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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Raw Restaurant Review: Euphoria Loves RAWvolution

Type of cuisine served: raw vegan
Location: 2301 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA (map)
This place is located right down the street from the Farmers Market. Main street is a busy little strip with lots of cool little shops to check out. You'll find lots of people walking and riding their bikes around.
Contact: (310) 392-9501
Hours: 11:00am-2:30pm, 5:00pm-8:30pm.

In the morning this is a place where you walk up to the counter, place your order, seat yourself and they will bring your food out to you. It is very casual. There are books and products conveniently placed for you to check out. It has lots of private seating and communal areas to mingle. In the evening, you are seated by a host and the lighting is dim and sexy. I sat on a couch that reminded me of a comfy day bed that had a coffee table in front of it next to an open window. It was set up in a way that invited people to come, sit nearby and strike up a conversation which is exactly what happened.

This can be a bit of a pain if you are not familiar with where to park. Make sure you know all the parking rules. Some places in Santa Monica on Sundays you can park for free, but evidently this was not one of those places. Keep your change on hand if you want to park nearby. While I was inside the restaurant I enjoyed sitting and looking out the window, however not so much when I saw someone giving me a parking ticket...yikes! Better believe I won't make that mistake again.

The restaurant had just opened a few minutes before I arrived since I went just after yoga class and I was looking for a new yummy healthy breakfast spot. I was greeted as soon as I walked in by a young woman who was straightening up the books and retail items. I asked her what to order since it was my first visit. She was friendly and took the time to share her favorites on the menu. I then walked up to the counter where another lovely woman took my order. I was a little confused by the set up since there was a jar for tipping on the counter, but then they brought my food to me. What am I supposed to do? Do I leave a tip in the jar or on the table? I guess it doesn't matter as long as you just tip.

The menu was very simple, black and white. I didn't look over it much since I merely asked what was good. I like trying the popular dishes recommended by the staff whenever I am new to a place.

My Order
Reishi- Shilajit Ormus Tea
I tried the tea according the the recommendations of the two girls working. The tea was served in an over sized mug and had a strong healing flavor, not very sweet at all which is just what you would expect from a medicinal drink. I was fascinated by the tea and went home to look up more information about it's health benefits, especially with ormus in it. Here is what I found about Reishi-Shilajit Ormus Tea. I like knowing why I am drinking or eating a particular meal and what kind of effect will it have on me.

Buckwheat Granola with Tangy Probiotic Coconut Yogurt
Tangy is right, and oh-so creamy. I have never had coconut yogurt and I am inspired to make some at home one of these days. It seemed like a richer version of a dairy based yogurt, or maybe my memory of it since it has been years since I have had dairy based yogurt. I loved the crunchy buckwheat granola, chewy bits of sweet raisins and freshly sliced strawberries which was just enough to slightly sweeten this dish. I probably would have preferred it sweeter, but I enjoyed it tremendously. I even wondered what it would taste like if I had taken miracle fruit beforehand since miracle fruit blocks our sour taste bud sensors temporarily. Just for fun I'll have to go and try it again after sucking on miracle fruit. I bet it would taste like the sweetest yogurt ever.

This was just enough to satisfy my hunger, yet not enough to share.

My order was under $15

I would totally suggest people check this place out and have the items I ordered. I loved that I was getting a healthy dose of probiotics in my yogurt since it is not something I have regularly, nor do I have tea like this. This meal definitely had the intention of health. It was filling without having a sluggish effect on me. I noticed that my digestion was not irritated by the meal which is one of the things I am paying attention to these days. The cleaner my diet becomes I want foods that do not leave me feeling weird afterwards. I like feeling good after I eat and this place definitely did the trick. Again, this is another place I am going to love becoming familiar with as I try all the items on the menu.

I feel good knowing that I am supporting great places that have ethics and health behind it. I prefer to dine in places that are not large chain restaurants that have a ton of ingredients and preservatives that are not focused on feeding me optimal fuel for my body. When you find places that have your best interest and health in mind it is worth supporting them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Raw Food Restaurant Review: Cru

Restaurant: Cru
Type of cuisine served: organic, raw & cooked gluten free vegan (menu)
Location: 1521 Griffith Park Blvd, Los Angeles, CA (map)
Contact: 323-667-1551
Mon-Sat open for lunch 11am-4pm, and dinner 5:30pm-10pm
Sunday brunch 11am-2:30pm, and dinner 5:30pm-10pm.

