Posts Tagged ‘Vegan Diet’

Vegan Comfort Food

I’m not sure if it’s the unusual weather or the winds of change, but I’ve recently felt some creative kitchen urges. Although David and I are no longer 100% vegan, we still eat that way most of the time, with occasional forays into raw cheese for my continued tooth health. Goshen offers so few places we can eat that we’ve become “the best diner in town” with all our vegan versions of traditional foods. We each have our specialties. David makes some mean vegan Sloppy Joe’s and chili, and we both enjoy gluten free vegan pizza and various Italian creations served over lentil pasta. I tend to experiment more, since working from home gives me more time to play in the kitchen.

Some recent favorites:

Gluten-free, Soy-free, Vegan Mac ‘n’ Chz

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I adapted this recipe from Organic Authority’s “The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe: Comfort in a Bowl.” I changed some key ingredients, though, so I’ll post my recipe here, especially since I know quite a few blog readers now grow my favorite (and prolific!) White Scallop Squash, which features prominently in my version. The original recipe uses potatoes, which require some extra cooking care. In addition to a more forgiving method, Continue reading

One Man’s Evolutionary Search for the Moral Meal

Thanks to Ann Kreilkamp for linking to one of those uncomfortable posts that breaks through conditioned, seemingly obvious beliefs about compassionate eating.

I loved being strictly vegan for over eight years, and I still eat a predominantly plant based, mostly homegrown or personally known farm sourced diet, supplemented by locally sourced, picked up at the farm, very well treated and well loved raw goats’ milk and occasional free-range, organic eggs from local farmers. The more I garden and study permaculture, and the more organic farmers I meet, the move I’ve realized that a strict vegan diet isn’t the “feed the world” cure or even the most compassionate or sustainable way to eat. It sure was nice to think so, though! Just eat superfoods and buy organic, then you’re good to go, right? No one gets hurt if we all eat vegan. We can feed the world if we all eat vegan. Trouble is, that theory breaks down when you really start learning what it takes to grow food on a large enough scale to feed yourself, let alone the world.

As Daniel Zetah notes, why do cows matter more than other creatures? Beyond the obviously egregious factory farming, why are monoculture crops (even organic ones) that steal wildlife habitat and kill ecosystems “more compassionate” than personally raised and grazed animals with “one bad day”? How is a superfood shipped in from 1000’s of miles away, jacking up the price of staples for indigenous communities in South America and driving natives off ancestral land whose ecoculture they maintained for generations, or turning rainforest into a monocrop “more compassionate” than eating an egg from a chicken you lovingly raised in your own backyard? I don’t eat meat, but I have yet to meet a vegan organic farmer who remains vegan. Even Marjory Wildcraft (“Grow Your Own Groceries”) began as a strict vegan and then recognized that she was putting way more calories into growing food than she received from her best efforts. Running a deficit of return is not sustainable on an individual level, nor will it feed the world.

Number crunching of acres of soy or grain directly eaten vs. acres of grain or grass eaten by animals works in theory, but not in practice. Humans don’t have the digestive systems to break down that amount of grain in a safe, sustainable way. Too much soy causes all sorts of imbalances, and many people can no longer tolerate any grains. Without some kind of perennial vegetables, fruit/nut trees, and foraged “weeds,” eating and growing a diet of all grains and annual vegetables, or monoculture soy and corn crops, don’t lead to thriving. Not for the planet and not for most humans.

I’ve watched too many severely ill vegans reclaim their health on a paleo diet to espouse “all vegan all the time as the cure for all disease,” and I’ve witnessed enough closed permaculture loops utilizing manure, fish waste, and “blood ‘n’ bones” to recognize that we’re not really better off rising above these processes rather than returning them to the Earth. Nature has its own cycle of life that very much includes death and decay. Just because we don’t see it on our “peaceful plate” doesn’t mean that cycle ceases to exist. Without it, “life” begins to require all sorts of unnatural inputs and destructive things — chemical herbicides and pesticides, or spending hours hand killing bugs and slugs, tilling the soil, stripping the land each year instead of working more in harmony with natural succession.

Without regular inputs or carefully planned polycultures such as Daniel Zetah describes (sometimes even requiring grazing animals), the soil eventually won’t support annual crops, and certainly won’t maintain nutrient levels that provide enough minerals long term. Unhealthy soil leads to unhealthy food, and without renewing the soil, crops become more prone to insects and disease, making organic farming more difficult, not easier.

I highly recommend this piece, as it really challenges how far our compassion extends — for animals traditionally eaten? For animals in nature? For the Earth Herself? If we care for our planet as a whole, then the efficiency and closed loops of food production do matter. Just because we don’t see the consequences of our organically farmed veggies doesn’t mean those consequences don’t exist.

