18 October 2010

A Fond Farewell

I've had what you might call a challenging month here.

First, I had to wrap my head around the shocking news that a dear friend chose to take his own life. Then I had to make the heart wrenching decision to end another friend's life, with dignity – a four-legged-2,000-pound friend – who'd been with me for more than half of my own life.

Still grieving my departed friends, another, very-much-alive one, sat me down and broke the news that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Knock me over with a feather!

To say that it's felt like my world, and my insides, have been whirling like that Dervish pictured above, would be an understatement.

But listen, I tell you all this not to have you join me in some oh-woe-is-me pity party. Nope. I share this with you because I have not looked to food for a fix, nor for comfort. I know. Really. Hello?

If you've been around the block with me a few times, you'll recall how this whole journey into Raw Food Land began. And if you're a recently acquired hitchhiker I've picked up along the way, let me fill you in.

Two years ago, my life could be summed up like so:

Inside me lives a skinny woman crying to get out. 
But I can usually shut the bitch up with cookies.

Yup, that would've been me. Only, I didn't just placate her with cookies. Cheeseburgers, French fries, and chocolate shakes were my drugs of choice. I was the Queen of the Drive-Thru Windows, minus the tiara and scepter. And, like any good addict, I had lost the ability to set limits and boundaries for myself.

See, I was a compulsive eater. I didn't eat in response to signs of hunger. I celebrated with food, mourned with food. I used food for pleasure, for comfort, for reward. I turned to food when I was sad, hurt, angry, bored and lonely. I had forgotten that eating had anything to do with being hungry. Food was the glue that held my life together.

So a little over two years ago, I set an intention to change my relationship with food and regain my health and vitality. A big goal, yes, but I was morbidly obese, tipping the scales at 300+ pounds, and plagued by a host of chronic ailments. Still, my intention had little to do with the number on the scale. I wanted to find freedom from mindless compulsive eating, whatever my weight. I wanted to begin living a healthier lifestyle that was more in alignment with my core beliefs.

That Was Then. This Is Now.

I've lost over half of my body weight, and in the process, have found myself.

I've managed to sort out my intimate, and rather complicated, relationship with food.

I've found a healthy balance between getting the nutrition my body needs and enjoying my meals mindfully.

And, I've gotta tell you, eating a plant-based diet, rich in raw living foods, has really helped me do all this.

Sure, it's easy to forget, as we indulge in a Mocha Frappuccino or inhale a burger in the car, that food is energy and it fills more than our stomachs. It feeds our brains, our hearts and our spirits.

It really is all connected. When I began to see that my physical hunger was capable of being fulfilled, I could begin to allow that same possibility for my emotional hunger. Once I learned to nourish my body, I discovered that I was spiritually nourished as well. Imagine.

A Fond Farewell

Ah, the cycle of life...it ebs, and it flows. And sometimes, you get thrown a curve ball, or three. We get shocking news that knocks us off our feet. We have to say goodbye to loved ones who have chosen to move on.

And, well friends, that's just what I need to do now. After much consideration, I've made the decision to let go of In The Raw. It's served as a wonderful venue to chart my progress, share my journey, and more than a few recipes, along the way. But it's also become increasingly difficult for me to keep up and has begun to feel more like a burden and just one more item on my ever-growing Things-To-Do list (an item that keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list).

We're here for joy. If it's not fun, don't do it.

I had someone recently refer to me as "a leader in the raw food community." I dunno, I never thought myself an authority on anything. I was just a voice in the crowd. But I've witnessed too many folks in the community who've just abandoned their blogs, stopped updating, without so much as a goodbye. And I didn't want to do the same.

So before taking my leave, if there's any last wisdom to be gleaned from my journey that I might impart to you, dear readers, it would be this:

Take time each day to tune into your physical body and ask it what it needs. Treat it as a dear friend, rather than your worst enemy, and just as you will find with human beings, you'll receive far more cooperation from that which you love, than that which you hate. Your bodies have an intelligence all their own that if you listen, will tell you exactly what you need on any given day.

Nurture yourself in the same way that you nurture others and bless everything you put into your body to provide you with the nourishment that you need to maintain your health and well being.

Love both the food you eat and the Earth it comes from.

I have loved being a part of your life. Thank you for being a part of mine.


UPDATE: Yikes, my Inbox overfloweth! Yes, I will leave the site up so you will still have access to all of the articles + recipes. Please, enjoy and share.

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08 October 2010

Change Of Season, Change Of Diet

Wow, page views for my Harvest-Inspired Autumn Recipes have been off the charts this week. It makes me happy to know that they're being shared with folks on Twitter and Facebook too. Enjoy!

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Autumn marches on. The days have become shorter (sigh), leaves are turning gold and red, and the air is noticeably chillier. No sign of frost yet, thank goodness. My beloved backyard garden continues to keep me well fed with fresh seasonal produce.

This week the garden gnomes gifted me with another variety of squash. That  big guy up top is a kabocha (kuh-boh-cha), also known as Japanese pumpkin. I had never eaten kabocha prior to last year, but, oh my, it was love at first bite. Its intense yellow-orange flesh is surprisingly sweet and slightly nutty, a perfect addition to round out a hearty stew.

It's around this time of year when I begin adding cooked foods into my diet. During the hot humid days of summer, I have no desire to consume anything heavy or cooked. I walk out the back door and juice my garden each morning, enjoy large meal-sized salads of just-picked veggies, or mono-meals of ripe, juicy melon.

But, taking cues from my own body, when the temperatures start to plummet and days shorten, cooked grains, legumes and veggies beckon. That's really how I prefer to eat: fresh, local, in season, and listening to the innate wisdom of my body.

With my kabocha as inspiration, I incorporated garden-fresh heirloom tomatoes, some local organic sweet corn I had in the freezer, and black-eyed peas into an Indian-flavor stew. In addition to their high protein content, black-eyed peas are an excellent source of potassium and iron — a great choice if you are vegan!

Curried Kabocha Stew
1 1/2 C black eyed peas
2 Tbsp cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric, ground
1 kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 bay leaf
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 C corn kernels
1 1/4 C vegetable broth

1. Place the black-eyed peas into a large bowl or stockpot and submerge in cold water. Allow to soak overnight. The next day, up to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars that cause gas will have dissolved into the soaking water. No toots!

2. After thoroughly rinsing and draining, add the black-eyed peas to a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until peas are soft when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside. (NOTE: if you like your beans mushy – I do not – you'll need to cook them longer.)

4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and soften the onion and garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the curry powder and turmeric.

5. Add the kabocha, bell pepper and bay leaf. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

6. Stir in the tomatoes, corn kernels, black-eyed peas, and vegetable broth. Cover and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes.

Serve warm with a favorite salad. Enjoy!

Do you find that your diet changes with the seasons? How do you prefer to eat when the weather is cooler?

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