Cru is a casual restaurant with a nice intimate low key vibe. It's decorated with warm cozy colors and a stained polished concrete floor. The lighting is dim, soft, warm and inviting which had me feeling very comfortable. The seating was simple with a long cushioned bench along the wall with simple sleek chairs across the tables. Each table had a candle votive and simple vase with charming Gerber daisies that my friend couldn't resist putting behind his ear! The restaurant was fresh, clean, and well maintained. Even the bathroom was clean, which always gives me creepy vibes if I go into a restaurant bathroom and it is a wreck. It always leaves me wondering how the kitchen must look behind closed doors. It can be very unsettling, but in this case I was happy to see it was tidy and clean.

We were greeted and seated right away. There are some raw restaurants where the service is less than stellar or the restaurant seems understaffed. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the attentiveness as well as the prompt service. Not only was the food served in a timely manner, but the servers were very approachable and friendly. They really took the time to go over any questions that we had. It was so refreshing.

While overlooking the menu I enjoyed a warm cup of chamomile tea. The menu was easy to read without having too many complicated choices. They keep their menu simple and sweet. My friend and I weren't really hungry at the time, but since we were in the area we decided to get the order to go. We shared the following:

Kale Apple Lime Juice
This approx 12 oz. nourishing juice was very refreshing with a nice subtle sweet, crisp, clean flavor. The ingredient ratios were perfect, not too strong, not too sweet, not too tart, just right.

Deep Green Salad (pictured above)
We ordered the large to share which was a very generous & filling portion. The salad consisted of kale, tomato, avocado, sprouts and sunflower seeds. The chili lime dressing was outstanding. The menu showed that this dish came with sunflower seeds, however ours came with pine nuts which I prefer anyway. I loved the different textures and all the flavors mixed well together.

Asian Noodle Bowl
Kelp noodles topped with sprouts, chopped almonds, radishes, cucumbers and drizzled in the prefect amount of almond, chili sauce. This dish was so good! I really like spicy food so I might have asked for a side of minced jalapeno or some more chili, but to the regular guest it was perfect as it is. I will definitely be back to have this one again and again. No joke I am still thinking about this dish days later!

Pesto Ravioli
I wish I had a photo of this dish, it was truly beautiful. The wrap was made of white, thinly sliced root veggie (I wish I knew what it was, perhaps jicama) stuffed with herbed cashew cheese and topped with a pumpkin seed pesto sauce. It was wonderfully accompanied with a spicy arugula salad. I really savored the flavors in this dish. I suggest you eat this dish really slowly to get the full effect of the herbed cashew cheese!

The portions were so generous that we were able to share all the dishes and even save half of it to enjoy the next day. All the dishes were very filling.

Organic raw food is always going to be a bit pricier than a standard cooked restaurant considering the labor and quality that goes into the food, however the value matched the prices.

One thing this restaurant seems to do well is to let the flavors merry together so that the dishes are full of flavor without seeming like the dishes were rushed. You could tell each dish was made with love and care and isn't that what you want when you go out to eat? BTW, I tend to eat very simple fare (mostly mono foods) most of the time and my tummy can get a bit upset with all the complicated food combinations however I did not experience any "weirdness" with the combinations. Perhaps because we passed on the desserts.

I highly recommend checking Cru out. The only drawback I experienced was parking. We had to walk a short distance to the restaurant, passing a small pack of gated in yapping Chiwawas. ;) but I know that I will definitely be back to try other menu selections. I will definitely have to munch on those amazing Asian noodles again too! This is a place that you can bring raw curious people to as well especially since there are gluten free cooked dishes on the menu as well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Raw Food Recipe: Broccoli Coleslaw Salad w/ Raspberry Vinaigrette

I spent the day recently at Glen Ivy Hot Springs and while I was in the steam room the conversation got onto raw food. (gee, imagine that...) As the group was talking about their different experiences or lack of knowledge on the subject completely, someone shared one of their favorite raw recipes. It was so simple I didn't even need to write it down. I decided to make it and see how I liked it. It was a broccoli salad. Now, I am not a huge fan of raw broccoli, but I knew I had a ton of it in my fridge from last weeks share from my wholesale organic produce buying club. It turned out pretty good so I thought I'd pay it forward. I have no idea what the ratios were so I will post my approximates, and feel free to modify it to your liking.