Growing your own food beyond hobby level makes you acutely aware of how everything we do impacts the rest of nature, and how simple answers don’t always stand strong beyond the theories. This piece challenges me, too, but it’s worth a read by anyone who loves animals and loves our planet. Ultimately, we need to choose what feels right and balanced to us. I’m still an organic eating vegetarian who grows much of my own food with permaculture principles. Sometimes I feel a little selfish and reckless about that choice, though — not because I should be vegan, but because my friends here who raise their own meat with zero waste and eat nearly all calories from their own farm are actually living with far lower impact than we are with our store-bought quinoa, tempeh and grains.

“There is no magic bullet. There is no one way to eat that is going to be devoid of guilt or devoid of suffering. There is no way to exist in this world without taking the life of other beings. And that complex truth was missing for me, and it’s still missing for a lot of people.” ~Daniel Zetah

Beyond Vegetarianism: One Man’s Journey from Tofu to Tallow in Search of the Moral Meal

 

Vegan and Vegetarian Holiday Options

Over the years, I’ve posted lots of photos, recipes and tips for preparing vegan, raw vegan, and/or vegetarian holiday food. You can click through to read about a Raw Vegan Easter Feast, a Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Feast, a Raw Vegan Indian Food Feast, a Raw Vegan Pizza and Italian Feast, Raw Vegan Thai, Tiramisu and Key Lime Pie, two Raw Vegan Christmas Feasts, Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry, the five flavors principle, vegan alfredo sauce and links to various other recipes. We also have some sort of vegan feast every six weeks for our Wheel of the Year Celebrations, although I usually keep the details of those gatherings private. It’s some good vegan eating, though!

Today, I wanted to share what we did this year for Thanksgiving, Yule and Christmas. Hopefully, the vast variety of foods shared in the above links and below will inspire some people to think of new possibilities when sharing holidays with non-vegans or non-vegetarians.

Please note: I’m not fully vegan anymore. For tooth and bone strength, I drink organic, raw goat milk, which we pick up directly from local farmers. I loved being 100% vegan and often 100% raw in California and Arizona, but once I got back to the cold Midwest, after 8.5 years of a strict vegan lifestyle, my body started demanding very specific types of dairy and occasional organic, free range eggs.

It was an extremely difficult decision to move from vegan to vegetarian, but the improvements in my health really speak for themselves. In photos I often miss my former waif self, not always recognizing my stronger, curvier self these days; however, I cannot argue with improved cognitive function, no more tooth pain, and greatly increased overall strength. It was the right decision for me, for now. I’ve never judged anyone for his or her dietary choices, as I know injuries, relocations, illnesses, stress, vibrational management, and other factors make “ideal” diets much more complicated than a simple dogma sometimes addresses.

I share the information here, not to judge, but to inspire. I prefer as cruelty free as possible for the holidays. It’s nice not to look at a carcass, to bypass the food coma, to celebrate life, and sometimes even to feed relatives the only veggies they’d willingly eat! All while having them ask for seconds. Or thirds. Anyway, without further ado … our menus this fall holiday season:

The night before Thanksgiving, David and I met his daughter and her boyfriend at a new microbrewery in South Bend called The Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House. This place has a dedicated vegan menu that directly corresponds to the regular menu. We thought it would be fun to take the young ones to a new spot where all of us could eat and enjoy an edgier atmosphere than Northern Indiana usually offers.

Oftentimes vegan versions of traditional menu items involve a lot of fake meat made from wheat gluten or soy, but we were blown away by the creativity and freshness of their entrees. It was too dark for photos, so we don’t have any; however, the dishes were so authentic tasting we actually asked our server if he had remembered to give us the vegan versions. Instead of gluten and soy, our “wings” were made from tender, perfectly seasons artichokes! Our Thai inspired dish used cauliflower instead of beef. We seriously could not believe how good our meals were! I will write a long overdue vegan Michiana post at some point. For now, just know that if you’re vegan or have a vegan in your crew, Crooked Ewe would be a special treat.

Just prior to meeting our young dinner guests, we stopped at the Mishawaka Whole Foods (which David helped open in 2013), and treated ourselves to one of their vegetarian holiday boxes. We don’t usually buy a prepared box of holiday foods, but with everything we had going on Thanksgiving weekend, we thought we’d treat ourselves. It was entirely vegetarian, some of it vegan, and some of it gluten-free. It did feature a seitan based loaf, which I could not stomach even beyond one bite, but David enjoyed that loaf a lot. The surprising thing coming from “Whole Paycheck” was just how much food we got for $29.95! We seriously had about 5 meals from this box. You can see some of the spread below:

Vegetarian Thanksgiving from Whole Foods

 

If you’re hosting a holiday for “regular eaters” and don’t know what to do with some oddball vegetarian guests, then the Whole Foods Holiday Box for vegetarians might be a great way to go. Vegans or gluten-free peeps would need more a la carte ordering, which removes some of the price advantage of the box, but if you’re out of your league cooking for vegans or vegetarians, Whole Foods offers an easy, tasty, considerate option.

