real raw kitchen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

RECIPE: sweet and spicy pumpkin chili, cooked

So I never really understood the whole pumpkin phenomenon but last year I decided to hop on the bandwagon for the sake of exploration (I'm all about exploration!) and I have to admit I still didn't get it all that much. This year, however, it finally clicked because I made Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Chili.

I have always made a pretty spectacular chili that I developed quite a reputation for (even meat eaters requested it!) so when I decided to add some pumpkin to this thang I thought it would naturally be a hit.

It was indeed a hit.

I won't bore you with any sort of story about this recipe because this was it: 
I woke up. 
I put the ingredients in the crock pot. 
I went for a run. 
I went to the beach. 
I went to an Afro Brazilian dance class with my girlfriend. 
I came home and showered. 
I photographed the chili and then I served it to my girlfriends at our Saturday book club.

At the book club--after we chatted about the book for a deep and magical hour--we cleared the table and loaded up our goods. We had pumpkin chili, my basic raw sour cream, some Brazilian collards, and homemade tea. A beautiful afternoon with some beautiful women. And a beautiful Miami canal view.

And I can't tell if this recipe is spectacular because it was so effing delicious or if it's because it allows you to have a spectacular day while all the flavors just get cozy with each other.
It's perfect for those of us with busy lives AND for those of us with limited kitchen skills. Enjoy your pumpkin, people. 

Enjoy. Your. Pumpkin.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Chili, cooked

for the chili:
  • 1 can, each, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans (drained)
  • 2-3 cups chopped squash/sweet/potato or pumpkin (I used butternut squash)
  • 4-5 tomatos, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock, as needed (water works as well)
  • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 T cinnamon
  • 2 t  cumin
  • 1/2 t allspice and ground cloves
  • 1/2 - 1 t chili flakes or cayenne, depending on your love of spicy-ness (I LOVE it)
  • sea salt and pepper as desired

for the raw sour cream:
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 t sea salt

for the chili:

  • Soak your cashews while the chili cooks.
  • In the bottom of the crock pot add the oil, chopped garlic, chopped onion, chopped celery and allow it to sauté in your crock pot* on the low setting.
  • Once the vegetables have softened, add all the seasonings and mix well. Allow it to continue to cook this way for about 10 minutes.
  • Bring a pot of water to boil and then add the chopped squash/potato/pumpkin. Boil for 5-10 minutes until the color pops but it is not too soft (I did it about 7 minutes). Drain and then toss the cubes into the crock pot. 
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the crock pot and stir. Cover and allow it to cook for 4-6 hours on low.
for the sour cream:
  • Drain the soaked cashews and add all of the listed ingredients to a high speed blender.
  • Blend until completely smooth and creamy.
  • Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate (it will thicken just a bit). 
  • Add a spoonful to your chili :)
Optional garnish: 
  • Chopped green onion
  • Avocado slices
  • Cinnamon
*Note: If you do not have a crock pot that has been handed down from the women in your family like me, you can do this same exact process in a very large pot on the stove. Add a little bit more vegetable broth, as needed, and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to cook, covered, for about 45 minutes to an hour.

At least three satisfied bellies ...

No crock pot? No problem :) See the note above or invest in one like this one:

And in the spirit of full disclosure, if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

REVIEW: Happy Hormones by Kristy Vermeulen ND

A long, long time ago--before my little hiatus--I received a book in the mail that, at the time, I couldn't wait to dive into: Happy Hormones, by Kristy Vermeulen ND. This is the same woman behind the seed cycling post that I did and I'm SO happy to piece through her work again! You can check out Dr. Kristy's full website here.

If you've been following this blog for quite some time then you may remember that I've tried several things before to manage my hormones, one of my favorite methods (and most popular posts!) was seed cycling. At the time my cycle was so out of whack that I would have one cycle that lasted 35 days followed by another cycle of 20 days. My cramps were out of this world and my acne was just kicking into full force. Seed cycling really helped me reign in my hormones to the point of a predictable cycle and less inflamed acne (though still very much present, persistent, and frustrating as before that point I had spotless, smooth skin).

Once things in my life started to get rocky, and then downright dreadful, my cycle went haywire all over again and my acne turned into something to marvel at with how much it had transformed and consumed my skin. I'm embarrassed and ashamed but this is the first time that I don't hate my body for "acting out", in a way, because I know that it is reflecting, perfectly, the absolute turmoil that I have going on in the inside right now.

