Monday, December 28, 2009

Kind Countdown to 2010

I recently sat and read my New Year Resolutions...from 1989 to the present. It is fun to see how much things change...and how much they stay the same.

I am still thinking about what I want to create in my life in 2010 and what will go on this year's vision board. (Lots of *dreams* came true in 2009, so I know the importance of setting the intention. I also know, however, that manifesting dreams requires action, determination, and willingness to risk - therefore, one must choose wisely.) Regardless of the details, I know that I want to be KIND...or should I say KINDER...or should I say LIVE KIND.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I received Alicia Silverstone's new book The Kind Diet for Christmas. (Actually, I received it twice!). I have been inspired by both the book and her new website - The Kind Life). Alicia, Kris Carr (of Crazy Sexy Life), and other Superheros will share their tips for healthy living as part of a "21-Day Vegan Kickstart" hosted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine beginning on January 1. I have already signed up! The first step of many to a Kinder 2010.

Let the Kind Countdown begin.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

It's a White Christmas . . .

The most beautiful tree of all . . .

Wishing you, your family, and friends . . .near or far . . .

Much happiness, health, love, and all things *magical* in the coming year! 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let it Snow!

My favorite kind of snow is what I call "Snow Globe Snow."  It's as if someone took the world and gave it a good shake.  What comes down are big fluffy flakes that you can spin around in and catch on your tongue.  It's most fun at night when the streetlights reflect on the snowflakes and you can feel the magic in the air - because it is there - all around.  

While I will never get tired of this type of snow, I have to say that I was glad to make it out of D.C. ahead of the BLIZZARD!  I arrived home to find perhaps as much snow; only here we are prepared for it and can adjust accordingly!

In addition to looking out the window for much of the morning (as part of my self-imposed-snow-day), I did an in-home workout with resistance bands.  I never tried them before, though several people have recommended them to me - especially for travel.  I like these because they don't have plastic handles and are therefore easier to pack.  Doesn't look like much, but they definitely did something because my muscles are now sore!!  I guess that is a good thing!  (Let me know if you have used resistance bands before and found them useful or can recommend any exercises or websites for a good workout.) 

I also made a really good lunch (to offset all the Christmas cookies that I have to admit I have been eating!).  Organic salad, tomatoes, carrots, and avocado and a plate of baked pita chips and organic hummus. So good.

Finally, I came home to find that my mom bought me my FAVORITE DRINK!  When I tell people that this is my all-time-favorite-thing-to-drink (this particular brand of sparkling water), they always seem confused - as if it could not possibly be, but it is.  Love it!!

So, no excitement today - finally just a few minutes to RELAX.  How nice to be home. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Kind Diet

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I am jumping up and down in my living room!! I am so excited, and happy, and grateful.  Why?? Because I just had a Christmas gift exchange with my friend, and she gave me THIS - Alicia Silverstone's new book "The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet!!!!"  How did she remember (I made a comment about wanting it in passing - as in when I was passing through town a month ago!)?  How did she know how happy she would make me?!  I can't wait to read it and tell you what I learn! 
Books are one of my most favorite things in is KINDNESS. Looks like my Holidays are off to a great start! :)  I wish for you the same!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mac Food: Share the Love

I LOVE my MacBook. He told me I would.  Of course, he reviewed all the features - the photos, the files, the virus protection, and the customer support.  But what sold me was when he said, "People who buy Macs LOVE them.  Have you ever heard someone say, 'I LOVE my [insert PC name here]?'"  I had to think about that one for awhile...but no, I had not.  Then he said, "Mac users recognize other Mac users when they see them.  It is a really nice, supportive community."  (I wasn't bargaining for all that, I just wanted a way to write papers and check email!). Of course, I was a little skeptical...

...until it happened.

I brought my purchase up to the counter and the cashier enthusiastically exclaimed, "Oh, you are getting a Mac! I LOVE my MacBook!"

Fast-forward two months and several countries away to the airport in Istanbul, Turkey.  As I was waiting for my flight, the guy at the next table asked, "Are you a Mac user?"  "Excuse me?," I replied.  "You look like a Mac user.  I can always tell," he said. (I still don't fully know what that means.)

