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!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Delightfully Raw on Vancouver Island: Part II

A few days ago I began to tell you about our time on Vancouver Island. Here are some more tidbits of our adventures there... 

Raw Potluck
Pat and other raw enthusiasts meet every single Wednesday night at Zen Zero in downtown Courtenay for a raw potluck. Now, that is no small feat! We, of course, joined them while we were there. The food was absolutely delicious and a good crowd turned up.

Pat had made a whole bunch of stuff! She brought her Banana Pudding, a great big bowl of Salsa, and delicious Banana Crackers with a simple Tahini Date Spread.

Pat's Banana Crackers
Start the crackers the day before. Prepare to soak seeds for 4 hours or perhaps overnight.

1/3 Cup each of Flax, Sunflower & Sesame seeds in 3 Cups of Water

Soak a minimum of 4 hours, perhaps overnight.

4-5 Ripe Bananas, broken into pieces
1/4 Cup Agave Syrup (optional)
Vanilla - if using a VitaMix, put in one whole bean, cut into pieces - or use 2 Tbsp vanilla flavouring or 1 Tbsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp full spectrum Salt (optional)
1 Tbsp Lemon juice

Add to soaked seed mix, stir.

1/8-1/4 Cup Flax seeds
1/8-1/4 Cup Sesame seeds

Process well & add to seed mix, stir.

1/4 Cup Sunflower seeds (optional)

Process only until fairly chunky.

Add to mix, stir. Your mix should be not too runny, not too thick.

If too runny, add a bit more ground flax &/or sesame seeds. If too thick, add enough water to make spreadable batter.

Spread onto Teflex dehydrator sheets (do not score into crackers yet). Dehydrate at 125 degrees F. for approximately 4 hours, then reduce to 105 degrees & dehydrate for approximately 8 more hours (or overnight).

Turn each cracker mix onto a cutting board & cut - pizza cutter works well - into cracker shapes. Put each cracker back onto mesh dehydrator trays & dehydrate for a further 4 hours, depending on whether you want chewy or crispy. To test, remove a cracker & let sit in open air for a few minutes - decide if that is the hardness or chewiness you desire.

Store crackers in a tightly sealed container. Will keep well for about 2-3 weeks. If kept too long, they will lose flavour.

Tahini Date Spread
Begin preparations the day before you want the jam.

Simply soaked dates - agh, about 1 cup, processed with tahini, approximately 1/3 of a cup.

Pat told me they're also very delicious served with:

Cranberry Orange Jam
2 Cups dates, soaked (see below)
1 Cup cranberries (fresh or frozen; dried cranberries are boiled in sugar)
1 Whole orange, organic, with skin, cut into pieces

Soak dates in enough water to cover for several hours to overnight (if I am making ʻjamʼ for banana crackers, I put the dates to soak at the same time I put the flax, sesame & sunflower seeds to soak; at the same time I will put the frozen cranberries in container in fridge to thaw).

Drain the dates (I save the sweet date water in fridge & use to sweeten other things or save to soak dates in next time I make ʻjamʼ).

Add dates, cranberries & orange to a food processor & process until very smooth. Done! Yum!

Lastly, like us Pat loves durian and had also brought Durian Pudding.

My Blueberry Pie was such a success at the dinner some nights before that I decided to make it again for the potluck.

Marussia, one of the owners of Zen Zero, had brought kelp noodles in a peanut style sauce. It turns out that she has been following my blog for years so it was nice to finally meet.

Zucchini noodles in a balsamic marinade topped with black olives.

During our travels I've come upon a recipe book published by another woman from BC called Rose. She actually lives in the area and was able to make it to the potluck. Yay! She is such a kind and gentle lady! It was also neat to meet another raw author; as you can imagine we had lots to talk about!

Showing each other's culinary babies. ;-)

Rose contributed a really yummy Egg Salad from her book, Uncooking With RawRose – Your Guide to Raw Foods, which she graciously accepted to share with you, my readers. Enjoy!

