Thursday, June 26, 2008

Keeping It Real

Since Monday evening's raw food meetup, I've been having some discussions with a few attendees and through these conversations, I'm finding that I'm rediscovering some of the basics of my original passion for raw and living foods. Although most of you, my dear readers, already know the basics, I just wanted share some of my thoughts, so that you too, can embellish the number of reasons we continue on with our journey and aspiration of being a raw foodie. I think my favorite fact is one that is absurdly simple, and, well, obvious...The Earth produces food for us (and all the other animals) in the state in which it is meant to be eaten: raw. It makes good sense that we should eat it the way it comes.

There is certainly irrefutable logic about this premise. Humans didn't even discover cooking until relatively recently, something along the lines of 10,000 years ago. (Practically yesterday, right?) So from this perspective, adherence to a raw-foods regimen is simple....Don't eat things that have been heated above the temperature of 118 degrees. When food is cooked, vitamins are significantly reduced, and the natural enzymes present in food are damaged, sometimes destroyed, by the heat. As we have learned, these natural-food enzymes are crucial to our ability to truly digest our food. When these enzymes aren't present, our bodies are forced to use our own cellular enzymes to complete digestion. This is one of the most obvious reasons that we age prematurely, feel fatigued, and grow ill. And along these lines, when we eat a standard American diet, complete with overly cooked, overly processed, overly laden with chemicals and hormones, our bodies become warehouses of toxic, improperly digested food, so we also grow stubbornly fat.

In speaking with people recently, I realize that eating nothing but raw food is a huge adjustment for the average person and it seems to take a lot of motivation to even try. Many who have been successful have usually had one of two big motivators; life-threatening illness (that one will really get you motivated) and obesity. Albeit, weight loss, with all its alluring power, was only one of the reasons I originally turned to raw foods. Although irritable bowel syndrome was certainly not life threatening, it was my toughest nut to crack. Within 1 week of going 100% raw, ALL my intestinal symptoms were gone. No doctor or pill ever did that for me. The other numerous health benefits of eating a high raw diet have include increased energy, improved skin appearance, dramatic improvement in seasonal allergies, better overall digestion, and a reduction in hormonal mood changes and no more PMS. This diet contains little saturated fat and no trans fats. It is also low in sodium and high in potassium, magnesium, folate, fiber, and health-promoting plant chemicals called phytochemicals. All of these properties are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other degenerative diseases. Plus you lose weight. If followed with some intelligence, this is a diet that should effortlessly morph one's body into its most perfect version of itself. Yeah, I know, it really does sound too good to be true, but it really isn't.

Within the raw genre, one can generally eat all the raw food one wants, whenever one wants. And this has been true for the majority of my raw friends world wide. However, word to the wise....I managed to actually gain a bit of weight in the past as a new raw foodist. Believe me, if you are gobbling up handfuls of raw nuts and eating rich, dehydrated gourmet raw foods everyday, you're probably not going to reap the benefits that those who eat more whole, juicy raw foods experience. If your diet is filled with raw, organic fruits, vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, soaked and sprouted grains and beans, sea vegetables and other superfoods, you should easily get all of the vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidants a body could ever hope to take in and still be svelte and radiantly healthy. Do your homework DON'T have to eat meat to get your protein and I am going to write about that in a later post.

Charismatic raw-food guru David Wolfe says this, "Even if you never achieve a 100% raw-food diet, even getting 50% of your daily intake via raw foods will have a dramatic effect on your health." I totally agree with that statement. Wolfe and many other leaders in popular health circles today place an emphasis on seeking out organic foods whenever possible, which is also a fairly obvious "better choice." The vitamin and, especially, mineral content of organic foods are phenomenally higher than in conventionally grown foods, since the soil they are grown in is living soil that actually contains minerals.