I’m much more of a Yule gal than a Christmas celebrant, so when we went to David’s daughter’s graduation last weekend in Madison, I prepared a Yule Feast for the friends who hosted us. These are the same friends who joined us for most of the raw vegan feasts linked above, although this time, I offered a mix of cooked and raw, always gluten-free vegan dishes: homegrown cushaw squash soup, chickpea “meat”loaf, homegrown massaged kale and tomato salad, almond flour rolls, and a gluten-free vegan yule log. Those yule logs are labor intensive, but for once a year festivities, I do love them! So did our friends, who jumped with glee when I gifted them all the leftovers.

chickpea roast and kale salad

You can find the Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf recipe here. I made this twice — once for Yule and then again for Christmas because David requested it. I texted Tania Marie about our Christmas Eve Feast, and her Dave requested it, too! I found that the recipe needed between 1/8 to 1/4 cup of ground chia seeds added in. I used less the second time I made it, and although it tasted good, the texture never firmed up. David’s completely meat eating, non “weird diet” brother-in-law requested firsts, seconds and thirds of even the mushier version on Christmas, though, which tells you how yummy this recipe is.

The kale salad above is just kale, dehydrated tomatoes (soaked), chopped olives, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt, massaged together.

Below, you can see this year’s gluten-free, almost sugar-free, vegan yule log. I loosely followed this recipe, substituting gluten-free flour and a combo of coconut sugar and birch sweetener for the refined sugar. The non-edible holly garnish came from bushes I relocated to the blue house front yard:

vegan yule log

Whenever I make a yule log, I always have some kind of major kitchen whoops! In this case, I did not have enough gluten-free flour, and had subbed in some fava bean/chickpea flour without the other ingredients to make it “all purpose.” Oops, no arrowroot in the house, so I added chia seeds. This was the year of chia. The cake was fine as a cake, but in order to make a yule log, you need to fill it with creme or jam and roll it up. I used a low-sugar, local strawberry jam, but once I started rolling, this baby cracked all over the place!

I had not planned to make a glaze, but I needed a coconut based one to hold it together. I heated up coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla stevia and chocolate on a low burner, but quickly realized that would just dribble down the cake, not hold it together. It needed a little chilling; however, our fridge was full. Outside it went into 29 degree weather for enough time to turn firm enough to mold, but not so firm I couldn’t use if for yule log intervention. The final product turned out just right. You’d never know this one created almost as much mess as the one gluten-free-sugar-free-dairy-free yule log I made in 2013.

When we returned from our whirlwind trip to Madison, I thought I was mostly done cooking for the holidays, but David liked the chickpea loaf so much that he wanted one for Christmas. His daughter loves the traditional green bean casserole, and David had seen a reasonably clean gluten-free version of the crispy onion topping at ALDI’s of all places. I ended up planning another homemade feast. This one included gluten-free vegan versions of all the traditional green bean casserole ingredients:

green bean casserole

I threw all that together on Christmas Eve, along with the loaf, and prepared a favorite sweet potato dish with coconut milk and lots of sauteed, home grown garlic. I added some sauteed mushrooms and onion to the traditional directions for the green bean casserole, but it was pretty plug ‘n’ play. The green beans were a hit with everyone, and the sweet potatoes surprised David’s brother-in-law into requesting both firsts and seconds. Even the non-veggie eating nephew liked one serving of sweet potatoes:

sweet potato mash and green bean casserole

I appear to have redeemed myself from the “swamp pie” I made David and me for Christmas 2012. We loved the deep green spirulina raw vegan pie topped with goji berries, but we’ll never forget the reaction of the bro-in-law and nephew when they learned that spirulina’s algae! Stuck out green tongues and no end of remarks like, “As long as you don’t try to serve us pond scum …” .

All of which is to say, you can find no end to creative vegan and vegetarian meal options for the holiday, but if you’d like to share your feast with others, take it easy on the algae. 😉

Bon Appétit!

Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry

I haven’t posted any recipes in awhile, but this one was too tasty not to share!

As regular blog readers know, I’ve got a yard full of dandelions, and aside from harvesting the flowers for dandelion wine and dandelion jelly, I also gather dandelion leaves. Bags and bags of dandelion leaves! Sometimes I put them in green smoothies with frozen pineapple, banana and filtered water. Sometimes I steam them and just top with a hint of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. And sometimes I’ve been known to eat them wrapped around a slice of raw manchego. Tonight, I decided to make a dandelion soup.