Not Egg Salad
From “Uncooking With RawRose – Your Guide to Raw Foods” by Rose Vasile

Quantity:  3 1/2 cups + 4 cups greens or sprouts to serve it on

- 1 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- dash of cayenne
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 date
- 1 medium zucchini (grated, then chopped a bit = 2 cups)
- 2 cups green cabbage (finely grated)
- 1 stalk celery (finely diced = 1/2 cup)
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley (to mince)
- 1 green onion (finely chopped)
- 4 cups leafy greens and/or sprouts (optional)

⇒    Put cashews, water, oregano, salt, turmeric, mustard, cayenne, vinegar and date in a blender, but don’t blend yet (so cashews can soften slightly while preparing the other ingredients).

⇒    Put zucchini, cabbage, celery, parsley and green onion in a bowl. 

⇒    Blend ingredients that have been soaking in blender, until smooth, then pour over the zucchini, etc.  Combine well.  

⇒    Nice served on leafy greens and/or sprouts because the greens/sprouts get coated with excess sauce (besides tasting good and adding nutrients).

After the meal I gave a talk highlighting our approach to successfully transitioning to and maintaining the raw diet, which I outline in detail in my Delightfully Raw book. One of our messages is to look at it from the perspective of adding more raw foods into your diet rather that trying to stop eating cooked. As you include some raw recipes on your menu then there naturally will be less and less room for the cooked stuff.

Spreading The Raw Buzz
We'd planned to give a food prep workshop a couple of days later and debated whether we should cancel it as there were so few participants. In the end we decided to go ahead anyways and I'm so glad we did; it turned out to be a fun and informal affair.

On the menu was Green Cucumber Soup, Spinach & Cream Pasta Casserole, Tuna Salad, Blueberry variation of my Strawberry Shortcake and my Fruit & Nut Chocolate Candy.

  Spinach & Cream Pasta Casserole before the Pine Nut Parmesan and going in the D.

And after about 1 hour at 110 degrees.

 Ready to munch!

At Stephen's Gardens
The day before we left Comox Pat took us to see her friend Stephen Cochrane's gardens. Stephen is the director of Raw BC Society - an organization whose mission is to promote the health benefits of an unprocessed raw food diet and to connect the resources of existing raw food advocating communities around British Columbia. Stephen has been eating raw for the last 20 years and dedicates a great deal of his energy to gardening and self-sustainability. He is also very involved with the Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers. Stephen took some time from his busy schedule in order to give us a little tour of his family's property, share some gardening tips and exchange ideas. To my delight, he gave us several types of seeds for our own future gardening ventures. Yay!

A hothouse ingeniously rigged with a wood stove with an extra long pipe to prevent plants from freezing during the winter months.

Glorious pink rhododendrons


After spending a little over a week in the Comox Valley it was time to get back on the road. Pat came over to see us off and took this photo as we were getting ready to roll.

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
Before leaving the island we decided to spend a couple of days at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, just south of Parksville and about half an hour north of Nanaimo. After being in a town environment for a while we figured we could use some time in Nature, plus it would lighten up our journey back to the mainland.

The park is huge, covering some 347 hectares and the campground has over 175 sites. While it doesn't have hook ups there's access to water and several outhouses around the facility. There's also a couple of shower buildings which felt like such a luxury after all the rough camping we've been doing of late. Being on a weekday and out of season the place was virtually empty and we found a great quiet spot.


The park offers 5.5 km of trails through forests and along the ocean so we got to walk to our feet's content.

Back to the Mainland
The next morning we woke up early and got on the 10:40 ferry from Nanaimo to northwest Vancouver. In spite of the predicted rain the weather held off throughout the ride, offering a beautiful view of the gulf islands.

Once on the mainland we were soon met with intermittent showers. The drive was uneventful and since with the rain and all there wasn't much to see, it gave me a chance to catch up on my blogging.

We had planned to stop for the night a few miles passed Princeton but we were getting concerned that we might have to keep going as the rain was falling pretty fiercely; definitely not good camping weather. Thankfully by the time we made it to Stemwinder Provincial Park the sky had cleared up. Phfew!

 The campground is right by highway 3 but we found a site along the Similkameen River which was running so strongly that we could barely hear the nearby traffic.

There she is in the last rays of sunshine.

The boys chilling out after the long day's drive. Notice Puss next to the coolers?


She was just then getting ready to explore our surroundings in earnest.