So when I received this book in the mail I felt like it had come at perfect timing. 

What Is Happy Hormones?

This book is broken down into six parts:

  1. Happy Hormones Explained
  2. Hormone Diagnosis: Questionnaire, symptoms and lab testing
  3. Happy Hormones Treatment Program
  4. Putting It All Together
  5. Appendix
  6. Happy Hormones Recipe Collection
The book first touches on the importance of hormone balance and explains how almost every single aspect of our lives can impact our hormones ... which, in turn, impact our health and overall functioning.

Then a quick questionnaire with symptoms and indicators is provided to help you focus in on your particular imbalance. It's easy, quick, and uses easily identifiable terms and symptoms that make the entire process approachable (i.e. irritability before menstrual cycle, heavy vs light flow, etc.) Once you are able to identify where your potential imbalance is you can then flip to the particular treatment program designed for you.

The treatment programs are broken down into different steps:

  1. Diet Suport
  2. Lifestyle Support
  3. Nutritional Support
  4. Herbal Support
  5. Homeopathic remedies
This section I found to be exceptionally helpful as it provides easy, measurable solutions for the reader. Meaning, I could easily cut back my caffeine, increase my hours of sleep, take the supplements (or even food listed) and know why I've selected these methods and what I can expect to see from each of these methods. In a culture of fix-me-now this section allows us the opportunity to get to work almost immediately. 

What Are My Thoughts?

My very first impression is this: I like it. 

I think the entire topic of hormones is incredibly intimidating and often times can seem like such a daunting task that most women shrug it off. I loved the quiz and the accompanying treatment programs. I, for instance, found that my main trouble hormone is Cortisol and that this really is impacting my overall health. My stress has been through the roof for the past few years and so my body is screaming at me to get myself in check. (Yes, years. ) This book and quiz allowed me to shift my perspective and get me to stop focusing in on estrogen and progesterone only. 

I moved away from home, across the country, to such a foreign and tough city like Miami. I quit my career and tried to start over from scratch. I entered a hostile romantic relationship (that I wouldn't realize was hostile and abusive until after exiting it). I tried to immerse myself in a different culture, one in which I felt extremely out of place. Every single thing about my life had changed--everything--and just when I was getting used to it, everything got uprooted and flipped on its head all over again! 

This kind of stress can really mess with a person, particularly in a Psychological sense (think: fight-or-flight response), which directly affects hormones. You see how everything is connected??

So my cortisol levels first spiked to compensate for all the changes and when I didn't straighten out my lifestyle to reduce the stress my body, in a way, stopped producing Cortisol to help push me. In a sense, it said "fuck it." The whole purpose of Cortisol is to get me through the struggle out to the other side and when I failed to get to the other side my body withdrew its help! Pobrecita! 

And that is an entirely new post for another time ...

All this to say that I NEVER would have thought I had a Cortisol deficiency had I not used this book, nor would I have known how to properly address this deficiency!

My Recommendations

I really enjoyed this read, truly. It was easy to go through, it made solid recommendations that I agree with and it made identifying your own particular set of imbalances very easy.

However, I felt it was a little too easy. That's not to say that it's bad information or that it's too simple for the common reader, not at all. In fact, I think this makes it perfect for mass consumption! The thing for me, though, is that I often ask "Why?" .. with everything. Everything I hear, see, feel .. I always ask "Why?" (In fact, my friends have begun to roll their eyes at me as I'm notorious for asking "but why?" every single time someone makes any kind of statement!)

As the curious type I really appreciate knowing the science behind these things. I want to understand the Endocrine System and I want to understand my neurotransmitters. I need to know about my particular cycle and I need to know about the Psychological diagnoses and connections. 

I'm weird like that.

So what I recommend is that you pair this book with (one of my favorite books of all time) Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I've raved about it before, here, and I'm happy to mention it again because it really is an all-encompassing book. It would really help facilitate your treatment program with this particular book.

Another addition I'd recommend is pairing these books with Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss. Her book helps look at the greater spiritual and emotional connection with our bodily ailments. The reason it comes to mind for me, here, is because fertility and hormonal imbalances are directly tied with our power as women, our role, our intimate relationships, our presence, and our confidence with our place in this world.