Now, doesn't that rekindle your commitment to raw and living foods? It certainly has for me. Now get out there and "eat your veggies" and make it the "BEST DAY EVER!!" *wink*

Monday, June 23, 2008

Raw Food in Tulsa

I wanted to share some pictures from this evening's raw food meet up. It was a really great turn out for a first time event. I am so encouraged by the amazing people that came and I'm already looking forward to more events in the future as this community grows and develops.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pure Food & Mojitos

I apologize for not writing more this week. I've been busy taking care of all of the squeaky wheels in my life, if you know what I mean. It feels good to finally be in the middle of the weekend, doing things I love to do, and also finding a moment of time to just rest and reflect. I wanted to share with you what I'm working on for my first raw food event that will take place tomorrow evening. Slowly but surely, my home is transforming into the closet thing to Pure Food & Wine I can make it for an evening! Currently, I've heard from about 16 people who are planning on coming. That feels like a great number for a first time event within our community.

I realize that most cities have meet up groups that do potlucks or meet in a raw restaurant, if they are fortunate enough to have one within their community. I decided that for a first time event, I'd create a smorgasboard of raw foods for everyone to experience and enjoy. Potlucks are great fun and I will certainly facilitate them in the future, but they can also be intimidating for raw newbies. My idea is to create an atmosphere where everyone is comfortable and a place for anyone who's raw curious, offering exposure to what raw food can be without the pressure of trying to figure out what to bring. I've always enjoyed entertaining. Making delicious, beautiful, healthy raw food is a passion that I love to share, so planning and preparing for this first event has been great fun for me.

Tomorrow's tasting menu:
  • Coconut Water & Pure Mojitos (with or without organic champagne)
  • Jalapeño Lime Tortilla Chips and Golden Chile Corn Chips
  • Pineapple Cilantro Salsa & Guacamole
  • BBQ Crisps (this recipe is unbelievable and I hope there are some left by tomorrow)
  • Stuffed Mushrooms (courtesy of my friend, Paula)
  • Heirloom Tomato, Pistachio Pesto & Macadamia Ricotta Lasagna
  • Blonde Macaroons & Hazelnut Mocha Chip Truffles (courtesy of my friend, Peter)
I'll be sharing the recipes for each dish as well as sending home a little care package of raw granola with everyone who attends. I'm really looking forward to interacting with others in my area and checking the pulse of the local community. I really want to get a feel for what people are looking for in the way of education and support. If you're in my area and haven't RSVP'd yet, please give me shout out so I know you're coming!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

I love Father's Day. Perhaps it's because I am fortunate enough to still have my wonderful father in my life. Also to have such a dear husband, who is not only a father to his two grown daughters, but also the primary father figure to Taylor, his granddaughter, as well as an amazing step father to my daughter, Gabrielle. Then there is my daughter's biological father, John, who is also still very much involved in all of our lives. So, on this day, we honored the important role of fatherhood by inviting our special & blended family and fathers to a celebration and cookout.

Planning a menu for a cookout, when one is raw, is both a challenge and a creative opportunity. Even though I am from a family of traditional meat eating, gourmet foodies, I do enjoy having healthy alternatives available for those who are interested or curious. When I first discovered the benefits of the raw diet, I was very much a charismatic zealot about spreading the message. But as the months went by, I started to yo-yo, like so many others do, and I ended up giving up my raw crusade, eating what the rest of everyone ate during social events. That led to more and more slipping with my diet and soon I started eating a higher percentage of cooked or processed foods again. Within no time, I found that I had gained weight, saw the return of my old symptoms and ultimately felt depressed. So from much dietary trial and error, I finally decided that I simply needed to plan to make my own diet a success for myself, not being concerned about what everyone else was doing or eating. Juice feasting for 90 plus days really gave me the added edge on this. You sort of get over the whole social connection of food equaling fun and you realize that you can truly enjoy social settings without hogging down a big plate of barbecued ribs, baked beans and potato salad. Besides the physical cleansing and healing aspects, this was probably the most important emotional lesson extended juicing taught me.

