Although not technically in winter yet, it sure feels like it today as I write this article for you!
And it's at this time of year that people curious about eating raw are asking, "How on earth do I go or stay raw in winter?". Others, those who may have been eating raw for a few months or on and off for a few years even, may find that this is the time of year where cooked foods start to become a very attractive proposition indeed!
In this article, the first of several, I'll be addressing a number of factors and my intention is that by the end of it, no matter where you are starting from, you'll feel clued up about the approach you personally will be taking this winter so that you are at peace with your decision and can move into winter with a spring in your step rather than dragging your heels! In future eZines I'll be getting into the more nitty-gritty aspects of eating raw in winter, featuring some great winter-warmer (raw) recipes to keep you smiling inside and out!
One of the most common questions I get asked, especially at this time of year, is “How do you stay raw in winter? I just can’t imagine not eating anything hot when it’s so cold. How can I do it?”
Well, I have to begin by saying that from what I have seen in others and experienced myself, it entirely depends on how new you are to raw foods. Eating raw in winter is a bit like training for a marathon – you can’t expect to run the whole way first time out; your body has to adjust and it has to adjust incrementally over a period of time.
I think the best way I can teach you about staying raw in winter is to share my own story with you. Through doing this you’ll be able to get an idea of the lengths of time involved, what to do and what not to do, and also why it’s important to see the raw food journey as something that has hills and valleys just like any other journey in life – sometimes you just have to accept what’s real and deal with it, so that you can press on and enjoy what lays over the other side!
My story begins in 1993 when I first discovered raw foods. I’d been dabbling since the spring of that year and doing really well on it. By the time it got to winter, naturally I felt colder than before and the thought of eating salads and tropical fruits throughout the winter wasn’t quite as attractive as it had been some months before! Bear in mind, however, that at this stage I was eating high raw and not all raw, so “staying raw” wasn’t the issue for me, just knowing how to keep warm without being tempted back into chips (fries) and greasy veggie-burgers and other more junky foods was my first and immediate challenge.
Well, those first few winters – about four of them – I approached the issue as I have done with all aspects of my raw eating: If it feels good do it, if it doesn’t – don’t. Yes, I wanted to eat as much raw food as possible, but if my body was freaking out about it, then there was no way I was going to force it on myself; that would be completely contra to everything I was aspiring to, which, besides eating raw, was a sense of greater wholeness, peace around eating and a better relationship with myself and my body.
So during those first four or so years I did the best I could. I ate as much raw as possible, but if I wanted porridge I ate it (but cooked it with water rather than milk and threw in lots of fresh banana, raisins and a big blob of honey). If I wanted a plate of chips with my salad I ate them (but they weren’t deep fried as they were years previously, they changed to oven baked, low fat, veg oil only). Jacket potatoes with mashed avocado, wholegrain rice or pasta with fresh wholesome sauces, or boiled potatoes swirled in olive oil, fresh garlic, chopped basil and lemon juice became my winter time staples. By eating these with salads I could happily stay high raw and get the heat I needed from those cooked foods while still keeping “with the program”.
By around year five I remember that I had moved into a cold, tiny, pretty drab flat for a short while and I can remember looking out of the kitchen window one day at the snow falling outside. I was about 6 months into what I considered to be my “100% raw forever if I can” phase and although I wanted to continue it, I said to myself “If I want cooked food this winter I shall have it, but if I don’t then I’ll just take it day by day and see what happens.” As it turned out, I had got so used to eating raw food having been doing it to such a high degree for so long that actually my body no longer wanted it. And so it was that I went through the whole winter not just cooked-food-free, but I didn’t even feel drawn to drinking herbal teas. That was pretty surprising, but it felt completely right. Cooked and hot foods no longer felt “right” at all and my desire for them had disappeared completely.
And this continued for the next five years in fact, where I didn’t eat any cooked food at all, apart from three weeks during pregnancy and that was in the February of 2002 and had nothing to do with the temperature outside!
