Thursday, December 31, 2009

Raw Adventure Day 3: Salem and New Year's Eve!

First off, Happy New Year again to everyone! We've spent another wonderful day in Salem, strolling the streets, visiting little shops some more, walking to Pickering Wharf, checking out the House of Seven Gables, and visiting America's oldest commercial candy shop, 'Ye Olde Pepper Companie'.

Apparently, the first candy ever commercially sold in the States in 1806 were called Gibralters (because they were rock hard like the rocks in the straight of Gibraltar??) Made of Molasses and flavored either with lemon or peppermint oil, they were a hard candy that never went bad and had a dinner mint-like texture. Though we won't be eating them, we bought some as souvenirs for the people in our lives who still eat candy :) All the other old-style candies they sold there were also pretty much variations on the Gibralter, aka. sugar, molasses, starch, cream of tartar... I guess they didn't have much to work with in the New World.

Nowadays, the candy shop makes all sorts of things from fudge, chocolate covered gummy bears, licorice, chocolate turtles, truffles, and more. Despite being on a raw diet, I'm still a die-hard foodie, so I still really enjoyed and visually appreciated all the pretty and/or yummy goodies they had on display. I think it actually adds something to my life to be able to appreciate something for what it's worth (the craft, the visual appeal, etc. of a food) without having the need or the desire to eat it (especially knowing that it would probably make me sick or would not be beneficial to my health in the least). It's like food enlightenment in some ways.

Anyway, it's getting pretty late so we'll be off to our Masquerade. But for a quick recap of the lack of raw food we can find around here:

After doing yogadownload's 20 Minutes of Power Yoga to start my day (which surprisingly kicked my ass... I guess I should seriously be doing more yoga), we started with breakfast at the b&b around 9:30am where the only thing we could have were slices of melon (though still wonderful!). We also had a glass of orange juice which was a MISTAKE because I could instantly tell that it was packed with sugar (and hopefully not high fructose corn syrup) and other nasties.

Later on in the morning (around 11am-noon) we snacked on some of the raw foods that I brought along that I've already mentioned. Around 2pm, we cracked and stopped by the Gulu Gulu again where we had a big mixed greens salad with cranberries and golden raisins. Andrew had a bowl of vegan chili, and we shared a glass of warm apple cider.

For our 4 o'clock snack, we finally ate one of those raw hemp brownies from Grezzo. It was SO delicious, but filled me up so much I've needed little since. I did have some sprouts, cucumber slices, and a kiwi later on. But off we go! Goodbye 2009! Thanks for all the amazing times! Up next: resolutions for the new year as we head back down to DC!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Raw Adventure Day 2: Salem (and more Grezzo's)

Yet another thing I appreciate about the raw diet is the quality of sleep I now get because of it. Before, I used to have to sleep 9-10 (maybe more) hours, had to drag myself out of bed because of the sound of my alarm clock, and not really wake up 'til breakfast or a shower. Now, without any obnoxious beeping and with usually only 7-8 hours, I can get up perfectly fine on my own and feel amazing. So after the rough morning we had yesterday after only about 5 hours of sleep, I got 8 and I'm as good as new.

After getting out of our comfy king size bed, we went to the Radisson hotel's gym where I did some warm-up cardio on the treadmill (which I swear was stuck on an incline), an ab routine (4 x4 sets of 12 repetitions to target different ab areas + 2 minutes of plank + 1 minute of side planks), and 3 sets of 12 of chest, shoulders, backs, biceps, and triceps. I had to cram a lot in today only because we probably won't find a gym for the next couple days.

Then, we packed up and went for our second raw food adventure at Grezzo around 11am. I have to repeat before anything else that it's SO cold in Boston... I don't know how I'm going to survive Canada again when we move back... I don't even know how I did it for 4 years before moving back down to DC.

We started off with a green juice (which went through a Vitamix, not a juicer, since their's was broken... isn't having a broken juicer at a raw restaurant like having no rice at sushi place? and yes, my sister and I couldn't get to our favourite sushi place once because of that...). It was a mix of celery, ginger, garlic, cucumber, and some leafy green. Great way to start the day!

Had just enough time to digest that, before they brought out our BLTA with sweet potato chips and their 'pepperoni' pizzetta (which had watermelon radish as the pepperoni, yet another vegetable I had never even heard of... love discovering new foods!). I loved the creaminess of whatever they used as cheese on their pizzetta, I could swear it was real cream cheese. I also think you can never go wrong with raw wraps given my love for avocados, and this one definitely justified my belief! Another triple yum for Grezzo!

