Monday, May 27, 2013

Real Food Wedding

As you know my daughter, whose personal health transformation inspired this blog, and I are real food enthusiasts.  With her wedding reception less than one week away, we are taking special care to plan a selection of real food desserts.  This has been a real pinterest inspired DIY event.  We plan to make the desserts ourselves using treasured family heirloom recipes.  Our dessert table will feature a homemade trifle, replete with lemon curd that takes 30 minutes to stir - and made by my son Brett, Mimi's berry cobbler, Grandma Taylor's picnic cake, and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla butter cream frosting along with a bride and groom cake that will be decorated in a rose design. We are avoiding all pro-inflammatory seed oils and processed faux foods.  As we finalize our shopping list this morning I am trying not to be staggered by the amounts of butter and cream.  Julia Child would be proud.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gluten-Free Travel Food

Edible Adventures has been away from home for the past week.  For someone fixated on food like myself being away from home and my own kitchen often presents special challenges.

Since roadside fast food has no appeal for me - and is not what I consider a healthy option - I came up with three new travel foods that really worked for me and made the experience of travel more enjoyable than it usually is.

1 - Travel secret number one was paleo-style egg muffins.  I baked mine with crumbled turkey sausage (homemade and from my freezer), bacon, chopped onion, broccolini and beaten eggs.  The muffins tasted great on the road and I never felt deprived or hungry.

2 - Travel secret number two was frozen jars of homemade soup.  It was good to know that I could warm up a bowl of comforting homemade soup whenever I liked.  I made two different varieties - creamy squash soup with ginger and cream of broccoli soup with fennel and basil.

3 - Travel secret number three was onion flax crackers.  Since I am a gluten-free gal I made a large batch of dehydrated onion flax crackers and stored them in a ziplock bag.  They tasted great with mashed avocado and sunflower seeds sprouts for a quick snack.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Are Cleansing Diets Right For You?

Though our culture seems to be attracted to the idea of cleansing regimes and cleansing diets in general, perhaps a puritanical throw back, very few of us may actually thrive on a super cleansing diet, such as a raw food vegan or a macrobiotic diet, in the long run.

I have tried both a raw food vegan lifestyle - yes it is much more than a diet -  and macrobiotic diet and lifestyle for many years, and though I, currently, don't follow either program exclusively, I still incorporate much of what I learned from them into my current lifestyle.  Here are some of my thoughts on cleansing diets.


At the risk of sounding esoteric, raw food, in my mind, is loud food.  In order to break up the fiber in raw food, especially the hardier greens such as kale and collard greens, so that you can digest and assimilate the nutrients, you have got to use some pretty heavy duty kitchen equipment.  Equipment that is often not appreciated by sensitive ears.

Raw food energy is essentially loud energy.  Loud and superficial.  What I call surface energy - like the dance of light across the surface of a lake.  There is a certain magic in the energy.  The energy feels great. You feel light, energized and even somewhat euphoric.  But, at the risk of sounding like a kill-joy, despite the energy high, on the back-side, the bodies deep energy reserves are depleted.  That would approximate a depletion of kidney or root energy from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective.  Or, from a Western perspective that would mean a lack of key nutrients - particularly the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K-2, as well as B-12, essential fatty acids, unless supplemented, and essential amino acids.

Simply stated, a raw food vegan lifestyle, though often useful in the short term, is seldom sustainable in the long run.


The macrobiotic diet is also considered a cleansing diet - often used to treat excesses in the body such as tumor, cysts, growths and the like.  The macrobiotic diet is mostly a plant based diet, consisting of brown rice and vegetables with the infrequent addition of white non-oily fish or shellfish.

The focus is on slow-cooked food prepared by hand.  The food is quieter, more sustaining, and grounding than raw food.  When raw food is served it is often sauerkraut, pickle, or pressed salad and in small amounts.  The dishes are prepared by hand, requiring no more technology than a knife and cutting board.  Seeds are ground by hand using a suribachi and surikogi, which is the Japanese equivalent of a mortar and pestle.  The proper use of heat or fire is applied to "humanize" the food and help prepare it for digestion.