You may think I'm insane to recommend reading three books simultaneously but I'm NOT exaggerating when I say that I do this with almost every book I read, in general. Even the fiction books; I read fiction with a dictionary on my lap! (You should see my bookshelves ...)

Bottom Line

I dig it. I recommend it. And I'm a bit information-obsessed. If you get a chance then grab a copy for yourself! (Along with my other two recommendations, really, they will change your life and I don't take that phrase lightly ...)

And in the spirit of full disclosure, if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Check them out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

RECIPE: spicy tomato and herb sauce, cooked

This post is about spicy tomato and herb sauce and self-love. It's related, I swear.

My soul sister and I were talking today about what it means to love yourself. She asked me how the hell we are supposed to "love" ourselves, as if there is a switch hidden somewhere deep within that we are supposed to flick on. I made a "pfff" sound with my lips and said, "girl, I don't even know but apparently that's my number one priority these days."

You see, when someone important in your life completely peaces out on your commitment, your hopes, your dreams, your love it makes you begin to wonder if maybe you're worth all the fuss in the first place. I've never been one to have a sturdy self esteem but I've never questioned my lovability quite like when I was faced with that very accusation earlier this year. So self-love has been an enormous task for me over the past few months as I've been learning to love myself even when others won't.

So we sat in her spacious office and looked at each, almost on the verge of tears, as we realized we didn't know where the fuck to begin. (You see, this is why I called her my "soul sister" in the beginning of the post; we go from zero-to-soul in a matter of seconds).

Then, as if a little buoy deep in my brain were spotted, bobbing up and down in my more horrific memories from this year, I remembered an article I read talking about this very task. So many of us get caught up on "loving ourselves" as if we could feel the emotion in every moment when in fact, we must first love ourselves in every action, as in a verb form.

Be loving toward ourselves. Show ourselves love. Treat ourselves with love.

I remember liking the article because it felt like something I could actually do. I cannot promise to like who I am (even though I do recognize I have some pretty spectacular qualities) but I CAN promise to practice love toward myself.

As I took stock of my current situation I realized that I have already been practicing a lot of love towards myself--I've been keeping a safe, beautiful home, excelling at work, exercising regularly, laughing a lot, forgiving myself for crying, forgiving myself for gaining weight, and bonding with friends. I also realized very quickly that I was also harming myself in a lot of ways: drinking in excess (and maybe a lot of other questionable substances in excess), overeating under the guise of "taking care of my weight", sleeping very little, and jumping into a new love interest that wasn't anything about love or interest (you know the kind ... ).

Immediately after taking stock I stopped drinking, started making bedtime a ritual once again like I had always done in the past, and (reluctantly) cut ties with my "love interest".

Now, how am I practicing self-love? I'm making every moment of my day the most special moment I can. I don't just wake up in the morning; I spend time indulging in some stretches, sipping my coffee slowly at the kitchen table, wearing a face mask and carefully picking an outfit that makes me feel damn hot. I make every meal a special one; carefully planned based on what will feed my body, feed my creativity, and obviously taste good. I spend more time doing things that are just good for me, body, mind and soul.

This includes giving myself space to cry even when I feel like maybe I should have been done crying by now.

You know what else this includes? Amazing meals made from scratch, carefully, slowly, beautifully. This is one such meal. It wasn't meant to be a recipe here but as I was making it I was just so excited at how beautiful everything was. I ran to grab my camera and just began snapping pics out of sheer joy in the moment. And just like that, a beautiful, romantic meal was born.

Spicy Tomato and Herb Sauce, cooked

for the sauce:
  • 4-5 tomatos, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T dried basil, oregano and rosemary
  • 1/2 - 1 t chili flakes, depending on your love of spicy-ness (I LOVE it)
  • sea salt and pepper as desired
  • 1-2 T vegetable stock, as needed (water works as well)
for the pasta:
  • 1 cup of your favorite pasta

