the health elf

my my, it has been a long time since i posted here! that is not because i lost track, or even interest, but because i was merely running along side the raw-foodie's cart. granted, i picked up turnips and chard as it tumbled off...
i have had another an eye-opening period on my raw journey which has shifted my understanding about my eating habits- for the better. let me explain: last year, i was told to drastically change the way i eat. for health reasons, i was told to quit eating grains (sans quinoa, thank godzilla,) limit my soy intake (sans tempeh- wheeew,) reduce and eventually stop eating all dairy and fermented foods, and to omit the sugary rainbow- that being anything from white sugar to sweet veggies/fruits.
holy cow!
so literally overnight- i did much of that. bye bye grains. see ya dairy. beat it white sugar.
but i didn't go all the way. how could i? my extremes follow express themselves in other ways.
food gives me so much pleasure [and subsequent pain...] that i knew that if i stopped everything cold tofurkey, i'd ultimately fail, and in merely days, i'd be sitting in front of the boobtube watching shows i care nothing about, slumped on the floor- in a devil-dog-induced "food" coma. now i could not have that happen, could i? no way!
so i set up a liveable regime for myself. it included much raw foods. and limited bits of foods from my no-no list, eventually weening myself off them.
i did great for 3 months. i found the raw foods lifestyle, and interpreted it as a healing discipline, and did awesome with that for 3 more months. looking and feeling great, i felt like i could go on this way forever. a true believer i was, (and still am,) a cheese-and-cracker convert!
but something happened.
i had a blip in my screen.
boom! crash!
perhaps i went into another deeper layer of detox.
perhaps i was over-stressed.
i was definitely more open, and therefor- "raw," but that was not the all of it. i haven't figured it out yet. no rush. anyway, i added more no-no foods into my regime and little by little, i was less and less raw, and more and more yuck, and shortly, in a bad way again- even if not as bad as before. so- i told myself what i can commit to. and decided to stick to it. now, you see, i am not the type of person who likes rigid guidelines- even if it has something to do with the bettering of my self. i resist and rebel and end up in a knotty mess. know thy self they say. true to that! it's more important that fitting in or making the grade. who sets up these guidelines for us to live by anyway?
we do.
back to the story. so- i decided that committing to veganism is a more important step for me than going raw as 100% priority, or than even following the yes/no list is. follow your heart. my heart said that if i eat an omelette, even if only once a month, and the eggs make me cry within 3 hours of eating them, then it's time to bid them adeu! my heart also said that cheese, although decadent and scrumptious, is made from cows that are milked against their wills, and since i am not a baby cow, well- what business do i have eating fancy gouda? none.
we are fixed with an inner guide...
let's call it the health elf.
health elf
is tiny, and has a small voice, and can get caught in the complications and nesty-mess our belief systems. the belief system of deprivation/reward. the belief system of want/need/should. and also the this-is-good-for-me-and-yummy belief system. now on good days, we can clearly hear our health elf. on not-so-good days we may think we hear it, then we may turn up the stereo instead, or maybe we may listen to health elf later in the day.
regardless of the pass/fail results, we have been given the gift of insight. seeing in. to ourselves. how fabulous, no?!? we know what we need to do. i need this NOW. i know that will be easier later. and if i let health elf guide me, i make better choices and have healthier cravings naturally. no hidden pressures. no stringent guidelines. less perceptions of blowing it.
tell me i can only frolic within a 2 acre radius, and i'm furious, edging the lines- demanding to get outside the area. but give me no limits, and i'll pretty much wander within the imaginary area anyway.
call me kooky. call me human.
no- call me blessed.


clean up your act!

