to a high-powered blender:

2 whole fruits

2 handfuls of green leafy vegetables

1 cup of ice

2 cups of filtered water

Blend until smooth.

The flavor of the fruit outshines over the greens, making these smoothies delicious to drink.  Try the following recipe ideas.

____________________

Peachy Green

2 peaches

2 handfuls of spinach

2 c. filtered water

1 c. ice

Blend until smooth.

*Nutritional Info:

Calories… 116

Cholesterol… 0

Dietary Fiber…7g

Protein…7g

Vitamin A…332%

Vitamin C…101%

Calcium…18%

Iron…28%

____________________

Perfect Pair

2 pears

2 handfuls of dinosaur kale

2 c. filtered water

1 c. ice

Blend until smooth.

*Nutritional Info:

Calories… 260

Cholesterol… 0

Dietary Fiber…13g

Protein…6g

Vitamin A…414%

Vitamin C…291%

Calcium…21%

Iron…16%

____________________

Mango Melody

1 ripe mango

2 handfuls of parsley

2 c. filtered water

1 c. ice

Blend until smooth.

*Nutritional Info:

Calories… 116

Cholesterol… 0

Dietary Fiber…7g

Protein…7g

Vitamin A…332%

Vitamin C…101%

Calcium…18%

Iron…28%

____________________

Notice all the Vitamin A, C, iron, protein and, most notably, calcium in these fruited green yummies.  Are you surprised to see that a serving of green smoothie has as much calcium and protein as a glass of milk? Don’t be fooled by the milk industry’s ardent marketing efforts.  Greens have more of what your body needs! Dark green leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses loaded with chlorophyll, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Calorie for calorie, they are the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food.

Greens make your eyes sparkle; they clear your skin and promote hair and nail growth. The carbohydrates in greens are packed in layers of fiber, which make them very slow to digest, balancing blood glucose levels. Greens are very alkalizing and balancing for the body and are wonderful mood enhancers.  They also protect bones from osteoporosis. The best food you can add to your diet are green leafy vegetables.  Any way you can sneak more into your menu plan, the better you will look and feel.

Organic Garden Greens

Organic Garden Greens

There are many benefits to eating a raw or a high raw diet. It is common to have an increase in energy. Sleep requirements are typically minimized, the immune system is strengthened, mood is elevated and a general sense of well-being is often experienced. Some raw fooders diligently eat 100% raw, avoiding all processed and cooked foods. This may be your lifestyle or goal, or you may simply wish to increase your organic fruit and vegetable intake. It does not matter where you are on the path towards health and vitality, just eat better. All your little efforts will add up to big results. Be food conscious. Learn to be aware of how certain foods make you feel. Eat high energy, health promoting foods, and fuel your body with pure nutrition that will help you bounce out of bed each morning and shine all day!

Nourish Your Mind, Body and Spirit!

Nourish Your Mind, Body and Spirit!

Spiced Peach Cobbler

Sweet Summer Peaches

Sweet Summer Peaches

Spiced Peach Cobbler
By Chef Shana

For the crust:
2 cups walnuts
½ cup raisins
½ cup dates, pitted

• Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Be sure to evenly distribute the dates and raisins. Separating the dates will keep them from clumping together while being processed.
• Process until coarsely chopped.
• Remove ¾ cup of the mixture and set aside. This reserved mixture will be used for the crumbled topping later.
• Continue to process the remaining mixture, the crust, until finely chopped.

Walnut Crust

Walnut Crust

• Pour this crust mixture into an 8×8 baking dish. Evenly distribute along the bottom of the pan then press firmly in place, forming a bottom crust.

Pressed Walnut Crust

Pressed Walnut Crust

 

For the filling:
6 ripe sweet peaches, thinly sliced

Ripe Organic Peaches

Ripe Organic Peaches

Sweet and Juicy

Sweet and Juicy

Sliced Peaches

Sliced Peaches

 

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Cinnamon

½ tsp cinnamon

A dash, a pinch, a smidgen of nutmeg...

A dash, a pinch, a smidgen of nutmeg…

1 smidgen nutmeg

Psyllium

Psyllium

1 Tbl psyllium
¼ tsp lemon zest
½ cup dates, pitted

• Place half of the sliced peaches into a food processor fitted with the “S” blade.
• Add the remaining 5 ingredients: dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, psyllium and lemon zest.
• Process into a smooth sauce.

Spiced Peach Sauce

Spiced Peach Sauce

• Pour the sauce over the reserved sliced peaches and toss until completely incorporated, coating all the peaches evenly.
• Pour this mixture onto the prepared crust in the baking dish.