The diet has been helpful for people recovering from illness, however, in the long-term the diet can be depleting unless a wider diet is adopted.   Like the raw food vegan diet -  fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K-2, unless one eats natto, certain essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids are conspicuously missing.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fantastic Smoothie

Edible Adventures is on the road.  I am currently visiting my brother and his family.  His wife, Kristen, makes the most yummy smoothie in the morning.

The good news is that it is truly delicious - the bad news is that there really isn't a recipe for it.

So for those of you that like to experiment and don't usually follow a recipe - this will be a fun one to try.

I watched her make it yesterday.  This is an approximation of the smoothie I have been enjoying in the morning.

Kristen's Morning Smoothie

Fill a Vita-Mix Blender with the following:

  • coconut water
  • almond milk
  • organic greens
  • baby carrots
  • tons of berries - all sorts
  • apple, pear, or kiwi optional
  • slice of organic lemon with peel
  • scoop of coconut oil
  • scoop of chia seed
  • scoop of flax seed
  • scoop of vegan protein powder - soy free
  • scoop of maca powder

Blend it all up until it is smooth.  She varies is every morning - so that it never tastes quite the same.

My brother says he misses the morning smoothie when he is traveling.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

From Macrobiotics to Raw Food Vegan to Ayurveda

Food Styles

Over the past several decades I have explored macrobiotics, raw food, vegetarian, vegan cooked and raw, Ayurveda, among other food styles and traditions - so that over the years I have cycled though a lot of information and a lot of different ways of relating to food.  Each time I began to explore a new food system I wondered if I had found the perfect one.  What I learned is that there is no perfect diet and that even if we are eating a perfect diet today – the same food will not be perfect tomorrow – because health is not static – but a dynamic, ever changing thing.

I like to think that through my adventurous and enthusiastic dietary exploration that I was able to cull the best from each tradition.


I learned to LOVE sea vegetables.  To this day some of my favorite comfort foods come from the macrobiotic tradition.  Macrobiotic cuisine is always soothing and calming to me and I return to those time honored dishes again and again, especially when I am sick or under the weather.

Raw Food Vegan

Learning to prepare tasty raw vegan food was definitely an interesting challenge.  It was like learning a new language with food.  Colorful and completely fun.  The raw food vegan world is impeccable when it comes to food quality - insisting on the highest quality sea salts, fats and oil, organic fruits and vegetables.  I learned all about soaking and sprouting nuts, seeds, making awesome dehydrated flax crackers, and the like.


It was fun to learn about the three doshas, vata, pitta, and kapha.  There is a lot of intuitive resonance with foods that support and nurture the three distinct doshas.  For instance, one can intuitively and easily reach for a vata-calming food remedy when the autumn winds are stirring around and one begins to feel less grounded.


Vegetarian dishes are truly the color and excitement of the food world.  A plate without vegetables, fruits and the like would be a very dull plate indeed.  Creating a delicious array of vegetarian dishes is very instructive and will definitely take more time and TLC than throwing something on the grill for dinner, for instance.  

Weston A. Price Foundation

The evolution of a diet is a fascinating subject.  My personal dietary evolution ultimately lead to the Weston A Price Foundation where I learned about the important role of fat-soluble vitamins in human nutrition.  In addition, when I read  Sally Fallon's cookbook "Nourishing Traditions" I enthusiastically began making and eating all sorts of fermented food - which the plethora of posts on said subject attests to.

The dietary guidelines of the WAPF make the most sense to me because the parameters are very wide and easily accommodate various food styles, metabolic differences, individual needs and preferences.  Learn more about the Weston A. Price Foundation dietary guidelines and real food.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Is A Carbohydrate Threshold

To continue the conversation about smoothies.

Remembering that historically I have not been able to have smoothies in the morning without experiencing a blood sugar crash – and encouraged by my success the day before – I made the luscious pumpkin pie smoothie for breakfast yesterday but with one important difference – I added some homemade grain-free granola for crunch and pizzaz. 