On the way out, we picked up two hemp brownies and a super chocolate cookie (super because it has blue-algae and other delicious superfoods) which we have yet to eat.

After another frosty walk, we were on our way to Salem. I haven't been there since my 11th grade class trip, but my love for Renaissance-styled costumes, quaint New England towns and houses, and old lore made it an absolute necessity for me to show Andrew. Salem definitely does not disappoint.

After I took a wrong turn, taking us pretty much to the exact opposite of town we should have been heading towards, we made it to the Salem Inn, where we dropped off our heavy heavy bags and immediately headed back out to discover (or re-discover) the town. Before heading out, at around 2pm, I snacked on a couple apricots and pieces of ginger, one of my nopal-chia-chili bars, and some more vegan chocolate.

Our love for architecture is making this trip so worthwhile. We walked
down Essex St. and stopped in all the little shops selling everything from chintzy 'witch souvenirs' to beautiful artisan crafts. We bought two little fairy houses which I intend to put into my wheatgrass planter until we get a garden (photos to come!) and I found little tartlet pans with removable bottoms which will be perfect for me-sized raw pies and treats + they'll fit in my dehydrator since I have the round model which is much trickier than the shelf kind (one day I will upgrade from the one I currently have!)

Obviously what draws most tourists to Salem is its history of witch trials. I've always been fascinated by why people have so vividly chosen to remember a crazy community of puritans who hung 20 people 300 years ago after falsely accusing them of being witches. When so many awful things have happened over the course of history, why the focus on the small town of Salem? I realize though, that humans are inherently irrational, and our interest in these witch trials are our way of trying to deal with our own personal and social insanity. Peer pressure, zealotry, fear of others, and a closed mindset are what led to the ultimate death of 20 innocent men and women who would not confess to being something they were not. It's a terrible story that actually makes me sick to my stomach when I think of the horrors that people have been and are still able to commit on absolutely no reasonable basis.

Coming to Salem was in part more than just a fun tourist trip for us. I knew that we were also coming here to pay respect to these 20 people and every other injustice like the ones they suffered, be they the prejudices put upon innocent people, the fear and suspicion (and incredible misinformation) that pagans have to face from others every single day, etc.

Once it started getting dark, we headed back to the Inn, but stopped by the Gulu Gulu for dinner. As I mentioned, very little choice for organic raw food in Salem, so we opted for their one vegan option on this cold night: a deliciously warm potato leek soup, as well as a veggie hummus platter sans pita.

We picked up our tickets for tomorrow evening before leaving. We'll also be spending the transition to the New Year at the Gulu Gulu for their Masquerade Ball (though I fear the cold in our costumes). Oh well, I'm a girl, freezing for fashion is part of what we do... Now back at the inn and in front of a warm fireplace, I'm ready to go to sleep to wake up for a kick-ass last day of 2009.

On that note, I really enjoyed Susan Power's post on her Rawmazing blog on establishing key principles to live by during the new year. I intend on doing this too, and have been putting together a mental list which I'll share with you come the New Year... there is so much I plan on doing, and a million ways I plan on growing! Happy New Year to all of you, and stay healthy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Raw Adventure #2: Boston!

So as part of my New Year's resolutions (which I'm starting early), I've decided to start blogging more frequently (for real this time!) More specifically, we're currently on our end of 2009 trip to Massachusetts, more specifically to Boston and the awesome town of Salem. The not so great part? Having to wake up at 6am and being on the bus for 8 hours... I don't think my body knows what to do with itself when it sits for that long. Anyhoo, that was lots of time to catch up on some raw food reading, I've been reading up on the amazingly fit and talented Tonya Kay's diet and workouts, and watched a raw documentary called "Raw for Life: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of the Raw Food Lifestyle" I randomly found online.

I think David Wolfe (who was in it) looks like such an awesome guy to know. He just seems so holistically happy and positive. Every time I've seen or heard him interviewed he seems to bouncy and excited and lives life with the wonderment you only ever see in a child. I want to live with that kind of awe my whole life too. That's what I love about everyone I've met who has also adopted a raw food diet, they seem so much more grounded than people in the standard world, so much more in tune with others and everything around them.