Dandelions

Goji soup ingredients

I don’t measure when I prepare food, but here’s a guestimate:

Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry

Ingredients:

1.5 cups dried red lentils
filtered water to cover the lentils
1 strip of kombu seaweed
1 clove of garlic, pressed

half bag of gathered dandelion greens
half bunch of cilantro (not pictured)

three handfuls of dried goji berries
1 16 oz. can of coconut milk
Thai Kitchen green curry paste to taste (I used two generous scoops)

Method:

Cover the lentils with filtered water and begin to boil. Add in the kombu (for better digestion) and a clove of pressed garlic.

As the lentils and water begin to boil, put the dandelion greens and cilantro into a blender. Add enough filtered water (not the boiling water, but more water) to blend the greens into about a quart of nice, bright green liquid.

Add the blended water and greens to the pot of lentils and continue to boil. Watch to make sure the lentils don’t foam over. Turn down to low once you’ve established a rolling boil, at which point, you can add the three handfuls of goji berries and let it all simmer.

When the lentils are soft –about twenty to thirty minutes — add the coconut milk and green curry paste. Simmer for ten more minutes to meld the flavors. Serve and add a hint of sea salt to taste.

Goji soup

Goji berries hail from the nightshade family, just like tomatoes. Asians often add them to soups in order to impart a rich sweetness. In this soup, they perfectly balance the bitterness of the dandelions and go well with the subtle cilantro flavors. The spicy-sourness of the green curry rounds out the flavors, with the kombu adding that hint of fish flavor usually found in non-vegan curry dishes.

I got the idea for this soup while craving red lentils, noticing that I really needed to use up the rest of our cilantro, and researching where to plant my two new goji berry bushes:

Goji plants

Apparently, the bushes love full sun and can grow to sizes of eight to twelve feet in height and diameter. That’s a lot of goji berries! It also requires careful planning, since they like to spread once happily planted in their spot. I haven’t decided whether to plant them next to each other (with space in between) for a full goji hedge — a “fedge” (food hedge) in permaculture speak — or if I want to plant them in different areas to increase the odds of finding appropriate growing conditions. In the meantime, I will definitely add goji berries to soups again! Also known as wolfberries, these little gems pack a nutritional wallop: from beta carotene to anti-oxidants to fountain of youth chemicals and blood thinning capability.

Although I still consume the vast majority of my food raw, some things benefit from cooking. The boiling process mellows the sugars of the dried, sticky goji fruits, and it allows the dandelion greens to form a short-term herbal infusion, making some of the nutrients more bio-available than in their raw state. Besides helping with allergies and providing high vitamin A and calcium, dandelion greens offer so many benefits that I’m just sending you to the following link: click here to read a long list of dandelion health benefits. The results of eating kombu include: vitality and youthfulness, detoxification, adding essential trace minerals, and easier digestion of legumes.

Speaking of legumes, the red lentils made the list of the top ten healthy foods, due to their high fiber, high antioxidants, magnesium and folate. Additionally, scientists recently found a compound in nuts and lentils that blocks the growth of cancerous tumors.

Cilantro chelates mercury and heavy metals, and garlic does everything from boost immunity to thinning blood to keeping away vampires –psychic and otherwise. 😉 Coconut milk contains phosphorous for strong bones and manganese for good blood sugar levels, along with Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids and various amino acids. A healthier option would involve cracking your own coconut to avoid the BPA in cans; however, I keep these cans on hand for very occasional, spontaneous meals. I’m a Lazy Raw Foodist even when I cook! The Thai Kitchen brand of curry pastes, including this green paste, are (as far as I can tell at this time) vegan. I keep both red and green flavors on hand, because they make fabulous soups and nori wraps on very short notice.

Most importantly for my purposes tonight, this superfood soup tasted savory, sweet, tangy and all around amazing! It had so many rich flavors that I can’t believe I only used water and no vegetable broth. TGWHL: Thank God/dess We Have Leftovers! 🙂

Earth Changes and Dietary Shifts

I sooooo did not want to write this post, but it just keeps rolling around my brain. Whenever I manage to quiet those words, I stumble upon some other (formerly) raw vegan website extolling the virtues of meat. When I stop reading blogs, I get phone calls from vegan clients asking why, oh why do they “suddenly crave chicken”? Why are their guides, their trusted guides, showing them “platefuls of fish and vegetables” whenever they ask for healing? Why do they feel the seductive pull of eggs and … bone broth?

Needless to say, these shifts have caused some sparks to fly on the vegan and raw vegan circuit. When “Raw Model” Anthony Anderson went public in 2009 about drinking raw goat milk kefir, some people congratulated him and others freaked out. Since that time, many, many former proponents of an exclusively raw and vegan diet have shifted, either publicly or privately to something radically … different.