So, what was on the Father's Day menu? Since this is a raw food blog, I'll just share that portion of the menu and we won't focus on what was cooked by my husband, the grill master. Here is what you're really interested in......
  • "Roasted" Red Bell Pepper hummus w/ flax-nut crackers and veggies.
  • Pineapple-Jalapeño Coleslaw
  • Marinated Portobello Mushroom burgers w/ heirloom tomato & macadamia feta
  • Mixed Berry Compote w/ hazelnut creme
Everyone who tried the hummus commented on how much they liked it. I've really gotten into tossing red bell pepper slices w/ a bit of olive oil and sea salt and dehydrating them for several hours. Much like roasting, it brings out a richness to the flavor and they are exceptional blended into recipes like hummus or pates. I used cashews as the base in this recipe, but zucchini would have worked equally as well.

On the mushrooms, I blended together some olive oil, Nama Shoyu, crushed garlic, agave and cracked pepper. I then brushed the portobellos with the mixture and placed them into the dehydrator for about two hours. Because I didn't plan ahead to make bread, I simply used the portobellos as the bun and filled them up with typical burger garnishes.....tomato, butter lettuce, onion, pickles, nut cheese, etc. I also made a chipotle ketchup which totally brought all of the flavors together with an interesting southwestern flair.

And while everyone else noshed on mixed berry crisp & vanilla ice cream, I opted for a fresher version, mixing together local blackberries, blueberries, and peaches, topping it with a hazelnut vanilla creme. I got much of my inspiration from Matthew Kenney's latest book, Everyday Raw, except for the recipe below, which was modified from an old clipping I'd saved from Cooking Light. Everyone raved about this one:

Pineapple-Jalapeño Coleslaw


1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar (or substitute apple cider vinegar)
3 tablespoons chopped jalapeño pepper
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 1/2 tablespoons flax or olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt salt
6 cups thinly sliced napa (Chinese) cabbage
2 cups grated peeled jicama
1 cup grated peeled carrot
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint


Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Combine cabbage and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hot Off the Raw Press.....

After much support and encouragement from a few of my local raw food friends (you know who you are *wink*), I've scheduled a Raw Food Meet & Greet for local health & raw food enthusiasts on Monday evening, June 23rd, at my home. As I've shared in previous posts, it's been my desire for some time to help facilitate the building of a community within the Tulsa area. Now that my juice feast is officially over, I feel the freedom and the tug to make the leap and "go public for the people." This first event will include the of sharing kombucha cocktails, fashionable raw food tastings, easy raw recipes and my passion for this healthful way of eating and living. There will also be a viewing of the beautifully produced video, Raw For Life, for those seeking additional education and motivation. If you're in my area, and would like more information, please email me for details at

And, this just in....My awesome friends at We Like It Raw have been picked as one of the Top 21 Veg blogs by one of my most favored publications, VegNews Magazine. This award will be featured in the July/August edition of VegNews, available at your local Whole Foods and other upscale, organic friendly retailers. Even though WLIR was the only raw food blog to win a VegBloggy, they still found themselves in good company. Friends at SuperVegan and What the hell does a vegan eat anyway? were also selected by VegNews as VegBloggy winners. I'd like to give big props to the editors at VegNews for reading their mail (yep, I nominated WLIR and Mike at "whhdavea" with both raw green thumbs up) and giving my friends such a prestigious award, as well as for bringing awareness to the transformational power of healthy, raw foods.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sophisticated Summer Salad

Raw Fava Bean Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette
This delicious, garlicky raw fava bean salad brings together the abundant protein, iron and fiber available in this early summer bean and a slew of antioxidants from fresh peas, cucumber, garlic, and parsley.

Serves 4.


3 -4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 finely chopped jalapeño or 1/4
teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound shucked fresh fava beans (from 3 pounds pods; 3 1/2 cups)
1 cups fresh garden peas (you could substitute fresh corn)
1 medium cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil
2 ounces raw macadamia nut cheese, crumbled (optional, see recipe beow)
Make the vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, set aside.
Make the salad: shucking the fava bean takes time, but it’s worth it. It is basically a two step process, see the photographs above and below.
Toss cucumber, onion, parsley or basil , mac nut cheese, feta, beans, and peas or corn with the vinaigrette.

