Tuesday, August 26, 2008

RFT Raw Potluck at Lava - Unplugged

In Tulsa this past Sunday afternoon, over 26 raw foodists came to Lava on Brookside for an amazing raw food meetup and potluck. Above are some pictures, courtesy of Western Doughty of Haftone Photography and one of our lovely members, Paula Jones. Then my husband, Gordon, and our little Taylor both took turns shooting video of the event, which is in the YouTube clip below.

All who attended seemed to have a lovely afternoon, enjoying the impressive and creative food dishes, as well as hearing testimonials from people who have had life changing transformations by the incorporation of raw foods into their lifestyle. It's hard to believe this was only our third meetup as a group. I feel so encouraged and excited by this wonderful, growing community and who would have known that all this time they were all here, right in my own backyard?!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Word from Mr. Monarch

Matt Monarch just produced a mini-video for Bunny Berry 's 100 Day Raw Fu Challenge, today being Day 20. I wanted to post it here because Matt hit upon a couple of points that I think are critical for anyone that is wanting to embrace healthy change in their diet, regardless of whether they are a committed raw food eater or not. Matt may seem a little radical to some, but I appreciate his view point and his dedication and passion to this movement. He leads by example and he just happens to be engaged to one of my role models, Ms. Angela Stokes. They are such a darling couple and I look so forward to meeting them both, finally, in person at next month's Raw Spirit Festival in Sedona.

I also would like to thank you for the outpouring of love and support I received from you in comments and emails regarding yesterday's post. After I posted that blog entry, my YouTube page escalated further with more sick and dirty comments from random and fictitious accounts until it turned into a full blown slime fest. I have no remorse in making the choice to remove the bulk of them. It became apparent that the whole ugly mess had very little to do with me. I've come away from the whole episode with such a renewed appreciation for this amazing community and for the love and support I feel from you. The sad, angry, hurting souls will always be with us, friends. We must do as Jesus did and turn the other cheek. Anyway.....you all are amazing and I love you beyond words. Together, we shall continue to choose to take the high road!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Living Transparently

I woke up this morning as I do on many mornings, feeling simply grateful. Grateful to God for my health, my family, friends, dogs.....etc. Always fully aware of my weaknesses, challenges and shortcomings, I try to focus on the positives, praying that the rest will develop and grow as I continue to learn and experience life.

Just a bit later, while checking email, I received a comment on my youtube "channel" from someone I don't know that was pretty confrontational and critical of my motives and my character. Apparently this person has "been observing me in raw food circles" and felt the need to tell me how my personality is flawed, that they see me as competing in a personality competition and how fake I come across. It really startled me and gave me that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that anyone would see me that way. I do agree that my new found video making skills leave much to be desired. Because I feel so vulnerable about putting myself out there as it is, this person's opinion really stung. However....difficult as it is, I do want to open to constructive criticism and I don't ever want to be so prideful that I can't take it. But in a nutshell, this person peed all over my raw granola this morning.

After sharing the episode with my husband, I received a sweet email from him with a message that helped to put a different twist on how I was feeling. What I experienced today has likely happened to you in one form or another, so I suppose that's why I wanted to share it here. I think we all face days and moments of defeat & criticism. My precious husband reminded me that I was created to shine, in my very own way, and that I shouldn't allow the opinions of others to cause me to shrink back or to hide the energy and passion that swirls inside me. One of the hardest struggles for all of us is to step out of the boat. Take the our place in the bright light. Be what we were created to be. It all feels really risky, yet without hesitation, I believe it is a risk worth taking.

I've come away from this with the message that I'm just going to live my life and live it to the fullest. I purpose to keep a humble and submissive heart all along the way. To be alive and active in pursuing whatever your passion is will put you at risk drawing attention to yourself and in turn possibly pissing someone off. Those of you who really know me agree that I'm not one to seek confrontation or an opportunity to irritate anyone, respecting others opinions and lifestyles, even if they differ from my own. I do have childlike passion, a love for people and I feel called to serve, even if it is from out of nothing more than my own weaknesses. And if someone doesn't like that about me, I hope they'll feel free to simply turn the channel and go in peace.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Something's Growing in My Kitchen.....