What I learned from all of this is the following:
1) It takes time to go through a UK winter on all raw foods without feeling seriously deprived.
2) It probably can be done if you have a will of iron, but personally, because I am such a fan of the “whole person” approach, I do not recommend you forcing it until you feel genuinely ready, and this may take years (is there a hurry anyway?).
3) When I finally did stay raw throughout winter it became apparent to me that some of the previous cooked food longings during the colder months had been physiological for sure – the body does have to adjust – but I also became aware that a lot of it is also psychological, meaning that a lot of it is about habit and belief that hot food is necessary and this also has to be overcome to go all the way.
Although this has been my own experience I do need to add one final thing. Over the recent years I’ve become more interested in body types and blood types. While I’m no expert on either, what I have observed is that more “sturdy” types like me (I am slim now but certainly not skinny), seem to fare better on raw food all of the time, and those who have always been naturally lean can struggle more.
Personally I think the most important aspect to all of this is to look on wintertime as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and intimacy you have with yourself and your body even further. Yes, there will be a tendency (just like there is in pregnancy!) to say “what the hell!” and eat whatever you want because the pulls to do so are stronger than normal, but I’d like to invite you to actually turn this inclination on its head and ask yourself, “How can I use the darkness, coldness and mystery of the winter to nourish myself at a deeper level via my food choices, my lifestyle habits and the way I utilise this special time of year to reflect on who I am and who I am becoming?”
Winter time may be cold, dark and even lonely in some regards, but unlike any other season it gives us the opportunity to turn inwards and see what’s real, what needs addressing and to take a look at how we can feed ourselves optimally now so that when spring comes around again we can awaken, ground, aspire, grow and blossom even more brightly next year than we have done during this. In this regard, winter becomes a gift, and a time of opportunity rather than challenge.
Choose to look on it this way and your winter in the raw will be a pleasure, especially when you know that a few months from now you can feel stronger, leaner and lighter in every regard than you currently do now, and that can only be a good thing!
WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR ON YOUR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at www.TheRawFoodCoach.com.
Competition for playing time is so fierce that today's teenage bands must promise a profit before they can take the stage in clubs. They're compelled to sell tickets up front to guarantee the venue will earn a profit.
But economic reality didn't interrupt John Anagnos' aspirations to beat a path through the crowded teenage-band arena.
"If you want to do something in life, you have absolutely no choice but to be self-driven because people will not come to you," said Anagnos.
John and his brother AJ founded Aces High Music about two years ago. The band's sound is rooted in hard rock and alternative styles.
It didn't take long before the group was proficient enough to perform in front of a live audience, but finding a venue wasn't an easy task.
John, the oldest member of the band, learned to sell the group over the telephone. He also learned a lot about the music industry.
"I used to be shy," said the 18year-old drummer and band leader, who quickly developed business skills that landed the young group some local gigs.
Aces High Music first performed at Redwood Middle School, where they helped to organize a concert with other new bands. Later, the band played at the Agoura/Calabasas Community Center, at the Cobalt Club in Canoga Park and at Simi Valley's Harmony Sweets.
The band opened for Yngwie Malmsteen at the Ventura Theater last year. Malmsteen is a virtuoso guitarist who pioneered the neoclassical genre in the early 1980s.
"The only catch is that we had to sell 60 tickets at $25 apiece," John said.
He added that it was worth it.
The group is scheduled to play May 5 at Conejo Valley Days and at the Ventura County Fair in June. They'll also appear at The Joint in L.A. on April 14 and at the Whiskey a Go-Go in Hollywood sometime in the near future, they said.
"Our house was always filled with all kinds of music," said AJ, a freshman at Thousand Oaks High School and the lead singer and a composer for the band.
he 15-year-old also credits his TOHS music teacher, Mr. (George) Swanson, with inspiring him.
"He taught me how original music comes from the soul," AJ said.
