I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SRK Tour Adventures: Oregon Part II

I know, I know... I've been real baaaaaad! I haven't blogged for almost an entire month!!! Eeek!

Not that I wasn't burning with the desire to bring you all up to date on our adventures but there was just sooooo much going on during the last leg of our mega tour! Throw in there a couple of van troubles and we had ourselves quite an intense time, to say the least. Don and I are shaking our heads in disbelief that we have really managed to successfully meet all of the many challenges that the Mystery put before us.

Anyhoo, after some 10 months on the road we made it back safely to Canada a few days ago, so now I'll be able to catch up with my blogging back log. Yay! As usual I have heaps of cool anecdotes and pics to share, so let's get started!

If you remember, in my last post I was telling you about our arrival in Oregon and our wonderful trip to the coast. By now you're probably getting familiar with Jozzie, as I've mentioned her a number of times on my blog. She's a friend I first met several years ago online on Raw Food Talk. After exchanging something like hundreds of emails, we finally briefly met 'in the flesh' in LA for some serious raw feasting at Au Lac, and then pulled into her driveway a few weeks later. Jozzie and Wayne were so welcoming, generously going out of their way in order to accommodate us and our furries.

I'm highly aware that our own Puss is on the chunky side (someone once wrote to me inquiring whether she was pregnant! lol) but trust me, she seems teeny compared to Punkster! He's like a ginormous fur ball!

We kept Puss in the bedroom the entire time to avoid any unpleasant feline encounters. (We think Puss is convinced that she's human and therefore doesn't care much for other cats.) As for Kylo and Punkster, well, let's just say that they weren't best buddies. On the morning after our arrival Punkster jumped on Kyky's back. Hum, not starting on a good foot! lol We had to keep a close eye on those two whenever they were in the house together. After a couple of weeks or so they finally came to a place where they at least tolerated each other's presence.

I just had to take a pic of the first time they were able to be in the same room and relaxed about it, as it was such an event! lol

Although Kylo hasn't had very many kids around him, he quickly adjusted to Jozzie and Wayne's grand daughter, Kylie. One afternoon we noticed them hanging out together on the front lawn.


Welcome to Green Smoothie Land
Jozzie and Wayne live only a few miles from the Boutenko family with whom they're good friends. In case you've had your head buried in the sand in the last six years, they are the initiators of what is now known as 'The Green Smoothie Revolution". (I've outlined the premise of their approach in my post Color Your World Green.) Believe it or not, I'd never actually read their award winning book Green for Life. Jozzie had a huge pile of them sitting on her desk so I finally had a chance to grab one. Victoria begins with the words: "Observation constitutes the foundation of every science." Neat! This principle is also at the core of the intention that Don and I use to conduct our lives. Anyhoo I thought it was kinda fitting that I should read this acclaimed book on the Boutenkos' turf.

Jozzie started making green smoothies after attending one of Victoria's lectures and Wayne soon jumped onto the wagon too. In fact, the latter became so enthusiastic about it that he became the designated smoothie maker of the household. ;-) He whips up a Vitamix container of green smoothie every day, sometimes even two! When I first saw Wayne at work I could not believe how many greens he managed to fit in there! He has developed a brilliant technique that allows him to include a maximum amount of greens into his daily brews.

First he blends his fruits along with some water. He likes to use pineapple, banana, orange and sometimes grapes. Then he starts adding his greens in. He uses a variety of them depending on what's available in his garden and in the wild. That day he threw in some sorrel, kale, mixed baby greens, miner’s lettuce, carrot tops and dandelion.

Blending shrinks down the greens which makes room to include yet even more!

He basically repeats this process 2 or 3 times until the Vitamix is completely full. I figure that Wayne's smoothies have about 5 cups of blended fruits to 3 cups of blended leafy greens. Hee hah!

Now that’s what I call a green smoothie!

It was soooooo delicious! A veritable powerhouse of nutrients!