So, I thought...there must be something to this after all.

I now find the same to be true of eating Raw and Vegan food.  Like Mac users, people who eat this way tend to LOVE their food and food choices.  They LOVE how it tastes, how it makes them feel, what it does for the animals and the environment, the effect it has on their health, and the list goes on.  On the other hand, you rarely hear people extolling the virtues of diets comprised mainly of "manufactured food products."  While they might like the immediate sugar high of pre-packaged food, they are not raving on to friends (and strangers) about how good they feel and how happy they are with their steady diet of highly-processed junk food.  

For example, I LOVED these sweet potato fries dipped in maple syrup. How often do you want to lick your plate for food that has no cholesterol, is high in fiber, low in sodium, and an excellent source of vitamin A?  Doesn't happen every day, unless you actively look for it and plan ahead.

Also like Mac users, I am starting to realize that you can spot people who are concerned with their health and the health of the planet. It shows in their skin, in their attitude, in their posture, in what they bring to the world. They may choose to do that by being Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, or just by making better food and health choices one day at a time. Regardless of HOW they do it, wouldn't it be nice for everyone to say I LOVE my life and share that with as many people as possible?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cheesecake on a Mission Meets Pizza with a Mission

I came for the cheesecake.  I heard it was THE BEST vegan cheesecake in town.  I don't particularly like cheesecake, but I LOVE the IDEA of cheesecake.  (My favorite place in all the world to eat cheesecake is Prague, but I digress.)  The friends, the laughter, the cafes, the simple pleasures...all of it, I have experienced at one time or another through cheesecake.  So, you can imagine that I was excited to try this vegan alternative.

Um, I don't think cheesecake is supposed to be white.  Am I wrong?  I gave it the benefit of the doubt, but no.  I mean, I still had the benefit of friendship, laughter, and fun surroundings, but it was not the cheesecake experience I was hoping for!

I also tried the pizza, mainly because it came with a Mission.  "Every time you order this pizza we will donate $1 to Second Harvest Heartland, Minnesota's largest hunger relief organization."  That works for me!  I tried the Vegan Second Harvest Heartland pizza - tomato sauce, daiya vegan cheese, organic roma tomatoes, garlic, and fresh organic basil.  It looked like this:

I think I would have liked it better without the "cheese," though it did come out looking beautiful.

So, for my first-ever attempt at "dining-out-vegan," there were mixed results.

This place came highly recommended per reviews at the online Happy Cow Compassionate Eating Guide.  I do admit that it had a fun vibe, really nice staff, and a cool philosophy.

But I really wanted my cheesecake to be yellow.  Who knew?  I am sure, however, that there are far more pressing ”Galactic” issues.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"You Don't Eat No Meat?!"

"What do you mean, you don't eat no meat?"

"Is okay. You eat turkey."

I felt like I was in a scene from the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." My 87-year-old Italian Great Aunt kept offering to share her turkey with me throughout our Thanksgiving dinner - thinking that there must be some mistake that I didn't have any turkey on my plate already!  I tried to assure her that it was not an oversight and that I would not starve as a result.  Regardless of my attempts at explanation, she was not to be convinced.  

Once I got her off the topic of meat, however, she shared with me some of her "folk remedies" (as she calls them) to promote a long and healthy life.  Among them was her daily habit of drinking a glass of water mixed with two tablespoons of organic Apple Cider Vinegar and two tablespoons of maple syrup or honey.  I bought the ingredients, but haven't tried it yet.  While I am not entirely convinced to drink Apple Cider Vinegar, I can't argue with how good she looks at 87.  She can climb stairs, balance her checkbook, and remember her long list of remedies (of which this is only one).  

I am trying to pay attention.  Not only do I want to look and feel that good in the years to come, but I am a firm believer in the wisdom of our elders...even if she wants me to eat meat (*wink*).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Georgia: Sunrise, Wishes, and Supras

I ate raw pistachios as I watched the sunrise over Tbilisi, Georgia.  I was told that this building once housed Georgian refugees from the war in Abkhazia (during the 1990s) and wondered what they too thought of the view.  I am sure it was spectacular - even minus the bright light on the horizon - the Sameba (Trinity) Cathedral, which wasn't completed until 2004.