A couple of weeks ago we had a new arrival at our house. Very much like a special visit from the stork, my new friend - Amy - from our Tulsa raw food meetup group, brought a new baby to come be part of our family. Until that day, I was unfamiliar with "Scoby," and you may be unfamiliar with her too. A scoby looks looks like a beige/white rubbery pancake or a gigantic portabello mushroom, but it's name actually stands for - symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. Sounds delightful, no? Well, this very special culture is what is placed into a mixture of sweetened tea and turns it into an amazing concoction that's full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and health-giving organic acids.Kombucha is a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with this kombucha culture, or scoby. The result can taste like something between sparkling apple cider and champagne, depending on what kind of tea you use. It's not what you'd imagine fermented tea to taste like. Although the scoby is placed into sweetened tea, the culture actually utilizes and digests the sugar and it then produces a range of organic acids like glucuronic acid, gluconic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, malic acid and usnic acid; vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C; as well as amino acids, enzymes. And of course there are all the benefits of the probiotic microorganisms themselves. The Kombucha culture is a biochemical powerhouse in your kitchen.With every brew you make, the kombucha forms a new layer, or scoby, on the surface of the liquid. These can be left to thicken the scoby or can be divided, giving you spare cultures that you can store in some tea in the fridge in case something should happen to your active culture. Or you might want to pass on spare Kombucha cultures to friends, which is how we received our baby scoby.Many health claims are made for kombucha and there is some research that has been done on its benefits, but clinical information is not easy to find. It has certainly been shown to have similar antibiotic, antiviral and anti fungal properties in lab tests as fermented milk products, such as kefir and yogurt with live cultures, although kombucha is dairy free. In rats, it’s been shown to protect against stress and improve liver function. Of course the internet is full of experiential evidence from people who have been using kombucha over many years. Many of the benefits reported include improvements in energy levels, metabolic disorders, allergies, cancer, digestive problems, candidiasis, hypertension, HIV, chronic fatigue and arthritis. It ‘s also used externally for skin problems and as a hair wash among other things.You can buy Kombucha at your local health food store for around $3 a bottle or you can make it for pennies in your own kitchen. If you're in my area, I can hook you up with a baby because my scoby is apparently quite fertile. Or there are many sources online from which to order. Below is an overview of how to brew your own delicious and nutritious kombucha.
Instructions for Brewing Kombucha

1. Bring 3 quarts of distilled or purified water to boil in a stainless steel stock pot (scoby does not do well aroulnd metals such as aluminum).

2. When boiling, add one cup of white sugar. Stir until dissolved.

3. Turn off the heat, remove the cooking pot (in order to stop the boiling). Add four Black Tea bags (I use a combination of organic white, green and black tea), cover the pot with the lid. Let steep until cooled.

4. Remove and discard tea bags.

5. Allow sweetened tea to cool to room temperature, even if it takes overnight.

6. When at room temperature, pour the sweetened tea into a one gallon jar. (This is where the tea will ferment.)

7. Before pouring the cooled tea into the jar, pour 8 oz. of the starter tea (which will come with the scoby) into the jar. Then pour the cooled tea into the jar, to ensure an even mixture of the tea with the starter. For future batches you will use your own Kombucha tea starter.

8. Place the Kombucha scoby on top of the sweetened, cool tea, making sure that the darker rougher side faces down. (Don’t worry if it sinks to the bottom, it’s O.K.) Also, do not wear metal jewelry when handling your baby.....remember, no metal!

9. Cover Jar with a piece of loosely woven cloth (the scoby has to “breathe”. Cotton or linen or paper towel will do just fine.)

10. Secure with a rubber band to keep cloth in place and to keep out any insects or contaminates.

11. Place the Jar in a ventilated place to ferment for at least 8 days, without moving it, but away from direct sunlight and kitchen odors, plants and pets. The ideal constant fermenting temperature is 85-89 degrees F.

12. At about 8-10 days remove cover and taste. I have been letting mine ferment for 8 or 9 days since it's summer and the warmer weather seems to create a perfect environment for fermentation.