Fresh greens can be quite expensive if you're buying them at the store, but Wayne has built awesome little hothouses that make it possible for him to harvest them all year around. He grows kale (dinosaur and purple), beets (small leaves for salads), bok choy, chard, spinach, sorrel and dandelions.

He also has some microgreens going at any given time. These are basically seedlings of various vegetables and greens which are generally harvested after they form their first true leaves. Unlike sprouts, which are grown in water, microgreens are grown in soil. They are also said to be more nutritious than sprouts. Wow, I'd like to get into it if we ever get sedentary again! ;-) A friend of Jozzie, Lani Rosetta, has actually written a small booklet about them. I don't think it's available from her website yet but you could drop her a line if you're interested.

Jozzie kept complaining that Don's smoothies weren't green enough, but by the time we left he had turned into quite the Master Green Smoothie Man too!

Go Don go! Jam those green babies in!

Born To Be Wild
One day we took a little break from our uncooking projects (which was no small feat!) in order to enjoy some of the gorgeous spring weather. We went to a nearby park in Jacksonville that offers several miles of trails among some really cool varieties of trees.

The manzanita tree trunk is twisted with a rich and shiny mahogany color.

The madrone tree with its bark peeling off.

Kyky had a blast, as always. He's been so enjoying having different walks virtually every day.

He even encountered a miniature version of himself! hehe

Too cute!

To my great excitement (and that's an understatement; I was nearly jumping up and down with joy!) there were tons of false Solomon seal growing alongside the path! (I've already written about these succulent greens in a previous post about wild edibles.) They were at the perfect stage where the entire flower and first leaves can be harvested and eaten. Their flavor is reminiscent of asparagus. Soooooo sweet and tasty! When foraged later on, the leaves have fully unfolded and are great in salads (if still tender) or in smoothies.

This next pic shows false Solomon seal at various stages.

As you can guess I picked some to take home, but it was mighty hard for me not to eat them straight off the plant! Jozzie said I looked like a wild woman. ;-)

But that day's foraging adventures weren't over yet! Yay! On the way home we stopped at their friends' farm in order to pick miner's lettuce - another so called 'weed'.

Look at these beauties! The leaves and stems are so thick and juicy! Yummo!

In Jozzie's Sunny Kitchen
The idea of Jozzie and I getting together to play with food had often popped up over the years and here it was, happening at last! As you'll see from the pictures of all the food we've whipped up we were very busy indeed! She had prepared a folder with some 70 new recipes that she was hoping we'd make! Eeek! Between our surprise trip to the coast and the prepping for 3 classes, we only managed to tackle a handful of them. Not to mention that I also had my eyes on a few recipes from Jozzie's huge array of raw books.

In the soup department, besides enjoying some old favorites we also got to try several new concoctions. Good thing, as our repertoire was in need of some revamping.

A simple Cream of Tomato Soup with fresh herbs from Jozzie's garden.

Avocado Soup with Blood Orange and Mango Salsa from Sarma's new (and awesome!) Living Raw Food.

I'd also received a copy of Raw Food, Fast Food by Philip of Loving Raw (Heathy's new sweetheart). What a vibrant and colorful little book! He has a very innovative approach to recipe creation, using a lot of 'fairly new' (at least to me! lol) and exotic ingredients such as superfoods, young coconuts and kelp noodles. Basically all the stuff I'm never too sure what to make with! On my 'To Do List': Mom's Mac & Cheese made with jicama noodles (man, never thunk of that!), Fettucini with 'Meat Balls' using mesquite, maple syrup, maca and nutritional yeast, among other things (I'm salivating as I'm typing this!) and a sweet and savory Layered Quiche made with young coconut meat.

But for me one of the best parts is that Raw Food, Fast Food features several soups that immediately caught my attention. Philip uses a noticeably different soup making technique than ours which made it the more exciting for me. For instance, rather than avocado he uses hemp seeds or hemp butter in order to give creaminess to his soups. He also sometimes calls for mesquite to add a smoky flavor. What a cool idea! Every soup recipe we tried was a hit!

