Monday, August 24, 2009

Enjoy a Purely Delicious interview with publisher and managing editor Rebecca Carlson + Win a FREE annual subscription to Purely Delicious!

I'm devouring some buckwheat granola and fresh berries while posting this blog interview with publisher and managing editor Rebecca Carlson of Purely Delicious, the only raw foods print publication based in the US.

Because of my passion with raw foods and healing the mind, body, and spirit I reached out to Rebecca because not only of her courageous work in running a magazine publishing business that educates the mainstream about raw foods, but her personal story with raw foods because it validates my belief system and the belief system of so many others that food is truly our medicine.

Purely Delicious brings you fun and educational information and resources about the raw foods diet and lifestyle without the extremism that often goes along with the lifestyle. Its full of raw foods recipes, expert interviews, a teacher and restaurant guide, and of course the alluring and tantalizing photos of living and healing foods.

Enjoy Rebecca's story about healing multiple sclerosis and the challenges and rewards of doing such great work in spreading the message about our health!

NK: As someone who has had health challenges with MS, what has your journey to raw foods been like? How and why did you first start eating raw and what has your experience been like thus far?

RC: That is the number one question that I get asked; that is why I decided to just bite the bullet and write an article about it in the summer '09 issue of Purely Delicious. My journey pretty much started with my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in late 2005. Before my diagnosis, I was completely oblivious to the connection between diet and health. But I knew I didn’t want to inject medicine for the rest of my life, so I decided, against the wishes of my doctor, to explore more holistic and whole-body treatments. It wasn’t until July of 2007 when I was home sick on my couch flipping through channels that I even heard about the concept of raw foods. I found an episode of the Tyra Banks “Diet Wars” and tuned in because I noticed that Jillian from "The Biggest Loser" was on the show. But as I watched, it was Alissa Cohen who caught my attention with what she had to say about raw foods. As I was struggling with depression, fatigue, headaches, migraines, tingling in my legs, etc., I was excited to hear that raw foods might be able to provide me with more energy. That’s exactly what I needed. So I decided to start the 30-day raw challenge on the spot, and in less than a week all of my symptoms had vanished. I felt amazing! I couldn’t believe the changes in my mood, thought clarity, and energy levels. Although I did not experience the huge weight loss numbers that others were experiencing (only nine pounds lost in the first month), I didn’t focus on that because I felt like I had been given a second chance at life. However, when the holidays started to roll around, my enthusiasm was replaced with pangs of feeling like an outsider to all of the fun of social gatherings and traditional foods, etc. I wondered how on earth I was going to manage being raw long term with these feelings. At the same time, I noticed quite a few fairly ugly and judgmental posts by people who were taking a very hard-line approach to the diet basically belittling those who didn’t agree with their beliefs. It was all a bit unsettling to me and a bit of a turnoff. I was sad and frustrated that my friends and family for the most part just weren’t “getting it” and considered the raw diet to be extreme and even unhealthy. I even went back to my small Midwestern hometown to offer a class. Many came to sample the food but would quickly say, “I can’t do this because I can’t give up meat.” So I longed for something more mainstream that could be easily and quickly understood, a tool to help me explain why I was doing what I was doing. I wanted to say that even baby steps were a good thing, you didn’t have to go from one extreme to 100% raw as I had done. That is when my best friend gave me the idea of starting a raw magazine. Next I decided to play around with my 100% status to see if I could successfully add a few things back into my diet without harm. So I adopted more of a 90-100% diet, and to my surprise, everything just clicked. Gone were the cravings, and also gone were the longings for “normalcy.” It just works for our lifestyle.

NK:As a magazine publisher of a raw foods lifestyle publication, what is your vision and your mission for the magazine?