  • Drizzle the olive oil in your skillet. I love my cast iron skillet. Heat on medium heat.
  • Chop 3 cloves of garlic and add to skillet. Add the remaining whole garlic cloves. Sauté for a couple minutes.
  • Add the herbs, chili flakes, and salt and pepper and stir to incorporate.
  • Add the chopped tomatos and cook down until they are soft and the water has cooked off, about 10 minutes. It is important not to include the seeds; I remove the seeds by cutting the tomatos in half and using a spoon to scoop out the insides.
  • Begin boiling your water.
  • Next add the red bell pepper and stir. Cook for 5-10 minutes until they soften.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. You can add more depending on how saucey you want your sauce.
  • Let cook for 5-10 minutes like this. This is where I added the vegetable stock to prevent the sauce from drying out. I then let it cook for another 10 minutes while the pasta cooked.
  • Add your dry pasta to the boiled water and cook according to instructions (usually 5-7 minutes).
  • Add the spinach to the sauce and stir. It should wilt down in about 5 minutes.
  • Drain your pasta and immediately add to the sauce. Mix well and let everything cook together for a couple minutes.
  • Dump into your dish(es) and eat!
I ate all of this by myself. I know, I'm a beast. I'm not even sad about it.

As for self-love? I've been reading this and I really love it. It speaks on the same stuff as the Mind Body Green article but goes into greater detail examining your current way of living, your past traumas and how they impact your frame of thinking, and how to gently correct them. I don't think everyone has to go through a painful divorce to warrant reading this, truly. I think every single one of us could benefit from learning how to expand our abilities to love. Check it out!

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Friday, September 26, 2014

RECIPE: healing turmeric smoothie

Since I started eating raw foods, and particularly when I went all raw for awhile, I stopped getting sick. At first I thought nothing of it, assuming that I simply had a stellar immune system, but then as the years passed I realized that I had a spectacular record that coincidentally matched up with my raw food lifestyle. I used my diet and lifestyle as a sort of shield, holding complete faith in it whenever I encountered sick people. For the most part, it worked well.

Then as I adjusted my diet to include more cooked food (and admittedly, less healthy food altogether) I was able to watch my body transform into a different, slower, achier machine. And a sicker machine, as well. 

There are many reasons why I started incorporating cooked foods into my diet, some of which include animal products, but none of those reasons were to increase my physical health. It was moreso to gain weight against my low appetite (which worked a little too well, if you ask me) and now that my weight is back up and I'm feeling a little tingle in my throat I couldn't help but freak out a little bit and revert right back into my raw food lifestyle.

First things first: this healing turmeric smoothie. 

Why is it healing?

  • Turmeric is a potent (and natural) anti-inflammatory. Think: arthritis, skin inflammation, bowel issues, etc.
  • Turmeric is loaded with curcumin (which gives it that vibrant, beautiful color). Curcumin has noted benefits in fighting cancer and disease, which is essentially an inflammation problem in the body.
  • Turmeric also helps with blood sugar levels as it supports proper liver function and boosts the efficacy of insulin receptors.

So I put together something that would be filling and creamy and also packed with the good ole' benefits of turmeric. I tapped away on my keyboard, asking the Internet whether turmeric was best with orange juice or coconut milk (I've tried the oj-turmeric combo before and wanted something new).  I first found this recipe by Green Kitchen Stories and thought it sounded so delicious (subbing the yogurt with coconut milk).

After flipping through their recipes a bit more, however, I discovered their Ginger & Turmeric Honey Bomb and I have to tell you: I will be making this later this evening. 

Healing Turmeric Smoothie

for the smoothie:

for the soup:
  • Combine everything in a high speed blender and blender until smooth.
  • Dust with more turmeric.
How easy is that?! Yup. I like simple. 

For the more unique ingredients, here is what I used:

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

RECIPE: vegan enchiladas and Oh She Glows

There really is something to be said about food as a healing agent. Really. The entire process of finding a recipe that seems as if the very words on the page may comfort my inner being down to the chopping, stirring, sprinkling, waiting .. and then, then, the eating. Oh yeah. Food can be healing.

This recipe was one of those recipes. I was thumbing through the pages of the Oh She Glows Cookbook and this recipe just made me melt. I've made it before from the post on the Oh She Glows blog and when I saw it again in the cookbook I immediately felt this flood of nostalgia, like I had just seen a high school yearbook picture of a long lost friend.