Cucumber Dill Soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup

I held off on the spices a bit on this one as our taste buds have grown sensitive. Sooooo tasty! I bet it would also make an awesome sauce over noodles by simply using less water.

The curried New England Corn Chowder - A definite new favorite!

We added about 1 1/2 cups hot water for a warmer soup.

But 'nuff soup talk for now. (You know me... I could just go on and on forever about soups!)

On the day of our arrival we enjoyed a variety of crackers with cheezes as appetizer, including Dr. Cow's famous matured Tree Nut Cheeses.

Jozzie had also prepared all of the components for Matthew Kenney's Summer Squash Pancakes with 'yogurt' and sweet tomato jam from his Entertaining In The Raw book. I'd been meaning to make this recipe and was thrilled to try it.


As I wasn't feeling well for the first couple of days Jozzie had to prep food without me, which was kind of ironic considering how long we'd both been waiting for this chance to finally uncook together. I had to play food foreman from the living room couch and give her instructions for my Spinach & Cream Casserole. lol

We later took it to a St-Patrick's Day raw potluck. "What? Socializing when I should have been comfortably tucked in bed!" you say? But how could I pass on such an opportunity to munch on food that other people had prepared? ;-)

Didn't she do a fab job?

The rest of the spread...

On the sweet side there was a coconut mango dessert and a lemon pie.

For dinner the next day we each assembled our own spring rolls with rice paper and nori. I love rolls! They're so light and tasty and you can use whatever's hanging around the kitchen. Jozzie had prepped some lettuce leaves, shredded purple cabbage, carrots, green onions, cilantro and mango. We enjoyed them dipped in Cherie Soria's Hoisin Sauce.

Thankfully I was quickly back on my feet and we hit the kitchen floor running with a mega Indian feast.

We used a mixture of carrots and cauliflower for the filling as I don't care much for the cauli's strong flavor.

Elaina Love's Bombay Curry which she demos on utube here.

This dish was actually very similar to a Curry Sauce by Richard Salome that we've made a number of times. I'm thinking that it's probably an adaptation of hers.

Since we had some jicama we took on the challenge of recreating the delicious 'steam rice' we tasted at Au Lac. It was so yummy that Jozzie had ordered some to take back to Oregon. This in turn enabled her to stumble upon their secret ingredient. See, in the take out container was ground jicama and a separate container of oil and green onions to be mixed in just before serving. As Jozzie hadn't used all of the oil mixture I was able to examine it more closely. As soon as I took off the lid a slight but unmistakable aroma of roasted sesame oil reached my nostrils. Ah-ah! We've concluded that they probably added just a touch of it to give flavor to the rice along with good quality olive oil. Jozzie was beyond herself that we were able to break Au Lac's jicama rice culinary code! lol

On a different note, we made Raw Food Real World's Raviolis with beet and watermelon radish. Donnie cut the veggies manually with a knife and they were on the thick side. As a result the flavor of the beet was too overwhelming. If I was to make this again I'd definitely slice the beet thinner with the help of a mandoline or a spiral slicer. I particularly liked the Pepper Puree and pine nut mixture that accompanied the dish.

Red Beet Ravioli
By Sarma MeIngalis
Posted on GreenChefs here

The colors in this dish are amazing: the bright blush of beets, the sunniness of yellow or orange pepper sauce, the summer-green herbs. When in season, experiment with candy stripe beets and try other herbs for the cashew filling. We use Sicilian pistachios that we buy at a Middle Eastern market. They’re a darker green and better-tasting than other types, especially when raw.