RC: I think I sort of covered this in my previous answer, but my vision is to reach out to the world. Not necessarily the raw, vegan, and vegetarian world -- that is sort of like preaching to the choir. What excites me is the possibility to really change public policy, what is being fed to schoolchildren, nursing-home residents, prisoners, etc. I want to look at the CDC Web site and see obesity and disease rates plummet and know I had a small part in making it happen. I want doctors to think of prescribing food before medicine. And I’d love to see Congress think about spending a few of those dollars on preventative health instead of signing everyone up for a health-care system that is broken before it is even out of the gate. And I want this information to be fun, accessible, and interesting. Ok, yikes, let’s face it -- I want to change the world one bite at a time. LOL.

NK: What are your favorite foods?

RC: The list is ever changing depending upon what is in season -- right now, watermelon, fresh corn, and tomatoes. In the fall, Honeycrisp apples can’t be beat. But, in general, I love spicy foods like tacos or Thai coleslaw. Also, there used to be a chef by the name of Vee in Palm Beach who made the best chocolate torte. Vee, I miss you!

NK: Where do you see the future of the raw foods movement? What type of future do you see for your publication?

RC: There seems to be a shift happening right now away from the 100% stance and towards levitational water, elixirs, wild foods, and superfoods. It’s been a beautiful thing to see. There seems to be a collective embrace of those who are interested. Newbies are encouraged to experiment and gradually make changes. Thankfully, many of the "my way or the highway" ideals are losing ground. I think people are finally realizing that what works for one person may not be a great fit for another, and that’s OK. The future for Purely Delicious will be to hopefully bring the raw message to a more mainstream audience. I am always thrilled when someone says that their husband, father, or co-worker picked it up and enjoyed it. I smile from ear to ear when I hear that.

NK: In the age of digital media, what has your experience been like with a print raw foods publication? What are the challenges and what are the rewards?

RC: Like it or not, digital is where it is at. One of the first things I did when I took over the magazine in 2008 was to conduct a survey. One of the questions I asked was, "Do you prefer digital, print, or both?" Many people said very emphatically that they preferred a print magazine. They like being able to hold it in their hands, at the beach, in the car, on the porch. They spend way too much inside tied to the computer. I have to agree in part. While I enjoy the interactive nature of some things, there is something about snuggling up with a good book or magazine on a rainy day that is quite unique and wonderful. That being said, the reality of it is that it is extremely expensive to produce and mail a magazine. And as advertisers go online bribed by clicks, many magazines just can’t afford to print. That being said, we are closer to the launch of our online version. The challenges are many as I write: design, handle editorial duties, conduct photo shoots, handle prepress and press checks, as well as advertising and fulfillment, etc. What many people don’t realize is, I don’t have a staff, don’t collect a salary, and come from a design rather than editorial background. Luckily, I have been blessed by a few angels in human form like Lisa Testa, Sheree Clark, Elissa Quist, Kari Helton, Scott Brown, Anna Tipps, Matthew Kenney, and Angela Stokes (the list goes on) who seem to just give and give. I love them and simply could not do it without their support. The rewards? Doing something that I believe in and helping people become the best versions of themselves -- what could be a better reward? Everyone deserves to hear this information. I had no idea what I was placing on the end of my fork was killing me.

NK: What do you find to be most challenging on the raw foods diet?
RC: I still find social gatherings, like weddings and Christmas, toughies. It has very little to do with the actual food temptations, but more about being accepted. My family would never knowingly make me feel like an outsider; the exact opposite is true. But there is an internal thing that still happens when the rest of the family sits down to spaghetti and meatballs -- I want to be a part of the circle and feel “normal.” Plus I dislike putting anyone out in order to go out of their way to accommodate me.

NK: What do you find to be the most rewarding on a raw foods diet?

RC: Wow, now that is a question!!! Let me count the ways ... Having beautiful skin (no more breakouts), clear eyes (instead of bloodshot), no symptoms for over two years (like vertigo, migraines, blurry vision, slurred speech, loss of feeling in my legs, weakness, depression, mood-swings, PMS, fatigue), losing excess weight, loving life, not having a cold in over two years, eating more sustainably, etc. etc. etc. Raw is a win-win-win-win-win situation any way you look at it.