An hour later – blood sugar crash.  In addition, I ended up feeling hungry ALL day no matter what I ate after the blood sugar crash and so I ended up grazing for the remainder of the day and into the night and still felt slightly off and less able to handle stress.

So what I bumped up against yesterday – big time – is what I like to call a carbohydrate threshold.  The seemingly innocent addition of grain-free granola, sweetened with raw honey, pushed me over my edge.   And when I exceed my carb threshold at breakfast I pay the price for the rest of the day. 

What I am learning is that my personal carbohydrate threshold is more sensitive in the morning than in the afternoon.  In the morning I do better when I eat a breakfast that has plenty of fat and protein.  A good breakfast stabilizes me for the rest of the day.  Then in the afternoon and evening I have found that I can get away with the addition of more carbs without deleterious effect.

Carbohydrate intolerance of any kind is a sign of insulin resistance.  The two go hand-in-hand.

Symptoms of Carbohydrate Intolerance:

  • Headache
  • Feeling of Weakness
  • Irritability and Unstable Mood
  • Inability to Focus
  • Weak Legs When Exercising
  • “Pins and Needles” in the arms at night
  • Weight Gain Around the Middle
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Elevated Triglycerides
  • Craving For Sugar
  • PMS

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Real Food Adventures

I teach cooking classes periodically throughout the year, offering a wide range of choices and food styles from cooked food to raw.  Since I am not a proponent of the one-size-fits-all dietary approach - you will find an eclectic assortment of classes to reflect my philosophy.

I try to be sensitive to the needs of class attendees and classes will often reflect their preferences and requests.  Sometimes classes reflect what I am currently interested in. 

The most popular classes, to date, here in southern California have been my vegetarian cooking classes and raw food classes.  That being said, you may have noted that I write about a wide variety of food topics and food styles – and I don’t limit myself to vegan, vegetarian or raw food exclusively.

So, least you, the reader, become confused - let me take a moment to clarify and explain myself. 

I am not a proponent of any one particular food style or philosophy, nor, do I encourage those who attend my classes to become devotees to any one food style.  My goal is to show class attendees how to use and explore a variety of food styles and encourage them to develop an aptitude and taste for REAL FOOD.  Allowing for individual differences and metabolic uniqueness there really is a wide range of possibility to explore within a Real Food Framework.   REAL FOOD - traditionally grown and raised - IS the ultimate food adventure!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

We are in the midst of unbelievable hot weather all of a sudden here in southern California.  When I woke up this morning I knew I had better get out early if I wanted to hike.  I was on the trail by 6:30 and it was already heating up.

When I got back from the hike I was SUPER hot and SUPER hungry.

It seemed to me that a tall smoothie was in order.

I got the idea and concept for Pumpkin Pie Smoothie from a blog I discovered this weekend.

Mary has used the Weston A. Price Foundation dietary information along with the GAPS diet to heal herself from major digestive problems, and infertility among other things.  Her blog is loaded with information and recipes that I am just beginning to explore.

I am pretty excited about this smoothie because I feel like I am just beginning to unlock the secret to making smoothies that work for me - smoothies that are nourishing and sustaining.

I seldom follow a recipe exactly - so here is what the smoothie I made this morning looked like:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 c. water
1/3 c. baked acorn squash left-over from dinner
1/2 avocado
1 whole backyard or pastured egg
1 T. coconut oil
dash of vanilla extract
dash of almond extract
1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice
green stevia to taste (I did not use 1 - 2 T raw honey - but will try it next time)

Blend everything until smooth and creamy.  Pour into a tall glass.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Smoothie Plus Greens

Those of you who follow my blog will remember that I have been searching for a smoothie that will keep me going until lunchtime.  I love the idea of making a smoothie for breakfast – what could be easier on a busy morning or more refreshing when the weather is hot, like it is right now, and you don’t want to cook? 

But, for some reason smoothies don’t keep me satisfied for very long.  I have tried a lot of different smoothies.  I have made them with berries, raw milk, raw milk kefir, coconut milk, young green coconut, almond milk, various green powders, whey powder, banana and bee pollen - and nothing seems to do the trick.  Each time I try a new smoothie– I end up looking for second breakfast in about an hour or two. 