As I was sitting there, I realized something.  I may not know what I want to be when I grow up, but I am very clear on who I want to be. There was some satisfaction in that, since I think it is the more important of the two.

This was reinforced to me later in the day when we went to visit the 6th century Jvari Monastery that sits at a place where the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers meet.

There was a "wishing tree" in this place where the rivers both connect and diverge.  So it seemed that many people were here before me, tying ribbons, scraps of material, and pieces of paper - along with their prayers and dreams - to the branches blowing in the wind.  Did they ask for strength to take a path-less-traveled?, health for their families?, or merely give thanks for all they had already been given?  I contemplated both their dreams and mine as I stood at the rivers' edge.

How do Georgians give thanks?  One way is through a Supra - complete with a Tamada (toastmaster).  This celebration involves eating, eating, toasting, and eating some more (and then toasting some more).  There is an art to this process, which involves a particular order (which I have not yet figured out!) for toasting one's family, friends, health, country, peace...The table is full to start the meal and the plates of food pile up one-on-top-of-the-other as the eating continues - until the entire table is teetering and beyond overflowing.

Can you imagine that I experienced not one, but TWO Supras in one day??!!!!!  (Thus my need for a three-day Juice Fast!)  It should be noted that all the food was fresh, non-processed, and healthy - oh, the difference that it makes in the taste.  (I stuck to the vegetarian options - like eggplant topped with walnut paste - so delicious!)

Dinner ended with big plates of fruit.  (See the green fruit on the right. It looked like cucumber and tasted like a candy sourball.  Made me realize that the chemical flavors we have "invented" and introduced into our diets actually come from a source in nature.  Um, why not eat the original?)

A good day, a good week, and good lessons learned.  

Georgians, I toast to you - "To your families, to your health, to your country, to peace."  While I may not have the order right, I offer you my thanks and gratitude for all your kindness.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fresh, Organic, Vegan, Airport Food

He greeted me enthusiastically: HELLO, HOW ARE YOU???  Welcome to Philly.

Good.  How are you? Thank you, I replied (as I moved down the line to buy my veggie wrap at the airport counter.)

Him:  You are that famous actress, right?!!

Me:  Who? Me? (looking around). No, I am not famous.

Him:  Okay, maybe not FAMOUS, but you are on TV.  I watch you ALL THE TIME!

Me:  Really, no. It's not me. (At this point people in line are turning around to get a look at the "famous person" in their midst.)

His co-worker:  Leave her alone. She said she is not famous.

Him:  Well, she is not going to TELL us that she is famous.

Me:  Yes, yes, really I would, but unfortunately I am not.  I just want a veggie wrap. (But thank you for the compliment...I think).  I regret not asking him who he thought I was...Maybe I should have just given him an autograph and made his day! :)

My quest to find healthy airport food is usually not so exciting. Recently, however, I hit the jackpot.

Let me introduce you to French Meadow Bakery and Cafe at the Minneapolis International Airport in Minnesota, USA.  Not only did they carry organic salads and bottled juice drinks, but they had a variety of vegan treats.  

I tried the Vegan Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Bar (same price as regular Peanut Butter Bar) and have to say that it was FANTASTIC.

Other options included the Healthy Hemp Brownie, Vegan Carrot Cake, and Vegan Raspberry Chocolate Bar.

For dining in, or taking out.  

Of course, I had to eat mine on the go...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Velvet Revolution: Celebrating a Milestone

Today I am celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia - from Munich.  Through CNN, I am re-living the events that put an end to Communism at the heart of Europe.  On the plane on the way over the Atlantic, my German seatmate was surprised when I said how profoundly these events affected me and my life - as an American with no ties to the region and little knowledge of the countries (or even political awareness at that young age).  It has left me asking myself today - why?  Why did it matter so much to me 20 years ago?  And, why does it continue to matter (maybe even more so) to me today?  They are not easy questions to answer.