I have lots of clients interested in raw and vegan foods, and I have lots of high raw friends. Heck, I even wrote a book called, “The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide,” which details not just one, but many raw-friendly paths. Because of my Medical Intuitive gifts and my involvement in raw and vegan foods, people keep asking me to comment. Please consider this article my comment. 🙂

A key feature of “The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide” is a chapter called “Finding Your Why.” To begin, I’ll quote part of that section here:

“Your why comes before your way. In fact, your why comes before anything! Before we go any further, take a moment to define your why. Why did you decide to read this book? Why do you feel drawn to explore raw foods?

“Finding your why makes any journey easier and more direct. When you know your why, you can more clearly weigh your options. When you know your why, you can better handle distractions and temptations. When you know your why, you can dead reckon your way.

“Wikipedia defines ‘dead reckoning’ as ‘the process of estimating one’s current position based upon a previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known speed, elapsed time, and course.’

“I first learned about dead reckoning from a helicopter pilot whose GPS malfunctioned. He explained that if you know where you’ve been and you know where you want to go, then you can find stopover points along the way. You can take shorter journeys and reassess the progress on your longer journey each time you pause. As long as you have a clear idea of where you’ve been and at least a vague idea of where you’d like to go, then you can hop, skip and jump your way to your destination.

“Does dead reckoning always work? Well, that depends on your perspective! Christopher Columbus intended to reach India and dead reckoned his way to America instead. Miscalculations of his estimated speed led him somewhere completely unexpected, but he got there by following what he viewed as his intended course. Mistake or inspiration?

“I wonder how many great discoveries happen by ‘accident.’

“In exploring your why, you do not need to pick a final, unchangeable answer right now. It just helps to know your current motivation. You can change your why or correct course at any stopover points along the way.

“Perhaps you initially choose raw food for health reasons. Maybe you suffer from chronic fatigue, cancer or fibromyalgia and have heard stories about the miracle raw food diet. Or maybe an intuitive spark just says, ‘Do this, and don’t ask questions! You’ll see why later.’ In that case, you still have an initial why: you’re following your intuition. As a Medical Intuitive, I would say that’s one of the greatest whys you can ever have! …”

I wrote the Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide in 2008, and truth be told, I’m too lazy to go through it and update all my personal details. I don’t live in California anymore. I’m not married anymore. I’m no longer researching my novel because I’ve already published it. I also opted not to change all the contributors’ personal details, because we are all on a continuing journey. What’s personally accurate at the moment of publication may not always remain true. I prefer to let people tell their own stories, and readers can find those stories by following the included links.

Aside from the lazy factor, though, I decided not to revise The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide because I still very much believe in its premise. I wrote that ebook in answer to so many of the same questions from clients and friends. I wanted to share basic, often overlooked information that would help others take responsibility for their own dietary choices and health. This remains my mission, and I’ve never advocated a single diet for all people — or even a single, unchanging diet for one person! People change. Situations change. Earth Changes!

And so, rather than advocating or condemning one particular way of eating, I thought I’d focus on the big underlying questions of “why can’t I be vegan anymore?” “why now?” and “why such a worldwide trend?” I’m also receiving a run of questions from people who never viewed themselves as veg-friendly, wondering how and why on Earth they’re feeling led to a meat-free lifestyle now. In all cases, the shift itself seems to cause more internal agony than what foods people actually end up choosing. We tend to define ourselves by what we eat, especially once dietary choices become “ethical.”

Introducing consciousness around food can alter us in positive ways from the inside out. We are what we eat. Food can affect our vibration, the clarity with which we send and receive information, and how we build our cells. But we are also much more than what we eat!

For many people, going high raw, 100% raw or juice feasting/fasting allowed them to get back in touch with their own intuition. It also plugged them in to a ready made community (even if just online) of people interested in natural living, planet Earth, holistic healing, spirituality, art, and visionary thinking. Gaining strength in numbers and confidence through weight loss, an improved appearance and a sense of being on the cutting edge accounted for much of the explosion of raw veganism in 2007 and 2008. And don’t forget the cacao! Regardless of personal stance on raw chocolate(poison or panacea?), it’s difficult to imagine raw food having caught on so thoroughly without these pods, powders and nibs of bliss.

So what changed?

Hey, what hasn’t? The shifts between 2008 and 2011 have been incredible. Bill Clinton turned vegan. Oprah did a 30-day vegan challenge. Kris Carr became a bestselling author and sensational speaker. Some Starbucks carry Two Mom’s in the Raw Granola. On the other hand, we’ve got the FDA and its European counterpart approving GM foods, not requiring them to be labeled, and inexplicably declaring things like mesquite a “novel” food. Um… GM alfalfa is new — and approved — but mesquite, the traditional Native American food consumed for centuries, has just been declared “novel” and therefore no longer legally sold in Europe. In April of this year, Europe will also crack down on the legal sale of herbs, many of which have been used for millenia.