Saturday morning I came VERY CLOSE to achieving my goal.  I actually had a smoothie with greens for breakfast.  The smoothie was delicious  – but I was SO WORRIED about whether it would hold me through the Vinyasa Flow class I taught that morning that I ate a side of steamed greens along with it – just to be on the safe side. 

So from a purist point of view I did not have just a smoothie for breakfast did I? 

Not only did the breakfast smoothie plus greens keep me going until lunchtime – it kept me going through an active yoga class too.  Now that is really putting a breakfast to the test!

Breakfast Smoothie

1 c. freshly made almond milk
2 whole backyard or pastured eggs
3/4 c. fresh organic strawberries
1/4 raw beet diced small
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1 dash cardamom
stevia to taste

Blend everything, except the eggs, until creamy and smooth.  Then swirl in the eggs.

The result is very similar to an eggnog - strawberry flavored - with spicy/floral notes.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Serendipitous Mulberry

Black Mulberries

Well, you might be tempted to think that "The Serendipitous Mulberry" is all premeditated - but it is not.  By fortuitous foraging instincts and good fortune, I got to thinking about mulberries yesterday and remembered a friend of mine named Julie who has a large black mulberry tree in her backyard.  I have not seen Julie in a long time.  I gave her a phone call - by coincidence another friend of mine just happened to send me her phone number in an email this week - and asked her if there was any chance that I could get some mulberries from her tree this year.  She said there was a very good chance and invited me over.

Her mulberry tree is a beautiful specimen, loaded with mulberries, in a backyard that has been designated as a wildlife sanctuary.  I thoroughly enjoyed standing in the dappled shade this afternoon, visiting with Julie, and picking mulberries until my fingers were stained purple.

As for the picking, mulberries are labor intensive, and I have about two cups for my efforts.  They are delicious mulberries and I am very happy to have them.

By-the-way, for those of you who enjoy food trivia, Julie, who is keen on proper plant nomenclature, informed me that mulberries are not a true berry - but a morus fruit.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Elusive Mulberry

I just realized, in retrospect, that I neglected to mention another favorite berry of mine in my post yesterday on berries.  Today I would like to introduce the often under-rated, perhaps even unknown, but, nevertheless, delicious, mulberry.  The mulberry, a fairly recent discovery of mine, can be eaten fresh or dried.  Dried mulberries, which are very sweet, by-the-way, can be easily purchased online.  Fresh mulberries, which have a juicy sweet-tart flavor, are a challenge to locate.

I was introduced to mulberries about 6 years ago when I discovered a package of dried Turkish white mulberries at a local health food store.  I knew that mulberries were reputed to be a fairly decent yin tonic in TCM.  I decided to buy them and give them a try.  I ended up adding them to trail mix.  I liked the pleasant crunchy butterscotch-like flavor so much that I bought a package of dried purple mulberries in no time.  Since then they have become a favorite snack food.  In fact, I snacked on some today.

Since the mulberry, a native of Asia, grows well here in southern California you would think that fresh mulberries would be fairly easy to locate.  They are not.  Unless, someone on your street happens to have a mulberry tree growing, which would be very convenient, locating fresh mulberries often takes serious foraging skills.  I love a challenge.

I have been on a couple of mulberry "wild goose chases", as the saying goes.  My best luck has been at farmer's markets.  So far I have discovered two fresh varieties, a dark purple and a white variety, on foraging trips to the Ojai farmer's markets.  Mulberries are highly seasonal.  In fact, they are in season now.  So if you see them - grab them while you can.