But more about our trip: We started our day at 6am. Don't like to eat early, so just headed out. We left our apartment much to the dismay of our kitty who spend all night sleeping on our backpacks to let us know he wasn't so cool with the idea of being ditched again... it's too cute. Shared an orange about 9:30am on the bus, then had an apple around 10:30am. I got hungry around noon so had a slice of dehydrated papaya, a dried apricot, and a couple pieces of ginger (which we bought at High Vibe in NY last week). Yum. Got to NY and had to feed Andrew whose muscle mass makes him need to eat about 3 times as much as I do... With only one hour between buses we were lucky to find the Loving Huton 7th Ave. (near 30th St.?), which serves 100% vegan non-MSG food! Good find! Like most places in NY, the setting was pretty sterile and the place tiny, but the food was just what we needed. I also loved that they had subtle yet powerful vegan propaganda at their counter.

We started out with steamed (not so raw, I know) edamame:

I then had an awesome seaweed salad with ginger dressing, while Andrew had a protein salad (with barley and mock chicken).

Got back on the bus to Boston where we snacked on a couple pieces of the best vegan chocolate ever (will remember its name later). Andrew had a slice of my raw banana bread and of my raw nopal-chia-chili bar inspired by a bar also recently bought in NY (will also post recipe when we get back).

Then, we headed up to the North End of a Boston for a trip to Grezzo ('raw' in Italian) run by the Goddess of all Raw Food Restaurant Restaurateurs in Boston: Alissa Cohen. Oh... My... Raw.. God.

If restaurants could get more than 5 stars, it would get one hundred and fifty six. It epitomized raw food in all its glory. I can't even begin to describe. One of the most appealing things about Grezzo's is their absolutely beautiful platage (which I hope I have captured in these photos). What you see really does add to what you taste.

We started off with the Grezzo Sliders that were recommended to us by a friendly Bostonian we met at Quintessence in NY last week (thank you Sarah!):

We then shared a plate of Raw Gnocchi in a 'Carbonara' Sauce with English peas and sprouts.

And the orgasm of culinary orgasms: teriyaki papaya steak (made to have the texture of salmon) with zucchini-carrot fettucini and a tower of radishes and pickled cucumbers.

To finish off, we couldn't help but get dessert, which was an apple pie pave with clove raw ice cream and lucuma caramel (cloves + ice cream = yum) and a raw sundae (a to die for denseness of raw brownie goodness, raw vanilla ice cream, shaved brazil nuts, and raw chocolate sauce.)

Oh ya, and Andrew had raw nog too, which I only had the chance to photograph post-first sip (it came to us very pretty with a ball of vanilla ice cream in the middle + those pretty Brazil Nut shavings).

Got back to the Radisson (our hotel), and went for a workout after too little digestion time (for me anyway). Attempted 20 minutes of intervals on the treadmill and stretching, which went only moderately well because of too much food too soon. Oh well. At least I got to DO something today. My body really wanted to RUN!

All in all, Grezzo's was by far the most satisfying raw food experience I've had as of yet. We're going to go back tomorrow for lunch when I think I'll also pick up Alissa Cohen's book before we head off to Salem (which seems rather raw food deplete... good thing I've packed enough organic fruits and home-made bars to last us 2 days, just in case!). Join me tomorrow for more of my New England culinary adventures!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Best Deal!

So I've gotten totally lazy about posting despite the amazing food I've been eating recently, including my first raw food trip to NY where we spent our life savings at Quintessence and High Vibe (who has the friendlist and awesomest staff). The holidays have been amazing (and presents included a Vitamix from my amazing mom!) I have so much to say, but the laziness lingers. In the meantime, check out this amazing deal offered over at Chocolate-covered Katie's blog.

To make Decembers as awesome as mine was, I suggest everyone do something holiday-festive every week. That's what we did and it was so worthwhile this included:

1) Going to see the Nutcracker ballet twice (I felt like a five year old again, it was awesome), once with the Washington Ballet (whose Arabian Dance was literally ballet sex... it was beautiful and amazing) and the one by the Pennsylvania Ballet at the Kennedy Center (whose Pas de Deux, both the choreography and the music practically brought me to ecstatic tears of beauty)

2) Decorating our and my parents house really pretty for both Christmas and both Christmas & Yule for us, including burning advent candles after making our own advent wreath every Sunday

3) Going to Christmas markets and checking out the Christmas lights in both NY and Old Town Alexandria, VA

4) going caroling and listening to Christmas concerts wherever you can find them!

5) Checking out the National Zoo Lights

and so much more...