The boys were motivated by an unexpected hardship as well. Last year their mother, Carole, became ill with cancer. "She wasn't able to see us perform anyplace," said John. The medical treatment confined her to bed and was hard on the family, but the music was cathartic and kept the brothers focused.
"My interest in music really became serious to me and I wanted to pursue it to where I could make a living," said John, a senior at Thousand Oaks High School.
Although making a profit as a rock band in the music industry today is nearly impossible, John is driven by the band's early success.
AJ, who also plays guitar, hopes to use music as a platform for humanitarian endeavors to give back to the community.
He's learned some lessons already. The band has taught him that change is inevitable. Although the group has only existed for a few years, members have already come and gone.
"At first it was hard to let go, but now I expect change. It's part of life," said AJ, who hopes the current makeup of Aces High Music will remain unchanged for as long as possible.
Mark Borbas, a TOHS junior, joined the group a month ago. The guitarist is a member of the high school's advanced jazz band and recently won the high school jazz soloist award in Santa Barbara.
Bass player Steven Cook is a sophomore at Newbury Park High School. "Naturally I have to keep up my grades in order to play," said Steven, who's an honor student.
Aces High Music is a group of kids who try to keep a positive attitude, Steven said. "We're all straight-edge. We don't get high or into uncool stuff."
"We try and showcase each other's musical talent," said John.
Bands must work hard to make it in their competitive field, but chemistry is also important. Today's kids are sophisticated and aren't fooled by flash and fivechord changes, John said.
Aces High will perform on Friday evening at the Agoura/ Calabasas Community Center in Calabasas. For more information, please visit www. aceshighmusic.com.
BRING up the topic of raw food, and most people will start raising their eyebrows and exchanging amused glances. If they've heard of the diet at all — a gastronomic trend that involves eating only organic vegetables, nuts and seeds with nothing cooked over 110 or 120 degrees — they most likely equate it with cults, dream catchers and outspoken purists, like the Los Angeles-based chef Juliano Brotman, who claims that he needs only about three hours of sleep a night thanks to his diet of raw food.
In the last few years, however, a less radical raw food scene has begun to sprout in some of the world's most luxurious resorts and spa retreats.
Health nuts in New York know about raw food restaurants like Pure Food and Wine and Quintessence, but few know that at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago (816 West Armitage Street, Chicago; 773-248-6228; www.charlietrotters.com), Mr. Trotter will serve a raw food dégustation menu if asked. "At least two tables a night opt for the raw food menu," Mr. Trotter said in a telephone interview. "For us, raw food is here to stay. It's part of our repertoire at this point. It's not that we just dabbled in it."
In late 2003 Mr. Trotter published a cookbook entitled "Raw" with one of the country's top raw food chefs, Roxanne Klein. That same year he started C, a restaurant designed by Adam Tihany, in the $450-a-night One & Only Palmilla resort in Los Cabos, Mexico (7.5 Carretera Transpeninsular, San José del Cabo; 52-624-146-7000; www.oneandonlyresorts.com). The executive chef at C, Michael McDonald, has been trained extensively in raw food cooking and weaves in such dishes as a shaved fennel and daikon salad, cucumber spring rolls and vanilla ice cream made from nuts, coconut oil and maple syrup. Like Mr. Trotter, he serves up a complete raw chef's menu when asked, preferably a day ahead, for $99 (it's $125 at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago).
"I think in a couple years' time chefs will have to have an understanding of the possibility of raw food and have a few raw food options on their menu," Mr. Trotter said.
Diana von Cranach, the owner of Puri Ganesha Villas (62-362 94766; www.puriganeshabali.com), a $400-a-night Bali hideaway, would agree. She's just come from a chefs' raw food training course in Australia and is adding dishes like avocado and coconut salad and apple and pear spaghetti to the resort's menu.