I’ve written about this dynamic before in my article, “Monsanto, DNA and Evolutionary Backwash,” but the dynamic plays out in other ways. The people ruling this world may be all manner of icky, self-centered-things-that-make-ya-go-ewwww, but one thing they know is the Law of Attraction. Get people in fighting mode about foods and people start attracting fights all over the place. Pretty soon they’re in-fighting amongst themselves. This faction of highly prolific online writers formerly united by food and a reasonably collective, more idyllic vision of the world, starts to break down. They get distracted. And then Big Pharma, the FDA and the powerful few continue to slip things in to control and exploit the many.

It really doesn’t take much to create a downward manifestation spiral, especially when dealing with people who’ve awakened to their own intuitive and manfestation gifts. You always attract what you most think about, but people who’ve managed to amp up their vibes and practice creating in big ways, attract more dramatic things, and they attract these dramatic things faster. The Bible has a saying that’s always jumped out at me, “from those to whom much has been given, much will be required.” During most of my life, my response went something like this, “Um, I don’t know that I can meet those requirements, so maybe just don’t give me so much, OK?” Multiple head injuries and a decade as a Medical Intuitive later, I’ve come to accept both the gifts and the joys of regiving and forgiving. I’ve watched countless others do the same, including many prominent raw food bloggers, authors and speakers.

Here’s the tricky part that so many people find themselves navigating right now: Sometimes the effort to eat without harming anyone or anything ends up harming oneself, either through nutritional deficiencies, self-judgment, or both. In that case, the concept of unconditional compassion becomes even more important. Taking into account all the known factors and options, consider offering your decision for the highest good of all. It may be that the effort, energy, cost and attention required to keep you most compassionate in one area, ultimately detracts so much of what you have to offer in other areas that the choice becomes obvious. Being OK with that choice then becomes a practice in non-attachment and a willingness to do whatever you need to do in order to create the world you love.

February 10, 2011 marked the first day of the last cycle of the Mayan Calendar. No one really knows what this means because the outcome remains in flux. We as individuals and especially as a collective consciousness exert such powerful influence over how this “shift” goes down. Will it be peaceful? Will mass disasters destroy civilization? Will we realize it as a unique event or will things just slowly seem different? I don’t know. It really depends a great deal on personal and mass consciousness. Do we focus on love or fear? Unconditional compassion or judgment? How we choose to live our moments, adding one on top of another, gradually moves mountains. The shift will happen, but how it happens depends a great deal on what we allow to engage our imagination.

Regarding vegans eating animal products again: I view this as a temporary means of rooting extra deep into the Earth — of getting extra grounded and physically charged in order to blast into a totally different vibe. Along with the move towards animal products, the concept of “grounding” gets thrown around a lot these days. “Walk barefoot.” “Protect yourself from EMF’s.” “Hug a tree.” “Heal and ground yourself with a crystal Biomat.” In addition to grounding, we hear all sorts of things about minerals. Shilajit, chaga, reishi, and Himalayan Sea Salt have become so popular because of their deep, rich mineral content. Where do minerals come from? Deep inside the Earth.

Intuitively, I feel this trend towards animal products illustrates more about the intense call to ground ourselves than about health issues or a sudden disregard for animal welfare. Health issues may present the final, irrefutable nudge for some people, but overall I see a trend of humanity needing to reconnect and fasten themselves tightly to the Earth. Part of this makes sense, as we have been disconnected for millenia from an additional chakra that runs about six feet beneath the surface of the Earth. Known as the Telluric Current, this energy forms a grid that can connect us all to deep Earth love and wisdom.

I feel this is an evolutionary step, but not the final destination. In order for a tree to grow tall and strong, it needs strong roots. It may need to reach down deep in order to find the water and nutrients it needs for thriving in a harsh environment. As a species, we are living in a harsh environment right now. We are looking to “Ascend” or reach higher and higher. In order to do so under harsh conditions, some of us will need to reach extra deep. In some cases this means emotionally. In others it may mean physically. If we hold onto a greater vision of the world we’d love to create, then the question becomes are we willing to do whatever it takes to bring that world into being? Are we willing to do what it takes to strengthen our resolve, even if the means seem counterintuitive? Are we willing to follow the still small voice inside that knows where to step on each leg of the journey? Are we willing to have faith — by definition “a sure and certain belief in things unseen?”