as some of you may or may not know, i am packing for a much-desired move. we are moving back to new haven a mere five mile distance away. not that the close distance or enthusiasm on my part makes my stuff jump into boxes by itself or anything...
in my pre-packing and organizing stage, i have noticed some serious life-patterns emerging, and a direct link between the way i move about my space, and the way i move about my life. let me explain.
i have amassed much much stuff. stuff i need and use, as well as stuff i thought i needed or would eventually use. {see: too good to pass up.} you do this too, right? probably not to the same degree. now, i am not going on the oprah show as a hermit slob or anything, but things things things... they can end up owning us in ways unforeseen to the collector.
in the peeling back and removal process of extra material goods, i have cleared a space in my head, and body i did not know was there.
parallel example:
when i was in jr. high, all the rage was large fluffy curly hair. i always loves large poofy curls. still do. i wanted a perm. i seriously needed to poof in the coiffure arena. i got out the curling iron. i got out my mom's hot rollers, and after all was aquaneted to death, i was not even satisfied. until one day, i decided to not brush my hair after i bathed. within a few hours, i realized that i had the exact poofy curly hair i always wanted! up till then, i had no idea my hair was curly. i'm not kidding here folks. my mother made me brush and comb the curl out daily- under the guise of getting gnarls out.
liar! i stopped brushing my hair from then on. i run a pic through it weekly- only because i don't want dreadlocks right now. but underneath it all, i always had what i desired { myself.} fast forward to my "adult" life. mother is no longer telling me to brush my hair. i am the boss of my domain. sort of.
the clutter runs free like wild horses around here. [occasionally i leave carrot sticks out for them.] i cannot seem to get a grip on my crap. it's everywhere. books, paperwork, art projects, tidbits of tchotchkes and the like. how did this happen?
back to kid-dom- i had very little belongings as a youth. A] we had no money for it, and B] my personal space was not personal or mine. so when i moved out {and even as i planned for that move as a high-school teen,} i started collecting stuff. be it practical belongings or anything i liked... eventually it would be displayed or used in my very own home.
when i moved into my first place [still a teen,] i had a great set of stuff. i painted and decorated, and adopted a kitty. all was great in my world. or so i thought.
but soon- like slipping into quicksand, it all began to become an overwhelming enterprise of stuff i was sinking into. much of my depression was in direct relation to the messy state of my large apartment. i adopted cool vintage furniture which i would or would not ever get to re-finishing. like large armchairs. and end tables. my bills piled up unopened. i was struggling, still just a kid, with three jobs, and overwhelmed with an outlook that reflected my struggles. i thought it had to do with being an artist. p.s. here- the movies and books lie. the daily common life of a struggling artist is not romantic, or thrilling. it pretty much sucks to be broke- regardless of talent. anyhoo- i'd do major clean-ups at my place, but all that damned crap was still there- even if it was in a tidy pile.
i lived there for almost 11 years. after 7 of which my girlfriend moved in, and i had to make space for another human. in my precious cluttered palace- how?!?!!?!! we managed it.
alas, we moved here- to this dump- out of a serious necessity - 4 years or so ago. i got rid of the bare minimum when we moved out/in. the move was traumatic enough. i had to hold onto the things. deeply psychological analysis could be discussed here- but you get the picture...
so here i sit, typing this out- on a supposed food blog- and perhaps you may be wondering if i will ever get to the food portion of the show- it's coming, patience grasshoppers!
sarah asked what i wanted for my birthday- i replied "to move."
so we're moving in less than two weeks.
the house is a mess. a good mess.
a we're re-organizing it top to bottom mess. i have been giving my belongings away. big-time material goods. i'm gonna list it for myself- read along if you wish:
~ 4 cafe chairs
~ 4 antique kitchen chairs
~ snow tires
~ half of my darkroom {* very big deal}
~ half+ of my cooking and baking wares
~ most of my vases and glass display crap
~ clothes that don't make me feel or look great
~ more books
~ random things
the list is small. now. it will grow. that list was mostly kitchen related. i cannot wait to donate more. i absolutely love freecycle. people are very appreciative to take and give a new home and life to my old stuff. i think that so much of my holding on has not only to do with my want as a kid for things, but the desire, as an adult, to give something unwanted a good worthy home.
aww- what an odd chair, i'll take it home and love it. someone else's castaways had always had a place with me. had. i identified with them, being a bit of a castaway myself. so in claiming these things- these objects, i was claiming my own identity as well. to take a scruffy & wobbly chair and turn it into a masterpiece- that's the idea i was driven by. trash to treasures extreme. my own feelings of belonging, or feeling wanted, became a symptom i acted out through objects. and subsequently, the mere thought of getting rid of things became an upheaval, both emotionally and psychologically. tossing stuff was literally congruent to removing a layer of myself... sheeeeshshshss, not that bare-boned dissertation again!
so this time around, i was very scared to plan the move, and my fears had me frozen for a few days. then i decided to give away one of my most prized possessions. my darkroom.
what the? talk about upheaval. i decided that in the new place, i cannot set one up- it's not up to code for wet chemically areas and i decided to find another place to print my work. holy crap. photography feeds my soul, and i wanted to conduct a spiritual experiment... now?! yes.
so i went into my workroom, and got out all my photo-related and darkroom items. i separated it into three piles: get rid of- keep- and questionable. i donated the get rid of and questionable piles. i am three large boxes and two huge trash bags lighter- and that's just the photo stuff. i figured- hey- if i need it later, it will come back to me, or something even better will. this is a new concept for me to grasp.
some of you live in a minimalist space. not i. yet i totally admire it. i do. i am constantly inspired by my polar opposite- japanese decor, art, and design. talk about quiet dignity in a space. simplicity and beauty mingle to create a place to reflect. someday. right now i am baby-stepping into my own sacred space- apartment part three.
now for the food parallel. so i have shed my proverbial outermost skin, the material, even if just a small area of it, and have discovered that underneath it all, my organizational skills are better than i thought. i'm not a slob, i have too much stuff. i can do with-out certain things- it is not like doing without.
the joy of lightening my load has made my eating decisions easier.
i kid you not.
the days i donate my belongings, i eat better than the days i fret over moving. i have been saying to my friends who ask about my raw-fu challenge and raw in general, that my excess weight will melt away when the outdated and unnecessary ideas and emotions and memories triggered by them within me are ready to shed themselves. i have yo-yo'd on this raw diet. i have had some mega-stressers that affected my eating choices. but i am ready to move on.
i feel a shift.
i am excited about this next chapter of my life.
i want to give like way more stuff away.
and re-gain myself.
my center.