As I mentioned, we got a Vitamix from my mom for Christmas which is the coolest thing ever. I feel like my raw food life is going to be revolutionized by this wonderful new toy.

I'm also really psyched about starting ballet classes again in January. I want to keep working on my ATS/Tribal Fusion on my own time but really want to start taking dance classes again. After seeing the Nutcracker and generally wanting some form of greater 'structure' to my dance, I thought I would give ballet a shot again after stopping when I was a kid.

Next up, a New Year's trip to Boston and Salem (the prettiest and niftiest town EVER)! Can't wait. Happy Holidays to everyone and all the best for the coming year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Can I really chase the turkey?

Like most raw foodists, I've grown a little wary of family get-togethers because of my diet. They have ranged from going perfectly fine (I love you mom!), to the offensive (the French genes in my family just don't understand anything but their own superior culinary ways and feel very threatened by the very notion of anything outside of the norm), to the plain confused ("so why exactly do you put yourself through this?"). My first raw Thanksgiving is most likely to be of little exception.
Thankfully, with a really big family, Thanksgiving dinners bring together anywhere between 15 to 30 people, and the number of vegetarians/vegans/dabblers has always been a small but steady constant. I know for a fact that there will be an abundance of salads and fruits for me to eat, and I'll also be bringing a raw vegan chocolate pecan pie. Apparently, Tofurky will even be making an appearance at this year's Thanksgiving (something I used to love, but now probably won't register as food for it's very processed appearance)… it still makes me really happy for the vegans though!
Generally though, I've been extremely fortunate to have an extremely open-minded and multi-cultural family so adding another strange dish or two to our Thanksgiving meal, whether it's Chinese food, or a vegan, vegetarian, and now raw dish, has never been perceived as being a big deal. That's what I'm giving thanks to this week!

But, my biggest fear for tomorrow? My first 10k run, my local YMCA's Annual Turkey Chase. My dad has been running it for as long as I can remember (he's one of those crazy hardcore joggers, who even ran it last year only 3 months after heart bypass surgery… yep, he's a champion!), but this will be my first time. I've done the Y's little 2 miles run/walk/jog a couple times, but I'm in the big leagues now.

The definite bonus is that I get to run it with my dad and that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside… One the things I already love most about summer is being able to our morning 2k swim in France. This time though, I'm just really scared on how well I'll perform. I know it's for fun, but I have this "raw food makes you healthier than normal people" reputation to uphold so I don't want to faint or anything… Well, and I also have a big ego, I guess. I guess I'll have to focus on the experience of jogging with my dad, the accomplishment of finishing the race, that it's only about one hour or my long and healthy life, and that when I'm done my mom will reward me with a green smoothie from her brand new Vitamix (my mom is a closet crunchie I tell you!). That should keep me going!

Wish me luck and Happy Thanksgiving no matter what your lifestyle/diet choice is! Feast away!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sexy Fruit?

Who says raw food ever gets boring? At our most recent trip to Mom's (still the BEST grocery store ever), Andrew and I fell upon one of the strangest fruits we've ever seen. Of course as is his lovable habit, Andrew had to buy it for novelty's sake. Once we took it home, it became something of our pet for the next few days. What was it you ask? It was a Monstera Deliciosa aka. the 'Delicious Monster'.

Hailing from Glaser Farms in South Florida (not so local, I know...), our little monster is actually a native fruit of Mexico and Guatemala. He's a tropical fruit grown on a very large leafed philodendron, and likes hot and humid areas. Okay, I know fruits don't have a sex, but really, just look at it. I'll call him a 'he' if I want to.

Like most of my raw diet now, I couldn't eat this lovely fruit immediately but had to wait for something to happen to him. Usually, I have to wait a couple days because of dehydrating, sprouting, etc. but this time, I had to wait until our fruit decided of his own free will that it was ready for our consumption. In other words, the directions that came with it (yes, this fruit actually came with instructions) said that you had to stick it in a cup and pretty much wait for the fruit to peel itself. What?!

Yep, the fruit can only be eaten once its mature and ripe, when the outer green skin you see in the picture falls in pieces of its own accord. As it peels, the fruit exposes its fleshy white inside, that you can cut just like a banana. The center of the fruit actually has a core that's very much like a tiny version of a pineapple core (it's too hard to eat). But wait we did, and here was the process:

Its taste was familiar yet foreign to me. It kinda tasted like some form of tropical asian fruit, a cross between a banana, a pineapple, and maybe dragonfruit or jackfruit but with the texture of lychees and the shape of a corn kernels... weird no? That's probably a terrible description and this Delicious Monster really should be able to stand on its own for overall coolest looking fruit and most bizarre taste and texture combination, but that's my take on it.