BTW, I am not a culinary artist or a great photographer, but I thought you'd like to get an idea of what this looks like.

Broccoli Salad
Broccoli (chopped small or food processed) -I used 1 bunch
Dried cranberries -I used one handful
Sunflower seeds- I used 1 handful of walnuts since I was out of sunflower seeds
Apple (chopped or food processed)- I used 2 small apples (one granny smith, one fuji)

Toss with the following dressing

Raspberry Vinaigrette
A couple handfuls of raspberries (mine were frozen from late summer)
2 T lemon juice (I prefer to use lemon or lime rather than vinegar)
1/2 C water
A handful of walnuts (I prefer to use whole foods rather than oil for my fat in dressings)

Blend in the Vita-mix till smooth, toss all ingredients together.

This recipe has a holiday vibe to it with the walnuts, apples, and cranberries. It's crisp, sweet, tart, crunchy and creamy. Plus the broccoli is in season right now so this makes a perfect winter broccoli coleslaw salad.

This recipe is also in alignment with the 80/10/10 diet if you keep your nuts down to a very small quantity, but there is no salt or vinegar or spices that 811'ers tend to steer clear from.

BTW, this keeps really well in a glass storage container if you are traveling, out working or running errands. There is no mixing or messing with putting things together, just a fork and voila!

If you have any variations of this recipe or if you try it, please let me know how you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Are You Living in Your Own Private Prison?

Do you find yourself interacting in fake or pretentious ways?
Do you lie to others?
Do you find yourself being highly criticized and judged?
Are you wrapped up in how others perceive you?
If a camera was running on you 24/7 would you be terrified by what others witnessed in your life?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, you are living in your own private hell. A place of emotional baggage, filled with lies, fear, paranoia, and so forth. One way to gain some insight is to play the mirror game. Meaning what you accuse others of you are guilty of yourself.

Are you judgmental of others?
Judgmental people are afraid of being judged themselves so they deflect the attention off themselves by trying to project it onto others.

Do you have expectations for others to live up to?
People don't let us down, we let ourselves down when we handed our power to something outside of ourselves.

Take Responsibility
We create our own private hell and we are the only ones who can get ourselves out of it. Stop deflecting, dig down into your own murkiness. Once you do, you realize even in your murkiness it is still OK. You are beautiful just as you are, even with body odor and bed head you are still loved and accepted. The true you transcends that, and by being comfortable with your "human-ness" (skankiness and all...LOL) you realize it doesn't take away your value. After all, once you embrace who you really are all the murkiness begins to fall away. Stop giving power to the social paradigm that you are not living up to. No one really does anyway. Take your power back, take responsibility for who you are.

See Your Value
Those layers of thoughts & habits are not who we really are and as we let them go we can shine. We are all divine sparks of God. We are here to do good and how can we shine when we are always hiding? We have a calling to greatness and our spirit is so big that we cannot be held down with such trivial baggage. As we become loving and accepting people, we become a magnet for more love. Imagine living freely, doing exactly what you wanted to do, when you wanted to do it, free of guilt. Imagine that no one would criticize you or judge you. Nothing you could do or say would cause anyone to flee from your life. If you knew no matter what you would be loved, you would be honest. You would feel safe.

Liberate Yourself
There is no need to stress and become uptight, for once we do the mind and body become so tense that we cannot transmit data from the divine and we are literally squeezing the magic out of our experience. RELAX and see the real you. Let go and just be free. Let yourself out of the prison you have been confining yourself to.

Be the Example
If you want openness and honesty from others, you must be that yourself. Once others feel safety in your openness their walls will go down too. As Gandhi said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." Be free, be liberated. Do not look to others to change first, it starts with you. Do not tell others how to be, be an example of what you know to be true and people will flock to you for your insight and guidance. Give them the freedom to be themselves.