oh- that's where you've been hiding all this time...


Fermentation Vacation in my PunkRawKitchen!

OOOOHH Kombucha!
i love kombucha. but i didn't always. i tried it four times before i came around. i thought i was supposed to drink all 16 oz of the bottle at once, and simply could not swallow the acrid tang. eeeew. but, as i said, i came around. and around and around. i sought out a scoby (http://www.kombu.de/suche2.htm#usa) and emailed a local kombucha lover- over and over again. "do you have a scoby now?" & "how about now?" & "now?" it took a few months of waiting in online-land and then... voila! the awaited email came.
we met a couple of days later before i had to go to work. cris showed me his current batch/brew and other rad fermented delights before i left on my walk across town. which, by the way, i dribbled kombucha from the mock-tupperware on the entire walk. new bedtime story for the kids: "violet takes a leaky, precious, slimy and stinky container for a walk, hansel and grettel style, through two miles of downtown new haven... and maybe even spills more kombucha at work too!"
insert co-workers strange looks, and exclamatory questioning: "WHAT IS THAT SMELL???"
longer story slightly shorter, i walked that container around and around town until almost one in the morning, never losing sight of it. i dropped it once, and half the mother-juice leaked out, leaving a smattering that i was concerned would not be enough to add to my starter batch.
but i was wrong! it was enough! and just in case, i added a couple of ounces of store-bought kombucha to the mix, as an extra measure. here's my recipe for delicious kombucha:
~ brew up some strong tea. [black, green, white, etc.] i used jasmine green- 2X the bags.
~ remove bags and add 1c. sweetening from nature. i used raw unbleached sugar. stir to assimilate until the crystal visions are incorporated. sing stevie nicks songs to yourself as you do this. a white winged dove will bless your kombucha. fact.
~ plop the scoby mama and mother juice/brew into the cooled off jar of sweetened tea . let her sink or swim as she feels necessary. do not pressure her. she's exhausted after her last workout!
~ cover the jar with a tea towel, and ignore for at least a week, checking back every two days for mother's floating behavior/changes, sweetness or sourness of the tea as it brews into kombucha, and bubbles forming over mama and the interior of the jar. *
~ you will know it's done when the tea flavor remains amidst a soured flavoring of strong yet not overpowering tea. and the aroma will tip you off as well. don't hesitate to taste it. that's the most reliable test. it may be mellower than you think it will taste, surprisingly enough...

