Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Am Grateful

Thanksgiving 2008 was an absolutely beautiful day in Tulsa. Gabby spent the day with her father and his family, and Taylor was with her grandmother and family. Gordon, Dad and I went to spend the day with my Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob. Holidays at Bob & Betty's are always over the top and this year was no different. I knew in advance that I'd be indulging in a feast of both cooked and raw foods, so I packed along some digestive enzymes. Aunt Betty is a true gourmet chef. She owned The Italian Inn Restaurant for a few decades and then she and my uncle owned St. Michael's Alley's in the mid 80's.

For raw foods, I made a fresh cranberry salad, kale salad, and a raw pumpkin pie. Everything else was traditional holiday fare. I paced myself at the table, but admittedly, I am feeling the effects of the bit of overindulgence. Although this year I have no dietary remorse. I enjoyed and savored every bite. I know each dish was prepared thoughtfully, with the best intentions and infused with love. I really could feel it as I ate.

While at the Thanksgiving table, I paused and gave my own silent thanks for all of God's continual blessings, aware of the beautiful bonds of love between my family and my friends. Beyond today, I want to reflect and always be thankful for the daily moments of learning, laughter and the joy of simple pleasures. No matter the gloomy world economy, the other negativity in the news and even our own family's uncertain financial future......there is so much for which to be thankful. My prayers is that you too had a beautiful, memorable Thanksgiving holiday, filled with lots of special moments of gratitude and blessing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chef Certification with Betsy Catrett

On Sunday, I spent my afternoon in downtown Tulsa in the lovely high rise home of a treasured friend, member of the Real Food Tulsa Meetup Group and Alissa Cohen Instructor, Betsy Catrett. It was a pleasure to be in the company of Betsy, her gracious husband John Trey and about 10 others, as we completed our Level One Raw Food Chef Certification through Alissa Cohen's Education Program. As you can see from the photos, the setting for the class was beautifully festive, very well planned and organized. Betsy has been involved in the field of wellness, nutrition and relational health for many years, and has worked in varied capacities utilizing her diverse skill sets and talents, always fine tuning her approach as she selflessly works for the betterment of others. I've been blessed to have known Betsy for nearly 4 years and have been impacted by her gentle spirit and wisdom. Although Betsy's diet has always consisted of a high amount of raw and living foods, it has been a joy to watch her journey and transformation as she went 100% earlier this year.

Although Sunday's class was officially an Alissa Cohen curriculum, Betsy's personality and spirit came through in all of the attention she gave to detail and in the many ways she went above and beyond our expectations. In just 4 hours, we were able to cover all the basic topics that ranged from understanding why one would want to go raw all the way to the preparation of gourmet raw food meals that are both delicious and simple.

Our menu was impressive with such dishes as - Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Caps, Mock Salmon Pate, Cream of Tomato Soup, Philly Cheese Steak, Pasta with both Fettuccine Alfredo and Marinara and then an impressive finish, Date Nut Torte with Butter Cream Frosting. We received hands on instruction in the preparation of all of these dishes as well as a thorough lesson on working with all of the tools that can be so helpful in a raw kitchen. I appreciated Betsy's meticulous sanitation practices and explanation of the importance proper hygiene plays in our kitchens, both commercially and in our homes.

At the end of the class, Betsy and her tireless assistants had prepared a beautiful setting with an additional tasting of raw desserts that she had created as a holiday bonus. Treats like - fresh strawberries with a decadent chocolate sauce, Key Lime Tart with Coconut Crust, Almond Coconut Macaroons and Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies. Everything was expertly prepared and displayed. As we left, we also received all of the recipes and a Holiday Party Menu Planning Guide. It was a Sunday afternoon wonderfully spent and I went away freshly inspired with new direction along my own personal raw food journey. If you are in Tulsa, I highly encourage and recommend being part of one of Betsy's upcoming raw food preparation classes. You can find Betsy's contact information here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cold Days - Warm Food

Waking up to freezing temperatures the past two mornings has certainly gotten me into the Thanksgiving spirit, and it's also been tempting my palate towards warmer foods. If you're like me, dinner time can often be a challenge when your diet consists of raw foods, especially when the climate gets colder. In this post, I'll share some food preparation tips and a few autumn themed recipes that I particularly enjoy. Hopefully you'll give one or two of them a try the next time you're scratching your head trying to think of what to make for dinner.