The Last Leg of Our Journey
We repacked the van the following morning and continued our travels towards the interior. To my great delight the further we went the more the sky cleared up, offering a stunning spectacle of the most amazing cloud formations. The province is referred to as 'Beautiful British Columbia' and that it truly is. It had been a while since we'd traveled this road and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We drove through the Okanagan, the area that supplies the bulk of the fruit that is grown in Canada. We encountered many fields, orchards and vineyards, testifying to the abundance of the region.

Shortly before we reached Osoyoos we passed by Spotted Lake. I learned some fascinating stuff about this unique phenomenon on Wikipedia. The "lake is very highly concentrated with numerous different minerals. It contains some of the highest quantities (in the world) of magnesium sulfate, calcium and sodium sulphates. It also contains extremely high concentrations of 8 other minerals as well as some small doses of four others such as silver and titanium."

"Most of the water in the lake evaporates over the summer, leaving behind all the minerals. Large “spots” on the lake appear and depending on the mineral composition at the time, the spots will be different colors. The spots are made mainly of magnesium sulfate, which crystallizes in the summer. In the summer only the minerals in the lake remain, and they harden to form natural “walkways” around and between the spots."

A view of Osoyoos Lake which is located in the heart of town.

As highway 3 leaves Osoyoos towards the east it quickly climbs steeply up with a number of hairpin turns, offering a stunning overview of the town and its surroundings.

More beautiful cloud formations as we continued eastward.

The Poo Saga
When doing research about border crossing I learned that while Miss daPuss (aka Puss, Miss daPu or just Pu for short) didn't need papers to cross into the US, Canada does require her to have a rabbies shot. As a general rule we like to stay way clear of hospitals and conventional medicine, but it seemed like we didn't have much choice. We found an animal hospital in Anacortes that had raving reviews online and the fee was ridiculously cheap so we took her in one afternoon. The lady vet was super friendly and even looked her over without any additional charge. Yay! She confirmed that our furry friend was in perfect health and was surprised to learn that Puss had been on the road for several months and showed no sign of stress or anxiety. (I mean, beside not being too happy to be at the doctor's! lol Who wouldn't, eh?)

So far so good, right? It wasn't long before it became clear, however, that we had unwittingly initiated a veritable poo/Pu drama...

The next evening Don pointed out that she had pooped three times during the day - an unusual occurrence for sure - but neither of us thought anything of it at first. I also noticed that she was drinking a lot more water than usual. But what really set off the alarm was when I heard Pu cry in pain and later discovered that her stools were unformed and contained mucus and blood. Eeek! She was otherwise looking fine so I only really delved into the matter once back in Canada.

While researching online I discovered that others had noticed similar side effects in their cats after vaccination. In fact in a few cases it had turned into an horror story; their beloved furries becoming unexplainably sick and even some dying within a short time! One woman took her dead kitten to the vet to be autopsied and the cause was determined to be panleukopenia; a feline type of leukemia. Somehow the rabbies vaccine had infected the cat with this extremely rare but very serious condition that attacks the pet's white blood cells. I read that with a deficiency of those defensive blood cells and an ulcerated intestinal lining, diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, dehydration and susceptibility to bacterial infections are the end results. Puss seemed to be suffering from some of these symptoms so I became increasingly concerned and braced myself for the worst.

While Kylo is very close to Don, Miss DaPu is my special companion. We are super bonded energetically and she usually ends up on my lap or curled up against me at night. She has been doing so marvelously well during this trip and has been getting sweeter and closer to me than ever. If it turned out that I had in effect unknowingly signed her death warrant! ;-(

I immediately contacted the vet in Anacortes to explain the situation and he said that he'd never seen such a reaction in his 40 some years of practice. He would have gladly had a look at her but that wasn't an option since we had already left the country. And so we booked an appointment at a local animal hospital for the following morning. According to my internet findings the prognosis wasn't encouraging as very little could be done to neutralize the panleukopenia virus other than to have the animal hospitalized in an attempt to fight off the dehydration stage of the sickness. In other words: mega bucks which we weren't sure we could afford.