Health Benefits of Mulberries from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective:

  • Cooling thermal nature
  • Sweet flavor
  • Builds Yin fluids and blood
  • Moistens the lungs
  • Strengthens the liver and kidneys
  • Treats wind conditions
  • Benefits fluid dryness

Health Benefits of Mulberries from a Western Perspective:
  • Mulberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries have potential health effects against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
  • Mulberries contain resveratrol, another polyphenol flavonoid antioxidant.
  • Mulberries are an excellent source of vitamin-C (36.4 mg per 100, about 61% of RDI).
  • Mulberries contain small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E.
  • Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid selectively concentrates into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant functions and protects the retina from the harmful ultraviolet rays through light-filtering actions.
  • Mulberries are an excellent source of iron, which is a rare feature among berries, contain 1.85 mg/100 g of fruits (about 23% of RDI).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Acai Berry

I have a long standing love affair with berries of all sorts.  When I lived in the northwest for a few years, while finishing a degree in English literature, premier berry growing country I might add,  I was always on the look out for a new berry.  In my own backyard I grew gooseberries, purple huckleberries, red huckleberries, Tay berries (from Scotland), alpine strawberries, and blueberries along with a hedge of roses that produced a bumper crop of rose hips the size of cherry tomatoes.

I learned to forage too.  I knew exactly what time of year to go out looking for wild blackberries.  Blackberry season coincided with my daughter's birthday in mid-September and invariably her birthday cake would be decorated with the luscious hard-won delicacies.

When I travel to a new area I like to seek out farmer's markets.  The one item that I am most likely to pay more money for is - you guessed it - berries.  I am particularly susceptible to berries that I have not tried before.  On a trip to Salt Lake City I was delighted to find flats of black currants, red currants, white currants, red gooseberries, and the traditional green gooseberries.  I bought them all - and was in berry heaven.

My daughter and I like to forage together - perhaps a throw back from her childhood in Seattle - and we have sampled quite a number of elderberries along the way.  Sometimes we dry the berries and then cook them into a thick syrup to make medicine for the coming cold and flu season.  Sometimes we make fermented beverages from the berries and the flowers.  Sometimes we make jelly.

Now that I live further south I look forward to pomegranates in the autumn, and buy the rest of my berries either frozen or on occasion from local organic growers - strawberries, boysenberries, even blueberries, raspberries and the like are being cultivated here.

I like berries for breakfast.  I like berries in smoothies.  I like berries in jams and jellies.  I like berries on salads.  I like berries for dessert.

One thing I know for certain is I can't seem to get enough berry goodness.

Considering my enthusiasm for berries it surprises me that it has taken me so long to discover acai.

I certainly cannot forage for acai - nor will I find it at a local farmer's market.  Acai is a Brazilian Rainforest fruit that grows to be about the size of a grape.  Acai puree is sold here in the U.S in little frozen packets.

I found acai in the freezer section at Whole Foods market.

I have been throwing frozen acai packets into smoothies lately.  Today when I came home from the farmer's market with the first fresh strawberries of the season I decided to make a celebration acai bowl.   My celebration acai bowl contained a delicious assortment of berries - acai, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries - topped with freshly made grain-free granola.  It was heavenly.

Health benefits of acai berry

  • Acai berry, like most berries, has very good levels of anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins that have health benefiting and disease preventing properties.
  • Unlike other berries and fruits, acai has high caloric values and fats. In fact, fresh acai berry has been the dietary staple of native Amazonian for centuries.
  • Acai berry contains many polyphenolic anthocyanin compounds like resveratrol, cyanidin-3-galactoside, ferulic acid, delphinidin, petunidin as well as astringent pro-anthocyanidin tannins like epicatechin, protocatechuic acid and ellagic acid. Scientific studies suggest that these compounds contain anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties . In addition, tannins are known to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties.
  • Primary research studies suggest that ellagic acid in acai has anti-proliferative properties.
  • Acai berry is also rich in medium chain fatty acids like oleic acid (omega-9) and linoleic acid (omega-6). These compounds help reduce LDL-cholesterol level and raise good HDL-cholesterol levels in the body and thus help prevent heart disease. In addition, the essential fats help prevent skin dryness by maintaining adequate moisture in the skin.
  • Acai pulp has good levels of dietary fiber.
  • Acai berries contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium.
  • Acai are rich in B-complex vitamins and vitamin-K. They contain very good amounts of niacin, vitamin B-6 and riboflavin which function as co-factors and help the body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Macro-Nutrient Ratios

What is the perfect diet?  I have only three simple recommendations.