Much like roasting, "reducing" vegetables in your dehydrator (or oven on it's lowest temperature setting), really brings out the richness and complexity of flavors without destroying valuable enzymes, minerals and vitamins. Slice vegetable and toss them in a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper and within a few hours, you'll have a deliciously satisfying side dish or entree. Any of the following recipes could be additionally nutritious and filling if you serve alongside raw spouted or lightly steamed quinoa, millet or buckwheat.

Marinated Vegetables

Be sure when shopping to buy a colorful assortment of vegetables!

6 cups assorted, trimmed and cubed vegetables
(such as....carrots, baby brussel sprouts, cauliflower, pearl onions, squash, bell peppers,
broccoli, etc.)
1/2 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar (optional)
4 small bay leaves
2 tsp Celtic sea salt
2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper

Mix together the marinade and thoroughly coat the vegetables, adding the bay leaves. Place in a dehydrator set to 135 degrees for the first hour, then turn down to 110 degrees for the remaining time, continuing to reduce and soften to your personal taste, approximately 2 more hours.
Fresh Green Beans with Garlic Vinaigrette

1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 1/2 lbs. fresh green beans. sliced into about 1/4 - 1/8 inch pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
sea salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup raw, sprouted and dehydrated almonds, chopped

To prepare the vinaigrette, combine ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk to blend well. Set aside.

To prepare beans, chop and toss the beans in a bowl with the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Spread this mixture onto a dehydrator mesh sheet. Place in a dehydrator set at 135 degrees for the first hour, then turn down to 110 degrees for the remainder of the warming time, which is about 2 - 3 more hours. Once the beans reach your desired softness, dress the beans with the vinaigrette and toss in the crumbled almonds. Serve & enjoy.Warm Spinach & Radicchio with Mushroom Vinaigrette

6 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 1/2cups torn radicchio leaves (optional)
2 Tbsp scallions, sliced
1/2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh sage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Nama Shoyu or celtic sea salt

3 1/2 Tbsp. Sherry wine vinegar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Agave nectar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper

Combine green onion, mushroom, 1/2 tsp. olive oil, sage and nama shoyu. Spread out on a mesh dehydrator screen. Warm for about an hour at 125 degrees.

Make vinaigrette, set aside.

Remove the mushroom mixture and add the spinach, radicchio and other 1/2 tsp of olive oil, combining well. Return to the dehydrator for another 30 minutes - 1 hour to slightly wilt the greens at 115 degrees. Also place the bowl of vinaigrette into the dehydrator, as well. Toss the spinach, mushroom mixture with the warmed vinaigrette for a satisfying and hearty fall dish.Honey-Curried Kale with Caramelized Onions

1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. raw honey
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves chopped (should be 6 cups)
2 Tbsp. Nama Shoyu

Toss onions in a tsp. of olive oil until fully coated. Dehydrator 1 - 3 hours.

Stir together remainder of olive oil, curry powder, honey, lemon juice, nama shoyu and kale. Add in the carmelized onions and return to the dehydrator for another 30 minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Performance and Possibility

This is the first time I've reposted a picture on my blog, but can you blame me? I promised a link to this interview with Tim Van Orden a couple of weeks ago, but now it's finally materialized! Big props to my homeboy, Dhrumil Purohit, director of We Like It Raw for creating such an amazing community of support at Give It To Me Raw and for being the facilitator and creator of my very favorite in-depth, with purpose, raw related interviews. If you had the opportunity to hear Tim speak while he was in Tulsa, this motivational podcast will provide additional encouragement, new information and reinforcement. If you missed his visit, or if you're not in Tulsa, you'll not want to miss the life impacting message he brings. ENJOY!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Raw Essentials

Carol Alt has just shown it all for the first time in the December 2008 issue of Playboy magazine. On the cover of the publication, Alt is baring it to make a point. As an actress, author and the original supermodel, Carol Alt, a huge supporter and advocate of the raw food diet, decided that the best way to demonstrate the benefits of the diet is to give a body of evidence.....her own. Whether you agree with her decision to pose nude or not, there's no denying that Carol looks amazing at 48. Recently interview by Access Hollywood, Ms. Alt shares, “I’ve done a lot of soul-searching about this and have spoken extensively with Playboy about it. They have been amazing to work with and are embracing this message that I want to get across, which is eat healthy, look healthy and be healthy.” Alt also shares from an article on her website, “It doesn’t matter what age you are. You can look sexy and feel great, and that doesn’t have to be a gift only for the young. It can be a gift for any age, even the old (whatever that is nowadays).”