The next morning, though, Puss had stopped drinking excessively and her condition didn't look like it had worsened, so we thought best to hold off on seeing the vet. Instead we decided to monitor her as closely as we could and take her in if other symptoms appeared. Over the following days she continued to have lots of energy and seemed otherwise back to normal. I was keeping my fingers crossed that she was on the other side of whatever it was that she had. Since we were camping and she spent a lot of time exploring our surroundings, it took a whole week before she finally pooped in her litter box again. Upon examination her stools didn't show any sign of her bowels being irritated so I thought we were out of the woods...  until I found more loose stools and a small amount of blood a few days later. ;-(

By that time it had been 3 weeks since the infamous shot, and I thought that panleukopenia could be safely ruled out as it usually manifests very quickly. Yet more research revealed that she might be suffering from irritated bowels as an allergic reaction to the nasty chemicals her body had been invaded with. That sounded right to me. At best it was just a minor condition that can be easily treated by giving the digestive tract a little rest. At worst it could have been that she had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which would mean changing and closely monitoring her diet for the rest of her life. In any case from what I read I felt that a short 24 hour fast followed by a few days of a bland diet was a good place to start.

Feasting on durian
Being the food lover that she is, Puss of course loudly protested during the fast, pestering us through the night, but we firmly held our ground. While she is normally quite fussy about what she eats she adjusted surprisingly well to her new fare consisting of white rice, boiled chicken and pureed butternut squash (to help absorb extra moisture in her gut and solidify her stools). I also blended in a slippery elm mixture (1 tbs slippery elm powder whisked with 12 oz hot water) - an old herbal remedy for digestive issues that coats and soothes the intestines.

On the fourth day I began to introduce 'regular' food again (more about that later). I was anxiously awaiting her bowel movements to see how her body was responding to the fast and change of diet. Every time I checked her litter box, however, I saw that she hadn't pooped yet. As the days went by I became more and more concerned. Ironically she had gone from having diarrhea to constipation! Don's approach was to wait it off and let her body heal itself. I thought I'd do what I could to assist the process and tried a number of holistic remedies: adding more fiber (chia seeds and squash), olive oil and yet more slippery elm. But after 5 days of that and without result I called a vet.

He assured me that there was no cause for alarm just yet as she was still eating and keeping the food in. Things would take a different turn once she would start vomiting it back, an indicator that her colons were completely full. As a last resort I had thought of giving her feline laxative and he confirmed that it was a good idea. Thankfully, Pu actually really loved the stuff which made matters a great deal simpler than having to sneak it in her food or force her to lick it off herself.

In the meantime it also occurred to me that Pu had been cooped up in the van for over a week, as Arabella's house is located on a busy road which made it a little tricky to let her out. I felt that some exercise would no doubt do her a world of good and perhaps help to get her intestines going. On the down side it meant that I wouldn't be able to monitor her bowel movements. Still, I thought it was worth the chance so I took her in my arms and relocated her in the back yard, which she happily explored for a few hours. When we left Comox the following afternoon we also let her wander around our site for the two days that we spent at Rathtrevor Beach.

I stopped giving Puss the laxative after 3 days; if she wasn't pooping within the next 24 to 48 hours we'd have to go to the vet in order for her to get enemas; a procedure she would hardly enjoy. We were leaving the island and started the trip towards the interior. As usually happens when we're on the move, Puss spent several hours in her pet taxi - she feels safer that way than if we'd let her roam around freely. Once we reached our destination I suggested to Don that we keep her inside the van until the next morning to assess the situation. To my HUGE relief, a half hour or so after our arrival the deed had finally been done! Woo hoo! Her stool was also back to normal which was more fantastic news. It's not uncommon that bowel movements are associated with relief, but man, I can assure you that this one sure brought joy; I was literally jumping up and down and dancing around our site! ;-) "Pu finally lived up to her name," Don remarked. hehe

Puss Goes Raw
Over the past several years Puss' diet has consisted mainly of dry kibbles. The only bit of raw that she's been getting is an egg yolk when she's in the mood - like I said she tends to be a fussy eater. Don and I decided to take this opportunity to switch her to a mostly raw meat diet which is what cats are really designed to eat anyways.

Not up to handling raw flesh (ewww!) we went instead with Prowl, a dehydrated human-grade whole foods preparation that we found at a specialty pet store. I started off by mixing it with a high quality grain-free canned food, crossing my fingers that she would like it. She was a little hesitant at first but remarkably soon chowed the whole thing down. Yay! A few days ago I've switched her to fully raw, giving her Prowl along with a mixture made by Pets Go Raw (comes frozen).