I think the revolutions of 1989 introduced me to my life.  They made me realize that every-day-people can accomplish things that might seem impossible - and sometimes even are.  They made me understand that things are not always as they appear and that people everywhere have something to teach me.  They also made me want to understand the people, politics, languages, and cultures that I was directly told I would never have an opportunity to know (see "The Wall is Gone"). They made me want to be a part of change - in both big and small ways.  

Maybe all idealistic notions from someone who is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up.  Yet for today, I celebrate.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Hello Bucharest, I'm so glad to be here!"

This is what Michael Jackson meant to say when he greeted the people of Romania several years ago.  Instead he said, "Hello Budapest" (in reference to Hungary).  The Romanians told us that this faux pas occurred on the balcony of the "People's Palace" (Palace of Parliament).  (The Lonely Planet guide said that this incident occurred at the National Stadium.)  Regardless, I like the intended message - and agree - "Hello Bucharest, I'm so glad to be here!"

The People's Palace

Unlike the other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Romania did not experience a Peaceful Revolution in 1989.  While the Communist regimes of neighboring countries fell one-by-one, as part of a domino effect begun with the opening of the Berlin Wall, Romania's leadership clung to power.  This changed in December 1989 when dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were forcibly overthrown and executed.  

The People's Palace, which today houses the Constitutional Court, Chamber of Deputies, etc. was an example of Ceausescu's excesses.  It is the second largest building in the world in surface area (following the U.S. Pentagon) and is complete with multiple halls, a dizzying array of chandeliers, and marble at every turn.  See for example, custom-built "his" and "her" staircases for Nicolae and Elena, which were re-built 5 times to ensure proper proportions.

After hearing about bloody revolts, cults of personalities, and great hardships to the Romanian people, it was time to try something on the lighter side.

I liked this message in particular:

While I have to admit, this was not necessarily Romanian fare, I was not up to joining my colleagues for a lunch of  "bear" as I already had my ”Wild Game” experience.  Instead, I had the following (minus the cheese).

We also went to Bucharest's oldest beer hall. Well worth the visit.  There I tried to order a chicken and vegetable wrap - minus the chicken.  The answer was simply no.  No discussion, no alternative, just no.  It actually made me laugh.  "Just order what is on the menu."  Will do.  A House salad it is.  (I really wanted to visit Casa Satya in Bucharest. How many restaurants advertise themselves as "Alchemy for Body and Soul?" The menu even gives suggestions for ordering for your health.  Guess I will need to make another trip!)

Overall, a lovely time spent in Romania.  Still shaking my head about how 20 years have passed, how much has been accomplished, and how much more needs to be done.  Bucharest.  I thank you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"The Wall is Gone"

Date: November 9, 1989. 

TV Image: U.S. news anchor Peter Jennings live in Berlin.  

Newspaper Headline:  "The Wall is Gone."

Me:  High school student.  (Returned from a trip to East Berlin in August 1989 where we were told "This Wall will never come down.")  Taped the headline above my bedroom window at my parents' house (where it still hangs today) and wrote myself a note:  "Remember this day.  It will change your life."  

It has - in every way.

Today - 20 years later - I celebrate the "peaceful revolutions" and the strength, courage, and perseverance that it took (and continues to take) to change a system and create something new for future generations.  It has been my great privilege to witness the changes over the past two decades and know that if the walls can come down, anything is possible.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Packing Raw Food and Inspiration

The websites say that the country has no organic food.  How can that be when most families are growing food in their own backyard?  The last time I was there this was the conversation with the hotel concierge:

"Do you have any restaurant recommendations?"

"Do you want Wild Game or Non-Wild Game?"

"Non-Wild Game please."

"Then I have the perfect recommendation for you."

(Take taxi to restaurant.  It was FULL of Wild Game - stuffed and hanging on walls, pelts (of what animals?) serving as seat cushions, and a menu of things I had never heard of - at least as a main course.)

Return to hotel and went back to concierge.

"How did you like the restaurant?"

"Well, we think we went to the wrong one.  We actually wanted the Non-Wild Game restaurant."

(Blank stare).  "But that is the one you were at?!!"

(Blank stare back).  "Really?"

This time I am preparing in advance and have started to assemble a little stash of food.