mine was. yum yum yum. the jasmine is flowery and heady, yet soft on the pallette. the bubbles were champagne-y yet fizzed out after a day or so- i was hesitant to close the bottles too tightly since the natural carbonation effect can be pretty serious, and i have read about kombucha exploding and making a horrendous mess in other people's kitchens. i'll have none of that wastefulness! more for me! so- i bottled it up in saved glass juice bottles, and portioned it out so as to have 2/3 to experiment with flavors ans 1/3 "plain." the plain went directly into the fridge, and the flavors are out on my counter now, sealed in a bottle in a ziplock bag, waiting to "brew" a second time. you can also see the sun-tea jar i used for my fermentation process in the photo below. the spout was a delight because i didn't have to open the top or move the jar at all to taste and sample the progress. garage sales and thrift shops should have them soon enough as summer comes to a close. if you want to brew kombucha, it's a great investment. mine was 50 cents.
it's a kombucha party and you are all invited! all your friends will be there, traditional trusties as well as newbies added to the mix! the two bottles with lids n them are "plain" jasmine green kombucha. the very same as i sip now. tasty indeed! the large dark bottle is infused with a generous amount of spirulina. now, i love g.t.'s green algae and spirulina kombucha, and so i mixed this as an homage/inspired-by concoction, but in all honesty, it reeks like bad indigestion. gross. we'll see if it mellows out as it continues to ferment together. the yellow-looking chunks to the direct right of it are ginger. that blend smells heavenly. i adore ginger in all of it's forms. don't you?!? the red and blue bottles are the free-form fermented experiments.
the blueberries may sweeten the kombucha or not. the gogi berries may deepen the flavor of the jasmine, or not. time will tell. all i hope is that the flavor and delicate balance of fermentation and healing power of kombucha are not lost due to my experimenting. i think that next time i will make oolong tea. or black pekoe. i adore tea. tea tea tea. i read this book about tea, it is a re-print from an old-school art/cultural critic from japan. he compares tea and ceremoniousness surrounding tea with life, with art and spirituality as well. he suggests viewing art and nature as a method of understanding and further appreciating the complex world of tea. how beautiful of a sentiment! over a hundred years ago, this wise man decided to share his eastern history and knowledge of the world of tea with westerners, so as to bridge a spiritual and cultural gap between us in 1906. okakura kakuzo's "the book of tea" is still printed today. i love that.

* i sweet-talked my brew for a week, and it was not done. then i went on vacation for 5 days, and it was not done. it needed a full 16 days, this batch. each batch will vary if you live in a variable climate, or if your home temperature fluctuates. the important thing is to not disturb the kombucha regardless, as each time it is jostled, it re-starts the fermentation process.

here's a photo of the mother and child scoby reunion. baby is smaller [to the left,] and atop the mama. that's how it goes: as your brew ferments, and mother scoby eats all that sugary goodness, a new scoby forms just above the mother as a result. bonus round! then after you bottle the brew, you can start all over with either two batches, or just by using mother or child, seeing as how you gifted either, or you can also up the ante by adding mom and kid to your next batch. don't forget to use some of the fermented brew as well. i'd suggest about a cup, but in my experience, less works too! happy fermenting!

i cannot wait to make beni shoga and kim chi!
after i move that is...