“Originally I tried to make red beet gnocchi using beet juice and ground up whole beets with other ingredients. They came out tasty, but our kitchen looked as if a gruesome crime had been committed. So I deconstructed the components a bit and came up with these much more manageable raviolis instead.” - SM

For the filling:
3 cups cashew nuts, soaked for 2 hours or more
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/4 to 2 teaspoons salt
2 green onions, white and 1 inch green, minced
3 tablespoons minced tarragon
2 tablespoons minced parsley

In a food processor, blend the nuts, lemon juice and zest, yeast, and salt until smooth. Transfer the filling to a medium bowl and fold in the onions, tarragon, and parsley. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice, if needed. The filling should have the consistency of ricotta cheese. Store it covered in the refrigerator if not using right away; it tastes best if you bring it back to room temperature before assembling and serving.

For the pepper puree:
3 yellow or orange bell peppers, cored and cleaned
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 green onion, white part only
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts (plus 2 tablespoons, if needed), soaked 30 mins to 1 hour
1 small pinch ground (or fresh) turmeric (optional, for added color)

In a Vita-Mix or high-speed blender, blend all the ingredients until smooth. If the sauce is too liquid, add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of soaked pine nuts. Place in a squeeze bottle or other cover container and refrigerate if not using right away.

For the assembly:
1 large bunch red beets (2 inches diameter or more)
2 to 3 tablespoons macadamia oil, other nut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Coarse sea salt
1 handful chopped pistachios, preferably Sicilian
1 teaspoon pistachio, other nut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
1 small handful fresh tarragon leaves, torn or left whole
Freshly ground black pepper
Micro-greens for garnish (optional)

1. Using a mandolin, slice the beets very thin (about 1/16 inch or less). Make stacks and cut into 2-inch squares. The size doesn’t matter much, as long as they are all roughly the same. You should have at least fifty slices. In a medium bowl, add the beet slices, macadamia oil, lemon juice, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Toss to coat: there should be enough oil and lemon juice to coat all of the slices, but not so much that they are dripping liquid.

2. Arrange half the beet slices flat on serving plates. Place a generous dollop of the filling on each slice. Sauce the plates with the pepper puree, using either a squeeze bottle or just spooning it over the beets and filling (this way some of the sauce will be inside each ravioli). Top each ravioli with a beet slice, pressing down gently.

3. In a small bowl, toss the chopped pistachios with the oil and a pinch of sea salt. Sprinkle each ravioli with the pistachios and top with the tarragon. Grind a bit of black pepper over the plates and garnish with micro-greens, if desired. We use beet micro-greens at the restaurant -- they’re pretty and delicate.

Serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a main course.

One night we had Cherie Soria's Linguini Parody with Pine Nut and Cashew Truffle Cream. Jozzie had bought truffle oil and Mendocino seaweed especially for the occasion. This had such a lovely subtle flavor from the truffle oil. Very very good!

Linguini Parody with Pine Nut and Cashew Truffle Cream
By Cherie Soria
Posted on Raw Freedom Community here

Yield: 3-4 servings

This is one of my Mendocino coast signature dishes, specifically created to feature local mushrooms and seaweeds, but also includes vegetables that are still abundant in our gardens in the fall. It is a "foodies" delight, with its earthy truffle and porcini flavors and the colorful tomato, yellow peppers, and fresh dill. Tune into Supreme Master TV to see Cherie harvesting fresh sea vegetables on the Mendocino coast.

We use locally harvested seaweed (wakame or kombu) from Rising Tide Sea Vegetables and porcini mushrooms from Mendocino Mushrooms in this recipe, as well as THE BEST Truffle oil we have found - TartuLanghe's Olio con Tartufo (Truffle Oil). A little goes a long way... enhancing the flavor of your favorite soups and sauces. All three of these products have earned the Cherie's Choice seal of approval, and you can find them online at RawFoodChef.com!