1 - Choose Local Food - as much as possible because it is fresh, seasonal and tastes better.

2 - Choose Real Food - real food that is traditionally grown and raised is more nourishing.

3 - Ancestral Eating - your body readily digests and assimilates what your ancestors ate.

Though I am fairly convinced that we all thrive on REAL FOOD - it is unlikely that one diet will perfectly fit everyone's individual needs.   I DO think it is important, within a REAL FOOD framework, to make macro-nutrient adjustments and individualize the diet so that it best supports your unique needs.  This usually takes a fair amount of experimentation.

For instance, I have found that if I eat fruit in the morning I generally have a blood sugar crash fairly soon.  However, if I eat the same fruit in the afternoon my energy remains stable.  This is very useful information to have as it affects the quality of my life on a daily basis.

Some people thrive on super cleansing diets such as vegan or raw vegan.  Others seem to need more nourishment, more building and restorative foods.
Macro-nutrient ratios are a fascinating subject because each of us is unique.  How much protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fats do you need in order to thrive?  What are the ratios that are just right for you?

I am still in a quandary about what is right for me.

I am convinced that about every decade or so I need to take inventory and make adjustments in my diet.  What I ate in my 20's and 30's is not what I eat today.  Yet, I was as concerned about eating healthy organic food back then as I am now.  The difference is that as I change or my condition and environment change -  my diet reflects that.

For instance, when I lived in a foreign country in the desert, where temperatures were seldom below 90 degrees, the local foods were different than what is available here in coastal California.

When it is winter my diet favors slow cooked stews, root vegetables, and warming foods.  In the summer I enjoy more fresh salads, juices, and fresh fruits.

In my 20's and 30's I ate a lot more fruit and grains than I do now because my body handled carbohydrate more efficiently back then.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuna Salad


  1. Put onions, 1/4 cup oil, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; season with pepper. Toss to combine. Let stand 10 minutes.
  2. Add tuna and its oil to onion mixture. Add lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Gently toss to combine.
  3. Fill lettuce leaves with tuna mixture and top with olives, eggs, and tuna mixture, dividing evenly. Drizzle each with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Acai And A Smoothie In A Bowl

Previously all I knew about Acai is that it was my son Brett's very favorite fruit in Brazil.  When ever Brett comes for a visit I make certain that I have plenty of little frozen acai packets on hand in the freezer.  He uses them to make smoothies.  When he is not here the frozen packets just sit there, rather forlorn and unappreciated, waiting for him to return again. 

Until this past month - when I began to spread my breakfast wings a bit and decided on the spur of the moment to toss one of those frozen purple packets into one of my smoothie concoctions.  I liked it.  It was delightful and SO VERY PURPLE!

I liked it so well that I decided to feature an acai smoothie at my latest Raw Food Class Friday night.

Right now I have a lot of fruity - delicious stuff on hand, like frozen acai packets, blueberries, banana, grain-free granola, almond milk, and strawberries,  all left-over from the raw breakfast food class.

Wondering what to do with all this deliciousness - besides making smoothies - I was delighted to come across what sounds like an amazing hybrid between a smoothie and a breakfast bowl, in fact, it sounds like a smoothie in a bowl with crunchies on top, and featuring, among other things, frozen acai, and just about every other thing I have on hand. 



  • 1 Frozen Packet of Unsweetened Açai Purée
  • 1 Medium Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Strawberries
  • 1/4 Cup Wild Blueberries
  • 2 to 4 Tablespoons of raw almond Milk
  • 6 Strawberries diced
  • A Handfull of berries (any assortment you’d like)
  • 1/2 Cup of Gluten Free Granola
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Raw Walnuts
While açai is still in packet, break the frozen purée into pieces. This will help the blending process. In a small blender, combine açai, medium banana, 1/2 cup of strawberries, wild blueberries with almond milk. Make sure to add as little almond milk as possible. You want the consistency of the açai blend to be as thick and creamy as possible. Once blended pour contents into a bowl. Top with granola, berries, hemp seeds, and walnuts.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

When A Smoothie Is Not Just For Breakfast

Friday's Class on Raw Food Breakfasts has completely re-inspired me to continue my experiment with alternative breakfast food.