13. After the fermented tea has passed the tests, it can now be called “KOMBUCHA TEA.” Remove the scoby that has formed on top of the “KOMBUCHA Tea” If the “mother” and it’s “baby” are stuck to each other (the baby on top of the mother), separate the two carefully and place each in a jar with enough “Kombucha Tea” (as a source of nourishment) to cover it, for future use. However after several batches of tea have been brewed, discard the old scoby.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Satisfying My Yogurt Craving

Ever since I've given up dairy products, there are certain things I miss. Thankfully, I've been able to recreate the flavor of milk by making delicious and nutritious nut milks as well as ice creams that taste very much like their dairy laden cousins. But lately I've really missed yogurt. Especially when I want a bowl of raw granola with fresh fruit....almond milk just hasn't been cutting it for me. I want that thick, creamy, tart & delicious tang. So, this morning I decided to try to whip up something that I could use as a healthy substitute and here is how my tasty experiment went. My ingredients were:
  • 1 cup of nuts soaked in one cup of water (you could use any nut, like hemp, cashew, or almond)
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds, soaked in 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp.vanilla extract (could use 1/4 vanilla bean if you have one)
  • 2 tbsp. agave nectar
  • 1 probiotic capsule, emptied into the mixture
  • a nice pinch of sea salt
I put the drained nuts, chia seed gel and all other ingredients into my Vita-Mix, blending and adding tablespoons of water until I reached the desired consistency. I would guess I put about 1/2 cup of water into the blender.
The flavor and texture of this mixture turned out really great! What a taste sensation to my palate! Obviously you could eat this alone, but drizzled over homemade raw granola with fresh fruit, what a delicious treat! Today I used apple chucks as my fruit because I found the most marvelous local apples from a farmer who has an orchard near Tulsa. Fresh berries are generally my favorite though. I 'm not sure how the consistency of this mixture will change once it's chilled and stays in the refrigerator for a few hours. Because of the mucilaginous nature of the chia seed, it could become to thick, but can easily thin out with the addition of a little more water.
In case you don't already know, chia seeds are one of my favorite additions to many of my recipes. The following is taken directly from an article written by Angela Stokes and I encourage you to read the article in it's entirety here.

"Chia seeds are said to have:
# 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain,
# 5 times the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that
helps transfer calcium into your bones,
# 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas,
# 3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries
# 3 times more iron than spinach
# copious amounts of omega 3 and omega 6, which are essential fatty acids...

They are a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form. They are also a fabulous source of soluble fibre. One advantage of chia is that because it has such a high antioxidant content, the seeds stay stable for much longer, whereas flax, for example, may turn rancid. Chia seeds can easily be stored dry for 4-5 years without deterioration in flavour, odour or nutritional value. You can substitute chia in any recipe that calls for flax.

The taste of chia is very mild and pleasant. That means you can easily combine it with other foods without changing the taste dramatically. People add chia to their sauces, bread batters, puddings, smoothies and more. The flavour is retained, plus masses more nutrition is added ;)

Chia has been called a dieter’s dream food because when added to foods, it bulks them up, displacing calories and fat without diluting the flavour. Thus, someone can eat a typical serving, yet only consume about half the calories they might have eaten, because the food has been bulked up with chia. PLUS, the eater gets a bellyful of nutrient-rich superfood goodness, which hydrates and sustains them – magic ;)

Other benefits of eating Chia?
  • Provides energy
  • Boosts strength
  • Bolsters endurance
  • Levels blood sugar
  • Induces weight loss
  • Aids intestinal regularity
You can order the amazing (and inexpensive) chia seeds from Angela and Matt Monarch's website here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Night at The Celebrity Club

One of my old favorite restaurants in Tulsa is The Celebrity Club. I haven't been there much since I've been pursuing a raw diet, however, it still has to be one of the only classic eateries left in this town. When I received an invitation to be "the mystery guest" for my friend Diane's 65th birthday party earlier this week, I was delighted to accept. Diane Simpson is the mother of one of my all time favorite friends, Katie Tuttle, and over the years, I've sort of adopted Diane as my surrogate mother. I even call her mom. Celebrating with Diane and the rest of my favored group of uber eccentric Tulsans has been the highlight of my week. Some of you may be familiar with the work of Charles Faudree and his fabulous sister, Francie. Also in attendance were Bill, Crissy, Brenda, George, Mickey and Martha, the manager of my favorite store in Tulsa, TA Lorton. I can't repeat any of the stories that went around the dinner table that evening, but to say I was entertained would be an understatement.

The menu at the Celebrity Club is not what you'd call raw food friendly, however, they are notoriously famous for their table side preparation of the BEST EVER Caesar Salad. Always the odd ball, my personal favorite is the Syrian Salad, which is what I eagerly ordered. Of course they wouldn't dream of sharing the recipe, but I've come close to recreating this taste sensation on my own. Perhaps you'll try it sometime....