immune to giving up

as i sliced open these two oranges and breathed in their luscious aromatic healing-misty oils, i was instantly transported into an instant flash of clarity following a longer-than-comfortable bog of blah. i knew i was going to be better. ahhh.
you see, i have been ill since august the first, and since that was the very first day of the raw-fu challenge, i was less than enthused. i had a crap weekend as far as my strict [self-imposed, mind you,] dietary regime is concerned, but am again back on the raw track.
even if i am still feeling under the weather.
even if i started a new gig at work.
even if i am ovulating from my right ovary and i crave chocolate ice-cream.
even if i had a mini-meltdown this afternoon.
or did i have a breakthrough?
so as i ate these scrumptious sliced oranges and photographed their juicy love, i thought this blog entry out. felt it out. then wrote it down as a reminder.
that even when the turd hits the fan, that that same fan can be turned towards the garden. of our souls. and-
i remembered. i remembered that when i primarily dove headlong into raw, my detox was brutal. [not that it was so very long ago. like 6 months...] i did not even have the flu then. i had already given up sugar, and wheat, and processed "foods" for health reasons. i was soon sparkling in a clear-minded glow. but i slipped up. alot. as a result, i fogged up a bit. hey, as i've said before, i'm still human. even if i think otherwise.
i got back on that camel* and rode again. with the flu by my side, jabbing me and taunting me to make unwise food decisions. "beat it flu! i've got orange power on my side." munch munch slurp.
funny how illness effects us so very deeply. we get ill when we have a low resistance to whatever thoughts, germs, situations, etc., in our world are not positive. yet one thing i always try to take away from being ill, no matter how i resist this fact, is that it is a time to retreat and relax. a time reflect upon the past healing, while also looking forward to the next phase of being. in health.
and i can almost feel my white blood cells rising to the occasion and blessing me with a thanks. a thanks for remembering.

* as a little girlie, i, like many little girls, wanted a large four-legged animal to ride. but unlike many girlies raised in the western world, my critter of request was a camel. "but we can keep her under the porch, and i'll feed and clean her every day!" i'd beg.
never, not even once, did i get that camel for my birthday, real or stuffed toy... but my instinctual love for camels has not withered a bit.


Ease Into Transformation... Naturally!

the following is a post i threw together on a whim for my raw-fu peeps, but i thought i'd re-post it here, since someone reading this may also connect with the information...

let me preface this with the fact that i am not a doctor, nor do i play one on t.v.
what i DO do, is study and use wholistic and natural therapies, and have for 20 years... both in formal accredited classrooms and on my own.
i wanted to share some information @ a natural remedy that works for me regarding the ease of physical acceptance- especially during this poignant time of transformation that many of those who are [trying to and are successfully] loosing extra poundage are experiencing.
we all see these gorgeous before and after photos, and ooh and ahh at the severe and subtle changes that inspire and affect us. we share in conversations about plans, and hopes and fears, about raw vibrant living, but sometimes, we are faulted, and get down on ourselves, perhaps asking "why haven't i lost 956 lbs in 3 months... like so-and-so did! waaaaahh boohoo." or even this: "damned fat spare tire, i hate you!"
enough of that! STOP!
at this point, you need to re-group, center yourself, and just be.
but it's hard. maybe you're detoxing, feeling hormonal. perhaps the dog crapped on the rug, the rent is due, you have sunburn, etc. either way, life happens all around us. no stopping it, right? it's all okay. it's not you. you're just human. but in order to not beat yourself up too much and be super-cranky about your body in backlash to whatever... maybe you can take some CRAB APPLE Bach Flower Remedy!
bach flower remedies are homeopathic* tinctures made from plants which you take sub-lingually, for mental/emotional influxes. traditional homeopathy covers the physical, mental and/or emotional, but bach flower remedies are mostly taken for effecting our inner world. they are gentle and compassionate healers.
so you all know, i am not a retailer, a secret bach flower-pusher, nor do i have any affiliation to this company at all. what i do is: i have experienced hugely beneficial shifts in my mental and emotional states from taking these liquid drops.
maybe you've heard of "rescue remedy" for trauma, and stress? it's quite popular.
i could go on and on about the other remedies, but will not. that's another thread.

since i myself have been crabby and feeling rotten about my extra cushion, i have taken this lately, it helped me immensely. i look in the mirror and no meltdowns. not even a tiny one. i accept what i see, and am cool with my body, imperfections and all.
[ i'm taking the tincture once a day for three, then skipping two, then one three...etc.]

* homeopathy should not- as a rule of thumb- be taken within 15 mins of eating/drinking, be used in conjunction with mint, strong aromas, or coffee. it can anecdote the effects.

hope this helps.



Raw-Fu... for Me and You!

It's on! I am on board for Raw-Fu, the 100 day raw food challenge {a'la Bunny Berry's Raw-Fu website... check out her blog to the right, in my links arena.}
It is just the kick in the pants I need.

