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!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Time To Head Back: The Journey North Part II

Sorry guys! It took a little longer than I expected to put out this post. We've been camping and without much internet access ever since our return to BC. No matter, I'm now back to wrap up our adventures in Washington state and on American soil!

Carmella Meets Frank
Sometime during our travels last year someone pointed out to me the trailer for the movie May I Be Frank. The documentary follows the transformation of Frank Ferrante, a 54 years old, obese, depressed and addicted man originally from Brooklyn. To me, Frank's story is such a fantastic example of how truly magical Life is! Back in 2006 on a gloomy day he 'happened' to stumble into one of the Café Gratitude locations in San Francisco. When he was asked the question of the day: “What is one thing you want to do before you die?”, Frank replied, “I want to fall in love one more time, but no one will love me looking the way I do”. Ryland, the waiter, his brother Cary, and Conor, his best friend, were immediately inspired by the possibility of helping Frank. For the next 42 days they did a sort of reverse 'Super Size Me'; Frank eating only raw food, practicing gratitude, visiting local holistic practitioners, and getting a weekly colonic.  

The few minutes' worth of trailer made readily apparent how good hearted and honest Frank was, and I was curious to witness in greater detail the story of his astonishing transformation. And so as we traveled this year I kept checking where the screenings of the movie would take place around the US, hoping there would be a fit with our schedule. Amazingly I discovered that May I Be Frank would be shown near Seattle exactly when we'd be passing through. (No small feat considering how completely unpredictable our itinerary has proven to be!) 

And so Tiffany (who we had also met during previous visits) and I headed out to the new Thrive Wellness Center in Sedro Wooley to attend the screening of the documentary. (Yay!) I could hardly wait to finally watch the movie and found myself unusually excited as we made our way there. Perhaps because of the metamorphosis that I also experienced thanks partly to my eating more raw food, I could sense that it was somehow important that I meet Frank. I'm still not clear as to why him exactly; I'm sure there are lots of people out there that have undergone a major physical/psychological change.

On the May I Be Frank website they speak of a "miraculous transformation" and that it truly was. As a result of this spontaneous and heart driven experiment - a healing journey that continued much beyond those initial 40 some days - Frank released 110 lbs and got "a new body, a clearer mind, and most importantly, a soaring spirit." (I mean look at that picture to the right. Isn't he just glowing?) The movie did a wonderful job at capturing the process in a realistic, honest and very powerful way. I particularly appreciated how it highlighted the fact that it's not only a matter of changing the food you eat but also the way you think and feel about yourself.

We were able to appreciate the extent of Frank's transformation for ourselves when he joined us after the movie in order to answer a few questions. I recognized in him the same good nature and contagious sense of humor I had seen on screen, but otherwise he seemed like an entirely different person. He is now so vibrant and joyful and full of life and, well, even sexy! ;-) Such a dramatic contrast with the sick and defeated man who walked into Cafe Gratitude years earlier!


Eating healthy while on the road can be at times very challenging (we can certainly attest to that!) and Frank has since put on a few pounds. However he shared with us that after reading a couple of paragraphs of The China Study that very afternoon he had decided to fully commit to a whole food plant based diet. Hee hah!

I later had a chance to meet Frank and it was a special moment. When I walked up to him we silently looked into each other's eyes for several seconds. We then exchanged a long, warm hug. Without my knowing, Tiffany captured snippets of our connection.


During the movie I was especially touched by a scene where Frank shares with Matthew Engelhart - the owner of Cafe Gratitude - that one of the things he wished the most was to be of service to the world. Interestingly, this whole project which was so mysteriously delivered to him by Life has proven to be the perfect means to do just that; inspiring people through the movie and the direct sharing of his experience to begin leading a healthier and more fulfilled life. This is very much how I feel about this blog; it offers me such a wonderful venue to share about my own healing journey and hopefully assist others in the process. I am so very grateful for this opportunity to make a difference!

Notice the orbs of light?


Fellow health pilgrims on a heart mission.

I had brought my new book along with the intention of offering it to Frank, although I doubted (and rightfully so he confirmed!) that he gets to do much food prep these days, with all his traveling to the many screenings across the country. Still, he said that he'd very much like my book and asked for me to sign it. He also immediately offered me one of his DVDs in exchange, and so we proceeded to sign each other's work. Another unique and special moment.

Isn't this a great shot?

Tiffany was next in line. What a lucky man, eh? Now he gets to hug and be surrounded by more radiant female beauty than he could have ever dreamed of in his 'past life'! ;-)


And So We Meet Again
As if this already extraordinary evening wasn't enough, at the movie's screening I also got to meet yet another beautiful and light spirit. Jean has been following my blog for a number of years. She said she almost invited us to Maryland during our last tour when we drove through the east coast, but the timing wasn't quite right. As it turns out Life was to unexpectedly bring us together after all! A few months ago she sold her home back east and, much like us, is now leading a nomadic lifestyle. She recently came to the Seattle area to spend time with her daughter which made me appreciate all the more the timeliness of our encounter. Yay! We felt like long lost friends crossing paths again, experiencing a depth of connection that goes much beyond what the mind can rationally explain.