I have some Go Raw cookies, a variety of Larabars, a bag of organic raisins, a bag of trail mix (raw cashews, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, organic raw cacao nibs, and almonds), and ingredients for my "not-exactly-Georgian Snickers."  My other "must-have" items include a Klean Kanteen waterbottle (both for working out while on the road and getting water in the fountain (if need be) after passing through airport security) and my Pacsafe bag, which has already proven itself pick-pocket-safe!!

In addition to healthy food, I plan to bring with me a positive attitude and the intention to work out - both of which will be assisted by my new Lululemon gear.  At the recommendation of Angela at Oh She Glows, I purchased the Shape Jacket and received the bag as a gift. 

Lots of good advice, as you can see.  "Dance, Sing, Floss, and Travel."  Can't go wrong with that!!

Will soon let you know if I find any organics and / or Non-Wild Game.

In the meantime, Happy Halloween and (depending on where you are located) enjoy your extra hour of sleep! :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not Quite Composting

Mornings are usually hectic.   Important people running to important meetings.  Click, click, click down the hall with coffee in hand.  Except for me, I drink Green Juice.

(I wish I could tell you that I never get caught up in who or what is important.)  

After the Green Juice is gone, I eat my raw food - bananas, pears, kiwis, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries...(sometimes all of the above)...and throw the peels and dripping napkins into the garbage bin.  However, these days I try to make a little less of a mess.

"Good morning Dr. Pepper!"  (That is the nickname he has given me.)  He always has a big smile when he empties my trash - as if he is happy to be doing me a favor.  I could say he has "special needs," but then, don't we all?  He was excited to show me the plastic necklace around his neck that he got at an amusement park.  "Dr. Pepper, They gave me this.  It's angel wings.  They said it is perfect for me."

Perfect indeed.

P.S.  I bet they only give those out to the important people.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Raw Inspiration: Marine Corps Marathon Day!!

(Peace Park)

It was a beautiful day for "The People's Marathon" in Washington, D.C.  I love this event. Somehow it makes the city a little kinder...people smile a little more.  Total strangers from all walks of life and from country-after-country join in to celebrate the human spirit - and what it takes to run 26.2 miles.

The runners in this photo have been at it for more than 6 hours already and are inching to the finish line.  They are the ones who I really wanted to cheer on - since I was one of them myself in 2004.  (That's another post.)  Today I celebrate them and how winning (completing) does not always mean coming in first. 
In fact, winning is sometimes readjusting your expectations of yourself, doing your best, and taking pride in an alternative outcome.  I was reminded of this today while on the subway (with 30,ooo other people).  A woman around my age boarded the train.  I noticed her wearing a medal and said "Congratulations!"  She looked down and said, "It is only for the 10K race.  I wanted to run the Marathon.  I trained for the Marathon, but then I got hurt and the doctor told me that I couldn't run it today."  

I replied by telling her that running a 10K is something that very few people have done and that she should be proud of the accomplishment.  (Not to mention that she was wise to listen to the doctor and her own body and not let her ego talk her into something that could hurt her in the long run.)  That seemed to lift her spirits, and she said that she wanted to try again by running the "Jingle All The Way" 10K in December.  She asked if I wanted to join her.  I said, "Yes, if I am not traveling!" 

So, just like that we were both in good moods and contemplating running through the streets of Washington, D.C. in celebration of the Holiday Season.  "Oh what fun, it is to run...."

I guess this means that I will have to start (um) training!  Have you run a marathon, or any other kind of road race / fun run?  Any (raw) tips on how to prepare, what to bring to the event, or how to recover afterword?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Attention Holiday Eaters!!!

I interrupt this workweek, to bring you a special announcement. 

Are you a “Holiday-Eve” shopper?  Now is your chance to make a change – well in advance of any New Year’s Eve resolutions!

I recently purchased "Kristen Suzanne’s Easy Raw Vegan Holidays" un-cookbook.  I took her advice and tried making “I Can’t Believe It's Raw” Pumpkin Pie and “Oktoberfest Raw German Chocolate Brownies” in advance of the coming season.  In part, because I was skeptical.  Having never baked a pie, I was not sure I could “un-bake” one either!

The results. See for yourself.

Testimonials from my non-raw, non-vegan co-workers:

“Can I have a second piece?”