NK: Do you find that raw foods brings spiritual awakening to people? If so, how and why?

RC: Yes. The best way to explain it is this: When I eat processed, fried, or sugary foods, my thoughts become cloudy and murky. I don’t sleep as well. I’m tired, moody, and just don’t feel as well mentally or physically. But when I began to eat raw foods, everything improved ... everything. I noticed joy bubbling up from inside and find myself almost giddy at times, like an 8-year old! Out of this joy comes a profound sense of love and gratitude to my Savior Jesus. But I have heard the same feelings expressed from those of other faiths. There is a deepened awareness of our purpose and how we can help or harm others by our actions, choices, and words. It’s like we become hyper aware of the ripple effects caused by our daily choices, such as eating non-organic food, pouring chemicals down the drain, or buying products from non-fairly traded regions. Each action is linked to those around us and, ultimately, our creator and Earth through our conscience. It’s an amazing and peace-giving thing to live what you believe. And it all starts with taking one small step.

NK: What were some of your challenges that you faced when you first started eating raw?

RC: Cravings for coffee and Mexican food. Also stepping foot in Whole Foods for the first shopping trip -- we felt like we had never been in a store before. We had no idea what to buy, what to look for -- we were lost. We were completely overwhelmed; I think it took us over two hours to shop. We didn’t know there was such a thing as raw honey and raw nuts, let alone wheatgrass! Another big learning curve was preparing food. So many of those early meals went right into the trash. One of the best tips for me was to make 1/4th of a recipe the first time. And then tweak to taste. Oh, and the eggplant bacon, yuck. Just skip that one.

NK: What’s on your plate today?

RC: Today I am finishing up the contracts with two magazine distributors, working on an ad and radio spot, contacting writers with fall assignments, working on this interview, shipping orders, writing a thank-you note to my printer, planning an upcoming road trip, finalizing the dates for two September radio interviews, and boxing up magazines to send to a women’s conference. And, of course, checking the Purely Delicious Facebook fan page. On my actual plate? Watermelon with a touch of sea salt. Mmmm.

Thank you Rebecca and thanks for Purely Delicious!

Purely Delicious has all sorts of wonderful articles for those who are new, and not so new to raw foods.

For more information about Purely Delicious, please visit

In my book, The Goddess of Raw Foods, I name ten (10) of the sexiest fruits. Whoever can name the most of what's in my book wins a FREE annual subscription to Purely Delicious. Contest ends Monday, August 31st. We will announce the winner Tuesday, September 1!

You don't have to have a copy of my book to name them, but of course if you do, that helps but here are some hints.

Think tropical, exotic, juicy, red, Brazil, pops in your mouth, a stem, begins with a "P". Hmmm.............. Have Fun!

Leave your answers on the blog page under comments.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Here's my universal health care plan.... What's yours?

Eating raw and living fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, and vegetables.
Drinking coconut water.
Hiking with friends
Smiling at strangers
Laughing with family
Cuddling, snuggling, poking, being silly
Sleeping as long as I want
Playing with my niece
Walking in the morning
Sitting in the sun
Going to the beach
Sweating in the Spa
Drinking green juices
Writing and blogging
Staying away from doctors especially the ones who want to look between your legs every year
Doing the grown folk
Hugging people
Screaming from time to time.......It feels good........You should try it
Shaking my belly
And doing whatever the hell I wanna do and not apologizing for it

What's your universal health care plan?

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Karyn Calabrese, founder and creator of Karyn's Fresh Corner in Chicago was my first introduction to raw foods some 10 years ago when I was an art student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I visited her restaurant for the first time ten years ago after eating salads and drinking fresh green juices for months to clear up some digestive issues that I was having as a result of eating a mostly cooked vegan diet of tofu, tempeh, and seitan.

I remember those ten years ago, when I first walked into Karyn's restaurant and how AMAZED I was at all the wonderful dishes that I could make just using simple and natural ingredients.

You know those moments you get when you feel like a door has been opened for you just when you feel like "is this it?" and you think to yourself like wow, there really is more to this thing called life than what we think it is.