For those of you who find yourself in a breakfast rut have you ever considered a raw food breakfast for a change?

Here are some of the offerings that we prepared friday night.

Antioxidant Slushi
with cherries, beets, apple, ginger

Grain-Free Granola
with cinnamon, dry cranberries, raisins, almond milk

Coconut Smoothie
with spirulina and calimyrna fig

Coconut Pecan Porridge
with sliced strawberrries

Almond Milk Smoothie
with acai and blueberries
I know what you are thinking - there are an awful lot of smoothies on the menu  - and aren't I the one (yes - self-confessed) that would be better off avoiding smoothies at breakfast all together - unless I have nothing better to do than have second breakfast that day?

Irregardless of my track record with seemingly all smoothie concoctions at breakfast time I have never completely given up hope that I will one day find a smoothie that will completely satisfy me and hold me until lunch time.

Meanwhile - who says that smoothies are only for breakfast?  I have found that a smoothie snack in between meals is delicious and satisfying.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Raw Food - How To

Those of you who have read some of my recent cautions regarding raw foods, from a traditional Chinese perspective, will be interested to hear how much I enjoy teaching about some of the important benefits of raw foods.  In my raw food classes, last night being no exception,  I show attendees how to prepare and use raw foods appropriately and healthfully.

When I teach a raw food class  - and especially knowing that the raw food movement has it zealots - in fact seems to attract zealots - I like to take a moderate approach and teach the attendees how to incorporate some of the vibrancy and freshness of raw food and raw food energy into their regular cooked food diet.

It does not matter how nutritious a food is if you can not digest or assimilate it.  Since the nutritional benefit of munching raw kale, for instance, is highly debatable,  I like to show class attendees how to prepare raw food, even kale, so that the nutrients are unlocked, become more bio-available, and most importantly are digested and assimilated easily.

Last night's raw food class was another great raw food experience.  While last weeks class focused on green food - last night, we focused on bright red and purple antioxidant rich foods such as beets, acai, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, and blueberries.  Coconut Porridge and Grain-Free Granola took top billing by-the-way.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Rain - What Does It Mean?


Least you mistakenly suppose I am referring to a weather condition, for those of you who did not read my last post, I have begun referring to my recently diagnosed damp condition as "cloudy with a chance of rain."

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, though each case is diagnosed and treated individually, as I read further on the subject of dampness I find that there are any number of common contributing factors.

One of the reasons that it is important to treat conditions of dampness in the early stages, when it is easily resolved by lifestyle modification, is to prevent the more serious diseases, cancer, MS, RA, chronic fatigue, to name a few, associated with deep-seated damp conditions, from occuring.


Dampness creates certain signs and signals in the body that are important to pay attention to.  Dampness creates symptoms of sluggishness and stagnation.  The person with a damp condition is easily tired and feels heaviness in the body.  Symptoms of dampness include weak or sluggish digestion, edema, excess mucus, tumors, cysts, parasites, yeasts such as candida, fungi, excess body weight and a thick and/or greasy tongue coating.


In the early stages a condition of dampness is easily treated with diet and specific herbs.  Along with proper dietary measures - exercise is helpful in resolving conditions of stagnation and dampness in the body.  Paul Pitchford uses the analogy of a damp cloth that does not mold if it is hung out in the circulating air.  So too, our bodies benefit from the movement and circulation of regular exercise.


Aren't there ALWAYS dietary factors in a health condition?

1 - Too much raw food such as raw fruits, vegetables, sprouts, and juices - which according to TCM extinguish the digestive fire - in fact, anything that extinguishes digestive fire - will lead to a watery dampness in the body.

2 - Foods that are highly sweet will contribute to damp conditions - such as those that suffer with candida.

3 - Poor quality fats and oils contribute to a condition of dampness - particularly an excess of poor quality dairy products.

4 - Foods that are refined and highly processed, stale, rancid, or chemically treated will contribute to a damp condition.  Just as an aside these are the foods that, in Ayurveda, another ancient healing system, are considered Tamasic.