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup purified water

4 medium zucchini (1 pound)
1 teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt

Truffle Cream
1/4 cup pine nuts, soaked 2 hours, rinsed, and drained
1/4 cup cashews, soaked 2 hours, rinsed, and drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon tamari
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
1 - 2 teaspoons truffle oil
Pinch of white pepper

1/2 cup seeded and finely julienned Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup finely julienned red onion
1/4 cup finely julienned yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons kombu or wakame, soaked for 2 hours, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh dill weed
1/2 tablespoon dulse flakes
1/2 teaspoon kelp powder
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, for garnish
Freshly ground pepper

1. In a small bowl, combine the mushrooms with the water, and allow them to soften for 1 hour.

2. For the linguini: While the mushrooms are soaking, cut the zucchini into long, thin strips resembling linguini. A spiral slicer or Spirooli is perfect for this application. In a large bowl, sprinkle the salt on the zucchini noodles, toss well several times, and set aside.

3. After 1 hour, drain the mushrooms, reserving the water for use in the sauce. Dice the mushrooms and set aside.

4. For the truffle cream: Combine the pine nuts, cashews, lemon juice, tamari, agave, truffle oil, and white pepper in a high-performance blender, adding a small amount of the mushroom soak water, as needed, to make a very thick creamy sauce.

5. Drain the zucchini noodles thoroughly, gently squeezing to remove excess liquid, then toss in the sauce, the mushrooms, and the other remaining ingredients.

6. Garnish with minced parsley and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.

7. Serve immediately.

Staying with the sea veggie theme we made sea spaghetti that my friend Joanna (Velvet on RFC) sells at her newly opened online store, Sirova. Unlike kelp noodles, sea spaghetti is an all-natural, unprocessed, unheated and nutritious product. (Make sure to drop by this thread to find out more about it!) Sounded mighty good to me! I ended up ordering a whole case after reading lots of raving reviews on the forum.

We followed Velvet's Garlic & Butter recipe, tossing the spaghetti with a little olive oil, garlic, parsley, pepper and topping it with a sprinkle of pine nuts and hemp seeds. Hum, I have to admit that it wasn't a huge hit, probably because it was such a new thing for us. I think that a sauce would have provided a better initiation as the spaghetti definitely has more of a seaweedy flavor than kelp noodles. I'll be reporting back on our future experiments!

We served the spaghetti with another recipe from Philip's book: Endive Boats with Herbed Cream Cheese. We had a few different cheezes lying around from previous dishes we made so we also stuffed some of the endives with them.

During our little escapade to Living Light in Fort Bragg, California Jozzie was thrilled to find king oyster mushrooms at the local health food store.

We made the King Oyster Mushroom “Calamari” Cocktail Sauce and Tartar Sauce from Living Raw Food. Cutting holes through the stems of the mushrooms was a bit arduous but the result was surprising. Even Wayne was impressed with how closely the chewy texture of the mushrooms resembled the real thing.

During a visit at Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco, Jozzie tried their Bruschetta and fell totally in love with it. Since the one featured in Cafe Gratitude's I am Grateful is completely different Jozzie wrote to Terces asking for the recipe, as she was determined to make it at home. Terces kindly accepted to share it. (Thank you!!!)

We've made marinated mushies heaps of times (usually with lemon juice or even with only olive oil, tamari and garlic) but there truly is something special about the delicate flavor that balsamic vinegar yields to mushrooms.

Marinated Bruschetta Mushrooms
Recipe graciously shared by Terces of Cafe Gratitude

1/2 lb crimini mushrooms sliced thin (get the smallest ones if you can!)
2 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
4 tbs oil
1 tbs capers diced
1/2 tbs mixed herbs
1/4 tsp sea salt

Mix with Love and let marinate.

Serve on crackers topped with cashew cheeze. (We enjoyed ours on Cafe Gratitude's Buckwheat Crackers topped with my Garlic & Dill Cheeze. Mmmmmmm

Pi Pi Pi Pizza Party!
Of all the incredible entrees one can make in the raw, pizza's gotta be one of my absolute faves! It's the perfect 'fast food'; you just have to make sure to always keep some crusts on hand in your freezer. And the variations are virtually endless! When Jozzie and I were at Au Lac we saw flyers for an upcoming pizza class by May Salem. We couldn't stick around for it but Jozzie purchased the ebook when she got home. Naturally we set an afternoon aside in order to have a mega pizza party and try some of May's recipes. Joz has a big circle of friends who are into healthy eating and several of them joined us for the kitchen fun.