We got together a second time a couple of days later, giving her an opportunity to also meet Don who hadn't come to the screening. We were all so enthralled in our exchange that before we knew it hours had gone by! Her travels might very well take her later to BC to visit us, The Mystery willing. ;-)

Meet & Greet at Thrive
 Thrive has become a regular stop whenever we come to the Seattle area. We usually just enjoy a meal there together with other friends and raw enthusiasts, however this time we had a little book signing event. Wherever we go I always trust that whoever needs to meet us will be there and I could feel that it was very much the case that night.

Among those who came was Cheryl, better known as Ocean on Raw Freedom Community. She is a super talented recipe creator and is the woman behind the now famous 'Oh My This Is A Tuna!' recipe that has become one of our staples. We'd been brushing shoulders on our forum for years and it was so lovely to finally get to meet in the flesh.


It also gave us a chance to spend some time with Karen, mother of the owner Monika, who is in charge of Thrive's Vitality Shop. She is a cancer survivor who healed herself partly with a raw vegan diet. She was no doubt one of the main inspirations behind the creation of Thrive and is now dedicating heaps of energy into her daughter's endeavor to help ensure its success.

Sharing The Raw Buzz
The next evening we did a raw demo for a bunch of Tiffany's friends. Most of them had never really experienced raw foods beyond smoothies and were quite impressed with all the possibilities. In hindsight it was probably one of the smoothest classes that I have given; the location was beautiful (our host Susan lives right on the water), the people were relaxed and interested, and the food turned out great! Yay!

Tiffany was so thrilled at this opportunity to spread the raw buzz among her circle of friends and poured lots of time and energy into it, bless her heart! Her help contributed to making the whole thing go like a breeze.


Even the sun came to say 'hi!' just as we were getting started. ;-)

Happy munchers from the look of them!


Last Stop: Anacortes
I suppose that, much like last year, our Seattle stop proved to be an eventful one, but it also felt very different in other ways. I was so exhausted from our 6 months of being on the road back then that I was pretty much operating on adrenaline. As was to be expected, I later completely crashed as soon as we returned to Canada. During this trip I was able to stay true to my intention of taking it easy and made sure I did whatever it took to rest along the way, generally keeping myself centered and energized. I consider that quite an achievement as especially on the road it can be so difficult to step away from Life's momentum. I also managed to stay up to date with my blogging which has also been a huge relief; it was such a horrible feeling to always be behind the eight ball last year, not being able to keep up with the stories and pictures that continued to accumulate as we traveled.

And so we said goodbye to Seattle and headed for our last US destination: Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. It was our last drive on a multi-lane freeway (I counted no less than 5 on either side at some point!) and we certainly weren't going to miss it.

Don pointed out an unusual humvee limo passing us by.

Last spring we'd considered going to Anacortes on our way to Vancouver Island, but it wasn't in the cards. And so we had to wait another year before getting a chance to visit Kiki (aka Green Jeanie on RFC). She lives in a beautiful rustic circular home in the woods. In many ways the setting felt so familiar, not only because of the peacefulness of the location but also due to the north west rain forest flora. I couldn't help but flash back to when we used to live on Vancouver Island almost 10 years ago.

As The Mystery would have it, while we were making our way to Anacortes, Kiki was headed to Seattle for a few days. At least we'd managed to hook up with her at Thrive the previous weekend and she kindly offered us the use of her cabin while she was gone. We thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to reconnect with Nature and downshift gears, so to speak, before heading 'home'. I truly can't think of a more perfect place to end this chapter of our US travels! Of course, the furries could sense it too and immediately felt right at home.


King Kyky lounging on the sofa. hehe

We weren't sure whether we'd still be around for Kiki's day off - our original plan was to only stay for two or three days - but when she returned to the cabin we had such wonderful and insightful exchanges that we just HAD to hang around a while longer. One of the reasons Kiki and I had bonded online is that we're both long time Vipassana meditators. I had a sense that our sharing the same practice hinted at a deeper alignment and I was right; the two of us hit it off right away!

Not surprisingly Puss' favorite spot in the entire house was Kiki's meditation cushion. Lovin' all that good energy and metta! ;-)

Kiki is an acupuncturist and herbalist and has just launched a super cool project called Poppy Swap. Loosely based on the eBay model, Poppy Swap is an online market place for herbalists to come together and offer their handmade products. You can find everything from body care, to natural remedies, custom teas and inspired art. What an awesome way to explore the power of cooperation! You guys just ought to check it out and watch it blossom as it undoubtedly will!