Sliced Peaches with Spiced Sauce

Sliced Peaches with Spiced Sauce

• Sprinkle the reserved crust topping evenly over the top of the mixed peaches and serve.

Cobbler Crumble

Cobbler Crumble

Note: As with all raw fruit desserts, this peach cobbler is fresh and full of enzymes, so it oxidizes quickly. It will last one to two days refrigerated, but it is best when served immediately.

Spiced Peach Cobbler

Spiced Peach Cobbler

“A Georgia peach, a real Georgia peach, a backyard great-grandmother’s orchard peach, is as thickly furred as a sweater, and so fluent and sweet that once you bite through the flannel, it brings tears to your eyes.”
~Melissa Fay Greene, ‘Praying for Sheetrock’

Raw Chef Panel Q3: Emotional Eating

Q. Do you emotionally eat? If so, what do you eat? How do you overcome emotional eating?

A. I have been an emotional eater my entire life. This is partly the cause for my swinging introduction into the raw food diet. Like I mentioned before, I am an all-or-nothing girl. This is a mental state; I am aware of this. Few eat out of sheer hunger. Most eat for social or emotional reasons. I am no different. I have found, though, that the more I am able to quiet my mind, the more stable my diet becomes.

Over the years, I have self-medicated and soothed myself with foods. It is what I turn to when feeling stressed, sad, overwhelmed or fearful. Heavy foods, particularly, dampen my anxieties by forcing me to feel the physical discomfort of a full belly rather than my mental or spiritual upheaval. As a raw foodie, I tend to go for the heavy nut or seed laden foods when feeling negative emotions. I rarely dehydrate foods at home, for I prefer to eat juicy, high vibrancy foods. So, when I am having a challenging day, I will seek out a store-bought raw granola. My favorite is Hemp & Greens by Living Intentions. This gives me exactly what I am looking for- a sweet treat, that heavy feeling I crave and a quick fix. If I need to eat emotionally, I am certainly not in the mood to create something in my kitchen. This is why the premade raw granolas are so perfect. Because it is raw, I can eat this without any guilt, which is also a huge bonus. Though, powering through an entire bag of granola is not the best thing for my body, it certainly is not the worst either. When I do this, my body usually balances itself the next day by craving more water dense fruits and vegetables. I find, in this way, I can manage my weight by staying raw if going through tough challenges. I would also like to add that the more raw foods I eat the less negativity I feel in general. I have far fewer emotionally turbulent days as a raw foodie.

In addition to my raw food diet, a daily meditation practice is one of the best ways for me to maintain an emotional equilibrium. My ever expanding spirituality keeps me in a state of gratitude and abundance. The more I honestly love myself and recognize myself as source energy, the more grounded I feel, the more joy I have and the lighter life appears. Because of this, I rarely feel so emotionally charged that I need to grab that bag of granola. Often one can find me nibbling on Hemp & Greens granola not because I need it, but because I simply like it. There is a difference here between the two mind-sets.

For me, meditation is a necessity. It is something I need to do every day like an exercise routine. It aligns me and centers me. As I mentioned above, emotional distress is a mental state. It is self-created. By meditating, I am able to train my mind. I can quiet it when needed. I can look at it and see that it is little more than a part of my ego. It is separate from what I truly am on a soul level. Realizing this through my spiritual practice keeps the strife of daily life in perspective. There is so much more going on than my insignificant earthly, society based stressors. I am so much more than I have been raised to believe. When I meditate, I know this, for I can feel what I truly am. I see that I am light; I am divinely perfect. This soothes me on a level that dissipates any angst I may have with my physical life.

I remain balanced and manage emotional eating by synergizing my clean diet with meditation. Doing this, I feel liberated, inspired, empowered, lighthearted and grounded.

Raw Chef Panel Q2: The Raw Journey

Q. How long have you been raw? What percentage raw were you in the beginning of your raw journey? If you were 100%, how long did that last? What percentage are you now? And, finally, if you do eat cooked foods, what cooked foods do you eat?

A. I have lived a raw food lifestyle since 2004. I have been interested in nutrition my entire life. I grew up loving to cook and spending time in the kitchen. Creating recipes and wooing guests with my cuisine has been my greatest passion in life. Working with food is like a working meditation. It is my solace, my love, an expression of my inner beauty, my artistic self, my true being. I love food, and more importantly, I love food that heals and nurtures the body not only on a physically level but on a deep soul level. Raw foods do that.