From left to right next to yours truly: Lani (the chia and microgreens lady), Sathya (more about her in minute), Jozzie, Amy and Doretta.

Jozzie and I had to do a bit of prep ahead of time. We dehydrated two different kinds of pizza crusts. I had experimented with sprouted grain based breads only very early on my raw journey. After making a real mess passing the ingredients through a Champion juicer with the blank plate, I tried to dehydrate my first batch of manna bread in the sun. Being in Canada where it doesn't really get that hot in the first place, let's just say that it wasn't too successful. I pretty much forgot about sprouted grains after that except for buckwheat, which you only need to soak overnight. (I like simple!) In the light of the incredible garlic bread we had at Au Lac I was intrigued to give bread making another try.

May's Sprouted Kamut crusts

Her recipe calls for blending the sprouted kamut grains in the blender with some water, which I thought sure beat having to use a Champion juicer. We were amazed at how much the dough really resembled regular bread dough. Wow! Once dehydrated, the texture was quite interesting but we felt it really lacked in flavor. Next time I make this methinks I'll add more sea salt and some Italian type herbs .

The other one was a pizza crust (I forget the recipe's exact name) from Jeremy Safron's book The Raw Truth which called for sprouted buckwheat and veggies.

I really liked the taste that the caraway seeds lent to the crusts but didn't really care for the texture. Perhaps it's that we dehydrated them too long.

We had also made Raw Vegan Pepperoni, again from the Raw Pizza ebook, as well as Sausage balls from Barbarads' Ultimate Sausage and Pepper Pizza Project.

Jozzie cutting the pepperoni. We added more hot spices to give it a stronger bite. Good stuff!

Jozzie didn't have fennel for the Sausage but on my insistence got her son to pick some up for us. And a good thing too! It was a big hit!

2 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 cup walnuts
pinch of cayenne
Dash of crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp each, salt, pepper, oregano, basil

Process the walnuts until well chopped. Add dates, fennel, basil, oregano, salt and peppers, and process until it begins to come together, but still has texture.

Roll into small balls and dehydrate at 110 degrees 6-8 hours.

Amy, Doretta and Sathya gave us a hand preparing a variety of spreads and toppings. We made tomato, cheese and pesto sauces, also from the pizza recipe ebook. The pesto called for dates which I thought was unusual. We were a good sport and followed the recipe but I personally think it would have been better without.

The girls working on the Tomato Sauce. You can see Don, the dedicated dishwasher, in the background waving the sponge. lol

Marinated veggies: red and yellow bell peppers, spinach and mushrooms tossed in olive oil, tamari and crushed garlic.

That afternoon I also did a short demo of how to make fermented cashew cheeze and prepared a batch of Basil & Garlic Cheeze. The other components for my Tuscan Pizza: sliced red onion, cherry tomatoes and black olives and Brazil Nut Parmesan.

Each of us then assembled our own pizzas.

Enjoying the fruit of our handiwork!

But no party would be complete without dessert!

Sathya had brought along her rendition of ChefJana's Mango Cream Tart which we proceeded to turn into a piece of edible artwork.

Ain't that purrty?

Organic Kent Mango Cream Tart

Contributed by GreenChef Jana on G Living's GreenChefs

This is one of those desserts your guests will really remember.

Makes about 4-5 small tarts

2 Cups Almonds
1/2 Cup Dried Coconut
1 TB Coconut Butter
2 tsp. Lime Zest
2 TB Agave Syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Salt

Process the Almonds and the Dried Coconut and Salt in a food processor until it becomes a fine meal. Add the rest of the ingredients and process again until it clumps together in a ball. Remove the dough and press it into the bottom of 4 4” tart pans with removable bottoms. Place these in the freezer to set while you work on making the creme filling to go inside it.