“Would you bring more tomorrow?”

“How can THIS possibly be made of THAT?”

I KNOW!!!!! 

My hat is off to you Kristen.  Your little genius has made for a lot of smiles…and the holidays have not yet even begun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ancient Greece and Rome: Lessons in Raw Beauty

Let me back up before I start this post.

My grandpa (who I loved – and still love dearly) passed away a little over a year ago. Oh, he taught me many things. Things about expecting the best in life, being open to love, appreciating your family, working hard…and harder still. He also taught me about letting go, when letting go is necessary in order to grow again. Of all the lessons he taught me, I had no idea he taught me about oil…

You see, at the age of 90 my grandpa had a full head of thick, black hair. Not a grey hair in sight. (He would always note this fact as one of his greater accomplishments, and who could blame him or disagree?) When I asked him for his secret, he simply said “baby shampoo.” (shhhhh)

But was there more? Something passed down through the Ages? Something learned, remembered, and then forgotten? Or, only forgotten by some?

As part of the Raw Lifestyle, I have quickly learned about the benefits of oil of all kinds. JoJoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil…and the list goes on.

JoJoba Oil: Good for moisturizing the scalp, softening hands and feet, and my personal favorite – make-up removal.

Coconut Oil: Good for cooking, skin care (face moisturizer, natural sunscreen, body lotion, etc.), and hair conditioning. The uses are really endless. Do a google search. You will be amazed.

Olive Oil: Makes a great salad dressing and good for dipping bread, of course, but did you ever consider using olive oil as part of your beauty routine? Apparently, those living in Ancient Greece and Rome had this figured out, but I am just hearing about it now?!! (On a recent trip to Athens, I was introduced to “Traditional Pure Greek Olive Oil Soap.” I highly recommend.)

It appears that my great-grandmother (who came to the U.S. on a boat from Italy) also knew a thing or two about the value of olive oil. I just recently realized that my grandpa told me one time that she made him rub the oil on his scalp every day of his life because she said it was good for his hair.


Of course, maybe it’s an “old wives’ tale” and genetics alone blessed him, but then again…the Ancients were pretty wise.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

An Ounce of Preparation...

"Do you want to join us for lunch?," I asked the student from Denmark.  She responded, "No, thank you.  I don't eat that kind of food."  

I asked her this question in 1997 and remained puzzled by her answer for more than a decade. What kind of food?  I never told her where we were going to eat (as it hadn't yet been decided), so how could she respond with "I don't eat that kind of food?"

I now realize that the only "food options" available at the time were a range of fast-food restaurants, which she most likely did not consider "food" or "options" at all.


This morning her words came back to me as I headed out the door.  Then I thought about the food options I would be facing today, if I chose not to be prepared.  Did I really want to "fuel" my body with "food products" instead of "real food?" 

So, I turned around...and reminded myself that an ounce of preparation could make a very big difference in my day.  Here's what I prepared in 10 minutes or less:

--Smoothie (organic strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, banana, and flaxseed)
--Celery (with almond butter)
--Butternut Squash Soup (not raw, but organic)
--Salad (romaine lettuce, spinach, avocado, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and olive oil)
--Not-quite-Georgian Snickers (assembly required)

Threw the creations in my bag (lined to keep products cool) and headed out the door for a second time.

The result - a day of feeling good about what I ate, how I am taking care of my body, and a follow-up yoga session to boot!!

Also, a chuckle to myself at how much difference a decade - or a day - can make.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Habit or Ritual?

By habit I am a night owl and former junk-food junkie.  By ritual I am becoming a morning exerciser and raw vegan (far from 100%, but leaning in the direction of making better choices for my personal health and happiness).  As part of my morning ritual, I have been watching the sun come up - while drinking warm water with lemon (and even reading some blogs!). Not to mention that the process has helped me to get over jet lag this time around!  

It is easy to be grateful for the coming day when it starts like this.