In 2004, I was visiting my sister, Tanith, in Portland, Oregon for a weekend, and while in her home, I found a cookbook. It was Rawsome by Brigitte Mars. I had never before heard of a raw food diet. When I picked up this book, I was immediately entranced by its content. It promised a new way of eating that offered amazing health and beauty benefits. Being that I am the type to devour any nutritional book or cookbook I can get my hands on, I spent the rest of that weekend in Portland gobbling up every word on every page. I was instantly hooked. When I returned home, I sought out every book I could find on the topic. I started with Juliano’s book, Raw: The Uncook Book: New Vegetarian Food for Life and dove right in. I was immediately discouraged by the complexity of the recipes. Transitioning from a cooked food diet, I craved heavy meals. The vibrant pictures and recipes in his book allured me, but I realized that if I wanted something as simple as a sandwich that it would take several days to make it. The grains had to be soaked and sprouted for a few days, mixed into a batter and dehydrated for two or so more days to make the bread alone. My growling stomach and my impatience sent me right to the grocer for raw nuts, seeds, nut butters and dried fruit. These items were filling and easy to attain. At the end of my first week raw, I could proudly protest that I was indeed 100% raw, but I felt toxic. I could withstand this way of eating for about two weeks before I would delve back into my tried and true cooked foods.

One weekend while visiting Mendocino, California, I stumbled across Living Light Culinary Art Institute in Fort Bragg. They were advertising the first annual Vibrant Living  Expo. I was amazed at this find. I bought tickets for the entire event and immersed myself fully into all the information and enthusiasm offered by the inspirational speakers and vendors. It was there that I saw Victoria Boutenko speak for the first time. Her philosophy on the importance of greens changed my life. I realized that I was missing green leafy vegetables in my diet. This was the golden key to my success. I went right home and invested in a VitaMix, a high powered blender equipped to purify the tough fibers of sturdy leaves like kale and collard greens. Adding green smoothies and large kale salads into my diet balanced me, allotting me energy and happiness on a level I had yet to experience with any cooked food diet. Once I discovered that raw foods were then vitalizing and sustainable for me, I enrolled in Living Light. I trained as a raw food chef. This was what I had been waiting for all my life. I was able to finally integrate my love of the culinary arts with nutrition. I fell in love with raw foods.

Before I could professionally endorse this radical diet, I wanted to know, first hand, what raw foods truly had to offer. There is an enormous amount of testimonial on the internet, claiming impeccable health, age defying and mood enhancing results. I had to follow this diet 100% and discover it for myself. I decided to commit and follow a strict raw food diet for three months. I kept a daily journal during the entire experience. I even had my blood work done before and after the three month period to scientifically see my physical results. I was curious.

Those three months were amazing. I discovered what all raw foodies had already known. I needed far less sleep. My sleep requirement went from 8-10 hours a night to only 4-6 hours. I had more energy than I ever had in my life. This was great, because it meant that those extra waking hours were productive. I wasn’t just sitting around, lounging in front of the television late into the night. I was getting things done and happily so. I was highly motivated. My mood increased considerably. I would often laugh for no reason or break into a happy dance while drinking my morning green juice. I felt clean, pure, wild and awake. My stress level decreased. I felt more connected to everything around me. I felt more whole and apart of the bigger picture. I believe this is why stress could no longer exist within my psyche. How could it? Usually, the things that stress one don’t even exist. They are fears and negative anticipations. They are small compared to what truly exists in this world, physically and spiritually. I could clearly see my place within the fabric of my earthly existence. I play a small yet significant role. I am interwoven with everything else, matter and energy. How could I feel stress over a man-conceived situation or materialism? I simply couldn’t any longer. I was blissful. I was also exceedingly healthy. I have never had a strong physical constitution, but that winter I didn’t get sick once. I shared space with clients and loved ones who suffered from common colds and flues, yet I never once fell ill. I felt super human. I loved the way I felt. I also loved the way I smelled. I lost my body odor and the need for deodorants. My body became sweet and pure. By month three, my third eye opened. I began to have physic notions. I could sense things would happen before they did. Small synchronicities would occur that would cause pause; I was amazed by my increased “knowing.” I was raw and awake.