I also invite you to consider the energy around self-judgment and limiting what we consider acceptable or unacceptable foods for ourselves. We live in an age when the government continues to usurp our rights to eat whatever we want to eat and grow our own organic foods. The FDA routinely raids dairies who make raw milk available to people who use it for healing purposes, and the FDA tries to regulate or eliminate all manner of herbs and natural supplements that could help people heal on their own. If we long for freedom of choice, then the vibe of personal denial sends out a cross message. We may ask for freedom, but a body that craves a food that the mind denies it begins to vibe with “we the people who no longer have access to the foods we want and need.” We are powerful creators, and we need to consider what we really, truly want to manifest — staying vigilant that our dominant feelings align with what we say we want to create.

To summarize, I do and I don’t know why so many vegans have recently turned to animal products. Each person has his or her own story and unique circumstances. But when I notice a global trend that happens to coincide with other global trends, I find it interesting. Can I prove the Telluric Current exists? Nope, not yet anyway. Are others aware of it? You betcha. Humans are set to make an evolutionary leap that will transform everything about planet Earth. Why do you think those in control spend so much time and energy trying to manipulate our DNA with GM foods, pesticides, GM organisms, etc.? Yeah, they have power. But we — you and me and each person you know — have more. We have the power of our minds, our hearts and our imaginations. As Buddha says, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”

Choose the thoughts you want to see in the world!

Macrobiotics and the Raw Food Diet

On the surface, Macrobiotics and a Raw Food Diet seem either very close on the continuum or very far apart. Both can be viewed by the mainstream as “radical,” “extreme,” often “vegan,” and “quasi-religious in their fanatism.” Both focus on the energy of food, albeit in different ways. On the other hand, Macrobiotics cooks nearly everything, including fruit, eschews things like chocolate, coconuts and bananas as far too yin for the Northern Hemisphere, and views beer as superior to wine. Most raw foodies steer clear of grains, whereas Macrobiotics puts grains, especially brown rice, into the highest category of nutrition. Despite these apparent contradictions, in my raw food coaching and dietary transition coaching, I have found that Macrobiotics and Raw Food can synergize into quite a valuable combination.

Here’s how you, too, can combine “big life” with “the best day ever”:

Eat with the Seasons

Primarily a Macrobiotic principle, this one offers some strong benefits to raw foodies, most obviously in terms of produce freshness. It also ensures a variety of nutrients instead of the green smoothie ruts many raw foodists can slip into.

You know what I mean, right? Throw some bananas and spinach in the blender and you’re good to go … every single day … for weeks on end! Uh-uh. Green smoothies are great, but every diet needs variety, especially ones that exclude a wide range of “normal” foods. Eating seasonly helps bring trace nutrients and different vitamins into the mix. You can still drink a green smoothie every single day, but mix it up a bit with whatever fruit and greens are in season where you live.

Eat Locally

A Macrobiotic corollary to the last principle, this one seems both obvious and challenging to raw foodies. On the one hand, of course! Support your local Farmer’s Market or CSA. It’s cheaper, fresher, seasonal and usually organic. And did I mention cheaper??

On the other hand, most superfoods come from all over the globe. It is a common feat for that Vitamix to contain items from perhaps 5 of the 7 continents on any given morning. Hey, I love my cacao, hemp, goji berries, and acai just as much as the next superfoodist. OK, maybe more in the case of cacao. 😉 I personally find superfoods a valuable and sustainable addition to the raw food diet, and I would find life without blue green algae, well, a little less fulfilling.

But … and this is a big but … there is something to eating locally. According to Macrobiotics, tropical fruits (especially bananas and coconuts), coffee, nightshades and chocolate are extremely expansive and “yin.” Macrobiotics looks at the energy of food in terms of yin (up, opening, feminine, expansive) and yang (down, contracting, masculine, focusing). I am drastically oversimplifying here, but please bear with me.

Sometimes raw foodists have a difficult time staying “grounded.” They enjoy the clarity and high of 100% raw food but after awhile start feeling spacey, out of body or generally disconnected from “the real world.” If this describes you, then eating locally can help in two ways. First, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you will drastically reduce the amount of airy fairy yin foods in your diet because bananas, coconuts and cacao don’t grow in Pennsylvania or New Hampshire. Or England. Second, eating food grown within 1-50 miles of where you live anchors you to that locale. Raw foodies like to say, “You are what you eat.” Indeed, you are also “Where you eat.” If you have trouble with “Be here now,” try working in some local goodies. It really does help!

You will also feel warmer if you eat more local foods, especially in winter. Tropical foods help to cool the body because it’s HOT in the tropics. If you find yourself shivering on a raw food diet during a Chicago January, cut back on the bananas in your morning smoothie and see if it doesn’t curb those goosebumps.