Pu also took to our new routine of my feeding her every 5 or 6 hours instead of her having access to food whenever she wants. The only downside is that she's been waking me up in the wee hours of the morning demanding her breakfast. lol  This new approach should take care of the emotional eating that we'd notice her doing from time to time. And who knows, perhaps she'll even shed a few pounds which she could definitely afford!

While the whole vaccine incident was a good reminder that Puss isn't immortal and that one day she will leave us, I am grateful that that time hasn't come just yet. On the positive side it has turned out to be an indirect trigger to improving the quality of the food that we feed her, which she is bound to reap health benefits from.

That's it, folks! This post concludes this latest phase of our adventures on the road. We don't have any major projects lying ahead of us, so we're hoping to be able to take it easy for the coming summer months. I yearn to languorously relax in the sun, play in the garden and being creative in the kitchen again! Yippee! Naturally, I'll be keeping you posted on my latest culinary experiments. ;-)


  1. hi carmi! i'm so glad the poo story had a happy ending. biggles also got very sick after a rabies vaccine, which pushed us to find a homeopathic vet for her. i'll have to look into that raw cat food. thanks for sharing!


  2. Oh, my goodness, Carmella. You had me holding my breath through the whole saga of Puss and her poo. I was exhausted by the end of the post. I should have jumped to the end to find she was okay, and then read backwards. Whew, so glad she is okay. I lost 3 cats in about 8 years time (one was only 6 years old) all from cancers in the digestive tract. Heartbroken. I thought I was a responsible pet person. :( I kept up with their vaccines and gave them "quality" and somewhat expensive food from the vets. Now I know that food is full of grains and animal byproducts just like the cheap grocery store brands. So sad how we can think we are doing good, and so not be. I have one remaining cat, Bonnie, an 11-year-old grey tabby. She eats food similar to the dehydrated brand you found. I've used some of the frozen as well. We are so fortunate that there is such an abundant choice today of healthy options for our fur babies. Plus, ways to feed our cats raw that are helpful to those of us who are squeamish. I wish continued health to you, Don and both your precious furries.

  3. Oh, how I will miss your posts! And so happy you have had two such blessed trips!
    Thank God for DaPuss recovery, of course. A pet store owner (who looked like a biker) once told me that a 1/2 te of yogurt would cure constipation and it seems so. The probiotics do their thing at the same time. My cat had the sme type of reaction to emtotional stress once. And now he is just so cool.
    Enjoy the Quebec summer,

  4. Hi Kelli! *waving*

    I love your new google user pic!

    Yah, I know eh? I sure will do everything I can to stay away from vaccines from now on. Thankfully this one is good for 3 years, which I think explains why it was so potent in the first place.

    Hi Mindy!

    Sorry that I kept you on the edge of your seat like that! I didn't mean to turn the incident into a suspense! ;-)

    I'm sorry to hear that you lost so many beloved furries! ;-( It must have been very challenging. I'm still flabbergasted at how mainstream medicine can be so misinforming and at times cause more harm than good. Whatever happened to Hippocrates' oath, eh? Glad that you, too, have a feline friend to pamper with your new knowledge.

    Hi Sue!

    I will be keeping in touch even though I'm stationary, no worries!

    Oh thanks for bringing up the probiotics/acidophilus point! I forgot to mention that I've also been giving Puss a supplement called Holistic Transition made by Eagle Pack. I sprinkle it on her food and it's meant to help her digestive system adjust to the change of diet. The company also makes another product called Holistic Solution for diarrhea, loose stool, and upset stomach.

    We'll be spending the summer on the other side of the country, in BC, but will enjoy it just the same! ;-) I wish you the most sunblessed summer ever too!

  5. Enjoy your summer and your garden, when you get it planted. Glad everything worked itself out (pun intended) and Puss is back in the pink. Our pets are very vital to our lives and they add a lovely dimension to your blog. Thanks for your efforts. Your blog is very helpful.

  6. Our two cats have been on a frozen raw diet (I think we use Primal brand) since we brought them home from the shelter two and a half years ago, and it's doing amazingly well by them. They're energetic, their fur is shiny and silky, their eyes are clear and alert, they don't have "cat breath" the way kibble-fed cats often do... We figure that the extra cost of the more expensive food is balanced by the decreased need for vet visits.

    Hope Miss Pu continues to feel better!