I faced challenges. My social life got in the way of me staying 100% raw after the three month commitment came to a close. I found I had anxiety about dinners or lunches out with friends. In the beginning, I would isolate myself, becoming antisocial. However, after the three months ended, I succumbed to social invitation and began to incorporate cooked foods back into my diet. Sadly, once I did this, all those amazing benefits I mentioned above dissipated. I swung back and forth from being 100% raw to being a naughty cooked foodie. Being the perfectionist that I was caused me to struggle, for I turned myself into a gastronomic yoyo. In retrospect, I realize that had I just allowed myself to eat cooked foods once and a while, I would have handled transitioning into a raw diet far better than I did. I was unforgiving with myself; I was strict and inflexible. I was an all-or-nothing kinda girl, so I was either 100% on or I was very off.

Now my attitude around food is much healthier. I choose to eat 100% raw when I can, which is the majority of the time; I love the way it makes me feel on every level. If there are times I need to eat cooked foods, I do. I no longer beat myself up about it. I no longer feel shame, failure or anxiety around my food choices. Left to my own accord, I am a 100% raw foodie. When I am in a traditional social situation, when I am with family or if I am in a restaurant, I eat cooked foods. I savor my choices; however, I do pay the price for the experience after the fact. Cooked foods are simply not as clean as raw foods, so I often wake the next morning with puffy, watery eyes, dry skin and a runny nose, feeling dehydrated, sluggish with low energy. One could ask why I put myself through all that for a single cooked meal; however, just as I am with the nut-laden raw desserts I occasionally order, I am highly conscious of my food choices. Waking up once and a while feeling unwell is far healthier for me emotionally and spiritually then suffering from anxiety over my social life or from closing myself off from my family and friends in an effort to obsessively encapsulate myself in a rigid raw lifestyle. The latter is far more difficult for me to overcome.

When I do eat cooked foods, I keep it clean and, for the most part, vegan. I will, infrequently, have a little cheese, but, in all honesty, I am not interested in supporting the inhumane and irresponsible dairy industry. In addition, the dairy itself congests me dearly. I always feel terrible, experiencing cold-like symptoms after eating it. I will also eat fish occasionally, but the energy I feel from eating a once-living being causes ill-ease within me. I do ingest negative energy when I eat dead seafood. I am aware of this. I am reporting now that I eat a little fish, but I know this will change. My diet is an evolution. I see myself moving away from seafood completely at some point. It could be as soon as tomorrow or it could be months from now. It is unknown how my palate and my heart will change. My diet evolves in direct proportion to my spiritual work. The higher my consciousness, the lower on the food chain I wish to eat. I am sensitive to the energies of life. I eat no other meats of any kind. I simply respect animals and birds far too much to do this. The longer I am raw, the more sensitive I am to all living beings. The more I develop spiritually and the more Reiki I practice, the cleaner my diet becomes. This is an effortless and natural progression. My physical and spiritual self is intertwined; there is no denying this, no separating it. As I continue on my raw path, I spiral into higher levels of consciousness.

Clean, whole, vegan foods transform the body into a conduit for higher energy. Meat and dairy products not only numb the body from spirit, but they support a destructive and cruel industry. At this point in my life, I chose to eat for my health and my spiritual elevation. The only cooked foods that I truly enjoy are steamed vegetables, which I can handle with no ill-affects. I can eat root vegetables like yams and winter squash as well as steamed green vegetables like artichoke, broccoli and asparagus. I will also, occasionally, eat miso soup or a light pasta. I eat these foods sparingly, and I always eat mindfully. Raw foods are my absolute preference, for they naturally enlighten my body and my soul on more levels than I am even aware. They are brilliant. And, I am brilliant when I eat them.

I honor life; I honor Mother Earth, and I honor myself through my food choices. Eating raw vegan foods, I thrive.

Happy All Hallows Day

I love fall. I don’t know if it’s because my birthday lands on the autumn equinox, appointing me the autumn ambassador, but I simply love fall. Come October, Sonoma County is graced with wispy, low, early morning fog, headless horseman weather. Through the feathered haze, one can see orange globes, the jewels of the pumpkin patches, dotted across the earth, waiting to be plucked and carved. Clear, blue skies adorn the afternoons, crisply kissing my cheeks. I am reminded winter is around the corner, for the temperature sinks, inspiring me to cuddle up, seeking warmth. The trees shimmer in amber, gold and crimson. They shutter, and it snows dried leaves, littering lawns and streets. Fireplaces are filled; wood is lit, infusing night air with a forest spice. I inhale the nostalgia. The promise of the nearing holidays sooth my soul on a primitive level. I am still that child that loves to dress up for Hallows Eve. I want to be thrilled, chilled and tempted by mystery and sweet treats.