Excepting items 2, 3, and 4 and poor quality foods in general, it is always important to remember that there are times, when raw food is appropriate - and that it is not always pathogenic.

For instance, a person who is robust and overheated will benefit from eating more raw food.  Raw food will help bring balance to their tendency and condition.  Nearly everyone finds some raw food and raw salad refreshing and appealing during the summer months.

In TCM the ideal diet will change as the individual condition changes - and the diet will change with the seasons or time of the year.  In TCM there are seldom one-size-fit all dietary guidelines, or even prohibited foods for that matter, again I am excepting GM foods, refined or highly processed foods or the plethora of faux foods to be found out there.  In TCM it is all about making balance and using food creatively and appropriately to maintain that gloriously dynamic, not static, and ever changing state of equilibrium - called HEALTH.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cloudy With A Chance Of Rain - Going Against The Grain

As many of you who follow my blog know - Dr. Pendleberry, my Doctor of Oriental medicine - is currently treating me for a damp condition.  What I humorously refer to as "cloudy with a chance of rain." When Dr. Pendleberry refers to my damp condition he is not talking about the weather here in Southern California or the vagaries of the external environment that we are all subject to -  instead, he is referring to an internal disequilibrium or disharmony which in TCM is called dampness.   Interestingly the appellation for the internal condition in TCM - wind, heat, cold, dry, damp and summer heat - all sound similar to weather conditions.

In Chinese Medicine, internal dampness is reputed to lead to conditions such as high cholesterol, cancer, cysts, tumors, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, and environmental illness.  If a damp condition is cleared up - all damp excesses such as water retention, excess weight, cysts, tumors, and yeasts such as candida are eliminated.   In TCM there is always an interested emotional component to healing.  In the case of damp conditions - the corresponding emotions of anxiety and worry would also be resolved.

To treat my damp condition Dr. Pendleberry has recommends a two prong approach - herbs and dietary modification.

The diet that he recommends for my condition includes high quality protein, high quality fat, and vegetables.  In case you did not notice - these dietary recommendations are conspicuously dairy and grain-free.  Dr. Pendleberry said both dairy and grain consumption lead to dampness - perhaps that is  how I got here in the first place?

Dr. Pendleberry said there are essential fatty acids and essential amino acids in human nutrition - but there are no essential carbohydrates.  That is strong medicine for someone like me to hear.

I momentarily dug into Paul Pitchford's tome "Healing With Whole Foods" to get a grasp of foods recommended for treating a damp condition and found the foods that help dry dampness are often bitter and/or aromatic.  Foods such as dandelion, romaine lettuce, celery, turnip, pumpkin and chamomile all help dry dampness.

Just as an aside - while surfing the web - I came across some thought provoking information on grains and CFS.

In Bill Giles book ‘No More Chronic Fatigue’ he states

“Many health professionals are unaware of the defense chemicals in grains called lectin proteins, which can cause disruption  to our immune systems.  Plant physiologists say that lectins are involved with plant defense against viruses bacteria, fungi and sometimes to animals that eats them (including humans).  When people eat grains, their immune systems are challenged and, if chronically ill, they will have poorer than normal ability of recovering their normal immune strength and good health if they continue to eat grain foods.” 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stir-Fry On The Fly

The vegetable bins were fairly depleted this morning - as today is my designated shopping day.  When the vegetable bins are depleted and you are me - the great vegetable breakfast eater -  what do you do?

I scrounged around and found an odd assortment of things - some fresh ginger, some organic romaine lettuce just beginning to wilt, and one chive blossom harvested from the terracotta pot on my deck.

That did not stop me.

I sauteed the ginger in coconut oil until fragrant - then stirred in rough cut romaine and swirled it around until nice and wilted but still retaining some of the crunch.  I removed the stir-fry from the heat - and quickly mixed in a sauce of gluten-free tamari, rice wine, and coconut sugar.

I served my improvisational stir-fry in a favorite porcelain bowl with tiny purple chive blossoms sprinkled on top. along with a small piece of fish left over from yesterday.

Voila!  Breakfast.

So perhaps necessity really is the mother of invention.