Chris Miller, executive chef at the newly renovated Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri in Bali (62-361 978-888; www.cse.comoshambhala.bz), a Cheong Yew Kuan-designed resort where a double room starts at $495 a night, credits Mr. Trotter and Ms. Klein's cookbook as inspiration for his raw food dishes like a spicy coconut noodle and vegetable salad. The hotelier Christina Ong bought the resort in 2004 and added it to her glamorous stable of Como resorts, recently putting in spa villas and a second spa building and bringing in visiting energy healers, life coaches and yogis. Raw food also figures into the new formula: the Shambhala Estate offers raw food weeks and raw food dishes at its Glow restaurant.
Mr. Miller said that Mrs. Ong and her chain's interest in raw food began several years ago during the development of one of her first Como properties, Parrot Cay.
"About five years ago, just when the raw food thing was taking off in a big way, Parrot Cay had some V.I.P. guests interested in it," Mr. Miller said. "Some of them had private chefs who taught our chefs a few recipes. Over the years, Como resorts developed a spa menu, which brings in a lot of raw food elements. >From wheat grass to a dehydrator machine, all the properties have the ingredients and tools that facilitate raw food cooking."
One of those V.I.P. guests was the fashion designer Donna Karan, a friend of Mrs. Ong's, a follower of the raw food movement and a regular visitor of both Parrot Cay and the Begawan Giri. Her private chef at the time, Jill Pettijohn, based in New York, had a big hand in developing the raw food section of the Parrot Cay menu.
"I started going down there when I was working for Donna," Ms. Pettijohn said in a telephone interview. "She would do the yoga retreats. I would be making food for her, and of course I had to use the kitchen. Everyone was really interested in what I was doing. Eventually I gave them some classes and guided the menu.
"There is that hippie cult crowd," she added, "but there's a bunch of us that are quite normal."
Trying a raw food dish at a luxury resort is, Ms. Pettijohn said, a "kind of bridge into a better lifestyle. You can take this road and go along it, and if it doesn't do anything but make you feel good for a few days, at least you had a taste and know you can go back to it." While Ms. Pettijohn still cooks occasionally for Donna Karan, she now spends much of her time organizing private five-day raw food nutritional cleanses for prominent New Yorkers.
Similar weeklong raw food cleanses and detox retreats have been offered for years at dedicated centers like the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Fla., but it's only in the last few years that more luxurious versions have begun to crop up. While the rustic rooms at the institute are really only a step up from a youth hostel, the Farm at San Benito, opened at the end of 2002 in the Philippines (632-696-3795; www.thefarm.com.ph), is set on a coconut plantation with thatched-roof villas, elaborate gardens, a pet peacock and a general manager with experience at some of Asia's top hotels.
The Farm's signature wheat grass shots and green drinks, squeezed from organic green vegetables, were served up poolside by friendly waiters at the chic Bali-styled spa with open-air massage areas. A wealthy oilman from Oman, a banker from London and a businesswoman from New York City were just three of that week's dozen guests doing the program. Some will return home and — concerned about raised eyebrows — tell their friends that they were winding down at a deluxe resort. Others, like the oilman, however, had heard about the Farm from a business colleague convert who had done the retreat in an effort to help a recovery from prostate cancer. The seven-day "medical vacation" starts at $1,231.20 a person for two sharing a room.
Tthe Complete Retreat (44-207-689-0030; www.thecompleteretreat.com), also in its fourth year, is a raw food retreat in a white villa about 45 miles northwest of Marbella, Spain. The head of the program, Lisa Jeans, also has retreats in England, and early next year will hold one on St. Barts. Here in Spain one might meet heiresses and accomplished businessmen and women over green juices, morning yoga classes, hikes in the hills and raw food meals that might include cold curried carrot soup, raw food "sushi" and a sorbet made only from frozen bananas. An all-inclusive week starts at £1,350 ($2,416 at $1.79 to the pound), double occupancy.
The guests here talk about babies, compare travels to exotic locales and check out one another's skin in hope of that mythical "raw food glow." It's more of a clique than a cult, and these raw foodists definitely prefer designer jeans to dream catchers.
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