I think this cheese really makes the dish special, but it is also delicious without the raw cheese. There are many recipes on the internet, and any of them would likely work fine, this is just my personal favorite.
Macadamia Nut Cheese

2 cups raw macadamia nuts, soaked for an hour or more
Rejulevac to cover cashews
2 cups chopped cauliflower
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. ground nutmeg

Drain and rinse the nuts, Blend nuts with only enough rejuvelac to create a thick cream. Pour into a quart jar, allowing space for the cheese to grow. Cover with a clean cloth and let culture on the counter top for 8 hours. Reduce cauliflower w/ olive oil & ½ tsp. sea salt in your dehydrator @ 105 degrees for 4 -6 hours. Process cauliflower in a food processor to a smooth texture, adding the additional ingredients and process until you reach the desired consistency. This is marvelous on raw pizzas or used as a feta cheese substitute in conventional recipes.

A Day In Dad's Garden

Today we are going to take a tour of my dad's garden. I've been spending a lot of time with my daddy lately. At 78, he is unfortunately faced with a life change that I wish weren't happening. My mother died when I was 22 and then about five years later, me married again. They were married for ten years at which time she passed away due to a life long heart condition. Three and a half years ago, my father and Millie were married and it's been pretty challenging from the get go. It's just one of those things that happens, so I've been trying to love and support him as much as possible right now as he is going through this difficult divorce.

As much as my dad wants to stay living in his home (he's been there since '92), it looks like the home and property will have to be sold and the proceeds split down the middle. I've been pretty sad for him because he loves his place so much.....a lovely retirement home just next to Grand Lake. It has been a wonderful atmosphere for both of his passions, gardening and fishing. I believe that God has a plan for my dad's future, so no matter what, everything will work out in the long run. I'm hoping he'll move closer to Tulsa so our family can enjoy his sweet spirit all of the time!
In the slide show, you'll see his corn is already coming up nicely....lots of cauliflower and broccoli planted and my favorite - blackberries and boysenberries! This years crop has been taking it's sweet time maturing but now they are really starting to get ripe and juicy! And last, but not least, you'll see a picture of Coco, Dad's loyal pet Daschund. Coco is 14 years old now but he's still a pretty sharp old guy. He's a cool dog as he eats every single fruit or vegetable that dad feeds him! Way to get that veggie glow, Coco!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Stone Bluff Lavender & Wine Festival

Gordon and I rarely have a moment to ourselves, but today we were able to plan a short getaway to Stone Bluff, Oklahoma for the 7th annual Lavender and Wine Festival. People from surrounding regions are always so surprised when I tell them that Oklahoma has productive and thriving vineyards. The soil here in Northeastern Oklahoma is considered to be some of the richest dirt anywhere. I grew up just miles from Stone Bluff, where the fertile soil is a product of the sandy lome cultivated by the neighboring Arkansas River. My hometown, Bixby, is known as the Garden Spot of Oklahoma. I suppose that's why my gifted, gardening parents chose such an epicenter for our home and their muse. Below is a slide show featuring our super fun adventures today...
(btw...I did NOT have lunch at the festival. Check out the menu on the grease board...yikes!)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Raw Lasagna - It's What's For Dinner!

We lost power, again, for the bulk of the day, due to more exciting electrical spring storms. Fortunately, I already had dinner in process from yesterday's preparations. I took this photo of the raw lasagna I love to make from Raw Food Real World. Although I modified the recipe here and there, it still received a great review from the family. Now that I'm not juice feasting, per se, I've found myself enjoying the freedoms of being able to taste as I prepare a finished product. If you've not had the pleasure of sampling this amazing raw entree.....summer is the perfect time to assemble all of these seasonal ingredients to perfection.