If ever you see one in a grocery, definitely pick it up for the novelty! You will miss him once he's gone though. I kind of liked having him sit on our kitchen table until he decided to reveal himself to us.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

PMS = Please Make Soup

I've mentioned before that as a thirteen year old, I was one of those girls who dreaded 'that time of the month' because to me that meant a couple days of writhing in pain, barely able to stand, hating every minute of it, and wondering 'why why why wasn't I born a boy' (okay, the last one is a total lie). But ever since I start going to the chiropractor, and then adopting vegan and now a raw diet, those symptoms have gone *poof*... really, sometimes I even forget it's even that time when I'm in the middle of it! It's been life changing.

Nevertheless, I still feel some side-effects of the whole moon cycle process usually meaning I have this desire to stay at home and nest... aka. spend more time in the kitchen. However, I also usually totally lose my appetite and revert to just wanting liquids. I understand though, that's it's particularly important right now to get lots of iron, to get my B12, and to keep eating despite how full I always feel. Breaking with the usual rawness of my life, I usually opt for this yummy soup that is not only high in all the nutrient I particularly need right now, but also super tasty:
PMS Soup

1 tsp unpasteurized miso
1/2 tsp spirulina powder
couple handfuls of chopped up spinach
a bunch of enoki mushrooms or some miso soup-type mushroom
sliced up ginger (optional)

Directions: pour hot water (I just use my kettle) into bowl with miso paste and stir til the miso breaks down (I know I'd make Japanese people cry for my lack of miso soup making respect...). Throw in all the rest of the ingredients. It's not super tasty but it has everything in it to make you feel before so drink up!

It's that simple, it's that quick, and it makes you feel that much better! I'm sure you could make a totally raw version, but especially right now, this pretty much is, and I appreciate the warmth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shout out to Oregon and Raw Food

After having gone to yesterday's Senate Finance Committee Hearing on the nominations of two new USTR ambassadors (Mr. Siddiqui and Mr. Punke), today's shout out goes to Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon who seems to be one of the only people running the government who understands that "sustainable agriculture" means organic agriculture and not the development of biotechnology. Having spent increasingly more time in the halls of Washington, I've been amazed (and mostly disillusioned) at how many people think "sustainability" means feeding the world and increasing yields through more robust usage of Genetic Modification. And Siddiqui is definitely one of those people.

How Siddiqui was nominated to the post of Chief Agricultural Trade Representative at the office of the USTR, I don't even know. Considering his current vice-presidency at Croplife America, the country's biggest agrochemical industry trade group, I don't know how you could even begin think of this man when you hear the world 'agriculture'. Surely his massive donations to the Obama campaign has nothing to do with his nomination... or is that just me and my wishful thinking again? At least there's been some serious backlash against his nomination (backlash you can contribute to I might add, if you just click here to sign a petition against his nomination. Thanks as always OCA!).

But dwelling on the positive, it was so refreshing to have someone (aka. Senator Wyden) from the current government saying that not only was he personally interested in using truly environmentally-friendly and sustainable solutions to increase trade and deal with climate change, but that he was also raising these questions for Mr. Siddiqui in response to demands made by his constituents. Sen. Wyden gets democracy. He gets the growing problems in our current agricultural system, and he actually wants to do something about it!... Unfortunately, and even though we call ourselves a democracy, that's rare. So, thank Senator Wyden, and thank you everyone in Oregon who elected this guy!

Speaking of doing good things for the environment: the raw food diet! I still wanted to end today on a happy note, so along with my new found love for Oregon, I want to share what I've been eating with you. Like a million other raw blogs point out, we don't just eat salad and drink green juices (though I do love those!). Here's what really goes on in my kitchen:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Loving your body means listening to your body

Thank you Gina for your amazing post today for what I didn't even know was National Love Your Body Day! For those of you who are too busy and/or lazy to click on that link, here are the two main take-aways from that article I think everyone including myself should listen to:

1) "Our bodies are always talking to us and it's up to us to actually stop and listen to what they're saying."

I totally agree with this and I think that this is the most important thing of all. We think we know our bodies but half the time we are too busy listening to our egos to figure out what are physical bodies are actually asking for. Most people ask me why I went vegan, and even more people ask me why I went raw... the honest answer is, my body told me to. There's nothing more to it than that. I just woke up one morning and knew that's what I had to do. It was only after I became vegan and more recently raw that I looked into all the additional environmental/health/ethical/physical perks I was getting for making those choices.