Walking In Beauty
Not only does Kiki live in a superb location but she is also surrounded by an awesome community of friends, her 'family' as she calls them. When we first arrived we were greeted by her neighbors, Paul and Laurie, who immediately invited us for tea. They both love the outdoors and let us in on the nice walks to be had in the area. We usually took their dogs, Fozzy Bear and Luna, on our daily escapades in the woods. Fozzy is almost completely deaf and is such a sweet heart. In spite of his old age he always trotted along enthusiastically.

Sunset Walk
We were also invited by Kiki's friends, Bob and Pattie, to visit their gorgeous home made up of several interconnected yurt style buildings. They live just a short walk away from the seashore and one evening we joined Bob on one of his 'sunset walks'. Although the sky was covered the view of the nearby islands was astonishing and we sat in silence for some time, taking all that beauty in. Definitely a power spot!

Here you can see the Olympic Mountains in the distance.

Let's Sit Together
Kiki and Bob get together several times a week in order to meditate (or "sit" in the Vipassana lingo). I was really blown away by their dedication as it can be so challenging to maintain a meditation practice amidst our everyday busy-ness. One evening a few of us gathered in one of Bob's beautiful circular structures.

Notice the living roof?


It's always such a different experience to meditate with others and the round space made it the more special and powerful.

In Kiki's Sunny Kitchen
Kiki has an old Excalibur which I mistook at first for a microwave oven (hehe) as the controls are directly alongside the trays. I jumped on the chance to whip up a few things as our stock of dehydrated goodies was getting pretty low.

Don and I made the Nori Snacks which we absolutely adore.

I also played around creating flax crackers based on an ingredient list that Janine had shared with us. They weren't exactly like hers but we are both really happy with the result.


Mexi Flax Crackers
3 cups flax seeds, soaked in 1 1/2 cups water
2 cups peeled and chopped zucchini
1/2 cup almond pulp (leftover from making milk)
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked
1/2 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 green onions, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
2 tbs lemon or lime juice
1/2 tbs chili powder
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp or more of North West Fire from Penzey's Spices (chili or chipotle powder would work too!)
1/16 tsp or more of chipotle powder

Blend all ingredients until smooth in food processor.

Spread on teflex sheets.

Dehydrate at 120 for a couple of hours, flip onto mesh and continue dehydrating until completely dry.

And lastly I also tried to recreate Buckwheat Breakfast Crusts that we bought at a health food store in Ojai. When we didn't have access to electricity they made such a nice alternative to smoothies! We enjoyed them with some almond butter, honey and slices of banana.

Sweet Buckwheat Crusts
2 cups buckwheat groats, soaked overnight
1 cup flax seeds, soaked
3/4 cup soft dates
2 tbs water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup gogi berries
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1 tbs orange zest
Blend first set of ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Fold in the rest of the ingredients.

Spread mixture onto one teflex sheet and dehydrate at 120 for 3 hours.

Flip onto mesh, turn the dial down to 110 and continue dehydrating until completely dry.

Surprise Meeting
I knew that our dear friend Livina - the caretaker of the retreat center in the Kootenays where we spent several years - was about to cross into the States just as we would be leaving for BC. Dang, it was strange to be so close yet not quite be able to connect. What I didn't expect however was that The Mystery would indeed present us with an opportunity to meet after all! As I mentioned earlier, we decided to stay longer in Anacortes in order to spend Kiki's day off with her. As it turned out she had to run a quick errand in Bellingham that afternoon which was exactly where Livina was staying! I mean, what are the odds of that? Excited by the synchronicity I gave Livina a call and we agreed to meet at a cafe.

It was so lovely to hook up with her! We hadn't seen each other in months and had lots to talk about. She was also thrilled to finally get to hold a copy of my Delightfully Raw book as she helped to test many of the recipes while I was working on it.

Sailing Home
Well rested from our time in the woods, we finally headed back to BC. We hadn't been on Vancouver Island since 2002 and hadn't seen Don's daughter, Amber, for years so we figured that the time had come for a visit. We woke up bright and early in order to get the ferry across. It was nice, for a change, to just lay back and enjoy the beautiful scenery rather than to be driving. The sky was clouded over and the view wasn't as clear as it could be but it was still lovely regardless. We slowly made our way among the via the San Juan Islands before crossing into Canadian waters.

Getting mighty close to Vancouver Island now!

Sidney, BC lying straight ahead of us.

And that concludes this chapter of our US travels. No doubt that we have lots more adventures awaiting us in beautiful British Columbia. As always, I'll be telling you all about it so stay tuned!


  1. That sounds like wonderful adventures you're having. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring stories and pictures.
    You two have a great trip back. Don't forget to pass by the market say hi if you come to Kelowna.

  2. Fabulous post, Carmella. I especially enjoyed your description of meeting Frank. Glad to hear he is still out there sharing. Thank you yet again for sharing your travels with us.

  3. Looks like the end (beginning?) of your journey was wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with the world Carmella.

  4. Wow, what a journey! Great post and pictures, Carmella.

    Are you still camping in BC now?