In the Playboy article, Carol talks a lot about the raw food diet. She says, "I feel better today than at 24. I look better. My skin looks better. I'm more chiseled." She goes on to share, "I believe God wants me to speak about this-I'm a born-again Christian.....and I needed a platform, which is why I'm in Playboy. Nobody loves the female form like Playboy, and there's no better way to show women you don't have to live with getting old."

I had the pleasure of working with Carol Alt for her second book on raw food, The Raw 50. In this anticipated follow-up to her first book, Eating in the Raw, Carol presents easy, everyday raw food recipes and more stories about people who have adopted a raw diet. The story of how I went raw is featured in The Raw 50, and a couple of my juice recipes are featured as well. If you don't have a copy of this book, you should consider making it part of your raw library as it contains all of Carol’s favorite raw recipes. The Raw 50 is the ideal go-to guide for anyone ready to experience the life-changing benefits of eating in the raw.

In addition to all of the Playboy pulicity, Ms. Alt is also applying the youthful, rejuvenating effects of the raw food diet to her daily beauty regimen with a four-item skin care line called Raw Essentials. Carol is passionate about incorporating what she considers to be the "life changing benefits" of eating raw food into this pristine skin care line after fighting illness and fatigue while battling uterine cancer more than a decade ago. Triggered by the idea that any chemicals you put on your skin will be absorbed into the body, this line will be created from 100% raw, active ingredients derived from the earth. Unlike many other skin care lines, Raw Essentials won’t be using any dangerous parabens, petrochemicals or preservatives. This “beyond natural and organic” Raw Essentials skin care line, will be carried exclusively on HSN starting next month with an excusive preview scheduled for December 11th & 12th, then the line will be available from January 2009 on a greater scale.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Holiday Favorites - In the Raw

On Saturday morning I left the house early, jumping into my car for the 4 hour drive to Lee Summit, Missouri. Lee Summit is a quaint little village of a town that is on the southeastern outskirts of Kansas City. Lately Saturdays at home in Tulsa consist of back to back marathon college football games, so I was more than eager to take a much needed break from the status quo to run off to enjoy one of MY passions....raw food preparation and tasting! The trip north went by quickly, likely due to the fact that during the drive I also completed a one hour interview for a new segment on Raw Fu, Breakfast with Bunny, and then had an opportunity to get caught up on all of the great podcasts I'd been storing up in my Ipod from my buddy Dhrumil of We Like It Raw.

Once I arrived in Lee Summit, I easily found the place of my destination, A Thyme For Everything, in the charming little town square. I was really eager for this class, Holiday Favorites, by raw food chef and Instructor, Rachel Fracassa. As I shared in a previous blog post, I've been following Rachel's journey for sometime and have been inspired and impressed with the creativity and talented expression in her personal raw food preparations. Rachel a is a graduate of the world-renowned Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in Fort Bragg, California, where she received her certifications as both a Gourmet Raw Food Chef and Instructor. Saturday's class did not disappoint as it was clear that Rachel has a passion for teaching the living foods lifestyle as well as for sharing her own personal artistic flare for raw culinary arts. She is very unassuming, gentle spirited, yet terribly hip. Although Rachel is young, she gracefully facilitates a class in which people of all ages and levels of experience and interest immedietly feel welcome.Not only was I stoked to learn from Rachel, I also was eager to know ways in which to incorporate more raw foods into my upcoming holiday menus. Although I'm very tolerant, loving and understanding about family food traditions, my intention is to not spend another holiday in a carnivorous, gluttonous, cooked food stupor. However, I don't want to deprive myself or family of the holiday foods and traditional memories we all enjoy. In this class, I discovered how to make a scrumptious raw feast that features everyone's favorites, from stuffing to pumpkin pie.

