Archive for February, 2012
Are you in a good mood or a bad mood today? I feel compelled to report I’ve been in a good mood for weeks. I believe it has something to do our old friend balance, about which my dear blog sister, Kristin, wrote with such eloquence just the other day. Sometimes we get tied to negativity on some level and aren’t able or ready to release it. That’s okay. Strength of spirit takes time and effort to develop just like strength of body. I don’t know much about the physical stuff, but I’ve been working pretty hard at finding some spiritual foundation upon which to balance my soul. Releasing negativity, no matter how comforting or familiar that energy has become, is a sure step towards fitness. And, evidently, good moods.
Do you know what else is sure to put you in a good mood? A treat from our dessert case in the Cafe. Our students are upstairs in Pastry Arts – Unbaked! right now so you should come in and check out the delectable raw goodness they’re learning to create. If you or someone you love is new to raw foods, keep in mind that raw desserts are one of the best ways to begin – a gateway to transitioning. Obviously we can’t eat our way to happiness, but then again, a piece of cheesecake made from nothing but whole, living foods is nothing to cry about!
It this modern world, it sometimes seems hard to find balance in life.
We all want to create lives that are fulfilling and rewarding without compromising who we are “au fond,” as the French say. In the depths of ourselves, in our hearts, we want to make a difference, and infuse our time on earth with meaning. I recently read an article called Free Your (Eco) Mind in Yes! Magazine by Frances Moore Lappé, author of the seminal Diet for a Small Planet. She still spends a lot of time thinking and writing about how to change the planet and make things better one person at a time. And although she was for a time a glamorous movie star, Audrey Hepburn spent the later years of her life doing charitable work. While many of us may never be famous, or make a huge impact in the world, each of us can do our very best to adhere to the principles we believe in and make a difference in our own smaller ways. One of the things that’s rewarding about working at Living Light is that our students come here to our school, and every one of them goes back out in the world and helps to create a better planet – whether they open a restaurant serving healthy food, write a recipe book, help in a senior center, or simply follow a raw vegan lifestyle, reducing their carbon footprint. How do you find balance in your life?
When Cherie Soria wrote her inspirational (and now classic) book Angel Foods, Healthy Recipes for Healthy Bodies in the early 90s she had to self-publish it, because most publishers were not ready for raw foods! She also made the decision to create a book that had both healthy raw and cooked vegan recipes. The book has been reprinted many times, and is currently available in German, Spanish, and Japanese. When I studied with Ann Wigmore in 1991, I could not find a raw food recipe book other than a couple of really simple ones by Viktoras Kulvinskas and Ann Wigmore. And now, lining our shelves at Living Light Marketplace, are literally dozens and dozens of books on raw vegan cuisine and lifestyle. A new book, with a dedication to Cherie, who mentored and taught all three authors, has appeared on our shelves recently, too. Popular raw food chefs Victoria Boutenko, Elaina Love, and Chad Sarno have collaborated on Raw and Beyond: How Omega-3 Nutrition is transforming the Raw Food Paradigm. In the book, all three authors discuss their “journeys” with raw foods, and how they have adapted their diets. None of them has remained a strict 100% raw fooder anymore – but each of them continues to incorporate many of the important principles about a plant-based diet that they’ve learned through the years, adapting and modifying their diets along the way. Living Light has come a long way since Cherie started our school in 1998, and yet things have come full circle like they usually do.
When I lived in Oakland, California I used to make a conscious effort to connect to the part of the world on which I was living. It was pretty paved over and who knew if those weeds under the overpass were indigenous or not. The estuary was right across the freeway from my loft, but it was pretty industrialized, too. I used to make a point to remember the ground, the water, the sky all used to be wild and natural and we were living on a piece of the earth. Now I live in Fort Bragg, California and am ashamed to say I now have to make a conscious effort to pay attention to the beautiful, wild and natural setting I’m in today. The trees, the flowers, the powerful Pacific is all right there and sometimes I don’t even notice till bedtime when I take a moment to review what’s right with my life. Oh well – being conscious and appreciative and careful with the gifts we’ve been given is a full time job and I’ve already got one of those.
Wild Mendocino was appreciated by my daughter and lots of Living Light employees this past Sunday as our directors, Dan and Cherie, sponsored a mushroom lecture and hunt. The event was led by Ryan Snow, mushroom expert, who gave the talk and then led our intrepid seekers through the woods. My daughter went with my roommate (who also happens to be Living Light’s Student Services Manager) and they came back with tons of mushrooms and knowledge. And the fresh faced flush of a day out in the wild part of the world. My son and I spent the time shopping for valentines and playing air hockey, in case you were wondering. We came home all flushed with competition and consumerism and ready to eat the spoils of the hunt. Modern life doesn’t always mix with connection to one’s surroundings, but it sure tastes good to try.
For anyone who missed our February newsletter, replete with Valentine’s recipes and resources, and the announcement for the winners of our latest Sweet Valentine Video Recipe Contest, it’s not too late to visit HotRawChef.com. Whether you voted or not, you can still sign up to receive the complete e-book with all of the recipes from 32 contestants, and you can still watch some or all of the demos, and learn some tricks and tips, just in time for Valentine’s Day! Winner Callie England created some yummy and beautiful One-Bite Strawberry Cheesecake Pops, that are as charming to look at as they must be to taste! Runner up Jennifer McClelland, a Living Light graduate, is a pioneer in the raw foods movement in China! And the People’s Choice winner, Jeevi, the laughing chef – well, you’ll see why he won in that category when you check out his online video. All of the contestants inspired us with their culinary creations. We have so much fun with the contest – and we know the chefs do, too. Here’s a link to the national press release we did to announce the winners!
I just found a flier in the printer about the juice we serve in the Living Light Café. We are now using juicers that use a slower squeezing process, as opposed to the high speed spinning kind we had before. This process greatly reduces the speed of oxidation and allows the juice to be stored for up to seventy two hours before degradation begins. This is good news as it allows one to benefit from all the healthy enzymes even if one can’t drink it right away. Our juice in the Living Light Café is always fresh, and now it’s also slow so you can choose how quickly you drink it.
I think slowing down is a good idea in everything – not just juice. I don’t just mean taking time to smell the roses and all that, although that’s a good idea, too. I mean really taking your time, like slowing your responses to life’s little surprises or starting your day with some reflection and requests for balance and guidance. I used to rush around a lot more than I do now – mainly trying to keep a couple steps ahead of myself and my own feelings, I guess. I try and live a more examined, transparent existence now and don’t mind spending time with myself. And I certainly don’t mind taking a little extra time to keep it that way.