I tried to see if cukes gave me that glorious feeling that watermelon did the other day, and it was a bust. Bummer. Strawberries too. Tasty but not energizing or brain-euphoria-inducing. Maybe it's my inner sugar-demon crying out for the sweetness. Maybe not. At least I didn't feel less well than before snacking on either the berries or cukes. Come to think of it, leafy greens make me blissful and ecstatic. So maybe it's not the sugar. More trial and yummers until i find that bliss. Then my tastes and mineral needs will change, and it'll be kiwi and wakame all the time. And so on, and so on, etc.
Our bodies tell us such secrets and we must be patient and quiet enough to listen. Following a raw food lifestyle is such a challenge in and of itself, that this 100 days RAW-FU is going to be some wacky mad professor type of experiment. With benefits for living. I'm gonna need much support when it comes socializing/parties. That's my personal pitfall. I'm naturally a social butterfly, and as such a creature, I find it easy to fly around and sample tasty treats like it's no biggie. The Catholic or Jewish or Vegan or Whatever Guilt immediately descends upon me as soon as I drive home. Enough of that.
Last night, like some prisoner in Alkitraz or Folsom Prison, I had this "last meal" type of dinner- from this [used to taste] wonderful Chinese place my pals and I ordered from. I still feel kinda nasty. I was up ALL NIGHT with stomach pain and nausea. My body can tolerate cooked quinoa and steamed veggies and such, but other more complicated or heavy cooked foods, NO WAY! And I think that's great. I woke with a bloat, but after glass after glass after glass of water, and makin' moves... I realized I craved GREEN FOOD. Magical green smoothie brunch infused with gogi sure woke me up! And improved my day.
Whenever i am off that raw wagon, i seem to always crawl back towards RAW via green smoothies. Stephen Poplawski, in 1922, invented the blender.

Bless you Stephen Poplawski.


food and mood- best pals or rivals for life?

here at the newly appointed headquarters for starting from scratch- again, i have decided to chart my food/mood correlations and then have a looksie later on in blog-land as the connections begin to unfold.

i have between 24-48 oz. of water in the morning before eating- to flush out and re-hydrate from the evening before. then i usually have a greens and fruit smoothie, or a breakfast salad or whatever. it's not easy for me to be on a strict dietary regime like some are. i do not enjoy the planning or rigid scheduling. or the predictability. some days i must have olives for breakfast, and if the calendar says cauliflower bisque... too bad.

this morning for breakies, i had some luscious watermelon slices.
from yumyum farms.
how awesome is that?
if i had a farm, calling it yumyum would totally be on the top 5 choices for the name.

anyway, i noticed, after eating this gorgeous fruit, post- admiring it's color and juiceyness, that i felt calmly alert and happy. still do.
parsley is another one that effects me positively.
basil too- but less so.

i am not talking about what foods make me happy while eating them- i am talking about the foods that leave me feeling well and whole and pleasant and happy after eating and digesting them, and hopefully for some time following as well.

so i think it's experiment time. strawberries and mangoes are two trusted favorites, but let's see how they fare the isolated eating/meal test.

i used to love the traditional, famous waldorf salad. but it's mayo-ness is on the "give me a break" list, so i whipped up, literally , a new recipe for my dining pleasure. if anyone out there in cyberland tries this, let me know how it goes.

it's WALDORF recipe time:

in food processor, blend up @ 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, and 1/4 cup pignoli's with juice of 1/2 of a lemon until it's finely ground and turns very light in color.
to it, add a couple splashes of bragg's apple cider vinegar, a couple to a few TBS virginal coconut oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, a pinch or three of dill, a tad of sass and attitude, [i add a shake of this yummy non-salt herbal blend powder from the natural foods store as well,] and as much ice-cold water as it needs to make the dressing thin enough to pour- blending as i add the water thru the chute.

salad base-
soft lettuce greens- like red/green leaf, bibb, &/or boston lettuce[s.]
a generous amount of sliced celery and golden delish apple chunks.
toss some dressing over the lettuce/celery/apple melange while singing a little tune. it always makes it taste better.

with avocado, chopped walnuts and purple onion slices.

eat and enjoy!