It's also much more than that, listen to your body and it will tell you when it's actually hungry and more often when it's thirsty. It will tell you want nutrients you may be lacking that will draw you towards certain foods (heavier foods vs. fruits, veggies versus protein, etc.) Your body knows! Listen!

2) "Not only do we need to be grateful for all the physical beauty we each possess, but also take the time to care fo the one body we have."

More so than loving every body type the human form is capable of creating (because I will stand by belief that if you love yourself, you should not nor cannot let yourself have an unhealthy body), it really is about taking care of yourself and as Gina said, "loving" by "nurturing". You should love yourself, and that doesn't mean doing whatever the hell you want because you love yourself, but taking care of that one body you have.

I'm going to go all metaphysical on you again, but we only have one body, it was given to us by whatever chance/universe/religious entity you choose to believe in. Whatever way you choose to look at it, at the end of the day we each got this incredible gift. When you receive something, you don't just trash it right? You keep it safe, you want it to be as beautiful/functional for as long as possible, and you can achieve that by doing something very basic: loving yourself through personal respect and care. 

How to achieve those things is simple for me:
1) Eat right
2) Exercise
3) Pursue hobbies/activities that keep you spiritually/emotionally at peace (whether that's spending time with your friends and family, practicing yoga/meditation, dancing, drawing, going out clubbing, whatever...) 

It took me a while to fully understand that, I don't fully grasp it yet but I'm trying. Everyone is on their own journey and we each take a different amount of time to understand and realize certain things and that's totally fine. But still, however you want to do it, everyone should take the time to stop and just be. And whoever or whatever you find you are in those moments you take for yourself, be happy that's what you are right now because that's where you are, and it's part of the steps of who you get to be tomorrow.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

DC Green Festival

We just got back from the DC Green Festival and boy did we have an awesome day! I woke up so giddy to go this morning I felt like a five year old on Christmas or a kid in a candy store (a raw organic candy store that is!) Ready to stock up on food, energy and life awesomeness, we set out early in the morning to get there as early as possible. We got in pretty fast thanks to complimentary tickets I won from a VegNews giveaway (they're awesome because they now have online subscriptions to stop killing trees! Gotta love companies who walk the walk...)

First stop was Pangea Organics of course. The mother of all organic care products. If you start a Pangea regime, you will honestly not know what hit you. My mom taught me early on that your skin is your biggest organ so you should take care of it. Moisturize every day and what not, but the other steps (exfoliating, cleansing, weekly masks, etc.) are just as important to keep you radiant and glowing. Plus, if you wear organic because you are trying to avoid eating
chemicals/pesticides/etc. think of what youare doing when you buy cheap beauty products! There's a reason women constantly try to defy aging with creams and lotions that don't work... because they're full of stuff, and they should have been taking care of their skin at a younger age! (which would explain why my mom is almost 60 and has skin better than half the girls my age I see walking around...)

We then stopped at this awesome and strange acrobatics looking device called an OmGym. After playing on it for a while and getting the BEST back stretches and adjustment of our lives (except for from our awesome Canadian chiropractor)... we splurged on one and now have to figure out where in the world we can use this thing (outside obviously, but it'll get cold soon!). Plus, they are really fun and I got to feel like a kid on monkey bars again (which I always loved most!) I want to go back tomorrow just so I can play with it some more...

Next stop, the hemp pavilion to stock up on all our discounted hemp protein powder, seeds, oils for the year (damn these laws against growing hemp in the States, it's makes everything so expensive!). We tried some raw chia and hemp breakfast goodness from Ruth's (her ginger cranberry has always been my favourite), bought a 6 pack of her hemp protein powder, and got to catch up with the awesome folks from Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap (fair trade AND organic!) who I got to spend wonderful times with in Mexico this summer. Nutiva was also there with a sampling of their hemp products, but had a lot of their raw products as well (like their coconut butter).
Onto the raw foods! There were a good number of stands out there for a little growing movement. Natural Zing was there of course from whom I bought my lunch (the best kale chips ever and raw nori seaweed/wasabi sticks that I can never get enough of), and a couple of Lydia's Organics raw cereals (her Berry Good and Grainless Apple, though her Vanilla Crunch is my new favourite). The people from Natural Zing were probably my favourite. They were super helpful and very knowledgeable, which would probably explain why there were so many people at their stand. Green Living Harmony was also there again; they sampling raw goji berries and the BEST raw chocolate paste ever (pretty much pure cacao butter and cacao powder so if you don't like non-sweetened chocolate this isn't for you, but YUM).