Photo credit goes to Angela Liddon, the author of Oh She Glows

I had fully intended on snapping some beautiful pictures of the dish once I pulled it out of the oven but my enchiladas did NOT look like this. They were drenched in sauce and overflowing with the sweet potato and black bean mixture. As a budding food photographer my heart ached a little, but as an enormous foodie I was beyond excited at the burst of flavors awaiting me on my very messy plate.

And let me just take a moment to rave about this cookbook. I love it for so many reasons--homegirl developed it and shot her own pictures and then put out a stellar book--but my favorite reason is that it is packed full of comfort foods that are easy AND good for you. A lot of vegan cookbooks, especially of the raw vegan variety, offer delicious recipes but many of them are tricky and possibly unhealthy. 

This is one of my favorite blogger--turned-cookbook author stories and books. (And if you're wondering, I paid for the book myself so this is NOT advertisement .. I really just love it that much!)

I have a weird habit of sticking post its in books that I'm reading when I come across something interesting, a new word I want to look up in the dictionary, or a thought I want to share with a colleague or friend. The same goes for cookbooks. This cookbook has little tabs sticking out on almost every single page, to the point of absurdity, where the post its really don't even offer any help in recipe selection, anyway!

And you want the recipe, right?

Head on over here to get it from the goddess, herself. And wish her a happy motherhood as she's a new mommy :)

Or you can buy the entire book for yourself here.

Love you all, talk soon

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Monday, September 22, 2014

RECIPE: african peanut soup

A magnificent impromptu dish came out of this .. I was starving and randomly saw this recipe online while I was trying (once again) to understand Wordpress. I saw the image and immediately became distracted from whatever DIY tutorial I was trying to understand and began rummaging in my kitchen to create this dish. Needless to say, it was a success.

It was the perfect ending to a pretty perfect day. I just HAVE to share because the photos are spectacular ..

On this (almost) perfect day I woke up and lugged my paddleboard to the beach and spent a couple hours paddling up and down the beach line, watching the surfers catch the rare waves and staring at the jellyfish around me. I stuck my camera into the water and started taking random pictures hoping that at least one would turn out okay. And do you know what I got?

Isn't nature just magnificent??

Then, of course, I snapped a selfie (where I'm ironically wearing a hat for Frasher Farms Duck Club, the Duck Club that provides enviable hunting every duck season .. it's my dad's, what?):

I walked myself and my board back to my home and cleaned myself up, cleaned the house up and then made an enormous papaya smoothie (sorry no pic of THAT). I rode my skateboard to the grocery store, got groceries, rode home and got some work stuff done. 

Then I made this amazing soup, seeking some serious comfort after being exhausted from all the sun and heat today. I slurped it up and then my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to skate around at the beach with her. Of course, I said yes. Since I've been living on my own I've been trying to keep myself as busy as possible for fear that I might drink a bottle of wine and then laugh hysterically at what an unpredictable cluster fuck my experience in marriage has been. So instead, I ride skateboards with girls until 11 p.m.

Of course, I fell and got hurt.

So. Today was magnificent. Sun. Salt. Skate. Paddleboard. And a possibly broken arm (it's swollen and I can't move it and I kind of can't stop crying .. but I am also kind of a baby). 

And today also included this delicious dish that really was just supposed to be something quick I whipped up. Take a look and do yourself a favor and make it for yourself.

African Peanut Soup
adapted from Hurry The Food Up

for the soup:
  • 2 cups vegetable broth 
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • A small handful of peanuts
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 t powdered ginger
  • 3-4 T peanut butter
  • 1 T nama shoyu
  • A few dashes sriracha (optional)
for the rice/quinoa/grain:

for the soup:
  • Sautee the garlic, onion and carrots in a small pot with maybe a couple tablespoons of olive oil for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the zucchini and cook for a few more minutes.
  • Once they soften, add the tomato paste and ginger powder and mix well. Allow this to cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the broth and bring to a light boil. Let it all cook together for about 5 more minutes.
  • Add the peanuts and peanut butter. Stir continuously as it thickens. Cook like this for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the nama shoyu and sriracha and stir until incorporated
for the grains:
  • Follow the instructions for your chosen grain and then place the cooked product in a bowl.
  • Pour the soup over and enjoy!

For the more unique ingredients, here is what I used:

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

RECIPE: banana ice cream with rawnola

The past few months have been big for me. Big. Huge. (channeling my inner Pretty Woman moment ..). In my truest Scorpio fashion I took exactly two months to mourn and then I went out and created the life I wanted, dripping with passion and utterly perfect. Isn't it funny how life works?