Liberate Others
As Marianne Williamson said so beautifully,” As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others." The best way to give back to others is to allow them to be who they are, just how they are. Love them anyway. When you are free, others will be freed in your presence. People will open and share details with you because they know there will be no judgment. None of the silly stuff matters anyway, I remember this quote, "Forever trust in who we are, and nothing else matters". Who knew a little Metallica could be so profound? This song has been running through my head. These lyrics are the real deal. Enjoy!

Share Your Journey
Let your skeletons out of your closet. I did over a year ago when I posted a video called Skeletons in My Closet. I remember being scared to post it. I had no idea what would come of it. Surprisingly, I was greeted with support and compassion. People resonated with my pain and soon the fears and insecurities that once held me down liberated me. I am so thankful I had the courage to do it. It is my desire to be free. As I let go of my silly trivial human-ness may it inspire you to do the same. I wrote out my human-ness in the blog Walking Into Knowingness. It is time to admit, "This is me now, and it is OK. I have a heart of gold and I am working on becoming a better version of myself." It is my dream that by sharing my life publicly that it liberates you to live your life more fully. As Gandhi said, "My life is my message." Let your life be your message as well. Be the spark that you are and shine above all this nonsense. After all, if not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Is Raw Food a Deal Breaker in Relationships?

I am getting into raw eating as a lifestyle, however my boyfriend and maybe soon to be fiance eats nothing but processed food, meat, fast-food. He wants nothing to do with my healthy eating because he is not willing to give up his favorite foods. He is a kind christian man that I adore very much, but could this be a deal breaker down the road? You would think he ate healthy since he is very good looking and in shape, but his hygiene is a different story! I just am scared about getting married and having our views on nutrition completely opposite. What do you think? Thanks, love your videos..just found you today. :)

Thanks for reaching out. Congrats on going raw. You have some valid questions about your BF, but there are two things I'd like to mention. First, is to be the person you want to be, eat how you know you should & want to. You are the shining example. As you own it others will be inspired by you. Second, love people as they are not how you think they will be someday. Keep remembering WHY you are with him and all the things you love & the relationship will flourish. The moment you find lack is when things go wrong. Let people remove themselves from you. You don't need to end the relationship, he will leave if he doesn't resonate with who you are. That's a good thing too, because the real people who love you will stay and embrace your growth, it won't threaten them or the relationship.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Finding Self Worth to Break Old Patterns

Isn't it funny how many times we do something we know we shouldn't be doing, but we do it anyway? Let me give you an example. We know intellectually that a soy chai latte from the Coffee Bean is not the best fuel to put into our bodies, however we drink it anyway. Sometimes we justify drinking it by saying, "Oh.... well...I haven't had one in a really long time." Or even worse we say we deserve it as a treat. How can we say putting something in our bodies with no nutritional value and that depletes us is ever a treat? Ultimately, we know we shouldn't be consuming it, so why do we do it?

As I pondered this I realize it all comes down to realizing our self worth. We will only give ourselves exactly what we feel we deserve. If we hold ourselves in low regard then it is easy to say that it is OK to accept anything less than the best. On the other side, if we hold ourselves in high regard we would only want ourselves to have the best that life has to offer. We wouldn't see something that is less than the best as a treat. We would see it just the opposite way.

Wouldn't it be so nice that one day you wake up and you only crave and desire the things in your life that really fulfill you? Imagine that anything less than the best no longer has any appeal at all. Imagine if someone was right next to you drinking a soy chai latte that it wouldn't even phase you. You wouldn't feel deprived, actually you felt empowered and free that something no longer had an effect on you. You knew that if you wanted it, you could have it, but you just don't. The problem is so simple. All our bad habits and cravings would fall away because they wouldn't be in alignment with how we felt.

If the problem is so simple, then is the solution just as easy? YES! We start seeing ourselves as who we really are underneath all those layers of habits and thoughts. We see the essence and we begin to feel love for all that we are and all that is around us. We give gratitude and love our habits and thoughts for they have taught us and given us contrast for us to grow. We see ourselves as unique aspects of God, and doesn't God deserve the best? God doesn't settle or rationalize. God knows what is best and you do too. You know you are capable of so much. Stop dimming yourself, it is time to shine by doing the things that we know we are deserving and capable of.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are we not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

I couldn't have said it any more beautifully!