That's what Karyn and all of her great work did for me. It opened a door. And that's what led me to restaurant and catering company, publish my first book, The Goddess of Raw Foods, and continue my work in this raw foods movement.

So I hope you enjoy this interview between Karyn and myself and get some answers to your questions about raw foods.

NK: So many people find it hard to balance their lives in regards to their health. How do you define balance and how do you create balance in your own life as a mother, wife, grandmother, and businesswoman?

KC: I think that the mistake people make is that they are looking for perfection. I allow the flow of my life to manifest what it will. Sometimes I am very strong in the physical, sometimes in the spiritual, sometimes in detoxing and eating right. I allow the ebb and flow of life to happen and have learned to be comfortable with whatever comes my way. Looking for balance instead of perfection is a key factor. Also, as I teach in my classes, it’s important to make yourself number one and everything else will fall into place… you’ll have more energy for your family, more focus in your business, and more health and happiness in your life.

NK:What are some amazing healing stories that you have experienced with clients or with yourself with adopting a raw foods diet?

KC: There have been so many amazing stories over the years. I’ve had clients with dramatic weight loss- up to 100 pounds in 8 months, people who’ve reduced their insulin dependence, balanced their hormones and blood pressure, lowered their cholesterol, healed psoriasis and skin issues. The results are endless. The most amazing thing is that people think when they are diagnosed with something it is a life sentence especially when their doctors can’t give them answers or solutions to their problems. When they come to detox they make a few changes to their diet, add some supplements, basically get back to nature and suddenly their symptoms are going away.

NK: You've seen the raw foods movement grow and you've been at the forefront of it all. How did you do it in terms of having a very long standing business and what future projects are you working on in your business.

KC: I’ve grown my business through education. Giving away as much time and information as possible so people can make better decisions for their bodies. I’ve also stayed very focused on my goals and have always practiced what I preach. People are more likely to believe in your philosophies if you are living proof that they work. Believing in myself and never measuring success through dollars earned have been very important as well.

NK: As a woman of color, how do you see the raw foods movement growing in the African American community? Are African Americans more resistant to it or do you find this to be a misconception?

KC: I would say close to 50% of my clientele is African American. Certainly in the past 5-10 years the raw food movement has been gaining popularity but I haven’t really noticed a trend in any one group over another. I don’t think African Americans are any more resistant that any other group of people. The key for anyone is getting educated about their health and about eating a natural diet. I think that because in many of our cities there tends to be large numbers of African Americans in lower income brackets who don’t have great exposure to this information there is a misconception that they are resistant.

NK: What is your personal story and journey with raw foods?

KC: When I was 27 my mother was diagnosed with cancer. she turned to natural alternatives to try and heal her body but the herbs and juices she tried could not overpower the effects of the chemotherapy. I juiced with my mother and adopted a vegetarian diet and started to notice my skin clearing and my allergies going away. I never started out to be a raw foodist but after meeting Dr. Ann Wigmore, the founder of the raw foods movement in our time and improved my detox methods, my body started to naturally gravitate towards raw foods.

NK: You live in Chicago, how do you stay warm in the winter months eating a raw foods diet?

KC: Once your body finds balance from cleansing and detoxing, you don’t have to try as hard to stay warm (or cool in the summer). The body is more comfortable at any temperature. Remember we are animals and we are supposed to be able to navigate all types of weather in the coats we were born with.

For people just starting out I recommend adding warming spices like ginger and cayenne pepper to foods and also putting a little cayenne in socks and shoes will help.

NK: Did you raise your children on a raw foods diet and if so what challenges did you encounter?

KC: I raised my children vegetarian and then vegan. As teenagers and young adults I allowed them to make their own decisions about their diets. Challenges came when they started school and were influenced by other children and families, but I always rewarded them with time off from school for staying healthy.

NK: Where has the raw foods journey taken you physically and mentally?