And for those who've inquired, I'm having a smooth transition back to solid foods. Perhaps it's because the bulk of my diet is still highly juicy, even though I haven't exactly followed the juice feast breaking protocol to the letter. Due to the lack of electricity for the bulk of the week, I've been living off of juicy, ripe fruits and high water content vegetables (ie; celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.). I am eager to share many other details of this portion of my journey, but alas, it will have to wait until I have a sliver of my freedom back tomorrow. I also want to direct you to a post that a fellow juice feaster, Carrie Cegelis, wrote that is a must read for anyone who is nearing the end of a juice feast or if you are even considering a juice feast in your future. The title of the article is Strategies for a Post Juice Feasting World. Carrie is a Certified juice feasting consultant as well as a licensed acupuncturist, massage therapist, and natural health advocate. Please go check out her well written blog. Thanks Carrie for sharing your insights and wisdom with us!

Our household will be rising tomorrow morning at 4 am to take my baby (15 yr. old, Gabrielle) to the Tulsa International Airport. She'll be flying to Omaha, NE for the week to visit her cousin, Chelsea, and my wonderful sister-in-law, Sylvia. This will the first time that she's flown alone, but I think it'll be a wonderful experience for her. She's so eager to go and although I'm feeling some mother hen vibes, I'm really excited for her to have this time with my brother's first wife and my awesome niece!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Into The Light

First things first.....I've had so many emails inquiring about how I'm doing, asking if I've died or if I've fallen off the face of the earth over the past few days. A great big thank you to everyone who has written! There were ferocious storms here Sunday morning (day 1 of my feast breaking).....70 mile per hour winds, weather head was ripped from the house, huge trees were snapped and our streets were flooded. We lost power on Sunday morning and just got it back last night. My internet connection is hit or miss due to the number of lines that are down, so I'm hoping to finish this post in one piece tonight!

Obviously, my juice feast breaking went a bit differently than planned, due to the lack of electricity. I had planned on having a wonderful green smoothie to start my day Sunday...obviously that didn't happen since the Vita Mix was out of order. Thankfully I had a small handful of prunes I'd soaked for good measure, so I had my own little juice feast breaking ritual here at home, in the stormy darkness, with no fanfare. I couldn't even go to Whole Foods for my daily juice because they had no power either. Later in the day I had some melon and then finally, a bit of mashed avocado.....probably not part of the protocol on day one, but thankfully, I had no adverse reaction to it.

Over the past few days, I have been gently entering back into the world of whole foods. I have been on a slightly more accelerated pace than is advised due to my circumstances. I still feel amazing and I am enjoying my re-entry back to whole foods. I've been having juice (either citrus or coconut water because I can do that manually) or very simple fruits. Tonight I had a light salad and it tasted exquisite! I haven't gained a pound, but I can feel the difference in the feel of my body from being on an exclusively liquid diet to now one that includes more solids. I can safely say that I much prefer the way my body feels when I am on a liquid diet.

Below are the statistics that I experienced while juice feasting. The interesting thing is that in the last month or so, I saw very little change in weight or measurements. I honestly don't feel like I made much overall progress after the 60 day mark. When I juice feast again, and believe me I will, I don't think I will go over 60 days at a time. That is just my personal experience.....

beginning ending total lost
upper arms 14" 11" -3"
bust 43 1/4" 38" -5 1/4"
waist 38" 31" -7"
hips 45 1/4" 38" - 7 1/4"
thighs 26" 22" -4"
calves 15" 14" -1"
ankles 8" 8" -0-
Total Inches lost -27 1/2"

Beginning Weight - 171
Ending Weight - 143
Total Weight Loss -28 lbs.

I'll write more tomorrow regarding this exciting new chapter. I've already started on my next phase which includes a new commitment and a more rigorous exercise regime. A huge thank you to those of you who have been so diligent in your comments and truly are the wind beneath my wings! xoxo.....Penni