Chew Your Food

Macrobiotics advocates chewing each mouthful 50-100 times. Indeed, with all the whipping, blending, chopping and juicing of a raw food diet, we sometimes forget the necessity of truly chewing our food. Raw foodists emphasize “enzymes” as one of the greatest advantages of raw food over cooked food. Please remember that digestive enzymes begin in the mouth. “Chew your smoothies” even if you blend them thoroughly. You will digest them better. When you eat crunchy things, especially dehydrated crackers or “breads,” make sure you chomp them into a liquid slurry. You’ll find your body handles them much easier.

Eat Sea Veggies

Yep, nori, wakame, kelp … they provide rich nutrients in both Macrobiotics and many Raw Food Diets. If you want to stay strictly raw, watch your sourcing of sea vegetables. Most supermarket ones are cooked. As an added treat, you can use Irish Moss to congeal or thicken raw pies. Holy wow, does that make a tasty difference! Actually, you won’t usually taste the Irish Moss, but you’ll appreciate the texture of Raw Lemon Meringue pie and Chocolate (gasp!) Mousse that much more with this wonderful sea veggie in the mix. Because both Macrobiotics and Raw Food Diets tend to eliminate or minimize most meats, sea veggies provide important minerals that might otherwise be lacking in these diets. Eat up!

Whole Foods

No, I’m not talking about the grocery store that drops your jaw every time you reach the cash register. I’m talking about the principle that whole, unprocessed foods tend to offer more bang for your caloric buck than crazy mixtures of ingredients ground into “flour” or mixed together in strange ways to resemble “traditional” foods. Yep, I’m talking about Gourmet Raw Food and processed raw snacks.

Confession: I adore both and I love supporting places like Cafe Gratitude and One Lucky Duck. Truly. I hope they take over the world like Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Hostess and Little Debbie. But … do consider what you’re eating on the most regular basis, especially if you find yourself locked into the “it must be 100% raw” mindset. Do you honestly believe that an entire bag of coconut macaroons is “more nutritious” than an occasional cup of brown rice for dinner? Or that a side of lightly steamed broccoli pales in comparison to say, a jar of raw nut butter? If so, that’s fine. Trust your own body’s response at ALL times over anything I say. If, however, you gradually begin to feel less energetic, more sluggish or generally less than “the best ever” on a 100% raw food diet, examine two things:

1) How much fat are you eating?

2) What ratio of whole foods versus processed items do you eat per day? The body does like simple things, so some brown rice or quinoa with steamed veggies might actually feel more balancing and energizing after awhile than multiple raw fats combined into a tasty “sandwich” or pate.

Watch Your Sugars and Salts

Macrobiotics likes to focus on foods that rest comfortably in the middle range of yin and yang. Sugar, sweet fruits, alcohol, chocolate, coffee and recreational drugs are the most expansive or yin. Meat, eggs, and salt, including miso, Nama Shoyu and sea veggies, are the most contractive or yang. If you find yourself bouncing between extremes of energy and lethargy, between euphoria and irritability, or between spot on intuition and brain fog, you might want to explore your sugar-salt patterns.

The body likes balance. That’s why Coconut Bliss tastes so yummy after a seaweed salad. Oh, alright, Coconut Bliss tastes good anytime! But seriously, even on a “conscious” diet like Raw Foods, we can quickly become a slave to the yin-yang tyranny of foods. If you feel less than optimal on any diet, consider how you’d like to feel and utilize foods to bring you there. If you feel too spacy, think roots. If you feel like you want to bite someone’s head off, back off on the salted sauerkraut and flax crackers for awhile. And if you want to live on cacao, don’t forget your celery-cucumber juice to bring you back into orbit.

For more on the Raw Food Diet, mood and food and Macrobiotics, please check out The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide, which takes out most of the work and leaves the fun. 😉

Why I am One Lucky Duck!

I had been painting in Evanston for a week and learned that my apartment office held onto a Fed-Ex delivery for me. Thinking it was just my external hard drive from California (not terribly exciting) I didn’t hurry to claim my package until returning from the post office today reminded me to do so.

Well … imagine my delight when I discovered in the elevator that it was a surprise package of goodies from none other than Pure Food & Wine’s Sarma! By the time I reached the ninth floor, the box was halfway open and my grin huge. The man with the baby who opened the door on my floor must have thought I’d just won the lottery! Which I still intend to do, by the way. 😉

I had been debating whether to walk by Lake Michigan on this glorious day or hoof it to the health food store for some raw cookies. Opting for the Lake, I received both. A lesson in manifestation: always claim your gifts!

One Lucky Duck Chocolate Chip Cookies

One Lucky Duck Chocolate Cherry Macadamia Cookies

One Lucky Duck Blonde Macaroons

One Lucky Duck Gingerbread Cookies

They were all utterly scrumptious. (I had to taste test!) But I’d actually say I loved the Gingerbread the best.

Thank you, Sarma! You totally made this Lazy Raw Foodist’s day. 🙂