It's all always utterly perfect.

When I think about how much my life has changed in the past year, and in the past few months in particular, I can't help but think about how happy I am, even against all odds. During my darkest moments I kept repeating this absurd mantra to myself, "Trust the process." I clung onto the mantra as if it was the very thing that would pull me out of the pain. All I could do was trust that in the end I would step out of everything stronger, more beautiful, more empowered, and even happier than ever before. I didn't know when or how it would happen, but I just put 100% of my faith in it, trusting the process. 

And you know what? It happened. A lot faster than I had expected but oh boy did it happen. 

Now, I live on the beach and I spend my time playing in the sand with new friends, new lovers, and myself. Which is why this is actually a recipe post, because another perfect part of my day is this recipe. I'd like to think that when I look back one day on the summer that I found happiness--true, authentic, deep happiness--that this dish will come to mind. Because every time I make it I feel like I could float away (except that one time my Vitamix died while making the ice cream.. that was the opposite of happiness). 

My main goal with this post is to bring YOU this same bliss. The problem is that many of you may not have a Vitamix. Fear not! There is a neat little gadget that I've seen and I think it's the perfect solution for many of you! If my Vitamix keeps acting funky I may invest in one of these guys. It's a Yonanas machine and you can take any frozen fruit and turn it into ice cream. How cool is that?? Yes, I realize that I become absurdly excited over kitchen gadgets ..

As for this recipe, I think you will love it. I make a large batch of rawnola and store it in the fridge so I can munch on it throughout the week. I'm not particularly creative with this recipe, actually, as I got it from Loni Jane (my idol). It's simple, it's delicious, it's filling, it's low in fat, it's perfect after a beach day .. it's really just everything in one bowl. I like to add fresh fruit to my ice cream, as well, and take my time eating it.

Banana Ice Cream with Rawnola

for the ice cream:
  • 3-4 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (optional)
for the rawnola:
for the ice cream:
  • If using a blender (such as a Vitamix) then add the coconut milk and the frozen bananas and blend on low until a creamy texture forms. Use the tamper to facilitate blending.
  • If using a Yonanas machine then follow the instructions (coconut milk not needed)
for the rawnola:
  • Drain the dates. Peel the skin off (optional) and remove the pits.
  • Combine everything in a food processor and process until chunky.

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My story for 2014

Back when I told you that I was taking a little break from blogging and promised that I'd be back soon I never imagined that it would be quite the struggle to get back to you. I've been popping in here and there to check in on the blog and to respond to your comments and messages because even through everything this simple fact remains: I love you!

But seeing as my steam and passions have shifted a bit I think I find myself more and more uncomfortable coming back to this blog. Why? Because I'm not being honest with you. I love this blog and I would love to rev it back up--totally, food is my passion, always--but I can't rev it back up under false pretenses. I'm as real and straight-to-the-point as they come and to return to you under the guise of a raw food blogger would be, well, not to-the-point at all.

So what is my point?

Well, how much do you want to read? I've got lots of stories and anecdotes--many of which might make you crumble into a heap of tears but I don't really know if I want to do that to you--but I'm not sure what exactly to share or where exactly I should start. The neatest thing about it, though, is that I think I can safely say that having my fourth existential crisis in the span of one year is probably a totally normal thing for a mid 20-something young woman and so at the very least you might find this encouraging/entertaining/reassuring.

For starters, as you may know, I got married last year to a man that I loved very much. Very much. God, it hurts to admit how much you love someone, sometimes. We did the fairy tale wedding with the fairy tale honeymoon and the fairy tale life. Usually it's safe to assume that when you do those things it's because you have BIG plans with the other person and usually it's safe to assume that's both a scary and exhilarating time. For me, at least, it was all of those things. Every last dream I had for myself was coming to fruition and I couldn't have asked for a greater fairy tale.

Somehow, some way, things just happened. Through the thick of it all I felt like I was maybe the unluckiest bride in the world (I know, it's dramatic, but it's a pretty damn unlucky situation). It turns out that my fairy tale husband had a nightmarish mental breakdown and decided that marriage was too great a task for his mental and emotional capacity. Bad things happen to good people, I tell ya. Marriage and breakdowns included. 