We started off with a delicious Holiday Nog drink that I found to be much more delicious than the dairy laden Egg Nog, and without all of the intestinal distress that this lactose intolerant girl can do without! It was rich, creamy and nutmegy....and somehow unbelievably delicious without the dairy or the eggs. We were then instructed how to make Almond Mayonnaise that could easily replaced bottled mayo in this incredible Waldorf Salad.The Cranberry Orange Relish made my heart sing. It was made with a core of ingredients like fresh cranberries, orange and orange zest and freshly grated ginger.

This delicious, low carb stuffing was created by using almonds instead of bread and dehydrated instead of cooking. It was so good, I could have eaten the entire bowl!The two side dishes, "Christmas Kale" and "Green Bean Amandine" were outstanding. Because I had all of the ingredients, I came right home and put my own twist to the delicious kale salad, presenting it to my family, who happily ate the whole bowl before my eyes!

And then last, but certainly NOT least, was Rachel's show stopping, "I can't believe it's not cooked,"pumpkin pie with vanilla cashew cream. I think I shed a silent tear over this dessert, since I LOVE, but can't tolerate the dairy in traditional pumpkin pie. In a sentence, it was to die for.Aside from the inspiring class, I also got to share the time with some great people. The biggest highlight was when The Raw Body Twins showed up just as class was starting. I was able to sit with them throughout the entirety of the class. I met Stacey and Susan earlier this year in Manhattan at the Successfully Raw event sponsored by We Like It Raw. Stacey and Susan are certified raw food coaches through my sweet friend, Karen Knowler. Their website and coaching business is thriving, as they are specifically geared towards helping women achieve their highest potential in life through personal transformation and raw foods. This stunning set of twins are incredibly sweet, gorgeous and a vibrant example of what it looks like to have the "raw glow."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Give Peas A Chance

Have you been thinking about trying the raw food diet but aren't sure about how to start or how you could possibility do it with a busy life, full time job, family, meat eating spouse, yada yada? Well, how's about joining forces with me and my most beloved raw food personality, Beth aka Bunny Berry: and go sign up to be part of The Raw Fu Holiday Challenge, Peas On Earth, which starts on November 15th (that's this coming Saturday!) I am inviting you because I want you to love yourself enough to take charge of what you've been putting into that cake hole and get the support you need to start making positive choices that could seriously change your life for the better.There will be a fabulous Holiday Challenge Workbook, new Holiday Challenge edition tee shirts that are so cute, you're definitely going to want one!! Here's Angela Thomas, Bunny and I sporting our last challenge T-shirts in the Phoenix Airport: ......and of course when you join us you'll get daily videos and tons of community support to help keep you motivated and inspired to make deliciously healthy food choices during the holidays. And guess what, when you're spending all your money on presents and holiday fun, this weight loss, health rejuvenating program won't cost you a thing, IT"S TOTALLY FREE!!! So, please come along and be part of the Holiday Raw Fu Possee!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ushering In The Festivus

Recently, I've been getting into all kinds of projects and busy-ness, but it's been all good, believe me! Even though it's been just over a week, I'm still in the afterglow of Real Food Tulsa's most successful meetup to date, an evening with Tim VanOrden. (That's Gordon, Tim and I in the picture). We had nearly 80 people in attendance and the raw food tasting that was put together by the members of our local group was delicious and really impressive. Tim's lecture was incredibly inspiring, informative and motivational to so many. I've received many emails and phone calls telling of how the lecture brought the pieces together and helped to encourage people to that next level of health along their journey. If you are reading this, Tim, thank you for making such an impact on our community and on me personally. Can't wait for you to come back and be with us again!This coming weekend, I'll be traveling to the "Holiday Favorites Class" in Lee Summit, Missouri to sit under the brilliant culinary instruction of Living Light Certified Chef, Rachel Fracassa. I've been following Rachel's work online for some time now and I'm so excited to finally get to meet her and receive hands on education just in time for the holidays. Not only is Rachel an asset to the Kansas City metropolitan area, she has also received considerable recognition for her culinary achievements on a national and international level. Check out her recipe for this incredible Pumpkin Cheesecake.On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I'll be joining in on the raw food prep training of one of our own Real Food Tulsa members, Betsy Catrett. Betsy is a certified Alissa Cohen educator and I will finally be getting my certification while sitting under Betsy's expert instruction. During this class we'll be having a full afternoon of hands on food prep and doing an indepth study of what goes on behind the scenes in a raw food kitchen. Focus on sprouting, dehydrating and all the other fascinating nuances of preparing foods in the raw.