Celebrity Club's Syrian Salad (translated by Penni)

For the Salad
1 head romaine lettuce
1 cucumber, cut in half, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced finely
2 ripe tomatoes
2 scallions, chopped
1 small red onion
2 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
a bit of fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup black olives

For the Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp. wine vinegar
1 minced garlic clove
1 tbsp. fresh mint
sea salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste

Blend all dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl, toss with the dressing and serve on chilled plates.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gypsy Mama Is Going To Mayo.....

Meet Gypsy Mama. She is a wife, mother of a beautiful 5 year old, and a Raw Fu Challenger. She is trying to go raw with us over at Raw Fu, despite the fact that she is about to embark on a very scary and intense 2 weeks at the Mayo Clinic. There is something wrong with Gypsy's lymphatic system, and her body is retaining fluid at an alarming rate. In a video blog recently, she disclosed that she had gained 11 pounds in a WEEK, all fluid.

Mayo has accepted her as a patient, and has told her to plan to come and stay for 2 weeks as an outpatient, so that she can be thoroughly poked, prodded, and scanned. Bunny has shared that she is very worried about Gypsy, since she has been recently complaining of having a high fever. It is really important that she gets to Mayo on August 26th!

One thing that insurance and Mayo do not cover is housing for outpatients. So, Gypsy is going to have to stay in a hotel for 2 full weeks. Her son and husband are worried sick about her, and will not let her go alone, of course! The cheapest place they have found to stay near Mayo is $47/night. So, housing alone for the trip is going to cost close to $700, not to mention the cost of them trying to find healthy food to eat while on the road. With limited funds, you can imagine how stressful this must be.

Gypsy set up a website at www.NoahsCloset.com, and is trying to sell a few things out of her house to raise money to help them pay for their hotel stay. So, please check that out.

BUT, after talking with Bunny, I agree that Gypsy doesn't need to be worrying about hosting an online garage sale as she is getting ready for her trip to Mayo, so Bunny has decided to Pay It Forward, and try to collect enough money to cover as much of her housing costs as possible.

As a side note, I must tell you that Bunny really wanted to use ALL of the money that has been raised for her new kitchen and give to Gypsy, but I told her that we should just try to raise money first before dipping into the funds that the Raw Fu community has so graciously donated out of their love for all that she has put into this site. Sooooo, Bunny and I have agreed to kick off the Gypsy's Club Mayo Fund with a donation of $150 each......sorry, Gypsy, maybe next time it'll be a trip to Club Med!

Our HEALTH is so important, and I think we all know women like Gypsy. Women who give and give, and never take the time to take care of themselves. That's what mother's do, isn't it? Brother, can you spare a dime?

Just click here if you'd like to help a sister out.

God Bless us everyone.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Summer's Last Getaway....

This past Friday, I loaded up the girls and two of their friends, for a long weekend getaway. I suppose it was poor planning but, going on a kid friendly trip wasn't exactly the best strategy for kicking off the beginning of this 100 day Raw Fu Challenge. Nonetheless, I was determined to give it my very best shot. If I was able to successfully travel while drinking nothing but juice, surely I could stay raw while at water parks, malls and amusement parks, right??!! (video clip here.)

Gordon was able to join up with us on Friday evening after his long work week. While the girls feasted on room service and watched movies, Gordon & I stole away briefly for romantic dinner at the Park Avenue Grill inside the newly remodeled Skirvin Hotel.
I had a really fresh spinach, pear, walnut salad. It was primarily raw, but as you can see, it had this deep fried potato string thingy with a blue cheese bundle bulb (how's that for okie hick siferin'?) Yeah.....I know, not part of my program, but I couldn't resist eating that delectable bad boy. (And yes, believe me, I paid for it later.)

I didn't take the time to get pictures on the second day, but it was a combination of Frontier City, Penn Square Mall, Nichols Hills Plaza/Western Avenue, Bricktown, and too much time at the roof top pool.

Our drive home today was my personal highlight. I've always wanted to take Route 66 instead of Interstate 44, and today, I got my way. I didn't even have any complaints from the peanut gallery, probably because of the coolest stop, POPS, in Arcadia, OK.

We had a really wonderful time, but I was quite eager to be back at home once again. Preparing my own food and dining at home affords me the luxury of being in charge of what goes into my mouth....so, Day 4 on Bunny's 100 Day Raw Fu Challenge will most likely be my best yet!