How do you start your day when you want it to be a little extraordinary?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Defying Gravity

Anyone who knows me knows that I love, love, LOVE the musical WICKED!!!  I saw the performance in Germany, and it was THE BEST PERFORMANCE OF ANY KIND that I have EVER SEEN ANYWHERE!!!!  In fact, it was so good that I wrote the cast a “thank-you letter” to express my sincere appreciation for the *MAGICAL* evening.  I also bought the CD – both from the German performance that I saw and the English version by the original cast of Tony-award winning Idina Manzel (as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch) and Kristin Chenoweth (as Glinda, the Good Witch).  Phenomenal.  Raw talent to the extreme.

I mean, how can one not run faster on a treadmill when one is singing along with the following words?

“I am d-e-f-y-i-n-g gravity… And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free.  To those who’d ground me, take a message back from me.  Tell them how I am defying gravity.  I’m flying high defying gravity and soon I’ll match them in renown.  And nobody in all of Oz, no wizard that there is or was, is ever gonna bring me down!!!!”

Sing for yourself and see how good it makes you feel.

What does this have to do with Raw Food?  Just ask A Vegan on Stage.  I made her awesome Elphaba (aka Elphie) Bars and can’t stop smiling, singing, or twirling around in my kitchen.  See her recipe here.  See also photo of my bars (with appropriate green suitcase in the background).

What do you do to Defy Gravity?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Art or Science?

Is there an art to Juicing and Smoothie-ing?  Or, is it a science - merely getting the right nutrients into one's cells to make for a healthy body and mind?  

Either way, I am still learning.
My Green Juice is not yet green, you see.  However, the experimentation is still fun and "pretty" in its own way.  Despite my encouragement, my juice asked for an accessory.  A beautiful glass straw to help with her self-esteem.

Today's Not-Quite-Green Juice included the following ingredients:  3 carrots, 1 cucumber, 2 kale leaves, 1 apple, 2 stalks of celery, and juice from 1/2 a lemon (the lemon juice makes all the difference!).

My Smoothie faired a little better.  But then again, she was assisted by The Voracious Vegan's almond milk recipe.  And everyone knows that a little help from a friend can do amazing things. 

Other ingredients included: organic blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, 1 banana, kale, and a tablespoon of flaxseed for some additional omega-3s.

Though they looked a little "out-of-the-ordinary," both the Juice and the Smoothie were glorious in their own ways and contributed to making me feel better...and better still...So, there was really no reason to be hard on themselves.  I told them that their uniqueness was a gift and that they should focus on their individual and combined successes (as they scientifically enhanced my health and longevity).  That is where the art is!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Jewelry Reminder and Plan of Action

Forward nine hours. Back three hours. Forward four hours. Back 10 hours. I have now reached my "final destination" once again after almost a month on the road.  The result is that it is after 5am, and I have been awake since 1am sneezing, coughing, and trying to breathe.  The good news is that I don't have swine flu, the bad news is that I am clearly out of balance!

Thus, the need for a jewelry reminder...and a plan of action.

I bought this necklace from a local artist while on the road.  The large circle represents life and eternity, the inscribed symbols are local designs, and what I like best - the small circles represent the "human pie chart" - family, friends, health, career, spirituality - and bringing them all into balance to make a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.  Who couldn't use such a reminder??

As for the plan of action, a direct and immediate trip to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to stock up on raw essentials. I picked up organic celery, spinach, romaine hearts, kale, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, avocados, apples, bananas and almond butter (thanks to Girl on Raw), tomatoes, and even threw in a bag of Go Raw super cookies (on the advice of Kristen's Raw).  I only regret not buying two bags - they are that good!

Let the healing and balancing begin!!  

If you have any other tips on how to find (or create) balance, please do share!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bangladesh and Girl Power

We had a fearless leader who took us through a dizzying maze of spices, stacked fruit, veggies in vans, and buckets of berries glittering in the sun. On the outskirts of Yerevan, Armenia we shopped with the locals at a place they call “Bangladesh” (given its distance from the center of their capital city). Though our leader spoke only a few words of Armenian, it was clear that she was much loved – having traversed the market many times before, making friends along the way. They greeted her with a kiss, would not let her pay for the fruits they put in her hand, and offered blessings for her family (at least that is what I imagined them to say). I sheepishly watched and tried to take it all in.

What better reason to eat raw food when it comes with such positive energy?