On to December....I'm currently planning the Real Food Tulsa Holiday Raw Food Potluck, which is scheduled for the evening of December 7th. Still working on the details of this, but I've put "my feelers" out for a special surprise guest to join us for this festive event (fingers crossed!). I'd love it if you'd plan to join us and make this part of your early holiday plans!
Last, but certainly not least, I will be driving to Dallas on the weekend of December 13-14th to be involved in Frank Giglio's Holiday Raw Food Prep Class. Susie Haces is not only the organizer of this Dallas group, but she is also a member of Real Food Tulsa as well. I've known of Frank through mutual friends for a couple of years but I finally had the opportunity to meet and spend a bit of time with him at this years Raw Spirit Festival in Sedona, Arizona. Frank couldn't be anymore darling, nor could he be more talented, humble and dynamic in a raw food kitchen. I love working with one who is so proficient with healthy food preparations as well as being classically trained like Frank. He brings the best of both worlds together. To read more about Frank Giglio, visit his blog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday with Assisi

From time to time I veer off the subject of food and health related topics to allow a glimpse into the more personal side of my life. As I awoke today, earlier than usual for a Sunday morning, I reflected upon an email that I received yesterday from a long time friend who had mentioned that she would like to see something about my faith on my blog bio. As I pondered this, it made me think of a quote that my husband shared from a recent funeral he attended. It is a classic quote from St. Francis of Assisi......."Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."

That quote seems to sum up my feelings regarding how I approach the sharing of my faith. Although I do attend church regularly, I don't consider myself to be a religious person. In my life I've observed that religion & religious people, in spite of well meaning intentions, can do a fine job of running people out of the church. Because of this, I try to be sensitive to and respectful of where people are spiritually. I am not one to proselytize, however, I am also not ashamed of my faith nor am I timid to state that I am eternally grateful for my relationship with Christ. I am also tremendously blessed to have a smorgasbord of friends, family and acquaintances from around the globe, many of whom have differing faiths.

In researching this quote, I ran across a number of other quotes by this most beloved Catholic saint and have put together a small selection I'd like to share with you on this lovely Sabbath morning. Regardless of your personal beliefs and faith, I hope that today you'll take strength and comfort in these words from St. Francis' timeless guidance and wisdom.

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

"While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart."

"Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.

"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love."

"If God can work through me, he can work through anyone. "

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Lately I've been feeling so inspired by the gifts, talents and strengths of others within the raw food community. Today I felt compelled to feature one of my favorite online inspirations, Shannonmarie. Shannon is hands down one of the most creative forces in the raw foods movement and with the photographs included in this post, you'll certainly agree. Shannon's online blog is titled Rawdorable, which couldn't be anymore fitting for her delightful personality and her deliciously edible works of art.Shannon's creativity was noticed by my friend Dhrumil Purohit, the creator of my favored raw blog - We Like It Raw, and he quickly asked her to become a regular contributor to the website. Dhrumil is right on when he shares that she has taken the creativity of raw food preparation to a whole new level. This week is Shannon's one year anniversary for being the in house food writer for WLIR.
Shannon's bio says that she's a 32-year-old wife and mom who enjoys working out, preparing raw foods, spending time with her family and sharing her healthy lifestyle with others. As a matter of fact, Shannon's passion for helping others has been evident in many lives. She was a lead catalyst in turning my friend Rawbin on to raw foods and helped her begin the amazing transformation that you can see here.
It is clear from the pictures posted on this entry and all throughout her website, it's high time we join together to get the proverbial fire lit under this dynamically talented raw girl. How about a recipe book, Shannonmarie??!! At this point, I'd be happy with a Rawdorable Ebook to download. I see greatness in what is happening in her kitchen and nobody else is doing what she has done with marrying this kind of whimsy with unbelievable taste sensations in raw foods.
When you have some time, make it a point to linger on Shannon's blog to find new inspiration in your own raw kitchens. Do drop her a note of encouragement and be sure to mention that we're all tapping our foot and crossing our fingers for Rawdorable to find it's way to a book store near us! Shannon, big props to you....way to Rawk it girl!!