There are a lot of choice words that have played on repeat in my head over the past year, a LOT, but I don't really feel like I need to express them here, or anywhere, anymore. Because it's really as simple as that: bad things happen to good people. We thought we were doing good things but somehow, some way it just was not meant to be. The amount of pain that I endured (and I'm sure him as well, though I guess I will never know) was so incredible, so intense and insurmountable that at times I thought I quite literally might have died instead of lived through another moment of it. There were nights that I thought I might never stop crying, permanently fixed in a tight ball on the floor, begging someone, anyone, to come hold me. My six foot frame went from a healthy 145 pounds to a thin 125 pounds within months and I couldn't bring myself to do anything except for survive to the next hour each day.

Why am I telling you this? Because it's real. It happened. It was dark and scary and hurt like fucking hell. But you know what happened? I survived.

I survived!

Against all of my expectations, I survived. Not only that but it was as if one day I was suddenly free. One day I woke up and my first thought was about something totally obscure and unimportant and not at all about the pain from the night before. When I woke up that morning and my first thought wasn't immediately about my (ex)husband I almost started crying simply because I was so relieved. From that day on it has been like I have been awake for the first time, ever, breathing in a refreshing and clear breath for the first time in years.

Since then my life has almost exploded and in only the happiest of ways. That damn phrase that everybody loves to repeat, "Everything happens for a reason", usually makes me cringe and roll my eyes because "everything" and "reason" are both such subjective and relative terms that the phrase has only ever felt dismissive, not inspiring. Until now. Now, I feel like I've had an "ah-ha!" moment where I get it. Ah yes! "Everything" has indeed happened for a "reason" and that reason is that I exist, here and now, unabashedly happy with the very fact that I am simply living! What an amazing "reason" for anything at all to happen, right??


Almost immediately after my ah-ha moment I booked a series of trips:

Puerto Rico, solo travel
Colorado, girl camping trip
California, visit home
Colombia, girl backpacking trip
California, visit home
Jamaica, girl trip
Nicaragua, girl surf trip

... and then I ran out of vacation days at work. Oops.

The next week I got my nose pierced in an ever-cliche way, one in which I'm rebelling against the very constricted, cookie-cutter life I found myself unhappily in. A beautiful full hoop ring is in the works and in some strange way I've never felt more beautiful (almost like when I look in the mirror my soul says, "ah, there you are!").

Also immediately after that ah-ha moment I launched my small business:

The Real Raw Shop

Then, do you know what happened? I had a major existential moment where I freaked out and thought: "What the fuck am I even doing?" You know those moments? Yeah. I had one of those. I started thinking, "What am I? A world traveler? A food blogger? A writer? A photographer? A faculty member (day job)? A hippie? A small business owner? A lover?" I couldn't believe that I had so many passions .. so many! I couldn't believe that every single one of them excited me, fueled me, and made me proud of who I am for the first time in years. I couldn't believe that all of this, every part of me, felt equally important to the other, far-reaching and often times whimsical parts of me. Yet here they are, all pounding on the inside of my chest, begging to be explored.

Something has shifted in me. Something big. And I bring this to you, now, because it has directly impacted this blog. It has influenced my lack of posting and even the content of my posts. It has influenced my diet, tremendously (am I even raw anymore? I'm certainly not vegan ..) And as much as I love making food and eating food, I just simply have not had an urge to post about it because I spend so much time playing with others, playing outside, and traveling (I know, I sound ridiculous). Whatta' life, right?

In a series of strange and unpredictable twists and turns where someone I trusted with my entire soul--as well as all the people in his life--did me very dirty, I'm finding that, ironically, the tide has shifted in such a magical way in which I have been released into this beautiful, abundant life ... and I have yet to look back.

So for now, I can tell you this: I will be back. I can also say this: ..once I figure out what direction I want to take.

In the meantime, I would love it if you would drop a comment for me and for any other readers that may be experiencing something even remotely similar. Share your story of trial and triumph. Have you ever been through anything so horrific? Have you ever survived? It is the community of women (admittedly, there is a gender bias here) that had experienced similar horror stories that helped me hang on to the single promise that life is infinitely better on the other side. So for now, I'd like to at the very least offer that to you!

Thanks for reading. I love you all. Talk soon ..

xo m