Don't want to give you an inventory of my grocery list, but I will anyway because I'm super excited: we also ended up getting an amazing deal for 5lbs of raw mesquite powder form Ultimate Superfoods, a couple (not raw) Green superfood mixes from Amazing Grass, and the yummiest raw honey from Really Raw Honey (the top layer of honey when you upon a new jar is to die for).

The best surprise of my day was a company called Emmy's Organics that I hadn't heard of before, who came in to save the day when my newly developed sweet tooth kicked in. (Yes, ironic that eating raw foods has magnified my desire for sweet foods... it's almost as if all high sugar conventional foods were actually putting me off the whole dessert thing). Everything they make is obviously organic, but also raw, vegan, and gluten-free. They're based out of Ithaca, NY, and the girls there were really fun to talk to. We ended up spending our few remaining dollars on a selection of their macaroons (choco-organic, lime-ginger, and chai), though I was really eyeing their raw chocolate sauce...

Of course we also got to talk to lots of people from everything from intentional communities, to rain barrels, to organic tulip bulbs (oh ya, I also bought five of those from Eco Tulips, because apparently it's time to plant them and I love tulips in the springtime).

We may go back tomorrow, though I want to hit the organic Farmer's Market, pick up some bulk raw foods to make this piece of culinary eye candy. In the meantime, be green!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall means it's time for pumpkin!

So I know most of you are probably thinking "bla bla bla, enough with the philosophy and organic brainwashing, where's the food?"... and I totally understand, so here I go shaking off my foodie laziness to blog about food again. It's fall so that means it's time to experiment with yummy pumpkins and squash again! There's something that really excites me about this particular change of season.

One thing I've realized about raw 'cooking' is that you really don't have to pay attention to measurement as much as much as when you are doing something as chemically complex as baking. If you have a problem with a raw recipe you can always tweak it a bit and there is only so wrong you can go. Given my first post, it would seem raw food is perfectly suited to the way I cook anyway! Here's my latest creation and it's unfortunately not 100% raw. I still haven't fully figured out how to manage using squash/pumpkins without steaming them first (and it's fall so I can't go without my pumpkins!). Measurements were not really paid attention to as usual...

Almost-Raw Pumpkin Spice cupcakes

1 cup of ground nuts (I used pecans & almonds)
pumpkin spices to taste (cinnamon, allspice, n
utmeg, cloves, ginger)
sea salt to taste
dried fruit (I used
hunza raisins, thomson raisins, and cranberries)
about 1 C of kabocha puree (or any sweet squash/pumpkin)
3-4 tbsp maple syrup
crumbled raw chocolate (optional)
Mix everything but dried fruit and chocolate chips until smooth like a thick batter. Fold in fruits and chocolate. Mix everything! Spoon into cupcake liners. Place in dehydrator for 14-18 hours at 115.

Makes about 10 small cupcakes.

I topped them with candied nuts loosely based on this recipe. Next time, I think I'll crumble the nuts before coating them because they just fell off the cupcakes. I'll also soak the nuts first for nutritional value but I was lazy this time. There you go! Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why I'm thankful

When people go to workshops, be they dance or otherwise, we have a certain conception of what to expect, and what we want to get out of the experience. We tend to want to "get out money's worth" or get the most bang for out buck. For dance anyway, we've become stuck in this paradigm that we need to learn lots of new combinations and dance moves, master a new choreography, and/or feel the burn by having a crazy intense workout with everything from yoga, warm-ups, drills, isolations, ab work, leg work, arm work, chest work... the list goes on and out need to achieve never ends. This weekend that paradigm shifted when I attended a two-day Rachel Brice workshop hosted by Sahara Dance Studio right here in DC.