Halloween crept up and rested on a Saturday this year. I spent the day puttering around the house, allowing my domestic whims and the day’s hours to sweep me into early evening.

There is something so pure about a woman who toils in the home, polishing and primping her sanctuary, her nest. She is considered plain to the metropolitan eye. No make-up, hair pulled back, barefoot, wearing jeans and a thin t-shirt, she is dressed perfectly for the occasion. If she finds her work fulfilling, as I do, she glows. She is beautiful in her simplicity, hiding nothing, fanning her true colors like a rainbow across the sky. Her spirit is expansive, and her home fills with her heart. Anyone who walks in will feel it, smell it and be nurtured by it. This was me on Hallows Eve before my witching hour.

Before Picture on Hallow's Eve

Before Picture on Hallow’s Eve

This is me on any given homey afternoon. But, Saturday, October 31, was no ordinary afternoon. Knowing I would go out to see what haunts the holiday had in store, I began my meticulous transformation. I love dressing up, impersonating a fantasy. This year I pieced my costume together partly from my own closet and partly from my Halloween costume collection. I was unsure the outcome; but, I was sure if I followed my soul’s desires, I would create a look that I would find enchanting. I was inspired by a black Parisian gown, my new bindi and a recent interest to decorate myself in henna. The result- I evolved into a French fortune teller named Madame Crystal.

Madame Crystal

Madame Crystal

The evening was visited by many characters. Tricksters and players wandered the darkness, giggling, admiring and delighting. I, myself, sunk deep into the night. The hours clicked by without notice. Before I realized, 3am snuck up and nipped at my ankles. It was time to wash off the evening energies, the thick, black eyeliner and crawl snuggly between my sheets. This little pumpkin head needed to rest.

7am rolled by and parked its carriage next to my bed, waiting to carry me away from slumber. I awoke, thinking how grateful I am that I am RAW. I imagined most of the witches and goblins of Hallows Eve arose to sugar or alcohol induced headaches and sleep filled eyes, but not I. I popped up and met All Saints Day as it greeted me in return with that early morning, low lingering fog I adore. The morning was quiet, for many of the city’s inhabitants were sleeping off the witchy spells of the preceding night. I rolled out of bed and up to my laptop, checking my email first thing. I received a message from We Like it Raw. In it was a link to a Youtube video of Tim Van Orden and Courtney Pool. I watched the 3 minute video titled Spirulina Salad with Courtney Pool. I was immediately motivated to spend my morning gobbling up greens, staining my teeth in an emerald brilliance. How ghoulish, I thought as I chuckled to myself, knowing that I would be one of the few in town who would awake on the morning after Halloween craving sprouts and algae.

The early hours ticked on. I never did get to that salad; though, it is on my list of recipes to make this week. Instead, I filled my morning with errands that kept me out of the kitchen. By 10am, hunger tugged at my stomach. My green salad craving needed attention, calling me into action. Remembering that Café Gratitude opens at 10am on Sundays, I pointed my car towards Healdsburg.

There is something so wonderful about having delicious raw foods made for me. Often, I am the one creating such dishes. When I have the opportunity to relish in such wholesome culinary offerings, I do so with pure graciousness and love. I ordered an entrée called, “I am Fulfilled,” a large salad chock full of greens, sprouts, tomato, cucumber, carrots, beets and avocado, tossed in a creamy, raw, vegan caesar dressing and garnished with a flax cracker.

I am Fulfilled

I am Fulfilled

I felt so at peace while I dined. I gave thanks for my life and the treasures within it. I blessed the season. I blessed the day, World Vegan Day. I blessed my food, and I blessed myself as I slowly ate. I giggled to myself as I enjoyed my abundant salad, thinking it was an odd breakfast choice for the average person. It was a breakfast of champions, a breakfast of raw girls like me. And, what do raw girls like me do after nibbling up a robust salad? Well, they order dessert, of course!

raw cacao hazelnut pie

raw cacao hazelnut pie

Featured here is Café Gratitude’s raw cacao hazelnut pie. It was divine. I can happily report, I have embraced autumn and the first festive holiday of the season without a single piece of commercial candy. Fresh raw desserts are my treat of choice. I sat in the restaurant, delighting in the raw chocolate goodness, grateful for its availability. Pure bliss was gobbed on the end of my fork; and as I slipped each bite of the rich chocolate between my lips, I could think of little more than how wonderful is life.

I love fall and everything it represents.

Cherish your life. Everything is a gift. Treasure it all. Honor your inner child. Play. Love. Celebrate.

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