KC: It has allowed me to be more emotionally stable and not experience mood swings like so many people. I went through menopause about 10 years ago with no symptoms. I have no commercial medicine in my house, have had no surgery or botox, I haven’t been to a doctor in 38 years (although I don’t recommend that for other people) and most people say I look 10-20 years younger than I am.

NK: What's on your plate today? What do you eat normally on a daily basis?

KC: I’ve been really into my cold milled flax seed lately. I eat it like cereal with just coconut water. Today I also had a sprout salad, an orange and I had a piece of tiramisu from my raw fine dining restaurant.

NK: Do you use supplements?

KC: At times

NK: What would you say to someone who wants to eat more raw foods but is allergic to nuts?

KC: I would say they need to detox their body. Allergies are a condition of poor digestion and years of bad eating habits- they shouldn’t be seen as a sentence for life. In the meantime, start incorporating more raw food into your diet that doesn’t have nuts. These days there are so many options for people with all sorts of specific digestive concerns.

NK: What are some simple raw food dishes that are great for kids?

KC: Nut butters, smoothies, ice cream. The best way to entice kids to eat this way is to give them dessert.

NK: Do you believe food combining aids in digestion?

KC: The only food combining rule that I practice consistently is that I don’t eat melons with anything else because of their short digestion time. My teacher, Dr. Wigmore, believed food combining was most important for those eating a standard American diet. If you are eating raw and supplementing with enzymes, you don’t need to worry about it as much.

NK: And recommendations for people who experience bloating and gas when they first start eating a mostly raw foods diet?

KC: Blend your food into smoothie or soup form. Take lots of Karyn’s Kare Digestive Enzymes, introduce raw foods into your diet as part of a detox program so that your body is cleansing and better able to adjust.

NK: You emphasize that people detox their bodies often. Why do you emphasize this as part of the process of eating raw and what are the benefits to this.

KC: It would be nice if we were only a product of yesterday, today and tomorrow but unless you’ve been eating this way all along, you need to clear out the old stuff that is not serving your body, improve your digestive system and get rid of yeast and mucus that prevents you from absorbing nutrients. Also, we live in a chemicalized world and take in toxicity from so many places, not just our food.

NK: If children eat 100% raw from birth, are there any recommendations for mothers on what essentials to feed them?

KC: Anything that God created. My rule for anyone is if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you shouldn’t be eating it.

NK: What is your take on eating organic vs. conventional?

KC: Organic benefits not only our internal environment but the planet as well. Organic foods have more nutrition than conventional and the farming practices to grow organic preserve our soil. Conventional farming uses man made chemicals that are killing us all. If you aren’t in a position to do all organic, do the best you can and detox regularly.

NK: What do you say to people mostly women who often say that they have gained weight on a raw foods diet? What do you think they are doing to make them gain weight?

KC: They need to detox. Toxicity in the body causes our tissues to hold on to fat cells. Also, people need to listen to their bodies and eat only when they are hungry. The beauty of raw foods is that it takes so little to fill you up and to truly satisfy your body’s nutritional needs. If you eat emotionally, you can still over eat on a raw foods diet.

NK: What quick tips do you have for people who want to transition from eating cooked to raw?

KC: Detox. Transition gradually and find the foods you love to eat so you can stay passionate about eating raw. Meet like minded people that you can share recipes and meals with and so you feel like less of an outsider while the rest of the world goes in the opposite direction.

NK: How can someone incorporate eating raw on a budget?

KC: Learn to make your own food. Attend a few classes, buy books or search the internet for tips and recipes. Network with other people so that you can share recipes and information. I’ve gone through many periods in my life with little resources but have always managed to eat healthy. You can’t afford not to take care of your body.

NK: Any last comments that you may want to share with our readers, please do.

KC: It’s so important not to make food the whole focus of your life and to balance physical, emotional and spiritual aspects as well. Compassion for your fellow humans and service to your planet are more important than I can express. I end all things with, “If you don’t take care of your body the most magnificent machine you’ll ever be given, where will you live.”

Take care!

Love, Karyn