Like 99.9% of the tribal dance community, Rachel is something of my dance hero (read: total girl crush). After seeing tribal for the first time ever in Canada, my second exposure to the style was through her Tribal Fusion: Yoga Isolation & Drills DVD. Her performances blew my mind (and still do). The liquidity and strength of her movements made my jaw drop, and I knew I wanted to dance just like her. She displays beauty, grace, strength, femininity, confidence, attitude... everything I ever strove to be and display as a dancer.
For a little over two years now, when I dance, I've been putting my heart and soul into tribal. To me, dancing is an extremely personal activity. When I dance, I feel as though I'm putting myself out there for all to see in a way nothing else can even begin to compare. When I speak I can lie, but when I dance, I don't feel like I can. In moving, in expressing myself with my body, I'm showing people who I am at my core. I feel bare. There is no hiding... not to me anyway.
(sidenote: It's funny that I noticed that the only other instance in which I've ever said that is about food and cooking. I can't remember who said that you can't lie when you cook. When you present a dish to someone, it's the honest truth of what you made and you can't hide that no matter what you try do. I guess that's why I love dancing and cooking so much... something about the honesty behind it?)
Anyway, because of my search for honesty through dance, because I'm a girl and therefore tend to do my share of over-analyzing and over-thinking, because I consider myself to be more on the shy/introverted side, dancing is an extremely introspective process for me. Dancing is my version of meditation. Showing ANYONE how I dance has always made me extremely self-conscious (surprising that I mostly perform/dance in very public spaces then...). My inner monologue usually goes something like this: "Am I doing this right? Does this look good? What will people think? Do I look fat? Everyone's going to hate me and think I'm [insert one of a hundred negative words here]." From something wonderful and beautiful, a part of my mind choses to see things in such a self-destructive way and magnify it so I can obsess about before, during, and after I dance unless I tell it to shut up (I have gotten way better at this). This comes to me as a huge surprise considering I consider myself a fairly mentally and emotionally stable and self-loving person, but that's me.

Now almost 3 or 4 years later of dancing tribal, of loving every minute of it, of finally finding myself through a dance form I feel is 'so me', I still struggle with not letting my inner demons make me hate or be super self-conscious of how I move. What better timing for a dance workshop with the one and only Rachel Brice? So here I am at Rachel's workshop (if you'd told me I'd be standing here when I started tribal, I would have never believed you). One of the first things she confesses to us is that you can't get rid of those inner voices, those crazy monkeys, or whatever you want to call them. Instead you just have to learn how to work with them. You have to learn to love, live with, and ultimately express those inner demons until you can release them.
I won't go into detail, but Saturday was the first time Rachel taught an improv class that was more about what's in our heads when we dance than about actual 'practice' and drilling. She shared a number of her own personal philosophies with us, told us about some of the people who inspire her and how, made us share some of our own impressions with each other about how we feel when we dance, and made us face our mental processes by playing a lot of very entertaining improv games. After a mere three hours, I feel as though I reached a whole new level of consciousness. There didn't need to be any fancy teachings or crazy dance moves, just Rachel Brice being honest, and making us deal and accept ourselves for who we are.

Going back to what I said earlier and given what Rachel had to teach, I really had to face my own reality. I'm too self-critical. I'm too self-defeating. I have to accept that there is no point in getting bogged down by 'I have to's, expectations, self-criticism, or a constant need to progress/outshine/outdo other dancers or myself. I'm simply here to dance and appreciate the level that I'm at right now. I need to live in the knowledge that I'm getting better but also be happy at the stage I am now because it's part of my journey. I want to love what I do and have fun with it rather than make up some awesome technical performance... besides, a dancer always looks more beautiful when you can tell they love what they do than when they ace a choreography.

Above all though, the most important thing I learned this weekend actually came from another workshop attendee, Kestral. During one exercise, we had to dance with our eyes closed and observe what we were thinking while dancing. During those few minutes, Kestral noticed a guy standing outside our studio. He was just watching us with this strange look of absolute delight on his face (I noticed him too because it WAS a very funny facial expression). When she noticed the guy, this woman could have chosen to become self-conscious about him watching us, wondering why he was there/what his intention was, was he making fun of us in his head, was he a creep, etc. but I absolutely love that she didn't think any of those things for a second. Instead, she just saw how happy he looked, and told us: "I want to instill the sense of enchantment I see on people faces when we dance IN MYSELF."

That hit me like a bullet.

As dancers, we're so focused on the outside/our audience 99.9% of the time that we forget about ourselves. After an awesome weekend, I want to thank Rachel and thank Kestral for their insight and everything they taught me with so few words but such open hearts. I came away from these two days with a renewed sense of purpose for why I dance, and heck, why I am. This was by far my most rewarding workshop. I didn't have to experience some hardcore workout. I didn't have to learn a billion moves, but I was guided by one of my dance hero's who taught me to look into myself and appreciate, love, and honour what's there.