Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Raw Food Restaurants

Berkeley's finest -- no contest!
I've been travelling alot lately, which is a partial explanation for the long gap between the last post and this one.  I'll spare you the other excuses, but do want to share that I have been able to dine at some really good raw food restaurants lately.  In March, for example, when I was visiting family and long-time friends in California, I was able to have two meals at the Gratitude Cafe in Berkeley. It's such a great place with a marvelous history, philosophy, and menu. I first visited there a few years ago when it was a totally raw place.  I was somewhat saddened to see that about half their menu now, though still vegan (I believe) is cooked food.  There are still many raw options, and many wonderful healthy drinks and raw desserts.  Still, I wondered if they aren't just feeling the pinch of trying to stay in business in a difficult economy.

Gratitude's cozy, character-laden seating

Another of my favorite places for raw food is in Brookfield, Wisconsin, about 20 minutes northwest of Milwaukee.  I have been visiting there once or twice a year when I am in the area for meetings that I regularly attend.  Cafe Manna is also a lovely and fairly new  place in an upscale shopping center.  It was built with the utmost care to be sustainable -- bamboo counter tops, efficient lighting, recycled everything, and fabulous food.  What I've always liked about their menu is a color coded  system they have for identifying vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, and gluten free fare.  The food and service are, just as they are at Gratitude, top notch, and I have taken colleagues there on several occasions to experience the wonders of raw cuisine.  However, this year their menu has shifted as well.  It seems that they have a smaller percentage of raw entrees, and one evening they had absolutely no raw desserts.  Eeeek! What are we to do when these marvelous oases in the desert of Standard American Diet  (SAD) food cave in and no longer cater to those of us who thrive on live!!? I'm sure that decisions are being made to ensure life in this downward facing economy, and I am not criticizing the decisions of these two fine establisments.  Better to have a compromised raw food menu than no raw food menu at all.

Manna's great little patio in pleasant weather.

I guess I just want to make a plea to all my raw food friends to frequent these wonderful raw restaurants and others like them across the country, lest we lose them.

Meanwhile, my budding Health Coaching business is underway. Go to my Abundant Raw Life website for more information.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Raw Food Goes to a Yoga Conference

I recently took a trip with two daughters and a friend to my first weekend long yoga conference.  Oh, my!  Lots of yoga of all sorts and it was all wonderful.  All the meals were on our own, which is always a little scary for me when travelling.  I was well prepared. We had a kitchen to work with where we stayed, and I was able to use a blender for as many green smoothies in a day as I might need. 
The Healtiest Drink in the World!

Here's the thing.  When doing yoga, it's best not to have a stomach full of heavy food. In fact, the recommendation is usually to practice on an empty stomach.  This works out well for a raw diet like mine, where the  food is not heavy to start with, and I could make it even easier on my digestive system by drinking, rather than chewing and then having to digest) two meals a day. We were able to buy fruits and lots of leafy greens locally, and I made some raw trail mix in advance, and packed some raw bars. 

All sorts of raw nuts and seeds, plus raisins,
gogi berries, date pieces, other dried fruits, etc.
  'Keeps  very well and is a wonderful supplement
 to raw fruits and vegetables.

 Keep the food simple was my motto, which worked out very well with three yoga practices a day.

Truly, keeping up with a crowed full of much younger people was work enough.  I gave my body the best nourishment possible, and thus  maximized my abilities on the yoga mat and my fun quotient off the mat.  My body felt clean and supple all weekend.  I'm grateful for that.  No distractions from the arduous, rewarding  yoga work.
3 Smith Women in Colorado--
Jane with daughters Suzanne and Lisa
Great time!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Something to Celebrate

Among all the wonderful things that I enjoyed during our Christmas vist with family in Colorado this year, I took some quiet sweet pride, and celebration of an accomplishment on December 27, the day that marked five years of a very high raw diet for me. It was nice to have that anniversary where it all started just after Christmas, 2006.  And it was nice to reflect a bit on how my life has changed since then.  Certainly I am more slim, healthy, and energetic.  Certainly my kitchen has been entirely rearranged by now. And certainly I have quite a repertoire of recipes to experiment with, share, and enjoy.

At a somewhat deeper level, though, my identity has changed.  Because relatively few people in my life are raw foodists, or, for that matter, vegetarians, I have become known in my family and social circles as the raw food one. The good news about that is that people allow for my preference when we're going to a restaurant together, or in the case of the holidays and other festive celebrations, know that I will bring something to eat for the meal, and sometimes take the time and trouble to make something especially to accomodate my diet and lifestyle.  (At one family celebration recently, I madea new recipe for sweet potatoes to bring to share. It was a wonderful surprise to see that the daughterwho was hosting the meal had made the exact same recipe! It was lots of fun!)

It's nice to be acknowledged and  taken care of in that way. Everybody likes having their wants and needs attended to. The point I am making here, however, is that the more my identity grows into this "raw foodist" one, the more people become more aware and experimental with positive dietary changes in their own life.

Yesterday, we attended the local Bike Club's Annual New Year's Day Ride and Chili Lunch.  I brought a large kale salad to share, and was quite gratified (amazed, really) when several of the very serious bikers were helping themselves to large portions of it, all the while engaging me in conversation regarding its contents, nutritive value, and the like.  No more reticence to try something raw that I witnessed five years ago.  People were genuinely eager to see what I had concocted for the occasion and dove right into it.
For me, this having been able to introduce so many people in my family, workplace, Church, and social groups about the best possible way on earth to eat is really something to celebrate!

Happy 2012, everyone!  May it be filled with lots of good food, plenty of good health, and the blessings of good relationships.