3 Cups Fresh Kent Mangos
1/2 Cup Coconut Butter
1 TB Vanilla Extract
1 TB Lime Juice
1/2 Cup Agave or Maple
1/8 tsp. Salt

Blend the ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. Take out your tart shells and with a spatula, fill each tart shell with the creme filling. Cover each tart and place in your fridge to set for 4-5 hrs. Once it is set, remove the wrap and place sliced fresh whole Kent Mango slices on top and serve. Lovely.

Amy had brought fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate.

What a way to end an already rawesome feast!

Solmate Sisters
I thought I'd tell you a little more about Sathya who I mentioned attended the raw pizza party. I learned that she has been following my blog from the very beginning! Wowsers! We felt more like long time friends being reunited than strangers meeting for the first time. Sathya has also been a member of Raw Freedom Community for a while and said she'd been particularly enjoying Jozzie's contributions.

She was thrilled to find out that not only did Jozzie live only an hour and a half away but that Don and I were coming to visit. Amazingly, in spite of her busy schedule the Universe conspired, on several occasions, to allow her to join us in the kitchie. ("I just want to spend time with you guys!" she told me.) When she came to the Italian Feast class I couldn't help but comment on how adorable her colorful mismatched socks were. The next time she visited us she brought me a pair of Solmate socks of my own! How sweet!

It's Not Just About The Food You Eat
In the last couple of months or so I've been watching my body gradually change, getting new curves I never had before. “Duh, that’s hardly surprising with all the desserts you’ve been having lately!” some of you may think. I realize that this would be an obvious conclusion to make but I don't think that these are the true culprits. Lord knows that we’ve had our share of amazing dishes (including an abundance of desserts!) since I've started experimenting with gourmet raw food. Just browse through my past posts and you’ll see what I mean. I'd even sometimes receive an email or comment from someone wondering how on earth I could eat all of those desserts and manage to stay so skinny. I had no real answer to that one except that I had the mostly raw diet and my metabolism to thank for it.

Since going high raw my weight has been quite stable, picking up a few pounds during wintertime for natural insulation against the Canadian winter, then releasing it effortlessly again come spring. But what’s been happening to my body as of late feels different. My diet hasn’t changed significantly yet the weight suddenly started to pile up. It has come to me in a few different ways that this is due to the ongoing stress of being on the road.

Something I read on this site confirmed my suspicions: "Whether we're stressed because of constant, crazy demands at work or we're really in danger, our bodies respond like we're about to be harmed and need to fight for our lives (or run like heck). To answer this need, we experience a burst of energy, shifts in metabolism and blood flow, and other changes." During times of physical or psychological stress, excess cortisol is secreted. According to an article on MedicineNet.com, "this disruption of cortisol secretion may not only promote weight gain, but it can also affect where you put on the weight."

I'm grateful for how this trip has also given me a very different perspective on the relationship between food and weight. It's been really interesting and enlightening to stay at several different homes and encounter so many people. Everyone's story of how they've come to include more raw into their diets is in many ways so unique! I have met folks that actually consume much less food than I do and still haven't released some unwanted weight despite the fact that their overall health has improved. Again, while what you eat is important, it's by no means everything! There's other factors that come into play such as metabolism, specific individual health condition, stress (as I was just pointing out) and even more subtle energetics.

It sure feels strange to be in a noticeably different body but I don’t intend to fast to get rid of the extra weight. As long as we're on the move and our situation doesn't stabilize I would be merely fighting what naturally wants to happen. Big waste of energy in our book! I trust my body’s ability to heal itself and get back to balance when given the chance. The best I can do is to attempt to give it the rest and relaxation that it requires and see what happens. *shrugs*

Speaking of which, I'm off tomorrow in order to serve at a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat. After the intense busy-ness of the last several months I feel that this is exactly what I need.

Talk to you when I get back!